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Rush Holt Interview - Congress and Science

I really wish he wasn't retiring, but i have hopes he's not going away entirely.


There is, you know, the "Proxmire Effect" -- referring back to Sen. Proxmire, who used to ridicule serious research that had funny-sounding titles. And you know, he was wrong much more often than he was right. It's true that some research is unproductive. Some of it is even ultimately misleading. But the very idea of peer-reviewed research, you know, research that is guided by the conventions and the practices of the discipline -- and I emphasize the word "discipline" -- and that is chosen and supported by peer review, is very important to our success as a nation ...

Certainly when you have elected representatives ... inventing ideas about a woman's biology ... it's not just that they didn't take sex education classes in school. It's that they're just not grounded in evidence ...

I am not saying that scientists are smarter or wiser than other folks. But there are habits of mind: you know, a deep appreciation of evidence; an ability to deal with probability and statistics, to be alert to cognitive biases and tricks that our minds play on ourselves; ... a willingness to accept tentative conclusions and accept ... the uncertainty of these scientific conclusions -- not as reason for inaction, but a way of finding the best path forward ...

After the electoral errors of 2000 ... Congress passed an election reform bill and pushed ... the voting districts in America toward unverifiable electronic machines ... They were sold a bill of goods, essentially, by the voting machine manufacturers ... No one involved in writing the legislation had bothered to ask ..."What are the results? How do we know that your machine records the results that the people think they're casting?" And it turns out there is no way to audit the machines ...

Just some critical thinking; you wouldn't have to know anything about the software, or about the electronics of the machine, to be able to ask the kinds of questions that any scientist would ask ...

By min | March 6, 2014, 11:48 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science