Friday, October 30, 2015

Another example of Intelligent Design in action

The first point I want to raise is one of the things I have been saying about the Discovery Institute for a while is their inability to see the difference between 'intelligent design' and 'Intelligent Design'.  They are frequently posting about how this effort or that effort that uses human intelligence to accomplish something is an example of Intelligent Design.  Of course, as you might guess, I completely disagree.  The main reason I disagree is because they have yet to define a theory of ID that can actually be used.  I've posted a bit about this just recently (Intelligent Design vs intelligent design).  Exactly how do you justify anything as an example of ID?

The second point is one of their rationalizations that ID is not religious is because they don't use religious terms.  Remember recently they whined about an article that didn't mention religion was listed under the heading of Religion in the Washington Post (When Spin starts with a Lie, is it still Spin? I don't think so!).  Of course they forgot to mention that it was a press release by the Religious News Service . . . but why irritate anyone with actual facts.

OK, so point one is their rush to claim the applicability and usefulness of ID whenever anyone engages their brain to do pretty much anything.  And they also use the justification of not using religion, or religious terms, as one of the reasons ID is not religious.  So that being the case, what if we have an example of not only having the brain engaged, but also uses their own terminology? Shouldn't they be claiming this as another incredible example of ID in action?

"The Rise of Intimate Technology: meet the new wave of smart sex toys that will give you a bespoke orgasm"

In the article they also expressly use the term 'intelligent design' (I added the underlining):
"Where Tinder, Bumble and Hinge ushered in a new kind of dating, notably derided this summer as a ‘dating apocalypse’, intelligent design is bringing an uplift in how we make love — a sexual revolution 2.0."
So here we have an obvious example of intelligence in use and they even use the phrase 'intelligent design', so why aren't the talking heads at the Discovery Institute crowing about this as the latest crowning achievement of ID at work?  Seems just as reasonable as all their other 'examples', doesn't it? (tongue firmed embedded in cheek)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Are Creationists running out of targets?

Just recently I posted

"At the end they take a swipe at a Disney movie coming out that features a young Charles Darwin.  I have to assume the movie will present Darwin in a positive light, which would annoy the DI to no end.  Since I don't expect historical accuracy from Disney movies, my expectations for such a movie would normally be pretty low, but if the DI wants to start whining about it months/years before it's released, I have to raise my expectations.  I mean anything that makes the DI act as if someone pissed in their cornflakes has got to have many redeeming features!" (I think the Discovery Institute has been enjoying Washington's new Marijuana Laws)
I thought it was pretty funny that the DI had to take potshots at Disney.  But then when their toothless attacks on Darwin and other real scientists haven't been too effective, a Disney movie might be more their speed.

Well the DI isn't alone with taking shots at Disney.  This time it's little kennie ham and he is complaining that another movie, this one is animated and called "The Good Dinosaur".  Since the premise, according to ham, is what might things have been like if the dinosaurs had not been wiped out 65,000,000 years ago.  He not only calls the extinction event a 'supposed asteroid impact', but he's trying to get his Hamians to sell folks on the idea that dinosaurs and man lived together.  I guess once again when your attempts to gum to death real science fail, you have to take targets of opportunity and a children's animated movie is more than likely right up little kennie's alley.

Monday, October 19, 2015

So There is Nothing Religious About Intelligent Design (Part VIII)

As usual, amidst all the cries from the DI about how their ideas are science there comes one more piece of evidence to the contrary.  One of the things that I know I have mentioned before that the Discovery Institute only find support within communities that already share their religious beliefs.  Recently they posted an article: "Ideas Have Consequences: A Report from the National Conference on Christian Apologetics".  I added the bolding for a little emphasis, just in case you missed it.  Apparently over 1500 apologetics attended this conference.

The DI's talking head, Paul Nelson (of the infamous 'Paul Nelson Day'), not just attended, but gave three presentations.  He hosted a showing of their latest bit of propaganda, "Living Waters" in which they try and sell their Intelligent Design . . . again.  Later he gave two other presentations "Dr. Seuss Biology: How Evolutionary Theory Hinders Biological Discovery." and "The Fall of Darwin's Tree of Life, and What That Means for 21st Century Biology."

First of all about 100 people attended the screening.  Wait, let me get this straight, 1500 attendees at the conference and about 100 attend the screening.  So 6.7%, and yet they crow about it?  You know what they call a baseball played with a .060 batting average?  Unless they are a 100 mph pitcher, you can call them unemployed.  Yet in spite of this, they claim to have:

" . . . received many positive comments and excellent queries . . ."
 So out of 6.7%, exactly how many does it take to be defined as 'many'?  My guess would be not very.  Now one small confusing note is this later line about the screening:
"All who had seen it said how terrific the film is."
So after the screening to a very small percentage of attendees -- of whom some unknown number that quantifies as 'many' in the eyes of the DI suddenly becomes "all who saw it", really?  You know in a college paper, any one of my professors would have been all over that one!

Of course they offer no attendance figures for the other presentations, which seems a little suspicious.  I suspect that if the numbers exceeded the screening, they would have been front and center of this article.  I mean if they made it all the way past 13.4% they would claim to have doubled the screening attendance.  You can picture the headlines:  "Nelson doubles attendance figures", or some such nonsense.

The article goes on to mention other pro-ID presentations, one of which bragged about a three-year old article by Michael Denton published in a journal called BIO-Complexity.  Now before you get too impressed, please remember that BIO-Complexity is the in-house journal of the DI's pet lab, the Biologics Institute.  Reminds me of one of the things Mark Chancey (SMU Chair of the Department of Religious Studies) said a few years back, and still applies today:
"They [ID proponents] have created their own in-house journals that they describe as "peer-reviewed." . . . universities do not consider a self-serving house organ as truly peer-reviewed; such venues are regarded as fake journals"
OK, enough of this.  At the start I said that the DI only seems to find support within certain communities and while they doesn't seem to be all that much support (6.7%), this article is a prime example.  I can only imagine if they tried these tactics at a legitimate scientific conference, their level of support would be even less.  Of course they would never try and give such a presentation . . . they prefer to claim some sort of discrimination than actually attempt such a presentation.

So once more, with feeling, there's nothing religious about ID?  Not in this lifetime!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

When Spin starts with a Lie, is it still Spin? I don't think so!

A couple of days ago little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer told a lie.  I know that probably surprises few people, but it typically made me laugh.  First off, let's discuss the lie, then we can discuss the rest of his post "Countering Arguments You Don't Like, the Passive-Aggressive Way".  Klingy discusses an article by Kristin Powers on assisted-suicide.  Well more accurately he was talking about comments made about the article by another Discovery Institute talking head.  So it is possible that klingy was just repeating a lie?  Maybe, but that would just mean that he failed to do his homework and validate the facts before repeating a lie.  Here is what klingy and his buddy Wesley Smith, another senior fellow at the DI, said:

"The article by Kirsten Powers is all about public policy, and about language -- how "verbal cloaking is the stock in trade of the 'right-to-die' forces" -- not religion. There's no mention of religion or anything to do with it, but the newspaper published the piece under the prominent heading, "Religion."" 
It's a real article, published by Washington Post under the prominent heading of 'Religion'.  Klingy's whine is that since the article didn't mention 'Religion' it shouldn't have been published under that heading.  I can see his point, since ID does it's best to distance itself from religion, obviously anything else labeled as religion must be in error if it fails to use the word 'religion'.  But is that a viable position?

I Googled for the article and found it at the Washington Post, I also saw that the source of the article was listed right there as the 'Religious News Service'.  Here's the screenshot:

I also found the article at USA Today, "Kirsten Powers: Suicide by any other name", they listed it under 'Opinion'.  Most of the sites I saw the article, or discussions of the article, were under the heading of Religion.  So I think the whole whine by klingy and Smith is nothing but a spin.  They have an unsupportable objection and then klingy has to try and use it to his advantage.  To me this spin attempt is basically a lie.

Now to his whining.  His angle is he doesn't like the fact that places like Barnes and Noble put Intelligent Design books in places like "Religion" or "Christian Living".  So he basically tells a lie and then tries to use that as justification for putting ID in the science section in the bookstore.  Does that make any sense to you?  I find it more humorous than anything else.  

So why would booksellers put books like "Darwin's Doubt" and "Signature in the Cell" under Christian Living? 
  • Could it be that most books about ID are published by religious imprints like Harper-One?  That would be one clue.  
  • Could it be that Intelligent Design has been found to be a religious argument in Federal Court?  In fact any defense put up by the DI during the Dover Trial failed to separate ID from Creationism in any way.  That might count as part of the reason.  
  • Could it be that ID has yet to do any of the scientific methodology that would earn them the designation of 'Science'? 
How about all of the arguments from the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at SMU, Dr. Mark A. Chancey that I have posted about before in  "So there is nothing religious about ID? Part IV".  In fact let's repeat of a few of those and see a list of reasons ID might be well deserving of it being filed under 'Christian Living':
  • Intelligent Design originated within certain religious circles
  • [ID] has credibility only within those same circles-mostly theologically conservative Christian groups that find aspects of evolutionary theory threatening
  • Many ID proponents with academic positions work at religious institutions devoted to promoting particular theological views
  • IDers sometimes publish books-but most of these are with religious, not academic, presses
  • ID research is not rigorous, substantial or convincing enough to be published in genuine academic venues
  • Unable to publish their work in legitimate academic venues, they nonetheless present it as cutting-edge science
  • They deny or obscure the fact that ID is grounded in a particular religious worldview and yet regard it as a tool to promote socially and theologically conservative Christian positions.
Klingy use another phrase I am not sure he understands:
"B&N would undoubtedly be smarter to shelf Darwin's Doubt under Science where it belongs, rather than under "Christian Life,""
Would that be smarter?  Taking a religious argument and positioning under 'Science' would give their 'work' a validity they have yet to earn through scientific work.  I've made this argument before, just like the error journalists make by assuming two opposing arguments deserve equal time in an effort to appear unbiased.  When you artificially inflate any argument and make it appear equal to another argument, you are in fact being biased and granting them a position they do not deserve.  Putting books like 'Darwin's Doubt' in the Science section would be granting it a level of validity that it has yet to gain through honest means.
Now from my point of view, I think Barnes and Noble put it under Christian Living because they do not have a section called 'Pseudo-Science'.  Now that would be much more honest and much smarter.  But imagine the hue and cry from klingy and his buds if Barnes and Noble did just that!  I think that would be absolutely hilarious.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Can we simply agree to disagree?

Short answer, No!  But you know me, I can't leave things with just a short answer.

Recently the DI posted on Facebook about their new film:

I responded to the post on Facebook:
"Let's see . . .One of Intelligent Design's proponents Michael Behe stated that no one was doing the work to support ID as an actual scientific theory. One of the founders of the modern Intelligent Design Movement, Phillip E. Johnson was disappointed that their scientists haven't been able to formulate a actual theory of Intelligent Design. One of the frequent claims is that Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion, yet the only people who seem to support it support it for philosophical (religious) reasons. A twenty-minute video isn't going to fix that. If it is really science then do what the Chairman of the RELIGIOUS STUDIES at SMU said"
A few folks responded including one that said this:
"Just say you have a strong ideological objection to ID and be done."
He said a bit more, generally re-hashing the continual whine about imagined conspiracies of silence, but this was the part I wanted to discuss here.  Is addressing it in such a simple way reasonable?  I don't think so.  Here is the part of my response that addressed this:
"The reason I don't simply say that I have issues with ID and leave it at that is because it creates a false dichotomy. Agreeing to simply disagree gives the impression that ID is somehow equal to real science and that any disagreement is based on philosophical grounds. The difference is that after 150+ years of evolutionary study and the mountains of evidential support for evolution, Evolution is science. ID boils down to nothing but wishful thinking. The two are not equal sides of an argument."
Hopefully you see my point.  Simply agreeing to disagree implies that the two sides of the argument are equal and when they are not, it comes across as a victory for the weaker argument to at least be considered equal.  To me it falls into the same area as scientists who refuse to debate Intelligent Design proponents.  Even though ID proponents arguments get crushed by their own lack of evidence, the fact the debate happened is crowed about claiming some equality between their arguments and real science.  You can see the headlines "We are Valid because Real Scientists talk to us!", which certainly misrepresents the two arguments.

I've made the argument for a while that journalism constantly makes that same mistake, providing equal time to opposing arguments in an effort to appear unbiased.  But when the arguments are clearly not equal, granting equal time is a mistake and inflates the weaker argument.  When comparing Evolution with ID, Evolution is science and has evidential support and ID is pseudo-science and is a philosophical marketing scheme that benefit from people trying to appear fair by granting it equal standing.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

So There is Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design (Part VIII)

Back a few years ago the Discovery Institute (DI) had one of their revival meetings.  It was sponsored and organized by PULSE and Victory Campus Ministries and held at Southern Methodist University.  The reason I bring this up is partially a reminder and also because it does relate.  At the end of that meeting Stephen C. Meyer thanks for SMU Administration for hosting it, which was a lie!  The location was SMU, the host was this PULSE and Victory Campus Ministries.  I blogged about it in "4 nails in the coffin containing the remains of the Discovery Institute credibility."  My point, other than pointing out the basic dishonesty of the Discovery Institute was to also remind you that there is a difference between being the location for an event and hosting it.  The University, like many organizations allow the use of their facilities for a multitude of purposes.

Today caught a post on the DI's Evolution News and Views site, "Register for Christian Scientific Society Conference, Hosted at Discovery Institute".  Not only are they hosting it, but they are advertising it.  So, Intelligent Design has NOTHING to do with religion, yet the Christian Scientific Society is having a conference and the DI is doing more than just being the location.  Hasn't the lie about not having anything to do with religion finally faded?

I do love this:

"The theme of the meeting will be "What is Information?"
Wouldn't it help if the folks at the DI actually knew something about the topic first?  Seriously, to the DI the whole idea of information has been twisted around to the point they pretty much use it as a knee-jerk comment about just about anything, it's gotten so messed up even little kennie ham's folks use it.  I think those self-described Christian Scientists could learn more from "Information Theory and Creationism" than anything they might hear at the DI.  But then since they are already "an ID-friendly organization", they probably won't listen.