This Worm Has Turned

| 58 Comments

Imagine that you are a Ph.D. candidate in biology. You aren’t doing anything with charismatic megafauna; your focus is on invertebrates. Worms, really. But you’ve done some work on figuring out how worms move through substrate. It is good work, and you’ve been published in Nature on the topic. That’s all pretty cool.

Then, you find out that your research has been used as a prime exhibit in a political campaign to advance “intelligent design” and “teach the controversy” positions. That’s not cool.

Kelly Dorgan, though, has her own message about the misuse of her work, one that she has sent to the Ohio Board of Education, and that she has graciously given permission to be published here. Read it below the fold.

One would hope that politicians seeking to understand science education would turn to people who know what they are talking about, and avoid propaganda outlets. In Ohio, the propaganda has been dished out in large quantities by SEAO and the Discovery Institute. Fortunately, there are many science faculty at Ohio’s universities who have taken the time to advise non-scientists on the Ohio State Board of Education; they have made themselves available as a resource. There are professional scientific organizations in Ohio whose goal is better science education for students. Between these resources, a politician who wants to get serious about improving science education in Ohio has many choices in getting good advice.

Kelly Dorgan Wrote:

Dear Ohio School Board Members:

It has been brought to my attention that my research has been cited by Susan Haverkos on her campaign website http://www.electhaverkos.com/issues.html. [This link is now dead, though Google cache still had it as of 2006/11/09. – WRE] Ms. Haverkos seems to have misunderstood my research and I would like clarify a few points.

Contrary to Ms. Haverkos’ assertions, my work does NOT in any way challenge Darwin’s theory of evolution; in fact, my work on worm burrowing illustrates an outstanding example of convergent evolution. I have found that burrowers across many animal phyla exert forces in similar ways and have evolved to have a wedge shape and/or anatomies allowing exertion of large forces to propagate a crack. Without an understanding of the theory of evolution, I would not be able to explain this similarity across unrelated animals.

Although Darwin is most famous today for his theory of evolution, he spent his life studying biology and observing animals in their natural environments. One of his observations, published in his short book “The formation of vegetable mould through the actions of worms,” was that by burrowing, earthworms mix soil, turning over a patch of dirt amazingly quickly and altering the composition of the dirt. He is known as the ‘father of bioturbation’, the mixing of soils by animals important in both marine and terrestrial environments and still an important area of research because of the implications to carbon burial, nutrient regeneration, and fate of pollutants in marine environments. Darwin’s major contribution was to identify the importance of this process, and to explain the mechanism, he proposed the idea that worms were eating their way through the soil. Because no alternative hypotheses had been proposed until recently, his hypothesis of how worms move has held up for over 100 years. My background in physical ecology enabled me to more closely examine the mechanism of burrowing and to develop a new hypothesis that is supported by data I have collected. My research does not challenge Darwin’s main idea that bioturbation is an important ecological process, but builds on his theory by explaining the mechanics. My work is, if anything, a tribute to Darwin, in advancing a field of research that he started in 1881. As a scientist, I hope that 100 years from now students are still building on my research as I have built on Darwin’s.

I find it very disturbing that my research has been grossly misinterpreted to support the idea of intelligent design. Intelligent design is NOT a testable hypothesis and therefore has no place in science classrooms. Ms. Haverkos points out the importance of challenging theories, which I fully support. However, the way scientists challenge theories is by generating alternative TESTABLE hypotheses and collecting data to TEST those hypotheses. Students of science should certainly be taught to ask questions and to challenge established ideas, but they should be taught to do so using the scientific method. In addition, in order to generate intelligent questions that can advance the field of biology, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the field. The theory of evolution explains a tremendous amount of scientific data and there are currently NO other viable theories to explain those data that withstand scientific tests. Telling students to challenge an established theory without either presenting a testable alternative hypothesis or specifically encouraging students to develop their own testable alternative hypothesis confuses them not only about the theory itself, but about the entire process of doing science.

I hope the Ohio School Board will consider my research for what it is: a significant advance in a field started 125 years ago by Charles Darwin that has no greater relationship to his theory of evolution than does any other branch of biology. Darwin’s theory of evolution is an important component in my research, as it is in most aspects of biology. Natural selection has favored burrowers who are able to move with the least energy used; by understanding the mechanism of burrowing, we are beginning to see the extent of evolutionary convergence toward burrowing efficiency.

Thank you again for your interest in my research and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss my research further.

Sincerely,

Kelly Dorgan Ph.D. Candidate University of Maine School of Marine Sciences

58 Comments

Good for you, Kelly!

BTW, I was surprised to read of the belief that earthworms eat their way through the soil. If you hold an earthworm in your hand and it tries to get between your fingers it can exert considerable force.

you go girl

Ms. Dorgan was much more restrained than I might have been in a similar situation. But then again, she hasn’t (yet) been classed among the “arrogant paranoid scientists” by a (now thankfully departing) member of the Ohio State Board of Education.

RBH

Yes. Thank you so much. I wish that link wasn’t dead so that I could get a better look at how the quote-mined and misappropriated the research.

What a temperate and thoughtful communication. An appropriate response to an unusual and disconcerting situation. I would love to know what answer she received.

I wouldn’t have been one-third as polite.

Remember that IDers and other creationists consider convergent evolution an example of ‘creation’ and something which cannot be explained by Darwinian evolution. Salvador Cordova seems to be a strong proponent of such a position. Not surprisingly, his position seems as flawed as his many other ‘scientific’ position when it comes to evolution.

This is an excellent piece. I wonder if some traditional newspapers in Ohio could be convinced to publish it.

Salvador Cordova seems to be a strong proponent of such a position. Not surprisingly, his position seems as flawed as his many other ‘scientific’ position when it comes to evolution.

It’s not surprising because Sal Cordova is a lying idiot who will do or say just about anything if he thinks it will increase the likelihood that some kid will “accept Christ.”

It’s great to see a scientist like Kelly speaking out against the liars at the Discovery Institute and elsewhere. I encourage scientists to speak out against the liars continuously and vociferously whenever the opportunity presents itself. There are quite a lot of opportunities, as we know.

And it’s important – exceedingly important – to heap as much ridicule and scorn as possible on these individuals. Keep them under the microscope and make them sweat until they become dehydrated and wither away. By all means do not give these lying sociopaths a cool rock to hide under, as some well-meaning but naive scientists have done in the past.

By the way, does anybody know if the UC Berkeley IDEA Club has folded? The website doesn’t work anymore. Maybe the Discovery Institute needs to send one of their hot young superstars to Berkeley to fire up the gullible twits on campus. Surely they don’t want Phil Johnson to go to his grave believing that his grand ideas were being shunned by his apostles …

wow …i certainly would like to read that paper out of curiosity

Brightmoon, you mean the Nature paper? The website linked at the top of this page has a link to a PDF of the Nature paper as well as a “supplimentary video”.

And it’s important — exceedingly important — to heap as much ridicule and scorn as possible on these individuals. Keep them under the microscope and make them sweat until they become dehydrated and wither away. By all means do not give these lying sociopaths a cool rock to hide under, as some well-meaning but naive scientists have done in the past.

I really think we have to be careful about the amount of scorn and ridicule you place on others out of human decency. As the Rev. Lenny and I both posted in elsewhere (see Haggard post) we believe this is a boxing match and you have to bloody your opponent. But you also have to respect your opponent and his means. He might be a lying cheating scum (read Wells, Behe, etc.) but you have to treat them with a modicum of respect. If you don’t, that middle group of people that waffles will never be ours. You have to out them as sociopaths and you must show and prove that they are hypocrites who need to cast the mote from their own eyes before they remove the mote from others’ eyes. No rocks to hide under. But that does not mean to treat them as animals. IMOH

I didn’t get anything at http://idea.berkeley.edu/ either. Perhaps they’re retooling as the Teach the Controversy Center. (motto: Intelligent Design is Not Creationism Teach the Controversy is not Intelligent Design)

But you also have to respect your opponent and his means. He might be a lying cheating scum (read Wells, Behe, etc.) but you have to treat them with a modicum of respect. If you don’t, that middle group of people that waffles will never be ours.

Sure. That’s why Republicans won Congress in last week’s election: because PZ Myers is very careful to avoid pissing off “that middle group of people that waffles.” Right? Is that the logic?

Let me teach you something: your script was provided to you by Republicans and self-identifying Democratic Party LOSERS. Crumple it up and throw it in the trash and consider yourself educated. This “middle group of people that waffles” hates to be made a fool of, just like every other idiot.

The solution is to continue to make fools out of idiots, until they learn to keep their mouths shut, i.e., until they learn that anybody who claims that “scientists are hiding from the truth about evolutionary biology” is a liar or a moron.

Peter said: “But that does not mean to treat them as animals.”

There is a difference between ridiculing their ideas and ridiculing them personally.

But it is very difficult to not criticize the character of people who will tell any lie to advance their cause.

We should offer no quarter to their campaign of misinformation and deliberate deceit, we should call them on every lie.

As for “the people who waffle”, we will not win them over by being nice to the loonies, nor (I think) will we lose them by being mean to the loonies. To win them over we must become better at communicating our own position. The weight of evidence will prevail, as long as we can communicate it effectively.

So, now I’m really intrigued. What’s the alternate hypothesis to worm movement?

So, now I’m really intrigued. What’s the alternate hypothesis to worm movement?

Teleportation.

God destroys the worm and then re-creates it at the target location.

Nice post, and a nicely temperate riposte my Ms Dorgan. One small quibble: if you follow the link (“Why I oppose intelligent design”) from Ms Dorgan’s own website to this page http://www.marine.maine.edu/~jumars[…]rgan/ID.html you’ll see that her letter is specifically addressed to “Dear Susan Haverkos and Members of the Ohio Board of Education” and not just to the board as you have it above. As S Haverkos was directly addressed, there is thus a direct obligation on her to respond. If she hasn’t she should be pressed to - perhaps by the board. Has she in fact given any response?

Oops - “my” = “by”. My fingers often think they know better than me, but occasionally they’re wring.

Teleportation.

Somehow…I’m not thinking that is really a testable hypothesis…

Jed:

Teleportation.

Somehow…I’m not thinking that is really a testable hypothesis…

Yes, well, us teleportationists are interested in matching your pathetic level of detail.

Somebody had to say it.

aren’t.

Blew that joke, didn’t I.

Let’s get this straight. Registered user said, to heap as much ridicule and scorn as possible on these individuals. I said but you have to treat them with a modicum of respect. I think there is a difference between treating people with scorn and simply being a jerk to them. That does not get you very far. It might “rally your base,” but you see what happens when you do that. I am far from a middle-of-the-road type Mr./Ms. Registered User. Please do not condescend to me that you are somehow politically elevated and I am not. If you want to assume that I want to appease lying hypocrites, then you have not attended to my posting at all. I really felt bad for Bill Buckingham when he was outed on the stand. Right. Read what I said. I said “treat them with a modicum of respect.” Heaping scorn upon these individuals, in tone, is considerably different from heaping scorn on their ideas or showing them to be the liars that they are. I think that Ken Miller, Kevin Padian, and Barbara Forrest - three decidedly different people - have all managed in most of their work against IDers to be polite and respectful in person. Watch the AEI debate from last fall where Ken Miller and Paul Nelson have to share a stage. They are so congenial that Miller helps Nelson move through his slideshow. But Miller ripped Nelson apart. His logical argument and his ethical stance are so clear that he needn’t “heap scorn” upon Nelson. He exposes Nelson’s shoddy and thin nonsense for what it is. In fact, the courtroom tactics at Dover by Rothschild et al worked out very well. They were polite AND incredulous. The effect: they turned over every rock to dismantle every lie (with the obvious help of the people at PT/NCSE). Damn straight. But they did it all in a classy way. No “Nelson is a liar!” or “Behe is a sham!” in the courtroom. They lead themselves to their own demises. We can just make it obvious. So don’t think that I’m waffling and playing kid gloves. That group in the middle is hard to get. You can’t get all of them. But some of us have been there and moved. Why did some of us move that way? Because we saw the reasoned arguments of people who also knew how to treat other people. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that respecting your opponent is the same as letting them off the hook.

My own experience with this kind of social conflict leads me to agree with Peter. As a general rule of thumb, one-third of the voting public is immovably on the left and one-third is immovably on the right. A letter like Kelly’s (which I thought was extraordinary, and which I am going to give to my evolutionary biology class to read) will have no real influence on either of these groups however it was written. But if the last six years have showed us anything it is that the outcome of elections hinge on what the middle one-third of the voting public decides. (OK, yes, as well as how effectively your campaign machine can perpetrate election fraud, but that’s a different issue.) And time and again we see that people are turned off by arrogance, hubris, and mean-spirited vindictiveness.

I am NOT saying that we should respect lies, incorrect statements about science, bad science, bad opinion surveys, or attempts to fool people. We SHOULD go on the attack whenever and wherever we find the misuse of information in an effort to con the middle one-third. But I think we will be more effective if we take the tone shown by Kelly. Don’t give them the opportunity to duck answering the real questions about why they quote-mine, repeat disproven arguments ad nauseum, pretend to knowledge they do not have, and fail to produce positive evidence (let alone positive hypotheses) for their beliefs. And giving them that opportunity is exactly what we do when we act in a way that lets them shift the debate from our evidence to our behavior.

Sure, I get blood lust just like everyone else, but I’ve learned that acting like a jerk doesn’t add support to my position; rather, it deflects attention from my position. So I think Kelly’s letter demonstrates two key characteristics that will prevent the Christofascists from winning: clearly, forcefully calling them on their lies, and doing it without unnecessary meanness.

Peter don’t take what RU said so hard, I said something very similar to you many many moons ago and his quip was to remind me what Judge Jones said about the lying $o$!#u$!e*#.

Let’s get this straight. Registered user said, to heap as much ridicule and scorn as possible on these individuals. I said but you have to treat them with a modicum of respect. I think there is a difference between treating people with scorn and simply being a jerk to them. That does not get you very far. It might “rally your base,” but you see what happens when you do that. I am far from a middle-of-the-road type Mr./Ms. Registered User. Please do not condescend to me that you are somehow politically elevated and I am not. If you want to assume that I want to appease lying hypocrites, then you have not attended to my posting at all. I really felt bad for Bill Buckingham when he was outed on the stand. Right. Read what I said. I said “treat them with a modicum of respect.” Heaping scorn upon these individuals, in tone, is considerably different from heaping scorn on their ideas or showing them to be the liars that they are. I think that Ken Miller, Kevin Padian, and Barbara Forrest - three decidedly different people - have all managed in most of their work against IDers to be polite and respectful in person. Watch the AEI debate from last fall where Ken Miller and Paul Nelson have to share a stage. They are so congenial that Miller helps Nelson move through his slideshow. But Miller ripped Nelson apart. His logical argument and his ethical stance are so clear that he needn’t “heap scorn” upon Nelson. He exposes Nelson’s shoddy and thin nonsense for what it is. In fact, the courtroom tactics at Dover by Rothschild et al worked out very well. They were polite AND incredulous. The effect: they turned over every rock to dismantle every lie (with the obvious help of the people at PT/NCSE). Damn straight. But they did it all in a classy way. No “Nelson is a liar!” or “Behe is a sham!” in the courtroom. They lead themselves to their own demises. We can just make it obvious. So don’t think that I’m waffling and playing kid gloves. That group in the middle is hard to get. You can’t get all of them and really getting many of them is unrealistic because, by and large, they just aren’t attending to this issue (or lots of others). But some of us have been there and moved. Why did some of us move that way? Because we saw the reasoned arguments of people who also knew how to treat other people. Early in college, I started reading Stephen Jay Gould because I wanted to know more about what I was learning in my general education science class on the Environment, Ecology and Evolution. Before that, I was one of the many sleepy middle on this subject. But I woke up because of Dr. Gould and my professor who was a reasonable and polite man who approached creationist questions politely and very clearly. He did not disdain those students but made it very clear that they were posing unscientific arguments. That was invigorating. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that respecting your opponent is the same as letting them off the hook.

woah. sorry about that. it was saying it didn’t post and then did. wierd.

Teleportation.

Somehow…I’m not thinking that is really a testable hypothesis…

Actually, teleportation is eminently testable, or at least “investigatable” ( as are ghosts, bigfoot, alien abductions, psychic pets, Noah’s flood and bending spoons with your mind ).

It bears repeating that science has nothing against magical stuff happening per se. In fact, science would actually like to discover some new phenomenon because it would be a cool new thing to explore - the more mysterious the better.

The problem isn’t that science refuses to look under the supernatural rock, the problem is that time after time we flip it over and never actually find anything there, so sooner or later serious investigators loose interest and wander away to work on real issues.

I find it odd that people brag about how politically aware they are, but then cite victories in courtrooms or “debates” as proof that their political theories hold water.

Try again, my friend. The fact is that if you are honest and correct about your opponent’s failings, you (and more importantly, *your political agents*) are free to heap it on. Just be careful about bringing the spouses and children into it. Other than that, the idea that mercilessly destroying your opponent’s credibility and reputation is somehow detrimental to your cause is, well, silly.

I find it odd that people brag about how politically aware they are, but then cite victories in courtrooms or “debates” as proof that their political theories hold water.

Try again, my friend. The fact is that if you are honest and correct about your opponent’s failings, you (and more importantly, *your political agents*) are free to heap it on. Just be careful about bringing the spouses and children into it. Other than that, the idea that mercilessly destroying your opponent’s credibility and reputation is somehow detrimental to your cause is, well, silly.

The idea that mercilessly destroying your opponent’s credibility and reputation is somehow detrimental to your cause is, well, silly.

And the idea that how we go about destroying someone’s credibility and reputation doesn’t matter when we are trying to convince others of the correctness of our arguments is, well, naive. Logic, facts, and testable hypotheses are not enough to win a debate. If they were, the entire creationist line of BS would have disappeared a hundred years ago. I am not saying, nor do I think Peter is saying, that we ought to equivocate and not shine a bright light on the lies, deception, misrepresentations of the creationists. But we will not win if we act like bullies while doing so. It will only make them look like sympathetic figures.

RU, You haven’t cited a single thing to support your side. Since when is supplying evidence of your “victories” a bad thing? I’ve been under the impression that we are posting to a message board that values logic and is, for the most part, about scientific matters. Evidence is good right? If you want to rail me for my political naivete then you please gather some evidence on the subject insead of simply asserting that I am “silly.” Counter my arguments by marshalling an evidence-based argument instead of flippant invective like “consider yourself educated.” About what exactly? You state, “the idea that mercilessly destroying your opponent’s credibility and reputation is somehow detrimental to your cause is, well, silly.” You’re right. I didn’t say that. Read again. You can destroy someone’s credibility by dissecting their arguments and showing them for the liars that they are. And as Steve T said, it absolutely matters how you do it. Being rude (as you have been to me and, I think, Steve T) is detrimental because it invites people to change the subject to your behaviour instead of the facts of the matter. To bring this back to the subject of this thread, Kelly Dorgan’s reponse is so effective because she unequivocally demolishes her opponents’ position(s) AND she did it so graciously. She is a rhetorical model for us all. Correct. Unflinching. Polite. Really, the kind of no-holds-barred attitude you seem to be advocating (though it’s hard to tell because you haven’t used an actual example yet) is more akin to Karl Rove’s cynical position which simply appeals to “the base” of which, in the case of evolutionary theory and its position in schools, you and I are probably members. But that constant drumbeat for the base doesn’t pay off in the long run because it is alienating and will likely undercut itself with its own hubris and arrogance. History shows this. An example: the results of the last election.

Steve T

Logic, facts, and testable hypotheses are not enough to win a debate.

Uh, what debate?

You can destroy someone’s credibility by dissecting their arguments and showing them for the liars that they are.

Right. And all these really sensitive important people “in the middle” are paying attention to the substance of the arguments?

Dream on, bro’.

Really, the kind of no-holds-barred attitude you seem to be advocating … is more akin to Karl Rove’s cynical position which simply appeals to “the base” of which, in the case of evolutionary theory and its position in schools, you and I are probably members.. But that constant drumbeat for the base doesn’t pay off in the long run because it is alienating and will likely undercut itself with its own hubris and arrogance. History shows this. An example: the results of the last election.

There is so much in there that is wrong it’s hard to know where to begin.

First of all, there is nothing “cynical” about Karl Rove’s appeals to the fundie base. If you think that the fundies who Rove successfully has appealed to in the past suddenly started voting for Democratic Party candidates because they became convinced by “reasoned” arguments about evolution, you’re sadly mistaken.

The moronic “undecided” stooges who voted for Democratic Party candidates did so because of the Iraq wars and a lack of confidence in the Bush Administration and Republicans. Where did that lack of confidence come from? Was it Limbaugh and O’Reilly and Hannity’s shrillness that turned voters off to the Republican Party?

My gob, you better guess again if you think that’s the case because you ain’t seen nothing yet from those slime merchants. Whoever Saint McCain runs against is going to get Gored.

I am not advocating calling people lying sacks of human garbage when they are, in fact, simply deluded (like most Americans). But the Discovery Institute is still in business and, sadly, it is not yet a widely recognized national joke. It’s employees are still consulted by the media and treated as if they were credible human beings. That must stop and it’s not going to stop without non-stop relentless ridicule and scorn. THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE – do you understand? THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE. Why is there is downside?

Because we have the facts on our side. Or are you confused about that?

Did everybody catch Richard Dawkins on C-SPAN telling Liberty University students and professors right to their face that their university is a sick joke and if any of them had any respect for education they’d go elsewhere?

That was beautiful. It was a big fat slap in their fundie faces.

Why is it important to make sure that everybody thinks “fundie moron” the moment they hear the words “Liberty University”? Because the pathological lying screwballs that are getting “degrees” from that Retard Factory are lined up for internships in DC and everywhere else.

Don’t blink.

I intend to move the generic “how much should we diss them; let me count the ways” argument to the Bathroom Wall soon, so consider this an invitation to keep comments topical here.

Here’s what Susan Haverkos had on the campaign website:

I know the political climate of this race, and I will have to be labeled either a evolutionist or a creationist/Intelligence design proponent (by some). I found this interesting article, which sums up my viewpoint.

Recently published in Popular Science Magazine was an article titled “The Fifth Annual Brilliant 10”, a review of 10 top young scientists. Brilliance, they define as: “marked by insight, creativity and tenacity. It’s the confidence to eschew established wisdom in order to develop your own. It’s the foolishness needed to set out for the edge of understanding and sail right past it.”

The article introduced a 26-year-old Ph.D. candidate Kelly Dorgan. Ms. Dorgan questioned Darwin’s theory that worms move through the ground by eating dirt. She proved Mr. Darwin’s 120-year-old theory was wrong and her scientific finding has changed scientists’ understanding of the entire underground ecosystem.

She challenged a theory. What if she had been told, “We only teach Darwin’s theories, and you can’t question it”. Worms would still have to “eat dirt”. If she were a student in Ohio, she would have been taught to accept what she was taught, it’s the truth, and that all there is. But somewhere in her education she was taught to question, to be creative, to have tenacity.

That has a ring of truth about it in a truly Orwellian sense, like Free Speech Zones; the Middle Class Tax Cuts; No Child Left Behind; the New Freedom Initiative; the Clear Skies Act; the Data Quality Act; the Patriot Act;Compassionate Conservatism; War is Peace; Poverty is Wealth; Sickness is Health; Global Meltdown is Climate Change;Honesty is Lying. Lets see if the others are any better.

She challenged a theory. What if she had been told, “We only teach Darwin’s theories, and you can’t question it”. Worms would still have to “eat dirt”. If she were a student in Ohio, she would have been taught to accept what she was taught, it’s the truth, and that all there is. But somewhere in her education she was taught to question, to be creative, to have tenacity.

Notice that Intelligent Design “theory” had nothing whatever to do with her discovery. Indeed, there has not been a single scientific discovery, of any note, in any area of science, at any time in the past 100 years, as the result of Intelligent Design “theory”.

I wonder why that is . … . . ?

She challenged a theory. What if she had been told, “We only teach Darwin’s theories, and you can’t question it”.

This is a straw man. No one is suggesting that students not be allowed to question Darwin’s or anyone else’s theories. However, allowing students to ask honest questions is one thing. Mandating teachers include a bunch of ignorant nonsense masquerading as science in the curriculum is quite another.

I’m glad to see how much discussion my letter has sparked.

Here’s a good argument for being polite to these people… this is from an email I got a couple days ago:

“Ms. Dorgan, Your mentors appear to have done an excellent job of indoctrinating you with Darwinism. It always amazes me how evolutionists jump to defend themselves when someone uses their research conclusions to critique macroevolution…”

I’m being accused of being defensive, simply for trying to clear up a misinterpretation of my research. Had I used scorn and ridicule in my letter, this might have been a legitimate criticism that this person could have used to move the discussion away from the science to my poor behavior.

Were I to respond to this email, I could point out the humor in being first praised for ‘challenging a theory’ then accused of being ‘indoctrinated.’ But I think I’ll just let it go, as this person is clearly one of the third whose mind is not going to change.

I think the biggest advantage these ID people have is the fact that the majority of people don’t understand how the scientific method works and the best way we as scientists can fight back is to explain science as a process, not an end result. That makes us more interesting to the general public, and gives the ID side very little to say.

This can only possibly be the Kelly Dorgan I went to school with for two years waaay back in the day, so I gotta give you a huge thumbs up for standing up to the misapplication of your research, and for getting so far that you have research to be misapplied (if that second part makes any sense).

Re “I’m being accused of being defensive,’

Seems to me that when one (or one’s work) is being attacked, setting up a defense is a natural (i.e., evolved?) reaction.

Henry

Congratulations to Ms. Dorgan.

But–if there indeed is a group of folks out there (“a third,” whatever proportion they might amount to) whose minds are unchangeable, I see no great benefit in withholding our scorn simply to preserve the semblance of civility.

If you find yourself chatting with–or are addressing yourself to–folks who show some sign of being amenable to reason and evidence, fine, be polite.

Likewise, if you’re not yet sure whether the folks you’re talking to might prove amenable to reason and evidence.

But once the troll–or anti-evolution obsessive–has had his or her one bite? Nah.

In trial lawyer terms–popular fiction and cinema notwithstanding–juries very rarely appreciate the naked suggestion that a witness or party is lying. The lawyer (like the scientist) is too often laboring under the suspicion of arrogance, bias, taking good money to do work with no clear benefit, etc. So it behooves one to bend over backward to be polite to witnesses, judges, court staff, and so forth.

Until the witness has oh-so-politely been maneuvered into showing himself or herself to BE a liar. Once that point has been reached, jurors –or judges, where they are acting as fact-finders, as we found with Judge Jones in the Kitzmiller trial, once it had become plain to him that the head of the schoolboard was a liar–have no problem whatsoever with the gloves coming off, or with relishing the lying witness’s further excoriation…

Now, some people simply aren’t comfortable with meting out this kind of punishment. Fine. And some venues may not be appropriate places for the less-than-polite approach. That’s fine, too.

But to mandate that, at no time and place, and with no lying scumbag, no matter how “deserving,” may a little straightforward verbal thrashing be administered…?

Nah.

Good for you, Ms. Dorgan, and best of luck in your research. I wouldn’t pay Ms. Haverkos much mind… yes she’s contradicting herself by calling you “indoctrinated” but cognitive dissonance is a way of life for proponents of intelligent design.

What irks me is that she actually got elected. I fear for the children of Ohio.

I wrote about this on my blog, I hope that’s okay. The I.D. nonsense has been a pet peeve of mine for some time now.

fnxtr: Yes, well, us teleportationists aren’t interested in matching your pathetic level of detail.

OK…Somehow it feels like I’m being attacked. Not sure why, or exactly the point you’re trying to get across…

My interest still remains- anyone have more information, getting back to the science, on the alternate hypothesis to Annelid burrowing that the author claims?

Stevaroni: Actually, teleportation is eminently testable, or at least “investigatable”

Oh, agreed. My point was actually in responding to the previous authors suggestion that the teleportation occured by an act of God. That part is less testable.

Though I would suppose that teleportation is more testable than something like a ghost, i.e. there’s more of a link to it in the natural world and with quantum physics there’s at least the possibility of it one day.

She challenged a theory. What if she had been told, “We only teach Darwin’s theories, and you can’t question it”. Worms would still have to “eat dirt”. If she were a student in Ohio, she would have been taught to accept what she was taught, it’s the truth, and that all there is. But somewhere in her education she was taught to question, to be creative, to have tenacity.

Yes, we only teach theories that are legitimate.

IDists unfortunately don’t understand how ideas are properly challenged. Usually it is done by using well-established scientific methods and theories to come up with a new result, thus to challenge an accepted belief. Ms. Dorgan thus uses evolutionary theory and Darwin’s ideas of bioturbation, plus additional knowledge of physiology, in order to come up with a concept that brings all three into agreement. She needs to build upon this kind of knowledge rather than to tear down well-established scientific results.

Now of course even well-established theories are believed to be theoretically vulnerable to sound scientific questioning. Many, though, do not fall in any of the tests made upon them, and they become better guides (often being honed, perhaps even some elements “disproven”) to discovery as time marches on. This means that these ideas ought to be taught in schools, for they embody the proper methods of science that will be needed even for one to be able to challenge any long-standing scientific theories (plus, one really needs to understand any scientific concept that one challenges, much much more thoroughly than any IDist we have seen does).

What seems to animate Haverkos’s “argument” (I have to guess, since I can’t read the piece) is the fiction that Darwin himself is not allowed to be “challenged” in the schools. Of course that is the tired old projection of their own belief in authority onto the practice of science, which is theoretically opposed to all such “authority” (in practice authority does hold significant sway in science, but that’s just an unavoidable human weakness). Indeed, this is why in the US we often try not to call the substantially modified present-day understanding of the processes of evolution “Darwinism” or “Darwin’s theory”, for we are not beholden to his writings or beliefs, but only to shared practices of science and acceptance of well-supported scientific models.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

I think the biggest advantage these ID people have is the fact that the majority of people don’t understand how the scientific method works and the best way we as scientists can fight back is to explain science as a process, not an end result.

Alas, though, this simply isn’t a fight about science. It’s a fight about political power — who gets to have it, and what they get to do with it once they’ve got it. The fundies don’t give a rat’s patootie about science, and, sadly, neither does the American public. Whether we like it or not, nobody in the US is going to lift their little finger to “defend science education”. Most people don’t know a prokaryote from a pachyderm, and don’t care. And after all, that simply isn’t what this fight is all about.

We can “explain how the scientific method works” until we are purple in the face, and it won’t change a thing. People are not won TO creationism because of science, and they won’t be won AWAY from it because of science either. ID/creationism is a POLITICAL movement. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. It has virtually nothing to do with “science”.

If we try to turn this into a “scientific argument”, then we just play right into the fundies’s hands. They desperately NEED to present this as “just a scientific disagreement”, since they know that nobody supports their theocratic POLITICAL goals, and they do their very best to avoid talking about them.

And that is their fatal weakness.

this is from an email I got a couple days ago

From my Creation “Science” Debunked website, I get email from some fundie nutter or another every week.

My response to them is always the same:

“With all due respect, I don’t give a flying f##k about your religious opinions. (shrug)”

There’s simply no point in wasting time on them. And no point in making nice-nice with them, either.

What a beautiful letter! Thank you, Candidate Kelly Dorgan!

Jedidiah Palosaari Wrote:

Yes, well, us teleportationists aren’t interested in matching your pathetic level of detail.

OK…Somehow it feels like I’m being attacked. Not sure why, or exactly the point you’re trying to get across…

I think everyone assumed you were joking–more precisely, thought you were asking what the IDers’ hypothesis was. fnxtr was just misquoting Dembski at you.

My interest still remains- anyone have more information, getting back to the science, on the alternate hypothesis to Annelid burrowing that the author claims?

Fraulein Dorgan’s hypothesis is that at some worms (not sure if she covered earthworms, most of her research seems to be on marine ones) burrow by extruding their pharynx and using it as a wedge to widen cracks in the substrate. To judge from her U. Maine page, she’s now proven this pretty conclusively.

Thanks for the information! Though I remain confused. You’re right, it looks like she’s focused on Polycheates. But she seems fairly clear in her clarification letter that she addresses ideas that Darwin had on Oligocheates. So I’m not sure how she’s able to jump from one class to the other. Perhaps she’s done other research not displayed.

Can someone point me to the “pathetic level of detail” quote source?

Comment # 143764

Jedidiah Palosaari Wrote:

Comment #143764 Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on November 11, 2006 11:16 PM (e) Teleportation. Somehow…I’m not thinking that is really a testable hypothesis…

Why not? There is a growing field dealing with teleportation. Quantum Teleportation

There is even a successful experiment to teleport macro objects by Prof Eugene Polzik at Copenhagen University.

wayne, from the article you linked to:

But science fiction fans will be disappointed to learn that no one expects to be able to teleport people or other macroscopic objects in the foreseeable future, for a variety of engineering reasons, even though it would not violate any fundamental law to do so.

so, perhaps you should be more specific wrt to exactly what was accomplished by Polzik?

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on November 11, 2006 8:54 AM.

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