Discrediting Science - that yellow bastard

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December 31st, 2005


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2005.1231.1327::Discrediting Science
Here follows a rant on Science and politics.
When I was in D.C. a few months back, Jerry, Mom, and I hit the Smithsonian circuit--we'd been many years ago, and on the trips before we always concentrated on the Air and Space Museum. I was rather disappointed with our visit this trip, however, because unlike the other Smithsonian locations, the exhibits in the Air and Space Museum seemed really dated.

It occurred to me, however, the Museum's failure to re-interest me after some twenty years is really indicative of a national failure in, not just aeronautics and space exploration, but science in general. You see it in the papers everyday--some story about Evolution vs. Intelligent Design. The U.S. not just disinterested in science, it's worse.

A New York Times Magazine article which came out around the time of the 2004 election described how a Bush administration aide described the ideological split in the country as the conflict between the "faith-based" and the "reality-based" communities:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
--Ron Suskind, "Without A Doubt"
The faith-based community is acting now to discredit science.

The whole debate over Evolution vs. Intelligent Design puts everything that scientists have studied since The Origin of the Species into question. Follow this logic: Since we cannot trust the methods by which some misinformed scientists determined that humans descended from monkeys, then similar scientists should be not allowed to work on stem cell research.
Jobs and wages depend on science and technology. If our nation can't manufacture, at high quality and low price, products people want to buy, then industries will continue to drift away and transfer a little more prosperity to other parts of the world.
--Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

And more's the pity, considering this is the country that not only was able to land several missions to the fucking moon, but also was resourceful enough to save three men en route to it when something went catastrophically wrong.

3 comments | Leave a comment )

Comments:


fyrdrakken::2006.01.04.04:36 pm
[User Picture]Definitely faith and science conflict (and to maintain belief in both requires a certain degree of personal compartmentalization), and the elevation of faith and afterlife-based thinking over science and rationality is ironically shortsighted.
thepeopleseason::2006.01.04.04:53 pm
[User Picture]I don't necessarily think they are in direct conflict--the Catholic Church has accepted evolution, for example.

The Carl Sagan book I quoted has a passage wherein he speaks with the Dalai Lama and asks him what would happen if science came out with a finding which completely nullified a tenet of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama replied, "Tibetan Buddhism would have to change."

Which is a remarkably rational response from a religious leader.

Unfortunately, the faith-based community has a strict adherence to what they consider an inerrant work--the Bible (which completely ignores the possibility of translation errors and omissions/additions). Even well-respected theologians disagree on what key passages mean, but that doesn't stop the uneducated from believing that the universe is only between eight to twelve thousand years old.

P.S. Love the icon.
fyrdrakken::2006.01.09.10:01 pm
[User Picture]On the icon, thanks!

On the faith front, it sounds like the Dalai Lama is a legitimate seeker for truth and higher meaning. The problem is that so many religious leaders aren't, and want to train their followers in blind obedience -- and for that matter that so many people want to be led and given all the answers they think they need, rather than the risk and effort of thinking for themselves.
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