the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

August 23, 2006

No Grants for You, Evolutionary Biologists!


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that evolutionary biology is mysteriously missing from the list of subjects the US Department of Education will provide “Smart Grants” for study in. Political Animal, the Carpetbagger Report, Shakespeare’s Sister, Hit and Run, and dozens of other blogs have mentioned the story, but so far none that I’ve seen has included a graphic like this (derived from the original PDF), which shows exactly how blatant the omission is:


July 17, 2005

Creationism, Science, and Doublethink


This weekend, I finished 1984 (mentioned in my previous post). I also caught up on reading Slacktivist. I go there most weekends to read Fred Clark’s obsessive but entertaining and often enlightening series of posts on Left Behind, which are now a weekly phenomenon, and to see what else he’s got to say as a member of the religious left (and what his commenters have to add).

This time Fred had four posts about creationism (one, two, three, four), starting with one about his middle-school science teacher, Mr. Caruthers. Like many of Fred’s posts, it includes a reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It also includes this passage about Mr Caruthers’ ability to believe in young-earth creationism and science simultaneously:

At root, there’s a deliriously strange, pot-think aspect to this view. It suggests a radical, unbridgeable, gap between perception and reality. But Mr. C. wasn’t worried about such philosophical matters. And so, even as he taught us that the world was not as it appears to be, he also taught us the science of the world we can see. As long as you don’t think too hard, apparent-age creationism allows you to pursue legitimate science, to experiment and theorize about the world as it appears to be.

Shortly after reading that, I came across this passage in 1984, in which O’Brien is explaining that the universe is no older than humans are:

“What are the stars?” said O’Brien indifferently. “They are bits of fire a few kilometers away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the center of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.” […]

“For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometers away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?”

The Party in Oceania is hostile to religion, but it seems they have something in common with some proponents of “creation science” or “intelligent design”.

I had been planning to post about another passage in 1984 and its similarity to the dismissive comments about the “reality-based community” by the Bush aide quoted by Ron Suskind, but Rob Goodspeed (a DCist contributor who for all I know may have shown up at DCDL some time) beat me to it by nine months.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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