The Skeptical Teacher

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

Members of U.S. Congress Refuse to Address Science Debate Questions

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 2, 2012

As I’ve written more than once this election season, there is a big effort by Science Debate 2012 underway to get the U.S. presidential candidates – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – to address questions oriented around science, technology, and engineering as part of their campaign.  Thankfully, both campaigns have agreed to address those questions.

By extension, the Science Debate team decided to expand their effort to include key members of the U.S. Congress, including both the House of Representatives and Senate.  Unfortunately, to date, only two members of Congress have responded to these questions!  Shawn Otto from Science Debate has more on this…

I’m a pretty reasonable guy, but this is stunning to me.  Of the many committee leaders in Congress who deal with the nation’s science policy, just two — Reps Henry Waxman and Chris Van Hollen — have responded to the ScienceDebate questions.  And House Speaker John Boehner’s team has outright declined!

Science drives over half of US economic growth and lies at the center of several of our most critical challenges and opportunities.  Many of the leading science organizations in the United States arrived at a consensus on the Top American Science Questions: Congressional Edition, and the effort is supported by nearly two hundred science organizations and universities, and tens of thousands of individuals, ranging from concerned citizens to Nobel laureates and corporate CEOs.

And yet, members of Congress are ignoring the ScienceDebate questionnaire, submitted to them by Scientific American magazine, or declining to answer any questions about their policy views!

Please contact the following Congress Members’ offices right now and ask them to respond to the ScienceDebate and Scientific American questionnaire immediately.  Be respectful, and tell in your own words why this is important.  Ask them to send their responses back to submit@sciam.com.

Thank you!

Senate

Lamar Alexander: Tennessee (R)—ranking member, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Barbara Boxer: California (D)—chair, Committee on Environment and Public Works

Jim DeMint: South Carolina (R)—member, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchinson is retiring)

Michael Enzi: Wyoming (R)—ranking member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Dianne Feinstein: California (D)—chair, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Tom Harkin: Iowa (D)—chair, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

James Inhofe: Oklahoma (R)—ranking member, Committee on Environment and Public Works

Mitch McConnell: Kentucky (R)—Senate minority leader

Patty Murray: Washington State (D)—member, Committee on the Budget (Chairman Kent Conrad is retiring)

Lisa Murkowski: Alaska (R)—ranking member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Harry Reid: Nevada (D)—Senate majority leader

Pat Roberts: Kansas (R)—ranking member, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Jay Rockefeller: West Virginia (D)—chair, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

Jeff Sessions: Alabama (R)—ranking member, Committee on the Budget

Debbie Stabenow: Michigan (D)—chair, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Ron Wyden: Oregon (D)—member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Chairman Jeff Bingaman is retiring)

House of Representatives

Timothy Bishop: New York State–1 (D)—ranking member, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

John Boehner: Ohio–8 (R)—speaker of the House

Scott Garrett: New Jersey–5 (R)—vice chair, Committee on the Budget (Chair Paul Ryan is the Republican vice presidential candidate)

Bob Gibbs: Ohio–18 (R)—chair, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

Ralph Hall: Texas–4 (R)—chair, Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Doc Hastings: Washington State–4 (R)—chair, Committee on Natural Resources

Eddie Bernice Johnson: Texas–30 (D)—ranking member, Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Frank Lucas: Oklahoma–3 (R)—chair, Committee on Agriculture; member of Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Edward J. Markey: Massachusetts–7 (D)—ranking member, Committee on Natural Resources

John Mica: Florida–7 (R)—chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Nancy Pelosi: California–8 (D)—House minority leader

Best,

-Shawn Otto and the team at ScienceDebate.Org

Folks, we need to change this situation.  These are our elected officials, placed onto committees which decide issues of great scientific, technological, engineering, and educational importance which affect all of our lives.  Most especially if you are a constituent of theirs, please consider contacting the Congressmembers above and tell them you want them to respond to the Science Debate challenge.

8 Responses to “Members of U.S. Congress Refuse to Address Science Debate Questions”

  1. Phil said

    As Neil De Grasse Tyson has noted, most of these politicians are lawyers who have no understanding of science. They couldn’t explain 3 SD if you spotted them 2. They’re scared of actually making a mistake someone could verify instead if an opinion which needs no evidence.

  2. Nancy England said

    Several days ago I contacted 8 congresspersons, talked with their staff members and gave them your message. It doesn’t look like I made any impact if there are still just the 2 members responding. Boy, is it time for a new congress!

  3. [...] The apparent failure to get responses from more than two of over 30 Members of Congress that were asked to submit answers suggests that the only progress the organization is making is in increasing the number of people that fail to respond to their requests.  Organizer Shawn Otto’s continued disbelief at this lack of response comes across as either naïve or disingenuous.  Neither possibility speaks well of him or of ScienceDebate. [...]

  4. colonelqubit said


    Of the many committee leaders in Congress who deal with the nation’s science policy, just two — Reps Henry Waxman and Chris Van Hollen — have responded to the ScienceDebate questions.

    Nifty! Where can we find their responses online? (I’m not counting any congresscritters until they hatch…erm…I mean, provide responses :-)

  5. Skeptic said

    Most of those questions are as political as they are scientific, and (unscientifically) are founded upon implicit assumptions that may not be true. For example, the question regarding the Internet implies that it must be “managed” by government, even though it flourished due to an absence of regulation. Who can blame officials for steering clear of them?

    • Mark said

      I would argue that your view is a cop-out. Why not still answer the questions by re-framing them if one is to think that they are so poorly worded? A well reasoned reply that at least shows some level of critical thought is a step in the right direction while silence is no stepat all

  6. [...] to date, only two members of Congress have responded to the ScienceDebate questions! And House Speaker, GOP Rep. John Boehner outright declined. (See the site, to easily pressure your [...]

  7. [...] quite realize that we have recording devices in this century.  Ah, well. Unfortunately, to date, only two members of Congress have responded to the ScienceDebate questions! And House Speaker, GOP Rep. John Boehner outright declined. (See the site, to easily pressure your [...]

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