Richard B. Hoppe posted Entry 1745 on December 7, 2005 12:12 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1740

In an unsurprisingly ill-informed column in USA Today, top banana Cal Thomas and second banana Bob Beckel, doing their version of Laurel and Hardy, made a proposal:

Cal: Some Christians are trying to water down what they really believe for the wrong reasons. It would be better for them to exit the government schools so they can teach their beliefs without compromise. For those who remain — like you — and want intelligent design taught alongside evolution, why not have a series of televised debates so the public could make up its own mind?

Bob: That’s a start. The scientific community has gone out of its way to depict intelligent design as a religious view. Most people have no idea that serious scientists believe there is a strong case for intelligent design. These scientists have been denied a forum, and a series of public debates would be educational and give the intelligent design researchers a chance to tell their side.

Cal: Surely C-SPAN would carry the debate if the scientists were prominent enough. Anyone opposing the debate would be rightly labeled a censor and anti-academic freedom. That should make the liberals choke. Sound like a good idea to you, Bob (except the part about choking liberals)?

Bob: I’m all for it. I just wonder if the Darwinists will show up.

Cal: Maybe we can offer them some bananas as an incentive. As they eat them, they can contemplate their heritage.

They’re answered in a letter in today’s USA Today:

Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel propose a public debate on the scientific merits of intelligent design, and Beckel wonders whether “the Darwinists will show up.”

You bet we will! In fact, we’ll host.

We challenge the top “intelligent-designists” to a debate of the scientific evidence for intelligent design, to be held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland the first week of January.

“Doubting Thomas” Cal’s nihilistic suggestion to subject the Bible to scientific analysis is too big a project for this event, but an hour or so sounds like just about how long it should take to dispatch any scientific claims for intelligent design.

The question is, will the designists show? Calls go out every day to present scientific data at scientific conferences. The designists are always busy that decade. Meanwhile, the scientific data supporting evolution continue to pour in on a daily basis and produce spinoff applications that create new medicine, more productive crops, cleaner water and better living for billions of people worldwide.

The Darwinists show up to work every day in thousands of labs around the globe. Mr. Thomas and Mr. Beckel, your guys are the ones who don’t show.

January. Cleveland. The “science” of ID. Put up or shut up.

Patricia Princehouse, Department of Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

Note that the offer is to host a debate on the scientific evidence for intelligent design. Not evolution bashing, not ID of the gaps, but actual affirmative evidence, if any there be, for intelligent design in biology. Wonder if the ID creationists will shake themselves free from the Disco Institute labs in which they’re beavering away at the ID research program and show up.

RBH

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Comment #61750

Posted by evan.yeung on December 7, 2005 12:33 AM (e)

Man, am I looking forward to this one!

Thank you, Dr. Princehouse, for throwing down the gauntlet!

Comment #61751

Posted by Norman Doering on December 7, 2005 12:33 AM (e)

Oh, and you must invite Cal Thomas! I’d like to see him debate someone like Richard Dawkins…

Comment #61753

Posted by RBH on December 7, 2005 12:46 AM (e)

We don’t have Dawkins lined up, but should some legit ‘top’ IDists show up, there will be legit science-type heavyweights there ready to critically analyze the ID “theory” and “evidence” (if any) that’s offered.

I should remark that “top intelligent-designists” does not include folks like Jerry Bergman or Carl Baugh. :)

RBH

Comment #61755

Posted by Michael Balter on December 7, 2005 12:55 AM (e)

I am pleased to see one of the planks of my much-maligned Los Angeles Times editorial, national televised debates, so enthusiastically endorsed here on Panda’s Thumb!

Comment #61757

Posted by RBH on December 7, 2005 1:14 AM (e)

Mr. Balter,

PT is not a monolith. Read the disclaimer on the home page.

RBH

Comment #61759

Posted by Michael Balter on December 7, 2005 1:58 AM (e)

PT is not a monolith

Absolutely agreed, RBH. PT is a terrific place for debate and information, and that’s why I continue to hang out.

Comment #61760

Posted by The Rev. Schmitt. on December 7, 2005 1:58 AM (e)

I can’t imagine any Intelligent Design proponents who show up sticking to the letter of the debate, and they’ll invariably whinge about restrictions to their freedom when the moderator tries to force them to actually stick to the topic. They’re purebred showboaters who for a decade have been making money entirely from their ability to fight science with rhetoric; dismantling the rubbish they’ll come up with is going to require far more time than it took for them to make it up and to the layperson they’re simply going to sound more convincing than the evidence actually suggests. Thomas and Beckel confused matters enough by pretending televised debates take precedence over empirical experimentation, research, usefulness and prediction, and this is only going to reinforce that common belief. It’s going to give a false sense of how science is practised. Princehouse is playing on their non scientific turf and giving them equal time, granting them (and the ‘controversy’) a sense of legitimacy they do not deserve and have not earned.

I think this is an extremely bad idea.

-The Rev. Schmitt.

Comment #61761

Posted by The Rev. Schmitt. on December 7, 2005 2:02 AM (e)

Pardon me, that should be Dr Princehouse.

-The Rev. Schmitt.

Comment #61765

Posted by k.e. on December 7, 2005 2:38 AM (e)

yeah Balter GREAT idea

The debate of the Century

Roll-up roll-up

In the Blue Corner a Lady Scientist with the Truth
in the Red Corner Gorgeous George in Tight Spandex a Bible in one hand a Cross in the other frothing at the mouth.

Debating ….wait for it…..UFOs vs Science

Gorgeous George dances around waving his arms and wrestles the Lady Scientist to the ground end of debate.

No one hears a word different to their own fixed view of the world and those watching remain convinced the other side is wrong.

Everyone agrees Gorgeous George looked …..well Gorgeous and the Lady Scientist looked smug because SHE thought SHE won the debate and anyone who looks smug *must* be up to no good.

Surveys afterwords indicate more than 30% of people still believe in UFOs and the other 70% complain the debate did not according to plan.

Meanwhile the airwaves light up with both sides claiming victory.

Has it happened before ?

Just about every *political* debate in recent history would seem to indicate this is the natural result of *political* debates.

MB go have a look at the creo websites and their view of the complete destruction of Behe’s daydream on the witness stand in, not an equal time for Truth vs Magic, but several days of teasing out each thread from the veil of obscuration.And they still ALL thought he won.

And while you are at it you might like to explain why you won’t print all the facts behind the DI

Comment #61771

Posted by Renier on December 7, 2005 3:21 AM (e)

I agree with The Rev. Schmitt that this is a VERY bad idea.

Remember, it takes one IDiot to make a distorted “scientific” claim that sounds good to uneducated people, and it takes a true scientist hours to explain why the claim is false. One does not have the time and the ability to go into the detail, as is often needed, to rebut the lies that IDiots/Creationists make. Go over the www.infidels.org and have a look at past debates. I can assure you they (ID) will be using dishonest Gish tactics.

Comment #61772

Posted by Registered User on December 7, 2005 3:39 AM (e)

RBH

Note that the offer is to host a debate on the scientific evidence for intelligent design. Not evolution bashing, not ID of the gaps, but actual affirmative evidence, if any there be, for intelligent design in biology.

I assume that by “actual affirmative evidence for intelligent design” you mean affirmative evidence for the past existence of mysterious aliens with deity-like powers who intentionally effected changes in the genetic material of every species that ever lived on earth.

If that is made clear to the participants and the debate is refereed diligently to avoid the use of false dichotomy argumentation, then the “debate” would be a real hoot (which is to say, the ID schmucks would have nothing to say).

But remember that there are masters of “street theatre” out there ready to make a monkey out of novices like, uh, that journalist dude who hangs out here, if the opportunity presents itself.

I still recommend the question/answer session and final remarks section of the American Enterprise Institute videos if anyone wants to see the difference between honest honorable men like Ken Miller and sleaze artists like the DI gang.

Comment #61776

Posted by Antiquated Tory on December 7, 2005 5:33 AM (e)

Well, it’s an invitation to present the evidence for ID. And it’s hosted by a University. So they could follow normal academic procedure and set forth guidelines for topics, request submissions in advance, etc.

Of course, then the ID people will shout that the Biologists ‘fixed’ the match by requiring them to present positive evidence, and these requirements have no objective basis but stem from a naturalistic and materialistic world-view. They can counter that 1)the problems with natural selection and 2)’common sense’ inference are enough to support the existence of some form of ID mechanism, even if the exact nature of that mechanism can never be discovered, but ‘evolutionists’ are too narrow-minded to accept such arguments as proof.

Or something like that.

Comment #61777

Posted by Supreme Martian Overlord on December 7, 2005 5:57 AM (e)

I think most people fighting against ID are making a grave error, you need to fight fire with fire. If most people will be swayed by rhetoric rather than fact then give them rhetoric, rhetoric backed up by fact. This isn’t a war fought in scientific argument and the wedge strategy pretty much spells that out. This is a fight for popular belief in the cultural arena and it will have to be fought with spin and media savvy. They are betting that if enough of the general populace buy it they will win.

Get some expert debators rather than just expert biologists, ground them in the facts and implications then have them take on the ID proponents in the same way the ID’ers are trying to infiltrate popular conciousness. The way I see it this is the only way to defeat this particular Shibboleth. Sure in the long run you want to encourage everyone to adopt critical thinking, to learn about logical fallacies and to accept facts rather than mythology but until then you have to ensure they don’t give up on logic and reason all together and to do that you must craft counter arguements that will be instantly seen as logical and reasonable to the common man.

Comment #61781

Posted by RupertG on December 7, 2005 7:08 AM (e)

Hey, if you want to do it properly, _use_ the medium.

Discovery Institute has, what, 28 papers on its list of peer-reviewed publications that might just have something to do with ID? And there are how many peer-reviewed papers on evolutionary theory? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Think what sort of animated graphic could be constructed to get that across in a flash. Ditto the Steves.

Think how much evidence there is for evolution: paleological, morphological, genetic… the whole TO stuff. Think how it all links together. Think how that might be turned into a compelling visual metaphor. Now think how much evidence there is for ID. They have a single metaphor - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/73/God2-Sistine_Chapel.png - which they can’t use anyway.

Or consider how evolutionary thought has grown since Darwin, all the fields it’s touched and informed. Evolutionary theory and practice is an extraordinarily rich and productive part of modern science: you can’t hope to explain that, but you can illustrate it.

R

Comment #61784

Posted by k.e. on December 7, 2005 7:30 AM (e)

Supreme Martian Overlord
That is a good point

But why stop there

Get right down into the swamp with them and pull ‘em out hold them up to the cold hard light of day and just keep showing what a bunch of lying disreputable and dishonorable scum they are.

Over to you Balter OR ARE YOU ONE OF THEM ?

Comment #61785

Posted by the pro from dover on December 7, 2005 7:31 AM (e)

As I have asserted before, Intelligent Design isn’t a scientific alternative to evolution; it is a metaphysical alternative to science. Science isnt something you “believe in”, it is something that you do. Most often it is something that you do for a living. The theory of evolution is attacked because it is the most “hated” scientific theory of importance. The “materialism” or “naturalism” involved in the day-to-day operation of any scientist’s job is a critical feature because it is a methodology that produces useful results. There is nothing in the realm of the scientific workplace that mandates athiesm or philosophical materialism on the part of the individual or institute involved. I am not sure how debating Intelligent Design is going to address this fundamental aspect of “what science is” in such a way as to preserve this now-crumbling key aspect of science education. Solving scientific issues by debate is exactly what Philip Johnson wants. This reminds me of the broadcasted debates in the ’50s between Fred Hoyle of the Steady State and George Gamow of the Big Bang. Hoyle “won” the debates not on substance but on personality just like our Presidential debates. He was glib and British while Gamow was tentative and Russian. At least he won until Edwin Hubble came along making it all moot. Now it’s come to our lawyers vs. their lawyers, and I agree don’t send a biologist to debate a lawyer. About anything.

Comment #61786

Posted by GT(N)T on December 7, 2005 7:34 AM (e)

I’m not sure what the objective would be of such a debate. Win over the hearts and minds of the great unwashed? Good luck. At the very best, all you can hope is to show the rare well-educated individual who has been duped into beleiving ID is legitimate science, that it is instead one more iteration of creationism. Maybe that’s enough. On the other hand, you risk further legitimizing ID in the minds of those, like Cal Thomas and President Bush, who ought to know better.

Comment #61789

Posted by Renier on December 7, 2005 8:05 AM (e)

Anyone for a trip down memory lane?

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ken_saladin/saladin-gish2/index.shtml

Comment #61790

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 7, 2005 8:08 AM (e)

Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel propose a public debate on the scientific merits of intelligent design

There has already been one. It was called “Kitzmiller v Dover”.

It’s the only “debate” that counts.

Any other is a waste of time.

Comment #61797

Posted by steve s on December 7, 2005 8:33 AM (e)

Cal: What has been set up is a false premise: that the Bible and science are in conflict and that nothing in Scripture can be tested scientifically. That is just not true. But when God asks Job — “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” — the question should make scientists humble about their certainties concerning the origins of the earth and of human life.

Bob: There you go again mixing science with the Bible. We both want to see intelligent design introduced into the scientific debate. Can’t we leave the Bible out of this while we’re trying to convince the public that this is a debate about science? It’s a means-ends issue, Cal.

Dear Mr. Beckel. Please read about creationism since the 80’s. Then you will understand that the whole point of Intelligent Design is to pretend the bible’s not the point. Also, you will understand that Intelligent Design is legally doomed, because its advocates can’t go five minutes without bringing up religion.

Sincerely,
Steve S

Comment #61798

Posted by steve s on December 7, 2005 8:40 AM (e)

RupertG, you have a good point, and it lends itself to a simple slogan. “The sistine chapel is pretty, but it’s not science.”

Comment #61803

Posted by improvius on December 7, 2005 9:08 AM (e)

I agree with Lenny. Who needs a debate? Just go through the Dover trial records to find out the truth on the matter. That and the Kansas hearings should be enough for anyone.

Comment #61804

Posted by Mark on December 7, 2005 9:10 AM (e)

Western culture has benefited in countless ways from science and the scientific method - technology, medicine, agriculture, and so on. Compare our modern societies to others that have not been able to develop a science-orientated and technologically-based culture (or have been forbidden to carry out science) and you will see the obvious truthfulness of this statement.

I feel confident that most people in the US and other technologically advanced countries would also agree that science has benefited Western society in innumerable ways (I don’t mean to ignore third world countries that have also benefited from science and technology, but I’m trying to draw a distinction here). However, I often wonder how concerned the average person on the street is about the current Evolution vs. ID debate, since most people likely have other (more pressing) priorities in their lives: raising children, earning enough money to put food on the table, paying the rent or mortgage, and so on. A public debate of Evolution vs. ID is not going to change this, unless we are able to draw a connection between Joe Average’s personal life and direct benefits he gains from science and research (and ultimately, the scientific method which is the foundation of scientific research). In order to make such a connection, the general public must either have, or be provided with, the necessary tools and knowledge, which I believe, are currently insufficient. Most people probably make a vague connection here and there, but nothing that would motivate them to passionately embrace the true (some would say, magnificent), power of science and the scientific method.

Look …. in time, ID will transform into some other beast and the whole problem will begin somewhere else, again! We need a strategy to deal with this constantly changing beast, not just ID by itself.

Overhauling the educational curriculum from bottom to top (grades 1 - 12) is one solution (a daunting task, to say the least). Right from the first grade, our educators need to focus much more on all the sciences, the scientific method, and critical thinking skills (all the way to grade 12 - especially on fundamental scientific principles). I’m not an educator, so don’t ask me how this would be done, but wouldn’t you agree that this seems to be a reasonable suggestion? The cost may be staggering, but more importantly, is the public ready (or willing) for such an enormous undertaking and investment?

Our world is becoming more complicated and sophisticated in the 21st century. It will be to our advantage, indeed to the world’s advantage, to equip the next generation with the scientific knowledge and thinking skills necessary for future problem solving (hey, things are getting more complicated, not less complicated, e.g. global warming), making new discoveries, developing technological spin-offs, and developing new scientific theories. In this way, students with a more directed science education (compared to today’s h.s. graduates) will automatically reject superstition and myth using improved critical thinking skills while embracing logic and scientific reasoning. How else are we going to finally slay the ever-changing ID beast?

Comment #61806

Posted by MrDarwin on December 7, 2005 9:20 AM (e)

Actually, I would love to see a major biological or other scientific journal invite ID advocates to submit papers making their best case FOR “intelligent design” (or at least arguing how and why ID is real science), and for the same issue invite papers by anti-ID scientists explaining the major flaws of ID, i.e., why they think ID ISN’T science or can’t be scientifically tested. Then allow rebuttals of each paper by the other side and publish the whole thing in a special issue. (If this has already been done, somebody please point me to it.)

The main caveat would be that this issue isn’t about critiquing evolutionary theory, it’s about making the positive case FOR ID and saying how and why ID explains certain things better than evolutionary theory does. If the ID side does not provide actual data, they should at least be able to propose specific experiments or tests that would allow a truly scientific examination of ID, i.e., how ID hypotheses can be tested, what predictions they should make, and how they can be falsified.

Comment #61808

Posted by Dick Lessard on December 7, 2005 9:24 AM (e)

Cal Thomas wrote:

Cal: Maybe we can offer them some bananas as an incentive. As they eat them, they can contemplate their heritage

Aren’t these remarks just as disparaging and offensive (if not more so) than those by Paul Mirecki? Will we be seeing an apology from Cal Thomas, and a withdrawal of his debate proposal? I’m not holding my breath waiting for this. Apparently, ridiculing science supporters is perfectly O.K., but deriding religions supporters of ID is blasphemy!

Comment #61811

Posted by Russell on December 7, 2005 9:39 AM (e)

Aren’t these remarks just as disparaging and offensive (if not more so) than those by Paul Mirecki? Will we be seeing an apology from Cal Thomas…

Nah, let’s get a couple of lab-coated goons to ambush him and beat him severely with textbooks and lab equipment.

Comment #61818

Posted by PZ Myers on December 7, 2005 10:08 AM (e)

I’m curious to know how the requirement to present the evidence for ID will be enforced. I have never seen any of the big guns of ID explain such a thing – as you know, it’s all about whining about gaps in our knowledge – so they aren’t equipped to handle it.

If Mike Behe, for example, agrees to it, shows up, starts yammering about irreducible complexity, no evidence published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution, whining about Doolittle, and showing Gary Larson cartoons, will you have somebody with a hook drag him off the stage?

If Dembski were to go on and on about probability calculations showing that evolution is impossible, would there be buzzers? Would you turn off his microphone?

If Paul Nelson were to wave his arms about vitalism and Cambrian complexity, do you have a squad of ninjas who will leap unto the stage and practice a little kinbaku/shibari on the guy before hauling him away?

I think the idea of pinning these guys to the wall and demanding that they show the evidence in support of their hypothesis is a good one in principle, I just don’t know how you’ll carry it out in practice. I suspect that any that show up would just give the same ol’ predictable song-and-dance, our side will let them do it and declare afterwards that they failed to meet the challenge, while the IDists will simply declare victory and preen over the fact that they got invited to a university to make their case.

You need a strategy to enforce topicality if you’re going to do this. I don’t know how you’ll do it, since that kind of thing is well outside the usual bounds of academic discourse.

Comment #61819

Posted by Flint on December 7, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

Behe spent three days on the stand in Dover (well, Harrisburg) and when he finished, both the DI and the PT regulars were absolutely delighted that the other side had been clearly and publicly humiliated. And the core of that humiliation lay in the demonstration of lack of science/actual hard science behind ID. Number of minds changed: zero, to my knowledge.

If this Case Western debate takes place, the “winner” will depend on who reports (that is, gets to spin) how it went. In other words, the winner depends on which commentator can command the larger audience. Any actual content in the debate is pretty irrelevant, except where sound bites can be extracted from context.

Comment #61820

Posted by Mike on December 7, 2005 10:15 AM (e)

It is one thing for your “average” American to hear a brief description of ID and a few superficial arguments in its support and then, liking what he hears, decide to add it to his mental model of how everything works. ID does not contradict anything that he knows about the world (I’m talking about car salesmen here, not scholars) so he doesn’t see the need to bother himself with a critical evaluation of the premises and consequences; after all, he has more pressing matters to attend to.

A public debate, however, is another matter. If a public and critical examination of the premises and consequences takes place the public may start to realize that it doesn’t really fit in all that well with their theory of how everything works. After all, they like being able to go to the doctor and get a flu shot: that’s science that benefits them even if they haven’t bothered themselves with the details.

And perhaps the scientific community (vs IDers) should employ some inflammatory rhetoric and “gotchas”. I would never recommend that in a scientific debate, but this is not strictly a scientific debate. Keep in mind that your average American does not want to look like a fool nor look like he is aligned with fools.

Comment #61821

Posted by B. Spitzer on December 7, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

While I’m aware of the pitfalls involved with publicly debating IDers or other creationists, I find myself constantly thinking that scientists have got to do better PR for evolution unless they want the theory to remain a constant target of public skepticism or hostility.

Maybe what we need is professional scientists going out into the community and giving presentations on what evolutionary theory is and isn’t. I can see this filling an important need. Some parents are uneasy about what their kids may be learning in science class; some may be wondering how good the evidence is supporting evolution. Imagine Ph.D. biologists holding informal information sessions at local high schools, explaining to parents, students, and other interested members of the community exactly what the textbooks used in the local schools do and don’t teach. Imagine them fielding questions about why science works the way it does and defusing misconceptions about evolutionary theory.

Perhaps most importantly, imagine community members meeting evolutionary biologists personally and discovering that they aren’t monsters set on brainwashing their kids to become atheists. The face-to-face connection can dispel a lot of myths.

Is there some sort of information kit out there which explains to Ph.D. scientists how to productively meet with the public and explode the widespread misconceptions about evolution? If not, one should be put together, because every scientist in this country should be out meeting with their local community and trying to help folks understand what science is all about. There should be incentives in place to reward academics for this sort of outreach– or, at least, faculty should be rewarding their grad students for reaching out to the public.

I think this strategy has a lot going for it. It would get scientists out defending the theory of evolution to the audience that seems most concerned about it– parents of school-age children– without lending a soapbox to ID. It also need not come across as “proselytizing for evolution”, because answering parents’ questions about what evolutionary theory does and doesn’t teach, explaining what’s in the high school textbooks, and dispelling common myths about evolutionary theory is a genuine public service which parents and other members of the public would probably appreciate.

I’d be curious to hear from folks about whether a grass-roots outreach to local communities has been tried, and if people think it might be successful.

–Brian

Comment #61826

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 7, 2005 10:41 AM (e)

We challenge the top “intelligent-designists” to a debate

Did they invite Dembski? Has he demanded $200 per hour to show up (or not)?

Comment #61831

Posted by drtomaso on December 7, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

Patricia Princehouse-

While I really admire your cajones, you have forgotten one thing. The other side does not want scientific discourse. They want a stage- or more appropriately a pulpit. Your ‘debate’ plays right into their hands.

Here is what is going to happen. Your side will show up with a specific set of rules called the debate format. Their side will show up with a bunch of slides, strawman attacks on evolution, and absolutely zero will to follow the debate format. And unless you plan, as Dr Myers points out, to cut off their mic’s, which will make you look totalitarian, they will get away with forcing science on the defensive. There is no scientific theory that can be justified adequately in a debate format- it takes decades of experimentation and publication- thats the whole point.

Your audience will be made up of about 20% general students, 20% IDEA club members, 50% creationists from around the country, and 10% press.

No matter what is said, the IDiots will crow about their ‘victory’ at Case Western, and the public, unaware as always, will just see this as yet another example of how “serious scientists believe there is a strong case for intelligent design.”

All you will have accomplished is to add the words “Case Western” to the DI’s bullet points.

Comment #61833

Posted by Frank J on December 7, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

Isn’t Beckel a liberal Democrat, or am I confusing him with someone else?

Either way, it would not surprise me, just as it does not surprise me that many conservatives (Krauthammer, Will, etc.) defend evolution.

I’m not a fan of debates, because they “naturally” favor pseudoscience. But if it mist be, IDers must be demanded to say exactly what they think happened and when in biological history. E.g. is life billions of years old or not, related or not? Then they had better be demanded to detail exactly what the designer did, when, and to some degree of how, how and when they plan to test it all, and how it can be falsified.

Please, please, please do not let them get away with “evidence of design” or “evidence against ‘Darwinism’.” That should be an automatic forfeit.

Comment #61834

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 7, 2005 11:06 AM (e)

Wedge Document

FIVE YEAR OBJECTIVES

1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)

2. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)

3. One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

You’ll be giving them a big boost on point #1 (albeit 3 years late). They’re still a wee bit of point #3 though.

Comment #61839

Posted by JONBOY on December 7, 2005 11:18 AM (e)

I agree with Lenny,Many who accept the fact of Evolution cannot,however,on religious grounds accept blind chance, and the absence of a divine purpose.There is just no way to convince these people,no matter how compelling the facts may be.So can science and religion reach a common ground or at least agree to divide the fundamentals into mutually exclusive domains? I just dont see it happening,the lines were drawn years ago.The prolific advancements in science continues to widen, not close, the gap between science and religion. It is abundantly clear that ID is a default argument advanced in support of a non sequitur,the reasoning they offer is not based on evidence ,but on the lack of it.Debate may offer insight for some,but for others the stakes are simple much to high.

Comment #61840

Posted by frank schmidt on December 7, 2005 11:20 AM (e)

I think we can predict some of their “evidence for ID” talking points:

1. There is biologically relevant information in junk DNA sequences.
2. The Cambrian explosion (sic)
3. The chemical equivalence of amino acid D- and L- stereoisomers
4. The impossibility of specific polymerization reactions (“making DNA”) - oops that’s a negative.
5. The “fine-tuning” of the physical constants.

All of these can easily be refuted by evidence, so our side has to present the evidence. There undoubtedly will be more, but you can expect these.

Comment #61843

Posted by CBBB on December 7, 2005 11:33 AM (e)

5. The “fine-tuning” of the physical constants.

I don’t understand why IDist use this arguement. It has nothing to do with biology, they’re supposed to be trying to prove that biological life on Earth was designed not whether or not there’s a God.
If there’s some sort of supernatural power in the Universe it doesn’t follow that it specifically engineered life on Earth.

Comment #61844

Posted by CBBB on December 7, 2005 11:35 AM (e)

Isn’t Beckel a liberal Democrat, or am I confusing him with someone else?

Beckel is a “Fox News Liberal”.

Comment #61847

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 7, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

Beckel is a “Fox News Liberal”.

Correct. Which means his political opinions are about the same as, say, John McCain’s.

Comment #61850

Posted by BWE on December 7, 2005 11:48 AM (e)

The scientists could wear party hats and every time the creationists begin to speak, the evolutionists could push “Play” onm one of those old fashioned tape players where the buttons are in front of the cassette and the speaker is behind. The tape would be circus music. The audience could be salted with people who laugh really loud when the creationists finish their answers.

Even if it gave the evolutionists (I love that word, I feel like I am a part of a movement. That I have made some kind of internal moral decision and, due to that decision I am becoming an “evolutionist”) a bad rap, it would still be funny.

Comment #61851

Posted by Nat Whilk on December 7, 2005 11:49 AM (e)

CBBB wrote: “Beckel is a “Fox News Liberal”.

A Fox News Liberal who ran Mondale’s 1984 campagin. (Did Mondale perform so miserably because Beckel is a crypto-conservative who threw the election? Phone Oliver Stone!)

Comment #61857

Posted by Leon on December 7, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

The key is that nobody has to accept blind chance.

Evolution says that certain changes are apparently random–they look random as far as we can see with out mortal, fallible, limited eyes and equipment. There could well be a supernatural designer behind it all, but the changes look random to our eyes.

There’s nothing about evolution that necessarily excludes a designer. The theory simply explains how the designer has set up his creation to work. The whole “creationism OR atheism” mindset is such an obvious false dilemma, I’m surprised so many fall for it.

Comment #61858

Posted by Albion on December 7, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

I think it would be better if Beckel was to have another debate in USA Today, but this time with Ken Miller or some other theistic evolutionist who understands both the science and the theology. He needs to be called on this nonsense about how significant numbers of scientists believe evolution is too flawed to be true and that intelligent design is a scientifically viable alternative.

Comment #61861

Posted by AC on December 7, 2005 12:22 PM (e)

PZ, I recommend combining the options. A squad of ninjas should leap on stage, sever the mic cord with shurikens, and drag the offender away with hooks.

This spectacle would convince many viewers that ninjas are against ID, instantly winning us their support.

Comment #61869

Posted by Ian H Spedding on December 7, 2005 12:59 PM (e)

Forget the ninjas and mic cut-off, you need to make it more viewer-friendly.

Have the speakers stand on a trapdoor in the stage. A panel of adjudicators each has a button to press if they think the speaker is wandering off-topic. If a majority of the panel press their buttons, the trapdoor is sprung and the speaker gets dumped in a tub of sticky goo. That should concentrate their minds wonderfully.

Comment #61875

Posted by H. Humbert on December 7, 2005 1:08 PM (e)

The Pro from Dover said: “As I have asserted before, Intelligent Design isn’t a scientific alternative to evolution; it is a metaphysical alternative to science.”

I think that is perhaps the best single-sentence explanation of ID to date. Well said.

Comment #61877

Posted by Julie on December 7, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

In seriousness, if everyone’s determined to go through with this thing, the biologists need to have someone on board who has serious debate training – perhaps a trial lawyer, or else someone who has considerable experience with either electoral politics or competitive debate. Most biologists don’t have this kind of training or experience.

The problem is that neither truth nor sense is guaranteed to win debates. Debate skills win debates, and if you get into a debate with “cdesign proponentsists”, you also have to expect any real presentation skills of theirs to be puffed up by cheap theatrics. At the very least, get hold of some videotapes or transcripts of these people in action before facing them down.

My botany prof in grad school had an alternate recommendation regarding exactly this kind of situation: “Never get into a p***ing war with a skunk.”

Comment #61878

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 7, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

Z, I recommend combining the options. A squad of ninjas should leap on stage, sever the mic cord with shurikens, and drag the offender away with hooks.

Less of the violent imagery, please. I know you wouldn’t follow through, but in the wake of the Mirecki beating there’s no need to had ammunition to anyone on the other side who would say, “See? They’d do it too if they could get away with it”.

Comment #61879

Posted by dogscratcher on December 7, 2005 1:15 PM (e)

I tend to agree with drtomaso: the audience of this “debate” will think their side won despite any evidence to the contrary. In my (vast) experience with debates, the veracity of a position is not measured, only rhetorical skill of the debators.

Comment #61883

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on December 7, 2005 1:26 PM (e)

Actually, I like the idea of controlling the mic level… but make it controlled by the audience. Give them those little feedback boxes, and instructions on the button to press if the current speaker is wandering away from a question. Tie the mic volume to an inverse of the number of audience members who say the speaker is going off-topic.

As for the audience, invite bunches of Center for Theology and Natural Sciences (CTNS) people to attend. That’s almost as rough an audience for ID advocates as CSICOP is.

Comment #61887

Posted by jfk on December 7, 2005 1:41 PM (e)

I love a debate, but I think it’s just more preaching to the choir. First, the nature of science and evolution are not topics that on many Americans have an impact that is either immediate or obvious. Second, the best definition of science remains “it’s what scientists do.” More sophisticated definitions are swell fun for debate by philosophers but scarcely succinct enough for somebody who just wants to know who they should believe.

Finally, and mostly, Newsweek said it all in their article about science versus religion when they quoted the American Mom who said she didn’t care what was right, she just “wanted her kids to go to heaven.”

Sugar coat it all you like for popular consumption, but while evolution may be compatible with religion (lower case “r”), it’s not compatible with the Bible.

Comment #61891

Posted by Mark Duigon on December 7, 2005 2:00 PM (e)

PZ wrote:

I’m curious to know how the requirement to present the evidence for ID will be enforced. I have never seen any of the big guns of ID explain such a thing — as you know, it’s all about whining about gaps in our knowledge — so they aren’t equipped to handle it.

This is the sort of thing that is needed. I would add a siren, a flashing red light, and a booming voice-over saying “That’s not the topic of this debate!” Plus a bear juggling some fish, crossing the stage. The point would be to show that the IDers cannot address the issue, i.e., scientific support for ID, and done so in a way that would make certain that the audience would actually see and remember how frequently ID proponents duck the responsibility of presenting scientific evidence for their position by changing the subject.

Comment #61903

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 7, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

Maybe set off a firecracker every time someone mentions the Big Bang.

Comment #61905

Posted by qetzal on December 7, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

I agree with PZ Myers - I’m not at all convinced you can force ID proponents to stay on topic.

Here’s my best suggestion: tell the ID proponents that to participate, they must first provide a written abstract of the evidence for ID that they plan to defend.

Emphasize that this must be evidence for ID, not simply criticisms of evolution. Make them commit in writing to confine their presentations to the arguments and evidence outlined in their abstract.

I’m not actually optimistic that this would work, but it’s the best I have to offer.

Comment #61906

Posted by Grey Wolf on December 7, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

Sugar coat it all you like for popular consumption, but while evolution may be compatible with religion (lower case “r”), it’s not compatible with the Bible.

On the contrary, not just evolution but all of science is compatible with the Bible, just as long as you don’t insist in a literal reading of the Bible (i.e. don’t make the Bible say anything on topics beyond its competence, like geology, physics, mathematics, etc. - in fact, it works both ways, since you shouldn’t actually try to use science to prove the existance/absence of God).

People tend to forget, but the whole literal reading of the Bible is quite a modern view of it - a Christian Protestant view, IIRC. In general, christians tend to see the Bible as a path to salvation, God, goodness, etc., and none of those actually require a history/general science book -so even if it gets every detail of past history and biology wrong, it could still be a path to the True God.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #61909

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 7, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

People tend to forget, but the whole literal reading of the Bible is quite a modern view of it - a Christian Protestant view, IIRC.

You may recall that the Holy Roman Catholic Church suppressed efforts to translate the Bible into local languages. Following that up with some analysis would take us off topic.

Comment #61922

Posted by Ron Zeno on December 7, 2005 3:52 PM (e)

As many are saying, a debate is exactly what the Incompetent Design Creationists want - a venue to give them the appearance of credibility.

If you want to fight a propaganda war, remember to the IDCists it’s all about religion and politics. An effective response would be to present science in religious venues - assist religious authorities in presenting how they support science, while educating people what science and evolution is. Keep it positive, interesting, relevant, and familiar. Don’t discuss IDC, creationism, etc other than point out that there is no scientific evidence yet supporting those positions.

Comment #61940

Posted by Randy on December 7, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Grey Wolf wrote:

People tend to forget, but the whole literal reading of the Bible is quite a modern view of it - a Christian Protestant view, IIRC.

Aaarghh! No, no, no! The notion that the Bible should be taken literally was the position espoused by one sect, out of 450 or so flavors of Christianity, in the second, third, and early fourth centuries, CE. That sect, which we now know as the Roman Catholic Church, particularly opposed the Gnostics whom, apparently, could find allegorical tales in donkey droppings just as well as Genesis. But, as Bayesian says, I’m going off the deep end…
Randy

Comment #61942

Posted by Norman Doering on December 7, 2005 5:43 PM (e)

Grey Wolf wrote:

…so even if it gets every detail of past history and biology wrong, it could still be a path to the True God.

The same could be said for Greek mythology, the Analects of Confucius,
the I Ching, the Sutras and Suttas of Buddhism, Hinduism’s Veda and Bhagavad Gita, the Urantia Book, Zoroastrianism’s Zend-Avesta, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and even Dick and Jane readers.

How do you distinguish a path to god from a path to madness and delusion?

Comment #61944

Posted by Richard Simons on December 7, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

Basically I am not in favour of a debate. However, if one is going to take place, it seems to me that the anti-ID side should identify every lie, contradiction and prevarication made by IDers and really hammer them home. That ID completely fails to make any predictions is likely to carry less weight with most of the audience.

Comment #61945

Posted by improvius on December 7, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

People won’t go to this hypothetical debate seeking the truth. They will go there to see their side win. The leaders of the radical religious right have already galvanized their followers against “liberal intellectualism”. They are like wrestling fans - they want their side to win, and if they have to break rules in the process, that just makes it even better. These debates would be a joke. Our best bet is to simply keep teaching science in science classes, no matter how much the fundies complain. Since they aren’t likely to get science degrees in college, they won’t be teaching biology classes any time soon.

Comment #61946

Posted by guthrie on December 7, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

OK, so we’ve heard from those who reckon the debate will be misused and twisted by ID supporters using debating tactics rather than science tactics. I think it only fair to invite those who think debates like this are a good idea to suggest how they will get round the expected tricks. Which will likely require careful preparation.

One thing I think is necessary, is to lay the groundwork by the most strenuous explanations of what “science” is, how it is done etc, long before the actual debate. An emphasis on experiment and testing is desirable, such that it is easy to show that the ID crowd have no evidence and no desire to test their ideas. Furthermore ways have to be found to explain complex ideas and evidence such that ID’ers can’t interrupt, and that are easily accessible to people. Which I am sure many of you have done and are doing repeatedly when necessary.

On the other hand I dont expect any debate to change many peoples minds. All I expect it to do is provide publicity for everyone, and at best, sway a few fence sitters, in part simply because the scientists should be putting up a principled and reasoned fight, rather than any considerations of them actually being right.

Comment #61947

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 7, 2005 6:00 PM (e)

Here’s a trend I would like to see in ID vs. evolution debates:

Since ID, like Creation Science before it, consists nearly exclusively of bad negative arguments against evolutionary theory that rely upon mischaracterizations of the claims of the theory, why don’t we make them state (a la a deposition) just what it is they think they’re arguing against?

It’s too easy for them to erect a straw man in the first minute of a debate and then proceed to go all flying monkey over it for the remainder of the time. I think we need to get across to the undecided segments of the public that the opposition can’t even charitably represent the claims of modern theoretical biology, that they need to poison the well for their argument to even begin.

Comment #61948

Posted by Russell on December 7, 2005 6:03 PM (e)

I heard a radio debate a few years ago between Dr. Princehouse and Doug Rudy, one of Ohio’s most prominent ID-pushers.

I suppose creationist listeners would not agree with me that she mopped the floor with him [she did], but he was forced to admit that ID is “not ready for primetime” (I’m paraphrasing; I don’t remember the exact words).

Comment #61949

Posted by Bulman on December 7, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

Why can’t we do a egg commercial? Like the great “This is your brain…”

A woman with wispy, growing back from chemo type hair walks onto the set pushing a casket on wheels…

“This woman had her breast cancer treated by doctors and science…the woman in the casket did not.”

cue “The More You Know” logo…fade to black

I think that would work better than a debate.

Comment #61952

Posted by John Marley on December 7, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

This may not be exactly the right place for this, but:

I don’t think there can ever be a meaningful debate between ID (Religion) and TOE (Science). Religion is based on faith. There is a scripture. There are prophets. Knowledge is complete and has been for 2000 years. Science is based on reason. No scripture. No prophets. The two are completely opposite. This is easy to see. I can’t count the number of times I have heard, “Darwin said …” Or, “Even Darwin didn’t know …” Someone needs to point out to these people that Origins isn’t our bible, and Darwin isn’t our messiah. How many biologists have read Origins at all, let alone as anything more than a historical text. Origins is no more necessary to biology than Newton’s Principia is to physics. Fundies and IDiots (is there a difference) don’t seem to realize that. But apparently scientists don’t see that either. The bible (to them) is infallible. Douglas Adams said it best:

[W]here it is inaccurate, it is at least definitively inaccurate. In all cases of major discrepancy, it is reality that has got it wrong

Comment #61954

Posted by steve s on December 7, 2005 6:59 PM (e)

LOL john.

Not only is it a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly
successful one - more popular than the Celestial Home Care
Omnibus, better selling than Fifty More Things to do in Zero
Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of
philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of
God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?

Comment #61955

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 7, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

I think there is a substantial segment of the general population that neither believes that the bible is inerrant, or understands science very well.

Many of these people are vaguely sympathetic to ID as an idea, on grounds of “fairness,” or a dimly understood concept of “open inquiry.”

I believe, tentatively, that properly formatted debates might just convince a lot of these people that the IDers are playing on their ignorance, and trying to unfairly insinuate their program into the academy without doing the hard work of research and publication review that every other scientific idea in the history of rational inquiry has had to undergo.

The fundies, as Mr. Marley points out, will never be convinced.

Comment #61956

Posted by steve s on December 7, 2005 7:19 PM (e)

How could anyone believe a 1,000 page book has no errors? It’s illogical.

Comment #61958

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

Also, you will understand that Intelligent Design is legally doomed, because its advocates can’t go five minutes without bringing up religion.

As I’ve always said – but am always happy to say again :> – the fundies are their own worst enemies. For anti-evolutionism in any form to win, they MUST, absolutely MUST, keep quiet, indefinitely, about the one thing that matters most to them in the whole world – their religious opinions.

They can’t do it. They don’t WANT to do it.

As the Dover Dolts and the Kansas Kooks demonstrate, all you gotta do is just let the fundies talk long enough, and they shoot themselves in the head, every single time. (shrug)

Comment #61963

Posted by John Marley on December 7, 2005 8:03 PM (e)

When has logic ever had anything to do with religious fundamentalism?

Comment #61964

Posted by steve s on December 7, 2005 8:05 PM (e)

Boy, wouldn’t you love to have transcripts of the founding meeting of the Discovery Institute?

“Man, creationism is right out.”
“I know. What can we do?”
“Those guys were rubes. Of course they got banned. They went in swinging bibles and talking about genesis. Nobody was going to buy that was science.”
“Yeah, they were just talking about genesis…”
“You know what you’d have to do…”
“Yeah?”
“You’d have to do it totally differently. From the ground up, you’ve got to talk in jargon, and have equations, and make up sophisticated terms, and never mention jesus, never talk about genesis, deny any connection….”
“Equations?”
“Sure. Probability graphs, and shit like that. Make it really dense and technical. Acronyms. algorithms. All that. If we do that, and never link it to christianity, we can hurt evolution. And then christianity wins by default.”
“We just have to avoid talking about religion?”
“Sure. Look, we’re smart guys. We’ve got degrees. We recruit some other people with degrees, make sure everybody knows the rules, and start writing monographs. That way, when it gets to court, they’ll put us on the stand, the judge won’t know our jargon from their jargon. It’ll work, because we’ll be on the stand, not some rubes from the sticks in Pennsylvania or somewhere…”

Comment #61965

Posted by John Marley on December 7, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

make up sophisticated terms

Man, you got that spot on.

Comment #61980

Posted by k.e. on December 7, 2005 9:16 PM (e)

Its called Obscuration the opposite of Enlightenment
Hiding vs Revealing the facts to the public.

The favored tool of Politicians, Hucksters, Cooks, Crooks,Religious Fundamentalists of all stripes,Pseudoscientists, Op Ed writers promoting some personal delusion without presenting the true facts from both sides, and all other pedlar’s of BS.

If they believe it themselves they are delusional if they impost it on others knowing it is a lie its called anti-democratic social manipulation of the truth for personal/tribal selfish reasons.

Mans selfish gene indeed.

Comment #61984

Posted by Norman Doering on December 7, 2005 9:31 PM (e)

Bulman asked:

Why can’t we do a egg commercial? Like the great “This is your brain…”

Because the fundies have now abandoned ID and have decided to promote Disney movies and Indian gambling casinos instead.

Disney is paying millions showing pastors how to worm Narnia into their their sermons.

ID can’t compete with that, they’ll never get the return on investment a Disney movie will.

Comment #61986

Posted by speck on December 7, 2005 9:36 PM (e)

IDers seem to rely on portraying scientists as anti-religious agnostics/atheists… Why not invite some religious types who are conducting relevant scientific research and fully accept evolution. Fr Corbally of the Vatican Observatory has already criticized ID, there must be more like him in other areas of research at one of the many Jesuit schools alone…

Comment #61996

Posted by Engineer-Poet, FCD, ΔΠΓ on December 7, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

If you’re going to hold a debate, I strongly suggest that one of the rules be “no refuted claims”.  If the ID speaker states anything that’s already been shown to be wrong, his mic gets cut off, a loud buzzer sounds and a big red “X” appears over his face in the video.

Then the science side gets the projection system/voiceover and explains, with words and visuals, what was wrong about what the ID’er just said and why we know that.

Whatever time this takes gets counted against the speaker’s allotment.

This could be combined with audience participation, as a game of “Buzzword Bingo”.  Bingo cards could be handed out to interested participants with classic IDiot buzzwords in the squares, and whoever fills a row first gets a prize.

I’d leave the Emcee role to a barrister and let scientists do the judging and produce prerecorded material for the refutations.

Comment #62001

Posted by k.e. on December 7, 2005 11:07 PM (e)

Gee Eng.
That could take the rest of the century :)

On The Narnia thing …Yeats “The Second Coming” should be read at the same time while showing Holocaust clips.
The Fundies will screw it round to justify all sorts of BS.

Comment #62008

Posted by Supreme Martian Overlord on December 7, 2005 11:57 PM (e)

The comment about public education and question answering seems to me to be a very good one indeed. Someone should put together an education/information pack to help people produce public seminars, local pub/cafe discussion groups etc. Something that Local science teachers could use to hold talks to give parents a basic understanding of what their kids are being taught and why.

It should cover the basics of scientific method, the basics of evolution, examples from the fossil record an FAQ and a thorough demolition of the common myths and antievolution arguments that will likely be brought up in Q&A after the talk.

Most importantly it has to be explained in the plainest, simplist language. You have to aim it at the lowest common denominator, many people don’t understand science, have a deep seated mistrust of authority and don’t like their world-view being questioned or threatened. Demolishing the framework through which they view the world will only produce hostility, you have to stage it so they will follow the evidence to its logical and inescapable conclusions themselves.

I think there needs to be a greater focus on public science education. Maybe an anti-ID documentary (to specifically refute the one sent to every Australian school recently), email tv stations that show poular science shows (even braniac and mythbusters) with praise for the shows and call for more of that ilk. Perhaps we also need to address the issues that most religious groups take umbrage with their perception of naturalistic science, such as the myth that materialism means social deterioration and moral/ethical vacuum etc

In short, maybe its time to use the fundamentalists own methods and get organised! (After all, as the recent rise in fundamentalism worldwide seems to be showing, when it comes to convincing the public of their views they seem to have evolved a very successful model. If we are to give the public enough of an understanding to be able to see through the illusions of rhetoric they throw up we will have to evolve our methods of reaching the average person)

Comment #62010

Posted by k.e. on December 8, 2005 12:03 AM (e)

SMO
Isn’t that the task of Politicians ?

Comment #62016

Posted by bystander on December 8, 2005 12:53 AM (e)

I agree with C.J. O’Brien. I think that ID is seductive to people who believe in God but are generally happy with evolution and an old universe. The news that some scientists have evidence that life was designed is for them just peachy. That other scientists disagree is normal because didn’t they fight over the big band and earlier the earth not being the centre of the universe. I know because some years when I first heard of irreducible complexity I was annoyed that he was being bagged on one of the forums. I thought just leave him alone to prove/disprove his theory. (Note: I no longer feel this way because I have stuck around long enough to see what a sham these guys are).

People like me (back then) are the people who will be influenced by the debate. The creationists and other kooks will still believe what they want to believe.

Comment #62021

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 8, 2005 2:41 AM (e)

Improvius, perhaps a minor quibble, but there have been no hearings in Kansas. The no-dog/no-pony show that was put on nominally by the State Board of Education last summer should not qualify as a hearing, since it was never intended to be fair, and since there was nothing from science introduced for the record, or later in deliberations (in fact the board specifically censored the formal system of advice from scientists and science pedants).

Alas, being forced into stupidity is not a tort in Kansas, so it’s difficult to foresee how anyone could get standing to sue the illegitimate children who comprise the board, in order to change it.

But if someone can get it into court, I think there’s a lot of foundation for the argument that the actions of the board in censoring science (again) were wholly arbitrary and capricious. The record was not fair, the hearings were stacked, and any rational person who can read a science textbook knows that the hearings were garbage, so the board could not help but be on notice that they were working from bad data.

All the lawyers in Missouri couldn’t save the Kansas board then …;-)

(Yeah, I know the difference between Missouri and Kansas – it’s not clear that the Kansas board of education does, however, nor is it clear that they understand why Kansas-licensed lawyers should be used in Kansas legal proceedings; it’s another indication that the proceedings in Kansas were not legal.)

Comment #62042

Posted by Joe G on December 8, 2005 9:09 AM (e)

Any debate would have to cover both sides- NDE and ID. That way there wouldn’t be any double-standards employed by either side. Any rejection of that would demonstrate a lack of integrity by the rejecting side.

Also I doubt any ID Creationists would show up as they only exist in the minds of people like RBH.

But anyway:

Why ID is scientific

Comment #62045

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 8, 2005 9:22 AM (e)

Joe G wrote:

Also I doubt any ID Creationists would show up as they only exist in the minds of people like RBH.

Then how is it that so many of the ‘expert’ witnesses who testified on behald of Intelligent Design before the Kansas Board of Education hearing last summer were creationists? Read the cross examinations and learn that witness after witness declared belief in a young earth and denied common descent.

You need to upgrade the quality of your trolling.

Comment #62048

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 8, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

I predict that no one who testified to the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt last summer would ever show up to such a debate as proposed – it smacks too much of a fair hearing.

Ben Franklin said truth wins in a fair fight – which is why we have evidence rules in federal courts. In this case, even a hint of fairness scares off those who support ID.

There’s a case study for an ethics class in there somewhere.

Comment #62050

Posted by CBBB on December 8, 2005 10:28 AM (e)

Hey Joe G, that “Why ID is Science Post” is pretty bad. I mean you start off with a dictionary definition to prove a point?! Definitely an amature debating/essay writing tactic.

Also it’s very long despite the fact that showing whether some is science or not should be pretty simple and straightforward.

More BS from the IDiots.

Comment #62053

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 8, 2005 10:49 AM (e)

Joe, I’ve challenged you a couple of times before: IF ID is science, show me the lab where the experiements are conducted, or show me the field where the observations are made. Show me a hint of hope that there might be a practical application or even a contribution to knowledge.

You’re confusing “science” with “philosophy and arm-chair musing.”

Comment #62096

Posted by RBH on December 8, 2005 2:09 PM (e)

Joe G wrote

Any debate would have to cover both sides- NDE and ID. That way there wouldn’t be any double-standards employed by either side. Any rejection of that would demonstrate a lack of integrity by the rejecting side.

Also I doubt any ID Creationists would show up as they only exist in the minds of people like RBH.

Note the topic of the proposed debate: The affirmative evidence for intelligent design. Not Darwin bashing, not ID of the gaps, but the alleged scientific evidence that makes ID a viable contender. IDists – Behe, Dembski, Meyer, et alia – claim that their methods, most notably specified complexity (SC) – detect intelligent design in nature, specifically in biology. OK, where’s the evidence for that claim? Where are the published tables of SC values for natural systems? Where are the SC validation data on systems of known provenance? Where are the reliability data that tell us their detection technique, SC, detects design while rejecting false positives? This is a chance for IDists to lay our their evidential case, describing the actual data they adduce that affirm the existence of design in biological nature in a forum where informed critics are ready to examine it on the fly.

With respect to the “intelligent design creationists” locution, see Bayesian Bouffant’s comment just above. It’s an accurate characterization of people who deny common descent.

RBH

Comment #62102

Posted by Ben on December 8, 2005 2:22 PM (e)

Part of what drives me nuts is that ID isn’t just bad science.. it’s not even a very good philosophical position. I studied Philosophy and Cognitive Science (at Lehigh of all places) and these jokers would get laughed out of any serious philosophical discussion as well. A good philosophy paper reads a lot like good science. It’s well documented, well formulated, has a lot of good background. Not just quotes taken out of context. Which is what Intelligent Design seems almost entirely predicated on.

Something else I’d like to address. I think a lot of us (the people that post on here) have a tendency to badmouth “average people.” I think this is a mistake. We just come across as elitist snobs and blowhards when we do this. And in fact the most passionate supporters of Intelligent Design aren’t the mythical average American, but tend to be educated professionals with some passing degree of science or tech training… Lab techs, computer programmers, or something of that nature who are recent converts to evangelical churches, or are trying somehow to reconcile their religious prejudices with science… because they are “involved with science.”

Comment #62107

Posted by PZ Myers on December 8, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

I’ve just been listening to Dembski on the audiomartini interview. Several times, the host tries to pin Dembski to giving predictions from or evidence for ID. Every time, Dembski uses it as an annoying opportunity to go on and on about the usual arguments the creationists make against evolution. He says that he predicts barriers or limits to evolution. He talks about flagella and blood clotting systems being unable to evolve. Not once did he provide a bit of evidence, and he seemed completely unaware of his failure.

That’s what you can expect from these clowns if you give them a forum.

Comment #62112

Posted by not on either side of this issue on December 8, 2005 3:31 PM (e)

So the Darwinists don’t have the cajones to accept the Thomas/Beckel challenge which was for Darwinists and ID’ ers to go head to head, making and defending their respective cases before the public. Instead, you all want to change it to putting ID on the stand alone. Won’t defend Darwinism before a large public audience, eh? Interesting.

Comment #62117

Posted by jim on December 8, 2005 3:42 PM (e)

not,

You are sadly misinformed. Didn’t you read the article at the top? Scientists (only IDists/Creationists call them Darwinists) *are* willing to debate IDists.

Evolution has been on trial every day of the year for 150 years. The evidence is overwhelming, the Science supports it, it is used in productive research in other fields, etc.

Evolution *has* proved itself.

Now it’s time for ID to try to live up to its own propaganda and show why ID should be seriously considered.

On an aside why do you want a debate so badly? Winning a debate no more turns ID into science than winning a debate over who’s more powerful Superman or the Green Lantern turns these fictional characters into real people.

Science does not demand that ID win debates, it just wants ID to show some evidence, come up with a good definition of itself, some experiments, and how other researches can “observe ID” objectively. When that’s done (they’ve failed to do this over the last 17 years!), then we can discuss the “science” of ID. Until then, it’s just a bunch of opinions and hand waving.

Comment #62118

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 8, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

noesoti:
I’d love to debate you before a “large public audience.” Say the word, and I’ll open a thread on the ABC forum.

Watching insufferable smugness just… disappear can be so rewarding.

BTW, your tone makes your handle somewhat questionable, and further BTW, to a first approximation everyone who comes here spouting their “lack of a side” on the issue turns out to be an embarrassingly ignorant creationist, and proud of it.

Comment #62122

Posted by RBH on December 8, 2005 4:06 PM (e)

noesoti wrote

So the Darwinists don’t have the cajones to accept the Thomas/Beckel challenge which was for Darwinists and ID’ ers to go head to head, making and defending their respective cases before the public. Instead, you all want to change it to putting ID on the stand alone. Won’t defend Darwinism before a large public audience, eh? Interesting.

Pure blather. This is an opportunity for IDists to have a major university forum in which to present their actual evidence. IDists can actually try to make their empirical (you know, as in data) case in front of genuine scientists who know evolutionary theory and who know the ID “literature”, and who themselves have substantial experience defending their own ideas in scientific venues ranging from graduate colloquia to professional conferences to the peer reviewed professional literature. In other words, IDists are invited to provide their best evidential case in the same general kind of venue that genuine scientists inhabit, where other scientists are sitting just waiting for the opportunity to take our ideas apart and critically examine them. We’ve all faced it, from final Ph.D. orals to journal submissions.

IDists are big proponents of “teach the controversy” in high schools. Here’s a chance for them to put their ID-derived data where their mouths are.

RBH

Comment #62123

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 8, 2005 4:08 PM (e)

Posted by not on either side of this issue on December 8, 2005 03:31 PM

So the Darwinists

Yawn. Why are do so many ID supporters lie about their stance and pretend to be neutral? And do such a bad job of pretending?

Comment #62125

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 8, 2005 4:19 PM (e)

Maybe I’m to embroiled in this thing, and can’t see a middle way, but what would it even mean to be “neutral” on the subject, beyond being just irremediably ignorant?

Comment #62142

Posted by guthrie on December 8, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

I dont think its possible to be neutral having examined as much of the evidence as is freely available to the public, since (of course) i reckon that unless you were very close minded, you would agree with Evolution.
That said, I think there is, as has been pointed out before, a large number of people to whom evolutionary biology is one of those things that goes on in labs and since they are selling cars/ looking after the kids/ bossing an office about, they dont have time or inclination to read up on it. So something else that comes along to challenge Evolution is regarded neutrally, perhaps like you might regard a political argument in an obscure African country.

These people can be won over, but they dont like to be talked down to. The trick is (I think) to engage their interest and act in a non threatening manner. Which is what quite a few people here do, and some dont.

Comment #62144

Posted by John Marley on December 8, 2005 6:38 PM (e)

I said above that I don’t think a meaningful debate is possible (comment #61952), but what difference does a public debate make anyway? It won’t make ID science (as jim said in comment #62117). Anyway, no IDiot would ever consider showing up, knowing that the debate would have strictly enforced moderation. If they can’t spew their empty rhetoric, they have nothing to say, and they know it.

Comment #62145

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 8, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

Why ID is scientific

Why is it that, in this big long argument about why ID is scientific, I never saw the scientific method utitlized, even once?

If Id is scientific, then there must, prima facie, be a scientific theory of ID that can be tested using the scientific method.

Would you mind telling me what that is, please?

Thanks.

Comment #62148

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 8, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

So the Darwinists don’t have the cajones to accept the Thomas/Beckel challenge which was for Darwinists and ID’ ers to go head to head, making and defending their respective cases before the public. Instead, you all want to change it to putting ID on the stand alone. Won’t defend Darwinism before a large public audience, eh? Interesting.

Um, in case you don’t read the newspapers or something, there already HAS been such a “public debate”. It’s audience was, uh, pretty large. Indeed, it was, literally, worldwide — reporters from as far away as Japan, China, France, the UK and India covered it. Not only did both sides go head-to-head, to make and defend their respective cases before the public, using whatever witnesses they wanted to call and whatever evidence they wanted to introduce, but ALL of this was even done UNDER OATH, so anyone lying (as several witnesses for one side apparently did) risked later being charged with perjury. The Discovery Institue, leading light of ID, brought two of its top guns to make their case. They spoke over a period of several days, describing all of the scientific evidence that they say supports a scientific theory of ID and falsifies evolution.

That massive month-long public debate was called “Kitzmiller v Dover”.

For some odd reason, IDers don’t seem very happy with that “debate”. Maybe it has something to do with the simple fact that over the past 50 years there have been almost a dozen major cases involving evolution and ID/creationists ———- and ID/creationists lost every single one of them.

Apparently, ID/creationism hasn’t been able to convince one judge anywhere in the United States of America that it is legitimate science. Not a one. I wonder why that would be……

So I’m a little curious now —- in this NEW “big public debate” that you and other IDers now seem so eager for, what NEW argument or evidence for ID or against evolution would you plan on presenting that, uh, isn’t ALREADY FOUND in the transcript of “Kitzmiller v Dover”? What do you have to argue now that hasn’t already been argued then?

Or is this just an ID version of the age-old cry of the six-year-old playground loser – “DO OVER !!!!!!!!”

Comment #62150

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 8, 2005 6:56 PM (e)

This is an opportunity for IDists to have a major university forum in which to present their actual evidence.

Dude, they’ve ALREADY HAD their chance to present whatever actual evdience they wanted to present. In COURT, UNDER OATH, no less. Behe testified for hours about all his arguments and data. So did Minnich. What argument or data can ID possibly present at any university debate that wasn’t ALREADY PRESENTED at Dover? What good does it do for them to simply repeat the SAME STUFF over and over and over again?

The Dover judge heard ID present the best that it HAD to present. And he will rule on whether or not it is science or religion.

And that’s the only opinion that counts. IDers can repeat their arguments to every university or church audience in the country. It won’t change diddley-doo. (shrug)

Comment #62177

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on December 9, 2005 12:44 AM (e)

Above, there’s a comment from “not on either side of this issue”. Useful data: From the same IP address, there was “Kiwi” being a fan of Guillermo Gonzales.

Comment #62180

Posted by Bob O'H on December 9, 2005 1:36 AM (e)

John Marley wrote:

I said above that I don’t think a meaningful debate is possible (comment #61952), but what difference does a public debate make anyway?

I think this is a political tactic. The reason for declaring a debate on evidence for ID is to try and force the issue. There are two possibilities:

1. an IDist accepts and presents their evidence. In this case, we get to advance the debate by seeing what their evidence is (well, hopefully: can we take the “they won’t present any” comments as read, and move on please).
2. Nobody accepts. If this happens, the web will collapse due to the large dollops of smugness eminating from PT.

I think it’s a very good strategy: the IDists say they’re doing science, so call them on it. Patricia Princehouse and her colleagues are probably bright enough to have foreseen the possible tactics to shift the debate (they’re biologists, so they must be bright), and have some strategy in place to counter.

Bob

Comment #62181

Posted by Registered User on December 9, 2005 2:12 AM (e)

Similarly, I offered to set up a debate between Sal Cordova and someone who will argue that the Discovery Institute are a bunch of liars with a religious agenda and Sal refused. I even offered to pay Sal’s plane ticket.

I know for a fact a similar offer was made to Casey Luskin and he also refused.

What’s the matter with these guys? Didn’t they get Bruce Chapman’s hysterical memo?

I jest. We know what the matter is and so do they. They are fakes.

What magician enjoys having his schtick exposed in public?

Comment #62182

Posted by k.e. on December 9, 2005 2:26 AM (e)

Bob O’H

You may not have had the ‘pleasure’ of debating a brick wall but I suggest you find the nearest one and see if you can change it’s opinion. Now if you keep it up for 45 years and still don’t change it’s opinion then you have a rough idea what the process and the end result is debating creationism. The ID movement have all the intelligence of a brick wall. Their view of science looks like a brick wall to them. If a brick wall could talk it would make as much sense as the ID crowd. Each brick only knows about other bricks, the glue that holds them together is stronger than mortar, it is a mass psychosis. A fundamentalist idea. And we all know how powerful those are don’t we, think Middle East, some people will kill for an idea. Some bricks believe they are descended from Adam less than 10,000 years ago, some bricks think the earth is flat, some think that heaven is a dream postponed, some think that bricks are not descended from apes.

How’s this

Get a Camera crew to go into the DI labs that show their biological experiments say Behe’s and get him to show what predictions his theory makes and the evidence to support those predictions.
Less than 30 seconds of actual time to show no evidence
Oh and ask them if god did it and ask them if ID is ready for the classroom.

Then go to a cross section of labs with real scientists with vignettes of the predictive power of evolution ask them if god did it and ask them if ID is ready for the classroom.

Go into 30 different churches and ask them if science should be taught in church and go into 30 different science classroom and ask if religion should be taught in science class.

Suggested Debate format
1. Did god do it?Yes or No end subject. any answer will do strangely.
2. Is Science a Religion Yes or No
3 Is Religion a Science Yes or No.
Debate the predictive power evolution vs the predictive power of Creationism

You say ID is not creationism and therefor a religion ? …wait till the Dover result if you can’t say it is.

Comment #62191

Posted by Bob O'H on December 9, 2005 7:01 AM (e)

k.e. wrote:

You may not have had the ‘pleasure’ of debating a brick wall but I suggest you find the nearest one and see if you can change it’s opinion.

You’ve totally missed my point: the actual debate is of little significance, unless some evidence for ID is proposed. If none is, then we all get in a tizzy about it here, and it’s then forgotten by most people in a few weeks: the “there is no evidence for ID” line will continue to be trotted out anyway.

If you’re going to change large-scale perceptions of science and evolution, you need to be thinking at the large scale, and be thinking politically (i.e. in terms of power). This is what the Wedge Strategy does, and it’s something that scientists will have to do as well (we’re learning, but slowly). A single debate won’t do that, but if the ID side don’t show, then we can repeatedly point it out. It’s a simple message “We asked the ID side to give their evidence, and they refused”, and it’s more effective than “ID doesn’t have any evidence”, for which it’s difficuolt to provide positive evidence (as a rebuttal the DI will list some publications, and the response is to go explain that they’re not about ID, and by the time you’ve finished, nobody is listening).

Bob

Comment #62208

Posted by k.e. on December 9, 2005 10:02 AM (e)

Bob ok
I have had too many completely useless conversations with IDiots that the only way forward is to play their stupid game. Most really need professional help, some are the most calculating liars you will ever run into in your life.

Large scale perception’s you are right are the key.
One wonders why the Wedge document was not headline news and the subject of a feeding frenzy by the Fourth Estate.

Did you know the Rev. Moon, one of the most vile promoters of mass brainwashing on par with past greats like Stalin and Hitler owns the Washington Times and is neatly in bed with the prez’s Brother.

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2005/12/9/32347/6058

One would almost think that there is some form of censorship going on.

Comment #62281

Posted by Paul Flocken on December 9, 2005 5:08 PM (e)

This thread is too long for me to read through in the little time I have, so forgive me if it was mentioned already, but why must any debate be one-on-one? Why can’t there be teams of scientists who have prepared themselves against the multiple lines of attack that IDiots would use? Since any given scientist is probably not going to have the experience in the debate format that any given IDiot would have, wouldn’t extra scientists act as force multipliers. And wouldn’t a team of representatives from every discipline, perhaps even subdisciplines, present a broader public face to the audience establishing, especially, the principle that all of science is in favor of ‘science only’ in the science classroom and not just those evil, atheist, evolutionists.

Additionally, is there an equivalent to the “galloping gish” on the science side? Who says that we have to throw the equivalent of 2 or 3 battleship shells, full of precise explanation, history, and complete references? Since the debate format doesn’t actually show that method off well, wouldn’t it be better to lob a million tennis balls (to mix metaphors) simultaneously?

Sincerely,
Paul

Comment #62283

Posted by Paul Flocken on December 9, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

Oh, and to the idea of televised debates, if they lasted for more than a single night(a la a ‘miniseries’) then scientists could carry on a galloping format for weeks on end, when the IDiots would last maybe an hour. Two at the most. Since their ‘argument’ consists of nothing but repetitive criticisms of evolution and no actual evidence for ID their side of a debate would start to sound very boring in very short order.

Sincerely

Comment #62288

Posted by RBH on December 9, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Paul Flocken asked

This thread is too long for me to read through in the little time I have, so forgive me if it was mentioned already, but why must any debate be one-on-one?

It won’t be. We don’t know how many (if any) IDists will take the plunge, but there’s a team of scientists with varied backgrounds and considerable experience with ID arguments ready to appear.

In that vein, I note that no IDist has appeared in this thread or AFAIK in any other communication medium proclaiming his (“his” used advisedly) readiness to present the affirmative case for intelligent design.

RBH

Comment #62291

Posted by Dembskixote on December 9, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

“I don’t have to take the bait… (mumble)… pathetic level of detail… (grumble)”
–WmAD

Comment #62295

Posted by steve s on December 9, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

Evolution is a substantial part of biology. It’s ridiculous to believe a person with no science background can understand enough from a televised debate to evaluate its merits. So “why not have a series of televised debates so the public could make up its own mind?” is based on an error.

If a layperson asked me how to learn enough about evolution to decide one way or the other, I’d give them a list of books. Among them,

What Evolution Is http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0465044263/qid=1134170988/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-9458831-2202324?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

The Selfish Gene
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0192860925/qid=1134171036/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/104-9458831-2202324?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

A basic biology text
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805366245/qid=1134171069/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/104-9458831-2202324?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Abusing Science
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/026261037X/qid=1134171137/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-9458831-2202324?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Evolution and the Myth of Creationism
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0804717702/qid=1134171169/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-9458831-2202324?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

and then I would tell them when some dumbass started talking creationism/intelligent design, just look up Talkorigins.org/indexcc, and they’d almost certainly find the answer.

Comment #62312

Posted by k.e. on December 9, 2005 8:25 PM (e)

steve s
I think u might b forgetting the
Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

Otherwise known

Blastfromthepast

Comment #62317

Posted by morgan lamberth on December 9, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

Evoluttionis causal;rekigion is teleological .The 2contradict each other.Teleology assumes the end result was foreoredaines,thus ‘ : “pputting the futureinto the past,the effect before the causr,teleology negates time”.Theists waant to use Omphalos to reconcile teleology with evolution!Even atheists state Omphaalos might be okay! I don’t!Don’t say Omphalos is metaphysical, whereas causatyis otherwise-the conRespond.tradiction is still there.[causality]respond

Comment #62328

Posted by morgan lamberth on December 9, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

Dr.Dawkinshas good repllies in religion and science [the Tempelton newsletter].Theistic evolutionists want to say that evolution has no purpose-right-, but [GrouchoMarx]ourlyingyes sh;ould see purpose!Teleology is nonsense.Causality,not a godholds sway!

Comment #75230

Posted by Timothy J Scriven on January 23, 2006 10:03 PM (e)

“it is a metaphysical alternative to science.”

Define metaphysical.