The Scientific Activist (Archives)


Feb 4, 2006

A Boehner for Science? Think Again

Based on the response to President Bush’s State of the Union Address last Tuesday, you would think that the Republican Party invented science. Some things don’t change so quickly, and the GOP’s adversarial attitude toward science seems to be one of them.

Two days later, Republicans in Congress selected John Boehner (sadly, not pronounced “boner”) to replace the infamous Tom DeLay as the new House Majority Leader. Despite all of the talk about a “change of direction” for the Republican Party, Boehner’s selection is a step back in terms of science policy, due to his support for teaching intelligent design in science classrooms. Evolutionblog has the details of the story, with additional commentary found at The Intersection.

In 2002, as Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Boehner sent a letter to the Ohio State Board of Education to pressure it to teach alternatives to evolution in its classrooms. Support for teaching non-science in science classrooms indicates a strong anti-science agenda, and this should cast a shadow over Bush’s new public relations campaign to paint him and the Republicans as great science advocates. Sadly, there has been absolutely no coverage of this story in the mainstream media. Even the anti-evolution Discovery Institute thinks that this is a big deal, noting on its Evolution News & Views website that “It's good to see him in the new, more powerful role.”

That alone should raise a red flag.


  • Frankly, I could never find any convincing reason to associate Republicans with scientific advancement anyhow. With Bush's apparent malice toward federally protected wildlife and habitats, stem cell research, emissions reductions,and NASA in general, it's no small wonder that other countries surpass ours in math and science.

    By Anonymous Pierre, at Mon Feb 06, 09:34:00 PM  

  • The odd thing about the debate on evolution vs faith-based ideas about creation is that they almost always are couched in language that suggests that the debate is on the *merits.* It's not, really. The debate is about where it is appropriate to impart information about things known by faith. When put in those terms, it's quite obvious that this isn't an appropriate subject matter for teaching in public schools. The question is actually an interesting one in epistomology--how do you know there's an intelligent designer? By faith, and once known, much evidence flows to support this, proponents can honestly say. How do you know that evolution explains life on earth? Objective information supports it, regardless of anyone's belief in it, proponents can say. There's plenty to talk about in both subjects, but they aren't the same subject, or competing subjects, or even remotely similar ways of knowing. The whole debate is clearly illogical if looked at from this perspective.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 09, 06:47:00 AM  

  • Actually, Boehner is pronounced "boner." The last name is of German origin. The oe is another way of spelling O with an umlaut and you pronounce that "boner." He probably changed the pronunciation because people called him a boner.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 09, 03:36:00 PM  

  • No: of course o-Umlaut is pronounced like "eu" in the French word "feu" - there's nothing exactly like it in English.

    For the penultimate commenter: the problem is not how intelligent design or any other article of faith is known; the problem is how anything is known. Perceiving that agreed facts are explained by a model is not the same as knowing what that model states. Any model can be shot down by a better model. The sad thing in these debates is that they are often described (especially by fundamentalists, who have an interest in keeping it simple, stupid) as having two sides, Christianity vs current science, while really there are potentially infinite sides. IMO the two-sided account favours fundamentalism simply by encouraging a narrowing of viewpoints. Also it implies that "science" is a closed, immutable dogma - "implies", what am I saying? the point is often made explicitly by those people.

    By Anonymous Axel, at Sat Feb 11, 10:42:00 PM  

  • Does anyone realize that there are dozens of other creation theories??? If intelligent design followers were truly wanting to be fair they'd push for all of the creation theories to be "taught" in school. Here's an article I wrote, that has some examples of creation theories:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Feb 15, 07:22:00 PM  

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