"Can any business seem more fitted to heighten [pallid hopelessness] than that of continually handling these dead letters and assorting them for the flames?"

Shorter Disco. 'tute's David Klinghoffer: Paul McBride, Darwinist Hero of the Hour:

Why don't real scientists take our book seeking to throw out all of paleoanthropology – self-published by a lawyer, an insect geneticist, and a bacterium geneticist – seriously? That paleoanthropologist who tore it to shreds doesn't count: he hasn't got good enough credentials.

Honestly, here's David Klinghoffer's actual opening:

The debate about evolution is conducted in large part on blogs… Defending Darwinism from critics and advocates of alternative scientific theories like intelligent design should be a top priority for evolutionary theory's online boosters.

The debate over evolution – the legitimate scientific debate – takes place in science journals.  Not vanity presses like Disco.'s BIO-complexity, but real journals that have rigorous editing and serious competition for publication.  People who are interested in making evolution as strong a science as it can be are focused on what happens there.

What happens on blogs is fun, but is not the main stage of the evolution debate.  The bit that happens online – the only bit Klinghoffer appears to realize exists – is about the politics of evolution, a matter of generally little interest (for better or for worse) to most scientists.

That distinction largely answers the question posed by the 'tute's scrivener, why more of evolution's defenders prefer not to spend their time reading creationist books: 

At best, they'll find someone else who claims to have read it and rely on his say-so that the book or article is no good.

I find this suspicious. They seem to be afraid of directly confronting ID arguments. Why would that be?

But the answer is simple: Because the books and articles are no good.  There's too much good science published every day for any researcher to read.  Why would they waste time on self-contradictory, out-of-date, self-published nonsense?

Not long ago, a group of climate change deniers tried to jam up the EPA using an argument like Klinghoffer's.  The EPA, they claimed, had moved too quickly in declaring that carbon dioxide emissions are harmful to the air and water (and thus are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act).  The deniers insisted that EPA was wrong to rely on the scientific judgments of, inter alia, the National Academy of Sciences, the International Panel on Climate Change, and the US Global Change Research Program.  They wanted the EPA to redo all the science, to reanalyze the data and work back through all the primary literature and decide on its own what effects adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would cause.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that argument as the bullshit it is, telling the deniers:

EPA simply did here what it and other decision-makers often must do to make a science-based judgment: it sought out and reviewed existing scientific evidence to determine whether a particular finding was warranted. It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of “syntheses” of individual studies and research. Even individual studies and research papers often synthesize past work in an area and then build upon it. This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.

This is how science works.  ID was wrong yesterday – factually wrong where it makes testable claims and philosophically wrong to claim that its central, untestable, claims are scientific – and it will be wrong tomorrow.  We don't have to redebunk it, and a good debunking is just as good coming from a "blog that no one before ever heard of" as from anywhere else.  And until someone from the Disco. 'tute hustles up an answer to Paul McBride's serious and thoughtful critique, they might do well not to gas on about other people not addressing their critics.

More like this

The debate over evolution – the legitimate scientific debate – takes place in science journals.

But ... but ... [wah!] ... they won't let us publish there because they are biased! ... They keep insisting we produce empiric evidence for our claims. Nasty Darwinists!

By John Pieret (not verified) on 10 Jul 2012 #permalink

Heh. You left off the the good start to your quote:

State and Industry Petitioners assert that EPA improperly "delegated" its judgment to the IPCC, USGCRP, and NRC by relying on these assessments of climate-change science. ... This argument is little more than a semantic trick.

By John Pieret (not verified) on 10 Jul 2012 #permalink

I get the feeling that believing that every one of us is a special little spark is getting interpreted as all issues within science remaining in doubt as long as their is one person who doesn't agree. Which is like saying that we don't actually know the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter because we don't know the last digit of pi.

It is also a bit odd that hey don't hold their own religion up to the same standard.

Top News Items (at the link)

What Made Chuck Colson Great.

What made Chuck Colson great?

This brawl went to PR standards rather than scientific ones a long, long time ago. And it's had more ink and energy expended on it than it ever should have. It should be studied for what it can tell about how when science gets involved with ideology its problems will be exacerbated.

The idea of a designer isn't a scientific idea, it can't be studied by science. If only questions that could be addressed by science were discussed as if they were science, maybe some of this would go away and really important things like that we're destroying the planet could be.

Someone needs to write "On The Termination of Species By Means of Human Infection". The argument over that would really be worth having.

By Anthony McCarthy (not verified) on 15 Jul 2012 #permalink

"I get the feeling that believing that every one of us is a special little spark"

Well, we're each a unique little spark. There never will be something exactly like me ever, in all of space and time back to the beginning and on to the end of time.

And I have the love of my parents and friends, so I don't really see why I need a god to love me (conditional on absolute obedience in all things with eternal torture as the punishment, which parents don't and aren't allowed to do).

Why is it that this idea is so depressing to those who rush to goddism?

You are unique and the time you spend here is a precious gift that you don't owe to anything, therefore the one true gift you will ever recieve.