Happy New Year!

January 6th, 2006

As I start this new year trying to avoid resolutions having to do with exercise or diet (because I will surely fail myself within mere weeks), I am resolving to at least keep up with this here weblog. I finally have a reliable computer and web access. I have no excuse. I read a lot about science and stuff, so I should write about my thoughts every once in a while, non?

My biggest hope for this year is that we can escape some of the evolution/creationism shouting matches that were so ugly last year. We had a huge political victory for evolution in the Dover schools decision of mid-December (you can read the entire decision here). I have to say that the judge makes some eloquent well-thought statements. Although, on the other hand, I am sorry that science is being allowed into the hands of the judges and politicians at all. I mean, honestly, who better understands the definition and application of the word “theory”? A politician, judge, or scientist?

Regardless of what I want to see, it seems that this year may be a repeat of the “my team’s better than your team” mentality that we’ve seen the past few years, and that came to a head this past year. The race for Texas governor has suddenly become a proving ground for Intelligent Design. The current Repubican governor of the state has decided he knows what makes a theory better than some judges and scientists we know by announcing that ID is a scientific theory and should be included in science curriculums.

I’m sure that he’s not the only politician out there who’s going to jump on the bandwagon either. The Dover decision, while precedent setting, is not binding in other states. So, as schoolboards around the country come up for re-election and as curricula come up for review, we may see the Dover trials play out many more times before we reach the end of this road.

The assault upon science will continue as long as there are people who think that it threatens their way of life, and as scientists and educated people I think that we have an obligation to speak loudly and to make the truth behind science heard by the general populus. The zealots won’t ever listen, but most people make good decisions when they have the facts honestly presented to them. We need to stay away from shouting matches that will make people turn their heads and stop listening, and instead engage the public in the dialog that will shape the future of this country. As scientists and educated people, let’s resolve to stand strong against the onslaught this year, and not let twisted interpretations blur the messages we send.

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