For those who've forgotten, our recent profile subject Zack Kopplin, the 19-year-old pro-science/anti-creationism advocate we're fortunate enough to have living in Texas, was once a meek-mannered boy who could barely stand eye contact and direct speech. His path from his shell has continued, and last Friday saw Kopplin land his biggest stage yet.
The Rice sophomore was a featured guest of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, offering thoughts on everything from Louisiana's much-maligned voucher program to North Carolina legislators' attempts at creating a "state religion." (For what it's worth, Texas Senate Education Chair Dan Patrick just saw his attempts at replicating Louisiana's voucher system in Texas receive something of a death knell, with the House emphatically voting down the voucher proposal.)
For those who missed the episode, there were still moments worth sharing, especially as it came to Kopplin. One of the more notable slices was when he out-flanked economist Steve Moore, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, while discussing the realities of investment and what Moore's job descriptions actually entail:
Kopplin: There's a lot of other issues -- the big one, the sequester, just cut $50 billion from science funding over the next five years, and that is a very scary number...That's another generational issue for us.
Moore: The biggest generational issue for your generation is the debt! I get so upset with young people who say, "Well, let's have more funding for this, more funding for that." If we don't do something about this debt, you're going to spend all of your time working just to pay off the fiscal sins we're committing today!
Kopplin: There's a huge return on investment for funding science...Either way, we need to fund a lot of science. The president has been giving the example of mapping the Human Genome [Project], offering $140 for every $1 we spend. That's way more than any interest we pay for even borrowing to pay for that. That's an absolutely wonderful investment that we need to make.
Moore: So you think things like when the National Science Foundation spends money on snail-mating habits, that's a [good move]?
Kopplin: We've been over this -- you're not a scientist.
At this, the crowd drowns out Moore's response -- which is probably a good thing, because, well, he later continues to state that snail research is indicative of government scientific investment. (Here's hoping he doesn't run into any NASA employees in the near future.)
Another chance for Kopplin to take his message national is always a welcome move. Here's hoping it's not the last time Maher has him aboard.
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