Steve Reuland posted Entry 2828 on January 9, 2007 06:08 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2818

Over at Uncommon Descent, Gil Dodgen asks the question of why so many engineers reject evolution. Dave Scot then asks a similar question about doctors. Not surprisingly, their answers to these questions are self-serving and backed up only by wishful thinking. Dodgen quotes Stephen Meyer as saying that because engineers know all about “design”, they are therefore in a unique position to know about biology. (As a corollary, I suppose biologists must have special insight when it comes to designing bridges.) Even more amusing is Dave Scot’s explanation for why doctors supposedly reject evolution. They are risk adverse. I’ll let others ponder the logic of that one.

But all of this begs the question: How many doctors (or engineers) reject evolution, and why do they do so? I think the question is worth looking at, even if just for fun. So let’s do something that the denizens of UD would consider totally alien – let’s look at some data.

Lucky for us, the Louis Finkelstein Institute recently conducted a survey on the beliefs that doctors have concerning evolution and “intelligent design”. The headline for the survey was that a majority of doctors, 63%, preferred evolution over ID. Still, that leaves a fairly sizable minority, 34%, who agree with the ID position. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know what to make of such numbers. Thanks in large part to the obscurantist tactics of its major proponents, “intelligent design” is a fuzzy concept that has any number of possible meanings among lay people. For example, a lot of people seem to think that ID is equivalent to theistic evolution, a position held in contempt by the leading ID advocates. It’s also difficult to compare different surveys against each other, given that (especially for this issue) the answers tend to be extremely sensitive to the wording of the question. For example, any question that makes a reference to God or the Bible will tend to elicit a more positive response than one that doesn’t, even when the questions are essentially the same.

Fortunately, the Finkelstein survey does contain one question that is directly comparable to that asked of the general public in a CBS News poll conducted around the same time. That question asks people about their views on evolution and gives them three choices: The first is that humans were created by God essentially as they are now; the second is that humans have evolved with God guiding the process; and the third is that humans have evolved without God’s guidance. Although the wording differs slightly between the two surveys, the differences are trivial and shouldn’t make any difference in how people respond. Thus I submit that this is the best comparison between surveys that we’re likely to find. I’ve put the results together into a single chart:

evochart.JPG

We can see that the results are quite striking. Doctors are far less likely to believe in the explicitly creationist position than are the general public. They are also far more likely to believe that evolution occurred without divine guidance. Overall, the acceptance of evolution among doctors is around 80% (actually 78% when asked the question directly) whereas it’s only around 45% for the general public. So contrary to the self-congratulatory beliefs of the UD folks, it is not the case that being a doctor somehow makes one more prone to being a IDist/creationist. In fact it makes one much less prone. While some of this may be due to the fact that more educated and affluent people are more likely to accept evolution, much of it is probably due to the medical training that doctors receive. That makes Dave Scot’s remarks all the more ironic. (One quick note: The Gallup organization has been conducting a similar poll for a long time, though they include a 10,000 year age for the human species are part of question #1. Even still, the results for the general public are highly similar to those above. However, if I had included those results broken down by college education, the college educated would have sat somewhere in between the general public and doctors in the above chart. Because I couldn’t find any data for this more recent than 1991, I left it out, but it supports the notion that there is more than just general education that leads doctors to accept evolution.)

It is true of course that doctors are more prone to being creationists than scientists in general and biologists in particular. This is to be fully expected, as it’s unlikely that you’re going to find any one group of people who are more convinced about evolution than biologists and other scientists. But the fact is, we see a steady increase in the acceptance of evolution when we move from the uneducated to the educated, and from those whose educations are irrelevant to evolution towards those who are more relevant. Thus, the prevalence (or rather paucity) of creationist doctors has a simple explanation.

Much the same can be said of engineers. The perception that there exists a large number of creationist engineers has actually spawned its own bit of internet folk wisdom, known as the Salem hypothesis. Although there are no survey data for engineers specifically as far as I know, I strongly suspect that the percentage of engineers who accept evolution is similar to (though probably somewhat less than) that of doctors. Which is to say, an engineer is far less likely to be a creationist than is a member of the general public, yet is more likely to be a creationist than is a scientist. Assuming this is the case, it doesn’t really require any special explanation.

Ironically, ID/creationists are very keen on giving the impression that they have quality credentials, in spite of the fact that they are very quick to dismiss and vilify the vast majority of credentialed scientists. The propaganda put out by the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations will always mention an advanced degree held by one of their own. This is true even when the degree is of highly questionable relevance. If it seems like there are a lot of engineers and doctors espousing ID, it’s probably just a manifestation of this tactic.

(Cross-posted to Sunbeams From Cucumbers.)

Update
: Dave Scot throws a childish temper tantrum over at UD, claiming that I “trots out a strawman - [that] ID and “evolution” are mutually exclusive”. Except of course I didn’t. Nowhere do I say that evolution and ID are mutually exclusive. The Finkelstein survey pits them that way, but that’s exactly why I used a question that gives people more than two choices. The fact is, no matter what flavor of IDism/creationism one espouses, the survey data make it abundantly clear that doctors are much less likely to buy into it than are the general public. If doctors are therefore considered to hold some sort of special insight into the evolution debate, this does not bode well for the IDists. That is the substance of the post, and naturally Dave Scot totally ignores it. It appears that in his intellectual dishonesty, he’s reduced to slaying strawmen. :)

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Comment #154093

Posted by David B. Benson on January 9, 2007 7:45 PM (e)

Steve — Very nice. However, I suggest a different grouping. Ask these questions of those who have studied at least one quarter (or semester) of biology in college!

I’ll opine that, irrespective of profession or occupation, this group will have about 3/4 accepting ToBE(Theory of Biological Evolution) as opposed to about 1/4 still proclaiming “Goddidit”.

I’ll further opine this accounts for your medical doctor versus engineer percentages, since there are only a few universities which require engineers to take any biology at all..

Comment #154095

Posted by the pro from dover on January 9, 2007 8:02 PM (e)

Another intersting statistic is that the % of doctors in the U.S.A. that are athiests is about 12% (the same as in the general public). There is no question that certain religions are greatly overrepresented in the medical profession when compared to the percentage in the general public. These are Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish in that order.
Regardless it still would suport that at least for doctors faith in God and acceptance of evolution presents little conflict.

Comment #154098

Posted by Tom on January 9, 2007 8:26 PM (e)

This comment about obscurantist tactics in ID is either disingenuous or just laughable. ID proponents are clear about what their program and research are about. Opponents keep distorting it. There’s hardly been a report in the news media in years that has accurately summarized ID.

Comment #154099

Posted by argystokes on January 9, 2007 8:40 PM (e)

Tom,

Do you know what ID research is going on right now? Do you have some insider information as to what Axe et al are doing at the Biologic Institute? Because last I heard, the ID research program was Top Secret.

Comment #154101

Posted by Mark Studdock, FCD on January 9, 2007 8:46 PM (e)

As the first two categories in the chart above are Design positions (Created or guided towards creation by an intelligence” positions) then we can safely say that a majority of doctors (60%) support a design hypothesis as the cause behind the origination of human beings.

God guided evolution is a design position. The word “guided” makes this clear. Thus, many of the claims often touted by anti-ID types concerning the idea that the more educated one is the more likely they believe in evolution, are only valid if evolution is understood as “Design by evolution”. (a design position)

Therefore: Unguided Evolution or the idea that human beings are not the product of intelligent design is a slightly minority position among medical doctors.

MS

Comment #154102

Posted by stevaroni on January 9, 2007 9:08 PM (e)

Well, I’m an engineer, and though I’ve never run a real survey, over the years I’ve found that the majority of us are solidly in the evolution camp.

Most of us learned early and some of us learn the the hard way, that you can’t ignore the laws of nature, and wishing will not make it so.

My profession is littered (sometimes literally) with the bodies of those who decided to pretend things were different than they are, and a few episodes of that are a strong motivator.

Even given that, I still run in to the occasional colleague who professes belief in creation. It may be an uncharitable observation but most of these individuals did not impress me with their technical prowess, and weren’t in a corner of the profession where they had to directly work with the real world..
I was once asked if I’d ever hire an engineer who believed in creationism, and I immediately replied “No. Never”. The woman who asked the question was taken aback, and accused me of religious intolerance. I replied that I simply couldn’t ever trust the professional judgment of someone who was willing to cavalierly ignore mounds of physical evidence.

(Is that actually legal? BTW? It seems like a good reason to me, but it may be legally shakey.)

Comment #154106

Posted by stevaroni on January 9, 2007 9:16 PM (e)

Mark wrote

God guided evolution is a design position.

God guided evolution is a fudge. Nothing more.

It’s the weak fallback position people use when they decide that “poof” doesn’t cut it. It means that they’ve already accepted evolution as a fact, but they can’t quite bring themselves to admit that there probably is no God because the herd around them has been telling them that since they were two.

It’s Pascal’s wager. It’s “well, maybe it’s possible…”, but it still means that they’re already given up on “It is Truth“.

It’s vacuous.

Comment #154107

Posted by harold on January 9, 2007 9:37 PM (e)

I’m a medical doctor by training, practiced an obscure specialty for 11 years including training before getting wise.

You’ll notice on the graphs above that only 15% (or whatever) of doctors claim to be hard core creationists (“God created humans in their present form”).

Although it is certainly possible to practice clinical medicine competently as a creationist, it sure takes a lot of denial. And that’s 15% too many, in the sense that they should no better. However, it’s likely to reflect cultural values rather than actual intellectual beliefs.

Medicine is so loaded with examples of evolution in action, it boggles the mind. Infection. Genetics. The immune and inflammatory systems. Cancer (where individual cells gain a reproductive advantage temporarily due to mutation, but at the ultimate expense of the environment that sustains their very existence).

When I was a medical student (long before I knew that nuts and political schemesters, with apologies but no retraction, denied the theory of evolution), I was amazed at how much evolution made sense of the various odd aspects of humans and the parasites who prey on them. My undergraduate degree was in biology, although my classmates seemed to grasp things like antibiotic resistance, no matter what their background.

I’m personally offended, although not an engineer, by the “engineer as creationist” stereotype. It’s extremely unfair. The fact that a few loud creationists have engineering credentials should not provoke anyone to generalize about an honorable and rational profession.

I’m delighted to note that medical schools are starting to include the theory of evolution as part of the curriculum.

Comment #154113

Posted by Chuck Morrison on January 9, 2007 9:51 PM (e)

I’m a family physician, I accept the evidence for evolution, and I’m an atheist. The religiosity of the docs I’ve met varies widely. In our clinic of 8 physicians, 3 are Christian and the rest are either agnostic or atheist (and this is in Utah). I don’t know, neither have I met, any physician who denies evolution.

Needless to say, I find the current claims at UcD even more bizarre than usual.

Comment #154119

Posted by MarkP on January 9, 2007 10:00 PM (e)

Thus, many of the claims often touted by anti-ID types concerning the idea that the more educated one is the more likely they believe in evolution, are only valid if evolution is understood as “Design by evolution”. (a design position)

What chart are you looking at? Even if we accept your bogus grouping, there is still a clear trend of more acceptance of evolution with increased education.

I’d challenge any creationist to produce a survey of any educated group vs the population that shows otherwise. There’s a reason so much creationist effort is aimed at the ignorant.

Comment #154123

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 9, 2007 10:22 PM (e)

As the first two categories in the chart above are Design positions (Created or guided towards creation by an intelligence” positions) then we can safely say that a majority of doctors (60%) support a design hypothesis as the cause behind the origination of human beings.

Um, no. Saying that God has guided evolution is clearly not a “design” position as defined by the ID movement. This is evidenced by the fact that the doctors were asked directly whether they preferred ID; only 34% said yes, and this is far fewer than the combined total of those who chose options 1 and 2. Assuming that all of those who chose option 1 were IDists, only about a third of those choosing option 2 could have been. The rest of those choosing option 2 were clearly not taking the ID position. Additionally, the leading lights of ID themselves reject theistic evolution, and this is what option 2 would be most closely associated with. I would argue that were the respondents more aware of what the ID movement is really about, a far smaller percentage would have said they preferred ID. This is especially true given that the vast majority of ID advocates would fit squarely into option 1. Option 2 is an outlier position within the ID movement.

Comment #154124

Posted by TheOtherTom on January 9, 2007 10:24 PM (e)

It seems to me that a more relevant datum would be the percentage of professionally trained theologians who understand that evolution is the best explanation for the current state of affairs. I suspect that this would be much higher than for the general public, given the increased education required. Of course, since the cretinists don’t understand data, it would not matter to them.

Comment #154128

Posted by JimV on January 9, 2007 11:17 PM (e)

The first time I heard the ID argument was from a creationist friend. One day, after a tennis match, he pointed to car parked next to a tree and said something like, “See that tree and that car? Can’t you tell that they were both designed?”

I have been a mechanical engineer for many years, mostly designing turbines. My reaction was that anyone who thought that was a convincing argument against evolution probably had never designed anything complex. Design work, like what I understood of evolution, contains a lot of trial-and-error, builds on previous designs incrementally,and is subject to survival in competitive marketplaces. I tried to explain this to my friend using the car as an example. We’ve all seen cars evolve in our lifetimes. Museums are full of extinct forms, like the Model T and the Edsel. They even have vestigial organs which have been adapted to new functions, such as cigarette lighters being used to power electronic equipment.

My friend didn’t accept my analogy, but later when I worked for Cooper Energy Systems, I found the missing link! They have big oil paintings of it on the walls.

Cooper invented the first farm tractor. One painting shows a team of six draft horses, pulling two wagons in tandem, one with a steam engine on it, and the other full of coal. Cooper made the steam engines, and farmers hauled them to their fields to run threshers. Somebody at Cooper got the idea to add a bevel gear so the steam engine could turn a wagon axle.

The next picture shows the same wagon train, with the bevel gear - and a team of two horses still in front! They used the horses for steering! So the first automobile was a mutation of a horse-drawn steam engine.

Comment #154129

Posted by RBH on January 9, 2007 11:43 PM (e)

stevaroni asksed

I was once asked if I’d ever hire an engineer who believed in creationism, and I immediately replied “No. Never”. The woman who asked the question was taken aback, and accused me of religious intolerance. I replied that I simply couldn’t ever trust the professional judgment of someone who was willing to cavalierly ignore mounds of physical evidence.

(Is that actually legal? BTW? It seems like a good reason to me, but it may be legally shakey.)

I made the same assertion to the Ohio State Board of Education, and put it in terms of competence. That’s legal. ‘Course, anyone I’d hire would be for a company that has evolutionary algorithms as its core technology, so it’s a straight line from evolution denial to on-the-job incompetence.

RBH

Comment #154131

Posted by stevaroni on January 9, 2007 11:44 PM (e)

JimV wrote…

My reaction was that anyone who thought that was a convincing argument against evolution probably had never designed anything complex.

I come across this feeling constantly! Most of the people who have argued “design” with me have never designed anything!

They equate design with mere complexity, but those of us who actually do it for a living see much more complicated patterns. Ironically, one of the hallmarks of human design is the exact kind of incremental mechanical “evolution” Jim talks about!

Comment #154150

Posted by Thinker on January 10, 2007 2:46 AM (e)

As a potential future patient, it scares me somewhat to learn that nearly two-thirds of all doctors believe some form of divine intervention was involved in the process that brought forth our species; as a corollary, do they also believe divine intervention is a key success factor in the outcome of a medical treatment?

Comment #154160

Posted by S.V. on January 10, 2007 4:51 AM (e)

I’m an engineer (that is the literal translation of the title I’m allowed to use after I graduated). I know next to nothing about biology but after encountering the argument of evolution is a lie because something as complex as the eye has to be designed I did what anyone making such arguments (or countering them) should do and that is study the area of the argument.
What I found out was that calling the eye (or generally anything else that people substitute for the eye) designed is an insult to both engineers (and other professions which design) and to christians.
If I’d design something the way that most things I’ve looked at in biological systems I’d probably not only lose my job but have a chance of ending up in jail due to criminal neglect (and have a chance of the graduating title to be revoked).

And that is why those it has to be designed arguments are also an insult to christians. It depicts God as an incompetent moron.
Which scares me. What kind of christian wants to get rid of something like evolution so bad because it contradicts a single chapter in the bible that they are willing to demean God to achieve their end.

Comment #154181

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on January 10, 2007 5:35 AM (e)

the Salem hypothesis.

I think there is a conflation with another bit of internet folk wisdom, that a high percentage of kooks are engineers.

The general sentiment goes way back before the internet, since some entrepreneurs with spectacular products and failures pretend to be engineers or actually are engineers.

Another and real reason IMO is that while many engineers may have widely varied training and practice, a rather common factor is a high pressure work situation. An enforced “can do” attitude helps when quickly formulating solutions for new problems. This may translate less well to vocal hubris and severe mistakes if engineers take the approach into areas where they don’t get the needed feedback from tests.

AJ Milne made an interesting observation that explains any Salem engineers. The above may also translate to an easy ‘solution’ by ‘goddidit design’. ( http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2007/01/why-are-so-… ) So instead of simply a kook you get a simple ID kook.

The Salem hypotheses says that engineers sees design and naively believes by analogy in a designer. The hypothesis is a metaexample of the same mistake, reason by naive analogy between engineers work and what some of them believe. I note that it is said to be often used for its humor value. I can see why.

Comment #154199

Posted by Frank J on January 10, 2007 6:04 AM (e)

Tom wrote:

There’s hardly been a report in the news media in years that has accurately summarized ID.

That’s because the media can’t resist the sensationalism of “ID sneaks in God.” The truth is that ID merely sneaks in an unknown designer or designers who, according to Behe, might no longer exist, and according to Dembski, might be themselves designed.

The media rarely gets it straight that chief ID advocates no longer promote teaching about a designer in public schools, but only the misrepresentations of evolution. Students (the few that have any interest) can fill in their unreasonable doubt about evolution with “some designer did something, but don’t ask who, what, when, or how” where design-speak is not so legally risky.

The media also can’t resist the ambiguous “ID ‘is’ creationism” line either. But unlike the mutually contradictory classic creationisms, ID does not make any testable claims as to when and how the designs were actuated in biolgoical systems. Chief IDers seem to know that classic creationism is a mess of scientific failures and irreconcilable differences. But you won’t hear that from an IDer or the media.

The media rarely resists going on a tangent about the religious aspect of ID, when the real juicy part is how ID cherry picks evidence, conflates definitions and concepts, and quote mines like there’s no tomorrow.

IOW, ID is a classic pseudoscience bait-and-switch scam that is more at odds with mainstream monotheistic religion than evolution can ever hope to be.

C’mon, media, get it right for once.

Comment #154205

Posted by demallien on January 10, 2007 6:55 AM (e)

Damn you to the Ninth Hell Frank J!!! Could you at least put a warning at the start of such posts so that we can take our Sarcasm-meters off-line…
grumble, mutter, repair bill, groan, mutter, unavailable, grumble, 6 weeks, damn….

:-)

Comment #154206

Posted by Greg Laden on January 10, 2007 6:59 AM (e)

Here is what I would like to actually be assessed in these sorts of surveys:

Do you believe X is best explained by modern evolutionary biology, the widely accepted science underlying all the different subfields of biology, or do you believe that X is best explained by direct intervention of a creator such as the Judeo-Christian God?

God/Science (check one)

_____ _____ The Origin of Life (on earth)

_____ _____ The Origin of Life on Mars (if it is discovered there)

_____ _____ The rise of new species as seen in the fossil record

_____ _____ Major changes over time such as the evolution of the immune system

_____ _____ The evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria

_____ _____ The origin and rise of modern humans

_____ _____ Major changes in human prehistory such as upright walking.

For that matter, I’d like to see these questions specifically dealt with by the IDCers. In fact, I think I’ll go over there and ask them…

Comment #154207

Posted by 2hulls on January 10, 2007 7:02 AM (e)

I accepted the TOE vs Creation long before I became an engineer.

It was about the same time I stopped believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.

I’ll propose that it’s (obviously) possession of logical and critical thought processes that inevitably lead one to the rational conclusion - and may lead one to a profession requiring the same - rather than the other way ‘round.

JMHO

Dave

Comment #154228

Posted by Michael Hopkins on January 10, 2007 7:30 AM (e)

I think the the Salem hypothesis is perfectly valid though it can be easily misinterpreted. Historically the set of people who get presented as creation “scientists” tends to be heavier on engineers rather than what is traditionally called scientists. That reality does not mean that engineers are more likely to be creationists than the public at large. And indeed I would strongly suspect that engineers have significantly less percentage believers in creationism than the general public though more than scientists and very much more than professional biologists. Or in other words, not all that doctors as the article points out.

One might point out opposition to creationism from the engineers who dislike the misuse of their professions such as An Engineer Looks at the Creationist Movement John W. Patterson from 1982.

Comment #154239

Posted by BlastfromthePast on January 10, 2007 9:23 AM (e)

I have a degree in biology. Let’s look at the courses that one takes to get such a degree. As either a freshman or a soph, one takes general biology. Yes, evolution is discussed and stated as a proven fact. But, of course, no one is equipped at that time to dispute this “fact”. Then one takes embryology, or something equivalent. One is studying anatomy and various stages of development–evolution has nothing to do with either. Then as a junior and senior you take cell biology, genetics, endocrinology, animal behavior, etc., all of which PRESUPPOSE evolution–no one actually discusses it one way or the other; it’s simply presumed. However, when you take chordate morphology, there you expect–as I did–to have a discussion of evolution, a demonstration of known missing links, etc. But that doesn’t happen there either. The closest one comes to a missing link is the African Lungfish. In my case, all of this left me scratching my head since I received a degree in biology without EVER having a discussion about evolution (oh, perhaps in the general biology class, but like I say, it was standard fare and what would we know about the weaknesses of the theory). And, for the next 13 years, I merrily went on my way thinking that evolution must somehow be true, even though I had never really been given an explanation of it.

The point being: it is no small wonder that many scientists, and even many doctors–as they took many of the same classes–would “believe” in evolution, because they had no reason NOT to believe it since: 1) it was stated as a proven fact, and 2) it was never discussed outside of being presented as a fact.

And, one can easily live out a life as a biologist (other than being a paleontologist or evolutionary biologist) without ever using the ToE. Most biologists in labs “presume” evolution; but what they really do in the lab is to see that A is different from B, and then try to figure out how A got to be B, which is to say that, if you replace the word “evolution” with the word “change” it would neither add, nor subtract, from the meaning and import of almost every paper written that includes the word “evolution”.

So, if 34% of doctors DON’T believe in evolution, well, I think that’s saying something. But—-does anyone out there have ears to listen with?

Comment #154241

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 9:41 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast: You sound an awful lot like Larry Fafarman – same dogged repetition of nonsensical or irrelevant points that have been conclusively refuted long ago. And whether or not you’re Larry, a certian matter of timing leads me to conclude that “Me” in another post is really you.

Then…you take cell biology, genetics, endocrinology, animal behavior, etc., all of which PRESUPPOSE evolution–no one actually discusses it one way or the other; it’s simply presumed.

I’ll bet you also took a lot of history and geography classes, all of which PRESUPPOSE round-Earth-ism -– no one actually discusses it one way or the other; it’s simply presumed.

And, one can easily live out a life as a biologist (other than being a paleontologist or evolutionary biologist) without ever using the ToE.

One can also easily live out a life as a Discovery Institute spokesdweeb without ever using the “theory” of “intelligent design.” Your point…?

So, if 34% of doctors DON’T believe in evolution, well, I think that’s saying something.

What, exactly, do you “think” they’re “saying?” Of course, if any of those doctors did any actual scientific work to disprove evolution, and published the results in peer-reviewed publications, that might “say” a little bit more, don’t you “think?”

Comment #154242

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 9:45 AM (e)

PS: If you’re Larry, and you really have a degree in biology, then why did you become an engineer? Didn’t understand the biology stuff well enough? (You say you have a degree in biology, but you don’t say you actually became a biologist, or mention any significant work you did as such. Telling omission, that.)

Comment #154248

Posted by argystokes on January 10, 2007 10:11 AM (e)

Nah, Blast’s not Larry. (S)He was around here long before Fafarman, and is far less persistant.

Comment #154256

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 10, 2007 10:28 AM (e)

Blastfromthepast wrote:

I have a degree in biology. Let’s look at the courses that one takes to get such a degree…

This wasn’t my experience as a biology major at all. You should probably ask for your money back.

So, if 34% of doctors DON’T believe in evolution, well, I think that’s saying something.

Try reading the survey. The percentage of doctors who say they don’t believe in evolution is only 15%. Although strangely enough, 18% say that they think God created humans exactly as they are now. Who knows what people are thinking when they answer these surveys.

Comment #154257

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 10, 2007 10:38 AM (e)

I think there is a conflation with another bit of internet folk wisdom, that a high percentage of kooks are engineers.

The general sentiment goes way back before the internet, since some entrepreneurs with spectacular products and failures pretend to be engineers or actually are engineers.

My take on that is that engineers tend, more than most other professions, to consider their engineering expertise to give them special insight into just about everything. My dad is one, though he’s not a creationist and has never tried to market some sort of miracle device. But he’ll bring up the fact that he’s an engineer at the oddest of times.

That is also why there are (or appear) to be a lot of creationist engineers. It’s not that being an engineer makes one more likely to be a creationist, it’s that creationists who have an engineering degree believe that their degree makes them special, so they talk about their credentials constantly.

Comment #154258

Posted by mark on January 10, 2007 10:39 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

I received a degree in biology without EVER having a discussion about evolution (oh, perhaps in the general biology class, but like I say, it was standard fare and what would we know about the weaknesses of the theory).

Evolution has nothing to do with anatomy? Or development? Evolution is not discussed in genetics class? What sort of school is this?
I have degrees in geology, but wound up as a hydrologist. What courses did I take to get such a degree? Introductory biology, Physical geology, historical geology, paleontology, ecology, evolution, paleoecology, marine biology, among others. At the schools I attended, there were frequent opportunities to question the materials being taught. No one brought up most of the standard Creationist arguments because, well, for the most part we all knew they were baseless. Of course, we can find examples like Kurt Wise or Jonathan Wells, who studied the science yet are challenged when regarding the evidence. In Geotimes, one can find the occasional letter to the editor from a geologist defending creationism (usually from the economic or engineering geology sectors). But on the whole, I think that biologists and geologists (and other scientists) tend to accept evolution as well-founded because of their consideration that it best explains the evidence, rather than because of rote learning or acceptance of dogma.

Comment #154263

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 11:26 AM (e)

The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.

Another reason is the one existing behind all of ID, the anthropomorphic/animistic tendency to ascribe intentional action where natural causes are not readily apparent. IOW, evolution is actually very complex and takes considerable study to recognize “at a glance”. “Design” can be “seen” without having to learn much of anything.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154265

Posted by J. Biggs on January 10, 2007 11:34 AM (e)

I am a dentist, (which I think counts as a doctor), and I definitely accept evolution as the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life. One question I am commonly asked by my patients is “Why do we have wisdom teeth?” My practice is located in the bible belt and I have a fair number of “Creationist” clientele. When I mention that humans have evolved smaller jaws over time which can not accommodate the same size and number of teeth that they could in past generations, I get this “I don’t believe in evolution.” so I have come up with a few different responses to satisfy IDers and Creationists.

The creationist asks, “Why do I have Wisdom teeth?”
Answer 1. Because God doesn’t like you.
Answer 2. Oral surgeons gotta eat too.
Answer 3. With your poor oral hygiene, God thought that one of these days you might need some extra teeth.

The IDer asks, “Why do I have Wisdom teeth?”
Answer 1. You are a product of faulty design.
Answer 2. The design was probably good but a cut rate manufacturing process got the size of your jaw all wrong.
Answer 3. It’s the designer’s attempt at a prank.

If anyone has anything to add I would appreciate it. I just want to keep my patients happy.

Comment #154269

Posted by mark on January 10, 2007 11:43 AM (e)

When I hear someone say “It looks like design, therefore it is design,” I’m reminded of the old commercial for the Ford Grenada: “It looks like a Mercedes…” When you consider some of the recent advances in science, look at how the observations were made. In many cases, it is impossible to simply “look” and see the feature in question; observation may be based on the scattering of elections or the mass of ions; then, it may be necessary to apply sophisticated statistical techniques to differentiate effects of some treatments. What something looks like can be misleading or uninterpretable.

Comment #154271

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on January 10, 2007 11:44 AM (e)

Hey Blast, I thought you had sworn us off for good for daring to debate with you? (by the way, Blast is just Blast - there’s no reason to believe otherwise, and he certainly isn’t Larry, whose computer is currently dead)

By the way, did you take a look at the colony discussion thread that you abandoned? It’s in the mid-February archives. I’m willing to take up where we left off…

Comment #154275

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 11:58 AM (e)

As for why some doctors may be creationists, anyone with a passing familiarity with women’s health issues can confirm that even the best doctors are capable of feats of reactionary prejudice that will amaze and astound mortal men. (Mortal women are used to it.) Stories abound of progress on a medical issue being stalled, not by lack of knowledge or resources, but by doctors who simply don’t care enough, or are too unwilling to think outside their comfort-zone, to forge ahead – even when paying customers are begging them to do so.

Comment #154278

Posted by BlastfromthePast on January 10, 2007 12:11 PM (e)

W.Kevin Vicklund:
“By the way, did you take a look at the colony discussion thread that you abandoned? It’s in the mid-February archives. I’m willing to take up where we left off…”

No, Kevin, I don’t. I don’t want to waste my time, which is exactly why I stopped posting here.

As to the colony discussion, I’m just waiting for the article that will demonstrate my side of the argument, and then I will quite happily throw it in your face. So, till then, ta ta….

P.S. It was UCLA I attended. In fact, I was in grad school in Medicial Microbiology for a while. I left the area because I didn’t really have a particular interest in it (But I must say, if they were doing the kinds of things that they’re doing today, I’d probably have been very interested) I got a degree in engineering to make money. (Biogen didn’t exist then) Hope that answers a few questions. And as to the general point I was making, you might check out Michael Denton’s, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis”, since he had a fairly similar experience. Ta ta, de neuvo……

Comment #154281

Posted by J. Biggs on January 10, 2007 12:24 PM (e)

The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.

I don’t really agree. I do agree that for the most part physicians don’t do much evolutionary research, but there are tons of medical literature that prove the above statement false. Even if a clinician doesn’t do the research them self, the treatments they render to treat trauma, infection, cancer, etc… depend on pier reviewed scientific research. When a particular modality is chosen for treatment, I would hope the physician rendering treatment is using the most current research so as to provide you, me and his/her other patients with the highest probability of a positive outcome.

Comment #154283

Posted by Frank J on January 10, 2007 12:26 PM (e)

Demallien: Sorry about your meter. If you have a new one, please turn it off:

I’m no fan of the media, which mostly helps, if not outright favors, ID, but in all fairness, ID is crafted such that one either “misunderstands it” or unambiguously raves about it. Here’s why:

If an IDer says that ID detects design, and a critic accuses ID of “Goddidit,” the IDer says “you misunderstand ID, it’s not creationism, all it claims is that there are major problems with ‘Darwinism’.”

If an IDer rattles off ID’s objections to “Darwinism” (the usual creationist canards), and a critic accuses ID of being creationism in disguise, the IDer says “you misunderstand ID, it’s not creationism, all it claims is evidence of design in biology.”

IOW, it reduces to:

If the ID critic says ID=A, the IDer says “no, ID=B.”
If the ID critic says ID=B, the IDer says “no, ID=A.”

The trick is to choose the words carefully so that most people will miss the bait-and-switch, no matter how effective the critic is.

Meanwhile, IDers have admitted that they found nothing about the designers’ identity/identities, whereabouts, whether still in existence or themselves designed. And they have admitted that they don’t even try to hypothesize, much less test, what the outsmarted, but still (permanently?) missing, designer(s) did with regard to biology that would make for a promising alternative to evolution, much less validate any of the mutually contradictory creationist accounts. Oh yes, and Michael Behe admitted under oath that, to accommodate ID, the rules of science must be relaxed such that astrology is also accommodated.

Put that way, ID is no comfort at all those hoping to (1) find a better theory than evolution or (2) find God in the gaps or (3) validate any of the mutually contradictory “literal” interpretations of Genesis. But as long as most criticisms of ID do not put it that way, ID wins the PR game - even with 34% of doctors. Any wonder why IDers don’t even try to do science?

Comment #154285

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 12:33 PM (e)

The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.

I don’t really agree. I do agree that for the most part physicians don’t do much evolutionary research, but there are tons of medical literature that prove the above statement false.

So, uh, there’s medical literature. Which proves that physicians are scientists. Gotcha.

Even if a clinician doesn’t do the research them self, the treatments they render to treat trauma, infection, cancer, etc… depend on pier reviewed scientific research.

No piers need review any scientific literature. Let them do what they’re supposed to do, dock ships.

Which seems as sensible as your presumed point, that doctors use peer-reviewed results. Yes, of course they do. What has that to do with anything I’ve written?

When a particular modality is chosen for treatment, I would hope the physician rendering treatment is using the most current research so as to provide you, me and his/her other patients with the highest probability of a positive outcome.

Well okay then.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154286

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 12:40 PM (e)

I got a degree in engineering to make money.

You could have made money in biology – provided, of course, you got an adequate education in it. Having to get a totally different degree “to make money” screams “failure” in no uncertain terms.

As to the colony discussion, I’m just waiting for the article that will demonstrate my side of the argument, and then I will quite happily throw it in your face. So, till then, ta ta…

If you had an article on hand to “demonstrate your side” when you argued it, then you would not be “waiting” for such an article today. Therefore, your “side” was utterly unsupported then, it’s utterly unsupported now, and all you’re doing is making groundless assertions and telling us to wait for you to back them up at some unspecified future time. No wonder you couldn’t make money in your chosen field.

Comment #154287

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 12:42 PM (e)

Blast needs his own emoticon: -‘:-(

Comment #154289

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 12:44 PM (e)

Okay, it looked better in Courier: a frowny-face with an “L” on the forehead. Damn that automatic fiddling-about with the quote-marks…

Comment #154290

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 12:45 PM (e)

But as long as most criticisms of ID do not put it that way, ID wins the PR game - even with 34% of doctors. Any wonder why IDers don’t even try to do science?

Sure, but then again, if they did any transparent science they’d presumably lose a good many percentage points out of that 34%. So it’s not just that they needn’t do any to snooker the public, including many physicians, they need to do none in order that the vacuousness of ID not be revealed (not by the sorts of people the fundies trust, that is).

I put “transparent” in italics, though, since it looks like there might be some low-budget attempts to do ID science (it is unlikely that it’s really ID science, however, just evolution bashing. But we don’t know for sure because transparency is anathema to them). Just don’t expect any full-disclosure, like if they manage to get “Darwinism” to work in some cases. They’ll only give us cases where it didn’t work, never mind the fact that these will, in all probability, be where it wouldn’t be expected to produce positive results.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154294

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on January 10, 2007 1:10 PM (e)

It is unfortunate that you feel it is a waste of time - you might have learned something, and I certainly learned a lot during the debate. But I think your abandonment of the debate has more to do with you realizing you had made a number of mistakes that when corrected counter your own pet theory than with any actual mistreatment you may have received. Mistakes like not reading graphs and charts properly, simple and persistent math errors, and deliberately equivocating between synonymous phrases in the paper being discussed.

By the way, for those interested, the discussion took place
here. WARNING: very long (256 messages) and quite technical - lots of math

Anyway, to bring this somewhat back on topic, I am an engineer without any college level biology (that doesn’t mean I haven’t studied on my own, though). Yet I took on and embarrassed someone who claims to have received grad level instruction in biology. And this illustrates the danger that engineers face - we are trained to analyze models and make judgements on their validity. That training is supposed to be cross-discipline. But it is very easy to overlook the background knowledge necessary to construct a model in the first place, and therefore we may lack the knowledge of when a model no longer applies. I try to always research any basic model and its limitations before engaging in a debate, but often in the workplace that is not an option - you have to go with what you know. One other thing I was trained in that not all engineers are trained to do is to honestly assess a competing model, in a manner fair or even favorable to the competing model (while still remaining realistic, of course).

I have made incorrect arguments in the past, and I am sure I will in the future. But the best way to prevent that is to be honest with myself, admit that I don’t know everything, and research it as much as I reasonably can before opening my big fat mouth. Unfortunately, all too many people don’t do that.

If a paper does come out that appears to refute Boraas et al., please let me know, Blast. I’m more than willing to discuss the implications. Forgive me for not holding my breath.

Comment #154309

Posted by Moses on January 10, 2007 2:33 PM (e)

Comment #154239

Posted by BlastfromthePast on January 10, 2007 9:23 AM (e)

So, if 34% of doctors DON’T believe in evolution, well, I think that’s saying something. But—-does anyone out there have ears to listen with?

You forget Blast, at one time nobody believed in evolution and the percentage was as close to 100% as could be gotten. That it is still at 34% of doctors (though I think you got the number wrong, I think it’s really 15%) just shows there is still a significant portion that are wrong and/or ignorant and/or brainwashed to the point scientific incompetence.

It also shows that 66% (85% really) have gone beyond primitive superstitious beliefs and have a clue.

In the world of ideas - creationism is the loser. It had 100% of the market share. Now, it’s losing ground, with the excessively religious United States the last first-world bastion of superstitious nonsense.

Comment #154319

Posted by stevaroni on January 10, 2007 2:56 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'I'

Comment #154320

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 2:58 PM (e)

Tom: What about the IDers who testified under oath in the Dover trial? Did they also misunderstand and/or misrepresent “the real ID?” If so, how?

So tell us, now that you have our attention, what ID is REALLY about.

Comment #154322

Posted by Stevaroni on January 10, 2007 3:04 PM (e)

it is no small wonder that many scientists…would “believe” in evolution… since: 1) it was stated as a proven fact, and 2) it was never discussed outside of being presented as a fact.

As an engineer, I took many classes that involved electron theory and stated it as a proven fact, and never discussed it outside of being a proven fact.

Why – because it’s a proven fact.

It provides a predictable model of the world that works in practice – the essential aspect of all theory used in engineering.

How essential? Even if electron theory were somehow proven wrong, and the world wasn’t made of atoms, we’d still have to treat it that way because that model works.

I don’t see any utility in all telling students “Here’s an established model that always works out there in the real world and appears to be proven fact, but if you don’t like that, here’s an alternate theory that boils down to a vague philosophy that has no demonstrable impact on the real world at all”.

Frankly, I would have been rather unhappy if someone had wasted a bunch of my time in college making me take courses where we discussed the merits of discredited ideas like the flat earth and wave propagation via the eather, and would probably resent having to pay for the privilege of being tested on it to boot.

I don’t think I need to know anything more about the theory of lightning bolts as the tools of God than “People once thought this. They were wrong. We got new information and moved on.”

That’s why I went to college in the first place, rather than get my electrical education from Aunt Patty, even though she did have some entertaining ideas about electrical outlets, hair dryers, and government mind control via bobby pins.

I went to a good college and paid a lot of money for the privilege precisely because I expected them to teach me the most up-to-date information, not historical detritus that made people feel good.

Bad ideas that came before might be a historical footnote but, unless it’s a mistake I’m likely to repeat, that’s all they are and that’s all the time I need to spend on them.

Comment #154323

Posted by harold on January 10, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

Frequent commentator Glen Davidson wrote -

“The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.”

Most physicians may not possess Davidon’s expertise on “electric consciousness”, but…

1) A large number of physicians are trained in research at the doctoral and post-doctoral level, either before, during, or after their medical training.

2) Clinical medicine is a very applied and macroscopic field, but both clinical research and individual clinical decisions are strongly grounded in the scientific method.

3) At any rate, the numbers actually show that physicians overwhelmingly accept the theory of evolution. The 15% or so who declare that “humans were created by God in their present form” may, in addition to expressing a cultural bias, be older - the age breakdown is not given.

4) Medical schools are beginning to add basic evolutionary biology to the curriculum (caveat - medical students are already overworked). This may reflect a general silver lining of the “ID controversy”. In the end, it did far more to energize supporters of science than to advance the cause of forcing nonsense into the high school curriculum of a few isolated rural school districts.

Comment #154327

Posted by mplavcan on January 10, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

Having been training in an anatomy department in a prominent medical school, and having taught medical students for 16 years, the fact that 34% agree with ID is as meaningless as saying that 34% of plumbers accept it. Most premeds are focused on biology as a necessary requisite to medical school (an incorrect but common assumption), and take the required courses. Most undergraduate biology courses regularly discuss evolution, but few that are required for medical school go into the details in great depth. None that I know of directly and systematically adress creationst crap. During my undergraduate experience, enrollment in comparative anatomy was 8 – the premeds avoided it because it was difficult to earn an A in that class. Evolution was dealt with in depth only in upper level classes, mostly populated by biology majors interested in biology, and not premed.

Physicians are not trained as scientists unless they are in a specialized program. Most medical students are so overwhelmed with the workload that they care only about scoring enough to pass their core classes. In gross anatomy, we repeatedly offered evolutionary insights into human anatomy. While it helped some students, many simply ignored it and stuck with memorizing names and places.

Many of the clinicians that we dealt with had little exposure to science beyond the simple double-blind trial. Some were amazingly ignorant of comparative anatomy and evolution.

The one creationist engineer that I dealt with over the years was shockingly ignorant of biology and the second law of thermodynamics. Other engineers that I know expressed embarrassment that this gentleman was so publicly assertive on a topic about which he knew nothing.

Unfortunately, this survey is simply playing off the fact that the public views physicians as really smart and rich, thereby lending a greater weight to their opinions. College professors, of course, fall into the realm of “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” And we wonder about why the American public is so poorly educated in science.

Comment #154329

Posted by stevaroni on January 10, 2007 3:21 PM (e)

Jbiggs wrote…
When I mention that humans have evolved smaller jaws over time which can not accommodate the same size and number of teeth that they could in past generations, I get this “I don’t believe in evolution.” … If anyone has anything to add I would appreciate it.

How about

“Well, these are clearly heathen Darwinist teeth that aren’t getting the message! Look at all the trouble they’re causing in this otherwise well-designed mouth! Better get ‘em out of there before their crazy talk starts corrupting your appendix and tailbone too!”

(or better yet, with men, add “nipples”, that’s always good for a head scratcher)

Comment #154335

Posted by harold on January 10, 2007 3:27 PM (e)

That’s odd, my comments wouldn’t post. I’m sure it’s a coincidence, and I’ll try again.

Glen Davidson wrote -

“The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.”

This statement is biased and not strictly correct, and responses to it certainly deserve to be allowed.

My disappearing response was that, while physicians as a group may lack Davidson’s expertise in “electric consciousness”, they do have scientific grounding.

1) Many physicians have doctoral or post-doctoral scientific training, either before, during, or after their clinical training.

2) Clinical medicine is very applied and macroscopic, but it does employ the scientific method, and even individual clinical decision making is grounded in the scientific method.

3) The numbers in the post at the top of thread do not show that physicians reject evolution at all, but that about 80-85% accept the theory of evolution. I do find a 15-20% creationist level surprisingly high. We aren’t told what the ages or religious and cultural backgrounds of these self-reportedly creationist physicians are.

4) Medical schools are introducing courses in evolutionary biology as we speak. Although medical students are massively overloaded as it is, this is a good idea.

Comment #154337

Posted by J. Biggs on January 10, 2007 3:30 PM (e)

The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow)

Agreed most physicians are clinicians in general practice or a chosen specialty.

, and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.

Many of these clinicians also conduct clinical research which requires the ability to do “real” science. And there are also those that do almost no clinical work and spend the vast majority of their time conducting research. This is how physicians find out drug A works better than B,C or D. or that one procedure yields better clinical results than another. All of the medicines prescribed and procedures that are performed are done the way they are because of scientific methodology. There are some articles in medical journals that don’t require “real” science such as individual case studies and literature review articles, but the important articles, the ones that have an impact on how the medical community practices, for the most part follow scientific methodology. In order for physicians to discern the good research from the crap, they must also understand how “real” science works.

I just don’t like broad generalizations like this one because it is disrespectful to all the physicians that use “real” science. (And yes I do recognize that you put in “most” as a disclaimer in your first post.)

So, uh, there’s medical literature. Which proves that physicians are scientists. Gotcha.

I didn’t say all physicians were scientists; my point was that the research reported on in the medical literature uses scientific methodology to discover how procedures and drugs can be used more efficaciously; And that to understand the literature one has to understand how “real” science works.

In all, I usually agree with your posts Glenn, just not this one. I wasn’t really clear in my first post and misspelled a word, but I am not stupid and don’t appreciate being treated that way. Steve just has a much better point that education level, (especially in the biological sciences) is much more likely to determine who buys into ID/Creationism.

Comment #154339

Posted by J. Biggs on January 10, 2007 3:48 PM (e)

How about

“Well, these are clearly heathen Darwinist teeth that aren’t getting the message! Look at all the trouble they’re causing in this otherwise well-designed mouth! Better get ‘em out of there before their crazy talk starts corrupting your appendix and tailbone too!”

(or better yet, with men, add “nipples”, that’s always good for a head scratcher)

Excellent, I think I’ll use that. I suppose I was destined to be heathen Darwinist seeing as how “Biggs” means supernumerary nipple in Old English.

Comment #154349

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 4:19 PM (e)

Frequent commentator Glen Davidson wrote -

“The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.”

Most physicians may not possess Davidon’s expertise on “electric consciousness”, but…

1) A large number of physicians are trained in research at the doctoral and post-doctoral level, either before, during, or after their medical training.

Gee, you’d think that “though they are taught the how science proceeds” might cover that well enough in a “short answer”.

Also, notice the caveat, “(most of them, anyhow)”. And try answering what I wrote, “do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all” which came after that caveat (and thus is governed by the caveat). Do most of them have to be able to do science in the real sense, or not?

2) Clinical medicine is a very applied and macroscopic field, but both clinical research and individual clinical decisions are strongly grounded in the scientific method.

Did anyone say otherwise, or is this just a strawman that you attack in lieu of your inability to find any honest objections to what I wrote? Of course the scientific method is important to clinical medicine, however it is not necessary that one does science (or knows how to), in the real sense. I come from a background where I knew creationist physicians, such as my father, who I’m afraid had little knowledge of science at large even if they were competent in their respective practices.

3) At any rate, the numbers actually show that physicians overwhelmingly accept the theory of evolution. The 15% or so who declare that “humans were created by God in their present form” may, in addition to expressing a cultural bias, be older - the age breakdown is not given.

UD, via DaveScot, made one good point, that “accepting evolution” is not tantamount to rejecting ID—or anyhow, they deny that it is. I have argued that it is close to being the same thing ( http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/01/relea… ), but many IDists believe otherwise. And since we’re discussing what people believe, and not what ID amounts to, it would be better to stick with the 34% figure rather than using sleight of hand to reduce it down to the percentage of admitted creationists (yes, I am saying that I agree with DaveScot’s complaint about this post).

Comment #154350

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 4:21 PM (e)

continuing from above:

4) Medical schools are beginning to add basic evolutionary biology to the curriculum (caveat - medical students are already overworked). This may reflect a general silver lining of the “ID controversy”. In the end, it did far more to energize supporters of science than to advance the cause of forcing nonsense into the high school curriculum of a few isolated rural school districts.

It remains to be seen what the effect is in the general public, however encouraging an emphasis on evolution in med schools may be. I do not, however, think that ID’s push is the only factor in increasing the coverage of evolution in universities and colleges. Instead it probably reflects to some extent the increasing importance of evolutionary knowledge in disease progression (like cancer), of phylogenetic analyses of pathogens and of genetic diseases, and in the general explosion of evolutionary knowledge about humans and their relatives.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154353

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 4:28 PM (e)

That’s odd, my comments wouldn’t post. I’m sure it’s a coincidence, and I’ll try again.

Glen Davidson wrote -

“The short answer for why so many physicians reject evolution is that they aren’t scientists (most of them, anyhow), and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.”

This statement is biased and not strictly correct, and responses to it certainly deserve to be allowed.

My disappearing response was that, while physicians as a group may lack Davidson’s expertise in “electric consciousness”, they do have scientific grounding.

Perhaps you don’t know about the server, but it behooves you to be more circumspect in your insinuations regarding what happens to your posts, as well as the strawmen you set up in order to knock down.

What I wrote certainly suggested that physicians do indeed have a scientific grounding, while you wish to imply that I didn’t allow for that. Why you have to distort reasonable claims on my part in order to make your pedantic points is beyond me.

And back up your claims that my comment was “biased”, unless you adhere to the IDist version of “science”. You didn’t address what I actually wrote, you simply attacked your faulty comprehension of my post and proceeded to attack me as if I were responsible for your lack of comprehension.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154373

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 4:52 PM (e)

, and, though they are taught the how science proceeds, they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all.

Many of these clinicians also conduct clinical research which requires the ability to do “real” science.

Why do you think I wrote “(most of them, anyhow)”? I meant to head off objections from those who’d set up strawmen and attack them, at least from anyone who read what I wrote properly.

And there are also those that do almost no clinical work and spend the vast majority of their time conducting research. This is how physicians find out drug A works better than B,C or D. or that one procedure yields better clinical results than another. All of the medicines prescribed and procedures that are performed are done the way they are because of scientific methodology. There are some articles in medical journals that don’t require “real” science such as individual case studies and literature review articles, but the important articles, the ones that have an impact on how the medical community practices, for the most part follow scientific methodology. In order for physicians to discern the good research from the crap, they must also understand how “real” science works.

Okay, so you’re off objecting to your strawman. I wrote that most of them don’t have to be able to do science in the real sense, and you’re fighting against the notion that physicians don’t have to be able to understand “real science”. I could have added, in a longer answer (apparently some people don’t understand what “short answer” actually means—it means that it isn’t a comprehensive answer ferChrissake), that even though physicians must understand “real science” to a significant extent in their particular field, they don’t have to know how to apply it beyond that field (which is also true of many scientists, yet doing science regularly tends to give them more perspective).

Beyond that, physicians don’t really have to be reading the actual scientific papers in their field, and most actually don’t read very many. They tend operate more on distillations of those papers.

I just don’t like broad generalizations like this one because it is disrespectful to all the physicians that use “real” science. (And yes I do recognize that you put in “most” as a disclaimer in your first post.)

So why do you claim it’s a “broad generalization”? You neither respond to the narrowness of what I did write (“do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all”), nor act as if the caveat had been written, nor write as though I had acknowledged even in that very “short answer” that physicians are taught how science proceeds. You’re attacking me for what you imagine I wrote and what you imagine I didn’t write, not at all responding to what I did write.

So, uh, there’s medical literature. Which proves that physicians are scientists. Gotcha.

I didn’t say all physicians were scientists; my point was that the research reported on in the medical literature uses scientific methodology to discover how procedures and drugs can be used more efficaciously; And that to understand the literature one has to understand how “real” science works.

And I never claimed that physicians don’t understand how “real science” works, did I? I wrote that they don’t have to be able to do science in the real sense, so you’re responding to something I didn’t write.

In all, I usually agree with your posts Glenn, just not this one. I wasn’t really clear in my first post and misspelled a word, but I am not stupid and don’t appreciate being treated that way.

Yeah, and I don’t appreciate being treated as if I had claimed that physicians aren’t given a good grounding in science. If you’re going to write a post that shows a lack of comprehension of what I wrote, don’t expect a kind response to your false claims that the post you failed to comprehend is in some manner “false”.

Steve just has a much better point that education level, (especially in the biological sciences) is much more likely to determine who buys into ID/Creationism.

That’s hardly new or interesting, and it doesn’t explain why so many physicians are open to ID, now does it? That’s the point I was tackling, while you’re off complaining about claims that I never made.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154381

Posted by harold on January 10, 2007 5:04 PM (e)

Glen Davidson -

I’d like to clarify for others who may be confused, that I did not, to the best of my knowledge, create any “straw man”.

My reading comprehension is very strong, so much so that if I suffer “faulty comprehension”, it may reflect the material, rather than my reading of it.

I suppose that our disagreement hinges partly on the interpretation of the subjective terminology “do real science”. Perhaps you could clarify specifically what constitutes “doing real science”.

Comment #154385

Posted by Henry J on January 10, 2007 5:25 PM (e)

Re “(or better yet, with men, add “nipples”, that’s always good for a head scratcher)”

Isn’t a possible answer to that simply that suppressing those for males would require adding stuff to the genome? (And, maybe the suppressing of them doesn’t really have particular benefit.)

Comment #154389

Posted by harold on January 10, 2007 5:29 PM (e)

Glen Davidson -

I’d like to add that, for the record, I have no major disagreement with anything you’ve written in this thread, although I would never deliberately use “straw man” argument techniques. (Note - possibly, this may not apply to simultaneously posted items, but it probably does.)

As someone with a medical degree who has also done some research, I am familiar with the tension that sometimes exists between PhD faculty, graduate students, and medical students/clinical faculty in the medical school environment, and that may have fueled my reply. Perhaps we can agree that the majority of physicians only need to resort to the scientific method in an applied way, rather than needing to do any original research. However, quite difficult problems requiring creative thinking can be encountered in clinical practice.

The matter is somewhat moot, from my point of view. Creationist claims notwithstanding, what the article actually shows is a much higher acceptance of the theory of evolution among physicians than among the general population, or probably, almost any professional group except practicing research scientists. That’s true no matter how one qualifies it. Since physicians and other doctoral level health professionals are the most biologically educated people short of actual practicing biologists, it’s consistent with the hypothesis that the more people know about biology, the more likely they are to accept the theory of evolution.

Comment #154393

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 5:34 PM (e)

I’d like to clarify for others who may be confused, that I did not, to the best of my knowledge, create any “straw man”.

Here’s one, though there are others that you also neglect:

2) Clinical medicine is a very applied and macroscopic field, but both clinical research and individual clinical decisions are strongly grounded in the scientific method.

Did anyone say otherwise, or is this just a strawman that you attack in lieu of your inability to find any honest objections to what I wrote? Of course the scientific method is important to clinical medicine, however it is not necessary that one does science (or knows how to), in the real sense. I come from a background where I knew creationist physicians, such as my father, who I’m afraid had little knowledge of science at large even if they were competent in their respective practices.

I never wrote that medical practice isn’t grounded in science, did I? So why do you object as if I had, or as if I hadn’t made other appropriate caveats, like the one where I noted that of physicians that “they are taught the how science proceeds”? Again you fail to actually address what I wrote, all the while claiming a high level of reading comprehension. The latter may be, but your failures would otherwise point to a lack of concern for making an honest reply to me.

My reading comprehension is very strong, so much so that if I suffer “faulty comprehension”, it may reflect the material, rather than my reading of it.

It was a “short answer”, which still had many of the proper caveats. These you blow off as if they didn’t exist. Sorry, the problem is strictly yours, not mine. You could try addressing what I wrote, not what you imagine or misunderstand me to have written.

I suppose that our disagreement hinges partly on the interpretation of the subjective terminology “do real science”.

You take it out of context. I wrote “they do not have to be able to do science in any real sense at all,” which I couched in such a manner to allow for labs and the like for “most of them, anyhow”. I am not going to argue over “do real science” when you have so far failed to adequately address anything that I have written.

Perhaps you could clarify specifically what constitutes “doing real science”.

Someone with such a strong reading comprehension as you aver that you have ought to be able to discern it from the context. I mentioned that they “are taught how science proceeds”, and that they don’t have to be able to do science in the real sense (not typically learned in med school, which other posters have also pointed out). Try, try to put the two together, along with the careful caveat “most of them, anyhow”, and recognize that “most of them aren’t doing what would be called “real science”, doing experimental research and publishing the results.

I know that a short answer is not a comprehensive answer (which seems to bypass a couple of posters here), but it is hardly an excuse to read whatever you like into it.

Well let’s see, you managed not to back up any of your previous accusations. Why am I not surprised?

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154394

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 5:37 PM (e)

As someone with a medical degree who has also done some research, I am familiar with the tension that sometimes exists between PhD faculty, graduate students, and medical students/clinical faculty in the medical school environment, and that may have fueled my reply. Perhaps we can agree that the majority of physicians only need to resort to the scientific method in an applied way, rather than needing to do any original research. However, quite difficult problems requiring creative thinking can be encountered in clinical practice.

The matter is somewhat moot, from my point of view. Creationist claims notwithstanding, what the article actually shows is a much higher acceptance of the theory of evolution among physicians than among the general population, or probably, almost any professional group except practicing research scientists. That’s true no matter how one qualifies it. Since physicians and other doctoral level health professionals are the most biologically educated people short of actual practicing biologists, it’s consistent with the hypothesis that the more people know about biology, the more likely they are to accept the theory of evolution.

I can live with the above statements, in any case.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154420

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on January 10, 2007 6:36 PM (e)

the survey data make it abundantly clear that doctors are much less likely to buy into it than are the general public. If doctors are therefore considered to hold some sort of special insight into the evolution debate, this does not bode well for the IDists.

It is not so cut and dry as that.

If one wishes to argue evolutionary theory is as sure as the sphericality of the Earth, that level of dissent by such a highly educated group absolutely flies in the face of such inflated claims……

The majority dissent from Darwinism is not needed, a measurable minority is a significant statement in and of itself. This minority serves as a counter example to the insistence that Darwinism is important for scientific and technological and medical progress.

The interpretation you suggest likens the situation for votes for candidate for public office. It is an inappropriate (but understandably mistaken) analogy….

Comment #154421

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 10, 2007 6:45 PM (e)

The majority dissent from Darwinism is not needed, a measurable minority is a significant statement in and of itself.

but a statement of what, exactly, Sal?

there is a measurable minority of flat earthers still hanging about as well.

do they make a significant statement on the validity of the shape of the earth by their mere existence?

hardly.

they do make an unintended statement about how dissonance can cause a fundamental disconnect from reality, however.

something you exhibit on the majority of your visits here.

Comment #154434

Posted by J. Biggs on January 10, 2007 7:39 PM (e)

Perhaps you are right Glen, and I objected offhand. I just felt your original post seemed insulting, when apparently it was not intended to be. I am sure you can see how it could be taken that way. Certainly any statement can be interpreted in many different ways and I apparently misinterpreted yours as an insult to medical professionals.

Comment #154435

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 10, 2007 7:43 PM (e)

Sal, I appreciate your response, especially since it’s civil and actually addresses the topic at hand, unlike that of your colleague Dave Scot.

If one wishes to argue evolutionary theory is as sure as the sphericality of the Earth, that level of dissent by such a highly educated group absolutely flies in the face of such inflated claims……

I personally wouldn’t argue that evolution is as sure as the sphericity of the Earth, just that it’s sure beyond a reasonable doubt (as long as one is not unduly influenced by religious or other non-scientific considerations). Of course unlike the sphericity of the Earth, you have to do more than look at a photograph to figure it out.

The majority dissent from Darwinism is not needed, a measurable minority is a significant statement in and of itself. This minority serves as a counter example to the insistence that Darwinism is important for scientific and technological and medical progress.

I don’t think either of these follows. A measurable minority exists for almost any crazy belief among people who are otherwise well-educated and presumably should know better. That is doubly true when said belief is very widespread among the general public and is an integral part of certain subcultures. People don’t check their cultural backgrounds at the door when the enter med school, so I’m not surprised that we see the creationist doctors that we do see. In fact I’d be pretty shocked if they didn’t constitute a measurable minority.

As for evolution being important for scientific and medical progress, the fact that a small minority of doctors opposes evolution doesn’t really have any bearing on that. It just means that these doctors aren’t going to be the ones making the progress in those areas where understanding evolution is important. There is lots to do in medicine that doesn’t involve evolution, but that doesn’t mean that evolution doesn’t matter.

Keep in mind that I made this post as a reaction to the idea that 1) doctors have an inordinate tendency to reject evolution, and 2) this is because they have special insight into evolution that scientists or others presumably don’t have. My point here is that 1 is false so therefore 2 is moot. If you want to take solace in the number of creationist doctors who do exist, be my guest.

Comment #154453

Posted by Mike from Phoenix on January 10, 2007 8:35 PM (e)

For the record, I am a first time poster, an engineer, accept the overwhelming evidence of evolution and am an atheist. However, I find that I am a minority with the peers I have worked with. I would say less than 10% of the engineers I know would consider themselves agnostic or atheist. I think this has more to do with culture and politics than critical thinking skills. I would wager that most Americans don’t really care enough about the question to think critically about their beliefs. They are comfortable in their world and don’t see an advantage to questioning status quo.

Most of the engineers I work with are extremely conservative politically - I think technically conservative people can be socially liberal, but that is not the prevailing opinion. They are typically upper middle class, believe they worked hard to achieve their success, and anyone less fortunate just has not taken the time to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. These folks buy into conservative ideals and that really aligns them with the Christian majority.

I also tend to think that smart people are better at rationalizing their beliefs. They are also confident (OK maybe arrogant) enough to easily dismiss people with views other than their own. Also there is a prevailing belief that raising children in a religious network is better for their kids moral development (again I don’t, but that is my opinion of why others go to church and respond to polls the way they do).

It is not easy to get most people to think rationally about human origins. There is a lot of baggage associated with faith and getting people to abandon this will not be easy, if it is even possible. I don’t think being an engineer or a doctor makes an individual more or less likely to believe or not. I think scientists care more about the question and are more likely to research the facts and base their beliefs on evidence versus internal desires. It is my experience that most believers just want to believe in a higher power and therefore believe. It does not mean they are dumb or incompetent - they just don’t care enough about the question to give up their social structure and emotional comfort.

Comment #154463

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 10, 2007 9:28 PM (e)

They are typically upper middle class, believe they worked hard to achieve their success, and anyone less fortunate just has not taken the time to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. These folks buy into conservative ideals and that really aligns them with the Christian majority.

There is at least a tinge of irony to these “social Darwinism” advocates claiming that social Darwinism is evil and a good reason not to support evolution. Of course, they’d likely deny that they are social Darwinists, too.

Comment #154465

Posted by stevaroni on January 10, 2007 9:38 PM (e)

Most of the engineers I work with are extremely conservative politically - I think technically conservative people can be socially liberal, but that is not the prevailing opinion

That’s weird, that hasn’t been my experience at all with my colleagues at least (except for a stint I did many years ago working at a government aerospace contractor in Florida, where the production team was largely ex Air Force and mind-bogglingly conservative).

can I ask (in general terms) what branch of engineering you’re working in, and what the company is like?

Comment #154466

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 10, 2007 9:41 PM (e)

It is not so cut and dry as that.

If one wishes to argue evolutionary theory is as sure as the sphericality of the Earth, that level of dissent by such a highly educated group absolutely flies in the face of such inflated claims……

Well, yes, it is as cut and dried as that. Let me rephrase: Evolution is much better understood as theory than is gravity. Sure, there are dissenters from gravity theory, but they aren’t celebrated in fundamentalist churches as are the dissenters from evolution. But then, there are no odd sects of Christianity who have decided to demonize gravity as there are odd sects that have decided to demonize evolution. Let’s be clear about the nature of the issue, too.

It’s just as wacky to deny evolution as it is to deny gravity. Consider that for evolution we know the “particles” that carry it, and we know how to manipulate genes in order to alter the path of natural evolutionary processes.

For gravity, it’s not so certain. Gravitons have not been known so long as genes – no one has ever seen one. No one has ever directly detected a graviton. No one know whether a graviton has mass. It’s only about 24 months ago that the speed of gravitons was determined.

Oh, sure, we indirectly test gravity every day, hundreds of times. We drop our keys on the driveway, and they fall to the ground. We go to sleep on our bed, and we don’t expect to awaken floating about the room. But evolution is similarly tested, indirectly, every day as well. No two humans on Earth are identical, as evolution theory predicts – but each one bears a striking resemblance to each of her parents.

Sal, opposition to evolution is nutso. That you’ve got a few deep pockets and a lot of pulpit pounders to go your way doesn’t change that fact, it only embarrasses the rest of us. Frankly, you’d do better to deny gravity (hey, airplanes do it – maybe gravity is a government conspiracy!). It’s pretty clear that it will be quite a while before anyone photographs even a shadow of a graviton. That’s a significant gap to hide your god in for a long time.

In the meantime, we note that there are no IDists or creationists in the infectious disease wards, nor in the cancer wards. And Bill Dembski’s offer to buy someone a bottle of Scotch is made without any thought to the irony that the grain from which the Scotch is made exists solely by Darwinian principle, and by itself refutes all the PR campaigns you can muster with the mad money DI collects.

It’s a comedy out there. But one needs to know a bit to know when to laugh, and at what.

By the way, you know the Earth is not sphere, right? It’s pear shaped. When are you going to post against NASA for hiding that fact?

Comment #154468

Posted by Mike from Phoenix on January 10, 2007 9:46 PM (e)

I have worked in aerospace for about 20 years. One of the first engineers I worked for was an independent minded atheist/agnostic, but I have to say he was the exception compared to those I usually encounter. I work closely with the military, but most of my peers have not actually been in the service. I know engineers who go to church because of spouse/family pressures and I know engineers who are flat out hard core young earth fundamentalists.

Comment #154476

Posted by Raging Bee on January 10, 2007 10:30 PM (e)

Sal blithered thusly:

The majority dissent from Darwinism is not needed, a measurable minority is a significant statement in and of itself. This minority serves as a counter example to the insistence that Darwinism is important for scientific and technological and medical progress.

What about the measurable majority who reject creationism? What sort of statement do they make?

This is the way of the creationist: take any scrap of “dissent” they can find to validate their prejudice, while ignoring the huge mass of evidence that flatly refutes it.

The weak mind is like a microscope: it magnifies small things and can’t handle big ones.

Comment #154481

Posted by Glen Davidson on January 10, 2007 10:59 PM (e)

It is not so cut and dry as that.

If one wishes to argue evolutionary theory is as sure as the sphericality of the Earth, that level of dissent by such a highly educated group absolutely flies in the face of such inflated claims……

Why don’t you for once tell us why, instead of repeating your mantra? I don’t even have a clue why anybody would listen to physicians over biologists, other than that you think the percentages are better that way.

My short answer for why so many physicians (if rather less than the general public) do leave the door open to ID was that they, most of them anyhow, are not scientists (I’ll add “per se” this time, hoping everyone is satisfied). This seems a sound point, that you’re not going to get anything like the dissent among biologists that you do among medical doctors. Why is that? Because the biologists have studied it out, or, if by some odd chance this is not why, it is encumbent upon you to show us why this is not the case (and no, I don’t want a bunch of unsupported pseudoscience or wild accusations).

The majority dissent from Darwinism is not needed, a measurable minority is a significant statement in and of itself.

That is how revolutions are made, only it has to be coupled with sound science and generally has to be supported by a solid minority of relevant scientists—not by the professionals who typically depend upon more fundamental biological science rather than actually developing it. You lose on all counts there (hat tip to harold and J. Biggs, I seriously doubt that the medical professionals who are doing research regularly have anywhere near the levels of creationists/IDists that those not doing research have among them).

This minority serves as a counter example to the insistence that Darwinism is important for scientific and technological and medical progress.

Do you ever think before you make your lame accusations? You haven’t in the least connected the IDiots with the useful research that is being done in biology and in medicine, or particularly the sciences of origins, so this particular claptrap is utterly without any basis.

The interpretation you suggest likens the situation for votes for candidate for public office. It is an inappropriate (but understandably mistaken) analogy….

And everything you have written is mistaken analogy, for you never leave the realm of meaningless parables. You haven’t discussed trends, you haven’t discussed the ability to articulate IDist propaganda among the hacks who discredit science, you haven’t dealt with any of the important data necessary to support your claims and accusations.

By the way, I’m still waiting for you to tell me of any actual biological systems or machines which are like what humans make. Yes, I know that you listed things that have the same names, but you didn’t show that any complex biological machine, system, or entity is physically and chemically like what known intelligent designers produce (and when the time first comes when this can be shown, it will be due to mimicking biological systems). As usual, you have utterly failed to back up your rampant claims.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #154484

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 10, 2007 11:20 PM (e)

It’s a comedy out there. But one needs to know a bit to know when to laugh, and at what.

well, it’s pretty clear we can laugh at Sal at any given moment in time. It doesn’t take an IQ the size of Davetard’s to see that.

does that boy ever make two coherent posts in a row? He sure hasn’t in any of the times I’ve seen him post here.

Comment #154580

Posted by sparc on January 11, 2007 3:13 AM (e)

Over at Uncommon Descent, Gil Dodgen asks the question of why so many engineers reject evolution.

Gil Dodgen and DaveScot actually underestimate the amount of engineering that takes place in biological and medical research. When you look in current issues of Nature, Science or cell you will hardly find an article on biological or medical issues that doesn’t involve advanced genetic engineering. Still, the vast majority of authors of such articles will oppose ID and indeed many of them will have experienced the (unwanted) effects of mutations and natural selection. E.g. certain DNA fragments can be only obtained in the wrong orientation or only with premature stop codons after cloning them in plasmids, presumably because the sequences are incompatible with the life of E. coli.
Some technical hint to overcome such issues: Use vectors without any prokaryotic expression systems like the lac promoter that is usually used for alpha complementation because many of such problems relate rather to transcripts or gene products then to the DNA sequence itself.

Comment #154587

Posted by Rolf Aalberg on January 11, 2007 4:04 AM (e)

With respect to the figures for doctors etc. that believe in creationism, ought we not take into account the fact that some, even well educated scientists, for religious reasons reject the theory of evolution simply by holding the bible for being the ultimate truth that takes precedence over any scientific facts or evidence supporting the ToE?

Tabulating the numbers by sorting out all who simply reject science because of religion should significantly lower the number of ‘bona fide creationists’. (I don’t even think such a creature exists).

Comment #154600

Posted by Peter Henderson on January 11, 2007 6:48 AM (e)

It is true of course that doctors are more prone to being creationists than scientists in general and biologists in particular

Here are two UK creationists (both YEC’s). Ones a GP and the other a qualified surgeon:

http://www.finalfrontier.org.uk/creation.htm

http://www.onesmallspeck.com/

Comment #154614

Posted by Anton Mates on January 11, 2007 8:11 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Then one takes embryology, or something equivalent. One is studying anatomy and various stages of development–evolution has nothing to do with either.

Uh…normally you get comparative anatomy somewhere in there, which is very much to do with common descent. Granted, pre-meds may not have to focus on that as opposed to human anatomy.

Then…you take cell biology, genetics, endocrinology, animal behavior, etc., all of which PRESUPPOSE evolution–no one actually discusses it one way or the other; it’s simply presumed.

I’ve taken genetics at OSU. We learned about Luria-Delbruck and the evidence that mutation was random, ribozymes and the RNA world, Hardy-Weinberg and the rest of population genetics.

My wife was a bio major at Berkeley. She got the same sorts of things in genetics that I did, only more so. In animal behavior they covered sexual selection, the origins and adaptive utility of sex (Red Queen, etc.), evolutionary hypotheses for altruism such as the green-beard effect, and Tinbergen’s questions of proximate and ultimate mechanism. In vertebrate natural history they got speciation mechanisms and hybridization.

Maybe you just didn’t go to class much?

It’s quite true that bio students don’t learn about evolution in as much depth or as early as they could, but then they’ve got more prerequisites in other departments to get through than almost any other science major, and intro bio is largely biochem. They certainly learn enough evolutionary theory to understand why creationism and ID are not biologically useful. Which is why, as you noticed, once the students have grasped the material enough to meaningfully dispute evolution, they’re no longer interested in doing so–they understand that it matches the facts.

However, when you take chordate morphology, there you expect–as I did–to have a discussion of evolution, a demonstration of known missing links, etc. But that doesn’t happen there either. The closest one comes to a missing link is the African Lungfish.

You expected a modern organism to be a missing link between other modern organisms? I wonder how your professor responded?

Comment #154631

Posted by Keith Douglas on January 11, 2007 9:55 AM (e)

The issue of physicians being scientists or not can be solved rather simply by changing the terms of the discussion to the specific tasks being done. If one does this, then medical research is technological, and physicians most often act as technicians. Using the scientific method does not make for science in itself. Engineers too can use the scientific method because their fields are based on scientific research with additional “stuff”. These (like in medical research) can be values, which is one of the fundamental differences between science and technology.

(I have papers on my website about all of this if anyone cares to see the longer version.)

Comment #154673

Posted by kevin on January 11, 2007 2:06 PM (e)

“In my case, all of this left me scratching my head since I received a degree in biology without EVER having a discussion about evolution “

ehh, Blast-o-hot-air, maybe you should turn in your diploma as obtained under false pretenses…

Just because you avoided the subject does not mean that no-one knows about it.

Comment #154677

Posted by stevaroni on January 11, 2007 2:33 PM (e)

Bee Raged….
The weak mind is like a microscope: it magnifies small things and can’t handle big ones.

Oooh! I like that, Bee! I’m gonna have to remember that one.

Comment #154699

Posted by les on January 11, 2007 5:08 PM (e)

Sal, since your point always seems to be “someone with an education believes ID/disbelieves TOE, therefore ID is true/TOE is false,” you could save a lot of time and brain damage to all concerned if you just pop up periodically and say “I’m still here!” and we can all say OK and continue what we’re doing. Thanks in advance.

Comment #154757

Posted by Raging Bee on January 12, 2007 7:43 AM (e)

stevaroni: Thanks, but the words aren’t really mine; I don’t remember who first said it, or where I read it (many years ago).

Comment #155173

Posted by fnxtr on January 14, 2007 1:19 PM (e)

I once had a very lovely Christian gal say to me “I doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in God. He believes in you.”

I didn’t want a debate so I left it at that elementary level.

It’s just as well I didn’t say then what I say now to Sal:

Evolution doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. It’s happening anyway.

Comment #155206

Posted by trrll on January 14, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

And, one can easily live out a life as a biologist (other than being a paleontologist or evolutionary biologist) without ever using the ToE. Most biologists in labs “presume” evolution; but what they really do in the lab is to see that A is different from B, and then try to figure out how A got to be B, which is to say that, if you replace the word “evolution” with the word “change” it would neither add, nor subtract, from the meaning and import of almost every paper written that includes the word “evolution”.

As a biologist (and not an evolutionary one, either), I’d say that this is completely false. Modern biology is heavily molecular. We have to relate results obtained usually in animal models to what is expected in other species and especially in humans. Understanding of the evolutionary origins of molecular differences between species is critical to interpreting molecular sequence data, in doing mutational, transgenic, and “knockout” studies, in selecting animal models and interpreting the results obtained with animal models.

Comment #155211

Posted by deadman_932 on January 14, 2007 6:03 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast Said:

It was UCLA I attended. In fact, I was in grad school in Medicial Microbiology for a while. I left the area because I didn’t really have a particular interest in it (But I must say, if they were doing the kinds of things that they’re doing today, I’d probably have been very interested) I got a degree in engineering to make money.

I was at UCLA during the 80’s as an undergrad focusing on bio anth and paleoanth. I took quite a few Life Sciences/Earth Sciences courses. I recall most of my instructors, textbooks and coursework from that time, along with lots of discussions on the evidences of evolution. I think you might have a very selective and errant memory, BlastfromthePast.

Just for my own curiousity – perhaps you can recall a few instructors you had?

Comment #157038

Posted by murali on January 22, 2007 10:59 AM (e)

I am doing this statistical module in the university. I think everyone is missing the larger picture here. The problem with the medical survey is that these are self response surveys. That means that a large number of people are sent the poll and only a small percentage of the people respond. of these maybe thirty percent (of doctors) are creationists. What this means is that people with stronger views tend to respond more. although many normal people also reply, many of those who reply have a chip on their shoulder. IN this case it would be IDers or creationists. They feel that they are perpetually embattled politically and socially; that the scientific establishment is always against them and have a larger impetus to respond. hence they are likely to respond more. on the other hand, a standard evolutionist is likely to throw away the survey form as he thinks it is just a waste of time, he has nothing to prove. This is very similar to the way Rev Pat Robertson rallied religious fundamentalists to increase voter turnout and thus hijack republican politics in America. At the very least, do not trust self response polls. Closed response (multiple choice) polls also should be checked for choices that bias the results.

Comment #157040

Posted by murali on January 22, 2007 11:03 AM (e)

sorry just to add. the module is about how people can deceive intentionally or unintentionally with statistics. Big names in the polling industry have a far from clean record in unbiased and reliable polling.

Comment #157138

Posted by Henry J on January 22, 2007 10:08 PM (e)

Yep - if there’s a correlation between who decides to bother with answering, versus what their answer is, that is going to throw off the result.

Henry

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