Re: Grand Canyon Tears America Apart

From: John W Burgeson <>
Date: Tue Jan 20 2004 - 13:49:09 EST

Keith, in agreeing with George contra my argument, makes additional
remarks which deserve attention.

"I would add that the government, from the national to the local level,
must make policy decisions that rely on consensus scientific
conclusions. "

I think that is a fairly obvious place of agreement.

"Furthermore, as scientists there are some fundamental assumptions that
underlie our work: 1) there is an objective natural reality out there,
2) that the methodology of the scientific enterprise enables us to
learn about the dynamics and history of that natural reality, and 3)
that, while held provisionally, our understanding of the dynamics and
history of natural reality continues to improve with further study."

I might word #2 differently, per Polkinghorne's "verisimilitude," but
otherwise no disagreement.
"Through scientific investigation we are able to identify certain
understandings as currently vastly superior to others. I would argue
that it is incumbent upon government to set its policy on the best
current scientific conclusions, and to make those conclusions the focus
of publicly-funded education. This is not censorship - individuals and
groups are always free to hold and promote any position regardless of
its validity. But they should not expect the government to assist them
in that effort."

Nothing to debate here.

"To give all ideas equal public standing is to essentially accept a
relativistic view of truth."

Again, no disagreement. I do not call for "equal public standing." I do
call for a stop to marginalization by essentially removal of all
discussion. Read FRACTURE.

" But science is hardnosed in believing that there really is objective
reality that can be known,"

I disagree -- the concept is verisimilitude. We can, at best, only
approach objective reality.

" and that some ideas about that reality simply are false. "

Of course.

" I do not want the government to be supporting the dissemination of
material that I know to be factually false."

Taken to the extreme, this would say you do not want any school teacher
telling their pupils about the now discredited phlogiston theory. I don't
think you mean this. Rather, I would expect them to explain that theory,
and point out where it failed. As well, they ought to explain the flat
earth and 600 year old earth theories, and point out their shortcomings.

It is "full disclosure" I argue for, not "equal time."


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Received on Tue Jan 20 14:54:43 2004

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