a small note about ideas
I don't know how many people read this site (probably not many) and of those, I imagine it is a small subset that care about politics, and an even smaller subset that actually follow the comments about science that I've been posting. Anyway, there are a couple of ongoing discussions; you might be interested in reading them (check the left side). Here's what I really want to say, though: Not all ideas are valid under all circumstances. That pretty much cuts to the heart of my stance on creationism/"intelligent design" and my opinion of the media with regards to political coverage. While there might be two (or more) sides to every story, both sides are not necessarily equally right. We as scientists and educators have a responsibility to actively debunk bad science (e.g., cold fusion) and things that aren't science at all (e.g., creationism/ID). The media ought to take up the responsibility of actively checking the talking points that politicians spit out. Because they don't, I suggest checking in over at Media Matters whenever a talking head spouts some drivel that makes it into the press. Katrina's utter devastation has seen the media call out the GOP talking heads, but how long will that last? some elaboration (or rambling, depends on how you see it) after the jump.
Both President Bush and Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) came out in support of the teaching of "intelligent design" in science classrooms. This was Dubya's logic:
Q: I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools? THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor . . . Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught. Q: Both sides should be properly taught? THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about. Q: So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution? THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.Now I do agree that people should be exposed to different ideas and schools of thought. However, you have to take into context the setting in which they are presented and the audience to which they are presented. Creationism and "intelligent design" are valid _religious_ beliefs, and as such, I will defend your right to believe in them, even if I do think it's ridiculous to invoke the presence of an omnipotent super-being. The problem is that they are _not_ valid _scientific_ theories, and by presenting them in public science classrooms not only are we violating the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, we are bestowing undeserved [scientific] validity onto them.