The Anti-Wedge Document

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The Society for the Study of Evolution has published the anti-Wedge Document

The document is titled “Countering the Wedge: A multi-pronged, multi-year strategy to oppose creationism and intelligent design in the science curriculum of public schools” and is authored by Massimo Pigliucci, David Baum and Mark McPeek

Anti-Wedge Document Wrote:

The existence of a massive and well-funded network of anti-evolutionary groups has contributed to the persistence of creationism, but at the same time scientists could have been more effective in outreach and education (Pigliucci 2002, 2005). Thus, while scientists certainly cannot hope by themselves to overcome the problem, it seems increasingly clear that inaction is no longer an option. The public already perceives academics as aloof and isolated, lost in a pampered world of irrelevancies, unwilling or unable to come out of the ivory tower even for brief periods to explain why their research is worthwhile (Sagan 1995). We think that professional societies ought to take the lead and generate an internal cultural change within academia, to help scientists rethink their priorities and make outreach and public involvement a matter of normal practice, rather than a suspect activity carried out only by a few individuals.

The document describes the following goals (modeled loosely after the well known Wedge Document)

This document, loosely modeled after the antievolutionary Wedge Strategy produced by the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (Forest and Gross 2004, see Appendix 1) defines a series of goals, and a preliminary set of suggestions on how to achieve them, which we hope will be adopted – with suitable modifications – by the three major US based societies of evolutionary biologists. The time to act has already come upon us, but we are not too late yet.

An anti-wedge strategy:

the goals.

  • To defend the teaching of evolutionary theory as the fundamental conceptual framework for all biological sciences.
  • To preclude the teaching of creationism, intelligent design, and other pseudoscientific “alternatives” as part of the science curriculum in public schools.
  • To positively engage the public, the media, religious leaders, and elected representatives to promote a better understanding of evolutionary biology in particular and science as a method of inquiry in general.

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Wedging the Wedge from Abnormal Interests on August 7, 2006 9:12 PM

Over at Panda's Thumb PvM tells us about “Countering the Wedge: A multi-pronged, multi-year strategy to oppose creationism and intelligent design in the science curriculum of public schools” by Massimo Pigliucci, David Baum and Mark McPeek. All thr... Read More

24 Comments

What’s missing from the goal is the most important bullet:

To ensure that evolutionary biology is effectively taught in public schools.

We can win lawsuit after lawsuit and prevent schools from officially endorsing creationism and I.D.; but if, as is overwhelmingly true today, kids leave high school without understanding evolution, the victories are empty.

This is an excellent effort. Amongs my many concerns about DI’s “wedge” has been the efforts to sway youth away from science entirely or to only accept science that is in agreement with genesis. Were the scientific societies and the practicioners themselves to have a more accesible public face I think great strides could be made to educate the public.

Two comments.

They are quite right that working scientists, especially professors, should get more involved. But this is unlikely to happen unless department chairmen and Deans give professors, especially younger ones, some ‘credit’ toward tenure and promotion for outreach. The document is written for people who already know that ID brand creationism is a fraud. But the greatest number of people will hear of it through spinners. You can guess the results.

Still, it’s a plan.

I like what Josh R. said about the Wedge:

My favorite part of the Wedge document, written 7 years ago, is where it says “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

Also where it sets these 5 year objectives: “Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion); One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows; An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US; Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities; Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view; Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences”

How’s that going?

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inde[…]omment-51926

Seems like a good start.

I’d also like to see work to recruit and inform non-scientists and non-academics myself, to get them intimately involved, to reach out to them. That and it could provide more talent for the effort.

What, so they just published this rather than arrange for it to be leaked?

To preclude the teaching of creationism, intelligent design, and other pseudoscientific “alternatives” as part of the science curriculum in public schools.

I think they should include astrology in the list. Have we learned nothing from Kitzmiller?

What the hell is an anti-wedge, some sort of bizarre geometric shape not found in nature? Who came up the with this nomenclature? Dembski’s vise strategy had more ring to it. Is it the opposite of a wedgy where you pull down the pants of your opponent? It’s no wonder scientists are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, there are no good show tunes, no catchy phrases, and no spokesmodels.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

This is a good idea. However, it seems clear to me that the ID supporters will just interpret the first two of those bulleted objectives in terms of the dogmatic naturalism they acuse us of. Of course, those are sensible objectives, but they still need to be defended on scientific, philosophical and pragmatic educational grounds. So I think the anti-wedge strategy needs to put real emphasis on educating people about scientific methods of enquiry as discussed in the third bullet.

Which leads to another point. Biology isn’t the only science under attack from fundamentalists. An anti-wedge strategy should emphasize this point about secular methods of enquiry to undergird the basis for scientific judgements about biology but also those of the other sciences (i.e., cosmology, physics, neuroscience, the social sciences, etc.) which may run afoul of creationists and funamentalists. This would also implicate a broader swath of the scientific commuinity so that professional societies from other sciences could play a role in the incipient anti-wedge movement. I don’t think you just want evolutionary biology societies doing this alone. THey can easily be dismissed as just defending their dogma. We need solidarity among all the sciences and there is a good basis for that in our common reliance on secular methods of inquiry and evaluation of data and theories.

Also where it sets these 5 year objectives: “Thirty published books on design…

Such a pompous and stupid document. If there is already a large body of scientific knowledge one can talk of applying it to real life and going a little further one can talk of commercialising something that has been engineered. Otherwise how ever can anyone set goals like these? And the entire crowd bought into this? Take any group of scientists and imagine someone dishing out trash like this. Substitue wedge with string theory, strong-electroweak unification, brane theory. Dash it even biofuels don’t get talked about like this.

There isn’t much specific effort of taking this home to the creationist feeding grounds:

“6) The societies should seek out religious leaders from across the spectrum and work with them to understand the motivations of religious attacks and to alleviate the religious public’s misconception that evolutionary biology is part of a conspiracy to undermine “family values” and to promote a hedonistic, morality-free society.”

Alas, the ID issue isn’t about science. And it won’t be beaten by science.

This is a political fight, and it must be won by political means. Were it not for the political support of the Republicrat Party, no one would be paying the slightest attention to the IDers. Separate them from that political support, and they become as powerless and ignorable as are the HIV-deniers or the Flat Earthers.

And yes, that means the Republicrats will need to lose every election in which they run a fundie nutter as a candidate.

Every one.

Why isn’t there something in there about the need to overthrow the “cultural legacies” of theism? ;)

They should have added some five year objectives:

  • Thirty books published on evolution and its implications
  • One hundred scientific, academic and techncal articles
  • Significant coverage in national media:
    • Cover story on major news magazine such as Time or Newsweek
    • PBS show such as Nova treating evolution fairly
    • Regular press coverage on developments in evolution
    • Favorable op-ed pieces and columns on evolution by 3rd party media
  • Scientific achievements:
    • An active evolutionary biology movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US
    • Ten SSE members teaching at major universities
    • Two universities where evolutionary biology has become the dominant view
    • Evolution becomes a key concept in the social sciences. Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on evolution

Must get working on this… oh sod it, I’ll have another coffee instead.

Bob

Creationism is not only a problem in the US either. There is growing concern about nonsense being taught as science in science classes in the UK as well. So I think any ‘anti wedge’ strategy should be an international cooperation.

The document is titled “Countering the Wedge: A multi-pronged, multi-year strategy to oppose creationism and intelligent design in the science curriculum of public schools”

If it is multi-pronged then perhaps it could be called “The Trident Document”.

rossum

Mike Rogers: Unfortunately, some of those other areas (particularly neuroscience and the social studies of religion and genuine economics) are going to run afoul of yet other people’s religious (and, what amounts to the same thing, some extreme economic) beliefs. Let them, as far as I am concerned, but it may short term provoke more counterreaction.

Tim Hague: Certainly, as one of the merits of science itself is its universalistic character.

Jim Harrison Wrote:

What’s missing from the goal is the most important bullet:

To ensure that evolutionary biology is effectively taught in public schools.

And the too often neglected corollary:

“To correct the media-fed common false caricature of evolution and related common misconceptions that rapidly replace nearly everthing most students learn about evolution.”

IMO, it’s those misconceptions (evolution rules out God, justifies “might makes right” etc.) more than anything that leave most people vulnerable to anti-evolution propaganda.

Interesting, but I can’t help thinking that this document is asking for trouble. It may become a source for creationist quote-mining or it may simply be waved in people’s faces with assertions that evolution is a political ploy and not real science. It also misses the current “critical analysis” incarnation of creationism. Perhaps if it wasn’t called the Anti-Wedge Document, it would be better received by scientists and educators. Anyway, aren’t ID’ers already distancing themselves from the Wedge Document?

Did Landis have an anti-wedge in his skin-tight cycling shorts?

Anyway, aren’t ID’ers already distancing themselves from the Wedge Document?

How can they? They WROTE the damn thing.

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

How can they? They WROTE the damn thing.

Simple. Do you know of any other group so determined to have everything both ways?

They are indeed masters of Orwellian doublethink.

Now, Lenny, you know perfectly well that the Discovery Institution for the Criminally Stupid has stated that, while they wrote and distributed the Wedge Document, it was only meant as a fundraising tool. That is, it’s design to convince religious nuts that the DI is composed of religious nuts, but they are nothing of the sort! Really! They were lying to the religious nuts to get money!

Wait, isn’t that fraud? Good thing they aren’t an organization devoted to, say, the renewal of culture, I might accuse them of hypocracy for lying like that instead of practicing the morals they preach.

They tell the religious nuts that they are religious nuts and tell the people who are not religious nuts that they are not religious nuts! But, because they are so honest, we can trust them when they tell us they are lying in the first part.

Yes, indeed, they do speak with forked tongue.

Fortunately for us, that makes it SOOOOO much easier to fry their ass in court. With their own words.

That’s the one thing I lvoe most about fundies —– they simply cannot shut their mouths.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on August 7, 2006 12:58 PM.

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