I’ve occasionally joked in the past that it’s unfair that the biologists get all the attention from the religious wing nuts. I mean, modern cosmology ought to be just as big an affront to the young-earth creationist types as evolution, so what are we, chopped liver?
Of course, now that a story has come to light about a Bush appointee in the NASA press office (a 24-year-old former campaign intern) demanding that cosmology reports declare the Big Bang to be “just a theory,” chooped liver doesn’t look so bad. You can find the money quotes at any number of science blogs, and Sean provides an assortment of links.
I don’t really have anything to add to the general denunciations of this idiot little gunner having a job that allows him to bully scientists, so let me comment on something else. The final couple of paragraphs of the New York Times story are:
The Deutsch memo was provided by an official at NASA headquarters who said he was upset with the effort to justify changes to descriptions of science by referring to politically charged issues like intelligent design. Senior NASA officials did not dispute the message’s authenticity.
Mr. Wild declined to be interviewed; Mr. Deutsch did not respond to e-mail or phone messages. On Friday evening, repeated queries were made to the White House about how a young presidential appointee with no science background came to be supervising Web presentations on cosmology and interview requests to senior NASA scientists.
The only response came from Donald Tighe of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “Science is respected and protected and highly valued by the administration,” he said.
I don’t know anything about Donald Tighe, who might be as big a political hack as this Deutsch yo-yo, but I’m going to choose to read that as followed by a maniacal little giggle, and the clinking of ice cubes in a much-needed glass of scotch. Because, really, this is just a few steps away from a Terry Pratchett novel:
You could see the spokesman’s mad grin, even on the radio. You could see his pen, poised over the “Farms for Sale” column in Poultry World. “We don’t know,” he said. “We were hoping you clever buggers at the BBC would have an idea.”