Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scientific reaction to cartoons

I guess somebody had to break this story, and Tim Kreider, drawing for the Baltimore Weekly, did it in the edition of 15-22 February 2006:

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The science[-abusing] president

Did I hear about some mention of support of science in the State of the Union Address?
Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

I'm sure I did, because I also heard, as counterpoint, mention of layoffs due to budget cutbacks at one of the agencies Bush just finished praising and announcing increased support.

Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly is one of many to observe how the Bush Administration ignores and distorts government-sponsored scientific research that doesn't support Bush's ideological agenda. This is the president who, last August, declared that public schools ought to teach a religious view (Intelligent Design Creationism) as if it were a science.

So it comes as no surprise (but is no less infuriating) that we learn that a wet-behind-the-ears kid, George Deutsch, fresh out of college and after an internship in "the political war room" of the Bush campaign, appointed by Bush to censor inconvenient facts, admonished the creator of a NASA web page. Bad Astronomer Phil Plait provides an excellent rant of how this journalism major took it upon himself to (incorrectly) explain what is and is not science. The object of his censure? The Big Bang:
The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

(from the New York Times 4 February).
It's obvious Mr. Deutsch did not take any science courses when he studied journalism. A theory is not, as Creationists so commonly believe, merely a hunch or opinion; it is an explanation of a phenomenon that is backed up by scientific evidence and testing. Advocates of Creationism generally fail to recognize this when they call for teaching the(?!) alternative to the theory of evolution.

How can President Bush claim to be a supporter of science when his administration actively impedes science through underfunding and censorship of the dissemination of the results of scientific study? It's blatant hypocrisy.

The purpose of this post is to add one more voice calling for an end to the deceit practised by this administration. Perhaps this will happen when it becomes routine to hear on the six o'clock news, "Once again an administration appointee has engaged in the abuse of science, this time by..." and the public realizes the extent to which this has become common practice--and rebels.

Additional voices reacting to this egregious example of science abuse can be found at

New York Times on openness at NASA
plus recent item on censoring global warming comments of James Hansen (there may be a cost)

Bad Astronomy

Stranger Fruit


Cosmic Variance

Washington Monthly

and of course, check Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science for a history of science abuse, particularly in the current administration, and the Union of Concerned Scientists for further documentation.