Vacationus interruptus: I take back the nice things I said about Frist
It turns out that I was right about Bill Frist the first time around, when I trashed him for his cynical and opportunistic actions with regard to the Schiavo case. I thought that maybe he was turning over a new leaf when he endorsed loosening the restrictions on stem cell research, but apparently he pissed off his fundamentalist base too much and has had to do something to try to regain their good graces. So he's at it again. Now he's endorsing the teaching of intelligent design:
"I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.Note the oh-so-noble-sounding mention of a "pluralistic society" having access to a "broad range of fact." Who could argue with that, right? Unfortunately, such sentiments are only true when the ideas and "facts" being presented have roughly equal validity. Or validity that is within an order of magnitude of each other. Or within a thousand-fold of each other. Unfortunately, ID doesn't even reach that level of validity when compared with evolution.
Frist, a doctor who graduated from Harvard Medical School, said exposing children to both evolution and intelligent design "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone. I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."
It occurs to me that certain "intelligent design advocates may not be too happy with Frist's remarks. He seems to be tacitly admitting that ID is faith-based, when he adds "including faith" to his remarks. Why did he feel it necessary to mention faith at all, if ID is, as its advocates claim, a scientific theory that does not depend on any one religion? That could annoy some ID luminaries, who keep insisting that ID is not based on faith and does not assume that the "designer" is the Judeo-Christian god, even while explicitly admitting that it is to the faithful who are supporting this nonscientific rubbish. Just try asking them why it couldn't be the Flying Spaghetti Monster responsible for "design." And instead of getting their hypothesis (I won't dignify it by calling it a theory) accepted the scientific way, through research, evidence, and experimentation that eventually forces scientists to pay attention, ID advocates instead get dim-witted or opportunistic politicians to try to get our children indoctrinated with what is in essence a religious concept with no science yet to support it.
Frist then goes on to make the same mistake (or use the same deception) that ID creationists frequently do, namely calling ID a theory and implying it has equal validity as evolution. Remember, the scientific definition of the word "theory" is different than the common usage. When scientists call a set of principles a "theory" they are saying that it is the best explanation presently available for a scientific phenomenon. They are not saying that it's a hunch, which is the colloquial connotation of the word "theory," particularly when evolution is dismissed as "just a theory." Apparently Frist wasn't paying attention in his preliminary courses in pre-med or his actual courses at Harvard Medical School Perhaps he should be sent back for a refresher course in basic scientific concepts. He needs it.
Where he should never be sent is to the White House.
The sad thing is that, among physicians, Frist's misconception with regards to evolution and ID is probably almost as common among physicians as it is among lay people.