O’Reilly Interviews Sternberg

| 42 Comments

On Wednesday night, FOX News anchor Bill O’Reilly interviewed Rick Sternberg. The subject was Sternberg’s allegations of harassment at the hands of various employees of the Smithsonian Institution. The cause of this harassment, says Sternberg, was his decision to publish a pro-ID article during his stint as editor of The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. For some background on the situation see the recent PT entries by Nick Matzke here, and by Andrea Bottaro here.

Over at EvolutionBlog I have posted this analysis of O’Reilly’s segment. Enjoy!

42 Comments

Wait…this can’t possibly be true! Bill O’Reilly, the man whose favorite form of discourse consists of yelling “SHUT UP!” at the top of his lungs, is spinning the news madly to suit his own biases (and those of his Faux News bosses) Oh, say it isn’t so!

All I can say about that is, “loofah”.

Couldn’t possibly be true could it? After all, there could never be ANY bias against the ID folks could there be? I mean the pro-evolution side has always been so fair and honest over the years. PUKE!!!!!!

BIAS against ID? Well of course. Although it is actually a bias in favor of rationality, science, effectiveness, honesty, collegiality, and the benefits of civilization. Look Mr. Cohen – bias in and of itself is moally neutral. Irrational biases are to be scorned, but not because they are biases, but because they are irrational. ID and its pimps are to be scorned, are to be the subject of entirely appropriate bias, while they continue to lie, evade, distort, and attempt to shape culture to their own irrational and highly offensive (and entirely indefensible) ends. Spare me the rants about bias and provide something, anything, that ID has done that could possibley count as science. Something, anything, that ID has done that advances rather than retards knowlege. And no ‘somebody/everybody else does it’ doesn’t count.

hugs, Shirley Knott

And I’ll add “falafel” to “loofah.”

Shirly, I respect your opinion, but I disagree with your assumption that “bias in itself is morally neutral”. Just the fact that you believe “ID and it’s pimps are to be scorned” and that your point of view is the rational, scientific, effective, honest, collegiate one that benefits civilization is an example of immoral bias. That’s my opinion though.

The reason I say that is that you have failed to acknowledge that evolutionists have attempted the same things {lie, distort,evade, shape culture} you claim ID folks have done. They say the same about evolution being irrational and lacking merit, so I guess the argument goes on.

Don’t feed the troll.

ts, troll? elaborate. Sounds interesting, like maybe the troll character in the Stephen King movie “Cat’s Eye”?

Speakin’ of bias, if’un I’m gonna waste an hour of my life watchin’ the cable snooze channels at 8 p.m., then I’m watchin’ Countdown with Keith Olbermann instead of O’Lielly.

Don’t feed the troll.

Sound advice.

So rather than getting into a futile “you’re biased” - “no, YOU are!” discussion, let me just point out that every scholarly and scientific organization that’s made a public statement on the issue has come out against ID - so far as I’m aware. I have yet to hear of a single one that endorses it.

Irrational bias? I think not.

James,

since you seem so sure of your opinions, maybe you can clear up something that has been a major headache in this site for a few months now:

1) What, exactly, does ID theory state? 1a) If it is an intelligent designer, when did he do whatever it is he did and how? 1b) How far does evolution go?

2) Do you have any evidence to support your claims

3) What experiments could we do to check everything you answer to the above?

I’m sure our dear Rev. Dr. will be around sooner or later with his own post of questions about ID, but you can start with those.

Oh, btw, since you ask what a troll is, a troll is someone who enters a discussion only to insult and cause flamewars. Prove you’re not one by answering those questions. The Theory of Evolution already has, and if ID is to be on the same level, it must also. Don’t bother attacking evolution until you have an alternative.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Hey, wait one minute tough guy, read my posts, I was talking about bias on both sides of the fence, I never claimed to be able to clear up your major headache. (try some aspirin) Maybe you could explain it all though.

There is 150+ years of acumulated evidence for evolution, in the form of fossils, DNA, genetics, morphology, etc etc etc. There is no evidence, or even a stated theory on the side of ID. 99.999% of evolution claims and evidence stands strong, if not more. Not a single ID argument has been able to withstand scrutiny. Tell me again, how do you figure that there is “bias” in both sides?

Please note that you have made very serious allegations, james, and they are probably unfounded, mostly because science cannot hold bias against empty air. ID is completely empty - no theory, no evidence, no experiments, no research. Politically, of course, it is a powerful movement, and honest citizens will continue to have bias against political/religious movements trying to lie to school children, but that has very little to do with science.

So, essentially, we’re back to my questions: either explain how ID is scientific, and then how the rest of science can be biased against it, or shut up.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

I thought it was terrible when O’Reilly tried bluffing his way through the biologist he interviewed a few weeks ago (calling competent biologists ‘fascists’ then, too, and lying through his teeth about what ID is in the same way,) but crikey, this is disgusting. The man is so ridiculously credulous and content to yap off about subjects he doesn’t begin to comprehend. One gets the distinct impression he doesn’t understand or care what it means for a journal to repudiate an article it prints.

The Intelligent Design folks have to adhere to the same quality of standards as real science when trying to get into a respectable journal. Will the harassment never end! And O’Reilly’s crack about evolutionists squashing ID - yeah, hence why Dembski, Behe, Johnson and Wells have such a hard time publishing their books, and have sent so many articles to respectable journals.

-Schmitt.

The very fact that Sternberg chose to associate himself and his cause with that discredited blowhard speaks volumes.

It isn’t hard for me to fathom that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life and all it’s diversity, and that design is empirically detectable in nature and in living systems. As far as how the rest of science can be biased is easy. It comes down to what you choose to believe, and people on both sides will lie, cheat, steal etc to propagate their world view.

If you objectively look at history you will see this trend over and over.

It is not hard for me to fathom that the universe was created last thursday by an invisible pink unicorn, and all of life including memories of having existed before then. That doesn’t mean that I have a scientific theory. Neither is ID a theory as you have explained it. Things like “when” “how” come to mind. Does she keep tinkering with the universe? is she done? does evolution work at all? According to some ID proponents, only “microevolution” happens. On the other hand, acording to the only published ID paper, evolution has been hapening at least since 3.5 million years ago. Please tell me what flavour of ID is, and explain what experiments I can do to tell that it is more correct than the rest.

Oh, also, give some evidence for your position, james. You know, how science is biased against ID. I must say that I find it hard to believe. I am a scientist, and I would happily try out any ID experiment that you propose (assuming budget considerations, of course). You are allowed to look for and copy paste one. However, if you cannot, you have to admit that ID isn’t sicence and thus that the rest of science cannot be biased against it, anymore that it is biased against the Invisible Pink Unicorn Theory.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf, getting bored of the troll

It comes down to what you choose to believe, and people on both sides will lie, cheat, steal etc to propagate their world view.

If you objectively look at history you will see this trend over and over.

postmodern intellectual nihilism

Why does the troll call itself “james cohen” in one thread and “jamie morris” in another?

Of course there’s bias against ID! Just like there’s bias against geocentrism, flatearthism, phlogiston theory, luminiferous aether, HIV-denial, the idea that the ruins of Great Zimbabwe are evidence that the area was settled by Europeans hundreds of years earlier, and that therefore colonial domination of the area was entirely justified, and (with no moral equivalency implied) Holocaust denial.

“It isn’t hard for me to fathom that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life and all it’s diversity”

Are you saying that it isn’t hard to imagine such a possibility? True. Whatever the ultimate truth value of this statement, it follows pretty easily from standard ways of thinking - people make little stuff, so Big People must have made Big Stuff. In addition, I have a daring hypothesis that there are certain features of modern culture that would predispose people to such a belief. I know few workers have considered the effect of that obscure work known as the Bible … (ha ha ha, I’m so funny).

Besides repeating Gray Wolf’s questions, let me not that it is very easy to fanthom things that science suggests are completely inaccurate. It’s easy to fathom that many objects are solid through and through- certainly not mostly empty space! It’s easy to fathom that we are living on a flattish earth with a bowl of sky above us, across which a presumably not all that big gloing ball rolls across every day before disappering off the edge, followed by a pale, weaker ball. Etc., etc., etc., etc.

Are scientists human beings, and as such capable of dishonesty, etc.? Of course. That’s why high standards are so important, and the whole Meyer/Steinberg affair so icky. As far as I can tell, based on my very limited knowledge of the situation, Sternberg’s action resulted in lots of angry e-mails flying back and forth - some apparently mistating facts - and people considering having him fired or his access, etc., restricted, neither of which have come to pass.

Especially in the absence of clear disclipinary action, we run into the difficult question of what counts as a legitimate academic freedom/free speech complaint when someone commits an apparent ethical slip in service of an apparently pseudoscientific belief. What should happen if an editor lets an arguably scientifically-questionable HIV-denial paper into a medical journal in apparent violation of publishing guidelines?

It isn’t hard for me to fathom that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life and all it’s diversity, and that design is empirically detectable in nature and in living systems. As far as how the rest of science can be biased is easy. It comes down to what you choose to believe, and people on both sides will lie, cheat, steal etc to propagate their world view.

This is all irrelevant. What is relevant is that science produces testable predictions – it’s a knowledge machine. Believing that intelligent causes are involved produces no testable predictions and no knowledge, just trolls.

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You might have something there, ts. ID creationism is the (or one of the) troll producing mechanisms. Just like a baby laughing or something like that is supposed to produce a fairy. What do you suppose the equivalence ratio is? Eg dollars put into ID per troll generated or number of trolls generated per public DI/religious begging letter or fatuous DI book published. Could we test for it experimentally? It’s unfortunately likely to be more of a social model than a physical one - unless we can dissect some of these trolls and determine that they really are subhuman or space alien in nature.

James, Much of the discussion on this subject here and elsewhere is opinion, point of view. For example, Dawkins’ comments about evolution and atheism are his opinion. But evolution, unlike ID, also has facts to back it up. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, no one’s opinions change the facts.

The IDers do nothing but spout opinions and points of view. They attack some scientists’ opinions about evolution and say “so there” but they don’t offer any facts. They don’t do science, and their yammering contributes nothing to the body of scientific knowledge. It is just a MAJOR DISTRACTION that is VERY ANNOYING. (And that explains why some people here are so testy at times.)

You are free to believe or “fathom” anything you want. (I like to believe that everyone is just a figment of my imagination – I am the only person who really exists.) If you believe “that design is empirically detectable in nature” that is your business, but you’d better be ready to present the empirical evidence if you want your ideas to be accepted as fact rather than opinion – or even discussed in a science setting. That’s not “bias.” That’s just the way science works.

I’m sure our dear Rev. Dr. will be around sooner or later with his own post of questions about ID

I *try* to query only coherent people.

Dan, I would like to poin tout that my Internet name is Grey Wolf, not Gray Wolf. Small difference, I know, but a rather important one for me (if nothing else, because it screws up my method of knowing if someone has answered me by name).

Lenny stated:

Lenny Wrote:

I *try* to query only coherent people.

Lenny, if you really held to that high standard, you would be more mute than an IDiot about their theory. :)

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf, on a posting mood

Hey! Give O’Really?? a break. He did call ID a “concept” twice.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 5, column 22, byte 293 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Sorry - I didn’t realize my post got bounced. “Syntax Error: mismatched tag … “ at 1:19 was supposed to be …

- again it bounced? I checked the kwickxml! Another try, a little different -

“Gray Wolf” I mean Grey. Sorry ‘bout the involuntary Americanization - at least it was only nominal! The best clatification of this that I’ve ever seen: (here) “Gray is a color.

Grey is a *colour*.”

Don’t forget, O’Reilly is the guy who, when reminded that all science (not just evolutionary science) was incomplete, replied: “That’s not true! … Let me give you an example. There are twenty-four hours in a day. Okay. That’s settled science. There are four seasons in a year.” (as Jason Rosenhouse pointed out back in January here out).

My post got bounced twice! Bias!! Biaaaaaaaas!!!

Boy, Mr. Cohen/Morris sure disappeared abruptly… :-)

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 9, column 145, byte 970 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

have to deal with trolls insisting that trolls are intelligently designed

Ah but in that case the Discovery Suppression Institute would have to confess (legally, in writing and with prior date-stamp) that they were deliberately behind all the troll activity - including the stoning and bombing of scientists and physicians. Otherwise it clearly was unintelligent design or merely emergent behaviour through evolution.

My post got bounced twice! Bias!! Biaaaaaaaas!!!

It didn’t get “bounced”. You typed it wrong, and it’s got a syntax error. The perl module that parses this stuff is very unforgiving, so all you see is that danged error message, which is often inaccurate. My guess is that you left the quotes out of href=”…”

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 3, column 2, byte 384 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

ts, I was joking, however poorly - you know, seeing (and screaming) bias everywhere - I did understand what happened, but wasn’t entirely sure of the terminology. What does one say when a post gets automatically rejected for this sort of thing? (Besides “@*&#$!”)? You’re right, though - it was a missing quote mark.

And this last time it was a neverending italization problem. I should just give up …

This is the second time, in about a month, that O’Reilly used “fascism/fascist” to describe mainstream science’s reaction to those who try to circumvent the rules. Has the DI objected to this egregious misuse of “fascism/fascist”? Weren’t thay all over someone a few months ago who used a similarly inappropriate Nazi analogy for anti-evolutionists?

James writes “It isn’t hard for me to fathom that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life and all it’s diversity, and that design is empirically detectable in nature and in living systems.”

It wasn’t hard for people to fathom that lightning bolts were hurled by God.

They were wrong.

THe issue is not what you can fathom James, but what you can demonstrate through experiment and evidence.

ts, I was joking, however poorly - you know, seeing (and screaming) bias everywhere

Like, duh. But since you were having so much trouble, I thought I’d help out a little. Someone else said that they weren’t going to post any more quote blocks until the “bug” got fixed, but there’s no bug to be fixed, just people’s own errors (and an unforgiving canned perl module that Reed has already said he’s not about to modify). Someone else complained of not being able to figure out the syntax because it was so different from everywhere else, and another person said the instructions assume too much “programming” knowledge. If KwickXML is “programming”, I wonder what they make of C++. Anyway, there seems to be no limit to people’s ineptness, so I didn’t make any a priori assumption about yours.

I did understand what happened, but wasn’t entirely sure of the terminology. What does one say when a post gets automatically rejected for this sort of thing? (Besides “@*&#$!”)?

Yes, that’s the technical term. :-) Or “rejected” will do, since it is true in a sense. Your post is sitting there on the server disk just as you entered it, but every time the software that makes up the web page runs your text through the KwickXML translator to turn it into a chunk of html, the translator returns the error message instead of anything you typed, so the translator can be said to be rejecting it. “bounced” is when you send an email to an invalid address and it is “bounced” back to you. But I doubt that you got a rejection email for your syntax errors here. :-)

P.S. http://dict.die.net/ defines these terms:

munge A derogatory term meaning to imperfectly transform information. mung: To destroy, usually accidentally, occasionally maliciously. mangle: destroy or injure severely trash: To destroy, e.g. the contents of a data structure. roach: A Bell Labs term meaning destroy, especially of a data structure. Hardware gets toasted or fried, software gets roached.

I suspect the last one is a reference to bugs, although the first bug found was actually a moth, trapped between the points of a relay.

DAn S.: Just for you, I am going to add a Preview button, and I’m going to do it retroactively.

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This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on August 26, 2005 10:31 PM.

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