Re: [asa] Denyse's advice

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon May 07 2007 - 13:56:15 EDT

> (I think, BTW, that we can now see that his conciliatory remarks about ID at the 2005 ASA meeting were probably hypocritical.)<

Hypocrisy may be a lack of consistency (unconscious or failing to
think about consistency), or it may be willful intent to deceive.

The inconsistency of ID on topics such as this sound to me like
efforts to say what seems to suit the audience, without taking care
about consistency, rather than deliberate intent to mislead.
Nevertheless, it is inconherent.

The definition of science argument conflates multiple issues:
What is the best semantic boundary to set in demarcating science
versus non-science in light of current use of the word?
Should the supernatural be excluded by definition from science?
Can science provide much useful information about the supernatural?
To the extent that ID claims are scientific, are they good science?

Complaints that the supernatural was once more prominent in science
conflates past definition (e.g., regarding theology as a science) with
the social changes that make expression of theological views less
common in a generally scientific context (contrasting the frequent
theological dedications or postscripts in past centuries).

To me, the ID complaint that the possibility of the supernatural is
being arbitrarily excluded has some merit. Cf. the thread on claiming
that non-scientifically detectable deities are irrelevant. When
science is defined as excluding the supernatural, failure to
scientifically detect the supernatural is merely a circular argument.

On the other hand, many ID claims are either bad science or outside of
my understanding of what constitutes science. The latter category of
claims can include perfectly legitimate claims, but classified under a
different heading than "science". For example, I would tend to regard
the inference of "design" from absence of alternative explanations as
a conclusion drawn from the failure of science to explain, rather than
a scientific conclusion.

After all, ID efforts do seek to exclude a fair amount of the
supernatural from consideration as well. The point of ID is to
produce "scientific" evidence. For example, I don't think any ID
advocate would present an argument that he had received enlightenment
from prolonged meditation. Rather, the claim is made that
investigation of physical data using physical methods leads to their

Nelson, in a debate here, seemed to be conveying the idea that
acceptance of astrology [I don't think that specific example was
invoked], etc. as qualifying as science went closely with the
observation that they were (by present data) bad science.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon May 7 13:56:38 2007

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