If you’re a United States Senator, shouldn’t it be a basic qualification that you understand large numbers? And if you’re a senator who serves on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, shouldn’t you understand science — or at least be able to distinguish science from religion?
It seems that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida fails on both counts.
When a reporter asked Rubio, “How old do you think the Earth is?”, the Senator replied with an incoherent babble about bible and theology and said, “I’m not a scientist, man” and “I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that.”
We did answer it: Earth is 4.54 billion years old, and we know this with a 99% certainty (that’s plus or minus 50 million years).
Did I mention that Rubio serves on a SCIENCE COMMITTEE? And that his job entails dealing with numbers in the millions and billions?
The answer isn’t a guess, and it has nothing to do with bibles, gods, fairies or magic. And knowing this answer is required by the U.S. National Education Standards. When a senator doesn’t know it or misleads people about it decreases science and technical literacy. That puts the U.S. at a disadvantage with the rest of the world and harms our economy.
Astronomer Phil Plait takes Sen. Rubio to task much better than I can. His blog post is worth reading.