Rep. Rush Holt speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 10, 2012.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Rep. Rush Holt: Think like a scientist

Updated

And then there was one.

It appears just one physicist will remain in Congress after the retirement of Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey). In his first television interview since announcing he won’t run again, the five-time Jeopardy! champion and climate change awareness advocate told Ari Melber there will be something missing from the nation’s capitol. 

“Until we reach that golden age where all Americans know how to think like scientists, know how to think comfortably about science, we will need some trained scientists and engineers in congress,” Holt said on Jansing & Co.   

The physicist, who famously beat the IBM supercomputer Watson on Jeopardy!, has been an advocate for scientific research – his campaign even used the bumper sticker slogan “my congressman is a rocket scientist.” 

When asked by Melber to weigh in on politicians who persist in denying climate change, Holt described the situation as “complicated.”

“Well, some of it is willful ignorance. Some of it is that it’s complicated. Some of it is that people have trouble thinking statistically. You know, they think anecdotally and personally and so to get some distance and perspective on something that has some, as scientists would say, ‘noise in the system,’ is difficult,” Holt said.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) argued on NBC’s Meet the Press that there is no consensus on what is causing climate change and insisted the “warming” is “very slight.” Science educator and former TV personality Bill Nye accused Blackburn of introducing doubt into debate, citing a recent 30% decrease of ice in the Antarctic as clear evidence that global warming is happening. 

Holt appears to agree with Nye, stressing the problem with Americans receiving conflicting information. 

“There has been active disinformation. The Koch brothers and others have spent millions of dollars to sow seeds of doubt about the climate change,” Holt said, “Just as the tobacco companies spent millions of dollars sowing seeds of doubt between smoking and cancer.”

Rep. Rush Holt, 65, a former assistant director of Plasma Physics Laboratory in Princeton, urged congress to consider his proposed carbon tax to curb CO2 emissions. In his campaign video for the senate seat in New Jersey, Holt warned that “millions will die” from global warming if action is not taken. Holt lost that election to Sen. Cory Booker.

Holt said that he is proud of the work he’s done on education, environment, science research, civil liberties, and voting rights, and will continue representing the 750,000 people in his district for the rest of the year.

 “I do stand by that statement that congress is the greatest instrument. It doesn’t always work perfectly. There are days when it hardly works at all, but it’s a great instrument for justice and human welfare,” Holt said.

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Rep. Rush Holt: Think like a scientist

Updated