Steve Steve in London

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Steve Steve is having the time of his life at the Nature Network conference. Right now, he’s slumped over on the podium, recovering from yesterday’s festivities. A picture is found below.

The question for you is this: Who is Steve Steve explaining evolution to?

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Liveblogging From London from The Questionable Authority on August 30, 2008 6:35 AM

I'm sitting in the Faraday Theatre at the Royal Institution right now, at the Nature Network's Science Blogging 2008 conference. There are about 100 people in the room, 90% of whom I don't recognize at all. 90% of the... Read More

28 Comments

Ben Stein?

Richard Dawkins?

Steve Steve looks like he needs more than a new jacket. He needs a bath.

That’s Too Easy!

Isaac Newton, of course.

fusilier James 2:24

GrrlScientist, of course!

Steve also had a trip to Hutton’s Unconformity on the coast of Scotland earlier this summer; see here for details.

I know Grrl has a trapped nerve, but her am isn’t that stiff.

Prof. Steve has been enjoying him self a bit too much, he’s about to chair the final session in the meeting.

fusilier said:

That’s Too Easy!

Isaac Newton, of course.

fusilier James 2:24

Which one?

Hoping that there might be a beer on the line I’ll delurk for the first time ever and say Mr. Darwin. I find the distinctive rock formation in the background fairly convincing evidence. And it’s in London.

It’s the Lawgiver from “The Planet of The Apes”.

I think it might be the statue of Darwin in the London Museum of Natural History.

PSS is not explaining anything; he’s gazing adoringly at Darwin, and reflecting upon the advances since Chas died in 1882.

Looks to me like the Statue of Michael Faraday at the Royal Instititution. Faraday is quoted as saying “Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature, and in such things as these, experiment is the best test of such consistency.” But on the other hand, according to Wikipaedia,

‘Faraday was a devout Christian and a member of the small Sandemanian denomination, an offshoot of the Church of Scotland. He later served two terms as an elder in the group’s church.’

I haven’t found any direct references to his views on Darwin, but according to the Discovery Institute, responding to critical comments from Time Magazine’s science editor http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/0[…]zines_n.html

“Michael Faraday’s life was a seamless blend of science and faith, and his life of passionate Christian belief would equal or exceed that of many of the scientists who have signed the Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwin List. Faraday would be appalled to see his work used as an example of science divorced from faith in God and from the inference to design in nature.”

So I think our Learned Panda will find Faraday hard to convince unless his views have mellowed somewhat since his death in 1867. Who knows, maybe Someone has already taken him aside and pointed out the wonderful truth !

I thought perhaps the Professor was commiserating with Darwin about having to deal with morons like Ben Stein. Of course, Darwin mostly left it to Huxley.

Jonathan A said:

Looks to me like the Statue of Michael Faraday at the Royal Instititution.

here’s a link to a photo of the statue at the RI website:

http://www.rigb.org/contentControl?[…]=00000000013

Jonathan A said:

“Michael Faraday’s life was a seamless blend of science and faith, and his life of passionate Christian belief would equal or exceed that of many of the scientists who have signed the Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwin List. Faraday would be appalled to see his work used as an example of science divorced from faith in God and from the inference to design in nature.”

De spin Institute is punting off field as usual. Faraday is known as the best experimentalist in history (as well as the outstanding lecturer of his time), and rejected untestable “inferences” explicitly:

In the common terminology of the day, there was no essential distinction between science and philosophical thought. Faraday always referred to himself as a ‘philosopher’, not a ‘scientist’. He was nevertheless at pains to draw the distinction between his scientific ‘philosophizing’ and his Christian commitment. This must be understood in the context of a society in which the predominant approach to theology was a rationalistic one, exemplified by the liberal Anglicans. They sought to base their religion not on revelation or history - which higher criticism had begun cast doubt upon, in their minds - but on intellectual theorizing, centering around the argument from design. Faraday disavowed their approach, as he stated explicitly in his lecture ‘Observations on mental education’(1859):

Let no one suppose for a moment that the self-education I am about to commend in respect of the things of this life, extends to any considerations of the hope set before us, as if man by reasoning could find out God. It would be improper here to enter upon this subject further than to claim an absolute distinction between religious and ordinary belief. I shall be reproached with the weakness of refusing to apply those mental operations which I think good in respect of high things to the very highest. I am content to bear the reproach.

[Emphasis added.]

A second factor arguing against Faraday being interested in De scam Institute’s doings, especially the infamous list, is that he apparently had both integrity and social interest. He was among the first who successfully worked on hazardous situations (mine explosions) and environmental science (pollution), as well as rejected honorary positions (a knighthood among others) and tasks (chemical weapon construction) he didn’t like.

And a third factor arguing against is that Faraday was a nonconformist. The Sandemanians were nonevangelical, see the above link, so Faraday was not known for arguing faith outside of church.

If Faraday had the opportunity to read and react to De lie Institute’s transparent constructions of him as a crackpot supporter and list signer, he would probably had a lot to say that wouldn’t be in their favor.

Let me add that I find the taste of irony heavy in Hutchinson’s MIT series on the Faith of Great Scientists lecture on Faraday. The theology of the Sandemanians were apparently a retreat to a more substantial reading of the religious texts, and they rejected the then modern and religiously liberal argument from design.

Now both that argument and substantial readings are used by ridiculously reactionary religious groups to disempower the substance of the Sandemanians’ retreat, which now looks modern in comparison. Granted that the purpose of theology is to retreat more or less gracefully in the face of facts, but the actions of reactionary groups really puts a distinct relief to the bland results.

John Wilkins Wrote:

PSS is not explaining anything; he’s gazing adoringly at Darwin, and reflecting upon the advances since Chas died in 1882.

(faking a Stein whine): But it’s still “Darwinism.” ;-)

Is that a duffle coat that Steve Steve is wearing? It rather looks as if he’s been indulging in some “horizontal transfer” with Paddington Bear :)

(See http://www.paddingtonbear.co.uk/en/[…]achispad.mxs )

If this is the case, and given Paddington’s association with the BBC TV children’s program Blue Peter, can we expect Steve Steve to come home fully briefed and ready to show the Discovery Institute how they can make a scientific research program out of a couple of wire coathangers, a sheet of sticky-backed plastic and a yoghurt carton with the brand name carefully painted out. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_P[…]r#Traditions )

Did Kristan fall of the Beer Wagon???

Thanks for your well-researched comments Torbjorn, should have realised that the DI was very likely to mis-represent the views of a deceased Christian scientist if it suited them. Seems possible from your ‘third factor’ that Faraday made no public comment on Darwin’s Origin of Species, but if he did would be interested to know of it.

Still not sure who the statue is, hopefully Steve^2 will reveal all.

I notice that one of the two major parties has nominated an overt creationist and climate change denialist as vice presidential candidate.

No posts or comments allowed on “evolution defending” Panda’s Thumb.

Panda’s Thumb - defending science education except if “conservative Republicans” would be offended.

Which is about the same as defending a flock of sheep except if wolves and coyotes would be offended.

If you click over to the thread on genomes, you’ll find plenty of OT comments on the vice presidential nomination of Governor Palin, most of which would be offensive to “conservative Republicans.”

harold said:

I notice that one of the two major parties has nominated an overt creationist and climate change denialist as vice presidential candidate.

No posts or comments allowed on “evolution defending” Panda’s Thumb.

Panda’s Thumb - defending science education except if “conservative Republicans” would be offended.

Which is about the same as defending a flock of sheep except if wolves and coyotes would be offended.

Sorry, Harold. If PT has restrictions on discussion of candidates for the Presidential election, my guess is that it is because of Internal Revenue Service regulations regarding nonprofits, not enthusiasm for or against Republicans. The IRS is very strict about 501(c)(3) organizations engaging in any support or opposition to candidates. Same for NCSE: we won’t be discussing candidate positions on evolution, either. Within the last two years, the IRS has in fact tightened up its regulations regarding nonprofits and elections. This is different from nonprofit lobbying, where the regs are looser.

I am sure that many people on PT have opinions on the election, and they have freedom of speech to express them on their private blogs or other non-nonprofit sites, and I hope they do! But a nonprofit like PT or NCSE does not.

Genie -

Sorry, Harold. If PT has restrictions on discussion of candidates for the Presidential election, my guess is that it is because of Internal Revenue Service regulations regarding nonprofits, not enthusiasm for or against Republicans. The IRS is very strict about 501©(3) organizations engaging in any support or opposition to candidates. Same for NCSE: we won’t be discussing candidate positions on evolution, either. Within the last two years, the IRS has in fact tightened up its regulations regarding nonprofits and elections. This is different from nonprofit lobbying, where the regs are looser.

That is a rather reasonable explanation. Presumably this attention from the IRS is at least “fair and balanced”, and right wing nonprofits are similarly restricted, not only in letter, but in actual enforcement.

I certainly won’t comment further on specific candidates’ positions here.

I will note the inherent paradox. While science itself could perhaps be described as apolitical, the curriculum of taxpayer funded schools and universities is ultimately decided by 100% political processes.

Most of the time, those politics are benign. School boards and faculty in administrative positions usually accept the guidance of active experts in respective fields as to course content. At the basic, high school level, the need for change in science curriculum occurs at a very manageable pace.

However, the US constitution is a political document, and school boards and educational bureaucracies are 100% political bodies. Creationists certainly understand this, as they direct their own efforts almost exclusively at the political infrastructure. Whether rigging school board elections, provoking court cases, publishing error-riddled books for lay people on right wing presses, or setting up deceptive web sites that are designed to gull people of faith, they invariably bypass “peer review” and head straight for politics and public relations.

Of course, the NCSE has done great work within the non-profit arena. As you say, if the rest of us are frustrated by the artificiality of overlooking not an obvious, but THE most obvious feature of the “creationist movement”, we’ll have to find other venues of expression.

My comment also alluded to a secondary aspect of PT, its occasional tendency to link to far right web sites or lionize a few right wing commentators who don’t attack evolution, regardless of how extreme and offensive their other positions may be, and more to the point, even if other mainstream science, such as consensus climate science, is denied and ridiculed in the same sources. As if conceding evolution in isolation represented a “pro-science education” point of view.

Fortunately, it would seem that if the IRS taketh away, it also gives. I guess right wing politicizing will now be at least as verboten as critiquing the science positions of individual politicians.

That robe-like material makes me think of Jesus, or maybe Jon Anderson of Yes, who often wears stuff like that.

Jonathan A said:

…according to the Discovery Institute…

“Michael Faraday’s life was a seamless blend of science and faith, and his life of passionate Christian belief would equal or exceed that of many of the scientists who have signed the Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwin List. Faraday would be appalled to see his work used as an example of science divorced from faith in God and from the inference to design in nature.”

Yet another admission from the DI that (1) Intelligent Design is about “faith in God” so it’s not a science and (2) it’s possible to have “faith in God” and be a great scientist.

Uncle Charles at the Natural history Museum, South Kensington, London.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/news/[…]s_14391.html

(and, yes, it does look like Prof Steve Steve has been acquiring a new coat - wonder if the marmalade sandwich went with it?)

If the IRS is very strict about non-profit organizations (or their visitors?) dabbling in politics, then I wish that the IRS would get the lead out of its lingerie and investigate the church of a certain vice-presidential candidate for preaching that Democratic candidates are going to Hell. What was it someone once said about sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander?

Merci pour votre post.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on August 30, 2008 6:26 AM.

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