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8/06/2005

ID round-up

Brian Leiter suggests google bombing "Intelligent Design," which he notes was recently the number one search on Technorati, so that searches on the phrase turn up the National Center for Science Education's denunciation of ID.

Kevin Drum isn't buying the outrage over Bush's recent endorsement of teaching ID that is coming from the right-wing blogosphere:
what bugged me most about this whole affair was reading the faux outrage from Bush's conservative supporters in the blogosphere, as if they had no idea he felt this way before this week. Give it a rest, guys. Bush thinks creationism sounds great, Tom DeLay thinks the teaching of evolution was responsible for the Columbine shootings, and Bill Frist — a medical doctor! — is so scared of the Christian right that last December on "This Week" he hemmed and hawed and fidgeted like a naughty schoolchild while repeatedly declining to say whether he thought HIV-AIDS could be transmitted through tears or sweat.

Note to Bush supporters: You all knew what you were voting for when you put these guys in power. I'm happy to see you on the side of the angels here, but it's a little late to pretend to be shocked that the Republican leadership feels this way.
And Matt Yglesias shrugs his shoulders in response to the whole ID issue:
...the judicial rulings prohibiting the teaching of religious doctrines in science classes are firmly entrenched, and there's no sign the Republican Party is making a serious effort to overturn them. The realistic option on the table is that state governments might, as Kansas did a few years ago, take evolution out of the school curriculum. What happened there, however, was that business groups and conservative elites pretty swiftly countermobilized and got the policy changed because they wanted their kids to be able to get into good colleges.

Last but not least, nothing whatsoever of practical importance hinges on whether or not life on earth originated as a result of intelligent design. The theory is exceedingly silly pseudo-science, but it doesn't actually threaten anything. There is, moreoever, no reason to think it's especially crucial for the average citizen to have an accurate grasp of state-of-the-art biological theory. Most people don't understand quantum mechanics, general relativity, or any number of other scientific and technical topics and life goes on just fine.

Getting snooty about this just feeds into perceptions of liberalism as fundamentally a snobbish, anti-religious, elitist view while distracting attention from the basically reality that the Republican Party is a front organization for corporate managers that puts on a cloak of social conservatism to disguise what it really does in practice. If you must worry about social conservatives, worry about women's reproductive rights and basic equality for gays and lesbians. There's just no there there in the evolution issue.
A couple of points in response to Yglesias: the judicial rulings are beside the point; the whole point of the "Intelligent Design" strategy is to circumvent them - because ID is presented as a scientific theory. It's not, of course, but that's precisely what's at issue, and if it becomes accepted as such, 1st Amendment considerations will be irrelevant.

Also, to say it doesn't matter if students learn biology correctly ... well, then why teach it to them in the first place? Clearly we are saying, by teaching the subject, that there is some value in their learning it; if this is the case, they ought to learn it correctly, no?

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