Thursday, August 24, 2006

Teach it. Fund it. Learn it. Or die.

E. coli
Given this forum's interest in evolution and its reception by the public, it seems eminently appropriate to note the New York Times' and Concurring Opinions' coverage of the Department of Education's apparent attempt to eliminate evolutionary biology from the list of fields suitable for study by recipients of a federal grant for low-income college students. The DoE calls the omission of category 26.1303 accidental.

Here's how the crucial passage in the DoE's list reports eligible subjects within the broader category, "26.13 Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population":
26.1301 Ecology
26.1302 Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

26.1304 Aquatic Biology/Limnology
26.1305 Environmental Biology
26.1306 Population Biology
26.1307 Conservation Biology
26.1308 Systematic Biology/Biological Systematics
26.1309 Epidemiology
26.1399 Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology, Other
Yes, this fair and balanced presentation of the document in question shows a blank line where category 26.1303 should appear. We report. You decide.

As for me, I've decided. This administration has demonstrated no restraint in playing politics with science. It deserves no presumption of good faith on matters of this sort. Evolutionary biology has become a special whipping boy for one of this administration's most rabid constituencies, so much so that pandering to antievolutionist sentiment has reached the highest judicial levels.

Perhaps it is apt, therefore, to remind this audience as well as this scientifically benighted administration and the public at large: Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

I offer one final footnote. Deven Desai's otherwise excellent post at Concurring Opinions fell into the usual pattern of illustrating public disputes over evolution with a depiction of nonhuman primates. Let's try something different here. The graphic accompanying this post provides a hint on why it might be worth teaching, financing, and learning evolutionary biology. Never mind human origins. How about emphasizing human survival as a tactically astute change of pace?


Anonymous Kevin Wells said...

I officially reached "outrage overload" sometime around the beginning of the Iraq War. I am no longer shocked by things this administration does, nor by the American people. I am, however, deeply saddened.

That we have let anti-scientific crusaders, with their critical capacity completely eroded by blind faith, give the general public that there is even one iota of doubt in evolution in the scientific community is appalling.

Here is a link to a graph that shows our country's acceptance of evolution as compared to other countries in the world. Thank the creator for Turkey. They are the ones holding us up from flinging ourselves decisively to the bottom of evolutionary-IQ chart.

The problem is, it's not completely American's fault. We have allowed for all science to be politicized, findings, facts, and truth be damned! As Colbert stated, "It is well known that reality has a liberal bias." We need to reclaim the discussion of this. Teach our kids what science is! Teach them that there will be disagreements, but you have to have a testable hypothesis for something to be scientific.

Intelligent design is just another step along the path that has started long ago, and is reaching new heights today. Whether it's "under god" in the pledge, (1954, people!) or the prayer at my public high school (it was the South), to the Ten Commandments in the courts of Ray Moore, this is all a sign of a new trend in the declining power of the establishment clause.

It's disturbing to me, and I may have ranted a bit more vehemently than normal, but you're right about this. It's all too "convient" for that number to be have left out by some "oversight." I don't even think this qualifies for "conspiracy theory," it is just a scary show of what the new powers that be will tell us is worthy.

For some reason I'm sure that BA/Corps has nothing to worry about...

8/25/2006 2:10 AM  
Blogger Jim Chen said...

Thanks to Jonathan Adler, I've learned of another recent episode involving this administration's reaction to the Big Bang. Sigh.

8/25/2006 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Jim Christensen said...

As an attorney, I have certainly had plenty of experience with professors who were willing to tell me whats rights and whats wrong.

And more than one told me just what I could do with dissenting ideas.

But playing politics with science takes many forms.

For example, politicians have had no problem finding scientists willing to provide them with all the wmds they will EVER need.

This unquestioning reverence for science has its own dangers.

Robert Oppenheimer was famous for making a remark to the effect that "scientists have blood on their hands."

Oh, I suppose its not politically correct to ask where research may lead, but perhaps it should be,

8/26/2006 8:29 AM  

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