Thursday, January 22, 2009
  "Restoring the place of science"

The worst part of Obama's agenda is the bit about "restoring the proper place of science", which means that all arguments against the Earth Goddess Gaia, and all questions about evolution, are absolutely forbidden starting now.

In other words, science will be forbidden from now on.

Unfortunately we had no choice about this, because McCain's agenda was nearly identical. If anything, McCain was more solidly pro-Gaia than Obama. We Soviet citizens not only have the unique privilege of witnessing a "peaceful transfer of power", which happens nowhere else in the world [except for a hundred other countries]; we have the grand responsibility of choosing Coke or Pepsi!

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The consequences of "restoring the proper place of science" are showing up immediately. Today the Texas state school board decided to "restore the proper place of science" by forbidding all scientific discussion about evolution. This has wide consequences, because (unlike most states) the Texas board chooses all books, thus effectively forcing the hand of publishers for other states.

Dallas Morning News says: "The anti-evolutionists lost. The scientists prevailed. The State Board of Education voted this afternoon to drop a requirement that high school science classes discuss the so-called weaknesses in the theory of evolution."

So I guess the scientists agree on the most basic points of evolution, eh?

Well, an article published just yesterday in New Scientist says otherwise. In fact the deepest part of Darwin is being destroyed by new factual discoveries.

The most basic part of Darwin's scheme is the "tree of life", whereby each new species gradually deviates or branches off from existing critters through random small mutations in its own genes. Natural selection then favors the variants that are better suited for a particular situation, or those that reproduce best.

But it turns out the tree is only half of the story, maybe less. Recent massive examination of DNA and RNA has led to the conclusion that roughly half of all changes come from transfer of genes through viruses and bacteria. In other words, half of our genes were imported from other animals or plants at various times, and half were inherited from our ancestors.

Sounds like a pretty damn basic disagreement to me.

But schoolkids are hereby forbidden to read about this basic and serious debate because it points to a "weakness in the theory."

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Ironically, [I try to avoid that word but it truly fits here] the newer findings will strengthen the logical foundation of evolution, not weaken it.

The "consensus" view of random mutations makes the whole theory impossible.

Let's say a group of frogs is hit by radiation. And let's say that some of the male sperm cells are altered enough that their progeny would be a new species. Well, those sperm cells would have to meet up with an egg that had also undergone the exact same change, otherwise they will simply be rejected. Because radiation hits different genes in unpredictable ways, the chance of this scenario happening even once is almost exactly zero ... and then you really need to have many frogs changing in the same way at the same time in order to stand the pressures of selection.

But if the new genes are brought in by a virus or fungus, we have the same gene appearing suddenly and simultaneously in most of a local population, both male and female. Both sperm and egg cells will carry the new gene, and the change will be propagated to some of their offspring. If the change is great enough to make a new species, there will now be a good number of males and females belonging to this new species, all at once, ready and able to reproduce.

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In science education we desperately need to look at all rational theories. We must encourage kids to examine reality directly and develop their own theories.

The right question is not "what's the current consensus?" but rather "what will increase our understanding?" ... or better, "what will generate the most interest in the students?" And if one of the answers to the latter question is Intelligent Design -- if ID makes evolution more interesting and palatable to students -- then we should teach ID. This will never happen, of course, because the American "scientific" establishment doesn't give a flying fuck about increasing understanding or generating interest. The American "scientific" establishment has only three priorities: Exterminate, Exterminate, Exterminate.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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