Sign of the times

The great Mark Kleiman reports on a young “Bushoid’s” attempt to dumb down America and declare war on science.

I’ve argued in the past that since most anti-Darwinists don’t object to scientific cosmology โ€” which is after all just as contrary to a literal reading of Genesis as is natural selection โ€” their objection to Darwin must have other roots, in particular to the perceived moral implications of the denial that human being are made in the Image of God.

Well, that theory may have some substance to it, but the premise needs work. It turns out that some especially ignorant and bigoted Biblical literalists do want to deny the Big Bang along with natural selection. That isn’t surprising, I suppose. What ought to be surprising, but also isn’t really surprising by now, is that the Bush Administration has put some of those especially ignorant and bigoted Biblical literalists in positions where they can threaten and boss around actual scientists.

It turns out that George Deutsch, the juvenile Bushoid who told the top climate guy at Goddard that there would be “dire consequences” if he didn’t shut up about global warming, also applied his talents for obscurantism and censorship to the origins of the universe:

The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose rรฉsumรฉ says he was an intern in the “war room” of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen’s public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word “theory” needed to be added after every mention of 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.”

It continued: “This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.”

The good news is that the NASA Director just sent out a memo telling the political hacks to knock it off and let the scientists do their work. The bad news is that NASA, like the rest of the government, is still infested with an especially noxious species of political hack. And note that Dean Acosta, the NASA director’s press secretary, says that NASA will, in fact, insist on referring to the “Big Bang theory” just as the junior commissar insisted.

Sure, the Big Bang is a theory. Like evolution. But we don’t refer to evolution as “the theory of evolution,” at least not usually. This isn’t about scientific integrity. As Kleiman says, it’s about obscuring the origins of the universe in order to keep the door open for a less reputable theory, Creationism.

[I know, I said I’d be hibernating. But blogging can be compulsive. I’ll try to get back to my vacation now.]

The Discussion: 7 Comments

I have just a subtle – but significant – disagreement here, with the phrase “obscuring the origins of the universe”:

Well, I say that the origins of the universe ARE obscure, and to presume otherwise is to presume that Humans are privy to the same kind of omniscience as God (or gods.)

The origins of the universe ARE obscure, and that’s precisely what’s wrong with the “Creationists” (who not only violate the spirit of science, but ALSO violate the spirit of Christian humility in the face of God….it’s a kind of idolatry to presume that any Human language can describe the origins of the universe with any clarity or finality….)

February 4, 2006 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

Deutsch should also decree that any bible or document should also “in the threory of creationism,” before the versus in the bible that talks about God creating everything.

Nasa is a science based organization (at least to my knowledge). Science only seeks to explain all occurences in the natural world. This does not include god, gods, or god’s. If it did include it, it needs to explain how god was born what powers him, and evidence of his existence. (And this means more than “Oh I know he exists! Don’t you see, he’s everywhere!”)

February 4, 2006 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

Who shot the ‘big bang’ and where did the ammo come from?

February 4, 2006 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

“Who shot the big bang and where did the ammo come from?”

No mortal man can answer that. But one thing is clear: Whoever shot the big bang wasn’t using a condom.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist…. ๐Ÿ™‚

February 4, 2006 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

OK, who’s for lobbying the NASA to mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster ?

February 4, 2006 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

I take it that you are all aware that the BB isn’t the only ‘scientific’ creation story, and that some of the data on the BB contradicts other bits of data.

For example, microwave radiation imaging of the visible universe appears to indicate that it is expanding in a cone shape, known as the Picard Topology. I swear that this is true, even the fact that it is named after a character from star trek (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4879)

Under a true BB situation, it should be shaped like a squere and be evenly distributed.

February 9, 2006 @ 9:55 am | Comment

I believe it has now been determined that Mr. Deutsch isn’t even a graduate of anyplace in any discipline. Another example of truthiness?

February 10, 2006 @ 12:34 am | Comment

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