The anti-scientists on the House Science Committee
Republican Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia has ignited controversy with his recent remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell."
Broun -- a physician who earned a bachelor's in chemistry from the University of Georgia and a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta -- made the controversial comments in a Sept. 27 speech at a sportsmen's banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Ga.
Adding to the uproar is the fact that Broun (in photo at right) sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
In a video posted on the church's website, Broun said:
"God's word is true. I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
Broun also told the gathering that the Earth is only about 9,000 years ago was created by God in six days. Such beliefs are held by fundamentalist Christians who maintain the creation accounts in the Bible are literally true. That puts them at odds with scientists who say the earth was formed approximately 4.54 billion years ago.
Broun has also dismissed climate change as nothing but a "hoax" that has been "perpetrated out of the scientific community."
But he's not the only member of the House Science Committee who has expressed anti-scientific views. Here are some other committee members who are at odds with the scientific mainstream -- and they're not all fundamentalist Christians from the South.
Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas)
Like a large majority of his fellow Congressional Republicans, Hall does not believe in human-caused global warming. In an interview with National Journal last year, Hall was asked about climate change and said, "I don't think we can control what God controls." He also said he agrees with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) that climate scientists are involved in a conspiracy to receive research funding. When the reporter noted that a survey published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 97 percent of climate-science researchers agree that human activities have contributed to global warming, Hall responded, "And they get $5,000 for every report like that they give out," adding, "I don't have any proof of that. But I don't believe 'em." Hall is a Methodist and holds a law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Vice Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)
Sensenbrenner is another climate science contrarian. In a 2009 interview with a conservative talk radio host, he claimed that science on global warming is "inconclusive." He also asserted that "temperatures peaked out globally in 1998," when in fact nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since 2000, according to NASA. Sensenbrenner has said he believes solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles that anything humans do, even though scientists have found changes in solar brightness are too weak to explain changes in the earth's climate. A millionaire whose fortune comes from his great-grandfather's invention of the Kotex sanitary pad, Sensenbrenner has holdings in oil companies that have been valued at somewhere between $1.1 million and $1.7 million. An Anglican Catholic, Sensenbrenner holds a bachelor's in political science from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.)
Currently challenging incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat, Akin sparked outrage this past August when he stated that women who are victims of what he called "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. "If it's legitimate rape," he said in an interview with a St. Louis television station, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." In fact, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that women are less likely to get pregnant from rape than from consensual sex. A Presbyterian, Akin holds a bachelor's in engineering from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and a master of divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution in St. Louis.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
Another climate contrarian on the House Science Committee, Rohrabacher has made a number of scientifically questionable statements, including the idea that an earlier period of global warming may have been caused by "dinosaur flatulence." Last year, after coming under fire for seeming to suggest that if global warming is real it could be addressed by cutting down trees (when in fact forests reduce global warming by absorbing atmospheric carbon), he issued a statement saying, "I do not believe that CO2 is a cause of global warming." That belief is at odds with most scientists, who agree that carbon dioxide is one of the primary greenhouse gases that trap heat in earth's atmosphere. Rohrabacher holds a bachelor's in history from California State University, Long Beach and a master's in American Studies from the University of Southern California. He's a Baptist.
Sue is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.