Thursday, March 25, 2010

NAS Criticized For Hosting Templeton Prize Award

This is rather puzzling to me as well. The prestigious US National Academy of Sciences has agreed to host the award for the Templeton Prize. However, many scientists think this is a mistake.

"For the National Academy of Sciences to get involved with an organisation like this is dangerous," said Sir Harry Kroto, a British scientist who won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1996 and later joined Florida State University.

"The National Academy should look very carefully at what the majority of its members feel about the apparent legitimising of the scientific credentials of the Templeton Foundation." he said.

This is certainly a strange decision. The NAS responded with this rather feeble response.

The NAS said it agreed to host the event because the winner was an NAS member. Sean Carroll, a physicist at California Institute of Technology, said: "Templeton has a fairly overt agenda that some scientists are comfortable with, but very many are not. In my opinion, for a prestigious scientific organisation to work with them sends the wrong message."

That makes very little sense. If a member of the NAS gets awarded with other strange awards, say the Discovery Institute want to award a member with the promotion of intelligent design, does that mean that the NAS would also host such a ceremony simply because the winner is an NAS member? I wouldn't think so.

I have a lot of respect for the NAS (even though many people think it is a little above a popularity club), but this decision by them is a head-scratcher.


1 comment:

Kyle said...

It is odd, especially considering that about 93% of NAS members do not believe (at least if the study from 1998 is still valid Although, it does seem like (to me) NAS seems to lean towards saying religion and science are compatible, rather than just disregarding the issue or stating there are different points of view. I think it would be interesting to know what academy members actually think about this and the NAS's stance in general. Do you know of any statistics on this?