March 18, 2007 - March 24, 2007 Archives

Just when you believe that ID activists could not shoot themselves in the foot any further, Casey Luskin comes to the rescue, and Dembski decides to add some fuel to the smoldering fire. So what is going on this time that ticked of our friends at the Ministry of Media Complaints at the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Religion? At Red State Rabble, Pat Hayes and at the Austringer Wesley Elsberry explain Casey Luskin’s misplaced ‘outrage’ and show how once again, poor reading and listening skills (see also my previous posting about Dembski mangling Darwin) allow ID activists to create yet another strawman.

While ID is busy with their theological arguments, science is still waiting patiently for ID to present a scientific case ever since ID was found and ruled to be scientifically vacuous.

Enjoy.

On Red State Rabble, Pat Hayes shows the vacuity of Dembski’s ‘arguments’. Dembski had blogged on his Uncommon Descent website a quote from Darwin’s Descent of Man. What follows is Pat Hayes fisking Dembski’s comments.

Dembski Wrote:
Darwin Wrote:

The reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ‘struggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.”

Sounds pretty damning, doesn’t it? But is it?

What has the ID movement been up to, following Kitzmiller and subsequent defeats? Apparently, they are going back to their base. In 2006 and 2007, the ID movement has hosted a number of “conferences” around the country. They call them “conferences” because it sounds scientific, but they are more like weekend revivals, actually, where the ID guys are flown in, give their standard talks to the public, and with a full-time professional apologist like Thomas Woodward (apologetics.org) or Lee Strobel (author of The Case for a Creator, The Case for Christ, etc.) emceeing the event. In fact, the “largest ID conference ever held” was held last September in the Florida Sun Dome, well-known to be a common venue for scientific conferences.

So anyway, this year a series of “Darwin vs. Design” conferences have been set up, apparently in a cookie-cutter format with identical guests and topics, and hosted by Lee Strobel.

The bios of the speakers are online (PDF). This bit is interesting, and shows us another thing that the ID movement has been up to:

Session #3 Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science & Culture, editor of Darwinism, Design and Public Education, and co-author of the forthcoming textbook Explore Evolution, will explain why the information encoded in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence.

Oh my, what a clever title for the new Discovery Institute textbook! It’s almost like they picked one of the most common phrases for mainstream evolution education projects and websites, so that they could appear to be teaching science rather than doing religious apologetics.

And as we all know, picking new labels easily solves all conceivable problems with creationist textbooks.

I was recently interviewed by Karl Mogel for his podcast show The Inoculated Mind. Topics include flagellum evolution and Kitzmiller v. Dover, and Casey Luskin’s inability to admit error. Have a listen if you get a chance.

I’m not sure what they are, but there is apparently a site offering free hovinds: FreeHovind.Com. Can anybody tell me what a hovind is before I order a free one?

By this point, the name Michael Egnor should be familiar to readers of this blog - but if you need a reminder, he’s the neurosurgeon who recently signed on to the staff of the Discovery Institute’s Media Complaints blog. Over the last week or two, Egnor has been trying to convince people that evolution is really not important in any way to medicine.

His last attempt, before today, came less than a week ago, with this spectacular piece of inane argumentation. I responded to the arguments that he made, Orac responded to the arguments he made, Afarensis responded to the arguments he made, Mark responded to the arguments he made, and many other people have also chimed in on the topic. A couple of hours ago, Egnor decided to take another swing at the argument.

Read more (at The Questionable Authority):

Over at A Blog Around The Clock, Cortunix has gone to the task of putting together a “brief” list of blog posts where the egnorance of Dr. Michael Egnor has been taken to the woodshed: “Michael Egnor. Who?.”

If you have a few hours to kill, you might want to drop by and read the massive fisking that this man has taken. After all, it looks like he is here to stay as the DI’s new expert on evolution.

A news story today from Oregon (story here) is headlined “Oregon teacher fired after veering from evolution textbook.”

The story says, in part:

During his eight days as a part-time biology teacher at Sisters High School, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

That was enough for the Sisters School Board, which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution….

Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included the supplemental material to teach students about bias in sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking. “Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry,” said Helphinstine, who has a master’s degree in science from Oregon State. “My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking.”

That was the title of an article by Stephen Prothero in the Boulder Daily Camera this morning (March 19). Professor Prothero is the chairman of the religion department at Boston University, and his article was run on the Web site (latimes.com) of the Los Angeles Times under the title, “We live in the land of biblical idiots: Public school courses that promote Bible literacy can enhance our civic life.” Professor Prothero argues in favor of teaching the Bible as literature and the Bible in history. His primary argument is as follows:

The deniers of science Part 2

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In part 1, I showed how GilDodgen’s concerns about computer models show how Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous, but since evolution deniers often also tend to be global warming deniers (often for very similar reasons), it may be helpful and beneficial to explore in more depth the value of computer models in science.

Let’s first explain how computer simulations of global warming take place and why we can indeed trust the results. We often hear arguments from global warming deniers which take shape as follows:

We all know that the weather is unpredictable beyond a certain time frame of 7-10 days so how can climate models be trusted?

This fallacious argument is based on a confusion of weather and climate. Climate is a statistical concept based on the outcome of many computer runs with slightly different models, conditions, weather is a local (and real) phenomenon (I already pointed out these differences when discussing Bill Dembski’s flawed understandings of these basic concepts.

Definition of climate (Edward Lorenz): “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.”

Updated for the 21st century (Myles Allen): “Climate is what you affect, weather is what gets you.”

Climate modelers use what is commonly known as General Circulation Models (GCM) which differ from weather prediction models in several important aspects.

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