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Gromotka: Trust the celebrities

BY ADAM GROMOTKA | MARCH 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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“Bill Nye the Science Guy” ran for five years in the mid-90s, but countless ’90s Kids, adults, late millennials, and occasionally lazy science teachers still remember, enjoy, and use the way he invited young minds to think scientifically and explore the world around them. Now, Bill’s back. And he’s been busy. 

Nye recently appeared on “Meet the Press” to debate the issue of climate change with Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. Noting that, according to a NASA survey, 97 percent of climate scientists agree warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activity, the Science Guy stressed the importance of acknowledging trends, acting in a way that would benefit the United States — financially and climatically — and quickly getting such actions in motion.

Blackburn, on the other hand, made little effort to constructively debunk Nye’s argument. Her quasi-logical rebuttals were nothing more than rhetorical tricks and the occasional reference to a single scientist in opposition or “many” biologists, typical political hot air. In fact, her very first move in the debate was to debunk Nye’s credibility, claiming: “… neither [Nye] nor I are a climate scientist.”

Well then, if we can’t trust a well-educated individual — someone representing a staggering majority of the scientific community, someone whose intellectual track record speaks for itself, someone who we used to, and still, entrust with the responsibility of educating our youth — why, to any extent that one could possibility stretch the definition of “logical,” should we trust the decision-making capabilities of a politician whose credentials fall are lesser than Nye’s?

You might be laughing at the idea of trusting a politician. I smirked at the idea halfway through writing that sentence. But let’s pretend for a second that Nye never possessed the intellect to design a part still used in the Boeing 747. The statistics alone should be enough for your average-level critical thinker to acknowledge that yes, something should be done, which brings me to the terrifying conclusion that if a scientific celebrity can’t persuade the bureaucrats on Capitol Hill to act, we’re all screwed.

Another recent example of this refusal to listen was delivered to us on CSPAN late last month. Comedic actor Seth Rogen — who, I was surprised to find out, is an advocate for treating Alzheimer’s — gave an opening speech about the disease in front of an almost empty Senate chamber. As he described it on “Hardball,” a huge majority of representatives failed to show up. Those there failed to pay attention, and some even seemed to be falling asleep. Rogen agrees he’s no expert on the disease, but if a panel of senators won’t give a well-known actor the time of day, to whom will they give it?

I’d like to trust that politicians work in the best interest of the masses they represent. We all would. But it’s becoming more and more evident that big-name political figures, for whatever reason, exist to poke insignificant holes in evidence and get paid to be needlessly difficult. I hope the trend of celebrities using their popularity for progress continues; they reach a huge audience. Imagine, if you will, the good Justin Bieber could do — considering his vast, young, female target audience — if he released a statement speaking out against sexual misconduct. It’s difficult to do, but imagine.


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