Sunday, August 28, 2016

#1711: Larry Hart & Myron Ebell

Larry Hart is the Director of Government Relations for the American Conservative Union, a D.C.-based group that calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation” (they host the CPAC, for instance). We are sure Hart has plenty of crazy views and positions, but his hatred for science is particularly notable. An example: In 2013 a bill to create up to three U.S. Science Laureates was initially considered so non-controversial that it never even got a committee hearing; it nevertheless got squashed after raging wingnuts of various disinformation organizations, such as Hart and his groupd, got to hear about it. In a letter to other conservative organizations and House members, Hart argued that the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases” (a pretty breathtaking example of psychological projection; apparently Hart doesn’t own a mirror – he might be a vampire.) In other words, Hart warned that the science laureate might end up mentioning things like the overwhelming evidence that the earth is warming due to human activity, for instance, and talk about what science actually shows (that would have been sort of the point of the position), and since Hart disagrees with what science shows to be the case, he vehemently opposed giving scientists a platform like this.

Climate change denialist Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute didn’t like the bill either: “There’s no way to make [the bill] work,” said Ebell, since no matter what “[i]t would still give scientists an opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it.” That’s right, scientists must be prevented from speaking out since their research tend to make them draw other conclusions than the ones Ebell is comfortable with. Rather, Ebell – who has a long history of climate change denialism, conspiracy theory mongering and anti-environmentalism – argued that instead of listening to scientists the government needs to listen to big corporations when evaluating matters of science.

Diagnosis: In many ways, the example illustrates current political dynamics pretty well, where delusional extremists who – often without being entirely aware of it – specialize in misinformation manage to derail even the most obviously beneficial and innocuous (and even bipartisan – the bill in question was cosponsored by Lamar Smith, for crying out loud) political moves.

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