Washington Post Chastises Smithsonian

| 205 Comments

In today’s Washington Post, there is an editorial entitled Dissing Darwin that is recommended reading. I’ll offer some commentary on the flipside.

The Washington Post Editors Wrote:

The museum was naive or negligent not to recognize [the true motivations of the Discovery Institute], and more naive not to anticipate the backlash. When news of the film showing recently began circulating, one Web site that supports intelligent design asked enthusiastically whether this meant the Smithsonian was “warming up” to the theory of an intelligent creator. In a newspaper interview, Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, also said how delighted he was that the Museum of Natural History would “co-sponsor” the event despite the fact that the evening was intended to be a private affair. This is precisely how the intelligent design movement has gotten as far as it has: by advocating outwardly inoffensive ideas in ever-more prestigious places, thereby giving the movement scientific validity.

The Discovery Institute certainly makes the short-list of influential anti-science collectives. Faxes and emails available on a Discovery Institute website seem to indicate communication with the Discovery Institute directly and not with surrogates. The conclusion that the Smithsonian failed to intercept a clear instantiation of The Wedge in action due to naivete or negligence is hard to miss. Thus, the editorial is spot-on.

But it’s easy to criticize others for negligence and not be vigilant yourself. A few days ago, word was spreading that the creationists were hoping to show Privileged Planet on PBS stations nationwide. PT confirmed this and asked science advocates to contact their local stations. Have you?

All this is to say, the editorial correctly accuses the Smithsonian Institution of negligence. Readers of the thumb who agree should exercise vigilance themselves and look in their own backyard.

BCH

205 Comments

Denyse on the latest Controversy caused by her endzone fumble…

A sadly amusing editorial. Those who don’t understand why should ask themselves a pair of metaquestions (i.e., questions about questions):

(1) Is it possible to answer the question “does God exist” (yes, no or maybe) without involving religion?

(2) Is it possible to answer the question “are some parts of nature designed” without involving science?

The correct answer to metaquestion 1 is technically “yes”; the putative existence of God is a philosophical question independent of the specific doctrine of any particular religion. Moreover, since the G-word is not mentioned in the film, it would make no difference even if the answer were “no”.

The answer to metaquestion 2 is “no”, since science is the study of nature, and the question of whether or not nature exhibits design is potentially relevant to the study of nature. It follows that the editorial amounts to a call for the Smithsonian and other influential science-oriented institutions to summarily exclude certain potentially relevant questions from science.

Of course, any decent scientist knows that you can’t really do that. Nobody gets to hang his or her pet restrictions on science. There is nothing in the scientific method that forbids high-level hypotheses involving the nature of nature, particularly in the absence of hard proof that the answers are scientifically irrelevant.

Unfortunately for the Washington Post, no such proof exists. The implication is clear: no matter which side of the controversy you’re on, the Smithsonian was dead wrong to have changed its customary arrangement just because the film to be screened happens to smell like religion to somebody who doesn’t know any better.

If a film does not make assertions regarding clearly-enunciated articles of faith or other items of religious observance, but instead reviews scientific data and asks logically-formulated questions about the causal factors possibly involved in their production, then in the absence of hard proof that the source cannot possibly leave an empirical signature, it is scientific enough.

No question about it, the Smithsonian should be ashamed of itself for abjectly caving in to bad argumentation. (At least they had the wit not to cancel the screening.)

The answer to metaquestion 2 is “no”, since science is the study of nature, and the question of whether or not nature exhibits design is potentially relevant to the study of nature. It follows that the editorial amounts to a call for the Smithsonian and other influential science-oriented institutions to summarily exclude certain potentially relevant questions from science.

Don’t be so disingenous. Of course the Smithsonian doesn’t exclude questions of whether or not “nature” shows design, since of course we design things as “natural organisms”, and depending on the definition of “design”, so do spiders (not to mention chimps). Take a look at Smithsonian’s exhibits if you want to go on telling such enormities.

You ask “meta-questions” like any trained IDist does, since of course you’re not actually interested in the nuts and bolts of science. The SI has an obligation to diss the DI not because a “design hypothesis” was made, but because they hold to such claims regardless of evidence. Just as science was willing to entertain claims of perpetual motion for a long time, it was also willing to hold to the “design hypothesis” for organisms and the cosmos for a while after Newton. Since both claims failed completely to yield sound results, it is no longer very much interested in the idea.

And worst of all is that without any evidence of an “efficient cause” for either cosmological or biological ID, the DI and trained primates go around claiming an ultimate cause in some undiscoverable “designer”. Epistemologically you guys are nothing but quacks. We aren’t concerned about your beliefs or hypotheses, but rather your methods, or more crucially, your virtual lack of any methods to test for truth.

This has been pointed out many times, yet you who have read a bit of noxious propaganda always think that you have something that hasn’t been heard by the “godless scientists”. Oh it’s been heard, and answered, you just weren’t interested in answers or science that disagrees with your presuppositions regarding “meta-questions”.

Btw, why can’t any of you say anything new and non-derivative?

neorode:

Unfortunately, both of the answers you supply to your own question are dubious, in that they rest on arguable definitions and assumptions. If the possibility of the existence of gods is a religious question by definition (and I submit that it is), then you can’t address it without involving religion, anymore than you can address questions like how many angels can dance on a pin and whether the bear is Catholic.

As for whether some parts of nature are designed, we see people “answering” this question who couldn’t begin to give a definition of science, nor do they need to. This has, all along, been the main problem with intelligent design: that it explains everything without the need to resort to any evidence whatsoever. Clearly, involving science is not required. In fact, all indications are that intelligent design is phrased in scientistical terms mostly to distract scientists into thinking science must somehow be involved when it is not.

The SI simply did not wish to associate themselves with an anti-science PR organization, especially through co-sponsorship of a film presenting positions antithetical to science. The SI, like the NY Times and Washington Post, have cottoned to the scheme. The goal was to engineer a situation whereby a respected scientific body could be misrepresented as agreeing with an anti-science production. Your babbling about “absence of hard proof that the answers are scientifically irrelevant” is exactly the sort of distraction the DI specializes in. They tried to pull a PR coup, and it backfired publicly.

Now, I suppose I should emulate Lenny Flank and ask YOU for an actual, testable hypothesis the DI could use to do actual science rather than pull stunts like this. But we both recognize he asks that question repeatedly as a means of illustrating that there is no science to be found at the DI. If you are lamenting the fact that responsible organizations got wise a bit too late, allowing them to be played for fools, then I agree. If you are lamenting that they got wise AT ALL, and should have continued playing the fool to support a dishonest agenda, shame on you.

Since any advanced science might look like magic (miracles,) I am constantly disappointed that the ID crowd doesn’t look for BEMs in ‘white’ coats making plasmids and superstrings in their “magic” labs. I think that one of the Wright Brothers said that ‘Man would never fly.’ Just give her some time and money, and we’ll unravel complexity, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if it turned out to be, well, complex but all so ‘natural’.

Maybe you didn’t understand my point. I wrote:

“If a film does not make assertions regarding clearly-enunciated articles of faith or other items of religious observance, but instead reviews scientific data and asks logically-formulated questions about the causal factors possibly involved in their production, then in the absence of hard proof that the source cannot possibly leave an empirical signature, it is scientific enough.”

Now, that’s a fact. You seem to be claiming that there is no evidence for the sort of efficient causation that would permit the infusion of design into nature. Please forgive me for expressing my sincere doubt that you know what you’re talking about on that. In fact, I suspect from the tone and content of your response that questions formulated on that level of discourse may be considerably over your head.

In any case, it’s hardly necessary to stoop to name calling. If you don’t want to be called a quack - and I’m perfectly capable of calling you that or worse in return - then please refrain from further epithets.

You seem to be claiming that there is no evidence for the sort of efficient causation that would permit the infusion of design into nature.

However, what you have failed to demonstrate is how the ability to infer such a designer can be gleaned. For example, spider webs, ant-hills, termite mounds and even things like cars can all have a ‘designer’ inferred because we can detect something about the designer. In order to put ‘design’ into nature as a serious scientific idea, you need to first demonstrate how detection of said design points TO the designer.

Please forgive me for expressing my sincere doubt that you know what you’re talking about on that.

That’s alright, we probably think the same of you ;)

Again, have you a FALSIFIABLE theory of ID or are you talking out of your arse like all the other ID mewlers who come through here every now and again?

Neurode, I challenge you to provide an example of: a) a review of scientific data which supports design and does not support evolution b) an experiment which can determine if something that seems designed *is* designed c) a scientific theory of ID that have not been showed to be false, useless, based on lies or otherwise discredited either here or in talkorigins.org (or in some other venue).

Until you do, you have no business defending ID.

Sincerely, there have been many creationists that have come here with grand declarations of how ID was science. None have been able to back-up the claim. Lets see if you do better.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf, who certifies this post is ad hominem free

“If a film does not make assertions regarding clearly-enunciated articles of faith or other items of religious observance, but instead reviews scientific data and asks logically-formulated questions about the causal factors possibly involved in their production, then in the absence of hard proof that the source cannot possibly leave an empirical signature, it is scientific enough.”

Now, that’s a fact.

Now that’s a lie, and exactly why it is that we don’t like how you charlatans come in and try to change science to fit your prejudices. Science isn’t just speculation about what might exist, particularly when we’re well-aware of the source of your “speculations”, no matter how much you try to dissemble your aims and goals.

You seem to be claiming that there is no evidence for the sort of efficient causation that would permit the infusion of design into nature.

You’re too stupid even to read the post I wrote, I see. We do find evidence of “design” and I said so. You simply lie and accuse when you write the drivel above.

Please forgive me for expressing my sincere doubt that you know what you’re talking about on that. In fact, I suspect from the tone and content of your response that questions formulated on that level of discourse may be considerably over your head.

I suspect not, rather I suspect that you’re someone who’s had a few courses in the dishonest realm of metaphysics, and who has learned specifically how to avoid dealing with evidence altogether. My philosophy courses were in the dishonesty that exudes from such an approach, and the attempts that people as ill-educated as you to claim that those not adopting your approach to de-legitimize science and honest philosophy.

You haven’t even begun to write anything sensible, so you’re hardly a judge of anyone or anything.

In any case, it’s hardly necessary to stoop to name calling. If you don’t want to be called a quack

You can call me that, but you can’t make it stick.

- and I’m perfectly capable of calling you that or worse in return - then please refrain from further epithets.

Please quit lying and claiming a superiority that only comes from your narrow education and lack of scientific knowledge.

Neurode is sadly typical of the confusion between science and propaganda deliberately generated by the DI, offering up a couple of red herrings in the guise of sound philosphy. True, science does not address metaphysical questions one way or the other. However, though it is also true that “any decent scientist” is free to muse and speculate to his/her heart’s content about the metaphysical implications of various scientific results, most are intellectually honest enough to clearly distinguish between hypothesis testing, model building, interpretation of evidence, and metaphysical speculation. Where they are not, their piers (not “any decent scientist”, but MANY decent scientists) are all too happy to make that distinction for them, either in private review or in published rebuttal. This is why ID and creationist papers so consistently fail to have any impact whatsoever on the scientific community.

Sadly, the DI knows all too well that the public has little knowledge of the practical and philosophical underpinnings of science. Hence their target audience is not us scientists, but rather the public. “Any decent scientist” recognizes their claptrap for what it is at a glance, and most understand all too clearly the distinction between propaganda and academic discourse. While it is fair to ask the question of whether apparent “design” is the product of a designer, there is no compelling evidence whatsoever that explanations based on a designer are better than (or even equal to) naturalistic explanations.

Granted I have not seen the film in question, However, I have read a tremendous amount of verbage produced by the DI and it is absolutely consistent. There is nothing the descriptions of the film offered by the DI to suggest that it represents anything different from what they have published elsewhere. Pending that this is the case, the film is what we in academia call propaganda. It’s purpose is not to further scientific inquiry, or to advance understanding. Its purpose is to lay the foundation for the belief in a creator – read God. The immediate stamentments made by DI and their supportors are absolutely consistent with the “wedge” strategy of gaining credibility for dogma that undermines the publics’ support for science (oops, “humanistic, materialistic science”) by associating such dogma with reputable sources, and by shear repetition, thereby gaining credibility for the suggestion that there is a “controversy” in science. The folks at the Smithsonian are busy (I was just working there last week), and it is easy for this type of stuff to get through the system. The Smithsonian has nothing to be ashamed of, and has handled a politically very difficult situation as best as can be expected.

I wrote UNC-TV here in North Carolina and they wrote back saying they have “no plans to show the program in the immediate future.” This could mean anything but I’m optimistic.

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In an effort not to feed the creationist, let me try to steer the topic back to a semblance of the original in a lame attempt at humour.

Since $16000 is exactly the minimum contribution to get co-sponsored by the museum, had I been in charge I would’ve given the DI $1 back. That means they still pay almost as much as they wanted, freely and (according to them) unknowingly of the consequences but untangles the museum from any standing practices.

After all, the DI doesn’t want co-sponsorship, don’t They? they just want to give a museum a big bag of money so they can continue to do science in exchange for a private screening of a film that for all we know could have been the pictures of D*mbski’s last holiday (damn you, PTers! I no longer remember which vowel goes there! ‘u’ seems so *natural* and *designed* to go there!).

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

You know, Grey, I agree. The name “Dumbski” is full of so much Complex Awesome Information, that it couldn’t be the result of a single, random, point-mutation. His name was clearly designed to enable that.

This is precisely how the intelligent design movement has gotten as far as it has: by advocating outwardly inoffensive ideas in ever-more prestigious places, thereby giving the movement scientific validity.

I would change that to “the appearance of scientific validity.

It must be asked: Is the bear Catholic?

RBH: “In fact, of course, nature is full of ‘design’ — of structures and processes that are ‘fitted’, more or less well, to their functions in larger systems.”

Well, there you go then. You’ve located a pattern which repeats on progressively larger scales. Such a progression to ever-larger systems ultimately leads to the entire cosmos, and your statement regarding systemic functionality can be refitted to scale. That is, one can say that the entire universe is ultimately well-fitted, more or less, to its function.

But of course, the universe, by definition including all that is observable or uniquely implied by observation, exists in no larger system. Therefore, its function is either undefined, or reflexively defined only with respect to the universe itself. Now, if it is undefined, then the universe has no function; it is a fluke, a poof of smoke appearing, or perhaps not appearing, out of the void. But then (by causal and compositional transitivity) so is everything within the universe, regardless of the limited sense apparently being made of it. Causality terminates, and science along with it, at that level.

But then science per se has no say whatsoever regarding the correctness or empirical relevance of the question to which this answer has been given, and must defer to the philosophy of science.

On the other hand, say that the function of the cosmos is defined with respect to the universe itself. Then we have functional reflexivity, and that, I’m afraid, can be used as the basis for an appropriate kind of theology. So really, RBH, what we have here is a choice between primal acausality or (some naturalistic form of) theology.

So my question is this: what evidence have you either way? [I’ll jump the gun a bit and assert that you have no evidence. Therefore, both hypotheses are in play, causally speaking. And since causality is the subject matter of science, both are in play, scientifically speaking. And that’s what the Privileged Planet happens to be about.]

Now, one can of course deplore the “lack of evidence” regarding such matters, and tirelessly assert that science must confine itself only to matters on which evidence is clearly available. But the history of science tells us an interesting tale about that: a great deal of evidence for a great many hypotheses has been persistently neglected because researchers had no idea what they should be looking for, and/or because their models, methods and equipment were temporarily ill-suited to find it even if they had known. Yet some of these hypotheses survived, and because they continued to inspire research even while in-the-box minds continued to claim that the temporary methodological restrictions of science must forever restrict the content of science, they were vindicated in the end.

This should be telling us that science deserves a break from in-the-box circular reasoning. The sheer level of the questions addressed by The Privileged Planet places them in a different, but no less meaningful, category of science than more localized and easily investigated hypotheses, and science must grow to accommodate the questions it asks.

Science needs to recognize this and adjust its approach to such questions accordingly. The Smithsonian has failed to recognize the very real possibility that science can extend its arsenal of rational methods in that direction, that it is responsible to do so, and that it is in fact in the very process of meeting this responsibility.

This is a serious mistake on the part of the Smithsonian. But again, at least they have the wit to permit the screening after all.

[Incidentally, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the Discovery Institute, and I would naturally object to being categorized in that way. The DI and its frankly political agenda are totally irrelevant to my arguments.]

But then (by causal and compositional transitivity) so is everything within the universe, regardless of the limited sense apparently being made of it. Causality terminates, and science along with it, at that level.

Said like one who is truly ignorant of science. You didn’t even feign a coherent line of thought there, let alone anything evidence-based, but once again tried to dictate your beliefs into science. Not unusual for IDists, and/or Michael Finley.

But then science per se has no say whatsoever regarding the correctness or empirical relevance of the question to which this answer has been given, and must defer to the philosophy of science.

Only possible to say based on your made-up claims about science.

Anyway, I’ve probably said enough. You needn’t bother (unless you want to) to write and say that you won’t discuss things with me, Michael, since I’m only interested in what you say as a grand exposition of the bankruptcy of metaphysics and philosophy based upon metaphysics. Nothing you say is based upon anything that is accepted by science and the better forms of philosophy. So I’m only too glad if you “won’t discuss” these things with me, since the only proper response is to show up the vacuity of your statements, then ideally to ignore you and your preconceptions of how science is impossible and/or includes entities that exist outside of investigable causal chains (where causality is appropriate).

“Maybe you didn’t understand my point…”

It’s much more likely that, in your three VERY long posts, the point was to obscure the very plain fact that you have an opinion which is unassailable by ANY combination of facts by any (other) theory, in either the common or scientific definition of the word.

If you’re under thirty (or NOT a “Christian” of the sort that creates trouble because they lack any sense of wonder or curiosity. but especially modesty, in looking at the Universe) I can put up with this sort of self-aggrandizing argument, in person. After years of seeing it served up with shovels on the Net, however, my patience for your kind of should-know-better adults has soured. I wish you the blessings of modesty. May you realize how wonderfully unique, and unimportant, and wrong every thought you will ever have is.

neurode Wrote:

Now, one can of course deplore the “lack of evidence” regarding such matters, and tirelessly assert that science must confine itself only to matters on which evidence is clearly available.

Yeah, using empirical evidence instead of rambling metaphysical speculation is indeed a hallmark of science, I would say. The WaPo editorial said pretty much the same thing, and gave this as the reason why the Smithsonian should not be screening Discovery Institute propaganda films.

But the history of science tells us an interesting tale about that: a great deal of evidence for a great many hypotheses has been persistently neglected because researchers had no idea what they should be looking for, and/or because their models, methods and equipment were temporarily ill-suited to find it even if they had known. Yet some of these hypotheses survived, and because they continued to inspire research even while in-the-box minds continued to claim that the temporary methodological restrictions of science must forever restrict the content of science, they were vindicated in the end.

Except the Priviledged Planet stuff, along with the rest of the Discovery Institute’s polemics, does not represent the outcome of research, nor has it inspired any research. Quite simply, it doesn’t appear capable of being researched. After going at it for over a decade, the DI has yet to even describe what an ID research program might look like, let alone get actual results. They have managed to lobby school boards, write editorials attacking the integrity of scientists, stage conferences for politicians, and recently get a promotional film screened at a major institution in exchange for a suitable bribe. One might reasonably wonder if all that stuff is a wise use of their time and resources, if they’re goals are truly scientific in nature.

Now I take your point that maybe we’re all short-sighted and just aren’t looking at things the right way. Maybe the DI will be vindicated when it turns out that they were really on to something afterall. I suppose it’s possible. More likely it’ll be tossed on the trash heap like most other things that get “persistently neglected”, but maybe they’ll come up with some real science. If and when that happens, I agree the SI should screen their films. Until then, they should be judged according to what they’re actually doing, which fomenting a heavy-handed religious and ideological crusade.

(1) Is it possible to answer the question “does God exist” (yes, no or maybe) without involving religion?

(2) Is it possible to answer the question “are some parts of nature designed” without involving science?

The correct answer to metaquestion 1 is technically “yes”; the putative existence of God is a philosophical question independent of the specific doctrine of any particular religion. Moreover, since the G-word is not mentioned in the film, it would make no difference even if the answer were “no”.

Creationists and IDers have testified, in court, under oath, that creation “science” and intelligent design “theory” are SCIENCE, and have NO religious aims, effect or purpose, and do NOT have the goal of either advancing or supporting religion or religious beliefs. If that is true (and of course I think creationists/IDers are flat-out lying to us when they claim that), then they simply have no reason – none at all whatsoever – to talk about God or the Bible or faith or Christianity or atheism or supernaturalism or any other religious opinion.

So why do they keep bringing it up anyway?

The implication is clear: no matter which side of the controversy you’re on

Specifics, please. What, precisely, is “the controversy” that you speak of. Who is on one side, and who is on the other. The people on one side are claiming … what, and the people on the other side are claiming … what.

IDers like to play “bait and switch” whenever they talk about “the controversy”. I’ll assume for now that you are not doing so as well. So please be specific and tell me exactly what “controversy” you are reffering to.

And please don’t make me ask you a dozen times before you answer (another ID habit).

This should be telling us that science deserves a break from in-the-box circular reasoning.

Please be so kind as to show us what OUTSIDE the box reasoning you offer instead. Please show us a scientific theory of ID and tell us how to test it using the scientific method.

Or are IDers just sitting on the scientific discovery of the millenium and refusing to tell anyone about it.

Show us your alternative. By all means. Please please please, pretty please with sugar on it.

Please.

That is, one can say that the entire universe is ultimately well-fitted, more or less, to its function.

Ummm, what would a universe look like that was NOT “well-fitted, more or less, to its function” . … . .?

Glen Davidson Wrote:

…grand exposition of the bankruptcy of metaphysics and philosophy based upon metaphysics.

Who are you supposed to be? Carnap? Ayer? You’re about 75 years too late. That ship has sailed and sunk. ‘Metaphysics’, whether pragmatic (Quine), descriptive (Strawson) or traditional (Loux) is no longer passe. If you keep going past ‘plant’ and ‘animal’ on the generic tree you’ll run into it sooner or later. Category theory is a necessary branch of inquiry that underwrites all of empirical science, and it happens to be the province of philosophy. Bankrupt? I suggest you take another look at the account balance.

Metaphysics’, whether pragmatic (Quine), descriptive (Strawson) or traditional (Loux) is no longer passe. If you keep going past ‘plant’ and ‘animal’ on the generic tree you’ll run into it sooner or later. Category theory is a necessary branch of inquiry that underwrites all of empirical science, and it happens to be the province of philosophy. Bankrupt? I suggest you take another look at the account balance.

It isn’t for nothing that I avoid analytic philosophy for the most part. I expect it’s one reason why the US is bothered by creationists, since metaphysics still is a part of the landscape here.

And I don’t need a lecture from someone who thinks that various philosophical authorities lend credence to metaphysics. I know that’s really all you’ve got, and that most great breakthroughs in science didn’t come from intellectual midgets thinking along the lines of category theory. It isn’t necessary for science, phenomenology can handle scientific thought quite well without sinking into metaphysics.

You’ve only got herd mentality on your side. I avoided metaphysical philosophy particularly because I detest belief based in herd thought.

Come on, now, Glen. Surely you can do better than that.

Let me spell it out for you. To make any pronouncement at all about “science”, you need a metalanguage of the language of science. (No such metalanguage, no such pronouncement.) In purporting to be such a metalanguage, scientific phenomenology qualifies as metaphysics. This is true on logical grounds, and applies regardless of any disclaimer by anyone in particular, whether of a phenomenological persuasion or otherwise.

So if you don’t like metaphysics, you don’t like phenomenology either. And in that case, you and the scientific method are in a hole out of which you can never climb. Moreover, your statements regarding science are rendered null and void, your mouth having been zipped shut by logic.

Do you understand?

You’ve only got herd mentality on your side. I avoided metaphysical philosophy particularly because I detest belief based in herd thought.

As someone once said;

“Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relationship to one another as masturbation and sexual intercourse”.

It isn’t for nothing that I avoid analytic philosophy for the most part. I expect it’s one reason why the US is bothered by creationists, since metaphysics still is a part of the landscape here.

It isn’t necessary for science, phenomenology can handle scientific thought quite well without sinking into metaphysics.

Glen, you need to get a grip. Do you honestly suppose that the Continentals are more friendly to science than the analytics? Please. From Heidegger through Sarte to Derrida and Foucault, there’s not a friend of science among them. They’re too busy splashing around in the life-world or tearing the subject down into various structures to pay Darwin much mind.

And if you think phenomenology has anything to do with science, you need to go back to school. The father of phenomenology penned a magnificent critic of your naive realism with The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. I suggest you read it.

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Creationist Physics Lecturer wrote:

Unbelievable.

In a vectorspace representation of a collision, action and reaction forces are arrows connected head-to-head, reflecting the fact that they are oppositely directed. The heads of the arrows do not overlap, they meet at a point (the event); nowhere is one arrow superimposed on the other.

Your lectures are unbelievable. In a vector space, vectors have no position. It doesn’t matter where you put them. What you’re thinking of is just a visual tool called a force diagram. It is very useful for keeping track of simple mechanics, but doesn’t work all the time. It fails all over the place in EM.

Please, keep going. You’re making creationists look bad.

So, neurode, which force is the “cause” and which the “effect” when two cars going 60 mph hit each other head on?

What we have to constantly remind ourselves is that people like neurode are used to spewing their specious polysyllabic nonsense in the direction of very ignorant and gullible people who want very much for a seemingly intelligent person to be on their side. It works great on people utterly lacking the intellectual capacity to process it, so apparently these creationist blatherers think the same will work with people who know better. Go figure.

Pardon me for the wait, folks, but I’m just getting over a sudden attack of ROTFLMAO brought on by your delightful, insightful posts!

Yes, the luminaries here at Panda’s Thumb have finally succeeded in teaching me, and thousands of lurkers out there, a profound lesson. With the illustrious help of the author of a blast of postmodernist wisdom entitled “Social Aspects of Technology and Science”, they have determined that there really isn’t any such thing as causality at all (at least, “in the physical sciences”)!

No longer need we worry about (classical or wave) functions causally connecting the prior states of objects, once absurdly referred to as “causes”, with their subsequent, dependent states, formerly mislabeled as “effects”. No, indeed! The world, destined always for chaos, has at last become a vast, amorphous blob of Social Text, reflecting the light of reason with all the scientific, philosophical and mathematical fidelity of the glistening coat of mucous on the hide of a giant, pulsating garden slug!

What a world you’ve created for yourselves over here. It’s not very friendly to science, which of course required the antiquated notion that future states could to some extent be predicted from past states, but it’s a metaphysical paradise for those who hate being pinned down in an argument.

[PS - neo-anti-luddite: “So, neurode, which force is the ‘cause’ and which the ‘effect’ when two cars going 60 mph hit each other head on?”

Both cars are implicated in the cause AND the effect, genius! Their relative momenta cause an event, the collision, and are thereby conservatively transferred into an effect, i.e. their momenta following the collision. It seems that you and your friends may have a bit of confusion regarding the distinction between cause and effect, as it relates to the distinction between the objects involved in the event marking the transition from one to the other.

But on second thought, why don’t you ask your fellow ‘thumbers? I’m sure one of them will have an answer more to your liking, and it will probably be funny as hell to boot!]

Pardon me for the wait, folks, but I’m just getting over a sudden attack of ROTFLMAO brought on by your delightful, insightful posts!

Yes, the luminaries here at Panda’s Thumb have finally succeeded in teaching me, and thousands of lurkers out there, a profound lesson. With the illustrious help of the author of a blast of postmodernist wisdom entitled “Social Aspects of Technology and Science”, they have determined that there really isn’t any such thing as causality at all (at least, “in the physical sciences”)!

No longer need we worry about (classical or wave) functions causally connecting the prior states of objects, once absurdly referred to as “causes”, with their subsequent, dependent states, formerly mislabeled as “effects”. No, indeed! The world, destined always for chaos, has at last become a vast, amorphous blob of Social Text, reflecting the light of reason with all the scientific, philosophical and mathematical fidelity of the glistening coat of mucous on the hide of a giant, pulsating garden slug!

What a world you’ve created for yourselves over here. It’s not very friendly to science, which of course required the antiquated notion that future states could to some extent be predicted from past states, but it’s a metaphysical paradise for those who hate being pinned down in an argument.

[PS - neo-anti-luddite: “So, neurode, which force is the ‘cause’ and which the ‘effect’ when two cars going 60 mph hit each other head on?”

Both cars are implicated in the cause AND the effect, genius! Their relative momenta cause an event, the collision, and are thereby conservatively transferred into an effect, i.e. their momenta following the collision. It seems that you and your friends may have a bit of confusion regarding the distinction between cause and effect, as it relates to the distinction between the objects involved in the event marking the transition from one to the other.

But on second thought, why don’t you ask your fellow ‘thumbers? I’m sure one of them will have an answer more to your liking, and it will probably be funny as hell to boot!]

(Whoops - same deal again. Got a no-go message the first time around.)

With the illustrious help of the author of a blast of postmodernist wisdom entitled “Social Aspects of Technology and Science”, they have determined that there really isn’t any such thing as causality at all

What is it with metaphysical fools like Neurode, who only deride, spurn, and mock learning and intelligence? Certainly he’s not going to learn anything, since a good source is to be reviled and spat upon by those with near-total ignorance about the subject. I guess it’s what they have to do to keep their precious lies out there in the public, their attempts to make untruth appear to be truth, nonsense appear to be sense.

Of course the point of the link is that it’s not “post-modernist”, it’s essentially physics for people like Neurode who lack a basic knowledge of physics. But physics is not acceptable to those who tell the Big Lies. Naturally he calls it post-modernist, letting an epithet stand in for actual evidence, but you know the dolt.… Unsurprisingly, the source was not from physics per se, since mostly “causality” is simply left alone in physics. There isn’t much point in countering the false conceptions that physics students might have about causality, instead the actuality of the situation is presented. The source is a good one, and of course Neurode is free to show that it is wrong from actual physics texts, but as we all know he cannot, nor does he feel the compunction of honesty to actually back up his attacks on science.

No longer need we worry about (classical or wave) functions causally connecting the prior states of objects, once absurdly referred to as “causes”, with their subsequent, dependent states, formerly mislabeled as “effects”. No, indeed! The world, destined always for chaos, has at last become a vast, amorphous blob of Social Text, reflecting the light of reason with all the scientific, philosophical and mathematical fidelity of the glistening coat of mucous on the hide of a giant, pulsating garden slug!

Dogs know how to attack, but unfortunately they know neither physics nor philosophy, only wretched barking.

As to “causality” in physics, one does have to explain how “causality” appears to exist through the various quantum arrangements. Indeed, one not uncommonly encounters physics considerations which are intended to mesh our notions of causality with what actually happens in physics. However that’s an interpretation of events and interactions which are normally not considered to be “causal” in any traditional sense, rather it connects our sense of causality with the probabilities and entanglements known to occur in quantum mechanics.

Sneering idiots wouldn’t understand this, however, and simply attack where they could learn. How would anybody like this stunningly ignorant and closed-minded fool teaching their kids?

Btw, I argue for causality in the proper contexts, holding 2LoT to be necessary to uphold in explaining mind, evolution, and cosmology. 2LoT is part of the complex that gives rise to the collection of interactions that we often call “causality”, and both it and normal “causality” are abandoned without a thought by IDists and creationists, including the present shrill and ignorant “Neurode”. I defended causality, though not by that name (wouldn’t want knowledgeable people to think that I claim that causality is really the issue in physics), in Commentary (Feb. 2005, letters) by pointing out that we stick to the laws of thermodynamics in dealing with both evolution as a physics matter, as well as consciousness as neurophysics (plus electrical fields, in my view). But Neurode will trample his precious causality, and the actual physics behind the complexes that we call causality, all in the name of religion (or science, depending on the venue).

What a world you’ve created for yourselves over here. It’s not very friendly to science, which of course required the antiquated notion that future states could to some extent be predicted from past states, but it’s a metaphysical paradise for those who hate being pinned down in an argument.

Are you going to be stupid and uneducated your entire life? Probably. Anyway, if anyone was concerned about this idiot caring about science, here’s the best evidence yet that the concern is to counter science and learning, and to substitute fulmination and name-calling in its place. You are one dumb puppy, Neurode.

Their relative momenta cause an event, the collision, and are thereby conservatively transferred into an effect, i.e. their momenta following the collision. It seems that you and your friends may have a bit of confusion regarding the distinction between cause and effect, as it relates to the distinction between the objects involved in the event marking the transition from one to the other.

The slipperiness of the meaning of “cause” and “effect” in the paragraph above ought to be obvious even to one as prejudiced as yourself, Neurode. It’s one reason why good sources like the link I gave point out that “cause” is meaningless in the physics sense, though not in the practice of physics. But you rant meaninglessly in your appalling ignorance and will to power, exposing the extreme weakness not only of everything that you have posted heretofore, and more importantly, the apparent weakness of your mind as it has been constructed through time (too bad, since you probably have enough native intelligence). Anyway, whatever lies are necessary for you to ignore the truth appear to be justified in your eyes. And you just go on and on, demonstrating that you have never had anything to say in philosophy or in science.

I note that, along with everything else he’s done and said wrong, Neurode carefully changed a question again to dodge answering it, ie from:

neo-anti-luddite Wrote:

So, neurode, which force is the “cause” and which the “effect” when two cars going 60 mph hit each other head on?

notice how the word force is eliminated for the non-reply:

neurode Wrote:

Both cars are implicated in the cause AND the effect, genius! Their relative momenta cause an event, the collision, and are thereby conservatively transferred into an effect, i.e. their momenta following the collision.

A sure sign of a social studies person who’s been told they can write any old rubbish they want as long as they first redefine the question accordingly and then remember to use big words (not necessarily in context either). I remember one of them gloating over the ease of their exams when approached that way, compared with science and maths where you actually have to get things correct.

Hey Neurode,

What causes a radioactive atom to decay when it does?

Thanks.

OK Neurode,

I am certain that you aren’t Lawrence Krauss or Glenn Starkman in disguise. They are incapable of being so wrong ven if they tried. OK maybe you are Bill D getting ready for your summer nonsense on IDoC. Happily for yourself you have stopped spouting metaphysics after having been fisked thoroughly yesterday. Following my advice you have decided to “science” instead today. But you don’t seem to be getting very far. This could be because of not merely ignorance but avidya or agnana. Buddhist thought usually puts not ignorance across from knowledge but avidya or the wrong learning. Similarly in classical Vedanta the opposite of knowledge is the immature incapability to learn. This results in hilarious thinking that the propounder doesn’t realise is about him.

What those bows and arrows mean on paper is way beyond your comprehension. An object is always in the state of the third law of motion. There is no “cause” or “effect” here. Take a good Physics textbook and read thru it. any doubts? There are 100s here to help you.

You seem to be getting close to Bill D’s style of argument take a simple idea and spin it out of shape using some clever hooks to get the gullible tangled - you’ve read Sal Cordova out here, so you know what IDoC does to otherwise keen minds - turns their thinking into kludge.

Keep going. You will soon have enough to produce another Jack Chick or John Woodmorappe tract. Another great place for funny science is http://www.commonsensescience.org/. They must be on the lookout for faculty. Check them out some time.

neurode wrote:

Can PaulP prove that the concepts labeled “purpose” and “design” cannot possibly have scientific relevance? I think not. In fact, I daresay that PaulP is no closer to such a proof than anyone else. Therefore, Witt’s comment sheds no new light on the situation, or anybody’s comments thereon

Sorry neurode, for the second time you have got it backwards. It is up to those who say that purpose and design have a role to prove their case. All the rest of your argument falls because of this failing. I am surprised someone who shows such philosophical sophistication keeps committing such an elementary error.

Again, I’m amused. However, since you persist in your jabbering, you should know that I can no longer take it seriously.

After all, you contribute nothing new. Your arguments range from absurdity to irrelevance, your debate tactics are unformly tawdry and transparent, your collective understanding of even the most basic science and philosophy is too impoverished to merit a listening…not just by me, but by anybody with a brain cell. This whole website is obviously a mere show of presence, an electronic chatterbox run for that sector of the body politic with certain minority philosophical leanings, but insufficient mental capacity to see through the degenerate “reasoning” of its major participants.

The rationale is clear enough: those who see through it all can’t be reached in any case (so it matters not what they think), while those who get suckered in, while being unable to contribute intellectually to “the cause” (apparently a hodgepodge including elements of atheism, materialism, and religio-scientific separatism united against the ID movement) can be used as a zombie army of letter-writers, hecklers, and troublemakers by the self-styled “brains of the operation”, such as they may be. Hence, the successful campaign of letters and calls to the Smithsonian, which was thereby intimidated into besmirching its own record of public education and support for science.

Of course, you should all feel intense shame for letting yourselves be used in this manner. But sadly, you appear to fall short of the required level of ethical awareness. Therefore, you will no doubt continue to jabber, your culpability will increase, and your cacophonous idiocy will reverberate along the corridors of time like the sounds which emanate from a burning zoo…enraging some, enticing others, and boring the rest to sleep.

Those of you who can still extricate yourselves should do so. To the remainder, good day.

How many of us truly think that this ignorant, projective troll will really leave the grownups alone?

Hopefully, he’s telling the truth (!). He has assumed his conclusions, ignored or dismissed what everyone has said, discovered that his conclusions match his assumptions just as he knew all along, and doubtless feels imperviously superior. If he’s happy with this performance, it’s a win-win for everyone. I love happy endings.

Your arguments range from absurdity to irrelevance, your debate tactics are unformly tawdry and transparent, your collective understanding of even the most basic science and philosophy is too impoverished to merit a listening … degenerate “reasoning” of its major participants… But sadly, you appear to fall short of the required level of ethical awareness. Therefore, you will no doubt continue to jabber…your cacophonous idiocy…

All this from a guy who talked about the relative positions of vectors in vector spaces. ROTF.

I’m guessing that neurode got beat up a lot as a kid; it seems to be the most common source of such misplaced arrogance.

My question about which force was the “cause” and which the “effect,” neurode, was a basic one. As SEF noted, I didn’t ask about which car was the cause, but rather which 60 mph of the 120 mph “force of impact” was the “cause” and which the “effect.” As far as I can tell, under your view of Newton’s laws, inertia is an “effect” rather than a property. If you can assign a “causality” to inertia, then by all means show me where the force of one of the cars’ velocity ends and the force of that car’s inertia begins. Differentiate the two. It shouldn’t be too hard, considering that one’s an “effect” and one’s a “cause,” right?

I love Lit majors!

I’m guessing that neurode got beat up a lot as a kid; it seems to be the most common source of such misplaced arrogance.

Once the arrogance and beatings are occuring, though, which is cause and which is effect?

C’mon, Glen, you know that you can’t assign relative postiions in beatingspace.…

Oops. On the off-chance that neurode comes back, I should note that I meant to say “If you can assign a “causality” to inertia, then by all means show me where the force of one of the cars’ velocity ends and the force of the other car’s inertia begins.”

My bad.…

I’m sure I’ll have to wait for the final authority’s word on that, though. Because as we know, he has theology and metaphysics on his side.

Neurode - please don’t go. Never mind these nasty people. You were going to tell us about the Laws of Causality .….…

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 1, column 71, byte 71 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Hey Neurode,

What causes a radioactive nucleus to decay when it does?

Thanks.

Wow, so after all that philosophical obfuscating, Neurode’s argument boils down to standard creationist rhetoric. Scientists are nothing more than a political body who hold “certain minority philosophical leanings,” (re: godlessness). See, Neurode feels, if most people are religious, then science should make room in the laboratory for religious questions, whether science is capable of answering them or not. Any resistence to religious inquiry masquerading as scientific inquiry is instigated by “elements of atheism, materialism, and religio-scientific separatism,” whatever that last movement is.

Interesting how the boob chose to reveal his true colors at last, if any doubt remained.

Wow, so after all that philosophical obfuscating, Neurode’s argument boils down to standard creationist rhetoric. Scientists are nothing more than a political body who hold “certain minority philosophical leanings,” (re: godlessness). See, Neurode feels, if most people are religious, then science should make room in the laboratory for religious questions, whether science is capable of answering them or not. Any resistence to religious inquiry masquerading as scientific inquiry is instigated by “elements of atheism, materialism, and religio-scientific separatism,” whatever that last movement is.

Interesting how the boob chose to reveal his true colors at last, if any doubt remained.

I know *I* am shocked. Utterly shocked.

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This page contains a single entry by Burt Humburg published on June 3, 2005 8:52 AM.

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