Intelligent Design

Looking Past the Blinders

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The term “blinders” is tossed about a lot, but some folks may not know what they are.  Blinders are a part of a horse’s or a mule’s tackle.  They are small blocks of leather that fit on the outside of the animal’s eyes to keep it from looking to its side.  Their purpose is to keep the animal looking only to the front so that it will not be startled or distracted by things that would otherwise be in its peripheral vision.  Here is a picture of a horse wearing blinders.   

The purpose of physical blinders leads easily to the metaphor of intellectual blinders.  A person is said to be “wearing blinders” if he is incapable of understanding another person’s point of view. 

A couple of days ago I said that some scientists’ metaphysical commitments make them blind to data that disconfirms their theory.  My comment was met with howls of indignation by commentators who insisted that “science” is pristine, self-correcting and ideology-free.  Nonsense.  Everyone’s perception is colored by their preconceived ideas about the nature of reality (including mine by the way).  Part of the human condition is that, to one degree or another, we all wear blinders.  The solution is not to deny the obvious, but to embrace it.  Only when we admit that we have a blindside, that our perceptions are influenced by our presuppositions, will we be able to keep our minds open enough to perhaps turn our head and see what was previously masked by our blinders. 

Darwinists are not exempt from this phenomenon.  Their views are colored by their metaphysical commitments just like all of the rest of us.  This does mean they are necessarily bad people.  It just means they are people. 

Stephan Jay Gould, bless him, was especially good at recognizing this phenomenon in his fellow evolutionists.  Here are some gems from his writings: 

 

 

“But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem.  The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology.”  Stephen Jay Gould, “In the Mind of the Beholder,” Natural History 103 (February 1994): 14, 14-23. 

“Indeed proclamations for the supposed ‘truth’ of gradualism – asserted against every working paleontologist’s knowledge of its rarity – emerged largely from such a restriction of attention to exceedingly rare cases under the false belief that they alone provided a record of evolution at all!  The falsification of most ‘textbook classics’ upon restudy only accentuates the fallacy of the ‘case study’ method and its root in prior expectation rather than objective reading of the fossil record.”  Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 773. 

“Before Niles Eldredge and I proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium in 1972, the stasis, or nonchange, of most fossil species during their lengthy geological lifespans was tacitly acknowledged by all paleontologists, but almost never studied explicitly because prevailing theory treated stasis as uninteresting nonevidence for nonevolution . . . The overwhelming prevalence of stasis became an embarrassing feature of the fossil record, best left ignored as a manifestation of nothing (that is, nonevolution).  We expect life’s bushes . . . to tell some story of direction change.  If they do not, we do not feature them in our studies – if we even manage to see them at all . . . Paleontologists are now beginning to study this higher order stasis, or nondirectional history of entire bushes.  Stephen Jay Gould, “Cordelia’s Dilemma,” Natural History 102.2 (February 1993): 15, 10-18. 

“ but stasis is data . . . Say it ten times before breakfast every day for a week, and the argument will surely seep in by osmosis: ‘stasis is data; stasis is data’ . . .”  Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 759. 

“Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature. Matter is the ground of all existence; mind, spirit, and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of neuronal complexity.”  Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1977), 13. 

“Gradualism, the idea that all change must be smooth, slow, and steady, was never read from the rocks.  It was primarily a prejudice of nineteenth-century liberalism facing a world in revolution.  But it continues to color our supposedly objective reading of life’s history.”  Stephen Jay Gould, “An Early Start,” Natural History 87 (February 1978): 24. 

“Correction of error cannot always arise from new discovery within an accepted conceptual system.  Sometimes the theory has to crumble first, and a new framework be adopted, before the crucial facts can be seen at all.”  Stephen Jay Gould, “Cordelia’s Dilemma,” Natural History 102.2 (February 1993). 

“New facts, collected in old ways under the guidance of old theories, rarely lead to any substantial revision of thought.  Facts do not ‘speak for themselves, they are read in the light of theory.”  Stephen Jay Gould, “The Validation of Continental Drift,” in Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (1978; reprint, London: Penguin, 1991), 161. 

“We can tell tales of improvement for some groups, but in honest moments we must admit that the history of complex life is more a story of multifarious variation about a set of basic designs than a saga of accumulating excellence . . . I regard the failure to find a clear ‘vector of progress’ in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record . . . we have sought to impose a pattern that we hoped to find on a world that does not really acquiesce.”  Stephen Jay Gould, “Death and Transfiguration” in The Flamingo’s Smile (New York: W.W. Norton, 1985). 

Other evolutionists have said similar things: 

“[E]ver since Darwin’s work inspired the notion that fossils linking modern man and extinct ancestor would provide the most convincing proof of human evolution, preconceptions have led evidence by the nose in the study of fossil man.”  John Reader, “Whatever Happened to Zinjanthropus?” New Scientist 89, (March 26, 1981): 802-805. 

“In other words, when the assumed evolutionary processes did not match the pattern of fossils that they were supposed to have generated, the pattern was judged to be ‘wrong.’ A circular argument arises: interpret the fossil record in terms of a particular theory of evolution, inspect the interpretation, and note that it confirms the theory.  Well, it would, wouldn’t it?”  Tom S. Kemp, “A Fresh Look at the Fossil Record,” New Scientist 108 (December 5, 1985): 66-67. 

“How is it that trained men, the greatest experts of their day, could look at a set of modern human bones the cranial fragments and ‘see’ a clear simian signature in them; and see in an ape’s jaw the unmistakable signs of humanity.  The answers, inevitably, have to do with the scientists’ expectations and their effects on the interpretation of the data.”  Roger Lewin, Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 61. 

“Whenever Darwinism is the topic . . . science and philosophy get completely intertwined.  Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard, objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving.  But there is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.”  Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 21 

“Biochemists and biologists who adhere blindly to the Darwinism theory search for results that will be in agreement with their theories and consequently orient their research in a given direction, whether it be in the field of ecology, ethology, sociology, demography (dynamics of populations), genetics (so-called evolutionary genetics), or paleontology. This intrusion of theories has unfortunate results: it deprives observations and experiments of their objectivity, makes them biased, and, moreover, creates false problems. . . . The code of conduct that the naturalist wishing to understand the problem of evolution must adopt is to adhere to facts and sweep away all a priori ideas and dogmas.  Facts must come first and theories must follow.  The only verdict that matters is the one pronounced by the court as proved facts.  Indeed, the best studies on evolution have been carried out by biologists who are not blinded by doctrines and who observe facts coldly without considering whether they agree or disagree with their theories.”  Pierre Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation, (New York: Academic Press, 1977), 7-8.

“If deterministic constraints exist, then certain regularities or trends in the large scale pattern of evolution should be evident.  Yet very few studies have addressed this problem.  One main reason is that natural selection is strictly a local mechanism and hence inherently unable to account for any global trend or pattern.  Another reason is that evolutionary pattern itself is the product of inference from available data.  Where inference is habitually made under certain presumptions, the resulting pattern becomes correspondingly biased.  A case in point is the phylogenetic classification of organisms.”  Mae-Wan Ho and Peter T. Saunders, Beyond Neo-Darwinism: An Introduction to the New Evolutionary Paradigm (London: Academic Press, 1984), 7. 

“And it has been the paleontologist my own breed who have been most responsible for letting ideas dominate reality . . . We paleontologist have said that the history of life supports that interpretation [i.e., gradual adaptive change], all the while knowing that it does not.”  Niles Eldredge, Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985), 144. 

“Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution, because it is this theory (there are several) which we use to interpret the fossil record.  By doing so, we are guilty of circular reasoning if we then say the fossil record supports this theory.”  Ronald R. West, “Paleontology and Uniformitarianism,” Compass 45 (May 1968): 216  

“We must learn to accept the fossil record at face value and construct our theories around it, not the other way round.  Too often we have endeavored to force it into a particular mold or to ignore awkward facts contained in it . . . We still have a long way to go before we look at the fossil record for what it is and not for what we would like it to be.  Historically, from Lyell and Darwin onwards, people have looked at the fossil record with a particular pattern in mind.  They have failed to find the pattern they sought and have appealed to the incompleteness of the fossil record to explain way this anomaly.  We are still doing this . . .”  Christopher R.C. Paul, “The Adequacy of the Fossil Record,” in ed. K.A. Joysey and A. E. Friday, Problems of Phylogenetic Reconstruction, 115-16 (London, Academic Press, 1982).

28 Replies to “Looking Past the Blinders

  1. 1
    Karl Pfluger says:

    BarryA wrote:
    “A couple of days ago I said that some scientists’ metaphysical commitments make them blind to data that disconfirms their theory. My comment was met with howls of indignation by commentators who insisted that “science” is pristine, self-correcting and ideology-free. Nonsense.”

    Barry,

    Who are the commenters who “insisted that ‘science’ is pristine, self-correcting and ideology-free”? I reread both “Illusion of Knowledge” threads and found nobody making (much less “howling”) such a statement.

    Science is neither pristine nor ideology-free. It is self-correcting, however, and that is its genius.

  2. 2
    russ says:

    “Science is neither pristine nor ideology-free. It is self-correcting, however, and that is its genius.”

    Is science “self-correcting” in the short run or the long run? It kind of makes a difference in the debate, doesn’t it? If it takes, say, 150 years for science to come around to the correct answer, then you can’t blame people for getting impatient with a century of wrong understanding, can you?

  3. 3
    tinabrewer says:

    Cheers, russ. I just got done reading a mini-biographical sketch of Semmelweiss, the physician responsible for identifying the fact that a microscopic pathogen (then considered a fairy-tale by science because we didn’t yet have the ability to see them) was responsible for the deaths of millions of women after childbirth. It was nauseating and sad to read the descriptions of the opponents of his theory, who couldn’t be troubled to wash their hands after dissecting corpses before delivering babies. Semmelweiss suffered discharge and ignominy but was ultimately vindicated. How many women died while this self-correction took place? It doesn’t bear contemplation.

  4. 4
    Hawks says:

    tinabrewer wrote:”How many women died while this self-correction took place? It doesn’t bear contemplation. ”

    Probably not the millions that you wrote just above. How many do you reckon will die because of the “scientific establishment” refusing to accept ID?

  5. 5
    Lurker says:

    BarryA,
    I’ve often wondered how scientists conclude something has been “proven” when nowhere in the scientific method is there an objective way to answer the following questions:

    1. What constitutes acceptable evidence?
    2. How much weight should be given to each piece of evidence?
    3. How much weight/evidence is needed?
    4. How can we verify that in fact a reasonable conclusion was reached?

    IDists could give mountains of evidence (according to IDists) to support ID, but all the Darwinists have to do is put on their blinders and say any one of the following:

    Not acceptable evidence (#1) — “That’s means nothing”
    Not good evidence (#2) — “That’s pretty weak evidence”
    Not enough good evidence (#3) — “It’s all good, but you haven’t proven anything”
    Wrong conclusion (#4) — “You interpreted the data incorrectly”

    I guess I’m with C.S. Lewis on this one…. “If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved”.

  6. 6
    Ben Z says:

    Read as attacking any form of change, and supporting creationism, scientists will deny these attacks. From the perspective of an ID advocate, they seem to support ID.

  7. 7
    tinabrewer says:

    Hawks: I may have been unclear. I meant that in the entire history of the human race before Semmelweiss (tongue in cheek here) MILLIONS of women died after childbirth because of unnecessary infection. I have no idea (thats why I asked, rhetorically, ‘how many women died…’) how many perished between the time he attempted, unsuccessfully, to change medical practices and the time those practices finally changed. Someone probably has roughed out these figures somewhere, I just don’t have them. What is tragic to me about this example is the way it so perfectly illustrates the stupidity of the arrogance associated with the notion that at any given time, our knowledge of natural processes is practically complete. The students and surgeons whom Semmelweiss took to task, begging them to wash their bloody hands before touching women in childbirth, were outraged at the inconvenience of the called-for measure, and certain that his silly notions of transmissible illness were just fairy stories. After all, everyone knows that…(fill in blanks with certainty of choice) Of course when pressed, scientists always rush to assure us of the deep deep humility and intrinsically provisional nature of scientific knowledge. But in practice, of course, a long history of terrifically wrong and confidently made pronouncements has been precisely recorded.

  8. 8
    GilDodgen says:

    I used to argue with a friend about evolutionary theory. I said, “Look, every educated person knows that life started by purely chemical means and Darwin’s basic theory explains everything after that.”

    My friend did not argue with me. He just challenged me to read a book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton. I presumed that the book would be a totally ridiculous religious screed, but I was wrong. Everything went downhill after that. 🙂

    No one I had ever known mentioned the challenges that Denton raised, and I never thought to ask the essential questions. Blinders were removed.

  9. 9
    Thought Provoker says:

    BarryA,

    Isn’t it a bit ironic that you quote evolution proponents preaching the need to question their presumptions. Where are the similar quotes from Intelligent Design proponents?

    From my view of the world, it is the ID proponents that argue absolutes. “Irreducibly Complex” isn’t a term that leaves much room for doubt. Something is either irreducibly complex or it isn’t. Even “Specified Complexity” has a black and white tone to it. What is wrong with “non-obvious complexity” or “machine-like complexity” or even “designed-looking complexity”?

    Much has been made of the differences in opinions between Evolutionary Biologists (differences that result in lots of research and peer-reviewed papers). While differences of opinions between ID proponents are becoming more obvious, there seems to be an attempt to downplay this.

    Why?

  10. 10
    BarryA says:

    Lurker writes, “I’ve often wondered how scientists conclude something has been ‘proven’”

    Lurker, scientists do not usually talk about “proving” theories. They talk about “falsifying” them. Let me explain.

    Many people consider Karl Popper to be one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and his ideas regarding the line dividing science from philosophy/metaphysics – a line Popper called “the line of demarcation – are regnant in modern philosophy of science. Indeed, in the United States Poppers ideas have achieved the force of law (perhaps a first for a philosopher).

    In The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Popper proposed the idea of “falsifiability” as this line of demarcation:

    “But I shall certainly admit a system as empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience.. These considerations suggest that not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation.. In other words: I shall not require of a scientific system that it shall be capable of being singled out, once and for all, in a positive sense; but I shall require that its logical form shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to refuted by experience..

    Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, (1959; reprint of the 1st English ed., New York, Routledge Classics, 2002), 18 (emphasis in original).

    The term “falsifiable” can be confusing, because it is so closely related to “false,” meaning untrue.. A falsifiable statement can be perfectly true. A falsifiable statement is a statement that is, at least in principle, capable of being refuted by experience. Whether the statement is actually refuted by experience is another question.

    For example, the statement “The earth orbits the sun.” is “falsifiable” even though it is not false.. It is falsifiable because it is possible to test the statement by experience and refute it if it is untrue.. In other words, anyone can test the statement by performing scientific experiments to determine whether the earth in fact orbits the sun.. Popper would say the statement is “inter-subjectively testable,” which means the results of the experiments used to test the statement do not depend on who is performing the tests.

    An example of a statement that is not falsifiable is Carl Sagan’s mantra “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” In this statement Sagan is asserting that non-material phenomena do not exist, have never existed and will never exist.. Popper would say that a statement of this type is not falsifiable, because “We cannot search the whole world in order to establish that something does not exist, has never existed, and will never exist.” Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 49. Sagan’s statement is unfalsifiable – and therefore unscientific – because it is impossible to test it empirically..

    Why did Popper choose falsification over “verification” (i.e., “proof”)? That is beyond the scope of this essay, but the short answer is that it has to do with an aversion to making “absolute” statements. Popper asserted that no scientific theory can be confirmed in the absolute sense of the word. A corollary to this assertion is that all scientific theories are contingent. Popper says we must be satisfied not with absolute answers, but with conclusions that are “firm enough.” He writes: “Science does not rest on solid bedrock. The bold structure of its theories rises, as it were, above a swamp. It is like a building erected on piles. The piles are driven down from above into the swamp, but not down to any natural or ‘given’ base; and if we stop driving the piles deeper, it is not because we have reached firm ground. We simply stop when we are satisfied that the piles are firm enough to carry the structure, at least for the time being.” The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 94.

  11. 11
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Wonderful quotes. I hope others recognize what they are reading: snapshots of self-correction in process, as these thoughtful and self-critical theorists (Gould in particular, but Dennett too) examine the prejudices that can constrain and bias any human endeavor. And what you are reading obviously directly contradicts the inaccurate caricature often offered in these pages of scientists and philosophers of science dogmatically closing ranks. It happens – but others in the community call them on it, and science moves on.

    In the preface to his book “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea Dennett” made another observation about that work that could also bear some emulation here. “A few words about method. This book is largely about science but it is not itself a work of science. Science is not done by quoting authorities, however eloquent and eminent, and then evaluating their arguments.”

  12. 12
    Bob OH says:

    Lurker writes, “I’ve often wondered how scientists conclude something has been ‘proven’”

    Lurker, scientists do not usually talk about “proving” theories. They talk about “falsifying” them. Let me explain.

    A lot of us don’t even do that. If you look at the introductory philosophy of science literature, then you’ll see that Popper hsa been thoroughly debunked. Check out Chalmer’s “What is This Thing Called Science?”, for example. The problem is that falsification isn’t possible either: one can push the falsification onto another theory (because any scientific inference will rely on several theories), or invent an ad hoc hypothesis (which should itself then be tested, of course).

    Bob

  13. 13
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Russ, Tina,

    We can wish that all scientists were perfect humans, impervious to prejudice and perfectly open-minded, but this is no more likely than a world full of perfect teachers, perfect politicians, perfect religious leaders, and perfect used-car salesmen. The fault lies not with science but with human nature. The real value of science as an institution is that it works despite the inevitable imperfections of its practitioners.

    Intelligent Design will triumph if it can produce results where Darwinism fails. So far it has failed to meet the challenge. Relaxing the standards of science to help ID along is not the answer, because for every Semmelweiss there are a hundred Blondlots. The time wasted on dead ends would far outweigh the benefits of accelerating a few genuine discoveries.

  14. 14
    WinglesS says:

    “Intelligent Design will triumph if it can produce results where Darwinism fails. So far it has failed to meet the challenge. Relaxing the standards of science to help ID along is not the answer, because for every Semmelweiss there are a hundred Blondlots. The time wasted on dead ends would far outweigh the benefits of accelerating a few genuine discoveries.” – Karl Pfluger

    I think some on this blog have argued that Darwinism doesn’t produce many results here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1558

    Besides, I’ve heard that Darwinism gets alot more funding so it’s unfair to judge the fledgling science of ID on the same ground as the longer established science of Darwinism. If what is said about Darwinism – that it doesn’t contribute much to society anyway – is true, I don’t see what harm ID can do if it’s given the chance. Afterall I can think of some benefits ID can bring – if we assume that nature has an intelligent designer, scientists might be more open to the idea of copying designs in nature. Instead of assuming nature to be full of useless leftovers of evolution – like the panda’s thumb or the human appendix waiting to be eliminated via natural selection, it might bring some good to technology to see nature as near perfect designs.

    I’ve sen many such instances where designs in nature have inspired the progress of science and technology. http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/8268/ If we present ID as a valid alternative set of assumptions from which we perceive nature, such technological progress might accelerate. Billions of dollars thus far have been wasted trying to find fabled life on Mars by sending spaceships there already. For all we know there might never have been life on Mars. Is it so much of a crime to divert some of this funding to ID?

  15. 15
    Karl Pfluger says:

    “I think some on this blog have argued that Darwinism doesn’t produce many results here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1558

    That post was about Darwinism’s relevance to areas of biology outside of evolutionary biology. For Darwinism’s voluminous contributions to evolutionary biology, I refer you to the classic textbooks by Futuyma and Ridley.

    “Besides, I’ve heard that Darwinism gets alot more funding so it’s unfair to judge the fledgling science of ID on the same ground as the longer established science of Darwinism.”

    Established science always gets more funding than new science, until the new science shows enough promise to warrant a comparable investment. All new sciences face this hurdle. Other new sciences have surmounted it. Why should ID be exempted?

    “If what is said about Darwinism – that it doesn’t contribute much to society anyway – is true, I don’t see what harm ID can do if it’s given the chance.”

    Whether Darwinism contributes to society is irrelevant to its truth as a scientific theory. The same is true of ID.

    “Afterall I can think of some benefits ID can bring – if we assume that nature has an intelligent designer, scientists might be more open to the idea of copying designs in nature.”

    Science is about searching for truth, not about choosing to believe something for the sake of some secondary benefit.

    “Instead of assuming nature to be full of useless leftovers of evolution – like the panda’s thumb or the human appendix waiting to be eliminated via natural selection, it might bring some good to technology to see nature as near perfect designs.”

    Your fellow ID supporters will tell you that ID does not assume that the designs in nature are optimal or even near-optimal. Therefore, by itself, the hypothesis that something in nature is designed gives us no reason to copy it. It might be a bad design that isn’t worth copying. We have to evaluate its quality first. But this, of course, is true even if the “design” was produced by natural selection, and not by a designer. So either way, we have to evaluate the design before copying it. The ID assumption offers no advantage.

    “Billions of dollars thus far have been wasted trying to find fabled life on Mars by sending spaceships there already. For all we know there might never have been life on Mars. Is it so much of a crime to divert some of this funding to ID?”

    I can assure you that that money has not been wasted, even if it turns out that Mars has always been lifeless. Planetary science has benefitted tremendously from the investment.

    As for diverting money from planetary exploration to ID: Why pick ID to be the beneficiary when there are plenty of other, more promising projects competing for limited science funding?

  16. 16
    Zero says:

    My wife says I have perfect eyes in my azz.
    She calls it 20/20 hind sight.

    Zero

  17. 17
    BarryA says:

    Thought Provoker writes: “From my view of the world, it is the ID proponents that argue absolutes”

    You should get out more.

    The point of this post if for you to take off your blinders. Your point is not even remotely valid. It is 180 degrees from the true state of affairs. I am not aware of a single prominent ID proponent who argues in the doctrinaire way of say a Dawkins or a Dennent, neither of whom is willing to consider even the possibility that their metaphysical presuppositions have led them astray.

    Now if you were to limit your point to creationists, I might agree.

  18. 18
    BarryA says:

    Reciprocating Bill writes: “I hope others recognize what they are reading: snapshots of self-correction in process, as these thoughtful and self-critical theorists (Gould in particular, but Dennett too) examine the prejudices that can constrain and bias any human endeavor.”

    Bill, I included the Dennett quote for irony’s sake. Anyone who has read any of his stuff understands that he has failed to take his own advice. There are view more blinkered thinkers on the planet. Perhaps the irony was a little too subtle. Sorry.

  19. 19
    BarryA says:

    Bob OH writes: “you’ll see that Popper has been thoroughly debunked.”

    Bob I certainly agree that Popper’s influence may have reached its apogee and is now on the wane, but it is premature to say he has been “debunked.” Remember, his ideas have the force of law in the United States.

    I personally think it is a good thing Popper veneration is on the decline. In some respects Popper’s influence has been good, because he has given us tools to expose metaphysical naturalists who have tried to cloak their religious/philosophical pronouncements with the authority of science (Carl Sagan comes to mind). On the other hand, Popper’s influence has tended to push other epistemologically sound methods (e.g., inference to the best explanation) out.

  20. 20
    Thought Provoker says:

    To BarryA,

    Thank you for your response. You are somewhat correct in your suggestion that I need to “get out more” because I am not interested in atheists who think they have the inside track to the ultimate truth anymore than creationists’ literal belief in a transcription of a collection of ancient writings.

    It is the scientific field as a whole that I am trying to understand. While you may not be “aware of a single prominent ID proponent who argues in the doctrinaire way”, doesn’t it say something about a field of interest where it is difficult to find a prominent proponent advising caution against letting hopes and desires cause an overly optimistic view of the evidence?

    Terms like “Irreducible Complexity” and “Specified Complexity” appear to embody more of a desired goal than an existing phenomenon. I would say the same thing of “Common Descent” except for that I don’t see how that helps either side of the debate. To me, Common Descent is more consistent with an intelligent designer than not.

    I hope it doesn’t lower your standing with your peers, but I think you have done a great job in promoting constructive conversations. That is why I was simultaneously impressed and surprised when you suggest we ALL take our blinders off and then proceeded to only quote evolution proponents.

  21. 21
    avocationist says:

    Thought Provoker,

    doesn’t it say something about a field of interest where it is difficult to find a prominent proponent advising caution against letting hopes and desires cause an overly optimistic view of the evidence?

    It seems to me that such caution is rather often expressed, throughout the works and comments of ID promoters, and the reason for this is that we are the underdog.It comes with the territory. What worries me is what might happen in the future, seeing the patterns of human nature thus far, if ID were in the entrenched seat and a new challenge came along. How will we behave if the shoe is on the other foot?

  22. 22
    BarryA says:

    avocationist, that’s easy. We’ll behave exactly the same way the Darwinists behave now. We are human after all.

  23. 23
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    BarryA Said:

    “Bill, I included the Dennett quote for irony’s sake. Anyone who has read any of his stuff understands that he has failed to take his own advice. There are view more blinkered thinkers on the planet. Perhaps the irony was a little too subtle. Sorry.”

    I’ve read many of his titles, and don’t understand that at all. Your second sentence is thereby (trivially!) refuted.

    Dennett is obviously not shy about articulating and advocating his position. Why should he be? Dennett is doing philosophy, as he explicitly stated in the passage I quoted above, and has strenuously articulated a particular philosophical position vis what he believes to be the implications of evolutionary biology. I take it he is doing so because he feels that materialistic naturalism is correct. Who is to say he should do otherwise? I find many of his contributions original, thought provoking, and well argued – very much determined, honest advocacy, but far from blinkered.

    It falls to those who disagree with him to refute his position with better argumentation, rather than engage in what he has called “refutation by caricature.”

    (Not everything he writes is my cup of tea. “Freedom Evolves” and “The Intentional Stance” are his best volumes, IMHO. I didn’t much care for “Breaking the Spell.”)

  24. 24
    John A. Davison says:

    Gould remained an atheist to the end and the way he treated Schindewolf was disgraceful. It is understandable why Schindewolf was to remain unappreciated long after his book appeared in the English version in 1993, twenty odd years after Schindewolf was dead. I am surprised anyone would even purchase the book after Gould dismissed everything that Schindewoplf represented with his comment in the Foreword that Schindewolf’s evolutionary views were “spectacularly flawed.”

    Theodosius Dobzhansky, another Darwinian, along with Darcy Wentworth Thompson did exactly the same thing when they introduced the 1969 paper back edition of Leo Berg’s Nomogenesis, each claiming they disagreed with the significance of just about everything that was contained in that great work. What makes that particular incident even more disgraceful is that Berg had been Dobzhansky’s mentor before he set out for the new world. Imagine, proclaiming long after he was dead, that your old professor was completely wrong about the real significance of virtually everything he had presented in Nomogenesis, in my estimation the most important book ever published on the great mystery of organic evoloution.

    Don’t take my word for any of this. Read the Foreword by Dobzhansky and the Introduction by Thompson and draw your own conclusions. It will leave little to the imagination. Gould, Dobzhansky and Thompson, all three had but one purpose in mind which was to protect the atheist chance-happy Darwinian fairy tale whatever the cost. I documented the whole sorid business in my old blog – “A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis,”

    With his encyclopedic knowledge, I regard Leo Berg as the most insightful evolutionist of all time, and everyone accepts Schindewolf as the greatest paleontologist since Cuvier. Yet both of these great scientists have been muzzled by an “establishment” which was and still is unified to protect the atheist ideology of neoDarwinism from the exposure that it never had anything whatsoever to do with creative evolution. It is the most shameful episode in the history of science, bar none. Bateson, Broom, Grasse and Goldschmidt have not fared much better. Grasse was the French equivalent of the Russian Berg, and has been dismissed in the same way by the spokespersons for the Darwinian myth.

    It makes me sick to my stomach.

    One of my stated objectives is to resurrect Schindewolf, Berg, Broom, Bateson, Grasse and Goldschmidt from the oblivion to which the Darwinian mystics have so effectively interred them. It is for that reason that I dedicated both my Manifesto and my 2000 paper, “Ontogeny, Phylogeny and the Origin of Biological Information” to their memory.

    “No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.”
    Thomas Carlyle

    “A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.”
    Robert Burton

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  25. 25
    Hawks says:

    John A. Davison wrote: “Gould remained an atheist to the end …”

    I thought Gould was a jew.

  26. 26
    BarryA says:

    I read Gould’s deposition in a case in which he was an expert. The issue of his personal religious views came up, and he said he did not believe in a God per se, but thought there might be some type of “force” in the universe. He may have been a Jew (I don’t know), but certainly not an orthodox one.

  27. 27
    John A. Davison says:

    What matters is not what someone believes. What matters is what some are stupid enough to put down in black and white. Dobzhansky, Thompson and Gould have, in their own words, made their dedication to the Darwinian fairy tale indelibly clear for all time. So have Ernst (dyed-in-the-wool Darwinian) Mayr, and Richard (the blind watchmaker climbing Mount Improbable) Dawkins done the same as I just demonstrated.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  28. 28
    John A. Davison says:

    I love it so!

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