Pharyngula

Here’s an interesting review of the movie that gets Carroll’s perspective on it. It mostly gets it right, especially in its argument that this movie is an attempt to swiftboat science.

“If you have a losing hand, you’re going to use every amount of rhetoric you can to distract people from the fact that you don’t have any facts,” Sean B. Carroll, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me in his lab last week. “And that’s what ‘Expelled’ is all about.”

Carroll is little too generous here…

Carroll had similar advice for today’s biologists: “The biology community will tell you that understanding genetics and evolution is fundamental to being a literate biologist. … Do you want your kids to be taught by people who are living in the 18th century? I don’t think so. They have a right to think these things or believe these things, but they have an obligation to be technically competent.”

18th century? Hah! In my recent debate with Angus Menuge (I keep meaning to write it up, but every time I recall that evening I fall asleep), I pointed out that one of the goals of the ID movement was to redefine science; he agreed, but said that what they wanted to do was restore the true meaning of science, to that of … Aristotle. I had to reply that apparently, then, they wanted to roll back progress by 25 centuries.

I do have to disagree with this bit in the review, though:

The movie also prods several interviewees who happen to be outspoken atheists – such as biologists Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers as well as philosopher Daniel Dennett – to indulge in some metaphysical speculation that goes beyond the biology (thus demonizing them for the movie’s core audience). The perspective from respected scientists who happen to be religious (for example, Francis Collins and Ken Miller) is largely lacking, although physicist-turned-priest John Polkinghorne is a welcome exception to the rule.

The result is that the film casts the debate largely along the false battle lines of science vs. religion. That rhetorical approach ironically builds up the very wall Ben Stein says he wants to tear down.

We were not indulging in metaphysical speculation — we were actually addressing the stated purpose of our interviews, which we were told were specifically about the intersection of science and religion, not about the scientific validity of intelligent design. We would have given very different interviews if we’d been asked about ID; that’s a subject both of us can discuss at length without mentioning religion at all, as the primary objection to it is that it isn’t science, and good science refutes it. It’s a little annoying to be constantly told that we were straying from the central premise of this movie, when we were actually doing our best to address the subject of the nonexistent movie for which we were told we were being interviewed.

But as for that last bit, the line separating science and religion is not a false one. That is ultimately the actual, central source of the conflict: how are you going to figure out how the world works, from inquiry into natural causes, or from metaphysics, superstition, and evidence-free revelation? That is a significant piece, even the central piece, of this long-running argument in our culture.

Comments

  1. #1 Cameron
    April 30, 2008
  2. #2 Latina Amor
    April 30, 2008

    I’ve wondered where all the other biologists and physicist, anthropologists, palentologists, etc, etc..are when it comes to supporting you and Dawkins with loud condemnation of this movie and religion in general?

    Is it the fact that approximately half of these PhDs have an excuse or patsy? Yes, they work at religious colleges and universities where they would “bite the hand that feeds them.” Since the founding of William and Mary, religion has divided and conquered education. It’s called censorship, it’s called corruption, it’s called lying and the church is the ringmaster. Fiat lux!

  3. #3 wazza
    April 30, 2008

    Latina: I’d say another bit is that most of the biologists just want to get on with their work. Most of them have hobbies like golf or fishing, that hardly ever involve death threats…

    Only two or three spokespeople have to actually deal with this stuff. They then become the go-to guys for these questions. PZ does this in his spare time, and so to a large extent does Dawkins, though he’s now famous enough that he can write books like The God Delusion and make money off them. Most biologists stick to straight science and don’t bother dealing with this. If you asked them, they might say they’re happy that someone in the community is dealing with it and thus letting them get on with their work. And they still sign up for things like the Steve project. They care, but they have more important things to do.

  4. #4 Zeno
    April 30, 2008

    Scientists are just about as acculturated as anyone else. Even though they may have the intellectual tools with which to unburden themselves from superstition, it is often uncomfortable or inconvenient to do so too thoroughly. In a God-ridden society, it’s much easier to pull one’s punches than to be categorized as a militant and intolerant unbeliever. (Atheists are always intolerant, you know. People who have never read the books of Dawkins nevertheless “know” that he is obstreperously intolerant because he directly contradicts religion.)

    Most people have families full of believers, too. In my thoroughly religious family, God’s existence is a fundamental assumption. To have no need of that hypothesis is to be the enemy of society. Scientists are especially suspect because they disdain the miraculous (at least in the practice of their professions if not always on Sundays). My father routinely fulminates about the hubris of scientists in daring to explain things without resorting to divine intervention. He blew his stack when the American Museum of Natural History produced a video titled Understanding the Universe for use in schools. How dare they! Only God, you see, understands his own creation! (This was one of Dad’s rants during my most recent Christmas at home. It was a merrily irrational time.) My family, for one, would not even countenance Stephen Jay Gould’s attempt to call a truce with his non-overlapping magisteria. After all, they “know” the line of separation is merely to protect scientists’ delicate sensibilities from having to properly acknowledge God. It sure irritates the believers to hear that God is the unnecessary hypothesis, and lots of scientists are disinclined to rub it in (or even face it themselves).

  5. #5 Mystyk
    April 30, 2008

    From the original story:

    The movie also prods several interviewees who happen to be outspoken atheists – such as biologists Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers as well as philosopher Daniel Dennett – to indulge in some metaphysical speculation that goes beyond the biology (thus demonizing them for the movie’s core audience).

    And PZ’s Response:

    We were not indulging in metaphysical speculation — we were actually addressing the stated purpose of our interviews, which we were told were specifically about the intersection of science and religion, not about the scientific validity of intelligent design.

    I didn’t read this to imply that it was saying the interviewees were indulging in “metaphysical speculation,” but rather the producers. (Notice the carefully-placed hyphens. It’s an explanation. If you connect the grammar sequence it reads “The Movie also prods several interviewees … to indulge in some metaphysical speculation…)

    This is explaining the movie’s attempt to connect evolution to atheism – hence the absence of religious evolutionists in the film.

  6. Yes, there was another group who were expelled from Expelled: scientsts who were contacted by the producers for the movie but proved to be too outspoken in saying that faith in religion and knowledge in science don’t contradict each other.

  7. #7 Chris Bell
    April 30, 2008

    But as for that last bit, the line separating science and religion is not a false one. That is ultimately the actual, central source of the conflict: how are you going to figure out how the world works, from inquiry into natural causes, or from metaphysics, superstition, and evidence-free revelation? That is a significant piece, even the central piece, of this long-running argument in our culture.

    Well said. That’s the fight, and the source of many problems. Science, we can all agree, produces answers about the world that (if accepted) would contradict many religious answers. Atheists argue that we should accept those answers as the true ones. At the least we should all agree that the scientific answers are vastly superior to religious ones.

    The religious people hear this–they hear this coming from atheists who are often scientists–and they blame science. It’s not clear to me whether they blame science because they think it is insisting on its own truth or whether they blame science for even suggesting possible alternatives, but blame it they do.

    And thus we get religion vs. science instead of the religion vs. atheism we deserve. Don’t teach the kids evilution!

  8. There’s a quote that goes something like this: “When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law.
    When both are against you, attack the plaintiff.” – R.Rinkle

    Or, as I heard it, “…pound on the table.”

  9. Some say, “If both are against you, pound the table and cry for justice.”

    This might be the original:
    “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.” – quoted by an Illinois native, Carl Sandburg, in The People, Yes (1936)

  10. #10 gerald spezio
    April 30, 2008

    Sean Carroll advises; “If you have a losing hand, you’re going to use every amount of rhetoric you can to distract people from the fact that you don’t have any facts …”

    This is a shining principle of arguing like a lawyer.

    Ben is a lawyer & law professor

    And framing “science.”

    And the very heart of public relations.

    When dancing lawyerman Johnny Cochran tells the O. J. Simpson jury that Nicolle Brown Simpson was a coke whore and the COLUMBIAN NECKLACE (cutting a coke whore’s throat) is designed to teach coke whores a lesson, he is skillfully practicing his profession.

    Johnny & Ben are advocates.

    And; “All theories are not only permitted but required.”

    Yuppie professionals have a right to practice what they have learned.

    The jury can believe or not believe that an enraged unpaid coke dealer cut Nicolle’s throat.

    Or racist space aliens done it?

    Or that the Lord Jesus abandoned Nicolle because she “was a coke whore.”

    Or the weapons of mass destruction are under the bed.

    Or accusing Ben Stein of pushing Holocaust studies & Eretz Israel at a time when Israel is madly pushing to bomb & murder the innocent Iranian people is more horrible anti-Semitism actionable-at-law.
    http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10192

    We have free choice in Supernation.

  11. #11 gerald spezio
    April 30, 2008

    Carl Sandberg wrote in 1939.

    The Lawyers Know Too Much

    The lawyers, Bob, know too much.
    They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
    They know it all, what a dead hand wrote,
    A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
    The bones of the fingers a thin white ash.
    The lawyers know
    a dead man’s thought too well.

    In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
    Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
    Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,
    Too many doors to go in and out of.

    When the lawyers are through
    What is there left, Bob?
    Can a mouse nibble at it
    And find enough to fasten a tooth in?

    Why is there always a secret singing
    When a lawyer cashes in?
    Why does a hearse horse snicker
    Hauling a lawyer away?

    The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.
    The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
    The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
    The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
    Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
    Build a house no wind blows over.
    The lawyers–tell me why a hearse horse snickers
    hauling a lawyer’s bones.

    – Carl Sandburg

  12. #12 Tom M
    April 30, 2008

    Whatever you were saying,gerald. you might want to see “Autopsy with Dr. Michael Baden” (2008) an HBO production. Dr Baden looks at the prosecutorial missteps in the OJ case and thinks there may have been 2 killers. He also discussed the JFK autopsy screw-ups that caused and prolonged the 2 shooter controversy.

  13. #13 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 30, 2008

    The religious people hear this–they hear this coming from atheists who are often scientists–and they blame science. It’s not clear to me whether they blame science because they think it is insisting on its own truth or whether they blame science for even suggesting possible alternatives, but blame it they do.

    I feel that the ‘nonreligious’ guys are missing out on much of the core dynamic here. See, the ID movement and its products (such as ‘Expelled’) do, as PZ points out, eventually succumb to the temptation to ‘swiftboat’ science as it is practiced.

    Less obviously, though, is that the ID folk long ago made a decision to ‘swiftboat’ theology. They have a mad-on against modern science and want to redefine it because virtually all of them come from a theological tradition that asserted that the average man could derive truth through a rational investigation of a Bible interpreted literally. The irony is that the 19th-Century Protestant sects which pushed this understanding were influenced by their admiration for the science of the time, and thought that they were bringing a ‘scientific’ approach to the interpretation of scripture!

    Small wonder, then, that their recently-derived, ahistorical and unorthodox ‘take’ has led them, time and again, into conflict not just with science, but with rational investigation of their own theology. Christians who have the theological sophistication to appreciate the truth of this typically don’t have a problem with science, because they’ve rejected the theological framework that brings faith into sharp conflict with science. Conversely, Christians who affirm this framework are the ones who will end up not merely disputing how to interpret data from the natural world, but arguing (incorrectly) that one needs to be able to consider ‘data’ from outside nature.

  14. #14 Reynold Hall
    April 30, 2008

    This whole “Expelled” thing with Ben Stein blaming “darwinism” for the holocaust has just gotten worse:

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/04/28/scientists-are-murderers/

    His source:
    http://tbn.org/video_portal/ click on the “Behind the Scenes” tab, and go to the video for April 21th.

    Do that, and you’ll see this:

    Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

    Stein (speaking about the Holocaust): …that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

    Crouch: That’s right.

    Stein: … Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

    Crouch: Good word, good word.

    I tried to reply as the TBN people do have a general “Contact” section, though it’s limited as to how many characters the comment can have. So, this pathetically small “rebuttal” is what I had to make do with:

    About Ben Stein’s on Crouch’s show: wrong. There’s a lot more I could say:

    The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism
    by David I. Kertzer

    “After Auschwitz: Religion and the Origins of the Death Camps.”

    “Theologian Richard Rubenstein wrote that the Nazis “did not invent a new villain…They took over the 2,000-year-old Christian trdition of the Jew as villain…The roots of the death camps must be sought in the mythic structure of Christianity.

  15. #15 Geral
    April 30, 2008

    How is it, typically, the same people that say, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” will turn around on the next breath and say, “Science kills people”.

    No it doesn’t.

    “Science doesn’t kill people. People kill people.”
    -me

    I think of science only as a process for learning, for researching and a method of thinking that leads you to question how natural processes work. What people do with that knowledge isn’t science’s fault, it’s the people who use that knowledge that should be responsible for it.

  16. #16 Pierce R. Butler
    April 30, 2008

    … restore the true meaning of science, to that of … Aristotle. I had to reply that apparently, then, they wanted to roll back progress by 25 centuries.

    You’re being excessively harsh here, Prof. Myers. As Aristotle died in 322 BCE, the intended rollback is only 23.3 centuries.

  17. #17 Janine ID
    April 30, 2008

    This is in responce to Angus Menuge wanting to go back to the true meaning of science under Aristotle. I think Bertrand Russell nailed it when he wrote this.

    If the matter is one that can be settled by observation, make the observation yourself. Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted. He did not do so because he thought he knew. Thinking that you know when in fact you don’t is a fatal mistake, to which we are all prone.

    No wonder PZ claims he gets sleepy when he thinks of his debate with Angus.

  18. #18 Janine ID
    April 30, 2008

    Dammit! I broke the rule from Janine 6:9 concerning that one should always use spell check. It is response, not responce.

  19. #19 Brando
    April 30, 2008
  20. #20 Dunc
    April 30, 2008

    [W]hat they wanted to do was restore the true meaning of science, to that of … Aristotle.

    That would be the same Aristotle who thought that flies have four legs, right? Figures.

  21. #21 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    From the OP:

    “If you have a losing hand, you’re going to use every amount of rhetoric you can to distract people from the fact that you don’t have any facts,” Sean B. Carroll, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me in his lab last week.

    Reminds me a bit of the Nixon administration.

    Coincidence? I think not….

  22. #22 PAP
    April 30, 2008

    We need to raise the bar for critical thinking standards, starting at the grade school level. Mr. Carroll is right when he states that empty rhetoric will be employed when sound arguments are not handy. Too bad they work so well in many cases. Scientific literacy is really not needed in order to recognize the thesis of Expelled for what it is -utter swill.
    Just a touch of common sense should do the job quite nicely.

  23. #23 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#14 Reynold Hall –

    Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

    As I was reading this, I made some expression of disgust under my breath (despite having seen this interview already, it disgusts me freshly every time). One of our lab techs, a recent ÚmigrÚ from China, asked me what I was reading. Not wanting to expose her to the full horror of Stein’s morally bankrupt statements, I simply replied, “Oh, just an interview with an Intelligent Design proponent.”

    She replied (imagine all of her statements said with a very heavy Chinese accent, and very quickly), “Intelligent Design? What is that?”

    A bit surprised, I replied, “It’s this movement to try to replace the teaching of evolution with the teaching that we were created, presumably by God.” Seeing that her eyes were wide with disbelief, I added, “I’m not even making this up.”

    “Are you serious?!” she asked in a shocked voice. “People believe this? Let me see this!”

    I opened the Wikipedia article on ID and she started to read it, periodically making noises of disbelief. When she got to the part about how ID proponents generally believe that the “intelligent designer” is the Christian God, she looked up in total shock. “The Christian God? And this is supposed to be intelligent?! Oh my God!”

    I love the na´ve wisdom of those not yet inundated by the American fundie culture.

  24. #24 Reynold Hall
    April 30, 2008

    Does it seem that I just caught one of the pro-ID people, though not a member of the DI itself, lying?

    Jason, I just noticed something. In your “complete profile” page, you list ExpelledExposed as one of your blogs…yet when you click on the link (http://expelledexposed.blogspot.com/) it doesn’t take you to the http://www.expelledexposed.com/ website. It just takes you to the site of the Expelled movie itself.

    Is this another example of the Expelled people’s dishonesty here, or is that a mistake you’re going to correct, since there is no such blog named “Expelled Exposed”?

  25. #25 Midnight Rambler
    April 30, 2008
    [W]hat they wanted to do was restore the true meaning of science, to that of … Aristotle.

    That would be the same Aristotle who thought that flies have four legs, right? Figures.

    Well, since the Bible also says that locusts have four legs, it must be true, so then a definition of science that allows for that must be the right one.

  26. #26 Physicalist
    April 30, 2008

    Hey! No dissin’ Aristotle!

    He was a great bioligist (and the first biologist!). Of course he made mistakes, but it’s astounding how much how many biological facts he got completely correct. (Try reading him; you’ll be amazed that a guy knew all this in the 4th century BC.)

  27. #27 windy
    April 30, 2008

    When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

    What about doctors telling you what to do? Security guards? Anyone? Anyone?

  28. #28 raven
    April 30, 2008

    Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

    What a lying moron. Those soldiers and guards herding the Jews into gas chambers weren’t scientists. They weren’t wearing white coats, carrying slide rules, and reading Darwin, Einstein, and Mendel. They wore German military uniforms, carried guns, and were all Christians.

  29. #29 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    Whatever you were saying,gerald. you might want to see “Autopsy with Dr. Michael Baden” (2008) an HBO production. Dr Baden looks at the prosecutorial missteps in the OJ case and thinks there may have been 2 killers. He also discussed the JFK autopsy screw-ups that caused and prolonged the 2 shooter controversy.

    This is continuing the off-topic digression, but you can also get an interesting look at the OJ Simpson case in Dr. Henry Lee’s Cracking Cases (and you’ll even be supporting an atheist publishing house, Prometheus Books). Reading that book didn’t convince me that Simpson was factually innocent, but it made me understand and agree with the “not guilty” verdict.

  30. #30 gex
    April 30, 2008

    I have this weird daydream going through my head. Can we run a screen play? Have the O-line sorta let them through, into the science class room. Then the arguments we have here in this forum can occur in the science class room.

    Only in my day dream, we have enough confidence in science teachers in the public schools to argue this the way it should be argued. Compare the two the way they ought to be compared. And in my dream, evolution wins more of the incoming ID influenced children than it loses. Their short term win will be a long term loss as more and more they insist we publicly analyze their beliefs in a scientific setting.

    Sigh. I don’t wish I live in that world, because really we ought to win this without bringing ID into the science room. But I will hang on to this as a backup plan for if we lose this…

  31. #31 gex
    April 30, 2008

    Stein: “… Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.”

    It saddens me to no end that even one person would read or hear this line and agree. It is so blatantly and obviously wrong, that I can’t even find the motivation to deconstruct it.

  32. #32 gex
    April 30, 2008

    “Dammit! I broke the rule from Janine 6:9 concerning that one should always use spell check.”

    Uh-oh! How severe is the punishment? Can you mumble some magic words for forgiveness or are you damned to eternal torture now? Can we all have an emergency prayer for you in the hopes that you don’t fall prey to a spiritual attack for your lapse?

  33. #33 BadDobbie
    April 30, 2008

    I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw half-baked economists telling them what to do they were telling them that they had to buy more cluster bombs to drop on civilians. Oh wait, that’s Dick Cheney, and we all know economists would NEVER tell anyone to bomb civilians.

  34. #34 Ma
    April 30, 2008

    There is no line separating science and religion. Both make claims about objective reality. It’s simply that those of religion have consistently been utterly wrong.

  35. #35 Molly, NYC
    April 30, 2008

    Raven @ 27 – And contrary to Stein’s implication, not every Jew lost relatives in the Holocaust. According to Wikipedia, Stein was born in the District in 1944 and his parents were sufficiently well established that it seems unlikely that they were recent immigrants. If he lost any relatives in the Holocaust, they probably weren’t ones he’d actually met.

    That doesn’t make the Holocaust any better, but it does make his self-righteous pretense that he’s been particularly hurt by it that much worse.

  36. #36 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2008

    Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

    Hey, Stein-

    That never happened (and you damn well know it), but for the record, here is a scientist telling you to go get fucking gassed. It would only be appropriate, given that you are nothing but a gasbag, you lying scum.

    that felt good.

  37. #37 Kseniya
    April 30, 2008

    Stein has quickly become a strong candiate for The Most Utterly Contemptible Lying Asshole of 2008. I can’t wait for the awards ceremony. I can almost hear Ann Coulter shrieking something about “… from my cold, dead hands, Unperfected Zionist!”

  38. #38 mlw
    April 30, 2008

    I have to agree with Physicalist @ #25.

    There has been far too much Aristotle bashing on this thread. Sure the guy made errors, but look at what he was doing. He was the first known person in western history to attempt to create a framework encompassing all areas of knowledge, be it science, metaphysics, ethics, logic or politics. A little leeway please…

  39. #39 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2008

    Science, we can all agree, produces answers about the world that (if accepted) would contradict many religious answers.

    nope.

    I do not agree.

    Now if you rewrite it like this:

    Science, we can all agree, produces answers about the world that (if accepted) would contradict many religious answers superstitions.

    religion has simply been proven not to be the “other way to knowledge” the religious would like to claim it as.

    It has never, at any time, ever answered any pragmatic question of any kind. Never managed to produce testable predictions of any kind. Never produced anything of a practical informative nature of any kind.

    hence why science HAS displaced religion as being the only way we have to address practical questions.

    period.

    It’s not that science disagrees with religion, and there is some debate.

    there is no debate.

    period.

    anyone who says there is is a debate is entirely delusional, or else lying.

  40. #40 windy
    April 30, 2008

    There has been far too much Aristotle bashing on this thread. Sure the guy made errors, but look at what he was doing. He was the first known person in western history to attempt to create a framework encompassing all areas of knowledge, be it science, metaphysics, ethics, logic or politics. A little leeway please…

    I like what Armand Leroi had to say on Aristotle here:

    “Listen to Plato and one hears a poet or, at best, a moralist; listen to Aristotle and one hears a colleague — albeit one with some cranky views.”

    And Aristotle might have been talking about mayflies, not houseflies as having four legs – still wrong, but interestingly wrong.

  41. #41 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2008

    It’s not clear to me whether they blame science because they think it is insisting on its own truth or whether they blame science for even suggesting possible alternatives, but blame it they do.

    no, you are presenting the issue from the wrong direction.

    the problem isn’t that science disagrees with some people’s religion; it’s that people have constructed religions that they WANT to provide the same things that science does, and can’t accept that that was never the original intent of their religion.

    Philosophically, ID is nothing but an attempt to put a square peg in a round hole, with piles and piles of rationalizations for doing so heaped on top.

    Practically, it also functions as a political tool to assist in manufacturing push-button issues that serve to rally the ignorant under the banner of “conservatism”.

  42. #42 Turcano
    April 30, 2008

    It’s a little annoying to be constantly told that we were straying from the central premise of this movie, when we were actually doing our best to address the subject of the nonexistent movie for which we were told we were being interviewed.

    Is Carroll aware of the duplicitous nature of Stein’s interviewing methods? If he isn’t, that’s a very easy mistake to make.

  43. #43 dhawk
    May 1, 2008

    Carroll had similar advice for today’s biologists: “The biology community will tell you that understanding genetics and evolution is fundamental to being a literate biologist. … Do you want your kids to be taught by people who are living in the 18th century? I don’t think so. They have a right to think these things or believe these things, but they have an obligation to be technically competent.”

    I wonder what was in the ellipses? That looks suspiciously like a quote taken out of context, implying something that wasn’t intended by Dr. Carroll. I wish the reviewer had provided the quote in its entirety.

  44. #44 dhawk
    May 1, 2008

    Whoops, ignore the previous post. Misread it. It’s late.

  45. #45 Anon
    May 1, 2008

    I don’t think that ID wants to restore the meaning of science to that of Aristotle. Even Aristotle understood the difference between logic and rhetoric.

  46. #46 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 1, 2008

    They wore German military uniforms, carried guns, and were all Christians.

    Not all. Especially in the Waffen-SS some tried to believe in (some occult interpretation of) the Germanic gods. (Himmler most prominently.) This was actively, though not very strongly, promoted.

    And then, of course, there was G÷ring: “I’m the one who gets to decide who is a Jew.”

  47. #47 Ichthyic
    May 1, 2008

    @43:

    Carroll had similar advice for today’s biologists:

    actually, THIS is the part of the quoted section I have problems with.

    Reading what Sean said, it sure doesn’t sound like advice for “today’s biologists” to me.

    sounds more like advice to parents, to me.

    I’m wondering if the interviewer has misplaced the intended audience for what Sean said there.

  48. #48 Alan Boyle
    May 1, 2008

    @43 & @47:

    Thanks for all the feedback. Your comments led me to review the recording, and I’ve revised that language to reflect what Sean was getting at a bit better. In the original version, I had the two halves of the quote scrambled because of the way I was taking notes.

    At the point where the quote picks up, he was talking about the sorts of people who were portrayed as victims in the movie. So here’s the unvarnished quote:

    “Do you want your kids taught by people who are living in the 18th century? I don’t think so. They have a right to think these things or believe these things, but they have an obligation to be technically competent.

    “I’m off in space here, but the ‘Expelled’ thing is this weird phenomenon that goes on, and whatever it is. And you can see the same weird phenomenon on other issues, whether it’s UFOs or it’s ‘don’t vaccinate my kids,’ all this kind of stuff. We’ve got this thread in America where it’s ‘oh, no, not me, I’m not going with the crowd. And those other people, they’re evil, we’re in a conspiracy,’ all this kind of stuff.

    “But the American people, I give them a little more credit. I think the American people are going to look at the quality of life issues brought by science, and they want more of it.

    “And the reason why, then, I think these people are irresponsible, is that the biology community will tell you that understanding genetics and evolution is fundamental to being a literate biologist, and you can say, to a literate citizen, too. But if we don’t teach that stuff, and teach it properly, where are we going to be? This is an economic competitiveness issue, this is an innovation issue, etc. We’re not teaching biology very well. I don’t know that we can go on decade after decade doing that without, in an international sense, paying the price. This is not going on in other countries.”

    So I’ve fixed the quote in the original item and noted the fix. Sorry about scrambling it up, I’m checking the other quotes to make sure they’re solid.

  49. #49 Ichthyic
    May 1, 2008

    I give you a standing ‘O for having the guts to make corrections like that, Alan.

    It’s becoming rare these days that those in the media will honestly approach fixing potential errors in what they write.

    again, kudos to you sir!

    many of us here get a bit (overly?) jumpy about the issue of quotemining, as you likely can imagine if you’ve spent any time looking at the media “outlets” related to the intelligent design issue; the Discovery Institute for example having made quotemining into an artform.

    cheers

  50. #50 Ichthyic
    May 1, 2008

    Similarly, Carroll said teachers were free to hold onto unscientific ideas in their private life, but should stick to the science when teaching. “Do you want your kids taught by people who are living in the 18th century?

    yes, that makes much more sense now.

    thanks.

  51. #51 Doug Rozell
    May 3, 2008

    I’d apologize for a lengthy post, but in philosophy this is the essence of brevity: you cannot do science without ipso facto relying upon philosophy.

    #20 — Aristotle thought flies have four legs only? Citation please, Dunc.

    #24 — Right on, bro’ Physicalist.

    Aristotle departed from Plato’s insistence on apriori truths to actually look at the world, but was at the same time embedded within his own cultural biases and assumptions. It is astonishing how much the ancients could do with mere thought when our techniques and technology for empirical investigation were beyond their wildest ken. Aristotle was in this regard the first systematic empiricist; and, as a systematist, he was attempting a syncretic comprehension of all that was knowable (think: unified field theory in our day). That is why he analyzed causality into four aspects: formal, material, efficient, and final causes, as each seemed to him to be necessary to a complete account of what causation requires.

    Nowadays (since the Enlightenment, roughly), his analysis has been generally regarded as at best prototypical of scientific reasoning, yet no scientist now working would be alive qua scientist had it not been for him. You can blame old Tom Aquinas for insisting upon telos, or final cause, for the still kicking corpse of teleological thinking that PZ and we rightly lament when it intrudes into the realm of scientific explanation. Nine centuries later he still infects the Roman Catholic Church, and its descendants.

    But they are deluded who think they practise science without philosophy, that is, without aid of metaphysics, and epistemology, and logic, and ethics, and aesthetics (we even speak approvingly of the elegance of a solution): they are not scientists; they are but engineers, as the surveyor is to the geometer.

    Indeed, you cannot be human without some exercise in the three spheres of speculative knowledge: philosophy, mathematics, and theology; aye, even the last. Swear, with me, that there is no god; but let me ask you why. Have you no answer? Then you are a dullard, a philistine, a swine with intellectual pretensions. You have an answer? Good: it may be impoverished and shallow, but at least you’re thinking, and you are perforce involved in theological speculation.

    In logic this is known as a constructive dilemma, rather like a knight fork in chess. I’ll let you figure it out. Meanwhile, understand that philosophy is so difficult to do well that there is little consoling in it, save avoidance of error. Rather, for “Consolation”, see “Compassion”.

    Doug Rozell, M.A., M.L.I.S.

  52. #52 Ichthyic
    May 3, 2008

    Swear, with me, that there is no god; but let me ask you why. Have you no answer? Then you are a dullard, a philistine, a swine with intellectual pretensions.

    incorrect.

    to postulate the idea of a deity to begin with requires exposure to someone else’s idea of a deity.

    to reject that idea THEN requires thought and effort, but only if one shifts the burden of proof onto the listener instead of the teller.

    But they are deluded who think they practise[sic] science without philosophy

    this is a philosophical point in and of itself, and does not bear up when measured against the reality of actually doing science (IOW, it’s entirely irrelevant to the actual practice of science).

    I’d accuse you of attempting to create your own sense of relevance, but then I’m rather biased against philosophy that way.

  53. #53 Etha Williams
    May 3, 2008

    @#51 Doug Rozell –

    Swear, with me, that there is no god; but let me ask you why. Have you no answer? Then you are a dullard, a philistine, a swine with intellectual pretensions. You have an answer? Good: it may be impoverished and shallow, but at least you’re thinking, and you are perforce involved in theological speculation.

    Swear, with me, that there is god; but let me ask you why. Have you no answer? Then you are a dullard, a philistine, a swine with intellectual pretensions. You have an answer? Good: it may be impoverished and shallow, but at least you’re thinking, and you are perforce involved in rational speculation.

  54. #54 blockquote tester
    June 6, 2008

    this is a test

    the test this is

    that was a test

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