The Skeptical Teacher

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

Posts Tagged ‘Senators’

Tell Congress to Support the Darwin Day Resolution!

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 5, 2013

I am pleased to pass on the news that there is a resolution pending before the U.S. Congress to adopt a resolution in favor of Darwin Day!  There is more information available on how to get in touch with your Representative and Senator from the Freedom From Religion Foundation below…

Ask Congress to adopt Darwin Day

February 5, 2013

Continuing the tradition of former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced a resolution designating Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday, Feb. 12, 2013, as Darwin Day. The resolution “recogniz[es] the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.”

Holt was recently quoted in The New York Times as saying, “I hope we can hold hearings, where people can hear about Darwin and science and the jobs it creates, the lives it saves, everything.”

Holt’s resolution touts “the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution,” “the monumental amount of scientific evidence” that supports the theory, and notes that evolution’s “validity … is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics.”

The resolution chastises science-deniers: “the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change” and “the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems.”

Our country faces a crisis of ignorance. To the shame of the United States’ international standing, about half of Americans reject evolution. Globally the United States ranks just above Turkey in public acceptance of evolution. How can we compete in a global, technologically advanced community when a majority of U.S. citizens deny basic reality and embrace creationism?

The voices of science and secularism must be heard. Ask the U.S. House to hold Darwin Day hearings.

Take Action Today!

Contact your U.S. Representative to support the resolution and ask for hearings.  To find out who your representative is, type in your zip code on this website http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ to find your representative. Click on their name to contact them.

If you already know who your representative is, find their contact information on this alphabetical list http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Call, email, fax, write, or Facebook them. Do whatever it takes to be heard!

Contact the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, where the bill was referred, to ask for a hearing.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) http://science.house.gov/contact-us/email-us 2321 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202-225-6371 Fax: 202-226-0113

Thank Darwin Day Sponsors

Take a moment to thank Rep. Holt. Rep. Holt, a nuclear physicist by training, self-identifies as a Quaker and deserves our gratitude for his efforts. Do feel free to identify yourself as a nonbeliever, atheist, etc., so he knows the secular bloc has clout (and good manners)!

Letters: 1214 Longworth HOB Washington DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-5801 Fax: (202) 225-6025 Webform: https://forms.house.gov/holt/webforms/issue_subscribe.htm (Representative Holt will only accept email from residents of New Jersey.)

While you’re at it, thank Holt’s cosponsors (especially if they represent you). They are:

Rep. Michael Honda (CA-17) Rep. Edward Markey (MA-5) Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2) Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25) (If your representative’s name isn’t on this list, ask why not!)

Contact your Senator

Ask your Senator to introduce a Darwin Day resolution, while you’re at it!

Find and contact your U.S. Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Write a letter to the editor

Supporting Darwin Day would make an excellent and timely topic of a letter to the editor to your local or favorite publication. Don’t forget social media and online news comment sections to help spread the word.

Thank you for your activism. Freedom depends on freethinkers, and Darwin Day deserves your support!

Posted in politics, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Health Care Reform Hijacked: Senators Seek Coverage for Alternative “Medicine”

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 29, 2009

Sometimes I just want to bash my head into a wall… remember how recently the results of a massive federal study were published, showing conclusively that over the last decade $2.5 billion was spent studying so-called alternative medicine (i.e. quackery) with the punchline that NO cures were found?

You would think, given this huge mountain of evidence displaying the ineffectiveness of the alt-med sCAM woo, that some people in the government would reconsider funding such useless nonsense.  Think again… alt-med true believer Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa – champion of the now infamous NCCAM woo-factory – has decided to move in exactly the opposite direction, by introducing legislation which would require health insurance companies to cover sCAM woo…

Naturopathic doctors, herbal healers, mind-body specialists, and acupuncturists often have been scorned by the US medical establishment, but growing numbers of Americans are seeking such care, and now an influential group of US senators believes the time has come to embrace an array of alternative therapies.

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is a longtime supporter of nontraditional medicine, is at the forefront of the effort to win insurance coverage for such providers as part of national healthcare legislation.

“It’s time to end the discrimination against alternative healthcare practices,’’ Harkin said at a congressional hearing.

Posted in medical woo, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Final Word on Science Funding in the Stimulus

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 16, 2009

It’s been a good week. It seems that all the rabble rousing done over the last couple of weeks concerning science funding in the economic stimulus package has paid off. Our friends over at Science Debate sent me this email…

Thanks to your efforts and those of other individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. science community, science did not lose out in the final negotiations of the stimulus bill, which passed last night and is expected to be signed by President Obama on Monday.

When it became clear last Friday morning that the Senate was intent on cutting science, and planned to zero out new NSF funding entirely, you spoke up loudly, and by the end of the day many of the proposed cuts had been restored. When it seemed likely that science would get the short end in conference negotiations between the very powerful Senate version of the bill and the more desirable science targets in the House version, you spoke up again, and to some observers’ great surprise, the House version of the science targets won out almost completely, and science got an increase even as many other programs were cut.

While the principles of the stimulus package may be argued, it is clear that U.S. science has taken a small but important step toward being restored to its rightful place in the priorities of America. Thank you for your participation and support in that process.

You can view an analysis of the House, amended Senate, and Final versions of science spending in the bill here.

Thank you! As we said when we began this effort, we do not view Science Debate as a legislative advocacy organization, but that this was an exceptional circumstance where a broad grassroots effort could leverage a positive result.

Looking forward, while we will most certainly take exceptional actions like this in the future, we will be adopting your suggestions and concentrating the majority of our focus on the broad goal of continuing to “restore science to its rightful place” in three ways: championing science debates among policymakers and those running for office; combating the erosion of science and science policy in the media; and new efforts to involve young people in science policy discussions. More later.

I count this as a big win for science in the U.S. But as the Science Debate folks said, it was only possible due to the combined efforts of all of us, not just scientists themselves. Please consider getting more involved with the folks over at Science Debate as they continue to hold our policy makers accountable on issues of scientific importance. As you’ve seen, we can make a difference!

Posted in science funding | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Good News on U.S. Science Funding

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 7, 2009

Win!!! :D Just a quick follow up on my earlier post – Time to Invest in Science. It seems that the campaign launched by our friends at Science Debate may have had some positive effect. I received the following notification from them today in an email…

Well it’s been a long, long day with thousands of , but we are happy to report that your efforts, and those of the rest of the U.S. science and technology community, have paid off in a big way – for the time being.

Senators Nelson, Collins, Lieberman and Specter held a press conference earlier this evening, also crediting Senator Snowe, and followed up by Senate Majority Leader Reid, declaring a compromise bill has been reached on the stimulus package. You can read the exact line items of the bill here in an xls document… This is a terrific $3 billion victory for U.S. Science – thank you!

This bill will be voted on by the full Senate on Monday. It could still fail then. But it reportedly has the strong support of President Obama, and if it passes it will form the (likely strongly prejudiced) basis for conference committee negotiations.

As for justifying why having such science funding increases in the stimulus package is important, the email goes on to say…

we believe scientific research is one of the best investments in stimulating economic growth in both the short and long term that this country can possibly make in a science-dominated global economy. Here are some ways these contemplated amounts are stimulative:

1. Literally ‘shovel ready': the American Physical Society identified billions in ‘shovel ready’ science programs that include immediate construction items associated with science. So, much of what is being targeted as ‘research’ and therefore not stimulative, is in fact direct stimulus for construction and expenditures.

2. Stimulus money for federal science funding agencies will translate into support for thousands of graduate students and postdocs this year and next year, as faculty who get funded hire them. This is a good way to create high quality jobs right away and to invest in the future at the same time. NSF supports over 2,000 institutions and reaches nearly 200,000 researchers, postdoctoral fellows, trainees, teachers, and students every year.

3. Current economic conditions have hit the states particularly hard. Many are experiencing severe budget constraints and growing job losses. In many regions, universities and colleges are the main employer, and the source of economic growth in local and regional economies. Any additional funding targeted to NSF has an immediate and direct effect on high-quality jobs and economic growth across America.

4. A report, for example, from the Council for Chemical Research concludes that a federal investment of $1 billion in R&D funding in the chemical sciences can be leveraged into $40 billion in GNP and 600,000 jobs. NSF is the principal agency that supports research across all disciplines of science and engineering, including the chemical sciences.

Today I’m breathing a sigh of relief. It looks as if this is a victory for science in the United States – it’s about time we had one like this. Btw, just to let you know, the folks over at Science Debate have been critical to getting the word out to the public about these funding issues. If you aren’t already on their email list or a supporter, I strongly encourage you to get involved. As you can see, it can make a difference.

Posted in science funding | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time to Invest in Science

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 6, 2009

There were two recent pieces of news that caught my attention regarding basic scientific research & science education in the United States. Unfortunately, neither of them are good – I’ll deal with them one at a time in their own blog entries.

i want you for science

The first is an email I received about the current wrangling in the U.S. Congress over President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package. It seems that some Senators are proposing to cut a large portion of the proposed increase in science funding in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. You can read the details at this Talking Points Memo link, but here is a brief summary…

NASA exploration $750,000,000 = 50%
NSF $1,402,000,000 = 100%
NOAA $427,000,000 = 34.94%
NIST $218,000,000 = 37.91%
DOE energy efficiency & renewable energy $1,000,000,000 = 38%
DOE office of science $100,000,000 = 100%

Fortunately, the folks over at Science Debate 2008 are making a big stink out of this situation. I think their own words in the email I received say it best

… science and technology are responsible for half of the economic development of the United States since WWII and yet, if current trends hold, some, such as the Business Roundtable, have predicted that 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia within 5 years.

The United States simply MUST renew our investment in the single greatest economic engine this country has ever known. Small federal investments in scientific research have helped produce things like the internet and the transistor that have consistently delivered multi-trillion dollar economies.

So, if you’re as upset as I am about this situation (and you’re a United States citizen), take a moment to contact your Senators and let them know how you feel. Here are some tips, from the Science Debate 2008 folks, about what to say

1. WHAT TO DO: call and email your two U.S. senators. Contact from a constituent on a wonky issue like this will have enormous influence. Calling is better than email, but do both if you can.

Go here to find your Senator, and select your state in the drop down box in the upper right hand corner:
http://www.senate.gov/

Tell them in your own words to reject the reduction
effort in the stimulus bill led by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) when it comes to science.

Note that most Senator’s web pages contain a form (e.g. – CONTACT ME) that you can fill out to contact the Senator. Also, use your own words since identical
messages get rejected by the Senators’ staff. You can adapt language from my previous email or from below, but be sure to personalize it.

2. TALKING POINTS:

A) Science & technology have produced half of the economic growth of the United States since WWII.

B) Spending on basic research is the single greatest economic engine this country has ever known.

C) Funding to federal granting agencies is about as “shovel-ready” a stimulus as you can get. If the granting agencies lower their score thresholds for awards across the board the money will be flowing within months, leading to rapid hiring and increased purchasing from technical service and supply companies that are largely American, and creating thousands of the kinds of high-quality jobs the country needs.

Sending your Senator a quick email may not seem like much, but if enough of us do it, then we can have a huge impact. Remember, if we don’t stand up for U.S. science, who will?

Posted in science funding | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers

%d bloggers like this: