Sunday, March 13, 2005

Good day

Columbus Conservatory with Chihuly glass
RSR and I met with some reporters yesterday, to discuss some stories we've been working on. It was a pretty cool time.
There's nothing like saying a sentence and having reporter perk up and start scribbling away.

One interesting thing was that the reporter asked this question several times: “Do you disagree with KCFS's position that scientists should boycott the hearings?”

We've both expressed some concerns with a boycott. My concern is that a pure boycott lets the Board own the message, and there's always the possibility that a few scientists will lend their legitimacy to the illegitimate process.

I think there are lots of reasons to boycott, too. The latest focus of the hearings (number three by my count) is the “Santorum Amendment.” This is an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act which would have been advisory anyway, and was removed from the law in conference committee, so it has no legal status at all. I'm not even sure what they want to hear about. There's no guarantee what someone who commits to speak on that amendment will ultimately be asked about. And they definitely won't change the Board's mind, so why bother?

There's a better way. The Board has stated its desire to educate the public. I want to educate the public. I expect that when the public understands evolution, they'll be on our side, not the Board's, so let's do it.

Let's get a dozen biologists and philosophers of science with good speaking skills to travel around Kansas throughout April. Let's make a serious effort to explain what this is all about to the public. They'll come around.

One reporter said “Until you guys started pushing me on this, I didn't see the big story here.” There's a lot of education to do. This isn't just a little story about some bureaucratic tomfoolery. The Board wants to “systematically pervert the definition of science.” That has real consequences for medicine, manufacturing, aerospace and agriculture. Those are the big industries in Kansas.

But they don't just want to pervert the definition of science, and leave Kansas kids ill-prepared for a complex and science-driven world.

Here's a question: Why did a group named “Free Academic Inquiry and Research” give money to Kris Kobach? His campaign had nothing to do with academic inquiry or research of any sort. That's not a crack, it's just the truth. He talked about immigration, national security, abortion, video games, and flag burning.

So why did this group support him? Remember that Free Academic Inquiry and Research is part of a web of conservative PACs which serve as a slush fund for conservative causes. Like all these groups, it's aim isn't academic, it's cultural. A little cash from Sam Brownback's PAC, a little cash to cultural conservatives, and pretty soon you have a broad social agenda.

I'll have more on that in a little while.

Stuck In A Moment” by U2 from the album All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000, 4:32).