Louisiana is next

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Fast political action is needed to stop another anti-science bill in Louisiana. Below is a message from Barbara Forrest, who says it all better than I can.

Friends, fellow educators, and concerned citizens,

First, please accept my thanks to those of you who helped in the effort to stop SB 561, especially those who went to the Capitol to testify. Second, action is needed IMMEDIATELY to ask members of the House Education Committee to kill HB 1168, which is the House twin of SB 561. As far as I know, no newspapers have carried the story of its being filed on Monday, April 21. The bill could be heard in the House Education Committee as early as this week of April 28, so immediate action is crucial.

As you may know, SB 561 was amended to SB 733, the "Louisiana Science Education Act," in which form it is less pernicious but still bad because it contains code language that creationists can exploit. However, the creationists were unhappy with the amendments, so Rep. Frank Hoffman of West Monroe has introduced HB 1168 in the House of Representatives. HB 1168 is identical to the original SB 561. (Mr. Hoffman was the Asst. Supt. of the Ouachita Parish school system in 2006. He helped persuade the the Ouachita Parish School Board to pass its creationist "science curriculum policy" that is the basis for both SB 561 and HB 1168.)

SB 733 will probably pass the Senate and be sent to the House, where it could be merged with HB 1168, which means that we are back where we started with SB 561. So HB 1168 must be killed in the House Education Committee, which means that we must generate as much opposition to the House Education Committee **NOW.** The bill could come up in the House Education Committee this week, but we are not sure. We need to act immediately to request that House Education Committee members kill HB 1168. And please also contact everyone else you know INSIDE LOUISIANA to do the same. We want opposition from inside the state, not outside. We want the House Education Committee members to hear from people who live here and vote here. We may need to generate outside opposition later, but not at this time.

I have written a revised backgrounder for HB 1168 based on the one I wrote for SB 561. You may download it here:

http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com/Backgrounder_HB_1168_4.27.08.pdf

There are talking points, contact information, and some instructions for you at the end of this document.

A shorter set of talking points, also with contact information, is here:

http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com/HB_1168_Talking_Points.pdf

The contact information in these is for ten members of the House Education Committee who may be receptive to our contact based on what we have been able to learn. If you personally know another member who is approachable, please also contact that person.

I have talked personally to three committee members and found those three very nice and very interested. Some of the committee members have been teachers and served on their parish school boards. Some are attorneys. The three to whom I talked were aware of the Dover trial, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005), in which I served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, a case that cost the Dover school board one million dollars. This seemed to resonate with them. You may wish to keep that in mind as you contact them. If I may make a suggestion: remember that this is a political problem, not a scientific one. Please try to avoid "science talk." As Eugenie Scott, our executive director at the National Center for Science Education says, we will not solve this problem by throwing science at it. We must appeal to the legislators as fellow citizens, parents, and educators. No academic-speak! :)

The children and teachers of Louisiana are being used as pawns by the Louisiana Family Forum and, most likely, the Discovery Institute, about which I have written so extensively. These people will assuredly not be around to clean up the wreckage they will leave in their wake if we don't stop them. We have to stop them.

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Creationism on the March - Louisiana from Submitted to a Candid World on May 8, 2008 10:57 PM

Warning: the Lousiana legislature is preparing to consider an “academic freedom” bill (Lousiana HB 116 which would allow Louisiana teachers to consider creationism, intelligent design, and alternative myths as alternatives to science in th... Read More

Yeah. Right. Learned about this news through Kevin D. White’s FriendFeed page, but as one can imagine, it didn’t exactly come along with positive support. He picked this up from Phil Plait at “Bad Astronomy,” the education bill ... Read More

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the Senate bill SENATE BILL NO. 733 (Substitute of Senate Bill No. 561 by Senator Nevers) http://www.legis.state.la.us/billda[…]p?did=482728

the House Bill 1168 — Author: Rep. Frank Hoffman, District 15, West Monroe, LA “Louisiana Academic Freedom Act” http://www.legis.state.la.us/billda[…]p?did=479172

Two LU press accounts:

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/18540309.html and http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps[…]EWS/80502023

When I checked with a friend of mine at Univ. Loiusiana at Lafayette he indicated that they did not want a flood of support from outside the state because the undue influence of out of staters (e.g. Discovery Institute) was one of the reasons for resisting the bill. Indeed Barbara mentions this in her talking points.

Has the scientific community in LA changed its position? Do they now want the rest of us to start writing to the LA legislature?

Just want do what will help the most.

So far, the effort to curtail the teaching of biological nonsense in our high schools has been mostly reactive. It is time for at least a little bit of proactive policies. As a beginning matter, it might be possible to persuade our major private universities and colleges and public universities in states where it is politically possible to insist that admission applicants not only have a biology course, but a biology course where evolution is given its proper treatment. Students failing to demonstrate that their high school course met the proper standards would have to take a noncredit or “bonehead” biology class steeped in evolution

Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

Yes indeed, “Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest”. If it wasn’t for Barbara’s diligent research and excellent prose, I doubt that few would realize that the Disco Tute is truly a crypto-Fascist organization determined to transform the United States into a totalitarian religious dictatorship of the kind described by Margaret Atwood in her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

I agree with David Hudson. The colleges and universities have to take a very public stand, and specify that students applying for admission from schools that adopt these principles–or lack of principles–for education are immediately suspect and will have to demonstrate competence or remediate in a variety of subjects. The fact of the matter is that these freedom of education acts will put virtually all subjects of the suspect list. If the backers of these proposals want to go forward they can watch their already failing economies decline even more.

Thank NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

Dear GBH,

What you’ve proposed is actually being done now by the California Board of Regents in its ongoing legal dispute with some Californian “Christian” academies who are upset that the board doesn’t accept their high school science courses as valid courses suitable for undergraduate admission at such “flagship” campuses as Berkeley and Los Angeles. Eminent evolutionary geneticist Francisco J. Ayala is acting as an expert on behalf of the board (He is a professor of evolutionary biology at University of California, Irvine.), while one Mike Behe is acting on behalf of the defendants. So far Behe’s “assistance” has proven to be as helpful as his prior testimony at the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, judging from recent posts here at Panda’s Thumb and elsewhere.

Regards,

John

The right of the University of California to set standards has been affirmed. Still to go to trial are complaints by some students.

See the news item Interim victory in California creationism case from NCSE (April 1 2008).

Be sure to read the bottom section. One of the books at issue was truly outrageous:

But, [Judge] Otero noted, the textbooks at issue are unabashedly dogmatic; Biology for Christian Schools, for example, declares on its first page, “If [scientific] conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them,” and “Christians must disregard [scientific hypotheses or theories] that contradict the Bible.”

I am intending to thank Barbara Forrest by buying two copies of her trojan horse book and donating them to high school libraries in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. They just might get someone’s attention.

Dear MelM,

Obviously, according to such “brilliant” intellects as Amazon.com’s “Bent” Brent Mortimer and Fritz Ward, you just don’t get it. Judge Otero was as guilty of the cardinal sin of plagiarizing as Federal Judge John Jones was when he issued his profoundly insightful ruling at the end of the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial. Alas it looks as though California will be treated to yet another spectacle.

Appreciatively yours,

John

Hat tip Uncommon Descent

As a native resident of Louisiana (56 years) and a product of the public education system, I felt compelled to write the entire Senate Education Committee an email opposing Sen Nevers proposed bill. I was glad to add my voice to keep this bill from passing but I know this will not end their campaign. I’ve had to self-educate through research and reading real science. I certainly didn’t get any science education in the public schools here. The fundies are by far the majority in this state and they hold poltical power. People in this state are actually proud of their ignorance of science. Ben Stein’s film will do well here in Louisiana I’m afraid.

Mark Farmer said:

When I checked with a friend of mine at Univ. Loiusiana at Lafayette he indicated that they did not want a flood of support from outside the state…

With one possible exception: In my humble opinion, it would be useful and proper for Floridians who have just endured (and triumphed over!) the Dishonesty Institute’s fraudulent “critical analysis” bills to come to the aid of their fellows in Louisiana. How can we help? Is there a grass-roots pro-science group in Louisiana?

–Judge Otero was as guilty of the cardinal sin of plagiarizing as Federal Judge John Jones was when he issued his profoundly insightful ruling at the end of the 2005 Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial.–

When preachers want to give sermons about Christianity, why do they keep plagiarizing the Bible? Can’t they come up with words of their own?

PvM said:

Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

Hallelujah!!!

Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

I’d rather thank Barbara for her own work, thanks.

credit where credit is due.

“Please try to avoid science talk”. Really?

Philip Bruce Heywood said:

“Please try to avoid science talk”. Really?

That’s what you do with every single one of your posts. Unless, of course, you want to explain what an “entropy barrier” is, and how it prevents speciation and evolution from occurring, even though though both have been observed happening.

On the other hand, the day you explain what an “entropy barrier” or any of the other nonsense terms you’ve made up, is, is the day you also apologize for putting words into other people’s mouths. In other words, “in the Year of the Porcupine, which is never.” So go away, already.

Philip Bruce Heywood said:

“Please try to avoid science talk”. Really?

Yup; read what it says.

“If I may make a suggestion: remember that this is a political problem, not a scientific one.”

Stanton Wrote:

On the other hand, the day you explain what an “entropy barrier” or any of the other nonsense terms you’ve made up, is, is the day you also apologize for putting words into other people’s mouths. In other words, “in the Year of the Porcupine, which is never.”

He is going to claim that he did here .

However, he got nailed again in the very next comment.

The faking is getting pretty boring. I get the impression that he has no intention whatsoever of educating himself. Just wants to disrupt threads.

Mike Elzinga said:

Stanton Wrote:

On the other hand, the day you explain what an “entropy barrier” or any of the other nonsense terms you’ve made up, is, is the day you also apologize for putting words into other people’s mouths. In other words, “in the Year of the Porcupine, which is never.”

He is going to claim that he did here .

However, he got nailed again in the very next comment.

The faking is getting pretty boring. I get the impression that he has no intention whatsoever of educating himself. Just wants to disrupt threads.

People like Philip Heywood never have any inclination to educate themselves anymore than a vampire has any inclination to go sunbathing.

It is good to see repentence in a state full of Voodists that experienced God’s justice by hurricane in 2005. They hace learned they need more Jesus and less Darwin.

Per the DI’s web site this so called “academic freedom” bill is moving to other states. We can see that the DI will make it appear they are successful (but per the PT they lost in FL). More hype, yet they’re blatantly involved in the whole process as described below from their site:

Evolution Academic Freedom Bills Spread to More States - National Movement Grows

Five states (MI, FL, LA, AL, MO) are currently considering adoption of academic freedom legislation designed to protect teachers who teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. Introduction of similar legislation is being considered by legislators in several other states, indicating the national scope of this movement.

“Often in this debate the issues at hand get misrepresented, and so our goal is to fully and straightforwardly explain that this is about science and helping prepare the best scientists of the future for our state and for our country,” said Rep. John Moolenaar, sponsor of academic freedom legislation in Michigan. “And a big part of that is enabling them to have the academic freedom to explore and critically examine scientific theories.”

Many of the bills have been adapted from sample legislation developed by Discovery Institute, including a model statute posted online at www.academicfreedompetition.com.

“In many states public school teachers, students, and even college professors have faced intimidation and retaliation when they attempt to discuss scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution,” said biologist Jonathan Wells, a research scientist at the DI’s Center for Science & Culture who holds a Ph.D. from University of California Berkeley. “In educational institutions that receive taxpayer support, it is entirely appropriate for the government to ensure that teachers and students have the right to discuss freely the evidence and scientific arguments for and against evolutionary theory.”

New developments include:

Tuesday, an academic freedom bill was introduced in Michigan, bringing the number of states currently considering legislation to five.

Monday, the Louisiana state Senate passed an academic freedom bill 35-0.

Also on Monday, the Florida House passed a bill 71-43 that would require inclusion of scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory in the classroom. The Florida Senate previously passed an academic freedom bill that would protect the rights of teachers to do this. The two bodies must now reconcile their bills before the end of this year’s legislative session.

Last week, an academic freedom bill was introduced in Alabama.

Today there will be a legislative hearing on Missouri’s academic freedom bill.

Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

It is a shame to devalue the valuable work of NCSE and Barbara Forrest in such a manner. Instead I will take the opportunity to thank them.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

It is a shame to devalue the valuable work of NCSE and Barbara Forrest in such a manner. Instead I will take the opportunity to thank them.

Why it this devalueing the work by the NCSE and Barbara Forrest?

JoyBoy said:

It is good to see repentence in a state full of Voodists that experienced God’s justice by hurricane in 2005. They hace learned they need more Jesus and less Darwin.

If you are for real, you are being silly. Now if there was a hurricane in Denver, Colorado or a blizzard in New Orleans I would seriously consider God having anything to do with it. In case you didn’t know, hurricanes happen to wander through Louisiana quite often, plus New Orleans is in a FLOOD plain. “Voodists” or not, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Sorry PT, I know I shouldn’t reply to this. I just couldn’t help myself.

It is good to see repentence in a state full of Voodists that experienced God’s justice by hurricane in 2005.

‘Cumulative disaster’ of storms ravages Arkansas 12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, May 4, 2008 The Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Ark. – Looking over yet another storm-damaged community in Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe offered repeated promises of government help.

“It’s a cumulative disaster, I guess,” Mr. Beebe said.

Week after week since February, television screens in Arkansas have flashed meteorologists’ warnings of floods and tornadoes. At least 26 people have died from violent storms, most in rural areas where rice grows and livestock graze on tall grass. Six of those who died Friday lived among the rolling hills and piney woods of central Arkansas.

In the times between the storms, Arkansas has also seen a foot of snow, a foot of rain, flash flooding and long-standing river flooding this year. At least five people died in the floods.

You have a point but got confused. Hurricanes and tornados have been slamming the South-Central-East USA for decades. While leaving the West, North, and New England states alone. They also seem to have an attraction to trailer parks.

Pretty obvious. God doesn’t like fundie Death Cultists. He is probably wasting his time. They are slow learners and it looks like more tornados and hurricanes for the forseeable future. The next step might be to melt the ice caps and flood Texas and Florida.

I really don’t know what these people hope to accomplish with all of this “academic freedom” nonsense. If any legislation is enacted that does allow for the teaching of ID in public schools, it will immediately be challenged on the grounds of constitutionality and will be overturned. If any legislation gets passed that does not allow for the teaching of ID, then the minute that anyone tries to use it to force ID into the curriculum they will be sued and they will lose. These guys just don’t have a clue. The courts are not going to let them throw away the constitution, they can’t, it’s that simple.

As for “academic freedom”, we already have that. Anyone is free to present any scientific evidence at any time. Who could possibly stop them and why would they want to? So come on all you ID guys slaving away in your secret labs, show us what you have come up with, show us what we are supposedly suppressing. I know you wish you could have shown your work in that feature length film, but there just wasn’t enough time, what with all the Nzzi scenes and all. Man that producer sure screwed up. Why don’t you make a movie about how he suppressed the scientific evidence?

In Michigan the governor desperately wants to revitalize the economy by promoting the development of green technology. I don’t think that either she or the prople of Michigan are going to let anyone mess with the science standards in this state. These bills have a long history of dying in committee here. Of course, I could be wrong. We could allow this nonsense into our schools and pay the price for years. Oh well, I guess we could always make a movie about it.

David Stanton Wrote:

Why does this guy trash up every thread with this nonsense?

The big question is whether he devotes at least “equal time” to trashing up threads at anti-evolution sites whose “theory” differs from his. And not just by refuting their “theories” but also complaining to those like the DI that refuse to consider the Bible as evidence. If not, then it’s safe to assume that his emotional objection takes precedence over all else, and may be “expelling” him from any fair chance he may have at coming up with a better scientific explanation.

PvM said:

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

Thank God for the NCSE and people like Barbara Forrest.

It is a shame to devalue the valuable work of NCSE and Barbara Forrest in such a manner. Instead I will take the opportunity to thank them.

Why it this devalueing the work by the NCSE and Barbara Forrest?

Let’s not derail folks… please stick to the issue at hand. If you want to discuss God vs. atheism, please go do it on a philosophy/theology forum. We really do ourselves no favors by going off on tangents, not to mention this is exactly the kind of thing the ID-creationists want us to do.

I’d like to focus here on keeping creationist pseudo-science out of our public schools and good evidence-supported science in them.

Stuart Weinstein said: As bafflegab goes, I give Heywood an A+

As the saying goes, “If you can’t blind them with brilliance, try to baffle them with bullshit.”

Daoud said: Jesus fucking Christ, it’s never gonna end is it?

Not so long as people continue to feed the trolls…

Philip Bruce Heywood Wrote:

I said above, I have grave difficulty with thermodynamics, and, indeed anything practical and useful, mathematically. That’s why I need to have it explained, and that’s why people out there need to have it explained. I am sure that this was not your intention, but to date, all you seem to have said by way of discussing entropy etc., is that it doesn’t stand in the way of common descent evolution, and it has something to do with temperature.

Many people have difficulty with thermodynamics. It doesn’t help to have pseudo-science exploiting ignorance. Better to keep quiet rather than add to the difficulties others are having.

As SWT has pointed out, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics and kinetic theory are all best understood with mathematics. It takes some climbing to get there.

However, one can also use some simple mental models to grasp the essence of the ideas; provided the models are not too misleading.

Thus, in reference to your mistaken urea example, one can begin to understand the relationship between temperature and entropy with a simple model of, say, the ice cream maker. Why does the ice cool after salt is added?

To understand that, one can use a simplified model of temperature as being the average energy content per degree of freedom of a physical system. A “degree of freedom” is a way in which a system can move or vibrate. Complicated molecules can move in several directions, rotate about a number of axes, vibrate along different axes, flex in various ways, etc. Each of these ways of moving can store kinetic energy. So (without getting into details about allowed states and the statistical distributions of energies among states), you can think of a water molecule as having a number of different ways it can vibrate, rotate, and thus store energy.

Frozen water molecules (where the molecules are more tightly bonded together) have relatively few degrees of freedom. Adding salt releases some of this bonding (there are further chemical details here) and allows the molecules to move with many more degrees of freedom.

The total energy content of all the molecules is now distributed over more degrees of freedom so that the average energy per degree of freedom is now less (the temperature is lower). This means that momentum transfers between the ice/salt mixture and the container with the ice cream mixture is reduced on the side which contains the ice/salt mixture. So now momentum transfers from the container are larger and energy flows from the container to the ice/salt mixture. This energy flow continues until the momentum transfers are equal in both directions (equilibrium). Now the ice cream is colder (enjoy).

I should caution you that this is only a simplified model to capture the essence of what is going on. There are many more details that depend on the kind of system one is dealing with, how the degrees of freedom come about, under what conditions they can store energy, and this all involves quantum mechanics.

So get busy with those references SWT and I directed you toward and start putting in some time and effort. Pseudo-science just takes you down the wrong path.

And stop trashing up threads. You aren’t helping yourself or anyone else.

“biology course where evolution is given its proper treatment.”

Including a treatment of its weaknesses?

I acknowledge some genuine effort there to explain some genuinely counterintuitive aspects of Nature. Ice-cream gets more involved every day. I may never touch it again. I wish I was being honest, there.

I did hand in the (relatively) simple, math-based account of how scientists such as Kelvin told us to measure entropy, on some previous thread. Much of the same people who are here, were there, but were too busy telling me my attitude and my religion were screwy, too see it. I won’t repeat it. Kelvin isn’t running away, anywhere. The technical fact of the impossibility either of spontaneous generation of life, or of increasing complexity of life, without introduction of exceptional circumstances, doesn’t come from me, or from creationists. It comes from thousands of totally reliable, totally respected, scientists, and from hard, math-based physics. The literature speaks for itself.

Some people watch too many westerns. This business of going about with loaded revolvers on waist belts and shooting from the hip, seldom, if ever, happened, except at Hollywood.

SWT seems to have his revolver disarmed and in a safe knee holster. I would be in his debt if he could tell me all he knows about quantum ‘particles’, such as photons, and their applications in taking the place of what we would term ‘normal’ chemical reagents. The new advances in technology are suggesting that there is more than one way to skin a cat, when it comes to re-arranging complex organic molecules. This has to do with finding thermodynamically possible pathways for the observed increase in the complexity of life. E.g., what do we know about generating an information relevant quantum particle, get it to do a set task in altering an organic molecule, then re-absorb it?

If you wish to save a lot of time and money, and some adverse publicity, I suggest you get hold of people such as NCSE, go to legislators/policymakers, tell them you are now pursuing a policy of open enquiry into the unfolding of life, the geologic column and physical chemistry being the ultimate arbiters. Tell them, you are no longer classifying the idea that EOHIPPUS gave birth to the distinctly different OROHIPPUS (or something similar) in the same way as Mum going to the hospital and having a baby, as scientific. You are entitled to do so, because you have pursued free speech.

You don’t expect AIG to do it, do you? I have tried. Likewise the others. Not that they’re all quite the same.

We are in a classic re-run of history, when the electrical animation = life imbroglio petered out, and the idealogically driven set dropped off the car of mainstream science. They cling on, to the last gasp.

Philip Bruce Heywood Wrote:

I wish I was being honest, there.

Why not give it the good old Aussie try? What consolation do you get from pseudo-science? The real stuff is far more interesting. At least you finally admitted you don’t understand science. That’s a start. Why not admit it to your following and get rid of your obligation to maintain a fake substitute? You would be doing them a favor also by not sending them down a dead end. You might also feel your internal anger and resentment toward the science community slipping away. Why die angry?

I would be in his [STW’s] debt if he could tell me all he knows about quantum ’particles’, such as photons, and their applications in taking the place of what we would term ’normal’ chemical reagents.

That is unlikely in a forum such as this. It derails threads and takes up bandwidth. Is that your intent?

You can get at the information much more easily by searching the Internet or by getting to a decent library or book store.

Bending science concepts to conform to sectarian dogma leads to the ill-informed political activities of the ID/Creationists. Panda’s Thumb, NCSE, and the various Citizens for Science organizations have to be on continual alert for the stealth tactics of the anti-evolution crowd.

Philip Bruce Heywood Wrote:

This has to do with finding thermodynamically possible pathways for the observed increase in the complexity of life.

To repeat; thermodynamics does not prevent increasing complexity, including life. What happens is due to fundamental rules, such as quantum mechanics, and the emergent properties that come with increasing complexity driven by energy flow.

At the bottom of everything, the laws of thermodynamics hold. They are not proscriptive; they are descriptive. Once known, they are useful for understanding physical systems and simplifying experimental techniques for extracting data and knowledge about systems, including living systems.

So, Mike, you have in theory or in practice set up a theoretical but real scenario, as prescribed by Kelvin and my university lecturer, that precisely reverses the total of the actions involved in speciation, and you have, by you, the readout of the ‘work done’ by the action(s), subtracted from the ‘work required’ to restore the system to originality, which tells us in hard figures the amount of ‘disorganization’ the universe inherited courtesy of the actions. Torbjorn has advized us on the units in which to express the (entropy) measurement.

It is apparent that classical thermodynamics doesn’t reach that far. You are saying it does, without qualification. “Thermodynamics does not prevent increasing complexity, including life.” Classical thermodynamics doesn’t allow it, because it doesn’t reach that far. So it becomes necessary to extend the thermodynamics. So why not extend the thermodynamics, so it does account for it, or come clean and admit that you have abandoned the scientific method by making pronouncements of fact upon something which has no mathematical framework in which to be evaluated? Of course life became more complex. The public out there might like to know, how. The legislators might like to know the same.

Philip Bruce Heywood Wrote:

Classical thermodynamics doesn’t allow it, because it doesn’t reach that far. So it becomes necessary to extend the thermodynamics. So why not extend the thermodynamics, so it does account for it, or come clean and admit that you have abandoned the scientific method by making pronouncements of fact upon something which has no mathematical framework in which to be evaluated?

I think I’ll just go back to profiling.

Louisiana may be next, but it looks like the early stages of an anti-evolution campaign may also be underway in Maine, led by a Creationist and Biblical literalist named Matthew Linkletter and the chairman of the School Administrative District 59 Board of Directors, Norman Luce.

Mike, as you say in the “profiling” comment:

“This appears to be a standard technique used by all ID/Creationists. They try to provoke scientists into explaining something and then proceed to quote-mine and distort everything the scientist says.”

Exactly. Why risk being quote-mined when the lurkers can get evidence for evolution elsewhere? What I do feel the need to remind lurkers (because almost no one else does) is that the particular anti-evolutionist I am responding to is not the only “kind” of anti-evolutionist out there. The different “kinds” may share tactics of baiting “evolutionists,” but beyond that, they have hopeless disagreements about what happened, when and how, in biological history. And an increasing habit of saying as little as possible about their position and covering up differences with others. PBH is becoming the exception to the rule by at least taking a position, though one has to sift through a lot of anti-evolution arguments, none of which support his position any better than competing ones, to find it.

It’s like they are shouting between the lines: “We need to seek and fabricate ‘weaknesses’ of evolution because the weaknesses of every other potential explanation, including my own, are far greater.”

orionsbelt Wrote:

“biology course where evolution is given its proper treatment.”

Including a treatment of its weaknesses?

Sure, as long as the weaknesses of the “weaknesses” arguments (which are, to date, nothing but misrepresentations) are exposed.

Frank, you do understand that in terms of the technology, this debate, which should never have begun, finished some years ago? The results are in, sufficient to end it.

But, in a mostly figurative sense, it “keeps some people off the streets”. PANDA’S THUMB offers the world a service. It presumably has therapeutic value for certain personality types. And it does allow free speech, if you get a free-speech host.

It’s a human phenomenon. As for technologic or historic accuracy or relevance, no - but then, we need an “out” for all types, and even the people over at AIG need their spot where they feel valued. I happen to be correct and I happened to end the Origins controversy - but it’s the emptiest thing anyone could do. People need something more than technology and cold facts. Actually, a technically accurate Bible frightens me cold. I can read history and I can see human nature. Technologic accuracy doesn’t create human virtue. Interesting world we inhabit.

Mike O’Risal said: Louisiana may be next, but it looks like the early stages of an anti-evolution campaign may also be underway in Maine, led by a Creationist and Biblical literalist named Matthew Linkletter and the chairman of the School Administrative District 59 Board of Directors, Norman Luce.

This is precisely why we need to stop wasting our time with trolls like Heywood. Instead of constantly being distracted with these yahoos, we should instead be focusing our energies on educating people (especially our state legislatures) about these issues.

Let the damn trolls starve. If their tactic is to distract you and keep you from something more productive, then they’ve accomplished their mission if you feed them.

Also, watch your local papers & media. We’ve seen a few letters to papers in northern Illinois promoting “Expelled” and we’re organizing a response campaign.

Philip Bruce Heywood said:

SWT seems to have his revolver disarmed and in a safe knee holster. I would be in his debt if he could tell me all he knows about quantum ‘particles’, such as photons, and their applications in taking the place of what we would term ‘normal’ chemical reagents. The new advances in technology are suggesting that there is more than one way to skin a cat, when it comes to re-arranging complex organic molecules. This has to do with finding thermodynamically possible pathways for the observed increase in the complexity of life. E.g., what do we know about generating an information relevant quantum particle, get it to do a set task in altering an organic molecule, then re-absorb it?

Blog comments really aren’t the proper venue to provide a university education in chemistry or chemical engineering. However, in thinking about your comments, I suspect that you’re making self-organization seem more mysterious than it really is. With that in mind, I’ll try another run at this, using a self-organizing system you’re probabaly familiar with. Because it’s a familiar phenomenon, you might not even have noticed that it is an example of self-organization.

If you fill a bathtub with water, and open the drain, initially the surface of the water is relatively smooth and uniform. At some point, a vortex usually forms at the drain. This vortex is highly structured compared the the rest of the water in the tub. Once the water level gets too low, the vortex breaks up.

Now, you didn’t have to do anything to make this organization appear – it is a spontaneous event once the initial conditions are set. Note that it is also not necessary to sneak in any information to establish the organized structure. All that is needed is a potential gradient in a particular range.

Since the process is not thermodynamially reversible, entropy is generated. Despite this entropy generation, organization is maintained by “consuming” the potential energy of the water as it falls from the water level in the tub to the drain, completely consistent with the second law. From a thermodynamic standpoint, this is one of the “dissipative structures” discussed by Prigogine.

Philip Bruce Heywood Wrote:

I happen to be correct and I happened to end the Origins controversy - but it’s the emptiest thing anyone could do. People need something more than technology and cold facts.

Lemme get this straight. You are saying that you “happened to end the Origins controversy.” implies that you consider all other anti-evolutionists who claimed to have ended the controversy (though rarely as blunt about it as you are) are just as wrong as “evolutionists.” But if you continue to challenge only evolution, and leave relatively alone those anti-evolutionists whose conclusions contradict yours, then one can reasonably suspect that you don’t have much confidence in your conclusions. In the case of the IDers, there is no conclusion (other than “some designer did something sometime”). For them I suspect complete lack of confidence in all the failed, mutually contradictory alternatives, and that they just playing “don’t ask, don’t tell” to placate creationists like you.

If by “people need something more than technology and cold facts” you mean God, well many “evolutionists,” myself included, agree. But - and I won’t even try to change your mind on this - I find the theistic evolutionists’ view of God a lot more awe-inspiring than the hapless, cartoonish figure that anti-evolutionists pretend to outsmart by “catching Him in their irreducibly complex mousetrap.”

Frank J Wrote:

What I do feel the need to remind lurkers (because almost no one else does) is that the particular anti-evolutionist I am responding to is not the only ”kind” of anti-evolutionist out there. The different ”kinds” may share tactics of baiting ”evolutionists,” but beyond that, they have hopeless disagreements about what happened, when and how, in biological history. And an increasing habit of saying as little as possible about their position and covering up differences with others.

Indeed, Frank. And your reminders are very helpful. I noticed also that they don’t want to talk about the problems with connecting natural phenomena to a supernatural realm or to a specific sectarian deity within a supernatural realm. Either they completely ignore the questions, or they give some flippant remark that it is “outside the domain of discussion”.

I think I have mentioned before that I have some interest in the nature of misconceptions, how they arise, and why they are so persistent. I think I have pretty much seen it all by now with the ID/Creationists. The differences among them are small in this respect, and most seem consciously aware of the fact that they think the real science is wrong and their pseudo-science is right. They seem to arrive at this through exegesis and hermeneutics. Evidence, in any rationally understood meaning of that word, is irrelevant.

The only thing I am not completely sure of is the cause/effect relationship with sectarian dogma. Are minds that are incapable of learning science more likely to gravitate toward fundamentalist sectarian dogma, or does fundamentalist sectarian dogma make it impossible to learn science properly? I think it is the latter; other non-sectarians who don’t understand science don’t have the rigid objections to science and evolution. It is mainly those who come from an immersion in fundamentalist sectarian dogma who are most rigidly anti-science and anti-evolution and seem to have the most difficulty learning.

I suspect more emphasis on your approach may be helpful. Even though they will babble incoherently about science, they sure don’t want to talk about their sectarian dogma.

MattusMaximus said:

Let’s not derail folks… please stick to the issue at hand. If you want to discuss God vs. atheism, please go do it on a philosophy/theology forum.

Seems you misunderstand what I and others were complaining about. Unwarranted dilution of effort is obviously devaluing, unwanted religious figures of speech aside.

If I wanted to discuss religion, or objected to any religious show, how come I neither discussed religion nor objected to Ernie’s comment (which can be seen as considerate)?

That water flow & turbidity captures the imagination. I have often wondered about thunderstorms and these commonplace willy-willys that are somewhat like vortices moving through stable fluids. Kelvin said that we understand comparatively nothing, even about a cup of water. He also said, as I recall, something about vortex models of matter or something such.

On that topic, we had an Australian astro-mathematician or something such here, chap by the name of Prentice, smart operator, kept jumping up and down about planetary accretion along Neo-Laplacian lines, said he was being ignored. I think he was. He predicted a lot of things about the solar system, and furthermore had planets forming everywhere through this contraction of spinning particle discs with separation of rings of planet-forming matter as they contract. Playground spinner sort of effect. His big story was that he mathematically established the possibility of particle accretion in supersonic+ speed turbulence. With all these planets forming, supersonically, everywhere, he kept saying, We aren’t alone. I wrote to him and pointed out that we certainly aren’t alone - there are the Martians, the little green men, and the members of the Science Dept. at (I think it was) Melbourne University. Furthermore, would he like to publish his findings in user-friendly form at www.CreationTheory.com , because he had good and pertinent science? He decided he wasn’t alone enough, in the universe, after that. But his turbulence theory made sense. He was also on the track with lunar origin. Modern technology hasn’t yet grasped the full implications of turbulent flow, and it happens whenever we wash our hands.

Neither has it grasped the causes of hidden signalling in Nature. Yesterday’s SCIENCEDAILY reports that some birds can sense when they are being watched. Mystery, anyone’s guess, I lean towards some tie-in with light. To be correct, I didn’t end the Origins controversy, I merely expounded the implications of the geologic record in concert with the biblical account. Technology ends the argument. If birds can sense when they are being watched - think about it - nature can do things that we can scarcely as yet comprehend - such as tinker with organic molecules, without physical gene splicing/engineering. It’s all there, in the modern science world. Why keep pushing the political buttons?

Frank raises a point re. ‘straightening out’ other bodies that oppose mainstream science. Ever been approached on a street corner by a religious sect? At home, by a religious sect? I don’t know how you handle them, but I shudder and try to exit via a crack in the ground. I don’t oppose them or anything. Every one to his own. I have personally tried to reason with one K. Ham (he is a Queenslander) and I have been personally somewhat ridiculed by one C. Weiland. Bless them all. In the end, the concept of a rational God who obeys his own laws is no enduring threat to science. But I can’t personally handle this sectarian stuff. They probably don’t get 5% of the populace. Fix up this nonsense about common descent and mutations, and get somewhere near the 21st Century in terms of technology, and they won’t even rate 5%. It isn’t politics you need, it’s a convincing model.

MattusMaximus Wrote:

Instead of constantly being distracted with these yahoos, we should instead be focusing our energies on educating people (especially our state legislatures) about these issues.

My rule of thumb is to give PT anti-evolutinists (trolls or otherwise) a few opportunities to show their lack of science or double standard for evidence (“evolution needs infinity, but my ‘theory’ needs nothing but our perceived incredulity of evolution”). And like Mike E said, I don’t take their bait ang give them quotes to mine.

Matthew Linkletter (in the link to Maine activism) deserves mention. But it would be self-defeating to just dismiss him as a “typical creationist,” even if most are like that nowadays. What is significant is that, even though he seeks primarily YEC material, he is learning the art of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Specifically, the IDers fallback tactic of “yeah, our ‘theory’ isn’t science, but neither is ‘Darwinism’.” Unfortunately, such bait-and-switch tactics, along with other bait-and-switches like the “evolution vs. abiogenesis” one that Linkletter pulls, are still well-kept secrets among the general public.

The message needs to be not “us vs. the creationists” but “us (mainstream science) vs. many diverse groups of scam artists and clueless or compartmentalized followers, none of which has a prayer at a better theory, and most of which do whatever is necessary to cover up the fatal flaws, hopeless contradictions, evasions and double standards in their pseudoscience.”

Ever been approached on a street corner by a religious sect? At home, by a religious sect? I don’t know how you handle them, but I shudder and try to exit via a crack in the ground.

Actually, I quite enjoy it. I always try to “witness” back to them, to try to convert them to “my” shade of Christianity that’s just different enough that I’m certain they find it completely reprehensible.

Sadly, I’ve been around this so long that my senseless arguments virtually write themselves (see Poe’s law).

Most of their talking points are so insipid that I have no problem matching the logic step-by-step, and leave them flustered. They’re ready to defend their faith against outright rejection, but choke badly on the enthusiastic but gravely misled heathen when they have to start splitting imaginary hairs about existential truth and just exactly why their fantasy world is better than mine.

Cruel, I know, since most of them are genuinely upright people, but still, they started it, and if you’re gonna play the game, you have to be ready when someone hits the ball back.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on May 3, 2008 9:17 AM.

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