Bloomberg's Blooper; it's a "Beaut'"
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave one of those suddenly vogue commencement addresses--the kind where you ingratiate yourself to the graduates, in this case at Johns Hopkins Medical School, by reference to specific professors and courses they no longer will have to endure. This rhetorical tactic will be a recognized mortar-board cliché by next year, but it probably was a great crowd pleaser in Baltimore yesterday.
But then Hizzoner stumbled. Bloomberg's Blooper came as a part of an attack against "faith based science" and "political science", which he illustrated by pointing to those presumably benighted religious wackos who oppose embryonic stem cell research (the same crackpot Bible thumpers who oppose abortion, one supposes; in short, about half the country outside Manhattan). The former wizard of Wall Street news may know something about politicians who refuse to face scientific facts. But what does he know about "faith based science"?
But the real blooper was his claim that "In Kansas, Mississippi and elsewhere, school districts are now proposing to teach 'intelligent design'.." He said that "boggles" his mind. The trouble is, his mind was apparently too boggled--or that of his speech writer was--to bother to check his facts. WHERE, Your Honor, in Kansas or Mississippi or "elsewhere" does the state propose to teach intelligent design? Before you were in the news making business, you were in the news covering side: so name your source.
In truth, other than the highly touted, now defunct case of tiny Dover, PA, and in the inconsequential musings of some individual legislators here and there, no state or even any city is proposing to teach intelligent design. What you mean, I think (if you are trying to be truthful) is that in Kansas and "elsewhere" there are plans to teach the scientific evidence for and against Darwin's theory of evolution.
You have complained when critics and opponents used straw man arguments against you in politics. Don't use them yourself on science teaching issues.
As one of New York's great pols of the past, Al Smith, would say, "Let's look at the record!" Discovery Institute, home to most of the scientists prominently promoting the theory of intelligent design, have consistently called for academic freedom for professors and others doing research on intelligent design. Discovery legal advisers consistently have made the case that teaching ID, if approached properly (as did not happen in Dover) is constitutional. Most of us, obviously, think the theory is right.
But we have not asked that schools mandate the teaching of intelligent design. What we have urged, instead, is the policy now widely used, to teach the scientific evidence for and against Darwin's theory. You got somethin' against that, Mayor?
Actually, I like Mayor Mike. He is plucky and lucky, two great attributes in politics. But he justifiably could say of himself, in the spirit of another great New York pol of the past--Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, "I don't make many mistakes, but when I do it's a beaut'."