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Nature: Scientists “stunned” by Trump win

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Why? Doesn’t that speak poorly of the powers of the scientific method?

From Jeff Tollefson, Lauren Morello& Sara Reardon at Nature:

Republican businessman and reality-television star Donald Trump will be the United States’ next president. Although science played only a bit part in this year’s dramatic, hard-fought campaign, many researchers expressed fear and disbelief as Trump defeated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on 8 November.

“Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.”

Trump has questioned the science underlying climate change — at one point suggesting that it was a Chinese hoax — and pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

Although he has offered few details on policies for biomedical research, Trump said last year that he has heard “terrible” things about the US National Institutes of Health; he has also derided NASA as a “logistics agency for low-Earth orbit activity“, and said he would expand the role of the commercial space industry in the US space programme. More.

Et cetera yada.

This is not a political blog so I (O’Leary for News) will do no more than suggest that if the “stunned” had spent less time preening and more time examining the problems of the American electorate as the electorate perceives them, they might have avoided the “fear and disbelief.”

One suspects they don’t have many friends down there and acting snooty won’t make them any more.

Point of possible interest: I have a news desk at a Canadian site where an ID sympathizer approached me last year and said, Trump is going to be president. Give me space and I will call every contest right for you. He did, including last night. Does that mean that ID would be more useful in making predictions about human behaviour? [No, no, human behaviour is all an accident!]

See also: Stephen Hawking disappointed by Brexit

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23 Replies to “Nature: Scientists “stunned” by Trump win

  1. 1
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    News in OP:

    “Why? Doesn’t that [the failure of the polls] speak poorly of the powers of the scientific method?”

    Heh. Yes, actually, it does indict the corruption of the scientific method, which has run parallel to the corruption of the political method in the entire Democratic Party and the establishment wing of the Republican Party of the U.S.

    In my university statistics class yesterday, I told the class that I did not want to discuss the merits of the election, but that I did want to examine how and why the pollsters got the statistics so, so wrong. The three main points were discussed in class were as follows:

    1. The sample was bad.

    Where gathering data from people is involved, it cannot be stated too strongly that getting a sufficiently large AND representative sample is both a science and an art. It requires a good reading of people, and a good understanding of human nature. The pollsters did not understand that Trump supporters were reticent to state their beliefs and intents clearly because of all the derision that has been leveled at them over the past year. They talked as if they were undecided, but they were thinking, “Less words, more action, and on election day.” The pollsters completely missed this.

    2. Two types of bias were seen.

    In the first case, confirmation bias appeared in individuals because pollsters have so much at stake in continuing the Progressive project and world view. Like media types, they overwhelmingly direct their political donations to the Progressives, namely the Democrats.

    Although I didn’t continue my thoughts on this in my class, I now say that when politics is the First Thing, instead of faith and fear of God, there is no room for objectivity or self-examination. That is why the Left doesn’t get irony, because they can never see themselves objectively. Noble cause corruption is at play here as well.

    On election night, by the way, I watched the electoral maps and As I was doing so, I read some of the commentary in both places, and I left some comments under at the nytimes site under this same name. I was amazed to see there the arrogance, disdain, hate and anger directed at the supposed ignorant, racist, misogynist, unwashed, ignorant, hateful, ignorant, racist, ignorant people in red-state America. Humility comes before wisdom. Therefore, until the Left humbles itself, it will learn nothing and will forget nothing.

    The second type of bias we discussed was groupthink. As above, I didn’t discuss this in detail with my class, but I do so now.

    The Turks have a proverb that translates to “One grape darkens by watching another.” It’s the equivalent to our English saying, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Even apart from the moral angle, which is entirely legitimate, a separation in world views creates tension that humans naturally eschew. Like electric potential difference, which is “high voltage” by definition, large differences in moral-tinged issues creates an opportunity for fireworks and fire. People don’t like this sort of thing on a daily basis, so they tend to syntonize their views (lock to the same frequency, to use an electrical metaphor). That is groupthink. The weight of group opinion presses independent thinkers into conformity. We see it in the movements for Darwinism, catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, so-called same-sex marriage, Progressivisism/socialism, and abortion. I can cite examples of punishment meted out to dissenters in each of these “communities”, and no doubt so can you.

    I did explain to my class the role of the devil’s advocate in the canonization process of the Catholic Church. I am not Catholic, so I invited corrections from the class to anything I didn’t state correctly. I told them that in their careers, if they do not have a skeptic present in their statistical analysis team, they must appoint one or suffer the ignominy of these kinds of bias errors.

    3. Dual agendas were apparent.

    I reviewed with the class the allegations that have been made in the media that pollsters in America were trying to shape the electorate rather than describe it. I suggested to my class that they themselves have to be very careful to avoid having a dual agenda in their own uses of statistics, especially when that agenda must remain hidden, because it can lead to ignoring and corrupting their analysis. In automatic control theory, engineers maintain separately the concepts of observability and controllability, and for good reason.

    The Director of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an American polling company, just issued an apology worded as “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” (my fault, my fault, oh how totally my fault this all was). This man is on the road to wisdom, because he has started to embrace humility. Add the fear of the LORD to this, and let him choose a new set of close colleagues, and he is well on his way to getting it right in 2020.

  2. 2
    J-Mac says:

    Trump is anti-science?

    He may appear a little crazy and is definitely eccentric (which no doubt helped him win over boring and predictable Clinton), but he is not stupid. Let me assure you of that.

    He may be the first president who will have no problem detecting nonsense science, since he, as a businessman, had to detect nonsense business opportunities fairly easily.

    True science and true scientists have nothing to worry about, which puts Darwinists in the riding seat, again!

  3. 3

    From AAAS:

    After the Election: What Now for Science Funding and Policy?

    Dear Colleague,

    “The 45th president of the United States will confront a broad range of global challenges, from addressing climate change and securing our energy future to sustaining investments in scientific research efforts in numerous areas, including medicine.”
    – AAAS CEO Rush Holt

    What happens now?

    Join Science/AAAS on November 14 for an online discussion of the election results and their impact on science funding and policy.

    Register now for this informative webinar, moderated by AAAS CEO Rush Holt and featuring AAAS COO Celeste Rohlfing, former House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon and Natural Resources Defense Council Director of Government Affairs David Goldston, for an insightful discussion of the postelection landscape and what it means for science funding and policy.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.”,,,

    Methinks the good professor is confusing his naturalistic philosophy with science. Contrary to what the good professor may sincerely believe, it would be hard to imagine a more anti-scientific worldview than his base naturalistic worldview has, in fact, turned out to be.

    Let us be VERY clear to the fact that ALL of science, every discipline within science, is dependent on basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and the ability of our mind to comprehend that rational intelligibility.,,,

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 Greg Bahnsen debate available at the bottom of the site
    Excerpt: When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary.
    The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,

    Moreover, if we cast aside those basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and the ability of our mind to comprehend that rational intelligibility, and try to use naturalism, i.e. methodological naturalism, as our basis for understanding the universe, and for practicing science, then everything within that atheistic/naturalistic worldview, (i.e. supposed evidence for Darwinian evolution, observations of reality, beliefs about reality, sense of self, free will, even reality itself), collapses into self refuting, unrestrained, flights of fantasy and imagination.

    Darwinian evolution, and atheism/naturalism in general, are built entirely upon a framework of illusions and fantasy
    Excerpt: Thus, basically, without God, everything within the atheistic/naturalistic worldview, (i.e. supposed evidence for Darwinian evolution, observations of reality, beliefs about reality, sense of self, free will, even reality itself), collapses into self refuting, unrestrained, flights of fantasy and imagination.
    It would be hard to fathom a more unscientific worldview than Darwinian evolution and Atheistic materialism/naturalism in general have turned out to be.
    Scientists should definitely stick with the worldview that brought them to the dance! i.e Christianity!

    Methodological naturalism, the axiom of Materialism as it is applied to modern science, i.e. only materialistic/naturalistic answers are ever allowed, is the primary method of science taught in American universities. Yet, Materialism/Naturalism is not itself a finding of modern science but is merely a unproven philosophy that is a-priorily imposed onto science. A completely unproven philosophy which makes the dogmatic assertion that only blind material processes generated the universe and everything in it, including ourselves.
    Materialism is thus in direct opposition to Theism which holds that God purposely created this universe and everything in it, including ourselves, i.e. holding that God created us in His image.
    This dogmatic imposition of the philosophy of materialism, i.e. methodological naturalism, onto modern science is especially interesting since materialism had little to nothing to with the founding of modern science, but instead modern science was born out of the medieval Christian cultures of Europe by men who were by and large devoutly Christian in their beliefs. Specifically, they believed the universe to be rational and that they had minds capable of grasping that rationality.
    Moreover science, or more particularly the scientific method, in reality, only cares to relentlessly pursue the truth and could care less if the answer turns out to be a materialistic one or not. Ironically, since truth itself is a transcendent entity which is not reducible to purely material/natural entity then Methodological Naturalism actually precludes ‘the truth’ from ever being reached by science!
    Imposing materialistic answers onto the scientific method beforehand, methodological naturalism, is especially problematic in these questions of origins, since we are indeed questioning the materialistic philosophy itself. i.e. We are asking the scientific method to answer this very specific question, “Did God create the universe and us or did blind material processes create the universe and us?” When we realize that this is the actual question we are seeking an answer to within the scientific method, then of course it is readily apparent we cannot impose strict materialistic answers onto the scientific method prior to investigation.
    When looking at the evidence from modern science in this light we find out many interesting things which scientists, who have been blinded by the philosophy of materialism, miss.
    This is because the materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several contradictory predictions about what type of science evidence we will find.
    These contradictory predictions, and the evidence we have found by modern science, can be tested against one another to see if either materialism or Theism is true.

    Here are a few comparisons:

    Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – a comparative overview of the major predictions of each philosophy – video

    1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted space-time energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted space-time energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago.

    2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence.

    3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. –

    4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) –

    5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).-

    6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (G. Gonzalez; Hugh Ross). –

    7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geochemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photosynthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. –

    8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) –

    9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. –

    10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. –

    11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)–

    12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the separation of human intelligence from animal intelligence ‘is one of degree and not of kind’(C. Darwin). Theism predicted that we are made in the ‘image of God’- Despite an ‘explosion of research’ in this area over the last four decades, human beings alone are found to ‘mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities.’ (Tattersall; Schwartz). Moreover, both biological life and the universe itself are found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. –

    14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) –

    15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening.

    16. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’, (cannot be created or destroyed), ‘non-local’, (beyond space-time matter-energy), quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale (in every DNA and protein molecule).

    As you can see when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy (methodological naturalism), from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact science is even very good at pointing us to Christianity as the solution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’

    The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video

    That Christianity should provide an empirically backed solution to the much sought out “Theory of Everything”, i.e. a primary reason for why the universe exists, should not really be all that surprising since, number 1, modern science was born out of the Christian worldview, and, number 2, the belief that there should even be a unification between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, (i.e. a mathematical theory of everything), does not follow from the math, but is a belief that is born out of Theistic presuppositions (S. Fuller), and, number 3, Christianity ‘predicts’ that “in him all things were created”

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  5. 5
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    A remarkable mea culpa from a journalist at CBS News:

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    An example of a different approach to gathering and analyzing data?

  7. 7
    News says:

    J-Mac at 2: The Darwinists have the riding seat on a bucking bronco.

    Dean from Ohio at 5: I (News) responded here: No need to apologize. You are obsolete.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:


    We must recall science is too often a code word for ideological, lab coat clad evolutionary materialism.

    As Lewontin inadvertently exposed.


    PS: As in NYRB, Jan 1997:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Johnson’s reply:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence.

    [–> notice, the power of an undisclosed, question-begging, controlling assumption . . . often put up as if it were a mere reasonable methodological constraint; emphasis added. Let us note how Rational Wiki, so-called, presents it:

    “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses.”

    Of course, this ideological imposition on science that subverts it from freely seeking the empirically, observationally anchored truth about our world pivots on the deception of side-stepping the obvious fact since Plato in The Laws Bk X, that there is a second, readily empirically testable and observable alternative to “natural vs [the suspect] supernatural.” Namely, blind chance and/or mechanical necessity [= the natural] vs the ART-ificial, the latter acting by evident intelligently directed configuration. [Cf Plantinga’s reply here and here.]

    And as for the god of the gaps canard, the issue is, inference to best explanation across competing live option candidates. If chance and necessity is a candidate, so is intelligence acting by art through design. And it is not an appeal to ever- diminishing- ignorance to point out that design, rooted in intelligent action, routinely configures systems exhibiting functionally specific, often fine tuned complex organisation and associated information. Nor, that it is the only observed cause of such, nor that the search challenge of our observed cosmos makes it maximally implausible that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity can account for such.]

    That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997

    Just for fun I did a little web-research on that title, looking for commentaries and reviews. What do scientific materialists have to say about it?

    Non-statistical results show that 90% of the hits that come up in the first dozen of pages or so are from creationists/theists/IDists.

    Of the very few references from those who would be friendly to Lewontin’s worldview, I found only one who superficially agreed with it (just an anti-religious attitude, not realizing the forceful ideology of Lewontin’s view), and the rest all basically saying “Lewontin is wrong”.

    I’m not sure how to interpret that. It could be that most materialists want to co-exist with belief in God, and that Lewontin was just an extreme outlier who wanted to destroy all spiritual belief.

    Or it could be that people don’t like seeing their worldview exposed so bluntly like that and they want to cover it up with a more tolerant attitude.

  12. 12
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Denyse for News @ 7:

    Dean from Ohio at 5: I (News) responded here: No need to apologize. You are obsolete.

    I thought at first you were talking directly to me instead of summarizing your main point at the link! Yes, the MSMers do deserve whatever opprobrium we can bring their way. But “seventy times seven” is, I think, meant for times just like these, and perhaps especially for cold warriors still fighting the long fight against Progressivism and all its poisonous works.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:


    Lewontin is so eminent that he counts as an expert witness being blunt. So, it credibly is: not being too happy to have the cat let out of the bag (that should have had a piglet in it).

    To see just how representative his point is, let us see what the US National Science Teachers Association [NSTA] have said in their official statement of 2000; which in effect ideologically redefines science in the exact context of education vs indoctrination — in a notorious July 2000 Board declaration:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts [–> ideological imposition of a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism, aka natural-ISM; this is of course self-falsifying at the outset] . . . .

    [S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [–> loaded word that cannot be properly backed up due to failure of demarcation arguments] methods, explanations, generalizations and products [–> declaration of intent to ideologically censor education materials] . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work [–> undermined by the question-begging ideological imposition and associated censorship] . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [–> question-begging false dichotomy, the proper contrast for empirical investigations is the natural (chance and/or necessity) vs the ART-ificial, through design . . . cf UD’s weak argument correctives 17 – 19, here] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    The US National Academy of Science is simply subtler, but says much the same. Here, we may see this in a 2008 version of a long running pamphlet on teaching evolution:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena [–> accurate and reliable, confirmed observation, description and sound analysis]. Natural [–> reliably empirically observed] causes [–> add: meet Newton’s vera causa, actually observed cause test and so] are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature,

    [–> the false choice, natural vs supernatural, when the real and readily empirically testable choice since Plato in the Laws Bk X c 360 BC has been natural ( = blind chance and/or mechanical necessity) vs the ART-ificial working by intelligently directed configuration, aka design. This is a case of irresponsible red herring distraction from the real issue to a convenient strawman creationism target set up to be soaked with the ad hominems of anti-scientific motivation and underlying between the lines insinuations of right wing theocratic “christofascist” impositions, etc]

    scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it.

    [–> observe a case of configuration-based specific functionality beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of complex organisation emerging by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity and the design inference principle would collapse. the strawman tactic is used in a context where it is easy to see that on a trillion observation base, such FSCO/I is an empirically reliable sign of intelligently directed configuration, AKA design, as key causal factor]

    Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10. Emphases added.]

    Such are the ideologically driven indoctrination tactics being resorted to at the highest institutional levels directly relevant to popular, school level and lower division college education in origins science (where of course, much the same will be implicit in more advanced studies). Such bears out Lewontin’s point about a priori ideological imposition.

    We need to do some sobering re-thinking i/l/o what Lewontin exposed.


  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Just for fun, let us rewrite the US NAS statement to better conform to the historic understanding of sciendce and its methods:

    In science, explanations must be based on accurate and reliable, confirmed observation, description and sound analysis. Reliably empirically observed causes meet Newton’s vera causa — actually observed cause — test and so are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. Any scientific explanation has to be directly or indirectly empirically testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. For, unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing.

    Notice, how different in force that becomes?

    Have blind chance and/or mechanical necessity ever been seen to account for origin of life, or for the FSCO/I required for such?

    For, the origin of body plans requiring 10 – 100+ million bases of fresh genetic information?

    Or just for FSCO/I in any form?

    (On trillions of cases FSCO/I reliably comes about by intelligently directed configuration, comments in this thread being trivial additional cases in point. The vera causa-plausible best so far explanation for OOL and OO Body plans, then — on the required FSCO/I — is, design. This does not then close off investigation, it invites reverse engineering and application, e.g. to molecular nanotech and to kinematic self replicator based rebooting of industrial civilisation, creation of an open source industrial “global village construction set” [Cf Marcin Jakubowski] and renewal of development thence solar system colonisation across the next 100 years. An accompanying technology to be researched and developed is manageable fusion. I suspect Bussard’s polywell technology is worth at least some further exploration. A successful Bussard drive could get us to the gas giant moons in 74 days. So much for the science stopper talking point, that is a considerable research programme with extensions to development transformation even if only partially successful. Given the energy sources and climate trend concerns context, I suggest a re-look at pebble bed modular fission reactor and molten salt thorium reactor technologies would be well worth exploring as ways forward on serious scale energy. I also like some of the approaches to digester based bio-fuels, cf Holtzapple. Algae oil may well be a significant source of oil deposits and algae fuel may be another potentially significant payoff. Butanol, today, is directly compatible with Otto cycle, 4-stroke engines, and FAME based biodiesel is a similar answer for trucks. Fuel cell technologies, esp. those capable of running on alcohols, are also worth a look for transformation of transportation and portable equipment generally. And much more.)

  15. 15
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF – good points.

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements …

    There’s a lot that can be said here. As you pointed out, science is about finding the best explanations. Even if we took Lewontin’s view that science is the only begetter of truth, we’d have to assume then that there are no supernatural truths.

    Beyond this, ID remains successful even within an entirely materialist paradigm. ID can point to a non-naturalist cause but all of the evidence that leads to that conclusion is captured within naturalism. It’s just saying that there are causes that go beyond what naturalism can produce.

    Lewontin and others will deny that, with no evidence to support their position. How do they know that there are no supernatural causes?

    So, I consider that ID does not have to change science as it is done today. ID can work successfully in an entirely materialist science. All of the data and observations that support ID come from material nature. The conclusion that there is a non-natural cause for design follows from the failure of naturalism to provide the best explanation.

    Non-theistist (not anti-theists) should be open to this very thing. For any mystery in science where the answer is “we don’t know”, the possiblity of an intelligent designer should remain available. Cutting that off on an a priori basis is the anti-theist bias that we see in Lewontin and his followers.

  16. 16
    J-Mac says:

    News, I’m sorry for not making my last comment more sarcastic. I guess I’m gettin old…

    Yes, Darwinists have had the riding seat on a bucking bronco for over 150 years… and nothing happened and THEY believe nothing will change, because they have been able to get away “with murder” for that long…

    I only wonder how that was possible since until recently the dominating nations in science were religious…some still are…

    If you were THE DESIGNER, who you and I believe exists, what do you think HE is going to do (should do) to the arrogant people who claim HE doesn’t exist?

  17. 17
    Seversky says:

    I would suggest that every time that quote from Richard Lewontin’s is cited it should be considered against the entry on Naturalism in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    The term “naturalism” has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed “naturalists” from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944; Kim 2003).

    So understood, “naturalism” is not a particularly informative term as applied to contemporary philosophers. The great majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject “supernatural” entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the “human spirit”.

    Even so, this entry will not aim to pin down any more informative definition of “naturalism”. It would be fruitless to try to adjudicate some official way of understanding the term. Different contemporary philosophers interpret “naturalism” differently. This disagreement about usage is no accident. For better or worse, “naturalism” is widely viewed as a positive term in philosophical circles—few active philosophers nowadays are happy to announce themselves as “non-naturalists”.[1] This inevitably leads to a divergence in understanding the requirements of “naturalism”. Those philosophers with relatively weak naturalist commitments are inclined to understand “naturalism” in a unrestrictive way, in order not to disqualify themselves as “naturalists”, while those who uphold stronger naturalist doctrines are happy to set the bar for “naturalism” higher.

    If it is unclear what is meant by “natural”, how is it any clearer to refer to the “supernatural”? For those that believe in the supernatural, perhaps they can give examples of that they mean by supernatural and why they classify them in that way?

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, do you believe you have a mind and/or soul? If so, would you claim that your mind and/or soul is natural or supernatural? The common definition is that your mind and/or soul is a supernatural entity that is not reducible to material, i.e. ‘natural’, explanation. Indeed, as the plethora of Near Death Experiences testify, your mind and/or soul is a ‘supernatural’ entity that is capable of living beyond the death of your material, i.e. natural, body.

    Moreover, since the mind and/or soul is a real entity that produces real effects on the material body, and since science can investigate anything that is real, then this ‘supernatural’ entity of the mind and/or soul is very much open to scientific investigation. Indeed, this ‘supernatural’ mind and/or soul finds abundant support in empirical science, especially with the recent advent of quantum biology (among many other lines of evidence).

    Mark 8:37
    Is anything worth more than your soul?

    What Penrose and Hameroff are referring to is the fact that in quantum mechanics it is quantum information that is primarily conserved, and not necessarily energy and matter that are primarily conserved, as energy and matter are primarily conserved in classical mechanics: (November 2016)

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, I actually agree on the vagueness of the term, naturalism. That’s a big part of why I normally use a descriptive term, one anchored to Lewontin’s own words, and further anchored all the way back to Plato in The Laws, Bk X. Namely, evolutionary materialism. From hydrogen to humans by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Where, “natural” can then be identified with Monod’s chance and necessity, and the ART-ificial can be contrasted. Especially intelligence acting by art to effect intended configurations. It is clear from US NAS and NSTA Board, not just Lewontin, that there is imposition of a priori ideological evolutionary materialism, which has exchanged philosophical robes for lab coats. As my adjusted version of the NAS shows, take the loading out and a very different balance obtains. KF

    PS: The false dichotomy, natural vs supernatural then falls to the ground. The relevant issue — as Plato put on the table — is chance and necessity vs art.

    PPS: As for definitionitis, start with defining life and natural and mind per precising definition, then we can go on to the implied contrasts. Plato talked in terms of accident and phusis, arguing that the latter runs into serious problems as used by his opponents even in his day. His core contrast is the intentional based on intelligent action by the self-moved — art — and that which comes by a causal chain from mechanical necessity and/or chance.

  20. 20
    Seversky says:

    bornagain77 @ 18

    Seversky, do you believe you have a mind and/or soul? If so, would you claim that your mind and/or soul is natural or supernatural? The common definition is that your mind and/or soul is a supernatural entity that is not reducible to material, i.e. ‘natural’, explanation. Indeed, as the plethora of Near Death Experiences testify, your mind and/or soul is a ‘supernatural’ entity that is capable of living beyond the death of your material, i.e. natural, body

    I believe I have a conscious mind which is what I’m using now. It’s difficult to say about the “soul” because it seems to be a rather fuzzy concept. Different people seem to have different ideas about what it is. I don’t think the mind is supernatural in any meaningful sense even though we don’t have a materialist/physicalist account of it yet

    Moreover, since the mind and/or soul is a real entity that produces real effects on the material body, and since science can investigate anything that is real, then this ‘supernatural’ entity of the mind and/or soul is very much open to scientific investigation. Indeed, this ‘supernatural’ mind and/or soul finds abundant support in empirical science, especially with the recent advent of quantum biology (among many other lines of evidence).

    To the extent that any phenomenon has an observable effect in the natural world it is a naturalistic phenomenon. It may be deeply mysterious to us at this time but that only makes it unexplained not inexplicable or supernatural.

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 19

    PS: The false dichotomy, natural vs supernatural then falls to the ground. The relevant issue — as Plato put on the table — is chance and necessity vs art.

    I have no problem with a natural vs artificial dichotomy but it doesn’t make things much easier. We know artifice or design exists in the Universe because we do it. The problem is showing that there is artifice or design for which we weren’t responsible. In other words, you need a reliable means of distinguishing between not just the natural and human artefacts but the natural and alien artefacts. You may develop a metric which can discriminate between the natural and human artifice but without alien artefacts to test it on you have no way of knowing if it is universally applicable.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    So Seversky, did ‘you’, using your conscious mind, write your post or did the laws of physics write your post and inform the illusion of you of the event after the fact? If you believe the laws of physics, coupled with ‘chance’, can create information, could you please provide an example of information creation that does not include an ‘illusory person’ creating that information?

    Human consciousness is much more than mere brain activity, – Mark Vernon – 18 June 2011
    However, “If you think the brain is a machine then you are committed to saying that composing a sublime poem is as involuntary an activity as having an epileptic fit. …the nature of consciousness being a tremendous mystery.”

    How Does The World Work: Top-Down or Bottom-Up? – September 29, 2013
    Excerpt: “The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.”

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:


    We practice science, in this case observational science on the past.

    First, as we know designers exist, e.g. us, beavers, etc, we can explore empirically testable reliable signs of design.

    These abound.

    We then use the vera causa principle of Newton, and examine traces of things we did not make and notice the same signs, e.g. codes, complex messages using codes, associated functionally specific machinery.

    the living cell is designed.

    We infer to design.

    Note, not to designer, much less a designer beyond the cosmos. That canard is part of a strawman argument.

    Next, we look at the cosmos itself and see another strong sign of design: fine tuning that sets the cosmos at a fine tuned operating point relevant to c chem aqueous medium terrestrial planet cell based life forms.

    A reasonable target.

    This too points to design.

    But this time, the design is clearly beyond our cosmos.

    The real question is, is the design of a simulation or an actual physical world.

    I plunk for real physical world, on many grounds.

    this is basics, the real issue is to reverse engineer and understand the use of info and configuration in the systems, then to apply in our own systems.

    Indutrial civ 2.0 based on self replicationg open source machinery here we come.

    Development transformation.

    Solar system colonisation.

    Next 100 years agenda.

    Nope not a science stopper, far from it!


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