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Neil deGrasse Tyson might be on to something

August 7, 2011

I got up late this morning. Later than I’d wanted to. I had high hopes for today, all of which are at this point dead. Ok, maybe not all. I got a little work done today. I did basically finish my large post about why I like George R.R. Martin’s work so much. And I do mean large, we’re looking at close to 2,000 words here. It’s the blog equivalent to A Dance with Dragons in that it took a lot longer to do than I hoped it would and grew to be much longer than I thought it could. I hope you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

That’s not the point of this post though. The point of this post is that I was watching TV today (instead of doing any work) and I caught the end of a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was a guest, and right near the end he said something that made me think.

He noted that Congress is made up in large part of people who identify as their profession “lawyer.” One might think at first that this would be a good thing, as Congress makes laws. But Tyson pointed out that one of the most basic things lawyers are trained to do is to argue. Courtrooms are about arguments, and whoever makes the best one usually wins. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s how the system is supposed to work.

But Tyson also wondered, where’s everyone else? Where are the scientists in Congress, and the engineers? For that matter, where are the writers and teachers and even plumbers? Congress is an argument factory these days, and Tyson thinks it might be because that’s what the people who make up Congress are bred to do.

Lawyers don’t necessarily always have to make tough decisions, they make arguments and leave the decisions to the judge or the jury. Except these days Congress has to make decisions. There’s no one else to do that for them. So while they’re all getting caught up in making the most compelling argument, lots of things that have to happen just aren’t getting done.

Anyway, I just found that interesting and thought I’d share. Oh, and thanks everyone for participating in my poll yesterday as well. It really helped out a lot.

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