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July 15, 2018

There's an old saying that you can tell when a politician is lying because his lips are moving. This is highly defamatory of politicians of course, but it seems to be a fact that when a politician's lips are moving and he is talking about science he is speaking either from ignorance or political ideology and expediency. I expressed my concern about this in Australasian Science magazine

Just the facts, ma'am.

One of the nice things about science is that scientific facts are true whether you believe them or not. (I know, there are no "facts" in science, just hypotheses which are strongly supported by all the evidence so far available, but "scientific facts" is a convenient shorthand way of saying this.)

This has not stopped legislators in various parts of the world trying to pass laws which either refute science or simply ignore it.

There was the infamous Bill #246 which came before the Indiana General Assembly in 1846. This is often erroneously said to be an attempt to legislate the value of π, but in fact it was an attempt to legislate that a circle and a square could be drawn with exactly equal areas using only a ruler and compass ("squaring the circle"). The bill didn't mention π, but would have had the effect of requiring π to be exactly equal to 3.2. The bill was defeated by ridicule, and was never actually put to the vote.

The discussion of nonsense continues here.


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