Robinson lives in his own 'Twilight Zone'
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. — "Twilight Zone" intro
I think even ardent supporters of President Donald Trump will concede he has done some ... well, let's just call them ... odd things. His Twitter account alone could provide enough material for decades of "Twilight Zone" episodes. But even more perplexing than some public tweets is the notion that Art Robinson is rumored to be on Trump's short list for national science adviser.
That's right: Art Robinson, the four-time defeated candidate for Congress, climate change denier, radiation-is-good-for-you proponent and, of course, urine collector.
Before proceeding, it's important to note that Trump has not raised Robinson's name publicly and certainly has not named him. In fact, the president has not named anyone, setting the record — obliterating it, really — for taking the longest to name a science adviser. George W. Bush held the previous mark, at 230 days; President Trump will hit 346 days today.
The most recent report saying Robinson had been recommended for the post comes from science writer Daniel Engber on fivethirtyeight.com, a website often cited for its political opinion polls (and, yes, one of many to be red-faced after its prediction that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in to win the presidency). Nevertheless, the Robinson connection has been reported before and lives on like a shadowy enigma ensconced in Rod Serling's brain.
Engber writes that Robinson's supporters include hedge-fund millionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, who are also big fans of Steve Bannon and the Heartland Institute, a leading voice in the anti-climate-change camp.
That likely explains their fascination with Robinson, who has labeled climate change a hoax and who is an officer in an alt-science organization also funded by Mercer.
Robinson, who lives outside Cave Junction, is most familiar locally for his four unsuccessful attempts to defeat Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio. But in 2014 he popped into prominence in an altogether different way, when he sent out a plea for 50,000 people to send him urine specimens that he could use to support his theory that our human effluent holds markers that foretell all kinds of ailments, from cancer to heart attacks.
Robinson, 75, is no dummy — he holds a doctorate in biochemistry and worked for much of a decade with Nobel-winning scientist Linus Pauling before they had a celebrated falling out that ended with Robinson suing Pauling for $25 million.
But, like the guy who has yet to name a science adviser, he does have some different ideas. Human activity, he says, has not warmed the earth; in fact, carbon dioxide produces "a host of beneficial effects" for the planet. He has questioned whether HIV is the cause of AIDS and suggested the epidemic was blown out of proportion. He has proposed that nuclear waste be diluted and sprinkled over the ocean because low levels of radiation can be healthy for people. He has likened public education to child abuse.
Could Robinson be our next national science adviser? I doubt it, but if there's an opening in the fifth dimension, he could be just the man for the job.
— Bob Hunter is an associate editor for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com.