Two views of a subject

Commenting on my recent post about the Statue of Galileo, Edmund posted a couple of links. Although the story is from last December, the spin is so breathtaking that it is worth posting even now.

First, the story from Catholic World News: Vatican astronomers to move to bigger, more modern facilities. Basically, the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo is a beautiful historic building but a bit cold in winter and the facilities for people staying are not up to scratch. At the same time, more room is needed at the Apostolic Palace for visiting dignitaries. So there is going to be a brand spanking new facility built in the gardens - and everyone is happy.
The Vatican astronomers' new facilities will cover two stories with residences on one floor and, on the bottom floor, brand new offices, laboratories, a museum, a library, a large classroom for their summer school program and additional space for the summer students' use.
So how could we spin this? How about "Science bows to theology as the Pope dismantles Vatican observatory" with the opening paragraph:
Science is to make way for diplomacy at the Pope's summer residence, with the dismantling of the astronomical observatory that has been part of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, for more than 75 years. The Pope needs more room to receive diplomats so the telescopes have to go.
In fact, the telescopes are not going anywhere - the astronomers will still have access to them. The Indie does actually quote various of the people actually involved who flatly contradict the idea that the astronomers are being "evicted" to a "disused convent" (it is being refurbished, obviously.) However, the facts are not allowed to get in the way of the story of Pope Benedict's supposed rejection of science. It all goes to show that if you do not even have the facts to support manufactured outrage, you can spin some to fit.

In other news: the British Government is proposing to axe "the annual £2.5m public funding for "e-Merlin" - an upgrade to the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network between the UK's seven radio telescopes." The scientists involved there say that this will destroy Britain's leading role in radio astronomy. Simon Garrington, head of the Merlin project, said:
"It would be an enormous blow if it came to pass. It would mean a complete withdrawal from observational radio astronomy in the UK. Merlin is the UK's national radio astronomy facility. It's unique."
As the Times reports, the fate of Jodrell Bank is linked with that of e-Merlin.

The truth of the matter is that the Catholic Church continues to patronise and promote the natural sciences while secular governments become willing to put scientific research at risk. This is no coincidence. The Church is concerned with the search for truth. Secular governments increasingly see this as irrelevant.

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