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Sunday, November 27, 2005

New blogs added to blogroll: Never be bored!

I must take some time off from blogging, to write two difficult chapters of a forthcoming book (Harper, March 2007). Blogging will be light, not necessarily non-existent.

what I've done besides posting a whole bunch of stuff today, is to add a number of ID blogs to the blogroll at the right. They'll keep you up to date while I pore over bad faxes and weeny little journal print, trying to understand exotic issues in neuroscience.

Science and Religion Three-Way Blog, a joint project of Wake Forest University and Western Michigan University, features students who are taking a course in the relationship between science and religion. One student commented on the Rick Sternberg story:

I can only imagine that this would have been the situation 150 years ago for a researcher who claimed that non-whites were as capable intellectually as whites. No doubt this researcher would have been abused by government-approved institutions, and the media would treat the whole thing as if it didn't happen. After all, it wouldn't fit with the reigning paradigm, and as such it would be difficult for a reporter to even think how to report it.

Fast forward 150 years to 2005. Now the story that doesn't fit with the media's paradigm is that everything we've ever been told about evolution may be wrong. It's about as radical to reporters today as intellectual equality among the races would have been in 1855. So what's a reporter to do about Sternberg's story? Simple. Don't report it. And if it gets reported, don't repeat it.

It's kinda like what you do about farting in public places. Don't do it. And if someone else does it, for goodness sake, don't draw attention to it!

I am adding this one to the blogroll on the right, along with the following:

- Science and Religion Three-Way Blog .

- The Dex View, blogger Zach Dexter, a student Web designer.

- Darwinian Fundamentalism, blogger Lawrence Selden, a macroevolution agnostic.

- ID in the UK, blogger Andrew Rowell. He has a blogroll that lists a number of ID blogs I haven't had time to visit yet.

- ProgettoCosmo, an Italian language site.

- Teleological, bloggers fdocc, Salvador, and teleologist. They have a great blogroll as well (Teleoroll)

- ID: The Future, a Discovery Institute blog, featuring most of the usual suspects.

- Also, don't miss culture reviewer Don Cichetti's Exit the Matrix on the ID controversy.

And, if you decide you hate and disagree with all those ID sympathizers, there is always Panda's Thumb, if you must.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Intelligent design: Both unfalsifiable and falsified?

Privileged Planet authors Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez argue in the Philedelphia Inquirer that

ID is said to be unscientific because it is supposedly unfalsifiable or untestable: Nothing can count against it. Some critics even claim, in the same breath, both that ID is unfalsifiable and that it has been falsified. We recently received a set of questions from a reporter doing a story on ID. One question asked how we dealt with the fact that intelligent design was unfalsifiable. Another asked for our response to biologist Ken Miller's refutation of Michael Behe's design argument. But these objections can't both be true. If ID can't be falsified, then scientific evidence can't falsify it. And if evidence can falsify it, then ID can't be unfalsifiable. Such contradictory objections should arouse our suspicions.

Being open to evidence from nature is perhaps the cardinal scientific virtue. This is why contemporary arguments for intelligent design spend a lot of time on empirical evidence, and only then defend design as the best explanation for the evidence. Unfortunately, critics of intelligent design have mostly avoided the actual arguments and evidence offered by design theorists.

Actually, it's not so much that the critics avoid evidence as that - so far as I can determine - they do not acknowledge that evidence for design could exist. That is, if it is evidence, it cannot be evidence for design, and if it is evidence for design it cannot be evidence. Thus, no matter what Gonzalez found about the unusually favourable position of Earth in the galaxy, that could not - by definition - be evidence for design. And anyone who suggests it might be could lose their job or fial to get tenure as a prof. To the extent that the anti-ID folk see science as the accumulation of evidence that things were not designed, there is no chance of the two groups discussing evidence in a fruitful way.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

More graphics of remarkable cell machinery

If you saw the animation of the bacterial flagellum, here are some more animations of
complex machinery that operates cells, the ATP synthase rotor. Also this one. (Note the warnings at the site about unauthorized use and overloading of browser caches at the first site.)

This file shows a movie of the little bacterial wheels. One wonders why larger organisms never made use of the wheel.

Also, here's an interesting interview with one of the researchers of rotary motion in cells:

When Prof. Paul Boyer advocated the rotation of ATP synthase 20 years ago, nobody listened to him. It was 1994 when things turned around. Dr. John Walker clarified the three-dimensional structure of ATP synthase. When Prof. Yoshida saw the stalk at the center of a spherical hexamer, he was shocked by the possibility of its rotation because he had not believed the ATP synthase would rotate. And then, he decided to do the experiments to prove the ATP synthase surely rotates.

[ ... ]

What Prof. Yoshida is currently concerned is that it seems fewer researchers conduct high-risk researches. “They have to write papers continually to get research funds, so they intend to conduct research with a future. However, it is also very important to work on research even under uncertainty because it may turn out novel achievement.” says Prof. Yoshida. He expects those courageous researchers will open new era with their bold ideas.

Well yes, Prof, one just has to ignore the braying herd. Often wrong but always together; that's why they make so much noise. Oh, and here's a French site as well.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Column Watch: Darwin's theory of evolution: Elegant theory or busybody aunt?

Columnist Charles Krauthammer attacks intelligent design theory, noting,

How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education too.

Okay, Charlie, but the question isn't about whether Darwin's theory of evolution is simple or brilliant but whether it accounts for - for example - the super-computer-like complexity of cells. Any aptly phrased theory sounds wonderful when no objections are permitted.

Philosopher and Discovery fellow Jonathan Witt, citing various recent events,ripostes in the Seattle Times,

Modern evolutionary theory is less a cornerstone and more the busybody aunt — into everyone's business and, all the while, very much insecure about her place in the home.

Just rock a little faster, will you, Auntie? We'll be there in no time ...

If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Usual rumble from the usual dullards: Philosophy prof asks, Is intelligent design bad theory or non theory?

Uriah Kriegel, a philosophy prof at the University of Arizona, asks "Is intelligent design a bad scientific theory or a non-scientific theory?", conveniently ruling out the possibility that it might be a theory with something to offer. (That will at least save his job.) He decides that it is
not a scientific theory, and his reasoning is fun:

It is sometimes complained that IDers resemble the Marxist historians who always found a way to modify and reframe their theory so it evades any possible falsification, never offering an experimental procedure by which ID could in principle be falsified. To my mind, this complaint is warranted indeed. But the primary problem is not with the intellectual honesty of IDers, but with the nature of their theory. The theory simply cannot be fashioned to make any potentially falsified predictions, and therefore cannot earn entry into the game of science.

Hmmm. For a moment there, I was sure that the prof was describing Darwinism, because that is a pretty exact description of Darwinism. There is no experimental procedure by which Darwinism can be falsified because it is assumed to be true on principle, and is therefore not subject to falsification.

Indeed, if you try to falsify it in a publicly funded American school system, you will likely be sued.

ID can be falsified simply by showing that there is no such thing as an irreducibly complex organ in nature.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Academic moans: Intelligent design now part of "cafeteria" of student options

Russell Jacoby moans in he LA Times that allowing criticism or second opinions on Darwinism amounts to giving students a
cafeteria of choice. He argues,

... the jargon of choice and diversity actually corrodes academic freedom, which once referred to the freedom of college instructors to teach what they considered salient, subject to the review of their peers, not outside authorities. Today, it increasingly means the freedom of students to hear what they — or their parents — want.

Jacoby apparently doesn't know - or doesn't want to acknowledge - that, where Darwinism is concerned, academic freedom disappeared a while back, and the struggle is to right the balance.

Funnily enough, Jacoby argues that "truth itself is partisan," compounding the error that led to the current mess. People who think that truth is partisan tend also to think that persecution is a duty.

They do not see themselves as on a search for truth; truth, is indeed, their bird in a cage, and everyone else's cage is, by definition, empty.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Anti-ID physicist also trashes media fave "string theory"

Physicist Lawrence Krauss, who has garnered headlines for opposing ID, now "turns on his own", as it were, by dissing string theory.

Put simply, string theory offered to combine the otherwise contradictory insights of relativity and quantum mechanics (the two great theories of the twentieth century) by proposing many extra dimensions, but the theory may be untestable without an accelerator the size of the galaxy. Both relativity and quantum mechanics are testable under real world conditions.

How could he?, anguished thousands ask.

Paul Boutin, fronting Krauss's new book Hiding in the Mirror, offers an explanation:

... Krauss' book is subtitled The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions as a polite way of saying String Theory Is for Suckers. String theory, he explains, has a catch: Unlike relativity and quantum mechanics, it can't be tested. That is, no one has been able to devise a feasible experiment for which string theory predicts measurable results any different from what the current wisdom already says would happen. Scientific Method 101 says that if you can't run a test that might disprove your theory, you can't claim it as fact. When I asked physicists like Nobel Prize-winner Frank Wilczek and string theory superstar Edward Witten for ideas about how to prove string theory, they typically began with scenarios like, "Let's say we had a particle accelerator the size of the Milky Way …" Wilczek said strings aren't a theory, but rather a search for a theory. Witten bluntly added, "We don't yet understand the core idea."

Hey, you could like this guy Krauss, especially now that he has made himself vulnerable by dissing a popular theory - and for lack of evidence, no less. Access Research Network should send him a free hoodie - on account of the glacial stares he is likely to get.

Here's the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's account of a debate between Krauss and Kansas science standards reformer John Calvert.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

The Pope using the term "intelligent design" to describe the Catholic view of origins, go here.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams attacked by Darwinist, hits back. Will he now cartoon on the subject?

"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. See also the ruling on tax funds. Note the line that the “free speech” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonbon is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.

World class chemist dissed at Catholic university because he sympathizes with intelligent design.
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