Cothran actually manages to subvert my predictions–sort of December 31, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science.
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Martin Cothran has responded again, and since I think one of his criticisms is actually valid, I’ll start with that:
And if you peel off all the invective, the questions themselves are perfectly fair, although I have answered most of them in previous posts or in the comment sections of other posts.
Aside from the fact that it’s nearly impossible to track everything a blogger says in every comment’s section, this is actually fair, in that it’s not Cothran’s fault. I actually got fed up with trying to navigate the blogspot archiving on Cothran’s blog, and so was not able to hunt down older posts. So my apologies: I couldn’t find the previous discussions Cothran is referencing.
I’ll also apologize for being somewhat incorrect in my previous prediction–I didn’t go far enough. I obviously underestimated the logical twists Cothran is willing to put himself through to defend ID. I know, you’d think I’d know better after all this time dealing with ID proponents. Perhaps I’m a closet optimist. Anyway, to recap, I’ve repeatedly argued that Cothran wants ID to be considered science. He claims he does not:
Several posters have called on me to say why I think Intelligent Design is science. I have delayed answering this question for a few days because I wanted to go back and verify my recollection on what my position on this has always been. Well, I had some time yesterday afternoon to do that, and my memory was indeed correct.
I have never said that Intellectual Design was science. In fact, as my search verified, I have said this–or, rather, said that I have not said this–several times.
Notice he hasn’t said ID isn’t science. He just thought back and decided he’s never said specifically that it was science. So is Cothran about to argue that ID is not science and force me to retract everything I’ve said? Not even close.
So let me just repost a comment from my post, “Is Intelligent Design Science (cont.),” which ran on Oct. 3, 2006, since it adequately sums up what my position has always been. It was my answer to a commenter’s question, “Can you propose a test of science that you think ID can pass?”:
My answer to that question is, I don’t need to, because I have not made the claim that ID is science. I don’t know whether it is or not, and am not sure it matters a great deal, except to people who think science is the only legitimate form of inquiry. But I am curious, as a cultural observer, about the enthusiasm with which the scientific establishment has attacked ID, an enthusiasm that results in reckless assertions about what science is and isn’t that bring even theories well within its own domain into question.
If he doesn’t know whether ID is science, then why is Cothran so concerned about whether scientists attack it as non-science? If he’s not sure himself, why wouldn’t he defer to the experts, or at least admit he doesn’t have anything substantial to add? Because this is all part of his elaborate dodge, an attempt to get ID into science classrooms without having to actually respond to demands that he explain why ID should be taught as science. You see, he wants to “teach the controversy”:
Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s deal with another myth I see making the rounds: that I think Intelligent Design should be taught in science classes.
Maybe the people who are making this claim could do their own little search and tell me where I said this. My position (and I haven’t done a search on this one, but I’m fairly confident I’ve never said anything else) is that what science teachers teach in their classrooms should be left up to science teachers. I’m against mandating it and I’m against prohibiting it.
I look forward to seeing Cothran publicly state, then, that it’s a good thing that the teachers in the Dover school district no longer have to let a disclaimer about ID be read in their classrooms, since the administration forced that on them against their will.
Somehow I don’t think he will, though. After all, Cothran is now arguing that a) he doesn’t know if ID is science, b) he doesn’t think scientists are well qualified to answer that question, and c) that science teachers in high school should teach ID if they think it is science.
So Cothran thinks all the scientists who argue that ID isn’t science are just reflexively attacking ID, but if some high school teacher thinks ID is science, he should be allowed to teach it as science. Why are scientists’ opinions suddenly valuable when there’s a chance ID might get taught in a science class?
The answer, of course, is that this entire battle plan relies upon continuing to pound the idea that there is a “controversy” about evolution and ID and in so doing create that controversy. After all, if scientists don’t respond, then ID proponents claim to have won the argument, and if scientists do respond, ID proponents use it as evidence of a controversy.
Cothran’s a bit behind, though: “teaching the controversy” is out of favor among other ID proponents at the moment. Now they seem to be favoring teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution–those both approaches amount to attacks on science.
For a moment, Cothran approaches a reasonable position:
I also think that if I were a science teacher, and if I believed that Intelligent Design did fall into the realm of science, that I would continue to be reticent about spending classroom time on it (other than mentioning that it is an issue) until it had had a chance to show whether it can succeed as a more formal scientific enterprise.
Mr Cothran, I’ll happily give you credit for this much: you, at least, have admitted that ID has not yet been shown to be science. While this contradicts the idea that it has any place in a science classroom, you’re obviously more honest than many ID proponents. When I read this the first time, I thought there was hope for you. Then I read the following sentences:
But it the meantime, I’m going to continue to point out the curious enthusiasm shown by Darwinists to makes sure ID doesn’t get that chance by doing things like shutting down programs that even try to inquire into it.
First of all, no “Darwinists” have ever shut down an ID program. Baylor did demand that Dembski’s “lab”–which existed only in web-page form, and didn’t do any science–not be associated with the University, and I’m not thrilled with the way Baylor handled some aspects of that issue. But scientists are clamoring for ID to do real research, to publish real papers. Furthermore, if ID did any of that, if it demonstrated its scientific credibility, made testable, useful predictions, scientists would accept it. If ID could demonstrate its merit as science, scientists would happily see it included in classrooms.
But we don’t see that. We’ve still not seen any scientific publications from the DI, or any peer-reviewed science at all from them. We keep asking for it, and yet we don’t get it. And when, in Kitzmiller, ID proponent BSB was asked why he hasn’t done the study he says could falsify ID, he said it would not be “fruitful.” Doing science wouldn’t be fruitful!
If Cothran and his crew want ID taken seriously, they should stop attacking scientists who point out that ID isn’t science. Instead, they should encourage their own people to get out and do science.
Instead, Cothran is arguing that ID might be science and might not be, but it’s bad that “Darwinists” attack it for not being science because they can’t say that, except when one of them wants to teach ID, in which case that’s fine, even though ID hasn’t been demonstrated to be science.
The worst part of this is the twists Cothran has had to go through to get to his argument. He’s got himself making contradictory claims, and he continues to show me to be correct. Every time he posts, my argument that this is really about getting ID into science classes is given further proof.
The Power of Ratzi Compels You December 30, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Religion, wingnuts.
Via Radical Vixen (site NSFW), I learn that Pope Ratzi is taking a proactive stance against Satanism:
“The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.
Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.” [...]
The Vatican is particularly concerned that young people are being exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet.”
Yeah, the problem is Satanism, rock and roll and Teh Interwebs, not an out-of-touch Church that blames demons for the worlds problems while being led by a former member of the Hitler Youth who now preaches hatred and intolerance. Yeah, none of that: the problem is all those damn Satanists you see everywhere.
Maybe the Pope should go back to blathering about Secular Humanists. It’s no more credible, but at least it doesn’t involve exorcisms.
File this under “more reasons to spurn organized religions.”
Martin Cothran: my predictions still looking solid December 30, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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Martin Cothran, the DI’s media complaints contributer, has taken issue with my post suggesting he was more of the same from the DI. My argument was that Cothran was deliberately attempting to confuse the definition of science in order to redefine it so ID somehow qualifies.*
My prediction on the upcoming claims from Cothran: he’ll argue that philosophers of science should decide what is science, and then ignore or attack all but the most sympathetic of those philosophers.
Cothran replied, accusing me of trying to mind read. Naturally I don’t have to do that, as I’ve had enough interactions with ID advocates to know how they approach a problem. If Cothran really wants to demonstrate I don’t know what I’m talking about, he only has to avoid the above pitfalls. You see, I’ve made a testable prediction, and one that’s not even blind: Cothran knows what I’ve predicted. We’ll see if he can avoid fulfilling that prediction.
It doesn’t look good so far. After engaging in a staple tactic of those who attack me–trying to crack jokes about how evil I must be given my screenname–he gets to his point. Writes Cothran:
Evil Bender’s first charge is that my comments were disingenuous. In other words, he is asserting that I am making arguments in which I do not myself believe.
Correct. Mr Cothran, I’m saying you don’t care who should decide what is science, except to the extent that you’re looking for an excuse to ignore actual scientists and get supernatural BS taught in classrooms. My contention is that you’re attempting to frame the debate about what science is in such a way as to end-run around actual science and claim
Creationism Intelligent Design is science.
Does Evil Bender think that the question “what is science?” is a scientific question after all?
I think you’re engaging in the worst kind of sophistry. I think you’re hoping to create a rhetorical trap to pursue your goal of getting a religious idea taught as science. I think if you actually cared about good science, you wouldn’t spend your time defending so-called theories that make no predictions.
He’ll read my mind and conclude I’m asking the question just to be a smart alec.
You’ll notice, despite repeated attempts by commenters to get him to explain himself, Cothran hasn’t done so. He has not weighed in on what science is, nor has he explained why ID should be science. He has not explained what ID predicts, or added anything to the conversation. He’s instead asking a question that brings nothing to the discussion, and steadfastly avoiding coming to any conclusions.
Once again, I’ll predict: this is all about trying to get ID defined as science. If Cothran ever follows up with any real discussion (which I doubt–he completely avoided my point that we’ve already seen ID folks do what I’m predicting he’ll do) and he does not use all this as a prelude to claiming science includes his favorite God-of-the-Gaps theory, I’ll happily retract my claims, and admit it publicly. But I’ll only do so if he demonstrates his agenda is anything other than re-defining science to get ID the credibility it can’t find in the scientific community.
But I only feel it’s fair to indicate to Cothran what the pro-science community expects of him. At very least, if he’s going to argue for ID-as-science, he’ll have to explain its predictive power, how its predictions differ from evolutionary theory, how it could be falsified, and what mechanisms
God the unnamed creator used to design whatever it was he designed. Hell, I’ll go further: as soon as ID starts making testable predictions for how ID would differ from evolution, and as soon as it starts actually publishing peer-reviewed science in support of its claims, I’ll be happy to reconsider this question.
Until that time, I’m no more willing to call ID science than I would be to call FSM “science,” or miracles “science,” or to say “what color are unicorns” is a scientific question. ID adds nothing to our knowledge, makes no predictions, and refuses to engage in substantive discussion. Instead, its proponents hang around trying to get science re-defined, instead of actually doing science.
*Not that he’d have any luck. You’d think the DI would have learned something from Behe’s humiliating admission that Astrology counted as science under his definition.
Shorter John West: why do scientists think they know more about science than religious people do? December 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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Increasingly, self-proclaimed defenders of science have tried to turn “science” into an ideological weapon to attack any questioning by religious believers of the “consensus view” of scientific elites on embryonic stem-cell research, global warming, Darwinian evolution, and similar issues.
How do you know when a wingnut is projecting? His mouth is moving. The irony is truly amazing: a man who’s trying to force science to become religion arguing that scientists are mean for explaining what their research indicates.
This attempt to suppress dissenting views in discussions of science and public policy is fueled by the anti-religious orientation of the majority of America’s elite scientists. Nearly 95 percent of biologists who are members of the National Academy of Sciences, for example, identify themselves as atheists or agnostics.
More projection. Simply stating that many scientists are atheist doesn’t mean those scientists are trying to suppress religious views. Meanwhile, even religious scientists are trying to suppress ID for one simple reason: it’s not science.
The anti-religious fervor of leading scientists was on clear display last year at a conference on science and religion at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. According to one participant quoted by the New York Times, “with a few notable exceptions, the viewpoints at the conference have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?”
Oh! An anecdote. Well, that’s certainly proof of the Vast Scientific Conspiracy Against Religion. Is West even trying? Is he so pathetic he can’t come up with any real argument? Well, obviously he is:
Given the effort to exclude people of faith from public debates in the supposed name of science, is it any wonder that many in religious communities are pushing back?
No one is trying to exclude “people of faith” from science. You don’t see Dawkins or PZ Myers arguing that religious people shouldn’t study science–quite the opposite, in fact. What West is trying to do is conflate the refusal to let religion dictate science with some attempt to silence religion. I’m a staunch supporter of religious freedom, yet I don’t think “my faith says this” is an adequate scientific explanation. West disagrees, but he can’t put it that way, so he has to be spectacularly dishonest instead.
The current state of affairs is tragic, because religious voices in the public square can serve as a valuable check on the prejudices and pretensions of scientific elites.
What if he said religious voices could check the pretensions of engineers who think they understand how skyscrapers should be built? Or of football coaches who think they understand how to win a game? Or of mental health professionals?*
During the early decades of the 20th century, America’s leading evolutionary biologists at institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia promoted eugenics and forced sterilization. Traditionalist Catholics and evangelicals were among the handful of voices challenging the validity of the eugenics crusade at a time when scientific dissenters were scant.
Distortions, lies and non sequiturs: the Discovery Institute in brief.
Scientists have their blind spots just as much as any religious believer. If they genuinely want more discussion over science and public policy, they could start by inviting religious believers to join the conversation.
“We need to let
Creationism Intelligent Design in schools, because some scientists supported bad public policy! We should let religious people make scientific decisions because they can be trusted to do that way better than the actual experts!” The Discovery Institute’s public policy: let the uninformed decide.
*Oh that’s right, people like West do think they know everything, especially about science and mental health. They just can’t explain why.
Intelligent Design: still a science stopper December 28, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Science, wingnuts.
Making Space for Time – Physicists meet to puzzle out why time flows one way. Scott Dodd. Scientific American, January 2008 p 26,27,28.
This article cites physicists invoking multiverses to explain high order in the early cosmos – and that less order would have prevented universes from surviving or evolving to support intelligent life.
This sounds like evidence for Intelligent Design – and efforts to explain it away. This calls for brilliant astrophysicists and mathematicians to address this controversial evidence from an ID perspective.
No, it doesn’t. Nothing about the early universe can be learned from assuming “a magic man done it.” I’d love for anyone affiliated to ID to tell me what testable predictions they can make about how
God the Designer set up the early Universe, and why such predictions fit better with ID than with naturalistic–you know, scientific–explanations.
When science sees a puzzle, it tries to solve it. When ID sees a puzzle, it assumes God done it, and calls real scientists closed-minded.
Not that I’m really surprised that fools who blather on about ID don’t really know the science or math they claim to know–I’ve come to expect that. So why was I momentarily surprised by this blathering idiocy from Sal Cordova? Perhaps because having him tread on my territory–literature–caught me a little off-guard. Never fear, dear reader: I quickly overcame my initial surprise and can now turn my full attention to mocking Cordova for an argument that manages to butcher literature as badly as it does morality and reason.
Oh, terrible anti-evolution screed: why am I not surprised you’re associated with Alan Keyes? December 26, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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A lot of other bloggers have already commented on this, which might be the single worst anti-evolution post ever–and that is saying something. My favorite part:
But when it comes to evolution, the adherents make us hold to that nonsense as a fact. They press it upon us as evangelists of Darwin. And of course it’s not a fact any more than fairy tales are facts. Evolution is a theory, and an exceptionally wide-eyed foolish one at that. Nevertheless, it is a mere theory as much as tapioca pudding causes Milky Ways is a theory.
Of course the “just a theory” canard is a long-time favorite of anti-science hacks, but this takes it to a whole new level. It’s obvious that, while the author may have “graduate work at Harvard Divinity School,” he’s obviously never taken a real science class.
But what else would we expect from a contributer to Alan Keyes’ site?
New Discovery Institute contributer: meet the new boss December 21, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
It seem the Disco Institute has taken on a new contributer. For a “theory” in desperate need of actual predictions, surely they can top Medved, or at least go with someone who knows science, right? Of course not. Seems they’ve signed up one Martin Cothran, a rhetorician and member of one of those “family” groups which goes about attacking all the families they don’t approve of.
But it seems Cothran does have one thing on his side: the ability to make disingenuous arguments. Take this one, where he’s eager to claim little old scientists shouldn’t be the ones discussing what is science. After all, that question is outside the range of the scientific method. (I think Cothran would have us forget that any argument’s assumptions are outside the argument’s ability to prove them.)
See, the real goal is to insure that scientists don’t have a say in, say, the Gonzalez tenure.* But of course Cothran’s little DI crew can’t actually let philosophers of science be the ones to decide the question of ID, as Cothran claims to want, because they’re no better help than the scientists. See, it was a philosopher of science, Barbara Forrest, whose evidence of the religious motivations of ID were almost as crippling to the DI in the Kitzmiller case as was the desertion of DI fellows and the testimony of Michael Behe.
No doubt the DI would love to make Forrest go away–after all, their allies seem eager to fire anyone who mentions her stalwart defense of science–but the fact is, the scientific method involves things like testable predictions and refusing to accept “a magic man done it” as sufficient explanation for natural phenomena. My prediction on the upcoming claims from Cothran: he’ll argue that philosophers of science should decide what is science, and then ignore or attack all but the most sympathetic of those philosophers.
I don’t know Cothran, but I know the kind of people the DI recruit. And I feel comfortable in making this prediction.
To recap: according to various DI lackeys, scientists don’t know what science is. Philosophers of science should decide that. Except when a judge uses one of those philosopher’s expert testimony to rule that cdesign propoentsists are just Creationists in disguise, then that judge clearly doesn’t know anything. In fact, we should probably attack both the philosopher and the judge, possibly with flatulence sound effects in the background.
*And we’re back to the “I.D. is science, not religion. But scientists discussing I.D.’s merits, well, we clearly can’t have that.”
Jonah Goldberg’s latest book, Liberal Fascism: How eating vegtables is turning kids into Little Hitlers, has provided no end of laughs, from his claim that somehow McCarthy was sorta liberal to the idea that “the white male is the Jew of liberal fascism.” I must admit I’ve laughed as hard as the rest of the blogosphere at his inane arguments (my favorite is that he claims that fascism is about making everything political, and then moves on to claim that fascists have in common the desire to “‘get beyond’ politics”*), but the time for laughter is passed. Not content with implying women and vegetarians are the real source of fascism, Goldberg has now crossed over into full-on holocaust denial. You see, he’s so damn eager to claim that ideas like equality and sustainability are somehow fascist, that now he has to revise history and gloss over the deaths of who knows how many, and the arrest of 100,000 for homosexual activity.
I guess Goldberg just doesn’t get it: the fascist agenda doesn’t allow for difference. Women, as in the “female teachers” Goldberg claims are the face of liberal fascism; people of color; LGBT people; ethnic minorities; the poor; and the politically weak: all these are almost inevitably the result of a far-right philosophy that tries to give the powerful more power. You see, the only way that such authoritarian power can be sustained is by making sure that there is always a Them, a people–or really, many people–at whom public rage can be directed, else that rage turn on those in power.
Goldberg can dissemble all he wants, can redefine terms, fail to cite source, site obviously unreliable sources when he does so, and generally try to pin every sin of the far-right on the left. That won’t change the facts.
Nor will it change this key point: in his rush to attack liberals, Goldberg has become a holocaust apologist, glossing over the unpleasant reality of arrest, humiliation, concentration camps and death in order to make believe that homosexuals were somehow the problem in the holocaust, instead of one of many victimized groups. Goldberg is bigoted and hateful, and will obviously make up anything to cover for his deeply flawed and foolish thesis. Holocaust denialism: should we be surprised that the far right will stoop even to that disgust to attempt to rewrite history?
I will say this for Goldberg, though: he’s the one person I can think of who might actually learn something from anti-gay bigot “researcher” Paul Cameron: even a liar and homophobe like Cameron knows the Nazis weren’t exactly pro-gay.
*It’s no mistake that he makes these conflicting claims, though: how else could he possibly claim that the distinctly non-fascist idea that the personal is political could somehow be fascist? But if he admits the left is right about how the personal is intertwined in the political, then he’d have to start thinking about how his favored policies actually affect people, and he couldn’t have that.
I also can’t help but notice that he’s making this argument on the same time the right is still apoplectic about the Lawrence decision, and Ann Coulter is blathering about how it’s unconstitutional to remember that consenting adults’ sex lives aren’t the business of the government. That doesn’t fit with Goldberg’s thesis, though.
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That’s right, folks, Ann Coulter, already irrelevant to anyone with a brain, is working on alienating even those who should be her base: supporters of the Mike “put teh Gays in camp” Huckabee. It seems he’s just not conservative enough for Coulter:
As far as I can tell, it’s mostly secular liberals swooning over Huckabee. Liberals adore Huckabee because he fits their image of what an evangelical should be: stupid and easily led.
Looks like Ann has joined the list of many prominent conservatives who aren’t eager to pay the price for pandering to the fundie crowd.
The media are transfixed by the fact that Huckabee says he doesn’t believe in evolution. Neither do I, for reasons detailed in approximately one-third of my No. 1 New York Times best-selling book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism.
I love that this paragraph comes right after the one where she calls the Huckster “stupid.” Fitting that she’d then turn to their area of greatest agreement: that science is Teh Evil. Somebody better warn Coulter that most fundies don’t have any used for the stealth Creationism of her BFF Dembski. But she probably doesn’t care, given that she’s the type of person who would use an attack on Hucakbee to shill her crappy book.
She goes on to blather about how knowledgeable she is about evolution, how global warming is a fraud, and how states rights means the government should have the right to tell us which orifices we’re allowed to put phalluses into.
Sorry, Ann: you might be upset that your anti-freedom, anti-education, anti-science and anti-knowledge pandering has resulted in weak candidates, but you made that bed. If I were a prominent fiscal conservative, I too would be pissed that my party was being run by authoritarians like Huckabee and anti-liberty hacks like you, Ann. But those who have eagerly watched Republicans exploit fundies in order to secure a string of upper-class tax cuts are now paying the price for it.
And I must say, I’m loving every minute of it.