Sarah Palin: Creationism Update (02 Sept)

FOLLOWING THE INITIAL discovery that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain’s choice to be his Vice Presidential running mate, favored creationism in public schools, the news coverage took a predictable course.

Our own research indicated that creationist websites weren’t gushing with enthusiasm. In some cases this was probably because only a genuine maniac could satisfy them, and in other cases because downplaying the issue may have been seen as the smart way to get a creationist into high office.

We gave up the foolish task of second-guessing creationists, and then we decided — based on reports of her own statements — that Sarah would permit classroom debate about creationism if the topic arises, but she doesn’t favor inclusion of creationism in the curriculum. For us, that solved a lot of problems.

As we scanned the media, we watched the expected partisan spin develop — or evolve, if you prefer. Republican-oriented news sources skimmed over the issue, listing Palin’s creationism as part of a string of positions — gun ownership, pro-life, anti-gay marriage, etc. Essentially, it was one more item in a catalog of her favorable qualities.

But leftist-oriented news sources seemed to dwell on each of those items, and while moving from one such topic to the next it was as if the reporter were discovering yet another corpse buried in Sarah’s back yard. It’s difficult to know which issue was regarded as her worst defect, because that depended on the orientation of the reporter. Anyway, it’s not surprising that the democrat press considers all of Palin’s positions to be unacceptable.

In the interest of full disclosure, your Curmudgeon owns a few guns, so that feature of Sarah’s politics delights us. We’re baffled and also revolted by politicizing the so-called “social issues,” so we don’t think much about them. Of all the “novelties” regarding Sarah Palin, only her creationism interests us. This isn’t because we care about Palin’s religion — we don’t — but we care very much about the freedom of scientists to pursue their work and to teach their subjects without political or ecclesiastical censorship. That’s why we’re scanning the daily press reports with a focus on Palin’s creationism, and it’s not easy to find unbiased information.

From Inside Higher Ed, which presumably isn’t focused on slime and partisanship, we have: Palin on Higher Ed, Earmarks and Science. Excerpts, with bold added for emphasis:

The general consensus seems to be that Palin — who became governor in 2006 after previously serving as mayor of a city with an estimated population just below 10,000 — hasn’t had time enough to establish a clear record.

That’s refreshing. No spin, no hysteria. They go on to discuss funding and federal earmarks — all rather local issues, and then:

More broadly, Palin’s positions on scientific issues, including climate change and “creation science,” potentially could ignite a debate the Democrats seem eager to have. Democrats criticized the “hostility to science” in the party platform they formally approved last week.

Right, that’s what we want to know about. Reading on:

“We really don’t have enough time to gauge yet where she is on higher education. She’s made a lot of positive comments. There’s not been much time for follow-through,” said Steve Haycox, a professor of history at the University of Alaska Anchorage who focuses on the American West and Alaska.

“She did in fact approve a budget that granted a 7 percent increase in university funds …”

Sarah doesn’t sound like an intelligent person’s nightmare. More from the article:

In a written statement, Mark Hamilton, president of the centralized University of Alaska system, offered kind words for Palin on Friday.

The article goes into administrative details, which don’t really interest us here. Moving along:

In her campaign, Palin described research as being “a huge part of how a university can help pay its own way.” However, her positions on some scientific issues – including a statement in 2006 supporting the teaching of creationism and evolution alike in public schools – are raising some eyebrows.

Alaska last month filed suit against the federal government for its decision, based on climate change and shrinking sea ice, to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year, Palin wrote an op-ed for The New York Times arguing that listing polar bears “is the wrong move at this time.” She indicated that her “decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.”

We can handle that, although the article then quotes extensively from a polar bear enthusiast who can’t.

There’s nothing else bearing on the “creationism in the schools” topic. Given the specialized nature of the article, we assume that the worst is now known.

For the moment, we’re not worried about Sarah Palin.

[Our related articles are here: Sarah Palin & Creationism.]

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One response to “Sarah Palin: Creationism Update (02 Sept)

  1. Aaaaack!! She wants to drill in teh arctic!!!