Three easy pieces: creationists pwned

The battle against creationism is never-ending, but I declare three victories this week. The first is symbolic but important, the others not so consequential but fun.

1. Creationism banned in New Orleans. From The Raw Story (thanks to several readers who alerted me to this), we learn that “the New Orleans schools board has banned the teaching of creationism in that parish’s schools (a “parish” in Louisiana is the equivalent of a “county” in other U.S. states; it’s not a religious term). They also repudiated any books that, like those in Texas, have been altered to reflect a revisionist, right-wing history of the U.S. The pdf of the resolution is here, and here are the relevant statements:

No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the State of Texas
revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or
intelligent design as science or scientific theories.

No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a
science class. No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in
classes designated as science classes.

As the Raw Story reports,

None of the six schools run by the board actually teach creationism, according to The Times-Picayune, but outgoing Orleans Parish School Board President Thomas Robichaux felt strongly about the measure (PDF) anyway, which passed in two parts. . .

The school district is not alone in pushing back against growing religious and conservative influence on science and history curriculum. When education officials in Texas began altering textbooks to reflect right-wing and religious viewpoints, lawmakers in California acted quickly to pass a bill that bans the state’s revisionist standards in California schools.

Thus the victory is symbolic, but still important because the Louisiana governor and legislature are constantly pushing faith and creationism in the public schools, using both proposed legislation and voucher programs for religious schools (recently defeated). And New Orleans is the most important city (and parish) in Louisiana, and thus a bellwether.

2. The Discovery Institute caught with its pants down. According to Panda’s Thumb (The Disco ‘Tute’s fake laboratory“), and a post at ars technica, the Discovery Institute has embarrassed itself by posting a video supposedly taken in the Biologic Institute, the part of the D.I. that engages in scientific “research” (LOL!), but the background of the video is actually faked.

In the video below, “senior research scientist” Ann Gauger decries population genetics because similarity of DNA sequences between species like chimps and humans doesn’t necessarily show common descent (they have no explanation, of course, for why noncoding sequences match the posited evolutionary tree perfectly).

But have a look at their “lab.” It isn’t their lab; it’s a stock photo taken—perhaps illegally—from a website full of copyrighted pictures. It’s been “green screened”!

Here’s the link to the stock “lab at night” photo from Shutterstock (I won’t reproduce it because it’s copyrighted).

More creationist lying!

3. More kerfuffle about young-earth creationist Paul Nelson. Finally, in a post at his site EvolutionBlog, “Coyne vs. Nelson,” Jason Rosenhouse revisits my pwning of young-earth creationist Paul Nelson when I checked up on his claims about the denigration of natural seleciton by prominent biologists.

More important, Jason watched  a talk about evolution Nelson gave at Saddleback Church during “Apologetics Weekend”, and takes that talk apart. (I couldn’t bear to watch it.) A snippet of Jason’s critique:

Nelson argues that the commitment of science to methodological naturalism (MN) blinds scientists to what is put so plainly before them. It is a requirement of their profession that only naturalistic explanations are acceptable, you see. We are to believe, apparently, that this requirement is so blinding that they are unable to see things that are obvious to Nelson’s more clear-thinking audience.

This is the standard ID explanation for the popularity of evolution among scientists. It is, sadly, a ridiculous argument. As I explain in Chapter 20 of Among the Creationists, I have my problems with some of the rhetoric people on my side have used in defense of MN. But even if we accept Nelson’s characterization of it as a hard and fast rule, the fact remains that there is no requirement that scientists slavishly accept any old naturalistic explanation that comes along. It’s perfectly acceptable to say we don’t have a scientific explanation for the origin of species.

Moreover, being a scientist is not the entirety of anyone’s life. Scientists could agree that when practicing their profession they accept the constraints of certain conventions, and that invocations of supernatural intelligent designers are not part of their professional lives, while also believing that the evidence points strongly to an intelligent designer. But that is not what is happening. Scientists are not all mopey and dejected because their profession requires them to accept evolution when privately they think it’s a weak theory. Instead it is defended enthusiastically by virtually everyone in the relevant areas of science, while Nelson’s arguments are dismissed angrily not just as unscientific, but as totally worthless on the merits.

In Paul Nelson, who admits that the scientific evidence seems to point to an old earth but nevertheless rejects it, we have the pathetic stand of a man who holds fast to his fairy tales regardless of how strongly reality repudiates them. To be a young-earth creationist in this day and age is to be, frankly, an idiot.

UPDATE: Let me qualify that last statement. The “idiots” are not all young-earth creationists, for some have never been exposed to other viewpoints, or to the counterevidence for an old earth. Rather, the true idiots are those who know the evidence but refuse to accept it because they’re blinkered by faith. Nelson is one of those.

121 Comments

  1. Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    That’s an impressively forthright statement from the New Orleans schools board!

    /@

  2. Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    The DI may claim that the stock photo *was* taken at their labs – the lab is deserted, after all.

    • JohnC
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Nope. The video is one of a series, all filmed green screen and using different stock photos from the same source.

  3. Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    We can all haz lab!

  4. Diego
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Hurray for New Oreans!

    And I really wonder what the Discovery Institute folks could have been thinking. If they wanted to fake something couldn’t they have at least used a photo of a lab with the lights on? Or do they imagine many researchers give interviews by the soft, intimate, and romantic light of their fume hoods?

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      I was just hunting through the stock photo looking for something I recognise in the way of lab equipment, and I suspect that the Discotutes had thought of devious “truth for science” people (them being “liars for Jesus”, of course) looking for awkward questions such as “why is your lab using a 30-year-old Amstrad computer which was never sold outside the UK?” But in the dark, I can’t recognise any particular bits of equipment.
      I think they may have rumbled that their enemies are looking for their lies, and are running scared. So, although they’re as dishonest as ever, we do have to remember that they’re not complete idiots. Just regular fools – seeing how easily they got caught this time.
      As we keep on applying artificial selection to their spokes-animals and producers, they will evolve through the repeated culling of the weaker ones.
      Am I getting cynical in my old age?

      • Pete Moulton
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        Yes, but when it comes to the Disco-Tute, no matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough.

      • Posted December 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        Well how strapped for cash is the DI, that it’s still using beige 14″ CRT monitors?

  5. gbjames
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Actually, it says something that the DI was sophisticated enough not to use one of these pictures in the background:

    http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/labrador.htm

    • gbjames
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      and.. sub.

  6. Grania Spingies
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    All your lab are belong to us

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      For great justice.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        Oops, wrong actor! I meant:

        “You have no chance to survive
        make your time.”

  7. marksolock
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  8. JohnC
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I just suffered through the Nelson Saddleback video and what struck we is how well these people tailor their message for such audiences. This is of course their core strategy — their heavy hitters speak to hundreds of church groups every year.

    I don’t know of any way this can be countered except by heightened activism on the part of Biologos-type “accommodationists”, pushing the narrative that evolutionary biology and Christian belief are compatible, and why.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      ‘…except by heightened activism on the part of Biologos-type “accommodationists”‘

      I can’t tell if you are joking or not.

      • johncozijn
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        How else do you propose to neutralize evangelical opposition to evolutionary science?

        • truthspeaker
          Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

          By exposing creationists as dishonest.

          • johncozijn
            Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            Clearly, that doesn’t work on its own. What’s required is for evangelical evolutionists to reassure the flock that science and faith are not incompatible. Most people don’t come to these positions on the basis of a rational evaluation of evidence, and insisting that they do is itself unscientific.

            • Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

              What’s required is for evangelical evolutionists to reassure the flock that science and faith are not incompatible.

              But that would be a lie.

              There is no need to rub people’s faces in the fact that science has utterly demolished the faery tales of popular modern religions exactly the same way it has demolished the faery tales of dead ones — at least, not when the primary purpose is science education.

              But to claim that they are compatible. No. No more lies, even if they’re the types of Platonic lies “for the greater good” that Eusebius and Luther and other liars for Jesus advocate.

              Here is a superlative model for how to approach science education and advocacy:

              http://cms.gogrid.evolutionsociety.org/index.php?module=content&type=user&func=view&pid=24

              The NCSE, in contrast, fails miserably by devoting significant resources to Christian evangelization. Worse, they adopt a particular doctrinal stance that is contested by significant numbers of theologians. It’s a gross abomination and perversion of science education. And from our national science education institution, no less!

              b&

            • truthspeaker
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

              I don’t think countering dishonesty with more dishonesty will be effective, but they’re welcome to try. They haven’t had much luck so far.

            • Paul S
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

              I disagree. It’s no coincidence that religious groups are referred to as flocks, it is groupthink. Since they are not thinking on their own so there’s no point it trying to make them feel better about being lied to by telling them another lie. If you’re honest and proved evidence, you’ll get one out of a crowd to realize how ridiculous religion is and then you’ll get a few more. Eventually you’ll convince someone who the rest of the flock admires for some unrelated reason and they will follow his/her lead.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

                In the real world, the big victories such as Dover have been crucially dependent on building a united front with theistic evolutionists.

                Now while I find the position of someone like Ken Miller philosophically incoherent, I wouldn’t call it a “lie”.

                The question is what strategies work in the real world, and I don’t think that can be answered a priori.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

                “The question is what strategies work in the real world, and I don’t think that can be answered a priori.”

                Then stop telling us we’re doing it wrong and provide evidence that Biologos has succeeded.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

                I don’t think I can do that, but I’m broadly a supporter of the NCSE strategy of embracing religious allies wherever they can find them, since that does seem to work.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

                Embracing allies in specific efforts is fine. But this is quite different from not voicing differences when they exist. I’m happy to work with religious people on all manner of policy, from gay rights to gun control. I am not willing to pretend that I think their religious ideas have the least validity.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

                “I am not willing to pretend that I think their religious ideas have the least validity.”

                Me neither. I think Genie Scott does very well at both being an unapologetic atheist and working in coalitions with religious people. It can be done; it’s a political skill.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

                Dover was a victory within the legal system, and an important one. But it wasn’t about changing the minds of Christians, it was about what gets taught in science classes.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

                We can’t change the minds of Christians. But the chances are that given a scientific education they will change their own minds. Certainly the kind of verbal abuse that passes for arguments to some atheists isn’t going to make the task any easier.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

                One might also respond that the kind of artificial respect offered by accomodationists is easily recognized and dismissed by religious believers. There is no evidence that it works. Besides, it is dishonest. Which is enough to disqualify it as a strategy as far as I’m concerned.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

                “Certainly the kind of verbal abuse that passes for arguments to some atheists isn’t going to make the task any easier.”

                Certainly it is: visit Dawkin’s Convert’s Corner and see how it, as opposed to BioLogos and NCSE it seems, actually works for deconversion.

                As in all walks of life, no one strategy fits all, and legal battles have their use. However, it is always useful under wide circumstances to be clear and decisive.

                And this is a proven strategy by results, which needs more support and use, not less.

                It is btw likely counterproductive that accommodationists call this “verbal abuse”, and while I can’t ask them to STFU* under free speech I can at least point to their blundering meddling.

                * Which for some reason doesn’t faze accommodationists to ask the same thing (“kind of verbal abuse” – non-substantiated), bigotry based as they are.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          By being honest. Creationism is a pack of lies. You expose it as directly as you can. You don’t wrap up the critique in BioLogos-style fictions and religious nonsense and then pretend you are making progress.

          • johncozijn
            Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

            Of course creationism is false, but evangelicals aren’t going to believe that coming from godless atheists (like us). They are far more likely to believe Francis Collins. This is a political question, and the solution is a united front, unless you are prepared to simply write of that entire segment of the population.

            • gbjames
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              Biologos has been a spectacular failure. You can’t wrap up science in a lot of religious woo and expect to somehow succeed. It just doesn’t work. That alternative doesn’t really exist.

              You confront lies with honesty. There is no other option.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

                I’m in Australia, and it doesn’t seem to me that in the developed world (outside the US) it has been necessary to insist on the incompatibility of science and religious faith in order to secure overwhelming public acceptance of evolution.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

                John, we’re not claiming that the only way to secure public acceptance of the basic facts of biology is to associate it with atheism.

                All we’re doing is observing that it is a lie to claim that science and religion are compatible, and that we will not lie.

                Not even if lying will cause more people to join our team and chant our chants.

                That’s not what this is about. This is about truth, not popularity.

                Besides, accommodationists haven’t exactly been forthcoming with the evidence that lying to people is an effective means of convincing them of the truth.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

                “… it is a lie to claim that science and religion are compatible”

                I don’t agree. Science has killed off the design argument, yes. But clearly there are plenty of formulations of religious doctrine that manage a detente with science.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

                “But clearly there are plenty of formulations of religious doctrine that manage a detente with science.”

                Funny how you avoid to mention at least one “clear” example.

                It isn’t at all clear to me. Science is in the business to replace beliefs with facts, and religion is in the business to replace facts with belief. (Cf Nelson or Miller.) This is a fundamental incompatibility.

                Moreover, there is absolutely no remaining gap to stuff theist gods in. In the decade old standard cosmology the inflation process creates the universe with a big bang first particle filled spacetime. It is a natural process beyond reasonable doubt.

                And next year deism may start to go the same way, if the Planck probe returns with an observation of eternal inflation, which is the most likely outcome. Then its the local universe, with the local laws, that is created.

                And the overall universe exists because it can in the same way we do. I expect it will take a few decades to run down the alternative hypotheses, but they don’t look good at the moment.

                So what will religion eventually do then? It can’t continue ask for special pleading, that here would try to open non-existent gaps and claim possibilities. That would be unreasonable doubt. Why there, when we don’t do it anywhere else, and especially since we know gods are myths and not well considered mechanisms in the first place?

                And how weak isn’t the supposed all powerful gods if they need that to inflate belief to something visible? These pitiful things aren’t even powerful enough to *exist*, for FSM sake!

            • H.H.
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

              johncozijn, you’re thinking about it backward. It’s not just that some fundamentalist religions are resistant to science. It’s that science doesn’t recognize faith as a valid method of inquiring knowledge. Science and religion are fundamentally different ways of approaching reality that cannot be reconciled. It doesn’t matter if some people claim their faith is compatible with science, because science isn’t compatible with faith.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

                There are of course scientists of faith who would disagree with that. There are also scientists without faith who would disagree. I actually don’t think such bald generalisations are particularly useful.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

                It isn’t a bald generalization, it is a very specific statement of fact. Finding people who deny this does not invalidate the fact. Science is incompatible with faith because it demands evidence while faith makes claims about reality in the specific absence of evidence. In order to assert compatibility one must deny this fundamental distinction.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

                That could probably be justified as an epistemological claim (with some more precise definition of terms and better formulation), but I don’t think that’s what’s important here. International comparison with countries that are both substantially more secular than the US and have far fewer problems with religious attacks on science indicates (to me, at least) that the more you can bring religious people into the science tent, the fewer problems you have.

              • Notagod
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

                The foundation of good science is built on the premise that honesty is an essential principle that cannot be compromised while maintaining integrity.

                Almost all of the culture in the United States is built on compromised honesty without integrity. I think it is essential for the well being of those few children that value honesty to have at least one safe place, the integrity of the science classroom, to confirm that they are not alone.

                To devalue that integrity with christian mishmash is a travesty that should not be allowed to stand.

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that anything other than science be taught in a science classroom.

                I do also agree with Dan Dennett that having a school comparative religion module might be profitable in breaking down religious insularity.

              • H.H.
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

                johncozijn, but my goal really isn’t to get more religious people to accept evolution, though. That’s merely one battle in a much larger war. My goal is actually to get religious people to start thinking more critically about the things they accept on faith. My aim is to reduce religiosity, not pander to it. I have no interest in de-emphasizing the conflict between science and faith. I want people to be aware of it. The new atheist position looks counter-productive to you only because you failed to take the time to understand our true objective.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

                Re: Comparative religion… I agree. As long as the teachers are qualified to address the matter without any advocacy. IOW if you can’t tell whether the teacher is an atheist or a believer, and if the class spent no more time on Xtianity than it did on Islam, Aztec religion and Aboriginal Australian beliefs, then I’d be OK with it.

              • Notagod
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

                Bullshit! Your whole argument has been that science should compromise itself to accommodate christianity.

                But clearly there are plenty of formulations of religious doctrine that manage a detente with science.

                There is nothing scientific that justifies any of the christian formulations. None. There is much scientific knowledge that points to the core concepts of christianity as failed hypothesis.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that anything other than science be taught in a science classroom.

                But the NCSE is, and so are you, when you insist that we affirm that certain theological positions from certain factions within certain religions are compatible with science — especially considering that they’re not.

                The proper position to take with respect to religion in the science class is the same one that the Evolution Society does: don’t even mention it. It’s completely irrelevant, except perhaps in passing on the first day when you give an overview of the history of the field and mention all the theories that have been discarded over the years (astrology, alchemy, disease from demon possession, etc.).

                If a student brings it up, the proper response is that this is a science class, and religion has no place in a science class. If the student wants to know more about religion, that’s what parents and pastors are for — not science teachers in science class.

                That’s it. Period, full stop, end of discussion. Anything else and it’s off to the principal.

                There should be nothing saying that a religion is or isn’t compatible with science, nothing about which religions are and aren’t compatible, nothing about which religions say what, nothing about which religious figures from which religions say what, nothing.

                Oh — and the reason science and religion are fundamentally incompatible has already been explained to you. It has nothing to do with which set of facts one holds to be true. It’s instead all about the process.

                Science is the apportioning of belief in proportion with a rational analysis of empirical observations.

                Religion is all about faith, which doesn’t give a flying fuck about a rational analysis of empirical observations; belief is instead apportioned variously to pretentious literary analysis of ancient faery tales and / or the state of one’s digestive system.

                So what if a person is “informed” by faith that life has evolved over the course of thousands of millennia, or that somebody else can reinterpret a particular bedtime story so that it’s not contradicted by a very small subset of the empirical evidence? That’s religion, not science; science is the rational analysis of the totality of the evidence to date, all of which is consistent with a last common ancestor a few billion years ago and none of which is consistent with anything else proposed to date.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

                “International comparison with countries that are both substantially more secular than the US and have far fewer problems with religious attacks on science indicates (to me, at least) that the more you can bring religious people into the science tent, the fewer problems you have.”

                No. There is only one large scale predictive theory on religion what I know of, and it is Paul’s and Gregory’s. It makes the observation that religion is codependent with dysfunctional societies: poverty, wars, lack of secular morals like human rights and freedoms, lack of democracy et cetera.

                We already know what the problem with US is, it is more dysfunctional than other western societies. (Mainly a lack of social medicine and safety nets, see Rosling’s statistics on functional societies. Oh, and lack of gun control doesn’t help.)

                In fact, our host has written a paper on that. So it is especially egregious to go around and instead claim that the degree of religiosity (as reflected in fundamentalist attacks on science) depends on lack of accommodationism.

                And moreover, it is likely that instead accommodationism is part of the problem. It is a method designed to result in a heightened dysfunctionality, a dishonest approach (resulting in social mistrust) combined with putting pressure on atheist free speech.

                You know what works? Decreasing poverty! The world non-religious (self-declared, not affiliated) has now grown to 36 %, the individually largest group, with a dramatic 13 % drop of religiosity due to a dramatic drop in relative poverty.* Testing P&G theory yet again, but also showing how to tackle the problem.

                * 2012 vs 2005 International Humanist and Ethical Union bought gallup polls of 58 nations @ 3-5 % error range.

          • johncozijn
            Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            HH

            You’re putting words in my mouth. I don’t regard the “new atheist position” as counter-productive overall. I have some tactical disagreements about how to deal with specific issues in particular contexts, but I’m fully in favour of letting the science-denial lobby (Disco tute, etc) having it with both barrels.

          • johncozijn
            Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            “Your whole argument has been that science should compromise itself to accommodate christianity.”

            Nonsense. I’ve never suggested any compromise in the practice or teaching of science.

            • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

              Again, every time that you insist that religion is compatible with science and that we shouldn’t tell people otherwise, you are most emphatically demanding that we compromise the teaching of science.

              Religion, especially statements affirming certain theological positions (such as the compatibility of that religion with certain scientific observations), has no business in the science classroom. Period, full stop.

              b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

                I’m more than a little perplexed where the science classroom came into the discussion. I don’t believe that anything but science should be taught in a science class. If the issue of (in)compatibility between religion and science (or any other aspect of modernity) is to be discussed in should be in the appropriate social studies, philosophy or civics etc class.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

                Well, you’re the one here singing the praises of the NCSE and Genie Scott and the significance of the Dover trial.

                What do you think the claimed purpose of the National Center for Science Education is all about, anyway? Or what was argued in the Dover trial?

                b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

                “Well, you’re the one here singing the praises of the NCSE and Genie Scott and the significance of the Dover trial.”

                Yep.

                But I don’t understand what you are trying to say in the rest of your post.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

                This is the problem we have with the NCSE:

                http://ncse.com/religion/start

                It’s the same problem we have with the AAAS in the post after this one.

                For a science advocacy organization, especially a science education advocacy organization, to promote religion like that is absolutely abhorrent.

                And the position you’ve been taking in this thread is the same as the NCSE’s.

                b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                I’m not suggesting compromising science in any way. As has been the way for the past 500 years religion will need to adapt, that’s their problem.

                To be clear, I’m not advocating a free pass for the Biologos folk, either. By way of example, they recently issued a statement on the Adam and Eve issue, which *did* misrepresent the science that had sparked the angst among evangelicals. I immediately emailed by displeasure, and I wasn’t the only one.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

                Well, what are you advocating then, johncozijn. Are you just tone-trolling?

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think quoting the conclusion in its entirety is “cherry-picking”. And I don’t see the same difficulties in the rest of text as you do, since all it’s really doing is drawing the distinction between empirical reality (only discoverable through science) and philosophical interpretations of that reality.

                On the minor point of the use of evolution, it is an unfortunate fact that astrophysicists have long used the term evolution, though with a different meaning to use of the same word for biological history. I recall Gould wrote an essay on this very topic.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

                “I don’t believe that anything but science should be taught in a science class. If the issue of (in)compatibility between religion and science (or any other aspect of modernity) is to be discussed in should be in the appropriate social studies, philosophy or civics etc class.”

                That isn’t how the good teachers or text books start out, so it won’t work. The good ones do go through earlier ideas, including creationist, in biology and cosmology say. And they then have to explain why such won’t work.

                Also, it is observational facts that only science (writ large, natch) gives empirical knowledge, there are no longer gaps for alternate ideas such as creations, et cetera. These observations should preferably be described during science class, and has no cause to be mentioned within comparative religion classes et cetera.

                Instead in those classes you should analyze social and religious problems that follows from if (or, as I suspect, now will be the honest choice to make: as) gods observably do not exist, say.

            • Notagod
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

              Your own words johncozijn, and many more of your own words with similar construction:

              What’s required is for evangelical evolutionists to reassure the flock that science and faith are not incompatible.

              There are no core christian beliefs that are compatible with scientific knowledge. The only way to have compatibility between science and christianity is to either strip science or strip christianity.

            • johncozijn
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

              (Notagod, my reply above your post. Sorry.)

              Ben and gbjames,

              I support the NCSE’s religious outreach program. That’s part of its job.

              However, I think such activity is inappropriate for the AAAS, which is a scientific not a political organisation.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

                I support the NCSE’s religious outreach program. That’s part of its job.

                That’s the problem. It isn’t.

                See here:

                http://ncse.com/religion/how-do-i-read-bible-let-me-count-ways

                That’s frickin’ Bible study guidelines on a science education Web site. Bible study! In science!

                By a director of the organization!

                What the fuck does Bible study have to do with science education?

                The NCSE has the worng word for that second letter. It should be more accurately called, the National Christian Science Education something-or-other, because that’s exactly what it is, unabashedly, through and through, soup to nuts, Alpha to Omega.

                Need more?

                http://ncse.com/religion/god-evolution

                Makes me sick, I tell you.

                b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

                Well that’s where we differ. The NCSE is neither a science nor a government body. It is political lobby and action group whose remit includes building bridges with religious folk precisely to ensure that religion stays out of the science classroom.

                Having worked in such coalition-building organisations myself in past (including for gay rights), I can tell you that you try to make allies wherever you can.

                Some people are not suited to such work, usually because they see the messy business of politics in too binary a way, where everything becomes a matter of principle (rather like some House Republicans). That’s okay, but it would probably be better if they didn’t characterize those who are engaged in the front lines as traitors and sell-outs.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

                “traitors and sell-outs”

                Those are your words, not ours. Or at least, not mine. My choice of words entirely revolve around the honesty (or lack thereof) that is manifest in the platform of the program. You are apparently comfortable with some level of dishonesty when it is done “for the cause”. I think that is the wrong way to do things.

                In any case, if you chose to make allies with evangelical Xtians by telling them lies you can pretty much give up on getting support from those of us who value honesty. So much for your grand coalition.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

                John, it’s a matter of truth in advertising.

                What the NCSE is doing isn’t science advocacy. It’s Christian evangelization. This is particularly disturbing in an institution advocating for science education.

                They don’t have to piss off Christians to do their job. All they have to do is not preach the Gospel. That’s not so hard, is it? To keep your mouth shut when you shouldn’t be talking?

                Here, I’ll even help them. If they take away everything on their site pertaining to religion and replace it with this, we can all be happy.

                The Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection is a scientific theory. The theory has no religious components to it. As such, the theory’s relevance to various religions should not be a subject for discussion in the school.

                The theory does, of course, address topics that have been and continue to be of interest to various religions. Some religious positions embrace the theory; some endorse modifications to the theory; some reject it outright; and some don’t pay it much attention one way or the other. If you wish to know more about a particular religious perspective on the theory, consult a respected representative of that religion.

                If they’re feeling particularly helpful, they could even provide a dozen or so links to the official Web sites for the most populous religions — including links to YECs (if they’re populous enough to make the cut).

                But Bible study?

                b&

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

                Forgot to add: as gbjames pointed out, your approach means that you’ve pissed off all those who value honesty. With my approach, you might lose evangelical Christians who are more interested in pushing belief in Jesus than acceptance of the scientific method, but you certainly won’t scare away any Christians who don’t see any need to insert Jesus into the classroom.

                b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

                I’m a little bemused by your characterisation of the NCSE material. For instance, the conclusion of their “God and Evolution” piece says:
                “The science of evolution does not make claims about God’s existence or non-existence, any more than do other scientific theories such as gravitation, atomic structure, or plate tectonics. Just like gravity, the theory of evolution is compatible with theism, atheism, and agnosticism. Can someone accept evolution as the most compelling explanation for biological diversity, and also accept the idea that God works through evolution? Many religious people do.”

                You may disagree with the views expressed, but I don’t see how they can be described as Christian evangelizing. And I reckon the majority of American scientists would have no problem endorsing these views.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                Read the whole essay, John.

                For example, it insists that scientists must not even attempt to discover the origins of the universe, because “creation” is a “philosophical concept” and, as such, is beyond scientific inquiry. That’s standard Christian apologetics, and hostilely anti-scientific. He further implicitly rejects the recent cosmological work of scientists like Hawking and Krauss.

                Next, he makes the odious error of incorporating cosmology into Darwin, something the YECs just love to do.

                And then he actually has the balls to claim that science must remain mute on the “theological” assertions that Young-Earth Creationists make.

                I’m sorry, but the whole thing is noxious bullshit. So what if you can cherry-pick a couple sentences out of context that seem reasonable? You can do that with anything, even Mein Kampf or the Bible.

                b&

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

                (repost: I keep putting things in the wrong place)

                I don’t think quoting the conclusion in its entirety is “cherry-picking”. And I don’t see the same difficulties in the rest of the text as you do, since all it’s really doing is drawing the distinction between empirical reality (only discoverable through science) and philosophical interpretations of that reality.

                On the minor point of the use of evolution, it is an unfortunate fact that astrophysicists have long used the term evolution, though with a different meaning to the use of the same word for biological history. I recall Gould wrote an essay on this very topic.

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

                If you don’t see the problem with a director of the National Center for Science Education going on record in an official policy piece that — in polite words, of course — the most prominent physicists of our day are full of shit with respect to their current work whilst he simultaneously proclaims the theological validity of Young Earth Creationism, then I ain’t got nothin’ for ya.

                b&

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

                “And I reckon the majority of American scientists would have no problem endorsing these views.”

                That statement is a couple of theological claims: ““The science of evolution does not make claims about God’s existence or non-existence, any more than do other scientific theories such as gravitation, atomic structure, or plate tectonics. Just like gravity, the theory of evolution is compatible with theism, atheism, and agnosticism.” Followed by a non sequitur: “Can someone accept evolution as the most compelling explanation for biological diversity, and also accept the idea that God works through evolution? Many religious people do.””

                No scientist should *ever* endorse a theological claim.

                The reason why education and science works to make religious agnostics and agnostics atheist according to statistics is precisely because sciences like evolution makes “claims about God’s existence or non-existence” by observation. For example, the christian gods, that bases “original sin” in the declared existence of a fictional first human pair – they observably don’t exist.

                And so on, reductio ad absurdum besides the nowadays mostly non-existent gaps for gods. It is dishonest to try a generic (and why monotheist/monodeist ?) “god” here.

                Moreover, it is a theological claim, and as we can see above rejected by observation, of “compatibility”. Few if any atheists or skeptics would agree, and remember that most scientists are atheists if not skeptics.

                And the non sequitur? Forgeddaboudid.

                That is an accommodationist dumbosity, trying a bait-and-switch on the public. While you can get scientists to endorse such, I doubt it will be a majority. Scientists are, by and large, honest and smart.

            • johncozijn
              Posted December 21, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

              “No scientist should *ever* endorse a theological claim.”

              Scientists qua scientists do their research, publish their results and engage in scholarly debate in their disciplines.

              As private citizens engaged in the broader civil society many scientists also engage in debate about the social, political, policy and philosophical implications of their and others research.

              These are two separate roles — scientist and citizen — and keeping them separate is important for the integrity of science. That’s the NCSE’s position, which I support.

              • Posted December 21, 2012 at 1:42 am | Permalink

                Are you suggesting that scientists should hang up their rejection of supernatural explanations, their rationality, and their respect for empiricism with their (sometimes metaphorical) lab coats?

                Haldane would certainly object to that!

                /@

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 21, 2012 at 2:02 am | Permalink

                Your question does not relate to my statement. But since you raise it, methodological naturalism in producing scientific results does not imply ontological naturalism in interpreting those results outside the immediate context of their production.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 21, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

                “These are two separate roles”

                Which is a way of admitting that in order to hold both of theses incompatible views in your head requires a form of mental partitioning. A self-enforced schizophrenia.

                And IF these are two separate roles, then why should ANY science-oriented organization make ANY statement saying religion and science are compatible?

              • johncozijn
                Posted December 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

                “And IF these are two separate roles, then why should ANY science-oriented organization make ANY statement saying religion and science are compatible?”

                Because they reject the assertion by biblical literalists and other fundamentalists that accepting the findings of science is incompatible with a belief in god.

  9. Posted December 20, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    as always, it warms the cockles of my heart to see TrueChristians(tm) lying intentionally.

    • Matt G
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      “What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church … a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them” -Martin Luther

      • Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        That concept was ancient when Luther echoed it. Eusebius stole it from Plato.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • lamacher
          Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          Yeah. Eusebius, the joyful liar. His biography of Constantine is varnished garbage. Good expositor, but factual? Not so much.

          • John Scanlon, FCD
            Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

            “varnished garbage” seems to be an original variant of a “polished turd”.

          • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            I’ll see you his biography of Constantine and raise you his “discovery” of the Testamonium Flavanium.

            b&

            • js
              Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

              How do you people know all this stuff. :-)

              • Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

                Easy. I spent time hanging around people who know all this stuff, and more….

                b&

              • lamacher
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

                Me too.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

                We are all fond of noodly intestines and flying zombies. Or something like that.

  10. Jim Mauch
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Here is an illustration of why lay people should not accept the diatribes of every person who has an advanced degree purely on faith. While Jerry Coyne backs up his claims with real evidence there are others who are not so considerate. There are at least some people out there who don’t take us for simple-minded fools.

  11. RFW
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    “To be a young-earth creationist in this day and age is to be, frankly, an idiot.”

    A commonly held opinion on the Joe.My.God. blog is that the professional anti-gay haters are largely in it out of greed and love of filthy lucre. (The technical word for them is “grifters”.) I suggest that greed is as strong a factor in the present case as idiocy.

  12. Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Unless I’m mistraken, Lamarckism is entirely naturalistic and it’s been soundly rejected by biologists as well. And I know that the luminiferous aether is a naturalistic theory.

    Demon possession as a causative agent in various illnesses is a supernatural explanation, but it’s been rejected alongside the naturalistic explanation of the humors.

    b&

    • Matt G
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      It could be argued that epigenetics is Lamarkian.

      • Matt G
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Lamarckian, that is.

      • Brygida Berse
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        It could be argued that epigenetics is Lamarkian.

        Not really. To be called Lamarckian, it would have to involve inheritance of an adaptive change.

    • thh1859
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      A historical curiosity: Darwin did not dismiss Lamarckianism as a possible evolutionary mechanism alongside NS.

      • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t know that. Did he positively state compatibility with Lamarckism, or did he merely not address the matter? And any chance you’ve got some references handy for my further edification?

        b&

        • thh1859
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          Sorry for my late reply — only just seen your query.
          I have the Plume (Penguin) Concise DoM edited by A.Desmond and J.Moore.
          P.63 starts a section titled: Effects on the Continued Use and Disuse of Parts.
          Darwin gives examples of different parts of the body becoming modified, e.g. strengthened, weakened, enlarged, etc., through use or disuse then says (2nd para. of section): “Whether [these] modifications would become hereditary [after] many generations is not known but probable.”

          P. 104 Chapter on Hominid evolution, Summary section: “As all animals tend to multiply beyond their means of subsistence, so it must have been with the progenitors of man: and this would inevitably lead to a struggle for existence and to natural selection. The latter process would be greatly aided by the inherited effect of the increased use of parts, and these two processes would incessantly react on each other.” There are probably other examples but I didn’t make notes.

          I imagine that Darwin saw no conflict between a theory of evolution through inheritance of individuals’ use or disuse of parts and natural selection. Later knowledge of the genetics of reproduction showed that Lamarckism could not be a mechanism of evolution. A pity! Lamarckism would have enormously speeded up evolution. Leading on from that thought, it seems to me, other things being equal, that the organism most likely to survive under selection pressure would be the one whose parents had a mutation enabling them to pass on their acquired beneficial characteristics. I’m surprised a mutation with that property hasn’t arisen.

          • Posted December 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            Fascinating. Thanks!

            I think you might be attributing more credit to DNA than it deserves in suggesting that a mutation would enable Lamarckian evolution to thence proceed. However, one might suggest that a combination of mutations has, indeed, enabled at least the theoretical potential for such…if you consider what Craig Venter is up to these days….

            b&

  13. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I have a vision of re-editing the Ann Gauger against a Springfield background, with Homer Simpson voice over explaining the difficult bits…

    …of course that would infringe other people’s copyrights.

  14. Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    It seems to be the case that many believers, looking at the world can see absolutely no other explanation than design… Then, since they are so certain of their beliefs, they see the deceptions they engage in as excusable fudging on the grounds that they lead to the right answers: the ones they already know to be true, such as the young age of the earth. Some cases we might consider to be deception are probably just extreme bias that lead to self deception (the best way of deceiving others is to deceive yourself first).

    Self deception would certainly be consistent with documented cases of pathological science such as Cold Fusion (Pons & Fleischmann), homeopathic water memory (Benveniste) etc., where the experimenters almost certainly started out fully believing their results and found it impossible to retreat later, maybe even continuing to fool themselves just by emotional rejection of hostile criticism.

    So, possibly many creationist “scientists” and other apologists remain in denial indefinitely and we are not necessarily correct in questioning their integrity.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Being dishonest with oneself is a failure of integrity.

      • Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Integrity doesn’t imply that your views are correct! We may think that religious people are being duplicitous, when in fact they have such a totally different world view that all their beliefs are consistent to them and not feigned.

        • Notagod
          Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          And when they serve you up a plate of two thousand year old festering human flesh, are you obliged to eat it?

          Relying on their magical beliefs as a foundational part of society isn’t helpful to them or you.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

          That world view is the self-deception I was referring to.

        • Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          The problem is that faith is, by its very nature, inescapably, fundamentally, duplicitous in the extreme.

          And religion is nothing without faith.

          It is the ultimate confidence scam.

          Trust me! There’s no need to have a mechanic check out this car; she’s a real cherry!

          Don’t worry, this stock is primed to go through the roof! Don’t worry about the fundamentals; my brother’s cousin’s nephew’s boss is on the board, and I’ve got some inside information you wouldn’t believe.

          Have a little faith! Place your left hand on the TV as you write out a check with your right hand, and your wounds will be healed and your soul will be washed clean in the blood of the lamb.

          Honesty means apportioning belief in proportion with empirical observation.

          Faith is an explicit apportioning of belief either disproportionally with observations or in spite of observations to the contrary — and frequently both.

          Faith is a lie, and those who profess faith are lying liars.

          Even if their lies are dressed up all purty-like with bows and ribbons, even if they think they’re doing good by lying, even if they’re lying to themselves about the fact that they’re lying to themselves.

          Cheers,

          b&

    • MNb
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      @Roq Marish
      “remain in denial indefinitely”
      That’s not what I have against them. What I have against them is that they use about the whole list of logical fallacies from Wikipedia to “prove” their points ánd persist when confronted. Every single creationist (mainly Dutch ones) I have met on internet last four, five years is guilty of this.
      Criticize evolution theory as much as you like, no problem. Typically every single creationist site (and I’ve checked a lot in both English and in Dutch) relies on misrepresenting it. If I can see it – my education consists of nothing more than reading WEIT, Prothero’s book and TalkOrigins, which all in all took two handful of evenings – anybody can.
      Hell, even philosophers of religion are guilty of this. I have read a thesis in which evolution was called a random process. When I confronted the author with the relevant quote from TalkOrigins his defense basically was that needed it for his argument. Another philosopher of religion – also a mathematician – defended theistic evolution by using the fine-tuning argument.
      It’s unbelievable how dishonest these people are (Nelson, whom I never had heard of before, showed this once again). Though I’m not convinced at beforehand that science and religion are incompatible such people – well educated ones! – make it hard for me to think otherwise.

      • Posted December 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Recently, I had a couple of debates with theists. One of them had posted an annoying anti-evolution video on youtube and as expected was almost certainly dishonest, but the other one was intelligent, articulate and I became convinced that he genuinely believed theistic arguments to be rational, which I find puzzling – that’s the kind of person I was speculating about.

        Presumably your mathematician’s “fine tuning” with respect to evolution was something like irreducible complexity or was he muddling it up with the supposed fine tuning of the physical constants of the universe (such as the cosmological constant)? Some creationists can’t seem to tell the difference between, TOE, Abiogenesis and the big bang :).

      • Christian
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Though I’m not convinced at beforehand that science and religion are incompatible such people – well educated ones! – make it hard for me to think otherwise.

        Well, I guess that depends on what you mean by “incompatible.”
        Sometimes I really get the impression that accommodationists really try to misunderstand incompatibilists like Jerry on purpose. I can’t tell how often I’ve seen their “but butt buttt… Collins, Miller, Davis, Polkinghorne” objection.

    • Posted December 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Have any of you been theists earlier in your lives? And if so did you then then see the world as designed as strongly as you now see it from an atheist perspective, or was there a difference? And what was it that changed your mind?

      • johncozijn
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Never a theist, not even as a child.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        I was taught about Jesus and praying when I was a kid. Then I grew up. It wasn’t hard to figure out once I hit adolescence.

      • lamacher
        Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Yep. Raised in a fundamentalist preacher’s house, was a lay preacher myself at age 15, albeit with serious doubts, and it took me decades to rid my mind of the detritus of religion – must say, though, that I had no doubts of the validity of evolution or real geology and cosmology from the first days of exposure to real science. The illusion of Design, very strong in my youth, vanished quickly in the solvent of reality.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted December 21, 2012 at 12:01 am | Permalink

        I had a theist mother and an atheist father.

        So I went back and forth a couple of times, until I gathered that I was much more on sound footing observation wise as atheist. (And I did like my science.) Besides no evidence for religion, plenty of evidence against specific religions.

        Also, the agnostic accommodationist disguised theology was driving me mad – “equal likely”, “can’t tell” et cetera. How did they know that? Simple, they didn’t, it is make belief.

        Something similar on the choice of religion. Now, it is popular where I am to claim that “all religions mirror gods and they are allegorical anyway”. But again, a make belief disguise on top of what many religious believe, that their religion is “true”.

        But it is more like a continuing process.

        We didn’t know that universes must arise spontaneously and indeed is a result of a nice process 10 years ago. We didn’t know there´are abiogenesis pathways that can’t stall a year ago. We didn’t know the laws underlying everyday physics entirely (missing the standard Higgs capstone) a year ago. Now we know all that.

        Next year we will likely observe that deist gods don’t exist either, or at least will suddenly become empirically unlikely. Science advances, and religion retreats. The usual.

        Except I still get mad & sad when people are dishonest, and for such a poor reason.

        Ironically, all I need to change my mind is an observation, say all stars aligned to declare in all languages that “gods™ made this universe”. Instead I get written all over the CMB: “this universe is *entirely* natural©”. Go figure.

  15. Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    So, possibly many creationist “scientists” and other apologists remain in denial indefinitely and we are not necessarily correct in questioning their integrity.

    That would be true were they living in a vacuum, but the human tendency towards what you describe is well known by scientists, and actively guarding against it is the whole point of the modern scientific method (especially including peer review).

    That the cretinists are unable to pass the peer review hurdle — and especially that the most “respectable” of them then go on to create their own parodies of the peer review process — clearly demonstrates their mendacity, not their gullibility.

    Cheers,

    b&

  16. Paul S
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Oops, my disagreement wsa with johncozijn. ^^

  17. gr8hands
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    If you look at this link, you can see their Form 990, which has interesting listings of equipment for their “lab” . . .

    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/discovery-institute-tax-returns-2008-2009/

    • Notagod
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Which year? or both 2008 and 2009? As I dislike wading through IRS forms, I’m attempting to minimize my exposure as much as possible before I begin.

  18. Matthew
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    In regards to point 2, I work in the entertainment industry and can tell you that the use of green screen in interviews is pretty much the norm. That doesn’t excuse scientific nonsense, but I don’t find anything particularly scandalous about the use of green screen, provided they don’t actually claim they’re on location.

    • Tulse
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      The difference is that the DI allegedly isn’t in the entertainment business, but in the science business. What they have done is deceptive, in that it implies that they have research resources that they don’t.

      It’s like a used car salesman greenscreening in Ferraris for an ad, rather than showing the rusty Civics in their actual lot.

    • Notagod
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Hopefully there is a difference between Hollywood and real life. I assume that they’re intention was to be perceived as making a documentary statement not an installment of Looney Tunes.

      But, the questions remain regardless; why do they want people to be left with the impression that they are in a lab? What part of that isn’t deceptive? What part of that should a decent society find attractive?

  19. Posted December 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Characterizing young-earth creationists as idiots empirically seems an oversimplification. The position of Biblical Inerrancy is correlated to slightly lower WORDSUM (a proxy for g-intelligence) than for a position of Inspired or Fable. However, within the subsample subscribing to Inerrancy, higher WORDSUM intelligence has a moderate correlation to greater rejection of evolution.

    Contrariwise, there’s some recent criticism about g; subscription required technical piece at (doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.06.022). It may well be that the correlation is simply of those who have high “verbal” ability but low (logical) “reasoning” ability. However, I’d still conjecture the relation is in part because the higher intelligence facilitates a better ability to construct and maintain complex cognitive rationalizations to overcome cognitive dissonance between evidence and pre-existing beliefs.

  20. Marta
    Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    “DiscoTute” is my most favorite neologism, ever.


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