Stranger Fruit

The Year in ID – 2007 Edition.

Twelve months ago I offered a roundup of the "advances" made by the intelligent design movement in 2006, a month-by-month roundup which differed significantly from the assessment of John West. I had started to do the same for this year, but quickly realized that the ID movement achieved absolutely nothing over the past twelve months. They had achieved so little, I was actually not posting much on the subject. Seriously. Sure, I discussed West getting destroyed in public by historian Mark Borrello, and Frank Beckwith quitting the DI, but by and large the year was filled with … nothing. The Disco Institute spent the end of the year either beating the dead horse that is Gonzalez’s tenure rejection, blathering on about Expelled or cheerleading Antony Flew’s conversion. (Of course the latter doesn’t mention Flew’s apparent eugenic sympathies.) Put bluntly, ID has not moved forward as a science one iota since this time last year. Depressing really. I mean, you’d like the opposition to at least try, otherwise the victories are just too damned easy.

To be fair, Bill Dembski gave three predictions for 2007 (wording and screaming capitals are his own) that did actually come true:

  • A new ID friendly research center at a major university. (This is not merely an idle wish — stay tuned.)
  • The publication of Michael Behe’s book with Free Press: THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION.
  • The publication of the sequel to OF PANDAS AND PEOPLE, authored by Jonathan Wells and me and titled THE DESIGN OF LIFE: DISCOVERING SIGNS OF INTELLIGENCE IN BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS.

At the time, I predicted that the "ID friendly center" would be at Baylor and no biology would be involved. Lo and behold, the Evolutionary Informatics Lab appeared at Baylor … and then promptly disappeared from Baylor. In July, it comprised of Dembski, Robert Marks (an electrical & computer engineer), and two students. By September, the wholly virtual "lab" consisted of Marks, Dembski, Tomas English, and William Basener. Currently it is Marks, Dembski, Basener, Granville Sewell, and Gil Dodgen – an engineer, three mathematicians, and a programmer. Dembski’s prediction needs to be modified to "a new ID friendly webpage."

I predicted that Behe’s book would offer no new science and would fail to address previous criticisms. Reading the reviews by scientists of The Edge of Evolution validates my prediction and even within the creationist community, the book has been received with deafening silence – perhaps because of Behe’s admission that the design perspective indicates that malaria was intentionally designed. Tom Woodward’s claim that "in the next six to twelve months, Darwinism will go into a steep nose dive as the result of Behe’s new book" is looking more and more laughable as time passes.

And then we have The Design of Life, a book that I predicted would be re-badged Pandas and People without any positive science of design. The book has turned out to be an abject failure, rehashing the same old talking points and reusing much of Pandas. It’s not going to convince anyone in the biological community that intelligent design offers anything of worth. But then again, it’s not meant to – it is aimed at the general public.

So, at risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s see what we didn’t get from the intelligent design movement this year:

  • A peer-reviewed paper by Dembski, Wells, Nelson, Meyer …
  • Or for that matter, a single peer-reviewed article offering either (a) evidence for design, (b) a method to unambiguously detect design, or (c) a theory of how the Designer did the designing, by any fellow of the DI.
  • An exposition of Nelson’s theory of "ontogenetic depth" (promised in March 2004)
  • An article by Nelson & Dembski on problems with common descent (promised in April 2005).
  • Nelson’s monograph on common descent (currently MIA since the late 90’s).

Funny. That list is identical to what we didn’t get last year. Wow. It’s like 2007 never happened.

But let’s end on a high note. The ID community did provide us with some fun things; LOLcreationists (see my own contributions – LOLDembski and LOLBehe), a strong candidate for Word of the Year ("egnorance"), and ICON-RIDS "an international coalition of non-religious ID scientists & scholars" which Dembski felt would cause problems for nasty evilutionists. ICON-RIDS turned out to be the brainchild of William Brookfield, a professional solo musician and entertainer, founder of the Brookfield (Saba) Institute of Transparadigmic Science, major advocate of Plesurianism, and founder of a company "specializing in high quality sexual products." Needless to say, ICON-RIDS soon disappeared from the ID radar.

So what does next year hold for us? I predict more political action from DI flacks, a movie – Expelled – that will make nary a ripple, a quixotic attempt to get Gonzalez tenure that will fail (and result in his being condemned to teach in some place like Liberty University), and the non-appearance of the five desired items above. Stay tuned!

Comments

  1. #1 Brian
    December 16, 2007

    You’re a regular Silvia Brown … sorry, I actually meant that as a compliment.

  2. #2 Craig Travis
    December 16, 2007

    Thanks. Patience will win the day

  3. #3 Dave Thomas
    December 16, 2007

    Perhaps there should be an honorable mention for the Expelled movie site’s detailed and informative critique of the works of Darwin, Scott, Dawkins et. al.?

    Cheers, Dave

  4. #4 John Lynch
    December 16, 2007

    @ Dave

    Hah! I had forgotten about that one. What would a year in ID be without a Flash animation from Dembski? It’s like fruit cake for the holiday season.

  5. #5 Bruce Thompson
    December 16, 2007

    “The publication of the sequel to OF PANDAS AND PEOPLE, authored by Jonathan Wells and me…”

    Are you co-authoring with Wells???

  6. #6 John Lynch
    December 16, 2007

    @ Bruce

    Oh no! Words are Dembski’s, not mine.

    (I fixed the post to make that more obvious).

  7. #7 deang
    December 16, 2007

    Of course ID creationists are never gonna advance their irrational ideas among real scientists and others who require logic and proof, in this or any other year. As you mentioned, their words are aimed at the US public, and I think you’d find yourself a lot more despondent if you tracked the polls that indicate the percentage of Americans who believe in creationism but don’t believe in evolution. On that front, they are making frightening progress. As far as I can tell, though, it’s limited to the US, so there’s still some hope.

  8. #8 steve s
    December 16, 2007

    As you mentioned, their words are aimed at the US public, and I think you’d find yourself a lot more despondent if you tracked the polls that indicate the percentage of Americans who believe in creationism but don’t believe in evolution. On that front, they are making frightening progress.

    Frightening progress? AFAIK, a substantial portion of the US population has always been creationist. Do you have any evidence that this portion is growing?

  9. #9 John Lynch
    December 16, 2007

    Yup, the polls have been fairly consistent (+/- maybe five percent) over the past 30 years as to American rejection of evolution.

  10. #10 Skwee
    December 16, 2007

    I actually have a personal experience related to Behe’s book:

    Scene: Teenage girl (me) is browsing the Science section of a local independent bookstore, looking for books about ecology. She pauses and glances to the top shelf. Behe’s book is prominently displayed.

    Thinks: This belongs in the Religion and Philosophy section-ID ain’t science. (Picks up book to move it to its natural habitat.)

    Except as she does, she realizes that there are at least three other copies of the book behind the fist one.

    Thinks: Wait..oh,no, people think this is science! (Leans head against shelf with sudden migraine.)

    I’d call it isolated, but the exact same thing has happened in every bookstore I’ve set foot in this year. (Except in the gift shops of science museums.) I don’t know if this is because the area that I live in is really creationist (I should post the letters about it that sometimes run in the paper, so we can laugh at the utter illogic of the writers), but Behe has a veneer of scientific credibility, even after Dover. And this means people will buy it, which is not good for the future of science in America.

  11. #11 Bruce Thomspon
    December 16, 2007

    JL corrects: Oh no! Words are Dembski’s, not mine.

    My misread, for a moment I thought you were harboring deep desires for the critical spot light, whereupon John abandons all pretenses at rationality and joins the ID camp much to the annoyance of his department chair. Rapidly abandoned by his loyal readers who are replaced by uncritical UD sycophants.

  12. #12 John Lynch
    December 16, 2007

    @ Skwee

    It’s not unique to your area. I’ve seen Behe’s book filed under science in plenty of bookstores (including my university’s one). Problem is that books are shelved according to the classification that the publisher gives them and people in bookstores rarely know enough about ID etc to go against that classification.

    Following the Library of Congress, libraries file “Edge of Evolution” under:

    Evolution (Biology)
    Molecular evolution.
    Genetics.
    Intelligent design (Teleology)

  13. #13 Skwee
    December 16, 2007

    @John:

    Oh. Uh, wow. At a university bookstore? I think I just a few brain cells.

  14. #14 Skwee
    December 16, 2007

    That should be just LOST a few brain cells.

  15. #15 SWT
    December 16, 2007

    John,

    Are you sure you didn’t cheat on your predictions? I just noticed that you’re currently reading a book about weasels …

  16. #16 Mike
    December 16, 2007

    Skwee,
    Forget the stores. Your federal and local governments are currently involved in promoting creationism as science, and no one cares. The institutions are your local libraries following the labeling given books by the Library of Congress, which rubber stamps what the publisher puts inside the front cover. Everyone is determined to give them a free pass (best guess) because its the library, institution of the good guys, and no one wants to critize it. I am the lone voice claiming that this is a big problem. School children across the country researching biology in their local libraries find that creationism is science, and this is done with your tax money.

  17. #17 richCares
    December 16, 2007

    constantly predicting the end of evolution and it dosen’t end. are these people retarded?

  18. #18 Bob O'H
    December 17, 2007

    Or for that matter, a single peer-reviewed article offering either (a) evidence for design, (b) a method to unambiguously detect design, or (c) a theory of how the Designer did the designing, by any fellow of the DI.

    Not a fellow of the DI, but Michael Sherman published an article proposing front-loading. It’s crap, of course.

  19. #19 snaxalotl
    December 17, 2007

    No real progress is expected for a pseudo-science. The difficulty is making the lack of progress, and lack of content, more obvious to the less informed. I would rather see more effort spent needling ID over the fact that it refuses to clearly and comprehensively explain “ID theory” in one convenient and definitive location. Because ID is a blurry and moving target, supporters will always deny anybody shot any holes in it. But when you fail to shoot holes in a cloud of soot, the problem is not that you can’t shoot, but that there are people who think that soot has solidity.

  20. #20 Ted H
    December 17, 2007

    Don’t knock Liberty University, after all they hired Nathaniel Abraham, the evolutionary biologist fired from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for refusing to do the evolutionary part of his job (90% of his job).

    What I find interesting is that supposedly Liberty teaches both evolution and Intelligent Design/Creationism. Now Associate Professor Abraham refused to so his job at Woods Hole because he didn’t believe in Evolution and now he’s working at a place that may require him to teach it?

  21. #21 Eo Raptor
    December 17, 2007

    Quote from skwee: I don’t know if this is because the area that I live in is really creationist…

    Nope, both of my local Borders Bookstores, and Barnes & Noble have it in the Science section. I explained the mistake very calmly and concisely to the manager at one of the Borders stores but he said the classification is determined by Borders corporate and he can’t do anything about it. He suggested that I write to corporate but I haven’t gotten around to it.

    EoRaptor

  22. #22 txjak
    December 17, 2007

    Not scientific progress, but some political hay was made:

    Dr. Don McLeroy (doctor of dentistry, ID advocate and DI puppet) was appointed head of the Texas State Board of Education (SBoE). McLeroy may have been instrumental in forcing the resignation of the Texas Education Agency’s Director of Science (Chris Comer) just prior its review of the state’s science curriculm next year.

    Perhaps more that I’m not aware of.

  23. #23 Skwee
    December 17, 2007

    Eo,

    I have an idea now: Somebody post the addresses where letters of complaint can be sent to for Borders/Walden (the latter being a subsidiary of the former) and B&N, so we can all write to them about it.

    Mike-that’s probably even worse. I just searched the electronic card catalog of a neighboring county’s library system, and it’s filed under science. Alas.

  24. #24 truth machine
    December 17, 2007

    Tom Woodward’s claim that “in the next six to twelve months, Darwinism will go into a steep nose dive as the result of Behe’s new book” is looking more and more laughable as time passes.

    Not so, as it was infinitely laughable when originally uttered.

  25. #25 tinyfrog
    December 17, 2007

    Bob O’H said:
    > Not a fellow of the DI, but Michael Sherman published an article proposing front-loading. It’s crap, of course.

    It took me about 10 seconds to realize you wrote “Michael Sherman”, rather than “Michael Shermer”. For a minute there, I was pretty confused and surprised that Shermer would be involved in ID.

  26. #26 KenGee
    December 18, 2007

    Come on richCares times up you know the right thing to do is for all of us put our hands up and admit we made it all up. I really think some of the IDiots think that’s going to happen one day. Have a read of today UCD, be careful though don’t eat or dink while reading it or there may be a mess. I love the thread about only people who aren’t good at maths “believe” evolution.

  27. #27 Gerard Harbison
    December 18, 2007

    Gil Dodgen is actually his real name? I thought it was a joke I didn’t quite get.

    Unfortunately, 2008 could be the best year to date for creationism, if Huckleberry is elected. Please, please, Dems, nominate someone I could actually contemplate voting for.

  28. #28 heddle
    December 18, 2007

    and result in his [Gonzalez] being condemned to teach in some place like Liberty University

    I predict this won’t happen. Liberty U demands of its science faculty an affirmation of a young earth. GG is an OEC. Of course, I suppose if one interprets some place like broadly enough, then you may be right.

  29. #29 Owen
    December 19, 2007

    @heddle

    I’d interpret it broadly to mean “a Christians-only university”, with bonus points for landing at a vanity university like Bob Jones or Oral Roberts.

  30. #30 monel
    December 19, 2007

    The year has yet to end and still the critics of evolution persist. The Institute for Creation Research is seeking approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for an online master’s degree program “to prepare teachers to ‘understand the universe within a framework of Biblical Creationism”‘.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA121907.01A.Creationism.2951a43.html

    This following the forced resigination of the board’s science curriculum director is making Texas a new front in the creation/ID v. science battle.

  31. #31 reindeer386sx
    December 22, 2007

    Yup, the polls have been fairly consistent (+/- maybe five percent) over the past 30 years as to American rejection of evolution.

    Hmm, even though there is some viable evidence for ID, that doesn’t falsify evolution. God can design stuff to evolve just as easily as God can poof stuff. Whatever can those people be thinking…

  32. #32 bernarda
    December 27, 2007

    On a couple of science sites I have mentioned that IDiots don’t seem to deal with the question of the evolution of plants, or at least I haven’t seen it.

    Recent research for example has placed the first flowering plant at around 120 million years ago. Before that for hundreds of millions of years there were other types of plants. So, did gawd just decide at that time that it would create flowering plants?

    NOVA had a program on these plants called “First Flower”. Get the DVD.

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