Sarah Palin: Creationism Update (21 Sept)

THE SARAH PALIN news coverage has remained fixed in the course it began to follow from the earliest days of her nomination. The accusations of creationism and book-banning, largely ameliorated by further investigation, have nevertheless been ceaselessly repeated, and sometimes even embellished. She is frequently — and falsely — said to favor the “teaching of creationism alongside evolution.”

Our view of the matter is that Sarah will adopt McCain’s positions on these and other issues — she can hardly do otherwise — and thus whatever Sarah has said about creationism isn’t very significant. See: McCain and Obama: Positions on Evolution and Creationism. Our own vote will be cast for other reasons — the war, taxes, immigration, energy policy, etc.

We’d still like to know Sarah’s personal thoughts about creationism, and so we’re hoping for answers to our Open Letter to Sarah Palin. After all, it’s possible that Sarah might become President. But even if she does, her creationism — unless it’s really as bad as some fear — is unlikely to be a factor. Presidents don’t control our local schools. If she’s really crazy, then of course we’re concerned. At this point we’re curious — very curious — but not worried.

Nevertheless, for your weekend reading, here are a few examples (with bold added for emphasis) of “Sarah the creationist nightmare from hell” journalism:

In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review we read Bill Maher’s nasty circus of the stars. It’s a column — believe it or not — devoted to the views of Bill Maher, expressed during one episode of Maher’s TV show. The writer (Bill Steigerwald) tells us:

He [Maher] was “officially frightened” by Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson, called Palin “a Category 5 moron” and said it’s unfair to compare pigs to Palin because pigs are smart and “don’t believe in creationism.”

We have little experience watching that fellow’s show, so we’re in no position to say more about him than his own words do.

In the Salt Lake Tribune we read Women, don’t be fooled – Sarah Palin is a bridge to nowhere. This is a column by a woman named Barb Guy. There’s a picture of Ms. Guy accompanying her column, and a glance at that may help you to put her views in context.

It’s brutal stuff, but Ms. Guy’s column doesn’t deal with Sarah’s creationism. That’s okay. We’re broad-minded enough to include even fringe opinions. Diversity is strength!

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

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Sarah Palin: Creationism Update (21 Sept)

  1. I think the book banning has been both exaggerated and held up as essentially instructive about her instincts.

    There were certainly a lot of nonsensical email forwards claiming to have a list of specific books, but the fact remains that she did inquire about banning books, and her past history shows that this was not simply a random “rhetorical” (sic) question.

    Her church was at the very same time active in lobbying for the removal of certain books: something it’s hard to believe was not part of the questioning. Certain books were reportedly vanishing from library shelves. And as a councilwoman, she had specifically expressed the desire to get rid of a particular book, despite having refused to read it.

    Like her creationist beliefs, I think this demonstrates an interesting pattern: strongly conservative social views that… she never really figures out how to put into political action, if she even really tries. I’m not sure what that should tell us about her political instincts in general.

    I do think the “experience” question is a red herring. Whether Palin has more on paper than Obama or not, she certainly seems far far less competent as a policy person: she’s someone who has spent the last few weeks having to cram so she can repeat talking points about subjects she has no real record of thinking about. Say what you will about Obama, but he’s demonstrated the ability to think about and understand all the issues relevant to being a president/vice-president: taken stands, defended them intelligently, and so on.

    Palin’s answers, when she’s even asked to lay them out in any serious fashion, have bordered on incoherent (such as her recent statements about energy policy, where she rambled on about not counting “molecules” and seemed not to understand what fungible means, given that it completely undermined the point she seemed to be making. I doubt Canada, who sells us far more oil than we sell them, would be too happy about us suddenly demanding that our oil should be used here first, whatever that means, before going to them).

  2. This has nothing to do with science vs. magic, evolution vs. creationism, etc., but it is hard to believe that McCain, Obama, Palin and Biden are the four most-qualified citizens of the United States for service as President.

    Regardless of your politics, if you are a rational, logical thinker, and are honest with yourself, you would have to agree.

    But — these are the choices we have given ourselves. Let’s try to make the best of it.

  3. This country is full of bright, capable people. Most of them are revolted by the ordeal to which politicians are subjected. Also, the prospect of working in Washington with politicians and bureaucrats isn’t very attractive. Only a peculiar person wants a political career.

  4. It seems those best qualified to be political leaders don’t want to have anything to do with it.

  5. I have teased the Curmudgeon enough now that he presumably know it’s good-natured. But it is amusing to continue to watch him and other conservatives squirm. On the one hand, he writes this most excellent Blog that really lays out many of the current issues relating to Creationism and ID much better than many others, including perhaps even Panda’s Thumb (this may just be the difference between the consistency of one voice versus many). Look, either the topic you choose to post on really is important, especially as it indicates American attitudes towards education and research, or it’s not. If it’s not, then you have an interesting obsession. But if it is (as I would suspect that you believe) then it really is not unreasonable to suggest that this is a litmus test; that what this woman who is next in line to the oldest President to be sworn in thinks about Creationism is really, really important. You try to distance your ‘vote’ from your otherwise extremely cogent opinions, but it seems like you’re contorting your otherwise good judgement. Yes, there are other issues, but her views on this one shade even those: I’ve mentioned before that how she regards evolution will absolutely shade how she regards research into the biological sciences, and we’re in the process of losing what used to be a ten year lead in biotechnology. You talk about terrorism, but the fact is that a bunch of fanatics are only really dangerous to us if they can use asymmetric warfare … chief amongst which is biological warfare. Her opinions on whether and how we can use evolutionary modeling to distinguish pandemics from attacks is likely to be as critical to who and what we bomb as was the chemical analysis that led us to blow up an aspirin factory in Africa. No, she doesn’t have to know the details. But if she’s so far out of it that she can’t even countenance the reality of 150 year old science, then what hope do we have that she’ll make anything like a rational decision? For all of your squirming, Curmudgeon, this continues to be *the* issue, at least for some of us, and I believe it is a perfectly decent litmus test. And as I’ve said in other replies, John McCain is no treat when it comes to his views on the fact and theory of evolution, either. If Palin is even half as much an activist as a VP as Hillary was as a First Lady, then he’s just going to let her do whatever makes the conservative base happy.

  6. And, on a slightly separate note, I see you repeat the conservative mantra about those blood-sucking bureaucrats. Not to be rude, but do you actually know any ‘bureaucrats’? The faceless folks who work in those warrens down in DC? I do. They’re the people that keep government going. I don’t deny that there are programs that are unnecessary and that our moneys could be spent differently, maybe even more wisely (although I personally believe we are grossly underspending on anything but a fruitless attempt to stabilize an inherently corrupt regime). But that is a far different thing than to indict those who have decided a life in government service is worthwhile. This includes, incidentally, those in the military, many of whom are bureaucrats in the truest sense of the word. They push paper, they make things happen. They keep the wheels of government at least partially oiled and turning. And on a person-for-person basis, the ‘bureaucrats’ that I’ve met and interacted with have been some of the greatest patriots and been the most knowledgeable about the problems with government and how those problems might be fixed. Unfortunately, they’re not the ones who implement or even suggest plans. Every four or so years they get a new CEO who appoints a bunch of cronies (see ‘Brownie’ for details) who generally have no idea of the mission, capabilities, or culture of the organization they’re now managing. And the ‘bureaucrats’ adapt and continue onward, providing the only damn continuity that the government has. So. You can deride my defense of that evil ol’ money-wasting bureaucracy … or you can acknowledge that maybe in this instance you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  7. moribundhund says:

    I see you repeat the conservative mantra about those blood-sucking bureaucrats. Not to be rude, but do you actually know any ‘bureaucrats’?

    Silly me. I assumed it would obvious to any reader of this blog that I’m not a cut-n-paste thinker who merely repeats some mindless mantra. My practice is that if I don’t have my own thoughts on a subject, I express no opinion.

    Do I know any bureaucrats? Let’s define our terms. I’m speaking of regulatory agencies, not police, prosecutors, military, and other traditional government functions. And among the regulators, I’ll exclude the agency head, who may be a real person with real experience, who takes a government post for a brief period. I’ll also exclude many of the legal staff, who may be there temporarily to learn the ropes so they can leave and do productive work.

    As for the rest — the career civil service types, the paper-pushing, power-seeking, pompous parasitic meddlers who make a living at taxpayer expense while hating and retarding the progress of the free market — they are the bureaucrats of whom I speak. I’ve met a number of them, federal, state, and local. Perhaps “encountered” would be a better word than “met.” Those encounters were all situations when the bureaucrats and I were opponents. So maybe the answer to your question is: No, I don’t “know” any bureaucrats, and I don’t want to know any.

    You can deride my defense of that evil ol’ money-wasting bureaucracy … or you can acknowledge that maybe in this instance you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Those are my only choices? If I wanted to play, I’d choose the derision option. But I’m not going to get into this. Political debates aren’t what this blog is here for.

  8. Curmudgeon writes:

    As for … the career civil service types, the paper-pushing, power-seeking, pompous parasitic meddlers who make a living at taxpayer expense while hating and retarding the progress of the free market — they are the bureaucrats of whom I speak.

    Astonishing that he could write that today, Sept. 22, 2008, when taxpayers are being asked to pony up $1 billion to buy up bad loans that “the free market” piled up under the Bush/McCain/Gramm de-regulatory regime.

    But back to the subject of this series of posts:
    As I pointed out in August, the trouble with Palin’s remarks on science teaching is NOT that she, as VP or even P, would somehow insert creationism into “science” curriculum: The problem is it shows a lack of understanding of science itself, which COULD be dangerous — even in a VP. See
    http://curricublog.org/2008/08/30/palin-creationism-so-what/

  9. When I wrote “$1 billion” in the comment above I was thinking about how Carl Sagan used to over-stress the “B” so people would be clear that he was saying “billion,” not “million.”

    Of course, this time it should be “Trillion.” The ultimate net cost will depend on how much can be recouped as the gov’t sells of the assets; but people are estimating the initial layout in the range of a half trillion to a trillion. (As Sen. Dirksen used to say [remember when we had Republicans like him?], sooner or later it adds up to real money.)

    Pretty much everybody recognizes that it’s BECAUSE the financial market wasn’t being regulated (like the commercial banking industry has been) that we are about to put up to $1 trillion of the nation’s wealth under the control of bureacrats — a result that would have been avoidable with a sensible regulation.

  10. Tony Whitson said:

    Pretty much everybody recognizes that it’s BECAUSE the financial market wasn’t being regulated (like the commercial banking industry has been) that we are about to put up to $1 trillion of the nation’s wealth under the control of bureacrats …

    I donno. I’m not an expert in such matters. At this very preliminary stage in my understanding, I think the problem was that all those “mortgage backed securities” were very low quality junk bonds, and there was little understanding of that by those who invested in such instruments. I’m told that loads of those mortgages — which the original lenders dumped into those complicated packages — were based on fraudulent appraisals. Somebody knew what was going on.

    If the underwriters knew how junky that stuff was, but sold it anyway, there are already laws against such securities fraud. If they didn’t know, which seems unlikely, I think they should have known, and there are probably still laws against that kind of underwriting.

    So my guess — and it’s a guess only — is that this situation isn’t due to a lack of regulation, it’s due to fraudulent conduct despite existing regulation.

  11. mightyfrijoles

    I have “known” many government bureaucrats, especially Federal ones. As persons they are just a slice of America, normal people, but as paper pushers, they are a breed apart. Why? They don’t have to answer to anyone. They have “the letter of the law”, or more likely, “the letter of the regulation” and the power of the government to back them up.

    And that’s what makes them Bad, he, he, he. 🙂

  12. “So my guess — and it’s a guess only — is that this situation isn’t due to a lack of regulation, it’s due to fraudulent conduct despite existing regulation.”

    Hard to police fraud when you don’t put any effort into policing fraud though, isn’t it?

  13. Bad says:

    Hard to police fraud when you don’t put any effort into policing fraud though, isn’t it?

    Regulators usually don’t do much unless there are complaints from investors. From what I can see, it’s all hitting the fan now. There were probably some goofy rules in place, like how these things were valued. Obviously something was wrong with the way these things were handled, and there were observers who gave warnings, but I have no idea how to cure this mess. It’s possible that the regulators we already have weren’t doing a good job. In fact it seem obvious, in retrospect. So I wouldn’t leap to the conclusion that we don’t have enough regulations. It may be that the regulators just looked the other way.