Wednesday, August 3

Public Idiocy

So George W. Bush joins Ronald Reagan as the two modern presidents willing to publicly demonstrate their ignorance of science. Well, there goes the Hinderocket American DaVinci Award.

It's one thing to pander to the base. It's one thing to be wrong, even intentionally wrong, about the facts. It is quite another to be abyssmally misinformed about a matter any reasonably intelligent person should have a reasonable familiarity with, let alone to show ignorance of the concept of science which approaches the total. There are ways of making political hay out of Intelligent Design that would not require one to look like a total ass. Maybe we next need to start rooting around for a definition of "intelligence" that would make the Hinder's assessment somehow meaningful.

Bush was allowed--"assisted" is probably a better word--to play coy about his supposed personal opinion, to spin this as the familiar "students should hear all sides" canard which dates back to the failed, but more honest, "Creation Science" (which then Governor Bush also shilled). But the middle ground he supposedly occupies doesn't exist. I haven't been able to find a transcript of his "meeting with a small group of reporters", or what I like to call "flacking flack flackers". I'd like to know who exactly asked him the question, and why. What did it add to the story besides an out he'd already negated? There's no scientific reason to suggest there's a question here with two sides, no peer-reviewed publications, not even consistent basic definitions, just a well-financed PR machine. The very act of according it scientific standing chooses sides. Claiming you do so while remaining noncommittal amounts to jumping in the ocean while denying it was your intention to get wet.

Evolution is a fact. It is an observable fact. That does not mean that for all time it could never be disproven in some way by some seismic shift in our understanding. It means that as of today it is simply perverse for any intelligent person to insist otherwise.

Now if, for political reasons, we need to refight established 19th Century science, let's begin by understanding what we're talking about, a good first step in any scientific investigation. I don't expect that of Mr. Bush, but maybe the newspapers could get it right. Ron Hutcheson, from Knight Ridder:

Scientists concede that evolution doesn't answer every question about the creation of life, but most consider intelligent design an attempt to inject religion into science courses.

Just what scientists did you speak with, Mr. Hutcheson? I'd have thought that every last one of them would have explained to you that evolution doesn't answer any questions about the creation of life. For that matter, neither does "Intelligent Design", but at least evolution has the advantage of explaining something.

1 comment:

Neil Shakespeare said...

Good post. It's getting painfully ridiculous, isn't it?