More anti-evolution rumblings in the UK

Via Dean and Science, Just Science comes this story about a new group trying to get ID into class in the UK:

Parents are being encouraged to challenge their children’s science teachers over what they are explaining as the origins of life.

An organisation called Truth in Science has also sent resource packs to all UK secondary school science departments.

It promotes the idea of intelligent design – that there was an intelligence behind the creation of the universe.

On their website, Truth in Science notes that they’ve already sent ” a mailing to all Secondary School and College Heads of Science in the United Kingdom.” Busy little bees, aren’t they?

And boy, doesn’t this sound familiar:

It quotes the Edexcel examining board as explaining that students “need to adopt a critical, questioning frame of mind, going ‘behind the scenes’ to understand the workings of science and how it impacts on society and their lives”.

The Truth in Science website says: “We consider that it is time for students to be permitted to adopt a critical approach to Darwinism in science lessons.”

Something sure has evolved: the anti-evolution catchphrase. “Critical analysis” and its kin are obviously being positively selected!

(More below…)

Of course, most of y’all there across the pond are much more sensible than to fall for this sort of thing.

The British Humanist Association and the progressive think tank Ekklesia have written to Education Secretary Alan Johnson, calling on the government to ensure teachers know that teaching material provided by Truth in Science “is not appropriate for school science”.

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow said: “Reputable scientists and reputable theologians are clear that the anti-evolutionary ideas propagated by groups like this are in no way comparable to scientific theories of origins.

“The government and its inspectorate should have no truck with superstition in the modern science classroom.”

(Leave it to the Brits to phrase things so eloquently…I think that phrase needs to be put on a bumper sticker).

A peek over at the “Truth in Science” website is enough to make one nauseous. They have the standard quote-mining and talking points as our own creationists. “A controversy exists;” “most of the public want to see this taught,” yada yada. And they’ve already developed some of their own lesson plansteaching “irreducible complexity” (.pdf) and assigning students homework on stories of “fossil frauds” (also .pdf), for example.

They also argue in their FAQ against the accusation that they’re just another American import:

Is Truth in Science an American organisation?

No, Truth in Science is a British organisation. Although dissent from Darwinism is often portrayed by the media as an American phenomenon, books have been published against Darwinism in the UK by anatomist Antony Latham, journalist Richard Milton, environmental scientist David Swift, and Professor of Design and Nature at Bristol University, Stuart Burgess. Darwinism is questioned by thinking people all over the world.

Whether they receive any funding from American sources, I don’t know, but I’m happy to let y’all take credit for them–but still sorry that you have to deal with this nonsense there as well.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    September 29, 2006

    Something sure has evolved: the anti-evolution catchphrase. “Critical analysis” and its kin are obviously being positively selected!

    Much like the way the Global Heating denialists owned the term ‘skeptic’. I must say I am impressed – and horrified – by the ability various anti-science groups to control the meaning of language.

  2. #2 Corkscrew
    September 29, 2006

    I spent some time a couple of days ago tracking through a list of young-earth creationist talks and events (don’t ask…). After categorising all the usual suspects – Biblical Creation Society, Answers in Genesis UK, etc – there were only two independent speakers remaining. Their names were Andy McIntosh and Stuart Burgess.

    “Hmm,” I thought, “those names seem strangely familiar.” Well, guess what?

    Turns out that TiS now represents the entire population of creationist speakers in the UK that don’t already belong to a group. But, of course, they only want to teach students good science. Right?

    Corkscrew
    (yet another SJS member)

  3. #3 Dean Morrison
    September 29, 2006

    Thanks for bringing this up Tara – I’m sure the American experience will be invaluble to us in our efforts to expose this for what it is….

    – It would be interesting to find out where the money is coming from…

  4. #4 Warren
    September 29, 2006

    Something sure has evolved: the anti-evolution catchphrase. “Critical analysis” and its kin are obviously being positively selected!

    I’m not totally certain Dawkins was the one to originate the concept of memes, but it’s clear that’s what we’re seeing here — a memetic infection, a bit like an intellectual virus or cancer.

    The trick is to work out an immunity meme. In this case, maybe absurdity will do. After all, you don’t see gravity undergoing “critical analysis”.

    Or maybe it makes more sense to either submit “Truth in Science” to critical analysis — or religion itself.

  5. #5 Dean Morrison
    September 29, 2006

    For absurdity look at the so-called ‘lesson plans’ – you couldn’t make this stuff up ( ….well okay they obviously have…but you know waht I mean).

  6. #6 Seth Manapio
    September 29, 2006

    “It promotes the idea of intelligent design – that there was an intelligence behind the creation of the universe.”

    ————————-

    Well, they slipped this one past the goalie there, didn’t they?

    Intelligent Design is not the idea that there was an intelligence behind the creation of the universe, and Darwinism is not the idea that there wasn’t. Darwinism is the well supported theory that all living creatures on earth are descended from a common ancestor through modification and natural selection, and Intelligent Design is the unfounded notion that specific features of natural creatures were designed–and presumably implemented–by an intelligent being or beings by methods that are only described as NOT being modification and selection.

    Neither one has any position on the creation of the universe itself, but ID supporters like to play on the popular idea that religious people are good, and atheists are evil, by slipping little lies about that into the press. Lying, presumably, is what good, moral people do.

  7. #7 Bob O'H
    September 29, 2006

    We should be able to follow the money, as Truth in Science says it is a Limited Company. So, via wiki I found this:

    Accounts are filed with Companies House.

    A quick trip to Companies House (or rather their website) followed, and I arrived at the TiS details. They have accounts filed in February this year. At this point, I’m not prepared to spend the eighteen quid to see them. Blame it on my tight Yorkshire blood.

    Bob

  8. #8 Corkscrew
    September 29, 2006

    The thing that bugs me is that Designerawful definition of ID as:
    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    What the heck do they mean by “best explained by”? In science, a good explanation is one that allows us to make accurate guesses as to what the universe will throw at us next. By this definition, ID is bloody useless. What’s their definition and why is it superior to the scientific one?

  9. #9 A.J. Cann
    September 29, 2006

    A spokesperson for the DfES said: “Neither creationism nor intelligent design are taught as a subject in schools, and are not specified in the science curriculum.
    The national curriculum for science clearly sets down that pupils should be taught that the fossil record is evidence for evolution, and how variation and selection may lead to evolution or extinction.”

  10. #10 Simon Barrow
    September 29, 2006

    Thanks for this very good report. Just a small correction – it’s the progressive *Christian* think tank Ekklesia that has teamed up with the British Humanist Association to try to ensure that creationism and ID doesn’t creep into British schools. We think it’s important to unite rational people across the religious / non-religious divide, in orer to emphasise that the isue is a *scientific* one. See the story here: Christians and humanists call on government to rule out ‘creationism’ in science classes 29/09/06.

  11. #11 Coin
    September 29, 2006

    Something sure has evolved: the anti-evolution catchphrase. “Critical analysis” and its kin are obviously being positively selected!

    There was a political cartoon floating around around the time of the Dover decision, with a blackboard showing one of those ape-to-man evolution diagrams. Except instead of showing the progress from ape to man, it just had a series of completely identical gorillas, one after the other. The gorillas were labelled, “CREATIONISM”, “CREATION SCIENCE”, “INTELLIGENT DESIGN”… with a blank space immediately after the third gorilla.

    In front of the blackboard were two gorillas looking at it. And one of them is saying, “We don’t appear to be making a lot of progress…”
    In a little doodle in the margins, the other one responds “maybe we could try a new name?”

    I guess we know what the fourth gorilla is named now…

  12. #12 Quasar9
    September 29, 2006

    Hi Tara,
    are you saying Darwinism cannot or must not be challenged?
    You are not being dogmatic by any chance
    Or are you a Darwinism religious zealot? lol!
    Is that the real meaning of Fundamentalism

    By all means define or describe ‘things’ scientifically, but there are different theories in biology, in physics and in most sciences, some diametrically opposed.

    And tunnel vision is not uncommon to any religion, most branches (or fields) of science do actually believe they hold the ultimate truth, at one point or other in time.
    But all these are trivial discussions. I’d much rather find what we have in common, there must be some point where we understand each other, especially if we happen to be talking (or communicating) in the same language. No???

    Hope you are having a fun weekend!

  13. #13 Quasar9
    September 29, 2006

    Hi Tara,
    are you saying Darwinism cannot or must not be challenged?
    You are not being dogmatic by any chance
    Or are you a Darwinism religious zealot? lol!
    Is that the real meaning of Fundamentalism

    By all means define or describe ‘things’ scientifically, but there are different theories in biology, in physics and in most sciences, some diametrically opposed.

    And tunnel vision is not uncommon to any religion, most branches (or fields) of science do actually believe they hold the ultimate truth, at one point or other in time.
    But all these are trivial discussions. I’d much rather find what we have in common, there must be some point where we understand each other, especially if we happen to be talking (or communicating) in the same language. No???

    Hope you are having a fun weekend!

  14. #14 Quasar9
    September 29, 2006

    Hi Tara,
    are you saying Darwinism cannot or must not be challenged?
    You are not being dogmatic by any chance
    Or are you a Darwinism religious zealot? lol!
    Is that the real meaning of Fundamentalism

    By all means define or describe ‘things’ scientifically, but there are different theories in biology, in physics and in most sciences, some diametrically opposed.

    And tunnel vision is not uncommon to any religion, most branches (or fields) of science do actually believe they hold the ultimate truth, at one point or other in time.
    But all these are trivial discussions. I’d much rather find what we have in common, there must be some point where we understand each other, especially if we happen to be talking (or communicating) in the same language. No???

    Hope you are having a fun weekend!

  15. #15 Michael Roberts
    September 29, 2006

    Truth in Science is actually hardline Young Earth creationsim and are playing that down and using the appparently better ID to get a foothold.

    Dont be fooled they are YEC of AIG and Ken Ham ilk.

    Must watch a programme on the Galapagos

    Michael

  16. #16 qetzal
    September 29, 2006

    Quasar9, your post has a definite trollish tone to it, but just in case…

    “are you saying Darwinism cannot or must not be challenged?”

    Challenged how? If you want to challenge it scientifically, by all means go ahead. I doubt anyone here will object. Feel free to propose a situation where ‘Darwinism’ makes one prediction and ID makes another. Then we can see which predicts correctly.

    Unfortunately, ID makes virtually no predictions, and the few it has made have proven wrong. Yet ID proponents think it should be accepted as a legitimate scientific theory. Sorry, that’s not science.

    “By all means define or describe ‘things’ scientifically, but there are different theories in biology, in physics and in most sciences, some diametrically opposed.”

    Which merely shows that you don’t understand the term. By definition, a scientific theory is well supported by the available evidence, conforms with known observations, and accurately predicts new observations. Diametrically opposed theories are impossible by definition, since they couldn’t both be well-supported by the available evidence.

  17. #17 Fred
    September 29, 2006

    In their FAQ one reads that one of the reasons that children should be taught the minority scientific view (i.e., a non-Darwinian view of origins)is:

    1) British school textbooks usually mention creationists in their chapters on evolution, but misrepresent their views. Thus, they teach a view of origins which is held not held by any scientist. Students deserve to have a fair and accurate portrayal of the views of scientists who disagree with Darwinism.

    Wow! If that’s not calling the kettle black! How about making sure that kids have a fair and accurate portrayal of evolutionary biology? They certainly won’t get that from any creationist-ID book or program that I’ve seen.

  18. #18 Peter McGrath
    September 29, 2006

    Thanks, Tara, good write up. This has been simmering for a while, which is why we want to celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday (2009) in style by launching a replica HMS Beagle, and staging a highly publicised recreation of The Voyage to really piss ‘em off.

  19. #19 Simon Barrow
    September 29, 2006
  20. #20 Albion
    September 29, 2006

    Considering the way the pseudo-scientists have taken control of a lot of the language surrounding some of these areas (“sound science” is their name for pseudoscience and “junk science” is the research that actual scientists do; “designer of the universe” isn’t anything at all to do with God; “theory” is a half-baked idea with no evidence to support it; “sceptic” is a person who rejects “junk science” in favour of “sound science,” etc), I suppose it’s hardly surprising that they’re now redefining “critical thinking about” as “finding fault with.”

    As long as they’re the media-savvy ones, this propaganda is just going to increase and will find its way to the public a lot more easily than the correct science will. The less scientifically literate the population is, the easier it’ll be to pass this rubbish off as the real thing.

  21. #21 Quasar9
    September 30, 2006

    Qetzal, it would help if you left a link so that I could read into where your bounty of wisdom might come from or not.
    You say Scientific theory cannot be diametrically opposed
    Which Planet are you living on?
    1) Global Warming -vs- non global warming
    2) Diseases causes of? each one has more than one theory
    3) Treatments chemical? the pharmaceutical industry is littered with thousands of different drugs that claim to cure everything and often the same things
    4) Ideal Home? ask seven people and you’ll get eight answers some diametrically opposed
    5) Ideal job? ask eight people and you’ll get nine answers again some diametrically opposed
    6) Ideal food? – what is good and what is bad changes almost daily according to some fad or scientific report. Fat is bad, fat is good; milk is bad, milk is good; chips are bad, chips are good; meat is bad, meat is good;

    How old is the earth? Do you have a scientific indisputable answer, or are you a parrot just echoing the latest hype
    When & where did man evolve speech? do you have a scientific answer that cannot be disputed, or are you really really the walking proof that ‘you’ are evolved from a parrot. Perhaps your aka is more than coincidental?

  22. #22 KiwiInOz
    September 30, 2006

    Quasar9 – I’ll be charitable in my assessment that you are seeking truth, not being a troll. But I’m yet to be convinced.

    What Quetzal was saying was that if Theory A explains observed patterns and processes, then Theory B, if diametrically opposed to Theory A (i.e. contradictory), cannot also be right. E.g. Theory A states that natural selection is responsible for observed variation in the pattern. Theory B states that natural selection is not responsible for the observed pattern. If Theory A is right then Theory B is wrong. If Theory B is right, then Theory A is wrong.

    This is not to say that different theories cannot both explain some of the variance observed in the aforementioned patterns and processes. If this is the case, then the theories will be synthesised. Or, the theories may be limited to a particular domain, e.g. gravity and relativity/quantum mechanics.

    As for your six examples – you haven’t stated any scientific theories that explain anything.

    1) Global warming is a fact. Different theories exist as to why this is happening and what the consequences will be.
    2) Are you differentiating here between germ theory of disease, noxious vapours, and demonic possession?
    3) Industry and marketing are not science.
    4) I imagine that there are a number of psychological theories that explain diversity of views and opinions.
    5) Ditto.
    6) All things in moderation. Context IS important.

    I hope that your aka doesn’t mean that you are out there!

  23. #23 KiwiInOz
    September 30, 2006

    PS – you can challenge any scientific theory, just as long as you have a theory which provides greater explanatory and predictive power than the existing one. Plenty of accepted theories have succumed to a challenge, and plenty of challengers have fallen by the wayside.

    Shouting “you are wrong” is not a valid challenge.

    BTW, please clarify what you mean by Darwinism (that shall not be challenged), so that we can at least argue on the same page.

    A small hint. If you think that Darwinism = Evolution then we are definitely not on the same page.

  24. #24 AnthonyK
    September 30, 2006

    Yes, creationism has come to the UK. I walked into the staffroom a few days ago and saw two brightly packaged DVDs lying on the table. From the picture – a DNA chain with a chanpanzee, I think, and the title “exploring out origins” or some such important-sounding title I knew immediately what they were. “What’s this intelligent design crap doing here?” I said, slightly peevishly (because ID does make me cross). “Yes” said the science teacher. “It’s utter bollocks, Christian fundamlentalist crap. I’ll just bin them”. Which, after a short rant by both of us, just so other staff could be aware of what we were talking about, we did. Not in my school, not in science – and I suspect the reaction was just the same in nearly every British school (except the “faith” schools, but don’t get me started on them).
    Incidentally 1) Dawkins’s new book “The God Delusion” is magnificent – please read it and
    2) Quaser9 you are a creationist troll trying to replace science with Christian apologetics (which actually sounds like a good idea – go on then, apologise!). Your wilful ignorance, and your celebration of it, has no place on this pro-science website. Please go away.
    Anthony Kerr

  25. #25 Quasar9
    September 30, 2006

    kiwilnoz – yes I’m out here a lot of the time, but with you it is clear that at least one can have some sort of a ‘civilized’ conversation, discussion or debate, and recognize that Darwinism or evolution are not necessarily on the same page.

    As for Qetzal & Anthony Kerr, the first sign of ignorance is to start with insults or by calling someone meaningless names, the second to presume in your tiny little brains who I am or where I’m coming from.

    And now Tara a little magic and magical music for the weekend
    Video-Tron-ics youtube
    Inner life of a cell. – Enjoy!

  26. #26 Quasar9
    September 30, 2006

    Kiwiinloz, and since you were charitable, I shall be charitable too:
    There are Political theories, and some historically violently rival ones, but we are evolving
    There are Economic theories, and some diametrically contradisctory ones, but we are evolving
    There are some Medical Theories, some very controversial treatments and surgical practices, but we are evolving.

    Now where is the Scientific Proof or Evidence that we are descended from this animal or that, from a fish, an anphibian, or a monkey
    Now where is the Scientific Proof of Evolution from single cell structure to Humans. I am not questioning the theory of evolution I am asking for Scientific Proof & Evidence.
    You have none therefore your theories on this matter are as inconclusive as the origins of life, and less conclusive than Political or Economic theory.

    Incidentally Marketing & Industrial theory are tools in society, which whether you wish to qualify them as theory or not, remain theories – and by enlarge satisfactory tools. Unlesss you follow the sequences as laid out by the surrounding (political or economic & cultural) environment you will not make any progress (or profit) in any business whether manugacturing ‘cold’ drinks or pharmaceutical drugs.

  27. #27 dogscratcher
    September 30, 2006

    Looks like you got your own troll: good for you.

  28. #28 Tara C. Smith
    September 30, 2006

    Oh, alas, trolls are common here. I think anyone who compares the validity of evolutionary theory to opinions about what type of house is better has already shown they’re a waste of my time.

  29. #29 dogscratcher
    September 30, 2006

    “I think anyone who compares the validity of evolutionary theory to opinions about what type of house is better has already shown they’re a waste of my time.”

    Interesting Hueristic. Sounds like a bad case of Equivocation to me.

    By the way, I tried to send a Trackback ping here but kept getting a message saying, ‘You are pinging trackbacks too quickly. Please try again later.’

    I don’t know if the problem is on your end or mine, but you might want to let your tech people know.

  30. #30 KiwiInOz
    September 30, 2006

    Sorry Quasar9. You have failed to convince me that you are not a troll. You show a blatant misunderstanding of the meaning of “scientific theory” and the fact that science doesn’t deal in proof. You also blatantly disregard the huge and growing pool of evidence that supports both the fact and theory of biological evolution.

    Feeding time in this zoo is over. Goodbye!

  31. #31 Quasar9
    October 1, 2006

    kiwiinloz said: “Science doesn’t deal in proof”
    dogscratcher said: “Equivocation – cell evolution and stem cells do not equate to human life”
    Tara said: “Housing is not proof that humans are evolved”

    Well Tara, being pretty doesn’t save you from being pretty dumb or wrong. And being a Doctor doesn’t make you worth much in my esteem. I certainly won’t be looking here for anything much more evolved than cow pat. No need to reply.
    This conversation is as dead as your brainless deadpan humour!!!

  32. #32 Goldenship2
    October 1, 2006

    Tara, Is your understanding, and the implication here that Theism does not understand evolution, and
    therefore to understand evolution you need to be atheist.

    Kiwiinloz “Scientific Theory and Science do not deal in proof”? – well if you cannot prove that a mobile phone or a laptop works you are not going to sell many, but hey I guess you don’t need proof that there is not much of a market for bikinis among eskimos in the Artic, or in Antartica. Or proof that unless you have warm clothing & housing, humans wouldn’t last long in subzero environments.

    But Tara, none of that has anything to do with Science or Biology, Right? which flea market did you say you bought your doctorate from – and how ignorant must one pretend or show to be, to get to be assistant professor in Iowa.

  33. #33 marvin e. kirsh
    October 1, 2006

    Dear Dr. Smith and commentators:

    When I read about evolution, Darwin, and the intellectual conflicts involved ….at the roots I perceive a simple repulsion at the notion of scientific catagorization of our sacred time and lives-to reduce us. When I mentally outline this topic it is very complex. At first point evolutionary theory does not purport to explain all of the biological world-it has evolved from keen observation which is not(keen observation and intelligence) assumed explainable or currently possible to include in evolutionary biology. With this obvious fact in mind by those who take issue with the topic, an inescapable defensive position is created(maybe by those more reasonable, aware of the notion of thesis and antithesis-action and reaction, and more willing to listen). Science,by definition, is empirical-e.g. based on observation and measurement; maybe confused by many with mathematical theory which can be said to be, if one assumes that the world is innately imperfect this way and derived from unequal cleavages and distributions(e.g. a perfect snowflake cannot be found,one cannot draw a perfect circle)..mathematical notions when proved are opposite of a real world of passing time of which we only conjecture about and try to extract order from. It seems clear some segment of society is challanged in it’s religious and spiritual beliefs with respect to creation vs. Darwin. I think at first issue it is important to note that some evolution does proceed in nature, from fossil records etc, but as to whether one can state that the entire life line of biological life, is totally a product of evolution, or proceeds to evolve from a point one may name a creation. Medical science, in order to fill its contracts and doctrines as its whole goal as to benefit the human condition does and must extract ideas from the evolutions in nature it has a sound perception of, but cannot cross a line where it tresspasses on personal notions and evolutions where there is only the possibility of mathematical footing. The world cannot really be added up.Hence if one were to coerce a challange to to the empirical it most likely would need some scientific logic as a point of argument within the exponentially growing technology of today. This is a very sad(empathy creating and depressing) state of affairs-in which both divisions are exactly in a defensive position-neither of them self-knowingly correct in exact argument-less who would wish to want to draw the topic of creation into the audience of science expertise utilizing their battle tools and arguments at which they are expert. Would draw a great deal of sympathy,not to mention to cause an over zealous science pursuit for answers to everything.
    The answer, where I think all thinking must begin, is that, there is something that just is, that lay beyond the logical bounds of science questioning, and the notion that all things have a seed(this is more a scientific notion than one may think). All is or isnt-doesnt have to have been created-we ourselves give a meaningless priority to this aspect of our searches,as from a very far perspective the notion has no application to life-in reality the same perspective on the topic from where each of us stand, really could not motivate the application of our life forces and endowed energies.
    So we have two factions; one taking issue with the use of example aimed at shady areas of the others knowledge shading more of it than common sense demands for the common good-the health wellbeing and prosperity of society. I, on view of this description of affairs, two very discontented parties estutely gauling on another, would be inclined to think that there is a third party, (that is not god or the intelligent creator himself, and not of a neutral third perspective)-of a seed of some kind heirachily below in the two place scheme of things what one would name as “just is”. I do not myself know what or who this might be- a person, group, secret society, or just an idea we keep regurgitating (in feature this whole debate is an activity of intellectual regirgitation down to the pictorials of fossil records) and fail to actually upchuck. In slang medical interpretation a hostile verbal propensity for a sublimated -suppressed vomiting urge(I’m not sure if laughter helps either. Maybe just a lack of clean fresh air-toxins in the food and water that dont mix well with clean fresh thinking-and a resulting society so peculiarly cleaved from some unknown stress that it is evolved to be involved more in internal struggles than looking out for its’ own health.
    When I was a graduate student in New York, I had, after feeling ill, bringing up a lot of sputum at home, asked to come to the hospital to deliver a sputum sample. I traveled through New York an hour to the hospital; two doctors , three nurses-of perfect movie star features each twice my size of heavy stock build and perfect intellectual spoken english, approached me with a sputum cup in hand, my throat had gone dry…(we want you to spit in this cup)”are you ready?..as much in the cup as possible..take a deep breath..” and they formed a circle around me-in deepest privacy. I thought ……took a deep breath and delivered after several attempts only a very tiny sputum sample that was passed and viewed in sequence to the supervising doctor and then sent for laboratory analysis; which came out negative(nor did I continue to bring up sputum at home). When they looked the little internally struggling microbes were not there-regardless of the most cautious of circumstances and carefull invesigation-concern. So who is too blame or argue with if the parasites remained-intelligent design beyond explanation -deliberate, by some other means or to deceive science-evolved or dissapeared by happenstance-eating the wrong foods, bad air etc. The doctor had nothing to invesigate if the symptoms disappeared whether the microbe lingered or not-the bottom line is not of medical or religious curiosity, but of the food and air I was exposed to.

    http://www.marvinekirsh.com
    http://www.authorsden.com/marvinelikirsh

  34. #34 dogscratcher
    October 1, 2006

    Aye Carumba!
    Quasar9, Goldenship2,
    You guys need to get together and take a class somewhere dealing with “operational definitions.”

  35. #35 qetzal
    October 1, 2006

    KiwiInOz wrote:

    What Quetzal was saying was that if Theory A explains observed patterns and processes, then Theory B, if diametrically opposed to Theory A (i.e. contradictory), cannot also be right.

    No, that’s not my point. A true scientific theory is more than just a plausible explanation for some observation. It’s a well-tested, well-supported explanation that accurately predicts new observations.

    “Theory A” and “Theory B” cannot be diametrically opposed and each be well-supported by available evidence. For example, suppose “Theory A” is the “human activity theory of global warming,” which claims that most or all recent warming is due to human activity. By calling that a scientific theory, we’re implying that there is compelling evidence that humans are the primary cause of global warming.

    Suppose “Theory B” is the “random climate variation theory of recent global warming,” which claims that most or all recent warming is due to random variation. Again, if that’s a scientific theory, then there must be compelling evidence that global warming is primarily due to random climatic variation.

    How could the evidence be compelling for both human activity and random variation as the primary causes of global warming? It can’t. These two diametrically opposed explanations cannot both be scientific theories.

    If two testable explanations are diametrically opposed, and the evidence can’t readily distinguish between them (yet), they are hypotheses, not theories.

    Unfortunately, the word theory gets misused a lot in scientific contexts, even by scientists. Creationists and ID supports take advantage of that to claim the Creation Science “Theory” and ID “Theory” are scientifically legitimate alternatives to current Evolutionary Theory. Not so. They are alternative explanations, to be sure, but they are not alternative theories.

  36. #36 dogscratcher
    October 1, 2006

    “Unfortunately, the word theory gets misused a lot in scientific contexts, even by scientists. Creationists and ID supports take advantage of that to claim the Creation Science “Theory” and ID “Theory” are scientifically legitimate alternatives to current Evolutionary Theory. Not so. They are alternative explanations, to be sure, but they are not alternative theories.”

    Well said.

  37. #37 David
    October 1, 2006

    On the Board of Directors of ‘Truth in Science’ is the notorious Steven Layfield, such a stickler for science and evidence that he once wrote:

    Note every occasion when an evolutionary/old-earth paradigm (millions or billions of years) is explicitly mentioned or implied by a text-book, examination question or visitor and courteously point out the fallibility of the statement and, wherever possible, give the alternative (always better) Biblical explanation of the same data

  38. #38 KiwiInOz
    October 1, 2006

    I’m sorry if that wasn’t your point Qetzal – I do think, however, that my intent was the same as yours. I know that a scientific theory is more than a plausible explanation. See my PS to Qasar9 above, as evidence of this (keywords – explanatory power, predictive capacity).

    I do think that you are wrong in saying that the two theories that you mention (re global warming) cannot be scientific theories. I see this in terms of complex systems, with feedbacks, multi-scale interactions etc, rather than the simple cause and effect, largely linear, model of reductionist science. I get the impression that the current round of global warming is a consequence of the interaction between our actions and the biophysical environment. If this is so, then your two competing theories are both partially right. I say partially because, as you have stated them, they are posed as competing theories based on cause and effect, but do not consider the dynamics of complex systems. Therefore they are not quite right either. Partitioning out variance in a complex system is problematic.

    Note also that theories must refer to a specific domain. The Newtonian theory of gravity works well in our domain, but is useless in quantum space. Newtonian theory isn’t necessarily right or wrong – it’s right enough for our day to day use – but it is definitely wrong when we start to go nano.

    Cheers

  39. #39 Darth Robo
    October 2, 2006

    Quasar9, Goldenship2,

    Please then explain the scientific theory of intelligent design. Please tell us about their research programme and all (if any) scientific discoveries, advancements or predictions that have been made. Please come back when you’re done.

    You will excuse me if I don’t hold my breath.

  40. #40 GH
    October 6, 2006

    reputable theologians

    Thats like saying reputable astrologer. How could you tell the reputable from the non? What method would you use to do so?

  41. #41 Roger Stanyard
    October 7, 2006

    I was wondering whether it is OK to update everyone on the phoneys called Truth in Science. I’ve been involved in exposing them in the UK.

    Here is a broad overview of the latest position and what we are trying to do about it:

    The organisation Truth in Science is the central issue facing the anti-creationist movement in the UK. Truth in Science is trying to push for the teaching of creationism in state schools. However, it does not have the honesty to admit this is actually trying to pass off its “science” as Intelligent Design.

    Nearly all of the people who are involved in Truth in Science are prominent young earth creationists.

    Truth in Science appears to have raised a considerable sum of money and has sent creationist material to every head of science departments in UK state schools and colleges. The material is well organised and presented and shows how teachers can sneak creationism and/or Intelligent Design into the science classroom.

    Truth in Science has adapted the US technique of “teach the controversy” to get its fundamentalist religion into the science classroom. It hasn’t the honesty to tell the public what its real intentions are. It has withheld from the public that it is backed entirely by young earth creationists and religious fundamentalists.

    We have pointed this out in the national press. He is our letter published in the Times newspaper on 3rd October:
    Sir, The British Centre for Science Education is deeply concerned about the teaching of pseudoscience in place of science in schools in the UK.

    We are a new pressure group that aims to keep science and only science in the science classrooms of the UK. In particular, we are alarmed at the launch of a creationist religious group called Truth in Science (report, Sept 29). It is aiming to get creationism taught in science lessons in schools.

    Truth in Science recently sent free materials to every school in the UK. We urge teachers to treat this material with extreme caution. It is full of scientific errors and misrepresentations and fails to tell the recipients about the group’s creationist beliefs and objectives. Attempts to deliver this material in a science classroom may confuse children, and could well place their future academic success at risk.

    Truth in Science is pushing supernaturalism as a viable alternative to the accepted science regarding the origins and development of life on this planet and established geological knowledge that the Earth is very old.

    This is at its heart a theological debate fit for a religious education class, but not a science class.

    ROGER STANYARD

    Spokesman,

    British Centre for Science Education

    Rather than address the issues of dishonesty raised in our letter to the Times, the head of Truth in Science, Andy McIntosh, replied by trying to bamboozle the public with the wholly discredited hypothesis of “Intelligent design” – in particular Irreducible Complexity.

    Here is his letter, published in the Times on 7th October 2006:

    Sir, Science cannot make a statement either way on the supernatural. It is no less scientific to say that an Airbus A380 requires intelligence to design than to state that the independent wing control of the damselfly (including supination and pronation timing) shows evidence of design.

    To give the impression to students in the UK that it is somehow off limits even to discuss this (letter, Oct 3) is tantamount to brainwashing our next generation with the philosophy of humanism. All that Truth in Science wishes to see is an honest opening out of the origins debate in our schools and universities.

    That there has been such a heated response to the DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life, sent to every secondary school in the country, shows that there is an issue, there is a debate and there are obvious
    philosophical consequences.

    We need to teach our children how to think, not what to think. To suggest that design cannot be scientifically verified is nonsense. The exquisite nature of nano-mechanisms in living creatures has led to the growth of the discipline known as biomimetics, copying nature to advantage in engineering.

    I am eager that more students should work at the interface between life sciences and engineering and understand design in nature.

    ANDY C. McINTOSH
    Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory
    University of Leeds

    Which is strange because Truth in Science is on record as saying that it’s objectives are to confront people who don’t agree with its religious opinions and expose them as charlatans.

    Still, perhaps Truth in Science does understand the word charlatan. The Times also published on the same day a letter from Dr Richard Buggs:

    Sir, Truth in Science (report, Sept 29) is seeking to enable school science students to follow the evidence for and against evolution wherever it leads.

    We are committed to truthfulness and good science, and invite our critics to identify the alleged “scientific errors” of our website. Where convinced they occur, we will correct them.

    DR RICHARD BUGGS
    Scientific panel
    Truth in Science
    Tonbridge, Kent”

    Pity the truthfulness doesn’t extend to telling the word that Buggs is a religious fundamentalist and that the real aim of his organisation is proselytising and social re-engineering.

    But it’s worse than this because it appears that the fundamentalists want their religion pushed in science lessons for children as young as eight.

    Here is another letter that appeared in the Times on the same day as the letters from McIntosh and Buggs.

    Sir, The best place, possibly the only place, for creationism and other faith-associated issues to be analysed is in the theatre of science. The earlier this begins the better: in primary school preferably, secondary school certainly.

    For some reason science seems to be in fear of faith and seeks to distance itself from its religious and philosophical manifestations. It trivialises them. This is a futile position, for it permits unreasoned doctrines to prosper and encourages the untenable and discouraging view that personal belief and faith have no place in science.

    The public image of science is mostly formed from reports on the leading edge of research — the asking process — where argument, debate and disagreement are manifest. This brief and fluid research period is totally faith based, with all those working in this field having notional, speculative views of the way things are. Their researches are designed to substantiate their beliefs.

    I see no compelling reason to distinguish this “faith” from that felt in respect of religious objectives. Disputes may be every bit as heated, and based on as little “factual” evidence as some religious confrontations. Many pursue false “gods” and fall by the wayside, but never without facing their critics in the pursuit of their belief.

    It is only by constant questioning, challenging and reinterpretation in the light of new information that understanding progresses. The British Centre for Science Education should embrace this inquisitorial, correctional philosophy without fear. Science is not for the faint hearted.

    DR MIKE SNOW
    Former senior research scientist
    Medical Research Council

    We don’t know who Dr Mike Snow is but is argument is standard fundamentalist boilerplate – science is just a religion and therefore his religious opinions should be pushed onto other people’s children in the science classroom.

    So, it’s time we took up the challenge of these three individuals. I’ve opened three new sections on this web site to show up their nonsense;

    Irreducible Complexity
    Science is just religion
    Truth in Science Material

    So, if you want to show up these people for what they are, let us show how you pull to pieces all three.

    You will need to go to the Truth in Science web site to see its scientific hocus pocus. The web site is at http://www.truthinscience.org.uk.

    We have already made a start in pulling to pieces its “science”. See http://www.blackshadow.me.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScience/#Bogus

    Just as a quick guide, the following points to our comments that TiS is pushing Baraminology – http://www.blackshadow.me.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScience/#Baraminology.

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