Sunday, August 28, 2005

Good science, bad science, or no science?

Once again, PZ Myers is showing justified dismay at the politically and religiously driven attempts to undermine science, this time as defined (for the purposes of transfer credits) by the University of California. Long story short: science departments in the UC system kinda feel like science credits leading toward a UC degree should reflect evidence of scientific knowledge. Whereas, there are folks suing the UC to accept as science credits credits earned from classes taught with textbooks that say "the Word of God" trumps science.

You can see the potential conflict here.

But here's the element that really jumped out at me from this particular rant (Pharyngula is perhaps my favorite online source of rants):

The press covering this battle, and the creationism vs. evolutionary theory war over all, have been portraying this as a battle between competing scientific theories. The struggle has been treated as one where the entrenched scientific view is refusing to deal with criticism, or where religious folks are striving to find a way to do science that's consistent with their beliefs. It's been treated as a question of "Which of these theories is good science?"

But, strategically, that doesn't seem to be what the proponents of creationism/ID are really after.

It's not that there are loads of scientists doing field or laboratory research guided by the theory of intelligent design whose requests for funding are being denied, whose research reports are being rejected, or whatever. ID-driven biology is not being offered as an alternative scientific research program.

Rather, the goal seems to be to undercut science altogether. You have the scriptures; why do you need science to answer questions that have already been answered?

Given how freaked out the average consumer of news is by science, the "theory vs. theory" storyline is pretty easy to sell. I wonder how the public would respond, however, if the press managed to illuminate the "science vs. no science" nature of the battle.


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