Egnoring the Data: How 78% of Doctors Became A Small Minority

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As an addendum to Burt’s excellent take-down of Dr. Egnor’s latest nonsense, I’d like to address one of Egnor’s claims that I’ve touched on before, which is the following:

Doctors know that, from the intricate structure of the human brain to the genetic code, our bodies show astonishing evidence of design. That’s why most doctors—nearly two-thirds according to national polls—don’t believe that human beings arose merely by chance and natural selection. Most doctors don’t accept evolutionary biology as an adequate explanation for life. Doctors see, first-hand, the design of life.

Egnor claims that two thirds of doctors don’t accept evolution, and that this is because doctors have some sort of special insight into living things. He is not the first to make this claim; his new handlers at the Discovery Institute have said this before, based on a survey published by the Louis Finkelstein Institute, going so far as to claim that “a majority of doctors favor intelligent design over Neo-Darwinism.”

Would you be surprised to learn that the survey doesn’t say these things at all, that in fact it says the exact opposite? More below.

The simplest way of figuring out whether the DI’s claims are accurate is with the high tech scientific technique of reading the survey results. When we do so we learn the following:

  • 78% of doctors say that they accept evolution; only 15% reject it. Yet according to Egnor, “most doctors don’t accept evolutionary biology”. The survey quite clearly and overwhelmingly shows this to be wrong.
  • 58% of doctors agree that Intelligent Design is a “religiously inspired pseudo-science”. Yet according to the Discovery Institute, “a majority of doctors favor intelligent design over Neo-Darwinism.” How could that even be possible when a significant majority have rejected ID as pseudoscience?
  • Doctors prefer evolution over ID 63% to 34%. Yet somehow, both Egnor and the DI have managed to completely invert this finding and claim that it’s really the other way around!

It would actually be somewhat of a relief to learn that Egnor and the other DI people just didn’t know how to read numbers or that they flunked first grade math. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. They are being deliberately deceptive. They are consciously attempting to mislead people by making statements that the survey results themselves directly and unequivocally contradict. Here’s how they do it:

One question gives respondents three choices, each of which requires the respondent to make a statement about his or her belief in God. The choices are as follows: 1. God created humans exactly as they appear now; 2. God initiated and guided an evolutionary process that has led to current human beings; 3. Humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement - no divinity played any role. This question is practically identical to one commonly asked in surveys for the general public, which provides a handy means of comparison. Here are the results from the Finkelstein survey on doctors:

The trick played by Egnor and the DI is to take the answers to 1 and 2 and combine them together, claiming that anyone who agrees with those choices must be an ID supporter, whereas only those who agree with the third option are “Neo-Darwinists” or whatever it is they’re calling us these days. But this is extremely dishonest. The Discovery Institute knows good and well that many people who choose option 2 are ardent supporters of evolution and opponents of ID. In fact, many of their harshest critics, including some of us here at the ‘Thumb, are theists who believe that God guided evolution in some sense. Yet they reject ID and accept Darwinian evolution in no uncertain terms.

Indeed, given the way that the question is worded, it’s unlikely that anyone who believed in God would accept option 3. When we look at the results from the general public, those who choose option 3 roughly add up to the number of atheists and agnostics that are found in the USA. That’s a pretty good indication that what the question is really measuring is theistic belief.

Of course the most obvious way to resolve what these results mean is to ask the survey respondents about evolution and ID directly. As I pointed out above, the Finkelstein survey does this, and it shows that a strong majority of people choosing option 2 are opposed to ID and in favor of evolution. Given these results, there is simply no excuse for the way in which Egnor and the Discovery Institute have spun the survey. It is an act of deceit, plain and simple.

While I’m at it, let me point out a delicious irony. The particular question that the DI distorts asks respondents about what God did or did not have to do with the origin of humans. It doesn’t say anything about “intelligent design”. But the DI is taking questions about God’s involvement in and treating them as perfectly synonymous with ID (while simultaneously ignoring those questions that ask about ID directly). Elsewhere, of course, they vehemently deny that ID is based on belief in God. Way to be consistent, guys. There is of course one last issue, the one dealing with Egnor’s pretentious claim that “Doctors know that… our bodies show astonishing evidence of design… doctors see, first-hand, the design of life” (his emphasis). The basic idea here is that doctors, by virtue of their medical training, must have unique insights about evolution and ID not shared by the general public. If that’s the way they want it, I say fine. I’ll just post a comparison between doctors and the general public that I made previously:

Here we see that doctors are overwhelmingly more likely to accept evolution than the general public and less likely to accept creationism. If we are to assume that their training is affecting their viewpoint on evolution, we can safely conclude that it’s causing them to accept evolution more and accept ID/creationism less. Of course there are more subtle ways of interpreting the results, but that’s not what Egnor and the DI are doing – they’re trying to spin the results as evidence that medical training makes people reject evolution. The actual data say the exact opposite.

This of course is all the more ironic given that Egnor’s basic point, which Burt ably showed was wrong both in general and in detail, is that doctors don’t need to know anything about evolution. They don’t receive any training or take any classes in it. Yet at the same time, Egnor styles himself, and the majority of doctors whom he erroneously thinks reject evolution, as having special insight into the subject. If you haven’t already had enough, I have a lot more to say about this at Sunbeams From Cucumbers.

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I need some β-blockers STAT. I say that not because I'm hypertensive or because I'm having heart palpitations--at least not now. I'm saying it because, after reading the latest foray into antievolutionary ignorance spouted by--as much as I hate to... Read More

73 Comments

Somehow I don’t want a liar messing with my brain…

As part of our research for the Biology Concept Inventory project (http://bioliteracy.net), we have found that students (and probably a few doctors) do not understand/appreciate the power of random processes, beginning with diffusion.

They are told how efficient biological systems are, and assume that random processes are inefficient. This is a conceptual issue that needs to be addressed head on.

With all due respect to doctors, I don’t rely on my auto mechanic (who is an excellent mechanic) for the latest on string theory. Touting doctors as experts on biology theory is just another bit of SOP for the lying weasels of the DI.

Yet again, you are confusing the terminology! MDs are more likely than the general public to believe in evolution guided by God. And that resembles the ID theory, as you know (although ID refers to intelligence in general, not any particular God).

MDs are less likely than the general public to be creationists (to deny evolution) and they are also more likely than the general public to believe in Darwinist (atheist) evolution.

But it is true that, as claimed, MDs who believe in either creationism or ID outnumber MDs who believe in Darwnism (no God or universal intelligence involved in the evolution process).

The confusion arises because you refuse to define “evolution” with any kind of precision. When “evolution” is used as a synonym for “Darwnism,” then only a small minority of MDs reject evolution. But when you define the terms carefully, and separate Darwnian evolution from guided evolution, the result is very different.

Equating ID with creationism and equating Darwinism with evolution is the source of the confusion. ID theorists DO NOT deny evolution. You are either unaware of this, or are deliberately creating confusion.

Creationism vs evolution is NOT the controversy. The controversy is over guided evolution (ID) vs unguided evolution (neo-Darwnism).

realpc Wrote:

you are confusing

Yes, you are…

Our lying troll does reveal a consistent problem with these surveys, but it is not in the definition of “evolution”, since that is clear to all but obfuscating liars. The problem is with the term “guided”, which straddles ID and theistic evolution and allows the intellectual snakeoil salesmen to ply their trade. People need to quit pussyfooting around the issue and just spell it out with categories as follows:

Classic Creationism: God created humans in their present form ex nihilo

ID Creationism: Humans evolved, but God had to directly intervene on occasion when material evolutionary processes were not up to the task.

Theistic Evolution: Humans evolved through material processes that were the result, and intention, of God creating the universe as he did.

Materialistic Evolution: Humans evolved through material processes, but were not the result of any divine plan or guidance.

I would once again bet the bottle of single malt scotch that the “humans evolved, but God guided the process” category will split about 80/20 if not better for TE vs ID. Think Ken Miller. This would keep those dissemblers from claiming people like Miller as their own, when he clearly is not, and once again shows they are lying when they claim that entire old category for themselves.

realpc wrote:

Yet again, you are confusing the terminology! MDs are more likely than the general public to believe in evolution guided by God.

Only because religious doctors are forced by the evidence offered them to reject creationism. There’s a difference between denying overwhelming evidence like the public does through ignorance and hoping against hope there is something more that evidence does not cover as doctors might when they can’t support creationism.

The troll is apparently so delusional that it thinks anyone here gives a damn what it spews.

I suppose the troll does serve to remind us of the vast sea of ignorance in which it swims. I keep hoping that it will return to the shallow end of the gene pool, where it belongs.

realpc Wrote:

But it is true that, as claimed, MDs who believe in either creationism or ID outnumber MDs who believe in Darwnism (no God or universal intelligence involved in the evolution process).

Nope, that’s utterly false. You should really try reading my post next time before commenting.

When asked what they thought about ID, 58% of doctors said it is a religiously inspired pseudoscience. This means that at most, only 5% of the MDs who said they prefer evolution over ID (63% vs. 34%) could have been confounded by the question. It’s quite clear that nearly all of those who chose evolution over ID are thoroughly rejecting ID; it’s not simply the case that they like ID but chose evolution simply because they were forced to pick one of the two.

So at least 58% of respondents are anti-IDists, but only 39% chose option 3 (i.e. no divinity played a role in evolution). This obviously means that a significant fraction of those who chose option 2 (i.e. evolution guided by God) reject ID.

No matter how generous you want to be with the ID/creationism side, it turns out that only a minority of doctors are in favor of either creationism or ID.

The confusion arises because you refuse to define “evolution” with any kind of precision.

I am reporting what the survey actually says. Unlike the DI people, I’m not trying to project my own personal definition of things onto the data, then twist things around in order to get the answer I like.

I know that IDists like to define evolution in such a way as to make it synonymous with atheism, but that is an incorrect definition. The way in which “evolution” was used in the survey is perfectly legitimate. There is no reason to believe that the doctors were confused by what it means.

ID theorists DO NOT deny evolution. You are either unaware of this, or are deliberately creating confusion.

You obviously don’t know much about the ID movement. The vast majority of ID “theorists” are anti-evolutionists. The movement was started by a guy who wrote a book arguing against common descent. The ID movement’s textbook, Of Panda’s and People, is a creationist book. They simply took the word creationism and replaced it with design. The ID movement at its very core is an anti-evolutionist movement. Yes, they have a few supporters who accept “evolution” a la common descent, but they are a small minority and their pro-descent views have had no apparent impact on the explicitly creationist views of the majority of leading IDists.

And it’s also clear that many people who completely reject ID believe that God guided evolution in some sense. They just don’t believe, as the IDists do, that one finds “evidence” of this by attacking evolution. Therefore, whether or not God “guided” evolution can’t possibly be a reasonable means of delineating what ID is and isn’t. The question is not precise enough to know whether or not a person agreeing with it is an ID advocate.

The best way to figure out whether or not doctors are ID advocates is simply to ask them. The Finkelstein survey does this, and it turns out that a strong majority of doctors reject ID. That is a fact. Any attempt to deny this fact amounts to nothing more than dishonest spin.

which straddles ID and theistic evolution

I don’t mean this as flame bait, but what is the difference? Is it just that ID proponents try to hide its religious component, or is it more subtle?

Oh, one other thing:

ID theorists DO NOT deny evolution.

To see how obviously false this is, all you have to do is look at the way in which the Discovery Institute itself adds up the numbers. They are taking the 18% of respondents who explicitly deny evolution and declaring them ID advocates. That’s the only way they can claim a majority, by accepting the creationists as their own.

Clearly, the people who invented ID don’t share your view about what ID “theorists” do and do not deny.

You answered my question, Steve. Thanks.

Tukla in Iowa:

#165118 by MarkP spells it out quite clearly.

waldteufel Wrote:

The troll is apparently so delusional that it thinks anyone here gives a damn what it spews. … [snip]

This kind of comment is totally inappropriate. Any more I see like this will be deleted.

ID Creationism: Humans evolved, but God had to directly intervene on occasion when material evolutionary processes were not up to the task. Theistic Evolution: Humans evolved through material processes that were the result, and intention, of God creating the universe as he did.

ID does NOT say that God intervened on occasion. ID does not claim to know anything about God.

Theistic evolution does not necessarily claim that evolution is simply a “material” process. If the universe is intelligent then, in a sense, matter is intelligent. According to some philosophies we are all included in, and an expression of, an infinite, intelligent, universe. In that scenario, there would be no reason for gods to “intervene” or perform miracles. The increasing intelligence of living things would naturally unfold over time.

There is nothing in ID theory that would preclude theistic evolution, except a form of theistic evolution that says God created the initial conditions for life and then detached from it. That view is based on mind-matter dualism, which is rejected by more recent views.

Egnor was not lying when he said the majority of physicians reject unguided evolution theory.

Steve Reuland — Do you have any influence with regard to banning realpc to AfterTheBarCloses? There are several posters here, including at least Raging Bee and MarkP, who would welcome this.

realpc Wrote:

ID does NOT say that God intervened on occasion. ID does not claim to know anything about God.

Um, you say this right after proclaiming that those who say, “evolution was guided by God” are ID advocates.

If ID does not claim to know anything about God, then none of the respondents on the survey can be considered ID advocates, at least not as far as that particular question is concerned.

The DI claims that a majority of physicians accept ID because to them, ID = God.

Egnor was not lying when he said the majority of physicians reject unguided evolution theory.

He didn’t say “unguided” evolution, he just said “evolutionary biology”. It’s quite clear from the survey results that the overwhelming majority of doctors accept evolutionary biology, and while some think that evolution was guided by God in some sense, most of those people do not accept ID.

Really, this isn’t very hard to understand. The data are right there. Just look at them.

The question I have is why would a respected physician, professor, researcher and otherwise OK guy put himself up to this kind of ridicule?

Not a single pronouncement by our Dr. Egnor is original, rather it’s chapter and verse out of the Creationist Playbook. The only thing Egnor hasn’t dredged up is the Cambrian Explosion, but, perhaps, he’s saving that one for a special occasion.

But, why do it at all?

Egnor may have provided a clue on the DI’s Whine and Cheese news site where egnor writes:

Scientific naturalism, like Darwinism, is a corrosive acid, eroding every crevice of our society.

Thus, it’s possible that the good doctor has put himself on a quest to Save Society by Vanquishing Darwinism! Alas, the unfortunate outcome of this tragedy is that Egnor will not “save society,” rather he has only purchased a one-way ticket to Crankville.

Hey, Egnor, say “Hi!” to Davison and the rest of the inmates, ‘K?

I worded my question badly. MarkP is basically defining theistic evolution as front-loading, but I was taught that theistic evolution covered both front-loading and gene-twiddling, though the front-loading model was considered more elegant from a God-is-perfect standpoint.

Anyway, I just need to remember that ID is really not pro-design but, rather, anti-evolution, and that it’s a political movement, not a science or a serious philosophical debate.

I also need to get some sleep, apparently. ::sigh::

David B. Benson Wrote:

Steve Reuland — Do you have any influence with regard to banning realpc to AfterTheBarCloses?

I suppose I have some influence, but it’s not a step I’m going to take unless he becomes truly disruptive. Maybe it’s different on other threads, but what he’s posted here so far doesn’t violate any rules.

Still, I find it quite surprising and disturbing that only 39% reject devine involvement in evolution.

Realpc parroted thusly:

ID does NOT say that God intervened on occasion. ID does not claim to know anything about God.

You can’t even keep your ID talking points straight. It’s “We don’t know anything about the designer”, not “We don’t know anything about God”. You gave away that you are talking religion rather than science. Bad little synchophant.

Of course the whole friggin point to Behe’s irreducible complexity argument is that those are points at which God, I mean, The Designer ™, had to intervene, due to the supposed inability of the poor materialist mechanisms to produce irreducibly complex items. Of course, I guess next we will be told that Behe is not really an IDer.

Enough troll feeding for one day. It’s like trying to play basketball with someone that refuses to dribble and shoots at whatever basket he is closest to.

realpc may not have “broken any rules” (unless, of course, a significant number of commentators are correct in suggesting that he’s a sockpuppet for another IDist). But, just as the DI has, he’s playing a phony numbers game with the survey results (i.e., lying).

Not exactly honest or civil behavior, in my neighborhood.

But heaven forfend anyone should be *shudder* uncivil in pointing that out.

The question the CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE the DI should be asking is “has their wedge strategy succeeded”

In particular, have they succeeded in “Major Christian denominations defending (the) traditional doctrine of creation “?

Come on realpc why is the DI “defending the traditional doctrine of creation” which as you know is religious dogma?

Are you and they lying when they say ID is not creationism i.e. the idea that Genesis is a literal truth?

Why did Judge Jones in Dover say ID was a religious idea and not a scientific idea?

Hint:- The witnesses testimony said so (realpc you seem too stupid to realize that)

Realpc are you breath-takingly inane? And just how does that feel is it like being a catatonic brain donor- just keeping the organ warm until a deserving recipient is found? Do you get any special discounts in casinos?

No need to answer that last question.

I think a pertinent question to Egnor, realpc, and the rest of the ID movement would be that how is it possible that ID ‘theory’ can have so much support when there are no publications stating its case? As Steve mentioned, DI wants to clump anyone who happens to believe in a God into the ID camp, even though ID is supposed to be data driven and not a theological or a philosophical issue. If it takes more than a single course of biology to comprehensibly understand the theory of evolution, shouldn’t there be at least one course’s amount of ID concepts? Of course this is where DI will just promote some non-peer reviewed books by Behe and Demski and claim that to amount to a course in ID. And then claim oppression for lack of any other books or wider acceptance of them.

There is of course one last issue, the one dealing with Egnor’s pretentious claim that “Doctors know that… our bodies show astonishing evidence of design… doctors see, first-hand, the design of life” (his emphasis). The basic idea here is that doctors, by virtue of their medical training, must have unique insights about evolution and ID not shared by the general public. If that’s the way they want it, I say fine. I’ll just post a comparison between doctors and the general public that I made previously:

Of course it’s the same old, “it just looks designed,” sort of nonsense, about as scientific as ID gets. No analysis, no comparison of expectations of what one would find in evolved organisms, vs. designed organisms, and we know why.

I wanted to point to one further fairly minor detail, which is that it is true that too many physicians apparently do think that “it just looks designed,” yet this is perhaps in part (religious dogma is presumably the greater reason) because many do no comprehensive study in the lab, or even on paper, of the comparative anatomy of the various closely related organisms (other primates plus humans would be the obvious choice for most physicians). One simply does not look at just humans to understand evolution. There is not much evidence for evolution in merely studying the anatomy and physiology of humans, while there is a bountiful supply of evolutionary data to be found by comparing humans with other primates, extinct and extant.

Of course the fact that Egnor is using his limitations as if they were a virtue is part and parcel of his arrogance and tendency to see his own expertise as being the finest window for viewing anything and everything about biology. To be sure, IDist engineers think virtually the same thing for themselves, and it is a strangely incongruent joint claim when IDists trumpet the superiority of engineers, computer programmers, MDs, and biochemists (well, there’s Behe, probably a very few others), as if all of these fairly disconnected specialties (MD and biochemistry may be linked, or relatively nonlinked in medical practice (they need do little other than to believe what biochemists say)) were privileged positions quite unlike the lowly biology positions. Two problems there, of course, the oddity of thinking that both engineers and MDs have essentially the same privileged position, and supposing that actually studying biology in context is a handicap.

And if realpc is Charlie Wagner, and everything so far suggests that he is (other possibilities do come to mind, but they don’t seem as close to Charlie’s brand of incomprehension), the reason he’s here saying the same old tired things is presumably because relatively recently he was kicked off of Pharyngula. Of course he never answered anybody straight on Pharyngula (he’s obviously incapable of analyzing either biology or arguments), any more than he did here, but he committed some more explicit offenses, I can’t remember exactly what.

Just to inform people who are already tired of the same old useless repetitions (honestly, I’ve never seen a new thought from him), though perhaps also to help build the case for sockpuppetry.

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

Steve Reuland Wrote:

When asked what they thought about ID, 58% of doctors said it is a religiously inspired pseudoscience. This means that at most, only 5% of the MDs who said they prefer evolution over ID (63% vs. 34%) could have been confounded by the question.

Not necessarily. There could be some doctors who accept ID even though they know it’s religiously inspired pseudoscience!

This kind of comment is totally inappropriate.

Not if you’ve tracked realpc’s exchanges in other threads.

Tukla wrote:

I don’t mean this as flame bait, but what is the difference? Is it just that ID proponents try to hide its religious component, or is it more subtle?

Mark puts up a definitional difference that doesn’t always hold, but defines theistic evolution in a pretty narrow sense. Beats me if that definition holds for the majority of people that might call themselves theistic evolutionists. My guess is that quite a few would not rule out that their god could have fiddled with the evolution of life once in a while. Who could rule it out?

The real difference is political. The ID scam artists require that the rubes that they are manipulating adhere to certain beliefs so that they can be more easily controled by the dishonest political means that the ID scam artists have to resort to. Theistic evolutionists are not as political and accept what comes out of science, as science progresses. There is no real hard and fast belief and less opportunity for manipulation of the rubes that need that certainty. This is why ID scam artists like Dembski and Johnson have claimed that theistic evolution is ID’s greatest enemy. It isn’t because they really have a different theology, it is because they have a different political outcome. The ID scam artists know that they can get certain types of people to vote their way and live lives the way that they want them to, and the political scam artists can’t resist trying to keep it that way.

That is a pretty cynical way of looking at the situation, and there are probably exceptions, but after Ohio and Dover no one that has a lick of sense can deny that the ID scam artists don’t think enough of their junk to push it when they have to. Why did they come up with a replacement scam that doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed? Why were the ID scam artists talking about the legal ramifications of the “teach the controversy” ID replacement scam back in 1999 if they thought that ID had a chance? This is a replacement scam that takes pains to not even mention that ID has ever existed. Why did they give the Ohio rubes the teach the controversy scam instead of any science to teach about ID back in 2002? These guys have known that they were lying about ID for years, the only question is why they were lying. It obviously wasn’t to improve science education.

Look at the people that they were lying to and that believed them, and look at the political beliefs and results.

Burt Humburgs medical career has had some interesting ups and downs

Same comment made here by “Goldstein”. I suggest they should be banned, especially if the IP addresses are the same.

Gary Bohn Wrote:

Steve R either missed what Egnor said or ignored it in favour of taking a broader approach to DI. Unfortunately in doing so he misrepresented Egnor’s words.

*sigh*

I’m sorry, but this is just flagrant nonsense. I’ve already explained at length what’s wrong with Egnor, and I am not misrepresenting him. Let’s have a look at his exact words, once again:

That’s why most doctors—nearly two-thirds according to national polls—don’t believe that human beings arose merely by chance and natural selection. Most doctors don’t accept evolutionary biology as an adequate explanation for life.

I have already pointed out, in a fair amount of detail, why these claims cannot be derived from the survey results. All that the survey results tell us is that a lot of doctors think that God guided evolution. That particular question doesn’t say anything about the inadequacy of natural selection, much less evolutionary biology as a whole. Egnor is making up that part.

When we look at the responses to other questions in the survey, the ones that ask about evolutionary biology and ID directly, it becomes clear that most of those who say that God guides evolution are against ID and in favor of evolutionary biology. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can say beyond that, because a survey like this can’t tell us exactly what these people are thinking. Some of them might not “accept evolutionary biology as an adequate explanation for life”, but that is not what the survey actually says.

There are an awful lot of people who think that evolutionary biology is adequate explanation for life and that God guides evolution. Just ask Ken Miller or John Haught. I don’t pretend to know their reasoning precisely, or to agree with them, but it’s obvious that such people exist in large numbers among the educated elite. It would appear, based on the survey results, that a large fraction of doctors who say that God guided evolution are of this type.

This means that Egnor is grossly misleading people about the survey. He is at least implying, if not stating directly, that 2/3rds of doctors are ID advocates and/or reject mainstream evolutionary biology. That is wrong. Maybe you can explain to me just what it is about this that you don’t agree with, but I take offense to your claim that I have misrepresented Egnor.

Gary Bohn Wrote:

I read the quote you included differently.

Well apparently you did, but this does not mean I “misrepresented” Egnor just because you have a different opinion of what he means.

The second sentence states that he is talking about ‘random’ evolution which anyone familiar with CrIDers knows means ‘undirected’ in their lingo.

Anyone familiar with IDists knows that they do not accept that God can guide evolution without violating the laws of nature and rendering evolutionary biology false. But this is a viewpoint peculiar to themselves and other creationists. By claiming that “God guided evolution” must necessarily be incompatible with the adequacy of “chance and natural selection”, or worse still, “evolutionary biology”, Egnor is simply projecting his own beliefs onto the survey respondents.

My whole point, all along, is that this is not a legitimate interpretation of the survey results. The survey respondents obviously don’t see things that way, because they overwhelmingly approve of evolution and reject ID.

I’m not arguing that the survey was correct. The survey used highly misleading and biased wording which should never have been used.

It used the same wording that has been used repeatedly in other surveys. Yes, the wording is problematic. But thankfully they included other questions that actually help resolve what the results of the poorly worded question mean. And they don’t mean what Egnor thinks they mean.

Even in Egnor’s article you linked to it is obvious to me that he equates evolutionary biology with undirected evolution making his use of that portion of the survey he used accurate.

No, it is not accurate. If “evolutionary biology” and “undirected evolution” are the same thing, then how was it that 78% of respondents accept evolutionary biology, but only 39% think it was undirected? I’m not sure how many times I’ve said this, but the survey results strongly imply that most respondents don’t see any conflict between evolutionary biology and God-guided evolution. It’s obvious that Egnor does, but he is not the arbiter of what the survey respondents are thinking. Only the survey data itself can resolve this issue, insofar as it can be resolved at all.

I agree. The survey is useless.

Bwuh? I never suggested that the survey was useless. Not for a second. It has its problems, like all surveys, but all that means is that you have to read between the lines, compare the responses to different questions, and take the results with a grain of salt.

Egnor and the DI obviously didn’t do that, so they ended up with conclusions that are not supported by the survey results, and in some cases are directly contradicted by them.

Of course if you really think that the survey is useless, then what Egnor said was definitely wrong. The only correct interpretation of the results is that they’re meaningless.

Yet you made Egnor the focus of your post not the DI.

They were both the focus of my post. You did read it, right?

I don’t believe for a second that Egnor looked up that survey and invented this particular misrepresentation on his own. As with the other things he’s been saying, it almost certain that he simply adopted a piece of DI propaganda without bothering to check to see if it was real. That makes him and the DI interchangeable as far as my critique is concerned. That’s why in almost every instance I list them both together.

Sorry to be so picky about your post but I spend a lot of time on FreeRepublic arguing against complete idiots who use misinterpretation as a standard tactic. I really don’t think we need to use the same tactics no matter how inadvertent.

That’s very patronizing of you, but really, I can do without your help.

Steve R wrote:

Maybe you can explain to me just what it is about this that you don’t agree with, but I take offense to your claim that I have misrepresented Egnor.

This is getting out of hand.

I’ll try once more to get my message across and if I fail this time I will just have to recognize that I communicate poorly.

Egnor stated: That’s why most doctors—nearly two-thirds according to national polls— don’t believe that human beings arose merely by chance and natural selection.

His number is 2/3 and he specified chance and natural selection. The use of the word ‘chance’, in my experience, means ‘unguided’ in CrIDer talk.

Egnor also stated: Would I be a better surgeon if I assumed that the brain arose by random events?

Note the reference to ‘random’.

Egnor also also stated: In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the only contribution evolution has made to modern medicine is to take it down the horrific road of eugenics,…

It is clear he is equating evolution with atheism - therefore unguided.

Everything he says in this blurb of his clearly indicates he considers evolutionary biology to be ‘unguided’ biology.

You say: Egnor claims that two thirds of doctors don’t accept evolution, …

According to his article, he states that two thirds of doctors do not accept unguided (read as ‘atheistic’) evolution.

In the survey, at least the part he seems to be getting his information from, the total who do not accept unguided evolution is 60% which is fairly close to two thirds.

I will not be the only one making this observation and coming to this conclusion as can be shown by realpc’s first response.

I am not attempting to disparage you in any way, nor to insult you. I am simply bringing your attention to an argument made by you that can be interpreted as a misrepresentation of Egnor’s words, as I have done . If you do not understand my point, nor my point of view, I apologize to you for my poor communication skills.

Steve R wrote: Anyone familiar with IDists knows that they do not accept that God can guide evolution without violating the laws of nature and rendering evolutionary biology false.

Huh?

Since when do IDists as a rule not accept at least part of common descent and natural selection? As far as I know, Behe accepts all of common descent and Dembski most other than human. If I understand their arguments they believe that the designer twiddles bits in the genomes of organisms similar to the way we are learning to do. Isn’t that what IC and CSI all about? That doesn’t sound like they think the Designer (God) can’t guide evolution without violating the laws of nature, just the opposite really.

In my experience they spend a great deal of time trying to make ID sound scientifically respectable. I suspect that it wouldn’t be too hard to be both a theistic evolutionist (a rather clumsy term) and an IDist.

Steve R wrote: But this is a viewpoint peculiar to themselves and other creationists. By claiming that “God guided evolution” must necessarily be incompatible with the adequacy of “chance and natural selection”, or worse still, “evolutionary biology”, Egnor is simply projecting his own beliefs onto the survey respondents.

I’m not sure I see the connection between the inadequacy of “chance and natural selection” and the necessity of breaking natural laws. The way I read your argument you are saying that an IDist can not be a theistic evolutionist so inclusion of the second question (42% column) should not be included in any discussion of ID.

Does not the ID ‘big but not as big as they want’ tent include everything from those who believe that a Designer created the BB, to theistic evolutionists who believe the Designer created initial life on Earth and then stood back and let evolution take it’s known (at least to Him) path, to theists who believe that the Designer tweaked the DNA at specific crucial points in history to full blown YECs?

I’m not the brightest bulb in the package so I think you’ll have to explain this particular argument a little more fully before I get the picture.

Steve R wrote:That’s very patronizing of you, but really, I can do without your help.

My wife complains of this in every argument we have, it comes a little too naturally to me. My apologies for bringing that habit here and subjecting you to it. I will try to limit it to arguments with CrIDers.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Gary Bohn Wrote:

Huh?

Since when do IDists as a rule not accept at least part of common descent and natural selection?

Since the beginning.

IDists as a group do not have any standard position for what parts (if any) of common descent or natural selection they’ll accept. Different IDists have completely different and often incompatible viewpoints on these issues. They’re all over the map.

The one thing they all have in common is that they believe that God must have supernaturally intervened directly in the history of life, and that there is evidence of this intervention, and that said evidence consists of the inadequacies of evolution.

Theistic evolutionists don’t believe this at all. Although I’m honestly not sure what they believe sometimes, many prominent TEs (Ken Miller, John Haught, Rob Pennock, Keith Miller, etc.) are on record denouncing ID in the strongest terms possible. They think that evolutionary biology is just fine. They also think that God guided things in some sort of metaphysical manner that is beyond our understanding or perhaps fully incorporated into the laws of nature as we observe them. Or something like that. But they don’t think that it is necessary for God to suspend the laws of nature perform some magic trick as the IDists do.

Dembski has said that “ID is no friend of theistic evolution”, and Philip Johnson has put a lot of effort into belittling them. The ID people cannot accept the theistic evolutionist position precisely because the TEs have no problem with mainstream evolutionary theory. And since the whole ID movement is based on attacking evolution, that makes the two groups incompatible.

So when we see people saying that “God guided evolution”, a lot of them are probably TEs of the kind I just described. The other survey questions seem to support this. These people don’t think that evolutionary biology is inadequate, and they think ID is a bunch of crap. For Egnor and the other DI people to say that these people are actually ID supporters is just wrong. They know this, they’re just being dishonest.

Raging Bee said:

A believer could say that his/her God is all-powerful, and was able to do all his poofing without leaving any “proof of poof,” behind, ‘cause that’s just the kind of God he is.

Gee, thanks Bee, the “proof of poof” line gave me that diet-coke-up-the-nose moment I so needed.

My mistake was treating ID for what it is - cover for the Christian god who would never deceive us so - instead of the formal definition, which could include aliens or as you point out, a malevolent god deceiptful god.

It just goes to show what nonsense this all is, because every time we try to treat it seriously, we end up knee deep in dookey.

I’ll try once more to get my message across and if I fail this time I will just have to recognize that I communicate poorly.

Because you couldn’t possibly be wrong. Except that you are.

Everything he says in this blurb of his clearly indicates he considers evolutionary biology to be ‘unguided’ biology.

What part of “Egnor is simply projecting his own beliefs onto the survey respondents” don’t you understand? You made a fundamental conceptual error, Steve pointed it out, and you ignored him completely and repeated the error. In evaluating the poll, it doesn’t matter what equivalences Egnor believes hold. That mistake is akin to the one that three year olds make but (non-autistic) four year olds don’t when asked what someone else thinks is in a box, when the child saw the original contents of the box changed while the other person was out of the room. The three year old isn’t able to grasp that different people have different mental models, or keep track of which model belongs to which person.

I’m not the brightest bulb in the package

Then you should be used to people disagreeing with you because you’re wrong rather than because you’ve been misunderstood.

the point ‘realpc’ made about Egnor’s comment at the beginning of this thread is correct.

Here is the pertinent part from the quote.

That’s why most doctors—nearly two-thirds according to national polls—don’t believe that human beings arose merely by chance and natural selection.

It seems very clear that Egnor is indeed drawing the line at ‘undirected’ evolution. He is not saying that 2/3 of doctors reject evolution, he is saying that 2/3 reject unguided evolution.

Although this is a very good post and shows the general dishonesty of the DI unfortunately it creates and attacks a strawman of Egnor’s comment, or at least of the quote given here.

Egnor wrote “Most doctors don’t accept evolutionary biology as an adequate explanation for life. Doctors see, first-hand, the design of life.” Steve wrote “Egnor claims that two thirds of doctors don’t accept evolution, and that this is because doctors have some sort of special insight into living things.” Steve could not possibly have been attacking a strawman or misrepresenting Egnor because he simply paraphrased him, replacing the term “evolutionary biology” with the term “evolution”. To take that as a misrepresentation, one must think that Steve embraces realpc’s distinction between “evolution” and “guided evolution”, and thereby conclude that, when Steve wrote “evolution”, he meant to distinguish it from “unguided evolution”, but we know he didn’t mean that. Rather than Steve mispresenting Egnor or attacking a strawman, it is realpc who misrepresents the meaning of “evolution”, and Egnor who attacks a strawman version of “evolutionary biology” as entailing lack of God or guidance – but some of the poll respondents don’t take it that way.

I believe in evolution guided by Zeus.

[quote]The simplest way of figuring out whether the DI’s claims are accurate is with the high tech scientific technique of reading the survey results.[/quote]

That link has gone bad. Could you relocate the results and post a new link?

[quote]The simplest way of figuring out whether the DI’s claims are accurate is with the high tech scientific technique of reading the survey results.[/quote]

That link has gone bad. Could you relocate the results and post a new link?

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on March 12, 2007 12:00 PM.

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