Luskin vs. Science (and Scientific American)

Today, John Rennie, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American, put up on the SciAm blog his thoughts on the Kansas election situation. See: Kansas, Undo the Damage. Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute issued an immediate reply in the comments, linking to his longer blog reply…but it was mostly just long quotes of his reply last week to my PT post showing that the current Kansas Science Standards are (a) wrong and (b) creationism/”intelligent design” in a very thin disguise.

So, I can just kill two birds with one stone by posting my reply to Luskin, which I also just put into the comments on Rennie’s blog. Here it is (short and sweet, plus a few edits):

Luskin’s reply to Rennie basically just quotes his reply to my Panda’s Thumb post, which everyone should read before reading Luskin’s reply to Rennie. Look at what the science standards say, and then look at my links to the TalkOrigins Index of Creationist Claims. The changes to the science standards are all long-standing, long-refuted creationist claims.

My post: “No one here but us Critical Analysis-ists”: /archives/2006/07/no-one-here-but.html

I won’t accuse Luskin of “plain old fabricated lies”, as he does KCFS and Rennie – because it is clear that Luskin genuinely (incredibly) believes all of the ridiculous stuff he says, even if it contradicts stuff he and his allies have said at other points when it was convenient.

As for the scientists Luskin quotes – imagine if the Kansas science standards were challenged in court in a Kitzmiller-like case. Would Douglas Futuyma, WF Doolittle, Carl Woese, Niles Eldredge, Robert Caroll, and Eors Szathmary get up on the witness stand and affirm that the Kansas Science Standards accurately represented their views on the relevant science? Would any of them agree that common ancestry is in doubt? That the origin of new genes is unknown? That there are no transitional fossils? That molecular phylogenies of, say, metazoans do not show a statistically strong tree-like pattern? That evolution cannot proceed beyond “microevolution”? That irreducible complexity works as an argument against evolution? Would Eors Szathmary, of all people, say (a) the evolutionary origin of the genetic code is hopeless, which is what students will learn from the Kansas Science Standards, or (b) scientists have made massive progress in this field, by working with the plentiful evidence indicating that the genetic code evolved in a stepwise fashion? We all know he would say (b), and he could prove it with hundreds of peer-reviewed research papers by him and others, and like in Kitzmiller, the ID guys would have no mildly comparable expert to challenge him.

Let’s get real. The Kansas Science Standards would be destroyed by the very authorities Luskin cites (he cites some other people also, who are definitely not authorities). Using quote mining and ambiguous phrasing to make it appear to a casual observer that your scientifically ludicrous position is supported by serious people may work with the gullible, but it will only enrage anyone who does a serious study of these issues and thinks that truth is more important than creationist wishful thinking, and that establishing someone’s specific religious view in public schools is even more insidious when you attempt to hide it. Which is why scientists and teachers are so annoyed at the Kansas Science Standards…

PS: It won’t be out for a few more weeks yet, but should “Evolution War II” persist in Kansas, I highly recommend this book chapter in this book:

Matzke, Nicholas J., and Gross, Paul R. (2006). “Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy.” Chapter 2, pp. 28-56 of Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools. Edited by Eugenie C Scott and Glenn Branch. Foreword by: Barry W. Lynn.