Defund the Controversy

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As promised, the Department of Education has launched a new grant program to save America from its charming inability to add or understand basic science. The Department has released a set of eligible fields of study. But one major seems to be missing, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Under [the] classification scheme there is a heading for "Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology," under which 10 biological fields are defined. For instance, ecology is 26.1301, and evolutionary biology is 26.1303.

But on a list that defines majors eligible for the grants, issued by the department in May, one of those 10 is missing. On that list, the classification numbers rise in order from 26.1301 to 26.1309—with the exception of a blank line where 26.1303, or evolutionary biology, would fall.

As long as we're tailoring our education funding to the whims of fundamentalists, I'd like some more information on how Plan B encourages the formation of teen sex cults and permitting gay marriage forces straights to stop marrying. Also, free Army of God pajamas in which to study.

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  1. that is so fucked up…shouldn’t there be more outrage over this?

  2. 26.1301
    26.1302
    (skip)
    26.1304
    26.1305
    26.1306
    26.1307
    26.1308
    26.1309

    Nope, something else is missing. Either 26.1300 or 26.1310 . (this is an old iteration problem in programming).

    So they are missing two sections.

    Hey, smaller government!

  3. “If I can’t teach you, nobody can!”

  4. Between this and the defunding of earth science at Nasa, it has become clear that Bush has rejiggered the old monkeys: See no evil, Hear no evil, Fund no evil, Speak evil.

  5. I’m not surprised.

  6. I have a cunning plan. Let’s take all of our tax revenues for one year and spend them on scientific research. All technology oriented–no pseudo sciences like psychology, ‘kay?

    It’s not a libertarian solution, but no one seems to like those, any way 🙁 Might as well go high tech, I say.

  7. But what did we expect from the Bush administration?

  8. Same monkees different trees. Someone is always trying to defund what they don’t agree with. Perhaps if the federal government would get out of the business of funding education, we wouldn’t have these issues. Just give the money to the parents and let them decide. If you want to teach your children that evolution is bunk, have fun, just let me have my tax dollars back so I can send my kid to the school of my choice.

  9. I don’t get this. Plenty of the allowable topics are just as dangerous for Creationists, including, notably, geology. (The earth can’t be 6000 years old if it’s 4.5 billion years old.)

    So either a) this omission is an accident; or b) Creationists are too stupid to ban all of the fields that cause their pseudo-science trouble.

  10. The school-voucher solution would probably work, although the culture wars that would result between the graduates of vertically integrated conservative and liberal indoctrin…er, educational instituations would trivialize our current conflicts. Right now, at least in some non-urban locations, the public schools are our only real source of cultural integration. In a diverse society, the consequences of people being isolated in a subculture until the early twenties are likely to be profoundly divisive.

  11. John writes:”Someone is always trying to defund what they don’t agree with. Perhaps if the federal government would get out of the business of funding education, we wouldn’t have these issues.”

    Name a ‘conservative’ science that was similarly defunded by the Dems.

    ” If you want to teach your children that evolution is bunk, have fun, just let me have my tax dollars back so I can send my kid to the school of my choice.”

    This isn’t about ‘children’ it’s about juniors and seniors in college. These are $4,000 Pell-like grants for individual college upperclassmen. Presumably the idea is a student could use it to travel to an academic conference, particpate in an archaeological dig, travel to work with primary source, etc.

    This isn’t about funding teaching in general. It’s about retaining students in their fields.

    It’ll probably freak you out to know that evolution is cut, but ARABIC students are eligible.

    S.R. Chamberlain writes: “So either a) this omission is an accident; or b) Creationists are too stupid to ban all of the fields that cause their pseudo-science trouble.”

    Maybe they figured that banning things like geology or astronomy would be too blatant. Also, they can probably fund “geology” students studying that the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s Flood.

  12. SR: Is it possible that the Creationists have left themselves too ignorant to defend Creationism?

  13. Yeah, John, what fields of science did Democrats refuse to fund?

  14. The Creationists don’t seem to realize that evolution is inextricably tied to every branch of the hard sciences.

    eg:

    Particle physics leads to nuclear fusion.

    Nuclear fusion is the mechanism which powers stars.

    Studying stars leads to the conclusion that most of them are billions of light years away.

    If the stars are billions of light years away, the universe has to have existed for billions of years for the light to get here. {Unless Big G faked the evidence.)

    Particle physics also establishes the decay rates of radioactive isotopes. Examining the ratio of the isotopes to their decay products in rocks gives the age of the rocks and any fossils they enclose. The fossils must therefore be as old as the rocks. (Unless Big G again faked the evidence.)

    [BTW: Don’t suggest that the devil created the light coming from the stars and the fossils. That implies diabolic creation, which was deemed heretical in the Council of Nicea circa 400 AD.]

  15. Uh, John never claimed any Democrats tried to de-fund any sciences, only that “someone is always trying to de-fund what they don’t agree with.” Arguing inside our heads again, are we?

  16. Aresan:

    Nope – The Devil did not create those starts. God Himself did it, just to screw with our brains. Only those who are not fooled by His ploy will gets a ticket for the ride during Rapture.

    You should learn your fundie theology right.

  17. Aresan:

    Nope – The Devil did not create those starts. God Himself did it, just to screw with our brains. Only those who are not fooled by His ploy will gets a ticket for the ride during Rapture.

    You should learn your fundie theology right.

  18. Yes, Kevin, and he wrote it in response to the observation that Republicans are defunding fields of science that the fundies don’t like.

    That was a really pathetic dodge, the kind that only draws attention to the fact that it’s a dodge.

  19. Ramki, that God is disturbingly similar to AM, the supercomputer in Ellison’s I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.

    Once again, glad to be an atheist, so I don’t have to grapple with issues like ‘why is my god such a fucker?’

  20. Atheists aren’t all light and sunshine, you know. Stalinist Russia and Maoist China were both militantly atheistic. Both were also heavy on pseudo-science.

    Religious believers don’t have a monopoly on dogmatism and irrationality. The secular world is full of both.

  21. “Religious believers don’t have a monopoly on dogmatism and irrationality. The secular world is full of both.”

    I find that people with either the Jeezus Fish or the Darwin symbol are equally unforgiving when driving.

  22. “Stalinist Russia and Maoist China were both militantly atheistic.”

    Mostly as an afterthought. They were both anti ANY institution or viewpoint that would detract from their own. I have a feeling they were probably just as nasty to atheists who opposed them as they were religious people.

  23. Plunge-

    Atheism was no afterthought. It’s a central dogma of Marxism.

  24. May,

    Atheism is not a dogma. It simply means not theisist, just like asymetric means not symetric and atypical means not typical. You cannot discern anything about anyone or any group that says it is atheist other than that.

  25. May,

    Communism cannot be atheistic, since it is a religion. That’s why it’s so hostile to other religions.

  26. dogma n. 1. a doctrine; tenet; belief. 2. doctrines, tenets, beliefs, collectively 3. a positive, arrogant assertion of opinion 4. in theology, a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed

    Gee, nothing in any of those definitions that says a dogma has to be a positive belief in a God (or a belief about God at all). The third definition certainly applies to some atheists.

    I find the contortions of logic some atheists go through to deny that the atheism of international communism has anything to do with them while at the same time lumping all religious people and religions into one amorphous, sinister mass.

  27. Name a ‘conservative’ science that was similarly defunded by the Dems.
    Yeah, John, what fields of science did Democrats refuse to fund?

    You mean you don’t know? When Al Gore was Vice President, he made sure that the only atmospheric research that got funded was that that agreed with his beliefs on global warming. I believe this also extended back to his days as chair of the Senate committee that was in charge of such things.

  28. Aaargh. I should never try posting before I’ve had my morning coffee. Please replace, in your mind, “that that” above with “that which”.

    The politicization of science has been going on for a long time. Both parties are doing it, though I don’t believe the damage from both sides is equal.

    Dr. Arthur Kellermann of the CDC was using taxpayers’ money for years producing bogus studies showing that “a gun in the home is X times more likely to kill a loved one than an intruder”, with the value of X varying widely between two orders of magnitude.

    Funny how none of this was Big News when it was Democrats doing it.

    In my opinion, the damage caused by Al Gore’s manipulation of climate science is orders of magnitude worse than any of the Bush administration’s stupid stunts. At least not funding evolution is not going to destroy the economy.

  29. “Communism cannot be atheistic, since it is a religion.”

    Huuuuh?

    First, you can’t rebut non-believers by trying to assert that whatever they believe requires faith (because, of course, only baseless, unsubtanitated belief in the virgin birth of a mortal god, parting waters, and seeing Mary’s face in a cheeseburger are permitted) just because they’ve demonstrated how weak and unconvincing your argument for belief is. Not all systems of belief require faith. In fact, when evidence is ample, belief is simple because you don’t have to devise some artificial construct to fill in gaps in reality (that is, essentially, what faith is). Just as evolution is not a religion and requires no faith to “believe” whatsoever – just an open and rational mind (mucho ample evidence provided) – communism is no more a “religion” than capitalism or feudalism. They’re just ideas that attmpet to model the manner in which wealth is distributed and redistributed to meet an individual’s needs and desires. Note that communism is, likewise, not a form of government (like, say, capitalism or totalitarianism), as it is often incorrectly applied in arguments.

    Second, for those who like to pretend that they’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover and, therefore know the mind of god, and compare it to every other single book ever written – Das Kapital or the Communist Manifesto, in this case – and understand them all thoroughly (when, in fact, except for a few paraphrased stories at church, they have no idea what any of them say), Marx and Engels never say that they have qualms with religion, faith, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What they state in writing (uh, that means you have to read it!) is that, in order for change in the economic landscape to occur, the people must become dissatisfied en masse. Religion, they say, tends to temper this group dissatisfaction and, thus, slow economic progress. Ultimately, religions urge practioners to soften their stance (turn the other cheek, find strength in the lord – “he’ll eventually answer our prayers” – and what not) in such a way that they tend to be less outraged at the behavior of the people controlling their money – and, therefore, their lives and livelihoods. This is the origin of the oft-quoted-out-of-context statement: “Religion is the opiate of the massess.”

  30. As for not destroying the economy, I’ll go all slippery slope in an attempt to demonstrate how the acceptance of teaching evolution as if it actually constituted science might, indeed, destroy the economy:

    – Scientists, who comprise only 5% of the work force, generate 50% of the GDP.
    – Scientists are generally people who find science interesting and believable.
    – Young people are taught to doubt the empirical evidence supporting evolutionary theory promoted by a bunch of god-hating atheists.
    – Young people extrapolate that doubt to include questioning the empirical evidence supporting al fields of science because it’s not stated thusly in the Bible.
    – Young people no longer come to find science to be interesting and believable.
    – Young people choose to study other obviously more lucrative academic pursuits such as Underwater Basketweaving and Televangelism.
    – USA stops producing competent scientists and engineers.
    – Less products made and services rendered by the USA.
    – Ergo, economic ruin for USA.

    Q.E.D., of course.

    NOTE: All other evident logical fallacies are intentional.

  31. Pi Guy,

    First of all, I am atheist.

    Second of all, I actually lived under communism. So you can spare me your condescending lectures on the nature of communism and on what Marx actually said.

    And finally, have you ever compared what apologists of communism say with what apologists of christianity say? You’d be amazed at the similarities.

    And by the way, here’s what David Benson said:

    If we disregard its atheism for a moment, communism has all the trappings of an organized religion: its messiahs and saints – Marx, Engels and Lenin; its sacred scriptures – the writings of these men; a band of apostles and prophets – the Communist Party; an elect nation – the Russian (or Chinese) people; sin – defined as rejecting communism; conversion – becoming a communist; and above all faith – that complete trust one must have in the truth of communism’s holy dogmas.

  32. Ah, yes: steering funding to legitimate climate researchers instead of illegitimate ones is quite clearly the equivalent of not funding evolutionary biology at all.

    How silly of me.

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