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ID Documentary Deception:

In early 2008, Premise films will release Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a documentary film featuring Ben Stein arguing that those who believe in "Intelligent Design" face persecution in the academy and scientific institutions. For the movie, the producers arranged interviews with prominent scientists who point out that ID is not a scientific theory or who argue against a belief in God. Yet according to this NYT story, the film producers explained they were with a different production company and making a movie about the intersection of faith and belief, rather than about the alleged persecution of ID proponents.

Dr. [Richard] Dawkins and other scientists who agreed to be interviewed say they are surprised — and in some cases, angered — to find themselves not in "Crossroads" but in a film with a new name and one that makes the case for intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. The film, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," also has a different producer, Premise Media.

The film is described in its online trailer as "a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions." According to its Web site, the film asserts that people in academia who see evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes have unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure or suffered other penalties as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation's laboratories and classrooms.

The producers claim there was nothing sneaky or nefarious involved, just a routine change in the working title of a film. Yet for the reasons detailed in this PZ Myers post, that explanation seems a little thin. I don't think anything illegal occurred — and journalists often engage in some deception when seeking interviews — so it seems to me the producers should just own up to what they did.

UPDATE: Ron Bailey on "The Shame of Ben Stein."

Oh My Word:
I really dislike the New York Times. While I wouldn't do such a thing personally if I were a producer, the NYT's double standard and constant vendetta against orthodox Christians is tiresome. Shoot, Michael Moore famously did the same thing in Bowling for Columbine. I don't recall any comparable nose-thumbing then. While I don't approve of it, this kind of tactic is probably the only way to get prominent scientists to talk candidly about such a politically charged topic in the academic scientific world. If you showed them the title of the movie eventually used, they'd all have clammed up or given some pretextual, watered-down answers.
9.27.2007 10:40am
Gonerill (mail) (www):
this kind of tactic is probably the only way to get prominent scientists to talk candidly about such a politically charged topic in the academic scientific world.

Actually they talk candidly all the time -- have you read Dawkins recently? Or Myers? What you should have said was this deception is the only way to get prominent scientists to talk to you seeing as you are making a film claiming that ID is the persecuted victim of said prominent scientists.
9.27.2007 10:51am
Randy R. (mail):
Any school that receives public funding shouldn't be teaching junk science at all, and that includes ID. They should teach science. Any science teacher who teaches ID as some sort of actual theory should in fact be disciplined.

Relgion should be left for Sunday school and religious schools.

"as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation's laboratories and classrooms." Well, we also have a religious conspiracy to keep science out of the nation's churches, so I really don't have a problem with keeping God out of the classrooms. In fact, it's the way it should be.
9.27.2007 10:54am
Clayton:
Hmmm.... Sounds a lot like the current Planned Parenthood deception in Aurora. Apparently, they applied for building permits for an abortion mega-clinic under the false name "Gemini Office Development." The case is currently in U.S. District Court, where the judge stayed PP's building permits.
9.27.2007 10:56am
Orangutan (mail):
At some point, society must lose its tolerance for willful ignorance. ID advocates have reached that point. It must be scorned and vilified, never respected, or else how will we ever move on?
9.27.2007 11:01am
Ted Frank (www):
I am no fan of intelligent design, intelligent design advocates, or their disingenuous tactics, but it's a stunning double-standard that the New York Times finds this more problematic than earlier identical efforts that they shrugged off or applauded like Michael Moore's or Sasha Baron-Cohen's. I look forward to the Times expose how Charlton Heston or Edwin Meese were defrauded.

PZ Myers's analysis ignores whatever release he signed, which, if the producers had decent legal advice, disclaims all other representations. (Then again, when I got similarly scammed, it was in part because the release didn't have such a disclaimer, so I trusted it.)
9.27.2007 11:02am
Dan Weber (www):
Deception is fine if it's for a cause I support.

It's bad if it's for something I oppose.
9.27.2007 11:03am
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Also, I don't think it is particularly unreasonable to believe that a group started out making Picture A, and ended up making Picture B. I suspect it happens all the time. Same with books, news articles, etc. The authors head off in the direction that seems most fertile. The intelligent design aspect could have started out as just a segment, but the makers found it compelling enough to make it the center of the piece.

I don't get the "outrage." Especially given, as the poster above points out, how little sympathy is granted to people who get publically assaulted by people like Michael Moore or 60 Minutes. But then, M&M is one of the officially designated "good" people, isn't he?
9.27.2007 11:06am
Orangutan (mail):

Hmmm.... Sounds a lot like the current Planned Parenthood deception in Aurora. Apparently, they applied for building permits for an abortion mega-clinic under the false name "Gemini Office Development." The case is currently in U.S. District Court, where the judge stayed PP's building permits.


It's a similar tactic, but for opposite reasons. One side did it for publicity and legitimacy, but the other side did it to avoid publicity (and avoid pro-lifers blackmailing their contractors like they did in Austin).

/end threadjack
9.27.2007 11:08am
Cornellian (mail):
I am outraged at getting an "F" in Astronomy for insisting the earth is flat. Clearly this can only be evidence of the supression of free thought and inquiry in academia.
9.27.2007 11:12am
Dave B (mail):
To quote something "intelligent"

"Beware of false [sciences], which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

An adaptation from the bible.

Science is essentially defined as having a hypothesis that is falsifiable. Not that it is false, but should the need arise to test whether it is true or false, it can be done.

It also must rest on a premise that isn't "begging the question."

The world has many things in it which are intelligently designed (see: The banana ["The atheists' nightmare"] video with Kirk Cameron) because the lord created the earth and designed everything that way.

Borrowed from the common solecism guide at the economist.com:
"To beg the question is to adopt an argument whose conclusion depends upon assuming the truth of the very conclusion the argument is designed to produce."
9.27.2007 11:14am
Houston Lawyer:
Now if we could just get those scientists to apply that same jaundiced eye to global warming theories.

Never trust a "journalist" or other person with a camera. They almost always have an agenda of which you are not aware.
9.27.2007 11:22am
KevinM:
Dawkins et al. should sue and [wait for it...] win Ben Stein's money.
9.27.2007 11:30am
Drake (mail) (www):
"the producers should just own up to what they did."

Probably not their style.
9.27.2007 11:30am
frankcross (mail):
I'm intrigued, I must admit. I'm against all sorts of deception. But it's interesting that a post on rightwing deception provokes people to attack different episodes of leftwing deception.

My question is: If this had been a post on Michael Moore's deception, would you have responded with: "sure it's bad, but think of all the rightwing deception that goes on." I suspect not. Perhaps the NYT coverage is biased, but aren't you?
9.27.2007 11:44am
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
From the NYT, in re Farenheit 9/11:


The most valid criticisms of the film are likely to involve the artful way that Mr. Moore connects the facts, and whether he has left out others that might undermine his scalding attack. A great many statistics fly by in the movie -- such as assertions that 6 percent to 7 percent of the United States is owned by Saudi Arabians, and that Saudi companies have paid more than $1.4 billion to Bush family interests. But Mr. Moore doesn't explain how he arrived at them, or what these vague interests comprise.


An NYT archive search reveals more criticism than praise of Moore.
9.27.2007 11:45am
Thales (mail) (www):
I'm not a Michael Moore fan, but everyone knows who he is and what he does. If you're a CEO or the president of the NRA, and he asks to interview you, it doesn't take a genius to predict what direction the interview will take. There is "stinging" in the sense of catching people off guard, but I don't see the deception alleged by some of the commenters in inducing the interview (perhaps this is a reference to Heston's failing health, in which case I agree with the critique that he was badgered in Columbine--but he had no compelling answers for Moore's legitimate questions, so what does that tell you). Similarly, Baron-Cohen engages in a mean (but in my view brilliant) style of comedy that through the pretense of being a moron or an alien to American culture reveals the repugnant (but accurate) aspects of some of the interviewees.

This deception is of another character entirely. Telling the scientists they would appear in an educational or public affairs oriented film about the real and interesting tensions between science and faith is a fraud when the actual product is a piece of pseudoscientific propaganda (I'm guessing the edits of their interviews aren't exactly representative of the nuances of their views). I'm sorry to see someone as accomplished in many fields as Ben Stein lending his services to a cause such as this.
9.27.2007 11:48am
DiverDan (mail):
Just why is so hard for those poor oppressed Intelligent Design Backers to understand that INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS JUST NOT SCIENCE -- That doesn't mean that the idea is false - it is possible (though in my view unlikely) that some unknown intelligent deity personally designed each multi-celled organism on earth; it just means that once you hypothesize the intervention of that deity in the origin or development of life, that hypothesis is by definition untestable by either experimentation or observation in accordance with the scientific method. In other words, explaining a scientific phenomenon by the use of devine intervention which cannot be recreated in the labratory or confirmed by direct observation necessarily takes that explanation outside the realm of science, since the hypothesis can never be either proven or disproven by the scientific method. ID backers are free to call it a "theory" or a "hypothesis" or even an "explanation" for how life originated and developed, but it is just a flat out LIE to try to call it "Science."
9.27.2007 11:57am
Dave B (mail):
DiverDan :) been there above but you clarified it with intensity and detail.
9.27.2007 12:03pm
SenatorX (mail):
I'm with DiverDan and Dave B! I wish pointing and laughing was enough to deal with these non-scientists but it isnt.

I don't know the law for squat but I would be pissed if someone lied to me for an interview and then used that interview for propaganda in something I not only didn't believe in but was against.

"From the NYT, in re Farenheit 9/11:
The most valid criticisms of the film are likely to involve the artful way that Mr. Moore connects the facts, and whether he has left out others that might undermine his scalding attack."

Hey look they used "artful"!
9.27.2007 12:24pm
DiverDan (mail):
Just wondering, do you think People would take ID more or less seriously if we just referred to it as "Magic"?
9.27.2007 12:28pm
Hoosier:
"Also, I don't think it is particularly unreasonable to believe that a group started out making Picture A, and ended up making Picture B. I suspect it happens all the time."

Because films, y'know, *evolve* as time passes.

I agree that this displays hypocrisy on the part of the Times. But what's new about that?

The larger issue of hypocrisy is less likely to get a hearing. Randy R. raises it by saying that schools should just "teach science." The question, however, is *What science?*

Harvard lost a president because his adversaries used against him his decision to raise a possibility about gender and intelligence that had significant *scientific backing.* One might also try to make the case that mothers should be the primary care-givers for their infants, referring to evidence from comparative primatology. (Try raising *that* that at the Faculty Senate!)

Our brains have evolved over the course of (roughly) 4 million years, since the first homonids showed up in NE Africa. It looks rather likely that all those years of evolution--during which gender-role differentiation was a fact of life--tweaked male and female brains in different ways. And the brains of infants in still other directions; directions which include the expectation that mom will be within sight most of the time.

You get in the soup for saying this at our *secular* universities.

So we have right-wingers who deny the *process* of evolution. We have left-wingers who deny the *implications* of evolution. Now, by all means, let's "teach science." Let's NOT truncate science to accomodate the sensitivites of various interest groups.

BUT ideas still do have consequences. And so do natural processes. The fundies on the right are not the ONLY fundies who are preaching junk science. Why are they the only ones that get bad press in, say, the "Chronicle of Higher Ed."?

Oh, right. I forgot. Some junk sciences are more junky than others.
9.27.2007 12:29pm
KevinQ (mail) (www):
I was trying to write a good response to the claims of ID proponents, but I think my boy M.C. Hawking (iTunes link) beat me to it.

K
9.27.2007 12:29pm
Fco (www):

Harvard lost a president because his adversaries used against him his decision to raise a possibility about gender and intelligence that had significant *scientific backing.*


His opinion wasn't about "intelligence", but different aptitudes for math and science.
9.27.2007 12:38pm
Ken Arromdee:
Those who believe in ID do face persecution, for the same reason that those who believe in a flat Earth do. There's no room in schools for free inquiry regarding the shape of the Earth.

Moreover, ID is an *intentional* lie. The main proponents of ID are creationists who know very well that ID is creationism in disguise and are willing to lie about it and claim it's scientific in order to get it taught. This has been documented.

(And leftists do a disservice by equating ID to opposing all science favored by the left. ID is not global warming, and making the comparison, instead of making opponents of leftist anti-global-warming measures look disreputable, makes ID look respectable instead.)
9.27.2007 12:38pm
merevaudevillian:
Though no fan of Michael Moore (cf. Thales), was he actually deceptive when approaching Charlton Heston, et al.? As far as I could tell, his "interviews" came more from aggressively approaching individuals and corporations (e.g., asking K-Mart for a refund of the bullets sold to Columbine students lodged in the back of a vicim), and less about "deceiving" them (e.g., approaching K-Mart as if he were discussing the "role of guns in society").

On the contrary, a more appropriate metaphor may be to the Gray Lady herself. I'm sure that investigative journalism often praises the opportunity to infiltrate an otherwise-forbidden territory to obtain the honest and frank assessments of individuals, then turn and use them against those individuals because they'd let their guard down. (Food Lion, anyone?)

Additionally, many documentaries "sneak" a camera into a discussion, with the immediate retort, "Well, had I known he had a camera, I never would have said those things."
9.27.2007 12:39pm
Ken Arromdee:
My question is: If this had been a post on Michael Moore's deception, would you have responded with: "sure it's bad, but think of all the rightwing deception that goes on." I suspect not.

Well, the point is hypocrisy: rightwing deception is opposed, but leftwing deception is accepted. Claims of hypocrisy are not generally made in the other direction.
9.27.2007 12:41pm
merevaudevillian:
I never understood the "ID is creationism in disguise" claim. ID doesn't demand a literal 6-day creation, which is the emphatic point of creationism. Regardless of your views of ID as science or not, ID only discusses from the scientific or statistical literature, not from Scriptural proof texts; and it makes no claim (at least, meta-ID doesn't) regarding the age of the earth. Finally, ID exists without reference to Genesis, which is the primary scientific text of creationism. If merely believing in a theistic universe automatically renders all of one's scientific endeavors as "creationist," well, I guess they can't even come to the table in the first place.
9.27.2007 12:43pm
Fco (www):
I don't expect Richard Dawkins would have participated in any documentary that falls short of demeaning faith and its believers.

Deception is wrong, plain and simple. The producers should not have misled the interviewees.

Besides, I doubt there's any opinion they obtained from him in the interview that couldn't obtain from his writings of previous interviews.
9.27.2007 12:47pm
DCraig:
With as far behind as the United States is in math and science with the rest of the world, I don't think scientists in academia should have to suffer the ID fools gladly.
9.27.2007 12:48pm
Hoosier:
fco--"aptitudes" in math and science does not correspond to "intelligence" in math and science? How so?
9.27.2007 12:48pm
Fco (www):
merevaudevillian

I never understood the "ID is creationism in disguise" claim. ID doesn't demand a literal 6-day creation, which is the emphatic point of creationism.


It does not demand it. ID is the global umbrella that encompasses any belief that God played a part, small or large, in how humans came to be. ID includes literal creationism to a divinely guided evolution perfectly compatible with science.

This is the problem with the vagueness of the term. Atheists hear ID and assume it's its most anti-scientific version.
9.27.2007 12:53pm
Anderson (mail):
If only the ID film had featured Borat investigating the issues.

"In Kazakhstan, we believe universe begin in giant yak fart. My professor teaches me this in college. Is there job for my professor at American university? Why not?"
9.27.2007 12:54pm
Ken Arromdee:
On the contrary, a more appropriate metaphor may be to the Gray Lady herself. I'm sure that investigative journalism often praises the opportunity to infiltrate an otherwise-forbidden territory to obtain the honest and frank assessments of individuals, then turn and use them against those individuals because they'd let their guard down. (Food Lion, anyone?)

Instead of showing that deception by filmmakers is good, this just shows that deception by journalists is bad too. It sounds good; who can be against journalists finding the truth? But misleading interviewees not only makes it easier to get candid statements that can be legitimately used against them; it also makes it easier to use statements out of context.

Not to mention the situation where the interviewee would (if not misled) refuse to speak not because he's afraid of the truth getting out, but because he doesn't want to give someone else undeserved publicity.
9.27.2007 12:55pm
Anderson (mail):
ID includes literal creationism to a divinely guided evolution perfectly compatible with science.

Dishonesty, or ignorance?

"Divinely guided evolution" is not evolution by natural selection, which is the most successful theory in the history of biology.

"Divinely guided evolution" is not subject to scientific study. Science investigates into causes and effects. The ID fakers spend their time searching for things which, they claim, have no causal explanation -- "ergo, God did it!" That ain't science.
9.27.2007 12:56pm
RL:
I don't think the producers' tactics were reprehensible. Deception for entertainment purposes happens all the time, from Michael Moore to Ali G. But that doesn't necessarily bode well for the movie's premise. I find it telling that the producers did not talk to Christians like Dr. Collins, who have not suffered any workplace repercussions for their beliefs.

I am married to a scientist and I know firsthand that publication, hiring, and tenure decisions are riddled with mystery, intrigue, and unfairness. It's convenient for those who get the short end of the stick to have a reason to point to, but that doesn't mean that there is some nefarious campaign at work.

As for Ruloff's claim that "he knew researchers, whom he would not name, who had studied cellular mechanisms and made findings 'riddled with metaphysical implications' and suggestive of an intelligent designer. But they are afraid to report them." I call bs. Science is about explaining things, not taking on faith that there can be no scientific explanation. The journals aren't exactly going to celebrate a "finding" that there are phenomena that cannot presently be explained. If these researchers want to advance their ID claims based on metaphysical phenomena that we don't yet understand, there are plenty of people who will embrace them, just not within the scientific community.
9.27.2007 1:00pm
Chukuang:
An NYT archive search reveals more criticism than praise of Moore.

Very true. Do any of you who claim the NYT lauds Moore's tactics have some cites?
9.27.2007 1:01pm
Fco (www):
Hoosier:

fco--"aptitudes" in math and science does not correspond to "intelligence" in math and science? How so?

There are many qualities to intelligence than just proficiency in math and science.

I'd wager most of us IT guys are better at math and science than the more law oriented regulars at this blog. Likewise I couldn't hold my own in a legal argument with any of them. Doesn't mean one group is necessarily more intelligent than the other. (No offense meant to anyone)
9.27.2007 1:03pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Would the interviewees have spoken differently if they'd known the interviewer's true intentions? If so, then it appears the deception was justified. If not, what's the difference?
9.27.2007 1:07pm
Elliot Reed:
Harvard lost a president because his adversaries used against him his decision to raise a possibility about gender and intelligence that had significant *scientific backing.* One might also try to make the case that mothers should be the primary care-givers for their infants, referring to evidence from comparative primatology. (Try raising *that* that at the Faculty Senate!)
Yes, one might make such a case. But if one's academic expertise is in an unrelated field, and there are plenty of vastly better-qualified scholars around, people might wonder why you're talking about something you don't actually know all that much about. Especially if you do it by giving the impression that you actually got your ideas from anecdotal evidence involving your children. And especially if your job involves setting University policy. I think people might reasonably conclude that you're really sending a different message but trying to pretend you aren't so you can avoid criticism.
9.27.2007 1:08pm
Hattio (mail):
Perhaps the reason the producers of the film won't admit they lied is because the people expected to pay hard earned money to see the film are, by and large, Christian and they fear that Christians won't put down their moeny to see admitted liars. Based on the responses on this thread, I would say they have little to worry about. But I doubt this thread is representative.
9.27.2007 1:08pm
Minnesota Reader:
What does the post have to do with the New York Times anyway? Stick to the underlying facts. (If it helps, imagine that your favored news outlet was the source of the story.)

Criticism can be leveled at Moore and Cohen as well as the producers, but that doesn't mitigate the questionable tactics of the makers of the documentary. (I'd argue there's a qualitative difference between what was done here and what Cohen does for entertainment purposes. Likewise, I think everyone knows Michael Moore's schtick these days.)
9.27.2007 1:16pm
Fco (www):
Anderson:


Dishonesty, or ignorance?

Neither. It's quite compatible to believe an event is ordained by God while still scientifically explainable. But this is off topic anyway.
9.27.2007 1:26pm
ray_g:
"I never understood the "ID is creationism in disguise""

Then you have not been paying attention. ID appeared shortly after the all attempts to get so-called "Creation Science" into schools had failed. As someone above noted, it has been pretty much proven that the creationists planned this strategy. See:

especially page 26, the paragraph starting with "A significant aspect of the IDM..."
9.27.2007 1:26pm
WhataboutStringTheory:
"Divinely guided evolution" is not subject to scientific study. Science investigates into causes and effects. The ID fakers spend their time searching for things which, they claim, have no causal explanation -- "ergo, God did it!" That ain't science.


Not to go off on a tangent, but how is string theory any different? If you look at the history of string theory, it seems that it's a misnomer to even call it a "theory," as it cannot be replicated, verified, or falsified. Take it with a grain of salt, but here's what Wikipedia says about string theory:


"No version of string theory has yet made an experimentally verified prediction that differs from those made by other theories... Because string theory may not be tested in the foreseeable future, some scientists have asked if it even deserves to be called a scientific theory; it is not falsifiable in the sense of Popper... Recently, the discovery of the string theory landscape, which suggests that string theory has an exponentially large number of different vacua, led to discussions of what string theory might eventually be expected to predict, and to the worry that the answer might continue to be nothing."
9.27.2007 1:27pm
ray_g:
Well, the link didn't work, so here is the URL in text form:

http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/12/20/kitzmiller.pdf
9.27.2007 1:27pm
The Mechanical Eye (mail) (www):
An NYT archive search reveals more criticism than praise of Moore.

Very true. Do any of you who claim the NYT lauds Moore's tactics have some cites?


Let's just say it's a matter of faith.

DU
9.27.2007 1:28pm
r78:

I am no fan of intelligent design, intelligent design advocates, or their disingenuous tactics, but it's a stunning double-standard that the New York Times finds this more problematic than earlier identical efforts that they shrugged off or applauded like Michael Moore's or Sasha Baron-Cohen's.

Tee hee hee. And I look forward to the NYT expose that people filmed on candid camera were not warned beforehand that the mailbox which spewed their envelopes back out was not a real mailbox.

Oh, and all the people on America's Funniest Home Videos who were lured into thinking they were just getting a glass of punch when, horror or horrors, there was somebody lurking under the table ready to stick a fake zombie hand up through the bottom of the bowl.

Oh, the perfidity of the NYT, when will it end?
9.27.2007 1:29pm
ray_g:
"Not to go off on a tangent, but how is string theory any different?"

I have always been very skeptical of string theory, for the very reasons you quote from Wikipedia, but the difference is that the proponents of string theory are not proposing any supernatural explainations for it. So what is your point, that since string theory isn't testable then we should allow ID? Wrong, what we should do is strongly insist that the string theory proponents finally propose some way it may be tested, or admit that the theory isn't real science. Which is exactly what I insist from ID proponents.
9.27.2007 1:34pm
Anderson (mail):
Not to go off on a tangent, but how is string theory any different?

Whatabout, that is *exactly* why many physicists don't buy string theory, at least not until it can be verified by experiment. For instance.

It's quite compatible to believe an event is ordained by God while still scientifically explainable.

But the "ordained by God" part isn't science, and the ID people are precisely wanting ID included in the field of science.

It's quite compatible to believe that JFK was killed by an assassin's bullet, while also believing that his death was ordained by God as a punishment for his sins. But we wouldn't teach the latter in a history course.
9.27.2007 1:38pm
Fco (www):
Anderson:

But the "ordained by God" part isn't science, and the ID people are precisely wanting ID included in the field of science.

It's quite compatible to believe that JFK was killed by an assassin's bullet, while also believing that his death was ordained by God as a punishment for his sins. But we wouldn't teach the latter in a history course.


Agreed. On all points.
9.27.2007 1:42pm
WhataboutStringTheory:
So what is your point, that since string theory isn't testable then we should allow ID? Wrong, what we should do is strongly insist that the string theory proponents finally propose some way it may be tested, or admit that the theory isn't real science. Which is exactly what I insist from ID proponents.


I didn't mean to imply that we should "allow" ID as science. But string theory has a large, large following, and is claimed as a legitimite science when it cannot be verified, falsified, replicated, or even proven. Yet string theory proponents aren't being thrown out of the university yet. I think they should. I think string theory is complete garbage. It, along with ID, has no place in science. String theorists who say that there are multiple universes are no different than the writers at DC comics who think that Earth-3's Superman is evil.
9.27.2007 1:48pm
Brian K (mail):
Because string theory may not be tested in the foreseeable future,

this is not the same thing as not being falsifiable. Just because we don't currently have the ability to do something doesn't mean it's not possible. There was a scientific american article a few (3-5) months back that described a few experiments on the drawing board to test string theory.

ID on the other is not falsifiable no matter how good our technology gets in the future. hence, it is not science...it is a matter of faith and belief and belongs in the church not in the schools.
9.27.2007 1:49pm
Reno (mail):
Diver Dan says "Just why is so hard for those poor oppressed Intelligent Design Backers to understand that INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS JUST NOT SCIENCE"

I've taken numerous science courses dealing with evolution and still haven't seen any proof of the origins of life using the scientific method. Showing that "the chicken came before the egg" (or vice versa)has also never been proven or disproven by the scientific method; by Dan's rationale, then, EVOLUTION IS JUST NOT SCIENCE either.

Just this month scientists determined that the decades of science backing the timing of the natural evolution of man (homo erectus - homo sapien, etc.) is inaccurate. FWIW, I don't support ID either. But to say that the origin of life has been proven via the scientific method (i.e. Evolution) is clearly wrong.

Maybe neither should be taught in school, since neither is "proven"....
9.27.2007 1:50pm
Chris Bell (mail):
WhataboutStringTheory

The difference between string theory and ID is that string theory is a scientific theory. It gives a natural explanation and allows you to make predictions.

The problem is that string theory can only be tested at incredibly high energy states. It does make predictions that could be tested by experiment, but we currently lack the technology to run the experiments. (And we aren't likely to have the technology anytime soon.) Reread your own quote in this context:

No version of string theory has yet made an experimentally verified prediction that differs from those made by other theories... Because string theory may not be tested in the foreseeable future, some scientists have asked if it even deserves to be called a scientific theory

String theory is a theory, but what good is a theory we can't test for hundreds of years? That's the debate over string theory.

Also, no one is trying to teach strong theory to 9th graders....
9.27.2007 1:57pm
Brian K (mail):
Whataboutstringtheory,

that's nice use of ellipses.

you conveniently removed this sentence from your quote:
"The energy scales at which it would be possible to see the stringy nature of particles is much greater than that experimentally accessible"
9.27.2007 1:57pm
ray_g:
"Yet string theory proponents aren't being thrown out of the university yet."

Again, the key difference is that, unlike ID, they are not proposing that a kindly old white haired man in the sky did it. (But that may be next, then the tar and feathers should come out). So there is still a (IMO slim) hope for it.

Actually, the writers at DC are on stronger ground because, well, in that case they are the creators. So they should know.
9.27.2007 2:00pm
SenatorX (mail):
Popper talks quite a bit about philosophical nature of physicists and the history of the thought process. It's quite interesting and there is a lot of meat there. I've always thought any physicist would do himself a great service by reading Popper.
9.27.2007 2:01pm
Dan Weber (www):
I've taken numerous science courses dealing with evolution and still haven't seen any proof of the origins of life using the scientific method. Showing that "the chicken came before the egg" (or vice versa)has also never been proven or disproven by the scientific method; by Dan's rationale, then, EVOLUTION IS JUST NOT SCIENCE either.


Intelligent design isn't science because you can't come up with a test to falsify it.

Evolution is, because you can.

Scientists still don't know exactly how the first life came to be, although there are a whole bunch of theories. This doesn't mean that their work isn't science. It means they don't know.

There's no requirement that a scientist must be able to answer all questions conclusively for their field to be science.
9.27.2007 2:01pm
glangston (mail):
But the "ordained by God" part isn't science, and the ID people are precisely wanting ID included in the field of science.

It's quite compatible to believe that JFK was killed by an assassin's bullet, while also believing that his death was ordained by God as a punishment for his sins. But we wouldn't teach the latter in a history course.



Orthodoxy is more along the lines that it was the fault of the NRA, gun manufacturers and scary people that own firearms in general.
9.27.2007 2:01pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Reno

If you have taken "numerous science courses" dealing with evolution perhaps you should ask for your money back.

First, evolution has nothing to do with the "origins of life." Evolution deals only with the change of life over time, assuming that life has already originated. You're looking for "abiogenesis".

Second, your point about a change in the evolution of man shows nothing. Evolution only predicts that man evolved from a lower species. It doesn't say when, it doesn't say where. The fact that we reevaluated when and where man evolved doesn't affect the underlying theory in the least. Did you see any (real) scientist come out and say, "Oops, evolution is wrong. Turns out that man didn't evolve after all..." No. All they said was that "It turns out that man may have evolved in a different time and place than we thought."
9.27.2007 2:05pm
DiverDan (mail):
Reno states"


Showing that "the chicken came before the egg" (or vice versa)has also never been proven or disproven by the scientific method; by Dan's rationale, then, EVOLUTION IS JUST NOT SCIENCE either.


That is really faulty logic, and based on a false premise. The whole "Chicken/Egg" issue is quite easily solved by logic if one insists upon precise definitions; if we are speaking of "Egg" generically, then there is quite ample proof that the egg came first; dinosaurs, and before them amphibians, and even before the first land-dwelling animals fish, were all producing "eggs" aeons before birds, let alone chickens, ever appeared on earth. Even if we define the term "Egg" to mean "Chicken Egg", does that mean: (a) an Egg which came from a chicken (in which case of course the chicken had to come first); or (b) an Egg which produces a chicken (in which case the Egg came first, as its mother was the very last "Proto-Chicken", and the genetic differences between the mother and the Egg were just enough to differentiate the offspring as a new species, denominated as the "Chicken").

Even if we assume that there are mysteries which are not (yet) fully explained by evolution does NOT mean that it cannot be a science; evolution does explain a great many developments in the gradual development of life forms, both on the macro scale (i.e., development of new species) and on the micro scale (changes in the cellular structure and at the level of organs), and does NOT call for a reliance upon a deus ex machina for those changes which it can't yet explain. Reno simply fails to understand my rationale (I thought I put it clearly enough), or doesn't like the conclusion I reach, and seeks to discredit me by obfuscation and derision, rather than logic and analysis. Now THAT is a fine example of how the Scientific Method does NOT work.
9.27.2007 2:19pm
WhataboutStringTheory:
From what I understand about string theory, the problem is not that the energy levels required to test it don't exist yet, but that the theory itself can't be tested, period, because it inherently stretches the possibilities of stings to infinity, meaning that to disprove the theory would require the rejection of an infinite number of possibilities.

Merely calling something a theory doesn't make it a theory.
9.27.2007 2:23pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Any school that receives public funding shouldn't be teaching junk science at all,

Oops! There goes all those courses on Marxism, Feminism, psychology, etc. Half the university courses gone in a flash.
9.27.2007 2:24pm
DiverDan (mail):
Reno also states, with respect to ID and Evolution, that


Maybe neither should be taught in school, since neither is "proven"....


This displays a fundamental misunderstanding of just what constitutes "science" ... Science is not just a finite list of all natural phenomena which have been proven, it is an accepted methodology for discovering causal explanations for those phenomena which are testable and replicable through experimentation and observation. If Reno, or any other ID Backer is able to design an experiment or describe a means of observation so that the precise time and method of devine intervention in the development of life can be proven (or disproven) experimentally or by observation, and I will admit its place in science.
9.27.2007 2:29pm
Hoya:
Is the Anderson-style anti-ID claim the claim that

(1) the probability of speciation as it is is not higher given both natural processes as we know them and the existence of a designing intelligence that could (e.g.) set initial conditions than the probability given the natural processes alone, or

(2) even if the probability is higher, the sort of investigation that one would do regarding such a designing intelligence must employ the sorts of techniques that would preclude it from being scientific?
9.27.2007 2:38pm
Hoosier:
fco--Ok. Sorry, I misunderstood your first post. I think that "intelligence" is implied by "aptitude," in the sense that "multiple intelligences" advocates use that term. I didn't mean to imply a correlation with "overall" intelligence, whatever that is.

Elliot Reed: So . . let me see if I have this--If you are not an expert, and if there are other peoople who ARE experts who don't agree with you, and if you illustrate your point with an anectdote, THEN . . . Well, then WHAT? You do not have any business expressing an opinion? you should lose your job? You shoud lose your job, but only if people like Elliot Reed don't like the broader implications of what you said?

The Harvard case raisesissues of both academic integrity and freedom: You can be run out of the Big Office for shooting your mouth off about some topicsd, but not others. This is what I take to be the implications of your response. I suspect I'm wrong. So can you explain why?
9.27.2007 2:39pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I think the reality of ID arguments in terms of causes is to say "there is absolutely no possibility of a rational scientific cause for this effect, and therefore it is the result of supernatural forces beyond our ability to apprehend".

That's a real scientific result. You follow the chain, and then you point at some position along the chain and say "this is where the science ends". Good science accepts that sometimes this happens.

Where we hit problems is in the scientific community's refusal (not inability; they're smart enough to know better, they just pretend otherwise) to understand that drawing the line is not the same as wildly speculating about what's on the other side of it. You need to distinguish between the people who say "here's the line and we can't go past it", and the people out on the fringe going "here's the line where we start using THE BIBLE instead of rational scientific reasoning!" - which is a massive leap of faith that simply isn't appropriate in this context.
9.27.2007 2:48pm
therut:
Gee not this again!!!! They whole problem is caused by people who want to use evolution to prove there is no God. If people like Dawkins were scorned by their peers instead of lauded as a prophet of the TRUTH then things would be different. Evolution IS used for political ideological reasons as a dull knife aganist religion. Everyone knows and Dawkins will in a small voice say Evolution does not say anthing about origins. But then he goes on a rant aganist religion that is intolerable to the majority of mankind. Evolutionists like him are their own worst enemies.
9.27.2007 2:49pm
Dan Weber (www):
I think the reality of ID arguments in terms of causes is to say "there is absolutely no possibility of a rational scientific cause for this effect, and therefore it is the result of supernatural forces beyond our ability to apprehend".

What such effects are you talking about?
9.27.2007 2:52pm
Jay Myers:
DiverDan:

In other words, explaining a scientific phenomenon by the use of devine intervention which cannot be recreated in the labratory or confirmed by direct observation necessarily takes that explanation outside the realm of science, since the hypothesis can never be either proven or disproven by the scientific method.

Forgive me for being snarky, but are you suggesting that we can create either a new universe via a "big bang" or life from inanimate material in the labratory or otherwise directly observe those things happening?
9.27.2007 3:13pm
Hoosier:
therut: "Evolutionists like him are their own worst enemies."

I've always thought this to be the case. But you've said it better.

But that's just right. And it goes beyond just the matter of what Dawkins and co. say about religion. You don't have to be a Biblical literalist to notice this. After Einstein and Heisenberg, et al., the Enlightenment definition of what science is and does has been revised substantially.

It turns out that scientific "facts" are really just the best explanations for phenomena. Newton's law of universal gravitation works great for falling apples, but not for black holes. Euclid had the right idea about parallel lines, unless you extend them father than he ever thought of going.

It doesn't mean that Euclid and Newton were wrong. Just incomplete. And not universally applicable, in the literal sense of that word.

But now we find scientists who will respond to Creationists by saying that evolution is "FACT." That's how it happened. Period. This is wholly insupportable. I certainly HOPE that my grandchildren will someday study a theory of evolution that is quite different than what I learned several years ago. If they don't, it will mean that no progress has been made in evolutionary biology.

Evolution is not "a fact." it is a 'theory." It is also the BEST theory out there right now, and certainly the only "scientific" theory. But it plays into the hands of Creationsists to say that "We know this for a fact." This allows them to point out all the things that science still does not know about evolution, and say, Aha! You really don't know any more than we do.

And even worse, it is a terrible pedagogical approach to teaching about scientific method. Far better to spend TV time explaining that "theory" means one thing to IDers, and something rather more specific to scientists.
9.27.2007 3:13pm
drakeman (mail):
This is an easy one to field. ID is bunk. The funniest part is it has evolved from creationism to adapt to the changing situation. It's bunk and nothing more. There is supporting evidence for evolution and not ID.

Take your faith to your homes... teach your children what you want at home. Science made this country great. I would rather have solid science protecting me from the boogie men in the world.

Finally..to all those willing to sacrifice scientific thought and process for bunk science should give up all the things science has so nicely provided. No more microwave ovens, cars, airplanes, cell phones, flat screen TVs, electric power to yor air conditioners, playstations, contact lenses, medical treatments, doritos, plastic wrap, water heaters, blow dryers, ipods, computers, GPS and all that great military technology -oooha. I'll bet you're not ready to question all these other "theories" are you. Well they were developed through the same careful scientific process using "theories" to find the unbiased truth.

Long live the flying spaghetti monster.

Bunk
9.27.2007 3:17pm
Hoosier:
"since the hypothesis can never be either proven or disproven by the scientific method."

Always a deangerous course for theists to take: The "God of the Gaps" can disappear when science manages, to its own surprise, to fill in the gap. I mean, this is why Darwin held on to his manuscript for so long, and why it depressed him so much to have written it in the first place: If you need the Genesis Creation to have faith, and then the Fifth and Sixth Days get explained without reference to God, it can be mighty disturbing.
9.27.2007 3:18pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Caliban:

I think the reality of ID arguments in terms of causes is to say "there is absolutely no possibility of a rational scientific cause for this effect, and therefore it is the result of supernatural forces beyond our ability to apprehend".

I disagree with you that this is "scientific." As you (correctly) say, ID assumes there is NO natural explanation. How can you ever show that? You can't prove a negative, especially using science.

ID spends its time trying to critique evolution. Even if evolution were disproven (which is unlikely), it doesn't show that there isn't some OTHER natural explanation.

That's the "false dualism" of ID. Evolution can't be right, so it must be supernatural. <-- Not true.

Science works by hypothesizing an affirmative statement that can be proven false, then trying to prove it false. Every witness at Dover admitted that ID requires changing the definition of science.
9.27.2007 3:21pm
Hoosier:
And I must thank drakeman for providing a fine parody(?) of the attitude I was just talking about.
9.27.2007 3:22pm
fishbane (mail):
They whole problem is caused by people who want to use evolution to prove there is no God.

Are you asserting that if Dawkins would shut his yap that Michael Behe, Phillip Johnson, et al will stop pushing to get ID taught in schools?

If so, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying...
9.27.2007 3:27pm
Hoosier:
Chris Bell: Well, it seems to me that you've hit the nail on the head. Unsing Popper's language, a scientific theory is subject to falsifiablity. But verifiability really isn't science's bag. Even IF evolution were shown to be wrong, or too incomplete to explain newly-discovered data, that would not PROVE any given alternate theory.
9.27.2007 3:33pm
drakeman (mail):
Hoosier:

Thank you for the compliment. I'm just used my computer to enter this response. once I clicked "post" it traveled at roughly the calculated speed of light on a network to another computer which stored it on a hard drive digitally making it available for presentation to anyone who wishes to use the same technology to retrieve it.

This all happens because men have questioned and tested theories. This is science.

All other feel free to believe that some form of invisible being wills it to be displayed on your screens.

Thank you... Thank you... Thank You...
9.27.2007 3:43pm
Ken Arromdee:
I never understood the "ID is creationism in disguise" claim. ID doesn't demand a literal 6-day creation, which is the emphatic point of creationism. Regardless of your views of ID as science or not, ID only discusses from the scientific or statistical literature, not from Scriptural proof texts; and it makes no claim (at least, meta-ID doesn't) regarding the age of the earth. Finally, ID exists without reference to Genesis, which is the primary scientific text of creationism. If merely believing in a theistic universe automatically renders all of one's scientific endeavors as "creationist," well, I guess they can't even come to the table in the first place.

I'm not deducing that it's creationism by saying "that's theistic, so it's creationism".

I'm deducing that it's creationism because their supporters outlined a strategy that specifically says that ID is creationism but they had plans to deliberately lie about it.
9.27.2007 3:48pm
Anderson (mail):
Arguing that we can't "prove" Darwinism b/c we can't observe the origins of life, is like saying we can't "prove" astrophysics b/c we can't observe the Big Bang.
9.27.2007 3:59pm
Anderson (mail):
Is the Anderson-style anti-ID claim the claim that

(1) the probability of speciation as it is is not higher given both natural processes as we know them and the existence of a designing intelligence that could (e.g.) set initial conditions than the probability given the natural processes alone, or

(2) even if the probability is higher, the sort of investigation that one would do regarding such a designing intelligence must employ the sorts of techniques that would preclude it from being scientific?


If I may pose as an expert on "Anderson-style claims," the answer is "both."
9.27.2007 4:01pm
Hoosier:
Anderson: So you classify the Big Bang as a proven fact? I'm under the impression that there are cosmologists who are still unsure.

But that's the point: there is always the chance that another Copernican-type revolution will occur, making what we "now know" look fairly stupid.

drakeman (above) claims to know The Truth. But his argument is complete, textbook pragmatism: I do x, and y always happens. So science works. But that is not a truth claim.

Even theoretical physics and cosmology rely on pragmatism for their justification: The Big Bang *works* better than any other theory we currently have. That is, it explains things like the expanding universe and entropy better than other current theories. But that does not make it "true."
9.27.2007 4:41pm
Adeez (mail):
For those interested, go to Intentblog and check out its extensive series of articles called the Quantum Holistic Relativity Project. It's a great first step toward the coming merger of science and spirituality. Oh, and one of the recent articles posits that the Big Bang did not occur.

ID is true, if defined the "right" way. Then again, "God" exists as well, depending on the "right" definition of God. Hint: it's not a man in the sky.
9.27.2007 4:46pm
Anderson (mail):
So you classify the Big Bang as a proven fact? I'm under the impression that there are cosmologists who are still unsure.

It's as proved as most things. There are *always* a few people who are unsure about almost anything.

As for your distinction re: "true," well, that gets us into Pontius Pilate's question: "What is truth?" About which there's no agreement, so on your account, there is no "truth" about truth. So I don't see the force of the objection.

Pragmatists however would suggest that whatever works is true to that extent.
9.27.2007 4:49pm
Hoosier:
Well, yes. Or "No, Duh!" Or "wahtever." If you define truth as what works, then what works is true.

Of course, that definition makes my toaster "true." And I'm not sure how that helps.
9.27.2007 4:59pm
Anderson (mail):
Of course, that definition makes my toaster "true."

Well, it makes it true that it's a toaster.
9.27.2007 5:10pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"But if one's academic expertise is in an unrelated field, and there are plenty of vastly better-qualified scholars around, people might wonder why you're talking about something you don't actually know all that much about."

This would leave all of us with very little to say.
9.27.2007 5:16pm
Ted Frank (www):
"This deception is of another character entirely. Telling the scientists they would appear in an educational or public affairs oriented film about the real and interesting tensions between science and faith is a fraud"

As is well-documented, the people who appeared on Baron-Cohen's television programs and movies were identically deceived about the nature of the interview in advance of the interview. They were told that they were being interviewed for a serious news program from a small production company, not that they were being pranked by a British actor for HBO or a big studio.

As for the hypocrisy:

NY Times on Moore: Mr. Moore makes no attempt to be fair. Playing fair is for college football. In social criticism, anything goes, as it goes triumphantly in ''Roger and Me.''

NY Times on Baron-Cohen: Like Borat and Bruno, another of the comic's similarly obtuse television alter egos who made regular appearances on the shows, the joke was equally on Ali G and on the targets of his calculated ignorance. ... "If the comic can berate and finally blow the bully out of the water," [Jerry] Lewis once wrote, "he has hitched himself to an identifiable human purpose." Sacha Baron Cohen doesn't blow bullies out of the water; he obliterates them.

For a leftist cause, "anything goes"; for a religious cause, the fraud is emphasized.

Do I disagree with ID? Absolutely. It's an embarrassment when I see right-wingers trumpet it as an alternative to evolution; I'm a lifetime member of Eugenie Scott's NCSE; the article makes me lose still more respect for Ben Stein, who has exhausted virtually all of my goodwill in the last couple of years. But this stupid little documentary is a mote compared to the beams the Times praises to the high heavens.
9.27.2007 6:04pm
drakeman (mail):
It's a crusade against science. It isn't enough to teach personal religious beliefs to your own children. You have to teach them to everyones children or your god won't be happy. This has all the makings to turn out OK.

Teach religion in your places of worship and keep science to the class room. If you don't want your children to learn science then keep them out class. I am sure we can work out the refunds.
9.27.2007 6:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
Regarding Ben Stein: "He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called "From Darwin to Hitler."

Stein is confusing Dawinisn with social darwinism. They are two completelly different ideas. Real evolution and Darwinism posits that all species evolved from an earlier, usually less complex, species. Social darwinism is taking the 'survival of the fittest' to mean that humans can and should get rid of people who are less fit, such as the disabled, the mentally ill, and others deemed 'handicapped' or otherwise undesirable.

Of course, this is a serious misreading, and no evolutionist has made this claim. Hitler did, though, and others who had an agenda. They twisted science to justify their own inhumanity, but that has nothing to do with science.

We have a clear theory of gravity. If I use that theory to drop a pot on someone's head, I am using it for evil means, but you can't blame Newton or even gravity for my bad behavior, no matter how much I try to shift the blame to them.

I sympathize with people who don't want social darwinism because I don't want it either. But the fact that they are ignorant about what they are talking about hardly means that their ignorance should be acceptable.
9.27.2007 10:24pm
Randy R. (mail):
Drakeman: " If you don't want your children to learn science then keep them out class. I am sure we can work out the refunds."

I sort of agree. but sadly, this is exactly why so many people are behind vouchers or home schooling. They want their kids shielded from real life. And they certainly don't want their kids to be taught that (shudder) gays are people too.

No doubt they have a similar fear of the atheists lurking behind every corner of school, too.
9.27.2007 10:28pm
drakeman (mail):
Randy R.

You're correct. It is the issue proposed as school vouchers. This is another wedge issue created to distract everyone from the rest of the real stuff going on.

Unfortunately since creationism and the incognito ID are based on a religious belief they belongs in religious schools which should not be separately funded from taxes.

We should all be tired of the wedge issues ruining the major goals. The world isn't perfect and the general education of the american population is in the best welfare of the nation. There will be all kinds of objections, but it's not about removing any single God from the schools it's about keeping all religious agendas out.

Idea to self:

If they start teaching religious ideas in the public schools then the rest of us should ask for vouchers to start the really progressive and advanced schools. Who will they blame it on then when their children are as backwards a 15th century serfs?

Long live the flying spaghetti monster!
9.27.2007 11:03pm
DiverDan (mail):
Jan Myers states:

"Forgive me for being snarky, but are you suggesting that we can create either a new universe via a "big bang" or life from inanimate material in the labratory or otherwise directly observe those things happening?"

Jan, your snarkiness is forgiven. Now, as to your ignorance of facts, the existence of the Big Bang, while not replicable in a laboratory (since that would require the creation of a very high mass singularity, i.e., a Black Hole, which would then proceed to gobble up the laboratory, the University, and the whole Earth, presumably a result you would find unpleasant), HAS been demonstrated by observational evidence in the form of Cosmic Background microwave radiation (you might be aware that a couple of fellows named Penzias and Wilson received the Nobel Prize for that discovery). Further, while the creation of life has not yet been achieved in the laboratory (as least so far as I know), amino acids, the basic building blocks of DNA and RNA, have been formed in the laboratory from inorganic compounds (a soup of water, methane, ammonia, and other hydrogen compounds common in the early earth environment, and treated to an electrical charge, such as what might come from a bolt of lightning) as long ago as 1954, and scientists at MIT have created self-replicating organic molecules from inorganic compounds in the lab; this is certainly experimental evidence which supports a natural cause for abiogenisis, which does NOT require devine intervention.
9.28.2007 1:23am
Shane (mail):
All this talk about Popper and falsifiability, but nobody has mentioned Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions yet. It's easier to dismiss ID as pseudoscience when you use a post-Kuhnian definition of science/pseudoscience. Popper's definitions has a problem in that plenty of disciplines which we consider to be "real science" are not easily falsifiable (which can be seen from the comment thread). For example, medical science and meteorology often makes probabilistic predictions, which makes it difficult to falsify the underlying theory.

And if it seems like I don't know what I'm talking about, it's because I really don't. I took one introductory course on the philosophy of science years ago and didn't even earn an A.
9.28.2007 1:45am
Randy R. (mail):
DRakeman:"If they start teaching religious ideas in the public schools then the rest of us should ask for vouchers to start the really progressive and advanced schools. "

Now there's an idea I can live with!

But seriously, our nation's future really does depend on whether the population at large is really educated properly. You can't have a thriving global economy when half the people are thinking the earth is flat and ignorant of any place other than than own little town. But that's an issue for another thread.....
9.28.2007 2:30am
Dave B (mail):
I guess I had a bunch of reading to update myself on this thread!

Fco, Hoosier, and Elliot Reed, unfortunately I think you have confused the Harvard President issue. What I believe he was talking about was that the variability, and thus the standard deviation, of data on men and women are different. That much had been factually substantiated (i.e. true). Nevertheless, arithmetic mean of the data was not different.

What that meant in lay terms: Lower number of hyper-intelligent and hyper-unintelligent (mentally challenged) women. This does not mean that women are on average any less intelligent than men. A misconception due to the math terms that even college educated folks commonly misconstrue, and I still likely can and will.

To picture this: The picture for the data as mentioned above would look like two bell curves with overlapping peaks but the slopes of one line would appear greater (thinner and having a smaller standard deviation) and one lesser (wideer having a larger standard deviation).

The reason for the lost job: Being inconsiderate and tactless. Being the President means being able to censor what would sound hurtful and be inappropriate given a forum. While there may be data behind it, the annunciation of it in a speech and your interpretations about it are probably left for close company. Just like you are advised not to talk about your politics or religion on a first date. Or, to order spaghetti (sorry Tramp).

People who read what was actually said usually don't deny that there were data behind the statements. It was largely considered that the choice in using them in the way he did was the irreconcilable problem.
9.28.2007 2:42am
Dave B (mail):
By the way: Tramp was "Lady and the"
9.28.2007 2:44am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Yet string theory proponents aren't being thrown out of the university yet."

Perhaps this is because, unprovable though their theory may yet be, they don't spend most of their time and energy trying to undermine the teaching of physics.

"String theorists who say that there are multiple universes are no different than the writers at DC comics who think that Earth-3's Superman is evil."

Oh dear.
9.28.2007 4:02am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
These Darwinists don't know that you are supposed to smile and say "I'll be darned" when told that you are on Candid Camera.

I would just love to have moviemakers and authors mislead me while giving me an opportunity to widely publicize myself and my views. May they make a complete sucker out of me. May I be completely bamboozled. May they show me no mercy.

These Darwinists should be grateful for these opportunities to get publicity for themselves and their views. They take these opportunities for granted. And they should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Here is a related article on my blog.

BTW, Jonathan, could you invite me to write a guest article for this blog? I could use the publicity.
9.28.2007 7:41am
drakeman (mail):
Randy R:

We speak the same language. Public education for the general population is paramount to the health and vitality of the nation. The right wing religious fanatics just want to keep the ground unstable with petty discussions which keep everyone occupied while the big stuff happens. I say we all just answer short and sweet: It's Bunk! and move on to real issues. If they say we are being insensitive to their faith then I say No - faith doesn't have anything to do with it.

To Larry Farfaman:

What are you talking about.. These are scientists with hard earned reputations and not Paris Hilton with herpes. Being mislead and wrongly used is not a GOOD THING.

These people care dearly for their reputations and want people to acknowledge them for their contributions to the progress of humanity. Instead they have been unmercifully placed in a film who's audience are people who will throw popcorn and boo them as if they are the cause of america's problems.

Sorry if I can't see your logic.
9.28.2007 10:30am
Randy R. (mail):
And I don't care if I'm insensitive to their faith. They don't care if they are insensitive to atheists, or moderate religious people, or Muslims.
9.28.2007 11:31am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
What are you talking about.. These are scientists with hard earned reputations and not Paris Hilton with herpes. Being mislead and wrongly used is not a GOOD THING.

If these stuck-up Darwinists are unhappy about appearing in this film, I would gladly appear in their place.
9.28.2007 3:00pm
drakeman (mail):
Larry:

If I read you correctly you say that the Darwinists should be happy for the publicity. Save the "all publicity is good publicity" for consumer products and low ball celebrities. Scientists live by the strength of their reputations.

SO It is not a GOOD THING to have publicity from being mislead and misused when your reputation is important to you. You seem to see any publicity as a being a GOOD THING.
9.28.2007 3:46pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
My heart bleeds for these poor, victimized Darwinists.
9.28.2007 4:29pm
markm (mail):
There's no requirement that a scientist must be able to answer all questions conclusively for their field to be science. Beyond that, if you know everything about your field, you are no longer practicing science. Science is a method of systematic discovery and testing of hypotheses about the unknown. Once things are really settled - in the way that physics at low velocities and medium size scales was by 1890 - the scientists move on, leaving it to engineers to exploit the principles, and for teachers to endlessly regurgitate them.

Corollary: most of what goes on in "science classes" isn't science.

Of course, there is one other group that are quite certain they know everything about their field - the religious. The difference is that by the time a field of science is dead and settled, there are all sorts of predictions being verified everyday, by engineers using those theories to design things that work. If Christians could repeat the Miracle of Loaves and Fishes everyday, there'd be no atheists...
9.28.2007 4:52pm
drakeman (mail):
Larry Fafarman:

Finally the truth. After all the words. It's not about them getting publicity and you do approve of deceptive approach.

Is it because you think they finally got what was coming to them?
9.28.2007 5:12pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"And they certainly don't want their kids to be taught that (shudder) gays are people too."

Why should they be taught anything about gays?
9.28.2007 5:44pm
markm (mail):
Dave B (re. Larry Summers):

The reason for the lost job: Being inconsiderate and tactless. Being the President means being able to censor what would sound hurtful and be inappropriate given a forum. While there may be data behind it, the annunciation of it in a speech and your interpretations about it are probably left for close company. Just like you are advised not to talk about your politics or religion on a first date. Or, to order spaghetti (sorry Tramp).

Are you defending subordinating science to, "Boohoo, I won't bother to study the issue enough to understand what you said but it hurt my feelings"? And also basing university and public policy on beliefs that are contrary to science because the truth might hurt someone's feelings. That's the same thing the creationists do - it just depends on whose feelings you are being careful of...
9.28.2007 5:56pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Drakeman said,
It's not about them getting publicity and you do approve of deceptive approach.

No, I never said that -- you are putting words in my mouth.

Is it because you think they finally got what was coming to them?

No, it is because they are making a mountain out of a molehill. And as I said, they should be grateful for the opportunity to publicize themselves and their views. Most of us are not so lucky.
9.28.2007 6:55pm
TheBlackCat:
Larry, I think they would be grateful if they thought their views were going to be accurately represented. However, creationists, including IDers, are notorious for taking quotes out of context, selectively editing video, outright fabrication, and other methods of grossly misrepresenting their opponents' position in order to further their own ends. I have read PZ, one of the scientists interviewed, stating that he would like to see the whole video of his interview released. The issue is that we are not going to see that in this movie, probably not ever, we are going to see the interviews twisted to make the interviewees say what Ben Stein wants them to say, not what they really said. Now I welcome being pleasantly surprised, but judging by their deceptive tactics to get the interviews I have little doubt that they will not be similarly deceptive when choosing which portions of the interview to show and how to represent them. We see this routinely, it is one of the consistent things IDers and other creationists do.
9.28.2007 7:55pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
It is well known that PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, and Eugenie Scott are extremely hostile towards those who question Darwinism. Distortion of their statements, even if it were possible, would not be necessary for this movie.

I have read PZ, one of the scientists interviewed, stating that he would like to see the whole video of his interview released.

Didn't he get a copy of the interview? He could just post the complete interview on his blog.
9.28.2007 8:23pm
Chris Bell (mail):
If you think the Expelled producers will release the full interviews, then perhaps you (along with several other people in this thread) would be interested in a bridge I'm trying to sell.

The scientists have a reason to be upset. Here is an article written by Professor Dawkins. He was interviewed by a stealth creationist group. They asked him for an example of evolution increasing information (a standard creationist phrase).

Dawkins paused for a few seconds as he realized that he had been duped. After arguing with the camera crew, he decided to continue the interview and answered the question.

Then the interview came out in film. What did it show?

Questioner: Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?
Dawkins: ::pause:: ::pause::

CUT. End scene.

That, I think, is why people are upset.
9.28.2007 9:06pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Religion has been in retreat for years. Where religion once gave the final word on all questions, today it hardly answers any questions. Once the religious organizations had a near monopoly on literacy; today literacy is freely available to all. Once people sought out the religious organizations for answers. Today the religious organizationa are declaring bankrupcy because their agents molested kids. Times have indeed changed.
9.28.2007 11:39pm
to larry (mail):
Larry Fafarman,
1) Your blog really stinks.
2) Do you have a life? For example, a real job?
3) You are an embarrassment to the rest of us Christians.
9.29.2007 12:35am
Jubal (mail):
Larry Fafarman,
1) Your blog really stinks.
2) Do you have a life? For example, a real job?
3) You are an embarrassment to the rest of us Christians.

The comment policy of this blog says,

Comment Policy: We'd like the posts to be civil, of course (no profanity, personal insults, and the like), but we're also hoping that people try to be as calm, reasoned, and substantive as possible. So please, also avoid rants, invective, substantial and repeated exaggeration, and radical departures from the topic of the thread. Sticking with substance -- and staying on-topic -- will make the comments more helpful to other readers, and more pleasant.

Will the preceding comment be censored for violating the comment policy? I'm not holding my breath.
9.29.2007 1:49am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Chris Bell said,
If you think the Expelled producers will release the full interviews, then perhaps you (along with several other people in this thread) would be interested in a bridge I'm trying to sell.

The release form that the interviewees sign should guarantee a complete copy of the interview so that they have evidence of the contexts of the quotes.

The scientists have a reason to be upset. Here is an article written by Professor Dawkins. He was interviewed by a stealth creationist group. They asked him for an example of evolution increasing information (a standard creationist phrase).

I can't believe that was the first time he was asked that question. Why didn't he have a ready answer?


Then the interview came out in film. What did it show?

Questioner: Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?
Dawkins: ::pause:: ::pause::

CUT. End scene.

I agree that the film should have shown in his answer, even though his answer was tardy. However, that is not the issue that we have here.
9.29.2007 2:48am
Colin (mail):
Must we pander to Fafarman? He's quite open about his trolling. It's not really relevant to his posts here, but bear in mind that he's looking for more attention to be paid to his Holocaust denial as well as his creationism. Let him go back to his own blog, where he can pontificate to his heart's content about Eugene Volokh's blond hair.
9.29.2007 3:46pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
It's not really relevant to his posts here

That's right -- it's not really relevant to my posts here.
9.29.2007 9:37pm
Hoosier:
Elliot123--Do you have any evidence for the "retreat" of religion? Religious practice is alive and well in quite a number of places, and quite a number of faiths. I've even read about a religious sub-group that has followers who are so dedicated, they will actually BLOW THEMSELVES UP to kill members of OTHER religious groups! But I forget what they are called.

And re: Once" religious organizations had a near monopoly on literacy"--A fair and informed person might have put it along these lines: Once religious organizations like the Benedictine Order preserved the classics of the Western heritage when literacy and education had collapsed after the fall of Rome.

Oh, and Elliot--Gutenberg was a Catholic. And he printed, get this! . . . BIBLES! For people to READ!
9.29.2007 11:46pm
Hoosier:
Dave B--Again, I need to emphasize here that I am not speaking of "aggregate intelligence," which I think is a theological concept. Summers was issuing a hypothetical that damned well could imply that fewer women than men had the intelligence in technical fields required for succes in those fields at a place like, oh, I dunno, Harvard or something.

markm--I thus agree wholeheartedly with what you imply. I don't know where one finds the list of "socially impropper scientific data," and the entire thing smacks of obscurantism. Which is what I was on about in my original post on this matter.

And as for the reason Summers was fired: He was bumptious with a very impressive and very privileged faculty, which feels itself to be very impressive and thus deserving of privilege. Larry was calling them on their smug self-satisfaction in a way that college presidents simply can't get away with any longer, and doing so in a very unwise way. When they saw a chance to bag the guy, they did so.

But that doesn't change the fact that "hurting the girls' feelings" with all that complicated science was understood by Harvard's faculty to be the report of the starter's gun.
9.30.2007 12:08am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
In Q&A sessions, do politicians ever ask a questioner's reason for asking a question? Wouldn't the politicians sound silly if their first response was, "why do you ask?" And politicians get into big trouble for giving different answers to the same question.
9.30.2007 10:21am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
In Q&A sessions, do politicians ever ask a questioner's reason for asking a question? Wouldn't the politicians sound silly if their first response was, "why do you ask?" And politicians get into big trouble for giving different answers to the same question.

Well, ever consider that scientists aren't politicians, and you are (and an asshole to boot)?
10.1.2007 12:02am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Well, ever consider that scientists aren't politicians, and you are (and an asshole to boot)?

Well, these scientists are prominent public figures and in that sense they are like politicians, dunghill.

And how am I a politician?
10.1.2007 12:26am
drakeman (mail):
larry fafarman:

Could you re-explain your point of view and why your posting at this time?
10.1.2007 11:10am
Dan Weber (www):
I can't believe that was the first time he was asked that question. Why didn't he have a ready answer?

And I can't believe I'm defending Richard Dawkins. The guy is an obnoxious blowhard, but his behavior is totally understandable and perfectly reasonable.

If you're being interviewed by a supposedly serious person, and then all of a sudden they ask you a question that reveals they are just charlatans, anyone would be taken aback.

I'm sure Dawkins has faced the "evolution increases information" question before. Just like I've faced the "what the fuck is your problem?!" question before. But neither he nor I has faced that given question in the context of a serious interview.
10.1.2007 12:17pm