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Defend Science Commentary
On the Relation Between the Defend Science Statement and the UCS "Restoring Scientific Integrity" statement
An important question which is sometimes raised is why we are doing
the Defend Science Statement and how we view the (UCS) "Restoring
Scientific Integrity" Statement. Here we want to address this
more fully, and also explain how we see our efforts as complementary
and mutually reinforcing.
We face a very serious situation with the extremely serious (and
continuing) assaults on the scientific process which have reached
unprecedented levels with the Bush administration. The RSI Statement
has played a very important role in crystallizing and bringing
the attacks to public attention (this is why we reference it in the
Defend Science Statement) and it continues to be a kind of
benchmark in public debate about these questions.
The Defend Science Statement is intended as an urgent call by
scientists directly to the people to join with scientists in this
battle. Our statement brings out that in addition to the assault
on the integrity of the scientific process to serve political ends,
there is the ideological agenda put forward by powerful Christian
fundamentalist forces; that these two things have become allied and
intertwined in an unprecedented way. While making explicitly
clear that this is not about science trying to destroy religion, our
statement says that it is about opposing both a political agenda and a
particular biblical literalist ideology that seeks to undermine and
destroy the scientific method and process. The Defend Science statement
brings out that, running through and underscoring the many particular
outrages in different spheres and policy areas, what is centrally and
crucially involved is a battle over scientific thinking and method, and
whether that is going to be upheld, applied, and broadly
popularized. Or whether - in the realm of science itself -
scientific method is going to replaced by an antagonistically opposed
method. This is especially manifest in attempts by many of those
pushing for Intelligent Design in science classrooms to smuggle theism
into science itself, and even change the very definition of science as
with the Kansas State Board of Education opening the door to
non-natural causes in science. (It seems that the anti-evolution forces
have lost control of the Kansas State School board and that their
re-defining of science will be reversed. But the attempt that the
current board made to redefine science reveals the underlying agenda of
the ID forces, and the seriousness of the battle to defend science and
Science matters a great deal. It is critical that scientific
integrity be restored in policy making and that scientists be allowed
to pursue research without its findings being blocked or ruled out of
order. But in addition, the epistemological attack needs to be
taken on. There is an unrelenting assault on people's access to
scientific knowledge, to the scientific method and approach to knowing
about the world, to the scientific spirit. The "Defend Science"
statement aims, too, at giving voice and expression to the desire many
people have to understand how and why things in nature are the way they
are, and to people's hunger to learn what science continues to
uncover. (You can see by looking at our list of signatories so
far that our statement and its emphasis on this point has struck a
chord among many scientists.)
There have already been really critical efforts of many many people
(including the RSI Statement, the battle around the teaching of
evolution, the recent victory in the Dover trial, and again in Kansas,
to name just a few) to respond to the attacks. We are convinced
that our statement, centering on defending scientific thinking, is a
critical contribution. This is why we want to publish our
statement in newspaper ads, and also find every other avenue we can to
reach the public broadly to focus on the heart of the matter, the
assault on scientific thinking and method, and to sound the alarm as
broadly as we can in society and rally people to defend science.
We strongly feel that these aims are complementary to, while not
duplicating, the RSI statement. From our point of view, the more
that the RSI statement is out there and influences public debate, the
better, and we will continue to promote and popularize it.
We welcome more
us your comments.
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You can sign the Statement on this
website. Just click here to add your name to
the growing list.
Join in the battle to defend
Scientists and Members of the Scientific Community:
• Sign and Circulate This Statement.
• Help Raise Funds to Have it Printed in Newspapers Across the Country,
• Get This Statement Adopted by Scientific, Educational and Other
Associations and Institutions.
Members of the General Public:
• Reprint and Circulate This
Statement, Help Spread the Word, Contribute Your Ideas About How to
Wage This Crucial Battle & Join With People in the Scientific
Community and Others to Wage This Battle.
• Help raise funds to print the Statement in as many newspapers and
journals as possible, in the U.S. and internationally.