I noticed a clear lack of tortured screams or demons in this Ninth Circle; in fact, the landscape was quite clear, an open range peppered sparsely with white-clothed souls standing at tables. As we walked inwards, I realized that the souls were wearing spotless lab coats.
“Are you familiar with the scientific method?” Bill Nye asked me.
Shocked, I responded, “I’m offended that you would think otherwise.”
“Then you shall be excited to see the horrors of the Ninth Circle. Here remain the bullshitters, those with blatant disregard for the truth. Do not confuse these wicked creatures for the fraudulent above us: those were intelligent sinners who knew the truth and purposefully lied; these people ignored the scientific method – they simply pursued ideology and spurted truthy fiction when it satisfied them. Now they can learn how facts are discovered.”
My curiosity could be satisfied at last: we had approached a shade and I could now see his punishment; however, my curiosity was only piqued further. The man was seated at a table, clean but for a single snowball and a spread of documents filled with charts and tables. The man looked up from his reading on our approach, and I recognized an old face.
“Senator James Inhofe?” I asked, incredulous.
“Aye,” he replied “and I guess you’re some constituent come to mock me. Well, I admit it now. Global warming is a real phenomenon. Too bad I’m stuck here now.”
“So it took death to teach you, not all my speeches and interviews?” Bill Nye snarkily commented.
“See all this?” the former Senator replied, waving his hand across his desk. “I have to sit here forever, performing peer review on scientific literature. And when I review a paper,” – Inhofe then signed the bottom of a document he had written in what appeared to be blood – “then I get a new one. I had no idea scientists actually reviewed each other’s work; rather, I just thought they came up with whatever sounded nice to them.”
Instantly, the desk was cleared of all its documents. Just as quickly as the old one had disappeared, an electron microscope, petri dish, and a new stack of paper, this time titled ‘Cryo-EM structure of the yeast U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP at 3.7 Å resolution’, materialized next to the snowball. Inhofe sighed and looked to age a year just trying to read the microbiology jargon.
Bill and I began to walk further onwards. I could now see the exhausted faces of the other sinners, who must perform the exhausting task of peer review forever. We passed Dr. Mehmet Oz, holding a dietary supplement bottle and writing “REJECT” across a paper. Ken Ham, evolution denialist, comparing two petri dishes of bacteria, seemed to be shocked at what he was seeing. At the edge of the circle, I looked back to see Jenny McCarthy, whose desk was covered in syringes and a foot-tall stack of paper. As Bill led me onwards, I felt no remorse for the bullshitters as the scientific method should never be ignored.