A little good news: scientists stand up to politicians

And by politicians, I mean the knuckleheaded, blindered-by-the-right-wing nitwits who refuse to believe anything that doesn’t support their political beliefs…or, the beliefs they profess to believe, in order to maintain their political support (there, I believe that’s clear now).  You know, the ones who don’t get Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s epigram that people are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts, and who don’t get the irony that they don’t get it.

Today I ran across this NPR story about scientists in Tennessee fighting a state law that was promoted as an open-minded effort to allow “teachers to question accepted theories on evolution and climate change,” but which the scientists argued was just another attempt to get creationism taught as a theory on a scientific par with evolution.  The story refers to similar efforts in other states where scientists are fighting other efforts to distort science fact into political fiction.

Allow it?  Questioning theories and explaining how hypotheses are proved and become accepted scientific fact is the basis of science.  Teachers don’t need state lawmakers’ permission to break down and explain the parts of any scientific theory, or they shouldn’t.  Not knowing that, while trying to sneak a little religion into the secular science, the grandstanding pols peel back another layer of their own ignorance…or is it another layer of toadiness?

Slamming your eyes shut and screaming “no no no no no no no I can’t hear you” in the face of inconvenient facts is not the reassuring response I want out of my elected representatives.  I agree with Rice University professor Ken Whitney, who thinks that a candidate’s refusal to acknowledge scientific fact as fact ought to be a deal-killer when we go to the ballot box:

I would have an extremely hard time voting for someone who actively argued that evolution should not be taught, or alternately that intelligent design is a valid concept that we should be teaching our kids in public school science classes.

Note, he said we shouldn’t be teaching it in science classes, and that’s because it’s not scientifically valid.  We have to be open-minded enough not to confuse science with religion if we want to get the most value out of each of them.