Friday, June 03, 2005

Privileged Planets and Abused Science

Curious editorial in the WaPo today: Privileged Planet

To summarize: the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) rented a hall to the Discovery Institute ("intelligent design" advocated) to premiere a movie "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe" - this is basically the "Rare Earth" hypothesis taken to the deistic extreme of "Unique Earth".

One can argue the Galactic Habitable Zone hypothesis (well, not, it is badly wrong) and it is possible "Earth" is rare, conceivably even unique within the Milky Way, but to jump from there to an argument from design is a fallacy of such breathtaking stupidity, that one almost admires the agility of the mental leap.

So, the NMNH got trapped in taking the money without checking the source; standard power play for wannabes there.
So what?

So, this is how our institutions are corrupted. Places like the Discovery Institute buy a little bit of respectability and not coincidentally a fair amount of publicity. Their arguments acquire a thin veneer of legitimacy and the Science side is ever so slightly tainted.

What I still do not understand, given how we got where we are, is how any sentient member of society can so ardently seek to destroy the essential science and progressivity which got us here. Do people really want to outright destroy modern civilization? Or do they honestly think they can persist in the manner to which they are accustomed without modern science and the people and infrastructure that holds it together? Anyone short of an "imminent apocalypse" believer ought to have the sense to leave well enough alone and leave matters of faith to the sphere of faith.


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