Oh, great. Nelson is at it again. You know the DI is sweating bullets when Paul Nelson emerges to state his lugubrious ‘truths’, make his unfulfilled promises, and start citing mysterious, unnamed ‘senior scientists’ with profound insights into Intelligent Design’s promising destiny. He’s kind of the Thomas Friedman of the Discovery Institute, and just as trustworthy.
He once again argues that “legal, legislative, or public policy action” aren’t “meaningful or relevant”—I agree—but it’s interesting how they trot out this same sour grapes line every time they lose, and when they win, it becomes an “important legal victory” or “at least as important, if not more important, than the Dover school district case”.
What else do we get from Nelson? Promises that there really is research going on quietly, behind the scenes, backed by the Discovery Institute.
Now, Discovery actually funds a great deal of primary research — go ahead, snicker — but those receiving the support and their specific projects have become a very quiet business indeed, and that need for secrecy may continue for a long time. So I’m not griping about DI’s failure to support scientific research. I know what’s happening safely away from the relentless gaze of the Panda’s Thumb.
I’m afraid this is not credible, especially coming from Nelson—look up the term ontogenetic depth to see what I mean. He has a reputation for promising what he never delivers, and for having a very poor understanding of what “research” actually means.
Then we get another common ploy, the ‘senior scientist,’ his name hidden to protect him from some mysterious Darwinian threat—I expect he will become a new staple of the ID crowd, much like the “Chinese scientist” followers of Phillip Johnson milked for years. I read this senior scientist’s remarks, though, and see someone who clearly knows nothing about evolutionary biology.
The problem today for Intelligent Design (ID) is not that of getting out its message. It is getting to where there is a message that justifies the proposed policy of teaching about ID along with Darwinian evolutionary theory in biology classes. The problem is the historical accident that ID came on the scene just as the problems with Darwinian evolutionary theory were becoming evident through modern biology.
Uh, “Darwinian evolutionary theory”? “Darwinian” refers to a specific subset of evolutionary theory. To quote Fisher from 1930, “Natural selection is not evolution,” and I would add, neither is Darwin the whole of evolution. This was plainly stated three score ten and six years ago, and when you find some anonymous quote cited by some creationist that muddles it up, you know the source is not competent in the field.
Now I follow the evolutionary biology literature fairly closely, and I read specifically in those disciplines of “modern biology,” developmental biology and molecular genetics, that are beginning to make major new contributions to evolutionary biology, and when this mystery man says that problems are becoming evident as a result of that work as if it is a flaw in the science, I know he’s full of it. Longstanding problems in evolution are becoming more prominent precisely because these new methods are providing avenues by which they can be addressed. This is the nature of science. At the cutting edge of research, scientists talk loudly and freely about the interesting questions…because we’re seeing ways to answer them. What kind of scientist would see a whole new discipline, evo-devo, rising up to address complex problems in gene regulation, development, and comparative molecular biology, and think that is a sign of a growing weakness in the evolutionary approach?
This researcher then lists genomics, proteomics, and cellular imaging as revolutionary new techniques and strategies that—get this—offer major potential opportunities to IDists.
This exponential growth in capabilities, combined with an increasing use by biologists of a systems biology approach, offers an extraordinary opportunity for ID to make a fresh start to address mainstream biology. ID will in fact be a viable contributor to biology if the major concepts (Irreducible Complexity and Complex Specified Information) can be shown to help biologists in their work. This has not happened yet, but biologists will welcome ID if it does happen.
Here’s another strike against the credibility of this anonymous Wise Man. Irreducible Complexity is a dead issue; it just doesn’t offer any strategies for research (it’s a negative claim that merely asserts that evolution is impossible) and it’s known to be false—ICness isn’t a barrier of any kind. Complex Specified Information is pseudo-mathematical handwaving from Dembski that has no practical application, either; try asking Dembski to calculate this quantity for anything.
Sure, biologists would leap to ID’s claims if they offered any kind of pragmatic edge in getting results. They don’t. In fact, all of the techniques and strategies this mystery man praises are being actively used by biologists, and the results are reinforcing the primacy of evolution as a conceptual framework for understanding biology.
Once again, the claims of the IDists are transparently rotten to the core. This is another example of playing to the uninformed and ignorant, their major constituency, in a way that makes anyone who knows any of the biology involved entirely aware that they’re lying their butts off. This is not the way to build an actual research base.
(via Stranger Fruit)