Enlightened Leadership

A brief story in Yahoo News tells us about a Georgia politician headed back to Washington who delivered a sermon to some of his fellow Georgians. The story has the following two paragraphs at the outset that pretty much tell the whole story:

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia Rep. Paul Broun said in videotaped remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell” meant to convince people that they do not need a savior.

The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman’s banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell. Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats.

Setting aside for the moment how this man would know what lies are told in Hell, I must wonder if the founders of this nation ever imagined in their wildest nightmares that the people their descendents would be electing to the highest offices in the land could possibly say such outrageous things in public — or even think them in private? They were wary of “the people” and saw the Senate, which was to be much more carefully elected, as a balance to the House of Representatives (where this fellow holes up) because they were worried that the House alone would not be enlightened enough to keep its sight set on the public good. But I seriously doubt that they could have foreseen this development.

I am aware from reading “the old fart” that only 26% of the Republicans in Congress publicly accept the fact of global warming — which has been confirmed by 97% of the scientific community. The rest, we can infer, deny it. That in itself is deeply disturbing. But in this day and age for a public figure to stand up anywhere but in his own shower and make such outlandish comments as Mr. (excuse me, Dr.) Broun pretty much takes the cake — especially given that Dr. Broun is a high-ranking member of the House Science Committee of which Rep. Todd Akin (of “legitimate rape” fame) is also a member. These men not only reject facts; they reject science itself.

There are things that are debatable. We call them opinions and they are often little more than gut feelings. The TV airwaves are filled with them. We argue about these things all the time in bars and in the stands at football games and it makes for lively times though there’s usually more smoke than fire. Then there are things called facts which we can only deny by looking stupid — such things as the earth goes around the sun (which 1 in 4 Americans deny); that humans came on the scene long after the dinosaurs died out (though 2 out of every 5 high school biology teachers in a recent poll taken in Texas insist they were on the earth at the same time); and that humans evolved from apes, though some humans seem not to be so very evolved. These are facts and denial of facts is a signal to the men in white coats to warm up the van and get the straight-jackets ready.

Science proceeds by a careful method based on empirical observation, the proposal of hypotheses, and the testing of those hypotheses using clinical methods. If the tests do not verify the hypothesis, it is rejected and the scientist starts over. When the scientist has arrived at what he or she regards as a sound theory they publish it in a peer-reviewed journal and it is carefully scrutinized by other scientists all over the world. Not until the procedure is repeated a number of times does the scientific community make the claim that we are now dealing with facts: claims that are true since they can be verified by independent observers anywhere and at any time.

Evolution is no longer debatable.  Global warming is no longer debatable. “Embryology” is simply the study of the development of embryos; it makes no outlandish claims, though it does shore up theories of evolution since ontogeny does seem to recapitulate phylogeny.  Science is not perfect and there have been glitches and false starts in the history of science — such as the phlogiston theory, cold-fusion, and the theories of Ptolemy. But it is the scientific community itself that has disproved these theories, not Georgia politicians:  the theories are no longer regarded as true.

Such is not the case with evolution and global warming. The evidence is overwhelming and even though we may not follow the elaborate procedures of the scientific community in verifying its claims, we are bound to accept them — or risk being called “stupid.”  The constant scrutiny of scientific claims by disinterested members of the scientific community all over the world raises certain claims to the level of accepted truth. This does not give science carte blanche to make any claims it wants: it simply means that when science no longer questions a claim it no longer makes sense to deny it publicly — though what we think in private is our own business.

What is it they say? Some times it is better to keep one’s mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. Especially when you are being videotaped!

20 thoughts on “Enlightened Leadership

  1. “The pit of hell.” Did Dante mention that one? Can’t remember, but if he didn’t, maybe the good doc here is working on a sequel and is floating some ideas. 🙂

  2. But…. This clown WILL win reelection Hugh! So, who are the fools and who will be laughing last?

    Dr. Broun isn’t stupid. He passed State Licensing exams for Pete’s sake. He is one of two things.

    1. Dissociated from reality by repeated, hypnotic, exposure to the culturally sanctioned madness we know as Fundamentalist Christianity.
    2. USING the powerful tool of mass dissociation (as Hitler and most other charismatic leaders throughout history) to depict himself as the champion of the persecuted masses of TRUE believers and patriots. (Saving the souls of the children of his constituents from the clutches of the Devil possessed Atheists)

    Now, the guy isn’t stupid, so, it’s obviously #2.

    What he understands Hugh, and I’m sure you do too, is that you simply don’t talk, or, “reason” a hypnotized/dissociated person out of believing they are a chicken. Trying just makes them “believe” it MORE! They have to WANT to not be hypnotized/dissociated Hugh. That only happens when the shit hits the fan SO BAD that self preservation is seen to be best accomplished by “believing” and constructing a reality that goes in an entirely different direction.

  3. I am stunned, but I guess I should no longer be. I hope the videotape gets as much airplay as possible. We need to shine a spotlight on inanity As you correctly point out this is not disagreeing on a policy matter; this is disregarding fundamental truths. I guess he will question gravity next. I am still working on Romney saying he did not mean what he said on his 47 percent videotape which we all watched and heard, especially when it is consistent with his previous statements and actions. Great, but troubling post. BTG

    • Romney will say it repeatedly until people believe him. They will forget the supporting statements, I expect. I wonder if he isn’t trying to retract the statement so Obama doesn’t bring it up in the debates? Just a thought.


  4. Dr. Broun’s statements also need to be taken in context. Look who he is speaking to…a group of far right wingers who have no room for gays, liberals, non-christians, lesbians or gays, and non-christians. Talk about a narrow minded guy talking to a narrow minded audience.

    Broun is a republican running against a republican, each likely trying to be farther right than the other. Just as Mittens can say or do anything to further his cause, without losing a moment of sleep at night, so can these guys.

    The sad thing is this guy is on the Science committee, like Todd Akin, of the “Legitimate Rape” fame. Is there any reason to not understand why congress is dysfunctional?

    Good post

      • What is the reality of this guys? Barney…Dr. Broun is speaking to a group of Americans… the kind of Americans MOST likely to celebrate the fact that their children will willingly give up their lives to defend America. They ARE NOT crazy! Why should ANY of them lose a moments sleep?

        It really begs the question. Why SHOULDN’T these goobers be on the House Science Committee? Unless you are in favor of closing down all the churches and temples (not to mention the Creation Museum) and DICTATING exactly what reality is, or, isn’t… YOURSELF …. You are shit out of luck in making the case that they shouldn’t be on the committee. Or, do you see America modeling itself after some place like Iran… or something out of a novel by Orwell… or, Huxley?

      • You have a point. I just thought it ironic that these anti-science blokes were on the House Science Committee. No?


      • I don’t see the church setting as the issue, it’s what is being said. The southern baptists, the audience here, are on record against gays, gay marriage, women’s rights, etc etc.

        Hugh is totally correct. Our congress should be appalled that the likes of these two deniers are on the science and technology committees.

      • Sorry Barney, but, I don’t follow you. Are you saying that Southern Baptists deserve no representation in Congress? Because of what they believe? Because they are Southern Baptists?

        Oye what a mess!

  5. I give. Too much disturbing, false, embarrassing, mis-stated, change-my-mind information coming from any and all directions. Have made an appointment with a psychic reader. Am sure they’ll know what-is-what…and will say it eloquently to boot!

    Great words and content, Mr. C.

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