Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin's Choice

Overall, I am impressed with McCain's choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running-mate. She's a strong reformer, and the Republican Party in Alaska has long needed one. So does Washington, of course. She's geographically and politically nearly as far as you can get and still remain in the United States.

I don't like Palin's flirting with creationism. It's bad science, and I'm disappointed that she advocated it being taught along with evolution as an alternative. Scientists have used evolutionary theory to make many important discoveries, some far afield from biology.

Creationism has produced no scientific discoveries, and remains utterly without evidence, as even some backers of its offspring, intelligent design creationism, have admitted. Michael Medved, of the intelligent design outfit the Discovery Institute, made that clear recently: (emphasis and h/t from Little Green Footballs)

Q: Speaking of your desire for this kind of particularity, you are a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute that studies and believes in Intelligent Design. How do you, as an Orthodox Jew, reconcile with this kind of generality - with the view of their being a hierarchy with a chief “designer” - while believing in and praying to a very specific God?

The important thing about Intelligent Design is that it is not a theory - which is something I think they need to make more clear. Nor is Intelligent Design an explanation. Intelligent Design is a challenge. It’s a challenge to evolution. It does not replace evolution with something else.

Q: The question is not whether it replaces evolution, but whether it replaces God.

No, you see, Intelligent Design doesn’t tell you what is true; it tells you what is not true. It tells you that it cannot be that this whole process was random.

As is typical with the intelligent design creationists, Medved fails to comprehend that natural selection, as Darwin termed his theory, is not wholly random.

But while creationism is one of the dangerous anti-science idiocies found on the right, the far left has its own share of anti-science idiocies that may be even more deadly to science and human knowledge. Radical leftists like Obama's pal Bill Ayers explicitly champion an ideology-based teaching of science in which the search for facts by interrogating nature gives way to indoctrination:

In 1997, Ayers and his mentor Maxine Greene persuaded Teachers College Press to launch a series of books on social justice teaching, with Ayers as editor and Greene serving on the editorial board (along with Rashid Khalidi, loyal supporter of the Palestinian cause and the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University). Twelve volumes have appeared so far, including one titled Teaching Science for Social Justice.

Teaching science for social justice? Let Teachers College professor Angela Calabrese Barton, the volume’s principal author, try to explain: “The marriages between capitalism and education and capitalism and science have created a foundation for science education that emphasizes corporate values at the expense of social justice and human dignity.” The alternative? “Science pedagogy framed around social justice concerns can become a medium to transform individuals, schools, communities, the environment, and science itself, in ways that promote equity and social justice. Creating a science education that is transformative implies not only how science is a political activity but also the ways in which students might see and use science and science education in ways transformative of the institutional and interpersonal power structures that play a role in their lives.”

So while McCain's vice presidential pick has implicitly indicated sympathy for a movement that would undermine biology to support Christian fundamentalism, Obama's mentor has explicitly endorsed a movement that would eviscerate all of science so students can be brainwashed into anti-capitalistic America-haters.

I know which side I'm wholly not on.

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