Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hacking Away 

This was emailed to me without a link, but its message is pretty simple…

Opting Out in the Debate on Evolution

By CORNELIA DEAN Published: June 21, 2005

When the Kansas State Board of Education decided to hold hearings this spring on what the state's schoolchildren should be taught about evolution, Dr. Kenneth R. Miller was invited to testify. Lots of people thought he was a good choice to speak for science…

But Dr. Miller declined to testify. And he was not alone. Mainstream scientists, even those who have long urged researchers to speak with a louder voice in public debates, stayed away from Kansas….

When the hearings ended, the subcommittee running them concluded just that. The hearings had produced "credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological theory," the panel said, and it is "important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates."

Still, scientists who stayed away say they did the right thing.

Declining to testify "can be made to look as if you do not want to defend science in public, or you are too afraid to face the intelligent design people in public," Dr. Miller said.

But, he said, taking part in this kind of argument only contributes to the idea that there is something worth arguing about, and "I wasn't interested in playing a role in that."

There seems to be a lot of this kind of thinking going on in the scientific, reason-based communities. Arguing with the idiots only legitimizes them.

I dunno about that. I think we should take every opportunity to testify about facts and evidence. I think we should take every opportunity to expose sloppy irrational thinking.

In any case, I will be blogging lightly for a week or so. The water board has informed me that if I don’t clear out the Russian Olives from my portion of the ditch, they will take away my water rights. They’re right—the stuff is a menace and I should have cleared it out a long time ago. But the damn seeds came from somewhere upstream, and they’ll just come again. If any of you are familiar with Russian Olive, you know what a thorny pain in the ass it is to clear. So, if you don’t hear from RDF, it’s only because of non-native, invasive species. Anybody want to debate the science of that? Russian Olives evolved to annoy humans.

Maybe there’s a metaphor in this somewhere about the wisdom of debating with irrational people. I dunno.

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