You want "Intelligent Design"? "Stephen K. Robinson, an astronaut with a Stanford Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, walked into space this morning and repaired a worrisome problem on the shuttle Discovery with the simplest of tools: the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.
With the president endorsing teaching "intelligent design" (ID) alongside evolution in the public schools, "at the very least it makes Americans who have that position more respectable," observes Christian conservative leader Gary L. Bauer, adding "It's a view held by the majority of Americans." And that's a problem. In fact, it's two problems.
#1. If the polls are to be believed, a majority of our fellow citizens are scientifically illiterate. Rand Simberg of Terrestrial Musings, blogged here, explains:
ID simply says, "I'm not smart enough to figure out how this structure could evolve, therefore there must have been a designer." That's not science -- it's simply an invocation of a deus ex machina, whether its proponents are willing to admit it or not. And it doesn't belong in a science classroom, except as an example of what's not science.
You want deus ex machina? "Perched on the end of the International Space Station's 58-foot robotic arm, Dr. Robinson easily removed the so-called gap-filler cloths that had protruded above the surface of the heat-resistant tiles on the shuttle's underbelly."
#2. The Leader of the Free World appears to think #1 is okay. As The Commissar of The Politburo Diktat " [via Instapundit, who has lots of gratifyingly ranty links] asks with disgust, "Is Bush ‘playing to the base’ or does he believe it? I don’t know which is worse." And Pixy Misa of Ambient Irony [via Balloon Juice] points out -- more in sorrow than in anger -- "President Bush, much as I respect the man, is promoting academic fraud . . . and it has to be said loud and clear."
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled," wrote Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman, commenting re the rarely mentioned fact that the foam that's causing the problems was reformulated to appease environmental groups [via Mikes' Noise],
Being a Darwinian Libertarian, we've flogged the topic here early and often:
We know in our bones that Intelligent Design is a matter not of scientific inquiry but of faith, the progenitor of science. Our species is wired for faith. By nature we seek patterns in chaos and causes in coincidence. It's a survival thing -- as blogged here. But once you've reached the discipline of scientific inquiry, how can you turn back to Intelligent Design?
Of course you have to reach the discipline of scientific inquiry first. Not to mention the discipline of historical inquiry. Both are casualties of proselytizers determined to force the one true way onto the rest of us. And they come from both ends of the political spectrum. As we blogged a couple of months back:
Carol Brown -- a dissenting member of the Dover, Pennsylvania school board that voted last fall to mandate the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in biology classes -- worries that "We have a vocal group within the community who feel very strongly in an evangelical Christian way that there is no separation of church and state." Can you say the Taliban? We agree with Ms. Brown totally but observe that it's hard to tell the difference between the fundamentalists' no-prisoners approach and that of the P.C. thought police on the other side of the cultural divide. They, too, are "a vocal group within the community who feel strongly" in an international progressivist way that there is no separation of politically-correct thought and state.
It's easier to remove gap fillers from a space ship in orbit 220 miles above the Earth than to tell the difference between the religious fundamentalists' no-prisoners approach and that of the P.C. thought police on the other side of the cultural divide.
In a world gone mad, where the #1 priority for math teachers in Newton, MA is teaching "respect for human differences," Dr. Sanity arrives just in time:
The religions of political correctness, multiculturalism and Gaia are already polluting young minds in almost all areas of study -- even math and science. We don't need an ill-informed and angry Christian RIGHT to decimate whatever is left of arts and science education.
What comes to mind?
Update: Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings expounds upon the "Bozo the Clown" fallacy.