Richard B. Hoppe posted Entry 1390 on August 25, 2005 12:55 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1387

The DI’s list of 400 Darwin doubting scientists has one fewer member. Robert Davidson has bailed out, saying

When I joined [the Discovery Institute] I didn’t think they were about bashing evolution. It’s pseudo-science, at best … What they’re doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion.

and

He was shocked, he says, when he saw the Discovery Institute was calling evolution a “theory in crisis.”

“It’s laughable: There have been millions of experiments over more than a century that support evolution,” he says. “There’s always questions being asked about parts of the theory, as there are with any theory, but there’s no real scientific controversy about it.

Davidson began to believe the institute is an “elaborate, clever marketing program” to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design — the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed — and found them lacking in scientific merit.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. And it’s in the DI’s hometown paper.

RBH

(Hat tip to Valentine Pontifex on Infidels)

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 #44739

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on August 25, 2005 1:38 AM (e)

I wonder if he was one of the precious few on the list that had a relevant degree in some aspect of biology?

Comment #44744

Posted by BBB on August 25, 2005 4:33 AM (e)

Just to get things in perspective, does anybody have a reasonable estimate of how many PhD and/or MD biologists there are in the US, never mind the other disciplines represented in the “DI 400”?

Comment #44745

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 25, 2005 4:37 AM (e)

Is anyone tracking those who leave the DI’s list? I know of one fellow who wishes to remain as incognito as possible, who became very irritated when he discovered that DI was behind a letter he had signed, and that the letter was being represented before a public body nearly 180 degrees differently from the way it was presented to him.

I wish a reporter from a good news organization would undertake to interview the 400 … but absent that, is someone tracking them for science’s sake?

Comment #44746

Posted by Frank J on August 25, 2005 5:24 AM (e)

BBB wrote:

Just to get things in perspective, does anybody have a reasonable estimate of how many PhD and/or MD biologists there are in the US, never mind the other disciplines represented in the “DI 400”?

When the list was at ~300, many months ago, I did an “edit/find” for “biologist” and found 45. Later, counting biochem/biophys, someone said it was ~80. Not sure if all PhDs. Giving the pseudoscientists probably too much benefit of the doubt, I now say ~100. The list is noticeably padded with names of DI personnel. They should be subtracted due to conflict of interest. Then we should ask how many of the remainder object to evolution in general and common descent instead of just the “Darwinism” caricature. That # is likely close to zero. And if they are ever clued in to the antics of the DI, it just might go to zero!

And just yesterday I read that the number of Christian clergy who signed a statement endosing evolution has passed 7000. That’s ~1000 new signatures per month.

Comment #44747

Posted by Burt Humburg on August 25, 2005 5:33 AM (e)

Hehe. I love it.

You know, everytime someone points out that stupid list of 100 of theirs, I have to bring up two points. The first is Project Steve. The second is to point out that the statement they circulated was so wishy-washy that it was the sort of thing I might have even signed. “Natural selection should be scrutinized?” Of course it should be! And it has! Repeatedly and for over 100 years! And it has been magnificently successful.

BCH

Comment #44750

Posted by Sylas on August 25, 2005 5:40 AM (e)

What is known about how the signatures for the DI petition were solicited?

Comment #44752

Posted by Mike on August 25, 2005 6:22 AM (e)

I can’t wait for the first Anthony Flew comment.

Comment #44753

Posted by Schmitt. on August 25, 2005 6:33 AM (e)

I’m beginning to understand why Steve hangs out here for the comedy value. It’s fantastic how every single nuance of a criticism levelled at these chaps is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I’m with Sylas in being interested in how the signatures for this list were garnered. Is anyone in contact with someone from the legitimate fraction of the 400 399?

-Schmitt.

Comment #44765

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 25, 2005 8:14 AM (e)

Joseph O'Donnell wrote:

I wonder if he was one of the precious few on the list that had a relevant degree in some aspect of biology?

According to the article, Dr. Davison is a doctor and a professor of nephrology (kidney and related diseases).

Comment #44769

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 25, 2005 9:08 AM (e)

Jason Spaceman mentioned it yesterday in a comment.

Comment #44770

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 25, 2005 9:13 AM (e)

I’m with Sylas in being interested in how the signatures for this list were garnered.

Probably by word of mouth. I suspect that the signatures that come from my institution were organized though our Christian Faculty Forum, which serves as the center of anti-evolution activity on campus.

Comment #44778

Posted by MrDarwin on August 25, 2005 10:15 AM (e)

I wonder if the Discovery Institute will make any mention of this on their ID “blog” (which, sad to say, does not allow comments).

Comment #44781

Posted by MrDarwin on August 25, 2005 10:32 AM (e)

You know, this would be a great project for somebody with a little bit of time on their hands. It should be easy enough to contact most of the people on this list (maybe starting with the biologists) and just ask them (very politely) why they signed it, and whether they agree with how the Discovery Institute uses this list. Whether they will reply is another matter–but if even a few give answers like Davidson, it will be a serious blow to the credibility of the DI and this list they keep touting.

Comment #44782

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 25, 2005 10:39 AM (e)

If I were to propose a list for people to sign up for, I’d start with the DI statement, and then add the part that would complete it.

Original DI part: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

Addition: “In agreement with Charles Darwin, we feel that evolutionary biology is comprised of more than just natural selection. We believe that a proper understanding of the history and diversity of living things requires knowledge of other mechanisms of evolutionary change, as well as natural selection, including, but not restricted to, genetic drift, endosymbiosis, and evolutionary development. Careful examination of the evidence that documents the evolutionary history of life and the varied mechanisms by which that history unfolded should be encouraged, in the same way that such careful examination has been practiced over the past fourteen decades, resulting in a voluminous scientific literature documenting the patient and assiduous work of legions of biologists, zoologists, botanists, ethologists, physiologists, geneticists, paleontologists, biochemists, taphonomists, and others willing to test their ideas against the empirical evidence. We further assert our skepticism that the re-labeled antievolutionary arguments common to “scientific creationism”, “intelligent design”, “evidence against evolution”, and “teaching the controversy” have any greater validity now than when first careful examination of those claims showed them to be specious, misleading, or entirely uncheckable against empirical evidence. We agree that primary and secondary science education should teach the best scientific knowledge available, and should eschew arguments that are part of the long-established antievolutionary canon.”

I’d sign that in a heartbeat.

Comment #44785

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 25, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

The list was generated originally with letters to scientists who were identified to the Discovery Institute as perhaps being skeptical of Darwin somehow. Letters were then sent to several hundred, perhaps several thousand scientists, asking roughly if they supported serious study of Darwinian evolution and a critical analysis of it. They were given the wording that appears in the advertisements by DI – but as you can see, the wording says nothing about intelligent design, and technically it says nothing against evolution.

For various regional letters, such as those generated in Texas in 2003, DI sent letters generally to scientists in Texas. In at least one case the scientist involved was surprised and shocked to see his name affiliated with the statements of the DI, and he asked that his name be removed (it was). DI typically makes no comments when names are removed.

At one point, when I had a bit more time on my hands I started to contact the 400. I got as far as six when I got the impression NCSE was doing it more methodically. Of the six I contacted and got answers from, five said they have no problems with evolution and that they assumed it IS taught critically. The sixth was a mathematician who thought there might be some probability issues with evolution, and who said he might have a paper later on the topic. I’ve never seen the paper.

None I contacted could suggest any serious difficulty with Darwinian theory, and nonen had ever published any technical paper questioning any part of Darwinian theory.

I have seen varioius figures on how many practicing biologists there are in the U.S., ranging between 75,000 and 80,000 who have advanced degrees and who work in biology. This obviously excludes MDs and many other medical Ph.D.s. Perhaps there figures available from NIH, or the U.S. Statistical Abstract, or NSF?

Comment #44786

Posted by drtomaso on August 25, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

Has anyone considered contacting the 400399 and seeing, if, in light of how the DI has been utilizing the list for PR purposes they wished to ammend/retract their support?

Just a short simple email from someone at a .edu saying: “I found your name on this petition used by this group (with a link) who is using it to say this (with a link). Do you truly support this position?”

I think it might become “the 400399398…”

Comment #44789

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 25, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

Interesting. What about clergy who agree that evolution is good science? See the Beloit, Wisconsin, Daily News:
http://www.beloitdailynews.com/articles/2005/08/23/news/news02.txt

Comment #44790

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 25, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

The number of scientists supporting IDC may be going down, but unfortunately the number of prominent members of the Party of Treason and Torture and Pseudoscience, more formerly known as the Republican party, has gone up as McCain joins the bandwagon.

Comment #44793

Posted by PvM on August 25, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

Good old Seattle Times is quite upfront about Intelligent Design lately

in The philosophy of intelligent design

But intelligent design is not a scientific theory because there is no set of facts that would disprove it. No matter what science says tomorrow, a believer in intelligent design could say, “Yes, that’s the way God did it.”

in Bush endorses teaching “intelligent design” in schools

Scientists acknowledge that evolution doesn’t answer every question about the origins of life, but most consider intelligent design an attempt to inject religion into science courses.

and

“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” John West, associate director of the organization’s Center for Science and Culture, said in a statement.

A significant number minus one it seems…

Comment #44794

Posted by Moses on August 25, 2005 11:41 AM (e)

Où est professeur Dembski? Waterloo est dedans crise!

Comment #44798

Posted by Moses on August 25, 2005 11:56 AM (e)

“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” John West, associate director of the organization’s Center for Science and Culture, said in a statement.

How is 400-1 significant, in the grand scope of things? There must be a million people in the United States that, in the DI’s criteria, could easily be considered scientists.

Comment #44799

Posted by stephen miller on August 25, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

> this would be a great project for somebody with a
> little bit of time on their hands. It should be easy
> enough to contact most of the people on this list

NCSE did something similar.

In 2002, the DI submitted a bibliography representing “dissenting viewpoints” to the Ohio BoE.

NCSE then contacted the authors of the papers listed in the biblio and 26 responded.

http://tinyurl.com/czen7

Here’s a quote from the NCSE web site: “None of the respondents to NCSE’s questionnaire considered their work to provide scientific evidence against evolution.”

Comment #44805

Posted by stephen miller on August 25, 2005 12:17 PM (e)

Martin Poenie (Univ of Texas - a real biologist!) is another one who has vanished from the list.

He was on it back in the days when it was about a 100 names, but is not on the current (updated Jan 2005) list.

Poenie wrote one of the blurbs on the back cover of Dembski’s “No Free Lunch.” He still runs a lab at UT.

Comment #44811

Posted by Jim Wynne on August 25, 2005 12:58 PM (e)

“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” John West, associate director of the organization’s Center for Science and Culture, said in a statement.

Another example of the dishonesty of the DI; evolution explains the diversity of life, not the origins of life, so it’s no wonder that a lot of scientists are skeptical.

Comment #44812

Posted by Skip on August 25, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3416_doubting_darwinism_through_cre_4_8_2002.asp

Comment #44813

Posted by Dan S. on August 25, 2005 1:19 PM (e)

- old NCSE article on the petition and the nature of its wording, etc.

Comment #44816

Posted by Bubba Steve on August 25, 2005 1:44 PM (e)

“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” John West, associate director of the organization’s Center for Science and Culture, said in a statement.

How is 400-1 significant, in the grand scope of things? There must be a million people in the United States that, in the DI’s criteria, could easily be considered scientists.

Exactly! “Four hundred Ph.D. scientists” might sound a lot to the layman, but even limiting ourselves to doctoral level scientists working at universities and colleges in the United States it’s a drop in the ocean. Just think how many universities, medical schools and other professional schools there are in even one medium sized city, and how many biologists alone are employed by these places. If by DI “significant”, the DI means a tiny fraction, probably similar to the number of “Ph.D. scientists” who believe in faith healing, scientology, UFOs, or any other quackery, then yes there is “significant” scientific skepticism about evolution. ;)

Comment #44823

Posted by natural cynic on August 25, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

Moses: “Où est professeur Dembski? Waterloo est dedans crise!”

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of the shoe, the the horse was lost
For want of the horse, the rider was lost
For want of the rider, …… the war was lost

Maybe chaos is taking hold.

Comment #44825

Posted by Conrad R. Jenkins on August 25, 2005 2:47 PM (e)

And it’s [edit]like Bayesian Bouffant (calling Republicans the “party of treason, torture and anti-science”) who make my attempt to get more conservatives and Republicans involved in this debate on the side of evolution much more difficult. (To all the numbskull leftists out there who think that their stereotyping of all Republicans as unscientific is accurate: there are many, many moderate and otherwise science-minded Republicans out there who would be an ally in this fight if it weren’t often portrayed in the media as being partisan, rather than about science vs. non-science.)

I see this all the time on this site, and if [edit] like Bayesian Bouffant would leave their juvenile [edit] political ramblings to themselves, shut the hell up and stick to commenting on science, I wouldn’t constantly hear from conservatives how, as a political issue, supporting evolution can only help the [edit] Democrats. So, Baysean Bouffant, do the scientific community a favor and shut your friggin’ cake-hole [edit].

Comment #44827

Posted by Chet on August 25, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #44828

Posted by Chet on August 25, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

Now THAT would make a great textbook sticker. In fact, if I may have Dr. Elsberry’s permission, I might put it on my classroom wall.

Wesley wrote:

“If I were to propose a list for people to sign up for, I’d start with the DI statement, and then add the part that would complete it.

Original DI part: “We … encouraged.”

Addition: “In agreement with Charles Darwin … should eschew arguments that are part of the long-established antievolutionary canon””

Comment #44829

Posted by PZ Myers on August 25, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

Your anger is misplaced. Perhaps it should be directed at that anti-science leaders of the Republican party, rather than the justifiably disgusted members of the opposition party.

I find it bizarre that you would argue that “science-minded Republicans” might be voting for someone other than Brownback, Inhofe, Bush, Santorum, McCain (and on and on and on) if only we would not portray the party that constantly advances candidates of that stripe as the the anti-science party. Are these “many, many” moderates voting for these imbeciles simply to spite those arrogant Democrats? Should we close our eyes to what the party does and treat the lip service to science by some as representative?

Comment #44830

Posted by Russell on August 25, 2005 3:25 PM (e)

…there are many, many moderate and otherwise science-minded Republicans out there who would be an ally in this fight if it weren’t often portrayed in the media as being partisan

I hope you’re right. With Bush, Frick, McCain, the entire party here in Ohio (so far as I can tell) apparently swearing fealty to the Discovery Institute, I’m trying to remember the last prominent Republican to take a stand against it. I hope there’s been someone since 1999, when the Republican governor of Kansas denounced it.

Comment #44831

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on August 25, 2005 3:46 PM (e)

Chet wrote:

In fact, if I may have Dr. Elsberry’s permission, I might put it on my classroom wall.

Please, be my guest.

Comment #44832

Posted by Dave Carlson on August 25, 2005 3:49 PM (e)

I higly doubt that Arnold, The Guvenator, is going to come out in favor of ID anytime soon. My (potentially erroneous) impression of him is that he is a science supporter, but that might just be based on his support of stem cell research.

Comment #44833

Posted by Russell on August 25, 2005 3:58 PM (e)

I suspect you’re right about The Guvenator. But I’m looking for prominent Republicans who actually take a stand, not just maintain an embarrassed silence (I hope it’s embarrassed, anyway) when their leaders spout nonsense. I’m afraid that ID is becoming the official Party line.

Comment #44835

Posted by Conrad R. Jenkins on August 25, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

PZ,

First, there is no justification for how [edit] Bayesian Bouffant described my party (and, by indirect extension, me.) Period.

Next, as for the politics: what I am saying is that there are many moderate Republicans (not politicians, but people) who could be persuaded to care about this issue, and to contact the politicians in an attempt to persuade them to see that the issue here isn’t whether school should “teach both sides,” or “be fair,” or be “up for open debate,” but about what the science should be.

Because make no mistake, the IDers are kicking science’s [edit] at one thing: portraying this as a fight not about science, but about fairness and giving kids “all the information,” etc., etc. It is shifting, thankfully, but science is playing catch-up here. If the issue is viewed in the manner the ID folks suggest, it is easy to see how anyone, even someone like McCain, can just say, “I’m in favor of being fair” and leave it at that, especially given the fact that ID is popular with the so-called Republican base.

But, to convince Republican politicians to come out asserting that the fight is about science, and not about “fairness” or the other euphamisms the ID side is pushing, it takes moderate Republican voters like me to get involved to show the politicians that it is not strictly a partisan issue.

Frankly, they won’t listen what the Democratic base thinks about the issue (any more than Fat Ted K. cares what I think about his hypocritical NIMBY stance on the Nantucket windmill issue), but they will listen to the voice of moderate Republicans (the right-leaning swing voter demographic, if you will). It is those people who [edit] like Bayesian Bouffant pisses off with partisan talk of “treason” and who make it easy for those same Republican moderates to dismiss the pro-science side as more of the same, tired Democratic BS. That’s what I’m trying to avoid.

Comment #44836

Posted by Dave Carlson on August 25, 2005 4:14 PM (e)

Hmmm…good point. At at time when many prominent Republicans are dropping like flies to the ID-bug, Arnie needs to take a stand for good science. Maybe I’ll write a letter asking him to speak out on the topic…or at least to publically clarify his position.

Comment #44837

Posted by Dave Carlson on August 25, 2005 4:16 PM (e)

To clarify, my comment above was addressed to Russell.

Comment #44838

Posted by roger tang on August 25, 2005 4:18 PM (e)

Mr. Jenkins, I think this points more to the abysmal science education in the US that this discussion takes even a hint of partisan politics. It’s a tragedy that partisan politics even enter in this…but the Republican leadership has to take some responsibility for it for not calling out the unreality of it.

Comment #44840

Posted by darwinfinch on August 25, 2005 4:44 PM (e)

Hey, Conrad! Show that you “moderates” in the “Republican” party can actually influence it toward something that has a whiff of reason before casting your stone of stupid obscenities.

There is no reason to respect anyone who votes for the current mani-infestation of greed, cowardice, and dumb-and-mean group-think wearing the mask of the former Republican party, however sensible and reasonable that person may themselves be. It is exactly like trying to reform the “positive” side of the fascists before WWII.

(Those with reasonable memories may note that no long diatribes against a certain pResident were made. in accordance with a previous vow I had taken.)

Comment #44844

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 25, 2005 5:46 PM (e)

But as of today, DI still lists Davidson as a signer, right there between Holder Daugaard, an agronomist of the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences and W. John Durfee, a prof of pharmacology at Case Western Reserve: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=443

They’re so busy sending out op-eds to newspapers and paying the public relations firm that they haven’t had time to update their website, I suppose.

Interesting: No one from Brigham Young, no one from Notre Dame; no one from Bob Jones, no one from Liberty. I wonder if they didn’t solicit from religious institutions, either pro-evolution or creationist, or if the religious folk saw through the appeal.

Comment #44846

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 25, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

And it’s [edit] like Bayesian Bouffant (calling Republicans the “party of treason, torture and anti-science”) who make my attempt to get more conservatives and Republicans involved in this debate on the side of evolution much more difficult. (To all the numbskull leftists out there who think that their stereotyping of all Republicans as unscientific is accurate: there are many, many moderate and otherwise science-minded Republicans out there who would be an ally in this fight if it weren’t often portrayed in the media as being partisan, rather than about science vs. non-science.)

I see this all the time on this site, and if [edit] like Bayesian Bouffant would leave their juvenile [edit] political ramblings to themselves, shut the hell up and stick to commenting on science, I wouldn’t constantly hear from conservatives how, as a political issue, supporting evolution can only help the [edit] Democrats. So, Baysean Bouffant, do the scientific community a favor and shut your friggin’ cake-hole [edit].

Hmmmmmm, so it’s the fault of the “leftist liberals” in the US (all twenty of them, huh) that the Republicrat Party is dominated by nutters?

Dude, you need to learn the difference between people who are on your side, and people who ain’t. Then attack the ones who ain’t, not the ones who are. It’s, uh, much more effective.

BTW, I’m not a Democan.

Comment #44847

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

[edit]

Comment #44850

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 25, 2005 6:03 PM (e)

First, there is no justification for how [edit] Bayesian Bouffant described my party

Of course there is – there is evidentiary justification.

(and, by indirect extension, me.)

If the shoe doesn’t fit, take it off.

Comment #44859

Posted by Dan S. on August 25, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

“If by DI “significant”, the DI means a tiny fraction, probably similar to the number of “Ph.D. scientists” who believe in faith healing, scientology, UFOs, or any other quackery, then yes there is “significant” scientific skepticism about evolution. ;)”

Indeed.

7. The reason that the public is unaware of the significance and seriousness of the HIV dissenters is because they have been prevented from publishing. For instance, the editors of the leading scientific journals have refused to print even the brief statement by the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis which now has over 400 members (including the present authors).

That’s Kary B. Mullis, Phillip E. Johnson & Charles A. Thomas Jr. in 1994 I always forget that ID isn’t his only thing …

[The DI is kicking our butt by] “portraying this as a fight not about science, but about fairness”

Agreed. We should emphasize that teaching ID - or even the make-believe controvery, the ‘evidence against evolution’ that no actual scientist sees as such - is unfair. It’s unfair to the hardworking scientists, it’s unfair to the teachers*, and above all, it’s unfair to the kids. In terms of employment, understanding, wonder - it’s just unfair. What’s fair is making sure they get the best science education we can provide - and ID, as far as anyone can tell, plays no part in that.

Comment #44861

Posted by PZ Myers on August 25, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

I’m sorry, but you don’t get to blame the Democrats for the sorry state the Republicans are in. The Repubs willingly and irresponsibly rode the Religious Right to power; with that electoral victory comes responsibility for the policies they’ve advocated. They get the blame.

If you want to oppose the anti-scientific bias of the leaders of the party from within, I say good for you, more power to you, keep it up. But you don’t get to tell the members of the opposition party that they are out of line for harshly criticizing the very same policies you also oppose.

Comment #44866

Posted by Conrad R. Jenkins on August 25, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank:

You say I have to know the difference between “people who are on your side, and people who ain’t,” which is fair.

If someone agrees with me on evolution, but is such a jackass about politics that he interferes with my ability to convince someone who doesn’t care about the evolution/ID debate that my view on evolution is correct, then that jackass is not on my side.

I have no quarrel with anyone who may disagree with me politically, but who doesn’t destroy my ability to be an effective advocate for the correct position. But I do have a problem when people interefere with my effectiveness in advocating a position we both agree with, by make mindless attacks like calling the Republicans a party of traitors and torturers or comparing them to fascists. (darwinfinch, N.B.: I have family killed by fascists and I’ve been studying fascism and related political doctrines and parties for 19 years. If you think the modern Republican party is in any way comparable to fascists, you are ignorant in the manner Orwell described.)

Comment #44867

Posted by Conrad R. Jenkins on August 25, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

roger tang,
I agree that the party leadership as well as the rank-and-file have to shape up. And I am trying. But the point I was making (rather poorly, upon reflection, owing to the reasonable rage at the insult,) is that when those who are supposed to be on “my side” (as ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank put it) are making it difficult or impossible for me to effectuate that shake up, then they cease being on my side. And they help the IDers, because in the aggregate they limit my ability to make the very shake up that they, themselves, would prefer.

Comment #44869

Posted by Conrad R. Jenkins on August 25, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

PZ,
I don’t blame anyone for anything, with the exception of blaming those who are making it difficult for me to effectuate the change that they, themselves, would want to have happen.

People like me cannot hope to convince the moderate elements of the party of the importance of defeating the IDers if supporters of evolution regularly and grotesquely insult those very people I am trying to persuade with claims that they are members of a party of treason and torture, or that they are comparable to pre-WW II fascists.

And if you don’t think it’s important for me to be able to do this convincing, then get use to the idea of your kid in an ID class in school, because the IDers are kicking science’s ass all over the PR front, and Republicans control the agenda in Washington. So you tell me, what would be more satisfying, defeating ID or calling Republicans names?

Comment #44873

Posted by Moses on August 25, 2005 8:19 PM (e)

There is no reason to respect anyone who votes for the current mani-infestation of greed, cowardice, and dumb-and-mean group-think wearing the mask of the former Republican party, however sensible and reasonable that person may themselves be. It is exactly like trying to reform the “positive” side of the fascists before WWII.

And the 10% that crossed the party line to vote for Kerry? Or the 10% of Democrats that crossed the party line and voted Bush back in?

What about Republicans, such as myself, that come from families that were Repubicans since Freemont was the canidate? Yet crossed the line and voted for Kerry? And hate the wing-nuts that have ruined our party?

And what about the independents that voted more for Bush than Kerry? Or the Democrats that pushed away Dean (the guy I was campaigning for) and went with that loser Kerry? (Hint to Democrats - Governors do better than Senators due to the political baggage issue - never send a Senator to do a Governor’s work…)

Anyway, this off-topic and serves no one’s interest to get embroiled in a political hate-fest.

Comment #44875

Posted by RBH on August 25, 2005 8:34 PM (e)

Yes, it is off-topic, and not school filter friendly, either. I’ve cleaned it up some, moderating as I do on Infidels. I commend the central tenet of the Infidels User Agreement to your attention: “Don’t be a jerk.”

Once again, I prefer that this blog not hit the tripwires of school nanny programs, and if it takes editing or deleting individual comments or shutting comments off entirely I’ll do it.

That said, I sympathize with Conrad’s point. I’m one of those “moderate” Republicans (though I’m not likely to be one much longer), and insulting people like me is not a tactically smart move.

RBH
Evolution/Creationism Forum Moderator
Moderator at Large
Internet Infidels

Comment #44876

Posted by Mona on August 25, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

PZ Myers writes: Your anger is misplaced. Perhaps it should be directed at that anti-science leaders of the Republican party, rather than the justifiably disgusted members of the opposition party.

Let us, then, look at the left. Paul Gross is a PT contributor, and a scientist who has done excellent work exposing the inanity of ID. I don’t know how he votes, but he (with Norm Levitt) wrote Higher Superstition, an expose of the academic left’s attacks on science – a book which directly gave rise to Alan Sokal’s most excellent hoax in the leftwing journal, Social Text,. Dr. Gross has also had affiliations with the National Association of Scholars, an entity which seeks to counter leftist attacks on reason and free inquiry on campus. (Full disclosure: I have been published by the NAS.)

Left-wing post-modernists on campuses are filling young minds with anti-science bullshit (among other nefarious things). I submit this is at least as big a problem as Bush’s unfortunate utterance.

But what does any of this matter for purposes of PT and fighting ID and Wedge strategy? You on the left who are pro-science likely do not want to be dissed for the sins of the leftist, post-modernist whack jobs in the humanities depts in too many universities. So why not leave the partisan potshots out of the discussion here?

Let us please live in peace, and keep our eyes on the real enemies of science, whether they are left or right, and not bring in divisive issues that can only separate us and weaken our common efforts.

Comment #44877

Posted by Mona on August 25, 2005 8:56 PM (e)

RBH writes: That said, I sympathize with Conrad’s point. I’m one of those “moderate” Republicans (though I’m not likely to be one much longer), and insulting people like me is not a tactically smart move.

I also usually vote GOP, and likely will continue to do so (as a choice between lesser evils). But I do not expect all who are aligned with me on the threat of ID to see things as I do on all things political. One would hope leftists/Dems could extend the same courtesy when we are united in opposing Demski et al.

Comment #44879

Posted by PZ Myers on August 25, 2005 9:19 PM (e)

These horrible “post-modernists” are not leading the Democratic party, are not setting the agenda, and are not even as common as you imply on our university campuses. We are not talking about blaming the Republicans for some comparable fringe element, but the party leadership and their official platforms and the actual agenda they promote. Like I said, you don’t get to blame the Democrats for this one, nor do you get to flap your hands at Ward Churchill or some mythical communists hiding under your bed.

Someone who has voted GOP recently and promises to continue to do so is not a friend of science. If there were a pro-science Republican candidate, I could see it…but no such creature is on the horizon, and the current administration is definitely the worst. The lesser of two evils? That’s insane.

Comment #44882

Posted by steve on August 25, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

I agree that we shouldn’t be insulting ‘republicans’ in general. That said, PZ is right that the postmodernist threat is exaggerated. I hear 10 times as much about postmodernists from the right, than I heard about postmodernism in the dozens of humanities classes I had at NCSU. It’s also correct to say that the republican/conservative leadership–Bush, Santorum, Dobson, etc–are influential and anti-science across the board, from global warming to stem cells to evolution, while the democrat/liberal leadership–kennedy, clinton, reid–are not.

this thread is really off-topic.

Comment #44884

Posted by Russell on August 25, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

Without wishing to fan the flames, I would like to renew my request for anyone who can tell me of a prominent Republican who has disowned ID. It wasn’t a rhetorical question.

Comment #44885

Posted by Mona on August 25, 2005 9:55 PM (e)

Like I said, you don’t get to blame the Democrats for this one, nor do you get to flap your hands at Ward Churchill or some mythical communists hiding under your bed.

Someone who has voted GOP recently and promises to continue to do so is not a friend of science. If there were a pro-science Republican candidate, I could see it…but no such creature is on the horizon, and the current administration is definitely the worst. The lesser of two evils? That’s insane.

One hardly knows how to respond to this, but here I go. You, as a PT contributor, say a GOP voter cannot be a friend of science? Wow. “No GOP need apply to PT.” According to you, if I am reading you correctly.

You also invoke Ward Churchill and “communists under beds” when neither I (nor anyone) in this discussion said anything about or even remotely alluded to them? Nor did I “blame” Democrats for the pro-ID comments of some Republicans.

Well. You do not seem to want non-left or GOP support in the anti-ID effort. Fortunately, I know you do not speak for all of the PT authors, or for the pro-science enclave in general. Let us hope enough others also know these things.

But you also said this: These horrible “post-modernists” are not leading the Democratic party, are not setting the agenda, and are not even as common as you imply on our university campuses.

I did not say they were leading the Democratic Party; I offered that they are a significant problem in the halls that teach our young adults, and that they are anti-science leftists. Far left and far right do eventually meet – they do so, in among other places, the anti-science realm.

Do you, then, repudiate Dr. Gross’s critque of this problem in higher education?

Comment #44886

Posted by Mona on August 25, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

Without wishing to fan the flames, I would like to renew my request for anyone who can tell me of a prominent Republican who has disowned ID. It wasn’t a rhetorical question.

I would not really call him prominent, and actually I think he is not a U.S. citizen; further I almost always disagree with him, but: National Review’s John Derbyshire has smacked down ID from a pro-science POV.

Comment #44887

Posted by PZ Myers on August 25, 2005 10:15 PM (e)

I am not a fan of po-mo; what I repudiate is any claim that it is a problem for any political party. Postmodernists are completely powerless.

You are not reading me correctly. Individuals who have voted Republican can be friends of science. The Republican party, however, is hostile to science, and its current representatives are not people one can vote for and claim to be on the side of science. If you voted for Bush, you are not on my side.

Like I said before, go ahead and get out there and change the party. But don’t even try to pretend that you can support it its current incarnation and simultaneously be honestly defending scientific thought.

Comment #44889

Posted by Mona on August 25, 2005 10:22 PM (e)

PZ Myers writes: The Republican party, however, is hostile to science, and its current representatives are not people one can vote for and claim to be on the side of science. If you voted for Bush, you are not on my side.

So, you are saying that any PT authors/contributors or supporters who voted for Bush are not on the side of science. Am I correct in reading you?

Comment #44893

Posted by Dan S. on August 25, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

“So, you are saying that any PT authors/contributors or supporters who voted for Bush are not on the side of science.”

Whatever exactly PZ is saying, I can see a possibilty or two here. People may have voted for Bush without realizing what it would mean for science, esp the first time. People may have judged that whatever they saw was not sufficiently harmful to outweigh some other possible benefits. And so on. In that case, one could argue, they have a special responsibility - and position - to criticize Bush’s actions in regard to science.

Fascism? Go visit David Neiwert at Orcinus. That’s his beat. He has a whole big essay about “The Rise of Pseudo Fascism” as well as another on “Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis”- look on the right (of the page, I mean, and scroll down some …) I can’t help posting a great big Sinclair Lewis quote from that first one:

“… Wait till Buzz takes charge of us. A real Fascist dictatorship!”

“Nonsense! Nonsense!” snorted Tasbrough. “That couldn’t happen here in America, not possibly! We’re a country of freemen.”

“The answer to that,” suggested Doremus Jessup, “if Mr. Falck will forgive me, is ‘the hell it can’t!’ Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical – yes, or more obsequious! – than America. Look how Huey Long became absolute monarch over Louisiana, and how the Right Honorable Mr. Senator Berzelius Windrip owns HIS State. Listen to Bishop Prang and Father Coughlin on the radio—divine oracles, to millions. Remember how casually most Americans have accepted Tammany grafting and Chicago gangs and the crookedness of so many of President Harding’s appointees? Could Hitler’s bunch, or Windrip’s, be worse? Remember the Kuklux Klan? Remember our war hysteria, when we called sauerkraut ‘Liberty cabbage’ and somebody actually proposed calling German measles ‘Liberty measles’? And wartime censorship of honest papers? Bad as Russia! Remember our kissing the – well, the feet of Billy Sunday, the million-dollar evangelist, and of Aimée McPherson, who swam from the Pacific Ocean clear into the Arizona desert and got away with it? Remember Voliva and Mother Eddy? … Remember our Red scares and our Catholic scares, when all well-informed people knew that the O.G.P.U. were hiding out in Oskaloosa, and the Republicans campaigning against Al Smith told the Carolina mountaineers that if Al won the Pope would illegitimatize their children? Remember Tom Heflin and Tom Dixon? Remember when the hick legislators in certain states, in obedience to William Jennings Bryan, who learned his biology from his pious old grandma, set up shop as scientific experts and made the whole world laugh itself sick by forbidding the teaching of evolution? … Remember the Kentucky night-riders? Remember how trainloads of people have gone to enjoy lynchings? Not happen here? Prohibition – shooting down people just because they MIGHT be transporting liquor – no, that couldn’t happen in AMERICA! Why, where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours! We’re ready to start on a Children’s Crusade – only of adults – right now, and the Right Reverend Abbots Windrip and Prang are all ready to lead it!”

Here, today? No. Never? Well, I hope so …

Comment #44898

Posted by Evil Monkey on August 25, 2005 11:58 PM (e)

Speaking of faculty and postmodernism:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/265

Comment #44900

Posted by PZ Myers on August 26, 2005 12:19 AM (e)

Yes. It is my opinion that PT authors/contributors or supporters who voted for Bush were not on the side of science. You can plead ignorance or you can claim that you held your nose and voted for him on issues other than science, but it doesn’t matter: you cast a vote for creationism, corrupted science, and poor education.

Comment #44906

Posted by Matt Inlay on August 26, 2005 1:27 AM (e)

Getting back to the topic of this thread….

This is awesome news, awesome.

I beg everyone here to at least consider using, in their discourse with creationists, a phrase like “you know, a growing number of scientists are abandoning the ID movement”. Then include a link to this thread

Comment #44907

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 1:40 AM (e)

when we called sauerkraut ‘Liberty cabbage’ and somebody actually proposed calling German measles ‘Liberty measles’

As Santayana said, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
– Hermann Goering

Comment #44908

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 1:44 AM (e)

Without wishing to fan the flames, I would like to renew my request for anyone who can tell me of a prominent Republican who has disowned ID.

George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and John Marburger come to mind.

Comment #44915

Posted by NDT on August 26, 2005 3:24 AM (e)

[quote=Mona]So, you are saying that any PT authors/contributors or supporters who voted for Bush are not on the side of science. Am I correct in reading you?[/quote]

If that’s not what PZ’s saying, it’s certainly what I’m saying. A vote for Bush was a vote for religious fanaticism (and unnecessary war, but that’s way off topic).

Comment #44921

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 4:11 AM (e)

It’s like asking whether someone who does something stupid is stupid, or whether someone who kicks a dog hates dogs. Specific actions don’t determine general capacities or attitudes. Smart people sometimes do stupid things, and people who kick dogs sometimes have reasons or motivations other than hate for dogs.

In other words, it’s a stupid question.

Comment #44923

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 26, 2005 4:51 AM (e)

roger tang,
I agree that the party leadership as well as the rank-and-file have to shape up. And I am trying. But the point I was making (rather poorly, upon reflection, owing to the reasonable rage at the insult,) is that when those who are supposed to be on “my side” (as ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank put it) are making it difficult or impossible for me to effectuate that shake up, then they cease being on my side. And they help the IDers, because in the aggregate they limit my ability to make the very shake up that they, themselves, would prefer.

That’s useful for a while. But we’ve had nearly six years of science bashing. We got some useful increases in funding for science research, but at a price of a group at NIH to study “alternative” medicine.

At some point we have to notice that there really is a line in the sand, and those who dally close to it but fail to come over to the correct side are the opposition, no matter how nice they are or how intelligent they seem to be. What counts is what they’ve done for us lately.

The stakes are real. In 1981 it got real down and dirty on a small, $3 million/year program at HHS to inoculate indigent kids against measles. The Reaganistas argued that the disease was “almost eradicated,” and that private charities would take over the process and the disease would indeed be gone. The scientists argued the disease could be eradicated, but not without government help for the next decade. I remember one guy who was seriously trying to sway the new Republican majority on the Senate Labor Committee – he got into the staff/senator anteroom and cornered a few staffers who couldn’t get out fast enough, and it was my duty to rescue them by listening to him. “I’m serious,” he said. “If you cut this ‘piddling’ program, kids will die.”

You can imagine my horror in the 1990s as I watched a measles epidemic threaten my kids and their friends. 5,000 American kids died. Dallas County alone spent more than $1 million in care for the indigent kids who got measles (several survived).

Yeah, yeah – they got a war to worry about, and they’re “rilly, rilly” science friendly. Heck, they read the NY Times science section and they all know Phil Hilts personally.

But if they won’t vote to teach the real science, if they won’t vote to do the real research, if they believe the budgeteers that measles can be beaten by cutting the funding for the vaccine, they’re no friends of science. Conversion by playing softball with them will leave another 5,000 kids dead somewhere in the next decade. Or maybe 5 million this time.

Comment #44924

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 5:01 AM (e)

[edit]

Ok, then: ts’s Law of anal orifices: The first person in a conversation to call someone an anal orifice is an anal orifice.

Comment #44926

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 5:11 AM (e)

Conrad R. Jenkins wrote:

I wouldn’t constantly hear from conservatives how, as a political issue, supporting evolution can only help the [edit] Democrats.

I pretty much skipped this post originally because of all the [edit] words, but this says something rather amazing about conservatives: that they would rather destroy science education than yield any partisan ground. To the degree that this is true, it validates Bayesian Bouffant’s charge and extends it from the party to its members. Since I don’t spend much time talking to conservatives, I wouldn’t have known this, but I have to take Conrad’s word that this is what he constantly hears from his fellow travelers.

Comment #44927

Posted by Jason Malloy on August 26, 2005 5:13 AM (e)

I tried to leave a post but your box told me it doesn’t accept “questionable content”, which is funny because I can’t identify what was questionable about it, and plenty of Creationists leave some mighty questionable things in these here comment sections.

Comment #44929

Posted by ben on August 26, 2005 6:32 AM (e)

Ed - You mentioned “We got some useful increases in funding for science research, but at a price of a group at NIH to study ‘alternative’ medicine.” Does that mean you think “alternative medicine” should not be researched?

The worst-case scenario for alternative medicine is that it harms people and causes them to waste their time and money. Is there anything that science can do about it, other than to do research that exposes this fact?

Comment #44931

Posted by Russell on August 26, 2005 6:58 AM (e)

a prominent Republican who has disowned ID.

George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and John Marburger come to mind.

a couple of columnists, but no actual politicians, no actual candidates.

(Marburger works for the Bush administration, but he’s actually a registered Democrat.)

Comment #44932

Posted by derek lactin on August 26, 2005 7:03 AM (e)

this is my first posting to this group.
i am a ph.d. in biology and i strongly support evolution.

i was initally fascinated by this thread, but
as i see on evolution/creationism discussion boards repeatedly, it has descended into political RIGHT/LEFT issues and namecalling.

sadly, the original discussion thread has been completely obscured.

this is a favorite creationist tactic: “divert the debate”.

a modicum of decorum please, gentlefolk.

Comment #44939

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 26, 2005 8:01 AM (e)

Matt Inlay wrote:
Getting back to the topic of this thread….

This is awesome news, awesome.

I beg everyone here to at least consider using, in their discourse with creationists, a phrase like “you know, a growing number of scientists are abandoning the ID movement”. Then include a link to this thread

You are absolutely right, Matt. Assuming that, using the loose DI standards, which include anyone with a science/philosophy of science PhD or a medical degree, there are at the very least several hundred thousands “scientists” in the US, and only 400 have signed the DI statement, and 2/400 (including Poenie) have withdrawn their signature, then proportionally many more scientists are leaving the DI list than are joining it.
In fact, it’s a veritable stampede to get out.

Comment #44940

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

a couple of columnists, but no actual politicians, no actual candidates.

You asked about prominent Republicans, which seemed like a fair question; the moved goalposts don’t seem so fair. Candidates – is there an election on? As for politicians – I haven’t paid close attention to this, but what Democratic politicians have disowned ID? Politicians tend to avoid taking stands unless forced to, and the Dems have generally been rather weak as an opposition party.

(Marburger works for the Bush administration, but he’s actually a registered Democrat.)

Oops. Well, I guess I didn’t do so well as a devil’s advocate for the Republicans. I feel a bit like Lot trying to identify 10 righteous persons.

Comment #44941

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 26, 2005 8:09 AM (e)

Incidentally, Poenie might be off the DI 400 list because they, without his permission, had included his name among the “Texas scientists skeptical of darwinism”. He probably had enough of the political maneuvering then.
http://www.texscience.org/files/ut-austin-profs2.htm

Comment #44943

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 8:10 AM (e)

I beg everyone here to at least consider using, in their discourse with creationists, a phrase like “you know, a growing number of scientists are abandoning the ID movement”.

This makes it sound like there was some sizable number of scientists in the ID movement in the first place, and specifically that the 400 signatories have ever been part of the ID movement.

Comment #44964

Posted by RBH on August 26, 2005 10:42 AM (e)

This thread has degenerated too far. I’m closing Comments.

RBH