And a shout out to Steve Fuller, too!

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Professor of Sociology Steven Fuller may not know much about the history or content of science (see his recent confusion – just like Linus Pauling’s! – about the difference between protein and DNA at Micheal Berube’s blog) but he is good at the kind of jargoneering that the Discovery Institute and its allies use to confuse the public about science. He is also not, as far as I know, aligned religiously or politically with the DI. This must have made him seem to the Thomas More Law Center as an excellent witness for the defense in the Kitzmiller trial. “See,” you can imagine the argument going, “even lefty post-modern professors think ID ought to be taught. This proves that the motive is not religious!”

Professor of Sociology Steven Fuller may not know much about the history or content of science (see his recent confusion – just like Linus Pauling’s! – between protein and DNA at Micheal Berube’s blog) but he is good the kind of jargoneering that the Discovery Institute and its allies use to confuse the public about science. He is also not, as far as I know, aligned religiously or politically with the DI, which must have made him seem an excellent choice as a witness for the defense in the Kitzmiller trial. “See,” you can imagine the argument going, “even lefty post-modern professors think ID ought to be taught. This proves that the motive is not religious!”

Fuller proved to be quite compliant generally, but Judge Jones seems not to to have heard his pleas to institute in Dover a kind of affirmative action program for ID. Instead, it was the repeated acknowledgement that Intelligent Design is, in fact, creationism, that Judge Jones took away as the salient point of Fuller’s testimony.

In the decision, Fuller is cited 11 times:

  • Professor Steven William Fuller testified that it is ID’s project to change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural. [30]
  • This definition was described by many witnesses for both parties, notably including defense experts Minnich and Fuller, as “special creation” of kinds of animals, an inherently religious and creationist concept. [33]
  • Moreover and as previously stated, there is hardly better evidence of ID’s relationship with creationism than an explicit statement by defense expert Fuller that ID is a form of creationism. [35]
  • Although contrary to Fuller, defense experts Professors Behe and Minnich testified that ID is not creationism, their testimony was primarily by way of bare assertion and it failed to directly rebut the creationist history of Pandas or other evidence presented by Plaintiffs showing the commonality between creationism and ID. [35]
  • Additionally and as pointed out by Plaintiffs, it is indeed telling that even defense expert Professor Fuller agreed with this conclusion by stating that in his own expert opinion the disclaimer is misleading.
  • Stated another way, ID posits that animals did not evolve naturally through evolutionary means but were created abruptly by a non-natural, or supernatural, designer. Defendants’ own expert witnesses acknowledged this point. (21:96-100 (Behe); P-718 at 696, 700 (“implausible that the designer is a natural entity”); 28:21-22 (Fuller) (“… ID’s rejection of naturalism and commitment to supernaturalism …”); [67]
  • First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. [68]
  • What is more, defense experts concede that ID is not a theory as that term is defined by the NAS and admit that ID is at best “fringe science” which has achieved no acceptance in the scientific community. [70]
  • Science cannot be defined differently for Dover students than it is defined in the scientific community as an affirmative action program, as advocated by Professor Fuller, for a view that has been unable to gain a foothold within the scientific establishment. [71]
  • Additionally, even if irreducible complexity had not been rejected, it still does not support ID as it is merely a test for evolution, not design. [79]
  • In addition to failing to produce papers in peer-reviewed journals, ID also features no scientific research or testing. [88]

See the trend?

What the TMLC failed to appreciate when they booked Fuller as a witness was that he doesn’t believe in any kind of science. In the pomo view, science is all about social relationships and power dynamics. Whatever privileged role science has in society is fraudulantly obtained. Scientific authority is a sham.

(The TMLC and DI think the same thing, of course, but they contrast the relative truth derived from empirical observation of the natural world with the absolute truth of their deity’s words.)

Calling an expert witness who doesn’t believe in science to a trial about an idea’s scientific status was probably a mistake. Certainly, Steven Fuller wins second place (behind Michael Behe) in the race for the title of “Best Defense Witness for the Prosecution.”

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There is a most excellent online seminar on Mooney's Republican War on Science going on over at Crooked Timber. The usual gang is reviewing it, with the addition of the inestimable Tim Lambert and Steve Fuller. Wait a minute…Steve Fuller?... Read More

17 Comments

I feel as if I owe a thank you card to Fuller, Behe and even Dembski. They have provided us a rich and seemingly never ending source of entertainment and amusement.

Fuller, Behe and Dembski, in the zillion to one odds you are reading this -

Thanks fellas, for the laughs, the thousands of discussions you spawned, but most of all thanks for the memories. Oh and tell your buddies at the TMLC to keep up the, um…strange work.

Your pal,

Chris

I doubt if you’ll be able to get a statement out of Fuller. He is probably busy “elevating his game”.

I feel as if I owe a thank you card to Fuller, Behe and even Dembski.

Ol’ Bill Dumbski is strangely silent. Not a peep about Kitzmiller over at Uncommon Dissent. I was thinking of posting a few guerrilla taunting comments, but why help lift him out of his misery?

The whole thing is, and has always been, so postmodern I could puke. Here’s another related item:

Dover textbook disclaimer Wrote:

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view.

See? It’s not a scientific theory; it’s an “explanation”, because science and its little theories have no authority. Also, Darwin’s revolutionary idea can be dismissed with the pretentious wave of a hand, since it’s just his “view”, no better than anyone else’s.

For religion - one of the things that actually is subjective and uniformly hollow - to use postmodern tactics against science is beyond ironic. It is nauseating.

Ol’ Bill Dumbski is strangely silent.

Just for the record, I didn’t consider that to be ‘clever beyond measure’.

Yah if only Bill had testified, he coulda cleaned this whole matter up and saved the day!!!! Damned evilutionist conspiring activist judges/system/world/universe/designer.

perhaps this is proof of the evil designer muaahhahahahahah

Sorry to get serious for a moment, but I really don’t see Fuller as a post-modernist, he seems to be closer to Feyerarbend (the “anything goes” guy). The idea that science is a social endeavour is obvious (hey, it’s done by people!), and therefore it does have a sociological aspect. There are serious sociologists studying science: the best case study is on evolution (SegerstÃ¥le’s Defenders of the Truth).

That said, I think his basic point is excessive: he wants to try and engineer a scientific social system that will force novelty onto science, by using the schools to recruit pupils to different views. For me, it makes more sense to focus the curriculum more on critical thinking, than on learning facts, especially if you know that these facts are contraversial.

OK, you we can get back to gloating now.

Bob

In 1998 Steve Fuller spelled out his basic position as follows:

“At any point in its history, science could have gone in many directions. The few paths actually taken have been due to ambient political, economic and cultural factors. There appears to be nothing uniquely ‘rational’, ‘objective’, or ‘truth-oriented’ about the activities our society calls ‘scientific’.”

http://members.tripod.com/~ScienceWars/indoo.html

Steve Fuller Wrote:

At any point in its history, science could have gone in many directions.

Apart from abandoning empiricism, I’d like to know exactly what he means by this (other than just postmodern lip-flapping). If mutually observable phenomena and reproducibly testable experiments don’t count as objective, what does? Should we all become hopeless solipsists and, in our despair, sit in a dark corner banging our heads on the bible, calling it science?

Actually, I’d call Fuller a post-Popperian. The Popperian notion of fallibility leads to some very strange conclusions, a la Lauden. For after all, if any scientific theory at any time can be overthrown, then casts a strange perspective over science history, since science, on this account, has to chose: it can’t be defined in terms of truth, since its particular truth claims are subject to future overthrow (and in fact many of those truth claims have been overthrown), but if it isnt defined in terms of truth, then what distinguishes it from other social activities? In fact, the Popperian view, unthinkingly adopted by scientists philosophizing in their offhours, has major flaws. It doesn’t articulate the salient differences in the growth of scientific theory, instead concentrating on a logic of discovery in which science is simply a series of discoveries, like beads on a string. This is so obviously not what science is that it is hard to believe that it is still a popular view.

AC Roger I think the post-fantasists are still in Sokal denial, Steve Fuller is nothing more than a car salesman who “thought a thought” and found someone to buy it. The sort of guy who along with the other twits failed reality because it was too hard.…. boo hoo hoo. Next trip for him Behe,Dembski,Wells etc will be next big thing for all the delusional.… Guru-ism I can see it now .…..Tarot Cards by the freeway.

Roger asks: If the “Popperian notion of fallibility” means that science isn’t defined in terms of truth, then what distinguishes it from other social activities?

I can’t speak for Popper (obviously), but I suspect he would argue that an obvious distinguishing feature is the social process of scientists methodically criticizing theories; what presumably Popper would call a process of conjectures and refutations, i.e., the postulating of theories and their subsequent experimental testing. Popper’s account of the progress of science may be open to question, but it was definitely seen by him as distinctive of science.

Actually, I’d call Fuller a post-Popperian.

I’d call him a lot worse than that, but not in public.

I wrote this over at “The Guardian” (UK) blog , as I was annoyed that a post-modernist sympathiser was cheering the Judge Jones decision, in blissful ignorance of the actions of this ‘British tenured’ pomo Prof.

Just to make clear what the Judge said about Fuller loopy ideas:

“First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science,which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology.”

Fuller then argued at the trial that to enable a ‘paradigm shift’; Dover students ought to be taught ID to turn out a new generation of ID friendly scientists. - This is the Judges response:

“Science cannot be defined differently for Dover students than it is defined in the scientific community as an affirmative action program, as advocated by Professor Fuller, for a view that has been unable to gain a foothold within the scientific establishment.”

The ID crowd wanted to circumvent normal academic debate by teaching this nonsense as fact to a group of high school kids.

I find Post-modernist thinkers of his type to be every bit as toxic to science as the ID crowd, and at least they have the excuse that they think they are following god’s will.

- since he’s American by birth would you like to take him back? he might come in handy in Kansas???

Fuller enlightens us with some post-trial wisdom in the Washington Post:

Steve Fuller, a philosopher of science at the University of Warwick in England, whose politics tend to the left, said he worries that Jones’s decision will drive an intriguing if still half-formed challenge to Darwinian theory out of the academy and into the theology schools. “The judge’s ruling really puts the burden on the intelligent-design guys,” Fuller said. “The judge’s ruling that the theory is theology could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

He nevers explains why he believes that half-baked theology belongs in the academy.

“The judge’s ruling really puts the burden on the intelligent-design guys,” Fuller said. “The judge’s ruling that the theory is theology could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Quite a prophet, that judge. He lives in the present and can predict the past!

The pomo idiot thinks that everthing that people do is ‘just made up’ anyway - so the IDiots, denied a bright future of ‘making up’ some science, will now be reduced to ‘making up’ some theology. Its what these fools call a paradigm shift. …and Left-wing my arse

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Brauer published on December 20, 2005 2:22 PM.

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