WE HESITATE to discuss this, but your Curmudgeon is dedicated to keeping you informed. The Washington Post has a column by Amy Binder and John H. Evans, described as associate professors in the Sociology Department at the University of California at San Diego. Got that? What we have here are sociologists writing in the Washington Post.
Multiple alarm bells are ringing as we present you with some excerpts from their column: Evolving Toward a Compromise:
A proposal before the Texas Board of Education calls for including the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution in the state’s science curriculum. This initiative is understood by supporters and opponents to be a strategic effort to get around First Amendment restrictions on teaching religion in science class. The proposal is a new round in an old debate, and, if it fails, creationists will innovate once again, just as they have since the 1920s.
That’s an accurate assessment. We’ve written about the Texas situation several times before, most recently: Texas Anti-Evolution Debate: Pure Creationism. And here’s a more recent article from the Austin Chronicle: Texas Fiction Science: The State Board of Education does its part to fantasize biology.
Back to the Post:
Opponents of teaching intelligent design — civil libertarians, scientists and educators alike — have fought these challenges with a scorched-earth line of attack. No compromise, ever. Bloggers opposed to the idea of intelligent design ridicule its proponents as fundamentalist hicks, while formal assessments tend to condemn them in a slightly more civil tone.
We interrupt that paragraph in the Post to say that what we just quoted seems more or less accurate. Now for the remainder of the paragraph:
Those who study social movements, as we do, know that loss does not always deter; in fact, crushing one’s opponents, especially again and again, can create feelings of persecution and solidarity among them and deepen their commitment to their cause.
Ah … the sociologists are offering us their special wisdom. What do they think? We should be compassionate, fuzzy-wuzzy, caring-sharing? We should be less judgmental? We should feel their pain? Right! Perhaps we should let a little bit of Noah’s Ark into science class? Maybe some Aquarius into astronomy class? Some voodoo in the health clinic? Let’s read some more:
From a tactical perspective, this may not be the best way to protect the science curriculum or the separation of church and state. From a more humanistic viewpoint, stigmatizing those who believe in intelligent design does not get us any closer to a respectful discourse. We presume that the Texas challenge will be found to violate the Constitution and that scientists will never accept the watering down of evolutionary concepts in the classroom. But by taking seriously a concern of critics of evolution, educators could offer an olive branch that might result in less debate overall and in better-informed students.
They “presume” the Texas creationist maneuver will be found unconstitutional? We assume so too, but let’s move along here. As we read the authors’ column, their advice is that from a “humanistic viewpoint,” we shouldn’t be “stigmatizing” the creationists. If we want to get closer to “respectful discourse,” we should take the creationists “concerns” “seriously,” and “offer an olive branch.” Yes, we understand what the sociologists are saying.
Are you throwing up yet?
We’ve read the whole thing. Do likewise, if you wish. This experience has done nothing but reinforce a long-held belief of ours — sociology is a worthless pile of feel-good fluff. (Oh dear, we sincerely hope we haven’t been too insensitive!)