Who speaks for Bush?

Who speaks for Bush?

Who speaks for Bush?

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 11 2006 8:54 PM

Who speaks for Bush?

A creationist? Hard to say, but Tony Snow, the ex-Fox commentator and new White House Press Secretary is no friend of evolution (read: scientific truth). The Panda's Thumb has the scoop on him, but his own words make it clear that reality escapes him:

This brings us back to the two threshold questions. Most people believe science unravels deep, eternal truths -- that it is "perfect." But the history of science teaches that today's cocksure theory is tomorrow's crackpot superstition.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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I wouldn't describe evolutionary biologists as "cocksure". That fits most of the vocal ID proponents better in my opinion. But I find his point to be purely misdirection: science doesn't care what people think of it. Science isn't perfect, and no true scientist would say it is. A real scientist understands that science is our best tool to uncovering the ways the Universe works. Saying that people think it's "perfect" is a strawman argument, a simple distortion that's easy to tear down.

Today, evolutionary theorists find themselves at wits' end because the fossil record provides no evidence of any species ever turning into another. We know species adjust to environmental conditions -- ever notice how tall kids are these days? -- and that natural selection does occur. But there's nothing to vindicate the notion of an evolutionary leap.

I almost find it funny when pundits with no background in science at all make sweeping statements about it that are so grossly and terribly wrong. A quick web search (what? actually researching something?) netted me a FAQ listing transitions including primitive fish to bony fish, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to birds... as I like to say, when a paleontologist finds a transition fossil, the creationist claims "Now there are two gaps!".

But then Snow goes for the absurd:

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These little insights give us the basis for admitting both views into the educational system. Evolutionary theory, like ID, isn't verifiable or testable. It's pure hypothesis -- like ID -- although very popular in the scientific community. Its limits help illuminate the fact that hypotheses are only as durable as the evidence that supports them.

Evolution, a hypothesis? Our new Press Secretary has no clue what he's talking about here. Evolution is both a theory and a fact. And I mean a scientific theory, in that it is far and away the best model we have for how something works. ID is neither a fact nor a theory, and is not science as such. It is not even really religion, though it's really just warmed-over creationism (which is provably wrong). All it is is anti-evolution. And so many ID proponents are willing to distort truth, make bad arguments, use fallacious arguments, and flat out lie about it that I think ID would be deader than phlogiston if most Americans really knew what people like Dembksi were really saying about it.

Instead, they hear incredibly wrong "talking points" spoken as if they are simple truths, and thus see science -- and the Universe -- through incredibly distorted glasses.

I will be keeping a close eye on Snow when he talks science from the White House podium. Their record is already pretty poor, and appointing Snow to this position doesn't make me very hopeful for improvement.