Likelihood of Success

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Ben Stein still all about Intelligence

Posted by Ron Coleman on November 12, 2007

I’ve been back and forth on the topic of Ben Stein for well over 20 years. I loved his writing from the time I was first exposed to it, and he used to be human-sized enough to correspond with me by email when he just wrote for the old American Spectator, but oddly enough when I would challenge him — gingerly — on religious issues (he is Jewish, as I am), he would stop (and eventually did) stop writing back. Okay, I get it. Celebrity, kind of.

His writing is certainly idiosyncratic, and I don’t agree with everything he says. But he says it very well, very sincerely and he’s mostly right, and very original.

But he just may win me back over with this — his crusade against the crusade against Intelligent Design. He even has a blog about it. I need to do some homework to figure out the relationship between Ben Stein and God, but evidently he’s, not surprisingly, kept an open mind about it… unlike some people. Stein told the New York Times:

Mr. Stein, a prolific author who has acted in movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and appeared on television programs including “Win Ben Stein’s Money” on Comedy Central, said in a telephone interview that he accepted the producers’ invitation to participate in the film not because he disavows the theory of evolution — he said there was a “very high likelihood” that Darwin was on to something — but because he does not accept that evolution alone can explain life on earth.

He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called “From Darwin to Hitler.”

Well, of course, just as we can’t say that the theory of evolution is not valid because it leads to atheism, we can’t say that if it leads to racism and genocide, it also must be empirically incorrect. As he says, surely Darwin is onto something, and, short of unethical experimentation, we should probably always let science take us where it goes. But he and the filmmakers are challenging a cultural moment here, not arguing the merits of the debate, from what I can tell (I can also tell where the comments section is going to go notwithstanding that caveat), and I can’t wait for the picture to come out.

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45 Responses to “Ben Stein still all about Intelligence”

  1. This movie touches on what I noticed when I was in college and high school not too long ago. The emphasis on keeping an open mind, but the requirement of accepting only one point of view.

    Indoctrinate U is another one that looks really good, but it seems that they’re now being sued by the very colleges that they showcased.

  2. I like Ben Stein, and have several of his books. However I wish he would have picked another topic to attack because ID just can’t stand up to the facts of Evolution – until you get to the Big Bang at which time all bets are off. Does this mean that Ben is stupid? Not at all, nor is anyone else who questions Evolution.

    Maybe there’s the problem: I have no problem with challenging anything – and that includes such theories as Evolution, Relativity and Quantum Theory (Einstein was right: God does NOT play dice). However I don’t think that ID belongs in the science curriculum for the same reason that other theories don’t belong: It hasn’t been shown to be more useful in predicting results (breed cichlids – I do, and there’s a lot of evolution going on in my living room) or explaining evidence. I don’t expect kids to be exposed to String Theory in high school because it hasn’t been proven, whereas Quantum Theory has (although I expect it will one day be disproven).

    Until ID explains the evidence better than Evolution, it hasn’t earned a place of respect. I don’t believe in cultural relativism, so I also don’t believe that all theories are the same. Just because ID exists as an independent theory doesn’t mean that it should be treated with the same weight as Evolution.

  3. Scott, what if it’s treated with “less weight”? What if you told science classes, “There’s also a very different way of thinking about these issues. By far most scientists don’t agree with it, and many find it offensive — is certainly not a consensus view. But a number of distinguished scientists, with tenure and Ph.D.’s in the relevant fields, do. It’s called Intelligent Design, and here’s what its proponents say….”

    I think you would not object to that.

    Just try it in a public school, though, and see how long you last.

  4. Jack said

    I once had an occasion to speak with Ben Stein.

    He spent a couple of months observing my high school and then wrote a magazine article about his experiences.

    At that time I was the editor of my high school newspaper. We took umbrage at what he said and decided to write an article about it. Surprisingly enough his home telephone number was listed.

    So I called him and interviewed him over the phone for a good 15 minutes. Interesting guy.

  5. Ara Rubyan said

    The sky is blue because G-d wants it that way.

    The End.

  6. Ron
    Nope, I wouldn’t. But then you’ll have to address all the alternative theories. Scientists are a pretty varied lot, and you’ll find one or two distinguished ones who believe the nuttiest stuff. Should we teach astrology because some scientist somewhere only dates Geminis because that’s what her horoscope tells her to do? If not, why not? Where do you stop?

    I’m all for teaching it in philosophy of science class. However the Scientific Method – the deductive process of theory, hypothesis, observation and confirmation – aren’t being taught properly. Any time that is not spent in front of a Bunsen burner or data sheet is time wasted. Kids already get too much theory, and not enough hands on experience. Why? Because it’s easier to test theory when you teach science like any other subject.

    Why do ID proponents want to do this? ID evolved out of Creationism, and many of today’s proponents of ID are yesterdays believers in Creationism. For many this is an attempt to get God back into the classroom.

    You know what? I’m all for getting God back into the classroom. I’d love nothing more than for a comparative religions class to be taught in Public School. OOOOH! The screaming! I could imagine the wails of the atheists – of which I consider myself one – now! But ask any atheist about how they ended up giving up on religion, and you’ll find that some like me ditched religion when it became apparent that they were all right – and all wrong at the same time. Agnosticism and atheism was all that was left once you studied them all.

    God should be brought back into the classroom – but not science class.

    Oh and I call Pennywit’s Designated Hitler Rule on his business equating Evolution with the Fuhrer.

  7. Ara Rubyan said

    Just try it in a public school, though, and see how long you last.

    I agree with Scott — teach ID in a comparative religions class. It doesn’t belong in the science classroom.

    Pennywit’s Designated Hitler Rule

    Is that like Godwin’s Law?

  8. Kevin D. said

    Scott,
    “Scientists are a pretty varied lot, and you’ll find one or two distinguished ones who believe the nuttiest stuff. Should we teach astrology because some scientist somewhere only dates Geminis because that’s what her horoscope tells her to do? If not, why not? Where do you stop?”

    See, and this is where you show your true colors. You’re not interested in ID being talked about in any way whatsoever that may show it the slightest bit of respect. ID isn’t supported by “one or two” scientists. It’s supported by HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS. ID isn’t a fringe theory – no matter how much you try to paint it to be. Your comparison of it to atrology is insulting and telling in that it shows you have no desire to learn about it. You’ve closed your mind to alternate theories. And if ID had a better explanation for existance than evolution you’ve already deemed it insufficient before listening to it.

    Don’t act like you’d listen to ID if it had something more to offer. You’ve already shown you wouldn’t.

    And don’t give me this “where do you stop” crap. You have no interest in real scientific debate. Convienantly “it” stops exactly where the position YOU advocate begins and ends.

  9. Ara Rubyan said

    Cool down Kevin. He already said he could agree to having ID taught in school — just not in science class. I think that’s fair. How about you?

  10. No, it’s not fair. It’s a scientific theory with scientific analysis to back it up.

  11. Ara Rubyan said

    A scientific theory.

    Let me ask you a question: if, in pursuit of an explanation for how things work, if we stop when we reach a perplexing problem and simply say, “G-d only knows,” is that really science? And if we do that, how long before all “scientific” inquiry simply…ends?

    Ron, there’s lots we don’t know about the universe; shouldn’t we try to understand, shouldn’t we try to explain it as much as we can, instead of simply saying “G-d knows all” and hanging up our microscopes?

    And another thing: who said science and religion were mutually exclusive? It’s like the separation of church and state — by keeping both on separate parallel tracks you make both stronger. Those who say one is over the other are making a mistake whether it is in science, government…or religion.

    Religion and science should be taught in separate classrooms.

  12. Kevin
    ID is a fringe theory. If you want to play a numbers game, it’s not even close. The number of scientists who recognize the supremacy of Evolution is in the hundreds of thousands – if not the millions. As for closing my mind, it’s easy to pigeon-hole your opponent as closed-minded in a debate on a specific topic, but it’s much harder to prove it.

    I don’t have Faith in Evolution. I don’t have to. If I found a theory that explained the workings of organisms better than Evolution, that explained the fossil evidence, the genetic evidence, the experimental evidence… better than Evolution, why wouldn’t I change my mind? I’m a systems analyst by trade, so it’s not going to impact my career. I’ve recently tangled with anthropogenic Global Warming and the HIV Hypothesis. I’ve gone from being a Democrat to a Republican. I’m even excited to hear that Quantum Theory is under attack, and the Universe may be deterministic after all.

    So I’m closed minded? Geez, considering those links I almost feel like Dick Gephardt for all my flip-flopping.

    Science isn’t religion, and I don’t like it when so-called scientists like Richard Dawkins attack religion at the same time I don’t particularly like it when religion creeps into science through ID. Scientists should have no problem being religious since the two realms only conflict when they are misinterpreted.

    Science is no substitute for spirituality, and spirituality doesn’t explain the natural world very well. So where’s the conflict?

  13. Oil Jihadi said

    “It’s a scientific theory with scientific analysis to back it up.”

    Please backup this claim with evidence. And do spend some time doing so, because I expect to be able to tear it to shreds.

    Death to oil – http://www.oiljihad.org

  14. Oil Jihadi said

    Oh, I forgot to post the correct theory which explains both God AND Evolution. Sorry for the double post.

    http://www.venganza.org/

    I hereby demand the teachings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster be taught in public schools.

    Fair warning: I don’t tolerate this idiocy here — “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” It’s a poor excuse for argument, in my book, and if you think I’m unreasonable, then don’t read my book. Next FSM comment gets deleted.

    Ok, and OJ, as to your previous demand — go flex your speaking points somewhere else. Anonymous persons making cocky demands do not get full privileges here. — RDC

  15. Lee Willis said

    Ron wrote: “No, it’s not fair. It’s a scientific theory with scientific analysis to back it up.”

    Ron — what predictions does ID theory make? (this isn’t snark. It’s an honest question) I have never considered ID to be science b/c to the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t make any predictions, it simply attempts to explain existing data.

    But I’m no ID expect. I’m willing to listen.

  16. Roger R said

    Scott’s assertion thatthen you’ll have to address all the alternative theories is absurd. We wouldn’t, anymore than we have to explore all works of fiction in English Lit class if we exlore one, nor all branches of science in the science curriculum.

    And Ara, it is you, not ID, that brings Go into the issue.

  17. jaymaster said

    One thing I hate about posts on this topic is that they inevitably devolve into an evolution versus ID debate.

    To me the issue here is the politicization of science education. I think I’m with Ben on this one. For the record, I think ID is kind of silly. And I’m not sold on evolution as the answer to everything either. But I don’t want to talk about that now.

    What I do want to discuss is how one particular theory became so emotional, so divisive, so politicized, that it can’t even be legally questioned in schools anymore. And that’s where we are today. Evolution, though still just a theory, can’t be questioned. It’s not even legal to say “Evolution is one theory. There are others.” And IMO, that’s not intelligent. That’s scary.

    How did it come to this? Where are we heading? And what’s next, global warming?

  18. Roger R said

    Lee,

    You might ask yourself what Darwinian evolution predicts, and what it just attempts to explain. I’m not sure there is a great deal of difference on that score.

    Thanks, Roger. How could he set himself up like that? — RDC

  19. Roger
    Of course it’s absurd – until you do it.

    If we open the door to other alternative theories to evolution, where do we draw the line between the controversial and the hair-brained? (Or is it the hare-brained?)

    I would bet that more people in the United States believe in Astrology than Evolution. Should we then teach it alongside astronomy? If not, why not?

    All theories are not equal. By exercising a kind of relativism in which we decide that all theories are equal instead of the higher standard that is based on evidence – of which Evolution has amassed a respectable 160+ years worth – we end up turning science class into a philosophy class – which I’m OK with.

    Just not in a biology, physics or chemistry class.

  20. Roger R said

    Scott,

    Where do we draw the line in English Lit? Your question remains absurd, based on false assumptions. Some may indeed choose to teach astrology, just as some choose to teach string theory.

    Allow the local school boards to make such choices. They won’t all choose the same, and that isn’t necessarily a problem.

    It isn’t a matter of “all theories being equal”, but a matter of people looking at the issue differently. I certainly think you have the right to claim you know best, as long as others have that same right. And we can allow our political system to resolve those differences.

  21. Oil Jihadi said

    Lee:

    I doubt you’ll get an answer to your well stated question, even if you’re not anonymous and not a stranger to this blog.

    Ron:

    What book have you written? I’m curious. And no more mention of TFM, I promise.

    I’ve written a few books, OJ, both credited as author and otherwise, and have contributed to quite a few more. You can look that up in Martindale Hubbell. But enough about me. I really meant this blog. — RDC

  22. Roger

    Since I believe in State’s rights, I agree with you that local school boards should be allowed to teach whatever they want. However the Courts have made this a moot point, and I doubt SCOTUS is going to swing that way in the future (if anything it’s going the opposite way.)

    So Science=English Lit? The Objective vs. Subjective. Interesting. Is that really the path you want to take? Because all of these arguments I hear from relativists as to why we should teach history from anyone’s perspective other than that of White Men. Isn’t that what you mean by people looking at the issue differently?

    I believe in objective reality, and haven’t argued about whether the color green you see is the same that I see since I stopped doing dope a long time ago. I don’t buy relativistic arguments of any sort – although I do tend to favor those proposed by Einstein a century ago. The rest of it is mush – and if you want to study mush, that’s all fine and dandy. However if you teach my kid mush, I’ll try to get you fired and if that doesn’t work, I’ll put my kid in private school, run for the School Board, and raise a ruckus in the Media.

    I suspect that you too believe in objective reality. If so it’s not good enough to poke holes in Evolution; your theory has to out-do Evolution. In science the only way theories get replaced is by theories that work better than those they replace.

    As

  23. Man, athiests are sure militant about forcing their beliefs and only their beliefs on others…especially the impressionable…sounds a lot like a religious group to me, my way, only my way, and even exposing people to other views is beyond the pale.

    What a weird organized religion based on the blind faith that there’s nothing else out there.

    Go Humanism!

  24. Oil Jihadi said

    Roger R. I would like to answer your question of “what Darwinian evolution predicts, and what it just attempts to explain.”

    What Darwinian evolution predicts:

    # Darwin predicted that precursors to the trilobite would be found in pre-Silurian rocks. He was correct: they were subsequently found.

    # Similarly, Darwin predicted that Precambrian fossils would be found. He wrote in 1859 that the total absence of fossils in Precambrian rock was “inexplicable” and that the lack might “be truly urged as a valid argument” against his theory. When such fossils were found, starting in 1953, it turned out that they had been abundant all along. They were just so small that it took a microscope to see them.

    # There are two kinds of whales: those with teeth, and those that strain microscopic food out of seawater with baleen. It was predicted that a transitional whale must have once existed, which had both teeth and baleen. Such a fossil has since been found.

    # Evolution predicts that the fossil record will show different populations of creatures at different times. For example, it predicts we will never find fossils of trilobites with fossils of dinosaurs, since their geological time-lines don’t overlap. The “Cretaceous seaway” deposits in Colorado and Wyoming contain almost 90 different kinds of ammonites, but no one has ever found two different kinds of ammonite together in the same rockbed. This lack of mixing stongly implies that the rockbeds have different ages.

    # Evolution predicts that animals on distant islands will appear closely related to animals on the closest mainland, and that the older and more distant the island, the more distant the relationship.

    # The theory of Common Descent predicts that the species alive today can be organized into one single family tree, where each species is a descendant of a parent species. (And therefore, there should be a hierarchical arrangement of relatedness.)

    For example, arthropods all have chitinous exoskeleton, hemocoel, and jointed legs. Insects have all these plus head-thorax-abdomen body plan and 6 legs. Flies have all that plus two wings and halteres. Calypterate flies have all that plus a certain style of antennae, wing veins, and sutures on the face and back. You will never find the distinguishing features of calypterate flies on a non-fly, much less on a non-insect or non-arthropod.

    Dogs are another example. There should be species we would group with dogs, and there are – such as wolves and coyotes. So we are not surprised when dogs and foxes turn out to share some peculiar features of the middle ear. This group – the Family Canidae – can be grouped with the bears, raccoons and weasels, because their ears have some similarities to those of dogs. All of these have carnassial teeth, but so do cats, civets and seals – so we group the entire lot as being Order Carnivora. Carnivores all have 3 middle ear bones, mammary glands, placental development, hair, a diaphragm, a four-chambered heart, and a larynx. But they share those features with humans, bats, elephants and whales. So we group that entire lot as being Class Mammalia. But mammals have amniote eggs, and so do birds, lizards, snakes and turtles. And amniote animals share with frogs and salamanders the property of having four legs – they’re tetrapods. Tetrapods and fish both have backbones – they’re vertebrates. Vertebrates and starfish are both deuterostomes because they share the way their embryos develop a mouth. Deuterostomes are left-right symmetric, so we group them and insects and snails as bilateral. The bilaterals, the jellyfish and sponges are all animals. Animals, fungi, rose bushes and amoebas all have a nucleus inside each cell – they’re eukaryotes. Eukaryotes and bacteria and archaea share the DNA mechanism, lipid-based cell membranes, and hundreds of other biochemical details.

    # In 1837, a Creationist reported that during a pig’s fetal development, part of the incipient jawbone detaches and becomes the little bones of the middle ear. After Evolution was discovered, it was predicted that there would be a transitional fossil, of a reptile with a spare jaw joint right near its ear. A whole series of such fossils has since been found – the cynodont therapsids.

    # It was predicted that humans must have an intermaxillary bone, since other mammals do. The adult human skull consists of bones that have fused together, so you can’t tell one way or the other in an adult. An examination of human embryonic development showed that an intermaxillary bone is one of the things that fuses to become your upper jaw.

    # In 1861, the first Archaeopteryx fossil was found. It was clearly a primitive bird with reptilian features. But, the fossil’s head was very badly preserved. In 1872 Ichthyornis and Hesperornis were found. Both were clearly seabirds, but to everyone’s astonishment, both had teeth. It was predicted that if we found a better-preserved Archaeopteryx, it too would have teeth. In 1877, a second Archaeopteryx was found, and the prediction turned out to be correct.

    # Almost all animals make Vitamin C inside their bodies. It was predicted that humans are descended from creatures that could do this, and that we had lost this ability. (There was a loss-of-function mutation, which didn’t matter because our high-fruit diet was rich in Vitamin C.) When human DNA was studied, scientists found a gene which is just like the Vitamin C gene in dogs and cats. However, our copy has been turned off.

    # In “The Origin Of Species” (1859), Darwin said:
    “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.” – Chapter VI, Difficulties Of The Theory
    This challenge has not been met. In the ensuing 140 years, no such thing has been found. Plants give away nectar and fruit, but they get something in return. Taking care of other members of one’s own species (kin selection) doesn’t count, so ants and bees (and mammalian milk) don’t count.

    And now for “what it just attempts to explain”:

    I do not understand your question, please be more specific. Do you mean ‘just attempts’ to mean ‘does a bad job of’ or do you mean ‘fails at’ or do you mean ‘just attempts to explain but does not make any predictions’.

    Please elaborate and I will respond.

    Now, after taking the type of answer your question, I eagerly await your scientific evidence in support of Intelligent Design. Feel free to collaborate with Ron, since he knows it’s a valid scientific theory with evidence to back it up.

    “It isn’t a matter of “all theories being equal”, but a matter of people looking at the issue differently.”

    And do you afford the same level of respect to individuals who believe they are the second coming of Christ because the voices in their heads tell them so? How about people who believe the world is flat? Should we teach the flat earth theory to our children? Surely you see the problems with your position, no?

    Stout Republican:

    Please explain how support for science and rejection of Intelligent Design makes one an atheist, specifically an atheist who is convinced God does not exist. Atheists who believe science has completely killed god, regardless of how god is defined, are people I consider to be idiots because there is no proof for their position. They are relying upon faith just as religious zealots do. However, atheists who believe that the God of Christianity does not exist because of a lack of logical consistency and outright hypocrisy, but leave open the possibility of something that can be defined as a God, are not necessarily in the same category as an “organized religion based on the blind faith”. I am aware of the type of Atheists you despise, because I despire them too.

  25. Roger R said

    Scott and Oil,

    Good posts and I will respond later today as I have time.

  26. Darwinism: The Imperialism of Biology?

    Ben Stein, one of my favorite writers, has a post called Darwinism: The Imperialism of Biology?

    Let’s make th…

  27. As far as I know atheists believe in no God period…not just disbelief in the God of Christianity. I have no issue with people who believe in evolution. I have issues that Atheists who believe in evolution are some of the most aggressively rude people I know to those who do believe that life may have started as more than “a mistake in nothing”.

    Oil Guy, please provide me scientifc proof as to where the first molecule or atom came from.

  28. Lee Willis said

    Roger R wrote:

    >You might ask yourself what Darwinian evolution predicts, and what it just attempts to >explain. I’m not sure there is a great deal of difference on that score.
    >
    Ron added:
    >Thanks, Roger. How could he set himself up like that? — RDC

    I don’t think I’ve set myself up at all. I just asked an honest question.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on evolution nor ID, or science in general. I’m a computer programmer with a Bachelors of Science, so I have just a general grounding in science, but no specialty.

    But as I understand it, anytime ‘science’ isn’t making predictions, it isn’t really science at all, it’s just punditry with scientific trappings. That goes for evolution, ID, astronomy, biology, chemistry, string theory, or anything else that claims to be science. (Gratuitous Robert Heinlein quote: “If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.”)

    To that extent, I agree that anytime an Evolution proponent (be it scientist or journalist or pundit or bloggger) expresses an idea about evolution that doesn’t make predictions, that’s not really science.

    But, as Oil Jihadi demonstrated above, Evolution does make predictions.

    To use a much simpler example, evolution predicts that if we go to an area of the world where no one has ever explored before, and start digging for fossils, we will not find modern mammal fossils in the same layer as we find dinosaur fossils.

    That’s a simple, testable hypothesis. It’s not all-encompassing, but it’s a prediction. And it is put to the test anytime new fossil layers are examined.

    So my question is: what predictions does ID theory make?

  29. Oil Jihadi said

    Stout Republican:

    “Oil Guy, please provide me scientifc proof as to where the first molecule or atom came from.”

    Those are not issues that are addressed by Evolution theory or Big Bang theory, thus I don’t consider them relevant to this discussion. Evolution theory is only about how life evolves, not how it started. Big Bang theory is only about how the universe evolves, the theory begins begins at about a millionth of a second after the Big Bang if I remember correctly. With matter and energy being 2 forms of the same thing, not long after the big bang the energy formed into matter. In physics, specifically quark theory, it is considered a proven fact (I believe) that when you pull 2 types of quarks apart, the energy spent doing so causes new quarks to be created out of thin air. Sounds strange, wouldn’t you agree?

    There are other theories that address those questions you have.

    In the case of the first molecule, I’m not sure if it’s possible to know which molecule type was first, probably H2 I would guess, but given some atoms in a laboratory it’s not too difficult to observe molecules form. Quantum Chemistry theory does address that, same with standard Chemistry theory, and probably many Physics fields.

    In Atheism there is a general agreement that there are 2 categories: ‘soft atheist’ and ‘hard atheist’. I despise the hard Atheists because they are hypocrites because they make a leap of faith to arrive at their conclusion and they can’t do that if they claim to be people of science and reason.

  30. Anonymous said

    Stout Republican wrote:

    “Oil Guy, please provide me scientifc proof as to where the first molecule or atom came from.”

    This is a really good illustration of a common misunderstanding about Science. As consumers of science, we want explanations. We are looking for science to explain things to us, and when it can’t, we see that as a failure of science.

    But science isn’t in the business of explanations, it is in the business of predictions. Explanations are just a side effect. Science is only interested in explanations which are testable (i.e. make predictions)

    For instance, we know that Newtonian physics isn’t an accurate model of the Universe, but we still use it, because it makes useful and testable predictions (within known constraints).

    Science isn’t about explaning things. Science isn’t even about being right. It’s about making accurate predictions.

  31. Lee Willis said

    fyi: The above anonymous comment was mine. –Lee

    You’re not very good at anonymity, Lee. — RDC

  32. Oil Jihadi said

    “Science isn’t about explaning things. Science isn’t even about being right. It’s about making accurate predictions.”

    I agree, to an extent. In order to make accurate predictions, science must come up with a solid working model (aka ‘Theory’), and in order to do that they need to be able to explain things. So explanation is a necessary evil. This certainly becomes a requirement when 2 different theories clash, because the one that explains the most probably gets extra credibility.

  33. Lee Willis said

    >You’re not very good at anonymity, Lee. — RDC

    🙂 Wasn’t trying. I just forgot to fill out the Name/Email part of the web form.

  34. Roger R said

    Scott,

    It’s hard to say how the US SC will eventually rule on ID in public schools, since the establishment clause jurisprudence is such a mess. What I can predict is that eventually ID or some related issue will reach the SC.

    As far as The English Lit comparison, I’m willing to take that path. Why do we spend time on works of fiction in high school, when most fail to offer physics courses? Because curriculum decisions are highly subjective. Why do we teach history from the “white” perspective? Because we are and have been majority white. That may be changing, and so might be the perspective.

    The problem with your belief in a specific objective reality, is that a lot of folks disagree with what that reality is. They don’t want you teaching their kids your mush. So now what? We can either make reasonable accomodations, or we can engage in continuing knock down drag outs. And take each issue to the Courts, and then on up to the SC, because they’ve so muddled the issues that there is no longer a strong principle which can guide local govts.

    It’s all very amusing to me, but I think it is a long term problem for our culture. YMMV.

    As for your claims about what the obligations are for ID supporters, I disagree. Lee seems to want to make “predictions” the demarcation issue. And although it is a perilous philosophical undertaking, I’ll grant predictions can be useful to the extent that they are “strong” predictions that are essentially falsification tests. The problem with the predictions offered by Oil, is that most aren’t strong, and many similiar “predictions” turned out to be wrong. Yet Darwinian evolution hasn’t been considered falsified.

    You are free as an individual to hold onto that which you believe until something you consider better comes along. But recognize that in itself is a highly subjective position. Others can abandon Darwinism because of its flaws. I have no problem with either position in an individual.

  35. Lee Willis said

    Roger R wrote:
    “Lee seems to want to make “predictions” the demarcation issue. And although it is a perilous philosophical undertaking, I’ll grant predictions can be useful to the extent that they are “strong” predictions that are essentially falsification tests. The problem with the predictions offered by Oil, is that most aren’t strong, and many similiar “predictions” turned out to be wrong. Yet Darwinian evolution hasn’t been considered falsified.”

    Roger, I’m not trying to set you up with some kind of “gotcha” question, where I ask you to name a prediction, you do so, I then disprove it, and in a triumphant voice cry “Behold! I have disproved your prediction, thus you must renounce ID!”

    That’s not how science is supposed to work. There are plenty of scientific models where some of their predictions have been shown to be be false, which are still used, and are still very useful. This is why I brought up Newtonian physics in my ealier post. It is well established that Newtonian mechanics does not make accurate predictions on the sub-atomic level, nor does it work on the macro scale where relativity effects come into play. But it is still useful, because it does make very accurate predictions for normal, everyday human scale objects (people, cars, buildings, planes). All the physical objects you use everyday (except modern electronics) are designed with Newtonian physics. We don’t throw it out just b/c it doesn’t work at the quantum level. We simply note that, and don’t use it for quantum level problems.

    A theory’s ‘goodness’ is judged by the accuracy of the predictions it makes.

    And it’s not that I personally “want to make “predictions” the demarcation issue.” To the best of my knowledge, it _is_ the demarcation issue. (Again, I stress that I’m not a science expert)

    But just for the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that predictions are not the demarcation issue that I say they are.

    Please explain to me — of what use is a Scientific theory that doesn’t make predictions? What’s it good for?

  36. Oil Jihadi said

    I’m checking out.

    If you guys come up with some evidence in support of ID that you are confident of, contact me and I’ll return and do my best to address it. You can reach me from my website.

    Salem aleikum.

  37. Roger R said

    Lee,

    I’m a little confused. After claiming not to be an expert on these various issues, including what is science, you assert that you know what the demarcation issue is, a question that has stumped philosophers for a couple of centuries. And then you wish for me to ignore that claim, and try to explain of what “use” is a scientific theory that doesn’t meet your criteria.

    I’m not sure I can resolve those issues for you, because I don’t think you’ve thought them through very well. Implicit in your last question is that now the “real” demarcation issue is usefulness. And this is against the backdrop of your saying the predictions need not be true.

    What you claim is “not how science is supposed to work” is exactly what Karl Popper said IS the way science is supposed to work. My point isn’t to turn this discussion into an argument on demarcation, which neither of us is qualified to engage in, but to point out that your personal criteria are just that: your own subjective criteria. If that’s what makes you happy, go for it. But understand that it doesn’t limit anybody else’s understanding of what science is.

    My point is to try to get you to focus on what the claimed predictions are for Neo- Darwinism, and therefore explore what your request for predictions of ID actually involves.

    It appears Oil has bailed out, but as I have time, I’ll go thru his list and point out some problems with his list.

  38. Roger R said

    Oil says:

    Evolution predicts that the fossil record will show different populations of creatures at different times. For example, it predicts we will never find fossils of trilobites with fossils of dinosaurs, since their geological time-lines don’t overlap. The “Cretaceous seaway” deposits in Colorado and Wyoming contain almost 90 different kinds of ammonites, but no one has ever found two different kinds of ammonite together in the same rockbed. This lack of mixing stongly implies that the rockbeds have different ages.

    The first part of this is hardly a prediction, since it was known in Darwins time, and also so general as to apply to most versions of ID and “scientific creationism”. The specifics of the prediction, involving dinosaurs and trilobites, isn’t a prediction of NeoDarwinism, since nothing in that theory seems to preclude trilobites and dinosaurs from coexisting. It’s actually a tentative conclusion based on what we have seen in the fossil record. That’s data, not a theory. That the fossil record is incomplete is something that most participants in this discussion would agree with. If we find them coexisting, that merely creates a conflict with our current understanding of the fossil record.

  39. Roger R said

    In “The Origin Of Species” (1859), Darwin said:
    “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.” – Chapter VI, Difficulties Of The Theory

    This challenge has not been met. In the ensuing 140 years, no such thing has been found. Plants give away nectar and fruit, but they get something in return. Taking care of other members of one’s own species (kin selection) doesn’t count, so ants and bees (and mammalian milk) don’t count.

    And how would one answer that challenge? If you were to design an experiment to address the issue, how would you do so? Most Darwinians have so confused “fitness” and “surviving to reproduction”, that the issue becaomes a tautological one. When we come across structures which we don’t understand, we don’t consider the challenge mastered, but our understanding flawed or insufficient. And while that’s a reasonable assumption, it does make addressing the challenge difficult.

    Darwin was very clever in the way he put the onus on his critics, but didn’t address whether the challenges are scientifically practicable.

  40. Newsdiver said

    I still like Ben, though I think he won me over with the Visine commercials more than anything. He’s not going to win me over with intelligent design, however, if that is indeed his position. I agree with the late Mr. Sagan, who asserted on Cosmos many years ago that evolution is fact, not theory. The fossil record has more than enough evidence, Sagan said, to seal the debate. Obviously his words haven’t stuck. If evolution isn’t correct, then what are witnessing in stellar nurseries and evolving solar systems throughout the galaxy? We have to move past the geologic strata of a single planet. As usual, we don’t examine the big picture. The ultimate question is who put the Big Bang in motion. I’m content to say “God,” who I think is an architect, not an illusionist like Copperfield.

  41. dgandhi said

    In Atheism there is a general agreement that there are 2 categories: ’soft atheist’ and ‘hard atheist’. I despise the hard Atheists because they are hypocrites because they make a leap of faith to arrive at their conclusion and they can’t do that if they claim to be people of science and reason.

    What leap of faith? We only make the same “leap of faith” which you make when you decide that the tooth-fairy does not exist. Looking at the universe we see no indication of “spiritual” or “magical” forces, so we don’t think they exist.

    While you may argue that does not PROVE they don’t exist, nor have we proven that the tooth-fairy does not exist but we don’t argue over the absolutism we all take on that issue. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody here would accept the teaching of the tooth-fairy as a “possible” historical character in history class in public schools, and that is, after all the whole issue with ID.

    science and reason do not require penultimate doubt in all things. For example we do not give credence to the aristotle’s geo-centric “alternate theory” of gravity, as it is experimentally falsified. It should be taught in history class, but not in science class.

    ID has made predictions, Behe makes what appear to be ID’s only scientific predictions with his examples of irreducible complexity. Contrary to the claims of martydom by ID proponents like Stein, Behe has not been silenced, ignored or lost his job. Scientific journals has published more then a dozen peer reviewed studies which have looked into Behe’s claims, they have found counterexamples to every one, thereby falsifying the only science that ID has yet offered.

    ID has been offered full scientific privilege, the privilege to be proven wrong, that is what science does. If ID proponents don’t like the scrutiny of science, they should stop saying they want their assertions to be treated as science.

  42. Roger R said

    Scientific journals has published more then a dozen peer reviewed studies which have looked into Behe’s claims, they have found counterexamples to every one, thereby falsifying the only science that ID has yet offered.

    Ah yes, one of the two main criticisms of ID. That it has been falsified. The other being that it can’t be falsified. Not sure how we can reconcile those two claims. That aside, maybe you can point me to the falsification of his famous claim about the bacterial flagellum being IC. I’m not just talking about somebody disagreeing, but about evidence that it is false.

    Haven’t seen it yet, but maybe you can point me to the correct location.

  43. onein6billion said

    “Not sure how we can reconcile those two claims”

    ID “theory” can’t be falsified because it does not make any predictions.

    ID people try to claim that evolution can’t explain the flagellum, therefore ID/creationism is the only other choice. So IC is anti-evolution, not positive ID. But IC has been falsified.

    “point me to the falsification of his famous claim about the bacterial flagellum being IC”

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_1.html

    But watch out for the creationist website that says don’t go there because everything on the talk origins website is lies. 🙂

  44. Chris said

    Fair warning: I don’t tolerate this idiocy here — “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” It’s a poor excuse for argument, in my book, and if you think I’m unreasonable, then don’t read my book. Next FSM comment gets deleted.

    It’s not an argument, it’s a joke! Too bad you don’t have a sense of humor!

  45. Matthew said

    (>_<)

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