Boy, they *really* don’t get it

| 46 Comments | 4 TrackBacks

I’ve got about 30 minutes to kill, so I might as well give some general thoughts on the IDists’ reactions to the cataclysmic Dover decision.

First: They don’t get it. At all. One would think that this kind of decision – coming from a Lutheran Republican judge appointed by George Bush (that’s George W. Bush, mind you), who, for six weeks watched exactly the kind of “Darwin[ists] on Trial” case that the IDists have been fantasizing about for years – would at least give the IDists a bit of pause. Perhaps some of those scientific, philosophical, and legal arguments – all of them tried out extensively by the Thomas More Law Center – weren’t quite as convincing as the Discovery Institute had been putting on. No, instead, all we have seen is vituperation (“activist”, “biased”, and, presumably worst, “Darwinist”) directed at a judge who on any other day would be considered a model conservative.

I’m pretty convinced that if another court case were held tomorrow, the ID side would try all of the same arguments over again. Behe would get up there and brazenly assert that scientists were baffled at the evolutionary origin of irreducibly complex systems, and again we would stack up the articles and books on the evolution of the immune system on his podium in front of him. Again, they would repeat the quarter-baked argument that evolution can’t produce new genetic information, and again we would show the judge the peer-reviewed research articles showing how new genes come about. Again they would assert gaps in the fossil record, and again a paleontologist would show the judge – show the judge, right there in court – a bunch of transitional fossils that have been discovered in the last decade or so. They would claim that evolutionists make the contradictory claims that ID is both falsified and unfalsifiable, and again we would point out that evolution is testable, and the ID movement’s claims against evolution have been tested and failed – but that the only positive argument they’ve got, “purposeful arrangement of parts”, is untestable without some model of the purposeful agent and his purposes. Again, they would recite their fake history of their movement, ignoring the fact that all of the ID arguments were originally “creation science” arguments, and again we would show the judge the real history, the transitional forms (this time we’d make sure “cdesign proponentsists” made it onto the judge’s computer screen during the trial), and the identity in tactics and argumentation between the two movements. And again, the judge would learn that the ID claims are simply thin soundbites that fall apart upon detailed examination, whereas the plaintiffs case is based on sound fundamentals – peer-reviewed science, well-documented history, coherant philosophy, and above all pragmatic considerations for what constitutes good science and good science education – and again, we would get an overwhelming ruling.

Second: It is clear that many of the judge’s critics, even those with law backgrounds, do not realize that every point in the judge’s opinion – the scientific debunking of Behe’s irreducible complexity, the philosophy of science, the theological history, etc. – was argued and fought for at trial. The judge heard every claim and every cross-examination point. Every single tired argument that the ID fans are repeating after the decision was brought up by TMLC and its witnesses and debunked in detail before the judge, during the bench trial. Anyone wishing to do a serious rebuttal of the judge’s opinion has to look at his citations to the record – which is all online, except exhibits – and rebut the record he based his decision on.

Finally, the ID movement has no one but themselves to blame for this decision. If you don’t want damaging court decisions, don’t make the very first book systematically using the term “intelligent design” a 9th grade biology textbook!!! Don’t publish, and then distribute widely, law review articles confidently declaring the intellectual soundess of ID, and spinning rosy legal scenarios where consitutional difficulties evaporate. Whatever you do, don’t send your propaganda videos to school board members who might actually take them to heart! In fact, if the ID movement were intellectually serious, they would withdraw completely from interfering with public education, realizing that introductory science classes simply have to educate students in the basics of accepted science, and are not the right places to try getting recruits for fringe science. They would stop trying to make their case in the media, and instead take the only legitimate route to academic respectability – winning the scientific battle, in the scientific community. IDists have made much of comparing ID to the Big Bang model – but did Big Bang proponents kick off their model in a high school textbook? Did they go around the country mucking with kiddies science standards to promote their view? Did they ever lobby legislators? I don’t think so.

4 TrackBacks

Matzke on ID Reaction to Dover from Dispatches from the Culture Wars on December 22, 2005 12:59 PM

Nick Matzke has a really well written post at PT about the reactions of ID advocates to the judge's ruling. It's good enough that I would say if you only read one article on the Dover outcome from our side,... Read More

They don’t get it. At all. One would think that this kind of decision — coming from a Lutheran Republican judge appointed by George Bush (that’s George W. Bush, mind you), who, for six weeks watched exactly the kind of “Darwin[ists] on Trial... Read More

You know the Intelligent Design Movement is in a bad way when Senator Rick Santorum is running away from it like Brave Sir Robin in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and when — put down your drinks —... Read More

Of course the religious right in the USA are furious about this decision, but the fact is that intelligent design/creationism is simply not science by any stretch of the word. Sure, I believe that God created the universe and allowed it to evolve indep... Read More

46 Comments

Beautifully articulated.

I don’t know what has bothered me more in the last 6 months:

- the sheer ignorance of prominent people and their willingness to write in public forums without having done the research on the issue (talk about irresponsible-this does nothing to educate the public)

or

-the outright lies some folks tell to protect their unsupported claims

Thanks, Panda’s Thumb and all of you knowlegeable, thoughtful and persistent posters. I have learned more about these topics in the last 6 months than I have learned in 20 years. The references to scholarly works, the links to scientific journals, the books that have been mentioned that I have now read or plan to read, all have helped me in my own growth as an educator. Checking sources and learning to be skeptical of every claim is part of the process. Isn’t the internet great??

Happy Holidays to all of you. Keep up the good work!

There was a DI op-ed in the Detroit Free Press this morning moaning about how the judge had failed to note the religious content of naturalistic evolution.

His proof? Several well known people, e.g. Dawkins, had said naturalistic evolution had led them to either disbelieve in God, or find organized religion toxic.

The completely transparent fallacy is that what evolution has to say about God, and what people conclude on their own, are two entirely different things.

After all, it would be very inflammatory of me to say that because some Christians are anti-Judaic, the New Testament requires Christians to be so. (ignoring for the moment that the correlation between the two just might exist.

In order to make a judgment about evolution’s religious content, I need to assess precisely what evolution says, not what some cherry-picked roster has to say. Just as I would have to do for the New Testamant and anti-Judaism.

But that sort of thing is no surprise to anyone here. ID/Creationists employ theological ethics: any sin is OK so long as it is done for the greater glory of God.

What is more crippling to them, though, is that they actively abjure any knowledge about their opponent. They go into a court case armed only with their preconceptions, and evolutionists go in with encyclopedic knowledge of ID/Creationism.

Granted, the latter task is far easier, as the ID/Creationist oeuvre is both narrow and shallow.

They would claim that evolutionists say that ID is both unfalsifiable and unfalsified, and again we would point out that evolution is testable, and the ID movement’s claims against evolution have been tested and failed — but that the only positive argument they’ve got, “purposeful arrangement of parts”, is untestable without some model of the purposeful agent and his purposes.

I do not agree that PAP is a positive argument. It is phrased to appear as one, but when you scrape away the pap to the underlying logic, it is an argument from ignorance, since it claims that evolution (i.e. natural selection) cannot explain the apparent purposeful arrangement.

Fancifying the rhetoric does not change the underlying logic.

You can bet that the Republican party will use this decision to argue that commie liberal atheists judges are taking over the judiciary. This issue will probably be one of the biggest in the next election campaign. They dont need valid arguments. They dont need a real theory. This is more about political science than biology. A loss in court will be used to gain victory at the polls. Face it, most americans are completely ignorant of the issue. And with the help of the press they continue to think there actually IS some sort of controversy over evolution in the scientific community.

As a legal issue, the loss in Dover is nothing. They can and will try again and again and again. As a political issue, ID just might give the christian right an edge in 2006 elections. Propaganda can be made from defeat just as easily as victory.

I think #64084 misses the point of the quote. Certain *specific* models of PAP are indeed testable and falsifiable. For example, if you hypothesized that the Designer was a cosmic programmer and the “inactive” DNA in genomes was actually documentation (a la comments embedded in software source code), you could try to decipher said documentation, and if you succeeded, try to make an argument that the patterns in the inactive DNA can be better explained by revisions to this documentation than by the more naturalistic evolutionary processes of mutation, natural selection, and so on. THEN you’d have a viable and falsifiable model of Intelligent Design.

Nice, concise, and scientific– if only there were some data to support the hypothesis. I know of none in this case, but folks who want to make a scientific case for ID can try to find some, or find some other testable model for which they *can* find supporting data.

I have read lots of the letters-to-the-editor type reactions to this decision (on another thread), and I’m struck by the consistent failure of the pro-ID people to mention science or facts. They’re not omitting any such mention because the science and the facts don’t support them, mind you. They omit them because these matters are irrelevant! The issue here is one of getting God’s Truth preached in high school science classes. If you desire this, you are a True Christian. If you do not, you are anti-God. Science and facts simply don’t matter. They are not what the issue is about in the minds of the ID proponents.

Judge Jones tried the case based on the scientific merits, and naturally found that ID had no merits. But a Scalia could easily have tried the case based on the religious and social merits of their faith, which are manifestly enormous and undeniably God’s Will.

So the accusation of “doesn’t get it” works both ways. From Nick’s view, the ID folks just don’t get that their faith isn’t based on or accessible to science. But by all indications, they don’t much care about that. From their view, Nick doesn’t get that this case isn’t about science, it’s about tne moral fabric of the nation. So hold this same case tomorrow, put Scalia on the bench, and watch.

So it goes. Aristotle on handling this reality of human nature:

“Rhetoric is useful because the true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites, so that, if decisions are improperly made, they must owe their defeat to their own advocates; which is reprehensible. Further, in dealing with certain persons, even if we possessed the most accurate scientific knowledge, we should not find it easy to persuade them by the employment of such knowledge. For scientific discourse is concerned with instruction, but in the case of such persons instruction is impossible. — Aristotle, Art of Rhetoric, Book 1

I dare say he’d be proud of you, Nick.

I kind of agree with MrMalo. I think some of the smarter ID proponents (not the TMLC, or Luskin) realise what this decision means and are putting up a bit of a front to encourage their supporters. It’s evident in the way they word their outraged posts, and in Dembski’s comment that the ID movement needs to work on developing the science of ID for a bit before pushing for it to be taught in schools. Of course he has no intention of doing so, because there is no science and he knows it. What he (and I suspect most canny ID proponents) intend to do is wait for the religious right to succeed in dismembering the establishement clause. Would we have won Dover on anything but a first amendment argument? I’m not sure - it may not be illegal to teach lies.

Re: Comment #64096 Posted by Flint on December 22, 2005

“But a Scalia could easily have tried the case based on the religious and social merits of their faith”

Nope. Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and probably Roberts will try a similar case, I’m guessing Cobb, directly on whether teaching creationism in public school science classes, regardless of the religious purpose, constitutes the state imposing a religion. They will take the presence of good factual evolution education making up the bulk of the class time as evidence that the establishment clause has not been violated, and will resist to the death using the Lemon test.

“Darwin[ists] on Trial”

Um, wasn’t it the IDists on trial? They were the defendants.

There’s another shoe that could drop. Does anybody remember Richard Nixon’s “War on Cancer.” Based on the premise that by throwing National Institutes of Health money at it, what the Manhattan Project did for nuclear weapons could be done for a cancer cure, too. The result was the re-direction of research dollars to cancer research projects that were frequently of dubious merit, all at the expense of more valuable bio-medical research.

What if a conservative Congress, responding to a Conservative electorate, decided that all that ID (or whatever it’s resurrected as) only needs Federal research funding to established its legitimacy? After all, the everlasting souls of constituents are at stake here.

Flint,

I think you’re spot on. The ID/creationist side doesn’t care about the science one wit. They’re fighting for their *religious* beliefs because their religious leaders told them science threatens their religion.

Here are some words that I think describe my feelings about the above position on religion:

What angers me greatly is the open invitation to deceit and lying in order to promote Christianity that is an integral part of the ID movement.

A large part of my personal belief in God centers on the concept of God as both truth and light — in the broadest way possible. That cuts a lot of ways. Among them is a confidence that my faith isn’t a paper wall that I am going to punch through accidentally if I press to hard. I’ve long had a running joke — “If God had meant man to think, he would have given him a brain”.

To lie in order to bring people to God strikes me as fundamentally wrong — even fundamentally evil. How can you bring people honestly closer to the ultimate truth and light by lying? - Adam —————————————————

It seems to me that a religion that can only recruit followers via lies and deceit is the epitome of satanic worship.

If your religion is this feeble, it’s teachings so empty of meaning that you must *lie* and deceive to convince people to practice it, then perhaps it doesn’t deserve followers and perhaps you should shop for another religion/belief. - Me —————————————————

Then I met some real evangelical Christians and got a taste of Christian apologetics. Now I am absolutely certain there is no God. What I saw was not only intellectually ridiculous but also spiritually repulsive. You see, I was told that God is about love, salvation, truth, and transcendence while the devil is the “God of lies.” Now here was a person who claimed to be “saved” by that God reciting arguments from books by others who claim to be saved… and they were all *lies*. Not just lies in some abstract philosophical sense, but lies in the sense that I had personally seen, learned, and even done things that proved them to be wrong.

Even worse, the authors of many of these lies were Christian authors with Ph.D.’s in the relevant fields. They *knew* better. I find it hard to believe that these guys do not know that they are lying. But, I suppose maybe I’m underestimating the power of ideologically induced blindness.

So here they were. Supposedly “saved,” and consciously lying to me. A group of people led by charismatic leaders trying to do anything they could to recruit members… - Jim Randall ————————————————–

“Christ died to take away our sins, not our mind.”

I would think that the quest of truth and knowledge is our obligation as Christians. Lying is never okay. Bringing people to the faith with lies is never okay. Controlling people through ignorance and fear is never okay. Forcing one’s views on others is never okay. If it weren’t for the open-minded, searching, curious and accepting nature of my local church community, I would have given up on religion a long time ago, and not because I am interested in learning science, but because of the judgmental, hateful, ignorant ranting of some professed “Christians” around me. - KL

off topic but since itelligent design creationism has now been foudn to be religious and the Pandas and People textbook has been proven to be garbage, shouldn’t any schools that provide Pandas and People be required to put a sticker on that book that indicateds “this book is only an unscientific threory grounded in creationism”?

Unscientific conjecture dammit! “Theory” is an indicator of respect for a hypothesis.

Mr.Malo Wrote:

You can bet that the Republican party will use this decision to argue that commie liberal atheists judges are taking over the judiciary.

Oh, I doubt it. The judge was appointed by the current president, the best friend the religious right ever had in the White House.

What if a conservative Congress, responding to a Conservative electorate, decided that all that ID (or whatever it’s resurrected as) only needs Federal research funding to established its legitimacy?

Also not likely. The Templeton Foundation already offered to throw money at ID, but unfortunately there were no IDeas to fund. If Congress wanted to prove what a vacuous concept ID is, they could find no better way to do it than to provide unlimited resources. (Provided, of course, that they stipulate the money actually be spent on research, not PR, lobbying, and evangelizing.)

Mr. Krall,

First, those Members of Congress in charge of getting research money allocated have solid ties to real researchers. The poobahs and stars from NIH, NSF, Energy and other research agencies regularly tell them where the money is needed. Oh, occasionally there is some straying from the good hunting groungs – as a sop to wackoes of all stripes, there is an “alternative medicine” testing program. But it is conducted with real research standards – and who could have guessed? – each alternative medication that is tested turns out not to be very effective.

And that tails directly to the second point: Federal research money is really somewhat scarce. There is more demand for money than there is money. And, after a few goofs in cancer research and other areas, Congress has written into the law rather high standards for research proposals. In short, one cannot tell lies on one’s application for money. It’s a crime to do so. ID researchers would have to seriously edit their vita and claims for past publications and past research to stay legal.

Incidentally, there is no bar to ID researchers getting federal funds now. I think they don’t because it’s more work to clean up their resumes to stay legal than it would be worth to them. But that’s the cynic in me speaking. Some of the poobahs at the publisher of the Pandas book, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, have worked federal research before. Oddly, they can’t seem to get it together to ask for federal research money now, however. There’s nothing holding them back but themselves. What would you conclude?

I would like to offer a couple comments to MrMalo regarding the dangers of over-generalization. I am a Republican, and I am absolutely outraged that the fundamentalist religious-right is attempting to hijack the Republican party. There are many of us who know how to use our God-given brains and think for ourselves. I have strong faith, but I also have an even stronger respect for science and valid scientific research. Believe me, it may not be reported as much, but there are serious divisions between traditional limited-government Republicans and the fanatical right-wing evangelicals.

I think that most conservative judges take their positions very seriously and have a profound respect for not just the law and Constitution, but also for legal precedence. I think that Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts are all Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church has come out publicly that intelligent design should be taught in theology classes and not science classes.

On a final note - I absolutely love this web site! It is helping me amass the necessary knowledge that I need to arm myself with to address this issue in Indiana. Following the Dover victory, the Indianapolis Star printed a statement from State Representative Bruce Borders (R-unfortunately), who said that next year, he and several other like-minded state legislators are planning on introducing legislation mandating that ID be incorporated into the State of Indiana science standards. He claims that the current biology textbooks are full of lies and half-truths, and that Indiana school children deserve to be taught the full truth. Fortunately, our local newspaper here in Evansville today published a great editorial taking these legislators to task. I have already written letters to the editor, and plan on continually writing my local state legislator to voice my objections to teaching religious supernatural-ism in the science classrooms.

Keep up the good work! I’ll be checking back often. Your web site may want to keep everyone up to date on what happens here in Indiana if this proposed legislation goes forward. Finally, I want to issue a plea to all Hoosiers - don’t wait! Start writing to your State Legislators now! Bruce Borders and his fellow fundamentalists must be stopped.

Mr.Malo wrote:

You can bet that the Republican party will use this decision to argue that commie liberal atheists judges are taking over the judiciary.

Oh, I doubt it. The judge was appointed by the current president, the best friend the religious right ever had in the White House.

I don’t doubt it. The fact that he was appointed by W will simply be omitted and the activism will be pounded so hard and often that any voice saying “but…” will be drowned out.

Tony: You point out the reality that not all Republicans are Christian Fundamentalists. I send you all my hopes and best wishes that you and those like you can take your party back from those that have hijacked it. Collectively, we all walk on treacherous ground. Speaking for only for myself, I *know* that I should not assume that all Republicans are like the ID/Creationist Fundamentalists. I also know that, until the Republican Party is reclaimed by those who are not hell bent on enforcing their view of spirituality down my thoat, I have no choice but to fight that party with all my heart and soul. I can only trust that the Republicans that those in power call the RINOs (“Republicans in Name Only”) know in their hearts that the fight is not about them, but about freedom of religion, freedom of science, and freedom of truth.

A number of other posts have also pointed out that the Dover decision does not end the fight; it merely allows us to continue the fight in a stronger position than before. *Real* change that gets to the core of the rot will have to come from *within*. Christianity will have to be reformed by Christians willing to speak about the lies and misrepresentations. Conservativism will have to be reformed by conservatives.

PT and contributors.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do. I appreciate your commentary and access to same. Keep charging!

Steve,

The problem about fighting this rot from within is that by *their* definition, if you disagree you are not one of them.

They believe ignorance is bliss, faith/trust is devine, and that questioning or seeking answers is the work of the devil.

*sigh*

Speaking of taking the party back from within, I thought this post, “Moderate Republicans Form Alliance” from Red State Rabble was refreshing. Money quote:

“First on the must-do list for the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority,” writes John Milburn of the Associated Press, “is replacing those on the State Board of Education who want to treat evolution as flawed science.

To comment 64096, the one about the “letters-to-the-editor type reactions,” I had a similar experience with some coworkers. I asked them what they thought about the decision, and they made no pretense about it being about science. They came right out and said they didn’t like the decision because it was “discriminating against Christianity.” I raised the point that it was about having it taught in a science class, and it didn’t change their opinion at all. To them, science is exactly the place to teach it, since it has to do with the origins of the Earth. Kind of a scary attitude, but it’s the way I think a lot of people feel about it.

I had a similar experience with some coworkers…They came right out and said they didn’t like the decision because it was “discriminating against Christianity.”

Just out of curiosity, can you share with us what kind of work you’re doing, and what part of the country you live in?

After reading all 139 pages of the decision, one thing struck me the most. The most damning evidence against the IDM were the words and documnents of the leaders of the IDM themselves. Behe’s admission of the supernatural, Dembski and Johnson’s redefining of science, the Wedge document, and the obvious creationist roots were hung around their collective necks like a 1000lb albatros. Lets not forget the bafoons running the Dover School board, Bosnell and Buckingham. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the DI war room. They HAD to know this was a poor case to start and that ID as a scientific theory wasn’t ready for this fight. I dunno, maybe they see it as a win/win proposition. Either they get ID into the classroom (unlikely) or they get to play martyr to anti-christian aetheists and an activist judge. In any event, what’s clear is the decision was a no-brainer for Judge Jones and the ONLY way ID is going to survive a constititutional challenge is to undo the Lemon Test (which will require a SCOTUS decision).

Matt

I don’t doubt it. The fact that he was appointed by W will simply be omitted and the activism will be pounded so hard and often that any voice saying “but…” will be drowned out.

Exactly. For a crystal clear precedent, last spring when the Terri Schiavo business was playing itself out, the Christian Right was continually screaming about liberal activist judges ‘letting Terri die’. When it was pointed out that virtually every judge who let them down was in fact a Republican (and there were several), many of them appointed by Bush2 himself, they simply pretended not to hear. I think these people prefer a good myth over the truth any day.

Some of the nuttier people at the time who did realize that a GOP judge wasn’t an assurance for legislating Christian Reconstructionism proposed forcibly kicking out the offending judges (they were a little vague on this, tho it sounded like a torches-and-pitchforks scenario) and having people like Frist or DeLay or Dobson directly appointing judges. That’s so flamboyantly illegal it’s not even worth talking about, but it’s a revealing glimpse into how these people think when they’re really frustrated.

You can bet that the Republican party will use this decision to argue that commie liberal atheists judges are taking over the judiciary.

Let ‘em. (shrug) People care far more about body bags coming home from Iraq than they do about keeping Jaysus in biology classrooms.

And given Dubya’s, uh, approval ratings, I think the Dems can run a dead goat against the Repub’s and win pretty handily.

I had a similar experience with some coworkers…They came right out and said they didn’t like the decision because it was “discriminating against Christianity.”

Just out of curiosity, can you share with us what kind of work you’re doing, and what part of the country you live in?

I’m an engineer, the coworkers were some of the guys from out in the shop, and we’re in Texas. They’re good guys, otherwise, but it’s hard to imagine how ingrained these attitudes are down here.

Hi. First, thanks for tracking back to my comments on the decision, though honestly I don’t know why you did. I haven’t done any of the things you suggest in this post. I read a fair amount of the record in the case and also read the decision carefully. In my view, the judge inappropriately tried to decide what “science” means. It’s curious to me that you seem to think a federal district court is the appropriate place to make a determination like that. (If you’re assuming I support the Dover board’s actions or any sort of litigation strategy on the ID side, I don’t). In my view, the judge also handled the issue of what constitutes “science” badly. There is no real discussion of folks like Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Polanyi, or the like. This opinion isn’t a careful, thoughtful discussion of the history and nature of science; it’s a diatribe.

Before you accuse me of being one of those Texas fundies who thinks the opinion “discriminates against Christianity,” I think the court properly decided the establishment clause issue. (I think the Supreme Court’s establishment clause jurisprudence is a God-awful mess, but for now it is what it is.) He did not, however, have to launch an angry and largely ill-informed assault into the interesting and difficult questions of the philosophy of science in order to reach the establishment clause issue.

dopderbeck Wrote:

In my view, the judge inappropriately tried to decide what “science” means.

Not really. He faced a simpler task: is ID science, or not? Defense experts Behe and Fuller both, under cross-examination, testified that given the commonly accepted definition of science among scientists, ID is not science. That science would have to accept supernatural explanations in order for ID to qualify as science. In Behe’s case, he testified that such an expanded definition of science would be broad enough to include astrology.

There is no debate among philosophers of science as to the fact that science is restricted to naturalistic explanations of observable phenomena. That’s all the judge needs to rule that ID is not science.

dopderbeck wrote:

He did not, however, have to launch an angry and largely ill-informed assault into the interesting and difficult questions of the philosophy of science in order to reach the establishment clause issue.

Perhaps you haven’t been following all this as closely as you think you have. First of all, both parties submitted the issue of whether ID constitutes science to the court. Had the case actually been appealed, the court could conceivably have been reversed on the Establishment Clause issue, but the (correct, as you seem to admit) result could still have been upheld on the basis of ID’s scientific invalidity. Court’s have to the issues that are brought before them; they don’t always have the luxury of ducking the hard questions.

Second, the issue wasn’t about the “philosophy” of science, as you seem to think, it’s whether ID has ever done any science worth placing alongside evolution in the classroom. You know, as in generating hypotheses to explain the evidence and observations that are so well-explained by evolution, then demonstrating with research and experiment that they have a model that can explain the observations and evidence better than ToE can, and then publishing all that work in peer-reviewed journals so that other working scientists–not “philosophers” like the laughable Steven Fuller–can get a look at it.

Third, as Timothy Sandefur has overwhelmingly demonstrated in several related posts today–complete with links to the plethora of cases on point–courts are required to decide questions of this kind all the time, and generally do a pretty fair job of it too. Of course, like working scientists, courts also don’t often have the luxury of endlessly pondering the deep philosophical meaning of things–they have to make decisions in a limited timeframe based on the best evidence actually available. Like anyone who actually has to work for a living, the courts get fairly competent at what they do, philosophical quibbles notwithstanding.

There is no debate among philosophers of science as to the fact that science is restricted to naturalistic explanations of observable phenomena. That’s all the judge needs to rule that ID is not science.

Right.

It was, after all, a court decision, not a textbook on the philosophy of science.

Merry Kitzmiller, everyone!

Nick Matzke Wrote:

They would claim that evolutionists say that ID is both unfalsifiable and unfalsified …

Rather, “unfalsifiable and falsified.”

Rather, “unfalsifiable and falsified.”

Thanks, I’m fixing it. Darned subconscious self-consistency…

dopderbeck,

First, judges decide what science is every day. They have to do this every time they hear cases involving forensics, medical malpractice, environmental issues, epidemiology cases (e.g. radiation/cancer), DNA typing, etc. They usually manage to do this without bothering with philosophers of science at all. Why should the judge reserve judgement here, especially after both sides asked him to rule on the issue?

Second, the judge heard a great deal of expert testimony from both sides on the definition of science. In fact, each side specifically brought a philosopher of science to talk about just this, as well as several scientists and a number of exhibits. As it turned out, the defense expert, Steve Fuller, ended up scoring more points for the plaintiffs than for his own team. But he actually did bring up Kuhn quite a bit, to no avail.

dopderbeck

“In my view, the judge also handled the issue of what constitutes “science” badly. There is no real discussion of folks like Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Polanyi, or the like. This opinion isn’t a careful, thoughtful discussion of the history and nature of science…”

It seemed thoughtful to me. The discussion on the history and nature of creationist sleazeballs is really fantastic.

By the way, David, do you even know how to pronounce “Lakatos”?

dopderbeck,

Speaking of reading the record before second-guessing the judge, the Defense tried exactly your “but what about Newton’s religious work” argument when they cross-examined Pennock. But Pennock hit it out of the park:

Q. Isn’t it true in his day Newton was thought to have departed from the law of naturalism?

A. As I said, this is something where Newton himself is a transitional figure, and I don’t know if something specific in that day where there was a discussion with regard to that. Newton himself was very straightforward that in his rules of reasoning he says we shouldn’t introduce superfluous causes. He talks about explaining things in terms of philosophy by which he means natural philosophy or what he calls now science rather than bringing in the divine. So with regard to his scientific work we now take his scientific work, I don’t think there’s a departure from methodological naturalism.

Bam!

Ditto for your other claims, especially about Behe’s irreducible complexity, which was dissected in detail at trial, probably in more detail than anywhere else except PT and Talk.Origins. The judge understood IC perfectly, and explained the problems with the claim about why IC couldn’t evolve. If you’re going to rebut the judge’s conclusions there, you’ve got a tremendous amount of testimony and exhibits on exaptation to deal with, as well as scientific literature contradicting Behe’s claims about the blood-clotting cascade, the documentation of Behe’s own self-contradictory claims in defining the blood-clotting system, and 50-some articles on the evolution of the immune system that were introduced into evidence, which by the way Behe testified he had not read.

To them, science is exactly the place to teach it, since it has to do with the origins of the Earth. Kind of a scary attitude, but it’s the way I think a lot of people feel about it.

then their feelings are misplaced. You’d be doing them a favor to educate them on why that is, and why “christianity” certainly WASN’T on trial here.

He did not, however, have to launch an angry and largely ill-informed assault into the interesting and difficult questions of the philosophy of science in order to reach the establishment clause issue.

he didn’t. he launched an angry and WELL informed assault (just read the damn ruling, would ya?) on the dishonesty and charlatinism exhibited by the defense in this case.

that’s why the prosecutor is currently examining whether to pursue perjury charges.

don’t comment on it until you read the thing; why rely on some ignoramuses blather when you can see the judges very clear evidence for his ruling yourself.

While I’m fisking dopderbeck, I might as well comment on this:

d. He misrepresents key ID arguments by stating that they are only negative arguments against evolution rather than positive evidence for design. Once again, this is flat wrong. The irreducible complexity argument, for example, doesn’t only state that an IC system can’t have evolved and thus must be designed. It states that an inference of design can be drawn if there is a system is irreducibly complex, there is a statistical probability that the system could not have been assembled merely by chance, and there are no reasonable explanations for the system’s development other than design. It is true that this analysis includes negative arguments against other possibilities for the system’s appearance, including evolution, but every scientific claim proceeds by discounting alternative explanations.

The logic of this paragraph is as follows:

a. Jones is flat wrong to say that key arguments for ID are just negative arguments against evolution, e.g. an IC system can’t have evolved and thus must be designed.

b. IC actually states that the statistcal improbability of IC systems means they could not have been assembled by chance, and there are no reasonable explanations other than design.

c. Therefore, it’s true that this analysis includes negative arguments against evolution, but every scientific claim proceeds that way.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

(Dude! You just contradicted yourself and agreed that Judge Jones actually had it right!)

Dopderbeck, you said: “In my view, the judge inappropriately tried to decide what “science” means”. Actually the definition of science to be used in the trial was accepted by both the legal teams - i.e. by both the plaintiffs and the defence. This is the section from the ruling that shows that (pages 65 to 66, citations ommitted):

As the National Academy of Sciences (hereinafter “NAS”) was recognized by experts for both parties as the “most prestigious” scientific association in this country, we will accordingly cite to its opinion where appropriate. NAS is in agreement that science is limited to empirical, observable and ultimately testable data:

“Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are restricted to those that can be inferred from the confirmable data — the results obtained through observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation. Explanations that cannot be based upon empirical evidence are not part of science.”

The Judge was NOT as you claim “inappropriately trying to decide what science means” he was using the definition of science from what both parties recognise as the “most prestigious scientific association” in the US.

Your view is incorrect.

I’ve been thinking about the merits of the ‘liar!’ debate tactic. It is true that the ID supporters lie repeatedly. But I am not sure that trying to (in the debate context) saying so is useful. Rather, simply state the evidence for the contrary position. The trade off is between the inability of most people to draw correct inferences from what they already believe vs. the rhetorical problem of “mental shields” going up when “their guy” is called a liar.

Incidentally, I recall that Festinger and his school have shown that we can believe contradictions if sufficiently “divided”, so …

Has anyone seen in any of the recent exchanges between ID proponents and the rest of us one clear cut testable and falsifiable hypothesis or a clearly defined workable experiment that would, if carried out, act to verify or refute ID. Lets not go into Behe’s outrageous 10,000 generation bacterial experiment in which he suggests that a non motile bacterium could be “transformed” into a motile one.

Has anyone seen in any of the recent exchanges …

not in any recent, nor in any past exchanges, no matter how far back you go (even a hundred years or more).

If you want more on the wisdom of dopderbeck, check out

http://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/facu[…]r_intel.html

This is part 1 of Albert Alschuler’s silly take on Jones’ decision.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on December 22, 2005 10:57 AM.

Panderichthys rhombolepis was the previous entry in this blog.

Chiquitas Update is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter