Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let's Talk A Little Science



Any reader knows here in the Grift we occasionally divert on to side roads of music, weather and even science. But primarily the focus is on Georgia politics. Well, because of the video you see above, we are all going to head on to the scientific off ramp a bit more frequently in the future.

No, I'm not turning this into a science blog. There are many, mostly scientists, who do that deal much better.

But with Ben Stein's latest adventure, all who understand science and particularly evolution are required to speak up.

I was talking with an Emory chemistry professor last night and I posited that Kitzmiller vs Dover had effectively hamstrung the intelligent design movement. He responded, "but ironically they always find a way to evolve."

Expelled is indeed an adaptation of an earlier tool in the creationist array - appealing to a public who has little knowledge of the way science works and why the understanding of evolution is so vital. It is a tactic which tragically creates a vicious cycle of maintaining that ignorance by continually using their own "knowledge" to re-inforce that ignorance. We Americans continue our spiral into the sea of stupidity while nations as small as South Korea rise to new heights.

While it is true Edwards vs Aguillard a generation ago and Kitzmiller in this new century put to rest many large questions regarding creationism in our public schools, brushfires such as the one in Florida continue.

Stein and his ilk propose to fan these fires to re-ignite the conflagaration -which means the virtual bucket brigade has to be formed again. Scientists and layman together must grab a pail and dip some water.

UPDATE: MTheory clarifes his position at his blog. And just so there's no misunderstanding I agree with him. We just muddied the details a bit.

9 comments:

kevin said...

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/expelled.php

Catherine said...

What I find so disturbing about Stein (and the others who espouse this pablam) is the idea that evolution and a "higher power" (god, flying spaghetti monster, gaia, or whatever) are mutually exclusive. I've long believed that perhaps there was more than animated mud that started this whole experiment, but whatever "it" was happened hundreds of millions (or billions), not thousands, of years ago.

Keep the buckets comin' Grift.

MTHEORY said...

Holy natural selection, batman! I thought I was the only person in the world who believed this whole Creation vs. Evolution "debate" is a false dilemma. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. She did so with a Big Bang." End of debate?

Grift, I haven't seen the movie, and have too much to do today to commit to a lengthy back and forth, but it looked to me as though "Expelled" is about how the ID advocates and neo-creationists are being shut out of the scientific community, and treated with hostility by their colleagues.

My question is this: If Evolution wins the scientific "debate" over and over and over, (which it does and will because it is science and ID is not) why isn't the debate worth having? It's like the scientists are the Harlem Globetrotters and the creationists are the Washington Generals. Why doesn't science want 12,000 wins, and the opportunity to explain to a new audience every so often what the scientific method is?

Seems to me that debate would result in less stupidity, not more.

Sara said...

Gravity won the debate. Do we waste time continuing to have it?

It's sort of like a rash of frivolous lawsuits against a product that's not really defective--even when the manufacturer wins every single one in the end, they waste more and more time and money defending every single one than they would if courts would start to recognize that they're frivolous and dismiss them. And meanwhile, it only takes one loss to embolden the plaintiffs, grab all the headlines and cause even more lawsuits to spring up.

MTHEORY said...

Sara, I'm not sure I'm getting your argument. Gravity had been a field of inquiry in India before Aristotle tried to figure it out. It was completely settled, once and for all eternity by Isaac Newton -until Einstein came along. Einstein's general relativity doesn't explain all the stuff that goes on in quantum mechanics and the current thinking in THAT field is a bunch of theories. (One of which is -ahem- the M Theory.)

Seems to have been a productive line of inquiry and debate.

griftdrift said...

Well blogger just ate my comment.

So I'll try do a brief recap.

To answer the question why not debate first you have to answer the question why do creationists always want to control the format? Instead of a written debate or the peer review process they always choose some public forum where they can use glamour and glibness to obfuscate their deception.

Second. Debate would add a false air of legitimacy to their argument. Would we expect a historian to debate a holocaust denier just because we believe the historian would win?

Finally a little piece of science. Evolution does not deal with the origin of life. It deals with what happens to that life after it exists. Exactly the type of obfuscation creations love to use to confuse.

Sara said...

I tried to respond 3 times and it ate my comment every time, so I gave up.

It's a conspiracy!

Catherine said...

Well,scientists have other things to do. Like, um, science. Is it really the best use of our great minds to spend time debating with BC Tours or Ben Stein. I'd rather they were trying to solve the real problems of our time. Yeah, radical, I know.

BEZERKO said...

Ben Stein is smart, which makes this video shocking. The mix of paranoia and self righteousness scares me. The "debate" is a ruse and a waste of time.

I like Sam Harris' diamond the size of a refrigerator burried in the back yard story. Immagine a guy who's convinced there's a diamond the size of a refrigerator in his backyard. He says 'every weekend, me and my family dig in the backyard looking for a diamond the size of a refrigerator in my backyard. I can't tell you the joy I feel, when we're back there looking for it. In fact, I don't think I'd want to live in a universe where there's not a diamond the size of a refrigerator burried in my backyard.' And how is that any different or less rational.