Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Teach No Evil

So, speaking as an atheist foreigner, the debate over "Intelligent" Design is more amusing than threatening. At the moment, the possibility of a further brain drain from fundamentalist states to the more enlightened parts of the US fills us with joy.

And we were never the keen scientist either, confining ourselves to a lone, and undistinguished, higher in Physics beyond the age of 13. But one thing is confusing us about this whole debate, and it goes back to our (possibly ill-remembered) time doing science those years back. We spent a fair old amount of time in science class learning theories, but as much, if not more, time doing experiments or fieldwork to put them into action.

So go ahead, teach the theory, teach the controversy, and then go to your little charges and say "observe it". If one of the little tykes swears that he saw a big white chap in a beard fooling around with his samples you might be in trouble (more likely the man in the beard), but since ID relies on the absence of evidence to bolster its case, proof is going to be hard to find.

Are we being a tad unfair, or is science at root about the observation and understanding of natural phenomena? Any half decent course will spend a fair amount of time drumming that essential message home. Only a curriculum entirely dependent on rote learning would be threatened by the ID canon, non?


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