Goodbye, Kansas

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It's a sad day for American science. We've lost Kansas.

Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The 6-4 vote was a victory for "intelligent design" advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools, in violation of the constitutional ban on state establishment of religion.

All six of those who voted for the new standards were Republicans. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted no.

For the next few years, a lot of schoolkids are going to get taught slippery twaddle—instead of learning what scientists actually say about biology, they're going to get the phony pseudoscience of ideologues and dishonest hucksters. And that means the next generation of Kansans are going to be a little less well informed, even more prone to believing the prattlings of liars, and the cycle will keep on going, keep on getting worse.

This, for instance, is baloney.

The new standards say high school students must understand major evolutionary concepts. But they also declare that the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.

The proponents of these changes don't have any idea what the fossil and molecular evidence says, and they are misrepresenting it. There is no credible evidence against common descent and chemical evolution; those concepts are being strengthened, year by year. What does this school board think to gain by teaching students lies?

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

Rewriting the definition of science seems a rather presumptuous thing for a school board to do, I think, especially when their new definition is something contrary to what working scientists and major scientific organizations say is science. As for removing the limitation to natural phenomena, what do they propose to add? Ghosts, intuition, divine revelation, telepathic communications from Venusians? It's simply insane.

The clowns of Kansas don't think so, of course.

"This is a great day for education. This is one of the best things that we can do," said board chairman Steve Abrams. Another board member who voted in favor of the standards, John Bacon, said the move "gets rid of a lot of dogma that's being taught in the classroom today."

John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said changes probably would come to classrooms gradually, with some teachers feeling freer to discuss criticisms of evolution. "These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists," Calvert said.

The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports challenges to Darwinian evolutionary theory, praised the Kansas effort. "Students will learn more about evolution, not less as some Darwinists have falsely claimed," institute spokesman Casey Luskin said in a written statement.

Casey Luskin is a toady for the DI, so what does he know? There is a straightforward body of evidence for evolution to which students should be introduced—evidence that high school curricula barely touch on as it is. Adding a collection of false and confusing claims about what scientists say is only going to diminish the legitimate science that can be taught. And teaching absurdities, such as that science deals with the supernatural, represents a load of garbage that instructors at the college level are going to have to scoop out of the brains of these poor students. At least, that is, out of the diminishing number of students who will pursue genuine science, rather than the dead-end vapor of Intelligent Design creationism.

Goodbye, Kansas. I don't expect to see many of your sons and daughters at my university in coming years, unless the teachers of your state refuse to support the outrageous crapola their school board has foisted on them. I hope the rest of the country moves on, refusing to join you in your stagnant backwater of 18th century hokum.


Since I got a useful list of the pro and con members of the board in the comments, I thought it would be a good idea to bring it up top and spread the word.

Here are the Kansas good guys. When they come up for re-election, vote for them.

Pro-evolution, the heirs of the Enlightenment:
Janet Waugh
Sue Gamble
Carol Rupe
Bill Wagnon

Here are the Kansas bad guys. Vote against them whenever you can.

Pro-intelligent-design, the wretched sucktards of Ignorance:
Kathy Martin
Kenneth Willard
John W. Bacon
Iris Van Meter
Connie Morris
Steve Abrams

4 TrackBacks

Plan C from Political Animal on November 9, 2005 1:14 PM

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133 Comments

Welcome to the dark ages Kansas! This is painful reading - I just hope that these clowns come to realize that the rest of the world is either shaking their heads in disbelief or laughing uncontrollably. I’m doing both…

If the Dover case is ruled how we think it will, does this mean legal action against the Kansas School Board?

Janet Waugh, one of the four intelligent members of the board, put it well:

“This is a sad day. We’re becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that.”

I hope those ACLU lawyers are ready to fly from Dover to Kansas! All we need is one brave parent to sue right? This reminds me of an old joke: You know why they call Kansas the “heartland” of America? Because the brain’s not there!

–darth

Lyin’ Luskin:

Students will learn more about evolution, not less as some Darwinists have falsely claimed

Actually, those students will learn a lot about liars like you, Casey.

Just like those rubes in Dover learned a lot about liars like you.

And Casey, since I know you read this blog, why not pop in here and tell us why you refuse to debate scientists about the nature of “intelligent design” and the rest of your employer’s false propaganda?

What are you afraid of, Casey?

“These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists,” Calvert said.

Wow. A notorious liar and paid stooge for Christian reconstructionism calls the world’s scientists “fundamentalists” and our lazy media simply passes the microphone around.

It doesn’t get more pathetic. Oh wait, I forgot: they quoted Luskin, too … and some moron named John Bacon …

the move “gets rid of a lot of dogma that’s being taught in the classroom today.”

Bacon added: “This is the first step towards teaching our kids the controversy about disease-spreading fags.”

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

‘Four.’

‘And if the party says that it is not four but five—then how many?’

‘Four.’

Perhaps you are overestimating the harm that this will do. How much evolution education is there in high school anyway? And only a small portion of those which, if teachers go along with this, will be overexaggerating the problems with the neo-Darwinian consensus. Doesn’t seem like such a really big deal. For all we know, it might encourage more kids to study evolution further, at which point they will be straightened out.

Perhaps you are overestimating the harm that this will do. How much evolution education is there in high school anyway? And only a small portion of those which, if teachers go along with this, will be overexaggerating the problems with the neo-Darwinian consensus.

Grammar: D+ Accuracy: F Originality: F

Just one question for Luskin et al.

“Define the Intelligent Designer?”

LGM,FSM, The infinite dreams of the Hindu God’s, Adams Mother, The Time before Time began etc etc. are all equally likely.

“the board rewrote the definition of “science”

Why stop there?

Why not redefine “country”, “attack”, “cat”, “ship”, “crash”, “space ship”, “water”, .….….…or “PI” yep that will definitely work.

A simple intelligence test is needed for the IDDIots.

H2O is to water as God is to .…… Electron is to Electricity as ID is to .….…

Here’s an easy one True or False.

Ghost is to Science as Science is “no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.”

This just gets easier and easier.

I caught an article about this on CNN.com while in the school library earlier today. I decided to wait until PT posted something about it before I expressed my opinion.

Though it is sad, I have a feeling that the decision will come back to haunt those who voted for it. (look at the relection records for the Dover school board and the way that the results of the K v D case are leaning)

PS Anyway, this post is not a comment as much as a reanouncment of my presence:

About a year and a half ago, I started posting at PT. I have not posted anything in about a year. However, even though I left PT, I have still followed the ID movement and the ID controversy. By next semester I will graduate with my hard-earned BS in biology. I have a strong interest in evolution and next semester my college (Mesa State in Grand Junction CO) will FINALLY be offering the evolution course (yes! so I can learn all about this subject I love o-so-well). Unlike the last time I was posting on PT, this time I will not leave my email address.(if I can)(the fact that I received so much $*@%^ SPAM from leaving it last time that I had to change it to make the #($&($@ spam stop should serve as a reminder)

Anyway, for those who care, I’m going to start posting again (I just hope that I don’t leave my actual email address behind.)

Wait, didn’t the *insert acronyms that I can’t remember here* pull copyright for those standards? Don’t they have a lot of work to do before they can actually use them?

One bright side to this. Fellow pseudoscientist Richard C. Hoagland has announced that he is happy about this decision and will be seeing how serious the Kansas board is by trying to introduce his bizarre theory that some intelligent designer is responsible for life on Earth, the life that existed on Mars and the OBVIOUSLY intelligently designed moons of Saturn. Hoagland is probably too cranky even for Kansans.

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

I think team rational-goodguys kicks an own goal when it insists science is natural explanations of natural phenomena. You only NEED to insist that science is inference from natural phenomena, because anything which is demonstrated by natural evidence IS part of the natural world … that’s what ALL things in our world of evidence based nature are. So, with a weaker assertion you still infer exactly the same phenomena, and additionally many of the most mindless creationists are happy to accept that science only takes us “where the evidence leads us”. Of course they tend to be hopelessly mistaken about how well the evidence supports their beliefs, but that’s not really an important issue

Is there a link to the new standards anywhere?

Cheer up. Kids who are taught the (non-existent) controversy see their “test scores soar” (according to this IDist).

“I hope to help the students think,” he said of his presentations to schools. “I’d like them to have the options and think about it. When students are presented options, their science scores soar.”

What happens if a Kansas science teacher explains to his/her students that this redefinition of science is baloney? Might we see another “monkey trial”?

I particularly liked the part of “getting rid of dogma in the science classes.”

Let’s be clear: according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th edition, dogma is:

1) a doctrine; tenet; belief 2) doctrines, tenets, or beliefs, collectively 3) a positive, arrogant assertion of opinion 4) (Eccles.) a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed (emphasis mine)

Note the prevailing use of opinion and belief in here. Dogma refers to religion. Science is not a religion. It doesn’t depend on faith, belief, opinion, or “authoritative affirmation” in order to exist. When we do science, we observe the natural world and attempt to explain those observations with explanations. It doesn’t matter whether 99% of the population believes that massive objects fall faster than less massive ones – they still fall at the same rate!!!!!

I particularly liked the part of “getting rid of dogma in the science classes.”

Let’s be clear: according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th edition, dogma is:

1) a doctrine; tenet; belief 2) doctrines, tenets, or beliefs, collectively 3) a positive, arrogant assertion of opinion 4) (Eccles.) a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed (emphasis mine)

Note the prevailing use of opinion and belief in here. Dogma refers to religion. Science is not a religion. It doesn’t depend on faith, belief, opinion, or “authoritative affirmation” in order to exist. When we do science, we observe the natural world and attempt to explain those observations with explanations. It doesn’t matter whether 99% of the population believes that massive objects fall faster than less massive ones – they still fall at the same rate!!!!!

only two left to go:

war is peace freedom is slavery

er, make that just one…

I do not expect any better from the folk in Kansas for one very mundane reason: they are quite happy with the sale of 3% beer in that state. How can you expect people who do that to beer to NOT think ID is good for them and their kids?

Sorry about the double comment…browser issues.

This is a sad day for me as someone who earned a PhD in Biology from the University of Kansas. This institution has one of the finest programs in evolutionary biology in the world and some of the best research in the field (especially systematics and paleontology) takes place in the Natural History Museum there. It is shame that the reputation of such a great program will probably suffer (some say it has already) as a result of the actions of the Board of Education.

Were there any school board elections, by chance, in Kansas yesterday?

Doesn’t something like this happen there every few years or so? This time around they at least seem to be endorsing the Intelligent Design nonsense instead of young-earth creationism. It’s still stupid but it’s Stupid Lite.

I’m not sure how this round is the final irrevocable loss of Kansas; either we lost it a long time ago or there’s hope for more reversals in the future.

1)I don’t know Kansas law, but from what I have read local school districts in Kansas don’t have to follow the State Board guidelines. In fact enlightened districts will ignore such stupidity since they will have good secondary school students headed for pre med and biology major programs. I don’t see how it can be enforced if teachers refuse the standards.

2)What keeps parents in a school district from suing the board in the manner of the Dover case in Penn?

“In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.”

How the world would such a definition be enforced? There will not be a single science teacher in Kansas that will pay any attention to such a statement!

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Hmmm.. Ok. This is a comment, so I will just leave my 0.02$ here. (oh, I am also from Kansas BTW, and resent some of the above comments.)

1) Chemical evolution is not ‘impossible’… It is just HIGHLY HIGHLY improbable. There were experiments involving high heat, high pressure to artificially create polypeptide chains (Forgive me for not citing a research note, please), and in fact, DID succeed– However, the conditions of the experiment required high concentrations of specific amino acids, which even in today’s bio-active world are not normally found naturally. Additionally, the peptides generated were not the correct ones for forming complex life-precursor interactions.

The thesis of the experiment was not to prove that chemical evolution ‘did’ occur, as much as to show that it ‘could have’ occurred, under the meteorite impacts of the early solar system. (High heat, high pressure impacts on a primordial earth, presumably laced with amino acids in water from organic compound rich cosmic dust collection).

The result of the experiment shows that it is indeed ‘possible’, however, the variables involved (temperature, pressure, amino acids present, concentration, etc, etc…) cannot be examined, and therefore cannot be tested conclusively. Further, even under controlled conditions, the resulting polypeptides highly favored non-life precursors, over those that are suggested as having done so. This could say that our understanding of chemical evolution is flawed from lack of evidence on which to experiment– but I personally believe that bio-chemists know what they are talking about, and are correct in their assertions about which polypeptides are essential, and which ones are not.

Given the Bias here, I would say that the statistical odds of chemical evolution are not in the evolutionist’s favor. (Kinda like how astrophysicists point out why there is so much more matter in the universe than antimatter…) It is possible that earth is a VERY VERY rare exception… But that still doesn’t solve the improbability issue.

As you might imagine, I am an advocate of the Occam’s Razor principle.

Then, once you have the issue initial formation improbability, you have random re conformation/interaction improbability, and the issue spirals hopelessly outside of the scope of logical reason. (Though any finite improbability is still a logical possibility.)

Remember folks— Just because chemical evolution is the best that science has to offer at the moment, does not necessarily make it “The correct Answer” ™.

As for the implications of (Ahem) “Intelligent Design”, If you remove any religious implications (Which is the only way I could even begin to see it taught in a school as a possible resolution to this question), It could just as easily have the role of “God” being an alien from an alternative universe (A theoretical possibility), as that of some “divine Creator”, since all it takes to be quote “Intelligent design”, is for some intelligence (Divine or otherwise) to concoct a plan to seed a suitable planet with microbes–

Or in the case of direct universal cosmology– for some intelligence in an alternate universe to be conducting advanced quantum mechanical research, and as a side effect of that research, ‘accidentally’ create a new universe (Which would have been impossible for them to tell– For all we know, our own research in that Field may have generated a universe or two, since parallel universes are purely hypothetical already.) The only reason I even suggest such a thing here, is because of the EXTREME improbability of chemical precursor evolution… So, I thought, why not give another, highly improbable scenario. :D

Currently, the only thing the school system REALLY should teach as “The correct answer” ™, is this:

“We do not know. However, our current understanding of life suggests (insert tirade about chemical evolution, and subsequent bio-evolution here)– Unfortunately, it appears that such a series of events is highly improbable. Additionally, there are proponents that (Insert tirade about intelligent design, covering *ALL* aspects, not just religious), but there is no way to prove or deny such a claim. Both contributors to this argument believe that their direction of thinking is the correct and proper one, however, since it is a topic of debate, we can teach neither as a fact, since neither has been summarily proven. Evolution has the current bid for correctness however, in that it has shown evidence to the effect that it is in fact “possible”, where as the intangible speculative nature of Intelligent Design has yet to be able to do.”

This answer, however, would probably not sit well with the Creationist (Christian Science) peoples, despite the fact that the bible does not rule out evolution. There are many such ‘scientists’ who feel the earth is only some 6000 years old, as per the estimated lifespans of early biblical figures– However, the truth of the matter here is that the bible itself does not give an actual age, but does give a very shattering hint here and there that the 6000 year figure given by such dogmatists is in fact false. ;) (As per geological record, and radio carbon date analysis.) This is, in my opinion, just another incarnation of “Copernicus VS Dogma”, just instead of a heliocentric universe, we have a several billion year old planet, VS a 6000 year old one. :P

As for Evolution Proper, VS “Creationism”, the bible is not descript in the way in which ‘god’ “Created” these life forms. Since the general theme of the bible is that god is both “All knowing” and “Mysterious” (to prove his own grandeur), I personally think it more in line with the character of this divinity to USE evolution as the method of his creation (What better way to show off your powers as a god, than to pull a veritable rabbit out of his hat, in causing the above HORRIBLY improbable chemical evolution scenario as the means to his end? LOL!). This given that the biblical time frame (6 “Days”) is symbolic, and not actual time. (Later passages in the old testament give “Days for years” etc.. the concept of “Days” in the bible is often used very symbolically, therefore citations of this short a time frame is not grounds for creationists to throw out evolution as a means by which their divinity created life)

Now, the real kicker against the Creationist, comes from theological examination of the bible. Early in genesis, it mentions the expulsion of Cain–

(Genesis 4) 16And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. 17And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Hold it a moment— We went straight from First and second born sons to having a wife, and a whole city pop up in just a short time! Where did all those people come from, and where would Cain find a wife in the land of Nod!?

Some christian apologists say that Cain married one of his sisters, but the bible clearly says nothing of the sort here— It instead raises an interesting possibility, considering a few things:

Early man’s accepted evolutionary ancestors were not into agriculture per se- They were hunter gatherer tribes.

and that god created ‘Adam’ because “There was no man to till the fields” (IE, to practice agriculture) (Genesis 2, 4-7)

Taken together, the modern creationist could reconcile human evolution (and the lack of fossil evidence for “Missing link” Man (For lack of better term) with these verses and come up with the following adapted creation idea:

God had created other kinds of man (Genesis 1 26-31) that did not practice agriculture (Evolution anyone?), But decided after his day of rest, that he had missed making a man that practices agriculture (genesis 2, 4-7). Cain screwed the pooch, and was outcast for killing his brother, moved to “Nod”, married one of these other early humanoids, and settled over there– causing a city to be built.

This holds closer to biblical scripture than suggesting that Cain married his sister, and also explains why there would be people in Nod (and possibly why different regions already had names. Hmmm…)

Of course, I have yet to see a creationist come up with such a creative idea… They often as not being too deeply grounded in LITERAL dark-age dogma to even convince themselves to look acceptably at Evolution as a possibility to begin with.

But hope springs forth eternal, no? At least it would be a start.…

The calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule formed by chance. However, biochemistry is not chance, making the calculated odds meaningless. Biochemistry produces complex products, and the products themselves interact in complex ways. For example, complex organic molecules are observed to form in the conditions that exist in space, and it is possible that they played a role in the formation of the first life .

The calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule must take one certain form. However, there are innumerable possible proteins that promote biological activity. Any calculation of odds must take into account all possible molecules (not just proteins) that might function to promote life.

The calculation of odds assumes the creation of life in its present form. The first life would have been very much simpler.

The calculation of odds ignores the fact that innumerable trials would have been occurring simultaneously.

Conditions today are different from conditions in the past in two important ways: First, there was little or no molecular oxygen in the atmosphere or oceans when life first appeared. Free oxygen is reactive and would likely have interfered with the formation of complex organic molecules. More importantly, there was no life around before life appeared. The life that is around today would scavenge and eat any complex molecules before they could turn into anything approaching new life.

Retarded Kansans

are you a biochemist? Are you familliar with organic isomers, inverted protiens, and the like? Those are all potential outcomes of such random fusions of stellar amino acid isomers.…

(sigh) Ya know, listening to you talk about science is a lot like listening to my eight year old neice talk about sex.

She knows all the words, but she doesn’t have the foggiest idea what any of them mean.

“Based on the unrebutted testimony of…” (insert your favorite intelligent design nemesis)

I’d like, very very much, to see them make that argument in court.

Please.

Pretty please.

On the bright side, since special creation is a known tenant of “creation science”, it’ll be easy to get that one thrown out in court long before it has to go up to the supreme court.

This is the biggest favor that the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt did for us with their silly “hearings” – ammo. They were kind enough to give us their entire argument, right there for the whole world to see (and remember), while they got to hear NOTHING of the rebuttals. And if any of them on the stand under oath, alter or chan ge anything of what they said during the “hearings”, I think the judge will have some VERY sharp questions for them …

As for this “ID equals creationism” thingie, well, let’s take a look, shall we (with thanks, once again, to the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt)?

Of the six defining characteristics of creation “science” as listed in the Maclean v Arkansas case:

“Creation-science” means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences. Creation-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing; (2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; (3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals; (4) Separate ancestry for man and apes; (5) Explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.

Excerpts from the Kansas hearing transcripts:

Q. Do you believe in common descent?

A. You mean, common ancestry?

Q. Common descent, yes.

A. Well, I have difficulty with common ancestry and maybe that’s what you mean by common descent.

Q. Do you believe in common descent in humans, such as the fact that there were perhominids before homo sapiens?

A. Are you asking me if I accept evolutionary thought on this?

Q. I’m asking you if you accept prehominids as the ancestral line to homo sapiens?

A. Personally I don’t, no.

Q. You what?

A. I personally do not.

Q. You do not?

A. Yes. I mean, I’m not an expert on this. (Thaxton testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. You do accept, do you not, common descent within species?

A. Within a single species, of course. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.

Q. What about among species?

A. Among species? Well, I stated in my power point that I find it extremely unlikely based on the evidence that the animal phyla are related through common ancestry. Other biologists have said they’re dubious of common ancestry at levels higher than that. The levels in between, I don’t know. As a scientist I would have to say each case would have to be settled based on the evidence.

Q. What about between humans, the humans– homo sapiens and other species, such as prehominids?

A. I think it’s extremely unlikely based on the evidence. (Wells testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Sir, the first question I’d like to ask you is, do you accept the evolutionary theory of common descent of humans from prehominids?

A. From the data that I’ve been following it’s probably not true.(Simat testimony, Kansas Hearings, transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you– do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life was biologically related to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Leonard testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to predominant ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the principle– the general principle of common descent that all of life was biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. Not if you interpret common descent, and realize that I’m taking liberty here, not if you interpret common descent as being that that is natural selection acting on random mutations I do not.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. I will say no, because –

Q. I didn’t ask you for an explanation. Yes or no?

A. Okay. No.

Q. Okay. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Millam testimony, Kansas Hearing transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life was biologically related to the beginning of life, yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors, yes or no?

A. No. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life, yes or no?

A. I won’t answer that question as a yes or no. I accept the idea of limited common descent. I am skeptical about universal common descent. I do not take it as a principle; it is a theory. And I think the evidence supporting the theory of universal common descent is weak.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors, yes or no?

A. I’m not sure. I’m skeptical of it because I think the evidence for the proposition is weak, but it would not affect my conviction that life is designed if it turns out that there was a genealogical continuity. (Meyer testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. Not as defined by neo-Darwinism, no.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors?

A. I doubt it. (Menuge testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************************

Q. And I’m going to ask you first how old, in your opinion, is the world?

A. I’m going to answer like Dr. Sanford earlier, I would say between probably a lot younger than most people think.

Q. That doesn’t say anything to me. What is your opinion in years the age of the earth?

A. I’m fine with 5,000 to 100,000.

Q. You’re fine with 5,000 to 100,000?

A. Correct. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Some of the witnesses, on the other hand, recognized the danger in the tactic that Irigonegaray was pursuing, and tried to evade the question, with some still leaving a crack open for a young earth. Indeed, the Board members also saw the danger in it, and promptly “reminded” one of the witnesses that they didn’t have to answer any questions:

Q. In your opinion, your personal opinion, what is the age of the earth?

A. Do you want my personal– why are you asking me about my personal–

Q. You’re here to answer my questions. First of all, what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I understood I was being called as an expert witness.

Q. What is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I’m unclear. I understand–

Q. The question is simple. What is, in your opinion, the age of the earth?

A. Well, I’m just wanting to clarify the ground rules here. I thought I was being called as an expert witness, so why are you asking me about my personal–

Q. That’s not the issue. Now, please answer my question. What is your personal–

A. I would like to understand the ground rules first. Why am I being asked about–

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Mr. Chairman, if he’s not going to answer my questions, I’d ask that his testimony be stricken from the record.

A. I’m happy to answer your question. I’d like to know why you’re asking about–

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) The “why” is not for you to determine. …

A. You would like me to cooperate with that?

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: You can either answer “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know,” or whatever you want to do, but that– yes, I’d like you to cooperate.

A. It’s a transparently obvious strategy to impeach the credibility of your witnesses, but I will cooperate. So my answer to your question, Pedro, is that I– my personal opinions and my professional opinions are the same. I think the earth is 4.6 billion years old. I think the universe is–

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) No, just the earth. I didn’t ask you about the universe.

A. My opinion of–

Q. Mr. Meyer, please just answer my question. I’m not asking you other opinions.

MR. SISSON: I’d simply request to make a point here, ask the Chairman if I may make a point. Mr. Chairman, would you instruct the witness that there is no subpoena power here and that he is under no compulsion to answer and he would suffer no penalty if he chose to decline to answer.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: He can answer the questions to his extent. However, we would like you to answer them.

A. Does that mean I can say something else about the age of the earth?

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray is going to ask the questions that he thinks important and he may repeat the question. And he will ask– my guess is it will be a yes or a no answer or some side of an answer like that. If you feel comfortable answering that, say “yes,” or if you don’t know, say you don’t know, whatever it is. I mean, be truthful and answer however you feel comfortable answering.

A. Right. But may I say anything more about the age of the earth, then?

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) I’m the one asking questions here, Mr. Meyer, and all you need to do is to answer my question.

A. Okay. I think the age of the earth is 4.6 billion years old. That’s both my personal and my professional opinion. I speak as someone who is trained as a geophysicist–

Q. I’m not asking you about that. I just asked you for a number, and you have given it to me.

A. Okay. That’s all you want is the number?

Q. My questions are pretty clear, Mr. Meyer. (Meyer testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. I’d like to ask you for the record, first, can you tell us how old you believe the earth is?

A. I don’t know. I think it’s probably really old.

Q. How old is really old?

A. I don’t really know.

Q. You have no idea how old the earth is?

A. There’s theories around that the earth is 10,000ish years old. There are theories around that it is four billion years old. If it was a multiple choice test and I only had two choices and I couldn’t check “I don’t know,” and I wanted to get credit for the question, I’d check old.

Q. I understand, sir. But in all the work you have done, in all the research that you have done, in all your experience to this day you still don’t have an opinion as to how old the earth is?

A. I have an opinion, I just don’t really know. My opinion is it’s probably fourish billion years old.

Q. Four billion years old. All right. (Harris testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Doctor Wells, do you have a personal opinion as to how old the earth is?

A. I think the earth is probably four-and-a-half billion or so years old. But I’ll tell you this, I used to– I would have said, a few years ago, I’m convinced it’s four-and-a-half billion years old. But the truth is I have not looked at the evidence. And I have become increasingly suspicious of the evidence that is presented to me and that’s why at this point I would say probably it’s four-and-a-half billion years old, but I haven’t looked at the evidence. (Wells testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. I have a few questions that I want to ask you for the record. First, what is your opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. I really don’t have an opinion.

Q. You have no opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. Four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students.

Q. I’m asking what is your opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. ‘Um, I was asked to come out here to talk about my experiences as a high school biology teacher.

Q. I’m asking you, sir –

A. I was not under the impression that I was asked to come out here –

Q. I’m asking you –

A. – talking about –

Q. – sir, what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. Four– four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students, sir.

Q. That’s not my question. My question is, whatis your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. Again, I was under the impression to come out here and talk about my professional experience –

Q. Is there a difference?

A. – more of –

Q. Is there a difference between your personal opinion and what you teach students the age of the world is?

A. Four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students, sir.

Q. Is– my question is, is there a difference between your personal opinion and what you teach your students?

A. Again, you’re putting a spin on the question is– you know, now I’ll spin any answer, sir, to say that my opinion is irrelevant. Four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students.

Q. The record will reflect your answer. (Leonard testimony, Kansas Hearing transcript)

*************************************************

Q. What is your opinion as to the age of the earth?

A. In light of time I would say most of the evidence that I see, I read and I understand points to an old age of the earth.

Q. And how old is that age?

A. I don’t know. I just know what I read with regards to data. It looks like it’s four billion years.

Q. And is that your personal opinion?

A. No. My personal opinion is I really don’t know. I’m struggling.

Q. You’re struggling with what the age of the earth is?

A. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure. There’s a lot of ways to measure the age. Meteorites is one way. There’s a lot of elements used. There’s a lot of assumptions can be used and those assumptions can be challenged so I don’t really know.

Q. What is the range that you are instructing?

A. I think the range we heard today, somewhere between 5,000 and four billion.

Q. You– you– you believe the earth may be as young as 5,000 years old. Is that correct?

A. Well, we’re learning that there’s such a thing as junc –

Q. Sir, answer –

A. – really has a function.

Q. Just please answer my question, sir.

A. We’re learning a lot about micro –

Q. Sir?

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Mr. Abrams, please instruct the witness to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: I think –

Q. (By Mr. Irigonegaray) The question was– and winking at him is not going to do you any good. Answer my question. Do you believe the earth may be as young as 5,000 years old?

A. It could be. (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. The first thing I’d like to ask you is what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. I’m undecided.

Q. What is your best guess?

A. I’m totally undecided.

Q. Give me your best range.

A. Anywhere from 4.5 billion years to ten thousand years.

Q. And, of course, you have reached that conclusion based on the best scientific evidence available?

A. Yes. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. What is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I don’t know. And that’s my final answer.

Q. Do you have an opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I’m not giving an opinion.

Q. I didn’t hear you.

A. I am not giving an opinion.

Q. You don’t have any personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I have no opinion. (Menuge testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

ID witness John Sanford declared that the age of earth was “maybe 10,000 years” but “not as young as 5,000”.

Every IDer I’ve ever heard of (and nearly all of those who “testified” at Kansas) accepts at MINIMUM characteristics 2 and 4, (Behe being the only exception to 4, and he has been waffling), nearly all of them accept 1 and (by rejecting “macroevolution”) 3, and a very large proportion of those who testified in Kansas either accepted 6 outright, or hemmed and hawed in an effort to avoid pissing off advocates of number 6. The Kansas Kangaroo Kourt didn’t ask about characteristic 5 (“Flood geology”), but it’s a certain bet that everyone who accepts 6 also accepts 5. As for 5 and 6, keep in mind that rejecting them does NOT mean that one is not a creationist — the old-earth creationists like Ross, for instance, reject them, and by no stretch of the imagination can they be considered anything other than creation “scientists”, as the Maclean decision applies to them.

These statements will kill them in court. They demonstrate with crystal clarity that ID is just creationism. And they cannot run away from it, hide it, or deny it.

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Comment #56181 Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 07:35 PM (e) (s)

h brthr. ppl snd dmb mst f th tm, bt nvr qt s mch s whn g nt r chckn-lttl md. f D s mntnd n scnc clss, vn f t s “tght”, t wll hv n ffct. D thnk ths kds r stpd?

Gee, Heddle, that’s the most sensible thing I recall ever seeing from you. (snicker)

Dr. Lenny - EXCELLENT! I LOVE this comment! Heddle is such a smarmy toad, that this comment is ALMOST as good as the news from Dover!

weird_w Wrote:

As I said earlier, I can easily prove that it can happen with ID as well— Just by sending a rocket with a soda can full of microbes to Europa.

How does transporting microbes from one place to another make them intelligently design? Do you fancy yourself the designer of these microbes because you’ve moved them? If so, a lot of living things here on earth are “intelligently designed” by your definition. A forrest near my house was once a farmer’s field. It was clear-cut and plowed about 80 years ago. I guess you think that all the trees that are there now were “intelligently designed” by the farmer that cleared the field.

The material model is the familiar one based on space, time, mass, energy, etc.

“etc” is not fixed. If our models were limited to the “familiar” then we would never enlarge our models. And if you want to so restrict “material” to current models, then the “definition” of natural as material is simply invalid.

I can imagine all kinds of possible observations that would be labeled unexplainable by the material model (but not necessarily “scientifically unexplainable”). Example:

A psychic talks to a dead person who tells him that Usama Bin Laden is living at 6969 69th Avenue in Manhattan. The FBI go there and arrest him.

What is a “psychic”? You need some sort of model before you can use the term. And if a person “tells” someone something, the person is not dead – not according to our current model of “dead”. And the FBI going to some address and finding UBL is not at all inconsistent with material models. There could be numerous channels by which the FBI learned of the location that aren’t spelled out in the description, or they could just be lucky; even highly unlikely occurrences aren’t “unexplainable”, due to the uncertain nature of empirical epistemology. This claim of not being materially explainable bears an unfortunate resemblance to Targ & Putoff’s argumentum ad ignorantiam regarding Uri Geller, with a heavy dose of question begging thrown in.

apologies for going slightly off topic, but…

i want to thank the posters on this board for being so damn articulate and intelligent. it gives someone like me, smart but with limited hard science knowledge, a great deal of succor and hope that people are out there fighting the rigorous scientific fight, and not resting on laurels. asshats like Wierd_w are at their core disingenuous, so taking them on must be tiring and frustrating (as one suspects is the point–these days blogs are filled with people with professional agendas, shall we say, commenting in support of lead paint or asbestos standards or ID–pretty much anyone with an axe to grind and some cash behind them is doing so). bless you for doing so.

the saddest thing for me is to imagine what it does to the real area of importance in scientific research and debate–the fact that there are ongoing and quite brutal battles of interpretation of data as that data comes in. in that ferment are born many of the great ideas that make it possible for us all to enjoy most of what we enjoy. yet IDers insist that science is “closed off to debate” and use terms like “dogma” and the like to (reverse judo chop!) make science seem like…religion. but in a bad way. because, confusingly, they are mostly extremely religious. maybe someone can enlighten me on that aspect of their argument, because i still can’t parse it. point is, idiots now believe that evolution is some dogmatic thing, instead of a set of principles that are ever battled-tested by constant empirical research. they get science exactly 180 degrees wrong, and people believe them.

sorry so discursive, it’s why i’m NOT a scientist. but, again, reading this comment field has been like diving into a good novel, and i’m thankful to all involved, even vowel-light Heddie, for that.

Janet Waugh, one of the four intelligent members of the board, put it well: “This is a sad day. We’re becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that.”

Just in case anyone doubted that, Kansas and this whole neo-creo debacle was brought up on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” last night. In a segment called “All you need to know”, Colbert said about Kansas science students: “Not much.”

Greetings to all. I’ve been following the Dover trial, and PT, for some time but am a first-time poster. I’ve truly enjoyed reading the posts here and like Robert, am heartened that so many here are standing up for science and reason – and that you have well-tuned baloney detectors!

Throwing my two cents in as a physical chemist doing research in quantum theory: “molecular complexity” seems counterintuitive and “unlikely” from a macro-perspective, which the IDers love because they equate perceived improbability with design. But atomic and molecular interactions are governed by quantum mechanics and its associated laws of atomic and subatomic physics, which underlie and explain a great deal of this so-called complexity. Of course we don’t know everything about how atoms interact, which is why those of us in the business can’t wait to get up and head for the lab every morning – there’s always something new and fascinating and unexpected about this universe, just waiting to be discovered, and ID on the other hand is a flat, dead end: why bother, because we can just say it’s too tough for us to figure out, and was therefore “designed.” What a waste.

The most shocking thing Behe said during his Dover testimony, amid all the other distortions and mischaracterizations, was that “all science is appearances.” I can’t imagine how a real scientist could ever make this claim. Someone’s perception means absolute zilch unless it’s backed up by testable evidence and data. If scientists really believed it was all appearances, we would never have come up with quantum theory – peculiar, counterintuitive, bizarre, makes no sense on the macro level – but it works.

Lenny, you are awesome :-)

Madam P

maybe someone can enlighten me on that aspect of their argument, because i still can’t parse it.

the reason you can’t parse it is that, like most adults who are rational, you left the “I know you are but what am I” argument behind in elementary school.

sarcasm aside, the idea of projecting the negative attributes in one’s own argument on to those of your opponent is a common, tho cheesy, debating tactic. Unfortunately, this tactic has worked wonders in politcal arenas for decades, and the IDiots have simply taken up a proven strategy.

Lenny, you are awesome :-)

Awwww, shucks … (blushes)

I’ve been a grassrooots organizer for a long long time, and know a few helpful things about it. And of course I find it tremendously entertaining to kick asses when the asses deserve it. ;)

But, truthfully, when it comes to science, I’m but a rank amateur. Next to people like Wesley, Gary, PZ and others, I am but a lowly little undergrad student sitting at the teacher’s knee.

The most shocking thing Behe said during his Dover testimony, amid all the other distortions and mischaracterizations, was that “all science is appearances.” I can’t imagine how a real scientist could ever make this claim.

It’s actually just a continuation of an old old creationist argument (just like all the *other* ID arguments are). Decades agho, ICR and AIG were arguing loudly and longly that science was “just another religion”, no better than any other. Hence, the argument goes, there is no reason to prefer science over any other “philosophy”.

The more arguments ID presents, the more clearly we can see that they are nothing more than the same old creationist wine in a shiny new bottle (with a deceptive label).

I’ve not seen any ID argument, not a single one, that isn’t based on decades-old creation “science” boilerplate. (shrug)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on November 8, 2005 11:18 PM.

Wells, and the future of ID was the previous entry in this blog.

Apparent End of Dover School Board Reign of Error is the next entry in this blog.

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