SMART Grant Update

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PT reader TW points to Sam Kean’s CHE update. In brief, Evolutionary Biology is a valid major.

There has also been a press release from the Dept. of Education:

PRESS RELEASES Statement from Chief of Staff David Dunn on Eligible AC/SMART Grant Majors

FOR RELEASE: August 24, 2006 Contact: Chad Colby Samara Yudof (202) 401-1576

David Dunn, Chief of Staff for U.S. Department of Education, today issued the following statement on eligible majors under the Academic Competitiveness/SMART grant program:

“Recent news reports have suggested that Evolutionary Biology is not an eligible major under the new SMART grant program. This is incorrect and in fact the opposite is true. Evolutionary biology is a major eligible to receive SMART grants under the ‘Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology’ category of majors.

“The misunderstanding occurred as the result of a draft document that omitted evolutionary biology from a list of majors put forth for use by colleges. As soon as the omission came to our attention, we took steps to correct it. However, regardless of its omission on that one document, evolutionary biology was and continues to be SMART grant eligible.

“The Department is making the necessary correction which will be in place before final guidance on AC/SMART grants is issued.”

###

No word yet on the fate of HVAC engineering.

Further update: Jon Swift channels the wingnutosphere, which is suggesting that Science be removed from the list altogether because, you know, science, like history, is dead, dead, dead.

Jon Swift Wrote:

Now that two of my least favorite subjects in school, science and history, are dead, I’m hoping that the Bush Administration will redouble its efforts to kill off two other subjects I didn’t much care for, Math and Geography. While important strides have been made, I still think more can be done to send Math and Geography to the dustbin of History, which, course, has itself been sent to the dustbin of … something else, I guess. I’m not ready to declare victory until our schools are teaching only two subjects: Religion and Gym.

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Congressman Waxman demands answers and correction on the omission of Evolutionary Biology. The list is being corrected, but there are continuing concerns, and we must urge Congressman Castle to investigate … ... Read More

39 Comments

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

-Napoleon Bonaparte

Great quote, J.G. One can, however, see how the natural assumption of malice was made in this case, considering the past track record for this administration.

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. -Napoleon Bonaparte

Great quote, J.G. One can, however, see how the natural assumption of malice was made in this case, considering the past track record for this administration.

Given its track record, how would you even choose?

I always associate a slight variant of this quotation with Linus van Pelt, but googling around seems to favor somebody named “Hanson”.

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” is a homily commonly known as Hanlon’s Razor, being a variant of the other, older, more commonly cited “razor.”

The quote is known as “Hanlon’s Razor” (or “law”). Nobody knows who “Hanlon” was, but it’s possible it’s a corruption of “Heinlein”, refering to Robert Heinlein, the science fiction author, who said something similar in one of his early works. This would mesh nicely with references to “Hanlon’s Law” first appearing in sci-fi fandom, but less well with the idea that anyone reasonably aware of sci-fi literature could mangle Heinlein’s name so badly (it would be a bit like a biologist not knowing who Darwin was).

But if nobody knows who came up with THAT formulation of the idea, quotes abound from different people expressing the same concept. I’ve never heard it attributed to Napoleon before, though.

See also Sturgeon’s revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crud.”

Ah, but to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from evil…

David Dunn, Chief of Staff for U.S. Department of Education Wrote:

The misunderstanding occurred as the result of a draft document that omitted evolutionary biology from a list of majors put forth for use by colleges.

It’s entirely possible that this is true, and the omission was an accident, and all that. It is also possible that the above statement is total ingenuous coverup, that the omission was deliberate, and we are being fed bogus weasel excuses.

I don’t believe in rushing in and blaming malice in the first place, but I don’t believe in taking any administrator’s word at face value either.

Either way, you did a heckuva job, Dunny, as your boss might say.

I’d still like to know how it was left out, though. Incompetence is all very well, and if it had been something like polymer chemistry or solid-state physics, that might be fair enough. But when the only omission in the science subjects was a subject the administration doesn’t like, I’d be interested in knowing how that happened.

Yeah, I just googled it and Napoleon was the first guy to come up. According to Wikipedia

This phrase or very similar statements have also been attributed to William James, Napoleon Bonaparte, Richard Feynman (who might well have quoted it) and others. # Similar statements have been made by Goethe, and indeed, Robert Heinlein:

Apparently both malice and incompetence are widespread enough to help propogate this particular meme fairly well.

I suspect that a low level political appointee, a young Republican fresh from bible college, took the inititative to white out evolutionary biology.

For what its worth, they didn’t mess with atmospheric sciences, another source of ire for the administration.

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” is a homily commonly known as Hanlon’s Razor, being a variant of the other, older, more commonly cited “razor.”

And it’s often a pretty good heuristic. Unfortunately it has some problems; for example, it implicitly assumes that no one is ever stupid AND malicious.

“Ah, but to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from evil…”

Entropy is the ‘lake of fire’ or ‘second death’ resulting in ignoring the obvious flip-side to thermodynamic laws, which clearly show that the universe is always dying.

The flip-side being of course the continual rebirth of the universe, in direct violation of thermodynamics.

THe advanced stupidity might be this glaring blind-spot in post-modern thought processes.

I read that three times Collin, and it still makes no sense whatsoever.

CAN you clarify that, or should i even bother to ask?

I’m with Reed on this, that “…a low level political appointee, a young Republican fresh from bible college, took the inititative to white out evolutionary biology.” I can’t forget the monkeying with language done by that low level PR officer, who claimed a degree from Texas A & M, at the EPA (I think it was at the EPA). Bush has larded the Federal bureaucracy with a raft of low and high level appointees with a oversize sense of importance, who just follow their leader and do what their god tells them to.

Goodly Sir Jam of Toe,

Evolutionary Biology is really the study of the phenomena of adaptability. I do not think anyone would disagree with this.

The term ‘evolution’ however is founded on the apologete darwinian narrative of ‘gradualism’.

Gradualism is the theory of reverse-engineered adaptation back to some primordial goo as a bio-genesis. It has never been proven, or even observed.

In fact, the fossil record does not support gradualism, but rather clearly reveals new life forms being created in evolution-defying periods of time like the pre-cambrian explosion.

Post-modern thought places the laws of thermodynamics in the unlikely position of bio-genesis. Gradualism is an artficact of entropy, ie the universe is gradually moving towards an entropic state (lake of fire, if you please). Ergo, everything, including life, is subject to gradualism by this reasoning.

Evolutionary biology then seeks to explain life by the laws of thermodynamics, which are the laws of decay and death.

This, I believe is the crux of the problem. Are the laws of decay (death) also the laws of growth (life)? Certainly thermodynamics plays a role in adaptability: death (RM+NS pressure) is exactly what life seeks to overcome.

It is exactly these ‘Laws of Life’ that the post modernist is blind to, favouring rather a single unified theory based soley on thermodynamics.

At the risk sounding trollish, there is a direct parallel here between monism and dualism, but I will stop here, lest I spend enternity cleaning the little panda’s room.

Urrgh.

I can’t follow Collin’s actual train of thought, since whatever train he’s driving apparently long since Casey Jones’d itself into Sir Toe’s metaphorical trainwreck.

But, peering past said smoking wreckage, the inanity of a creationist using the “flip side” of the Law of Thermodynamics to argue for creation instead of using the Law itself to argue against evolution is, ah, breathtaking, to see the least.

Collin, would you be interested in backing up your claims on your very own After the Bar Closes thread?

Now that I think about it, maybe this is another of those it’s-been-boring-around-here sock-puppett leg-pulling things:

Collin DuCrance = Callin’ the Cranks?

I see here again is a place to encourage reading “Into the Cool” which does a very nice job of explaining the role of biology WITHIN the framework of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics.

CRASH! (That’s the trainwreck…)

This thread is about why the Fed has a problem with funding something called “Evolutionary Biology”

I should think that possible explanations might be welcome. If however, this is thread is just a pissing contest, to see who can most cleverly malign the establishment, then I fully understand the above responses.

I would have thought however that such contests would be reserved for the Bathroom Wall, after the bar closes.

Collin, your comments aren’t on topic for this thread, but they are fresh, so I started an After the Bar Closes thread exclusively for them:

Collin DuCrane’s Thermodynamics of Evolution.

Feel free to come over there and discuss the topic to your heart’s content.

Troll of the week Wrote:

This thread is about why the Fed has a problem with funding something called “Evolutionary Biology”

But the Department of Education, as you can see at the top of this thread, is emphatic that they DON’T have a problem with funding it, and they claim that “Evolutionary Biology”’s absence on a recent document about the SMART program was due solely to a clerical error in preparing that document.

Do you agree, then, that the DOE is not being entirely truthful when they say they do not have a problem with funding “Evolutionary Biology”?

“I see here again is a place to encourage reading “Into the Cool” which does a very nice job of explaining the role of biology WITHIN the framework of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics.”

‘Into the Cool’ is exactly the kind of monist ‘Unified Theory’ material I was referring to.

“Into the Cool is a scientific tour de force showing how evolution, ecology, economics and life itself are organized by energy flow and the laws of thermodynamics” - www.intothecool.com

If you go back to my post #122404 you will see the dreaded Von Haekel parallel:

“He extrapolated a new religion or philosophy called monism from evolutionary science. In monism, which postulates that all aspects of the world form an essential unity, all economics, politics, and ethics are reduced to “applied biology”. “ - wikipedia (kw:haekel)

This might be a possible reason the Fed is being so cagey.

My observation regarding low-level civil servants, especially within the beltway, is that they are not terribly competent. Hence please reread the first comment on this thread, #122678.

There were at least three errors in the draft document. One hopes that even within the beltway these will (eventually) be fixed. After all, we need to have SMART air conditioning engineers, don’t we?

Permit me to refine Reed Cartwright’s hypothesis:

I suspect that a low level political appointee, possibly a young Republican named Collin DuCrane fresh from Bible college, took the initiative to white out evolutionary biology.

[Hanlon’s Razor] implicitly assumes that no one is ever stupid AND malicious.

Like Occam’s Razor, it’s a rule of thumb, not a blanket assertion. The word “adequately” implies that if stupidity alone is sufficient explanation, one should not assume the presence of malice. Hanlon says nothing about rejecting further evidence of malice, with or without stupidity.

From our Everyone’s an Editor Department:

the above statement is total ingenuous coverup

I think you mean disingenuous. It’s becoming a common mistake, and soon, I suppose, ingenuous and disingenuous will be synonyms.

steviepinhead:

Casey Jones’d itself into Sir Toe’s metaphorical trainwreck.

I see you especially liked my mixed-metaphor tossed salad.

I thought it worked on many levels for that thread.

(evil grin)

Myself, I enjoy mixed metaphors. But that’s a horse of a different drum.

Speaking of George Deutche (me assume that’s who was implied), what’s he up to nowadays?

“I suspect that a low level political appointee, a young Republican fresh from bible college, took the inititative to white out evolutionary biology.” - Reed A. Cartwright

Actually, its my girlfriend who is the seminarian.

All joking aside, if you think the fed is tough on evolutionists, you should maybe think about what happened to the national socialists.

Yesterday, monism came to power in Europe, to its destruction. Today, it seeks to control the world. Eerie, ain’t it?

I only resist that control. Only the annointed one can defeat it.

Okay, sober now.

“Only the annointed one can defeat it”

Actually, now not so sure.

Matt Young:

soon, I suppose, ingenuous and disingenuous will be synonyms.

Heads you accepted a lie because you were too ignorant to recognize the truth; tails you recognized the truth but chose to lie?

In a sense these behaviors can creep towards the edge of the same coin. We’ve had folks here debating the relative degree of ignorance/fraudulence of the IDers several times recently. Hanlon’s Law has been invoked. I trust we’re beginning to converge on the pragmatic “solution”: with so much correct information about evolution out there, and so many ways to get to it, and so many thorough debunkings of the creo-ID canards available to even the most dimly curious, anyone who can still manage to bury their head is, at a minimum, deluding themselves and, as soon as they start spreading misinformation, deluding others.

At which point the “moral” difference between unconscious and conscious fraud–between self-maintained “ingenuousness” and deliberate “disingenuousness”–becomes vanishingly thin.

OK, Collin’s one-chord band is boring now.

Lenny said:

OK, Collin’s one-chord band is boring now.

Yeah, he’s .…monotonous

Yeah, he’s .…monotonous

You mean, um, monist-otonous.

(grin)

Yesterday, monism came to power in Europe, to its destruction. Today, it seeks to control the world. Eerie, ain’t it?

Google Earth is a bad piece of software.

Apparently, it still hasn’t documented the big smoking crater where Europe used to be before “its destruction”.

People should go to Germany.

It’s total anarchy. Don’t let political parties like “Christian Democrats” fool you with their name. They are really the antichrist as a result of Europe’s monism.

The Vatican City isn’t even situated in Europe anymore.

Nope. Europe’s just a complete basket case where even the Nordic and Scandinavian countries don’t rank higher than the rest of the world in quality of living standards.

Europe? Doesn’t the US own that?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Brauer published on August 25, 2006 12:00 AM.

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