Re: [asa] Expelled and ID

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Apr 23 2008 - 20:16:45 EDT

At the risk of sounding anti-science, which I don't think I am, I don't see
how you can gainsay that institutional science is skewed by agendas and
viewpoints that aren't always objectively scientific. Institutional science
is driven by funding. Funding is allocated by a relatively small,
relatively non-diverse segment of both the general public and the scientific
community, and the mechanisms and procedures of funding are truly accessible
only to an equally small and non-diverse population.

Moreover, in some areas, particularly public health and pharmaceuticals,
funding mechanisms are heavily influenced by intellectual property rights,
markets, and multinational corporate interests. The data is the data, but
the question of which data gets developed -- which research programs get
funded -- is heavily influenced by social, cultural and economic factors
that may have little to do with scientific merit or the broader pursuit of

(I am not here suggesting that claims of peer review bias against ID
advocates have merit. That in particular isn't my bailiwick, but I do
believe that peer review is not as objective as it is often made out to be).

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
(ASA Member)
On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 6:05 PM, Dennis Venema <> wrote:
> The notion that one's science is skewed by one's viewpoint seems to be an
> increasingly popular one  and a view I find confusing. Yes, an individual
> scientist might have a bias  but the data is the data  and the experiments
> are open to repeating by anyone who wishes. The fact that scientists from
> hugely diverse backgrounds (ethnic, religious, socio/economic) participate
> in science will weed out bias of opinion/interpretation that doesn't have a
> basis in evidence.
> Compare this with ID, which is pushed by a very un-diverse crowd (mostly
> white, male, north american Christians / theists), and produces no testable
> predictions, let alone evidence to speak of.
> dennis
> On 4/23/08 2:45 PM, "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <> wrote:
>   Why is there not objectivity to methodological naturalism? What is
> demanded is an empirical test, something which is in principle repeatable. I
> will grant that there is no a priori demarcation that can determine what can
> be tested. The fact is that physical measurements were first made and
> testable theories presented. Galileo and Kepler used geometry, which was
> changed to the calculus by Newton to allow more subtle measurement and
> prediction. Later various individuals found ways to work out other
> relationships. What was once deemed the sole ability of living things was
> shown to occur within test tubes. I note that there are still individuals
> who refuse to recognize string theory as science because it has not been
> possible to perform certain empirical tests. Others claim that there are
> tests, just not the supertests requiring galaxy size cyclotrons.
> To prevent one response, I note that there is no such thing at
> unconditional objectivity. It is subjects that observe.
> Now, if someone can produce an empirical test for design that has not been
> produced by human agency, one that is not question-begging, ID can claim a
> place among the sciences. As it is, it's sole claim to testability has been
> that the writer has not been able to figure out how something came to be.
> But other individuals keep coming up with at least steps that explain part
> of the gap in understanding.
> Empirical testing is not the only approach to understanding. Indeed,
> almost the whole realm of philosophy is immune from such tests. The one
> philosophical theory I think of that fails on empirical grounds is
> Schopenhauer's pessimism. It requires that negatives mount up without limit
> during life, whereas the fact of human existence is that bad things tend to
> be forgotten more than good things. But that the usual sole test for
> philosophical theories is consistency means that there are several that
> stand, and such things as solipsism that cannot be disproved even though
> nobody who will communicate with us is a solipsist. I note additionally that
> one of the common failures of fiction is internal inconsistency, though we
> do not demand that all fiction match the observed world.
> Dave (ASA)
> On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 17:07:07 -0400 "David Opderbeck" <>
> writes:
> George C. said:  Science is a realm to itself, one that is based on
>  objectivity.
> I respond:  This is surely overstated.  The criterion of  methodological
> naturalism, for example, is not an "objective" one.  It  represents, rather,
> a human judgment about the pragmatic bounds of the  human enterprise our
> culture labels "science."  It may or may not be  a reasonable demarcation
> line for its own purposes, but it isn't an  "objective" line.  Which means
> arguments over whether ID is "science"  ultimately are meaningless.  Who
> cares, except for the culture warriors  who want to fight about public
> school curricula?  The interesting  question is whether anything ID says is
> "true."
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Received on Wed Apr 23 20:18:29 2008

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