The Questionable Authority

Help, help, I’m being repressed!

Two recent posts over at the Discovery Institute’s Media Complaints Division blog have me ready to break out the world’s smallest violin. Their new (well, newish, anyway – it’s popped up from time to time before) argument is that they are being discriminated against. In the first of the two articles, Rob Crowther argues that “Darwinists” are trying to “censor” academic freedom in Michigan. In the second, John West starts by suggesting that “Of Pandas and People” should be the “Banned Book of the Year,” and concludes with the outrageous and insulting claim that the “ultimate goal here is to ban ideas.”

The two posts, unsurprisingly enough, are jam packed with statements that are in gross conflict with reality. I’m not going to go into those here, although there are one or two I’m considering taking a swing at later. Instead, I’m going to focus on their root claim that objecting to what they want to do in the classroom constitutes some sort of “censorship.”

Claiming that one is being censored, oppressed, or repressed has a long and honorable tradition. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it isn’t, and either way it can be really good at attracting attention – just ask Larry Flynt about that. It works because it pushes our “fair play” buttons, and plays on the inborn objection that Americans have to being told to sit down and shut up. We’ve done a reasonable, albeit imperfect, job when it comes to convincing people that censorship is bad. The DI folks are hoping to make that work for them. They want people to be saying, “Well, maybe they’re wrong, but that doesn’t mean that you can silence them.”

The problem, of course, is that they’re not being censored. Nobody is telling them to stop writing or selling books. Nobody is keeping them from writing op-eds, and nobody is keeping them from running a blog. We’re not even keeping them out of the scientific literature – the problem that they have there is that we expect them to meet the same standards as the rest of us to get their material in there. We’re not telling them that they can’t teach their stuff to their kids at home or in Church. We’re not telling them that their books can’t be put in public libraries.

What we are telling them is that they can’t teach their lies in the public school science classroom. It’s as simple as that. Censorship doesn’t come into play, because there is no universal right to have your pet “theory” advanced as science in the public school classroom. In fact, there are (or at least should be) standards that determine this. The content of the science curriculum should be based on our best understanding of science. The people best equipped to determine what our best understanding of science is are scientists.

I’ll go slightly out on a limb here, and guess that I might get accused of “elitism” for daring to suggest that everybody isn’t equally equipped to determine what constitutes “good science.” Scientists, like any number of other professionals, are specialists working in fields that require specialized knowledge. That’s not something that’s particularly unusual these days – almost everyone works in a field that requires some sort of specialized knowledge, whether the knowledge involves how to work a particular machine on an assembly line, how to perform a heart transplant, or how to conduct population viability analysis on an endangered species.

At present, the vast majority of working scientists don’t think that Intelligent Design is good science (or, for that matter, science at all). The vast majority of working scientists think that the material that the Discovery Institute folks want to teach as “evidence against” evolution is at best incorrect, and at worst a deliberate attempt to lie to students in an effort to convince them that evolution isn’t real. If the DI people want their material incorporated in public school science curricula (at least without massive objection from the scientific community), they need to convince scientists first. If they’ve convinced the scientific community, but are still being kept out of the school curriculum they might have good reason to claim censorship. Right now, they’re nowhere near that point.

Actually, if anyone has cause to complain it’s the scientific community and the proponents of good science education. We are attempting to teach the material that the vast majority of scientists believe best represents our current understanding of nature. They are doing their best to make sure that we can’t do so unless their material, which has been resoundingly rejected by the scientific community, is also incorporated into the science curriculum as science.

Let’s be clear on this. The anti-evolutionists are demanding special treatment for their fringe beliefs. Refusing to include fringe beliefs about evolution in the biology curriculum is no more censorship than a refusal to teach geocentricism would be in the astronomy curriculum. Excluding nonscientific nonsense from the science curriculum isn’t censorship. It’s just good educational practice.

Comments

  1. #1 Alann
    September 25, 2006

    Actually we are telling ID to sit down and shut up, we just can’t make them, which is why its not censorship.

    When it comes to the legal side the only thing being required is veracity. Half-truths, misrepresentations, and misconceptions cannot be presented as truth.

    I believe teaching this IDiocy even in a private school (if evolution is excluded) could be grounds for a law suit, as it could represent negligence or incompetence on behalf of the school.

  2. #2 m
    September 25, 2006

    Since 87% of the world’s population believes in religion, creationism is not a fringe belief. Since science has not proven God does not exist and has not proven that evolution due to random mutations has led to the creation of species, it is reasonable to teach ID as an alternative theory.

    It’s a mistake to teach either as fact, but it is not a mistake to teach kids that there are competing theories concerning the origin and ultimate nature of life. Then explaining those theories and whatever support for those theories exists (or lack thereof) is education. Teaching either creationism or Darwinism as fact, to the exclusion of the other, is indoctrination, not education.

    We had to endure years of indoctrination when religion was taught as fact, now we are enduring a period of indoctrination where our children are taught Darwinism as fact. Let’s teach them both as theories, which they are, and let the cards fall where they may.

  3. #3 RealityBytes
    September 25, 2006

    You hit it right on the head. The IDists are not being told that they can’t express their opinions; they are being told that they can’t teach their non-scientific, non-peer-reviewed opinions as science in public school science classes. They are too dumb to see the difference. Or, they willfully lie to rally the troops.

    Now, if they had been prevented from publishing the PIG-Ignorant Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, then they might have some grounds to claim censorship. But, they weren’t, so they don’t

    One wonders why, with all of this energy, they haven’t, uh, done any, um, science?

  4. #4 Caledonian
    September 25, 2006

    We had to endure years of indoctrination when religion was taught as fact, now we are enduring a period of indoctrination where our children are taught Darwinism as fact. Let’s teach them both as theories, which they are, and let the cards fall where they may.

    We had to endure centuries of indoctrination when various power groups taught Geocentrism as fact, now we are enduring a period of indoctrination where our children are taught Heliocentrism as fact. Let’s teach them both as theories, which they are, and let the cards fall where they may.

  5. #5 RealityBytes
    September 25, 2006

    Hey, m, roughly 30% of Americans believe in UFOs. Should we teach that, too?

  6. #6 m
    September 25, 2006

    Geez, I don’t know how one would even begin to try to prove creationism scientifically. The way it’s framed, it’s impossible, isn’t it?

  7. #7 Steviepinhead
    September 25, 2006

    m, you don’t understand the words “fact” or “theory,” and apparently have no conception of the difference between teaching current scientific knowledge in schools and NOT teaching one’s pet religion is schools AS science (the claim that whatever percent of the global populace believes the universe and humanity arose out of some kind of creation event might, of course, be appropriately taught in certain kinds of social science or non-science courses, including Anthropology, Mythology, Religious History, etc.).

    There’s a small constitutional problem with teaching religion as science fact in government-funded schools, called the Establishment Cause.

    Wise up quick, pal. Not only do you appear utterly clueless, but someone is bound to conclude “m” is the initial letter of a word that rhymes with “boron.”

  8. #8 Mike Dunford
    September 25, 2006

    Wise up quick, pal. Not only do you appear utterly clueless, but someone is bound to conclude “m” is the initial letter of a word that rhymes with “boron.”

    I realize that creation-evolution can be a touchy subject area, but I’d appreciate it if we could keep name-calling out of it as much as humanly possible.

    Thanks.

  9. #9 wright
    September 25, 2006

    m, the theory of evolution is a fact. It has been and is still being confirmed as the best explanation for the history and present diversity of life. Thousands of scientists in dozens of fields have done research and accumulated evidence for over two hundred years that supports evolution.

    ID is at present not even a theory in the sense that evolution is. It is a philosophical concept that offers no evidence and proposes no experiments that might support it. Instead, it’s proponents attempt, very unsuccessfully, to disprove the theory of evolution.

    I would say it has a place in home schooling and private schools. Even in public schools- but as philosophy, not science.

  10. #10 John Marley
    September 25, 2006

    The “just a theory” horse has been dead for years. Why do creationists keep beating it?

  11. #11 dre
    September 25, 2006

    the horse will continue to be beaten for as long as there are misinformed teenagers with a little self-righteousness to let out. there will always be new recruits as long as the stork keeps droppin’ babies in people’s houses. i say teach the scientific method in kindergarten. that should save a few of the more impressionable kids before they… get “saved”.

  12. #12 m
    September 25, 2006

    Stev,

    I understand the differences between fact and theory perfectly well, perhaps better than you do. But I also understand that we have yet to prove that any specific species was created from another by means of evolution through random mutation. There is no doubt we have proven that evolution happens, but we don’t have any proof that it has ever led to a brand new species. The gaps are a legitimate problem. We are probably right, but ignoring the gaps is like whistling in the dark.

    I don’t advocate teaching Creationism as science. You said that, I didn’t. I don’t care how you structure the courses, kids need to be told that there are several theories about the origin of humans and the nature of life. What we know from science should be taught but so should the views of 87% of the world’s population. Trot out the proof as we know it and let the people decide. Education can teach questions, it is not limited to answers.

    Should we teach that UFO’s absolutely exist? No. Should we teach it as science? No. As far as I know science has not proven they exist or don’t exist. That is what we should teach, teach them the conflicting/unexplained data. It is probably reasonable to teach that 30% of the population thinks UFOs are real, and 70% don’t, and there is no scientific proof that they exist (that I know of).

    It’s the difference between indoctrination into a set of beliefs vs educating people as to what is going on in the world, including it’s differing ideas.

    You can certainly teach them in different classes, for all I care. Call them different things, use different teachers, I don’t care.

    I think the disrespect shown to scientists who advanced theories that were in conflict with religion should not be answered with disrespect shown by scientists toward those who have other theories on subjects that are still open. Helicentrism is a closed issue. The existence of God is open, the source of life is open, the nature of consciousness is open.

    Competing theories concerning these issues should be identified during the course of an education. Otherwise, it is an indoctrination.

  13. #13 richCares
    September 25, 2006

    | I realize that creation-evolution can be a touchy
    | subject area, but I’d appreciate it if we could keep
    | name-calling out of it as much as humanly possible.

    sometimes that is very difficult, just read a few of the posts

  14. #14 Sounder
    September 25, 2006

    m:

    “I understand the differences between fact and theory perfectly well, perhaps better than you do. But I also understand that we have yet to prove that any specific species was created from another by means of evolution through random mutation. There is no doubt we have proven that evolution happens, but we don’t have any proof that it has ever led to a brand new species. The gaps are a legitimate problem. We are probably right, but ignoring the gaps is like whistling in the dark.”

    I really don’t understand how a person can find this burden of evidence to be even remotely rational. When a phenomena isn’t personally witnessed, it has to be logically deduced through evidence and induction. All evidence logically points to speciation from previous forms. We’ve witnessed every mechanism that would be necessary for such development in lab conditions: speciation, drift, selection. What possible reason would we have to not assume they apply to life before record?

    Barring the invention of time machines, we will never personally witness the development of pre-human life, much like we will never ever find a witness for any number of unwitnessed crimes. Nevertheless, “the totality of evidence” can make for a confident verdict in an unbiased court of law, and as much as creationists hate to admit it, the verdict in favor of evolution is the among most confident verdicts ever rendered in science, and it’s only getting more confident with each new discovery.

  15. #15 shiva
    September 25, 2006

    M says But I also understand that we have yet to prove that any specific species was created from another by means of evolution through random mutation.

    Actually m, going by evolutionary theory, you would not be able to prove that a horse gave rise to a cow or a hyena though RM+NS. If you did manage to prove it, it would mean that there is something seriously wrong with the ToE. In which case scientists being the smart folk they are would dump ToE and work on a new hypothesis.

  16. #16 Sounder
    September 25, 2006

    Bah, no edit feature…

    Continued from above:

    So to hell with “we didn’t witness it” and “you suspect but do you KNOW?” because it doesn’t matter. We have learned through deduction in innumerable fields, and biology will be no different.

    There is no better hypothesis, there is no better method of investigation, there is no model which has more accurately conformed to new discoveries, than evolution. If the creationists want to contribute to our undersanding of pre-human life they can put their never-ending flow of blow-hard engineers on building that damned time machine, because they sure as hell aren’t contributing anything to biology.

  17. #17 Sam
    September 25, 2006

    One point the IDist miss is that, if there ever were ANY credible evidence to support ID that wasn’t mealy-mouthed wool-pulling to suck in the overly-gullible and predisposed, it would be impossible to keep it OUT of the scientific literature.

  18. #18 JWeaver
    September 25, 2006

    Sigh, this M character likes the same tired old creationist arguements.


    “It’s the difference between indoctrination into a set of beliefs vs educating people as to what is going on in the world, including it’s differing ideas.”

    That is all well and good, but the arguement still stands that ID and Creationism are not sience, and are not now, nor should they ever be taught in the science classroom. We already teach these things in history, social studies, and religious studies classes. What you are asking for is already being done so what exactly is your point? Good job on erecting a “straw man” and knocking it down.


    “The gaps are a legitimate problem.”

    Scientists are working to fill in those gaps free from thier own personal beliefs. They use *GASP* scientific method. They make new discoveries all the time. Creationists just shovel god into the holes and claim all has been explained. See the difference? “God of the gaps,” another creationist favorite that holds no water.


    “Since science has not proven God does not exist and has not proven that evolution due to random mutations has led to the creation of species, it is reasonable to teach ID as an alternative theory.”

    This is a typical creationist parlor trick called “arguement from ignorance.” Besides that, you are playing word games. You are putting it upon science to disprove the existance of god. To my knowledge science is not attempting to answer that question. It never has and never will because god is not proveable or disproveable. I personally don’t believe in invisible people, but I do believe in dinosaurs, because I can see and touch thier remains. That is just me though, your mileage may very.

    Again, I will state that ID and Creationism ARE taught as alternate theories, but not in a science class, because they are innately unscientific theories.

    Enjoy,
    Jweaver

  19. #19 Peter
    September 25, 2006

    all of this stuff about proof…
    isn’t science about disproof?

  20. #20 m
    September 25, 2006

    jweaver,

    You need to read more carefully. I have never suggested that ID should be taught as science.

    You have also made a simple mistake of fact. It appears that in many, if not most, states in the US, ID and creationism are not taught in public schools, in any class. From personal overvation I know this is true in California, New York, and Florida. Second hand data indicates this is true in most states, but I can’t vouch for it.

    You say: To my knowledge science is not attempting to answer that question. It never has and never will because god is not proveable or disproveable.

    Yet the posters here routinely assert that it is beyond question that God does not exist. Still they represent themselves as scientists. This is what bothers me. I see the same stridency here that I see on religious sites. I don’t think that serves us, scientists, or science in general, well.

  21. #21 Peter
    September 25, 2006

    but mr. m,
    we don’t take that as a scientifically foregone conclusion of “proof” as my previous statement indicates. we understand that it is a logical inference, i.e.”the forming of a conclusion from data or premisses, either by inductive or deductive methods; reasoning from something known or assumed to something else which follows from it” (see the OED for more) that science cannot prove or disprove whether or not god exists because it is (see Heidegger if you want to talk about “is” and being) a transcendental being and therefore is not something worth dealing with in a testable world in which with what we deal in a testable way is physical and material. (sorry about the long sentence.) i assume, for the purposes of my daily life that, like Lucretius, gods and such are outside of the plane of observable reality because they have not shown themselves to be observable testable beings either because:
    1. they don’t want to be tested and are supremely successful at evading testing…
    2. we have no way of testing their absence…
    3. or they don’t exist.
    #3 is the most simple application of logic because it eliminates a bunch of extraneous possibilities subject to corruption by my imagination and bias, others’ imaginations, priests’ and politicians’ desires and assorted arguments of authority. use occam’s razor.
    religion is inherently SO subjective on either a personal or cultural level with no way of varifying its truth to another that is remotely objective.
    science and mathematics are the only remotely objective bodies of knowledge we have. not religion. not philosophy. not music. not art.
    that doesn’t pretend to say that art, music and religion are invalid. (though i do tend to think that religion is pretty ridiculous in many cases. seriously, jesus was asked his followers to become cannibals.) they help us to form our own narratives through the cosmos and subjectively, intersubjectively, socially and culturally frame the events that happen around us, to us and with us. they are important. but they are not science and it is fallacious and misleading to try to say that they are scientific.
    religion doesn’t lack profundity. but it does lack scientific and methodical rigor.
    i’m glad that science is so well-defined. it keeps idiocy out of it through rigor, testing, and training.

  22. #22 MFG
    September 25, 2006

    m,
    You wrote, “I have never suggested that ID should be taught as science.”

    Indeed you didn’t. However, you did write in your first post: “It is reasonable to teach ID as an alternative theory” and “Teaching either creationism or Darwinism as fact, to the exclusion of the other, is indoctrination, not education.”

    You seem to be advocating teaching ID/creationism and evolution as equivalent. That is what the posters here are criticizing. Evolution is science. Teaching ID as an alternative theory is not reasonable.

    Also, I don’t think jweaver said that creationism/ID is currently being taught in public schools. The issue is that proponents advocate teaching creationism/ID in public schools. Which seems to be what you are suggesting as well.

    MFG

  23. #23 Chiefley
    September 25, 2006

    Will someone tell “M” that these old canards are really tireseome. Why do we have to play whack-a-mole with him at this late hour.

    Anyway, Mike, your point about the use of the term “elitists” to refer to experts is well taken. A good analogy is medical science. Suppose you are about to have heart surgery and your doctor informs you that he is going to use a technique developed by his brother-in-law who is an accountant. You ask, “Has this technique ever been tested by other surgeons?” Being fresh out of the Discovery Institute’s School of Medicine, the doc says, “Well, you are being a bit dogmatic here. Are you going to trust your health to a bunch of elitist doctors or are you going to keep an open mind?”

    So you ask again, “But its never been tested?”. And the DI doc responds with, “Oh man, how materialistic of you!” Don’t you realize this is a whole new world of post-modernism? Empiricism is so yesterday, my friend.”

    You ask, “But hasn’t anyone written any papers on it in the medical journals?” Answer: “No, but my brother-in-law wrote a book on it. You can find it on Amazon. There is a special this week where if you buy this book, you also get a copy of the The DaVinci Code.”

  24. #24 MFG
    September 26, 2006

    m,
    I see that my hand was a bit too fast in my first post. Jweaver does say that ID and creationism are being taught (taught about, I suspect he means) in history, social studies, and religious classes. That is a matter on which I admit ignorance.

    The point remains that they are not being taught as an alternative to evolution in public-school science classes, nor should they be.

    On the basis of your first post (“Teaching either creationism or Darwinism as fact, to the exclusion of the other, is indoctrination, not education”), you seem to be advocating removing evolution from science classes as well.

    MFG

  25. #25 d
    September 26, 2006

    m, I, for one, appreciate that you are participating in this blog’s discussion. Can you suggest such a forum in the ID Web-world where we may mirror this dialog?

  26. #26 Richard Simons
    September 26, 2006

    m:

    If you know what is meant by a theory, why are you consistently misusing the word?

    You assume that because 87% of the world’s population “believes in religion” (where did that figure come from and what on earth does it mean?) therefore 87% of the population is creationist. You have no justification for making this assumption.

  27. #27 bcpmoon
    September 26, 2006

    M: “Yet the posters here routinely assert that it is beyond question that God does not exist.”

    Please, m, please give some examples where somebody here has said that god does nor exist. In all my internet years I have never read a statement like that except on atheist sites and even there you will rarely find such a statement. I rather think that you are projecting: You know that if following the evidence, there is no need for a god to exist and since you cannot accept that conclusion, you imagine others to say so.
    This is of course just my view, so again, please show us some examples of these “routine assertions”.

  28. #28 Larry Fafarman
    September 26, 2006

    (Note: http:// prefixes have been removed from links to prevent comment from bombing because of an excessive number of links)

    I think that John West was right in claiming that the Of Pandas and People book was banned — it was in fact banned from even being merely mentioned in science classrooms. However, his following statement wrongly implied that the book was banned from the school library: “While I did not favor the Dover policy, the idea that it was an affront to the First Amendment to make Of Pandas and People available to students on a voluntary basis is simply Orwellian.” Understandably, he was probably not aware that the plaintiffs expressly stated that they were not seeking “to have the book removed from the high school library.” — see http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/09/the_silliest_th.html#more

    The American Library Association, one of the co-sponsors of “Banned Books Week,” said that the event covers “challenged” books as well as banned books:

    Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called “Banned Books Week” instead of “Challenged Books Week,” since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but “merely” challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not “own” the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.

    — from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/backgroundb/background.htm#wbbw

    Also, the ALA defines “challenges” to a book as including attempts at removal from a curriculum as well as attempts at removal from a library:

    A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

    — from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/challengedbanned/challengedbanned.htm#wdcb

    Sorry to rain on your parade, but Of Pandas and People is clearly eligible for the dubious honor of being selected as a banned book of the year. However, apparently there is no special “banned book of the year” contest in Banned Books Week — the books are just ranked according to the number of times that they are challenged.

  29. #29 Darth Robo
    September 26, 2006

    Larry, you do realise your first link to the pandasthumb actually informs you why you’re talking poo?

    Kinda funny, in a way.

    And there’s nothing wrong with removal from the curriculum when there is a distinct lack of credible education to be gained from the books.

  30. #30 G. Shelley
    September 26, 2006

    A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.

    In this case though, the challenge was sucsesful, but did not result in the book being either banned or restricted, so it clearly does not fit the criteria

  31. #31 Alann
    September 26, 2006

    m,
    Your comments suggest you have some misconceptions about the facts.

    Realistic estimates place Creationism at about 30% or less in the U.S and negligable outside the U.S:

    While it is accurate somewhere around 90% of the world is religious that does not make them “Creationists”. Creationists are a subset of Christians who interpret Genesis to be in direct contradiction with evolution and in many cases geology and astro-physics. Christians represent only about 33% of the world (although about 80% of the U.S); however most Christians are not creationists. Most variations of Christianity do not oppose evolution, including Catholicism which has taken the clearest stance (because it has a cenral figure: the Pope). They consider God significant as the origin of the human soul.

    Also while evolution and supporting evidence is not and likely never will be “complete” in the strictest sense, this does not mean the “gaps” leave room for these so called alternatives. I mean philosophy is one thing, but both ID and creationism take stances that evolution is inherently wrong.

    Fact: humans and chimpanzees are 95% genetically similar, excluding inactive portions this figure rises upwards of 98%. Evolution is the only theory which is not only consistent with this fact, it predicted this kind of result before we even understood genetics.

    As for teaching creationism in schools, as far as the U.S. is concerned it represents a specific religious viewpoint and cannot be presented in public schools (government agency) in any manner which might constitute an endosement. ID is included as it is at heart creationism, and refuses to isolate itself from its creationist roots. This has never prevented teaching the history of creationism or facts about public opinion. It does prohibit teaching biased misrepresentation or outright lies: like the idea that any significant portion of scientists doubt the validity of evolution.

  32. #32 m
    September 26, 2006

    John Marley says: The “just a theory” horse has been dead for years. Why do creationists keep beating it?

    I’m not a creationist, and I don’t think it’s dead. Educate me with references, please. If I haven’t already reviewed them, I will do so.

    MFG suggests: …you seem to be advocating removing evolution from science classes as well.

    No, not at all. It should be taught in science classes.

    I’m suggesting that the things we can prove by replication be taught as fact, and things that we cannot directly confirm, but have concluded (and, therefore, that we are still guessing about to some extent – no matter how reasonable the reasoning is that leads us to that conclusion) be taught as theory.

    I have the same concern about the Big Bang and what proceeded immediately thereafter. It is beginning to be taught, and covered in the general press, as fact rather than theory. Yes, it is reasonable and fits most of what we know. But almost every theory we have ever had in astrophysics has been wrong and later revised.

    My real concern here is that this type of behavior costs us credibility. Every time the public is taught something as fact and then finds out later that it was wrong and had to be revised, the credibility of science takes a hit. Eventually, this undermines everything we do. Look at the continually changing information about food and such things as cholesterol. The public now has virtually no confidence in anything the scientific community has to say about these topics, and understandably so.

    Let’s not keep making the same mistakes. Let’s use the word theory to describe those things that can not be directly confirmed, no matter how impressed we are with our powers of inductive reasoning.

    Obviously, one aspect of human nature seems to be discomfort with the state of “unknowing” or “unresolved”. This tendency is at work in scientists too, especially young ones. What’s wrong with saying we don’t really know, but we have some really good theories?

  33. #33 m
    September 26, 2006

    Allan,

    I liked your post and am willing to let you split hairs on Creationism vs “belief in a supreme being”, although I suspect all those other religious people will turn Creationist as soon as they are confronted in the same way and to the same extent that Christians in the US have been confronted. You do realize that we are the foremost “devils” that fundamentalist Muslims are condemning – not Christians. Atheists, secular humanists, and evolutionary biologists are at the front of the line of “immoral infidels”. We have yet to really have to deal with that. (Luckily, we physicists don’t seem to be on their radar just yet).

    However, I do have one nit to pick.

    You say: As for teaching creationism in schools, as far as the U.S. is concerned it represents a specific religious viewpoint and cannot be presented in public schools (government agency) in any manner which might constitute an endosement. … This has never prevented teaching the history of creationism or facts about public opinion.

    It has prevented teaching the history of creationism. In California, where I have the most exposure, the public schools are unwilling to say anything at all about it. It is absent. I’m afraid school administrators are not capable of being, or are not willing to be, as careful in their logic as you. If it sounds like religion, they won’t mention it. I think this is just asking for trouble. Surely it can be presented without endorsement.

  34. #34 QrazyQat
    September 26, 2006

    I liked your post and am willing to let you split hairs on Creationism vs “belief in a supreme being”, although I suspect all those other religious people will turn Creationist as soon as they are confronted in the same way and to the same extent that Christians in the US have been confronted.

    It’s hardly splitting hairs to point out that your conflating all Christians with creationists is way off, and that creationists make up a minority of Christians rather than being all or nearly all as you said. And “those other religious people” are — a great many of them — Christians in the US, so you other point there is nonsense as well.

  35. #35 m
    September 26, 2006

    Qrazy,

    According to multiple sources, there are about 5.5 billion people in the world who believe in a supreme being and are, therefore, religious. Only 5% of them are in the US. My point is that I suspect most of those people will eventually make Creationist arguments. Most of them are not Christians. You don’t think those folks accept Darwinism, do you?

  36. #36 Larry Fafarman
    September 26, 2006

    Darth Robo said (September 26, 2006 11:21 AM) –
    And there’s nothing wrong with removal from the curriculum when there is a distinct lack of credible education to be gained from the books.

    That is not why the book was removed from the curriculum and you know it.

    Judge Jones banned the book from the curriculum on the grounds of a supposed violation of the establishment clause. He had no authority to ban the book on the basis of an alleged “distinct lack of credible education to be gained from the books.” There is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state.

    G. Shelley said (September 26, 2006 12:02 PM) –
    In this case though, the challenge was sucsesful, but did not result in the book being either banned or restricted, so it clearly does not fit the criteria

    Mere mention of the book was banned from science classrooms. What is the matter with you people?

  37. #37 Ric
    September 26, 2006

    Larry, as I understand, mentioning the book was not banned. Officially mentioning the book in the context of its presenting a valid alternative theory to evolution, and thereby endorsing it, was disallowed. If a student wanted to mention the book in class, then that would be fine. In that case, one would hope that a competent science teacher would mention it as well when he responded that it didn’t present any valid science or any valid alternative theory and therefore wouldn’t be officially endorsed in science class.

    See? So mentioning it was not banned.

  38. #38 AnthonyK
    September 26, 2006

    m, you are simply wrong on the “they’re all just theories” idea. Evololution is a theory, and a fact, and above all – a discovery. Nothing science has encountered in the last 150 years has cast any doubt on the idea that we, and all other living things, have evolved over billions of years from simple beginnings and through common anscestors.
    On the contrary, all our discoveries have pointed out that it is true. Think otherwise? Well, one thing that should be really exciting for creationists is that you now have a cast-iron way of disproving it.
    All someone has to do is to find a discontinuity or anomaly in the DNA sequence such as, for example, a gene we have in common with rabbits which we do not have in common with champanzees. Then that would be it – Darwin would have been shown to be wrong. And the best thing of all is – creation non-scientists would have to do nothing – the scientists would do all the work for them! You see, any scientist (or indeed any one, it’s just that scientific research is very difficult to do without a great deal of training and knowledge) who does really finds gaps or inconsistencies in evolution would win the Nobel prize and be a great hero and intellect. The fact that no one has come even close to doing so suggests that, well, it just can’t be done.
    Discuss whatever you like in non-science lessons, but do not make “scientific criticisms of the theory of evolution” part of science teaching.
    I really hope you guys don’t ever decide that there’s something wrong with the number system, because otherwise…no go on, you’d really make us laugh.
    AnthonyK

  39. #39 m
    September 26, 2006

    Anthonyk,

    All we’ve proven is a common DNA sequence. We have not proven the forcing function of change is random. It could, in fact, be due to genetic engineering done by someone or something. I don’t have any suggestions for who that might have been.

    I don’t happen to think it’s very likely. But I do recognize we have not proven otherwise.

    Prove to me the source of the mutations that have led to new species are random.

  40. #41 Peter
    September 26, 2006

    — “Judge Jones banned the book from the curriculum on the grounds of a supposed violation of the establishment clause. He had no authority to ban the book on the basis of an alleged “distinct lack of credible education to be gained from the books.” There is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state.”

    first of all, judge jones did not ban the book. second of all, the book was not banned as it was not removed from the school and it wasn’t ever formally included into a comprehensive educational program. it was merely mentioned in a statement, read by school administrators, that educational experts, plaintiffs and the judge all deemed as:
    A) non-science, B) religion, and C) bad educational policy.

    read the transcripts from the trial and judge jones’ ruling. while indeed the biggest violation of the dover school board’s statements was its miserable failure of the lemon test, it also totally failed completely to serve any reasonable educational purpose. its sole purpose was to cast doubt on the theory of evolution without providing a genuine explanation of that challenge nor the challenger’s merits.

    m,
    regarding your using words like “fact” and “theory”:
    you are bandying about terms that you are clearly don’t understand as they relate to science. creationists and iders do this often and it’s really unfortunate because it shows how little creationist tend to know about science and even its rudimentary vocabulary.

    i’ll use eugenie scott’s here (pp. 11-14 in “Evolution vs. Creationism”):
    in order of importance – theories, laws, hypotheses, facts

    facts are confirmed observations (gravity causes things to fall…light travels at 186,000 mps)

    hypotheses are statements of relationships among things. they are testable and disprovable. (if levels of lead in the bloddstream of children is inversely associated with iq scores, then children in environments with larger amounts of lead should have lower iqs.)

    laws are empirical generalizations (mendel’s law, hardy-weinberg law, newton’s inverse square law, etc.)

    theories EXPLAIN laws and facts and are therefore more important than the previous three because of their explanatory and descriptive power. everywhere else (literary theory or in conversation) we talk about theories as a “guess” or a “hunch.” but the national academy of sciences defines a scientific theory as “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can inorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses (NAS 1998:7)”

    so when you throw around fact and theory, you’re simply wrong on the matter. evolution is both a fact (descent with modification is reality and easily observable) and a theory (the incredibly descriptive and predictive theory of evolution).
    peter

  41. #42 Peter
    September 26, 2006

    m wrote:
    “All we’ve proven is a common DNA sequence. We have not proven the forcing function of change is random. It could, in fact, be due to genetic engineering done by someone or something. I don’t have any suggestions for who that might have been.”

    why even bother with this “someone or something” when all that we have is a hunch or guess in this matter that is really just an inherited meme from a previous generation about some invisible magical guy? occam’s razor says throw it out? who engineered the engineer of our dna then and then that engineer’s engineer and then that engineer’s engineer ad infinitum?

    how do we test for that?

    we don’t. it’s worthless.

  42. #43 MRoss
    September 26, 2006

    M said :Prove to me the source of the mutations that have led to new species are random.

    Hell, I’m a friggin’ bean counter (corporate-speak for accountant) and I know that one! They’re not random! Certain proteins/chemicals are naturally attracted to each other and hence they come together to form new ones. I didn’t think it was that difficult to conceptualize!

  43. #44 mark
    September 26, 2006

    Perhaps m can clear things up a bit by explaining just what the “alternative theory” of ID (“it is reasonable to teach ID as an alternative theory”) is, and what it explains. If he can do that, he may wish to send a copy to the Discovery Institute, because nobody in that nest of anti-evolutionists seems able to explain it.
    It would appear that too many Americans have learned about the scientific method from watching Giligan’s Island, where The Professor would often say, “I have a theory…”
    m may also do a literature search (or a Panda’s Thumb search) to find articles describing observed evolution of new species.

  44. #45 m
    September 26, 2006

    I’m not sure it’s useless, but it might be, at least from the standpoint of those of us who are trying to explain nature in provable ways.

    However, from the standpoint of bolstering or protecting our credibility, it doesn’t seem useless to acknowledge the limitations of what we can test. I don’t see the problem of acknowledging that some things are our best guess and some things we have confirmed. If, or when, we have to tweak things later, we don’t lose credibility with the public and we don’t fuel critics.

  45. #46 m
    September 26, 2006

    mark,

    I will indeed check out Panda articles concerning observed evolution of new species. Thanks.

    MRoss, and how do you know they come together randomly? Also, is the mutual attraction random, or is that “natural attraction” itself potential evidence of some “design”? I don’t mean to just debate it, I’m interested in a real answer.

  46. #47 MRoss
    September 26, 2006

    m – Like I said, I’m not a biologist so I’m not the one to get into a discussion about the workings of organic chemistry. I’m sure there’s a lot of other folks on this site that could explain much better than I understand it. As far as evidence of design goes, I think it’s better evidence of evolution. It’s more intuitive to me to follow the tracks of evolution from point A to B than to say it was “designed” that way. That allows me to better understand going from point B to C.

  47. #48 MarkP
    September 26, 2006

    To reason as M does, one would conclude that since we cannot track the exact path of every single Xmas present from the store, through the hands of the giftgivers, to its final resting place under the Xmas tree on Xmas morning, we would be merely “guessing” that this is where they all come from, and it would be deemed reasonable to decide that a few really came from Santa. We would also conclude that the theory that the sun exists is more guessing because we can’t replicate it.

    M, if you are really concerned with scientific credibility in the face of changes in theories over time, you could start by dropping the absolute categories of right and wrong you are using. Once one starts looking at certainties on a continuous scale (a little for the existence of alien life, a lot for global warming, a ton for evolution, near certainty for gravity, etc.), the credibility problem evaporates. We can all understand improving something over time. I highly recommend an old piece by Asimov called “The Relativity of Wrong” for the best explanation of this view I’ve seen.

    However, the issue I think is getting short shrift here is the ridiculous notion that it makes any sense at all to “teach the controversy and let the children make up their minds”. These are KIDS for Christ sakes! They don’t have the tools to make these sorts of evaluations. There is a reason we have PhDs in labs working their ass off. Figuring out reality is damned hard.

    Worse yet, if you think about how kids would go about doing that (far more likely via casual musing, rather than doing actual science) it’s clear that the lesson we would teach them is exactly what we DON’T want. They would develop the intellectual habit of basically believing what they want based on casual analysis and cherry picking. Or worse yet, being told “some people believe this and some people believe that”, they could easily conclude that reality is whatever we want it to be. In an untrained mind, the epistemological leap from “I have the right to believe anything I want” to “Anything I want is right” is a small one indeed. Teenagers already have an overblown notion of their own knowledge and ability to figure out the world, the last thing we need to do is encourage that.

    Part of an education is learning that 1) the universe is objective and knowable and 2) some people know things you don’t and that some of your cherished notions are worth a bucket of spit, however much you may wish it were otherwise. Perhaps it is no coincidence that this unintendeed (I hope) result of the IDer’s agenda would engrain in children precisely the same intellectual flaw that led the IDers to their ill-informed opinions in the first place.

  48. #49 Jweaver
    September 26, 2006

    I indeed did make the claim that “the controversy” is being taught. I can think of a highschool class in my home town in which all the students read the paper, and then discuss the stories in it. I took it myself, and this is exactly the kind of thing we talked about. Now I don’t have proof of this, but if I were a betting man I would guess there are many classes all over the country like it. Additionally I have read stories about colleges adding this subject to thier curriculum. The ID camp flipped out because it was being taught in a social sciences class instead of biology. It is being taught. I am fine with that, and I think everyone else is as well. Everyone but the CRC people, who are acting like a bunch of crybabies over it.

    Also, we need to drop the “XX% of the population” arguement. It is not worth discussing. That is another logical fallacy called “the appeal to popularity.” Let me give another example of it:

    50% of the population are smokers so it can’t be bad for you.

    The amount of people that believe something has no bearing on whether it is fact. See the faulty logic used by Creationists M?. These are the people you are defending. The thing I find the most offensive is that they do it intentionally to mislead people. They have no data to work with, so they give us parlor tricks and word play. Its all semantic games with the DI.

  49. #50 Larry Fafarman
    September 26, 2006

    Peter said (September 26, 2006 03:56 PM) –

    judge jones did not ban the book.

    Wrong. The Dover opinion said, “Defendants are permanently enjoined from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District.” Since the “ID Policy” included mention of the book, banning the statement from Dover classrooms banned the book from official mention in Dover classrooms.

    Also, the judgment was highly critical of the book and therefore severely damaged the book’s reputation; despite this fact, the publisher’s motion to intervene in the case was incredibly denied.

    it was merely mentioned in a statement, read by school administrators, that educational experts, plaintiffs and the judge all deemed as: A) non-science, B) religion, and C) bad educational policy.

    As I said, there is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state, so Judge Jones had no authority to ban the ID statement as “non-science” and “bad educational policy.” If he had such authority, he could just as easily ban the string theory of physics. Some prominent scientists — including Nobel laureates — have said of string theory, “string theory is the first science in hundreds of years to be pursued in pre-Baconian fashion, without any adequate experimental guidance”; “there ain’t no experiment that could be done nor is there any observation that could be made that would say, `You guys are wrong.’ The theory is safe, permanently safe”; “String theory [is] yet to have any real successes in explaining or predicting anything measurable”; and “Not Even Wrong”. See footnote No. 7 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory#Footnotes

    However, string theory, unlike ID, gets a free ride because it has no religious connotations.

  50. #51 Jweaver
    September 26, 2006

    Larry,

    The book was banned from THE SCIENCE CLASS along with any lesson that would direct students to it. That is all. Read that quote you posted again. It says nothing about the library, it just says classroom.

    Additionally you seem to be trying to distract us from the fact that it was also deemed to be religion, which is the real issue. The fact that he mentioned it as bad educational policy or non-science is irrelavant. ID is religion, thus it can not be taught in public schools.

    And lastly, I highly doubt you can name one highschool science class that teaches String theory! String theory gets no such free ride because it is not taught at that level is it now? You are compairing apples to oranges. Sorry but apples are apples and oranges are oranges. String theory and ID are not in any way the same. The situation surrounding them is not the same.

    So because there is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state, ID should be taught? Is that your point? I am having a hard time understanding where you are going with this…

  51. #52 Anthony Kerr
    September 26, 2006

    m – huge problems here. Somehow scientists (only because they are, um, experts in science), are expected to explain absolutely everything because they (well, almost me)reject stuff which they know isn’t true.
    We don’t know everything. But we, unlike you religious evolution skeptics, are prepared to say we don’t know and that we’re trying to find out.
    Your television works because the people who manufactured your TV relied on the work of scientists who told them how electrons work, and how magnetism works, and how the atomic theory (damn, that word again) works, and through all of them – your TV works. Ever seen an electron? Think they exist?
    Sorry, but you are simply another christian apologist who believes that their place in heaven is to be secured by challenging people whose work and experience you simply do not understand, mashed as your brains are by your singlemininded devotion to christ.
    The people who contribute to this blog are of 2 types: one, people like me who want to know how the world really is, and the other, people like you. The difference is: you know jack shit about what you’re talking about (reminder – here, science) and the experts. I am trying to become one of the latter.
    You aren’t here to learn from experts. I am.
    AnthonyK

  52. #53 Jweaver
    September 26, 2006

    Let me amend my first sentence:

    The book was banned from being taught along with any lesson that would direct students to it. It simply can not be taught as valid science, not because it is not valid science(which by the way it is not,) but because it is clearly religion.

  53. #54 MFG
    September 26, 2006

    The notion that anything not confirmed by replication is a “best guess” would eliminate much if not most of what we know about the world. (“I’m suggesting that the things we can prove by replication be taught as fact, and things that we cannot directly confirm . . . be taught as theory,” writes m in one post. “I don’t see the problem of acknowledging that some things are our best guess and some things we have confirmed,” m writes in another.)

    In the world of m, heliocentrism couldn’t have been considered fact until stellar parallax was observed in 1838, and even now we can’t be absolutely sure because the observation of stellar parallax requires making inferences about our instruments and whether what they are showing us actually reflects reality.

    For that matter, in such a world, my knowledge that China exists can only be a “best guess,” since I’ve never been there myself. In fact, I have nearly absolute confidence that China exists because I’ve read books and seen news reports about it, and I have friends who’ve been there. All of that, at bottom, however, is technically inferential. But to believe that China does not exist in the face of so many powerful lines of evidence would be nothing less than perverse.

    The lines of evidence for evolution are so many and so strong, from laboratory experiments with fruit flies to cladistics to patterns of adaptation around the world to the presence of intermediate forms in the fossil record to the fact of extinction, to name just a few, that it becomes perverse to deny evolution itself the status of fact, with the caveat that, sure, reality could be some kind of profound illusion, so that even though life on earth overwhelming appears to have evolved from a common ancestry, it actually is something else entirely. But one could say the same thing of heliocentrism, or China, or the fact that the earth is an oblate spheroid.

    As G. G. Simpson once remarked (and this is from memory, so I won’t use quotes), we can’t prove that we weren’t created thirty seconds ago with all our memories intact, but at some point we have to assume that the universe is sane.

    Knowledge in that sense is ultimately provisional. The distinction between “things we can prove by replication” and “things that we cannot directly confirm” is artificial. Knowledge lies on a spectrum, from what we can assent to with the highest possible confidence (that evolution has occurred, which is to be distinguished from theories about its primary creative force: natural selection or genetic drift or whatever) to matters about which we can only make a best guess (there’s a chance of rain, maybe I should take my umbrella).

    Those attracted to ID and creationism, I think, are really looking for the kind of subjective certainty that only comes with faith. They’ll never be comfortable with anything less.

    Meanwhile, they’ll come up with coy talking points like that of distinguishing the so-called replicable from the so-called unconfirmed.

    MFG

  54. #55 Larry Fafarman
    September 26, 2006

    Jweaver said (September 26, 2006 07:37 PM) —
    The book was banned from THE SCIENCE CLASS along with any lesson that would direct students to it. That is all. Read that quote you posted again. It says nothing about the library, it just says classroom.

    The book was BANNED. How or where it was banned is another question.

    And lastly, I highly doubt you can name one high school science class that teaches String theory!

    Probably more than one high school physics class mentions string theory! But if ID cannot be mentioned because supposedly it is not science, then maybe mention of string theory should not be allowed, either.

    So because there is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state, ID should be taught? Is that your point?

    No — my point is that the courts are not authorized to ban it from science classrooms on the grounds that it is bogus science.

  55. #56 Jweaver
    September 26, 2006

    Larry,

    You are avoiding the main issue. It was NOT banned for the reasons you are highlighting. It was banned because it was found to be religious in nature. The rest is totally irrelavant. You are building a strawman, and I do not appreciate it. I don’t think it is funny or cute. I do not think the ends justify the means in your little anti-evolution crusade. You are doing yourself and everyone else a huge disservice. What you are doing is no different than lying. Let me restate what is painfully obvious to the rest of us:

    THE BOOK HAS BEEN BANNED, NOT BECAUSE IT WAS BAD SCIENCE, BUT BECAUSE IT WAS RELIGIOUS IN NATURE, AND CAN NOT BE TAUGHT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AS SUCH

    Stop obfuscating the real issue, which is that ID is religious in nature, and has no place in public schools.

    Personally I could not care less whether String Theory is taught in science class. To my knowledge it has yet to contribute anything of real value(unlike evolution, which has contributed in more ways than you or I can count.) When it does I will probably think differently.

  56. #57 Chris Noble
    September 27, 2006

    Somebody with the moniker EndScientificCensorship added “Of Pandas and People” to the list of banned books on Wikipedia.

    en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_banned_books&diff=78021555&oldid=78003164

    Somebody with the moniker Dodgingcars then censored the text explaining that the book had not been banned at all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_banned_books&diff=78035416&oldid=78033749

  57. #58 Larry Fafarman
    September 27, 2006

    Jweaver said ( September 26, 2006 09:53 PM ) –

    THE BOOK HAS BEEN BANNED, NOT BECAUSE IT WAS BAD SCIENCE, BUT BECAUSE IT WAS RELIGIOUS IN NATURE, AND CAN NOT BE TAUGHT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AS SUCH

    The book was not being “taught” — it was being merely mentioned. That can make a big difference to the courts. Under the “political insider-outsider” principle of the judicial “endorsement test,” mention of the book could be allowed in order to reduce offense to those whose beliefs conflict with the teaching of evolution, even if the book is ruled to be both religious and unscientific. This accommodation of their religious beliefs makes them feel less like “political outsiders.” In the Selman v. Cobb County case, the judge, in deciding that the textbook stickers passed the purpose prong of the “Lemon test,” said, “….by presenting evolution in a manner that is not unnecessarily hostile, the sticker reduces offense to students and parents whose beliefs may conflict with the teaching of evolution” (the judge ruled against the stickers anyway). This “political insider-outsider” principle is discussed on pages 3-4 of attorney Edward Sisson’s open letter on the Selman case — see http://www.uncommondescent.com/documentation/Sisson_on_Cobb.pdf

  58. #59 Larry Fafarman
    September 27, 2006

    Chris Noble said (September 27, 2006 01:44 AM) –

    Somebody with the moniker EndScientificCensorship added “Of Pandas and People” to the list of banned books on Wikipedia. …….Somebody with the moniker Dodgingcars then censored the text explaining that the book had not been banned at all.

    It looks like there is an editing war going on in the Wikipedia article titled “List of banned books.” The Pandas book was BANNED. Can y’all dig it? Do I have to spell it out? OK, here it is: B-A-N-N-E-D. It was BANNED by court order from being merely mentioned — let alone being taught — in the Dover curriculum. Furthermore, the banned book list in Wikipedia is partly based on the standards of the American Library Association, and those standards expressly apply to curricula as well as libraries:

    A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. The positive message of Banned Books Week: Free People Read Freely is that due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

    – from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/challengedbanned/challengedbanned.htm#wdcb

    I mean, this one wasn’t even close. Sheeesh.

  59. #60 Darth Robo
    September 27, 2006

    Larry said: “That is not why the book was removed from the curriculum and you know it.

    Judge Jones banned the book from the curriculum on the grounds of a supposed violation of the establishment clause.”

    Larry, the newer version of ‘Of Pandas And People’ WAS found to be a rehash of the older version which instead of the term ‘Intelligent Design Proponent’ used ‘Creationist’. Surely you remember ‘cdesign proponentsists’? The book was a creationist book and you know it. Stop talking BS.

    “He had no authority to ban the book on the basis of an alleged “distinct lack of credible education to be gained from the books.” There is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state.”

    Ahh, your favourite line. Assuming you are right, you think it’s a good idea to teach bogus science in a science class? Geocentrism? Flat-Earthism? Astrologyism? (Lack of) Intelligent Designism?

    It would be kinda DUMB to teach bogus science in a science class, no?

  60. #61 Darth Robo
    September 27, 2006

    “he could just as easily ban the string theory of physics.”

    No, because if there is any dispute, it’s still up for debate among the scientists. And since when is string theory taught in your average school classroom? To kids? It’s obvious that YOU know nothing about string theory. Remember that YOUR ignorance of science is no justification to keep scientific concepts from being taught.

    “But if ID cannot be mentioned because supposedly it is not science, then maybe mention of string theory should not be allowed, either.”

    Sure it can be mentioned. Just not as a viable scientific alternative. Just because string theory may be in it’s early stages and MAY proved wrong later, doesn’t mean it’s not scientific. Hell, geocentrism was scientific until it was disproved.

    “However, string theory, unlike ID, gets a free ride because it has no religious connotations.”

    See? Now your getting it. :-)

    (And, dude. You should know better than to link to uncommondescent for your supposed evidence.)

  61. #62 Alann
    September 27, 2006

    Try reviewing the statement over at wikipedia under background on the trial:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

    The nature of the statement immediately denigrates evolution from its true standing as well established scientific theory to the more popular use of the word theory which is scientifically only a hypothesis. It includes the misrepresentation that a theory might eventually be raised to a higher more proven status. In scientific terms a theory is a far as some things can ever possibly go (see theory of gravity, atomic theory, etc).

    It elevates ID to a form of parity with evolution as a competing if less accepted theory (here using the popular non-scientific sense) implying something equivalent to a 70/30 or 80/20 split. In reality its closer to 99/1 if not 100/0.

    Up to here alone the statement is in violation of the establishment clause Panda’s is just icing on the cake. This book is filled with mistakes, misconceptions and lies. It was written for the sole purpose of bolstering a creationist viewpoint. It takes either a religious zealot or an ignorant fool to try to pass this garbage off as “reference material”. While we are not safe from fools, fortunately we have some protection against those zealots.

  62. #63 Jweaver
    September 27, 2006

    The book was not being “taught” — it was being merely mentioned.

    The statement mentioning the book was found, in a court of law, to be endorsement of religion. Can ya did it? No I guess not. When in a classroom is a teacher not teaching? When? When the teacher is in the classroom everything they say and do is considered teaching. Simply “mentioning” the book is endorsement, or so the Judge Jones ruled. The real issue that you can’t deal with, is that the book is religion, and you have no way around that simple fact. Try and distract everyone from that fact as much as you want, I think we all see through it.

  63. #64 C.W
    September 30, 2006

    “The ‘just a theory’ horse has been dead for years. Why do creationists keep beating it?”

    This reminds me of a dialogue from one of the old Frankenstein movies (quoted from memory).

    dr Frankenstein (pointing at the heap of stiched together body parts on the table): “So, doctor, would you say it is dead?”
    dr Someone (briefly examining the soon-to-be monster): “Yes. Yes, it is dead”
    dr Frankenstein: “Wrong! It’s not dead because it was never alive!” (manical laughter)