Intelligent Design

Swatting Down ID

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There an interesting piece in The American Scientist by Pat Shipman on how best to swat down ID. It’s interesting not because its arguments against ID or on behalf of evolution are strong, but because of the psychology it portrays: panic, damage control, and denial (the denial being that there might be anything fundamentally amiss with conventional evolutionary theory). As you read it, think of the cigarette companies 50 years ago attempting to swat down claims that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health. Shipman is a company man to the core, representing vested interests that have everything to lose.

Being Stalked by Intelligent Design
Scientists must stop ignoring Intelligent Design—religious prejudice disguised as intellectual freedom
By Pat Shipman

American Scientist [for full article go here]

. . . ID is an insidious attempt by a religious caucus to impose its views on the whole country. The avowed aim of ID advocates—to undermine science and replace it with their personal religious convictions—amounts to a form of prejudice that is both poisonous and horribly frightening. Inevitably, young people will suffer most. As Francisco Ayala wrote in “From the President” (July-August 2004), science training will be a fundamental necessity in the technological world of the future.

As scientists, we must stop ignoring the ID movement. It won’t go away. Each of us must learn to avoid jargon in order to communicate better with the public. Every scientist should become a mentor; share your experience of the wonder and beauty of science! Finally, critically, we must expose Intelligent Design for what it really is: religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom.

Do not miss the irony of this last sentence. To determine who here exhibits religious prejudice and who here champions intellectual freedom, ask yourself who here is limiting the debate and shutting down discussion of the relative merits of ID and evolutionary theory.

54 Replies to “Swatting Down ID

  1. 1
    WormHerder says:

    Hello Uncommon descent guys,
    Greetings from across the pond.
    my first post here!
    Please excuse my stream of concousness type rambelings.
    Apart from the typical entrenching that is occurring between some evolutionist and the ID movement-understandable when you consider the investment people have put into that narrative.
    I would like to know how any one who belives in a closed purely naturalistic world is able to define what beauty and wonder are ?
    Surely they are just a particular set of neurons firing in a particular way ?
    If so why try and induce it in others?
    ‘religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom’ what a great way to describe evolution!?

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    Pat Shipman, a paleontologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in “Discover” magazine September, 1986… “What the new skull does, in a single stroke, is overturn all previous notions of early hominid evolution…The things we thought we understood reasonably well we don’t.”

    Sounds like Patty is now claiming to understand ID advocates well. 🙂

  3. 3
    WormHerder says:

    Dear Bill can you let me know how moderation of the comments we post is run here ?
    thanks,

  4. 4
    Bob Davis says:

    Fear is a motivating factor on many different levels, and throughout society.

  5. 5
    MWC says:

    Speaking of religious prejudice, I’ve been attempting to make headway over at wikipedia on their intelligent design, creationism, naturalism, etc., pages. It is quite ridiculous how all mention of ID merely slaps the creationist label on and then subtley dismisses it while attempting to explain it. I have been asked to provide a source where Ronald Numbers explains why he doesn’t see ID as creationism, and I can’t find it. Any ideas?

  6. 6
    Bombadill says:

    So I’m not the only one who has noticed the negative skew Wikidpedia puts on their ID proponent treatments (or religious leaders, for that matter). I didn’t realize there was anything that could be done about that. Please let us know the process, MWC. I’d like to be a part of changing their attitudes over there.

  7. 7
    MWC says:

    Sorry to make this about Wikipedia, Bill, but I think it might help. Go to this page for more information about editing. Be very careful because there are a number of anti-religous folks over there. Although it claims to be based on consensus, because it is actually based on who can wield the power, minority views receive subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, mockery.

    See what I mean by going to these pages:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....n_movement
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teach_the_Controversy

  8. 8
    MWC says:

    One more thing–check the talk pages for these articles before you make changes. They typically involve discussion about what should be on the page. You can really see the anti-ID/anti-religious bias come out there.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    lpadron says:

    Baffled scientists stumble across a remarkably well preserved transitional form in the Florida Everglades. The ancestor of the alligython was found in the Florida Everglades last week and can be seen here:

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/obje.....L&o=0

    “This”, said one observer, “proves everything and nothing all at once.”

  11. 11
    wmmalo says:

    The ‘science’ supporting ID is thin at best, but I’m sure, given enough time, it will gel into a substantiated ‘theory’.

    The behavior of the scientific community to question and resist new theory is expected. All ‘new’ ideas initially meet a great degree of skepticism and opposition. It is the strength of the concept that will determine its merit and validity.

    Evolutionists struggle to obtain ‘conclusive’ evidence to support their theory. There will be no ‘solution’ for evolution, no missing link, no ooze, no beginning and no end. That isn’t the importance of their ‘exploration’; the interest and investigation continues.
    Design Theory must survive the same rigors of research and resistance.
    ID must clearly define its hypothesis and demonstrate it seeks a ‘scientific’ goal.
    The scientific community has not eagerly accepted ID as a ‘scientific’ investigation. That doesn’t mean more clarification won’t shift the attitude and move ID beyond the alienation it experiences today.

    The way I understand the debate, the issue is the ‘implications’ of Evolution and respectively Intelligent Design.
    It appears the impasse is best defined as a “public access” conundrum.
    Is education ready for ID?
    Is ID ready for education?
    ID is ‘the’ alternate ‘scientific’ view to Darwin’s “Origin…” theory.

    Evolution has taken its punches; it’s still standing.
    ID is just entering the ring.
    It will be a fight, more than likely a fair one, unless of course,
    ID has “God” in its corner.

  12. 12
    scordova says:

    “[ID] doesn’t deserve any attention,” Bruce Alberts, NAS President, April 2005

    “As scientists, we must stop ignoring the ID movement.” Pat Shipman, October 2005

    I see progress!

  13. 13
    wmmalo says:

    Does ID have “God” in its corner?

  14. 14
    MWC says:

    wmmalo,
    I’m not sure God is on anyone’s side, so to speak. The greater question is whether ID is on God’s side.

  15. 15
    jaredl says:

    Blech. This discussion is pointless. Unless ID is, in principle, scientific, Darwinism is unscientific, being unfalsifiable in principle – after all, the logical negation of the claim “this event is due to non-telic processes” is “this event is due to telic processes.” Creationism be damned; we should stick to the logic.

  16. 16
    Charliecrs says:

    ” ID is an insidious attempt by a religious caucus to impose its views on the whole country. The avowed aim of ID advocates—to undermine science [Atheism, secular humanism,etc]and replace it with their personal religious convictions—amounts to a form of prejudice that is both poisonous and horribly frightening ”

    So “ID” is to Christianity

    As,

    Atheism/ secular humanism is to Evolution ?

    I’ve heard that schools [or organizations] that teach or promote “secular humanism” get tax exemptions like churches and other religious institutes [why?]. Since most if not all secular humanistic schools or organizations teach/promote, belive, practice “Evolution”. Does it mean that “Evolution” per-say is funded / back boned by their own “religious” institutes ?.

    My point being the “other-side” is always quick to shout the famous line “first amendment ” and “separation of church and state”. So where does this leave the Evolutionary Camp/us ?.

  17. 17
    Alan Fox says:

    [i]To determine who here exhibits religious prejudice and who here champions intellectual freedom, ask yourself who here is limiting the debate and shutting down discussion of the relative merits of ID and evolutionary theory.[/i]

    Would the issue of who edits posts and who doesn’t be relevant to who is committed to honest debate and who idn’t?

  18. 18
    Alan Fox says:

    Apologies for typo (somewhat Freudian) S/B isn’t.

  19. 19
    WormHerder says:

    Hello Bill,
    you are in the latest edition of new scientist -nice picture -under a special report call ‘Enemy at the Gates’ Apparently your aim is to destroy Science!!Well I never!

  20. 20
    wmmalo says:

    MWC

    Is ID on “God’s” side?
    Is ID about “God”?
    The argument insisting ID is ‘science’ and not ‘religion’ is a bit fuzzy.
    Please clarify.
    Forum discussion should reinforce the ‘scientific’ theoretical value of ID while avoiding religiously drawn ‘conclusions’, unless of course, this is all about religion usurping scientific ‘influence’.

  21. 21
    MWC says:

    wmmalo,
    It’s all about what is true. From my perspective (assuming a creator God), if it is true (as in corresponds with reality), in the end it will prevail. If it is not true, in the end it will be shown to be false.

    Correct me if I’m wrong anyone, but as I understand, it puts forth a method of detecting intelligence (specification) based on the conclusion that something more than the current methods of naturalistic science (also called materialistism) is necessary to account for what we see. It’s not religion in that ID does not attempt to say anything about the nature of this “designer”. Instead, it is a way to make sense of the effects of its design. Religion is associated with origins, etc. ID doesn’t go there, but instead says that what we currently observe has discernible design.

  22. 22
    DaveScot says:

    Warning: Wikipedia rant

    Wikipedia is absolutely untrustworthy in anything that can biased by liberal political ideology – the vaunted Neutral Point of View (NPOV) which is one of like only two rules you’re actually expected to obey isn’t followed.

    Once in a while I try to return articles to NPOV. For example, the other day I was reading about DeLay’s indictment, his stepping down from Majority Leader, and I wanted to know exactly what that meant. So I looked up Wiki’s entry on “House Majority Leader”. There I found a nice paragraph on what a majority leader does, a list of all house majority leaders and their term of office, and a couple of sentences on DeLay’s stepping down. The DeLay appendage violated NPOV big time. Not a single other HML’s individual history was discussed. DeLay was singled out for negative treatment. I deleted it the DeLay comments. So far, the deleted stuff is still gone.

  23. 23
    DaveScot says:

    MWC

    I tried to find the Robert L. Numbers quote about ID not being creationism. Supposedly it appeared in a March 14, 2002 WaPo (Washington Post) article by an author named Ostling. A copy of the article and a link to the original is here:

    http://www.arn.org/docs2/news/.....031802.htm

    However, the link to the WaPo original doesn’t work and querying the WaPo archives doesn’t turn up the article. So I don’t know what’s going on.

  24. 24
    tautologydna says:

    I have a question that I was hoping someone could help me with:

    Are there any intelligent design theorists who don’t find evidence for design in natural diversity ? Specifically, could anyone point me toward anyone that is developing design inference methods, but, using those methods, doesn’t find evidence for design in things like the flagella or what not ? It seems that much of the misrepresentation of ID in the media is done by reporters that conclude that design inference researchers necessarily conclude that diversity was designed.

    It seems that there are two sticking points to this debate.

    1) A debate about methods for design inference.
    2) A debate about whether the methods, when employed correctly, actually spit out design.

    Thus, I am interested in hearing about other design theorists that may employ different methods than Dr. Dembski, and, with these methods, don’t find design in the bacterial flagellum.

    All the best,

    taut

  25. 25
    dodgingcars says:

    DaveScot,

    The good and bad thing about Wiki is that it is user edited and no one is really restricted from editing, deleting, writing, etc. The goal is to have NPOV, but because we are all humans, bias seeps in… but that is where the good of Wiki comes in — others who perceive the bias can (like you) edit the article. However, it seems that good etiquette on Wiki is to also post message in the discussion on that topic explaining what and why you edited.

    Controversial topics are going to be hard to keep as NPOV, especially because those topics are going to attract very passionate and emotional people.

    I think that Wiki is a great resource and a great idea, but I wouldn’t rely on it completely. Its a good way to get a basic overview/summary of an issue and then use the sources that are cited to gain a better understanding.

  26. 26
    Benjii says:

    Wikipedia is full of many prejudices against ID. It’s totally idiotic.

  27. 27
    Alan Fox says:

    Benjii

    That seems a bit sweeping.

  28. 28
    johnnyb says:

    dodgingcars:

    the problem is that wikipedia has a central set of editors that can override any change. The problem is that these people do not have a neutral point of view. In fact, a neutral point of view is simply an impossibility in real life, and pretending you have one is philosophically shallow.

  29. 29
    DaveScot says:

    johnnyb

    Absolutely correct about the top level editors and their lack of NPOV.

    I don’t really agree that an NPOV is an impossibility in real life. Maybe it’s impossible to have an internal NPOV but one can certainly affect an external pretense of NPOV. A good example is what I did to the house majority leader article. I don’t have an NPOV about DeLay. I could have replaced the negative with my belief that Ronnie Earle is the criminal and the fact that Tom DeLay has done more to advance the goals of conservative interests in the U.S. perhaps than any other single person in recent history and has thus become a liberals’ enemy number 1. But I didn’t because that isn’t an NPOV. I know an NPOV when I see one and I believe most other intelligent people do too. The top level editors at wiki only give NPOV lip service.

  30. 30
    Alan Fox says:

    Test

  31. 31
    Alan Fox says:

    Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren have just won the Nobel prize for medicine.

  32. 32
    Alan Fox says:

    They fought prejudice and obstruction (especially from international drug companies)

  33. 33
    Alan Fox says:

    to get their discovery of Helicobacter pylori as the primary cause of peptic ulcers and the cure by a short course of antibiotics accepted.

  34. 34
    Alan Fox says:

    They persevered and got their ideas accepted in the end. A geniune new idea will win through if it has merit.

  35. 35
    Alan Fox says:

    Sorry for broken up post but I tried several times to post as one paragraph and it isappeared. Is there a word limit on a single post?

  36. 36
    Benjii says:

    Bill gets a bit uptight about over-posting.

  37. 37
    MWC says:

    Over at wikipedia, the whole interpretation of ID is based on the view that they think there is a religious agenda that is really behind the scenes. They claim it was leaked on the net and ever since there has been a constant movement to dissemble this agenda in the public eye. Can you believe this?

  38. 38
    Benjii says:

    Wikipedia is more than likely to have an agenda of their own. The motive game can be played both ways. I think both sides(ID and Darwin) need to learn to share and compete for acceptance. I see Darwinism losing substantial influence in the 20-100 years.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Charlie says:

    Which reminds me, Benjii, how did you get out of the penalty box?

  41. 41
    Charliecrs says:

    Hey Alan Fox,

    yeah i had the same problem i think a coupledays ago with the “over posting” thing. i had writen a long comment post that didnt show up 🙁 but i think i pressed the “sumbit” button twice or something and got the message. first i thhought it was cuz i probably used a strong language that it was being blocked……… but i gave up on it after a couple trys.

    anyays i saw you had the “test” post a couple times and was wondering if you had the same problem. glad to know it wasnt just me and iwasnt going kookooo lol 🙂

  42. 42
    crandaddy says:

    You guys are right about Wikipedia. I just added a statement to the beginning of the “Intelligent Design” page informing readers that the information it contains is “biased and discriminatory” and that “changes will be made soon”. I plan to work on it when I have time.

    David

  43. 43
    Benjii says:

    Bill saw my interest for ID, I e-mailed him constantly. He told me that he didn’t mean to ban me forever. So, he allowed me back in. However, I have been warned not to make the same mistakes.

  44. 44
    crandaddy says:

    I’ve noticed that my very modest statment at the beginning of the Wikipedia “Intelligent Design” article, er, rebuttal, was promptly deleted. We’re evidently dealing with a particularly nasty one who calls him/herself “FeloniousMonk”. Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:FeloniousMonk. This particular unsavory individual appears to be hell-bent on misrepresenting ID and passing it off as objective fact. Just read the article, and look at his/her personal page. Tell me something doesn’t smell like a garbage bin full of fish entrails left out in the hot sun for two weeks! I’ll do what I can to rectify the situation; if the Wikipedia management is really as fair and balanced as they would like the public to believe they are, they will not allow the article to stand as it is.

    And now for a completely different line of thought…

    Benjii, why did Bill send you into exile in the first place?

    David

  45. 45
    crandaddy says:

    statment=statement

  46. 46
    Charliecrs says:

    I’ve never used wiki – but from the link you provided sounds like this persons a guy. its “m” on gender….

    My understanding is
    if anyone can edit or delete the other persons link or thread ?. – maybe just maybe
    ya should return this guy the same friendly favor ?. Now if thats too harsh…

    ya can opt with the # 2 selection – write him a letter or whatever and remake the
    thread / link.

    Charlie

  47. 47
    higgity says:

    “I just added a statement to the beginning of the “Intelligent Design” page informing readers that the information it contains is “biased and discriminatory” and that “changes will be made soon”.”

    Wait… you didn’t actually post that on the article page, did you? Of course it was going to be deleted. It had nothing at all to do with the article. You should have posted that statement to the article’s discussion page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....n_movement

    My guess is that so many eyes are on this article that your statement would be read and reacted to. People don’t just up and delete stuff on the discussion page. It’s there to be discussed. Post it there and you can see where it takes you.

  48. 48
    crandaddy says:

    I overlooked the gender category. Thanks for pointing that out. I use Wikipedia quite often for general reference (It’s the best source I’ve seen so far.), but I’ve never done any writing or editing before. I’ll have to learn the rules and get into the ebb and flow of the site; they won’t let just anybody put up anything they want on any topic. They also have a discussion page for what’s presented in the articles. That’s probably where I’ll go first. I’m not one to get into heated debates, but I just have to call a foul on this one. Polemics and apologetics have no place in a public general reference encyclopedia!

    David

  49. 49
    DaveScot says:

    Check out this wiki edit history:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde.....on=history

    I’m in there somewhere a few months ago. I gave trying to correct some of the bullshit spouted in the first paragraph.

    I tried getting this

    “for advocating the idea of intelligent design in opposition to the theory of evolution through natural selection”

    change to this

    for advocating the idea of intelligent design as a mechanism of evolution in addition to natural selection”

    All of us here familiar with ID know my change is accurate and true and the prior is misleading and false. I made the edit a whole bunch of times over a period of several days and a whole bunch of different wiki editors popped in within minutes of my change to change it back to the lie. NPOV my ass.

  50. 50
    DaveScot says:

    P.S. Welcome back Benjii! 🙂

  51. 51
    Benjii says:

    Thanks for the welcome guys. I really appreciate it. I was sent into exile because Bill felt that I was over-posting over insignificant things. I was also a bit disrespectful to one visiting darwinist on the thread.

  52. 52
    crandaddy says:

    I feel I should apologize for the posts I made yesterday. I had only read the last few posts concerning Wikipedia and presumed that was all of it. I guess from now on I should get myself up to speed before I start making dumb posts, huh? Sorry about that.

    David

  53. 53
    DLH says:

    MWC

    The article by Richard N. Ostling quoting Ronald Numbers appears to be:
    “‘Intelligent design’ gains attention in Ohio debate
    By RICHARD N. OSTLING
    AP Religion Writer”

    A copy is currently posted at:
    http://www.onlineshawnee.com/s.....l_44.shtml
    (Note the later date posted at this site. “Story last updated at 3:48 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2002”

  54. 54
    Charliecrs says:

    Yeah welcome back Benji

    wow i should really watch myself with my comments more often then.
    Sometimes i cant help myself to throw the dog[s] a bone either.
    But its so hard not to throwh in a few bashes once in a while.

    personal note – get myself in check
    check 🙂

    Charlie

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