Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

Ami Chopine (
Mon, 5 Apr 1999 13:05:39 -0700

----- Original Message -----
From: Kevin O'Brien <>
To: Moorad Alexanian <>; Howard J. Van Till
<>; ASA Listserve <>; Evolution
Listserve <>
Sent: Sunday, April 04, 1999 2:22 PM
Subject: Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

> >Moorad:
> >There is a difference between developing (creating) a theory and
> >understanding what has already been developed.
> >
> Kevin:
> No, there isn't, and that's the point you keep missing.
Creative processes, and comprehension processes are quite different.

> >
> >Let us face it there are
> >plenty of people that cannot understand even the basic essentials of
> >science.
> >
> Remember what I wrote about the stumbling blocks that keep people from
> understanding an idea? I'll repeat them here: "The stumbling blocks are
> lack of education, a lack of source material to study, ignorance of the
> existence of the concept, a lack of confidence, a lack of interest or
> stubborn refusal. Once these are overcome, I believe anyone can learn
> anything, intelligence notwithstanding." As I said, my experience (as a
> teacher, lecturer, debator, tutor and scientist) has been that this is

I have worked with mentally handicapped people who could never understand
what you are teaching. The people you are coming up against already have
the comprehension and desire to put themselves within the system where they
must meet a teacher of scientific concepts. Unless you teach basic, GE
courses, there is another group who may be in college and quite intellgent,
but their bent is in another direction and they would also find it
limitingly difficult to study certain scientific concepts. There is a line
somewhere where people simply cannot understand it.
> >
> >I suppose in evolutionary theory speech is cheap.
> >Not so in the frontiers of physics, for instance. Things are tough!
> >
> I am not what you would call a highly intelligent person. I got C's in
> biochemistry, I barely understood evolutionary theory when it was first
> taught to me, and I am not now a theorist (I'm good with my hands, not my
> mind). But I have had no trouble understanding the most esoteric of
> cutting-edge physics, because I had good teachers who were able to explain
> everything so that I could understand it. (The same has been true of my
> profession as well; with two exceptions, I've learned more about
> biochemistry, protein chemistry and enzymology from my PIs than I did in
> college.)

Aren't you simply validating Moorad's point that people can understand
theories, yet not create them?

Ami Chopine