Steve Reuland posted Entry 1294 on August 5, 2005 10:17 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1292

I was wondering when he’d get around to this. Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman today writes a withering critique of ID, which he ties into other fake academic “controversies” that have been spawned, not within academia, but from without by the use money and politics.

Krugman begins:

I’d like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of “intelligent design.” No, he didn’t play any role in developing the doctrine. But he is the father of the political strategy that lies behind the intelligent design movement - a strategy that has been used with great success by the economic right and has now been adopted by the religious right.

Here I might actually take exception. Irving Kristol and other neoconservatives probably had a lot more to do with ID than Krugman thinks. See Origin of the Specious for example. But Krugman’s point is that the ID movement is just following a political strategy that’s been successfully applied elsewhere when the science isn’t on your side: Just throw a bunch of money at some pseudo-academic think-tanks (e.g. Discovery Institute), have them spend their time producing sciency sounding stuff that won’t withstand informed scrutiny, yet fools the public, and then have them go on a media blitz promoting their ideas as the next best thing since sliced bread. And, voila!, you’ve got your own tailor-made controversy.

Now the reason why I’ve been wondering when Krugman would get around to addressing ID is that he’s no stranger to evolution. Whatever you think about him, even if you deplore his economics and politics, the fact is that he’s a self-professed “evolution groupie”. As such, he’s probably read more evolutionary biology texts than the whole ID movement put together. (I know, that’s not a very high bar.) Anyway, there are some things he’s written in the past about evolution and economics that are worth reading that I’ll link to on the flip-side…

The Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive contains a fairly good collection of Krugman’s past writings. The best (at least that I’ve found) concerning evolution is WHAT ECONOMISTS CAN LEARN FROM EVOLUTIONARY THEORISTS. Here he delves into how evolutionary biologists ply their trade and how it coincides with what economists do.

Another one is an amusing critique of people who coined some nonsense called “bionomics” that is supposed to be the confluence of biology and economics, but has little to do with either. (Sounds like something that George Gilder would promote.) Anyway, read about THE POWER OF BIOBABBLE.

And finally, Krugman discusses a sort of cultural divide within economics (and academia in general) between those who are mathematically inclined and those who take a more literay approach: ECONOMIC CULTURE WARS. In it, he compares those in the economic field who have eschewed hard mathematical models with those in the evolution field, particularly, Stephen J. Gould:

A similar situation exists in other fields. Consider, for example, evolutionary biology. Like most American intellectuals, I first learned about this subject from the writings of Stephen Jay Gould. But I eventually came to realize that working biologists regard Gould much the same way that economists regard Robert Reich: talented writer, too bad he never gets anything right. Serious evolutionary theorists such as John Maynard Smith or William Hamilton, like serious economists, think largely in terms of mathematical models. Indeed, the introduction to Maynard Smith’s classic tract Evolutionary Genetics flatly declares, “If you can’t stand algebra, stay away from evolutionary biology.”

I like Gould and all, but Krugman has it right: Much of what Gould said was wrong. (And, predictably, has been widely abused by creationists.)

Anyway, feel free to link to any other articles like this that you come across.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #41427

Posted by PZ Myers on August 5, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

Them’s fightin’ words. What exactly did Gould say that was wrong? I’m not claiming that he was infallible, but to claim that much of what he said was wrong is going too far, unless it’s in the same sense that much of what Maynard Smith or Hamilton said was also wrong.

Comment #41430

Posted by harold on August 5, 2005 12:08 PM (e)

I always loved Gould as a historian of social trends and intellectual movements.

My main beef with popular evolution writers is that they dance around molecular biology. I realize that Gould wasn’t trained in molecular biology, of course. But it seems pretty clear that modern molecular biology is the lynch pin of the theory of evolution. Given what we know about molecular biology and genetics, it’s impossible for life NOT to evolve.

My second beef, and Gould doesn’t do so badly on this score, is that popular writers on evolution invariably seem to try to tie it to unrelated social debates. I happen to agree with Gould, at least in spirit, on political matters, so that may be part of why I perceive him as less annoying in this regard. But a book that JUST explains evolution would also be nice.

Comment #41431

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 12:32 PM (e)

PZ Meyers wrote:

Them’s fightin’ words. What exactly did Gould say that was wrong?

Most of what he wrote in Wonderful Life, for one.

Comment #41434

Posted by G Felis on August 5, 2005 12:39 PM (e)

I’m with PZ. If you’re going to criticize S.J. Gould or any other scientist, either be specific in your own criticism, point directly to some other scientist’s detailed criticism, or skip the criticism entirely. Taking broad, unsupported swipes against *scientific* positions with which you disagree smacks of creationist rhetoric rather than honest participation in reasoned argument.

Comment #41435

Posted by Steve on August 5, 2005 12:40 PM (e)

I think a good indicator of the impact of evolutionary theory on economics can be found in books like Game Theory Evolving by Herb Gintis. It is one of the new things in economics. Just showing once more why evolutionary theory is an important concept for students to understand.

Comment #41438

Posted by Jeff Z on August 5, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

I agree with you that the neo-cons’ flirtation with the ID people was silly, but their motivations are poorly understood. Bailey’s article demonstrates a shallow understanding of the issue, but his lack of historical knowledge (or at least not connecting to it in the piece) make it unhelpful.

Bailey has the Strauss and the neo-con (and Platonic, for that matter) attitude toward religion and philosophy precisely backwards. Putting thousands of pages and years in a few sentences: Religion, whether based on truth or illusion, is the collected wisdom of a culture, nation, people, etc.; that is, it is the truth of how their people should live. I.e.: Religion is not the “opiate of the people,” it is the essence of the people. (Actually, Marx’s meaning of ‘Opiate’ was not very far from this. Bailey uses the line incorrectly, but so does almost everybody else.) Philosophy leads to the recognition that at the deepest level, this is arbitrary, which is an extraordinarily dangerous realization. Strauss proposed three reasons for the existence of “secret writing,” and one of them is to ensure that anybody who can puzzle this knowledge out of a text will have to have the wisdom not misuse this knowledge.

But now, everybody knows. When Nietzsche said G-d was dead, he spoke out of fear and despair. Nietzsche wrote philosophy; the 20th century read an instruction manual. The 21st century continues apace. 9/11 was another application. The neo-cons are grasping at anything to try to combat this, mistakenly I believe, but understandably.

Krugman’s piece is childish McCarthyism, intellectually useless and dangerous to anyone who tries to use it against a knowledgeable opponent. I am against use of ID in the classroom, and Krugman’s piece will do nothing but advance the agenda of those who would put it there.

Comment #41440

Posted by ThomH on August 5, 2005 1:29 PM (e)

PZ, Krugman–right or wrongly–does offer specifics. In particular, he points out that

1. neither Gould nor Dawkins were heavy on the math side of evolutionary theory; and

2. and that their very public debate could lend itself to the ID/ Creationist/ postmodernist nonsense that Evolutionary Theory is somehow about how to “interpret” Darwin– as if Origin of the Species was scripture or The Scarlet Letter.

Let’s say you find Krugman’s points absolutely unconvincing. Fair enough. I own–and have read–nearly every book SJG published. Great, great stuff.

But I think Krugman’s more general point still holds–and perversely, I blogged on this exactly this Monday in regard to H Allen Orr, whose work I think really should have a wider audience. So I’ll be vulgar and vain and quote myself:

“When we rely too much on an individual scientist, because he or she is an exceptionally gifted communicator, we risk not only misunderstanding the science in question but also the related cultural and policy issues.”

At some point, the law of diminishing returns sets in when the public depends on one or two primary interpreters of science–celebrity scientists.

Putting down SJG is not the answer. But acknowledging to a wider audience, that although his work remains tremendously valuable, one scientist is never the be-all and end-all of his or her profession.

Btw, the same could be said of Krugman & economics for those who agree w/ his politics.

Still, this is an important article–and I thank Panda’s Thumb once again (as always) for being on top of the news and issues.

Comment #41441

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

I’m with PZ. If you’re going to criticize S.J. Gould or any other scientist, either be specific in your own criticism, point directly to some other scientist’s detailed criticism, or skip the criticism entirely.

Oh goodness. Since it wasn’t the point of my post, I’m not going into details – you can find those for yourself, because they’re widespread. The fact that Gould said stuff that leading evolutionary biologists thought was wrong is common knowledge. That would include John Maynard Smith and Ernst Mayr, among others.

Comment #41442

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 1:41 PM (e)

Jeff Z wrote:

Krugman’s piece is childish McCarthyism, intellectually useless and dangerous to anyone who tries to use it against a knowledgeable opponent. I am against use of ID in the classroom, and Krugman’s piece will do nothing but advance the agenda of those who would put it there.

This has to win some sort of award for greatest amount of hyperbole with the least amount of detail.

McCarthyism? Pray tell, where do you get that?

Comment #41446

Posted by harold on August 5, 2005 2:02 PM (e)

Jeff Z -

“Krugman’s piece is childish McCarthyism, intellectually useless and dangerous to anyone who tries to use it against a knowledgeable opponent. I am against use of ID in the classroom, and Krugman’s piece will do nothing but advance the agenda of those who would put it there.”

I found Krugman’s piece highly accurate, and I must say, I find your use of the term “McCarthyism” grossly inappropriate.

Krugman identified ID as part of a broader trend of privately funded pseudoscience, a phenomenon which arises when scientific advances are regarded as inconvenient by some private parties. To a large extent, this can’t be denied even by the PROPONENTS of ID. They might reject the label “pseudoscience”, but they don’t deny that ID is entirely funded by biased private parties, that it involves no experimental work, that it never even offers alternate testable explanations for the experimental results of others, and that, when pressed, its proponents admit that they can’t really even explain what ID means.

ID is a political and financial movement. It’s political, because its purpose (which it serves rather poorly) is to placate fanatics, and maintain their uneasy alliance with the Republican party. It’s financial because keeping the Republican party in power, which is one major goal of ID, however poorly it may serve that goal - and I certainly don’t dispute that many relatively honest Republicans despise ID and would like to reject the “help” it offers, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is one goal of ID - has massive financial consequences for many people. If you dispute that the Republicrats, as Lenny Flank refers to them, are tied to ID, please explain why all politicians who voice support for it, at all levels from the county school board to the White House, are Republicans.

Krugman points out that other scientists face similar attacks by pseudoscientific propaganda. He mentions climatologists. Another example is the years of attacks on medical epidemiologists by the tobacco industry’s pseudoscience shills.

Comment #41447

Posted by louis homer on August 5, 2005 2:04 PM (e)

Concerning comment 41438 by Jeff Z. I didn’t understand your final sentence concerning Krugman’s piece. Are you referring to the “withering critique of ID”? If so could you offer some more detail about why you see it as McCarthyism, and why you think it furthers the cause of ID. It seemed to me he was only pointing out that their strategy was similar to strategy that had proved successful in other instances, and that it could be successful in this case.

Comment #41451

Posted by Joel Shurkin on August 5, 2005 2:15 PM (e)

You all might want to see http://www.thetablet.co.uk/cgi-bin/archive_db.cgi/tablet-01063, which is a response from the Vatican’s {Jesuit} astronomer to the Archbishop of Vienna’s strange op-ed piece in the New York Times. Seems some Catholic theologians did learn something from the Galileo Affair. The Independent (London) has a story as well. Also see my blog: http://www.cabbageskings.blogspot.org

Comment #41453

Posted by steve on August 5, 2005 2:26 PM (e)

test

Comment #41455

Posted by steve on August 5, 2005 2:30 PM (e)

Whew. Finally. The administrators of PT are forced to throw wide nets to ban JAD. I was caught in one such net. Haven’t been able to comment for two or three days. It’s good to be able to comment again. I was beginning to feel like the whole site was one big Tim Sandefur thread.

Comment #41459

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 5, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

Jeff Z writes: “When Nietzsche said G-d was dead, he spoke out of fear and despair.” Nice to know that telepathy works not only across space but across time so that it is possible to read the mind of a dead philosopher 120 or so years after the fact. If one relies on second best evidence, i.e. what Nietzsche actually wrote, it appears that Nietzsche wasn’t at all unhappy about the Death of God. Indeed, he sounds positively gleeful about it when he doesn’t just treat it as a matter of fact. It isn’t a central part of his philosophy. It’s background.

Believers think that the death of God (or G-d) is a big deal, but to Nietzsche it was something that only out-of-touch old hermits didn’t know. (“Could it be possible? This old saint in the forest has not yet heard anything of this, that God is dead!”)

I have my doubts about the public piety of the Neocons. They may intimate that they are just being Straussian in promoting the holy lie, but they evince an unhealthy fascination with religion. I haven’t done it for a while, but if you read Commentary you will encounter plenty of evidence that various neocons have begun to fall for their own propaganda. Their hypocrisy is not sincere.

Comment #41461

Posted by Russell on August 5, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

Jeff Z. has some illuminating thoughts on the Neocon/ Straussian take on religion. I was, in fact, just wondering about that.

But that last paragraph:

Krugman’s piece is childish McCarthyism, intellectually useless … [etc.]

Where the hell does that come from? That just doesn’t follow. McCarthyism how? Was there anything false or even misleading in what Krugman wrote? Was anyone smeared unfairly? Who? How?

Jeff Z. needs to be more specific, or I’ll just assume that was just another rant from an unobjective devotee of a philosophical cult. We get a lot of that around here.

Comment #41474

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 5, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

G Felis wrote:

I’m with PZ. If you’re going to criticize S.J. Gould or any other scientist, either be specific in your own criticism, point directly to some other scientist’s detailed criticism, or skip the criticism entirely. Taking broad, unsupported swipes against *scientific* positions with which you disagree smacks of creationist rhetoric rather than honest participation in reasoned argument.

Good point. Too bad Gould didn’t agree with it. See his “brick” for his statement that he will not cite Darwin to justify his position that Darwin was “wedded to gradualism“.

Comment #41476

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 5, 2005 3:24 PM (e)

I have one minor beef with Gould, which is really a criticism of Michael Shermer. Gould conributed a blurb for the cover of Why People Believe Weird Things, in which Shermer made the mistake of stating that a child gets 25% of his genes from each parent. Did Gould actually read the book first? He may not have been trained in MolBio, but that’s a pretty obvious mistake.

Comment #41478

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 5, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

BB wrote:

[…] Shermer made the mistake of stating that a child gets 25% of his genes from each parent.

Hmmm. A child does get 25% of his/her genes from each parent. And more, even. :-)

Oh, you wanted *precision*.

Either that or Shermer is leading a scientific revolution to reinstate Francis Galton’s notions of inheritance, where 25% would be the precise contribution from each parent.

Comment #41479

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 3:39 PM (e)

Paul Krugman is probably the least credible columnist writing in America today. The Lying in Ponds (http://www.lyinginponds.com) website has consistently ranked him number 1 or 2 on their objective partisanship scale. Any column he writes that mentions Bush in connection with any subject at all is properly understood simply as unprincipled Bush-bashing, because that’s the dude’s raison d’etre.

So Krugman beating up on Bush over ID isn’t helpful to those of us who oppose ID. Similarly, Dawkins is getting carried away with his political partisanship, attacking Bush constantly even though he’s not an American. He went so far as to say that all Bush voters are “stupid”. And his work in the ID wars has lately become more and more soft.

The people best situated to attack Bush on ID are those who are generally supportive of Bush on the war, the economy, school choice, and that whole set of issues. And there’s been no shortage of attacks from this sector of the political spectrum (center and right) on the suggestion that ID be taught in biology classes. See Krauthammer for example, or any of the RINO blogs (Balloon Juice, Ace of Spades, Roger Simon, Protein Wisdom, Don Surber, etc.)

The fact is that politics by its very nature is the enemy of science, and neither side of the political spectrum has been immune to the abuse of science in the pursuit of its agenda. The junk social science that’s been churned out of left-leaning universities is a scandal of major proportions, much bigger than funny games with climatology or the work of the tiny little Disco Institute club.

Let me suggest that people who want to take on the cause of fighting ID would do well to check their other partisan beliefs at the door, lest they be confused for Krugmans.

Comment #41482

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 5, 2005 3:50 PM (e)

Paul Krugman is probably the least credible columnist writing in America today. The Lying in Ponds (http://www.lyinginponds.com…) website has consistently ranked him number 1 or 2 on their objective partisanship scale. Any column he writes that mentions Bush in connection with any subject at all is properly understood simply as unprincipled Bush-bashing, because that’s the dude’s raison d’etre.

It would be quite possible to Bush-bash and maintain objectivity. The man really deserves to be bashed on a large number of issues, particularly with regard to his faith-based thinking and ignorance of evidence.

Comment #41486

Posted by Steven Thomas Smith on August 5, 2005 4:03 PM (e)

Paul Krugman is probably the least credible columnist writing in America today. The Lying in Ponds (http://www.lyinginponds.com) website has consistently ranked him number 1 or 2 on their objective partisanship scale….

Let me suggest that people who want to take on the cause of fighting ID would do well to check their other partisan beliefs at the door, lest they be confused for Krugmans.

From the Lying in Ponds (great name!) FAQ:

Isn’t a columnist who’s always right but criticizes only one party better than one who is always wrong but attacks both parties equally?

Well sure. The Lying in Ponds rankings are not intended to be a comprehensive evaluation of the pundits; the intention is to carefully analyze only partisanship. A columnist could theoretically be substantive and accurate and and witty and wise, yet highly partisan. I’m very skeptical about that, but anyone is free to argue that a particular columnist is partisan but good.

Either Krugman is right or he’s wrong. In this case, he’s right, and on an important point.

Comment #41487

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 4:11 PM (e)

I think you guys get the point.

Now if you want to see a devastating critique of ID, go check Krauthammer’s piece in Time:

This conflict between faith and science had mercifully abated over the past four centuries as each grew to permit the other its own independent sphere. What we are witnessing now is a frontier violation by the forces of religion. This new attack claims that because there are gaps in evolution, they therefore must be filled by a divine intelligent designer.

How many times do we have to rerun the Scopes “monkey trial”? There are gaps in science everywhere. Are we to fill them all with divinity? There were gaps in Newton’s universe. They were ultimately filled by Einstein’s revisions. There are gaps in Einstein’s universe, great chasms between it and quantum theory. Perhaps they are filled by God. Perhaps not. But it is certainly not science to merely declare it so.

To teach faith as science is to undermine the very idea of science, which is the acquisition of new knowledge through hypothesis, experimentation and evidence. To teach it as science is to encourage the supercilious caricature of America as a nation in the thrall of religious authority. To teach it as science is to discredit the welcome recent advances in permitting the public expression of religion. Faith can and should be proclaimed from every mountaintop and city square. But it has no place in science class. To impose it on the teaching of evolution is not just to invite ridicule but to earn it.

As he’s a right-winger and a Bush supporter, this has the potential to convince some people. Krugman is actually helping the ID’ers.

Comment #41490

Posted by Tom Curtis on August 5, 2005 4:25 PM (e)

PZ Myers:

Them’s fightin’ words. What exactly did Gould say that was wrong? I’m not claiming that he was infallible, but to claim that much of what he said was wrong is going too far, unless it’s in the same sense that much of what Maynard Smith or Hamilton said was also wrong.

IMO, Gould always liked to concieve of himself as a paradigm breaking radical. This lead him in almost all his popular works to overstate the claims of his opponents, and to overstate the implications (and the radicalness) of his own views. As such, most of what he wrote was not so much wrong, as overstated - and hence ripe for creationist misquotation.

Comment #41492

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 4:31 PM (e)

You can see why Myers is upset that anyone would dare to criticize Gould, since both employ similar rhetorical styles. But it’s true that strawman attacks are ineffective, so it would be good for Myers to learn that even if it’s too late for Gould.

Comment #41494

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 4:38 PM (e)

Richard Bennet wrote:

Paul Krugman is probably the least credible columnist writing in America today. The Lying in Ponds (http://www.lyinginponds.com…) website has consistently ranked him number 1 or 2 on their objective partisanship scale.

Um, so what? Everyone knows that Krugman is a liberal who’s particularly harsh on Bush. He’s also a Ivy league economist who’s done award-winning work on international trade. Neither one has much to do with his credibility on this matter.

If you want to read some of his work that’s decidedly non-partisan, try the stuff he wrote before he became a NYT columnists. The articles I linked to are good examples.

So Krugman beating up on Bush over ID isn’t helpful to those of us who oppose ID.

Except in this column, he didn’t do any Bush bashing at all. He only mentions Bush once, and it’s not even in connection with ID. And the purpose wasn’t to criticize Bush, it was to criticize the media:

Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, “Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth.”

The people best situated to attack Bush on ID are those who are generally supportive of Bush on the war, the economy, school choice, and that whole set of issues. And there’s been no shortage of attacks from this sector of the political spectrum (center and right) on the suggestion that ID be taught in biology classes. See Krauthammer for example…

We had a post about Krauthammer’s article the day it came out. We link to pundits from all sides of the political spectrum.

Comment #41495

Posted by Carl Hilton Jones on August 5, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

The problem with Gould is the same as with other popularizers like Sagan. In order to avoid the detailed technical issues they turn to generalizations, analogies, and arm-waving. The problem is that non-scientists (i.e. most of the population) gets the idea that generalizations, analogies, and arm-waving are the way science is done. As a result, they wind up not being able to distinguish Gish from Gould.

We need to find a way of providing simple, understandable explainations that also give the listener an appreciation of the detailed work upon which the explaination is based.

Comment #41499

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 5:09 PM (e)

Except in this column, he didn’t do any Bush bashing at all. He only mentions Bush once, and it’s not even in connection with ID.

Well, what he did was tie ID to the Neo-con movement, the people who tell Bush what to do. So let’s take the column for what it is, an argument that ID should be rejected because it’s neo-con propaganda.

Now I would submit that this is the weakest argument that’s ever been put up about ID, and that it’s easily dismissed on several grounds, such as: 1) the Neo-con movement is not religious; there’s a whole other type of conservatism that is religious, but they’re essentially at war with neo-cons for control of the Republican Party; and 2) Tom DeLay is not a neo-con; and 3) there is no connection between corporate interest and ID; think Genentech or Monsanto.

Krugman hates ID, and he hates neo-cons, so he manufactures a connection that enables him to channel all of his hate into one column. This is retarded.

As Krauthammer (a real neo-con) points out, the ID issue is religion encroaching on the turf of science; so it’s not Republicanism encroaching on science as Krugman maintains.

Now the virtue of Krauthammer’s position is that it allows Republicans and neo-cons can sign up to fight ID; Krugman would reduce the size of the army down to the relatively much smaller number of latte-sipping liberals who see high taxes, gay marriage, and affirmative action as natural consequences of evolution.

Comment #41500

Posted by Globigerinoides on August 5, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

Paul Krugman is probably the least credible columnist writing in America today. The Lying in Ponds (http://www.lyinginponds.com…) website has consistently ranked him number 1 or 2 on their objective partisanship scale. Any column he writes that mentions Bush in connection with any subject at all is properly understood simply as unprincipled Bush-bashing, because that’s the dude’s raison d’etre.

Written like a true Kool-Aid drinking neocon who doesn’t feel any need to pay attention to reality because he believes he creates his own reality. Krugman can see throuth the neocon’s self-delusion and his columns have been spot on. Just because Bush & Co. live in a fantasy world does not mean reality is anti-Bush; it means Bush is anti-reality.

Comment #41501

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 5:17 PM (e)

Richard Bennet wrote:

Well, what he did was tie ID to the Neo-con movement, the people who tell Bush what to do.

Actually, that was me who did that, not Krugman. And my source for the ID movement’s connection to the neocons was Reason magazine, which isn’t exactly liberal.

Krugman stated that Kristol wasn’t involved with ID doctrine-wise, only that his idea on how to fund a political movement – which is to spend money not on activism, but on buying intellectual respectability – was adopted wholecloth by the IDists. I don’t think that much is really debatable. Beyond that, Krugman didn’t make any connections between the IDists and the neocons.

Comment #41502

Posted by piratemonkey on August 5, 2005 5:18 PM (e)

Objectivity isn’t necessarily at odds with supporting one side more than another.

Sometimes one side is more consistently right.

Comment #41504

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 5:28 PM (e)

Here’s what Krugman said:

I’d like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of “intelligent design.” No, he didn’t play any role in developing the doctrine. But he is the father of the political strategy that lies behind the intelligent design movement - a strategy that has been used with great success by the economic right and has now been adopted by the religious right.

Now I don’t know about you Steve, but where I come from we consider “fatherhood” a pretty strong tie.

As to Ron Bailey’s article in Reason, it seems a litte weak on the distinctions between neo-cons and paleo-cons. Reason is a libertarian rag, and to them all others on the right sort of blur together. Bailey also misses out on the notion of dissimulation as a political tactic that crosses all lines. The Grascian Marxists are just as much practitioers of it as the Straussians; my sister studied with Leo Stauss in Chicago, and she’s a Gramscian.

Bailey is just a little politically naive.

So this is what I’m telling you: forget the politics and concentrate on religion and science.

Comment #41507

Posted by Jeff Z on August 5, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

I will definitely respond to those questioning my Krugman comments, and I meant what I said.

I don’t have time now, but it will be up by noon EST on Saturday.

Comment #41508

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 5:36 PM (e)

point directly to some other scientist’s detailed criticism

The mention of John Maynard smith was fairly direct. If you need more direct:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=2929

Comment #41509

Posted by Carlos on August 5, 2005 5:37 PM (e)

Richard Bennett wrote:

attacking Bush constantly even though he’s not an American

I didn’t realize American citizenship was required to criticize the man.

Richard Bennett wrote:

The junk social science that’s been churned out of left-leaning universities is a scandal of major proportions

As opposed to the junk social science churned out of right-leaning universities, which is what’s good for America.

Richard Bennett wrote:

Krugman hates ID, and he hates neo-cons

Why does he hate so much?

You’re advocating that only Bush’s supporters will have an impact on what he says about ID, and I agree; He only listens to his party. However, if you haven’t noticed, republican success is due in large part to the party’s unquestioning mutual support. Denouncing ID would not be very supportive of his southern evangelical base.

Comment #41510

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 5:38 PM (e)

Richard Bennett wrote:

This is retarded.

Indeed “this” is.

Comment #41511

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 5:46 PM (e)

I was beginning to feel like the whole site was one big Tim Sandefur thread.

In case you think I’m Tim Sandefur … I’m not. Tim always posts with his full name, and I always post as ts. We’re two totally different people.

Comment #41513

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Carlos, there aren’t enough “right-leaning universities” to effectively propagandize, and that’s why the right has think tanks. And don’t try and tell me that any social science department in any major US university isn’t completely dominated and controlled by various flavors of leftist ideology (unless you want to send me rolling on the floor with spasms of laughter.) That battle’s over and the left won.

You people could do with a little strategic thinking yourselves. How are you going to defeat ID, by getting all the Greens and the Dean Democrats fired-up to storm the school boards? There aren’t enough of them to do anything, and that’s the lesson of the last ten elections.

Defeating ID and getting junk science out of the schools can be done by building a bi-partisan coalition of concerned citizens, recognizing that both the left and the right stand to lose a little in the process. Simply bashing away at the right in some mad and unprincipled way isn’t going to but it - there aren’t enough of you people, and your skills aren’t that good. You’ve already lost tremendous ground by helping the ID’ers spread the belief in “the controversy” and I don’t know how you’re going to win even that much back.

Comment #41514

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Richard, here’s how I would have emphasized it:

I’d like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of “intelligent design.” No, he didn’t play any role in developing the doctrine.

Whatever the case, I certainly don’t think it’s legitimate to say that Krugman was making “an argument that ID should be rejected because it’s neo-con propaganda.” That argument was neither stated nor implied.

As for Bailey, if there’s anything he gets factually wrong, feel free to point it out. What’s important for me here is that the neo-cons have supported ID to a large extent, even if many like Krauthhammer are against it. For example, National Review and The Weekly Standard have both published numerous pro-ID pieces, some written by Discovery Institute fellows. Maybe Bailey is wrong about why the neo-cons have been so supportive of what would otherwise be a purely Religious Right movement, but there’s little doubt that they have.

So this is what I’m telling you: forget the politics and concentrate on religion and science.

Always happy to. The problem is, whether we like it or not, ID is a political issue. The ID movement is not just about pushing religion, it’s about pushing religion for certain ideological ends. Read the Wedge Document for example and see them blaming evolution for communism, the welfare state, modern art, and pretty much everything else they hate. They don’t speak of “cultural renewal” for nothing. And even if their agenda weren’t political, they are using the political process to push it.

Comment #41515

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 5, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

Krugman has no truck with the journalistic practice of treating both sides of an issue as if there were no such thing as truth. Now it is perfectly reasonable to bitch about what he says if you think he is wrong, but right-wing critics who complain about him simply because he is a vehement opponent of right-wing politics are just being inconsistent since they are supposed to be hostile to relativism. Of course this tactic is humanly understandable since, to judge by the hectoring irrelevance and mere dishonesty one finds on the anti-Krugman websites, conservatives are quite incapable of meeting his actual arguments head on.

Comment #41516

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 5, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

ts wrote:

In case you think I’m Tim Sandefur … I’m not.  Tim always posts with his full name, and I always post as ts.  We’re two totally different people.

I believe his point was that Sandefur tends to disallow comments on his posts, which is his right. He hates comments. Sometimes I see why. :)

Comment #41517

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

Paul Krugman is probably the least credible columnist writing in America today. The Lying in Ponds (http://www.lyinginponds.com…) website has consistently ranked him number 1 or 2 on their objective partisanship scale. Any column he writes that mentions Bush in connection with any subject at all is properly understood simply as unprincipled Bush-bashing, because that’s the dude’s raison d’etre.

I suppose that anyone who consistently wrote negative things about poverty, smallpox, and Saddam Hussein would lack credibility, by this reasoning.

Comment #41518

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

I believe his point was that Sandefur tends to disallow comments on his posts, which is his right. He hates comments. Sometimes I see why. :)

Ah, ok. Sandefur did once make a comment about me appropriating his initials (although I use this moniker elsewhere on the net and posted here as ts before I ever saw his name), and I do tend toward, um, excessive posting.

Comment #41519

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

I suppose that anyone who consistently wrote negative things about poverty, smallpox, and Saddam Hussein would lack credibility, by this reasoning.

The neo-cons have written negative things about Saddam Hussein, tying him to terror attacks on the US, a robust WMD program, and to terror attacks on Israel. Are they credible in your naive view of the world?

Comment #41521

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

The problem is, whether we like it or not, ID is a political issue.

Well the personal is political, or some such rot. Look, whether it is or it isn’t, it’s still your choice to play it one way or another. I’m suggesting to you that playing it as a liberal vs. conservative issue means liberals lose, because they always lose.

The disadvantage of playing it the way I suggest is that liberals lose their junk social science. So maybe you’re making the judgment that you’d rather lose on ID than on sociology.

Comment #41522

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 6:07 PM (e)

Krugman has no truck with the journalistic practice of treating both sides of an issue as if there were no such thing as truth.

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman has a lot of baggage, and most of it’s not good. He’s regarded in my crowd as the poster boy for Bush Derangement Syndrome, and ailment he contracted in November, 2000, and from which he’s yet to recover.

His math indicates a common ancestry with Billy Dembski.

Comment #41523

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

The neo-cons have written negative things about Saddam Hussein, tying him to terror attacks on the US, a robust WMD program, and to terror attacks on Israel. Are they credible in your naive view of the world?

Let’s follow your argument, shall we?

You say Krugman bashes Bush, therefore Krugman isn’t credible.
I say bashing a negative, Saddam Hussein, for instance, doesn’t necessarily mean one isn’t credible.
You say the neocons have bashed Saddam Hussein, and therefore I should consider them credible by my logic.

I’ll leave it to the non-retarded folks hereabouts to evaluate the merits of that reasoning.

Comment #41525

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

ts, are you so desperate for attention you’re going to buzz around me all day until I give you some? Arguing on a thread with you present is like being pecked to death by a duck.

We’re talking about obsession and its power to distort reasoning.

Comment #41526

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman

You seem to be counting on your audience to be retarded and ignorant.

http://www.wws.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/enron.html

Comment #41528

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 6:12 PM (e)

Paul Krugman wrote:

I served briefly on an Enron advisory board in 1999

What part of that don’t you understand, Duckie?

Comment #41529

Posted by darwinfinch on August 5, 2005 6:13 PM (e)

About SJG: I’ve always considered him as mainly a writer on the history of science, rather than someone aiming to popularize the details of the current state of ToE. He was excellent at this, extremely.

About Paul Krugman: Even in a struggle such as the one science is engaged in with the worst, and utterly untruthful, forces of right-wing Xian insanity, I take NO comfort in seeing Paul Krugman on my side, as the nation and world he promotes would be as bad, or worse, than that the DI would install (and which would rot its course very, very quickly) given complete victory.
If Paul Krugman says it, either there’s something wrong with it, or its being abused for his own purposes.

About this thread: I have never read through a discussion this unpleasant on these boards before. And may I never see such a thing again.

Comment #41530

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

ts, are you so desperate for attention you’re going to buzz around me all day until I give you some

I realize that this is beyond your mental and ethical capacity to comprehend, but your responding to me counts as giving me some attention.

Anyway, as you clearly have nothing intelligent to say, I’ll go do something more rewarding than to point that out.

Comment #41531

Posted by darwinfinch on August 5, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

Sorry to post again, but…

ts, you’re being a real jerk, here. Do stop.

Comment #41532

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 6:17 PM (e)

ts, you’re being a real jerk, here. Do stop.

Ah, right, because I’ve criticized your fellow mindless Krugman-basher.

Comment #41534

Posted by Sir_CB on August 5, 2005 6:19 PM (e)

I think the problem with all these Krugman bashers is they always complain about his partisanship not his arguments. No one is saying Krugman isn’t partisan; he’s an ardent liberal and Bush-basher but the real question is; is he wrong? What arguements does Krugman make that are factually incorrect? Does he lie? I know his greatest critic, Donald Luskin, is consistently dishonest in his criticisms of Krugman but as far as I can see Krugman’s columns tend to be pretty factual. As long as he’s not misrepresenting the facts or making stuff up I don’t see anything wrong with being critical even harshly so. I really don’t think its neccesary to give equal treatment to two parties in a debate if one party is full of crap. Complain all you want about his partisanship but if you can’t tackle his actual arguements then I don’t see your point. As long as the facts are on his side I don’t see any reason for him to let-up, if even half of what he says his true then these people should be bashed and bashed constantly - the rest of the NYT including Brooks and Trienry, give these Republicans a break what’s the problem with having one columnist put the heat on?

Comment #41536

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 6:26 PM (e)

if you can’t tackle his actual arguements then I don’t see your point.

The point is quasi-religious attachment to ideological stakeouts, truth and reason be damned.

Comment #41538

Posted by Sean M on August 5, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

I have to say that “probably the least credible columnist writing in America today” is a severe mischaracterization of Mr. Krugman (or alternatively, a snub to G. Gordon Liddy and Max Boot). Mr. Krugman’s qualifications in economics are unimpeachable, and his columns usually stick pretty close to his area of expertise, so he’s an applicable authority. Mr. Bennett’s trackbacked post describes Mr. Krugman as a “partisan hack,” which I frankly don’t see as a tenable position: Mr. Krugman’s work is, as columnists go, meticulously researched and sourced. His background of academic rigor shows clearly. The “least credible” comment is also, it seems, a misuse of Lying in Ponds’ measurements. LiP is, judging from what I read on their page, in the process of testing an as-yet unverified hypothesis, not bringing down tablets from Horeb.

I have a bit of a bone to pick with this idea that “Krugman is actually helping the ID’ers,” too. It simply flies in the face of logic to assert that having an NYT columnist explain why ID is rubbish is helping the cause of ID. It’s perfectly rational to assume that fence-sitters do exist on this issue, and Krugman is in a good position to help persuade such people of the bankruptcy of ID.

Comment #41540

Posted by Sean M on August 5, 2005 6:38 PM (e)

Wow, that’s quite a number of posts while I was writing. I must be slowing down.

Comment #41543

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 6:44 PM (e)

Sir_CB wrote:

As long as the facts are on his side I don’t see any reason for him to let-up

Here’s the deal, dude: opinion columns aren’t simply a matter of presenting facts, like, um, the phonebook does. Rather, they’re a matter of showing facts in a context such that readers get a sense of what’s an important fact and what isn’t, and they’re about highlighting important issues that may not be getting enough attention. We value opinion dudes for their insight, not just their encyclopedic knowledge of facts.

This column of Krugman’s is, in my opinion, far from a “withering critique of ID” as Steve claimed; rather, it’s a weak attempt to subsume ID inside a generic right-wing conspiracy that’s attempting to take control of American intellectual life away from its rightful owners in the universities and turn it over to the great unwashed.

It’s factually wrong insofar as it implies broad neo-con support for ID; it’s materially wrong in blaming Kristol for the think-tank movement; and it’s elitist and arrogant in asserting, in essence, the the science curriculum must be set by a few of Krugman’s best buddies in the elite universities in order to frustrate the neo-cons.

Some of the strongest and most effective opponents of ID are neo-cons, as I’ve pointed out. There is no need to alienate these people, but Krugman is such a childish tool he can’t help himself so he goes after them. A smart tactician would play divide-and-conquer with the right on this issue, and pit the neo-cons and the libertarians against the paleo-cons.

That’s also the way it plays out in reality, conveniently.

Comment #41544

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 6:46 PM (e)

Sean, I would suggest to you that the number of people who find Krugman persuasive and are still on the fence about ID is a pretty small number.

Comment #41547

Posted by Flint on August 5, 2005 6:52 PM (e)

The point is quasi-religious attachment to ideological stakeouts, truth and reason be damned.

Yes, it’s easy to see that others are guilty of this sort of thing. Yet somehow, “truth and reason” for each of us, tends to lead to the political convictions we already hold. At the extreme, truth and reason are regarded as the sole property of one party or one political philosophy, invariably the one we happen to share or admire.

I personally see the reality as more subtle. Is it possible to lie without ever saying a single thing that isn’t true? I contend that it is. Lawyers can defend clients who confessed to them (so they KNOW their client did it), never tell a single untruth, and convince a jury that their client is innocent (or at least position “reasonable doubt” in the jury’s minds so their client falls on the correct side of it). Creationists support their positions with a zillion mined quotes, every one of which is word-for-word correct.

Conversely, some of the most profound truths can be found in obvious fiction. We don’t study Shakespeare to learn the facts of history.

I realize that this is beyond your mental and ethical capacity to comprehend…you clearly have nothing intelligent to say…

This sort of insecure puffery redounds to the credit of nobody, nor to the blog generally. Those who sincerely NEED to have the biggest dick on the block need to take a very serious look in the mirror.

Comment #41548

Posted by Sean M on August 5, 2005 6:53 PM (e)

Now the virtue of Krauthammer’s position is that it allows Republicans and neo-cons can sign up to fight ID; Krugman would reduce the size of the army down to the relatively much smaller number of latte-sipping liberals who see high taxes, gay marriage, and affirmative action as natural consequences of evolution.

Sadly, no. This is a grating example of gratuitous lumping-in. Let me see if I can write out the Venn diagram for this.

Consider the sets A, B, C, D, and E, where A is “Liberals,” B “persons in favor of high taxes,” C “persons in favor of gay marriage,” C “persons in favor of affirmative action,” and E “persons who view affirmative action, gay marriage, and high taxes as natural consequences of evolution.”

Proposition 1: A, B, C, and D each overlap partially with one another.

Proposition 2: Whether or not E overlaps with A, B, C, or D is irrelevant because the size of E is zero - “affirmative action, gay marriage, and high taxes are natural consequences of evolution” is a false statement.

Do you want to be the first resident of E? Do you know anyone who’s part of E? Being part of E means that you severely and profoundly misunderstand either affirmative action, high taxes, gay marriage, or evolution.

Or maybe you don’t understand liberals. What was that about an obsession with partisanship again? Why don’t you go take a look at local and national party platforms and see if you can find anyone who believes that “affirmative action, gay marriage, and high taxes are natural consequences of evolution” ?

Please do not drag the imaginary populace of E into this discussion. We’re looking for facts.

Comment #41552

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

Politics isn’t simply about facts, Sean, it’s about winning. You may very well be looking for facts, but I’ve already found mine, and I’m looking to share.

Comment #41555

Posted by Sean M on August 5, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

Call me naive, then, but I’d rather not vote for the party that’s been winning by lying.

I think we’d agree on this much: it is best that policy be informed as much as possible by verifiable facts and as little as possible by unsubstantiated or impossible-to-prove statements.

If I take that statement as a given, I have to put myself on Krugman’s side: he’s providing a policy vision based on facts. A “reality-based” policy, if you will.

Comment #41557

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 7:23 PM (e)

Yet somehow, “truth and reason” for each of us, tends to lead to the political convictions we already hold.

This appears to assert that everyone, from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert, are equally intellectually honest. It’s patently untrue.

This sort of insecure puffery

Uh, Flint, I wasn’t praising Bennett. As for the charge of insecurity, I humbly suggest that this characterization is not a product of truth and reason, but rather of emotional prejudice.

Comment #41562

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

Sean, verifiable facts don’t exist in every aspect of public policy that requires an immediate decision, and in point of fact we often have to act on incomplete information. So politics isn’t simply a matter of being right on the questions of fact that can be easily determined, it’s also a matter of being right in those areas where we’re required by the insufficiency of our knowledge to guess.

Science and politics are different disciplines, if you will.

Krugman is no more reality-based than faith-healer Benny Hinn, he just puts on a good show.

Comment #41563

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 7:43 PM (e)

Uh, Flint, I wasn’t praising Bennett.

He got that.

Comment #41566

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

He got that.

Puffery is praise.

Comment #41568

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 5, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

Anyone notice that all the rancor that is here now, wasn’t here a few weeks ago?

I wonder why that would be …… .

Comment #41575

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 5, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

Lenny Flank wrote:

Anyone notice that all the rancor that is here now, wasn’t here a few weeks ago?

I’m hoping it’s a temporary setback.

Comment #41579

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 8:49 PM (e)

Puffery is praise

You were praising yourself.

Comment #41580

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 8:49 PM (e)

I wonder why that would be … …

Stuff like

Jeff Z. wrote:

Krugman’s piece is childish McCarthyism, intellectually useless and dangerous to anyone who tries to use it against a knowledgeable opponent.

Richard Bennett wrote:

You can see why Myers is upset that anyone would dare to criticize Gould, since both employ similar rhetorical styles.

But Lenny would blame this on a single person who hadn’t entered the conversation at that point.

Comment #41582

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 8:52 PM (e)

You were praising yourself.

Here’s the comment that Flint referred to as “insecure puffery”:

I realize that this is beyond your mental and ethical capacity to comprehend…you clearly have nothing intelligent to say…

That is not me praising myself. But don’t let facts get in your way.

Comment #41584

Posted by colleen on August 5, 2005 9:05 PM (e)

This is nothing compared to the “good” old days of Great White Wonder and JAD.

Comment #41586

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 5, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

I realize that this is beyond your mental and ethical capacity to comprehend…you clearly have nothing intelligent to say…That is not me praising myself. But don’t let facts get in your way.

When you put yourself in a position of being fit to judge my mental and ethical capacity you praise yourself implicitly.

I take it there’s an epidemic of Aspergers around this blog, so let me explain the concept of “implicit statement.” There is, at any given time in our American culture, something we call The Buzz that represents the things that people are commonly talking about. When the President made his idiotic remarks on ID teaching Monday, they became part of the The Buzz and people started talking about them in the places that people talk about The Buzz (newspaper opinion columns, broadcast news shows, blogs, etc.). So when Krugman’s column came out on the vicious neocons and ID, it took its place in The Buzz right next to the President’s remarks. He didn’t have to actually say “Bush is a bastard because he said this…”, it was enough to weigh in on that topic at that time, in the most hostile way he could.

Had he laid out all the predicates connecting Bush to ID and the hijacking of science by the right, that would have been “explicit statement” but to reasonably well-informed people not suffering from Asperger’s, it’s the same.

But anyhow, since the left has been hijacking science for 30 years (longer if you go back to Lysenko), it’s about time the right caught on to the game and started playing too, sad as it may be.

Comment #41589

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on August 5, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

PZ Myers: What exactly did Gould say that was wrong?

My nomination for this category would be his harsh review of Loren Eiseley’s Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X.

By misrepresenting Eiseley’s very clear case that Edward Blyth described the principle of natural selection years before Origin was published, and attacking a straw man instead, Gould turned his back on some important history.

IIRC, Blyth didn’t use the term “natural selection,” but his concept seemed much the same. He described it not as a process which changes species, but one which maintains them in their (superbly-adapted) forms. Unlike Darwin, Blyth knew little geology, and so was thinking in timespans of millennia. So, in that framework, he was perfectly correct: both gradualists & punk eekologists would agree that natural selection is homeostatic during most such intervals.

I can’t resist speculating that Gould wrote as he did to protect the pedestal he built for Darwin. If so, it seems oddly apt that he cut himself off from a historical root of his own pet theory.

(For the record: I continue to cherish Gould’s writing.)

Comment #41590

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 9:33 PM (e)

Richard Bennett wrote:

When you put yourself in a position of being fit to judge my mental and ethical capacity you praise yourself implicitly.

Even if that were true, implicit praise isn’t puffery.

Comment #41595

Posted by steve on August 5, 2005 10:01 PM (e)

Along with registration, it would be great if a user could turn off display, on his end, of comments by a given commenter. Anybody who thought that Richard Bennett had nothing to say, could click a (hide) link next to his name, and no more Richard Bennett posts would appear. For instance.

Comment #41598

Posted by ts on August 5, 2005 10:14 PM (e)

Richard Bennett wrote:

But anyhow, since the left has been hijacking science for 30 years (longer if you go back to Lysenko), it’s about time the right caught on to the game and started playing too, sad as it may be.

That’s quite some statement.

Comment #41607

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 5, 2005 11:15 PM (e)

Richard Bennett wrote:

But anyhow, since the left has been hijacking science for 30 years (longer if you go back to Lysenko), it’s about time the right caught on to the game and started playing too, sad as it may be.

Er, they’re way ahead of you.

Comment #41608

Posted by steve on August 5, 2005 11:25 PM (e)

I’m afraid political misuse of science goes way back beyond 30 years ago, Mr. Bennett. Far Rightists misused biology to push eugenics 100 years ago, as has been discussed on this site, in length, approximately ten thousand times.

Comment #41610

Posted by Tim Chase on August 5, 2005 11:31 PM (e)

Stephen J. Gould and Punctuated Equilibrium Theory

For me, the big question is whether Stephen J. Gould was correct on the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory. Now as I understand it, with the vast majority of species which reproduce by sexual means, what we find is that there are long periods of stasis, then relatively short periods during which evolutionary change takes place, that is, punctuated equilibria models win-out over gradualism (although the reverse is the case among primitive species which reproduce by means of fission):

“Among more complex organisms, however, the opposite consensus had developed. As paleontologists had known for over a century, most species are stable for millions of years, and change so rapidly that we rarely witness it in the fossil record. Of the hundreds of studies that have been reviewed elsewhere (Gould and Eldredge, 1977, 1986; Gould, 1992), a few stand out (Stanley, 1992). Cheetham (1986) and Stanley and Yang (1987) examined all the available lineages of their respective groups (bryozoans and bivalves) through long intervals of time, using multivariate analysis of multiple character states. Both concluded that most of their species were static through millions of years, with rare but rapid episodes of speciation. Williamson (1981, 1985) examined the details of evolution of molluscs in Lake Turkana, Kenya, and showed that there were multiple examples of rapid speciation and prolonged stasis, but no gradualism. Barnosky (1987) reviewed a great number of different lineages of mammals, from mammoths to shrews and rodents, that lived during the last two million years of the Ice Ages. He found a few examples of gradualism, but many more which showed stasis and punctuation.”

“My own research (Prothero and Shubin, 1983; Prothero, 1992; Prothero, Heaton, and Stanley, in press) examined all the mammals with a reasonably complete record from the Eocene-Oligocene (about 30-35 million years ago) beds of the Big Badlands of South Dakota and related areas in Wyoming and Nebraska (Figure 2). This study not only sampled every available lineage without bias, but also had much better time control from magnetic stratigraphy (Prothero and Swisher, 1992) and wider geographic coverage than the studies by Gingerich cited above. With one exception (gradual dwarfing in the oreodont Miniochoerus), we found that all of the Badlands mammals were static through millions of years, or speciated abruptly (if they changed at all).”

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM AT TWENTY: A PALEONTOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Skeptic vol. 1, no. 3, Fall 1992, pp. 38-47
By Donald R. Prothero, Ph.D.

http://www.skeptic.com/01.3.prothero-punc-eq.html

Now I do not believe that punctuated equilibrium theory is as revolutionary as Gould and Eldredge once tried to make it out to be. But at the same time, I by no means regard it as trivial, either. It has become a part of the wider synthesis of Darwinist evolutionary thought, an important part. It is time to move beyond the personalities and on with the science.

(Of course, please correct me if you believe I am mistaken.)

Comment #41616

Posted by Tim Chase on August 6, 2005 12:00 AM (e)

Did humans evolve in fits and starts?
17:30 17 June 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Gaia Vince

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7539

Humans may have evolved during a few rapid bursts of genetic change, according to a new study of the human genome, which challenges the popular theory that evolution is a gradual process.

Researchers studying human chromosome 2 have discovered that the bulk of its DNA changes occurred in a relatively short period of time and, since then, only minor alterations have occurred.

This backs a theory called “punctuated equilibrium” which suggests that evolution actually occurred as a series of jumps with long static periods between them.

Thought the above might be of interest regarding Gould and Punk Eek…

Comment #41619

Posted by Steve Verdon on August 6, 2005 12:13 AM (e)

Defeating ID and getting junk science out of the schools can be done by building a bi-partisan coalition of concerned citizens, recognizing that both the left and the right stand to lose a little in the process. Simply bashing away at the right in some mad and unprincipled way isn’t going to but it - there aren’t enough of you people, and your skills aren’t that good.

I agree with Richard here. In the comments at least there is a strong liberal bias and at the very least a disdain for non-liberals. Example, steve’s snide comments about Timothy Sandefeur.

As PZ Myers has indicated there are conservatives/Republicans who don’t hold to this kind of nonsense. Further, I bet there are a good many libertarians who don’t either. Good science, ultimately, is not about Left, Right, Liberal or Conservative, IMO. A failure to grasp this point is going to make the defeat of ID all the harder. Take the ideological blinders off…if you can.

Whatever the case, I certainly don’t think it’s legitimate to say that Krugman was making “an argument that ID should be rejected because it’s neo-con propaganda.“ That argument was neither stated nor implied.

So what? I agree with your point, but the problem here are points of view and perceptions which Flint has commented on frequently and persuasively, IMO. You are missing that point here. Krugman is seen, and I think rightfully, as being more than a bit unhinged with the Bush Administration.* As such he is probably not a good standard bearer or even a good foot soldier in the battle against ID. Many people might see Krugman dismissing ID and take the opposite view.

Always happy to. The problem is, whether we like it or not, ID is a political issue. The ID movement is not just about pushing religion, it’s about pushing religion for certain ideological ends. Read the Wedge Document for example and see them blaming evolution for communism, the welfare state, modern art, and pretty much everything else they hate. They don’t speak of “cultural renewal” for nothing. And even if their agenda weren’t political, they are using the political process to push it.

Sure, ID is political, but not all conservatives/Republicans are part of a monolithic group. There is tendency here on this blog to take this view, at least in the comments.

I believe his point was that Sandefur tends to disallow comments on his posts, which is his right. He hates comments. Sometimes I see why. :)

Zing, we have a winner.

and E “persons who view affirmative action, gay marriage, and high taxes as natural consequences of evolution.”

Wrong, I’m afraid. The problem here is we are talking about beliefs, not things like logic or mathmatics and people sometimes hold illogical, inconsistent and downright whacky beliefs.

*A bit of topic, but a good example is Krugman’s bashing of Bush for the energy crisis in California. I doubt many here followed that situation extremely closesly, but the problems were percieved in the summer of 1999, and not much was done. And if you want to real technical some of the problems started even earlier in the summer of 1998 in some of ancillary services markets. Blaming Bush and ignoring Clinton and Davis is just plain old vanilla stupid or blind partisanship.

I think the problem with all these Krugman bashers is they always complain about his partisanship not his arguments.

Personally I take the view of two Krugmans. One prior to Nov. 2000 and the one after. Prior to Nov. 2000 Krugman often wrote articles and essays in popular magazines that were pretty good, IMO, and at least were thought provoking. After Nov. 2000 he seems to have become more than a tad bit shrill and extremely partisan. So there has been a change, and in my view not for the better.

Comment #41621

Posted by Sean M on August 6, 2005 12:41 AM (e)

Sean M wrote:

and E “persons who view affirmative action, gay marriage, and high taxes as natural consequences of evolution.”

Steve Verdon in reply wrote:

Wrong, I’m afraid. The problem here is we are talking about beliefs, not things like logic or mathmatics and people sometimes hold illogical, inconsistent and downright whacky beliefs.

Please note that part of my point was that E (as above) is NOT part of A (“liberals”) and another part of it was that people’s illogical, inconsistent, and downright wacky beliefs should NOT influence public policy. I’d like to think that those points were pretty clear in what I said.

Do you seriously propose that there are liberals who are part of E or that illogical, inconsistent, and wacky beliefs (for example, astrology, crystal-waving, and belief in God) should influence public policy ?

Comment #41622

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 12:51 AM (e)

I agree with Richard here. In the comments at least there is a strong liberal bias

So Richard’s comments show a strong liberal bias? In any case, a strong liberal bias might be correlated with a strong education, a strong does of rationality, etc. Perhaps you mistake “well informed and intellectually honest” for “liberal”; it’s a common mistake.

a disdain for non-liberals. Example, steve’s snide comments about Timothy Sandefeur…

I believe his point was that Sandefur tends to disallow comments on his posts, which is his right. He hates comments. Sometimes I see why. :)

Zing, we have a winner.

Oh, I get it; it’s a parody. After all, no sensible person could seriously take an observation about a moderator not allowing comments as “disdain for non-liberals”.

Comment #41623

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 12:53 AM (e)

a strong does dose

Comment #41624

Posted by Tim Chase on August 6, 2005 1:18 AM (e)

Why the Intelligent Designer must be the Big “G”

ID proponents are trying to get a great deal of mileage out of the claim that the intelligent designer doesn’t have to be supernatural – without making this claim, they would run into the same problem as creationism, namely, that by bringing intelligent design into the schools, they would be breaching the Separation of Church and State. Recently I ran across an article that I found rather perceptive, and which convincingly argues that intelligent design requires a supernatural intelligent designer.

The Bait and Switch of “Intelligent Design” Creationism
August 3, 2005
by Keith Lockitch

http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/l/lockitch/2005/lockitch080305.htm

Imagine we discovered an alien on Mars with a penchant for bio-engineering. Could such a natural being fulfill the requirements of an “intelligent designer”?

It could not. Such a being would not actually account for the complexity that “design” proponents seek to explain. Any natural being capable of “designing” the complex features of earthly life would, on their premises, require its own “designer.” If “design” can be inferred merely from observed complexity, then our purported Martian “designer” would be just another complex being in nature that supposedly cannot be explained without positing another “designer.” One does not explain complexity by dreaming up a new complexity as its cause.

By the very nature of its approach, “intelligent design” cannot be satisfied with a “designer” who is part of the natural world. Such a “designer” would not answer the basic question its advocates raise: it would not explain biological complexity as such. The only “designer” that would stop their quest for a “design” explanation of complexity is a “designer” about whom one cannot ask any questions or who cannot be subjected to any kind of scientific study–a “designer” that “transcends” nature and its laws–a “designer” not susceptible of rational explanation–in short: a supernatural “designer.”

Incidentally, this periodical is typically rather conservative…

Comment #41631

Posted by darwinfinch on August 6, 2005 4:50 AM (e)

What petty and unclever people those who pose as “conservatives” in America are, however their position may apparently match the truth, the facts, or my inclinations, on any issue! And how VERY often they have to make their mean, little public, from a very safe place.

Comment #41636

Posted by Jeff Z on August 6, 2005 6:39 AM (e)

My concern with Krugman’s column is not its factual accuracy as such, but whether it advances or hinders the progress of putting ID and Creationism in the classroom, whether as itself or if its arguments are used by someone who believes that it does.

Anyone who is trying to stop the spread of non-scientifc ideas into a science class has three handicaps when trying to advocate his case:

1) In the current intellectual climate, objective truth has been replaced by subjective value. “Being judgemental” is seen as pernicious and all “cultures” are seen as equally true, with science as just one more “culture.” The “default” positin of the people you are speaking to will be to let ID into the classroom, because evolution has no grounds to assert it is any more “true” than ID is.

2) This is obviously absurd, but the people you are trying to persuade are not going to have the scientific knowledge to understand why. You have to educate them, but you’re not going to have the tume to do it, nor are they going to have the inclination to listen to a serious, detailed scientific discussion, instead, they are going to judge you by the way you conduct your argument.

3) ID does not have to win the argument. They don’t even have to tie. All they have to do is be let in the game, and they have achieved their goal. We, on the other hand, have to prove they are absolutely wrong; any less, and we lose.

Our (anti-ID and Creationism) argument is that science is based on verifiable data, objective experimentation design, reproducible results, peer-review, etc., so when you present your case, you sure better not leave these criteria behind and start using the criteria of the people you are opposed to, or you will merely strengthen their position.

I’m approaching Krugman’s article from that perspective.

Paragraph 1: “I’d like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of ‘intelligent design.’ No, he didn’t play any role in developing the doctrine…”

This is a pure McCarthyite trope. Kristol is claimed to be guilty of something he has no connection to, based on the fact that they have (supposedly)done something that he did too.

Much worse, though, from the point of view of this critique, Krugman is saying that his subjective verbal construction has the same intellectual authority as the objective physical fact. Krugman admits Kristol has nothing to do with ID, but believes at the same time he is responsible for it. Who does that type of thinking help? You or ID?

Paragraph 2)”Back in 1978 Mr. Kristol urged corporations to make “philanthropic contributions to scholars and institutions who are likely to advocate preservation of a strong private sector.” That was delicately worded, but the clear implication was that corporations that didn’t like the results of academic research, however valid, should support people willing to say something more to their liking.”

The sentence is not “delicately worded,” it’s perfectly straightforward. More importantly, if anyone to whom you are speaking was an adult in 1978, as I was (though a very young one!), you have now lost any credibility you have. You might as wll write a check to the Discovery Institute and talk about baseball instead. The late 1970’s were horrible economically. Look at what Krugman is saying: Kristol believed a strong private sector was the correct economic policy, even though academic research had proven that this was in fact bad economic policy.

Now imagine making this argument in support of keeping ID out of the classroom because academics should only deal with objective facts. Hmmmm…your audience thinks, the 70’s were awful, then the private sector was strengthened by implementing supply-side economics and tax cuts, then the economy took off and hasn’t stopped since, yet according to this guy, all the professors and universities with their objective studies had proven that this could not possibly happen. Hey, this guy still seems to believe it couldn’t possbily happen, but I was there and I saw it, and I still see it. Now this guy is claiming that these professors and universities with their objective studies have proven that evolution is true and ID is false…yeah, sure okay, and the US is an economic basket case which is so much worse off than we were in 1978.

“Like, you mean, Mr. Evolution advocate, if only we had done what the Europeans had done and kept taxes high and devalue the public sector at the expense of the private sector, why we’d be doing as economically well as they are?”

So, now, to advance the case of science and evolution, you’ve taken the position that overwhelming physical evidence is meaningless; that academic research is always right, even when it is contradicted by the same meaningless physical evidence; that cause and effect are unrelated; that your subjective opinion is stronger science than everybody else’s objective observations; etc.

Unfortunately, I have to stop and will not be able to get back to this until Sunday night. I apologize. I’ll get to the Nietzsche comment to.

I want to conclude, though, by issuing a warning: Krugman’s purpose is not to use Kristol to discredit ID, it is to use ID to discredit economic positions he does not agree with. He is using you to pursue his squalid little academic vendettas and if you let him, he will hurt us even more than this editorial already has.

Comment #41642

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 6, 2005 7:18 AM (e)

A few comments:

First, as to Krugman’s case against ID, I think he made valid points. ID is as much political as it is religious. Neo-conservatism started as a secular view and there are still secular Neo-cons. But their agenda has been entirely subordinated to the religious right-or is it that the religious right is simply being manipulated by the neo-cons? At any rate, the relationship has become symbiotic.

As for his columns I tend to agree with him. Still, there is a valid point to some of the critiques of his most recent column. If we want to defend science education it will not help to alienate people who might be allies. The defense of science education should not be tied a priori to criticism of Bush or Republicans. But-and here is the point that secular Neo-cons or Libertarians should consider carefully-the Bush administration has chosen to ally itself with anti-science forces in the US. It has exhibited this on stem cell research, on Terry Schiavo, on global warming and now on ID.

The Republican Party and the Conservative movement in general (not necessarily every conservative) have implicitly (and if you read some of the ID writings explicitly) bought lock, stock and barrel into a conservative version of post-modern epistemology. One of the points I did agree with that conservatives tended to make about University campuses in the 1980’s and 1990’s was that anti-science and anti-rational inquiry points of view had drowned out the old left points of view that had anchored its views in scientific approaches to knowledge. The conservative movement, including some conservative scholars, are now buying into this themselves.

Secular Neo-cons would be well served to try and clean up their own house.

Finally, I will add that I found much of Krugman’s article on his website on evoluton and economics to be misleading, jaundiced, biased and downright confused and misleading.

Comment #41644

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 7:34 AM (e)

Paragraph 1: “I’d like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of ‘intelligent design.’ No, he didn’t play any role in developing the doctrine…”

This is a pure McCarthyite trope. Kristol is claimed to be guilty of something he has no connection to, based on the fact that they have (supposedly)done something that he did too.

This is a transparent misrepresentation, with explicit removal of relevant context. Krugman doesn’t label Kristol as “father” for simply doing the same thing as the IDists, but rather for fathering “the political strategy that lies behind the intelligent design movement”. And, as Steve noted in his piece, Kristol has explicit connections to ID. The Ronald Bailey piece he cited is well worth reading if you actually care about the subject, and not just about bashing Krugman.

He is using you to pursue his squalid little academic vendettas

There’s nothing in Krugman’s piece that supports this or any of the other claims in your rant, which clearly is a component in some vendetta that you are waging against him.

Comment #41645

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 7:41 AM (e)

The defense of science education should not be tied a priori to criticism of Bush or Republicans.

And Krugman does nothing of the sort – not that it’s easy to imagine what an a priori tie is or how it would be manifested.

Comment #41646

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 6, 2005 7:47 AM (e)

ts,

Your strategy in replying to me (as evidenced by previous encounters) seems to be to take quotes out of context and interpret them to mean things that I did not intend. This does not make me optimistic about exchanges with you.

Comment #41649

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 7:57 AM (e)

Your strategy in replying to me (as evidenced by previous encounters) seems to be to take quotes out of context and interpret them to mean things that I did not intend. This does not make me optimistic about exchanges with you.

As in the past, I did not take your words out of context (the context is right there above, and doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence I quoted) nor did I interpret them to mean something you didn’t – in fact, I didn’t offer any interpretation at all, other than to take your words as applying to Krugman; you can tell me if I was wrong to do so. But rather than do that, or to demonstrate that I’m wrong and that Krugman did do that sort of thing, you take an ad hominem swipe, as you did in the past.

As long as we’re here:

Finally, I will add that I found much of Krugman’s article on his website on evoluton and economics to be misleading, jaundiced, biased and downright confused and misleading.

I find a lot of what you write to be garbage too, but that’s neither here nor there without specific quotes, arguments, reasoning, that sort of thing.

Comment #41652

Posted by Jeff Z on August 6, 2005 8:49 AM (e)

ts: That is McCarthyism! I don’t disagree with what you wrote and you don’t disagree with what I wrote, factually. But guilt by association is not proof. Ugh–I give up.

Comment #41655

Posted by vetiver on August 6, 2005 10:01 AM (e)

Verdon, Bennett:

Apparently, what you’re saying is that we (i.e., the People’s Cadre of Latte-Sipping Liberals) must sign on to a framing of the issue that seems inextricably linked with many, many notions we consider false, laughable, insulting, dangerous, or some combo thereof (e.g., the “high taxes, gay marriage, and affirmative action as natural consequences of evolution” mini-rant: F, L, I but not D).

You can see why we might have problems with that, right? Further, please explain why such a lock-step approach is necessary. Sure, the “on-message or else” tactic has worked well for Republicans the last five years. But in this case, when there’s plenty of non-manufactured evidence and legal, logical support on our (anti-ID) side, why can’t you talk to your cohorts in terms they find meaningful and resonant, while we do the same?

If all the gods ever worshipped made themselves visible and circulated notarized affidavits declaring Krugman their messenger on Earth, his every utterance sanctioned as truth – you and yours still wouldn’t listen to him. Which is fine; it’s a free country, and all. But given that, it seems both pointless and silly to critique his presentation from your POV. Better, I’d think, to concentrate on the pundits you folks would actually listen to. Has anyone other than Krauthammer spoken up? Who else might, or might be persuaded to?

Comment #41659

Posted by steve on August 6, 2005 10:31 AM (e)

Krauthammer and George Will have both spoken up against ID. But that’s the small intellectual fraction of the modern conservative movement. The much larger Sean Hannity fraction, you might call them GED Conservatives, are creationists.

Comment #41660

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on August 6, 2005 10:42 AM (e)

Bennett: The people best situated to attack Bush on ID are those who are generally supportive of Bush on the war, the economy, school choice, and that whole set of issues.

Verdon: Krugman is seen, and I think rightfully, as being more than a bit unhinged with the Bush Administration.*  As such he is probably not a good standard bearer or even a good foot soldier in the battle against ID.

So only pro-Bush commentators should speak up at all? Just whose agenda is being furthered here?

Comment #41663

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 6, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

ts,

Please just don’t bother to respond to me and I will do you the same courtesy. It is clear there is no basis for dialogue between the two of us.

Comment #41672

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 3:18 PM (e)

Please just don’t bother to respond to me and I will do you the same courtesy. It is clear there is no basis for dialogue between the two of us.

Clearly you aren’t interested in “dialogue” when you respond to my post with an ad hominem attack, falsely accusing me of taking your words out of context, giving them interpretations you didn’t intend (implying that I had intentionally misinterpreted them – since we are autonomous beings, our interpretations are never fully in sync), and labeling that as a “strategy”. And then, when I point that out, you go “don’t comment on what I write – as a courtesy”. No, no fruitful dialog is possible with one so intellectually dishonest, but hey, I wasn’t seeking dialogue with you, I simply pointed out that Krugman didn’t tie the defense of science education a priori to criticism of Bush or Republicans, nor has anyone else, nor is it at all clear what that might mean, and I will continue to comment on what I think is worth commenting on.

Comment #41673

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 3:27 PM (e)

Jeff Z. wrote:

But guilt by association is not proof. Ugh—I give up.

But not before falsely labeling what Krugman wrote guilt by association, throwing in a non sequitur comment about “proof”, and again misusing and trivializing the term “McCarthyism”.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=mccarthyism

1. The practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence.

2. The use of unfair investigatory or accusatory methods in order to suppress opposition.

Comment #41674

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 6, 2005 3:28 PM (e)

Jeff Z, I think your analysis of Krugman’s column is spot-on. In essence, he doesn’t argue with the substance of ID, merely with its genesis in the vast right-wing think tank conspiracy operating outside the control of the academic priesthood who ultimately must decide what the rest of us are allowed to read. He calls upon fellow travelers in the liberal media to step-up to the partisan challenge and keep unseemly notions out of the press, much as he does in his own journalistic role, of course.

The Bailey article linked by Reuland carries this McCarthyite reasoning a step further, invoking the Straussian justification for conspiracies to distort truth and connecting Kristol directly to the ID movement.

Krugman’s complaint isn’t so much with ID as a doctrine as it is with the rebellion against academic authority, and Bailey’s isn’t so much with junk science as it is with the accumulation of power and influence by the state. It’s interesting that the two of them take the same evidence and use it to support completely opposite conclusions about the political system.

Krugman makes his typical error: everything he says is true as far as it goes, but he fails to show a complete picture. There are left-wing think tanks as well (Urban Institute, for one), and there are huge numbers of left-wing academics essentially doing political activism at taxpayer expense; he’s only one of them. And the complaints about the media are fairly comic coming as they do from the hard left; reporters are overwhelmingly liberal and their stories are subtly biased in that direction whether they think so or not. If reporters fail to understand science we need look no further than the school system that failed to educate them to lay the blame.

But his complaint is understandable: “We control the schools, we control the universities, we control the media, but still these right-wing bastards are kicking our asses. Woe unto us, they must disarm, only we can play this game.”

I wonder what would happen if the media actually took his advice and actually started reporting that ID was a disingenuous attempt by a vast network of the corporate overlords of the Christian right to keep our children ignorant of the ways of science and reason. Somehow, I don’t think it would turn out as most of us here would like.

Krugman correctly identifies ID as a political and cultural issue of some significance. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to win in this arena, as he’s demonstrated that repeatedly since Nov. 2000. Thanks for the diagnosis, Doctor, I’ll shop elsewhere for a remedy.

Comment #41676

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 6, 2005 4:18 PM (e)

ts,

You are of course free to comment on anything you like. Just don’t expect me to pay attention in the future or deem it worth my while to respond. For the record:

I did not say that Krugman had a priori tied defense of science education to criticisms of Bush and Republicans. I said that I thought to do so would be a poor strategy. I prefaced that comment by stating that Krugman had made many valid points and I added after that comment a brief analysis about how neoconservatism in general had allowed its secular principles to get swallowed up by its religious allies. All those comments were made in response to points that had been raised by several people over the course of the thread.

The term “a priori” means simply “prior to”. Thus to tie criticism of ID to criticism of conservatism in general “a priori” would be to take a position that automatically identified and conflated the two, prior to responding to specific comments by specific conservatives. That would be a priori. I wonder if anyone else had a problem seeing the point.

Nor did I employ an “ad hominem” against you. An “ad hominem” means to attack a person, rather than an argument. If I had said everyone knows that ts’ wife works for the CIA and she put him up to that last post, that would be an ad hominem. Criticizing your style and saying that you misquoted me is not ad hominem.
Last night I had begun and was about half way through a post that was intended to make some general points in response to Krugman’s address to the European Associatin for Evolutionary Political Economy, linked above. I know a good deal about EAEPE, having previously given a paper years ago at one of its sessions.I am broadly sympathetic to its approach, though it is a pretty diverse group of people so its not quite fair to say that it has “one approach” -other than an a priori view that static, maximizing general equilibrium models are a poor way to build a general theory of economics.

Halfway through my post, the great Walrasian auctioneer in the sky struck my computer with a lightning bolt (actually, it was probably more like a power line) so the post did not make it through. That is the one point you are correct on. My comments about Krugman’s address should be expanded upon and backed up. I had intended to follow up with such a post later today. In fact, if I were not wasting my time responding to your inanity, I might be doing so right now.

I’m reluctant to do so now, as I suspect this thread is winding down. Furthermore, doing so is real work. So I reserve my right as a card carrying member of several evolutionary economic organizations to just respond with a great big raspberry to typical, condescending, bs by the Neo-Classical mainstream.

Incidentally, I have in the past posted links to recent works by legitimate academics who address some of these issues.

I will be happy to provide a few titles if anyone is interested in reading what evolutionary economists really have to say.

Now all that said, I will conclude by pointing out what a great big waste of time (mine and everybody else’s) this post is. Since engaging with you requires responding to arcane points twisted out of context and nit picking over the use of clear terms like “a priori”, I choose not to engage with you in the future.

Comment #41679

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 6, 2005 4:45 PM (e)

I will be happy to provide a few titles if anyone is interested in reading what evolutionary economists really have to say.

Yes, please, and let me commend you for your patience.

Comment #41687

Posted by RBH on August 6, 2005 5:53 PM (e)

Chip Poirot wrote

I will be happy to provide a few titles if anyone is interested in reading what evolutionary economists really have to say.

Yeah, I’d appreciate that, too.

RBH

Comment #41691

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 6, 2005 6:19 PM (e)

Here are a few things to get started:

The Evolution of Institutional Economics by Geoff Hodgson is my recommended startig point. Hodgson’s book is important because it analyzes the break between the social scientists and natural scientists and how this affected evolutionary economics. It’s a little parochial for the non-economist, but he addresses a lot of issues that are of relevance outside of the academic infighting of economists.

There is a fairly recent edited volume out that includes essays by Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis. Bowles and Gintis have branched out into evolutionary game theory.

Boyd and Richerson (who are actually anthropologists) have a very thought provoking work out called Not by Genes Alone. They are not economists but they pull together a lot of threads and a lot of their work is closely related to what Bowles and Gintis are doing.

I also like ( a lot) what some economic anthropologists are doing (anthropologists who write about economic evolution but who are not technically speaking “economists”). Marvin Harris’ Cultural Materialism and his Rise of Anthropological Theory are must reads (IMO). Harris accepted the application of sociobiology to infra-human species but rejected its application to humans. Still, he agreed that humans had bio-psychosocial tendencies and put a lot of emphasis on how humans interacted with ecological systems.

There’s a lot more out there, but these are a few suggestions to get started.

Comment #41700

Posted by ts on August 6, 2005 7:22 PM (e)

Just don’t expect me to pay attention in the future or deem it worth my while to respond

I have no such expectations; how silly and self-centered.

Nor did I employ an “ad hominem” against you. An “ad hominem” means to attack a person, rather than an argument.

That’s a ridiculous lie. I said something about Krugman, and you responded with something about me – two lies about me, in fact.

Criticizing your style and saying that you misquoted me is not ad hominem.

You didn’t say I misquoted you – that would be yet another lie, since I didn’t. But you did poison the well by accusing me of a strategy, of quotes out of context and misinterpretation. Only the lowest scoundrel would deny that that is ad hominem.

Comment #41808

Posted by Jeff Z on August 7, 2005 4:17 PM (e)

On the outside chance that anyone is still reading this, I’m not delivering the critique I promised, simply because it is not worth wasting the time. I don’t know if ID and Creationism are going into he classroom one way or the other, but the Evolutionists are their best allies. WIth such enemies, they can’t lose.

To Steve Verdon and Richard Bennet and Chip Poirot (and a few others, who did not post as much): Forget it. I have been posting to various blogs about this issue, and have gotten almost nowhere. I had a lengthy conversation with a computer scientist this weekend and should have taken a nap instead. The responses you have received here are a perfect representation of the fanatical viciousness, self-rightousness, inability to learn, inability to respond to argument, etc. of these people. Find another cause to use your education, integrity, and intelligence on. I am.

As an utterly pointless gesture of futility, I am going to respond to Panda’s latest post by explaining patiently why W’s pronouncement on Creationism and ID was a huge victory for our side, then stand back and watch the muck tide of hatred and idiocy roll over me.

Then I’ll take that nap.

Comment #41835

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 12:29 AM (e)

To Steve Verdon and Richard Bennet and Chip Poirot … The responses you have received here are a perfect representation of the fanatical viciousness, self-rightousness, inability to learn, inability to respond to argument, etc. of these people.

What a pile of fanatically vivious self-righteous and self-serving garbage. You don’t even seem to be aware that Poirot’s views are nearly 180 from Verdon’s and Bennett’s. It’s amusing that Verdon thinks a mere mention of Tim Sandefur not opening his threads is a case of “disdain for non-liberals”, while Poirot has made a point of criticizing Sandefur for using this site as a platform for promoting his political views, particularly for bashing liberal economists.

As an utterly pointless gesture of futility, I am going to respond to Panda’s latest post by explaining patiently why W’s pronouncement on Creationism and ID was a huge victory for our side, then stand back and watch the muck tide of hatred and idiocy roll over me.

It’s not a novel idea; I’ve already suggested it. But if someone disagrees, I wouldn’t take that alone as a sign of hatred or idiocy, as you do.

Comment #41879

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 8, 2005 7:12 AM (e)

Jeff Z,

What Bush said simply aligns the conservative movement more deeply with conservative Lysenkoism. I use Lysenkoism in a very loose sense (rather than it’s original identification with Lamarckian inheritance) to refer to the subordination of science to politics. The conservative movement, as I opined in a previous post has now adopted the same tactic and epistemology of the PoMo-Deco left.

Now, as I stated-not all conservatives do this. There are still those out there who identify conservatism with rational discourse and who are pro-science. But their voices are becoming marginalized in the movement. On that score, I agreed with Krugman.

Where conservatives (or anybody else) continue to argue for a reality based model of the world, there is a basis for dialogue and rational discussion of views.

Politically, what Bush did was “smart” in so far as American politics have become less and less reality based and critical thinking has become rarer and rarer in the political debate.

And ts does (this time) accurately summarize my views. Some of what Tim Sandefur posts is provocative and interesting. At least he is an example of a conservative/libertarian committed to a scientific world view. Although, as ts notes, I have and will continue to criticize Tim (or anyone else) who engages in what I view as misrepresentation of my profession.

Comment #41881

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 7:21 AM (e)

Chip Poirot wrote:

And ts does (this time) accurately summarize my views.

I always try to, though it’s possible that I sometimes fail (but I don’t honestly believe I have). I certainly have no “strategy” of misrepresenting your or anyone else’s views. And it also so happens that I agree with the great majority of views that you express (including stuff I’ve seen elsewhere, such are your critical comments about Ayn Rand). But you seem to have a very uncharitable view of disagreement, or certain forms of it.

Comment #41882

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 7:38 AM (e)

Actually, I misstated that. I don’t always try to accurately summarize CP’s views, because in fact I don’t try at all, except in that one instance above. My one line response to one line of CP’s to which he reacted so rashly was not meant to characterize his views at all; it was my own assertion, which I thought relevant with all the Bush bashing from Bennett et. al., that Krugman was not guilty of “a priori” tying his critique of ID to criticism of Bush and Republicans, and my suggestion that an individual article can’t possibly manifest such an “a priori” connection. That’s a judgment about peoples’ psychology that I think we would be better off not making, especially when Krugman’s own explicit claims as to his concerns go to degradation of American values, institutions, and quality of life.

Comment #41892

Posted by Jeff Z on August 8, 2005 9:59 AM (e)

ts & Chip: I can’t think of a better example, ts, of what I’m talking about than your statement that you characterize my assessment of certain thread participants as a “a pile of fanatically vivious self-righteous and self-serving garbage,” becasue I don’t even seem to be aware that Poirot’s views are nearly 180 from Verdon’s and Bennett’s.”

If you look at what I’ve said, I’m not criticizing people for their views. It would make no sense on this thread, because almost everyone has the same views. I have the same view as you, which is that we don’t want ID and Creationism taught in biology class as science, because it is not science.

What I’m talking about is learning our opponents’ objections to our position, analyzing where their weaknesses, contradictions, and possible points of ageement, and then acting in the way that best advances our case. Chip and Verdon and Bennett do this–you and everyone else don’t. (Although, for the most part I have to say that this last message from you was much more effective and analytical than some of your early ones were. I know that is a condescending comment–but before (or after, if necessary) you destroy me verbally, you might want to look back at your posts and think how to best make your case.)

Whether Chip and I (or Verdon or Bennet) agree is beside the point. It is the methods we use that will help our side, and the methods of you and pretty much everyone else on this thread that are a gift to the opposition.

My point about Krugman is not whether you agree or disagree with him (I’m not going to pretend that I don’t think his column and fame have corrupted him intellectually and turned from and interesting and thoughtful economist into a fanatical gasbag, because I do) it’s as to whether or not using his column and type of reasoning will help or hurt us.

Comment #41893

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 8, 2005 10:22 AM (e)

Richard Bennet writes:

Well the personal is political, or some such rot. Look, whether it is or it isn’t, it’s still your choice to play it one way or another. I’m suggesting to you that playing it as a liberal vs. conservative issue means liberals lose, because they always lose.

I’m not the one who keeps trying to frame this as a conservative vs. liberal issue. I am happy to congratulate conservatives, even those I otherwise don’t care for, when they take the pro-science side and denouce ID for what it is. On the other hand, you and a few other people here seem unwilling to grant the same favor to liberals. It doesn’t seem matter that Krugman is taking the right side and making a valid point about think-tanks, all that matters is that he’s a liberal Bush-basher, and this causes you to fear getting liberal taint getting all over an issue you otherwise support. That’s kind of shallow. If people on the right can’t look past personalities to focus on the policy, if they can’t reach across the asile every now and then to ally with the left on issues like this, then we’re in real trouble. It is not written in the sky that conservatives get to control every issue and that only they may speak out.

As for liberals always losing, I’d say the last 100 years strongly belies that notion. On social issues at least, the trend of the 20th century was liberal advancement punctuated by short periods of conservative retrenchment. The history of evolution education is as good an example of that as any.

This column of Krugman’s is, in my opinion, far from a “withering critique of ID” as Steve claimed; rather, it’s a weak attempt to subsume ID inside a generic right-wing conspiracy that’s attempting to take control of American intellectual life away from its rightful owners in the universities and turn it over to the great unwashed.

I read statements like these and I have to wonder if we’re talking about the same article. Krugman does nothing like this. This is you reading into the article what you wish based on your preexisting attitude towards Krugman, not actually reading to understand his point.

It’s factually wrong insofar as it implies broad neo-con support for ID;

As I pointed out already, Krugman did not say, nor imply, that there is strong neo-con support for ID. Just go back and read the article. It’s not in there.

Now I have said that there is neo-con support for ID, and I stand by this claim as being demonstrably true. While there are some neo-cons who are against ID, the rank and file have been strongly supportive. This can be seen, for example, by the fact that leading neo-con periodicals have frequently published pro-ID articles. And by pro-ID, I don’t just mean luke warm support. Many of these articles are written by CRSC fellows themselves with all their wild and dishonest rhetoric. You can’t get much more on-board than that.

Some of the strongest and most effective opponents of ID are neo-cons, as I’ve pointed out.

Aside from Krauthhammer, whose criticism of ID was average at best, I haven’t seen you name any neo-con opponents.

Moreover, I’m wondering what it takes, in your eyes, for a neo-con to be a strong and effective opponent. How many of them have created or joined with pro-science groups? How many have shown up at local school board meetings to oppose teaching creationism? Occasionally voicing some measure of disagreement, only after the issue has exploded, doesn’t make one an effective activist.

A smart tactician would play divide-and-conquer with the right on this issue, and pit the neo-cons and the libertarians against the paleo-cons.

The actual coaltion would pit the paleo-cons and libertarians against the religious right and the neo-cons. The neo-cons have largely allied themselves with the religious right on this issue (and with many issues), the occasional Krauthammer notwithstanding.

And if the paleo-cons and libertarians aren’t too pig-headed, they will ally themselves with the liberals who are carrying most of the water for the pro-science side.

Comment #41910

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 8, 2005 2:12 PM (e)

I read statements like these and I have to wonder if we’re talking about the same article. Krugman does nothing like this. This is you reading into the article what you wish based on your preexisting attitude towards Krugman, not actually reading to understand his point.

Go through the article again and make two lists: one for substantive arguments against ID, and another for points about its origins and heritage. I think you’ll see that the argument Krugman attempts to float goes like this: “ID is no good because it was cooked-up in a conservative think tank.”

This sort of argument-by-conspiracy-theory doesn’t hold much sway with the general public, although it resonates with Krugman’s fans. It’s preaching to the converted, and logical fallacy. Krugman’s invocation of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy isn’t quite as silly and Ron Bailey’s use of the same tactic, but it’s still unpersuasive. But Krugman’s goal isn’t to persuade, it’s to enrage his fans.

The New Republic did a little survey a few weeks ago on support for ID among various conservatives, and it didn’t show much support for it among new-cons; rather, the religious cons (AKA paleo-cons) seemed to be on board, but the more rationalist neo-cons were found to be generally hostile.

There is an element within the Republican Party that’s growing rapidly these days that people call South Park Republicans or RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). These people reject the religious fixations of the Biblical literalists and vote Republican simply because that party is seen as less offensive to common sense than the politically correct left with all its quotas, male-bashing, and speech codes. Some of them (“us”, really) are aligned with the neo-libertarian viewpoint, and some with the neo-con viewpoint. Reach out in this direction and your efforts will be warmly embraced. Apparently quite a few religious people also oppose ID because it’s essentially a heresy. That’s another source of support.

Nobody likes Air America liberals; they’re a tiny and unimportant fraction of the voting public, worthy of nothing but scorn and contempt.

Comment #41915

Posted by Russell on August 8, 2005 2:48 PM (e)

When Bennett called Krugman a “partisan hack”, at first I thought it was meant in a pejorative way. Having explored his site a little, and as you can see from his comments here, “partisan hack” is probably meant as high praise.

Comment #41916

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 8, 2005 3:11 PM (e)

think you’ll see that the argument Krugman attempts to float goes like this: “ID is no good because it was cooked-up in a conservative think tank.”

That being the case, don’t you think he would have actually named the think tank in question? Without a doubt, he’s pointing out that think tanks can distort the true nature of academic discourse by fomenting controversies where none exist – something that I hope would concern everyone, regardless of their politics. But he did not say (or imply) that ID was wrong because it is promoted by a think tank.

You bitter distain for “Air America” liberals, which probably make up a larger fraction of the electorate than evangelical Christains, is duly noted. It explains why you are apparently so determined to read things into Krugman’s article which simply aren’t there. If the article doesn’t fit your bizarre caricature of liberalism, then, well, you’ll darned well force it.

Comment #41919

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 8, 2005 3:31 PM (e)

Anybody who talks about Bush’s critics as “the politically correct left with all its quotas, male-bashing, and speech codes” obviously learned his politics from trash radio. He probably also thinks that Hilary Clinton is a Marxist, etc.

The Republican right has been cheapening American public discourse with vituperation and character assassion for decades. They are mere thugs who have no business feeling sorry for themselves when somebody disagrees with them strongly. If anything, Krugman understates the degradation of our national life at their hands. Bush no longer has supporters. They’re really accomplices, fellow travellers who should be held personally responsible for the war crimes and financial corruption of the administration. I hope somebody is taking names…

See, that’s what shrill’s like.

Comment #41921

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 8, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

Randi Rhodes said on Air America that Bush wants to replace evolutiuon teaching with a creationism-only curriculum. Now that’s shrill.

Comment #41923

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 8, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

Without a doubt, he’s pointing out that think tanks can distort the true nature of academic discourse by fomenting controversies where none exist — something that I hope would concern everyone, regardless of their politics.

Ah yes, think tanks undermine the authority of politically-correct academics and create an alternate route for advocacy research to enter the public sphere. Academics hate this, but ordinary people cheer it. Our academics have earned themselves the reputation for being narrowly ideological and politically correct to the point of being downright fascist about free speech that expresses non-approved ideas, while at the same time lowering scientific standards for social science. Of course there’s going to be some blow-back from the ideological circle that’s been cut out of the American academy.

Krugman’s whine is transparently narcissistic: he’s mad that he and his can’t control the agenda.

Comment #41925

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

Jeff Z wrote:

What I’m talking about is learning our opponents’ objections to our position, analyzing where their weaknesses, contradictions, and possible points of ageement, and then acting in the way that best advances our case. Chip and Verdon and Bennett do this—you and everyone else don’t.

Well certainly I and many others don’t use the tactics that you, Verdon, and Bennett do, but you’ve quite mischaracterized it.
Your tactic, as I noted, is out of the Ann Coulter play book (“The responses you have received here are a perfect representation of the fanatical viciousness, self-rightousness, inability to learn, inability to respond to argument, etc. of these people. Find another cause to use your education, integrity, and intelligence on. I am.” – those are your words). And if your goal here is to “win” you’re noticeably failing at it, as would be expected of someone trashing nearly everyone in sight and holding himself up as some sort of great intellect of integrity.

Comment #41927

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 4:34 PM (e)

Randi Rhodes said on Air America that Bush wants to replace evolutiuon teaching with a creationism-only curriculum. Now that’s shrill.

Like Jim Harrison said, it’s from trash radio that you seem to have learned your politics. So it’s no point against him to note that a trash radio commnetator like Randi Rhodes is shrill.

Comment #41930

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 8, 2005 5:09 PM (e)

Richard Bennett wrote:

Ah yes, think tanks undermine the authority of politically-correct academics and create an alternate route for advocacy research to enter the public sphere. Academics hate this, but ordinary people cheer it.

You could have cut and pasted this little tirade from an ID website. This is exactly the sort of argument that they offer up. The fact that legions of experts are against them is absolute proof that the experts are biased, and that some quasi-academic think tank is necessary to balance them out.

Unfortunately, the IDists are objectively wrong. By peddling their wares through a think tank rather than through traditional academic channels, they’ve pretty well ensured that no matter how wrong they are, they still get their material out. As with many think tanks, their only objective is to advocate their pre-determined viewpoint, and the usual standards of academic integrity and rigor are therefore dispensible.

Luckily, you’re wrong about what ordinary people believe. Most people have faith in America’s institutions of higher learning and generally figure, quite rightly, that academic experts are more likely to know what they’re talking about than some random ideologue. Advocacy based think tanks are specifically designed to mimic legitimate research insitutions because these are sources of academic respectability, which ordinary people admire. Otherwise, there would have been no need to give themselves fancy sounding titles at institutions with benevolent sounding names.

If you want to help the IDists however, and the forces of irrationality in general, keep insisting that academics are all self-interested fools and frauds.

Comment #41934

Posted by Richard Bennett on August 8, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

I don’t know if I could have cut-and-pasted my remark from DI or not, because this opinion about the present state of universities isn’t unique. As a stopped clock is right twice a day, it’s possible they could have cut-and-pasted this statement as well.

It is a fact that “the usual standards of academic integrity and rigor” aren’t what they used to be, especially in social science departments where research is outcome-based and qualitative studies substitute for quantitative ones. The standards of integrity and rigor are so bad in psychology and sociology that serious scholars have formed breakaway professional associations, and physical anthropologists are building firewalls from cultural anthropologists. And then there’s Post-Modernism.

Parents with children in college these days know what’s going on, and most of it is anything but the triumph of reason over irrational forces.

The ID’ists are objectively wrong, but you can’t prove that by simply ranting about think tanks - you have to prove it on the merits, not by claiming association with an unsavory (to you) crowd.

The McCarthyite tactics are both predictable and unpersuasive.

Comment #41936

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 6:18 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

“Air America” liberals, which probably make up a larger fraction of the electorate than evangelical Christains

Steve, the figures I’ve found indicate that the numbers are close, somewhere between 20-25% for self-identifying liberals and the same for self-identifying evangelical Christians. The latter number is probably larger (OTOH, far more Americans are liberal in outlook but not self-identifying with the term). And note that the two groups are by no means mutually exclusive.

Comment #41937

Posted by ts on August 8, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

you have to prove it on the merits, not by claiming association with an unsavory (to you) crowd

That’s funny coming from someone who not only has produced an ongoing rant based on guilt by association with “liberals”, but who has come right out and said

Politics isn’t simply about facts, Sean, it’s about winning. You may very well be looking for facts, but I’ve already found mine, and I’m looking to share.

In other words, he’s deaf to all argument, regardless of its merits.

The McCarthyite tactics are both predictable and unpersuasive.

Certainly the tactic of accusing others of McCarthyism while practicing it oneself is both predictable and unpersuasive.