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Now, According to the National Center for Science Education, We Are the "Merchants of Doubt"

newton.jpgThe National Center for Science Education's Program and Policy Director, Steve Newton, is very disturbed about the response in certain quarters to the new Cosmos TV series. Instead of telling readers of the NCSE blog what he liked about the series, he takes us on a little excursion to 1980 to recall the response some had to the original Cosmos.

He remembers how "creationists" took "umbrage" at some of the messages in the series, such as the famous opening quote used then as well as now, "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be." Newton (pictured at right) is flummoxed that anyone would find that statement troubling. Cosmos is, after all, just science.

How dare the critics, then or now, claim to detect an infusion of materialist philosophy? Newton worries that

The same sad phenomenon will no doubt happen with Neil deGrasse Tyson's new Cosmos series, especially since it also opens with Sagan's "all that ever was" line, and because its executive producer Seth MacFarlane laid out part of his motivation for re-imagining the series this way:

I think that there is a hunger for science and knowing about science and understanding of science that hasn't really been fed in the past two decades. We've had a resurgence of creationism and intelligent design quote-unquote theory.

Newton and his colleagues at the NCSE are fond of labelling us -- those who question Darwinian dogma and the materialist philosophy that underwrites much of science today -- with phrases like "science deniers" or "evolution deniers." Rhymes with "Holocaust deniers." To Newton, it is simply fiction that there is any philosophical agenda detectable anywhere in science. And he ought to know, since his bio on the NCSE site mentions that Newton "knows firsthand how the nature of science -- distorted by 'merchants of doubt' who push ideology and pseudoscience -- is misunderstood by students." Yes, that would be us...the "merchants of doubt." Rhymes with "merchants of death." How is that for fair and honest commentary? "It's all scientific stuff," as Tom Buchanan memorably says in The Great Gatsby. "It's been proved."

Newton just won't consider the implied materialism that in fact ran throughout the opening episode of Cosmos, as Casey Luskin has already demonstrated. Newton remains willfully ignorant of the modern-day thought police who would keep anyone from expressing any doubts or questions about Darwinian dogma or whatever else the NCSE deems as "real" science. Witness, for example, the case of Professor Eric Hedin at Ball State University. No, for Newton and Co.,

It's amazing -- and somewhat disturbing -- that in 2014 we're still hearing the same anti-science arguments bandied around after 1980. But this shouldn't come as much of a surprise; creationists [and no doubt Newton would disingenuously lump proponents of ID in that category, as per the NCSE's policy] haven't had many original claims to make since the 1925 Scopes trial.

But what else can you expect from those of us who are, what was the phrase...oh yes, "merchants of doubt"? Well, here is one thing about which I have not the slightest doubt: the next 12 episodes of Cosmos will continue to conflate materialism with science and Newton will continue to be "disturbed" that we find that a problem worthy of note.