Friday, December 21, 2007

Discovery Institute Words Games

Two years after receiving a crushing blow in Dover PA, the Discovery Institute is still trying to spin the damage as best they can. Once again they take their own favorite tactic, playing word games, and try and convince people that Judge Jones created some logical dilemma that render's all he says moot.

I have read the entire transcript of the trial and the 139 page decision and while it is full of legalese, it also lays things out pretty clearly. The decision not only said what he [the judge] determined, but his own thought process and the evidence and testimony that led him there. I wish all legal decisions were as complete.

In a recent response posted on the Discovery Institutes's web site, they claim the Judge created a logical conundrum in the way he described Irreducible Complexity. What they really did was try and create a logical conundrum by using the wrong definition of scientific falsification.

Without getting into a huge lecture on Falsifiability, you can read the Wikipedia article here. But in a nutshell there is Naïve falsificationism, which is an unsuccessful attempt to prescribe a rationally unavoidable method for science. Naïve falsification considers scientific statements individually. Scientific theories are formed from groups of these sorts of statements, and it is these groups that must be accepted or rejected by scientists. Science is evolved by the successive rejection of falsified theories, rather than falsified statements. Falsified theories are to be replaced by theories that can account for the phenomena that falsified the prior theory, that is, with greater explanatory power.

Taking his statements and dissecting them in a vacuum is just the sort of word smithing I have come to expect from the Discovery Institute. Bottom line for me here is pretty simple. A scientific THEORY, not just a statement but a theory, must be falsifiable, which means even hypothetically a scientist can envision an example where the theory may not be true. Charles Darwin himself did this for evolution by his discussions of the eye. His statement along the lines that if even one biological construct can be found where it would be impossible to have formed through evolutionary means, his theory would be rendered false. By the same token just because someone is falsifiable, doesn't make it a scientific theory! Rejecting something also doesn't make it a theory! There is a lot more to being a scientific theory than just falsification!

Judge Jones words "Even if irreducible complexity had not been rejected, it still does not support ID as it is merely a test for evolution, not design." were not his own. He sat there and listened to Michael Behe, one of the Discovery Institutes's own fellows, admit to the problems with his own ideas and the lack of science behind them.

Oh they can word smith with the best of them, but it still doesn't do much to make Intelligent Design science and permit its teaching in the public school science classroom. I believe this spin doctoring is more a way to make the faithful feel better about themselves more than convert anyone else. Since recently they've also put out a call for contributions, I bet making the faithful feel better is more important than converting new ID'iots.

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