New bill seeks to protect skeptical educators

Science icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.

Image via Wikipedia

From Wired Magazine, an example of how skeptical  views on climate change have now become mainstream enough to earn a level of protection when educators want to explore both sides of the issue. It is unfortunate that Wired magazine chose to label the idea as “anti-science”.

They write:

House Bill 302, as it’s called, states that public school teachers who want to teach “scientific weaknesses” about “controversial scientific topics” including evolution, climate change, human cloning and — ambiguously — “other scientific topics” may do so without fear of reprimand. The legislation was introduced to the New Mexico House of Representatives on Feb. 1 by Republican Rep. Thomas A. Anderson.

Supporters of science education say this and other bills are designed to spook teachers who want to teach legitimate science and protect other teachers who may already be customizing their curricula with anti-science lesson plans.

“These bills say, ‘Oh we’re just protecting the rights of teachers,’ which on the face of it isn’t wrong. But they draw big red circles around topics like evolution and climate change as topics to be wary about,” said Joshua Rosenau, a policy and projects director at the National Center for Science Education. “It suggests this kind of science is controversial, and would protect teachers who want to teach anti-evolution and climate-change-denying lessons in classrooms.”

The bill is one of five already introduced to state legislatures this year. While more than 30 such bills have been introduced since 2004, only Louisiana adopted one as law in 2008.

full story here

Advertisements

216 thoughts on “New bill seeks to protect skeptical educators

  1. The whole history of science is about the once settled science becoming the unsettled science. Most science isn’t 100% certain there is nothing wrong with pointing that out.

  2. I think it will end up protecting the teachers who are NOW teaching the AGW propaganda as truth when the public realizes it is not true, CYA both ways.

  3. I thought the First Amendment covered this — oh wait, Obama and the left don’t do “amendments” or that Constitution.

  4. As a parent and grandparent I think K-12 public school teachers need to stick to the approved curriculum and keep their personal beliefs to themselves. I say that because the public who involuntarily funds these schools has a right to know what their children are being taught and be assured that individual teachers don’t start teaching/preaching/proselytizing their personal beliefs. This should only apply to classes required by law for graduation. Once there’s an opportunity to decline a class, choose another teacher, or choose a different school then it’s a different story. In any event the curriculum should be available for inspection in advance of the class and that should be what is taught – no surprises.

  5. Evolution and the Greenhouse Gas theory of Climate Change have nothing in common. Biology makes sense in the light of evolution. The natural history of climate change makes no sense in terms of GHG’s.

  6. This is none of Congress’ business. They were not elected as members of the school board. Congress should stop involving itself with education, abolish the Department of Education, and work on balancing the budget. STAT.

  7. Interestingly, they have identified, specifically two areas of scientific thought (evolution and AGW) that do not follow scientific method, precisely because they are neither provable or unprovable. In fact, the two areas of scientific thought have a lot of things in common – essentially being that people make observation, which are then incorporated into the Theory, but no-one is allowed to question the underlying paradigm, without being labelled as “unscientific” or some other slanderous insinuation.

  8. “climate-change-denying” this is what they say if you have seen evidence that man made global warming is a fraudulent belief system of nihilistic tree hugging dooms day cults. And high levels of co2 are not a danger to either our planet or to life on it,
    I’m not getting into the creationist/evolution thing that’s a different argument.
    I’ve just unsubscribed from Wired Magazine!

  9. Soon Warmists will be declared a protective species. Unfortunately academia will still pay them to be idiots, think Holdren and Ehrlich, protected in their cocoons against a life time of catastrophic hoaxes and silliness. . Because the cause of academia to destroy America seems to be way more important than science, history, truth, or the environment itself.

  10. As long as the scientific weakness is not one that has been proven irrelevant over and over again, no problem with this bill. There should be a provision setting forth standards of proof for what can be taught as science in school. Having a falsifiable theory is pretty important.
    Creationism has some major scientific flaws as a scientific theory. The 6,000 year old Earth is not a scientifically valid thing to be teaching as a weakness. The problems in climate science with proxies, data gathering, sensitivity, feedbacks, clouds, etc. are valid problems to examine. I don’t know that evolution is unscientific as a previous poster suggests. I do agree that AGW is unscientific. There are properties of CO2 that suggest that it would slow the release of radiation. Whether or not this has consequences is far from proven. Evolution is pretty much a forgone conclusion, and the major arguments against it have been knocked down. Unless there is a new one? I haven’t heard about it.

  11. I was taught the theory of evolution in public school starting in grade school. My church never adhered to a literal interpretation of the Bible so I had no conflicts. In my Sophomore year of college I took comparative vertebrate morphology and became all the more convinced that the theory of evolution explained everything. In my early 30s I encountered a book that didn’t propose Creationism or “intelligent design”, it simply illustrated the flaws and weaknesses in the evolution theory. It’s not quite as iron clad as many of us believe. I was taught evolution theory in the 1960s – a little over 100 years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species.
    Contrast that to the nonsense of AGW which has only been in the public consciousness for a couple of decades. This is a THEORY, not a scientific fact. It infuriates me that it is being taught to our youth as though it is immutable fact. It wouldn’t bother me if some teacher said to his or her classroom that one of the weaknesses of evolution is the scale of time. It’s nearly impossible to fathom the development of a structure such as the human eye from primordial soup in a mere billion years. Accordingly, none of the educrats should panic if some teacher of sound mind blows holes through the specious theory of AGW.

  12. How can a person know to hate with all your being creationism/natural selection or natural climate variability vs SUV driven climate hell unless they take the time to study both sides of the issues? And who can consider themselves worthy of an opinion on either topic until they have read and understood the positions both sides of the issue present?

  13. So, let me see if I’ve got this straight…
    Teaching kids to question by sowing doubt is “anti-science”…?
    Epic fail.

  14. Most of the proponents of global warming are on the take. They know they spread misinformation to ensure their personal well-being. No wonder they passionately hate skeptics for threatening this ill-gotten well-being.
    Some fiery fanatics of green religion may really imagine that their critics are akin to the anti-evolutionary creationist crowd. Well, they are fatally wrong, and their time is up.
    Think of it as of an evolution in action.

  15. The notion of drafting laws one way or the other on these sorts of topics is not just a waste of time, it also winds up that they are selectively enforced and do more harm than good.
    Teachers that openly discuss their belief systems as part of promoting meaningful discussion are vital to proper education and graduates who can think for themselves. Teachers who use their position to promote their belief system or compel students to participate in it are the worst of the worst. It is they who this type of law wind up protecting.

  16. Lighten up folks. It’s not the U.S. It’s New Mexico’s House of Representatives, trapped between the energy vortex’s (vortice?) created in Sedona Az to the west and counter spinning Texas School Boards vortex’s to the east. Dust devils in the middle. I’m sorry Wired had nothing better to do than that push this story where only NM can vote. It’s been years since I’ve been to Wired — evidently the decline has continued.

  17. Creationism has been co opted by the religious right just has AGW has been by the left. The benign and very acceptable view that there is a God and perhaps intelligent design or purpose, has been turned into some silly fairy tale cartoon ‘archeology’ by many. This is all relatively new and has caught many by surprise. Those schooled at religious institutions, and I have my doctorate from such, am astounded that evolution is even an issue, much less carbon dating, isotopes, environmental science, paleontology, linguistics, archeology, astronomy, genealogy, biology, nuclear science, even pottery, etc. The leaders of these sects, such as the Baptists and the Assembly of God, need to step forward and tell their ministers that God is a bit bigger than their silly cartoon imaginations.

  18. I strongly object, both to being labelled as equivalent to a creationist for questioning CAGW -CO2 theory, but also to having creationists (or “intelligent designers”) trying to claim equivalence between their religiously based cause, and the scientific arguments of climate sceptics.
    The two cases could not be more different. There are multiple lines of evidence for evolution, all yielding precisely the same ‘tree of life”, and despite there having been literally millions of chances for the theory to be falsified (every time a fossil is dug up, it could be in the wrong strata) it never has been. What is more, the theory has strong predictive value, without which a realistic understanding of the natural world is simply impossible.
    CAGW, on the other hand, has yet to survive a single falsification test – indeed, it is the null hypothesis which looks far more robust at the moment. Not one verified prediction, not one major test withstood, and all based on computer models which don’t even begin to simulate the natural world. Belief in this hypothesis, as iof it were an established, unquestionable fact, has far more in common with belief in a 7 day creation than with any kind of science.
    The two cases could not be more different.

  19. In my experience, by far the best educators have been those that encourage young minds to ‘question everything’, including those foundations of science that seem forever set in concrete. Lazy teachers with lazy minds teach, you guessed it, a lazy attitude and sloppy reasoning.

  20. Hey, don’t bunch creationists with AGW sceptics….
    If for no other reason than that the government is not threatening to destroy our economies and freedoms in the name of evolution but they are in the name of cAGW.

  21. The key point, which posters seem to be skating round, is that students should be introduced to ALL points of view and be given a value-free grounding on the strengths and weaknesses of each. Teachers/lecturers inform us that they are educated people. Certainly they are,(mostly), well qualified. The difference between being well-qualified and educated is that the educated person can argue both sides of an argument with equal force, then make a personal choice based on those arguments. There are not that many educated people around in state education either side of the Pond – socialist (liberal) systems do not value either individual moral and ethical integrity or the idea that there may be an alternative to the Party line.

  22. Science only progresses via debate: by having established views challenged. Having seen the disgraceful way a pseudo-scientific concept such as global warming became mainstream and deluded so many people into believing this “science” couldn’t be challenged, I think there is no question that scientific free speech is under attack – indeed science is under attack like it never has been before.
    In free and open debate, Real science wins out every time because only real science has the facts to support it. That is why climate “science” couldn’t allow a free debate, that is why they attempted to clamp down on anyone daring to debate the real science.
    And if the price of free and open discussion in science is to allow people to discuss creationism (so long as they are also given the scientific facts – not “scientific” opinion – but facts) then I will support people learning about creationism if that is the price for free and open debate in science.

  23. I think Wired has probably got it right actually. I’d be willing to bet one fancy dinner with someone that the framers of this bill are animated mostly by opposition to teaching evolution as science. They just entrained a whole lot of other issues that they think might want more air-time to try to boost support for their main objective.
    This is a pernicious anti-science bill that no sceptic should want to be associated with.

  24. Alexander Feht says: February 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm
    Well, they are fatally wrong, and their time is up.
    Are the peasants revolting? Do I detect a mood of going out onto the internet and storming the public spaces and refusing to leave until the old regime are ousted? What next, a sit in at Wikipedia?
    The common global warming is an endangered species
    Seriously … I think we are going to have to introduce some conservation measures. There used to be places where this species of bird could be found in the hundreds, these days they’ll be dozens of sceptics on the forums waiting for one timid warmer to pop their head out of the bushes and quickly go away.
    The government’s got to do something, at this rate the common global warmer could be extinct within a year. I propose introducing some “global warming conservation zone”. The idea is this: we ban all harmful posting of the truth, and set up a breeding program on the BBC (they have an endemic problem “getting it up”)
    Oh it’s too painful to go on! But we’ve got to act because this is yet further proof of the harmful effects mannmade global cooling is having on endangered species.

  25. One of the most damning things about the AGW theory is the lack of any established conditions for falsification. Anything and everything appears to be evidence in favour. If it snows more that is to be expected, but so is the lack of snow and warmer winters.
    If there were nothing else, that, and the demand for unquestioning acceptance (and the howls of protest and labeling of questions as unscientific) would be enough to set off my alarm bells.
    Just a hunch. But I guess there is no real surprise at the two directly listed items. (That is unless someone has supplied or is willing to supply conditions for falsification of evolutionary theory. Because, if they exist, I am genuinely unaware of them, and would be most interested in being acquainted with the information.)

  26. Hooking creationism to climate scepticism is a terrible idea. The proponents of the two live in different worlds scientifically.
    Teaching climate scepticism does not need to be about teaching that the AGW theory is wrong. It only needs to be that the AGW theory may not be correct and that other explanations are possible. I happen to believe catastrophic CO2 warming is flawed, but I accept that the CO2 warming might in some sense be right. I might be wrong.
    Creationists are not interested in that distinction. They don’t want to teach that evolution has flaws and may be incorrect. They want to teach that it is wrong and, effectively, sinful. In that sense they are profoudly anti-science.
    Climate sceptics should be careful not to align themselves with the creationists. It makes us looks like cranks. In fact it is a dirty trick of many warmists to deliberately assert, without evidence, that climate sceptics are prone to other dodgy scientific ideas, thereby making even those of us who are through-and-through rationalists look cranky.

  27. I have no ideas of the ways in which the US school system operates, but I find ‘Wired’s’ chosen terminology quite offensive, particularly for a ‘science-themed’ magazine.
    Ideological battles should never be fought in the classroom; it is not ethical to use children, teenagers, college or university students as hostages or to allow them to become ‘collateral damage’ in such battles.
    If provable scientific nonsense is embedded in a science curriculum or in science teachers’ schemes of work, it must be excised, but I am surprised that teachers could need protection, providing they do their job within their employment guidelines and teach honourably and well. If they step outside professional guidelines or ignore accepted standards of professional conduct, they do so at their own peril.
    I do note that the USA’s publicly funded school system is not highly placed in most recognised international educational rankings.

  28. During the early 60’s the arguments over Plate Tectonics was nearly as bad as those today about global warming/climate change/AGW. Thankfully Plate Tectonics eventually won because it explained observations which the status quo explanation of geological events did not.
    Today Plate Tectonics is accepted by all geologists as well as non specialists as fact.

  29. Dave Springer says:
    February 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    As a parent and grandparent I think K-12 public school teachers need to stick to the approved curriculum and keep their personal beliefs to themselves.

    What if the approved curriculum is a distortion, or worse yet, a lie?

  30. In teaching any science, it is important to spend some time on possible competing ideas which have not won favour with the scientific community. Flat earthers are too few in numbers to mention, and relativity cranks are too obviously cranks. I think that creationists (and their close relatives in intelligent design) and AGW skeptics are the only sizable groups who are fighting to get their point of view accepted by the public.
    Of course there are probably many other science controversies, but they have not captured the public’s imagination to the extent that they have a lobby group. Take continental drift for example. The idea was introduced in 1915, and was strongly opposed by geologists at the time (and aren’t they the main group opposing AGW). By the 1960’s a lot of work by geologists proved the theory correct. So if you were educated in the 1970’s, you would know about continental drift.

  31. Dr Dave: “In my early 30s I encountered a book that didn’t propose Creationism or “intelligent design”, it simply illustrated the flaws and weaknesses in the evolution theory. ”
    The problem is, any time after the 1960s, there really aren’t any ‘flaws and weaknesses’ in evolution to illustrate. It’s that powerful a theory. Most books that claim to ‘expose the weaknesses of evolution’ use creationist nonsense, doubletalk, and flawed arguments. There are none that draw on real evidence.
    Peter S: “That is unless someone has supplied or is willing to supply conditions for falsification of evolutionary theory. Because, if they exist, I am genuinely unaware of them, and would be most interested in being acquainted with the information.”
    Actually, this is quite simple. Any of these observations would falsify evolutionary theory:
    * a fossil record that was not sequential. The real fossil record is highly sequential, with fossils always being found in basically the same sequence over and over, all across the world. You never see elephants with sauropod dinosaurs, or ostracoderm fish with dolphins, or anything like that. You never see advanced organisms appearing before anything that might have been their ancestor, such as rabbits in the Triassic.
    * organisms that were clearly hybrids betwen two radically different forms of life — mermaids, griffins, centaurs
    * organisms that radically violated established rules of anatomy — for example, a centaur would be a vertebrate with three pairs of limbs, where all other vertebrates have two, one, or zero pairs of limbs.
    * organisms that used a radically different genetic code from all others. Almost all living organisms use the same genetic code. Those that don’t, use a code that is only slightly different.
    * organisms that have traits that clearly exist only for the benefit of others. Evolutionary theory says that can’t happen. Every organism exists primarily to reproduce, and any trait which doesn’t somehow help that goal should get weeded out.

  32. What I find most compelling is any “science” that is afraid of the spotlight. I see no difference in any science that is afraid of the light of scepticism and debate, that is based on fear and weak positions. Funny how many here want debate on AGW but claim the “science is settled” in evolution. You don’t know how humorous that really is.

  33. As a trained biologist with a skeptical attitude to the catastrophic thesis of AGW, nothing insults my intelligence more than this deeply anti-intellectual (but alas all-too-effective) trick of the CAGW crusaders – namely, indiscriminately throwing those who have reached an AGW-critical stance by means of the scientific method (that includes me) into the same trash can with the anti-evolutionary crowd. There is a not-too-fine distinction between the AGW-criticism and the anti-evolutionism:
    “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”, as the evolutionary biologist and Russian Orthodox Christian [!!!] Theodosius Dobzhansky famously asserted in 1973.
    By contrast, nothing in the CAGW theory makes sense except in the fairy world of computer models.

  34. I agree with some of the former comments that the best teachers are those that encourage their students to make their own conclusions after supplying everything needed, unfortunately this is not easy and you don’t find that many of those teachers. As far as evolution and global warming are concerned with each other, they shouldn’t be, except I think they should both be left out of basic curriculum. Global Warming is a malpractice of the scientific process, and evolution (or to be more broad, the origins of the earth and species) whereas is uses scientific processes, boils down to more of a philosophical argument and since we can never witness just how the earth was created/formed or how humans were formed from apes I think it would be better taught in its own class that treats is more of a theory and less of “this is how it really happened.”

  35. John Brookes
    February 7, 2011 at 3:18 am
    The idea was introduced in 1915, and was strongly opposed by geologists at the time
    Alfred Wegener was a Meteorologist & Geophysicist who based his ideas of continental drift on field observations of sea-ice movements during his visits to Greenland, where he observed that pressure ridges are similar in form to fold mountains. The idea of continental drift was supported by Aurthur Holmes in his seminal work published in 1944 Principles of Physical Geology
    I devoured this book when I was 14 and it placed me firmly on my geoscience career.
    No John, the real antagonists in this story where the physicists who argued against large scale lateral movement of the continents through the oceans. This was at a time when the astonishingly young geological age of all the ocean basins was not known.
    Today the physicists are still meddling in geoscience, apparently blind to the dominant role of reflectance in the illumination of planetary atmospheres.

  36. Dear Dave
    Saddly teachers in the public schools, and elsewhere in fact, do not and often cannot avoid injecting their own bias. For at least two generations now leftest extreme views are taught as normal and acceptable in schools and anyone questioning any portion of that agenda ran a significant risk.

  37. Interesting — in the movie The Matrix Neo’s “real” name (in the virtual world) is Thomas A. Anderson. Maybe Agents will go after Rep. Anderson for bucking the officially sanctioned view of the world. Anderson might even help his landlady carry out the garbage.

  38. Its sad that it should come to this. My quarrel (like most other sceptics, I suspect) is with the fantastical predictions of AGW, not with evolution. That its grouped with this strikes me as evidence of the polarised political aspects of this debate.

  39. Mooloo says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:32 am
    wolfwalker says:
    February 7, 2011 at 3:45 am
    My take is much like yours.
    Geological evidence supports the theory of evolution, including the billions of years required to get things started.
    Geological evidence also shows that climate appears to have a lower and an upper limit, the icehouse/greenhouse extremes. The earth has actually been in an icehouse phase for the entire Pleistocene. Periodic warmer periods (the interglacials), including the present day, only approach what would be optimum climate conditions. Because CO2 has been present in the atmosphere at varying concentrations at either extreme, it is unlikely to be the dominant factor in driving climate change.

  40. The distinction between Intelligent Design and Creationism is this: Creationists claim that a beaver dam was created by the Christian God. Intelligent Design says it was created by a beaver, applying intelligence and design.
    A Darwinist might say that the dam just evolved slowly and gradually due to random fluctuations of water turbulence affectin debris in the stream.

  41. I’ve been involved in the creation/evolution wars for years, most actively on the talk.origins USENET group nearly a decade ago. One thing I noticed a lot from the creationists was that they seemed to have no idea of the history of the debate — namely, how early “natural philosophy” started as a cataloging of “God’s Creation” and gradually evolved (pun not intended) into the mechanistic paradigm of today’s science. Many of them believed that this mechanistic view was specifically created (again, pun not intended) to deny the existence of a God — ignoring the number of scientists who were men of God, but in good faith (man, these things just won’t go away!) followed where the evidence led them.
    This is why I believe that not quite teaching, but at least covering, the original creationist philosophy of science , and explaining why and how it morphed into the paradigm we use today in science, would be a good thing. Teach the epistemology of science, one could say.
    It should need not be said that the differences between creationists and CAGW skeptics (heck, I’d even say I AM a “denier” of “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change — I don’t see any catastrophes down the road) are vast and many. Creationists are purely religion-based; CAGW skeptics are just again following where the observations lead them — which is all one can ask of scientists.

  42. truthsword says:
    February 7, 2011 at 4:06 am

    What I find most compelling is any “science” that is afraid of the spotlight. I see no difference in any science that is afraid of the light of scepticism and debate, that is based on fear and weak positions. Funny how many here want debate on AGW but claim the “science is settled” in evolution. You don’t know how humorous that really is.

    It was humorous to see your post right below wolfwalker’s which makes several sufficient points that support evolution. Biology and much of medicine rely on concepts required by the theory of evolution, it isn’t all about dinosaurs.

  43. The connection between Intelligent Design theory and climate is pretty interesting. CAGW can be seen to be a consequence of an Intelligent Design phenomenon overriding a natural phenomenon. Most of us would agree that the rise of an industrial civilization is a hallmark of intelligent behavior, oriented toward a particular design… developing an economy of abundance. And emission of Carbon Dioxide and other industrial gases is a byproduct of human intelligence and design.
    Intelligent Design is a mathematical and logical technique that can distinguish the artificial from the natural. Thus, it should be useful to isolate the CAGW signal (such as it is) from natural climate change. It may be the final link in the chain that ties down the alarmist beast by establishing the exact length of its claws.

  44. Regarding similarities to creationists, it is the CAGW crowd, not the skeptics!
    Belief in human caused catastrophes due to cooking our supper is pure religious zealotry. It is acceptance of the dogma and decrees of Gia and her prophet, AlGore. The warmists and alarmists hold to their beliefs and shout them all the louder as evidence against them mounts. They point to their credentials, as do the creationists. They write peer reviewed research, peer reviewed by fellow believers, just like the creationists; they vilify opponents as diabolical, just like the creationists. The list of similarities goes on.
    Also, note that teaching creationism is fine as long as the facts are shown. If one points out the difficulties in a Noahic flood geological scenario and admits that multiple miracles would be required, what is the problem? If faith is admitted, then it is good. The skeptic, the faithless, and the faithful will all be satisfied because the truth is told. The fact that prevaricators like Dr. H. Morris are quoted as true is where the problems arise. The same holds for Dr. J. Hanson. We must protect the truth. People will figure it out on their own if we give them the facts.

  45. For the theory of evolution, the null hypothesis would be proved were someone to find fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian. How would the null hypothesis for the AGW theory be proved? Anyone?

  46. It does seem a bit of a poor show for Wired, which generally wears a reasonably scientific hat, to start making snidey remarks about those of us who don’t believe in the ‘cargo cult science’ of AGW – which, as several comments above remind us, doesn’t seem to have any falsification criteria and doesn’t make any useful predictions. I shall view their site rather differently from here on – differently as in, less trusting.
    As for creationism, yeah, my great great great grandad had this tyrannosaur …

  47. I would accept more taxes taken away from me if I could get a batch of legislators that ONLY took laws off the books instead of adding more BS to them. Noble cause be damned, please can we just get a batch that removes the crap, start with the patriot act.

  48. Used to read Wired regularly for about 10% of its content. The remaining 90 feels like it’s written by grade-school children. When they hired Spencer Ackerman of journolist fame the stench of politics finally and thoroughly overwhelmed the good bits.

  49. I have been quite disturbed by the old exam papers, homework etc that my boys have bought home from school (UK). There is nothing to suggest in the text that AGW is a theory, it just states ‘this IS happening, this WILL happen’ etc. Basically tantamount to brain washing.
    Luckily they have a Mum who is interested in science and I can get them to question things and give them the other side of the argument.
    I have been most amused by my 15 year old who is in his last year at school. When the AGW subject comes up in science lessons he hasn’t been afraid to state facts, question what is being taught and infact started a debate with the whole class and teacher. I think most of his class mates are now skeptics!

  50. Linking scepticism about AGW with the questions raised in some quarters about evolution is a mistake and a sure way to lose people like me. I have two major concerns:
    First, the science, in the case of AGW, we are trying to separate the science from the belief of adherents; to cast a sceptical eye on their ‘evidence’ because so much has been influenced by their belief system. In the case of evolution, there is a large and credible body of evidence that supports the theory that ‘complex forms’ evolve from simpler forms.
    Second, I have grave concerns with any legislative body legislating and approach to teaching science. By their nature, legislative bodies are political animals, and are not a place in which a cool understanding of scientific principles can be applied.

  51. If you’re looking for Intelligent Design in nature, you need go no further than the climate data coming out of NASA GISS. Cooking the books in the name of “homogenization” should yield a pretty strong Intelligent Design signal in the temp records. In fact, that was one of the earliest possible applications of the discipline… identifying experimenter contamination of raw data… what we used to call “dry labbing”.
    The new McKitrick paper, “McKitrick, Ross R. and Nicolas Nierenberg (2010) Socioeconomic Patterns in Climate Data.Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, forthcoming.”, may well be a good example of how to identify the source of the Intelligent Design signal in the climate data, at least identify it as something other than Greenhouse Gas warming.

  52. wolfwalker says:
    February 7, 2011 at 3:45 am
    re; no books expose weaknesses in evolution theory based on evidence
    If that’s what you think then you haven’t read:
    “The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism”
    by Mike Behe, Professor of Biochemistry, Lehigh University, PA
    http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Evolution-Search-Limits-Darwinism/dp/B002IT5OOS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1297089273&sr=8-2
    “Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome”
    by John Sanford, Professor of Genetics, Cornell University, NY
    http://www.amazon.com/Genetic-Entropy-Mystery-Genome-Sanford/dp/0981631606/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297089446&sr=1-1
    “The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues”
    by Mike Gene (pen name, an engineer, no one knows where)
    http://www.amazon.com/Design-Matrix-Consilience-Clues/dp/0978631404/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297089564&sr=1-1
    Not a scrap of religious mumbo jumbo in any of them. All science & engineering & empirical evidence.
    The books above are about Intelligent Design not Scientific or Young Earth Creationism. ID doesn’t dispute the generally accepted age of the earth, doesn’t pretend to have data which identifies the source of design in the universe or the mechanism by which it was imposed. It examines complexity in nature, probalistic resources (chance) and known natural mechanisms by which change occurs (law), and attempts to discriminate between things that were designed and things that formed by law & chance. It’s forensic in nature and can be applied equally well in determining if someone cheated in a lottery, arson vs. accident, random mutation & natural selection vs. directed evolution, random values for physical constants vs. fine tuning, and things of that nature. The books above are all about probabilities, evolutionary mechanisms, time & opportunity, and magnitude of evolutionary change over time.
    Just as CAGW skeptics don’t like being lumped together with anti-evolutionists, many who believe intelligent design is a reasonably hypothesis don’t like being lumped together with Young Earth Creationists. I’m as convinced as one can be by scientific principles that the earth is billions of years old and all living things on this planet come from one or perhaps several unbroken cell lines hundreds of millions of years old. What I don’t believe is that the finely tuned laws of nature are some freak accident that beat nearly impossible odds or that life on this planet and mind-boggling complexity of the molecular machinery in even the simplest living cell is the result of a random dance of atoms in a prebiotic soup. It’s patently absurd once you take a serious look at the odds against it just happening without reason or intent of intelligent agency. The hallmark of intelligent agency is things that normally wouldn’t happen without it. For instance there’s a finite chance that a random arrangement of atoms could be a functional space shuttle but the number of arrangements of atoms that are not space shuttles is so large that in a finite universe a space shuttle will never happen by accident. But throw intelligent agency into the mix and viola – a fleet of space shuttles.
    Sanford is a Cornell geneticist and inventor of the “gene gun”.

  53. John Campbell says:
    “For the theory of evolution, the null hypothesis would be proved were someone to find fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian.”
    Actually, I did find a rabbit fossil in some pre-cambrian strata, but I threw it away, since it was obviously a mistake.

  54. Sorry but I fail to see how dumping Mann Made Global Warming ™ skepticism in with creationism helps us?
    To many, this will just be further proof of how debased and removed from reality skeptics are.
    Further more, dare I say it, I fear that the people who created this bill have an ulterior motive…to get the farce called creationism in to school curriculums!
    Mailman

  55. I started out skeptical…
    ..I’m now a full blown “D” word
    I don’t care what they call me, what group they try to put me in.

  56. It is becoming very very clear that modern Science has become indistinguishable from Religion.
    Science has become a political baseball bat that is used to frighten & control people.
    As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
    It now appears that this needs updating to, “Any sufficiently inscrutable science is indistinguishable from religion.”

  57. My rabbit comment was whimsical, bu it does have a point. To what extent will a scientist with a prior commitment to a particular paradigm consciously or unconsciously reject evidence that violates what he is committed to.
    If James Hansen finds evidence that contradicts CAGW alarmism, what do you think he will do? Become a skeptic?
    If a Darwinist (or neo-Darwinist or modern synthesist) finds the hypothetical rabbit in the pre-Cambrian, what will HE do?
    What is happening here in this forum is a wholesale rejection of a belief system, one that is cultist, arrogant, and has no respect for dissenters.
    Likewise, the Darwinist proponents are also defending a belief system, one that equally has no respect for dissenters.
    Personally, I have no sympathy for Creationism… I believe it is religious and not scientific. And also, I have no sympathy for Darwinism, and I view it as a religious creation myth for atheists and materialists. There may be a limited place for evolution by mutation and natural selection in studying the phenomenal world, but it is not the “foundation of Biology”, any more than Newtonian gravitation is the foundation of Physics.

  58. Mailman says:
    “Sorry but I fail to see how dumping Mann Made Global Warming ™ skepticism in with creationism helps us?”
    Nobody’s doing that. Creationism is a religious belief, whereas Intelligent Design is a pragmatically valid discipline that distinguishes the natural phenomena from the effects of animal or human behavior. Intelligent Design has no religious connotation.

  59. My opinion on the scientific validity of abiogenesis and macro-evolution rightly holds no weight on this site. Yet I believe you have heard of Francis Crick. Humor me for a few moments by reading quotes from that Nobel laureate:
    “To produce this miracle of molecular construction all the cell need do is to string together the amino acids (which make up the polypeptide chain) in the correct order. This is a complicated biochemical process, a molecular assembly line, using instructions in the form of a nucleic acid tape (the so-called messenger RNA) which will be described in outline in Chapter 5. Here we need only ask, how many possible proteins are there? If a particular amino acid sequence was selected by chance, how rare of an event would that be?
    This is an easy exercise in combinatorials. Suppose the chain is about two hundred amino acids long; this is, if anything, rather less than the average length of proteins of all types. Since we have just twenty possibilities at each place, the number of possibilities is twenty multiplied by itself some two hundred times. This is conveniently written 20^200 and is approximately equal to 10^260, that is a one followed by 260 zeros!
    This number is quite beyond our everyday comprehension. For comparison, consider the number of fundamental particles (atoms, speaking loosely) in the entire visible universe, not just in our own galaxy with its 10^11 stars, but in all the billions of galaxies, out to the limits of observable space. This number, which is estimated to be 10^80, is quite paltry by comparison to 10^260. Moreover, we have only considered a polypeptide chain of a rather modest length. Had we considered longer ones as well, the figure would have been even more immense. ” Life Itself, Its Origin and Nature (1981) p. 51-52.
    “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” Life Itself, Its Origin and Nature (1981) p.88
    And, isn’t it fair to say “the knowledge available to us now”, as opposed to the relatively smaller body of knowledge available to Crick, has only made the matter much worse for those clinging to the creation myths of abiogenesis and macro-evolution?
    (BTW, Crick’s description of the comparison of 10^80 vs. 10^260 as “paltry” is an appalling understatement: If each of the 10^80 particles in our universe was transformed into a complete universe of the same size as ours, the total particles would still only by 10^160. Therefore, dust on the scales used to weigh tractor trailers is more meaningful than the number of all the particles in a universe of universes compared to the daunting permutations involved in a single middling polypeptide!)

  60. Flask says:
    February 7, 2011 at 6:19 am
    “Biology and much of medicine rely on concepts required by the theory of evolution, it isn’t all about dinosaurs.”
    Right you are. It relies on concepts like a pathogenic bacteria in your bloodstream won’t grow into a parasitic animal like a liver fluke.
    Oh wait. You probably didn’t mean to say that much of biology and medicine relies on the limits of evolution. You just wanted to make the tired old point that bacteria can acquire resistance to antibiotics through random mutation & natural selection.
    I bet you didn’t know that evolutionary biology is not a required course to become a medical doctor. Doesn’t that strike you as a bit strange when a theory that is purportedly so important to medicine isn’t a required course for medical practioners? That should be prima facie evidence that your claim is hogwash. People who subscribe to dogma seldom let facts get in the way of their beliefs.

  61. Peter Wilson says:
    February 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm
    I strongly object, both to being labelled as equivalent to a creationist for questioning CAGW -CO2 theory, but also to having creationists (or “intelligent designers”) trying to claim equivalence between their religiously based cause, and the scientific arguments of climate sceptics. ….

    Right on!

  62. What I am suggesting is that Mann Made Global Warming is an attempt to study the effects of Intelligent Design (the effects of our industrial civilization) on the natural climate system.
    In order to defeat or contain it, its Intelligent Design premises must be analyzed and established, and placed into context.

  63. Equating climate skeptics with holocaust deniers is the same tactic that Darwinists employ against intelligent design pundits when they equate them with Young Earth Creationists.
    I can’t seem to find where that fits into the scientific method or the philosophy of science. It fits pretty well into the philosophy of war and counter-intelligence operations though. Sun Tzu would approve but Karl Popper would not.

  64. Anthony Hughes,
    Im sorry but that is a load of bollocks…especially when the main driver for ID is the Discovery Institute, who in turn believe that it is God that is responsible for Intelligent Design…which in turn is reflected in their propaganda.
    Therefore, lumping those of us who are skeptical around mans role in Mann Made Global Warming ™ with creationist [trimmed] does our case no good at all.
    In fact, lumping us in with those [trimmed] only makes our case all that much harder because people will automatically switch off because Mann Made Global Warming ™ skepticism has been tainted by association with creationism.
    Mailman

  65. In fact, I would go as far to say that climate science as practiced by “The Team” is pretty similar to the science that goes in to creationism…and the defenders of both will move heaven and earth to protect their religion from being examined in any detail that would expose it for what it is.
    Mailman

  66. As a retired geology professor who has always believed in Darwinian evolution and never believed in AGW, I think most comments are missing a major point. While I believe in evolution, the truth is, whether a dinosaur (or any organism) was created by Biblical creation or natural selection evolution, the dinosaur will have zero impact on the daily life of any human. On the other hand, if the warmists like Gore, Hansen, and Obama ram the whole AGW down our throats and destroy modern society in the name of saving the planet with their stupid unscientific ideas, every human will have his life altered for the worse. Every activity from paying a utility bill to driving a car will be made more expensive and complicated for no good scientific reason. The false God of AGW makes the God of the creationist seem trivial by comparison of the effects on mankind and his economy.

  67. They do not call them theories for nothing. If there were no holes they would be laws. Darwin’s own words from On the Origin of Species point out weakness:

    If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

    Even something as basic as the bacterial flagellar motor illustrates such irreducible complexity.

  68. Mr Watts, you make a grave mistake posting anything about Creationism on this forum, as it brings out the crazies. Now scientifically minded people will read this blog and conclude that being skeptical about CAGW is synonomous with Creationism and religion.
    Ditto about evolution, as it allows the non scientific minded to postulate their pet ‘theory’, as opposed to examining the physical evidence.

  69. Fascinating. Least there be some understanding of the ‘ being necessary to the security of a free State’ New Mexico is practicing the purpose of a ‘free state’. Free from? Education is the practice of learning. How to learn not what to learn. Lessons should be examples of how to learn. The what is learned builds the library of knowledge
    Plate Tectonics, half a century ago, I became informed was a theory. Unproven. And the words of that great teacher “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
    And a long ago school experience, one such teacher presented the notion that in the world of political science the evil of a Nazi was on a graphic scale to the right of my Constitution. I questioned not for a decade that notion. But reason did with clarity disprove that notion. That teacher may have been under the influence of teaching ‘blind-folded fear’.
    This state bill is not a new concept nor an off the wall legal provision assessment. Experts in legislative process say ‘will probably never see the light of day’. Other States have attempted to do some similar protective custodial legislation.
    The issue is not subject matter, but the authenticity of any Theory to be presented under the ‘blind-folded fear’. An off the wall, at least in those decades ago, elective cultural anthropology teacher presented a controversial Theory. Intelligent design vs the accepted emperical-academic acceptance of Darwin. Intelligent design by this teacher was not biblical but perhaps reason – Alien visitation-genetic manipulation via what we today call DNA-engineering. This teacher did not dwell-preach such outlandish thoughts – he only presented the notion of the possibility of Intelligent Design Theory. How did man originate. Some of the religious Darwinists called his thoughts blasphemous-repent the desecration of Darwin.

  70. Mailman says: “Im sorry but that is a load of bollocks…especially when the main driver for ID is the Discovery Institute, who in turn believe that it is God that is responsible for Intelligent Design…which in turn is reflected in their propaganda.”
    Well, isn’t that the same as saying that CAGW skeptics are all funded by the evil oil companies?
    If there is such a prejudice, then why not associate CAGW with Intelligent Design? That’s actually the basis of their argument.

  71. Alan Cichanski says:
    ” While I believe in evolution, the truth is, whether a dinosaur (or any organism) was created by Biblical creation or natural selection evolution, the dinosaur will have zero impact on the daily life of any human. On the other hand, if the warmists like Gore, Hansen, and Obama ram the whole AGW down our throats and destroy modern society in the name of saving the planet with their stupid unscientific ideas, every human will have his life altered for the worse. ”
    Good point. Darwinism is basically irrelevant to our lives in the here and now. Hansenism and Goreism are not.

  72. Mailman says:
    “In fact, I would go as far to say that climate science as practiced by “The Team” is pretty similar to the science that goes in to creationism…and the defenders of both will move heaven and earth to protect their religion from being examined in any detail that would expose it for what it is.”
    I’d agree with you. However, I would add the Darwinists to the unholy duo. Their social behavior and their fanaticism is exactly as rigid and corrupt as the CAGW fanatics exposed by Climategate.

  73. I value critical thinking skills and work hard to develop these in my two children, ages 5 and 8. Scepticism is an integral component of scientific thought. When it comes to scientific theory such as global warming, I don’t really care what is being taught in public school, as long as the children are being presented with all sides, thus protection of academics’ rights to present these views is very important. My own sceptical opinions on AGW would not cause me to deny my children to be presented with AGW lessons at school. A belief that we need to protect children from ideas that conflict with our own is decidedly anti-science.

  74. Much ado ….
    Wired has *always* been a magazine with a political edge, and it has always tilted left (I knew some its original editors and writers). So for Wired to call CAGW skepticism “anti-science” is no big surprise. Who knows… I let my subscription lapse because of its annoying “edgy” attitude.
    As for the school curricula, I wish they’d just go back to reading, writing, and arithmetic, with a dollop of experimental (empirical) science, astronomy, computer tech, and history thrown in. Bring back Model Rocket Clubs!
    I don’t recall that Darwin or “the environment” were ever a huge part of my junior high (middle) school education, although somehow I learned something about those topics.

  75. One parallel between the Climategate-style abuses and Darwinist abuses is the case of one Martin Gaskell who was denied a major position at the University of Kentucky due to doubts about his Darwinian orthodoxy. Ironically, his job was to be in the field of astronomy, and had nothing to do with biology.
    Gaskell seems to be the Darwinist equivalent of Judith Curry… a believer in the mainstream view, but willing to engage and listen to the opposition. He found out that that was enough to doom him, just out of “guilt by suspicion”.
    There was a lawsuit. The university chose to settle his case for $125,000 rather than lose a lawsuit based upon discrimination against a protected class.
    The parallels between the treatment of suspected Darwinian skeptics and suspected CAGW skeptics reflects the same degree of corruption and loss of scientific integrity. In fact, you might say that the CAGW team treats its “suspected heretics” better than the Darwinists do. Judith Curry still has her job, in spite of allowing Steve McIntyre speak at her university.

  76. Anthony Hughes said “Well, isn’t that the same as saying that CAGW skeptics are all funded by the evil oil companies?”.
    Except unfortunately the truth is that Big Oil doesnt fund climate skepticism anywhere near the scale of the Discovery Institutes bankrolling of creationism.
    What is sad is your desperate grasp at legitimacy through association with skepticism related to Mann Made Global Warming ™. If Creationism was as robust as you believe it is then it wouldn’t need to be associated with climate skepticism.
    Mailman

  77. There’s a world of difference between evolution and “climate change”. I’m all for teaching some weaknesses, but if that means teaching creationism too, hell no. Evolution has firm scientific grounding, AGW does not.

  78. Another parallel between Darwinism and CAGW…
    Warmists claim they need Greenhouse Gas warming to account for late 20th century temperature changes, and there is no credible alternative.
    CAGW skeptics attribute this attitude to a lack of imagination, and a refusal to consider other climate forcings.
    Darwinists claim they need random changes modified by natural selection to account for biological origins, and indeed all of contemporary biology, and there is no credible alternative.
    Darwinist skeptics attribute this attitude to a lack of imagination, and a refusal to consider other biological forcings.
    Are you starting to see a parallel in these social phenomena?

  79. If you even want to compare CAGW theory with evolutionary theory, evolutionary theory would have to make future predictions about what organisms will look like in the far future. If a theory claimed that in the future whales will once again form legs and walk on land based on some computer models and hand waving, then rigorous skepticism would be well justified.

  80. Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel in the 1970’s proposed a hypothesis which became known as “directed panspermia” which essentially states that complex biological molecules such as RNA and DNA arrived on the earth from outside the solar system and furthermore that it must have been directed at the earth by intent.
    Their basis is that life appeared on the earth very soon after it lost enough heat of formation so that liquid water could exist on the surface. The genesis of RNA and DNA is the toughest nut to crack for abiogenisis and it appeared, in Crick and Orgel’s opinion, far too quickly on the earth for an random dance of atoms to have done the job. So they proposed that the universe, being billions of years older than the earth, had more time and opportunity elsewhere for this miracle to have taken place. So they then calculated the odds of a planet light years away exploding or otherwise shedding genetic material and that material surviving the trip and landing intact on the earth’s surface (panspermia). They concluded this too was so improbable as to border on the impossible. So they proposed that the arrival must have been intentional – someone or something intentionally seeded the earth with the rudimentary molecular machinery of organic life.
    Roy Spencer and John Christy of UAH, both deeply involved in climate research and skeptical of the AGW hypothesis, are both Intelligent Design proponents. Not so well known is one of their colleagues at UAH, Rob Sheldon (an astrophysicist who specializes in instrumentation design for exploratory spacecraft) is also an Intelligent Design proponent who came to my attention when I saw an interesting paper he’d written on cometary origin of biological molecules. His thesis is that complex biological molecules and very simple forms of life arise in comets and that these propagate across the galaxy when two stars pass close enough to each other so their Oort clouds (comets that populate the most remote gravitational fringes of stars up to a half-light year away) mingle and perturb each other so that material is exchanged which then rains down upon the inner planets. He further proposes that large evolutionary leaps happen when these Oort cloud encounters occur. He cites as corroborating evidence amino acids which have been found in carbonaceous chondrites (a class of meteorite), organic molecules detected in comets by intercept and intercept/return missions, and also the (controversial) finding of what appear to be fossilized bacteria in a couple of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites found in IIRC Antarctica about 10 years ago.
    My personal opinion is that universe is not only stranger than we imagine it’s stranger than we can imagine so I don’t tend to cling to much of anything as absolute truth but rather put them on a continuous spectrum ranging from nearly impossible to nearly certain. Mud-to-man evolution via random mutation & natural selection I consider to be somewhere between nearly impossible and barely plausible. But because it isn’t quite impossible it may indeed be the truth IMO.
    Many well known climate skeptics are also skeptics of the big accident theory of origin for the universe and living things. There’s a reason for it. Both are bandwagon/consensus science. When scientific theories rely on consensus rather than demonstrable facts one can rest assured that science has left the building and been replaced by dogma. That should raise a red flag wherever and whenever you see it. Science isn’t a democracy where the truth is determined by popular vote. As Einstein said of his many early critics (paraphrased from memory) – “It doesn’t matter how many people believe my theory is wrong as it only requires only one person to prove it is wrong.”

  81. slp,
    your post is so full of fail. Theories do not grow up to be laws. Theory is the highest level of scientific explanation. “Irreducible complexity” has never been shown to be a valid concept in biology.

  82. Being taught to believe something is incorrect. Being taught how to figure out the answers for yourself is correct. Critical thinking skills is a prerequisite.

  83. Juice says:
    “your post is so full of fail. Theories do not grow up to be laws. Theory is the highest level of scientific explanation. “Irreducible complexity” has never been shown to be a valid concept in biology.”
    Just wondering who it is that determines which concepts are valid? Is there one supreme court for biology and another for climate science, or does the same court adjudicate both fields?

  84. Someone mentioned A.C. Clarke. I currently like his theory that the need to seek out a higher power or being (the quest for God) is a product of our mammalian birth process. Having children nearly the same age as Elizabeth, I recall many interactions with our children while they were still in the womb. The music we played through a set of dismantled headphones still calms them to this day. So there is some cognitive ability even in the womb ( although it is likely on a subconscious level). The fetus can sense the presence of the mother, but in no way could it understand what is carrying it. Do we spend the rest of our lives needing/seeking the comfort of a being greater than ourselves? Makes sense to me, but I am still open to all ideas. Having the courage to admit that I may be wrong is very important. This frightens most people.

  85. Mailman says:
    “What is sad is your desperate grasp at legitimacy through association with skepticism related to Mann Made Global Warming ™. If Creationism was as robust as you believe it is then it wouldn’t need to be associated with climate skepticism.”
    Mailman, we disagree on the definition of Intelligent Design. My concept of the term has nothing to do with creation of anything by a God or Gods.
    Personally, I don’t believe in Creationism. I don’t think it is robust.

  86. I have no problem with Darwinism/evolutionism – it probably colors a great deal of my thinking about the nature of the world. What I do object to is the tendency to regard current theory as some sort of ultimate TRUTH. Science is a method of knowing, not a body of immutable knowledge. An educated person should be familiar with both Darwinism and Intelligent Design and be able to discuss and evaluate their strengths and flaws and their contexts.

  87. I am angered that people need to lump you into this category or that category. The fact that Richard Lindzen said something about tobacco once doesn’t automatically make everything else he says wrong. People who oppose Richard Lindzen would very much like this to be true, but it isn’t. It is the weakest of arguments. A strategy I’ve seen implemented against all who do not believe Co2 drives climate. The smear campaign.

  88. The comments at the Wired article got into a truly substantive discussion, which is rare nowadays. Surprised me. The True Believers kept saying things like “How can you do biological work unless you believe in macro-evolution?” … and the real scientists kept replying, “Science doesn’t start with belief, science starts with observation. Macro-evolution has not been observed.”
    The True Believers will never be persuaded, but the real science side, expressed with such clarity, may persuade some people who are arriving to these questions from outside.

  89. No matter what you believe, everyone should read “Origin of Species” by Darwin. Most who are for or against have never bothered to read this book. You may very well be surprised.

  90. Robert E. Phelan says:
    “I have no problem with Darwinism/evolutionism – it probably colors a great deal of my thinking about the nature of the world. What I do object to is the tendency to regard current theory as some sort of ultimate TRUTH. Science is a method of knowing, not a body of immutable knowledge. An educated person should be familiar with both Darwinism and Intelligent Design and be able to discuss and evaluate their strengths and flaws and their contexts.”
    Excellent point. I completely agree.
    The Intelligent Design paradigm says that there are three possibilities. A particular phenomenon may be (1) random in nature, (2) a consequence of a natural law, or (3) an effect of an intelligent designer. This results in a world that contains natural behavior, such as evolution by natural selection in some cases, and intelligently designed artifacts in other cases, such as highly developed strains of wheat.
    For example, one Dr Steig published a study claiming that Antarctic warming was not confined to the Antarctic peninsula, but was happening all over West Antarctica. There was a subsequent paper that showed that Steig’s observations were not natural, but the product of Intelligent Design, i.e., an artifact of his use of statistics.
    Distinguishing natural phenomena from artifacts is what the ID paradigm is all about.

  91. John Marshall says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:46 am
    Indeed, plate tectonics was rather ‘out there’ for quite a while until the research caught up with it and showed that the rocks on either side of various divides, etc, were the same through chemistry, etc. But as an initial theory it was a bloody good theory, which ‘at a stroke’ explained virtually all the geological and land mass forms of our planets surface, the volcanoes, subductions zones, rift valleys, etc, etc.
    CAGW theory explains nothing and certainly does not fit many actual observations. the further difference is that every subsequent bit of (pro)AGW research constantly tries to support the theory with twists and turns, data manipulation(s) and statistical techniques, etc.
    Plate Tectonics was relatively easily proved because it was theoretically very sound. AGW is neither theorectically sound nor easily proved – and hence is the preferred choice for some gigantic ‘control’ mechanism playing on the fears of the innocent masses.
    As a geology student of the late 70’s – I remember Plate Tectonics was pretty well absolutely defined then, but there were still one or two dissenters. After 20 years of AGW we are nowhere (in comparable terms) further forward than when ‘it’ started!
    Consequently, I find it hard to understand why anyone (teacher or otherwise) would want to DEFINE AGW as ‘certain’ and inflict such definition onto young minds. The essence is to teach ‘questioning’ not ‘acceptance’ when imparting scientific knowledge and far more importantly, to at least constantly reiterate the fact that any such ‘postulated’ theory is just that – postulated and NOT proven!

  92. Just wanted to add to my explanation of how Steig’s Antarctic paper was a product of Intelligent Design.
    It was intelligent, in the sense that it resulted from a mind that could analyze and associate various phenomenal events into a structure that was more meaningful than the sum of its parts.
    It was designed to the degree that it served a purpose… bolstering the warmist belief in Global Warming.
    Note this: its purpose was not to add to the sum total of climate knowledge… it was to support a partisan and self-serving point of view. Is that confirmation bias? Yes.
    Is Steig’s paper part of a supernatural revelation? Like the Ten Commandments brought down from the mountain? Well the warmists would like to have that aura of divinity, maybe. But in reality, Intelligent Design is not supernatural, just a display of technology that may or may not baffle us.

  93. Wow – the discussion at Wired is just whack.
    Brilliant scheme, though. Equate people who see the obvious fatal flaws in the manufactured “climate change” thing with those who vociferously argue against Evolution. Since the Evolution/Creation debate is such a hot button, you can write off everything the enlightened have to say.
    Well, the warmists are still running the show by stifling or framing the debate. But unlike Evolution, which is a good theory with plenty of empirical evidence and a strong line of reasoning, AGW is pseudo-science.
    Ironically, the positions are reversed. Science is on the side of Evolution, but AGW is a blind faith position. Some day more Science oriented people will understand the difference.

  94. Some commenters have failed to notice that this is a bill introduced to the New Mexico State Legislature, and not the US Congress. States and their local school boards are in charge of curricula for their schools, not the federal government.
    Teachers should be qualified in the subjects they teach and should allow wide ranging discussion in their classrooms. In our time, there are still many scientific controversies and there is no reason why these should not be discussed — the kids hear rumors and weird stories and these need to be discussed and hashed out with a solid scientific approach so the kids learn how to discern between nonsense, pseudoscience, generally accepted theory, interesting but not definitive study results, newly proposed hypotheses, etc. This has always been the case and should be into the future.
    Subjects long-since believed to be settled, for instance, the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago blamed on a comet or huge meteor strike, are still subject to controversy, with competing views in peer-reviewed papers newly generated on both sides of the issue. No one would dare ‘decree’ that only one of these views should be taught, and that the contrary view should be forbidden.
    High school and college kids need to learn how to find out things: how to find out what’s true, what’s probably true, what’s maybe true, what’s probably not true, and what we’re pretty darned sure isn’t true — for themselves. That’s the end product of a well-rounded education.
    And that’s what should be the GOAL of education: people who can find out the things they don’t already know and who can receive new data and adjust their understanding in light of new evidence, the value of which they have evaluated for themselves.

  95. Anthony Hughes,
    Just trying to summarize your proactive position towards Darwin.
    If you believe that Intelligent Design pertains to the way that living organisms intelligently manipulate their environment, their abilities and their choices about who to help and who to kill and who to mate with, where to live and what to eat, then isn’t your version of “intelligent design” just a subset of Darwinism. There is nothing random about Darwin evolution – the choices that living animals make has a huge impact. You only have to look at the variety of domesticated animals and crops to know that intelligent design has a huge impact in Darwin theory. Just look at the number of males in China compared to females.
    If you believe “intelligent design” is from some other off-worldly power or from the pervasive “force” (as per George Lucas) then I am afraid you are bit wacko, IMHO. I am not surprised that any intelligent Darwinist would argue against this unnecessary complication of Darwin’s beautifully simple theory – Occam’s Razor suggests that this is a totally unnecessary complication.

  96. Jeremy says:
    Just trying to summarize your proactive position towards Darwin.
    If you believe that Intelligent Design pertains to the way that living organisms intelligently manipulate their environment, their abilities and their choices about who to help and who to kill and who to mate with, where to live and what to eat, then isn’t your version of “intelligent design” just a subset of Darwinism. There is nothing random about Darwin evolution – the choices that living animals make has a huge impact.
    Jeremy, I’d like to commend your style. You’re making a sincere effort to understand an opinion, instead of constructing a straw man that you can later argue against.
    I think you misunderstand Darwinism, however. The 3 principles of Darwinism are:
    (1) small incremental change,
    (2) occurring at random,
    (3) with the environment favoring one variety of organism over another (survival of the fittest)
    These principles do not assume proactive survival behavior on the part of the survivors of evolution. They survive merely because a particular mutation is a better fit to the immediate environment.
    Thus, bacteria can gradually evolve a resistance to a specific antibiotic, just through the vast number of individuals and the short time between one generation and the next. If one germ out of a million undergoes a beneficial mutation, its descendants will assume a larger and larger share of the total population, just by the law of averages.
    Intelligent design implies that an organism can in fact learn to take proactive steps to enhance its survival. Bird’s nests, beaver dams, and beehives are examples of Intelligent Design.

  97. The exquisite intricacy of even the simplest forms of life is staggering. Life at its simplest uses a complex, choreographed dance of dozens of enzymes to perform the work needed to harness and tame chemistry: Biology rules over chemistry.
    Life is not chemistry. In fact, the moment biological life takes its boot off the neck of chemistry, chemistry eats the boot – and everything else that enabled life to rule over it.
    Biological life is the intelligent application of energy to employ the toolkit of organic chemistry in carrying out an ordered list of steps to accomplish pre-defined objectives. While organic chemistry is the toolkit of biology, biology uses that toolkit to do things independent of, and even contrary to, basic chemistry.
    There is life, therefore, ipso facto, there is an Intelligent Designer.
    As for the Designer’s name, address, like and dislikes, etc. they are the topics for other threads on other sites.

  98. Anthony Hughes says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:12 am
    “It was intelligent, in the sense that it resulted from a mind that could analyze and associate various phenomenal events into a structure that was more meaningful than the sum of its parts.”
    So, where was this superior mind at the time in question?

  99. Dishman says:
    So, let me see if I’ve got this straight…
    Teaching kids to question by sowing doubt is “anti-science”…?

    As a parent with children enrolled in public school, I can tell you that teaching kids to question at all is pretty much against anything these schools represent. They have become indoctrination centers to shape young minds into “good little robots” … err, “good citizens” … who believe in and trust government unquestioningly.
    You should hear the base ASSUMPTIONS they start with, let alone where they go from there. It’s a common topic of conversation at our house.
    Last semester, my step-daughter was taking “Civics & Economics”. In the course of one discussion, she cited certain statistics that clearly demonstrated a position differing from the teacher’s. The teacher’s response? “I don’t believe those statistics”.
    Your tax dollars at work…

  100. Anthony Hughes says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:55 am
    “Intelligent design implies that an organism can in fact learn to take proactive steps to enhance its survival. Bird’s nests, beaver dams, and beehives are examples of Intelligent Design.”
    Isn’t exactly identical to Lysenkoism?

  101. kwik says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:53 am
    Anthony Hughes says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:55 am
    “Intelligent design implies that an organism can in fact learn to take proactive steps to enhance its survival. Bird’s nests, beaver dams, and beehives are examples of Intelligent Design.”
    Isn’t exactly identical to Lysenkoism?
    No, not at all.

  102. kwik says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:27 am
    Anthony Hughes says:
    February 7, 2011 at 10:12 am
    “It was intelligent, in the sense that it resulted from a mind that could analyze and associate various phenomenal events into a structure that was more meaningful than the sum of its parts.”
    “So, where was this superior mind at the time in question?”
    Probably enjoying a Sam Adams somewhere in the environs of Harvard University.

  103. I believe that the theory of climate change and evolution are comparable. Most agree that climate change and evolution, has happened, is happing and will continue to happen but the science is missing many pieces to both puzzles. Both theories rely on forcings that are poorly understood, very complicated along with the known unknowns more importantly unknown unknowns.
    I believe that in the next few years we all will very surprised with the evolution of both of these theories.

  104. Well, let me say that jocularity with a few trolls aside, I have nothing disparaging to say about Dr Steig’s work. I have no doubt as to his research, objectivity, or his integrity as a scientist. If he supported a specific paradigm in the climate debate, that is natural, beneficial and instrumental in the evolution of the understanding of climate science. Agree or disagree with him, he is a valuable player in the field.

  105. These “skeptical” educators will then be allowed to teach creationist nonsense, along with climate nonsense…
    This is very rightly called an anti-science bill!
    The only thing remarkable is that creationism and “skeptic” climate nonsense are treated together, and in effect, these are two sides of the same far-rightist coin. Creationists are representatives of the Religious Right, “Climate Skeptics” are representatives of the Economic Right.

  106. I’ve read through all the comments on this thread, and have still no clear idea of what Anthony Hughes means by intelligent design. The meme I had picked up from other comments was along the lines that biology is too complex to have arisen randomly, hence the intelligent design. But Anthony talks about ID in the sense of beavers building dams. In what way does that allow complex biological processes to evolve non randomly, or is ID merely a metaphor for something else?

  107. From Peru,
    “These “skeptical” educators will then be allowed to teach creationist nonsense, along with climate nonsense…”
    But climate nonsense is being taught now anyway, so nothing will change in that regard.

  108. Vince Causey says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    “I’ve read through all the comments on this thread, and have still no clear idea of what Anthony Hughes means by intelligent design. The meme I had picked up from other comments was along the lines that biology is too complex to have arisen randomly, hence the intelligent design. But Anthony talks about ID in the sense of beavers building dams. In what way does that allow complex biological processes to evolve non randomly, or is ID merely a metaphor for something else?”
    ID is an alternative pathway for biological forms to come into existence. It does not close the door on classical Darwinist processes of natural selection, but merely adds to it.
    It is true, however, that ID authors such as Michael Behe consider Darwinism to be appropriate only for lower level originations such as the evolution of particular species. In principle, however, this does not close the door on development of more diverse forms of life.
    Let’s look at the origins of DNA. Intelligent Design people believe that cells based on DNA are much more complex than, say, the Windows 7 operating system, and a Darwinian origin for such a beast is pretty unlikely.
    A more practical consideration is this. If we want to understand the architecture of the cell and its DNA, is the Darwinian paradigm more useful than the engineering paradigm? Should we consider the cell as an artifact of a highly advanced civilization that had practical, albeit unknown, purposes for assembling the cell in its particular configuration? Or should we consider it as a hodgepodge, unstructured, the result of random assembly.
    The ID people claim that the former point of view, if we observe it, will teach us much more about basic biology.
    When you get right down to it, science is about practical advantage.

  109. Having had “debating” and debunking of creationists/ID-folks as a hobby for a couple of years, it was…interesting to arrive at WUWT about half a year back. There are quite a few similarities between the creationist “view of things” and way of debate that are mirrored here, only with AGW skepticists in the role of creationists. -The level of debate here is (a little bit) higher than on creationist sites, but still cherry-picking and misrepresentation of opponents run rampant.
    Just an observation.

  110. Now I’d like to play devils advocate here, but to whoever posted this link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tree_of_life_SVG.svg
    Now I’m not a creationist or a Intelligent design believer but according to this tree of life, our closest non primate genetic ancestors are mus musculus and rattus norveigus. Now I’m sure you get from the names we are talking a bit of a jump here. Where is the humanus rattus skeleton? or the Bliarus Rattus. Oh OK we found that one and made him Prime Minister but joking aside. The idea is good but there are huge gaps.. so it is still really just a nice idea even a hundred years later. Adaptation minisculus or evolution maximus. The big problem with discussing this is that even making this post is almost guaranteed to annoy people that would rather ‘let it lie’.

  111. Dave Springer and Anthony Hughes. I have greatly enjoyed your comments. I think Juice made the most astute observation, however. Evolution theory strives to explain the past whereas CAGW theory attempts to predict the future. They are both theories, it’s just that evolution is a much older theory and has a great deal of objective evidence to support it.
    For what it’s worth, I believe in evolution. This theory best explains things in my mind. It is not, however, bulletproof. One of the most difficult aspects of evolution to reconcile is the amount of time necessary for slow, gradual and incremental changes to result in the life forms we see today. We have no yardstick by which to measure the rate of evolution but we can infer a lot from the geologic and fossil records. These do not always support evolution. I reject Creationism and I’m embarrassed to say that I am woefully ignorant about intelligent design (this is something I’ll be reading about very soon). But even as a believer in a time-tested, well-established theory such as evolution, I remain open minded enough to recognize that it IS only a theory and may not necessarily be the ultimate truth.
    Here’s a question. Did domestic cattle, pigs, chickens and dogs evolve into their present form or did mankind make them that way? Do bacteria which develop resistance to certain antimicrobials evolve into new species or are they adapting to a noxious environment? Actually, you can remove the antimicrobial from a population of resistant bacteria and over time they will lose their resistance because this adaptation is no longer beneficial for survival. Did they devolve?

  112. The citizens of each state should craft their own educational policy, as NM is doing here.
    The Feds, and most of all, distant world bureaucracies, should have no role to play in domestic educational policy.
    A treaty with the UN would override state laws and put Congress, foreign law-citing courts, and the United Nation in control of family decisions regarding education.
    The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child is such a treaty. Read about it, and sign a petition to protect parental rights here: The Proposed Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

  113. Here’s a good example of evolution outside of natural selection… the existence of intellectuals.
    It seems that the environment would punish nerds as unfit. Geeks would be at a disadvantage in dealing with the practicalities of survival in a brutal environment and should be selected out and perish.
    But in reality, that is not the case. Why not?
    Intelligent Design is a good explanation. Geeks would normally select each other as mates, and this mate selection would counter the effects of hostility from the physical and social environment. In essence, the environment would be prohibited from selecting them out as unfit. This is, of course, survival of the unfit, in contradiction to Darwinian theory.

  114. Here we go…:)
    Phil M2, what the graph says is, that we Homo Sapiens share a common ancestor with the mouse and the rat, not that these furry little things are our nearest cousins in any sense. This common ancestor existed _many_ millions of years ago, and there are _many_ transitional fossils documenting the evolution of our respective lineages in the time since we diverged.

  115. I would certainly be willing to sign a treaty to abolish the totally corrupt UN! But then who wouldn’t.

  116. Kristoffer Haldrup
    There are many_ transitional fossils..
    Go on then give it a go, I’ll be up for another couple of hours at least.
    Let’s take it in bodyweight steps.
    Your turn.

  117. Kristoffer Haldrup says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm
    “Phil M2, what the graph says is, that we Homo Sapiens share a common ancestor with the mouse and the rat, not that these furry little things are our nearest cousins in any sense. This common ancestor existed _many_ millions of years ago, and there are _many_ transitional fossils documenting the evolution of our respective lineages in the time since we diverged.”
    Hmmmmmm….
    Do you believe the Ipod and the Android had a common ancestor?
    How about the Ford and Chevrolet?

  118. Congratulations, creationists. You’ve come into this thread and given more than enough ammo to the catastrophists.

  119. Anthony Huges
    ”Geeks would normally select each other as mates. ”
    Now that is demonstrably untrue. Who would want to ‘shag’ someone as geeky as oneself. I chose the confident girl with the good athletic body (and larger than average breast size) but that’s just me. But she was a graduate when it actually meant something and certainly not geeky. My ‘subconscious’ genetic decisions have been proven correct by my annoyingly smart children who already have my measure.

  120. Juice says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm
    Congratulations, creationists. You’ve come into this thread and given more than enough ammo to the catastrophists.
    Skepticism of the conventional wisdom is what it is, regardless of the subject.
    And skepticism is the essence of the scientific method.

  121. Hey ‘Juice’ I’m not a creationist or any other kind of ‘ist’.
    I just like to look at the evidence and when it’s lacking, I file it as Bxllshit, hearsay, unproven, gossip or any other file tag you care to use. Let us not forget the wonderful levels of enlightenment that consensus science has given us such as, Flat Earth, Earth center of Universe, Glxxxl Wxxxxxg etc. etc. If you want me to go on I can find another 10-20 at least.

  122. When I say that skepticism is the essence of the scientific method, why is that so?
    It has always been so.
    The primary responsibility of science is to free us of falsity, error, mass delusion.
    If you automatically agree with the mass beliefs, can you really be free?
    We are supposed to accept the warmists at their word because… because they are scientists, they are wise… we should defer to the opinions of our betters.
    All we need to know is that “Science says…” and fill in the blanks.
    The ability to disagree… is the ability to be free.

  123. The only information passed on by Kristoffer Haldrup’s post at 1:25PM PST is anecdotal evidence of a smug attitude. As for his assertion of “cherry-picking and misrepresentation of opponents” – examples please.
    As for his post 15 minutes later airily declaring there are “many transition fossils documenting evolution”, examples please.
    The late Stephen Jay Gould, a prominent evolutionist, wrote this about the paucity of transitional fossils:
    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms is the trade secret of paleontology… The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.’”[S.J. Gould; Natural History 86:14 (1977)

  124. Some biologists say that biology only makes sense within a Darwinist perspective.
    Hmmmmmm…..
    If I am studying the process of arboreal photosynthesis, that is, how chlorophyll converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen… what does that have to do with either Darwin or Intelligent Design? Well, chlorophyll either evolved over millions of years of evolution… or it originated in a laboratory staffed by little green men…
    Either way, we have plants converting sunlight. What’s the difference? How does the obvious phenomenon favor one explanation over another?
    Well, since it doesn’t, then both are equally absurd… or relevant.

  125. Anthony Hughes,
    Ok, I think I get your drift. You say “Should we consider the cell as an artifact of a highly advanced civilization that had practical, albeit unknown, purposes for assembling the cell in its particular configuration? Or should we consider it as a hodgepodge, unstructured, the result of random assembly.” I presume then that your answer to the last question would be in the negative?
    To me, the biggest mystery (apart from the origin of living cells in the beginning) is that for something like 2 billion years before the cambrian, life consisted of the simplest single celled organisms. Nothing happened, nothing changed for 2 billion years. Then, almost miraculously, around 550 mybp there was the cambrian ‘explosion’. Suddenly, all these new body plans just came into existence in just a few tens of millions of years. This was followed by a rapid succession of increasing complexity leading to fish and insects within 100 million years. Within 300 million years you had just about everything up to and including dinosaurs. So what changed 550 million years ago to kick start this biological explosion, that lifted life out of that soup of bacteria?

  126. Phil, I, unfortunately, must get some sleep soon, but here a few key points:)
    Early hominid species, from a good handful of millions of years ago, such as Australopithecus stood 1-1.5 m tall and weighed 20-40 kg. (Johanson and Edey 1981; Johanson and Taieb 1976, Johanson and Edey 1981)
    The somewhat older many-greats grandfather of us primates: Plesiadapis, that weighed in at about two kg and skitted about 50-60 million years ago (Gingerich, 1976)
    -From here on back, fossil evidence of primates is scarce, but fortunately genetic analysis can tell us when the lineages that would eventually end up as rodents diverged from our line. This point is about 90 million years back in time, while the dinos were still roaming happily about. These little mammalian critters in the cretaceous were all about rat-sized, a size which, for the rodent species, was kept mostly unchanged through their subsequent evolution over the next 90 million years.
    Here is a nice overview, I think, although I had to find the body weights from various sources: http://www.fossilrecord.net/dateaclade/clade-human-rat.html
    -I am absolutely sure that this post will not convince you about anything much, but lines of evidence as those sketched here and repeated many times over for all kinds of animals constitutes very convincing evidence of common ancestry. When the fossil record is further coupled with massive amounts of supporting genetic evidence, the “case for evolution” becomes quite clear.
    Good night:)

  127. Trying to debate with a creationist (aka evolution “skeptic”) and with a so-called climate “skeptic”…
    The result can be equally frustating, by refuting any straw man, insults, ad hominem attacks, etcetera that is presented as an “argument” (aka Gish Gallop)…
    The earth is 4 500 000 000 years old, and for all this 4 500 000 000 years CO2 and CH4 had controlled Earth climate. That are established facts that anyone knowing a bit of science should recognize as that.

  128. Peru says:
    February 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm
    “Trying to debate with a creationist (aka evolution “skeptic”) and with a so-called climate “skeptic”…”
    “The result can be equally frustating, by refuting any straw man, insults, ad hominem attacks, etcetera that is presented as an “argument” (aka Gish Gallop)…”
    “The earth is 4 500 000 000 years old, and for all this 4 500 000 000 years CO2 and CH4 had controlled Earth climate. That are established facts that anyone knowing a bit of science should recognize as that.”
    Hello Peru,
    We’ve had a lot of established “facts” in the last 3,000 years, and I don’t know how many, if any, have survived to the present day. It turns out that science, by its very nature, is imprecise, tentative, and very much subject to change when new evidence comes up.
    Science seems to be a game of argument where the losers in any particular round just come back to the game with a new argument in the next round. The fun never stops. The current believers in Darwinism will argue to the bitter end, just as the believers in CAGW, then they will slink away and find a new hobby horse to ride. The fun is in the process, not the outcome.

  129. Phil, I, unfortunately, must get some sleep soon, but here a few key points:)
    Early hominid species, from a good handful of millions of years ago, such as Australopithecus stood 1-1.5 m tall and weighed 20-40 kg. (Johanson and Edey 1981; Johanson and Taieb 1976, Johanson and Edey 1981)
    The somewhat older many-greats grandfather of us primates: Plesiadapis, that weighed in at about two kg and skitted about 50-60 million years ago (Gingerich, 1976)
    It’s all good stuff Kristoffer and I’m keeping an open mind.
    Australopithecus
    This species is known from one major specimen, the Black Skull discovered by Alan Walker, and a few other minor specimens which ‘may’ belong to the same species.
    Can’t you see why I’m remarkably unconvinced by this one skull? Anyhow, got to pop back to Piltdown for a pint.
    Just having fun Kristoffer, don’t take it personally but just trying to illustrate that virtually all of our consensus science it flaky at best. The more that you look into any ‘accepted science’ the more shameful it becomes.
    Bed time for me too.

  130. From Peru says:
    Trying to debate with a creationist (aka evolution “skeptic”) and with a so-called climate “skeptic”…
    The result can be equally frustating, by refuting any straw man, insults, ad hominem attacks, etcetera that is presented as an “argument” (aka Gish Gallop)…

    Personally, my experience has been that debating a creationist and debating a warmist generally result in the same sort of argumentation from either group.

  131. Kristoffer Haldrup says:
    February 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm
    Phil, I, unfortunately, must get some sleep soon, but here a few key points:)
    ………………………………………………………………………………….
    Kristoffer, thanks for fleshing out the Darwinist mythology. I am about as likely to encounter the Gods Zeus and Apollo as I am one of your mythological creatures, but the stories are entertaining, and like any mythology, they communicate some essential truths about the people who believe in them.
    As far as I’m concerned, I’m invested in the here and now. Visions of 500 million years ago are as substantial to me as James Hansen predicting the year 2100. You think I might evolve a set of gills and flippers so I can swim around Manhattan?

  132. The earth is 4 500 000 000 years old, and for all this 4 500 000 000 years CO2 and CH4 had controlled Earth climate. That are established facts that anyone knowing a bit of science should recognize as that.
    Since the formation of the solar system the Sun’s output has increased by about 40%. That’s a fact taught in middle schools.
    Want to try again?

  133. You might argue about the science, but be thankful you now have the freedom to decide these educational matters locally and personally. There is no reason to take that freedom away from others, or otherwise give it up, even if you have disagreements about the particulars – ie science or educational philosophy of the citizens/parents.
    SECTION 1
    The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a
    fundamental right.
    SECTION 2
    Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without
    demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest
    order and not otherwise served.
    SECTION 3
    No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to
    supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.
    Please support this amendment. Sign this petition. http://www.parentalrights.org/

  134. Kristoffer Haldrup says:
    “These little mammalian critters in the cretaceous were all about rat-sized, a size which, for the rodent species, was kept mostly unchanged through their subsequent evolution over the next 90 million years.”
    And what is your explanation for the absence of evolution by natural selection for these 90 million years? Were these rodents perfect thru 90 million years of climate change?

  135. Vince Causey says:
    “So what changed 550 million years ago to kick start this biological explosion, that lifted life out of that soup of bacteria?”
    Excellent question, Vince. There seems to be no reason that evolution was turned off for 500 million years, then inexplicably was turned on.
    The natural conclusion is that evolution by natural selection is an insufficient answer to the question.

  136. Tony says:
    February 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm
    Personally, my experience has been that debating a creationist and debating a warmist generally result in the same sort of argumentation from either group.
    I can understand, Tony. Both movements are religious in nature. On the other hand, Intelligent Design is too close to common sense. Since we have tons of internet millionaires who made their fortunes designing software, ID is pretty unassailable.

  137. I have no idea what this bill is really about (probably some awfully American thing), but it is certainly the duty of a teacher to explain not only what is known, but also reveal the gaping holes in our knowledge. She should be able to utter the magic words “we do not know” whenever appropriate. It is both liberating and instrumental in evoking curiosity.
    So called “Young Earth Creationism” is plain silly and not only from a scientific but also from a theological point of view. Anyone who takes the Bible as the Word of God should be aware of the fact it is expressed in no uncertain terms that days of God are not measured with the same yardstick as days of men.
    “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4)
    And confirmed again in the New Testament:
    “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8)
    Therefore 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years, current estimated age of the universe based on observation and scientific theory is entirely consistent with six days of creation followed by rest.
    And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
    If both scripture & science are taken seriously, these were simply looong days, especially the first one. That’s all.
    This madness has no place in the classroom whatsoever. Beyond that it has nothing to do with evolution as such.
    If you wish, neodarwinian theory simply tries to explain how certain steps of Creation were accomplished (which is not specified in the Bible). As for the false dichotomy of evolution vs. intelligent design, applying an evolutionary algorithm whenever practicable is in itself a pretty smart move (as we are starting to discover in AI research).
    However, true theoretical foundations are still lacking. We still do not understand what are the necessary & sufficient conditions under which replication with some variability and subsequent selection due to limited resources leads to an ever increasing time-bounded Kolmogorov complexity of replicators. This uncertainty should be discussed in the classroom, as it may well be one of the most fruitful directions future research can take. And who else would do that work than our kids (when they grow up, of course)? So we’d better not deny them the knowledge regarding what is unknown right now.
    We also have to emphasize that Darwinian theory only applies (even with some hand waving) if replicators of a certain type with pretty high time-bounded Kolmogorov complexity are already given. Smallest genome size found so far is 80 kbyte (about 40 printed pages). It is Carsonella ruddi, an endosymbiont bacterium living in insects. As most of the biochemical work is done by its host (providing a considerable part of complexity needed for successful replication), a replicator of this complexity is probably too simple to make it on its own.
    As there is this unbelievably wide gap between life and inanimate matter, abiogenesis is still an enigma, a first class scientific enigma for that matter. Even kids should be aware of this fact.
    To approach from a different direction let’s consider the problem of intelligent design. As we do not have the faintest idea if intelligence is unique or widespread in this universe, it is a perfectly legitimate field of research. If we are looking for signs of intelligence out there (and we do), at least we have to be able to tell apart objects that are designed from those that are not. As soon as we will have general and abstract rules to differentiate between the two kind, we’ll be in a position to ask if there’s any designer other than men out there, either inside or outside the universe, but not sooner.
    The notion terrestrial life is unique in the universe is entirely consistent with observation so far. Therefore abiogenesis might have been a true miracle, occurring with arbitrarily small probability even under the most favorable conditions. From the fact we see life around here, no valid inference can be made to the probability of spontaneous development of this particular phenomenon. We only know the conditional probability of the event life appeared somehow provided we are discussing the question right now. That conditional probability is exactly 1. If we observed many biospheres with radically different structural traits, we could start doing statistical analysis, but it is not the case (yet?). As “consistent with” is not synonymous with “follows from”, we simply do not know the universe is full of life (as claimed by some) or empty.
    There are signs of physical laws (or at least constants) being fine tuned to enable life. There is even speculation about some multiverse construct (claimed to be “scientific”) which would make it possible perhaps to apply evolution theory to development of physical laws. However, because all other universes in this multiverse are supposed to be unobservable in principle, this kind of reasoning violates the very foundations of the scientific method beside making a joke of Occam’s razor. The least one can say this myth surely belongs to metaphysics, not Natural Philosophy.
    We don’t even know why some past events are remembered while no one can recall future events. The so called “arrow of time” is a mystery. If we try to connect it to the second law of thermodynamics, we just run into an even more opaque question about why initial entropy of the universe was so small (about 120 orders of magnitude smaller than a value based on educated guess)?
    As for the connection between body & soul, of awareness and the like we don’t even know how the right questions would look like.
    Then comes Heidegger’s famous question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
    We-do-not-know. And it is highly advisable to tell about this ignorance to our kids, otherwise they’d be too easy prey to the wildest possible myths.
    Religion, especially Christianity is not the enemy of science, rather it is the very foundation the marvelous building of Natural Philosophy (which permeates modern life down to its roots) was built on. Contrary to popular belief, there are metaphysical prerequisites of doing science. Both ancient Chinese and European Antiquity developed something resembling science. The Greeks also developed the concept (and practice) of mathematical proof, utterly unknown to other cultures while an indispensable ingredient of science. But neither one of them applied the intricate web of theoretical reasoning closely controlled by experimentation which proved to be so successful since its conception in the European middle ages.
    In order to do science, one needs to believe in the existence of Natural Law (or at least some preexistent regularities), and needs to believe in it unconditionally, otherwise why bother to look for it? Only a madman would look for a pair of shoes under the bed if he believes it’s not there. The first occurrence of the concept ever is in the Corpus Juris Civilis, a compilation of Roman law, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor. It was used there in a slightly different sense we are familiar with, but was gradually transformed into its modern version by great medieval thinkers. And of course they reckoned the very concept of law does not make sense at all without a Legislator. Our present day concept is a bit more obscure than that, but it is still based on pure faith.
    Then comes the concept of objectivity. It is a general requirement in science to be as objective as possible. For the medieval mind of course it made perfectly good sense. It was connected to the requirement of Imitatio Dei (imitating God). In that context to be objective was simply to try to see things through the eyes of God himself. We still try to do that, even if there are attempts to turn the reference point into some hive mind construct (a false god, so to speak). Such an idol is the root of groupthink so often replacing genuine objectivity.
    Here comes the uniquely Christian ingredient.
    “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
    Now, in the Greek original the “Word” is λόγος (Logos), the same root “logic” comes from. Logic was implanted into the world. It may be hidden, but it is there for sure. It is the destiny of man to look for it in every nook and corner. It was a well known fact in medieval Europe and we still stick to it with all our might, even those for whom the memory of the true name is lost. That’s what elevates experimentation to an epistemological level where it can meet theory head on, nothing else. For the ancient Greeks it simply didn’t make any sense. The world beneath the skies used to be the realm of chaos and cruel fate, not logic. Shadows on the walls of a cave.
    One should tell as much about these deep connections to kids as they are able to grasp and more. Otherwise the true spirit of science may get lost in the next few generations along with all its benefits enjoyed in our everyday life.

  138. These state laws which protect freedom within the classroom to point out flaws in current scientific theories are good local initiatives.
    The state laws, unfortunately, would be overridden by a ratification of a foreign treaty under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. All domestic policy would then be determined not by parents, citizens, local governments or states, but by Congress and foreign-law citing judges, in order to enforce UN standards.
    The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child does indeed adress the purpose of education. There is no mention of mathematics, writing, or reading in the listed object of education. But it does explicitly state that the education of the child shall be directed to “respect for the Charter of the United Nations,” and to “(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.”

  139. Berényi Péter says:
    February 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm
    “I have no idea what this bill is really about (probably some awfully American thing), but it is certainly the duty of a teacher to explain not only what is known, but also reveal the gaping holes in our knowledge. ”
    Your entire post is fascinating. I’m going to read it over and over until I completely understand it.
    Thanks.

  140. Berényi Péter says:
    “To approach from a different direction let’s consider the problem of intelligent design. As we do not have the faintest idea if intelligence is unique or widespread in this universe, it is a perfectly legitimate field of research. If we are looking for signs of intelligence out there (and we do), at least we have to be able to tell apart objects that are designed from those that are not. As soon as we will have general and abstract rules to differentiate between the two kind, we’ll be in a position to ask if there’s any designer other than men out there, either inside or outside the universe, but not sooner.”
    This is the SETI search, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
    I think it’s a moot point, since we know there is already intelligent life on planet earth. And yes, William Dembski has already started identifying the rules that identify intelligence from randomity.

  141. One of the things to remember about the creationists is that they see basic religion taught in the classroom in science class in the form of AGW most recently and manmade global cooling before that. And they wonder to themselves why their religion cannot also be taught. And they have a point, for when we allow the religious left to teach their stuff in the public schools everyone else will demand their turn at bat. This is not about science. It is about religion. Cheers –

  142. The law is addressing the wrong problem. In fact a small minority of students are taught about evolution, which is the basic building block of biology. This is due to their concern that parents with a fundamentalist religious orientation would object. This is one of the reasons why America is behind the world in the public school students’ knowledge of science. Most science teachers are not well qualified.
    http://4brevard.com/choice/international-test-scores.htm
    I doubt if many students are taught anything about climatology one way or the other. This is probably because these topics are controversial, and teachers don’t want to have to deal with irate parents.
    This is a big problem. Since 97% of research climatologists accept the idea of AGW, if climate science is going to be taught the students should at least understand the scientific underpinnings of AGW. Once this has been taught, it is OK to examine the ideas of skeptics and the scientific arguments that they make. I have not heard of any teacher who was fired or disciplined for doing this.
    I suspect that states with the lowest performing students will be the ones to adopt such laws. You don’t see things like this considered in states that are at the top of educational heap, like Massachusetts or Vermont.

  143. Up above Dave Springer wrote:
    “re; no books expose weaknesses in evolution theory based on evidence
    If that’s what you think then you haven’t read:”
    Are you sure? 🙂
    As it happens, I have read Behe, and I believe I’ve encountered “Mike Gene” before too. Their arguments are all based on a logical fallacy: an argument from disbelief. They can’t imagine how something might have happened, so that must mean it didn’t happen.
    That said, you also seem to be slightly confused over the nature of “Intelligent Design.” The Dover Panda Trial five years ago demonstrated that whatever you might mean by “intelligent design,” the Intelligent Design movement is a trojan horse for pure biblical creationism.
    Also, like a great many people you misunderstand the nature of the evolutionary process. Yes, it’s effectively impossible for an entire complex cell to assemble out of miscellaneous molecules all at once, just by random chance. But evolutionary theory doesn’t say it happened that way. In point of fact, evolutionary theory, being a theory of biology, requires a living cell as a precondition. Abiogenesis, or the origin of life, is a separate subject. Even so, though, whatever chemical processes produced that first cell weren’t “random chance” either. They obeyed the laws of physics and of chemistry, which can produce stunningly complex molecules and processes from the interplay of relatively simple rules. Much like weather in that respect.
    As for likelihood, consider this: the various ‘abiogenesis’ experiments of the last fifty-odd years have worked with a few hundred gallons of liquid and reagents, for a total time of perhaps a couple of years. Back in the day, Earth had a couple of billion tons of water and reagents, stewing for at least a couple of hundred million years. Who are we to say what’s possible or impossible, based on such limited experience?

  144. One more thing: as a veteran of both the AGW issue and various creationism wars, I’ve pondered long and hard about why I am an AGW skeptic but a fervent defender of evolutionary theory, when (as has been ntoed) all-too-many AGW skeptics sound an awful lot like creationists. I think the main difference is simply this: with evolutionary theory, the evidence is available for all to see and examine, in museums and books and collections and even out in the rocks, all over the world. Anyone can pick up a textbook and look at photographs and sketches of bones and other materials, all drawn from life. Anyone can walk into a museum and examine existing collections of bones and other fossils. Anyone can go out in the field and look for fossils themselves. Anyone can read a basic primer on geology and learn how to read the rocks for themselves. That’s how I did it. If I can do it, you can too.
    But AGW theory isn’t like that. The data, such as it is, is jealously guarded by a small cadre of specialists. They won’t let anyone else see it. They won’t let anyone check their reasoning.
    In short, evolutionary biologists act like I expect scientists to act, and AGW-defenders don’t. Big difference. IMHO, anyway.

  145. Dave Springer: What I don’t believe is that the finely tuned laws of nature are some freak accident that beat nearly impossible odds or that life on this planet and mind-boggling complexity of the molecular machinery in even the simplest living cell is the result of a random dance of atoms in a prebiotic soup. It’s patently absurd
    The last time your raised this bogus argument I referred you to an intractable argument called the weak anthropic principle:
    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/kyle_kelly/wap.html
    But you ignored it.
    Also, life probably evolved not from mud, but from complex hydrocarbons that we call “petroleum.” Some of those pre-biotic organic molecules can be seen on Titan.
    ================
    Anthony Hughes:
    The Intelligent Design paradigm says that there are three possibilities. A particular phenomenon may be (1) random in nature, (2) a consequence of a natural law, or (3) an effect of an intelligent designer.
    Your paradigm (not a scientific theory) includes a creative entity (3) that was … uncaused? Materialized spontaneously from the ether? That evolved elsewhere? That was designed by a designer of designers, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away?
    In other words, what is the origin of your designer?
    “Bird’s nests, beaver dams, and beehives are examples of Intelligent Design.”
    Nest, hives, dams and the acquired shell of an hermit crab are coded into the genes of those creatures.
    A beaver in a laboratory will work frantically with mud to stop the sound of running water coming from ….. a paper speaker cone! Beavers evolved to be distressed by the sound of running water, and to act in ways that reduce stress. A beaver’s dam is an instinctive response to the environment — it is not designed.
    Anyway…. it is not the climate skeptic who worships an Earth goddess.

  146. I would have liked to participate in this debate but my day job would not permit it. I would have argued two points. The first point is that high schools and colleges present Darwinism as seamless. It is not. No non-trivial science is seamless. Darwinism should be presented as a work in progress. It is a work that has suffered some failures and will suffer some more. In my classes, those that take up scientific method, I do a critique of Darwinism from the point of view of science. There is much in Darwinism that is not satisfying and everyone should be made aware of these matters.
    As regards creationists, I am not one. I am also not a classical Darwinist. If we fall into either of these paths, all we do is repeat the 19th century debates. However, some creationists have produced some good criticisms of Darwinism and these criticisms should not be dismissed simply because the authors are creationists. The questions raised by a scientific critique of Darwinism are not questions about the existence of God.
    The second point is that the idea of creating legislation that permits teachers and professors to criticize Darwinism is a very interesting and important idea. It should not permit teachers and professors totally free expression of their own ideas. We do not want to take up religion or metaphysics in biology classes. However, at this time in history, all teachers and professors in America labor under a heavy burden of political correctness. Legislation that will lift this burden is sorely needed. I am reminded of an eminent biologist from the People’s Republic of China who gave an address that was critical of Darwin and met with near hostility from his American audience. To paraphrase him, “In China, one cannot criticize the government and in the USA one cannot criticize Darwin.” I agree. He correctly described the situation on the ground. Yet Darwin is eminently open to criticism on scientific grounds but such criticism is automatically rejected in American high schools and colleges. That is a serious shame.
    How does one criticize Darwin? It is very simple. Perhaps, Darwin’s most important contribution to biology was the insight that similarity of morphology is the best evidence of common descent. This principle is fundamental in biology as it is practiced today. However, it never attained the status of a theoretical formulation but remained what we call a heuristic. The main reason is that it is false. There are creatures who have morphology that is similar to the point of being identical yet they do not share a common ancestor. The fact that a fundamental principle of Darwinian biology is a heuristic rather than a theoretic formulation sets it apart from other sciences. There are many points of diversion.
    So, you are no doubt wondering, is man descended from apes or not. There are many ways to answer this question. One answer is to point out that human consciousness is unique in all of nature. No other living organism possesses human consciousness or something resembling it. Of course, there are behaviorists and others who have explained that behavioral study of human consciousness is sound on methodological grounds. However, none of them have actually advanced the science, showing that human consciousness is in some way not unique to humans. Human consciousness remains an enormous hurdle for Darwinism. Such matters should be taught in biology courses in high schools and colleges. Any legislation that would endorse such teaching over the protests of the brotherhood of biology, I would fully embrace.
    Like all science, Darwinism is not seamless, a finished work, or fully satisfying.

  147. wolfwalker says:
    February 7, 2011 at 3:45 am
    Actually, this is quite simple. Any of these observations would falsify evolutionary theory:
    * a fossil record that was not sequential. The real fossil record is highly sequential, with fossils always being found in basically the same sequence over and over, all across the world.

    Then you are obviously unaware of the so-called Lewis Overthrust, where older fossils are on top of younger ones. To fit the evolution paradigm, some means of inversion is required. But even though no evidence of overthrust can be found, such as a layer of gravel resulting from movement between adjacent layers, it remains the only means of explaining the impossible. Same rules the Hockey Team apply the to the AGW paradigm.
    You never see advanced organisms appearing before anything that might have been their ancestor, such as rabbits in the Triassic.
    What about Dr Clifford Burdick, who found pollen grains in the PreCambrian bedrock of the Grand Canyon? At first it was thought the samples had been contaminated, but it was subsequently shown that the pollen came from extinct species. Care to actually study the science before rabbiting on about “settled evolution”?
    * organisms that were clearly hybrids betwen two radically different forms of life — mermaids, griffins, centaurs
    If you really want some fantasy to laugh at, you might appreciate that dinosaurs come in two classes — ornitho- or bird-hipped and those with lizard hips. No prize for guessing which ones evolved into birds. That’s right, the lizzie types are now birds (supposedly) and the ornitho types are — um — not. Look at the science and you might see a similarity to the AGW hype.
    * organisms that used a radically different genetic code from all others. Almost all living organisms use the same genetic code. Those that don’t, use a code that is only slightly different.
    Since when should creationists expect to find a radically different genetic code? You’re making an unreasonable assumption and hoping to force it upon the whole world in the same manner as an AGW proponent. Why do those with an evolutionary bent feel justified in hiding the decline science behind creationism?

  148. Anthony Hughes states, “Intelligent design implies that an organism can in fact learn to take proactive steps to enhance its survival. Bird’s nests, beaver dams, and beehives are examples of Intelligent Design.”
    So I see we are in agreement. To me this is Darwinism to a tee. I think you are seeing the old definitions, as defined by Darwin many years after his Galapagos trip, in too narrow a sense.
    I am sure most people will agree that there is little difference in Darwin terms between physical attributes (resistance to antibiotics) and an intelligent mind that can be proactive in such a way that it affects offspring, commits genocide or such that it “engineers” a pest resistant crop (all of which are actions that directly impact evolution).
    Honestly I see no great divide between intelligent design (as you call it) and Darwin’s classic, more physical attributes as described in his works. Even intelligent design must MUST obey Darwinian rules that define success in terms of the future generations they create or manipulate.

  149. Anthony Hughes,
    BTW – I would add that, at then end of the day, the fundamental creature that life is mostly all made up from is DNA/RNA. Large multi-cellular creatures like us may look very different from bacteria but don’t be fooled – as far as DNA/RNA is concerned we are just two versions (models) from the same “Ford” genetic motor company of life. Very very little difference really – DNA/RNA cares little which particular version (model) proves most popular and outlasts the other as long as the big wheel keeps turning.

  150. For those poor souls who still imagine that Intelligent Design is scientific:

    After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.
    Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (9:19-22 (Haught); 5:25-29 (Pennock); 1:62 (Miller)). This revolution entailed the rejection of the appeal to authority, and by extension, revelation, in favor of empirical evidence. (5:28 (Pennock)). Since that time period, science has been a discipline in which testability, rather than any ecclesiastical authority or philosophical coherence, has been the measure of a scientific idea’s worth. (9:21-22 (Haught ); 1:63 (Miller)). In deliberately omitting theological or “ultimate” explanations for the existence or characteristics of the natural world, science does not consider issues of “meaning” and “purpose” in the world. (9:21 (Haught); 1:64, 87 (Miller)). While supernatural explanations may be important and have merit, they are not part of science. (3:103 (Miller); 9:19-20 (Haught)). This self-imposed convention of science, which limits inquiry to testable, natural explanations about the natural world, is referred to by philosophers as “methodological naturalism” and is sometimes known as the scientific method. (5:23, 29-30 (Pennock)). Methodological naturalism is a “ground rule” of science today which requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based upon what we can observe, test, replicate, and verify. (1:59-64, 2:41-43 (Miller); 5:8, 23-30 (Pennock)).
    As the National Academy of Sciences (hereinafter “NAS”) was recognized by experts for both parties as the “most prestigious” scientific association in this country, we will accordingly cite to its opinion where appropriate. (1:94, 160-61 (Miller); 14:72 (Alters); 37:31 (Minnich)). NAS is in agreement that science is limited to empirical, observable and ultimately testable data: “Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are restricted to those that can be inferred from the confirmable data – the results obtained through observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation. Explanations that cannot be based upon empirical evidence are not part of science.” ( P-649 at 27).
    This rigorous attachment to “natural” explanations is an essential attribute to science by definition and by convention. (1:63 (Miller); 5:29-31 (Pennock)). We are in agreement with Plaintiffs’ lead expert Dr. Miller, that from a practical perspective, attributing unsolved problems about nature to causes and forces that lie outside the natural world is a “science stopper.” (3:14-15 (Miller)). As Dr. Miller explained, once you attribute a cause to an untestable supernatural force, a proposition that cannot be disproven, there is no reason to continue seeking natural explanations as we have our answer. Id.
    ID is predicated on supernatural causation, as we previously explained and as various expert testimony revealed. (17:96 (Padian); 2:35-36 (Miller); 14:62 (Alters)). ID takes a natural phenomenon and, instead of accepting or seeking a natural explanation, argues that the explanation is supernatural. (5:107 (Pennock)). Further support for the conclusion that ID is predicated on supernatural causation is found in the ID reference book to which ninth grade biology students are directed, Pandas. Pandas states, in pertinent part, as follows:
    Darwinists object to the view of intelligent design because it does not give a natural cause explanation of how the various forms of life started in the first place. Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly, through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.
    P-11 at 99-100 (emphasis added). Stated another way, ID posits that animals did not evolve naturally through evolutionary means but were created abruptly by a non-natural, or supernatural, designer. Defendants’ own expert witnesses acknowledged this point. (21:96-100 (Behe); P-718 at 696, 700 (“implausible that the designer is a natural entity”); 28:21-22 (Fuller) (“. . . ID’s rejection of naturalism and commitment to supernaturalism . . .”); 38:95-96 (Minnich) (ID does not exclude the possibility of a supernatural designer, including deities).

    That’s from Kitzmiller v Dover School Board, when the leading lights of ID tried and failed to demonstrate that ID was anything more than religious belief masquerading as science.
    As I recall, Behe managed to widen the net of science so far as to include astrology.
    If a theory cannot be empirically tested or be formulated to produce unique predictions which can be empirically tested, then the theory is unfalsifiable and not science. That excludes creationism and ID.

  151. There is a widespread ambiguity in the meaning of the term “evolution”. Quite often it is just the origin of humans from ape-like ancestors. For others, it is a general notion that more advanced species arose from more primitive ones in course of natural history. And more often it is the theory explaining fossil record data by a specific mechanism of natural selection and random mutation, that is, Neo-darwinism. While the the first two meanings of the term are hardly controversial, the third – completeness and universality of Neo-darwinian explanation – is, indeed, controversial, and there are many valid doubts if this explanation is sufficient. I see no objection for teachers to inform students that many problems with this explanation are still unresolved.

  152. There is also another widespread confusion in the meaning of the term “anti-science”. To many, any doubt in sufficiency of scientific method in explaining observable reality is “anti-science”. But there are inherent limitations in applicability of scientific method, and denial of these limitations is not science, but a specific philosophy named scientism. Skeptics are right in opposing such brainwashing of students and noting that assuming of absence of supernatural intervention in course of observable events is not a conclusion of science, but its premise, and science in itself can not resolve metaphysical problems, which are articles of faith. For complex, large, non-linear systems of real world that can exhibit chaotic behavior, like biologic evolution or evolution of climate, it still unclear if scientific method can provide enough tools for their complete explanation, or some extra-natural forces can influence and shape their development.

  153. John A says:
    February 8, 2011 at 1:28 am
    If a theory cannot be empirically tested or be formulated to produce unique predictions which can be empirically tested, then the theory is unfalsifiable and not science. That excludes creationism and ID
    Thank you, that needed to be said.
    I’m not sure it excludes CAGW though 🙂

  154. It would be helpful to raise open-minded people if teachers could explain that both naturalism and supernaturalism are philosophies, and while it is natural for scientists to embrace naturalism, this is not a logical necessity, but a choice of convenience. For moralists, on the other hand, it is natural to embrace supernaturalism. Both approaches are legitimate, each in its own sphere, and validity of atheism or theism simply is not a problem which science can resolve.

  155. Slacko, you prove my point: all creationist arguments against evolution are based on bad information, bad logic, or both.
    * The Lewis Overthrust does indeed show physical evidence of overthrusting:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/lewis/
    * Cliff Burdick’s claims about pollen are debunked here:
    http://asa.chm.colostate.edu/archive/asa/199709/0101.html
    * The terms ‘lizard-hipped’ (saurischian) and ‘bird-hipped’ (ornithischian) are misnomers that should never have been. Every dinosaur worker knows this. Every dinosaur worker also knows that the resemblance between an ornithischian dinosaur’s pelvis and a bird’s pelvis is superficial. And that it’s relatively easy to get from a saurischian pelvis to a bird pelvis — all you have to do is rotate the pubis backwards about ninety degrees. This change is seen in partial form (rotation of less than 90 degrees) in several advanced species of theropod dinosaurs.
    “Since when should creationists expect to find a radically different genetic code? ”
    I never said they should. I said that multiple radically different genetic codes was an observation that would falsify evolutionary theory. Which it is.

  156. John A says:
    February 8, 2011 at 1:28 am
    “If a theory cannot be empirically tested or be formulated to produce unique predictions which can be empirically tested, then the theory is unfalsifiable and not science. That excludes creationism and ID”
    One testable theory would be that a rise in temperature is not a natural phenomenon, but the result of Intelligent Design. What kind of Intelligent Design? Well, the Urban Heat Effect. So how do we test this theory? By trying to find a correlation between level of economic development and temperature. I think Michaels and McKittrick did a pretty good try at testing that theory.
    Intelligent Design is not a particular theory, but a paradigm, out of which particular theories can be derived and tested.

  157. When we do science…
    We need to determine, on a case by case basis, whether a particular phenomenon is natural, an artifact of Intelligent Design, or a mixture of the two, and to what degree.
    For example, a climate model. The modeler may claim that his model is a pure simulation of the natural climate system. Skeptics would argue that the model is merely reflecting the Intelligent Design built in by the many arbitrary parameters the modeler set.

  158. I encourage you to review what is known about the universal source of biological energy, the macromolecule ATP, and the complex, integrated, regulated system that produces it, along with the near perfect nanomachine that pumps it out – ATP Synthase, a synchronized pair of rotary motors operating at near 100% efficiency.
    For me, the outcome of that review was this: Abiogenesis and macro-evolution are merely the creation myth of the willfully obtuse who refuse to believe the patently obvious because of the implications thereof.
    Since ATP, and all that pertains to it, represents a highly evolved system, and since ATP is such a fundamental (and literally vital) building block of life on Earth, where did life get the energy it needed during the millions of years it took to slowly devise ATP by the random appearance of stray mutations? And, if life had a source of energy reliable enough to power it through thousands of millenia as the ATP system slowly rose out of the stew, then why would life waste such a prodigious amount of energy and time developing ATP?

  159. Anthony said;
    “Excellent question, Vince. There seems to be no reason that evolution was turned off for 500 million years, then inexplicably was turned on.
    The natural conclusion is that evolution by natural selection is an insufficient answer to the question.”
    How is this any different from alarmists who say that because they dont know why the planet is warming therefore it must be warming due to mann made global warming ™?
    If the alarmists argument is from ignorance…then so too is the creationists argument that there must be a intelligent designer because they cant find any other reason for the explosion in life all those years ago.
    Mailman

  160. Mooloo:
    “Climate sceptics should be careful not to align themselves with the creationists. It makes us looks like cranks.”
    You should tell that to the creationists and strongly religious Christians. As groups, they are more likely to be climate skeptics.

  161. Matt Schilling,
    “where did life get the energy it needed during the millions of years it took to slowly devise ATP by the random appearance of stray mutations?”
    An interesting point, although using this as an argument for intelligent design or whatever you want to call it, is the logical fallacy of argumentium ad ignoratum. The argument also suffers from the ‘bootstrap’ problem – if life needed to be bootstrapped into existence because it is impossible for ATP to have evolved randomly, then who bootstrapped the bootstrapper, since it too must be subject to the same rules?
    So, a natural explanation for ATP cannot be impossible because ATP exists.

  162. John A says:
    February 8, 2011 at 1:28 am
    “If a theory cannot be empirically tested or be formulated to produce unique predictions which can be empirically tested, then the theory is unfalsifiable and not science. That excludes creationism and ID”
    Intelligent Design is the null hypothesis for the unintelligent abiogenesis/macroevolution.
    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If the null hypothesis isn’t “science” then neither is primary hypothesis as there is then no means to falsify it.

  163. Mailman says:
    February 8, 2011 at 5:37 am
    Anthony said;
    “Excellent question, Vince. There seems to be no reason that evolution was turned off for 500 million years, then inexplicably was turned on. “The natural conclusion is that evolution by natural selection is an insufficient answer to the question.”
    This is a significant issue, Mailman, namely why does natural selection happen some of the time and not all of the time? Obviously, it cannot be the only biological driver in play.
    Whether that additional driver was natural or artificial is another issue. But it is clear that natural selection in and of itself is not sufficient to explain the past.
    We have a similar situation in climate science, where Greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide, is claimed to be the principal climate driver. Well, if it were, then we would have a steady increase in global temperature, consistent with a steady increase in carbon dioxide. But that is not what we observe in the temperature record. Thus, we conclude that there must be other drivers, other forcings, that affect climate, whether natural or artificial.

  164. Good stuff, Theo Goodwin.
    The most sensible posting on this topic that I’ve read; especially liked the following:
    I am reminded of an eminent biologist from the People’s Republic of China who gave an address that was critical of Darwin and met with near hostility from his American audience. To paraphrase him, “In China, one cannot criticize the government and in the USA one cannot criticize Darwin.”
    It is the categorical nature of Darwinism – in whatever form it takes – that has to be questioned,
    What I can’t get my head around is the numbers thrown around for evolution. 50 million, 90 million, 550 million, 50 billion, years. These are meaningless to me. I simply can’t comprehend waht they really mean.
    Does anyone else have trouble making sense of such numbers?

  165. Vince Causey says:
    February 8, 2011 at 6:11 am
    Matt Schilling,
    “where did life get the energy it needed during the millions of years it took to slowly devise ATP by the random appearance of stray mutations?”
    “An interesting point, although using this as an argument for intelligent design or whatever you want to call it, is the logical fallacy of argumentium ad ignoratum. The argument also suffers from the ‘bootstrap’ problem – if life needed to be bootstrapped into existence because it is impossible for ATP to have evolved randomly, then who bootstrapped the bootstrapper, since it too must be subject to the same rules?”
    No, Vince, if you claim that random mutation created ATP, you must explain the source of energy. Otherwise, your claim is incomplete and flawed.
    On your second point, the ultimate origins question, that is irrelevant to the existence of Intelligent Design. There is nothing in the formal definition of ID that says that a designer created the physical universe, life, or any particular phenomenon.

  166. Vince Causey says “A natural explanation for ATP cannot be impossible because ATP exists.” That is a religious statement. It is the expression of a desire, not a statement of fact.
    Next, he says “the bootstapper” – it – “must be subject to the same rules.” Again, this is a religious statement and wishful thinking. It is also further anecdotal evidence of willful obtuseness – as though Causey was unaware that an author of a novel sits outside of his novel and the painter is other than her painting.
    In fact, evolution is based on stray mutations, occurring completely (and rarely) by chance, conferring an advantage to the lucky living mutants carrying them. I mention “living” mutants because life requires energy – harnessed energy applied in intelligent ways to accomplish an ordered set of tasks to arrive at a predetermined goal. Since life already had such a ready supply of energy, there would be no advantage for undertaking the loooong tedious process of developing an entirely new source. And, there certainly would be no advantage in hauling around the large, useless pieces of a half-baked portion of such a system for thousands of millennia.
    All the clever posturing and soaring technobabble of evolutionists is meant to misdirect and change the subject: Life on Earth is the exquisite masterpiece of a master craftsman.
    The dominant paradigm of all professional programming languages in use today is Object Oriented Programming (OOP). Two of the main pillars of OOP are polymorphism and inheritance. Evidence of these in code is proof of intelligent design (as opposed to sloppy, inefficient, haphazard spaghetti code). The evolutionist sees them in nature and says they are evidence of random naturalism; veritable proofs against intelligent design. The illogic of such thinking is awesome to behold and virtually impossible to overcome.
    Life being examined by an evolutionist is like a lovely, talented, charming woman spending hours preparing for a blind date, carefully attending to her outfit and hair and aroma and nails and shoes and purse, until all just so. Finally, she glides gracefully into the view of her date, only to find he is a grunting brute who promptly clobbers her over the head with a club and drags her back to his cave.
    Someone once coined a poignant phrase that is incredibly apt for describing the act of displaying all the splendor of life on Earth to an evolutionist. It goes something like this: “Casting pearls before swine.”

  167. Colin says:
    February 8, 2011 at 7:01 am
    Good stuff, Theo Goodwin.
    The most sensible posting on this topic that I’ve read; especially liked the following:
    I am reminded of an eminent biologist from the People’s Republic of China who gave an address that was critical of Darwin and met with near hostility from his American audience. To paraphrase him, “In China, one cannot criticize the government and in the USA one cannot criticize Darwin.”
    It is the categorical nature of Darwinism – in whatever form it takes – that has to be questioned,
    I agree, Colin. Darwinians have the sociological behavior of religious fanatics, ready to burn heretics at the stake. Their beliefs are as weird as their scientific integrity is lacking.

  168. wolfwalker says:
    February 8, 2011 at 3:10 am
    “I said that multiple radically different genetic codes was an observation that would falsify evolutionary theory. Which it is.”
    No. At best it support a theory of multiple independent origins of life i.e. no universal common ancestor but rather some number of common ancestors.
    The “theory” of evolution in dispute is that everything we observe in the universe today is the result of a random dance of matter and energy governed by laws of physics which themselves were randomly generated at the ostensible singularity which blossomed into the observable universe.
    It is axiomatically presumed that matter preceded mind and there was no intelligent agency acting before or during the singular event at the beginning of time. This presumption is based on faith and faith alone. It is therefore a religious belief every bit as much as the belief in some kind of eternal deity.
    There is no “theory” of evolution. There are hypotheses of evolution that have been tested and failed and hypotheses that have yet to be tested. To present an atheistic theory of evolution as fact by authority figures in K-12 public education is a travesty. Teach it as a prevailing but unproven hypothesis or don’t teach it at all. Micro-evolution such as the observed ability of pathogenic bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics through random mutation and natural selection doesn’t present the same problem. If we stick to the facts and avoid the conjectural extrapolation of the facts i.e. the same mechanism where a bacteria acquires antibiotic resistance can turn a bacteria into a babboon then we’ll be staying within the confines of good science and not venturing into faith-based origin narratives.

  169. Evolution best explains the life we see on this planet, and the fossil record. Is it perfect? No. ID is simply an appeal to a higher authority, for which there is no evidence of existence, therefore it explains nothing except the beliefs of the proponent.

  170. Matt Schilling says:
    February 8, 2011 at 4:56 am
    I encourage you to review what is known about the universal source of biological energy, the macromolecule ATP, and the complex, integrated, regulated system that produces it, along with the near perfect nanomachine that pumps it out – ATP Synthase, a synchronized pair of rotary motors operating at near 100% efficiency.
    For me, the outcome of that review was this: Abiogenesis and macro-evolution are merely the creation myth of the willfully obtuse who refuse to believe the patently obvious because of the implications thereof.
    Since ATP, and all that pertains to it, represents a highly evolved system, and since ATP is such a fundamental (and literally vital) building block of life on Earth, where did life get the energy it needed during the millions of years it took to slowly devise ATP by the random appearance of stray mutations? And, if life had a source of energy reliable enough to power it through thousands of millenia as the ATP system slowly rose out of the stew, then why would life waste such a prodigious amount of energy and time developing ATP?

    There are a number of different chemical theories regarding the origin of life, that do not rely on Intelligent Design. They are discussed in the following link:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/originoflife.html
    According to this article, ATP is not an essential ingredient for the earlier simple life forms:
    It is just that in this scenario, the initial metabolism would have been much simpler than today’s metabolism: Among others, energy metabolism could have been replaced by passage of activated building blocks for molecules from the outside environment into the vesicle (in a sense providing a preliminary substitute for modern-day ATP production, a possibility in view of the simple metabolism), and lipid metabolism, building of membrane structure and its regulation during replication would have been replaced by simple vesicles plainly obeying physico-chemical forces.
    The people who are pushing the idea that life is impossible without Intelligent Design, in general are not scientists. If they were, they would have studied the extensive literature on the origin of life, and understand that the theory of Irreducible Complexity is not correct. They are religious ideologs.

  171. Kristoffer Haldrup says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Having had “debating” and debunking of creationists/ID-folks as a hobby for a couple of years, it was…interesting to arrive at WUWT about half a year back. There are quite a few similarities between the creationist “view of things” and way of debate that are mirrored here, only with AGW skepticists in the role of creationists. -The level of debate here is (a little bit) higher than on creationist sites, but still cherry-picking and misrepresentation of opponents run rampant.
    Just an observation.

    Unfortunately Kristoffer, you are right for the most part, threads like this, though fascinating, do not help the climate skeptic cause. However, I have noticed that the posters involved on creationist/intelligent design-type threads are mostly not the usual climate-oriented posters, and, as you say, the level of debate is generally high though I have noticed that some people are prone to attempting to distort what one has said in order to win debating points.
    At it’s best, intelligent design seems to have adopted the ideas of evolution theory, except invoking something to give it a crank at the start to get the whole thing going, the ultimate deus ex machina . Of course, the counter to that is “Where did that entity come from?” It’s like the mythical turtles that hold the world stacked one on the other, all the way down…
    The creationist is like a baby,clutching his god, screwing his eyes shut to avoid seeing the expanse of time stretching many times farther back than his 6000 years, while the intelligent design aficionado, much more worldly and sophisticated, can hop along the stepping stones crossing the brook of science, but still needs the comfort of the hand of his deity.
    Investigation of physics and chemistry related to DNA/RNA will eventually show us the likely process through which life evolved.
    People who think AGW is significant and potentially catastrophic tend to imagine humanity is much more important and significant than it really is, much like the attitude that demands the existence of a creator that made this world for us.

  172. Darwinism… a religious creation myth for atheists, agnostics, the irreligious and the intellectual.

  173. Anthony Hughes says:
    February 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Darwinism… a religious creation myth for atheists, agnostics, the irreligious and the intellectual.

    Darwinism has nothing to do with “creation.”
    Mark

  174. Anthony Hughes says:
    February 8, 2011 at 8:19 am
    Darwinism… a religious creation myth for atheists, agnostics, the irreligious and the intellectual.
    Mark T says:
    February 8, 2011 at 8:43 am
    Darwinism has nothing to do with “creation.”
    My Reply:
    That may be true. However the Darwinists cling to it as a religion that gives them ammunition against the culture of Christianity.
    Mark

  175. So… is Darwinism a legitimate scientific postulate…
    Or is it just a refuge from somebody who had a bad time in Sunday school?
    If it’s the latter, well I hope the Darwinist straightens out his conflicts with organized religion.

  176. eadler writes: “According to this article, ATP is not an essential ingredient for the earlier simple life forms”. Well, gee, I guess that settles that. I particularly enjoyed “energy metabolism could have been replaced by…” and “a possibility in view of…”
    Yet, the theory of evolution must be able to explain what is, and what “is” is this: The only molecule as pervasive as ATP, and more essential to life on earth than ATP, is DNA. Even that second statement could be disputed. After all, DNA is merely an inert library of encoded information. It is the complex, intertwined, intelligent actions of macromolecules upon DNA that constitutes “life”. And, those exquisitely integrated macromolecules are all energized by ATP.
    Explaining the tedious development of an essential, complex object that is fundamental to the existence of the very entity slowly developing it requires something a little more substantial than “could haves” and “possibilities”.
    Life on earth is a soaring, whirling dance of nimble nanomachines in the presence of a massively large encoded dataset. No nanomachines, no dance; no go-juice for the nanomachines, no dance; no dance, no life.
    I present an evolutionist with the fatally flawed illogic of his pet theory that, in essence, says “That work of art painted itself – after creating the easel on which it sits” and his only recourse is to tell “just so” bed time stories.

  177. It is axiomatically presumed that matter preceded mind and there was no intelligent agency .” – Dave Springer
    It follows from having every compartment of your mind completely shut down by the physical effects of a general anesthetic that “mind” or “consciousness” is a physical process, not some ineffable mystery. Cognitive processes evolved because they benefit the genes that built them. Pain, for example, is cognitive process that orientates an animated organism away from a threat to its integrity.
    The irreducibly complicated and unaccountable designer is not the null hypothesis: it is a supernatural plea that has no place in science.

  178. Matt Schilling says:
    February 8, 2011 at 10:38 am
    “Too bad Khwarizmi hadn’t read about this man prior to his comment at 10:13AM PST “Man in ‘coma’ for 23 years was awake all along
    “Also, “axiomatically presumed” is a fancy way of saying “religious belief”. It has proven to be very a useful phrase for those allergic to the word ‘religion’ in all its variations.”
    Haha… very apt comment, Matt…

  179. Mac says:
    Mooloo:
    “Climate sceptics should be careful not to align themselves with the creationists. It makes us looks like cranks.”
    You should tell that to the creationists and strongly religious Christians. As groups, they are more likely to be climate skeptics.

    Personally, I rather suspect it has something to do with the very strong human drive to believe in SOMETHING. Those who don’t have a religion to satisfy that need find something else (the State, Al Gore, whatever) to fulfill it.
    In the end, true objectivity is quite difficult – most of us aren’t even aware we HAVE biases, let alone are aware of what those biases may be.

  180. Khwarizmi ,
    If you think you’re just a machine, I’ll take you at your word.
    The Declaration of Independence has the text:
    “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”,
    does that include you? Should you have civil rights? After all, you didn’t have a creator.

  181. Rene Descartes was supposed to have said “I think, therefore I am”.
    A religious Darwinist, however, considers mind as an illusion, just electrochemical messages in the brain.
    Therefore, the Darwinist should say… I only think I think, therefore I only think I am”.

  182. Tony says:
    February 8, 2011 at 11:01 am
    “Personally, I rather suspect it has something to do with the very strong human drive to believe in SOMETHING. Those who don’t have a religion to satisfy that need find something else (the State, Al Gore, whatever) to fulfill it.”
    Good point, Tony.
    They say that those who do not believe in something, are likely to believe in anything.

  183. Anthony H,
    I suppose you’re right. After all, I recall hearing Ann Coulter say that the founders never meant for the US to be equal for atheists – it was only equal for “christians”. We atheists aren’t even people, so why bother treating us like we are?
    Anthony Watts & mods:
    Perhaps I shouldn’t have engaged in this one, so I am most likely equally to blame, but this is really not the sort of debate I’ve come to expect around here. I’m disappointed it has gone in this direction.
    I will do my part and bow out now.

  184. Jeff Alberts says:
    February 8, 2011 at 8:00 am
    “Evolution best explains the life we see on this planet, and the fossil record.”
    ID doesn’t dispute “evolution” if you define evolution descent with modification.
    It’s the mechanism behind the modification that is in dispute. A mechanism that has been observed – random mutation plus natural selection – is constrained by actual observations. It has never been observed generating novel structures that distinguish kingdom from kingdom, phyla from phyla, class from class, order from order, family from family, and genus from genus. Actual observation of RM+NS generating even novel new species is controversial and probably hasn’t happened in recorded history if we use the biological definition of species where two populations are physically incapable of producing fertile offspring.
    The best evidence of the limits of RM+NS is in the well studied prolific organism p.falciparum (malaria parasite) a eukaryote with a smallish 26mbp genome which reproduces in such great numbers (both sexually and asexually) that a single population within one infected human will statistically cycle through every possible single point mutation in the quest for fitness improvement. With over 100 million people infected by it every year the number of opportunities for this organism to evolve through RM+NS is staggeringly high. Every single year there are more individual p.falciparum organisms than the entire number of reptiles and mammals that have ever lived. In all those great number of reproductive events p.falciparum has done just about nothing significant in evolutionary terms. It failed to find a way to survive temperate winters, it failed to develop a means to digest human hemoglobin with the sickle-cell mutation, but it easily managed to acquire resistance to anti-malarial drugs where the resistance required only a single point mutation, it barely over a period of decades managed to acquire resistance to anti-malarials which require two or more specific point mutations, and in those cases where it acquired the resistance it quickly loses the resistance in the absence of the anti-malarials because the required mutations make it less fit than unmodified organisms in the absense of the drugs. Indeed, all the resistance mutations we observe in all human pathogens work this way – they are quickly lost once the selection pressure for them goes away.
    This observation of p.falciparum, probably the most studied single organism in history other than humans, represents the largest test of RM+NS’ capacity to produce novel new structures and where, in an order of magnitude more opportunities than reptiles had to produce the novel differences between reptiles and mammals, p.falciparum labored mightily and produced nothing significant – no significant evolutionary change took place at all. Meanwhile the dogmatic Darwinians try to tell me, with a straight face, that with far less opportunity for evolutionary change, reptiles produced all the myriad novel anatomical structures and biochemical pathways that distinguish reptiles from mammals. Sorry, I don’t buy it. It doesn’t even seem plausible to say nothing of probable that RM+NS could have accomplished that.

  185. Great discussion! My 2¢: If they had this proposed New Mexico law in the 1930’s, maybe the eugenisc movement would have been sidetracked.

  186. “Actual observation of RM+NS generating even novel new species is controversial and probably hasn’t happened in recorded history if we use the biological definition of species where two populations are physically incapable of producing fertile offspring.”
    Don’t bet on it. You’ll lose.
    “p.falciparum labored mightily and produced nothing significant – no significant evolutionary change took place at all. ”
    Because, as you yourself point out, it didn’t have to. Evolution requires selective pressure. No selective pressure, no evolutionary change. Obviously Plasmodium falciparum isn’t under any significant pressure to change, because its current form allows it to reproduce quite adequately.
    On the other hand, take a lizard from its accustomed habitat and put it somewhere else where it has reason to evolve, to exploit new resources … and waal, waal, fancy that — it evolves.
    As for the rest of this thread … [sigh] Eugenics, insults, baseless accusations and ad hominems, and all of them coming from the anti-evolutionists. Booooring. Can’t y’all resist the call of the mud even once?

  187. Anthony Hughes says:
    February 8, 2011 at 11:09 am
    Khwarizmi ,
    If you think you’re just a machine, I’ll take you at your word.
    The Declaration of Independence has the text:
    “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”,
    does that include you? Should you have civil rights? After all, you didn’t have a creator.

    My parents are my creators.

  188. Anthony Hughes says:
    February 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm
    This is the SETI search, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
    I think it’s a moot point, since we know there is already intelligent life on planet earth. And yes, William Dembski has already started identifying the rules that identify intelligence from randomity.

    Yes, SETI. But the thing you need here is not to tell the difference between intelligent vs. random processes, but between intelligent design and entities that work just as well (or much better, one would say) than the ones we do know for sure were designed by rather intelligent engineers in advance of their implementation, even if their structure simply emerged as a consequence of random variations occurring in tiny information storage devices of replicators followed by blind environmental selection processes operating on said replicators. That’s a much tougher question. Actual DNA sequences are very far from being random. They have meaning which is revealed through the process of embryogenesis.
    Anthony Hughes says:
    February 8, 2011 at 11:21 am
    Rene Descartes was supposed to have said “I think, therefore I am”.

    The cogito ergo sum is flawed itself. It is a pseudo-syllogism which can be revealed by considering its negation: “I don’t exist, therefore I don’t think”. If someone came up with such an utterance at a pub, it is a sure sign of being stoned. This proposition is not simply false, it does not make sense. Now, in logic ~~A = A (double negation of a proposition is equivalent to the proposition itself). Therefore Descartes’ cogito, being the negation of a senseless proposition, is senseless itself. One surely can not build rationalism on senselessness.
    The only thing that’s shown here clearly is mystery of existence can’t be resolved by logic.
    “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14)
    Mind you, the “I AM” in this phrase is the name given in response to the question posed by Moses “they [children of Israel] shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?”
    Although somewhat cryptic, it is a much more honest explication of the problem of existence than the one given by Descartes.
    This reminds me of Kurt Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem, whose interpretation depends on something that looks just a tiny detail at first sight.
    If all characters in strings standing for propositions about natural numbers are treated in the same way during the coding process used by the proof (that is, their meaning is abandoned), it simply says in all axiomatic systems (capable to capture certain properties of natural numbers and expressed in first order logic) there is a proposition that can neither be proven nor disproven in the system. That is, one can add the negation of the Gödel sentence to the axioms and still get a consistent system (provided of course the original one was consistent in the first place). Such non-standard number theories were in fact constructed and studied (and it was found for example either addition or multiplication is uncomputable in systems like that).
    On the other hand if at least the meaning of the existential quantor ∃ is retained, that is, we don’t forget it actually means existence of the entity following it, the theorem says the Gödel sentence of the system is in fact true (although a formal proof can’t be given within the system). Now, the negation of a true proposition is a false one and adding a false axiom to a system does not look like a particularly wise move.
    It is not a small difference. The latter interpretation says the human mind can not be modeled by any formal system, which may have far reaching consequences even in physics, as noted by Sir Roger Penrose. Dreams of strong AI to be realized by computers (Turing machines) should also be abandoned in this case.

  189. “Jerry built” means:
    built in a makeshift and insubstantial manner.”
    Human vision is Jerry-built, not designed intelligently. We know this:
    http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/V/Vision.htm
    Creationists, however, pretend that living systems are irreducibly complex, perfectly functional, and perfectly designed. Creationists suffer from anasognosia and a massive blind spot.
    Something Matt Schilling said about pearls and swine was lifted verbatim from the bible. Another poster suggested that Christianity was an old friend of science, yet history shows that the opposite is true, starting with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire under the influence of Christian piety and not ending with the persecution of Galileo for calling the Pope a “simplicio.” Christianity set the western world on a backward-facing path for around 1500 years.
    In contrast, John Damscene wrote Christian screeds attacking Islam from the safety of the Caliphs court!!
    Science actually flourished under the early influence of Islam: I do not know why, but it did.
    This is why most of our “western” scientific terms have an Arabic or Persian origin, i.e.,
    al-kaline, al-chemistry, al-gebra, al-gorithm, azimuth, drug, sin, cosine, tangent, etc ad nauseum:
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/cairo-autumn.html
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/damascus-spring.html

  190. It would seem not everyone agrees with such an intepretation of incompleteness. Interesting post nonetheless.
    Mark

  191. Jeff Alberts says:
    February 8, 2011 at 6:39 pm
    “My parents are my creators.”
    Hmmmmm…..
    That’s how dogs and cats come into the world.
    I never heard of a pooch being sprung from the pound because the dogcatcher failed to give him a Miranda warning.

  192. Umm, Khwarizmi says I lifted something “verbatim from the bible”. This is simply not true. Actually, I made an allusion to a bible reference when I wrote this:
    Someone once coined a poignant phrase that is incredibly apt for describing the act of displaying all the splendor of life on Earth to an evolutionist. It goes something like this: “Casting pearls before swine.”
    If I had lifted my reference “verbatim”, I would have copied and pasted this quote:
    “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Mt 7:6) (Of course, upon reading it, I realize I should have quoted this verbatim; it is a succint lament for what evolutionists have done to the exquisite jewels of life.)
    So, Khwarizmi has already been shown to reside somewhere between “incorrect” and “imprecise”. What implications does that hold for whatever else he has written?
    Early on in his latest posting, he says we creationists think living systems are “perfectly functional, and perfectly designed”. This does not even rise to the level of “imprecise”; it is patently false and shows an appalling lack of understanding about the worldview of the vast majority of creationists: We do not believe anything “under the Sun” (allusion alert) is perfect. Rather, the defining characteristic of this plane is imperfection.
    Everything in the natural world is not merely flawed, but fatally flawed. Demonstrating flaws in DNA to a creationist does not set him back; it provides him more anecdotal evidence of what he already assumes.
    As for algebra and Arabia, it is clear that ancient innovation passed through Arabia; it was not born there.
    As for his tiresome attempts at anti-Christian revisionist history – as though science fared better under Islam than under Christianity, extant facts shout otherwise.
    I must wrap up. I have two words for him: “Isaac Newton”. OK, I have two more: “Louis Pasteur”. Oops, a couple more: “Johannes Kepler”. I could go on all day, but I must go to work.

  193. Mark T says:
    February 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm
    It would seem not everyone agrees with such an interpretation of incompleteness.

    That’s true. It is an open field of investigation up to this day and no one knows for sure how the final outcome would look like.
    However, the utter failure of more than fifty years of AI research to reproduce even the most common human capabilities should serve as a warning that there may be some hidden obstacle deep down below the surface. The brutal lesson we had to learn along this path is the problem is not with the thin layer separating the most intelligent person from common men, but with basic abilities like walking around, perceiving things and comprehension of everyday speech, shared by all able individuals. The logical depth beneath these faculties seems to exceed anything required to perform tasks traditionally linked to intelligence by far.
    Computing power of the most powerful supercomuters like Tianhe-I (2.5 petaFLOPS while consuming 4 MW of power) is already many orders of magnitude beyond the threshold envisioned by pioneers like von Neumann in the fifties, still, we are not seeing any immediate breakthrough coming around the corner.
    It may well be the case the Hebbian brain model is a grave misunderstanding and something much more intricate is going on at the molecular level, like some quantum computation (or more) in microtubules (with about 10^7 tubulin dimers in each cells) working at several hundred megahertz (while consuming 10 watts or something like that). We just do not know.

  194. It seems that Climate Warmism and Darwinism have both descended to the level of religious cults. Their proponents may adopt a veneer of scientific respectability, but this is a sham. They practice the traditional behavior of dogmatism, intolerance and superstition.
    Basically, the search for God is a basic human drive. But what is God? It is the basic cause of a universe. In the case of a Darwinist, Darwinian evolution by Natural Selection is God, the basic cause of the biological universe. Anything not attributable to that is an illusion, a work of the Darwinist devil.
    In the case of orthodox Warmists, God is the planetary climate system, which imposes a stable climate on the planet via natural processes. Putting excess Greenhouse gases into the air is the counterpart of blasphemy, and offends the climate God. And the ultimate punishment would be catastrophe, the End of the World.
    Why do Warmists and Darwinists commit ad-hominem attacks? Because nonbelievers deserve to be punished. They’re not just wrong, they are evil and must be destroyed.
    What would be a true scientific view of these subjects? One that is objective, open-minded, nuanced and tentative. Thus, a scientist would view evolution by natural selection as one possible phenomenon, but certainly not the total and ultimate cause of every biological phenomenon. A scientist would admit that a Greenhouse gas may or may not have some climate forcing, and that forcing may or may not be significant.
    In both cases, the scientific view would be objective, open-minded, nuanced and tentative. The scientist would not be dogmatic, intolerant of others with opposing views, or try to expand a particular principle into the ultimate cause of anything.

  195. Matt Schilling,
    You say to me “It is also further anecdotal evidence of willful obtuseness – as though Causey was unaware that an author of a novel sits outside of his novel and the painter is other than her painting.”
    That was the exact point I was making. If life cannot bootstrap itself, as you imply, then you have to invoke a supernatural creator. Obviously, if this is your position then there is nothing left to argue about. One either accepts a creator or one doesn’t. However, your reasons for denying a natural progression of evolution are philosophical, not scientific.
    You gave an example of inheritence in OOP and say “Evidence of these in code is proof of intelligent design (as opposed to sloppy, inefficient, haphazard spaghetti code). The evolutionist sees them in nature and says they are evidence of random naturalism; veritable proofs against intelligent design.”
    This is a strawman. Evolutionists have never argued that complexity and beauty are ‘proof against intelligent design.’ They have argued that, evolution by natural selection can account for it. (Nevertheless, your example is not without irony. One can write software to simulate organisms under a simple game-of-life scenario, and when you run them, interesting body plans develop.)
    So far, all you have offered against evolution has been a lot of hand waving and misdirection, such as “only to find he is a grunting brute who promptly clobbers her over the head with a club and drags her back to his cave,” and “It goes something like this: “Casting pearls before swine.” All very colourful, I’m sure, but adds nothing to the debate. If you have arguments that refute evolution, other than your visceral loathing of it, you have not presented them. If you have arguments for divine creation, other than argumentium ad ignoratum, you have not presented them.
    Yet, as genetics advances, more and more evidence accumulates supporting the idea that switching a few genes on and off leads to large morphological changes. The question of who switches them on and off is the key one to this debate. A evolutionists says ‘natural selection’ and a creationist says ‘God’.

  196. Vince Causey, one of my main points has been, to paraphrase an old saying, evolutionists miss the splendor for the genes. Hence my “colourful” (love British spelling!) reference to a knuckle dragger that is completely oblivious to the finer qualities of a lovely woman. His interest is too base to even notice or care about what she hoped he’d be most interested in.
    This, of course, is also the core meaning of the quote from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Ironically, those who often are best suited for the quote are most likely to miss its deeper meaning as they focus on the insult that merely acts as a carrier for the real message – thereby demonstrating their fitness for it.
    My primary point, though, has been to say life on Earth is so exquisite, so refined, such a four dimensional display of genius, that I used to be gobsmacked (colourful word, that!) that otherwise intelligent people can be so dull witted to miss it. Yet, it is now my considered opinion that people who defend evolution are not missing anything; they have embraced evolution as an act of the will. Therefore, I purposely regularly use the term “willfully obtuse” to describe people who ought to know better, yet refuse to. (And, since “willfully obtuse” perfectly applies to CAGW alarmists, I think that is how this side discussion has developed on a site that most often discusses them.)
    William Paley’s comparison of an evolutionist to someone who finds a fine watch in the woods and thinks it was created by happenstance grows more apt all the time. After all, the closer we look and the more refined our looking glasses become, the more amazing even the simplest life becomes and the more awestruck we ought to be to gaze on it.
    I have limited myself on this thread to merely discussing the ridiculous notion that ATP, and all its attendant subsystems, slowly arose by blind chance from nothing in the midst of an entity for which it is a fundamental building block. Yet, the same gross assumption is made about dozens of other essential complex systems. Further, these multiple strings of pearls are all delicately integrated and finely regulated by other systems just as amazing as they.
    No other generation should be quicker to affirm that poetic bible phrase that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Scripture has become science before our eyes, yet this generation refuses to admit it. Schilling out!

  197. Matt Schilling,
    I have no argument against any of what you have just said. It is certainly true that there are Darwinists/evolutionists who are blind to the miracle and beauty of life, and those that go on counter religious crusades – Richard Dawkins comes to mind. But I would be surprised if this was a universal trait amongst evolutionists. Even physicists may search for the ‘mind of God’ in fundamental particles.
    There is less separating our positions than you may think.

  198. Some participants in this forum are “Enforcers for Darwinism” and their comments are morally offensive in the extreme. They are offensive to the same degree and for the same reasons as the comments made by the members of the Inquisition that tried and sentenced Galileo. They believed firmly that Aristotle’s cosmology and Ptolemy’s account of astronomy were the truth and they set out to crush all opposition. Some of you are behaving in exactly the same fashion. Your goal is to crush any criticism of Darwinism. You support high school and college teachers who have exactly the same goal and apply the same methods. Like Galileo’s accusers, you explain that all of the evidence is on your side. What you mean is that all of the evidence that you understand is on your side and you want to rule out of court any other evidence. That is good old gold plated Political Correctness. You immediately erect the Strawman of Creationism. Presented with any scientific or methodological criticism of Darwinism, you change the topic to Creationism and give your strawman a good beating. What the hell are you scared of?
    Darwinism is full of scientific and methodological holes. Here is a simple example. Darwin’s definition of the word ‘species’, which is taken-for-granted in the science today, is a definition useful for reporting field work but for absolutely nothing else. According to Darwin and his followers, a population of critters has split into two species when there are two groups who no longer interbreed. Mind you, it does not say “who cannot interbreed” but simply “no longer interbreed.” Using that definition in the field is reasonable, I guess. You can report that there are twelve species of Finch in the Galapagos Islands. But what do you do when the next time you visit you find that two of the species are interbreeding once again? Do you say that there was this separate species X that existed for time T but exists no more? Looking toward the generalizations needed for hypotheses, do you say that species are elastic? How do you define elastic? What laws govern species elasticity? Not one of you will care to address such questions because not one of you is actually interested in Darwinism; rather, your interest is in suppressing criticism of Darwinism. You make fine Inquisitors.

  199. Theo, where did you get that definition of a species?
    Anyone who knows much about biology knows that biologists would kill for a good definition of a species — because right now, there isn’t one. What you quoted is a somewhat distorted version of the “reproductive species concept,” which is useful for organisms that reproduce sexually but absolutely no good for organisms that don’t. How, for example, can you talk about reproductive isolation with the New Mexico whiptail lizard, which is composed only of females that reproduce by parthenogenesis? Or with diatoms, which reproduce by fission?
    Biologists are slowly drifting toward a definition of “species” that depends on the degree of genetic difference between two populations of organisms, but even that leaves something to be desired.

  200. Robert Heinlein’s definition of a ‘fact’ was ‘A fact is anything that has happened.’
    Evolution is a fact. Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is not.
    But this bill is an attempt to authorise teaching religion instead of science in science classes. It’s an attempt to appropriate the credibility of scientific skepticism about CAGW for biblical literalism. It should be resisted for those reasons.
    Rejecting the Bill does not endorse the idea that the Hockey Team’s consensus is as infallible as the Pope’s, much as they would like us to believe it.

  201. Vince Causey, I think you made very good points in your last post. And, regarding your last sentence, I take you at your word.
    Also, in your 6:49AM post you said, “Evolutionists have never argued that complexity and beauty are ‘proof against intelligent design.’ They have argued that, evolution by natural selection can account for it.” That point is well taken, too.
    I stay tethered to what I actually believe when I invoke William Paley and say his argument is more valid today than when he first made it. Reading an executive summary of what is now known about the living cell ought to have the same profound impact on a person as first seeing the Grand Canyon.

  202. wolfwalker says:
    February 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm
    Theo, where did you get that definition of a species?
    Anyone who knows much about biology knows that biologists would kill for a good definition of a species — because right now, there isn’t one. What you quoted is a somewhat distorted version of the “reproductive species concept,” which is useful for organisms that reproduce sexually but absolutely no good for organisms that don’t. How, for example, can you talk about reproductive isolation with the New Mexico whiptail lizard, which is composed only of females that reproduce by parthenogenesis? Or with diatoms, which reproduce by fission?
    Biologists are slowly drifting toward a definition of “species” that depends on the degree of genetic difference between two populations of organisms, but even that leaves something to be desired.
    The definition is all over the place. Most recently, I found it in Jerry Coyne “Why Evolution Is True.” Obviously, it is not designed to cover asexual species. But it is the most interesting definition because it applies to middle-sized critters like dogs and cats and stuff.
    Defining “species” in terms of genetics assumes that each species difference is recorded in genes. That is simply false.

Comments are closed.