Rick Santorum Perfectly Showcases Just How Ignorant Republicans Are About Science

rick-santorum-facepalmWhile I wouldn’t call it an uncommon topic, I still don’t feel climate change is on the forefront of nearly as many discussions as it should be. Climate change is one of the most important issues we face, not only in this country, but across the entire planet. If our planet becomes uninhabitable, it doesn’t matter what country someone lives in – we’re all equally screwed.


That being said, the biggest obstacle we face in this country as it relates to climate change is dealing with Republicans who believe it’s all just one big liberal hoax. We’ve all seen these folks; these are the same people who think snow proves the planet isn’t warming. They’re also the people who say stupid things like “let’s leave the science to the scientists,” while doubting the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is being escalated by humans.

Well, Republican anti-climate change idiocy was put on display during a recent back and forth between GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Bill Maher. During this exchange, Santorum tried claiming that only 57 percent of scientists support the belief that humans are causing climate change, a statement that clearly infuriated Maher.

Even as I heard his statement, I knew that Santorum was, as Maher so eloquently put it, “pulling it out of his ass.” So I went online and found exactly one survey that seemed to match his numbers. Except, it wasn’t a survey at all – just an interpretation of one. Unsure if this was the exact “study” Santorum cited, I didn’t dig much deeper into it.

Thankfully, Politifact did and confirmed what Maher obviously thought that night: Santorum is full of crap.

In fact, the survey he cited actually proves that the vast majority of scientists (95-99% – as most liberals accurately cite) support the scientific evidence linking human activity to climate change:

“This is like something out of that book, How to Lie With Statistics,” said Stephen Farnsworth, who studies climate change and political communication at the University of Mary Washington. “What we’re talking about here is extraordinary cherry-picking. You’re only counting one question in one survey, and you’re talking about a very high (confidence level). Once you start stacking up numbers like this, you’re really distorting the real finding of this research. (Source)

By “confidence level,” Farnsworth is referring to the answer given by scientists indicating that they’re 95 percent certain humans are causing climate change.


Not only that, but Santorum also tried to claim that the “97 percent” number used by those of us who understand how serious climate change is was also a liberal lie – except, once again, he was completely wrong. Just like in his first claim, he misread a survey and either just didn’t understand what it was he was reading or he just blatantly lied on Maher’s show.

This whole exchanged exemplified Republican ignorance on climate change. Even when Santorum had time to prepare, and all the resources in the world to “prove climate change wrong,” the best he could come up with was an inaccurate reading of a survey that actually proves the vast majority of the world’s scientists believe humans are causing climate change.

Maybe it’s time Rick Santorum takes his own advice and starts listening to the scientists.



Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Jeffrey Dumaine

    Except, he doesn’t want to “listen” to the scientists, he wants to “leave” these issues to the scientists, in effect, ignoring them.

  • Brewmeister

    These idiots don’t care because they believe the Rapture will take them before things go bad. We’re in deep doo-doo.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2015/09/03/ice_loss_greenland_and_antarctica_lost_5_trillion_tons_since_1992.html

    • Catholics dont believe in the Rapture

  • Jazzenjohn

    Are there any other areas of science where truth is determined by polling scientists? What percentage of scientists believe in the Big Bang theory? I don’t think it’s 100%. Are the rest shunned or chastised if they don’t believe in it? What percentage of scientists believe in String Theory? Are the studies by those scientists denied publication because other more influential scientists disagree with them?

    Why do the terminologies keep changing? There is Anthropogenic Global Warming, AGW. That says that A) The climate is warming, and B) it’s humans that are the predominant cause of it. There is Global Warming, which says the global climate is warming, but the term Global Warming doesn’t specifically attribute the cause to humans at all. Most recently is Climate Change, which says essentially Nothing At All, since it neither specifies the climate is warming nor that it is cooling, only that it is changing. It also doesn’t specify that humans have anything to do with whatever it is doing either. The climate has been changing since the beginning of time itself rendering that statement as meaningful and relevant as saying “What is”.

    • Creeayshun Sighuntist

      Another thing climate change deniers try to do is either change the subject or pretend like there is not a mountain of evidence that proves global temperatures are rapidly rising. They might try to pin the blame on other nations and say we aren’t at even partially to blame or that we have no control over it at all. Maybe they even blame pigs or cows. Those people do not believe in peer reviewed science and generally think that some higher power controls everything anyway but try to play ‘word jumble’ in a lame attempt to obfuscate.

      • Pipercat

        A whole paragraph dedicated to the conditional statement. He should get a cookie for best straw man of the week.

      • Marty Holden

        it’s not a straw man if we know who THEY refers to. Conservatives in general, Deniers in particular.

      • Pipercat

        Classic straw man. The first paragraph is the switch which doesn’t address the science but makes it about the scientists. The second paragraph is the conditional statement and the rest is the argument that has nothing to do with the issue at hand; but, is far easier to argue than countering the scientific consensus.

      • Pipercat

        Hello Kitty

    • DM

      The terminology keeps changing because the earth isn’t always cooperating with the global warming alarmists’ predictions. Ice age in the 70’s, then warming in the 80-90’s, now no warming in the last 18 years. Ice caps should be gone by now, snow is a thing of the past in England, hurricanes aren’t getting worse as was predicted. They have to use a catch-all phrase to cover all possible scenarios.

      • Marty Holden

        the no warming in 18 years is crap and an example of bad science.

      • DM

        Wrong.

      • Nancy B

        The terminology hasn’t changed in decades. The ice age predicted in the ’70’s was a product of Time, and then Newsweek, magazines taking a segment from a scientific paper they didn’t understand (or chose not to) out of context. Scientists tried to clear up the misinformation, but the cat was already out of the bag. The “no warming in xx years” has been debunked. I don’t know who told you the ice caps would be gone by now. I haven’t seen any scientist say that. But the earth is losing ice steadily, and at an alarming rate.

        The really bad hurricanes aren’t predicted for another degree or two. The reason you have not seen major Atlantic hurricanes in the last few years are because of a strong El Nino, higher wind shear, and strong Sahara sand storms. Who’s to say those aren’t driven by global warming? Oh, and there were 3 Cat 4 hurricanes in the Pacific at the same time, a week or so ago.

      • DM

        Just about every point you make is wrong.

        The ice age in the 70’s was a product of Times going with what the climate scientists of the day were predicting. Do you think it was all made up my the Time editors??

        “The really bad hurricanes aren’t predicted for another degree or two. The reason you have not seen major Atlantic hurricanes in the last few years are because of a strong El Nino, higher wind shear, and strong Sahara sand storms.”

        I don’t know what you mean by a degree or two. Nevertheless, the climate “experts” were WRONG! Your blaming it on El Nino is just more proof that things can happen that aren’t predicted by “experts”. So why should you believe any of the other nonsense they predict?

        There is irrefutable evidence that there has been no warming in the past 18+ years.

        The earth is not losing ice at an alarming rate. The antarctic ice is at record levels and the polar ice cap is holding steady. Climate expert and multi-award winner Al Gore told us that the polar ice cap would be totally gone by now.

      • Nancy B

        Sorry, you are wrong about the ’70’s I was a journalism major at the time and one of my profs used it as a case study on how to screw up a story by not researching and not understanding your topic. We read the paper where this was mentioned as an aside, as a remote possibility, and read the scientists’ attempts to clarify.

        I’m referring to Celsius degree of global warming. If you really knew the subject you were talking about, you wouldn’t have had to wonder. Notice I indicated several reasons for the current weak tropical systems, and you singled out one. It is indeed mostly the effects of a very strong (and possibly soon prolonged) El Nino keeping them down at the moment, as well as causing severe drought in the Caribbean. We’ve also had an exceptionally large and lenghty Saharan dust layer this year. I live in the Caribbean and was cleaning the red dust off of my screens, furniture and cars for months.

        It’s interesting that you proclaim the science experts being wrong (No need to shout. It doesn’t make you right), when the model predictions are for a future time and global temperature. And no matter how many times you repeat it, the 18-year-global-temp-not-increasing-so-there-is-no-global-warming argument, that doesn’t make it true either. It’s not a logical argument anyway, as no scientist is going to assume no cyclical anomalies will occur. Global warming slowed during that blip. But it still increased. Ever hear of Pacific Decadal Oscillation? Just one of the possible causes for the slowdown.

        The earth is, indeed, steadily losing ice volume. Again, you are not informed enough to know the difference between ice shelves and caps, and seasonal vs long-term polar ice changes. You also haven’t been paying attention to glacier loss. So I’m pretty much wasting my time here, until you are willing to do some more research instead of spouting change denier factoids.

        Oh, and for your information, Al Gore is no more a climate “expert” than Gwyneth Paltrow is a gastroenterologist. We owe him a debt of gratitude for publicizing the issue, but no more. The fact that you use him in a climate change argument after all these years (let alone call him an expert) shows how far in the dark you are on the subject.

      • DM

        “I’m referring to Celsius degree of global warming. If you really knew the subject you were talking about, you wouldn’t have had to wonder.”

        If you were referring to that, why don’t you write complete sentences with real meaning and I wouldn’t have had to wonder what you meant. Also, I’ve never heard anyone say that the hurricanes will be worse in couple of degrees (scientists don’t talk that way, which is another reason I didn’t understand your meaning). The alarmist “experts” were exploiting the fears of the American public after Katrina and claiming more hurricanes and more severe hurricanes are coming. They were VERY wrong and that results in alarmists making excuses to explain why they were wrong. (caps are for emphasis, not shouting)

        Hence, your “Notice I indicated several reasons for the current weak tropical systems, and you singled out one.”

        I was being kind in only mentioning only one of your excuses. Your insisting on 3 excuses only means the “experts” didn’t see 3 conditions coming, so 3 times as bad. But were supposed to believe they know what will happen, for sure, in 100 years and we must take drastic action to stop it.

        “The earth is, indeed, steadily losing ice volume.”

        Have you heard the good news? Antarctic ice is at all time high level!

        I know Gore isn’t an expert (that was sarcasm). He is the god of GW alarmism, however, and is more responsible for spreading the GW hoax than any scientist could. Even you, an apparent climate expert, glorify this charlatan.

        Regarding the GW being on vacation — some say yes, some say no. More evidence no one can say for sure what will happen. And of course, we have the NOAA thermometers located over black top surfaces, exhaust fans, etc. Plus the necessity of the NOAA having to adjust historical temps to ensure the GW alarmist agenda is maintained. It’s all based on nonsense.

      • Nancy B

        “Also, I’ve never heard anyone say that the hurricanes will be worse in couple of degrees”. No, you probably never have, and that was kind of my point. Scientists speak of global warming in terms of degrees Celsius. That you haven’t caught on to that simple concept speaks volumes. about your credibility on the subject.

        I was not using excuses to explain the current lack of subtropic disturbance. I was listing causes. Short term patterns rarely have anything to do with long-term climate change predictions.

        The fact that you spout the standard Antarctic ice denier chant, as a response to the quantifiable statement about global ice loss, tells me all I need to know. You haven’t done the research needed to carry on an intelligent conversation on this subject. As I said previously, I’m wasting my time. Done here.

      • DM

        Your imagined intellectual superiority is typical of alarmists. Please give me a quote from a climate scientist that refers to hurricanes getting stronger and more numerous “in a couple of degrees”. I’ll wait here for your source. *

        Your listing “causes” to explain why “expert” predictions don’t happen is what we call “excuses”.

        Here’s another “standard denier chant” about the record Antarctic sea ice (That you haven’t heard of this common-knowledge fact speaks volumes about your credibility on the subject.):
        “Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s.”

        That was from Sep 2014 and from world renown climate denier NASA. Are they also beneath your ability to carry on an intelligent conversation? I’ll wait here for your answer. *

        * This is sarcasm. I know with your superior knowledge of climate science you may come up with more excuses, but no actual facts. And I don’t really expect you to be able to answer.

      • Nancy B

        See? Here are the problems with your responses:

        “A couple of degrees” was my paraphrasing model predictions. I would have to go back and search for specifics, but you don’t want to hear them, and won’t try to look them up yourself. You’re the one who made the statement about hurricanes in the first place. It’s up to you to cite your source first.

        You failed to refute my statement on hurricanes, preferring a general put-down, instead. My explanations of the current causes are just that. They are not excuses for CC predictions not coming true, because those predictions aren’t even supposed to have happened yet.

        Your Antarctic statement is a red herring. I’m well aware of the expansion. You’re cherry picking NASA’s writings to support your own biased agenda, and the denier chant. Since you consider them a reliable source to cite, my suggestion would be to delve into their site, which details the global ice loss, and explains that the total level of pole ice is decreasing, as well as theories for the expansion.

        You’re resorting to ad hominem attacks, because you can’t support your statements. I’m no expert. I just read a lot. I have no clue if I’m smarter than you or not. Maybe I’m just more motivated to learn the facts, or have more time to do so.

        These responses are the reason people like me often abandon discussion on this topic, We encounter people like you, who can’t, or won’t, go beyond the denier talking points. We are, in general, gluttons for punishment, because every once in a while, we encounter people who have done their homework on the subject and can provide challenging debate.

        The truth is out there. But I’m not your mom, so you’ll have to look it up yourself, if you are interested in more than denier talking points.

      • DM

        Thanks for toning down the “I’m brilliant and you’re stupid” theme somewhat. As you say, your not an expert in this field and neither am I. The difference is that you believe “experts'” predictions that are routinely wrong. I think logically. If someone continues to tell be something dire is going to happen and it doesn’t, I am no longer a believer.

        You have your alarmist talking points and I have my denial talking points. This doesn’t mean your smarter than I, or vice versa. I can just as easily say to you: “The truth is out there. But I’m not your dad, so you’ll have to look it up yourself, if you are interested in more than alarmist talking points.” See how useless (and childish) these comments are?

        While I was searching for any scientific prediction of hurricanes getting stronger in a couple of degrees, I did find this from May 2013:

        ” On Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its annual outlook on the summer Atlantic hurricane season—and it is not good. Technically it will be “active or extremely active,” which is fine if you’re talking about a workout session, and less good if you’re projecting how many potentially devastating tropical storms will hit the U.S. mainland.”

        http://science.time.com/2013/05/24/tornadoes-were-just-the-beginning-this-hurricane-season-is-going-to-be-stormy/

        Then, at the end of the horrible 2013 hurricane season, we have this from Weather.com:

        “The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season ended with something that hasn’t happened in 45 years. No hurricanes were rated Category 2 or greater in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico, the first year without a Category 2or stronger hurricane in the Atlantic basin since 1968. The season’s lone two hurricanes, Humberto and Ingrid, only reached Category 1 strength.”

        http://www.weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/hurricane-season-2013-numbers-20131025#/1

        Can you at least admit that deniers have a point when we hear all these wildly bad predictions by supposed authorities?

        Here’s a source for the no warming since 2000. Key excerpt:

        ““Global Warming” has not been global and has not set regional records. . . where warming has occurred. For example, over the last fifty years, while the Arctic has warmed, the tropical oceans had a flat trend and the Antarctic cooled slightly.

        The most significant warming during this period occurred in the Northern Hemisphere,north of the tropics but that ceased over the last 15 years or more. Also, as the figure below shows, over the last 130 years the decade of the 1930’s still has the most U.S. State High Temperatures records. And, over the past 50 years, there were more newState Record Lows set than Record Highs. In fact, roughly 70% of the current StateRecord Highs were set prior to 1940.

        http://www.scribd.com/doc/224538945/NCA-Rebuttal

        As a finishing touch, here is the nonsense from the 70’s coming ice age:

        “On April 28, 1975, Newsweek wrote an article stating:

        Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

    • Marty Holden

      the difference in terms is an invention of the press to dumb the concept down to the masses. The official Name of the phenom. is Anthropogenic Climate Change. Scientist that disagree with the majority can get published the Proof they write hold up to peer review scrutiny. And some that don’t. The problem deniers have consistently faced, is it almost never holds up unless they fudge the numbers, and those are usually discovered and the paper withdrawn. If you really want to find out about What is being done, what can be done, and what the progress on climate change needs to be, read the UN report. It should leave you with no doubt in your mind.

      • Jazzenjohn

        I don’t see AGCC used very much Marty, I have seen AGW. Peer review has taken quite a few hits lately with many completely fake papers being published. I agree with the concept of peer review, just that lately it has been poor, and some of the big names in Climate change, like Michael Mann, have written they will intentionally try to subvert the process as revealed in the Climategate emails. I’ve read enough of the IPCC reports to convince me they are little more than junk science. The real climate research, such as gathering data from ice cores, Is true and duplicable and verifiable. Once it goes to the IPCC though, it is turned into fodder for their reports. There is no simple test to prove humans are making the climate change, all they are doing is saying humans caused an increase in CO2 and that CO2 makes the climate hotter. Few things are really that simplistic. If it was as simplistic as they claim then why has atmospheric temps flattened while CO2 increased for the last 2 decades? When their models fail as spectacularly as climate alarmists models have, a true scientist would re-examine the hypothesis, instead they claim greater and greater certainty. The last IPCC Synthesis report claimed 95% certainty while their projections failed miserably. If you can’t make a model that accurately describes something, you really don’t understand that thing. Climate alarmists don’t understand enough to make a good prediction. They don’t know really know how much is CO2, Ozone, Trees, The Sun, Oceanic cycles, Orbital fluctuations, or something else.

    • Nancy B

      The term “climate change” is used to describe long-term trend effects, such as wind and ocean current pattern changes, global warming, and more. Right now it’s being used to define the changes we are seeing during this current trend. So it actually does mean something. Global warming is used to describe the increase of earth’s surface temperature. Both terms have been around for decades.

      Also, the scientific consensus wasn’t decided by polling. it was decided by years of peer review and challenges. The polling just solidifies the overwhelming numbers of climate scientists who agree that man is most likely causing global warming and its effects on climate change.

  • FD Brian

    if you asked 100 doctors and 97 of them said yes and the other 3 said no, would you start taking chemo immediately or wait until you die of it?

    • MatthewTanner

      You’re missing the point. The 97% confidence level has nothing to do with the number of scientists who concur.

  • Tobin Sparfeld

    Yes, Santorum is missing the mark on climate change, but I don’t think progressives should be so smug by teasing Republicans for their ignorance on science. There are plenty of scientific realms where progressives show equal ignorance: GMOs, fracking, vaccines, nuclear power, gluten-free diets…