Pharyngula

The True History of the Wedge

Here’s a fascinating glimpse of history for those involved in the creation wars: the Seattle Weekly has published scans of the original Wedge document from the Discovery Institute. Now you too can see it in it’s original cheap-ass photocopied glory, and also learn who leaked the documents…two people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

i-347f24078ffb2c6eed4b39bfdf6a522f-wedge_cover.jpg

The paper also has an account of how the Wedge was revealed. I didn’t know this part of it at all, and I have to thank Matt Duss and Tim Rhodes for casually breaking the rules of their firm (I presume!) and exposing this remarkably pompous, dishonest, contemptible document to the world.

i-fca619041aeaf695c4d240e45d68c5f8-duss_rhodes.jpg

The story begins, so far as the world at large is concerned, on a late January day seven years ago, in a mail room in a downtown Seattle office of an international human-resources firm. The mail room was also the copy center, and a part-time employee named Matt Duss was handed a document to copy. It was not at all the kind of desperately dull personnel-processing document Duss was used to feeding through the machine. For one thing, it bore the rubber-stamped warnings “TOP SECRET” and “NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION.” Its cover bore an ominous pyramidal diagram superimposed on a fuzzy reproduction of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel rendition of God the Father zapping life into Adam, all under a mysterious title: The Wedge.

Curious, Duss rifled through the 10 or so pages, eyebrows rising ever higher, then proceeded to execute his commission while reserving a copy of the treatise for himself. Within a week, he had shared his find with a friend who shared his interest in questions of evolution, ideology, and the propagation of ideas. Unlike Duss, the friend, Tim Rhodes, was technically savvy, and it took him little time to scan the document and post it to the World Wide Web, where it first appeared on Feb. 5, 1999.

The unnamed author of the document wasted no time getting down to his subject. “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Yet little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science.” Such thinkers as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and, above all, Charles Darwin promulgated a “materialistic conception of reality” that “eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and music.”

Not content with bewailing the intelligentsia’s falling away from faith, the author proposed to do something about it. “Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies,” he wrote. He went on to detail a 20-year plan to replace “materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God,” and to replace materialist science with a new scientific paradigm “consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

Also, Pim van Meurs dug up Tim Rhodes’ original announcement, and Matt Duss has a weblog.


I much prefer reading these things as pdfs, so I’ve converted it. Here you go, download your very own copy of the Wedge document (540KB pdf).

Comments

  1. #1 just john
    February 1, 2006

    I just had to relay that link to alt.slack, with the title “Victory Through Wedgies!”

  2. #2 Steve LaBonne
    February 1, 2006

    I think Messrs. Duss and Rhodes deserve an award from somebody, perhaps NCSE.

  3. #3 Matt McIrvin
    February 1, 2006

    So well was the campaign going that in 2004, some of the original antimaterialism advocates were confident enough of eventual triumph to predict in detail a complete meltdown of Darwinian science by 2025the 100th anniversary of the notorious “Monkey Trial” of 1925.

    While these guys continue to be a real danger, I have to laugh at the audacity of that statement: they score a series of political and public-relations victories, mostly in one (admittedly large and powerful) country, and conclude that by 2025 they’re going to overturn and destroy an entire field of scientific endeavor, one currently going through an explosion of legitimate research! They don’t even understand the difference between these things.

  4. #4 David Wilford
    February 1, 2006

    While an award from NCSE would be nice, I think putting a genuine first run photocopy of the now-infamous “Wedge Document” up for auction on eBay would be even better. I promise to open with a bid for $1 even.

  5. #5 Moses
    February 1, 2006

    I noticed there was a “triangle” on the cover… Are they trying to say they’re closet homosexuals and this is really about the fear, loathing and repression of their homosexuality? 😀

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic…

  6. #6 Jonathan Badger
    February 1, 2006

    While I’m certainly glad that the document was leaked, I had always assumed that it was from some internal source at the DI that was uncomfortable with the level of dishonesty (even exceeding normal DI levels). Finding out that it was some guy in a copy shop seems somewhat anti-climatic (and wouldn’t make a good movie; people love to see movies about whistleblowers inside an organization)

  7. #7 Cameron
    February 1, 2006

    They marked the document TOP SECRET. Then they sent it to the copy/mail room. Arrogant + Stupid and lazy. Awesome combination.

  8. #8 Ritchie Annand
    February 1, 2006

    There is a quote from the Wedge document there that I love, and it seems so poignant in retrospect:

    (From Phase I: Research, Writing and Publication on Strategic Plan Summary)

    Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade. (emphasis mine)

    Well, true, that 🙂

    It just seems interesting, in another way, that the authors wrote that. It almost seems as though they thought they really had something, at least at the time.

    Now that the solid scholarship and research part has descended into fuzz, are they now just relying on the ‘argument’ part to convince themselves that they’re persuading instead of indoctrinating, or has it gotten to the point where they’re frustrated with all three and don’t (or worse yet, do) realize that they’ve slipped into indoctrination mode?

  9. #9 clvrmnky
    February 1, 2006

    While I appreciate the fact that the copy-dudes allowed us to see the artifice that the DI/ID people are passing off as research, I can’t help but feel there is a sort of moral ambiguity at work here.

    I mean, isn’t there some kind of presumed ownership even when you send your private stuff to a copy shop (even so for a corporate mail room)? It’s not like any Kinko’s slave can just take your bad poetry home and laugh at it *legally*. While I’m sure it’s done all the time, but actually admitting to ripping off someone’s work, no matter how misguided (but legal) the work might be, sounds like an easy way to get yourself in legal trouble. That is, I’m pretty sure they can’t take your political screed home to laugh at and then post it on the internets for other to laugh at.

    I’m not arguing ends justifying the means, here. I’m glad these bogus arguments and plans are brought to light. But, these guys are *not* whistle-blowers. They were temp-slaves working for a corporation, with the lack of rights and privileges that entails.

    Illegal or not, doing this sort of thing feels like it’s on the far side of ethically sound.

  10. #10 Rocky
    February 1, 2006

    PZ, thanks for this info. I had read bits and pieces of the story, this really pulls the timelines together.
    In in these supposed “modern times”, it’s scary how totally politically driven radical religious agendas can almost overcome reason and common sense.

  11. #11 BronzeDog
    February 1, 2006

    Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.

    So, when is Phase I going to commence?

  12. #12 ben
    February 1, 2006
    Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.

    So, when is Phase I going to commence?

    It’s too late; they’ve already moved wholeheartedly into the “just another attempt to indoctrinate” phase.

  13. #13 Skemono
    February 1, 2006

    Sounds like the DI has a real firm grasp on what “scientific achievements” means:

    1. An active design movement in Israel, the UK, and other influential countries outside the US
    2. Ten CRSC fellows teaching at major universities
    3. Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view
    4. Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences
    5. Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory
  14. #14 Rich Blinne
    February 1, 2006

    Some things I noticed:

    1. The focus was no materialism, not evolution
    2. The order as planned was opposite of the order as executed. The plan was: a.) Do the science b.) Go to the think tanks c.) influence public policy.

    To truly understand what’s going on here you need to look at the interaction between the ID proponents and the American Scientific Affiliation, particularly Howard Van Till.

    In 1992, Philip Johnson gave a founder’s lecture at Trinity Evangelical Seminary. In it he outlined his strategy of overcoming materialism (http:///www.apologetics.org/founder3.html) — here defined as the philosophical belief that the natural world is all there is. Or to use current language ontological naturalism. Johnson failed to distinguish this from methodological naturalism advanced within the ASA by Howard Van Till. In 1992, Johnson was less dogmatic. For example,

    When I say that Darwinism gave a huge boost to atheism, I am not denying that many persons found it possible to reconcile naturalistic evolution with a belief in God. Harvard Professor Asa Gray, Darwin’s leading American supporter, was among those who gave Darwinism a theistic interpretation. Even conservative theologians like Princeton Seminary Professor Benjamin Warfield made their peace with the new theory, and I described in the first of these lectures how some contemporary Christians have given Darwinism an honored place in a system of theistic naturalism. It is possible to be a Darwinist and a Christian, if one is sufficiently determined to combine the two.

    Johnson believed that so-called creation science was destructive to the debate.

    This”creation-science” strategy has been remarkably successful at maintaining an anti-evolutionist constituency, as the Gallup poll results attest. Unfortunately, it has also confused and divided the Christian world and even played into the hands of the evolutionary naturalists. It gives the impression that the important division in public opinion about evolution is between the Biblical fundamentalists and everybody else. This is a tragic misunderstanding. The truly fundamental disagreement is not over the age of the earth or the method of creation. It is over whether we owe our existence to a purposeful Creator or a blind materialistic process. This “creation-science” strategy has been remarkably successful at maintaining an anti-evolutionist constituency, as the Gallup poll results attest. Unfortunately, it has also confused and divided the Christian world and even played into the hands of the evolutionary naturalists. It gives the impression that the important division in public opinion about evolution is between the Biblical fundamentalists and everybody else. This is a tragic misunderstanding. The truly fundamental disagreement is not over the age of the earth or the method of creation. It is over whether we owe our existence to a purposeful Creator or a blind materialistic process.

    What Johnson couldn’t get was that he just proposed a false dichotomy. When Van Till advanced methodological naturalism thus proposing Johnson’s excluded middle Johnson saw it as capitulating.

    You get further feel for it when Dembski and Van Till debated on the AAAS Doser page over Van Till’s No Free Lunch. (http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution/perspectives.shtml)

    Kenneth Miller and Micheal Behe debated in front of the ASA in 1995. Here Miller was confronted with the impression that his Biology text implied that evolution was “purposeless”. Miller noted his mistake and updated his text. The result produced fine theater in Dover as the lawyer for the defense tried to pin Miller on the pre-ASA edition of his work. What this should have taught Johnson was the so-called capitulators were successful in eliminating hard materialism from the texts(not only in Biology but also in convincing people such as Eugenie Scott to advocate revising the NABT standards in 1995).

    Johnson was disturbed over the disunity amongst the Christians (and this gets us to the modern strategy of DI).

    As a relative newcomer to the controversy over evolution, I have found two things particularly shocking. One is the dogmatism and arrogance of the scientific establishment. The other is the extraordinary amount of bad feeling on this subject within the Christian community.

    This drove his “big tent” strategy where ID aligned with YEC rather than theistic evolution. This flipped the order of the strategy from the leaked document because the YEC folk were desperate to find a way to get into the public schools first. ID until recently in the California case has not tried to distinguish themselves from YEC. There was some behind-the-scenes grumbling but by and large ID let themselves be misunderstood by YEC in the interest of “unity”.

    The ultimate irony is this. By losing in Dover, Johnson won. Why? Becuase Judge Jones stated that religion and science were not necessarily incompatible. This means that you cannot teach hard materialism ala Dawkins. Or more precisely, the so-called capitulators like myself, Howard Van Till, Ken Miller, and Keith Miller — KSU geology professor and ASA member and who went up against the Kansas School board — won.

  15. #15 Dr. Free-Ride
    February 1, 2006

    clvrmnky wrote:

    I mean, isn’t there some kind of presumed ownership even when you send your private stuff to a copy shop (even so for a corporate mail room)? It’s not like any Kinko’s slave can just take your bad poetry home and laugh at it *legally*. While I’m sure it’s done all the time, but actually admitting to ripping off someone’s work, no matter how misguided (but legal) the work might be, sounds like an easy way to get yourself in legal trouble. That is, I’m pretty sure they can’t take your political screed home to laugh at and then post it on the internets for other to laugh at.

    I’m not arguing ends justifying the means, here. I’m glad these bogus arguments and plans are brought to light. But, these guys are *not* whistle-blowers. They were temp-slaves working for a corporation, with the lack of rights and privileges that entails.

    Illegal or not, doing this sort of thing feels like it’s on the far side of ethically sound.

    Depending on the level of degradation the temp-slaves were subjected to by their corporate masters, there might be an argument to be made that they had no duties to their employers other than to make the copies, clear the paper-jams, and the like. Not knowing the specifics of their wage-slavery, I will not make that argument … I’m just throwing it out there.

    On the other side, whoever sent out this “Top Secret!” document to be copied was just not very clever. Had s/he not heard, for example, that (legal or not) drugstore photo finishers were known to keep copies of embarrassing photos in rolls brought in to be developed? Is it not an easy additional step to suspect that copy shop employees might have similar fringe benefits? And c’mon, have we seen any of the DI folks arguing against broad warrantless government wiretapping? What kind of “reasonable expectation of privacy” were they workin’ with?

  16. #16 Dr. Free-Ride
    February 1, 2006

    Hey, those 2 paragraphs after the block quote are clvrmnky’s, and should be in the block quote. Sorry about that.

  17. #17 PCashwell
    February 1, 2006

    So, when is Phase I going to commence?

    Phase one: steal underpants

    Phase two…

    Phase three: overthrow materialism!

    (/South Park)

  18. #18 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 1, 2006

    But, these guys are *not* whistle-blowers. They were temp-slaves working for a corporation, with the lack of rights and privileges that entails.

    I don’t buy it. I need to see your definition of “whistle-blower”.

  19. #19 RavenT
    February 1, 2006

    What kind of “reasonable expectation of privacy” were they workin’ with?

    IANAL, but as much of my life as I’ve pissed away watching “Law & Order” reruns, I feel I’m on fairly safe grounds to say that there is no legal principle of Kinko’s-customer confidentiality.

  20. #20 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 1, 2006

    I much prefer reading these things as pdfs, so I’ve converted it. Here you go, download your very own copy of the Wedge document (540KB pdf).

    It would be more readable and printable if page 4 were converted from landscape to portrait orientation.

  21. #21 just john
    February 1, 2006

    I’d say their grabbing copies for one’s self was a violation of trust and unethical, and I felt appropriately guilty about how much fun I had relaying the links to other people.

    But how much security does a Kinko’s customer expect? I’d hope one would be smart enough not to trust low-paid people in high-turnover positions with confidential stuff.

  22. #22 Joe Cooper
    February 1, 2006

    “The story begins, so far as the world at large is concerned, on a late January day seven years ago, in a mail room in a downtown Seattle office of an international human-resources firm. The mail room was also the copy center, and a part-time employee named Matt Duss was handed a document to copy. It was not at all the kind of desperately dull personnel-processing document Duss was used to feeding through the machine. For one thing, it bore the rubber-stamped warnings “TOP SECRET” and “NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION.” Its cover bore an ominous pyramidal diagram superimposed on a fuzzy reproduction of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel rendition of God the Father zapping life into Adam, all under a mysterious title: The Wedge.”

    It was a copy room of a corporation. I think corporate documents sent to the room would be covered by some kind of employment, implied or orvert, legal reason.

    The question I would have in this context, was the Wedge document a corporate document that would be covered under this theory,or a private enterprise by another employee of the corporation using the corporate resorsec for his personal interests.?

  23. #23 just john
    February 1, 2006

    Joe Cooper — Good point, that all bets are off if it wasn’t a corporate document. (Sorry I used the Kinko’s analogy.)

  24. #24 alex
    February 1, 2006

    One of the problems here is that the term “Top Secret” has a pretty explicit definition. Unless you work for Uncle Sam, writing it on anything means about as much as it does when a sixth-grader writes in on the front of their diary. Private companies can have the following kinds of intellectual property: patents on processes, inventions, and methods, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. There are varying levels of legal protections all of these get.

    The most our intrepid copy-lads could be charged with (civilly) is unauthorized reproduction. In order to have a case, the Discovery Institute would have to claim some sort of damages…which would be tough, because they don’t sell anything. One prominent early hacking case fell apart after the jury learned that the super-duper Enhanced 911 Dialing document the hacker had “stolen” was, at the same time, being sold by AT&T for twenty-nine dollars…

    Was it unethical to copy the document? Sure, just like it’s unethical to let another person watch the movie you rented. Anyone dumb enough to write “Top Secret” on a document and then not copy it themselves deserves to be embarrassed.

  25. #25 Great White Wonder
    February 1, 2006

    I think the odds are good that there is a mole in the Discovery Institute right now.

    In fact, I think the odds are, uh, 100%.

    And I’m looking forward to the day when the time is ripe for that mole to flip.

    Hint: the mole is not Casey Luskin.

  26. #26 Great White Wonder
    February 1, 2006

    While I appreciate the fact that the copy-dudes allowed us to see the artifice that the DI/ID people are passing off as research, I can’t help but feel there is a sort of moral ambiguity at work here.

    Get a fucking grip, loser.

  27. #27 Paul Flocken
    February 1, 2006

    It’s funny; the way the wedge was drawn on the front page it looks like the DI people were intent on explaining in their document how to split man from god with their rhetorical wedge.

  28. #28 Martin Wagner
    February 1, 2006

    Something occurs to me: shouldn’t the DI’s slogan actually be “the Center for the Removal of Science from Culture”?

  29. #29 Alon Levy
    February 1, 2006

    Get a fucking grip, loser.

    Stop flaming. At the very least, if you want to flame, do it with grace.

  30. #30 Chewbonus
    February 1, 2006

    On the ethics of whiste-blowing, I expect that all whistle blowers are in a situation where they violate expected confidentiality. That’s the point. So, yes, the copy room guy breached the DI’s expectation of confidentiality. The ethical question is whether some higher good justifies the breach. See, e.g., the Pentagon Papers; the NSA wiretap leak; etc.

    Personally, I’ve very glad they leaked it. Good on them.

    On an unrelated point: I was rereading the boxed introduction in the document itself and was startled to read that materialism’s nefarious effects can be seen in “modern approaches to … product liability.” WTF?

    What in the hell are they suggesting? That manufacturers shouldn’t be held liable for defective products? What’s the alternative? No recovery for the injured? C’mon, it’s God’s will.

  31. #31 Great White Wonder
    February 1, 2006

    Stop flaming. At the very least, if you want to flame, do it with grace.

    Sorry. I meant, “Get a grip, Church Lady.”

  32. #32 just john
    February 1, 2006

    Okay, I just got this email (which I almost unfairly ditched as spam):

    I don’t know just how this list works, so please disseminate: The document was NOT an official piece of corporate copying; the person who gave it to Duss (he swears he can’t remember who it was, but he was a partner-level) was free-lancing on his own company’s resources.

    Roger Downey
    Senior editor
    Seattle Weekly

    (It also included more contact info, which I redacted in case it might a spoof or an attempt to attract flames. Upon cursory examination of the message and the email’s header data, it looks authentic.)

    So, okay, now my understanding is a higher-up in the company asked an underling to do some unauthorized copying, using company resources. If that’s the case, I have very little problem with the underling keeping a copy for future use as opportunity presents itself.

    Perhaps the perfect response would be to refuse to do the copying (as it’s a theft of company resources,) but the real world never rewards that sort of behavior kindly. I’ve been there and learned this the hard way. Among other things, I had a guy three levels above me relay the “Good Times Virus” thing to the wide world TWICE.

  33. #33 clvrmnky
    February 1, 2006

    @Great White Wonder

    Please explain what grip I’m to get. Perhaps you might want to review the meaning of the word, “discourse”. You know, it *is* possible to discuss an issue, or a part of an issue, without taking only a violently biased stand.

    If all you have to offer is ad hominem attacks, then I have no interest in your opinion.


    It appears a lot of people have misunderstood my comments about the moral and ethical questions around this particular case (however ancient this news is). Let’s try again:

    I’m personally pleased to see bogus info like this brought to light, and obviously these guys thought they were doing the right thing. I am sympathetic to their politics.

    That’s just it: a lot of people think they are doing the right thing. I may even agree with them. Would I agree as much if some politically motivated copy-clerk leaked an internal document from some so-called progressive organization? Maybe posting internal documents regarding the activities of a family planning organization? Perhaps related to abortion (another religiously motivated and highly polarized issue that people feel very strongly about). Some might argue that this is critical, life-altering news that needs to be made public, and damn the torpedoes! If I don’t agree with them, how do I know I’m right?

    According to the story, the guy was working, part-time, as a mail-room clerk at an “international human-resources firm”. My question is, are there *any* constraints on what he could have copied for himself and put on the internet? Maybe some documentation that had Social Security information on it? Or perhaps some work history. Maybe official employee punishment or medical history? Results of a drug test?

    I mean, what if the target was a really bad person? Is it justified then? If not, why not? When is it justifiable?

    I’d argue that this company has a reasonable expectation that you will NOT take this stuff home because it belongs to them. It is their property, no matter how lame. Everything on your computer at the office belongs to your employer, if you work for someone else. The inter-office mail belongs to them. The stuff the copy-dudes touch belongs to the firm. They broke an argreement with the company because they stole company property. The “cost” of this property is not the issue, since I am not arguing from a position of what law they can be charged with (if any).

    The fact is, they took something that does not belong to them, and this is something they agreed to when they accepted the job. Hey, I don’t make these rules, but as a salaried slave I’ve been exposed to a variety of official HR documents and all have been pretty clear on this particular item. If it crosses my desk, it belongs to them. Period.

    Real whistleblowers are in the position of having to prove there is significant public good in breaking this agreement. To my memory, the burden of proof often hinges on public safety or illegal corporate behaviour that the employee wants no part of.

    We can argue the public good in this case all we want, since this is what I’m really driving at. I know people feel very strongly about the psuedo-science being fobbed off on us under the rubric “Intelligent Design.” I do, too. I’m just not sure that this particular document and this particular sad little institute satisfies the burden of “common public good”. The last I looked, it was legal and valid for anyone to start an institute and release statements, as well as maintain a body of internal documents.

    The only harm in this case (i.e., in *not* releasing these docs) is that some handy quotes are not as available. Dog help us if this stupid document is all that stands between a US that is forced to redefine science to include ID, because then proponents of real science are in a pretty shaky position.

    I’m uncomfortable with the notion that I may think this particular case is ok because I’m sympathetic to the political motivations. This is what I thought when I read this article (well, along with a healthy amount of schadenfreude in seeing someone stick it to the DI) and after review of these comments, I still feel this way.

    I mean, maybe warrantless spying on citizens by the government is ok, too. I mean, some are saying it’s ok because it is in the public good, so maybe it is.

  34. #34 Kristine
    February 1, 2006

    “Shouldn’t the DI’s slogan actually be ‘the Center for the Removal of Science from Culture’?” But then there would be no culture, either!

    Five-year plan: letter writing and teacher training. What, no labs? None of those lofty ideas from Dembski about how ID would cure cancer? Not even a bacterial flagellum to be had? I’m shocked! Shocked!

    Guess when Dembski said “we have to go back to the lab,” he meant the writing lab, huh?

    “Top Secret,” how pathetic. Do they have a secret handshake, too?

  35. #35 just john
    February 1, 2006

    clvrmnky — But the document wasn’t company business, so it wasn’t his job to copy it in the first place. It wasn’t even “Pick up my dry cleaning, okay?” which a secretary might handle.

  36. #36 clvrmnky
    February 1, 2006

    Upon reading the comment before my last, I back away from my assertion that the copy-clerk stole corporate material (if, in fact, the assertion of this doc already being a sort of samizdat memo is true).

    I still feel strongly about the ethical questions I pose, though they are less obvious to me given this new news (again, if it is accurate). Of course, we are down to a he-said, she-said situation. It is in Duss’ best interest to claim someone gave him the doc, but he can’t remember who it was, and that the doc was already well and truly released into the hands of the Brotherhood of Copyists.

  37. #37 just john
    February 1, 2006

    clvrmnky — Sounds like we’re in general agreement, including on some of the hypothetical scenarios you presented.

  38. #38 Torbjorn Larsson
    February 1, 2006

    “The ultimate irony is this. By losing in Dover, Johnson won. Why? Becuase Judge Jones stated that religion and science were not necessarily incompatible. This means that you cannot teach hard materialism ala Dawkins.”

    Interesting argument, but I can’t see why that last bit follows.

    Applying science (methodological materialism) it seems safe to say that ontological materialism is the correct theory (simplest theory currently explaining observations).

    But it shouldn’t be necessary; even the possibility puts it inside science (since it argues, somewhat tautological or rather selfconsistent, that natural observations is enough; naturally, since they are enough elsewhere 🙂 until possibly falsified by future observations.

    And religion has to back off, or at least one could “teach the controversy” to use a now wellproven sociological design pattern.

  39. #39 Torbjorn Larsson
    February 1, 2006

    Maybe this is clearer: science (methodological materialism) seems to say that ontological materialism resides inside it, according to verified observations, at least so far.

    It’s no ones fault, it’s just the way it comes out. To yank it out one are using a philosophical or religious faith argument. So it’s religion who tries to inflict the incompatibility. Judge Jones ruling can be upheld.

  40. #40 Rich
    February 1, 2006

    “The ultimate irony is this. By losing in Dover, Johnson won. Why? Becuase Judge Jones stated that religion and science were not necessarily incompatible. This means that you cannot teach hard materialism ala Dawkins.”

    Interesting argument, but I can’t see why that last bit follows.

    From Judge Jones’ conclusion:

    Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs? scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the
    scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator. [Emphasis mine.]

    Seems to me you can neither promote nor deny a creator and only teach the science. By science I mean real science and not ID made up stuff. If the teacher is an ontologica naturalist this should be easy by keeping his metaphysical conclusions to himself. If the teacher is a theistic evolutionist this should be easy by keeping his methaphysical conclusions to himself. The ID person and the YEC would have problems, though.

  41. #41 Henry Holland
    February 1, 2006

    As a secretary since 1985, I’ve no sympathy for the “mail room clerks did a bad thing” position. I’ve had to do things like

    * send a 1/4 ounce of cocaine through FedEx to my boss’s friend in Tahoe, using my name as the sender

    * gin the expense reports so that my boss could cover up the mega-expensive dinners he was treating his mistress to

    and on and on. All under the threat of being fired on the spot and having my career ruined by peasants with an MBA from Wharton. The IDiots talk about the arrogance of evilitionists, well, to me, some asshole with an MBA who thinks he’s God’s Gift just because he can write a business plan is far worse. They’re lucky I didn’t piss in their coffee first thing in the morning.

    Phew. Rant over. I liked this bit from the article, based on PZ’s occasional tussles with engineers:

    Discovery Institute fellow Minnich presented a low-key, engineer’s approach to intelligent design

    Hahaha.

  42. #42 Great White Wonder
    February 1, 2006

    chmonkey

    I mean, what if the target was a really bad person? Is it justified then? If not, why not? When is it justifiable?

    I take it back. You are a loser.

  43. #43 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 2, 2006

    I noticed there was a “triangle” on the cover…

    That means they aspire to be a deep dark consipracy like the Trilateral Commission or the Illuminati.

  44. #44 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 2, 2006

    The ultimate irony is this. By losing in Dover, Johnson won. Why? Becuase Judge Jones stated that religion and science were not necessarily incompatible. This means that you cannot teach hard materialism ala Dawkins.

    If anyone were attempting to sneak Dawkins-like naturalist philosophy in under the lie that it was actually science, and force it to be taught to public school science students, that might be relevant.

  45. #45 Harry Eagar
    February 2, 2006

    As a newspaper reporter, I’m glad that uninvolved people do copy documents and pass them along.

    It happens. Get over it. People didn’t evolve to keep secrets.

    There’s an ethical issue, but it arises with the third party (me), who gets to decide whether to further multiply whatever the information is.

    I was more interested in Chapman’s religious evolution, though. So he became a Roman Catholic in 2002. How’s that sitting with him now, given the church’s at least partial endorsement of Darwinism. (I know, professor, you HATE the word, but Dawkins uses it, among many others; and for Catholics, it’s perhaps the right word.)

    Also, how in the hell can an antimaterialist joine the Roman Catholic Church? There’s no more materialist organization on earth.

  46. #46 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 2, 2006

    Also, how in the hell can an antimaterialist joine the Roman Catholic Church? There’s no more materialist organization on earth.

    I’m not sure where you’re coming from with that, unless you’re mixing two definitions of ‘materialism’.

    The One True Holy Roman Catholic church, for example, still persists in a belief in transubstantiation; that when the priest magically waves his hands and recites the magical incantation, the bread and wine literally and magically (but not materially, that could be tested!) transform into the body and blood of Jesus H. Christ himself.

  47. #47 Aaron F.
    February 2, 2006

    That backstory sounds *really* fishy to me. What’s the evidence that the Wedge was actually written by someone in the D.I.?

  48. #48 Paul W.
    February 2, 2006

    That backstory sounds *really* fishy to me. What’s the evidence that the Wedge was actually written by someone in the D.I.?

    If I’m not mistaken, the best evidence is that the Discovery Institute doesn’t deny it; it was used as evidence in the Dover Panda Trial, and they made no attempt to say it wasn’t theirs.

    (I believe that they said it was written by some of their people, who were not necessarily representative of the organization or movement as a whole. Other evidence convinced Judge Jones and anybody with half a brain that it is quite representative of D.I. and the ID movement.)

  49. #49 Steverino
    February 2, 2006

    Well, if you firmly believe in ID then you would have to assume that the actions of these two gentleman were by Design (snicker) and therefore correct with the final outcome.

  50. #50 Torbjorn Larsson
    February 2, 2006

    “Seems to me you can neither promote nor deny a creator and only teach the science.”

    I hope you bear with me even though you have undoubtedly heard this many times before – I’m new to the subject, but eager to learn. Speculative long (is there any other kind 🙂 post to follow:

    The citation seems to presuppose that we can’t build a scientific theory. Probably because a god isn’t welldefined (no observations…) so we can’t falsify such theories.

    I’m suspicious about such proposals, they seem to me to be only based on philosophical or religious faith considerations, with no appeal to evidence.


    We know that the method of science works, but we can’t know or prescribe what it can do apriori. We must use it to see what it can/can’t explain.

    What we can do, because we now know so much about natural phenomena, is to test for anatural deviations. Simple rules that all or most systems should obey are energy conservation or known behaviour of longrange fundamental forces (gravitation & EM fields).

    To say stuff such as:

    “The naive negativist assertion, “If I cannot measure it, it does not exist,” is the logical equivalent of, “If it exists, I can measure it,” a manifestly arrogant and possibly false statement” ( http://www.dogchurch.org/scriptorium/SciFaith.htm ),

    is to have a 19th century model of science.

    Today we test falsifiable claims and accept the theory as correct when it’s overwhelmingly verified – we use induction only to suggest hypotheses.

    A phycisist demands 5-sigma confidence to accept any phenomena. So if I’m not mistaken a test should make, for example, 10^8 observations, and if < 28 of those can't be explained, the hypothesis that natural explanations is enough can be accepted. And that _is_ enough for a selfcontained theory of "ontological materialism". What we can't resolve will be noise, as usual. An idea of only occasional anatural events is irrelevant for the verification of the theory, precisely since we so far have no observations to make falsifiable scientific models of gods behaviours. "Ontological materialism" is then part of "methodological materialism", not apriori by construction, but because observations excluded that it was outside it. (In much the same manner as "methodological materialism" bootstraps itself to be observed to work. I like the symmetry.) It is of course a tall order. Perhaps one can use thermodynamic models of chemical reactions to probe energy conservation in atoms EM fields - there are millions of compounds and many more reactions? Each model should be verified a couple of times around the world. Since no one seems to have done such studies I have enjoyed myself with extracting as much knowledge I can from performed observations, of sorts. The amount of archived and scrutinised tv reports or programs from real life suggests that there could easily already be some evidence for "ontological materialism" at > 6.2 sigma.

    (With moderate assumptions on: human eye frame rate, number of test objects (for example: levitations), number of observerved and publicly analysed deviations. Observational cutoffs on local field variations will vary, but time series observations will work to our advantage here. We want to do random sampling on nature, so shows on suspected, and suspect, miracles are naturally excluded.)

    So, if this question is so old, and science has an obligation to study as much as it can, has seemingly no one tried to do experiments? Why does it seem many apriori suppose science doesn’t say anything on religion? Perhaps because I am deluded and looks like a crackpot in being. Where is my mistake in all this? Pray tell! 🙂

    (Oh, and first causes wont work, since again, we can’t do falsifiable models on gods specifically. And too, we have anyway several examples of no-first-cause cosmologies from Hawking’s no-boundary proposal to Carroll’s elegant time-symmetrical entropy-explaining proposal, and also several different abiogenesis proposals.)

  51. #51 Torbjorn Larsson
    February 2, 2006

    There was a deletion at the “less than” symbol (of course):

    “So if I’m not mistaken a test should make, for example, 10^8 observations, and if” less than 28 of those are suspects of anatural deviations (or then more probably unresolved noise), the theory that natural explanations is enough must still be accepted as the correct theory.

    “And that _is_ enough” …

  52. #52 Harry Eagar
    February 3, 2006

    BB, I meant materialist in the sense of ‘grasping materialist.’

    Catholics may or may not be eating people at Mass, but they sure as hell are raking in the gelt.

  53. #53 Paul Flocken
    February 3, 2006

    Posted by: Harry Eagar | February 3, 2006 12:02 AM
    “BB, I meant materialist in the sense of ‘grasping materialist.’

    Catholics may or may not be eating people at Mass, but they sure as hell are raking in the gelt.”

    But that is true of any religious organization. They may indeed decry materialism but there are NO religions in this country that don’t collect money. It may even be said that a religion’s first purpose is to collect money and that soul saving is only it’s second.

  54. #54 Harry Eagar
    February 3, 2006

    Not entirely correct. Check out the Christadelphians.

    If you can find any.

  55. #55 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 3, 2006

    That backstory sounds *really* fishy to me. What’s the evidence that the Wedge was actually written by someone in the D.I.?
    .
    Posted by: Aaron F. | February 2, 2006 02:08 PM

    Here you go, Mr. F., The Discovery Institute acknowledges the Wedge Document.

  56. #56 Aaron F.
    February 3, 2006

    Thanks, Mr. Bouffant! 🙂

  57. #57 Torbjorn Larsson
    February 3, 2006

    Now that was one long tirade. 🙁 Guess I needed to get that question off my chest. 🙂

    Now if I could get an understandable answer… There may be atheist blogs out there who discusses these things…

    As usual I will first take the opportunity to make some notes until next time.

    1. Energy conservation demands time to exist, which is why it’s such a basic and robust measure for natural phenomena.

    Spacetime may be emergent in some cosmologies (and eternal inflation may exhibit all cosmologies in the daughter universes) such as string cosmologies or CDT, but time is always a parameter.

    2. Observations have made science vs faith really asymmetrical.

    Even without theory the only verified and repeatable observations to date are naturals. With theory on that, naturals are the correct (simplest nonfalsified) theory to use. With no observations of “supernaturals”, no theory can be constructed on them, for example that random and low frequency “miracles” are the only such things allowed and thus has not been accounted for.

  58. #58 PZ what?
    February 4, 2006

    Why doesn’t your Wedge pdf contain: “TOP SECRET” and “NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION.” per the article?

    Do you guys like making stuff up that much? You’re funny guys!

  59. #59 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    February 4, 2006

    Why doesn’t your Wedge pdf contain: “TOP SECRET” and “NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION.” per the article?
    .
    Do you guys like making stuff up that much? You’re funny guys!

    Here’s some plausible explanations:

    1) Maybe the copy of the Wedge Document scanned by the Seattle Weekly is not the identical copy made by Duss 8 years ago.

    2) Maybe the “Top Secret” was stamped on a folder, rather than on the document itself.

    I know that PZ got his images from the Seattle Weekly site and, as he acknowledges, reassembled them into a PDF document himself. I don’t know where the Seattle Weekly got their copy of the document, so you’d have to ask them yourself.

    3) We don’t like ‘making stuff up’ half as much as those creative folks at the Discovery Institute who claim that Intelligent Design creationism is not creationism, that Intelligent Design creationism is science even though it is logically and evidentially lacking, that, despite voluminous “smoking gun” quality evidence such as the Wedge Document, Intelligent Design creationism is not all about religion, and that the clearexposure of religious motivation and goals in the Wedge Document can somehow be hand-waved away by stating that it’s a fund-raising tool.

  60. #60 Tycho
    April 16, 2006

    I’ve created a PDF of the Wedge document, and mine’s searchable! It resides at http://webpages.uah.edu/~clendet/thewedge.pdf .

  61. #61 Barney Brannen
    January 2, 2010

    To commercialise in terms of quality rather than price, and in order to differentiate accordingly, you need to watch over the canonical format of the 4 Ps marketing plan. That is, Price, Product, Place and Promotion obviously you cognize the central attributes of the product, and the price, but for place you should consider approximately the type of people who are willing to pay over 4x price of competing product whereas the cheap option may be sold where accent is on cost, your merchandise will be suited to places/distributors where the customers will be willing to pay for high-performance. Thank you for this article! I’ve just learned a certainly full news about seo advertising Attempt it!

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.