Caffeine, or righteous indignance
I'm a few days behind on this, admittedly, but I just read all the comments on Nick Matzke's post about Tony Snow. Here we see a Bush-supporting but apparently otherwise intelligent conservative economist (how a conservative economist could support this money-hemorrhaging administration I'll never know) arguing that because not all Republicans are fundies, then the fundies are not in charge of the government, QED. Of course this is comforting but terrifically naive, not least because Bush has apparently decided that Congress is no longer significant to his decisions. He is The Decider, after all -- who needs to listen to liberals or science-lovin' conservatives?
I am glad -- thrilled -- that there are non-fundamentalist conservatives, because hopefully they'll eventually notice and get disgusted with the fact that "their" government is run by a cadre of zealots engaging in a holy war on all fronts. (The numbers would suggest that this realization has already happened, but see the link.) But for non-fundamentalist conservatives to support this administration and to vote for Republicans now really does negate any rationality or love of science they profess. It's becoming increasingly clear that you must make a choice: Bush or science. If you accept one, you throw the other away.
And I can't quite understand the rationale, either. A prospective Nader voter once told me that he believed Bush was evil, and believed that Bush would probably win if progressives voted anything but Democratic, but he was going to vote for Nader anyway. I'm equally flummoxed by the logic of these putative science-supporting Republicans. So you know that Bush is a fundamentalist zealot who doesn't support science either financially or conceptually, but you still support this administration because... what? Liberals don't have big enough muscles or good enough hair? You don't like Michael Moore? A liberal stole your lunch money? You hate the poor?
From Matzke's post, I went to Snow's column on why rational debate about evolution is impossible. This runs to some 762 words, when of course a handful would have sufficed -- "because support of ID is not a rational position." But pundits bloviating about how intelligent design is about evidence, rather than faith and ignorance, is nothing new. The really choice part was this:
A century ago, physicists boasted of having solved all the major problems involved in studying the universe. The following year, their smugness collapsed when a patent clerk named Einstein published his paper on general relativity.In other words, the theory of general relativity is not "just a theory," despite being almost definitionally unobservable by direct means -- the IDers playground-level "were you there? Did you see it?" comeback works particularly well on Einstein. And, of course, general relativity has certainly never been proven; rather, it's been rigorously tested and significantly not disproven, because that is how science works. But because you have to understand relativity quite well before you find that it conflicts with fundamentalist Christianity, Snow feels comfortable throwing it around as an example of scientific ego deflated. What a tool.
Luckily, the intelligent and eloquent guys are still on our side. Pharyngula's defense of secularism should be posted in every school, church, and courtroom; we should papier-mache the Capitol with it. Bora at Science and Politics just posted a pithy and perfect explanation of why he'll be teaching evolution -- because regardless of political and religious affiliations, "teaching biology without evolution is like teaching English without verbs." And of course there's Stephen Colbert, bless him (in a secular way, of course). Plus, I still haven't removed the coffee variable, so maybe I'm madder than I need to be (there's also the confounding factor of having gotten involved in an argument with someone who says that women should be treated like "prey" because they have a whole different chromosome and therefore are illogical and bad at math). But you know, I suspect that the state of the country, and all it implies for education and science and democracy, has something to do with it. Intelligent eloquent guys, talk louder!
Too Much Coffee Man is copyright Shannon Wheeler, please don't sue me, I buy tons of your books