Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Congress of Fools

A recent controversy in the State of Florida appeared in our esteemed Senate and House of Representatives. Legislation was proposed and supported by Senator Rhonda Storms (R) and Representative Alan Hays (R) to allow high school teachers to scientifically assess evolution. No problem there. We assess it every single day in science and that tool gets sharper with every use.

The issue is clear. The bill, cloaked as the "Academic Freedom Act" the target is evolution, the codified and scientific consensus of the origin of life and subsequent patterns of descent. Evolution does not fit well with literal interpretations of scripture, making the unimpeachable biological theory incompatible with some personal beliefs held by the devoutly religious. Therefore, proponents in congress suggest that science must be wrong and must be attacked and questioned in our children's science classes.

The evidence-based pillar of hard science perennially repels this nonsense. However, the recent groundswell of attacks on reason has come from the community of true believers, people with weak faith that cannot exist in the face of facts, so therefore the facts must be wrong.

Now our elected officials, people in charge of taxation, pubic policy, health, and protection, are now trying to water down scientific training because they can't figure out how science works. Alternatively, they completely understand the reality of evolutionary theory and just want to lie to their constituents. Ignorant or untruthful, I don't know.

I contacted my Representative, The Honorable (ahem) Larry Cretul (R). Against my urgings he voted for the bill, indicating "CS/SB 2692 simply expresses the Legislature’s desire that all of our students be taught a “thorough presentation and scientific critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”"

But who is the critic? Who gets to give their narrow opinion to challenge scientific fact? Does he realize that this opens scrutiny of a legitimate and established scientific principle to anyone that feels that they have a better solution?

My State Senator, Steve Oelrich (R), also voted for the bill.

Cretul, Oelrich and many others show their blatant ignorance towards science and capitulation to political pressure over evidence. Think about that. They are willing to lie to children in a science class because they can't (don't attempt to) understand the evidence and facts, facts that are inconveniently incompatible with the beliefs of they constituency. The great irony is that Oelrich is the Chair of the Higher Education Committee. No wonder Florida is 47th out of 50 states in education!

Does this scare you? It should! We need lawmakers to be on the front line of reason. In tough times they need to have the capacity, courage and honesty to analyze findings and make sound decisions made on evidence over belief.

Let's make sure that we show these clowns the door next election. Fat chance. When the intellectually bankrupt politicians can steer a scientifically illiterate constituency with fear, you'll be hard pressed to get anyone to make a good decision and allow someone of substance and competence to be in charge. Just ask Adolf Hitler.

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