The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Gov. Jindal’s Prime-Time Stupidity

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 27, 2009

I don’t usually blog about explicitly political topics, but I really feel that a response to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s idiotic anti-scientific comments this last Tuesday is in order. When our leaders, or potential leaders, make blatantly ill-informed statements concerning science, it is most definitely not a time to be quiet.

gov. jindal

To summarize, Gov. Jindal (of Louisiana) was responding to President Obama’s speech on the economy & budget. In his criticism of Obama’s budgetary proposals, Jindal was attempting to point out examples of wasteful government spending. Here’s where he really screwed up…

While some of the projects in the [stimulus] bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes … $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.

What Gov. Jindal is referring to is the U.S. Geologic Survey’s program (called the Volcano Hazards Program) to monitor volcanic activity in the Pacific Northwest as well as in U.S. territories such as areas around U.S. bases in the Pacific Ocean. It has been shown that these monitoring programs are most definitely a good use of resources because they have saved many lives! For a more detailed analysis of why this is the case, check out this post over at FiveThirtyEight.com.

I am stunned at the level of stupidity displayed by the Louisiana Governor’s comments, for two reasons:

1) They display an amazing lack of understanding of the utility in making basic investments in scientific programs and the desire to manipulate science for purely politically ideological reasons.

2) These remarks are an equally amazing exercise in hypocrisy. Gov. Jindal is the leader of a Gulf Coast state which is periodically slammed by monster hurricanes, which are monitored through a scientific network paid for with federal dollars. Perhaps if the Governor wishes to be consistent in his arguments, he should first willingly give up those hurricane tracking stations?

I think I have some idea of why it is that Gov. Jindal used the volcano monitoring stations as an example of “wasteful government spending” – he is a Young-Earth Creationist. We are, after all, talking about the guy who signed the nation’s only creationist “academic freedom” legislation into law. So to see him display a glaring lack of understanding of & respect for geological science isn’t surprising.

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5 Responses to “Gov. Jindal’s Prime-Time Stupidity”

  1. joeland7 said

    Jindal did his best. He was speaking on behalf of all his other fellow Rhodes Scholar and the NWO. He will get better in the future. He will run as president and Rush will be his VP.

  2. internet elias said

    Governor Jindal ‘knows’ what the Volcano monitoring monies are for. He just isn’t allowed, politically, to agree with anything brought to the forefront by the Demos. But that’s alright, too. God is in control of all in the kingdom of man. (Dan.4:17,24). It’s happening only by His permission. And..it’s gonna be ‘awight!’

  3. moose223 said

    I certainly believe in and support free speech, BUT when public, or worse, government leaders propound false scientific information, whether it is their real belief or whether it is deliberately concocted for the purpose of misleading or gaining the support of others who may be hungry for truth or guidance, a grave misdeed occurs.

    The rapid growth of both human population and scientific knowledge, coupled with the decreasing number of young Americans attending places of higher education (as a percentage of total student population) does not bode well for the future of America.

  4. Craig said

    I think this has to be taken in the context it was given – namely, the political arena. To me, this doesn’t sound so much like a dig on science as it a question of “What does volcanic research have to do with economic stimulus?” In this context, I would concede his point that this is “wasteful” in that it is money spent that does nothing toward the legislation’s stated purpose. Monies for scientific research are indeed appropriate, but should be handled separately – not under the guise that they are necessary for economic recovery.

    • mattusmaximus said

      Craig said:

      I think this has to be taken in the context it was given – namely, the political arena. To me, this doesn’t sound so much like a dig on science as it a question of “What does volcanic research have to do with economic stimulus?” In this context, I would concede his point that this is “wasteful” in that it is money spent that does nothing toward the legislation’s stated purpose. Monies for scientific research are indeed appropriate, but should be handled separately – not under the guise that they are necessary for economic recovery.

      I agree with your last point, and if that is all that Gov. Jindal did in his argument then I wouldn’t have had so much a problem with it. However, by making the comments in the manner in which he did, he seemed to be belittling the mere notion of volcano monitoring, which is why I criticized him. Of course, the fact that he’s an anti-scientific nut (young-earth creationist) doesn’t help his case when making such comments, either.

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