Why should anybody care what Palin thinks about creationism?

There’s been a lot of interest today in GOP VP pick Palin’s support for teaching creationism in science classes. (The blog posts and a Washington Post article all seem to be repeating the information from the sources linked from my earlier post on this.)

But it seems to me that what’s important about this is being missed.

Although I’m not a big fan of Chester Finn’s Fordham Institute, I think one of their guys has it right on this one:

According to Fordham Institute science education expert Lawrence Lerner, Palin’s nomination is less worrisome in terms of education than the broad relationship of science and government.

“In the direct sense, vice presidents don’t have much to do with what goes on in classrooms. But a person who’s a creationist doesn’t understand science and technology at all,” said Lerner. “It doesn’t bode well for science, and doesn’t bode well for interaction between science and government.”

Source: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/mccains-vp-want.html

Come to think of it, Vice Presidents have been key players in the federal government’s involvement with science and technology. LBJ (as JFK’s VP) was charged with the space program (which is why NASA is in Houston now). And Gore was famously (and truly) involved with Internet communications, as well as environmental concerns.

Agnew? Quail? Cheney? — “Houston, we have a pattern.”

One Comment

  1. Kevin Currie
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    A similar point was made a few years ago in Chris Mooney’s “Republican War Against Science” where he sees quite a few of the Bush administration’s mishandling of issues relating to science as quite interconnected by their lack of enthusiasm for and understanding of science as an enterprise.

    On the whole, of course, politicians generally don’t understand science too well, as the two spheres are quite different. Politics is governed by democracy and majority opinion. Science is governed in a very non-democratic way. Politics relies on rhetoric to appeal both to voters and to fellow politicians. Science need not rely on rhetoric for anything but increasing public understanding.

    I really don’t trust politicians with issues of science.


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  1. […] Palin’s science ignorance An earlier post here addressed the question, “Why should anybody care what Palin thinks about creationism?” That post quotes Fordham Institute science education specialist Lawrence Lerner: In the […]

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