Not exactly closed, but…

Today is one of those in-between work days — I have a deadline, but mostly I have a bunch of loose ends that need to be tied up. I need to make an appearance over at the DetNews blog, I need to catch up on e-mail, I need to reassert my land-of-living status with a few parties, I need to do a bunch of crap. So not much today.

But I did see this en route to looking up something else, and thought it had more to say today than I did, so what the hell. You may recall that when the Kansas state Board of Education decided to embrace so-called intelligent design in its recent vote, it also voted to change the definition of science; it dropped the phrase calling it “a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena.”

Last night I was talking to a friend, and said one of the weird things perplexing journalists these days is that, with the flowering of so many partisan news outlets, we can’t even agree on a set of facts upon which to base our assumptions. Were the swift boat veterans stationed anywhere near John Kerry? Did Valerie Plame send her own husband to Niger? And now we get to redefine science (science!), at least in Kansas.

“What we need is more people to say, ‘That’s a bunch of bullshit,'” he said. I think that’s what Three Way News did, rather succinctly:

These people balk at changing the definition of marriage to include same gendered couples but fall all over themselves in a rush to change the definition of science to include, well, the polar opposite of science? These people are worse than zealots, they’re fools. And never forget which party embraces this idiocy. It’s the party of a president who can give a speech to the nation on the danger of bird flu making the jump to humans yet still claims the jury is out on evolution. How exactly does he think that jump will be made? A late inning intelligent redesign of the virus?

Posted at 10:43 am in Uncategorized |

22 responses to “Not exactly closed, but…”

  1. ip address said on November 10, 2005 at 11:43 am

    The argument you cite is pure strawman. ID does not make the argument that there is no such mechanism as evolution through natural selection. Rather it argues that evolution is not sufficent to explain the origins of life and that the evidence (e.g the fossil record) does not support what might be termed as macro-evolution or vertical transformation between species. ID embraces the concept of micro-evolution, just not macro.

    One of the most compelling lines of reasoning within ID rests in a concept called irreducible complexity. Examples can be found in many of the systems within cells and particlularly in single cell organisms. The cellular flagella is one such example of an extremely complex system in which a convincing argument can be made that there could be no “descendant” system of lesser complexity (it would not function) and that such a system could not assemble by accident. The probability of such is beyond astronomical.

    Systems like this can effectively be argued to be intelligently designed. Their features contain massive amounts of “inf0rmation.” There and recognizable patterns and insane probabilities against accident. Darwin stated himself that if such items were found, his theory would be insufficient as an explanation for whence we came.

    So nihlists/atheists with a theological axe to grind can join with those ignorant in the sciences to trumpet weak arguments and ridicule (note, the first sign that one has lost an argument is to use ad-hominem). But the reasonable approach is to recognize that science and philosphy go hand-in-hand and have so since the classical age. To wonder and theorize on the origins of life is natural philosphy.

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  2. mary said on November 10, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    Dear posted by,

    ID is bullshit.

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  3. Nance said on November 10, 2005 at 1:47 pm

    Systems like this can effectively be argued to be intelligently designed.

    But not scientifically. You can’t say, “I can’t figure it out, so it must be the work of God.” That’s not the way science works, at least outside Kansas.

    BTW, Movable Type is not supposed to allow nameless postings. I suppose you figured out a workaround, but I don’t appreciate it. Use a pseudonym if you want, but don’t be a jerk.

    Oh, and the anti-ID side is composed of “nihilists and atheists”? Way to keep those attacks non-ad hominem.

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  4. Nance said on November 10, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    BTW, PZ Myers over at Pharyngula calls Mr. No-Name’s concept “the incredible shifting goalposts of irreducible complexity” and has a few more thoughts on it there. Try searching a few of Behe’s fave talking points — flagellum, for one — and read up.

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  5. ip address said on November 10, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    And you can’t say (in the case of origin of life), “I can’t figure it out, so it must be the work of some unknown natural phenomenon for which I have absolutely no proof, but it fits my personal philosophy and if I say that it took a long enough period of time, people may not cotton to the fact that I am really saying ‘once upon a time’ and that I am really taking a leap of faith.” That’s not the way science works either, anywhere.

    And you never address the fact that saying ID denies evolution is completely inaccurate. But you have your mind made up, I guess.

    Oh, and the anti-ID side is composed of “nihilists and atheists”? Want to keep those attacks non-ad hominem.

    No, not completely, but there are nihlists and aetheists in that camp. And my understanding is that those are completely dispassionate descriptions of two actual schools of philosophy. They are not ad hominem attacks like saying that anyone in the ID camp is an idiot who is full of bullshit.

    Who is being the jerk here?

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  6. brian stouder said on November 10, 2005 at 2:35 pm

    “Mr. No-Name’s concept”

    Hey – it could’a been the work of a “Ms No-Name”!!…

    You’re probably right – but still, just sayin’!

    I also noted the convenient moveable goal posts of his ‘ad hominem’ thing

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  7. brian stouder said on November 10, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    Looks like Mr No-Nmae is bucking for a deletion.

    I think Madam Telling Tales should assert her rightful reign over this realm, and delete the unsigned posts…or if that cannot be done, nuke the entry.

    But, that’s just my own evolved opinion, whether or not it is intelligently designed

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  8. mary said on November 10, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    nameless poster,

    I didn’t attack any person or persons believing in ID. I said ID is bullshit, and I stand by that.

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  9. joodyb said on November 10, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    As John said, whatever gets you through the night, people. Oh, and three words: feet of clay.

    I don’t know that this is necessarily fair, but then who gives a flyin’ hootyhoo at this point:

    Anyone have the misfortune of watching last night’s episode of Trading Spouses, that cultural-anthropological aberration of a tv show gone amok? The most disturbing thing I think I’ve ever seen on television. And the network walkoff? PRICELESS.

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  10. joodyb said on November 10, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, and Nance: Mark MADE us watch it.

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  11. mary said on November 10, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    I saw it. It took us all a while to recover. I was waiting for someone to tackle that woman and give her a tranquilizer shot.

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  12. Nance said on November 10, 2005 at 3:49 pm

    Bless me father, for I have sinned: I also watched “Trading Spouses” last night. Alan taunted me mercilessly, but I have to say, it may have been the best reality TV, EVUH.

    For those who didn’t see it, the traded spouses were one 450-pound religious hysteric and one 145-pound New Ager (non-hysteric variety). The hysteric had a freak-out at the end that was really amazing: She had a way of ranting where she didn’t just yell, she yelled in escalation up the scale, so her sentences, such as they were, ended on these screechy high notes: “She’s not a CHRISSSTIANNNNN! They’re DARK-SIIIIIDDEEEDDD!” Totally nuts.

    The New Ager got off easier, probably because she wasn’t mentally unbalanced, but she looked pretty silly, too, as when she did unspecified “hypnotherapy” on one of the daugters, who fell asleep.

    Brian, I know who Mr. No-Name is, and why he’s using his cloaking device. I don’t know why he’s acting so small about this, but eh. He’s right that science and philosophy go together, and that’s where ID belongs — in philosophy class. It ISN’T science, and anyone who tries to dress it up in the robes of science is simply not telling the truth. I think of ID as a stop for Christians who don’t want to hang with the snake-handlers who think Noah’s Ark handled two specimens of every species of earth, but still want to have tea with the Bishop.

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  13. Danny said on November 10, 2005 at 5:04 pm

    Actually, I wasn’t trying to be small about it so much as I was trying to get my arguments heard without bringing along what I would consider the baggage of my identity.

    But given that the last time I posted here, I called Nance a “douche” and announced self-imposed exile, neither of which I am proud of, I reckon that I am being small. It’s pretty embarrassing to be a hypocrite.

    Nancy, I apologize for that comment last summer. Like the hockey player in slapshot, “I feel shame.”

    Regarding, the philosphy thing, that distinction should also be made for other ideas that are not evidenced nor testable. Example: mix one part prebiotic soup, one part energy, one part tremendous scales of time (increase time as needed to manage improbability), ??shake or stir??… voila life, QED. That is philosophy too.

    Mary, I did not take what you were saying the wrong way. My comment was aimed at the original article that Nancy quoted in the main post.

    Hi, Brian, joodyb.

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  14. Nance said on November 10, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    All is forgiven. I am, alas, frequently a douche. Among other things.

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  15. mary said on November 10, 2005 at 7:23 pm

    You can always count on Pat Robertson to be the voice of reason.

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  16. brian stouder said on November 10, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    “You can always count on Pat Robertson to be the voice of reason.”

    Or at least, the voice buzzing in the brain of your average homicidal lunatic!

    ps – hi, Danny

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  17. Dorothy said on November 11, 2005 at 9:04 am

    You guys (and gals) are ENDLESSLY fascinating.

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  18. brian stouder said on November 11, 2005 at 9:22 am

    I agree with you, Dorothy – Nance draws an interesting crowd, most especially the women.

    For the past several years I’ve visited another website to argue about politics – and it is 100% male (and probably 99.9% white).

    So this place is always a pleasant change of pace

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  19. Danny said on November 11, 2005 at 9:56 am

    “May you live in interesting times.”

    Isn’t that a Chinese curse or something?

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  20. joodyb said on November 11, 2005 at 9:58 am

    Danny, I am relieved at your reveal.

    You have to realize that, to some of us, especially the journalistas, the very act of not signing your name to something signals that on some level you fear the battle.

    so heybackatcha.

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  21. joodyb said on November 11, 2005 at 10:07 am


    to perpetuate a blogger cliche, you nailed the TS episode, nance. there are so many things wrong with the series, the intent, the casting methods … the network, for chrissake. but even Fox couldn’t have bargained for this level of reality. i felt bewildered, bad, bad for the people, just plain bad for humanity all day yesterday.

    (and i watch Being Bonaduce, so i know whereof i speak.)

    oh, and you may have been many things in your life, but never a douche. even when you thought you were a nerd.

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  22. joodyb said on November 11, 2005 at 10:21 am

    cx: that would be BREAKING Bonaduce, this season.

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