The Sciences


Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitSep 30, 2008 6:17 PM


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Sarah Palin, who is John McCain's Vice president pick, is an interesting case. To say the least. I need not go into details since there is a torrent of them on the web. My concern here is with her knowledge of science... or lack thereof. She has stated on record that she is for teaching "both sides" of the evolution "controversy". Some people think this is only fair, but that's baloney. First of all, for the hundredth time, there is no controversy, and there aren't two sides. Unless you count one side as being right -- science -- and the other side being wrong -- creationism. Also, the "both sides" nonsense has long been used as creationist code for getting it taught in school. Teaching religion in a science classroom is not only unconstitutional, it's ridiculous. Which creation myth do you teach, and where do you stop? Odin, the Enuma Elish, Marvel Comics? There are thousands. But when she says "Teach both", she means teach evolution, and teach fundamentalist Christian creationism. So have no doubt at all: she wants creationism taught in school. It's really just that simple. And then we have this very disturbing story from the L.A. Times. Philip Munger, a music teacher in Palin's home town of Wasilla, asked her about her beliefs. Her response is frightening:

Palin told him that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time," Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said "she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks," recalled Munger.

I don't think she means Komodo Dragons and birds. No, she's talking about the Paluxy Tracks, a well-known and long, long debunked piece of "evidence" creationists still use sometimes, despite being utterly wrong. Of course, if creationists stuck with actual facts, they'd have very little to talk about. Now, to be fair, this is a single source claim, and Munger runs an anti-Palin blog in Alaska. However, we know Palin is a creationist, so this story comes as no surprise, and is not needed to confirm her stance. What's frightening to me is that we have someone who, if her team is elected, has a pretty decent chance of being President of the United States of America. People have joked that her foreign policy experience is being able to see Russia from her house, but it seems her science experience comes from thinking humans and dinosaurs happily walked mud flats together. Maybe Alan Grant will be her science advisor.

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