REPOST: Robert F. Kennedy is so weird.

This is a repost from the old ERV. A retrotransposed ERV 😛 I dont trust them staying up at Blogger, and the SEED overlords are letting me have 4 reposts a week, so Im gonna take advantage of that!

Im with Orac. I was pretty grossed out when I read about Robert F. Kenneys potential position as head of the EPA in Obamas administration.


Even though Michael Shermer has… confused me… recently, theres no questioning that ‘Why People Believe Weird Things‘ is a skeptical thinking classic. I especially enjoyed the chapter on ‘Why Smart People Believe Weird Things’– How can someone be a physicist during the day, and a ghost hunter at night? How can someone be a high school social studies teacher, but keep a blog on ‘THE LOST SECRETS OF ATLANTIS!’ during their free time?

Hell, Im even superstitious sometimes– I think if I dont do the same activities every morning in the same order, Arnie will get disgruntled and get into the trash/bookshelf/futon while Im at work.

But an equally interesting question went unanswered in ‘Why People Believe’.

Why do weird people believe smart things?

Im not joking when I look at Creationists like a confused puppy and say “How do you function in the real world?” Do they just randomly accept normal things?

Humans and other primates descended from a common ancestor: NO.
The earth is round: NO… I mean YES.
Its physically possible to boil water to make tea: LET ME CHECK MY BIBLE.

I wondered that very question while watching Robert Kennedy Jrs presentation on campus last week. You all might remember RFK from Respectful Insolence. RFK wrote a good ol fashioned slander piece about the non-existent VACCINES–>AUTISMOMG a couple years ago. Not just the normal stupid anti-vaxer claims– slanderous crap against scientists and the CDC.

So I was interested when I heard RFK was coming to campus (a medical research campus) to speak about global warming. Despite the fact RFK is on the ‘science’ side of climate change, his previous behaviors have clearly established that he is not pro-science. Hell, he is anti-science. So why is he pro-science in the case of global warming? I mean, global warming is in fashion this political season (YAY! As long as it isnt just for show), but is he that shallow?

I dont think RFK is *that* shallow, but he is definitely anti-science.

His presentation on global warming, to scientists, included no science. Lotsa folksy stuff, like how hes just so miffed that he cant eat the fish he catches with his boys cause the lake mercury levels are too high. Cause Jebus Christ told em that he is supposeta take care of the earth (I was treated to a >20 minute sermon, you know how much I enjoyed that). Cuase its good economics to go green!

Well, I agree with two of those three things, but, um, no science.

Except when he urged the audience, several times, to have their hair tested for heavy metals. If he was a woman, he said, his mercury levels are so high he would be at risk for having a baby with autism.

Isnt that special.

Shorter Robert Kennedy Jr–

Only do the right thing when it directly benefits you.

Only do the right thing because an invisible sky pixie will hurt you if you dont.

Only do the right thing because its cost effective.

I guess thats how weird people can occasionally believe smart things?


  1. #1 Paul Lundgren
    November 6, 2008

    And this dweeb is being talked about for a Cabinet-level post, or some shit. I think Obama should make him ambassador to England where he can’t do any real harm.

    Abbie, you’re a Missouri native, right? You’ll enjoy this fact: I killed off a bottle of a fine Missouri red wine Tuesday night. For some reason it felt right to go to bed with a warm glow, you know what I mean?

    Scratch Arnie’s ears for us.

  2. #2 Capital Dan
    November 7, 2008

    I’ve been trying to figure out RFK Jr for quite a while. He changes a lot (which is actually good, I guess), and I’ve not really heard much from him lately on the anti-vax nonsense. So, I get the feeling that he may have learned something and changed his position.

    Of course, I may be wrong. He actually seems to be getting his feet wet and learning things from actual scientists instead of celebrities and talking heads.

    Still, putting him in charge of the EPA simply because he can’t go fishing with his kids is a huge freakin’ mistake. Obama should put a PhD or two in that position instead someone who is nothing more than a famous name.

  3. #3 manigen
    November 7, 2008

    “I think Obama should make him ambassador to England where he can’t do any real harm.”

    Hey now, don’t just send your crazies over here. We’re only a small island; there wouldn’t be room for all of them.

  4. #4 Magnus
    November 7, 2008

    Why did Shermer confuse you?

  5. #5 chris y
    November 7, 2008

    I think Obama should make him ambassador to England where he can’t do any real harm.

    Hey!!! No fair! We haven’t done anything to you since 1813.

  6. #6 Dustin
    November 7, 2008

    Hey!!! No fair! We haven’t done anything to you since 1813.

    Lies. My students have started wearing these, and these, and driving these.

    We will have our revenge.

  7. #7 Jimmy
    November 7, 2008

    RFK has a weird fucking voice. I would not trust him enough to be left alone with my children or in charge of the EPA.

  8. #8 Sili
    November 8, 2008

    RFK jr would fit right in in England. What with Chuckboy being the woomeister extraordinaire.

  9. #9 foxfire
    November 10, 2008

    Well, here is a real justification for Not in my view

    Yeah, Abby, that shallow.

  10. #10 Juniper Shoemaker
    November 10, 2008

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. Here’s a link to a tangentially related article called “There Is No Such Thing as the West Nile Virus”:

    No, it was not authored by RFK. But it was authored by an anti-vaxer. And I am fond of this virologist’s blog, and it just showed up in my Gmail “virology” news feed, and I wanted witnesses. Witnesses, people. Thanks. 🙂

  11. #11 sublunary
    November 10, 2008

    OMG Juniper, that was frightening. From the article -“The claim that there are viruses that cause disease is a fairy tale, like the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause.” It’s not just West Nile being denied, but the entire germ theory of disease! And then they say “You might think that this article is a joke, especially with my bit of sarcasm; this is not a joke. ”

    That hurt my brain. A lot.

  12. #12 Tom G
    November 12, 2008

    Speaking as someone who contracted polio at the age of six before the Sauk vaccine was introduced, I have a question. How, after all their pious denunciations of a conservative war on science can Barack Obama and his team be considering this notorious anti-vaccine crank to lead a key agency like the EPA? RFK Jr. is a truly dangerous individual. That Obama has floated his name is nothing short of obscene. Ill remember this the next time I hear some progressive bloviating about the importance of good science.

  13. #13 Lifewish
    November 18, 2008

    Im not joking when I look at Creationists like a confused puppy and say “How do you function in the real world?” Do they just randomly accept normal things?

    At a guess, I’d say that their creationism is handled by the parts of their brain that deal with interpersonal behaviour rather than those that deal with reality. They might be treating creationism as a way of showing allegiance to their social group, or they might be treating it as a debating point.

    They still believe in it, but in the same way they believe their pastor is a nice guy and their political party is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s a completely different set of mental circuits from their belief that fire is hot.

    If I’m honest, I also treat my atheism as more of a debating point than a point of fact. The difference is, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching myself to recognise when I’m holding an untenable position. I get the impression that most “weird” people simply haven’t coached themselves on this issue.

  14. #14 Ryan
    November 19, 2008

    Its Natural Selection at work Abby. If someone disbelieved in the laws of gravity they would end up dead. But what detrimental effect does disbelief in evolution have on the average person? I mean, it might serve to raise your sexual value to smart girls (It shows you are smart if you accept reality), but it does nothing more.

New comments have been disabled.