Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009: The Year of Science

Science is BACK - YES!

2009 marks 150 years since the publication of Darwin's On The Origin of Species, and the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope to study the skies. M. Lee Allison, the state geologist of Arizona and director of the Arizona Geological Survey, is an organizer of a "Year of Science 2009," a celebration of scientific methods and discoveries.
From NPR's Talk of the Nation, January 2, 2009

As we bid a very fond adieu to the Bush/Cheney Head-Under-a-Bucket Club, and as we welcome in the Obama/Biden Science Club, we receive the added benefit of a renewed emphasis on real science, not the faux science of "abstinence only" sex education or "intelligent design" taught in lieu of evolution. We also welcome the roll-back of such ridiculous rules and regulations as 45 CFR Part 88 Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law; Final Rule [AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS. ACTION: Final rule]. In summary, this rule allows every employee, from the receptionist who makes appointments to the physician overseeing an entire clinic to the pharmacist who fills prescriptions, to refuse to provide health care to a patient (9 times out of 10, a woman) to which they may have moral or religious objections. This includes many methods of birth control, including IUDs or the RU486 (the morning after pill) or any form of birth control if the patient cannot prove that she is married, never mind abortion which is the ultimate target of this onerous rule. Thankfully the Obama team has been keeping an eye on many of these last minute rules enacted by the Bush/Cheney administration and has plans to reverse them as soon as possible.

From global warming to reproductive rights to actual science being taught in schools, we can all look forward to a resurgence of real science returning to our lives. And I propose that it is not a moment too soon as states across the nation seek to inject "intelligent design" and "religious freedom" into school curriculum. For example, the "Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act" a dangerous bill that was reintroduced by the now Republican-controlled legislature in Oklahoma is a case in point. All sound-minded Oklahomans are hoping that the replay of this horrible bill will meet the same fate as its first incarnation, that being a veto by Governor Henry. Lest you shrug off this as an anomaly unique to the reddest of the red states, please keep in mind that similar legislation has already passed in Texas. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky are all considering similar legislation. Furthering the assault on the separation of church and state is the ongoing "intelligent design controversy" a controversy only because some lame-brained zealots have confused science with religion. "Intelligent design" is nothing more than repackaged "creationism" and the insistence by the religious right that it be taught alongside evolution (a scientific tenet) makes a mockery of science education.

The above-mentioned examples are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the assault on science by the Bush/Cheney crime family. The blatant disregard for science can be found in the administration of the CDC (Center for Disease Control), OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). See An Assault on Public Protections: Regulatory Policy News in 2008 over at OMB Watch. I have barely touched on the foot-dragging for which the Bush administration has been responsible in the area of Global Warming. See US climate scientists pressured on climate change, 31 January 2007 by New Scientist Environment and Reuters

"We've developed this politicization of science. Public affairs offices should be staffed by professionals, not political appointees, or they become offices of propaganda. I shouldn't be required to parrot some company line. I should give the best information I have."
Dr. James Hansen, Head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Part of The Earth Institute at Columbia University as quoted in House Panel Investigates Bush's Climate Science Manipulations

See: Politics and the Erosion of Federal Scientific Capacity: Restoring Scientific Integrity to Public Health Science This Article published in November 2007, Vol 97, No. 11 of the American Journal of Public Health 1939-1944 © 2007 American Public Health Association
COMMENTARY by Kathleen M. Rest, PhD, MPA and Michael H. Halpern, BA who are with the Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, Mass.

See the review of the book The Republican War on Science By Chris Mooney.

For more evidence that the manipulation of scientific information in a variety of agencies has hampered our progress as a nation, see: Bush’s Agencies Of Mass Politicization.

Check out the National Center for Science Education: NCSE, a not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education.

Post Script: If the president feels that it is incumbent on his administration to relieve those who object to normal portions of their job because of religious or moral concerns, then I have a serious question for him: I object to war and the senseless killing of innocent civilians on both moral and religious grounds, so following the logic of the Bush/Cheney administration, why should I have to pay for those actions that run so counter so to every fiber of my moral being? I don't expect an answer to this question, but I believe it is a legitimate question and one that I wish the current administration had considered when they came up with this ridiculous and dangerous rule.

1 comment:

Arym said...

Hey, do you know the current status of that "Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act"? We really need to make sure this doesn't get signed into law.