HuffPo blogger Ian Squires wrote a satirical post today lampooning Republicans in general, and the ostensibly “anti-science” position of conservatives in specificity. The post, as the author said the comments of the post, is a riff off the perennial favorite that dates back to 1998, where-in Alabama conservatives introduce a bill to re-define Pi to the value of 3.
The original version limits the story to Alabama, but Ian’s new re-telling attributes the measure to current federal House Republicans, and mentions a number of reps by name. Of course, as it’s HuffPo, the conservatives are the evil dummies, and the libs are the smart heroes.
Roby, raised in Montgomery, Ala., is on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.
"It’s no panacea, but this legislation will point us in the right direction. Looking at hard data, we know our children are struggling with a heck of a lot of the math, including the geometry incorporating pi," Roby said. "I guarantee you American scores will go up once pi is 3. It will be so much easier."
Democrats first responded to the measure with a mixture of incredulity and amusement.
"Really?" asked George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Education and LaborCommittee. "Isn’t that an awful lot like assuming only even numbers can be negative? You can’t legislate math; that’s like making it illegal to rain on the Fourth of July," the San Francisco Bay area representative chuckled.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) ridiculed objections from the left as further examples of classic elitist liberalism.
If one does even the most cursory research into this story that never dies, it has itself a storied history. Originally circulated on Newsgroups in the late 90s, it actually has historical roots. From Snopes:
“In his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein makes passing mention of Tennessee’s enacting a law making pi equal to 3.0.”
During the 1880s and 1890s, Indiana industry began to grow rapidly because of the Indiana Gas Boom, leading to the creation of many labor unions and a return to Democratic control of the General Assembly. One of the events to occur during the period was the Black Day of the General Assembly, a situation arising from Governor Isaac P. Gray‘s desire to be elected to the United States Senate. Beginning with the state senate’s refusal to seat a new Lieutenant Governor, fighting broke out in the chamber and spread throughout the statehouse. Shots were fired, and Democrats and Republicans threatened to kill each other before police could bring the situation under control.
The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most famous attempts to establish scientific truth by legislative fiat. Despite that name, the main result claimed by the bill is a method to square the circle, rather than to establish a certain value for π, although the bill does contain text that appears to dictate various incorrect values of π, such as 3.2.
The man who introduced the bill was admittedly insane and an idiot, but an idiot who had bi-partisan support and actually got the bill passed in the House unanimously. The Indiana Senate had not yet completed final passage of the bill (which they had referred to the Committee on Temperance) and Purdue University Professor C. A. Waldo coached enough senators overnight that they postponed the bill indefinitely.
It’s funny how Democrats and liberals have twisted history to the point where they have everyone believing they have the monopoly on intelligence.
It’s unfortunate that this intelligence doesn’t extend to knowing and understanding history.