Monday, May 18, 2009

Barton vs Chu: Delusion of the Highest Order

Watch this exchange between Representative Joe Barton and Energy Secretary Chu, on how the oil and gas got under the arctic ocean and into Alaska.

You know the conversation is not going to go well when someone begins as Barton did:

"You're our scientist, so I have one simple question for you..."

In other words, you think you know everything, so you should be able to give me a simple answer to whatever I ask you, because as we all know, every question can be answered with one sentence.

Of course, Chu explains right away that it is a "complicated story" involving hundreds of millions of years of tectonic plate activity, but Barton, brilliant nonscientist that he is, of course thinks he knows what the real answer is:

"Isn't it obvious that at one time it was a lot warmer in Alaska and on the north pole. It wasn't a big pipeline that we created in Texas and shipped it up there and then put it under ground so we could now pump it out and ship it back."

I don't know what's funnier, that a congressman could make such asinine statements, or that he thinks he really nailed Chu with this exchange. A big pipeline? Too bad Chu didn't answer this way:

No, it's not obvious you ignorant hack, that's why we do science, and why scientists study for decades and do painstaking research to discover truths about our world. When we leave it to amateurs like you, we get absurdities like your prehistoric pipeline.

I know it wouldn't be politically palatable, but I can dream can't I?


Ronaldo said...

Giving six seconds to answer a complex question was indeed, umm, bizarre. Was Barton falsely putting crazy ideas like a prehistoric pipeline into Chu’s mind, or was Barton engaging in some facetious rhetoric? It almost sounds like you’re proposing the first option.

“Isn't it obvious that at one time it was a lot warmer in Alaska and on the north pole.”—Barton could’ve possibly made a point about this, if he gave himself more than 3 seconds (and I’m not even sure about that). Instead he drops that point like a hot potato. Just weird.

On a related topic, I found this topic interesting:

ScienceAvenger said...

Barton was trying to get a quotemine for global warming denial. In his goofy view, if he can establish that the earth was once warmer than it is now, then we can reasonably doubt that humans are causing the current warming. It's the same flawed reasoning that leads people to reject AGW because Mars is supposely warming, which is akin to saying "The 10 twinkies a day I eat can't have caused me to be fat, since John is fat and doesn't eat twinkies."

Luke said...

Yes, it was once a warmer in Alaska. It also used to be further south. And the 6th Congressional District was once seafloor, which is why they have a Limestone County.