David Sanders, one of the Democratic candidates seeking to unseat Steve Buyer in Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District has upgraded his website. In a prior post, I believe I was mildly critical of the content at the old site. I give the new site a thumbs-up: a nice clean layout with plenty of information. Seems to have all of the essentials without being oppressively busy.
Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District includes some or all of Boone, Clinton, Fountain, Hendricks, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Tippecanoe, and White Counties.
Definitely worth checking out if you’re from one of those counties or just think Rep. Buyer has been in D.C. long enough.
Of particular interest to me is Dr. Sanders’ scientific background. He is an associate professor of biology at Purdue. While he makes no specific statement to this effect on his website, I believe he could be trusted to resist what Chris Mooney has characterized as the Republican War on Science. You have Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, claiming that, scientific consensus on the matter notwithstanding, global warming is a “hoax perpetrated on the American people.” You have the Bush administration tampering with reports on climate change, suppressing science within the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife, and radically misrepresenting the research potential of existing stem cell lines.
Mooney’s book argues:
[D]isregard for scientists and the scientific method has grown and ripened with the modern conservative movement. From Barry Goldwater’s anti-intellectualism, through Ronald Reaganâ€™s sympathy for creationism and Newt Gingrich’s passion for science “skeptics,” on through the present day, Republicans have shown a marked preference for politically inspired fringe theories over the findings of long-established and world-renowned scientific bodies.
The problem, I think, is that, as President Reagan said, “facts are stupid things,” and the scientific method reveals facts. To the dismay of tobacco companies, cigarettes cause cancer. To the dismay of oil and car companies, burning fossil fuels causes global warming. To the dismay of Christians who believe the Bible is to be read literally, evolution contradicts the creation story in Genesis.
The solution has been to kill the messenger. Because the scientific method reveals all of these inconvenient truths, inconvenienced politicians have sought to undermine the authority of science as a tool in helping us understand how things work. But, when they do this, I think they do more than poison science. I think they diminish the value we place on rationality and the principles of the Enlightenment generally and, therefore, diminishes our democratic traditions.
Central to the Enlightenment tradition is the idea that there is objective truth, independent of the observer. The Wikipedia entry puts it this way:
The Enlightenment began then, from the belief in a rational, orderly and comprehensible universeâ€”then proceeded, in stages, to form a rational and orderly organization of knowledge and the state, such as what is found in the idea of Deism. This began from the assertion that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law invested the king with his power, rather than the king’s power giving force to law. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental right of man, given by “Nature and Nature’s God,” which, in the ideal state, would encompass as many people as possible. Thus The Enlightenment extolled the ideals of liberty, property and rationality which are still recognizable as the basis for most political philosophies even in the present era; that is, of a free individual being mostly free within the dominion of the state whose role is to provide stability to those natural laws.
This has been something of a disjointed digression, but suffice it to say that I believe the same things that weaken the value we place on science also weaken the value we place on democracy and liberty. Dr. Sanders is a scientist and, as such, it would be my hope that he would help to combat the forces that wish to weaken our respect for science and the scientific method.
ironically, I just read an AP or Reuters story about the new big push coming from the Bush administration to hold teachers accountable for America’s students falling behind the rest of the world in science.
I would laugh, but it would make me cry.
William Larsen says
Hold teachers accountable under federal regulations? This is all the more reason to end the department of education. First they take a local schools tax money (our federal income taxes). Then our representatives pass regulations that are not effective or conducive to our schools. Then they dole our tax money back to us, minus their cost, all the while telling us how hard they fought to get funding for the program they created.
If you are going to hold a teacher accountable, then you have to let them teach the way they need to teach, not the way some administrator or representative 1,000 miles away says it should be. It is irresponsible for a teacher to be held accountable for having to implement a poor plan developed by someone else.
It’s important to point out also that the concept that fundamentalists often confuse is ‘One Nation Under God’ as reading’ One Nation under Christianity’ Our motto is not so much a religious statement as it is a humanist statement that each man finds his own God( or chooses not to)
The whole idea of our Constitution was to give man freedom OF religion at the same time as he was freed FROM religion,and to set up a secular process of elected representative government. Is this no longer taught in schools? Nothing usurps religion freedom faster than religion and the worst battles are usuually intramural.Religion is man-made and can be as corrupt and self-interested or as sublime as whoever is in charge,same as government.
I would feel comfortable if David Sanders were elected as my Congressman.This is the district I would live in in Indiana.Thanks so much to this blog!(but he hasnt been elected yet)
Probably a digression, but I thought “One Nation Under God” was adopted in the 50s so we could stick it to the Godless Communists. Here we go, it was added to the Pledge in 1954.
Meanwhile, In God We Trust was adopted as the national motto in 1956. Prior to that, it was a phrase put on currency on the authority of the Mint Director, originally with the approval of Lincoln’s political rival and Secretary of State, Salmon P. Chase in 1864.
No ,itsnot a digression and I think unclear references should always be challenged.I did research and here is is what my thinking was.
In the preamble to the Constitutionitstates
we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,andthat they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights… I think ‘the creator clause iswhat prompted ‘one nationunder God’and Ive heard many times fundamentalists say that the Constitionis a religious document drafted by Christians.
Im sorry I cannot explainfurther. I cannot correct a typo without erasing the following letter…result is run on words. dont know what is wrong…
THe French philosophes,who were humanists,and maintained man can figure out his own moral values and doesnt need the church,but they often believed God created the Universe and Mankind and then stepped aside . Many fundamentalists mislead us,or are mislead, I think, in saying then that the rights of Man are religious,because God inspired them by making Mankind his tool. It’s important because The Rights of Man greatly influenced the American Revolution and later the French Revolution.And today, in my opinion, religion has been greatly humanized ( secularized)precisley because of the Rights of MAN and is protected by our magnificent Constitution.We dont want to go back and start over with the Bible open next to our Constitution to see now what our founders REALLY wanted.The Middle Age view of God/religion /man should stay behind us and in history.