Friday, May 9, 2008

More Florida Anti-Science

As I've always stated, people are free to believe whatever they want to believe. No problem. I only take issue when science education is innervated with opinion-based, non-scientific attacks on established scientific principles. As stated repeatedly in this forum and others, it develops mistrust of science and scientists.

Another shining example from Florida... University of South Florida professor Lorena Madrigal, has an impressive academic record. She oversees a program in human anthropology that is heavily interlaced with biological emphasis, including a strong component of human evoultion.

On February 12, "Darwin Day", Dr. Madrigal was commissioned to speak at the Brooker Creek Preserve, a local nature park in Pinellas County. To me, a darn good choice; a scholar in human evolution presenting a scientific discussion on a day recognizing the guy that initated the study of biological change over time.

But in the Sunshine State we don't talk about science, especially science that does not conform tightly to the narrow worldview of Biblical literalists. To many here the ground beneath our feet is only 10K years old and somewhere in the center of the universe.

Capitulating to subjective belief over objective evidence, William Davis, Pinellas County Director of Environmental Services, cancelled the event. As reported on Tampa Bay Online, Davis was concerned about the presentation stating, "Her topic was about evolution," Davis said, "Well, yeaaaaaah! I flinched on that."

He continued, "I canceled her out after discussing it with my supervisors... We are not the platform for debate on creationism versus evolution, we don't believe it's our role to engage in that debate."

While I certainly agree that it is not a county government's place to debate belief versus fact (there's plenty of folks in the state legislature willing to commit that intellectual suicide), Davis was completely wrong in this decision. A parsing of the scientific literature did not reveal any of Davis' scholarly work in the area. While certainly entitled to his opinion, should he be the gatekeeper on delivery of scientific information? Think about this. A county official is interrupting public education because he disagrees with the topic, a topic understood and recognized by just about everyone on the planet.

Williams is just another sterling example of the dumbing down of our state and nation from the top down. When hard evidence conflicts with what he believes, he pulls the plug on the dissemination of that evidence. In a state in budget crisis, where public education ranks 47 of 50, there's no sense in give the citizens facts to worry about too.

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