February 16, 2007
Warren Chisum: Man of nonsense
SciGuy brings the depressing news of State Rep. Warren Chisum's bizarre anti-science crusade in the House - see here and here for the letter he distributed to all House members regarding the teaching of evolution. I'm not sure what's more pathetic - that one of the more powerful members of the Lege could have such ignorant beliefs, or that Chisum did all this without reading the web site his letter directed people to, and thus apparently had no idea just how completely insane it is.
House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum said Wednesday that he's "willing to apologize" for giving colleagues a document that contains what the Anti-Defamation League called "outrageous anti-Semitic material."
"The stuff that causes conflicts between religious beliefs, you know, I'd never be a party to that," Mr. Chisum said. "I'm willing to apologize if I've offended anyone."
Mr. Chisum's comments came after he learned that the Anti-Defamation League, which works against anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, was demanding "a repudiation and apology" in a letter to his office. He said he hadn't seen the letter late Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Pampa Republican distributed a memo written by Georgia GOP Rep. Ben Bridges to Texas House members' mailboxes. The memo advocated that schools stop teaching evolution and contained links to a Web site that warns of international Jewish conspiracies. It also directed readers to the group that created the Web site - the Atlanta-area Fair Education Foundation.
Mr. Chisum said he hadn't looked at the Web site and didn't realize that he was distributing that type of material. He expressed chagrin that he didn't vet the material more carefully.
The truly sad thing is that the "Jewish conspiracy" stuff isn't the most bizarre part of it - the same website claims that the universe is geocentric
and not heliocentric
I figure the embarassing revelations about the Fixed Earth website will be more than enough to prevent Chisum's letter from having any actual policy effect, but you never know. It'd be interesting to hear what Governor Perry thinks about all this. Given the way he's poked social conservatives in the eye with the HPV vaccine order, he might choose to make some amends here. On the other hand, he'll never realize his dream of Texas becoming the cancer curing capital of the world if he embraces Chisum's crusade. You'd think that after the state of Kansas finally got back on the right track, we'd be reluctant to take their place as the official laughingstock in matters scientific, but betting on common sense is seldom with the odds. In the Pink has more.
(DMN link via Dig Deeper Texas.)
UPDATE: The Chron gives Chisum a well-deserved slap.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 16, 2007 to That's our Lege
Chisum says "I'm willing to apologize if I've offended anyone."
The dumbass doesn't even realize how offensive this stuff is. Thank God our Legislature only meets every other year and for just a short period of time. Imagine how much damage these people could do otherwise.
Well, strictly speaking, the universe isn't heliocentric either. The universe is not revolving around the sun.
Chisum represents a disturbing tendency in this country--a lack of comprehension of what science is. It is a startling, almost atavistic worldview. Chisum is a clown and a fool, but he represents a constituency and represents an increasingly common kind of pre-enlightenment belief system--anti-semitism and anti-science go hand in hand here.
The Assault on Reason
by Al Gore
A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degration of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason.
At the time George W. Bush ordered American forces to invade Iraq, 70 percent of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11. Voters in Ohio, when asked by pollsters to list what stuck in their minds about the campaign, most frequently named two Bush television ads that played to fears of terrorism.
We live in an age when the thirty-second television spot is the most powerful force shaping the electorate's thinking, and America is in the hands of an administration less interested than any previous administration in sharing the truth with the citizenry. Related to this and of even greater concern is this administration's disinterest in the process by which the truth is ascertained, the tenets of fact-based reasoning-first among them an embrace of open inquiry in which unexpected and even inconvenient facts can lead to unexpected conclusions.
How did we get here? How much damage has been done to the functioning of our democracy and its role as steward of our security? Never has there been a worse time for us to lose the capacity to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from national security to the economy, from issues of health and social welfare to the environment. As The Assault on Reason shows us, we have precious little time to waste.
Gore's larger goal in this book is to explain how the public sphere itself has evolved into a place hospitable to reason's enemies, to make us more aware of the forces at work on our own minds, and to lead us to an understanding of what we can do, individually and collectively, to restore the rule of reason and safeguard our future. Drawing on a life's work in politics as well as on the work of experts across a broad range of disciplines, Al Gore has written a farsighted and powerful manifesto for clear thinking.
• Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (May 22, 2007)
• ISBN-10: 1594201226
• ISBN-13: 978-1594201226