Congratulations to Dan Phelps, Kentucky scientist and activist

| 19 Comments

Daniel J. Phelps is President of the Kentucky Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists and Chairman of the Geology Section of the Kentucky Academy of Science. He is also founder and President of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, a well-respected amateur paleontological organization.

Dan is also among the most active scientists in debunking Answers in Genesis’ Creationism Museum, to the point that AIG whines about it. Dan has been tireless in critiquing the museum and the faux “science” it promotes.

Now Dan has been named Distinguished Professional Scientist in a Non-academic Position by the Kentucky Academy of Science. Congratulations to a committed supporter of science and honest science education!

19 Comments

Interesting. “Kentucky scientist” is almost an Oxy Moron! I think that it’s good that he challenges the Creationist consensus among many Americans. A debate is always healthy!

Perhaps you could clear up the debate about your “heroes and influences” brought up in another thread.

Full congrats to Dan, distinguished debunker and dino-Digger devotee!

All the more significant because, despite all the hoopala about Louisiana, Kentucky is the only state in the US with an honest creationism teaching law on the books, 158.177, since 1990 (a replacement for a briefly repealed 1976 law). Most academics take the attitude that dealing with the creationism movement can be left to the courts, conveniently lifting any responsibility from them. Dan Phelps is one of those that is actually intelligent enough to know differently. Its about time some honors were given to the heroes.

In the AIG whining article, much is made of Mr Phelps perfectly understandable refusal to debate the wonderful Dr Andrew Snelling - AiG’s Director of RESEARCH!!!

Strangely Dr Snelling’s thesis seems quite contrary to the notion of a young earth and he is not always up for debate.

http://www.noanswersingenesis.org.a[…]snelling.htm

Update note:

Dan informs us that he held the KY-AIPG President and Kentucky Academy of Science Geology Section Chairman offices in 2007, but no longer holds them.

Corbsj said:

In the AIG whining article, much is made of Mr Phelps perfectly understandable refusal to debate the wonderful Dr Andrew Snelling - AiG’s Director of RESEARCH!!!

Strangely Dr Snelling’s thesis seems quite contrary to the notion of a young earth and he is not always up for debate.

http://www.noanswersingenesis.org.a[…]snelling.htm

Why don’t AiG stage a debate between Snelling and Snelling? The Snellings might dress in a suit like we see on stage shows sometimes, one side white and the other black, turning either side to the audience according to which of the Snellings are talking?

It’s a pity that Dan Phelps did indeed stoop to name calling and called them morons in an email - it just gives them all the ammunition they need to convince their flock that the evilutionists are hateful and closed minded. It’s perfectly understandable to regard some of these people as morons, but calling them names is counter-productive and unnecessary since you can clearly demonstrate any moronic positions by clearly shredding their “logic”, without having to call them a name and give them some persecution ammo.

On the other hand, there’s no particular point in debating them. A debate simply doesn’t lend itself to the demonstration of factual evidence, and a whackdoodle like Ken Ham can burble falsehoods at the rate of three per sentence, roughly forever. Each one has to be rebutted in detail, which is simply impossible in such a forum, where the creobots bus in their claque from all over, and the stupid gets splashed over everyone. Ten minutes for rebuttal? How do you prove that a world-wide flood never happened to a bunch of ignoramuses who haven’t the slightest inkling of the fundamentals of geology or physics, who don’t want to know, and who think that three minutes of casual conversation is worth as much as ten years of research? Or, for that matter, two hundred years of hard-won knowledge from observing nature.

Scientists are interested in evidence. It’s very hard for them to get their heads around a state of mind where evidence doesn’t matter, except insofar as distortions of it can be used as talking points. And scientists are used to the idea that what matters is the facts, not how they’re presented. They actually think that demonstrated fact and empirically observed evidence trumps an assured manner and a slick powerpoint presentation. For the purpose of discovering the real world, of course they’re right, but we’re talking politics here. A scientist, naively thinking that evidence rules and truth will out, is a lamb to the slaughter before such an audience and opposed to such a “debater” as Ham.

It is nice to see KY get positive treatment in the press regarding science.

James said:

It’s a pity that Dan Phelps did indeed stoop to name calling and called them morons in an email - it just gives them all the ammunition they need to convince their flock that the evilutionists are hateful and closed minded. It’s perfectly understandable to regard some of these people as morons, but calling them names is counter-productive and unnecessary since you can clearly demonstrate any moronic positions by clearly shredding their “logic”, without having to call them a name and give them some persecution ammo.

Well, it’s understandable when Ken Ham and his coterie of creation “scientists” misrepresent one’s life work, lie about how science operates, accuse scientists (people like Dan and me and thousands of other scientists) of systematically and purposefully misleading people, and work to cripple science literacy in this country. At some point courtesy becomes otiose, and it becomes time to call a spade a spade. Ham’s “museum” presents more falsehoods and lies per square foot than the White House over the last 8 years, and that’s saying something.

Dave Luckett said: A debate simply doesn’t lend itself to the demonstration of factual evidence, and a whackdoodle like Ken Ham can burble falsehoods at the rate of three per sentence, roughly forever.

In a debate format I could insist that the Moon is made of green cheese and dance merrily forever on and around any attempts to prove otherwise. “Were you there? How do you know?”

The fun stuff, though it’s unfortunate that it comes to it, is getting Darwin-bashers on the witness stand where they are asked direct questions and are required by law to give direct answers. Having trained themselves not only in inexhaustible tapdancing but convinced themselves they actually have good arguments – they are conditioned to do the most disastrous possible thing in court.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Hi there,

I’ve just completed an interview with Catherine Boisvert, inspired by your post detailing the way in which creationists were taking some of her quotes out of context a month or so ago. I’d be grateful if you had some time to take a look at it: http://www.afreeman.org/2008/11/12/weird-fishes/

Best wishes and keep up the good work!

Chris

A Free Man said:

Hi there,

I’ve just completed an interview with Catherine Boisvert, inspired by your post detailing the way in which creationists were taking some of her quotes out of context a month or so ago. I’d be grateful if you had some time to take a look at it: http://www.afreeman.org/2008/11/12/weird-fishes/

Best wishes and keep up the good work!

Chris

Promoted to a full post.

Dan is truly one of the unsung heroes of anticreationism, and this award is long overdue. I met Dan at UK when he was a student there. He was one of the stalwarts in the early, 1980-81 Lexington school district creationism squabbles, when the “Citizens for Balanced Teaching of Origins” lobbied the Lexington board of education to begin teaching the exciting new science of creation science – Lexington can be on the cutting edge of science education with only a minimum investment of time and money! Line up here.

Dan was an active member in the anti-creationism group we formed in Lexington, wrote articulate and persuasive letters to the editor, testified at meeting after meeting, and helped turn out students to attend school board meetings. Plus he’s one of the nicest guys you’re likely to meet (with a mordant sense of humor, to make it even better.)

Dan got started opposing creationism in the schools when a lot of the PT contributors were in short pants (or maybe even diapers, some of them). He has continued to defend the integrity of science ever since, through a number of science-related organizations like the Kentucky Paleontological Society. My hat is off to him. Congrats, Dan!

Hi Genie,

Any chance NCSE might bestow an award on Dan? His work certainly warrants such an accolade IMHO.

On another, completely unrelated point, I wonder how AiG would react if Dan referred to them - and I think correctly - as a pack of mendacious intellectual pornographers. Referring to them as “morons” isn’t quite an apt description of their modus operandi.

Appreciatively yours,

John

RBH replied: “Ken Ham and his coterie of creation “scientists” RBH, those people that you (apparently) label as pseudo-scientists are some of the same ones who have written college level textbooks based on evolution! Some of those college professors came to believe as the result of the evidence, not because of a conversion experience. I do not mean this in an insulting way, but the arrogant pride, the belittling, and the childish name calling is beneath any person who claims to be of science.

You mention the “crippling of science literacy.” However, I submit to you that a creationist can develop a cell phone or find the cure to a disease just as well as those who believe in Macro evolution. We would like an open discussion. Many in the “naturalistic movement” would like to shut us up. Which side seems more reasonable and, yes, more American to you?

If you are sure of your position, why not open debate? You sound, though, as if you think your arguments would not be convincing.

Thanks, Ken

kenny maxx said:

RBH replied: “Ken Ham and his coterie of creation “scientists” RBH, those people that you (apparently) label as pseudo-scientists are some of the same ones who have written college level textbooks based on evolution! Some of those college professors came to believe as the result of the evidence, not because of a conversion experience.

Examples?

I do not mean this in an insulting way, but the arrogant pride, the belittling, and the childish name calling is beneath any person who claims to be of science.

You do realize that all that is just the icing on the cake. The cake being a thorough consideration and refutation, beyond the point where honest, rational and informed people can debate, of the creationist case. Furthermore the abuse you complain about is mostly directed at creationists who continue to make statements that they know to have been refuted.

You mention the “crippling of science literacy.” However, I submit to you that a creationist can develop a cell phone or find the cure to a disease just as well as those who believe in Macro evolution.

1) The creationists use of the term “Macroevolution” is an example of scientific illiteracy.
2) Engineers don’t need to know anything about biology so their beliefs regarding evolution are irrelevant.
3) A creationist doctor might be able to find the cure for a disease, but it is less likely. First he would have to keep his religious beliefs and his scientific knowledge strongly compartmentalized. Second he would have to stay away from areas such as antibiotic resistance, viral evolution, and the evolution of cancer cells in response to chemotherapy. Additionally, a minority of doctors, especially those involved with research are creationists.

We would like an open discussion. Many in the “naturalistic movement” would like to shut us up. Which side seems more reasonable and, yes, more American to you?

If you are sure of your position, why not open debate? You sound, though, as if you think your arguments would not be convincing.

Thanks, Ken

There is an open discussion. Your side is getting creamed. Nobody is trying to shut you up. What is this “naturalistic movement”?
Want a debate? Fine. Get some evidence, do some research, get published in legitimate scientific journals, bring your case to the scientific community. That is how scientific debate works.

P.S. Why don’t you try posting on a more current thread?

Debate is for reaching mutual decision on what to do about reality; reality itself won’t be changed by debates about it. Besides, oral debates test the debating skills of the participants more than they test the accuracy of the arguments, especially when the subject is complex, more especially when the evidence takes many books to present in detail.

Henry

kenny maxx wrote

You mention the “crippling of science literacy.” However, I submit to you that a creationist can develop a cell phone or find the cure to a disease just as well as those who believe in Macro evolution.

The key word there is “science.” I’ve read more creationist and ID literature than I care to remember over the last 20 years, starting with Gish and Morris and most recently Behe and Dembski. I’ve read the various proposals for teaching the various permutations – straight creationism, “balanced treatment,” Intelligent Design creationism, “teach the controversy,” and “critical analysis of evolution” – in the public schools. I have yet to read one such work that displays any understanding of how science works, what science is, or how one does science.

And what’s to debate? Provide some replicable research, some relevant empirical data, some testable hypotheses, and do the damn hard work of developing a coherent alternative. That’s the ground on which scientific debates occur, not pseudo-philosophical mental meanderings.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on November 10, 2008 12:22 PM.

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