Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Honesty From the NCSE brings out the Foolishness in the DI, but then most things do, don't they?

Do these guys even read articles before responding to them?  I'm talking about the Discovery Institute (DI), of course.  It's somewhat funny.  I read a lot of articles and blogs and am always looking for something that peaks my interest to blog about.  As I look back over my own posts I do see two very common targets, The DI and Answers in Genesis (AiG).  For a few minutes I thought maybe I was targeting them too often and that I was missing other, more interesting, things.  Then they come along and say something so incredibly foolish that I just can't help posting about it.

Case in point "Sleepless in Oakland" is a response to an National Center for Science Education post "The Big Bang is Giving Me Big Headaches".  I really suggest you read the NCSE post before diving into the idiocy of Donald McLaughlin's response.

Reading through the NCSE post was interesting.  It wasn't a precise about the Big Bang, but more a description of Minda Berbeco's emotional reaction to learning more about the Big Bang.  She recognizes that answering many scientific questions isn't about the data, but about dealing with misconceptions that have become rooted in people's emotions.  As she says:

"Although data is powerful, most often the conflicts teachers experience have nothing to do with evidence."
Anyone who has wandered the web and read and responded to some of the wild things being said about such topics as Evolution, The Big Bang, and Climate Change has experienced this first hand.  Here is a very recent example.  I have a Facebook page.  I don't use it for too much but just the other day I saw a Facebook post from the DI from the First of Feb:

It was a link to their self-conducted poll that we talked about in "A New 'Poll' conducted by the DI says what the DI says, what a surprise!"  Well to be honest when I saw the post I nearly just ignored it, but out of curiosity I wanted to see if anyone responded to it.  I was pretty shocked at the responses.  The very first reply I saw was this one:
"Alyson Miller Hi, I'm a biology teacher who teaches a LOT of evolution to a LOT of bright kids - so far, I haven't seen a single piece of quantifiable evidence against the facts supporting Darwin's Theory. Please show me one. Remember - I teach science, so it's got to be a measurable piece of evidence from the natural world, not the supernatural world. :-)"
I wasn't surprised reading her post, it made perfect sense to me. How often we hear the cry to teach both sides, but then no one seems to be able to find things contrary to evolution that are measurable.  It's usually conjecture and wishful thinking that they invest in emotionally.  Often people complain about teaching both sides of a topic as some level of 'fairness', but when the two sides are obviously not dealing with the same context, covering both in order to be 'fair' is actually completely artificial. It was something we previously discussed several times, including "Is it really fair? and Arguments IX - Should students learn arguments for and against Evolution?"

What did surprise me were many of the responses to her comment.  Here are a few:
Benjamin Parker Lori, then you are doing your students a disservice because you are teaching them PSEUDOscience. Evolution is a fraud. There's absolutely no facts or evidence to support it. Any idiot can look at two fossils and FANTASIZE ancestry but that is NOT evidence but pure speculation, lies or wishful thinking.
Michael Norten Do you teach junk science out of ignorance or rebellion?
Lori Bourque Where is the missing link? Why are there still apes? Why do 2 planets revolve counter. clockwise? Who was the master designer? Evolution has a lot of missing data..I opt opt for the heavenly designer....God the father of all creation
Benjamin Parker Evolution IS a religion which is why you evos steadfastly defend it despite the utter lack of evidence to support it. That's why even after being shown all the evidence shown AGAINST it ever occurring, you evos STILL cling to your evolutionary FAITH. That's called brainwashing.
Kenneth Davis Sorry Alyson but the facts you're referring to have only been connected to evolutionary theory with speculation. For example no observed evidence has shown that natural selection changed an organism from one distinctive type to another. In other words, all the bacteria and fruit flies that have ever mutated still remained bacteria and fruit flies and never any new organism. Nat. selection was built into each organism for adaptation but not with any possibility of becoming a new creature. The transitions are totally nonexistent.
Lori Bourque Doug I beg to differ there is mounds of evidence..literal physical and spiritual..what do you think is happening now it is the final battle and it was written thousands of years ago and it is unfolding before our eyes God knew the end from the beginning! This is the final battle
Mory Von Werner I always go back to first life. As of yet no one can explain how a putative first life could start. As you know, the first life would have to been incredibly complex --- thousands, if not millions of amino acid structural, functional tertiary and chiral machines. This Protobiont would necessarily have DNA information storage, and the information able to be read by RNA and move on to the Ribosome for building. All this had to fall together by chance in roiling seas, the chirality thing is off the charts impossible! But there's more! It needs a phospholipid cell wall to protect the functioning cell machinery. So, you need DNA to make a Cell wall, but DNA would not form in a perfect environment, much less the open roiling seas it was purported to have formed---no cell wall. And, not just here, but on billions of plantets--- thus, starting life all over this universe. The whole thing is dead in the water if abiogenisis is not possible (and it's not)

That's just a small sample of the well over 100 responses her single comment received.  Just look at some of the misconceptions people have stated, clearly they have little knowledge of the subject, or I should say subjects.  A total misunderstanding of Evolutionary Theory is about the only way to explain comments like 
  • "Evolution is a fraud. There's absolutely no facts or evidence to support it. "
  •  "Evolution IS a religion "
  • "Missing Link . . ."
  • "For example no observed evidence has shown that natural selection changed an organism from one distinctive type to another."
  • "The whole thing is dead in the water if abiogenisis is not possible (and it's not)"
What has happened to basic science education?  If you keep reading, it gets even worse.  The most common mistakes made by many of the posters reveals not only a lack of knowledge about evolution, but a totally dogmatic view of any potential alternative, regardless of its lack of scientific support!  

Today's Non-Sequitur is a particularly good one to illustrate these points.  I am posting the image here because many of the comic strip sites remove the images after a while.  I got it here. 

Now McLaughlin is a new name to me, so I decided to check him out just a little before even reading his response.  Here is part of his short bio from the DI:
"Donald McLaughlin joined Discovery Institute in August 2013, as a Development Officer and Regional Representative in the upper Midwest and Northeast regions. His areas of responsibility include cultivating and stewarding major gifts, and planned giving. Donald has had a successful career in development, including 8 years as a Regional Director of Advancement for Prison Fellowship Ministries, 2 years as National Director of Major Gifts for Teen Mania Ministries and 5 years as Regional Director of Advancement for Taylor University."(DI bio)

Now before getting into anything else, please note the following:  Prison Fellowship Ministries, Teen Mania Ministries, and Taylor University (a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana).  I just have to say this, for an organization that keeps trying to distance themselves from any religious connections, this is the type of person you hire?  Seriously?  Who was the past new employee I commented about?  Oh yes, Heather Zeigler.  Do you remember her?  I don't know if she still works there, but when they announced her hiring they tried to hide her religious education and affiliations. (So there is nothing religious about Intelligent Design? Part II)

So just what is McLaughlin's job?  Is he their resident expert on the Big Bang?  On Biology?  On Cosmology?  No, he's their 'Development Officer and Regional Representative in the upper Midwest and Northeast' who seems to be responsible for asking for and collecting donations.  Which obviously qualifies him to defend anything said about the Big Bang and the emotional impact such topics might cause in people!  I guess with little casey luskin's departure, they needed a new second-stringer to pinch hit for the big boys who are still crying over the UMC debacle (The Discovery Institute (DI) Doesn't get Invited to the Really Good PartiesThe United Methodists Explain their Denial of the DI, and the DI disagrees . . . Surprise, Surprise!, and The Discovery Institute has named their 'Censor of the Year' for 2016).

So what did little casey's replacement have to say? Not much! He tried to defend the indefensible concerning the DI's poorly-named academic freedom bills, something else we've discussed often (Are Academic Freedom Laws Anti-Science?).  Then he pretty much misrepresents what Minda said in an effort to twist things around . . . in other words typical DI spin.

Here is the one that really cracked me up.  He quotes Sir Arthur Eddington:
"The notion of a beginning is repugnant to me ... I simply do not believe that the present order of things started off with a bang. ... The expanding Universe is preposterous ... incredible ... it leaves me cold." 
So here is an Astronomer who passed away in 1944, who exemplified support for the Steady State Universe concept that was replaced years later by the Big Bang Theory with the advent of such supporting evidence as the cosmic microwave background radiation.  Couldn't find anyone more recent?  Donnie not only used him to justify the DI's religious beliefs, but he then postulates about Sir Arthur's sleeping issues.  

OK, that's enough of that.  Time to close this thing out, and Donnie's closing is pretty funny:
"For someone who has staked her professional career on that insistence that intelligent design is illusory, I see why that would lead to some sleepless nights."
No!  Minda has staked her professional career on science and scientific methodology.  Intelligent Design provides hours of humor, not sleepless nights.  But I guess there is no scientific subject that would give you any sleep trouble.  After all, Donnie, all you need to do is keep passing a collection plate.  Don't worry, as long as there are churches, you'll be employed!

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