Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Beginning with the End in Mind

My interest in the blogosphere has been piqued in recent days, so I’ve decided to start my own. I’m not sure why I feel that my voice will add anything new to the nearly infinite voices of cyberspace, but at least I know that at times I will preach to the choir, while at other times, I will elicit flame. Nevertheless, the focus of this blog will be conservation, science, education, wildlife, and birds. I can’t promise, however, that I won’t diverge a bit at times.
Stephen Covey may have coined the phrase “begin with the end in mind” as a tool for success in the real world, but it certainly spells disaster for the field of science. My history as a science educator has spanned 30 years, from a time when evolution was taught freely in the science classroom to a time when the mention of the word evokes irrational responses and brands one as a card carrying communist and atheist. Sadly, but true, the scientific community must constantly battle the forces of fundamentalist religions that have aggressively attacked and attempted to discredit sound, scientific findings through history and well into the present.
In this month’s Physics Today, there is an article entitled “Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement”, by Pervez Amirali Hoodbhov. Hoodbhov laments the downfall of science in Muslim countries and asserts that there have been no significant scientific inventions or discoveries that have emerged from the Muslim world in over seven centuries. The article is well worth the read. Click the link above to find it.
Back to “beginning with the end in mind”: Where fundamentalist, proselytizing religions completely dominate, objective inquiry-based science cannot exist. Here, only science, or shall I say pseudoscience, that offers “proof” to the existence of God remains. Science cannot “begin with the end in mind” without becoming a tool of propaganda serving private interests and institutions eager to acquire power. In this state, we all lose. Let this serve as a reminder to the dangers of fundamentalism in our own country. Speak up for sound, objective science whenever possible. Don't let special interests dictate the direction of any science inquiry.

"Science is simply common sense at its best that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic."
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95) English biologist.


Greg said...

Science cannot “begin with the end in mind” without becoming a tool of propaganda serving private interests and institutions eager to acquire power.

Case in point: The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in its quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker......... Worrying that admitting that the IBWO actually does not exist in Arkansas would adversely affect funding for the lab and its conservation related projects, director Fitzpatrick attempted to stop the publication of Ivory-billed skeptic Jerome Jackson. See this month's Science journal for details or go to http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2007/08/gambling-on-ghost-bird.html for excerpts of the article.

N8 said...

Are you talking to yourself? : )

marvin d said...

I find it ironic that creationists are generally very happy with the results of science and quick to use them, including electricity, medicine, and a million other things from cheap food to flat screen TVs, but want to manipulate science when it appears to contradict their world view. By its very nature, science is relatively difficult to manipulate and you do so at your own risk.

Furthermore, having grown up in a fairly conservative Protestant religious tradition that did not scorn evolution, I wonder what it is about evolution that fundamentalists perceive as contradicting their religion.

Greg said...

Are you talking to yourself?

Why yes, I am.
I do it all the time! :)
Does it violate blogger etiquette?