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    Festival Of Idiots #6: Tom Harkin For Wasting $120M
    By Josh Witten | March 18th 2009 04:00 PM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA*)
    Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) (Picture from Wikipedia Commons)The simple fact that Senator Harkin co-wrote the execrable Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) with the multi-talented Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT&founding Festival member) would be qualification enough, but Tommy Boy has engaged in more recent stupid.

    Harkin followed up DSHEA by creating the Office of Alternative Medicine in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which morphed into the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).  By alternative, we mean therapeutic approaches that are not embraced by conventional medicine, by which we mean approaches lacking scientific evidence and plausibility. 

    Like a mildly abusive parent, Harkin has publicly expressed disappointment in the performance of his intellectually challenged brainchild:
    One of the purposes of this center was to investigate and validate alternative approaches. Quite frankly, I must say publicly that it has fallen short. It think quite frankly that in this center and in the office previously before it, most of its focus has been on disproving things rather than seeking out and approving.
    A lay person might, naively, think that NCCAM existed to scientifically test alternative modalities based on the idea that NIH is a science-based organization, not faith-based (e.g., Treasury Department).  Not so.  While NCCAM has been doing a lot of investigating (about $120 million per year recently), it has not nearly enough validating for Senator Harkin.  I don't know about you; but when I pony up $108, I expect either validation of my preconceived notions or sweet AIG bonuses, take your pick. 

    When faced with a result that does not fit with one's expectations, there are two options.  Like Harkin, you can blame the results and how they were obtained.  Or, you can question whether your expectations were valid.  People who chose the latter option are rarely Festival material.

    In the spirit of Senator Tom Harkin, here is a brief list of groups that I wish would have spent more time "seeking out and approving" my preconceived notions, instead of focusing on "disproving things":
            -Captains of grade school kickball team
            -Female Duke students 1997-2001
            -Little league umpire strike zones
            -Thesis committee
            -Gravity

    Senator Harkin, for endangering the lives of your fellow Americans, misunderstanding the process of science, and doggedly clinging to your beliefs (and making taxpayers pay for them) despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Festival of Idiots.

    *People of Iowa, Harkin next faces the judgment of the voting booth in 2014.  Think hard about continuing your electoral support of idiocy over the next 5 years lest you find The Festival keeping your seat warm.

    Comments

    adaptivecomplexity
    Quite frankly, I must say publicly that it has fallen short. It think quite frankly that in this center and in the office previously before it, most of its focus has been on disproving things rather than seeking out and approving.
    That's science illiteracy for you, right there.
    Mike
    Hank
    Tommy Boy, appealling to the masses to mentally resonate with him:  

    "Ever since i was a kid, you people have been like a family to me.  Louis, we built our first fort together.
    And Danny, remember when we used to burn ants with a magnifying glass?

    R.T., I lost my virginity to your daughter, for crying out loud!   Rob, you were there."

    It's quotes like that which make Tommy Boy relevant in any science article.
    This is frustrating. I recently read Stephen Johnson's book "Invention of Air", which while being a biography of Priestly also spoke about the scientific focus of Jefferson and Franklin, which was the basis of the American experiment in democracy. While this may not seem to apply here, it does remind me that even democrats, who claim to respect science, often fail to learn science. We have come a long way in terms of discovery, but I am afraid that many of our leaders are no longer rational, but rather supersitious. thanks for your article.