Education Intelligent Design

Boston Globe says ID proponents “may well be right”

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In Understanding evolution is crucial to debate Sally Lehrman of the Boston Globe writes:

intelligent design proponents claim that schools should do a better job of explaining evolution. They may very well be right.

Unfortunately, this was the only good line in an otherwise horrible piece of biased tabloid style editorializing by Lehrman, who appears to have gladly become a part of the propaganda machine of the National Center for Selling Evolution (NCSE).

She is indeed correct to say the ID proponents are right. ID proponents are advocating that Darwin’s theory be taught in the way that Charles Darwin would have wanted his theory be taught. It was Darwin who said:

A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question

To that end, a book consistent with Darwin’s wishes, Explore Evolution, was written and promoted by several individuals affiliated with one of the nation’s top-rated think tanks, The Discovery Institute.

Explore Evolution states:

This book is one of the first textbooks ever to use the inquiry-based approach to teach modern evolutionary theory. It does so by examining the current evidence and arguments for and against the key ideas of modern Darwinian theory. We hope examining the evidence and arguments in this book will give you a deeper understanding of the theory and help you to evaluate its current status.

In contrast, this is Lehrman version of the story:

As evolutionary science accelerates, however, antievolutionists are pushing back — and exploiting the questions that recent discoveries have raised. A new high-school textbook from the Discovery Institute, “Explore Evolution,” claims to teach students critical thinking but instead uses pseudoscience to attack Darwin’s theories. The National Center for Science Education, which tracks trends in schools, has compiled a frightening list of bills and local proposals intended to open the door for creationist teaching in science education. In a survey published in Science magazine last year, 39 percent of American adults flat-out rejected the concept of evolution.

Frightening, relative to whom? Frightening relative to the dwindling readership of the Boston Globe? Lehrman falsely accuses the book of teaching pseudo science. She fails to mention Explore Evolution was co-authored by one of the nation’s leading scientists in his field of specialty, Scott Minnich. And co-author Ralph Seelke is another respected scientist who has had his worked published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Bacteriology, and Molecular and General Genetics. It is clear rather than objective reporting, Lehrman has reduced herself and her newspaper to being a propaganda arm for the NCSE and its allies.

Lehrman further misreports:

Darwin’s brilliant [sic] theory, a powerful [sic] and central [sic] concept in biology, offers a path toward understanding everything else: the history of our universe, the world we inhabit, and ourselves.

[note: Lehrman misspells ill-conceived, baseless, and irrelevant. I marked her misspellings with sic.]

Lehrman here is acting like a used-car salesman. She might do well to be cognizant of the words of the chief spokesman for evolutionary theory, Jerry “Herman Munster” Coyne. Herman, I mean, Jerry said here,

In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.

Lehrman gets a few facts right:

Last year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science asked teachers about their top concerns in teaching evolution. Most confessed that they didn’t feel confident about their knowledge.

One remedy is that these ill-equipped teachers read Explore Evolution or watch videos like and Icons of Evolution. Although it would be premature for them to teach ID in the class, for their own edification and scientific understanding they would do well to watch Unlocking the Mystery of Life or read Michael Behe’s books. Some of us managed to get Unlocking into the hands of every biology teacher in one public school. They won’t be able to show it in class, but hopefully it will prick their conscience. Hopefully they might have a little more reservation and caution before they feed their students the standard NCSE propaganda line which Lehrman recites like the pledge of allegiance:

Darwin’s brilliant theory, a powerful and central concept in biology, offers a path toward understanding everything else: the history of our universe, the world we inhabit, and ourselves.

[HT William Dembski for alerting me to this article and encouraging me to post on it]

10 Replies to “Boston Globe says ID proponents “may well be right”

  1. 1
    GilDodgen says:

    Sal,

    The quote you offered below really deserves a special, devoted thread, because it is stunningly indicative of the ignorance of journalists like Sally Lehrman.

    I’ll kick off the thread with my observations.

    Gil

    Darwin’s brilliant theory, a powerful and central concept in biology, offers a path toward understanding everything else: the history of our universe, the world we inhabit, and ourselves.

    1) Darwin’s brilliant theory, a powerful and central concept in biology…
    Hmmm… Darwin’s brilliant theory explains how, with 10^20 opportunities — more than all the reproductive opportunities in the entire history of mammals — malaria developed resistance to a certain chemical through a couple of trivial mutations, and, in the process, lost viability in the absence of the hostile chemical environment. That’s essentially all Darwin’s brilliant theory explains.

    2) [Darwin’s brilliant theory]…offers a path toward understanding everything else…
    Oh yes indeed! Darwin’s theory explains everything. If only we had thought of this before!

    3) [Darwin’s brilliant theory]…offers a path toward understanding … the history of our universe…
    Say again? I seem to have missed this profound insight provided by Darwinian theory. The laws of physics and the generation of life-essential chemical elements in stars is explained by random mutation and natural selection? How could I have possibly been ignorant of this great contribution of Darwinian theory?

    4) [Darwin’s brilliant theory]…offers a path toward understanding … the world we inhabit…
    My understanding of the world we inhabit comes from my knowledge of hard science: mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science — not from silly, speculative stories, which is all that Darwinian theory offers.

    5) [Darwin’s brilliant theory]…offers a path toward understanding … ourselves…
    Oh my! How could I have possibly overlooked this profound contribution of Darwinian science? How silly of me! I now understand why I am a musician. Once upon a time a jungle drummer got all the hot babes, and passed on his jungle-drumming genes. In another couple of hundred thousand generations, we got Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.

    It’s all clear to me now.

  2. 2
    PaV says:

    Gil: “Once upon a time a jungle drummer got all the hot babes, and passed on his jungle-drumming genes. In another couple of hundred thousand generations, we got Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.”

    LOL

  3. 3
    Janice says:

    Sorry. This is completely off topic, but it struck me as an interesting project for people interested in identifying design.

    Flight 93 Memorial Advisory Commission member Tim Baird said that, “everyone was aware that a person facing into the giant crescent would be facing Mecca.” He also said that Commission members had all seen a report stating:
    a)that the number of “memorial glass blocks emplaced along the flight path” (44) equals the number of passengers, crew and terrorists (my emphasis), and
    b)that the portion of the Memorial Wall, “inscribed with the 9/11 date, [is] centered exactly on the bisector of the giant crescent, putting the date exactly in the position of the star on an Islamic crescent and star flag”.

    But Mr Baird says that, “it is impossible to prove intent”.

    Would that be right? What would be the probability that all these features were incorporated into the memorial just by accident?

    See here.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm:

    Byline on Ms Lehman’s hit-piece: Sally Lehrman reports on health and science for Scientific American, the radio documentary series “The DNA Files,” and other media.

    Maybe that’s why, after years of being an enthusiastic and regular reader, I can no longer stomach Sci Am? (National Geographic is rapidly approaching the same level. I now boycott cable TV. Forget Discovery and its ilk . . .)

    Maybe, too, Ms Lehman needs to re-acquaint herself with the ethical standards for journalism, e.g. by perusing the US Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.

    Preamble:

    Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

    For — ever since Plato used an allegory to [in part*] comment on the suicide of Athenian Democracy and the martyrdom of Socrates in the cause of freedom of inquiry and expression — it has long been well known that those who project deceitful shadow-shows, are in reality betrayers of their community’s best interests.

    Ms Lehman, please think again.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: A fairer 101-level [maybe, 102?] view on the issue of design can be found through my always linked through my name.

    PPS: Janice, geographical alignments with special directions and symbolic forms have been a part of monumental architecture and its interpretation ever since Stonehenge. There is no doubt that if the memorial incorporates terrorists with victims on substantially the same level it plainly embraces Ward Churchillian immoral equivalency; and, if it is using known Islamic architectural forms in the process, that is not by accident. Similarly, there were serious questions along very parallel lines over the Ground Zero memorial in NYC. (How telling is that on the PC culture of the “artistic” and “intellectual” elites of the USA at this point!!!) So, identifying such specifications in so inherently complex a matter as the monument is strongly indicative of intent, regardless of denials and obfuscations. But of course if you are powerful enough and are dealing with a people who have long forgotten that eternal vigilance and repeated sacrifice to the point of blood are ever the price of liberty, then you can get a way with a lot.
    _______

    * The parable also, of course, is used to present Plato’s philosophical theory of the Forms. However, the obvious oppression, deception and willful manipulation in the story beg for discussion of how agenda-serving shadow shows can substitute for reality in a community, and where that leads.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    Oh yes:

    On the “hot babes” test.

    By that standard, given the now celebrated case of Atom’s fiance, “we” ID thinkers ain’t doin’ so bad at all at-all . . . 😉

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Atom, congratulations again!

  6. 6
    jerry says:

    A friend of mine who is a science guru, not biology, said that Scientific American was sold to a bunch of European Greens about 8 years ago and this explains a lot of the change in editorial emphasis of the magazine.

    I have no idea if this is correct but does anyone else know anything about this.

  7. 7
    The Scubaredneck says:

    “…intelligent design proponents claim that schools should do a better job of explaining evolution. They may very well be right.”

    We should commission an “inanity award” for journalists. This seems to me as such an obvious truth as to not be worth mentioning.

    I have often been amused by the irony of folks like Eugenie Scott, of the National Center for Science Education who complain about how ignorant the American public is on science topics. It seems to me that part of the job of the NCSE is to improve science education, not whine and moan about how ignorant folks are (especially those knuckle-dragging blue state fundies). Indeed, if folks are ignorant about science topics, it seems that at least part of the blame falls to the systems and personages charged with educating them.

    The ScubaRedneck

  8. 8
    Joseph says:

    Understanding Intelligent Design is crucial to this debate.

    Unfortunately Ms. Sally, along with the NCSE, does not understand ID.

    ID is NOT anti-evolution.

    ID is anti-the blind watchmaker having sole dominion over everything.

    We exist Sally. And in the absence of a Special Creation or some grand design, all you have is sheer dumb luck.

    And just how does one test that?

  9. 9
    GilDodgen says:

    We should commission an “inanity award” for journalists.

    We could name it “The Judge John E. Jones Breathtaking Inanity Award” for ignorance and bias in the pursuit of template journalism. (I’ll admit that the acronym would be a bit awkward.)

    We exist Sally. And in the absence of a Special Creation or some grand design, all you have is sheer dumb luck. And just how does one test that?

    Sheer dumb luck has been tested and the results are in. (See point #1 in my first comment.) That’s what Behe’s Edge of Evolution is all about.

    By the way, I should provide a correction: The 200,000 generations I mentioned between the jungle drummer and Mozart was much too generous. At 10 years per generation, that would be two million years, which would take us back to primitive simian ancestors who probably didn’t beat jungle drums. Thus, the number of generations for random processes to rewire the central nervous system for musical ability should probably be reduced by at least a decimal order of magnitude.

    How can it not be obvious that Darwinian hypotheses are ridiculous? My answer is: poor science education, the kind of “science” education promoted by the NCSE.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Gil:

    We could name it “The Judge John E. Jones Breathtaking Inanity Award” for ignorance and bias in the pursuit of template journalism. (I’ll admit that the acronym would be a bit awkward.)

    I second the motion!

    As to the issue of an appropriate abbreviation, I recall my first sight of the signature of the VC of my old University — nothing to do with his given names, but actually a nickname.

    So, we could call it the “Jonesy” or the “Dover.”

    [NB: Award should in all cases be accompanied by a formal complaint to the SPJ or other relevant bodies for violation of Journalism or other relevant professional ethics. Just to give it some good old Scotch-bonnet zing on the Scoville scale.]

    Messrs Dembski, Behe, Gonzalez, Sternberg and Sewell look like a good judging panel to me. Y’know, throw out the high and the low, and average the middle three and all of that stuff. But, it will help if there is also a popular vote aspect to the award — sort of like our road march kings on a Carnival: you gotr the artistic judgement division, and the popular division.

    I further propose that UD immediately set up a nominating scheme, with Ms Lehman as the first nominee, right away.

    Mr Padian, Dr Scot and NCSE should also be jointly nominated for the institution-level award.

    Prof Dawkins looks a clean sweep for the lifetime achievement award, so let him be voted in by acclamation.

    Nor should we forget the very person who is honored by the award’s name:

    In the legal division, Judge John E Jones, by acclamation, should receive the award being given in his name. Unfortunately, since this is a particularly active division, we cannot retire the title with the first awardee.

    Why not give them as a prize a free scholarship to an online ID 101 course, in lieu of a financial prize?

    😉

    GEM of TKI

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