Sunday, February 05, 2006

Outrage at attacks on NASA science

Presidential appointee requires NASA web designer to append the word "theory" after the phrase "big bang" on all NASA web pages, because “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.”

Beyond issues of church and state and the intellectual freedom of government funded research, the main thing wrong with this is: In science, we use the word theory to mean something stronger than the ID folks mean when they try to tell us "the theory of Evolution is just a theory." A theory is a very strong statement, supported by all available evidence, and subject to the rigors of scientific scrutiny. Lower down the rungs of the idea lader are terms like "hypothesis" and "conjecture" - these are ideas that are not yet demonstrated by evidence, but are at least based upon logical extrapolations of observations and ideas.

Intelligent design is at best a conjecture or an hypothesis, whereas evolution and the big bang are very definitely theories. If we want to argue that all valid theories should be taught equally, I am all for it - as long as this idea of a theory is upheld strictly.

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