The Washington Post misses the point


An editorial in today’s Washington Post discusses the school board election in Dover, Pennsylvania. The editorial makes a number of excellent points about the nature of the Intelligent Design controversy. They point out that getting thrown out of office is one of the risks you take when you play politics, and that the Intelligent Design movement relies entirely on politics to get their material into schools. They also point out that while the Discovery Institute claims to lack religious motivation, many of the people pushing Intelligent Design at the local level are clearly religiously motivated.

Those are all very good points, and it is definitely nice to see a newspaper like the Washington Post take an editorial position that favors teaching real science. Unfortunately, this editorial also makes a fundamental mistake when it discusses an issue related to the history of Intelligent Design, and this mistake leads to a conclusion that ends up just a bit wide of the mark.

Read More (at The Questionable Authority):


Excellent points, and right on target.

“Because” doesn’t bother me. I thknk ID is not testable in any meaningful sense. I could not in good conscience urge ID proponents to pursue a scientific path to their goals. There is none. From this point of view, “because”, is inevitable.

Keep in mind that this editorial is written by and for political analysts as opposed to scientists. What I mean to say is that political analysts are used to examining questions from both a policy and a political aspect. There are any number of public policies which make absolutely no sense from a policy perspective, but which persist due to political reasons…such as our “War on Drugs,” now celebrating its third decade of success in…well, in getting politicians re-elected.

A policy analyst must take both policy and politics into account in any analysis, and this is what the Post appears to be doing here, although I agree that their syntax could have been a little bit better.

Besides, if they were going to critique the science behind ID, it would have been a very short editorial. As it is, most people inside the Beltway are more interested in the political ramifications.

It’s like an updated Von Clausewitz: In Washington, politics is sport by other means.

“because”, is inevitable

If it were inevitable, then every view that fails to convince scientists would be pushed into the political arena. No, Mike’s analysis is quite correct, but subtle.

The one additional point I would make is that “once that controversy has been politicized, it’s hard to see how it can be resolved any other way” is likewise misconnected. Politics must be resolved in the political arena and science must be resolved in the scientific arena – ID is no exception. The scientific status of ID is well established, and the political status is in process.

It is not up to just a few DI hacks to do the research. If supporting research could be done it would be a very hot research area. Because ID is an arguemnt from ignorance (sometimes lowered even farther to a bad analogy with the “there is no other way this could have happened” assumption left tacit) there is no such research to be done.

I am happy to say that one of the more prominent Australian news papers (The Sydney Morning Herald) has a section on Intelligent Design and it was very pro evolution. One of the four articles is:[…]6809636.html

Another of the articles and it contains links to the other two articles.[…]6809073.html

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on November 12, 2005 6:41 AM.

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