Steve Reuland posted Entry 2519 on August 15, 2006 10:47 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2514

Lawrence Krauss tells us in an article in today’s New York Times. Step one: Have people who think that the Earth is only 6500 years old running your school board:

The chairman of the school board, Dr. Steve Abrams, a veterinarian, is not merely a strict creationist. He has openly stated that he believes that God created the universe 6,500 years ago, although he was quoted in The New York Times this month as saying that his personal faith “doesn’t have anything to do with science.”

“I can separate them,” he continued, adding, “My personal views of Scripture have no room in the science classroom.”

A key concern should not be whether Dr. Abrams’s religious views have a place in the classroom, but rather how someone whose religious views require a denial of essentially all modern scientific knowledge can be chairman of a state school board.

As they say, read the whole thing.

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

Comment #119759

Posted by Pi Guy on August 15, 2006 11:03 AM (e)

Let alone how someone who denies all that science could ever graduated with a degree in a scientific field and succeed as a vet!

Comment #119764

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 15, 2006 11:23 AM (e)

I’m just waiting for a creationist/IDist lawyer to use John Bacon’s argument. “You found the fingerprints of my client in the victim’s blood? What’s your point? You weren’t there, and neither was I, so what are you whining about?”

Maybe Luskin will do it. No, just kidding, IDists/creos don’t use their “logic” in real life, they just use it to attack “materialistic science” where it offends them. In fact evolutionary theory would not be possible without the reliance upon scientific thinking by most of society, including puritans and fundamentalists. They have only themselves to blame that science is also used in biological matters.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #119769

Posted by tacitus on August 15, 2006 11:31 AM (e)

Well, the “you weren’t there” argument is closely followed by “so what the evidence means is all a matter of interpretation”.

Lawyers use this tactic all the time, trying to convince juries that what seems to be damning evidence is just the other side’s spin.

Comment #119773

Posted by tacitus on August 15, 2006 11:33 AM (e)

Well, the “you weren’t there” argument is closely followed by “so what the evidence means is all a matter of interpretation”.

Lawyers use this tactic all the time, trying to convince juries that what seems to be damning evidence is just the other side’s spin.

Comment #119778

Posted by SteveC on August 15, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

“But when we win minor skirmishes, as we did in Kansas, we must remember that the issue is far deeper than this. We must hold our elected school officials to certain basic standards of knowledge about the world. The battle is not against faith, but against ignorance.”

Why isn’t the battle against ignorance AND faith? What is faith, but willing oneself to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence? And how exactly, is doing *that* ever a good idea, and why should it not be considered a failing rather than as it more commonly seems to be considered, a virtue?

The battle IS against faith, because faith leads directly to ignorance – to IGNORing evidence. Faith is ALL ABOUT ignoring evidence.

Stand up and smash the facade of faith to pieces in the public eye. Faith needs to be painted as the sheer, complete idiocy that it is.

Comment #119783

Posted by steve s on August 15, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

Comment #119764

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 15, 2006 11:23 AM (e) | kill

I’m just waiting for a creationist/IDist lawyer to use John Bacon’s argument. “You found the fingerprints of my client in the victim’s blood? What’s your point? You weren’t there, and neither was I, so what are you whining about?”

Yeah really. Did Johnny Cochran try that?

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the supposed jury…WERE YOU THEERRRRRRE?”

Comment #119784

Posted by steve s on August 15, 2006 11:47 AM (e)

Comment #119778

Posted by SteveC on August 15, 2006 11:37 AM (e) | kill

The battle IS against faith, because faith leads directly to ignorance — to IGNORing evidence. Faith is ALL ABOUT ignoring evidence.

Stand up and smash the facade of faith to pieces in the public eye. Faith needs to be painted as the sheer, complete idiocy that it is.

Yeah, I’m sure the christian guy who runs this site is really gonna go for that.

Comment #119785

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 15, 2006 11:53 AM (e)

Well, the “you weren’t there” argument is closely followed by “so what the evidence means is all a matter of interpretation”.

Lawyers use this tactic all the time, trying to convince juries that what seems to be damning evidence is just the other side’s spin.

At least there is some legitimacy in that tactic, though. But yes, the “anybody’s opinion/claim is as good as anyone else’s” is misused by lawyers, and with more abandon, by IDists.

The bad thing about matters of interpretation is that many lawyers try to capitalize on the gullibility of jury members to pull the wool over their eyes. The good thing about a court setting is that lawyers do have limits, rules of debate, and guidelines, as well as instructions from a (we hope) learned judge.

The “anybody’s opinion/claim is as good as anyone else’s” notion has little to check it in the public sphere.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #119793

Posted by B. Spitzer on August 15, 2006 12:12 PM (e)

From SteveC:

Why isn’t the battle against ignorance AND faith? What is faith, but willing oneself to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence? And how exactly, is doing *that* ever a good idea, and why should it not be considered a failing rather than as it more commonly seems to be considered, a virtue?

The battle IS against faith, because faith leads directly to ignorance — to IGNORing evidence. Faith is ALL ABOUT ignoring evidence.

Stand up and smash the facade of faith to pieces in the public eye. Faith needs to be painted as the sheer, complete idiocy that it is.

This argument has been had here many, many times and I doubt anyone will profit from an encore.

As a person of faith, let me just offer this perspective: “faith” is less about belief in some proposed set of empirical facts, and much more about deciding what is and isn’t meaningful in life. And everyone, when they decide what is or is not meaningful, has a belief that “exceeds that warranted by the available evidence”– because there is no empirical evidence that assigns meaning to the universe.

In short, we all have to go beyond the evidence. The only choice is which “sheer, complete idiocy” we choose to embrace.

Those who feel that their faith (or lack thereof) does not go beyond the empirical evidence should provide explicit support for their position from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. This support should demonstrate exactly how their position depends only on empirical evidence, without any metaphysical assumptions about what does– or does not– lie beyond the reach of empirical science.

Better yet, let’s not have this argument again at all.

Comment #119797

Posted by Raging Bee on August 15, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

“I can separate them,” he continued, adding, “My personal views of Scripture have no room in the science classroom.”

Translation: his belief in a young Earth is a fraud, which he (quietly) kicks aside when reality demands it. For all practical purposes, he appears (at this time at least) to recognize, “de facto,” that his personal belief does not stand up to real science, and is not really “true” in the objective sense in which “F=ma” is true.

Comment #119801

Posted by steve s on August 15, 2006 12:44 PM (e)

Better yet, let’s not have this argument again at all.

An AtBC thread might be best for that.

Comment #119802

Posted by Raging Bee on August 15, 2006 12:44 PM (e)

SteveC wrote:

What is faith, but willing oneself to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence?

There’s a very important distinction to be made here, so read the following sentence carefully: “willing oneself to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence” is not the same thing as “willing oneself to believe something that is actually contradicted by the available evidence.” (Ditto B. Spitzer’s comment.)

Stand up and smash the facade of faith to pieces in the public eye. Faith needs to be painted as the sheer, complete idiocy that it is.

Which faith(s) are you talking about? They’re not all identical, you know.

Comment #119804

Posted by Jack Krebs on August 15, 2006 12:51 PM (e)

Good comments by B. Spitzer, imo.

If you want a place to discuss such issues, the KCFS forums at http://www.kcfs.org/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi are open 24/7 also,

Comment #119814

Posted by Mike on August 15, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

Kansas is doing great! But over at Bill’s Blog they apparently find the teaching of science to kids to be a laughing matter. It’s depressing how science is treated among some people.

http://cedros.globat.com/~thebrites.org/DarwinYouth/index_DS.html

Comment #119818

Posted by Peter Henderson on August 15, 2006 1:15 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #119821

Posted by Peter Henderson on August 15, 2006 1:19 PM (e)

“You weren’t there, and neither was I, so what are you whining about?”

Obviously Mr.Bacon has been reading a lot of Ken Ham , since this is a “Ham classic”

Comment #119827

Posted by heddle on August 15, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

SteveC,

What is faith, but willing oneself to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence?

What an idiotic definition of faith! Where did that come from? What religion defines faith that way? Certainly not Christianity. That is not the faith that is spoken of in the bible, not even close. Perhaps you are talking of Islam or an eastern religion?

Comment #119837

Posted by Flint on August 15, 2006 2:17 PM (e)

For all practical purposes, he appears (at this time at least) to recognize, “de facto,” that his personal belief does not stand up to real science, and is not really “true” in the objective sense in which “F=ma” is true.

As Mark Twain put it so succinctly, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

Comment #119839

Posted by Kim on August 15, 2006 2:23 PM (e)

Yeah right, where they there when God created Earth. Humans were only created at day 7…..

Comment #119847

Posted by steve s on August 15, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

the site is really having issues today.

Comment #119849

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 15, 2006 5:58 PM (e)

A few more, beyond just Mark Twain:

Faith, n:
That quality which enables us to believe what we know to be untrue. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?), “The Devil’s Dictionary”

Faith is an island in the setting sun
But proof, yes proof is the bottom line for everyone.
Paul Simon

Faith: not wanting to know what is true.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

The way to see by Faith is to shut the eyes of Reason.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard 1758

Faith that is not skeptical of any voice claiming to be the voice of God is not faith, but fanaticism…. When society is faced with fanatics, we need more doubting Thomases, not more true believers.
Rev. Robert M. Herhold

I slept with Faith, and found a corpse in my arms on awaking; I drank and danced all night with Doubt, and found her a virgin in the morning.
Aleister Crowley, “The Book Of Lies”

Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.
Dan Barker

Comment #119850

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 15, 2006 6:04 PM (e)

(sigh)

Is it time for another pointless religious war already …. ?

Comment #119859

Posted by plunge on August 15, 2006 6:46 PM (e)

I still don’t understand whether Sal knows how lousy his arguments are, or whether he really believes them.

No, sorry, designing the simulation itself is not sneaking in intelligent design. No sorry, mutating the simulation itself is not the same thing as genetic mutation to the things IN the simulation. How many times can he make variations on these same lousy arguments and pretend he’s explaining something new or insightful?

His problem is that laypeople can grasp these things pretty darn well. The environment exists. It has various features. Populations of reproducing elements exist with heredity. They have wide variations. Put the two together, and the population is going to end up containing information about the environment imprinted onto it by virtue of what gets selected out. Furthermore, the exact particulars of the solutions aren’t going to be controlled or directed by the environment, because it isn’t the environmental features themselves that created them. The picture isn’t that complicated. That information gets added to the population is obvious. You can complain that maybe this information already existed in the environment, but in that case you are just equivocating by defining information to mean something different than what we were looking for in the first place. And under that second definition, he still loses, because the novel forms that emerge aren’t specified in the environment at all, and so are again quite easy to see an increase in the information content (it’s just that no longer are we talking about information about something, as we were before, but now information about how we can go about acheiving a particular something).

What’s left for him to say in the face of that? Nothing. So it’s long diatribes about how there are so many engineers on his side, yadda yadda yadda.

Comment #119863

Posted by Corkscrew on August 15, 2006 6:54 PM (e)

“I can separate them,” he continued, adding, “My personal views of Scripture have no room in the science classroom.”

Obviously this guy should be watched like a hawk, but I’m actually mostly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Hell, at least he’s honest about what he believes…

If we’re going to try to stop anyone with any daft beliefs from having any sort of political control, we’re gonna be here all day.

Comment #119873

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 15, 2006 7:56 PM (e)

steve s

the site is really having issues today

What I’ve been saying…

Heck, even Popper’s Ghost agrees with us, and that automatically makes it so, Mr. Sulu!

Comment #119879

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 15, 2006 8:54 PM (e)

steve s

the site is really having issues today

What I’ve been saying…

Heck, even Popper’s Ghost agrees with us, and that automatically makes it so, Mr. Sulu!

Why doesn’t the site owner move this to a better service?

I mean, where’s all the millions of dollars scientists get (which is larger than the budgets of either DI, ICR, etc) going to?

Comment #119909

Posted by k.e. on August 15, 2006 11:58 PM (e)

Flint said:

.

As Mark Twain put it so succinctly, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

Which is why fundamentalism rejects faith because it is ‘only’ a subjective means of understanding the world and adopts a hyper rationalistic and purely objective ‘fact’ based interpretation of scripture.

They turn faith into rock solid belief in the literally unbelievable, by reading ancient texts as though they were a manual on how to repair a car or make a bomb.

To them faith is a purely relativist outlook, since they distrust their own ability to act honestly because they know, to keep the lie alive, requires them to deny reality.

A calcification of the mind so impermeable to reality that it is hard to distinguish their state from the literally insane.

Institutional madness on a grand scale.

Whole countries can be gripped by this madness and its not the first time.

How do they do this? Well using the tools of modernity , ironically enough, mass media.

Propaganda is an ancient practice, wandering goat herders could preach a simple idea to small gatherings to get ‘the spin out’ that their betters the Kings and Priests of the day, their protectors and parasites ..er I mean stately fund raisers, will guarantee their safety from…..er propagandists of the tribes beyond the hills , a sort of feudal racketeering. Hey don’t laugh…..it works, especially if the competing propagandists make a few martyrs of their enemies….that will guarantee an instant following.

Now add modern technology and fill the media, the physical communications space, with propaganda that drowns out competing messages and you have a recipe for unbridled power.
Don’t believe me? Take a drive with the radio on across the USA. The airwaves are filled with a righteous jeremiad.

You name it, any idea that diminishes their hold on power or goes against the groups interests like making them equal with people worse off, and …or strangely enough, better off than themselves, the meme will win because the meme IS the groups identity.

Their enemies of course can use that weakness to their own advantage, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Unless they are a PR company …you just wait until they shoot themselves…like Goebbels.

The story is older than Methuselah, and the cause of practically every war.

Comment #119945

Posted by Mephisto on August 16, 2006 6:48 AM (e)

heddle wrote:

What an idiotic definition of faith! Where did that come from? What religion defines faith that way? Certainly not Christianity. That is not the faith that is spoken of in the bible, not even close. Perhaps you are talking of Islam or an eastern religion?

Islamic and Christian faith are virtually the same. You believe in the same god, just through different cultural traditions. If someone’s talking about faith as it is relevant to Christianity, they’re also talking about faith as it is relevant to Islam. The doctrinal differences aren’t important.

Comment #119966

Posted by Mats on August 16, 2006 8:02 AM (e)

A key concern should not be whether Dr. Abrams’s religious views have a place in the classroom, but rather how someone whose religious views require a denial of essentially all modern scientific knowledge can be chairman of a state school board.

I guess we should start making religious descrimination to prevent such horrible things to happen.

I can propose a question for the job interview:
- Are you an anti-science, fundamentalist, Bible carrying, backward, irrational, intolerant Darwin denier person? If yes then, well, don’t call us. We’ll call you.

NEXT!

Comment #119969

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 16, 2006 8:04 AM (e)

You guys are all assuming that the best argument can prevail politically. In fact, the most powerful faction will prevail and enforce its opinions on everyone else. Truthiness, not logic, is all that’s required.

Over the past few decades the Right has simultaneously revolutionized the curriculum in non-elite K-12 education to a memorize-and-regurgitate model while sneaking in as much Bible-based material as it can get away with. It’s easy to rouse the rabble to cut science funding along with art and gym, in favor of social-engineering messages such as DARE and abstinence. Meanwhile, the elite, in their publicly assisted schools such as St. Paul’s and Groton, get actual critical-thinking skills and the truth about science. This is a deliberate and clever strategy to make democracy impossible because the broad electorate cannot think, only react.

Meanwhile, in the universities, the lack of opportunity for someone whose family doesn’t have the money to support him or her through the first couple of years of grad school virtually ensures that the lower classes will not have any advanced education in the sciences. Scientists, who have mostly been a reactionary force in the universities (as they perceive the left, with its distrust of extraction industries, genetic manipulation, nuclear war, and many other blessings of contemporary science) as the enemy. Only in the last few years has their support of the GOP and its defense-based patronage come to bite them in the butt. The time to oppose the indoctrination of the masses in superstition-based reaction was 20 years ago, but scientists were too busy trying to starve the liberal arts out of existence to perceive that the closing of the American mind threatened them, too.

Consider the widespread resort to quack remedies, often ridiculed on sites like Quackwatch. Sure, it’s absurd to resort to herbal teas when advanced medicine is available. For nearly 50 million Americans, almost all employed, medicine is not available, and quack remedies are all they’ve got. When I was a kid, such seeming miracles as the conquest of polio, together with the widespread feeling that such benefits accrued to nearly all Americans, led to a widespread fascination with science and approval of its aims. The space program also gave Americans a positive view of science.

Today, for many in the masses, medicine is just another way the elite stay prettier and healthier than those who do the hard work they depend on. Biology is speeding us toward a future where an aristocracy will look like Brad and Jen and live to 150, while the unaugmented lower classes will be obviously marked for drudgery by their defective vision, skin problems, all the ails that are normal for humanity now but will be edited out of the genome of the Homo superior. Biology is also heading us toward a future in which the natural species we are used to will disappear in favor of very expensive super-wheat, meat in a petri dish, and a planet doused with insecticides, and the victims of this mad science are utterly powerless to resist. Physicists calmly plot how to make nukes useful again.

In short, for the common person, science means oppression and a horrible (possibly null) future, carried out by an elite of persons with whom they have no contact and who have engineered things so that nobody they know will be admitted to the ivory temple.

For those who are so contemptuous of faith: If the result of science and technology is the extinction of humanity as we know it in a mushroom cloud, might it not be better for people at large if Einstein and Bohr and Oppenheimer had never existed? Isn’t it possible they’d be happier under a regime of religious superstition than the brutal “truth” of science, that apparently, inevitably leads to either an unimaginable holocaust or the end of the human species thanks to genetic manipulation that will turn the lucky into supermen?

It’s easy to blame the rubes for their ignorance. It’s not so easy for scientists to own up to the degree they have allied with those who would foster such ignorance in the name of preserving their war dollars and making sure the lower classes don’t threaten their relatively cushy jobs.

Comment #119971

Posted by heddle on August 16, 2006 8:17 AM (e)

Mephisto,

The doctrinal differences [between Christianity and Islam] aren’t important.

Are you on ‘ludes? One believes that Jesus is God, and that he died on the cross and was resurrected. The other that believes he was merely a good teacher who wasn’t really crucified. Ergo, they do not profess the same God. One believes that Mohammed was a true prophet, the other believes that he was a charlatan. The differences are rather substantive.

Comment #119972

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 16, 2006 8:25 AM (e)

Heddle, if you have time to waste on such trivial matters, why don’t you spend some time to answer the many questions that you haven’t in the other threads?

The internet knows and remembers all. And the internet remembers that you avoid re-evaluating your empirically disproven comments.

Comment #119977

Posted by Logicman on August 16, 2006 8:52 AM (e)

Heddle,

What is your definition of faith, then? If you have any evidence whatsoever to accept the truth of something then doesn’t that negate the need for imploring faith?

Comment #119986

Posted by k.e. on August 16, 2006 9:32 AM (e)

Lindsey Eck says:

It’s easy to blame the rubes for their ignorance. It’s not so easy for scientists to own up to the degree they have allied with those who would foster such ignorance in the name of preserving their war dollars and making sure the lower classes don’t threaten their relatively cushy jobs.

Yeah life’s a bitch, it’s too full of choices, ignorance is not just an option, for some it’s bliss.

Well that’s nice to know Heddle ……who apparently …believes that Jesus is God, and that he died on the cross and was resurrected …by…let me guess….. the god of Abraham? Known colloquially in various parts of the Levant as Yahweh or Allah.

Geez Heddle can’t you get ANYTHING right?

And nice one on promoting religious tolerance there to, what’s it like to be deeply shallow? I’m sure there are plenty of Moslem’s who would find your charge……. shall we say …less than amusing.

Comment #119987

Posted by Robert O'Brien on August 16, 2006 9:32 AM (e)

SteveC wrote:

Why isn’t the battle against ignorance AND faith? What is faith, but willing oneself to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence? And how exactly, is doing *that* ever a good idea, and why should it not be considered a failing rather than as it more commonly seems to be considered, a virtue?

The battle IS against faith, because faith leads directly to ignorance — to IGNORing evidence. Faith is ALL ABOUT ignoring evidence.

Stand up and smash the facade of faith to pieces in the public eye. Faith needs to be painted as the sheer, complete idiocy that it is.

This dude is drinking from the same fetid well as Peezee, I see.

Comment #119989

Posted by David Heddle on August 16, 2006 10:01 AM (e)

LogicalMan,

First and foremost, biblical faith is not “blind faith.” Nor is it a synonym for belief. It is much closer in meaning to the word “trust.” That is, to live by faith does not just mean “to believe in Jesus as your personallordandsaviour” and it does not mean merely to obey his commands. It means to believe that those commands are good.

That biblical faith is not the “blind faith”, that SteveC described, is demonstrable. God has not cursed the faithlessness of those who demanded irrefutable physical evidence. If you are interested, you can read this. It even has an ID connection.

k.e: This is very simple, I think you can grasp it if you try really hard:

Christianity: Jesus is God.
Islam: Jesus is not God.

If I saw Jesus, I would say: “there stands God.”
If a Moslem saw Jesus, he would say: “there stands a man, not a god.”

See? Not the same god at all!

Are you offended that I claimed Mohammed was a false prophet (that is, a charlatan)? I doubt any thinking Moslem would be offended—they would just think I was wrong. Just like I am not offended that a Moslem does not think Jesus is God.

Which of these describes your view:

1) Mohammed was a true prophet, therefore I am a Moslem. (Sensible)
2) Mohammed was a false prophet, therefore I am not a Moslem. (Sensible)
3) Mohammed was a true prophet, but I am not a Moslem. (Dumb)
4) Mohammed was a false prophet, but still I am a Moslem. (Dumber)

It seems you must choose between intolerance (as you define it) or stupidity.

Comment #119991

Posted by k.e. on August 16, 2006 10:11 AM (e)

Heddle you are thicker than a 2 x 4

Who was JC’s god?

Comment #119992

Posted by k.e. on August 16, 2006 10:16 AM (e)

Heddle you are thicker than a 2 x 4

Who was JC’s god?

Comment #119994

Posted by J-Dog on August 16, 2006 10:35 AM (e)

Heddle - Give it a rest. I swear - You are the smarmiest poster on this site, and IMO your rudeness puts you in line for another good disemvowelling.

You could try to rememember that the other posters are people too, and show them some courtesy or what some call a “Christian” respect. Oh. I see. A Christian respect like in the Inquisition, or the sack of Jerusalem?

However, as the Rev Dr. Lenny would say, Who cares what you think about religion? Why should any of us believe the way you do? Your beliefs are no better than anyone elses.

Go talk to Carol or something.

Comment #120002

Posted by Robert O'Brien on August 16, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

J-Dog wrote:

Heddle - Give it a rest. I swear - You are the smarmiest poster on this site, and IMO your rudeness puts you in line for another good disemvowelling.

I disagree.

Comment #120010

Posted by Mephisto on August 16, 2006 12:07 PM (e)

heddle wrote:

Are you on ‘ludes? One believes that Jesus is God, and that he died on the cross and was resurrected. The other that believes he was merely a good teacher who wasn’t really crucified. Ergo, they do not profess the same God. One believes that Mohammed was a true prophet, the other believes that he was a charlatan. The differences are rather substantive.

No, they’re not substantive in the sense we’re talking about. One believes Jesus was god, the other believes Jesus was just a prophet. One believes in a later prophet called Mohammed, one doesn’t have anything to say on Mohammed as the religion predated him - just like the Torah doesn’t have anything to say on Jesus.

You’re deliberately obfuscating the issue. You know that Christianity and Islam are both descended from the ancient Semitic traditions. Both are Abrahamic religions. You share the same god, simply a different interpretation of his nature (whether that be singular and monotheistic, like Judaism and Islam, or trinitarian and monotheistic like Christianity). You don’t share different gods in the sense that Christianity and Hinduism share different gods.

Of course, you’re a fundie so it’s no surprise that you don’t like Christianity being thrown together with Islam. At least you don’t take the Pat Robertson Allah-is-a-moon-god view. ;)

Comment #120011

Posted by J. Biggs on August 16, 2006 12:08 PM (e)

Lindsey Eck writes:

Meanwhile, in the universities, the lack of opportunity for someone whose family doesn’t have the money to support him or her through the first couple of years of grad school virtually ensures that the lower classes will not have any advanced education in the sciences. Scientists, who have mostly been a reactionary force in the universities (as they perceive the left, with its distrust of extraction industries, genetic manipulation, nuclear war, and many other blessings of contemporary science) as the enemy. Only in the last few years has their support of the GOP and its defense-based patronage come to bite them in the butt. The time to oppose the indoctrination of the masses in superstition-based reaction was 20 years ago, but scientists were too busy trying to starve the liberal arts out of existence to perceive that the closing of the American mind threatened them, too.

Do you care to support this with any examples; and while you’re at it you can correct the second sentence as it is incomplete. I don’t think the science minded generally support class warfare. I for one love the liberal arts and have no idea what you are talking about. I also think if you conducted a poll at universities, many of the scientists would support political parties other than the GOP.

Today, for many in the masses, medicine is just another way the elite stay prettier and healthier than those who do the hard work they depend on. Biology is speeding us toward a future where an aristocracy will look like Brad and Jen and live to 150, while the unaugmented lower classes will be obviously marked for drudgery by their defective vision, skin problems, all the ails that are normal for humanity now but will be edited out of the genome of the Homo superior. Biology is also heading us toward a future in which the natural species we are used to will disappear in favor of very expensive super-wheat, meat in a petri dish, and a planet doused with insecticides, and the victims of this mad science are utterly powerless to resist. Physicists calmly plot how to make nukes useful again.

In short, for the common person, science means oppression and a horrible (possibly null) future, carried out by an elite of persons with whom they have no contact and who have engineered things so that nobody they know will be admitted to the ivory temple.

This sounds really paranoid and weird to me, and again seems to imply some kind of class warfare instigated by the science elite. Again do you care to back it up with some real world examples? And by the way, nuclear energy is extremely useful and quite a bit cleaner than fossil fuels; just ask the French, Germans, etc…

For those who are so contemptuous of faith: If the result of science and technology is the extinction of humanity as we know it in a mushroom cloud, might it not be better for people at large if Einstein and Bohr and Oppenheimer had never existed? Isn’t it possible they’d be happier under a regime of religious superstition than the brutal “truth” of science, that apparently, inevitably leads to either an unimaginable holocaust or the end of the human species thanks to genetic manipulation that will turn the lucky into supermen?

It’s easy to blame the rubes for their ignorance. It’s not so easy for scientists to own up to the degree they have allied with those who would foster such ignorance in the name of preserving their war dollars and making sure the lower classes don’t threaten their relatively cushy jobs.

Of course, this site is dedicated to fighting the teaching of ignorance. Science minded folk are not trying to oppress anyone to make sure they keep their “cushy jobs”. If you want to see real oppression, go to Sub-Saharan Africa, and test your theory. I don’t think the oppressors are wearing lab coats nor have the elite pro-science agenda you are talking about.

Comment #120015

Posted by Raging Bee on August 16, 2006 12:26 PM (e)

No, [the differences are] not substantive in the sense we’re talking about.

And what sense was that again?

Comment #120016

Posted by Wheels on August 16, 2006 12:26 PM (e)

Mats wrote:

I guess we should start making religious descrimination to prevent such horrible things to happen.

I can propose a question for the job interview:
- Are you an anti-science, fundamentalist, Bible carrying, backward, irrational, intolerant Darwin denier person? If yes then, well, don’t call us. We’ll call you.

NEXT!

I’d rather we just limited it to the normal concerns of pedagogy, experience with and support for public education, and job qualifications. I feel like those should be the issues that get people elected to serve on school boards. Then again I’d also prefer candidates for political offices to campaign on a platform of relevant issues pertaining to the problems of serving the public in a governing role, not who is more conservative or liberal than the other. I guess I’m just crazy like that.

Comment #120025

Posted by J-Dog on August 16, 2006 12:53 PM (e)

Robert O’Brien - I think that the “Who Is Smarmier Than Heddle” discussion should be moved to ATBC…

Comment #120026

Posted by Mephisto on August 16, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

And what sense was that again?

Were you incapable of reading up a few posts to find out? It stemmed from this comment:

What an idiotic definition of faith! Where did that come from? What religion defines faith that way? Certainly not Christianity. That is not the faith that is spoken of in the bible, not even close. Perhaps you are talking of Islam or an eastern religion?

We were talking about the nature of faith, which is not substantively different between Islam and Christianity. Both have a monotheistic god who must be worshipped in prayer and who has a similar relationship to the world. As opposed to say, Buddhism, which is more of a philosophy on the nature of existence and is a different sort of faith.

Comment #120027

Posted by Mephisto on August 16, 2006 12:56 PM (e)

Lindsay Eck wrote:

Scientists, who have mostly been a reactionary force in the universities (as they perceive the left, with its distrust of …. nuclear war, and many other blessings of contemporary science) as the enemy.

Nuclear war is a “blessing”?

Comment #120030

Posted by Googler on August 16, 2006 1:57 PM (e)

We don’t require religious tests for public officials. I believe that is written down in some obscure document known as the “US Constitution”, or something like that. If anyone is interested, I’m sure a web search would find it.

Religion per se neither qualifies nor disqualifies a person from holding office.

So to talk about a person’s religion - or how they would define “faith”, or whatever - in respect to his qualifications for public office is more than inappropriate, it is actually dangerous.

The point of Krause’s article is not about religion vs. non-religion, but scientific literacy, and, more generally, how much ignorance we in the US are going to allow in our government officials.

Comment #120037

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on August 16, 2006 2:51 PM (e)

Mephisto wrote:

Nuclear war is a “blessing”?

I was told point blank that “liberals” dislike nuclear weapons because they are “godless”. People who accept God have faith that apocalypse is a good thing. When the nuclear war starts, True Christians™ will be protected from fallout and messy nuclear death, while their enemies will be smited but good. Then the lamb lays down with the lion and all that. Truly, nuclear war is a blessing!

Why Bush hasn’t lauched already I don’t suppose they can imagine. He must lack faith.

As they say, if you’re not scared, your not paying attention.

Comment #120039

Posted by Al Moritz on August 16, 2006 3:16 PM (e)

Mephisto wrote:

You’re deliberately obfuscating the issue. You know that Christianity and Islam are both descended from the ancient Semitic traditions. Both are Abrahamic religions. You share the same god, simply a different interpretation of his nature (whether that be singular and monotheistic, like Judaism and Islam, or trinitarian and monotheistic like Christianity). You don’t share different gods in the sense that Christianity and Hinduism share different gods.

Of course, you’re a fundie so it’s no surprise that you don’t like Christianity being thrown together with Islam. At least you don’t take the Pat Robertson Allah-is-a-moon-god view. ;)

Correct. Pope John Paul II once said to a cheering crowd upon visiting a muslim country, “we believe in the same God”.

And the Pope believes in the divinity of Jesus as well. But to a fundie this may be meaningless; after all, the Pope is the Antichrist – or something like that, if I correctly recall :-)

Comment #120044

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 16, 2006 3:21 PM (e)

Religion per se neither qualifies nor disqualifies a person from holding office.

What if someone passionately believes that a particular job function is immoral, and gets themselves elected into that position for the sole purpose of undermining the function of that position? Is there a difference in their qualification status if this passionate belief is or is not religiously based?

Comment #120046

Posted by Raging Bee on August 16, 2006 3:25 PM (e)

We were talking about the nature of faith, which is not substantively different between Islam and Christianity.

“Faith” is a personal attribute, and can vary “substantively” from person to person within a single congregation. One person’s faith can also change over time. Do you really think that Pat Robertson’s faith is identical in “nature” to that of Pope JP-II or an illiterate Catholic peasant in, say, Bolivia?

Yes, Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God of Abraham – at least in theory – but that in itself does not mean that persons of all three faiths see or relate to their God the same way. (If they did, then why have there been so many bloody wars between, and even within, these faiths?)

Comment #120060

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 16, 2006 6:02 PM (e)

I guess we should start making religious descrimination to prevent such horrible things to happen.

Not necessary. All we need are laws prohibiting government from supporting any religious view. Like, ya know, the First Amendment.

Oh, wait, it’s the FUNDIES who want to dismantle that, isn’t it …… .

Comment #120061

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 16, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

Hey Heddle, I have a simple question for you …. .

If Jesus is God, then when Jesus said on the Cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”, uh, who the hell was he talking to? Himself?

On second thought, Heddle, never mind. Nobody cares about your religious opinions anyway. After all, they are no more authoritative than anyone else’s. (shrug)

Comment #120062

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 16, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

Heddle - Give it a rest. I swear - You are the smarmiest poster on this site, and IMO your rudeness puts you in line for another good disemvowelling.

I disagree.

Anyone else notice that when asked to present some SCIENCE, the IDers all fall silent, but by golly they’re ALL willing to tell you all about their religious opinions, ad nauseum ….

But ID/creationism isn’t about religion. No sirree Bob. It’s just them lying atheist darwinists who say it is.

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #120108

Posted by k.e. on August 16, 2006 10:07 PM (e)

Mr. Dr. Rev. L. Flank esq. said

[Heddle] If Jesus is God, then when Jesus said on the Cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”, uh, who the hell was he talking to? Himself?

In Heddles case? ….yes…..everytime he opens his mouth he crucifies himself.

Comment #120109

Posted by normdoering on August 16, 2006 10:12 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Yes, Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God of Abraham — at least in theory — but that in itself does not mean that persons of all three faiths see or relate to their God the same way.

Yes, true. However not all schizophrenics have the same delusions, some think the CIA is controlling their minds and others think the NSA is. (though these days, because recent evidence, many schizophrenics have lost faith in the abilities of the CIA and NSA to control minds – religious people should be so open to evidence!)

Christian schizophrenics think they can hear the voice of God or Jesus. Iranian Muslim schizophrenics become president of Iran.

They do not all relate to their delusions in the same way. This does not mean they aren’t all schizophrenics. In fact, if they could all relate to the same delusion in the same way, the delusion would be indistinguishable from reality.

(If they did, then why have there been so many bloody wars between, and even within, these faiths?)

Maybe they’re just crazy?

Comment #120149

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 17, 2006 6:20 AM (e)

Here’s my main point: In our time, science is less and less conducted in the public interest.

1980s: Public health workers eradicate smallpox. 2000s: Military biologists concoct ever-deadler smallpox.

1950s: FDA, unlike corrupt European equivalents, keeps thalidomide off market. 2000s: FDA so corrupt we look to the British equivalent to see if drugs are safe; Vioxx approval causes 40,000 heart attacks, privatized research company ImClone lies about cancer results to boost stock price.

Faith-based education denies evolution; faith-based FDA denies women contraception.

Today there are few obvious benefits to society from the scientific enterprise, which is largely Defense-funded and whose products range from hastening human extinction via nuclear and biological weapons, to drugs for such imaginary diseases as “restless leg syndrome” which preserve patents by tweaking a molecule (but little progress against cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.), to surveillance devices such as RFID that allow for more oppression and control of the citizens by the government and giant corporations.

As Wilson admitted in Consilience, pursuit of science is itself a sort of faith, the faith that the knowledge found will prove beneficial. Since people in America are horribly scientifically illiterate (to add to their generally poor level of education), belief in scientists and their enterprise, especially when it seems to challenge belief in God, requires faith that the good works of science will benefit humanity. I submit there is little reason to hold such faith.

I used to tutor writing at the MIT Writing Center. At the time, MIT was said to be 80% funded by the Department of Defense. I graded a set of writing exemption exams, where the question posed had to do with whether, as a scientist or engineer, one would refuse to do research that one considered unethical. I was grading the writing, not the ethics. If I were grading the essays according to a scale of moral maturity, nearly everyone would have gotten an F.

In fact, I never met a student at MIT, grad or undergrad, who was concerned with the social implications of how he or she would make a living. The universal attitude was, “I’m not supposed to make policy. I’m a scientist/engineer/architect. The people who hire me make those decisions; I just do what I’m paid to do.”

A few years ago, the South African apartheid government was trying to work on a biological agent (I think) that would selectively kill blacks. They didn’t succeed, but such a thing is said to be plausible. Suppose the CIA offered a contract to American scientists to develop such an agent that would kill Arabs. How many do you think would refuse?

Given a hypothetical choice between shutting down all research today and continuing the way we’re going, the majority (including me) would probably choose to shut it all down. The handful of additional deaths due to cancers we don’t cure would be more than offset by the thousands who won’t die thanks to our smart bombs and biological agents and napalm. That was the point of my sarcasm about the “blessings” of science.

As for the education issue, back when I was in academia (around 1990) the right set forth in print its plan to revolutionize American education. One seminal document was a collection of essays by Hirsh, putatively about cultural literacy. At the time I was teaching ESL to Asians who had approximately zero acquaintance with Western culture, and I was attracted to the idea of cultural literacy. What Hirsh, D’Souza, Bill Bennett, and others who have since become paragons of rightist thinking laid out as a paradigm was rather frightening: a memorize-and-regurgitate model based on the Great Books of dead white males. Many of us in the humanities tried to oppose such a program, but we got little support from the scientists, who generally held our fuzzy disciplines in contempt and were perfectly happy to see critical thinking on politics, economics, and social issues suppressed. A population of obedient little Do-Bes served the interests of science such as keeping the military-industrial complex well fed and voting for cool but useless boondoggles such as the International Space Station and the Superconducting Supercollider (sorry about that one, guys, but here in Texas we decided we needed our schools to have libraries more than we needed a big dig for physics geeks).

Now the non-elite schools have been successfully dumbed down and, guess what! The unthinking little yes people can’t think critically about anything, including science!

If you want to win them back, you’ll have to do a lot more of what’s being done on this board. Furthermore, you’ll have to start asking hard questions such as, “Does my work serve the good of humankind, or just my own morbid curiosity?”

Comment #120172

Posted by fnxtr on August 17, 2006 8:17 AM (e)

If people didn’t have religion they’d find some other excuse to kill each other.

Comment #120176

Posted by Dizzy on August 17, 2006 8:32 AM (e)

Lindsay Eck wrote:

If you want to win them back, you’ll have to do a lot more of what’s being done on this board. Furthermore, you’ll have to start asking hard questions such as, “Does my work serve the good of humankind, or just my own morbid curiosity?”

The problem is, researchers simply can’t predict if their work will, say, cure heart disease or increase male sexual potency. That’s one of the main justifications for academic freedom and tenure.

Comment #120179

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on August 17, 2006 8:38 AM (e)

Lindsey Eck wrote:

Here’s my main point: In our time, science is less and less conducted in the public interest.

Science isn’t performed in anyone’s interest. It’s an expansion of knowledge. Knowledge is power and power is always dangerous. It’s not science that’s the problem, it’s people willing to use the power it grants poorly.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

1980s: Public health workers eradicate smallpox. 2000s: Military biologists concoct ever-deadler smallpox.

Neither of those things is really science. They’re both engineering, using knowledge gained by science to different ends.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

1950s: FDA, unlike corrupt European equivalents, keeps thalidomide off market. 2000s: FDA so corrupt we look to the British equivalent to see if drugs are safe; Vioxx approval causes 40,000 heart attacks, privatized research company ImClone lies about cancer results to boost stock price.

The FDA can’t win. Everytime they delay a drug for more research, patients claim that the FDA is ridiculously thorough (just as they did in the thalidomide days) and should get the drugs out more quickly. Then a Vioxx happens and people blame the FDA for doing what they were forced to do by idiots complaining!

The FDA has been slowly weakened for years by both Republican anti-regulationists and largely Democrat new age and “alternative” medicine supporters. The whole system has largely flipped around from sanity.

Vioxx passes initial tests and is approved for use, then long term tests start to come back with increased risk. Merck pulls the drug, despite the fact that it’s still safe for short term use and could be of great benefit. They’re too afraid of more lawsuits to keep a drug that, used properly, is safe and effective. But nevermind that these drugs could save lives, they can also cause lawsuits! (Thalidomide as well can be used very safely. In fact, Thalidomide itself doesn’t cause birth defects; it was the stereoisomer of thalidomide that ends up in the same pills if you make them cheaply that caused the problems. Nevertheless, just try to get thalidomide today.)

Meanwhile, thinks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the FDA can’t even regulate ephedra (they tried, but failed), despite a much higher rate of complications and deaths.

Merck pulled the drug when dangers appeared. “Alternative” practitioners continue killing people with the FDA powerless to stop them. As far as I can tell, we’ve successfully managed to create a system that punishes the innocent and lets the guilty run rampant.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

Faith-based education denies evolution; faith-based FDA denies women contraception.

Bush appointees: You’ve gotta love ‘em… or else he’ll cut your funding.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

Today there are few obvious benefits to society from the scientific enterprise,…

That depends on your definition of the word “obvious”. Even drugs like Vioxx are obvious examples of benefit, mishandled. Technology marches on. Nothing has done more to make my ADD “cured” than my PDA, which has been an absolute wonder for keeping me focused on tasks. Computers and the Internet have saved thousands of lives by making medical information easily available broadly, greatly reducing accidental deaths of people allergic to standard medications. Every few months brings news of progress towards electronic eyes capable of restoring sight to the blind or new prosthetic limbs.

Benefits are obvious, but bad news plays better to the media. This strongly biases the appearance of progress. Consider AIDS. There is not a single virus in history that we have ever managed to cure in an infected patient. Not one. But we have a treatment regiment for AIDS that has caused the rate of death associated with the disease to plunge in the US. The median survival time once infected with HIV was about ten years before treatement. Now it’s so long we can’t really calculate it because not enough people have died! The rate of new infections has also gone down dramatically. Two examples of really good news! How does the media play this news? “AIDS infected population continues to increase!” Well, yes. If people aren’t dying of it, then all we’re getting is new cases and that population grows. But they find a way to spin a generally positive outlook into a problem, all the while ranting that “we don’t have a cure yet despite blah blah years and blah blah money!” As if a cure was even being offered. Again, we have NEVER cured a virus and aren’t likely too in the immediate future. We have a stunningly successful treatement, which should be receiving plaudits and public wonder, but is just treated as if it were a desperate stop-gap measure.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

…(but little progress against cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.),

You may have missed it, but a vaccine against the majority of the causes of cervical cancer. If this becomes widespread enough, it could signal the first eradicated cancer in history. Cancer cure rates have never been higher, though again the media plays this for bad news.

Part of the problem with “cancer” is that it isn’t a disease. It’s a class of diseases with multiple causes, modes of attack, etc. Trying to treat it as a single disease is a mistake.

Meanwhile, we just had a huge announcement on the Alzheimer’s front: They’ve tracked down the proteins that aren’t working in Alzheimer’s patients. For the first time, we now have something we can actively work on duplicating that should ease the condition.

No progress? Or just not enough attention to progress?

Lindsey Eck wrote:

As Wilson admitted in Consilience, pursuit of science is itself a sort of faith, the faith that the knowledge found will prove beneficial. Since people in America are horribly scientifically illiterate (to add to their generally poor level of education), belief in scientists and their enterprise, especially when it seems to challenge belief in God, requires faith that the good works of science will benefit humanity. I submit there is little reason to hold such faith.

I submit that you’re on the wrong track entirely. Science doesn’t require any such faith. Quite the opposite. Successful practice of the scientific enterprise should AVOID any such rosy thinking.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

In fact, I never met a student at MIT, grad or undergrad, who was concerned with the social implications of how he or she would make a living. The universal attitude was, “I’m not supposed to make policy. I’m a scientist/engineer/architect. The people who hire me make those decisions; I just do what I’m paid to do.”

Which has what to do with science? That the people of the US are largely unconcerned with philosophical matters is no big surprise, and it is certainly a problem, but it’s not a problem with science itself. This is like blaming cars because some people are drunk drivers.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

Given a hypothetical choice between shutting down all research today and continuing the way we’re going, the majority (including me) would probably choose to shut it all down.

How about some realistic options? I mean, I can offer a hypothetical choice between outlawing air plane travel or having everyone in the US killed by terrorists, but nobody would mistake that for a realistic set of choices.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

The handful of additional deaths due to cancers we don’t cure would be more than offset by the thousands who won’t die thanks to our smart bombs and biological agents and napalm. That was the point of my sarcasm about the “blessings” of science.

Actually, cancer rates would go down because we’d all die more quickly. The major reason cancer rates are higher these days is because we are living longer. Cancer is largely a statistical disease. If you live long enough, eventually some cell in your body is going to mutate into a cancer. If you survive that cancer, another will appear. As you age, your teleomers shorten and guarantee this result.

We’re living longer because of science and technology. When the life expectency was 40, cancer was rare. Get rid of science and technology and we’ll go back to the bad old days. Everyone dies young, nobody gets cancer.

By any objective measure, we are living longer, healthier lives. Of course, you seem to feel this isn’t an obvious benefit.

Lindsey Eck wrote:

{snip a long bit}Now the non-elite schools have been successfully dumbed down and, guess what! The unthinking little yes people can’t think critically about anything, including science!

Strangely, you seem to think this is the result of recent forces. In fact, Americans have been unable to think for themselves for over 200 years. Lack of critical thinking is nothing new. Step back through the decades and you see a straight line of popular nonsense all the way back. Whether it’s new age medicine today, pyramid power in the seventies, orgone energy in the 40’s or snake oil in the 1800’s, nothing has changed. The public isn’t getting stupider, they just aren’t getting smarter.

Comment #120187

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 17, 2006 8:46 AM (e)

If people didn’t have religion they’d find some other excuse to kill each other.

“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” -Voltaire

In other words, if people didn’t have religion, they’d invent it for the purposes of killing each other. And given historical records, religion indeed has been invented for the purposes of killing people.

Comment #120192

Posted by J-Dog on August 17, 2006 8:52 AM (e)

Michael Sutkus II - Thanks for taking the time to post. You make a whole lot of sense, and I appreciate it.

Comment #120206

Posted by Raging Bee on August 17, 2006 10:17 AM (e)

Christian schizophrenics think they can hear the voice of God or Jesus. Iranian Muslim schizophrenics become president of Iran.

Of all the uninformed, bigoted, religion-bashing statements I’ve read on this blog, this one has got to be the least coherent. In a hurry, norm, or just too tired?

And how many “Iranian Muslim schizophrenics” become president of Iran? That’s an odd plural-to-singular segue. Or does the president of Iran have multiple personalities, each of them schizophrenic?

Comment #120208

Posted by k.e. on August 17, 2006 10:39 AM (e)

I agree with with you Raging B.

Except the bit about the Iranian President.

Comment #120209

Posted by Raging Bee on August 17, 2006 10:41 AM (e)

Lindsey Eck wrote:

Here’s my main point: In our time, science is less and less conducted in the public interest.

Oh well, at least you’ve admitted that your “main point” had nothing to do with proving creationism, disproving evolution, or “teaching” the “controversy.” Intended or not, that’s a rare bit of honesty from the ID camp.

Comment #120220

Posted by normdoering on August 17, 2006 11:43 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

And how many “Iranian Muslim schizophrenics” become president of Iran? That’s an odd plural-to-singular segue.

Because it’s a joke, duffus!
It’s just a way of saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems crazy. His crazy beliefs about the invisible Iman are socially acceptable even though they sound delusional.

And the stuff about schziophrenics no longer having faith in the CIA’s mind control abilities was also a joke.

Comment #120293

Posted by J. Biggs on August 17, 2006 6:38 PM (e)

JDog writes:

Michael Sutkus II - Thanks for taking the time to post. You make a whole lot of sense, and I appreciate it.

I totally agree, and what he said is much more nicely and much less sarcastically put than what I have to say, but I still have to get in my two cents.

Lindsey writes:

Here’s my main point: In our time, science is less and less conducted in the public interest.

1980s: Public health workers eradicate smallpox. 2000s: Military biologists concoct ever-deadlier smallpox.

I guess it would be better that the less deadly form of small pox were still around (that modern medicine eradicated through vaccination) than that a more deadly form of the virus that has engineered and so far never used. That way the unvaccinated population would still be dying regularly from the previous, less deadly form of the virus.

1950s: FDA, unlike corrupt European equivalents, keeps thalidomide off market. 2000s: FDA so corrupt we look to the British equivalent to see if drugs are safe; Vioxx approval causes 40,000 heart attacks, privatized research company ImClone lies about cancer results to boost stock price.

Faith-based education denies evolution; faith-based FDA denies women contraception.

How can you not see the contradiction here. First the FDA is not like corrupt European equivalents, and then so corrupt. And get your facts straight, the research that the FDA themselves did only indicated 27,000 potential cases where individuals on Vioxx had heart attacks or sudden cardiac death. You can reference the number I used at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6192603/. And in Oklahoma where I live any woman of child bearing age can go to the County Health Dept. and get free contraception including birth control pills. And how many women have had adverse affects as a result of taking contraceptives. Here is another article that discusses deaths caused by ortho-evra - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8565177/. I, however, believe birth control is still a good thing.

Today there are few obvious benefits to society from the scientific enterprise, which is largely Defense-funded and whose products range from hastening human extinction via nuclear and biological weapons, to drugs for such imaginary diseases as “restless leg syndrome” which preserve patents by tweaking a molecule (but little progress against cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.), to surveillance devices such as RFID that allow for more oppression and control of the citizens by the government and giant corporations.

Here are a few useless things that scientific enterprise has accomplished:
1. Indoor plumbing and sewer systems. (Scientists discovered it is not healthy to live in or near your own fecal matter as it spreads disease.)
2. Water treatment facilities. (Epidemiologists discovered by treating drinking water before it reaches the population that diphtheria, lysteria, e. coli, and numerous other pathogens and parasites can’t infect us.)
3. Vaccinations. (Epidemiologists and Immunologists discovered that if you expose the immune system to certain weakened or dead pathogens that they are far less likely to cause morbidity/mortality.)
4. Electricity. (look at all the amazing things you can do with it including but not limited to writing utter nonsense on your computer.)
5. Antibiotics and Antiviral medication. (A cure for the afflicted)

The list goes on and on, but I suppose it would be better we didn’t know these things so we could go back to the days where the average life expectancy was thirty.

As Wilson admitted in Consilience, pursuit of science is itself a sort of faith, the faith that the knowledge found will prove beneficial. Since people in America are horribly scientifically illiterate (to add to their generally poor level of education), belief in scientists and their enterprise, especially when it seems to challenge belief in God, requires faith that the good works of science will benefit humanity. I submit there is little reason to hold such faith.

As stated by Michael earlier science does not require any faith whatsoever. And as most religious people on this board would tell you, science does not challenge their faith, only the Fundies buy that load of crap.

I used to tutor writing at the MIT Writing Center. At the time, MIT was said to be 80% funded by the Department of Defense. I graded a set of writing exemption exams, where the question posed had to do with whether, as a scientist or engineer, one would refuse to do research that one considered unethical. I was grading the writing, not the ethics. If I were grading the essays according to a scale of moral maturity, nearly everyone would have gotten an F.

In fact, I never met a student at MIT, grad or undergrad, who was concerned with the social implications of how he or she would make a living. The universal attitude was, “I’m not supposed to make policy. I’m a scientist/engineer/architect. The people who hire me make those decisions; I just do what I’m paid to do.”

Poor you. I’m terribly sorry you had to deal with a bunch of smart snot-nosed kids out of High School. Every one knows that 18-22 year olds are ultra-mature and have developed an overwhelmingly stout sense of what is ethical. Their moral make-up surely demonstrates the moral character of everyone else involved in science and engineering.

A few years ago, the South African apartheid government was trying to work on a biological agent (I think) that would selectively kill blacks. They didn’t succeed, but such a thing is said to be plausible. Suppose the CIA offered a contract to American scientists to develop such an agent that would kill Arabs. How many do you think would refuse?

I would like to see a reference to the agent you say apartheid was working on because I think it is BS. And I most certainly don’t think that the US would make let alone use an agent that selectively kills Arabs. (And by the way the majority of Muslims in the world are not Arab.)

Given a hypothetical choice between shutting down all research today and continuing the way we’re going, the majority (including me) would probably choose to shut it all down. The handful of additional deaths due to cancers we don’t cure would be more than offset by the thousands who won’t die thanks to our smart bombs and biological agents and napalm. That was the point of my sarcasm about the “blessings” of science.

You couldn’t take away handful of teen aged girls’ cell phones let alone remove all present and future technology with out fight. The vast majority of people wouldn’t stand for it. You’re not in touch with reality if you think the majority of people share your opinions.

As for the education issue, back when I was in academia (around 1990) the right set forth in print its plan to revolutionize American education. One seminal document was a collection of essays by Hirsh, putatively about cultural literacy. At the time I was teaching ESL to Asians who had approximately zero acquaintance with Western culture, and I was attracted to the idea of cultural literacy. What Hirsh, D’Souza, Bill Bennett, and others who have since become paragons of rightist thinking laid out as a paradigm was rather frightening: a memorize-and-regurgitate model based on the Great Books of dead white males. Many of us in the humanities tried to oppose such a program, but we got little support from the scientists, who generally held our fuzzy disciplines in contempt and were perfectly happy to see critical thinking on politics, economics, and social issues suppressed. A population of obedient little Do-Bes served the interests of science such as keeping the military-industrial complex well fed and voting for cool but useless boondoggles such as the International Space Station and the Superconducting Supercollider (sorry about that one, guys, but here in Texas we decided we needed our schools to have libraries more than we needed a big dig for physics geeks).

What makes you think you can generalize your experience in academia as a state that is pervasive throughout all academic institutions. I for one wasn’t exposed to one bit of Hirsh, D’Souza, etc… in college. And I never observed some kind of pissing contest between the science faculty and the liberal arts faculty. If the faculty at your institution couldn’t control their own curriculum, it’s their own fault.

Now the non-elite schools have been successfully dumbed down and, guess what! The unthinking little yes people can’t think critically about anything, including science!

If you want to win them back, you’ll have to do a lot more of what’s being done on this board. Furthermore, you’ll have to start asking hard questions such as, “Does my work serve the good of humankind, or just my own morbid curiosity?”

There has never been a lack of ignorance and there probably never will be. There are many more examples of the good science has done than bad. I am really astonished that you don’t see the irony in a person who sits in an air-conditioned house, at a computer hooked up to the internet writing diatribes about the evils of technology. Why don’t you try to be a little more optimistic? People tend to like you better when you don’t have such a negative outlook.

Comment #120299

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 17, 2006 7:00 PM (e)

I totally agree, and what he said is much more nicely and much less sarcastically put than what I have to say, but I still have to get in my two cents.

Over the years, Michael has always played the role of “good cop” very well. ;)

Comment #120302

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 17, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

I would like to see a reference to the agent you say apartheid was working on because I think it is BS.

Can’t speak to the apartheid regime, but I do know that the US was investigating something similar. (Back in the 80’s, I had a few connections within the Pentagon and wrote a lot about chemical and biological weapons).

The US military was in on genetic research right from the beginning, and one of the topics of research (under the aegis of “researching potential weapons that could be developed by our enemies”) was the so-called “ethnic bomb”, a bacterial vector that was altered using recombinant DNA technology to produce toxins (cobra toxin was one possibility, shellfish toxin was another), but had a “switch” that would only be activated in the presence of a particular genetic marker (some stretch of DNA that was likely to be found in, say, Russians or Vietnamese or whatever, but not in the DNA of the people using the bomb). The idea was that the weapon would wipe out specific genetic groups, but would not affect others.

I don’t know that it ever actually went anywhere (research on usable weapons was, of course, illegal – at least until the Bush Administration unilaterally abrogated the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention), but I do know that the Defense Department spent a fair amount of money on the idea for a number of years.

Comment #120308

Posted by shiva on August 17, 2006 7:28 PM (e)

http://tinyurl.com/opoh9 Here’s Robert Lattimer from Ohio giving the game away. We must teach the “controversy” because supernatural causes exist!

Comment #120314

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 17, 2006 7:42 PM (e)

Here’s Robert Lattimer from Ohio giving the game away. We must teach the “controversy” because supernatural causes exist!

Well, once you’ve already lost, there’s not much point in maintaining the pretense any more, is there ….

Comment #120319

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 17, 2006 8:09 PM (e)

Michael Suttkus wrote: “Science isn’t performed in anyone’s interest. It’s an expansion of knowledge. Knowledge is power and power is always dangerous. It’s not science that’s the problem, it’s people willing to use the power it grants poorly.”

This is precisely where you and I disagree. It’s pretty easy to see that research on energy independence has a different political import than developing battlefield robots. Or at least it should be. This pretense to the impartiality of science is a convenient stance, but if you work for Lincoln Lab, or Sandia National Laboratory, or Los Alamos you are furthering American militarism whether you choose to deny it or not. Similarly, choosing to work on genetic modification of plants to resist herbicides, which serves a future of dousing fields with chemicals and may make organic farming impossible. Researchers may keep their conscience clear by telling themselves science is neutral, but this thread is about public perception of science and whether scientific or religious authority should prevail in setting curriculum for the public schools. If you want to win this one, you need to win the war of public perception.

“I guess it would be better that the less deadly form of small pox were still around (that modern medicine eradicated through vaccination) than that a more deadly form of the virus that has engineered and so far never used. That way the unvaccinated population would still be dying regularly from the previous, less deadly form of the virus.”

You miss my point. Science in the 1960s, along with the secular viewpoint, enjoyed overwhelming popular support. The main reason was that the social benefits of research were obvious. I submit that the economic structure of scientific enterprise has changed. Over the past few decades it’s become possible for university researchers to become rich through patents. I’m not sure of the details, but I’m quite sure that in the Reagan era the rules changed. Now we have the appalling situation that supposedly the only persons qualified to work for the NIH are those with heinous conflicts of interest. If that’s really true, we need a crash program to train publically minded people who can work for the NIH without conflict. But I don’t believe it’s really true. It’s just that people now perceive science as a road to riches, and they’ll be damned if they’ll give up their split-level in Arlington in the name of integrity.

“Even drugs like Vioxx are obvious examples of benefit, mishandled.” That’s kind of dubious; many have opined that Vioxx is no more effective than aspirin, but drug companies can’t make a profit off aspirin, so they pushed this unnecessary and dangerous drug on the public. “Merck pulled the drug when dangers appeared.” What I heard reported was that Merck suppressed their own studies that showed the danger was real. If that’s not the case, why are they losing lawsuits over heart-attack deaths?

JDog chimes in: “How can you not see the contradiction here. First the FDA is not like corrupt European equivalents, and then so corrupt.” You must not have read the dates. When I was a kid, the FDA was admired the world over for its integrity. Now it’s despised for its whoredom.

“As stated by Michael earlier science does not require any faith whatsoever.” Well, E.O. Wilson thinks so. Surely it requires a faith, or worldview if you prefer, that increased knowledge is a good in itself. There is a long tradition in normative ethics of challenging this stance, so it’s not exactly a universal belief. “Successful practice of the scientific enterprise should AVOID any such rosy thinking.” So, you would pursue a line of inquiry out of curiosity, no matter where it led, even if the results were horrible? Exactly my point. Some lines of inquiry are not worth pursuing, such as making deadlier anthrax, and many are being pursued at tremendous waste of resources to the detriment of others that are badly needed, such as energy independence and alternatives to factory farming.

JDog: “I would like to see a reference to the agent you say apartheid was working on because I think it is BS. And I most certainly don’t think that the US would make let alone use an agent that selectively kills Arabs. (And by the way the majority of Muslims in the world are not Arab.)”

Is the Washington Post good enough? This took about 30 seconds of research on the Web:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A64518-2003Apr20?language=printer

Admittedly this is one guy’s claim and may not be true. But I don’t think we have to look very far to find similar misconduct on the part of the U.S.: spraying anonymous people with viruses and that kind of thing. But keep on denying that there’s any ethical import to what you do. Just don’t expect the public to prefer your ideas to those of fundamentalist Christianity. After all, the preachers have some sense of ethical responsibility, however misguided. And I’ve even studied a bit of Arabic so I’m quite aware most Muslims are not Arab. But we’re not at war with Indonesia or Turkey, are we.

“The list goes on and on, but I suppose it would be better we didn’t know these things so we could go back to the days where the average life expectancy was thirty.” You’ve entirely missed the point of my timelines. Life expectancy wasn’t 30 back in the sixties when science was lionized in the public mind.

It’s been reported in many mainstream news sources that innovation in pharmacology has drastically slowed down. I’m not making this up. Neither am I making up the fact of hostility between scientists and the liberal arts. Go dig up Snow’s The Two Cultures. Or was he deluded by his parochial academic experience and his impressions cannot be generalized?

“I’m terribly sorry you had to deal with a bunch of smart snot-nosed kids out of High School.” At the time, I was enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students there (I didn’t know many in the sciences, but I assume it applies across all disciplines) had a much different attitude: They believed they were future leaders and expected to have money and power. (Most, unlike me, have in fact achieved such, but that’s not sour grapes, partly a matter of personal choice.) And most were intensely concerned with the ethical implications of how that money and power were to be earned and deployed. MIT, the flagship university of American science and technology, was full of students with an amoral attitude. And 50% were grad students, hardly “snot-nosed kids out of high school.” Many had high-paid and important summer jobs and were interviewing for positions of authority. At the time Sununu was the President’s Chief of Staff, an MIT grad, yet it didn’t seem the students foresaw similar positions of authority in their own future. They were planning to be yes-men and -women in a way that was totally opposite to the Harvard ethos.

“I for one wasn’t exposed to one bit of Hirsh, D’Souza, etc… in college.” Neither was I. I read their material as a lecturer. But the results of their program are all over the public schools. Unfortunately the latest incarnation involves biblical indoctrination, but a regime of indoctrination should have sent up red flags long ago. Now it may be too late. And no surprise you, as a scientist, had your head in the sand about this issue, because it wasn’t affecting your discipline yet. Again, precisely my point.

“There has never been a lack of ignorance and there probably never will be.” So, should we be trying to combat it, or not? I must say, JDog, your post in particular had little to back it up. I illustrated each of my assertions with at least an anecdote. Mostly you’ve either misunderstood my point, which was that science has been corrupted in the recent generation, not that science is inherently a bad thing, or you’ve simply stated that you haven’t seen examples of the trends I’m reporting on. Fine, keep up your denial, but you won’t convince anyone in politics to change education policy that way.

“I am really astonished that you don’t see the irony in a person who sits in an air-conditioned house, at a computer hooked up to the internet writing diatribes about the evils of technology.” Actually, it’s a trailer in a very rural area, but I do have AC (the house where I spend my weekends with my SO does not) and, yes, the Internet. The personal computer was a rare use of technology to empower individuals, something we could use a lot more of. I’m no Luddite. I want responsible, humanistic use of technology. Again, when I was growing up it was hard for the most reactionary person to deny the benefits of science and technology. Nowadays I’m not so sure. I think it’s quite likely the human race will be extincted by nuclear and biological weapons that will eventually be deployed based on the hysterical instincts seen on a tiny scale in the recent Lebanese war. If these munitions were not manufactured, they could not be deployed. There seem to be thousands willing to take Defense dollars for every member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. I sure as hell hope I’m wrong. But if you want the public to support science education, the field is going to have to improve its image overall. Sure, most scientists are ethical and conscientious. Most priests don’t molest children, either. But the Roman Church has a problem with widespread pedophilia which has tarnished its image, and the scientific enterprise in the U.S. (and, e.g., Korea) has an increasing and well documented problem of faked results, suppressed data, financial corruption, and collaboration with the very worst forces in government and business. If you can’t overcome that bad image, the public will turn away as they have been.

Finally, Raging Bee wrote: “Oh well, at least you’ve admitted that your ‘main point’ had nothing to do with proving creationism, disproving evolution, or ‘teaching’ the ‘controversy.’ Intended or not, that’s a rare bit of honesty from the ID camp.” I would hope it’s obvious that I’m not in the “ID camp”; indeed, I did my small part in organizing a letter-writing campaign, ultimately successful, to keep ID out of textbooks in Texas a few years ago. But thanks for demonstrating how easily a humanistic critique of science from the Left can be misinterpreted as an enemy attack from the Right. Maybe if you were less to perceive critics as enemies you’d get further in politics.

Comment #120320

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 17, 2006 8:18 PM (e)

One more thing:

There are various assertions here that technology has improved lifespan, cured diseases, brought good things to humanity. Very true.

Based on those assertions, we are supposed to believe that technology will continue to benefit humankind. I’m sorry, but there’s considerable evidence that technology, as it’s being practiced today, is likely to lead to massive slaughter via nuclear and biological weapons, massive extinction of natural species in favor of genetically engineered mutants, or the end of humankind as we know it due to genetic manipulation to create a race of transhumans who will differ so much from us that our entire history, culture, and literature will become moot.

If you believe otherwise, that science will always produce a net good because it’s done so in the past, then that’s a faith. A more rational approach would recognize, as they say in the mutual-fund industry, that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Comment #120321

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 17, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

This is precisely where you and I disagree. It’s pretty easy to see that research on energy independence has a different political import than developing battlefield robots. Or at least it should be. This pretense to the impartiality of science is a convenient stance, but if you work for Lincoln Lab, or Sandia National Laboratory, or Los Alamos you are furthering American militarism whether you choose to deny it or not.

No doubt. Just as there is no doubt that if you work for the Union of Concerned Scientists, you are fighting AGAINST American militarism. Both sets of scientists use the very same nuclear physics, ya know.

There is, after all, a difference between science, and the social uses to which science is put. Science in the hands of Dr Jonas Salk is different than science in the hands of Rihab Rashid Taha al-Azawi. Just as a knife in the hands of Dr Robert Jarvik is different than a knife in the hands of Jack the Ripper.

Lumping them all together is, well, kind of dumb.

Comment #120322

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 17, 2006 8:21 PM (e)

I’m sorry, but there’s considerable evidence that technology, as it’s being practiced today, is likely to lead to massive slaughter via nuclear and biological weapons, massive extinction of natural species in favor of genetically engineered mutants, or the end of humankind as we know it due to genetic manipulation to create a race of transhumans who will differ so much from us that our entire history, culture, and literature will become moot.

No, it’s HUMANS who are likely to do all those things.

Technology is, well, technology. It just sits there, stupid and unmoving, until HUMANS do something with it.

Want to stop all those things from happening? Then work on the humans who do them.

Comment #120325

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 17, 2006 8:48 PM (e)

Oh, and one final comment. Forget about the highly intelligent but misguided MIT students, I never once considered my less illustrious (American or Asian) students at a small, mediocre liberal-arts college in Texas “snot-nosed kids.” Presumably, if you’re employed at a university, you have students that you hold in similar contempt. An unwelcome distraction from your valuable work of research, perhaps? The fact that you would snub the young in such terms speaks volumes. You probably hold the same attitude toward the Great Unwashed, and they know people like you hold them in contempt, so they’re willing to ally with religious leaders (whose rhetoric they may not really believe) to cut you out of power anyway they can. And then you’re surprised, and even more contemptuous. Without empathy there is no success in politics. Clinton understood this, and more or less succeeded despite intense opposition. Bush doesn’t get it, and as a result lost formerly overwhelming support. You don’t need empathy to conduct science, but you do to succeed in public policy. And that’s my bottom line.

www.corneroak.com

Comment #120366

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 18, 2006 6:30 AM (e)

Lenny Frank wrote:

“No, it’s HUMANS who are likely to do all those things.

Technology is, well, technology. It just sits there, stupid and unmoving, until HUMANS do something with it.

Want to stop all those things from happening? Then work on the humans who do them.”

Gosh, you folks are literal-minded. Obviously technology is a human construct. I submit that humans should be pursuing technologies that benefit the greater good. My perception is that the bulk of resources is going to projects that do the opposite. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but I’ve seen little evidence and a lot of semantics from those on the other side. Let’s throw it open to the scientists: What are you working on and in what way does it benefit the public good? If you say, “I dunno, I’m just motivated by curiosity,” then that’s the attitude I’m complaining about. Einstein, Szilard, and Fermi all were intensely aware of the ethical implications of their work. Teller was an amoral bastard, however brilliant. If science excuses him because of his brilliance, history and the public do not. If you want to affect politcs (such as educational policy) you have to realize that people will judge the scientific enterprise on its results to society, however you want to protest that research is ethically neutral.

Comment #120370

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 18, 2006 7:47 AM (e)

As for the cervical-cancer vaccine, its profit-driven development has been attacked in The American Prospect:

http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11842

I disagree with much of this article, but it shows how much resentment and suspicion is out there regarding research as it’s conducted today, even in a moderate, center-left journal not given to hyperbole.

Comment #120371

Posted by mark on August 18, 2006 7:56 AM (e)

“What are you working on and in what way does it benefit the public good?” - Lindsey Eck

Well, Lindsey, I’m working on ways to reduce the net emission of green-house gasses from agricultural crops.

What do you do to “benefit the public good”?

Comment #120375

Posted by mark on August 18, 2006 8:28 AM (e)

“This pretense to the impartiality of science is a convenient stance, but if you work for Lincoln Lab, or Sandia National Laboratory, or Los Alamos you are furthering American militarism whether you choose to deny it or not.” - Lindsey Eck

If scientists in the US hadn’t developed ‘the bomb’ because they didn’t want to risk the US government misusing it, it would have been developed by the Nazi’s*. I suspect that they would have used it!

Scientists working at Los Alamos, etc., do so because they think that the US should be able to defend itself as well as it is possible to do so. It’s not their fault if the government uses that technology for offensive purposes, is it?

* I hope I didn’t ‘Godwin’ my self?

Comment #120378

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 8:56 AM (e)

You miss my point. Science in the 1960s, along with the secular viewpoint, enjoyed overwhelming popular support. The main reason was that the social benefits of research were obvious. I submit that the economic structure of scientific enterprise has changed.

I’m sorry Lindsey. And tell me when did they develop the nuclear weapons your so fond of. Oh, thats right it was in the 40’s. Sorry but all the governments of the world will be interested in how to engineer better weapons regardless of how science and engineering are used by the general public. And Michael pointed out to you several benefits of current scientific research. Your not going to convince anyone here that all science is bad just because some of the knowledge it has helped obtain can be used for evil.

Comment #120380

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 9:22 AM (e)

Lindsey writes:

JDog chimes in: “How can you not see the contradiction here. First the FDA is not like corrupt European equivalents, and then so corrupt.” You must not have read the dates. When I was a kid, the FDA was admired the world over for its integrity. Now it’s despised for its whoredom.

For one thing, I am not JDog. I did read the dates, and you could be more specific about your implication by adding. “The FDA has now become so corrupt.” It would have been more clear that way, however, I had an idea of where you were going. I would like to hear your take on what Michael was saying about the unregulated herbal industry that has given us ephedra and sterioisomers of tryptophan.

Comment #120382

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 9:32 AM (e)

Admittedly this is one guy’s claim and may not be true. But I don’t think we have to look very far to find similar misconduct on the part of the U.S.: spraying anonymous people with viruses and that kind of thing. But keep on denying that there’s any ethical import to what you do. Just don’t expect the public to prefer your ideas to those of fundamentalist Christianity. After all, the preachers have some sense of ethical responsibility, however misguided. And I’ve even studied a bit of Arabic so I’m quite aware most Muslims are not Arab. But we’re not at war with Indonesia or Turkey, are we.

I’m glad you atleast tried to backup your claim. Lenny defended you as well on this one. I do think it is hard to find instances in which these types of biological weapons were actually used. If the governments of the world are afraid of the bird-flu evolving into a form contagious to humans, anything they develop would have less of a leap to take to infecting everyone. Kind of a lose/lose situation.

Are Iraq or Afghanistan 100% arab. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest percentage of arabs and they are our (supposed) ally.

Comment #120383

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 9:46 AM (e)

“As stated by Michael earlier science does not require any faith whatsoever.” Well, E.O. Wilson thinks so. Surely it requires a faith, or worldview if you prefer, that increased knowledge is a good in itself. There is a long tradition in normative ethics of challenging this stance, so it’s not exactly a universal belief. “Successful practice of the scientific enterprise should AVOID any such rosy thinking.” So, you would pursue a line of inquiry out of curiosity, no matter where it led, even if the results were horrible? Exactly my point. Some lines of inquiry are not worth pursuing, such as making deadlier anthrax, and many are being pursued at tremendous waste of resources to the detriment of others that are badly needed, such as energy independence and alternatives to factory farming.

The increase in knowledge can be used for good or bad. I am not arguing that there aren’t evil people in the world that will take advantage of any extra knowledge they have. Just as Lenny said, humans are the ones that decide how a technology is used. You never know what good might come of investigating a deadly pathogen; I can think of a few good things that came out of the research of clostridium botulinum, which is extraordinarily deadly. It also seems you have a problem with people making money off of their research. How do you expect the research to get done with out funding. If you want answers to the questions you posed, write up a grant and get it funded. And by the way it is not like alternative energy and agriculture aren’t being researched.

Comment #120387

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 9:54 AM (e)

Lindsey writes

“I for one wasn’t exposed to one bit of Hirsh, D’Souza, etc… in college.” Neither was I. I read their material as a lecturer. But the results of their program are all over the public schools. Unfortunately the latest incarnation involves biblical indoctrination, but a regime of indoctrination should have sent up red flags long ago. Now it may be too late. And no surprise you, as a scientist, had your head in the sand about this issue, because it wasn’t affecting your discipline yet. Again, precisely my point.

The fact that creationists have been trying to get their religious material into the class-room is hardly new. The creationists have been trying to undermine science in the US for almost a century. ID is just a new tactic. And in case your interested the Creationist camp hasn’t won a single case that has been taken to court. I understand your point, but you are incorrect if you think that the attack on science is anything new.

Comment #120391

Posted by mark on August 18, 2006 10:11 AM (e)

Lindsey, I’m still waiting to hear what you do to “benefit the public good”?

{silence}

Comment #120394

Posted by k.e. on August 18, 2006 10:21 AM (e)

Lindsay for my 2c worth I think you are conflating Science Education or the Scientific Method and its test of truth without the superstitious restriction of certain fundamentalist politico religious groups which which is what I am concerned about, with the Scientific Enterprise as practiced by humans.

Are you saying that the education of ethics is falling behind too?

Comment #120411

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

“There has never been a lack of ignorance and there probably never will be.” So, should we be trying to combat it, or not? I must say, JDog, your post in particular had little to back it up. I illustrated each of my assertions with at least an anecdote. Mostly you’ve either misunderstood my point, which was that science has been corrupted in the recent generation, not that science is inherently a bad thing, or you’ve simply stated that you haven’t seen examples of the trends I’m reporting on. Fine, keep up your denial, but you won’t convince anyone in politics to change education policy that way.

Many of us here are trying to combat ignorance including myself. Ofcourse your anecdotes are not evidence of the truth of your opinions anymore than mine are. I understand your point, I just disagree with it and I don’t think you are terribly clear about it. You are very dramatic in your illistrations, but how many times have nukes, biological weapons been used recently. No they haven’t or it would be all over the news. All human endeavors including political philosophy have been corrupted at one point or another. Consider the work of Marx and Engels, an arguably beautiful philosophy that can not truly work soley because of the human condition. It has been twisted and used to oppress millions in the former USSR and even today in North Korea and Cuba.

Comment #120415

Posted by J. Biggs on August 18, 2006 11:56 AM (e)

Oh, and one final comment. Forget about the highly intelligent but misguided MIT students, I never once considered my less illustrious (American or Asian) students at a small, mediocre liberal-arts college in Texas “snot-nosed kids.” Presumably, if you’re employed at a university, you have students that you hold in similar contempt. An unwelcome distraction from your valuable work of research, perhaps? The fact that you would snub the young in such terms speaks volumes. You probably hold the same attitude toward the Great Unwashed, and they know people like you hold them in contempt, so they’re willing to ally with religious leaders (whose rhetoric they may not really believe) to cut you out of power anyway they can. And then you’re surprised, and even more contemptuous. Without empathy there is no success in politics. Clinton understood this, and more or less succeeded despite intense opposition. Bush doesn’t get it, and as a result lost formerly overwhelming support. You don’t need empathy to conduct science, but you do to succeed in public policy. And that’s my bottom line.

As I stated at the beginning of my post; my responses were intended to be sarcastic. I am glad you didn’t consider your students snot nosed kids but your example did indicate that you did not believe them to be ethical. In fact I am not in academia or research but a clinician in the medical field. I see examples of the good science has done and continues to do every single day.

Funny, but I don’t particularly care for Clinton or Bush. Your right that Bush isn’t very empathetic. I also believe Clinton’s empathy was fake. We are quite lucky in this country that we don’t have to be stuck with people like them for more than eight years.

PR is what organizations like DI does. I like your point that scientists need to consider the moral implications of their research much better. I actually agree with that to a certain degree. However, we can not discontinue research of something with great potential just because some person may think of a way to use it for evil purposes (or to profit financially which you obviously think is evil as well). Scientists can stick to science, Politicians can stick to politics and you can keep doing whatever it is you do. I sincerely doubt the world will come to an end anytime soon.

Comment #120443

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 18, 2006 2:14 PM (e)

Hey, the victory in the Kansas school board elections is paying immediate dividends:
http://www.comcast.net/news/national/index.jsp?cat=DOMESTIC&fn=/2006/08/18/458224.html&cvqh=itn_perfectsat.

We could reasonably intuit that we’d see this kind of turn-around, but the promptitudinousness of it is surprising!

Comment #120457

Posted by J-Dog on August 18, 2006 3:47 PM (e)

Lindsey Eck - You misquote me in your earlier posts.

I think you mean to credit J Biggs.

If you’re not more careful with your citations, Ann Coulter’s publishers are going to give you a book deal.

Just sop you know, I try to stay short and sweet and keep it light with my comments.
HTH

Comment #120460

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on August 18, 2006 4:02 PM (e)

Re:

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 18, 2006 02:14 PM (e)

Hey, the victory in the Kansas school board elections is paying immediate dividends:
http://www.comcast.net/news/national/index.jsp?c….

We could reasonably intuit that we’d see this kind of turn-around, but the promptitudinousness of it is surprising!

I don’t know which article you’re referring to, but I loved the article about the chocolate!

Comment #120472

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 18, 2006 4:31 PM (e)

Drat! I knew I should’ve checked the line, especially when I pulled it from Comcast (I’ll blame them this time, and not kludgy PT–or even my inability to learn how to do one of those “shorthand” links that won’t get cut off…).

Let’s try the msn version:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14407042/.

I’ll even check the link from “Preview” this time (assuming I can frickin’ get to “Preview”; this is getting to be a lotta work for a tongue-in-cheek comment, especially now that you’ve trumped me with the chocolate virgin “sighting.”)

Comment #120473

Posted by Flint on August 18, 2006 4:32 PM (e)

I submit that humans should be pursuing technologies that benefit the greater good.

Lenny can lead him to wisdom, but can’t make him think. Give me a technology, ANY technology, and I can use it for either good or evil. Good and evil are matters of intent, they are NOT matters of the tools used to implement that intent. Think of the greatest technological developments ever: fire? the wheel? Are these “good” technologies or “evil” technologies? Golly, it all seems to depend on who’s trying to use them for what purposes.

Is it part of the creationist worldview to project purposes into their tools just like they project gods into anything that baffles them?

Comment #120488

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 18, 2006 5:50 PM (e)

I submit that humans should be pursuing technologies that benefit the greater good.

No shit. Thanks for pointing that out to us.

And how, again, did you plan to prevent people from using those technologies for evil …. ?

Comment #120539

Posted by Lindsey Eck on August 18, 2006 8:55 PM (e)

I applaud the person who is working to prevent greenhouse emissions. See, he/she is forthright about the fact that the technology does have a purpose that is not ethically neutral.

I think it’s disingenuous to say any technology can be used for good or evil. Where is the good in the super-potent anthrax apparently produced at Fort Detrick (sp?), which was probably the source of the mail-in terrorism that killed several people a few years back. Perhaps it “can be used for good,” but I’d rather our money was not being spent on increasing the potency of the world’s deadliest microbes. I feel ethical considerations need to be given special attention (fortunately, they were) in instances such as the sequencing of the deadly flu strain of 1918. That info indeed had the potential for great harm or great good, and I think the scientists who proceeded to do the sequencing were vindicated. But they went into it with extreme caution and many qualms. That’s much different from saying, we should pursue whatever we feel like (or get paid for), ‘cause no research in itself has ethical consequences, only the applications of that research.

Sure, nuclear weapons existed in the 1960s. It was also a time when Kennedy signed the Test Ban Treaty and there was a nonproliferation treaty. Only in the Bush years has it become acceptable to talk about (1) tearing up those treaties and (2) developing new, smaller nukes such as the “bunker buster.” I haven’t heard a lot of nuclear scientists come forward and say, hey, using tactical nukes on the battlefield is really dumb because it will drive up rates of cancer and birth defects the world over. (At least I think that’s what would happen, but I’m not a scientist.)

How do I make my living? I try not to be too specific on the Internet, with its many anonymous nut cases, but I am in the communications section of a large, non-private institution whose mission is environmental protection. Before that, among other things, I worked in HIV prevention. And I’ve put my job on the line several times over ethical issues. A few years ago, when I asked a few questions about budget issues that revealed that my supposed budget was being used as a slush fund in what looked to me like Medicaid fraud, I was summarily transferred and given nothing to do for a whole year. (They didn’t want to fire me ‘cause they knew I had information that might benefit the plaintiff’s attorney in a lawsuit where we were on the other side.) Before that, the sequence of events that culminated in my being denied a tenure track (and thus my exit from academia) began when I balked at signing phony certificates of academic recognition for students who didn’t deserve them, but whose parents in Asia were the richest of their cohort and might be hoped to give money to the college. (As it turned out, they saw through the phony attempt to flatter them and gave nothing.) I might mention that some of my distaste for academia also springs from grad school, when my adviser was suspended for a year for sexually harassing a grad student and thus I lost a whole year of preparing for a degree which I, in the end, never finished (ABD). The prof continued to work on his research, funded by (who else) the Department of Defense, so it was his students and junior colleagues (one unjustly forced out of Harvard) who paid the price for his folly. So it goes.

I apologize for the harshness of the tone I’ve taken here, and my impression is that the scientists who contribute to this board are fine people who obviously have an interest in public affairs and education, or you wouldn’t be spending your time on these issues. But, as they say, politics ain’t beanbag, and (before I sign off, as I’m going to be too busy to contribute further to this discussion anytime soon), let me give some perspective, as a New England Yankee who’s been living for nearly two decades in this very red state of Texas.

About 1-1/2 miles from my trailer, Alcoa is digging a huge strip mine in an area that is not really sparsely populated. The entire county opposed this, but all seven county commissioners approved it. No doubt they’ve got nice consulting jobs waiting for them when they get out. Of course, a strip mine employs few workers, and Alcoa is not headquartered here, so (as usual) there’s little benefit to the locals in this project. A U.S. highway, long paid for by our federal taxes, that I drive frequently is being turned into a toll road, again in the face of intense local opposition, owned by a company in Spain that will reap the profits. I haven’t been able to verify this, but several people have told me that a misleadingly worded initiative in the last election will allow the government to put meters on private wells and tax us for our own water in the name of “conservation.” The real reason is to induce people to hook up to the very expensive Aqua Water Company, another out-of-Texas giant company that intends to do to us what was done to the people of Bolivia—force them to pay for water that used to be theirs. (This was one factor that led to the Indian revolt that toppled the government.) This issue was put on the ballot during a primary election the instigators knew would have sparse turnout, because some 40% of voters sat it out in order to sign petitions for one of the two independent gubernatorial candidates. The pension plan I count on for my retirement was looted by Enron. As for the delightful Merck corporation, its Medco subsidiary decided our prescription drug plan was too expensive, so they shut it down, leaving us with no prescription coverage for over a month, though we continued to pay premiums.

I think you get the picture. Texans, of whatever political stripe, see themselves treated as an economic colony by political, economic, and corporate interests that are located on the coasts. Our own legislature is famously corrupt and laughably ineffective (it meets for 20 weeks every two years) and we’re all damn sick of being exploited by people who dump their toxic waste here and dig up the resources, then sneer at us for what a dirty, backward place Texas is.

Very few people really care about evolution either way. Most of the constituents for this issue are simply falling in line behind their preachers. For non-Hispanics, the Southern Baptist denomination is by far the largest and most powerful and, in many of the new subdivisions, a suburban megachurch is not only the sole church that a person can belong to, but the only civic institution of any kind. With their schools, jacuzzis, and similar public facilities on their self-contained campuses, these churches are the only place to meet singles, use the weight room, the only social institution of any kind. (By the way, these are highly affluent neighborhoods I’m talking about. They may be ignorant, but they’re upper-middle-class, locally influential, and almost always Republican.)

So people aren’t necessarily joining because they endorse the theology, or even because they believe in Christ. But they do know that evolution is popular in the blue states, the places where the people ruining Texas live and where the profits go. So they’re happy to join their preachers in supporting an issue that helps stick a thumb in the eye of liberal America, our smug colonial master.

Continue fighting the evolution issue on the merits of the argument. After all, you’ve got the Constitution on your side. But, at least here in the Bible Belt, your adversaries are really reacting to perceived carpetbagger control of their education, and (though you may well prevent stupid things from getting into the textbooks) you won’t really overcome an anti-science attitude among people who can’t draw fine distinctions between pure science, applied science, and technology until those people can see the benefits of science to them. As for the less affluent, why should someone with no medical care (and Texas has the highest rate of uninsured) have to spend one tax dollar to support research into a medicine or treatment that person will never be able to access?

So, the struggle is much bigger than you think. Progressives can support, and have supported, science education, but (as that Prospect article shows) they are not very sympathetic to the direction, funding, and uses of research, whether in pharmacology, nuclear physics, genetic modification or, for that matter, mainstream economics. Your political efforts might involve mending fences with the left, whatever that would entail. (One thing I’d like to see: An actual scientist evaluate the claims of widespread birth defects where depleted uranium has been used. There have been a lot of such claims, but are they true? I have no idea, and I haven’t seen any discussion by a scientist who could evaluate them.)

As I say, this will probably end the discussion for me. Those who’d like to know me better can visit:

www.corneroak.com

Comment #120724

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 19, 2006 7:40 AM (e)

How do I make my living? I try not to be too specific on the Internet, with its many anonymous nut cases,

That’s Anonymous_Cowards, to you.

I think it’s disingenuous to say any technology can be used for good or evil. Where is the good in the super-potent anthrax apparently produced at Fort Detrick (sp?), which was probably the source of the mail-in terrorism that killed several people a few years back. Perhaps it “can be used for good,” but I’d rather our money was not being spent on increasing the potency of the world’s deadliest microbes.

Didn’t some big name fundies, some time ago, suggest that the US should attack Muslim countries and convert them to fundamentalist Christianity using military might?

It would seem if those kind of people vote in elections, they will choose the ones who are sympathetic to such godly views.

Comment #120806

Posted by J. Biggs on August 19, 2006 11:17 AM (e)

Dear Lindsey,

If your last post had been your first post, I would have agreed with you, for the most part. Thank you for putting in the time to clear up your views. I still disagree that scientific endeavors today are less and less in the public interest, but certainly you have a valid point about the ethical implications of certain research. I believe your arguments fall more in the political realm than the scientific one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like weapons research stops regardless of who is in control of the government. However, I think it is valid to say that it is better for our government to have the most advanced military technology rather than some other government (possibly one that wants to eradicate us). You seem like a nice person and I am sorry if my sarcasm offended you. Good luck in your endeavors.

And by the way, exposure to gamma radiation for a prolonged period of time is very likely to cause birth defects; for a graphic demonstration of the effects you can watch Chernobyl Heart. The effects of radiation are dependent on the intensity and exposure time.

Comment #121065

Posted by stevaroni on August 20, 2006 1:55 PM (e)

Alcoa is digging a huge strip mine ..(here).. The entire county opposed this, but all seven county commissioners approved it.

The entire county may have opposed it, but apparently, nobody actually cared enough to go vote the council out of office.

It’s not distant elites pulling the strings that’s the problem, it’s the local apathetics that are too lazy to lift the scissors.

Comment #121440

Posted by Josh S on August 21, 2006 11:14 PM (e)

After the flame-war dust-up, I really am curious as to how y’all would answer heddle’s last question. If saying Muhammed was a false prophet and thus either a liar or a nuts is intolerant, who do you say Muhammed was? Are most of the commenters here Muslims who believe that Muhammed spoke true Qu’ran from Allah? I am genuinely curious here. What exactly is the tolerant, enlightened thing to believe about Muhammed and his claims to be a prophet sent by God and the instrument of divine revelation?

Comment #144095

Posted by jhavfa sskop on November 15, 2006 9:35 AM (e)

yeah i dont really know what to say so im just leaving this up here to leave this up here so yeah ….um i have nothing else to say so have a wonderful day everii bodii