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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thinkquote of the day: Conspirazoids explain intelligent design for you

A friend draws my attention to Jeffrey Koperski's interesting reflections on the academics who made their careers out of critiquing intelligent design ideas. In "Intelligent Design and the End of Science" in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, he comments on Barbara Forrest's essay Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics :

This book is not designed to engage the opposing side, but rather to put down an insidious movement.

Just how insidious is shown in Barbara Forrest’s historical overview. With a tone like that of an investigative reporter, Forrest quotes from an “internal CRSC [Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture] document, titled ‘The Wedge Strategy,’ that surfaced from an anonymous source in March, 1999” (3). According to this document, the ultimate goal of the
Wedge is to overthrow the naturalistic hegemony and replace it with something a bit more friendly to theists. And like all good revolutionary movements, Forrest sees this one as having a clear plan. Among other things, "CRSC creationists have taken the time and trouble to acquire legitimate degrees, providing them a degree of cover both while they are students and after they join university faculties" (38), which implies that people join the ID movement and only then decide to get their doctorates as a means for advancing their sinister Wedge Strategy. Just like modern terrorists, their M. O. is to "blend more smoothly into the academic population" (39). There is no biographical information to support these claims, but shadowy figures like these are just the kind of extremists who would do something like that. Forrest's goal is to reveal the "deep" motives behind ID, all in a what-they-don't-want-you-to-know tone.

Of course, Forrest's career depends on portraying the ID guys and their ideas this way, which is all very well for her. But those who ask no critical questions do themselves no favors. They may just as well believe that the ID guys are space aliens, for all the predictive value they'll get.

If you want to understand why the intelligent design controversy cannot go away, read By Design or by Chance?.

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Wikipedia seen as grudge factory?: Competitor looms

Recently, there have been some serious problems with widely consulted Wikipedia entries on major intelligent design figures that read like poison pen letters. The trouble is, anyone can edit a Wiki entry. This problem is hardly likely to be confined to the intelligent design controversy, as a recent scandal and ban on school use has spotlighted.

As Financial Times put it, Wikipedia's celebrated "openness" has
drawn charges of unreliability and left it vulnerable to disputes between people with opposing views, particularly on politically sensitive topics.

Read the rest here.
My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind, on behalf of the forthcoming bookThe Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist'sc ase forthe existence of the soul

If you like this blog, check out my 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?

My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God , my backgrounder about peer review issues, or the evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin and of academic ID publications.

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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