Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Science in America
Ideology is eclipsing empirical evidence. The article is long and frightening, but worth reading. Here are some choice bits:

The government ignored the protests of its top geologists in 2003 when it decided to allow the sale of a book at Grand Canyon National Park claiming that Noah's biblical flood created the chasm 4,500 years ago -- an estimate scientists suggest is short by six million years.

The author of As Jesus Cared for Women, Dr. Hager is known widely for having refused to prescribe contraception to unmarried women, and recommending Bible-reading to relieve PMS. His placement on the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee is one of many controversial appointments Mr. Bush has made.

...statistics from the U.S. National Science Bureau that suggest 61 per cent of Americans believe in ESP and 41 per cent think astrology is scientific.

Just last month, movie theatres in Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas refused to run an IMAX film about volcanoes, fearing that it might offend people who do not believe in evolution.

"If you believe the world is going to end soon, then you don't need to worry about conservation."

No public-health official opposes teaching abstinence. But they argue that emphasizing it over other prevention ignores the fact that different people require different approaches. The vast majority of the roughly 40,000 new HIV infections in the United States each year, for example, involve gay men. But if sex outside marriage is considered wrong, and gays cannot marry, the implicit and unrealistic message is that gays should never have sex.

Where are we at? Scientists need to engage with the public, mounting a political campaign of their own.

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