Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Myers and Dawkins: A pox on both their houses

I’ve been quiet on UD for a while, but after seeing the (however qualified) praise VJ Torley has handed Myers for his limp-wristed opposition to a moralizing Richard Dawkins, I feel the need to offer another view. Myers deserves no praise for his opposition to Dawkins on the issue of the morality of (mandatory) aborting children with Down Syndrome, and people who are pro-life do themselves a disservice by choosing to offer him even an ounce of respect on this issue. In this case, the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy. I’ll keep this succinct. First, Myers is not rushing to the defense of children with Down Syndrome. Ask him if he thinks a woman who aborts a Read More ›

When science is useless: on the lack of scientific demonstration for unguided nature

“Unguided natural processes.” If you follow Intelligent Design at all – or even just follow the yammerings of the crazier Gnu atheists – you’ve probably come across that term, or something like it in the past: the claim or idea that such and such natural processes occur utterly apart from any plan or direction. Behe talks about how his work and arguments establish that something other than “unguided natural processes” would have to have been at work to explain what we see in nature, at least based on the information we have currently. Dembski says similar, with some important caveats. On the other side of the discussion, Jerry Coyne and others insist that modern evolutionary theory is wed to the Read More ›

What should the ID proponent do with multiverse speculations? Embrace them.

Multiverse speculations routinely take a beating on Uncommon Descent for various reasons – the lack of falsifiability, the entirely speculative nature, the near complete lack of scientific evidence. All, in my view, quite good reasons to reject it all.

But I think ID proponents are missing the boat by reacting to multiverse speculations so negatively. So, I’m going to offer up several reasons why I think it’s a good idea, from an ID perspective, to accept and take part in multiverse speculations.

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A Quiz for Intelligent Design Critics

In the near decade that I’ve been watching the Intelligent Design movement, one thing has consistently amazed me: the pathological inability of many ID critics to accurately represent what ID actually is, what claims and assumptions are made on the part of the most noteworthy ID proponents, and so on. Even ID critics who have been repeatedly informed about what ID is seem to have a knack for forgetting this in later exchanges. It’s frustrating – and this from a guy who’s not even a defender of ID as science.

But I’m interested in progress on this front, and I think I’ve come up with a good solution: let’s have an ID quiz. And let’s put this quiz to critics, in public, so at the very least we can see whether or not they’re even on the same page as the ID proponents they are criticizing.
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Science “sting” shows peer review catastrophically failing

Remember the Sokal Hoax? A physics professor manages to sneak in a completely garbage paper to a “postmodern cultural studies” journal? Well, if you thought that science journals were immune to this sort of thing – or even more often than not reliable – then get ready to have some of your faith in the modern academia broken up a bit.

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Popular Science shuts down comments, citing the presence of dissent from the scientific consensus

Popular Science’s online arm has just shut down its comments section. Guess why?

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

Do you question the scientific consensus on a subject? Do you think the consensus is fundamentally flawed? Too far-reaching in its scope? More confident than it should be? Then Popular Science has a message for you: shame. SHAME!

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Opposition to Fetal Stem Cell Experimentation Encouraged Nobel-quality Science

One of the common complaints about Intelligent Design is that it’s a science stopper. Something about how the idea that the conviction that intelligent agents are have produced extraordinarily advanced technology will discourage intelligent agents from producing extraordinarily advanced technology. With that in mind, I thought it’d be worth focusing on a recent, if not ID-related, science development. The Nobel Prize for Medicine has been awarded to two men for their work in adult stem cell research – and the awarding of that prize is worth pondering.

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Gregory and the Subject of Human Extension

The following is a one-shot guest post by regular UD commenter, Gregory. I offer this because I know that Gregory’s been talking about Intelligent Design for years, and because it was my intention to give him the chance to make his case for the social sciences’ relevance to the ID discussion. As before, my posting this shouldn’t be taken as endorsement – in fact I’m very skeptical of the direction of Gregory’s project for a number of reasons, which I may or may not mention later in comments. But he was civil and sincere enough, and I thought the regulars at UD would find his thoughts interesting, whether to consider or point out the flaws.

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Steve Fuller in ID & Philosophy News

UD regular Gregory asked me to pass this on. A collection of quotations on ‘intelligent design’ by American-British philosopher and sociologist of science and invited Dover Trial witness Steve Fuller from the past 7 years has not long ago been published here: http://social-epistemology.com/2012/05/06/gregory-sandstrom-in-steve-fullers-words-intelligent-design/ If Uncommon Descent blog would wish to discuss these things I (Gregory) will be available on a limited basis to respond and will contact Dr. Fuller with any specifically poignant, relevant or challenging questions to him. Fuller is one of the founders of ID theory and has written and spoken in recent years on science, philosophy and religion dialogue, in addition to his new work on trans-humanism (Humanity 2.0), which is sympathetic to ID in a way Read More ›

Defining Methodological Naturalism

It’s been a while since we had a good discussion about Methodological Naturalism. This time around, I want to start out simple: I’m asking everyone, particularly those who believe methodological naturalism is essential to science (Matzke, I’m looking at you) to define it. More below.

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On Tennessee’s Academic Freedom Bill – The Endgame, Part 1

By now, news of Tennessee’s Academic Freedom Bill has made the rounds. There’s been all kinds of analysis about it, harsh criticisms as well as defense. But as near as I can tell, just about everyone has missed what this bill has truly accomplished. Call it a cheap tactic, call it a trojan horse. Me? I call it brilliant.

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Is Killing Scientists to Stop Their Research a Threat to Science?

I know – the answer seems obvious. But let’s put this in context.

Iranian scientists are being killed, apparently in connection to their research on nuclear power. I’ll add that their deaths can’t reasonably be chalked up to collateral damage – say, someone blowing up a facility and a scientist ends up caught in the blast there. No, these are apparently incidents of scientists specifically being targeted and killed owing to what they’re researching and the practical, or at least possible, outcomes of said research.

Now, the particular politics of the Iran situation isn’t what interests me here – what I’m interested in is that some people (indeed, some people motivated largely by secular concerns) think it’s not only permissible to stop a scientist from conducting research, but it can be imperative to the point that killing him is justified. The interesting thing is, if someone is sympathetic to the idea, they seem to be sympathetic to the following claim: scientific knowledge and research needs to be tightly controlled, with some research off-limits for some, possibly all, people. Put another way, sometimes brutally squashing scientific research – being anti-science – is necessary.

There are a lot of interesting questions and considerations that could come up from this line of questioning, but there’s one particular issue I think this draws attention to.

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