More from the evolution hearing

see I told you…

Back in our other discussion I noted that the word “science” has meant a number of different things through history. Apparently the Kansas board wants to regress to the medieval understanding of science - totally consistent with the underlying religious epistemology. Next thing you know they’ll be burning books, and there will be a cabinet level position for “heresiologist”! :)

What utter fools. :D



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Kansas Debate Challenges Science Itself By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press Writer
Mon May 16, 6:33 PM ET



The Kansas school board’s hearings on evolution weren’t limited to how the theory should be taught in public schools. The board is considering redefining science itself. Advocates of “intelligent design” are pushing the board to reject a definition limiting science to natural explanations for what’s observed in the world.

Instead, they want to define it as “a systematic method of continuing investigation,” without specifying what kind of answer is being sought. The definition would appear in the introduction to the state’s science standards.

The proposed definition has outraged many scientists, who are frustrated that students could be discussing supernatural explanations for natural phenomena in their science classes.

“It’s a completely unscientific way of looking at the world,” said Keith Miller, a Kansas State University geologist.

The conservative state Board of Education plans to consider the proposed changes by August. It is expected to approve at least part of a proposal from advocates of intelligent design, which holds that the natural world is so complex and well-ordered that an intelligent cause is the best way to explain it.

State and national science groups boycotted last week’s public hearings, claiming they were rigged against evolution.

Stephen Meyer, a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design, said changing the schools’ definition of science would avoid freezing out questions about how life arose and developed on Earth.

The current definition is “not innocuous,” Meyer said. "It’s not neutral. It’s actually taking sides."

Last year, the board asked a committee of educators to draft recommendations for updating the standards, then accepted two rival proposals.

One, backed by a majority of those educators, continues an evolution-friendly tone from the current standards. Those standards would define science as “a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.” That’s close to the current definition.

The other proposal is backed by intelligent design advocates and is similar to language in Ohio’s standards. It defines science as “a systematic method of continuing investigation” using observation, experiment, measurement, theory building, testing of ideas and logical argument to lead to better explanations of natural phenomena.

The Kansas board deleted most references to evolution from the science standards in 1999, but elections the next year resulted in a less conservative board, which led to the current, evolution-friendly standards. Conservatives recaptured the board’s majority in 2004.

Jonathan Wells, a Discovery Institute senior fellow, said the dispute won’t be settled in public hearings like the ones in Kansas.

“I think it will be resolved in the scientific community,” he said. "I think (intelligent design), in 10 years, will be a very respectable science program."

Evolution defenders scoff at the notion.

“In order to live in this science-dominated world, you have to be able to discriminate between science and non-science,” said Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “They want to rewrite the rules of science.”

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On the Net:

State Board of Education: http://www.ksbe.state.ks.us

Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org

American Association for the Advancement of Science: http://www.aaas.org

I love the ridiculous overreaction and exaggeration used to deride what’s going on. It’s interesting that much of the scientific community chose to boycott this event instead of participate. Evidently they weren’t too confident in their abilities to persuade with logical arguments.

Right, although that lack of confidence could as easily be the result of the recognition that the ID people won’t exercise logic themselves, as it might be the result of bad logic on the part of the scientists. Can’t argue with people who don’t respect the rules of logic, and that pretty much describes the apocalyptic fundamentalist ideologues on the Kansas Board. :)

Quote (TomS @ May 17 2005,10:41)
Right, although that lack of confidence could as easily be the result of the recognition that the ID people won't exercise logic themselves, as it might be the result of bad logic on the part of the scientists. Can't argue with people who don't respect the rules of logic, and that pretty much describes the apocalyptic fundamentalist ideologues on the Kansas Board. :)

Have you actually met these people or do you just enjoy generalizing and namecalling??

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I love the ridiculous overreaction and exaggeration used to deride what’s going on.

Once again - another “anti-intellectual” attack from ksdb.

You don’t have to meet these people because they’re all pretty much the same. They share each other’s information so their message is the same. These people are trying to drive a wedge into the schools, the science curriculums, etc. They’ve been doing it for years & now they’re getting successful.

Tom is right. I saw how they were trying to change the definition of science. This is dangerous stuff but we’ll get what we deserve if we continue on this anti-intellectual trend we’re on.
Quote (ksdb @ May 17 2005,10:47)
Quote (TomS @ May 17 2005,10:41)
Right, although that lack of confidence could as easily be the result of the recognition that the ID people won't exercise logic themselves, as it might be the result of bad logic on the part of the scientists. Can't argue with people who don't respect the rules of logic, and that pretty much describes the apocalyptic fundamentalist ideologues on the Kansas Board. :)

Have you actually met these people or do you just enjoy generalizing and namecalling??

This is not a generalization, except in the sense that it describes every member of a group (a rather small one at that - the members of the school board who support ID because they think it follows from their religious commitments). Nor is it name calling, except in the sense that someone might object to the description "apocalyptic fundamentalists ideologues." Seems to me that this is a perfectly accurate description of them, although I am sure it is also clear that I disagree with that view and find people who hold it and use it as the basis of public policy dangerous. So if by "name calling" you mean "expressing a moral condemnation" then while I don't enjoy it, I do a lot of it. I think you called it "judgmental" in another thread, and I called it "prudent exercise of judgment" or something like that.

By the way, as a matter of logic, the two options you offered are not exhaustive, and hence you have committed the fallacy of false dichotomy. It is entirely possible to pass judgment on them without having met them, and as I argued I did not merely call them names.

Also, since your argument was in the form of a question, and since the question assumed something that was not true, you may also have committed the fallacy of complex question. :)

But don't get too pissed at me, ksdb, for I also admit that I could be totally wrong about this. The people behind this in Kansas (and Ohio and pretty much everywhere else) may not only have my best interests at heart, but may be correct. I think it highly unlikely, but it is possible.


:)

Toker, from merriam-webster online, a useful word:


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Main Entry: mi·sol·o·gy
Pronunciation: m&-'sä-l&-jE
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek misologia, from misein + -logia -logy
: a hatred of argument, reasoning, or enlightenment

Misology must be the reason why scientists boycotted the hearing. Fear could be another reason. Contempt might be another. Utter fools or apocalyptic fundamentalist ideologues might be an excellent way to describe these scientists in absentia. Intellectual, however, doesn’t seem apply to these scientists.

They did the right thing boycotting those meetings.

Even worse - they’ll be burning Beatles CDs again :laugh:

Quote (Mr Soul @ May 17 2005,12:28)
They did the right thing boycotting those meetings.

Even worse - they'll be burning Beatles CDs again :laugh:

Yet another simplistic exaggeration to make yourself feel superior. This seems to be SOP.

“Again”? Did they ever burn Beatles CDs? I thought they burned LPs… :)

Well, ksdb, let’s hear some arguments in favor of their revised definition of “science.” ???

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Yet another simplistic exaggeration to make yourself feel superior.

Considering that I don’t want to feel superior over anyone, I think you’ve got some self-esteem issues going on here.

Like Tom said, let’s hear some reasons for the re-definition of science.

Toker tell me why the idea of burning Beatles CDs has any relevance to this discussion.

It’s interesting that neither of you specified what was in the new definition that you object to. Without referring back to the article, can you tell which is the new definition??

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a systematic method of continuing investigation using observation, experiment, measurement, theory building, testing of ideas and logical argument to lead to better explanations of natural phenomena.


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human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us

That’s easy - it’s right in the article:

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definition limiting science to natural explanations for what’s observed in the world.

Instead, they want to define it as “a systematic method of continuing investigation,” without specifying what kind of answer is being sought.


Does “Intelligent Design” Threaten the Definition of Science?.

The reference to burning Beatles CDs was an obvious joke (or so I thought). It came from Tom’s remarks about burning books.

Here’s a definition of science that I like:

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a method of learning about the physical universe by applying the principles of the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study

Quote (Mr Soul @ May 17 2005,14:19)
That’s easy - it’s right in the article:

Did you miss the easy part in my previous post that said, “Without referring back to the article?”

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definition limiting science to natural explanations for what’s observed in the world.

Instead, they want to define it as “a systematic method of continuing investigation,” without specifying what kind of answer is being sought.


Does “Intelligent Design” Threaten the Definition of Science?.

Quote (Mr Soul @ May 17 2005,14:19)
The reference to burning Beatles CDs was an obvious joke (or so I thought). It came from Tom’s remarks about burning books.

From where does the humor in these references derive and at the expense of whom?? If you’re joking about other people, is this not a method for making yourself feel superior??

Quote (Mr Soul @ May 17 2005,14:19)
Here’s a definition of science that I like:

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a method of learning about the physical universe by applying the principles of the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study


It’s nice that you found a definition you like, but you still haven’t said what you object to in the definitions being considered by the Kansas Board of Education. Perhaps you should have attended these hearings and presented this definition.

Well, under the proposed definition, philosophy would count as a science, since it is “a systematic method of continuing investigation.” So would mathematics, logic, music, and even recording music. Seems to me that we ought to keep “science” limited to empirical studies of the natural world - and leave mysticism and rationalism out of it. Not because I really care what we call it, but because the word has a social signifiance such that diluting the meaning would allow mysticism (or philosophy or logic, or the rest) to be taught as science. They all need to be taught as what they are, wihtout pretending that there are no significant epistemological differences between them. Saying this does not make the ID argument any less interesting or important, but it also helps avoid making it seem like it is something that it is not.

So - what can you say in favor of the revised definition?

???

The new definition looks more specific to me and seems to suggest standards for investigation. The old definition seems extremely vague. What constitutes a “natural explanation” and whether it’s systematic or not?? I could systematically look out my window every day at the same time and conclude the world is flat because I can’t see beyond the horizon. Under the new definition I would need to experiment and measure to see how far the horizon goes, and in doing so, would come up with a completely different conclusion.

OK, enough of opinion and speculation; let’s look at facts!

So, I’d like to move away from generalities, and look at a specific case study.

I talked about the giant panda in another thread, but this time, I’d like to return closer to home and discuss the haggis.

For those who aren’t familiar with the beast (and if you’re not Scots, you’re undoubtedly not), it’s a flightless bird which inhabits the mountainous regions of the Scottish Highlands.

It’s about the size of a large chicken, but it’s a true carnivore. It hunts and eats; lizards, snakes, rodents and small rabbits, but on occasion, larger prey too.

Although they tend to be solitary animals; in the depths of winter they form packs and will hunt and kill sheep and small deer.

Although no reliable record exists of them ever killing a human being, nonetheless hikers sometimes do disappear, and often their whitely gleaming skeletons are discovered and the bones show marks of haggis teeth. Although, whether they were killed by the haggi, or their bodies were merely scavenged by them, is unknown.

(Note: The haggis, like the south-American Hoatzin, is a very primitive almost reptilian bird, and has vestigial wing claws and small, but very sharp conical teeth).

But the strangest thing about the haggis, and this is where it bears on the evolution/ID argument, is that it’s asymmetrical.

Being an active hunter who lives on mountain sides, one can see that running up and down a mountain would be very energy inefficient, so they don’t.

Instead they tend to remain at one altitude, and spend their lives running around the mountain.

To assist them in this, one leg is twice as long as the other. So, a haggis with a long left leg runs around the mountain in a clockwise direction, and a haggis with a long right leg runs around the mountain in an anti-clockwise direction.

Fortuitously, most males are clockwise types, and most females are anti-clockwise, and this ensures that encounters between the opposites sexes are common, (but often fustratingly brief).

Now, this nature of the haggi may be ascribed to evolution or to ID. Either argument could explain this peculiarly they have,

but, there is an anomalous type of haggis.

Sometimes a haggis is born that, although having its left leg longer than its right, nonetheless, runs around the mountain anti-clockwise, i.e., backwards. (Strangely enough, it’s almost always males who exhibit this strange behaviour).

One can see a couple of advantages of this evolutionary experiment: As they go running along at full speed (backwards), they are able to spot any prey their passage has disturbed, and quickly nip back and snap up the wee tidbit.

And more importantly, in the dry heat of the summer, their backwards mode of locomotion keeps the dust out of their eyes.

(There is also a suggestion that the basic motivation of these haggi is to do with their sexual orientation, but as this is unproven, I’ll say no more about it).

But anyway, there is a wee drawback.

Cliffs.

And sadly, these haggi tend to get no older than adolescence before their wee mummified corpses are found at the bases of cliffs. (One can tell it’s the body of a backwards running haggis by the extremely surprised expression on its beak).

Incidentally, it’s these bodies that are served up in Scottish restaurants. Hunting adult haggi is very dangerous, whereas with these, you just have to harvest them. And because they’re young and small, the meat is tender, and not only that, but because the corpse has had time to “mature” lying at the bottom of the cliff, the flavour is maximised.

Anyway, back to evolution/ID.

Now, one can see how the random experimental nature of evolution could throw up these weird haggi, but, ID?

Stupid Design perhaps, but certainly not Intelligent.

So, ‘nuff said, I think that just about proves the whole case. :D

Ali

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From where does the humor in these references derive and at the expense of whom?? If you’re joking about other people, is this not a method for making yourself feel superior??

OK - you’re right. I’m joking about you because you’ll be burning the CDs and yes I am superior :O :p :laugh:

BTW - I’m glad to see you posting here again (seriously). You seemed to be avoiding us for a while.