Dead-on Analysis from Red State Rabble

| 57 Comments

Red State Rabble (Pat Hayes) hits the nail dead-on this morning. This is such a central point that I include his post here in its entirety. (I’ll see Pat at our ID, Science Ed and the Law event later today, and beg forgiveness then.)

ID’s Split Personality

In those long-ago days when RSR lived in the Big Apple, we were often accosted on the street by young men who were selling “scents,” by which they meant marijuana. As we wove our way down the street between competing sales teams, we were often struck by the paradoxical situation the job of selling drugs placed these guys in.

On the one hand, they had to be visible enough to move product. On the other, they had to stay hidden in order to avoid arrest and remain on the street.

It strikes us that the theorists charged with pushing intelligent design product on the public find themselves in much the same contradictory situation.

Mind you, we’re not saying that what the Dembskis, Behes, and Johnsons of the world do is illegal. Rather, we are saying that they find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. They are absolutely required to reassure their creationist public that intelligent design will rout godless evolution from public schools. At the same time, they must publicly deny any religious motivation in order to avoid detection by the church and state separation police.

That’s why Steve Abrams’ mantra at the Kansas science hearings last May:

“My objective is to get as much empirical science (defined as observable, measurable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable) into the science curriculum standards as possible”

morphed quickly – in a speech to church-going social conservatives – as soon as the public hearings were over:

“At some point in time, if you compare evolution and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe,” Abrams said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Likewise, when William Dembski spoke at the Lied Center at the University of Kansas last Monday, he stressed the scientific nature of intelligent design, but in Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design, a book written for a Christian audience, he writes:

The world is a mirror representing the divine life. The mechanical philosophy was ever blind to this fact. Intelligent design, on the other hand, readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.

This contradiction is inherent in intelligent design. ID apologists can spin it, they can deny it, they can try to hide it, but there’s nothing they can do to change it. Their supporters will always demand reassurance that ID and God are one, while the legal and political strategy that ID represents demands that they deny it.

Like those long-ago pushers on the streets of New York, ID proponents must keep their motives both hidden and public. They are, and always will be, compelled to lead a double life.

57 Comments

For the sake of completeness, I’ll play the devil’s advocate and point out that a conflict in the motives behind ID does not necessarily imply that the same conflict exists in ID itself. One could conceivably make a true statement even if one’s motives for doing so were conflicted.

That said, I do agree that while ID in theory could be explored on a scientific basis, in practice the motives behind the movement have led to strategies and propaganda that are every bit as duplicitous as one would expect such motives to produce. No matter what they say they’re shooting for, it’s never hard to see what they’re really aiming at.

Mark Nutter Wrote:

…I do agree that while ID in theory could be explored on a scientific basis…

If that’s the case, why hasn’t it been done by now? How can “Poof!” be explored using the scientific method?

As a very minor aside, I wonder if the young men were offering to sell sinse (as in sinsemilla) rather than scents.

If that’s the case, why hasn’t it been done by now? How can “Poof!” be explored using the scientific method?

I agree ID could be explored scientifically. But only if IDists were willing to say, “If Go-, er, the designer did it, He did it this way.”

I think there are two very good reasons they don’t (and won’t ever) take that approach. First, it constrains what Go-, er, the designer can (or is willing to) do. Second, it makes ID truly falsifiable, which will almost certainly lead to it being falsified.

“Yo, buddy, want to buy some pseudoscience? Come on, man, this is good stuff! Take you to the moon!”

Been reading PT for the past month or so, and I just want to get an observation off my chest. Prefer to just read, but all the reading builds up and after some time - I just feel I need to let out some of my thoughts.

I really cannot help but feel that these people promoting ID, initial complexity theory, creation science, etc. etc. etc. are getting good results for muddling things up.

They have different names for what is basically just the same thing. They keep changing names. This is not like the Evolution side which just keep on sticking to just one name - just Evolution.

For example, teaching Evolution was ruled illegal a long time ago, but I don’t think scientists went around trying to rename and disguise Evolution. Seems like they just kept on improving the theory and stuck with the same name. Over time, with the same named theory, they got the US courts to allow the teaching of evolution.

I even read that scientists got riled when it was proposed somewhere a while back that Evolution be renamed to changes over time (something like that). Anyway, I thought the proposed change was more or less accurate, but it seems that scientists don’t like it when names are changed. I even felt that they sort of overreacted. To me, it seemed that whoever proposed the change was trying to find a middle ground.

Personally, I’m not sure if scientists are being honest or stubborn for sticking with the current name of Evolution. I have to confess that I kind of admire they’re sticking with the word Darwin picked yet at the same time I thought that they don’t seem as wily as the ID folks.

Now, I’m really not saying that scientists should go do what ID folks do, but as someone who works in the marketing biz - I have first-hand experience of the benefits of re-branding or re-labeling.

To me what ID folks do with their theory so to speak is practically the same thing as re-branding or re-labeling. Best specific example I can think of which fits what ID people do is how some businesspeople (I won’t mention particulars of course) re-brand or re-label old unsold stock and make them seem like brand new.

Now, technically speaking - this is not a “nice” thing. Customers by far don’t like this tactic, even people who rebrand don’t like the idea of purchasing rebranded goods. It is a sneaky ploy to separate people from their money.

But, it is a business tactic that does work a lot of times. Thing is as much as I admire how scientists stick with the same brand, I think the ID people seem to have more business sense.

Science is all about dealing with reality. It’s not designed for convincing people.

Religion, on the other hand, is about nothing *but* convincing people. And it’s very, very good at that.

Guess what? There are far more people who think only in terms of social interaction than people who think in terms of objective realities.

Very apt analogy to the ID strategy. It does run in the shadows of meaning and reason. The more IDist speak or defend their “Theory” the more it seems to lose context or value. So like the pushers it is a moment by moment existence.

“Hey want to buy some senslessmeanin?”

Can ID be “tested?” I’m afraid that counting on future tests of ID would be somewhat akin to buying really cheap stock in a company that has already gone belly up. Both “specified complexity” and “irreducible complexity” have been scrutinized and rejected because the basic assumptions underlying the models are demonstrably irrelevant to testing anything about the origin of a system. Dembski’s mathematical “proofs” are clearly irrelevant to any question about evolution, because to anyone at all familiar with the topic, they are based on laughably false statistical assumptions. Hence, there is nothing to “test” at all, and it has been rejected by science as a fraudulent claim. Behe’s assertions, likewise, have been repeatedly demonstrated to be false. Behe’s entire model rests on the assumption that if two things are functionally co-dependent, then they could not have arisen through any pathway other than deliberate design. Simply demonstrating how such systems could arise through intermediates is therefore sufficient to completely undermine his assertions. (Of course, actually finding intermediate systems has gone even further to kill his model!) He can spout off all he likes about experimentally knocking out components of systems, but such experiments are not “tests” of anything other than the hypothesis that a specific system will not work if you knock out a particular component. Beyond Dembski and Behe, ID is completely lacking in anything remotely resembling a model that can generate testable hypotheses. All that remains is an idea that is contingent upon one’s faith for acceptance, coupled with wishful thinking that somehow it can be construed as science. That’s why ID is so consistently associated with a religious motivation – there is no other reason to accept it.

qetzal Wrote:

I agree ID could be explored scientifically. But only if IDists were willing to say, “If Go-, er, the designer did it, He did it this way.”

I’m not sure the “ID” part of that would ever be scientifically approachable, though. You’d basically be saying “it happened this way,” which would be testable, plus “and the designer wanted it that way,” which wouldn’t be. Unless you were only considering non-omnipotent designers who couldn’t help leaving various traces of their existence–time travelers or aliens, that sort of thing.

Think of all the theist evolutionary biologists out there. In the sense you propose, they are exploring ID scientifically–they think a god or gods caused life to change and diversify via accepted evolutionary mechanisms. But they can only ever use scientific methods to test the validity of those mechanisms–they’re not looking for evidence of an additional divine stamp of approval.

As I’ve always said, ID has a lethal contradiction right at its very core, one it simply can’t get around. For legal success, ID requires that all of its followers MUST, absolutely MUST, shut their mouths about the one thing they care most about in the whole world — their religious opinions.

They can’t do it. They don’t WANT to do it. None of them can go ten minutes without dragging their religious opinions into the discussion. Just let them talk long enough, and every one of them will metaphorically shoot themselves in the head. It’s why they lost in Dover; it’s why they will lose in Kansas and Ohio.

What ID wants to do is preach without letting the whole world know they are preaching.

It simply can’t be done. (shrug)

In response to LC,

The reason science fares so well in courts, and why it maintains such ironclad credibility within its own community is that it blatantly refuses to market or display any degree of business know-how whatsoever. I think this is a huge advantage for science. It’s nigh-impossible to declare science disingenous as a whole in court and succeed, or advocate some vast conspiracy of scientists. Likewise, you have a nightmare on your hands trying to convince anyone it is religious (thanks to the huge variety of religions of the people practicing it), or that it’s concerned with anything other than naturalistic reality, because it doesn’t bother to market, worry about the supernatural, or try to influence beliefs.

Science is staggeringly ignorant of the implications of science in social contexts, and I think that is why science is winning court battles. The moment science tries to be more slick and starts worrying about convincing people rather than being objectively correct, you destroy the inherent value in science. I’m not against objective debate or honest information campaigns, but legitimately marketing, changing names, and trying to play the dishonest games the DI plays would destroy the credibility of science. Educate about science, but really, you should never have a slick agenda as a scientist.

If you disagree, just look at what Judge Jones had to say about the motives of the ID folks. Science is far better off not considering or worrying about that.

LC makes some thoughtful points I’d like to respond to. First of all, I don’t think Darwin originally used the term “evolution”; originally his term was “descent with modification”. (I don’t remember exactly how the term “evolution” came to be so universal; perhaps more historically informed PTers reading this can chime in). And, really, “evolution” is an unfortunate term, since it implies the “unfolding” of a pre-existing program.

But after 150 years, with hundreds of journals and textbooks, etc., incorporating the name, “rebranding” is not a viable option. That’s the great thing about “intelligent design”; since they have no scientific track record to cultivate, they have nothing to lose with “rebranding”, in an attempt to outrun their track record for religiously motivated flimflammery.

Comment #76146

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on January 28, 2006 01:12 PM (e)

As I’ve always said, ID has a lethal contradiction right at its very core, one it simply can’t get around. For legal success, ID requires that all of its followers MUST, absolutely MUST, shut their mouths about the one thing they care most about in the whole world —- their religious opinions.

Yeah, this is a fatal flaw. And it’s why I think they’re going to change tactics, not just names. They’re going to advocate more home schooling, or cryptocreationist supreme court nominees, or something.

Comment #76131

Posted by Wislu Plethora, FCD on January 28, 2006 11:02 AM (e)

How can “Poof!” be explored using the scientific method?

I really don’t understand why we haven’t started referring to Behe and by extension all the other IDers as Poof-ters.

LOL

Perfect. Does it have the same connotation in the US?

Comment #76136

Posted by LC on January 28, 2006 11:22 AM (e)

Been reading PT for the past month or so, and I just want to get an observation off my chest. Prefer to just read, but all the reading builds up and after some time - I just feel I need to let out some of my thoughts.

I really cannot help but feel that these people promoting ID, initial complexity theory, creation science, etc. etc. etc. are getting good results for muddling things up.

With ID as a product, they’re selling “the same crap” in a “new and improved” box trying to retain “market share” in a low-business growth/large market share model (cash cow). They, at best, realize a short-term spike in product sales as people who don’t understand this is the same old crap buy the product.

However, they’ve offered nothing truly new and what was incorrectly perceived as a “star” (high business growth, high market share) is being (more and more) correctly perceived as a cash cow (low business growth, high market share) product.

Like all cash-cows the product inexorably works toward “dog” (low business growth, declining market share) when exposed to a competitive market.

They have different names for what is basically just the same thing. They keep changing names. This is not like the Evolution side which just keep on sticking to just one name - just Evolution.

Evolution, in the BCG matrix model I’m using, was known as a “question mark.” That is, it had growth, but a small market share. Over time, it is becoming a “star” as it does continue to grow AND it’s market share (acceptance) continues to increase. Eventually, it will be the dominant product, not only in schools, but in society and will end up categorized as a “cash cow” and, pretty close to an unassailable monopoly that any sort of “dog” (re-packaged creationism) just won’t be able to compete with.

For example, teaching Evolution was ruled illegal a long time ago, but I don’t think scientists went around trying to rename and disguise Evolution. Seems like they just kept on improving the theory and stuck with the same name. Over time, with the same named theory, they got the US courts to allow the teaching of evolution.

I even read that scientists got riled when it was proposed somewhere a while back that Evolution be renamed to changes over time (something like that). Anyway, I thought the proposed change was more or less accurate, but it seems that scientists don’t like it when names are changed. I even felt that they sort of overreacted. To me, it seemed that whoever proposed the change was trying to find a middle ground.

All true.

Personally, I’m not sure if scientists are being honest or stubborn for sticking with the current name of Evolution. I have to confess that I kind of admire they’re sticking with the word Darwin picked yet at the same time I thought that they don’t seem as wily as the ID folks.

Now, I’m really not saying that scientists should go do what ID folks do, but as someone who works in the marketing biz - I have first-hand experience of the benefits of re-branding or re-labeling.

I’m not in marketing. I do get to judge the reality of what the marketers do through actual analysis of the economic results. And many, many times the re-branding strategy doesn’t work long-term without something to help it - such as opening new markets or a substantial re-design to improve the product. Merely “relabeling” without substantive changes in a mature market seldom produces positive long-term results.

To me what ID folks do with their theory so to speak is practically the same thing as re-branding or re-labeling. Best specific example I can think of which fits what ID people do is how some businesspeople (I won’t mention particulars of course) re-brand or re-label old unsold stock and make them seem like brand new.

Now, technically speaking - this is not a “nice” thing. Customers by far don’t like this tactic, even people who re-brand don’t like the idea of purchasing re-branded goods. It is a sneaky ploy to separate people from their money.

But, it is a business tactic that does work a lot of times. Thing is as much as I admire how scientists stick with the same brand, I think the ID people seem to have more business sense.

It works. It’s not without its hazards. And frequently most gains (from a non substantially improved/reworked product) are transitory and merely reflect a bit of front-loading in the sales pipe.

Comment #76152

Posted by Alan Fox on January 28, 2006 01:43 PM (e)

LOL

Perfect. Does it have the same connotation in the US?

Only with those that watch BBC-America, Benny Hill re-runs on the Comedy Channel (or where ever they are now) or PBS where you find the vast majority of English/Australian TV shows with enough sass to use the term.

steve s Wrote:

I really don’t understand why we haven’t started referring to Behe and by extension all the other IDers as Poof-ters.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to riff off an insult aimed at people who are mostly on our side…

Why insult gays? They’ve done nothing to deserve being associated with ID-supporters (who, I will note, are almost completely un-fabulous). Just call Behe and his ilk ‘IDiots’.

For the sake of completeness, I’ll play the devil’s advocate and point out that a conflict in the motives behind ID does not necessarily imply that the same conflict exists in ID itself. One could conceivably make a true statement even if one’s motives for doing so were conflicted.

The notion that “ID is not the same as the ID movement” puts a different face on things is simply false. Both the ID movement *and* ID argument have been subjected to scrutiny. I’ve been discussing this in a forum associated with the Orson Scott Card essay on ID.

Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?” (originally due to William A. Dembski)

A lot of people have claimed to have sufficiently answered David Hume on this, yet there seems to be no appreciable progress on this score in over two hundred years. The question itself is tied to religious argument. Ignoring the distinction between ordinary and rarefied design inferences is a hallmark of argumentation on this point by those with a religious axe to grind. The supposed modern approaches of “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” each are based upon an argument by elimination, that “design” is affirmed to the extent that “evolution” is disconfirmed.

This point was made in court in the Kitzmiller v. DASD trial last year. Judge Jones took note of it in his decision. The first segment below comes from the section where Jones establishes that the ID argument itself is rendered in religious terms by the ID advocates, and the second is from his section showing that ID is not science.

[…] Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. (P-718 at 705) (emphasis added). As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.

[…]

ID is at bottom premised upon a false dichotomy, namely, that to the extent evolutionary theory is discredited, ID is confirmed. ([93]5:41 (Pennock)). This argument is not brought to this Court anew, and in fact, the same argument, termed “contrived dualism” in [94]McLean, was employed by creationists in the 1980’s to support “creation science.” The court in [95]McLean noted the “fallacious pedagogy of the two model approach” and that “n efforts to establish ‘evidence’ in support of creation science, the defendants relied upon the same false premise as the two model approach … all evidence which criticized evolutionary theory was proof in support of creation science.” [96]McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1267, 1269. We do not find this false dichotomy any more availing to justify ID today than it was to justify creation science two decades ago.

The notion that “ID is different from the ID movement” does not get ID into the clear so far as the issue of legal permissibility is concerned. The motivations of the ID movement are fodder for consideration of the “purpose” prong of the Lemon test, but the “logic” of ID goes straight to the “effect” prong of Lemon and the “endorsement” test.

I think the folks who claim that there is some pure, unsullied, pseudo-Platonic form of “ID” that does not bear the taint of the actions of its advocates have been conned. The religious aim is built into the arguments themselves, as Judge Jones quite clearly saw in the extensive testimony given in trial last year. I see some of the “ID is different from the ID movement” promoters as folks who unknowingly go around with a taped placard on their backs that reads, “Sucker!” The best expansion of “ID” that can be made is, in my opinion, not “intelligent design”, but rather “intentional deception”.

Great analysis from RedStateRabble. Unfortunately, I do fear the IDers see their salvation – literally – in changing the court system.

On the marketing theme: The IDers seem to be encouraging a word-of-mouth advertising strategy. We are in that game, too, but the problem is they have big bucks in PR backing it up. All we have is facts and integrity (and the NCSE!!!).

Wesley R. Elsberry Wrote:

I think the folks who claim that there is some pure, unsullied, pseudo-Platonic form of “ID” that does not bear the taint of the actions of its advocates have been conned.

Just for the record, I don’t think there is any such form of ID. I think there could be. In principle. (Although if ID was ever made falsifiable, it would almost certainly be falsified soon after.)

You are absolutely right about the dilemma ID’ers find themselves in. But that is only because the “Lemon Test” for the establishment of Religion puts them there. With the elevation of Sam Alito to associate justice, the Lemon Tests days will be numbered.

Unfortunately, I do fear the IDers see their salvation — literally — in changing the court system.

It is, indeed, their only hope. They simply cannot engage in preaching in public schools until and unless there are Federal courts willing to ALLOW them to do so.

I do not think that any Supreme Court will ever do so. Not even Bush’s current crop of toadies. The Republican Party (and the business elite that really runs it) simply don’t want a theocracy. It’s bad for business.

If I turn out to be wrong, and the Supreme Court does indeed give official sanction to theocracy and the unity of church/state, then “evolution” and “science education” will rapidly become the LEAST of our problems. :(

With the elevation of Sam Alito to associate justice, the Lemon Tests days will be numbered.

That won’t help them, though. Before the Lemon test ever even appeared, the anti-evolutionists were already losing Federal Court cases with regularity. If Lemon is dropped, then the old “establishment” test takes its place. And the fundies couldn’t win under that one either.

The fundies’ only hope is for some NEW test to appear – something like “Well, it’s unconstitutional for the government to support any PARTICULAR religious view or sect, but it’s OK for the government to support ‘nondenominational’ or ‘nonsectarian’ religion in general.” This would be something like the ‘General Assessment’ that several colonial governments attempted (and rejected) before the Constitution was written.

But, since ID/creationism is based solely and only on Biblical literalist opposition to science and evolution, which is a very tiny (sectarian) minority within Christianity, I am not at all sure they could survive even THAT test.

The idea of a great chain of being dates back to Aristotle. You have all seen this “ladder of progress” with all kinds of steps up the rungs but you know who is on top. A contemporary of Leclerc (comte du Buffon) by the name of Charles Bonnet conceptualized a huge ladder where God from time to time would come by and cause a catastrophe and all organisms would either perish or take the next step up. What was interesting was that man wasn’t at the top rung but all kinds of angels, archangels and the Heavenly Host all the way up to the Grand Old Designer himself. Bonnet called this scheme “evolution”, and what was important was that it was all predictable and preordained. This predated Darwin by about 75 years or so. Later on Lamarck and St. Hilaire (also pre-Darwin) used the term “evolution” to describe their ideas of descent and change but they were also progressive and predictable. Darwin insisted that his “descent with modification” was not progressive and merely represented adaptations to changing local environments for no long term purpose. He used the term “evolved” as the last word in the “Origins” book but not “evolution.”

FYI

“scents” is really “sense” and it’s slang for “sinsemilla” which is the unpollinated flower clusters of the marijuana plant

Just for the record, I don’t think there is any such form of ID. I think there could be. In principle. (Although if ID was ever made falsifiable, it would almost certainly be falsified soon after.)

So long as “ID” argument is, as it has been, disprove-evolution-accept-design, it still suffers from “two model” thinking, and should be found to have an impermissible effect of establishing religion. The KvD decision leads the way on this.

So long as “ID” argument is, as it has been, disprove-evolution-accept-design, it still suffers from “two model” thinking, and should be found to have an impermissible effect of establishing religion.

Yes indeed. And since “teach the controversy” and “critically examine evolution” consists of nothing BUT “disprove evolution accept design”, that doesn’t bode very well for them in Kansas or Ohio, does it …

But then, the ID/creationists don’t have any choice. After all, they have NO positive evidence whatsoever to present. None. Not a shred. All they have is a shopping list of various criticisms of evolution. (shrug)

Passerby Wrote:

You are absolutely right about the dilemma ID’ers find themselves in. But that is only because the “Lemon Test” for the establishment of Religion puts them there. With the elevation of Sam Alito to associate justice, the Lemon Tests days will be numbered.

The days of the Lemon test seemed to be numbered with or without Alito but even without Lemon, and using for instance O’Connor’s variant, the ruling would still be the same.

Until ID can show a sincere secular purpose which is not a sham, it will continue to run afoul of the constitution. Thank God for that I say

To continue the history of the word “evolution”. Bonnet would otherwise be consigned to the ash-heap of history were it not for his using this term which clearly implied a progressive and predictable outcome. Lamarck was much more embroiled in a rivalry with the great anatomist Cuvier who was a catastrophist-creationist. Cuvier coined the term “extinct” which got him into hot water with the pre-revolutionary French religious authority because it questioned God’s omnipotence. Lamarck sought to do an end-around to the problem by showing that nothing ever became extinct but changed due to reacting to percieved needs and would struggle to become better adapted to the environment and pass these better adaptations to their offspring. Neither the church nor eventually Darwin ever bought this argument. Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin was a big fan of Lamarckian thought (unfortunately so was Lysenko), because unlike natural selection the inheritance of acquired characteristics rewards effort and is reassuring to people searching for meaning in their lives through science.

I think it’s true that Scalia, Thomas, Altio and Roberts would be likely to make a “pro-ID” decision, no matter how tortured the legal illogic would have to be. However, I don’t think that makes much difference.

This reflects a very cynical opinion of these justices on my part, and I sincerely hope I am wrong. I apologize in advance to anyone who is offended, or thinks I am being unfair. Judge Jones was a “conservative Republican”, but an honest one. I perceive these other four as being willing stooges for a rigid political ideology. Judge Jones is a conservative Republican and an honest judge; these other four are hacks who will say anything to push what they perceive to be the short term advantage of major donors to the Republican party. Note that although at least three of these judges are ostensibly “devout Catholics” (I’m not sure what Thomas’ religion is), and ID seeks to violate the rights of Catholics by teaching a narrowly held Protestant dogma to their children as “science” in tax-funded public schools, I still suspect that these four would, indeed, inevitably make what they perceive as the “partisanally correct” decision.

But so what? For that to make any difference…

1) An ID case would have to get to the Supreme Court and 2) These four would all still have to be on the Supreme Court (Scalia is 69) and 3) One other justice would have to agree with them, which probably means that Bush would have to be able to get a third totally predictable and rigid partisan onto the court beforehand (fifth total but third from Bush and 4) even if all this happened, voters in individual school districts would still have to agree to put ID into schools; creationism has only even been proposed in a few dozen districts, mainly isolated and rural, to date.

And even if all this happened, legislatures could pass laws or ammendments to override such a supreme court decision by clarifying first ammendment rights.

Beg pardon? How could legislatures “clarify” First Amendment rights, when that’s the function of the Supreme Court?

Caledonian Wrote:

Beg pardon? How could legislatures “clarify” First Amendment rights, when that’s the function of the Supreme Court?

While it is true that rights can’t be diminished by legislation, it is not true that rights can’t be extended by legislation.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights set floors, not ceilings.

“Beg pardon? How could legislatures “clarify” First Amendment rights, when that’s the function of the Supreme Court?”

You don’t bother to deny the deeply cynical assumption that four supreme court justices will callously disregard any consideration except the coarsest of partisanism, I notice.

But you’re stunned by the thought that the sleazy goal of “ID” - to squeeze out some tormented, narrow, Byzantine ruling that “teaching ‘design’ is somehow minimally ‘constitutional’” - could fail anyway.

There’s plenty of nonsense that’s alread “constitutional” to teach, but never will be taught, anyway. All attempts to teach ID have been defeated not just by courts, but by voters as well, so far. But to address your question directly…

The Fourteenth Ammendment is an extreme example of how the legislature can clarify rights that in essence already existed. State and/or federal legislatures could pass bills, in the extremely unlikely event of an ID supreme court victory, that provided more specific protection for the freedom of religion of taxpayers with children in school.

I’d like to add that I, personally, have never done anything to fight ID beyond a few sporadic internet posts. I’ve never had to. I’ve never lived in a jurisdiction where it was seriously considered, as is the case for the vast majority of the population. It’s lost in court and it’s lost at the ballot. It’s dead in the water. Of course, should it come back to life, there are millions of people like me, people who haven’t even begun to fight, who will oppose it with every resource at our disposal. Alito or no Alito, it doesn’t look good for ID.

And it’s always possible that I could be wrong, and one of those four could turn out to be honest on the issue.

I actually got some traction in a few letters to the editor by calling them Evolution Deniers. Yes, it’s slighty rhetorical and ‘guilt by association’-y, but it’s also factually accurate and requires little explanation.

I have to agree with the pessimists. A couple more partisan conservative judges on the Supreme Court and another ten years, and the separation between Church and State will be badly frayed. Scalia has already spoken of the compatibility between faith and government. I can very well imagine a set of rulings that would permit the government to sponsor religiously-oriented activities – such as school vouchers that could be used at religious schools – and the eventual ruling that religious ideas could be taught in public schools if they are balanced with other views.

At that point, school systems would be legally enabled to mandate “teaching both sides” of the Evolution/creationism “controversy”. For example, a biology course would still teach something about evolution, but would also include the caveat that “many people believe that the Earth and living things were created by God …”. Court challenges would fail, because the statement “ … many people believe …” is literally true, and would comply with Supreme Court guidelines about teaching religious ideas in public schools.

It’s true, as someone pointed out, that not all school districts nor all states would adopt such a “both sides” approach, but the map of those that did/didn’t would resemble the current red/blue state and county maps, especially of the Supreme Court includes “local community standards” clauses in its rulings. You will find a lot of red states bowing to their Creationist majorities to include at least a mention of Creationism in biology classes.

Yes, Creationism and not ID. The duplicitousness of the ID movement (back to the original topic!) and its general vacuousness will cause ID to lose favor with the Religious Right when fullbore honest-to-God Creationism is allowed into the schools.

And yes, as another someone pointed out, the integrity of science teaching will be one of our lesser worries at that point.

If it ever came to *that*, we’d have to think about revolution. Or at least emigration - it’d be an epic Brain-drain.

I think it’s much too premature to be drawing conclusions about how either Roberts or Alito would rule on a ID/creationism case, or, for that matter, an abortion case. Each case will be framed by how it’s engaged and how the opposing lawyers make their case before the district, circuit, and supreme courts. The Oregon right-to-die law is a perfect example. The arguments from both sides addressed the question of whether the US AG (Ashcroft and then Gonzales) could make his own unique interpretation of the Controlled Substance Act.; the court did not even consider the constitutionality of assisted suicide, leaving that issue for another day.

And then we should always be wary as to how judges will act once on the supreme court and free of most political constraints. Earl Warren was a stalwart Republican appointed by Eisenhower. O’Conner was a conservative Republican appointed by Reagan. And Souter was widely regarded as a conservative Republican who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Warren turned out to be liberal. O’Conner, middle of the road pragmatist. And Souter a good New England liberal. Scalias turned out as expected. Thomas was essentially a blank slate, as is Roberts at this point. And Alito has said some outrageous, and, in my view, dangerous, things, especially regarding the concept of the unitary executive, but his future path cannot be predicted with any certainty. So let’s keep our powder dry. What I think may turn out to be a telling difference between Roberts and Alito on the one hand and Scalia and Thomas on the other is that the former appear to be collegial sorts who work with their colleagues on issues and may be much more likely to join in shaping majority opinions requiring compromise. Scalia, especially, is an iconoclast who relishes standing alone in defiance of logic and compromise. And Thomas, although lacking the intellectual fireworks that Scalia spits off, is very similar. Neither offer much to the supreme court and its workings. Were Roberts and Alito to follow that path, then I think the court, and the nation, would be in real trouble, not for reasons of bad ideology but for emasculating the court. Here’s hoping that they are not.

“But then, the ID/creationists don’t have any choice. After all, they have NO positive evidence whatsoever to present. None. Not a shred. All they have is a shopping list of various criticisms of evolution. (shrug)”

Here’s my ( amateur) take on the philosophical problems of ID.

The ( extremely ironic) reason ID doesn’t work is the designer they posit simply isn’t complex enough to do the job, since they haven’t specified any of his features. To coin a phrase, their theory is underdetermined. Theories have to compress emprical information, they have to explain a variety of speficfic instances by positing general rules and/or theoretical objects, ID can’t compress information like this because it hasn’t got any rules and it hasn’t got any objects with halfway determinate properties.

Religious motivations do not make it a crime. Just because you have a gun in hand doesn’t mean it is smoking.

The crime is forcing the “intelligent design is science” bit in public schools. And for the “leading experts on intelligent design” whose official, core agenda includes To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”is a little messy to say the least (next time use gloves or at least wipe off the finger prints). You’re obviosly peddling a specified, theistic world view. And who cares how many Jews, Muslims, Moonies or Scientologists cash in on the opportunity with you. It is still a specified theology.

Add that with we have to change the definition of science in order to include, IDC, and then we also have to invite astrology and a host of others, and you’ve got one big creationist mess.

Ken Miller could have rabid Catholic motivations to teach evolution but that does not make it religious. And Miller is not teaching theism, he is teaching something that can be tested in a petri dish.

It takes all creationist parts to implode on religious and constitutional grounds and the DI, it’s PhD quacks and bozos continue to feed the public a steady diet of future legal exhibits (evidences).

In the above post Comment #76263, I meant to include taking the religious comments Dembksi and other leading “design theorist” make to these Christian groups, and ALL the other evidences and you have an obvious creationist political move.

I’ve been enjoying this blog for a while now… and thought this post on the methods of the IDers would be a good place to make this observation:

A while ago, I had occasion to research the world of Holocaust deniers; those people who go around making the case that the Holocaust wasn’t as bad as we’re told, or that it never happened at all.

I’ve become fascinated with the IDers because their methods are almost exactly the same. I should stress right now that I am not making a moral equivalence: Holocaust Deniers are, for the most part, neo-Nazis and vicious anti-Semites, that is, evil people. Whatever you want to say about IDer’s methods, their motives can be viewed charitably: they think that putting God back in the schools will make everybody’s lives better. I don’t think they’re evil. Okay? Now:

1) Both IDers and Deniers set up official sounding Institutes to give themselves a veneer of academic credibility: The Discovery Institute, the Institute for Historical Review. They publish articles, with footnotes, have symposia, etc.

2) Both groups then argue that people should “teach the controversy,” or “hear both sides.” In other words, the Deniers were “wedging” long before the IDers.

3) While thusly raising themselves up to the level of their opponents, they work to bring their opponents down, namely by projecting their own motives on to them. That is, Deniers, who are a bunch of highly biased conspiricists who hide their agenda behind a veneer of respectability, accuse actual historians of being exactly that. IDers, who are advancing a religious agenda in the guise of science, accuse “Darwinists” of doing exactly that.

4) They make use of the “falses in partes, falses in omnes” fallacy; that is, any small error or omission means an entire edifice of evidence can be dismissed. Among Deniers, a minor mistake in dating or geography in a particular survivor’s account of Auschwitz, say, means the gas chambers did not exist. You can pick your own examples among IDers.

5) At the same time, they happily ignore contradictions within their own work or disputes between members of the sect.

6) They focus all their “work” not on their supposed academic peers, but on the general public.

7) Lastly, and in connection with this, they make good use of the public’s natural skepticism, and self-regard. Evolution couldn’t have happened, because, well, it’s just too crazy to think about. And what would mean about the human race? Same with Auschwitz.

Again, just to prevent a flame-war from breaking out, I will stress again: IDers are NOT the moral equivalant of Holocaust Deniers. They are not Nazis. They are not evil. They seem, from everything I read from and about them, to be very nice people. But, it does seem that by taking on a similar task to Holocaust Deniers – ie, arguing the falsity of something that is objectively, and empirically true – they have been forced to adopt some of the same tactics.

I’ve also been thinking along those lines… Holocaust denial is junk history and no respectable school should teach it. Likewise, ID is junk science and, again, no respectable school should teach it.

Can anyone think of a less inflammatory example than holocaust denial ? It’s always good to find an argument that doesn’t hand the other side a chance to change the subject.

Moon landing denial?

I particularly liked the “Roman Empire Denial” someone mentioned earlier, but I think the moon landing would be the most viable example in this case.

As to the current supreme court, however, I’d have to wait to see how they rule. Alito strikes me as frighteningly pro-executive (I’m very worried about him for this reason - the moment it is ruled legal for the president to violate any law he wants because he feels like it is the moment that I’m leaving this country), but I’m not sure he’s also frighteningly pro-religious. His own views don’t seem to run in that direction, necessarily. He reminds me of the Nixon kind of Republican, not the Pat Roberts kind.

Roberts is a big black hole. I’m interested to see which way he’d go on this sort of thing, but likewise, after the blastings ID has recieved from lower courts and the publicity those opinions recieved, I think it might also be hard for the Supreme Court to try to eviscerate the Dover decision. Judges have a nasty habit of doing what they want, but usually, that’s giving the finger to the executive and legislative branches, not to other judges.

The controversial supreme court cases are usually the ones where two rights collide and precedence has to be determined (Roe v Wade, for example). However, in the ID case, it’s really just “Can we violate the establishment clause or not”? I don’t think that’s ever going to be a winner, unless we pack the courts with fundies, in which case anyone with a brain would do well to leave the country. Or, of course, start a revolution.

I wonder, sometimes, if that’s where we are headed.

Believe me, I’m aware that by making the comparison to Deniers, I was intentionally invoking Godwin’s Law, and I suspect that if any IDers come across this little post, they’ll fulminate and rage about name-calling, etc.

But the analogy plays out particularly well with Deniers. There isn’t any Institute of Classical Review that publishes “papers” arguing that the Roman Empire didn’t exist. As for moon-landing conspiricists, well, maybe they do have clubs, but they just don’t have the infrastructure, or the political goals, of Deniers. Or IDers.

In other words, my point wasn’t simply, To say that evolution didn’t happen is like saying the Holocaust didn’t happen. It was that these people, and those people, having a similar intellectual task (ie, denying something that is empirically true) have arrived at similar tactics.

It’s parallel evolution!

Or a triple life?

IDists also straddle the fence between Old Earth Creationism and Young Earth. They point to the “science” and grudgingly accept common descent, as the old earthers do, but they constantly pander to the YEC’s by repeating their anti-evolution canards and by reassuring their audience -winkwink- that we all know -winkwink - who the Designer is.

The IDist is two-faced even in his own house.

Actually most of the old earth creationists do not accept common descent. We asked most of the ID witnesses at the Kansas Science hearings whether they accepted common descent, and all but two said they didn’t. “Macroevolution” and common descent is the key delimiter between creationists and not, I think.

Since Yagur won’t say it, I will:

People who deny that 1) the theory of evolution is scientific and 2) that evolution through natural selection is the best available explanation for the origin of species and the adaptation of those species to their environment are evil.

Not just misguided, although many of them are. Not just religious zealots, almost many of them are. Not just those who try to ignore reason. Not just those who dislike knowledge and hate thought. Not just the self-righteous who worship their ability to induce people to adhere to their group and think what they want them to think.

They’re people who think their sociopolitical group isn’t only the best one there is, but the only valid one. They’re people who think everything that isn’t part of that group should either be joined to the group (by force if necessary) or eliminated.

EVIL.

As to whether IDers are evil or just plain deluded: I think the answer is “Which IDer(s) are you talking about?”

There are undoubtedly ID supporters among the kind of nice people who would bring you a casserole while you were dealing with a relative’s funeral arrangements. There are also ID supporters who are very happy to lie to both adults and schoolchildren, waste tax dollars meant for public education on self-aggrandizing lawsuit bait, harass and belittle hard-working scientists and schoolteachers, shove their various illogical prejudices down every throat they can find, and suck up to rich paranoid extremists to get funding for all of the above. (The latter type seem to be currently playing the former like so many violins. Of course, that’s what the publicity budget is for.)

As for analogies: I think that moon-landing denial is a good one. Besides the fact that people will tune out when someone uses a Nazi analogy on a group that’s not violent (yet), moon-landing denial smacks beautifully of contrarian crankishness and just begs to be deflated. I’ve been quoting Carl Sagan a lot today, so I’ll do it again: “They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

IDists also straddle the fence between Old Earth Creationism and Young Earth. They point to the “science” and grudgingly accept common descent, as the old earthers do

I’m not aware of any old-earther who accepts common descent.

Heck, I can’t even think of any *IDers* who accept common descent, other than Behe (and he waffles on that point).

I strongly disagree with Yagur: IDers – those leading the movement, at least – are indeed evil, both in their methods – knowingly and repeatedly misrepresenting the truth at every opportunity – and in their motives – to undermine not only science but the people’s ability to think rationally for themselves. Many of the evolution-deniers are also actively involved in global-warming-denial. Science, and disciplined scientific inquiry and fact-finding, keep people honest, in all areas from history to medicine to ecology to criminal justice, and that is why dishonest people of all stripes are now trying to destroy it.

This is not about differing views, this is about thought control.

It’s hard for me to see how any creationist/intelligent design theorist/evolution denier could accept common descent at all. I have always pictured evolution by the bush analogy so favored by Darwin while the independant creation of species by any design would produce the “lawn of life” where any genetic similarity between any two organisms or so would be purely coincidental and retrospectively whatever genetic relationship was found between two species is compatible with ID but not with evolution. In other words ID explains everything and predicts nothing but whatever you find ID is compatible retrospectively. For example lets look at 2 groups of mammals. All these animals produce milk and have hair on some parts of their bodies at some part of their lives. Their fossil representatives have synapsid skulls, they have 3 ossicles and the jaw is formed from one bone (the dentary). In the first group we’ll place the spiny anteater, the banded anteater, the scaly anteater, the giant anteater and the aardvaark. In the second group we’ll place the chihuahua, the giant panda, the tiger, the walrus and the mink. According to the theory of evolution the mammals in the second group should be more genetically similar than the organisms in the first group based on the fossil record and the theory of common descent. I don’t know what ID would predict here but any finding would be perfectly expected in retrospect. Please correct me if I’m wrong but how could evolution predict a closer genetic relation within group 1 than group 2? This is testable with our current technology.

On the basis of my earlier comment I have developed a slogan “ID lacks specified complexity”: )

Posted by steve s on January 28, 2006 01:40 PM (e)

Comment #76151

I really don’t understand why we haven’t started referring to Behe and by extension all the other IDers as Poof-ters.

I have been reading this site for the last few months and this is my first post, but I think the IDiots could use a theme song. I think we should ask the hip-hop/rap band “Tag Team” to redo their early 90’s hit “Whomp There It Is” and call it “Poof There It Is.”

yes great work

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on January 28, 2006 8:57 AM.

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