Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No ID Required, Thanks

At left, a dinosaur saddle as exhibited at the creation museum described on the PBS NewsHour earlier this year.
Even in the developing world, where I spend lots of time doing my work, if you tell them that you're from MIT and you tell them that you do science, it's a big deal. If I go to India and tell them I'm from MIT, it's a big deal. In Thailand, it's a big deal. If I go to Iowa, they could give a rat's ass. And that's a weird thing, that we're moving in that direction as a nation.
That's MIT professor Kip Hodges in Charles P. Pierce's "Greetings from Idiot America" in the November issue of Esquire (reprinted here). Now, it's possible that the reactions Hodges gets overseas simply reflect the more educated milieu he moves in when traveling, but I still think his point is well taken. In his article, Pierce reminds us that this country was founded by intellectually curious individuals and he decries the fall we've seen from "Jefferson's observatory and Franklin's kite to George W. Bush ... suggesting that intelligent design be taught alongside the theory of evolution in the nation's classes."

Pierce also points out that the fact that ID
enjoys a certain public cache is irrelevant; a higher percentage of Americans believes that a government conspiracy killed John F. Kennedy than believes in intelligent design, but there is no great effort abroad in the land to include that conspiracy theory in sixth-grade textbooks.
Good point, and as Pierce also points out, there is no real "debate" between ID and evolution anyway. ID simply isn't a theory because, as we should be teaching out elementary school students, a scientific theory must be testable, repeatable, verifiable--important characteristics that Intelligent Design simply doesn't reflect. ID, therefore is opinion or belief even, but not a theory. It's not fit for our science classes. Bible study, fine. Science class, no.

Why six of ten Board of Education members in Kansas didn't understand these elementary and fundamental concepts of scientific theory, I couldn't say.

Oh, and on the subject of evolution, Pierce quotes that great American intellect Larry King as saying,
All right, hold on. Dr. Forrest, your concept of how can you out-and-out turn down creationism, since if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?
Is it any wonder there's a surfeit of ignorance in what should be one of the world's best educated countries when the most prominent of our media so profoundly don't get the more elementary principles of evolution and natural selection?

And King asked that question as if he'd wrapped his hands around a "gotcha!" moment.

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