Note from Kansas

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I received this note from a Kansan who asked that it be posted on PT. She said Jack Krebs (head of Kansas Citizens for Science) might be too modest (or maybe he is trying to return to normal life!).

On the day after Charles Darwins’ birthday, and the day before Valentines Day, the Kansas State Board of Education delivered its much-anticipated reversal of the anti-science standards adopted in November 2005.

Although this outcome was expected after the August 2006 primary election resulted in a guaranteed moderate majority on the board, conservatives fought to the end to amend the standards to include their non-natural definition of science and their bogus evolution criticisms. Each motion to amend was defeated. Ultraconservative Ken Willard of Hutchinson requested that the board go into executive session just before the standards discussion. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, “He asked whether the state can endorse an idea that nature can be solely explained by material causes and whether the state can suppress information critical of evolution – two problems conservatives say the new standards would create, though opponents argue otherwise.” Willard never explained why no state includes supernatural explanations in its science standards, because he doesn’t like the answer: such topics are outside the domain of science.

There are a number of hard-working Kansans who deserve recognition for their efforts. First and foremost is Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, who helped mobilize other concerned Kansans to fight the many-headed Hydra known as ID. Blogger Pat Hayes of Red State Rabble (http://redstaterabble.blogspot.com) kept us succinctly yet poetically up-to-date on the latest developments, and scienceblogger Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas (http://scienceblogs.com/tfk) provided interesting political and scientific commentaries. The Kansas Alliance for Education PAC (http://www.ksalliance.org/) supported pro-science candidates for the state board of education races, and hundreds of volunteers mobilized across the state to raise money and work on their behalf. Those volunteers themselves were a decisive factor in the victory.

Obviously, the creationists aren’t going to give up and go home, and they’ll keep pushing to re-create science in their image. Five seats on the state board of education are up for re-election in 2008; four of these seats are occupied by moderates, two of whom have already decided not to run.

Reasonable, pro-science Kansans will be looking for candidates who understand that science curricula should be determined by scientists and educators, not lawyers and glorified PR firms masquerading as think tanks.

116 Comments

Bravo! “not lawyers and glorified PR firms masquerading as think tanks.”

That is what I have felt all along - the fact that we glorify the D.I. by referring to it as a “think tank” has been a matter of consternation to me for a long time. In fact it is the absolute opposite of a think tank with the notable exception that members spare no effort in thinking up ways to obfuscate, spin, and otherwise distort. The continued absence of the long-promised results of the DI’s “thinking” supports a conclusion that, although those people appear to be tanked, real thinking is a precious rare commodity.

Tom

Reasonable, pro-science Kansans will be looking for candidates who understand that science curricula should be determined by scientists and educators…

…like the scientists and educators who actually showed up, testified up, and underwent the public cross-examination at the KBOE 2005 Science Standard hearings, natch!

Next election is in 2008, next Science Standards Review is in 2012, and that same Topeka Capital-Journal reports that both sides are “gearing up.”

Like a professional political observer told the newspaper last year,

“It’s only halftime.”

Works for me.

FL

Dear FL: It’s true mainstream scientists and educators boycotted the right-wing school board’s kangaroo court in May 2005.

You forgot to mention, however, that dozens of scientists and educators did participate in four well-attended statewide hearings just a few months earlier in Feb. 2005.

The success of the pro-science speakers at those hearing and the clearly stated religious motivations of those speaking for the ID-inspired standards, written by John Calvert of the ID Network, forced the board to short circuit the curriculum development process and restrict public testimony on the standards to a group of “experts” supplied by the Discovery Institute.

The issues were debated again – this time not in the board’s rigged hearings whose outcome was never in doubt – during the Kansas elections. The ID forces stumped the state, paid for inserts in local papers, bought radio ads on Christian stations, and set up web sites.

In the end, the voters heard and responded to the message sent by moderate pro-science candidates such as Sally Cauble and Jana Shaver. Scientists and educators played a key role in the election, just as they did in the public hearings.

It may be, as you say, halftime, but to carry the battle into the second half, the ID faithful will have to file a lawsuit. That not-so-intelligently designed will not take on scientists, educators, or KCFS, but the clearly expressed intent of the voters to restore real science to the science standards.

That suit – if filed – will fail because the ID-inspired standards can’t be successfully separated from the clearly sectarian religious motivations of its backers.

Like everything else about intelligent design, the threat to sue is empty.

FL: ”…like the scientists and educators who actually showed up, testified up, and underwent the public cross-examination at the KBOE 2005 Science Standard hearings, natch!”

Were these the ones who (a) admitted they hadn’t read through the standards they were condemning? (b) - except for one - wouldn’t give an accurate number for the age of the earth? (c) denied common ancestry? (d) weren’t evolutionary biologists by any stretch of qualification?

Apparently FL is one of the Babble thumpers who would like Kansas to return to the status of international laughing stock while keeping its kids ignorant of modern science. Putz.

FL, why didn’t you just say:

“Curses! Foiled again!”

and move on?

sooo pathetic.

Re “and whether the state can suppress information critical of evolution”

Information? First, ya gotta produce that information before anybody could actually suppress it.

Ms. Shepard-Adams, it honestly doesn’t look like you’re willing to give sufficient credit to those genuine scientists and educators for the clear and large amount of expert testimony for which your evolution attorney, as well as the rest of the gang, had NOTHING by way of refutation at all.

I understand your objections, but I have some questions of my own in reference to them.

*****

(a) admitted they hadn’t read through the standards they were condemning?

My understanding is that those expert scientists and scholars who said they had not read the Science Standards in their entirety, at least read the sections relevant to their own field of expertise and said so. Would you agree?

(b) - except for one - wouldn’t give an accurate number for the age of the earth?

And do you agree that at least one scientist had to publicly remind your evolution attorney that he was asking a question totally outside the scientist’s own field of expertise? (In fact, the KBOE 2005 transcripts show multiple violations at this point on the part of your evolution attorney. Would you agree?)

c) denied common ancestry?

Did they ALL deny common ancestry? And in those situations where your evolution lawyer didn’t even ask the expert witness about common ancestry, how is it you happen to claim that such person denied it?

Also, wouldn’t the acceptance or rejection of common ancestry be Totally Irrelevant to expert witnesses like chemist Dr. Charles Thaxton whose specialty is Origin of Life and who testified SPECIFICALLY concerning the KS Origin of Life Standards? How about practicing PhD chemist John Millam, testifying about the nature of science and the KS science defintion? How is acceptance or rejection of common ancestry relevant to his historical analysis of the nature of science which went totally UNOPPOSED by your lawyer and the rest of you? Common Ancestry sure doesn’t look relevant to such presentations imo.

(d) weren’t evolutionary biologists by any stretch of qualification?

Isn’t expert witness Ralph Seelke a biology professor who teaches at Wisconsin-Superior? Are you personally qualified in any way to reject a PhD biology professor’s expert testimony under oath unless he first claims to be an evo-biologist? And why wasn’t your evolution attorney able to refute his testimony at all?

AND—- if you’re going to insist on ONLY evolutionary biologists testifying at public hearings in order to be considered qualifed to testify in such matters, are you prepared, right here and right now, to state your public rejection of the Dover testimony of Barbara Forrest, Robert Pennock, and others, seeing as they are clearly NOT evolutionary biologists?

*****

Albeit lengthy, these questions are simply meant to show the problematic nature of your objections. And again, your objections ignore a massive amount of virtually unchallenged expert witness testimony by these genuine scientists and scholars in 2005.

And of course, you personally, and your comrades in arms as well, COULD HAVE left the safety of the Internet and accepted the invitation to testify against the 2005 Kansas Science Standards and submitted your particular testimony to an honest and open cross-examination process, just like the other side clearly did.

But you didn’t do it. Didn’t even try.

Honestly, that is one of the reasons why it’s only halftime around here.

FL

shake your fist harder, FL.

“It’s only halftime.”

Based on the outcomes of previous battles between ID/Creationism and real science the outcome of “the game” is hardly in doubt. Even if the creationists board members succeed in getting their agenda on the books the ensuing legal battle would find said changes in the school curriculum unconstitutional. Therefore the creationists still lose and cost the school district a lot of money in the process. Seems to me all your side ever does is hurt public education in favor of pushing a religious agenda. By the way, do you care to tell everyone if the ID/Creationism side won any of the following legal battles.

Epperson v. Arkansas McClean v. Arkansas Segraves v. California Edwards v. Aguillard Webster v. New Lenox Peloza v. Capistrano Freiler v. Tangipahoa LeVake v. Independent S.D. Kitzmiller v. Dover

The score if you care to tally it is: good science - 9, pseudo-scientific religious crap - 0.

FL,

I have a simple question. Who backed out of testifying in a real legal case? You know, where there is a impartial judge and actual rules of evidence. Was it it IDiots or the Evilutionist.

Any self respecting chemist should know the age of the earth. Its kind of like asking an expert on China were North America is on a map. Granted, its outside their specific expertise, but it such basic knowledge that one would have to know it. The experts couldn’t give a correct answer meant that they A) ate too many paint chips when a child. B) are idiot savants. or C) are willfully ignorant any evidence and/or theory that challenges their view of the universe. I would rather have people from choice A than from choice C, be involved with setting the science standards.

As for your evolutionary biologist, Ralph Seelke, when your star witness comes from the University of Wisconsin-Superior you really are in trouble. I’m from Wisconsin. UW-Superior isn’t in the upper crust of science academia, even for the state. It falls well below UW-Steven’s Point (Smoke a joint, go to Point) and even below UW-Stout (When in Doubt, go to Stout.) I know more people who wanted to go to Platteville, rather than Superior, and who the hell would want to go to Platteville?

Just remember IDist could leave the safety of the Internet, go into a lab and actually try to get results. It is usually better to do some science, before trying to get the science you haven’t done into class rooms.

FL:”Ms. Shepard-Adams, [sic] it honestly doesn’t look like you’re willing to give sufficient credit to those genuine scientists and educators for the clear and large amount of expert testimony for which your evolution attorney, as well as the rest of the gang, had NOTHING by way of refutation at all.”

Sorry, FL. It’s up to the challengers - the ID folks - to come up with the evidence to change the status quo through the scientific venues.

Like it or not, that’s the way science works. All the ID dog-n-pony shows won’t change that fact.

As a science teacher, I’m not happy with your vicarious interference in my classroom. I resent your accusation of cowardice on my part because I didn’t encourage scientists to participate in the mockery of science that were the hearings in May 2005. I’m not hiding behind some two- or three-letter pseudonym. My name has been attached to letters to the editor, to media interviews, and to the hateful emails sent my way.

The scientists who blazed the trails of knowledge weren’t cowards, either. They had the cajones to publish their data and see their conclusions supported or refuted. They don’t hide at the Biologic Institute and refuse to discuss their work. They’re out there, on the front lines, gathering the evidence to support their contentions.

Funny how those who testified at the ID hearings haven’t done that. They’re the ones who’ve led the boycott against science. They refuse to submit their work to peer review. They conduct their business through press release and politics instead of peer review and rigor.

And you accuse me of cowardice?

Also, wouldn’t the acceptance or rejection of common ancestry be Totally Irrelevant to expert witnesses like chemist Dr. Charles Thaxton whose specialty is Origin of Life and who testified SPECIFICALLY concerning the KS Origin of Life Standards?

We better give up folks, their side has Dr. Charles Thaxton an Originoflifologist.

Although you are correct in pointing out that Evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life, just the origin of species; and even though science is close to adequately answering how the first life form arose, it really doesn’t belong in the H.S. biology curriculum.

I might also point out that the ID/Creationism side has a tendency to conflate the abiogeisis explanation for the origin of life and evolution, which make Dr. Thaxton’s opinions on evolution including common descent entirely relevent.

Is nobody bothered by the inherently anti-realist approach to science that is embodied in the science standard ?

I mean, I have no problem with this as such, but I think it is just going to confuse kids to embrace such a science standard without making it explicit. Bound to do more harm than good, given the general idea that science is synonymous with some sort of scientific realism and the “pursuit of truth” about the world.

Although let me guess, pretending an anti-realist philosophy of science is really a realist philosophy of science if being “pro-science” ?

Sorry for the cynicism.

So, sciphishow, since you brought it up – please explain to us how one can empirically test a supernatural cause.

So, sciphishow, since you brought it up — please explain to us how one can empirically test a supernatural cause

What is a “supernatural cause” Nick ?

By the way, it doesn’t bother me if they decide to adopt an anti-realist approach to science or a realist approach that admits to an incredible limitation to what science can tell us about the world.

If there is no way to empirically test such a thing, then thats fine. You are stuck at the point with one of the above. That isn’t really a problem as such.

What is a problem is when you want to claim some sort of broad scientific realism and then rule out lots of different possible means of explanation as out of bounds by fiat.

I get the impression that most kids don’t really know any philosophy of science at all and are also really ignorant of the history of science as well (heck look at the general confusion most people have over the Galileo affair and the like) .

The proposed science standard sadly appears to just continue to reinforce the confusion and misunderstanding kids have. It is sad that science has to suffer because of the fears of a bunch of religiously motivated bigots who can’t handle having their favorite philosophical presuppositions about the universe questioned, and need to rule out any competing ideas by fiat.

This was inevitable, given the outcome of last year’s state board of education elections, but it’s still nice to know that the newly elected board of education candidates followed through on their campaign promises. An interesting sidelight to this story comes from an email I received late last week. The email came from Rob Crowther of the Discovery Institute, home church of the “intelligent design movement” (yes, I’m on their mailing list; it’s always good to know what the other side is doing). In the email, Crowther railed against the new Kansas science standards, but the interesting thing is that he railed specifically against the removal of an item about the abuse of science (the rise and fall of eugenics in the 20th century and the Tuskegee syphilis study were the main examples). The email encouraged me to send an email to the board of education protesting the new standards because they included this change. Interestingly, there was no mention at all in the email of the fact that almost all of the proposed changes are to the parts of the old standards dealing with evolution and “intelligent design.” Hmm…it appears that deliberate prevarication is part and parcel of the Discovery Institute’s modus operandi. Crowther is a master propagandist, and his work in this case would have made Goebbels proud…

FL said:

If you’re going to insist on ONLY evolutionary biologists testifying at public hearings in order to be considered qualifed to testify in such matters, are you prepared, right here and right now, to state your public rejection of the Dover testimony of Barbara Forrest, Robert Pennock, and others, seeing as they are clearly NOT evolutionary biologists?

Apples and oranges. The creationist critics of evolution should be biologists because they are criticizing biology. The fact that they rarely are is very telling, as are their frequent flubbings of the facts.

Barbara Forrest, OTOH, was there to discuss ID and its inherently religious roots. She was there to expose a PR scam, not to make a scientific argument about biology.

I find it highly ironic how attentive so many Biblical Fundamentalists are to making sure that Biblical passages be read and understood in context, and yet those very same people are inattentive to the point of perceived intentional distortion when it comes to the context of what scientists have to say about evolution. “Any contextual assumption that fits their preconceptions” seems to be the rule. Come to think of it, that is very common in literalist Biblical apologetics as well. What a coincidence.

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Thanks very much for the kind words. Normal life is not here yet though: I have a TV show tomorrow and a panel discussion Saturday night. Interest is high about what happened in Kansas and what it means.

FL is a regular on the KCFS discussion forum, by the way, and we have discussed the issues he is bringing up here interminably. Don’t wear yourself out arguing with him.

And Allen MacNeill is exactly right on about the DI’s post last week about eugenics et al in the old standards. Thanks, Allen

So Kansas is a big victory because it is a defeat for the “teach the strengths and weaknesses” tactic, but the IDists in Kansas are a bit bitter, so I imagine there is more to come.

Sci Fi Show said: What is a problem is when you want to claim some sort of broad scientific realism and then rule out lots of different possible means of explanation as out of bounds by fiat.

Could you give a few examples of such explanations, how exactly they are ruled “out of bounds by fiat”, what they would explain, and the kinds of research they would spawn that current methods do not? It is easy to speak in vague general terms on this issue. The devil is in the details.

Put another way, explain what we lose by not adding the disclaimer:

“These results could have been caused by the magic sky pixie of one’s choice, but we have no way to gather evidence for or against such a hypothesis”

to every science paper.

Could you give a few examples of such explanations, how exactly they are ruled “out of bounds by fiat”, what they would explain, and the kinds of research they would spawn that current methods do not?

I can think of plenty, but I think you misunderstand the nature of the objection.

Assume for the sake of argument that the YEC’s are 100% right in their claims about the age of the earth and the universe. Again, just for the sake of argument. Any explanation that leads to that conclusion will inevitably involve the actions of a divine agent. Note I am not a YEC, i’m simply using it as a very simple and clear example.

But the standard as written would rule that explanation out of bounds and not admissible as science. Even though it would happen to be what actually happened.

Which is fine. I don’t have a problem with that per se.

What I have a problem with, is that by defining science in such a way it ceases to be a search for the truth about how the world works, and instead becomes a search for predictive power and instrumental value. This is an anti-realist approach to science.

Now it is not such an anti-realist approach I have a problem with either, that is a perfectly legitimate approach to doing science. In fact it is pretty workable really and looking at the history of science it is probably an easier case to make for how science works than the scientific realist approach. Look at Ptolemy’s astronomy as a perfect example (in hindsight) of instrumentalism in practice. The theory of epicycles is actually usefully predictive and works nicely as such. But it doesn’t reflect the way the universe is actually set out.

Where my beef stems from is that there are certain religiously motivated people who want to adopt this anti-realist approach to science, but then dishonestly pretend that they are actually adopting a scientific realist approach to the world. It is depressing that they do this, but I guess they can’t compete on a level intellectual playing field.

What I have a problem with, is that by defining science in such a way it ceases to be a search for the truth about how the world works, and instead becomes a search for predictive power and instrumental value. This is an anti-realist approach to science.

one man’s pragmatism is another man’s reality.

a search for predictive and explanatory power IS what science is all about. it’s not some mystic search for truth; perhaps that’s why most layfolk (and ALL creobots) seem to confuse it with religion so readily?

sounds like an awful lot of projection.

Who backed out of testifying in a real legal case?

LOL.

answer:

William Dembski.

TWICE.

so are you confused about what backing out means?

or are you confused about what a real court case is?

both?

I rather think you are simply, confused. It applies to everything collectively in your case. (note, just for you, FL, the word is not used here in the legal sense).

LOL.

Oh, BTW Jack, FL is a regular here too.

Keep on pressin’ on.

It is usually better to do some science, before trying to get the science you haven’t done into class rooms.

god you’re funny.

I know people who have published hundreds of articles and won numerous awards for their work in 15 years.

it’s been a lot longer than that for the idea of “intelligent design”, yet there never has been any published research, or even a testable hypothesis put forward.

If it boiled down to a graduate level thesis, the graduate student IDist would have been tossed years ago for failure to produce.

but you just keep… shaking.. that.. fist… boy!

one man’s pragmatism is another man’s reality.

If science is inherently anti-realist in orientation thats fine, but to pretend that this allows it to tell us what the world is actually like is just plain wrong, and frankly dishonest.

a search for predictive and explanatory power IS what science is all about. it’s not some mystic search for truth;

No worries. So you are a scientific anti-realist. I don’t have a problem with that. But don’t pretend if you think that, that science is telling us something about the way the world really is. You’ve already conceded that is not its purpose or direction.

Heck look at the history of the phlogiston theory of burning. It did actually work and was actually predictive. I suppose that in “one mans reality” (yours I guess based on what you have implied) that makes phlogiston real.

I guess it is unreasonable for me to be a little bit suspicious of such a claim ? Sheesh.

Assume for the sake of argument that the YEC’s are 100% right in their claims about the age of the earth and the universe. Again, just for the sake of argument. Any explanation that leads to that conclusion will inevitably involve the actions of a divine agent.

No it wouldn’t. The God Theory does not win by default. Establishing that the earth was 6,000 years old would prove evolution wrong, it would not prove the creationists right. They would be merely one of literally infinite possible just-so stories about how we all got here.

That sir, is the point. Until a theory makes accurate predictions, and better ones than other theories, it is not science. YEC theories make predictions that have been proven false over and over again, and ID makes no predictions at all. That is what makes YEC bad science, and ID not science at all. The fact that it also involves God is incidental.

I ask again, but with less demand: Give just one example of such an explanation, how exactly it is ruled “out of bounds by fiat”, what it would explain, and the kinds of research it would spawn that current methods do not?

Your example makes my point. Let’s grant FTSOA that it was valid to conclude God created the world, as the YECers have been telling us all along. Now that we know that, what do we do? What science do we now study differently, and in what exact manner?

See, the problem is you could never be sure what God would or would not do, so there is no way to predict anything using that hypothesis. It is akin to Q on Star Trek. Every problem could be him, but of what use is that hypothesis? Best to act as if he is not involved and do the best you can otherwise.

Look at Ptolemy’s astronomy as a perfect example (in hindsight) of instrumentalism in practice. The theory of epicycles is actually usefully predictive and works nicely as such. But it doesn’t reflect the way the universe is actually set out.

:Shrug:. Neither does Copernican astronomy for that matter. Newton’s gravitation isn’t it either. I suppose you could argue for the reality of a particular gauge of general-relativity, but that seems rather silly and scientifically vacuous.

Neither does Copernican astronomy for that matter. Newton’s gravitation isn’t it either. I suppose you could argue for the reality of a particular gauge of general-relativity, but that seems rather silly and scientifically vacuous.

Sure. As I have noted in the long term, for being “right about how things are” science has about the poorest possible of track records. That doesn’t make it any less useful, but it does mean that this does need to be kept in mind.

Here is a good article on the standards change.

So, FL and colleagues only want students to be taught critical thinking?? If there were an ounce of truth in that sentiment, then why restrict the critical thinking to evolution? The critical-thinking argument is a sham. As others have pointed out, what is coming from FL and colleagues is truly bluster and fist-shaking. The irony is that YECs and IDists are fighting their own caricature of the high school classroom. There is no evidence to support the notion that teachers use evolutionary biology to advance a materialist/humanist/atheist agenda. OK, back to lurking…

Katarina

rereading your post I just bumped up onto the aforementioned difference in terminology. The definition of positivism that I know of ,is that according to it :

either (strong version) there is no real :) reality and we just think and live trying our best not to die :) ( official thanatoean definition :-)) or (weak version) if there is a reality our understanding of it is only a crude model and we have really no way of really knowing.

The weak version isn’t really positivism but a blend of positivism ,realism and -literal- agnosticism.

What you mentioned is closer to the weak definition which as said not really positivism.

The irony is that YECs and IDists are fighting their own caricature of the high school classroom.

hey, have you ever tried punching an old, stale bale of straw?

It can tear up your fingers!

no wonder these IDiots get so upset.

A lot of Kansans agree with that very sentiment. They’re not looking to read Bible verses in biology class. But they do want something other than the usual uncritical canned textbook’s spoonfeeding of Darwinism in the biology class. They want more critical thinking skills stuck in there; they want the problems and weaknesses of evolution NOT glossed over; they want to make sure that the religion of materialism/naturalism is no more preached any more than Bible verses in the public school biology classroom.

FL, FL.…

With every post, you keep on demonstrating that you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. And you’re just regurgitating anti-evolutionist pap.

How do you critically think about evolution without knowing the basics? How do you do it without understanding scientific methodology? And you CLEARLY don’t understand scientific methodology if you think you have to teach weaknesses in the reigning paradigm at the high school level.

And…just how do you do non-naturalistic science?

FL, how many times have you’ve been asked this question and you’ve totally ignored it?

So, FL and colleagues only want students to be taught critical thinking??

But clearly not to THEIR ideas.

FL wants something more than uncritical canned Darwinism? I totally agree. Kansas schoolchildren should be taught that: Darwin didn’t realize inheritance was carried by genes. He certainly didn’t know genes were made of DNA. In fact, he thought cells were full of an amorphous goo called protoplasm, and never dreamed that large molecules like protein and DNA had regular structures. Darwin didn’t realize how ancient the earth really was, and didn’t know about atomic energy, so he had no idea about the tests used to measure the age of the earth and its fossils. Darwin thought the continents had always been in their present positions, making the positions of ancient fossils confusing, to say the least. Speaking of fossils, Darwin never heard of australopithecines, homo habilis, or any of the other transition fossils between apes and humans. Schoolchildren, in Kansas and elsewhere, should know that evolutionary biology is science because it has been more and more strongly supported as new facts come to light, and that Darwinism is not a religion, because when Darwin is wrong, scientists are willing to say he’s wrong and move on.

FL said:

But they do want something other than the usual uncritical canned textbook’s spoonfeeding of Darwinism in the biology class.

They want more critical thinking skills stuck in there; they want the problems and weaknesses of evolution NOT glossed over;

This is just one of many red herrings creationists like to use. No one wants the scientific criticisms and problems for evolutionary theory glossed over. These should be discussed thoroughly. What many of us object to, and apparently a majority of Kansans agree, is the introduction of unscientific ignorant criticisms of evolution by religiously motivated, nonbiologically trained individuals that amount to “I don’t see how this could be true”. There too little class time to waste on such nonsense.

But they do want something other than the usual uncritical canned textbook’s spoonfeeding of Darwinism in the biology class.

They want more critical thinking skills stuck in there; they want the problems and weaknesses of evolution NOT glossed over; they want to make sure that the religion of materialism/naturalism is no more preached any more than Bible verses in the public school biology classroom.

Charade you are FL. You would love nothing more than to see your religious viewpoint taught in school. You know very well that biology is no more philosophically materialistic/naturalistic than is forecasting the weather. You only object to it being taught because it contradicts your literal interpretation of the bible. Quit lying for God FL.

Thanatos,

If you look at the wikipedia definition and scroll down to “Modern Positivism” that is what I meant. Its “features” are listed there and if you look at the second part of number one, “.. a linguistic or numerical set of statements,” I guess that’s where the use of mathematics would come in. I’m not sure why Glen seems to think Positivism is philosophically dead. Is it because reality is so subjectively interpreted by us, even collectively, or because reality’s meaning can’t be separated from our perception? I think science is a way of at least getting to bits and pieces of reality, if not some “ultimate truth,” (and what does that mean, anyway?) reality being, maybe, confirmation of a set of perceptions about how objects interact with one another in processes.

I do not even qualify as an amateur philosopher, but I do enjoy thinking about these things. Since you and Glen seem to know much more than I, I’m hoping at least one of you will teach me something.

Katarina

you’re seeming to be doing quite well by yourself.

philosophy = philosophia = philos (friend,lover) + sophia (wisdom,true knowledge)

By definition philosophy can’t really be taught.Except perhaps only specific disciplines of it,or history of it. Keep posing yourself questions about everything as you’re seeming to be doing,keep trying to answer as you’re seeming to be doing and that’s it. Others can only point you, to already posen questions,already stated answers. That’s good since one has not infinite time.That’s bad because there is no use of the imagination. That’s not bad per se but also not good per se. The voyage,the return to the beloved Ithaca has a virtue of itself.

at your service ciao

Realism and antirealism are best understood as positions about the goal of science. IMO, if one realizes that the very idea of error presupposes some degree of realism, the debate is over.

Thanatos: Idealism sensu Plato is an ontological view, not an epistemological one, which is what realism (or antirealism) is. Plato was very much a realist; he felt you most certainly could have knowledge of the way the world (or at least the Forms) is/are.

Katarina: But science is not positivist in the correct sense of the world. Consider the case of molecular shape. No chemist I know of will deny that molecules have shape, despite this being a transphenomenal (and hence, non-positivist) hypothesis.

IMO, if one realizes that the very idea of error presupposes some degree of realism, the debate is over.

Good point, but why is the debate over? The very idea of error relies on our intuition that there is a “real,” which demonstrates… that we have an ideal.

We have to go further to find the real “real,” and match our repeated results with that of others, then design new experiments to test our interpretations, until we finally understand the process, or the shape, of the entity(ies) in question.

Do you mean transphenomenal as opposed to phenomenon “any state or process known through the senses rather than by intuition or reasoning” (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/w[…]s=phenomenon)? Why does that oppose positivism?

Thanatos: Why return to Ithaca? Not everyone has one, you know

according to modern platonic-oriented scientific thinkers there is an avenue to truth.I don’t know if you have heard of it.… It’s called Mathematics. :) It’s not an unobstructed avenue but they don’t care.

You’re awfully smarmy for an idiot who can’t even respond to anything I actually wrote. Why would I bring up the “avenue to truth” if I didn’t know about it, moron?

Whether it’s “obstructed” or not depends on where you are vis-a-vis the light. Once one is “turned” toward truth (the Good) it is not really “obstructed”.

The worst insult you make to learning and intelligence is by totally ignoring what I pointed out about “mathematics” (I didn’t mention it by name, as it is not actually the only Platonic “avenue to truth”, it is the one that can be “taught”) and other supposed “truths”, that they’re how we interpret “reality” and are not reality themselves (other than “mental reality” if one wishes to call them that). Kant more or less took care of all of the “Platonic truths”, though he left any number of problems behind. I said something like that, but you want to repeat your insipid “learning” rather than to deal with your profound lack of understanding of the issues involved.

Anyhow, we’ve dealt with “modern platonists” like David Berlinski, and have noted their decided inability to deal with science. You might want to read what he writes to learn how to totally avoid dealing with reality by christening mathematics as reality—if you have any need to bolster the ignorance you’ve revealed thus far.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Dear dear Glen

I started visiting this site some time ago interested in the american religion vs science-evolution wars having -I admit-in my mind the American=Idiot stereotype. The blog is wonderful,so I started to think then ,following this and relevant blogs that there may be hope for the transatlantic barbarians. Unfortunately your kind of thinking although evidently not religion-wise dogmatism,is a dogmatism,and is unfortunately refueling my stereotypism(sic). I can’t really answer when you’re failing to see that your argumentation is a philosophy,is a point of view.You fail to see all the metaproblems.You fail to see that I’m not saying that my view is correct and yours wrong.(which is my view by the way?) I just mentioned ,in hummoristical manner by the way,read between the lines MORE (more (vocativus-kletike) by the way not moron,please when naming me in greek names ,use my language correctly, that we’re are talking about very fuzzy things and one should have in mind the complexity of them.

I apologise to any bystander for the harsh words I use,but unfortunately it comes to this: for any non USAer talking to USAers usually-statistically is the same whatever the USAer may be,a fanatic christian YEC-OEC,a kill_all_the arabs_they_are_all_terrorists_peaceloving jew ,an IDiot,a self centered overspecialised scientist in a desperate need of sphaerical education.

Charein!

Katarina try reading Ithaca in a more metaphorical way

Bises

Cher Monsuir Thanatos,

Literally, not everyone’s home is a place from which a certain philosophy springs, let alone a place from which all philosophy springs. I’ve met few people who are as proud of their home as Greeks, and I’m not saying it’s without good reason.

Metaphorically, not everyone starts out committed to a certain ideal, or expectations of the end of the journey. (Read between the lines: perhaps your philosophical leanings are just a little biased, as I doubt you would deny.)

Also, home doesn’t always stay the same: when Odysseus returned home to Ithaca, did he not have new enemies to slay before he could call it home again?

Je vous adresse mon très amical souvenir

Keith Douglas Wrote:

Idealism sensu Plato is an ontological view, not an epistemological one

I disagree. One can focus on ontology or epistemology(or anything else),accepting that being and thinking are quite seperate entities.But that’s a working hypothesis and since we’re philosophising,since we’re dealing with such quite abstract ideas (and not sweating in the mud trying to survive) we have to deal with this assumption too. Plato’s thoughts (and thoughts of almost every thinker) are both epistemological and ontological(among other things). world of being-ideae vs world becoming-senses ?!?! doesn’t that say something to you?

And although science is our god (IDiots please mind the metaphor),the basic philosophical questions are far from being answered.And perhaps will never be…

But science is not positivist in the correct sense of the world. Consider the case of molecular shape. No chemist I know of will deny that molecules have shape, despite this being a transphenomenal (and hence, non-positivist) hypothesis.

It’s sometimes ( especially when philosophising over the internet :-)) all about the words we use.Does quantum mechanical reality or unreality (or whatever) really has a meaning for shape (molecular or not) and if so (in a qm mathematical context) what has that shape has to do with our deterministic 3dimensional euclidean (non relativistic)understanding of shape or space or spacetime whatever that is?

Realism and antirealism are best understood as positions about the goal of science

I agree but that’s in the eye of the beholder and again in the definition of realism itself.

IMO, if one realizes that the very idea of error presupposes some degree of realism, the debate is over.

I disagree and tend to agree in general with Katarina’s answer to you.Once you try to be austere(and that’s what one MUST be),to define things strictly then you crash onto the wall of selfreference.Define error ,define empirical and so on…

See you

Dear Katarina

you have clearly misunderstood me.

Again,try reading Ithaca metaphorically.

a hint :) in a platonic view, where Ithaca read True (or whatever).

I was obviously thinking in neohellenic poetical-philosophical context and you didn’t get it. Guilty. Homer is famous globally, C.P.Cabaphes (or kavafis,kavaphis,…) obviously isn’t. try Ithaca by C.P.Cabaphes

anyway,sorry for the stereotypical outburst but glen was not the paradigm of politeness and I really don’t understand why.

Chaire!

Oh, you meant this. I get it now.

Yes :)

Once you try to be austere(and that’s what one MUST be),to define things strictly then you crash onto the wall of selfreference.

Most scientists are realists, which is a strong argument IMO. They have several reasons. First, they constrain the issue of selfreference by using observations. Second, observed laws and objects are observable and stable, not ephemeral and transient. Third, it is known that we can’t have turtles all the way down - quantum mechanics and entropy puts limits on the layers of effective theories before an ultimate one. Fourth, theories demands parsimony, and in physics specifically found to mean minimizing the number of free parameters, which illuminates the previous reason IMHO.

Now, this isn’t enough to constrain realism fully of course. Math gives more input here, I think. It shows that we can know an object well by mapping all possible quantities in all possible ways. ( http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/category[…]d_coord.html ) Also, objects are recognizable under transformations of dualities.

Physicists like Tegmark seem to argue one step further here and arrive at a solution. They claim parsimony by equating the physical object with the full mathematical representation, making platonist mathematicians correct in some sense.

“an ultimate one” - a fundamental one.

Dear Torbjörn Larsson

although I agree almost fully in principle with your last comment, you’re IMO quite superoptimistic in the context of philosophical strictness mood. Although ,it’s the standard aesthetical scientific canon -especially in physics- not to like turtles all the way down,it’s more constraining(masking? pushing under the carpet? :-) ) as you wrote not eliminating the selfreference,it’s more wishful thinking ,than

quantum mechanics and entropy puts limits on the layers of effective theories before an ultimate one

Physics,Fundamental Physics (even if understood in a more broad mathematical sense ie including Turing machines etc) is ,concerning these strange-beautiful issues, the best game we’ve got, but it’s not ,at least yet, terra firma

bye

Unfortunately your kind of thinking although evidently not religion-wise dogmatism,is a dogmatism,and is unfortunately refueling my stereotypism(sic).

Of course, a mindless dogmatist like yourself can only prattle on aimlessly, avoiding all hard thought and critical thinking. You haven’t addressed any of my actual points, rather like an IDist you are only capable of making unevidenced charges of some sort of calumny when you don’t even understand the issues. God you’re dumb.

I can’t really answer when you’re failing to see that your argumentation is a philosophy,is a point of view.You fail to see all the metaproblems.

I discussed the metaproblems, cretin. That you don’t understand what I wrote is no more an argument than the fact that Dembski doesn’t know the difference between climate and weather, or evolutionary trends and specific (and difficult to study) evolutionary instances, is an argument against evolution.

You fail to see that I’m not saying that my view is correct and yours wrong.(which is my view by the way?)

You’re too incompetent at reading to recognize that I wasn’t hitting at “your position”, I was hitting your ignorance and inability even to understand why Platonism is not an acceptable position today. But feel free to avoid any substantive response, while you continue to address all that you know, which are your own strawmen.

I just mentioned ,in hummoristical manner by the way,read between the lines MORE (more (vocativus-kletike) by the way not moron,please when naming me in greek names ,use my language correctly, that we’re are talking about very fuzzy things and one should have in mind the complexity of them.

OK, so you don’t understand English whatsoever, and can’t write in our language. I’m not going to call you “Death” (I knew what your pseudonym meant, of course), moron, since that has no relationship to what you write, only with what happens to any intelligent discussion when you enter into it as the poseur that you are.

I apologise to any bystander for the harsh words I use,but unfortunately it comes to this:

Apologize for your stupidity and ignorance instead.

for any non USAer talking to USAers usually-statistically is the same whatever the USAer may be,a fanatic christian YEC-OEC,a kill_all_the arabs_they_are_all_terrorists_peaceloving jew

What’s a USAer, ignoramus?

Anyhow, it’s clear that you’re a stupid and hateful bigot spewing anti-Americanism where you yourself fail to understand what an American has written. You are what you condemn, a dogmatic stupid fool who doesn’t even begin to understand what he despises.

,an IDiot,a self centered overspecialised scientist in a desperate need of sphaerical education.

What’s a spherical education, retard?

Anyhow, if I hadn’t had a great deal of education in philosophy I might even suppose that you knew something, instead of being a completely ignorant sap without any understanding of continental philosophy. None of us continentalists would abide your level of ignorance and argumentation in favor of exploded metaphysics, rather you’re just about as much a logocentrist as any idiot fundamentalist. The truth is that you are akin to fundamentalists, for you don’t understand that fundamentalism is a species of the philosophical idiocies that you enjoin upon those of us who have the intelligence and education to know better.

Take a philosphy course for once, worthless git, and don’t forever project your ignorance and bigotry on those who know incredibly more than you do about philosophy (and science).

Glen D

http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Glen I just give up. Obviously you’re the speaking voice of what all scientists have in mind ,you’re the speaking voice of Truth and I’m Plato’s reincarnation gone mad.Sorry.next time I’ll try to be Heracleitus. OK all matters and problems solved. Glen said so. I just give up.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on February 15, 2007 12:41 PM.

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