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NASA Science Under Attack

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the when-is-science-not-under-attack dept.

NASA 590

The Bad Astronomer writes "The New York Times is reporting that NASA science is being harassed and even sometimes suppressed by presidential political appointees. The article details how NASA scientists dealing with such topics as global warming and the Big Bang are under attack for ideological and religious reasons." The submitter also has a running commentary summarizing a bit of the background of the story on his blog.

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Old but with a new twist. (5, Interesting)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649877)

NASA's Science programs have been under attack since the Mercury missions... First by scientists and such. They were never popular in the science community then. But now being attacked by ideological people? I find this a little disturbing. As science is the search for truth... And me, as a republican, I think science needs to be left alone for the most part. We need to go back to the moon, and on to Mars.

Re:Old but with a new twist. (0, Troll)

ncurtain (937487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649916)


Why does skepticism only run one way. It's ratchet effect is strangling scientific enquiry.

As regards NASA. They don't stop people holding their own opinions off site. But thankfully they have sensible moderation for the official sites.

Having said that. Wasn't the Challenger disaster caused by mismanagement?

It's difficult to know where to draw the line sometimes.

uhm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649984)

what the fucking hell is this post actually about?

don't post here.

Re:Old but with a new twist. (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649936)

And me, as a republican, I think science needs to be left ...



To some other influential republicans, however, science is already too left, and therefore, not right.

Re:Old but with a new twist. (0, Flamebait)

atheist666 (525252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650049)

... As science is the search for truth... And me, as a republican, I think science needs to be left alone for the most part.
Sadly, I think this puts you in the minority as a Republican, at least a minority among Republicans that control things.

Re:Old but with a new twist. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650106)

I thought Science was about Fact. Haven't we all learned from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that truth is to be found down the hall in Philosophy 101?

Re:Old but with a new twist. (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650196)

I think that all this kind of garbage would go away if the scientist, who tend to be petulant and drama queens regardless, would simply stop applying political spin to their work in the first place.

WTF? Telling them that they need to call the Big Bang Theory a...Theory is suppression of science?

Honestly... (-1, Flamebait)

Stachybotris (936861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649880)

Does this surprise anyone? The only thing that I'm surprised about is that the administration hasn't made some prominent scientists 'disappear'.

Re:Honestly... (3, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649927)

Wait, aren't you speaking about comrade Lysenko?

You see, Orwell's books were not fiction, but a thinly veiled image of the then-present state of Russia. The US is still far away from this, but don't worry, it's well on it's way...

Re:Honestly... (-1, Flamebait)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649933)

Does this surprise anyone?

What, that the NY Times is taking every opportunity it can to marginalize a Republican administration? No, not at all. The next headline will read that Fox News has talked to a team of scientists whose research runs counter to the United Nations' global warming initiatives, and the partisan rightwing nuts will jump over that in the same manner the leftwing loonies come to feast on the anti-Bush raw meat thrown to them in threads like this. Nobody actually learns anything, nobody has a genuine discussion, the agreeable pixels and warm hive-minding just make them feel good about opinions they've already formed and are uncomfortable about challenging.

The only winners are the people smart enough to be able to cash in on the pageviews.

...maybe I should start a blog afterall...

Re:Honestly... (5, Insightful)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649993)

No, but it does surprise me you would post such a "preachy" item while doing literally the same thing yourself. You sound like this: "The NYT is liberal media, they talk bad about Bush and never say anything nice. FoxNews does the same thing in reverse." Did you even think that the news might be legitimate. Is there some degree of bias in media? Yes. However, the fact is that it is not as widespread and blatant as everyone makes it out to be.

Go read The Washington Post and see if you can name which way it leans. If you read it for a few weeks you might find yourself rather confused on that question. I have heard just about everyone say it leans each possible direction. I have found the people who say it is right-leaning are often people who are on the left and do not like what the paper is telling them. The opposite is true for those who say it is left-leaning because they are right and do not agree with what the paper is telling them.

The problem is not the media being right or left and who listens to it, so much as it is people not agreeing with what they are hearing, so they attach labels to justify their own ignorance of the facts. Surely G.W. cannot be wrong if we say the sources are "leftist media", and surely G.W. cannot be right if we say the sources are "rightist media".

But of course, I hope you have an open enough mind to challenge your view on traditional media because right now you do not sound much better then the "right wing nuts" and "left wing loonies" to which you refer.

Re:Honestly... (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650073)

Oh they've dissapeared all right... Then everyone that knew them dissapeared, so no one was left except a few hobos and a coffee shop owner, well.. he was a coffeeshop owner, now he's in rehab.

Re:Honestly... (4, Interesting)

moxley (895517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650221)

Are you kidding me? While I don't think it can be said definitively that it is "The Administration," many of the worlds top microbiologists have been murdered since 2001 - many of them with ties to the US military/intelligence research community (DynCorp and other US MIC entities).

The first stories appeared at the end of 2001 with 5 top microbiologists dying within approximately one month of each other, all were murdered or died suspiciously. By 3/2002 14 "world class" microbiologists had died in similar "muggings," murders or freak accidents.

By the beginning of 2005 the number had grown to over 40. It's not just people who worked in the field, these are prominent scientists, many with connections to biowarfare, the engineering of viruses, and the MIC.

Every year there are several watchdog type books and publications which list and rank the top censored or buried news stories of each year. This story has been among the top "censored" news stories almost every year since 2002.

If you doubt this information, check it out for yourself.

MIC? (1)

Stachybotris (936861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650245)

What does the minimum inhibitory concentration have to do with anything? Or are you referring to some other possible interpretation of that abbreviation?

Re:MIC? (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650314)

I think the OP meant "Military-Industrial Complex"....

The article in full (4, Informative)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649884)

A week after NASA's top climate scientist complained that the space agency's public-affairs office was trying to silence his statements on global warming, the agency's administrator, Michael D. Griffin, issued a sharply worded statement yesterday calling for "scientific openness" throughout the agency.

Not His Own Words

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him (January 29, 2006)

"It is not the job of public-affairs officers," Dr. Griffin wrote in an e-mail message to the agency's 19,000 employees, "to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff."

The statement came six days after The New York Times quoted the scientist, James E. Hansen, as saying he was threatened with "dire consequences" if he continued to call for prompt action to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. He and intermediaries in the agency's 350-member public-affairs staff said the warnings came from White House appointees in NASA headquarters.

Other National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists and public-affairs employees came forward this week to say that beyond Dr. Hansen's case, there were several other instances in which political appointees had sought to control the flow of scientific information from the agency.

They called or e-mailed The Times and sent documents showing that news releases were delayed or altered to mesh with Bush administration policies.

In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.

And in December 2004, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory complained to the agency that he had been pressured to say in a news release that his oceanic research would help advance the administration's goal of space exploration.

On Thursday night and Friday, The Times sent some of the documents to Dr. Griffin and senior public-affairs officials requesting a response.

While Dr. Griffin did not respond directly, he issued the "statement of scientific openness" to agency employees, saying, "NASA has always been, is and will continue to be committed to open scientific and technical inquiry and dialogue with the public."

Because NASA encompasses a nationwide network of research centers on everything from cosmology to climate, Dr. Griffin said, some central coordination was necessary. But he added that changes in the public-affairs office's procedures "can and will be made," and that a revised policy would "be disseminated throughout the agency."

Asked if the statement came in response to the new documents and the furor over Dr. Hansen's complaints, Dr. Griffin's press secretary, Dean Acosta, replied by e-mail:

"From time to time, the administrator communicates with NASA employees on policy and issues. Today was one of those days. I hope this helps. Have a good weekend."

Climate science has been a thorny issue for the administration since 2001, when Mr. Bush abandoned a campaign pledge to restrict power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, and said the United States would not join the Kyoto Protocol, the first climate treaty requiring reductions.

But the accusations of political interference with the language of news releases and other public information on science go beyond climate change.

In interviews this week, more than a dozen public-affairs officials, along with half a dozen agency scientists, spoke of growing efforts by political appointees to control the flow of scientific information.

In the months before the 2004 election, according to interviews and some documents, these appointees sought to review news releases and to approve or deny news media requests to interview NASA scientists.

Repeatedly that year, public-affairs directors at all of NASA's science centers were admonished by White House appointees at headquarters to focus all attention on Mr. Bush's January 2004 "vision" for returning to the Moon and eventually traveling to Mars.

Starting early in 2004, directives, almost always transmitted verbally through a chain of midlevel workers, went out from NASA headquarters to the agency's far-flung research centers and institutes saying that all news releases on earth science developments had to allude to goals set out in Mr. Bush's "vision statement" for the agency, according to interviews with public-affairs officials working in headquarters and at three research centers.

Tried to Silence Him (January 29, 2006)

Many people working at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said that at the same time, there was a slowdown in these centers' ability to publish anything related to climate.

Most of these career government employees said they could speak only on condition of anonymity, saying they feared reprisals. But their accounts tightly meshed with one another.

One NASA scientist, William Patzert, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, confirmed the general tone of the agency that year.

"That was the time when NASA was reorganizing and all of a sudden earth science disappeared," Mr. Patzert said. "Earth kind of got relegated to just being one of the 9 or 10 planets. It was ludicrous."

In another incident, on Dec. 2, 2004, the propulsion lab and NASA headquarters issued a news release describing research on links between wind patterns and the recent warming of the Indian Ocean.

It included a statement in quotation marks from Tong Lee, a scientist at the laboratory, saying some of the analytical tools used in the study could "advance space exploration" and "may someday prove useful in studying climate systems on other planets."

But after other scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory queried Dr. Lee on the statement, he e-mailed public-affairs officers saying he disavowed the quotation and demanded that the release be taken off the Web site. His message was part of a sequence of e-mail messages exchanged between scientists and public-affairs officers. That string of messages was provided to The Times on Friday by a NASA official.

In his e-mail message, Dr. Lee explained that he had cobbled together part of the statement on space exploration under "the pressure of the new HQ requirement for relevance to space exploration" and under a timeline requiring that NASA "needed something instantly."

The press office dropped the quotation from its version of the release, but in Washington, the NASA headquarters public affairs office did not.

Dr. Lee declined to be interviewed for this article.

According to other e-mail messages, the flare-up did not stop senior officials in headquarters from insisting that Mr. Bush's space-oriented vision continue to be reflected in all earth-science releases.

In the end, the news release with Dr. Lee's disavowed remark remained up on the NASA headquarters public affairs Web site until The Times asked about it yesterday. It was removed from the Web at midday.

The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

The memo also noted that The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual specified the phrasing "Big Bang theory." Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch's boss, said in an interview yesterday that for that reason, it should be used in all NASA documents.

The Deutsch memo was provided by an official at NASA headquarters who said he was upset with the effort to justify changes to descriptions of science by referring to politically charged issues like intelligent design. Senior NASA officials did not dispute the message's authenticity.

Mr. Wild declined to be interviewed; Mr. Deutsch did not respond to e-mail or phone messages. On Friday evening, repeated queries were made to the White House about how a young presidential appointee with no science background came to be supervising Web presentations on cosmology and interview requests to senior NASA scientists.

The only response came from Donald Tighe of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Science is respected and protected and highly valued by the administration," he said.

Re:The article in full (-1, Troll)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649923)

Don't be suprised if Mr. Hansen appears on Coast To Coast AM with Art Bell or George Noory.
NASA has been hiding a lot of science facts over the years that they do not want to get out to the general public since it doesn't conform with the status quo.Such as drilling thru a fossil on Mars,let alone the orbital pictures on the Cydonia region SHOWING buildings(ruins).
Unfortunatly for NASA,the truth usually comes out sooner than later.

Login Information (3, Informative)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649952)

Or you can get usernames and passwords here [bugmenot.com] .

Muslims offended by cartoon but not by murder (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649957)

ANKARA, Turkey -- A teenage boy shot and killed the Italian Roman Catholic priest of a church in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon on Sunday, shouting "God is great" as he escaped, according to police and witnesses.

Officers were searching for the boy aged around 14 or 15, according to a police official who declined to be identified because of rules that bar Turkish civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

The police official would not say if the attack might be linked to the printing in European newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which has caused anger in Muslim countries. Earlier Sunday, hundreds of Turks protested in Istanbul against the cartoons.

"Whether the killing is linked to the caricatures will emerge when the culprit has been caught," Trabzon's Gov. Huseyin Yavuzdemir said.

The priest, 60-year-old Andrea Santoro, was shot hours after Mass at Santa Maria Church.

A woman who answered the telephone at the church said the priest was inside when he was attacked, and prosecutor Burhan Cobanoglu said he was shot twice from behind, with bullets ripping through his heart and liver.

Pope Benedict XVI's envoy in Turkey, Monsignor Antonio Lucibello, said he had spoken by telephone with a witness who said she saw the attacker fleeing and "heard the young man shout 'Allah Akbar' (God is Great).'"

Lucibello declined to speculate on the motive for the killing, but said there were "no elements" to link the attack with the protests over the newspaper cartoons.

Turkey's government denounced the attack.

"We condemn with hatred the fact that the murder was committed in a house of worship against a man of religion," said Justice Minister Cemil Cicek.

Fuck the Pedophile Mohammed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650030)

A religion that can't tolerate satire is a weak religion indeed.

Big Bang is not a "theory" (-1, Troll)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650039)

Big Bang is an hypothesis, and a wrong one, too. I've seen four different groups point out four different ways in which the hypothesis is unquestionably refuted. The least subtle that I can recall is the BigBangNeverHappened [bigbangneverhappened.org] crew, but they're only one of many. They're not religious whackos, either.

My personal favourite refutation is this image [nasa.gov] , of a highly redshifted (z=2.11) quasar sitting between us and an opaque galaxy (NGC 7319, part of Stephan's Quintet, z=0.0225), but many others prefer the Blazar 3C 345 [bu.edu] , an object which is changing shape, if current astrophysics is correct, at roughly seven times the speed of light. However, there's no reason to fight, 'coz there's plenty of other "anomalous" objects to go around.

Notice that the NGC 7319 shot is from Hubble and hosted by JPL; this is not a backyard job or some random Russian with a unique idea, and 3C 345 is from the VLBA and hosted by Boston University.

Re:Big Bang is not a "theory" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650086)

The Big Bang Theory is not invalidated by a few anomalies. Let us not forget, the idea of Big Bang came about from Hubble's observation that the further away a galaxy is from us, the faster it's moving away from us. It's called Hubble's Law [wikipedia.org] .

Once again we see people jamming crowbars into the cracks in our knowledge so they can supernatural deities in there. That's just sad.

Re:Big Bang is not a "theory" (5, Interesting)

TheSwirlingMaelstrom (580923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650186)

Ok, normally I don't respond to trolls, but I'm not quite through my first coffee of the day, so what the heck...

First off, the observations of the CMB and the Hubble flow demonstrate that the Universe was smaller and hotter in the past. It's pretty simple physics, I'm sure you can figure it out without hurting yourself.

Second, you must be channelling Halton Arp: he tends to pull numbers out of his *ss without any data to back them up. He also tends to point at random line-of-sight alignments of objects at different distances and make weird claims about how those objects support his bogus claim of the day.

Third, superluminal motions are a geometric effect and do not show real 'faster than light' motions. This was explained in the 60s.

Fourth, time for more coffee.

Have a nice day!

Re:Big Bang is not a "theory" (3, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650284)

Big Bang is an hypothesis
Wrong Big Bang is a Theory. A theory is a hypothesis with evidence pointing to that fact. While theorys may not be what is happening it seems to fit the data well, in the experements. A Law which are quite rare in science is when something is proven without a doubt.

People need to learn these basic concepts to understand science. Science is more of a processes of finding fact vs. soldid fact itself.
The more evidence you have for your theory the better your theory is and more widly excepted as truth as we know it.

Back in time truth was considered the sun went around the earth, and anyone who said otherwise without the evidence would be considered wrong/evil (as it was the style at the time), and in general they would be wrong sciencetificly because there would be no proof that he was indeed correct. This was finally change when we had the ability to map the other planets movements to realize their orbits would be simpler if they went around the sun with us as well. Thus the new truth was the sun was the center of our solar system.

Re:Big Bang is not a "theory" (3, Interesting)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650326)

A Law which are quite rare in science is when something is proven without a doubt.

You're right about hypotheses versus theories, but a law is not something "higher up" in the ladder of proof, it is something else entirely - whilst a theory is a large model to explain something, a law is a simple observation (eg, in the form of an equation). Whilst laws are often considered absolutely correct, this is not always so - eg, there are doubts as to the strength of the force of gravity, and we know that the gas laws are certainly only an approximation.

Re:Big Bang is not a "theory" (1)

pdclarry (175918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650391)

Big Bang is an hypothesis

Wrong Big Bang is a Theory. A theory is a hypothesis with evidence pointing to that fact. While theorys may not be what is happening it seems to fit the data well, in the experements. A Law which are quite rare in science is when something is proven without a doubt.

Agreed that Big Bang is a Theory. However, in science a Law is slightly different. A Law is something observable; e.g., you can demonstrate Newton's Laws, Hook's Law, Bernoulli's Law, etc., and describe them mathematically, without actually understanding why they are true. A Theory is the explanation of the Law.

Darwin's Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection explains the observable fact that species evolve. This fact was known long before Charles Darwin, but the mechanism for the observed facts was not understood. Darwin and Wallace provided an explanation that fit the observations and was verifiable, and thus was admitted to science as a Theory.

People need to learn these basic concepts to understand science. Science is more of a processes of finding fact vs. soldid fact itself. The more evidence you have for your theory the better your theory is and more widly excepted as truth as we know it.

Science is not about answers. Science is a way of asking questions. (Not original with me).

NoReg NYT Link Generator (4, Informative)

mjbkinx (800231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650060)

You know, there's this nice service [blogspace.com] to transform NYT links to their RSS pendants which don't require a login. Just as a hint for future submitters.

Try it. [nytimes.com]

Re:The article in full (0, Troll)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650171)

Fucktard, NASA is a Government Agency and therefore MUST be politically savvy, it's life depends on it. The last 20 yrs NASA has had to fight for every budget dollar. Anything they do that presents themselves in the right political light to the White House AND Congress by using timing, wording,etc. they MUST do. I have worked for NASA during the admins of Bush Sr, Clinton and GWB and it has NOT changed a bit in how it seeks to spin science to it's political advantage and using the Public Affairs office to work the system. This is because the average Joe of the USA does not think NASA is important nor does it realize how much it costs to do science. They love the "coolnesss" factor but don't want to pay for it, they'd rather have something else. And that is the way our system of Government works. As for wording something like the Big Bang or Global Warming as a Theory, GOOD scientists shouldn't object because they ARE Theories, neither one has been proven beyond doubt. Slowing down the release of papers isn't always bad, and isn't always politics. Having worked for NASA I saw things published that were poorly done, were common knowledge,or had flat been copied from other research. As a taxpayer I object to that, and a stronger review system that keeps the science GOOD and the political slant of the scientists out of the paper is also good. I will also say there are a lot of dissenting voices inside NASA who like to make trouble for whoever is the new administrator, they often get fed some project they wanted so they will shut up, they can't be fired they have too much time in the system. I suspect these guys the NYT found are that type, they just didn't get thir pet project this time. The new adiministrator who came from Industry, is a well respected engineer, does not take with scientists BS, and has strong opinions is going to piss off some people. O'Keefe took great care NOT to piss off people but he also never had much vision and IMHO NASA floundered a bit under his leadership. NASA is very very political, and going public is not going to help these folks careers, just as if you spoke out against your boss and company to the NYT.

Re:The article in full (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650392)

Re-read the memo. The twit Mr. Deutsch isn't using "theory" in a scientific sense, he's calling it an "opinion." He also makes it quite clear that there are religious reasons behind his insistence.

So what? (-1, Flamebait)

flyinwhitey (928430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650398)

"The statement came six days after The New York Times quoted the scientist, James E. Hansen, as saying he was threatened with "dire consequences" if he continued to call for prompt action to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming."

I'd threaten him with dire consequences too.

It's not the job of a scientist to suggest actions based upon their research, and in doing so, they bring their own biases into play.

Present the research. That's the job of a scientist.

First Post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649891)

W00t!

Has this happened before? (2, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649894)

The article doesn't mention whether this has happenend in previous administrations. Although I guess I'm not quite that surprised that it is happening now. It's really too bad.

Oh, really? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649953)

Administrations, you may say. Are you referring to the Homosexual Negro Administration of America? You are the second post, so you actually have no legitimacy in this matter.
 
Example: I am a stupid slashdot poster. Mod me flamebait or something
 
  Because I'm just wasting karma, you mother truckers!1

well... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649900)

Wouldn't be the first time, in the USA...xian fundamentalism, here it comes.

One day, I'm sure ID will surplant real science (at least in the USA). Besides, there is a long history (see the muffling of scientific findings of environmental scientists&researchers) of suppressing real science because of political, economic or religious belief.

You have that in europe too (at least the former two), but to a lesser degree. The latter is non-existant, luckily.

Oh, yes? (0, Offtopic)

ncurtain (937487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649961)

Besides, there is a long history of suppressing real science because of political, economic or religious belief.

You have that in europe too (at least the former two), but to a lesser degree. The latter is non-existant, luckily.


It's not real science if it is political, economic or religious belief. It's science when it's proven, demonstrated, controlled, repeated and mathematically demonstrable.

Most expert forums in the UK for example steer clear of unresolvable issues. So when Lovelock can show that his daisies won't grow because of the output of such dirty things as that gianormous chimney: Hawaii; or one of those lichen encrusted ones from a mill in the northern British Midlands, maybe other sensible groups will give him living space. Ditto for the one from the article.

I suppose it has not crossed the blinkered minds of those affected by that modern hypocritical religion; evolution, that these things have occurred in times past and that climate modelling isn't very good.

With the finest computers in the world and a host of interconnections with others, weather forecasters have great difficulty in going past 5 days. They can't get past this wednesday at the moment.

And any long term stuff needs careful moderation.

Re:Oh, yes? (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650372)

Fortunately, climatologists and meteorologists have a slightly better grasp of the difference between climate and weather than the parent post.

Meet George Deutsch (5, Informative)

aapold (753705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649930)

as mentioned in the article, NASA public affairs officer George Deutsch is the one who sent out the memo insisting that the word "Theory" be included with every mention of the Big Bang.

His memo reads:
"The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."


Religious issues at NASA. I only wish this were some loony story, but it appears legit.

Given his young age (twenty four), you might imagine George Deutsch having an impeccable resume. He graduated in 2003 from Texas A&M with a degree in journalism, then in 2004 was an intern in the Bush-Cheney re-election "war room". Here is a link [salon.com] to some of his articles he wrote while at the Texas A&M Battalion.

These people's religion vitiates *everything* (5, Insightful)

ianscot (591483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650129)

Those excerpts were well worth a look. Among the bits from Mr. Deutsch's college career, we get an off-the-wall apologia for the defense team in the trial over Laci Peterson's death. Young Mr. Deutsch buys the satanic cult that framed Scott Peterson. Because, you know, well... "Satanism -- Boo"!

The position that IDers' "Teach kids the controversy" position was a slippery slope has just been vindicated, again. Deutsch is right, his position is "more than a science issue." No matter what the area of discussion, he's going to bounce things off his religious beliefs. The thing is, his religious beliefs aren't about truth or morality or justice; they're about reinforcing human authority to speak for God with absolute authority. If it's convenient to cast doubt on a murder conviction because it'll fan the spectacular claims of rampant satanic cults running loose in America, so be it. That helps keep the flock in line. Good deal, write it up George.

In a theocracy, religion gets inserted into every area of life, with the aim being to reinforce the power of those in charge. That's what these people want. They want scientists to be running scared from the local party representative. It's their very own Cultural Revolution, albeit with different idols to worship. And it can happen, even here.

Re:Meet George Deutsch (3, Interesting)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650347)

But, the Big Bang *IS* a theory. NPOV would require it be referred to as a theory. Wikipedia calls it a theory; are they a tool of the Religious Right?

I'm an atheist and this doesn't sound wrong to me; it's a theory. What's the big deal in insisting it be called such? Is the truth so damaging to somebody's agenda here?

Sad really (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649935)


such a young life, wasted

The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.

        In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

        The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."


you have to feel pity , that such a young person (24) can have have such a magnitude of delusion and be in a position to corrupt others with their issues

Re:Sad really (4, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649981)

If you want to go far in politics, you've got to bet on one side or the other. I suppose he thinks that in 30 years time, the US will be a cleric-ridden theocracy, and then he'll be at the top of the tree.

Given the way things are going, this might be a better way to bet your career at that age, than siding with the left wing.

Re:Sad really (5, Informative)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650016)

You left out the very best part!

[Deutsch's email] continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

Or is that the worst part? It's certainly the scariest.

Sadder Still (0, Offtopic)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650041)

such a young life, wasted

Wasted?! This sycophant is probably earning a six figure salary and hob-nobs with ultramarine-blue bloods every fortnight. All at the tender age of 24.

The only loser here is his misfortunate young wife, who's had her salad days cut short so she can stay at home and raise this monstrosities offspring and service him sexually wherever and whenever he chooses.

Now that's a wasted life.

Now if they can just get rockets to fly on faith (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650275)

Maybe George Duetch can ask his sky-god to miracle them back to the moon.

-Eric

NASA as a research center vs. pretty space thing (3, Insightful)

DingerX (847589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649947)

What's going on can be seen in the "refocus on space exploration" mentioned in the article. Relatively speaking, the most expensive part of NASA is manned space exploration, and it is economically the least efficient way to find out about the world around us. Human trips to the Moon and to Mars can tell us plenty of things about those planets that unmanned spacecraft cannot. But they're also hugely expensive, and a lot of that money goes to the massive engineering effort needed to bring the mission about -- read, a lot of money goes into the hands of a few private firms that are on good terms with the Bush administration.

On the other hand, "scientific research" at NASA is a problem. Here we have a prominent government research facility that does all kinds of research: research that requires large teams, or specialized equipment, or a permanent base beyond what the worlds' research universities can supply. And, unfortunately, much of the information it puts out, particularly in the sublunar spheres, tends to be either insignificant in terms of Lockheed Martin's participation, or contrary to the government's stated policy on environmental issues or the imminent second coming of Christ.

This administration has exercised tighter control over the bureaucratic aspects of government than any other in recent memory -- just look at what's happening in the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. The one constant has been the apparent demand for "Good News" that corroborates and does not falsify the central administration's gospel. Is it any surprise they'd go after NASA as well?

Oh, that's old news (-1, Flamebait)

droolfool (235314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649959)

I don't really believe NASA is "under attack". Some scientists are always complaining. The only thing you need to do is not to believe them. Oh, boy, they get mad. They say you're some kind of religious xtreme-right-wing-that-burns-children fanatical guy.

BTW: I don't believe the Big Bang theory. Really, I don't. And not for religious reasons, because I'm not creationist. It's not a proven theory, and I don't blame the scientists for it. How can they prove something that happened billions of years ago? Heck, many times we can't even prove something that happened a few thousands of years ago! If you ask me "oh and how did it happen then, you stupid xtreme-right-wing fanatical mf?". My answer is: I don't know, and I don't care to know either

What's next? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14649973)

What's next? Intelligent design being taught in science classrooms? HAH! Hah...hah...I cry for humanity every day.

Do you realize what's happening here? Unfortunately, Bush's administration's push for both war and religion will eventually combine. We'll have a nice little crusade on our hands (not that we don't already, I don't see why North Korea hasn't been shut down yet).

Let science be science, not politics. (3, Insightful)

ursabear (818651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649980)

If indeed the administration and the political glitterati wish to filter what (non-quack) scientists have to tell us, then I believe we are being done a disservice.

I (very strongly) feel that science should not be seen through the rose-colored glasses of contemporary ideological/religious beliefs. It wasn't too many years ago that excellent medical scientists were treated as village idiots because the scientists' beliefs were not in-line with ideology. Before that, if a scientist had suggested giving processed mold to people with infections, the scientist would have been burned at the stake in some rural village square.

It is incumbent on the individual to discern whether or not the results of clean, unbiased science has implications on beliefs and value systems. It is not the job of ideologues to decide on our behalf.

Stop it, (5, Insightful)

Fiachra06 (945611) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649983)

Don't NASA have enough to deal with. Any good scientist will tell you that science cannot disprove the existence of God or gods no matter what you discover. Even with the heretical writings of Galileo and Copernicus freely available to all ~90% of the worlds population still believe in a higher order of sprirtuality. There are many reasons to force NASA to do things differently. Religion or ideology should never, ever be those reasons. When will the hardcore religious faithful who try to influence these things realise that science poses no danger to their beliefs. Their actions only perpetuate a growing distaste for religious involvment among so many people worldwide.

Re:Stop it, (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650097)

NASA does have enough to deal with, but political and even religious involvement in scientific research is built into human history. Since early religious interpretation of the stars, used to predict when to plant and when to reap crops, they've been interwoven. When religious leaders make statements about their deity bringing famine to the ungodly, and some smart aleck points out that overgrazing by the local baron's goats have changed the watercourses that supply the farmers, religion and fincance and politics have been interwoven. Expecting them not to interact is like expecting light to be a wave: it looks that way in certain conditions, but if you examine it too closely it can surprise you.

Now, we can expect a group like NASA who get funded to do research and exploration to keep the science as rigorous and well-grounded as possible: when the politics gets in the way of that so blatantly and so deliberately aimed as to cause fraud, the politics should lose. But you can certainly expect the politicians to react to this by cutting funding where possible: that's part of the price of discovering an unpleasant truth.

paradox (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650212)

re:"When will the hardcore religious faithful who try to influence these things realise that science poses no danger to their beliefs. Their actions only perpetuate a growing distaste for religious involvment among so many people worldwide."

Unfortuanately, although you might expect such rational thought to enter into the equation - religion has never been rational, and the righteous never admit to making a mistake.

Which is sad really because if there was a mechanism - or one single thing - that would enable people to drop god and get on with business on planet earth, value the people that surround them, and realize that there's going to be a short time that they're going to exist - then I'd be very proactive in supporting efforts to disseminate "it" as widely and to as many as possible.

Balance the argument (5, Funny)

Half a dent (952274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14649998)

For the sake of journalistic balance can we please not refer to God but to "God theory" instead. Thank you.

Re:Balance the argument (5, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650068)

Its not even a theory since it is not falsifiable...
BTW I demand you spend equal time to the FSM, invisible pink elephants and every other devine creature some idiot might have thought of.

Re:Balance the argument (4, Insightful)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650201)

Its not even a theory since it is not falsifiable...

Only scientific theories and hypotheses need to be falsifiable. Nonscientific theories do not need to be falsifiable. Don't fall into the trap of equating scientific theory with nonscientific theory; they mean very different things.

Re:Balance the argument (4, Insightful)

robvs68 (560549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650127)

For the sake of journalism (and scientific) accuracy, can we please refer to "The Big Bang" as a theory and to the existence of God as a belief.

And by the way, the Big Bang has not been scientifically proven (hence "theory") and the existence of God has not been scientifically disproved.

Re:Balance the argument (1, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650255)

the Big Bang has not been scientifically proven (hence "theory")

No. This is now what theory means in scientific terms. A theory is a model based on observation, experimentation and reasoning.

There are other theories - such as the earth goes round the sun. That's a theory.

Re:Balance the argument (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650321)

+5 Funny? Are you kidding, this is the most insightful thing I've seen in weeks!

Not all religious people are like this (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650008)

For the record, not all religious people ignore empirical evidence. The Bush administration is NOT the thinking Christian's wet dream.

Re:Not all religious people are like this (3, Interesting)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650194)

I believe in the divine creation of the Universe, and I also believe in the big bang. The idea that such vast (approaching infinity) amount of matter could be produced from a single point of space/time to expand outwards at such a rate as to neither collapse back upon itself (too slow) nor stretch out into nothingness (too fast) but instead develop into planets, stars, comets, galaxies, nebulae, et al is nothing less than the definition of a miracle.

Re:Not all religious people are like this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650257)

The "thinking Christians" will be pilloried along with the rest of us. The extremists are running the White House now and they'll take care of anyone who gets in their way; even their own, more moderate kind.

Sounds like theocracy gone awry. (4, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650011)

This is the sort of nonsense that real conservatives should stand up against. I'm talking about the conservatives who share more in common with libertarians, rather than liberals. The sort of people who realize that a strong economy is built around knowledge, which is directly derived from science, regardless of religion. Then again, such people have been purged from the ranks of the Republican Party over the last while.

Re:Sounds like theocracy gone awry. (3, Informative)

MrFlibbs (945469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650116)

What's ironic about this is that when the Big Bang Theory first became popular, the biggest objections to it came not from religious conservatives, but from liberal scientists. The theory was (at least partially) consistent with the Genesis account of a creation event, and that was philosophically unacceptable. The Steady-State Theory was put forth to refute the notion that the universe has a beginning and to eliminate the possibility that God had anything to do with it.

Isn't it odd that the current generation of fundamentalists now oppose the Big Bang? Hopefuly in the midst of religious/philosophical biases both pro and con the facts will eventually win the day and theories will stand or fall based on the data. One can only hope.

Re:Sounds like theocracy gone awry. (2, Insightful)

RobinH (124750) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650235)

A conservative who shares more in common with libertarians is a libertarian, not a conservative. They should vote like one. If you are libertarian and vote conservative, you are voting for your social rights to be eroded, and you are voting for a theocracy. On the other hand, if you vote liberal then you're voting for your economic rights to be eroded, and the way that soccer moms have taken over the democratic party, you're also voting to erode your social rights, so either way you're screwed.

If you're a libertarian, then stand up for it. Don't call yourself a conservative if you know their policies are just as freedom-bashing as liberalism.

Thank You Republicans (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650055)

Thank you Republicans for making the USA suck just a little bit more.

A Little Over Blown (4, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650066)

After reading the NYT article, I think a lot of this was over blown. Basically the accusations boil down throwing the word theory after big bang, NASA press releases trying to tie absolutely everything to the presidential vision, and earth sciences taking a hit.

Throwing the word "theory" after big bang is technically the right treatment for the word. It is a theory. It is a pretty damn strong theory, but theory none the less.

As far as the PR office stuffing a reference to the presidential vision on space exploration in every single press release, while irritating, really isn't much of a crime in my opinion. Press releases are not scientific journals; they are the PR office at work. Part of the PR offices job is to drum up support for various initiatives. Claiming everything under the sun could help the study of other plants is probably technically correct. The NASA earth scientist are really just pissed that they got their work mentioned in the context that it could do something good for the presidential vision. NASA earth science and the rest of NASA have always had a problem with each other. I am not terribly surprised to see them feuding over the wording of press releases.

As far as earth sciences taking a hit and going under major restructuring, this shouldn't come as a surprise. The president pretty explicitly stated that NASA was to be realigned to focus on manned missions to space. Unsurprisingly, the means cuts in everything unrelated. Now, you might very well disagree with this, but it is certainly not secret sinister plot.

The only thing "scary" going on that the NYT article brought up is that they let some 24 year old idiot who clearly has no idea what he is doing into NASA's PR office. This "gem" shows pretty clearly that his head is deeply implanted up his ass.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."


Now yes, the big bang theory IS a theory and should e called as such. That said, it isn't called a theory for religious reasons. Further, this fucking moron seems to be under the delusion that the big bang theory is something that religious folks don't like. Most Christians absolutely LOVE the big bang theory as it upset the long held scientific belief that the universe was forever and stats that the universe has a beginning.

Honestly, I think the news story here is that an idiot 24 year old kid got appointed into a job way over his head and acted like a moron.

Re:A Little Over Blown (3, Informative)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650150)

Honestly, I think the news story here is that an idiot 24 year old kid got appointed into a job way over his head and acted like a moron.

This story's meaning just broke the sound barrier going over your head.

Did it ever occur to you that 24 year olds don't just get appointed to such jobs out of nowhere. He was posted for a reason. This is probably it.

Re:A Little Over Blown (4, Funny)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650264)

Wheee! This is awesome. A large powerful nation giving itself a lobotomy.

Pass the popcorn!

Re:A Little Over Blown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650304)

Who is this assclown? Who's paying for his salary? How do we get him fired? WHY DOES NASA NEED THE POSITION FILLED AT ALL?

Get rid of the guy and give the space he's using up to a grad student who can help do some REAL science, please.

Re:A Little Over Blown (2, Interesting)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650208)

Now yes, the big bang theory IS a theory and should e called as such. That said, it isn't called a theory for religious reasons. Further, this fucking moron seems to be under the delusion that the big bang theory is something that religious folks don't like. Most Christians absolutely LOVE the big bang theory as it upset the long held scientific belief that the universe was forever and stats that the universe has a beginning.

You have to remember that to these morons, a "theory" isn't a well-defined scientific term... it's code to their followers (who don't understand science) that implies "this is stuff the scientists made up."

Like anytime the theory of evolution is mentioned, you hear these idiots screaming "IT'S JUST A THEORY!!!"

Re:A Little Over Blown (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650303)

Like anytime the theory of evolution is mentioned, you hear these idiots screaming "IT'S JUST A THEORY!!!"

Yes, and unlike "creationism" it is a SCIENTIFIC THEORY. Creationism, or intelligent design, or whatever the Hell they want to call it these days is the scientific equivalent of ancient man seeing fire for the first time and screaming "Prometheus has given us a gift!"

NASA should deal with SCIENCE or just pack it up and go home (might be for the best, considering their track record in the last 30 years). Leave the sky-gods to the theologians.

-Eric

Re:A Little Over Blown (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650242)

When an appointee from a government known to be big on pushing religious viewpoints into science (from the morning after pill to high school biology), asks that the big bang be specially marked out because it's a religious issue (his words), you've got to suspect something's going on.

We all know the connotations that "theory" has with the general public when tacked onto a model of the world ("that's just a theory"). That'd be a little bit suspect. However the motivation he gives for the change makes it abundantly clear that the "presidential vision" he's promoting is a religious one.

Re:A Little Over Blown (1)

Myrano (952282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650289)

As has been said before, of course the Big Bang is a theory. The question is whether it should be called as such. Perhaps the first time it is mentioned in an article intended for the general public this is a good idea. To refer to it as the "Big Bang Theory" every single time it is mentioned is not only overkill, it is humiliating to the writers who are forced to do so. The issue is not whether it is a theory, but whether it is acceptable for a political appointee to require a scientific writer to say something--anything--whenever a "hot button issue" is mentioned.

Of course it is unacceptable. It is disgusting.

Re:A Little Over Blown (1)

scaryjohn (120394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650317)

After reading the NYT article, I think a lot of this was over blown. Basically the accusations boil down throwing the word theory after big bang, NASA press releases trying to tie absolutely everything to the presidential vision, and earth sciences taking a hit.

Right. Those are the things that happened. Those things are very bad when you consider that almost all money used in scientific research comes out of the government. Most of the rest is already allocated based on the answer the researcher proposes to provide, instead of the question.

Now, you and me can agree that the Big Bang is a theory, because we know what the word theory means: a causal explanation for why certain observed data are the way they are. Full stop. No... tentative, unproven, free-to-disbelieve.

You know when I learned that? The first day of... high school... enriched... physics class my junior year. A class not even ten percent of students take!

Until that's something we teach on the first day of first grade we're pretty much guaranteed to have a populace that can't effectively govern themselves about science policy. And now, we've got a scientifically illiterate president who makes a point of picking scientifically literate people to be his policy advisors and chief policy implementors.

Re:A Little Over Blown (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650370)

Here is a little more perspective. One moron does not mean there is a concerted effort by the White House to prove Intelligent Design. I work for NASA in atmospheric sciences, for the past 10 years it has been well known to get funding for a project, "You Need to Ty it to Climate Change and Global Warming". If your study doesn't have a climatological tie in, good luck getting funding. So the one the that screams the loudest "it's the end of the world as we know it", gets publicity and therefore usually, funding. Some of the statements made by supposedly bright scientists include the often heard.

"This is the warmest global temperature since 1700"

Well since they didn't have electronic instruments, satellite systems, Arctic & Antarctic measuring stations, a some what stable international picture and international cooperation among scientists globally, how accurate do you think the global temperature measurments were from WWI and before?

I'm not saying that man has or has not negatively affected his environment and global temperatures, my bet is we have. But making unsubstantiated statements and bold claims not supported by good science can lead people to doubt anything you say or do. Look at the cloning issue in Korea, Scientists do have their own politcal agendas. Want to know what was the most visited sites by our network in 2005 besides Google? MoveOn.org & the Drudge Report.

I'm very happy (5, Funny)

ochnap2 (657287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650067)

Being non-USian I'm very happy with this kind of things, because it means the start of the decline of USA in science and technology. A few years of this and the table will a little more leveled...

Cheers!
Och

(Sarcastic mood. Sorry)

Re:I'm very happy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650188)

What do you mean "start of the decline of USA in science and technology"? We are already far behind. Being a "USian" as you put it, I find our current position horribly embarrassing.

Re:I'm very happy (2, Funny)

ochnap2 (657287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650225)

Why troll? I mean: it's a *sarcastic* comment... that being: tries to get some kind of twisted humor out of the potential bad outcomes of this kind of policies.

Saying I was happy was the hook, but I supposed you would understand that I meant exactly the opposite. Fanatism is bad anywhere.

Cheers!
Och

Re:I'm very happy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650313)

I'm also quite pleased, it means "Operation American Freedom" can begin sooner than expected. With assistance from our Australian allies, they'll be sipping tea and watching Eastenders before the decade's out. _>

ooooh Big Brother - again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650095)

I think anything written in the NYT should be looked at very skeptically, all things considered. Liberal or not, their track record on telling the truth is not good.

Woohoo! Science vs Religion wars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650112)

I see our weekly dose of science vs religion wars has got an early start this week. I don't know how I ever got by without this load of flotsam in the past.

BIG BANG is wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650115)

The reason the "big bang" wont be taught in school is because it has major flaws. They say that the light thats just now reaching us from the furthest stars, is from back when the universe was created. RIGHT!! Ok then, Tell me that if it all began at the same point, how did earth and the sun and all the others get to where they are now? how long did that take surely we were not flying from the creation point faster then light.. even if we did, it still would have taken us time to fly here, thus the light that we are seeing from the stars could not possibly be from the creation of the universe...

Time Dialation (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650179)

how long did that take surely we were not flying from the creation point faster then light.. even if we did, it still would have taken us time to fly here, thus the light that we are seeing from the stars could not possibly be from the creation of the universe...

Nice try. You forgot about time dilation. Those far away stars and galaxies are flying away from us at such a high speed that relative to us, they are expieriencing time dialation.

Thus while 13 billion years have passed in our own time frame, only a fraction of that will have passed in a galaxy that is travelling fast enough relative to use.

Of course, according to that galaxy, 13 billion years have passed for them, and only a fraction of that for use. If you can't wrap your head around this, you can either read books to educate yourself, or just pray and continue to wallow in your own ignorence.

Re:Time Dilation (2, Insightful)

danaris (525051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650362)

Of course, according to that galaxy, 13 billion years have passed for them, and only a fraction of that for use. If you can't wrap your head around this, you can either read books to educate yourself, or just pray and continue to wallow in your own ignorence.

Well, to be fair, time dilation (note spelling) is one of the more difficult concepts to wrap one's head around in modern physics...

My father is a physicist, and I considered becoming one (became a computer geek instead), and I still have trouble with it.

I mean, the guy's not too bright, but claiming that anyone who can't wrap their head around time dilation should just give up and never try to think again would eliminate about 99.8% of the population of the world. It would be like writing off everyone who can't write a Slashdot post with perfect spelling and grammar...

Dan Aris

Big Bang "Theory" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650131)

Wow, getting your panties all bunched up over something that responsible scientists have always espoused: the Big Bang is indeed a "theory," as is Evolution. There is more "evidence" of of these theories than "intelligent design" but nevertheless, they all are THEORIES. As are most certainly the causes of global warming and climate change.

Dictionary.com for theory:" "An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture." (You can look up "conjecture" for yourself.)

I'd be much more interested though if NASA officials finally came out and admitted that most everything they do results in a great big NOTHING; whether it be data or evidence or success in finding anything "out there." Or really any knowledge of value to the human race.

What's that giant sucking sound? Another $30 billion down the drain.

I'm a coward, cus I don't want the eggheads to stone me for blasphemy.

Re:Big Bang "Theory" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650328)

Scientific theory and colloquial "theory" are not the same thing.

Of course, anybody who goes to the dictionary to prove something has no argument whatsoever.

Re:Big Bang "Theory" (0)

Sean Hederman (870482) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650329)

Wow, that's really intellectually dishonest, quote one of six definitions listed. How about the first listed definition?
A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
Good cherry-picking of quotes there.

Two sides to every issue (2, Interesting)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650145)

"It is not the job of public-affairs officers," Dr. Griffin wrote in an e-mail message to the agency's 19,000 employees, "to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff."

I know the group-think is that Mr. Deutch is out of line, a right-wing religious political hack. And that's accurate, I think.

On the other hand, "The Big Bang is a theory, like relativity. It's there because it explains something in a workable way, until someone comes along with something better. That needs to be noted in NASA's work if we want to be credible." Deutch should have said that, but he didn't. Anyone attending a scientific conference knows that the Big Bang is a theory.

The real trouble isn't trying to balance NASA's coverage of the origins of the universe, but editing the individual works of other people. It's one thing to edit a web site, but it's over the line when you start editing conference presentations.

Re:Two sides to every issue (5, Insightful)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650394)

We cannot ignore that the word "theory" is widely misunderstood outside the scientific community, where it means something closer to "wild guess" or "stab in the dark" than a rigourous, well-tested hypothesis that is almost certainly correct, or close to correct.

This yahoo's attempt to insert "theory" after "Big Bang" in press releases is not out of want for scientific rigor; it is the point of a very disturbing wedge, one whose ultimate goal is a society in which everything is subservient to theology, even the physical sciences. We are sliding down the slippery slope, toward Sagan's Demon-Haunted Land.

Overkill (1)

neuromancer2701 (875843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650169)

I am not trying to a troll but I think that this guys is a bit over reacting. The kid did something stupid in actually explaing why he requested the web design to change the site. No matter what this kids motives are or who he works for, it is still true. Placing the word "Theory" in the Website is not going to lead to the mass corruption of the nations youth. The more kids that getting into science the better. I come from a religous background and I love science. I am an electrical engineer and my zeal to understand technology and science that relates to it is just as much as the next person. To say that if someone does not believe in Evolution, stem cell research or global warming [wikipedia.org] has nothing to give to science is ridiculous. Many religous sciences and engineers have great determination and zeal because science explains characteristics about the "god" that created the world. And many of the great scientists in history were religous people.

Re:Overkill (4, Insightful)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650331)

The problem with religio-political meddling is not the word, "theory." I mean, both evolution and big bang are scientific theories, right alongside the theory of gravity, Newton's theories of the movement of bodies (which have proven so good they are considered scientific "laws," even with their obvious flaws *cough* quantum uncertainty and general relativity *cough*), and the three theories of thermodynamics (also considered laws).

The problem is that the current administration has taken a perfectly good word ("theory") and corrupted it to mean something entirely different. That's a political trick they are quite good at; consider how they have corrupted other perfectly good words to mean something bad, like "liberal" and "fiscal responsibility."

They have redefined "theory" to include things that are *not* scientific, like intelligent design, and the "theory" of the Liberal Global Warming Hoax Conspiracy. By selectively changing the definitions of words, they can couch the debate in a way more favorable to their political ends. In this case, it is a complete discrediting of science as a method of obtaining Truth, when in fact only the Bible has the ability to give us Truth.

Instead of the enlightened viewpoint you express, most of these people are not interested in using science to discover the face of God. Most of them realize if they do that, the world will not be 8,972 years old like they think; the rapture will most likely not happen in our lifetimes; and worse, the difference between good and evil is not so clear-cut as the difference between Us and Them. Oh, and maybe the US isn't God's Chosen Ones. Maybe the whole world is God's Chosen Ones.

And where will that leave them?

These idiots need to be shot on sight (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650227)

These political goons are screwing this country over for years to come with every action they take to impede scientific progress. What's worse, these people don't appear to know the first thing about science. Apparently, it doesn't take much to get into NASA these days. From the article:

"Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang. The Big Bang is 'not proven fact; it is opinion,' Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, 'It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.'"

If the Big Bang is merely an opinion, then the last ~100 years of scientific progress have been for naught. Thank you, Mr. Douche, for setting a great example for the children of tomorrow.

Bush should be smarter than this (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650229)

My opinion is that people in the US should bite more to defend their freedoms there. I mean, I know about a statistic that says about only half the voting population actually votes? Distressing...

I know it's not the /. folks that are going to turn the thing around, as most people here can and do think for themselves. But maybe some more action could do some good. Like convincing others to vote too, and not just "vote for the suit that seemed to have won the debate".

Try to figure out what they're about. I know it's hard, it's their _job_ to lie and steal, but it has to be done.

When the racket coming out of a democracy starts getting to the noise level of Cuba or China, and their presidents hollers out stuff like "they hate the america! they hate freedom! they hate newborn babies!" and people buy it, well.... just let the downmods come. :)

Nah, this is great. (1, Funny)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650246)

I support the Bush Administration's care and attention to detail in this matter. George W. Bush has shown unusual insight and respect of the scientific process. I did not think we'd see a president so careful of these proprieties he'd actually refer to the "theory of God" or "Jesus-theory" in his speeches, but it seems in this man we have--- what?

Oh. Well, that's just not gonna work, now is it?

Politics + Science = Evil (3, Insightful)

AngryNick (891056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650280)

Time and time again, history has shown that mixing science with politics or religion (which is often politics cloaked in a form of "righteousness") always results in pure evil.

Because societies hold those in the sciences with great regard, it only makes sense that politicians and governments in need of substantiation cling to them. Scientist, in turn, are often willing participants in the symbiotic relationship, feeding off the money and influence that flow from the bosom of the rich and powerful. This isn't limited to politics; it happens in pharmaceuticals, educational institutions, the food industry, and nearly every other human endeavor that requires smart people to prove something right or wrong and announce their findings.

It is difficult to consider any science independent if its existence is funded by purveyors of mind control, greed, or world domination. I wish there were a way for science to be funded without the overarching control of the funding organization, but we all know that's just not going to happen. Therefore, we must challenge every conclusion by looking at it from different perspectives and "funding models", be it other governments, democrat/republican funding, different religions, etc.

I consider myself religious and somewhat political, but I will never ask my preacher what I should blindly think about evolution or fully embrace un-reviewed science from a government entity.

"Theory"... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650302)

"In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang."

So, did he say the same thing about the theory of gravity or theory of relativity?

NASA needs a new motto (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650336)

Can I suggest "eppur si muove?"

The really funny thing is that in recent years the Roman Catholic Church suddenly seems to have realised that they should be proud of Galileo. How long before a movement starts to canonise Geordano Bruno?

Dropping out of science (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650354)

All I ever wanted to do when I was growing up was to be a scientist and to make a positive contribution to mankind's knowledge and to society at large. In many ways, I was a success in pursuing these goals. I spent eight years working at a major national laboratory while I pursued my Ph.D. I went on to become a professor at a major university. I published papers and I released free software---some of which was even used in the field of astronomy. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching. I even had NSF funding for my work.

However, all of that changed with the selection of the Bush regime. First and foremost, I simply couldn't believe that my fellow citizens would elect someone like this (hell, even Reagan looks moderate by comparison). Rational thinking certainly suffered a huge blow with that one. Since then, all I have seen is an administration increasingly under the influence of intolerant Christian fanatics and frankly, I'm not even sure if it's limited to just the administration. Everywhere I look, I see people turning to religion and superstitition. If it isn't evangeligal Christianity, then it's a bunch of new-age hocus pocus and astrology. Even in my own family, I have become an outcast as other members of the family have turned to various forms of religion. The fact that the administration is trying to manipulate scientific results is only icing on the cake---and not at all surprising. One thing is certain though---science is under attack everywhere I look.

Sadly, all of this has really made me re-evaluate why I went into science in the first place. I will always love science, but what actual incentive is there for doing it anymore? The administration attacks it and my fellow citizens would rather build churches than support it. At some point, you just reach a point where you have to ask yourself "why am I working so hard to help these people and *this* society?"

In my case, I didn't have an answer. I often thought of ways I could voice a dissenting opinion. Do I protest? Do I write articles? Do I send money? Do I sell out? Do I stay and fight? If I take a stand, will anyone be listening? Or will they just continue shouting at each other? In my case, I quietly withdrew into myself. I stopped publishing and I stopped caring about everything I had worked so hard to achieve. In the end, I could not reconcile my desire to help mankind with my unwillingness to help a society largely populated by hostile religious fanatics. Thus, I simply left my academic position and dropped out of science altogether. To hell with it, "the people are going to get what they deserve in the end" I thought.

Today, I'm still interested in science, but it's mostly just a private affair--I keep it to myself and underground. Mostly, I'm waiting to see what happens with the next few years. Maybe the pendulum will swing back to the left and we'll return to some level of sanity. If that happens, I might consider re-entering public service. If things keep going as they are though, I'll probably just pack it up and leave altogether. It was fun while it lasted---I guess.

I suppose that many will say that "dropping out" is not a solution. I would largely agree with that, but I'd also add that I think everyone has a breaking point. I certainly reached mine and did what I felt I had to do to maintain my sanity. On the other hand, maybe this is how the administration really intends to kill science. I just don't know.

About the "theory" thing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14650374)

Let's all agree: everything is a theory. Thus, you will be speaking about "the secession war theory", (has anybody alive seen it happen? Where are the proofs? those uniforms can be faked, come on! Slaves were happy, they were praying god! Only left-wing nuts taught us tales of nasty slavery, to destroy our nation), the "gravity theory" (has anybody seen a "force"? sounds evil), the "round earth theory" and so on

Really? (2, Funny)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14650404)

So...religious fundamentalists ignore science again and try to use their political clout to silence views opposed to theirs? This has been fairly obvious for a great deal of time... Remember that whole Scopes Monkey Trial thing? Want to go back further, I seem to remember some fairly important intellectuals getting executed for saying that Earth WASN'T the center of the universe! How is this news? What is this, Slashdot?
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