RbR and I had an interesting conversation recently concerning the relationship between science and government that I thought I would share with everyone.
It all happened in 1888, when a doctor from Indiana named Edwin J. Goodwin claimed to have been "supernaturally taught the exact measure of the circle, in due confirmation of scriptural promises."
What happens next gets silly. The bill was first referred to the House Committee on Canals. When they realized that it shouldn't be there, it was referred to the Committee on Education. The committee recommended that it pass -- lawmakers don't have time to read everything -- but the state superintendent of public instruction was a backer of the bill! Well, it's easy for a bill to pass committee. But then it was sent to the full House ... where it passed unanimously (67-0).
The bill was passed to the senate floor where it got wrapped in red tape and sent to the Committee on Temperance. Its committee chairman recommended it pass (again!) but thankfully the newspapers got word of the bill and wrote some predictably sarcastic editorials. Finally, as a local newspaper reported, "Although the bill was not acted on favorably no one who spoke against it intimated that there was anything wrong with the theories it advances. All of the Senators who spoke on the bill admitted that they were ignorant of the merits of the proposition. It was simply regarded as not being a subject for legislation."
You can read more about this here.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, I think this is eerily similar to current events. It's easy to laugh at a moron who introduces legislation that flies in the face of known science, but it's not so funny when public schools are legally allowed to teach such stuff to schoolchildren.