Saturday, March 5, 2011

About me

One of the commenters over on Professor Campbell's blog made note of the fact that I am not a biologist and would probably not get any negative feedback on a biology blog because I am anti-ID. I responded with a comment of my own and I decided to post it here as well. So if any of you are interested in why I blog here, at other sites, like the Professor's BioBlog, and the Evolution debate on Topix, here is my reasoning:

I have never pretended to be working in any biology related field -- my bio on my own blog makes that clear. My education, as you rightly said, is in Information Technology. My education in biology is that of a pretty typical high school, college, and graduate school student. That being said I comment for several reasons.

First of all I am a target of the groups that push pseudo-science like Creationism/Intelligent Design. Not me personally, but I am the exact type of person at which the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis (to name a few) take aim. They aren't trying to convince scientists, if they were, they might actually do scientific work. No, they are after those of us who are not biologists and who are not scientists. We are the people who elect school boards, attend parent-teacher meetings, and rant and rave at our politicians. When my children's teacher is wrong, I have no issue letting them know that! If those groups can sell me on their ideas, I would be doing their job for them at my local and state school board and voting for various politicos! That's why they spend orders of magnitudes more money marketing and politicking than supporting actual science.

Secondly, I am not against Intelligent Design. When I first heard the idea I was intrigued, if you read back in my blog you might realize that. What I am not in favor of is teaching Intelligent Design as if it were science, because right now it is not. No one is doing the scientific leg-work. No one seems to be able to move past the appearance of design. Yet they make unsupported claims as they publish in popular and religious press -- including the Stephen Meyer diatribe (published in Harper One, the religious imprint of Harper-Collins) and never seem to offer anything actually peer-reviewed. They opened their own lab, which hasn't done it. They have started their own journal, and still haven't done anything with it. They even opened their own publishing house so they can get more of their material into bookstores without any requirement of actually supporting their ideas. Professor Campbell already mentioned the Sternberg controversy. I know ID proponents claim all sorts of conspiracies against them, but the one arena where their ideas would gain traction with biologists, and other scientists, is the one arena they seen to avoid like the plague -- the scientific lab. Until they do the work, I am against them being included in the science classroom. As I am against Astrology for Astronomy and Alchemy for Chemistry. The world isn't flat either.

Finally I am also against just about every tactic used by groups such as the Discovery Institute. You can read back in my blogs and see some of them. They lie, mis-direct, make unsupported claims, build straw-men arguments and then tear them down -- never advancing their own pet ideas past the wishful thinking stage. I mean look at what Casey Luskin tried to do with a teacher who simply said 'if a student answers a biology question with intelligent design will get down graded' (paraphrase). Why would anyone have an issue with that? But Casey is trying to use this down grade of an ID answer to support a law that Casey previously said would not bring Intelligent Design into the classroom. And that is not even close to one of the worst tactics in their quiver.

So while I am not, nor have I ever pretended to be, a biologist. That has no bearing on what I have commented on. I fully expect Professor Campbell and others to correct any errors I do make. She's a teacher, I think it comes with the job. The reason is not because I am pro-science, but because I am entitled to my opinion and I haven't tried to pass off bad information as if it were correct. I will leave you with the words of Dr. Chancey, Chair of the Religious Studies Department at SMU to place my participation in a better perspective:

"Many religious groups-Christian and other-do not regard evolutionary theory as a threat. For many people of faith, science and religion go hand in hand. When scholars criticize ID, they are not attacking religion. They are only asking ID proponents to be transparent in their agenda, accurate about their representations of scholarship, and willing to play by the same rules of peer review and quality control that legitimate scholars and scientists around the world follow every day."

I hope it makes as much sense to you as it did when I wrote it. I'll probably re-read it tomorrow and want to make massive changes. But I think the gist is there. I know it's wordy, but if you have been reading my blog, you already know about that character flaw.

Follow-up. I did re-read this and made a couple of grammar and spelling changes. I was tempted to re-do it and tighten it up, but since the original was posted on the Prof's blog, I left it intact. Unlike most ID/Creationism sites, the Prof allows for commenting. She does moderate, but she doesn't use that moderation to eliminate anyone who disagrees with her. I've tried to post before on the Discovery Institute, and other anti-science sites, those rare times they allow comments, but they never seem to let mine though their filters (Censorship is such an ugly word and Are computers evolving or is the Discovery Institute getting bored?).


  1. and in fact the only reason that comments aren't posted immediately is because that's how the uni IT people set things up. And so sometimes there's a delay between someone leaving a comment & that comment being published, because I can't be watching by blog 24/7.(I think my students would complain!)

  2. LOL, so it's more of a default setting. My students seem to expect me to be able to respond to them 24/7 as well, and I am an adjunct who teaches only one or two classes a semester.