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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  02:19:17  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I was trying to figure out why the discussions about 'what is a theory' and 'ID isn't science' aren't making any inroads in resisting the move to include these non-scientific themes in biology and science classes in the US.

I knew deep down there was something wrong with the discussion being about 'ID' or 'alternative theories'. And I was trying to figure out how to change the argument to have it instantly make sense to people. When someone presents the argument as, "we just want alternative theories taught", it has a certain amount of credibility. Who wouldn't want alternative theories taught when there are alternative theories with any credibility.

But with the argument discussed in terms of alternative theories, evolution advocates seem to stumble. We try to explain there is no evidence. We try to explain ID is not a valid theory. We try to explain what a theory is. All of these concepts require the non scientific thinker to make judgments about whether evidence they are unfamiliar with is credible. It is too complex for instant recognition about what the problem with teaching ID really is.

We need to define the argument in science terms, but in this case 'marketing science terms', not the usual terms one thinks of as science. We need to define the argument on our terms. In other words, take the argument away from those who are manipulating it with the motivation of making science fit the Bible. Let's discuss the argument on our terms.

So how does one do that. It finally came to me as I was posting to yet another thread on what's wrong with teaching ID. The problem is not with teaching alternative theories to evolution. If there are any, bring them on.

The real problem is irreducible complexity has been disproved by overwhelming genetic evidence. For that matter, macro evolution only has been disproved by overwhelming evidence. Whenever someone says, "teach ID", we should answer, "we would but it's based completely on irreducible complexity and that has been disproved".

When we let the IDers identify the problem as needing to teach alternative theories, they win that argument. When we change the argument to we can teach ID but we'll be teaching there is no evidence to support it, we win the argument.

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  06:10:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
quote:
For that matter, macro evolution only has been disproved by overwhelming evidence.


Typo?



Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  06:44:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
But beskeptigal! You still run into similar problems. Imagine this conversation:

ID-believing person: We need to have alternative theories like ID taught in our schools.

Skeptic: We would but it's based completely on irreducible complexity and that has been disproved.

IDer: Really? How? How is 5% of an eye any good? Without all the parts working, blah blah blah

And then the Skeptic/evolutionist is left going over the same science-heavy arguments that have been used before. Yes, I know that there are good arguments to explain they eye, but obviously not everyone does.

I think that once we get to the "there need to be alternate theories like ID" argument, we've already lost-- it's too late. The person making this claim has already been brainwashed by the fundie-Christian/conservative blitzkrieg.

For those on the far right, evolution is no longer about science. It's about ideology. Evolution represents the left, and all the evil things that go with it. Convinve them that it's wrong, and you've brought them one step closer to your own ideology, and thus a lifetime of votes.

Well, my rant is moving away from creation/evolution to politics, so I'll stop. But my point-- in case I didn't make it clear-- is that there more to it, I think, and that at that point where we're debating about ID the debate's already over.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  12:55:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude

quote:
For that matter, macro evolution only has been disproved by overwhelming evidence.


Typo?




Yep. Should say 'no macro-evolution' has been disproved. Even now I have to think about how to word it.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  13:10:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Cune, I understand your point. And I agree to some degree. But since genetic research has revealed how you go from no eye to an eye, that is where we need to direct the conversation. When it gets re-directed to 'teach alternative theories' we need to drag it back.

I've been looking at the ID debate in the papers. Which question is asked is being controlled by the IDers. It comes down to marketing techniques. We rationalize, educate, demonstrate, etc., and think the public will say, "Aha!". That has been the method I've seen science advocates adopt on almost every occasion.

I have said this before but it bears repeating. When you impart knowledge and see no change, it's time to reassess if you are dealing with a knowledge deficit or something else. There are religious fundies who will die still believing unless we find 'the missing link' evolution can't be 'proved'. Those guys are beyond hope.

One thing we don't want is those guys controlling the debate. That's why I say we need to control the debate by controlling the question.

The reason for wanting to control the debate is to reach all those folks who are either not yet informed, those open to reason, and some of those on the fence. These are the people we lose the minute we don't control the question.

Hey, I'm taking my cue from Carl Rove. It does matter.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  14:09:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I don't want to hijack RW's thread so I am responding here.
quote:
Originally posted by R.Wreck

A good article on evolution & Ernst Mayr in the Chicago Tribune.

quote:
Despite its--and other--scientific advances in the 20th Century, evolution is under assault in America. People with thinly disguised religious and political agendas are demanding that alternative "theories" with euphemistic names such as "creation science" and "intelligent design" be given the same or greater weight than evolution in our textbooks and classrooms.

But thanks to people like Mayr, there is a big difference between these theories and the theory of evolution. That difference is science. Mayr took Darwin's abstract theory of evolution and turned it into the science of evolutionary biology.

.......

Conversely, proponents of alternative theories such as intelligent design cannot produce a single testable, repeatable experiment to support their position. They want us to take it on faith. They argue that some things in nature are so complex that they must have been designed by a higher being and that there is some greater purpose in the universe.

Pre-Darwin religion

They're especially fond of tired examples and arguing from analogy--the old "watch must have a watchmaker" kind of fuzzy logic familiar to 18th and 19th Century minds. That doesn't sound like science to me; it sounds like religion before the age of Darwin. And here's the irony: While they would like you to believe that their arguments have the support of current mainstream religions, they do not.
Nice to see someone clearly stating the difference between science and nonsense. I can't wait for the letters to the editor from IDers and other fundies.

Here's an example that illustrates my point. While this is a good piece, it fails to turn the question from 'should alternatives be taught' to 'ID is not a viable theory'. It seems to turn the question by answering why ID is not a viable theory. But the one thing IDers have correct, alternatives should be taught remains unaddressed.

I would first answer the alternatives question to dismiss it. "Yes, it is correct, alternatives should be taught." Get it out of the argument. When that isn't done, it remains the question and IDers remain in control. I know it sounds irrelevant, but it isn't.

This subtle marketing technique is very effective. I believe it is why the answers from science about why ID does not belong in the classroom are falling on deaf ears.
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R.Wreck
SFN Regular

USA
1191 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  15:06:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send R.Wreck a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal:

I would first answer the alternatives question to dismiss it. "Yes, it is correct, alternatives should be taught." Get it out of the argument. When that isn't done, it remains the question and IDers remain in control. I know it sounds irrelevant, but it isn't.



Or would it be more correct (or complete) to say: "Yes, it is correct, alternative theories should be taught. Get back to me when you have a credible one."? It seems that if you dismiss the question by answering in the affirmative, without pointing out that that the "alternative" suggested is crap, you haven't gained anything. Or am I missing your point?


The foundation of morality is to . . . give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibliities of knowledge.
T. H. Huxley

The Cattle Prod of Enlightened Compassion
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2005 :  17:51:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
I know what i have to say is oversimplified, but I think it still has some validity.

I have a sneaking suspicion that any kind of "intellectual" approach to this problem is going to fail, at least in the short-term. Most people haven't got the time/energy to read up on these kinds of issues, and if they did, they might not have the right mind-set to comprehend them. Science is not necessarily intuitive and can be difficult to grasp. A long term solution would be to have better science education. By this I don't necessarily mean that we need to have more time spent in science classes. More important is to teach (from whatever age kids are able to comprehend it) HOW scietific results are produced, and WHY the methods used are important. My own recollection of science education is that you are taught a lot of disparate facts (a lot of WHATs) that have to be recalled at a later test (this continued at university level). You could have this for 8 hours/day, 5 days/week without really knowing anything worthwile about science.

But even if someone has basic knowledge about science and can understand something "intellectually" they might still not accept it because of for example emotional reasons. So, instead of appealing to peoples brains, it could be more beneficial appealing to their hearts/stomachs/chakras/energy-fields/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Unfortunately, science doesn't seem to have the charismatic show-people that creationism has (think Kend Hovind) who can charm/appeal to the masses (science doesn't have the luxury of being able to lie at will either, but that's a side point). These people are sorely needed. I know that for example Richard Dawkins is doing his fair share, as did the late Stephen J Gould, but I think their main readers were mainly people already interested in science. Robert Winston would be another example, but his programs (BBC) can sometimes simplify things to the extent that they are wrong.

A last option for dealing with the ID/creationism problem: Wait for it to go away on its own. Just like peoples tastes in clothes/music/movies change over time, so do peoples belief in religion. It might happen that in a few years time (when dubya has left power in the case of the US) that people simply loose interest in the whole issue. This might of course be wishful thinking on my behalf, and the ID/creationists could in any case by then have a foothold in the classroom that is difficult to get rid of. But on the other hand, science has managed to handle that before.


So my "solutions" to the ID/creationism problem:
1. Proper science education (ie, HOW are scientific results produced).
2. Appeal to the masses (there are more charismatic scientific spokespeople needed).
3. Ride it out. Fashions come and go, and so will religious ideas.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2005 :  01:44:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
Or, when somebody says that "alternate theories" should be taught, ask them what theories.

If they answer ID, then just laugh and request they present evidence to support ID.

That way you draw them into the trap they have drawn others into so well over the years, of attempting to explain details.

Use the same tactic they use, and demand how improper use of statistics and the faulty logic of irriducible complexity are evidence when they cannot withstand even cursory examination?


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2005 :  05:40:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Hawks

I know what i have to say is oversimplified, but I think it still has some validity.

I have a sneaking suspicion that any kind of "intellectual" approach to this problem is going to fail, at least in the short-term. Most people haven't got the time/energy to read up on these kinds of issues, and if they did, they might not have the right mind-set to comprehend them. Science is not necessarily intuitive and can be difficult to grasp. A long term solution would be to have better science education. By this I don't necessarily mean that we need to have more time spent in science classes. More important is to teach (from whatever age kids are able to comprehend it) HOW scietific results are produced, and WHY the methods used are important. My own recollection of science education is that you are taught a lot of disparate facts (a lot of WHATs) that have to be recalled at a later test (this continued at university level). You could have this for 8 hours/day, 5 days/week without really knowing anything worthwile about science.

But even if someone has basic knowledge about science and can understand something "intellectually" they might still not accept it because of for example emotional reasons. So, instead of appealing to peoples brains, it could be more beneficial appealing to their hearts/stomachs/chakras/energy-fields/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Unfortunately, science doesn't seem to have the charismatic show-people that creationism has (think Kend Hovind) who can charm/appeal to the masses (science doesn't have the luxury of being able to lie at will either, but that's a side point). These people are sorely needed. I know that for example Richard Dawkins is doing his fair share, as did the late Stephen J Gould, but I think their main readers were mainly people already interested in science. Robert Winston would be another example, but his programs (BBC) can sometimes simplify things to the extent that they are wrong.

A last option for dealing with the ID/creationism problem: Wait for it to go away on its own. Just like peoples tastes in clothes/music/movies change over time, so do peoples belief in religion. It might happen that in a few years time (when dubya has left power in the case of the US) that people simply loose interest in the whole issue. This might of course be wishful thinking on my behalf, and the ID/creationists could in any case by then have a foothold in the classroom that is difficult to get rid of. But on the other hand, science has managed to handle that before.


So my "solutions" to the ID/creationism problem:
1. Proper science education (ie, HOW are scientific results produced).
2. Appeal to the masses (there are more charismatic scientific spokespeople needed).
3. Ride it out. Fashions come and go, and so will religious ideas.



I agree, wholeheartedly.
Science has the stigma of being something impersonal, hard to swallow and to understand. Rare are the scientists that actually aim for the layman public.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2005 :  03:34:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by R.Wreck

quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal:

I would first answer the alternatives question to dismiss it. "Yes, it is correct, alternatives should be taught." Get it out of the argument. When that isn't done, it remains the question and IDers remain in control. I know it sounds irrelevant, but it isn't.



Or would it be more correct (or complete) to say: "Yes, it is correct, alternative theories should be taught. Get back to me when you have a credible one."? It seems that if you dismiss the question by answering in the affirmative, without pointing out that that the "alternative" suggested is crap, you haven't gained anything. Or am I missing your point?



You only missed half the point, that's not bad.

You do need to direct the debate after dismissing the question we agree on. Everyone agrees alternatives should be taught. But there are good reasons ID is not an alternative......
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2005 :  03:38:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Hawks

....
So my "solutions" to the ID/creationism problem:
1. Proper science education (ie, HOW are scientific results produced).
2. Appeal to the masses (there are more charismatic scientific spokespeople needed).
3. Ride it out. Fashions come and go, and so will religious ideas.


1 - definitely, 2 - definitely, 3 - In the long run yes, but in the short run I don't know. These guys have an organized campaign going on to change school science to include their religion.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/16/2005 :  03:45:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Here's my post on this from the BABB forum for those of you who don't go there. I also have this same thread on JREF.

An article about the strategies being used by ID'ers and what they hope to accomplish was posted by SciFiChick on the BABB.

My reply was:

That article belongs in this thread. I saw it last night but it was soooo depressing I had to wait to start analyzing it. I almost wanted to say the article makes my argument seem like I'm too late. We are beyond re-directing the question. But then I looked again. It's just that the IDers here are focusing on two questions, neither of which is about ID. The question of teaching alternatives and the claim evolution is truly doubted are both wedge strategies that avoid the question of is ID valid. I merely underestimated the situation in thinking the re-direction was only on one front when it is on two fronts.

(For the discussion, the article quotes are in italics.)

Here is description after description from the words of the IDers focusing, not on the science, but on the strategy.

    polished strategy crafted by activists
    calculated pleas to teach what advocates consider gaps
    Discovery Institute spends more than $1 million a year for research, polls and media pieces supporting intelligent design.
    using lawsuits and school board debates to counter evolutionary theory.
    new strategy speaks of "teaching the controversy"
    The [Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Discovery Institute] said the move, along with the creation of a Center for Science and Theology, was central to developing a "comprehensive Christian worldview."
    "We'll take money from anyone who wants to give it to us," Meyer said.
    They formed Intelligent Design Network Inc., which draws interested legislators and activists to an annual Darwin, Design and Democracy conference.
    The 2001 conference presented itsWedge of Truth award to members
    "The strategy this time
    If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance.


Here are examples of controlling the question.

    it is the anti-evolutionary scientists and Christian activists who say they are the ones being persecuted, by a liberal establishment
    a school board member in a Tennessee county wants stickers pasted on textbooks that say evolution remains unproven.
    "It's an academic freedom proposal. What we would like to foment is a civil discussion about science. That falls right down the middle of the fairway of American pluralism,"
    "Anyone who expresses anything other than the dominant worldview is shunned and booted from the academy," Santorum said in an interview. "My reading of the science is there's a legitimate debate. My feeling is let the debate be had."
    "teaching the controversy"
    "Kids need to understand it, but they need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the data, how much of it is a guess, how much of it is extrapolation."


We know the real agenda.

    "The movement is a veneer over a certain theological message. Every one of these groups is now actively engaged in trying to undercut sound science education by criticizing evolution," said Barry W. Lynn,
    "If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."


The strategy is working.

    Alabama and Georgia legislators recently introduced bills to allow teachers to challenge evolutionary theory in the classroom.
    Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution
    "As the Christian right has success on a variety of issues, it emboldens them to expand their agenda," Hankins said. "When they have losses . . . it gives them fuel for their fire."
    [Bush emboldened them] by declaring that the jury is still out on evolution.
    That approach appeals to Cindy Duckett, a Wichita mother who believes public school leaves many religious children feeling shut out. Teaching doubts about evolution, she said, is "more inclusive. I think the more options, the better."
    "If students only have one thing to consider, one option, that's really more brainwashing," said Duckett, who sent her children to Christian schools because of her frustration. Students should be exposed to the Big Bang, evolution, intelligent design "and, beyond that, any other belief that a kid in class has. It should all be okay."


Here's the real kicker from that article:

"Everyone has motives. Let's acknowledge that and get on with the interesting part."

Scientists: The IDers are motivated by religion.
IDers: Yes, we are. Everyone has motives. Now let's get to the real question.

They know how to dismiss the smoke screen and re-direct the debate, exactly what I am saying we need to do.
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