PZ Myers posted Entry 1660 on November 8, 2005 11:18 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1655

It's a sad day for American science. We've lost Kansas.

Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The 6-4 vote was a victory for "intelligent design" advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools, in violation of the constitutional ban on state establishment of religion.

All six of those who voted for the new standards were Republicans. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted no.

For the next few years, a lot of schoolkids are going to get taught slippery twaddle—instead of learning what scientists actually say about biology, they're going to get the phony pseudoscience of ideologues and dishonest hucksters. And that means the next generation of Kansans are going to be a little less well informed, even more prone to believing the prattlings of liars, and the cycle will keep on going, keep on getting worse.

This, for instance, is baloney.

The new standards say high school students must understand major evolutionary concepts. But they also declare that the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.

The proponents of these changes don't have any idea what the fossil and molecular evidence says, and they are misrepresenting it. There is no credible evidence against common descent and chemical evolution; those concepts are being strengthened, year by year. What does this school board think to gain by teaching students lies?

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

Rewriting the definition of science seems a rather presumptuous thing for a school board to do, I think, especially when their new definition is something contrary to what working scientists and major scientific organizations say is science. As for removing the limitation to natural phenomena, what do they propose to add? Ghosts, intuition, divine revelation, telepathic communications from Venusians? It's simply insane.

The clowns of Kansas don't think so, of course.

"This is a great day for education. This is one of the best things that we can do," said board chairman Steve Abrams. Another board member who voted in favor of the standards, John Bacon, said the move "gets rid of a lot of dogma that's being taught in the classroom today."

John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said changes probably would come to classrooms gradually, with some teachers feeling freer to discuss criticisms of evolution. "These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists," Calvert said.

The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports challenges to Darwinian evolutionary theory, praised the Kansas effort. "Students will learn more about evolution, not less as some Darwinists have falsely claimed," institute spokesman Casey Luskin said in a written statement.

Casey Luskin is a toady for the DI, so what does he know? There is a straightforward body of evidence for evolution to which students should be introduced—evidence that high school curricula barely touch on as it is. Adding a collection of false and confusing claims about what scientists say is only going to diminish the legitimate science that can be taught. And teaching absurdities, such as that science deals with the supernatural, represents a load of garbage that instructors at the college level are going to have to scoop out of the brains of these poor students. At least, that is, out of the diminishing number of students who will pursue genuine science, rather than the dead-end vapor of Intelligent Design creationism.

Goodbye, Kansas. I don't expect to see many of your sons and daughters at my university in coming years, unless the teachers of your state refuse to support the outrageous crapola their school board has foisted on them. I hope the rest of the country moves on, refusing to join you in your stagnant backwater of 18th century hokum.


Since I got a useful list of the pro and con members of the board in the comments, I thought it would be a good idea to bring it up top and spread the word.

Here are the Kansas good guys. When they come up for re-election, vote for them.

Pro-evolution, the heirs of the Enlightenment:
Janet Waugh
Sue Gamble
Carol Rupe
Bill Wagnon

Here are the Kansas bad guys. Vote against them whenever you can.

Pro-intelligent-design, the wretched sucktards of Ignorance:
Kathy Martin
Kenneth Willard
John W. Bacon
Iris Van Meter
Connie Morris
Steve Abrams

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Comment #55938

Posted by Simon Lambert on November 8, 2005 11:27 PM (e)

Welcome to the dark ages Kansas! This is painful reading - I just hope that these clowns come to realize that the rest of the world is either shaking their heads in disbelief or laughing uncontrollably. I’m doing both…

Comment #55940

Posted by JonBuck on November 8, 2005 11:35 PM (e)

If the Dover case is ruled how we think it will, does this mean legal action against the Kansas School Board?

Comment #55942

Posted by Tiax on November 8, 2005 11:39 PM (e)

Janet Waugh, one of the four intelligent members of the board, put it well:

“This is a sad day. We’re becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that.”

Comment #55944

Posted by darthwilliam on November 8, 2005 11:44 PM (e)

I hope those ACLU lawyers are ready to fly from Dover to Kansas! All we need is one brave parent to sue right? This reminds me of an old joke: You know why they call Kansas the “heartland” of America? Because the brain’s not there!

–darth

Comment #55950

Posted by Registered User on November 9, 2005 12:36 AM (e)

Lyin’ Luskin:

Students will learn more about evolution, not less as some Darwinists have falsely claimed

Actually, those students will learn a lot about liars like you, Casey.

Just like those rubes in Dover learned a lot about liars like you.

And Casey, since I know you read this blog, why not pop in here and tell us why you refuse to debate scientists about the nature of “intelligent design” and the rest of your employer’s false propaganda?

What are you afraid of, Casey?

Comment #55953

Posted by Registered User on November 9, 2005 12:43 AM (e)

“These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists,” Calvert said.

Wow. A notorious liar and paid stooge for Christian reconstructionism calls the world’s scientists “fundamentalists” and our lazy media simply passes the microphone around.

It doesn’t get more pathetic. Oh wait, I forgot: they quoted Luskin, too … and some moron named John Bacon …

the move “gets rid of a lot of dogma that’s being taught in the classroom today.”

Bacon added: “This is the first step towards teaching our kids the controversy about disease-spreading fags.”

Comment #55954

Posted by Sebastian on November 9, 2005 1:13 AM (e)

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

‘How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

‘Four.’

‘And if the party says that it is not four but five—then how many?’

‘Four.’

Comment #55957

Posted by chicken not so little on November 9, 2005 1:30 AM (e)

Perhaps you are overestimating the harm that this will do. How much evolution education is there in high school anyway? And only a small portion of those which, if teachers go along with this, will be overexaggerating the problems with the neo-Darwinian consensus. Doesn’t seem like such a really big deal. For all we know, it might encourage more kids to study evolution further, at which point they will be straightened out.

Comment #55958

Posted by Registered User on November 9, 2005 1:42 AM (e)

Perhaps you are overestimating the harm that this will do. How much evolution education is there in high school anyway? And only a small portion of those which, if teachers go along with this, will be overexaggerating the problems with the neo-Darwinian consensus.

Grammar: D+
Accuracy: F
Originality: F

Comment #55959

Posted by k.e. on November 9, 2005 1:48 AM (e)

Just one question for Luskin et al.

“Define the Intelligent Designer?”

LGM,FSM, The infinite dreams of the Hindu God’s, Adams Mother, The Time before Time began etc etc. are all equally likely.

“the board rewrote the definition of “science”

Why stop there?

Why not redefine “country”, “attack”, “cat”, “ship”, “crash”, “space ship”, “water”, ….….….or “PI” yep that will definitely work.

A simple intelligence test is needed for the IDDIots.

H2O is to water as God is to …….
Electron is to Electricity as ID is to ….….

Here’s an easy one
True or False.

Ghost is to Science as Science is “no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.”

This just gets easier and easier.

Comment #55964

Posted by Jacob Stockton on November 9, 2005 2:14 AM (e)

I caught an article about this on CNN.com while in the school library earlier today. I decided to wait until PT posted something about it before I expressed my opinion.

Though it is sad, I have a feeling that the decision will come back to haunt those who voted for it. (look at the relection records for the Dover school board and the way that the results of the K v D case are leaning)

PS
Anyway, this post is not a comment as much as a reanouncment of my presence:

About a year and a half ago, I started posting at PT. I have not posted anything in about a year. However, even though I left PT, I have still followed the ID movement and the ID controversy. By next semester I will graduate with my hard-earned BS in biology. I have a strong interest in evolution and next semester my college (Mesa State in Grand Junction CO) will FINALLY be offering the evolution course (yes! so I can learn all about this subject I love o-so-well). Unlike the last time I was posting on PT, this time I will not leave my email address.(if I can)(the fact that I received so much $*@%^ SPAM from leaving it last time that I had to change it to make the #($&($@ spam stop should serve as a reminder)

Anyway, for those who care, I’m going to start posting again (I just hope that I don’t leave my actual email address behind.)

Comment #55966

Posted by Andy on November 9, 2005 2:36 AM (e)

Wait, didn’t the *insert acronyms that I can’t remember here* pull copyright for those standards? Don’t they have a lot of work to do before they can actually use them?

Comment #55968

Posted by nikefilareebok on November 9, 2005 3:12 AM (e)

One bright side to this. Fellow pseudoscientist Richard C. Hoagland has announced that he is happy about this decision and will be seeing how serious the Kansas board is by trying to introduce his bizarre theory that some intelligent designer is responsible for life on Earth, the life that existed on Mars and the OBVIOUSLY intelligently designed moons of Saturn. Hoagland is probably too cranky even for Kansans.

Comment #55970

Posted by snaxalotl on November 9, 2005 3:57 AM (e)

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

I think team rational-goodguys kicks an own goal when it insists science is natural explanations of natural phenomena. You only NEED to insist that science is inference from natural phenomena, because anything which is demonstrated by natural evidence IS part of the natural world … that’s what ALL things in our world of evidence based nature are. So, with a weaker assertion you still infer exactly the same phenomena, and additionally many of the most mindless creationists are happy to accept that science only takes us “where the evidence leads us”. Of course they tend to be hopelessly mistaken about how well the evidence supports their beliefs, but that’s not really an important issue

Comment #55973

Posted by Ginger Yellow on November 9, 2005 5:19 AM (e)

Is there a link to the new standards anywhere?

Comment #55978

Posted by Daryl Cobranchi on November 9, 2005 6:19 AM (e)

Cheer up. Kids who are taught the (non-existent) controversy see their “test scores soar” (according to this IDist).

“I hope to help the students think,” he said of his presentations to schools. “I’d like them to have the options and think about it. When students are presented options, their science scores soar.”

Comment #55983

Posted by thefinn on November 9, 2005 6:50 AM (e)

What happens if a Kansas science teacher explains to his/her students that this redefinition of science is baloney? Might we see another “monkey trial”?

Comment #55996

Posted by Dr. Kate on November 9, 2005 8:15 AM (e)

I particularly liked the part of “getting rid of dogma in the science classes.”

Let’s be clear: according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th edition, dogma is:

1) a doctrine; tenet; belief
2) doctrines, tenets, or beliefs, collectively
3) a positive, arrogant assertion of opinion
4) (Eccles.) a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed
(emphasis mine)

Note the prevailing use of opinion and belief in here. Dogma refers to religion. Science is not a religion. It doesn’t depend on faith, belief, opinion, or “authoritative affirmation” in order to exist. When we do science, we observe the natural world and attempt to explain those observations with explanations. It doesn’t matter whether 99% of the population believes that massive objects fall faster than less massive ones – they still fall at the same rate!!!!!

Comment #55997

Posted by Dr. Kate on November 9, 2005 8:15 AM (e)

I particularly liked the part of “getting rid of dogma in the science classes.”

Let’s be clear: according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th edition, dogma is:

1) a doctrine; tenet; belief
2) doctrines, tenets, or beliefs, collectively
3) a positive, arrogant assertion of opinion
4) (Eccles.) a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed
(emphasis mine)

Note the prevailing use of opinion and belief in here. Dogma refers to religion. Science is not a religion. It doesn’t depend on faith, belief, opinion, or “authoritative affirmation” in order to exist. When we do science, we observe the natural world and attempt to explain those observations with explanations. It doesn’t matter whether 99% of the population believes that massive objects fall faster than less massive ones – they still fall at the same rate!!!!!

Comment #55998

Posted by dr.d. on November 9, 2005 8:16 AM (e)

only two left to go:

war is peace
freedom is slavery

er, make that just one…

Comment #56012

Posted by puterdude on November 9, 2005 8:55 AM (e)

I do not expect any better from the folk in Kansas for one very mundane reason: they are quite happy with the sale of 3% beer in that state. How can you expect people who do that to beer to NOT think ID is good for them and their kids?

Comment #56014

Posted by Dr. Kate on November 9, 2005 9:14 AM (e)

Sorry about the double comment…browser issues.

Comment #56017

Posted by Brian Axsmith on November 9, 2005 9:27 AM (e)

This is a sad day for me as someone who earned a PhD in Biology from the University of Kansas. This institution has one of the finest programs in evolutionary biology in the world and some of the best research in the field (especially systematics and paleontology) takes place in the Natural History Museum there. It is shame that the reputation of such a great program will probably suffer (some say it has already) as a result of the actions of the Board of Education.

Comment #56021

Posted by Russell on November 9, 2005 9:33 AM (e)

Were there any school board elections, by chance, in Kansas yesterday?

Comment #56024

Posted by Matt McIrvin on November 9, 2005 10:02 AM (e)

Doesn’t something like this happen there every few years or so? This time around they at least seem to be endorsing the Intelligent Design nonsense instead of young-earth creationism. It’s still stupid but it’s Stupid Lite.

I’m not sure how this round is the final irrevocable loss of Kansas; either we lost it a long time ago or there’s hope for more reversals in the future.

Comment #56027

Posted by A A Jackson on November 9, 2005 10:10 AM (e)

1)I don’t know Kansas law, but from what I have read local school districts in Kansas don’t have to follow the State Board guidelines.
In fact enlightened districts will ignore such stupidity since they will have good secondary school students headed for pre med and biology major programs. I don’t see how it can be enforced if teachers refuse the standards.

2)What keeps parents in a school district from suing the board in the manner of the Dover case in Penn?

Comment #56029

Posted by A A Jackson on November 9, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

“In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.”

How the world would such a definition be enforced? There will not be a single science teacher in Kansas that will pay any attention to such a statement!

Comment #56034

Posted by David Heddle on November 9, 2005 10:35 AM (e)

W’v lst Knss…

h brthr. ppl snd dmb mst f th tm, bt nvr qt s mch s whn g nt r chckn-lttl md. f D s mntnd n scnc clss, vn f t s “tght”, t wll hv n ffct. D thnk ths kds r stpd? ( thnk d.) D thnk th r nwr f th cntrvrs? (pprntl d.) D thnk ths wh r ntrstd n scnc cnnt fnd spplmntl nfrmtn th nd? D thnk th cnnt dscrn?

Wll, lt’s s f th Knss scrs n scnc fll blw ths f, fr xmpl, th frvntl sclr Wshngtn DC schl sstm.

ctll hp wn ll r crt css. vn hp tht Gstp frm th Ntnl Cntr fr Scnc “s lng s t’s nt phscs r strnm r csmlg r chmstr—ths w dn’t cr bt—n fct w cr mr bt rlgn thn ths scncs” >dctn> grds vr clssrm t mk sr tht tchrs d nt str frm strct scnc-nl dscssns. Thn, whn .S. scrs n scnc stll lg bhnd, wht wll blm t n? M gss: prvt rlgn nstrctn n th hm. t’ll b tht tp f “chld-bs” tht gts blmd.

[Digging up Zombie Hitler and calling the NCSE the “Gestapo” will get you edited every time, Heddle. Go whimper elsewhere.]

Comment #56035

Posted by Wierd_w on November 9, 2005 10:42 AM (e)

Hmmm.. Ok. This is a comment, so I will just leave my 0.02$ here.
(oh, I am also from Kansas BTW, and resent some of the above comments.)

1) Chemical evolution is not ‘impossible’… It is just HIGHLY HIGHLY improbable. There were experiments involving high heat, high pressure to artificially create polypeptide chains (Forgive me for not citing a research note, please), and in fact, DID succeed– However, the conditions of the experiment required high concentrations of specific amino acids, which even in today’s bio-active world are not normally found naturally. Additionally, the peptides generated were not the correct ones for forming complex life-precursor interactions.

The thesis of the experiment was not to prove that chemical evolution ‘did’ occur, as much as to show that it ‘could have’ occurred, under the meteorite impacts of the early solar system. (High heat, high pressure impacts on a primordial earth, presumably laced with amino acids in water from organic compound rich cosmic dust collection).

The result of the experiment shows that it is indeed ‘possible’, however, the variables involved (temperature, pressure, amino acids present, concentration, etc, etc…) cannot be examined, and therefore cannot be tested conclusively. Further, even under controlled conditions, the resulting polypeptides highly favored non-life precursors, over those that are suggested as having done so. This could say that our understanding of chemical evolution is flawed from lack of evidence on which to experiment– but I personally believe that bio-chemists know what they are talking about, and are correct in their assertions about which polypeptides are essential, and which ones are not.

Given the Bias here, I would say that the statistical odds of chemical evolution are not in the evolutionist’s favor. (Kinda like how astrophysicists point out why there is so much more matter in the universe than antimatter…) It is possible that earth is a VERY VERY rare exception… But that still doesn’t solve the improbability issue.

As you might imagine, I am an advocate of the Occam’s Razor principle.

Then, once you have the issue initial formation improbability, you have random re conformation/interaction improbability, and the issue spirals hopelessly outside of the scope of logical reason. (Though any finite improbability is still a logical possibility.)

Remember folks— Just because chemical evolution is the best that science has to offer at the moment, does not necessarily make it “The correct Answer” ™.

As for the implications of (Ahem) “Intelligent Design”, If you remove any religious implications (Which is the only way I could even begin to see it taught in a school as a possible resolution to this question), It could just as easily have the role of “God” being an alien from an alternative universe (A theoretical possibility), as that of some “divine Creator”, since all it takes to be quote “Intelligent design”, is for some intelligence (Divine or otherwise) to concoct a plan to seed a suitable planet with microbes–

Or in the case of direct universal cosmology– for some intelligence in an alternate universe to be conducting advanced quantum mechanical research, and as a side effect of that research, ‘accidentally’ create a new universe (Which would have been impossible for them to tell– For all we know, our own research in that Field may have generated a universe or two, since parallel universes are purely hypothetical already.) The only reason I even suggest such a thing here, is because of the EXTREME improbability of chemical precursor evolution… So, I thought, why not give another, highly improbable scenario. :D

Currently, the only thing the school system REALLY should teach as “The correct answer” ™, is this:

“We do not know. However, our current understanding of life suggests (insert tirade about chemical evolution, and subsequent bio-evolution here)– Unfortunately, it appears that such a series of events is highly improbable. Additionally, there are proponents that (Insert tirade about intelligent design, covering *ALL* aspects, not just religious), but there is no way to prove or deny such a claim. Both contributors to this argument believe that their direction of thinking is the correct and proper one, however, since it is a topic of debate, we can teach neither as a fact, since neither has been summarily proven. Evolution has the current bid for correctness however, in that it has shown evidence to the effect that it is in fact “possible”, where as the intangible speculative nature of Intelligent Design has yet to be able to do.”

This answer, however, would probably not sit well with the Creationist (Christian Science) peoples, despite the fact that the bible does not rule out evolution. There are many such ‘scientists’ who feel the earth is only some 6000 years old, as per the estimated lifespans of early biblical figures– However, the truth of the matter here is that the bible itself does not give an actual age, but does give a very shattering hint here and there that the 6000 year figure given by such dogmatists is in fact false. ;) (As per geological record, and radio carbon date analysis.) This is, in my opinion, just another incarnation of “Copernicus VS Dogma”, just instead of a heliocentric universe, we have a several billion year old planet, VS a 6000 year old one. :P

As for Evolution Proper, VS “Creationism”, the bible is not descript in the way in which ‘god’ “Created” these life forms. Since the general theme of the bible is that god is both “All knowing” and “Mysterious” (to prove his own grandeur), I personally think it more in line with the character of this divinity to USE evolution as the method of his creation (What better way to show off your powers as a god, than to pull a veritable rabbit out of his hat, in causing the above HORRIBLY improbable chemical evolution scenario as the means to his end? LOL!). This given that the biblical time frame (6 “Days”) is symbolic, and not actual time. (Later passages in the old testament give “Days for years” etc.. the concept of “Days” in the bible is often used very symbolically, therefore citations of this short a time frame is not grounds for creationists to throw out evolution as a means by which their divinity created life)

Now, the real kicker against the Creationist, comes from theological examination of the bible. Early in genesis, it mentions the expulsion of Cain–


(Genesis 4)
16And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

17And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Hold it a moment— We went straight from First and second born sons to having a wife, and a whole city pop up in just a short time! Where did all those people come from, and where would Cain find a wife in the land of Nod!?

Some christian apologists say that Cain married one of his sisters, but the bible clearly says nothing of the sort here— It instead raises an interesting possibility, considering a few things:

Early man’s accepted evolutionary ancestors were not into agriculture per se- They were hunter gatherer tribes.

and that god created ‘Adam’ because “There was no man to till the fields” (IE, to practice agriculture) (Genesis 2, 4-7)

Taken together, the modern creationist could reconcile human evolution (and the lack of fossil evidence for “Missing link” Man (For lack of better term) with these verses and come up with the following adapted creation idea:

God had created other kinds of man (Genesis 1 26-31) that did not practice agriculture (Evolution anyone?), But decided after his day of rest, that he had missed making a man that practices agriculture (genesis 2, 4-7). Cain screwed the pooch, and was outcast for killing his brother, moved to “Nod”, married one of these other early humanoids, and settled over there– causing a city to be built.

This holds closer to biblical scripture than suggesting that Cain married his sister, and also explains why there would be people in Nod (and possibly why different regions already had names. Hmmm…)

Of course, I have yet to see a creationist come up with such a creative idea… They often as not being too deeply grounded in LITERAL dark-age dogma to even convince themselves to look acceptably at Evolution as a possibility to begin with.

But hope springs forth eternal, no? At least it would be a start….

Comment #56036

Posted by rebo on November 9, 2005 10:58 AM (e)

The calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule formed by chance. However, biochemistry is not chance, making the calculated odds meaningless. Biochemistry produces complex products, and the products themselves interact in complex ways. For example, complex organic molecules are observed to form in the conditions that exist in space, and it is possible that they played a role in the formation of the first life .

The calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule must take one certain form. However, there are innumerable possible proteins that promote biological activity. Any calculation of odds must take into account all possible molecules (not just proteins) that might function to promote life.

The calculation of odds assumes the creation of life in its present form. The first life would have been very much simpler.

The calculation of odds ignores the fact that innumerable trials would have been occurring simultaneously.

Conditions today are different from conditions in the past in two important ways: First, there was little or no molecular oxygen in the atmosphere or oceans when life first appeared. Free oxygen is reactive and would likely have interfered with the formation of complex organic molecules. More importantly, there was no life around before life appeared. The life that is around today would scavenge and eat any complex molecules before they could turn into anything approaching new life.

Retarded Kansans

Comment #56039

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

The problem my dear friend, is that you DO have a random collection when the planet first forms. Thus, statistical odds DO have bearing.

Sheesh.

Comment #56040

Posted by Chris Lintott on November 9, 2005 11:12 AM (e)

As an interested astronomer, albeit from across the Pond, can anyone tell me what the new Kansas standards say about cosmology? I believe that both cosmology and plate tectonics were dropped back in 1999 along with some of the evolutionary material. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Comment #56041

Posted by Keith Douglas on November 9, 2005 11:14 AM (e)

This is indeed bad news. What happens now?

Comment #56042

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

As you might imagine, I am an advocate of the Occam’s Razor principle.

Then you understand that, not only are “intelligence” and “design” additional entities, but they would require numerous other additional entities to explain them. By Occam’s Razor, theories that do not invoke these entities are more likely to be correct.

The problem my dear friend, is that you DO have a random collection when the planet first forms. Thus, statistical odds DO have bearing.

Sheesh.

Sheesh indeed, as you have failed to address any of the valid points that rebo raised. A billion years passed between the time the planet formed and the first cells appeared. An unlikely but not impossible event is sure to occur if enough trials occur, so small absolute magnitudes of probabilities are not, per se, relevant.

Comment #56045

Posted by k.e. on November 9, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

Plus “time” and an awful lot of it.
My favorite candidate for ID is the time before time began.

Comment #56047

Posted by Schmitt. on November 9, 2005 11:29 AM (e)

As you might imagine, I am an advocate of the Occam’s Razor principle.

Parsimony suggests that out of a range of explanations we take the one which most closely fits the evidence (ie., has fewer added hypotheses,) it does not suggest we reject improbable arguments out of hand. ‘We don’t know but have some rather excellent indicators of what may have happened’ is an acceptable way to broach the origins of life. ‘Intelligent Design is in any way scientific’ is not.

-Schmitt.

Comment #56051

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 9, 2005 11:35 AM (e)

weird wrote:

Hmmm.. Ok. This is a comment, so I will just leave my 0.02$ here.
(oh, I am also from Kansas BTW, and resent some of the above comments.)

The Kansas School board deserves the abuse it’s receiving.

1) Chemical evolution is not ‘impossible’… It is just HIGHLY HIGHLY improbable.

Presumably you’re referring to abiogenesis, rather than evolution - which makes no mention of the origin of the replicators; and specifically the Miller experiments. What they demonstrated, and quite clearly, is that biological precursors can be generated chemically.

There were experiments involving high heat, high pressure to artificially create polypeptide chains (Forgive me for not citing a research note, please), and in fact, DID succeed— However, the conditions of the experiment required high concentrations of specific amino acids, which even in today’s bio-active world are not normally found naturally. Additionally, the peptides generated were not the correct ones for forming complex life-precursor interactions.

The thesis of the experiment was not to prove that chemical evolution ‘did’ occur, as much as to show that it ‘could have’ occurred, under the meteorite impacts of the early solar system. (High heat, high pressure impacts on a primordial earth, presumably laced with amino acids in water from organic compound rich cosmic dust collection).

And it did, as you correctly note.

The result of the experiment shows that it is indeed ‘possible’, however, the variables involved (temperature, pressure, amino acids present, concentration, etc, etc…) cannot be examined, and therefore cannot be tested conclusively. Further, even under controlled conditions, the resulting polypeptides highly favored non-life precursors, over those that are suggested as having done so. This could say that our understanding of chemical evolution is flawed from lack of evidence on which to experiment— but I personally believe that bio-chemists know what they are talking about, and are correct in their assertions about which polypeptides are essential, and which ones are not.

Given the Bias here, I would say that the statistical odds of chemical evolution are not in the evolutionist’s favor. (Kinda like how astrophysicists point out why there is so much more matter in the universe than antimatter…) It is possible that earth is a VERY VERY rare exception… But that still doesn’t solve the improbability issue.

There is no improbability issue. That’s a simple fallacy of post-hoc reasoning. Given that our current life-forms exist, the probability that conditions favorable for their generation is… 1. Just 1.

As you might imagine, I am an advocate of the Occam’s Razor principle.

You’ve yet to actually show that. Your argument appears to be based on some faulty premises of logic.

Then, once you have the issue initial formation improbability, you have random re conformation/interaction improbability, and the issue spirals hopelessly outside of the scope of logical reason. (Though any finite improbability is still a logical possibility.)

Lovely. Just another argument from incredulity. Complexity can (and almost invariably does arise from imperfect replication and selection. The Avida experiments (and much of the fiscal work that RBH does) demonstrates that quite clearly.

Remember folks—- Just because chemical evolution is the best that science has to offer at the moment, does not necessarily make it “The correct Answer” ™.

Coals to Newcastle, I’m afraid.

As for the implications of (Ahem) “Intelligent Design”, If you remove any religious implications (Which is the only way I could even begin to see it taught in a school as a possible resolution to this question), It could just as easily have the role of “God” being an alien from an alternative universe (A theoretical possibility), as that of some “divine Creator”, since all it takes to be quote “Intelligent design”, is for some intelligence (Divine or otherwise) to concoct a plan to seed a suitable planet with microbes—

The Kansas school board is not arguing for the inclusion of atheistic ID. They are arguing on the basis of religion. Deal with that, please.

Or in the case of direct universal cosmology— for some intelligence in an alternate universe to be conducting advanced quantum mechanical research, and as a side effect of that research, ‘accidentally’ create a new universe (Which would have been impossible for them to tell— For all we know, our own research in that Field may have generated a universe or two, since parallel universes are purely hypothetical already.) The only reason I even suggest such a thing here, is because of the EXTREME improbability of chemical precursor evolution… So, I thought, why not give another, highly improbable scenario. :D

Your understanding of the amount of research done in abiogenesis needs updating. You might consult the literature; a great deal of work has been done since Urey Miller.

Currently, the only thing the school system REALLY should teach as “The correct answer” ™, is this:

“We do not know. However, our current understanding of life suggests (insert tirade about chemical evolution, and subsequent bio-evolution here)— Unfortunately, it appears that such a series of events is highly improbable. Additionally, there are proponents that (Insert tirade about intelligent design, covering *ALL* aspects, not just religious), but there is no way to prove or deny such a claim. Both contributors to this argument believe that their direction of thinking is the correct and proper one, however, since it is a topic of debate, we can teach neither as a fact, since neither has been summarily proven. Evolution has the current bid for correctness however, in that it has shown evidence to the effect that it is in fact “possible”, where as the intangible speculative nature of Intelligent Design has yet to be able to do.”

This is, I regret to state, incorrect. You are using faulty premises about probability; you fail to include the evidence of evolution, and you’re according ID more space that is needed. Which is zero. It has no ‘science’ behind it - to mention it in this context is needless confusion.

This answer, however, would probably not sit well with the Creationist (Christian Science) peoples, despite the fact that the bible does not rule out evolution. There are many such ‘scientists’ who feel the earth is only some 6000 years old, as per the estimated lifespans of early biblical figures— However, the truth of the matter here is that the bible itself does not give an actual age, but does give a very shattering hint here and there that the 6000 year figure given by such dogmatists is in fact false. ;) (As per geological record, and radio carbon date analysis.)

Gee, I hadn’t noticed that the Bible addressed the geological record or carbon-dating. Especially since carbon-dating is useless for establishing the age of the earth.

This is, in my opinion, just another incarnation of “Copernicus VS Dogma”, just instead of a heliocentric universe, we have a several billion year old planet, VS a 6000 year old one. :P

Factually incorrect.

As for Evolution Proper, VS “Creationism”, the bible is not descript in the way in which ‘god’ “Created” these life forms. Since the general theme of the bible is that god is both “All knowing” and “Mysterious” (to prove his own grandeur), I personally think it more in line with the character of this divinity to USE evolution as the method of his creation (What better way to show off your powers as a god, than to pull a veritable rabbit out of his hat, in causing the above HORRIBLY improbable chemical evolution scenario as the means to his end? LOL!). This given that the biblical time frame (6 “Days”) is symbolic, and not actual time. (Later passages in the old testament give “Days for years” etc.. the concept of “Days” in the bible is often used very symbolically, therefore citations of this short a time frame is not grounds for creationists to throw out evolution as a means by which their divinity created life)

Theistic evolution is always possible. Of course, the various DI folks would disagree with you….

Now, the real kicker against the Creationist, comes from theological examination of the bible. Early in genesis, it mentions the expulsion of Cain—

(Genesis 4)
16And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

17And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Hold it a moment—- We went straight from First and second born sons to having a wife, and a whole city pop up in just a short time! Where did all those people come from, and where would Cain find a wife in the land of Nod!?

Apparently you’re not up on Biblical exegesis; the people of Nod are various nieces and nephews of Cain.

Some christian apologists say that Cain married one of his sisters, but the bible clearly says nothing of the sort here—- It instead raises an interesting possibility, considering a few things:

And the Bible doesn’t say he didn’t. You should try reading it more closely.

Early man’s accepted evolutionary ancestors were not into agriculture per se- They were hunter gatherer tribes.

and that god created ‘Adam’ because “There was no man to till the fields” (IE, to practice agriculture) (Genesis 2, 4-7)

Taken together, the modern creationist could reconcile human evolution (and the lack of fossil evidence for “Missing link” Man (For lack of better term) with these verses and come up with the following adapted creation idea:

REPEAT AFTER ME: THERE IS NO MISSING LINK. NONE. ZILCH. ZIP.

Please - you need to learn a great deal more about both evolution and the Bible before this post will be convincing.

Comment #56052

Posted by Wierd_w on November 9, 2005 11:35 AM (e)

Sheesh indeed, as you have failed to address any of the valid points that rebo raised. A billion years passed between the time the planet formed and the first cells appeared. An unlikely but not impossible event is sure to occur if enough trials occur, so small absolute magnitudes of probabilities are not, per se, relevant.

This is like the argument that chaos theorists have, that you can place a broken watch into a burlap bag, and shake it up– and eventually, the watch will assemble itself, no?

Considering that you have multiple repeats of unsuccessful trials (repeated outcomes that arent successful), it would take a long time indeed….….…….

Are you sure that the time postulated by geologists is enough?

In the above post I said it was highly improbable, but also qualified that improbablity. Apparently you werent reading the whole comment…. naughty naughty you. :P

Then, once you have the issue initial formation improbability, you have random re conformation/interaction improbability, and the issue spirals hopelessly outside of the scope of logical reason. (Though any finite improbability is still a logical possibility.)

Comment #56054

Posted by Wierd_w on November 9, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

Sheesh indeed, as you have failed to address any of the valid points that rebo raised. A billion years passed between the time the planet formed and the first cells appeared. An unlikely but not impossible event is sure to occur if enough trials occur, so small absolute magnitudes of probabilities are not, per se, relevant.

This is like the argument that chaos theorists have, that you can place a broken watch into a burlap bag, and shake it up– and eventually, the watch will assemble itself, no?

Considering that you have multiple repeats of unsuccessful trials (repeated outcomes that arent successful), it would take a long time indeed….….…….

Are you sure that the time postulated by geologists is enough?

In the above post I said it was highly improbable, but also qualified that improbablity. Apparently you werent reading the whole comment…. naughty naughty you. :P

Then, once you have the issue initial formation improbability, you have random re conformation/interaction improbability, and the issue spirals hopelessly outside of the scope of logical reason. (Though any finite improbability is still a logical possibility.)

(Stupid browser.. I hope this isnt a double post…)

Comment #56055

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 9, 2005 11:39 AM (e)

WW wrote:

This is like the argument that chaos theorists have, that you can place a broken watch into a burlap bag, and shake it up— and eventually, the watch will assemble itself, no?

First, this is not an argument that chaos theorists have. This is an argument that ignorant creationists have. Second, that’s not what the abiogenesis experiments are demonstrating.

Considering that you have multiple repeats of unsuccessful trials (repeated outcomes that arent successful), it would take a long time indeed……………

What’s a few hundred million years and trillions of experiments between friends?

Are you sure that the time postulated by geologists is enough?

The odds are good.

In the above post I said it was highly improbable, but also qualified that improbablity. Apparently you werent reading the whole comment…. naughty naughty you. :P

No, you didn’t qualify it at all. You expressed your incredulity. That’s not a mathematical qualification. That’s opinion. And based on some of your other comments, I suspect that it’s not a well-formed opinion.

Comment #56057

Posted by Wierd_w on November 9, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

*sigh*

There is no improbability issue. That’s a simple fallacy of post-hoc reasoning. Given that our current life-forms exist, the probability that conditions favorable for their generation is… 1. Just 1.

So, you reject other yet undiscernable solutions? sounds like a logical fallacy you have yourself my friend.

My statement that I find meteor impact driven precursor development to be highly improbable, doesnt mean that I dont think some form of precursor development occured. I just think that this form of development is unlikely to have caused our genesis.

:P

Comment #56059

Posted by roger tang on November 9, 2005 11:45 AM (e)

This is like the argument that chaos theorists have, that you can place a broken watch into a burlap bag, and shake it up— and eventually, the watch will assemble itself, no?

Only if you’re totally ignorant of the biochemistry involved.

Try again.

Comment #56060

Posted by Bob O'H on November 9, 2005 11:54 AM (e)

It’s a sad day for American science. We’ve lost Kansas.

Try looking behind the sofa. That’s where I always misplace things.

One thing makes me curious: what are the legal responsibilities of the Kansas board? Can they simply be charged with insisting on standards that teach falsehoods to students?

Bob

Comment #56063

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

Okie Dokie– We want a mathematical explanation of why I feel this is improbable- Ok. Sure– I’ll bite, but it will take me awhile to write up.

I will have to do some exhaustive digging to get you a quantified (Perhaps you misunderstood the difference between quantify (To number, or list components of) and qualify (To give merit to)?) report about the improbability of the scenario you depict.

(You realize this is the kind of stuff that people get grant money to do, right?)

Comment #56065

Posted by evopeach on November 9, 2005 11:59 AM (e)

Nanny Nanny Boo Boo !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go Jayhawks!!!!!!!!!!!! The first of many defeats for the evos because a lie can’t live forever!!!

I just love the prospects when we get the evo egomaniacs in our new supreme court.

Now go reread the Shapiro, Yockey, Hubble, Markowitz, Denton, Behe, etc etc etc calculations again solve the binomial math again and voilla!!! It exceeds the universsally agreed Limit Of Probability as in 10**-130 … impossible in other words.

A sad day for the pseudo wireheads.. LOL

Kissy Kissy
Evopeach

Comment #56067

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

Only if you’re totally ignorant of the biochemistry involved.

Try again.

are you a biochemist? Are you familliar with organic isomers, inverted protiens, and the like? Those are all potential outcomes of such random fusions of stellar amino acid isomers….

And you realize, that only 20 amino acids are useful for current life….…..

Comment #56068

Posted by Ben on November 9, 2005 12:05 PM (e)

I posted this in response to DaveScot’s latest pearl of wisdom over at UncommonDescent. Although I loathe the place and DS equally, I couldn’t let this one slide:

“I’d like to see the ACLU go up against the State of Kansas but I doubt they will. That would be a level playing field and the last thing the anti-religion zealots want is a level playing field - the cowards. “

Coming from someone who posts on a blog where any opposing views are routinely censored (I guess “hearing both sides of the argument” only works one way with William “I lie for JESUS!” Dembski), not to mention the fact that ID has to resort to getting school boards to approve it being taught because it can’t possibly compete on the LEVEL PLAYING FIELD of peer reviewed scientific journals, or the fact that you glibly lie as a matter of routine about ID not being creationism yet complain about atheistic/anti-religious zealot scientists, you’re the true coward here, and a repellent liar to boot.

Comment #56070

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 12:09 PM (e)

So, you reject other yet undiscernable solutions? sounds like a logical fallacy you have yourself my friend.

For someone who claims to believe in Occam’s Razor, you seem to have no grasp of it, nor do you have any grasp of logical fallacies.

Considering that you have multiple repeats of unsuccessful trials (repeated outcomes that arent successful), it would take a long time indeed……………

Yeah, perhaps as much as a billion years.

Are you sure that the time postulated by geologists is enough?

No, nor do I have to be. Here are some clues: empirical epistemology. Occam’s Razor.

In the above post I said it was highly improbable, but also qualified that improbablity. Apparently you werent reading the whole comment…. naughty naughty you.

Yeah, you qualified it as “HIGHLY HIGHLY improbable”.

If it walks and talks like a troll …

Comment #56071

Posted by les on November 9, 2005 12:14 PM (e)

As a disappointed, but not surprised, Kansan, I can address a couple of the questions raised above. The state Bd. of Ed. sets standards, defining what constitutes “good” education. Schools don’t have to follow the standards–there’s no “enforcement” mechanism, per se–but the standards are used to create the tests by which student progress is judged, potentially effecting school funding, etc. So, teaching good science can potentially lead to bad scores for schools on statewide measures. As to the Bd., Ks. doesn’t do odd year elections; 4 of the 6 IDiots will be up for re-election in ‘06. There are movements to oppose them starting up; but the reality in Ks. is that most of these elections are really decided in the Republican primaries, and it isn’t clear how the sane candidates will be running, as yet. It’s also not clear what the actual standards will look like; large portions of them are cribbed from a coupleof national education consulting groups, who have notified the Bd. that it can’t use their copyrighted material in light of the bullshit the board has inserted.

Comment #56072

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 12:16 PM (e)

I posted this in response to DaveScot’s latest pearl of wisdom over at UncommonDescent. Although I loathe the place and DS equally, I couldn’t let this one slide:

“I’d like to see the ACLU go up against the State of Kansas but I doubt they will. That would be a level playing field and the last thing the anti-religion zealots want is a level playing field - the cowards. “

Coming from someone who posts on a blog where any opposing views are routinely censored (I guess “hearing both sides of the argument” only works one way with William “I lie for JESUS!” Dembski), not to mention the fact that ID has to resort to getting school boards to approve it being taught because it can’t possibly compete on the LEVEL PLAYING FIELD of peer reviewed scientific journals, or the fact that you glibly lie as a matter of routine about ID not being creationism yet complain about atheistic/anti-religious zealot scientists, you’re the true coward here, and a repellent liar to boot.

I hope that wasnt aimed at me…

I personally see the only (even quasi) scientific merit to ID, is that it opposes conventional wisdom. Since it gives a different idea, no matter how little evidence, and hasnt been totally trashed (Mind, I find religious themed ID totally perposterous, but other forms of ID arent really that far fetched, if you adhere to accepted evolution, since we have people here wanting to terraform planets allready…… If that isnt an ID in progress, I dont know what is.. So if you adhere to that, then you have no choice but to accept that kind of ID as possible.)

This seems based on the misguided assumption that ID == “Christian Creationism”. The ambiguous classification of “Intelligent Design” only dictates that some other entity caused life to form, through a non-descript means.

If I had the resources, I could probably cause that myself by launching a soda can filled with deep ocean trench bacteria into Jupiter’s moon Europa.

:P

Comment #56074

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 12:22 PM (e)

I hope that wasnt aimed at me…

Are you DaveScot?

hasnt been totally trashed

Yes, it has.

since we have people here wanting to terraform planets allready

We do live on Terra.

If that isnt an ID in progress, I dont know what is..

Then you don’t know what ID is.

So if you adhere to that, then you have no choice but to accept that kind of ID as possible.

No one denies it’s possible. Why do you claim to believe in Occam’s Razor when you clearly don’t?

Comment #56075

Posted by Anton Mates on November 9, 2005 12:26 PM (e)

It is possible that earth is a VERY VERY rare exception… But that still doesn’t solve the improbability issue.

Sure it does. If it was somehow shown conclusively (which it hasn’t been, but anyway) that the unassisted emergence of life was extremely improbable anywhere in the universe, and we’re the only instance of it we know of, the issue would be solved. A theoretically-improbable event which is observed rarely is hardly a problem for a theory!

The problem my dear friend, is that you DO have a random collection when the planet first forms. Thus, statistical odds DO have bearing.

Under no circumstances would there ever have been a truly random collection of organic molecules–any non-biological process which creates or destroys them will favor some products over others. For instance, circularly polarized starlight will degrade the right-handed and left-handed forms of a given amino acid at different rates.

Comment #56076

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 12:30 PM (e)

This seems based on the misguided assumption that ID == “Christian Creationism”. The ambiguous classification of “Intelligent Design” only dictates that some other entity caused life to form, through a non-descript means.

ID holds that life on earth is too complex to have evolved, and therefore it was intelligently designed. The first claim has never been demonstrated, and the inference is entirely unwarranted. Anyone who believes in either the burden of proof or Occam’s Razor should reject ID.

Comment #56077

Posted by DrFrank on November 9, 2005 12:33 PM (e)

Nice to see you’re still spouting utter rubbish, evopeach :)

Well, at least that provides yet more evidence that sanity is inversely proportional to the number of question marks used in a post… I guess that makes it more of a scientific theory than ID ever will be.

It exceeds the universsally agreed Limit Of Probability as in 10**-130 … impossible in other words.
Universally agreed upon? rofl. The only thing about it that is universally agreed upon (well, almost), is that Dembski pulled that number straight out of his arse to agree with his predrawn conclusions.

For example, try considering the likelihood of the molecules in a litre of gas being in the positions that they are, even only considering transpositions of the different molecules (completely ignoring orientation). It’s so so far below 1^-150 that anyone who ever touts it as a meaningful value should be thoroughly embarrassed, particularly Dembski.

Comment #56078

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 9, 2005 12:35 PM (e)

h brthr. ppl snd dmb mst f th tm, bt nvr qt s mch s whn g nt r chckn-lttl md. f D s mntnd n scnc clss, vn f t s “tght”, t wll hv n ffct. D thnk ths kds r stpd? ( thnk d.) D thnk th r nwr f th cntrvrs? (pprntl d.) D thnk ths wh r ntrstd n scnc cnnt fnd spplmntl nfrmtn th nd? D thnk th cnnt dscrn?

Wll, lt’s s f th Knss scrs n scnc fll blw ths f, fr xmpl, th frvntl sclr Wshngtn DC schl sstm.

ctll hp wn ll r crt css. vn hp tht Gstp frm th Ntnl Cntr fr Scnc “s lng s t’s nt phscs r strnm r csmlg r chmstr—ths w dn’t cr bt—n fct w cr mr bt rlgn thn ths scncs” >dctn> grds vr clssrm t mk sr tht tchrs d nt str frm strct scnc-nl dscssns. Thn, whn .S. scrs n scnc stll lg bhnd, wht wll blm t n? M gss: prvt rlgn nstrctn n th hm. t’ll b tht tp f “chld-bs” tht gts blmd.

Hmmm. Interesting. No y’s in there. Maybe y’s do count as vowels for disemvowelling purposes…

Comment #56079

Posted by Steverino on November 9, 2005 12:35 PM (e)

Evo,

Don’t think the “boys” have forgotten the bet you made. When ID goes down in flames in Dover you have to pony up….or perhaps we can just call it even with a well deserved swirly.

Kansas has yet to face its eventual court battle. When the BOE gets served, as it will, the light will shine and the cockroaches will run back under the pews.

Comment #56080

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 12:38 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #56082

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 9, 2005 12:39 PM (e)

Wierd_w wrote:

The problem my dear friend, is that you DO have a random collection when the planet first forms. Thus, statistical odds DO have bearing.

Sheesh.

Um, try spelling your own email handle correctly, m’kay?

Comment #56083

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 12:40 PM (e)

It is possible that earth is a VERY VERY rare exception… But that still doesn’t solve the improbability issue.

Sure it does. If it was somehow shown conclusively (which it hasn’t been, but anyway) that the unassisted emergence of life was extremely improbable anywhere in the universe, and we’re the only instance of it we know of, the issue would be solved. A theoretically-improbable event which is observed rarely is hardly a problem for a theory!

ww’s statement is like saying that someone who wins the lottery is a rare exception doesn’t solve the problem that it was improbable that they would win. Of course, he “qualified” it – by asserting that the odds of winning the lottery is too low to be in favor of the theory that the winner wasn’t purposefully selected. It’s an argument by raw assertion – and an argument that ignores Occam’s Razor.

Comment #56084

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 9, 2005 12:50 PM (e)

Okie Dokie— We want a mathematical explanation of why I feel this is improbable- Ok. Sure— I’ll bite, but it will take me awhile to write up.

I will have to do some exhaustive digging to get you a quantified (Perhaps you misunderstood the difference between quantify (To number, or list components of) and qualify (To give merit to)?) report about the improbability of the scenario you depict.

You are really acting like an ignoramus, here, do you know that?

Don’t bother with _yet another_ ridiculous calculation of the “improbability” of abiogenesis. The sad fact is, you’ve stumbled into a brawl that’s well underway. We’ve heard your misbegotten argument a hundred times, and you’re not listening to people who are telling you what’s wrong with it. You don’t understand the claims being made, apparently, by either side.

Quantify and qualify… whew, lemme study up on those’uns. Why do you insist on making Kansans look even worse?

(You realize this is the kind of stuff that people get grant money to do, right?)

MOVE THE IRONY METER AWAY FROM THE MONITOR. REPEAT…

Comment #56085

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 12:53 PM (e)

(grumbles about how this thing doesnt accept URLs the way it should)

Ok.

Here we go again:

1) Occam’s Razor: The most probable (or easiest) solution, is the most likely to be true.

What you guys are saying, can only be the inverse of what Occam’s Razor is all about– You have a very complicated source set, and a very finite end set, and give the explanation of “A very long time” to answer the middle. Not only is that unscientific, it also violates the principle. In order to have a simple answer, you must have a simple start-set. Increasing the number of progenitor compounds (Theoretical progenitor compounds) to the size of the set found in stellar dust and carboniferous meteorites, makes this set very very very large, as it includes inverted amino acids of a whole wide assortment of flavors….

Since the moment of impact is what triggers the event of spontaneous polymerization of these peptides (as was performed in the experement) then unless you think racation of these peptides can occur in the milliseconds exposure to ocean or atmospheric conditions—- you have to include WAAAYYY more amino acids than are accepted as being suitable for life producing molecules. By occam’s razor, you are much more likely to get totally worthless compounds per meteor strike this way.

These compounds may in fact break down, or switch isomers on contact with a primordial ocean– Or they could break down or denature in the hot saline mud just as well. It depends on the peptide chain. This added level of uncertainty moves you further away from the direction of choice, if you follow the rationale behind the Occam’s Razor idealology.

As for Empirical Epistemology….…… Do I really really need to go there?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

That is the kind of logic that led us to believe the earth was flat.

As for the troll issue.. I do believe it was you who started the flames and name calling. :P

Comment #56087

Posted by Wierd_w on November 9, 2005 1:00 PM (e)

ww’s statement is like saying that someone who wins the lottery is a rare exception doesn’t solve the problem that it was improbable that they would win. Of course, he “qualified” it — by asserting that the odds of winning the lottery is too low to be in favor of the theory that the winner wasn’t purposefully selected. It’s an argument by raw assertion — and an argument that ignores Occam’s Razor.

According to the ideal of the razor, you probably wont win the lottery, because the odds of winning are very very low.

By the same ideal, you probably wont get life in the way you describe, since the odds of ‘winning’ are very very low.

How does that violate the ideal?

Comment #56088

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on November 9, 2005 1:01 PM (e)

wierd_w wrote:

Here we go again:

1) Occam’s Razor: The most probable (or easiest) solution, is the most likely to be true….

Here’s a bizarre concept: why don’t you start out with an accurate definition?

Occam’s razor

“Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” or “plurality should not be posited without necessity.”

BTW, “weird” is spelled with ‘e’ before ‘i’.

Comment #56089

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

Occam’s Razor: The most probable (or easiest) solution, is the most likely to be true.

Not. Even. Close. You’ve given a silly circular argument.

Comment #56090

Posted by qetzal on November 9, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

wierd_w wrote:

I personally see the only (even quasi) scientific merit to ID, is that it opposes conventional wisdom. Since it gives a different idea, no matter how little evidence, and hasnt been totally trashed (Mind, I find religious themed ID totally perposterous, but other forms of ID arent really that far fetched, if you adhere to accepted evolution, since we have people here wanting to terraform planets allready…… If that isnt an ID in progress, I dont know what is.. So if you adhere to that, then you have no choice but to accept that kind of ID as possible.)

So, assuming I’ve correctly deciphered your stream-of-conciousness writing, your point is that we can’t absolutely disprove ID. Even though you agree there’s little or no evidence to support ID, it’s still at least possible.

Is that your criterion for whether something should be covered in high school science classes?!!

By that criteron, we should also tell students that ESP, astrology, faith-healing, phrenology, and flying spaghetti monsters might be true. Sure there’s no evidence for any of them, but we can’t formally and absolutely disprove any of them.

Would you like the KSBE to add them to the standards next? Why not?

Comment #56091

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 1:06 PM (e)

If that isnt an ID in progress, I dont know what is..

Then you don’t know what ID is.

So, Going to a planet that has no native life, and putting life there, isn’t Intelligent Design?

Are you on crack?

So if you adhere to that, then you have no choice but to accept that kind of ID as possible.

No one denies it’s possible. Why do you claim to believe in Occam’s Razor when you clearly don’t?

“Noone denies it is possible”, yet the very idea of ID vexes you so? Explain.

As for the latter, see above.

Comment #56092

Posted by gwangung on November 9, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

This seems based on the misguided assumption that ID == “Christian Creationism”. The ambiguous classification of “Intelligent Design” only dictates that some other entity caused life to form, through a non-descript means.

You REALLY don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? Or you’re an out and out liar?

Saying this after the Dover trial means you’re a) extremely ignorant, b) quite stupid, or c) extremely ethnically challenged.

Comment #56093

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 9, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

You do not understand the principle of parsimony.
For some discussion of its applicability to these issues

Try http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/06/occams_hammer_creationist_rhetoric_and_the_myth_of_philosophical_naturalism.html#more

Comment #56094

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 1:08 PM (e)

“Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” or “plurality should not be posited without necessity.”

The modern version is a theorem in information theory: the simplest (in the sense of algorithmic information theory) explanation is most likely to be correct.

Comment #56096

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 1:14 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #56097

Posted by qetzal on November 9, 2005 1:16 PM (e)

Arden Chatfield wrote:

Um, try spelling your own email handle correctly, m’kay?

Oops - I think that’s unfair. Perhaps he spells it that way intentionally. Sort of like someone spelling “qetzal” without a “u.”

;-)

Comment #56098

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 1:16 PM (e)

According to the ideal of the razor, you probably wont win the lottery, because the odds of winning are very very low.

It must be a struggle to be that dense. Regardless of anything about Occam’s Razor or “ideal”s, you probably won’t win the lottery, because the odds of winning are low. Nonetheless, someone will win the lottery. From which we cannot conclude that they were purposefully selected.

So, Going to a planet that has no native life, and putting life there, isn’t Intelligent Design?

Indeed, it’s not.

Are you on crack?

No, I’m just not an ignoramus. Building a bridge involves intelligence and design, but it’s not Intelligent Design. Hint: the capital letters matter.

“Noone denies it is possible”, yet the very idea of ID vexes you so? Explain.

The very idea of ID does not vex me. The explanation is beyond me, because it is a matter of your ignorance, the limits of which have yet to be fathomed.

Comment #56099

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 9, 2005 1:20 PM (e)

guangung wrote:

You REALLY don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? Or you’re an out and out liar?

Saying this after the Dover trial means you’re a) extremely ignorant, b) quite stupid, or c) extremely ethnically challenged.

guangung, if you think you can explain the situation, try to do so. Throwing out insults like this only makes you and this blog look dumb.

Comment #56100

Posted by Vic Stenger on November 9, 2005 1:20 PM (e)

“In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.”

I wish scientists would stop insisting that science is limited to the study of natural phenomena. This just plays into the hands of those who want to accuse us of dogmatism. Our stand should be that we examine all the evidence and seek to explain what is observed in terms of models based on space, time, matter and other concepts that in the past have proved successful. However, should some phenomenon defy all natural explanations, then we are willing to consider other models.

Now, here is an additional advantage I can see if we take this attitude. It means that when supernatural phenomena are claimed we will be able to address them according to the same critical analysis we apply to natural phenomena. Make a hypothesis and test it against the data.

This is what I am doing with my current book-in-progress, “God: The Failed Hypothesis. Why Science Shows that God Does Not Exist.” See http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/godless.html.

Those who are promoting a critical analysis of evolution in science classes might not be so happy if we come back with proposing a critical analysis of religious claims. Maybe that would shut them up.

Comment #56101

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

Quite right Mobius.

Or– “Given two equivilent solutions, choose the least complicated”

As for “silly circular logic”, leave out the word “probable” and just leave the parenthesised “Easiest” (in terms of simplicity), and there you go. A paraphrased occam’s razor.

Not even close my foot.
Grow up.

Tell me how ignoring a potential alternative answer that isnt ‘accepted’ by conventional wisdom, is any any way logical in terms of scientific method, and I’ll give you the prize of the argument.

Comment #56103

Posted by Wierd_w on November 9, 2005 1:29 PM (e)

So, Going to a planet that has no native life, and putting life there, isn’t Intelligent Design?

Indeed, it’s not.

So, to be “ID” (and not, for say “id” in lower case) we have to assume it was a god that did the intelligent design?

What exactly is your definition of a god? If it involves a supernatural being that cannot exist in your estimation, then of course “ID” (with capitol letters) cannot exist. that’s a no brainer.

But what makes you think that if you were to show up in 6000BC with a land rover and a tommy gun, and went on a “prehistoric wild safari”, that any natives wouldnt consider you a god?

“God” is such a very fuzzy term afterall, now isnt it.

Comment #56104

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 9, 2005 1:29 PM (e)

Tell me how ignoring a potential alternative answer that isnt ‘accepted’ by conventional wisdom, is any any way logical in terms of scientific method, and I’ll give you the prize of the argument.

The link I gave above, which I’m positive you’ve ignored, does just that.
And, may I suggest, you’re not in a position to be handing out “prizes”.

Comment #56105

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

As for “silly circular logic”, leave out the word “probable” and just leave the parenthesised “Easiest” (in terms of simplicity), and there you go. A paraphrased occam’s razor.

Simplicity has nothing to do with “ease”.

But now that you have it – perhaps you can go back over your applications of it and see that they are all wrong, and see why I said on several occasions that your statements are inconsistent with O.R.

Tell me how ignoring a potential alternative answer that isnt ‘accepted’ by conventional wisdom, is any any way logical in terms of scientific method, and I’ll give you the prize of the argument.

What is logical is to ignore explanations that posit unnecessary elements – that’s what Occam tells us. That’s logical because dealing with such explanations is a waste of time when simpler explanations are available. However, Occam’s Razor isn’t the only reason for ignoring ID.

Comment #56107

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

So, to be “ID” (and not, for say “id” in lower case) we have to assume it was a god that did the intelligent design?

No. I already stated what ID is; as with CJ O’Brien’s parsimony link, had you bothered to read it you would have saved everyone a lot of time. Here it is again:

ID holds that life on earth is too complex to have evolved, and therefore it was intelligently designed.

The first claim has never been demonstrated, and the inference is entirely unwarranted. Anyone who believes in either the burden of proof or Occam’s Razor should reject ID.

Comment #56109

Posted by gwangung on November 9, 2005 1:42 PM (e)

guangung, if you think you can explain the situation, try to do so. Throwing out insults like this only makes you and this blog look dumb.

Trying to state that “ID = Christian Creationism is a misguided concept” after the truly pathetic performance in Dover by the former school board is astoundingly inept or stupid. In a major case, the board, the publishers of the main text and the major proponents of ID have given EVERY indication that ID is creationism. If the idea is misguided, it’s because the ID proponents have given substantial support to it.

If ID=Christian Creation is a misguided concept, then you had better do a lot better job than simply assert it AND you have to explain for the antics of the major supporters of ID.

Comment #56110

Posted by k.e. on November 9, 2005 1:43 PM (e)

Is it a full moon again ?
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/pink-floyd/108608.html

Comment #56111

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 1:44 PM (e)

The link I gave above, which I’m positive you’ve ignored, does just that.
And, may I suggest, you’re not in a position to be handing out “prizes”.

Simple enough–

You band “religiously themed ID” with other forms of ID, for starters.

Secondly, chemical evolution’s ‘findings’ dont show that it ‘did’ happen. Only that it could have happened. As I said earlier, I can easily prove that it can happen with ID as well– Just by sending a rocket with a soda can full of microbes to Europa. (Course, it would piss a great many astronomers off… but that is neighther here nor there)

These ideas dont obfuscate each other. For ID to exist, it means something, somewhere had to crawl up by its bootstraps (through some means, known or unknown) and do the deed. Meteorite impact induced chemical evolution is only one scenario, while ID is potentially many.

While by Occam, ID is less likely (requiring the process by which argumentors in your linked thread are trying to dispute to even occur), it shouldnt be ignored as possible. That would be as unscientific as ignoring Meterorite induced chemical evolution, should a better theory hit the community.

Simply because something is the most supported at the time, doesnt make it so.

So? Continue.

Comment #56112

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 1:48 PM (e)

Vic Stenger wrote:

However, should some phenomenon defy all natural explanations, then we are willing to consider other models.

Hello, Dr. Stenger.

What distinguishes “natural” explanations from “other” models? How can any explanation of a phenomenon that occurs in the physical world, aka nature, not be a natural explanation? The problem with the Kansas redefinition is that it seems to allow “explanations” that do not in fact explain.

Comment #56114

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 9, 2005 1:51 PM (e)

“…it shouldn’t be ignored as possible…”
The logically possible is not a position from which to begin inquiry.
Parsimony is a methodological principle. It is logical within the methods of science to ignore non-explanations with no testable implications.
You’re spinning your wheels.

Comment #56115

Posted by Rick B on November 9, 2005 1:59 PM (e)

As I read it, Individual school districts will determine what is taught in their classes, but the standards set by the State Board of Education will be used to determine what is tested throughout the State.

It is my understanding that those tests are used under the federal law No Child Left Behind to rank the school districts. The rankings of the districts will affect the careers of the administrators, so they will “teach to the tests.”

Comment #56116

Posted by David Heddle on November 9, 2005 2:00 PM (e)

Hw’s ths PZ? r wll r cwrdc prvl? ‘v ntcd n r blg tht s lng s ppl strk r g r hpp. Bt f smn rgs wth , gt qt ptlnt.

B th w, srch n Pnd’s Thmb fr th wrd tht clm gt m pst mngld dmnstrts r lck f vrct.

W’v lst Knss…

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Wll, lt’s s f th Knss scrs n scnc fll blw ths f, fr xmpl, th frvntl sclr Wshngtn DC schl sstm.

ctll hp wn ll r crt css. vn hp tht >rprsnttvs> frm th >Ntnl Cntr fr Scnc> “s lng s t’s nt phscs r strnm r csmlg r chmstr—ths w dn’t cr bt—n fct w cr mr bt rlgn thn ths scncs” >dctn> grds vr clssrm t mk sr tht tchrs d nt str frm strct scnc-nl dscssns. Thn, whn .S. scrs n scnc stll lg bhnd, wht wll blm t n? M gss: prvt rlgn nstrctn n th hm. t’ll b tht tp f “chld-bs” tht gts blmd.

[Since all you’ve got to offer is abuse, Mr Heddle, goodbye. Further posts by you on this thread will be disemvoweled without comment.]

Comment #56117

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 2:04 PM (e)

The logically possible is not a position from which to begin inquiry.

I made this point with

Are you sure that the time postulated by geologists is enough?

No, nor do I have to be. Here are some clues: empirical epistemology. Occam’s Razor.

When people use words like “sure”, “possible”, or “proof”, they are demonstrating that they don’t understand empirical epistemology or science. w_w retorted “That is the kind of logic that led us to believe the earth was flat”. It’s not clear what he meant by that, but then it’s not clear what he means by a lot of things.

I really think we need to start teaching the elements of empirical epistemology in kindergarten, including the inapplicability of proof and certainty and the limited relevance of mere possibility, if we want a science-literate general populace.

Comment #56119

Posted by Vic Stenger on November 9, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 01:48 PM (e) (s)

Vic Stenger wrote:

However, should some phenomenon defy all natural explanations, then we are willing to consider other models.

Hello, Dr. Stenger.

What distinguishes “natural” explanations from “other” models? How can any explanation of a phenomenon that occurs in the physical world, aka nature, not be a natural explanation? The problem with the Kansas redefinition is that it seems to allow “explanations” that do not in fact explain. wrote:

We can follow Phillip Johnson and define natural as material.

Comment #56120

Posted by wierd_w on November 9, 2005 2:10 PM (e)

““…it shouldn’t be ignored as possible…”
The logically possible is not a position from which to begin inquiry.
Parsimony is a methodological principle. It is logical within the methods of science to ignore non-explanations with no testable implications.
You’re spinning your wheels.”

“Oberservation”
“Hypothesis”
“Experementation”
“Conclusion”

We have an observation that there is life on the planet

We have 2 hypotheses.

1) Life formed here on its own
2) Life was brought/formed here by some other means

Experementation:

1) Find lifeless planetoid, bombard with meteors containing building blocks of life, return several billion years later, collect data. Take measures to ensure no further contamination of test planet occurs.

2) Engineer life forms in lab, deposit them on lifeless planetoid, return several billion years later, collect data. Take measures to ensure no further contamination of test planet occurs.

Conclusion:

1) Cannot be realistically performed

2) cannot be realistically performed

Sounds like both are plausible. Let’s look at our own planet:

Planetary crust samples suggest bombardment by meteors in past.
Meteors are comprised of mostly iron and silicates in inner solar system. Outer solar system objects are composed mostly of gas and cosmic dust, suggesting differing composition of accreted materials.

Some objects in both regions contain amino acids. (I would like to know the distribution, any ideas where to look?)

Fossil record shows long “incubation” period where no life forms are present, long after initial bombardment. Several layers of ocean sediment predate deposition of microbial fossils.

Ok– The clencher here, sounds like if geologists can find traces of primative self-replicating protiens in the pre-life strata, they win the debate.

Otherwise, where did the microbes come from, and are there any simmilar microbes in the solar system?

Comment #56122

Posted by Flint on November 9, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

The only models I’ve ever seen are “natural causes” and “poof”. Natural causes has certain advantages: it actually IS an explanation, it allows for accurate predictions and for falsification, it allows for testing, it leads to more and more useful and accurate explanations. It has a disadvantage as well: it’s hard. The “poof” model is the inverse: it’s simple, it “explains” absolutely everything, it’s otherwise useless, it predicts nothing.

I too would appreciate it if Vic Stenger could provide an example of a phenomenon that defies all natural explanations, along with a model of investigation that didn’t involve anything natural. Seances? Altered states?

Comment #56123

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 2:16 PM (e)

We can follow Phillip Johnson and define natural as material.

What is “material”? I don’t see how this answers my question. I think it would be better to just drop the word “natural” from “natural explanation”, because there is no other sort of explanation. So then we get “should some phenomenon defy all explanations, then” … we continue to seek an explanation. I have no idea how a phenomenon can “defy all explanations” – if this doesn’t mean that we simply don’t have an explanation yet, then it appears to be an argument from ignorance. People quite often say “It defies all scientific explanation!” but they are almost always talking nonsense.

Comment #56125

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 2:22 PM (e)

It has a disadvantage as well: it’s hard. The “poof” model is the inverse: it’s simple

For consistency, and in light of previous discussion about Occam’s Razor and information theory, I would say it’s easy, not simple.

Comment #56126

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 9, 2005 2:23 PM (e)

Experementation:

1) Find lifeless planetoid, bombard with meteors containing building blocks of life, return several billion years later, collect data. Take measures to ensure no further contamination of test planet occurs.

2) Engineer life forms in lab, deposit them on lifeless planetoid, return several billion years later, collect data. Take measures to ensure no further contamination of test planet occurs.

Do you know anything about current origin of life research?
Really, as morbius points out, this discussion is a total loss, because you are arguing from ignorance on all fronts.
I think TalkOrigins has a good page of liks on abiogenesis research. It doesn’t involve any “lifeless planetoids.”

Comment #56127

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 2:34 PM (e)

1) Find lifeless planetoid, bombard with meteors containing building blocks of life, return several billion years later, collect data. Take measures to ensure no further contamination of test planet occurs.

2) Engineer life forms in lab, deposit them on lifeless planetoid, return several billion years later, collect data. Take measures to ensure no further contamination of test planet occurs.

In addition to the entities of number 1, number 2 involves engineers and engineering methods that would require their own explanation. Since there’s no evidence of such engineers, there’s no point in pursuing this, just like an infinity of other possibilities that we don’t bother to pursue.

Comment #56128

Posted by David K on November 9, 2005 2:36 PM (e)

Hi all,

I am new to this board, am not a scientist, but have been following PT along with the Dover trial for some time. Please keep up the good work.

To Wierd W,

One very important thing you are ignoring about ID (religious-based or not) is that it wants to propose an alternative to evolution to explain the mechanisms of how we went from early chemical processes to today’s diversity of life on earth (that is, a designer is doing it, not random mutations of DNA, natural selection, etc). Nevermind the fact that ID has no mechanisms in mind. None of your talk about meteors vs “alien experiments” addresses that aspect of ID.

So, in essence, you are either arguing something separate from ID, or are focusing on a detail of ID, which, in the end still falls flat once you get to the part addressing the mechanisms involved after life has come to be.

Comment #56129

Posted by socrateaser on November 9, 2005 2:40 PM (e)

I think that it is worth mentioning, that one of the primary reasons that the Kansas State Board of Education was able to so easily manipulate its science standards to effectively reintroduce creationist theology into the public schools, is because the scientific community boycotted the hearings.

The Board requires only a preponderance of evidence to find in favor of change, and by failing to rebut the position of the intelligent design community, the scientific community lost by default.

In the liberally applied phraseology the Kansas Board:

“Based on the unrebutted testimony of…” (insert your favorite intelligent design nemesis)

Were the hearings a farce? Probably so. But, the reality is simply, that by failing to show up on grounds of “principle,” Kansas has practically established its public school system as teaching creationism on the same level as evolution.

Survival of the fittest doesn’t mean that truth will prevail over falsity. Galileo may have proven the Church wrong……but he died anyway.

There’s a lesson in that.

Here’s a link to the new Kansas science standards. It’s pretty nauseating.

http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/schearingff.pdf

Oh well, live and learn.

:)

Comment #56130

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 2:41 PM (e)

It doesn’t involve any “lifeless planetoids.”

Well, the Earth was once an lifeless planetoid – for certain definitions of “planetoid”. Of course, it already contained “building blocks of life”, if that means C, H, O, etc., so no meteor bombardment would be necessary to obtain them.

abiogenesis

The confusion between evolution and abiogenesis is rampant, and is hard to avoid without being extremely careful with the language we use. Of course, the creationists make a point of confusing them.

Comment #56131

Posted by Joe Shelby on November 9, 2005 2:43 PM (e)

I was certainly surprised by the lie concerning fossil evidence and/or molecular biology being used anywhere as evidence against common descent. Proving common descent false is not something that is typical of the ID “position” – it seems that those who religously favor special creation for humans got their hand in the document as well.

On the bright side, since special creation is a known tenant of “creation science”, it’ll be easy to get that one thrown out in court long before it has to go up to the supreme court.

Comment #56132

Posted by Federico Contreras on November 9, 2005 2:52 PM (e)

Pro-intelligent-design, the wretched sucktards of Ignorance:

You didn’t have to mince words. A lot of us are gamers, go ahead, call them f*cktards, it’s very cathartic and fits better too.

Comment #56133

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 9, 2005 3:04 PM (e)

I don’t know what gamers have to do with it. Or catharsis, for that matter.
This is a pro-education site that should be available for library and classroom use. None of the colorful apellations you refer to are consistent with that mission.
Further, such expletives are the refuge of the inarticulate. They stand out unfavorably amidst the (generally) erudite commentary here.
There are plenty of places you can go to call people names.

Comment #56134

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 9, 2005 3:07 PM (e)

Survival of the fittest doesn’t mean that truth will prevail over falsity. Galileo may have proven the Church wrong…

…but he died anyway.

…but then again, so did all the priests and cardinals that were harassing him.

Whose side did history come down on?

Comment #56139

Posted by les on November 9, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

socrateaser, the Bd. was able to manipulate the standards because they decided before they were even board members to manipulate the standards. They didn’t need or want any “evidence”; the “hearings” were pre-decided; and the presence or absence of anyone was immaterial. They had the recommendations of the professional standards development team; they had input from every imaginable scientific organization, and input from Kansas scientists and educators. The hearings were a farce, and joining the “debate” would have done nothing to change the outcome but would have provided a chance for the Bd. to claim victory over scientists.

Comment #56140

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 9, 2005 3:23 PM (e)

Hey, PZ, Pharyngula is acting kinda glitchy today.

Anybody else having trouble connecting just to Pharyngula, or previewing or submitting comments?

Comment #56141

Posted by Russell on November 9, 2005 3:34 PM (e)

socrateaser, in advancing the far-fetched idea that Science and scientists are responsible for the folly of the Kansas BoE, wrote:

In the liberally applied phraseology the Kansas Board:

“Based on the unrebutted testimony of…” (insert your favorite intelligent design nemesis)

If the majority of the BoE were capable of seeing anything viable in the pro-ID position after the mincemeat attorney Iregonegaray made of their case, there is zero probability that any number of scientists would have changed their minds.

Comment #56142

Posted by northzax on November 9, 2005 4:03 PM (e)

Yes, the odds are against evolution happening. Luckily, there are a nearly infinite number of opportunities for it to happen. Maybe there are 500,000,000 other planets in the universe where it didn’t happen? the odds are against any individual ticket winning powerball, but if enough tickets are sold, the odds get pretty good that one of them will win, right?

we just don’t bother with the losing odds, since we happen to be one of the winners in the evolution lottery.

by the way, these are the brilliant people who voted to change the definition of science…

Iris Van Meter
Iris graduated from Kentucky Mountain Bible College in 1956 with a degree in Christian Education.

Steve Abrams
Steve owns a veterinary practice in Arkansas City.
Once served as president of Rural Water District number 6.

Kenneth R. Willard
He currently serves as a district manager for an insurance company, managing 25 agencies in south-central and southwest Kansas.

Kathy Martin
Kathy earned her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education in 1967, and her Masters in Special Education in 1984, both from Kansas State University.

Connie Morris
Connie and her husband Kelly farm and ranch and own a plumbing business in St. Francis where they have resided for 12 years.

John Bacon
John earned his Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Mid- America Nazarene University in 1985 and is now self-employed as a certified public accountant.

Comment #56152

Posted by Doug Sharp, Head IDiot on November 9, 2005 5:07 PM (e)

OPEN EPISTLE TO KANSAS SCHOOL BOARD
November 8th, 2005
I write with joy and thanks in my heart after having read of your bold decision to promote the Church of The Intelligent Designer and its one true God IDio. Finally, our Church needs no longer cower behind a façade of science.

Now that your blessed action on IDio’s behalf has rendered the Constitution, with its irritating religious establishment clause, inoperative, we can proudly proclaim in every Kansas classroom, “There is but one Intelligent Designer and His name is IDio!” We thank the taxpayers of Kansas for donating their money to proselytize for His church. May IDio mutate you all intelligently.

www.godinabox.com - Spread the Word of IDio!

Comment #56154

Posted by socrateaser on November 9, 2005 5:32 PM (e)

This response is to russell: In your #56141 post above, you suggest that I assert that it is a “far-fetched idea that Science or scientists are responsible for the follow of the Kansas BoE…”

Nevertheless, it is a fact that the scientific community did not attempt to be heard, and this provided the Kansas BoE with a “legal” rationale for making its changes to the State Science Standards. Had credible scientists chosen to appear and defend the position of evolutionary theory, this rationale would have been removed, or at least considerably dampend.

Would the result have been the same? There’s no way to know, now. And, that is my point. When there are two opponents on a battlefield, one must overcome the other’s ground to pick up territory. When there’s only one opponent, the ground is already relinquished.

As for Mr. Iregonegaray’s noble defense, you must understand, that legally, a cross examination can impeach a witness’s credibility, but unless opposing counsel produces affirmative evidence to support his client’s position, he cannot prevail on the merits.

The hearings were clearly set up on the presumption that the Board had already decided to change the rules to favor of intelligent design. Therefore, it became Mr. Iregonegaray’s burden to affirmatively overcome the legal presumption and prove evolution all over again. Was this an unfair position, in view of the fact that the existing standards didn’t support intelligent design? Of course! But, administrative agencies, like school boards, don’t have to play fair – they merely need to provide a reasonable opportunity for public comment, and reasonable grounds for their rules/regulations. After that, you can challege their decisions in court, but the court must generally review the matter from the facts “on the record.” And, since no supporters of evolution appear on the record, the court would be forced by due process to rule in favor of the Board.

The above discusses is the standard method of judicial review over administrative agency regulations. Obviously, there is also Constitutional Law argument that what the State of Kansas has done is to establish a defacto state religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

And, I’m sure that the ACLU will be suing soom enough to overturn the new science standards on that ground.

:)

Comment #56156

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 9, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

The hearings were clearly set up on the presumption that the Board had already decided to change the rules to favor of intelligent design

this is the only factually correct statement in your entire post.

please review the reasons why the science community boycotted the Kansas “hearings”. You are incorrect in thinking that scientists were not heard during the hearings (there were plenty of interviews given during that time, and public statements by scientists regarding the matter were NOT in short supply).

Don’t forget that those “hearings” were never meant to have any legal standing whatosoever, so even if scientists had participated, it would have made absolutely no difference, except to give false credibility to the Kansas BOE proceedings.

Comment #56157

Posted by socrateaser on November 9, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

Response to Sir_Toejam #56156:

If there were scientists in support of evolution who formally submitted statements or testimony “on the record” of the Board, then you’re right, and I am incorrect in thinking that scientists were not “heard.” Otherwise, nothing stated in the press or elsewhere would be admissible in a later court review of the evidence provided at the Board “hearings.”

Also, and regardless of what you may have been led to believe, an administrative agency hearing “is” a legal proceeding. It’s not a “formal” legal proceeding with full due process, but it is absolutely a legal hearing and the effect of the Board hearings is one of potentially legal and binding effect.

The Kansas State Board of Education can make orders within the scope of their authority as delegated by Kansas Legislative enactments, and those orders, if not appealed timely, will have the same legal effect as an order from a Kansas Court.

Anyway, I’m not trying to start an argument with any of you – I’m merely suggesting that boycotting the hearings did not achieve the desired end, and I think that this approach should be reconsidered for future circumstances.

:)

Comment #56158

Posted by Joe Shelby on November 9, 2005 6:01 PM (e)

The confusion between evolution and abiogenesis is rampant, and is hard to avoid without being extremely careful with the language we use. Of course, the creationists make a point of confusing them.

And in fact, that’s precisely what the BOE standards did:

the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.

assuming that the MSNBC article is an accurate summary (it might not be), then there it is. neither all life having a “common origin” nor “natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life” are in any way part of “basic Darwinian theory”, provided they mean something different in using the word “common origin” over Evolution’s accepted term, “common ancestor”. both are part of abiogenesis, which isn’t in the standards in the first place, much less part of “basic Darwinian theory”.

they intentionally associate abiogenesis as part of evolution, then put up a bogus claim that the concept of abiogenesis is being challenged (it isn’t; as with evolution of species, the details are what’s being challenged, not the concept which is well supported), and then use that as a tool for creating uncertainty and doubt in the core of “basic Darwinian theory” which is as sound today as it ever has been.

Comment #56160

Posted by shenda on November 9, 2005 6:22 PM (e)

Socrateaser:
“After that, you can challege their decisions in court, but the court must generally review the matter from the facts “on the record.” And, since no supporters of evolution appear on the record, the court would be forced by due process to rule in favor of the Board.”

Untrue. The main standards writing committee is clearly on the record as opposing the changes. Keep in mind, the changes were made by a *minority* of the committee.

Comment #56161

Posted by Vic Stenger on November 9, 2005 6:22 PM (e)

morbius wrote:

“Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 02:16 PM (e) (s)

We can follow Phillip Johnson and define natural as material.

What is “material”? I don’t see how this answers my question. I think it would be better to just drop the word “natural” from “natural explanation”, because there is no other sort of explanation. So then we get “should some phenomenon defy all explanations, then” … we continue to seek an explanation. I have no idea how a phenomenon can “defy all explanations” — if this doesn’t mean that we simply don’t have an explanation yet, then it appears to be an argument from ignorance. People quite often say “It defies all scientific explanation!” but they are almost always talking nonsense.

In science we invent models to describe observations. The material model is the familiar one based on space, time, mass, energy, etc. I can imagine all kinds of possible observations that would be labeled unexplainable by the material model (but not necessarily “scientifically unexplainable”). Example:

A psychic talks to a dead person who tells him that Usama Bin Laden is living at 6969 69th Avenue in Manhattan. The FBI go there and arrest him.

Comment #56162

Posted by Vic Stenger on November 9, 2005 6:22 PM (e)

morbius wrote:

“Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 02:16 PM (e) (s)

We can follow Phillip Johnson and define natural as material.

What is “material”? I don’t see how this answers my question. I think it would be better to just drop the word “natural” from “natural explanation”, because there is no other sort of explanation. So then we get “should some phenomenon defy all explanations, then” … we continue to seek an explanation. I have no idea how a phenomenon can “defy all explanations” — if this doesn’t mean that we simply don’t have an explanation yet, then it appears to be an argument from ignorance. People quite often say “It defies all scientific explanation!” but they are almost always talking nonsense.

In science we invent models to describe observations. The material model is the familiar one based on space, time, mass, energy, etc. I can imagine all kinds of possible observations that would be labeled unexplainable by the material model (but not necessarily “scientifically unexplainable”). Example:

A psychic talks to a dead person who tells him that Usama Bin Laden is living at 6969 69th Avenue in Manhattan. The FBI go there and arrest him.

Comment #56164

Posted by Steve S on November 9, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

Kansas and Dover were just mentioned on ABC’s nightly news. Eugenie Scott got a statement in. The reporter was clearly treating ID as a crypto-creationist scheme. The coverage was actually pretty sweet–they showed Stephen Meyer, and showed an off-camera Discovery Institute handler stopping the interview when the reporter asked about the DI’s funders. The off-camera guy could be heard saying “We don’t want to go down that road.”

HAHAHAHAHA.

Comment #56165

Posted by socrateaser on November 9, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

Response to shenda #56160:

The changes may have been made by a minority of the Standards Committee, but they were approved by a majority of the Board, and that’s all that matters.

However, if there were scientific supporters of evolution on the committee who testified or submitted written objections to the Board, re the final Standards, then I agree that these objections would be “on the record.”

Also, I must repair my own prior misconstruction. Earlier I posted a link to what I thought was the final science standards. What I actually posted was a link to the “suggested findings of facts,” as proposed by Discovery Institute proponents, which is why it appears so frighteningly biased.

Here is the link to the actual final standards, which are considerably more reserved in their language concerning intelligent design theory (and, yes I know, there is no such theory, but that’s what they choose to call it, so I shall do similarly):

http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/sciencestd.pdf

Comment #56173

Posted by shenda on November 9, 2005 7:20 PM (e)

Socrateaser:
“However, if there were scientific supporters of evolution on the committee who testified or submitted written objections to the Board, re the final Standards, then I agree that these objections would be “on the record.””

They are: http://www.kcfs.org/standards05/index.html

Comment #56176

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:26 PM (e)

Chemical evolution is not ‘impossible’… It is just HIGHLY HIGHLY improbable.

How do you know?

If the laws of chemistry make it inevitable, then the probability may be close to 100%. After all, the laws of chemistry are not “random chance” combinations of unconnected parts.

In any case, it is also “highly highly improbable” that any patrticular person will win the lottery. Yet people win the lottery, all across the country, every day. (shrug)

Comment #56178

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:29 PM (e)

As for the implications of (Ahem) “Intelligent Design”, If you remove any religious implications (Which is the only way I could even begin to see it taught in a school as a possible resolution to this question), It could just as easily have the role of “God” being an alien from an alternative universe (A theoretical possibility), as that of some “divine Creator”, since all it takes to be quote “Intelligent design”, is for some intelligence (Divine or otherwise) to concoct a plan to seed a suitable planet with microbes

I see. And where, again, did that intelligent space alien come from? After all, you just told us that it’s “highly highly unlikely” for life (especially INTELLIGENT life) to appear naturally. NOW you want to tell us that life here might have come from non-divine space aliens, who (presumably) appeared naturally.

Make up your friggin’ mind.

Comment #56179

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

Now, the real kicker against the Creationist, comes from theological examination of the bible.

Gee, if ID isn’t about religion, like DI and the Kansas Board keeps telling us, then why the hell do IDers always want to drag their Bible Babble into this?

Or are they just lying to us when they claim ID isn’t about religion?

Comment #56181

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:35 PM (e)

h brthr. ppl snd dmb mst f th tm, bt nvr qt s mch s whn g nt r chckn-lttl md. f D s mntnd n scnc clss, vn f t s “tght”, t wll hv n ffct. D thnk ths kds r stpd?

Gee, Heddle, that’s the most sensible thing I recall ever seeing from you. (snicker)

Comment #56182

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:38 PM (e)

are you a biochemist? Are you familliar with organic isomers, inverted protiens, and the like? Those are all potential outcomes of such random fusions of stellar amino acid isomers….

(sigh) Ya know, listening to you talk about science is a lot like listening to my eight year old neice talk about sex.

She knows all the words, but she doesn’t have the foggiest idea what any of them mean.

Comment #56188

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:44 PM (e)

“Based on the unrebutted testimony of…” (insert your favorite intelligent design nemesis)

I’d like, very very much, to see them make that argument in court.

Please.

Pretty please.

Comment #56190

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 7:59 PM (e)

On the bright side, since special creation is a known tenant of “creation science”, it’ll be easy to get that one thrown out in court long before it has to go up to the supreme court.

This is the biggest favor that the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt did for us with their silly “hearings” – ammo. They were kind enough to give us their entire argument, right there for the whole world to see (and remember), while they got to hear NOTHING of the rebuttals. And if any of them on the stand under oath, alter or chan ge anything of what they said during the “hearings”, I think the judge will have some VERY sharp questions for them …

As for this “ID equals creationism” thingie, well, let’s take a look, shall we (with thanks, once again, to the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt)?

Of the six defining characteristics of creation “science” as
listed in the Maclean v Arkansas case:

“Creation-science” means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences. Creation-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing; (2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; (3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals; (4) Separate ancestry for man and apes; (5) Explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.

Excerpts from the Kansas hearing transcripts:

Q. Do you believe in common descent?

A. You mean, common ancestry?

Q. Common descent, yes.

A. Well, I have difficulty with common ancestry and maybe that’s what you mean by common descent.

Q. Do you believe in common descent in humans, such as the fact that there were perhominids before homo sapiens?

A. Are you asking me if I accept evolutionary thought on this?

Q. I’m asking you if you accept prehominids as the ancestral line to homo sapiens?

A. Personally I don’t, no.

Q. You what?

A. I personally do not.

Q. You do not?

A. Yes. I mean, I’m not an expert on this. (Thaxton testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. You do accept, do you not, common descent within species?

A. Within a single species, of course. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.

Q. What about among species?

A. Among species? Well, I stated in my power point that I find it extremely unlikely based on the evidence that the animal phyla are related through common ancestry. Other biologists have said they’re dubious of common ancestry at levels higher than that. The levels in between, I don’t know. As a scientist I would have to say each case would have to be settled based on the evidence.

Q. What about between humans, the humans– homo sapiens and other species, such as prehominids?

A. I think it’s extremely unlikely based on the evidence. (Wells testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Sir, the first question I’d like to ask you is, do you accept the evolutionary theory of common descent of humans from prehominids?

A. From the data that I’ve been following it’s probably not true.(Simat testimony, Kansas Hearings, transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you– do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life was biologically related to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Leonard testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to predominant ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the principle– the general principle of common descent that all of life was biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. Not if you interpret common descent, and realize that I’m taking liberty here, not if you interpret common descent as being that that is natural selection acting on random mutations I do not.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. I will say no, because –

Q. I didn’t ask you for an explanation. Yes or no?

A. Okay. No.

Q. Okay. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Millam testimony, Kansas Hearing transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life was biologically related to the beginning of life, yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors, yes or no?

A. No. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life, yes or no?

A. I won’t answer that question as a yes or no. I accept the idea of limited common descent. I am skeptical about universal common descent. I do not take it as a principle; it is a theory. And I think the evidence supporting the theory of universal common descent is weak.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors, yes or no?

A. I’m not sure. I’m skeptical of it because I think the evidence for the proposition is weak, but it would not affect my conviction that life is designed if it turns out that there was a genealogical continuity. (Meyer testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. Not as defined by neo-Darwinism, no.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors?

A. I doubt it. (Menuge testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************************

Q. And I’m going to ask you first how old, in your opinion, is the world?

A. I’m going to answer like Dr. Sanford earlier, I would say between probably a lot younger than most people think.

Q. That doesn’t say anything to me. What is your opinion in years the age of the earth?

A. I’m fine with 5,000 to 100,000.

Q. You’re fine with 5,000 to 100,000?

A. Correct. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Some of the witnesses, on the other hand, recognized the danger in the tactic that Irigonegaray was pursuing, and tried to evade the question, with some still leaving a crack open for a young earth. Indeed, the Board members also saw the danger in it, and promptly “reminded” one of the witnesses that they didn’t have to answer any questions:

Q. In your opinion, your personal opinion, what is the age of the earth?

A. Do you want my personal– why are you asking me about my personal–

Q. You’re here to answer my questions. First of all, what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I understood I was being called as an expert witness.

Q. What is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I’m unclear. I understand–

Q. The question is simple. What is, in your opinion, the age of the earth?

A. Well, I’m just wanting to clarify the ground rules here. I thought I was being called as an expert witness, so why are you asking me about my personal–

Q. That’s not the issue. Now, please answer my question. What is your personal–

A. I would like to understand the ground rules first. Why am I being asked about–

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Mr. Chairman, if he’s not going to answer my questions, I’d ask that his testimony be stricken from the record.

A. I’m happy to answer your question. I’d like to know why you’re asking about–

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) The “why” is not for you to determine….

A. You would like me to cooperate with that?

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: You can either answer “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know,” or whatever you want to do, but that– yes, I’d like you to cooperate.

A. It’s a transparently obvious strategy to impeach the credibility of your witnesses, but I will cooperate. So my answer to your question, Pedro, is that I– my personal opinions and my professional opinions are the same. I think the earth is 4.6 billion years old. I think the universe is–

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) No, just the earth. I didn’t ask you about the universe.

A. My opinion of–

Q. Mr. Meyer, please just answer my question. I’m not asking you other opinions.

MR. SISSON: I’d simply request to make a point here, ask the Chairman if I may make a point. Mr. Chairman, would you instruct the witness that there is no subpoena power here and that he is under no compulsion to answer and he would suffer no penalty if he chose to decline to answer.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: He can answer the questions to his extent. However, we would like you to answer them.

A. Does that mean I can say something else about the age of the earth?

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: Mr. Irigonegaray is going to ask the questions that he thinks important and he may repeat the question. And he will ask– my guess is it will be a yes or a no answer or some side of an answer like that. If you feel comfortable answering that, say “yes,” or if you don’t know, say you don’t know, whatever it is. I mean, be truthful and answer however you feel comfortable answering.

A. Right. But may I say anything more about the age of the earth, then?

Q. (BY MR. IRIGONEGARAY) I’m the one asking questions here, Mr. Meyer, and all you need to do is to answer my question.

A. Okay. I think the age of the earth is 4.6 billion years old. That’s both my personal and my professional opinion. I speak as someone who is trained as a geophysicist–

Q. I’m not asking you about that. I just asked you for a number, and you have given it to me.

A. Okay. That’s all you want is the number?

Q. My questions are pretty clear, Mr. Meyer. (Meyer testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. I’d like to ask you for the record, first, can you tell us how old you believe the earth is?

A. I don’t know. I think it’s probably really old.

Q. How old is really old?

A. I don’t really know.

Q. You have no idea how old the earth is?

A. There’s theories around that the earth is 10,000ish years old. There are theories around that it is four billion years old. If it was a multiple choice test and I only had two choices and I couldn’t check “I don’t know,” and I wanted to get credit for the question, I’d check old.

Q. I understand, sir. But in all the work you have done, in all the research that you have done, in all your experience to this day you still don’t have an opinion as to how old the earth is?

A. I have an opinion, I just don’t really know. My opinion is it’s probably fourish billion years old.

Q. Four billion years old. All right. (Harris testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Doctor Wells, do you have a personal opinion as to how old the earth is?

A. I think the earth is probably four-and-a-half billion or so years old. But I’ll tell you this, I used to– I would have said, a few years ago, I’m convinced it’s four-and-a-half billion years old. But the truth is I have not looked at the evidence. And I have become increasingly suspicious of the evidence that is presented to me and that’s why at this point I would say probably it’s four-and-a-half billion years old, but I haven’t looked at the evidence. (Wells testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. I have a few questions that I want to ask you for the record. First, what is your opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. I really don’t have an opinion.

Q. You have no opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. Four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students.

Q. I’m asking what is your opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. ‘Um, I was asked to come out here to talk about my experiences as a high school biology teacher.

Q. I’m asking you, sir –

A. I was not under the impression that I was asked to come out here –

Q. I’m asking you –

A. – talking about –

Q. – sir, what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. Four– four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students, sir.

Q. That’s not my question. My question is, whatis your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. Again, I was under the impression to come out here and talk about my professional experience –

Q. Is there a difference?

A. – more of –

Q. Is there a difference between your personal opinion and what you teach students the age of the world is?

A. Four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students, sir.

Q. Is– my question is, is there a difference between your personal opinion and what you teach your students?

A. Again, you’re putting a spin on the question is– you know, now I’ll spin any answer, sir, to say that my opinion is irrelevant. Four to four point five billion years is what I teach my students.

Q. The record will reflect your answer. (Leonard testimony, Kansas Hearing transcript)

*************************************************

Q. What is your opinion as to the age of the earth?

A. In light of time I would say most of the evidence that I see, I read and I understand points to an old age of the earth.

Q. And how old is that age?

A. I don’t know. I just know what I read with regards to data. It looks like it’s four billion years.

Q. And is that your personal opinion?

A. No. My personal opinion is I really don’t know. I’m struggling.

Q. You’re struggling with what the age of the earth is?

A. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure. There’s a lot of ways to measure the age. Meteorites is one way. There’s a lot of elements used. There’s a lot of assumptions can be used and those assumptions can be challenged so I don’t really know.

Q. What is the range that you are instructing?

A. I think the range we heard today, somewhere between 5,000 and four billion.

Q. You– you– you believe the earth may be as young as 5,000 years old. Is that correct?

A. Well, we’re learning that there’s such a thing as junc –

Q. Sir, answer –

A. – really has a function.

Q. Just please answer my question, sir.

A. We’re learning a lot about micro –

Q. Sir?

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Mr. Abrams, please instruct the witness to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: I think –

Q. (By Mr. Irigonegaray) The question was– and winking at him is not going to do you any good. Answer my question. Do you believe the earth may be as young as 5,000 years old?

A. It could be. (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. The first thing I’d like to ask you is what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. I’m undecided.

Q. What is your best guess?

A. I’m totally undecided.

Q. Give me your best range.

A. Anywhere from 4.5 billion years to ten thousand years.

Q. And, of course, you have reached that conclusion based on the best scientific evidence available?

A. Yes. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. What is your personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I don’t know. And that’s my final answer.

Q. Do you have an opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I’m not giving an opinion.

Q. I didn’t hear you.

A. I am not giving an opinion.

Q. You don’t have any personal opinion as to what the age of the earth is?

A. I have no opinion. (Menuge testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

ID witness John Sanford declared that the age of earth was “maybe 10,000 years” but “not as young as 5,000”.

Every IDer I’ve ever heard of (and nearly all of those who “testified” at Kansas) accepts at MINIMUM characteristics 2 and 4, (Behe being the only exception to 4, and he has been waffling), nearly all of them accept 1 and (by rejecting “macroevolution”) 3, and a very large proportion of those who testified in Kansas either accepted 6 outright, or hemmed and hawed in an effort to avoid pissing off advocates of number 6. The Kansas Kangaroo Kourt didn’t ask about characteristic 5 (“Flood geology”), but it’s a certain bet that everyone who accepts 6 also accepts 5. As for 5 and 6, keep in mind that rejecting them does NOT mean that one is not a creationist — the old-earth creationists like Ross, for instance, reject them, and by no stretch of the imagination can they be considered anything other than creation “scientists”, as the Maclean decision applies to them.

These statements will kill them in court. They demonstrate with crystal clarity that ID is just creationism. And they cannot run away from it, hide it, or deny it.

Comment #56191

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 8:04 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #56202

Posted by jpd on November 9, 2005 8:58 PM (e)

Comment #56181
Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on November 9, 2005 07:35 PM (e) (s)

h brthr. ppl snd dmb mst f th tm, bt nvr qt s mch s whn g nt r chckn-lttl md. f D s mntnd n scnc clss, vn f t s “tght”, t wll hv n ffct. D thnk ths kds r stpd?

Gee, Heddle, that’s the most sensible thing I recall ever seeing from you. (snicker)

Dr. Lenny - EXCELLENT! I LOVE this comment! Heddle is such a smarmy toad, that this comment is ALMOST as good as the news from Dover!

Comment #56209

Posted by conspiracy theorists on November 9, 2005 9:49 PM (e)

weird_w wrote:

As I said earlier, I can easily prove that it can happen with ID as well— Just by sending a rocket with a soda can full of microbes to Europa.

How does transporting microbes from one place to another make them intelligently design? Do you fancy yourself the designer of these microbes because you’ve moved them? If so, a lot of living things here on earth are “intelligently designed” by your definition. A forrest near my house was once a farmer’s field. It was clear-cut and plowed about 80 years ago. I guess you think that all the trees that are there now were “intelligently designed” by the farmer that cleared the field.

Comment #56217

Posted by morbius on November 9, 2005 11:11 PM (e)

The material model is the familiar one based on space, time, mass, energy, etc.

“etc” is not fixed. If our models were limited to the “familiar” then we would never enlarge our models. And if you want to so restrict “material” to current models, then the “definition” of natural as material is simply invalid.

I can imagine all kinds of possible observations that would be labeled unexplainable by the material model (but not necessarily “scientifically unexplainable”). Example:

A psychic talks to a dead person who tells him that Usama Bin Laden is living at 6969 69th Avenue in Manhattan. The FBI go there and arrest him.

What is a “psychic”? You need some sort of model before you can use the term. And if a person “tells” someone something, the person is not dead – not according to our current model of “dead”. And the FBI going to some address and finding UBL is not at all inconsistent with material models. There could be numerous channels by which the FBI learned of the location that aren’t spelled out in the description, or they could just be lucky; even highly unlikely occurrences aren’t “unexplainable”, due to the uncertain nature of empirical epistemology. This claim of not being materially explainable bears an unfortunate resemblance to Targ & Putoff’s argumentum ad ignorantiam regarding Uri Geller, with a heavy dose of question begging thrown in.

Comment #56230

Posted by Robert Green on November 10, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

apologies for going slightly off topic, but…

i want to thank the posters on this board for being so damn articulate and intelligent. it gives someone like me, smart but with limited hard science knowledge, a great deal of succor and hope that people are out there fighting the rigorous scientific fight, and not resting on laurels. asshats like Wierd_w are at their core disingenuous, so taking them on must be tiring and frustrating (as one suspects is the point–these days blogs are filled with people with professional agendas, shall we say, commenting in support of lead paint or asbestos standards or ID–pretty much anyone with an axe to grind and some cash behind them is doing so). bless you for doing so.

the saddest thing for me is to imagine what it does to the real area of importance in scientific research and debate–the fact that there are ongoing and quite brutal battles of interpretation of data as that data comes in. in that ferment are born many of the great ideas that make it possible for us all to enjoy most of what we enjoy. yet IDers insist that science is “closed off to debate” and use terms like “dogma” and the like to (reverse judo chop!) make science seem like…religion. but in a bad way. because, confusingly, they are mostly extremely religious. maybe someone can enlighten me on that aspect of their argument, because i still can’t parse it. point is, idiots now believe that evolution is some dogmatic thing, instead of a set of principles that are ever battled-tested by constant empirical research. they get science exactly 180 degrees wrong, and people believe them.

sorry so discursive, it’s why i’m NOT a scientist. but, again, reading this comment field has been like diving into a good novel, and i’m thankful to all involved, even vowel-light Heddie, for that.

Comment #56248

Posted by Russell on November 10, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

Janet Waugh, one of the four intelligent members of the board, put it well: “This is a sad day. We’re becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that.”

Just in case anyone doubted that, Kansas and this whole neo-creo debacle was brought up on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” last night. In a segment called “All you need to know”, Colbert said about Kansas science students: “Not much.”

Comment #56285

Posted by Madam Pomfrey on November 10, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

Greetings to all. I’ve been following the Dover trial, and PT, for some time but am a first-time poster. I’ve truly enjoyed reading the posts here and like Robert, am heartened that so many here are standing up for science and reason – and that you have well-tuned baloney detectors!

Throwing my two cents in as a physical chemist doing research in quantum theory: “molecular complexity” seems counterintuitive and “unlikely” from a macro-perspective, which the IDers love because they equate perceived improbability with design. But atomic and molecular interactions are governed by quantum mechanics and its associated laws of atomic and subatomic physics, which underlie and explain a great deal of this so-called complexity. Of course we don’t know everything about how atoms interact, which is why those of us in the business can’t wait to get up and head for the lab every morning – there’s always something new and fascinating and unexpected about this universe, just waiting to be discovered, and ID on the other hand is a flat, dead end: why bother, because we can just say it’s too tough for us to figure out, and was therefore “designed.” What a waste.

The most shocking thing Behe said during his Dover testimony, amid all the other distortions and mischaracterizations, was that “all science is appearances.” I can’t imagine how a real scientist could ever make this claim. Someone’s perception means absolute zilch unless it’s backed up by testable evidence and data. If scientists really believed it was all appearances, we would never have come up with quantum theory – peculiar, counterintuitive, bizarre, makes no sense on the macro level – but it works.

Lenny, you are awesome :-)

Madam P

Comment #56303

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 10, 2005 3:23 PM (e)

maybe someone can enlighten me on that aspect of their argument, because i still can’t parse it.

the reason you can’t parse it is that, like most adults who are rational, you left the “I know you are but what am I” argument behind in elementary school.

sarcasm aside, the idea of projecting the negative attributes in one’s own argument on to those of your opponent is a common, tho cheesy, debating tactic. Unfortunately, this tactic has worked wonders in politcal arenas for decades, and the IDiots have simply taken up a proven strategy.

Comment #56367

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 10, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

Lenny, you are awesome :-)

Awwww, shucks … (blushes)

I’ve been a grassrooots organizer for a long long time, and know a few helpful things about it. And of course I find it tremendously entertaining to kick asses when the asses deserve it. ;)

But, truthfully, when it comes to science, I’m but a rank amateur. Next to people like Wesley, Gary, PZ and others, I am but a lowly little undergrad student sitting at the teacher’s knee.

Comment #56368

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 10, 2005 7:15 PM (e)

The most shocking thing Behe said during his Dover testimony, amid all the other distortions and mischaracterizations, was that “all science is appearances.” I can’t imagine how a real scientist could ever make this claim.

It’s actually just a continuation of an old old creationist argument (just like all the *other* ID arguments are). Decades agho, ICR and AIG were arguing loudly and longly that science was “just another religion”, no better than any other. Hence, the argument goes, there is no reason to prefer science over any other “philosophy”.

The more arguments ID presents, the more clearly we can see that they are nothing more than the same old creationist wine in a shiny new bottle (with a deceptive label).

I’ve not seen any ID argument, not a single one, that isn’t based on decades-old creation “science” boilerplate. (shrug)