Scientists for Science

If you read CalPundit or Crooked Timber, you’ve probably already seen this, but it’s worth re-plugging. About a dozen scientists have created the latest group blog, The Panda’s Thumb, a blog “dedicated to defending the integrity of science against all attempts to weaken it, distort it, or destroy it.” Much of the focus is on efforts by Creationists Intelligent Design-ists to take evolution out of public school curricula, or to at least teach Creationism alongside evolution.

Needless to say, the scientists oppose this:

The battle-cry of the IDists, “teach the controversy!” strongly presupposes that there is a controversy worthy of teaching. It is true that there is a controversy in evolutionary biology, in the political sense. But this is not what such legal scholars as DeWolf (et al.) mean when they use the term. They would like to convince the majority of citizens (or the minority that sit on school boards) that this is an issue of fairness. According to the truism there are two sides to every coin. Why not “teach the controversy” and let the students make reasoned opinions for themselves? Why not use “the controversy” to teach about the process of science?

The best reason not to teach the “origins controversy” is that it simply is nowhere to be found. Genuine scientific controversies — the important and useful ones — take up a huge volume of space in the scientific literature. Even the controversies sparked by wrong ideas can be tracked as they generate discussion among the members of the scientific community. If no-one is talking about it, it’s not controversial.

Don’t expect to these guys to be on any of Bush’s scientific advisory panels.