Lies, Liars, and Anti-Science

Bruce Salem had a hypothesis on the newsgroup: Engineers seem to be disproportionately predisposed to take an antievolution position.

I think I’ve got another sociological hypothesis to put out there: Lying scum seem to be disproportionately predisposed to take an antiscience position.

Some clarification for those ready to jump to erroneous conclusions: The hypothesis is not that antiscience people are always lying scum, nor that lying scum are only found advocating antiscience. It is that of the group of people in the category of lying scum, more of them will tend to associate with antiscience than proscience positions. The hypothesis is based on a statistical distinction, so finding instances of proscience lying scum does not disconfirm it unless those instances become more numerous than instances of antiscience lying scum.

Case in point: George Carlton Deutsch III, until recently employed by NASA in their public relations department. Mr. Deutsch’s resume claimed that he had received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University, (TAMU) which happens to be where I got my Ph.D. in 2003. During his time at NASA, Mr. Deutsch helped promulgate policies of restricting access to NASA-affiliated scientists who researched global climate change and insisted that instances of the phrase “Big Bang” on NASA web sites be altered to “Big Bang theory”. Shortly after news reports cited Mr. Deutsch in relation to these policies, people started checking his background. Blogger Nick Anthis learned that there was some question over whether Deutsch actually had the academic credential that he claimed, and contacted the TAMU Former Students Association. (Yes, not an Alumni Association; you don’t want to exclude the dropouts from feeling like chipping in.) They told them that Deutsch had not actually graduated. The New York Times asked the TAMU registrar, and they confirmed that Deutsch had coursework toward a degree, but had not actually completed the degree program.

Something else that Mr. Deutsch failed to take away from TAMU was any appreciation for its “Aggie Code of Honor”: “An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.” I do hope that the TAMU administration will permanently bar Mr. Deutsch from registering at any TAMU campus in the future, in accordance with that code.

Other recent notables tending to confirm the hypothesis include some members of the Dover, PA school board in 2004-2005.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

One thought on “Lies, Liars, and Anti-Science

  • 2006/02/11 at 2:49 pm

    Excellent observation. It’s frightening to think about how many people like Deutsch might still be in similar, influential positions.

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