Gary Hurd posted Entry 1732 on December 2, 2005 04:12 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1727

The mainstream media, and a growing number of academics have “discovered” the threat that the new creationism, AKA intelligent design, poses to science education in the United States.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that some of these newly minted ‘experts’ will be proffering up their solutions, many of which will be shallow, and some even counterproductive. The recent proposal for high school debates on evo/creato by Michael Balter is an example. During the long and contentious discussion of Balter’s editorial and proposals, a research article by Prof. Steve Verhey was introduced by Balter who claimed it was a vindication of his proposal. A short while later Verhey also joined the discussion. That Verhey’s work did not support Balter is clear, as was stated explicitly by Verhey,

I don’t know what to say about high school evolution education. I don’t think my approach would work there. Perhaps it could work, but it would take too much time. Evolution can’t be avoided in HS biology classes, and creationism/ID can’t be presented as even vaguely valid alternatives, so we are where we are.

Since the paper in question had not been seen in print, we deferred further discussion of its contents. Dr. Verhey has now kindly made the PDF of his paper available to Panda’s Thumb readers. Note also that he has also presented key portions of his raw data as well.

I commend Dr. Verhey’s efforts and transparency which are in the best scientific tradition, and I will insist that any comments by PT readers will also. Dr. Verhey and I have exchanged a number of emails over the last two weeks concerning his paper, and the data which informs his conclusions. These emails (with only trivial edits) form the bulk of the following post. Quite obviously any cogent remarks regarding Dr. Verhey’s paper and the material below will require that one has read and understood the paper. Non-cogent remarks will be simply deleted.

*************************************************************
Dr. Hurd,

If you’d like to open up a new thread to discuss my BioScience paper, I’d appreciate it if you’d include the following in the initial post.

Thanks and best wishes,

Steve Verhey
——————————–

The topic of my paper in the November issue of BioScience, “The effect of engaging prior learning on student attitudes toward creationism and evolution,” BioScience 55 (11): 996-1003), has come up a couple of times here on PT, and there seems to be interest in discussing it. I’ve put a pdf of the paper on my web page (http://www.cwu.edu/~verheys).

The paper is based on a version of Biol 110, “Basic Biology” that I have taught several times. The paper describes the third time I taught this particular version, in the Fall of 2003. Each time I have taught the class I have collected data like those in the paper; the results have always been similar.

In the fall of 2002 I had my classes read “Icons of Evolution” and “The Blind Watchmaker for the first time. Since Ellensburg is just 1.5 hours east of Seattle, home of the Discovery Institute, that first time I also invited Jonathan Wells to speak to my class and to give a special university-wide seminar. He was accompanied by a handler from the PR department at DI, who passed out DVDs. Needless to say, I couldn’t use the data I collected from that first class in the paper, since it was an unusual instantiation. It seemed to me that the students, by the way, saw right through Dr. Wells. My colleagues, on the other hand, having taken to heart the dogma that creationists are not to be debated, were nonplused.

I chose the Wells book for a couple of reasons. At the time, it was new. It also went well with Dawkins, which I had used alone the year before. Dawkins uses big words in a book with small type, while Wells uses small words in a book with large type. I don’t mean this entirely as a slam against Dr. Wells, who I found charming and who I enjoyed meeting. But while Dawkins is unapologetic and appears not to care what his reader thinks of him, Wells’ tone at the beginning of Icons is exceedingly soothing and reasonable. By the end of the class, students completely reversed their opinions of Dawkins and Wells, which I think was very good for their critical thinking skills. I also introduced students to fallacious arguments, and pointed out toward the end of the term that Dawkins uses no fallacious arguments to make his points, while Wells uses them frequently. Finally, since Icons is a book about what’s wrong with biology textbooks, students could compare their textbook and their experience with Wells’ claims.

I haven’t seem much discussion of the BioScience paper on creationist blogs, except FaithFusion (http://www.faithfusion.net/index.php?itemid=108 ), which wrote

“The problem is, the point of these discussions is to slam creationism. No classroom should have an agenda that it is pushing. Creationists don’t want creationism to be taught solo; we want a balanced teaching. This isn’t balanced teaching.”

This is not true: at no time do I “slam creationism,” including now. It’s important for everyone to realize that, within obvious ethical and legal boundaries, I did the best I could to present a balanced approach, and for at least the first half of the term generally kept my views to myself. The data support the notion that my approach was balanced * a few students changed their views to less rationalist ones. In addition, I didn’t just present the Judeo-Christian point of view, although it was hard not to spend most of our non-rationalist time on it, and our non-rationalist time was necessarily limited.

As I explain in the paper, my approach is based on fairly standard pedagogical theory: it is hard to learn things without first connecting them with what we already know. This also helps to explain why it is especially hard to learn things correctly when we have first learned them incorrectly. My own experience with my evolving attitude toward creationism is that my progress was slowed by a hard-core biology undergraduate experience that ignored/dissed creationism. I don’t think I’ve ever been a creationist, but I did have some questions, and not getting them answered in college caused me to avoid dealing with the then-raging creation science controversy as a TA in graduate school. I still feel a little guilty about that. I’ve tried to make up for it by starting an annual Darwin Day tradition here at CWU, and by trying to be the best teacher I can be as often as possible.
*************************************************************

Dr. Verhey,

The delay in posting your email to Panda’s Thumb has been the result of a discussion and partial reanalysis of the data you provided.

We have a number of concerns regarding the comparability of groups AB and CD, sample size, and the statistical treatment of the student reported assessments. For example, if we were to ignore who changed or how, the intervention group AB did differ greatly from the “control” group CD, but they apparently differed significantly from the onset. And we question the rather strongly stated major result which turns out to be driven statistically by the self reports of 7 undergraduates.

Pretest intervention group is high in creationists, AB v. CD Chi^2 = 3.5
Sig 0 .05

Pretest intervention group is low in evolutionists, AB v. CD Chi^2 = 1.64
Sig ~0.1

So, looking internally at the intervention group self reports we find
that:

AB Change (sign test)
23 17 36 2.12
11 17 36 2.12
4.24 Sig 0.05

However the only sub table that approaches significant is,

YEC to nonYEC* AB Change (sign test)
16 12.5 12.25 0.98
9 12.5 12.25 0.98
1.96 Sig 0.1P0.05
*Verhey’s CL and YE categories combined.

The total number of creationists of one stripe or another (we see problems with some of the categories you used) that were in the intervention group AB were not statistically different before and after.

AB Change Creationists before and after
19 0.24
15 0.24
Chi^2 0.47 not significant

In fact, as you know, the number of “Old Earth/Intelligent Design” creationists actually increased in group AB.

(The following analysis was by Douglas Theobald, University of Colorado, Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry)

If we move away from the null-hypothesis testing mentality, we can also do a quick likelihood/model selection analysis. Lets assume that there is a rate (or probability) for spontaneously converting from a YEC/CL type to an evolutionist (or ID-ist). Such a “rate” can be modeled statistically by the probability parameter of a binomial distribution. Then, the maximum likelihood estimate for the rate of the AB class is 7/16 = 0.438, and the rate for the CD class is 1/7 = 0.143 . As I see it, there are four obvious competing models to consider:

(1) AB and CD are different, and they have different rates (0.438 and 0.143, respectively),

(2) AB and CD are actually just random samples from the same group, and there is thus one rate that describes both classes (maximum likelihood combined rate = 8/23 = 0.348),

(3) AB and CD are the same group, and the students convert according to the rate in the AB class (0.438),

(4) AB and CD are the same group, and the students convert according to the rate in the CD class (0.143).

Here’s the likelihood and Akaike information criterion (AIC) table for these four competing models:

model K logL AIC dAIC Bayesian prob(%)

1 2 -2.55 -4.55 0.00 33.0
2 1 -3.57 -4.57 0.02 32.7
3 1 -3.95 -4.95 0.40 27.0
4 1 -6.59 -7.59 3.04 7.2

From a model selection perspective, the highest (most positive) AIC wins, so model 1 is the best. But in model selection theory, only an AIC difference of 2 to 3 or more is considered significant. So, all we can say here is that model 4 is lousy, and that the first three models all explain the data about equally well. There just isn’t enough data to distinguish between them with any confidence. If you are willing to make the Bayesian “leap of faith”, and you consider each of these four models equally likely *a priori*, then, based on this data, the posterior probability that a model is correct is about 30% for each of the first three models. IOW, from this perspective the “teach the controversy” style doesn’t appear to have any detectable effect on how likely a student is to abandon a YEC/CL mentality.

Gary

*************************************************************
Gary,

Thanks for what looks like a significant amount of time spent reanalyzing part of my data. I’ve spent a little time trying to understand your comments, and I have a few questions and responses.

1. As I’ve said, I can’t help the fact that AB and CD aren’t perfectly comparable. They are actually more comparable than I had any right to expect, since at least the students were placed in the sections at random and various characteristics of the groups were similar. As I said in my posting on the “Contrarian or just lame” thread, it would not be possible to do this experiment with the same level of randomization here now. There’s also nothing to be done about the small sample size. These issues – particularly the pseudoreplication – were raised by reviewers, and are part of why I clearly state in the last section that the results technically “are not generalizable beyond this case study.”

2. I agree that the high number of creationists in AB / low number of creationists in CD is curious. I address this in the left-hand column on p. 1002 when I suggest that my approach may have made some creationists more comfortable sharing their views. This is an essential point: it is not possible to change the mind of anyone who feels disrespected or defensive.

Of course, the number of creationists in section A is not too different from the number of self-reported creationists in the general US population, so an alternative question might be why there was such a low rate of creationist beliefs in the other sections that were the subject of this paper, or in the other papers cited in the “Alternative explanations” section of the paper. Read on for a possible answer to this question.

3. As I discuss in the “Section D” section on p. 1002, there are good reasons to think that creationists declined to participate in the survey, particularly in that section. This was really striking as I was collecting the data. The surveys had been placed in envelopes and held until after the term was over. As I went through the section D surveys for the first time, I was struck by the fact that at least six of the surveys had been handed in blank along with the completed ones. It was as if the students didn’t even want anyone to know that they weren’t participating, let alone to know what their beliefs were.

The apparent failure of creationists to participate in the surveys, especially in section D, may have led to the disproportionate numbers of creationists in AB vs. CD. I think I address this satisfactorily in the paper.

As I understand it, your reanalysis of my data assumes that there really were different numbers of creationists in AB and CD. I suggest that the missing students were creationists. If this is true, the two pairs of sections would have been (more) similar if all students had participated. I also think we can assume that, if these missing creationists had had their minds changed, they would have been more likely to participate. Let’s say the six students who declined to participate all began as, and remained, creationists. Then the 1/7 = 0.143 that you use in our likelihood/model selection analysis becomes 1/13 = 0.077. I think this might change the results of the analysis.

Regarding section D, my paper is as much about what doesn’t work as it is about what does work.

4. Honest, my goal wasn’t to “convert” creationists – the off-line PT discussion seems to assume that it was, and that that is the only worthy goal. My goal actually was to do as I describe in the paper: to engage the students’ very real prior learning about creationism, to give them information, to help (or to stay out of the way of) their cognitive development, and to let the chips fall where they might. I did expect that this approach would convert creationists, and it did do so, but what I claim in the paper is that my approach “produced more attitude change than the other approaches.” There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement about this among your discussants.

For the purposes of my paper, the direction of attitude change doesn’t matter. What is very clear is that the “traditional approach” typified by sections C and D produced very little change.

5. I’m not sure what you mean by my “rather strongly stated major result,” with which you disagree. Could you clarify this for me? Also, your use of the word “undergraduates” in this section of your comments has a pejorative feel to it.

6. You suggest I might want to revise my PT comment. I assume you mean the one I e-mailed directly to you, but I don’t see anything that might have prompted your suggestion. I don’t even restate any conclusions from the paper, I just give a little more background about the class and my approach. I assume you’ll want to post this exchange between us, which is fine with me.

7. Finally, my approach might resemble “teaching the controversy,” but labeling it as such misstates what I was really doing. I was applying basic educational theory to the issue of creationism/evolution by acknowledging that my students had heard of the issue before and had their own opinions which had value. I was recognizing that my students didn’t arrive in my class cognitively ready to think effectively about such complex issues, and so I helped them toward that state of readiness. And, as much as I could, I allowed students to find their own way to their conclusions, so that they could have a greater sense of ownership of their ideas.

When you get right down to it, my data simply support the notion that basic educational theory works, and that’s what Craig Nelson was responding to in his editorial. Come to think of it, his editorial really deserves discussion. I thought his statement that “Public rejection of sound science is not primarily the result of some facet of popular culture. Rather, it is the predictable result of ill-founded pedagogical choices.” was really insightful.

Thanks again for the careful consideration of my data, and sorry for the long response.

Steve

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Comment #61134

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 2, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

And don’t be rude to Dr. Verhey. You can be rude to me- I am used to it. But, if you really tick me off I’ll do a Dembski on ya’. I’ll delete yer butt and call it “street theater.”

Comment #61142

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 2, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

Special care is definitely needed in addressing these issues in high school. I can easily think of ways to approach science education in high school that would help students without directly introducing ID as a topic. For now, though, I hope we can stick to discussing college education, which is the topic of my paper. I also think it would be nice if people could avoid being rude at all. In particular, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it weren’t for Mr. Balter. And thank you, Dr. Hurd, for your nice introduction to this thread.

Comment #61145

Posted by Peter Rock on December 2, 2005 6:22 PM (e)

I have been censored at William Dembski’s blog 6 times now. Although I grant him intelligent design, he does not want to address the question of…

Is the designer the designed?

Comment #61147

Posted by steve s on December 2, 2005 6:36 PM (e)

oh, get a load of my recent banning at Dembski’s site. He put up a post saying no supernatural designer was needed, this was just a lie by the evolutionists. The designer could be natural, or not, he didn’t know and ID doesn’t say one way or the other. So in that thread, in a comment, I posted:

William Dembski himself said: “The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design.” (in The Act of Creation: Bridging Transcendence and Immanence)

Are you tell me that creating a universe does not require the supernatural?

Comment by steve2005 — November 30, 2005 @ 10:50 am

That comment, and my account, lasted less than an hour. But Pete, I don’t think it’s because he wants to avoid addressing a topic. It’s because he doesn’t want his followers to see the holes and contradictions.

Comment #61152

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 2, 2005 7:02 PM (e)

Well, I’ll just re-say what I said before:

I think that the US education system *as a whole* is a mess, not just biology, and not even just science. Poll after poll shows that many Americans don’t know what country the US won independence from, can’t find the US on a world map, can’t name the Vice President of the US, and think “from each according to ability, to each according to need” comes from the US Constitution.

We are, in essence, a nation composed largely of pig-ignorant uneducated morons.

So, the way out lies not solely with increasing science education, but with ALL education.

Alas, though, as a society, the US has demonstrated, repeatedly, that despite all its pious-sounding talk, it really doesn’t care about educating its citizens, and really isn’t willing to put any more money into it than is necessary to produce the next generation of cheeseburger-flippers who can (sometimes) give correct change.

Prof Verhey is, I think, right in that teaching college-level students why ID is BS, works. Of course, there are several inherent advantages there that are *not* present in high-school students. College students, presumably, will go on to careers where actual thinking skills are required and desirable (unlike the vast majority of high school students who will ignorantly flip burgers for their entire lives).

Also, college level students, particularly science students, presumably already know lots more about science and how it works than most high schoolers do.

Were it up to me, I’d want to see us as a society focusing on teaching *all* our kids “critical thinking skills”, or, as it is sometimes known, “BS detecting”. Alas, there are reason why I simply don’t think that will ever happen. First, most of our society is *based* on BS – everything from political campaigns to advertisements for corn flakes – and the very LAST thing the powers that be want is a population of citizens who know how to think for themselves and how to critically evaluate things around them. And second, as I said before, as a society, we’ve already demonstrated that we simply don’t *want* to pay for educating our kids, beyond any “knowledge” they need to fill the low-wage low-skill jobs that our economy depends on (at least the ones that haven’t already been exported overseas). Heck, nowadays we don’t even need to pay to produce our own doctors or scientists either — we can just import them from overseas.

Changing those things will require, in turn, making changes in our very social, political and economic structures – very BIG changes. And we, as a society, simply don’t want to do that.

So I don’t think we *will*.

Comment #61155

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 2, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

It’s important for everyone to realize that, within obvious ethical and legal boundaries, I did the best I could to present a balanced approach

But IDers, ya see, don’t WANT a “balanced approach”. When they say “balanced approach”, what they MEAN is “present our crap without criticizing it”.

Therefore, ANY class that is critical of ID, in any way, will be met with pursed lips and disapproval from the IDers.

To which I say, “Tough”. (shrug)

Comment #61156

Posted by BWE on December 2, 2005 7:19 PM (e)

Only 5 percent of all Biology 110 students reported
creationism as their only form of prior learning,while 15 percent
reported evolution only, and 6 percent reported having
been exposed only to origin stories other than evolution or
Judeo-Christian creationism.

I must have missed this part: how did you present the questions and specifically what were they? The 6% seems strange to me.

Comment #61157

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 2, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

my approach is based on fairly standard pedagogical theory: it is hard to learn things without first connecting them with what we already know. This also helps to explain why it is especially hard to learn things correctly when we have first learned them incorrectly.

Or not learned them at all.

And that is why students, particularly high school level and below, should first learn basic science and biology, including evolution, and understand it, BEFORE being asked by anybody to “critically evaluate” ID or flying saucers or ESP or whatever other nutty idea some loud group or another wants us to believe.

That is why the ID efforts to teach their drivel to ninth-grade students is so insidious. Ninth-graders simply do not know anything about the topic, and are simply not prepared to “evaluate” anything or “make their own decision”. As I put it before, it’s like taking a group of five year olds, telling them about a nutritionally balanced meal, telling them about cookies and ice cream, and asking them to “make up their own mind” about their diet.

And that is why I think our focus should be to teach SCIENCE in K-12. Pure, basic, mainstream SCIENCE – and, perhaps even more importantly, *how science works*. AFTER students have a basic but thorough grasp of science and biology and how it works, THEN is the time to ask them to “critically evaluate” this or that or the other thing, using the scientific method that they have already learned how to apply to scientific questions. IDers, of course, depend very very heavily on the ignorance and lack of knowledge in their intended audience – which is, I suspect, precisely WHY they focus their efforts on teaching ID to ninth-graders instead of to, say, collegel-level biology students.

What the IDers want is indoctrination, not education. This is made even more clear by the ID reaction to any criticism of ID in the classroom. Let a teacher present all the ID arguments and then calmly point out why they are all BS, and the IDers will be the very first ones jumping up and down about the “bias” and “unfairness”. What IDers want, after all their arm-waving, is for their religious opinions to not only be taught, but to be made legally immune from criticism.

I find that intolerable. I find even the REQUEST for it intolerable.

If IDers want to have their BS “critically evaluated”, they are welcome to send it to peer-reviewed science journals, who will be happy to give them all the “critical evaluation” they can stand. For free.

But, as noted, the very LAST thing the IDers want is an audience that actually knows something about the topic. They prefer uneducated 14-year olds, instead.

I find that very telling.

Comment #61165

Posted by Tiax on December 2, 2005 7:52 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Poll after poll shows that many Americans don’t know what country the US won independence from, can’t find the US on a world map, can’t name the Vice President of the US, and think “from each according to ability, to each according to need” comes from the US Constitution.

As a product of the US public school system, I felt compelled to draw this map of the world, labeled with the US, to prove I know where it is.

My Map

Comment #61170

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on December 2, 2005 8:17 PM (e)

Dr. Verhey, I’m very interested in your work and have given the issue some thought as well. First, I agree that there is a need to address creationism at the college level. As you don’t say but perhaps both you and Gary will agree, most professors are rather head-in-the-sand about the subject. In case you hadn’t noticed yet, Bruce Alberts has an editorial letter in Cell in which he suggests several changes in current teaching, the last being:

Alberts wrote:

For all those who teach college biology, the current challenge posed by the
intelligent design movement presents an ideal “teachable moment.” I believe
that intelligent design should be taught in college science classes but not
as the alternative to Darwinism that its advocates demand. It is through the
careful analysis of why intelligent design is not science that students can
perhaps best come to appreciate the nature of science itself.

You however are out in front with an actual program described in part as follows:

Verhey wrote:

Seminar reading assignments. Sections A and B used The
Blind Watchmaker (Dawkins 1996) and Icons of Evolution
(Wells 2002) for seminar discussions. Icons of Evolution is an
ID-oriented book; students also read Icons of Obfuscation
(Tamzek 2004), an online rebuttal of Wells (2002). Readings
from these books were discussed in seminars as follows: week
2, Dawkins, front matter and chapter 1; week 3, Dawkins, chapter
2; week 4, Wells, chapters 1 and 2; week 5, Dawkins, chapter
3; week 6, Wells, chapters 3 and 4; week 7, no seminar; week
8, Dawkins, chapter 4; week 9, Wells, chapters 11 and 12;
weeks 10 and 11, no seminar. The Web page of the Discovery
Institute, a leading ID-promoting organization, was made
available via a link on the class Web page. Seminar discussions
were generally conducted as outlined by Harnish (1995).

Sections C and D used as their seminar book The Red
Queen (Ridley 1995), reading approximately one chapter a
week. The seminar structure for sections C and D was different
from that of sections A and B: before each seminar meeting,
a group of two or three students was expected to prepare a brief
quiz on the reading assignment. This group was also expected
to lead the discussion. The quality of each group’s
quizzes and discussions was graded.

Leaving the statistical discussion to others, I want to think of yours as a pilot program, and a call to think together about similar ones. First I want to say something about the “He said / She said” part of Gary’s title. This is a standard problem: how do you present creationism including IDC (aka DIC) without making it sound to non-biologists like he said - she said? In your current program the students read Wells’ Icons. His rhetoric is strong if you don’t know that he is for all practical purposes lying, and your Bio I students don”t know that. Most working biologists are not expert in all the areas Wells goes into. Neither is he, but he acts as if he were and your students don’t know the difference. Although I had the advantage of knowing enough about evolution not to be swayed by _Icons_, I did read quite a few research papers that I wouldn’t otherwise have read in order to check his claims. Nic Tamzek read considerably more, and also read _Icons_ more closely, and hence found much more wrong with the book, Alan Gishlick still more. But your students don’t know who is right. Some changed their minds, but in both directions.

My thought is to teach the science well, including science that is relevant to a creationist claim, and then point out that creationists say this instead, and the matter should be clear. I wrote ICdmyst to help do this. I pick Behe rather than Wells because his argument is absurd on its face. I provide examples that can easily be used in Bio I. The most effective approach might be to have the students read Behe through about page 42, be swayed by his argument, and then see that life goes right through the holes in his argument like water through a sieve. I wouldn’t try to go into detail on all of the “icons”. Instead, pick one or at most two that can be well covered. Haeckel might be a good one. In addition to overall reviews of _Icons_ there is this and this paper as background for the instructor. I thought it was available free online and while searching for it I noticed this relevant page. But the best reason for choosing this icon is that it leads right into what Wells and friends are really trying to obscure: evo-devo. If I were to have the students read any whole book besides the text, it would probably be Endless Forms Most Beautiful, soon to be out in paperback.

I don’t think I’d concern myself with religion related questions. Questions on scientific method seem more appropriate. And if the instructor plans to ask those questions he first has to teach method, thoughfully. If you are making students aware of creationism I think you should mention the Index, and it is hardly fair not to warn them of quotation - abuse since creationist literature has so much of it.

Comment #61171

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 2, 2005 8:34 PM (e)

Regarding BWE’s question: the survey instrument is posted at my website (www.cwu.edu/~verheys). The 5% comes from the 3/66 students in all sections who said they had been exposed to creationism only; the 6% comes from the 4/66 students who said they had been exposed to origin stories other than creationism or evolution (both numbers are rounded).

I’m actually not all that happy with the way this question worked in the survey, since I think it could have been presented more clearly. The main point I make with the prior learning data is that exposure to both creationism + evolution is widespread.

Comment #61174

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 2, 2005 9:16 PM (e)

As a product of the US public school system, I felt compelled to draw this map of the world, labeled with the US, to prove I know where it is.

My Map

Good job. :>

Some people I know would have had difficulty spelling “US” correctly. ;>

Comment #61180

Posted by Steven Laskoske on December 2, 2005 9:50 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

I think that the US education system *as a whole* is a mess, not just biology, and not even just science. Poll after poll shows that many Americans don’t know what country the US won independence from, can’t find the US on a world map, can’t name the Vice President of the US, and think “from each according to ability, to each according to need” comes from the US Constitution.

We are, in essence, a nation composed largely of pig-ignorant uneducated morons.

So, the way out lies not solely with increasing science education, but with ALL education.

I agree completely. In fact, if there is anything positive to be said about ID, it would be that the attempt to put that form of creationism into the science classroom has exposed the overall flaws in our educational system. (Sadly, that is the ONLY positive thing to be said about ID.)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Were it up to me, I’d want to see us as a society focusing on teaching *all* our kids “critical thinking skills”, or, as it is sometimes known, “BS detecting”. Alas, there are reason why I simply don’t think that will ever happen. First, most of our society is *based* on BS — everything from political campaigns to advertisements for corn flakes — and the very LAST thing the powers that be want is a population of citizens who know how to think for themselves and how to critically evaluate things around them.

I think this is one of the issues that highlights the real problem in public education. The major focus in high school (and before) tends to be rote memorization. This addresses the method of learning and, to a degree, it makes sense. After all, being able to read English is a necessity for learning to understand Shakespeare, knowing the multiplication tables is a step toward understanding much of mathematics.

There comes a point, however, that rote memorization is not enough. It needs to be a stepping stone to being able to go beyond the “Dick and Jane” and those multiplication tables.

The problem is that we learn to memorize in high school but don’t take the next step by learning how to think. I think one of the things that would be useful would not just be a class in “critical thinking” (or “BS detection”) but a class in general philosophy. After all, philosophy brings a solid base for that type of thinking. Included in that would be introduction to logic. While this would help detect the BS, it would also provide the basis for going beyond the basics from the rote memorization.

Comment #61181

Posted by Corkscrew on December 2, 2005 9:51 PM (e)

Steve Verhey wrote:

I can easily think of ways to approach science education in high school that would help students without directly introducing ID as a topic.

I’m interested in this, because I can’t really (not a teacher of any sort so this is not surprising). Could you elaborate?

Thanks for the cool study.

Comment #61187

Posted by Chip Poirot on December 2, 2005 10:34 PM (e)

I read the paper and thought parts of it were very interesting. I also have a few comments on the general topic: teaching the controversy in the college classroom.

Firstly, I liked the model of learning presented, though I suspect that as with any “stage theory” of learning, it will have its holes. What I liked is the idea of moving beyond simplistic dualism, but not getting stuck in relativism. Thus good critical thinking skills require actually coming up with some criteria by which to make an evaluation. I have some personal interest here since I am working on a paper about approaches to the social sciences that makes much the same point.

Secondly, I like the idea of engaging students’ prior learning. There are some good pedagogical ideas in this paper that give me cause to think about some of the things I do and don’t do in the classroom.

Now, as to the issue of “teaching the controversy” in the college classroom I have a few observations. At the risk of putting some people on the spot, let me note that I know that one of my colleagues not only does not address evolution in the classroom (save sporadically) he is overtly hostile to it (note: I am not in the natural sciences department-I am in the social sciences department). This particular person has engaged in the “teach the controversy” approach to some degree. This consisted of having students do presentations on the topic. There was no systematic discussion of the issue.

Another colleague in the philosophy department who is openly sympathetic to ID teaches the controversy in some of his philosophy classes. I find this unobjectionable on the face of it, save that I have had several discussions with this person and am not impressed with his knowledge of evolution. But in fairness, he does have students read selections both by Ruse and Behe.

Having had a longstanding interest in the topic I audited another colleague’s course on evolution. It was a very well presented course and I came away having learned a lot of basics. I’d have been a lot better off with some knowledge of anatomy but other than that, I found the course pretty easy to follow.

I myself have attempted a “teach the controversy” approach with very limited success. Alright-it was pretty much an abject failure. The context was an undergraduate senior seminar in which students had to write a 20 page theme paper that exhibited critical thinking. So for my section I chose the topic of science and society, thinking we’d track through the ID/Evolution, Science/Post-Modernism debate in the social sciences. Students were largely resistant to any real discussion of evolution or of ID for that matter.

This coming quarter I am trying to decide what to do with my cultural anthro class. I chose a text (Scupin) that has a chapter on biological anthro and evolution and comes down on the pro-science wing of anthropology.

My plan for the first two weeks is:

1. Discussion of the scientific method (really methods) as applied to anthro and some discussion of post-modern approaches to anthro:
2. A discussion about how to evaluate situations-what would you do if someone claimed to be kidnapped by aliens…how would you evaluate that claim.
3. A reading of Genesis and the Dine Creation myth;
4. Lecture on the basics of human evolution-australopithecus to us.

Any comments, thoughts?

Comment #61189

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on December 2, 2005 10:44 PM (e)

“But in fairness, he does have students read selections both by Ruse and Behe.”

So he avoids science.

“I chose a text (Scupin) that has a chapter on biological anthro and evolution and comes down on the pro-science wing of anthropology.”

Ummmm you mean there’s an anti-science wing of anthropology?

Comment #61190

Posted by The Sanity Inspector on December 2, 2005 10:58 PM (e)

I can barely balance my checkbook, let along compute chi-squares and scatter charts anymore. >:^\ But in the paper I noticed that a “disproportionate” number of creationist kids dropped the course or didn’t take the post-course survey. And then there’s this:

There is even greater uncertainty regarding whether the practices outlined here would have similar effects on student attitudes if applied by different faculty at different institutions. Indeed, from a formal, statistical point of view, the results presented here are not generalizable beyond this case study.

Science is full of hedging like this, I know; but I’m sure the study’s authors would have liked to have gotten some firmer results. Is there any news whether anyone will be experimenting further along these lines, or is it too soon to say?

Comment #61192

Posted by Chip Poirot on December 2, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

Pete,

You ask if there is an anti-science wing of anthropology: in physical anthropology, not really. In Cultural Anthropology, absolutely. And I don’t think I am being unfair. Post-modernism and other interpretive approaches have had a large influence in cultural anthropology, as they have across the social sciences, even to some degree in economics.

To say “anti-science” might be twoo sweeping since there is a range of opinions. The text I am using introduces students to idea of scientific method and advocates applying it to the social sciences and thus approaches anthro as a unified science of humans. This idea is immensely controversial. Some would simply say that we can’t do this in anthropology or other social sciences, but we can still have science in the physical and natural sciences. Clifford Geertz would be the best known representative of that view. Others go much, much farther than Geertz and are in fact, outright hostile to science, period. And of course, this is not unique to anthro.

Comment #61195

Posted by B. Spitzer on December 2, 2005 11:52 PM (e)

Dr. Verhey, thank you for making your work and your thoughts available to the rest of us.

I especially appreciate your emphasis on getting students to learn how to think more critically and maturely. I’m currently teaching an introductory biology class, and I’ve been trying to get my students to move from memorization to the actual use of concepts all semester.

I also appreciate that you’re allowing students to make up their own minds. IMO, being told what facts to know and what opinions to recite is a dead, anemic experience compared with the experience of being handed the proper tools and told that you have to build your own opinions.

I’m going to be teaching a one-month intensive course on evolution and creationism in January, at a small liberal-arts college. Most of the students are first-year students, and I expect that most are coming from a relatively strong but also relatively liberal religious background.

I’d appreciate any advice or resources that PT regulars (or newcomers!) could point me toward. My goals are to equip all of the students with a basic understanding of science and the scientific method, and I would very much like to see them advance to more mature cognitive modes. I’d also like to give them enough background knowledge about evolution and creationism that they can form their own opinions.

Being a biologist, I find I’m especially short on training when it comes to pedagogy and the psychology of learning, so I could especially use some help when it comes to guiding students through those Perry stages.

–B

Comment #61201

Posted by jfc on December 3, 2005 1:17 AM (e)

Anyone here remember Van Daniken? As a young teen I was fascinated by his books. At some point I started asking my teachers about some of his claims and I was surprised at the anger this incited in them. The thing is they didn’t have any very good answers for me, they just said “He’s full of crap.” Luckily I had a HS chemistry teacher who had us read essays on the nature of science then offered to help me research Van Daniken’s claims. Turns out he’s full of crap, but Mr McDaniel never said that. I think a good teacher could do the same with ID/creationism. I don’t think you have to be an expert to see through ID/creationism as long as you learn what science is really all about.

Comment #61202

Posted by Philip Bruce Heywood on December 3, 2005 1:31 AM (e)

Dedication and professionalism are attributes I aspire to and it is apparent they are not entirely wanting here. I note Dr. V.’s professional approach to a topic requiring such an approach.
Teaching a topic in a real setting is a completely different task to researching its technical base.
I have to inform Dr. V. and interested parties, the inevitable has finally happened, technology has begun to shed new light, and the debate is over. That’s not to say the question of teaching Origins is settled. There is work to be done and feedback is requested – visit my site or contact me for details.
In my fallible opinion, the best approach entails, a) moderation, b) adherence to known facts and principles. We can now present Origins separate from reasonable religious controversy. The existence of information and information devices in nature need no more bar the scientific teaching of biology, than the existence of “Big Bang” theory need bar physics. Motivating students to discern the role of DNA, immune systems, and other cellular devices, in speciation, is surely a desirable outcome for science. The Source of intelligence, like the Source of the Universe, remains a personal matter. Richard Dawkins showed this to be true. He merely stopped short of searching for the natural “computer” that re-programmed his “computerized” DNA. Every effect has a cause, and inviting students to find causes and explore new frontiers is surely good policy?

I look forward to intelligent feedback and sound advice. Good education is the desired outcome. P.H..

Note to Mr. Hurd. Well, could our moon have come partly or wholly from a common donor planet such as Mercury? I think you are the chap who was commenting on that important topic. What is your advice?

Note to the “Reverend Doctor”. Good to see you’re going to follow through on the high words about Education, by a practical experiment. I remember reading somewhere, you wish to be reincarnated. Obviously this is to find out if dogs give birth to cats. Practical experimentation is a foundation of science. Very commendable. Be careful. The other day, I asked a vet (who has some sort of an accent) “When are dogs put down”? He said, “When they have tabbee”. Take a rope with you, will you, and we’ll pull you back if you have kittens.

You see, Dr. Verhey, we have full-on science here. Best wishes.

Comment #61204

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 1:48 AM (e)

Heywood, you’re blithering again.

Comment #61205

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 1:50 AM (e)

I don’t think you have to be an expert to see through ID/creationism as long as you learn what science is really all about.

And therein lies the problem …

Most Americans wouldn’t know real science if it reached up and bit them in the butt. Which is why we, collectively, are so apt to fall for all sorts of BS like alien abductions, ESP, Bigfoot, and ID.

Comment #61207

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 2:41 AM (e)

First of all I want to thank Gary for beginning this thread and generating a discussion of Steve Verhey’s paper on PT. I hope he will allow me to make one correction to his characterization of my statements when I introduced this paper into the “Contrarian or Just Lame?” thread: I never said that the paper “vindicated” my proposals for debating ID, but that it was “relevant” to the discussion. I also said that I personally thought Verhey’s approach could be adapted to the high school situation, but of course that has not been done yet, and so I could hardly claim that my position was vindicated–only that the BioScience paper possibly pointed to a way of doing what I was suggesting.

There have already been a lot of interesting comments here. I totally agree with Lenny that science teaching in the US is piss poor and that something needs to be done about it. On the other hand, many students do not just come into class ignorant about science, but with strong religious beliefs from their family and community upbringing. When these beliefs include creationism, they make the students not just ignorant about science but resistant to learning about evolution. In this situation, I think that simply teaching them good science is not enough, and that the prior engagement approach Verhey used in his classes is not only likely to be effective but also necessary if the end goal of teaching good science is to be achieved. Indeed, if his results are valid–and I certainly agree that the validity of his study should be debated–then they would show that he has been effective in doing this and his example should be emulated.

This also means that religion cannot simply be treated as something exterior to science that must be parked at the classroom door when the student enters, which is the main principle behind legalistic approaches to combatting creationism and ID. One’s religious beliefs strongly affect one’s attitudes towards science; Verhey’s approach tackles this directly rather than avoiding it.

Comment #61208

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 2:55 AM (e)

I also meant to post here the link to Craig Nelson’s editorial in BioScience accompanying the Verhey paper, as I also did on the “contrarian” thread, as he makes a number of points strongly endorsing this pedagogical approach at the college but not at the high school level. This link will no doubt be too long to display, but I hope you can copy and paste it somehow or perhaps Gary can do something to make it work:

http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/051101_engaging_prior_learning_on_creationism_and_evolution_may_benefit_college_biology_students.html

Comment #61210

Posted by k.e. on December 3, 2005 2:57 AM (e)

Lenny

Most Americans wouldn’t’t know real science if it reached up and bit them in the butt.”

If knowledge was a butt and science was a ?

Very OT

3 things.
1. Teach Lenny’s golden rule’s for science.
2. ID pass those tests in court
3. I agree with Prof Verhey that the ideas of Dawkins/ Wells as presented are much too advanced for HS.

However given the right information at a level suitable that would allow reasonable students at that age to draw their own conclusions about the …fallaciousness of the counter argument; with a focus on the history of the idea right now, plus the impact of science on the history of ideas and the negative effects if unproven ideas are imposed on science I think is possible.
I’ll go thru my notes and get it on here later…..NB:toMBmorereadingSTOPputawaythecolapsablecanoe STOP …. “Scoop”and”Our Man in Havana”STOP

Comment #61211

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 3:06 AM (e)

Whoops, sorry, I posted the link to the press release and not the editorial. Here is Craig Nelson:

http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-editorials/editorial_2005_11.html

Comment #61214

Posted by Norman Doering on December 3, 2005 4:29 AM (e)

jfc wrote:

… remember Van Daniken? … I was fascinated by his books…. I started asking my teachers about some of his claims … they didn’t have any very good answers for me, they just said “He’s full of crap.” Luckily I had a HS chemistry teacher who had us read essays on the nature of science then offered to help me research Van Daniken’s claims. Turns out he’s full of crap, but Mr McDaniel never said that. I think a good teacher could do the same with ID/creationism.

I think you just made an excellent point. Tell us more about how this Mr McDaniel approached the problem.

Comment #61215

Posted by Norman Doering on December 3, 2005 4:35 AM (e)

Philip Bruce Heywood wrote:

The Source of intelligence, like the Source of the Universe, remains a personal matter.

Not really. The question of what intelligence is and how it works is already a well explored area of science involving neurophysiology, artificial intelligence, the study of neural nets, Bayesian networks and evolutionary programming. These days you actually have to know what you’re talking about when you say “there was an intelligent cause.”

Comment #61217

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 3, 2005 5:10 AM (e)

When I was first exposed to ID I found it a very compelling idea.

Perhaps my experience might be relevant as to what worked and what didn’t, on my little journey from being an ID supporter to accepting evolution.

I think that the most persuasive explanations were learning what the scientific method entails and the importance of peer review. Add to that the questions that Lenny keeps asking Salvador; and I was convinced that ID is not science.

What was ineffective was hostile and angry reactions to questions (I now know that those questions have been constantly repeated; but I did not know that when I asked).

Comment #61218

Posted by Philip Bruce Heywood on December 3, 2005 5:35 AM (e)

That’s good. They’ll be able to programme my brain for me and I won’t have to study any more. Don’t start me on the actual laws of physics and the real definition of Science. I’m too busy with these kittens. Can’t figure where they came from, but someone said they thought they saw a dog and a rope. Probably the result of bayesian evolutionary programming. No wonder Richard Dawkins is too advanced for High School. Get down, kitty! Sorry, must go. Scram, cats!

Comment #61225

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 8:47 AM (e)

Dr. Verhey and Dr. Hurd,

Thank you for bringing this discussion. As someone from the otherside of the issue, I am deeply interested in this discussion.

In our IDEA chapters in Virginia, I’m aware of approximately 60 biology majors who are sympathetic to the ID and/or creationist view from the undergraduate all the way to the PhD level.

Though Icons of Evolution is a poplular ID book, I am not aware that many of these individuals have even read the book. In reaching these students, I do not use the book very much at all, but rather the introductory video Unlocking the Mystery of Life and then the more technical book Evolution a Theory in Crisis (which won over Michael Behe after Behe was already an Ivy League PhD). Both Michael Behe and William Dembski used Denton’s book as the staple for the classes on the issue. I further encourage the students to take as many evolutionary biology classes as they can fit into their schedule. I am not aware of any deconversions closer to the AE views among the top tier of biology students, especially at the senior and graduate level. Dembski reported:

What every theologian should know

As a post-doctoral instructor in philosophy of science at Northwestern University I taught an undergraduate course on the creation-evolution controversy. I began this course by having my students read Peter Bowler’s Evolution: The History of an Idea (a generally sympathetic historical account of the concept of evolution as it plays itself out from ancient times to the present-day), and followed it with Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Within three weeks no one in the class thought that the fundamental claim of Darwinism, namely common descent through selection and modification, was self-evident or particularly well supported.
Nor would anyone in my class have agreed with Richard Dawkins that to deny this central thesis of Darwinism one has to be either stupid or wicked or insane. No, one can be reasonably well-adjusted, remarkably well-educated (as many design theorists are), and still think Darwinism is a failed scientific paradigm. Let me stress that my students represented quite a cross section of opinion. I had two or three who were conservative Christians actively involved in Campus Crusade. I also had a few who were staunch Darwinists and came to love Richard Dawkins when later in the term we read Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker. Yet none of my students left the course thinking that the debate over Darwinism was like arguing over whether the earth is flat. Wherever they stood, they realized there were serious difficulties which needed to be resolved. In short, they realized that there is a genuine critique of intellectual merit against Darwinism.

So I think Verhey’s appraoch for a biology 110 class is a neutral to somewhat effective anti-ID approach given this is an intro course. He is not using the most relevant ID materials. Icons was not specifically arguing the ID case, but merely criticising the icons. When wells spoke to our IDEA chapter, most of the talk was not pro-ID but merely criticism of the icons. The students understood when he was merely criticizing icons versus theoretically demonstrating the problems with evolution.

The books or approaches I as an IDist view as powerful:

1. Mystery of Life’s Origin (it converted Dembski)
2. Evolution a Theory in Crisis (it converted Behe)
3. Cybernetic Approach to Evolution by A.E. Wilder-Smith (it converted Dean Kenyon)
4. Darwin’s Black Box (it made an enthusiast out of “Mike Gene”)

Those are the kind of issues an anti-ID course should avoid if one wishes to promote evolutonism. So the study used something, from an ID standpoint, that was not even directly pro-ID.

From a population standpoint, in the short term I think the most effective anti-ID tactics are the ad-hominem, intimidation, misreresentation, and ridicule: an abundance of which I see. However, such tactics tend to solidify the resolve of the die hards, so that is also a consideration. (For example, look what happened to Mirecki’s anti-ID course).

Ignoring the issue I would rate as the most effective anti-ID tactic….

It is also helpful to the anti-ID cause to perpetuate the myth that evolutionary biology is central to biology, and insulate the students from the criticisms of the field.

At several schools, there are chemistry, math, physics, and engineering facutly openly critical of evolutionism, Darwinism, and the biology faculty. They view some of the work of the evolutionary biologists and anthropologists in evolutionary theory as sub-standard science. This view is echoed actually by Jerry Coyne himself in one of my all time favorite quotes, “In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.” Students exposed to such comments might think less of evoluitonary theory as a result.

Verhey’s approach I think is effective, the one I would be concerned with as an ID proponent, however, I think Verhey’s approach will not supplant the standard use of misrepresentation, ad-hominem, ridicule, abuse of privilege, censorship, and intimidation by anti-IDists.

Salvador
PS
Thank you Pete D. for this lovely honest quote mine opportunity:

I believe that intelligent design should be taught in college science classes

–Bruce Alberts

Comment #61226

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 3, 2005 9:19 AM (e)

Sal,
Why will you not answer Lenny’s questions?

BTW I am not asking you to answer them. Just explain why you wont.

Comment #61227

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 9:20 AM (e)

Thank you for bringing this discussion. As someone from the otherside of the issue, I am deeply interested in this discussion.

Interested enough to answer questions, Sal?

Ignoring the issue I would rate as the most effective anti-ID tactic….

The most effective anti-ID tactic, I have found, is to simply ask the IDers to TELL US THEIR SCIENTIFIC THEORY, then watch the resulting silence.

Sal, you help with that. Tremendously.

Thanks.

Comment #61231

Posted by k.e. on December 3, 2005 10:26 AM (e)

And Sals scientific theory promotion of
Intelligent Design as ?

A “factualized” definition of God The Intelligent Designer ? that has yet to “Materialize”.

A “fact” that has yet to move from the sphere of Magic to reality.

An “enigma” that is just around the corner for what now 150 years ?

A mechanical description for the greatest of all unknowns

A biological (factualization of nature) comparison to the physics of the “Big Bang” long before the Earth was a glint in the “Creators” eyes.

A natural explanation for a Supernatural being.

A Material explanation of an im-material being

A criticism of a theory he does not *like*

A description of a watchmaker

A mathematical explanation for the existence of a number and that number is the god of the universe.

The great unknown expressed as mere text on a page.

The great unknown expressed as mere formulae on a page

The great unknown expressed as mere multimedia presentation on a DVD

A question of the unquestionable

The great unknown expressed as mere statement of fact

Did you wonder why the Great Theistic Religions dropped you Sal?

Did you wonder why Eugien was so magnanimous Sal ?

My scientific theory of
Intelligent Design
“Cultural Engineering”
is ?

1.misrepresentation:
2.ad-hominem attack
3.ridicule
4.abuse of privilege
5.censorship
6.intimidation

Known throughout the entire world as politcal propoganda

Comment #61233

Posted by k.e. on December 3, 2005 10:32 AM (e)

……
Did you wonder why Eugenie Scott was so magnanimous Sal ?

My scientific theory of
Intelligent Design
“Cultural Engineering”
is ?

1.misrepresentation:
2.ad-hominem attack
3.ridicule
4.abuse of privilege
5.censorship
6.intimidation

Known throughout the entire world as politcal propoganda

Comment #61235

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 10:44 AM (e)

I sincerely hope, given the time and effort Gary et al took in analyzing Steve Verhey’s paper and the time and effort Steve Verhey took to prepare introductory remarks for this thread, that we will actually discuss the paper. This is not the place for Sal to answer Lenny’s questions especially given that he has failed to answer them on other threads as well. Gary, am I right or am I right?

Comment #61236

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

I sincerely hope, given the time and effort Gary et al took in analyzing Steve Verhey’s paper and the time and effort Steve Verhey took to prepare introductory remarks for this thread, that we will actually discuss the paper.

Let’s.

Verhey seems to be correct that discussing ID with college students who are already familiar with science and the scientific method, leads them to scrutinize and question ID.

However, the 30-year history of “public debates” with ID/creationists such as Morris, Gish etc, seem to show that discussing it with people who are NOT familiar with sciecne and how it works, leads to … nothing (other than giving the nutters another chance to raise money).

I’d be interested to hear why your approach would produce a different effect than all the Gish/Morris “debates” have. Or why you think that discussing ID with high school students who do NOT already know science and how it works, will produce the same results that teaching ID to college-level students who DO know something about science and how it works.

I.e., what, precisely, are you proposing we do, and what makes you think it will work.

Comment #61237

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

Sorry to let Sal deflect the conversation.

Sal realizes, as do all IDers, that discussing ID with an audience that *actually understands science*, is lethal to ID. Which is, I suppose, why IDers want to focus on teaching their “science” to uneducated 14 year olds, instead of college-level biology students.

My point, though, is that discussing ID with people who already understand science is unhelpful. What we need to do is teach SCIENCE to those who DON’T already understand it.

And I’m not sure how Balter’s proposal would help do that, any better than … well … just teaching them SCIENCE.

Comment #61239

Posted by Keith Douglas on December 3, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

Chip Poirot, you might want to find a good philosopher of science’s remarks on the nature of scientific knowledge as it applies to anthropology. There’s a good, though abbreivated, discussion in Social Science Under Debate by Mario Bunge, for example. (Link to it off my website, if you wish.)

Similarly for everyone in the biological sciences: there is a lot of material in the philosophy of biology that might prove useful for one or another discussion. Some of the stuff might also prove useful in poking holes in some of the ID claims: I have noticed that a lot of it is bastardized philosophy.

Comment #61240

Posted by Bob O'H on December 3, 2005 11:32 AM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Verhey seems to be correct that discussing ID with college students who are already familiar with science and the scientific method, leads them to scrutinize and question ID.

It’s not clear to me that this is correct. A couple of points:
1. The students were asked what they thought before the course after it had been completed, so it’s not a true test of change in opinion.
2. One alternative explanation is that the students in groups A and B are in a stage of contextual relativism (read the paper!), and are giving their teacher what he wants to hear. A follow-up survey a year later might have been interesting, to see if the students had really learnt anything.

Yeah, I know it’s easy to criticise from over here. As a piece of work that raises questions and possibilities, I like the paper: it gave me a new perspective on teaching, and has sparked a debate about teaching ID and evolution. So, it’s done its job.

Bob

Comment #61241

Posted by JONBOY on December 3, 2005 11:35 AM (e)

Rev Lenny ,your observations are very astute,the average person in the street posses pitifully poor knowledge of the sciences, and even less when it comes to evolution.In a letter to the local newspaper a respected M.D said “How do scientist know the Big Bang went bang,if there was no one around to hear it? this is just something they BELIEVE in”.Of course I responded with a letter of rebuttal but I fear the damage had all ready been done.

Comment #61242

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

I’d be interested to hear why your approach would produce a different effect than all the Gish/Morris “debates” have. Or why you think that discussing ID with high school students who do NOT already know science and how it works, will produce the same results that teaching ID to college-level students who DO know something about science and how it works.

I’m not sure if this is directed at me or Steve Verhey, but either way perhaps the most useful thing first would be a clarification from Steve about the actual scientific level of the students taking these intro bio classes. If this is the first bio class they take, then it might be that they come in with exactly the same knowledge of science that they left high school with. After all, there is only one sweet summer between being a high school senior and being a college freshman (at least it was a sweet summer for me, back in ‘65.)

Comment #61244

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

Mike wrote:

I sincerely hope, given the time and effort Gary et al took in analyzing Steve Verhey’s paper and the time and effort Steve Verhey took to prepare introductory remarks for this thread, that we will actually discuss the paper. This is not the place for Sal to answer Lenny’s questions

I agree. Now, I may not be friendly to the anti-ID position, and there are ID friendly lurkers interested in Dr. Verhey’s study. I myself have been interested and have been making informal demographic studies on the issue for the pro-ID side. Verhey’s method of engagement is neutral to effective for the following reasons:

1. He gives a very good anti-ID book in Dawkins
2. He presents a rather indirect-ID book as a strong pro-ID evidence and thereby make students think they’re getting the real thing, when in fact they are not

I as an ID promoter, have declared I don’t use Well’s book as a primary ID promotion. No slight on Wells, but his book is about the icons of evolution, not ID. Rerun the study with the materials I described, or some variant thereof, and I bet the outcome would be different.

I would hope more studies are done. It would be statistically interesting to continue to measure how many bio 110 majors are YECs, OECc, IDists, …AE’s. As a control group, it would be good to just measure a non-bio class to see the change in attitudes when the topic is not even addressed….

In sum, where ever anyone is on the spectrum of these issues, we can perhaps make recommendations as to how better to measure these things in a future study such that these uncertainties can be addressed.

It may be that nothing the evolutionist do, no matter how the issues are repackaged, will there be any significant change in student attitudes. I have tried to point out I’m seeing biology students up to the PhD and MD level rejecting evolutionism even after taking courses on the subject, and that data point should in itself be troubling to the premise “more education” will somehow promote evolutionism. That is the prediction I am making. If so, that is an empirical fact one must deal with.

There may be a reason there have been up until now limited numbers of IDist in the biological science quite independent of the empirical facts, it can be because the cultural and institution climate discourages participation by IDists and creationists. Thus one presumes, “more education” solves the problem, but that interpretation of the data may be suspect because of institutional dis-incentives to IDists rather than merits of evolutionary theory….

Comment #61246

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 3, 2005 12:04 PM (e)

[Lenny says:] I’d be interested to hear why your approach would produce a different effect than all the Gish/Morris “debates” have. Or why you think that discussing ID with high school students who do NOT already know science and how it works, will produce the same results that teaching ID to college-level students who DO know something about science and how it works.

I assume this is addressed at me, or maybe at Mr. Balter. Here’s my take. First, realize that most of the students in any fall term intro biology class are 3 months out of high school. At the beginning of the term, the freshmen are barely distinguishable from high school students. I’d also question how much the more experienced students actually do know about science and how it works.

Next, I hope most people already know why debates don’t work: the format (the original “s/he said…s/he said”) and the time available (one to a few hours) of a debate aren’t enough to allow presentation of complex issues to an audience that’s not already up to speed by debaters who aren’t willing to change their own positions. In my class I show a 9-minute video (“The Creation,” see reference in my paper) that beautifully summarizes (and combines) the Genesis creation stories. It is impossible to do the same for the rationalist origin stories, which are scattered across several academic disciplines, in 9 minutes – all the more so because college faculty in these disciplines rarely even speak to one another. At my university they’re housed in completely different buildings, in a couple of cases on opposite sides of campus. No wonder students compartmentalize their knowledge so much!

So, two reasons for a reason to think the result might be different from a debate:

1. One of the keys to my approach is that it is interdisciplinary. Biology explain where the elements came/come from, for example, and this isn’t covered in intro chemistry classes, either. I’m not sure about whether it’s covered in physics classes. Unfortunately, my fellow faculty (both here and at most other universities) think a collaboration between a zoologist and a botanist is impressively interdisciplinary. In a debate, a botanist talking about animals would probably be challenged as being out of his/her area of expertise, even though any well-educated botanist should be a switch-hitter (unfortunately, this is not true of zoologists).

2. Another key to my approach is that it unfolds over the course of 12 weeks. It takes time for this stuff to sink in, after all. And I’m asking students to actually think about it, which is another rarity.

Comment #61247

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 3, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

Whoops: I meant biology doesn’t explain where the elements came/come from.

Comment #61248

Posted by PZ Myers on December 3, 2005 12:25 PM (e)

Mr Cordova: The books you list as pro ID are just as focused on negative and false attacks on evolution as Wells’ horrid little screed. That they “converted” people who were already predisposed to accept creationism is meaningless; a course that used Behe instead of Wells would conclude with this same sentiment:

But while Dawkins is unapologetic and appears not to care what his reader thinks of him, [Behe’s] tone at the beginning of [DBB] is exceedingly soothing and reasonable. By the end of the class, students completely reversed their opinions of Dawkins and [Behe], which I think was very good for their critical thinking skills.

In fact, there is no book from the ID camp that presents an iota of evidence to support their ridiculous conclusions.

Comment #61250

Posted by BWE on December 3, 2005 12:31 PM (e)

Heywood, I guess I glanced at your site once before but I actually scanned it after reading the cat’s / dogs thing you wrote earlier. I am reminded of a story my dad tells. He went to a rural elementary school in the 30’s and he had a sort of a buddist awakening moment that life was about being jacked around by people who didn’t know much and our job is to not care. He took a test and one question asked what is the opposite of a dog? He put “space”. 1st grade here. THe teacher told him “No, Donnie, a DOg is the poosite of cat.”

His reply, “No. If you think about it they both have four legs, they both hunt and eat meat, they both are covered with fur, they both give birth to live babies and feed them on milk. In fact they are almost the same thing if you think about it.”

He got his answer marked wrong anyway. He did get the opposite of “Day” right though. This little story is just to illustrate that a dog might be born with retractible claws through a genetic mutation or 30. What would you call it then?

I am sorry to say this to you because normally I like to make offensive remarks behind people’s back rather than straight to their faces through their monitors (i’m an evolutionist, remember) but this case is special. Mr. Heywood, are you a joke? I mean, are you a bunch of high school kids parodying a christian wingnut? Because if you are real, you are so wrong about what is on your site and you really need to know that you should be embarrassed.

Comment #61252

Posted by frank schmidt on December 3, 2005 12:45 PM (e)

From reading the article, I think that the limiting issue is engaging students and getting them to understand the nature of science. So who has useful information about how to do this? Prof. Verhey, can you give us any hints about how you taught NOS? Thanks.

Comment #61253

Posted by Chip Poirot on December 3, 2005 12:51 PM (e)

Keith,

I am pretty knowledgeable on philosophy of science debates as applied to the social sciences. That’s not to say I can’t learn a few things.

I’ll take a look at your suggested sources.

Comment #61255

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 3, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

I’ve just been reflecting on the importance of the interdisciplinary approach, and remembering where it all started. It turns out the web page of that class, with mention of the very event is still up at The Evergreen State College. I had been put in office next to Mark Levensky, a philosopher, when I arrived there as a visiting member of the faculty. He was (and is) a wonderful mentor, and we exchanged visits to one another’s classes. He talked to my students about the pre-Socratic philosophers (unfortunately the link on the class web page is broken), and I talked to his about X-ray crystallography and molecular modeling.

Now, I have excellent liberal education credentials, even if I wasn’t a star student, and I had never heard of the pre-Socratics. The reading list for the class in which I would have learned about them hasn’t changed much, and they’re not covered, or at least not emphasized.

One reason the pre-Socratics are so important (even Popper wrote a book about them: The World of Parminides) to the current topic is that they were working at about the same time as the prophet Ezekiel (notice that everyone has heard of him!). Many people believe history starts with the Bible, but science started with the pre-Socratics, earlier than many of the events in the Bible. And not, as a recent New York Times article stated, with Galileo, for crying out loud.

I have to try to get some stuff done today, so I’m signing off for a few hours. I loved the story about what’s the opposite of a dog, and I’ll try to respond to Frank’s question soon. The pre-Socratics are a good start, though.

Comment #61256

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 3, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

I have to learn to let these little errors go, but I misspelled Parmenides’ name. Also, it looks like Hum 110 covered the pre-Socratics this year on Friday, 23 September. I’ll have to check the class notes I’ve been moving with for the past 25 years to see if/when they were covered when I took the class.

Comment #61257

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 3, 2005 1:12 PM (e)

Salvador wrote:

Mike wrote:

I sincerely hope, given the time and effort Gary et al took in analyzing Steve Verhey’s paper and the time and effort Steve Verhey took to prepare introductory remarks for this thread, that we will actually discuss the paper. This is not the place for Sal to answer Lenny’s questions

I agree.

Okay, fair enough: but where is the place you will answer Lenny’s questions Sal?

Comment #61260

Posted by Bob O'H on December 3, 2005 1:16 PM (e)

Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

I as an ID promoter, have declared I don’t use Well’s book as a primary ID promotion. No slight on Wells, but his book is about the icons of evolution, not ID. Rerun the study with the materials I described, or some variant thereof, and I bet the outcome would be different.

Well, if you follow Dembski’s approach, you will. He uses a book about the history of evolutionary thought, rather than a book on evolution, to represent the evolution side. Now, Bowler is a good historian, but he doesn’t cover contemporary evolutionary theory very well (it’s not his intention). A tad unfair, in my view.

Oh, and of 4 books you suggest, doesn’t only DBB postdate 1987? i.e. it is the only one that is not a Creationist tome?

Bob

Comment #61261

Posted by Russell on December 3, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

Kind of amusing and at the same time frustrating.

Dr. Verhey’s efforts, and Dr. Hurd’s in airing them, seem to be a thoughtful and careful approach to the question: “how do we teach science in such a way that students come to appreciate that it’s not just a question of ‘he says/ she says’, or of political/religious/philosophical perspective?”

And then along comes Salvador T. Cordova with his “from my [equally valid] pro-ID perspective…”

On the bright side, though, I watched as Stephen Elliott first started participating in these Panda’s Thumb discussions - obviously sympathetic to the ID point of view - and was persuaded, not by the unhelpful invective of impatient evophiles, but by the patently anti-intellectual efforts of STC et al.

The other thing that occurred to me - before I started reading the comments here - was that Dr. Verhey’s project might be more at home in a social anthropology setting. (I think it would have kept me awake far more effectively than the endless dissection of Yamamamo kinship relationships, or whatever the hell they were on about when I took the course.) Then I saw that Chip Poirot is way ahead of me on that. Perhaps this is one of those projects that would be ideally addressed by an interdepartmental collaboration. Biologists could be responsible for making sure the scientific background is in place, while the social scientists can deal with the more central aspects of “the controversy”.

Comment #61263

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 1:30 PM (e)

Sal, if you’re not going to answer questions, and have nothing useful to add to the discussion, then please shut up and go away.

Thanks.

Comment #61264

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

First, realize that most of the students in any fall term intro biology class are 3 months out of high school. At the beginning of the term, the freshmen are barely distinguishable from high school students. I’d also question how much the more experienced students actually do know about science and how it works.

OK, I was under the impression that these were biology or sciecne students. Thanks for correcting that for me. Given that, how much effort do you have to put in, early on, to show them what sciecne is and how it works, before then going on to apply that to ID? And is there anything to indicate that even among those students who don’t change their minds about ID/evolution, at least the “this is how science works” part sinks in a bit? Or, do those who’ve already made up their mind, simply reject out of hand everything they don’t like and go on as before?

If the “science” part sticks, then it would seem to me that the same approach you use would work just as well if, instead of ID, we had students consider, say, ESP or flying saucers or Bigfoot or alien abductions. Yes? No?

If so, it would seem to be more helpful to approach this as a general “BS detector”, rather than specifically an “ID is baloney” thingie. After all, it certainly would be far more valuable for students to learn how to apply critical thinking skills not just to ID, but to all sorts of BS – everything from political campaign speeches to advertisements for deodorants.

Yes? No?

Comment #61265

Posted by steve s on December 3, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

Salvador said:

From a population standpoint, in the short term I think the most effective anti-ID tactics are the ad-hominem, intimidation, misreresentation, and ridicule: an abundance of which I see.

You forgot about my favorite tactic, the Juxtaposed Quotes. For instance, just this week your friend Bill Dembski said:

The designer responsible for biological complexity, by contrast, need only be a being capable of arranging finite material objects to display certain patterns. Accordingly, this designer need not even be infinite. Likewise, that designer need not be personal or transcendent (cf. the “designer” in Stoic philosophy).

Bottom line: Jon Stewart & Co. are funny people, but their one-liners are no substitute for clear thinking.

and “DaveScot” commented further that

ID doesn’t speak to:

1) creation of matter

so I added a comment which quoted Dembski

William Dembski himself said: “The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design.”
(in The Act of Creation: Bridging Transcendence and Immanence)

Of course, Dembski then whipped out an anti-anti-ID tactic, and deleted and banned me.

Comment #61268

Posted by k.e. on December 3, 2005 1:46 PM (e)

Sal
Someone posted a note about debating IDiots.

“there is an old chinese proverb don’t wrestle with pigs you only get dirty and they love it”

And I tend to agree

Here is an old Hog myth from de Bredders in J’maca.

http://www.mythfolklore.net/3043mythfolklore/reading/jamaica/pages/24.htm

Comment #61273

Posted by steve s on December 3, 2005 1:58 PM (e)

Remarkably, i just checked Dembski’s site, and Dembski undeleted my comment sometime after i posted about the deletion on ed brayton’s blog. Man, Dembski takes perfidy to a whole new level.

Comment #61282

Posted by Milo Johnson on December 3, 2005 3:23 PM (e)

“Atheistic Evolutionist (AE) - The supernatural does not exist; philosophical materialism tells us god does not exist; the origin of the universe was is and entirely natural.”

I simply find it mind-boggling that this position is considered an EXTREME in the linear continuum of possibilities. There is NO evidence to support any supernatural contentions, yet by turning this into a lineated series of opinions/beliefs, the only RATIONAL position has been portrayed as a marginal fringe belief.

Comment #61285

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 3, 2005 3:32 PM (e)

Posted by Milo Johnson on December 3, 2005 03:23 PM (e) (s)

“Atheistic Evolutionist (AE) - The supernatural does not exist; philosophical materialism tells us god does not exist; the origin of the universe was is and entirely natural.”

I simply find it mind-boggling that this position is considered an EXTREME in the linear continuum of possibilities. There is NO evidence to support any supernatural contentions, yet by turning this into a lineated series of opinions/beliefs, the only RATIONAL position has been portrayed as a marginal fringe belief.

Milo,
What on Earth does that mean?

Comment #61292

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

Milo,
What on Earth does that mean?

TEXT DELETED gh{Let’s all maintain “plays well with the others”}

Comment #61293

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

I simply find it mind-boggling that this position is considered an EXTREME in the linear continuum of possibilities. There is NO evidence to support any supernatural contentions, yet by turning this into a lineated series of opinions/beliefs, the only RATIONAL position has been portrayed as a marginal fringe belief.

But if you look at the raw data posted by Verhey on his Web site, you will see that this position reflects the attitudes of only a very small minority of the students before taking the class. In other words, it is a marginal belief, like it or not. And as I have pointed out repeatedly, opinion polls of Americans overall consistently show that only 13% of American adults believe that evolution took place entirely unaided by God. Again, this is our starting point, and all the more reason why approaches like Verhey’s must be taken seriously.

Comment #61296

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 3, 2005 4:32 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott,

What Milo is refering to is the selection criterial for the “Atheistic Evolutionist (AE)” category used by Prof. Verhey. I also find problems with the categories employed, and specifically found it inappropriate to use them in any scale, or even scale-like manner. Thus, it is basically meaningless to talk about a student “moving X units” toward something or other.

Now, I understand that these categories were not developed by Prof. Verhey. There are however other sources, for example one by Eugenie C. Scott, with IMHO better historical and philosophical grasp of creationism. The excellent book by Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (1993, Berkeley: University of California Press) certainly lends itself to a more meaningful scale.

But, even better, there are very well established methods for scale construction that exist. This is long out of print I am sure, but Scaling: A Sourcebook for Behavioral Scientists, Gary Maranell (ed) was one of the more useful books of my professional career.

A small study such as Prof. Verhey’s can not really start from first principles, and his selection of the categories proposed by Nelson (1986) was merely unfortunate.

Nelson CE. 1986. “Creation, Evolution, or Both? A Multiple Model Approach.” Pages 128–159 in Hanson R, ed. Science and Creation. New York: Macmillan.

Comment #61297

Posted by B. Spitzer on December 3, 2005 4:38 PM (e)

It seems as though there are a couple of potentially fruitful issues in this thread, though it’s wandering:

One is the question “How can we best teach college students about the ID controversy?” (This is a very pertinent question for me, since I get to put a method to the test in about 30 days.) I wholeheartedly agree that we need to engage students at the level of their current understanding, and I’m all for Dr. Verhey’s approach.

One lesson that all anti-ID folks could take from this study (as well as from the personal accounts of former creationists like Stephen Elliott) is that, in order to convince people that evolution is scientific and accurate, we need to meet them where they are in terms of their understanding of the issues, rather than deriding them for not being where we are after years of study.

The second issue that I’m seeing is the question about whether (and, if so, how) defenders of evolutionary theory should engage in public debates with ID proponents.

It seems to me that the big problem is that the ID proponents who are willing to debate publicly are trained as showmen. That gives them an advantage in public debates that most professors of biology don’t have.

Perhaps what we need are a few pro-evolutionary debaters who are also trained as showmen– able to hold their own on a stage and deliver better science than the opposition. They needn’t be especially stellar researchers– after all, this debate hardly turns on subtle interpretations of the latest scientific findings. But it does seem as though science has ceded the realm of PR to the anti-evolutionists. Perhaps it’s time for a concerted effort on our part to take it back.

–B

Comment #61298

Posted by Russell on December 3, 2005 4:39 PM (e)

…the only RATIONAL position has been portrayed as a marginal fringe belief.

This atheist would have to disagree. I’d be more comfortable with the “nontheistic evolution” position, because it doesn’t freight science with an extraneous mission. I also don’t really see anything irrational about the “theistic evolution” position; whether or not a belief in god(s) is “rational”, it leaves that out of the practice of science. And while I’m not unsympathetic to the “AE” point of view, I have to wonder what could be considered more extreme than that.

On a slightly different note, and at the risk of being censured/censored for dragging this high-minded discussion into the partisan gutter, I can’t help but feel that this link speaks to the issue raised above by Lenny and others on the state of science literacy in this country.

Comment #61299

Posted by Michael Balter on December 3, 2005 4:41 PM (e)

Gary, are these other scales appropriate for student self-description, which was the basis of the Verhey paper? I can imagine that some scales would only be appropriate for use by an external evaluator, while others could be used by students directly to evaluate their own beliefs.

Comment #61300

Posted by B. Spitzer on December 3, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

A minor comment about the resources suggested by Salvador Cordova: Dr. Cordova suggests that Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis consists of a powerful “pro-ID” piece of literature. From my personal experience, any course that provided a halfway competent critique of this book would leave it in tatters.

Evolution: A Theory in Crisis was the first anti-evolutionist book I ever read; a biologist friend and I both read it during the summer after our junior year as undergraduates. Even though neither of us had so much as a bachelor’s degree, and had each only ever taken a single course in evolutionary biology, we were both immediately able to recognize the fatal flaws in Denton’s arguments.

I draw two lessons from this experience. The first is that exposing students to the anti-evolution literature will certainly show a lot of them exactly how empty it is, especially if they’re also provided with a decent critique of that literature. It is not just that ID advocates want to see ID taught– it’s that they want to see ID taught without rebuttal or criticism.

The second lesson is that the luminaries of ID who find Denton convincing– Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, Bill Dembski, and all the rest– should be severely embarrassed. When a couple of undergrads show better critical-thinking skills than you do, you’re making yourself look pretty shabby, “Ivy-League Ph.D.” or not. Dr. Cordova, if you’re listening: you’d better push your IDEA students to critically evaluate Dr. Denton’s arguments, rather than swallowing everything he says whole. Frankly, if you’re teaching your students to lean on broken reeds, you’re doing them no favors– spiritually or intellectually.

Comment #61304

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 3, 2005 4:50 PM (e)

Michael Balter said:

First of all I want to thank Gary for beginning this thread and generating a discussion of Steve Verhey’s paper on PT. I hope he will allow me to make one correction to his characterization of my statements when I introduced this paper into the “Contrarian or Just Lame?” thread: I never said that the paper “vindicated” my proposals for debating ID, but that it was “relevant” to the discussion. I also said that I personally thought Verhey’s approach could be adapted to the high school situation, but of course that has not been done yet, and so I could hardly claim that my position was vindicated—only that the BioScience paper possibly pointed to a way of doing what I was suggesting.

I think there may be First Amendment problems with teaching in high school using religious beliefs that could be pronounced “false.”

That’s what got us into this fix in the first place.

Teach a class like this a couple hundred times in colleges, see what happens. Then we’ll have some data to discuss.

For high school, one would be better off to discuss some concept different from evolution – Big Bang vs. Steady State, for example.

Comment #61307

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

Dr. Cordova suggests that Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis consists of a powerful “pro-ID” piece of literature.

That’s because Cordova is too dumb to know, or too dishonest to tell you, that Denton’s subsequent book repudiated this one, and that dentom himself abandoned ID and asked to be removed as a “fellow” of Discovery Institute.

On a slightly different note, and at the risk of being censured/censored for dragging this high-minded discussion into the partisan gutter, I can’t help but feel that this link speaks to the issue raised above by Lenny and others on the state of science literacy in this country.

I don’t think there’s anything “partisan” about it —- it is crushingly obvious that science itself has come under attack by the current administration to a degree unprecedented by any previous American presidency. On nearly every issue, the Bush Administration has demonstrated a willingness to ignore science and even suppress it in favor of its ideological preferences.

See Chris Mooney’s “The Republican War on Science”.

Anyone who dismisses this as “partisan politics” had better open his/her eyes and take a good long look around.

And no, BTW, I am not a Democrat.

(And, in keeping with what I said earlier about why education in the US is such a mess, this is one reason why education in the US will not improve – the powers that be simply don’t WANT it to.)

Comment #61308

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 3, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

TEXT DELETED gh {Let’s all maintain “plays well with the others”}

Comment #61311

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 4:58 PM (e)

This atheist would have to disagree. I’d be more comfortable with the “nontheistic evolution” position, because it doesn’t freight science with an extraneous mission.

I agree. Our role is to keep crap out of science classrooms, not to stamp out religious thought.

Comment #61313

Posted by Chris Lawson on December 3, 2005 5:10 PM (e)

Thanks for the fascinating paper, Dr. Verhey. And thank you for also pointing out that this paper only applied to college students and is not a good model for high school.

I have a question: how do you intend to modify your course in the light of what you have learned from this paper?

Comment #61314

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

Mike Balter wrote:

But if you look at the raw data posted by Verhey on his Web site, you will see that this position reflects the attitudes of only a very small minority of the students before taking the class. In other words, it is a marginal belief, like it or not. And as I have pointed out repeatedly, opinion polls of Americans overall consistently show that only 13% of American adults believe that evolution took place entirely unaided by God. Again, this is our starting point, and all the more reason why approaches like Verhey’s must be taken seriously.

Thank you. If I may say, I think Dr. Verhey is asking interesting questions. I myself commissioned the atheist/agnostic group known at the Freethikers at Jason Rosenhouse’s school to ask about the interest level in ID: Reflection Nature April 28, 2005 and we indicated 70% interest in ID and/or creation science. That was an indirect question, but it indicates the students don’t view it as a “flat earth” issue. The sampling was crude, but nominally consistent with other polls, and thus it was at least personally re-assuring to see some repeatability in results first hand. They are genuinely interested in it. Furthermore, the Freethinkers unanimously expressed interest in the class and said they wanted to take it even though they also were the ones to support Darwin Day.

Furthermore, I have focus groups in our IDEA chapters to assess which arguments from both sides are the most convincing. I’ve been tallying these thing up informally, but it is imporatant to refining the methodolgy of communication.

Though Verhey is on the opposite side of the issue, he is at least showing that he is trying to identify the best approach for his side quantitatively, which is more than I can say for his peers. And if Gary and company conclude that the study is uncertain, I think everyone would be interested in knowing how perhaps to repeat the study in a way that will get the answers.

However, his study has already been informative to me. For example, I’ll be reluctant to distribute Gishlick’s rebuttal without Well’s counter rebuttal. I believe Verhey has shown me, as an ID promoter, which format of teaching would be damaging to my side, so I will take steps not to inadvertantly structure our disucussion sessions such that they essentially follow Verhey’s course.

The study confirms one data point which I concur with, Icon of Evolution, would not be the favored “first material” on ID if IDist wish to teach a college class on the material.

The favored first ID material would be the Privileged Planet video, then Unlocking the Mystery of Life as those video scored the best points with the audiences.

I would be interested to know how many creationists and IDists are in the biology 110 classes on average and if Verhey’s tally is truly representative.

We know the general demographics of the student body, but not in the intro biology classes. At Iowa State, an informal poll indicated 1/3 of the biology freshman class were creationists (Adam and Eve lieteralists).

It seems Verhey’s study indicates a significant amount of students in his class were creationists.

Comment #61319

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

From verhey’s report:

Section A contained
more self-reported CL or YE creationists compared with
other sections (53 percent in section A, 34 percent in section
B, 33 percent in section C, and 8 percent in section D)…..
reported that 17 percent of
students in an introductory biology course at a midwestern
community college identified themselves as CL creationists…..
Eve and Dunn
(1990) reported that 25 percent of US high school life science
teachers agreed with the same statement[ about creation].

The following indicates to me evolutionary theory is needelessly driving away future biologists and ensureing the institutional reasons evolutionary theory is perpetuated in biology

The data of McKeachie and colleagues (2002), while not
couched in terms of the Perry model, indicate that “steadfast
creationists” differ markedly from more rationalist students
in measurements of test anxiety, intrinsic motivation, selfefficacy,
and task value. In general, these students “memorized
more and thought about ideas less.” These characteristics are
consistent with Perry’s first two modes, dualism and multiplicity.
McKeachie and colleagues (2002) found that a disproportionate
number of students who did not accept
evolution either dropped the class or otherwise declined to
take the post-test.

I can say, I don’t think many creationists in the biology department who are seniors would be willing to take a poll for fear of identification. That’s a data point that will be hard to capture accurately, but one that would be the most interesting. Most of these choose jobs outside of academia and in the medical profession. One poll indicated 18% of physicians are creationists and a total of 37% IDists, and 60% “God guided” view. Many of those were biology students in one way or another.

Comment #61321

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 3, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

Hey Salvador,
Is there a theory of ID?
If so; what is it?
Is it testable? Is it falsifiable?

Comment #61322

Posted by BWE on December 3, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

Sal said:

The following indicates to me evolutionary theory is needelessly driving away future biologists and ensureing the institutional reasons evolutionary theory is perpetuated in biology

My wife teaches science to middle schoolers and is indeed my “better half”. She is calm cool, collected. SHe sees all types come through. I haven’t seen her upset about anything the district says or does for years. She just said this to me so I will quote it: “If they ask us to teach ID, no problem. I’ll put loud circus music on and we’ll wear party hats.” endquote.

Sal, I suspect she wouldn’t really do that. She is very sensitive to students’ families beliefs. But she laughed and dismissed it as she said it so I am not sure. She seems to think the district would never do it. But I can imagine less mellow science teachers scaring away those who cling to the belief systems inherited from millenia of ancestors were ID required teaching. Some might get fired even. She is of the opinion that understanding the parts of a cell come way before trying to decide whether they are the product of god’s mystical incantations at the dawn of time.

So, she weighs in on Verhey’s side. Don’t confuse kids about sciencew before they learn what it is.

Comment #61323

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

I don’t find Dr. Verhey’s paper fascinating. I find it silly.

If you teach moderately educated and sincere people the undisputed facts about the intelligent design movement and its history, and compare those facts with the history of biological science, those people will understand why intelligent design is garbage.

If you teach moderately educated fundamentalist Christians the same facts, the “True Believer” – e.g., Salvador Cordova and his kind – will do everything possible to ignore those facts, including pretending that the facts don’t exist and that another set of facts does exist.

In any group of moderately educated people, you will find a continuum of human beings with different degrees of willingness to self-deceive.

People with a grater dedree of willingness to self-deceive – i.e., fundamentalist or deeply religious people with an emotional investment in their religion – are going to be less “reachable” by teaching the facts about any subject which disagrees with teaching from their preachers or from their holy books.

Nobody disputes this and nobody ever has.

All of the above is obvious. That is why I find Dr. Verhey’s paper silly to the extent it pretends to approach the issue of penetrating the pride some human beings have in holding religious beliefs above facts from a “scientific” or statistical perspective.

Dr. Verhey wrote:

First, realize that most of the students in any fall term intro biology class are 3 months out of high school. At the beginning of the term, the freshmen are barely distinguishable from high school students.

Really? Last time I checked, colleges have admissions criteria. A great many of my peers in high school did not go to college.

Freshman college classrooms are not equal to high school senior classrooms.

Careless statements like the quoted statement are troubling.

I learned about creationists and “creation science” in high school. I also learned about religious fundamentalism in high school. I learned about the Spanish inquisition in high school and I learned about Galileo’s experiences in high school. I learned about politics in high school and I learned about propaganda.

I also learned about science, especially chemistry, biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. I learned how scientists have contributed to eradicating or reducing a lot of nasty diseases and how they continue to struggle to do so.

And I put two and two together and – guess what – two and two added up to four.

People who cannot put two and two together need help.

Either they need a better education in all areas of knowledge from the get-go (which is unlikely to happen in the United States barring a major change in our society’s priorities) or they need to be “deprogrammed,” i.e., they need to be taught why and how institutions like the Discovery Institute are able to peddle

With respect to the operations of institutions like the Discovery Institute, there is very little confusion about how Institutes like that operate among people who have some understanding of politics and propaganda. There is also very little discussion in the mainstream media of facts about the Discovery Institute, its behavior, and the behavior of its members. Why do you suppose that is? I think the answer is plain and it plainly relates back to the fundamental issue – the education of our population.

People who whine and whimper about the ridicule dished out by Lenny and PZ (and this blog although not as frequently and not as persuasively) as well as people who believe this is all about a misunderstanding of “how evolution works” are missing the point.

Please recall: there is no “theory” of “intelligent design.” Never ever ever forget this.

There is only a desire of religious people to diminish the status of science and to have their religious beliefs coddled and/or promoted in public school science classrooms by the government.

That’s it.

Those are the FACTS. They are incontrovertible, i.e., you can not succeed in proving otherwise without lying or pretending that you are living on a planet where the past 100 years of biological science never hapened.

Why would anyone who is genuinely interested in shutting down the influence of the Discovery Institute on American discourse pretend that these aren’t the facts?

I would appreciate an answer from Dr. Verhey or Michael Balter, or an admission that they aren’t interested in achieving that goal any time in the near future.

Finally, I want to add that if you are interested in the state of public education in this country and the politics relating to public education, I highly recommend reading Bob Somerby’s blog, “The Daily Howler,” www.dailyhowler.com, on a daily basis. Mr. Somerby is an excellent teacher in his own right and, to my knowledge, he is one of handful of journalists who are investigating and reporting on some of the hot issues in a serious and rigorous fashion.

Comment #61328

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 6:26 PM (e)

Salvador (who I loathe addressing because of his previous willful and blatant fabrications in the comments of this blog, comments which he has never retracted or apologized for):

I myself commissioned the atheist/agnostic group known at the Freethikers at Jason Rosenhouse’s school to ask about the interest level in ID: Reflection Nature April 28, 2005 and we indicated 70% interest in ID and/or creation science. That was an indirect question, but it indicates the students don’t view it as a “flat earth” issue.

ID is not a “flat earth” issue. There is no organization akin to the Discovery Institute that promotes “flat earth” and manufactures scripts to agitate the susceptibe and the ignorant.

Salvador’s post, as usual, is excellent evidence of the propagandistic nature of “ID”.

Just look at what he says:

I have focus groups in our IDEA chapters to assess which arguments from both sides are the most convincing

And why is that? Sal tells us:

I believe Verhey has shown me, as an ID promoter, which format of teaching would be damaging to my side, so I will take steps not to inadvertantly structure our disucussion sessions such that they essentially follow Verhey’s course.

In other words, the point is not to give people the relevant facts so they can make up their minds. The point is to evangelize.

Remember that the Discovery Institute, as Sal indicates, would love nothing more than for science to become politics in the minds of the rubes that it targets with its propaganda. Science, for the Discovery Institute, is just a “worldview,” no different from the “worldviews” held by Democrats and Republicans or Buddhists. Or so they Discovery Institute would have us believe.

I wonder out loud again: does anyone here disagree? Dr. Verhey? Mr. Balter?

I really would appreciate it if you would admit these facts and not hesitate from pointing them out in your discussions of “intelligent design” and its “appeal.” Or, if you won’t admit them, I’d love to know why you disagree.

Back so Sal

favored first ID material would be the Privileged Planet video, then Unlocking the Mystery of Life as those video scored the best points with the audiences

Yes, television is a very powerful medium for selling ideas.

Anyone want to dispute this plain fact?

So, here’s a simple question: if scientists want to get the facts about the Discovery Institute and its operations out to the public, how might scientists go about doing this?

Hint: it will require money.

Obvious question: where do I donate and why hasn’t this blog made it easy for me to do so?

It’s 2005,folks.

Comment #61330

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

Salvador’s post, as usual, is excellent evidence of the propagandistic nature of “ID”.

Anyone wondering where Sal is getting his talking points from? Wonder no longer:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/12/we_agree_lets_have_a_real_deba.html

We Agree! Let’s Have a Real Debate on Intelligent Design

In a column in USA TODAY (December 1), conservative columnist Cal Thomas and liberal Democratic strategist Bob Beckel reach unusual and welcome agreement on a policy of openness toward intelligent design. “Let’s have a public debate on the merits,” they suggest.

What a radical proposal! Imagine, we live in a democracy, we have a field of science that supposedly is open to constant self-criticism, and here we see introduced a totally new and amazing concept: “debate on the merits”!

We fully agree and are ready and willing.

Unfortunately, as the article makes clear, the Darwinists are neither ready or willing. They will do anything to avoid a serious debate “on the merits”. For example, a conference organized by the American Museum of Natural History this past week, and reported breathlessly in the mainstream media, describes the kind of deliberation on intelligent design the Darwinists propose.

That is, put four speakers on a panel, and make sure all of them are opponents of ID. The only disagreement allowed is over which pejorative explanation for the success of ID is most persuasive. In the AMNH meeting the answer was that ID is the product of a truly historic public relations campaign.

I hate that kind of statement. Not only does it demean the AMNH by showing an unwillingness to hear the actual evidence for ID from fellow scientists who support the theory, but it is bound to give Discovery’s over-worked media relations director, Rob Crowther, a big head. He will want a raise. What an underhanded way for the Darwinists to put more financial pressure on us!

So I have another suggestion. Maybe they should introduce into their thinking, if not their meetings, the mere possibility that the reason ID is on so many minds and is causing the AMNH to hold one-sided academic conferences, is that the scientific case against Darwinism and for ID is building by the month–with an increasing articles, books, lab work and more individual scientists deciding to throw in with us (30 in the last month alone). Maybe the reason Harvard is raising money to conduct research in support of Darwin’s theory and Cornell’s president is declaring ID a national threat is that the Darwinists are not confident at all. Why, when I was at Harvard, the evidence for Darwin’s theory was already proven for the ages–supposedly. Are the Darwinists possibly seeing the scientific sand wash out from under their feet?

If that’s not the true explanation, and it’s just PR prowess that is making a name for ID, then the way the Darwinists can really demolish us is to hold the kind of fair and extensive scientific debate that conservative Cal Thomas and liberal Bob Beckel propose, right? In such a scholarly setting, the likes of Darwinians Ken Miller and Larry Krause and Genie Scott should be able to crush the scientific pretensions of ID scientists, agreed?

But perhaps those two fine gentlemen writing the USA TODAY article probably don’t fully appreciate that science has now changed, and that the “new scientific method” is to smear anyone raising doubts about Darwin and, at all costs, avoid an objective debate about the evidence.

Actually, we suspect that Mssrs. Thomas and Beckel may have figured that out, too. Still, even raising the issue of debate helps point out the actual issues at hand, doesn’t it? We are grateful for their proposal. We accept!

And why is DI so eager and anxious to “debate” in front of uneducated 14 year olds, but not within the pages of peer-reviewed science journals? Oh, that’s right — because ID doesn’t have any science to offer. It’s just the same tired old fundamentalist BS that we heard 30 years ago from ICR and AIG.

Just like Sal.

If ID has something scientific to say, then they shoulfd stop spending all of Ahmanson’s money on PR politicla campaigns, spend it in a lab instread to do some real scientific research, and then publish it in peer-reviewed sciecne journals like everyone else does.

But they won’t. They can’t. They don’t have any. (shrug)

And that,m uytlimately, is why it’s a waste of time “debating” with IDers. They quite literally have nothing to “debate”.

Comment #61333

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 3, 2005 6:42 PM (e)

Hat tip to Lenny and RegisteredUser.

Comment #61334

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 6:42 PM (e)

If the “science” part sticks, then it would seem to me that the same approach you use would work just as well if, instead of ID, we had students consider, say, ESP or flying saucers or Bigfoot or alien abductions. Yes? No?

If so, it would seem to be more helpful to approach this as a general “BS detector”, rather than specifically an “ID is baloney” thingie. After all, it certainly would be far more valuable for students to learn how to apply critical thinking skills not just to ID, but to all sorts of BS — everything from political campaign speeches to advertisements for deodorants.

Yes? No?

Sal has shown pretty clearly why I think the “debate ID in class” tactic won’t work, and why I think the “teach a BS detector” is better. IDers have been crapping their pants for years now to get their BS into classrooms and have it “seriously discussed”. I see no need to help them. Better, I think, to use things like Bigfoot and flying sacuers to point out that BS is BS, no matter **who** slings it or in what format. ID is BS, just like Bigfoot and alien abductions. Pointing out to students that this BS all uses the same basic “logic”, helps to drive home the point, without giving the IDers what they want.

It’s simply not possible to teach students to analyze pseudoscience until AFTER they know and understand what science is and how it works.

And THAT should be our focus.

Comment #61335

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 6:47 PM (e)

The favored first ID material would be the Privileged Planet video, then Unlocking the Mystery of Life as those video scored the best points with the audiences

Do either of those contian a scientific theory of ID that can be tested using the scientific method?

Why not?

If IDers want to “present both sides”, then why are they so reluctant to publicly tell us WHAT THEIR SCIENTIFIC THEORY IS.

Or is it just because they don’t have any, and are simply lying to us when they claim they do?

How does one teach “both sides” of a controversy when one side, well, refuses to tell us what their side *is*?

Comment #61336

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

Unregistered:

I have focus groups in our IDEA chapters to assess which arguments from both sides are the most convincing

And why is that? Sal tells us:

I believe Verhey has shown me, as an ID promoter, which format of teaching would be damaging to my side, so I will take steps not to inadvertantly structure our disucussion sessions such that they essentially follow Verhey’s course.

I don’t view Gishlick’s counter rebuttal as fair, and neither do I view the approach Verhey used as the accurate way ID is to be portrayed. Dawkins effectively makes a lot of baseless and erroneous claims about information theory, and until one is more educated in these topics one does not find the holes. At our last IDEA meeting we had quite a number of computer science and electrical engineering students at the senior undergrad and PhD level. They have an appreciation for communication and information theory and the open minded ones can recognize Dawkins is full of garbage. I’m not so sure an 18-year-old would quickly recognize that. That’s why I would have a problem, morally, introducting Dawkins false claims into a class room.

I have no problem encouraging ID leaning biology majors at the junior and senior level to study evolutionary theory (amazing so many get to that level in school and are not exposed to it, as A. Orr said, “evolutionary theory doesn’t get Junior into medical school”). I tell them, answering test question does not equate to a profession of faith. They take the classes and find the extrapolations of evolution unconvincing. These include student of molecular genetics, physiology and anatomy, developmental biology, etc. Once IDists makes it to junior year in biology, I’ve yet to see a deconversion into the BlindWatchmaker view of reality. But until they get a solid grounding in science, I’m reluctant to see them exposed to Dawkins and Gishlick….

Salvador

Comment #61337

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

STOP IT! GH

Comment #61342

Posted by NJ on December 3, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

Steve Verhey wrote:

…and I talked to his about X-ray crystallography and molecular modeling.

OK, very OT (but not a flame, Gary, cut me some slack!) but how did you approach this? My impression has that leading a non-specialized class off into crystallography would be the equivalent of spraying “Bat Sleep” into the room. Keep in mind that I say this as a person who remembers that Ibar43m is space group #217 in the International Tables….

And they say I’m a geek!
Neil

Comment #61343

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 7:00 PM (e)

Sal

neither do I view the approach Verhey used as the accurate way ID is to be portrayed.

By your own admission, Sal, ID is a non-scientific philosophical concept that you promote by burying facts which illustrate its nature and its scientific vacuity and uselessnes.

An accurate way to portray ID, then, would be to describe it as “a non-scientific philosophical concept that the Discovery Institute and its disciples promote by burying facts which illustrate its nature and its scientific vacuity and uselessnes.”

Additional accuracy would be gained by teaching likely explanations for the Discovery Institute’s motives for teaching ID.

So, once again, Sal’s utterly corrupt rhetoric is exposed for everyone to see.

Comment #61344

Posted by Russell on December 3, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

Dawkins effectively makes a lot of baseless and erroneous claims about information theory, and until one is more educated in these topics one does not find the holes.

A bit off-topic for here, but I’ve opened a thread over at “After the Bar Closes” where you can expand on Dawkins’s deficiencies in this area.

Comment #61345

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

A strange comment from the disturbing article referred to by Lenny above

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/12/we_agree_lets_have_a_real_deba.html

If that’s not the true explanation, and it’s just PR prowess that is making a name for ID, then the way the Darwinists can really demolish us is to hold the kind of fair and extensive scientific debate

Notice the complete disconnect: if it’s “PR prowess” that is behind ID, then a scientific debate should “settle” the issue. Huh?????????????

Here’s what an honest and rational person might propose

The way that the “Darwinists” can destroy you is to hold a fair and extensive debate on the history of creationism and the history of intelligent design propaganda including the recent history of the Discovery Institute and the trial in Dover.

But wait a minute … isn’t months of trial in a Federal court a quintessential example of a “fair and extensive” debate?

And haven’t we already had several trials relating to whether the essential aspects of evolutionary biology taught in high school represent the overwhelming consensus of the world’s experts in biology and the history of life on earth?

And what was the outcome of those “debates”?

In such a scholarly setting, the likes of Darwinians Ken Miller and Larry Krause and Genie Scott should be able to crush the scientific pretensions of ID scientists, agreed?

The scientific pretensions of “ID scientists” are already crushed.

If they weren’t, you wouldn’t need to peddle “ID theory” to public school boards. You’d just publish your experiments which test your “theory” in peer-reviewed scientific literature like everyone else.

By the way – I am always interested to know when any of my comments comprehensible to a literate high school student. Like Lenny, I believe in keeping the issues framed as simply as possible, so as not to confuse the easily confused.

Comment #61346

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 7:18 PM (e)

Hahah. That should be “are not comprehensible” in my second-to-last sentence.

oops!

Comment #61347

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 7:25 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

A bit off-topic for here, but I’ve opened a thread over at “After the Bar Closes” where you can expand on Dawkins’s deficiencies in this area.

Russell,

I’ll see you there, thank you for your interest.

Dr. Hurd,

Thank you for allowing me to participate. Though you may disagree with Dr. Verhey, I would encourage you to solicit suggestions as to how the experiment could be re-run to get results that you would consider as having a higher confidence level in the conclusions.

For what it’s worth, I take Verhey’s conclusions as something our side should reckon with.

Salvador

Comment #61348

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 7:29 PM (e)

neither do I view the approach Verhey used as the accurate way ID is to be portrayed

Sal, there is no ID to be “portrayed”.

If you disagree, please by all means go ahead and tell us what the scientific theory of ID is.

But you won’t. You can’t. There isn’t any. (shrug)

Comment #61354

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 3, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

Go Lenny and Registered User. Good stuff.

ID is very appealing until somebody tells you what the scientific method is. Then it falls flat on it’s face. The vast majority of people are ignorant about how science works; but it is not difficult to teach someone what science involves. As soon as you do that, almost anybody can work out that ID is not science.

Blast and Salvadors question dodging also helps. As do the questions Lenny keeps asking. Good grief, how can anybody take ID serious when it’s supporters will not answer a question as simple as “What is the the scientific theory of ID”?

I am now angry about ID. Mainly because I was taken in for a short while and feel as though I was conned. I suppose I feel a bit ashamed that I was gullible enough to fall for it.

Comment #61356

Posted by Loris on December 3, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

I have just a couple of comments and questions.

First, Sal said

I can say, I don’t think many creationists in the biology department who are seniors would be willing to take a poll for fear of identification. That’s a data point that will be hard to capture accurately, but one that would be the most interesting. Most of these choose jobs outside of academia and in the medical profession. One poll indicated 18% of physicians are creationists and a total of 37% IDists, and 60% “God guided” view. Many of those were biology students in one way or another. wrote:

Biology students are not biologists. I don’t think medical doctors should qualify as biologists on the basis that many people applying to medical school receive only minimal exposure to evolution in their biology curriculum. Further, most medical schools only require on year of biology. That is hardly a background in biology.

Though I do not have a good sample, my friends who were pre-med in undergrad were creationists and told me that they did not have to learn evolution in the biology classes they took. Those classes focused more on the accumulated knowledge of anatomy and physiology and cell biology rather than the scientific method or the origins of the species they want to study (H. sapiens).

As for my questions, a friend of mine proposed to me recently that universities should have courses called “Science Appreciation” or something similar where students learn the scientific method, the history of science as a process and what makes science different from other knowledge sources. Such a class would not be structured as a here is what we know format, but rather, here is how we examine the world to create new knowledge. I was wondering if anyone knew of universities that have such a class?

Secondly, in our introduction to anthropology classes, TAs and instructors tell students that they don’t have to believe evolution, but they must learn the material on hominid evolution to pass the test. Because such classes must cover all four fields of anthropology in 16 weeks, any in depth discussion of why creationism is wrong is impossible. Does anyone have suggestions on how to better address the issue of creationism in say one discussion section (50 minutes) is way that would demonstrate why evolution is the accepted theory in biology?

Finally, my advisor told me that she finds it easier to bring people around by teaching the history of evolutionary thought, beginning with Darwin and his contemporaries and Mendell through Watson and Crick and Gould. We have found this approach shows students why we support evolution instead of creationism. Does anyone have any comments?

Comment #61357

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

Balter

And as I have pointed out repeatedly, opinion polls of Americans overall consistently show that only 13% of American adults believe that evolution took place entirely unaided by God. Again, this is our starting point

Aren’t you a journalist? Have you written an article yet explaining in clear terms how the Discovery Institute operates, who funds it, and how frequently the Discovery Institute and its employees misleads the public and/or blatantly lies?

That would appear to me to an excellent “starting point for you, Mr. Balter.

Have you watched the American Enterprise Institute videos yet? Did you write an article yet on how Paul Nelson was unable to answer Ken Miller’s questions and accusations of the scientific vacuity of “ID theory”? Or how Jon Ryland was caught with his pants down by a fellow ID peddler?

If not, why not, Mr. Balter?

I mean, you are a journalist right? You’re not a specialist in education, right?

Let me know if I’ve misunderstood your previous characterizations of your career arc.

Comment #61358

Posted by steve s on December 3, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

Salvador said:

Furthermore, I have focus groups in our IDEA chapters to assess which arguments from both sides are the most convincing. I’ve been tallying these thing [sic] up informally, but it is imporatant [sic] to refining the methodolgy of communication.

Who needs experiments, when you have focus groups?

Comment #61359

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 3, 2005 8:43 PM (e)

Then it falls flat on it’s face. The vast majority of people are ignorant about how science works; but it is not difficult to teach someone what science involves. As soon as you do that, almost anybody can work out that ID is not science.

Even better, once people underdstand what science is and how the scientific method works, they can apply it to all sorts of situations – everything from Bigfoot and alien abductions to political campaign speeches and soap advertisements. There is no need to give the IDers what they want by treating their crap as “legitimate scientific debate”. Their crap is no more legitimate than flying saucers or ESP are – and it doesn’t take much to have people understand that, *once they have a basic grasp of what science is and how it works*. And there, I think, is where our education efforts should be focused.

But RU makes a very very good point, too, when he takes Mr Balter to task for focusing on “the scientific controversy behind ID, instead of things like DI’s flat-out dishonesty and evasiveness. I have found that one of the very best ways to show people that ID is crap (other than its continuing utter refusal to simply *tell us what their scientific theory is*), is to point out all the things ID doesn’t like having people point out – things like who funds them and why, what the openly-stated agenda is for the movement as a whole, its utter inability to say anything that wasn’t already said by the YEC’s 30 years ago, and its continuing dishonest evasive legal and PR campaigns to get what they have no hope of getting scientifically.

ID is not science. Period. It makes no scientific claims and offers no scientific evidence. It is religious apologetics, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. In that way, it is even LESS relevant to sciecne education than Bigfoot or alien abductions would be.

I see no reason to pretend to students that ID is science, when it is not, or that IDers have a legitimate scientific argument to present and debate, when they do not. IDers are shysters, pure and simple. I see no reason to help them with their shystering.

Comment #61360

Posted by SEF on December 3, 2005 8:47 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

They prefer uneducated 14-year olds, instead.

They seem to be moderately happy with uneducated presidents, journalists and media personalities etc. They just don’t want to rely on that pool maintaining its own size and ignorance when they’re actually hoping for expansion.

Comment #61362

Posted by Corkscrew on December 3, 2005 8:54 PM (e)

Salvador wrote:

I believe Verhey has shown me, as an ID promoter, which format of teaching would be damaging to my side, so I will take steps not to inadvertantly structure our disucussion sessions such that they essentially follow Verhey’s course.

Salvador: How would you respond to the assertion that in scientific discussion (as opposed to advocacy) there shouldn’t be any immutable “sides”?

Comment #61363

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 3, 2005 9:00 PM (e)

I’m trying to respond at least briefly to as many of today’s comments as I can, but I’ll have to defer many. Thanks to everyone for the excellent and civil discussion.

[Frank Schmidt (comment #61252):] From reading the article, I think that the limiting issue is engaging students and getting them to understand the nature of science. So who has useful information about how to do this? Prof. Verhey, can you give us any hints about how you taught NOS? Thanks.

This is a huge question, and it’ll have to wait a bit longer until I have more time, say on Monday.

[Lenny, #61264:] If the “science” part sticks, then it would seem to me that the same approach you use would work just as well if, instead of ID, we had students consider, say, ESP or flying saucers or Bigfoot or alien abductions. Yes? No?

Certainly. ID just happens to be topical. Bigfoot is too, here in the Pacific Northwest. I went to a seminar about Bigfoot a couple of years ago, and I’m can tell you he exists because people want him to exist.

[Lenny, #61264:] After all, it certainly would be far more valuable for students to learn how to apply critical thinking skills not just to ID, but to all sorts of BS — everything from political campaign speeches to advertisements for deodorants.

Again, certainly. Part of the problem here is the learning/knowledge compartmentalization issue I mentioned briefly earlier. Ideally, we’d teach students critical thinking skills and they’d use them in all areas of their lives. What really happens is we teach them things as part of specific disciplines, and they often confine application of what they’ve learned to those disciplines.

The place to address this is actually in what are called “general education” programs. Every university/college has them, and they tend to exist just so departments can get credit for butts in seats, rather than to give students a coherent common experience with education. I’ve put a fair amount of effort into this issue too, and it’s thankless work.

[Michael Balter, #61239:] other words, it is a marginal belief, like it or not. And as I have pointed out repeatedly, opinion polls of Americans overall consistently show that only 13% of American adults believe that evolution took place entirely unaided by God. Again, this is our starting point, and all the more reason why approaches like Verhey’s must be taken seriously.

Mr. Balter was responding to someone who was outraged that the most rationalist choice seemed marginal. It just happened to be at the end of Nelson’s spectrum, and I can’t think of anything to put beyond it on the spectrum. Mr. Balter absolutely right that it is a minority position among Americans, and, as someone else here (and lots of education literature) has said, as educators we need to start where people are, not where we wish they were.

Dr. Hurd is right that I might have consulted a better source for definitions of evolution-creationism attitudes, but that’s the one that was at hand. I first did the survey in 2002, using Nelson’s paper which had been brought back from an NSF Chautauqua that Nelson teaches and that the now-chair of my department had attended. I admit I didn’t take the time to look further because Nelson seemed like a reasonable authority.

Jumping ahead to Registered User’s comment #61357, because it’s right here as a type this, it is not the DI’s fault that Americans have such bloodyminded attitudes toward science, it is scientists’ fault, period. And why pick on Mr. Balter? (OK – forget I asked that – it’s a rhetorical question – I’m not interested in an answer. The simple fact is, attitudes toward him are not relevant to this discussion, which we would not even be having without him.)

Here’s something that had quite an effect on me when I read it as a new postdoc hoping for a teaching job. Notice that it was written over 10 years ago, and compare the vision it outlines to the reality of college science education today.

Just one quickie and I’ve got to stop: our daughter is at a sleepover, and my wife and I are going out to dinner.

[Chris Lawson, #61313] Thanks for the fascinating paper, Dr. Verhey. And thank you for also pointing out that this paper only applied to college students and is not a good model for high school.

I have a question: how do you intend to modify your course in the light of what you have learned from this paper?

I’m still not ready to give up on high school students, but no, this specific approach probably would take up too much time, and the dualist nature of high school students is problematic, so it wouldn’t be useful as-is in high school.

As for the question about my future teaching, that’s a bigger question than you can know. I’ll write more about it when I have more time.

Thanks again to everyone. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Comment #61364

Posted by SEF on December 3, 2005 9:08 PM (e)

Steve Verhey wrote:

but science started with the pre-Socratics

It’s very interesting (to me) that you should bring that up, because just the other day I was amusing myself with the (impractical!) possibility of re-organising education around the historical flow of things - ie more so than most subjects normally do. Each year (or term) could be labelled after a significant culture (rather than the various year numbering schemes) and include what they “knew” and how/why in each subject. So in (early) Greek year you would already have covered things like the ratio pi and be moving on to why Euclid postulated what he did and where Pythagoras made a few naughty assumptions over musical instruments (not being sufficiently empirical despite at least having done some experiments).

I soon realised I’d have to do a lot more research myself as to where various ideas first came into the mix though (and some hop in and out of favour more than once). With such a scheme, it would soon be obvious how boringly repetitive and unfruitful creationist ideas are though.

Comment #61370

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 10:46 PM (e)

Dr Verhey

it is not the DI’s fault that Americans have such bloodyminded attitudes toward science, it is scientists’ fault, period.

Whaaaaaaa ….?!?!!!?!?!!?!?!?

And I suppose it’s the fault of those uppity ghetto blacks that blacks are the victims of discrimination in this country. What other explanation could there possibly be, Dr. Verhey?

Seriously, Verhey, your credibility on this issue is reduced to below zero, at least as far as I’m concerned.

You completely ignored the substance of my comments. You didn’t even try to answer the questions I asked. Instead, you attack scientists.

Just lovely.

And why pick on Mr. Balter? (OK — forget I asked that — it’s a rhetorical question

If you’re going to defend Mr. Balter’s actions as a journalist who allegedly believes that “ID theory” is a pile of bogus garbage as far as scientists are concerned, then just do it. Use your fingers and type, man. Type some arguments. Cite some relevant facts (and leave out the worthless poorly-worded unscientific polls which, as often as not, amount to little more than pro-creationist propaganda).

this discussion, which we would not even be having without him.)

You are kidding, right? Surely you jest.

This discussion has been happening here since the site began. Assuming otherwise was Mr. Balter’s first mistake. And now you, too.

Interesting.

Comment #61371

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 10:56 PM (e)

Dr. Verhey

science started with the pre-Socratics

Is that so?

Or do you mean to say that the earliest recorded evidence we have of an articulation of a scientific philosophy relates to the pre-Socratics?

Honestly, I have no idea what the earliest recorded evidence of such an articulation is.

But I propose to you that if you put a smart chimp in a room with a banana hanging from a ceiling and some boxes lying around the chimp will not use the box as an alter to pray to Chimpakula to drop the banana onto the floor.

The chimp will use its brain to figure out how to get the banana. If the chimp puts a big box on top of a tiny box and the big box won’t balance, the smart chimp won’t continue doing that until it starves. It will experiment. And the next time the banana is put on the wire, the chimp won’t waste time with the small box on the bottom.

What do you call the method of reasoning used by the chimp, Dr. Verhey?

But maybe your point was just that the common ancestor we shared with chimps was “pre-Socratic.”

Was that your point?

Comment #61372

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 3, 2005 11:19 PM (e)

Salvador wrote:

I believe Verhey has shown me, as an ID promoter, which format of teaching would be damaging to my side, so I will take steps not to inadvertantly structure our disucussion sessions such that they essentially follow Verhey’s course.

Corkscrew asked:

Salvador: How would you respond to the assertion that in scientific discussion (as opposed to advocacy) there shouldn’t be any immutable “sides”?

There should not be immutable sides. I have pointed out I encourage IDEA students at the junior level to hear all sides of the discussion to take classes on evolutionary biology. I consider that at least trying prevent immutable sides.

However, I view the use of Dawkins and Gishlick on unsusupecting 18 year olds as setting up immutable sides. Verhey used Icons as an ID argument, I have already said that was inappropriate for representing ID. Why not ask IDists who have taught and defended ID how to best represent the ID case in the context of the class?

I think it is fair when students have level of basic science taught and then are presented the arguments from both sides.

CLIPPED off topic manure on abiogenesis.I saved it Sal for its very own thread

Verhey’s study demonstrates how powerful a misrepresentation can affect a freshman’s mind. The study was therefore valuable to me. And the other side of the coin, if Dr. Hurd is right that Verhey’s study is inconclusive, then IDists have less to fear. I can only say, as a card carrying design theorist, the structure of Verhey’s class would concern me for the reasons I have given…

My approach to preventing immutable sides? Let junior level science students attend a class where both sides argue their case as best as they see fit. Let each side be able to pass a test in logic and rhetoric before hearing the arguments. Then allow equal time for each side. Let the students then evaluate each side’s case, let them sniff out any logical fallacies or suspicious debate tactics in the arguments….

Comment #61374

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 11:33 PM (e)

Let me try another way to show what it means to think critically.

Here’s Balter’s talking point:

And as I have pointed out repeatedly, opinion polls of Americans overall consistently show that only 13% of American adults believe that evolution took place entirely unaided by God.

Here’s a poll question that occurred to me while I was sitting on the john for two minutes:

Do you believe that the invention of the airplane took place entirely unaided by God?

What percentage of Americans do you think will answer yes to that question?

I have no idea what the answer to that question says about science and American’s understanding of what scientists do.

But I do know what it says about the value of Balter’s talking point and Balter’s credibility on the issue of how to teach evolutionary biology generally.

Can we all try to remember another key point? Teaching that, as a matter of fact, a religion’s deity did this or that or the other thing in public schools is unconstitutional.

Has a pollster dared to ask whether Americans want science teachers to provide religious instruction to students? I wonder what percentage would answer yes. Anyone want to claim that the answer would be 87% or anywhere near that?

Has a pollster dared to ask whether Americans want science teacher to teach astrology as a means of planning their lives? I wonder what percentage would answer yes.

Those would be great poll questions and I can come up with many other great questions to ask Americans that would be far more relevant to the “debate” over the teaching of “intelligent design theory” than the worthless poll questions that Balter keeps “pointing out.”

It’s hard to believe that it has to be done, but let me remind Verhey (and Balter) what Lenny has pointed out a billion times: ID is pure political propaganda. It needs to be fought politically and the science discussion must be kept out of it to the extent that is possible because all the ID peddlers will do with the science – no matter how incontrovertible or unassailable the data is – is take a crap on it and accuse scientists of having a “closed mind” to the “obvious” alternate explanation (i.e., “goddidit”).

Again – anyone doubt this is true? Dr. Verhey? If so, any evidence to the contrary, e.g., any examples of an testable ID “theory” that has been proposed? Any scientific research showing that deities exist from the Discovery Institute?

Which leads me to the ultimate question: if students already know what a con artist is and how advertisements and fear can be used to persuade people that things (e.g., the theory of evolution) are something that they are clearly not (“a theory in crisis”), then why not teach them that the Discovery Institute and its employees are doing exactly that?????

I can only think of one reason not to do this: some people don’t want to hear it.

Well, guess what. Some people don’t want to see a black man and white woman holding hands. Or two men.

Such people are free to shut their eyes. They are not entitled to have their bigotry coddled in public institutions. Not in the United States, anyway. At least, not now.

Comment #61375

Posted by Registered User on December 3, 2005 11:40 PM (e)

Salvador, would you agree to debate someone on the political nature of “ID theory,” the reconstructionist goals of the Discovery Institute, the goals of American evolutionary biologists, and possible explanations for the incoherent or contradictory statements made by ID “promoters” at a public university near me?

I can see to it that your expenses are paid.

Will you agree to a focused debate on these topics, Sal? Do you know an ID promoter who will?

I think it would be useful for students to “evaluate each side’s case, let them sniff out any logical fallacies or suspicious debate tactics in the arguments….”

Do you agree, Sal?

Let me know. Do it off Line. gh

Comment #61377

Posted by steve s on December 3, 2005 11:46 PM (e)

it is not the DI’s fault that Americans have such bloodyminded attitudes toward science, it is scientists’ fault, period.

That’s why Americans are peculiarly stubborn about evolution? Scientists here do something fundamentally worse than scientists in England, or France?

Read

Numbers, Ronald L.
1993 “The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism” Berkeley: University of California Press

And stay on topic until you have finished it.

Comment #61379

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 4, 2005 12:11 AM (e)

Mr. Cordova said:

However, his study has already been informative to me. For example, I’ll be reluctant to distribute Gishlick’s rebuttal without Well’s counter rebuttal. I believe Verhey has shown me, as an ID promoter, which format of teaching would be damaging to my side, so I will take steps not to inadvertantly structure our disucussion sessions such that they essentially follow Verhey’s course.

I’m troubled by this “experiment.” To me, it’s unethical to teach things that we know to be in error. It’s unethical to teach in medicine or biology stuff that has been failed testing as efficacious and safe. It’s unethical to teach material that does not meet the standards of good science in that branch of science.

Mr. Cordova’s remarks highlight the issue. Kids need to get the facts first. Teaching them non-facts appears to confuse them, as I look at the data.

Why bother?

If we want kids to know how scientists think, we should use the thoughts of scientists who think. ID fails that test, too.

Comment #61380

Posted by MaxOblivion on December 4, 2005 12:14 AM (e)

I invited her to explore the other abiogenesis theories and experiments. I pointed out that the problems have not been solved…..at this stage I can say with a degree of confidence they will never be solved outside of invoking ID.

Repeat after me,

God of Gaps is not science.
God of Gaps is not science.
God of Gaps is not science.
God of Gaps is not science……

Comment #61381

Posted by CBBB on December 4, 2005 12:26 AM (e)

At our last IDEA meeting we had quite a number of computer science and electrical engineering students at the senior undergrad and PhD level. They have an appreciation for communication and information theory and the open minded ones can recognize Dawkins is full of garbage.

Hey Sal! Back again?

Well those Computer Science and EE students can’t be very competent if they accept Dembski’s nonsense. Perhapes they should be directed to a certain academic paper written in 2003 by Mathematician Jeffery Shallit and Biologist Wesley Elsberry. In light of this paper, which has yet to be addressed by Dembski and Co, the entire edifice of ID simply collapses and your arguements are meaningless.

Comment #61382

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 12:53 AM (e)

I did a search on the IEEE Information Theory Society website for Dembski. Nothing came up. I looked at their conference rosters. No Dembski.

Looks to me like Information Theory researchers don’t consider Dembski’s ideas worth talking about. Maybe the students Sal tries to mislead will do the same easy investigation.

Comment #61384

Posted by CBBB on December 4, 2005 12:58 AM (e)

Sal I’d like to see a legitament response to the Shallit/Elsberry 2003 paper which stands as a “deathblow” to Dembskism.
I will not accept another posting of your pseudo-rebuttle which claims to rebut Shallit/Elsberry but actually fails to address any of the main points in the paper.

Comment #61385

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 12:58 AM (e)

Dr. Verhey and Mr. Balter – a good teaching exercise after you explain how the Discovery Propaganda Insitute works and why its employees behave the way it does is to hand out the “editorials” that the DI publishes and take a little test called “Count the Lies.”

For example, here’s a first pass through the Bruce Chapman hit piece:

here we see introduced a totally new and amazing concept: “debate on the merits”!
We fully agree and are ready and willing.

That’s a lie. Salvador Cordova isn’t willing to debate Lenny on the merits. No creationist is willing to debate Lenny on the merits. They just run away and hide when Lenny starts asking questions. I have found the same to be true in my attempts to get straightforward answers to obvious questions about “ID theory” and its relevance to scientists.

Unfortunately, as the article makes clear, the Darwinists are neither ready or willing. They will do anything to avoid a serious debate “on the merits”.

False for the reasons above. THe ID peddlers refuse to engage in debates. The only time they answer questions about “ID theory” is when they are in a courtroom. And what do they say then? YOu can read the transcript. Michael Behe concludes that the designer is his deity (who he refers to as “God,” as many Christians do) but couldn’t explain how he knew that except to mumble something about “philosophical and religious reasons.” Courtrooms tend to be “serious” by the way.

a conference organized by the American Museum of Natural History this past week, and reported breathlessly in the mainstream media, describes the kind of deliberation on intelligent design the Darwinists propose.

No it doesn’t. It was just some people getting together and talking about what a bunch of idiots ID peddlers are.

The only disagreement allowed is over which pejorative explanation for the success of ID is most persuasive.

Lie. There were no such restrictions on the discussion.

In the AMNH meeting the answer was that ID is the product of a truly historic public relations campaign … Not only does it demean the AMNH by showing an unwillingness to hear the actual evidence for ID

There is no evidence for “ID” because there is no theory of “ID” that can be tested with evidence. That is incontrovertible and admitted by the silence whenever scientists attempt to debate ID peddlers about the lack of any articulated testaable theory. So – another lie.

the scientific case against Darwinism and for ID is building by the month

Wow. Pure unadultered baloney. The definition of propaganda.

with … increasing … lab work

False. There is no testable theory for “ID”. Are these scientists trying to trap their deity’s fingers by luring him into a test tube where some poorly designed bacteria need tweaking? I would use bacteria, of course, because bacteria would appear to be the favorite creatures of these alleged designing entities, as they are the most diverse organisms on the planet from a species standpoint.

more individual scientists deciding to throw in with us (30 in the last month alone).

Names? I’m guessing that this about 30 lies, unless by “throw in” Bruce merely means that some Christians with bachelors degrees in engineering or computer programming got around to signing the Discovery Institute’s list of Clueless Rubes. Surely he doesn’t mean that 30 professional biologists believe that evolution is a “theory in crisis” and “ID theory” is a better scientific explanation for the diversity of life forms on earth.

But that is sort of what Bruce is implying isn’t it? He’s a good litle shill. A good character study for Dr. Verhey and Mr. Balter, I would say. Truly representative, no? Do you disagree?

the Darwinists are not confident at all. Why, when I was at Harvard, the evidence for Darwin’s theory was already proven for the ages–supposedly. Are the Darwinists possibly seeing the scientific sand wash out from under their feet?

It’s almost impossible to know where to begin except we’ve got a lying to this point and now we have to ask whether scientists refusal to debate liars like Bruce Chapman represents fear that www.pubmed.org is about to be filled with articles like “Prayer as a Mutagenic Force” and “Why God Made DNA Polymerase Look Like A Hand: Five Reasons from Five Preachers”?

science has now changed, and that the “new scientific method” is to smear anyone raising doubts about Darwin and, at all costs, avoid an objective debate about the evidence.

More lies and a repeated lie. Science has not changed (although the goal of the Discovery Institute to change its definition – note the irony). And the scientific method is exactly the same as ever. And scientists themselves have been showing for years that Darwin didn’t get everything right, by doing experiments. It’s the anti-science bigots at the Discovery Institute who are doing the smearing.

And Bruce just showed how that smearing is accomplished. By lying. Big fat juicy lies about scientists.

Dr. Verhey, Bruce Champman just handed a wonderful little example of the sort of anti-science rhetoric and misrpresentation that the Discovery Institute excels in. Jonathan Wells is employed by the DI if I’m not mistaken. And so are many other of the ID peddling clowns we have become so familiar with.

These are relevant data points, no?

And Mr. Balter, there’s plenty of food for thought here in your next article about the nature of ID propaganda and the ethics of the folks at the Discovery Institute. I look forward to reading it.

——–

my previous post got the kwickcode messed up; it can be deleted

Comment #61386

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 4, 2005 1:01 AM (e)

I cut a load of nonsense out of Sal’s last post because it was arguing a separate issue than that presented by Verhey, or the opening text/post. It was about abiogensis, particularly Wells’ Icons Chapter 2, and it was worthy of a thorough debunking all by itself.

As it was classic creationist gibbering, I have lots of practice.

Look for it on Sunday.

Comment #61387

Posted by CBBB on December 4, 2005 1:11 AM (e)

Here’s the Paper Sal, in case you need refreshing:

http://www.antievolution.org/people/wre/papers/eandsdembski.pdf

Jeffery Shallit continues to cast a shadow of doubt and dispair across the ID world. The Beheist-Dembskist have yet to muster a real response after TWO YEARS!!!!

Comment #61388

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 4, 2005 1:28 AM (e)

OK, ENOUGH! Don’t make me pull the car over to the side of the road!

Or so my Dad used to say 40 or 50 years ago.

The discussion has veered off into disputing creationist points with Sal.

This is what we call the “tar baby” error, so knock it off.

Comment #61394

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 2:31 AM (e)

The discussion has veered off into disputing creationist points with Sal.

This is what we call the “tar baby” error, so knock it off.

Problem is, that is exactly what will happen in a high school sciecne class that tries to teach ID.

It leads into all sorts of discussions that go nowhere.

ID simply has no science to discuss. And that is why discussing it in science class is a waste of everyone’s time. Better, I think, to discuss a general “BS detector” and apply it to EVERYTHING, from Bigfoot to alien abductions to ID to remote viewing. And that, unlike specific debunking of ID, is something that could happen at a high school level and still be useful.

By giving Sal the opportunity to spew his crap about science, all we are doing is giving the IDers exactly what they want. I see no reason to help them. (shrug)

Comment #61396

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 3:27 AM (e)

Thank god your back RU I was beginning to miss you.

Further Intelligent designerCultural Engineering talking points.

no cbbb it is not “god of the gaps” —that would make it a creationist religion…..illegal.

God of the gaps is convenient political ploy to get religious people on board but it mostly appeals to a certain political demographic.

Now the “Great Theistic religions” are running a mile why?

They recognize the danger ID it poses to their more sensitive constituents.

They also know what Fundamentalism and politics produce.

They also know “God” can’t be factualized

Now that Sal has had DI/ID pulled from “religious studies” because it would then Have to be considered as a creation myth and therefore a Religion and therefore not able to be taught in Science the true nature of the Political plan comes out.

Remove the Republic and install a “Theocracy”.

Not unlike oooh well…. you don’t have to be an expert to figure out where that is going. Lets call it Social Magic Realism which in North Korea is called social realism if you are in it and outside of it …it looks like magic realism.

Don’t believe me ?

Read the link Sal so kindly provided to Dembski’s PLEA to the Church’s not to abandon him and to have the laws for the republic changed. Get a copy before he hides it. Note also that he uses “card carrying” and Lennin on the same page.
“What is one to do?” he asks
Well in a republic there is no “one” who decides what to do.

KEEP THAT IN MIND

Just focus on the politics, the lies, the methods, their goal.

Remember it is not Science it is not religion.
Only 2 questions are needed prove this

1. Show me the scientific theory
2. Show me the religion.

No debate,, no BS no hand waving

Answer that before your next move Sal

Whats that rumbling ?

I want some feedback on the Free MP3’s from Joeseph Campbell on ceation myths and the effect of Science on Myth. They were kind enough to put them up for a limited time I want to see if they would be useful in education.

make a free account and go to downloads.

www.jcf.org

Comment #61398

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 4:38 AM (e)

On the issue of the responsibilities that scientists may bear for public mistrust of science, I would say that they do bear some responsibility although certainly not all of it. Insofar as their responsibility for what goes wrong in science education, I will repost the link to Craig Nelson’s editorial on Verhey’s paper in BioScience. The postsecondary science educators he refers to are, of course, mostly scientists.

http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-editorials/editorial_2005_11.html

On Registered User’s repeated demands to know why I am not writing article after article about the duplicity of the Discovery Institute, I answered this question on the “Contrarian or Just Lame” thread when I compared the Wedge document to the Downing Street memo: This kind of information, while important, is far from the most important element in changing people’s minds. What changes people’s minds are approaches like Verhey’s, which engage with where students are at and provide them with the support they need to make a transition.

Finally I must say that I am amazed how much time and space people here spend debating with Sal and allowing him to divert the main topic of thread after thread, given the general animosity here to debating ID’ers. Ignoring him is an option, you know, but perhaps the urge to debate is too strong.

Comment #61400

Posted by MaxOblivion on December 4, 2005 4:56 AM (e)

k.e. I think you’re right, the political agenda of IDC needs to be addressed and exposed. IDCers can make a 1000 claims and those 1000 claims can ofcourse be disputed. I dont believe that the IDCer intellectuals are stupid, they must know they are actually wrong. Therefore they must have an ulterior motive. Any honest and scientist would of put up or shut up by now.

So who funds them? Why spend millions on an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors?

Their motive is to remove Scientific Naturalism, is this possible in its entirety? I doubt it.

So what are the implications of partial success, progress towards undermining the scientific method?

How does engendering a lack of trust in the public for scientists help IDCers? How does that increase their revenue and political leverage?

Ofcourse like all political causes that are based on lies its power and greed that fuel their efforts. We need to expose the mechanisms they use and show why the public should be concerned about the IDC movement.

Comment #61402

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 5:28 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'i'

Comment #61403

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 5:29 AM (e)

Balter

Ignoring him is an option, you know, but perhaps the urge to debate is too strong.

The urge to debate or the urge to ridicule and wonder at his profound dishonesty and make an example out of him?

Surely, Mr. Balter, if what happens in the comments section here counts as debates then we “Darwinists” have won 20,000 debates in the last couple years. How many of those victories did you report to your readers, Mr. Balter?

You claim to have written for Science magazine right? How about a follow-up article on Salvador Cordova and his, um, methods of, um, argumentation? And his, uh, tendency to, uh, obfuscate? I think Science readers would be interested in hearing more about Mr. Cordova and his relationship to Mr. Dembski (another piece of work, to be sure).

I answered this question on the “Contrarian or Just Lame” thread when I compared the Wedge document to the Downing Street memo: This kind of information …

First of all, the issue is not the kind of information, Verhey. It’s how the information is disseminated, how often it is disseminated, and how clearly the information and its logical ramifications are presented.

This kind of information, while important, is far from the most important element in changing people’s minds.

So you say. Here we go again with your counter-intuitive statements about the human pysche. Are you saying that showing the public clearly and repeatedly that certain people are professional liars about certain subjects has no effect on the public perception of the credibility of those liars when it comes to those subjects??

That seems counter-intuitive to me, Mr. Balter. Frankly, I think it’s just verbal diarrhea on your part and you actually have no idea what is “the most important element” for changing people’s minds about anything.

But go ahead and surprise me.

I won’t dwell on this topic, but the logical ramifications of the Downing Street memo are discernable.

In contrast, the logical ramifications of the Wedge Document and its relationship to the ID movement and its scientific vacuity are plain as freaking paint to anyone who doesn’t have their head up their butt.

I would expect you to know this, Mr. Balter. You’re a literate professional adult and you’re on “our side”, or claim to be.

If our country’s so-called “journalists” at our major newspapers and on the network and cable TV shows and on radio did their jobs and reported the truth instead of creating phony “he said, she said” “davey and goliath” “christians versus atheists” stories to please their audience, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Do you understand that Mr. Balter? I’ll say it again: we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

What changes people’s minds are approaches like Verhey’s, which engage with where students are at …

What percentage of the US population is taking biology classes in college?

What percentage of the US population reads a newspaper, news magazine, news website, or watches news on TV, or listens to news on the radio?

Again: straightforward obvious questions of the sort that one would hope a journalist could anticipate.

Comment #61404

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 5:31 AM (e)

MB
You have swung and missed again.
Blame who?
Who was responsible ?
Who grabbed the mike and shouted down the teachers ?
Who is running around without a scientific theory ?
Who has the Churches disowning them?
Who was lying in Dover?
Who is confusing the public?
What tactics are they using?

Report *all* the facts

Are you a journalist(Who, What, Where,When) or an agent provocateur ?

MB ?

Comment #61405

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 5:32 AM (e)

I apologize for erroneously referring to Mr. Balter as “Verhey” in my previous post.

I have no idea how or why that could have happened but I take full responsiblity.

Comment #61406

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 4, 2005 6:40 AM (e)

This quote by Betrand Russell seems appropriate:

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.”

Comment #61407

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 7:37 AM (e)

Since we are discussing Verhey’s paper in this thread, this quote from Craig Nelson also seems appropriate:

Public understanding of science in the United States leaves much to be desired. Scientists frequently put the blame for this shortcoming on literal readings of religious texts, dubious political motivations, or the mistaken assumption that conflicting views deserve equal emphasis. A more powerful alternative explanation is available, however. Postsecondary science educators commonly ignore strong, long-standing evidence on the effectiveness of their teaching methods. Consequently, most college graduates lack tools for rationally comparing conflicting ideas and deciding which arguments, scientific and otherwise, are well-founded. Some of these graduates become business, governmental, and religious leaders; teachers; and doctors and other applied scientists. Public rejection of sound science is not primarily the result of some facet of popular culture. Rather, it is the predictable result of ill-founded pedagogical choices.

Such ill-founded approaches rely mainly on didactic presentation and overemphasis of the dry facts of content, to the exclusion of effectively teaching the nature of science. In contrast, methods that require frequent student-to-student discussion, structured by appropriate materials, produce large gains both in content learning and in sophistication of understanding. Furthermore, the naive conceptions that students often hold when they enter the classroom typically persist despite intensive scientific instruction in contrary viewpoints. However, when students make direct comparisons of their naive misconceptions with scientifically better-founded schemes, change is frequent. Naive views predominate publicly as a predictable consequence of pedagogical choices that ignore them.

Steven Verhey’s article (p. 996) provides powerful evidence. Strong emphasis on evolution alone produced almost no change in students’ conceptions. In contrast, discussions comparing “intelligent design” with mainstream evolution, with a focus on the nature of science, produced extensive change toward more scientifically viable views.

Comment #61408

Posted by Philip Bruce Heywood on December 4, 2005 7:53 AM (e)

Deleted with irritation

Comment #61409

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 8:02 AM (e)

MB
And this is going to be fixed by ?

1.Teaching evolutionary biology with an intro into myth and the history of science to a select few genuinely receptive critical thinkers who already have a basic experience in the scientific method and are at a stage in in life when new ways of thinking are being formed as they transition from adolescence to adulthood ?

2.Reveal the criminal intent behind the DI?

Of which there is overwhelming evidence.

MB why are you sitting on the sidelines watching the ambulances gather the bodies after a car crash.

Comment #61410

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 8:04 AM (e)

Science, and only science, can reassure us that our sugar will never blow up when we dissolve it in our tea.

This happens to me every time I put sugar in my tea, and I defy Heywood to prove me a liar. Now let’s discuss the Verhey paper and not let these guys distract us, nor those who insist on knowing why some journalists write about some issues and other journalists about other issues.

Comment #61411

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 4, 2005 8:13 AM (e)

Who actually teaches science in US public high schools?
What are the minimum qualifications required?

Comment #61413

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 8:54 AM (e)

k.e. said:

MB
And this is going to be fixed by ?

1.Teaching evolutionary biology with an intro into myth and the history of science to a select few genuinely receptive critical thinkers who already have a basic experience in the scientific method and are at a stage in in life when new ways of thinking are being formed as they transition from adolescence to adulthood ?

2.Reveal the criminal intent behind the DI?

Of which there is overwhelming evidence.

MB why are you sitting on the sidelines watching the ambulances gather the bodies after a car crash.

Let’s imagine that all the hopes of most here on PT are realized. The Dover school board loses the case and does not appeal; the Kansas school board decision is challenged in the courts and the board loses; one or more of these cases goes up to the Supreme Court and it rules that teaching ID in the schools is a violation of First Amendment strictures about church and state and does so in such uncertain terms that any attempts to introduce ID/creationism in the public schools will go nowhere. And, for good measure, the Discovery Institute’s conspiracies are exposed as a dishonest scam to get religion into the schools under the guise that ID is a “scientific” alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Where will we be then? Well, it depends on your goal. Lenny has said that he does not care about people’s religious beliefs as long as they do not try to insinuate them into public life and particularly the schools. I agree that people have the right to believe whatever they want; and I also think that those beliefs should be respected.

But in fact creationism and ID are not really taught anywhere in the public schools yet, as far as I am aware, although people here can correct me if I am wrong. Nevertheless, and despite RU’s continuing protests against my citing the poll figures, creationism/ID represent the overwhelming majority view among Americans. And it will stay this way no matter how many court decisions are won because people are not getting these ideas from the school system, but from their parents, their churches, etc etc. And as long as it does stay this way, the creationists will be able to portray themselves as martyrs to a Godless secularism.

I do not want to stamp out religion, as Lenny suggested on another thread. But I do want to see people confronted with the consequences of their beliefs, especially when those beliefs make them reject scientific thinking and the scientific method. As Ken Miller has argued, it is possible to believe in God without rejecting science and the overwhelming evidence for evolution. In fact, many of you may recall these words from Finding Darwin’s God:

The irony is that only those who embrace the scientific reality of evolution are adequately prepared to give God the credit and the power He truly deservees. By recognizing the continuing force of evolution, a religious person acknowledges that God is every bit as creative in the present as He was in the past. That–and not a rejection of any of the core ideas of evolution–is why I am a believer. A strong and self-confident religious belief cannot forever pin its hopes on the desperate supposition that an entire branch of science is dramatically wrong, thereby to teeter always on the brink of logical destruction.

I think that Verhey’s experiment worked, especially when it moved biblical literalists over in the rational direction, precisely because the students realized the truth in what Miller is saying and especially his very eloquent last sentence. And I quoted Craig Nelson’s editorial at length because he is one scientist at least who sees that this approach as a way of changing attitudes.

Steve said that he would be back sometime today to make further contributions, and so I am going to leave it there. But I note that he said he was not willing to give up on the high school situation, and I will be back with my own ideas on this once he has said more.

Comment #61414

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 9:22 AM (e)

Just one further remark on this part of k.e.’s comment:

1.Teaching evolutionary biology with an intro into myth and the history of science to a select few genuinely receptive critical thinkers who already have a basic experience in the scientific method and are at a stage in in life when new ways of thinking are being formed as they transition from adolescence to adulthood ?

Steve Verhey has already commented on the true level of college freshman biology students, which does not correspond with this description. But whatever the case, is this the only group of people who should be targeted with truly effective ways of teaching evolution? If so, then the statistics I cite most definitely will never change.

Comment #61415

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 10:10 AM (e)

In reading this very extensive thread, it occurred to me that teaching the history of scientific understanding in any discipline would be helpful. In Chemistry, the “evolution” of understanding of the material world and chemical transformation can be traced from the Greeks through the Middle Ages to Priestly, Lavoisier and Dalton. Students could see how theories like vitalism, phlogiston and essences eventually gave way to modern atomic theory. This approach along with an inquiry-based laboratory program (instead of a cook-book, fill in the blanks on a handout approach) would give students experience in “doing” science and a better understanding of how scientists advanced new ideas. Teachers also could be involved in doing real science, either in the summer or even during the school year, and their excitement and enthusiasm for science would be a model of life-time learning to their students.

Unfortunately, public schools are stretched to teach a content-heavy curriculum, saddled with exit exams, large classes, poorly designed spaces, inadequate budgets, some parents and school boards hostile to science and many teachers with wavers to teach outside their discipline. (Gee, with a bachelors in science, I can a) continue to “do” the science I love by working in an industry R and D department,or go to graduate school and eventually make a living doing science or b) take a low-paying, unappreciated job teaching teens in a curriculum I have little control over! What to do, what to do…)

I teach in a rural private school (church affiliated, no less) where I have none of these problems. The true saints are my public school colleagues who face these obstacles year after year. Near by in Nashville, the metro school board stands poised to cut $25 million from the school budget, closing schools, cutting operating budgets and eliminating positions. As important as this issue is for me, the public schools in our area have much larger problems to contend with.

Comment #61416

Posted by Keith Douglas on December 4, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

Loris: Philosophers in some places often teach (with varying degrees of merit) what might be called “science appreciation” classes. One that I know of first hand is a course at the University of British Columbia, called “Introduction to Scientific Reasoning”. I was a teaching assistant for this course while a student there. The link is to a syllabus from a recent version of the course.

Comment #61418

Posted by frank schmidt on December 4, 2005 10:28 AM (e)

To paraphrase Rodney King:

Can’t we all just stay on topic?

The usual horsehockey from Heywood and Young Sal belongs somewhere else.

Those interested in the real topic of this thread might like to check out the following:
http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/home.html

(Thanks to Craig Nelson)

Comment #61419

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 10:29 AM (e)

Heywould should see the following sections of Talk Origins

# CF000: Second Law of Thermodynamics and Information Theory

* (see also CB102: Mutations don’t add information.)
* (see also CE441: Big Bang doesn’t produce information.)
* CF001. The second law of thermodynamics prohibits evolution.
o CF001.1. Systems left to themselves invariably tend toward disorder.
o CF001.2. The second law of thermodynamics, and the trend to disorder, is universal.
o CF001.3. Instructions are necessary to produce order.
o CF001.4. The second law is about organized complexity, not entropy.

it explains why he’s wrong, but I doubt he’ll accept it. Cranks love to babble about entropy.

Comment #61420

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 10:29 AM (e)

BTW: I thought I read that the Kansas U. course on ID got canned. What happened?

Comment #61421

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 10:31 AM (e)

On “after the bar closes” I posted an msnbc story about it. Check there.

Comment #61422

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 4, 2005 10:31 AM (e)

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 4, 2005 08:13 AM (e) (s)

Who actually teaches science in US public high schools?
What are the minimum qualifications required?

I went and googled this.
Quite scary reading.
It would appear that it is possible to teach high school science in the USA without any formal science education.
Amazing.
No wonder high school; rather than college is the target for ID.

I hope I am mistaken.

Comment #61423

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:34 AM (e)

On Registered User’s repeated demands to know why I am not writing article after article about the duplicity of the Discovery Institute, I answered this question on the “Contrarian or Just Lame” thread when I compared the Wedge document to the Downing Street memo: This kind of information, while important, is far from the most important element in changing people’s minds.

I quite disagree. Indceed, this point is precisely why I disagree with Balter in general and think his approach is doomed to failure.

Balter (and Verhy, to an extent) both want to approach ID as a “scientific controversy”. Both think that if we just sit kids down and patiently explain to them why ID is scientifically vacuous, they will all see the light and become science-supporters. It won’t happen.

The simple fact is that most people don’t give a rat’s patootie about science and simply aren’t interested in learning about it. Like it or not. But, most people, even the most scientifically illiterate, *DO* care about having a bunch of religious nuts trying to push their opinions onto everyone else. Most of the “scientific debate” just goes right over people’s heads, and melds into a series of talking heads spouting at each other, with each side simply p[icking the head they like. However, people in general, including those who don’t know a prokaryote from a pachyderm, don’t want a theocracy and don’t support the political goals of the ID movement.

I have been in the anti-ID game a lot longer than Mr Balter has been, and unlike Mr Balter, I have done firsthand work, in the streets, actually organizing and fighting against ID/creationists. And I have come to the exact opposite conclusion from Mr Balter. The scientific arguments, I have found, don’t sway hardly anyone. Most people don’t understand them, don’t care about them, and are bored to death with them. Pointing out what the political program behind ID, however, and talking about who funds the IDers and why, has a HUGE effect on people (as does pointing to all the demonstrable instances where IDers lie, distort, evade and refuse to answer direct questions). I think that the Wedge Document is the single most damaging argument against ID, by laying bare exactly what they want and how they intend to get it — and most people – even most of the staunchest Christians – *do not support what they want*.

At core, ID simply is not a scientific issue. And that is why Balter’s efforts are doomed to failure. ID will not be beaten by scientific education, because the simple fact is that *it is not about science*. ID is a *political* movement, and it will be beaten by people who organize *politically*. And since nobody supports the IDers political goals, that is where they are most vulnerable.

And they *know* that. It’s why they absolutely refuse under any circumstances to discuss who funds them and why, and why they try to dismiss the Wedge Document as a “mere fundraising document”. They’re all willing and happy to “critically examine our science” any time, since that gets them what they want. What they do NOT want to do is talk about their *political* program, since they know as well as I do that nobody supports it and nobody wants it, and exposing it to public view is the quickest way to kill the ID movement.

Comment #61424

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:37 AM (e)

Finally I must say that I am amazed how much time and space people here spend debating with Sal and allowing him to divert the main topic of thread after thread, given the general animosity here to debating ID’ers. Ignoring him is an option, you know, but perhaps the urge to debate is too strong.

Odd, that you are castigating people for debating IDers when you have been all along advocating, uh, debating IDers ….

Comment #61425

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 10:41 AM (e)

No wonder high school; rather than college is the target for ID.

Add to that the questions that Lenny keeps asking Salvador; and I was convinced that ID is not science.

(I now know that those questions have been constantly repeated; but I did not know that when I asked).

Hey Salvador,
Is there a theory of ID?
If so; what is it?

No. No no no no no.

Here are some pages about how to use semicolons:

http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~olson/pms/semicolon.html
http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/semicoln.html
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_commacomp.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semicolon

Comment #61426

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

Odd, that you are castigating people for debating IDers when you have been all along advocating, uh, debating IDers … .

Not odd at all: We should not let them dictate the time and place of the debate, eg not on a thread about the Verhey paper.

Comment #61427

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

But in fact creationism and ID are not really taught anywhere in the public schools yet, as far as I am aware

And why not? That’s right — because the courts have ruled against it.

Make no mistake about that, Mr Balter ——- creationism/ID is not being taught in any classrooms in the US because *it is illegal*. It was a handful of lawyers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania who have killed ID/creationism in classrooms. Killed it dead. Your much-vaunted “debates” and “science articles” didn’t have a damn thing to do with it.

Comment #61428

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

Lenny, Let’s keep it as impersonal as possible cuz if I let you start then I’ll start and I really don’t want that to happen. Thanks gh

Comment #61429

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

OK
MB
“If so, then the statistics I cite most definitely will never change.”

This is of course not the fault just of science but religious teaching, the media, the political administration in various levels of govt, uneducated parents, mendacious mind bending and clever disinformation by a small group.

IF, and it is a big IF, Miller’s view was shared by a greater number of US believers. That belief’s compatibility with science would then be “in sync” with most of the rest of the Western World and is the “Official” Catholic view and not much different to other Major Theistic religions.
I’m sure that suits them just fine, they see no future having to unravel another “Galilean moment” although the DI debacle is pretty close.

The overall problem is one of political identity mixed with a certain “Brand” of Fundamentalism which is getting enough media attention and permission to attack one small area of specialist knowledge that conflicts with it’s beliefs.
So science is forced to defend itself not from the Major religion’s beliefs but from state permission to disseminate disinformation from one minor well funded political player.

That is a controversy that needs to be revealed.

That can be revealed by just bringing out the facts.
45 years of Creationism morphed into pseudo science and it is still science fiction

With each person specializing in their field without enough time to engage the Arts or Philosophies,which have been navel gazing on the hypnotic drug of postmodernism, then that simply compounds everybody state of disconnectedness with nature and the nature of religion/myth. Strangely scientists (and journalists) need to become priests/mythologists and philosophers to unravel the BS behind the attack and that is not something they do well.

That is a controversy that needs to be revealed.
Educate the educators, introduce a new philosophy, don’t we have enough already ?
Who has the time?

How about a list of the 5 commandments for science and the 5 definitions for pseudoscience posted on the wall of every science classroom in the country with an explanation script no Creationism or Pseudoscience taught here.

No mention need by made of the DI —
remember no religion, no science, just spin

Comment #61430

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 4, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 10:41 AM (e) (s)

No. No no no no no.

Here are some pages about how to use semicolons:

http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~olson/pms/semicolon.ht…
http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hyp…
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semicolon

LOL,

I was trying to use it in this way.

From Eats, Shoots & Leaves: by Lynne Truss

“Expectation is what these stops are about; expectation and elastic energy…”

But freely admit I fell for this same book

“…semicolons are dangerously habit-forming…”

Comment #61431

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

I do not want to stamp out religion, as Lenny suggested on another thread. But I do want to see people confronted with the consequences of their beliefs, especially when those beliefs make them reject scientific thinking and the scientific method. As Ken Miller has argued, it is possible to believe in God without rejecting science and the overwhelming evidence for evolution.

How do you intend to argue this in a public school classroom without running afoul of the First Amendment?

Why are you allowed to preach your religious opinions in public school classrooms any more than the fundies are?

And why should public schools be a platform for religious argument in the first place?

Comment #61432

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

“I went and googled this.
Quite scary reading.
It would appear that it is possible to teach high school science in the USA without any formal science education.
Amazing.
No wonder high school; rather than college is the target for ID.

I hope I am mistaken.”

You are not mistaken. In some cases 8 hours of college credit in a subject is all you “need”. I began my career teaching Chemistry (my degree) and Physics (12 hours). There was a HUGE difference in the quality of my teaching in these two subjects.(Thank God someone with better qualifications has taken over the physics) I can understand how this happens, though. Very few people in my graduating class majored in the sciences (most majored in English and other humanities areas) and the vast majority of those went to med school. 24 years ago, I could choose between teaching ($9800/year in a small rural school), Texaco ($30-40K and graduate school in petrochemical engineering) or the Navy (oodles of benefits as well as graduate training in really cool things like nuclear chemistry). It’s a no-brainer. Even private schools, which get around the immense problems that public schools face, can have problems attracting qualified teachers in science as well as math and foreign language.

Good teaching, in spite of what the public may think, requires long hours, lots of professional development on one’s own, and pays far less than most professions. Yes, many have summer months “off”, but many of us spend that time developing ourselves as scholars, scientists and teachers, or earning extra $ to send our own kids to college. Don’t get me wrong-I LOVE my profession and wake up each day rarin’ to go (except when it’s below freezing, but the spirit is still willing) but it’s not for everyone. My teaching job is a dream job; good students, supportive parents and administration, adequate budget, and time to do my own “real” science. Few teachers have a job like mine.

Comment #61433

Posted by Russell on December 4, 2005 11:14 AM (e)

I wonder if Dr. Verhey &/or Mr. Balter have followed the Leonard controversy here in Ohio. It seems rather close to the subject of this thread. Any comments?

Comment #61434

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

Lenny asks:

How do you intend to argue this in a public school classroom without running afoul of the First Amendment?

Why are you allowed to preach your religious opinions in public school classrooms any more than the fundies are?

And why should public schools be a platform for religious argument in the first place?

I intend to answer this when I give my ideas for applying Verhey’s approach in the high schools, but I do not want to do this until he has had a chance to weigh in on this issue and respond to the other posts. Otherwise it will become a debate about my ideas rather than Verhey’s paper. But I will do so if Gary lets the thread run a little longer.

Comment #61435

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 11:21 AM (e)

I intend to answer this when I give my ideas for applying Verhey’s approach in the high schools

Um, why can’t you just answer it now? What’s the big secret?

Comment #61436

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 11:49 AM (e)

Um, why can’t you just answer it now? What’s the big secret?

No secret, Lenny, but since my proposals are designed to bypass these problems I think it best to answer in that context. Meanwhile, however, one might ask why assigning ID materials at a publicly funded university did not fall foul of the First Amendment–Steve, did anyone raise that at WCU?

Comment #61437

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 12:02 PM (e)

“Expectation is what these stops are about; expectation and elastic energy…”

You’ll have to show us what the ellipses are covering up, if you want us to judge the semicolon use. “expectation and elastic energy…” does not tell us enough. Here, let me show you how to make those sentences readable:

No wonder high school, rather than college, is the target for ID.

Add to that the questions that Lenny keeps asking Salvador, and I was convinced that ID is not science.

(I now know that those questions have been constantly repeated, but I did not know that when I asked).

Hey Salvador,
Is there a theory of ID?
If so, what is it?

In general, don’t use them in place of commas, and don’t use them to connect two independent clauses where there’s already a conjunction like ‘and’.

Comment #61438

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 12:07 PM (e)

“I intend to answer this when I give my ideas for applying Verhey’s approach in the high schools”

No offence, but in this country we have a far more important problem that must be tackled first. We should not muddy the water even further with a debate this complicated until we raise the quality of science education in our high schools. I would be TOTALLY opposed to even attempting this until our high school science classes are able to do what they must do: teach SCIENCE as a discipline, as a method, as a body of knowledge, as a human endeaver throughout history. If our public is a) uneducated about what science is and b) uninterested in learning about science and c) easily swayed by political or religious movements masked as science, then we must solve the problems there first.

Comment #61439

Posted by BWE on December 4, 2005 12:52 PM (e)

From page 7 of the document.

For example, it is possible that the simple act of demonstrating respect and tolerance for nonrationalist views while teaching about evolution had the effect of allowing students to open their minds to new ideas.

From registered user

People who whine and whimper about the ridicule dished out by Lenny and PZ (and this blog although not as frequently and not as persuasively) as well as people who believe this is all about a misunderstanding of “how evolution works” are missing the point.

Please recall: there is no “theory” of “intelligent design.” Never ever ever forget this.

There is only a desire of religious people to diminish the status of science and to have their religious beliefs coddled and/or promoted in public school science classrooms by the government.

That’s it.

There is a bottom line here. I believe that it may flow from the word “Nonrationalist”.

And, um, I feel like I really should reply to heywood since he mentioned me specifically,
Read these lecture notes. Once you understand them, come back and talk about how things work.
http://www.nyu.edu/projects/fitch/courses/evolution/html/systematics.html

This is the kind of thing you would have learned in school.

You don’t even realize that you came to school and forgot your pants. I want to be nice but you just deserve the ridicule so much.

Comment #61440

Posted by BWE on December 4, 2005 1:02 PM (e)

Also, If there is any value to this statement …
My wife claims that teaching science to 6,7 and 8th graders works best when you can personalize it. Tell the stories of the scientists. Then when you describe their methodology, it is like a mystery and the students really seem to get it. You know, the story has a plot. I want to know x. So this is what I will do. Eureka moments make great stories.

So maybe you could “teach the controversy” as a warning to students not to close their minds. You know, tell the story of Michael Behe or someone like that. Show how bias can get injected into experiment. In Jr High and High School, they really aren’t designing many experiments. They are moslty learning how others did it. But some of the issues with designing experiments are really beautiful illustrations of why ID is bunk and even potentially dangerous.

Comment #61441

Posted by BWE on December 4, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

I’m sorry, I just have to share:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/weekinreview/04good.html

Comment #61442

Posted by Alan Fox on December 4, 2005 1:40 PM (e)

BWE

Let’s hope that may be a turning point and that ID will be more widely perceived as “having no clothes”. Taking back the agenda and challenging ID’s proponents for their theory and evidence at every available opportunity is the most effective and honest way of demonstrating ID’s vacuity.

Comment #61443

Posted by BWE on December 4, 2005 1:53 PM (e)

You are right of course, but let’s say My agenda is a geocentric universe and I can buy a lot of press. Do we have to debate them too? I guess we do and in the long run that’s how we make critical thinkers but sheesh.

Comment #61444

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on December 4, 2005 2:05 PM (e)

I’ve already noted the problem of which effect is being examined: the point is whether students learn the material better in the treatment group rather than the control group, not whether students change “belief” in one direction or another. I don’t care if a student who starts as a young-earth creationist ends up as something else at the end of the course. What I want to know is whether that student has actually learned the concepts and evidence of evolutionary biology such that he or she can accurately state them and apply them.

Beyond that, the whole notion of using the classroom as a means to change religious belief is simply offensive. That’s what the antievolutionists have been after all this time. Part of the antievolutionist motivation has been the perception that the classroom is being used for indoctrination targetting their beliefs, and Balter’s promotion of this approach for K-12 classes is a validation of this element of antievolutionist thought. If there is to be any hope of resolving this issue, the classrooms need to be places of instruction, not pulpits for one viewpoint or another depending on which teacher or school board is in control. I don’t want either evangelical theists or evangelical atheists to gain control of classrooms.

Comment #61445

Posted by Alan Fox on December 4, 2005 2:07 PM (e)

But taking the analogy with ID. Geocentricism doesn’t fit the facts or make the right predictions. Any amount of money can’t hide that reality as the truth is self-evident. The paymasters like the Templeton Foundation expect results. ID can’t give them any and is ultimately doomed as anything other than a religious belief.

The money and backing ID has had from the religious and political right will turn out to be as reliable as that of the Templeton Foundation, as the realisation that ID has nothing to offer them begins to set in.

Comment #61446

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 4, 2005 2:09 PM (e)

I chuckled at this part:

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

“They never came in,” said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

(Boldfacing mine)

Um, haven’t we been pointing this out for an awfully long time?

Comment #61448

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 4, 2005 2:17 PM (e)

Tho of course, this was also funny just for its wild disingenuousness:

Advocates of intelligent design perceived the risk as so great that the Discovery Institute said it had tried to dissuade the school board in Dover from going ahead and taking a stand in favor of intelligent design. The institute opposed the Dover board’s action, it said, because it “politicized” what should be a scientific issue.

Now, with a decision due in four or five weeks, design proponents like Mr. West of Discovery said the Dover trial was a “sideshow” - one that will have little bearing on the controversy.

“The future of intelligent design, as far as I’m concerned, has very little to do with the outcome of the Dover case,” Mr. West said. “The future of intelligent design is tied up with academic endeavors. It rises or falls on the science.”

Comment #61449

Posted by Jason on December 4, 2005 2:22 PM (e)

Speaking of controversy, why isn’t there more of a controversy between ID people and “honest” creationists?

I can (kinda) understand creationists embracing the ID people, but why the hell do ID people embrace creationists? I know they are one in the same, but people like the DI don’t want you to think that.

I think we need to somehow intice the ID people to challenge and condemn some true creationist ideas. I’d like to see them dump on a 600 year old earth. I’d like to see them dump on hydrological sorting. I’d like to see them dump on catastrophic plate techtonics. The whole nine.

Conversely, we need to trumpet the fact that ID (at least the way it is publicly presented actually embraces evolutionary theory in 99% of all circumstances. Hell, even Demski himself said on TV that basically not everything is intelligently designed (Daily Show).

This should be the new strategy. Things like “Well, at least we in the scientific community can accept some parts of ID, the parts that agree with the theory of evolution. ID people point to a handful of biological structures and infer supernatural design, but thankfully, they embrace the rest of evolutionary theory just fine.”

What would the ID people do then?

Seriously we need to somehow pit the ID people against the creationists. The ID people won’t want to do it, because they are obviously creationists in disguise. Anyway, the easy thing to do is ask ID people through emails and blog posts about which parts they think are evolved and which parts are not. They MUST pick at least one thing that they think is evolved.

Comment #61450

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 2:28 PM (e)

Balter

Let’s imagine that all the hopes of most here on PT are realized. The Dover school board loses the case and does not appeal; the Kansas school board decision is challenged in the courts and the board loses; one or more of these cases goes up to the Supreme Court and it rules that teaching ID in the schools is a violation of First Amendment strictures about church and state and does so in such uncertain terms that any attempts to introduce ID/creationism in the public schools will go nowhere. And, for good measure, the Discovery Institute’s conspiracies are exposed as a dishonest scam to get religion into the schools under the guise that ID is a “scientific” alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Where will we be then?

First, I don’t hope that the Dover school board doesn’t appeal. I would love to see them appeal – so they get their butts handed to them by more Federal judges!

As for where we will be, we could be quite golden except you forgot one of my hopes – that journalists in this country stop trying to create little “he said she said” stories for scientifically illiterate folks to lap up.

The Discovery Institute has already been exposed as a scam machine. It just hasn’t been reported by enough journalists in a clear way and in a way which disabuses Americans (who get their news from TV and radio and local newspapers) of the notion that the Discovery Institute has anything whatsoever to do with learning basic facts about biology and life on earth.

That’s where you’d come in, Mr. Balter – in theory. But now you seem to want to claim to be an expert in child education.

I think that Verhey’s experiment worked, especially when it moved biblical literalists over in the rational direction, precisely because the students realized the truth in what Miller is saying and especially his very eloquent last sentence.

Just out of curiosity, Mr. Balter, what is the time frame over which this great conversion of “biblical literalist” minds through the public school system is supposed to take place?

Nevertheless, and despite RU’s continuing protests against my citing the poll figures, creationism/ID represent the overwhelming majority view among Americans

Except that I’ve shown you why your polls are worthless garbage, Balter, and miss the point which is that most Americans don’t want religion shoved down their children’s throats in public school science classes.

Yet you still continue to recite your script. Wow. And claim to be on “our side.” That’s really sad, Mr. Balter.

I will be back with my own ideas.

New ones? Do the ideas involve you actually doing your job as journalist? Or do you coordinate the distribution of scripts to high school teachers?

I’ll ask a question again that you dodged, Mr. Balter:

If students already know what a con artist is and how advertisements and fear can be used to persuade people that things (e.g., the theory of evolution) are something that they are clearly not (”a theory in crisis”), then why not teach them that the Discovery Institute and its employees are doing exactly that?

What is standing in the way of teachers doing that?

Comment #61452

Posted by Jason on December 4, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

Oh yeah, you don’t need formal science training to teach science in the US. I was an undergrad in Louisiana getting my BS in Chemistry. Some local podunk high school asked me to tutor the girl’s basketball coach in Chemistry so she could teach it to 10th graders.

That’s right. A college senior without yet a degree in Chemistry was tutoring a girl’s basketball coach who was maybe 21 so she could go the next day to teach what I tutored.

Needless to say, she still didn’t get it and after a while she stopped calling me for tutoring.

The reason, of course, was because this school was poor and could never afford a teacher with a degree, much less a PhD.

Comment #61454

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 2:47 PM (e)

No offence, but in this country we have a far more important problem that must be tackled first. We should not muddy the water even further with a debate this complicated until we raise the quality of science education in our high schools. I would be TOTALLY opposed to even attempting this until our high school science classes are able to do what they must do: teach SCIENCE as a discipline, as a method, as a body of knowledge, as a human endeaver throughout history. If our public is a) uneducated about what science is and b) uninterested in learning about science and c) easily swayed by political or religious movements masked as science, then we must solve the problems there first.

I quite agree, and that is indeed the basic gripe I have with Balter.

If our goal is to have kids learn science and how it works, it seems to me that the best way to do this is to, well, teach kids science and how it works.

Balter’s goal, however, seems to be to change people’s religious opinions.

It’s a goal that I wouldn’t support, even if it were possible to do (and I don’t think it is).

I’d prefer to see science taught, and taught well, and in conjunction with that, I’d prefer that kids are taught “critical thinking skills” or “BS detection”, using a whole RANGE of pseudo-scientific and anti-scientific subjects, such as flying saucers or psychic detectives or Bigfoot or Holocaust denial, rather than just giving the IDers what they want by focusing a “debate” on them. IDers are no different than the Holocaust deniers or the moon-landing-was-faked-ers. I see no reason why they should be given special treatment or focus.

If we want kids to learn to apply scientific method to a wide range of topics, I think the best way to do that is to, well, apply the scientific method to a wide range of topics.

Comment #61455

Posted by Jason on December 4, 2005 2:48 PM (e)

Hmm, maybe the other post wasn’t so clear.

The “true” creationists are where DI gets its money.

The DI will not dump on “true” creationists because of this.

We have to make them.

We have to get the ID people to “admit” that they think most of life has evolved and that evolution happens.

They don’t really think that deep down, but this is a way to pin them more into the corner.

They can’t have it both ways. We can’t let them say that ID is scientific in one breath, but in the other accept “true” creationism.

Just get someone like Demski or Behe to say “yes, mammalian scrotum arose through natural selection.” Anything.

If they refuse then they implicitly admit that they are in fact “true” creationists.

Comment #61456

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 2:53 PM (e)

I’ve already noted the problem of which effect is being examined: the point is whether students learn the material better in the treatment group rather than the control group, not whether students change “belief” in one direction or another. I don’t care if a student who starts as a young-earth creationist ends up as something else at the end of the course. What I want to know is whether that student has actually learned the concepts and evidence of evolutionary biology such that he or she can accurately state them and apply them.

Beyond that, the whole notion of using the classroom as a means to change religious belief is simply offensive. That’s what the antievolutionists have been after all this time. Part of the antievolutionist motivation has been the perception that the classroom is being used for indoctrination targetting their beliefs, and Balter’s promotion of this approach for K-12 classes is a validation of this element of antievolutionist thought. If there is to be any hope of resolving this issue, the classrooms need to be places of instruction, not pulpits for one viewpoint or another depending on which teacher or school board is in control. I don’t want either evangelical theists or evangelical atheists to gain control of classrooms.

I agree absolutely with Wes. Changing religious opinions is a job for churches, not for schools. Balter is, in my view, no different than the IDers – he wants to use sciecne classrooms to push his religious opinions onto others.

I, on the other hand, want to use sciecne classrooms to teach kids what science is, how it works, and how to use science to detect BS.

What I find interesting is that I can accomplish my goal even if ID is never mentioned even once in class — we can talk about UFO’s or ESP or faked moon landings and get the same effect. So I see no reason at all to give the IDers what they want by “debating” their crap in a science classroom.

Balter (and IDers) on the other hand, can NOT reach their goal unless ID, specifically, is addressed and discussed. Which is why Balter and the IDers are, essentially, fighting for the same thing – they both want to use ID to change people’s religious opinions. They simply disagree about the direction of that change.

Comment #61457

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 2:54 PM (e)

Wesley

Part of the antievolutionist motivation has been the perception that the classroom is being used for indoctrination targetting their beliefs, and Balter’s promotion of this approach for K-12 classes is a validation of this element of antievolutionist thought.

Exactly.

To the extent any lesson plan which discuss the arguments “for and against ID” weighs strongly in favor of the truth (that ID is scientifically vacuous), the DI will rant about persecution and discrimination of their “worldview” (just like Dobson et al. makes all sorts of noises when schools try to promote the idea that bigotry against gay people in school is hurtful to gay people in school and therefore should not be practiced in school).

To the extent that any lesson plan does NOT weigh strongly in favor of the truth (that ID is scientifically vacuous), the DI will simply crow happily about how “ID must have some substance – why else would scientists themselves be advocating the teaching of ID”?

This is why ignoring or downplaying the behavior the DI and its founders and its employees in any discussion of ID opens one to the risk of having one’s statements be used by the DI as support for their program.

Is it boring to continually point out the facts about the DI? Yeah, it gets tiresome.

But it’s less boring than endless discussions of the bacterial flagellum which, as Lenny points out, nobody pays attention to anyway (except for the conclusions).

I’m still reeling from Verhey’s claim that scientists are the ones to blame for the present state of scientific illiteracy in the United States and the success of “intelligent design” as a political movement. Poo-pooing the influence and power of creationism think tanks like the Discovery Institute (whose propaganda campaign is ongoing, by the way, and more widely circulated than writings on this blog, I’m guessing) is a really really really stupid thing to do.

Comment #61464

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 3:29 PM (e)

“I’m still reeling from Verhey’s claim that scientists are the ones to blame for the present state of scientific illiteracy in the United States and the success of “intelligent design” as a political movement.”

Blame for scientific illiteracy rests with the members of the public, who have lost the appreciation for all that science has accomplished, and who demonstrate that education is not a life-long process, but something to be endured until one can move on to something “better”. It rests with politicians and corporations who distort science to serve their own selfish ends. It rests with state and local governments who fail to adequately fund their schools and with parents who do not expect their children to behave and excel in school. It rests with us, the science educators, for losing sight of what is important, for failing to be generalists rather than specialists, for being afraid to ask our students for more, and for buckling under the demands of religious conservatives who feel that schools are “Godless”. It rests with elementary teachers, many of whom are not proficient in math and science themselves and fail to give kids an adequate start.

Scientists are not to blame. In fact, where there are large numbers of parents who themselves are scientists, the science programs in the local schools are strong. This is because these parents demand that it be so, support the schools and hold administrations accountable, and supply assistance in the form of advice and expertise.

If this was a debate about another discipline, say history or foreign language, the problem would be the same. Schools fall short for many reasons

Comment #61466

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 4, 2005 3:43 PM (e)

I started writing this just after comment #61441, and I haven’t read any of the more recent posts yet. My computer ate the first version, which slowed me down.

The NYT declared ID moribund this morning, but back in the early 21st century, when I was doing the work that started this discussion, ID was metastasizing rapidly in spite of the best efforts of the self-proclaimed ID-fighters here and elsewhere.

Very early in this discussion, Pete Dunkelberg (comment #61170) said he hoped my (admittedly imperfect) paper would lead to discussion of how to approach teaching these issues. While I appreciate all the comments, I think my paper is being asked to do more than is fair. It started, after all, with a class I put together based on my teaching instincts, my own understanding and experience with science, and a realization that the traditional approach was not working – and maybe was doing more harm than good. I hoped the paper would stimulate discussion, and it has. I hoped the paper would inspire more research, and I think it has.

My main point is in the last paragraph of the paper: it’s no secret that science education needs updating. This will be a challenging proposition. One can’t ignore the idea that the poor state of science education is the direct result of the neglect of science educators, who tend to be rewarded for their work as scientists and not as educators. Faculty who weren’t hired for positions in science education are discouraged from doing research on education. In graduate school we’re taught to see teaching as an interruption of our work on our research, and as college faculty those of us who didn’t internalize that attitude toward teaching in grad school are threatened with unemployment if we don’t behave as if we had internalized it. My blaming scientists for the pathetic state of science education was hyperbole, but it is undeniable that scientists/science (in the aggregate, not necessarily as individuals) bear substantial responsibility.

It seems to me that there are at least four fronts of what the ID fighters view as an epic battle (but don’t forget the old joke about academic controversies being so bitter because so little is at stake):

1. High school classes (and perhaps earlier levels as well)
2. College classes in biology, other disciplines, and general education
3. Informal education (museums, popular press, etc.)
4. Politics

ID may be moribund, but the ideas are out there and they have tremendous momentum. I’ve just checked Amazon for the sales data on The Blind Watchmaker and Darwin’s Black Box. The two are usually in a see-saw battle for the lead, and this morning Behe is ahead at about #1400. Dawkins is at about #1600. Counteracting the momentum will take work at all the levels listed above.

In my paper I tried to outline my approach, parts of which might be useful at all levels listed above but not without modification for high school and earlier. I’ll try to expand a little on my reasoning here. If anyone would like to challenge it by suing my university on grounds of violation of the establishment clause, they might be doing all of us a favor.

1. It’s useful to have a hook to get students’ interest. Often we use human health for this, but I chose “beginnings” as the theme. It let me tie in the notion of the beginning of their college careers so I could talk about some things new college students need to hear about, like study skills, drugs, and time management. I also chose evolution/ID as another theme, because it was very topical at the time and I had just come across Wells’ book.

2. One can’t study biology without understanding some chemistry, and that’s how our textbook starts, so first we looked at where the elements came/come from. They come from fusion in stars, so we talked about where stars came from, which led us to the Big Bang.

3. The Big Bang emerged as an idea as a result of the Hubble equation, which gave us a chance to do some arithmetic. The BB upset physicists, which gave us a chance to talk about religion and science for the first time. The students knew that I knew little about physics, which made us co-learners, considered a Good Thing in pedagogy.

4. Meanwhile, we talked about the origin of science, which is where the pre-Socratics came in. They were the first to apply naturalist thought, and they provide the simplest definition of science: the search for natural – not supernatural – explanations of how the universe works. ID fails this simple test, but I let students come to this realization on their own as much as possible. This meant I had to remind students about the pre-Socratics repeatedly throughout the term.

5. My own definition of science is that it is the management of uncertainty. Plato was very uncomfortable with uncertainty. Aristotle solved the problem by accepting that uncertainty is unavoidable, and he said that different levels of uncertainty are inherent in different disciplines. We listed different science disciplines in increasing order of uncertainty: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, political science.

5a. By the way, the ancient Greeks weren’t irreligious, but Socrates was persecuted as such. One of the things Socrates taught that got him into trouble was that “the sun is stone, and the moon, earth.” The mainstream view was that the sun was an actual god.

6. The Hubble equation tells us with mathematical certainty that the universe had a beginning. Standard, particle, and quantum cosmology address the beginning with increasing levels of uncertainty. Quantum cosmology gives us clues about the nature of the Big Band 10^-46 seconds after It happened! So we got to talk about uncertainty and how we can move toward understanding things even if we aren’t absolutely sure about details. We talked about how scientists say they don’t know what happened before the Big Bang, rather than proposing something supernatural.

7. Aristotle is also considered the “Father of” a variety of scientific disciplines, so we finally got to start talking about biology with this as a segueway.

8. All of this took 1.5-2 weeks, during which we started reading Dawkins. We substituted 1 hr/wk of lecture with a seminar discussion, where it became evident that students were generally offended by Dawkins’ tone, but did agree that he respects Paley. I emphasized the point that it is possible to disagree with someone while maintaining respect for them.

9. I also introduced fallacious arguments, using an online list of fallacies and an online writing assignment that presented examples of fallacious arguments from advertisements, cartoons, news stories, and so on.

10. From here on out the class looked pretty traditional, except for the ongoing readings and discussions of Dawkins and Wells. We stopped reading Dawkins before his rant about punctuated equilibrium, but I must admit I couldn’t resist reading Wells’ rant about human origins in the last two chapters of his book. In a way, this was unavoidable, because students found Wells so easy to read that some of them read ahead, while no one was interested in reading any more of Dawkins than was assigned.

Whenever necessary in lectures, discussions, or labs I reminded them about rationalism, fallacies, uncertainty, and other foundational science concepts. I pointed out as often as necessary that scientists don’t mind saying “I don’t know,” and will say that instead of “and then a miracle occurs.”

During the discussion of this thread various people have called for teaching science, then presenting the flaws of ID. The engaging prior learning part of my paper suggests that this might not be as effective as some might hope. I base this not only on my own results, which are supportive, not conclusive, but also on basic educational theory. Taken together, the two strands reduce the uncertainty in my claim that my approach has merit, but it is impossible to eliminate uncertainty in science.

Comment #61467

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 3:50 PM (e)

If this was a debate about another discipline, say history or foreign language, the problem would be the same. Schools fall short for many reasons

Exactly, Americans are not pig-ignorant solely in science – they are pig-ignorant in virtually EVERYTHING. Many Americans don’t know which country the US won independence from. Many can’t find the US on a world map. Many Americans can’t even READ at a sixth grade level. About one in four American kids doesn’t even finish high school; less than half of US kids go to college, and of those, fewer than half actually graduate.

If scientists are to blame for the sorry state of science education in the US, are historians to blame for the sorry state of history education? Are journalists and writers to blame for the widespread functional illiteracy in the US?

As I noted before, ALL of education in the US is a mess. Mostly because we, as a society, don’t WANT to do anything about it. As long as we can continue to fill the ranks of future cheeseburger-flippers, education is simply not a priority for anyone in the US.

Changing that will require far-reaching changes in our social, economic and political structures. And we have demonstrated, again and again, that we simply don’t WANT to do that.

Comment #61468

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 3:57 PM (e)

During the discussion of this thread various people have called for teaching science, then presenting the flaws of ID. The engaging prior learning part of my paper suggests that this might not be as effective as some might hope.

Effective at what, specifically.

What, specifically, was your goal in this course? Was it to teach kids what science is and how it works, or, was it to change their minds about ID or religion?

Comment #61469

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 4:03 PM (e)

I am amazed that a group of scientists can be so unscientific when analyzing these issues.

The experiment HAS BEEN PERFORMED and the DATA ARE IN. It is now about four decades since the public schools in the US were forbidden to teach, and by extension even discuss, any ideas remotely resembling religion. And yet study after study demonstrates that about half of americans do not accept evolution and instead have young earth creationist ideas about origins. Clearly these policies have failed, from our point of view.

I have many times advocated on this blog the desireability, from a scientist’s perspective, to have ID and YEC ideas discussed (that is discussed, not taught) in HS and certainly on the college level as part of a broader study on “opinion formation”. Usually everyone here attacks these ideas of mine, but I am glad to see Lenny and Verhey and Balter and others come around. Some folks are just slower than others, but better late than never. Lenny’s “BS detector” is my “opinion formation” made more palatable.

The reason these policies have failed, I think, is that while science teachers cannot critique contrarian views, the students’ religious acquaintances and mentors are free to critique science and frequently do so. So science has competed in the marketplace of student ideas with both hands tied behind its back. To argue for a continuation of keeping our hands tied makes no sense.

The data also reveals that, contrary to what Lenny and others believe, the poor state of education in the US is not due to a lack of commitment and spending on education in our country. We spend more per student and per capita on education than we ever have and rank first among modern industrial countries in the world in such spending. The cause of our education trouble is cultural. Students just do not study. They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows).

So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

Comment #61471

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 4, 2005 4:05 PM (e)

Steve, interesting question that was not at all related to the topic at hand. When I was a professor I would brush it off with “See me after class.” and we could go have a beer. Here it is just deleted.

Comment #61472

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 4, 2005 4:14 PM (e)

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 04:03 PM (e) (s)

I the poor state of education in the US is not due to a lack of commitment and spending on education in our country. We spend more per student and per capita on education than we ever have and rank first among modern industrial countries in the world in such spending. The cause of our education trouble is cultural. Students just do not study. They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows).

So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

I would think that the amount spent per student is irrelevant. How it is spent is far more important. Here in the UK, we are spending far more per citizen on National Health. However health care is not significantly improving. Mainly because the majority of extra money is being used up by providing statistics and paying out in compensation.

(3 stages of untruth)
Lies, damn lies and bloody statistics!
Statistics can prove almost anything.

Comment #61473

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 4:18 PM (e)

They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows).

So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

So your solution is to … what, keep mom at home, turn off the TV, and prevent kids from screwing?

What do you think the economic implications would be if everyone in the world was capable of reaching PhD level education, and actually did just that?

I’m not sure what it is specifically that you are asking. After all, there are PhD’s in New York who drive taxicabs for a living….

Comment #61474

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

Verhey

ID may be moribund, but the ideas are out there and they have tremendous momentum.

Can we please cut it with the unsupported hyperbole, Dr. Verhey?

Seriously.

How is the “momentum” of these “ideas” properly measured? Why is this momentum “tremendous”? Compared to what?

You don’t know who is buying those books or why they are buying them or what “ideas” in those books have momentum and which do not. Gosh, Dr. Verhey, maybe some people are buying those books because they want to use them as teaching tools in a class like the one you are advocating.

What do you think, Dr. Verhey? Is that a possibility?

I note that you and John West of the Discovery Institute agree on at least one thing: everybody should read Jonathan Wells’ book, in spite of the fact that Wells is a well-documented charlatan and peddler of misinformation who admits that he attacks evolutionary biology out of devotion to his Moonie Leader!

And you advocate that your biology students read his book? How about some books by Lysenko? Why not read them, too? How else are students ever to figure out that evolutionary biology is not a case of mass delusion of the world’s scientists or a giant conspiracy of atheists organized by George Soros? How else are students to be expected to believe that www.pubmed.org isn’t fake and all the abstracts there are simply written by Christian persecutors who want to outlaw the singing of Silent Night on city streets? They simply must read Jonathan Wells book in order to truly understand why ID is garbage.

Or so you would appear to be claiming.

I could imagine one possible explanation that you and Mr. Balter would love to keep this discussion going as long as possible: you have your own books and or articles in the hopper that you are interested in selling to interested buyers.

I’m not accusing you of that sort of shallowness, Dr. Verhey. I’m only pointing out that your rhetoric and Balter’s has more than a little bit of a salesman’s whiff about it and very very little substance.

You might want to consider working on that aspect of your argument. It’s called “proofreading.”

Comment #61475

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 4:27 PM (e)

“As I noted before, ALL of education in the US is a mess. Mostly because we, as a society, don’t WANT to do anything about it. As long as we can continue to fill the ranks of future cheeseburger-flippers, education is simply not a priority for anyone in the US.

Changing that will require far-reaching changes in our social, economic and political structures. And we have demonstrated, again and again, that we simply don’t WANT to do that.”

Good education costs money.

To keep teacher load down to where each student gets regular individual feedback on writing and individual attention in and out of the classroom.

To give each student access to a properly equipped lab (or studio, or theater, or language center, or library, or computer center)

To give each teacher the support and funding to develop themselves as scientists, writers, artists, historians, and above all, educators.

I debated my father about school vouchers (my dad is a reaganesque, bush sr, bush jr republican) and pointed out that the voucher issue should make it clear to the American public one vital fact- Good private schools cost more than twice than most school districts spend per pupil. A voucher would not begin to cover the cost of private schools. (Don’t get fooled by some schools’ low tuition-they are probably heavily subsidized by the church that owns them; my school keeps tuition at the level of our competitors by covering a large chunk with endowment/annual fund) The same applies to small liberal arts colleges-when teaching is the primary obligation of professors, the tuition is higher.

Public schools have two additional expensive burdens private schools don’t-students with special needs. These students are main-streamed when budgets get tight, to reduce the cost of aids and specially trained educators. In the minds of some public school teachers, inappropriate mainstreaming of special needs students is the biggest impediment to quality teaching. Private schools are also independent, working under the guidance of regional or national organizations such as SACS or NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) instead of elected school boards. Control of a school lies in the hands of the school’s administration.

The funny thing is, you would think that a parent who invests so much money in a private school would constantly be trying to control how that school operates. The opposite is true-private school parents involve themselves in so many ways to support the school, in athletics, admissions, fund raising, campus improvement, etc. But they don’t seem interested in micromanaging the classroom. They do expect private school teachers to do their jobs-to stay current in their field, to teach using innovative methods, and to demand excellence from their students.

The sad thing is, quality education should be the right of every child in this country, not just those that can dish out $13K per year per child in school tuition.

Comment #61476

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 4:33 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'i'

Comment #61477

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 4:33 PM (e)

Lenny,

How about keep mom or dad at home, turn off the TV, and have the at-home parent show some interest in what the student is doing at school AND make sure they attend to their studies. School is mostly listening and watching (in academic subjects) while students learn mostly by “doing”. That is where homework comes in.

Comment #61478

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on December 4, 2005 4:37 PM (e)

It is now about four decades since the public schools in the US were forbidden to teach, and by extension even discuss, any ideas remotely resembling religion.

Falsehood. If intentionally told, a lie.

Comparative religion is still just peachy as a course. You can teach the ideas, you just can’t preach them.

It took about quarter of a minute of Googling to find an empirical disproof of the claim above:

In addition to the required courses, schools may offer one or more of the Social Studies electives including:

* Anthropology
* Current Affairs
* Comparative Religion
* Philosophy
* Political Science
* Psychology
* Sociology

(Source)

Comment #61479

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 4:38 PM (e)

While writing my rather verbose post (sorry) Ms. Clouser joined the fray! This discussion has gotten interesting, since she and I unknowingly posted opposing views about school funding. Unfortunately, I have to go to work (my school is a boarding school, and my kids like to do lab work on weekends) so I will miss the next few hours. What a pity; I would be interested to see what others have to say about this topic.

Comment #61480

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

Chill, gh

Comment #61481

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

I would think that the amount spent per student is irrelevant.

It is also very very heavily dependent upon where the student lives – and “per capita spending” hides a **very** lopsided distribution of this funding. In the US, local school districts are funded (mostly) through property taxes. That means wealthy areas with high property values, have more money to spend on education than do poor areas with low property values. LOTS more. In other words, rich people’s kids get lots of money for education, poor people’s kids get diddley-squat. New Jersy, for instance, a wealthy state with a high proportion of “professionals”, spends over $9,000 per student; Mississippi and Alabama, on the other hand, which are poor states, spend around $3,000 per capita. Within New York, the statewide average is around $5500 per student. In the wealthier suburban schools, however, per capita spending in New York went as high as $11,000 per student. In the town of San Antonio, Texas, per capita spending within school districts varied from just $2100 per student, to over $19,000 per student. The San Antonio schools with the least per capita spending had average property values of $20,000 per student; the district with the most per capita spending had average property values of *$14 million* per student. (See http://www.pbs.org/newshour/backgrounders/school_funding.html)

It’s one reason why I’ve always advocated that schools be funded from the state or federal level, so that all schools get adequate and equitable funding, no matter where they are located. Alas, such an idea will never happen, since as a society we simply are not willing to give people any more education than we see as “necessary for them to do their jobs”. Since rich kids will, it is assumed, go on to found industries and do research and all that good stuff, they “need” to have better schools and better education. Poor kids, on the other hand, are simply expected to spend their lives mopping floors and frying cheeseburgers, and therefore “don’t need” good schools or good education – spending money on them is seen as simply a waste of time and effort.

I’m pretty sure I can guess which part of the population the IDers get most of their support from.

Want to change the distribution of per-capita education spending? Start bussing all the rich little darlings to some urban inner-city schools, and just watch how quickly things will change.

Sad, but true.

Comment #61482

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 4:53 PM (e)

How about keep mom or dad at home

Who pays the rent, then.

Comment #61485

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 5:02 PM (e)

One comment on the NYT editorial Verhey referred to (because, for some reason that isn’t clear to me, this blog won’t let people post comments in the appropriate thread.)

I wonder if Dr. Verhey or Mr. Balter could explain to me why that article appears in the editorial pages of the Sunday edition of the NYTimes instead of on the front page?

And why wasn’t it simply titled: “ID Increasingly Viewed by Christians and Scientists as Pseudoscience”?

And why did the beginning of the article – which is as far as most people read – start with a rundown of events that are perceived as victories by the DIscovery Institute, with the facts about the ID movements glaring failures buried in the middle?

Seriously. I think there are answers to these questions and I think understanding those answers is crucial to understanding what “the problem” is and who bears much of the blame for the problem.

Comment #61487

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 5:06 PM (e)

Good education costs money.

Your post got posted while I was writing mine. As you can see, I think we both are in agreement.

As I noted, changing the way education is done in this country will mean changing a lot of social, economic and political assumptions. Number one on the list is the idea that some people “deserve” better educations than others. In my humble opinion, the corporate CEO and the janitor who mops his floor at night are both citizens of the US, both with the right to vote, and both have the same right to whatever level of education is necessary to make them informed competent voters and citizens. And if that means that CEO Jr goes to the same school, with the same funding and the same equipment and materials, as Janitor Jr, then so be it.

Alas, it will never happen. Those economic, social and political assumptions (we sincerely believe, deep down inside, that some people are indeed better than others) are way too deeply-seated in the American psyche.

I am reminded of a bumper sticker that I’ve seen numerous times; “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.

Good education indeed costs money. And if we, as a society, simply aren’t willing to pay for it, then we, as a society, should stop bitching and moaning and complaining when we don’t get it.

Or, we should just swallow hard and pay what it costs. (shrug)

Comment #61488

Posted by BWE on December 4, 2005 5:08 PM (e)

Ms. Clouser,

Very good advise. Make sure you take an interest in your kids. Play ball with them too.
I wholheartedly agree. But since ID is junk science and in many cases deliberately misleading, how do we adress it at school?

I think we go ahead and use it as an illustration of the power of money and pr. “kids., don’t believe people when they…” I’m not sure, I leave it open to suggestion.

I mean, seriously. Theree is no debate. Never has been. And everyone knows it. If god can’t stand up to the light of day that doesn’t mean we have to hide in the dark.

Comment #61489

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 4, 2005 5:11 PM (e)

Registered User, Neither Verhey nor Balter have any connection to the editorial policy of the New York Times, so the question is inappropriate and I trust that they will not bother to answer.

The comments on the NYT editorial are being hosted at Ed’s personal website which was linked from his post here at PT.

Further, this is not relevant to this topic, and I expect that you will take it elsewhere.

Comment #61491

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

Good education indeed costs money. And if we, as a society, simply aren’t willing to pay for it, then we, as a society, should stop bitching and moaning and complaining when we don’t get it.

I should perhaps modify this to indicate that we aren’t willing to pay for it for everyone.

We are, of course, entirely willing to pay for educating the small wealthy portion of the population that, in our view, “deserves it”. We’re just not willing to pay for educating floor-moppers and cheeseburger-flippers. Despite the fact that their vote counts to precisely the same degree as any CEO or lawyer’s.

Comment #61492

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

Lenny,

Who paid the rent a mere few decades ago?

Or are other things going on here? Is everybody working because it has become fashionable to denigrate stay-at-home parents? Is there a perceived “need” to accumulate material possessions to beat the “Joneses”?

Your analysis is superficial and shallow.

Comment #61494

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Who paid the rent a mere few decades ago?

We don’t live in the 50’s any more, Carol. June Cleaver is dead.

Perhaps you need to get out of the house more often.

Comment #61495

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows).

What do you think the economic implications would be if everyone in the world was capable of reaching PhD level education, and actually did just that?

Remember those ‘social, economic and political changes’ that I said would need to be made if we wanted to improve education, but we don’t really want to make … ?

I’m just waiting for someone to pipe up and ask “Why should we pay good tax money to educate somebody who just flips cheeseburgers for a living?”

Why, indeed.

Comment #61496

Posted by mark duigon on December 4, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

I would agree with Verhey that, when I started college, I brought a lot of baggage with me, and some of it was either simply incorrect or obsolete. However, a lot of it was correct, and was not merely some sort of belief instilled by rote. The reason was, I believe, that I had read as much as I could about science, and was already familiar with some of the issues being argued at the time. It struck me as odd that some of my fellow students had not already considered many of the problems we talked about in class.

When I took introductory biology, the lectures were a bit dry-fact presentation; but the labs emphasized scientific thinking. Our lab manual was “Problem Solving in Biology” by Eugene Kaplan (1968), and each exercise was designed to illustrate various principles of scientific work (including an exercise in “mental discipline”–memorizing the names of all of the bones; but most of the work dealt with how to make inferences based on observations and using data to solve problems).

Comment #61497

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

I’m just waiting for someone to pipe up and ask “Why should we pay good tax money to educate somebody who just flips cheeseburgers for a living?”

Because stone dumb people are a liability for all of us, no matter what they are do for a living.

Gosh, that was simple.

Fyi, many of the smartest people I know did not graduate from high school or go to college. But they grew up in parts of the country where a lot of educated people happened to live.

These people know that creationists are losers and scam artists and can articulate why that is the case but they couldn’t tell you how evolution works or who the “pre-Socratics” are.

Go figure.

Comment #61498

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

Weseley,

Comparative Religion is a treacherous course for high schools to offer because teachers can easily step over the line between discussing, teaching and preaching. Which is why very few high schools in the US offer it and why I carefully stated in my post, “…forbidden to teach, and by extension even discuss…”

It behooves you to read my posts at least as carefully as I write them before launching inappropriate charges. Now have the decency to apologize.

Comment #61499

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

It’s “Wesley,” Carol.

–scoffs in disbelief–

Comment #61501

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

Give her at least some credit — she’s gone three posts now without mentioning JL or his wonderful book.

Comment #61502

Posted by Grey Wolf on December 4, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

Carol,

But they are not, as such, “…forbidden to teach, and by extension even discuss…”, are they? Since it is legal, as Wesley showed? It might be treacherous - but then, so is biology, these days, and Bible reading, from your own example. But not illegal. Admit it - you were lying/wrong.

Why is it that cranks have such a problem admitting they were wrong? I suppose they’re desperate that their irrational beliefs are right, and can’t bear to give up even an inch of their positions.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #61503

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 4, 2005 6:32 PM (e)

Or are other things going on here? Is everybody working because it has become fashionable to denigrate stay-at-home parents? Is there a perceived “need” to accumulate material possessions to beat the “Joneses”?

Your analysis is superficial and shallow.

Lenny’s right, you do need to get out more. The US does not have families where both parents work because we all want to ridicule traditional families, nor because we all want plasma TV’s. In most families both parents work because in most of the US, the cost of living is far too high to live decently or even to make ends meet on only one middle-class income. I’m rather startled that this has to be explained to you.

This is especially the case in terms of rent and mortgages, which are MUCH higher now than they were relative to average incomes back in June Cleaver’s time. For example, where I live, it is rapidly becoming impossible for school teachers to rent an apartment in a non-dangerous neighborhood on a single salary. Heaven forbid you then want to save money for your child’s college education on such a salary.

If ‘traditional families’ advocates want to start bitching about how working mothers are ‘destroying the American Family’, they should put their money where their mouths are and offer families stipends equal to the lost income so they can stay home. Think that’s likely to happen?

Comment #61505

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

If ‘traditional families’ advocates want to start bitching about how working mothers are ‘destroying the American Family’, they should put their money where their mouths are and offer families stipends equal to the lost income so they can stay home. Think that’s likely to happen?

When pigs fly. ;>

Of course, most “traditional family” advocates view the **public school system** as nothing more than glorified day care, and teachers as nothing more than glorified baby-sitters.

Yet another reason why they don’t want to put any money into actually educating poor people’s kids.

Once again, the bottom line is … well … the bottom line. If we as a society want to improve education, then someone needs to PAY FOR IT.

But nobody seems willing to pony up.

Comment #61511

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 4, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

I am leaning to posting a summery, and closing the lid on this one.

If anyone wants to make a last argument, I’ll leave this open for about an hour. If it is really brilliant and sparks a renewed discussion we can continue forever, or as long as it takes.

Comment #61512

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 4, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

Yet another reason why they don’t want to put any money into actually educating poor people’s kids.

Once again, the bottom line is … well … the bottom line. If we as a society want to improve education, then someone needs to PAY FOR IT.

If you assume, as I do, that most Americans don’t really care about fixing public schools – at least, not as long as it costs them anything – then the state of American schools is explained.

But what I find tiring is the compulsion of so many Americans to endlessly invoke ‘moral’ explanations for social phenomena that actually have a very simple economic basis. They’re much more comfortable blaming all of society’s problems by saying that Bad People are Responsible, and if we just punish them, the problem will be solved. This explains how people who complain the worst about our schools are the same people who support taking money away from them, without seeing any evident contradiction.

Comment #61514

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 7:24 PM (e)

But what I find tiring is the compulsion of so many Americans to endlessly invoke ‘moral’ explanations for social phenomena that actually have a very simple economic basis. They’re much more comfortable blaming all of society’s problems by saying that Bad People are Responsible, and if we just punish them, the problem will be solved.

Notice, too, that the people with the “moral failings” are ALWAYS SOMEBODY ELSE. Oddly enough, the moralizers NEVER seem to have any “moral failings” that THEY need to correct.

I wonder why that would be?

Comment #61516

Posted by Steve Verhey on December 4, 2005 7:35 PM (e)

[Lenny, #61467:] Exactly, Americans are not pig-ignorant solely in science — they are pig-ignorant in virtually EVERYTHING. Many Americans don’t know which country the US won independence from. Many can’t find the US on a world map. Many Americans can’t even READ at a sixth grade level. About one in four American kids doesn’t even finish high school; less than half of US kids go to college, and of those, fewer than half actually graduate.

I’m trying to understand Lenny’s nihilism here. Part of the problem seems to be that his facts are a bit mixed up. Here’re a couple of paragraphs from Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College, which was written by a panel chaired by Judith Ramalay and published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Dr. Ramalay was president at Portland State University when they pulled off their general education miracle, Then she went to the Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF, and now she’s a college president again somewhere. I believe Greater Expectations is available at AACU’s web site.

College attendance has grown so rapidly over the past four decades that now 75 percent of high school graduates get some postsecondary education within two years of receiving their diplomas. Older adults, also, have enrolled in increasing numbers. A college degree has in many ways become what a high school diploma became 100 years ago – the path to a successful career and to knowledgeable citizenship.

Students are flocking to college because the world is complex, turbulent, and more reliant on knowledge than ever before. But educational practices invented when higher education served only the few are increasingly disconnected from the needs of contemporary students….

Preparation for higher learning has not kept pace with access. Less than one-half of students who enter college directly from high school complete even a minimally defined college preparatory program. Only 40 percent of school teachers hold the high expectations for performance that would ready students for college-level work. Once in college, 53 percent of all students must take remedial courses. Those students requiring the most remedial work are the least likely to persist and graduate.

These far-reaching developments call for new approaches to educational quality….

Surely we can agree that, with all the room for improvement, improvement is actually possible? Surely college teachers can try to pay more attention to their teaching, and try teaching in ways other than the ways they were taught?

Comment #61517

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

Surely we can agree that, with all the room for improvement, improvement is actually possible? Surely college teachers can try to pay more attention to their teaching, and try teaching in ways other than the ways they were taught?

I don’t recall saying otherwise.

Nevertheless, the crushing pig-ignorance of adult Americans, about virtually every subject, is so widespread and so well-documented that I’m surprised anyone would dispute it.

And, I point out once again, most Americans never see the inside of a college or university. A quite large proportion don’t even graduate high school.

Preparation for higher learning has not kept pace with access. Less than one-half of students who enter college directly from high school complete even a minimally defined college preparatory program. Only 40 percent of school teachers hold the high expectations for performance that would ready students for college-level work. Once in college, 53 percent of all students must take remedial courses. Those students requiring the most remedial work are the least likely to persist and graduate.

Of course this is not limited to biology topics, or even science. As I have already pointed out, there is plenty of pig-ignorance to go around, on virtually any topic.

I see no need to focus solely on science. And even within science, I see no need to focus solely on ID.

Comment #61518

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 8:07 PM (e)

Grey,

Supreme Court decisions have in fact made the teaching of religion illegal in the US public schools, or are you not aware of this?

Arden,

Economic necessity does not explain the extent of two income families, so widespread in the US. In addition, there is a bit of the dog wagging its tail here. With so many two income earning families, the price of homes and other household goods is pressured upward. That is just how our economic system works. Of course that puts even more of a squeeze on the remaining one income families.

Comment #61519

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 8:28 PM (e)

Supreme Court decisions have in fact made the teaching of religion illegal in the US public schools

Nonsense. There is no law or Supreme Court decision in effect anywhere in the United States of America which makes it illegal to teach about religion. None. Not a one.

From the Abington v Schempp decision:

“Nothing that we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistent with the First Amendment.”

What *IS* illegal is to favor one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.

Comparative religion classes are now, have always been, and probably always will be, entirely legal in any public school anywhere in the USA.

You, Carol, are a liar.

Economic necessity does not explain the extent of two income families, so widespread in the US. In addition, there is a bit of the dog wagging its tail here. With so many two income earning families, the price of homes and other household goods is pressured upward. That is just how our economic system works. Of course that puts even more of a squeeze on the remaining one income families.

Then take YOUR shoes off and get back in that kitchen, Carol. (shrug)

Comment #61520

Posted by steve s on December 4, 2005 8:37 PM (e)

Comment #61518

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 08:07 PM (e) (s)

Grey,

Supreme Court decisions have in fact made the teaching of religion illegal in the US public schools, or are you not aware of this?

Nobody with a brain is aware of this, because it’s wrong and idiotic.

Comment #61521

Posted by Wayne Francis on December 4, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

Comment # 61469

carol clouser wrote:

Comment #61469
Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 04:03 PM (e) (s)

The data also reveals that, contrary to what Lenny and others believe, the poor state of education in the US is not due to a lack of commitment and spending on education in our country. We spend more per student and per capita on education than we ever have and rank first among modern industrial countries in the world in such spending. The cause of our education trouble is cultural. Students just do not study. They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows).
So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

And I would applaud my child for having oral sex if he is going to engage in sex. This is because Oral sex is 10 times safer then virginal sex and 50 times safer then anal sex and at 9 years old my son knows about all 3 and the risks involved in each. So looking at it he would be engaging a very safe version of sex 2nd only to mutual masturbation by 2 consenting individuals.

That stirring aside I agree to many parents are not engaged in their children’s lives. Despite what some people think you don’t have to not work to be involved in your children’s lives. Both me and my ex-wife and her partner all work full time. Our son goes to school. He plays computer games. He watches a bit of TV. He plays outside. He is 9 so he is not at the point of having sex yet but when he becomes a teen ager I don’t doubt he’ll be trying to get a bit of slap and tickle. My job as a parent is to educate him so that when he gets to these points in life he at least makes responsible decisions. This in my view would include choosing to engage in oral sex before virginal sex or if he and his partner decide to engage in more risky sex they mitigate that risk as much as possible by the use of birth control, for both of them, and other mechanisms such as paying attention to her cycle avoiding the risky times of ovulation to more abstract methods like him taking 1 hour hot baths every night to lower his sperm count.

I also believe that a parents job isn’t just about teaching their children about sex but everything their children want to know about. My son and I constantly talk about many subjects from math, religion, science, sociology, current events, etc. I might be bless to have a highly intellectual son but I believe part of that comes from engaging my son from day one. Get your child’s brain working from day one by engaging them with the world instead of throwing a pacifier or bottle in their mouth to shut them up or stop them crying.

Stupidity in America and similar countries is largely to blame by one group of people in my opinion. It is not scientists that are to blame. It is not teachers that are to blame. It is not the government that is to blame. It is the parents that are to blame. I was not brought up in a well to do town. My town was blue collar. My graduating class had 300+ people. Education was adequate but not great. My parents where never involved in my learning. I joined the military. I choose to keep learning. I vowed that my son is my #1 priority in my life. Myself and people like me sadly are the exception rather then the rule. I don’t believe that religion is “The Answer” to this problem. I know plenty of religious people that are not interested in their children’s education. I don’t think that social status is a big factor. My son goes to one of the most expensive private schools in South Australia and many of the parents, while engaged in there children’s lives a bit more then average, seem to be more interested in using their children to promote their social status then actually engage in their children’s learning experience.

Sadly I don’t have any real answers on what to do. How do you get parents involved in their kid’s education? In my view it is to have them as educated as possible and have them enjoy learning. I’m sure if I didn’t love to learn then I would probably be less involved with my son’s learning. At the end of the day someone needs to bite the bullet and in my opinion that needs to be the people ultimately responsible for the children.

Part of this is not only engaging your children but engaging your children’s learning environment. This includes defending good science in the schools just like you should defend good education in any area in the school.

Let me end by saying that I don’t believe for 1 second that if my son chooses to have sex as a teenager, before he is married, that this will contribute to him doing poorly in school. Actually I would expect it to aid him in doing better as if he is actually having sex he is probably pouring less effort into trying to get it and that time could be spent on other pursuits such as learning.

Comment #61522

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

Lenny,

I noticed how you changed my statement about the illegality of the “teaching of religion” to your statement about the legality of the “teaching ABOUT religion”. Neat trick. But YOU are the one who is being totally dishonest here.

Comment #61523

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 4, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

Economic necessity does not explain the extent of two income families,

It does where I live. And in lots of other places. If you have a lower to lower-middle income (where being a teacher lands you in much of America), your choices for which geographic areas you can live in plummet if you have only one income. We are not talking about women working so that they can gather frivolous possessions selfishly. We are talking about being able to not live in a dangerous neighborhood, to live in a neighborhood with decent schools, give your kids nice things, to send your children to college, or, more prosaically, simply to not have your house taken away or to not be evicted from your apartment. Not luxuries.

so widespread in the US. In addition, there is a bit of the dog wagging its tail here. With so many two income earning families, the price of homes and other household goods is pressured upward. That is just how our economic system works. Of course that puts even more of a squeeze on the remaining one income families.

I will readily agree that the existence of two income families has made the cost of living more expensive. However, the rise of two income families was a direct result of the increased ability of women to get incomes and to enter the professional classes, which I wouldn’t give up for some abstract notion of ‘protecting the family’. However, the original cause for this situation is really irrelevant. We live in the here-and-now, not the 1940’s, and it is simply not financially feasible at all for most Americans to give up an income. It would be ruinous. Thus, I think any attempt to explain America’s sociological or educational problems on working mothers is incredibly dishonest. At best it’s a bogus ‘solution’ that helps no one, at worst it’s just reactionary social engineering that seeks to blame the victim while distracting people from the real causes of problems.

Comment #61524

Posted by Michael Balter on December 4, 2005 8:49 PM (e)

Lenny said:

Balter (and IDers) on the other hand, can NOT reach their goal unless ID, specifically, is addressed and discussed. Which is why Balter and the IDers are, essentially, fighting for the same thing — they both want to use ID to change people’s religious opinions. They simply disagree about the direction of that change.

Back after several hours. This is a serious distortion of my views. I have said repeatedly that my goal is to foster more openness to evolutionary and more generally scientific thinking. It may be possible to be an evolutionist and believe in God, but you cannot be an evolutionist and believe that the world was created in six days; nor can you be an evolutionist and believe that an intelligent designer was required to get over the alleged “irreproducible complexity” between self-replicating macromacromolecules and a living cell. So more effective teaching of evolution inevitably leads to a shift in either the form or content of religious perspectives, and everyone here knows that. That does not make it the goal, but rather a consequence of the shift that most people here want to see.

Comment #61526

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 9:14 PM (e)

Off work for the night

Carol wrote:

“How about keep mom or dad at home, turn off the TV, and have the at-home parent show some interest in what the student is doing at school AND make sure they attend to their studies. School is mostly listening and watching (in academic subjects) while students learn mostly by “doing”. That is where homework comes in.”

First, I work because I am a teacher. Yes, I need the income (you cannot send kids to college on one salary) but more importantly, I need to work. It is my passion and it is why I went to college and graduate school. If I stayed home, I’d self destruct, and my kids would not benefit from a mother who is stark raving loony. I drive a minivan (bought used) with 250k miles on it, and wear no designer duds. My kids are well adjusted, well read, thoughtful, and yes, both my husband and I are involved in their education.

I resent the notion that school is “listening and watching” while students learn mostly by “doing” homework. MY students DO, they don’t sit and listen or watch. I have no use for lecturing endlessly. In fact, it has been shown that teens don’t learn that way. Homework is not the “doing”, homework is for expanding on what they have accomplished, reading, writing reflectively, or practicing skills. I insist that the bulk of the “learning” occur in class. My students “do” science in my class. Ms. Clouser, you have a rather archaic notion of what good education is.

Sorry that this response is WAY past the original comment, but it touched a nerve.

Comment #61527

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

Mr. Balter

Back after several hours. This is a serious distortion of my views.

How about directly addressing some of the comments addressed to you which don’t “allegedly distort your views”?

You know, with facts to back up your arguments and stuff.

That would be a refreshing change. It would almost be reminiscent of journalism.

Comment #61528

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

MB
That consequence is the natural result of living in a Republic free from the thoughts of one religion.
“What is one to do” as Dembski quotes Lenin
I remind you

In a Republic no “one” person gets to decide what to do.
That is what freedom of Religion means for EVERY person.

From here and I think others see it too, is that your personal world view is clouding your perception of the problem and you are unwittingly played into the hands of the extremes on both sides.

An inability on your part to grasp the core of the problem.
A lack of knowledge.
A lack of ability to process that knowledge.
Be comfortable if you want, getting under the skin of this problem is a real challenge

However If you only want to report a minor part of the whole, how about finding out from experts where the future of science integrated world view education is going by reporting non pseudoscience worldviews from both sides.

Report that the DI is a threat to Religious freedom.
Report that science is burdened with fighting creationism in one high-school subject and ask WHY.

Instead of focusing on ID look at other pseudoscience and just focus focus focus on id as political pseudoscience and ask yourself why you like ID,keep that in mind and you will do your job better.

Have a chat to the Franciscan Physicists, Templeton, and all the others who have thrown their hat in the ring and get their views and ask yourself why you don’t agree with them. Come to grips with the ideas, they are different from yours. There is a great good news story there and his “masters voice” can’t get upset.

Talking to you is almost like talking to a Creationist.

Comment #61529

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

I apologize for such a whiney post (sent from the teacher’s lounge-I cooled off on the drive home).

I failed to acknowledge that the statement regarding homework was a slap in the face of any teacher who strives to make every lesson relevant, exciting, structured and effective. Although I’d like to think so sometimes, it’s not about me.

Comment #61530

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 9:41 PM (e)

MB Clarification
That consequence is the natural result of living in a Republic free from the thoughts of one religion Worldview

Comment #61531

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

Balter (and IDers) on the other hand, can NOT reach their goal unless ID, specifically, is addressed and discussed. Which is why Balter and the IDers are, essentially, fighting for the same thing — they both want to use ID to change people’s religious opinions. They simply disagree about the direction of that change.

Back after several hours. This is a serious distortion of my views. I have said repeatedly that my goal is to foster more openness to evolutionary and more generally scientific thinking. It may be possible to be an evolutionist and believe in God, but you cannot be an evolutionist and believe that the world was created in six days; nor can you be an evolutionist and believe that an intelligent designer was required to get over the alleged “irreproducible complexity” between self-replicating macromacromolecules and a living cell. So more effective teaching of evolution inevitably leads to a shift in either the form or content of religious perspectives, and everyone here knows that. That does not make it the goal, but rather a consequence of the shift that most people here want to see.

Don’t BS us, Mr Balter.

Comment #61532

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

I noticed how you changed my statement about the illegality of the “teaching of religion” to your statement about the legality of the “teaching ABOUT religion”

Difference being what, Carol ….

I’m not at all sure what the heck you are bitching about.

Comment #61533

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 9:53 PM (e)

Arden and KL,

You both are agreeing with what I stated and even reinforcing it. The clock cannot be turned back, women surely belong in the work force just as men do, teens learn mostly by doing, and so on. But what is to become of america’s youth? The data is clear. They are in fact unsupervised after school, they watch way too much TV, they do not study nearly enough, they keep busy with all manner of unsavory sctivities, the suicide rate is way up, and so on. I was making the point that it is not a lack of spending/commitment on the part of the american system that is responsible for the sorry state of education, but the above considerations. And I submit most educators will concur in this assessment.

Comment #61534

Posted by BWE on December 4, 2005 9:59 PM (e)

Comment #61469
Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 04:03 PM (e) (s)

The data also reveals that, contrary to what Lenny and others believe, the poor state of education in the US is not due to a lack of commitment and spending on education in our country. We spend more per student and per capita on education than we ever have and rank first among modern industrial countries in the world in such spending. The cause of our education trouble is cultural. Students just do not study. They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows).
So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

Whoa there Hoss.
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/edu_pub_spe_per_stu_sec_lev
We’re 51st. Ask my wife. THem’s fightin’ words. When someone looks at you and seriously says “ What should we do, it doesn’t do any good to just throw money at the problem.” Make it your personal mission to make their life miserable because that is exactly the problem. We break the damn system by underfunding it and then point to the fact that it’s broke as a reason to privatize. Grrrrrrrrr. You, dear lady, better hope to never meet a teacher in a dark alley.

Comment #61535

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 9:59 PM (e)

Lenny, Lenny,

You are getting testy. Go get some sleep. It has been a long day for you with all your posts here.

Comment #61536

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:01 PM (e)

They are in fact unsupervised after school, they watch way too much TV, they do not study nearly enough, they keep busy with all manner of unsavory sctivities, the suicide rate is way up, and so on.

Of course, this is what every generation has said about its kids.

It’s probably what your mom said about YOU. (shrug)

Comment #61537

Posted by Sam on December 4, 2005 10:01 PM (e)

Lenny, I think that you are making a serious mistake when you harp about most Americans never seeing the inside of a college or university. Educated does not equal Intelligence. In fact, my sister (who is a college educated special education teacher for autistic children) makes the same mistake, so apparently it is not uncommon.

A college degree (which I do not have) means that you have been able to memorize enough facts to pass. A genius IQ (which I DO have, as measured by MENSA) has no qualifications on schooling.

I whole-heartedly agree with most of your points, but PLEASE do not make the mistake of thinking no formal college education equals stupid or incapable.

Comment #61538

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

Lenny, I think that you are making a serious mistake when you harp about most Americans never seeing the inside of a college or university. Educated does not equal Intelligence.

I didn’t say that it was. I have no college degree either. And my IQ has been tested at 135, 137 and 142. Take your pick. (shrug)

If we want to teach people, we have to teach them where they are. Hence, teaching them basic science in college doesn’t help very much, since most Americans never see the inside of a college classroom. So if we want to teach science to them, we have to do it somewhere else.

Comment #61539

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 10:13 PM (e)

BWE,

Why cannot some folks here read? Did I not state “first AMONG MODERN INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES…” Now look at who is typically spending more per capita than we are? Niger, Lisoto, Barundi,….

Comment #61540

Posted by k.e. on December 4, 2005 10:13 PM (e)

MB
My wife who is an *enlightened* artist and I continue to have interesting conversations about this and she mentioned 2 things.

1. Goya’s the “Dream of Reason”

Here is what happens when the Enlightenment is snuffed out by Obscurationists

http://www.infinitematrix.net/stories/swanwick/sleep_of_reason_1.html

2 Carlos Castenadas stories about the entering “the cave”-the mind that each person must enter and fight ones demons EXACTLY the same as the Greek method of psyche management as told thru Myth.

“The Matrix” the movie is an analog… a method to help one question… ones own world view.. a self reality check.

And for PURE objectivists just remember Ayn Rand made up all that sh*t because he was in communist denial.

Note Obscuration is the opposite of Enlightenment.

2 very useful ideas and questions to ask yourself when dealing with both sides of the argument

MB you are OBSCURING print the facts NOT what YOU think is GOING to HAPPEN.- Twit.

Comment #61541

Posted by KL on December 4, 2005 10:15 PM (e)

I’d like to see where you get that information. From my perspective, kids today study harder, use drugs and alcohol less, have unprotected sex less often and commit fewer violent acts. Given the understanding we have of depression, sexual orientation and substance abuse, we are better able to help those teens who would be at risk for suicide. They are more supportive of their peers, more inclined to accept diverse attitudes and backgrounds, and more concerned for others. I know that my students may not be a completely fair representation of the average, but I am comparing them with their peers from 15 years ago. Where are your stats coming from?

I disagree that spending is not an issue. Quality teachers do more than just teach; they counsel, cajole, love and look out for their charges. If you ask them to work with substandard wages, poor facilities, no supplies and a top-heavy bureaucracy, they will leave for greener pastures or become disillusioned and indifferent.

Teenagers deserve more credit than you are giving them.

Comment #61542

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 4, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

Why cannot some folks here read? Did I not state “first AMONG MODERN INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES…”

Um, does that include Mississippi?

Comment #61544

Posted by Sam on December 4, 2005 10:29 PM (e)

Lenny (I won’t waste time trying to quote since I am new here, have had quite a few beers while watching football, and I am not familiar with KwickXML),
You have a high IQ as well. Great. Now, to NOT imply “educated equals intelligent”, maybe you should lay off the “pig-ignorant” comments. (and I won’t insult anyone with a “shrug” as though I don’t care, but take the time to reply anyway) And yes, I know ignorant does not mean stupid, per se, but to the average reader, it does.

Comment #61545

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

Lenny, I think that you are making a serious mistake when you harp about most Americans never seeing the inside of a college or university. Educated does not equal Intelligence.

Um, nobody here made that claim.

The issue of how many Americans finish college or high school came up becase – as far as I can tell – Mr. Balter believes that by teaching about ID in those places, the number of anti-science nitwits will significantly increase in an acceptably short period of time.

I think Mr. Balter’s wrong and I think Dr. Verhey’s wrong and I’ve explained why. So has Lenny.

We’ve also explained that the danger for Mr. Balter and Dr. Verhey is that in addition to not achieving their goal, if they are not more careful in their rhetoric about intelligent design they risk becoming pawns for the Discovery Institute (at worst) or merely joining the parade of hucksters who love this controvery simply because it represents an easy way to make a buck.

Dr. Verhey seems keen on the sales of ID-related trash on Amazon. How hard is to pump out a load of crapola about “the controversy” and “how to teach it,” especially if you’ve got a journalist to help you write it in a snappy fashion (and maybe publish a review of that book somewhere), a fancy degree to flash around, and a slick publisher to do the promotion?

This gets back to my earlier point about the NYT Editorial today and I do have to disagree with Gary about the relevance of my earlier comment.

Today’s media is addicted to their tried and true scripts. Whatever the story, whatever the event, the pundits and scribes will do whatever they can to fit the story into one of their failsafe sellable formats.

For the journalists, the fact that the Discovery Institute is just another collection of lying fundamentalist blowhards trying to shove their religion down our throats is a BORING STORY. The average American doesn’t want to read about Howie Ahmansen’s religious quests or why Michael Behe’s is obsessed with the bacterial flagellum.

The average American wants to read about the brilliant scientist, struggling against the “dominant paradigm,” trying desperately to convince his fellow scientists of his Astonishing Life Altering Discovery.

That’s a great story.

That’s why journalists keep telling it.

Now look at the story Mr. Balter seems to be interested in: the struggle of teachers wrestling with how to teach ID without promoting it, the battle between scientists who don’t want to teach it and those who do, the battle between how the DIscovery Institute wants it taught and how scientists want it taught.

Oh, Atlantis!!! So much strife!!! It’s all so exciting.

Meanwhile this really sick think tank is spending a million dollars a year to seed our country’s discourse with 100% horse manure.

And the media, for the most part, just eats it up and says, “That’s interesting.”

The facts and the logical ramifications of those facts end up in editorials. Meanwhile, John West of the DI (a notorious and habitual dissemintor of false info) gets at least one quote a week onto the FRONT PAGE.

Comment #61546

Posted by BlastfromthePast on December 4, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

Dr. Verhey, I notice that in your paper you said that you pointed out to your students that Jonathan Wells had made several fallacious arguments, whereas Dawkins had not.

May I ask you what you think of Dawkins’ argument in Chapter 3 of The Blind Watchmaker?

Comment #61547

Posted by Registered User on December 4, 2005 10:35 PM (e)

OOps – should be “significantly DECREASE” in the above post.

Sorry folks.

Comment #61548

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 4, 2005 10:36 PM (e)

Well, I have not seen anything that inspired me to leave this open any longer.

I’ll drop a final thought or two on Monday, or Tuesday (I plan to go fishing tomorrow).