Custom Search

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Darwinism and popular culture: Only trolls would carry out Gallagher's orders, but for some reason he wants them carried out by gentlemen ...

What Makes Science 'Science'? Trainee teachers don't have a clue, and most scientists probably don't either. That's bad news.
So says James Williams, kvetching in The Scientist, 22(10) October 2008, Page 29:
As a science educator, I train science graduates to become science teachers. Over the past two years I've surveyed their understanding of key terminology and my findings reveal a serious problem. Graduates, from a range of science disciplines and from a variety of universities in Britain and around the world, have a poor grasp of the meaning of simple terms and are unable to provide appropriate definitions of key scientific terminology. So how can these hopeful young trainees possibly teach science to children so that they become scientifically literate? How will school-kids learn to distinguish the questions and problems that science can answer from those that science cannot and, more importantly, the difference between science and pseudoscience?
And in "Why the Philosophy of Science Matters" (The Scientist, October 2008), Richard Gallagher follows up, grousing:
You might expect that newly minted science graduates - who presumably think of themselves as scientists, and who I'd thought of as scientists - would have a well-developed sense of what science is. So it's pretty shocking to discover that a large proportion of them don't have a clue. At least that's the case in the UK, going on the evidence of our Opinion author James Williams ("What Makes Science 'Science'?"). He found that a sizeable proportion of science graduates entering teacher training couldn't define what is a scientific fact, law or hypothesis.

No, but why should that matter? Gallagher goes on to announce that the reason this ignorance is a problem is that the grads won't be able to properly diss "climate change deniers, GM modification scaremongers, or creationists."

In short, they are not as well qualified propagandists as they might be.

But Gallagher's and Williams's project doesn't require history and philosophy science. If they are studied only in order to improve one's skills in stamping out opposition to current dogmas, quite frankly, other methods - like the Royal society's exemplary firing of Christian Darwinist Michael Reiss, are vastly more effective.

And, while we are here, let us mention another method that Gallagher complains of:

One giveaway of how scientists think is to look at their everyday, informal interactions. Our Community website and numerous science blogging sites provide the opportunity to apraise this. Is the discussion logical, objective, disinterested, cautious? No! It turns out that scientists are as disdainful, vitriolic even, as everyone else, even in discussions about science.

Here's a recent examples from our site: "I absolutely do not accept the proposal above that an ignorant idiot serving up pious horsemanure should be coddled for his or her blithering idiot beliefs. Contempt is the only appropriate communication to such people...."

This is mild in comparison to the exchanges on other sites.
Ah yes, I well believe that. I no longer accept comments at any of my private blogs.

The reality is that the level of communication that Gallagher deplores is entirely appropriate to persons who assume that they possess, in science, the Means to Discover All Truths and are not bound by any traditional, usually religiously based conventions of courtesy.

Only trolls would carry out Gallagher's orders, but for some reason he wants them carried out by gentlemen.

Sorry, Gallagher, that's way out of your price range. You must begin by wanting truth for itself first, even if it does not confirm all your prejudices. Otherwise, stick with the trolls and don't bother educating them in history and philosophy of science.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Labels: ,

Darwinism and popular culture: Darwinian conservatism means "disintegration of morality"?

That's lawyer and accountant Stephen Craig Dilley's view in a recent edition of Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies (Vol XX, 2008, whose theme this year is globalization).

Dilley is responding to Larry Arnhart, who has been promoting Darwinian conservatism (= why traditional Christians and others should embrace survival of the fittest).

His book-length efforts have been contested, and have prompted a book-length rejoinder from John West.

Here's the abstract:

by Stephen Craig Dilley

An important intellectual challenge posed by globalization is how the Enlightenment interacts with traditional non-Western worldviews. This essay analyzes a key facet of this challenge: the union of Darwinism with traditional conservative values. Political scientist Larry Arnhart argues that Darwinism provides a biological foundation for conservative notions of human nature, traditional morality, family values, private property, limited government, and the like. A foundation for his view is an Enlightenment claim that the laws of nature and material causes are sufficient to produce "emergent" human minds capable of the kind of free will consistent with moral responsibility. Yet Arnhart's stance implies determinism of the mind and the disintegration of morality. As such, members of the global community who hold conservative values ought to re-examine the parameters of Enlightenment science in light of a more traditional view, which has a richer understanding of the human mind, will, and moral responsibility.
Of course, Darwinian conservatism means the disintegration of morality. The money shot is destroying the reputation of anyone who suggests that that is true before the fix is in, and then it doesn't matter any more.

Labels: ,

Theistic evolution: Straw men forked? Arguments for intelligent design addressed? Pigs fly?

Sure pigs can fly. But they must travel in the cargo hold.

An interesting discussion is now taking place at the American Scientific Affiliation list, led by science historian Ted Davis.

In the past, that list has struck me as a home of faith and science has-beens (and never-wuzzes) bashing intelligent design.

Basically, these guys were trained to stump for religion at a time when everyone thought life could be created just by zapping a test tube. Oh yes, and space aliens were just around the comet, computers would soon run the world, and "goo to zoo to you to poo" was a perfectly realistic explanation of the history of life. Pop science mags couldn't make up the silliness fast enough to meet the demand.

So the chant was, Francis Collins-style, "Do not look for evidence of design in nature. Look for faith in your heart, and be content with that."

Fast forward to a 2008 world where cells are mini supercomputers (so much for Zap!), the space aliens are our cultural past, not our science future, we have no idea how to make computers think like people, and the history of life shows sudden emergence, not long slow development.

In other words, in this new era, intelligent design theorists make a reasonable case that the universe shows clear evidence of design. No, the atheist lobby doesn't like that. And this is news?

Itr's been fascinating watching the old-style "theistic evolutionists" bash intelligent design. Many never got past the fact that constitutional lawyer Phillip Johnson (author of Darwin on Trial) got sick of jawboning with them, and went away and godfathered the intelligent design community. The ID community was supposed to go extinct every five minutes, remember? I wrote a book in 2004 (By Design or by Chance?) on the basis of the fact that - since I first started covering the controversy in 2001 - a pretty long five minutes had passed. And now four years later the ID community is going extinct every two minutes, it seems.

Anyway, check out Ted Davis's attempt to get these guys to address reality.
To follow the discussion, you need to keep clicking Next Message, and skip freely to the thoughtful ones, like Davis's and a few others.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Intelligent design controversy and media: While I'm here, ...

The recent USA Today op-ed fantasy that Britain does not suffer from controversies over intelligent design (because "theistic evolution" has brought such harmony to Brit land) is an instructive example of just what’s wrong with legacy mainstream media in general. The problem for Mark I. Pinsky's "Science and Faith the British Way" was its timing: The puff piece ran just as the Michael Reiss affair was blowing through the independent blogs.

Synopsis: The Royal Society attracted attention across the globe by firing education director Michael Reiss. As of October 4, 9:00 am EST, the Google search "Michael Reiss" "Royal Society" turned up 71, 500 hits, and blogging on the subject abounds. And the people who drove Reiss from his job (the sinner in the hands of an angry god affair), have earned condemnation on both sides of the controversy over evolution and intelligent design. (Reiss, a Church of England clergyman, is a convinced Darwinist, and his sin was suggesting that terms like "creationism" and :"intelligent design" be spoken aloud in class in order to tell students that they are wrong and that Darwin is right. But the fact that he is a clergyman caused prominent scientists to question his right to hold the education director's post anyway, making their anti-traditional religion agenda pretty clear.)
Many Americans and Canadians found out about Reiss's sacking through blogs, and many lively public discussions ensued. But along come the editors and author at USA Today and make clear their assumption that North Americans know nothing about the world that’s not on prime time Boob Tube. So they publish a blog column that – in the context – would be outrageous if it were not so obviously and ridiculously false to the true situation in Britain.

Just being on the Internet does not transform legacy media into new media. The basic legacy media principle is that you have no access to information apart from what they tell you.

It is a three-stage process: 1. They talk. 2. You listen. 3. You believe.

Only one problem: It does snot work any more. This is not the early 19th century. North Americans do not wait six weeks to find out what is happening in London; we know as soon as Brits do. And we now have lots of independent sources of information. So legacy media - online or not - are spinning tales for a shrinking population, as their plummeting circulations show.

Those circulations are never coming back. And this little vignette is a window into one reason why.

The following stories address some recent developments in the intelligent design controversy in Britain:

How angry is the Brit God of Science? Pretty angry, it seems ...

So they actually need to explain this? Britain's Royal Society is considering casting out God ...

Intelligent design and popular culture: The BBC spin on British creationism

Will Brit “faith and science” heavyweights speak up after education director’s firing?

Failed Brit Darwinist Michael Reiss: "A Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God": Synopsis of a Play in Three Acts

Intelligent design and high culture: Philosopher says teaching students about intelligent design should be okay - with qualifications (Here in evil, backward North America, this atheist philosopher was not driven from the campus for his views.)

Darwinism and popular culture: The Anglican Church's non-apology to Darwin

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Labels: ,

Who links to me?