November 25, 2012

Why doesn't Rubio know how old Earth is?

When so many branches of science come to the same conclusion, there's no excuse for waffling.


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Staff Photo Illustration/Michael Fisher

But when someone believes in something that is provably false, and then they act on this belief that's when it gets very, very dangerous.

I got a chill when I read Rubio's statements, "I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow."

Perhaps Rubio is unaware that science -- and its sisters, engineering and technology -- are actually the very foundation of our country's economy?

All of our industry, all of our technology, everything that keeps our country functioning at all can be traced back to scientific research and a scientific understanding of the universe.

Cellphones, computers, cars, machinery, medicine, the Internet, manufacturing, communication, agriculture, transportation, on and on all of these industries rely on science to work. Without basic research none of these would exist.

And all of science points to the age of the Earth being much, much older than Rubio intimates. Astronomy, biology, relativity, chemistry, physics, anatomy, sociology, linguistics, cosmology, anthropology, evolutionary science, and especially radiometric dating of rocks all indicate the universe, and our home planet Earth, are far older than any claims of a few thousand years.

The overwhelming consensus is that the Earth is billions of years old. And all of these sciences are the basis of the technology that is our country's lifeblood.

Rubio is exactly and precisely wrong. Science, and how it tells us the age of the Earth, has everything to do with how our economy will grow.

By teaching our kids actual science, we can guarantee the future of this country and its economic growth. By hiding it from them, by equivocating about it with them, by providing false balance between reality and wishful thinking, what we guarantee is a future work force that can't distinguish between what's real and what isn't.

That's a formula for failure. And you don't need to be a scientist to see that.

Phil Plait, creator of the blog Bad Astronomy, is an astronomer, lecturer and author.


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