Friday, August 19, 2011

Blindsided By Science

At a campaign appearance in New Hampshire with Gov. Rick Perry, a kid — prompted by his mom — asked the candidate if he believed in evolution.

Your mom is asking about evolution. You know, that’s a theory that’s out there; it’s got some gaps in it. In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools — because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.

I’m not sure what Mr. Perry means when he says evolution is “a theory that’s out there.” Does he he mean that it’s “out there” for consideration, or does he mean that it’s “out there” along with other theories such as the moon is really made of green cheese and that the earth is really flat? Either way, the truth is that evolution is a theory to the same degree that gravity is a theory, and the scientific term doesn’t mean that there are fundamental questions as to its existence.

Second, if Mr. Perry thinks that teaching creationism side by side is good educational policy and that’s how they do it in Texas, there’s a lot of things wrong with his grasp of public education (not to mention the law). Good education is not a matter of putting out competing ideas and letting the students decide which is right or wrong: “Does 2+2=4 or 5? You decide.” It also goes without saying that it’s really implausible to take the word of someone who believes that the world was literally created in six days and that the sun moves around the earth that there are “gaps” in the theory of evolution.

Mr. Perry’s defenders are saying that the kid was a set-up by his mom to blindside the governor with a “gotcha” question. No, a “gotcha” question is “When did you stop beating your wife?”, not “Do you believe in a basic tenet of science that has been around for over 150 years?”

I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about “intelligent falling.”

HT to Steve Benen.