Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Klingy thinks Medical Doctors' Opinions are Important, on non-medical topics, Is it?

Does the Discovery Institute really understand the word 'hypothetical'?  I don't think so.  In little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer Evolution and 'news' and Views post "The Medical Background to Intelligent Design", I think he misses the point.  But then since he is repeating a constant Creationist trope, it might be understandable.  Here is a quote of his:

"Biological systems not only need to exist but to function properly. It's no use tracing a hypothetical path of evolutionary descent unless every living thing along that path was fully functional in the real world."
The trope I mention is their continual insistence that a biological system must exist in its final and absolute state in order for it to be considered functional.  How many times does this have to be addressed before he, and the rest of the DI get it?  Michael Behe tried this with his 'Irreducible Complexity (IC)' and that work so well that he's backed off considerably from providing examples.  He got his hat handed to him after testifying about it during the 2005 Dover trial and and the court said:
The court found that "Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large." (Wikipedia: Irreducible Complexity)
If you don't recall the details, here's a quickie refresher: He argued that evolution, particularly evolution by Natural Selection, was impossible because 'certain' biological systems cannot evolve by successive small modifications to pre-existing functional systems.  He cited a number of potential systems, like blood clotting factor and the immune system as irreducibly complex.  However, when faced with over 50 peer-reviewed articles and papers explaining these in evolutionary terms, he rejected them out of hand saying that they were not enough.  You can see why the court said what it said about it.

My initial reaction was much simpler.  Michael Behe postulates an idea with absolutely no support except for wishful thinking and conjecture . . . and rejects actual peer-reviewed papers that he hasn't even bothered to read.  Anyone else see something wrong with that?

Anyway, you can see klingy is beating on that drum again.  Only he's not calling is IC, but the premise is the same.  He seems to define 'function properly' as functioning in the way the current biological system functions.  What he does is dismiss any possibility of the parts that make up a biological system having any other function.  Like all DI'ers, he discounts it.  He is once again claiming evolution's impossibility, while failing to support is argument with anything other than wishful thinking.

I do enjoy how he brought in medical doctors into the argument.  Back in 2005 the Discovery Institute claimed 60% of medical doctors didn't believe in evolution, in In 2007, the Jewish Theological Seminary conducted a survey on this topic, finding that 78 percent of doctors accept evolution.  As we have said before, you can find a survey on any subject that will support a particular view, so surveys like these are meaningless.  The real question is "Is it important that a practicing medical doctor accept evolution?"  The answer seems to be that for the most part, no.

When I first realized that, I was more than a bit surprised.  But when you think it through, doctors use the results of the biological science, but are not necessarily educated in understanding the details. Most specialties in medicine require no actual study or understanding of evolutionary theory to do their jobs.  There are some, like dealing with infectious diseases or cancers where evolution is key to their work, but for the most part doctors don't need it. Their focus is on the here-and-now and not on how we got here.  So when is comes to asking medical doctors about their level of belief in evolution, the answer isn't very important.  Which pretty well makes the DI's point meaningless. 

I haven't checked, but I am sure there are some medical doctors who signed to 'Dissent from Darwinism' petition, that's we've discussed all too often.  If you remember those posts, while the statement they signed claimed to dissent for scientific reasons, the reality was they signed for religious reasons.  I am sure there are a number of doctors who have a philosophical stand against evolution, but I doubt those that use evolution as part of their medical duties would agree.  Remember that while doctors are highly educated, the education is tightly focused.

While I am sure doctors wouldn't like the comparison, but can a car mechanic build a car?  No, that's not their job or training.  That is similar for medical doctors.  I have three degrees dealing with computers, but I cannot build a computer.  I can assemble one from parts purchased from multiple sources, as I have done on a number of occasions.  I can fix them, program them, network them . . . but I do not have the training or experience to 'build' one.  Why would we expect doctors to know everything about biology?  I wouldn't go to a biologist for a medical diagnosis, would you?

Of course the DI doesn't care about the reality.  All they care about to be able to string together words and phrases that make it sound like Evolution is on its knees.  You know for a scientific theory whose death knell has been declared continually for over a century and a half, its constant survival might seem surprising, until you look at the actual attacks.  Then it's easy to see why it's still the most supported theory in biology, maybe in all of science.

Certainly makes a point, but is it the right point?!

Caught this from one of my favorite strips Non Sequitur:

While I am sure folks can think of examples where religion inhibited science, Galileo and the current Creationism are two examples, I think this strip might overstate it a bit.  There are many examples of religious organizations supporting science, including parochial schools performing cutting edge scientific research to the many advances made by theists of all sorts.  Personally I think instead of images of the Pope, a Rabbi, and an Islamic Cleric, I think images of little kennie ham, a televangelista, and maybe right-winger in an ill-fitting lab coat might be a better, although less obvious, point.  Just my $0.02.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Discovery Institute is annoyed because their version of Scientific Denial. . . isn't!

Little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer is up in arms that a National Review article about scientific dissent forgot to mention the Discovery Institute (DI) and Creationism/Intelligent Design (C/ID).  His post "Leaving Evolution Skeptics Out of a Discussion of Suppressing Scientific Dissent" is pretty funny.  Before looking at klingy's post, I would like to examine the original article, mainly for two reasons.  First of all, I do not trust anything quoted by a member of the Discovery Institute.  One of their favorite tactics is quote-mining, that is to deliberately take a quote out of context in order to make it sound as if it means something completely different.  The second reason the source he is quoting, the 'National Review', is not one of my favorite sources of information.  While they may not be guilty of quote-mining, they definitely like to spin things in a certain very right-wing direction.  So I would like to deal with their article before trying to makes heads or tails out of anything klingy has written.

The original post is "Who Are the Real Deniers of Science?", pulled from the National Review and written by Jonah Goldberg 20 May 2016. Just looking at the headline, you might guess how I would answer that question. But let's see what Jonah has to say:

"Masking opinions in a white smock is a brilliant, albeit infuriating and shabby, rhetorical tactic."
I agree, but I have to wonder if Jonah and I agree on who uses this tactic.  The ones that come to my mind include:
  • The makers of lead additives to gasoline, who for years poisoned our environment while earning millions, if not billions of dollars.  They had a few scientists on heir payroll and successfully fought to keep poisoning us for decades;
  • The tobacco industry who also obfuscated the dangers of tobacco with phony scientific claims for decades so they could keep selling poison for a profit;
  • and The oil and gas industry who are currently doing to same when it comes to addressing climate change, once again for the purpose of making billions.
Ah, Jonah takes a slightly different tack and takes aim at liberal causes, which does make sense considering the far-right leaning of the National Review.  Ah, here is an old trope:
"Scientists are constantly questioning their understanding of things; that is what science does."
Yes, by itself that statement is true, but the context is misleading. Science does question itself, constantly. But that doesn't invalidate what is known to be true today. Jonah makes it sound as if science cannot be trusted because it might change its mind.

However, when you think about it . . . to use my examples from above.  
  • Did science change what it knew about lead additives from the 1920's when the danger was discovered through to the 60's, 70's, and 80's when it was finally removed from gasoline?  Yes, and the more we learned the worse it got.  
  • Tobacco was the same way.  We learned it was bad and the more we learned the worse it got!  
  • Climate change and the relationship to fossil fuels and human activity is currently fighting that same argument.  The more we learn, the deeper the problem becomes and the more we need to take action.  But that action is seen as a threat to the industry folks who make billions off of it . . .. just like the makers of lead additives and tobacco.  
At no point in time did scientists 'change their mind', they only confirmed, re-confirmed, and refined the dangers.  Were we wrong about lead and tobacco?  Hasn't all the evidence from multinational sources of climate monitoring confirmed climate change?  The decade long fights to remove lead and force the tobacco industry to own up to its responsibilities and admit it's lies were not because of science changing its mind, but because of the political and legal activities of the industries behind them. One more quote form the article and then we'll move on to klingy's latest whine:
"Many liberals believe that “denying” climate science should be a criminal offense . . ."
That's a lie!  No one has said denying climate science, or climate change, should be a criminal offense.  What has been said was the people who deny climate change for the express purpose of profiting from it should be investigated for possible criminal activities.  Exactly like the Tobacco industry was!  Remember what they did.  They didn't just push tobacco products.  They had years and decade of research on the dangers of tobacco and they hid it and denied it.  That was criminal!  It deserved an investigation.  What if we find evidence that the fossil and gas industry was well aware of the dangers and suppressed them for the purposes of continued profits?  What if they colluded with other companies and politicians to hide the truth in order profit?  Wouldn't that deserve to be investigated?  But Jonah put a conservative spin!

Having an opinion about climate change is a matter of free speech.  But using that opinion to mislead others so you can continue to profit . . . that's a different story.  OK, enough about Jonah, let's see if klingy actually adds anything to the conversation.  Actually not much.  He's more annoyed that any conversation about science denial doesn't include those people who laugh at Creationism/Intelligent Design (C/ID).  Here's a quote:
"Except there is no mention of the subject on which censors have done the most to silence dissenters. That subject is Darwinian theory, of course. Not one word."
You know, klingy is simply repeating a common tactic of claiming Creationists and ID supporters are being censored for their views.  As you know, I disagree.  While the DI spins a different tale, anyone who looks at the situations objectively knows that Guillermo Gonzalez, Catherine Croker, Nathanial Abraham, and a few others had some negative career occurrences for failing to do their job.  Yes, the reason they failed to do their job might have had something to do with the time and energy they spent promoting Creationism, but the reason they got into some trouble was failing to do their job.  Folks like John Freshwater also got into trouble for assaulting students by burning crosses into their arms with an electrostatic device and also lying about what he was doing and what he was teaching.  David Coppedge was an ass who was held accountable when it came time to downsize a JPL program.  Of course the DI doesn't call him an ass for failing to keep his skills relevant and being known to be 'difficult' when dealing with customers and harassing co-workers on California Proposition 8 (Gay Marriage) and Intelligent Design.  But when you can't say something true, you spin things and declare Coppedge some sort of C/ID hero (Time to Re-Write History . . . Again)!

Another related whine is that the DI's stable of C/ID pets cannot get published in legitimate science journals.  I have two things to say about that.  The first is I am not aware of them actually submitting work to legitimate science journals.  That would tend to be a worthwhile statistic . . . if they are actually being turned down.  The second aren't my words, but the words of Mark Chancey, the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University:
"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." (SMU Daily Campus)
Little klingy closes with a quote from a Christian Professor who fears that coming out of the closet for Intelligent Design might get him fired. Here is the quote:
"It's not that they're being persecuted for belief in God. They're being persecuted for being associated with this movement [intelligent design]. So for example, I'm a Christian. None of my colleagues have a problem with that. But if I came out positive[ly] for intelligent design, the movement, I would probably be in danger of losing my job."
I would say the professor is more than a little paranoid.  Has Lehigh University fired Michael Behe for being an ID proponent?  Has any public university fired anyone for being a Christian, a Creationist, or an C/ID proponent?  No!  The only ones that have gotten disciplined in any way are the ones who failed in performing their job!  I bet Michael Behe hasn't let his interest in C/ID interfere with his work at Lehigh?  That's the problem!  Not being a proponent, but not doing their job!  That's what happened to Gonzalez at IU and Croker at George Mason.  Also, to be accurate, they weren't fired.  Gonzalez didn't get tenure and Croker's adjunct contract wasn't renewed, but the reason was their not doing their job!  Again, not because of ID, but because they didn't do the job they were hired to do.  Click the links and check out some of the actual facts and not klingy's spin.

As I said in other posts, I do consider the DI a nest of science deniers.  My reasoning is not that they support C/ID, but that they spend an inordinate amount of time arguing against evolution and a surprisingly little time developing their own ideas.  Look at their tactics?  How many of them are aimed at supporting ID as actual science?  Any of them?  Not that I can see.  They are all aimed at undermining science education with the intention that they can slip C/ID in without bothering to do the actual scientific work that would get them in the front door.  That makes them science deniers to me.  

As usual, klingy doesn't say much worth reading, but he does try and spin things around to draw attention to C/ID while claiming to be some sort of victim here.  It's another one of their common tactics.  They, the DI, are doing the denial of actual science while accusing the rest of the scientific community with imagined examples of censorship and suppressing scientific dissent.  You know, shouldn't Creationism/Intelligent Design actual be science before you can accuse of anyone arguing against them as science deniers?  But that would make sense, at least to me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Discovery Institute Key Word: "Intuition"

I posted once about this already (Design Intuition . . . is that really a Thing?), but it popped again in a post by davey 'klingy' klinghoffer.  I think it's going to be the latest thread running through any number of posts.  I'm sure other Discovery Institute posters will be having their say on 'Intuition'.  It might soon join the other DI arguments, like the Odds Argument, the Design Argument, and the most recent Information Argument.  These older arguments are never discarded, you just see them less and less.

Here is klingy's post "Chimps "Grieve" for a Lost Loved One, Just Like People?". Of course klingy disagrees with anything that can show a link between humans and any other species on the planet, but that's not the point I want to focus on. Here's the line:

"Of course it's another attempt to undermine our intuition that human beings are unique, including in our reactions to death"
But the main point here isn't the idea of uniqueness that theists like to claim for humanity, but the  . . . method, to use the word loosely, . . . that klingy and his buddies want us to use to justify that perception of uniqueness, intuition.  What he is really wanting people to do is to stop thinking.  Yes, you heard me.  Pardon the pun, but if you simply rely on your intuition to make decisions, aren't you refusing to think?  Seriously, look at the line and also look at the previous post on 'design intuition'. If your intuition is saying that humans are unique and special then why bother to think any further?  If your intuition tells you humans, the Earth, or the Solar System are designed, then why look any further?  You already 'know' the answer.  I wonder why that would sound appealing to klingy and his friends?

But do you really 'know' the answer, or do you just simply believe you know it?  There is a difference between the two.  If I had a choice between playing poker with nine intuition-based players or nine professional poker player who do not rely on their intuition at all, I know which table I would prefer! Doug Axe and klingy would make easy pickings on a poker table!  Mirriam-Webster defines intuition as:
: a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence
: a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why
: something that is known or understood without proof or evidence
it further defines it as :
1: quick and ready insight
2  a : immediate apprehension or cognition
    b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
    c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference
I have a little trouble with Merriam-Webster using the word 'knowledge' and 'know' because that implies the knowledge you may acquire through intuition to be correct. 'Conviction' I can understand, because intuition gives you the feeling of being correct, but that is not the same thing as being correct. As noted in my last post on this subject, Yale tested intuition in the 70's and found:
"Their level of accuracy, however, did not differ from that of non intuitive subjects."
So if intuition is just as accurate as non-intuition, what benefit do you gain?  There is nothing that implies that the knowledge gained through an intuitive process is in any way accurate.  Basically it's being sure you know something without being sure how you arrived at it, regardless of whether or not what you feel confident in what you know is correct. It does sound like a great tool for the Discovery Institute, doesn't it?

Plus you cannot forget that it is an individual activity, not a group-think.  For example if you intuitively believe something, you cannot pass that intuition along to me to share your belief.  So how is this better than a systematic approach to supporting ideas through science?  Simply put, it's not! Intuition can only take you so far, if you want to be successful, you have to step beyond your belief and support it with actual thought and even, dare I say it . . . evidence.

But klingy and his buddies don't want you thinking and they certainly don't want you looking at actual evidence.  They much prefer you share their belief set and argue against any who do not share it . . . like the majority of the rest of the world when it comes to Creationism/Intelligent Design.  They want you to accept a vague intuition on a subject and avoid taking it to the next level and engaging your brain.  What he forgets to intuition usually does have a basis.  Ah . . . once again I will use words that klingy hates . . . I ask that you think it through.

When someone who has an intuition about something finally does think about it, they usually find that their intuition is based on something else they already believe.  Not that what they already believe is correct or not, just that it is already something they believe to be true.  They just didn't make the connection at the time of their 'intuitive' event.

For example, someone who uses certain processes, like problem-solving, may intuitively come to a conclusion without having worked through the details of the problem-solving process. It's not that they have come to the correct, or even the best, answer, but that they believe they have an answer intuitively.  Remember, nothing about intuition requires the answer to be correct. Another example, someone who intuitively believes something about another person is often interpreting non-verbal behavior without consciously thinking about the behavior itself.  They are getting an impression, a feeling, without thinking how or why they got that feeling.  Are they right? Again, nothing gained through intuition is necessarily correct or incorrect, just a feeling. Have you ever misjudged someone based on first impression?

Problem-solving is a process, as is interpreting non-verbal behavior.  But when you rely on your intuition, people that are truly interested in solving a problem or ensuring their impression of a person is correct will go beyond their 'feeling'. Intuitively you might feel you have come to a good answer, but how you validate that is to go through the process. Examine the potential impact of your solution and examine other solutions. Your intuition might 'feel' OK, but what if someone has a better answer than yours? A good problem-solver isn't interested in playing the 'mine is better than yours' game, they want to implement the best solution, regardless of source.

Non-verbal clues are equally error prone.  In order to know if your impression is correct, it usually means learning more about the person you have some 'feeling' about.  Cultural mis-cues are especially telling.  I was teaching a class and one student never, ever looked me in the eye.  It drove me crazy!  My intuition said one thing, but the reality was the culture he was brought up in was to never make direct eye contact with an authority figure.  My culture says always make direct eye contact.  If I hadn't taken a small step and learned more about this one student I would have had a much harder time communicating with him.  My intuition led me astray, because it was based on how I grew up, not taking into account a very different culture.

So intuition has a basis . . . usually from something you learned previously.  Again, that doesn't mean it's correct, just that you arrived at a feeling without thinking things through.  So what might be the basis for klingy's intuition about human uniqueness or Dougie's design intuition?  Isn't that something people have been previously taught?

One of the cornerstones of Creationism is claiming that human beings are unique, of course religion squarely places that uniqueness in the hands of a Deity.  Objectively when you look at any animal, or really any organism, from some perspective there is something unique about all of them.  But I would say it's an example of human hubris to claim that we are the only unique organism on the planet.  But many religions do exactly that.  How many time have we heard "We are made in God's Image" or "God created the Heavens and the Earth" religious foolishness?  Is it any wonder when someone will believe something because of those teachings and later simply call them intuitive?

I have had a multitude of conversations with folks about their 'belief' and how they 'know' their belief is true.  It often centers around religious beliefs, but not always.  I've run into bigots who are just as bad.  They 'know' things about many types of people and are usually dead wrong.  Stereotypes are a poor measure of other people, but try explaining that to a bigot or racist.  Funny how you get an answer remarkably similiar to hard-core theists, "I know!" without a single clue how they 'know', they just 'know' so therefore why bother to think.

Klingy, and the DI, want you to use your 'intuition' to come to some conclusion and end any thought past that.  It could be because their belief set is the right one, but if that were true then it could withstand any level of scrutiny.  Has it?  Really?  Or do they prefer to avoid anything resembling scrutiny?  We all know the answer to that one.  If you want to know why, just look at the failure of their belief set within the realm of science.  The one area where their 'intuition' about design and Creationism can be validated is the one area where it has failed each and every test.  They have to resort to marketing, politics, and lawyer-ing word tricks to convince people they have something worth intuitively believing.

People who disagree with the DI and their pet version of Creationism have never once asked you to stop thinking!  That in itself is something to think about!  So, what I think is going to happen is a full-court press on the concept of 'intuition' in an effort market it to folks, after all, thinking is hard!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

John Hagee says not voting for Trump will piss off God!

"Evangelical preacher John Hagee warns his followers that God "will not hold them harmless" if they do not vote for Donald Trump." is the headline of a post from over on The Immoral Minority blog.  It links to a video posted on YouTube where one of the televangelistas, John Hagee, is pretty much instructing his followers not just to vote . . . which wouldn't actually bother me at all . . . and he's not just telling them who to vote for . . . which I do find a bit disturbing . . . be he is also telling them that God will be holding them responsible if they do not vote for Trump . . . that I find absolutely reprehensible.  Here, check it out yourself:

I am sure if the government attempted to tell Hagee's mega-church who should they 'elect' as the leader of that church, Hagee would be the first person screaming about the separation of church and state.  Conveniently he forgets it when it comes to his own political statements, and that he is actually threatening his followers with God if they don't toe his particular line.

This isn't the first time Hagee stepped into the pool of politics, but I do think it's the first time he has basically threatened his followers in this way, at least about politics.  I would find it hard to believe he hasn't threatened them with God's wrath many times before.  After all, it's the only weapon he has to control other people and have them donate to support his lifestyle, after all he's the 11th wealthiest televangelista in the US.  That didn't happen though a vow of poverty now did it?

It does make a certain amount of sense.  After all Hagee is one of those 'prosperity preachers', you know the ones John Oliver lampooned so perfectly not too long ago.  I am more than a bit surprised that he seems to think Trump is doing anything ther than vote pandering.  Seriously, look at Trump's past, where was his deep religious beliefs then?  Did anyone see any signed during his failed business deals, during his divorces, or during his infidelity?  Nope, but when he decided to run for office, he suddenly started waving a Bible. 

In reality, I don't really care what politico Hagee wants to support, it's using his religious beliefs to not just influence, but threaten his followers.  That's a new low, even for a televangelista.  And no, that's not a misspelling, I prefer to term televangelista.  It's not in the dictionary, but I think it makes a point more than calling him a preacher or evangelist.

Well, I would feel sorry for the members of his mega-church, but they seem to be good little sheep and will more than likely do what he says.  More's the pity!  And people wonder why I tend to laugh a great deal at organized religion, particularly the televangelista variety.  Hagee bought his followers' souls years ago, now he wants to own their votes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Andy Wakefield, still one of the most reviled doctors of his generation

You might find this hard to believe, but I do occasionally blog about things other than the DI and little kennie ham. I know it certainly does look like I spend most of my time in those areas, but I do read and post about other topics. While my excuse is that the DI and kennie are the source of so much foolishness and I do so enjoy dealing with their particular brand of idiocy. I do also derive a great deal of humor when reading the things they post. However, while they are pretty easy target, I have posted on other topics, and an area I have commented on a number of times, and one where I find no humor at all, is the prevalent anti-vaccination movement in this and other countries.

The majority of the modern anti-vaxx movement can be traced back to the unethical and criminal conduct of one Andrew Wakefield.  If you aren't familiar with Andy, he used to be a doctor until he did a pile of things that lost him that prestigious title -- all of these things revolved around his fraudulent claims that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism.  While it did make him a hero to other anti-vaxxers, like Jenny McCarthy, it also made him responsible for the resurgence of diseases that we had pretty much eradicated through the vaccination programs.  Which, in my opinion, makes his responsible for each and every one of the children who has had to suffer from those diseases and particularly responsible for every child that has died of those diseases.

So Andy is no longer a doctor, has moved the United States, and has a new job as a crusader against vaccines.  He's also made a movie about the subject which has been savagely reviewed as  . . .  for lack of a better word . . . crap.  But Andy, being Andy, refused to just go away.  He's been trying to salvage his reputation and recently made a video post of the website of his movie: (http://vaxxedthemovie.com/dr-andrew-wakefield-deals-with-allegations/).

For some reason they still call him a Dr. on his movie site, which I am not sure is appropriate because in January 2010 the United Kingdom General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that Wakefield had failed in his duties as a responsible consultant, acted against the interests of his patients [which were children], and was dishonest and irresponsible in his research.  In May 2010 he was struck off the United Kingdom medical register.  It was the harshest sanction that the GMC is allowed to impose, and it effectively ended his career as a doctor.  (Wikipedia: Andrew Wakefield)

As far as I know, he's not licensed to practice medicine of any kind here in the US.  So I guess calling him 'Dr' is the same as when someone calls Kent Holvind 'Dr Dino', or my personal favorite carbonated beverage 'Dr. Pepper', right?

But in any event, Andy posted a video responding to the criticisms of the claims he made in his movie and I caught a link to the Skeptical Raptor that takes each and every one of his self-defensive comments and rips them apart.  The post is detailed and very, very thorough.  Hope you enjoy it: "Andrew Wakefield – dishonest attempt at self-justification".  To quote the article:
Wakefield’s claims in the Allegations video can be put into three categories:
  1. there were no serious ethical violations or fraud in relation to the article he published in the Lancet;
  2. he’d done nothing wrong otherwise, measles outbreaks are not his fault, the GMC decision was generally wrong, and Walker-Smith’s acquittal shows that; and
  3. Brian Deer’s articles are a fraud motivated by a conspiracy.
None of these claims hold water.
I think I need to add the Skeptical Raptor to my reading list.  I do encourage you to enjoy the article and in particular the very specific dismantling of each and every claim made by Andy.  You know, Andy ought to sue . . . oh wait, didn't he try that in England and lost.  

A New York Times profile said:
"Andrew Wakefield has become one of the most reviled doctors of his generation, blamed directly and indirectly, depending on the accuser, for irresponsibly starting a panic with tragic repercussions: vaccination rates so low that childhood diseases once all but eradicated here—whooping cough and measles, among them—have re-emerged, endangering young lives." (Dominus, Susan (20 April 2011). "The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru"New York Times Magazine.  (Wikipedia: Andrew Wakefield
My final word on this subject, at least for this post is:

Vaccinate your Children!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Design Intuition . . . is that really a Thing?

A new book, published by Harper-One, the religious imprint of Harper-Collins, basically seems to tell us that our intuition about a subject is equal to our intellect about a subject.  Really?  So what we 'feel' is an accurate as what we know.  Does that really work in the real life?

The topic at hand is this new book by Douglas Axe called "Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed" and the Discovery Institute (DI) is announcing it "Book by Douglas Axe Shows the Key to Understanding Origins Is the "Design Intuition" -- Pre-Order Now!" Obviously I haven't read Doug's book yet, since they are fishing for pre-orders you know it hasn't been published yet. But I wanted to address a few things.
First of all Doug, he is the head over at the DI's pet lab -- the Biologic Institute (BI).  While the DI seems to spend time trying to convince people that the BI is separate from the DI (including firing the original director after he tied the mission of the 'lab' to intelligent design much more closely than the DI seems to publicly want.)  We must never forget who started the BI (the DI), who funds the BI (the DI), and even whose address is the public face of the BI (the DI).  We've discussed some of this before (Is Biologics part of the DI?).  So if anyone thought it was strange that the DI's pseudo-blog, the Evolution 'news', and Views (EnV) site is announcing Doug's new book, now you know why.

Secondly, the publisher is Harper-One, which we've also discussed before.  For an organization [the DI] so hell-bent on denying their religious connections, why would you publish a book through a religious imprint?  The only answer I can tell is that the book is inherently religious . . . well, that and unlike scientific publications, there is no requirement on supporting your arguments in religious books.  If you doubt the basic religiousness of Doug's book, lets look at the Amazon listing:

"Throughout his distinguished and unconventional career, engineer-turned-molecular-biologist Douglas Axe has been asking the questions that much of the scientific community would rather silence. Now, he presents his conclusions in this brave and pioneering book. Axe argues that the key to understanding our origin is the “design intuition”—the innate belief held by all humans that tasks we would need knowledge to accomplish can only be accomplished by someone who has that knowledge. For the ingenious task of inventing life, this knower can only be God."
The same thing is on their own announcement.  Anyone have any doubt about it now?  I thought not. Anyone care to wager that when this book is finally published, it gets relegated to the Christian Living section of your local bookstore?  I do have to ask is the DI admitting officially that their designer is God?  Yes, they said it, finally!

OK, so we have yet another religious book, by a not-very-hidden member of the DI, pushing what exactly?  How human intuition is the equal to human intellect.  Really?

Let's look at something very simple, falling objects.  For how long did intuition tell us heavier objects fell faster than lighter objects?  I mean it makes perfectly logical sense, doesn't it? Well it did for a long time until a guy named Galileo came along and showed us that all objects fall at the same rate, regardless of weight.  Our intuition was faulty, even though it 'felt' like the right answer.  That's the problem with 'intuition', it might be right, but it might also equally be wrong.  How are you sure?  It's easy, you go beyond your intuition and investigate . . . just like Galileo.

But for some reason the DI doesn't want you to do that.  They want you to rely on your intuition, and if you don't have any intuition, they'll tell you what to think.  Seriously, look at the press release.  Without any support at all, they are trying to convince you that 'design intuition' is somehow going to magically explain away 150 of actual usable and useful science.  Ever see a movie knowing you are going to have to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the movie.  It's kinda like that.  Before we go off on the DI again, let's look at intuition itself.

So just what is intuition?  Basically is it being convinced you know something without being aware of how you know it, that is without a rational thought or process to reach what you think you know.  You might be making decisions based on what you 'know', but in any event the knowing without knowing how you know is frequently called intuition.  It's also called instinct, experience, gut-feel, and a few other terms.

For example reading people's body language and facial expressions is a common example of intuition.  Without sitting there and rationally examining things like the frown on someone's face, their crossed arms, or posture, you get an idea of what that person might be like or what they might be thinking at that moment without going through a long, drawn out thought process.  That's an example of intuition because you don't consciously consider it, but you make a judgment on impression you are picking up, almost subconsciously.  You might be right, you might be wrong, but what you have done is convinced yourself to the point of a conclusion.  Think about any time you interviewed a person for a position within your organization.  Your impressions make up a larger part of your evaluation than many people realize.  That's intuition at work.  Have you ever hired someone that didn't work out?  Where was the failure?  It might have been in your gut-feel.  Be honest!

If you think about it, much of your intuition is based on experience.  You know what a frown means, or the crossing of the arms can be seen as defensive, or someone leaning forward or even backward. You've been interacting with people all your life and your brain catalogs these non-verbal clues and then uses then often with going through a conscious effort.  For example have you ever met someone you instantly disliked? You make those sort of judgements all the time, job interviews are a good example. 

I had an experience recently.  My boss introduced a gentleman to me.  He said his name and what the person's interest in our project was going to be and I shook the guy's hand . . . I shook his cold, clammy, and even slightly greasy, very soft handshake.  I instantly disliked the person and it took a great deal of effort not to wipe my hand on my pants leg as we stood there talking.  It wasn't until later when  my boss asked me about my reaction to the guy that I realized why I didn't like him.  I thought it was interesting that my boss picked up on it quickly, you might say intuitively.  But then, my boss knows me!

But how does 'knowing without thinking' really help us explore scientific topics?  I don't think it does to the degree this book seems to want us to accept.  A scientist might 'intuitively' come up with an idea, but it's the exploration that shapes the idea well past the intuitive first blush.  A scientist who relies on that 'intuition' without doing the leg work to not only confirm the idea, but build the rational support structure under the idea, isn't much of a scientist . . . more of a pseudo-scientist . . . which might explain why the DI, and their pet pseudo-scientist Doug Axe likes it so much.  Here's one of the things about 'intuition' from Wikipedia:
"Intuitive abilities were quantitatively tested at Yale University in the 1970s. While studying nonverbal communication, researchers noted that some subjects were able to read nonverbal facial cues before reinforcement occurred. In employing a similar design, they noted that highly intuitive subjects made decisions quickly but could not identify their rationale. Their level of accuracy, however, did not differ from that of non intuitive subjects." (Wikipedia: Intuition)
Interesting, their level of accuracy did not differ from non-intuitive subjects.  Sounds like intuition is more like a crap shoot than anything else.  So a scientist might use their intuition to develop a novel idea, but without the work to support it, it's nothing but conjecture and wishful thinking.  Sound familiar?

Of course the DI loves this idea.  They have been collecting other people's money and selling conjecture and wishful thinking for years, they just call it 'Intelligent Design'.  I know I have asked many, many times for them to get off their marketing asses and get into the lab and either do the work that will support their idea, or reach the conclusion that it is useless.  But either they refuse to do the work, are incapable of doing it, or unwilling to do it.  In any case they prefer marketing to actual science.  So there we have it.  The DI is trying to sell the idea that intuition is just as valid an investigative tool as intellect, but as we have seen.  They need this because they have nothing else!

There is a role for intuition for jump-starting ideas, but without the very things the DI doesn't seem able or willing to do, intuitive ideas simply fall by the wayside.  You cannot support ideas through intuition, you cannot force your wishful thinking on to other people.  You have to take the next step . . . it's called science.

I'm sure the DI will be hawking this book like they do all their religious material.  But my intuition tells me it will be just as successful -- which isn't very complimentary.  People who already share their religious beliefs will praise it and the majority of the scientific world will give it the attention it deserves, little to none.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Time to Re-Write History . . . Again

A few years have past so now it's time for the Discovery Institute (DI) to resurrect David Coppedge and paint him as another martyr for the cause.  The post by the toothless chihuahua davey 'klingy' klinghoffer is "World Magazine Tells David Coppedge's Powerful Story" and, as I recall, it wasn't a very powerful story, actually it was pretty dull.

Let me nutshell it for you, if you aren't familiar.  Coppedge preaches to co-workers about Intelligent Design and his personal homophobia to the point of Human Resource complaints and does a poor job in an unpaid leadership position.  He gets counseled and relieved of his leadership position . . which was an unofficial position, an additional duty.  He sues claiming religious discrimination for his 'demotion'.  During the run up to his trial, he gets downsized because he wasn't keeping his skills up-to-date and . . . as you can guess . . . adds that to his lawsuit.  He loses his lawsuit and so the DI paints him as yet another victim, like John Freshwater, Guillermo Gonzales, Catherine Coker, and a few select others.

While klingy likes to paint him in the most positive light possible, Coppedge's co-workers painted him in a very different light.  Klingy repeated Coppedge's claims that his advocacy of Intelligent Design (ID) was always done in "the most respectful, appropriate manner" and "If anyone expressed disinterest, he says, he immediately backed down" and yet the complaints by his co-workers, multiple co-workers and managers, not only about his advocacy, but his job performance painted a very different picture.  They used terms like 'unwelcome' and 'disruptive'.  Eventually he was fired as part of a downsizing event, but you know that the DI can't just leave it at that.

Just to contrast, Since 1996, the year Coppedge was hired as a system administrator, I have been a Delphi programmer, Web Developer, Programming Instructor, Program Manager, Project Lead, and a Java Programmer.  What all Information Technologists learn quickly is that the key to continuous employment is constant upgrade of skills.  The field changes so quickly that your expertise can become obsolete much faster than many people will believe.  So the idea of Coppedge being downsized when his skillset was no longer needed is easily believable.

As a matter of fact, I think I have heard this tune before.  Yes, I had to check, but in 2011 the same psuedo-news organization reported about Coppedge only that DI write-up was by Anika Smith instead of klingy say pretty much the same sort of things.  I haven't noticed anything from Smith lately, so I guess it's up to klingy to re-write things.

Bottom line for Coppedge, he lost his lawsuit, you can read the statement of decision here.  Coppedge and his lawyers had a bunch of objections to the proposed statement, but it was approved by the Court. This decision certainly showed Coppedge was not the respectful and appropriate co-worker the DI likes to claim he is, nor is he one who backed down when disinterest was shown to his religious ideas.  What he was doing was preaching during work, he was also performing his additional duty poorly, and refused to keep his skills current and eventually got fired during a downsizing.  The DI likes to claim that as a senior person, he normally wouldn't be part of being downsized, but when you factor in not keeping his skills current -- that makes him an obvious candidate.  Here is a quote form the decision:

" . . . the evidence reflects that Coppedge was less skilled than those retained, regarding the skills needed on Cassini going forward; Coppedge himself testified that the other SAs [System Administrators] were more expert in these areas."

In another light, this also demonstrates how quickly the DI is to try and re-write history.  In Stephen C. Meyer's book "The Signature in the Cell" Meyer completely rewrote the 'Sternberg Peer Review Controversy' until it was nearly unrecognizable from the reality.  Every once in a while they bring this subject up again and keep trying to peddle their revisionist history.

They repeated attack the Dover Decision, most recently here, even after claiming that it wasn't particularly binding nor had any lasting effect.  How many times will they attempt and re-try the trial?  I guess we'll find out pretty much every December.  They literally repeat the testimony they would have wanted to give if they had the intestinal fortitude to do so during the trial.

Often their history re-writes take historical figures and re-baptize them as Intelligent Design proponents, like Alfred Russel Wallace, Thomas Jefferson, and even Anaxagoras, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher.  Of course these folks are safely dead and cannot refute their re-baptismal.

The history re-write they most often use is to try and blame Darwin for pretty much everything under the sun that they disagree with.  'Darwinism' is the blame for social ills, Hitler and the Holocaust, and even the decline of church attendance.  If it weren't for Darwin we would all be living happy, religious lives . . . as though there were no problems before the advent of Charles Darwin.  Sure, our history books show the world was all happiness and light before Darwin was born, right?

Well, that's enough today.  It's 'nice' to know that the DI will continue to re-write history.  I am glad that most of us don't fall for their foolishness.  In fact is there a difference between the DI and an old-fashioned snake oil salesman peddling his wares from a traveling wagon?  I don't see much of one, at least not philosophically.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A couple of stories caught my eye, one from the Discovery Institute and the other from the Facebook posts of one of the all too many Christian Evangelistas.

The one from the DI is almost funny, if it wasn't so pathetic.  Many times in the past I, and many others, have watched the DI use tactics that on the one hand they claim to abhor, yet are perfectly willing to use the tactics themselves.  For example claiming that scientists are discriminating against Creationists when the reality shows that it's not discrimination for getting fired (or not receiving tenure) when you refuse to do your job.  Or claiming that they cannot get published in mainstream scientific journals because of some hidden conspiracy -- when they aren't even submitting to mainstream scientific journals.  My personal favorite is scream discrimination when someone like David Coppedge or John Freshwater get fired yet when a Christian school fires a science teacher for teaching actual science, why aren't they screaming discrimination then?

You see, they have a habit of using disreputable tactics while frequently accusing the opposing side of using those same tactics, regardless of lack of evidence of their opposition actually using those same tactics.  So I want to talk to you about religious indoctrination for a moment and then get back onto the DI's back.  When does religious indoctrination start?  Well in most cases it starts pretty much at birth.  Children are exposed to the religious traditions of their parents.  Examples include baptisms, confirmations, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs  . . . the list is pretty endless.  Children get quite seeped in it, various schools like Catechism classes, Jewish life classes, and many other religious themed community events geared toward children.  And yet . . . if anyone dare suggest science classes at an earlier age, the cries of 'brainwashing' get thrown around immediately.

Back to the DI, and their Evolution 'news' and Views site, "Evolution in Kindergarten: Now Brought to You by the National Science Foundation".  Now, the accurate part of the post is that the National Science Foundation  has awarded a grant (http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1561401) designed to address a fundamental problem in education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, that natural selection is one of the most misunderstood biological processes.  Now, wouldn't you think an organization like the DI, who make public claims about wanting to improve the education of our young, would support such efforts?  But no, the DI calls it brainwashing and are dead set against it!

Anyone else see the problem here?  It's OK to start kids down a religious path from birth, but the very idea of correcting an identified problem with an important part of biological study is considered brainwashing?  Like so many other times, it's a case of 'Do as I say and Not as I do!"  They, and other religious organization, want, and in my opinion, need to start on kids when they are young.  The very idea of teaching real science at a younger age is the equivalent to brainwashing?  Seriously?  Remember this is the group who supports some Ohio teachers who wanted to inject Intelligent Design into the science curriculum back in 2004 and who have developed whole lesson plans for teaching ID to pretty much any age group.


I've said it before.  If we don't let children drive, drink, or vote before a certain age, they shouldn't be exposed to religion until that age either.  Haven't the dangers of religion been clearly identified over the years?  How much bigotry and intolerance have their root in the religious beliefs of the offenders, and how young were they when they started down this path?

The second one, and the one most egregious was identified to me by The Friendly Atheist (TFA), "Franklin Graham: Boycotting Companies Is Only Okay When I Say It Is".  In the article TFA posts copies of two of Franklin Graham's Facebook posts.  Here are the links to the actual posts if you want to read them yourself (Hobby Lobby post and Target post).  The comments are somewhat interesting too, but be prepared, especially if you do not know who Graham is.

In the first post he equates the boycotting of Hobby Lobby over their discrimination of employees because of the company owner's religious beliefs as:
" . . . calling for a boycott. Doesn't this sound like bullying, intolerance, and discrimination . . ."
In the second post he is promoting the boycott of Target stores because of their LGBT bathroom policy:
" I'm glad people are standing up and letting them know this is wrong."
If you're not familiar with Graham, don't worry.  Just think about any one of the Christians Evangelista that you are familiar with, and you'll get the picture.  I have trouble telling any of them apart.  They want to tell me how to live and to make me pay them for the privilege of telling me how to live.  I prefer the John Oliver discussion on televangalistas:

But as to the subject at hand . . . to me this is another example of 'Do as I say and not as I do'.  Boycotting Hobby Lobby is bullying, intolerance and discrimination . . . but boycott Target because it's the right thing to do, according to Graham.  Of course you see the difference, Graham agrees with Hobby Lobby and disagrees with Target. 

Reminds me of when little kennie ham whined and cried about on of his pet creation 'scientists' getting sandbagged into a debate with an actual scientists just about a year after he did the exact same thing and sandbagged a scientist into debating him.  It was OK when he did it because a little "Lie for Jesus" is OK because it's for God, but it should have been criminal when the same tactic is used against him (Turnabout is fair play!).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Less Than impressive Christian Apologetic Law Review Paper

Yesterday I posted a bit about the return of little casey luskin to the cultural debate over teaching religion as if it was actual science.  I hadn't read his actual paper or the Discovery Institute (DI) Evolution 'News' and Views (EnV) post about it just yet, I was focused on where little casey published his paper and why the DI didn't seem to want anyone to know it wasn't a real law review, but a Christian apologetic law review.  I also said that I would be posting today after reading the EnV post and his paper.

Unlike Paul Nelson, when I tell you I am going to do something the next day, I actually make an honest effort in accomplishing it the next day.  So let's start with the DI's post.  Actually it doesn't start well.  The EnV post is "In Court Rulings on Teaching Origins Science, Law Review Article Finds a Double Standard".  Early in the post Sarah Chaffee, the author, said that casey:

" . . . examines the way courts have struck down the teaching of alternatives to evolution because of their historical associations with religion."
I have to question the use of the word 'historical'.  I think casey is going to try and imply that the connection between alternatives to evolution, like Creationism and its little brother Intelligent Design, no longer have a religious association.  That it was in the past and no longer applicable.  If anyone believed that, why is little casey's paper in a Christian apologetic law review publication and not one from a school that is actually approved by the American Bar Association?

We can list many of the current connections between the DI and religion, especially their own wedge strategy document.  But we have done that so many times times in the past (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) and those are just the ones called "So There is Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design parts 1 thru 10.  There are plenty of other posts about the current association of the DI, and their Intelligent Design Movement and religion!

This line really summed up the whole post for me:
"The result is a double standard, as courts hold alternatives to evolution unconstitutional to teach, but evolution constitutional."
That's not exactly true.  What the Courts have said is that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not science but religion and therefore cannot be taught as if they are science because that violates the Constitution.  Seriously, it's not alternatives to evolution that are unconstitutional, but religious alternatives to evolution, specifically Creationism -- which includes Intelligent Design -- that are unconstitutional.  If you disagree, instead of taking casey's word, look at some of the court cases themselves:

  • Kitzmiller v. Dover -- ruled against teaching Intelligent Design in science class in 2005
  • Epperson v. Arkansas -- invalidated a statute that prohibited evolution whose purpose was to protect a specific religious viewpoints (1968)
  • Daniel v. Waters -- invalided a law requiring an equal amount of emphasis on evolution and the Genesis account in the Bible (1975)
  • McLean v. Arkansas -- ruled against a statute mandating the teaching of "Creation Science" because it is religious, not science.  (1982)
  • Edwards v. Aguillard -- In 1987. The Supreme Court of the US ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that creation science be taught in public schools, along with evolution, was unconstitutional because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion
  • Selman v. Cobb County -- invalidated the use of stickers designed to weaken science education (2006)

There are others, all basically reached that same conclusion, Creation-based alternatives to evolution are not science and therefore to teach them as if they are actually science is unconstitutional.  These cases span 1968 through 2006, granted you can claim yesterday was historical, but really -- 2006 is historical?  Every single time Creationism and all of its relatives, like Intelligent Design and Creation Science, have been tested, the link between then and their underlying religious basis has never been placed in solely a 'historical' perspective.  No, the links are there even today!  Who are the only receptive audiences for ID?  Where does their funding come from? What have they been desperately trying to hide from for decades now?  Think about it!  The connection from their religious beliefs and their claims cannot be uncoupled, as much as they keep trying to do so.  This paper is nothing but another example.

The other half of his statement is equally misleading, the 'constitutionality of evolution'.  At no time when looking at those court cases did I find them ruling that evolution is constitutional.  I don't think the rulings specified evolution at all.  True, I haven't read them all, but I have read several and while evolution was mentioned in some of the supporting documents, the rulings did not address evolution specifically.  Even in the supporting documents, it's usually just contrasting the Creationism concept with its intended target.  But, in reality, has anyone sued a school for teaching evolution?  No, the court cases were brought about because of religious groups trying to impose their view on science class.

So far Sarah's not off to a rousing start, but when your source material is so weak, what can you do? It doesn't matter how much mayo you use, you cannot make chicken salad out of chicken sh**. Sarah and little casey mention Selman v. Cobb County specifically.  You can read all about it in your link, but I would like to mention that casey did state that the original ruling was 'remanded', which is legalese for sending it back on appeal for consideration.  Of course casey doesn't say why it was remanded . . . which was an evidence issue, not a problem with the ruling.  Final result is basically this was tried twice and both times the Creationists lost and their little efforts to undermine science education failed.

Sarah closed with what has to be a quote from casey:
"But what about evolution? Are courts evaluating neo-Darwinism objectively? In a future post, I will discuss the history of anti-religious activism associated with evolution advocacy."
So he starts off claiming that evolution has been declared to be Constitutional . . . and then bails before addressing this issue , , , promising to address it in the future.  Hmmm, Paul Nelson again?

I read through casey's paper as well as Sarah's EnV post.  In all honesty, it was pretty boring and didn't say anything new.  I will say this for Sarah, she summed things up pretty well . . . but then casey's work has always been pretty basic.  Probably one reason he was never a 'fellow', just the title of 'research coordinator', which was funny for an organization that doesn't do anything resembling research.

The Return of casey luskin

When he departed the Discovery Institute, lawyer and pamphlet distributor (at the Dover Trial) I figured wherever casey luskin landed we had not heard the last of him.  The Discovery Institute's Evolution 'News' and Views website had this little article about something little casey had written. However, something seemed off to me.  Here is the link: "In Court Rulings on Teaching Origins Science, Law Review Article Finds a Double Standard".  Of course, since this post is on the DI's site, it needs to be taken with a large bag of salt.

Before reading their post or even the link to the article itself, I had to wonder about the source. According to the DI, this is article was published in 'a' Law Review.  OK, which one?  They don't say. Isn't that just the tiniest bit suspicious to you?  The link to the article itself is another DI link, not to the source.  Normally when quoting an article, you go to the authoritative source, not a copy.  Why would the DI not want to identify the source?  If it was something like the 'Harvard Law Review', I'm pretty sure it would be a large part of the article, if not the overwhelming content.  So, where in the world did casey's little missive get published.  It's going to take a little more research on that.  In the mean time, here are a few examples of other times the DI tried to hide things.  You can check it out while I do a little Googling.

1.  First up, back a while ago, in a post "So there is nothing religious about Intelligent Design? Part II" I discussed Heather Zeigler. One of my points was that the DI described her as:
"[NOTE: Today we welcome a new contributing writer to Evolution News & Views, Heather Zeiger. Ms. Zeiger graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in government and politics. She received her M.S. in chemistry, also from UTD; her research was in organic synthesis and materials.]"
and yet forgot to mention all her credentials, like [the bold were the words they used, the rest they forgot to mention.  I added the underlines for emphasis]:
"Heather Zeiger graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in chemistry and a minor in government and politics. She received her M.S. in chemistry, also from UTD; her research was in organic synthesis and materials. She interned at Probe Ministries prior to graduate school and now serves with Probe as a Research Associate. Her interests involve science and culture issues, including bioethics, origins, and the environment. She is currently working on a M.A. in bioethics from Trinity International University. She is married to David, another former Probe intern and teacher at Trinity Christian Academy. "
In other words, they decided to not mention that Heather is one who already drank their kool-aid and tried to pass her off as somewhat objective.  Of course, when you look at her a little bit closer, you realize that she probably won't be particularly objective at all.  I don't think they hired her for her objectivity.
2.  A while back the DI discovered the power of polling, we discussed in "A New 'Poll' conducted by the DI says what the DI says, what a surprise!" The DI announced the results of a poll, yet they forget to tell you it was their poll and they worded the questions and twisted the results for their own purposes.  In another poll they even forget to tell you what questions were asked ("Another poll from the Discovery Institute, oh boy, oh boy!"), they only presented their spin on the results.  Their version of a poll is something like one kid asking another, "Have you stopped beating up your sister?  Yes or No."
3. In "Klinghoffer lies by Omission" we discussed a new 'Biography' of Alfred Russel Wallace written by the Michael Flannery.  In the piece, little davery klinghoffer described Flannery as:
"Michael A. Flannery is Professor and Associate Director for Historical Collections at the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and editor of Alfred Russel Wallace's Theory of Intelligent Evolution (2008)."
For some reason little davey forgot to mention that Michael Flannery is also Fellow at the Discovery Institute. Now why in the world for davey not bother mentioning that little item? He says so many nice things about Flannery, but not once does he mention that he and Flannery are buddies who share the same political masters, the DI. Why would that be?
Are you sensing the same trend here?  When there is information about any subject that might cast the slightest doubt on whatever point the DI is trying to make with anything resembling honesty and maybe a little objectivity, the DI always seems to fail to mention it.
4.  Sometimes the lie is pretty blatant, like in 2010 when I posted "Intelligent Design, Sh** or get off the Pot!"  When Stephen C. Meyer was quoted as saying:
"First, the scientific community is not uniformly opposed to ID. My recent book on the subject received enthusiastic endorsements from many scientists not previously known as advocates of ID, such as chemist Philip Skell, a National Academy of Sciences member, and Norman Nevin, one of Britain's top geneticists."
My response back then:
"In my humble opinion Stephen C. Meyer is a liar. According to this quote Meyer states that Philip Skell and Norman Nevin were not previously advocates of Intelligent Design. Let's set the record straight, Skell is a Signatory of the very discredited "A Dissent From Darwinism", the list used in Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns in an attempt to discredit evolution and bolster claims that intelligent design is scientifically valid by claiming that evolution lacks broad scientific support. Meyer is a liar, Skell may not have published a pro-ID fluff piece, but he is an advocate. Nevin is a supporter of "Truth in Science" a United Kingdom-based organization which promotes the "Teach the Controversy" campaign. It uses this strategy to try to get intelligent design taught alongside evolution in school science lessons."
Continuing that trend, it took a little digging to uncover where little casey had his article published, "Trinity Law Review", which is published by the Trinity Law School. Now that might sound prestigious, but it's not. If just the name 'Trinity' doesn't give it away, their own website states:
"At its core, our community is shaped by our commitment to the Gospel – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We exist to serve Christ by championing a biblical view of human law and government through our students, graduates, faculty, and staff." (Trinity Law School: About Page)
You can check them out in Wikipedia (Trinity Law School), which has a bit more to say like:
"Trinity Law School ranked second on The National Jurist's list of "Most Devout Christian Law Schools,"
"At present, Trinity Law School is not approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)"
"[They are the] publisher of Journal of Christian Legal Thought, a publication of Christian Legal Society"
OK, so without even reading little casey's missive, we know that it was published not in a prestigious law review, but a Christian Apologetic version of a law review.  No wonder the DI didn't publicize the venue.

So what else does that tell us?  I am pretty sure this is going to be nothing more than what casey used to write for the DI.  A fluff piece that takes an unsupported, and possibly even unsupportable position and make it sound like ID is not the religious proposition that we all, including the DI, know it is.  Anyone want to take a bet on it?  OK, this is long enough and it's getting late.  I will post again tomorrow after I read the DI post and casey's 'Christian Law Review' article. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ethical Response to Creationist Activities

I am sure you are aware of a growing issue about providing goods and services for people who, for some reason, you don't like.  Whether it's based on religion, sexual orientation, race . . . or any other rationalization, it's basically a form of discrimination and most often, it's illegal.  People like that idiot down in Kentucky - Kim Davis - who refused to do her job and issue marriage licenses for gay couples, the bakery owner - Jack Phillips - who refused to supply a wedding cake for a gay couple, and little kennie ham who is discriminating based on religion when hiring folks for his ark park.  The issue at hand is when and where a business can draw a line . . . plus the very basic question as to whether or not they even have a right to draw such a line.

When it comes to government agencies, the line is drawn for them.  Which is why Davis went to jail when she refused to do her job.  It's why people like public school 'teacher' John Freshwater in Mt Vernon OH and got fired for failing to do his job of teaching science.  When it comes to government agencies, complying with the law makes it fairly simply especially when compared private businesses.  Oh, and yes, I do not put kennie and his ark abortion into the category of private business because he's been asking for state funds to help build and promote his latest ministry.  Once you take tax dollars, the line between private and public shifts quite a bit.  Of course, kennie wants tax money and still be able to discriminate against many of the people who might need a job in Kentucky.  He only seems to care about the people of Kentucky as long as they toe a line he sets.  I do so feel for my neighbors to the South, but they keep letting kennie get away with it, so I don't feel that badly.  I would mention reaping what you sow, but they might get annoyed at me using a Biblical reference to highlight their foolishness.

But private businesses have always had a variety of rules for refusing service.  Many times it's a legal concern, like serving alcohol to someone already intoxicated or selling cigarettes to minors.  In those cases the legal and potential liability concerns need to be considered for a business to refuse service. Dress codes are another one.  I am sure you have seen signs like 'No shoes, No Shirt, No Service'.  This might be casually expressed, but what they are applying is a consistent enforcement of a dress code for their establishment.  As long as they consistently apply it, and not use it as a way of discriminating against certain groups, it's perfectly legal.  There are many, many examples of how to  . . . and the only way to put this . . . legally discriminate against an individual.  I know if I show up at my favorite restaurant without shoes or a shirt, I am not getting in, simple.

So how do you deal with providing the service you are in business to provide when the customer is someone who you  . . . disagree with?  Not providing the service based on your opinion is usually the wrong answer.  It might open you up to varying degrees of legal action, as Jack Phillips discovered. While taking a stand for something you believe in is great in principle, having your stand cost you your business might not be a particularly intelligent thing to do, particular if the point of disagreement isn't a legal basis for refusing service.

The logical part of me says that if you are in business, refusing customers is a pretty foolish way to do business.  But, as I said, to some people want to place their personal religious beliefs ahead of business, like the Kentucky idiot or the bakery owner.  That's all well and good, but don't cry later because you were unwilling to deal with the consequences.  What you need to do is come up with a way that lets you do your business AND maintain your principles.  One business did just that.

As reported on the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) "A Slap on the Wrist for Creationism", RapidWristbands, a premier manufacturer of silicone wristbands, received an order from a Creationist organization for over 100,000 wristbands that said "Debunk Evolution".  Instead refusing the order, which apparently would have aligned with his principles, he took the order and donated the profits from the order to the NSCE, an organization dedicated to defending the integrity of science education against creationist assaults.

What a creative way of maintaining your business while sticking a thumb in the eye of Creationists. I'm certain the Creationist group that ordered the wristbands might object and never place another order with that company, but I don't think CEO Fiyyaz Pirani is going to lose any sleep over it.  In many ways, I would love to hear the reaction of the Creationists.

Now this is nothing but my opinion, but think about it.  If the company had refused the order, I am sure the Creationists would have been appealing to either the court of public opinion, or a more legal venue, about being discriminated against.  But RapidWristbands didn't discriminate, it's the Creationist reaction to what the company's subsequent action is that interests me.  If they announce that they won't be making any future purchases, wouldn't that make them the party doing the exact form of discrimination that they would have been accusing RapidWristbands -- if RapidWristbands hadn't fulfilled that order?  I know, I am reaching a little bit here, but this is not outside of the realm of possibility, even probability?

I mean, isn't that exactly what Kim Davis did?  She refuse to do her job and when held accountable, she claimed religious discrimination.  After all, she had to sign a document for gay people.  Why she might have actually had to converse with them!  Imagine the horror!  So in reality she was guilty of discrimination and deserved to go to jail!  I know they changed the rules to 'accommodate' her newly found religious sensibilities, but was that the right answer?  Accommodation?  Does she have the right to refuse doing her public sector job because of her religious beliefs?  I disagree!

But then I tend to disagree with discrimination in any form.  If she own a rental property and refused to rent to a gay person, she would have more significant legal issues than she had for refusing to do her job.  But again, reaping what you sow.  If Kentuckians are actually displeased with Kim, they will find ways to let her know.  But the more vocal ones seem thrilled with her belated discovery of her religious convictions.  So Kentucky will continue to pay her and allow her escape the consequences of her action, but that's on them.

I don't know what she could have done to deal with this situation more creatively, as did RapidWristbands, but I would like to think an honorable person would have made more of an effort to find an alternative.  In her case, I think I would respected her if she had simply resigned.  Just like I would have respected Jack Phillips (The baker mentioned above) if he had simply fulfilled the order and not let his own religious beliefs justify discrimination.  Any religion that not only permits, but encourages, the discrimination against another human being is not much of a religion, in my opinion. Religious Freedom is not the freedom to discriminate!  And people wonder why I have issues with organized religion.

For me, it's actually quite simple.  If I am against something, I do not do it.  I am against drinking and driving, so I don't do it.  If you do it, then be prepared to face the consequences of your actions!  I am not against abortion, but what that really means to me is that I have never and would never put a woman into the position of having to make such a decision based on an action in which I had a contributing role.  My role is not to force everyone to believe in what I believe in, just like I do not feel that anyone else should be allowed to force me to believe in what they believe in.  You want to be against homosexuality, then do not be a homosexual!  You want to be anti-abortion, then take no actions that results in the need to make that decision for yourself!  You don't want to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to gay couples, then do not take a job where you have to issue such licenses.  You want to refuse to make cakes for gay couples, then quite making wedding cakes.  Don't preach, don't whine, don't try and use the law to avoid the consequences of your beliefs, simply don't be in a position where you use your beliefs to discriminate.

I hope RapidWristbands business jumps based on this publicity.  I think their response is ethical and one of the most honest responses to this whole question of where do you draw a line.  You draw it in your personal behavior, not in forcing others to toe a particular line you set for yourself.