George making George look good

Feb 5: Welcome Farkers! Feel free to look around.

My co-scienceblogger, Chris Mooney, has extensively documented Republican interference in science in his excellent The Republican War on Science [amaz]. George Deutsch, a presidential appointee as public affairs officer at NASA, seems to think that such political involvement in scientific matters is desirable. For example:

[Deutsch] rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. [James E.] Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute. Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority. (source)

In October [Deutsch] told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The [New York] Times.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most." (source)

So who is Deutsch? A 24 year old journalism graduate from Texas A&M whose resume says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. I'm guessing he - like most journalism majors - took very few science classes while in college. Creationist jackass.


More like this

Last week I mentioned an upcoming hearing by the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to "Examine Allegations of Political Interference with Government Climate Change Science." The hearing happened on Monday (19 March), and it even got a bit of media coverage in the process.…
In addition to my disagreement with PZ on some things, I absolutely agree with his post about the administration's many attempts to subordinate good science for political considerations. Many other people have written about this around the blogosphere, based on this article in the New York Times…
&t So, the Bush administration is going to try and be pro-science. Here we go. In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be…
Brad Delong compels me, as if he had glued my eyes open, to consider Mickey Kaus. What mere words could have this effect on me? Simple: on Monday Mickey Kaus saddled up and rode to the defense of the Bushie practice of having flacks censor scientists--specifically, of George Deutsch's…

A political commissar by any other name ...

Yeah, muzzling the scientists or overtly changing the substance of what they're saying -- that will make the president and his adminstration look good!

To jackasses.

It's a similar political muzzling of public health types that leaves people with HIV with warm-fuzzies whenever they think of the Reagan administration.

So Deutsch ensures that a NASA web designer refers to Big Bang as a theory, because it is a theory, and scientists are up in arms? What's next, attacking Bush appointees for referring to the Theory of Relativity as a theory?

Even more, NASA's web pages have referred to the Big Bang as a theory since the Clinton administration. What's all the fuss about?

Another case of the New York Times riling up the liberals over nothing again, I see.

Ummm, Seixon, it's pretty obvious Mr. Deutsch is using the word "theory" in the colloquial sense (as a guess) and not in the scientific sense of that word.

Did you not read the entire opening post? This part especially ....

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote ...

Now I suspect he'd be strongly denunciated if wanted to label it "Einstein's Opinion of Relativity" too.

The Big Bang is an opinion, a very well documented and supported opinion. It certainly isn't a proven fact, and I think any scientist will back that up.

As I have already stated, Mr. Deutsch could have meant "theory" in all the wrong ways, but he still nailed it. Nothing wrong was done, no harm was done.

If he had Big Bang removed all together, then maybe there would be a point to having this entire story. In the end, all he did was ensure that a theory was called a theory.

Would you be offended if it said "Einstein's opinion of relativity"? I wouldn't - I hold Einstein in good esteem, and his opinion would hold a lot of weight with me. Especially since he has a lot to back up his opinion with.

It seems as if this has more to do with poor self-confidence within the liberal community than anything else. Let Big Bang stand on its merits, which it will.

Stop with this nonsense, especially when the Bush administration isn't actually doing anything wrong. It's when they are actually doing harm that you should be outraged. I think there are more than enough other examples of that to focus on than a blowhard wanting a theory to be called a theory.


What do scientists (not dictionaries) mean by the word 'theory'? Do scientists use the word 'opinion' to describe what they do? If not, why not? Have you ever heard a scientist or philosopher use the phrase "X's opinion of Y" where Y contains scientific content?

Of course, you also ignore that Deutsch's motive is clearly religious and has nothing to do with what the word "theory" actually means to working scientists.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 07 Feb 2006 #permalink

The problem is that his intent is clearly religious. Some might think that religion belongs in government, but for now it has been established by law that it clearly doesn't, especially when couched as an endorsement or establishment. Crossing that line has recently been determined to come down to intent.

Ergo, he crossed that line, no matter what his recommendation was. He clearly was espousing a religious viewpoint; a particular Christian fundamentalist viewpoint to be specific.

Of course, you probably don't have a problem with his actions. Oddly enough, a similar sentiment is the reasoning behind the riots over cartoon depictions of the Prophet. Just making sure you know what you are in for should this continue.

Not much scientific advancement will occur under the newplusgoodscience method: a theory in favor will tend to stay in favor.

By Pat Kelley (not verified) on 07 Feb 2006 #permalink

Actually, it's supposed to be, and was intended to be that government has no place in religion (that's what our forefathers meant by seperation of church and state..look it up with the ACLJ). Our country was FOUNDED on Judeo/Christian values. Not the laws of Islam, or the values of atheists and agnostics. So, yes, there is an inherent interest in our government doing things that are based on Christian (and Jewish) religion, more importantly, the Word of God. Not the teachings of Mohammed, not the rantings of non-believers or wussy liberals who are afraid and "concerned" of offending people of other religions. Their solution: Remove all signs of Christianity so we don't piss of any Muslims, Hindus, atheists, especially during Christmas (yes, it was a pagan holiday that was taken over by us and Christian-ized, and guess who won??). So before you comment on "seperation of church and state means keeping religion out of government", make sure you do your research, or at least use common sense (I know some Dems who have this) before regurgitating the same crap that's been shoved down your thoat by the rest of your liberal comrades. Ever pay attention to your history lessons in elementary school? If you don't like the US using the laws of the Almighty, then move out.

rantings of non-believers or wussy liberals ... guess who won?? ... your liberal comrades ... If you don't like the US using the laws of the Almighty, then move out.

About sums it all up really, doesn't it.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 07 Feb 2006 #permalink