Friday, November 24, 2006
1. BEYOND BELIEF: SCIENCE, RELIGION, REASON AND SURVIVAL.
Sponsored by The Science Network, the Beyond Belief forum was held earlier this month at the Salk Institute. As described by George Johnson in the Tuesday NY Times, the meeting came "to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told." And what a story it is turning out to be! Yet, while the world is quick to embrace the benefits of science, people the world over cling to medieval superstitions and defend such beliefs as a virtue. Scientists are inclined to meekly declare their "respect" for superstitions even while proving them to be utter nonsense. That may change. In his recent best-seller, "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins, a participant in Beyond Belief, observes that "God is a scientific hypothesis," but there is no evidence to support the hypothesis. Beyond Belief can be viewed at http://beyondbelief2006.org
Friday, November 17, 2006
2. FREEDOM OF SCIENCE: "IN DEFENSE OF SCIENCE AND SECULARISM."
On Tuesday, the Center for Inquiry held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington to issue a declaration urging that public policy be based on science rather than faith. The declaration was signed by a number of leading scientists and advocates of strict church-state separation. The Center for Inquiry is an outgrowth of the Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which publishes the Skeptical Inquirer.
Friday, October 13, 2006
4. DOVER EFFECT: MICHIGAN STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION BACKS DARWIN.
Michigan had been targeted by the Discovery Institute in an effort to include intelligent design along with evolution in public school science curricula. However, following the Dover decision in federal court (Kitzmiller), the intelligent design move was reduced to trying to soften support for evolution. Instead, the Michigan Board solidified its support for evolution.
Friday, September 29, 2006
1. DOVER PAYBACK: HOUSE VOTES TO LIMIT THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE.
The nation was distracted this week: the leaked Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, a terrifying new report on global warming, continued high gas prices, a White House lobbying scandal that grew from "a few" contacts with Jack Abramoff to 485, not to mention the news that two men have stepped forward claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. That allowed the House to quietly pass H.R. 2679, the "Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006," with scarcely a mention in the media. The bill would prevent plaintiffs from recovering legal costs in any lawsuit based on the "establishment clause" of the First Amendment, which of course only happens when the court finds the plaintiff's Constitutional rights have been denied. The Senate is expected to pass a companion bill, S. 3696. Congress cannot simply abridge the Bill of Rights. Maybe they think the Supreme Court is stacked. Or maybe it's the election.
3. POLITICS: SUPPORT GROUP FOR SCIENCE-FRIENDLY CANDIDATES.
Organizers describe Scientists and Engineers for America as nonpartisan, but there is no denying that Bush Administration policies on science-related issues have not been popular in the science community. Two of the organizers, physicists Neal Lane and Jack Gibbons, were science advisors under Clinton. Susan Wood, who resigned from the FDA last year to protest inaction on making Plan B available over-the-counter, is another organizer. We have no word on whether Jack Marburger plans to join.