The Quixotic Message

Hi all, Wesley suggested I blog this for the entertainment of the surprisingly large number of visitors we've been getting, thanks to <a href-"">links</a> from several big time bloggers.

This is fun because you don't have to be a scientist or very familiar with the ID movement to get a kick out of it. About a year ago, I posted a list of contradictions and absurdities that are common from the ID movement. These are the kinds of things that make your jaw drop to the floor and your eyes jump out of their sockets, at least if you're one of those who keeps up with the shenanigans of the ID movement. People with only passing familiarity, on the other hand, might miss them. So I drew some of them up into simple statements, taking some inspiration for a similar list that Mike Huben did for libertarianism. (Note that it's not my intent to compare libertarianism to ID or vice versa.) I originally posted the list to the discussion board, whereupon I received some suggested additions, especially from Nic, and then decided to write the whole thing up for an article on Because some of the contradictions might still be lost on a lot of people, it was suggested that I make a references page to explain and document some of these. Kieran over at Crooked Timber was nice enough to link to them yesterday, so at least I know someone is reading them. :)

So here is is:

<a href=""target="new">"The Quixotic Message", or "No Free Hunch"</a> (In the tradition of Rocky and Bullwinkle, it has an alternate name.) And then there are the...

<a href=""target="new">Quixotic References</a>. Go read them right now.

Anyway, here's an example of one of the entries:

  • ID is a program for research into the science of design, nothing more. Part of our research plans are to produce coloring books for preschoolers, and to make ourselves more likeable at parties. </ul>

    Sadly, this is not a joke. (I have it fully referenced here.) Bill Dembski really did say that coloring books for preschoolers are an example of what the ID movement should do rectify the imbalance between it's "cultural successes" and it's lack of scientific research. I mean, WTF? In a speech supposedly dedicated to getting the ID movement to focus its attention on actual research (instead of, you know, propaganda), this is the kind of stuff he comes up with? If you think I'm cherry picking, you're right. This is probably the most jaw-droppingly absurd bit of "scientific research" he lists, but it's hardly the only one. Among them, he also suggests "concentrating forces" of "troops" (his words), by which he means gathering the ID advocates under one banner to take advantage of a "key principle of military tactics" (also his words). Aside from the fact that this has nothing whatsoever to do with research, just what is the deal with warrior metaphors and Christian fundamentalism? Do they really perceive the rest of us as The Enemy, towards whom their attitude is kill or be killed? Anyway, he also suggests putting together laundry lists of "Fundamental Facts" and "Correcting Misinformation" (by which he apparently means Jonathan Wells' misinformation). These are nice and all, but they don't exactly qualify as research in the sense of using ID to formulate testable hypotheses, and then going about and testing them. And then of course he wants ID advocates to be more likeable at parties, despite the reputation that evangelicals already have for being wild and uninhibited party animals. As it turns out, there is very little, if anything, in Dembski's speech which comes close to qualifying as scientific research.

    The lesson in all of this is that if the leading light of the ID movement gets up and speaks to the home team about ideas for scientific research, and this is the kind of stuff he comes up with, one should really start to suspect that ID simply cannot be used to generate a real scientific research program. It might be different if they were willing to make ID something other than the vague mish-mash that it is, but the ID movement has a "big tent" that it seeks to keep intact for political expediency. That should tell you where their real interests lie.

    Anyway, please enjoy the rest of the Quixotic Message. And please feel free to suggest any additions in the comments below. (I'm about due for an update, but out of the dozen or so great additions I've thought of, I can only remember one.)