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August 7, 2005 - An Official Endorsement of Magic Thinking

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Note this from the Associated Press, Tuesday, August 2, 2005 (7:05 AM Eastern):


President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss "intelligent design" alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight-Ridder Newspapers reported.

"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

Christian conservatives - a substantial part of Bush's voting base - have been pushing for the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Scientists have rejected the theory as an attempt to force religion into science education.


The Knight-Ridder item is here and notes, "Bush didn't seem eager to talk about the topic."


He seemed to want to talk about the Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court, and about that baseball player who was suspended for ten days for using steroids, even though the fellow testified to congress he just never, ever used them.  Bush: "Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He testified in public and I believe him."

Hey, the guy just reached 3,000 career hits!  Who are you going to trust?  Palmeiro and Bush are friends - Palmeiro has been to the White House.  Palmeiro says Bush is a great president.

As one critic points out: "It's like listening to a small child. He doesn't want to believe it, so it isn't true. This is the man currently running our country." (And who cares about overpaid athletes taking these things? Doesn't our congress have more important things to look into?)


Digby from Hullabaloo in a similar vein


… Honestly, this blind defense of Palmeiro has little to do with loyalty. It's about Bush's faith based approach to everything. If he believes it, it must be true. He does not use reason to come to conclusions. He makes decisions based on feelings and beliefs and "instinct." In this case, his instinct is that Palmeiro is a good guy and therefore could not have lied. His "instinct" is that creationism makes sense and therefore, is as legitimate as evolution. His "instinct" was that Saddam was a threat and therefore, we had to invade.

We have a man with a child's mind running this country. Millions of us can see this as clearly as we can see his face on our television screens. People can call me an elitist and a snob for pointing this out but I will never stop. It's like telling me it's rude to notice that the sun came up this morning or that gravity exists. It is observable fact that this president is intellectually stunted. I'm not going to pretend otherwise so

Ah, it all fits together.  One believes what one believes - and passes it on, as if you believe it then it must be true. Intelligent design should be passed on in our schools.

Then came the real firestorm, with the first snaky comment on this presidential endorsement of "intelligent design" from Wonkette: Teaching [Intelligent Design] as [an] 'alternative' to evolution is a little like teaching 'magic' as an alternative to physics."

Once on a long flight to Paris with a scientifically challenged friend I was asked how airplanes flew.  She didn't get it - they were so big and heavy.  It seemed an odd question to ask at thirty-eight thousand feet over the middle of the Atlantic, but I launched into the thing about wings and the airflow over the shape of the wing and the low pressure on top and lift and all that stuff.  I got a blank look from her.  I asked her if she ever held her hand out the window of a moving car, tilted it up a bit, and noticed how her hand was forced upward.  I got another blank look from her.  I told her it was magic.  Luckily, back in those days drinks were free on international flights.  Scotch helped.  (And she hated Paris, and the French.)

There is similar frustration out there now about Bush and "intelligent design" as a fine idea.

The conservative John Cole over at Balloon Juice offers The Coalition of the Stupid:


I am beyond offended by the stupidity of this statement and President Bush's position, and I am sort of glad I was too busy to write about this earlier, because it gave me a little time to cool down. Fat load of good it did, because I am still hopping mad. My days of defending this President are over.

To have the leader of the country, the leader of the party, and the person who proclaims that he wants to be known as the 'education president' to state, even casually, that he thinks intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution is lunacy of the first order. First, the facts:

1.) Intelligent design is not a theory. There is no theoretical basis to it. It is not scientific theory, and it is not just bad scientific theory, it is simply not theory. It is ascientific. It is a flight of fancy. It is a call to discard mountains of evidence, throw up ones hands, and state: "This is all too confusing and complex, and science is hard, so some 'intelligent designer' must be behind all this."

2.) Intelligent design is creationism. It may not be quite as audaciously stupid as the nonsense peddled by the 'young earth' crowd, but it is creationism. Just who do you think this 'intelligent designer' is? …

3.) Teaching 'intelligent design' as science, or as a viable theory, or whatever you want to call it other than bullshit, is to assault science. Criticism of evolutionary theory is always welcome, but attempting to replace evolutionary theory with fanciful tales is to assault not only the senses, but to attack the very manner science itself is conducted.

4.) People don't want 'intelligent design' taught because it is a viable scientific theory, they want it taught because it is tailored to fit their pre-existing religious beliefs. The introduction of 'intelligent design' into the classroom will be seen as a blow to the 'evil secularists.' It will be just another step in 'taking back the culture.'

The culture of stupid.

… I have no problem with a brief fifteen-minute discussion of intelligent design as part of a religious/philosophy class, provided schools offer those courses. But I don't think that is what Bush meant, and to teach intelligent design alongside evolution (which, by itself is difficult enough to teach high school students, and usually isn't taught well enough), as a 'school of thought' is simple idiocy. And that won't change no matter how many press releases the jackasses at the Discovery Institute release.

Maybe Bush just said this to play to the base. I don't care. It was stupid, irresponsible, and he should be widely castigated for even suggesting that this be taught. In short, the next time President Bush asks, "Is our children learning," I know what I will be thinking to myself: "Maybe, but no thanks to you, jackass."


Yipes!  And the stuff left out with the ellipses is just as tough.

And the Rude Pundit is ever better, or worse, depending on your point of view, with The Stupiding of America:


George W. Bush wants America to be stupid. When he said in an interview with Texas newspaper reporters that "intelligent design" (also known as the theory that "the earth and everything on it was made by a magical sky wizard when that big fucker snapped his fingers and thus created humans, buzzards, ebola, and rats") ought to be taught along with evolution in public schools, the President of the United States may as well have said, "I want all American children to be stupid, so fuckin' stupid and desperate and superstitious that the Republican party and its fundamentalist crotch-sniffers can manipulate them into dicking themselves over more often than Ron Jeremy fucking himself."

Bush, trying to look "rational" about forcing the Christian bible into the classroom, said, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes." Which is not unlike telling your girlfriend that it's not that you necessarily believe that it'd be fun if your old frat brother fucked you in the ass while you were eating her out, but everyone should be exposed to different ideas. In other words, it's bullshit cover. And it equates science with mythology. And the whole fuckin' debate is just a bigger cover to distract ever-stupider Americans from the real shit that's goin' down.


As you see, there is a reason he's called "The Rude One." And then he launches into how this relates to the Bolton nomination to the UN post:


… what does it say to the children that you can be the biggest asshole who abuses and threatens powerless people, intimidates into silence people above you, goes around your boss to the higher-ups, and just generally is a motherfucker of boundless energy? What does it say to the children?

Like creationism, it says do not question the power of those above you, children, do not dare question their decisions. Just stay stupid and let higher powers show you the way.


Oh my!

Bill Montgomery over at Whiskey Bar just quotes Menken:


The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life …
Such organizations, of course, must have leaders; there must be men in them whose ignorance and imbecility are measurably less abject than the ignorance and imbecility of the average. These super-Chandala often attain to a considerable power, especially in democratic states. Their followers trust them and look up to them; sometimes, when the pack is on the loose, it is necessary to conciliate them. But their puissance cannot conceal their incurable inferiority. They belong to the mob as surely as their dupes, and the thing that animates them is precisely the mob's hatred of superiority. Whatever lies above the level of their comprehension is of the devil.

- H.L. Menken, Homo Neanderthalensis, June 1925



A more measured approach here:


… the purpose of education is to educate. Not all "ideas" are equal, and science is not a popularity contest in which everyone gets a vote.

The main problem with teaching intelligent design in science class is that intelligent design is not science. How can I be so sure? For starters, intelligent design still hasn't proposed a hypothesis that can be proven false - a basic requirement of a scientific theory - much less proposed a test that might be used to falsify that theory.


No, you just have to believe it.

What else can believe? 


Try this:


Alright then, I've got a few more "ideas" that students should probably be exposed to as long as we're talking about filling their heads with a bunch of nonsense like ID -

1. The earth is actually a bowl sitting on the back of elephants. Hey! If its good enough for the Hindus, why not us?

2. The God Manitou took pity on a mother bear who had lost her cubs while swimming across Lake Michigan and turned the cubs into islands (the Manitou islands) and the mother into a sand dune (Sleeping Bear Sand Dune). The Ojibwa's believe it… I did too until I was about 5 years old.

3. NASA really didn't go to the moon. The moon walk was done on a Hollywood sound stage.

4. A stitch in time saves nine. Try it, Mr. President. It's true.

5. The invention of the microwave oven is the result of back engineering alien technology found in the rubble of a spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1945…or was it 1948? The date doesn't matter. What matters is many, many people believe it. (This info surprised the actual inventor of the microwave oven Percy L. Spencer)

6. Gerry Thomas, who recently passed away, invented the TV Dinner. Hell, the mainstream media reported it, why not teach it?

One can go on and on.


The earth isn't really a bowl sitting on the back of elephants?  But that's so cool.

On the other hand, in terms of public opinion, Bush is with the majority on this issue.  A CBS News poll in November found that most Americans don't think humans evolved, but then they don't want evolution totally replaced in schools - two-thirds believe "intelligent design" should be taught alongside evolution in the schools. Bush is just going with the flow.

Note: "That total includes 56 percent of Kerry voters. In fact, 37 percent of the country supports teaching creationism instead of evolution. Thus, if the United States were to have a national referendum about Intelligent Design in schools, the position that the President expressed today might win in a landslide.

Well, Tuesday, August 2, this topic is all over the web.  Anyone can find lots on it.  It will pass.

But you can also Google for appropriate quotes.

"Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it." - Pope Jean John Paul II

"I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it." - Dame Edith Sitwell

"It's possible to fight intolerance, stupidity and fanaticism when they come separately. When you get all three together it's probably wiser to get out, if only to preserve your sanity." - P. D. James


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
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