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This is encouraging.

Here’s a short video of President Obama speaking about science and once again putting it at the top of our agenda as a nation. It’s so nice to hear a president speak about the importance of science with what seems to be at least some modicum of understanding of the scientific process and what it means.

Here are a few bits from the video.

Today more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology.

That was a great start, but what really got to me was this next quote.

Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources. It’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say even when it’s inconvenient… especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth, and a greater undrestanding of the world around us.

Free and open inquiry? Evidence not twisted or obscured by politics or ideology? Listening to what scientists have to say? Searching for truth?… via science?! Why, Mr. President!… that’s almost blasphemous!

Seriously, though, I think it’s refreshing to hear. It’s a direct hit against the wave of anti-intellectualism that’s been threatening to poison this country for quite some time. It’s definitely a direct hit against the Bush policies of the past eight years. If only President Obama’s stated goals for science can be achieved, I think it’ll make a huge difference in the success of our nation.

I’d like to add one more, if I may. I’d like to see science promoted in our educational system without the chains of dogma attached to it. Let students learn about the scientific method and about scientific theories without the undertow of religion dragging them down. Teach them what science is and what science does… and what it doesn’t do.

But don’t corrupt it. Don’t water it down and cheapen it by introducing artificially manufactured doubt. Don’t try to pass off superstition and unsupported proclamations as science. Don’t try to skew the evidence or make up evidence where none exists. It only confuses the issue and is educationally unproductive… and counterproductive.

Science comes with its own healthy allotment of doubt and skepticism by its very nature. It’s part of the process. It’s how theories are formed. Let the evidence mitigate the doubt. Let the facts assuage the skepticism. Teach students how to develop their own critical thinking skills so they can determine the validity of existing scientific theories… and create new ones.

Here’s hoping.

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