Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Oh, yes, we all know that Senator John McCain gave a talk today at a luncheon in Seattle hosted by the Discovery Institute. What is said institute (I won’t link them, so you can google if you like)?

“Despite its self-proclaimed position as an unbiased think tank, the Discovery Institute has played a central role in the religious right’s national campaign to undermine science education,” Campaign to Defend the Constitution co-director Clark Stevens wrote to McCain Thursday. “Under the guise of ‘teaching the controversy’ the Institute has strived to discredit the theory of evolution — a theory that has withstood decades of critical analysis from the scientific community — and replace it with a religiously motivated pseudo-science with no scientific standing.”

Yep. Thats a pretty concise summary.

(Continued below the fold.)


As I twiddle my thumbs waiting for the transcript to be released and listening to the death throes of McCain’s respectability, I’ve been pondering on the fact that by all accounts this luncheon hoo-ha wasn’t explicitly about intelligent design. There are 9 groups co-hosting the event, with the Discovery Institute being one. The topic of his talk is about about McCain’s vision of the United States’ role in the world, and its not JUST the Discovery Institute who’s there, so shouldn’t all of us anti-IDers just shut up? From the Discovery Institute:

It is hardly an intelligent design related event. But, some critics of ours can’t help but get all in a lather about things like this.

William Buckley at the Loathesome Review had this to say:

It is not reasonably expected of Senator McCain, or any other contender for the presidency, that in his public appearances he will explicate all the conundrums [over the validity of intelligent design].

But the intelligent liberal community should not impose on anyone a requirement of believing that there is only the single, materialist word on the subject, and that only contempt is merited by those who consent to appear at think tanks composed of men and women prepared to explore ultimate questions, which certainly include the question, Did God have a hand in creating all of this? Including the great messes we live with?

It is of the utmost importance that a president, or future president, have rational thinking and reasoning skills as well as a firm grasp over what constitutes scientific evidence in the formulation of theories. A president makes crucial decisions every day which impact the lives of millions of people. The election of a person who demonstrates an inability to assimilate facts and observations in a way that makes sense, but rather defaults to an emotional mythology, would be a grave mistake. Therefore, not only is it beyond reproach for the “intelligent liberal community” to impose a requirement of rationality on a future president, it would be ludicrous to do otherwise. Yes, I believe that influential people who cannot use their power in a coherent, scientifically-supportable way merits contempt.

Whether or not John McCain really believes in intelligent design, who’s to say? I tend to think he doesn’t, and this talk is just another panderfest to the conservative right. The problem is, in a presidential election, guilt-by-association is a very real thing. The reason for this is that there are no accidental appearances; every minute of McCain’s time from now until election day will be carefully planned, weighed, pondered over, and scrutinized by his team for maximum effect. This talk hosted by the DI, while not specifically admitting to agree with intelligent design, was also no accident. And the fact that a DI luncheon was an attractive place to spend his time in his quest to develop his image and become president, reveals that the image that HE wants to mold is very, very far from the image of the president I would elect.

Presidential hopefuls keep a keen eye out for opportunities to ingratiate themselves with certain factions (McCain, as with any other). McCain had a opportunity to associate himself with a pro-ID organization or, not to. He chose to do it. I hope it was worth it.

Side note:

Buckley, while dead wrong, had thus-far avoided the realms of the ludicrous. Until his final quote:

“I’m taken with the reply of an elderly scientific scholar to an exuberant young skeptic. ‘I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop.'”

Groan.

Comments

  1. #1 John Lynch
    February 23, 2007

    “I’m taken with the reply of an elderly scientific scholar to an exuberant young skeptic. ‘I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop.'”

    You know, he’s wheeled that one out for years. It even featured in his ass-whupping in The Firing Line Debate in 1997.

    I’ve never been able to source who the “elderly scientific scholar” and judging by the sheer dumbness of the quote, I don’t think he was a very clear-thinking scholar.

  2. #2 Bob Abu
    February 23, 2007

    Maybe Rove was right when he spread the rumor that McCain had been “fucked in the head,” in Vietnam.

    All I needed or wanted to know about intelligent design or evolution I learned from The Flintstones.

    for a revealing discussion see

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flintstones

  3. #3 PeterC
    February 24, 2007

    Is Intelligent Design some commie/Al Qaeda/Chinese plot to destroy America?
    As America depends heavily on science to develop new technologies, weapons, and its space going abilities, if the ID community is successful in destroying trust in science then America could end up a technologial backwater. OK as an European that doesn’t bother me as all I see are �s being earned as we supply the new technology America can no longer produce.
    Unless someone stops this quickly then schoolchildren will be scared off science subjects big time. When that happens goodbye America’s position as a world leader at anything.

  4. #4 tribalecho
    February 24, 2007

    Ooh. Ooh, ooh. I like your blog a lot. dkos sent me. Damn. Now I have to spend countless hours going through your roll. TIA.

  5. #5 tribalecho
    February 24, 2007

    PeterC. I too often wonder if the Bush admin is working for a hostile, or at least competitive government. I mean, they’re doing to the US in Iraq exactly what the US did to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

  6. #6 jvarisco
    February 24, 2007

    Was there any doubt about McCain? I think it’s pretty the guy neither thinks much nor has any real positions, he just panders to whoever is there at the moment. It’s not as if he has a chance – he’s not liberal, and certainly not conservative enough to be the Republican nominee. Adding anti-evolution stupidity is hardly going to placate conservatives, nor will it make anyone else happy.

  7. #7 Ben in MPLS
    February 24, 2007

    My anthropology prof here at the University of Minnesota is an intriguing straight-talker on the evolution-creationism “debate.” His site is at http://www.gregladen.com/wordpress/

    I highly recommend anybody looking for intellectual ammo on this “issue” check it out.

  8. #8 MarkP
    February 26, 2007

    It is of the utmost importance that a president, or future president, have rational thinking and reasoning skills as well as a firm grasp over what constitutes scientific evidence in the formulation of theories.

    But the one we have now lacks all of that, and everything turned out OK, right?!

    Seriously, this a point we all need to start getting out and on people’s minds. Much of our lifestyle and place in the world is dependent in large part on maintaining a good scientific edge. That doesn’t last forever, just ask the Middle Eastern nations, who were advancing mathematics and medicine far beyond what Europeans had only a few centuries ago. No doubt their adoption of progressively more restrictive religious views, which impeded science, played a role in them becoming the backwater they are today. We are heading in the same direction, and we’d better wake up.

  9. #9 film izle
    November 23, 2008

    Ooh. Ooh, ooh

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