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Science!

On Tuesday, when people in my company gathered to listen to the inaugural address, one particular sentence caused a small number of us to applaud and cheer.

Actually, it was just a fraction of a sentence.

As soon as President Obama had said, "We will restore science to its rightful place," those of us in the science department cheered, much to the amusement of the folks in the other departments.

The sad truth is that science has been under attack in this country over the past few years. I don't really want to revisit all the attacks right now; for anyone interested, there are plenty of articles and books on the subject. I will remind people that in 2004, a group of scientists – including 20 Nobel laureates – issued a statement pointing out the distortion of scientific facts that had been presented to the American people by the government. These distortions had mostly been made with the sole goal of supporting government policies that would have made no sense in the light of scientific facts.

But that light is beginning to show through the cracks. In the article Scientists Welcome Obama's Words, the reporters note that the scientific community is hopeful for policies which acknowledge that science must come before policy.

And in other news, the Texas Board of Education has voted to remove discussion of evolution's '"strengths weaknesses" in their science standards. The phrase "strengths and weaknesses" is a code word among anti-evolutionists to try yet again to sneak religion into science class, and I'm delighted that Texas is finally doing the right thing....after twenty years.

Whenever I hear about suppression of science, or the attempts to sneak pseudoscience into science classes, I am always reminded of Richard Feynman's words as a member of the Challenger commission: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

Unfortunately, people can be fooled, which is why we must always remain vigilant.

Comments

I think what you're missing here is the history that came before the phrase "strengths and weaknesses." In the beginning, the anti-evolutions tried to ban evolution from being taught in schools, and they were actually quite successful for many years. Then, when evolution was taking its proper place in science classes, they tried to have "creationism" taught as well. The courts rejected it since it wasn't science, so they came up with the term "creation science," claiming that their idea was just as "scientific." That got rejected, so they moved onto "intelligent design," their claim that some intelligence can be scientifically proven to be behind evolution. But in discovery, it was found that their strategy was to use this idea to once again introduce their own religious belief into school science classes (look up the wedge document for more information on that). "Strengths and weaknesses" became their new code word.

Of course any theory ought to have its strengths and weaknesses explored. But the anti-evolutionists reject the fact that evolution's weaknesses have been probed for over a century and have been found to be almost entirely nonexistent. They're using the language to try to get their own religious beliefs taught as fact in public school, and that frightens me.
*nods* I was not aware of it in that much detail, but I did know the basics and did not intend to sound as though I was encouraging their side. I guess what I was trying to note was the difference between "Strengths and weaknesses" and strengths and weaknesses.
I have to say that I find it funny that the terminology used by the anti-evolutionists has had to evolve to survive... :-)
*grins* No it didn't! God made the word that way!
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