I’ve been silent the last week, but that was primarily due to the intervention of the Thanksgiving holiday. Those three days right before the holiday’s start were filled with meetings to finalize or start reviews of several projects, a code freeze for the Braidwood experiment, and my initiation of an analysis framework for the B+ → τ+ ν. Yes, it’s winter-time for particle physics, the second of the two busiest times of the year for my field (the other is summer). With many changes occurring in the world around me, I was refreshed by the prospect of a vacation from physics, time spent with Jodi and our friends.
Jodi returned from the Soudan Mine last Sunday, very late at night. Needless to say, we were both happy to be back together again and looking forward to Thanksgiving and the subsequent Christmas decorating, a tradition in both our families. Jodi had a wonderful menu ready for this holiday, and several of our friends joined us at our cottage for an evening of good food and good conversation. We had another dinner on Saturday night with several more friends, this time centered on a delightful marinated steak that Jodi has made on several occasions.
Tonight, I decided to finished the vacation by closing out the last DVD of the “Evolution” series I’ve been renting from Netflix. This last disc explored the evidence of humanity’s evolution and spread throughout the world, our control over our own evolutionary process through toolmaking and self-awareness, and finally the role God has left to play in a world governed by evolution through natural selection. This last topic was the one that made me the most concerned, as it discussed the social role of evolution by centering on two groups: students at Wheaton college coming to their first personal confrontation with belief and science, and high-school students seeking to get “creation science” taught alongside evolution in biology class. For me, the most personal moments were the interviews with science teachers at that high school. They expressed all that frustration and failure that I feel whenever people confuse science and faith. In particular, they expressed that fundamental disappointment when they realized that these kids, so bright among all their peers, clearly did not understand what science is, and what it is not. This personal failure they expressed was really the focus for me.
To take the edge off these matters, I wanted to go out for tea and conversation with Jodi. We hit Borders in San Mateo, and while browsing the science section waiting for Jodi to come back from the restroom I ran across the new book “The Politically Incorrect Guide To Science”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/089526031X/qid=1133151823/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/103-5715057-2504644?v=glance&s=books, written by anything-but-a-chemist,-physicist,-or-biologist Tom Bethell. Bethell, who has argued that the danger posed by AIDS is something of a myth, puts forth arguments against global warming, evolution, and stem cell research. From a man who is not trained in basic science by any of his degrees, this is bold: to claim that all of these topics are somehow a leftist agenda. I decided to flip through the section on Evolution, only to be confronts by the hollow grange hall of typical arguments: gaps, testimony by scientists who suddenly woke up one day and decided they didn’t believe in Evolution, etc.
There aren’t words for how annoying it is to see this claptrap in print.
Sigh. What perked me up after all this misleading bollox from non-scientists was an article by buddy Mandeep sent out to me, arguing the President can’t have it two ways. He can’t say evolution and intelligent design need equal time, while at the same time insisting we must invest to fight bird flu before it evolves into a human-to-human transmittable disease. When you argue that non-science must be taught alongside science, then you ought to at least get up in front of America and say, “If you can’t get Tamiflu, get on your knees and ask for forgiveness from the Lord.” At least he wouldn’t be a flip-flopper if he said things like that.