Saletan on ID, Take 4.

| 189 Comments

William Saletan of Slate writes occasionally about ID, and usually has some good insights. Here’s his latest:

Fantasy Island

The money shot:

This, more than monkey ancestors, is what alarms creationists. Larson lists the social ills they blame on the teaching of evolution: abortion, eugenics, homosexuality, effeminacy, divorce, communism, long hair. He’s been told that Phillip Johnson, the founder of the intelligent design movement, brought up cross-dressing three times in his most recent book. “And those are important issues,” Larson adds, trying to sound even-handed, but the journalists laugh. “It is important,” a colleague next to me whispers. “There’s a lot of shopping involved. You have to buy for two.”

Cross-dressing? I was taught all those other things in my homo-abortion evolution classes, including the fact that evolution leads inexorably to both socialism and laissez-faire capitalism at the same time, but I was never taught how to cross-dress. How could my home state of South Carolina ever have received an “A” while leaving out the cross-dressing?

Anyway, this is the fourth article that Saletan has written on ID in the last few years. Here are the earlier ones in chronological order:

Unintelligible Redesign

What Matters in Kansas

Grow Some Testables

I didn’t care much for the second one, but he makes up for it with the third one.

189 Comments

Does anyone have any hard scientific data on the link between the teaching of evolution and these various social trends? I’m about to teach a course on evolution and creationism, and I’d love to have some solid findings that I could point to about this link (or, I suspect, the lack thereof).

B. Spitzer asked

Does anyone have any hard scientific data on the link between the teaching of evolution and these various social trends? I’m about to teach a course on evolution and creationism, and I’d love to have some solid findings that I could point to about this link (or, I suspect, the lack thereof).

Abortion data by states. R^2 for the linear correlation between the overall science score % in the Fordham report and abortions/1000 live births is 0.11. Removing two outliers on the abortion rate data (CA and NY), R^2 drops to 0.03.

That is a purely quick and dirty look that I wouldn’t defend very far. It depends on numerous unevaluated assumptions (that the new science scores are representative of past science scores, that the data are from comparable periods, that there are no lags between the two variables – e.g., teaching high school kids science increases/decreases abortions N years later in their lives – and so on). And since the Evo scores (0-3) are pretty strongly related to the overall science score percentages, the same general remarks apply to Evo scores. In any case, there is no strong or obvious relationship in the easily available data.

RBH

Blame all the world’s ills on evolution. This is a standard tactic with the Intelligent Design/Creationist (IDC) movement. However, they never explain all of the ills that came before Darwin. If you consider monotheists alone, you find a long history of believers warring among themselves and killing each other in the name of their One True Intelligent Designer.

Maybe the problem is with monotheism. The development of monotheism put in place a religious/political hierarchy that provided a justification for controlling and disposing of dissenters. Could it be that this is what the IDC movement is ultimately all about? To return us to the glory days in which they were in charge?

They seem to want their sectarian views to have the imprimatur of science so they can justify the establishment of a theocracy with them at the helm. Then they can eliminate all those forms of critical thinking that draw on the spirit of scientific inquiry.

How better to rule than to have a population of sheep who accept without question everything they are told by their rulers. How much easier to raise a fanatic army of would-be martyrs to conquer infidels and take what the rulers want.

Watching their deceitful tactics for nearly 30 years, I often get the impression that this is really what IDC proponents really want.

Hey, Johnson might be on to us homosexuals here. Origin of the Species was published in 1859, and a decade later, Karl Maria Kertbeny coined the word homosexual. Everything is so obvious now. There were no homosexuals until 1869, just people engaging in sodomy, but when they learned that humans were just overgrowned monkeys, they organized themselves to corrupt western society. Now, if we could only have Marx (another Karl, even! connections?) get an early peak at Darwin’s work before planning out socialism.

Is open sexuality, abortion, homosexuality etc. really a problem?

Genetic testing and abortion have almost eliminated things like Downs syndrome and other detectable genetic diseases. Homosexuality existed during the most religious times, it was just swept under the rug, or into the closet. If teaching evolution encourages such things as abortion and gays coming out of the closet is that wrong?

“Now, if we could only have Marx…get an early peak at Darwin’s work before planning out socialism.”

Actually, I read somewhere that Marx read Darwin’s work, and sent him a copy of Das Kapital (I think) to elicit his response. If memory serves, Marx’s book is still in Darwin’s library at Down House, though someone described the pages as appearing ‘uncut’.

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

Blame all the world’s ills on evolution. This is a standard tactic with the Intelligent Design/Creationist (IDC) movement. However, they never explain all of the ills that came before Darwin. If you consider monotheists alone, you find a long history of believers warring among themselves and killing each other in the name of their One True Intelligent Designer.

Maybe the problem is with monotheism. The development of monotheism put in place a religious/political hierarchy that provided a justification for controlling and disposing of dissenters. Could it be that this is what the IDC movement is ultimately all about? To return us to the glory days in which they were in charge?

Well, I don’t have time to support the link between social ills and Darwinism, but I suspect that societies are healthier when they embrace positive heroes and goals. As soon as people learn to sneer and satirise society’s core values, then that culture is doomed. Christians have committed many atrocities, that is true, but what would you put in its place? Another monotheistic religion like Islam? A liberal secular philosophy that ultimately devolves into moral relativism and rejection of the highest ideals of the West? Are you happy to live in a society where thugs and trollops dominate the popular discourse, where senseless brutality becomes trite, where no man can challenge the most obvious evil, where the government strips the civilised of both property and liberty to finance evil? Where the only solution is to give up and hand our future over to the irresponsible? Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t believe in forcing people to adopt Christianity, but I do think that the Christian philosophy should dominate how we govern and live. We should be proud of our Western heritage, but instead we apologise, grovel and promise to remake ourselves in the image of failed Third World cultures. Well, if these societies are so wonderful, why are they fleeing from themselves? If atheism is so swell, why are so many atheists unhappy? Why are atheist charities relatively scarce, even when accounting for the low number of nonbelievers?

Norman Doering Wrote:

Is open sexuality, abortion, homosexuality etc. really a problem?

Other than it encourages the spread of Aids, teen pregnancy, and foetal murder? Other than its creation of a generation of violent, mentally disturbed latchkey kids who wind up in prison or welfare? The debasement of popular entertainment?

Genetic testing and abortion have almost eliminated things like Downs syndrome and other detectable genetic diseases.

A clear example of the cure being worse than the disease. By the way, where did young mothers get the idea that putting newborns in dumpsters is an acceptable life style choice? America didn’t see much of this pre-Wade.

Yeah and there’s a quote from Marx that fundies just loooove about “Darwin’s Book” (Origins, one presumes) and its influence on his thinking.

The simple fact (alluded to here somewhere in another comment) that evolution somehow provides support for both Communism and unfettered free-market capitalism should raise some questions for those who would view science as some kind of ideology.

Ah, the baseless claims of the ideologue.

I recall reading an account in an early 70’s issue of Ramparts about a woman with an unwanted pregnancy who had the baby in the back of a car; the boyfriend/”father” wrapped it in a towel and then snapped its neck. He later told her that he put the body in concrete and dumped it in a river. How common something like this was back then, I cannot say. People were pretty hush-hush in the good old days, from what I’ve heard, so there could have been all sorts of nasty business. At least if someone puts it in a dumpster it has a chance of being found and surviving, and its out in the open.

Well, I don’t have time to support the link between social ills and Darwinism, but I suspect that societies are healthier when they embrace positive heroes and goals. As soon as people learn to sneer and satirise society’s core values, then that culture is doomed. Christians have committed many atrocities, that is true, but what would you put in its place?

I certainly wouldn’t lie, distort and blame others for my own shortcomings.

In fact, I think societies are healthier when they DON’T deny their own sins. People “sneer” when society’s leaders pay only lip service to their ideals, instead of trying to live up to them.

Dover, PA would be a prime example.

Ghost of Paley Wrote:

Well, I don’t have time to support the link between social ills and Darwinism, but I suspect that societies are healthier when they embrace positive heroes and goals.

That sounds reasonable enough, but what the creationists offer has nothing to do with heroes, it’s all about villains: gays, hippies, single mothers, single women, married women with jobs, and men who dress like women. There’s nothing positive about their philosophy, it’s all about being negative, divisive, and – get this – blaming innocent people for society’s problems. Is it any wonder most people find it nauseating?

By the way, where did young mothers get the idea that putting newborns in dumpsters is an acceptable life style choice? America didn’t see much of this pre-Wade.

Infanticide has been around since time immemorial in every culture on Earth. Our modern Western culture is somewhat of an outlier in considering the practice anathema. By historical standards, infanticide is nearly nonexistent today. And I don’t know where you get the idea that anyone considers it a life-style choice. Last I checked it’s illegal.

Are you happy to live in a society where thugs and trollops dominate the popular discourse, where senseless brutality becomes trite, where no man can challenge the most obvious evil, where the government strips the civilised of both property and liberty to finance evil? Where the only solution is to give up and hand our future over to the irresponsible? Thanks, but no thanks.

This society exists only in your imagination.

Christians have committed many atrocities

I don’t believe in forcing people to adopt Christianity

Fair enough

I do think that the Christian philosophy should dominate how we govern and live.

Man is a social animal. Almost any form of social organisation is preferable to anarchy. It is naive to claim that western societies’ development is purely attributable to “Christianity”.

Steve Reuland makes the point about how the use of scapegoats is a standard ploy of the unscrupulous political movement.

Doesn’t god order a few infanticides in the bible?

I don’t believe in forcing people to adopt Christianity, but I do think that the Christian philosophy should dominate how we govern and live.

A contratiction in one sentence.

It’s a pathetic argument, that claiming a tenuous connection between a scientific theory and a list of societal ills is supposed to invalidate or disprove the actual science. If some loony tunes use evolution as an excuse to kill, torture and maim, that’s supposed to cast doubt on the actual facts?

I don’t believe in forcing people to adopt Christianity, but I do think that the Christian philosophy should dominate how we govern and live.

No one cares what you think. (shrug)

But I’m a bit curious as to why you are bringing up “Christian philosophy” in the first place, since, as IDers never tire of telling us, ID has nothing to do with “Christian philosophy”.

Or are IDers just … well … lying to us when they say that.

Wasn’t it the famous Professor Harold Hill (The Music Man) who made the displacement syllogism memorable? (“Folks, we got trouble, with a capital T, and that rhymes with D, and that stands for Darwin!”)

Comment #62436

Posted by DHR on December 11, 2005 07:20 PM (e) (s)

I don’t believe in forcing people to adopt Christianity, but I do think that the Christian philosophy should dominate how we govern and live.

Funny, but the Taliban started the same way. And what ‘Christian’ philosphy? Because what I see is a lot of hate, control and BS religious practices that should not be, legitimately, practiced by Christians.

Death penalty? Nope. High interest on credit cards? Uh-uh. The narrowing of bankruptcy protection? Definately not. The ever popular Calvinist world view that riches are a blessing from G-d? Not a chance. War? No way. Capitalism? Not from Jesus who was an essene.

Whoo Hoo Haa Haa. What’s the little smily face that shows that I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying?

One FUndy posts and that’s a good thing. It gives us a point to focus our ridicule guns on. C’mon, you know that you don’t respect them.

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Dean that’s a great link. my favorite part:

There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002).

The Ghost of Paley wrote:

…but I suspect that societies are healthier when they embrace positive heroes and goals.

Right, heroes like Darwin and Galileo who stand up to the superstitions of their time. Goals like the goals of the enlightment and the age of reason.

…As soon as people learn to sneer and satirise society’s core values, …

If you think core values have anything to do with sexual repression and believing in superstitions then you wouldn’t know a core value from the holes in your head.

…then that culture is doomed.

And that’s why your culture is doomed and a new culture is rising in its ashes.

…devolves into moral relativism and rejection of the highest ideals of the West?

What would those values be? Sexual repression and superstition?

…Are you happy to live in a society where thugs and trollops dominate the popular discourse, …

No, I don’t like thugs like George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, Ralph Reed and their crowd.

where senseless brutality becomes trite, …

I don’t like the way they’ve legalized torture.

…where no man can challenge the most obvious evil,…

Religion?

…where the government strips the civilised of both property and liberty to finance evil?

The war in Iraq?

Other than it encourages the spread of Aids, teen pregnancy, and foetal murder?

Does it? Do you think current policies of the Bush administration, like denial and abstinance actually work?

Other than its creation of a generation of violent, mentally disturbed latchkey kids who wind up in prison or welfare? The debasement of popular entertainment?

According to the book by economist Steven D. Levitt’s, “Freakonomics” abortion is linked to a lower crime rate.

I suggest that all Christian proselytizers be forced to read the essays at EvilBible. Paradoxically, most Fundies are perfectly okay with God’s atrocities (ie 10th plague), while spewing forth all sorts of crap about pro-life.…

Ghost of Paley: Check out http://www.timesonline.co.uk/articl[…]8944,00.html

Here’s a sampling:

Times of London Wrote:

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study [in the Journal of Religion and Society]and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

It isn’t entirely clear from the evidence that your premise of healthier societies resulting from following your beliefs and goals is correct.

Decloaking for a moment… I’d like to point out that the comments of The Ghost of Paley are actually utterly irrelevant to the discussion of the SCIENCE of evolution/ID. This is the case even if TGoP were correct and that the teaching of evolution leads to these societal ills.

I’d be willing to bet that the behavior of many children who celebrate Christmas is markedly better during the month of December and possibly latter November because of the concern that Santa Claus “knows what you’ve been doing”. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make Santa Claus any more real. Do we really want to continue to lie to our children through adulthood to convince them to behave?

I can sympathize with the concern that society has major problems, that concievably could be tied to the new knowledge that organisms evolve and that the Earth is far older than 6000 years. However, that has no effect on the facts, and even if it were true, then it’s up to society to form a new paradigm to convince our populace to “behave”.

I’ve seen many students in my geology classes at the University and Community College level who have argued that evolution is wrong because to believe in it is to risk personal or societal disaster. What they are really arguing comes down to 2 possibilities:

1. Evolution must be wrong because the implications for society if we know about evolution are horrible, irregardless of the data. 2. We should lie to the public to keep them in line for their own benefit, irregardless of the data.

The first argument is childish, the second Facist. Either one shows a fundamental disconnect with logic and with reality.

Isn’t there a causal link that needs to be explored in greater depth than the teaching of evolution being the impetus for immorality? I think it had something to do with pirates and global warming…

Ghost wrote

Well, I don’t have time to support the link between social ills and Darwinism, but I suspect that societies are healthier when they embrace positive heroes and goals.

I suspect that societies are healthier when they embrace reality and act in the light of it, rather than depending on fantasies to ‘inform’ actions.

RBH

The Ghost of Paley thinks he’s a friend of ID, but on fact he’s their own worst enemy, and precisely the reason ID will never be accepted as real science.

So have at it Ghost, continue dazzle us with your nonsensical rants about the evils of a evolution and the depravity of a God-less society. Just remember that with every diatribe you post, you’re one shovelful of dirt closer to burying ID for good.

Mike Walker wrote:

Just remember that with every diatribe you post, you’re one shovelful of dirt closer to burying ID for good.

Unless, of course, they find a message from God in our junk DNA.

… unless you want to come shopping for frocks of course!!!

Dean Morrison Wrote:

I’m not one to say no to a drink, but you’re not my kind of drinking partner.

Sorry to hear that. My point is still made.

Dean Morrison Wrote:

I am white by the way, and I don’t find the term ‘whitey’ at all offensive, I doubt if you really do either.

Of course it’s offensive. But I’m not easily offended, so don’t worry.

Dean Morrison Wrote:

If you are going to quote white supremacists/nationalists in support of the argument that you have to be religious/christian to be moral this shows: How desperate you are. How ****** ** your brain is. IMHO how deserving of ridicule you are.

By the way, have you seen Derbyshire’s latest? The irony is so bright I think I’ll wear shades.

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.. thought you were going to the bar to mutter into your beer? .. and who the flying f*** is ‘Derbyshire’? - some other racist webcrank you want to quote? Irony? are you determined to conform to the stereotype that Americans don’t understand the meaning of the word?

Actually, I responded to Lenny in another thread

Actually, you didn’t. I still remain as unenlightened as ever as to (1) what the designer did, (2) what mechanisms it used to do whatever the heck you think it did, (3) where we can see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well … anything, and (4) how we can test any of this using the scientific method.

Any time you’re ready to asnwer those simple questions for me, let me know, OK?

And TRY to do a better job of it than “something intelligent, uh, did something intelligent”.

Actually, you didn’t. I still remain as unenlightened as ever as to (1) what the designer did, (2) what mechanisms it used to do whatever the heck you think it did, (3) where we can see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well … anything, and (4) how we can test any of this using the scientific method. Any time you’re ready to asnwer those simple questions for me, let me know, OK?

If these creationists DID answer it already, I’da thunk it would be an easy matter to cut and paste in here again. I hear ID-ists are quite handy with these modern day editing tools.…

Sad Paley Ghostey wanted to taunt me into his sad, sad, bar. If you understand irony look here: A Whiter Shade of Pale - talking to itself.

.. failing that, if you’re a real saddo.. go to ‘after the bar’ and watch him talking to itself.……!!! .. what fun..!!!!

Dean Morrison wrote:

… go to ‘after the bar’ and watch him talking to itself.……!!! .. what fun..!!!!

Then steal his best lines and sell them to the Colbert Report and become a comedy writer.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on December 11, 2005 1:25 PM.

More DI dishonesty and obfuscation was the previous entry in this blog.

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