Pharyngula

Just say “no” to stupid surveys

I was not alone in receiving a silly survey from an ID creationist: Tara, Mike, John, and Wesley all got it, and all rejected its premise. I’m joining in the universal dismissal. If you’re curious, I’ve put the “survey” below the fold, but here’s my answer.

  1. A. Insert thumbs in ears.
  2. B. Flap hands.
  3. C. Cross eyes.
  4. D. Make loud raspberry sound.

P.S. Now the guy is whining that the “defenders of science” refuse to participate in his “scientific” survey, failing to note that our complaint is that it is not scientific in any way…and as expected, he’s turning any response into an excuse to berate his pro-science sample.

Dear recipient,

You have been contacted because you contribute to a blog which has been
identified as a “pro-science blog”. I am conducting a survey on
outsiders’ perception of intelligent design, and I would appreciate your
input. The results will be published on deleted, an independent
blog about intelligent design, and every reply will be treated as
anonymous. Please read the following carefully, and send your answer to
deleted.

For the purpose of this survey, “creationism” will be defined as “a
belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of
the universe and of all living things related in the Bible” (source:
Dictionary.com). “Evolution” will be defined as “the theory that all
modern life forms are derived from one or a few common ancestors via
descent with modification”.

Please answer the following:

On which points are intelligent design and creationism identical?

  1. A. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to have a
    particular interpretation of the Biblical creation account.
  2. B. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to accept a
    particular age of the Earth and of the universe.
  3. C. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to reject
    evolution.
  4. D. Both creationism and intelligent design identify the Christian God as
    the creator.
  5. E. Both creationism and intelligent design hold that there is an
    intelligence behind certain features of nature.
  6. F. There are no points of similarity between creationism and intelligent
    design.
  7. G. None of the above options accurately describe the relationship
    between creationism and intelligent design.

(Please check all that apply.)

What? No “H. Both are intellectually empty ideologies pushed by people ignorant of science”? I can think of lots of possible answers that tend to disparage the hucksters promoting either one.

Comments

  1. #1 Unstable Isotope
    January 29, 2006

    I think it is pretty obvious that the maker of this poll is going say “see how misled scientists are about intelligent design, it’s really science!” I hope you won’t respond.

  2. #2 Caledonian
    January 29, 2006

    Is the answer ‘E’?

    I think you *should* respond – with another survey. One question, multiple choice:

    “Which of the following are examples of structures which cannot have developed through mutation and natural selection:

    a) the bacterial flagellum
    b) the eye
    c) blood clotting proteins
    d) digestive enzymes
    e) none of the above”

  3. #3 Steve Sutton
    January 29, 2006

    I: Both creationism and intelligent design are the same thing.

    That would’ve been my choice.

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    January 29, 2006

    Look at the paragraph before the choices: they’ve stacked the deck to exclude that answer. The only kind of creationism there is is strict Biblical literalism.

  5. #5 Jamie
    January 29, 2006

    Or, which of the following is rooted in psychological child abuse:

    A) Evolutionary Theory
    B) The meaningless assertion that God created everything just as it is now, taking special care to design intelligent agents of divine love such as HIV, because Heavenly Father loves us enough to kill us for making squishing noises with each other.

  6. #6 George Atkinson
    January 29, 2006

    Lots of folks will simply ignore that fine example of origin of the specious in which a search-and-replace pass transformed a creationist tale into the paramount text on intelligent design.

  7. #7 The Dreadful Porpentine
    January 29, 2006

    Looks like the creationists are getting their cunning plans from Baldrick.

  8. #8 Jim
    January 29, 2006

    There are two rather different accounts of the creation in the Bible. The defention of creationism is totally bogus.

  9. #9 Rich
    January 29, 2006

    Awww come on – questionaires are nearly science. Peer reviewed questionaires…

  10. #10 aj
    January 29, 2006

    These tactics are never going to end as long as the ID folks can convince the public (not scientists) that their theory is legit.

    And I think they get to get away with it mainly because of the way in which they use the word intelligence. If we can somehow undermine that very concept of intelligence, maybe we can bring down their whole framework.

    omnidictum.blogspot.com

  11. #11 razib
    January 29, 2006

    i got it too. i think they just combed the SB blogroll.

  12. #12 Dr. Marco
    January 29, 2006

    The problem is not the ID guys trying to convince scientists about their views. The problem is that the non-scientific public get the impression that ID is science. I see that problem growing worse because of the poor educational system, which makes our kids vulnerable to superstition and because scientists do not have a good channel to communicate their views to the people.

    Take a look at my post in my blog

  13. #13 Monado
    January 29, 2006

    Well, I have something to cheer you up. I found a Web page (http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/staff/dave/Behe_links.html)linking to reviews of “Darwin’s Black Box.” Out of curiosity, I looked them up. There was no really favourable review. My favourite was the one quoted from (large letters) “Peter W. Atkins, Oxford University”:

    Specialists far more competent than me have analyzed the numerous and gross deficiencies in Dr. Behe’s flatulent arguments in considerable technical detail…. With hard work and even the possibility of progress dismissed, Dr Behe waves his magic wand, discards the scientific method, and launches into his philosopher?s stone of universal explanation: it was all designed. Presenting this silly, lazy, ignorant, and intellectually abominable view — essentially discarding reason and invoking that first resort of the intellectually challenged (that is, God) — he present what he thinks is the most wondrous of theories, that the only way of achieving complexity is by design. There we see Dr. Behe dangling from his petard, proclaiming his “science” of intelligent design, while not troubling to seek the regulation of that awesome monitor of scientific enterprise, peer review.

    Ah, don’t be so tactful, Dr. Atkinstell him how you really feel!

    You can read the whole thing at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/peter_atkins/behe.html

  14. #14 Inoculated Mind
    January 29, 2006

    PZ, you didn’t take notice of the begrudgingly given compliment that the hukster sent you. Your blog is a “pro-science blog”! And given that pro-science blogs are implied in the email to be outsiders to the ID movement, that further implies that ID is anti-science.

    I check my email, one downloading… and..!! Damn. Stupid Ebay update. Apparently I’m not pro-science. 🙁
    Feel free to send them my email so they know I’m pro-science, so I can reject it too. 🙂

  15. #15 bdeller
    January 29, 2006

    Well the answer to what ID is can be found in the first sentence of the letter to PZ. (Sorry for the awkward quoting, I don’t know how to use the tags so well.”)

    ” ..as a blog which has been identified as a “pro-science blog”.” So the only conclusion is an ID is “Anti-science.”

    “Pro-science” to me is like being “Pro-breathing”

  16. #16 Ben
    January 30, 2006

    Christ, what are those annoying little rodents up to now? You should report the sender’s email address for soliciting spam.

    Nice new crib, PZ. I call the top bunk.

  17. #17 BJHokanson
    January 30, 2006

    J: Both creationism and intelligent design require one to accept flying spaghetti monsterism

  18. #18 MD
    January 30, 2006

    If there are so many people willing to believe in creationism/ID and are willing to financially support an organisation that promotes such thinking then I’m all for it.
    Lets set one up now!
    After all, they do say that “A fool and his money are easily parted” and “There’s one born every minute”.

    We could all be very rich and spend the money on some proper scientific research.

  19. #19 gary
    January 30, 2006

    Here’s what’s stupid. The survey defines creationism and evolution, then asks for comparison/contrast between creationism and…intelligent design. Which is not defined. Without a defintion for ID, the answer to the question asked is indefinite by design.

    btw, I agree with Caledonian that I think the answer is E. A, B, C and D are all out because the Bible contains two conflicting creation stories; from this contradiction, a creationist, who by the definition given must accept these both as true, can derive the truth of any proposition, so one cannot be required to believe “one particular” anything, must accept evolution and many different Creators. F is untenable: no matter what it is, ID must have at least a trivisl similarity with Creationism: both have names. This leaves E or G, and E at least seems truthy.

  20. #20 Krauze
    January 30, 2006

    Manual trackback:

    “Activism and the problem with blog polls” at Telic Thoughts

  21. #21 wad of id
    January 30, 2006

    So let me get this straight:

    The results will be published on Telic Thoughts, an independent blog about intelligent design, and every reply will be treated as anonymous.

    Yet…

    Within 27 minutes, one of the respondents, Wesley Elsberry of The Austringer, had posted the contents of my letter, advising others to reply by choosing ‘G’ And within hours, other blogs had followed, including the highly popular Pharyngula. As another respondent, Tara Smith, said, ‘If you received [a mail], check out their comments before sending your answer back.’ Predictably, all of the respondents who replied either chose ‘G’ or refused to participate in the survey (as it was of course their right to do, the survey being voluntary).

    Now we can see that Krauze clearly did not think this survey was either ‘anonymous’ or ‘voluntary’. He lied. If you replied, you were pegged as a close-minded Pro-Science Darwinian defending Dogma. If you didn’t reply, you were pegged as a close-minded Pro-Science Darwinian who was worried about an “independent” ID blog poll and merely following the herd. Either way you’re a ‘sociological’ data to him. In other words:

    “A well-known problem with on-line polls is when special interest groups attempt to sway the outcome.”

    LOL

  22. #22 Dave S.
    January 30, 2006

    They forgot to define “intelligent design” in their survey on intelligent design. Although I’m certain it would be defined so that its not creationism!

    Anyway, checked out “creationism” at Dictionary.com and found a couple other entries:

    n : the literal belief in the account of creation given in the Book of Genesis; “creationism denies the theory of evolution of species”

    Hey, that quoted bit sounds an awful lot like ID.

    The (false) belief that large, innovative software designs can be completely specified in advance and then painlessly magicked out of the void by the normal efforts of a team of normally talented programmers. In fact, experience has shown repeatedly that good designs arise only from evolutionary, exploratory interaction between one (or at most a small handful of) exceptionally able designer(s) and an active user population – and that the first try at a big new idea is always wrong. Unfortunately, because these truths don’t fit the planning models beloved of management, they are generally ignored.

    Computer jargon, but much of interest here.

  23. #23 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    January 30, 2006

    They forgot to define “intelligent design” in their survey on intelligent design. Although I’m certain it would be defined so that its not creationism!

    Right. “Intelligent Design” is defined as: Deliberate strategy to misrepresent Creationist doctrine in order to circumvent existing court decisions excluding the teaching of “Creation Science” on church|state grounds.

    Using that definition, technicaly ID is not Creationism, it is a ‘wedge’ intended to open the doors of the public schools for Creationism.

    This is the flip side of being a pseudonymous Internet lurker. I don’t get gift DVDs from Dawkins, but I don’t get bogus surveys from ID rathole blogs either.

  24. #24 minimalist
    January 30, 2006

    Telic Thoughts? Hah, he’s about as independent on the issue as the Discovery Institute. Why, oh why do the creationists think they can fool anyone anymore with that old routine: “Oh, I am but a humble, independent thinker merely seeking the Truth… HAY HAVE YOU SEEN THIS DARWIN QUOTE ABOUT HOW HE THOUGHT THE EYE DIDN’T EVOLVE?”

  25. #25 John M. Price
    January 30, 2006

    Wad: The singular of data is datum. You could also use ‘data point.

    I, as others before me (and it is early here!) saw the issue of not defining ID, howevr I still have to ask – a survey of only one question? That was it? No depth?

    The IDiot needs to read Dillman. Probably needs to take a course in this type of research. Of course that assumes a fact not in evidence: the writer/pollster is intelligent and wants to increase their knowledge.

  26. #26 Keith Douglas
    January 30, 2006

    One probably shouldn’t answer such “surveys” for the same reason one shouldn’t ever answer spam. (Come to think of it, it is a form of spam, as I’m sure they want you to ultimately give your spare change to Jesus, or something.)

  27. #27 Kristine
    January 30, 2006

    Both creationism and intelligent [sic] design require the rejection of independent human thought and action in favor of our passive submission to some anthropomorphized “authority,” who “itself” submits to no authority, law, or empirical test, and could “exist” only through random chance if “it” existed at all–which it doesn’t.

  28. #28 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    January 30, 2006

    One probably shouldn’t answer such “surveys” for the same reason one shouldn’t ever answer spam.

    But then of course they’ll write up their article anyway, reproting that 100% of respondents answered that ID and Creationism have nothing to do with each other. They won’t mention that “100% of respondents” is two people.

  29. #29 BronzeDog
    January 30, 2006

    I went ahead and left a comment on that guy’s blog. Somehow, I have a feeling that I will soon have my first story of bannination.

  30. #30 aero
    January 30, 2006

    Funny answer I saw at.

    Q. If heaven exsists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

    A.Yes, I was that little voice in your head … now come eat some enchiladas.

  31. #31 BronzeDog
    January 30, 2006

    No bannination yet. Stopped posting voluntarily when he started trying to covince me that somehow mis(dis)communication problems in polls are somehow magically different from those of wordy multiple choice questions, even if they’re formatted generally the same way. Why? Because one is a test, and another is a poll, as if that had anything to do with it.

  32. #32 defender
    February 5, 2006

    Regardless of whether humanity truly evolved from blobs of jelly and monkeys, Creationists cannot prevail in the ongoing debate about our origins. Their position is fatally flawed. You see, the Creationist position fundamentally relies upon the premise that the Judeo-Christian Bible is the Word of God. If it�s not; if the Bible is just a book, then there is no Creationist position. Recently, a lawyer embarked upon a mission to become the greatest Christian on the planet. In his quest he made a profound discovery. He discovered that the Bible is unequivocally not the Word of God. His argument is compelling. After reading his thesis, I am both shocked and embarrassed that I spent my whole life as a Christian and a Creationist. And while his thesis does not invalidate the so-called theory of �Intelligent Design,� it absolutely dismantles the theory of Biblical Creationism. You can read his Thesis at http://www.InDefenseOfGod.com/

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