Rosenhouse: It’s okay to criticize Intelligent Design in science class, but not okay to teach it as science

Jason Rosenhouse’s new article at EvolutionBlog, about the Hedin affair, “Dubious legal analysis from the Discovery Institute” (DI), is really going to tick off the DIers and advocates of intelligent design (ID), but I think Jason has a good point. And that point is that although it’s illegal (as well as dereliction of duty) to teach intelligent design creationism in public schools and universities, it is okay to criticize it, for you can criticize ID on the grounds of bad science without bashing religion.  And I think Jason’s right, especially given the legal rulings so far on what constitutes an incursion of religion into public schools.

The issue of whether teaching intelligent design in science classes constitutes a violation of the First Amendment in college courses has never been adjudicated, although it’s clearly illegal in high schools (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al.). As one constitutional lawyer wrote me, the higher-education issue is a bit murky:

There’s never been a direct decision, but SCOTUS has said several times that they apply the Establishment Clause [EC] more strictly, the younger the students are.  Of course, this doesn’t make sense.  If the government is not allowed to act in a way that favors religion as required by the EC, then how can the age of the people impacted change that?  The idea is that college is a time to expand your horizons, explore new ideas, etc.  But I don’t think that is a license to violate the Constitution.

All that being said, the fact remains that courts do treat colleges differently than elementary schools.  And even high schools differently from elementary schools sometimes. For instance, the Equal Access Act applies only to secondary schools, not elementary schools because high school students are mature enough to understand that schools “do not endorse everything they fail to censor.”  Mergens at 30.  (Statutory interpretation but still germane to EC analysis).  Moreover, in free speech cases, which the brick could easily be categorized as, age is also an issue.[JAC: SCOTUS is the Supreme Court of the US]

I would love to see this adjudicated, but of course we not only have a hyper-conservative Supreme Court, but Constitutional lawyers are happy enough to see ID booted from science classes—as it was at Ball State University (BSU)—without having to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of litigation, which in this case would probably have wound up in the Supreme Court.

Last week I put up a post on the creationist Discovery Institute’s continuing attempts to revive this case and allow ID to be taught at BSU. That post was was motivated by the incisive comments of several reader, who noticed that DI Vice-President John West seemed to be admitting that ID was religious, something that they’ve tried to avoid at all costs:

“Ball State ought to be careful,” West said. “I think their mishandling of this could turn into a much bigger deal. Certainly, we are not going away. The speech code against intelligent design is vague and too broad and may not be being applied evenhandedly. We determined through public documents one science class is covering intelligent design in order to bash it. If they allow that, it’s tantamount to state endorsement of an anti-religious view.

But a post by Joshua Youngkin at the DI creationist Evolution News and Views site did some furious backpedaling, arguing that the Discovery Institute’s claim was not tantamount to admitting it was religion or religiously motivated. Youngking’s post is a masterpiece of equivocation, but fortunately Jason has shown why it’s wrong. First, here’s Youngkin’s defense of ID as not religious:

Is Coyne right? Is this an admission from Discovery Institute that intelligent design is religion? No, it is not. Why not? Because, in short, the case law on the establishment clause of the First Amendment (which covers the area of life we’re talking about now) generally looks to the state actor’s (e.g., BSU administration) motive and purpose for acting as they act.

So, for example, if BSU administrators want to offer a course bashing intelligent design because they believe it is religion, and because they are hostile to religion, then that motivation when put into effect might constitute to a reasonable observer (e.g., a hypothetical student in the class, as determined by a court) state endorsement of anti-religion, which in turn arguably constitutes a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

That is, the law that governs this area of life cares about what’s going on inside the minds of state employees when they do what they do. In this case, it does not care whether intelligent design really is religion, as Coyne seems to think. It, again, only cares what state employees think it is, particularly when that thinking is part of state employees’ motive or purpose for, say, promoting or bashing religion on state property using state resources.

Yes, this stuff can get pretty esoteric. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. But at least now you know a little more about what’s going on, at least from a legal standpoint. For some perspective on how the “explicit admission” came about, it’s best to let John West speak for himself. He tells me:

“Although the reporter generally quoted me accurately in the article, in this particular instance he left out some important context. I made clear that I was focusing on BSU’s claim that intelligent design is religion. My argument was that if this is BSU’s claim, then BSU has to be consistent in how it applies its view when it comes to regulating speech of its faculty. If, according to BSU, endorsing intelligent design is tantamount to endorsing religion, then according to BSU’s own standard, attacking intelligent design would be tantamount to attacking religion. My point is that BSU can’t have it both ways.”

I believe a reader predicted that West would claim he was misquoted, but at least his statement is much clearer than the garbled analysis of Youngkin.  As West argues, if you can ban ID from science classes because that violates the First Amendment, then you cannot criticize ID either, for that also entangles religion with science in public institutions.

Rosenhouse maintains that West’s (and Youngkin’s) arguments are wrong, basically because ID is not only motivated by religion, but it’s also lousy and discredited science. Therefore, you can ban it from science classes as simply being discredited science—and tell the students why—so long as you don’t use that criticism to go after religion itself. Criticizing bad science has a secular purpose, but teaching ID has no secular purpose: it’s a deliberate attempt to sneak a discredited, religiously-based theory into the class. Or so Jason claims, and I think his claim has merit. Remember Gora’s statement explaining why ID could not be taught in Ball State science classes? I’ve put that statement at the bottom: it talks not only about the constitutional issues, but also about ID being discredited science. And notice that Gora does not say that discussing (or even attacking) ID is verboten, so long as it’s not in science classes. I agree: it’s a valid subject for discussion in philosophy or “Dangerous Ideas,” classes, so long as it’s not presented in a one-sided way, or as scientifically validated.

Here’s a bit of Jason’s analysis. Referring to Youngkin’s statement, he says:

This, sadly, is not correct. The motivation behind a state action is not relevant at all to determining its constitutionality, at least not directly. You cannot go into court and argue that a state action is unconstitutional because it was motivated by anti-religious fervor. (Not if you expect to win, at any rate.) A state action can have both a religious (or anti-religious) intent and also a religious (or anti-religious) effect and still be constitutional.

The current legal standard for adjudicating these claims is the so-called Lemon test, from the 1971 Supreme Court case Lemon v. Kurtzman. The test has three prongs, the first of which is most relevant for assessing Youngkin’s claim. This prong says that to be constitutional, the state action must have a secular legislative purpose. Of course, you can always just make up a secular purpose to obscure the religious intent of the action. So, subsequent case law has established the principle that the given secular purpose must be legitimate, and not just a sham.

This is the place where the motivation behind the action might have some indirect relevance to determining its constitutionality. Evidence that the action was motivated by religious concerns might also constitute evidence that the publicly-given secular purpose is just a sham. Even in that case, however, the action’s unconstitutionality has nothing to do with its motivation, but is instead the result of its not having a legitimate secular purpose.

This is precisely what played out in the Dover trial in 2005. . . The totality of this evidence convinced the judge that the board’s stated secular purpose was just a sham and that really there was no legitimate secular purpose behind the board’s action.

Here’s the heart of Jason’s argument:

With that in mind, let’s revisit Youngkin’s hypothetical. Imagine a shadowy cabal of university administrators who decide they want to use their science classes as a tool for bashing religion. Towards that end, they decide that they are going to offer a course that really goes to town on intelligent design. As long as what actually plays out in class is a calm, measured, discussion in which the professor says something like, “Proponents of intelligent design make certain scientific arguments. These arguments are worth addressing because they are so prevalent, but they are poor for the following reasons…” then the course would not be unconstitutional. In this case, the secular purpose of presenting the best science is plainly not a sham, rendering irrelevant any concerns about the motivations behind the course.

Incidentally, the second prong of the Lemon test says that the primary effect of the state action cannot be to advance or hinder religion. Secondary effects are, once more, irrelevant. So even if the administrators specifically wanted to bash religion, and even if the course had the secondary effect of making some students question their faith, that still would not be enough to show that it is unconstitutional. That there is a legitimate secular purpose behind the course (to present the best science) and that the primary effect has noting to do with religion (that effect being to leave students properly informed about the state of science), renders all other concerns moot. (Leaving aside the third prong of the Lemon test, for the purposes of this discussion.)

And, finally, Jason analyzes West’s clear statement, but also finds it wanting:

In making this argument, West can avoid the charge that he was carelessly admitting that intelligent design was religion. It is, however, a ridiculous argument. If the Discovery Institute wants to sue Ball State for offering a course critical of ID, then they would have to explain to a judge why the purpose or primary intent of the course was anti-religious. Given the many adamant statements by ID’s leading defenders that it is all about science and has nothing to do with religion, they might find that a tough case to make. That BSU’s administrators were hypothetically motivated by anti-religious fervor would be neither here nor there. [JAC: Note Gora's statement below, though.]

Furthermore, you can have it both ways. No one is denying that ID folks make scientific assertions. Refuting those assertions plainly has nothing to do with religion, and is clearly a legitimate purpose in a science class. Claiming that ID is religion is just shorthand for saying that it’s scientific arguments are so bad that it is reasonable to look at the motivations behind the people making them, and one does not have to look too hard to see that those motivations are entirely religious and political).

I think that, given the accepted criteria of the Lemon test, Jason has a good argument here. Criticizing ID—as science, not religion—has a legitimate secular purpose, just as secular as criticizing homeopathy in health class or astrology in psychology class. You can say that these are all instances of bad science, and tell the students why. I criticize creationism in my evolution class as being contravened by the data (the contrast between creationist and evolutionist explanations of biological and geological data is a major part of Darwin’s Origin, and was one of the reason why people were convinced to abandon creationism as “bad science”), and I do that without dissing religion. (I do mention, though, that some forms of creationism, and those addressed by Darwin, were based on Genesis, for that’s where the theory originated.)

The ID people have not helped themselves by their repeated statements, both in churches and public writings, that ID really is a religiously-based theory. That includes William Dembski’s statement that “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” The Wedge Document didn’t help, either.  There are many statements in which IDers identify the “designer” to be the Abrahamic God, and Barbara Forrest has shown clearly that the ID “textbook” Of Pandas and People is simply a lightly reworked version of older creationist materials.  Thus, no matter how much IDers claim that their theory is “science” that just happens to coincide with theism, they’ve left behind a paper record showing that both the motivation and the content of Intelligent Design is religious, and part of a strategy to dispel materialism from and inject religion into public schools.

Finally, every claim that ID is “science” (and note that their promised scientific “research” has never materialized; all they do is criticize evolutionary biology) has been dispelled by scientists like Nick Matzke, Charles Marshall, Russell Doolittle, and even religious scientists like Ken Miller. So ID is both religiously motivated, has no secular purpose, and is discredited science. On those grounds you can ban it from the science classroom as legitimate science (both on Constitutional grounds and on academic grounds) but also criticize its scientific claims (on academic grounds).  The IDers simply didn’t hide their religious purpose deep enough, for the claims of faith always burst through. And so the Discovery Intitute is scuppered.

Jason is a good boy, and he’s about to take some serious flak from the Discovery Institute. They have loads of people always at the ready to defend the lie that ID is real science.

******

President Gora’s statement, which I published and discussed here (my emphasis):

Dear Faculty and Staff,

This summer, the university has received significant media attention over the issue of teaching intelligent design in the science classroom. As we turn our attention to final preparations for a new academic year, I want to be clear about the university’s position on the questions these stories have raised. Let me emphasize that my comments are focused on what is appropriate in a public university classroom, not on the personal beliefs of faculty members.

Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses. The gravity of this issue and the level of concern among scientists are demonstrated by more than 80 national and state scientific societies’ independent statements that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science. The list includes societies such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Physical Society.

Discussions of intelligent design and creation science can have their place at Ball State in humanities or social science courses. However, even in such contexts, faculty must avoid endorsing one point of view over others. The American Academy of Religion draws this distinction most clearly:

Creation science and intelligent design represent worldviews that fall outside of the realm of science that is defined as (and limited to) a method of inquiry based on gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. Creation science, intelligent design, and other worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry that is appropriately studied in literature and social science courses. Such study, however, must include a diversity of worldviews representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others.

Teaching religious ideas in a science course is clearly not appropriate. Each professor has the responsibility to assign course materials and teach content in a manner consistent with the course description, curriculum, and relevant discipline. We are compelled to do so not only by the ethics of academic integrity but also by the best standards of our disciplines.

As this coverage has unfolded, some have asked if teaching intelligent design in a science course is a matter of academic freedom. On this point, I want to be very clear. Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity. As I noted, the scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected intelligent design as a scientific theory. Therefore, it does not represent the best standards of the discipline as determined by the scholars of those disciplines. Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.

Courts that have considered intelligent design have concurred with the scientific community that it is a religious belief and not a scientific theory. As a public university, we have a constitutional obligation to maintain a clear separation between church and state. It is imperative that even when religious ideas are appropriately taught in humanities and social science courses, they must be discussed in comparison to each other, with no endorsement of one perspective over another.

These are extremely important issues. The trust and confidence of our students, the public, and the broader academic community are at stake. Our commitment to academic freedom is unflinching. However, it cannot be used as a shield to teach theories that have been rejected by the discipline under which a science course is taught. Our commitment to the best standards of each discipline being taught on this campus is equally unwavering. As I have said, this is an issue of academic integrity, not academic freedom. The best academic standards of the discipline must dictate course content.

Thank you for your attention to these important issues. Best wishes in your preparations for a new academic year. I look forward to seeing you at the fall convocation in just a few weeks.
Sincerely,

Jo Ann M. Gora, PhD
President

60 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    sub

    • francis
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      //

    • Darrin M Carter
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      qed

  2. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Before any content is presented, ID does not qualify as science on procedural grounds.

    When you draw your conclusion first, and look for your evidence afterward, what you are doing is NOT science.

    Cheez, am I repeating myself? L

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Yes, but it bears repeating.

  3. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Before any content is examined, ID fails on procedural grounds.

    When you draw your conclusion first, and look for your evidence afterward, what you are doing is NOT science.

    Cheez, am I repeating myself? L

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Yes, but it bears repeating ;-)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        You can both say that again! :)

  4. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I have no worries that Rosenhouse can handle the flak from the disco ‘tute.

    West must be embarrassed that he was exposed with his pants down around his ankles.

  5. Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I think the fundamental problem the religious have is that they really don’t “get” science. They think it’s a quest for truth or an exercise in engineering or some variation on that theme, and they figure any source of truth should be good so long as it’s real truth. So why not Biblical truths, especially since they’re the truest truths they can think of?

    Philosophers, especially the Aristotelians, started this misguided quest for truth. The problem with truth is that there’s an infinitude of truths out there, all equally true. As such, truth really isn’t all that interesting.

    What is interesting is reality, and, best we can tell, there’s only one of those out there. The challenge is in figuring out what’s real, not what’s true. And that’s the part that the religious don’t get. They’re satisfied with truth, but scientists won’t rest until they’re got some reasonable degree of confidence they’ve uncovered reality, regardless with how it comports to this truth or that truth or these other truths.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Paul S.
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Truths like these?
      So what I told you was true… from a certain point of view.
      -Obi-wan
      Jerry, just remember, It’s not a lie if you believe it.
      -George Costanza

    • gerard52
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Sub.

    • Posted March 17, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      As is so often the case, Ben, you have stated it very clearly. I suppose in one word it is empiricism.

    • Posted March 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Likely tooth fairies and gods aren’t actually true. There may be an “infinitude of truths” out there, but I doubt that gods and fairies fall into that infinite set. So it’s hard to comprehend what you mean by using language in this way.

      • Posted March 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        I think what Ben means is that in the English language, “truth” can refer to any of a huge number of subjective situations, so it’s not helpful to think of science as a quest for “truth”. Science is not in the business of mandating what your favorite color should be, even if we regard your statement about your favorite color as “true”.

        I think he’s also using the phrase “quest for truth” to highlight the misguided teleological conception of science many religious people have. It’s not that science aims for some kind of Platonic “truth”, it’s that science simply uncovers reality.

        So I don’t think Ben is trying to elevate stupid things that some people call “truth”; I think he’s trying to say searching for “truth” is a poor way to think about how science works.

        Am I right, Ben?

        • gbjames
          Posted March 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          I’m not Ben, either. But I don’t think he was trying to remove the word “true” from the science project. Science works to make true statements about reality (i.e.: determine facts). Right Ben? I mean… you haven’t lost your marbles yet have you?

        • Posted March 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but I’d also add that there’re all sorts of perfectly valid and reasonable truths that have varying degrees of relevance to reality.

          For example, it’s true that the areas of the squares of the sides of a right triangle are equal to the area of the square of the hypotenuse. It’s also true that there’s no such thing as a right triangle, and that the closest analogues you can construct to one only approximate that truth, with the deviation increasing dramatically for sufficiently massive and / or fast objects.

          Or: Pythagoras is true, but not real.

          And you can construct infinitely many geometries, all as equally true as Pythagoras, and at most one (and perhaps not even that many) actually is real.

          Or, going back to roquoco’s point about faery tales: it is true that Noah loaded all the animals onto the Ark and rode out the flood, just as it is true that Bottom became an ass and that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. There’s really no arguing with the truth of any of those statements. They are, however, none of them real. It’s also true that Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon; Columbus the Atlantic; and Washington the Delaware — and those truths have the additional benefit of being real.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • gbjames
            Posted March 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            You are no true Athenian!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes – if people would see things this way it would probably cut down on these silly “other ways of knowing” & “science doesn’t have all the answers” themes. Science doesn’t have all the answers, it has all the tools – the good ones that we keep all clean & sharpened. You can go ahead and use your crappy, rusty tools but you won’t get any decent results.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        “Science doesn’t have all the answers, it has all the tools…”

        Perfecto.

        • Posted March 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          …or the only tool that counts: check your answers against the Universe’s.

          b&

    • Marella
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      The trouble with the word “reality” is that the social scientists and psychologists have hijacked it with discussions like “The social construction of reality” so that many people forget that reality actually exists and it’s what you think reality is, that is the problem. I have had discussions with my religious psychologist sister-in-law on this basis and I have enormous trouble establishing an agreement that reality exists outside of our interpretation of it. For her only interpretation seems to matter. She’s too bound up in her job of changing people’s perceptions of reality to something more functional (I am not a worthless human being, the world would not be better off without me) to bother about actual reality. It’s very tiring.

      • Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        Of all the definition hijacks out there, that’s gotta be one of the worst.

        I think the only solution would be to challenge your friend to a battle of the realities. Her reality says that she can make it anything she wants, but yours says she can’t hold her breath for more than a minute or so. If she can change her reality such that you’re convinced that she can hold her breath for an hour, she wins. But if she has to come up for air sooner rather than later, she has to acknowledge that there’s really something more to reality than one’s internal fantasies.

        Shes too bound up in her job of changing peoples perceptions of reality to something more functional (I am not a worthless human being, the world would not be better off without me) to bother about actual reality. Its very tiring.

        I can appreciate that providing assistance to suicidal people can be challenging, but I don’t think that delusion has a place in such a plan. Indeed, delusion could backfire so easily. Much better to get it out of the way up front that, like it or not, you’re the only one who can give meaning and value to your own life; so, now that you’re all grown up, what is it you want to do with yourself? Great; now, let’s get you headed down that path, starting with the simple things like eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise and…and no, life’s not fair; tough shit, but why make it worse for yourself? So let’s get you signed up for those evening classes at the community college on that subject you always wanted to learn more about and work on a daily schedule and….

        And, yes, there could well be a place in all that for intentional self-deception, but even then it should be up front. Yes, you feel miserable, like a worthless piece of shit. But I’m telling you you’re not, and I’m suggesting that you should pretend otherwise. It’s just pretending; it’s okay that you don’t really believe it, but go ahead and try to convince yourself of it otherwise and see if that helps you get out of bed and into the shower in the morning. Sure, you’re a worthless piece of shit, but, by the gods, you’re a worthless piece of shit who can pretend otherwise with the best of them. And, yes, it’s hard work and it sucks — but of course it does, since you’re a worthless piece of shit and even simple things like getting out of bed are miserable for worthless pieces of shit. So you’re going to be miserable whether you’re not doing or doing, so you might as well be miserable doing, since you’ve already agreed to pretend to be something other than a worthless piece of shit.

        Oh, by the way, after pretending long enough, you won’t have to pretend any more because it’ll be real, but you can worry about that later; right now, just focus on pretending, okay? It’s a lie, sure, but it’s a good lie because you’re being up front about the fact that it’s a lie.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Marella
          Posted March 18, 2014 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          I might pass this advice on to my son who is having some trouble with these sorts of issues too. Thx Ben.

          • Posted March 19, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            Oh, I’m so sorry to hear. I’m sure having somebody close to you struggle with that sort of thing isn’t as bad as actually struggling with it, but it can’t be any fun.

            I think the most important advice I could offer to anybody is to accept that life isn’t perfect; to not let that stop you from trying to make it perfect; and to be fully aware that you’re going to fall so far short of perfection it’s not even funny so there’s no reason to get unduly upset over failure. And, yes, that extends even to attempts to strive for perfection without beating yourself up for failure.

            …and, as far short of perfection as reality is, it’s still pretty damned good at least some of the time. Focusing on the good can help; for example, for me, photography is as much an excuse to stare at beautiful things as it is to make pictures. Even if you can’t afford a camera, you could still pick up pencil and paper and make truly godawful sketches of stuff with your primary purpose being the same excuse.

            b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

              That approach you described was on a Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy. She talks about how assuming powerful body stances influences the brain. She also talked about how she had an accident and it had affected her IQ but she was determined to get through school so she took longer and it was hard because she identified so strongly with being smart. The part that choked me up was how she told a student of hers to fake it to she made it. I so related to that whole thing from having migraine issues and also being a person that over does it and has to approach things differently. Marella may find this useful as well. Here is the talk here.

              • Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

                That was an excellent lecture; thanks for the link. I’d strongly encourage everybody reading these words to watch it for themselves, and to spread the word accordingly.

                I hadn’t considered the posture angle before. Her empirical data, if valid, is striking — perhaps indicating an effect comparable to some medications. I hope behavioral therapists are aware of her work…and I know I’ve been paying even more attention than usual to my own posture since watching her lecture.

                Thanks again!

                b&

            • Marella
              Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

              “Without beating yourself up for failure” seems to be the trouble. He’s already an artist, but can’t cope with imperfection. Not a recipe for a happy life. He’s getting help but thanks for your support. Very kind.

  6. Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Seems reasonable. In the same way there is no reason why one shouldn’t discuss the obsolete phlogiston theory in chemistry class. In fact the reasons it fails clarify the current theory of oxidation.

  7. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Of course “it is okay to criticize it, for you can criticize ID on the grounds of bad science without bashing religion.” After all, we all know that ID is not religion, but science, right? (wink wink, nudge nudge) The DI themselves tell us that!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      So how do we get the Library of Congress to stop categorizing these silly non science ID books as science?

  8. Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    With Kitzmiller et. al. v. Dover finding that “ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory”, Discovery is trying to make lemonade from lemons. By luring its opponents into admitting ID is science after all — even ‘bad’ science — they hope to reopen the door. Since colleges & universities allow all sorts of garbage to be taught in the humanities & soft sciences — Gimbutas’ ridiculous notions, for example, still crop up here & there. And as we’ve seen recently, even neo-lamarckism is being taught.

    A careful response is required to avoid Discovery’s snare. ID is not science. To show why it isn’t, is not religion.

  9. Garnetstar
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The DI should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it.

    Should I ever be required to teach “both sides” (Ceiling Cat forbid!), here’s what it’d be:

    1.what evolution claims vs. ID claims
    2.how the claims use or don’t use, the scientific method
    3.data presented/experiments done that support each sides’ claims
    4.number of peer-reviewed papers supporting each side
    5.acceptance or rejection of both sides by scientists

    And so on.

    Since the ID side consists of 1) Goddidit, 2) doesn’t, 3) zero, 4) zero, and 5) < 0.1%, the DI might find themselves dismayed.

    Rosenhouse once noted that ID was dead, even more so than YEC, because of the extraordinary paucity of ideas it has. It would be quick and easy to teach, since there's almost nothing to present or to learn.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      They will just accuse all the real scientists of trying to cover up the greatness of ID. Nothing can penetrate their armour of ignorance!

    • Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Right. Or you could spend the semester showing how everything in biology relates to evolution and then, five minutes before the end of the last day say “I’m required to discuss the evidence for intellegent design. There isn’t any.”

  10. Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “I would love to see this adjudicated, but of course we … have a hyper-conservative Supreme Court….

    We shouldn’t rest our hopes on just tipping the balance in the US Supreme Court to ‘our’ side. For this is perhaps the most politically partisan court in our history. Nine justices each willing to ignore the Constitution to forward their political agenda, only suddenly rediscovering it to thwart the other side.

    A fundamental principle of Constitutional law is, every single word in the document must have a meaning. Yet DC v. Heller essentially ignored the words “well-regulated militia.” And Citizens United was based on an extremely specious extrapolation from the word “speech.”

    Another fundamental principle is that Congress’ several powers must have a definable limit to their scope. Yet the ACA ruling (National Federation v. Sebelius) made a mockery of that (as would have the minority opinions in Lopez & Morrison.) Neither ‘side’ in the SCOTUS is on my side.

    The First Amendment was meticulously crafted, its intent well-documented by outside comments from its authors, and solidified by numerous rulings. I’m a liberal, but please, spare me another ‘liberal’ judge like the four we now have! Instead, give me justices who respect the Constitution, and the First Amendment will take care of the rest.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      You prefer the likes of Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas?

      • Posted March 17, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        All nine disgust me.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          You have not paid much attention, then to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

          I’m holding out some hope that the two newer women will also be more liberal.

          • Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

            I’m plenty familiar with Bader Ginsburg’s record. She treats the Commerce Clause like a magic wand, has a proclivity for social engineering from the bench, most notably in supporting racial & gender quotas, and in joining the dissent on Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. And, like the other three and a half justices who upheld obamacare, she set the terribly dangerous precedents of allowing the federal government to assume police power, to levy capitation tax, and to compel citizens to enter into commerce, all for the sake of a scheme devised by the Heritage Foundation.

            The Constitution is a liberal document. Adhering to it is the best way to achieve liberal* goals. Ginsburg, however, has shown no hesitation in undermining the Constitution as the means to short-sighted ends.

            (* To avoid any confusion: I mean real liberal, not libertarian.)

            • Diane G.
              Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

              OK, you have been paying attention.

            • Posted March 18, 2014 at 3:11 am | Permalink

              Oh please. Things have occurred since the Constitution was written that could not have been anticipated by its founders. And really–it’s “police power” to uphold Obamacare. Would you prefer that our country be the only first world nation without some government medical care?

              After all, that’s not in the Constitution.

              Spare me.

              • Posted March 18, 2014 at 5:55 am | Permalink

                Is ObamaCare really gov’t medical care?

                It looks like OCare forces insurance conglomerates to accept more applicants with the gov’t providing “websites where the private plans allowed on sale within them will be regulated and comparable – from wiki”.

                Canukistan has some gov’t medical care. Citizens are issued a health card by the gov’t, not a private corporation. It evolves by cutting some useful things like eye exams and expanding into quackery of all sorts. As austerity hacks away at our health plan, purcha$ing a private plan can off$et co$t$.

                It seems the US gov’t is involved in the process of citizens purchasing private medical care. Brokering deals, not providing coverage.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:03 am | Permalink

                Single payer ins something a lot of Americans would like but this version is, for the US it’s a start. Remember that there was a lot of opposition to Canadian government health care when it first came out and private insurance hadn’t as strong an interest in Canada at the time as it does in the US now. Some physicians even walked off the job. When the government gave people a choice, the people tended to use the government option and it replaced private insurance.

                Also, in Ontario (health care is administered by the provinces so things may differ from province to province) things like eye exams were cut out but only for those over 21 and under 65 so some citizens do still have coverage under the government system. I’m not sure of the woo you mention – maybe it’s different from province to province. The more woo items in Ontario (Chinese acupuncture, homeopathy are paid either out of pocket or through private insurance).

              • Filippo
                Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:32 am | Permalink

                This specific subject reminds me of the general goal and mindset of the capitalist/free enterpriser – if something can possibly be made into a business and exploited and profit-maximized, it will be.

                So far, correct me if I’m wrong, and with the exception of the boutique bottled water industry, infrastructured (if I may use the word) clean drinking water is generally courtesy of (for a reasonable fee of course) government utility.

                Also, no one charges us for the air we breathe, not because some human or group of humans, capitalist or otherwise, wouldn’t like to, but because (so far) it is impossible to do so. We are of course charged a cost in the sense that the air (and water) is to some lesser or greater degree here and there polluted, what with it being viewed as a dump site by the capitalist, and as a fatuously-named “externality” by the economist.

              • Posted March 18, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

                My original point: as both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ judges routinely ignore the rule of law and the Constitution, it’s unwise to depend on a judge’s political leanings to defend church-state separation. As example, I mentioned the conservative, christian judge in Kitzmiller v. Dover who upheld the Establishment Clause.

                I very much would like the US to have universal healthcare. But not at the cost of undermining the Constitution.

                * In this context, “Police Power” has a specific legal meaning and, per the Constitution, is reserved for the states. Hence, romneycare is constitutional, obamacare is not. (Though both are terrible in practice);

                * “Head”, or capitation taxes are prohibited per Art. I , Sec. 9. The obamacare penalty, to be collected by the IRS, is considered by many to be a capitation;

                * Congress has the power to regulate commerce. Until the ACA, however, Congress has only ever sought to regulate a person’s activities once they’ve entered into commerce. Consider Wickard v. Filburn, the high-water mark for the scope of the Commerce Clause. Filburn was not compelled to grow wheat for the war effort, only to adhere to a quota once he freely chose to grow wheat. In contrast, ACA compels every citizen to enter into commerce, a dangerous precedent that should make every liberal shudder;

                * As with Social Security, there would be no constitutional barriers to a government-run, universal healthcare program;

                * In 2009, popular opinion was heavily in favor of universal health care. In 2009, the Democrats had that ‘super-majority’ in Congress. But the insurance lobby was invited to the White House and, behind closed doors, wrote a law that compels citizens to purchase private insurance. obamacare was not ‘a good start'; it was a sell-out.

      • Posted March 17, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        And remember that Judge Jones, who heard Kitzmiller v. Dover, was a conservative, a Bush appointee, and a christian. He may well have personally believed in a God-of-the-Gaps, but upheld the Rule of Law.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      All of the 9 are either Catholic or Jewish (at least nominally). None of them is a fundamentalist protestant, so they might view this from the perspective of the student more than the pushy teacher

      • Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        Tony Blair was Catholic. Look what he did to promote government funding of religious schools.

  11. Posted March 17, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    What bothers me about much of this is its legalistic nature. Will we someday require a law degree for teachers before they are certified for teaching?

    Then it’s not as if the mass of students is being shielded from misguided religious “science”. They hear it at home and in their churches and in religious colleges. The only way to fight silly beliefs is to show better ideas and that they make a difference in our welfare. Science has the better ideas, just from experience, so have some confidence!

    A larger issue is the qualifications of high school teachers. Many of them don’t have degrees in the subject they are teaching or even take serious courses in it. Very few of them can actually communicate a love for their subject. So is the answer: Just let them follow the letter of the legally prescribed written curriculum.

    If there is a strict separation between religion and the state in the U.S., then is it all right to teach creationism if you are in another country? Legalistically speaking. Will some day a scientist say that a new theory cannot be taught because the old theory was already approved for teaching by the law – and the new one hasn’t been?

    What about a wall of separation between the teaching of science and the state? Has it never been the case that the state has crippled good science? What about a wall of separation between education and the state?

    I just bring up these questions because by wrapping science practice and teaching in the shackles of the law you may find in the future that they bind more tightly than was envisioned.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      “A larger issue is the qualifications of high school teachers.”

      Yes. This should be the point of attack.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        Have teachers get an MBA/JD so that, Romneyesque, they will be qualified to competently hold forth on and do any and every thing (or so their possessors seem to think). ;)

    • ladyatheist
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      “A larger issue is the qualifications of high school teachers. Many of them don’t have degrees in the subject they are teaching or even take serious courses in it. ”

      And hundreds of them get their degrees from Ball State every year

    • Gerald
      Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      Science has the better ideas, just from experience, so have some confidence!

      But being a better idea doesn’t translate into acceptence by humans, who are riddled with cognitive biases. Scientific ideas are counter-intutuive (“The earth is actually a sphere”, “Injecting this dead virus can prevent a kid from contracting the live disease later on”) and often meet emotional resistence (“I’m not related to monkeys!”).

      This presents difficulties in teaching it. Of course you don’t just give students a laundry list of facts, but you also don’t just tell them the basic principles and expect them to personally re-derive centuries of work in a school year. When it comes to telling them that ID is wrong and why, I’m out of my depth in even developing suggestions for the right approach.

  12. J Cook
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Brava, Dr. Gora

  13. Diane G.
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Finally, someone with standing has said what I’ve felt all along. Part of teaching science is teaching failed hypotheses, IMO. Totally avoiding hot-button issues not only looks suspicious, it leaves students far less prepared to deal with conflicting claims.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention, their own hypothesis might not work out. That wouldn’t make them stupid, just wrong. It’s the whole point of the scientific method.

  14. Mark Hess
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I regularly criticize ID in my AP Bio classes…a point that D. Klinghoffer of the DI took umbrage to on Evolution News and Views back in October.
    After tracking me down, he wanted me to go on record, by posting a personal e-mail, presumably, so that his minions could engage in their typical campaign of disinformation and character-sabotage. If they had a history of being honest and forthright, I may have obliged.
    Call me paranoid, but I suspect he also wanted to create some professional discomfort for me in my home school district.
    Fact is, ID is not science…it is religion in its most anthropocentric and guile form.

  15. Mark Hess
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Of course, if evidence were presented, confirming ID as a valid theory (say, open communication with the “almighty”)…I’d be embarrassed as hell…I would be first in line to change the curriculum.


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