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The Battle for American Science
April 23, 2003 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Oh, God! Under the Bush administration there were a lot of things we had to forget, things like how democratic presidents get elected, how to sell democracy to undemocratic peoples, how to be free, patriotic, etc. Now, it seems, is the time to forget all about this menace to mankind: SCIENCE.
posted by acrobat (35 comments total)

 
i can't believe this stuff is for real.
posted by kv at 7:38 AM on April 23, 2003


Incredulous doesn't even begin to describe it. Treating the book of Genesis as anything other than an allegorical rather than an historical document is not a question of having an atheistic vs. theistic view, it's a question of sensible vs. imbecilic.

As far as "teaching Creationism" goes, what does that take? All of five minutes? Where can I fined these people? I have a few cases of mineral water from Lourdes I'd like to sell them.
posted by psmealey at 7:40 AM on April 23, 2003


The irony of fundies using the term "intelligent design."
posted by nofundy at 7:43 AM on April 23, 2003


the love of knowledge is the root of all evil. so proclaimed my dear old catechism teacher, sister dustcrotch.
posted by quonsar at 7:54 AM on April 23, 2003


Ok read the first paragraph about the nature of "stealth creationist" and mousetraps. This can be explained as follows:

Suppose on 9-11 you noticed that the Powerball lotto for that day came up "911". What are the odds? This did in fact happen in New York State and many people were pointing out this strange coincidence. The same argument is being used by creationists. Life is complex and works so well, what are the odds it was "random" there had to be some intelligent force at work.

Another example.. you go to a hotel and check into room 1967 .. oddly enough this is the year you were born. Incredible!

In both of these examples as amazing the coincidences are, we know it's a coincidence because we are surrounded by amazing coincidences all the time. What are the odds exactly 4368 people read this post. Or what are the odds Bush takes a leak at exactly 4:45pm. Everyday common events are extraordinary coincidences but we only notice them when they have some meaning or significance.

When we see the incredible coincidence of "life", that everything in the universe lines up to create life, what this tells us is the universe is extremely vast. Indeed that there may be many universes. Just like when we notice the hotel room is the same as the year we are born even without knowing there are other hotel rooms we can infer they exist.

So while there may be other Theological explanations for God, the "ID" theory presented in this article has a scientific rational explanation and actually does more to argue against creationism.
posted by stbalbach at 8:00 AM on April 23, 2003


Teaching ID is wrong. Discussing/Debating it in academic settings is great.
posted by paddy at 8:21 AM on April 23, 2003


stbalbach hits the nail on the head, I think. To reduce it even further, it's a "devil (or god, in this case) is in the details" approach to biology. E.g.: Yes, evolution can explain 50-60% of it, and we grant that, but the remaining 40-50% is the Almighty.

Or to put it yet another way, if she weighs as much as a duck, she's a witch!
posted by psmealey at 8:23 AM on April 23, 2003


Certain words can trip up AIDS grants, scientists say - words like anal sex, needle exchange, gay, homosexual, etc etc:

In another example of the scrutiny the scientists described, a researcher at the University of California said he had been advised by an N.I.H. project officer that the abstract of a grant application he was submitting "should be `cleansed' and should not contain any contentious wording like `gay' or `homosexual' or `transgender.' "

The researcher said the project officer told him that grants that included those words were "being screened out and targeted for more intense scrutiny."

He said he was now struggling with how to write the grant proposal, which dealt with a study of gay men and H.I.V. testing. When the subjects were gay men, he said, "It's hard not to mention them in your abstract."

posted by madamjujujive at 8:29 AM on April 23, 2003


psmealey: This is science man, not a witch hunt! Thus, if she has the same specific gravity as a duck, she's a scientist. (With attendant burning, gnashing of teeth, etc.)
posted by fnord_prefect at 8:30 AM on April 23, 2003


You know, I used to think that these guys were funny but I'm starting to get scared
posted by batboy at 8:41 AM on April 23, 2003


batboy: Starting? I've been scared for some time - this country's worst enemy is conformism, and right-wing Christians now have the podium. As soon as the Republican Party regained power, religion was suddenly and forcefully injected into every aspect of government. Separation of church and state, tenuous at best in the past, is pretty much gone. Hell, if I have to hear that "wonder-working power" BS one more time...

The easiest way to fight it is to vote against anyone who supported this crap or even kept their mouth shut while it was pushed forward, in 2004 (and every voting year thereafter.)
posted by FormlessOne at 8:48 AM on April 23, 2003


see also yesterday's post Bush vs. Science
posted by 4easypayments at 8:54 AM on April 23, 2003


The religious right claims that the founding fathers intended that this be a Christian nation and that they (right thinking Conservatives) are being persecuted by "that liberal crowd" who wants to remove God from Jefferson's America, that their freedom of religion is being infringed because they cannot pathologically proselytize at will.

Interestingly, this is a quote from the eloquent Mr. Jefferson that does not get much play:

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."

"Teaching" creationism and "debunking" anything which questions it wreaks of blindfolded fear.
posted by ElvisJesus at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2003


Of course, Bush and the federal government have almost nothing to do with the question of whether ID is taught in schools. And the Dini case, where he was making students swear that they believed in evolution before he would recommend them for medical school, while debatable, is hardly as clear-cut as the article makes it out to be. Not that facts should get in the way of our righteous outrage.

Also, I just can't take any article seriously that treats the the morality of human cloning as self-evident and dismisses opponents as fanatical luddites.
posted by boltman at 9:48 AM on April 23, 2003


On that last point, does anyone seriously believe that former Divinity student Al Gore, had he won, would have been pro-cloning?
posted by boltman at 9:51 AM on April 23, 2003


Great quote, EJ.

I've always suspected that if there are gods, they would look more favorabely on atheists than on true believers.
It's like when you're teaching a class, you always pay more attention to the hyperactive kids who are always asking questions, than to the good little boys and girls who quietly write down everything you say.
posted by signal at 10:18 AM on April 23, 2003


> accessible to American abstinence-only groups
> campaigning against condoms.

I thought abstinence was about not having sex. It's about not using a condom? W00t. I'm all about abstinence.

> The reason, it argues, is because the virus is 0.1 microns
> in diameter, while there are tiny pores in latex
> measuring 10 microns. (There is no evidence for this.)

Did they not even attempt to find research on this? How about here:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200202080245.html

http://www.arc.org.za/A_CONDOMS_DEADLY_DELUSIONS.htm

And plenty more...
posted by woil at 10:27 AM on April 23, 2003


By the way, DOJ dropped its inquiry into Professor Dini's recommendations policy, after Dini backed down. Now Dini requires students only to provide a scientific explanation of the origin of the species--they don't have to "truthfully and forthrightly affirm" the science in order to get a recommendation.

I'm all for state universities not discriminating against students based on their beliefs ... but at the same time, What Is Going On when a science professor is coerced into recommending that students who don't believe in science embark on scientific careers?

Isn't this like having atheists and agnostics becoming priests? I suppose not; seminaries have greater liberty to reject applicants.
posted by win_k at 10:51 AM on April 23, 2003


I've got no quarrel with faith, its just that when you put control of your faith in the hands of others, there is a long history of it being used as a weapon against you.

Does your dogma bite? / No. / (ouch) I thought you said your dogma doesn't bite / That's not my dogma
posted by ElvisJesus at 10:56 AM on April 23, 2003


Bush=Evil. Terrible. The sky is falling. Everything liberal will be outlawed, and everything conservative will be mandated. Democracy as we know it has come to an end. Obviously - it's not even open to discussion ... it is just the accepted MeFi "truth".
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:49 PM on April 23, 2003


Thank you for your usual lucid and useful contribution to the conversation GoldenGolfCheat.
posted by nofundy at 1:08 PM on April 23, 2003


Midas: did you actually read the link and thread, or do just have some bot that pastes that little gem in every thread with the word "Bush" in it? Your simplistic, knee-jerk attempt to characterize this thread as simplistic and knee-jerkish is sort of auto-iroinc, in its own twisted way.
posted by signal at 1:14 PM on April 23, 2003


Thank you for your usual lucid and useful contribution to the conversation GoldenGolfCheat.

No, thank you for your usual contribution to enforcing the MeFi orthodoxy.

Midas: did you actually read the link and thread, or do just have some bot that pastes that little gem in every thread with the word "Bush" in it?

Goodness no, I only post something like this in the barest fraction of the anti-Bush posts that appear daily on MeFi.

Your simplistic, knee-jerk attempt to characterize this thread as simplistic and knee-jerkish is sort of auto-iroinc, in its own twisted way.

The thread is "simplistic and knee-jerkish". It follows the now formulaic Bush=Evil model. Take a single article (quite often, in fact, from the Guardian). The article will generally come up with it's own peculiar (and often highly disjointed) thesis, which it will then try to support solely by using a random assortment of purely anecdotal evidence. This rubbish is then seized, posted to MeFi with a dramatic title ("The Battle for American Science"), and an introductory paragraph that is very nearly a case study of the word "troll". The nofundy's of the world will then chime in with a couple of additional pieces of anecdotal evidence - and a few others will shake their heads and toss in the predictable one-liners about how stupid/conservative/terrible Bush is ... the entire thread proceeding as though this isn't even open to question.

The really "ironic" thing is that this sort of daily crap is supposed to be taken seriously. An article that takes a widely scattered group of "facts", quotes, and events, and from that attempts to assert that all of America science education is changing, further emphasized in a post that says "Now, it seems, is the time to forget all about this menace to mankind: SCIENCE." ... and this is supposed to be taken as a legitimate, rational hypothesis worthy of reasoned argument? Sorry, it just flat out isn't. It is simplistic, knee-jerk bullshit.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:41 PM on April 23, 2003


Signal, this is what MidasMulligan does. He did not invent the straw man argument, but he is a prolific devotee. Some try to ignore him.
posted by Hildago at 3:49 PM on April 23, 2003


well, while we're on the subject, can someone tell me something good about bush?
posted by mcsweetie at 4:29 PM on April 23, 2003


When politicians base policy on the word of God I always think that atheists and christians have equal (if different) reason to be appalled.

"Why me, Lord? Where have I gone wrong? I've always been nice to people! I don't drink or dance or swear! I've even kept kosher just to be on the safe side! I've done everything the Bible says; even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff! What more could I do?"

-- Ned Flanders
posted by jamespake at 5:01 PM on April 23, 2003


Amen
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:19 PM on April 23, 2003


well, while we're on the subject, can someone tell me something good about bush?

There's a very good chance that he'll contribute another data point to proving Tecumseh's Curse.

Here's hoping, anyway.
posted by SPrintF at 6:50 PM on April 23, 2003


I don't even know why Midas bothers somtimes. By now, he should know that trying to interject a modicum of rationality into a typical MeFi "piranha stripping a cow Bush" fest will only result in a slew of personal insults.

Midas, when the waters are a churnin'... just let it go. If you're in on the feed anything you say is about as effective as tossing them a bottle of steak sauce to compliment their meal.
posted by John Smallberries at 8:47 PM on April 23, 2003


Drat... should read " If you're not in on the feed..."
posted by John Smallberries at 8:48 PM on April 23, 2003


Granted the linked article and the front page post was not all that great, but I really don't think that it is all that out of line to suggest that Bush has been putting ideological pressure on science and social science research. But it is rather dishonest to say that Midas was bringing the light of reason to this discussion either.

Basically, it is not a great secret that Bush has used his power of appointment to steer science and reseach in a political direction. Four years ago, conservatives were bellyaching about Clinton's priorities in funding research. But overall, I think that his effects have been minimal. The Santorum Amendment that is supposed open the door to creationism in schools is only advisory and as worded really does not help either ID or Creationism very much. (Just as a hint, the best classroom advocates of Evolution I've seen already follow the Santorum guidelines. ID and Creationism whither in that kind of discussion.) Restrictions on stem cell research actually favors big biotech (a major contributor to Republican campaigns) that is already multinational. Sooner or later, Bush will have to shift to a more moderate position on HIV and Environmental Health rather than face the music.

I think the suprising thing is that we think this is a big deal even though American science has been political ever since Franklin allegedly traded the lightning rod for muskets. The people in power allocate their pork. The people out of power bitch about how their pet projects get no funding. Welcome to the 80s again. Missile defense is in, HIV research out.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:04 AM on April 24, 2003


KirkJobSluder-- note that the "santorum amendment" which allegedly supports the teaching of creationism isn't actually legislation.
posted by LimePi at 1:12 AM on April 24, 2003


Attention, woil

Do Condoms Work?
Yes! Condoms DO Work!!!

Like seatbelts or bike helmets, condoms can't offer 100% protection, and sex with condoms can feel different from unprotected sex. The risks associated with not using condoms, however, such as getting pregnant, getting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or having to worry about all of those things, make condoms well worth the hassle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel: Male Latex Condoms
and Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
In addition, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including discharge and genital ulcer diseases. While the effect of condoms in preventing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.

For HIV infection, unlike other STDs, a number of carefully conducted studies, employing more rigorous methods and measures, have demonstrated that consistent condom use is a highly effective means of preventing HIV transmission.

Another type of epidemiologic study involves examination of STD rates in populations rather than individuals. Such studies have demonstrated that when condom use increases within population groups, rates of STDs decline in these groups. Other studies have examined the relationship between condom use and the complications of sexually transmitted infections. For example, condom use has been associated with a decreased risk of cervical cancer – an HPV associated disease.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


AIDS is, by far, the most deadly sexually transmitted disease, and considerably more scientific evidence exists regarding condom effectiveness for prevention of HIV infection than for other STDs. The body of research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing sexual transmission of HIV is both comprehensive and conclusive. In fact, the ability of latex condoms to prevent transmission of HIV has been scientifically established in “real-life” studies of sexually active couples as well as in laboratory studies.

Laboratory studies have demonstrated that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens.

Theoretical basis for protection. Latex condoms cover the penis and provide an effective barrier to exposure to secretions such as semen and vaginal fluids, blocking the pathway of sexual transmission of HIV infection.

Epidemiologic studies that are conducted in real-life settings, where one partner is infected with HIV and the other partner is not, demonstrate conclusively that the consistent use of latex condoms provides a high degree of protection.

Discharge diseases, other than HIV
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.

Genital ulcer diseases and HPV infections
Genital ulcer diseases and HPV infections can occur in both male or female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, syphilis, and chancroid only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected. While the effect of condoms in preventing human papillomavirus infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.



hey, woil--I guess the Bush administration CDC hasn't gotten the memo, huh?
posted by y2karl at 2:23 AM on April 24, 2003


It follows the now formulaic Bush=Evil model.

The man sure gives us plenty of opportunities to practice it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:50 AM on April 24, 2003


well, while we're on the subject, can someone tell me something good about bush?

I was interested to learn yesterday that Bush’s team in the Office of Management and Budget has actually encouraged agencies to hurry up and implement some protective regulations, such as labeling of trans fatty acids and curbing pollution from non-road diesel engines. I don't know the context for these moves, but they seem beneficial to me.
posted by win_k at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2003


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