Intelligent Design Flunked: ID Mostly PR and little science

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Few may be aware that the State of Florida is revising its educational standards and that a dedicated group of people have been working on the science standards, including evolution. The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Joe Wolf, president of Florida Citizens for Science, called the draft standards a “wonderful” blueprint for science education. Wolf, of Winter Haven, said the evolution debate holds little interest to most scientists, who accept it as fact. That’s why the issue did not become controversial during the standards-writing meetings, he said.

“It’s a PR issue,” he said. “And it’s a religious issue. In the scientific community, it’s not an issue.”

On EvolutionNews.org, the Discovery Institute’s blog site, Robert Crowther manages to spin it as

Florida Citizens for Science Excommunicate Prominent Scientists from “Scientific Community” For Doubting Darwin

What has Crowther done here? He has moved from ‘evolution standards’ to ‘neo-Darwinism’ to ‘Darwinism and then ‘quotes’ some people who have expressed their doubts about Darwinism (selection) being sufficient to explain the evolutionary trends.

For instance he quotes the National Research Council which stated

Natural selection based solely on mutation is probably not an adequate mechanism for evolving complexity.

The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems

Somehow Crowther missed the next sentence

More important, lateral gene transfer and endosymbiosis are probably the most obvious mechanisms for creating complex genomes that could lead to free-living cells and complex cellular communities in the short geological interval between life’s origin and the establishment of autotrophic CO2 fixation about 3.8 billion years ago and microbial sulfate reduction 3.47 billion years ago on the basis of isotope data.9 An important implication of the existence of viruses or virus-like entities during the early evolution of cellular organisms is that their genomes may have been the source of most genetic innovations because of their rapid replication, high rates of mutation due to replication errors, and gene insertions from diverse host cells.10

Or Eugene Koonin who proposed a highly speculative scenario to explain the evolution of early life, however I doubt that Koonin has any reservations about the main mechanisms of evolution.

Joe Wolf was right, this is all a PR issue. In this case poor PR, or perhaps as Philip Johnson, Father of the Intelligent Design movement wrote

“This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science. It’s about religion and philosophy.”

On UcD a poster named Tyke observed that:

And given that, so far, the ID output is mostly PR and little science, the ID message is getting lost in the overtly religious overtones of those who would support ID but muddy the waters with overt theology.

I thank Crowther for providing the examples which show why Joe Wolf was right, it’s not about science, it’s all about PR and “religion and philosophy”..

And the goal? Philip Johnson again

“Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

The history of the Wedge and the involvement of the Discovery Institute are well documented. In fact, given the amount of new materials since the original book was written, Gross and Forrest may very well consider a second volume.

Evolutionary theory is in flux, science is uncovering more and more details as to how natural processes have shaped our history. While ID has limited itself to arguing that Darwinian evolution cannot explain everything, real scientists have shown how selection is but one part in the equation. I have provided several examples of scientific explanations and invited ID proponents to provide their best explanation(s). So far, the response has been ‘underwhelming’ as ID proponents have avoided presenting their ‘hypotheses’. After all, this would require, constraining their ‘supernatural designer(s)’.

You may very well ask yourself: How much has ID contributed to our scientific understanding. The answer to which seems to be ‘nothing’. After all, what else can an argument from ignorance really contribute to science?

Addendum: While browsing the comment section I ran across this gem

Robert Crowther, Seattle, Monday October 22, I just blogged at Evolutionnews.org about this amazing development of the Florida Citizens for Science now being the sole arbiters of who is or is not a part of the “scientific community.”

Apparently scientific inquiry is free, only so as long as you adhere to the Darwinian orthodoxy. Otherwise you will find yourself not a part of the “sceintific community.”

Some questions: Why did it take almost 1 week until the posting showed up at evolutionnews.org? And why the rhetoric? Surely this relatively small organization of concerned Florida citizens should be no match for the well funded Discovery Institute? Of course, as Crowther director of media and public relations for the CSC, has shown, it is PR issue.

And a nightmare as well… As Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute observed:

Bruce Chapman: “Dover is a disaster in a sense, as a public-relations matter. … It has given a rhetorical weapon to the Darwinists to say a judge has settled this.”

“ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard.” Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, page 89

“In summary, the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forgo scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.” Ruling - disclaimer, pg. 49 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

2 TrackBacks

I was working on writing this up earlier, but go distracted, so now I have the excellent post by PvM on the Panda’s Thumb to reference, thus saving me time and words. Joe Wolf, president of Florida Citizens for Science was quoted in the saying: ... Read More

Crying Wolf from Florida Citizens for Science on October 30, 2007 6:02 PM

Sorry for the cheesy title. The Panda’s Thumb blog gives FCS president Joe Wolf a pat on the back for his recent quotes in local newspapers about the science standards and evolution. On the other hand, Joe’s quotes attracted attention from ... Read More

7 Comments

Bruce Chapman: “Dover is a disaster in a sense, as a public-relations matter…. It has given a rhetorical weapon to the Darwinists to say a judge has settled this.”

Sure, but that judge had lots of help from the ID pushers who attended, due to their the lack of viable arguments.

Henry

Some ID friendly blogger at another site was thrashing Barbara Forrest, one of those witnesses at Dove who had viable arguments. But, funny…he or she never specified what mistakes or lies Barbara was making.

Some ID friendly blogger at another site was thrashing Barbara Forrest, one of those witnesses at Dove who had viable arguments. But, funny… he or she never specified what mistakes or lies Barbara was making.

Yeah well, that’s probably on their to-do list - right under telling everybody exactly what it is that “I.D.” explains about biology.

Henry

So far, the response has been ‘underwhelming’ as ID proponents have avoided presenting their ‘hypotheses’. After all, this would require, constraining their ‘supernatural designer(s)’.

You may very well ask yourself: How much has ID contributed to our scientific understanding. The answer to which seems to be ‘nothing’.

http://quotation-marks.blogspot.com/

Personally, I would amend the title to “ID Mostly PR and no science whatsoever”

Mostly PR and little science? If there’s anything at all other than propaganda, someone should call my attention to it. I’m especially curious what that little bit of science is.

Somehow Crowther missed the next sentence

Which is a standard quote-mine, because it then becomes apparent that the report is rather speculative on this point, based on the observation of a historically short time period.

How much of a pubjack Crowther did is obvious from the page before:

… Although that property of clays may have been vital in the origin of life and particularly in the prebiotic synthesis of organic macromolecules and as catalysts for metabolic reactions, can the perpetuation of “mistakes” in crystal structure result in the selection of a “more fit” crystal structure? It is important to emphasize that evolution is not simply reproducing mutations (mistakes in clays), but also selecting variants that are functionally more fit.

The canonical characteristics of life are an inherent capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to interact with other living organisms (and, at least on Earth, also with viruses). Natural selection is the key to evolution and the main reason that Darwinian evolution persists as a characteristic of many definitions of life. [Bold added, references removed.]

And another reason to stay away from the real content of the report is evident immediately after:

The only alternative to evolution for producing diversity would be to have environmental conditions that continuously create different life forms or similar life forms with random and frequent “mistakes” in the synthesis of chemical templates used for replication or metabolism. Such mistakes would be equivalent to mutations and could lead to traits that gave some selective advantage in an existing community or in exploiting new habitats.

That random process could lead to life forms that undergo a form of evolution without a master information macromolecule, such as DNA or RNA. It is difficult to imagine such life forms as able to “evolve” into complex structures unless other mechanisms, such as symbiosis or cell-cell fusion, are available.

It would tear a creationist heart to hear that scientists consider “the only alternative to evolution for producing diversity” is continuous and sloppy “spontaneous creation” of protobionts. In which case I say, teach the controversy. :-P

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 29, 2007 9:59 PM.

Intelligent Design: The real issue according to Johnson was the previous entry in this blog.

Science v Intelligent Design: Miller v Behe Bad science and Bad theology is the next entry in this blog.

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