It really does matter if it’s right.

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I just read, for the second time, an article by Doug Kern that’s available at Tech Central Station. After my blood pressure came back down a bit, the article got me to thinking. The tone of the piece is annoying and condescending, and there is far more in it that is wrong than is right, but it illustrates a number of the political problems that we face all too well.

The title of the article is, “Why Intelligent Design is Going to Win.” The thesis statement is short and simple: “Intelligent Design theory is destined to supplant Darwinism as the primary scientific explanation for the origin of human life. ID will be taught in public schools as a matter of course.”

Read more (at The Questionable Authority)

3 TrackBacks

I just finished reading Eugenie Scott’s book, Evolution vs. Creationism, and I’m encouraged. The good guys are winning, comrades. The struggle has dragged on for decades and it’s easy to declare in frustration, “C’mon. It... Read More

Over at The Questionable Authority, there is an article fuming over a recent TechCentralStation column. The column in question has the central thesis that intelligent design will win, at least to the extent that it will be taught in many schools. It's Read More

I have to point out the line from Kern's piece that has me snorting cereal all over the keyboard.... Read More

57 Comments

That ID would win by evolutionary pressure would be delightful irony… or not so delightful, but still.

ID will win because it can be reconciled with any advance that takes place in biology, whereas Darwinism cannot yield even an inch of ground to ID. So you’ve discovered the missing link? Proven that viruses distribute super-complex DNA proteins? Shown that fractals can produce evolution-friendly three-dimensional shapes? It doesn’t matter. To the ID mind, you’re just pushing the question further down the road. How was the missing link designed? What is the origin of the viruses? Who designed the fractals? ID has already made its peace with natural selection and the irrefutable aspects of Darwinism. By contrast, Darwinism cannot accept even the slightest possibility that it has failed to explain any significant dimension of evolution. It must dogmatically insist that it will resolve all of its ambiguities and shortcomings – even the ones that have lingered since the beginning of Darwinism. The entire edifice of Darwinian theory comes crashing down with even a single credible demonstration of design in any living thing. Can science really plug a finger into every hole in the Darwinian dyke for the next fifty years?

Well done, you’ve just shown why ID is completely non-falsifiable and worthless. Anything fits your ID hypothesis in a post-hoc fashion, yet it can be used to predict nothing. The statement ‘Darwinism cannot yield an inch of ground to ID’ rings oddly true, though, as research slowly fills those gaps that ID dwells within, and ID can never take any of it back.

This is how losers act just before they lose: arrogant, self-satisfied, too important to be bothered with substantive refutation, and disdainful of their own faults Too important to be bothered with substantive refutation?! Douggy, you’re a liar. That’s not an insult, that’s just plain fact. Either that, or you must be a p*ss poor lawyer with research skills that non-existent.

ID may “win” (everyone else loses) the same way the “work” of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko “won” in the now defunct Soviet Union—by government mandate!

The United States has lost its world educational leadership already. We are now ranked seventh, tied with Belgium (no offense aginst the “Belgics?”)! Georgia’s most recent claim to academic excellence touts its tie with South Carolina for last place in SAT averages. (It’s not clear if this is Georgia’s advance or South Carolina’s decline.) If we hope to have a secure future for our children and nation, we cannot return to the world of giant turtles carrying the world on its back.

Perhaps it is the end of the American Dream. Perhaps it is karma. I sincerely hope not, but evolution will continue to select for fitness.

Sorry for the pessimism. Been living deep in a red state too long. It gets to a person.

Georgia’s most recent claim to academic excellence touts its tie with South Carolina for last place in SAT averages. (It’s not clear if this is Georgia’s advance or South Carolina’s decline.)

Might it have something to do with this? Maybe the intelligent, educated segment of SC has fled to greener pastures.

Two words: pyrrhic victory

An FYI for Kern: It won’t be the first time that teleological thinking has “won” the day, only to immediately lose in a decisive manner. Teleological thinking has had nearly 2500 years since Aristotle to improve its evidential base. Can anyone seriously believe that, despite all the of the ardent defenders of teleology throughout the ages, ID has been waiting all this time for a couple of Creationists to come up with a sound theory? Right…

“May you live in interesting times.”

A curse.

Kern sees this as a genuine political battle, between purely political adversaries. If this were the case, then he’d be on the right track, since he is presenting an argument not really designed to address issues, be coherent, make sense, or pay the slightest attention to facts. He’s presenting an argument intended to boost votes, and crafted to appeal to anyone sympathetic to the religious cause but perhaps confused about the political controversy the religioso have ginned up.

I think it’s important to recognize that in genuine political battles, there is no right or wrong answer; the battle is by definition between vested interests, each side trying to protect and/or increase its interest at the expense of the others. Science and scientists have always been a mystery and an aggravation to purely political actors; they are bafflingly unpredictable. Politicans can’t tell which side they’ll take, they flip-flop around on the issues, they will take sides clearly against their vested interests on the basis of facts! Any politician knows deep in his bones that facts exist to serve political ends. As such, they should be created as needed. To predict scientists, politicians would have to know not only what the facts ARE, but what they MEAN. Why would anyone in their right mind even bother with such an irrelevant exercise?

The story is told (by Steven Leavitt) of a friend who planned to sell his house and buy another one. His agent was pushing him to buy a property at some price, because in the booming housing market he’d better act quickly. But when his friend said he was planning to sell his old house himself, his agent argued against it on the grounds that the tanking housing market required a professional! His agent was political: the housing market was “in fact” doing whatever the agent’s bests interests called for.

Kern is doing this same thing. He is *promoting* a cause he favors for reasons unrelated to any facts anywhere. The notion of actually referring to a real fact probably never crossed his mind while he wrote the article. Another story I read tells of a robber baron who called in his lawyer and demanded a legal way to do something. His lawyer said “but sir, that’s illegal!” And the robber baron said “That’s not what I asked.” In politics, you don’t act based on the rules, you “find” the rules necessary to support your actions. Law works identically. I guarantee that a creationist judge will have absolutely no problem discovering that the law supports teaching creationism in schools, and will be able to deploy countless cases as precedent (if looked at in the right way), as part of a closely argued and entirely logical opinion.

And this is the human condition. Hook the emotions, and the intellect will follow meekly and obediently. Every time.

Georgia’s most recent claim to academic excellence touts its tie with South Carolina for last place in SAT averages. (It’s not clear if this is Georgia’s advance or South Carolina’s decline.)

SAT averages say nothing about the quality of the education because they are so highly correlated with the precentage of students taking the test. Three forths of our students take the SAT, which means that a majority of Georgia’s students expect to go to college. States like North Dakota have high SAT averages because less than 5% of their students take the SAT.

Things will change in Georgia because our regional colleges and universities are going to stop requiring the SAT beginning next year. Only the students interested in attending UGA, GT, GSU, MCG, out of state, or private schools will take the SAT in comming years.

Just for fun I did an edit/find on the Kern article. Approximate word count:

Darwinism: 7 Darwinist(s): 3 (including “Darwinist catechism”, whatever the heck that is) pro-Darwin: 2 Charles Darwin: 0 Evolution: 2 (including “evolution-friendly”) Evolutionary biology: 0 Abiogenesis: 0 Common Descent (or Ancestry): 0 Missing link: 2

Is Kern scammed or a scammer? You decide. If you’re unsure, note how he baits-and-switches the two senses of ID. That may help. But it’s a safe bet that “honest, educated, and open-minded” is not an option.

The article is wrong on so many things, but it’s right about one: most people on the pro-science side act like losers.

This is a political battle, not a scientific one, but many pro-science advocates are simply politically tone deaf. They seem more interested in smugly asserting that their right and making their opponents look foolish rather than actually winning over red state types. That is precisely the way to lose a political fight.

…many pro-science advocates are simply politically tone deaf. They seem more interested in smugly asserting that their right and making their opponents look foolish rather than actually winning over red state types. That is precisely the way to lose a political fight.

I’d be grateful for an example or two.

a maine yankee Wrote:

The United States has lost its world educational leadership already.

An excellent point. Kern seems not to care about actual truth, only political victory. He mentions red states, but he seems to have forgotten about the rest of the world. A very America-centric analysis.

Lysenkoism has been mentioned in this thread alrady, but you won’t find that word in Kern’s article.

Is Kern scammed or a scammer? You decide.

Taking this, one of many examples of Kern’s cluelessness:

Proven that viruses distribute super-complex DNA proteins?

I’d say “both” - one of the many willfully ignorant, spreading the gospel of ignorance.

ID will win because it can be reconciled with any advance that takes place in biology, whereas Darwinism cannot yield even an inch of ground to ID.

Yep, it’s that same thing again - if you can make ID neatly retrofit anything new you discover rather than using it to make testable predictions, what’s the point? From a purely science perspective, what do you do with it? Where’s the content?

Sigh. As usual, we have a bunch of scientist types picking away at the factual accuracy of Kern’s article. Russell doesn’t seem to understand that Kern isn’t ignorant at all about what’s important to Kern - and DNA ain’t it. But science really can’t fight this battle on emotional grounds and hope to accomplish anything. That would be as dishonest and doomed to failure as ID fighting on the grounds of scientific accuracy. It’s not that scientists are politically tone deaf, it’s that they realize that they MUST dance with what brung them. And what brung them is meticulous attention to detail and an unfailing willingness to go where evidence leads even if they don’t like it.

This approach is guaranteed to be a mystery to nearly everyone outside the field of science, and where some of the evidence leads is guaranteed to alienate people whose interests lie in needing it to lead elsewhere. Science shouldn’t fantasize about winning at the voting booth, that’s the wrong battle. Politicians on the whole are not stupid; they recognize (a) that scientific research works, and is really the only hope of making meaningful progress; and (b) their voters don’t understand how this works, and never will. So intelligent politicians make noises appealing to their voters, but recognize the power and proper role of science. The danger is dumb politicians in high places. And even that is generally temporary.

To Russell, Kern is spreading the gospel of ignorance. To Kern, Russell is opposing God. And Russell can argue forever that there’s no such conflict, but Kern and his target audience know better. Russell is saying to them “God might have actually MEANT to make your ancestors into monkeys, you can’t know, so there’s no conflict.” And they think “uh huh, riiiight! Dumbass.”

I always wonder if Dembski is the reincarnation of Lysenko.

While Lysenko’s “theories” led in part to the utter failure of Soviet agriculture, I can see how Dembski’s “theories” might lead to America missing out on one of the next major revolutions in science and technology: complexity, synthetic biology, and evolving technology. His bogus ideas seem almost deliberately crafted to blind us to any real understanding of, for example, how information theory really does intersect with biology.

“I think the next century will be the century of complexity.” - Stephen Hawking

I hope Mr Kern is wrong, but his remarks deserve some thought. I believe he does reflect the public feeling that it would be ok to toss a little ID into class, and those who object are elitist nit-pickers. He is also right that science and technology can be conducted perfectly well with all sorts of religious ideas (including ID) swirling about. The reason is that ironically ID is science proof, and science is ID proof. ID just doesn’t matter to science as an intellectual activity. As a social and cultural activity it is another matter. Funding could be affected, faculty compostion controlled. He is also right that there is too much argument by ridicule offered by anti ID people. If one of our points of argument is that ID is intellectually unsound, we should sound intellectually capable when we offer such an argument.

Doesn’t a newspaper have a duty to make at least a cursory check of the facts before publishing an opinion piece?

Shame on the newspaper.

Shame on Kern.

If intelligent design plans to win, why does it need to tell fibs?

If intelligent design plans to win, why does it need to tell fibs?

Hello… ID reflects something that is most emphatically not a fib – that most people believe in a purposeful universe, that evolution explicitly and directly denies the sort of direction people are comfortable with, and that therefore evolution CANNOT be correct. And so ID reflects what we might consider the “Barnum truth” - it doesn’t matter WHAT is said in favor of ID, so long as everyone recognizes that ID supports their religious faith, or at least is making a good attempt to do so.

This widespread need to believe is a fact. That ID is viewed as supporting this need is a fact. That evolution is viewed as undermining this need is a fact. And these are the important facts. Everything else is just nattering over unimportant details.

If you can keep yourself from vomiting long enough to reach the bottom of the “article”, you’ll find this nice link:

http://www.techcentralstation.com/100705B.html

At least she gets it mostly right.

Funny thing is: I can’t seem to find any link from the sound article back to Mister Kern’s

Maybe Mister Kern’s article is a joke. A bit early out for April Fool’s Day, though.

Russell Wrote:

I’d be grateful for an example or two.

I really need to keep a file on specific examples of “how not to criticize ID/creationism.” Surely you have seen some. They all reduce to the same thing: Whining about “sneaking in God” to a mostly religious public suspicious of science.

I understand that some “ID is religion” arguments may be necessary to keep it out of public school (or “restrict the supply”). But that’s the worst possible approach to “reduce the demand.” For that we need to show that ID is not just religion, but bad religion. And bad science of course.

Flint: And what brung them is meticulous attention to detail and an unfailing willingness to go where evidence leads even if they don’t like it. This approach is guaranteed to be a mystery to nearly everyone outside the field of science…

From a Nobel-winning neurobiologist: The pop artist Andy Warhol once approached me at a party and told me that he collected scientific journals, but couldn’t understand them. He drifted away, then came back and said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” “Of course not,” I replied. He asked, “Why does science take so long?” I said, “Mr. Warhol, when you do a picture of Marilyn Monroe, does it have to be exactly like her, as close to being her as you can make it?” He said, “Oh no. And anyhow, I have this place called the Factory where my helpers do it.” I said, “Well, in science it has to be exact, as exact as you can make it.” He looked at me with limp sympathy and said, “Isn’t that terrible?” - Gerald M. Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind, pg 195

Perhaps I need to fine tune my comments a bit.

In response to this:

…many pro-science advocates are simply politically tone deaf. They seem more interested in smugly asserting that their right and making their opponents look foolish rather than actually winning over red state types. That is precisely the way to lose a political fight.

I wrote: I’d be grateful for an example or two.

Now, of course I’ve seen many examples of how not to point out the error of creationists’ ways. But I can’t think of many examples where widely known, widely heard, pro-science advocates are guilty of these particular charges. I’m still waiting for examples.

In this thread, at least, I would think we could focus, just for a moment, on this central issue. Aside from all the politicking, and packaging science in a church-lady friendly package, dammit, it really does matter if it’s right. And pointing that out does not have to entail smugness, or the need to make creationists look foolish.

Flint Wrote:

To Russell, Kern is spreading the gospel of ignorance. To Kern, Russell is opposing God. And Russell can argue forever that there’s no such conflict, but Kern and his target audience know better. Russell is saying to them “God might have actually MEANT to make your ancestors into monkeys, you can’t know, so there’s no conflict.”

Actually, I don’t make that argument. In fact, my position is that whether there’s a conflict is for each believer to decide for him/herself; I don’t presume to attempt to judge the logic in anyone’s faith, let alone everyone’s. If one has to make theological nice-nice in order to further the cause of science, you are all better off without me.

Well, considering that big mouth conservative wankers have been spectacularly wrong in their opinion of every single public issue since Bush gained office, this article is a good sign.

I’m a Virginia Postrel-style, dynamist libertarian. As such, I’ve had Techcentralstation bookmarked for over a year, and it has usually been a daily read.

Kern’s anti-intellectual, populist excrement is only the latest pro-ID diatribe TCS has hosted. Now, it is true, they also publish anti-ID pieces, but in my strong opinion a pro-science and technology blog should not be pandering to anti-science writers. Period. Not even for “balance.” (And I would add, even the anti-ID writers there cannot hold a candle to what I have seen at PT, in terms of depth.)

So, I am copying this post to TCS’s owner, Jim Glassman, by way of explaining why his blog is now unbookmarked. If Glassman wants to publish libertarian-right authors on the subject of ID, he should invite Paul Gross to opine. Until then, I’m now done with TCS.

4)ID will win because it can piggyback on the growth of information theory, which will attract the best minds in the world over the next fifty years.

ID is a proposition about information. It contends that the processes of life are so specific and carefully ordered that they must reflect deliberate action. Put simply: a complex message implies an even more complex sender.

Exactly. And I don’t suppose that “the smartest people on the planet” are going to be satisfied with an “explanation” for organized complexity taking the form of: Even Yet More Organized, and Complex Complexity (that I can’t tell you anything else about)TM

We have only scratched the surface of the problem-solving power that the Internet and cheap computing power open to us. As superior intellects strive to understand the metaphysics of information, they will find the information-oriented arguments of ID increasingly sensible and appealing. ID will fit nicely into the emerging worldview of tomorrow’s intellectual elite.

Did this guy go to Baylor or something? The Fig Newton of IT, a “superior intellect” by his own say-so, likes to understand the “metaphysics of information” with explicit reference to “the Logos of St. John.” Is that what Kern’s got in mind, or are these future “superior intellects” he’s talking about, who are waiting to learn ID in public school so they can um, blossom?

My blood pressure’s still not down, sadly.

The Oct. 6 issue of the New Englan Journal of Medicine has a very nice essay (subscription required) by Robert S Schwartz, MD, a deputy editor of the journal. This essay makes the best case I’ve heard about why “it really does matter…”.

After a brief survey of the history of ID (including such gems as “At its root, intelligent design is a medieval theological proposition based on faith…”), Schwartz discusses the implications of ID reaching medical schools. For example, referring to the complexity of the blood clotting system as an argument for ID, Schwartz points out that the ID account

…neglects to tell us that their creator of hemeostasis must also be responsible for deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, the natural consequences of a complex system of blood clotting. Clearly such a worldview could have ramifications for those who would study, elucidate, and treat such disorders.

There are several other observations of this quality. Schwartz concludes with a call on the medical community to become involved and “start speaking up”, focusing on education about the nature and importance of science.

While we’ve seen many excellent essays on the nature of science and why ID isn’t science, I find the tone of this essay importantly different in its focus on the stakes and implications for society. Much of the discussion I see (and I’ve been watching a lot lately: it’s the best show on the internet) is based on the philosophy of science. While these are fine discussions and the philosophy of science is important, from a distance it can look like a debate between two philosophies. Once seen that way, the political aspects become important. But Schwartz’s essay makes clear that this is not just two philosophies: science as currently practiced is the basis for the medicine, technology and understanding that underlie our standard of living. Under ID, conflicting “theories” about, e.g., medicine, would be indistinguishable, reducing science to medieval sophistry. Without the ability to distinguish between correct and incorrect theories, surely we would not have the standard of living we have today. That is why “it really does matter if it’s right”.

This is why Kerns is wrong when he says “…the advent of ID won’t hurt American productivity a bit.”

I had hoped our community would pick up on Schwartz’s essay and help get the word out. Unfortunately this essay is available to subscribers only. Perhaps one of the main contributors to Panda’s Thumb can expand on my brief description. Seems to me it’s too important to be buried in the comments.

Russell Wrote:

I’m still waiting for examples.

I’m still looking for a specific one. In the meantime, I doubt that this will please you, but to me the “widely heard, pro-science advocates” are “politically tone-deaf” any time they carelessly use the word “Darwinism.” Or as the not politically tone-deaf Paul Gross calls it, the “miscalled Darwinism.”

Of course they have to be right about their own theory, and they are. And they can defend it well to you and me. But if the public hears something else, what good is it?

Posted by Flint : Sigh. As usual, we have a bunch of scientist types picking away at the factual accuracy of Kern’s article.

I learned long ago that, generally, scientists make lousy creationist-fighters (with a few notable exceptions, thank God/Allah/Zeus/whoever). Mostly that’s because most scientists want to treat the whole thing as a scientific dispute, and assume that if we just educate the poor rubes, they will slap themselves in the foreheads, exclaim “Lo! We’ve been wrong about evolution all these many years!” and begin clamoring for increased funding for education and science.

This is a political fight, not a scientific one. At core, it is not even about science or education — it is about political power, who gets to weild it, and what they can or can’t do with it once they have it. The fundies won’t be beaten by science, or by education. They will be beaten by a stronger political organization. If we want to beat them, we need to fight them on all fronts. We need to separate them from their funding. We need to disrupt all their legal and legislative stategies. We need to encourage and exacerbate all their internal doctrinal schisms and do as much as we can to disrupt their effectiveness as a political organization. We need to undermine their ideological supports; we need to alienate them from their supporters.

Politics is a business full of knives. Alas, too many people don’t like getting their hands dirty with such things – which is exactly why the fundies have gotten where they have gotten. Fortunately for us, they have not (yet) managed to undo the First Amendment, and until they do, it is illegal to teach their crap in schools. Period. Make no mistake about it — that is the ONLY thing that has kept creationism/ID out of schools so far. All of our talkin’ and educatin’ and “teaching people about science” hasn’t done diddley-doo. A bunch of lawyers in Dover will kill ID, not any “educating” *we* have done.

Posted by Frank J : For that we need to show that ID is not just religion, but bad religion.

You are absolutely right. That is a job for mainstream religious figures, not for scientists. Unfortunately for us, the mainstream religious denominations have been conspicuous by their silence on this matter. The vast majority of Christians, worldwide, think ID/creationists are nutters, but you’d never know that by reading the papers. One reason, perhaps, for the absence of mainstream religious figures in the anti-creationism/ID movement is that the movement, for the most part, is dominated (at least verbally) by atheists who seem to waste no opportunity for pointless “religion-bashing”, even when it doesn’t help us. We’ve all seen the religious wars that pop up here form time to time. They do us no good, they do us lots of harm. Shooting people who are on your side seems to me … well . . pretty stupid.

In any case, it is a **huge** mistake on the part of the anti-ID movement to not have prominent religious leaders saying, loudly and publicly, that (1) most Christians have no gripe at all with any part of modern science, and (2) most Christians think ID/creationists/fundies are a lunatic fringe. The biggest strategic strength that the IDers have is their ability to paint this as a “God vs Science” fight. By allowing them to do this, we grant them unlimited access to funding, supporters and politicla strength – all coming form people who don’t give a flying fig about science or science education, but who want to do their two cents to “fight atheism”.

As long as the anti-ID movement continues to join the IDers in painting this as a “science vs religion” or even an “atheism vs religion” fight, then we will continue to hand the fundies a strategic victory, and an undying unending source of funds, recruits, and political support.

I see no reason why we should continue to help them in that way.

“Proven that viruses distribute super-complex DNA proteins?”

I know that lateral transfer of complex “genes” (aka DNA proteins?) has been demonstrated, but I fear that ID will win because we may never achieve a demonstration of “supercomplexity” in the lab. [sc]

“It may well be that our brains are physically configured in such a way that we can’t help but find order and design in the world. Don’t look so surprised, evolutionists – a brain attuned to order and design is a brain more likely to survive. The ability to detect design is essentially the ability to detect patterns, and the ability to detect patterns is the key to most applications of human intelligence. Hammers tend to find nails, screwdrivers tend to find screws, and the human mind tends to find design. Of course, the propensity to see designs doesn’t mean that the designs aren’t actually there. But the quintessential human perception is one of design – and, to the extent that perceptions define reality”

A string of unsupported and mostly meaningless assertions to support his claim, bereft of any acknowledgment of empiricism .… this guy is definitely an IDer.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank: This is a political fight … they have not (yet) managed to undo the First Amendment, and until they do, it is illegal to teach their crap in schools. Period. Make no mistake about it —- that is the ONLY thing that has kept creationism/ID out of schools so far. … A bunch of lawyers in Dover will kill ID, not any “educating” *we* have done. … The biggest strategic strength that the IDers have is their ability to paint this as a “God vs Science” fight. By allowing them to do this, we grant them unlimited access to funding, supporters and politicla strength — all coming form people who don’t give a flying fig about science or science education, but who want to do their two cents to “fight atheism”.

Unfortunately, the christocrats are way ahead of us on this front. For every televangelist’s rant against “Atheistic Science” anyone can dig up, I can show you a hundred attacking “the black-robed dictatorship of unelected courts” (google “judicial tyranny” - that seems to be the preferred catchphrase at present). With all respect to the pro-science law team in Dover, the best they can accomplish is to slice off one tentacle of the monster.

If, as we both hope, the Kitzmiller crew prevails, the superchristian political machine will certainly turn this “defeat” to its advantage with cries of persecution and martyrdom, gaining yet more “funding, supporters and political strength”. A loss in Dover may harm the Disco Institute, but Dobson/Robertson/Falwell/et al will thrive on it. A cut tentacle just makes the Kraken mad.

In any case, this is a secondary front in the overall political struggle, compared to, say, the “culture war” against gay rights & feminism, or the slow-motion power grab currently centered on the Supreme Court but also underway in the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and state & local governments.

Comment #51784

Posted by Mona on October 10, 2005 06:10 PM (e) (s)

I’m a Virginia Postrel-style, dynamist libertarian. As such, I’ve had Techcentralstation bookmarked for over a year, and it has usually been a daily read.

Kern’s anti-intellectual, populist excrement is only the latest pro-ID diatribe TCS has hosted. Now, it is true, they also publish anti-ID pieces, but in my strong opinion a pro-science and technology blog should not be pandering to anti-science writers. Period. Not even for “balance.” (And I would add, even the anti-ID writers there cannot hold a candle to what I have seen at PT, in terms of depth.)

So, I am copying this post to TCS’s owner, Jim Glassman, by way of explaining why his blog is now unbookmarked. If Glassman wants to publish libertarian-right authors on the subject of ID, he should invite Paul Gross to opine. Until then, I’m now done with TCS.

TCS also denies global warming. They are an example of what happens when you let your political beliefs determine your reality.

Douglas Kern wrote:

1) ID will win because it’s a religion-friendly, conservative-friendly, red-state kind of theory, and no one will lose money betting on the success of red-state theories in the next fifty to one hundred years.

1) ID will lose because it’s an anti-science, purely political, red-neck kind of non-theory, and no one will lose money betting on the success of real theories that have been continuously improved and verified with increasing evidence for one hundred fifty years.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank: … the mainstream religious denominations have been conspicuous by their silence on this matter. The vast majority of Christians, worldwide, think ID/creationists are nutters, but you’d never know that by reading the papers. … In any case, it is a **huge** mistake on the part of the anti-ID movement to not have prominent religious leaders saying, loudly and publicly, that (1) most Christians have no gripe at all with any part of modern science, and (2) most Christians think ID/creationists/fundies are a lunatic fringe. The biggest strategic strength that the IDers have is their ability to paint this as a “God vs Science” fight. By allowing them to do this, we grant them unlimited access to funding, supporters and politicla strength — all coming form people who don’t give a flying fig about science or science education, but who want to do their two cents to “fight atheism”.

As with the rest of your argument, this is mostly true, but incomplete. The larger picture is that the saner Judeo-Christian-Islamic leaders are silent, or whispering & mumbling at best, in the face of the so-called Christian Right’s wholesale assault against Enlightenment values. A partial exception may be those few denominations, congregations, & ministers defending lesbians & gays as members of their communities, but they are paying a heavy price in coordinated attacks from without and within: enough to discourage others from following suit, and certainly enough to prevent their sending any reinforcements to the evo-creo front.

The more progressive Christians have been in the trenches for years concerning women’s rights, the death penalty, ecology, and (most of all) the desperate needs of the poor. On these issues, and maybe a few others, they’re surrounded by razor wire (to over-extend the WWI metaphor); look to that, and not to the minor thorns of Dawkins & online atheists, for reasons why they’re not marching onto this corner of the battlefield. (Also, of course, remember they are among the products of a second-rate science curriculum.) Christians & Communists marched & bled together for civil rights 40 years ago; such abstract differences can be superceded more easily than can, say, exhaustion, lack of leadership & vision, and a dearth of recruits.

The IDers’ real “biggest strategic strength” is that they are part of a much bigger political crusade, overwhelming in finances, numbers, zealotry, and organization, which has already stampeded its active opposition and is now moving (both opportunistically & systematically) against institutional barriers to its complete power.

[Warning: change of metaphor ahead.] Science is merely one of these vulnerable social levees, and not even a high-level one; law, secular traditions, expectations of “privacy”, the sheer size and inertia of US society, and perhaps a handful of other don’t-know-what-we’ve-got-till-its-gone factors, are what stands between us and a nasty theocracy. (Oh, and also the Dominionists’ own internal conflicts - but so far they’ve maintained strategic & tactical discipline very impressively, and may well not turn against each other until they’ve overcome all of the resistance which helps keep them united.)

Alienward,

ID has lost the science battle (unlike classic creationism, it didn’t even try to fight it), but can win (& is winning if you ask me) the political one. For another prominent example, Astrology has lost the former and won the latter.

Russell, how could I forget this example?:

Scientific American, in giving its award to PT, did it no favors with: “Devoted to debunking all existing and nascent theories related to the anti-evolution movement…”

There are no theories, existing or nascent, in the anti-evolution movement. And if there were, PT would be defending them, not “devoted to debunking” them. Given the public’s misconceptions, both of ID as a “theory” that deserves equal time in science class, and of evolution defenders as “reactionary censors,” SA’s wording only reinforces the myth.

With all respect to the pro-science law team in Dover, the best they can accomplish is to slice off one tentacle of the monster.

Surely ‘noodly appendage’?

In any case, this is a secondary front in the overall political struggle, compared to, say, the “culture war” against gay rights & feminism, or the slow-motion power grab currently centered on the Supreme Court but also underway in the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and state & local governments.

Yes and no. Certainly, ID is just a small part of a much larger theocratic political movement. But on the other hand, it is the “wedge issue” which they themselves have chosen to act as their vanguard.

As an effective political movement, the fundies are all but dead. Their glory days peaked back in the early 80’s, when they actually COULD get laws passed and get what they wanted. Today, the Republicans (including Bush) pay them lots of lip service and take their money and votes, but they have not actually PASSED any of the fundie agenda (despite controlling the White House, Congress AND the Supreme Court). The Republicans know that the public simply does not support the fundie agenda, and that it would be politicla suicide to pass it. Hence, the Republicans treat the fundies the same way the Democrats treat the “labor unions” — they give them lip service, take their money, and take their votes, and then give them nothing in return — knowing that they can’t do anything about it since the OTHER party won’t give them the time of day.

For the past two elections, the fundies have had free reign. And they STILL couldn’t get anything accomplished.

The Republican Party is still dominated, as it always has been, by the corporados — and it is THEIR agenda that the Bush-ites are quietly fulfilling. And the corporados don’t support the fundie agenda — theocracy is bad for business, and they don’t want it.

I doubt that this will please you, but to me the “widely heard, pro-science advocates” are “politically tone-deaf” any time they carelessly use the word “Darwinism.”

I really, really, discourage the use of that term. First, because it can mean any of at least a dozen different things, and tends to be used by creationists - including the ID flavor - to mean “all those things we don’t like”. Second, because it implies that plain old, mild-mannered science types, such as myself, are some kind of cultists. As many have pointed out, you might just as sensibly refer to all the scientists at NASA as intent on advancing their “Newtonist” agenda.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank: Certainly, ID is just a small part of a much larger theocratic political movement. But on the other hand, it is the “wedge issue” which they themselves have chosen to act as their vanguard.

Have you noticed how the Disco Institute people tend to flatter themselves & exaggerate their own importance? At most, DI is the “wedge” on the tip of the battering ram thumping on the doorway to the castle of science - an outpost on a hill rather remote from the main strongholds of US culture and power.

As an effective political movement, the fundies are all but dead. Their glory days peaked back in the early 80’s, when they actually COULD get laws passed and get what they wanted.

How many states have passed anti-gay-marriage laws in the last two years? How many states have mandatory waiting periods, age limitations, government-written scripts (often with medically false statements) that must be recited by doctors, and other impediments on abortion rights? By what factor have the penalties recently increased for broadcasting one female nipple for 1/2 second? You’ve been scanning the battle on other fronts than that on which the other side has been putting most of its momentum, and they’re advancing on your watchtower from the rear.

the OTHER party won’t give them the time of day.

Ever heard of “Democrats for Life”? (They’re growing.) Noticed the donkeys scrambling toward the pews, braying about “family values”, since November? Did you see how newly-elected Sen. Salazar stood alone when he criticized Dobson as un-Christian last winter and soon gave up?

For the past two elections, the fundies have had free reign. And they STILL couldn’t get anything accomplished.

They expanded their majorities in all three government branches, extended their power in states & municipalities, blocked stem-cell research & hate-crime laws, and more.

And the corporados don’t support the fundie agenda —- theocracy is bad for business, and they don’t want it.

For most political purposes, they’ve been bought off by dismantlement of New Deal & environmental regulations, upper-bracket tax cuts, bankruptcy “reform”, etc, and seem quite willing to live with the trade-offs so long as this quarter’s net profit rises. Other than increased benefits for gay employees’ partners and sponsoring a couple of titillating TV shows, what have the megacorps done to oppose the christocrat agenda (and how much of it shows any sign of being done according to a deeply-held principle)?

Most fascistic movements that have come to power have done so in collaboration with top business interests, who seem to have thought they were in control but were always deceived (to the best of my knowledge - can you think of exceptions?). The present US situation differs mostly in lacking one central Leader, but - by not presenting a clear target - that seems more of a strategic advantage than otherwise. (The theocratic campaign has even avoided giving itself a single name - they clearly learned from what happened to the “Moral Majority”.)

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Frank J wrote:

ID has lost the science battle (unlike classic creationism, it didn’t even try to fight it), but can win (& is winning if you ask me) the political one. For another prominent example, Astrology has lost the former and won the latter.

Say what? What did Astrology win? And how do you think ID is winning anything?

Have you noticed how the Disco Institute people tend to flatter themselves & exaggerate their own importance?

Indeed.

But others outside the ID movement, such as LeHay, have also pointed to anti-evolution as the opening shot in their holy war. Ever see LeHay’s “pyramid of evil” with “evolution” at the very base?

Also, anti-evolution is, so far, the ONLY part of their strategy that they have actually tried to pass laws (briefly succeeding) and implement.

Most fascistic movements that have come to power have done so in collaboration with top business interests, who seem to have thought they were in control but were always deceived (to the best of my knowledge - can you think of exceptions?). The present US situation differs mostly in lacking one central Leader, but - by not presenting a clear target - that seems more of a strategic advantage than otherwise. (The theocratic campaign has even avoided giving itself a single name - they clearly learned from what happened to the “Moral Majority”.)

Alas, if the theocrats do indeed manage to gain real power, then all of our political organizing (and all of our scientific education) won’t matter diddley doo anyway. (shrug)

My only source of hope remains, as it always has, that no matter how powerful the fundies might become, and no matter how holy and godlike they might think they are, they are not bulletproof. If you shoot them, they die just like everyone else.

Once in power, fascists are not beaten by political maneuvering. They are beaten by bullets.

I hope it doesn’t come to that.

As I had said I would, I contacted TCS to state that the Kern piece is an outrage against science. Their editor thanked me for my feedback, and asked that I check out today’s postings by Bob McHenry and Max Borders. Those take issue with the Kern post and are anti-ID.

But that’s not good enough. Crap like the Kern article has no place on a supposedly pro-science blog.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank: But others outside the ID movement, such as LeHay, have also pointed to anti-evolution as the opening shot in their holy war. Ever see LeHay’s “pyramid of evil” with “evolution” at the very base?

Also, anti-evolution is, so far, the ONLY part of their strategy that they have actually tried to pass laws (briefly succeeding) and implement.

??? You don’t consider revoking all abortion rights part of their strategy? They’ve made considerable progress on that lately, and are poised for much more very soon (Miers or no Miers). Ditto on gay rights, though it could be argued they’re just trying to roll those back to their status a few years ago, rather than launch a new initiative per se.

LaHaye’s little pictures to explain everything to his sheeple are not the same as his strategic blueprints, but those and his explicit fictions may be the best we have to go on unless someone leaks some docs from the secret archives of the Council for National Priorities.

Once in power, fascists are not beaten by political maneuvering. They are beaten by bullets.

Exceptions to this rule include Spain, Portual, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Greece, Paraguay, Taiwan, South Africa, arguably others (USSR?). If it, FSM forfend, should come to that here, the crucial factor may well be how well the regime maintains the loyalty of the gun-toters. Judging by reports I’ve heard from those attending the 9/24 peace demo in DC about cops whispering “we’re with you” and covertly flashing peace signs, that loyalty is hardly unconditional even at this point. IOW, bullets don’t kill fascists; anti-fascists kill fascists.

Alienward Wrote:

Say what? What did Astrology win? And how do you think ID is winning anything?

They are winning the popularity contest. ~50% of the people swear by their horoscope, and 60-70% fall for some part of the ID strategy. Stop in any book store and the first mug you see is that of Kevin Trudeau. It’s certainly not what ought to be, but unfortunatly, it’s what it is.

Lenny and others,

The reason that the ID creationism issue so often reverts to a sort of strawman “science vs religion” or “atheists vs theists” type of situation is precisely for a reason that Lenny repeats often, the theistic motivation behind ID creationism keeps slipping out. The theists behind IDC don’t want their beliefs secret. It is the IDC theists who keep bringing religion into the picture, not the atheists.

The problem arises from the special case of the “Gish Gallop” favoured by these people, they bring up a swathe of topics, relevant, irrelevant and emotive because this is how they view the issue. Their anti-evolution stance has sod all to do with the science of biology, it is 110% to do with their literalist religion, or their loathing of secular society, or their loathing of permissive society, etc etc etc all based on their RELIGION. I can count secular IDists on the fingers of one hand. Using only my thumb ;-) !

The problem you rightly allude to is that we then confront the religious claims of these people as well as their pseudoscientific claims. The pseudoscience is fair game, and most people will have no problem with that. The religion is also fair game, but most people will have a problem with that. We are socially conditioned to give special tenderness to religious claims (extremely wrongly in my view, but that is irrelevant). Personally, I think it’s something that needs to change, BUT for the purposes of the IDC issue, I agree that the “X vs religion” (whatever X is) debate is a distraction, an irrelevance, and one that will not help the scientific and political cause.

There is another aspect to this, we need to get the IDCists to focus on the science. This is the core claim they make, that they are doing science. When this goes to court they have to be shown to be doing no science, thus their claims do not belong in a science class. Whenever their metaphysics, morals or religion comes into the picture, we need to steer them back to the science. They have no legs to stand on there, so, simply on those grounds, they can never win.

Even if they DO win, well I take the long view. They cannot win forever because they deny reality. Reality I am afraid, like it or not, always wins. If the US wishes to reduce itself to a Dark Ages backwater, then the rest of the world will smile and get on with it. After the nuclear holocaust of course.…..

bullets don’t kill fascists; anti-fascists kill fascists.

I thought Woody Guthrie’s guitar killed fascists.…

Frank J wrote:

They are winning the popularity contest. ~50% of the people swear by their horoscope, and 60-70% fall for some part of the ID strategy. Stop in any book store and the first mug you see is that of Kevin Trudeau. It’s certainly not what ought to be, but unfortunatly, it’s what it is.

Yes, most people in the U.S. have had a God did it mentality since Europeans conquered and outnumbered the natives. But being the most popular of something isn’t necessarily winning at all. Anti-evolutionists have lost almost every single court case since the theory of evolution was presented by Darwin. This is why the article is such garbage — you’d think the lawyer who wrote it would have known better than to try an appeal to popularity, using “Darwin” more than the word “the”, and a cheap attack calling evolution supporters losers. The ID creationists will lose just like all of the other creationists before them.

“Once in power, fascists are not beaten by political maneuvering. They are beaten by bullets.

I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

I can imagine you PT posters hiding out in the wilderness, machine guns and copies of the constitution ready to go, no doubt organized by Dennet or Scott, trying to reconstruct the wall between church and state, fighting a battle agains a seemingly all powerful theocratic government . It would make a great theme for a sci fi book. Unfourtnately you wouldn’t have a hope in real life, if a theocracy came about it would be by popular support, and I’ve never heard of Guerrila’s beating a government with public support on it’s side ( that could just be my own ignorance of course)

Has anyone read summaries of the work of radical christian reconstructists? It’s really quite terrifying. Here’s some of the stuff that would happen in a reconstructionist organized government:

1- Homosexuals would be stoned to death 2- Professing atheists would be stoned to death 3- Non christians would be stoned to death 4- Rape victims would sometimes be stoned to death 5- Women would be kept away from the professional sphere 6- Evolution would be efectively banned

Anyone heard of Calvins Geneva, well imagine transplanting it’s rules and thrusting them onto modern secular society.

I am scared.

Has anyone read summaries of the work of radical christian reconstructists?

From my website (http://www.geocities.com/lflank):

The most militant of the Ayatollah-wanna-be’s are the members of the “Reconstructionist” movement. The Reconstructionists were founded by Rouas J. Rushdoony, a militant fundamentalist who was instrumental in getting Henry Morris’s book The Genesis Flood published in 1961. According to Rushdoony’s view, the United States should be directly transformed into a theocracy in which the fundamentalists would rule directly according to the will of God. “There can be no separation of Church and State,” Rushdoony declares. (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 51) “Christians,” a Reconstructionist pamphlet declares, “are called upon by God to exercise dominion.” (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 50) The Reconstructionists propose doing away with the US Constitution and laws, and instead ruling directly according to the laws of God as set out in the Bible—they advocate a return to judicial punishment for religious crimes such as blasphemy or violating the Sabbath, as well as a return to such Biblically-approved punishments as stoning.

According to Rushdoony, the Second Coming of Christ can only happen after the “Godly” have taken over the earth and constructed the Kingdom of Heaven here: “The dominion that Adam first received and then lost by his Fall will be restored to redeemed Man. God’s People will then have a long reign over the entire earth, after which, when all enemies have been put under Christ’s feet, the end shall come.” (cited in Diamond, 1989, p. 139) “Christian Reconstructionism,” another pamphlet says, “is a call to the Church to awaken to its Biblical responsibility to subdue the earth for the glory of God … Christian Reconstructionism therefore looks for and works for the rebuilding of the institutions of society according to a Biblical blueprint.” (cited in Diamond 1989, p. 136) In the Reconstructionist view, evolution is one of the “enemies” which must be “put under Christ’s feet” if the godly are to subdue the earth for the glory of God.

In effect, the Reconstructionists are the “Christian” equivilent of the Taliban.

While some members of both the fundamentalist and creationist movements view the Reconstructionists as somewhat kooky, many of them have had nice things to say about Rushdoony and his followers. ICR has had close ties with Reconstructionists. Rushdoony was one of the financial backers for Henry Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”, and Morris’s son John was a co-signer of several documents produced by the Coalition On Revival, a reconstructionist coalition founded in 1984. ICR star debater Duane Gish was a member of COR’s Steering Committee, as was Richard Bliss, who served as ICR’s “curriculum director” until his death. Gish and Bliss were both co-signers of the COR documents “A Manifesto for the Christian Church” (COR, July 1986), and the “Forty-Two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian Worldview” (COR,1989), which declares, “We affirm that the laws of man must be based upon the laws of God. We deny that the laws of man have any inherent authority of their own or that their ultimate authority is rightly derived from or created by man.” (“Forty-Two Essentials, 1989, p. 8). P>The Discovery Institute, the chief cheerleader for “intelligent design theory”, is particularly cozy with the Reconstructionists. The single biggest source of money for the Discovery Institute is Howard Ahmanson, a California savings-and-loan bigwig. Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory” (other branches of Discovery Institute are focused on areas like urban transportation, Social Security “reform”, and (anti) environmentalist organizing).

Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist who was long associated with Rushdooney, and who sat with him on the board of directors of the Chalcedon Foundation – a major Reconstructionist think-tank – for over 20 years, and donated over $700,000 to the Reconstructionists. Just as Rushdooney was a prime moving force behind Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”, intelligent design “theorist” Phillip Johnson dedicated his book “Defeating Darwinism” to “Howard and Roberta” – Ahmanson and his wife. Ahmanson was quoted in newspaper accounts as saying, “My purpose is total integration of Biblical law into our lives.”

Ahmanson has given several million dollars over the past few years to anti-evolution groups (including Discovery Institute), as well as anti-gay groups, “Christian” political candidates, and funding efforts to split the Episcopalian Church over its willingness to ordain gay ministers and to other groups which oppose the minimum wage. He was also a major funder of the recent “recall” effort in California which led to the election of Terminator Arnie. Ahmanson is also a major funder of the effort for computerized voting, and he and several other prominent Reconstructionists have close ties with Diebold, the company that manufactures the computerized voting machines used. There has been some criticism of Diebold because it refuses to make the source code of its voting machine software available for scrutiny, and its software does not allow anyone to track voting after it is done (no way to confirm accuracy of the machine). Some of Ahmanson’s donations are channeled through the Fieldstead Foundation, which is a subspecies of the Ahmanson foundation “Fieldstead” is Ahmanson’s middle name). The Fieldstead Foundation funds many of the travelling and speaking expenses of the DI’s shining stars.

Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory”. By his own reckoning, Ahmanson gives more of his money to the DI than to any other poilitically active group – only a museum trust in his wife’s hometown in Iowa and a Bible college in New Jersey get more. In 2004, he reportedly gave the Center another $2.8 million. Howard Ahamnson, Jr sits on the Board Directors of Discovery Institute.

Since then, as his views have become more widely known, Ahmanson has tried to backpeddle and present a kinder, gentler image of himself. However, his views are still so extremist that politicians have returned campaign contributions from Ahmanson once they learned who he was.

So it’s no wonder that the Discovery Institute is reluctant to talk about the funding source for its Intelligent Design campaign. Apparently, they are not very anxious to have the public know that most of its money comes from just one whacko billionnaire who has long advocated a political program that is very similar to that of the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

See also:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

From the Rev’s post:

“So it’s no wonder that the Discovery Institute is reluctant to talk about the funding source for its Intelligent Design campaign.”

I caught the tail end of an interview/press conference that the DI gave at the start of the Dover trial. When asked about their Christian donors, they refused to answer and ended the interview/press conference. Unfortunately I cannot recall which network this was on.

Hiya’ll: Anyone heard of Calvins Geneva, well imagine transplanting it’s rules and thrusting them onto modern secular society.

I am scared.

And quite reasonably so. You left out a few other categories of potential stonees, including adulterers, fornicators, disobedient children, disobedient slaves (yup, serious Biblical Reconstructionism would restore slavery), and more (e.g., “witches”).

Of course, in a modern context, any such ideology would be in service to the state, meaning that “dissidents” and other troublemakers would also be subject to, ah, discipline - not necessarily constrained to old-fashioned techniques such as public stoning or burning.

This is, of course, the extreme scenario: Franco’s Madrid or Mussolini’s Rome might be more relevant analogies than old Geneva, though not even El Caudillo wrapped himself in christian rhetoric quite so tightly as does the current regime.

As for whether such a coup would really enjoy popular support - I’d say not for long. Given another 9/11 scale attack, and a public sufficiently panicked to overlook, again, just who was supposed to be on guard duty, a fast-moving crusade to “set things straight” might well sweep away our remaining Constitutional safeguards and put a lot of us anti-war activists in camps. However, the probable ensuing economic & military mismanagement would antagonize enough citizens that even the joys of stone-throwing wouldn’t keep the rabble regulated indefinitely.

By the time America got to be America again, though, the US would find itself a has-been among nations, rather like Russia today.

Alienward Wrote:

The ID creationists will lose just like all of the other creationists before them.

Now it seems that by “win” and “lose” you mean legally, as in being able to teach their nonsense in public school.

That means that there are 3 battles:

1. The scientific one, which ID lost - or more correctly classic creationism (CC) lost and ID forefitted.

2. The popularity one, in which ID is winning, though almost entirely at the expense of CC.

3. The legal one, in which CC lost and ID is fighting.

I hope you are right about 3, but ultimately, we reduce the demand, not just the supply.

1- Homosexuals would be stoned to death 2- Professing atheists would be stoned to death 3- Non christians would be stoned to death 4- Rape victims would sometimes be stoned to death

well, at least there would be a lot of work for the stone quarrys.

“oh, Brian, let’s go to the stoning”

http://www.mwscomp.com/movies/brian/brian-04.htm

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on October 10, 2005 4:30 AM.

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