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Bush Appointee Proves Science Still Not Understood

If you haven't been following along with the story of George Deutsch here's a quick run-down:

  1. Bush appoints George Deutsch, a 24-year-old journalism major, to be NASA's public affairs officer.
  2. Mr. Deutsch is accused of trying to silence scientists who talk about global warming.
  3. Mr. Deutsch writes e-mail to scientists concerning the Big Bang:
  4. "The theory that the universe was created by a 'big bang' is just that: a theory," Deutsch wrote in an e-mail on October 17, 2005, which was obtained by Reuters. "It is not proven fact; it is opinion. Yes, the scientific community by and large may share this opinion, but that doesn't make it correct."

    It is not NASA's place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator the other half of the argument," the e-mail continued.

    (emphasis added)

  5. The internet erupts with protests. Some guy in England with a blog (Nick Anthis) happens to discover that Mr. Deutsch lied on his resume (it turns out Mr. Deutsch did not graduate from college with any degree).
  6. Mr. Deutsch resigns on Tuesday (2006.02.07).

This series of events both worries and angers me. What worries me the most is a fundamental misunderstanding by Mr. Deutsch (and the administration that appointed him) of what role science should play in our lives and the decison making process. Here are a few hints for them:

  • Science is not a series of facts. Maybe it was for Mr. Deutsch back in high school (the only education he has actually finished), but out here in the real world science is a peer-reviewed body of knowledge that only makes claims based on available observations. Science is the best knowledge we have. Does it have contradictions, gaps, and unanswered questions? Sure. Does that make it all invalid? Hell no. Go sell crazy somewhere else.
  • Science cannot be changed to accomodate a set of beliefs. Science will change over time due to new observations and resulting conclusions. This is called "advancement" or "learning." But science cannot be forced to change by outside forces (particularly by politically-motivated or religious forces).
  • Science does not require your belief to be "true". You can believe anything want to believe - just don't try to force it down our throats (or our children's throats) as if it were a legitimate scientific thoery.