Rod Dreher

Oh brother:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.


Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has spoken against efforts to water down the teaching of evolution to school boards in Texas and Ohio, described the move toward climate-change skepticism as a predictable offshoot of creationism.
“Wherever there is a battle over evolution now,” he said, “there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science — to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

What alarms me about this is the linkage, which suggests, as Krauss indicates, a move to make science itself a matter of ideological preference. It’s one thing to say that scientists need to wear their dogmas lightly, and to be open to new information that challenges old paradigms. That’s how science is done, and besides, scientism is a kind of ideological fundamentalism of its own.
Still, this smells. I know that science is never done in a vacuum, and that scientists cannot help having their views culturally conditioned. But seeing how a valid critique of the biases of the mainstream news media has morphed into the degradation of the idea that news that doesn’t fit one’s worldview cannot be trusted — and seeing how satisfied people seem to be with this state of affairs — I worry about science education in states where this kind of argument finds political traction. Skepticism is healthy, but after a certain point, it simply becomes nihilism. The day may come when people — and not just secular people — start taking their kids out of public schools for the sake of protecting them from getting ideologically distorted science education. Now that would be ironic indeed.
Here’s one practical reason why getting science right is so important: “How do you do agriculture in a nation that looks a lot like the Mojave Desert?”

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