Theory Rather Than Fact – South Dakota, Our Latest “Clown State”

We have a new addition to the growing collection of “Clown States” – that growing group of states that have chosen for it’s leadership men and women who’s goal is seemingly the express purpose of devolving their constituencies collective intelligence in one or more important areas of science or law – or both.  I am working on an award, possibly a conical shaped trophy that can be worn as a hat.

Joining Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia and several others is South Dakota, which has just passed a resolution (HCR1009P) on Global Warming.  This is, quite possibly, one of the most ridiculous pieces of legislation to ever garner an official signature.  I sat in front of my computer for an hour this morning wondering where to even begin.

The legislation in question is nothing more than the Global Warming version of the “Teach the Controversy” tripe that has invaded our schools with respect to Evolution, mostly authored by right wing science deniers who, no matter how many times it has been explained, just cannot or will not acknowledge the definition of a scientific theory.  More on that later.

South Dakota’s legislature, or at least enough of them to get a resolution passed, choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that human actions are causing world climate to increase.  They have chosen to instead use their own standards of scientific research which includes a whopping eight years of recorded history, the notion that atmospheric warming in the troposphere is where the majority of warming takes place and completely unsubstantiated claims that “historical climatological data shows without question the earth has gone through trends where the climate was much warmer than in our present age”.

Showing total and complete ignorance, these esteemed elected officials included in their legislation a story about a man named “Erik the Red” and how when he settled Greenland he farmed and raised dairy cattle and that today a vast majority of Greenland is covered by ice sheets, which is, of course, completely irrelevant.

But wait!  There’s more fail!

They further state that “wind events” are causing the polar ice caps to melt. So, the polar ice caps are being ‘blown’ into warmer water currents?  Must be a hell of a breeze…  Also, they put forth the ridiculous notion that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life on earth.  Apparently they believe that all carbon dioxides are created equal.  Must be a god thing.

They have also included in their resolution the assertion that more than 31,000 American scientists signed a petition to President Obama stating:

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, or methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will produce many beneficial effects on the natural plant and animal environments of the earth”

Let’s stop here, for a minute…

31,000 scientists can’t be wrong, right?   Let’s examine what this movement defines as a ‘scientist’.  According to their criteria, any undergraduate science degree is acceptable. Even if it was a Bachelor’s degree you earned 30 years ago and have since spent the last few decades working for McDonald’s, your signature will do just fine to represent as a qualified climatologist.

As to the claim that the list includes over 9000 PhD’s, this organization conveniently does not specify what the doctorates are in.  However, they include such esteemed climatologists as W. Kline Bolton, M.D., who deals with diseases of the kidney, Zhonggang Zeng, PhD, who is a mathematician and famous for his most recent publication on the multiple roots of inexact polynomials and the ever-popular Hug Hougland, who is not only a dentist, but was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.  There also seem to be a lot of dead people on the list.

Moving on…

This wonderful example of legislative toilet paper also states that it has been “resolved by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature urges that instruction in the public schools relating to global warming include that ‘global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact'”

OK, I am terribly sorry, dear readers, but I have to stop here again…

“…a scientific theory rather than a proven fact”   Really?  Seriously?  How many times do we need to explain to these ignoramuses that, as used in science, the word ‘theory’ refers to an explanation based on observation, experimentation and reasoning, and any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts, tested and confirmed, and a fact is something that is supported by unmistakeable evidence. Other ‘theories’ include gravity and relativity.  Perhaps they should try to legislate those, too.  Maybe they can start testing gravity through self-defenestration.

But I digress…

This legislation also stated that there are many things that can effect world weather phenomena, including dynamics that are “climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological”

Thermological? Since that word does not appear in my spell-checker, I decided to Google it.  Turns out that it refers to Thermology, which is a medical science that derives diagnostic indications from highly detailed and sensitive infrared images of the human body, which, of course, has nothing to do with climate change.  A further drill-down into Google did not indicate anything about how body scans can affect world weather patterns.

Astrological?  I was going to discuss this, but my horoscope today advises that I limit my examples of  horse-assery and there is so much more to cover today, including how they claim that the significance and “interrelativity” of these factors is largely speculative.  Speculative, eh?

Their next point claims that the debate on global warming has “subsumed political and philosophical viewpoints which have complicated and prejudiced the scientific investigation of global warming phenomena” and we all know what a prejudiced bunch those pesky scientists are.  The only thing complicating the investigation are people who have little or no understanding of the scientific method or scientific principles crafting legislation on scientific matters using un-scientific data and information garnered from other clueless right-wing nut jobs, mindless infusions of Fox News and watching too many B-movies on the SyFy channel.

To any science deniers who might be reading this and still doubting the complete buffoonery of this legislation, you should know whose opinion really matters.  I suggest you pay attention to the peer review science journals and the National Academies of Sciences, which are like the Supreme Court of science.

The National Academies, which stand in support of the real science on Global Warming, represent Australia, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Switzerland, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Great Britain and the United States.  This represents the cream of the scientific crop of climatologists in 21 countries. They have a clue…

A full explanation with real and verifiable information can be found by clicking here.

Oh, by the way, another helpful tidbit is to note that Exxon Mobil has funded a $10,000.00 bounty for climate denialists and skeptics.  Cha-chinngg!  Maybe you should dig out that Bachelor of Sciences degree in Marketing and add your name to the list.  The money might help you pay off any lingering student loans.

I cannot close out today’s post without at least giving a “Clown State” honorable mention shout-out to Arizona.

Nearly half of the Arizona Legislature wants to force President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate to state officials if he runs for re-election. Nearly HALF.

As it turns out, a state House committee on Tuesday approved a measure which would require presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot in Arizona to submit documents proving they meet the requirements to be president. All 40 co-sponsors are Republicans, comprising 75 percent of the GOP caucus.  Read about it here, here and here.

Because the Republicans need another reason to look stupid…

For those of you reading this who buy into the whole ‘birther’ conspiracy, don your tin-foil hats and visit this topic on Fact Check, Snopes and USA Today. If this does not convince you, then allow me to bid adieu to the few remaining scruples that you possess.

Until next time, when we try to comprehend the idiocy regarding the state of Alabama banning the purchase of dildo’s and bottles of wine with renaissance art on their labels, I will leave you to peruse the rest of the Blog-sphere.

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