Wednesday, March 29, 2006

WorldNetDaily: Why intelligent design will change everything

WorldNetDaily: Why intelligent design will change everything

Over at Dispatches from the Culture War, there was an invitation to fisk a really, really bad article from the WorldNutDaily. I'm not a scientist, and I'm not going to go through it thoroughly but I did have some fun with what little knowledge I have and some really, choice bits.
In the opening paragraph, Lynn Barton states:
Like a fierce game of whack-a-mole, wherever I.D.'s politically incorrect head pops up, its opponents rush to smack it back down.
I have to agree with this, but I'm not looking at it in the same light as her. I just want to know why everytime a commentator or movement wears the 'politically incorrect' label proudly, it usually means they're politically motivated and politically uninformed.
Barton goes on to talk about how
intelligent design theory is going to become a major force for good in the battle to rescue our collapsing culture – because the way we think about origins affects the way we think about nearly everything.
So that's how we're supposed to accept that ID flows from the evidence! Now, how can we tie this to gay marriage? Oh I'm sure there's a way.

For example, conservatives and Christians are having a difficult time making the case against homosexual marriage. Thousands of years of exclusively heterosexual marriage mean nothing to those with a Darwinist worldview. Why, they are far more evolved than those benighted cultures in the misty past. To them, tradition is oppressive; destroying it is progress. Why shouldn't people be able to "love" whomever they want? How will it hurt your marriage?
The truth is that homosexual marriage is wrong because it violates God's design and purpose for us, with inevitably negative consequences.

Yes, there it is. I knew I left my agenda here somewhere.
If only that would flow from a bad analogy somehow:
In Darwin's time this was easier to imagine, because it was thought that cells were mere blobs of protoplasm. It fit in nicely with his idea that life could have first appeared as a simple cell. There's just one problem. We now know that there is no such thing as a "simple" cell. Recent advances in microbiology have demonstrated that the cell is literally a miniature factory town, with its own chemical library containing blueprints that are copied and transported to molecular assembly lines that manufacture everything the cell needs. Nancy Pearcey compares it to "… a large and complex model train layout, with tracks crisscrossing everywhere, its switches and signals perfectly timed so that no trains collide and the cargo reaches its destination precisely when needed."

How about quoting someone whose work is pretty easy to discredit? Let's say by Good Math:
Microbiologist Michael Behe has coined the term "irreducible complexity" to describe this. That is, the cell consists of coordinated, interlocking parts that must all be in place simultaneously, or it won't function at all. You can't improve the cell through one random mutation at a time because if you change any one aspect, the whole thing will crash. For evolutionary change to occur, every single piece of its Rube Goldberg-like factory would have to mutate at exactly the same time, and each single mutation would have to be beneficial, or the cell would just die.
Excellent. Last minute save on that one.
And for a final bit can we see if there's a way to work in Hitler, while conveniently missing out his religious motivations?
Eugenics helped Hitler convince an entire country to follow him in his attempt to wipe out the "inferior" Jews, not to mention the toll in blood it took to stop him.
Well, that's the usual stuff taken care of. We have arguement from incredulity, authority and ignorance. We've got a little discredited or thoroughly debunked stuff in the middle, a Hitler reference and some gay-bashing. Throw in a bit of fear mongering, an accusation of "Darwinists" never engaging the substance of your argument, avoid theirs like the plague and I'd say the makings of a pretty vapid article are set.
Pop Quiz. Ask yourself if this is the sort of person who would homeschool their kids then scroll down to the bio line.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ah, yes. The war continues...

This post is recovered from the depths of time. I think I've re-written and reposted it already, but I'm a completion freak
Okay, so this post kinda blew. I was doing it around some other things coming up at work and didn't really think it through coherently. I've pulled the last paragraph and will make a comment on it seperately.
The NCSE website has a good article talking about the latest problem with teaching the basics in schools in Jesusland: self-censorship just to be able to sneak in the basics without parents exploding.
An Arkansas (now 30% more educated than plankton!) newpaper ran an article about the difficulties of actually teaching the guidelines, and unbelievably (to me given the nature of the Bible Belt down there) got some letters of support surprises me somewhat.
It's worth checking out the links. There's a lot of good information there. People need to realize how it affects everyone.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Battlefront in the War on Science

Sometimes you keep hoping that what happens in the States stays in the States. At least when it comes to the disrespect given the pursuit of knowledge.
Yesterday morning I got a bit narked at the front page of the Citizen. Not so much for the story about some professor studying the sex lives of squirrels (differential reproductive success, anyone? anyone? Bueller?), but for the fact that the guys study had been pilloried the previous day in Parliament as a waste of taxpayer money. I was glad to see that the Citizen actuall explained why it was a good study and had important potential influence on a range of policy issues.
This happened before with zebra mussels and I thought it was stupid of politicians (not known for the deeper knowledge or thoughts on anything) should be judging the possible effects of research.
I am not a scientific person. I do value expertise. I think experts are actually more qualified to judge value of things that take expertise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'll say it with you. Who else is in?

In the wake of the Isaac Hayes quitting South Park and Comedy Central dropping the Scientology episode under pressure from Tom Cruise, The Uncredible Hallq has taken a stand and done a blog-shout that Scientology is a scam.
If we don't keep up pressure on the obviously ridiculous and subject it to both scrutiny and ridicule, then we let it have incredible power over us.
Say it with me...

Hasn't everybody come to this conclusion already

A beautiful editorial at the International Herald Tribune today decries the "intellectual poverty" of the latest Bush administration security pronouncements. (
So the question that I've been asking all along is why does the one nuclear power (North Korea) continue to get a free pass in the international invasion lottery, but countries without (Iraq, Iran) are held to account.
Three years ago when this all started, I said that if the US was actually going to invade, then it followed that Hussein didn't have the fabled WMD, and that Bush knew it. No American president will put troops in the line of fire of such weapons. This is doubly true when it's just in the name self-aggrandisement.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Resuming the Chatter

Resuming the Chatter
Okay, it's been a while and time's a wasting.
our time in canada is drawing to a close. My wife and I are preparing to move to London, UK because we just can't spend enough money over here. But since she broke her wrist at New year's it's been an ongoing battle.
K. has been doing physiotherapy for the Sudek's Atrophy ( she developed while in her cast. And we moved in with my parents for a month to allow us to stay in Canada while I finish working and she does here therapy.
And somewhere in all of this Stephen Harper became Prime Minister in order to drop off the political scene completely. The guy's keeping a lower profile than Sammy Davis Jr at a Klan meeting. The guy shows up in Afghanistan for a couple of minutes (a la Bush) and everyone asks him, "Who are you again?"
What a time.
I've wondered about the political scene in Canada for a while but I don't really follow it much any more. I lost my taste for it in Japan, where keeping track of the political factions is a full time job, with the interest potential of a Rheto-Romansch reading of A la Recherce du Temps Perdu.
Yeah, anyway.
During the campaign, Harper called for a re-opening of the gay marriage debate. Without using the Not-withstanding Clause. He would just open the debate up in Parliament, and if the House passed a law that marriage is hetro-only then the courts would have to respect that. If the law was deemed illegal it would still hold as it was passed as the will of the people.
I seem to recall the words "majority," "of," "the," and "tyrrany" showing up in a phrase that best fits this description of the law.
What I love and hate about constitutions is the same thing. If the people want something it has to fit into a previously agreed framework. With a constitution your rights are a line in the sand decreeing "This far and no farther;" without a constitution, they're a castle in the sand. I hate to keep coming back to the UK, but as they piss away their freedoms by bits and pieces, our constitution is used to protect people from unequal treatment.
What's happening now in the States is a cautionary tale for people who want Harper's logic to hold. It's what happens when you have a constitution but ignore it. And that's wrong.