07 July 2010


(Click on any image to enlarge.)

CENSORSHIP. It is not news that both BP and Federal estimates for how much oil is hemorrhaging into the Gulf of Mexico have been monumentally understated since day one of the spill. Similarly, for all the benign TV ads about paying for damages in a fair and timely manner, BP's record to date has been abyssmal to non-existent for residents of the Gulf Coast. The entire affair has been conducted with a level of incompetence that borders on the intentional.

Now CNN's Anderson Cooper reports that both BP and the Feds have begun to censor news coverage of the spill, control and recovery efforts, and the direct effects on the environment and on wildlife. The free flow of news is essential in a democratic republic, and censorship's only legitimate application is in time of war -- and then sparingly. I am heartsick over the images of oil-covered sea birds, furious over the continuing mismanagement of the disaster, and livid that anyone should try to keep the public from knowing the full truth. I urge everyone to call and email your congressional delegation and the White House, demanding that they remove all censorship, and that they permanently ban offshore oil drilling. The risks are too great.

600. On a lighter note, today I received my 600th movie from Netflix since starting to rent DVDs from them in September 2006. The film happens to be The Spitfire Grill, a story about second chances. I tend to gravitate toward foreign films, US independent films, dramas, and a number of "chick flicks" -- anything written and acted with intelligence, passion, originality. Such alternative windows onto the world can only broaden one's own horizons.

CLUELESS. Speaking of horizons, I came across a video titled Rare Look Inside Bible Belt Classroom -- a place of very narrow horizons indeed. The local high school science teacher, in a public school where creationism is not allowed to be taught by Federal law, chooses to disregard that law. He claims to present a balanced view of both creationism and evolution, but his Christian fundamentalist beliefs clearly distort his teaching. And his fundamentalist Christian students mindlessly soak it all in, with no voice of scientific dissent present.

It is simply not possible for one person to legitimately present both views. I, as a scientist and an atheist, could make an informed effort to teach classes on religion, but in the eyes of most I would have little credibility. Rightfully so. Creationism is religion, it is not science. It has no place in a science class, only in a church.

A more valid approach might be to host a panel discussion between those who believe in creationism and those who accept evolution. But then, that's been done repeatedly in courtrooms, and evolution always wins. Why? Because parsimony and the scientific method demand that any explanation be falsifiable. This does not mean that the assertion is false. It means that the assertion is capable of being proven false. If no such proof emerges, then the assertion is conditionally accepted as being true, subject to further investigation. That is how science works -- our understanding of physics, biology, chemistry or cosmology changes over time, as we learn new facts and are able to incorporate them into what is already known, revising as necessary. As further investigation affirms a hypothesis, it becomes a well-tested theory. All this experimentation and confirmation is performed with rigor, and must pass peer review over time. There is no rushing good science, for good reason. Our knowledge doubles every three to five years. Science is not static. It grows.

Creationism, like any religious belief, is inherently NOT falsifiable. One can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a deity. One can only make a leap of faith .... or not. That is why creationism is not science. And that is why it has no place in a science classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment