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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Podcasts, etc. on the intelligent design controversy

I'm just re-posting some stuff without apology because I am hundreds of posts behind, and bloggers are volunteers, and making a living in these times is not easy.

But it is all very interesting:

1. NPR Covers Evolution Mind Evolution Debate With Dr. Michael Egnor

NPR's All Things Considered ran a story on the running debate between Evolution News & Views contributor Dr. Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY Stony Brook, and Darwinist neurologist Dr. Steven Novella from Yale. With "Doubting Darwin: Debate Over The Mind's Evolution" NPR takes a look at the scientific debate over the mind-brain problem currently shaking up neuroscience.

Listen to the report here because, as reporter Jon Hamilton notes, "The outcome of the mind-brain debate will have a profound impact on everything from what students learn in high school to how decisions are made at the end of life."

Here are a few of Dr. Egnor's posts on the mind-brain problem and some background on the back-and-forth between Dr. Egnor and Dr. Novella:

My Reply to Dr. Novella?s Critique of Intentionality as a Property of the Mind
Proving Dr. Novella Wrong: Enjoying Tennis in a Persistent Vegetative State
The Hard and Easy Problems in the Mind-Brain Question
The Mind and Materialist Superstition

[What's really remarkable is that NPR would consider the possibility that materialism could be wrong. I remember when they wouldn't.]

2. National Academy Scientist Says Darwin's Theory Is Being Oversold

In other MSM news, posted NAS member Philip S. Skell's article, "The Dangers of Overselling Evolution," where Dr. Skell argues that Darwinian evolution is being pushed as a theory of everything:

To conflate contemporary scientific studies of existing organisms with those of the paleontologists serves mainly to misguide the public and teachers of the young. An examination of the papers in the National Academy of Sciences' premiere journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), as well as many other journals and the Nobel awards for biological discoveries, supports the crucial distinction I am making.

Examining the major advances in biological knowledge, one fails to find any real connection between biological history and the experimental designs that have produced today's cornucopia of knowledge of how the great variety of living organisms perform their functions. It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers and other practitioners of biological science.

It is widely accepted that the growth of science and technology in the West, which accounts for the remarkable advances we enjoy today in medicine, agriculture, travel, communications, etc., coincided with the separation, several centuries ago, of the experimental sciences from the dominance of the other important fields of philosophy, metaphysics, theology and history.

Yet many popularizers of Darwin's theory now claim that without the study of ancient biological history, our students will not be prepared to engage in the great variety of modern experimental activities expected of them. The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.

Read the rest of Dr. Skell's article here.

If you're interested in more about what Dr. Skell thinks about Darwinian evolution, and about how he came to be a Darwin skeptic, you can listen to three short but informative interviews with him at ID The Future.

[Sure you can, but the basic thing to see is that he came to be a Darwin skeptic because Darwinism is entirely useless to the purposes for which most human beings would want to pay taxes to fund science.]

- Interview with National Academy of Sciences Member Philip Skell, Part OneIn this ID the Future podcast, Casey Luskin interviews Philip S. Skell, Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Skell discusses his research, which has included work on reactive intermediates in chemistry, free-atom reactions, and reactions of free carbonium ions.

- Interview with National Academy of Sciences Member Philip Skell, Part TwoOn this episode of ID the Future, National Academy of Sciences member Phillip Skell shares his story of becoming a Darwin-skeptic with Casey Luskin, explaining how his experience in antibiotic research and the questions he posed to his colleagues inspired his 2005 article in The Scientist, ?Why Do We Invoke Darwin?: Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology.?

- Interview with National Academy of Sciences Member Philip Skell, Part ThreeOn this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin interviews National Academy of Sciences member Phillip Skell on his advice for young scientists who may be Darwin-skeptics. Dr. Skell has been outspoken in his stand for academic freedom and against intolerance.

3. Darwin's Legacy: The Hidden Story, Now Broadcast Live Online February 26th
If Charles Darwin were to show up at his 200th birthday celebration in 2009, he would be shocked by the scientific puzzles and cultural fallout that his theory generated. To trace the untold story of the controversy he sparked, The C.S. Lewis Society is featuring a live discussion with:

Dr. Steve FullerAuthor of Dissent over DescentSocial Scientist from EnglandAuthority in the Movie, "Expelled."

Dr. Michael MedvedNationally Syndicated Talk Radio Host2 Million Daily ListenersNew York Times Best Selling Author.

Dr. Tom WoodwardAuthor of Doubts about Darwin and Darwin Strikes BackResearch Professor at Trinity College.

Date: 7:00PM to 9:00PM, Thursday February 26th

The event will be broadcast live on the internet thanks to Tampa conservative talk radio station 860 WGUL. The program runs 7:00PM to 9:00PM Easter time, Thursday February 26th. The station will carry the news at the top of the hour, but by 7:05pm EST it will be begin streaming audio of the event. Go to and click on LISTEN LIVE in the upper left hand corner.

4. Hypocrisy, Free Speech, and the University of Vermont

Discovery Institute senior fellow David Klinghoffer shares how a polite query to University of Vermont professor and Ben Stein-basher Nicolas Gotelli soon turned into an illustration of hypocrisy, cynicism, and :

When I received his response to my initial email, I thought it was so ridiculous and hypocritical that I said to myself, Wouldn?t it be amusing to publish this on ENV? Then I reflected disappointedly, No, it's a private correspondence, that would be unethical! I can't do it without his permission and, since he'd have to be pretty thoughtless to allow someone to reprint his hysterically bristling letter, it's not worth asking.

Luckily, Professor Gotelli has solved my problem for me. He promptly and without seeking permission sent our emails off to PZ Myers, who immediately published them on Pharyngula. You can read the correspondence there. Thank you, gentlemen.

Gotelli is the fellow who wrote an op-ed in the Burlington Free Press expressing the view that it was only proper that UVM should cancel Ben Stein as graduation speaker because the popular entertainer is also a ?notorious advocate of intelligent design? who maintains that Darwinian ideas had deadly consequences in the form of Nazi racist ideology (only too true). Gotelli asserted it was appropriate to invite 'controversial' speakers to campus, since 'one of the best ways to refute intellectually bankrupt ideas is to expose them to the light of day.' But a commencement speaker is someone special, Gotelli went on, someone chosen for his peer-reviewed scholarship.

Someone, it turns out, like the widely published scholar Howard Dean, to whom UVM turned next and who will deliver the commencement address. What, as one online reader of Gotelli?s op-ed plaintively asked, "Was Daffy Duck unavailable"?

Read the rest at ENV, where Klinghoffer takes Gotelli to task for claiming to stand for free speech while supporting censorship.

[A more relevant question - to me - is, why are alumni/taxpayers supporting these institutions? Like, could you not possibly spend your discretionary income more wisely?]

5. Oh yes, and here's a bunch of "Darwin Day" stuff that I did not have time for at the time because I was busy, but here it is, archived for yur convenience in case you care.

(Actually, some of the stuff below might be quite interesting. I never got involved because - it is the story of my life - something else was happening at the time that eclipsed the social noise*.)

Celebrating Darwin Day 2009
While Darwin had his fair share of press in the MSM today, ENV has a different take:
The number of fawning pieces about Charles Darwin of late have been overwhelming, to say the least. Likewise the celebrations at biology departments across the country are in full swing today with cake eating contests, Darwin carols, game shows, honorary operas, and even the minting of new money with his likeness in the UK.
But there are some over takes on Darwin and his legacy, including a number of articles we're happy to highlight for your Darwin Day reading pleasure.
Professors Show Need for Academic Freedom Bill by The Oklahoma Daily Editorial Board, The Oklahoma Daily
Happy Atheist Day by Dr. Michael Egnor, Evolution News & Views
Happy Darwin Day? by Dr. Jonathan Wells, The Washington Times
Darwin, Intelligent Design, and Freedom of Discovery on Evolutionists' Holy Day by Casey Luskin, US News & World Report
Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin by Dr. Benjamin Wiker,
Darwin's Birth Day by Dr. Geoffrey Simmons, Discovery Institute
Darwin would teach 'weaknesses,' too by Kelly Coghlan, Dallas Morning News
There is no politically correct science by Dr. John West,
A Neurosurgeon, Not A Darwinist by Dr. Michael Egnor,
The problem of evidence by Dr. Jonathan Wells,

Academic Freedom Day Video and Essay Contest Winners
Discovery Institute is happy to announce the winners of the 2009 Academic Freedom Day Video & Essay Contest. We had lots of great entries, but the judges have narrowed it down and finally selected a Grand Prize overall winner ($500 award), and a 1st place winner ($250 award) in each category.

Grand Prize Overall Winner: Joshua Owens, Forth Worth, TX (read the essay here).

1st Place Essay Winner: Jaron Daniel Schoone, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (read the essay here).

1st Place Video Winner: David Daudelin, Hackettstown, NJ (watch the video here).

Essay honorable mention: Sarah Horton, Grove City, PA (read the essay here).

Video honorable mention: Brian Miller, Amy Ingermanson, Michael Curtain and Aubrey Burd, Battleground, WA (watch the video here).

Congratulations to our winners for continuing to inspire the intelligent design movement with their thoughtfulness and creativity!

Zogby Poll Shows Dramatic Jump in Number of Americans Who Favor Teaching Both Sides of Evolution

A new Zogby poll on the eve of Charles Darwin?s 200th birthday shows a dramatic rise in the number of Americans who agree that when biology teachers teach the scientific evidence for Darwin?s theory of evolution, they also should teach the scientific evidence against it. Surprisingly, the poll also shows overwhelming support among self-identified Democrats and liberals for academic freedom to discuss the ?strengths and weaknesses? evolution.

Over 78% of likely voters agree with teaching both the evidence for and against Darwin?s theory, according to the new national poll.

"This represents a dramatic 9-point jump from 2006, when only 69% of respondents in a similar poll favored teaching both sides," said Discovery Institute?s Dr. John West. "At the same time, the number of likely voters who support teaching only the evidence that favors evolution dropped 7 points from 21% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2009.

"We need to change Darwin Day to Academic Freedom Day because just when Darwinists are celebrating evolution?s triumph, this poll shows that they have been losing the public debate over whether students need to hear both sides," added West. "There appears to be a public backlash against the strong-arm tactics being employed by many Darwinists to intimidate scientists, teachers, and students who want to raise criticisms of Darwin's theory."

The poll results also shatter some preconceptions about who supports letting students hear a balanced presentation on Darwinian evolution, with Democrats supporting teaching Darwinism's 'strengths and weaknesses' even more overwhelmingly than Republicans, at 82% and 73%, respectively.

Added West: "Media reports insinuate that a right-wing conspiracy of know nothings and religious extremists is afoot. But the Zogby poll reflects a very broad-based and well-informed constituency for academic freedom that includes liberals, moderates, independents, and people from every race and age group. The Darwin Lobby has really isolated itself from public opinion.?

The telephone poll, commissioned by Discovery Institute and conducted Jan. 29-31, surveyed over 1,000 likely voters and has a +/-3.1% margin of error.

Download our report on the 2009 Zogby poll about evolution and academic freedom here.

6. Does Darwinism lend support more naturally to a capitalist moral-economic perspective or to a Marxist one?

On this episode of ID the Future, David Klinghoffer explores the deep Darwinian roots of Communism, arguing that, while Marx had already begun sketching the outlines of his ideas before Darwin published the Origin of Species, he is fairly called a Darwinist, and the men who translated Marxism into practical political terms in the form of Soviet terror were evolutionary thinkers, just as they themselves claimed to be.

Listen in to learn more, and read more about Darwinism & Communism at Evolution News & Views:

Darwinism & Communism, Part I,
Darwinism & Communism, Part II,
Darwinism & Communism, Part III

[In my view, the main thing to see about Darwinism and communism is that they both front a materialist view of the universe that justifies treating people as if they were animals. I thought we fought that war a long time ago. Maybe we need to fight it again. ]

*That happens a lot. For example, recently, someone asked me why I had never had much to say at my blog about the stupid Dover trial. Well, I explained, (1) basically, I was under contract to one of the biggest publishing companies in the world to produce a book (with a lead author); (2) Parties from both sides were on the scene, so my blogging just wouldn't be fresh. So I just got to work on the book, And it hasn't done badly. This is it, okay?

Oh, and here's Darwin, 200 years later.


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