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Recently in ID/Creationism Category
Casey Luskin is such a great gift to the scientific community. The public spokesman for the Discovery Institute has a law degree and a Masters degree (in Science! Earth Science, that is) and thinks he is qualified to analyze papers in genetics and molecular biology, fields in which he hasn't the slightest smattering of background, and he keeps falling flat on his face. It's hilarious! The Discovery Institute is so hard up for competent talent, though, that they keep letting him make a spectacle of his ignorance.
I really, really hope Luskin lives a long time and keeps his job as a frontman for Intelligent Design creationism. He just makes me so happy.
His latest tirade is inspired by the New York Times, which ran an article on highlights from the coelacanth genome. Luskin doesn't think very deeply, so he keeps making these arguments that he thinks are terribly damaging to evolution because he doesn't comprehend the significance of what he's saying. For instance, he sneers at the fact that we keep finding conserved elements in the genome, because as we all know, there are lots of conserved elements.
By Steven Mahone
David Klinghoffer has exploited the recent national tragedies to insult people he calls “Darwinists,” a term that he incorrectly conflates with callousness, indifference, and atheism. My colleague Steven Mahone was unimpressed by Klinghoffer’s post, penned the following reply, and graciously agreed to share it with our readers.
Update, April 24: Mr Mahone seems to have gotten Mr. Klinghoffer’s attention.
David Klinghoffer of the Discovery Institute is despondent over the recent string of tragic events that have befallen our nation. This despondency is understandable – especially since every mentally healthy person I’ve come across either in person or on social media shares essentially the same sorrow and anguish for those who were affected. Which is why I’m confused as to the intent of Klinghoffer’s recent online article, If Darwinists [sic] won the debate, what would they say to impart comfort, meaning to those in grief? In that article, Klinghoffer seems to imply that it would be a difficult task indeed for anyone who’s not inclined to pre-order the latest “game changing” polemics from his colleagues Berlinski, Meyer, or Luskin, to offer genuine consolation or even a sincere word of encouragement to anyone who is in need. Klinghoffer is convinced that while those cold, heartless, and impersonal men and women of material science might be able to cure the disease, afterwards you’d better not expect anything more than a firm handshake.
Scanning past Uncommon Descent this afternoon, I noticed a kairosfocus post pointing to the Internet Archive’s stored version of a (now defunct) website called evolutiondebate.info/ where Eric Anderson provided a “Brief Primer on Intelligent Design.” In the second paragraph we read
Rather, this represents my modest attempt to … outline the fundamental central tenet of intelligent design, which is that some things exhibit characteristics of design that can be objectively and reliably detected.
For some reason that reminded me of something William Dembski proposed years ago, a sort of catalog of designs in biology. More below the fold.
As we reflect upon the amazing body of work left behind by this giant of the movie scene, readers of the Thumb should know (if they don’t already) that Roger Ebert was a passionate defender of science, and of evolution in particular.
His passion was not un-noticed by creationists (of both young-earth and intelligent design categories). William Dembski had this to say about Ebert in an Uncommon Descent blog from 2006:
Roger Ebert: Film Critic, Expert on Evolution, ID Basher, and Overall Supergenius .….. Or is Ebert just another clueless bonehead whose imagined expertise is in exact disproportion to his actual knowledge …
Here are some memorable comments by Ebert on creationism, evolution, and religion.
The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics. It isn’t even subtle. Take its treatment of Dawkins, who throughout his interviews with Stein is honest, plain-spoken, and courteous. As Stein goes to interview him for the last time, we see a makeup artist carefully patting on rouge and dusting Dawkins’ face. After he is prepared and composed, after the shine has been taken off his nose, here comes plain, down-to-earth, workaday Ben Stein. So we get the vain Dawkins with his effete makeup, talking to the ordinary Joe.
I have done television interviews for more than 40 years. I have been on both ends of the questions. I have news for you. Everyone is made up before going on television. If they are not, they will look like death warmed over. There is not a person reading this right now who should go on camera without some kind of makeup. Even the obligatory “shocked neighbors” standing in their front yards after a murder usually have some powder brushed on by the camera person. Was Ben Stein wearing makeup? Of course he was. Did he whisper to his camera crew to roll while Dawkins was being made up? Of course he did. Otherwise, no camera operator on earth would have taped that. That incident dramatizes his approach throughout the film. If you want to study Gotcha! moments, start here.
During in all the endless discussions on several threads of this blog about evolution, intelligent design, God and the afterworld, now numbering altogether around 3,500 comments, I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist–which I am. If I were to say I don’t believe God exists, that wouldn’t mean I believe God doesn’t exist. Nor does it mean I don’t know, which implies that I could know.
Let me rule out at once any God who has personally spoken to anyone or issued instructions to men. That some men believe they have been spoken to by God, I am certain. I do not believe Moses came down from the mountain with any tablets he did not go up with. I believe mankind in general evidently has a need to believe in higher powers and an existence not limited to the physical duration of the body. But these needs are hopes, and believing them doesn’t make them true. … No, I am not a Buddhist. I am not a believer, not an atheist, not an agnostic. I am still awake at night, asking how? I am more content with the question than I would be with an answer.
The True Believers. Found in both parties. One side declares God without any doubt does exist, and created the universe and everything in it. A much smaller subset of this group is convinced that God did this in fairly recent times–as little as 6,000 years ago, or in any event too recently for Darwin’s evolutionary process to have had enough time to take place. The other side declares that God without any doubt does not exist, and it is equally certain. Both sides frequently quote the Bible, on the one hand citing its truth, on the other side citing its falsity. Christianity is the only religion involved; my blog has readers from all over the world, but apparently those from elsewhere find Intelligent Design a uniquely American notion.
The zealots of Creationism are indefatigable. Even now there are attempts to legislate that the pseudo science of Intelligent Design must be taught in school systems as a “debate” with Evolution. In common sense terms, that debate was over a century ago. Yet there are votes out there for politicians who support such legislation, and at the 2008 GOP presidential debate, no less that three candidates said they do not believe in evolution. I suppose I should be gratified that there weren’t more.
My only purpose today is to state early and often that if a Presidential candidate believes early humans used saddles to ride on the backs of dinosaurs, as they are depicted at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, that candidate should not be elected President.
And if a candidate counts among close friends and advisors anyone in communication with the spirit world, that candidate should not be elected President.
And if a candidate accounts for the fact that humanoid and dinosaur bones are never found at the same level in the fossil record by evoking the action of sediment after the Great Flood, that candidate should not be President.
And if a candidate has a spirit guide, consults his or her Chart and takes more than a passing amusement in the horoscope, that candidate should not be elected President.
There’s a category page linking these and other blogs, appropriately titled “Darwin My Hero”.
Comments about Roger Ebert are welcome. Comments that are nonsequiters, religious rants, or are otherwise irrelevant, will be tossed onto the Bathroom Wall.
After the unit on Creationism and Intelligent Design in my Critical Thinking/Science and Pseudoscience class at New Mexico Tech (Psych 189), I asked the students to write an essay on the question
Is “Intelligent Design” just another version of Creationism? Why?
Along came student Elaine, who included this comment in her essay:
It seems that if you are only comparing Intelligent Design against Creationism, there are enough subtleties to identify one or the other. However, if it is a case of arguing Intelligent Design vs. Creationism vs. evolution, the contrast between evolution and the other two is so great that Intelligent Design and Creationism become indistinguishable in their respective arguments. The only giveaway would be a reference to Genesis, the use of “God” rather than “Creator/Designer”, or some explicit differentiation between the two. In contrast, no one could ever possibly confuse an evolution argument with any other.
I remarked that the student had used evolution as an outgroup to correctly root the evolution/creationism/ID tree, and gave her an “A” for the assignment.
As Matt noted above, one of the creationist so-called “academic freedom” bills was filed in the Montana state legislature. Now the Sensuous Curmudgeon reports that the bill has been tabled in committee, whatever that means. In that post SC also has a video of some of the testimony at the committee hearing on the bill, noting that the proposer, Representative Clayton Fiscus, was the only speaker in support while a couple of dozen professors, teachers, and citizens testified in opposition. It’s worth watching both for the testimony in opposition and for the almost sad ignorance and confusion of Representative Fiscus. I genuinely wonder how he navigates through life given his evident inability to think coherently. if he’s the best the Disco Tute can come up with to sponsor their bills, they’re in deeper trouble than I thought.
That video is edited from the full hearing, and another set of excerpts consisting mostly of speakers’ identifications is on NCSE’s YouTube channel. It does not include Representative Fiscus’ remarks. I wouldn’t be surprised if video of the full hearing including all testimony is somewhere, but I haven’t looked for it.
(crossposted from Recursivity)
One thing that separates pseudoscience from science is fecundity: real science takes place in a social context, with an active community of scholars meeting and exchanging ideas. The ideas in one paper lead to another and another; good papers get dozens or hundreds of citations and suggest new active areas of study.
By contrast, pseudoscience is sterile: the ideas, such as they are, lead to no new insights, suggest no experiments, and are espoused by single crackpots or a small community of like-minded ideologues. The work gets few or no citations in the scientific literature, and the citations they do get are predominantly self-citations.
Here is a perfect example of this sterility: Bio-Complexity, the flagship journal of the intelligent design movement. As 2012 draws to a close, the 2012 volume contains exactly two research articles, one “critical review” and one “critical focus”, for a grand total of four items. The editorial board has 30 members; they must be kept very busy handling all those papers.
(Another intelligent design journal, Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, hasn’t had a new issue since 2005.)
By contrast, the journal Evolution has ten times more research articles in a single issue (one of 12 so far in 2012). And this is just a single journal where evolutionary biology research is published; there are many others.
But that’s not the most hopeless part. Of the four contributions to Bio-Complexity in 2012, three have authors that are either the Editor in Chief (sic), the Managing Editor, or members of the editorial board of the journal. Only one article, the one by Fernando Castro-Chavez, has no author in the subset of people running the journal. And that one is utter bilge, written by someone who believes that “the 64 codons [of DNA are] represented since at least 4,000 years ago and preserved by China in the I Ching or Book of Changes or Mutations”.
Intelligent design advocates have been telling us for years that intelligent design would transform science and generate new research paradigms. They lied.
Pat Robertson made a stunning revelation on the 700 Club show, on Tuesday, November 27th.
Here’s the clip:
Cue howls of anguished protest from Ken Ham in 3,2,1…
Added: if you don’t see Pat Robertson in the YouTube frame above, then click here to see the video.
This is a guest post by Robert J. Asher. Asher is a paleontologist in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. He is also the author of the recently-published book Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist.
In February 2012, Asher authored the essay “Why I am an Accommodationist” for Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rober[…]1298554.html).
Jason Rosenhouse wrote a reply at his EvolutionBlog in March 2012 (http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionbl[…]mmodationism). Asher’s response is below.
– Nick Matzke
God as a Superhuman: A (belated) Response to Jason Rosenhouse
Way back in February, I tried to make the case that accommodation between religious belief and a scientific worldview is a good thing. I remain convinced that in order to make a positive difference in science literacy, educators should distinguish between superstition and religion, understand that human identity can entail elements of both, and acknowledge that science does not render religion untenable. My particular focus in that essay was that believers need not attribute a human-like mode of creativity to their god. Conversely, I argued that anti-theists (by which I mean those atheists who view religion as terminally misguided) and creationists (by which I mean those who think natural mechanisms are insufficient to explain at least some aspects of biological evolution) often agree with each other in rejecting, or at least not liking, this viewpoint. Both argue (for different reasons) that a god without some human-like will to circumvent biology & physics for its own ends is too remote and/or abstract to be worth worshipping, or representative of “real” religion as practiced by millions of people today. I believe that both are wrong on this point.
One creationist claim that's commonly laughed at is this idea that 8 people could build a great big boat, big enough to hold all the 'kinds' of animals, and that those same 8 people were an adequate work force to maintain all those beasts for a year in a confined space on a storm-tossed ark. So the creationists have created a whole pseudoscientific field called baraminology which tries to survey all of taxonomy and throw 99% of it out, so they can reduce the necessary number of animals packed into the boat. Literally, that's all it's really about: inventing new taxonomies with the specific goal of lumping as many as possible, in order to minimize the load on their fantasy boat.
In the past, I've seen them argue that a biblical 'kind' is equivalent to a genus; others have claimed it's the Linnaean family. Now, Dr Jean K. Lightner, Independent Scholar (i.e. retired veterinarian), has taken the next step: a kind is equivalent to an order, roughly. Well, she does kind of chicken out at the Rodentia, the largest and most diverse group of mammals, and decides that those ought to be sorted into families, because otherwise she's reducing the number of animals on the ark too much.
As we all know, the new book from the Disco ‘Tute, Science and Human Origins, has taken a considerable amount of flak for various and sundry flaws. Paul McBride has a chapter-by-chapter review starting here. Amusing among the critiques was Carl Zimmer’s quest to get a reference from the authors for a specific claim, summarized here. Nick Matzke posted an equally amusing account of a Facebook exchange with (presumably) the authors in a thumb comment. The Disco Tute authors ended that exchange by closing comments on the thread, running for a venue that doesn’t allow comments.
Now Afarensis has dissected another claim made in an excerpt from the paleo chapter by Luskin (who is a lawyer writing on paleo) about what Luskin calls Later Hominins: The Australopithecine Gap, I strongly recommend Afarensis’ takedown to our readers. I particularly call attention to Afarensis’ analysis of Luskin’s quote-mining and misrepresentations about Lucy. Is anyone surprised?
Troy Britain at Playing Chess with Pigeons does an exceedingly thorough job on creationist and IDist blather about gill slits in embryology, and in the process provides some nice historical context. Recommended.
And for the “ID isn’t religious” crowd out there, IDists Ann Gauger and Douglas Axe of the Disco ‘Tute’s Biologic Institute, along with the DI’s attack gerbil Casey Luskin, have a new book called Science and Human Origins coming out in which they “…debunk recent claims that the human race could not have started from an original couple.” An intelligent design argument for a literal Adam and Eve, anyone? The Discovery Institute is becoming more and more overtly creationist, with apologetics overwhelming any scientific aspirations it might once have had. And after all, what do those dumb population geneticists know?
Today on the DI Media Complaints Division blog, William Dembski writes,
I recall posting on my blog a gorgeous picture of wildflowers, hinting at the wonders of God’s creation, and seeing comments by atheistic evolutionists who dismissed it as merely “sex” run amuck.
I actually remember this post. It was a post Dembski put up on May 14, 2005 at Uncommon Descent. Quoth Dembski:
An interesting pattern of Discovery Institute behavior has become evident in several events over the last 8 years. It’s a hit and run tactic, with emphasis on the “run.” In at least four significant instances of attempts to jam intelligent design creationism or one of its semantic equivalents into an educational context, the Disco ‘Tute was involved early in the process, providing aid and comfort to the local ID Creationism pushers. But later when push came to shove, the Disco ‘Tute backed out, abandoning their local proxies to the courts and the voters. I’ll briefly describe the four instances (Ohio State BOE; Mt. Vernon, OH, Dover, PA; and Darby, MO) I have in mind below the fold, highlighting the Disco ‘Tute’s style of participation.
There is still mostly an eerie silence from the creationists/IDists on the Springer/Cornell issue (previous PT posts: 1, 2, 3). Basically all we have in terms of official response are the comments given to Inside Higher Ed. But much of the evidence of the details of the conference that originally existed has been taken down. Here are the examples of which I am aware:
Those following the controversy about the ID/creationist volume that was scheduled for publication by Springer that is being further peer-reviewed by Springer should make sure to check out the piece by reporter Kaustuv Basu at Inside Higher Ed. (See previously: PT post #1, PT post #2.)
Here, we get the first reactions from the creationists involved with the project:
This week’s furor broke along predictable lines, with the editors of the book criticizing the attitude of the supporters of evolution. John Sanford, one of five editors of the book and a courtesy associate professor at Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture, said in an e-mail that he was amazed that anyone could think that the “Darwin Dissidents” were trying to take over academe.
“Obviously we are only trying to exercise academic freedom and freedom of speech, and are challenging a sacred cow,” he wrote. “Where are the academics who profess tolerance and open dialog? Where are the academics who would confront ‘hate speech’ on their own campus?”
There is apparently a lot of confusion about what “free speech” means in the creationist community. Just this week I experienced this with Casey Luskin. I recently emailed him to express my worry that he might have trouble sleeping at night, after he abandoned his oft-stated claims to be environmentalist and pro-science when he wrote this post: “A Friendly Letter to the Heartland Institute and Other Advocates of Free Speech on Global Warming”. The post gave all kinds of love to the global-warming deniers, and didn’t bother to raise a single finger of criticism for the deniers’ numerous shenanigans, even though Luskin agrees with the mainstream that global warming is happening and humans are causing it. Luskin replied that he was just defending freedom of speech, to which I replied:
As those who have followed the comment thread on the previous post know, the link to the webpage for the forthcoming creationist/ID “Biological Information: New Perspectives” volume on the Springer website went dead yesterday, approximately 24 hours after the PT post went up. This may mean that the volume had already been identified as problematic, and the webpage was put up due to some oversight or failure to update a database.
Surprisingly for the ID movement, which normally cries “oppression” and “freedom of speech” at the first sight of criticism, there has been virtually no reaction so far. The only creationist reaction is from Todd Wood, who is a lone wolf in the creationist movement in several ways. David Klinghoffer at the Discovery Institute (DI) did put a post up at the DI Media Complaints Division soon after my post, but it was taken down before anyone saw it, except apparently for Google blog aggregators.