February 8, 2006

Developments in FSM Cosmology

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at February 8, 2006 1:59 PM

I meant to blog this story over the weekend, but was distracted by, um, football. Anyway: here's a pretty good illustration of why I said last week that the Bush administration should just stay away from science.

So George Deutsch, an asshat Bush appointee (is that redundant?) to the public affairs office at NASA, took it upon himself to make sure that everything coming out of the agency was, well... "politically correct" would be a good term for it if it didn't have other connotations. This included trying to stop NASA's top climate scientist from speaking about global warming, and insisting that the Big Bang be referred to as "the Big Bang theory", because, like evolution, it's "just a theory". (I am pretty much the last science blogger to comment on this.)

What happened next was sort of hilarious: a blogger discovered that Deutsch lied on his resume, claiming to have graduated from Texas A&M when in fact he never received a degree. This has resulted in Deutsch's subsequent resignation, which would be heartening if this administration weren't so good at finding even worse people to replace the ones who leave.

And this would be why I'm suspicious of Bush's increased funding for physical science. How much of it is going to guys like Deutsch, or projects of which they would approve? (Is there a cosmological equivalent of Intelligent Design? Maybe The Onion's Intelligent Falling.) As has been pointed out by others, this administration just doesn't do policy. Everything is politics to them.

UPDATE: I see we have nothing to worry about, now that Duke Cunningham's seat on the House subcommittee responsible for NASA's budget has been filled by... Tom DeLay.

Tags: Bush Administration, Politics, Science, Space

Often, as a kid, I would wonder about "intelligent gravity."

"You know, if gravity was smarter, it could figure out that it could move this ball I'm holding in my hand a little to the side first, and then it could make it fall. We're lucky gravity is dumb, because otherwise everything would be falling down all over the place, and things would be a complete mess!"

Posted by: Lemming | February 8, 2006 2:14 PM

There are a few crackpot astronomers out there. One of the scienceblogs sites (Dispatches, IIRC) noted that there's at least one guy who still rejects the heliocentric solar system. And I know there are a few folks who support painfully contorted rationalizations that all redshifts are in fact gravitational rather than cosmological. Still, I doubt any of these would be especially attractive funding targets for the fundies. I'd think the Big Bang would be fairly well-liked by religious types, as it provides such a convenient place to put their god... Maybe it's the young earth crowd behind the "just a theory" crap?

The bigger danger to American astronomy is likely to be the Mars boondoggle W floated a few years ago. Give the usual amount of funding, but earmark more of it for manned spaceflight, and you get really bad news for science. Fortunately Mars was probably one of the many sound bites with no actual meaning behind it, like the SOTU mideast oil thing, and very likely the science funding increase as well.

Posted by: Justin | February 8, 2006 3:04 PM

Justin: I wondered about that--given that some creationists like Hugh Ross tend to cite the Big Bang as being proof of God's existence, who exactly Deutsch was pandering to. Maybe it was incompetent pandering. (These Bush cronies are bad at everything!)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | February 8, 2006 3:38 PM

Next they will divert fund to astology

Posted by: shellock | February 8, 2006 3:43 PM

In re the Mars thing: in fact, NASA has been forced to cut other programs to pursue that mission--many of the people I know at NASA-Ames in Origin of Life/Astrobiology are scrambling to re-organize their research so it is applicable to Mars or the Moon--I hear it's a similar story at other NASA facilities.

Posted by: Wren | February 8, 2006 4:50 PM

Shellock - I suppose that's entirely possible, since it was established at the Dover trial that astrology and ID have equal scientific validity. Some might take the wrong lesson from that statement... In fact, as I recall the NYTimes did a "science" article on how one of the large Kuiper Belt Objects (I forget if it was Xena, Santa, Easterbunny, or Buffy the Theory Slayer) should affect horoscopes.

Sad to hear that the Mars thing is still on NASA's agenda. I'd really hoped that it had gone away. :(

Posted by: Justin | February 8, 2006 5:41 PM

Hmmm... the people behind the "Big Bang Theory" might just be resurrecting the witch hunt against Clinton.

Posted by: Mason | February 8, 2006 9:26 PM

Just now found the website of the guy who's gonna replace Deutsch, via Pharyngula. http://www.fixedearth.com/

Posted by: JSpur | February 10, 2006 1:41 PM
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