Friday, January 28, 2005

Do We Need An Anti-Creationist Think-Tank?

( Image: Sexism and Creationism , thanks All-Knowing Orac)

Previously, I have made a comparison between the challenges facing the reality-based community in politics and the challenges facing the reality-based community in science (some of it perhaps related to the underlying idea of the image above). Not everyone appeared to have liked it, as this guy who is "a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan" wrote this in response. I still do not understand from that post if he likes or hates what I wrote - it's pretty ambiguous - and I wonder why he picked that short paragraph (in which I paraphrase Matt Cartmill's thesis as Matt's, not mine) on Christian theology as so important to highlight out of such a very long post.

The Election 2004 brought a new awareness of the way Republicans invested billions of dollars into think-tanks in which the only thinking that is going on is thinking up the deceptive language for swindling the electorate to buy into the Reverse Robin Hood economics and Medieval ideology. The response on the Left is that liberal think-tanks are needed to counter this effort (with an added bonus that the language need to reflect the actual truth), for instance the Rockridge Institute.

Now, Mike the Mad Biologist writes:

What we need to do is get some private money and fund an
institute, "The Institute for the Study of Evolution", whose purpose is to
publicize evolution and attack creationism and ID. With luck, there would also
be national and state lobbying arms, as well as educational outreach and 'rapid
reaction teams.'

I agree, but most scientists want to do the science and not waste time on fighting the old tired meaningless ideological battles all over again. For instance, a new Center is opening this Monday: NESCENT (National Evolutionary Synthesis Center). If you look around the website, or read the Editorial, you will see that the main effort at the Center will be doing research (particularly meta-research, e.g., comparative genomics) and getting people with different backgrounds together hoping for a cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches.

Perhaps the last four years of head-on assaults on science by the Right Wing, led by the Bush Administration, will get more scientists to feel a need to devote more time and resources to counter the current anti-intellectual sentiment. An important element of NESCENT appears to be Outreach and Education. The language is not explicit, but it appears to be driven in part by the revolt against the anti-science nonsense, and leaves enough ambiguity to let people associated with the Center, if they are so inclined, pursue anti-Creationist activities.

Is this what needs to be done?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:28 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink