Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh, Jonny boy...

Is Louisiana really as backwards as this guy thinks? It's no surprise John G. West is happy about the Louisiana Science Education Act. I mean, he is, after all, one of the senior fellows of the Discovery Institute, which has, so far, not really discovered anything. I have yet to read a scientific paper published by them which provides valid evidence of their claim that life must have been designed. I know they haven't done this because I've read EVERY PDF paper they have available. It is nothing but pseudointellectual jargon full of invalid arguments based upon faulty assumptions. So I think it's time to tear into Mr. West.

Yet in many schools today, instruction about controversial scientific issues is closer to propaganda than education. Teaching about global warming is about as nuanced as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Discussions about human sexuality recycle the junk science of biologist Alfred Kinsey and other ideologically driven researchers. And lessons about evolution present a caricature of modern evolutionary theory that papers over problems and fails to distinguish between fact and speculation.
Of course they caricature modern evolutionary theory. Your stories do, too. The reason is for simplicity. It would take YEARS of education to teach someone all the evidence for evolutionary theory. Your's, on the other hand, is caricatured much like a piñata. Hollow but for the things which taste good, but rot your teeth. In this case, it rots your understanding of biology and your brain, but it keeps with dogmatic beliefs...
In these areas, the “scientific” view is increasingly offered to students as a neat package of dogmatic assertions that just happens to parallel the political and cultural agenda of the Left.
I'm sorry, but perhaps it's time for you to revise your beliefs if the truth is offensive.
Real science, however, is a lot more messy — and interesting — than a set of ideological talking points. Most conservatives recognize this truth already when it comes to global warming.
Really, so why is it that so little is being done? And just because they acknowledge one theory is true (finally), this doesn't necessarily mean that these people are smart. What it means is that what scientists have known for years (the Earth is warming), and was denied by conservatives for years, was FINALLY accepted by them. This shows that scientists do, sometimes, know what they are talking about. Why do you think we don't know what we're talking about when it comes to evolutionary biology? Your example doesn't show that conservatives are smart, it shows that they are years behind scientific knowledge...
They know that whatever consensus exists among scientists about global warming, legitimate questions remain about its future impact on the environment, its various causes, and the best policies to combat it.
And what scientists don't agree with evolutionary biology? Is it because of some biased assumption? Is it because they have money involved in subverting the scientific community? (cough, Behe, cough)
They realize that efforts to suppress conflicting evidence and dissenting interpretations related to global warming actually compromise the cause of good science education rather than promote it.
Could they, you know, keep up with the science? They would have known global warming since the 1990s. Hell, many geologists knew about it before that. Again, you're not being completely honest, because there IS no evidence. I read every one of your papers, your "evidence" can just as easily be explained by other means without the need of a "designer."
The effort to suppress dissenting views on global warming is a part of a broader campaign to demonize any questioning of the “consensus” view on a whole range of controversial scientific issues — from embryonic stem-cell research to Darwinian evolution — and to brand such interest in healthy debate as a “war on science.”
There will never be a consensus in science, that's partially why it works so well. We are constantly improving our understanding of things. Teaching what we know is useful, teaching what we are unsure of is not useful. We KNOW animals evolve, we KNOW one of the mechanisms is natural selection, we KNOW that another mechanism is genetic drift, we KNOW DNA is a heritable material, we KNOW new traits can arise via evolution, we KNOW how these traits arise, we KNOW all animals on Earth now share a common ancestor, we KNOW lots of things and with what we know, we speculate, propose hypotheses, and test these hypotheses. With these new observations, we apply those data to modern theories to see if it refines any of our understanding. THAT is science.
The Louisiana Science Education Act offers such teachers a modest measure of protection. Under the law, school districts may permit teachers to “use supplementary textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.”
Yes, I'm sure these materials will be provided by the Discovery Institute, also...
The act is not a license for teachers to do anything they want. Instruction must be “objective,” inappropriate materials may be vetoed by the state board of education, and the law explicitly prohibits teaching religion in the name of science, stating that its provisions “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine.”
Yea, but will it be religion in the guise of pseudoscience?
Of course, that hasn’t stopped the usual suspects from denouncing the bill as a nefarious plot to sneak religion into the classroom. The good news is that the disinformation campaign proved a massive failure in Louisiana. Only three members of the state legislature voted against the measure, which attracted nearly universal support from both political parties.

I never said our legislators and governor were intelligent. Not once have I ever said that of many politicians... I doubt any of them would know "objective" aside from the definition as "main goal" when used by military leaders...
Efforts to prevent local scientists from supporting the bill also failed. At a legislative hearing in May, three college professors (two biologists and one chemist) testified in favor of the bill, specifically challenging the claim that there are no legitimate scientific criticisms of Neo-Darwinism, the modern theory of evolution that accounts for biological complexity through an undirected process of natural selection acting on random mutations.
It's the Modern Synthesis, Neo-Darwinism doesn't tell the whole picture. It also implies that Darwin had a huge play in it, implying that it is rehashed old ideas. Too bad the Modern Synthesis isn't that simple. Is that why you can't understand it, Mr. West?
Facts have implications. If it really is a “fact” that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact has consequences for how we view life.
Well, it is true that the evolution of life was unplanned, but I would not say evolution is by chance or necessity. It is a complex interplay of plasticity, naturally occurring genetic variation, which is SELECTED for based upon evolvability (which relates to developmental plasticity). This is a straw man argument, IDiot...
In a Darwinian worldview, even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out — which is why theistic evolutionist Kenneth Miller argues that human beings are a mere “happenstance” of evolutionary history, and that if evolution played over again it might produce thinking mollusks rather than us.
Shouldn't this give you pause? You know, that Kenneth Miller - a theist - is convinced that evolution happens? Lenski put forth a pretty cool paper recently involving evolutionary probability and what leads to it... I think Lenski put another nail in the hollow coffin of ID. Also, animals with large brains are not a teleological result of evolution. It is a result of selective pressures, if they select for larger brains, then larger brains will result.
Today, science is typically portrayed as self-correcting, but it took decades for most evolutionary biologists to disassociate themselves from the junk science of eugenics. For years, the most consistent critics of eugenics were traditionalist Roman Catholics, who were denounced by scientists for letting their religion stand in the way of scientific progress. The implication was that religious people had no right to speak out on public issues involving science.
Roman Catholics who killed millions during the crusades? The ones that helped Hitler? Those Catholics were not convinced of eugenics? They were practicing eugenics! Also, I would like to call into question what makes eugenics wrong other than our social contract? It is a subjective idea that killing humans is bad. I am actually in favor of culling humans to lower numbers, not based upon some arbitrary race, but by how useful the individual is to society, how much they can benefit society, and whether the job they do for society is useful. In other words, instead of support life-long criminals and multiple repeat offenders which are simply a detriment to society, let's study their brains, their genes, their cells, figure out what makes them tick. If it is genetic, sterilize them, if it is developmental, prevent them from raising children. If it is a combination of the two, as it seems to be with modern evidence, sterilize them anyway. Now, the part about eugenics which WAS incorrect is that differing races are somehow "inferior" or "superior" to one another. THIS was the major part which was incorrect.

That was also a justification for a bias. Instead of simply saying that some group was, in hindsight, wrong about a certain thing, you should explain WHY scientists are wrong now, which you still haven't done. You are simply saying that "hey, these people made a mistake, look, see? They're wrong again! Oh, I can't support that claim, but they are!" Even though pretty much every practicing scientist from the early 1900s is dead or at least no longer a scientist. What makes you think the current generation of scientists are equally wrong about something which HAS LOTS of evidence to support it? Quit bitching and produce evidence, this is all we ask.


RWA said...

Great post. I posted my own takedown of West a few weeks ago,
right here

Jonathan said...

Wait... global warming is real???!!!

You're shittin me!!! Fuck... Al Gore was right, G_d-dammit!!!

Jonathan said...

That sure is an inconvenient truth...

Jared said...

he wasn't exactly right... Many other causal factors probably play a role in the current climate change we are experiencing, not just CO2.


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