Dept. of Education SMART grants: Evolutionary biologists need not apply

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Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a news article by Sam Kean that describes more creationist shenanigans in the Federal Government. Kean reports that a new “SMART Grant” makes funds available to science, engineering and foreign language students – with the exception of students majoring in evolutionary biology.

The Education Department has a system of codes for undergraduate majors–the “CIP codes”– which includes evolutionary biology (code 26.1303). The list of majors eligible for the SMART grant omits only this code among all the biological disciplines.

What can we conclude about the omission? As with the drafts of “Pandas and People”, the perpetrators of this deletion seem to have been rather careless about how they used the ctl-X and ctl-C/ctl-V commands. In the list of acceptable majors, evolutionary biology is missing, but there is a space where it ought to have been. It’s reasonable to conclude from this that someone inelegantly and inexpertly yanked the line at a late stage in the document’s development.

The CHE article quotes Prof. Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve, who “said he sent the letter to the department when he learned of the absence, which he called ‘a serious omission.’” Professor Krauss was unwilling to make any accusations as to the reason for evolutionary biology not being on the list. And a Dept. of Education spokesperson called it an unspecified “clerical consolidation of some kind.”

Odd, though, that of all the biological disciplines only evolution should face this “consolidation”. Has anyone kept track of where George Deutsch has moved to?

UPDATE: Poking around, I found what I think are all of the anomalous deletions.

They are:

15.0501: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology 26.0908: Exercise Physiology 26.1303: Evolutionary Biology

From “Inter/mulitdisciplinary studies” 30.17 (Behavioral Sciences) is also missing, but a lot of other majors from this category are excluded as well, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.

The obvious question is: Why do the creationists hate air conditioning?!

UPDATE 8/25/06: Reader TW points out that Sam Kean at the CHE has more information and a Dept. of Education response. In brief, Evolutionary Biology is a valid major. No word on the fate of HVAC engineering.

6 TrackBacks

Is the modern science of biology ALL evolutionary, or is “evolutionary biology” just a sub-dicipline? (I’m raising this as a real question … not just a polemical maneuver.) … ... Read More

Clerical error from disinterested party on August 22, 2006 8:40 PM

(Not so) Smart Grants: Like a gap in the fossil record, evolutionary biology is missing from a list of majors that the U.S. Department of Education has deemed eligible for a new federal grant program designed to reward students... Read More

On a long list of undergraduate majors that qualify low-income students for SMART grants, a white gap has taken the place of Evolutionary Biology on the list. If Evolutionary Biology is not included, that means students majoring in that field would no... Read More

Evolutionary Biology is being restored to the list, but concern remains over “potential dangers of having the Department of Education involved in curricular matters,” rather than “the National Academy of Sciences or some other autonom... Read More

Matt Brauer at the Panda’s Thumb finds out how students studying Air Conditioning Technology seem to be ineligible to get Federal funds. ... Read More

Is this the answer to why they hate air conditioning? See ... Read More


It was probably just a clerical error: they meant to delete genetics and palaeontology too, but slipped up.

Don’t forget geology, archaeology, astronomy, cosmology…

I call “shenanigans”! [/south park]

Astonishing and sad.

Now will Dembski apply his foolproof “explanatory filter” to determine whether this omission was indeed intentional, or will he merely crow about it?

Everybody grab a broom, it’s Shenanigans!

Why don’t they just delete science and replace it with “Bible study”?

What can we conclude about the omission?

That it was by design. 1 for us, 0 for the IDiots.

Interesting. I just got a SMART Grant, and I’m a biology major in the evolutionary/ecological biology track at my university. However, there’s no particular indicator of which track I’m in; my major is given as biology, just as are pre-med majors, pre-vet majors, etc. But it’s right there in my Financial Aid profile; I got an extra $4000 over the course of the coming year on this grant.

I probably shouldn’t have said anything. They’ll probably take it away from me now.

‘Exercise science’ and ‘Behavioral sciences’ are absent with a similar gap.

US education and R&D policy: unintelligent design. .

I think our laws and regulations can often be used to make a case for the fact that you can get incredible complexity without intelligent design.

15.0501: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology

If this year is any indication, we will need more people in AC tech.

They probably hate air conditioning because they hate any hint of climate change.

The obvious question is: Why do the creationists hate air conditioning?!

Well, clearly the Executive is being paid off by the global warming industry.

Ten years ago, I would have assumed a clerical error easily. These days, I feel a slight need to make a tinfoil fedora and speculate in a paranoid manner about something like this.

It is the role of any judiciary to protect rights of ownership (property law).

The current administration simply recognizes that information (including genetic) is never ownerless.

Why should genetic material be considered public domain and legally derilict of original ownership? The Darwinian narrative merely seeks to open a loophole in property law. It is legalism at its very worst: defraudment via “reasonable” doubt.

Evolution is simply adaptation framed as a bio-genesis. It is creationism in a cheap hairy gorilla suit. Remove this suit of psuedo-legalism and you are staring directly at an orginal author.

So, this might answer the question of why “Evoltionary Biologists” are persona non-grata in terms of winning goverment grants - it is like paying to wolves to watch over the sheep.

See “” for venomous replies to this post.


Not “What” - but rather “Who”.

“Who” is on first (causes) “What” is on second (causes) “I dont know” is the beginning of wisdom…

Why do the creationists hate air conditioning?!


Collin Wrote:

See “” for venomous replies to this post.

Gee, Collin, what happened to the Big Talk Theory? You were the inaugural recipient of my Stupid Blog of the Week Award, and now this.

It’s because air conditioning, like evolution, violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Just like Exercise Physiology violates the First Law of Motion. (A body at rest tends to remain at rest…)

Dearest Mr. Wynne,

I have been trembling at the mere thought of another encounter with your formidable intellect.

Is there a cash prize for your award? I am sure all of creation awaits your response.

I’ll point out that the omission of HVAC is different than the other two. There is no blank space where it should be.

Trollish posts will be moved to the bathroom wall. I’m not interested in hosting any multi-board feuds.

(Incoherent rantings may or may not be allowed to stay here, depending on amusement value.)

Creationists hate air conditioning because, being composed largely of hot air, it would take the wind out of their sails.

[Why don’t they just delete science and replace it with “Bible study”?]

Nah…that’s a little MORE obvious than whatever the IDiots have been doing so far.…

On the same day I saw this post, I happened to look at the new NASA ROSES solicitation (ie: call for proposals).[…]_Amend14.pdf

Of the 68 programs, the three related to astrobiology have been canceled.

From NASA’s astrobiology roadmap, the fundamental questions are:

* How does life begin and evolve?

* Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?

* What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?

I note that one of the cancelled programs is called “Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets”. Exploration of planets falls right in line with the President’s vision for the future of NASA, but I guess the tie to astrobiology is the kiss of death.

No, no politics at all in scientific decision-making.

Randomfactor Wrote:

Just like Exercise Physiology violates the First Law of Motion. (A body at rest tends to remain at rest…)

Unfortunately I confirm the first law of motion… extremely well.

Where’s a good “explanatory filter” when we need one? Which do you suppose is the “best explanation,” in terms of probabbilities: (1) this single specific omission was purely a random “mutation” of the list (as the DoE people are now saying), or (2) it happened by intentional design?

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