Re: [asa] The Myth of the Rejected ID Paper (science stoppers and OOL)

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Sat Jul 05 2008 - 10:26:49 EDT

On Jul 4, 2008, at 3:35 PM, Murray Hogg wrote:

> Hi Pim,
> I don't disagree entirely with your remarks in the below, except to
> say that I think that you more demonstrate the weakness of ID rather
> than it's status as a "science stopper".
> What I'm thinking is that ID theorists have tried - and I mean
> really tried - to construct a viable argument in support of the view
> that the bacterial flagellum (to cite the favored instance!) did
> indeed go "poof". I really think this cannot be fairly denied.
> So ID theorists demonstrably haven't just announced "irreducible
> complexity" and walked away. They don't, in other words, just take
> "poof" as the end point of their discussion, but attempt to
> demonstrate that "poof" really is a meaningful hypothesis.
> In this regard while they may well have started with ignorance ("we
> don't know") they have attempted to demonstrate impossibility ("not
> naturally possible").
> The real issue, as you correctly point out, then becomes whether
> this move from ignorance to impossibility has been successfully made.
> I would have suggested that the answer, at this point, is "no" - but
> I also would have suggested that this "no" comes AFTER a fair degree
> of effort on the part of ID theorists. Hence my feel that while ID
> is probably not a sustainable position it is not, in my opinion,
> correctly described as a science stopper. Scientifically unfruitful,
> perhaps, but a "science stopper"?
> Here I'd throw in the observation that even the most prominent ID
> theorists such as Behe and Dembski don't seem to have abandoned
> science in favor of golf - rather they have bent their scientific
> endeavors in a different direction. If that direction doesn't
> involve pursuit of evidence which might overturn their theory then I
> don't really think they can be criticized. One holds a theory
> because it seems to one to be the best explanation of the evidence
> and the job of disproof falls to those who feel otherwise. I don't
> think it quite fair to blame ID theorists for not doing somebody
> else's research.

ID hasn't abandoned science for golf but they have abandoned it for
relativistic politics. It's not that they have had no effort but where
the effort has been placed. I have had clearly shown there has been no
science done but there has been a lot of politics, public relations,
court cases, and legislative activities. Take Michael Behe for example
he didn't publish his concept of irreducible complexity in a
scientific journal he went straight to a book. The Wedge Document
stated as a goal 100s of papers PRIOR TO their political activities.
It's that premature declaration of victory which is a large part of
the problem. Pons and Fleischman had more evidence for their so-called
cold fusion. They submitted it to peer review where no one could
replicate their results and that was the end of cold fusion. That's
how bad hypotheses get thrown on the trash heap but since ID didn't do
that we still have to deal with their bad hypotheses decades after we
should. Note also even for the relatively small benefit of finding the
holes ID is making little progress repeating the same talking points
for decades.

In 1987, Allan Bloom wrote the best-selling book, The Closing of the
American Mind. He was concerned the new "openness" coming from the
radical left actually closed the mind. The reason why was relativism.
As long as someone came up with an idea it was to be considered
regardless whether that idea was true or not. Think of it as the
original "teach the controversy". Bloom was most concerned about the
humanities but was relatively sanguine about the sciences. Why?
Because the sciences tested their ideas against the facts. Two other
things that happened in 1987 was the repeal of the so-called Fairness
Doctrine and Edwards v. Aguillard. The Fairness Doctrine was used by
relativists on both the right and left to get their ideas out. As I
said in a previous post on climate change the George Marshall
Institute used the Fairness Doctrine to sue PBS over coverage of
physicists and SDI. It didn't matter that there might have been
thousands of physicists on one side and three on the other, the
Fairness Doctrine argued for "balance". As I also stated previously,
The Marshall Institute went straight to the public rather than go
through peer-reviewed journals. It's this destructive practice that
would ultimately make Bloom's confidence that relativism wouldn't
infect the sciences because they were fact-based to be misplaced.

Here's what Michael J.W. Stickings, a disciple of Bloom, had to say to
say in 2005 of the connection between what Bloom feared and ID:
> Note what the proponents of intelligent design — here, the advocates
> of its inclusion alongside evolution and other scientific theories —
> are doing. They’re arguing that all points of view, all
> possibilities, all claimants to the truth, even the most absurd,
> should be considered on an equal basis with one another. Since the
> truth itself is, it seems, largely indeterminate (except for ardent
> creationists, who must be willing to go along with intelligent
> design so as to sneak creationism back into the schools), various
> “truths” may be put on the table — and into the minds of our
> children. In short, they — right-wingers all — have become
> relativists.
> What would Allan Bloom, the teacher of my teachers, say? For years,
> theorists and commentators like Bloom railed against what they saw
> as the encroaching nihilism brought to America by German and French
> philosophy, namely, by the followers of Heidegger. And, to a certain
> extent, they were right, which is why the right, the new R epublican
> Party, has had such success winning the “values” votes. Blue-staters
> on the coasts and in the urban heartland may be quite comfortable
> with some of the softened aspects of postmodernism, such as value
> relativism and multiculturalism, but huge swaths of middle America
> object to what is seen as the political supplanting of their
> theistic and absolute values by the levelling of all values.
> But this is precisely how intelligent design is being sold.
> Creationism won’t work politically in diverse America, but
> intelligent design can be brought in as a substitute, as one value
> among many, as one possible answer to the fundamental questions of
> existence. Which is precisely why the rhetoric has changed (always
> look to the rhetoric, for therein lies the political truth). Frist
> refers to “a pluralistic society,” that is, a society with different
> values, a society without one overarching truth (except, perhaps,
> the absence of any one overarching truth). And Bush calls for more
> “debate,” as if our children, who would be subjected to this debate
> on the origins of life, need to consider all possible options before
> settling on, well, what? Do proponents/advocates of intelligent
> design hope that the teaching of their theory would be the thin end
> of the wedge that reasserts creationism? Or will there simply be
> endless debate? Or are we left with nothing more than infinite
> possible truths, with pluralism run amok? After all, as Sir Humphrey
> Appleby says in the great BBC comedy Yes, Prime Minister to the
> impressionable Bernard Woolley, “anything might be true”. That, for
> now, seems to be where people like Frist are coming from.

Ken Miller in Only a Theory, also invokes Bloom and claims quite
persuasively that ID is destroying science itself because of this
corrosive relativistic effect particularly if science is not grounded
in empirical evidence. In yesterday's post I quoted how Michael Behe
wanted to redefine science but it's not that per se that is the
problem. It's the skipping of the testing and peer review and the
appeal for "balance" and "teaching the controversy" that is. No one
requires ID to submit their ideas to peer review but if they chose to
do that they then cannot slip their ideas in as science through
through the process of relativism and political polarization. We are
raising a generation that do not know what science is because of the
political machinations of a few. This is the basis for Miller's
argument that ID is destroying science as a fact and truth-based
enterprise and IMHO he has an excellent point.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Sat Jul 5 10:27:27 2008

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