Crux Magazine Off to Bad Start

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Crux magazine is a new publication with a virtual who's who of ID advocates as contributors and editors. It also has three blogs associated with it, with contributions from those same people. While declaring itself the "last bastion of Truth" (yes, they even capitalized it), their contributors seem to have a little difficulty grasping the non-capitalized variety of truth in two articles about the Sternberg/Smithsonian situation. The first, written by Crux senior editor Bobby Maddex, repeats the accusations in the David Klinghoffer WSJ piece as gospel truth, but adds one bit of falsehood to it:

Though still an employee of the museum, Sternberg, who is not even an advocate of Intelligent Design himself, has since been shunned by former colleagues throughout the United States, and his office still sits empty as "unclaimed space."

But in point of fact, Sternberg is not an employee of the museum and never has been. He is an employee of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is an agency of the National Institutes of Health, not the National Museum of Natural History, which is under the Smithsonian. He is a Research Associate at the NMNH, an unpaid position that merely allows access to the Smithsonian's collections without staff supervision. That was his position there before all of this brouhaha, and that is his position there now. As for his office sitting empty as unclaimed space, that is only because Sternberg's office is now in another part of the museum.

The second article, by John Coleman, is even less accurate in its portrayal of the situation. He says:

Sternberg, something of a postmodern Catholic received even worse treatment when he allowed an article proposing the possibility of Intelligent Design (a prominent anti-Darwinian theory of origins) to appear in the Museum of Natural History's journal. Sternberg lost his post at both the museum and the journal, as noted by Bobby Maddex; his crime--allowing a theory considered unscientific by the academic mainstream to make it through the process of peer review.

There are several inaccuracies in that one paragraph. First, he did not lose his post at either the museum or the journal as a result of publishing the Meyer article in PBSW. As noted above, and as Sternberg himself admits, he is still a Research Associate at the museum and his tenure as editor of the journal was already set to expire. He published the Meyer article in the last edition of the journal he had editorial control over, I suspect quite intentionally. So it is simply false to assert that he was fired from either position because of the controversy surrounding that publication. He still retains the only position he would have even if it had never happened.

Second, the claim that ID is "a prominent anti-Darwinian theory of origins" is also false. ID is, by the admission of its most forthright advocates, not yet a theory at all. Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute, regarded by me and others as both the brightest and most honest of the ID proponents, said only a few months ago, "We don't have such a theory right now, and that's a problem. Without a theory, it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we've got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as 'irreducible complexity' and 'specified complexity'- but, as yet, no general theory of biological design." This also points up the straw man nature of another statement made by Klinghoffer and repeated by Maddex in the post linked to above. He said:

Klinghoffer goes on to point out the single most frustrating aspect of the case for Intelligent Design advocates. "Critics of ID have long argued that the theory was unscientific because it had not been put forward in a peer-reviewed scientific journal," he writes. "Now that it has, they argue that it shouldn't have been because it's unscientific."

But that is nothing more than a straw man. The argument about the unscientific nature of ID was never premised upon the fact that it had not appeared in a peer reviewed journal, but upon the fact that there simply was no theory of intelligent design from which one might derive testable hypotheses and spur research that might confirm or disconfirm the theory. The Meyer article does nothing to change that, as it was solely a review article and the arguments made in it are of a purely negative nature. The argument is essentially, "not evolution, therefore God". But that is an illogical conclusion for many reasons, and it is certainly not anything like a testable theory. What no ID advocate has done, as Nelson admits, is develop an actual theory of intelligent design that could be tested in some way. The only thing they have done is tried to poke holes in evolutionary explanations on the assumption that showing the insufficency of evolution proves that God must have done it. As Nelson had also said in 2002, "There is something deeply dissatisfying about establishing the bona fides of one theory by debunking another. Design simply must put novel predictions of its own on the blackboard."

Until ID advocates actually come up with a theory that makes positive predictions (as opposed to "I predict evolution can't explain this") that can be used to test the veracity of the theory, it will not be taken seriously as a genuine scientific model. Nor does it deserve to be. As another ID advocate, Bruce Gordon has also noted, "inclusion of design theory as part of the standard discourse of the scientific community, if it ever happens, will be the result of a long and difficult process of quality research and publication." That is a process that has barely begun, as Gordon says in that same article, and as a result ID had been "prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world."

Given the inaccuracies in just the first few posts on the supplemental blogs written by contributors and editors, I'd say Crux is not off to a very good start. Perhaps they should spend more time worrying about the truth and less time declaring itself a "bastion of Truth".

115 Comments

Sternberg lost his post at both the museum and the journal, as noted by Bobby Maddex

Maddex likely has some insight into museum operations since his daughter, Alison Maddex, is the well-known parnter of Camille Paglia who serves as the director of the Museum of Sex in NYC.

Isn’t that interesting? I bet Phil Johnson finds it interesting. I saw him wandering Berkeley the other day muttering something about “naturological methodism” into his drool cup.

http://www.salon.com/books/it/col/p[…]T/print.html

http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:wScnWwC—gUJ:www.jobriath.org/paglia/chrono.html+%22robert+maddex%22+alison&hl=en&client=firefox-a

Great White Wonder wrote:

Isn’t that interesting? I bet Phil Johnson finds it interesting. I saw him wandering Berkeley the other day muttering something about “naturological methodism” into his drool cup.

You know, sometimes I wonder why we haven’t just banned you from leaving comments here. More often than not, you offer nothing but vitriol and insults and are an embarrassment to our side, but this one is unnecessarily vicious even for you. The completely pointless reference to Phil Johnson and a “drool cup” is just totally uncalled for, and especially repulsive given the fact that he recently suffered another stroke. We can argue forcefully against the arguments of our opponents without demeaning and dehumanizing them. Consider this your first, last and only warning. Keep up this sort of nastiness and you will no longer be commenting here.

I guess its early days and the mag isn’t on the shelves yet but it hardly looks promising.

Having a quick read of some of their articles and it seems they are pretty desperate for something to say; the ‘Ten Films that Ask the Right Questions’ is a case in point. Completely pointless waste of time evidently bashed out by some hack because they couldn’t think of anything else to write.

If they try and keep up this attempt at ‘being meaningful’ and ‘thinking deep thoughts about important issues and the meaning of life’ kind of posturing stance then it will get tiring pretty quickly. I reckon they need to take themselves a little less seriously and inject some fun. Otherwise their target demographic will switch off quicker than you can describe the current scientific output of the ID movement.

Oh and for a mag that claims to go against trendy orthodoxy, they have a pretty trendy and orthodox looking magazine design. Maybe it has a common ancestor.

The thing that strikes me about this magazine is it’s naïve view of the audience they’re trying to reach. We’re a heck of a lot more saavy and, dare I say it, cynical that these guys appear to think.

Or maybe it’s just me.…

It’s interesting to see how this story gets progressively more distorted as it makes its way from pro-ID writer to pro-ID writer. By the time someone is citing Coleman as a source, they’ll probably have added something about how Sternberg was chased out of the museum by a mob of scientists wielding torches and pitchforks.

Ed

The completely pointless reference to Phil Johnson and a “drool cup” is just totally uncalled for, and especially repulsive given the fact that he recently suffered another stroke.

Ooops! Next time I’ll consult Phil Johnson’s medical charts before making a joke about his intellect and his paranoid beliefs about scientists and their “agenda”! That was my sole intent.

Seriously, I had no idea the guy had a a second stroke, or even a first stroke. Was it reported here? When? I missed it. My bad. A classic faux paux.

And by the way, who else can’t I make jokes about? Which other toxic fundamentalist charlatan creeps must I treat “respectfully” while they work religiously to spread lies about people like me, i.e., scientists who worked their butts off trying to learn something about biology so that we can stop the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of children?

My view is that the real embarassments for “our side,” Ed, are the scientists and non-scientists (e.g., Nathan Newman) who meekly blame the whole “ID” controversy on teachers and teachers for not teaching biology adequately to Americans. The creationism problem has far less to do with ignorance of biology and far more to do with excessive coddling of religious fundamentalists in this country.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a reliable snake handler in my area.

Adam Marczyk Wrote:

It’s interesting to see how this story gets progressively more distorted as it makes its way from pro-ID writer to pro-ID writer. By the time someone is citing Coleman as a source, they’ll probably have added something about how Sternberg was chased out of the museum by a mob of scientists wielding torches and pitchforks.

We’ll still be hearing about this years from now, even if it turns out that none of Sternberg’s allegations were even remotely true. It will appear in one creationist article after another, each of them borrowing it from an earlier creationist source, going all the way back to Crux. Like Darwin’s death bed confession, it’ll never die. Some passion for Truth, no?

Ed Brayton Wrote:

Second, the claim that ID is “a prominent anti-Darwinian theory of origins” is also false. ID is, by the admission of its most forthright advocates, not yet a theory at all.

Nor is it prominent, except in the minds of its own advocates. By my last count, ID had a significant following at (checks calculator…) zero secular universities.

The thing that strikes me about this magazine is it’s naïve view of the audience they’re trying to reach. We’re a heck of a lot more saavy and, dare I say it, cynical that these guys appear to think.

They are trying to reach like-minded people. Except that most people like them aren’t very savvy or cynical. Hmmm.

Ooops! Next time I’ll consult Phil Johnson’s medical charts before making a joke about his intellect and his paranoid beliefs about scientists and their “agenda”! That was my sole intent.

This reminds me of the last scene from Inherit the Wind where Hornbeck is berating Henry Drummond for being nice to Matthew Harrison Brady (recently deceased creationist): Is this “Be-Kind-To-Bigots” Week? Since Brady’s dead, we must be kind? God, how the world is rotten with kindness.”

The creationism problem has far less to do with ignorance of biology and far more to do with excessive coddling of religious fundamentalists in this country.

Sounds a lot like “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason,” where Sam Harris argues that religious “toleration allows a too-easy acceptance of the motives of religious fundamentalists…Religious faith, according to Harris, requires its adherents to cling irrationally to mythic stories of ideal paradisiacal worlds (heaven and hell) that provide alternatives to their own everyday worlds. Moreover, innumerable acts of violence, he argues, can be attributed to a religious faith that clings uncritically to one set of dogmas or another.”

Mr. Reuland noted:

By my last count, ID had a significant following at (checks calculator … ) zero secular universities.

Why do you limit it to secular universities?

By my count, ID has a significant following at zero Christian-affiliated schools, too. I’ve surveyed Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Canisius, Wake Forest, Baylor, Chapman, Vanderbilt, Brigham Young, Marquette, Gonzaga (and looked at Bing Crosby’s Oscar), Abilene Christian, Wheaton, Dallas, Denver, Creighton, Temple, Holy Cross, all the Loyolas I can find, and a couple dozen others – and I have yet to find any of them who teach anything other than Darwin in the biology department. There is no ID course in any biology department in any school I have found, including the lesser religiously-affiliated schools.

Here’s the sad fact: Dover, Pennsylvania’s school board is ordering their high school teachers to pay homage to an idea that no one has fleshed out for teaching to any non-college class, and which is so spectacularly absent on college campuses that no teacher could possibly have been trained in the stuff.

Maybe there is a future for a cold fusion textbook after all!

Does Behe teach ID at Lehigh? Dembski didn’t teach it at Baylor, and I’ll bet it’s not in the catalog at Lexington (or whatever seminary he moved to), either.

If the poobahs and brahmins of ID don’t teach it at their colleges, why should any public school system do what they won’t?

Its not being taught? Must be some sort of naturalistic/atheistic/establishment (delete as appropriate) conspiracy.

GWW wrote

people like me, i.e., scientists who worked their butts off trying to learn something about biology so that we can stop the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of children?

Are you working to ban abortion? Oh no, that would be stopping the unnecessary deaths of millions of children.

Hi Ed,

I didn’t look at every program, but I couldn’t find anything that might contain ID-related materials in the Lehigh catalog. I wonder if Behe is involved with the new bioengineering efforts at Lehigh. If there was ever a “place” for ID,…

Also, Dembski will be working in Louisville, not Lexington.

For the record.

Heddle, my response appears on the Wall.

Ed Darrell Wrote:

By my count, ID has a significant following at zero Christian-affiliated schools, too.

Well, there is Biola, where the IDists have seemingly staked out a home base. And there’s one more college whose name escapes me. And if you include the YEC schools, that adds several (mosty non-accredited) institutions.

David Heddle, since you’re trying to gain the upper hand, I’ll raise it even more (in what is known, in a popular card game around here, as “órdago”). I claim that scientists working from the predictions and studies on the theory of evolution, are working to prevent the deaths of hundreds of millions of people (most children) by using that fearful theory of evilution to develop cures for Malaria and AIDS, responsible between them for that huge number of deaths in poor countries. And to prevent any kind of stupid answer, I worked under Pedro Alonso, who is leading the studies of a promising Malaria vaccine, and I can assure you that without the theory of evolution, that vaccine would have never been developed.

Actually, I don’t know if abortions even get close to the numbers Malaria and AIDS work with, although I rather doubt it. Of course, I doubt abortions get close to road deaths. Or cancer. But since I am not American I won’t get into a fruitless argument over numbers. The theory of evolution saves lives. Certainly far more than the theory of relativity or quantum theory. And an infinite bigger number than ID could save, since the number is 0 (the aliens wanted it so, after all - if the design is flawed, the aliens must have had a reason).

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

One notes that these crusaders for truth do not allow commenting on their blogs, presumably to ensure that said truth never sullies them.

Dave Heddle Wrote:

Are you working to ban abortion? Oh no, that would be stopping the unnecessary deaths of millions of children.

What color is the sky where you live? Since when has banning something done anything but push it beyond society’s control? Banning alcohol spawned Al Capone, banning cocaine spawned Pablo Escobar, what might an abortion ban spawn?

Thomas Jefferson Wrote:

No nation was ever drunk when wine was cheap.

Grey Wolf,

I doubt abortions get close to road deaths. Or cancer. But since I am not American..

Not from America? You must be from another planet. The number of abortions reported to the CDC is on the order of one million per year. This dwarfs the number of children killed by road deaths, AIDs, or cancer.

The theory of evolution saves lives. Certainly far more than the theory of relativity or quantum theory.

Have I argued that genetic research doesn’t save lives? Oh, and by the way, unless all this research is carried out without the use of any solid state devices, including computers, electron microscopes, etc., then QM deserves quite a bit of the credit.

Bill wrote

What color is the sky where you live? Since when has banning something done anything but push it beyond society’s control? Banning alcohol spawned Al Capone, banning cocaine spawned Pablo Escobar, what might an abortion ban spawn?

Just to confirm you are consistent, will you acknowledge that you are gainst a ban on fully automatic assult rifles?

Heddle

Have I argued that genetic research doesn’t save lives?

No, and that is sort of the point. It’d be nice if you pointed that fact out to the anti-science rubes who troll here on a regular basis, but I very rarely hear you chiming in with irrefutable facts about anything.

Women who intentionally abort their own pregnancies are not considered to be child killers, last time I checked. You might be interested in discussing why that is, but I certainly am not. Not here anyway. So please take your irrelevant abortion statistics to your own scarcely read blog, okay, or at least to the Bathroom Wall (where this post belongs as well, I suppose).

Why would the tools deserve the credit? Should I be telling your computer it’s completely wrong instead of you?

David Heddle, I can see that you’ve very carefully omitted what was, in fact, my main point: Malaria. Why don’t you do some research and tell us how many children die from Malaria? Oh, and I am going to call your numbers on AIDS, as I am at it. Best guesstimates I’ve heard give the number of people with AIDS in Africa as 1 in 5 (although goverments are reluctant to give official numbers or even allow studies). AIDS *will* kill all those people. Yes, probably most won’t be children, but they’re still human. While I am touched by the fact that you only care about children, I believe that thousands of millions dead, even if they’re over 14, should be stopped.

In fact, it is certainly you the person who lives in another world, inside your protective coccoon. Please, tell me why I should bother about legal abortions in other countries which I can do nothing about and help you fight the one science that is working on providing a better life for most of the poor world.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

PD: while QT helps build modern computers, I am pretty sure neither of them were really around when Darwin worked, so giving QT the credit for evolution work is not only false, it is stupid beyond words. Might as well say that photography is saviour of mankind because optic mice use it to work and without mice you can’t use a computer, which is always involved in modern work.

The theory of evolution saves lives. Certainly far more than the theory of relativity or quantum theory.

Quantum theory makes modern electronics and chemistry possible.

Why would the tools deserve the credit? Should I be telling your computer it?s completely wrong instead of you?

Grey Wolf compared the theory of evolution to the quantum theory on the basis of how many lives they save. To be consistent, you would have to deny that the theory of evolution deserves any credit either.

while QT helps build modern computers, I am pretty sure neither of them were really around when Darwin worked, so giving QT the credit for evolution work is not only false, it is stupid beyond words. Might as well say that photography is saviour of mankind because optic mice use it to work and without mice you can?t use a computer, which is always involved in modern work.

Modern medicine and genetics weren’t around when Darwin worked, either. These comments are disingenuous – you should leave that sort of thing Heddle, rather than stoop to his level. The fact is that both the theory of evolution and quantum theory contribute significantly to saving lives, and for a biologist to deny the role of QT/QM is rather provincial.

ts said:

Quantum theory makes modern electronics and chemistry possible.

Quantum processes are indeed at the bottom of everything, and so QT explains this - but when you want a working vaccine, you go looking for a biologist/doctor who understands evolution and how to adapt it to your purposes. This is not meant as an attack on QT or even trying to put it down, ts. QT is extremelly important in many fields - including my own - but from the strict “saving lives” point of view, I hope you agree with me that evolution theory has so many scores on his side of the board that every other modern theory (and even most of the old ones) has nothing to do *in that particular arena*.

If you disagree, however, so be it. I’m not here to discuss the relative importance of modern theories, but to learn about evolution. If I bought it up is because any number of trolls are so desperate to destroy evolution theory that they’re willing to condemn most of humanity to death in the process. And that “pisses me off”, I think is the expression you would use.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

The fact is that both the theory of evolution and quantum theory contribute significantly to saving lives, and for a biologist to deny the role of QT/QM is rather provincial

I concede the point. As I said above, I know QT is important. We could split hairs and get heated up about their relative importance, but it would not only be improductive, it would be downright stupid.

Oh, and by the way, I’m sorry if I sounded provincial, but that’s probably because I’m not a biologist. I worked under Pedro Alonso, but not in the labs. I did manage to pick up a little biology here and there, but I do not claim to be an expert (my field is scientific, but not really related to biology). As I said, I’m here to learn. Unfortunately, trolling gets in the way.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf, who hopes there is no bad feeling between him and ts

Grey Wolf,

being a physicist myself, I do not think that playing one scientific discipline against the other is very helpful. But, although QT and relativity are used to directly safe lives (imaging SQUIDS for magnetic scanning or particle accelerators for killing tumors), I doubt that many of my collegues have chosen their field of work due to their wishes to safe lives - curiosity seems to be the main driving force. I would guess that this might be different for biologists studying, say, the evolution of resistant bacteria or antibiotic molds, so you are probably right on this.

About Daves quip concerning anti-abortion activism: The moment so-called pro-lifers invest the same amount of energy in preserving the lifes of disadvantaged children already born as they put into railing against abortion, I will take their claim of caring about anybodies life serious - but even then history does still show that the criminalization of abortion is probably the least effective way possible to actually prevent abortions. Until they do this, they will come across as activist caring only about being right and not about helping anybody.

Tara,

You don’t know now that a supernatural agent didn’t poof up a flagella.

Indeed I don’t. But the evidence suggests one didn’t.

You don’t need to know the origin of a design to figure out how the design works. The flagella won’t change no matter what you believe about its origins. You can believe babies come from a stork and it won’t change the nature of the baby one iota.

No, but it would change the nature of the events surrounding the birth and delivery of the child. To take that (bad) analogy and run with it, what if people truly belived that? Then why bother giving the mother prenatal care? Why study pregnancy at all? That’s my main quibble with those who say intelligent design doesn’t hurt science–it makes studying natural phenomena an exercise in futility, if we are to assume that a “designer” can just step in at any point and perform a 180.

The plain fact of the matter is that the cell exhibits overwhelming appearance of design and the more we know about the more the appearance grows. At some point you admit the obvious and move on. At those point few are even willing to admit the POSSIBILITY of design even when the appearance has become overwhelming.

As has been mentioned, the appearance of design is hardly surprising. What’s lacking is any evidence of design.

Denial is more than just a river in Egypt.

Wow, how original.

There’s nothing unscientific about admitting the obvious. Designers exist in nature. We are living proof of it.

Natural designers exist in nature. There is nothing obvious about the existence of the supernatural designers that would be necessary for ID.

YetAnotherName Wrote:

Here’s what I don’t understand.  Why shouldn’t the cell appear to have been designed?  It has been poked and proded by various natural forces over hundreds of millions of years to allow us to survive right now. 

You’re quite right, the cell should appear “designed” according to Darwinian theory. Cellular features should exist to perform functions that facilitate survivial and reproduction. If they don’t, then natural selection must not have been working very well. That’s the basic problem with the whole “it looks designed” argument. If it was designed by natural selection, then it darn well ought to look designed!

You don’t know now that a supernatural agent didn’t poof up a flagella.

Wow! For a second there I thought DaveScot was arguing the enterocraftic theory of life. Darn.

If it was designed by natural selection, then it darn well ought to look designed!

And, indeed, astonishingly, mindbogglingly, WELL designed, given the amount of time and the number of “trials” involved.

DaveScot Wrote:

No one has observed it changing an invertebrate into a vertebrate.

No one has ever observed a Frenchman changing into a Chinaman.

No one has ever observed a beagle changing into a Great Dane.

No one has ever observed brussle sprouts changing into cabbage.

Clear evidence that these organisms could not have evolved into their present forms from common ancestors.

DaveScot Wrote:

Connect the dots.

That is as fatuous as it is smug. The ‘dots’ are only connected by wild fantasy; the fact that humans tinker with evolved genomes does not, in any way, imply (even with the magical mention of Copernican Mediocrity) that alien genetic engineers, created by supernatural forces, in turn created life on earth. For CM as you mean it to apply, you would have to show that humans create life encoded with all the information necessary to evolve over millions of years, and even then there wouldn’t be anything to connect the dots with. There is no logical connection between those dots. There is no empirical evidence of a connection between those dots. There is only your preconception that design exists, and your layman’s perception that you can see it. Of course, a huge mass of science, replete with evidence and observations and falsifiable (but unfalsified) theory, contradicts you, but faith endures. If you want your faith to be called science, though, you have to do more than insist that other people “connect the dots” for you. At some point you need evidence other than “I can just see it, and scientists are either stupid or dishonest for disagreeing with me.”

DaveScot: You said that genetic engineers were “a commodity”.  From the “evidence” you have posted, it’s obvious that there were no genetic engineers on Earth before the late 20th century.  You haven’t shown any evidence for non-human engineers; while the existence of both human and non-human selection agents has been proven, there are no examples of self-aware selection agents other than humans.

You shall simply have to do better if you hope to out-wit even a junior-high earth sciences class.

DaveScot Wrote:

You can believe babies come from a stork and it won’t change the nature of the baby one iota.

Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that the theory of Scientific Storkism is ready for K-12 science classes.

More humor at the Evolutionary Humor page.

Great White Wonder,

Are you Dr. Scott L. Page by any chance? Your nastiness reminds me of the posts of pantrog, pangloss, and other aliases he has used on the web. Just wondering.

“Homer” wonders

Are you Dr. Scott L. Page by any chance?

I’ve been reading and writing on the Internet for years and Usenet before that. I might have used that Page alias in the past on some other blog. Can you provide me with some examples where “Dr. Page” ripped some uninformed ID peddling creationist rube a new one? That would help to refresh my memory!

Your nastiness reminds me of the posts of pantrog, pangloss, and other aliases he has used on the web. Just wondering.

Since the topic is deja vu and memories of trolls past, Homer, maybe you can you tell me whether DaveScot’s paranoid dissembling unintelligible uninformed dreck reminds of you any other posts you’ve seen on the web?

Oh, and if you have anything to say to rebut my comments as to DaveScot’s honesty and the validity of his arguments in support of so-called “ID theory”, you are welcome to post them now.

I won’t hold my breath, “Homer”. Surprise me by showing that you understand why.

Well, now this is really ironic.

DaveScot said:

Yes, I’ve heard many mutations (pun intended) of the taxonomic artifact argument that boils down to there really aren’t any different forms of life if there were no artifical rules of demarcation.

I ain’t buying that argument. It’s ridiculous on the face of it. There’s a deep and fundamental difference between a protist and a dog, a plant and a dog, a fungi and a dog. It’s not an artifact of the classification system. Please don’t insult my intelligence with such lame arguments. I’m having a difficult time trying to find time to respond to those that aren’t quite so lame.

On the one hand, DaveScot insists that there are real divisions between groups of living things, although earlier he had insisted that those divisions don’t make species if there isn’t some pixie dust from a source he didn’t identify (“bacteria are still bacteria”).

I’ve seen this objection often with regard to the rock-solid evidence of speciation that the Grants, Peter and Rosemary, found among birds on Daphne Major in the Galapagos. The birds changed body size, color, beak shape and length, song, food supply, mating habits, nest style, etc., etc., but were still “just finches.” Incremental changes in birds cannot qualify as speciation, DaveScot’s allies say.

So if we stretch finch’s legs a lot, increase its body mass considerably, change its wing shape, change its feathers, lengthen its neck – it’s still a finch.

Similarly, if we were to take that finch the other direction, shrinking its size by a couple of times, color it green, lengthen its beak, pitch the wings slightly differently, and shorten the neck, it would still be a finch.

So we get a creationist definition of finch that takes in ostriches, on the one hand, and hummingbirds on the other. All “just finches.”

But if we point out that all birds are in fact related, and that the species lines are somewhat arbitrary, DaveScot will tell us that any fool can see that hummingbirds are not ostriches.

And that reveals the real claims of creationists: No matter what the evidence is, whatever an “evolutionist” says is wrong.

Sometime, perhaps, we should pull a Bugs Bunny on creationists and deny that evolution occurs. They’d contradict that, probably under oath, to every schoolboard in the land.

Friz Freleng Wrote:

Sometime, perhaps, we should pull a Bugs Bunny on creationists and deny that evolution occurs. They’d contradict that, probably under oath, to every schoolboard in the land.

Afterwards, Dembski’s bow tie would spin around in circles, and steam would shoot out of Behe’s ears.

http://stephenville.tamu.edu/~fmitc[…]s/t_1176.htm

Look at the bee that just flew out of DaveScot’s bonnet.

I notice that DaveScot also makes the interesting claim that he knows design when he sees it. In which case I challenge him to partition the English countryside into the designed and the undesigned. It cannot be done, because, as has not yet been emphasized in these threads, some designed things do not show any ‘evidence’ of being designed. In all cases, we either see the designer and thus verify that we have design or we infer design from having previously noted the output of known designers. There are no, repeat no, guaranteed markers of design other than the existence of a designer.

cheers, Shirley Knott

GWW,

Your colleagues at Norwich might be interested to see what a nasty sob you are. I remember a similar, discustingly tactless comment you made at www.arn.org some years back about a person shortly after his death. That comment got you banned there. Remember? You should be banned from here as well. However, you are good for the ID camp.

DaveScot Wrote:

If it looks like a design and acts like a design it’s probably a design. End of ID lessons. Big deal.

Exactly. However there are two ways one can go from that point. One is to ask how the designer does it, in which case we are back to evolution. The other is to ignore the important, and only scientifically meaningful, questions about how the designer does it, and see how many ways one can use “design” to misrepresent evolution and get the audience to infer their favorite discredited origins myth.

“Homer” sidesteps the straightforward comments and calls me an sob! Granted, name-calling is far easier than rebutting the evidence that DaveScot has an unfortunate tendency to dissemble, fabricate, and recite creationist gobblygook. But please, if you are going to resort to name-calling, at least you could try to stray from the toothless names you hear on prime-time network TV.

And maybe make sure you have the right woman first! God forbid that “Dr. Page” and I aren’t wearing the same high heels.

However, you are good for the ID camp.

Really? I suppose that’s true if the “ID camp” enjoys having its fires stomped out and its tents torn apart into postage-stamp size pieces. Because that’s what’s happened over the course of the last year or so, at least from my perspective, and it’s not because anyone here was “respectful” to the ID campers.

Try visiting your closest National Forest and dumping your toxic waste on the campground, then lighting it on fire. You’ll learn very quickly how “respectfully” certified nuts are treated in the United States.

Oh, but Phil Johnson is just a nice guy minding his own business, right? He never wanted to start any fires or upset any apple carts, right, “Homer”?

Again, I look forward to reading a substantive comment from you which supports the claim that “ID theory” is not a bogus unscientific mysteroius alien-invoking pile of rhetorical garbage.

That is one of the subject’s of concern to this blog. That, and the fact that the people who peddle ID theory to children are dissembling slippery cretins funded by a conservative thinktank. Just because their HIV-denying philosophical leader had a couple strokes doesn’t change the fact that his ideas reek of dead-end religious fundamentalism. If Johnson paid any attention to what his alleged messiah allegedly said, he’d apologize to Americans for his ill-considered lies about science.

Do you suppose that’s going to happen, “Homer”? I doubt it. These guys are rotten to the core.

In What Evolution Is, Mayr says that he decided there was something to the species concept when the natives had the same number of names for the birds in a large collection of his, as he had species names for them, give or take 1.

steve Wrote:

In What Evolution Is, Mayr says that he decided there was something to the species concept when the natives had the same number of names for the birds in a large collection of his, as he had species names for them, give or take 1.

Stephen J. Gould had an essay titled, A Quahog is a quahog, in which he makes the same point. Indigenous peoples often have unique names that correspond nicely to species as determined by biologists. This is, I think, a valid argument for saying that species, unlike higher taxa, are real entities. At least when it comes to common animals – it’s much harder to justify with bacteria and such.

However, since creationists identify “kinds” as being at some (who knows what) higher taxonomic level than species, this doesn’t help them any.

Jane, you ignorant slut.

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All DaveScot knows is that he is so impressed by what he believes that scientists have discovered that he simply can’t believe that scientists have actually discovered what scientists claim to have discovered.

Lacking the English skills to articulate his knowledge, Dave instead just makes up the garbage as he goes along. It’s therefore no surprise that he has trouble keeping track of what things he finds too incredible to believe verus what things he believes are known but which make other things too incredible to believe.

Dissembling well takes a lot of practice. Allegedly “retired” patronizing hacks like Dave need to work extra hard to keep their chops up. We all agree that is tiresome watching them flounder. Maybe Dave should practice debunking the heliocentric theory on physics blogs before playing his hand here where we’ve seen the schtick so many times before.

Dave, let me know if you need printouts of these threads to mail to your family, your “friends” in your neighborhood association, and of course your high school alums! I’ve got extras. “LOL”!!!!!!!!!

Jeff Low Wrote:

Since there are only two possible ways that we could have arrived here, proving that one way is impossible automatically proves the alternative to be true.

Evolution, God, and space aliens makes at least three ways, and there are many others. But no one has any proof that any of these is impossible.

It?s kind of like proving that there are an infinite number of prime numbers. First, we assume that there a finite number of primes. Then by showing that this is impossible, we prove that there are an infinite number of primes.

No, we do no such thing. First we assume that there’s a greatest prime. Then we show that, if so, there’s an even greater prime. From this we can conclude that there is no greatest prime. And this is a deductive proof, whereas origins are an empirical matter.

I know that somebody will reply that there is some unimaginable ?third way?. Please don?t waste board space with such garbage.

That’s funny coming from a worthless piece of troll garbage like yourself.

That is a crushingly bad web site.

Tony, I bet you practiced that line for weeks before getting up the courage to post it.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on February 8, 2005 11:13 AM.

Don’t forget: Tangled Bank tomorrow was the previous entry in this blog.

Tangled Bank turns 21 is the next entry in this blog.

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