Ryan Zinke, Who Is Not a Geologist, Keeps Saying That He Is a Geologist

Illustration for article titled Ryan Zinke, Who Is Not a Geologist, Keeps Saying That He Is a Geologist
Image: Getty

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has referred to himself as a “geologist” in public at least 40 times, CNN reports, which is notable because Ryan Zinke is not, in fact, a geologist.


From CNN:

Since becoming leader of the 70,000-employee agency, Zinke has suggested that he was a geologist or former geologist at least 40 times in public settings, including many under oath before Congress.

He uses it as a credential booster, saying things such as, “I can tell you, from a geologist, offshore mining of sand is enormously destructive environmentally, as in comparison to seismic,” as he told the House Natural Resources Committee last month.

And, “Florida is different in the currents — I’m a geologist — it’s different in geology,” in an interview with Breitbart News, defending his decision to exempt Florida from offshore drilling.

He also uses it while discussing coal revenue, seismic activity, climate change, national monuments, precious metals, endangered species, fracking and drilling.

Zinke wrote in his autobiography that he majored in geology as an undergrad, which is not the same thing as being a geologist. Then he went on to become a Navy Seal (not a geologist), a businessman (not a geologist), a radio host (not a geologist), and a congressman (not a geologist).

“Ryan Zinke graduated with honors with a B.S. in Geology,” Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift told CNN, which is very funny in a way that Swift maybe does not realize! “His intended career path was underwater geology - and he had college jobs to support that career. Upon graduation he was recruited to be an officer in the US Navy SEALs where he proudly served for 23 years and retired with the rank of Commander.”

Still sounds like he has never been a geologist, but what confidence! And really, who among us hasn’t repeatedly misled the American public about our job credentials in order to sound more authoritative when we talk about fracking? Personally, I find it inspiring that our Interior Secretary believes in himself so much that he thinks simply saying something about himself over and over again will make it true.

Do we think he’s read The Secret?

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


honkhonkhonk - check if it's really me!

I hate Ryan Zinke and he deserves to be buried in an avalanche but...

...I kind of want to let him have this one? I don’t know. I think Americans get kind of hung up on the demarcations on who is a what in terms of career and identity. I had a recession-based career gap after where I didn’t FEEL like I stopped being my thing and I still had the cred (not just degree) to be my thing, but I was not actively the thing for a couple of years. Did I stop being the thing? Is it a degree level-determined thing or an actively-working thing? Or a combo? Or, another example, (and this is no way intended at you Ellie! rather intended at this age of information in general!) when does a journalist stop being a journalist and start being a blogger and vice versa?

Again, though, can Zinke please just go live underwater and not bother us regardless of what he can rightfully call himself.