Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Sen. Bamboozled echoes an ex-Charlatan-in-Chief

It is possible that people following GOP Sen. Ron Johnson's relentless obstruction of science along with his his boundless allegiance 

to a President who sought to overthrow the 2020 election might have missed his weekend swerve into science fiction.

No, it was not the first time he looked to the stars and reached a bizarre conclusion

Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says

Also, there's no evidence that Johnson showed up at his party's Wisconsin Dells convention after watching videos of UFOs which is suddenly a thing to do on Capitol Hill.

It seems Johnson decided to dress-and-sum up an attack on his critics with an homage to the 1997 sci-fi film "Contact" - a book by scientist and philosopher Carl Sagan.

The Capital Times reported it this way:  

At WI convention, Ron Johnson calls for GOP to 'take back our culture'

"Our little democracy here, this marvel we call America, is but a blip in time. It’s kind of tiny, it’s kind of insignificant on that scale. But man, is it rare and is it ever precious," he said, alluding to the 1997 film "Contact."

The film was thought-provoking, and lead actor Jodie Foster who played a scientist amid other scientists, was terrific. 

I did a modest search on Google for lines from the film or elsewhere from Sagan which approached Johnson's appropriation; perhaps Team Johnson was referencing Sagan's famous tiny "Pale Blue Dot."

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Or not.

But it's brutally paradoxical that a politician as contemptuous of science as is Johnson - remember that after his convention speech he made this news

Fact check: Sen. Ron Johnson (again) misleads on vaccines and reported deaths

- would try and align himself with a thinker like Carl Sagan who understood precisely why science is valuable and how it should be applied in the public sphere: 

“Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge… It can tell us when we’re being lied to. It provides a mid-course correction to our mistakes.”

And I did find in my Google search a link to something Sagan wrote which points to the place in contemporary politics which Johnson has carved out for himself, to Wisconsin's shame:

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” 

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark 


Laurette McGovern said...

Congratulations, fellow Badgers; we have elected (twice) the official "Dumbest U.S. Senator."

Could anyone prove me wrong?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, here's the WI House delegation tally for the vote directing the Joint Committee on the Library to replace certain statues in the United States Capitol:

Kind, Moore, Pocan and Steil voting YEA.
Fitzgerald and Grothman voting NAY.
Gallagher and Tiffany NOT VOTING.

There were 285 YEAs, 120 NAYs, and 26 not voting.


JB said...

So much for the “courage” of Mike Gallagher. Brian Steil did the right thing. Good for him.