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Friday, August 19, 2005

Pluralistic Science, or: Ooh Eee, Ooh Ah Ah, Ting Tang, Walla Walla Bing Bang 

In a bold move to recapture the flathead votes he lost by endorsing stem-cell research, the Senate's only witch doctor comes out in favor of teaching creationism as science:
[Sen. Bill] Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including intelligent design.

"I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.

Frist, a doctor who graduated from Harvard Medical School, said exposing children to both evolution and intelligent design "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone. I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."
Or in this case, the past; the only "future" that might include ID is a post-apocalyptic one of the sort depicted in A Canticle for Leibowitz (and other worthy novels). We are willing to concede that the teaching of ID-as-science is unliklely to kill us on the operating table, but as we move into our imminent dotage we do pray to Jesus they won't start teaching what Bill Frist does as medicine:

Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a "persistent vegetative state."

"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

His comments raised eyebrows in medical and political circles alike.

To his credit, Mr. Frist is nothing if not consistent. He now proposes that the rival theories of evolution and ID be taught side-by-side, even though the evidence for the former is overwhelming, and for the latter nonexistent. A similar intellectual rigor is at work in his remarks from earlier this year, just after an autopsy confirmed that the late Terri Schiavo was not only brain-dead but blind as a rutabaga. As he argued so compellingly at the time, the theory that Bill Frist said what he said should in no way be privileged over the competing theory that Bill Frist never, ever said what he said:
Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader and a heart surgeon, acknowledged yesterday that Terri Schiavo had suffered devastating brain damage and said his assertion three months ago that she was "not somebody in persistent vegetative state" did not amount to a medical diagnosis.

Frist (R-Tenn.), appearing on three network TV shows, agreed with this week's autopsy conclusion that the Florida woman had suffered severe, irreversible brain damage. "I never, never, on the floor of the Senate, made a diagnosis, nor would I ever do that," he told NBC's "Today" show.

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