Kansas Evolution Hearings

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After several failed attempts to get “intelligent design” into the Kansas Science Standards via regular channels, it appears that the Kansas Board of Education (which gained a 6-4 conservative majority last November) has settled on a plan to have six days of hearings, with equal time given to evolution and intelligent design. On the table are 20+ pages of revisions to the high school science standards, proposed by the Kansas Intelligent Design Network. These revisions systematically redefine science to include the supernatural (see the proposed revisions). The IDNet proposals were rejected by the Board of Education’s own appointed science standards committee (made up of Kansas scientists and educators), and were also rejected by 12 independent scientists who reviewed the proposed revisions the reviews are up on the Kansas Department of Education website).

According to one scientist who contacted NCSE, the Kansas Department of Education is beginning to contact scientists around the country and invite them to participate in the hearings, all expenses paid. The suspicion is that an equal number of “intelligent design” proponents from the Discovery Institute are going to be invited to testify as if they were equally credible experts.

The veteran pro-science group in Kansas, Kansas Citizens for Science, is recommending that scientists and educators boycott these hearings. They are calling the hearings a “Kangaroo Court”, with a predetermined conclusion, and they argue that the Board of Education is attempting to devise an ad hoc justification to override the conclusions of their own science standards committee and of the independent reviewers.

For a summary of recent events in Kansas, see NCSE.

Updates and position statements on the KCFS website.

KCFS Position Press Release 3-3-05.

KCFS Resolution concerning the “Science Hearings”

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Well written piece in the WaPo concerning evolution and Intelligent Design Creationism. David Berlinski is babbling on about evolution again. Berlinski once wrote a wonderful book called A Tour of the Calculus which brought the progenitors of Calculus ... Read More

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My search of the science literature -

http://www.geocities.com/lclane2/idlit.html

From this search one can easily calculate the appropriate ratio of evolutionary scientists to IDers. The committee should be informed of (hammered with) the ratio.

For those who don’t know science literature, if they bring in a single ID speaker, the hearing should include several months worth of testimony from evolutionary biologists.

I think we might be missing the point here. The ID people are looking to win. The evolutionists want to be proven right. Both might get their wish, which is scary as hell. The ID people recognize that they can’t argue on scientific grounds (I think the Soviets were the last society that attempted to legislate scientific truth) so they appeal to “fairness”, a fundamental American value. I personally think that spending a lot of time trying to refute these people in a classic scientific contest of ideas in front of school boards will eventually grant the ID crowd the one critical victory it needs to claim a precedent and really start steamrolling reason. Far better it might seem to use the fairness argument against ID. After all, if it’s only fair to claim that evolution is a theory then it’s equally fair to ask the ID people to produce their evidence. Where is their data?

The ID movement has staked its claim to legitimacy (suspend your disbelief please) on the idea that they are not pushing a theological agenda but are in fact, serious scientists. Point taken. And that makes their claim open to charges of being patently “unfair” in terms of it concentrating its energies on casting doubt on evolution without offering any evidence in return.

Remember that Scopes was made immortal because Clarence Darrow openly debated William Jennings Bryan in a public trial. Notwithstanding the final decision of the court, Darrow’s performance ensured for that time at least, the anti-evolution forces were localized and not a national force. Unfortunately, times have changed and the ID movement is trying and to extent succeeding in going national.

Perhaps it would do well for a progressive philanthropist teamed with a conservative philanthropist to fund a nationally televised series of debates. I’d like Dawkins or Dennett to represent Darwinians. Think about it. Darwinism is being attacked under the blanket of fairness, which when you think about it is a selective pressure. What better way to adapt to a new environment than to challenge the opposition to a good old fashioned debate, perhaps in Dayton Tennessee. After all, it’s only *fair*.

I think there are some fires that are best left to burning themselves out, but this in not one of them. The amount of media attention already given to this debacle requires (forces, obligates, whatever) a presence of some kind. The issue here is the national spotlight rather than Kansas Board of Education decision, which seems to be a lost cause at this stage. The IDers are going to get the media coverage they want anyway, whether the scientific community is present or not. We ought to be focusing our attention on the inevitable media onslaught, and strategically place those who can present a strong, cogent, and convincing case for science in the face of every reporter there, and contact the national media outlets (Nightline, The Today Show, Good Morning America, etc.) and offer our expertise – a preemptive strike.

John Gauntt Wrote:

then it’s equally fair to ask the ID people to produce their evidence. Where is their data?

That still allows the IDC people to play their unequal = equal games. The “evidence” that the IDC people use is chosen first to persuade non-scientists. If any of it makes for reasonable scientific evidence, then it’s a happy coincidence. They don’t hold themselves to scientific standards of evidence, but they’re counting on people not understand the difference, or not to care.

Les Lane Wrote:

For those who don’t know science literature, if they bring in a single ID speaker, the hearing should include several months worth of testimony from evolutionary biologists.

And some people wonder why scientists are boycotting the hearings!

If scientists are truly concerned about correcting the widespread public misunderstanding of the scientific enterprise, they should avoid these “(un)balanced” hearings at all costs. Participation by scientists in the hearings would only serve to confuse the public, falsely legitimizing ID in the eyes of those who don’t take the time to listen to and understand the evidence presented.

Don’t get me wrong. As a Kansas science teacher, I think educating the public about science should be a top priority. But the BOE doesn’t bother to play by its own rules, so why should we expect scientists to jump through their hoop?

For those who don’t know science literature, if they bring in a single ID speaker, the hearing should include several months years worth of testimony from evolutionary biologists.

I apologize careless estimate.

I like Buridan’s idea about a pre-emptive strike but if we’ve learned anything from last year, it’s that people in this country at least, want to see the two sides together on one stage. Otherwise, they discount or amplify whichever side is talking at a given point. That’s why I think making a public appeal to scientific “fairness” might do the trick. Basically, call the Discovery Institute’s bluff and invite the BBC along with those major news outlets to cover it. There’s plenty of people out there who, I’m sure, are uncomfortable with the idea of an ID/Darwin smack-down. But the fundamental fact is that the right wing has perfected the art of feigned victimhood that it broadcasts through well oiled media outlets. What people need to see is the hollowness of ID’s underpinnings when subjected to true scientific inquiry — IN REAL TIME. That would be my dream. Ah well.

Buridan Wrote:

We ought to be focusing our attention on the inevitable media onslaught, and strategically place those who can present a strong, cogent, and convincing case for science in the face of every reporter there, and contact the national media outlets (Nightline, The Today Show, Good Morning America, etc.) and offer our expertise – a preemptive strike.

Without divulging too much information, I can assure you that a counter strategy is already in the works. Right now, it looks like funding will be one of the biggest issues. Because of the boycott, the science defenders will be working for free.

On the other hand, the well-funded Discovery Institute could easily pay to send its team to Kansas. Unfortunately, because of the Board’s resolution, the ID folks will get to visit the great state of Kansas on taxpayer money.

Maybe the boycott should be supported for economic reasons. Not only would testifying at the hearings be a complete waste of time for a scientist, it would also be a complete waste of Kansas taxpayers’ money. In any case, this situation adds an interesting twist to the notion that ID supporters are taking advantage of a government handout.

That very good to hear. Thanks Jeremy. If there’s anything I can do to help please let me know.

On the other hand, the well-funded Discovery Institute could easily pay to send its team to Kansas. Unfortunately, because of the Board’s resolution, the ID folks will get to visit the great state of Kansas on taxpayer money.

Doesn’t the Kansas Constitution prevent the state from financing particular religious beliefs? The U.S. Constitution does.

Someone ought to sue: The State Board of Education can’t finance ID advocates until they prove in court that they have real science on their side. The standards were set out in McLean v. Arkansas, and they were the basis of the summary judgment against the “equal time” requirements Louisiana had legislated in Edwards v. Aguillard. Judge Overton pointed to where creationists could practice science, if they wanted to substantiate the claim that creationism is science. It is exactly those things that ID advocates refuse to do, and which the Kansas board now presumes to wink at.

If there is science in intelligent design, or in claiming Darwin goofed, let the evidence be brought forward as science. And if not, it’s religion, and a presentation of religion should not be sanctioned under Kansas law.

You’ll never convince someone who is anti-science–who thinks it’s all a liberal plot to undermine the sanctity of the Bible, basically–with a ‘cogent and convincing case.’ People who respond to cogent and convincing already understand the shortcomings of ID.

What I’d like to see, instead of -that- national media campain, is -this- national media campaign: “Intelligent Design says that some otherworldly intelligence designed life, but they don’t claim God created the universe–so this is a just a backdoor … for Satan! Unless they’re willing to say God is the Creator, they’re demon-worshippers, and do you want your children learning -that-???”

(Yes, the national media campaign should include three question marks.)

Les Lane Wrote:

From this search one can easily calculate the appropriate ratio of evolutionary scientists to IDers. The committee should be informed of (hammered with) the ratio.

Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%.

The committee should be informed of (hammered with) the ratio of atheists among NAS scientists.

This isn’t about science. It’s about religion. Specifically atheist scientists against theist parents. Science should be agnostic but it has been hijacked by a bunch of lying atheists. It’s disgusting.

Ed Darrell Wrote:

Someone ought to sue:

There ya go. The last bastion of failed atheist theories. When the empirical evidence is overwhelmingly against you, resort to the establishment clause to censor the evidence.

Truly disgusting.

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Consensus Science

To those of you who think that the ratio of IDers to neo-Darwinists in the credentialied halls of science means a lot, consider this…

Doctor Michael Crichton Wrote:

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

The committee should be informed of (hammered with) this basic truism about science.

Okay, I’ll bite.

DaveScot Wrote:

No one has ever observed mutation/selection to create a 1) novel body type 2) novel tissue type 3) novel organ

Dave, care to back up this statement with a comprehensive survey of not only all biological research ever preformed but of the unpublished experiences of everyone who has ever lived? Of course, you should not forget to define the terms at the center of your statement: “observed” and “novel.” You can do this can’t you? After all why would you make such an absolute statement if you can’t support it.

Reed,

Thanks for your invitation. I did a comprehensive survey and found no reproducible observations of mutation/selection creating a

1) novel body type 2) novel tissue type 3) novel organ

I did, however, find much agreement about the reason for the absolute dearth of observations - mutation/selection works too slowly to observe these things in real time.

I question that thinking as the punctuated equilibrium theory says that mutation/selection can act very quickly. Moreover, dogs have been bred by humans for 20,000 years for unique traits that would never survive the natural selection process, thus dramatically increasing the odds of a creative mutation event, and not a single instance of a novel body type, novel tissue type, or novel organ has appeared in any dog.

The alternative explanation for the complete lack of empirical evidence in support of mutation/selection’s power to create novel body types, tissue types, and organs is, of course, that it doesn’t have that power. I feel that, at the least, the possibility that mutation/selection does not have this imagined creative power, should be presented in any discussion of evolution. Honesty requires such a disclosure.

Feel free to expose any reproduceable observations of mutation/selection creating a novel body type, novel tissue type, or novel origin that I may have missed in my comprehensive survey.

Guys don’t take this wrong.…

But if any of the speakers argue like the evolutionists on PT you will lose.

There are real issues with evolution that any credible agnostic will acknoledge.

Its only the athiests that claim BS like its a fact, never been wrong etc etc etc.

If you overstate you case and get caught you lose…

Most of you have an image of the opposition in your head of some hillbilly with a gradeschool education.

There are real weaknesses in evolution, real unexplained, open perplexing weaknesses. If you sell the image that there are not all that needs to be done is clearly show in a way the comman man can see that you are lying, either our of ignorance or malice.

Argueing from a fairness aspect due to evolution not being strong enough to preclude any other form of reasoning on the matter of creation a fair to average debater with a biology background could bring you all to your knees.

Exibit 1 What are the odds of a human self assembling.…4^4300000000:1 against.

Exibit 2 How many times has speciation been observed? 0,1,2,3 you are still in trouble with small numbers that are contested.

Exibit 3 False claims of evolution in textbooks from the 70s. Surely you know that this is a killer.

Exibit 4 Evolution/SETI claims regarding the likelyhood of life on other planets. Again proven largely false and currently discredited by better reasoned science.

Exibit 5 What percentage of evolutionists are athiests? Is there or is there not a evolution site called nogod?

Come on you guys have to see this comming by this point…

Reed A., No one has ever observed DaveScot 1) Reading the relevant literature (or even related literature) 2) Admitting a mistake (although many, many have been pointed out at him) 3) Answering perfectly easy challenges to his hopeful hypothesis

It is only a pity that we can’t really conclude that he doesn’t exist. Say what you will about creationism (I usually do ::grin:: ) but think of how wonderful is a world in which anything that bothers you can be concluded to not exist without needing to use logic, proof or even common sense!

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

DaveScot Wrote:

I did a comprehensive survey

Really? Care to show us your methods and results? How many papers did you look through before you formed your conclusion? Surely with a comprehensive survey you’ve keep detailed records. How did you ever manage to check on the experiences of everyone, who has ever lived, to conclude that no one has ever observed something? Even if you managed to find a time machine, I’m very curious what cutoff you used to determine when you had checked everyone who has ever lived. That is the type of survey design issue that has me scratching my head.

Oh yeah, you still haven’t defined “observed” and “novel,” the terms at the center of your statement. I guess it just slipped your mind.

Reed,

I almost forgot about your request for a definition of terms.

observed

If you don’t know what an observation in science is you can glean an understanding from the following link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observ[…]tific_Method

novel

This one is a little more involved. I’m an accomplished inventor and am using “novel” in that sense. Some background of that context can be found at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent#Novelty

However, examples work even better.

Examples of novel body types can be found at the root of this tree:

http://www.tolweb.org/tree/

Novel tissue types would include the array of known types that descend from stem cells during ontogeny:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cells

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_tissue

Novel organ typew would include the array of known types that are formed during ontogeny:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_%28anatomy%29

I hope this helps. I sometimes overestimate my audience and assume that when I use terms such as novel, body, tissue, and organ that the reader will have an immediate and unambiguous understanding of these terms in an anatomical context.

Reed Wrote:

Care to show us your methods and results?

Nope, I don’t care to. But feel free to give me one example of mutation/selection being observed creating a

1) novel body type 2) novel tissue type 3) novel organ

which would serve to cast doubt upon my method and result.

Best of luck!

Dave, I followed your first link and found this defination of ‘observe’:

To observe is the process of filtering sensory information through the thought process. Input is received via hearing, sight, smell, taste, or touch and then analyzed through either rational or irrational thought. You see a man beat his wife; you observe that such an action is either right or wrong.

The defining characteristic of observation is that it involves drawing conclusions, as opposed to simply registering that something has happened.

Do you agree with this defination?

Now your defination of “novel” with respect to biology is perplexing. It seems that you have defined a “novel” biological feature as an already existing feature, e.g. known tissue types are novel tissue types. I would have never considered this defination, but I’m glad you have made it clear to me.

DaveScot Wrote:

Nope, I don’t care to. But feel free to give me one example

Since you have declined to share your methods and results with me, I will have to reject your statement as unsupported. I am confident that you will agree with my decision since it is standard scientific practice to reject unsupported statements.

And finally, I feel no obligation to bother countering an unsupported statement.

davescot Wrote:

This isn’t about science. It’s about religion. Specifically atheist scientists against theist parents. Science should be agnostic but it has been hijacked by a bunch of lying atheists. It’s disgusting.

As opposed to school lessons being hijacked by a bunch of lying Bible-ists?

And here’s the rub. It’s not supposed to be about religion. On the one hand we have a theory that everything’s evolved over a couple of billion years through the accumulation of changes. On the other hand we have an idea that everything was “designed” by an unspecified “intelligent designer”

Nope, no religion in there. If you’re going to bring religion into it, then its not science and should not be taught in science classes.

Every other scientific theory has managed to get into school lessons though people investigating it, publishing papers, having them reviewed, and then being generally accepted. Why should ID be different? What’s so cool about your theory that it can skip all the established scientific routes and go straight to being taught in schools without any of the intervening stages? Where’s the Research? Where are the predictions? Where’s the uses? All I see is a bunch of lawsuits.

This isn’t about science. It’s about religion. Specifically atheist scientists against theist parents. Science should be agnostic but it has been hijacked by a bunch of lying atheists. It’s disgusting.

You are saying that science done by atheists is invalid because science then itself is atheist(-ic?). Well. If so, and if the First Amendment is followed, that necessarily means that no science, in fact nothing is allowed to be teached in public schools, since everyone holds a religious view (including atheists) and this means that everything endorses a religion in one way or the other. Groovy. It also means that you have to check the religious background of every single artist before you go to the museum, because their paintings could be atheist. That’s a lot of work…

DaveScot Wrote:

Nope, I don’t care to. But feel free to give me one example of mutation/selection being observed creating a

1) novel body type 2) novel tissue type 3) novel organ

Well, for 1) we have our Mutant Sheep, there is also Spartina, a new species of grass with a new body form, the reconstruction of wheat and corn form their primitive ancestors, a crustacean with a new, experimentally induced body form, etc. etc.

2) What is a novel tissue type? If you look at the tissues of mammals, they are very minor modifications of tissues in reptiles, which are in turn minor modifications of tissues in amphibians, which in turn are minor modifications of tissues in lungfish, which in turn are minor modifications of tissues in chondricthyes, which are in turn minor modifications of tissues in agnathans, which in turn are minor modification of tissues in amphioxis, which in turn are modifications of tissues in invertebrates on so on until we get to unicellular eukaryotes. Mutation and natural selection have been shown to produce the degrees of minor variation that produce the transitions between these tissue types.

3) What is a novel organ? The mammalian 4 chamber heart is a minor modification of the reptilian 3 ½ chamber heart, which is a modification of the amphibian 3chamber heat, which is a modification of the lungfish heart, which is a modification of the agnathan two chamber heart, which is a modification of the paired contractile aorta of amphioxis, which is a modification of the single contractile aorta of the hemichordates an so on. Mutation and natural selection have been shown to produce the degrees of minor variation that produce the transitions between these organ types.

Perhaps learning something about biology might be helpful?

What? DaveScot learn something?? Preposterous! Why should he bother to learn something when he can make stuff up. Dave’s World, only in the mind of Dave… He, after all, just told us that he can make any unsupported claim that he wants, and to him, it is real.

Oh, and Dave, here’s a hint: All an agnostic is, is an atheist who twiddles his thumb, and can’t make up his mind about anything. Furthermore, all atheists are agnostics. Agnosticism means that no reasonable evidence of the supernatural has been shown to exist, and thus there could be a god or not. Atheism means that no reasonable evidence of the supernatural has been shown to exist, and thus a reasonable person concludes that no god exists, unless later shown evidence for a god. You see the difference?

And one final clue for you Dave: Since you are so fond of unsupported claims; here’s one I will make for you. I will claim that you, DaveScot, are not a real person, only a computer algorithm that spits out mad libs and the same tired claim. Your “novelty” claim is wearing thin, time to update your library of mad libs.

At least David Heddle knows a little about science (physics) and works his IDism from different angles, you can’t even claim that, for you its cut and paste this:

But feel free to give me one example of mutation/selection being observed creating a

1) novel body type 2) novel tissue type 3) novel organ

My father still owns a 70s-style leisure suit, but he quit wearing it years ago. Don’t you think its time to put yours away??

I look forward to your continually posting the same unsupported claim ad infinitum in this and all future threads. Well not really.

Dear Panda’s Thumb contributors*,

After a great deal of thread-reading and even the occasional posting, I have come to the conclusion that there is a plague of trolls here. In the fashion of rabbit-fox population curves, it is clear that they must be getting a lot of good food at the moment.

It is a well-established practice that one should not feed trolls (and as Ian Musgrave can attest, I’ve certainly learned that the hard way on another list). In general, the purpose of not feeding trolls is simply to improve the SN ratio and reduce blood pressure.

In this case, however, I feel it goes beyond maintaining the integrity of the comments tracking on PT. The trolls here cannot be motivated by a desire to learn, because they refuse to. They cannot be here to persuade anyone else, because they are clearly not successful in such regard. They can’t be here for any other reason than causing irritation to people they dislike, and one can only wonder if they are not partly motivated by a desire to cause as much time-wasting as possible among people whom they see as enemies of the state.

I strongly advise a non-troll-feeding strategy. It’s not just good for Panda’s Thumb. It frees up time to do something useful. Don’t waste time answering questions that were never asked with the intention of communicating or learning. Stop breeding bunnies and the troll population will crash.

regards, Chris

*I use the term advisedly.

davescot Wrote:

This isn’t about science. It’s about religion. Specifically atheist scientists against theist parents. Science should be agnostic but it has been hijacked by a bunch of lying atheists. It’s disgusting.

Another thought: As you state that the value of science is defined via the religious view of the scientist, there is a nice example of that mindset in history. Ever heard of “Deutsche Physik”? I suppose that you are fervently supporting that, since quantum mechanics was mainly developed by jews.

Somebody ought to check the IP’s of these posts to see if it isn’t DaveScot feeding on himself.

Please, someone moderate these threads.

I find the entire charade in Kansas to be mystifying. Public bodies most places follow large bodies of rules and procedures to ensure that the body gets appropriate advice and no minority party with a personal agenda can co-opt the system and hijack the process. Yet, that seems to be what has happened. The Kansas BOE is ignoring its lawfully appointed advisory board, has run rough shod over its own rules, has violated what I gather are the opening meeting laws in Kansas, and in general behaved just like a provincial Communist party committee in the old Soviet Union. They’ve chosen the results in advance, stacked the deck to achieve the results they seek, and will shortly crow how their “open and democratic” process has achieved success for the children of Kansas. Surely they must have transgressed one or more Kansas laws and violated whatever oath they took upon assuming their seats on the state BOE. I would hope the Kansas Citizens for Science are now planning a PR assault throughout the state to be followed by legal action to seek redress. The entire episode is a travesty on a open society.

Hi all. I have a slightly different type of observation to make. If you read the proposed standards you will note how the standars attempt to hijack modern epistemological debates to deconstruct evolutionary theory. Some of this is downright disengenuous-such as citing Ken Miller, Michael Ruse to support the concept of design and teleology in nature, and Ernst Mayr to support the premise that evolution isn’t real science because it constructs narratives and deals with the past. The units on earth sciences do the same thing.

Boycotting these panels has some attraction, but in two cases (Ruse and Miller) perhaps their showing up and pointing out their views are being misreprsented (even if subtly) could be quite powerful.

The strategy seems designed to be twofold: 1) convince students that evolution and earth science aren’t real sciences; 2) convince students that there might be an alternative called “design”.

By the standards of modern debates on epistemology, the standards interestingly, get it about 80% right. The 20% they omit however is significant.

What they omit is that the narratives historical sciences construct can be put at risk and discredited. Even if you can’t perform controlled experiments you can still discredit a theory. Evolution and earth science have not been discredited, but in fact, continue to be well supported.

That should be in the standards.

A third point should be in the standards. Even if we cannot prove historical sciences “true” (or any science for that matter) we still have to judge theories that are well supported and predict novel facts against theories that fail. Students should be taught that the design research program was the research program that dominated science in Darwin’s day. That research program was discarded, along with other teleological based theories of evolution for any number of reasons. Today, people are trying to revive it but have yet to offer any credible body of scientific research.

Finally, in spite of the long rant I can’t help but make a last final point. The interpretation they offer of historical narratives is similar in many respects to soft versions of post modernism (reference Hayden White for example). Perhaps students should be taught to distinguish between science and literary criticism?

I really would like to address the troll-posting on this site. I think that the creationists posting here misunderstand just how off-base they are. They truly are not interacting in a commensurable manner with the evolutionists/scientists here on the comment board. There is really no point to it at all. This is not to say that an entrenched, successful, and immenently verified consensus such as contemporary evolution is not amenable to drastic new research or internal and external queries; but it is to say that such challenges to the currently accepted wisdom would have to appeal to the tradition in a way that would compel attention. Science, like history and philosophy, requires a certain amount of conservatism in order to establish such impressive explanatory power as evolutionary theory. One doesn’t jump around considering wildly off-base explanations when a research plan is working, and working incredibly well. So, I would ask the creationists here to just bugger off. There may be radical challenges ahead for evolutionary theory, but they are assuredly not coming from the religious quarter. The battle the creationists want so badly cannot be met on the field of science; if they want war, it will have to be over funding and free speach…or else brute force, for they’ve nothing to offer science, and actually cannot have anything to offer science. (Which does not, of course, preclude religious fundamentalists or moderate Episcopalians, or even psychopathic sexual predators from making significant contributions to science.)

I agree with Gary Hurd that Jason hit the nail squarely on the head. It seems like a no-win situation no matter how you stack it. If we show, there is a controversy and the kangaroo court goes forward. If we don’t, then they deride evolution for not having the guts to show up. The problem lies in scientists having the play by their rules as they set them up. IDists have already done a magnificent job in co-opting certain language (taking a page from Republicans who made “liberal” a dirty word) and we have really been playing catch-up here. We have to catch up when they offer up their lies and correct the mistakes. By that point, they’ve offered up 3 more at least.

I’m very interested in Jeremy Mohn’s ominous sounding “counter-strategy” but it must be pro-active and take the fight to them, as well as start to frame terms, arguments, and venues on our terms in order to be effective.

Clearly, an event is being organized whose outcome has nothing to do with anything scientific. An old friend of mine was DA in a little rural town with one stoplight and one gas station. At the height of the energy crisis, with long lines everywhere, someone from out of town pulled into this gas station just as they were closing. The owner/operator of the station was by that hour quite drunk, was saving his gas for the locals, and refused to serve this customer. There was a heated argument, and the gas station owner waved a tire iron around in a threatening manner. The stranger left.

The next day, the stranger returned to file assault charges against the station owner. There was a jury trial. The gas station owner, by now sober, admitted he did everything he was accused of and apologized. But the penalty was a month in jail, during which the gas station would be closed! And the nearest gas station was 60 miles up the road. So the jury (of local residents) deliberated for a minute or two, decided the gas station owner was lying and that the event never happened, and that was the end of the case.

The Kansas BOE is engineering the equivalent of that case, anticipating the same results. Do we really think people will behave any different when their faith is threatened, as when their gasoline supply is threatened? Do the facts matter? Why are we discussing body types? The majority of the BOE are creationists because the majority of the electorate are creationists. USE them!

The idiots at the Board of Education in Kansas that are writing these standards were elected by even more dim-witted idiots. They are in these positions based on their popularity and not by academic qualification. To even raise this issue is reflective of the need for some serious remedial education in the scientific method on the part of those Board members who are even remotely considering putting intelligent design in the science classroom.

Science has nothing to say about the supernatural or God or an intelligent designer one way or another. Most of the experts on the intelligent design (religious) side of the issue did not even bother reading the material they were testifying on. I would bet that absolutely none of them have ever read Darwin’s Origin of the Species or Descent of Man. And those that did probably haven’t figured out that a lot has happened since the 1800’s.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on March 14, 2005 8:59 PM.

Berlinski: I can’t believe I’m wasting time on this guy. was the previous entry in this blog.

Dembski and “No Free Lunch”, Reprise is the next entry in this blog.

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