PZ Myers posted Entry 2833 on January 11, 2007 10:00 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2823

Science magazine has just published a graph of data taken from a general social survey of Americans that quantifies what most of us assume: a well-educated liberal who is not a fundamentalist is much more likely to accept evolution than a conservative fundamentalist with only a high school education. You can see the trend fairly clearly: here we see the percent believing in evolution vs. fundamentalism, amount of education, and self-reported political views.

belief_in_evo.jpg
(click for larger image)

The percentage of respondents believing in human evolution is plotted simultaneously against political view (conservative, moderate, liberal), education (high school or less, some college, graduate school), and respondent's religious denomination (fundamentalist or not). Belief in evolution rises along with political liberalism, independently of control variables.

Continue reading "American political conservatism impedes the understanding of science" (on Pharyngula)

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Comment #154740

Posted by Troff on January 12, 2007 3:56 AM (e)

Well… so much for the last hope of avoiding the politicising of science…

Comment #154759

Posted by Steverino on January 12, 2007 7:52 AM (e)

“…likely to accept evolution than a conservative fundamentalist”

I wish to swap the word “accept” with “acknowledge”. Acknowledge implies that, regardless of what you believe the fact of Evolution is what it is.

Like Gravity, whether you accept it or not, it’s there.

Just my 2 cents.

Comment #154763

Posted by harold on January 12, 2007 8:40 AM (e)

This actually explains the DI and some of the regular ID posters here.

This explains why an Ann Coulter book had an anti-evolution section. It explains why the Dover trial involved the TMLC - a Catholic, not evangelical organization but a self-proclaimed conservative one. It explains a lot more than that. It works the other way, too. Is there anybody at the DI who has a “liberal” view on economic or social issues unrelated to the theory of evolution? There is a very strong relationship between claiming to “doubt evolution” and claiming to think that Mallard Filmore is funny.

Indeed, I might even argue that it’s almost as common for someone to claim to be a fundamentalist because of their political beliefs, as for someone to be be a conservative because of fundamentalist faith.

Forget about “believe” vs “acknowledge” vs “accept the evidence”. Those points are valid, but people knew what the question meant.

I have no doubt that there are honorable, independent thinking individuals who, for one reason or another, arrive at something that could be described as a “conservative” point of view. I personally see no logical rationale for the so-called conservative stances on economics, the environment, social policy or foreign policy that are advanced in the US today, but that’s neither the subject of this blog nor the point of this message. I’m just being honest about what some could construe as a “conflict of interest”.

The American “conservative movement” has been well-know, for at least 15-20 years, for demanding that “members” take the correct opinion on a wide variety of issues. “Disagreeing with evolution” is one stance that has become understood to be required or encouraged (the rationale on this, and some other issues, perhaps being to capture the support of evangelicals who might disagree with right wing economic, enviromental, or forgeign policy ideas, but that’s just my guess). It is not the only science-denying stance, either. Actually, the views that the media touts as “conservative”, including this one, are not necessarily traditionally conservative.

People are very much denying evolution and pretending to because their political biases compel them to. It’s important to remember this.

Comment #154764

Posted by harold on January 12, 2007 8:42 AM (e)

Oops, the last line should read “pretending to find ID convincing”.

Comment #154766

Posted by KL on January 12, 2007 8:49 AM (e)

harold wrote:

“There is a very strong relationship between claiming to “doubt evolution” and claiming to think that Mallard Filmore is funny.”

I’m glad to hear that others think this. I find the strip cynical and whiney, not funny. At least Doonesbury entertains while it offends. (although I personally don’t find it offensive)

Comment #154767

Posted by Frank J on January 12, 2007 8:51 AM (e)

I’m in the 57% of conservative, non-fund. grad school group. You beat me to the punch that many people “believe in” evolution because they are politically supposed to. And the converse must be true for many who deny it. For me, evolution just “made sense” all along, from before high school, through my phases as an atheist, agnostic, theist, liberal, etc. The big difference, though, is that for 30 of those 40 years I still had many misconceptions of evolution, as I suspect >90% of respondents of such polls do. I’m not sure how one would even conduct such a poll, but if one could weed out those who deliberately misrepresent evolution, I’d bet that, among those who have been corrected on the common misconceptions, >90% of liberals and conservatives alike would accept it.

Comment #154769

Posted by Lamuella on January 12, 2007 9:14 AM (e)

I’ve always wanted to do a survey like this, but with a slight difference.

The first part would gather demographic information. The second part would gather information about whether the person being surveyed accepted/acknowledged evolution. The third part would be a short quiz on the basics of biology and what evolutionary theory actually says.

I’d love to see what the results would be if you plotted actual knowledge of evolutionary theory against acceptance of evolutionary theory.

Comment #154770

Posted by Nigel Bristlethwaite on January 12, 2007 9:16 AM (e)

I think it is ok to say “accept” versus “believe.” Acceptance at least has some shred of what actually happens - the acceptance that the evidence presented to you has been discovered in a professional manner - and is therefore acceptable. Belief implies human constructions of interpersonally shared imagination. revelation and acceptance of authority. I do like acknowledge as well.

Comment #154771

Posted by Nigel Bristlethwaite on January 12, 2007 9:17 AM (e)

Lamuella,
That’s a great idea. Do it if you can.

Comment #154776

Posted by harold on January 12, 2007 10:02 AM (e)

It’s certainly true that the theory of evolution, although not actually hard to understand at a purely intellectual level, is widely misunderstood.

This is even true, sometimes, among its supporters (albeit much less commonly and much less eggregiously).

However, this trend is not independent of the political trend discussed above. If some people were not motivated, for reasons of political bias, to constantly make inaccurate claims about evolution, and if the media and publishing industry were not prone, no doubt also partly for political reasons, to give such claims excessive respect and coverage, there would be less misunderstanding.

I forgot to mention, above, the disturbing parallel between Soviet Lysenkoism and the embrace of ID by the current “conservative movement”. In each case, loyalty to a rigid ideology is made to demand, or at least strongly encourage, denial of scientific reality.

There has also been a historical tendency for people with a variety of viewpoints to claim that the theory of evolution, uniquely among scientific theories, somehow compels other people to adopt some particular behavior, attitude, or political stance. I would say that the theory of evolution could be said to indirectly add support for some public policy goals (not radically altering our own environment, taking antibiotic and pesticide resistance seriously, perhaps taking a prudently cautious approach to the initial introduction of genetically modified crops). In the same sense, the theory of gravity could be said to support requiring a high degree of safety precautions for passenger aircraft. Although claiming that one’s personal philosophy is justified or exiged by the theory of evolution is far less obnoxious than denying scientific reality to show loyalty to an ideology, this tendency, too, can promote misunderstanding of evolution.

Comment #154779

Posted by Les Lane on January 12, 2007 10:13 AM (e)

Acceptance of evolution is an indicator of development of analytical skills. These correlations suggest that failure to develop analytical skills is a factor in conservatism and a larger factor in fundamentalism.

Comment #154780

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 12, 2007 10:27 AM (e)

There are a great number of factors not accounted for in a survey like this one. This includes the “supposed to believe” effect, but extends to direct indoctrination in the colleges about what is “right” (don’t get me wrong, colleges are obliged to teach that it is a fact that life evolved—yet for many college grads, their “knowledge” goes no further than that), class effects, socialization, perceptions of what the “lower classes” are up to, and group economic interests.

The fact that a “well-educated” person is likely to be more liberal and more likely to accept evolutionary explanations has to be considered in light of a host of complex phenomena. Post hoc ergo propter hoc (“hoc” being the supposed greater reception of education among liberals) is no more appropriate on our side as it is for cosmological IDists (who are especially prone to it) or for biological IDists (yes, I know they’re typically one and the same, but not always). For just how long did leftists and liberals complain about the pretensions of conservative upper classes, who took pride in the relative uniformity of their “upper class virtues” which they ascribed to their “superior educations”?

The truth is that acceptance of science really has no apparent requisite linkage to political affiliations, hence it would be difficult to demonstrate that conservatism per se impedes the understanding of science (does this survey noticeably measure the actual understanding of science?), or that liberals are more receptive to science in general rather than more receptive to what professors tell them. It could be all, or none, of the above.

Studies have concluded that “liberals” were in the past more receptive to new theories like evolution, but also more receptive to new ideas like phrenology. On the whole this relatively greater openness might be thought to be more admirable, since an open-minded person would presumably find out eventually that phrenology was a crock while evolution was not. However, even if that can be considered to be a true advantage (and one would still have to parse out what makes one a “liberal”), it would on the face of it have little to do with a “better understanding of science”, rather it would reflect quite another value. One may understand established science quite well and be too conservative (I don’t mean in the political sense here, even if the political conservative might be more likely to be a scientific conservative) to think through a new scientific concept.

Of course, having said that, one should also point out that the IDists, along with the tendency of conservatives, is not to be “early adopters” or to consider new ideas. Apart from whether or not being an early adopter is “good”, it points up the fact that IDists aren’t “considering ID” because they are open to new ideas, but because they are not (nothing new there, however I’m pointing out that the studies have demonstrated this to be the case, vicariously). IDists aren’t even open to certain well-established ideas, really never thinking through evolutionary evidence to what they otherwise consider to be legitimate conclusions in paternity and copyright cases, or even in “microevolution”. The fact is that IDists are claiming to be the liberals on the issue of evolution, when they have typically never thought outside of their own little boxes.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154790

Posted by harold on January 12, 2007 11:42 AM (e)

If a political ideology is rigid enough that adherents will, in the face of a conflict between their positions and science, deny specific scientific findings, then such a political ideology will indeed interefere with understanding of science. Granted there may be some cognitive dissonance along the way.

The word “conservative” is ill-defined and has many meanings.

In the US, there is a group of people who are generally thought of as being the “conservative movement”. The ideological positions of this movement, exemplified by figures like Dick Cheney, are well-known and inflexible. Almost any American can quickly tell you the “conservative” opinion on many issues.

The cooption of the term “conservative”, and one political party, by this identifiable ideology took place over the last 15-30 years; prior to that, both major political parties were said to contain “liberals” and “conservatives”, and people could make statements like “I’m basically conservative but I support strong environmental regulations”. Today, such a statement in public would result in angry retorts that the speaker was not “really conservative”.

There are certainly reasonable, flexible people who do not belong to this “movement” whole-heartedly, and who consider themselves in some sense “conservative”, using the term the old-fashioned way. But if you ask an American whether they are “conservative”, they will understand that you are asking them whether they adhere to the widespread ideologic movement that currently goes by this name.

A number of “conservative movement” positions are in conflict with science. Hence, twenty years ago when I was in college, we thought of scientists as often being “conservative”; today, the image of scientists or science being dismissed by George Bush or other “conservative” political figures has become a staple of the editorial cartoonist.

ID is essentially an invention of, and an arm of, the “conservative movement”, and indeed, almost any mention of the DI in the media, however fawning, does refer to it as a “conservative” institute.

All members of the DI are “conservative”, virtually all politicians who ever introduced “ID in public schools” legislation, at every level of government, are “conservative” and belong to one political party.

The reason why a right wing ideology would invest in denying evolution is to broaden membership and fund-raising. Evangelicals are perhaps the most recent and least dependable, but also most numerous, members of the “conservative movement”. In the past, evangelicals often took “liberal” or even “left wing” stances on many issues - slavery, civil rights, minimum wage, social safety net programs - but today, in essence, economic and foreign policy right wingers pander to evangelical social concerns to create a “movement” large enough to get them into power.

Although I am not “conservative”, lest my words be thought to imply extreme political beliefs or be to excessively critical, I hasten to add that I am a firm believer in the capitalist system (I support sustainable, humane, capitalism coupled with democracy and human rights, and I am almost the opposite of “anti-business” or “anti-capitalist”.) This is irrelevant, but I am explaining for extra clarity.

If ID were a sincere crackpot belief rather than a political boondoggle, there would be no DI, no Cobb County, no Dover, no ID screed in an Ann Coulter book, etc.

Comment #154791

Posted by Peter on January 12, 2007 11:58 AM (e)

Harold,
For more thoughts on other parallels to Lysenkoism see my and other’s comments on an older thread:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/the_…

Comment #154792

Posted by Raging Bee on January 12, 2007 12:05 PM (e)

Please don’t confuse “conservative” with “right-wing ideologue.” A conservative is, simply put, one who wants to “conserve” – who is skeptical of new and radical ideas (not hostile, that would be a “reactionary”), and reluctant to abandon what he knows for what he does not know without considerable debate and study. There are plenty of conservatives who accept evolution, not because they understand it themselves, or are atheists, but because they understand it works, and what works is good. (They would probably accept General Relativity and Quantum Physics for the same reasons.) They want their kids to go to good schools and get good educations so they can get good jobs and benefit both themselves and their country; and if their teachers say evolution is solid, they’ll just accept what the trustworthy authorities and experts say, and let the teachers do their jobs.

Comment #154794

Posted by Gerard Harbison on January 12, 2007 12:16 PM (e)

The American “conservative movement” has been well-know, for at least 15-20 years, for demanding that “members” take the correct opinion on a wide variety of issues.

Really? Gosh, they must have been sending those demands to the wrong address, because I sure didn’t get one. Nor, apparently, did John Derbyshire, George Will, or Charles Krauthammer.

Comment #154796

Posted by Larry Gilman on January 12, 2007 12:33 PM (e)

Mr. Meyers,

I’m as “liberal” as a food stamp, myself—“left-wing radical” would be a more accurate label—but let me put in a word for the conservatives here, somewhat along the lines of Mr. Davidson’s comment:

Aren’t you jumping the inductive gun by using in your title the word “impedes,” as in “conservativism impedes the understanding of science”? That word appears to me to specify a causal relationship. But the data depicted do not establish a causal relationship, only a correlation. “Belief in evolution rises along with political liberalism, independently of control variables,” the authors of the Science letter are careful to say. It is the reader’s job to notice that only a handful of relevant variables are shown on this graph out of scores that might be easily imagined. (We should also note two of the variables considered are highly simplistic—political belief is projected onto three discrete values on a one-dimensional axis, religious belief onto a mere two.)

It is quite possible, for all these data tell us, that conservatism’s negative correlation with belief in evolution arises from some shared cause or complex of causes, rather than that “conservatism impedes the understanding of science.” Plus, “science” is way too broad a word for describing the meaning of a study that only examines beliefs about evolution—a study that, in fact (another quibble with your title), examines only belief in evolution, not understanding of evolution. There’s nothing here on the question of how many believers in evolution have a reasonable “understanding” of it and how many disbelievers do not. Although it might seem plausible to us (it does to me) that disbelievers in evolution would have a relatively low understanding rate compared to believers, this graph does not tell us. I would guess, based on the usual random conversational sample, that there is a fairly low “understanding” rate even among members of the general population who affirm the truth of evolution.

As for general ability to understand “science” or tendency to think scientifically, and their correlation of either or both with political attitudes, if we did a survey on the correlation between belief in chakras, energy healing, and the ability of microwave ovens to “kill qi” instead of a survey on evolution, would we find a higher rate of disbelief among self-identified liberals or conservatives? Self-identified fundamentalists or non-fundamentalists? And would disbelief in such things go up, or down, with educational level? I would not bet large sums on any of the answers.

Better title: “Political conservatism correlates strongly with disbelief in evolution.”

Sincerely,

Larry Gilman

Comment #154799

Posted by Al Moritz on January 12, 2007 1:14 PM (e)

What disturbs me is that even in the highest-educated group, grad school, not-fund, there are still 15-20 % of moderates or even liberals who do not acknowledge evolution. Is our science illiteracy really that bad?

Also disturbing is that in no less a magazine than Science there is a graph that speaks about “believing in evolution” - as if science is something you “believe” in (and no, as a Catholic I have no problem with the concept of believing per se).

Comment #154800

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 12, 2007 1:17 PM (e)

Dembski responds:

But why should disbelieving evolution reflect a lack of understanding of it? Alternatively, does understanding evolution automatically force one to believe it? I remember speaking at the University of Toronto in 2002 when a biologist challenged me about how holding to ID renders one a nonscientist. I asked him if that disqualified Isaac Newton from being a scientist. His instant response was, “but he didn’t know about evolution.”

Is it that ID proponents don’t understand evolution or that we understand it well enough and think it’s bogus?

Let’s put this in perspective, with a well-known Dembski quote:

If I ever became the president of a university (per impossibile), I would dissolve the biology department and divide the faculty with tenure that I couldn’t get rid of into two new departments: those who know engineering and how it applies to biological systems would be assigned to the new “Department of Biological Engineering”; the rest, and that includes the evolutionists, would be consigned to the new “Department of Nature Appreciation” (didn’t Darwin think of himself as a naturalist?).

Here’s Dembski stupidly saying that evolutionists don’t “know engineering” (yes, I know that there is a clause after it, however anyone who is knowledgeable knows that engineering doesn’t apply to biological systems, other than very recent human endeavors. So I can’t use such a dishonest clause to evaluate his accusation), a smear against both sensible engineers, your more “liberally” educated biologists, and bioengineers.

He still can’t think through the idea that Newton who had no scientific evidence for evolution was a (relatively) reasonable creationist in a way that one who has masses of such evidence is not, as per the earlier block quote.

More pointedly, here’s the yahoo who wants to persecute biologists and replace them with engineers, by theocratic dictate, who happens to be the same one who asks, “Is it that ID proponents don’t understand evolution or that we understand it well enough and think it’s bogus.”

Well Dembski, we haven’t seen you deal competently with any of the evidence, and your yes-men at UD haven’t done any better. You completely lack respect for good science and the evidentiary bases upon which all sound science rests. You have been shown repeatedly not to understand evolution at all well (any time you write about it, in fact) and to oppose sound empirical practices in favor of accepting meaningless speculations and/or traditions. Gee, why do we doubt that a science-banning “genius” who dreams of gaining the dictatorial power to destroy the sciences that you can’t discuss reasonably or argue away, is really just far too knowledgeable about evolution to accept it.

That you repeat all of this errant tripe ad nauseum without in the least answering your critics in a competent manner further indicates that you’re nothing but a would-be dictator who has no regard for undesirable truths (small “t” of course). That I can’t post this at UD only clinches this conclusion.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154806

Posted by harold on January 12, 2007 1:41 PM (e)

Gerard Harbison -

The figures you mention have sometimes deviated, in my mind almost trivially and perhaps in a “token dissent” way, from lockstep support of every single position of a very clearly defined ideology. And there are a few “movement conservatives” (possibly including these) who don’t like ID.

As for not getting the message - I mean seriously, you’ve got to be kidding. Fox News, AM radio, the editorial page of the otherwise excellent Wall Street Journal, the token “conservative” commentator in every local newspaper (eg David Brooks in the NY Times, Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe, the ones you mentioned 95% of the time, etc, etc, etc), the conservative talking heads featured on every news commentary show on every station (Ann Coulter and her many imitators) - they all missed you somehow? You must be admirably shielded from media influence.

Raging Bee - I am trying to fair and acknowledge that some people who are not right wing ideologues define themselves as conservative, and that the work once had a broader meaning.

At the same time, let’s admit it, all right wing ideologues always refer to themselves as “conservatives”, and increasingly, the people who call themselves “conservative” mean that they are right wing ideologues.

The right wing has coopted the term.

If someone under 35 were to tell me that they were “conservative”, and they meant anything else, I’d be astounded.

Comment #154809

Posted by harold on January 12, 2007 1:50 PM (e)

Again, the sole reason that this stuff is relevant is that ID is a political entity.

It’s almost trivial to state it. Scientists who make legitimate discoveries don’t bypass peer review, publish books for laymen, insist that their ideas be taught in public high school science, and secretly circulate “wedge documents” confessing a social and political motivation.

In fact, even honest, well-meaning, misguided crackpots don’t act that way. I don’t see anybody trying to use the courts and legislature to force astrology, UFOlogy, homeopathy, or phrenology into public schools. Nor do the adherents of these belong to a single homogenous political ideology.

ID is exclusively a creature of political entities - its proponents are active almost exclusively in courtrooms, legislatures, glossy news magazines, editorial columns, talk shows, staged debates, and privately funded “conservative institutes”.

Comment #154822

Posted by Mike Elzinga on January 12, 2007 2:43 PM (e)

Conservatives have generally had a respectable history in politics, and there have been many well-educated and articulate advocates of conservatism.

However, the conservative movement, as it has been co-opted by the likes of Ann Coulter (The Whore of Babble On and On and …), William Dembski, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, et. al. of the same stripe, is nothing more than bigotry gussied up to make it appear to be respectably based on reason and science. Coulter’s book, “Godless”, is a condescending sneer at anyone who doesn’t agree with her religious beliefs. It is the prototype of most of the pronouncements and commentaries of the others in that crowd.

To extend the phrase that has been applied to intelligent design, modern conservatism is nothing more than bigotry dressed up in a cheap tuxedo.

Comment #154824

Posted by Arden Chatfield on January 12, 2007 2:54 PM (e)

The American “conservative movement” has been well-know, for at least 15-20 years, for demanding that “members” take the correct opinion on a wide variety of issues.

Really? Gosh, they must have been sending those demands to the wrong address, because I sure didn’t get one. Nor, apparently, did John Derbyshire, George Will, or Charles Krauthammer.

This retort makes as much sense (i.e., none) as saying that the Republican agenda can’t be homophobic because Andrew Sullivan is gay.

Comment #154827

Posted by normdoering on January 12, 2007 3:17 PM (e)

harold wrote:

… admit it, all right wing ideologues always refer to themselves as “conservatives”, and increasingly, the people who call themselves “conservative” mean that they are right wing ideologues.

That is something even the conservative and (most of the time) reasonably rational Andrew Sullivan would agree with – conservativism has been hijacked by “Christianists.” He’s got a book on that “The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back”:
http://www.amazon.com/Conservative-Soul-How-Lost…

Sullivan is one of those exceptions that proves the rule.
(I think Sullivan use to be what Sam Harris called an enabler - but he might be figuring out how to be Christian and not an enabler – something Harris needs to take account of)

The data PZ presents does not establish a cause and effect relationship (conservativism causes ignorance of science) - but there is such a cause and effect relationship and it’s working both ways in a nasty feed-back loop. Chris Monney established a good part of that in “The Republican War on Science.”

Comment #154833

Posted by normdoering on January 12, 2007 3:24 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

There are plenty of conservatives who accept evolution, not because they understand it themselves, or are atheists, but because they understand it works, and what works is good. (They would probably accept General Relativity and Quantum Physics for the same reasons.)

Those are exactly the kind of people that the Dembski, the Discovery Institute and Ann Coulter have been targeting with their PR moves. They want to create the illusion that ID is real science to catch those people who don’t really understand it.

Comment #154835

Posted by KL on January 12, 2007 3:27 PM (e)

Wouldn’t it be nice if “rational” conservatives like George Will called some of these others on the carpet for their crackpot ideas! After all, George Will, I recall, said that ID wasn’t science in a column he wrote. I hate to lump him in with the Right Wing, because it is clear that he does his homework before he forms an opinion.

Comment #154837

Posted by Raging Bee on January 12, 2007 3:41 PM (e)

Maybe so, but a sensible conservative does not need to understand evolution in order to understand that ID is useless nonsense. And, in fact, MANY conservatives are rejecting ID (and Bush) for precisely that reason.

Comment #154847

Posted by Gerard Harbison on January 12, 2007 4:12 PM (e)

As for not getting the message - I mean seriously, you’ve got to be kidding. Fox News, AM radio, the editorial page of the otherwise excellent Wall Street Journal, the token “conservative” commentator in every local newspaper (eg David Brooks in the NY Times, Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe, the ones you mentioned 95% of the time, etc, etc, etc), the conservative talking heads featured on every news commentary show on every station (Ann Coulter and her many imitators) - they all missed you somehow?

David Brooks is pro-evolution.

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w050704&s=adl…

As the link indicates, there is a consdierable diversity of opinion on the right about evolution.

Facts are wonderful things, and less boring, on the whole, than long-winded rants against political opponents.

Comment #154849

Posted by Gerard Harbison on January 12, 2007 4:22 PM (e)

General comment: it’s not a novel observation that conservatives in the US tend to include libertarian conservatives, who in Europe would be called ‘liberals’, and ‘social conservatives’. The two united under the Republican banner because of an apparent common interest in smaller government. The social conservatives were more numerous, and their claimed interest in smaller government was belied by the pig-at-a-trough spending of the last few Congresses, and by their promotion of an anti-freedom agenda. The GOP is currently in the process of fracturing, as libertarian conservatives more-or-less deserted it in the 2006 elections.

Now it may seem that the disenchantment of libertarians with the GOP might be a wonderful way to attract them to the Dems, but alas, the Dems are doing very little to help. Pushing socialized medicine, tax increases, etc., will drive libertarians right back to the GOP, as the lesser of two evils. And it’s hard for me to see, say, John Dingell as pro-science. He’s anti-science in a different way from Rick Santorum, that’s all.

Comment #154851

Posted by Kristine on January 12, 2007 4:28 PM (e)

Well… so much for the last hope of avoiding the politicising of science…

Of course science is political. Everything is. Art is, whether or not the work makes a “political statement.” It’s about choices–the choice to seek an answer rather than just accept one, the choice to create something rather than celebrate what has already been created, etc. The apolitical person or object is one that does not exist.

Dembski: But why should disbelieving evolution reflect a lack of understanding of it?

William Dembski! How many times have I seen you yak-yakking on the Web: “I’m not an antievolutionist! I believe in evolution! You don’t have to be a creationist to believe in intelligent design.” Oh, yes you do. You are a creationist, sir. Fess up.

Comment #154857

Posted by vhutchison on January 12, 2007 4:56 PM (e)

See ‘Conservatives Against Intelligent Design’ mission statement, signatures, etc., at:

http://www.caidweb.org/blog/

Comment #154863

Posted by normdoering on January 12, 2007 5:04 PM (e)

Gerard Harbison wrote:

David Brooks is pro-evolution.

So is Charles Krauthammer:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/art…

Comment #154872

Posted by normdoering on January 12, 2007 5:15 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Maybe so, but a sensible conservative does not need to understand evolution in order to understand that ID is useless nonsense. And, in fact, MANY conservatives are rejecting ID (and Bush) for precisely that reason.

And let’s not forget that uber-liberal Deepak Chopra has fallen hook, line and sinker for ID arguments:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/surv…

Comment #154885

Posted by MarkP on January 12, 2007 5:57 PM (e)

Speaking as a former libertarian-who-holds-his-nose-and-votes Republican, the thing that has made the difference to me and my likeminded friends has been a perceived shift in the science and data driven edge, from the Republicans to the Democrats. In the 80’s and much of the 90’s, you didn’t have to listen to Democrats talk much about guns, affirmative action, human nature, or the environment to find plentiful errors of logic and statistical analysis, if not outright denial of facts. That attitude has shifted, it seems, to the Republicans, perhaps starting with the continued blinkered support of the Laffer curve, and the more egregious errors we’ve seen recently with regard to evolutions, stem cells, and global warming.

If we may wax simplistic and look at things as either/or, the liberals have an advantage over the conservatives. The assumptions they hold that lead to their errors tend to be more flexible and open to change (eg, the blank slate), because after all, they are liberals. Questioning authority is an inherent part of the mindset. Dogma is more comfortable among Republicans, usually via fundamentalist religion, and that stays stuck in the same mud forever. Time is passing them by, and I predict it will get way worse long before it gets better, until the fundamentalist religious influence becomes no more pronounced than the astrological one.

Comment #154912

Posted by k.e. on January 12, 2007 8:02 PM (e)

Well everyone is dancing around the obvious; liberals are smarter,prettier and are better in bed.

Comment #154917

Posted by John Krehbiel on January 12, 2007 9:31 PM (e)

I have argued with many creationists, and have never met one who understood evolution. It’s usually hard to tell if their misunderstandings are deliberate or not, but the most common one, to which they desperately cling, is that “evolution” is somehow to be equated with “random mutation.”

Comment #154918

Posted by DrSteveB on January 12, 2007 9:39 PM (e)

I thought you might like this story out of Seattle

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/299253_incon…

Federal Way schools restrict Gore film
‘Inconvenient Truth’ called too controversial
(creationist parents object)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

By ROBERT MCCLURE AND LISA STIFFLER
P-I REPORTERS

NOTE: This story has been altered since it was originally published. The computer program Al Gore uses to present scientists’ findings in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” is Keynote. A competing software program’s name was mentioned in the earlier version of the story.

This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert “An Inconvenient Truth.”

After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a computer presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists’ findings.

Paramount Classics
Al Gore’s documentary about global warming may not be shown unless the teacher also presents an “opposing view.”
“Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is…. The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

Hardison’s e-mail to the School Board prompted board member David Larson to propose the moratorium Tuesday night.

“Somebody could say you’re killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we’re encouraging free speech,” said Larson, a lawyer. “The beauty of our society is we allow debate.”

School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a “credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented,” that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an “opposing view.”

The requirement to represent another side follows district policy to represent both sides of a controversial issue, board President Ed Barney said.

“What is purported in this movie is, ‘This is what is happening. Period. That is fact,’ “ Barney said.

Students should hear the perspective of global-warming skeptics and then make up their minds, he said. After they do, “if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that’s fine, that’s their choice.”

Asked whether an alternative explanation for evolution should be presented by teachers, Barney said it would be appropriate to tell students that other beliefs exist. “It’s only a theory,” he said.

While the question of climate change has provoked intense argument in political circles in recent years, among scientists its basic tenets have become the subject of an increasingly stronger consensus.

“In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations,” states a 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises policymakers.

“Furthermore, it is very likely that the 20th-century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea level rise, through thermal expansion of seawater and widespread loss of land ice.”

The basics of that position are backed by the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.

Laurie David, a co-producer of the movie, said that this is the first incident of its kind relating to the film.

“I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision,” David said in a prepared statement. “There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now.”

The Federal Way incident started when Hardison learned that his daughter would see the movie in class. He objected.

Hardison and his wife, Gayla, said they would prefer that the movie not be shown at all in schools.

“From what I’ve seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of ‘bad America, bad America,’ I don’t think it should be shown at all,” Gayle Hardison said. “If you’re going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don’t think the video should be shown.”

Scientists say that Americans, with about 5 percent of the world’s population, emit about 25 percent of the globe-warming gases.

Larson, the School Board member, said a pre-existing policy should have alerted teachers and principals that the movie must be counterbalanced.

The policy, titled “Controversial Issues, Teaching of,” says in part, “It is the teacher’s responsibility to present controversial issues that are free from prejudice and encourage students to form, hold and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination.”

“The principal reason for that is to make sure that the public schools are not used for indoctrination,” Larson said.

Students contacted Wednesday said they favor allowing the movie to be shown.

“I think that a movie like that is a really great way to open people’s eyes up about what you can do and what you are doing to the planet and how that’s going to affect the human race,” said Kenna Patrick, a senior at Jefferson High School.

When it comes to the idea of presenting global warming skeptics, Patrick wasn’t sure how necessary that would be. She hadn’t seen the movie but had read about it and would like to see it.

“Watching a movie doesn’t mean that you have to believe everything you see in it,” she said.

Joan Patrick, Kenna’s mother, thought it would be a good idea for students to see the movie. They are the ones who will be dealing with the effects of a warmer planet.

“It’s their job,” she said. “They’re the next generation.”

————–

P-I reporter Robert McClure can be reached at 206-448-8092 or [Enable javascript to see this email address.].

© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Comment #154920

Posted by KL on January 12, 2007 10:06 PM (e)

““The principal reason for that is to make sure that the public schools are not used for indoctrination,” Larson said.”

Curses! We’ve been found out, boys!

Now that the public knows that indoctrination is the primary goal of schools, no one will believe anything we teach.

Comment #154925

Posted by Al Moritz on January 13, 2007 1:37 AM (e)

John Krebiel wrote:

I have argued with many creationists, and have never met one who understood evolution. It’s usually hard to tell if their misunderstandings are deliberate or not, but the most common one, to which they desperately cling, is that “evolution” is somehow to be equated with “random mutation.”

I recently caught two atheists with that same - very convinced - misunderstanding on the discuss-anything-section of a classical music discussion board (and could not resist mocking them for that, saying that it amuses me when atheists claim that science supports their philosophical position, but do not know very well at all what science actually says). It shows indeed that even strong “supporters of evolution” with little science background do not necessarily understand the science.

Comment #154926

Posted by Al Moritz on January 13, 2007 2:06 AM (e)

(Sorry, John, for misspelling your last name.)

Comment #154927

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 2:19 AM (e)

liberals are smarter,prettier and are better in bed.

Yeah, but conservatives make more money, which makes up for all that, and more.

Comment #154968

Posted by Laser on January 13, 2007 8:44 AM (e)

Wouldn’t it be nice if “rational” conservatives like George Will called some of these others on the carpet for their crackpot ideas! After all, George Will, I recall, said that ID wasn’t science in a column he wrote. I hate to lump him in with the Right Wing, because it is clear that he does his homework before he forms an opinion.

Not always. In an end-of-year column that was published in Newsweek (and probably other places, but I can’t find it online), George Will argued that because global warming claims more frequent and stronger hurricanes and that there weren’t as many hurricanes as was predicted for 2006, then global warming isn’t real. He doesn’t do his homework–he’s largely clueless about science. True, he supports evolution, but I doubt he could articulate why.

Comment #154969

Posted by Dan Gaston on January 13, 2007 8:47 AM (e)

I’ve often gotten into “discussions” concerning Evolution and Intelligent Design over at Fark.com, where the subject comes up almost weekly. Frequently, as a graduate student working in a molecular evolution lab, I find myself constantly correcting gross misunderstandings of evolutionary theory on such a basic level that I can never get to the point of discussing much more complex issues on the subject of why ID is bad. I don’t read over on UD too much because frankly I know that any of my corrections would just get me banned from posting there. And of course I would be the one accused of misunderstanding evolutionary theory.

Comment #154990

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2007 12:37 PM (e)

This is a bit confusing for me. Being in the UK I do not understand what the colloquial meaning of the terms Conservative and Liberal that are being used in this discussion.

Could anyone direct me to a site which explains these terms as the majority of commenters here understand them please?

Some of the ideas/people considered “Conservative” here would be classed as “Nationalist”, “Fascist” or “Religious fundamentalist” over here. Likewise for “Liberal” except it would be “Socialist” etc.

Comment #154999

Posted by PvM on January 13, 2007 1:39 PM (e)

These are very interesting findings and show that belief (and understanding of) evolution rise with education, political position and religious position. While some may argue that acceptance of evolution is not equivalent with understanding, it seems clear that ignorance and acceptance of evolution go hand in hand. Especially since groups like ID are pushing for a definition of evolution which places it head to head with religion even though evolution as defined and understood properly have little to fear from eachother.

Sure, evolution is explained in ‘purely natural terms’ but that neither excludes nor includes an intelligent designer. In fact, as Febble and others have argued, said designer by definition of ID proponents may very well be natural selection.

It’s ID and other religious groups which insist on promoting ignorance that suffer from people with increased schooling as such people quickly come to realize the vacuity of ID as well as the scientific status of evolution. Note that the question also does not involve necessarily Darwinian evolution but merely ‘evolution’, and more specifically ‘human evolution’. In other words, it is ignorance which explains the observed data, not familiarity with the data and a scientific rejection thereof as the data supporting human evolution is well established.

So what drives this ignorance? For one, religious forces have infiltrated conservatism and are using it for their own purposes. This is regrettable for various reasons as it undermines conservatism and exposes theology to unnecessary risks. In other words, this intermingling of political and religious viewpoints causes significant concerns to both politics and religion. Policy is no longer based on rationale political thought but based on faith based presumptions which force the political foundations to be ignored at the expense of religious dogma. Similarly, religion exposes itself unnecessarily to political actions. Good examples include global warming, Ozone hole, and even such issues as tobacco and big oil. All of which seem to be pushing the ID approach of ignorance and ‘doubt’, not for the sake of education but for the sake of promoting a political and religious path, often at the expense of politics and religion alike. Or in the case of ID also at the cost of science and education. In the poll’s data we once again see clearly how ignorance correlates with rejection of science and how religiosity correlates with ignorance.
We have seen various examples of how religious organizations and people are misled by ID’s ‘teachings’ and believe that there is indeed a scientific foundation for intelligent design, or that there truely exists a controversy ala ID.
As such, ID is not only doing a major disservice to science (although it likely does not really care) as well as to religion (although it may not even care either). Nevertheless, the cost of ID’s approach may very well be expressed in the surge of interest in atheism and agnosticism and a skepticism towards religion. ID’s major success seems to have been to educate and direct the youth to these sources.

Comment #155004

Posted by Arden Chatfield on January 13, 2007 2:23 PM (e)

liberals are smarter,prettier and are better in bed.

Yeah, but conservatives make more money, which makes up for all that, and more.

The American South refutes this particular theory.

Comment #155006

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 2:25 PM (e)

In the 80’s and much of the 90’s, you didn’t have to listen to Democrats talk much about guns, affirmative action, human nature, or the environment to find plentiful errors of logic and statistical analysis, if not outright denial of facts. That attitude has shifted, it seems, to the Republicans, perhaps starting with the continued blinkered support of the Laffer curve, and the more egregious errors we’ve seen recently with regard to evolutions, stem cells, and global warming

The left is still denies facts just as much as it did in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. For example, they still keep doggedly trying to raise the minimum wage, despite the mountains of evidence that it creates unemployment among the poorest and most vulnerable workers. They want the government to “negotiate” with drug companies, despite the fact that private insurers already do it, and the CBO found that government negotiation wouldn’t do anything to alter drug prices. They lobby for price controls, despite the fact that this only creates shortages. They demogogue corporations for making large profits, ignoring that profit is necessary in order to attract investment, and that profits in risky industries (like oil exploration and production) must be high in good times in order to offset the losses they make in bad times. They deny the obvious reality that our runaway entitlement programs, with their massive unfunded liabilities, are going to within a decade create a fiscal crises the likes of which our country has never seen.

The left is just as bad about making erronous claims about embryonic stem cells. The only difference is they exaggerate their potential, rather than downplay them. They also make false claims about ethical alternatives, like the recent political attack on use of amniotic stem cells.

BTW, there’s plenty of evidence for the Laffer Curve, which simply postulates that tax revenue is a concave, non-monotonic function of tax rates. No serious economist will deny that there is a point at which tax revenue will start to decrease when you increase tax rates. This is not controversial. What is controversial is the precise shape of the curve, as well as the location of the critical point. Yes, the right tends to erroneously argue that the critical point comes at a low tax rate, and that the curve is more concave than it actually is. However, I don’t think that’s as bad as what the left does, which is to deny the existence of both the critical point and the concavity.

Comment #155007

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 2:43 PM (e)

The American South refutes this particular theory.

Nope. Poor people in the South also tend to vote for for liberals, though not in as high proportions as in other places. There are obviously outliers and exceptions, but the overall correlation between income and conservatie voting habits is very strong and undeniable. Look it up.

Comment #155008

Posted by Arden Chatfield on January 13, 2007 3:05 PM (e)

Nope. Poor people in the South also tend to vote for for liberals, though not in as high proportions as in other places. There are obviously outliers and exceptions, but the overall correlation between income and conservative voting habits is very strong and undeniable. Look it up.

Yeah, Alabama and Mississippi are quite the hotbed of liberal politics. Poor whites there all voted for Kerry in ‘04. Wild-eyed radicals.

Yawn.

Comment #155013

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 3:26 PM (e)

Arden Chatfield wrote:

Yeah, Alabama and Mississippi are quite the hotbed of liberal politics. Poor whites there all voted for Kerry in ‘04.

Thank you for providing me with yet another example of how liberals deny reality.

Yes, poor people in Alabama voted for Kerry. 58% of people making less than $15,000 voted for him. In Mississippi it was 63%. Like everywhere else, the proportion voting for Bush was a monotone increasing function in income. Look at the results yourself:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/s…

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/s…

The national polls strongly support the hypothesis that that the wealthier you are, the more likley you were to vote for Bush in 2004:

VOTE BY INCOME
BUSH KERRY NADER

Under $15,000 (8%) 36% 63% 0%

$15-30,000 (15%) 42% 57% 0%

$30-50,000 (22%) 49% 50% 0%

$50-75,000 (23%) 56% 43% 0%

$75-100,000 (14%) 55% 45% 0%

$100-150,000 (11%) 57% 42% 1%

$150-200,000 (4%) 58% 42% *

$200,000 or More (3%)63% 35% 1%

Comment #155014

Posted by Arden Chatfield on January 13, 2007 3:30 PM (e)

I find it interesting (tho predictable) how you’re ignoring the huge causal connection between race and voting patterns in the south. In the south, race is a much better determiner of voting patterns than class – southern blacks vote Democratic, southern whites vote Republican. And blacks constitute a disproportionate number of the poor people in the South.

Thanks for providing me with another example of how conservatives deny reality.

Comment #155018

Posted by normdoering on January 13, 2007 4:00 PM (e)

Adam wrote:

The left … still keep doggedly trying to raise the minimum wage, despite the mountains of evidence that it creates unemployment among the poorest and most vulnerable workers.

We should never have let those slaves free, at least they had jobs and were taken care of.

By the way, where is this evidence? Might it be of the same quality as the evidence against global climate change or as good as the “mountains of evidence” for Intelligent Design? Might it come from the same think tanks that produced that evidence?

Sure, a simplistic classical economic analysis of supply and demand says that a minimum wage law should cause unemployment because a greater number of workers are willing to work at the higher wage while a smaller numbers of jobs will be available at the higher wage. Companies can be more selective and the least skilled and unexperienced will get excluded.

However, there are many other variables that complicate the issue and Republicans generally want cheap labor and might like to drive it towards the slave quality employment we have to compete with in China and such places.

Economists do disagree about the impact of minimum wages in the real world. You’re selecting the economists you like. Have you really looked at both sides? I doubt it.

Comment #155034

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 6:01 PM (e)

Arden Chatfield wrote:

I find it interesting (tho predictable) how you’re ignoring the huge causal connection between race and voting patterns in the south.

Gee, that’s really interesting, since we were talking about income and not race. I find it interesting how you have ignored all the income data I’ve posted to date.

In the south, race is a much better determiner of voting patterns than class – southern blacks vote Democratic, southern whites vote Republican.

Yes, the correlation between race and political affiliation is stronger than is the correlation with income, especially in the South. Where did I deny it? That doesn’t mean that the correlation with income doesn’t exist; it’s there too, even if you control the race, albeit not as strong. Both factors are imporant. It’s not as if this is an either/or question. Haven’t you ever heard of a multivariable function?

And blacks constitute a disproportionate number of the poor people in the South.

They’re a disproportionate number of poor people everywhere, but what does that have to do with the correlation between income and conservative voting patterns? The correlation is still there even if you control for race.

Comment #155039

Posted by David B. Benson on January 13, 2007 6:33 PM (e)

adam, et al. — Is not this rather far off the topic?

Maybe the several of you could agree on an appropriate blog for this (to me, dull) discussion?

Comment #155047

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 7:02 PM (e)

normdoering wrote:

We should never have let those slaves free, at least they had jobs and were taken care of.

Wow. What faulty logic. The difference here is that the minimum wage takes away jobs from people who are willing to work at a lower wage. These people have a choice. The slaves had no choice.

If you want to help the poor, there are much more efficient ways of doing it than pricing them out of the labor market. The earned income tax credit is one, and it was a Republican proposal, BTW. Direct subsideis to low wage workers financed through payroll taxes is another proposed by 2006 Nobel prize winner Edmund Phelps (who was also my honors thesis advisor in college).

By the way, where is this evidence?

Peer-reviwed mainstream economics journals like the Journal of Labor Economics. Here’s just a small sampling of articles:

Brukehauser, Couch, and Wittenberg (2000). “A Reassessment of the New Economics of the Minimum Wage with Monthly Data from the Current Population Survey. Journal of Labor Economics 18, 653-680.

Wessels (2005). “Does the minimum Wage Drive Teenagers Out of the Labor Force?” Journal of Labor Research 26, 170-176.

Campolieti, Fang, and Gunderson (2005). “Minimum Wage Impacts on Youth Employment.” Journal of Canadian Economics 38, 81-104.

Might it be of the same quality as the evidence against global climate change or as good as the “mountains of evidence” for Intelligent Design?
Might it come from the same think tanks that produced that evidence?

Nope. The evidence has been produced by mainstream scholars at prestigeous universities.

However, there are many other variables that complicate the issue

Yes, but the empirical evidence shows that the other variables don’t have a first order effect.

and Republicans generally want cheap labor and might like to drive it towards the slave quality employment we have to compete with in China and such places.

What does this have to do with the minimum wage?

Economists do disagree about the impact of minimum wages in the real world.

There’s less disagreement about the minimum wage among economists than there is disagreement among climate scientists about global warming. There are a handful of dissenters, led by Card and Kreuger, who produced a couple studies in the mid 1990’s that challenged the conventional wisdom. Their studies have been thoroughly discredited and no one takes them seriously any more.

You’re selecting the economists you like. Have you really looked at both sides?

Yes. If you don’t believe me, search econlit for “minimum wage.” You will find that pretty much all the empirical studies since the late 1990’s conclude the minimum wage adversly affects unemployment and labor force participation. You might find one or two contrary articles in some fringe journals, but that’s about it.

Comment #155048

Posted by Adam on January 13, 2007 7:04 PM (e)

David: Sorry, it’s strayed off topic. Originally I just wanted to show that liberals also abuse and deny scientific reality, just in other areas. But it’s now strayed. I apologize. I will cease and disist.

Comment #155055

Posted by Kenny Gee on January 13, 2007 7:42 PM (e)

A recent tread on “overwhelmingevidence.com” shows that the level of understanding of evolution by your average Idist is very small. This tread http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com/oe/blog/hbla… has them wanting to group Tassie tigers with wolves better still whales in with fish? These non creationist don’t seem to spend much time arguing against the mainly creationist poster on their blogs. In fact I’ve yet to read anything from IDer’s what there theory is, how it differs from say old earth creationist let alone young earth creationist?

Comment #155063

Posted by DONNA RED WING on January 13, 2007 9:24 PM (e)

First Freedom First works to ensure academic integrity!!! SIGN THE PETITION!
www.firstfreedomfirst.org

Public schools must give our children the best possible education, without preferring one religious tradition over others. Nearly 90 percent of our nation’s students receive their K-12 education in public schools funded with our tax dollars.

Safeguarding separation of church and state and protecting religious liberty ensures that public tax dollars will not be invested in teaching religion as science or funding private religious education. Some advocacy groups want to change the science curriculum to reflect their religious beliefs. However, mainstream scientists flatly reject “intelligent design” and other forms of “creationism” as a thinly veiled attempt to bring religion into public schools.

The battle here is political, not scientific. Other advocacy groups seek to divert public funds to private religious schools through vouchers and other means. Americans must be free to contribute to the religious groups of their choosing. We should never be taxed to support religion. Vouchers and other similar programs violate this freedom by forcing us to support religious education. These programs also damage our children’s education by diverting critically needed money away from public schools. Safeguarding the separation of church and state and protecting religious liberty ensures that none of us are coerced into funding religious education through our taxes, just as it guarantees people freedom to privately fund religious education if they wish.

Comment #155067

Posted by normdoering on January 13, 2007 10:25 PM (e)

Either I put too many links in my last post or I’m not being allowed to go off topic.

I’ll cut back on what I wanted to say.

Adam wrote:

We should never have let those slaves free, at least they had jobs and were taken care of.

Wow. What faulty logic.

It wasn’t meant to be logic. It’s a snarky metaphor you apparently don’t get. It suggests the concept of “wage slavery”:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_slavery

The difference here is that the minimum wage takes away jobs from people who are willing to work at a lower wage. These people have a choice. The slaves had no choice.

People who have to work at low wages have less choice than you seem to think. If you can’t survive by working at any job you can find, then you rely on hand outs or you turn to crime.

I think there should be a minimum wage you can survive well at. Maybe there should be exceptions for kids living at home, “guest workers” from other countries and people on welfare. Some defined pool of labor that isn’t exploited by low wages and get some other safe guards.

…and Republicans generally want cheap labor and might like to drive it towards the slave quality employment we have to compete with in China and such places.

What does this have to do with the minimum wage?

Whoa… did you just admit Republicans want the kind of cheap labor found in the slave quality employment of sweat shops found in some other countries?

You’re not going to argue against that claim?

As for what it has to do with the minimum wage, the minimum wage is about protecting people from the kind of exploitation you can foist on desperate people with few choices. Anyone who has to work below that line needs help, not a job in a sweat shop.

Comment #155068

Posted by Michael J on January 13, 2007 10:26 PM (e)

Adam
“The left is still denies facts just as much as it did in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. For example, they still keep doggedly trying to raise the minimum wage, despite the mountains of evidence that it creates unemployment among the poorest and most vulnerable workers.”

Evidence? Studies done by Australian Universities found that the evidence pointed to the opposite. There was no correlation with minimum wages and employment levels. It makes sense when you think about it. For unskilled work an employer will tend to pay the least he can and pocket the profit, they’ll rarely if ever put on more people.

Michael

Comment #155072

Posted by Michael J on January 13, 2007 10:32 PM (e)

Posted without looking forward. The following link has some details from an Australian perspective, which shows that the costs are minimal

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article…

Comment #155078

Posted by MarkP on January 14, 2007 12:12 AM (e)

Adam:

Apologies for being unclear. My reference to the Laffar curve was in regard to the oft-repeated Republican claim (chanted like a mantra by Limbaugh) that “revenues doubled” in the 80’s as a result of the Laffar-justifed tax cuts. Omce adjusted for inflation, however, there is no such effect as I once justifed for myself. If you doubt me, I suggest you get ahold of the figures and do the calculations yourself.

As for the other issues you raise, I submit that you are treating areas of thought as closed when they are in fact vigorously debated by experts in the field. Nothing you mentioned has the kind of factual backing, or near-universal support by experts in the field, that evolution carries, and that global warming is gaining. Liberals may be wrong on some issues right now, but I don’t know of one where they flat ignore well-documented objective data as the Republicans seem to make a habit of these days, and that is why they are losing people like me.

My apologies for the OT effect of my post. I thought it might set off an inappropriate political debate. My bad.

Comment #155134

Posted by harold on January 14, 2007 10:02 AM (e)

Gerard Harbison wrote -

“David Brooks is pro-evolution.

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w050704&s=adl…

As the link indicates, there is a consdierable diversity of opinion on the right about evolution.

Facts are wonderful things, and less boring, on the whole, than long-winded rants against political opponents.”

The facts are exactly as I stated them, even if David Brooks is a member of a handful of conservative columnists who have been at least enlightened enough to oppose some of the most objectively ludicrous claptrap. Naturally, I applaud them for accepting reality on this point.

Certainly the link indicates diversity of opinion - a few right wingers “courageously” acknowledge basic, mainstream scientific theories - it’s just that right wingers are massively more likely to “deny evolution” under pressure of political ideology than are people who call themselves “liberal” or “moderate”.

My other, related point - that ID was invented by the “conservative movement”, for the “conservative movement”, that it is almost exclusively a political entity - remains (in other words, even if not all conservatives are ID advocates, virtually all ID advocates are conservatives, and disturbingly many conservatives claim to accept ID). My posts contain passages of devastating evidence for this, but Gerard Harbison chose not to “box” those passages. It was invented by conservatives, conservatives were “told” to accept it as part of their ideology, and although a few columnists out of thousands raised meek objections, the data supports that this may be what happened. It was invented to pander to evangelicals, and obviously, the data supports this conclusion as well.

What’s remarkable is not that a small proportion of conservatives acknowledge basic, fundamental science. What’s remarkable and disturbing is that adherence to this political ideology is associated with denying basic science for political reasons.

By the way, arguing that some “liberals” or “moderates” accept some other pseudoscience would be meaningless here. There’s no tailored, politically motivated pseudoscience aimed at those groups. Incidentally, making a comment about climate science here would be most telling.

It’s also critical to note that ID should not be compared to sincere, well-meaning pseudoscience like astrology or UFOlogy, or the like, things which find adherents across the political spectrum. As I mentioned above, and have mentioned before, these more innocent movements merely seek to “add to” scientific reality (in a misguided way) rather than deny it, distort it, and lie about it to school children at taxpayer expense.

I admitted that I am not “conservative” for the sake of full disclosure and honesty, but that really is irrelevant. Even if I were an advocate of numerous right wing policies, the political nature of ID that I have pointed out remains true. Naturally, you can dispute this, simply by showing that a census or correctly selected random sample of ID advocates is not enriched in, or indeed, almost exclusively composed of, “conservatives”. Of course, the article above is a already a stumbling block for such an effort.

Of course, even if you could do that, you’d still be hard-pressed to explain why ID advocates operate in the media, courtrooms, and legislatures, rather than in laboratories, the field, or research libraries.

But I have a more important question, one which will tell a great deal if answered, one which I suspect you will not answer. What is YOUR “opinion” on the matter, Gerard Harbison? Never mind David Brooks. How do you feel about the relative merits of ID versus the theory of evolution?

Comment #155136

Posted by Chris on January 14, 2007 10:23 AM (e)

I’m just a layman, but I think I understand that certain people misconstrue the 2nd law when they don’t realize that without it there’s nothing to fuel life. But, what about the whole? I mean, since the 2nd law also fuels stars, galaxies, etc., and if the universe as a whole is a closed system, then, isn’t the universe as a whole gradually losing it’s capacity to fuel (anything)?

If so, then wouldn’t that mean that the universe could not have existed forever, because if it had it would have ‘run out of gas’ by now? And, would such considerations also apply to a ‘multiverse’ or, would it be said that such a thing would have laws that don’t require fuel to get work done, or, that fuel is somehow (like a perpetual motion machine?) eternally replenished, or…?

If the answer to this is something like the mulitiverse got fuel from prior multiverses, etc., then does the fallacy of infinite regress come into play here? I mean, is it proper to ask where everything came from in the first place?

Comment #155148

Posted by tag on January 14, 2007 10:49 AM (e)

It’s Situational Scienceman!

http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.…

Comment #155157

Posted by William E Emba on January 14, 2007 11:33 AM (e)

Chris wrote:

I’m just a layman, but I think I understand that certain people misconstrue the 2nd law when they don’t realize that without it there’s nothing to fuel life. But, what about the whole? I mean, since the 2nd law also fuels stars, galaxies, etc., and if the universe as a whole is a closed system, then, isn’t the universe as a whole gradually losing it’s capacity to fuel (anything)?

Questions about the universe as a whole are quite different from questions about closed off regions. In particular, in the context of general relativity, the usual framework in which we understand cosmology, it is usually meaningless to talk about the total “energy” or “entropy” of the univese. The various laws of thermodynamics are local laws only.

If so, then wouldn’t that mean that the universe could not have existed forever, because if it had it would have ‘run out of gas’ by now?

It is generally acknowledged that the universe has not existed forever. This is a combination of experimental observation and theoretical modeling within general relativity. Very little thermodynamics is involved.

And, would such considerations also apply to a ‘multiverse’ or, would it be said that such a thing would have laws that don’t require fuel to get work done, or, that fuel is somehow (like a perpetual motion machine?) eternally replenished, or…?

There are certainly theories that claim that energy can be created out of the vacuum.

If the answer to this is something like the mulitiverse got fuel from prior multiverses, etc., then does the fallacy of infinite regress come into play here?

There is no fallacy. Some people have a hang up about infinity, and blame reality.

Comment #155160

Posted by Adam on January 14, 2007 12:08 PM (e)

Michael J wrote:

Evidence? Studies done by Australian Universities found that the evidence pointed to the opposite.

I’m only familiar with the literature that uses North American and European data. That literature is now pretty much unanimous on the negative effect of the minimum wage, and I posted examples from prestigeous peer-reviwed journals above.

I haven’t looked at the Australian literature. Perhaps there is something unique about Austrialian labor markets. It’s also possible the study is flawed. I haven’t read it. Reading the article you linked to, however, this jumped out at me:

“In an effort to more precisely estimate the employment effect of Australian minimum wages, I adopted an approach similar to Card and Krueger,”

The Card and Krueger study, which was done on US data, has been thoroughly discredited in the US labor literature, so I’m highly suspicious of anyone who follows their methods.

At any rate, my original point was about liberals in the United States, and for the US there is very little disagreement in the labor economics profession that the minimum wage is a highly inefficient way of helping low-wage workers.

normdoering wrote:

I think there should be a minimum wage you can survive well at. Maybe there should be exceptions for kids living at home, “guest workers” from other countries and people on welfare. Some defined pool of labor that isn’t exploited by low wages and get some other safe guards.

Yes, Norm. Very nice. Ignore the overwhelming consensous of mainstream economic research and continue to persist in your dogma, just like a good liberal. Your failure to interact with any of the evidence I referenced is duly noted. Your failure to address other methods of aiding low wage workers (like the earned income tax credit and low-wage subsidies), which economists almost unanimously agree are superior to the minimum wage, is also duly noted.

I see no point in continuing a discussion with someone who simply ignores my arguments.

And no, Norm, I did not admit that “Republicans want the kind of cheap labor found in the slave quality employment of sweat shops.” I did not bother refuting that absurdity of yours because it was extraneous to the topic we are discussing. It is a common tactic of leftists to try to change the subject when they are losing an argument, and I refuse to let you do that.

Have a nice MLK weekend. I’ve said my peace.

Comment #155161

Posted by Chris on January 14, 2007 12:17 PM (e)

I’m just a layman, but I think I understand that certain people misconstrue the 2nd law when they don’t realize that without it there’s nothing to fuel life. But, what about the whole? I mean, since the 2nd law also fuels stars, galaxies, etc., and if the universe as a whole is a closed system, then, isn’t the universe as a whole gradually losing it’s capacity to fuel (anything)?

If so, then wouldn’t that mean that the universe could not have existed forever, because if it had it would have ‘run out of gas’ by now? And, would such considerations also apply to a ‘multiverse’ or, would it be said that such a thing would have laws that don’t require fuel to get work done, or, that fuel is somehow (like a perpetual motion machine?) eternally replenished, or…?

If the answer to this is something like the mulitiverse got fuel from prior multiverses, etc., then does the fallacy of infinite regress come into play here? I mean, is it proper to ask where everything came from in the first place?

Comment #155165

Posted by Gerard Harbison on January 14, 2007 12:29 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #155166

Posted by PvM on January 14, 2007 12:31 PM (e)

Adam wrote:

That literature is now pretty much unanimous on the negative effect of the minimum wage, and I posted examples from prestigeous peer-reviwed journals above.

The literature seems to suggest a minor effect on youth and young adult rates and as far as I have been able to establish a neutral effect on adult employment rates. Youth employment rates are affected as follows: 10% increase in minimum wage 1-2% increase in unemployment rates amongst youth and young adults.

Is that what you have found as well?

So is this an example of liberals abusing science?

Comment #155167

Posted by Gerard Harbison on January 14, 2007 12:32 PM (e)

harold wrote:

But I have a more important question, one which will tell a great deal if answered, one which I suspect you will not answer. What is YOUR “opinion” on the matter, Gerard Harbison? Never mind David Brooks. How do you feel about the relative merits of ID versus the theory of evolution?

I’m a physical chemist/biophysicist. What the heck do you think my opinion is?

But, though this shouldn’t be necessary, in my opinion ID is a PR concoction. ‘Creationism in a cheap tuxedo’ is about the best description I’ve seen. It shouldn’t be compared with evolution, perhaps the oldest and best tested theoretical construct in science.

I intensely distrust leftists who have no particular interest or stake in biology, but who wish for ulterior reasons to use the creationism/evolution conflict as a stick to beat conservatives. Sorry, the scientific truth of evolution is utterly unconnected with collectivization of the economy or identity politics or the rest of the modern leftist agenda.

Comment #155168

Posted by harold on January 14, 2007 12:55 PM (e)

Gerard Harbison -

How about that? We can actually end our discussion on a note of agreement.

It may or may not be fair to say that there still exists a “leftist agenda” that has the characteristics you describe; there certainly did at one time (I’m in favor of strong social safety net programs, but certainly not Soviet-style “collectivization of the economy, but then again, I don’t call myself a leftist) It would not be fair to say that recognition of past and present discrimination (and worse) should be described as “identity politics”. Also, “identity politics” is common on the right, if not more so. Eg nationalist and ethnic supremecist groups (of whatever origin), or the “religious right” itself, for that matter.

However, putting all that aside, as well as our likely disagreements over public policy issues that haven’t come up here, I agree with your post overall.

One could argue that the theory of evolution explains all human political behavior in the sense that the human brain is a product of evolution. One could argue, as well (as I think I did above), that rational decisions on a few issues, such as infection control and environmental regulations, are informed by the theory of evolution. But obviously, on most issues, the theory of evolution is irrelevant to the political discussion.

Comment #155169

Posted by PvM on January 14, 2007 12:58 PM (e)

My, albeit quick, research into this topic has led me conclude that the research in the area of minimum wage effects is far from conclusive.
While there appear to be some minor effects on youth and young adult employment rates, the evidence does not seem to be conclusive one way or another.

MINIMUM WAGE TRENDS Understanding past and contemporary research

The Burkhauser paper you reference claims that

We estimate the employment effects of federal minimum wage increases using monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) data from 1979 through 1997. We find that the empirical differences in the new minimum wage literature based on CPS data primarily can be traced to alternative methods of controlling for macroeconomic conditions. We argue that the macroeconomic controls commonly included in models where no employment impact is found are inappropriate. We consistently find a significant but modest negative relationship between minimum wage increases and teenage employment using alternative controls or allowing employer responses to the policy to occur with some delay.

In other words, research has found conflicting interpretations of the data based on the use of macroeconomic controls.

Burkhauser’s work is not without problems

We point out that the results of Burkhauser et al. (2000) overstate the employment effects of statutory minimum wage laws because the minimum wage variable in their specification is not deflated when year dummies are removed from the regression.4 The average minimum wage has increased in nominal terms by 80% between 1979 and 2001. In real terms its change over this period depends on which price index is used as deflator. When using the urban consumer price index (CPI-U) and the personal consumption expenditure price index (PCE), the average real minimum wage decreased by 24% and 14% respectively
between 1979 and 2001. However it increased by 2% when one uses the producer price index of finished goods (FG) as the deflator. Therefore one might expect different results regarding the impact of statutory minimum wage laws on teenager employment, depending on which deflator is used. The results we present confirm this intuition. Our preferred estimates indicate that, when using the producer price index as the deflator, the point estimate of the minimum wage variable is reduced by two-thirds compared to the specification when
no deflator is used and year dummies are not included, as in Burkhauser et al. (2000).

The Association between Teenage Employment and the Minimum Wage: Revising the Reassessment by Cristobal Huneeus

Comment #155170

Posted by Chris on January 14, 2007 1:04 PM (e)

William,

Well, like I said, I’m just a layman. I guess I don’t understand what is meant by ‘local laws,’ and why the 2nd law would not apply to the uni/multiverse as a ‘whole’ because, isn’t it supposed to be a closed system, and isn‘t that what the 2nd law applies to?

And, what do you mean by ‘vacuum’? Is it like absolutely nothing, or some kind of force, or some kind of perpetual motion machine, and if not, where does it get whatever power/fuel it has from?

And, with respect to infinity, I can see that stuff like infinite sets or whatever works in mathematics, but in the ‘real’ world/uni/multiverse I don’t see how it’s possible to traverse a distance that never ends, no matter how much time we have. If it’s not possible, then, if we apply such considerations to the past, then it seems to me that nature cannot be eternal, so we are still left with the question of where everything came from in the first place. No?

Comment #155171

Posted by Chris on January 14, 2007 1:14 PM (e)

William

Well, like I said, I’m just a layman. I guess I don’t understand what is meant by ‘local laws,’ and why the 2nd law would not apply to the uni/multiverse as a ‘whole’ because, isn’t it supposed to be a closed system, and isn‘t that what the 2nd law applies to?

And, what do you mean by ‘vacuum’? Is it like absolutely nothing, or some kind of force, or some kind of perpetual motion machine, and if not, where does it get whatever power/fuel it has from?

And, with respect to infinity, I can see that stuff like infinite sets or whatever works in mathematics, but in the ‘real’ world/uni/multiverse I don’t see how it’s possible to traverse a distance that never ends, no matter how much time we have. If it’s not possible, then, if we apply such considerations to the past, then it seems to me that nature cannot be eternal, so we are still left with the question of where everything came from in the first place. No?

Comment #155185

Posted by harold on January 14, 2007 2:15 PM (e)

I’m not sure what the minimum wage has to do with this discussion. Disclosure - I favor increasing it.

However…

1) Minimum wage increase effects on unemployment depend on the elasticity of the demand for labor at that wage. Like undefined debates or claims about “lowering taxes”, debates about “raising the minimum wage” are meaningless except when the specific context is stated. Raising it from what to what, in what environment? The ideal minimum wage could be conceived as the highest one at which, should it be decreased, the demand for labor would not significantly increase. (There are many other ways to conceive the ideal minimum wage.) Since undocumented workers can get more than the legal minimum wage for unskilled labor in many parts of the US, it is likely that raising in the amount suggested will not cause a significant decrease in demand for labor, in my amateur but educated opinion. To put it in very simple terms, lowering the price of something does not always increase demand significantly, you need to know the elasticity at that price level. To resort to a cliche, would you start using more table salt if the price went down by 10%? (There might be some mild industrial demand increase, but even that is pretty inelastic?)

2) Unemployment statistics are of value, but there are many caveats. Low unemployment in one society may mean a booming economy. In another, it may mean that some people don’t even pretend to look for work anymore. Moderately high unemployment may mean starvation and riots in one society; in another, it may mean that people have the option of waiting comfortably for very high paying jobs. Unemployment statistics need to be considered in context.

Comment #155191

Posted by normdoering on January 14, 2007 3:26 PM (e)

Adam wrote:

Yes, Norm. Very nice. Ignore the overwhelming consensous of mainstream economic research and continue to persist in your dogma, just like a good liberal. Your failure to interact with any of the evidence I referenced is duly noted. Your failure to address other methods of aiding low wage workers (like the earned income tax credit and low-wage subsidies), which economists almost unanimously agree are superior to the minimum wage, is also duly noted.

I see no point in continuing a discussion with someone who simply ignores my arguments.

Gee, I didn’t see any arguments, just bald faced declarations that “the overwhelming consensous of mainstream economic research is against the minimum wage” in all cases, no context, no distinctions about which wage levels. Saying that doesn’t make it so, nor does it make an argument. And it’s broad all inclusiveness is suspicious on its face.

But, I will happily leave this to PvM and harold since they’re willing to dig into the nitty-gritty details and I don’t care to do that.

PS, here’s a conservative article on Dawkins site:
http://richarddawkins.net/article,519,Conservati…

Comment #155222

Posted by Donald M on January 14, 2007 7:44 PM (e)

This “study” is an excercise in meaninglessness. It shows precisely nothing useful and only reinforces the usual stereotypes. Well “educated” non-fundamental liberals accept (or “believe in”) evolution…boy there’s a news flash worthy of headlines. It is also interesting to note that Science uses the phrase “believe in” in connection with evolution. Perhaps Science secretly thinks that evolution requires a certain sort of religious faith after all.

Comment #155225

Posted by PvM on January 14, 2007 7:56 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

This “study” is an excercise in meaninglessness. It shows precisely nothing useful and only reinforces the usual stereotypes. Well “educated” non-fundamental liberals accept (or “believe in”) evolution…boy there’s a news flash worthy of headlines. It is also interesting to note that Science uses the phrase “believe in” in connection with evolution. Perhaps Science secretly thinks that evolution requires a certain sort of religious faith after all.

It shows that the ‘usual stereotypes’ may indeed be valid ones. The data show that there is a correlation between education and the acceptance of human evolution. If Donald had spent the effort to familiarize himself with the question asked, he would have realized the non sequitur of his claim

In 1993, 1994, and 2000, the General Social Surveys asked how true is the statement, “Human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.”

So Donald, is it not time to ‘deal with it’?

Comment #155226

Posted by harold on January 14, 2007 7:59 PM (e)

Donald M. -

On the contrary, it clarifies the political nature of ID.

It’s a common misperception, especially among international observers of the US scene, that ID is a sincerely held crackpot idea, somehow getting a lot of attention because of “religion”.

To me, it’s been obvious that ID is a political movement for a long time. Unlike sincere, apolitical crackpot ideas, ID is promoted by a “conservative institute”, is concerned not with cutting edge scientific literature but exclusively with public school curriculum, and makes use of popular books (many put out by “conservative” publishers), lawsuits, and conservative politicians for its promotion.

Indeed, if ID weren’t political, there would be little problem. Followers of astrology (a much more popular pseudoscience) don’t pose a threat to basic scientific education in the US, for example. It is only because ID is an aggressive political entity that it is a problem.

It’s good that this study clarifies that. Of course, a study that asked ID advocates their political leanings would produce even more dramatic results - 95-100% would self-identify as proponents of the “conservative movement”.

May I ask how you, personally, describe your political views, and how you feel about the relative merits of ID and the theory of evolution?

Comment #155229

Posted by Mike Elzinga on January 14, 2007 8:42 PM (e)

It would be interesting to find a study done, say, 40 years ago (before conservative Republicans got hijacked by the religious wrong) that could be compared with the results of today’s study. This current survey may reflect the conservatives (and Republicans) as they are presently constituted. If memory serves me correctly, many fundamentalists used to be Democrats, especially in the South. I don’t recall what that means in terms of economic or social policy for them, but many Democrats in the South railed against evolution.

It’s not clear to me that conservatism necessarily implies rejection of evolution or that it necessarily impairs the learning of science. However, it seems more likely that fundamentalism does. The fundamentalism that has latched onto the Republican Party and the conservatives in this country (the U.S.) may be the contaminating factor that makes it appear that conservatism, or being Republican, are equally responsible.

It may also depend on what one means by conservatism. After all, science tends to be conservative in reaching conclusions because it demands evidence and consistency with previously established theories. It takes a lot of evidence (and sometimes the deaths of a few elderly established scientists) to overturn a theory that has worked well for decades or more. We consider that a positive attribute of science because it holds one’s feet to the fire in collecting and validating data as well as working out the implications of the data.

Fundamentalism, on the other hand, requires no evidence; only authority and political power over people’s lives and livelihood. If there is a political movement or party that is willing to accommodate such venality, then that’s where one is likely to find a concentration of fundamentalists and the concomitant hostility to evolution.

Comment #155234

Posted by Al Moritz on January 14, 2007 11:49 PM (e)

William E. Emba wrote in 155157:

The various laws of thermodynamics are local laws only.

What is the scientific evidence, please? Evidence, not assumptions, is what I ask for.

Comment #155240

Posted by Chupa C on January 15, 2007 2:33 AM (e)

“Liberals may be wrong on some issues right now, but I don’t know of one where they flat ignore well-documented objective data as the Republicans seem to make a habit of these days, and that is why they are losing people like me.” (I don’t know how to do the proper quote, but MarkP originally wrote this paragraph)

Since this thread has gotten so far off topic, I thought I would throw this observation out:

There is only one area where I have seen a correlation between liberalism and an outright denial of facts and reality (in my personal life). For the last 2 years, I have been working for an NGO in Iraq and it has taught me that all of my previous conceptions about radical islam and the global jihad against western civilization were completely wrong. I spent a lot of time blaming republicans for the problems, desperately wanting to believe that islam was the religion of peace it claims to be. Out here I realized how stupidly wrong I was. All of the petty attacks by christians and ID supporters on evolution are nothing compared to what will happen when we live under an islamic govt; which I fear is going to happen, because only one side understands that we are even in a war, and it isn’t the west.

Comment #155245

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 5:11 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #155247

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 5:20 AM (e)

Chris:

Chris wrote:

I guess I don’t understand what is meant by ‘local laws,’

Local laws means that we either don’t know if they can be extended universally, or we know that some conditions makes them applicable locally, at least currently. The definitions of energy and entropy are two of the later kind.

Chris wrote:

and why the 2nd law would not apply to the uni/multiverse as a ‘whole’

From my limited understanding on your rather deep questions, and my apology for the length:

Currently the theory of general relativity (GR) is relied on to help describe global spacetime in cosmology. (Classically, or semi-classically with some quantum theory modifications.)

Now, GR are such that in general it isn’t possible to unambiguously define total energy and momentum. That is an example of a condition that here makes conservation laws such as for energy local only. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity#… )

In asymptotically flat spacetime, where we enjoy living, total energy is definable. But for cases such as inflation, where spacetime grows rapidly from high curvature, it doesn’t apply.

Chris wrote:

and why the 2nd law would not apply to the uni/multiverse as a ‘whole’ because, isn’t it supposed to be a closed system, and isn‘t that what the 2nd law applies to?

The 2nd law, as all laws of thermodynamics, applies to both open and closed systems. (They are often defined for closed systems since it makes their properties easy to grasp.) “All” one has to know and consider is the balance of energy and matter transfer.

Anyway, the expansion will produce new spacetime indefinitely. It is hard to define “closed” and “total energy” here.

And, the universe or the multiverse is probably not closed, which the currently observed (but not assuredly verified) slightly negative spatial curvature attests to.

Chris wrote:

what do you mean by ‘vacuum’?

The vacuum of empty spacetime still contains all our field theories vacua.

That means for example that it contains virtual particles of all possible kinds, that participates in defining field properties, and can help produce real particles under some circumstances.

It also means that the vacuum has an energy density.

Chris wrote:

but in the ‘real’ world/uni/multiverse I don’t see how it’s possible to traverse a distance that never ends,

That is true. However, there is a difference between the idealized math concept, infinity, and the practical physical construction, unboundedness.

For example, the universe is different from the the things traveling inside it, since it expands. If it never stops expanding it is unbounded in time and open.

It may also be unbounded spatially.

Against intuition, even in a multiverse setting our pocket universe may be unbounded. That is because the global time coordinate is defined by the end of inflation. That is, as the multiverse continues to inflate, the local pockets acquire an unbounded space along their inflationary boundaries.

Finally, though this is a contested point, a multiverse may itself be an unboundedly old phenomena. The parts with inflation may go unboundedly back. One of the founders of the theory, Linde, has proposed this.

Al:

Al wrote:

The various laws of thermodynamics are local laws only.

What is the scientific evidence, please? Evidence, not assumptions, is what I ask for.

This has to be turned around IMHO. What evidence do we have that we laws can be universal? Granted, the cosmological principle tells us that this is simpler. But if there are caveats, as we noted above on energy conservation, this principle doesn’t automatically apply.

We noted problems with general relativity above. Maybe these can be solved in a theory of quantum gravity. But there are other caveats, if I understand this correctly.

First, in some theories (string theory, for one), the AdS spacetime we live in isn’t stable. So it is expected that bubbles of dS spacetime, which seems to have a lower vacuum energy, expands in it sooner or later. Even if the fundamental laws, and the associated action principles, are the same the vacuum and geometry changes. When realized symmetries and boundaries changes, I would believe that Noether’s theorem on conservations (such as energy) doesn’t apply.

Second, quantum theory seems to lead to causal patch theories. The world becomes different for each patch. (Each classical observer.) Ie, someone falling into a black hole experience falling an infinite time, while we see a finite time. So total energy should be different for different patches. (Admittedly, it should average out over many similar patches. But there will be a distribution.)

Comment #155249

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 5:25 AM (e)

“It also means that the vacuum has an energy density.” It also has curvature of course, from general relativity.

Comment #155251

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 5:44 AM (e)

“our field theories vacua” That is, their lowest energy state, which is not zero due to quantum theory.

“the vacuum has an energy density” and a curvature (from gravitation).

Comment #155252

Posted by Al Moritz on January 15, 2007 7:28 AM (e)

Torbjörn:

I asked for scientific evidence, not assumptions, that the thermodynamic laws do not apply universally.

You answered with, among others (emphases addded):

First, in some theories (string theory, for one), the AdS spacetime we live in isn’t stable. So it is expected that bubbles of dS spacetime, which seems to have a lower vacuum energy, expands in it sooner or later. Even if the fundamental laws, and the associated action principles, are the same the vacuum and geometry changes. When realized symmetries and boundaries changes, I would believe that Noether’s theorem on conservations (such as energy) doesn’t apply.

Second, quantum theory seems to lead to causal patch theories. The world becomes different for each patch. (Each classical observer.) Ie, someone falling into a black hole experience falling an infinite time, while we see a finite time. So total energy should be different for different patches. (Admittedly, it should average out over many similar patches. But there will be a distribution.)

Thanks for the answer. Yet what I suspected would happen: All this smells like assumptions, not like scientific evidence, don’t you think? Where is the scientifically observable evidence of all this?

Comment #155264

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 8:15 AM (e)

Al wrote:

All this smells like assumptions, not like scientific evidence, don’t you think? Where is the scientifically observable evidence of all this?

If you ask for direct observational evidence, I don’t think there is any. That inflation exists seems assured, but I’m not aware of any tests of energy conservation in such situations.

However, I think I was clear on that you made an assumption on universality that is unsupported. And at the current state of theory it is clear that the thermodynamical laws doesn’t apply universally in them. The last two caveats suggests that this is supported by other theories in different fashion.

Since other predictions of general relativity has been supported by observational evidence so far, I think it is difficult to overlook the theoretical result. The evidence, indirect as it is, points to locality of these laws. And there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary.

Comment #155266

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 9:15 AM (e)

TL wrote:

that the thermodynamical laws

I meant the conservation laws. Since I botched this anyway, let me try another formulation.

If there are any direct observational evidence that total energy results (such as energy constance) fails for the situations it is predicted to do so by GR, I’m not aware of this. But it is a prediction, and situations there total energy estimations should fail are known and observed. There is no theory that says total energy must be able to estimate everywhere.

(Though some, or all of these situations, may have strong curvature and may ultimately need quantum gravity to be correctly treated. Alas, this is way outside my competence.)

Comment #155271

Posted by Henry J on January 15, 2007 10:52 AM (e)

I thought that “universaility” of a law meant that it would apply to every region within space-time, not that it would apply to space-time as a whole?

Henry

Comment #155272

Posted by Henry J on January 15, 2007 10:54 AM (e)

(Let’s try that again, but spell check it first this time.)

I thought that “universality” of a law meant that it would apply to every region within space-time, not that it would apply to space-time as a whole?

Henry

Comment #155281

Posted by Larry Gilman on January 15, 2007 1:05 PM (e)

Al Moritz wrote:

Also disturbing is that in no less a magazine than Science there is a graph that speaks about “believing in evolution” - as if science is something you “believe” in

Donald M wrote:

It is also interesting to note that Science uses the phrase “believe in” in connection with evolution. Perhaps Science secretly thinks that evolution requires a certain sort of religious faith after all.

Although I have defended conservatives against Mr. Myers’s rather contentious title for this thread (see above), this stuff about the verb “believe” being somehow inappropriate for scientific knowledge is silly. Like a great many English words, the verb “to believe” and its cognates function in many overlapping registers of meaning and are universally accepted as doing so in both vernacular and formal speech. Among other roles, “I believe” can mean “I tend to think but am not certain that,” as in “I believe the wrench is in the freezer”; or it can take on religious or values-affirmative overtones, as in “I believe in God the Father” or “I believe in family values”; or it can, as in the Science item under discussion, mean “I take as effectively certain knowledge, conventionally arrived at, that,” as in “I believe I will die someday” or “I believe in plate tectonics” or “I believe the theory of evolution.” In this last mode, it is unremarkable to speak of “believing” a scientific statement or theory: it is simply a way of saying that we affirm that claim or theory’s validity. Faith, blind or otherwise, is not assumed, implied, or revealed by such usage.

So don’t try to spin this grammatical straw into ideological gold. It is not a meaningful project.

Larry

Comment #155291

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 15, 2007 2:44 PM (e)

Henry wrote:

I thought that “universality” of a law meant that it would apply to every region within space-time, not that it would apply to space-time as a whole?

Yes.

“Total energy” is presumably an integrated property over some volume. In most cases, space is locally asymptotically flat everywhere and the large-scale curvature time-independent, and this energy is definable. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADM_energy )

But in some cases (inflation) this requirement isn’t fulfilled.

Application over the universe as a whole is yet another difficulty. (Open or closed?)

Comment #155340

Posted by Donald M on January 15, 2007 8:15 PM (e)

Pim asks:

So Donald, is it not time to ‘deal with it’?

There isn’t anything to “deal” with here. The main concept being reinforced here is yet another version of what Dawkins wrote in The Blind Watchmaker that anyone who rejects (disbelieves?) evolution is either ignorant, insane, stupid or wicked (the latter being something RD would rather not consider, as I recall). Put another way the idea that Pim, PZ and most of the other contributers here at PT hold is that it is inconceivable that anyone could both understand AND reject evolution. Such an argument commits two fallacies at once: the argument from authority and a cleverly disguised form of ad hominem (someone who questions evolution is either stupid, ignorant, insane or wicked (to restate the quote).

If this isn’t clear, then perhaps this will help. Suppose someone said it is inconceivalbe that someone could both understand AND reject flat earth theory. Now, now matter what objection you raise, no matter how well said or what facts are put on the table, the response will be “you’re just too stupid, ignorant, insane or wicked to understand what flat earth theory is all about. If you really understood it, you’d just accept it as being true. Deal with it!” In such a formulation I have no doubt that not one person here at PT (myself included) would accept that argument as valid. But when the very argument is used for evolution…well that’s another story. Well, a fallacy is still a fallacy no matter what the subject is. The study that PZ cites and the comments he makes merely reinforce the unfounded concept that to understand evolution is to accept it. Many of the staunchest evolution critics understand evolution perfectly well AND either reject it outright or reject important aspects of it. Trying to make it appear as if “education” magically leads to “belief” in evolution and rejection of it can only stem from being ignorant and uneducated (or the victim of a so-called “Bible” college as PZ points out) is simply bad argument. There certainly no compelling reason to believe that to be true, even from the study shown above (note that 43% of non-fundie grad students still reject evolution – I guess they went to the wrong schools!!). Unless, of course, you want to add to the fallacies already commited and now claim that the truth of evolution is established by what the majority of educated non-fundies “believe”. But that does seem to tbe gist of things!

So, Pim, isn’t time to “deal with it”?

Comment #155343

Posted by Donald M on January 15, 2007 8:29 PM (e)

Larry Gilman writes about belaboring the use of the term ‘belief’

So don’t try to spin this grammatical straw into ideological gold. It is not a meaningful project.

Agreed, Larry, but my reason for pointing it out is based on the multitude of times that some IDP or evolution critic gets taken to task if they dare use the phrase “believe in” in connection with evolution. I find it completely amusing that no less a journal than Science employs the phrase. I wonder how many letters to editor from the anti-ID crowd Science will get taking them to task for the very same thing. (hint: the answer will be “0”) So, you’re perfectly fine linguistic lesson not-wth-standing, I think I’m justified in poking a little fun at Science.

Comment #155355

Posted by PvM on January 15, 2007 9:38 PM (e)

Boy Donald does not take (valid) criticism well. When I pointed out to him how the questions in the survey were phrased how these ‘stereotypes’ were indeed supported by the data and I ended with: So Donald, is it not time to ‘deal with it’?

Donald ‘responded’

There isn’t anything to “deal” with here. The main concept being reinforced here is yet another version of what Dawkins wrote in The Blind Watchmaker that anyone who rejects (disbelieves?) evolution is either ignorant, insane, stupid or wicked (the latter being something RD would rather not consider, as I recall).

The main concept reinforced here is how religiosity is the best predictor of resistance to the issue of ‘human evolution’. Since human evolution has been quite well documented, it may be that the conclusion should be that these people are ignorant, or perhaps wicked etc but that seems a bit of a stretch. Now ignorance, as I have shown, is the motivator and force behind Intelligent Design while knowledge is its biggest enemy.

Put another way the idea that Pim, PZ and most of the other contributers here at PT hold is that it is inconceivable that anyone could both understand AND reject evolution. Such an argument commits two fallacies at once: the argument from authority and a cleverly disguised form of ad hominem (someone who questions evolution is either stupid, ignorant, insane or wicked (to restate the quote).

How is calling someone ignorant necessarily an ad hominem? It is only an ad hominem if the argument is “you are ignorant and thus wrong” when instead people at PT go to great lengths to point out why this label may apply. Furthermore, I have seen various examples of people rejecting evolution although few have shown that they understand the concept. Not surprisingly, such rejections of fact are reduced with the level of education. It’s not an argument from authority however.

If this isn’t clear, then perhaps this will help. Suppose someone said it is inconceivalbe that someone could both understand AND reject flat earth theory. Now, now matter what objection you raise, no matter how well said or what facts are put on the table, the response will be “you’re just too stupid, ignorant, insane or wicked to understand what flat earth theory is all about. If you really understood it, you’d just accept it as being true. Deal with it!” In such a formulation I have no doubt that not one person here at PT (myself included) would accept that argument as valid. But when the very argument is used for evolution…well that’s another story.

But it is you who created this strawman. It is therefor up to you to support your claims and assertions. Btw, your description of flat earth seems to match ID quite closely. If you rejected ID, it’s because you really did not understand it.

Well, a fallacy is still a fallacy no matter what the subject is. The study that PZ cites and the comments he makes merely reinforce the unfounded concept that to understand evolution is to accept it. Many of the staunchest evolution critics understand evolution perfectly well AND either reject it outright or reject important aspects of it. Trying to make it appear as if “education” magically leads to “belief” in evolution and rejection of it can only stem from being ignorant and uneducated (or the victim of a so-called “Bible” college as PZ points out) is simply bad argument.

Another beautiful strawman. Noone says that education will result in a 100% success rate, just that with education levels rising, more people accept the fact of human evolution. Nothing magical about it. Sure there are some who reject evolution even though their education level is high but such is the beauty of statistics.

There certainly no compelling reason to believe that to be true, even from the study shown above (note that 43% of non-fundie grad students still reject evolution – I guess they went to the wrong schools!!). Unless, of course, you want to add to the fallacies already commited and now claim that the truth of evolution is established by what the majority of educated non-fundies “believe”. But that does seem to tbe gist of things!

So, Pim, isn’t time to “deal with it”?

I love it how you spin some wicked webs of your own, only to tear them down as fallacious. Is it that hard to stick to what is really said, rather than make unsupported claims? Surely you appreciate the difference.
The only fallacies are the one’s created by you my dear friend. Time to deal with it…
So how hard is it to actually research these ‘facts’? Pretty hard it seems given your track record so far.

Comment #155415

Posted by Exile from GROGGS on January 16, 2007 4:03 AM (e)

Well, forget the other bits and pieces …

“someone … who is not a fundamentalist is much more likely to accept evolution than someone who is a fundamentalist”

No … er, nonsense, Sherlock! They pay grants for people to find that out?

Comment #155427

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 16, 2007 5:01 AM (e)

BTW, there’s plenty of evidence for the Laffer Curve, which simply postulates that tax revenue is a concave, non-monotonic function of tax rates.

This, like everything else Adam writes, is ignorant nonsense authoritatively passed off as fact. Years ago, Martin Gardner’s “Mathematical Games” column featured the “laughable Laffer Curve”, which he accurately drew as having two known data points, with something resembling steel wool connecting them.

Comment #155440

Posted by Popper's ghost on January 16, 2007 5:19 AM (e)

It is generally acknowledged that the universe has not existed forever.

It depends on exactly what is meant by “the universe”. It is not generally acknowledged that the law of conservation of matter and energy has ever been violated.

Comment #155456

Posted by Donald M on January 16, 2007 7:13 AM (e)

Pim

I love it how you spin some wicked webs of your own, only to tear them down as fallacious. Is it that hard to stick to what is really said, rather than make unsupported claims? Surely you appreciate the difference.
The only fallacies are the one’s created by you my dear friend. Time to deal with it…
So how hard is it to actually research these ‘facts’? Pretty hard it seems given your track record so far.

I have dealt with the facts here, Pim. Your entire response is yet another example of the “you just don’t understand it” argument. Now you’re telling me that I don’t understand what was “really said”. That is always your response to disagreement and challenge.
Your message is clear: “If you really understood what was said, you wouldn’t disgree…” or something close to that. My response is not a straw man either…it is precisely what is being argued, and you just demonstrated it again in your response. It is always the evolution critic who doesn’t understand, or is ignorant, or uneducated or stupid or insane or wicked (but, in keeping with Dawkins, we won’t consider that – even though you accuse me of spinning “wicked webs”).

As I said, this entire line of argument gets us two fallacies for the price of one: 1)argment from authority (57% of non-fundie grad students agree…) and 2)ad homninem (if you disagree you’re uneducated, ignorant, etc etc). And you’ve just demonstrated this same approach again, quite nicely. “Donald doesn’t understand what’s being said…etc etc…ad nauseum” What I stated at the outset is right: this entire study is an excercise in irrelevancy. It demonstrates nothing useful. My response is not the stuff of which straw men and “wicked webs” are made, Pim.

Comment #155461

Posted by Donald M on January 16, 2007 7:46 AM (e)

This comment from Pim is so juicy, I had to respond separately:

The main concept reinforced here is how religiosity is the best predictor of resistance to the issue of ‘human evolution’. Since human evolution has been quite well documented, it may be that the conclusion should be that these people are ignorant, or perhaps wicked etc but that seems a bit of a stretch. Now ignorance, as I have shown, is the motivator and force behind Intelligent Design while knowledge is its biggest enemy.

First of all, Pim, you haven’t “shown” any such thing (the last sentence above), expcept in your own mind.

So, the culprit is religion or religious belief ( presume that is what you mean by “religiosity”). If only we could do away with religion, we could all just move forward into this great ‘educated’ utopia where there is no more ignorance and everyone happily accepts evolution as the true story of human history. But what if the ignorance lies with those who reject the “religious” notion that a superntural being (God, if you prefer), had quite a bit to do with bringing about the existence of the cosmos and everything in it, including all life on planet earth? To claim that religious belief represents “igorance” is tantamount to saying that naturalism (or something very much like it) represents the true state of affairs in the cosmos, and that that is something any “educated” person knows and accepts as being true. Are you willing to go that far, Pim? If you follow your line of argument all the way through, that seems to be where it leads. The only other option I can see is to say that the boundaries of religion are dictated by the findings of science and to reject that is to display ignorance. But that violates the NOMA principle set forth by the late S.J. Gould. But since NOMA is a self-refuting principle, that route doesn’t seem too helpful.

Boiled down it comes to: education = totaly acceptance of naturalism and rejection of “religiosity”; ignorance=rejection of naturalism.
That seems to be your argument, Pim. It should also be pointed out that if naturalism is true, evolution, or something very much like it, is the only game in town. But establishing that naturalism is true has been problematic for centuries, and continues to be so.

Unfortunately for that argument, there are quite a number of well-educated, non-ignorant persons who also reject naturalism outright (Alvin Plantiinga leaps to mind here). This entire line of argument is a non-starter, Pim.

Comment #155468

Posted by guthrie on January 16, 2007 9:08 AM (e)

Welcome exile from groggs.

I think the point is that the vast majority of opposition to evolution comes from people with a religious reason to disagree with it. Besides, dont you want some figures to back it up? I doubt you would prefer “My mate knows three people who dont like evolution and they are fundies, so obviously its only fundies that disagree!”

Comment #155470

Posted by William E Emba on January 16, 2007 9:22 AM (e)

Al Moritz wrote:

William E Emba wrote:

The various laws of thermodynamics are local laws only.

What is the scientific evidence, please? Evidence, not assumptions, is what I ask for.

As I only wrote very explicitly, and which you left out in your reply, I was giving an explanation “in the context of general relativity”. This isn’t a question of “scientific evidence”, but a statement of fact about the existing scientific literature. You could look it up. Try MTW.

Energy was a contentious topic in GR until the 60s, after which a new level of understanding was achieved, and which understanding consisted in part of rejecting global laws except in special cases. The local “differential” forms of the laws became the standard.

If you don’t believe GR, the Big Bang, or whatnot, I don’t particularly care, but Chris was asking about what constraints the 2nd law yields within cosmology, and I answered within our current best understanding: his question doesn’t even arise. If you have a different model of the universe, complete with 2nd law, feel free to share.

Comment #155473

Posted by William E Emba on January 16, 2007 9:48 AM (e)

Chris wrote:

Well, like I said, I’m just a layman. I guess I don’t understand what is meant by ‘local laws,’ and why the 2nd law would not apply to the uni/multiverse as a ‘whole’ because, isn’t it supposed to be a closed system, and isn‘t that what the 2nd law applies to?

Local laws mean those that talk about quantities that can be identified and measured within an arbitrarily small distance, as opposed to those that refer to the system as a whole. Newton’s gravitation was a global law, involving “action at a distance”. An equivalent local version was given by Poisson, and it is this local version which Einstein turned into his field equations.

It took almost fifty years for the physics community to understand that general relativity was mostly incompatible with notions of “total energy” or “total entropy” of the universe.

And, what do you mean by ‘vacuum’? Is it like absolutely nothing, or some kind of force, or some kind of perpetual motion machine, and if not, where does it get whatever power/fuel it has from?

Well, that’s a pretty big topic, but in modern physics, the vacuum is quite sophisticated. I can’t take the time to spell out anything–others seem to be helping out here–but do understand that you can’t just charge into it with popular science accounts of the 2nd law and expect anything meaningful to happen.

And, with respect to infinity, I can see that stuff like infinite sets or whatever works in mathematics, but in the ‘real’ world/uni/multiverse I don’t see how it’s possible to traverse a distance that never ends, no matter how much time we have. If it’s not possible, then, if we apply such considerations to the past, then it seems to me that nature cannot be eternal, so we are still left with the question of where everything came from in the first place. No?

The laws of physics aren’t about what you traverse in a finite time, although that point of view provides a convenient starting point. Dirac introduced the point of view that perhaps the vacuum is CertainKindOfInfinity, and that an electron is CertainKindOfInfinity+epsilon, and us biggers are CertainKindOfInfinity+bigfinitestuff, so when we do physics experiments, we only measure epsilon and bigfinitestuff. Variations of this theme have been part of physics ever since. Many people hate this, but there is nothing logically inconsistent going on.

Similarly, although lots of physics is about what happens from a given initial starting point, there is nothing that a priori rules out infinite time with us puny humans being able to only observe just a finite portion.

Comment #155479

Posted by Al Moritz on January 16, 2007 10:52 AM (e)

William E. Emba wrote:

If you don’t believe GR, the Big Bang, or whatnot, I don’t particularly care,

Hey, just a moment, you might as well chill out a bit. Only because I ask a skeptical and perfectly valid scientific question I immediately get labeled as a creationist? A bit overdone, don’t you think?

Of course, the acceptance of all of modern science, including GR and Big Bang are a non-issue for me (understanding of it all in detail is a different thing; I am a biochemist, not a physicist).

Thanks for your answers anyway.

And what is MTW?

Comment #155493

Posted by PvM on January 16, 2007 11:41 AM (e)

Donald M wrote:

This comment from Pim is so juicy, I had to respond separately:

The main concept reinforced here is how religiosity is the best predictor of resistance to the issue of ‘human evolution’. Since human evolution has been quite well documented, it may be that the conclusion should be that these people are ignorant, or perhaps wicked etc but that seems a bit of a stretch. Now ignorance, as I have shown, is the motivator and force behind Intelligent Design while knowledge is its biggest enemy.

First of all, Pim, you haven’t “shown” any such thing (the last sentence above), expcept in your own mind.

No, it’s based on the foundational principle of ID that design is the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance. It’s simple: ignorance results in a design inference, knowledge destroys a design inference.

So, the culprit is religion or religious belief ( presume that is what you mean by “religiosity”). If only we could do away with religion, we could all just move forward into this great ‘educated’ utopia where there is no more ignorance and everyone happily accepts evolution as the true story of human history.

Donald, Donald, you surely realize the false dichotomy here (a common fallacy amongst creationists btw). In fact, one may choose to educate religious people that 1. evolution is well supported science 2. that evolution does not (necessarily) interfere with religious faith.

But what if the ignorance lies with those who reject the “religious” notion that a superntural being (God, if you prefer), had quite a bit to do with bringing about the existence of the cosmos and everything in it, including all life on planet earth? To claim that religious belief represents “igorance” is tantamount to saying that naturalism (or something very much like it) represents the true state of affairs in the cosmos, and that that is something any “educated” person knows and accepts as being true.

Again a false dichotomy. Accepting naturalism as a methodology does not mean that naturalism as a philosophy describes the true state of affairs in the cosmos. The educated person ‘knows’ science to be true in case of evolution and accepts ignorance about whether or not a ‘designer(s)’ was involved.

Are you willing to go that far, Pim? If you follow your line of argument all the way through, that seems to be where it leads.

Simply untrue as I have shown. Really Donald, you seem to be fighting your own ignorance here.

The only other option I can see is to say that the boundaries of religion are dictated by the findings of science and to reject that is to display ignorance. But that violates the NOMA principle set forth by the late S.J. Gould. But since NOMA is a self-refuting principle, that route doesn’t seem too helpful.

Boiled down it comes to: education = totaly acceptance of naturalism and rejection of “religiosity”; ignorance=rejection of naturalism.
That seems to be your argument, Pim. It should also be pointed out that if naturalism is true, evolution, or something very much like it, is the only game in town. But establishing that naturalism is true has been problematic for centuries, and continues to be so.

Fascinating how Donald is able to spin a web of strawmen, creating an either or situation where alternatives exists. This is typical false dichotomy thinking.
Note that none of my arguments which Donald quoted, rely on naturalism (being true).

Unfortunately for that argument, there are quite a number of well-educated, non-ignorant persons who also reject naturalism outright (Alvin Plantiinga leaps to mind here). This entire line of argument is a non-starter, Pim.

I for one am quick to accept that well educated people may reject naturalism but anyone familiar with these concepts would also quickly realize that there is a difference between philosophical and methodological naturalism.

Seems Donald once again has stepped into an area filled with his ignorance. Now I understand that ID relishes the equivocation of naturalism, causing much unnecessary concerns amongst the religious people who are then misguided by ID to believe that there is a scientific theory of ‘design’. ID is merely contributing to the ignorance of religious people here and as a Christian myself I find this unforgivable and sinful.
Never mind that it violates Augustine’s fair warning about Christians promoting nonsense and ignorance and the effects on religious faith.

Comment #155498

Posted by PvM on January 16, 2007 11:50 AM (e)

Donald M suggests that my conclusion that ID is founded in ignorance is “in my own mind”. So let me ask him the following question to determine the extent of my claim:

How does ID explain the bacterial flagella?

Comment #155502

Posted by Raging Bee on January 16, 2007 12:10 PM (e)

Donald M: Your post was nothing but a disordered jumble of non-sequiturs, and you completely dodged the point that PvM was obviously trying to make.

But establishing that naturalism is true has been problematic for centuries, and continues to be so.

Yet another bald assertion without a scrap of supporting evidence or logic. Actually, “naturalism” has been working quite well for the last few centuries, at least as a means of explaining the natural world – which is all it was supposed to do. Care to explain what’s so “problematic” about it?

Comment #155503

Posted by Steviepinhead on January 16, 2007 12:15 PM (e)

I gather from a little googling that “MTW” is shorthand for the well-regarded book “Gravitation,” authored by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler (initials of the authors’ last names ==> MTW), published by Freeman.

Enter the title and one or more of the authors’ names into amazon.com’s search box, and you’ll find it.

Assuming I’m right, of course–always a challenge for us pinheads.

Comment #155520

Posted by William E Emba on January 16, 2007 1:24 PM (e)

Al Moritz wrote:

Hey, just a moment, you might as well chill out a bit. Only because I ask a skeptical and perfectly valid scientific question I immediately get labeled as a creationist? A bit overdone, don’t you think?

You quote-mined me. Chris asked a theoretical question, I answered in what seems the most appropriate theoretical context, and you jumped in, editing out the theoretical background and demanded empirical proof. Hence, the thumping.

And what is MTW?

Google “MTW Einstein”.

Comment #155535

Posted by Al Moritz on January 16, 2007 2:23 PM (e)

Google “MTW Einstein”.

Thanks.

Comment #155548

Posted by grendelkhan on January 16, 2007 3:49 PM (e)

I like how Donald M brings this up for me.

Suppose someone said it is inconceivalbe that someone could both understand AND reject flat earth theory.

Let’s turn this one around. Would you agree that it’s inconceivable that someone could both understand and reject round earth theory? (I don’t think that’s really the name for it, but let’s go with that.) Do you think there’s legitimate and sensible opposition to round earth theory which deserves a hearing, equal time in schools and media, and so forth?

If not, does that mean it’s entirely possible that a scientific theory might qualify for the “ignorant, insane, stupid or wicked” description? Doesn’t that mean it depends on the evidence the opposition can bring to the table, and when the evidence consists of one big argument from personal ignorance, why does it deserve any more hearing than a pack of flat-earth picketers?

Comment #155606

Posted by Anton Mates on January 16, 2007 7:32 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

So, the culprit is religion or religious belief ( presume that is what you mean by “religiosity”). If only we could do away with religion, we could all just move forward into this great ‘educated’ utopia where there is no more ignorance and everyone happily accepts evolution as the true story of human history. But what if the ignorance lies with those who reject the “religious” notion that a superntural being (God, if you prefer), had quite a bit to do with bringing about the existence of the cosmos and everything in it, including all life on planet earth? To claim that religious belief represents “igorance” is tantamount to saying that naturalism (or something very much like it) represents the true state of affairs in the cosmos, and that that is something any “educated” person knows and accepts as being true. Are you willing to go that far, Pim?

You’ve been found out, Pim! You religion-hating materialist, you.

Comment #159028

Posted by Chris O'Guin on February 1, 2007 5:41 AM (e)

I have several college degrees and post graduate work. I find your analogies very prejudicial and sup-positional. I do not consider myself a fundamentalist. Most of Christianity is not fundamentalism. To believe in orthodox theology is not fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is an extremism aka David Koresh. You are illogically dumping evangelicals and others into your grouping I assume. I also reject the “theory” of evolution as many respected scientists do today. Your results are tainted by several undeniable facts. First of all I would have to agree as many are indoctrinated by liberal establishment universities and ingrained with liberal humanistic philosophy that eliminates God from the picture they are left with only one thing to believe in-evolution. I believe liberals like yourself are not free thinkers at all but in many ways resemble the fundamentalist extremists you hate and despise. Neither extreme has much thought just emotion. Liberals are guided by their emotional socialistic agendas and the extreme right by their own misguided ideas. When will you guys ever wake up and realize that America despises both of you. Most Americans are like myself. We believe in God, are free thinking,we are little right of center, and we believe in America, we are patriotic, pay our taxes, and love our kids. You people make me and the rest of America sick! America hates liberals period. WE dislike right wing extremists but they are not even as bad as you guys are. You are like a plague on the country when locusts aren’t in season. I have noticed this too-true liberals would even call me a right winger. Any body with any moral values or patriotism is a right winger to you messed up people. Pelosism!

Comment #159073

Posted by Richard Simons on February 1, 2007 11:41 AM (e)

Chris: thanks for the evidence-free, ignorant rant (“Any body [sic] with any moral values or patriotism is a right winger to you messed up people.” - snort)! Writing like yours is the reason why so many people in the outside world think that Americans are bonkers (a popular Canadian comedian always refers to the Excited States).

That you have several degrees is irrelevant, even if true. Many of the commentators here (myself included) not only have several degrees, but they are in fields in which an understanding of evolution is important.