Michele Bachmann needs to check her ID

By Phil Plait | June 20, 2011 7:00 am

On Friday, Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — incredibly, a Presidential front-runner for the Republicans — said this:

I support intelligent design […] What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.*

Terrific. But then, in a sense, I agree. That is, when Intelligent Design proponents actually have any science, they should speak up. And if there were any reasonable doubt that would be fine too. But they don’t, and there isn’t.

And ID isn’t science, it’s religion. It was even ruled to be religion by a judge — a conservative Republican judge — so teaching it would be in violation of the Constitution that Representative Bachmann is sworn to uphold.

Just sayin’.


*Incidentally, this quote from her is in response to a question asking her to name Nobel Laureates who support Intelligent Design; she previously made the claim that many do. Note that in her answer quoted above she totally dodges the actual question; she never names a Nobel prize winner who supports ID. Actually, there are a couple who apparently do, but then no doubt some Nobel Prize winners are religious in one form or another… and many have believed in very dubious things. Having a Nobel is not inoculation against nonsense. Interestingly, having said that, I have seen no evidence that any Nobel Laureates in biology favor ID over evolution, however.

Anyway, I’m not a big proponent of "my expert is bigger than your expert"; that’s just a version of argument by authority. In the end, ID must be judged on its merits, and as has been shown countless times, it has none.


Related posts:

SCIENCE WINS IN PENNSYLVANIA!
Heroes of Dover
Creationists still can’t seem to evolve
New creationist tactic: telling the truth?

Comments (155)

  1. Yeah, she’s just parroting the standard Creationist lines. She doesn’t understand the science a bit, probably not even at a high school level. Hell, she doesn’t seem to have a high school level understanding of civics and the Constitution, either.

  2. Daffy

    The politicians are a reflection of our culture. As George Carlin observed, maybe the politicians don’t suck—maybe WE do.

  3. Ethyachk

    Teach the manufactroversy!

  4. NewEnglandBob

    Maybe we all do suck, but Michelle Bachmann absolutely sucks. [The rest of the comment redacted by The Bad Astronomer. NewEnglandBob: I don’t care how much you hate her, what you said is beyond the pale and violates my one commenting policy.]

  5. It is a nice dodge on her part. For a small government candidate it is not an important question at all, but it is still a politically very dangerous one no matter what the answer is to it.

  6. Bob_In_Wales

    A question, not a comment:

    My response to her comment, “putting all science on the table and then letting students decide” is an immediate: they’re not qualified to, they don’t know enough, that is why adults teach children.

    So, the question, ’cause I don’t know the answer: When does trust, confidence in others and essentially a meritocracy descend into the simple fallacy of appeal to authority? Because it feels like that is what my emotional response above is!

    Any comments?

  7. Bachmann can be considered proof that there exist alternate universes. She’s obviously living in one, and isn’t really here in this one. She’s just a quantum ghost. Heck, it’s as true as anything she’s saying.

  8. Some Dude

    Michele Bachmann was unintelligently designed by her parents.

  9. davidlpf

    @ 2 Daffy maybe it is the stonecutters that suck. Since the keep the martians under wraps, keeps the metric down, keep certain a bad astronomy commenter from getting his eagle and I think trying to keep evulotion down.

  10. davidlpf

    @ 6 Bob in Wales You shouldn’t just depend on one person or another. You should do your resaerch and see where the evidence points you.

  11. When we are outside our own are of expertise, we all ultimately rely on ‘authorities’ to inform us. What is an important skill is knowing which authorities to rely upon. It is an especially important skill when the person in question is seeking to lead a nation.

  12. Georg

    This kind of candidate wins alot of votes by the
    so called “Tittenfaktor”, as we call it in German.
    Try Babelfish, maybe it works :=(
    To ease translation be aware, that this is a composed word,
    maybe splitting it in two halves will help.

  13. Dan I.

    @ 4. NewEnglandBob

    Wow, look I disagree with Michelle Bachmann on everything and I think she’s a right-wing nutjob, but to suggest she should commit suicide is just beyond the pale. Let’s not go down that ugly path huh?

  14. Intelligent design–last refuge of scoundrels. I wonder when they will get tired of getting body-slammed in court?

  15. @Bob_In_Wales,

    I agree. Next, she’ll be saying that the students should decide what subjects they get to learn about in school.

    “This just in: School has been reduced to lunch time, recess and free computer time. Math, history, science and all other subjects have been cut. The students who voted on it were quotes as saying ‘But it isn’t fuuuuun!’*”

    * I’m the parent of a 7 year old and he’ll complain if an activity isn’t “fun” (for him). I always respond to his complaints by telling him that sometimes it is important to do something even if that task isn’t fun**.

    ** With the right teacher/teaching style, math, history, science and other subjects can be fun for students to learn. Of course, with the wrong teacher/teaching style, they can be tedious even for those interested in the subjects. If you lose the roll of the die and get a “not fun” teacher, it doesn’t mean you should ditch the subject, though.

  16. @davidlpf,

    The problem is mainly that there is limited class time. You barely have time to teach the basics of evolution, much less time to teach details about it and ID and the “controversy” between the two. Given this, they’ll get a two day “quick introduction” course before needing to move on to a different topic. Of course they will find holes in evolution as taught to them! ID proponents are counting on this. What the students won’t realize is that these holes are just a result of their rushed explanation and that the detailed theory fills in these blanks nicely. It would be sort of like reading the Cliff’s Notes version of a great book and then wondering why everyone considers it such a classic piece of literature.

  17. “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide.”

    Now that is a slippery slope – letting students, who are there to learn, deccide what to be taught. Sure, Michelle. Try that for 10 years and see where it leads the already embattled American school system.

  18. Churba

    “I support intelligent design […] What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

    That is all well and good, ma’am, however, therein lies a problem – if the students were either well educated enough or understand enough to make sense of all the science and make an informed choice on the matter, then wouldn’t they be well past the level of scientific understanding at which it would have been useful to teach them these things?

  19. asking her to name Nobel Laureates who support Intelligent Design

    I support intelligent design

    Perhaps she’s claiming that she is a Nobel Laureate?

  20. Melissa

    Again as a Minnesotan I apologize sincerely for Mrs.Bachmann and the disservice she does for all thinking humans. We at Minnesota Skeptics oppose everything she stands for and if we had our way would gladly erase her existence.

  21. RobT

    Science should be taught in school. If a subject lacks the requirements for being science then it should not be taught as such. However, there are other classes where this subject could be taught. When I was in high school in Montreal, Quebec, we had a class called Moral & Religion. Now, it is not so heavy-handed as it sounds – it was mostly a catch-all for many disparate subjects.

    We learned about different religions and their creation myths, including the Hindus, Greeks, native Americans, etc. But we also learned about health and parenting in this class. There was no religion being taught as science nor were any religious beliefs forced upon us.

  22. Mejilan

    Holy hell. I’m a big fan of letting others believe whatever-the-hell-they-want-so-long-as-it-doesn’t-hurt-others, but fringe quackery in a “front-runner” politician is scarily dangerous. Then again, I don’t think she actually stands a chance to win her party’s nomination. Thankfully for us, our country, our world, and our entire species.

    In proposing to let ‘the students decide,’ she evidences a truly astonishing (and also scarily dangerous) ignorance. Were the Republican party not so badly fractured, wackos like Palin and Bachmann would never have the opportunity to worm themselves out of the woodworks and infect the political consciousness. It really says a lot about the state of the party (and by extension, Fox News) that the Tea Party nutjobs even have a relevant voice today.

    Shameful.

  23. UmTutSut

    When I hear her quoted, I think of the lines from Macbeth: “…a tale told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”

    I can’t believe a majority of the American electorate would take her seriously.

    (Hmmmm…but we re-elected Bush, didn’t we?)

  24. I don’t know how one puts on the “table” all of the complexities of evolution over billions of years and then on the same level say “A power said ‘it shall be’ and it was.” How do you compare that? I think just because the word “theory” was attached to evolution, it is immediately discredited by people who haven’t taken any time to contemplate its reality. A theory without proof could be compared to creationism (also without proof), but the issue is that evolution has proof. It’s a theory because it is in an ongoing process of refinement based on evidence that is always discovered.

    I guess as a science teacher, one of your responsibilities is to teach basic scientific principles and the scientific method. So if you have a mountain of facts and tangible evidence in front of you and then a statement on a piece of paper that is contrary, one would be capable of using that knowledge to make intelligent decisions. However, stupid parents will still fight it and teach their kids ignorance so that they can perpetuate the same ideals that they were taught by their stupid parents.

  25. HelterIncendo

    Daffy has a very good point. Michelle Bachman is popular because her view represents the *majority* of Americans. See this poll from 2010 showing that “about 8 in 10 Americans hold a view of human origins that involves actions by God — that he either created humans as depicted in the book of Genesis, or guided a process of evolution.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/Four-Americans-Believe-Strict-Creationism.aspx

    Often we (and by “we” I mean the majority of this blog’s readers) tend to associate with fellow skeptics and in doing so, many of us mistakenly begin believing that most people agree with us. We know Michelle Bachman is incorrect. We are in a small minority. People like Michelle Bachman outnumber people like us, and they don’t care if she doesn’t know the Constitution because *they* don’t know the Constitution.

  26. davidlpf

    @techyDad I was thinking of life in general you shouldn’t take one persons word over anyother without evidence supporting it. I know most students won’t do the extra research but some will. In a perfect world there would be great teachers who will have all the time to teach what needs to be taught.

  27. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    @Georg,

    According to Google Translate, “Tittenfaktor” means “breasts factor”. Correct? ;-)

  28. Pat

    It’s amazing that a woman who ran screaming in terror from an elderly nun and then filed a false police report claiming she was being held against her will (apparently by super-strong lesbian grandmas) would ever be elected to Congress, let alone be a potential presidential candidate.

    She’s so completely brainwashed by that evangelical cult of hers that her own family won’t speak with her. It really says something when a major political party can only put forth candidates who are either insane, stupendously dumb, or hateful. And their best candidate is a two-faced, lying, traitor, although for some reason the media never brings that up. Apparently it’s okay to betray an entire state, as long as it’s Massachusetts.

  29. QuietDesperation

    The politicians are a reflection of our culture.

    False. At this point we have an insular political class that sometimes kowtows to parts of the culture, but it is not a reflection unless you mean a literal mirror image.

    As George Carlin observed, maybe the politicians don’t suck—maybe WE do.

    *shrug* We have a system that filters out anyone but sociopaths even before the primaries. Can you blame the voters for electing lizards of the ballot contains nothing but lizards?

  30. QuietDesperation

    She should just kill herself and go to her Jebus

    So the post-Tuscon shooting moratorium on hateful rhetoric is over, I’m guessing?

  31. davidlpf

    Tittenfaktor, didn’t help Palin but Palin was just George jr with tittenfaktor. And we (as a world) had enough of him with or without tittenfaktor.

  32. RaginKagin

    Are you a skeptic or something?

  33. DrFlimmer

    @ Ivan3man

    Well, that’s a correct translation, but “breasts” is not harsh enough in this case. “Bo*b” would be a better “direct” translation, I think. English surly has a word with a similar meaning; the German meaning is more or less: women taking advantage of “what they have”. Either, they do it knowingly, or just by “having it” and the male idiots are going wild….

    However, that’s definitely not the reason why Angela Merkel is chancellor in Germany…. :-D

    @ RobT

    That’s the exactly the way the class “Religion” is taught in German schools. And I think, it’s a great way, because you can really broaden your horizon on these matters….

  34. John

    I did not know that there were Nobel prizes for biology. I believe that medicine or physiology is the closest.

  35. SLC

    In addition to Linus Pauling, Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in physics should also be cited. Prof. Josephson believes in cold fusion, ESP, and PK, all rather dubious propositions to say the least.

  36. SLC

    Re Dr. Flemmer @ #33

    Chancellor Merkel has a PhD in physics and has taught the subject at German universities (her husband is a quantum chemist who also teaches at a German university).

  37. BJN

    @20 Melissa:

    “We at Minnesota Skeptics oppose everything she stands for and if we had our way would gladly erase her existence.”

    While I also oppose Bachmann and her politics, I think your comment about erasing her existence is very ill-advised. I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt and assume you’d like her to fade into political obscurity. Rational discussion requires a foundation of civility, and wishing personal extinction on an opponent is uncivil at best.

    @4 NewEnglandBob: ditto, but your comment is simply juvenile and does nothing advance the cause of rational dialogue.

  38. Harry Seldom

    Reminds me of an old Tony Auth cartoon, at

    http://www.gocomics.com/tonyauth/2005/08/04

  39. davidlpf

    @RaginKagan(32) if that was aimed at me I would say something.

  40. jonathan

    Anyone that says we should let students decide which is right in the context of a scientific matter should be permanently disqualified from holding any kind of public office. Students are not in science classrooms to make these kinds of decisions. They are there to learn, not decide what they think is correct, and, as students, they’re not exactly qualified to make these kinds of decisions in a scientific context.

  41. Blizaaaarrrrrggg!!!

    …can we trade Bachmann for Ventura?

  42. Digital Atheist

    In the ongoing war to get biblical creation taught in schools maybe we should be laid on the table, or maybe a balance scale would be more appropriate.

    Evidence for Intelligent Design: two chapters in Genesis of which chapter 1 is comprised of 31 verses, and chapter 2 which is comprised of 25 verses. So, we have a total of 56 verses to back Intelligent design. Arguements about gaps in the fossil record, cherry-picked data, alledged irreducible complexity, and other like arguments may be submitted.

    Evidence for Evolution: the entire fossil record, incluging mutation, speciation, genetic drift, and a whole host of other data. Also since Intelligent Design’s (we really need a sarcasm font!) proponents believe that the whole universe was creatively designed, arguments can be submitted for the inclusion of Astronomy, Geology, planetology, and other like disciplines that may be encountered in the ID argument.

    I personally find the amount of data for evolution to be staggering. In looking up the first two chapters of Genesis, I discoverd that they only acount for two pages in my rusty dusty bible (and not even two whole pages at that). So yes, lets plop all the evidence on a table and see what happens.

  43. Daffy

    QD: “Can you blame the voters for electing lizards of the ballot contains nothing but lizards?”

    Yes I can. Seriously, if there is no candidate worth voting for, then I refuse to vote for either. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. It may be a meaningless protest on my part, but it’s the best I can do right now. The problem is the American electorate is lazy and refuses really to look at issues. Bumper stickers are about as deep as any of them will go; they insist on relying on “common sense”—a truly fine example of an oxymoron if ever there was one!

    Things will will change for the better when a majority of voters stop voting for evil. They won’t one minute sooner. Why would they?

    (Btw, referring only to the American electorate, because that’s where I live; I suspect it is the same in other democracies, but am not informed enough to really have an opinion about that. Oh—and I LOVED the hitchhiker’s reference!)

  44. ND

    Can we trade Bachmann for someone intelligent, without any nutjob ideas and will not say just about anything to get votes? Gingrich may be intelligent but fails at the non-nutjob and no-say-anything requirements. Romney himself probably doesn’t even know what he stands for.

    My god, am I asking for a good candidate in the Republican party? What am I saying?

    The thing is though, if the Republicans put forth a nutjob or Democrats hope for a nutjob for an easy victory, then we’re playing with fire. What if something unfortunate happens during the election/campaign period, making the voters go for the nutjob?

  45. oldebabe

    Incredible? Yes. And unbelievable, and ignorant, too… but frightening.

  46. Robert Gibson

    What I’d like to hear a politician say is this:

    “I support evolution […] What I support is putting all religion on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of religious issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

  47. Pete Jackson

    The theory of evolution certainly has a lot of gaps where complex structures such as eyes formed without leaving a detailed record in the fossil record. For one thing, soft tissues seldom leave much record, and it looks like most of the evolution took place during times of stress such as mass extinctions, and it happened quickly, again leaving few specimens in the fossil record.

    But a lot of this is college or grad school level stuff. In school, it is adequate just to show how fossils have evolved with time, which is standard scientific analysis. Simply showing the progress of fossils with time really leaves out the details anyway.

    If ID proponents suggest that evolution has been guided by an intelligence, then they should show it from the fossil record and vet it in peer-reviews journals and scientific meetings.

  48. Chris A.

    I swear, when I first saw the title of this post, I misread it as ending with “IQ,” not “ID.”

  49. Tim G

    I think Bachmann wishes her biology class was like this:

    Dayton, TN biology class

  50. Mike

    What year is this? These people are pathetic.. just keep banging on that old, broken-ass drum.

  51. NewEnglandBob

    Bachman is the one who prays for leaving this life, not me.

  52. QuietDesperation

    Things will will change for the better when a majority of voters stop voting for evil.

    Yeah, well, let me know what that happens.

  53. QuietDesperation

    Apparently it’s okay to betray an entire state, as long as it’s Massachusetts.

    Yes. Betrayal is also valid for Florida, Alabama and Oregon.

  54. Dwatney

    As long as government is involved in science (or science education), science will be a political football. By that I mean people will try to try to force their scientific views onto others, not by convincing evidence, but by electing people who will legislate their scientific views. If you aren’t willing to separate science and state, you might as well get used to this, because it isn’t going to go away. They will just keep reinventing their “science” to try to avoid the separation of religion and state restriction.

  55. Digital Atheist

    heh?!? (not only a sarcasm font, but we also need a dog looking at something that it just doesn’t understand font)

  56. @Digital Atheist,

    I agree that when you lay out all the arguments for and against Evolution and ID, Evolution wins. The problem in the classroom environment is mainly one of time. You have only a certain number of hours in the day, a fraction of that to teach science and a fraction of that to teach “how creatures got the way they are.”

    Could you explain all of the complexities of Evolution in 4 hours (stretched over a week)? Probably not. You could do a decent job of teaching the basics, but if you needed to teach ID too, suddenly there’s less time to teach how Evolution works. Less time to teach equals more details glossed over which equals more “holes in the theory” spotted by students. (Really just “details left out to save time.”)

    Meanwhile, ID is very simple to teach. I can do it in one sentence. “The Designer (whomever he/she/it may be *cough*God*cough*) did it.” There. Now you know all you need to know about ID. Yes, there are things such as irreducible complexity and arguments about the structure of the eye and such, but when you get right down to it a “hole” in ID will be explained away with “The Designer did it that way thus it is so.”

    If the (estimated) four hours that schools have to teach Evolution gets split into 2 hours on Evolution and 2 hours on ID, Evolution *will* lose. Reality doesn’t tend to be simple enough to explain in under 2 hours.

  57. Duke VonLaserface

    As a Minnesotan I too would like to apologize for her behavior. I’ve never met anyone that admits voting for her yet she’s mysteriously untouchable come election time. There may be some parts of the country where her style really lights people up but in a historically blue state it’s just odd.

    As for the quote, it runs pretty low in comparison to most of the insane, ignorant and otherwise confusing nonsense that’s fallen from her mouth during her political carrier.

    http://www.thebachmannrecord.com/

  58. bdecked

    Oh how aweful!!!! Please, pretty please, Discover, don’t use Wikipedia as a journalistic resource (in your footnote)! Surely there are more reliable ways to prove that Nobel prize winners have dubious beliefs than an unreliable source that’s edited by the general public with no fact-checking? Eek!

  59. We better pray that she doesn’t get elected president.

    ;-)

  60. Digital Atheist

    @TechyDad

    Believe me, I do understand all of that. However I think it would make a funny picture to have the evidence of 2 pages/1 leaf of bible stacked up against the real evidence. Stuff like this is why I also said we need a sarcasm font.

    As for teaching science in the class room, once a child reaches 5th or 6th grade, topics should be tackled a bit more than they are. 4 hours of evolutiong? No, evolution should be spread out across the whole year, at least at the points it intersects with. In fact, I have the firm belief that advanced evolution should be offered as a course, whether it is year long or half a year. In fact, Science and Mathmatics should both be in the required list for every year of education. (it may be now… all i know is that when i was in school both weren’t).

    ID does have the edge in that it can be printed on a pamphlet, but i think some kind of actual visual demonstration of the evidence for ID and the evidence for Evolution should be cobbled up somewhere. ID should also be annouced as what it really is, a hypothesis at best, with little or no evidence beyond 56 verses of an ancient, unreliable text.

  61. QuietDesperation

    Romney himself probably doesn’t even know what he stands for.

    Eh? What makes you say that? FWIW, Romney is pro-choice and is not a climate change skeptic. Last I checked, anyway. I refuse to pay attention to wannabe candidates 18 months out from an election.

    My god, am I asking for a good candidate in the Republican party? What am I saying?

    Why not? What we need is a Republican in the Eisenhower mold. He was probably the most pro-science President in history. Scientists used to lean slightly Republican prior to the 1960s thanks to his Administration. Go Ike!

    The Democrats have their share of anti-science stances, just on less sexier topics, so they don’t get as much play. They are also very anti-realty when it comes to economics, but I’m here in California where our Democrats in office are composed entirely of stupid, stupid rat creatures, so I might have a sample bias going on.

    What if something unfortunate happens during the election/campaign period, making the voters go for the nutjob?

    We’ll muddle through like we always do. Just keep fighting the good fight in your town. There have been plenty of victories against school boards trying to put religion into the science classroom. No need for “all is lost” rhetoric that we see here and elsewhere.

  62. EdF

    She’s a nut job, totally agree and hope that she doesn’t make it out of the primaries. But to give credit to one Republican for once, Mitt Romney does believe the scientific evidence about global warming. Like his stance on healthcare, gay marriage and abortion, he’s shifted his position a bit to appeal to the zealot primary voters by stating certain caveats lately, but Democrats do the same thing and I think most people can tease out a candidate’s true stances on the issues especially when there’s a legislative or governing track record.

    With all that said, I will say something I’ve said before on this forum before. The problem of ID in particular is not a Republican party problem, political parties shift their stances with the wind. It wasn’t too long ago that Republicans were pro war hawks that justified intervening everywhere, now they’re the isolationist “dovish” party all of a sudden. The reality is that politics abhors a vacuum to borrow a phrase. Parties switch sides to get the underrepresented votes whenever possible.

    My point is, the problem is that there is a significant portion of the population that doesn’t not believe in evolution, they will find or create a party to represent their beliefs. Take a look at this:

    http://pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Religious-Differences-on-the-Question-of-Evolution.aspx

    We have a problem people, several billion people on this planet are members of religions that are at the 50% or lower mark. My point is, we need serious outreach to these religions, or groups, I’m not sure how. But if you want to change the political party, it’s useless to try and change the party stance without changing the beliefs of it’s constituents. If the plan however is to ignore half the worlds population ,I don’t think we’ll get too far either.

  63. Jean-Denis

    Are all polynomial-time many-one complete sets for NP polynomial-time isomorphic to each other? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Evolution or Creation? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Is AID caused by the HIV virus? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Do vaccines cause autism? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Does astrology work? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Does water have memory? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Does the tooth fairy exist? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Where does Santa Claus buy his outfit? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.
    Is Michele Bachman beyond stupid? Teach the controversy. Let the students decide.

  64. Sam H

    As some of you may know, until recently I made several comments somewhat in favour of ID. My opinions have changed since then (the scientific method can’t use a vague intelligence as an explanation, and the Neo-Darwinian synthesis doesn’t have as many holes as I’d thought), but I don’t accuse ID proponents of as much sophistry and sneakiness as I would “open” creationists such as AiG (although I haven’t read that much into Kitzmiller vs. Dover, so I’m probably just ignorant). But even when I did support ID I did NOT support it’s teaching in schools – at best, ID could only be a vague scientific idea, not teachable science, I had said. What I did support (and in many ways do still) is not teaching ALL of modern evolutionary science as factually ironclad – because not all of it is. That life evolved is an absolutely certain conclusion drawn from overwhelming, diverse evidence, but we haven’t figured out the entire tree of life (the REAL gaps in the fossil record), and the exact mechanism for evolutionary change has been revised over time (i.e. from pure Darwinian gradualism to punctuated equilibria, natural selection to sexual selection/genetic drift, etc.) and is still in this process, so far as I know. But of course, in order to do this we must increase overall time spent on evolution in the classroom, and thus science education, reaping all its immediate and eventual benefits – which (hopefully) most on both sides would agree with :). As for Ms. Bachmann, I don’t know that much about her but from what I hear she seems to be a somewhat critical exception. :(

    Aside: I dunno about you, but even though it’s incorrect I don’t see the teaching of ID having a huge effect on the US as a whole, except for losing “economic competitiveness” (which already is becoming a lost cause), scientific innovation (this is the largest and most worrisome effect) and biotech competitiveness (which, as we all should know, is ethically questionable in too many areas – thanks to it most of the milk in your country is likely unsafe to drink [hint: Posilac]). The really big worry is climate change education – a science with many uncertain conclusions, yes, but with one certain conclusion that has dire implications for all – and unlike creationism (to use their logic) can be observed in the present at an ever-increasing rate. Unfortunately, Ms. Bachmann like too many others appears not to show much concern for such a critical topic – to me, yet another piece of evidence of the gradual decline and eventual fall of the American empire.

    /end rant. I’m off to pick up a postcard!! :)

  65. Tucsonan

    She should just kill herself and go to her Jebus

    So the post-Tuscon shooting moratorium on hateful rhetoric is over, I’m guessing?

    Do you mean Tucson?

  66. 42. Digital Atheist Says:

    “Evidence for Intelligent Design: two chapters in Genesis of which chapter 1 is comprised of 31 verses, and chapter 2 which is comprised of 25 verses. ”

    I agree with what you’re saying but not how you’re saying it.

    There is ZERO evidence for “Intelligent Design” aka Creationism.

    I can write a book that make all kinds of claims such as I personally created Adam and I made Eve from his third testicle which is why all human males are sub-standard having only two.

    That’s not evidence. It’s just a claim made by a writer.

    In this fight I don’t give an inch because you know how ID supporters are. They latch onto anything they can use since they don’t have anything real backing them.

    So again, I tell them there is zero evidence supporting ID or it’s conjoined twin, creationism. None.

  67. @60. Jean-Denis – I really would like to see what would happen if we gave them their way and let schools teach “alternate theories” such as Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, etc. along side Christianity.

    As things stand now we know what would happen. They would pounce on all that stuff and wouldn’t be able to pretend anymore that their true agenda isn’t teaching the Bible as fact.

    You know that’s what they want and so do I but Christians pretend like it’s not because they want to teach their religion but because it is a fact and they have proof.

    So their bull about “teaching the controversy” is only true as long as it’s a battle between evolution and creationism with evolution being handicapped by requiring actual standards of evidence.

    When you ask a Christian what their evidence is they start talking about eyes and bananas then leap to conclusions with no proof at all. Their proof is, “Well, it just makes sense, right?” Wrong.

  68. “There is ZERO evidence for ‘Intelligent Design’ aka Creationism.”

    You have just abolished History as a subject for discourse. As much as I loathe the fundies, I’d far rather see science itself abolished than that.

  69. Ron1

    Phil, while I agree with your post in general, I think you are fundamentally naive when you say, “teaching it (ID) would be in violation of the Constitution that Representative Bachmann is sworn to uphold.”

    Believers don’t interpret the constitution as you do. Rather, they see the constitution as the basis of a theocracy and, in their minds, Michelle Bachmann IS upholding her sworn oath.

    Further, Ms Bachmann is not to be underestimated. When you listen to her you hear a buffoon, which she certainly is not. When believers listen to her, they hear a leader who is speaking their language — the bible. Unlike Sarah Palin (who really is a buffoon), Ms Bachmann is educated (a lawyer), is articulate and she’s fighting for a cause in which she believes.

    As Sarah Jones writes (“Michele Bachmann Isn’t Stupid, She’s Dangerous,” Politicususa, June 16, 2011) “If you’re wondering why Michele Bachmann doesn’t seem to get history, economics, science or facts, it’s not because she’s stupid or gaffe prone. These are not mistakes; these are Bachmann’s real beliefs. … Her brand of Christianity is so extreme as to deny science and snuggle up to the corporatists who share the belief that our resources are here to plunder. And most disturbing is the worldview of good versus evil, of a coming rapture that wars and destruction would signal.”
    …………………………..

    So Phil, please, please, please stop preaching to the choir. Please look deeper into the issues and use your (considerable) public pulpit to help your readers understand what they are really up against lest Science as a Candle in the Dark be blown out.

    Cheers

  70. DrFlimmer

    @ SLC

    Re Dr. Flemmer @ #33

    Chancellor Merkel has a PhD in physics and has taught the subject at German universities (her husband is a quantum chemist who also teaches at a German university).

    Yes, I know that. And that also had nothing to do with a “Tittenbonus”.
    However, being a German physicist myself, I must say that I am not very proud of the fact that Merkel is a physicist, as well. I don’t agree on much with her…. (but that may also have to do with political opinions and not physics ;) )

  71. If we really do get the government we deserve, then we Minnesotan’s must have done something very bad to be treated to the representation of Michele Bachman.

  72. Digital Atheist

    @67 CafeenMan:

    Intelligent (cough cough) Design (cough strangle gasp wheeze) is why I said a couple of times that we need a Sarcasm font.

    I think that someome else had it right: if we are going to teach the scientific controversy, we should also teach the relgious controversy. Lay out all of the religions that we know for sure have existed the evidence that they provide as to their authenticity. I will even go one step further and say that churches should ban anyone under the age of consent from attending. After all, these are impressionable young minds.

  73. Bryan D

    Eh, I suppose she’s a “Presidential front-runner” in the fact that she’s in fact running for President, the polls however put her lower then Ron Paul. :)

  74. jfb

    We haven’t even had the first primaries yet (straw polls have all the predictive power of sheep entrails), so there are no “front-runners” among the Republican presidential candidates for anything but column inches, and nothing buys you column inches like Teh Crazy. Frankly, I’ll be amazed if Bachmann makes it past Iowa, much less Super Tuesday. Bachmann, Palin, and Gingrich are all the warmup acts before the headliners take the stage.

    Beware Rick Perry. If he decides to run, he could easily win the nomination and be real threat in the general. It’ll all be based on lies, but that’s something Perry does quite well.

    Frankly, the best way to deal with people like Bachmann (and Palin and Gingrich) is to get voter turnout above 60% in any election (local, state, and national). People like her win elections because the only people who can be bothered to vote are the ones with an ideological axe to grind.

  75. Aaron

    Bachmann does not need to be an expert in a subject to know whether or not it’s important. Also, how well she is able to explain and defend Intelligent Design has nothing to do with the validity of it. That she is standing up for what she believes in is what we all do, what we should do.

    Adults today have been through an education system that teaches evolution as fact, not the theory that it is, and it’s caused the prejudices that many blindly hold. When an argument comes along that challenges evolution, it’s automatically dismissed because if this. That is the problem, the majority of people do not really know what the theory of evolution is, nor could they properly defend that belief. There’s no disputing that DNA is information. To get that DNA, that enormous amount of complex information, even in the simplest form of life, by random chance is impossible. If you’ve never studied Biochemistry or Molecular biology, then you can’t speak authoritatively on the matter.

  76. “Believers don’t interpret the constitution as you do.”

    For “believers”, kindly substitute “devil-worshiping traitors”. Michelle Bachmann wouldn’t know Jesus if He kicked her every step of the way from Eastport to San Diego.

  77. Digital Atheist

    Theory: A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena. Most theories that are accepted by scientists have been repeatedly tested by experiments and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

    A theory, in science is not a “guess”. Evolution may bear the title “theory”, but Intelligent design doesn’t even rise to the level of hypothesis.

    hypothesis: A statement that explains or makes generalizations about a set of facts or principles, usually forming a basis for possible experiments to confirm its viability.

  78. #1 rule in politics: Get re-elected (or elected in the first place). Get the base on your side and get elected even if it means sacrificing your beliefs. Rule #1 trumps all others. I imagine a lot of politicians say things they don’t agree with just to get elected. So, don’t be TOO hard* on them. ;)

    *but you can be pretty hard on them anyway.

    edit:
    I don’t see her making it as a legit candidate anyway. Moving along… :)

  79. Anchor

    @Ron1 #70: I fail to see the utility of pointing out an allegedly crucially important distinction between a “real buffoon” (Sarah Palin) who is stupid yet enjoys a wide following and an “educated…[and articulate] lawyer” (Michele Bachmann) who is stupid yet enjoys a wide following.

    You say, “Believers don’t interpret the constitution as you do. Rather, they see the constitution as the basis of a theocracy and, in their minds, Michelle Bachmann IS upholding her sworn oath.”

    So do supporters of Sarah Palin see it so in their minds.

    You say, “Ms Bachmann is not to be underestimated.”

    Clearly, buffoon that she is, neither should Sarah Palin be, or else she ought never to have reached the position of candidate for VP. Ms Bachmann, educated articulate sophisticate that she is, has yet to achieve such a lofty potential. Of course, time will tell, but does anybody really “underestimate” either of these women when each acheive such popularity despite exhibiting stupidity? Does a mistake in estimating their respective stupidity really make buffoon Palin less dangerous than educated Bachmann?

    You say, “When you listen to her [Michelle Bachmann] you hear a buffoon, which she certainly is not.”

    Yes, she is.

    You say, “When believers listen to her, they hear a leader who is speaking their language — the bible.”

    This is also true of the OTHER buffoon, Sarah Palin.

    You say, “Unlike Sarah Palin (who really is a buffoon), Ms Bachmann is educated (a lawyer), is articulate and she’s fighting for a cause in which she believes.”

    Sarah Palin ALSO “[fights] for a cause in which she believes.” And while Palin may not be as educated or articulate as Bachmann, the very fact that an educated person ought to know better is an indication of even greater stupidity and buffoonery, not less of it.

    You quote from Sarah Jones’ article, in which she writes, “If you’re wondering why Michele Bachmann doesn’t seem to get history, economics, science or facts, it’s not because she’s stupid or gaffe prone. These are not mistakes; these are Bachmann’s real beliefs.… Her brand of Christianity is so extreme as to deny science and snuggle up to the corporatists who share the belief that our resources are here to plunder. And most disturbing is the worldview of good versus evil, of a coming rapture that wars and destruction would signal.”

    PRECISELY THE VERY SAME can be said of Sarah Palin.

    So, what’s the hi-fallutin’ difference you and Sarah Jones seem so worked up about, that moves you to suggest Phil is somehow “fundamentally naive” and “preaching to the choir? Just because you and Jones perceive some irrelevant difference of kind in stupidity in these two women politicians?

    Alrighty, then. Can you perhaps point out exactly how knowledge of this all-important distinction between buffoonery-stupidity and sophisticated-stupidity may “help readers understand what they are really up against lest Science as a Candle in the Dark be blown out.”?

    Maybe you can start by addressing why, despite the differences you and Jones trouble to point out, these two women each so easily attract followers and gain political power. A comparison of the stupidity of the buffoon and the stupidity of the sophisticate is worthless. The real issue is the insatiably ambitious appetite for political power in each of these women DESPITE their obvious stupidity. It is by far more relevant that they are each quite skillful at EXPLOITING widespread stupidity and ignorance in the marketplace body politic, not just that they each themselves may display it in abundance, or my name must be ‘Naive’.

    If you and Jones are so worried that Bachmann is somehow more dangerous than Palin, its because you are uselessly comparing the packaging instead of wondering why the junk food they each contain is so popular. Or isn’t that “deeper into the issues” enough?

  80. jfb

    Aaron @ 76:

    Evolution is a fact in that populations of living things really do change over time. We’ve observed these changes in the lab and in the wild, some of which qualified as new species. We can track these changes back through history using both genetics and fossils.

    The theory is that variation plus selection are the driving mechanisms of evolution, and it’s pretty well supported. The arguments are over the relative influence of specific methods of selection (natural selection vs. sexual selection vs. kin selection vs. drift vs. …), the rates at which populations change (gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium), etc.

  81. Mike Mullen

    62. QuietDesperation Says:
    June 20th, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Why not? What we need is a Republican in the Eisenhower mold. He was probably the most pro-science President in history. Scientists used to lean slightly Republican prior to the 1960s thanks to his Administration. Go Ike!

    ———————————————–

    Problem is that an Eisenhower type wouldn’t appeal to the modern Republican party, or at least not to that overinfluential section of it that supports things like ID.

  82. Grand Lunar

    “I support intelligent design […] What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide.”

    Good for her. When ID shows that it is science, it can be put on the table.
    Otherwise, it is out!

    Was it too much for me to hope that there a Republican presidental hopeful wouldn’t support anti-science nonsense?
    Maybe they ought to get a clue and realize such thinking only hurts them.

  83. JasonO

    As a former constituent of Ms. Bachmann (and a science teacher besides) I have been frustrated time and time again when reporters try to stick it to her (with good reason) by asking poignant questions, and all she will ever do is skirt around the questions.
    (see example here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9210246.stm)
    In some ways, I see here as being even more dangerous (not just for science, but in politics in general) than someone like Palin, not because she’s crazy – though it may sound that way – but because she’s smart enough to know exactly what to say to instigate her supporters and many other conservatives into a frenzy.

  84. SLC

    Re Aaron @ #76

    1. Mr. Aaron makes the mistake of conflating evolution with abiogenesis. They are two separate and distinct theories. Abiogenesis describes how the first replicators appeared, evolution describes the development of life after the appearance of the first replicators.

    2. Actually, evolution is both a set of facts and a theory. As described by Ernst Mayr, evolution has 5 parts. The facts of evolution consist of an old earth (derived from physics), extinction (no Tyrannosaurs, fortunately for us or we wouldn’t be here), no evidence of modern animals in ancient times (no fossil cats in the pre-Cambrian strata). The most economical inference from those facts is common descent, i.e. modern animals, including humans descended from previous populations (e.g. humans and apes had a common ancestor). The theory of evolution is the mechanism, namely natural selection, genetic drift, sexual selection, etc.

    As an analogy, consider the Solar System. The planets are observed to revolve around the Sun in elliptical orbits; this corresponds to the first 3 items in Mayrs’ list. The mechanism of the Solar System, which corresponds to the items listed as the 5th part of evolution is the inverse square law of gravity, which Newton showed predicted elliptical orbits.

  85. harry tuttle

    Ms. Bachmann might well be the final sign that the idiocracy has now got complete dominion.
    Phil, it’s time.
    Tell NASA to get the ‘B-Ark’ out of the secret cave under Mount Rushmore immediately and start warming the fusion core.

    Presumably you’d also be perfect for helping fake the impending doom required to get them all onboard. Fool them into thinking the sun’s exploding or something, I’m sure you could find some old I.L.M. guys to help. You know, the ones who helped fake the moon landings back in the ’60s ;]

  86. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    JasonO:

    [… Michele Bachmann is] smart enough to know exactly what to say to instigate her supporters and many other conservatives into a frenzy.

    Well, what else do you expect from a goddamn lawyer?

  87. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    @Aaron (and anybody else who thinks like him),

    I suggest that you read this: Evolution is Not Just a Theory.

  88. Anchor

    @Aaron, “That she is standing up for what she believes in is what we all do, what we should do.”

    Yes, we all stand up for what we believe in, but not everyone abrogates their responsibility to the evidence.

    I find it telling that people like Bachmann (and those who think like her) so readily dismiss the evidence which necessarily comes from the putative creative product of their object of worship. What’s the matter? Don’t these people trust the sincerity of their Creator?

  89. RaginKagin

    @39. davidlpf: I don’t read the comments, it was actually just chance I saw yours. Don’t really care if you’d say something or not, as it wasn’t addressed at you. I like giving Phil a hard time because I miss his days of addressing poor science in movies and actual astronomy.

  90. Robin S.

    @Aaron: “To get that DNA, that enormous amount of complex information, even in the simplest form of life, by random chance is impossible. If you’ve never studied Biochemistry or Molecular biology, then you can’t speak authoritatively on the matter.” Really? Can you please show us then how the probability IS zero for this case? I don’t mean that you should show how statistically unlikely an event such as that was. I mean show me that P(get that DNA, that enormous amount of complex information, even in the simplest form of life)≡0 (that’s an “always equals” sign before the zero).

    Can we please let the “evolution is fact” phrase fall by the wayside? It doesn’t sit well with Scientific Method. Evolution is the best theory going. In fact, it’s the only theory going since there’s no way to test or use observation to conclude that ID or Creationism are valid theories. Let’s be proud that Evolution is a theory, and let’s not feel the need to label it fact. I’m a scientist and am groovy with the best that we’ve got in terms of such ideas are theories.

    I am concerned about how quickly nastiness follows poorly conceived rhetoric in the comments here, as well as at other blogs and sites that are frequented by otherwise intelligent people. Given the small sampling of comments that are the comments to Phil’s post, it’s no surprise that those we elect use similar and worse language and tactics.

  91. ND

    QuietDesperation,

    Sorry, I lost track of where Romney stood given the things he’s been saying over the past years. The things he’s been saying are blatantly opposite of what a lot of people know he stand for. But that has made me loose trust in him. I mean this is so ridiculous, given how far politicians go to lie. We’re not talking about fudging it or twisting their stances, but to say anything that appeals to those who shout the loudest in their party. Where those shouting the loudest are not necessarily the majority.

    Here’s an example of where I’m having a problem judging what people really believe. I never quite figure out which of the things Glenn Beck said on his show he really believed. What was for show and what was for real. Was he really that crazy? I guess I found it hard to believe that even someone on a a major network show believed the crazy kaka that Beck was spewing.

  92. Anchor

    @ Robin S.: er, ‘evolution’ is a FACT. Evolution by a mechanism of transmission of heritable traits with less than perfect fidelity (that is, allowing for mutation) via cumulative natural selection is the THEORY, and its a darned good one for which evidence has steadily mounted ever since the basic outline of the theory was described by Darwin and Wallace. In fact, the evidence has been so consistent and profuse that most biologists today have no qualms at all about calling it a fact as well as a theory.

    Of course, any authentic scientist would already know that and be groovy with it.

  93. Robin S.

    My use of the word “Evolution” was to encompass the process or processes by which the various life forms, here on Earth, came to be where they are now. That included natural selection. I’ll cop to not being perfectly clear.

    I appreciate the need for people to flame others, but it does seem to be at odds with the thought processes that drive discovery and promote healthy skepticism.

  94. fred edison

    I haven’t seen any mention of science/logic denier Michele Bachmann calling for repeal of the “job killing” EPA (along with other EPA opponent Repubs) in her latest Obama hate fest. This came from a mother of hundreds of children (okay, maybe just dozens of kids). I swear that people like her are slowly but surely dragging this country into an intellectual toilet, and some other country will be happy to press the flush lever for us. Who elects these people to political office?

    If Bachmann’s wish of ‘The IDiots of ID’ being taught next to science in the schools would ever come to fruition (may the Earth be consumed by a ‘gone rogue’ supermassive black hole shortly before), I will march in the streets to ensure ‘The Noodly One’ is taught alongside Bachmann’s favorite imagined deity.

  95. Dave Adams

    An argument based on an appeal to authority is not a fallacy if the person cited is in fact an expert in that subject and the person making the opposite argument is not.

  96. Don

    “Let the students decide?”

    In other words, there is no wrong answer. That sounds like the touchy-feely teaching methods that liberals were accused of years ago.

  97. Elwoodius

    Melissa @20:
    I’m pretty sure you meant to say
    “We at Minnesota Skeptics oppose everything she stands for and if we had our way would gladly erase her influence.”

    Right?

  98. Nigel Depledge

    Bob in Wales (6) said:

    A question, not a comment:

    My response to her comment, “putting all science on the table and then letting students decide” is an immediate: they’re not qualified to, they don’t know enough, that is why adults teach children.

    So, the question, ’cause I don’t know the answer: When does trust, confidence in others and essentially a meritocracy descend into the simple fallacy of appeal to authority? Because it feels like that is what my emotional response above is!

    Any comments?

    I agree with you that the students are not qualified to judge, but that is not an argument from authority.

    Teach them the facts, teach them the reasoning behind evolutionary theory, and teach them why ID isn’t science. Once they have understood this lot, they will be qualified to make a judgement.

    Every major criticism of evolutionary theory that has been made to date betrays a lack of understanding of that theory. (I do recognise that a great deal of valid criticism has occurred in the past, made by real scientists who did understand the theory. As published in 1859, it has a handful of weaknesses and gaps, mainly because there was a lot of stuff we now know that Darwin didn’t know. Modern evolutionary theory still rests on Darwin’s key idea, but is so much more, encompassing genetics, molecular biology, cladistics and such key concepts as genetic drift and punctuated equilibrium.)

  99. Nigel Depledge

    TechyDad (16) said:

    The problem is mainly that there is limited class time. You barely have time to teach the basics of evolution, much less time to teach details about it and ID and the “controversy” between the two. Given this, they’ll get a two day “quick introduction” course before needing to move on to a different topic. Of course they will find holes in evolution as taught to them! ID proponents are counting on this. What the students won’t realize is that these holes are just a result of their rushed explanation and that the detailed theory fills in these blanks nicely. It would be sort of like reading the Cliff’s Notes version of a great book and then wondering why everyone considers it such a classic piece of literature.

    IIUC, many schools in the US spend no more than one biology (or science) class on evolution, largely out of fear of the reaction of ignorant parents.

    My answer (albeit less-than-diplomatic): If you can’t handle the truth*, homeschool. Then see if little Johnny (or whomever) can get a worthwhile job).

    * Yes, as far as anyone can determine, evolutionary theory is a true description of how and why biological entities change over time.

  100. David in England

    To quote Seven Of Nine : “You’re being confused by irrelevant data. Ignore it.”

  101. Svlad Cjelli

    I wonder what sort of defense bonuses politician paragons typically come with. Or is it something else? A to-hit penalty or saving throw bonus, maybe?

  102. 69. John W. Kennedy Says:
    June 20th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    “There is ZERO evidence for ‘Intelligent Design’ aka Creationism.”

    You have just abolished History as a subject for discourse. As much as I loathe the fundies, I’d far rather see science itself abolished than that.

    =========================================

    I don’t understand your post. There is no evidence of Intelligent Design, Creationism or whatever they try to package it as next. None.

    What that has to do with teaching history evades me.

    I’ll give you my Cliff’s Notes regarding my full view.

    Science is science and should be taught as well as possible.

    Religion – all forms or at least major forms should also be covered in some kind of cultural awareness class. Not as a fact but as a, “This is what some people believe and these are some of the details.” Do that with each religion and let kids decide for themselves if any of it is credible.

    At the same time regardless of anything else being taught, critical thinking should be taught from the beginning and throughout the education experience. We can call it Spock Class or something.

    Frankly, I think religion is an abomination and it wastes a lot of lives that could otherwise be useful. But mankind has done a lot of bad things. It’s part of our historical experience and I see no reason to not teach it.

    But religion has no basis in fact and it should not be taught in any way that makes the claim that it is factual.

    It should be taught as this is what it is. Believe it or not. That’s up to you but we’re not going to tell you what to believe until there is some factual evidence that supports it.

  103. Bob_In_Wales

    Part of the argument here has to revolve around the public perception of how an elected representative uses the position of authority they have attained. There seem to me to be two schools of thought, two extremes of a spectrum.

    On one side there is the view that a representative is a member of a party, elected under a platform and they are there to see the party policies enacted. Personal preferences are kept out of it. See for example some of Bartlett’s comments in The West Wing.

    On the other there is the view that individuals seek power precisely in order to see their value system enacted into law.

    In particular it seems that for many people their religion is not an optional bolt on extra – an opinion or model of the world that can be adopted, dumped, changed willy-nilly – but underpins their entire sense of who and what they are. They, and the people who elect them _expect_ to use their power to push their agenda. They honestly cannot see, cannot understand, why they would not. And to a degree I can see their point.

    I saw this a lot back home in Northern Ireland, in particular with the DUP ( Ian “rot in hell” Paisley’s bunch) and their voters, disproportionately members of the so called Free Presbyterian Church (Ian “rot in hell” Paisley’s bunch). Three years ago, one of the DUP MPs, Iris Robinson, said she knew psycologists who could cure homosexuals. There was a huge stink and a number of phone in shows on local radio on “Should she have said this”. Many of the callers who supported her were quite clear that if that was what she believed (which she should because it was true and God hated poofters) then she was _duty bound to say it_!

    I suspect many on here would subscribe to the former position rather than the latter.

    As an aside, if you can get internet radio, try picking up sometime the Stephen Nolan show on BBC Radio Ulster, usually broadcast 9am to 10am weekdays. NI people can teach the rest of the world how to argue. Also how to be beligerent, opinionated, definitive. Its a very entertaining show, as well as educational. Particularly since being a BBC show they are obliged to maintain balance so the host cannot filter out or cut off callers making points they don’t like or disagree with. They have to act more like professional referees. I’m led to believe that call shows in the US do not follow this format, that they can be very one sided, just pushing the view of the host? True?

  104. Nigel Depledge

    Digital Atheist (42) said:

    So yes, lets plop all the evidence on a table and see what happens.

    T-rex wins by a head!

  105. Nigel Depledge

    Pete Jackson (47) said:

    The theory of evolution certainly has a lot of gaps

    Such as what?

    where complex structures such as eyes formed without leaving a detailed record in the fossil record.

    Do not confuse the theory that explains how biological change over time occurs with the detailed evolutionary origin of any particular feature.

    Besides, with no fossil record of soft eyes, we have to rely on examples from living organisms. Every step that Darwin proposed as an intermediate between a simple patch of light-sensitive cells and the human eye exists in at least one extant organism. The fact that we don’t know for certain how our eyes evolved does not mean that we don’t have a reasonable and plausible evolutionary path. And even if we didn’t yet have a plasuible path, this is not any kind of evidence against the theory that explains why and how biological change occurs.

    . . .
    But a lot of this is college or grad school level stuff. In school, it is adequate just to show how fossils have evolved with time, which is standard scientific analysis. Simply showing the progress of fossils with time really leaves out the details anyway.

    Perhaps so, but we should not try to sweep anything under the carpet. Lines of evidence for evolution come from one hell of a lot more than just the fossil record (although the fossil record is probably the easiest to understand).

    If ID proponents suggest that evolution has been guided by an intelligence, then they should show it from the fossil record and vet it in peer-reviews journals and scientific meetings.

    Sadly, the evidence suggests that there is no teleology in evolution. If evolution has been divinely guided, then it was only on a piecemeal and haphazard basis. In fact, if evolution was guided, whatever did the guiding made a rather sloppy job of the whole affair.

  106. MattF

    TechyDad: Could you explain all of the complexities of Evolution in 4 hours (stretched over a week)? Probably not.

    Absolutely agreed — but that, IMNSHO, is part of the problem. Evolution is the theory that makes biology make sense. Without it, all you have is some kind of natural history.

    I had a year of biology in seventh grade, and again during my sophomore year of high school. Both years should have had their course material peppered throughout with how evolution gives us deeper comprehension about this or that. Sure, spend some time teaching evolution as a concept, but evolution should also undergird the rest of the course, lending its relevant insight and understanding as the material deepens. It shouldn’t be constrained to the few hours you might be able to spend on a detailed treatment of it.

    Where would junior high or high school physics be without Newton’s laws of motion? How could you hope to teach high school chemistry without some elementary atomic theory?

    Compare this to the treatment evolution gets in biology. We don’t even teach students enough to let them distinguish between what evolution proposes and what creationism falsely claims that evolution proposes. (And creationism can certainly get those mistaken ideas across in four hours!)

    The only reason we don’t teach biology as a comprehensive science, it seems to me, is that school boards can’t or won’t stand up to parents who demand that evolution be kept out of it. As long as we continue to bend to such people, the notion that evolution is “only a theory” will seem to some students to be a salient point. If they’re never shown how it connects to what we know and how it is borne out by observation, discovery, and experiment, how can we expect them to understand how powerfully true and useful it is?

  107. Nigel Depledge

    Dwatney (54) said:

    As long as government is involved in science (or science education), science will be a political football. By that I mean people will try to try to force their scientific views onto others, not by convincing evidence, but by electing people who will legislate their scientific views. If you aren’t willing to separate science and state, you might as well get used to this, because it isn’t going to go away. They will just keep reinventing their “science” to try to avoid the separation of religion and state restriction.

    This makes no sense.

    What I think you meant was that certain sectors of American society have tried to use political power to legislate against facts that they don’t like. Meanwhile, people who understand that the universe is what it is no matter what we might wish are trying to protect the teaching of science.

  108. Nigel Depledge

    TechyDad (56) said:

    If the (estimated) four hours that schools have to teach Evolution gets split into 2 hours on Evolution and 2 hours on ID, Evolution *will* lose. Reality doesn’t tend to be simple enough to explain in under 2 hours.

    If I were a USAian biology teacher, I would use those 2 hours to challenge my class to find a single positive argument to support ID. Everything that Behe, Wells, Dembski et al. have published about ID comprises negative arguments against evolutionary theory, coupled to the false dichotomy “not evolution, therefore ID”.

  109. Nigel Depledge

    ND (44) said:

    What if something unfortunate happens during the election/campaign period, making the voters go for the nutjob?

    OMG! What if this already happened?

    j/k ;-)

  110. Nigel Depledge

    Sam H (65) said:

    What I did support (and in many ways do still) is not teaching ALL of modern evolutionary science as factually ironclad – because not all of it is.

    First, a great deal of modern evolutionary science is far too involved and technical to be appropriate at high-school level (I was not taught population genetics, for instance, until first-year degree level). So I agree that evolutionary theory in its entirety should not be taught at that level, but I disagree over the reason.

    Second, when you state that evolutionary science is not factually ironclad, I think you need to specify exacly what you refer to. The fact of evolution (that biological entities change over time) is ironclad. So are such aspects of the theory as Common Descent. Modern evolutionary theory contains a great deal that is unlikely ever to change. This – in a suitably brief form – is what should be taught in schools. At the boundaries, there are questions about the importance of the various mechanisms of evolution, and about the details of how and when selection pressures influence change, and so on. But the core of the theory is pretty secure and well-supported.

    That life evolved is an absolutely certain conclusion drawn from overwhelming, diverse evidence,

    Agreed.

    but we haven’t figured out the entire tree of life (the REAL gaps in the fossil record),

    But the exact evolutionary history of life on Earth is not a part of evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory could be perfectly correct without us knowing any of the evolutionary history of life on Earth. In fact, there are parts of the early history of life on Earth that we might never be able to tease out to a satisfactory level of detail (because the necessary evidence may no longer exist).

    The ability to work out the evolutionary history of a lineage is an outcome of evolutionary theory, when combined with the physical evidence (from fossils, anatomy, molecular comparisons and so on). Our failure to possess the evidence needed to deduce the evolutionary lineage of (for example) the sea cucumber is not a challenge to the theory itself. Neither is it any kind of gap in the theory. The theory explains the mechanisms of change nad why all life is related. It is supported by many lines of evidence.

    The exact history of any particular lineage is something we can deduce from physical evidence combined with our knowledge of evoltuionary theory.

    So, while the theory may have ragged edges where the details are still being sorted out, it does not have gaps as you describe.

    and the exact mechanism for evolutionary change has been revised over time (i.e. from pure Darwinian gradualism to punctuated equilibria, natural selection to sexual selection/genetic drift, etc.) and is still in this process, so far as I know.

    This is not quite right.

    In On the Origin of Species, Darwin expects that rates of evolutionary change will vary, so “Darwinian gradualism” is a bit of a caricature. Punctuated equilibrium is not all that different – all it changed was our understanding that the rate of evolution can vary from very fast to practically zero (as opposed to merely from fast to slow). Sexual selection is a subset of natural selection, and was predicted by Darwin. Genetic drift was a new one, but it did not suddenly usurp natural selection. Instead it complements it. There is still debate about the relative significance of the various mechanisms of evolutionary change, but there is no doubt that natural selection is one of the most important mechanisms.

  111. Nigel Depledge

    CafeenMan (67) said:

    So again, I tell them there is zero evidence supporting ID or it’s conjoined twin, creationism. None.

    I take issue with this.

    ID is creationism in a new dress. They are not even as distinct as conjoned twins.

  112. jaranath

    Aaron @ 76:
    The Second Law of Thermodynamics will not save you. And that’s all your argument is. Creationists have tried for decades to force the Second Law to state something that it cannot:  That everything must naturally decay, and therefore any increase in complexity must be unnatural (human or divinely-caused). This fits their mindset of a fallen world quite nicely, and is a comfortable solution for those prone to absolutism and shallow thinking.

    But the creationists have been slapped down so hard and so consistently in their efforts to exploit the Second Law that they are more hesitant to use it. And it’s become so thoroughly associated with openly religious creationism that the ID crowd CAN’T use it. Yet they are still shallow thinkers who crave absolutist solutions, single simple “proofs” that could destroy evolution’s “house of cards” in one fell swoop.  What to do?

    Well, when you remember that creationists are also remarkably unimaginative (often to the point of plagiarism), the solution becomes obvious:  Rebrand!  Now, instead of the Second Law of Thermodynamics saying some fundamental property of the universe prevents evolution from happening unaided, the “Law of Conservation of Information” says some fundamental property of the universe prevents evolution from happening unaided.

    It’s the exact same claim, with slightly different terms:  Complexity can’t naturally increase because I misunderstand the physics and experiments that say it can.  Which is easy to do when I’ve got my fingers in my ears.

  113. Messier Tidy Upper

    I look at the various political contenders – in my nation and in the USA & elsewhere too – & I just think :

    ___ Oh My Flying Sphaghetti Monster, surely, *surely* to bleeding goodness, we can do better than these ( :roll: ) options! :-(

    So very sick of the lot of them. :-(

  114. MattF

    Aaron: Bachmann does not need to be an expert in a subject to know whether or not it’s important.

    No one’s claiming that Bachmann needs to be an expert. Read Dr. Plait’s original post, including the footnotes. She claimed that “many” (her word) Nobel science laureates believe in Intelligent Design. She was challenged on that, and replied as if the question were, instead, “Why should Intelligent Design be taught in the classroom?”

    One also need not be an “expert in a subject” to know whether or not something is corroborated by the evidence. Evolution is, and rather compellingly so. Intelligent Design has no evidence to corroborate it.

    Aaron: Also, how well she is able to explain and defend Intelligent Design has nothing to do with the validity of it.

    True. But no one’s claiming that, either. The validity of Intelligent Design lies entirely with its ability to explain the facts at our disposal and to generate falsifiable predictions about what we will find. Evolution has passed these criteria with flying colors. I can give examples if you wish — but I warn you ahead of time that it’s a very long list.

    What falsifiable predictions does Intelligent Design make?

    Aaron: That she is standing up for what she believes in is what we all do, what we should do.

    Shouldn’t one be concerned with whether or not one’s beliefs match reality? Especially as a leader of people who happen to live in reality?

    Aaron: Adults today have been through an education system that teaches evolution as fact, not the theory that it is, and it’s caused the prejudices that many blindly hold.

    I’d be the first to decry the shortcomings of our educational system — including that it apparently let you slip through with the notion that evolution is not a fact intact. We have witnessed it. Directly. Many times. It is not simply guesswork — we have observed it, in the lab and in the wild. That you could still hold to the idea that “They’re not teaching it as a theory!” is a valid objection shows a terrible deficit in our science education.

    Is it a flaw that our classrooms teach atomic theory as fact? Or gravitational theory? Or the heliocentric theory of the Solar System? Or germ theory? Are any of these blind “prejudices”?

    Aaron: When an argument comes along that challenges evolution, it’s automatically dismissed because if this.

    I challenge you to read some scientific literature sometime. You’ll see how many times evolution itself is dragged out and challenged with new findings.

    Evolution has been one of the most ferociously attacked scientific theories in history. Yet, in spite of that, it still stands strong. Why do you suppose that is?

    Aaron: That is the problem, the majority of people do not really know what the theory of evolution is, nor could they properly defend that belief.

    True. But that does not imply that evolution is therefore untrue.

    Aaron: To get that DNA, that enormous amount of complex information, even in the simplest form of life, by random chance is impossible.

    No one is asserting that the DNA of even the simplest form of life arose “by random chance”. Not even evolution proposes this.

    I find it telling that you thought this a valid objection to evolution, even though you presumed to tell us that the problem is that the majority of people don’t know what evolution is.

  115. Bill Stewart

    If “teaching the controversy” is appropriate for the evolution part of biology class, it’s also appropriate for the sex education part.

    And I think teaching the controversy is important – after all, the null hypothesis is that the world has always been the way it is now, and understanding how we come up with theories like evolution and compare them to the null hypothesis is a fundamental part of science education. Unlike creationism, ID says that evolution did happen, but all in one week in 4004BC instead of over billions of years. There are other alternative hypotheses, such as the Hindu cosmology (and don’t mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster, because you’re trying to suck these people into your trap, not scare them away.)

  116. jaranath

    Dave Adams @ 97:

    “An argument based on an appeal to authority is not a fallacy if the person cited is in fact an expert in that subject and the person making the opposite argument is not.”

    Actually, I’d say it’s still a fallacy. There’s nothing inherent to being an authority that grants validity to one’s claims.  Yes, it can help somewhat, and we can sometimes use it as a heuristic, especially in areas such as forming a scientific consensus.

    But that highlights the very problem:  A scientific consensus is valuable because we can’t necessarily trust the opinion of a single authority. So we sometimes try to weigh the balance of authoritative opinion.  And even then, technically something could bias that consensus opinion, or it could be “correct” but based on some unknowingly false evidence, or in ignorance of some radical unknown evidence.  Many warming denialists make that very claim, and while I think they’re letting their own biases color their perception, it’s still true that such a thing is possible, however unlikely it may be.

    Citing authority is not useless. But ultimately, given a choice between arguing based on overwhelming scientific evidence and arguing based on overwhelming scientific consensus, I’ll favor the evidence.

  117. Anchor

    #94. Robin S. Says:

    “My use of the word “Evolution” was to encompass the process or processes by which the various life forms, here on Earth, came to be where they are now. That included natural selection. I’ll cop to not being perfectly clear.”

    Your use of the word “Evolution” was to portray it as a “theory”, and that is incorrect even if you meant it “to encompass the process or processes by which the various life forms, here on Earth, came to be where they are now.” That all-encompassing usage might as well include creationism, which also satisfies your criterion of ‘process’. Yet creationism isn’t a scientific theory. Therefore you are again mistaken as well as again not being perfectly clear.

    Robin S. Says: “I appreciate the need for people to flame others, but it does seem to be at odds with the thought processes that drive discovery and promote healthy skepticism.”

    What are you talking about? I recognize no “need for people to flame others” here. People are commenting and responding to comments, and they generally pay due attention to what is being asserted, not to personalities. I’m sorry if your sense of propriety is offended, but, honestly, a blog comment forum is a place where discussion takes place and where viewpoints are shared. Such viewpoints are subject to examination and, yes, as harsh as it may sound, criticism. Disagreement might even ensue.

    Of course, as a scientist, you already know that is how scientists do their human part in what you have identified as “Scientific Method”. Indeed, as a scientist you must be quite familiar with it and understand that the clash of contending ideas or viewpoints is not a Bad Thing and that criticism does not necessarily indict a critic for ‘flaming’ anyone through personal attack. Rather, it is most often a heightened over-sensitivity on the part of those who personally over-identify themselves with their conceptual positions who unjustifiably cry foul. It is the over-sensitive who most often stray off the issue and resort to ad hominem attack out of a perceived need to defend themselves rather than their position. But of course, again, in your experience as a scientist, you must have known that too.

    Hence your misplaced concern and insinuation that any engagement that exhibits disagreement is equivalent to ‘flaming others’ and seems to be “at odds with the thought processes that drive discovery and promote healthy skepticism” is – coming as it does from a scientist – weird and puzzling.

  118. Ron1

    @80 Anchor

    First, may I sincerely recommend that you don’t pull the plug out of your butt — the escaping hot air will probably cause you great difficulty.

    Second, in answer to your question, ” isn’t that “deeper into the issues enough?” Hmm, no. Although it’s about as deep an answer as I might expect from a dim bulb, black and white thinker such as yourself.

    Now, while I will try to educate you, I suspect that having a conversation with you will be (to paraphrase the awesomely great Barney Frank) like talking to a table.

    Regardless, here we go (keeping in mind that nuance is not your strong point) …

    ……………………………….

    (1) Bachmann and Palin are equally stupid?

    First, how are we defining stupid? This question is critical because, in the end, it defines the constituency of voters that each women appeals to. This, in turn, defines electoral success which ultimately leads to the question of whether either woman has a chance at the presidency and ultimately a chance at enacting their religious beliefs = danger.

    My view is that Palin has no chance at the presidency because she has over-exposed herself to the voting public who have come to view her as ‘stupid’ and unworthy. Now don’t get me wrong, she still has her supporters. However, she is generally seen by Democrats, moderate Republicans and a majority of independants as ‘damaged goods’ (ie. really stupid).

    Bachmann is different. While she is seen as a wingnut by hard-core Democrats, Progressives and much of the scientific community, she is not seen as such by most of the national voting population, largely because she has only recently (ie. the CNN GOP leadership debate) come to widespread national attention. As a result, most of her past ‘stupid’ comments and extreme positions are unknown to most voters.

    Unlike Palin, whose communication skills are restricted to addressing her supporters and fellow believers (eg. blunt, parochial, gramatically butchered, red meat messages to the base) Bachmann can articulately communicate to a much broader audience while at the same time communicating directly to her religious and libertarian base. This is a BIG difference in level of ‘stupid’. Also, keep in mind that Bachmann came out of the CNN debate as the probable winner which has given her credibility with the big networks — not bad for stupid.

    Finally, Bachmann is very good at raising a lot of money. In fact, she`s one of the best and that is not bad for being stupid, not bad at all. On the other hand, Palin is merely OK at raising money.

    (2) You said, “The real issue is the insatiably ambitious appetite for political power in each of these women DESPITE their obvious stupidity.”

    Wrong! Insatiable ambition for political power is probably a prerequisite for anyone rising to the top and running for president.

    The issue is that Bachmann (unlike Palin) can, in spite of her extreme policy positions, rise to the top ranks of the GOP and have a reasonable chance at getting on the GOP ticket for 2012 and hence the Presidency. I submit that this is possible because she is appearing as a relative moderate in a sea of extremists, unbelievable though it appears. Palin, if she runs for the Presidency, will not be on the GOP ticket but will instead run as an Independant, we can only hope. Obviously this would be a STUPID thing to do, but, in the end, that is Ms Palin.

    Try to remember that although you and I know that she is extreme, the majority of American voters are only now just becoming aware of Bachmann. Unlike Palin, they don`t know she`s a kook because the vast majority of voters don`t give a darn about politics other than to vote for the party they have always voted for (if they even bother to vote).

    Also, keep in mind that the majority of voters are not reading CROOKS & LIARS or DAILY KOS or watching Maddow, Olberman and the gang. As well, when media outlets like Fox are not actively supporting her, they are largely giving Bachmann (and to a lesser extent) Palin a critical pass on their policy positions.

    Further, the voting demographics are very much in the GOP`s favor and that can only help Bachmann if she`s on the GOP ticket. To explain, Obama`s election was a result of moderates trying something new and some of the youth vote coming out – A BIG CHANGE which current polling are not clearly showing.

    For example, historically, the 18-35 age range don`t vote, the 35-50 age group generally vote and the 50+ age group votes to the tune of something like 80%. Now, break those numbers down into progressive and conservative voters and you see that the conservatives (largely older voters) vote while the progressives (largely younger voters) don`t. Given that Palin and Bachmann are operating as GOP they therefore have a large group of voters by default whereas their Democrat opponent is always working really hard just to get the base out. If you add vote suppression and other dirty tricks it becomes even harder to get the Democratic vote out.

    So I submit that the real issue is broken democracy in the US. This, in turn, allows a wingnut a reasonable chance at the Presidency.

    (3) Bachmann is dangerous.

    1. She has a reasonable chance at the Presidency because she is politically smart (smarter than Palin) and is undergoing a slower, more managed rise to the national stage.
    2. She has biased view of science.
    3. She strongly believes that the US is fundamentally a theocracy.
    4. She sincerely believes the end times are upon us and, should she attain the Presidency, could be in a position to help bring her prophecy about.

    (Palin is not dangerous because she will never attain powe)r.

    (4) “help readers understand what they are really up against lest Science as a Candle in the Dark be blown out.”?

    I submit that Phil`s audience is already largely aware of Bachmann as a supporter of ID, voodoo economics and the regular GOP platform and that by simply giving her a shallow going over he`s missing an opportunity to take a deeper look into (1) her beliefs, (2) her political potential (3) the structure behind her beliefs and her political ambition — the Dominionist movement and (4) the damage she could cause to science and all of us should she, or anyone like her, attain power.

    In short, there is a far deeper and more interesting story behind Michele Bachmann than simply her support of ID.

    As for the rest, figure it out.

    …………………………………………………………………..

    Otherwise, Anchor, go blow smoke up someone else`s butt.

    Cheers

  119. Anchor

    Oh my, it seems I’ve rather accurately anticipated the reactionary exhibition of ire:

    “It is most often a heightened over-sensitivity on the part of those who personally over-identify themselves with their conceptual positions who unjustifiably cry foul. It is the over-sensitive who most often stray off the issue and resort to ad hominem attack out of a perceived need to defend themselves rather than their position.”

    ’nuff said.

  120. Darth Robo

    @ Aaron

    —“That is the problem, the majority of people do not really know what the theory of evolution is, nor could they properly defend that belief. There’s no disputing that DNA is information. To get that DNA, that enormous amount of complex information, even in the simplest form of life, by random chance is impossible. If you’ve never studied Biochemistry or Molecular biology, then you can’t speak authoritatively on the matter.”

    Then SHUSH dear boy! And PLEASE stop with the kitten-hate!

    And here’s a question for all those who won’t answer it, what exactly IS the “scientific theory” of ID/Creationism?

  121. Ron1

    Anchor, the technical term for your affliction is called projection.

    Cheers

  122. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    It appears that our ‘friend’ Aaron has buggered off!

  123. Tribeca Mike

    Rep. Bachmann doesn’t go far enough. Among other things, students should also have the option of either learning multiplication tables or counting with their fingers (let’s face it, anything over ten is just too complicated); which language to speak in English class (the Slavic languages are more said to be subtler); and what toppings will be served on pizza day.

  124. Nigel Depledge

    MattF (108) said:

    Sure, spend some time teaching evolution as a concept, but evolution should also undergird the rest of the course, lending its relevant insight and understanding as the material deepens. It shouldn’t be constrained to the few hours you might be able to spend on a detailed treatment of it.

    Yes! This!

  125. Nigel Depledge

    MattF (116) said:

    What falsifiable predictions does Intelligent Design make?

    Someone, somewhere, at some time, designed some of the stuff we find in biology, somehow.

    But actually, this has already been falsified*, so it no longer counts.

    * I should qualify this. Every “example” of design that the ID authors have proposed has been shown to fail their own criteria. Dembski’s “explanatory filter” has never been used to unambiguously detect design (as opposed to some other property such as manufacture) and Dembski has never been able to explain what he means by design (or intelligence) without the logical fallacy of argument by analogy (it’s a fallacy because an analogy isn’t the thing itself – you can use analogy to illustrate an argument, but an analogy cannot form the basis of your argument).

  126. Nigel Depledge

    Additionally:
    Behe’s irreducibly complex “systems” are neither irreducible nor all that complex; complexity itself is not an indicator of design (simplicity is an indicator of design; think about it); and it has been shown that Behe’s examples all rely on entirely arbitrary selection of what constitutes the “system” and what constitutes the “parts”. And what constitutes the “function”.

  127. Nigel Depledge

    Bill Stewart (117) said:

    Unlike creationism, ID says that evolution did happen, but all in one week in 4004BC instead of over billions of years.

    No, it doesn’t. ID is vague enough that it lets people believe that this is so, but it does not claim this.

    What ID claims is that evolution by itself cannot account for the diversity and complexity of life that we find on Earth today. However, ID seeks to replace evolution with nothing but arm-waving vagueness. Also, every argument made to support ID applies the false dichotomy of “not evolution, therefore ID” and makes illogical and unsupportable claims about evolution, design, intelligence and complexity.

    For example, if you parse through the works of Billy Dembski, you find, among the obfuscation and waffle, a concept that he terms Complex Specified Information (CSI). He never defines it specifically, instead trying to convey it through analogy, but he does – at various separate points – define Complexity, Specification and Information. They are all, according to Dembski, the inverse of probability.

    So, his CSI is “improbably improbable improbability”. IOW, Dembski’s major thesis is an argument from personal incredulity : “that seems pretty unlikely to me, therefore it cannot be true”.

  128. Nigel Depledge

    Jaranath (118) said:

    Citing authority is not useless. But ultimately, given a choice between arguing based on overwhelming scientific evidence and arguing based on overwhelming scientific consensus, I’ll favor the evidence.

    This may be so, but when people are largely ignorant of what the evidence is and its import, then the consensus of experts really does serve as a guide.

    Seriously, the collective noun for scientists ought to be “an argument”. You will never find more passionate disagreement over details than in a scientific conference.

  129. Darth Robo

    128. Nigel Depledge

    —“Someone, somewhere, at some time, designed some of the stuff we find in biology, somehow. But actually, this has already been falsified*, so it no longer counts.”

    At the risk of being nitpicky, I disagree. While many specific claims of ID/Cers have been falsified (Irreducible Complexity, Young Earth, etc) have been falsified, these are ultimately anti-evolution claims which are able to be compared with reality and either confirmed or falsified. The claim is then that since evolution is wrong then Goddidit with magic, and such reasoning is a logical fallacy in itself. But the falsifiability in these cases are referring to the validity of evolution, which IS falsifiable (but not been falsified yet of course).

    However the main claim that some kind of intelligent entity was somehow responsible for “designing” biological life and even the universe itself has NOT been falsified – because the premise as it stands is non-falsifiable. And if it’s not falsifiable, it’s not scientific. Once the ID/Cers are able to to narrow down the definitions enough for us to be able to perform some kind of scientific research in order test the hypothesis, THEN it becomes amenable to verification or falsification, and therefore scientific. Unfortunately for them all they have is “Something didit, somehow, somewhere, at sometime”. Which leaves them up the proverbial creak.

    It is still *possible* that such an entity exists that created the universe and all life in it. But until we are provided with testable evidence of such, it is also equally possible that the entity in question is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And that’s the very point of the FSM, that it demonstrates that ID/C and FSMism are both equally valid concepts.

  130. Nigel Depledge

    Anchor (121) said:

    Oh my, it seems I’ve rather accurately anticipated the reactionary exhibition of ire:
    [snip]

    Er, no, not really. Ron1 (120) was pretty calm and lucid. If you call that ire, then you really are over-sensitive.

  131. Nigel Depledge

    Darth Robo (132) said:

    However the main claim that some kind of intelligent entity was somehow responsible for “designing” biological life and even the universe itself has NOT been falsified – because the premise as it stands is non-falsifiable.

    No, you are not being excessively nitpicky.

    And if I couldn’t handle a bit of nitpicking, I shouldn’t comment here at all!

    Anyhoo . . .

    You are largely correct, of course, I was oversimplifying the situation.

    I should have more clearly stated that it is the cases put forth by the creationID proponentsists as evidence for design that have been falsified.

  132. Nigel Depledge

    Aaron (76) said:

    Bachmann does not need to be an expert in a subject to know whether or not it’s important.

    True, but irrelevant.

    Also, how well she is able to explain and defend Intelligent Design has nothing to do with the validity of it.

    True, but her comments typify the feebleness of the defence of ID. It has no validity.

    That she is standing up for what she believes in is what we all do, what we should do.

    Except in this case her beliefs are contradicted by reality. So standing up for those beliefs makes her an idiot in the eyes of anyone who understands that reality.

    Adults today have been through an education system that teaches evolution as fact, not the theory that it is,

    Several things wrong with your statement here:
    1. Very often, evolution is not tauight in US schools;
    1a. Where evolution is taught, it is too often glossed over as an add-on, rather than the fundamental unifying principle that it is.
    2. Evolution is a fact. Biological entities change over time.
    2a. Evolution is also a theory, i.e. an description of the mechanisms by which biological change occurs. This description explains the facts that we observe in biology.
    2b Evolution is also a history, the history of how living things are interrelated.

    and it’s caused the prejudices that many blindly hold.

    Nope. Not unless accepting reality the way it is counts as a prejudice these days.

    When an argument comes along that challenges evolution,

    Such as what?

    it’s automatically dismissed because if this.

    If you refer to ID, that was given a fair hearing. It was then torn to shreds because it was (a) illogical and (b) at odds with the facts.

    That is the problem, the majority of people do not really know what the theory of evolution is,

    Yourself included, it would appear.

    nor could they properly defend that belief.

    Huh? What belief?

    There’s no disputing that DNA is information.

    Yes there is. DNA is a double-stranded anti-parallel linear polymer of nucleotides containing four different basic aromatic nitrogen heterocycles. The sequence in which those heterocyclic bases occur contains information.

    To get that DNA, that enormous amount of complex information, even in the simplest form of life, by random chance is impossible.

    There are several things wrong with your comment here, too:
    1. DNA contains simple information. It is, after all, merely a four-letter code that obeys the laws of chemistry.
    2. The amount of information contained in DNA sequences was not always large. There is plenty of evidence that genetic information has accumulated over time.
    3a. If by “the simplest forms of life” you mean viruses, then many of these have very simple genetic information. Lambda phage, if memory serves, contains only about 10 genes.
    3b. If by “the simplest forms of life” you mean free-living bacteria or archaea, these have had about 3 billion years in which to accumulate new information.
    4. No-one is claiming that large amounts of information have accumulated by random chance (except people like you who wish to have a strawman at which to pitch coconuts). Evolution is not a random process. Adaptive change is driven by selection pressure In fact, by Billy Dembski’s own definition of design, evolution qualifies as a design process (but so does a sieve, so Dembski’s definition is not all that useful).
    5. Finally, who are you to know what is and is not possible? There are some things that we can confidently dismiss as ludicrously unlikely, but evolution ain’t one of them. Evolution by natural selection (and other mechanisms) is far more plausible than any proposed alternative.

    If you’ve never studied Biochemistry or Molecular biology, then you can’t speak authoritatively on the matter.

    Fortunately I have a PhD in biochemistry, so I can authoritatively state that you know not of what you speak.

  133. jaranath

    Nigel @ 131:

    Oh, I very much agree. I think we’re stuck with needing argument from authority in the broad social arena, so we have to make the best of it. I just detest it and try to keep it to a minimum. Ultimately the goal still needs to be an evidence-based understanding, even if that’s more long-term.

    And I totally second your motion for “an argument of scientists.”

  134. Nigel Depledge

    Ragin Kagin (90) said:

    I like giving Phil a hard time because I miss his days of addressing poor science in movies and actual astronomy.

    You call that (comment #32) giving Phil a hard time?

    And, BTW, you seem to have missed all of his recent posts about astronomy.

  135. Nigel Depledge

    @ Jaranath (136) –
    :-)

    I also agree that argument from authority should be kept to an absolute minimum. But when arguing about ID or whatever, you either make one, or you turn into a nerd of evangelical proportions.

    If there is a third way, I don’t know what it might be.

  136. jaranath

    Blunt objects?

  137. Reuel

    Evolution is not science! Neither is ID.
    If evolution is being classified as science, then ID can also be classified as science by the same std. Data are same – only listing two possible conclusions.

    What is evolution?
    “NOTHING + long TIME= life & universe today”.
    It a LIE used to indoctrinate students into the atheism religion. An idolatry.

    The constitution declares that everyone has unalienable rights endowed by the CREATOR – life, freedom and pursuit of happiness.

    Creator was mention means there is creation.
    So scientists have no right to say there is no creation because they will voilate the constitution. They also will voilate freedom and they must be held responsible if children becomes morally corrupt and one day go to hell.

    God will judge.
    The God I believe is the resurrection and the life. He walked on water.
    1. Evolution Idol & liar – Darwin is dead & now in hell.
    2. Evolution Idol & liar – Stephen Hawkins is condemned by God – now can’t even talk and on wheel chair. (Just talk & walk..you evolutionist!)

    Truth hurts.
    Bachmann is telling the truth.

    I have 2 science degrees one in chemistry & another in biochemistry. I believe a creator because he never fail to answer my prayers.

  138. PayasYouStargaze

    I call Poe on Reuel. At least, I really hope he’s a Poe.

  139. Darth Robo

    I’m also presuming Reuel is a Poe. But just in case:

    —“Evolution is not science! Neither is ID.
    If evolution is being classified as science, then ID can also be classified as science by the same std. Data are same – only listing two possible conclusions.”

    False. One conclusion is an assumption. One is derived from evidence. The latter would be evolution.

    —“What is evolution?
    “NOTHING + long TIME= life & universe today”.
    It a LIE used to indoctrinate students into the atheism religion. An idolatry.”

    It appears you don’t even know what evolution means. Evolution deals SPECIFICALLY with explaining the diversification of biological life on Earth. That’s it. It also makes no theological claims, just like every other field of science. It is “agnostic” on the concept of “God”.

    —“The constitution declares that everyone has unalienable rights endowed by the CREATOR – life, freedom and pursuit of happiness.”

    Incorrect, you are referring to the Delcaration of Independance, which has NOTHING to do with the establishment of the laws laid down in the US Constitution. Also, I was created by my parents. That’s the nice thing about the abiguity of the reference to the ‘Creator’ in the document. It no more supports Christianity than it does any other religion or philosophy.

    —“Creator was mention means there is creation.”

    And even if it was referring to your particular favourite God, saying it exists is not the same as demonstrating it exists. However this is irrelevant to the validity of evolution.

    —“So scientists have no right to say there is no creation because they will voilate the constitution.”

    And since that’s not what evolution claims then that is not a problem. I point out Francis Collins as an example, former head of the Genome Sequencing Project, Christian, and evolutionary biologist.

    —“The God I believe is the resurrection and the life. He walked on water.”

    Your religious beliefs are irrelevant to the validity of science.

    —“1. Evolution Idol & liar – Darwin is dead & now in hell.
    2. Evolution Idol & liar – Stephen Hawkins is condemned by God – now can’t even talk and on wheel chair.”

    Just one problem: YOU don’t get to decide who does and who doesn’t go to hell. Judge not, lest you be judged. And yet here you are VIOLATING the Word of God, for the sake of your own blind arrogance. I wonder, is there any such thing as a HUMBLE Christian anymore?

    —“Truth hurts.”

    “Truth” is subjective. We’re only interested in facts and evidence. You have nothing to offer except preaching, which is irrelevant to a scientific discussion.

    —“Bachmann is telling the truth.”

    Bachmann is ignorant and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. This is a very common problem amongst those who deny scientific reality for the sake of their faith.

    —“I have 2 science degrees one in chemistry & another in biochemistry.”

    You’re lying. We know this due to your mischaracterization of evolution at the beginning of your post. We also know this due to your preoccupation with preaching instead of making any kind of scientific case. That’s TWICE you’ve VIOLATED the commands laid out by the Word of God. So why is it that you fundies ALWAYS lie?

    —“I believe a creator because he never fail to answer my prayers.”

    Not interested as it’s irrelevant. Thanks.

    Now, do you have a SCIENTIFIC alternative for explaining the diversification of life on Earth? If so, let’s hear it. If not, stop lying for Jesus and admit you reject evolution for theological reasons. Thanks in advance.

  140. Nigel Depledge

    I was gonna give the troll a kicking, but Darth Robo beat me to it. Darn time zones…

  141. Les Johnson

    Gosh, that was fun. Let’s do it again tomorrow.

  142. Darth Robo

    Oh, they will…

  143. Nigel Depledge

    Darth Robo (142) said:

    I wonder, is there any such thing as a HUMBLE Christian anymore?

    Erm … maybe the ones who don’t participate in online discussions?

  144. Captn Tommy

    Just an observation…

    If these people are Christians, why are “they” so hateful?

    Why consentrate on a Hateful OLD testement, when Jesus taught respect for ALL.

    “They” don’t seem to get it… Jesus was killed by religious leaders to protect their power. All religious leaders, Catholics, Communists, Nazis, Jews, Maoists, Evangelists preach hate to control “their” people. Only EDUCATION, and separation of Gov. and Religion can prevent (hopefully) the nontolerant from gaining ground.

    Think about it

  145. Darth Robo

    Because you’re forgetting the fundie martyr complex. Anyone who disagrees with their religious opinions must “obviously” be a “hater”, because the ignorant arrogant dishonest lying fundies couldn’t *possibly* be anything else other than pure, sweet and innocent. And therefore the only ones in the world deservedly destined for paradise at the end of the day.

  146. Robert

    Come on, everyone should love the idea of democratic classrooms where students at the beginning of the year decide by democratic process what is true and what is false.
    Kindergarten’s where the mathematical principle of 1+1=1 in fact where every answer equals 1 because we are all one nation under god (hence any part of that nation including mathematics should equal one), easy tests with easy answers that everyone passes.
    History classes based upon the principle if it isn’t written is the bible than it didn’t happen ie the last two thousand odd years is just a figment of your imagination (bit tricky when it comes to the Christian creation ‘er’ founding of the 13 states US the rest of the states are a non-founding fathers lie, if the founding fathers meant for them to be there they would have been in the original document, that doesn’t really exist because it’s not in the bible, so there).

  147. Randy

    Students are not in the class to decide anything. They are there to be taught.

  148. Phyllis

    Here’s my take on things: if you want your child being taught Christian ideals, enroll them into one of a million parochial schools or homeschool them, but leave my children out of this! If I wanted my children to be taught creationism, I’d sit them down, crack open a bible and teach it to them myself and I wouldn’t want some science teacher telling them that Genesis is on the same factual footing as Darwin. Darwin’s work has only been proven by modern developments and discoveries, such as the mapping of all those genomes (and I hear they’re constantly completing more), whereas Genesis was intended to be allegorical. All good Christians knew this until the end of the Victorian era and a strange fundamentalist movement sprang up, convincing everyone to take the bible as literal fact. To me, that’s like taking Aesop’s fables as literal fact, which would be ridiculous!! They were meant to teach moral lessons, the reader was intended to look through the allegory and distill and internalize the message. The bible is the same. I would not object to a Religious Studies course being taught in public schools, but leave it out of the science classroom!!

  149. If poison mushrooms grow and babies come with crooked backs, if goiters thrive and dogs go mad what’s unnatural? – Lion in Winter. I see no intelligence in intelligent design.

  150. Steve

    “Each particular thought is valueless if it is the result of irrational causes. Obviously, then, the whole process of human thought, that we call Reason, is equally valueless if it is the result of irrational causes. Hence, every theory of the universe which makes the mind a result of irrational causes is inadmissible, for it would be a proof that there are no such proofs. Which is nonsense. But Naturalism [evolution], as commonly held, is precisely a theory of this sort.” – CS Lewis

  151. Sir Isly

    Fascinating. There is quite provably an etheric/spirit world. It must have become before the physical world, and is the underlying structure.
    So, however biological changes are made, ultimately it’s source is the etheric/spirit/non-physical world. Since you can provably contact this world, ask questions and get answers (Edgar Cayce, for example) it is intelligent. Call it God or whatever, but there is an all pervasive intelligence that made the physical world, and will continue to exist after the last star burns out.
    This is what the evidence shows, period.

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