Re: [asa] A Message from the RTB Scholar Team (fwd)

From: Stephen Matheson <smatheso@calvin.edu>
Date: Thu Apr 17 2008 - 16:15:07 EDT

"Guarded optimism?" Okay, I can do that. :-)

And I'll go a step further. As disturbing as RTB's misconduct can be, its apologists have consistently avoided culture war posturing. They can't be believed when they say they respect biologists, but they should be commended not just for this one letter but for their steadfast refusal to heed the call to arms. I think this is partly due to their apologetic/evangelistic mission and partly to the fact that -- unlike the thuggish Discovery Institute crowd -- they seem to be genuinely decent guys.

It seems to me that it would take relatively little for RTB to become respectable, with regard to intellectual integrity. They wouldn't need to abandon any of their main themes or beliefs (as silly and dangerous as many of them are). They would need only to acknowledge the explanatory power of common descent, disavow the kind of folk scientific dishonesty that characterizes their work on biological origins, and correct their serious but not overwhelmingly common errors. The Discovery Institute, by contrast, was built from the beginning on culture war and intellectual dishonesty. Their efforts are, in my view, unredeemable.

Steve
 
>>> "Rich Blinne" <rich.blinne@gmail.com> 04/17/08 3:36 PM >>>
On Thu, Apr 17, 2008 at 12:21 PM, Stephen Matheson <smatheso@calvin.edu>
wrote:

>
> So, yes, kudos to RTB for eschewing the brainless and suicidal call to
> culture war. But don't be fooled: Reasons To Believe is an embarrassing
> repository of potentially dangerous folk science, and their breaches of
> professional scientific integrity should be cause for significant concern.
> And don't be too impressed by their claim to respect the scientific
> community on common descent. Polite contempt is still contempt.
>

Nevertheless, it is good to know there is a line there. Folk science eschews
no argument if it advances the "ideology". In this case, the evidence around
RTB -- namely that secular scientists are not oppressors -- overrode their
folk science. And it's not merely the physics v. biology thing either
because Dr. Gonzalez was one of the "expelled". Your blog makes a compelling
case for folk science at RTB but -- call me naive -- I find this letter as a
reason for guarded optimism.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Thu Apr 17 16:16:33 2008

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