Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Evolution News & Views: Dover Intelligent Design Decision Criticized as a Futile Attempt to Censor Science Education

The title of this post is the one automatically generated by using the BlogThis! functionality. In other words, this is how that site wants this stuff titled; I didn't write it.

Translation: "How To Lie," by the Discovery [sic] Institute and the Center for Science [sic] and Culture [sic].

No doubt, they realize that none of their flock will actually read the primary source (i.e., the ruling). I mean, why bother yourself with the facts when you're lying through your teeth already (or, possibly, blinded by faith)?

The faux-libertarian bullshit has been kicked into higher gear (I half-expected "We Shall Overcome" to break out in some javascripted fashion), and, yes, the Bush-appointed Judge, John Jones III, is called "activist." I shit you not: Paul was right on the money. Furthermore, Judge Jones is accused of simply trying to make a name for himself in the history books.

Just the right words to buck up the constituency. Sure, this will continue, but ID is essentially legally fucked right now. Despite the usual crappy Times reporting on this (I doubt the author read the opinion, and the he-said, she-said is in full flight so as not to offend any potential market), the opinion places ID in a historical continuum in the evolution of creationism from which it will be very hard to escape with less talk of religion by some other school board.

The decision is purposely written in a general as well as specific fashion for the following reason:

[W]e find it incumbent upon the Court to further address an additional issue raised by Plaintiffs, which is whether ID is science. To be sure, our answer to this question can likely be predicted based upon the foregoing analysis. While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six week trial that spanned twenty-one days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area. Finally, we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question before us. (Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover, pp. 63-64; emphasis mine.)

Exactly right.

So, the press release linked to in this post is just pure Goebbelsian doubletalk and projection of motives onto the opponent.

Maybe I was too hasty in rejecting any link between the creationist and the fascist. It's not a Newtonian given that x will cause y, but both stem from the world of ideological certainty, and thus unreality.

So, they share a common psychological ancestor, one might say. Not surprising that both have appeared together. Religion isn't the enemy, Sam Harris notwithstanding: ideological faux certainty is.

6 Thoughts:

Blogger A.T. said...

You're way off at the end of your piece here Doug. This is the problem with Darwinism: certainty! Macroevolution is a concept that - by its very nature - wholly eludes the scientific method. It is anything but certain. And yet, Darwinists insist upon it dogmatically being taught as certainty. That's what is maddening.

Should ID be taught as certain? Of course not. But the value of ID is its exposure of the problems that Darwinistic macroevolution has in matching up with reality as we can know it. And the Darwinistic community seems wholly resistant to acknowledging any of these. [[Flashbacks of an attempt at public humiliation by a college professor who didn't appreciate my very cautiously presented rebuttal of the claimed veracity of Nebraska Man and Java Man, of all things...]]

I actually have a post partially done on this whole notion of certainty, and modern culture's overreliance upon it, in this debate and in others. I think it's inescapable that it is the Darwinists who are being dogmatic and overly certain such that they attempt to squelch any kind of meaningful public debate on the matter of origins.

[By the way, and for what it's worth, I use the term "origins" rather habitually, having gotten it from time spent on TalkOrigins.org back in the day. I like it because it is concise. I only mention that as Cyberpols seems to find the term an odd choice.]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 6:45:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

I don't get it, Allen. You seem to think that ID is providing some sort of groundbreaking revelation by identifying gaps in macroevolution. In fact, where there are gaps in macroevolution, they are discussed, often heatedly, within the discipline of evolutionary biology itself, rendering ID's objections functionally useless.

Until a more complete theory arises that is substantiated by evidence (which is in no way on the horizon) ID is as useless to science as astrology is to physics.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 6:50:00 PM  
Blogger A.T. said...


If your educational experience was one in which macroevolution was taught in such an objective and critical manner, then you and I have had very different experiences indeed. From elementary to middle school to high school to college, the instruction was entirely lopsided and debate was squelched. I actually had a science instructor in college tear up with frustration - not kidding - in response to my repeated challenges. Macroevolution is taught as unassailable fact, and critical viewpoints are utterly missing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 7:04:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Allen - You might be right - I was thinking more at the college and post graduate level. But it makes sense to focus on the core elements of a scientific theory up until the highschool level, for the same reason that highschool teachers don't delve into the depths of the breakdown between Gravity and Quantum Mechanics at high densities and temperatures.

But if you want to address these complex debates that fill in the gaps of a theory, you don't need to invent an entirely implausible explanation and pass it off as alternative science - you just need to start introducing more history of science into science classes, which is something I could get behind.

I can't imagine a guy like you being entirely squelched - and it sounds like you dished it out pretty well. I bet you had your poor teacher reaching for the bottle instead of the advanced texts by the end of term!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Allen: Science is often taught badly. Many things are. Sure, there are those who cling to an overly certain view of evolution or anything else. The Java Man flashback is not cool -- never should anyone be humiliiated. Being a teacher, I know that.

Having said that, Paul is absolutely right that macroevolutionary tempo, mode, and its relationship to microevolution has been debated constantly since the 19th Century. Believe me, if I know anything, this I know (I won't rehash my creds, but let's say that as well as you know law enforcement and prisoner issues, I know this stuff.)

Remember, I actually knew Gould. So, I know all about challenging neo-Darwinism and so forth.

Which is why I think I can say with all due respect that ID has nothing to add, not even in negative arguments.

You really should read some Gould. He's far more pluralistic than the "Darwinian fundamentalists" who do exist (he named them so), but not insofar as being unscientific or supernatural about it.

One bad effect of creationism is that it actually helps to chill debate within the field (for some). Gould got absolutely hammered, unfairly, by many evolutionists because of his frankly dishonest hijacking by creationists.

In any event, if you actually get into the literature, you'll find that evolutionary theory is quite wide-ranging, especially recently, but not only by a long shot.

An excellent start would be the first historical part of The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. I don't agree with all of it, historically, but it's excellent and a great example of how flexible evolutionary theory is.

Most of the arguments on tempo and mode come down to relative frequency. That demands a pluralistic viewpoint, but as Isaiah Berlin famously pointed out, some people are hedgehogs and some are foxes. (It's from a pre-Socratic fragment. The basic idea is that hedgehogs are farily tunnel-visioned folks with one big idea that they tend to find wherever they look, whereas foxes are much more expansive, pluralistic, and flexible. Berlin was talking about literature, but it applies to many other fields of thought, too. If you know this already, my apologies, but I don't like to drop references in a potentially exclusionary way.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 8:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Macroevolution, btw, like any scientific theory that is currently held (at whatever point in time) is not certain but rather the best explanation going.

What ID/creationism doesn't do is actually provide a positive theory with consilience. You have to do more than point out "gaps" in knowledge. Such always exist.

Except in religion or other ideologies.

Doesn't it strike you as just a tad strange that a group of fundamentalist Christians attack only one part of science, and it just so happens to be the same one attacked on religious grounds since Darwin?

I keep asking why no one cares about the incommensurability between quantum theory and relativity. It's a century old, and has yet to be solved.

Or why no one is attacking plate tectonics. Or any other science that goes beyond experiments done in a human lifetime.

Ain't that just a bit strange?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 8:31:00 PM  

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