On Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the Obama Administration of being "science deniers when it comes to harnessing America's energy resources and potential to create good-paying jobs for our economy and for our future." Later, at the same event, Jindal refused to answer reporters' questions on how he views the theory of evolution. "The reality is I'm not an evolutionary biologist," Jindal said.
Many more in the Republican Party love using this line, "I'm not a scientist." Marco Rubio, John Boehner, and Rick Scott, have all used versions of this line to dismiss climate change science or promote creationism. In 2012, asked how old Earth is, Rubio repeated, "I'm not a scientist," twice. In May, Boehner said "I'm not qualified to debate the science," when asked for his views on climate change. Scott's answer to whether climate change is real and a problem was also, "I'm not a scientist." That comment earned Scott enough criticism that he agreed to a 30-minute meeting with climate scientists. (In the energy policy he released on Wednesday, Jindal calls global warming "a religion for many on the Left," which he accuses of lacking a "scientific way of approaching public policy.")
The refrain is popular enough that President Barack Obama responded in June. "I mean, I'm not a scientist either, but I've got this guy, John Holdren, he's a scientist. I've got a bunch of scientists at NASA and I've got a bunch of scientists at EPA. I'm not a doctor either, but if a bunch of doctors tell me that tobacco can cause lung cancer then I"ll say, 'OK! It's not that hard. I'm not a scientist, but I read the science."
No one would mistake these Republicans for scientific experts. But as policymakers they have a responsibility to understand what the actual scientists tell us.