Jack Krebs posted Entry 957 on April 12, 2005 11:12 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/955

The Wichita Eagle had an excellent editorial today in support of the boycott of the Kansas state BOE’s upcoming kangaroo court meant to showcase Intelligent Design.  (See here for a list of the Intelligent Design illuminati being invited at tax-payer expense)

Here is the editorial in its entirety — it’s short, powerful, and to the point.  ‘Nuff said, as they say. 

You might consider sending author Randy Scholfield, writing for the Eagle editorial board, a note of appreciation, or writing a letter to the editor in support of the Eagle’s opinion.  See here for contact information.

Evolution hearings rejected by scientists

The nation’s scientific community has weighed in on the Kansas Board of Education’s efforts to put Darwin on trial.

They’re boycotting en masse.

This resounding rejection of the hearings speaks volumes about how the mainstream scientific community sees the Kansas evolution “controversy.”

It has no credibility.

In recent weeks, the Kansas Department of Education staff has failed to find any scientists in Kansas or the nation who want to legitimize the upcoming May hearings with their presence.

Not one of Kansas’ six major universities has agreed to send scientists.

Not one of the nation’s top science organizations has responded to the request.

For the vast majority of scientists, the “controversy” about the legitimacy of evolutionary theory simply doesn’t exist.

For them, evolution is a cornerstone of modern science in several fields, and its validity and usefulness is beyond dispute.

And the small number of intelligent design backers who want a forum have not begun to do the real work needed to challenge that consensus.

Predictably, BOE chairman Steve Abrams, one of three creationists who would preside over the hearings, suggested that the refusal meant the scientific community was incapable of defending evolution.

“It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘We can’t defend what’s put out there, so we’re not going to participate,’” Mr. Abrams said.

Well, no. It’s almost like they’re saying, “This rigged forum, with a predetermined outcome, has no credibility whatsoever in the scientific community. So what’s the point?”

Baiting scientists won’t get them to appear. Because as they rightly perceive, the hearings are a political effort to legitimize ID by parading a small number of “experts” before the public.

The board majority has announced a list of those ID witnesses, and while many have academic Ph.D.s, what they lack is telling: significant publications on ID in major science journals and mainstream conferences.

Some of them, such as lawyer John Calvert, aren’t even scientists.

What scientists see is a monkey trial. What Kansans should see is a waste of time and money and, once again, a train wreck for the state’s image.

From http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/editorial/11368773.htm…

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Comment #24557

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 13, 2005 1:54 AM (e)

Dr. Davison may note the differences between Mendel’s situation and the current one: Mendel worked to inform other scientists, not school boards.

Comment #24558

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 2:09 AM (e)

what do you think is going to happen after kansas, John?

will the heavens open onto us and show us the error of our ways?

what will you do when nothing happens at all, which is exactly what will happen?

don’t you think you need help yet?

Comment #24560

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 2:38 AM (e)

“You might consider sending author Randy Scholfield, writing for the Eagle editorial board, a note of appreciation, or writing a letter to the editor in support of the Eagle’s opinion”

done.

Comment #24561

Posted by John on April 13, 2005 3:22 AM (e)

Mr Davison seems to choose to ignore the fact that none of the participants of this conference has actually done any RESEARCH that supports ID. Seems pretty nutty to have a conference about a subject that doesn’t actually exist yet.

Comment #24562

Posted by My other brain is a 486 on April 13, 2005 3:43 AM (e)

Of course there has been no research. How would they do it? Do a lot of experiments and the outcomes they can’t understand they attribute to their “designer”? Observe nature and whatever they don’t understand, they say “the designer did it”?

Comment #24563

Posted by My other brain is a 486 on April 13, 2005 3:45 AM (e)

Oh and one more thing, leaked documents from the DI suggest that religion and the destruction of real science are goals of their organisation. Either way, Intelligent Design IS creationism *per definition* but not necessarily Genesis creationism.

Comment #24565

Posted by snex on April 13, 2005 5:38 AM (e)

somebody should at least send an “official” letter to the schoolboard describing the boycott and its reasons, so sillyness like mr davison’s can be put to rest.

Comment #24570

Posted by Chip Poirot on April 13, 2005 7:03 AM (e)

Sheer nonsense-and what’s more, I suspect you know it is. All I hear from your side is a lot of baiting.

There is a deep philosophical argument to be had and as such, it belongs in the philosophy journals. If you want to argue about teleology and purpose, I have no objection. But what does that do for a research strategy?

And of course, as it has been pointed out again and again, this appeal to teleology is a red herring. One can be a “naturalist” and thus non-teleological in how one approaches science, and yet accept a teleology of cosmic purposes at the design level: Teilhard de Chardin, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ken Miller are only three examples that leap instantly to mind.

So really, what this is about is whether or not one wants to believe in a God who works through natural law, or a God who can only work through supernatural events. Suppose, for the sake of argument, I give you the possibility that supernatural events have occurred and that science should investigate these events.

It then follows that a research program would carefully and rigorously define and distinguish “supernatural” from “natural”, develop clear, rigorous filters (rather than pseudofilters) and pose these propositions in a clearly testable way.

Instead, what ID has done is offered a purely and mostly inaccurate critique of Darwinism and a proposal of a vague concept of non-materialist science.

So the appeal is not to science at all but to a set of philosophical principles. The debate belongs in the philosophy journals-not the science classroom.

Comment #24571

Posted by Jack Krebs on April 13, 2005 7:05 AM (e)

Hi folks. My preference would be that we not let responses to John Davison dominate this thread. His views are well known and we’ve had ample opportunity to respond to them. The Bathroom Wall is the appropriate place for further replies to Davison.

Thanks.

Comment #24572

Posted by Jack Krebs on April 13, 2005 7:08 AM (e)

Excellent post, Chip.

Here is the key issue, as explained by Chip:

So really, what this is about is whether or not one wants to believe in a God who works through natural law, or a God who can only work through supernatural events.

ID is a theological position at odds with mainstream moderate Christianity.

Comment #24575

Posted by "Rev Dr" Lenny Flank on April 13, 2005 7:27 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #24577

Posted by Bob Maurus on April 13, 2005 7:30 AM (e)

Jack,

Sorry - you posted your request while I was composing. Scholfield is to be commended for his unequivocal position.

Why does the argument/discussion/debate always seem to get restricted to the alleged shortcomings of ToE? Why are the IDCists allowed to continually get away with that, while blithely managing to never have to lay out any coherent explanation for their own proposed mechanisms? GodDidIt may be real neat and pretty, but its place is in Comparative Religion, not in the Science classroom.

Comment #24578

Posted by Bob Maurus on April 13, 2005 7:40 AM (e)

Hi Jack,

Perhaps one of the managers can move it to the Bathroom Wall? I don’t know how to either. Don’t remember what user name I registered with - every one I’ve tried hasn’t been recognized.

Comment #24579

Posted by Jon Fleming on April 13, 2005 7:43 AM (e)

Not one of the nation’s top science organizations has responded to the request.

Minor nit: at least the AAAS has responded. http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2005/0412kansas.shtml.

Comment #24580

Posted by GCT on April 13, 2005 7:46 AM (e)

snex wrote:

somebody should at least send an “official” letter to the schoolboard describing the boycott and its reasons, so sillyness like mr davison’s can be put to rest.

If anyone should do that, it should be the KCSE (did I get the acronym right?) It might very well be a good idea. On the other hand, even sending a letter might be seen as lending some legitimacy to the proceedings, which is what they want above all else. Any other thoughts on this?

Comment #24584

Posted by snex on April 13, 2005 8:32 AM (e)

GCT wrote:

If anyone should do that, it should be the KCSE (did I get the acronym right?) It might very well be a good idea. On the other hand, even sending a letter might be seen as lending some legitimacy to the proceedings, which is what they want above all else. Any other thoughts on this?

a letter that says that there is no legitimacy to the hearings hardly lends legitimacy to the hearings. it should be stressed that such a debate belongs in the scientific literature, where all such debates happen, not at schoolboards. if the schoolboards do not like what the scientific literature tells them, they should be complaining to the IDers for not publishing there.

Comment #24586

Posted by GCT on April 13, 2005 8:45 AM (e)

What I was getting at is that the original call that went out said that scientists should boycott so as to not give legitimacy to the hearings, and the board members already know that. Sending an additional letter may be superfluous. Plus, we know how the spin-meisters at the DI work. Any letter or anything else would probably be trumpeted as giving legitimacy to the proceedings, even if the letter explicitly said the opposite.

Of course, I’m not sold on either idea yet. Like I said, the letter might be a very good idea. Personally, I don’t know. I just think we should examine all the angles.

Comment #24590

Posted by Scott Reese on April 13, 2005 8:57 AM (e)

Its interesting how most of the nation can see the illegitimacy of these Kansas BOE meetings, but the creationists can’t. I understand to to be a creationist, one must be able to block out a lot of input from scientists; however, even newspaper editors and laypeople are able to see through this fiasco and still they persist. The creationists even go so far as to try and claim some sort of victory. I’m glad the newspaper ran this editorial and I told them so.

Comment #24597

Posted by LeeFranke on April 13, 2005 9:26 AM (e)

Sent a letter in support.

Comment #24600

Posted by Flint on April 13, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

Its interesting how most of the nation can see the illegitimacy of these Kansas BOE meetings, but the creationists can’t.

Legitimacy is a judgment call. The goal of the creationists is to reshape the basis on which such judgment rests. So long as a voting majority’s judgment is that facts matter and science should not follow religious doctrine, the creationist goals remain unmet. After all, the very goal of the Kansas BoE is to shape these judgments in the minds of children as young as their powers allow them to reach. If this campaign succeeds, then next generation or the generation after, the majority will judge such practices not only legitimate but appropriate.

Comment #24610

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 10:36 AM (e)

Well, no. It’s almost like they’re saying, “This rigged forum, with a predetermined outcome, has no credibility whatsoever in the scientific community. So what’s the point?”

That might not be the most fair characterization. I don’t know that the forum is rigged, and the outcome probably is no more (or less) pre-determined than most stacked board decisions.

The problem is that the IDists lack any real scientific basis in the first place, and even the many excellent responses to their claims have been made only in response to political pressures (which sometimes is necessary). Dembski and Behe didn’t go out looking for empirical bases for determining design, thus began illegitimately in any scientific sense. But they did affirm old prejudices about there being an “agent” working in the “natural world”, so have continued to have political successes among those caught up for various reasons in anthropomorphic thinking.

This is what it finally comes down to, however, an ID that has been thoroughly shown to be bankrupt epistemologically, and a good many folk who fail to understand epistemology. Scientists could go to the hearings and argue with those who don’t understand the basic approach of science, in front of a school board and an audience who also fail to understand the scientific stance toward the evidence. But on the off chance that scientists cannot cram many college credits worth of science and philosophy into the hearings and ensure that the board members and audience actually grasp some fairly sophisticated concepts, there isn’t much point in treating the IDists like they present an actual intellectual challenge.

There are good reasons to answer IDers in various fora, both to educate some with respect to scientific epistemology, and in order to combat political forces that exist without having a credible epistemology. One needs to pick the right forum, however, and the apparently philosophically/scientifically inept Kansas School Board is not the proper place to counter the bad philosophy behind ID.

The reason that we win in the courts is that the approach taken by IDers is anti-thetical to any sort of good justice, and contrary to the rules of evidence that lawyers and judges have to learn. “Then a miracle happens” is not the way to understanding justice or science. It is the way to burn witches, and to blame that creak in the house on ghosts. The courts make mistakes, of course, but rarely do they put up with the equivalent of the nonsense of IDers. The School Board of Kansas may have very fine people on it, yet would anyone want them trying court cases, or deciding what quantum mechanics is? So you don’t go argue UFOlogy with crackpots in front of the Kansas school board, nor ID, nor physics. If, in the first place, the school board can’t understand the importance of following the opinions of experts (as courts do) when the subject is beyond their education and experience, then it’s not going to do any good for scientists to oppose ID crackpotism in front of these incompetent “judges”.

The illegitimacy of ID needs to be treated properly, as illegitimate epistemologically to those who understand science and/or philosophy, and as illegitimate according to expert opinion among those who should be listening to expert opinion. The scientists have properly boycotted the hearings, due to the fact that the school board of Kansas is approaching the matter with the opinion that ID and good science are on the same footing. I believe that it is in this sense that the hearings are “rigged”.

Perhaps it is nitpicking to point out that it is the lack of understanding at the school board that “rigs” the outcome, and not necessarily any desire to shut out science. It is, however, of some importance to lay out the mistakes being made by the Kansas school board, most of all by not understanding their proper role in listening to actual expert testimony, rather than supposing that those doing illegitimate “science” have something to say on the matter.

Comment #24617

Posted by John A. Davison on April 13, 2005 11:00 AM (e)

I see I have already been sent to the Bathroom Wall, the final repository for anything that challenges the biggest hoax in history.

Intelligent Design is plain as the nose on ones face everywhere one looks. It serves as the necessary starting place for any further understanding of organic evolution. That the “ID movement” ever treated it as debatable was stupid and counterproductive. To deny Intelligent Design is like denying pregnancy. Does that help any? Of course not, because you Darwimps are congenitally incapapble of realizing that which was so transparently obvious to Albert Einstein:

“Everything is determined… by forces over which we have no control.”

I am delighted to be able to show that Einstein anticipated the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis way back in 1929 when I was one year old. Furthermore he informed the whole world by publishing it in the Saturday Evening Post in the October 26 issue.

Some folks are just slow learners I guess.

John A. Davison

Comment #24619

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Yes, Davison, if we only stayed with your teleological presuppositions, we’d believe neither evolution nor meteorological science. But you’ve gotten past the old “wind god” thing, maybe you’ll be able to get past the “designer god” thing before you die.

Comment #24620

Posted by Flint on April 13, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Perhaps it is nitpicking to point out that it is the lack of understanding at the school board that “rigs” the outcome, and not necessarily any desire to shut out science.

Perhaps, but I doubt it. The school board isn’t ignoring all the normal channels (which all found against them) and concocting these bogus hearings because they don’t understand science. They’re doing it to get Jesus into science class!!! The desire is to shut out science. When every traditonal approach failed to achieve this goal, they dreamed up a rigged “hearing” in which selected creationists can present anti-science positions, which they can then use as justification for putting Jesus into science class.

It’s a dangerous delusion to think the BoE is simply uninformed, or making a mistake. This entire affair is well thought out, carefully orchestrated, and politically motivated as any politically elected body is. They are religious believers elected to insert their religious beliefs wherever possible, using whatever means are available to them, including new means they must invent if required. They understand their role perfectly.

Comment #24635

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 11:36 AM (e)

The school board isn’t ignoring all the normal channels (which all found against them) and concocting these bogus hearings because they don’t understand science. They’re doing it to get Jesus into science class!!! The desire is to shut out science.

That’s all very true, but the ignorance problem comes in because they’ve never left “Jesus/Bible is science” thinking. When some take metaphysical philosophy classes, they’re happy to find out that Plato and Christianity agree, too. Of course this is because Christianity was built heavily upon a Platonic basis, with a considerable contribution from Aristotle later on (which helped scientific thinking early on, but hindered it by Galileo’s time).

You’ll get many philosophers who will tell you that metaphysics really is the basis of science. In fact I argued with one such person (don’t know if he’s a philosopher per se) on Pharyngula recently, though I haven’t been back to that thread since Friday. This guy happens to be against creationism, but his ideas of metaphysics as the basis of science dovetails best with Platonic philosophy, and in a kind of twisting of metaphysics, it agrees to an extent with creationism/IDism.

It is no accident that it is the “hard sciences” individuals, especially engineers, who spear-head ID, for they’re often taken with the notion that science is top-down, and that organization has to be directed. I know that their religious motivations play heavily into this, but then it is partly the long shadow of metaphysics in America that helps to support the religiosity of Americans. “Real science” to many does entail identifying everything as being produced top-down, and in fact many actually think that looking at the stars shows God as much as looking at a puppy does. It’s the old command/control structure of primate societies that gave us the God commanding creation in Genesis, maintains metaphysical and teleological thinking even among a number of scientists, and that gives hope to creationists/IDists that their particular learned prejudices are in fact correct.

I know that it is crucial to point to the religious nature of IDists in order to knock them out in court. I believe, however, that it is just as important to show that metaphysics infects the thinking of much philosophy, and that while we almost certainly can’t prevent schools from teaching metaphysics, it has no legitimate standing in the sciences. Otherwise the IDists can appeal to metaphysical philosophies and old metaphysically-based scientific thought in order to call their Paleyism “science”. The onto-theological nonsense that is metaphysics continues to warp discussions of science in this country, and it is important that we understand this problem as well as the fact that religion motivates the IDists (at least 95% of the time).

There is a well-known psychological phenomenon wherein people who don’t know other people tend to over-estimate the rationality and sophistication of these people they don’t know. I prefer to credit the Kansas school board for probably being really quite ignorant of both science and philosophy, as well as being religiously motivated. If I perhaps left out their religious motivations more than is warranted in a stand-alone piece (which it was not, for many have ably demonstrated IDist motivations), I think it is best to point out that scientists have every reason not to credit IDist and Kansas board member ignorance of scientific epistemology, and for this reason as well they have no business showing up for yet another run-around with those poorly educated in the ways of inductive science.

Comment #24656

Posted by Keith Douglas on April 13, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

Glen, I am not the philosopher who responded to you on Pharyngula, but allow me to make a similar point.

I am about as materialist and naturalist as one can get - in fact I would probably be called hostile to religion.

But I also have written a graduate level thesis in metaphysics in the philosophical sense of the word. I am in agreement with your interlocutor: science needs a metaphysics; it is largely tacit; no, this isn’t a bad thing.

Metaphysics, as commonly understood these days in mainstream philosophy, is simply the study of the most general features of reality: space, time, events, state, change, thing, reality, cause, determination, randomness, property, relation, etc. Now, you can study these matters as a general science, or to shore up a religious (or other nonscientific) worldview. (In principle you can combine, though I am skeptical of the cogency, but it is not ruled out a priori.) The scientific approach looks to see how these concepts and others like them get tacitly used in scientific research and then, like you would in science, develops a general theory of the concepts and their interrelations.

If you wish to discuss more, my email address is attached to this comment.

Comment #24674

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 2:34 PM (e)

based on Chip’s post, I thought i would include a link to a decent discussion about what teleology in biology implies.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleology-biology/

a bit of usefull background.

cheers

Comment #24679

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 2:50 PM (e)

The important issue involved with metaphysics is to get rid of it. I don’t particularly like arguing it over and over again, especially as it has been so thoroughly discredited in any intellectual sense by numerous individuals. I prefer Nietzsche’s strikes, but many others have shown the uselessness of metaphysics as well, including analytic philosophers. And because the US tends toward analytic philosophy, here’s a link to A.J. Ayers’ competent criticisms of metaphysics:

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/ayer01.htm

It takes a paper about that long to write about the many mistakes made by analytic philosophers, which is why I’m not interested in putting in the effort.

Comment #24680

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 2:51 PM (e)

“There is a well-known psychological phenomenon wherein people who don’t know other people tend to over-estimate the rationality and sophistication of these people they don’t know”

too true, that. it reminds me of when i first started attempting to have a rational discussion with JAD.

do you happen to recall the name of that phenomenon?

cheers

Comment #24682

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 2:53 PM (e)

Oops, on the second to last line it was supposed to be “metaphysical philosophers”, not “analytic philosophers”. Some philosophers are both, but Ayers is essentially in the analytic tradition, and he recognizes the mistakes inherent in metaphysics.

Comment #24685

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

Sorry, I don’t recall the name, or even if there is one. But it does seem to get us into discussions with IDers from which one cannot be extricated, thanks to the anthropocentric prejudices that drive their thinking.

Comment #24727

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on April 13, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

To The Editor,

I’d like to thank Randy Scholfield for telling it like it is with respect to the dim view held by scientists of the dog and poney show being entertained by the Kansas BOE.

The scientific debates with respect to evolution were settled over a century ago with the theory of evolution being the resounding winner. What Kansas will witness, is a parade of persons with theological axes to grind, not any commentary of scientific value. If they had something of scientific value to add, one could find it in scientific journals.

The problem as I see it, is where does this lead? Will white supremacists ask to have hearings before the BOE to make their case for Holocaust denial? Astrologers making their case for horoscopes to be taught in Astronomy class? Phrenologists insisting phrenology be taught in health classes?

Dr. Stuart Weinstein
Geophysicist

Comment #24734

Posted by Just Bob on April 13, 2005 5:09 PM (e)

Yes, send that letter commending Sholfield. God knows, the back-to-the-biblers will flood the Eagle with brimstone-filled condemnations. I did my part, but I’m Just Bob.

Comment #24773

Posted by Jack Krebs on April 13, 2005 8:00 PM (e)

Folks - posts by, about, or in response to John Davison are not welcome in this thread, and will summarily be moved.

Thanks.

Comment #24790

Posted by Dan S. on April 13, 2005 9:24 PM (e)

“The reason that we win in the courts is that the approach taken by IDers is … contrary to the rules of evidence that lawyers and judges have to learn. “

Whatever the Kansas BoE’s motivation, I think this is an excellent point. It suggests that we should emphasize the way that IDC is contrary to rules that school board officials/administrators/the general public/etc. have to learn. Basic day-to-day materialism might be a good start.

Comment #24795

Posted by Dan S. on April 13, 2005 9:33 PM (e)

Please, enough with the “No Metaphysics!” stuff, ok? If the word and what it can convey bothers you so much, maybe just pretend people are typing “fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality” when it is clear from the context that this is what they mean?

Comment #24846

Posted by John A. Davison on April 14, 2005 6:37 AM (e)

I guess Jack Krebs must be one of Elsberry’s chosen few, doing his dirty work for him right along with Pim van Meurs. Now that I have posted, do your duty little man.

John A. Davison

Comment #24884

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 14, 2005 11:22 AM (e)

fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality

And what makes this less objectionable? Obviously I’m discussing actual issues when I disagree with metaphysics, and not a word. So please, enough with the demands that any debate agree with your assumptions. This is really the point, after all, one disagrees with metaphysics precisely because one does not appreciate the controlling language and beliefs embedded in metaphysical thinking.

Comment #24960

Posted by Jud Evans on April 14, 2005 4:20 PM (e)

Greetings from the NW of England.

I was very amused to see this comment on your board:

Posted by Dan S. on April 13, 2005 09:33 PM (e) (s)

*Please, enough with the “No Metaphysics!” stuff, ok? If the word and what it can convey bothers you so much, maybe just pretend people are typing “fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality” when it is clear from the context that this is what they mean?* He has inadvertantly put his finger on the problem, for it is precisely the “fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality” that is the problem, because for many non-transcendentalists there IS NO REALITY [an abstraction] but only that which is real and actually exists. Namely us and the other entities with which we share the cosmos.

regards,

Jud Evans.
http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/index.htm

PS. Best wishes from Britain in your fight against the evil of obscurantism!