Friday, June 16, 2006

Wes Clark and the Scientific Method

Wes Clark has been talking about the importance of science to modern society and our national character. WesPAC has the transcript of General Clark's remarks on science to the YearlyKos convention:
You know, science is the lifeblood of our civilization. It's what has made the modern world possible. It's why the planet supports six billion people and not several hundred million. it's what has distinguished this modern age. It has tremendous benefits, and that carries with it tremendous responsibilities and risks.
Religious conservatives who claim that our country was built on the piety of our founding fathers are missing half of the story. Our founders displayed more than their share of pragmatic curiousity that is the scientific method:
We were pragmatists by nature...Ben Franklin was our first, one of our first notable scientists, taming lightning in a bottle brought down from the sky, understanding for the first time, proving that lightning was this magical thing called electricity.
But this rational, pragmatic strain in American thought is under attack:
And today, I'm sorry to tell you, all that is at risk today. And the distinguished members of this panel are going into it in a lot more detain than than I will. They'll tell you about the cutbacks in basic research and science. They'll talk to you about the politicization of scientific findings, whether it's in the federal Food and Drug Administration or the office of the White House Science Advisor, whether it has to do with the Morning After pill or stem cell research or global warming. It is shocking that the political party that professed to believe in freedom and liberty is trying to impose it's political will on the province of science. It's absolutely turned its own principles in its head in the purest demonstration of political hypocrisy you can see in the American stage today. And that is the Republican Party.
This anti-rational strain is hardly new:
You know when I was growing up in Arkansas, everyone read about the Scopes trial in Tennessee in, in 19, 1924. And, and that was considered for the 1950s as the height of, of lunacy. And now, what do I find across my beloved South in the United States? I find teachers throughout the area who cannot use the dreaded 'E' word. I'm not talking about e-mail.
I'm talking bout E-volution. They can't use it. It's like they're (inaudible) a science teacher from my home state in, in a, in a newspaper, and he says, "Well, I got these rocks in the classroom, and I'm teaching science. And these rocks, they're, they're, they're pretty old, you know. They palea-" It's, it's, I don't know what, "Mesozoic rocks, you know 200, 300, 400 million years old," and so forth. He says, "But I can't say that in the classroom." They say, "Well, what do you say?" He says, "I say. "these rocks, they're very old."'
General Clark concludes by calling for a new era of scientific exporation:
There are whole worlds of knowledge waiting to be discovered in nano-science, in human science, in physics, in material science and in all of the applications that can make life better and safer and more convenient for all of us, but only if we open our eyes, only if we acknowledge the reality of the condition we're in, only if we beat back the challenges that come from well-meaning people of faith who argue against the very kind of exploration that God gave us the power to do. We have to take back our world and advance the frontiers of knowledge. That is our destiny.


Blogger jason said...

I love this for two reasons:

- it is true.

- it is a great issue for Dems.

12:38 PM, June 16, 2006  

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