Sunday, October 31, 2010

New planet -- 'Dawinian' Astronomy?

Anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion of casey luskin, the lawyer who seems never to get his facts straight. Well I refrain from commenting on him most weeks, but in my opinion, he reached a new low -- something I really didn't think possible.

So what did casey do now? Oh nothing much, he just opened his mouth. He noticed that there had been a few articles reporting on the discovery of at least one extra-solar planet that may be able to support life. I assume someone pointed them out to him because I doubt he actually reads scientific articles all by himself.

His problem starts with the very title of his article, which is what caught my eye. "Darwinian Assumptions Leave "No Doubt" About Extraterrestrial Life". OK, since you already know my feeling of the use of the words 'Darwinism' and 'Darwinist', you can also add the word 'Darwinian'. Let's be clear, while someone else might actually be commenting on something Darwin said or did, when casey, and his ilk, use these words, they are using them as invective. You can almost see him spitting it out as he says it.

OK, so after reading his post, I went looking for the comments by a biologist that raised his toothless ire -- and guess what -- I couldn't find them. He was whining about a comment made by Astronomer Steven Vogt, and referring to him as an 'evolutionary scientist'. For the record, Dr. Vogt is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California. So the question is just where did little casey make the evolutionary connection?

In all honesty, I think casey's buddy Guillermo Gonzalez, author of "The Priviledged Planet", might have written an article about having another planet perfectly placed for life and tried to align Professor Vogt with his camp of pseudo-scientists. But no, luskin makes a connection here that is completely unsupported by the two articles luskin linked to himself.

So just what did the Professor say? During a press conference he offered a personal opinion:
"Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent,"
So why does casey make it sound like the professor was making a scientific pronouncement? One of the many things I find amusing is that casey is the freaking lawyer and prone to play word games. Here the professor is offering a personal opinion and casey take exception! So I guess a scientist isn't allowed to offer personal opinions . . .Ummmm so all those popular press books and articles written by Dembski, Behe, Johnson, and Meyer -- which offer NOTHING but personal opinion -- I guess by casey's current standards, they should have never been published at all! But then we know the history of casey, the Discovery Institute, and double standards!

Just in case maybe casey knows something I don't, I went and found the professor's website and looked up his academic background:
A.B., Physics, U.C. Berkeley, 1972
A.B., Astronomy, U.C. Berkeley, 1972
M.S., Astronomy, U. of Texas at Austin, 1976
Ph.D., Astronomy, U. of Texas at Austin, 1978
Not a biology degree in the bunch. So what am I left to think? Before casey's article, I would have assumed that when anyone from the Discovery Institute uses the term 'evolutionary scientist' they meant a biologist who acknowledged evolutionary theory. Now that seems to be too narrow an interpretation. Since Professor Vogt is an Astronomer, who as far as I know hasn't addressed the issue of evolution, I can only assume that now an 'evolutionary scientist' is a scientist of any discipline who has not drank the Intelligent Design kool-aid and became a fellow over at the DI.

I also think the one making an assumption isn't Vogt, but casey, and its an assumption that I doubt he realized he was making. He assumed that Professor Vogt is not an Intelligent Design proponent. But then I realized that casey and I have found our first item of agreement. The odds of a scientist of any discipline being an Intelligent Design proponent are so low, that making this assumption is pretty much a given. I mean the Discovery Institute has a tiny handful of folks, most of which are not biologists but lawyers and philosophers. When you compare their numbers to the vast list of actual scientists, they do get lost in the crowd. So casey does say something that ends up making some level of sense, but I am pretty sure he does this by accident.

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