Creationist Claims Science Kills People

The Anti-Defamation League has issued a statement condemning the creationist movie Expelled:

New York, NY, April 29, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued the following statement regarding the controversial film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness.

Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

John Derbyshire provides an example of what those behind this movie are claiming:

In an interview with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Ben Stein said the following amazing thing in an interview with Paul Crouch, Jr.

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.You can see the whole shameful thing here. It’s a pity Crouch didn’t invite the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the studio for a three-way conversation. It would have elevated the tone.

I also recently quoted Derbyshire’s comments on Expelled here. P.Z. Myers presents this video in response to Stein’s view that “science leads to killing people.”


California Academy of Sciences on the Central Role of Evolution in Modern Science

The California Academy of  Sciences released this statement on evolution last March, but is well worth posting after the National Center for Science Education reposted it yesterday.

Evolution is a central concept in modern science, including biology, geology, and astronomy. The California Academy of Sciences, with its broad mission to explore, explain, and protect the natural world, recognizes that evolution is fundamental to understanding biological diversity and is a critical organizing principle for both scientific research and science museums.

In biology, the basic facts of evolution, including the extinction and emergence of new species over time, were understood and accepted by the end of the nineteenth century. Charles Darwin identified natural selection as a primary mechanism driving evolution (that some organisms are more likely to survive and reproduce, thus their genetic traits will be inherited by future generations while other traits will be lost). Through selection, some life-forms thrive, reproduce, and adapt as conditions change, whereas others disappear. The detailed processes that create variation and drive natural selection became evident during the twentieth century with the discoveries of DNA and molecular inheritance. Twentieth century geologists also learned to use radioactivity to determine the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years), and astronomers discovered the expansion of the universe, measuring its age as approximately 14 billion years. Change is an inherent property of stars, planets, and life.

Scientists in many fields use evolutionary concepts daily in their research. In pharmacology and agriculture, these concepts are central to efforts to overcome the evolution of harmful organisms that have become resistant to antibiotics or pesticides. Evolution as the organizing principle for science museums has transformed the eighteenth-century collections of “curiosities” into modern museums of natural history. The California Academy of Sciences recognizes the importance of understanding evolution for both scientists and the public, and we emphasize that evolution belongs in school curricula and textbooks as one of the fundamental concepts of modern science.

An Egghead For The Oval Office

In 2000 and 2004 many people voted for George Bush because they would rather have a beer with him than with Al Gore or John Kerry. We’ve seen the result of a President who lacks the intellectual curiosity to evaluate the problems faced by the nation. Eugene Robinson is  concerned about the response to The Assault on Reason where many feel “Gore, poor fellow, is just too ostentatiously smart to be elected president.” Robinson believes we’d be better off with an egghead:

I want a president who reads newspapers, who reads books other than those that confirm his worldview, who bones up on Persian history before deciding how to deal with Iran’s ambitious dreams of glory. I want a president who understands the relationship between energy policy at home and U.S. interests in the Middle East — and who’s smart enough to form his or her own opinions, not just rely on what old friends in the oil business say.

I want a president who looks forward to policy meetings on health care and has ideas to throw into the mix.

I want a president who believes in empirical fact, whose understanding of spirituality is complete enough to know that faith is “the evidence of things not seen” and who knows that for things that can be seen, the relevant evidence is fact, not belief. I want a president — and it’s amazing that I even have to put this on my wish list — smart enough to know that Darwin was right.

Actually, I want a president smart enough to know a good deal about science. He or she doesn’t have to be able to do the math, but I want a president who knows that the great theories underpinning our understanding of the universe — general relativity and quantum mechanics — have stood for nearly a century and proved stunningly accurate, even though they describe a world that is more shimmer than substance. I want him or her to know that there’s a lot we still don’t know.

I want the next president to be intellectually curious — and also intellectually honest. I want him or her to understand the details, not just the big picture. I won’t complain if the next president occasionally uses a word I have to look up.

The comments on science, and on recognizing the difference between fact and belief, were particularly welcome to read considering some of the recent comments to posts here from people who deny established science regarding either evolution or climate change. Some commenting show no understanding of the differences between science and religion, seeing either as an equally valid opinion, oblivious to the rigorous verification process demanded by modern science. My fear is that these types of comments are representative of an overall ignorance of science in the general population, which is responsible for the adoption of a flat-earth philosophy by the Republican Party.

Kansas Board of Education Approves New Science Standards

Kansas has approved the new standards (previously discussed here) which eliminate the anti-evolution guidelines. While the important thing is that they have passed the new standards, its a shame they couldn’t have done so one day earlier. It would have been a great way to celebrate Darwin Day.

Happy Darwin Day

Today is Darwin Day in honor of Charles Darwin (February 12, 1809-April 19, 19982). Darwin’s 200th birthday will fall on February 12, 2009 which also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. The goal of the Darwin Day Celebration is “encourage existing institutions worldwide, such as municipalities, public and private schools, colleges and universities, libraries, museums, churches, private organizations and individuals to celebrate Science and Humanity every year, on, or near, February 12, Darwin’s birthday!”

Science Briefs: Darwin Bobbleheads, Pluto Saved, And Princess Leia as Hot Slave Babe

Scientists from the United States, Belgium and France identified 49 “human accelerated regions” which show a lot of genetic activity and are believe to possibly be “the missing links of human genetic evolution.” If this convinces you that Darwin was right, you can now order your very own Darwin Bobble Head here.

Pluto has been saved. After discussion to remove Pluto’s status as a planet, the International Astronomical Union decided instead to maintain Pluto’s status but add three more planets. The Boston Globe summarizes the decision. The three new planets are Ceres, currently considered a large asteroid, Charon, now considered a moon of Pluto, and Xena, a recently discovered object that is larger than Pluto. There is no mention as to whether any of these new planets have internet access or WMD.

Several blogs have followed the lead of Bitch Ph.D. and are questioning if the scenes of Princess Leia as a slave are the reason so fewer women than men went into science and engineering.

If there is any validity to this argument, the harm may have been done well before Star Wars:

Intelligent Design Equals Creationism

Someone is out of the loop. Intelligent Design was promoted as an attempt to get around the Supreme Court’s ruling against teaching Creationism in the schools. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on how the Repubican candidate for Attorney General slipped:

“The old creation science is the new intelligent design. And yes, I think it’s scientifically valid,” DeLay said.

No surprise here. Hat tip to Panda’s Thumb.

Previous comments on this below the fold.