Activist Zack Kopplin has been leading the charge against a Louisiana law that helps free up inquiry in science class. True to that anti-inquiry spirit, Zack shut down an attempt at inquiry on Bill Maher’s Real Time.
Here’s the key exchange:
Steve Moore: Is a fed funded two million dollar snail sex study a good idea?
Zack Kopplin: “We’ve been over this Stephen. You’re not a scientist.”
(Laughter. Applause. Let’s go home.)
The problem is not that one non-scientist smacked another non-scientist for being a non-scientist. The problem is not that no one in Maher’s studio knew the purpose of the snail sex study.
The problem is the ominous idea behind Zack’s words: in the world to come, only scientists and other cognoscenti will get to ask science-and-policy questions. The overly curious will be the first to find their backs against the wall.
Peel that onion back further and something else emerges: for whatever reason, some people don’t take kindly to even good faith questioning. Who? Well, tyrants mostly.
Now, not all tyrants enrich uranium for “peaceful” purposes. Some work at the DMV. In a free country nothing defeats a tyrannical temperament or a tyrannical repeal campaign like self-disclosure. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
As a fan of both non-tyranny and the Louisiana law, I sincerely hope Zack goes on a national “You’re Not a Scientist” tour. CNN would be a good place to start:
If Wolf Blitzer won’t take our calls, then I’ll settle for turning “You’re Not a Scientist” into a meme.
Not yet, Zack, not yet. But I say we get things going by brainstorming. Here goes.
Meme Idea 1
TSA: Sir, mid-sized green items go in a small taupe container.
Traveler: Wait. What?
TSA: Sir, you’re not a scientist. Hold your questions please.
TSA: Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to step into the corner.
TSA: Still not a scientist. Full body cavity.
Meme Idea 2
Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Driver: I don’t see a lab coat. You’re not a scientist.
Officer: Got me there. Move along.
Meme Idea 3
Professor: And so we therefore know that Homo sapiens share a common ancestor with coral.
Student: Is mere DNA sequence similarity in certain coding regions of one shared gene enough to establish this conclusion as unchallengeable, or could one reasonably withhold assent for now?
Professor: We’ve been over this. You’re not a scientist. I ask the questions. You write down what I say. And before you ask, yes, this will be on the exam.
Oh, wait. That last one is real.
Postscript: Zack just appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Listen here. This meme thing might happen.