Should we Teach ID in Schools?

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There’s a post on ID over on Political Animal written by guest blogger Brad Plumer, who is apparently filling in for Kevin Drum. He gives us a nice plug, mentioning that he hasn’t seen us before and didn’t know that there are scientists who do indeed take the effort to address the claims of the ID movement. (Kevin though has seen us before - he linked to us on our second day of existence, nearly a year ago, sending us a much welcomed flood of traffic right from the start.) We certainly do put a fair amount of effort into rebutting the claims of the ID movement, quite successfully in my opinion, but of course that hasn’t stopped them or even seem to have slowed them down much. And that’s partly why I would like to address Plumer’s main point that perhaps (just maybe) we should concede the ID advocates’ push to get their ideas taught in public school science classes alongside evolution. Plumer writes:

Still, when the Washington Post today headlines the coming battle over creationism in the classroom, I wonder if a slight retreat by the reality-based community on evolution might not in fact be the best tactic, in order to vanquish the ID silliness in the long term. Really.

and later…

What I’m saying, essentially, is that if ID is truly as ridiculous as we all think it is, then why not shove it on the stage and force it to cluck around in public?

This is not an unreasonable sounding idea. Others have come up with it before, notably Richard Dawkins, who once stated something to the effect that we should spend the ten minutes it would take to rebut creationism and then move on. Unfortunately, things are not that simple. Let me explain why this probably isn’t a good idea.

The real problem with this approach can be found within Plumer’s own post. He links to an article in The New York Times which states that many teachers around the country are too intimidated to teach evolution. As a result, evolution gets poor treatment if it gets treated at all. Why are teachers being intimidated? Because there exists a great deal of animosity towards evolution, the same animosity that drives the ID movement. So here we see that even with the curriculum standards on our side, a large fraction of teachers – perhaps even the majority – are already doing the creationists’ bidding. Under circumstances such as these, is it reasonable to expect that the scientific side will get a fair hearing once we drop our guard and let the creationists have their way with the curriculum? Would they just roll over and let teachers go out of their way for ten minutes to skewer ID and then move on? I don’t think so.

The creationist M.O. is not to have a debate with the normal objective standards of discourse that those of us in the “reality based” community take for granted. Indeed, the belief in such objective standards is what makes us “reality based” to begin with – the other guys aren’t even on the same playing field. (And let me quickly point out that what I’m about to say does not apply universally to all creationists, just most of them in my experience.) The creationist strategy is to toss out lots of false or misleading antievolutionist claims, most of them consisting of slick sounding one-liners that cannot be rebutted with a simple sentence, but rather require a fair amount of time and background knowledge in order to counter. This is especially true of the ID proponents, who have taken the additional move of excising any positive claims from their so-called theory that might themselves be open to criticism. Hence, when Plumer says that “ID essentially gives away the game from the start, when it says that microevolution can happen but not speciation,” he’s wrong. ID doesn’t say anything about microevolution, or speciation, or even how old the Earth is. Individual ID advocates differ greatly on these critical issues, yet they never debate them among themselves. Instead they downplay their differences and pretend as if they don’t matter. ID isn’t wrong so much as it is meaningless, because it consists of nothing more than stale and erroneous criticisms of evolution.

Once you go to the trouble of rebutting these criticisms, you most assuredly will not hear the ID advocates say, “Hmm, I guess I may have been wrong.” At best they will simply ignore you and proceed to the next bogus claim. Once you’ve gone through a whole cycle of them, the earlier ones that you already rebutted will suddenly pop up again, their proponents seemingly oblivious to your previous critiques. The whole point is, you’re not dealing with people who have a sincere interest in science. If you want to see what they’re really interested in, take a look at the Wedge Strategy. The ID movement is about religious apologetics. The leaders of the movement have convinced themselves that the very survival of our society depends on their “renewing” culture with a heavy dose of godly authoritarianism. Theirs is an extremist viewpoint that overrides any imperative for fair play and intellectual honesty. Is it any wonder that most scientists simply wish these people would shut up and go away?

This isn’t to say that their claims should go unanswered. Those of us who post here spend a lot of time answering them, and some of our contributors, such as Paul Gross and Mark Perakh, have written entire books critiquing the ID movement and its claims. But under what circumstances is debating ID warranted? ID is not taken seriously by researchers at graduate institutions, nor is it taught at 4-year colleges. If I were an ID advocate who was sincere about getting it accepted as science, I’d be mostly concerned about its standing among, you know, scientists. But barring some notable exceptions, the ID movement is first and foremost concerned with getting its views taught in public school science classes. They are aiming their “teachings” at a captive audience of kids who certainly lack the background knowledge to spot what’s wrong with most of their claims. And you know, that’s probably the point.

As I see it, if you wanted to teach the non-existent controversy in public schools, there’s only one way you could do it and give it justice. First, you’d have to give the students a very thorough background in biology and evolutionary theory. You could then introduce the ID claims and the mainstream scientific responses, and the responses to those responses, etc. You could then take things a step further and have students “critically examine” the scientific evidence, including reading important contributions to the literature. The problem is, once you manage to successfully do all this, the kids are ready to graduate college. There’s hardly enough time to give a comprehensive treatment to basic biology in high school, much less an in-depth study of evolution, and most high school teachers (much less the students) cannot be expected to read and review the primary technical literature. How are we supposed to fit in a detailed examination of ID? And why should we bother anyway? Hey kids, let’s spend the whole semester teaching you all about a so-called scientific theory that scientists don’t accept as legitimate. That will be a good use of your time.

Of course this approach almost certainly isn’t what the ID movement has in mind. I’m sure they would be happy if students were given a rudimentary introduction to evolution, as is usually done now (if it’s done at all), but then have all of their own antievolution arguments tacked on. The problem is, most of these arguments are downright terrible; students should never be taught false or unsubstantiated claims as if they were accepted science. “But the students should be the judge of that - let them weigh the evidence themselves!” the IDists bleat. Sure, that sounds nice and all, but it requires the unworkably lengthy approach that I outlined previously. That’s simply not feasible, and the IDists know it. What they really want is for their arguments to be presented right alongside mainstream science, as if they were of equal legitimacy. It’s not a matter of “critically examining” the evidence; it’s a matter of using the school curriculum to give ID an air of scientific authority that it has failed to earn on its own.

If you think the debate over ID is rancorous now, it’s not going to get any easier if we concede their attempts to monkey with public school science curricula. Once their foot is in the door, they’re not going to sit back and let teachers spend ten minutes dismissing ID, or allow ID arguments to be presented and then knocked down. Indeed, that’s when they’ll really start applying the pressure. I suspect that if we adopted Plumer’s proposal, teachers would find themselves more intimidated than they are now. I also suspect that in many places, with suitable encouragement from local parents, teachers would simply teach old-school creationism with its 6000 year-old Earth, and perhaps start proselytizing to their hearts’ content. If you think the “reality based” community is having a headache now, just wait.

2 TrackBacks

ID in Schools, Redux from The Panda's Thumb on March 23, 2005 3:20 PM

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63 Comments

Presenting ID in public schools, considered in a social vacuum and assuming knowledgeable instructors, might do what Plummer prefers, but in reality ID is being pushed as one more element of reinforcement for a creationism that has been (for many if not most students) indoctrinated into them from birth by their parents, their Sunday schools, and their daily prayer rituals. The main reason few teachers wish to go anywhere near evolution is because doing so spits into an already powerful wind. Our persistent trolls aren’t repeating the same falsehoods endlessly because they are stupid or ineducable, but because admitting such error, even to themselves, violates a lifetime of training. Evolution can’t be right, without contradicting too massive a body of belief and doctrine.

“Teaching the controversy”, regardless of how it gets implemented, is just one more reinforcement of creationist dogma. Even a qualified teacher, using ID only to discredit it, is giving it the recognition a reinforcement event requires. Best to just teach how evolution works (I think this is box 6.1 in Ernst Mayr’s book?). If a student asks about the controversy, explain that there is no scientific controversy to discuss. If they wish to learn about the religious controversy, ask in religion class.

From the Washington Post article:

“That approach appeals to Cindy Duckett, a Wichita mother who believes public school leaves many religious children feeling shut out. Teaching doubts about evolution, she said, is “more inclusive. I think the more options, the better.”

“If students only have one thing to consider, one option, that’s really more brainwashing,” said Duckett, who sent her children to Christian schools because of her frustration. Students should be exposed to the Big Bang, evolution, intelligent design “and, beyond that, any other belief that a kid in class has. It should all be okay.”

What? She sent her children to Christian schools for more than “one option”.

I live in a Red State and I can tell you that this attitude is apparent. Why? At what point does insurmountable evidence (evolution) overtake one’s beliefs?

I am curious to know other views from around the world. Do we really appear this ignorant?

I believe that I am not alone be stating this concerns me a great deal.

How can I help? What can I do? These questions spring to mind …

Also, at approximately what grade is evolution first taught in public schools?

tytlal

I think you should teach evolution, not ID. However, it is beneficial to permit IDers to come in as guests and present their case, and permit the students and faculty the opportunity to ask questions. Not as part of the science curriculum, although it may occur in conjunction with a class.

I do this myself. I present cosmological ID. I answer questions. After I leave, I have no clue if the faculty tries to rip everything I said to shreds. No matter. The students’ science class remains as is, teaching the current mainstream theories, and I give them something else to think about. To me it’s the best solution.

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tytlal Wrote:

I believe that I am not alone be stating this concerns me a great deal.

How can I help?  What can I do?  These questions spring to mind …

You can join the NCSE for starters. There are other groups, like Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) and the ACLU, that also oppose creationist attacks on the school science curricula. Of course these latter two groups have broader agenda, so you’ll want to weigh that before you decide whether or not to join.

Also, at approximately what grade is evolution first taught in public schools?

Ideally, it gets integrated in science classes throughout elementary and middle school, but it usually doesn’t get specifically taught until highschool biology. That was my experience at least; I don’t know what educators consider to be best.

I hope no one minds my saying so, but this is a very smart analysis. ID is essentially a movement consisting of people whose style of argumentation is similiar to that of a polite (at least for the time being) newsgroup troll. A healthy respect for truth is entirely absent – as evidenced by the systematic misquoting of evolutionists arguing over the details of evolution as quotes against the theory of evolution itself.

As evidence:

Orr and Coyne unexpectedly find that there is little evidence for the neo-Darwinian view

John McDonald thinks that research on the genetic basis of adaptation has led to a great Darwinian paradox

Great post Steve. I thought many of the same things when I read Plumer’s post yesterday. Allowing ID in public schools would not be the deathblow to it that he claims. Instead, it’s exactly what the ID proponents are hoping for. Your last paragraph really nails this point home. The reality is that not all high school biology teachers are strong advocates of evolution; a large number are hardcore YECs, let alone other forms of creationists. Currently they know that such beliefs can’t be taught in public schools. But if we open the door to ID, there’s no way teachers of this stripe are going to be spending any time knocking down ID. If anything, they’re going to use it as an opportunity to proselytize to their students.

There is a separate issue related to this, however. Conservative politicians use certain social issues, such as abortion, gay rights, flag burning, etc., to motivate their base to come out and vote. Once in office, though, the newly elected conservative does very little to change the status quo (See “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” by Thomas Frank to see more on this). Some have suggested that liberals should allow the courts to overturn Roe v. Wade, giving the conservatives a victory that would get liberals off their duffs and involved in elections. Such a turn of events could lead to a real liberal majority by eliminating electoral complacency. There is a cost/benefit analysis that would need to be taken into account; would the (temporary) loss of the right to choose cost more than the benefit of establishing a liberal majority down the road?

One could argue the same thing about letting ID in schools. This would rile up parents who see ID for what it is. Hopefully this would encourage these parents to be become engaged in politics to the same level that conservatives are. Personally, I think such a strategy is wishful thinking. Regardless, a liberal backlash (if it really did occur) would really be the only benefit of allowing ID in public schools, in my opinion.

(Of course this is not to suggest that some conservatives don’t support the teaching of evolution in public schools. Many do, and some are the strongest advocates around. But there are some politicians that use evolution as a cattle prod to get the religious right behind them. See the situation in Kansas for a good example.)

I hope no one minds my saying so, but this is a very smart analysis. ID is essentially a movement consisting of people whose style of argumentation is similiar to that of a polite (at least for the time being) newsgroup troll. A healthy respect for truth is entirely absent – as evidenced by the systematic misquoting of evolutionists arguing over the details of evolution as quotes against the theory of evolution itself.

As evidence:

Orr and Coyne unexpectedly find that there is little evidence for the neo-Darwinian view

John McDonald thinks that research on the genetic basis of adaptation has led to a great Darwinian paradox

Russell Wrote:

There was an interview with Phillip Johnson in which he stated very plainly that he thought high school was not the place to introduce ID - but that, just as Steve points out - it would have to be established at the research level and higher education first. Can anyone help me locate that interview?

You must mean this one:

http://rnaworld.bio.ku.edu/ID-intro[…]/johnson.htm

It goes all the way back to 1993. As a political strategy, it probably made sense to say that you weren’t interested in public school curricula, at least back in the salad days. But if Johnson actually believes this way now, he doesn’t bother saying so.

Plus why should ID be singled out for special treatment in the classroom? Almost every subject beyond basic maths and english has its fringe theories. If we give in to ID, who’s to say we won’t have to start “teaching the controvery” regarding subjects like astronomy (astrology), geography (young-earth creationism), biology (ESP, auras), or chemistry (alchemy). Creating a non-controvertial history curriculum is tough enough these days. Imagine trying to do it while catering to every fringe group with a mission. Impossible.

Last time I checked, the US is miles behind other industrial nations when it comes to math and science education in K-12. I think the LAST thing we need to be doing is wasting time in science class teaching something that’s not science. There’s simply too much valid material that needs to be covered in your average elementary, Jr. High, and High School class without teaching the opinions of a few zealots.

“One could argue the same thing about letting IDC in schools. “ That’s what Newman was saying - that relying on court victories was making the pro-science forces (in this case) lazy and complacent, and that letting ID win would cause a backlash. I agree that this is probably unrealistic - because of years of creationist pressure on the schools, not that many folks understand how unscientific IDC is.

Also, it’s *wrong* (and almost certainly illegal, given Supreme Court rulings) illegal. Someone could argue, from an anti-drug perspective, that legalizing the substance of your choice would be beneficial because the resulting backlash would mean more effective laws and funding. But they wouldn’t, because that would be crazy.

Interesting, I was discussing this proposal just yesterday with a colleague. So it was amusing to see it posted here. In anti-creationist circles during the 1990’s, I was considered somewhat of a bete noire for making the same suggestion. However, we must come to the realization that we are doomed to a perpetual fight with creationists this current method of battle continues to be used.

My only misgiving with the proposal and the comments posted so far is that there seems to be this assumption that this is simply a scientific disagreement that has yet to be resolved. It is nothing of the kind. As a former right-wing Christian fundamentalist, I can tell you that your “enemy” sees this as nothing less than a long term political battle of attrition. Limiting your proposal to simply addressing ID will do nothing but play into the creationists’ hands. You will in effect be validating Phillip Johnson’s Wedge strategy. Johnson and others are counting on this.

There has been a discomforting lack of will to attack creationists directly in the classroom. This misguided assumption posits that by giving ground, creationists will be open to their own accomodations. This live and let live strategy has delivered us the Kansas situation. Anti-creationists worry that by attacking creationism in the classroom, it will be viewed as an attack on religion itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking a page from Karl Rove, anti-creationists need to understand that words mean things. Henry Morris has clearly delineated a line between what he calls “biblical creationism” and “scientific creationism”. Any parent who objects to a teacher’s attack on creationism is going to have a difficult task ahead if that teacher asserts that all they’ve been attacking is “scientific creationism”. Creationists have given us an arsenal to use against them. Why aren’t we using it? I understand that nobody wants a fight. But it’s long past the time to realize that a fight cannot be avoided.

We need to also consider the innate desire of the creationist community - to enjoy the credibility that science takes for granted in our current society. Why do they scratch and claw for worthless Ph.Ds? Why do they trot out their “peer reviewed” projects like RATE? They want that credibility and are never given the opportunity to prove themselves. Let’s give them Kansas. Let’s let them prove themselves. But let’s hold their feet to the fire. This party isn’t just for the Discovery Institute. The ICR, Answers in Genesis, and mercenaries like Kent Hovind and Walt Brown deserve a seat at the table. Let them slug it out. Hold their feet to the fire and insist that they air all of their laundry, dirty as well as clean. That will be a sight to behold. And the world will be watching.

And lastly, Kansas citizens may be opinionated on the subject of creationism. But as Cindy Duckett put it, is her child learning everything there is to know about creationism, even at a private school? I doubt it. Let’s let her child know everything there is to know about creationism. Let her child know that the entire universe is 6,000 years old. Let her child learn the creationist method of calculating astronomical distances. Let her child in English class find out the true origin of modern languages. Mandate to English teachers that they teach about the Tower of Babel. Many folks, even public school teachers, think that this is a problem only for a biology teacher. By God, it’s time to show them the true extent of creationism. And mandating the full breadth of creationism in Kansas could be the ultimate disaster.

In closing, I’d like to share with you an experience Washington State had in the 1990’s. Walt Brown showed up at a high school in Aberdeen and instructed the students on creationism, including the origin of the Grand Canyon and how it could have formed rapidly. It was a very slick presentation and left the students entranced. Shortly after, Dave Milne, a college biology professor showed up and not only discussed evolutionary biology, he specifically discussed intelligent design and creationism. He took the discussion farther using the creationists’ own materials than they would have liked. When Dave Milne showed a diagram of the Grand Canyon with a small chariot embedded in one of the canyon’s strata, the students were outraged asking, “Are you telling us that the Grand Canyon was formed during the Great Flood?!” Milne smiled and said, “Why yes. That’s EXACTLY what Walt Brown was suggesting.”

The students were outraged and the teachers were terribly apologetic, unaware of the extent of Walt Brown’s own beliefs. This is what will ultimately need to be done with the citizens of Kansas. Protecting them from themselves is ultimately a losing strategy for all.

A pot is boiling in Kansas and the citizens are insisting on touching it with their bare hands. By all means, let them touch it.

Pierre Stromberg is the former president of Pacific Northwest Skeptics. He has confronted creationists in writing and in person regarding their claims on Lucy’s knee joint and is the author of “The Coso Artifact: Mystery from the Depths of Time”.

Steve,

EXCELLENT essay! You’ve succeeded in capturing so many fundamental truths about these debates in such a relatively small space, I had to read it over twice to make sure I caught everything.

I will definitely send this on to as many of my friends as I can. Great job!

Under the PATRIOT Act, research into pathogens that might be used in warfare has been restricted to U.S. citizens and a few foreigners with high secrecy clearances. Consequently, research in the U.S. on antidotes to anthrax or methods of frustrating other pathogens used in attacks has bee slowed almost to a stop.

Science education is an issue of national security. Teaching no science was a threat to our national security in 1957, but Sputnik woke America up and we fixed it for a brief period of time.

Teaching bad science now is exactly what our enemies want. No one wants bad science taught in America more than Osama bin Laden.

Good evolution science is the basis for modern medicine. It is also the basis for much of our current agricultural industry.

If we don’t mind bad health care (worse than we have now!), failing agricultural industries and terrorism, we should go ahead and teach “intelligent design.”

Who among Americans would intentionally choose such a path?

Teach the facts first.

Then – and only then – should we even entertain the possibility of teaching “controversy.”

We don’t ask third graders to decide about Keynesian views of government spending before they get a little more math and civics in them. We should ask kids to make political and policy choices until they get the underlying science down.

Steve Reuland Wrote:

If I were an ID advocate who was sincere about getting it accepted as science, I’d be mostly concerned about its standing among, you know, scientists. But barring some notable exceptions, the ID movement is first and foremost concerned with getting its views taught in public school science classes. They are aiming their “teachings” at a captive audience of kids who certainly lack the background knowledge to spot what’s wrong with most of their claims. And you know, that’s probably the point.

This reminds me of the tactics that are commonly used by the tobacco industry.….deny the science, and get the kids hooked as young as possible.

Mr. Heddle said:

I think you should teach evolution, not ID. However, it is beneficial to permit IDers to come in as guests and present their case, and permit the students and faculty the opportunity to ask questions. Not as part of the science curriculum, although it may occur in conjunction with a class.

I do this myself. I present cosmological ID. I answer questions.

Seriously?

Share your lesson plan, will you? And, if you have any links to the national science standards, list them.

How do you teach something that does not exist?

We need demonstrations with more immediate impact than trying to answer the creationist/ID claims with tons of science. Tons of science isn’t working.

The Steve Project is a good example of something which works. You give people a good idea of

We need another Steve Project. If someone piled up a single month’s worth of journal articles mentions, assuming or directly dealing with evolution and evolutionary concepts, that would probably be a substancial pile of paper. I imagine that at least a foot – probably more – of library shelf space is needed every month just to document the work of biologists using evolution. I contrast, the peer reviewed ID papers and papers critically reviewing evolution must amount to zero.

That should give a pretty good image to even the most scientifically uneducated person how un-controversial evolution is in the scientific world and how pervasive it is in modern biology.

From my experience the people we are all familiar with here on PT and elsewhere and by far the exception: eveyrone else just wants to do their research and work on their careers. I understand that. It’s a tough tough thing to be a scientist these days, because in many fields its very hard to find original and productive work, and you live or die by doing something that makes you prove your keep for the very few positions available.

But I really think there’s something to be said about science being a collective, society-wide endeavor. If the rest of society is falling out of the loop, I really think it’s worthwhile for scientists to make sure something is being done about it, and there has to be a real question about whether even the good science being done is worth what it could be. If science becomes a bunch of in-jokes and journals that no one but specialists can read or read about, then science is in many ways less purposeful. And so the fact that a majority of people in this country are creationists of some stripe is a huge warning sign. So is the fact that many teachers simply avoid evolution in high school: sort of like teaching physics without teaching anything about the Newtonian laws of motion, QM, relativity, etc.

Ruidh, just for starters:

A PubMed search for “evolution” shows 155355 hits.

A search for “creationism” shows 46.

“Telepathy” shows 129.

“Intelligent design theory” shows 19.

“Telekinesis” is 5.

“Sasquatch” is 6 (most of those are developmental biology articles which refer to a gene scientists have called sasquatch)

It’s not a rigorous measure but the sheer magnitude of the numbers strongly suggests that creationist “theories” are less meaningful to biologists and doctors than telepathy.

By the way, check out the first article that shows up under “creationism”!! I wonder how many of our trolls are left-handed?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/[…]ids=15513240

Laterality. 2004 Oct;9(4):433-47. Related Articles, Links

Interhemispheric interaction and beliefs on our origin: degree of handedness predicts beliefs in creationism versus evolution.

Niebauer CL, Christman SD, Reid SA, Garvey KJ.

Department of Psychology, Slippery Rock University, PA 16057, USA. [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

It has been suggested that strongly handed individuals have attenuated systems for updating beliefs compared to mixed handers (Niebauer, Aselage, & Schutte, 2002). The current research extended this theory to individual differences in updating beliefs concerning our origins. Although the theory of evolution has gained overwhelming success in the sciences, a significant percentage of the population believes in biblical creationist accounts of human origins that are inconsistent with accepted, contemporary scientific views. If strongly handed individuals possess attenuated systems for updating beliefs, they might be more likely to believe in creationism. In two studies, strongly handed participants were more likely to believe in creationism while mixed-handed participants were more likely to believe in evolution. A model of how interhemispheric interaction functions in maintaining and updating beliefs is discussed. Specifically, mixed-handedness seems to be associated with a lower threshold for updating beliefs.

Oy, reading comprehension: it’s not handedness that is linked to creationism, it’s degree of handedness. My bad. Too bad we can’t see pictures of our trolls with their fiddler crab-like arm growth. I guess we could ascribe asymmetrical arm musculature to something else besides creationism … perhaps that explains why there are so few female trolls and creationists at the Discovery Institute.

ruidh wrote

If someone piled up a single month’s worth of journal articles mentions, assuming or directly dealing with evolution and evolutionary concepts, that would probably be a substancial pile of paper. I imagine that at least a foot — probably more — of library shelf space is needed every month just to document the work of biologists using evolution. I contrast, the peer reviewed ID papers and papers critically reviewing evolution must amount to zero.

The Evolution Project does something like that online.

RBH

I was wondering how controversial theories that are eventually accepted get established in education normally, and whether what the Creationists want at all resembles that process.

For example, continental drift. IIRC this was first proposed in the fifties or sixties, encountered a lot of resistance, but then was accepted enough by the seventies for me to read about it at high school. How did continental drift move from mad idea to acceptable enough to teach to high schoolers?

Did Wegener bleat that his ideas were being ignored by dogmatic scientists? Did he then try to have his theory taught directly to schoolkids? Did that generation of schoolkids grow to become university students who then overthrew the musty old academics in a Pol Pot-like putsch, thereby establishing CD as the new dogma?

I think not.

I imagine that Wegener thought deeply about his theory, published, argued, won converts among working scientists (i.e. thoughtful scientists read his work, looked for evidence for and against, and published their own papers). Presumably, these scientists worked with their post-graduates to test the theory, and when they understood it enough in their own minds, they communicated that to their students. And then, I guess enough questions were answered for it to be transmitted to high school teachers who taught their students. Or something like that.

So, I say, let ID/Creationism be treated as other theories are treated by the scientific world. Let them write the papers, get them published, let them be criticised and tested. Let the people who do science for a living decide whether the theory holds any water with them, and if it does, let them work on it, polish it, pass it on down the educational chain to the children, not subvert a working process for the sake of politics.

If they can’t even get their papers published in the journals without cheating, then I don’t see why anyone should give them the time of day, educationally speaking. Scorn them, don’t reason with them. If they use cheap debating tricks, then let them be answered with smarter debating tricks. When they lie, call them liars. When they repeat themselves, do a Ronald Reagan (“There you go again!”). When they fail at simple logic, mock them for the simpletons they show themselves to be.

Only when they ask honest questions should you give scientific answers. The rest of the time, let them eat rhetoric.

A frustratingly misguided notion, NelC. The goal is not to get ID accept as science, the goal is to replace science with (the One True) faith. Did you not understand the lesson being taught by Cindy Duckett? She mouths the party line about how any harebrained notion is just as good as any other and schools are remiss unless they expose children to all of them. But to correct this shortcoming, she sends HER kids to a school that teaches one (count them: 1) alternative – hers.

So she says “the more options, the better” and does everything in her power to limit the options her children are exposted to. And this lies at the heart of the ID doublethink. “Options” is a code word for fundamentalist doctrine. “Teaching the controversy” means teaching fundamentalist doctrine as fact. “We need more fairness” means “my side isn’t the only one being presented, but it’s the only one that’s right.” Orwell didn’t make this up out of whole cloth, you know.

Steve Reuland:

You must mean this one:

http://rnaworld.bio.ku.edu/ID-intro[…]/johnson.htm

It goes all the way back to 1993. As a political strategy, it probably made sense to say that you weren’t interested in public school curricula, at least back in the salad days. But if Johnson actually believes this way now, he doesn’t bother saying so.

Steve,

Thank you for finding that link.

Ironically, that link will help in a project I’m working on. My IDEA chapter is and will be lobbying the ID leadership to begin a vigorous advance of ID at the university level. Though I feel ID’s place is rightfully in the science classes, I believe it will gain it’s foohold in the Philosophy and Religion departments.

I’ll use Johnson’s quote in my efforts to lobby the ID leadership to re-ignite the campaign at the university level. Recall, that’s where the ID movement started, in the universities. ID is continuing to grow in the universities, particularly among the bio undergrads, grads, and faculty, but at this time, the efforts are poorly organized and underfinanced.

As far as the universities, here is an interesting development at Berkeley:

(courtesy Les Lane at www.kcfs.org)

http://ls.berkeley.edu/new/deanscor[…]/0503bh.html

The Dean of the Undergraduate Division:

At a recent academic cocktail party I had the occasion to speak with two colleagues, both fellow humanists, about various topics in higher education. At one point the conversation turned to the notion of intelligent design, and much to my amazement both colleagues indicated a great deal of sympathy for this alternative to “Darwinism.” I was shocked, and although I told them that few, if any, reputable biologists in the country subscribe to intelligent design, I could tell that they were not persuaded. Somewhat dismayed, I turned to other, more congenial issues.

That even intelligent people fall for intelligent design was disquieting. I had read the news stories describing the large numbers of people who believe that intelligent design should be taught along side Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and the somewhat smaller, but more alarming group that advocates creationism or intelligent design be taught instead of Darwinism. But until that conversation with my colleagues I thought that misconceptions about evolution were a phenomenon of communities far away from Berkeley, not members of faculty of the most distinguished university in the country.

Salvador

GOOD GOD NO!

Neo-Darwinism is a dead duck if that happens.

Well, I have it from a reliable source, Barabara Forrest and Paul Gross that that is the plan. From Creationism’s Trojan Horse

page 301:

Dembski recently indicated hopes for ID recruits from high schools and colleges: “My commitment is to see intelligent design flourish as a scientific research program.…To do that, I need a new generation of scholars willing to consider this, because the older generation is largely hidebound. So I would like to see textbooks, certainly at the college level and even at the high school level, which reframe introductory biology within a design paradigm.”

The recruits may not be long coming. The Wedge has already acquired two groups of college followers, the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC) and the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Club. The IDURC has become a division of Access Research Network and promotes Wedge books and other products through links to ARN’s website and to commercial sites like Amazon.com.….

The IDEA Center’s advisory board consists of Wedge members Phillip Johnson, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Jay Wesley Richards, Mark Hartwig, and Francis Beckwith; Dennis Wagner executive director of Access Research Network .…..

The Wedge has always had as a goal the insertion of ID courses into the university curriculum

page 168:

Finally the Intelligent Design and Evolution Aawreness Club (IDEA) was formed in May 1999.…

they do represent a a vast potential pool of recruits that the Wedge is cultivating

Regards, Salvador

My IDEA chapter is and will be lobbying the ID leadership to begin a vigorous advance of ID at the university level

Well, I think that’s just great, Sal. You get right on that! But it sounds like you’re talking more about cheerleading than any actual research.

Tell you what. When all that cheerleading leads to some actual research, (presumably sometime after it leads to testable hypotheses), and when that research accounts for more than, say, 1% of the scientific literature in any subdiscipline, then I will join you in recommending its inclusion in graduate and upper level undergraduate courses. And if it withstands scrutiny there, perhaps it should trickle down to high school curricula.

I know we can count on you to keep us posted on the progress of this enterprise.

Sal, if you’re going to use Johnson’s comments from 1993, rather than assuming that he was sincere, or that he hasn’t changed his mind since, you should try to follow his record and see if he’s actually practiced what he’s preached. I can recall at least a few statements in which he supported teaching ID in public schools, and none opposing the idea.

Secondly, that statement from Dembski you quoted was specifically defending teaching ID in public schools. Dembski is apparently of the impression that working scientists and grad students are too “hidebound” to buy into it, so he needs a whole new generation of fresh recruits. That either means that ID is unique in the history of science, or it means that Dembski a complete crank. (Guess which one I’m putting my money on.)

Third, I would not start in with your usual triumphalist rhetoric because two people of who-knows-what department (English? Art history?) at Berkelley sounded sympathetic to “alternatives” to evolution. Lots of people on the far-left have had an animosity toward evolution just like those on the far-right. (I’m not saying that’s the case with these two, but it’s not unlikely.) Perhaps the more salient fact is that the Dean is dead-set against it. Deans trump lower faculty, so we win. :)

In the original post, Steve Reuland Wrote:

What they really want is for their arguments to be presented right alongside mainstream science, as if they were of equal legitimacy. It’s not a matter of “critically examining” the evidence; it’s a matter of using the school curriculum to give ID an air of scientific authority that it has failed to earn on its own.

This is a dead-on description of what is happening in Kansas right now. The proposed science hearings are clearly an attempt to give the ID team an unearned and undeserved platform to advance their ideas.

The captain of the ID team in Kansas, Dr. Bill Harris (who is actually a member of my church), envisions ID eventually being taught in public school science classrooms. Unfortunately, his primary focus is on making the Kansas State Science Standards more ID-friendly, not on establishing ID as a science.

Teach ID in school?

Can’t teach a subject that has yet to say anything.

Henry

Re “On a philosophical note it is hard to grant a spirit at any point in the process without admitting the parents of said individual would have been a souless beast.” An interesting if most likely unresolvable question, that.

Henry

I have read most of the posts here and I understand everything you are saying, and it makes sense, IF we assume that it truly is impossible for supernatural things to exist. But how can we know for sure that they do not? I want to ask you guys a question, from a sort of innocent position: I am being totally genuine, here, I just want to know why it is impossible that there could be a god behind everything? Why do we assume there is no such thing as a god? How can we KNOW there is NOT? Scientifically speaking, I mean. If there is not a god, how can anybody POSSIBLY prove that? Does that question make sense? I mean, Here is an illustration of my question at its root: To know for sure that there are NO diamonds in Kansas (yikes, I am from KS)… I would have to uncover every single grain of sand and inch of dirt to PROVE that there is NOT ONE diamond in KS… So how do we PROVE there’s no god? We can’t exactly uncover everything in the vast cosmos to prove that. Will somebody help me understand this part of the debate?

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on March 16, 2005 10:44 AM.

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