Setting the Record Straight at Stanford

| 20 Comments

Nick Matzke and I will be giving a short presentation and a longer question and answer session on the topic of “intelligent design”. The event is a ‘Presentation and Discussion on Intelligent Design’, Friday, May 6th, 2005, 4-5:30pm, in building 370 (Science, Technology and Society program), Room 370, on the Stanford University campus. The event is sponsored by Rational Thought. The public is welcome. This is a follow-up to the Veritas Forum series of presentations held at Stanford through this week.

If you are in the Bay Area and can make it, we’ll look forward to seeing you there.

20 Comments

I wish I could be there. I wish even more I could go fishing. Oh well.

Let us know how it goes. Best wishes.

Nic and Wesley, I am glad you can make it. Best of luck! Hopefullly there is still a majority of reasonable people, at least at Stanford, where Veritas has just held its obscurantist festival.

[ot]

a happy belated cinco de mayo to everyone.

cheers

(don’t worry, I drank a pint for you)

Any change the lecture will be recorded for later video streaming? Inquiring minds like to know but are on the other side of the country.

Oops, change “change” to “chance”. Coffie didn’t kick in yet.

Will you address what appears to be Jonathan Wells’ departure from the Unification Church? He testifed yesterday in Kansas that he used to follow the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. What happened?

Thanks for the tip, I dispatched an IDEA sympathizer who is a student at Standford to gather intelligence. By the way, Standford is where IDist Dean Kenyon got his PhD. Fine school.

Salvador

I dispatched an IDEA sympathizer who is a student at Standford to gather intelligence

Yet another young man? Or a young lady this time?

Why don’t your li’l disciples ever show up here to defend you, Sal?

I really do believe your lying about them. You know, kind of in the same way you misrepresent facts and lie about all kinds of other stuff all the time.

By the way, Standford is where IDist Dean Kenyon got his PhD.

That would be the same Dean Kenyon, co-writer of “Pandas and People”, who admitted later that he wrote the book for religious reasons.

Right?

Are you going to answer my simple questions, Sal? Forget them already? No problem:

*ahem*

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

3. what, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than weather forecasting, accident investigation, or medicine?

4. do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway?

Will you address what appears to be Jonathan Wells’ departure from the Unification Church? He testifed yesterday in Kansas that he used to follow the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. What happened?

Maybe he had a, uh, sudden “conversion” like Ahmanson did . …

Bad PR, and all that. …

How do you make judgments about when to enter the “debate” and when to refuse to legitimize it? You obviously agree with scientists who are refusing to testify in Kansas, but you are lecturing about ID tonight. Does it have to do with how much control over the material you have? I.E. if you set it up as an educational evening about what ID is and why it is not science? As opposed to being part of something the “other” side has set up? I’m really torn, feeling that both Dawkins (no way) and Gould (we don’t have any choice but to publicly resist) have good positions. (One feels bad for Gould in that it took up so much of his time, which it turns out he had little left of anyway.)

I’d be interested in your decision making process, should you wish to share it. (Your mission, should you wish to accept it…) Good luck tonight. Let us know what happens.

Will you address what appears to be Jonathan Wells’ departure from the Unification Church? He testifed yesterday in Kansas that he used to follow the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. What happened?

Maybe he had a, uh, sudden “conversion” like Ahmanson did

A Klieg Light Conversion, you might say. Oh, Everyone in the world’s looking? No, of course I’m not a Moonie/Anti-Semite/HIV-denier/whatever…

Salvador T. Cordova Wrote:

Thanks for the tip, I dispatched an IDEA sympathizer who is a student at Standford to gather intelligence.

NEWS FLASH! Intelligent Design supporter finds himself in need of intelligence.

Catherine, I guess by my history I’m closer to Gould than Dawkins on when to present on the topic of “intelligent design”. Basically, I’m open to discussing “intelligent design” on my own pretty much by mutual arrangement as to schedule. If the event is a face-to-face type thing, I’d have to consider the context. I’ve presented at an ID event, the “Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise” conference in 1997. I was pretty hacked off when Phillip Johnson told all of us that by coming we had helped him “legitimate the question”, since none of that had appeared in the call for papers. So chalk one up to ignorance. I presented at the CTNS/AAAS “Interpreting Evolution” conference at Haverford College in 2001. I presented at the CSICOP 4th World Skeptics Conference in 2002. Both of those were events that included ID advocates. And I attempted to sign-up for the 2002 RAPID conference at Biola, and asked them if they would like me to present there. About that time, Jed Macosko called me to say that, sorry, the RAPID conference was just for ID advocates. I did attend the public kick-off event there, and Macosko very graciously invited me to join the pre-conference banquet as his guest.

Now, about the events at Stanford yesterday…

Nick gave a 45 minute talk based on responding to the points in Behe’s lecture. Nick made the point that while Behe likes a mousetrap as an example, that when the issue is biology, one should use biological examples. Nick took up the Venus Flytrap as an example, and how the evidence indicates an evolutionary origin for this irreducibly complex prey capture system. A bonus is that research has confirmed Darwin’s hypothesis of its origin. Nick also worked over the E. coli bacterial flagellum, showing the parts that aren’t in use in other bacterial flagella, and a table of homologous proteins used for other purposes elsewhere, plus the 17 peer-reviewed bibliographic entries backing that up. Nick also gave a table listing the estimated numbers of papers concerning the evolutionary origins of various systems that ID advocates call “irreducibly complex”.

Salvador A. Cordova Wrote:

Thanks for the tip, I dispatched an IDEA sympathizer who is a student at Standford to gather intelligence.

Tristan Abbey attended, but I don’t recall him asking a question.

There was a rude, persistently obnoxious guy who came who apparently thought that “question and answer” meant “I can give my own lecture here.” Perhaps that was Salvador’s friend. He certainly seemed to have the “I can ignore any sufficient rebuttal to my previous point and just move on to another point” routine down pat. I’ll call him “ID guy”.

ID guy led off by claiming that Nick hadn’t addressed Behe’s actual argument. His reasoning, such as it was, seemed to be that Behe asserted that everything had to come together all at once, and this was statistically improbable, and Nick somehow had not addressed this point. It seemed to me that Nick had spent probably 20 minutes addressing that point. Nick’s rejoinder that for many of these systems there are plausible pathways that don’t require the “everything all at once” scenario did not seem to impinge on ID guy’s consciousness.

There were a number of bald assertions made by ID guy, including the one about there never having been an observed speciation. He cited Paul Ehrlich as his source. I responded that if Ehrlich had said so, then he was wrong. ID guy smilingly responded that Ehrlich had a Nobel Prize as if that made Ehrlich an infallible ex cathedra source on any topic. It took a few minutes, but I set up the computer to project the TOA observed speciations FAQ. Did ID guy say, “Oh, I guess that I was misinformed on that point”? No, he did not. ID guy picked up the goalposts and ran. There was something about showing observed speciation with an increase in information. By this point, a fair chunk of the audience was getting annoyed with ID guy, and providing their own rejoinders to him.

Apparently, what ID guy was going on is a quote mine from creationist sources.

Meanwhile, as biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich disclose, “The production of a new animal species in nature has yet to be documented.” Furthermore, “in the vast majority of cases, the rate of change is so slow that it has not even been possible to detect an increase in the amount of differentiation.”11

The Ehrlichs were making the point that the current rate of extinction greatly exceeds the current rate of speciation. It’s also unclear as to what is meant by “animal species” in their text, but clearly the point is that field biologists are now commonly observing extinction events, and not seeing speciation events at anywhere near that rate. This is a far cry from saying that speciation has never happened.

On other issues, the religious right smugly points out that Paul Ehrlich has been famously wrong.

As I remarked to an attendee after the event, evolutionary biology has demonstrated itself beyond reasonable doubt, but cannot get to those who hold unreasonable (and, like ID guy, unreasoned) doubt.

“There was a rude, persistently obnoxious guy who came who apparently thought that “question and answer” meant “I can give my own lecture here.” Perhaps that was Salvador’s friend. He certainly seemed to have the “I can ignore any sufficient rebuttal to my previous point and just move on to another point” routine down pat. I’ll call him “ID guy”.

It is way amazing how many people interpret “Q and A in this way. Why do audiences put up with it, I wonder? Part of it is wanting to be “fair,” or wanting to give everyone a chance to speak, when of course the other side doesn’t want to be fair at all, and could give shit whether others get to speak. I’ve always liked moderators who quickly move to, “And your question is…?” or “Is there a question here?” Anyway, wish I could have been there and thanks for answering about how to decide. It does seem to be an event by event process for you.

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For the record, Wesley, I dispatched Tristan to here your talk. I had nothing to do with the obnoxious guy, and further I encourage respectful treatment of public speakers including you. It does my side no good to have hecklers at such events.

…we have an operative there

The guy I dispatch…

What a weird, weird world Salvador seems to inhabit. I can just picture him, hanging out at the local christian bar, ordering his martini shaken, not stirred… “The name’s Cordova. Salvador Cordova.”

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The procession keeps getting funnier by the day. Dembski and then Salvador and now Tristan. Who’s next? Major Major Major?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on May 5, 2005 10:21 PM.

Clueless creationist testifies for Kansas BoE was the previous entry in this blog.

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