Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Six-Grand Canyon?

I've posted about my religious beliefs before, so my reaction to this story should surprise absolutely nobody:

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”


In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone conducted or completed.


“As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan,” Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the creationist book. “We sincerely hope that the new Director of the Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job.”

Any emphasis up there is my own.

I don't want this to be some kind of divisive religion vs. science post, but I don't see how it can't be. It seems that in our modern world, in order to get mainstream recognition, all you have to do is disagree with somebody and then point to the disagreement that you just expressed as evidence for why you should be taken as seriously as the people with whom you disagree. Example:
Scientist: Species developed over the course of millions of years, through the process of natural selection.

Creationist: I disagree. I think God did it all.

Scientist: The scientific community overwhelmingly backs my position.

Creationist: Why not just teach the controversy? There's definitely controversy. Please refer back to 10 seconds ago when I disagreed with you. See? Controversy. Are you just afraid of views that differ from your own?
That's, like, the template for how to get the media scared of denigrating your position, and how to ratchet your idiotic minority to the top of the media heap, all without having to exhibit one shred of evidence. Here's a site that goes more in-depth on the logical fallacies used by these people, and how to spot them.

This all puts me in mind of this very, very funny Mad Magazine spoof:

If only its humor weren't rooted so deeply in reality.