Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bush is an Idiot

4:15PM on Tuesday, August 2, 2005.  The memory of that moment is seared into my hippocampus as if by a cattle branding iron.  Much as my father recalls the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and my older brother recalls the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and I remember the strike on the Twin Towers, and everybody remembers when Bush used the word, "Crusade," it is one of those memories that simply will not die.
Bush Remarks Roil Debate Over Teaching of Evolution

Published: August 3, 2005

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 - A sharp debate between scientists and religious conservatives escalated Tuesday over comments by President Bush that the theory of intelligent design should be taught with evolution in the nation's public schools.

In an interview at the White House on Monday with a group of Texas newspaper reporters, Mr. Bush appeared to endorse the push by many of his conservative Christian supporters to give intelligent design equal treatment with the theory of evolution in public schools.

Recalling his days as Texas governor, Mr. Bush said in the interview, according to a transcript, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." Asked again by a reporter whether he believed that both sides in the debate between evolution and intelligent design should be taught in the schools, Mr. Bush replied that he did, "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Mr. Bush was pressed as to whether he accepted the view that intelligent design was an alternative to evolution, but he did not directly answer. "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," he said, adding that "you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes." [...]
I credit the reporter for pointing out that Bush evaded the most pertinent question, then lied by saying that he had been asked something other than what he actually had been asked.  Too often journalists let politicians (of both major parties) get away with things like that.  

First of all, there is a difference between "teaching the controversy," and teaching intelligent design.  I have no problem with the notion of teaching scientific controversies.  In fact, I think there should be more of that.  Too many kids graduate from high school with a faulty notion of how science works, and teaching some real controveries would help correct that deficiency.

As I write this, I am aware that there are nice, serious, and thoughtful ladies and gentlemen who will disagree with me.  I do not mean to offened them.  However, I do mean to stress the point, that there is a difference between teaching the controversy, and teaching Intelligent Design.  Perhaps the distinction is subtle, but it is valid and it is important...

(Also as I write this, I am aware that this post will end up containing the words "assassinate," "President," and "Bush."  Note to the underpaid, overworked FBI agent reading this: I am a near-pacifist.  The last time I hit someone in anger was when I was in seventh grade.  And the other guy hit me first.  I then proceeded to knock him flat on his back.  But really, I'm harmless.  If you want to come and take my computer, fine.  Just be sure to get a search warrant, signed by a judge, first.)  

...Second,  as scientific controversies go, Intelligent Design is pretty close to the bottom of the list (in fact, it is not even on the list).  It is not particularly controversial in scientific circles, and it is not particularly interesting.  See Carl Zimmer's essay on the subject for a review of the truly interesting aspects of the questions pertaining to the origin of life.  {Carl already has responded [43,000 Scientists: Bush Puts Schoolchildren At Risk] to the Bush Blunder, as I am sure hundreds -- if not thousands -- of other bloggers are doing this evening.}  Dr. Myers already has 55 comments to his post on the subject.

I used to post of this subject a lot, when I was a newbie, before I realized that Panda's Thumb and Talk.Origins were already thrashing the subject to its well-deserved death.  I think I even posted, a while back, that I wasn't going to write about this anymore.  But when the President of the United States of America went on the public record with such a bizarre, concocted, and yes -- politically-motivated -- load, I just had to speak up. Sometimes, you just have to brand a heifer for what it really is.

(Image used with apology to William M. Thayer)

Update: Pharyngula already has a list of 133 bloggers who have spoken up on this. Many more will follow...
Categories: rants, politics, science