Part of the problem inherent in measuring an extradimensional space from which neither light nor reason can escape is how to determine scale. Obviously, the inside of Michele Bachmann’s head is larger than some gravitational manifolds and smaller than others. Is it smaller than the Horsehead Nebula? Probably, because I can’t see it right now. Is it bigger than a singularity? Yes, because her eye makeup isn’t getting sucked in through her pupils. Between these poles, though, little was known until last week, when Michael Zimmerman PhD informed us via the Huffington Post that a high school student is successfully refuting one of Mmm-Bach’s most infuriating claims. From October, 2006:
There is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact … hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.
Shocking, right? If hundreds of Nobel laureates believe in intelligent design, maybe it’s not the church-organized attack on the knowledge of schoolchildren I thought it was. Of course, Bachmann will just say shit. Whereas Zack Kopplin is a high school senior and therefore has to back his claims with evidence. In gathering support from scientists, he has provided science with some valuable information of its own. It turns out that the inside of Michele Bachmann’s head accommodates less information than that of a 17 year-old in Louisiana.
First of all, I apologize for causing you to read the prose style of Michael Zimmerman PhD. He appears to be among the many writers to earn doctorates from Superlative University,* and his assessment of what Kopplin has done ranges from “amazing” to “second to none.” In his defense, though, what Kopplin did is pretty awesome. In opposition to the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008, he gathered the endorsements of 43 Nobel prize-winning scientists who rejected intelligent design. Lest you think he’s just copying Bachmann, it should also be noted that he actually talked to them and got their names.
Here is where Kopplin becomes the pencil held up to the tapeworm, so to speak. His ability to marshall individual Nobel laureates who dispute the claim Mmm-Bach invoked “hundreds” of Nobel laureates to support doesn’t tell us the exact dimensions of Michele Bachmann’s head, but it gives us an idea of relative size. For example:
1) If you call the office of a Nobel prize-winning scientist, you will have a better chance of getting to talk to a real person if you are a Louisiana high school junior than if you are US Representative Michele Bachmann. It’s possible that sympathy plays some part in this. It turns out that childlike idealism is more sympathetic than relentless attacks on scientific knowledge, at least to scientists.
2) Saying “hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes” is, in Bachmann’s judgment, enough to convince people of the validity of her claim, but Kopplin feels he needs to provide verifiable references. In other words, Michele Bachmmann has assessed the intelligence of the American people at a lower level than did a 17 year-old boy. Now that’s cynicism.
3) There is still no proof that Bachmann has read more than one book. Whereas this kid has read, like, fifty.
As Zimmerman PhD points out, the odds of Bachmann actually producing any Nobel laureates to match the ones Kopplin already provided are pretty low. You don’t get to be a member of Congress by responding to the reasonable arguments of every kid whose education you hope to remake. Those of us wondering whether this person should, say, become the President of the United States, however, should consider just how thoroughly she was embarrassed by a high school senior with a bug in his ear. That she remains unaware of this embarrassment tells us something, too—about what species of demagogue she is, and also about how long it takes light to get from her eyes to the back of her head.