Sharing Carl Sagan’s Worldview on Science and Progress

The Moonbats are still flying around today, not understanding that while we welcome diverse viewpoints we have lost all toleration for those who habitually argue about things they do not understand, cannot express a coherent viewpoint, quickly resort to personal attacks when the facts of the argument are against them, and who claim tolerance while regularly shouting down those who disagree with them. Perhaps one day the Moonbat we faced today will understand why she is banned from so many sites and ostracized by those former allies she has stabbed in the back. Special commendations to KJ who took the brunt of the Moonbat attack while I was working, and yet also seeks to restore the good name of Moonbats as Robert A. Heinlein envisioned them.

As I compare the views of others, I ran across this Worldview Quiz (hat tip to Pharyngula). I score at ten on both the Progress and Science scales, placing me with Carl Sagan. If I had seen this chart before taking the test I could have saved the time as I’d have no doubt which of these people I’d score with.

Not surprisingly, George Bush, Osama bin Laden, and Pat Robertson are all clumped together at the other end of the chart. In keeping with a discussion earlier where I contrasted the Dalai Lama’s attempts to reconcile science with religion with Deepak Chopra’s anti-science writings, I note that the Dalai Lama is significantly closer to Carl Sagan and I than Chopra is.

Richard Dawkins on Evolution

It’s been a heavy day of Moonbat email following recent discussions of the anti-science views of Deepak Chopra and some who follow him. Following this I needed a good dose of sane discussion. Fortunately I found it in an interview with Richard Dawkins at Beliefnet. (Hat tip to Evolving Thoughts). Also check out the video of the interview with Dawkins on The Colbert Report. Here’s some hightlights from the interview at Beliefnet:

You’re concerned about the state of education, especially science education. If you were able to teach every person, what would you want people to believe?

Not everybody can evaluate all evidence; we can’t evaluate the evidence for quantum physics. So it does have to be a certain amount of taking things on trust. I have to take what physicists say on trust, for example, because I’m a biologist. But science [has] a system of appraisal, of peer review, so that I trust the physics community to get their act together in a way that I know from the inside. I wish people would put their trust in evidence, not in faith, revelation, tradition, or authority.

What do you wish people knew about evolution?

They need to understand what evolution is about. Many of them don’t. I was truly shocked to be told by two separate religious leaders in this country [the U.S.] a few weeks ago–they both said something to the effect that, “I’ll believe in evolution when I see a tailed monkey give birth to a human.”

That is staggering ignorance of what evolutionary science is about; if they think that’s what evolutionists believe, no wonder they’re skeptical of it. How can a civilized country have adult people in positions of leadership who know so stunningly little about the leading biological concept?

You said in a recent speech that design was not the only alternative to chance. A lot of people think that evolution is all about random chance.

That’s ludicrous. That’s ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it’s not anticipatory of what’s needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don’t survive. That’s a non-random process. The animals that are best at whatever they do-hunting, flying, fishing, swimming, digging-whatever the species does, the individuals that are best at it are the ones that pass on the genes. It’s because of this non-random process that lions are so good at hunting, antelopes so good at running away from lions, and fish are so good at swimming. (more…)

Republican Support Falls to New Lows

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll shows further bad news for Republicans as the election gets close:

Support for the Republican-led Congress has eroded to its lowest point since the party’s watershed 1994 victory that brought it House and Senate majorities.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll illustrates the political toll Republicans are paying for rising discontent over the Iraq war, as well as a spate of scandals including the disclosure that Republican House leaders knew of inappropriate emails to House pages from Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned late last month. Voters’ approval of Congress has fallen to 16% from 20% since early September, while their disapproval has risen to 75% from 65%.

That 16% rating statistically matches Congress’s lowest point in the 17 years the Journal and NBC have polled, set in April 1992 when Democrats were in control and suffering from a scandal involving lawmakers’ overdrafts from the House bank. The latest results set other records for the Journal/NBC surveys, all ominous for Republicans — “a harbinger,” in the words of Journal/NBC pollster Peter Hart, “of what’s ahead for the incumbent party. It’s as simple as that.”

They include:

By 52% to 37%, voters say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress. That 15-point advantage is the widest ever registered by either party in the Journal/NBC surveys. Also, the result marks the first time voter preference for one party has exceeded 50%.

Half of independents say they want Democrats to take charge, while only a quarter of them back Republicans. “It’s very unusual to see a majority of independents pick one political party,” notes Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who conducts the surveys with Mr. Hart, his Democratic counterpart.

Two-thirds of the electorate rates this year’s Congress “below average” or “one of the worst” — the poorest showing on that question since it was first asked in 1990.

Mr. Bush, who in the past typically drew high ratings personally even when his job-approval scores sagged, now is viewed negatively by a 52% majority — essentially tying the worst rating of his presidency.

As for the Republican Party, 32% of voters rate it positively but 49% negatively — the highest negative ever in the surveys for either party. On the other hand, the Democratic Party’s reputation improved. After months in which it had a net negative rating only slightly better than Republicans’, the party now is viewed positively by 37% and negatively by 35%.