Wednesday, February 08, 2006

His Career Was Just a Theory... 

Hm. I don't suppose this (evil NY Times, use BugMeNot) has anything to do with that and that...

The that and that, as reported in many places, including the wonderful Badastronomy.com, is that George Deutsch, an experience-free Bush appointee to NASA, had the official NASA website changed to indicate that the Big Bang was "only a theory." Now, granted, the word "theory" has a quite different meaning in science circles than it does to ordinary people, but Deutsch really went way out into whacko land when he insisted that every instance of "the Big Bang" on the NASA website be changed to "the Big Bang Theory." In truth, in science, a "theory" is something built from an hypothesis that has been well-tested and generally proven to be the case; e.g., the Theory of Relativity has been tested by many experiements that have shown Einstein to be correct; and you can test the Theory of Gravity by jumping off a high place and watching what happens on your way toward the Earth.

What laymen call a "theory" is, in science an "hypothesis." In other words, someone came up with the hypothesis that electromagnetic energy was carried by tiny particles with a negative charge, and mediated by a force carried by particles with neither charge nor mass. Investigation and science would lead to the further hypothesis that electromagnetic energy is carried by things called electrons and photons; experiments to decide whether this was or was not so would eventually lead to either a) abandonment of the hypothesis, or b) confirmation of the theory. In science, when something is elevated to the status of "theory", it's pretty much been confirmed.

Unfortunately, because different fields speak different languages, "theory" in layman's terms means the same as "hypothesis" in scientific terms -- as in, "a vague idea I pulled out of my butt that may or may not describe how the world works."

Swap the terms around, and you'll see the real problem with what Deutsch tried to do. He wanted to change "the pretty much confirmed idea that the Universe began with a Big Bang, when an infinitely dense point exploded out to create everything" to "the vague idea someone pulled out of their ass that the Universe came from nothing."

Let's see what Edwin Hubble thinks of the latter description...

Anyway, enough of the that and that. As for the this...
George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.
And his resignation couldn't possibly, possibly have anything to do with his mucking about with real science and being a general 24 year-old dipshit assigned to his post more for his political ass-kissing than anything else.

Anyway, here's my hypothesis: Deutsch quit because he became an embarrassment to the Administration; someone got caught with their hand in Schroedinger's Box. And, while the official reason might have some truth to it:
According to his résumé, Mr. Deutsch received a "Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Class of 2003."

Yesterday, officials at Texas A&M said that was not the case.
the truth is, since no one caught this problem before Deutsch took the job, I think it was something convenient that was specifically ignored in order to get Deutsch into his job, but something which was reserved as a Sword of Damocles, for use precisely when Deutsch became too obvious in toeing the wingnut party line and garnered too much attention.

Theory: the current Administration is the most corrupt and nepotistic since Ulyses S. Grant. And I think we've seen ample verification of that statement to elevate it from Hypothesis to Theory. Or, in laymen's terms, proven fact.

Valid, proven theory: Evolution.

Hypothesis: Intelligent Design.

One has shitloads of evidence behind it. One... not so much. Or not at all. And the fewer freaks like Deutsch, who try to push non-science among real scientists, the better.

Good bye, don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass, and be sure to turn the lights off when you leave.


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