Sunday, July 03, 2005

At War Against Science

Perhaps the most destructive trend in the current political culture is the anti-intellectual disparagement of scientific fact in favor of ideology to an extent unprecedented in memory. At times, the facts get in the way. Our government selectively looks at relevant scientific study, and, when the scientific findings disagree with the need for profit for big business, our current government ignores it, censors it or changes it. Whether it's simply understood at all levels that such censorship procedures are to be done, or is a directive from higher up, it's impossible to know for sure.

Though there exists substantial concern for the effects of global warming, the current political bureaucracy does not acknowledge it even exists (even when their own researchers admit to it). Similarly, pressure is applied by conservative religious groups to displace solid scientific method with judgments based on faith or guesswork, just as industry lobbies its view. How does an informed citizen separate the two?

For instance, Intelligent Design cannot be tested in a scientific way; it does not possess the scientific import of a theory. An adherent of ID can make a hypothesis, but they can't very well set up an experiment or make verifiable observations to prove their supposition. The strongest ID arguments are based on observations of complexity in Nature which suggest to some exponents plausible conclusions of Godly creation, but with no corroborating, rigorous experimental evidence. Even before Darwin, evolutionary scientists were measuring, examining, and verifying the evidence of our fossil record. This is not to say that ID might not be a possibility, but this is the best they can do, to suggest that this complex stucture must have been designed by higher powers. This is not Science; ID has no place in a Science classroom. In fact, proponents of ID tend to attack the scientists for their studies, claiming victimhood for their Christian beliefs. Of course, evolutionary theory does not conflict with ideas of God or spiritual values. Evolution does conflict with literal word-for-word interpretations of the Christian Bible like the creation story in Genesis. Such strict readings of the Bible would have us condoning slavery, as it does in the Book of Leviticus.

Recently, it was reported that administration "scientist" Phillip Cooney had left out or edited information in government studies on the relationship between greenhouse gases and global warming, just as he resigned to go to work for Exxon. So we are paying our tax dollars for an oil lobbyist to censor valid science in favor of elite industry, not the public good. Sidelight: Exxon has yet to pay a cent to Native American victims of the Exxon Valdez disaster. However, this company has paid $55 million (over the last six years) in political contributions, largely to Republicans. So we have a situation as we so often do in the current political climate where issues of profit are somehow tied to "moral", religious issues and overrule actual efforts to arrive at a true understanding of the science.

With all the lies and misrepresentations the public has been presented on the war and on social security, it's imperative to be skeptical. The American people deserve no less than proper Science.


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