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Friday, June 20, 2008

Straw in the wind: Science writer tries to figure out why intelligent design theory doesn't go away

In "What neo-creationists get right" in The Scientist (June 20., 2008), Gordy Slack, an Oakland-based science writer who is not sympathetic to intelligent design theory attempts to explain why it can't be stamped out, and makes a
few reasonably good guesses, for example,
When they say that some proponents of evolution are blind followers, they're right. A few years ago I covered a conference of the American Atheists in Las Vegas. I met dozens of people there who were dead sure that evolutionary theory was correct though they didn't know a thing about adaptive radiation, genetic drift, or even plain old natural selection. They came to their Darwinism via a commitment to naturalism and atheism not through the study of science. They're still correct when they say evolution happens. But I'm afraid they're wrong to call themselves skeptics unencumbered by ideology. Many of them are best described as zealots. Ideological zeal isn't incompatible with good science; its coincidence with a theory proves nothing about that theory's explanatory power.
Actually, I hope someday to prove that the most raucous Darwinists have had their bar bills paid by the evil Discovery Institute (intelligent design central) for many years. They have done more to promote intelligent design than many of its strongest proponents.

Unfortunately, Slack confuses science with materialism, which means that most of his other observations are forgettable - but it may be worth the trouble of free registration to view the article.

If you are wondering why there is an intelligent design controversy, read

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From my mailbox ...

Recently, a kind reader wrote to say


On your page ‘The ID Report’ you ask us to consider ‘three propositions’, one of which is:

Five million years ago, your ancestors were lemur-like creatures screaming in the trees.

My ancestors were not. They were apes, and were just coming down from the trees and working out how to stand on two legs.

The ‘lemur-like creatures’ you refer to first appeared 50 million years ago (maybe it was a typographical error?).

I mention this because such an error may give your opponents more reasons for criticism.

I replied,

Thanks for mentioning the error.

We mustn’t give the lemurs a legitimate grievance. – d.
Here in Canada we have enough trouble with the "human rights" busybodies. I don't want to hear from their "animal rights" counterparts under any circumstances.

Also, another kind reader asks,

Sandwalk-what about it?

Hey Denyse, I was searching for one of your blogs, The Mindful Hack, on google, and one of the links that came up was to the Sandwalk blog.

Well, as you can guess, it had an entry about you and your blogs. I read it a while back ago, and found some of the stuff troubling. I haven't checked it since.

Anyways, I was wondering if you were aware of it, and what you'd have to say about it, and what you'd do.

I really enjoy your blogs by the way!
and I replied,

I know about Sandwalk, and there are others as well.

I do a job, and some people don’t like it.

I am glad that you enjoy my blogs. – cheers, Denyse
You see, even though bloggers work at home, we are never lonely - we get mail. Now back to serious blogging!

By the way, if you like this blog, feed the kitty at the top right.

Expelled movie's screenwriter - recently demoted from "evil" to "stupid" - regains "evil" status

Kevin Miller, the screenwriter for Expelled (the controversial documentary about the intelligent design scientists), which premiers in Canada next week, mentioned his blog to me recently. There you can find out useful information such as where it is showing. For example,

Just added new cities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta, and BC. Please also note that Kelowna and Kamloops have a release date of July 4. The movie opens on June 27 everywhere else. For the actual theatres in each city, visit the theatre located on Expelled's official site.
He also comments on the psychology of the Internet Darwinist:

Back on March 21, for instance, when I commented on PZ Myers's expulsion from the Expelled screening, I was immediately branded as evil. I've never been called a liar so many times in my life. And I was surprisingly touched by how many people expressed sincere concern over the state of my soul, urging me to repent for breaking the ninth commandment.

After I did acknowledge and then correct one or two inadvertent factual errors in my original post, the trolls on my blog backed off on the liar comments for a while and started to assume I was deluded. Maybe Kevin isn't such a bad guy after all, they said. He's just been conned by those nasty IDiots over at the Discovery Institute. Perhaps if we discredit them, Kevin will see he's been duped.

When that strategy failed, I slipped one more notch down the scale from deluded to ignorant. I was told I don't know anything about science, philosophy or screenwriting, for that matter. Several people tried to educate me on these subjects. But when they found my responses to their arguments unsatisfactory, I finally hit bottom. So this is the real reason Kevin got involved in Expelled: He's too stupid to know any better. Poor, poor, Kevin.

But fear not! In the past couple of days, I have reason to believe my status has been elevated once again from stupid to evil. According to recent reports, when Expelled hits theaters on April 18, it will usher in a new Dark Age that will bring an end to science, medicine, the biosphere, and the ozone layer.
Kevin, the Internet Darwinist uses terms like "liar" in a way different from you or me. He may mean that there is a minor factual inaccuracy in your work but he usually means that the overall drift of your work doesn't promote Darwinism. And because Darwinism is Truth, you must by definition be lying. That is the principal thought pattern of the fanatic.
Also, the term "stupid" or "moron" denotes a person who has not wholeheartedly embraced the Cause, who can think of objections to Darwinism. That is not a difficult feat, actually, so growing numbers of North Americans are now evil morons, a fact whch frustrates the Darwinist no end.

Many a morning, when I still had a combox, I would get up in the morning and reject two or three such comments. One thing about the fanatic, it never occurs to him that non-fanatics necessarily doubt his claim that he never persecutes anyone. It would be practically impossible for him to refrain, given his mindset.

But now let's not kvetch, Kevin. The Darwin trolls are rude and noisy, but they do fill the theatres to see Expelled - and when was the last time anyone went to see a documentary about the philosophy of science? Normally, far more people would pay to get out of such a show than to get into it. Yet aren't you #5 in political documentaries?

See also:

Advance screening of Ben Sten's controversial Expelled film at the Varsity theatre in Toronto

The Expelled film (#5 in political documentaries) is coming to 50 screens in Canada, ... plus a surprise in two in store for Americans
(Expelled haters, take heed)!

Oh no, Ono!: Expelled (the film about the intelligent design guys) can still be shown

"Expelled film screens in Canada June 28 2008

To find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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