19 October 2001
1. NASA: THE GOLDIN AGE DRAWS TO A CLOSE.
A Bush is back in the White House, but Dan Goldin, the only agency head to
survive the Clinton takeover, is stepping down as NASA Administrator.
He won the hearts of many scientists with a speech at the 20th birthday
party of Pioneer 10, in which he pledged a return to the "better, faster,
cheaper" NASA of yore
(WN 5 Jun 92).
Four years later, Scientists cheered Goldin again at a AAAS meeting, when
he ripped into space station contractors, accusing them of "stealing from
the American public"
(WN 16 Feb 96).
Ironically, cost overruns on the space station eventually eroded his support.
The crew of the ISS is now a Mir-sized 3, and there's not much for them to do.
In today's world it's difficult to imagine a less relevant program.
While Goldin's departure is not unexpected (WN 18 May 01), there doesn't
seem to be a long line of people wanting the job.
2. EVOLUTION AGAIN: K-12 EDUCATION BILL IS THE LATEST VEHICLE.
A Sense-of-the-Senate amendment introduced by Rick Santorum (R-PA) is part of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It urges that: "where biological
evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why
this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare
the students to be informed participants in public discussion regarding the
subject." Evolution is thus portrayed as an open scientific controversy.
Framed by intelligent design/anti-evolution guru Phillip Johnson, it's the Kansas thing
(WN 13 Aug 99)
on a national scale. Worse, it carried 91-8. Those supporting the resolution tended
to dismiss it as non-binding, but it will be waved in the air at every school board
debate on the issue.
3. MORE ANTI-SCIENCE: CLINTON'S LEGACY ON ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE.
The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy was
created by Executive Order in the waning days of the Clinton Administration.
Of the 20 commission members, not one is a notable medical researcher or scientist.
Their goal, as stated by the Chairman, James Gordon, is "to look at medicine and
health care from a different perspective that can lead to a new model of medicine and
even a new model of human biology." Gordon sees their report, due out in March,
as replacing the Flexner Report in 1910. Written for the Carnegie Foundation, the
landmark Flexner Report established medicine as a scientific enterprise, and seemed
to doom superstitious healing. Sadly, it didn't.
4. BIO-TERRORISM: SO FAR, THE COUNT IS ONE DEAD.
Fortunately, those exposed to anthrax are being diagnosed and treated with the very
latest scientific medicine. They are not being treated by homeopathy, acupuncture,
touch therapy, magnets, reflexology, crystals, chelation, craniosacral therapy,
echinacea, aromatherapy or yohimbe bark. And no one is complaining.