Monday, May 16, 2005

Science in the new Post-Realistic Era

In Kansas, the creationists are trying to redefine science to allow for explanations that don't rely on natural phenomena:

The Kansas school board's hearings on evolution weren't limited to how the theory should be taught in public schools. The board is considering redefining science itself. Advocates of "intelligent design" are pushing the board to reject a definition limiting science to natural explanations for what's observed in the world.

Instead, they want to define it as "a systematic method of continuing investigation," without specifying what kind of answer is being sought. The definition would appear in the introduction to the state's science standards.

The proposed definition has outraged many scientists, who are frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for natural phenomena in their science classes.

"It's a completely unscientific way of looking at the world," said Keith Miller, a Kansas State University geologist.

I'm all for it, because my efforts on this are systematic and continuous! Therefore, I'm a scientist and what I say is science and should be in all school textbooks.

In other science news, Mother Jones reports that Exxon-Mobil is funding groups which are willing to criticize reports about global warming:

Mother Jones has tallied some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have maintained affiliations with a small group of "skeptic" scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech (a website providing "news, analysis, research, and commentary" that received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a columnist, and even religious and civil rights groups. In total, these organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003 (the last year for which records are available; all figures below are for that range unless otherwise noted). ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Lee Raymond serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees for the AEI, which received $960,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. The AEI-Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, which officially hosted Crichton, received another $55,000. When asked about the event, the center's executive director, Robert Hahn—who's a fellow with the AEI—defended it, saying, "Climate science is a field in which reasonable experts can disagree."

Note the little bit about Exxon-Mobil having funded religious groups on this issue. It seems that they would agree with the creationists on the need to redefine science or at least on how to pursue it. Wow, I'll never pass the new science tests!