Friday, August 04, 2006

Evolution 1, Kansas Yokels 0

I have to say, this has been a good week, at least in Kansas. It looks like the Kansas State Board of Education is going to shift to the middle once again, possibly paving the way for a reversal of the ludicrous science standards that they passed last year. As an evolutionary biology major, I am always insulted when people who know nothing about evolution try to impose their anti-evolution beliefs on me and say I worship Charles Darwin. If they knew anything whatsoever about evolution (or enough to advocate for major changes to an educational curriculum), they would know that Darwin's theory of natural selection is one tiny aspect of evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory is so much more encompassing and complex than they give it credit for. They always argue that they are simply trying to insert a different way of looking at science into classrooms. Science, by the very nature of the fact that it is science, always introduces alternative explanations and criticisms to its theories. If you read scientific papers on any given subject, there are always a variety of opinions as to what is correct. The best example I can think of is systematics. If you wanted to get KU ecology and evolutionary biology professors in an argument, ask them the best way to phylogenetically classify organisms, and let the fun begin.

My big problem with advocates of intelligent design on the KS School Board is that they
want to insert religion without bothering to really learn anything about evolution. The fact that they refuse to learn just indicates to me that they are doing it for religious reasons because if they dare to question the Bible, they think they will go to hell. Most people who objectively study evolutionary biology soon realize that it is not threatening to Christianity or any other belief system. They usually begin to understand why it is silly for the two to mix. Science is science, and religion is religion. The two should only be mixed in philosophy classes. If they want to advocate an objective philosophy class in every classroom in the state, I am all for it. However, with the educational funding problems that this state already has, I do not foresee that happening anytime in the next 500 or so years.

I sure hope that this moderation in Kansas is indicative of a trend at the national level. If so, the mid-term elections may be very interesting. I don't want liberal or conservative at this point in Bush's term, I just want moderation.

Speaking of Bush and Iraq, top military brass were testifying in front of Congress yesterday including Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command. They acknowledged that Iraq could be headed towards a civil war. Gee, do ya' think? My Politics of the Middle East class studied this topic a year before the Iraq War began and we knew that this scenario was more probable than any other under a U.S. led occupation of Iraq.

This excerpt is from CNN:

"Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, asked Pace and Abizaid if they had anticipated sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites a year ago. Pace said he hadn't expected it. Abizaid said it was clear tensions were rising, but he did not expect such a high level of sectarian violence."

My question is, "How can an undergraduate political science class anticipate a civil war in Iraq three years before it happens, but the top military leaders of this country couldn't see it a year ago?" I mean, for God's sake. If you don't understand a region (and Gen. Abizaid with his background doesn't have an excuse), then don't start a friggin' war there. Now, in their defense, they may have disagreed with the Bush administration, but due to their position, they felt powerless to do anything but go along with it. However, if Derek has taught me anything about the military chain of command, it is that you speak up if you are asked to do something that you feel is illegal or immoral by going up the chain of command. I guess since Bush is at the top they couldn't go very far. Therefore, they should have resigned. They didn't, and now young Americans are dying in the hornet's nest known as Iraq. I guess it was the same with Hurricane Katrina. Everyone who has watched a National Geographic special on hurricanes knew that New Orleans was a sitting duck, well everyone except the Bush administration. How many people died there? Anyone getting a theme here?

It's Friday. I won't even start on Lebanon and Israel. Have a good weekend!

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