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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why would Brazilians want to hear from a chemist who thinks there is design in nature?

A friend from Brazil has been writing to tell me that the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science cancelled a lecture by chemist Marcos N Eberlin, Prof Dr Universidade Estadual de Campinas - UNICAMP (State University of Campinas) Instituto de Química (Institute of Chemistry) when they discovered that he might be talking about the design of our universe. Now Eberlin writes to say,
I sent the organizers the title of my talk and a resume. They accept it and added the talk to the scientific program. For two weeks my talk was advertized in the SBPC 2008 reunion website (see program enclosed) for Tuesday 15 10:30h (Terça Feira = Tuesday).

Yesterday I got an email for the organization saying simply and rudely that my talk had been cancelled! No explanations, no excuses… I then asked for a explanation, and they said ID is religion in the board of directors SBPC opinion and that is why they cancelled my talk. I let them know how erroneous they are and that ID is Science in its essence and that people would know no intelligence is allowed also at the SBPC meetings but as usual they were inflexible.
So that is the story. I think we should let everybody knows how scientific organizations are acting … people have the right to know.

I have a few other talks about ID in public universities here in Brazil scheduled for the 2nd semester, lets see if they will act to cancel these talks also… I hope not.

Dr. Eberlin, don't be surprised if other talks are suddenly cancelled. Always remember that your local adminbots need the idea that there is no design in nature - it provides the perfect excuse for their frightened stampede round the file cabinets.

They do not show intelligence because - intelligence does not exist anyway!

I hope you get a chance to give your lecture in Canada. Some here would like to hear it.

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Enron and Darwinism: A perfect fit?

I've sometimes said that Darwinism is the Enron of biology, but I hadn't realized that the Enron guys themselves were actually Darwin freaks. A friend tells me, re the Enron doc, The Smartest Guys in the Room,
Of interest to me was the unapologetically explicit philosophy of Darwinism which was prevalent at Enron from top management to commodity traders.
Hmmm. Every year, in the Freelance Survival 101 course that I teach at Write! Canada, I spend a certain amount of the available time disabusing students of the view that Darwinian competition is the best way to understand how business works.

The business environment with which I am familiar - and in which I have managed to thrive as a freelance writer for nearly four decades - is best seen as an ecology, not a Darwinian jungle.

The secret of thriving in an ecology is to know how the system works, your place in it, and the safe limits for any activity.

Example: I am only occasionally in direct competition with other writers. Most of the time, they have the same interests as I do, and the whole publishing industry has certain interests in relation to other industries and to government - and to the publishing industries and governments in other English-speaking countries. So we all work together most of the time.

Lone Darwinians are usually pole-axed.

And the Enrons didn't know that? Oops, I am admitting that Darwinism is nonsense. It isn't safe for you to hear me. Don't listen to me if your job requires you to believe that Darwinism is the best idea anyone ever had, as American philosopher Daniel Dennett puts it.

Here is an interview that attempts to rewrite Darwin, to rescue him:
METRO: You stressed that Skilling's misreading of Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene changed him: Skilling got his ideas from it, in the same way the robber barons of the Gilded Age misread Darwin.

GIBNEY: And a close reading of Adam Smith shows it's not a "What, me worry?" world. Yes, Skilling misread that book to believe that if everyone is as selfish as possible, the best possible social outcome will emerge. There's a lot in Darwin about cooperation as a viable genetic strategy.

METRO: The stuff anyone who goes on a rainforest tour learns, about symbiosis and interlocking systems. It's all just beyond the ken of these guys.
Actually, Darwin agreed with Herbert Spencer that Darwinism was about "survival of the fittest."*

Agree? Disagree? If you need to rewrite Darwin to make him fit YOUR philosophy, why do you? What's going on in your head at this point? Why don't you just junk all that crap, and admit that you live in a designed universe. And so?

*You will, of course, hear modern hagiographers of Darwin attempting to soften or dismiss all this, to accommodate Darwinism to the nanny state. They need Darwin so badly, he can't just wrong, so he needs to be rewritten so that he is right.

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Trying to understand intelligent design? I see a hatchet in your future ...

Some Brit friends have written to me to protest Stephen Poole's hatchet job review of American-born Warwick U sociologist Steve Fuller's recent book Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism. For example,
The book is an epoch-hopping parade of straw men, incompetent reasoning and outright gibberish, as when evolution is argued to share with astrology a commitment to "action at a distance", except that the distance is in time rather than space. It's intellectual quackery like this that gives philosophy of science a bad name.
One friend complains,
Basically we doubt that Stephen Poole, the reviewer, has ever read the book. He has abused his readers. We’ve written to The Guardian to say so.
Why must Brits be surprised about what isn't surprising, and doesn't even need explaining?

Look, any sound idealogue can write a hatchet job on a book, merely on hearing of its existence. And right now, anti-ID rubbish flows through every legacy media hack's word processor. Poole may well have flipped through the book or even scanned every character, but so?

It takes considerable effort to stop the flow and ask a couple of simple questions:

1. Do I think that the universe shows no evidence whatever of intelligent design?

2. Have I ever tested this assumption?

3. Do I think that mind can arise from mud like fairies from toadstools? And, ... oh, wait ! ... ?
If Poole did not in fact make that effort, he does not differ from a large crowd. But let's assume he did. I know of legacy journalists for whom putting their name on a hatchet job would be a mere act of faith, a conventional duty.

A copy of Fuller's book is on its way to me, and I will say no more until I read it.

Except this: The legacy media "story of the century" is that science proves we are robots, selfish genes, or monkeys. Any story that does not fit that template must eventually be either attacked or relegated to the "cute religion" desk, along with the fetching kittens and the fragile rainforest flowers. Cute venomous snakes and weeds, however, remain "science."

I plan to interview Fuller.

Meanwhile, buy the guy's book, on your own, will you, so no one can prove I am responsible for a sudden spike in popularity.

Other Post-Darwinist articles on Steve Fuller:

"British sociologist charges: Hostility to intelligent design is bigotry, not science"

"Giving Darwin a decent burial


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