The sophistry of Barack Obama

Jay Cost:

This is from the President's remarks at the National Academy of Science:

At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science. That support for research is somehow a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been.

Who the hell is saying we cannot afford to invest in science? Isn't the real argument about whether we can spend so much more (fully 3% of GDP) on science, and revitalize the economy, and save the banks, and save the Big Three, and spend more on education, and reform health care, and revolutionize the energy sector all at the same time?

I have heard "there are those who say..." from this President quite a bit in the last three months. I think it's time he start naming names. Who are these people who hold such backward-looking, unacceptable positions? If they are elected members of the government, shouldn't the President tell us who they are so we can vote them out? If they are unelected, how is it they have such power?

Or maybe there are no such people, at least not of such relevance they deserve specific mention by the President. Maybe this is just a rhetorical trick designed to make Mr. Obama's position seem like the only one allowed by common sense.

Also, the following seems a bit demagogic, doesn't it?

And if there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it's today.

We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it is not a cause for alarm... But one thing is clear - our capacity to deal with a public health challenge of this sort rests heavily on the work of our scientific and medical community. And this is one more example of why we cannot allow our nation to fall behind.

The swine flu outbreak is a reason to amp up funding for the sciences? This is playing on public fears to advance a political agenda that's only tangentially related to said fears.

And, of course, no presidential address would be complete without a gratuitous shot at his predecessor. Even a speech on science.


It is troubling that so many in the media enjoy this kind of sophistry coming from a liberal. It is not surprising, but it is troubling. It is another form of the politics of fraud as practiced by Democrats. It fits with the dishonest attempt to try to tie swine flue in Mexico with opposition to portions of a bloated bill that purported to be a stimulus. Honest discourse seems to be beyond too many Democrats starting at the top.


  1. A huge state funded behemoth like that would insure that if they wanted to prove there was no more sun they would succeed at will. this is scientific socialism, and they need the right people to tell us what they need us to believe. lysenko couldnt do better starting fresh.

  2. "I have heard 'there are those who say...' from this President quite a bit in the last three months. I think it's time he start naming names. Who are these people who hold such backward-looking, unacceptable positions?"

    It is quite easy to know whom is defined as "those." It is the persons who initiated, supported and implemented the Bush era policies. Obama in this instance is signaling that our country will return to the pro-science worldview that was anathema to Bush, but that guided the presidents for 50 years before Bush.
    There will be several more months before the nation as a whole is tired of hearing this president speak out against what the people see as the failed policies of his predecessor. Otherwise, Obama will have to have a significant failure himself. That has not happened yet.


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