?

Log in

No account? Create an account
atom

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

This phenomenon doesn't raise any issues with evolution. Evolutionary theory doesn't directly explain everything in biology, but it provides the over-arching framework to explaining how life arises and changes.

To draw a (loose) human analogy, a woman in a lot of high-stress situations (such as warding off predators) will have a lot of adrenaline. It's plausible to imagine that having an effect on the development of her child (to my knowledge this doesn't happen, but it's easy to imagine it).

The same thing could be going on with these beetles--a high-stress situation leads to chemical changes in the mother, with developmental ramifications for the offspring that will increase their fitness in the presumably hostile environment. The fact that we don't know what's going on is not a flaw in evolution, it's just a gap in our knowledge (the typical ID position is that these are equivalent).

The fact that it's consistent across the entire species means that it isn't some Lamarckian effect but rather an evolved response to environmental stress.
"The fact that it's consistent across the entire species means that it isn't some Lamarckian effect but rather an evolved response to environmental stress."

Aha! I hadn't thought of that, and I have a Master's degree in Science!

But you're right. If it's consistent across the species, that itself is evidence of natural selection.
Also, even if some Lamarckist mechanism exists (something I would not rule out), it's still a form of evolution, and doesn't support the creationist viewpoint in any way.
Oh, certainly not--I wasn't arguing for creationism. My own view on that topic, for what it's worth, is that while I am a believer in God, who am I to say that God's method of creating and developing life was not evolution? *shrugs* I don't know if that would be satisfying to people who are atheist or agnostic, but for me it works.
I think evolution is a beautiful theory, very elegant, very intuitive in its basic form at least, and really... well, lovely.
I am not arguing against evolution at all. I just found it interesting that there are questions regarding it, or refinements to be made to it, even now, and wanted to share.
>Aha! I hadn't thought of that, and I have a Master's degree in Science!

I hope everyone read that with the proper cadence and inflection....

...and remember, he knows more than you do.
atom

December 2016

S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
Powered by LiveJournal.com