Reality Doesn’t Care Whether You Believe It (Part I)

La La Land isn’t just the title of a movie. Increasingly, it’s where our government officials live.

The Trump administration is debating whether to launch a governmentwide effort to question the science of climate change, an effort that critics say is an attempt to undermine the long-established consensus human activity is fueling the Earth’s rising temperatures.

This effort is being pushed by Scott Pruitt, the truly dangerous Secretary of the EPA, but other administration troglodytes are also involved.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who once described the science behind human-caused climate change as a “contrived phony mess,” also is involved in the effort, two officials said.

At a White House briefing this week, Perry said, “The people who say the science is settled, it’s done — if you don’t believe that you’re a skeptic, a Luddite. I don’t buy that. I don’t think there is — I mean, this is America. Have a conversation. Let’s come out of the shadows of hiding behind your political statements and let’s talk about it. What’s wrong with that? And I’m full well — I can be convinced, but let’s talk about it.”…

Other agencies could include the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA, according to the official, all of which conduct climate research in some capacity.

And then there’s Florida. As CNN reports,

A new Florida law would let anyone in the state challenge, and possibly change, what kids are learning in school.

Any Florida resident can raise concerns about teaching material they find unfit for public school classrooms, according to legislation that went into effect Saturday. The bill was introduced in February by Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, and was signed into law last week after passing with bipartisan support…

Supporters of the law have disputed material presenting global warming and evolution as “reality.” Others found certain reading material to be “pornographic.” And for some, US and world history textbooks seem biased and anti-American.

Impetus for the measure came from a conservative group called “The Florida Citizens’ Alliance.”  That organization  gathered testimony from “at least 25 people” (!) in favor of the legislation, and their reasoning (I use the term loosely) was predictable.

One woman took issue with evolution being taught as a “fact,” arguing that the “vast majority of Americans believe that the world and the beings living on it were created by God as revealed in the Bible.” Another person complained that history classes were making students “subservient” by teaching them about the president’s ability to issue executive orders.

Shades of Trump’s go-to response when his “facts” are challenged:  “a lot of people agree with me.” A lot of people still believe the earth is flat and that aliens landed and are buried in Roswell, New Mexico.

What’s that great Neil DeGrasse Tyson quote? Reality doesn’t care whether you believe it or not…


  1. i believe texas took any form of thomas jefferson out of its history books in schools. after all, we didnt need to know there was a consitution did we?

  2. As my late father-in-law quipped about my late mother-in-law during a large family dinner where she was holding court before their six children, their spouses, and 20 some grandchildren, “Don’t confuse Phyllis with the facts, she’s already made up her mind.”

    They were not an uneducated pair, but rather he was an MD educated at Tulane, and she’d earned her BA in Fine Arts at Bennington College and her MA in Marine Biology from the University of Florida. Refusing to believe established expertise runs the gamut from the well-educated crowd to the high-school dropout crowd.

    As I noted in the July 3 blog post, “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters” author Tom Nichols offers a broad overview of this problematic situation about which Sheila writes today.

    As the new Florida law comes into play we will learn that all opinions are not equally important.

  3. One news report stated the Trump/Putin meeting DURING the G20 conference, was scheduled during the Climate Change discussion. This says much about both “leaders” and that we can expect from the Trump administration no environmental protection; upholding his disbelief of Climate Change and Global Warming. made apparent by his EPA appointment. (Also blatantly obvious by his appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.) We will never know what actually transpired at that meeting unless the Russians filmed or recorded it for release; then we would have to rely on the Russian interpreters for the conversation content. Handshakes are merely repeated photo ops. Sad to say but, I would believe the Russians over Trump in a heartbeat.

    Yesterday I watched a very animated (hyper) White House Reporter (there are so many of them lately) explain that when Trump accuses the media of “fake news” he is not saying the news is not true, that is only his way to state publicly “he doesn’t like it”. Are we to believe that statement or our lying eyes…and ears? Sean Spicer’s “alternative facts” in earlier press conferences which always responded to questions regarding Trump’s overnight “Tweets” was always, “The president’s Tweets speak for themselves.” Alternative facts and Alternate Realities traveled with Trump to Poland and on to the G20 Conference; does anyone believe the other actual national leaders will accept anything Trump says to be worth translating for useful information?

    Personally; I believe they are all (with the exception of Putin) well aware of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s quote, “Reality doesn’t care whether you believe it or not…” and will base their decisions on that premise. They, unlike Trump and Putin, are aware that lives depend on their decisions.

  4. “The Trump Administration is debating whether to launch a government wide effort to question the science of climate change…”
    At least they are having a debate. That’s actually surprising.
    Now, let’s see; who might be involved in such a debate? Pushing to get the government to pour on the lunacy in order to support ancient beliefs that form the magical thinking of the right. Who in the Trump Administration would have his followers rejoicing and “Praising the Lord” if the government officially debunked science, not just environmental science, but all science? Oh, that name is on the tip of my tongue…..

  5. The Tyson quote is actually, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

  6. Good science depends on skepticism, a healthy skepticism. Critical thinking is a core principle in scientific investigation, a principle that is pounded into the heads of every scientist through years of university training, through mountains of literature, and through piles of experimental data. To this end, each scientist is expected to maintain a certain level of skepticism in performing experiments, and indeed, in the practice of science in general. By being skeptical, one eliminates complacency or bias in research, hopefully leading to results that model the real world as closely as possible.

    If a layperson is unable to deal with the healthy skepticism of science and automatically labels healthy skepticism as denial, there’s little the scientific community can do to assuage the layperson’s misgivings. All a layperson can do is be patient and allow the science to dispel all manner of skepticism. If the science is good and is true, it will prove itself beyond any doubts. Be calm and hold on.

  7. JD; my guess is that Neil DeGrasse Tyson has made many more than one comment on this issue to get the same point across.

  8. JoAnn, and upon what do you base your ‘guess’ about Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s prior comments?

  9. Although I abhor the systematic destruction of the education system and the government institutions that can help us with the prospect of survival, the political right is not the only destructive factor in the decline of confidence in science. We may want blame certain politicians, the uneducated and evangelical churches for the decline of science, but, as this piece points out, publicizing unsettled science contributes mightily to the problem. Media colludes with scientists regularly in doing so. We the people create the underlying problem. Too many of us do not want to pay more taxes to fund education and research. When science is not adequately funded by government, we force scientists to spend time chasing their own financial support rather than doing what they were trained to do. This is much like what we have allowed to happen with our politicians. We also make it more likely that research at universities is funded by corporate interests which can and has corrupted scientific research just as corporate money has corrupted our politics. The results in both the scientific and political arenas continue to make America less ‘great.’

  10. BSH; on the fact that he is an intelligent man and knows many words;-) Actually; he has had this conversation many times with many individuals and groups; he would not make this vital comment one time only as if it were of little importance. And I doubt he would attempt to get this message across using the same terminology every time.

  11. JoAnn, my husband is an intelligent man and knows many words 😉 as he completed 4 yrs of high school Latin, but being a skeptic, I would not quote my husband’s words on anything other than ‘how to lay a perfect flap’ in oral surgery. lol

  12. Paul,

    You make a good point. I cringe every time I hear or read some news item that starts out with, “Scientists now think that MAYBE… ”
    Conjecture at its worst.

  13. I think the media is partly to blame for this skepticism. They are still “printing” articles that once said “Coffee is bad” and now “Coffee is good.” I truly believe that is the only reason that uneducated people question any of this science stuff. Especially the right wing media that is pushing the meme that universities are liberal brainwashing buildings.

  14. The strongest climate deniers are actually college educated conservatives, not the less educated. They use their intelligence to find research that supports their socially-determined (not scientifically determined) belief. The problem here is mass segregation, not only by race, but by class and political party.

    If you feel strongly that these facts are important – that our lives depend upon our ability to take action – then you have to find a way to reach out far beyond the folks you know, who think like you. Learn how to talk about climate change. There is a bunch of research on how to talk. If you feel uncomfortable with your level of knowledge, take a free onlince college course through Coursera. (Quick, while we still have the internet.)

    About the media colluding with science … the media has pages and minutes to fill and it looks everywhere for something to fill it with. That’s not the fault of scientists. We can opine that the media is worse today than ever but we have had “yellow journalism” for quite some time.

  15. I’m surprised a bill like you describe wasn’t first initiated in Indiana while Pence was in charge . It is hard to believe that another state might be ahead of us in ultra-conservative fundamentalist religious stupidity.

  16. I’m not putting my faith in it but it’s at least encouraging to know that there are raging conflicts going on among various WH staffers and cabinet heads over these anti-science policies. One that has heated up to white-hot status of late is that of imposing tarriffs on steel imports. Virtually all economists believe this would be a re-enactment of the Smoot-Hawley bill passed in the 30’s and widely credited with turning a bad recession into the Great Depression. However, I’m torn. If the adults prevail in this conflict then it will help The Tweeting Yam avoid a massive political catastrophe – that of tanking the world economy by the 2018 elections and likely the start of impeachment proceedings.

  17. JD: You’re absolutely right about Tyson’s quote! Thanks for bringing the correct statement to our attention.

  18. But… we have Pence visiting NASA and hear his ridiculous speech that Trump will “dominate the heavens under Trump;” and space will be the next American frontier because “we will return our nation to the moon, we will go to Mars, and we will still go further to places that our children’s children can only imagine.” And then… lay our hand on equipment possibly to bless it, even though a sign clearly states not to touch the equipment???? I guess T and P have realized that ignoring climate will destroy our Earth, and we better prepare to find a new planet to dominate. Oh, then again… Trump has yet to appoint an administrator for NASA and funding has been slashed. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing – definitely LaLa Land. Every day it is another embarrassment and concern. So exhausting.

  19. Copied and pasted from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s quotes:

    “… science is not there for you to cherry pick … You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

    Per this web site of Mr. Tyson’s quotes; he has indeed made many comments regarding reality in several different areas, this was the one I opted to post regarding his view on science. Climate Change, Global Warming, environment and evolution are included among the sciences.

  20. What politicians will do to get votes! The accruing numbers show global warming to be a fact and there is no debating of fact – or didn’t used to be before we learned that everything in Trumpworld is negotiable, even facts. When are the Republicans going to get to governing, or do they know how? What’s next, a “debate” as to whether two and two are four? Perhaps in alternative factland it’s five. Kellyanne disputes facts with alternative facts and the problem with that fix is that her alternative facts are also subject to yet another dispute by some bank of fruitcakes to a point to where we are paralyzed and know not what to believe. I will not be drawn into such silly arguments and wastes of time. Let’s get into governing as there are a lot of things in need of legislation other than healthcare and tax “reform” aka tax giveaways to the rich and corporate class.

  21. Leslie,excellent comment.

    There are some that believe everything is the fault of those they deem to be “uneducated”. There are certain individuals among the “liberal left” that hate folks unlike themselves–even if they share the same belief system(s). This is what makes them–those hateful liberals and those College Republicans — so dangerous is they are educated. Hell,Germany was one of the most educated societies when shit hit the fan.

    Yes,the media and our inability to leave our bubbles to enlighten others is a cause for concern as well. Again,great comment(s) and thank you for contributing.

  22. Here’s a well written Guardian article that ties all of these points together under the broad category of the “post truth age”. That’s what this is about William, not education.

    We have let the essential lies of fiction assume the the same credibility as the reality of truth because they are pervasive and entertaining. They make us feel good.

  23. An aversion to reality isn’t exclusive to wingnuts. Yesterday,I got some flak here for stating the Democrat Party has become the party of Evan Bayh and Debbie Wasserman Schwartz. In fact,one contributor would like to silence me.

    It doesn’t matter the audience,people really hate facts in front of them.

    Being critical of the Democrats should not make one persona non grata…..But it does here.

    Btw,here’s an example of how a politico such as Democratic politico Evan Bayh isn’t different at all from Republican Blowhard Ballard. The reality is Democrats are not always the party of wanting to help people. That is the reality.

  24. Oops,too funny. That should read as Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    Apologies to Debbie Wasserman Schwartz! Wherever you are!

  25. William: correct, sir.

    I voted dutifully for Debbie Rodwasserham Clinton, but I think I shall not do so again. Next time the Ds can be the party of FDR or they can pound sand. I would rather vote for Trump and accelerate the coming collapse than continue to vote for GOP-Lite-who are nice to gays and women and don’t like mean words.

  26. Yeah,that link to the sloppy wet kiss to Musk was too much.

    Btw,Americans–both Republican and Democrat– couldn’t care less about indigenous people. They’re only used by political organizations as window-dressing.

    When I would bring up Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous rights activist and Clinton’s involvement in her demise…..I’m met with crickets.

  27. Sure there’s plenty of scientific evidence to support global warming. It’s everything else that’s suspect. There’s no scientific evidence to support the theory that humans are the cause. There’s no scientific evidence to support the theory that we can do anything about it.

    However, if you truly believe that humans are a factor, and you’re serious about pushing for political change that might help, then there’s only one solution: reduce the world population. You can’t have it both ways; you can’t say everyone has a right to reproduce as much and as often as they want, that it’s a “human right”, while at the same time complaining about the impact this endless growth has.

    Sorry, but recycling your cans and bottles, driving a hybrid, etc., will make no difference if the world population goes from 7.5 to 10 to 12 billion. At some point, the numbers will become unsustainable, and disease, famine, and war will do what we can’t seem to do politically. Meanwhile, there are those who would force us all to become city-dwelling insect-eating vegetarians, but are agast at the mere thought of any sort of cap on human reproduction. The largest religion in the world is in fact the church of infinite growth…

    At the very least, even if population controls don’t affect climate change, they will mitigate the harm we do to all the other species.

  28. “There’s no scientific evidence to support the theory that humans are the cause. There’s no scientific evidence to support the theory that we can do anything about it.”

    This is scientifically unsupportable.

  29. ” Perry said, “The people who say the science is settled, it’s done — if you don’t believe that you’re a skeptic, a Luddite…” blah, blah, blah, ad nauseam!
    Well isn’t it interesting to see that many if not all of his associates are at least as inarticulate if not more so then the SCROTUS.

Comments are closed.