Friday, June 20, 2008

New Book, The Devil in Dover

Terrific Article about a book on the Dover trial and an interview with the author! This should be required reading for State Legislators who think the Discovery Institute is their friend.

I haven't read the book yet, but I'll be at my local Barnes and Noble this weekend, so if it's there, I will pick it up. The article itself was interesting reading. If any of you saw the PBS Nova special on the Dover Trial, link here, the author , Lauri Lebo, was discussed mainly in her relationship to her father which deteriorated because they ended up on opposing sides during the trial.

One point in the article I thought was interesting was the role of journalism. In an effort to remain impartial, are they actually helping one side of an argument or another? I was surprised by how . . . impartial . . . the two reporters who were slandered by the defense in the Dover case remained even during their own testimony.

Well in any event I am looking forward to reading the book. I'll throw in another report once I have.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Topix thoughts

I have been spending a lot of time on Topix, it's a clearing hose for links to articles and forums to discuss them. Of course one of the busiest debates on Topix involved Evolution. One of the funny things I have discovered is how quickly every forum topic 'devolves' down into those who support science on one side and those who do not on the other -- the funny part is it is regardless of the forum topic.

For example a Topix started by an article called "Intelligent Design: Coming To A State Legislature Near You" concerned an article about some of the stranger tactics being used in some State Legislatures and the teaching of Evolution in the classroom. In less than 3 responses the whole discussion because a two sided debate about the merits of evolution, the demerits of Creationism, and a sprinkling of ID. The whole topic of what was going on in state legislatures faded well into the background. You could take the 14 or so blog posts I called "Arguments", about many of the more common arguments against Evolution and you will pretty well see each one rear it's head. This forum is over 10,000 posts.

But then you go over to another topic " Should Evolution be taught in High School?", which is well over 18,000 posts now and you will see the same thing. This one really drove the message home to me because the original article isn't about the merits of evolution, but whether of not evolution is too advanced a topic for high-schoolers to learn and high school teachers to teach correctly. But nearly immediately you see the immediate dichotomy of most posters. Some come in to learn something, but most of the Creationists are so entrenched in their thinking that nothing said is going to make a difference.

Now before you ask, are some of the evolution supporters also entrenched, and the answer is Yes. But the difference, as I see it, the evolution supporters are much more willing to discuss, link to supporting material, and freely admit to many of the truths that science isn't perfect, science doesn't know everything, there is still work to be done. While the entrenched Creationists simple dig their hole deeper and become much more dogmatic as each and every one of their arguments gets shot full of holes. After a while many of them become seriously abusive. Yes, again some evolution supporters also respond in an abusive manner, but once again more as a defense after being called all kinds of interesting pejoratives.

OK, so where do I see this Blog post going and to be honest I'm not sure. I did want to bring people attention to Topix and to wading carefully into the debate there. Be warned that if you support Evolution, it doesn't matter how much support you bring to the table, you will get the standard set of Creationist websites brought up, the usual and very tired arguments will be put on the table, and eventually you will be the object of some narrow-minded idiot's abusive. But you will also learn a lot of new things, aside from new curse words. There are some brilliant posters like Fossil Bob, a geologist, Katydid, who works in evolutionary biology in some area, and Tomk who I suspect is a physicist. That doesn't begin to identify some of the brilliant posters on Topix, but jump on in and join the party. If you are dealing with Creationist/ID supporters in your world, I bet you will also learn a few arguments to thump them around and tug on their chains. It's part of the fun!