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Sarcasm of Science

A recent US House of Representatives science panel meeting with John Holdren, the presidential science advisor, took a sarcastic turn, ScienceInsider reports.

"[S]arcasm and political trash-talking overrode serious debate at Wednesday's hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology," Science's Jeffrey Mervis writes. "Even in a Congress noted for its polarization and lack of comity, members of the panel seemed more interested in name-calling than numbers."

While much of the discord surrounded climate change, legislators also made jabs at the National Science Foundation and what some lawmakers consider wasteful spending at the agency. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the committee chair, in particular focused on a study of causes of stress in Bolivia funded by NSF. "Well, what causes a lot of the stress [for this committee] is studying the causes of stress in Bolivia," Smith said.

He and Holdren also had a "brusque exchange" about whether NSF explains the grants it funds well enough to the public, Mervis says, adding that "Smith cut off Holdren with the comment, 'we'll have to agree to disagree.'"