Deja vu all over again

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There is a good article in the New York Times on the problems faced by natural history museum staffs when confronted by creationists. This is the very situation that drew me into the Evo/creato argument.

Enjoy.

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Suddenly, we see a number of articles about how to cope with creationist nonsense. This is good; opposing creationism isn't enough, we also need plans for how to oppose creationism. Berkeley has updated their instructive website, Understanding E... Read More

Suddenly, we see a number of articles about how to cope with creationist nonsense. This is good; opposing creationism isn't enough, we also need plans for how to oppose creationism. Berkeley has updated their instructive website, Understanding Evo... Read More

I'm a little late coming to this discussion but I thought my readers who do not regularly visit more main stream science oriented sites or the important political blogs could use the advice in a this morning's New York Times... Read More

49 Comments

Wonderful! Now, can we start the same training for middle school, junior high school and high school biology teachers? Please?

Has it really gotten so bad lately for museum staffers? I mean, did they have to put up with this kind of thing in the past or is it simply that creationists have become more aggressive lately? Also, not sure I agree with the Q&A that evolution was “probably” the result of natural processes. What else is there? Aliens?

The exact quote is

How does evolution happen? Evolution is probably driven by several processes, the most important of which is natural selection.

The “probably” as I read it refers to the “several”, not to natural selection. I agree the wording is unfortunate. Better to have worded it something like “Evolution is currently thought by biologists to be driven by several processes, the most important of which is natural selection”.

RBH

I understand your point. Still, it seems easy to misinterpret (like I did). I can see how creationists would have a field day with that.

““When you are in a museum, you can’t antagonize people,” [Dr. Durkee] said. “Your job is to help them, to explain your point of view, but respect theirs.””

I know a lot of people on this blog that have already reached their wits end on the “respect” level.

Actually, more like had the ends of their wits frayed, torched, and exploded.

Courtesy, yes. Even patience. But “respect” may be asking a bit much. We are talking about folks, after all, who think human destiny was shaped by a talking snake.

I think this comment is what I can identify with most:

“It is no wonder that many biologists will simply refuse to debate creationists or I.D.ers,” she said, using the abbreviation for intelligent design, a cousin of creationism. “It is as if they aren’t listening.”

Yep.

But today’s NYT had this article on the evolution of cursing, which I liked even better. The NYT does a really good job of straight-up science reporting. But when they write about creationist shenenigans, it’s kind of hit or miss. Note that out of several people quoted in the first article, the only two without any relevant science background were John West of the DI, and Rusty Carter, the guy who leads the tours that harrass the museum staff. Now in this case giving them their say is appropriate, but it just goes to show what you’re up against when you’ve got trained scientists on one hand and those guys on the other.

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Steve Reuland’s post about the quote concerning biologists who refuse to debate IDers.….

It must be done anyway, the public views silence as assent, since this whole mess is about social dominance anyway.….

same as it ever was same as it *ever* was

My first post since my expulsion (sob!) from Dembski’s blog.….…file under Some People Just Can’t Handle Criticism.….we all know how disagreements are handled over there.…..

Ed Darrell wrote:

“Now, can we start the same training for middle school, junior high school and high school biology teachers? Please?”

Actually, Ed, NCSE has been doing this for years. Genie has given quite a few workshops for teachers. But NCSE’s resources are limited, so I would suggest, if this is really something you feel strongly about, contacting them and find out how you can help put such programs together.

NCSE is a terrific resource, but they can’t do all the work. If you have ideas about how to help in your own community, say organizing such a workshop with a qualified local university professor or some such, I’m sure they could help you out.

Better yet, volunteer to help them put together a comprehensive workshop guide for any scientist/professor who would be willing to hold such a workshop in their own communities. Such a guide could be then made available to anyone wanting to hold such a workshop.

To be frank, I read a lot of “we need to do this,” and “we need to do that,” on this list. But I seldom see, “I decided to DO this,” or “I decided to DO that.”

It’s easier than you think. And a lot more productive than just saying we need to.

My major prof is on a grant to create a biodiversity/evolution program from elementary school teachers. It was almost funded, passed scientific review, but because of the budget crunch, an administrator at NSF (or where ever) rejected it at the last moment.

Wonderful! Now, can we start the same training for middle school, junior high school and high school biology teachers? Please?

I offered to do this very thing through the UCIrvine “Summer Science” program for K-12 teachers, and at their “Future of Science” seminar held also for K-12 teachers. This year’s “Future of Science” seminar is actually devoted to earth science!

The offer was declined because they just don’t see the problem exists.

I should also point out that our department recently modified the evolutionary biology course from GENE/BIOL 4600 to GENE/BIOL 3000 so science education majors could take it. We have a lot of science ed majors now in the class where previously it was mostly pre-med students (genetic and biochem majors).

I don’t know about you guys. Because of this so-called “debate”, I’ve learnt more about evolution than I ever cared to. Perhaps the IDers are doing science a favor, afterall.

With arguments based on the wrong ground (non-natural causes), they will never win the debate in any significant sense of the word. They will have to resort to convoluted technically wrong arguments, which help defenders/practioners of evolutions strengthen their skills in explaining the theory to the public.

It is sad, however, to see polls which show that more than 50% of Americans do not believe that humans evolved from lower life forms, any many still think that the earth is a few thousand years old. This is coming from the most scientifically advanced country on the face of the earth.

I’m from Viet Nam, whose people once were referred by some as “those atheist communists”. Communists are brutal, but at least they do believe in science. Jon Steward put it well: “we were ‘under god’ when we fought the atheist communists, now what are we when we’re fighting religious fanatics?”

Interesting comments by Hung … I probably would have never read a book by Ernst Mayr or Richard Dawkins had it not been for my fundamentalist neighbors who kept telling my kids that science is for people going to hell. My daughter, especially, has benefited greatly by her Dads newfound activism for science – she has been offered a scholarship to CU Boulder and her intended major is biology. Thanks neighbors!

Re “Jon Steward put it well: “we were ‘under god’ when we fought the atheist communists, now what are we when we’re fighting religious fanatics?””

Maybe we’re defending religion from insiders who would damage it instead of outsiders who would damage it? Or something like that.

Henry

Bob Davis Wrote:

Most of the docents are volunteers like my Mom, simply passing along the information they’re given. Interesting that creationists would come in and try to question the docents like they were scientists.

This seems well in keeping with the creationist political agenda; they are not waging a scientific fight. It is pure politics all the way, and their only goal in this instance is to rattle the docent and embarrass the museum.

“It is pure politics all the way, and their only goal in this instance is to rattle the docent and embarrass the museum.” Harassing a museum volunteer … I fail to see the logic in that. Is it like a combination of shouting at the mailman when he brings you bills, and kicking grandma when she is trying to knit you a sweater.

Mr. Cartwright wrote: “My major prof is on a grant to create a biodiversity/evolution program from elementary school teachers.” Can elementary school children understand evolution? Adults seem to have difficulty with the concept.

Now, can we start the same training for middle school, junior high school and high school biology teachers? Please?

Here is the advice I give to every teacher who contacts me about getting harrassewd by creationist parents/students:

Sit them down, look them straight in the eye, and say, in a clear calm voice, “teaching creation ‘science’ is illegal. Not just ‘a bad idea’. Not just ‘unnecessary’. Not just ‘contrary to state guidelines’. It is illegal. As in ‘against the law’. As in ‘can’t do it’. Period.”

Then hand them a copy of the Maclean and Aguillard decisions. Have them read them. Twice.

And if they STILL have complaints, hand them the phone number of a local lawyer, and invite them to take the matter up with the Supreme Court if they don’t like it.

It is sad, however, to see polls which show that more than 50% of Americans do not believe that humans evolved from lower life forms, any many still think that the earth is a few thousand years old. This is coming from the most scientifically advanced country on the face of the earth.

This needs to be put in context, though. Most Americans can’t tell us what a “molecule” is. Most believe in things ranging from Bigfoot and ESP to pyramid power and alien abductions. Many can’t tell you the length of time it takes for the earth to revolve once around the sun — or even THAT the earth revolves around the sun. About one in eight US adults can’t find the US on a world map.

In short, we are pretty much a nation of pig-ignorant uneducated buffoons.

If nations that possessed weapons of mass destruction were required to pass collective IQ tests every year, we’d never make it.

So I don’t think that the public’s absymal ignorance about evolution is anything all that peculiar. We are, in general, pig-ignorant about EVERYTHING. (shrug)

And, as some wise man once said, in a democracy, we get exactly the sort of government that we deserve.

Know what I think is sad? That you folks label, ridicule, and censor legitimate concerns.

Eugenie Scott did this to a high-school senior at Emmaus High in PA a few years back when he tried to bring Michael Behe in to speak. You or I may not agree with all he has to say, but that’s the case in most scientific disciplines. Its just that in this case, atheism (or methodological naturalism) is the only POV that is tolerated.

I also think its sad that there are so many people that assert that spontaneous generation is a suitable explanation for the origin of life and the universe, while creation, or intelligent design is not.

Scott talks about the right-wing echo chamber, but this web-site is no better.

(That said, I agree with many of the posts here, just disillusioned by the tone…)

Know what I think is sad? That you folks label, ridicule, and censor legitimate concerns.

You’re talking out your ass again, Dave.

No one here has “censored” anything. Everyone, of every view, can post whatrever they want here. No one edits it, no one removes it, no one is banned for it. Go to Dembski’s site and see if any of that is true.

By screaming “I’M BEING CENSORED !!!!!!!!”, in front of everyone, on an international Internet blog, where the whole world can see – you simply make yourself look like an idiot. (shrug)

As for “legitimate concerns”, I’ve not seen any from IDers. To which “legitimate concerns” are you referring?

I also think its sad that there are so many people that assert that spontaneous generation is a suitable explanation for the origin of life and the universe, while creation, or intelligent design is not.

Could you get any more ridiculous? Spontaneous generation was not abiogenesis in the derogatory sense that you are implying (and by all means, actually go and indicate you understand current research in the field before spouting nonsense). Essentially, SG was an idea that simply held that the state of one thing naturally led to another, for example, that rotten meat would spawn maggots. Trash piles would spawn rats and the like. Louis Pasteur proved this wrong with his infamous experiment with the beaker with the curve in the top, however, this has nothing to do with the way life may have arisen via. abiogenesis and is an entirely different issue.

Using “Spontaneous generation” to describe abiogenesis is as ridiculous as implying modern evolutionary theory is “darwinism”. Scientific theories actually move on you realise and only survive if they make useful scientific predictions. Something that ID and creation fail to do miserably.

I also think its sad that there are so many people that assert that spontaneous generation is a suitable explanation for the origin of life and the universe, while creation, or intelligent design is not.

*SHOW* us this “creation, or intelligent design explanation”, Dave. Quit waving your arms about it, quit whining and moaning about how “oppressed” it is, and just SHOW IT TO US.

What *IS* this explanation, Dave?

What, according to this “explanation”, did the designer do, specifically, to produce life and the universe?

What mechanisms, according to this “explanation”, did the designer use to do whatever the heck you think it did to produce life and the universe?

Where, according to this “explanation”, can we see the designer using any of these mechanisms today to do … well . . anything?

Or is “POOF!!! God — er, I mean The Unknown Intelligent Desigenr – dunnit!!!!” the extent of your, uh, “creation or intelligent design explanation”? And are IDers just lying to us when they tell us that (1) ID isn’t creationism, and (2) ID isn’t about God or religion?

Dude, you can’t even seem to keep your OWN SIDE’S ARGUMENTS straight. Which kind of makes me think that you’re, well, not terribly bright, and not worth paying very much attention to. (shrug)

You know what I think is sad, Dave?

Five or six different people–and with a sweeter tone than we reserve for obvious drive-by trolls–have taken the time to request that you “put up” some details about your ID claims or “shut up.” It’s kind of like in poker, y’know, when the bluffings all over, and you’re forced to show your cards.

And here you are back again, and what’ve you brought with you?

Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, a big fat round gaping empty cavernous vacuous zero.

What do we get instead? A little whining baby, complaining about “censorship.”

Hey, pal, I specifically asked you to bring some documented examples of “censorship” with you when you came back. You couldn’t do it, couldja?

When people ask for evidence of your assertions, and you come whingeing back empty-handed, don’t expect to be welcomed back with open arms.

And, oops, I notice that all your posts–or should I say empty pretentious boasts?–are still right up there. Can you say the same of comments critical of one of your great ID “scientists” (“poseur” would be a far more accurate term), Willy Dembski, that get posted to his site? Of course not, since he regularly deletes critical posts and bans those temeritous enough to come back with more of the same.

Who’s censoring whom here, Davey? Whose science can stand the light of day? And whose psuedo-science can’t?

Not yours, that’s for sure. You’re all mouth and no substance. Or, to crib a phrase from the Lone Star State, you’re all hat, podner, and no cattle.

Now mooo-ve on over: this here’s a science site. And it’s now clear as crystal that you just ain’t got any.

Its just that in this case, atheism (or methodological naturalism) is the only POV that is tolerated.

Uh, hey junior, I’m not an atheist.

Oh, and “atheism” and “methodological naturalism” haven’t the faintest thing to do with each other.

If you disagree, then I have yet another question for you (which you also won’t answer – I am ***STILL*** waiting for you to explain to us how to use the scientific method to test supernatural hypotheses):

*ahem*

What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” or “atheistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic (oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” —- we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes — it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Dave,

Know what I think is sad? That you folks label, ridicule, and censor legitimate concerns.

I agree that some people have ridiculed IDers, which might or might not have helped the cause. As hilarious (and/or mean) as it is, I find the flying spaghetti monster thingy to be making a very valid logical point!

I also think its sad that there are so many people that assert that spontaneous generation is a suitable explanation for the origin of life and the universe, while creation, or intelligent design is not.

Creationism is a suitable explanation, it’s just not scientific. Which part of this you think is sad?

I think I can give Dave something positive and reinforcing on this website since he’s such a sensitive new-age guy. According to the peer reviewed journal “People” last week, there has been a huge increase in the numbers of exorcisms performed in the “most scientifically advanced country on earth” not by Roman Catholic Priests (although you can now “major” in exorcisms at the Vatican), but by Evangelical preachers. So Lenny, you can put that naturalistic materialistic methodologic atheist medicine of yours and stick it where the sun don’t shine (between Dave’s ears).

Dave, the fact that someone says “you are wrong” constitutes neither labeling, nor ridicule, nor censorship. Nor does it constitute ad hominem attack (misnamed) or persecution. It simply means that they regard your statements as unsupported by the data. Which they are.

Sit them down, look them straight in the eye, and say, in a clear calm voice, “teaching creation ‘science’ is illegal. Not just ‘a bad idea’. Not just ‘unnecessary’. Not just ‘contrary to state guidelines’. It is illegal. As in ‘against the law’. As in ‘can’t do it’. Period.”

Then hand them a copy of the Maclean and Aguillard decisions. Have them read them. Twice.

And if they STILL have complaints, hand them the phone number of a local lawyer, and invite them to take the matter up with the Supreme Court if they don’t like it.

Lenny, I would guess that you are not a public school teacher. In fact it is obvious. Your advice is what I think of as the “Kindergarden Cop” syndrome. (“The Kindergarden Cop” was an Arnold “der groppen Fürer” Schwarzenegger movie where he played a cop who treated kindergarden kids like they were in boot camp. In the movie, the childern all became geniuses. In reality, they would have cried, vomited, shat themselves and the “teacher” would have been fired, sued and possibly arrested.)

In a real world confrontation with parents in California over religious issues is always in the AP, or the principal’s office. You had better have your school site union rep and/or attorney present. You can not assume that the school administration, or the district administration, or the school board is on your side.

When I taught at the college level, I could counter student objection to evolution with appropriate counter arguments. The “capper” was a one hundred dollar bill I keep in my wallet: I’d bet $100 cash that there was no creationist argument other than “its all just a miracle” that I could not counter. Even with 10 to 1 odds, I never had any takers. With todays inflation, I would need to double the bet.

At the lower levels, one needs to be far more careful both for personal reasons and to “cushion” the student.

Otherwise, full steam ahead. I am particularly fond of:

By screaming “I’M BEING CENSORED !!!!!!!!”, in front of everyone, on an international Internet blog, where the whole world can see — you simply make yourself look like an idiot. (shrug)

This would be a wonderful comment for the creationist twittering of Timothy Birdnow.

And, uh Dave, while we’re on the subject, can you support your statement

Dave Wrote:

That you folks label, ridicule, and censor legitimate concerns.

Eugenie Scott did this to a high-school senior at Emmaus High in PA a few years back when he tried to bring Michael Behe in to speak.

with independent evidence that this actually happened as you state? That is, that Dr. Scott labeled, ridiculed, or censored a high school senior? Sounds out of character to me, but I’m willing to be convinced if you have the data. N.B. by “independent,” I mean sources outside of the (ID)C propaganda machine, e.g., DI, Hovind, Dembski, etc. And I presume that this didn’t involve teaching (ID)C in the public school classroom, right?

Dave claimed

Eugenie Scott did this to a high-school senior at Emmaus High in PA a few years back when he tried to bring Michael Behe in to speak.

Strange. Agape Press, hardly a stronghold of the Evil Darwinian Conspiracy, never once mentioned Eugenie Scott in its long story on that episode. Perhaps Genie has strange psychic powers we’re not aware of.

Or perhaps Dave is slinging bullshit.

RBH

Gary Hurd said, When I taught at the college level, I could counter student objection to evolution with appropriate counter arguments. The “capper” was a one hundred dollar bill I keep in my wallet: I’d bet $100 cash that there was no creationist argument other than “its all just a miracle” that I could not counter. Even with 10 to 1 odds, I never had any takers. With todays inflation, I would need to double the bet.

Here’s another little something that you can hit creationists with (*especially* politically conservative Orange County creationists who are most certainly “pro-nuke”). The Cristianitos fault runs right by the San Onofre plant – in the past, concerns have been raised about the possibility that the Cristianitos fault might still be active and pose a serious threat to San Onofre.

However, “old earth” geology has established quite convincingly that the Cristianitos fault has been inactive for at least 120,000 years and poses little threat to the San Onofre plant.

In fact, those reasurring “old earth” geological assumptions are laid out quite clearly in a California Coastal Commission document at http://www.coastal.ca.gov/energy/e-00-14rf.pdf.

This document desribes the findings regarding So Cal Edison’s proposal to construct a temporary spent nuclear storage facility at San Onofre. The geological history of the area is summarized in the document as follows (emphasis added): Surface Rupture and the Cristianitos Fault No active faults were found at the SONGS site despite concerted efforts during geologic studies related to construction and licensing permits before the NRC (Fugro, 1977; Shlemon, 1977; 1979). Several faults were encountered, but without exception they are truncated by the overlying marine terrace deposits, whose age has been established as approximately 120,000 years (1975a; Fugro, 1975b), thus indicating that there has been no movement on those faults since at least that time. Hence, the risk of surface rupture at the SONGS site is very low. The largest fault near the SONGS site is the Cristianitos fault, which passes less than one mile south of the site (Exhibit 10). This fault, which appears to be a low-angle normal fault, is similarly overlain by undisturbed terrace deposits (Exhibit 11), indicating that there has been no movement on it for at least 120,000 years (Shlemon, 1987). …

This raises the stakes quite a bit. This is not just a matter of what the little kiddies should be taught in science class – it’s a matter of public safety. The safety of tens of thousands of Orange County residents depends upon the validity of these “old earth” geological assumptions. If, as YEC’s insist, such assumptions are groundless, then there’s no way to ascertain the safety of the San Onofre nuke plant. So if SoCal YEC’s are really concerned “about the children”, they should be raising holy hell about San Onofre.

Do the science-oriented ever badger the docents at crationist museums?

Bruce asked

Do the science-oriented ever badger the docents at crationist museums?

Well, I visited a creationist museum a few weeks ago in the company of a half a dozen Ph.D. “evolutionists”, and we didn’t badger the docents. We asked some polite questions but not very many, because it was clear the docent, a pleasant elementary education major at a nearby university, knew essentially no science but only recited the script she’d been given.

Earlier this evening I attended a talk given by a young-earth creationist at a nearby college here, and the students at the talk asked a slew of very good (and very critical) questions, but there was no badgering.

Now I don’t doubt that it’s happened, but I’m not aware of any evolutionist group that has as its purpose going to creationist museums and badgering the docents. I have heard of creationist groups that do that at real science museums.

RBH

Hey Dave -

OK, the floor is yours. Here’s your moment to shine - don’t blow it.

Now, please:

Name ONE documented case of censorship of ID/ Creationist, er, “teachings”.

Name ONE documented case of an author’s being ridculed when scientifically sound data in support of ID/Creationism has been put forth. (In case you missed it, the qualifier here is SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND.) Which ties into.….

Name ONE documented case of ID/ Creationism providing a better explanation of some observed phenomenon than evolutionary theory.

Know what I think is sad, Dave? I think you won’t be able to provide a single answer to any of these questions (or any one else’s questions), yet you whine and cry about “censhoship”, “ridicule”, “legitimate concerns”.

Next time get your facts straight before you go spouting off your stupidity.

Oops - I forgot for a moment. IDiots/Creationists don’t let pesky things like facts get in the way of their politics.

Hey Dave -

I forgot to mention one other thing I think is sad.

It’s how IDiots/Creationists bitch and moan at the top of their lungs about “censorship”, “Darwinism can’t explain this”, “evolution can’t account for that”.

Yet when asked to put their money where their mouths are, they suddenly become very quiet. (Case in point: Sal). Why is that, Dave?

Why is it that IDiots/Creationist have plenty of complaints, but no solutions? That’s what is sad, Dave.

The silence speaks volumes.

the students at the talk asked a slew of very good (and very critical) questions, but there was no badgering.

Now I don’t doubt that it’s happened, but I’m not aware of any evolutionist group that has as its purpose going to creationist museums and badgering the docents. I have heard of creationist groups that do that at real science museums.

These slanted terms bother me. What is the difference between “asking good questions” and “badgering”, once the respective viewpoints are factored out? IS there any distinction, other than a “good question” being one asked of someone who agrees with the questioner’s basic assumptions, and “badgering” being one where this is not so? The question “How do you explain X” can always be interpreted either way, especially when the questioner “knows” the answer and is only trying to illustrate that the docent is brainwashed.

I’m willing to bet that nearly any question at a creationist museum that assumes evolution will be interpreted by the docent as “badgering”. When one side is creationist and the other is not, the ONLY purpose of ANY question is to show that the opponent is off the reservation. Neither side expects to come away informed from any such questions; the creationist asks to show that the docent “hates God”, while the evolutionist asks to show the docent’s profound ignorance and reliance on rote answers from a script.

Flint asks:

What is the difference between “asking good questions” and “badgering”,

Good point. Maybe a lawyer could answer.

This extract from NYT article sounds to me like badgering:

After about 45 minutes, “I told them I needed to take a break,” she recalled. “My mouth was dry.”

Flint asked

These slanted terms bother me. What is the difference between “asking good questions” and “badgering”, once the respective viewpoints are factored out? IS there any distinction, other than a “good question” being one asked of someone who agrees with the questioner’s basic assumptions, and “badgering” being one where this is not so?

Having encountered both creationist badgering and genuine questioning in the parking lot after school board meetings, I can identify the central difference between someone badgering me and someone asking good questions pretty easily. The two scripts look like this:

Genuine Questioning

Question: How do you evolutionists account for the sudden explosion of forms in the Cambrian?

Answer: Well, to begin with, there are now numerous fossils of Precambrian animals, and at least some of them appear to be ancestors of Cambrian animals. Further, there is evidence from molecular biology that the genetic divergences occurred tens of millions, or maybe even hundreds of millions of years before the Cambrian. So there’s evidence that the Cambrian “explosion” wasn’t all that explosive.

Question: Just what kinds of animals were there then? Are there fossils of them?

Answer: Well, there were clearly bilaterans – wormlike critters with front and back ends and a left and right side. There are trace fossils that make that clear. There is also evidence for … (continue)

====================

Badgering

Question: How do you evolutionists account for the sudden explosion of forms in the Cambrian?

Answer: Well, to begin with, there are now numerous fossils of Precambrian animals, and at least some of them appear to be ancestors of Cambrian animals. Further, there is evidence from molecular biology that the genetic divergences occurred tens of millions, or maybe even hundreds of millions of years before the Cambrian. So there’s evidence that the Cambrian “explosion” wasn’t all that explosive.

Question: Radioactive dating is unreliable because it depends on a bunch of untested assumptions. How can you trust it?

Answer: The assumptions underlying radiometric dating are in fact tested, and normally several different methods of dating samples are used.

Question: The second law of thermodynamics says nothing can increase in complexity … etc., etc.

====================

See the difference? It’s in the engagement of the questioner with the answers. Badgerers don’t engage answers; they merely reel off questions.

RBH

In a rare, pessimistic moment*, Lenny Flank said:

In short, we are pretty much a nation of pig-ignorant uneducated buffoons.

Yeah, but if they challenge us, we can beat anybody else’s pig-ignorant, uneducated buffoons!

This is an essential problem of democratically run governments. While Jefferson put his faith in the electorate to get it right most of the time, he also urgently pushed for free public schooling to raise the level of education. He believed that a people with a modicum of knowledge and the ability to read would not be led astray by “authorities” religious or otherwise, so long as the books the authorities claimed to learn from were available to all.

Madison put it more succinctly, in a quote that I was first introduced to by Bill Bennett when he was at the U.S. Department of Education – Bennett put this in the front of every paper, pamphlet or book he personally authored:

“A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” – James Madison, 1822 (go here: http://www.jamesmadisonproject.org/

Our job is to make the “arms” available and easily recognizable for that time when the pig-ignorant slobs we are pleased to be and be associated with decide to rise up against bad science standards. It’s a double-whammy – we have to fight ignorance in order to fight ignorance. (“Pig-ignorant slobs? I resemble that remark!”)

So long as Lenny Flank doesn’t let any IDists off the hook for laying out their science case, we can fight ignorance.

* No sarcasm intended; I’m hopeful, really.

P.S.: In his model curriculum for high schools, a pamphlet called “James Madison High School,” Bennett listed Darwin and evolution as essential knowledge for kids. Darwin’s stuff is, after all, among the more significant ideas in western civilization. We study Marx even when we disagree with his politics or economics; creationists should not get a pass on studying Darwin on the same grounds. They may dislike what Darwin says, but they must understand it and be able to accurately say what evolution is before they can criticize it. Same with germ theory of disease, human reproduction, American constitutional law, the history of World War II, and Beowulf.

How did that quote mark get backwards? Is the PZ Myers Blog Fu out after me for some reason? Or is it just out of control?

Want to fight ignorance? Check out the new thread by evopeach on the “After the bar closes” forum… :rolleyes:

Henry

Dave, it’s not that science censors anyone. That’s untrue. That charge was made, in court, in the Arkansas trial. But when put under oath, when it would have counted to change the law, creationists were unable to find a single instant of censorship. Not one. The science journals are wide open to creationists (witness the few articles that have sneaked through peer review). The difficulty for creationists is they don’t write up research, and that is likely because they have no research supporting creationism to write up.

On the other hand, creationists have demanded that science be censored by state and local lawmakers more than 100 times since 1924. No one has ever been arrested for teaching creationism; at least one has been arrested for teaching human evolution.

It’s not censorship that cripples creationism. It’s an unhealthy, unholy disregard for the facts.

What is asking good questions vs. badgering, some people ask above. At dictionary.com, they say badgering is to persistently harrass someone. Harass is defined as:

3 entries found for harass. ha·rass Audio pronunciation of “harass” ( P ) Pronunciation Key (h-rs, hrs) tr.v. ha·rassed, ha·rass·ing, ha·rass·es

1. To irritate or torment persistently. 2. To wear out; exhaust. 3. To impede and exhaust (an enemy) by repeated attacks or raids.

I would say badgering is a regular creationist tactic. We’ve all seen creationists gallop quickly through numerous half-witted arguments faster than anyone can oppose. TalkOrigins gives a page with over 400 arguments they make, most of them asinine, like the SLOT one. I would say this fits the description of badgering.

Dave, when are you going to either:

1.Offer evidence that Eugenie Scott labelled, ridiculed and censored the student in Emmaus, PA?

2. Apologize for slandering Dr. Scott?

We’re waiting…

Dave, when are you going to do the right thing, and either:

1) Offer evidence that Eugenie Scott labelled, ridiculed and censored a student in Emmaus, PA?

2) Withdraw the statement and apologize for libelling Dr. Scott?

We’re waiting…

Hey Dave.

Well, it seems you have some questions to answer.

Why so silent all of a sudden?

We’re waiting.……

Well, I don’t think that “Dave” is going to own-up, or that there is any need to keep the comments open.

Thanks for all the cogent replies.

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This page contains a single entry by Gary Hurd published on September 19, 2005 9:42 PM.

DNA and RNA (and Birdnow). was the previous entry in this blog.

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