Right-wing appointment for schools

Via Flablog: Could this be another Jerry Rieger? Jeb names ultraconservative think tanker with Congressional ambitions as Florida’s chancellor of K-12 education. (And self-described creationist) See the Fla. Politics post comparing coverage. Related: The Austringer wonders if Florida will be the next flash point for people trying to teach Intelligent Design/Creationism in public schools.

Also, Wired talks about ‘Swift Boating science:

Some time ago, I conducted an interview with Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Republican and staunch member of the religious right. At the time, Stearns was proposing a law to jail any scientist who attempted to make a human embryo through cloning. He opposed cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, he said, because clones would not have “tentacles” like you and me and we’d wind up with “categories of people who didn’t have these tentacles, so there might be superior and inferior people. If you met them and knew they were cloned, how would you deal with them?”

OK, so maybe you can’t blame Stearns for concocting an Ed Wood plot point. He’s no scientist, and besides, he provides comic relief. But how funny is it that President George W. Bush recently endorsed the teaching of “intelligent design” as an alternative to the theory of evolution?

Not very, especially because Bush’s comments about deus ex machina versus book learnin’ are not just a goofy one-off. They are, as science writer Chris Mooney so brilliantly shows, part of The Republican War on Science. (Here let me declare that Mooney and I share a publisher, Basic Books, and let me also declare that my book for Basic sold so few copies I can honestly say I am not being influenced by money.)

It’s not news that the reign of Bush fils has been marked by an antagonism toward science and scientists unlike any since 1954, when Robert Oppenheimer had his security clearance revoked and Linus Pauling had his passport pulled. The many times this administration and its supporters have fudged or even lied about scientists and scientific research are well-known. Global warming, stem cells, cloning, sex, land use, pollution and missile defense come to mind.

The current antagonism towards science is one of the most pressing problems facing our country. We’re falling behind the rest of the world in the scientific community and if this continues we’ll no longer be able to compete. We need to regain our lead and stop our slide into the dark ages. The rest of the world is becoming more enlightened and we’re doing the opposite.

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