Salma and Daniel better not listen to Michael

| 214 Comments

From the website of the Schilling School, “A Nationally Recognized K-12 [Charter] School for the Gifted in Cincinnati, Ohio”:

Dr. Michael Behe to present at Schilling. Mark your calendar for Sunday, April 6th from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm to hear him present, “ Feeling left out by the Ham-Nye Debate? The Reasonable Middle Ground of Intelligent Design.” Call 489-8940 for ticket prices and group rates.

Congratulations to our 2014 U.C. Science Fair winners. All of our students won a cash prize. Two of our students Salma and Daniel have been invited to participate at the state science fair in Columbus next month. Good luck to the both of them!

And may they not be seduced by pseudoscience.

Acknowledgment. Thanks to an alert reader for sending us the link.

214 Comments

Isn’t a charter school a publicly (taxpayer) funded institution? Hasn’t ID been pretty much shot down in public schools, as a religious rather than scientific contention?

Maybe since this is not offered during the school day, as part of the curriculum, it doesn’t fall under the purview of the law. Is the public school inviting, sponsoring and promoting this event (they seem to be on their website), or are they just renting their auditorium to a private entity? The phone number for tickets is the school number.

IANAL, but it would seem that if this event is sponsored BY THE SCHOOL, then they have edged into the ‘teaching a particular religious viewpoint’ territory, even if students are not required to attend.

I’m somewhat familiar with the Schilling School. They had Bill Nye visit the day after the debate with Ken Ham, during regular school hours. The Behe talk is on a Sunday evening.

It is not a “charter school” in the sense the Just Bob suggests:

The Ohio Department of Education says:

A Chartered Nonpublic school is a private school that holds a valid charter issued by the state board of education and maintains compliance with the Operating Standards for Ohio’s Schools (Ohio Administrative Code 3301-35-12). These schools are not supported by local or state tax dollars and require the family to pay tuition.

Legally, I think they are on solid ground. Scientifically, not so much, at least in this case.

Yes, sorry – according to their website, it is not a charter school in the usual meaning of that term; rather, it is a nonprofit chartered by the state:

The Schilling School for Gifted Children is a not for profit, independent, coeducational institution founded in 1997, chartered by the Ohio Department of Education, and maintaining membership in the Ohio Association of Independent Schools.

If the kids are truly gifted they’ll throw stuff at Behe

No more gifts, kids, here’s a pseudoscientist!

I don’t suppose that it’s an April 1 joke, so I have to hope that they’re bringing Behe in for an exercise in “spot the confirmation bias, false dilemmas, and assorted other sins against logic.”

Otherwise, why bother?

Glen Davidson

I feel I have to mention that it’s pretty appalling that they are teaching “gifted” kids to write “the both of them”. Their writing program is obviously not up to the “gifted” level.

And I note that they have not a single computer science course in the high school. Maybe they are just a classical science program in the 19th century mode.

Percentage of students with IQs 130-144: 45% Percentage of students with IQs 145 and above: 55%

How accurately can the IQ of kindergarten age kids be determined? If anyone knows.…

Karen S. said:

If the kids are truly gifted they’ll throw stuff at Behe

You mean like questions that he would be embarassed to answer. Something like, Why call it intelligent design when your title suggests that it is just repackaged Christianity? If ID is so wonderful why are controversies about melanic moths more of a scientific controversy than irreducible complexity or any of the rest of the IDiocy? Why doesn’t the current switch scam that the IDiots are running not even mention that ID ever existed? The institute that you are a fellow of is selling the switch scam so what is the deal? The Discovery Institute used to claim that ID was their business, but what are they doing today?

Ron Okimoto said:

Karen S. said:

If the kids are truly gifted they’ll throw stuff at Behe

You mean like questions that he would be embarassed to answer. Something like, Why call it intelligent design when your title suggests that it is just repackaged Christianity? If ID is so wonderful why are controversies about melanic moths more of a scientific controversy than irreducible complexity or any of the rest of the IDiocy? Why doesn’t the current switch scam that the IDiots are running not even mention that ID ever existed? The institute that you are a fellow of is selling the switch scam so what is the deal? The Discovery Institute used to claim that ID was their business, but what are they doing today?

I suggest questions which are easy to answer (if there is an answer), such as:

What happened, when or where, how or why?

Why did things turn out this way, among all of the things that “Intelligent Designers” would be capable of doing?

What are “Intelligent Designers” not capable of (or willing to) doing?

In particular, why did they make the human body most like those of chimps and other apes? What that just a matter of chance; or some limitation on the materials the Intelligent Designers were given to work with; or was there a shared purpose intended for us and chimps and other apes?

TomS said: I suggest questions which are easy to answer (if there is an answer), such as:

What happened, when or where, how or why?

I do think Ron is onto something when his questions ask about progress though. Your 11th and 12th graders may not just be interested in what ID says, but in how it stacks up as a potential career choice. They are probably thinking about colleges and majors. So given that, a reasonable question for them to ask (albeit a bit sophisticated) would be something like: “Prof. Behe, 20 years ago you claimed to have discovered three irreducibly complex structures. How many more have been discovered in the last 20 years? And what has this research led to in terms of scientific progress?”

eric said:

TomS said: I suggest questions which are easy to answer (if there is an answer), such as:

What happened, when or where, how or why?

I do think Ron is onto something when his questions ask about progress though. Your 11th and 12th graders may not just be interested in what ID says, but in how it stacks up as a potential career choice. They are probably thinking about colleges and majors. So given that, a reasonable question for them to ask (albeit a bit sophisticated) would be something like: “Prof. Behe, 20 years ago you claimed to have discovered three irreducibly complex structures. How many more have been discovered in the last 20 years? And what has this research led to in terms of scientific progress?”

How about:

Where did you publish this break-through?

How many other publications so you have in this field?

DId you win the Noble Prize for this astonishing achievement?

I would like to came and work in your lab when I graduate, what specific experimental techniques will I need to know? Do you do DNA sequencing? How about microarray analysis? Developmental genetics? How many graduate students do you have working in your lab and what projects are they working on?

What research grants do you currently have?

These are some of the questions that really intelligent high school students should be asking? What are the chances that they will?

I do think Ron is onto something when his questions ask about progress though.

Agreed. In 2002, at the ID debate at the American Museum of Natural History, Ken Miller asked the ID people why they had made no progress in their research. Dembski whined that it was all about getting money for research. Well, here we are, 12 years later, and there still has been no progress in ID. A hallmark of pseudoscience is that it makes no progress.

On the other hand, true science makes progress sometimes at a dizzying pace. Right in the middle of creating a new pterosaur exhibition for the American Museum of Natural History, the museum artists had to revise some of their models because new research on the animals had come in!

DS said: I would like to came and work in your lab when I graduate, what specific experimental techniques will I need to know? Do you do DNA sequencing? How about microarray analysis? Developmental genetics? How many graduate students do you have working in your lab and what projects are they working on?

This one is triply good. Its rhetorically good in that it’s positive towards the speaker rather than attacking them. Its secondly good in that even Behe is going to have to admit that the right background is mainstream biology. And, lastly, its good on a personal-to-Behe note because it may get him to admit that (AIUI) his actual lab work, has nothing to do with ID.

Karen S. said:

I do think Ron is onto something when his questions ask about progress though.

Agreed. In 2002, at the ID debate at the American Museum of Natural History, Ken Miller asked the ID people why they had made no progress in their research. Dembski whined that it was all about getting money for research. Well, here we are, 12 years later, and there still has been no progress in ID. A hallmark of pseudoscience is that it makes no progress.

And one hears about how there are so many scientists are interested in ID. So many researchers and so many years, and there is so little to show.

But I still like that the question about the human-ape similarity of design. Because if it is due to similar purpose, it suggests that (to follow the purposes of our “Intelligent Designer(s)”) we ought to act like apes. (While the evolutionary account of this is that there is no purpose to the similarity, just common ancestry.)

Ron Okimoto said: Why call it intelligent design when your title suggests that it is just repackaged Christianity?

I think Ron’s on to something here. Behe’s title seems to be an admission that ID is just “Creationism Lite”.

John Harshman said:

Ron Okimoto said: Why call it intelligent design when your title suggests that it is just repackaged Christianity?

I think Ron’s on to something here. Behe’s title seems to be an admission that ID is just “Creationism Lite”.

“Dog-whistle Creationism”

How’s that poof mechanism working out in the lab, Mike? Got a picture or anything yet?

Glen Davidson

And one hears about how there are so many scientists are interested in ID. So many researchers and so many years, and there is so little to show.

If there are closet ID theorist professors, you would think they would come out of hiding after gaining tenure. Just like Behe.

But I think a good question to ask is “How do you control for intelligent designers in experiments?” Would they be able to mess with your experiments? Seems that would be an important consideration.

Karen S. said:

But I think a good question to ask is “How do you control for intelligent designers in experiments?”

Easy. You let them do what they will with the experimental batch, but you pray real hard that they not interfere with the controls.

Dr Behe, do you still support expanding the definition of science theory in order to include ID?

Dr Behe, did you really say at the Dover trial that if the definition of science theory is broadened, that astrology would also be science theory??? If so, wouldn’t that also include “fields” such as alchemy, pyramid power, and weather shamanism?

So, idle curiosity, what actual science does Dr Behe currently do?

I recall that he actually published a paper in a peer reviewed journal a couple of years ago. However, AFAIK, his productivity has fallen off drastically since his book, Darwin’s Black Box came out.

daoudmbo said:

So, idle curiosity, what actual science does Dr Behe currently do?

Karen S. said:

I do think Ron is onto something when his questions ask about progress though.

Agreed. In 2002, at the ID debate at the American Museum of Natural History, Ken Miller asked the ID people why they had made no progress in their research. Dembski whined that it was all about getting money for research. Well, here we are, 12 years later, and there still has been no progress in ID. A hallmark of pseudoscience is that it makes no progress.

On the other hand, true science makes progress sometimes at a dizzying pace. Right in the middle of creating a new pterosaur exhibition for the American Museum of Natural History, the museum artists had to revise some of their models because new research on the animals had come in!

The ID perps haven’t been idle in the last 20 years. Nothing has panned out, but they did come up with their claims of a new law of thermodynamics that would save ID, and Dembski didn’t come up with CSI until after the turn of the century. None of that junk was ever verified or even published in a scientific journal, but you never know what Behe might try. It might be a hoot for Behe to try to explain how it is viable to propose a new law of thermodynamics in order to justify something that has never amounted to anything in the entire history of science. One ID success in explaining something that we can study in nature is all they would need, but there never has been one. If one did exist they hide it very well at the Discovery Institute.

Tenncrain said:

Dr Behe, do you still support expanding the definition of science theory in order to include ID?

Dr Behe, did you really say at the Dover trial that if the definition of science theory is broadened, that astrology would also be science theory??? If so, wouldn’t that also include “fields” such as alchemy, pyramid power, and weather shamanism?

Make Behe support his court testimony.

Ask him if he still thinks that it is a good thing to teach high school students that the fact that none of the ID inferences indicate that the Christian God or any other such intelligent designer is doing anything today or likely for the last couple hundred million years (how long ago was the immune system and the blood clotting system designed?) that high school students should understand that their God may no longer exist, that God may be dead?

Does the title “The Reasonable Middle Ground of Intelligent Design.” suggest the Discotute is subtly shifting to a new strategy or is it just another way to say “Teach the controversy”?

This seems to say to me “You don’t have to commit to either science or creationism, you can have a bet each way with ID!”

“The Reasonable Middle Ground of Intelligent Design” = Maybe sometime in the long-ago past, maybe some being – deity, alien, whatever – maybe did some little thing to maybe tinker with evolution a little. Maybe.

The Reasonable Middle Ground of Intelligent Design.

All of the science of YECism, with none of the specifics.

Next up, “The Reasonable Middle Ground of Atmosphere-Dwelling Alien Gods: Splitting the Difference Between Ancient Astronaut Theorists and Traditional Archaeology.”

Between evidence and revelation is always a wondrous middle ground of worthless tripe.

Glen Davidson

Tenncrain asks:

Dr Behe, did you really say at the Dover trial that if the definition of science theory is broadened, that astrology would also be science theory???

Behe answered this question in 2006, at a University of Kansas lecture. The Reasonable Kansans blog (hosted by FTK), and also Evolution News and Views, reported thusly.

“Another misperception came out in the Q&A session. Behe was asked if he believed astrology was science because he had been quoted all over the media as saying astrology would fit in with his definition of science.

Behe stated that at that point in the trial they were discussing the definition of science. He was asked if astrology was science and Behe said he stated astrology was considered science in the 13th and 14th century and that it in part led to astronomy.

He was referring to historical times, not current times. But, the media only picked up his reference to astrology being acceptable in his definition of science.”

– (from the “Reasonable Kansans” Blog, by blogster “FTK”, who attended the lecture. Reprinted in Evolution News and Views, by Casey Luskin, “Michael Behe Speaks in Kansas on Intelligent Design”, Dec. 11, 2006.)

So in fact Tenncrain’s question is fully answered, and has been so for about eight years now.

****

Additional commentary can be found in a 2005 article by Casey Luskin, at Evolution News and Views:

Put the NAS (National Academy of Sciences) on the witness stand, and they would admit that 500 years ago, some people would have said that geocentrism qualified under their definition of “theory.”

In fact, 500 years ago, many of these same people would have put “astrology” under the NAS definition (note: we find this incredible today, but in his time, it was not scandalous that Newton was an astrologer).

Today we know both astrology and geocentrism are totally wrong, and so nobody wants them taught as science in school.

–Luskin, “500 Years Ago, Geocentrism & Astrology Would have Fit NAS definition of Theory”, Oct. 19, 2005.

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/1[…]y001085.html

FL

Just Bob said:

“The Reasonable Middle Ground of Intelligent Design” = Maybe sometime in the long-ago past, maybe some being – deity, alien, whatever – maybe did some little thing to maybe tinker with evolution a little. Maybe.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that.

That particular point of view, although it fails Occam’s razor and is untestable, is perfectly compatible with mainstream understanding of biological evolution. It is critical that we not mistake ID/creationism for this view.

Behe is an evolution denier, period..

“Intelligent Design” is a legal/political construction, and it is “creation science” taking the fifth. It is a fake set of obviously illogical arguments trying to claim the biological evolution cannot account for the diversity and relatedness of the biosphere. The particular illogical argument most associated with Behe is that “irreducibly complex” structures and pathways could not have evolved. He specifically uses the bacterial flagellum, the mammalian clotting cascade and malaria parasites as examples of things that could not possibly have evolved.

He has one sound bite, or two if you count “malaria parasites needed to have two mutations at once so that couldn’t have happened” as different from “the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex so it couldn’t have evolved”.

He doesn’t argue that the designer “might have” tinkered with malaria parasites, he clearly argues that the “designer” must have tinkered with malaria parasites because they cannot possibly have evolved.

He has been shown to be wrong in every way. Things that meet his definition of “irreducible complexity” can evolve. Things he calls “irreducibly complex” aren’t always “irreducibly complex”.

Virtually 100% of activity by “ID advocates” consists of denial of the theory of evolution.

There is no rationale for ID/creationism except as a method to promote creationist evolution denial, while disguising specific religious content in a futile effort to evade court challenges.

It has no independent value and is not something anyone would have come up with spontaneously.

I will post questions for Behe later.

Behe stated that at that point in the trial they were discussing the definition of science. He was asked if astrology was science and Behe said he stated astrology was considered science in the 13th and 14th century and that it in part led to astronomy.

I believe this is false. I believe he did not state this specifically during the trial. I believe he made no mention of that historical period during the trial.

However, if someone shows me that in the trial transcript, he did, I retract this.

Eric said -

Okay, I will. First, I really dislike this sort of indirect motivational analysis. Its too easy a vehicle for just insulting someone while pretending that’s not what you’re doing. If you were really interested in understanding his background rather than ad hom, why not just ASK the guy instead of attributing these traits to him? He’s visting here multiple times a day, its not like there is any need to speculate about his background when you could probably get a direct answer in a couple of hours.

Eric, objectively, creationists do not tell the truth.

Often they are deluded by self-serving bias, but at other times they clearly lie.

They use straw man constructions and quote mines to lie about what other people believe. That’s flat lying; they are intellectually capable of understanding what their critics actually said.

They lie about their own credentials, both by implying that credentials they do hold apply to unrelated fields, and even more egregiously, they often flat lie about what their own credentials are. I have repeatedly seen creationist “computer scientists” and “engineers” turn out to be nothing of the sort. The common creationist habit of getting a “PhD” from a diploma mill is well known.

They lie about being creationists, and they even admit that they lie about being creationists. They even have the term “stealth apologetics” to describe, approvingly in some venues, the concept of lying about their own true position to trick other people with semantic games. I’ve had creationists get frustrated and tell me that they won’t admit their true position on something because it would make them look “barbaric” to openly state it. I have had that happen in this venue.

To deal with people who are not telling the truth, you don’t have to be harsh, you don’t have to threaten, you don’t have to use vulgarity, you don’t have to hurl blatant insults or epithets. None of those uncivil tactics are necessary.

But you do have to challenge them, by stating that you think they are not telling the truth. Only that will affect them. If you don’t, they will babble untruths endlessly.

After all, if you are wrong, they can easily demonstrate that.

harold said: To deal with people who are not telling the truth, you don’t have to be harsh, you don’t have to threaten, you don’t have to use vulgarity, you don’t have to hurl blatant insults or epithets. None of those uncivil tactics are necessary.

To resort to the “harsh” may be welcome to them. It is being persecuted. A mark of their devotion to the Truth.

The lurker is likely find it unpleasant. A flame war is not enlightening. For those who like to read flame wars … are we supposed to be entertainers, or defenders of rational thinking?

TomS said:

harold said: To deal with people who are not telling the truth, you don’t have to be harsh, you don’t have to threaten, you don’t have to use vulgarity, you don’t have to hurl blatant insults or epithets. None of those uncivil tactics are necessary.

To resort to the “harsh” may be welcome to them. It is being persecuted. A mark of their devotion to the Truth.

The lurker is likely find it unpleasant. A flame war is not enlightening. For those who like to read flame wars … are we supposed to be entertainers, or defenders of rational thinking?

It’s always my goal to be as civil and persuasive as possible. I don’t claim to perfectly achieve that goal. But it is my goal. I have no problem with others letting off steam. The scientific case against creationism is not dependent on politeness from science supporters. However, I have my way of responding to creationism, and others have their way.

First of all one may rarely be dealing with a young David Starling MacMillan. That’s rare, and if you are you won’t know it, because they’ll behave like a typical creationist during the conversation. But persuasive argumentation may have a longer term impact.

More importantly it’s valuable to demonstrate to third party readers that science can be defended with the calmness that comes from confidence and honesty. The creationists always become personally insulting fairly shortly after being challenged, and frequently arrive blazing insults to begin with. This looks doubly bad when met with calm rebuttal. In fact they insult as a defense to prevent calm rebuttal.

Having said that, I also always say that there is a massive difference between civility and obsequiousness. It may be a tricky balance for some. But if you walk on eggshells showing exaggerated deference and “respect” to creationists, you inflate the value of their arguments in the eyes of third party readers.

A good test is whether you are saying things that you wouldn’t say to a professional colleague during a fairly strong dispute about something. I would never call my professional colleagues “idiot”. I would, though, ask civil but challenging questions and expect them to defend their ideas, and to admit that they couldn’t defend the idea well, if they couldn’t. Which is, by the way, what I have done on numerous occasions.

If it became clear that a professional colleague was refusing to acknowledge the obvious, and using tactics associated with dishonesty, such as evasion of obvious questions, obvious mis-representation of what others are saying, attempting to distract with unreasonable claims of having been insulted, attempting to distract by insulting (while meanwhile making unreasonable and exaggerated claims of feeling insulted), constantly changing the subject (for example pretending to be the put-upon defender of some generic ideal that everyone actually agrees with, rather than dealing with the real issue), then of course I might say “What the heck is going on here? You aren’t responding reasonably to the issue at hand. Is there some agenda that I should know about?” That is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

SWT said: Even if it turns out the BoZ3MaN is Ken Miller (and I am skeptical of that), the text omitted by FL significantly changes how a reasonable adult will understand the comment.

Also, kudos for getting the link to work. I tried to, but in preview it didn’t work for me. Now I just have to live down the shame of having admitted to searching for something with Yahoo. In my own defense, it was the third search engine I tried.

Sorry but I should have ‘splained what I did there. The URL in question was huge so it was likely the length or perhaps a special character that Panda’s commenting script choked on. I made it postable by neutering it with TinyURL

Also, there’s no shame in admitting you went above and beyond utilizing available resources. I’ve switched to the non-logging DuckDuckGo some time ago and only bother with Google when that fails me or I need an image, a map, or other specific type of search. DDG search result pages offer you direct links to those as well based upon your search terms though it’s still hit or miss sometimes. You mentioned Yahoo being your third engine so perhaps I’m preaching to the choir here. Apologies for the belated reply.

harold said: They use straw man constructions and quote mines to lie about what other people believe. That’s flat lying; they are intellectually capable of understanding what their critics actually said.

“as [insert scientist] admits .…”

“as [insert scientist] confesses .…”

The conspiratorial overtones and implications are a favorite go-to.

DS said: I guess I forgot about the fifth element.

Leeloo Dallas Multi-Pass

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