Lawrence Krauss on the familiar taboo

Lawrence Krauss notes that the NSF does a survey on US science literacy, and always finds that adults in the US tend to say “No! I won’t believe that!” when asked about evolution and the big bang. Until this year, when the NSF fiddled the survey.

the National Science Board, which oversees the foundation, chose to leave the section that discussed these issues out of the 2010 edition, claiming the questions were “flawed indicators of scientific knowledge because responses conflated knowledge and beliefs.” In short, if their religious beliefs require respondents to discard scientific facts, the board doesn’t think it appropriate to expose that truth.

A 2009 Pew survey found that “the most devout are on average least willing to accept the evidence of reality.” Which is the opposite of the “science and religion are compatible” dogma that we’re all supposed to “accept” for no very convincing reason.

I don’t know which is more dangerous, that religious beliefs force some people to choose between knowledge and myth or that pointing out how religion can purvey ignorance is taboo. To do so risks being branded as intolerant of religion.

Oh yes indeed it does. It also risks being branded as a gnu atheist, and then called a witch-hunter, shouted at, run out of town, fired, and kicked out of the tennis club.

Keeping religion immune from criticism is both unwarranted and dangerous. Unless we are willing to expose religious irrationality whenever it arises, we will encourage irrational public policy and promote ignorance over education for our children.

Dear me, he won’t be invited to the Accommodationists’ Picnic.

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