Jon Stewart signed off as host of “The Daily Show” on Thursday night after an iconic run of over 16 years.
He will be dearly missed, but not just because he made us laugh.
If anyone had the ability to show us that ignorance isn’t limited by political boundaries, it was Stewart.
In the nearly two decades he spent on the show, Stewart brilliantly called attention to some of the most glaring moments when public figures chose hype over basic science, sometimes endangering lives in the process.
Here are a few of the highlights:
1. He nailed the insane reason we still need to talk about climate change
Yes, 99.9% of the scientific literature shows that climate change is real and worsened by the things we do every day, like driving cars and burning fossil fuels.
Yet political representatives who continue to deny that very real science continue to serve on government science committees.
In September of last year, Stewart nailed Representative Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana) for saying the science on climate change “still isn’t clear.”
Plus, he said, climate scientists just want to line their pockets.
Stewart points out that Bucshon’s 3 biggest campaign donors are the world’s leading coal industry backers:
- Murray Energy Corporation, also known as America’s single largest underground coal mining company
- Koch Industries, which oversees crude oil refineries that produce more than 600,000 barrels per day
- Peabody Energy, just the largest private-sector coal company in the world
“If scientists could be bought,” said Stewart, “these companies would have already made it rain in nerd town.”
2. He took down liberals who deny science
In June of last year, Stewart shed some light on a group of people who put hundreds of lives at risk by claiming that vaccines are dangerous.
Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee talked to Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Offit explained that part of the reason doctors are seeing a comeback of diseases like mumps, measles, and rubella in allegedly progressive suburbs of states from California to New York is that thousands of parents in these areas are choosing not to vaccinate their children — against all scientific evidence.
“It’s happening in my community?” asks Bee. “People who…. juice?”
Next, Bee chats with Sarah Pope, a lifestyle blogger and anti-vaxxer. She gives Bee some of the typical responses of science deniers.
“You can line up the doctors from here to down the block refuting me, and I’m not going to change my mind,” she said.
Then, Pope adds that the historic drop in diseases like measles and polio is not a result of vaccines, and was instead likely caused by something else, like getting horses off the streets.
Here’s a chart that shows why she’s wrong:
“The good news about vaccines,” says Offit, “is that they’re not a belief system. They’re an evidence-based system.”
3. He pinpointed exactly why health care just can’t work as a free market
He told the story of a cancer patient who was recently forced to pay $US13,700 up front for a drug transfusion which was only part of a much bigger $US83,000 payment. Yet the transfusion, says Brill, cost the pharmaceutical company just $US300.
Brill said the reason health care will never work as a free market is simple: “The cost has shifted to the taxpayers — which I think is a good thing. But it’s outrageous that we haven’t done anything to control those costs.”
Then, Stewart brilliantly came back at Brill with a common conservative argument: If we simply create a free market for health care where patients can pick-and-choose their coverage, it will result competition and, therefore, better options.
Here’s Brill’s response: “Everyone says, ‘Well it’s a marketplace.’ That guy [the cancer patient] has no choice in buying that drug. His doctor told him, ‘This will save your life. You don’t take it, you’re gonna die.'”
Doesn’t sound like a marketplace.
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