Sunday, December 2, 2007

Huckabee and the bumblebee

This morning, I caught a bit of George Stephenopoulos' interview with Mike Huckabee. As usual, Huckabee was very likeable, but something he said sounded wrong. He said that science claims that the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know this, and it just goes ahead and flies anyway, makes honey, etc. And he compared the bumble to his campaign, which keeps going in spite of political analysts saying he hasn't got a chance, can't raise enough money, etc.

I thought "Oops, he said bumblebees make honey; that's not right." So I went, of course, to the web, and found that in fact, bumblebees DO make honey! Just not very much of it. But while I was at it, I typed in "bumblebee" and "fly" and got plenty of stories debunking the urban myth that scientists think bumblebees can't fly. (Here, and here, for example.)

It's not bloody likely that Huckabee hasn't been told that this story is an urban legend (and just to be safe, I'll send this post to his campaign.) He seems like the kind of man who doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good theory. I wonder if he even remembers being told that it isn't true? That's the first thing that bothers me.

The second problem is with the subtext, that science is ridiculous. Obviously, science does not say the bumblebee cannot fly, because the first step in the scientific method is observation. The whole proposition isn't just wrong; it doesn't even make any sense.

I'm not sure whether he said science says they can't fly or science doesn't know how they fly; either way, though, it's wrong.

It is no surprise to me that a man who doesn't let facts stand in the way of a good story might not be science's best friend.

Edited later same day: I've gone to Huckabee's website and watched the YouTube video of the Stephenopoulos show. Huckabee said: "This reminds me of the old story of the bumblebee. It's scientifically impossible for the bumblebee to fly..." Maybe "old story" is his way of admitting it's a story.


William said...

Hi, did you see my post on the Huckster?

William said...

I think Huckabee would be the perfect candidate to continue the Republican War on Science

And he's deservingly received some bad press today.

beje said...

I predict that letting the rapist go, whether he had major or minor part in it, will do Huckabee in.

Scott said...

Ha! This is a hilarious column, Mary Beth! Love it.