Here is the proposed Wisconsin bill defining science: Wisconsin_Bill. Ask yourself what the effect would be if the adjective “natural” were removed from the bill.
Approximately 15 UW-Madison faculty attended the press conference at which this bill was announced, including the following:
Professor Michael M. Cox, assistant Chair of the Department of Biochemistry at UW-Madison
Rick Amasino, Professor of Biochemistry, UW-Madison
Alan Attie, Professor and assistant chair of Biochemistry, UW-Madison
Marv Wickens, Professor of Biochemistry, UW-Madison
Elliott Sober, Professor of Philosphy, UW-Madison
Ronald Numbers, Professor, History of Science, UW-Madison
Julie Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Mathematics, UW-Madison
Dr. David Baum, Professor of Botany, UW-Madison
For the actual press release, go here.
Note that Ron Numbers and Elliott Sober have been prominent ID critics. Ron was on the review committee that deep-sixed Baylor’s Polanyi Center (go here). And while Ron did endorse my book THE DESIGN REVOLUTION (go here), more recently he has taken to comparing ID with Nazi and Stalinist manipulation of science, as in his endorsement for Chris Mooney’s THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE:
“Politics and science have never occupied entirely separate spheres, but American politicians have rarely tried to manipulate science in the heavy-handed manner of, say, Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE provides a riveting and deeply disturbing account of how the GOP, despite its professed love of ‘sound science,’ has repeatedly supported suspect science in an effort to advance its partisan agenda.”
-Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists, co-editor of The Cambridge History of Science
At Seattle Pacific University a couple of years ago, speaking to a faculty group, Numbers also compared ID proponents to Holocaust deniers.
I’ve learned that Ron Numbers played a crucial role in drafting the proposed bill. What is one to make of this? In yesterday’s press release, one reads that scientists are increasingly “outraged over the growing tide of political interference into scientific research.” Yet ironically, the response of Numbers and his colleagues at UW-Madison is to engage in their own political interference. Indeed, it is unprecedented for scholars like Sober and Numbers to leave off the academic discussion of ID and descend to political interference of the sort that they have been decrying on the other side.
I take this as a clear sign that we are winning. ID proponents can afford to take political action to promote ID. Its critics, on the other hand, look foolish when they have to take political action to quash ID. That’s because of a fundamental inequity in public school science education: Materialistic evolution already holds a de facto monopoly over public school science education. ID proponents resort to political measures only to break up that monopoly (think of ID’s political component as trust-busting). Thus, for materialistic evolution to require legislation to preserve its monopoly will in the end be seen as heavy-handed and self-serving. Accordingly, for academics with stellar reputations like Sober and Numbers to be actively supporting such political interference signifies that they are losing not only the war of ideas but also their position of cultural dominance.
Dover certainly wasn’t ID’s Waterloo. Wisconsin may well be evolution’s Waterloo.