Monday, June 13, 2016

Can Anyone from the Discovery Institute be Considered Objective?

Ann Gauger, the infamous Discovery Institute (DI) Queen of the Green Screen, has a new post on the Evolution 'news' and Views (EnV) site:  "Vincent Torley Thinks I Have Egg on My Face"  She starts off on pretty shaky ground:

"Intelligent design states that there is evidence of design in the universe. I think we are in agreement on this point. In terms of biology, how the designer instantiated that design is still subject to debate, based on the strength of the evidence for each position."
Isn't this a little pat?  I mean Gauger presents Intelligent Design as if it's fait accompli.  One very large and resounding 'No!', we are not in agreement that there is evidence of design in the universe. What we are willing to agree to is that there is only the appearance of design!  Gauger makes it sound as if ID is a foregone conclusion, and maybe to her it is, but to actual working scientists and the majority of the rest of the world, it's nothing more than an attempt to inject religion into science. Biology is not debating how the designer instantiated design, Biology has already dismissed her designer as irrelevant to the study of biology.  It is not subject to scientific debate, only cultural and political debate.  ID is defined as pseudo-science, Annie seems to keep forgetting that.
The rest of her post is supposed to describe how objective she is when she's doing whatever it is she does for the DI.  But when she starts off like she did, is she really capable of objectivity?  She even has the temerity of saying:
"About the data being correct and my questioning it: All scientists are (or should be) taught in graduate school to critically evaluate conclusions."
Yet isn't her whole career at the DI predicated on failing to critically evaluate a very specific conclusion--that of an intelligent designer.  You know, the one the DI dislikes formally naming?  Privately it's the Christian God, but publicly it's the 'intelligent designer'.  So much for 'critical evaluation'.  By the way, isn't that a term the DI likes to toss around, but they don't seem to really mean it.  When they use 'critical evaluation', they mean to denigrate actual science but never seem to enjoy it when anyone actually critically evaluate ID, do they?

The last part of her rebuttal to critics sounds more like an effort to justify the whole Intelligent Design Movement:
" . . .whether it is strongly or weakly supported by the evidence, and whether we are justified in considering alternate explanations."
As usual, DI mouthpieces say things that sound so reasonable.  But when placed within the context of their goals for their religious beliefs . . . it takes on a very different meaning.  Does anyone consider Intelligent Design as an alternative explanation to evolution?  No, Gauger wasn't addressing Intelligent Design in this comment, but to me anything she says has to be examined against that whole premise.  At best ID is an alternative premise, an idea, and one based on religion.  It doesn't have any actual scientific support, so it's not an explanation.  Scientific Theories are explanations -- premises, particularly those driven by religious wishful thinking, are not explanations.

Should we consider ID?  I think we already have, certainly in its current state.  Even Judge Jones, in his Kitzmiller v. Dover et al, said:
"After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science."
ID may one day be considered more than pseudo-science, but not until its adherents get off the marketing campaigns and into the lab, and not a green screen version of a lab either!  Until they do that, they will continue to be relegated to the same bookshelf as Tarot Cards, Phrenology, and Astrology -- and justifiable so!

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