RE: Behe testimony at Dover trial

From: Freeman, Louise Margaret <>
Date: Thu Oct 20 2005 - 13:30:35 EDT

> This definition does not actually represent how scientists usually use
> the
> word in their technical writing. To witness this fact, perform a PubMed
> search for the phrase "new theory" (go to pub med and type " "new
> theory" "
> [leave in the double quotes]) and you'll find hundreds of hits showing
> scientists using the word "theory" to describe a "new" idea which can
> explain a lot of things, but may not yet be "well-substantiated" and
> may not
> yet enjoy evidentiary support from many scientific studies.
> Many scientists who have used the phrase "new theory" use the term
> based
> upon the new findings of a single study. The phrase "new theory" is
> antithetical to the idea of "extensive observation, experimentation,
> and
> creative reflection" and the phrase should not exist in scientific
> literature if the NAS is correct in its definition.

I looked for some of these new theories in PubMed and you indeed get plenty
of hits (over 700), exactly as you say. Many of these theories are indeed
based on a single study. Glancing through the abstracts, some of the
examples Pubmed pulls up include the idea that BSE or( "mad cow disease" )
has a human rather than animal origin, a connectionist model for the memory
retrieval process of single digit multiplication and a molecular explanation
for nitroglycerine resistance.

IMHO (and I think NAS would agree) these ideas are better termed "models" or
"hypotheses" but, semantics aside, I see no reason any of these "new
theories" would ever be considered for inclusion (or even mention) in a high
school science class, let alone why such a mention would be mandated by a
school board. Is intelligent design really such a much more useful or more
widely supported "new theory" that it warrents mention now?

>The problem with astrology is not that it could have fit the NAS or Behe's
definition of science 500 years ago. The problem is that it is not supported
by the evidence. That is why, unlike ID, no serious scientists are
advocating astrology as a good theory which could be presented to students
in science classrooms. Nor do serious academics reference the peer-reviewed
scientific literature in support of astrology, as serious scientists do for
ID. <<

If we're going to use "hits on PubMed" as a criteria for what is accepted
science, here are some more interesting observations.

"New theory" combined with "intelligent design": no hits.
"theory" combined with "intelligent design" one hit, a news (not
a-peer-reviewed research report) article from Nature concerning the
publication of Meyer's ID article (later disowned) in a relatively obscure
peer-reviewed journal.
The name Behe [au] combined with either "new theory" or "intelligent design"
yielded nothing. Neither did the name Dembski.
"Intelligent design" alone yielded only 25 hits, many of which are news
articles about the ID controversy, book reviews or editorials saying that ID
has no place in science. A few are in unrelated areas like ergonomics or
human cognition.
"Astrology", in contrast, gave me 233 hits, "alchemy" 372 and "extrasensory
perception" 31.

So, where is this peer-reviewed literature supporting the new,
"so-important-we-have-to-get-it-in-the-high-school-texts-now" theory of
intelligent design?

And are any "serious scientists" outside of the Discovery Institute truly
consulting it?
Received on Thu Oct 20 13:31:51 2005

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