Scientific evidence

I have a small quibble with Neil deGrasse* Tyson’s statement in Cosmos:

In science, the only thing that counts is the evidence and the logic of the argument itself

Depending on the scientific pursuit in question, logic may have very much to very little if nothing at all to do with what the evidence shows. Biological research can sometimes fly in the face of logic. In my mind, the relative weight of logic to evidence follows a downward trajectory from physics to chemistry to biology to social and behavioral sciences.

The reason I point this out is that for many individuals not exposed to research or science on a deeper level than grade school and television, science can have the veneer of a logical endeavor. When faced with evidence that seems illogical to some, such as the enduring confusion around evolution, the tendency is to reject it on a basis of logic. So I would rephrase the above statement to say “In science, the only thing that counts is the evidence and that the evidence has been repeatedly and independently verified.”

*deGrasse is a recognized word in my browser’s dictionary

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Hooray for Texas education!

Veteran on state education board holds own against creation backer:

Veteran State Board of Education member Pat Hardy of Fort Worth was defeating a challenger in the GOP primary Tuesday night, holding off an effort by social conservatives to gain a working majority on the politically divided board.

Social conservatives threw their support behind Cleburne urologist Barney Maddox, known for his strong support of creation science and calls to revamp textbooks used in classrooms across Texas.

Take that, Barney! Take that, Cleburne!

Science loses an advocate in Texas

This is not only idiotic, it’s infuriating:

After 27 years as a science teacher and 9 years as the Texas Education Agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer said she did not think she had to remain “neutral” about teaching the theory of evolution.

“It’s not just a good idea; it’s the law,” said Ms. Comer, citing the state’s science curriculum.

But now Ms. Comer, 56, of Austin, is out of a job, after forwarding an e-mail message on a talk about evolution and creationism — “a subject on which the agency must remain neutral,” according to a dismissal letter last month that accused her of various instances of “misconduct and insubordination” and of siding against creationism and the doctrine that life is the product of “intelligent design.”

I honestly can’t believe people are still having this so-called “debate.” On the one hand, you have a theory based on sound science. On the other, you have an unprovable philosophy based on reasoning and faith, having nothing to do with science. One of those belongs in a science classroom, and one doesn’t. No one should have to remain impartial about that.

Update: Appropriately scathing NYT editorial here.