Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Jim Jordan asks a question:

If a scientist does a research project, publishes his data and then goes home and writes how it shows ID, [Intelligent Design] should he lose his job?

Of course, this depends on a variety of other facts not given in a one-sentence question, so let’s try some scenarios to flesh out the possibilities:

Scenario One

Bob works for EvoScience, Inc. They have a contract which clearly states all research performed is the sole property of EvoScience. No stealing; No moonlighting. While working, Bob discovers what he thinks is the next progression in Intelligent Design. EvoScience refuses to publish it. Bob takes the research home and writes a book showing how this research demonstrates Intelligent Design. Should he lose his job?

Answer: Bob should lose his job. He had a contract, and failed to abide by the terms of the contract. Like it or spike it; the consequence of using that data was a loss of job. Same as a chemist working for Johnson & Johnson stealing a patent.

Scenario Two

Bob still works for EvoScience. His superiors insist he works only on projects based upon evolution. Several times at work, Bob is caught doing research on what he thinks is Intelligent Design. After three reprimands—should he lose his job?

Answer: Why not? As an employer, they can request their employees to follow certain disciplines. If I tell my secretary I want her to type in Word(c) and ONLY Word(c), no matter how much she likes WordPerfect(c), since I am the boss, I get to make the rules. She can type in WordPerfect(c) at home all she likes. If she thinks this demand is unreasonable—she is free to find another job.

(And before you think this is too harsh; remember this goes both ways. If I was hiring a secretary, and an interviewee insisted she would ONLY type in WordPerfect(c), I am free to not hire her. Nothing forces me to go out and buy a program I won’t use to satisfy an employee.)

Scenario Three

Bob. EvoScience. The policy of the company is once the research is published, it becomes public domain. After that the employees can do with it what they like. A few have even published (minor) articles using the same material with no consequence. After one particular research project is published, Bob does exactly that—prints an article using the research. His superiors are completely opposed to the premises within the article; should he lose his job?

Answer: …Wait. Before you answer, let’s try a few modifications:

a) Bob’s article argues for the extermination of the Jewish race as they are a “sub-class” of humans…

b) Bob’s article argues there is Global Warming, and our planet will die in 100 years…

c) Bob’s article argues Jesus was a myth…

d) Bob’s article argues we should not have used the atomic bomb in World War II…

e) Bob’s article argues for gay marriage…

f) Bob’s article argues the government is monitoring us through the fillings in our teeth…

g) Bob’s article argues pro-abortion…

Starts to get a little tricky…or does it? Again, why can’t an employer fire an employee for something they disagree with? On or off the job? Again—this goes both ways. If I hired a young lawyer, paid them a salary, but insisted s/he lie to my wife about the affair I was having—they are free to quit out of principle, even if it had nothing to do with their job of lawyering. Or if I hired them, but made them do my laundry—they can quit.

At what wacky idea must an employer tolerate an employee OR an employee tolerate an employer?

Scenario Four

Bob. EvoScience. Bob’s boss is staunch Catholic. Discovers Bob is Protestant and immediately fires him because he only wants to work with “true Christians.” Should Bob have lost his job?

Answer: O.K. This one is easy. We all know the non-discrimination for religious beliefs.

I see this all the time. People will call and say they were fired for being late to work one time. “They can’t do that, can they? If I was late only once?” Yes—they can. What they cannot do is fire you for your Race, Religion, Creed, Gender, Marital Status, and (in some areas) Sexual Orientation.

What is happening is the Intelligent Designers want their cake and eat it, too. When it comes being taught in schools—they want to insist this has nothing to do with religion. Nope—this is science, science, science. But when it comes to the workplace, “scientific belief” is not a protected class. Now, all of a sudden, the Intelligent Designer wants the same protection as a religion!

While I have enjoyed the furor over “Expelled,” I am starting to see it is really all a big “so what?” Think about what we should say in response to this movie:

Stein: Oh the HORRORS! Some poor teacher was DISCRIMINATED AGAINST for daring to speak on behalf of Intelligent Design.
Me: Yep. The person worked for a science department. Intelligent design is bad science. There is no protection of “free speech” in a science department. It is a job. Therefore they were rightly fired for doing bad science. There is no religious protection—“Intelligent design” claims to not be religious, remember?

There is no protection for discrimination on a non-protected class. None. You can fire someone for being bald, or bad breath, or for bad science.

What is it about “Intelligent Design” that grants it any more protection than a person who believes in Global Warming or to not use vaccines, or that aliens are slowly replacing people with robots?

So back to our original question—why should Intelligent Design be granted religious protection? Careful here—if you agree with me it is creationism, you may gain a religious protection in the workplace, but you will completely lose the battle to teach it in schools. (Plus it will make all those arguments about how intelligent design does not mean a god-belief pretty silly.)

If the employer wants to fire a person for believing in intelligent design—so be it. A big, fat “so what…”


  1. Dagood, I think you've missed Jim's point, which I read as not about contract law, but about scientific integrity.

    Just as in law, there are fundamental professional canons in science, which cannot be waived as a matter of contract. IANAL, so I won't go into the specifics. Regardless, the sort of research that could conceivably support Intelligent Design is almost never performed in private industry, and in academia, the right to publish is a fundamental part of the employment contract.

    The answer to Jim's question from the standpoint of scientific integrity depends on whether or not the data actually does show Intelligent Design.

    Contrary to popular belief, the conclusions that one can draw scientifically from a set of data are to a large degree not a matter of opinion. There are methodological rules that every scientist has to follow to be doing science. There is room for some opinion; scientific data is rarely so clear-cut that only one conclusion can be logically drawn from the data, but there are infinitely many conclusions that cannot be drawn from even the fuzziest, most ambiguous data.

    If the conclusions were support ID and they were compatible with scientific methodology, the scientist will not only keep his job, he'll win the Nobel prize.

    This is a completely hypothetical question, though. No scientist has ever shown that the data supports Intelligent Design in accordance with scientific methodology.

    In fact, to my knowledge, no scientist has ever lost his job just because he advocated, supported or promoted Intelligent Design. Richard Sternberg wasn't fired from the Smithsonian, because he didn't work for the Smithsonian. He works for the NIH, and still does. Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomer, was denied tenure because of the overall inferior quality of his work, which had nothing to do with Intelligent Design. See also Caroline Crocker, Robert Marks, Pamela Winnick and Michael Egnor.

    False in part, false in whole, and the leading Intelligent Design advocates have offered nothing but patent lies and egregious bullshit... and not about anything as refractory as conclusions or opinions, but about easy-to-verify facts. They are playing only to the credulous, gullible and stupid.

  2. I would agree with your facts, The Barefoot Bum, but I disagree with using justification as a tactic. I prefer the heads-on, “If we did discriminate against Intelligent Design—what is wrong with that?”

    The biggest support Intelligent Design has going for it, is the claim it is “forbidden fruit.” As Americans, we are raised in a society which we think is “free.” (I am enjoying your series on “free market” by the way. Just don’t have anything intelligent enough to add.) And anything we perceive as a restriction on that “freedom” we almost instinctively react to. And consider bad.

    You could live in a town that only had a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant. It may have only had a McDonald’s for 20 years. It may be the town can only support one (1) fast-food restaurant, and no one is even remotely interested in having another. But if the town counsel decided to pass an ordinance barring Burger King, the people would be up in arms. They may not even want a Burger King; they don’t even realize why they don’t like this proposal. All they know is they don’t—so they will fight it.

    It is the same thing here. A creationist hears an Intelligent Design person is discriminated against, and the creationist instinctively doesn’t like it. They don’t even know why—all they know is they don’t like it. I am trying to have them think; actually do some deliberate reasoning as to the “why” the creationist thinks it is wrong.

    Look, we can bombard them with facts. We can point out Gonzalez’s unsatisfactory publishing rate, or worse—his dismal ability to obtain grants. (And you know how important THAT is to a public university.) Or that he spent his time publishing a popular apologist book, rather than publishing papers which would support the University.

    We can point out how Sternberg’s term as editor was already over at the time he allowed the article. Or how he failed to follow the policy of having three (3) persons peer-review the article, and was the only one who did so. Or his own bias in having a pro-Intelligent Design article published.

    Doesn’t matter. Like throwing water at a duck. All the creationist knows is their gut feeling this is some “discriminatory” act which is bad. Come on! You have seen how we can quote the very selection which was completely mis-quoted by the creationist, and there is no reaction. None. You have seen how Expelled can completely lie, and the creationist walks out thinking, “Wow, what a fair presentation of both sides.” A Lie CANNOT adequately present both sides. EVER. Yet that is exactly what they believe!

    They won’t look it up. They won’t interact. They won’t study. They won’t try to understand. Therefore, the tactic of fact vs. allegation will always, always fail. (The only exception is the rare lurker who is genuinely trying to wrestle with the problem. It is for him/her that we must continue to show the lies, misrepresentations and what the facts say.)

    All I can do is hope by asking the question, they actually ponder the “why” of what they are talking about. (Not to mention, pointing out to the lurker their inability to address the “why.”)

    As near as I can tell, there are three (3) reasons Americans in general, and creationists in particular have culturally developed an aversion to discriminating against Intelligent Designers. Three reasons, the initial gut-reaction is that, “This is wrong.” And three reasons why gut-reactions are not necessarily thought out reactions.

    Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Open exchange of Ideas.

    Freedom of Speech.

    The allusion is made that somehow the person’s “Freedom of Speech” (a constitutional right!) is being limited. They want to speak; they are not allowed—doesn’t that have the “feel” of a restriction of Freedom of Speech? Doesn’t one’s (American) gut say, “Hey—they should be allowed to speak!”

    Ironically, both Sternburg’s situation and Gonzalez involve situations in which they DID speak. And the movie, giving their side of the story, is another demonstration of how they are quite free to speak… but I digress.

    However, this is a misunderstanding of a Constitutional right. I can stand on the corner and tell the world how my government is bad, my president is evil, and my vice-president should be impeached. What “freedom of speech” means is that my own government cannot unreasonably restrict my ability to say such things. (I am being overly simplistic, of course.) It says NOTHING about private citizens. If I stand on the same corner and tell the world my boss is a jerk, and my company is bad, and not to buy our products—my boss is quite, quite free to fire me for doing so.

    No employee—even professors, (outside of a contract) gain a “freedom of speech” to say what they want, and be shocked when their employer disagrees.

    So my first question to the creationist is this: are they claiming it is a restriction of Freedom of Speech? I would like to see how they support it.

    Freedom of Religion

    It’s almost humorous. While Intelligent Design bends over backward to distance itself from the word “god”—when it is convenient to do so, they certainly imply that Intelligent Design has a religious aspect.

    If the creationist says this discrimination was a violation of the Freedom of Religion, I wonder how they can argue ID should be taught in schools with a straight face.

    Open Exchange of Ideas

    You touch on this in your comment. We Americans feel as if all ideas should be brought to the table. That everyone should have their say.

    Or do we really? More like, we think everyone who agrees with us should have their say! If this is the reason the creationist complains about these actions, I am curious as to how they draw the line—where can an employer step in and act? How “open” must we be?

    If the university has a professor who dares to teach the silly idea the earth rotates around the sun—must they allow a professor who believes in the idea of geocentricism? Or if the university has a professor who teaches humans are biologic creatures—must they allow a professor who believes humans are being replaced by robots by aliens? Must they allow professors who wear tinfoil hats to block the gamma rays the U.S. government is pouring down on us from satellites, since other professors do not hold to that?

    At what point can the university say, “No—we need not allow such quack theories, even in the ‘open exchange of ideas.’”

    You and will say it over and over. (They won’t listen.) If Intelligent Design wants to be taken seriously by the science community, they must bring something to the table. Data, research, experiments, proofs. Those silly things which convince other scientists.

    Heck, I am begging for the answer to the most basic question: What test can be used to determine the difference between a designed and non-designed object? You’d think they could at least answer THAT question before proclaiming something is designed or not.

  3. I understand your position, Dagood. I'll have more to say later.

  4. Hi Dagoods,
    Let me guess where you have seen this response before? Oh, yes, here when I defended the conservative academy's right to get rid of the guy who made that ridiculous Discovery documentary on Jesus.

    And in many cases that is a legitimate defense. However, that academy is conservative because conservatives donate to it. In the event the university is funded by the public, what then? Granted, the university has an obligation to do scientific research, but to what extent can they control an honest interpretation?

    Regarding Gonzalez's record, Pharyngula didn't even make the argument that he was fired because of inferior work. His co-workers didn't want to be identified with Intelligent Design. Is that really because his research was shabby or because they are invested in the theory of Evolution? To what extent does funding influence this debate?

    Dagoods wrote---If Intelligent Design wants to be taken seriously by the science community, they must bring something to the table. Data, research, experiments, proofs. Those silly things which convince other scientists.

    Here's the rub. It can't be tested that there is an intelligent design nor can it be tested that there isn't one. It's a matter of interpretation.

  5. Jim: Please get your facts straight. Gonzalez wasn't fired; he was denied tenure. No one has a right to tenure. PZ Myers explains how the tenure system works in a post you cite. I suggest you read it carefully.

    PZ Myers is not associated with Iowa State University. If you want to discuss the actual reasons and arguments why Gonzalez was denied tenure, I suggest you go to the primary source.

    It can't be tested that there is an intelligent design nor can it be tested that there isn't one.

    Michael Behe does not agree with you. William Dembski does not agree with you. Ben Stein does not agree with you. The old Dover school board does not agree with you. The leaders of the Intelligent Design movement, who are explicitly promoting Intelligent Design as an alternative scientific theory, do not agree with you.

    And Guillermo Gonzalez does not agree with you, or at least he didn't at first. He submitted his book, The Privileged Planet, to be considered in deciding tenure, thus making the scientific status of Intelligent Design a factor in the decision.

    It is definitely true that Gonzalez' association with ID influenced the tenure process. It's important to note that the faculty and administration at Iowa State is not at all interested in Jim Jordan's philosophical interpretation of Intelligent Design, any more than they're interested in Larry Hamelin's or Dagood's or the opinion of any other blogger with a triple-digit readership.

    Academics are concerned with ID not because it is a religious or philosophical position, but because it has been positively and actively presented as a scientific theory, which it is not. It is pseudoscience. And academic scientists have a legitimate interest in excluding pseudoscience from a scientific faculty.

    Furthermore, I suggest that you yourself do not agree with this statement. Otherwise, why would you ask the question that Dagood and I are spending considerable time answering?

    If a scientist does a research project, publishes his data and then goes home and writes how it shows ID, [Intelligent Design] should he lose his job?

    If the data "shows" ID, then it is ipso facto testable.

    Pick a foot, Jim.

  6. If we did discriminate against Intelligent Design—what is wrong with that?

    Here's where I disagree with your post and your tactic. I think this is a legitimate question only if it's clear that there are circumstances where it would indeed be wrong to discriminate against ID. One is hoping that the intelligent, sophisticated reader would think, "OK, it would be wrong to discriminate against ID if and only if thus-and-such were true, but thus-and-such is not true of ID, therefore the discrimination isn't wrong."

    The problem is that if that's the tactic, it's going to fail even more spectacularly than just saying, "the discrimination of ID is justified because of..." for precisely the same reason: They won’t look it up. "They won’t interact. They won’t study. They won’t try to understand." And they won't think.

    They're going to take the question and think, "Discrimination against ID would be wrong if and only if thus-and-such were true. Discrimination against ID is wrong. Therefore thus-and-such is true of ID."

    Secondly, I don't think you yourself really get it about scientific ethics.

    Consider your first scenario:

    Bob works for EvoScience, Inc. They have a contract which clearly states all research performed is the sole property of EvoScience. No stealing; No moonlighting. While working, Bob discovers what he thinks is the next progression in Intelligent Design. EvoScience refuses to publish it. Bob takes the research home and writes a book showing how this research demonstrates Intelligent Design. Should he lose his job?

    Answer: Bob should lose his job.

    In this case Bob is not a scientist. He may look like a scientist, he may do a lot of work that resembles what scientists do, but he is no more a scientist than someone contractually obligated to suborn perjury or fail to present the best case for his client is actually a lawyer, whether or not he went to law school, passed the bar, puts JD after his name, or does any task that resembles what actual lawyers do.

    The situation is similar for other scenarios. Bob is not a scientist in other scenarios.

    One of the reasons that science has social authority and respect is because it explicitly rejects arbitrary discrimination, and discrimination on outcome and explicitly endorses discrimination only on methodology. It has explicitly carved out an ethical niche which does not follow ordinary ethics of free association and employment at will.

    That's why a lot of science is conducted in academia rather than private industry, that's why academia specifically employs tenure as a structure, and why academic science is more trustworthy than industry science.

    And that's why Jim Jordan's question is pertinent, and why it deserves to be answered straightforwardly.

    Dagood, you and I are not going to convert the Jim Jordans of the world. Period. The only person who can convert Jim is Jim himself.

    The best you and I can do is speak the truth and challenge the bullshit and lies as directly, clearly and plainly as we can manage, and trust that people such as yourself, ready to think themselves out of authoritarian dogma and irrational superstition will find and accept our proffered hands.

  7. Let me give you an example a little closer to home.

    Suppose Albert brutally murdered two people, his ex-wife, perhaps, and her boyfriend. And suppose further that Bob has good reason to believe that Albert murdered these two people. And suppose further that Bob does everything in his power — including withholding incriminating evidence — to see that Albert escapes punishment for his murders. Should Bob be fired or otherwise condemned for his actions?

    Of course not: Bob is Albert's defense lawyer. It is the affirmative duty of the ordinary citizen to see to it that justice is done. If Charlie, an ordinary citizen, were able to present evidence that Albert were guilty, he would have at least a moral obligation to do so. But Bob does not; in fact he has the opposite moral and legal duty: he must withhold incriminating evidence; if he presents it, he should be fired.

    Of course, Bob's is not unconditionally obligated or permitted to do anything to acquit his client. With my Law & Order JD, I know that he can't lie or suborn perjury. He can't tamper with evidence. He can't bribe or threaten the jurors.

    It is entirely routine that we create professions with special ethical rules, rules that do not apply to the general population. We privilege those special rules because we want people to perform particular tasks that cannot be performed under general ethical rules.

    Law is one of those professions. So is medicine. And so is science.

  8. Barefoot, you seem to have some confusion.
    If the data "shows" ID, then it is ipso facto testable.

    How does the data show that there is no ID? How is that testable?

    You say look at these proteins automatically react this way or that, they don't need God, therefore there is no God. But how does one test how much a chemical reaction needs God?

    While the idea "it didn't need God to respond to testing" is logically consistent with there being no God, the reverse is also true, that it shows that God is at the heart of existence because the massive transfer of information in cells resembles a computer program. It is logically consistent with their being a God not only because this computer program works so well but because it exists at all.

    Thus don't expect me to "convert" to any no-God hypothesis until you prove that something can come from nothing.

    Btw, denying tenure is tantamount to firing.

  9. Jim, bubbe, please stop with the "this computer animation of cellular mitosis looks like a computer program" crap. It tends to make the person saying it look ignorant. Biologists understand how this works and have a pretty good idea of how it evolved. It also shows the inherent weakness in appeals to Common Sense. The problem is that what seems like Common Sense to Jim Jordan seems like poppycock to someone with a doctorate in molecular biology. Again, this goes back to the PoMo Mofo discussion. What I see and what you see may or may not reflect what's actually there. Our sense data is limited by the inherent limits of those senses.

    You say look at these proteins automatically react this way or that, they don't need God, therefore there is no God. But how does one test how much a chemical reaction needs God?

    Two problems here. First, you draw a conclusion that isn't there. Just because something does not require the direct interference of God does not somehow lead to the conclusion that God doesn't exist. I don't think anyone has ever argued that the fact that hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide combine to form water and salt somehow proves that there is no God.

    It's not a denial of God; it's a recognition that this isn't a theological question.

    The second part, "how does one test how much a chemical reaction needs God", well, you tell us. Either "ID" is science or it is not. If it is science, then it has some well-defined hurdles to clear. If not, then treat it like the philosophical proposition it is. Science does not care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Btw, denying tenure is tantamount to firing.

    That laughing you hear is coming from everyone who has ever worked in a university.

  10. Jim Jordan,

    I had no clue we had to consider PZ Myers as the exhaustive resource on Gonzalez’s qualifications. Out of curiosity, have you even looked at ExpelledExposed’s link on Gonzalez? The Barefoot Bum linked to it in his comment. And by the way, Myers DOES talk about Gonzalez’s inability to obtain grants here. I know you wouldn’t want to give the impression to our readers that the link you provided was the only place skeptics discussed Gonzalez.

    Jim Jordan: Here's the rub. It can't be tested that there is an intelligent design nor can it be tested that there isn't one. It's a matter of interpretation.

    Exactly! Which is why Intelligent Design has no business being in a field which, at its heart, requires testing. Intelligent Design makes a perfect fit for the philosophy department; not the science department.

    I’m a little surprised you make the differentiation between public funding vs. private funding. It seems you are saying since the Christian School, and Hooters are privately paid, there is one standard, but anything utilizing public fund has a different standard. Is that correct?

    But don’t we still need to draw the line? Do you want your taxes funding a professor at the University of Florida to study Astrology? Don’t forget, Behe testified in order for Intelligent Design to qualify as “science” the current definition of “science” would need to be changed. And he admitted the new definition of science that would encompass Intelligent Design would also include Astrology as a science.

    Do you want your public funds to go to the study of what type of day Leo’s will have next Tuesday?

  11. The Barefoot Bum,

    I have a friend who works for a chemical company. His patents are the property of the company. (And he would be quite surprised to discover he is not a scientist, I think!) I have another friend who works in the patent department of a law firm closely associated with a Michigan university. They obtain the patents, for which the university (and the developer) have a percentage.

    And I have been involved in litigation regarding property rights afforded by contract in intellectual property and ex-employees.

    What I am NOT familiar with are the ins-and-outs of scientific study within academia. So I would have to defer to your description, not knowing any differently.

    I also admit when I hear the word “should” my mind automatically reverts to either civil or criminal law. As in “should” means to follow a prescribed set of rules, imposed by either statute or case law. You are right, different professions and different social groups define “should” within their own context that may not follow with what I think of as “should.”

    As always, you have given me much to think about. I still like the idea of smoking out the tacit “freedom of religion” lurking within the claim of discrimination—but it may be hard facts is the only way to keep hammering the point home.

  12. Guillermo Gonzalez on his book, The Privileged Planet---Richards and I build our case for design from scientific evidence, not by appeals to the Bible or some private mystical experience. Our argument is also testable. Our particular design argument is falsifiable, vulnerable to the river of data about extrasolar planets, galaxies, and the larger universe flowing in from NASA missions over the next two decades.

    What I find interesting is that the most vocal opponents of our argument have been atheists. Obviously, it violates some cherished belief these people hold.

    So I may be wrong about it being untestable after all. If one uses an ID argument to predict what we will find and if we don't something is wrong with the theory. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? Except of course, with the presumption that there is no design.

    Gonzalez's grant money thinned out after he came out in favor of ID. The Establishment refuses to fund research that might test and prove ID. It's a rather circular argument. And if Gonzalez is on to something, what does it matter if his colleagues have rejected Intelligent Design?

    I think the tide is already turning where scientists will have more freedom to question the status quo in science and try out new theories.

  13. Dagood: There are scientists and then there are scientists. With all due respect to your chemical company friend's professionalism, if he told me that there was scientific evidence that some product they sold was safe, I would not afford him the same trust that I would afford an academic or government scientist.

    So in the sense that we're talking about here, no, your friend is not a scientist, subject to the special ethical privileges and constraints of academic science. (Of course, in the informal social sense, he's a perfectly good scientist.)

    Jim: First of all, the denial of tenure is not tantamount to firing. You simply have no clue what your talking about. Tenure is more analogous to being appointed to a life term as a federal judge. Once you have tenure, you cannot be arbitrarily fired.

    "Intelligent Design" by itself doesn't mean anything. One can create falsifiable (i.e. testable) and unfalsifiable definitions of ID.

    Unfalsifiable definitions are scientifically meaningless. So long as a scientist (such as Ken Miller) explicitly holds his unfalsifiable notions outside of science, and doesn't try to teach them as science, no one in the scientific community really gives a shit.

    Let me repeat Flycandler's exhortation: You really don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about; you're spouting utter nonsense. Your other faults may be legion, but you're not a stupid man; it's grating to hear you talking like one.

    Logical consistency doesn't mean jack shit. Throw in enough premises and you can make Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography logically consistent with Mein Kampf, Gone With The Wind, and The Fungus Gnats of North America... all at the same time.

    No one is demanding you give up any of your unfalsifiable, unscientific religious beliefs, no matter how bizarre and ridiculous we believe them to be. No one is demanding that Guillermo Gonzalez, Ken Miller, Michael Behe, William Dembski or anyone else give up their religious beliefs.

    But we have a big problem when people attempt to insert unscientific religious beliefs into science academia, science education, and the scientific discourse in general.

    Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church.

  14. Again, Jim, I have to ask you to pick a leg.

    Do you want the freedom to believe in Intelligent Design? If so, it's granted. You can believe anything you like, and I'll uphold not only your freedom to believe it, but your freedom to talk about it on your own time, without fear of not only criminal penalties but also without civil sanction.

    If, however, you want Intelligent Design treated and taught as a scientific theory, we have an issue. What is treated and taught as science is no longer a matter of civil freedom, it's a matter of scientific methodology, of scientific truth.

    It's an important component of scientific ethics that if you or anyone else can use scientific methodology to prove any conclusion, scientists and anyone else — such as myself — who values scientific ethics and epistemology should not only not censure you, we should praise you and, more importantly, we must believe you or stand exposed as rank hypocrites.

    Furthermore they should do so regardless of our moral beliefs about the conclusion itself.

  15. Logical consistency doesn't mean jack shit.

    This sentence would be more precisely phrased as, "Logical consistency by itself doesn't mean jack shit." I don't mean to endorse logical inconsistency, of course; it's that logical consistency is too broad to draw any conclusions about the truth of a proposition from just that it is part of some logically consistent structure.

  16. Barefoot,
    You do not get it as you do not want to.

    But we have a big problem when people attempt to insert unscientific religious beliefs into science academia, science education, and the scientific discourse in general.

    The Darwinists have been doing it for generations, until this generation. Science is entering a new era and all your efforts to stay in 1859 won't mean, how do you put it, jackshit. Regards.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. The Darwinists have been doing it for generations, until this generation.

    That's bullshit, Jim, and reveals nothing but your own willful ignorance. Evolution contains thousands of falsifiable scientific theories... which you would understand if you actually took the time to investigate the science, instead of relying on sources proven time and again to be lying.

    Science is entering a new era...

    I'm still confused, Jim. Is Intelligent Design a science, or is it religion? When you talk about it, it seems to be whatever is most convenient at the moment, with no regard for consistency, logic, common sense or any ordinary notion of truth.

    ... and all your efforts to stay in 1859 won't mean, how do you put it, jackshit.

    Again, the notion that the biological sciences that employ evolution are somehow stuck in 1859 is completely ludicrous, and your assertion is evidence of nothing more than your own willful ignorance.

  19. Regards.

    That means a lot to me, coming as it does from a lying hypocrite.

    (Dagood, I won't feel at all bad if you delete this comment. I just had to get it off my chest; the guy just burns my shorts.)

  20. Stuck in 1859? Philosophically, yes.

    ID is a philosophy of science in my opinion, although more scientists are claiming to have falsifiable arguments for ID. That there is no designer is no more scientific than ID. I see them both as Philosophies of Science.

    I also don't see the reason for the animosity from Evolution's defenders. We should go wherever the evidence takes us.

  21. ID is a philosophy of science in my opinion

    Is it now? I know a thing or two about philosophy; perhaps you might explain the ID philosophy of science.

    [S]cientists are claiming to have falsifiable arguments for ID.

    As Dagood well knows, anyone can claim anything. What these so-called scientists can prove is a horse of a different color.

    I also don't see the reason for the animosity from Evolution's defenders.

    The animosity comes from the sheer volume of egregious bullshit, willful ignorance and outright lies — from such as Ben Stein, AiG, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Harun Yahya. etc. ad nauseam — that we have to deal with.

    We should go wherever the evidence takes us.

    Indeed: that's pretty much the standard philosophy of science, against which a philosophical version of Intelligent Design would have to differentiate itself.

    The problem is that the evidence doesn't lead us to Intelligent Design, at least not unless we define "intelligence" and "design" to mean something completely different from human intelligence and human design, and completely indistinguishable from the interaction of chance and non-teleological universal laws of physics.

  22. Jim Jordan: I also don't see the reason for the animosity from Evolution's defenders.

    It is frustration borne out of deliberate embrace of willful refusal to inform oneself. Past experience has demonstrated Mr. Jordan has a complete lack of empathy for any argument which does not exactly conform to his limited view of the world; therefore I do not expect him to understand the comparison. Perhaps a lurker would like to know.

    Imagine I wanted to discuss Christianity. Only I use the derogative term “Xian” because…well…because I simply want to be derogatory, I guess. And within the discussion, it soon becomes apparent while I know the terms “Roman Catholic” and “Protestant” I have no clue as to the depth of history between the two, nor the differences which each embraces. It becomes clear I have not read Luther or Calvin, or Eusebius, or any book whatsoever on systematic theology. I don’t know what a Christian…oh, excuse “Xian” means by inerrancy, infallibility, inspiration, canon, free will, sovereign, incarnation, atonement, substitution, faith, grace, or a plethora of other words.

    I’ve never read the Bible. I have no intention of reading it in Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic or Coptic, either. In fact, it becomes obvious that the ONLY source of my understanding of Christianity comes from reading The God Delusion--written by an atheist.

    Yet I continue to insist on discussing the topic as if I have a remote clue as to what I am talking about. Not only have a clue, but as if I am an authority on it! And every time anyone dares to question my depth of understanding of Christianity…er…”Xianity” I simply engage my standard tactic:

    1. Google-whack the topic,
    2. Make sure I ONLY use non-Christian sources on the topic,
    3. Ignore completely anything any Christian says on the topic,
    4. Repeat what the non-Christian sources say about Christianity.

    Every time a new topic comes up, I repeat the exercise.

    After a bit or this useless discussion, perhaps…just perhaps…one could understand why people who hold to evolution appear to have some animosity. We bend only so far. I have asked and asked and asked Christian after Christian after Christian what books on evolution they have read, written by scientists, against creationism. Do you know, in three years of asking, I have only met one (1) Christian who has done so? One.

    Here it is, a prevailing view of scientists (and by “prevailing” I mean 95% of ALL scientists and 99.9% of scientists in biology) and these people want to claim to have knowledge on the subject without ever having read a book on the topic? Oh, that’s right—they read something on the internet…

    Give me a break.

  23. Dagood: It is frustration borne out of deliberate embrace of willful refusal to inform oneself.

    That's a magnificent comment. With your permission, I'd like to repost it on my blog.

  24. Of course you can use it.

    And no…I would not have deleted your comment. What you could not possibly understand is that, for many deconverts, the non-believing arguments are about 55% of the process. The failure of the Jim Jordans to adequately respond is the other 45%.

  25. Dagoods, and you have empaty for my argument? Change the "Jim Jordan" to "Dagoods" in your first paragraph and I could post it on my blog in response to you.

    As for Barefoot's placement of Ben Stein with Kent Hovind and AiG et al, that reveals a willful disregard of the other person's arguments.

    What you could not possibly understand is that, for many deconverts, the non-believing arguments are about 55% of the process. The failure of the Jim Jordans to adequately respond is the other 45%.

    Again, converts could say much the same about the deconverts. There is one flaw here though. I found the liberal arguments for invading Iraq 6 years ago to not adequately respond to the realities by the same percentage rate. The 55% arguments the right had sounded convincing. In the end, the liberals were right even though their arguments didn't convince me at the time. So I wouldn't say that your analogy is very good. I could hardly expect to put a dent in your worldview, although I may try.

    I think we can all agree to let the facts lead us. I like Richard Feynman's description of the scientific method. I have it under required reading on my blog.

  26. As for Barefoot's placement of Ben Stein with Kent Hovind and AiG et al, that reveals a willful disregard of the other person's arguments.

    <rolls eyes>

  27. Dagood: I'd like to tweak the comment just a little to make it stand alone.

    Can you email me with your email address so you can look over my suggestions before I post it?

  28. Jim Jordan,

    By the term “empathy” I most certainly do NOT mean “agreement.” I mean the ability to understand the claim the other is making, interact on an equal level with that claim and maybe, even maybe, appreciate why the arguments and evidence convince them of claims different than your own.

    Not only do you fail to understand the claim the other has made, past history has indicated you don’t even bother to read the argument the other person is making. Yet you do not hesitate to mock it.

    How can you understand the claim if you don’t read it?

    Further, you have made it quite clear you have no intention of interacting with others on equal terms regarding their claims. You only desire to talk to “authentic Christians” and not “atheist blockheads.”

    (I would also note a tendency to “Argue by Dismissive Indignation” with terms such as “Regarding Mormonism. It is a cult and deserving of being dismissed based on verifiable evidence alone. “ or “Who do you think the Creator of the universe sent? A sommelier? A busboy? C’mon, folks.”)

    Or perhaps you would like a contemporary example--a blog entry in which you wrote:

    Jim Jordan: 2) Follow the money. Barefoot Bum made the argument that ID proponent Guillermo Gonzalez received less grants after joining Iowa State's faculty and his peers refuted his work. Now, this is circular. Everyone needs grant money and a graph at Expelled Exposed supposedly shows how GG's grants dried up. Ironically, they have an icon of his book, The Privileged Planet, and an arrow pointing down at the fall-off in grant money. Hmmm, he publishes an ID book and then his grant money shrinks. His colleagues don't want ISU to be known as an "ID school", so they oppose him getting tenure. If they do, they fear their....grant money will dry up.

    However, if one actually bothered to read the article and review the graph at ExpelledExposed, one would see, the graph has nothing to do with grant money!

    That’s right—the graph has to do with publishing articles. Not grant money. The fall-off recorded on this graph was due to Gonzalez’s lack of personal production.

    You can write whatever you want about me on your blog, Jim Jordan. *shrug* But at least if I have mis-stated someone’s position, I will ask for clarification or apologize. I may not always succeed but I do try to be empathetic toward their argument.

  29. The biggest reason that universities grant tenure is to allow scientists to pursue controversial research without fear of reprisal.

    The biggest reason that universities are very conservative about granting tenure is precisely the same: Once you have tenure, you can research anything, no matter how stupid, wasteful or pointless your research actually is.

    Tenured professors cost money, and universities are notoriously conservative about handing out a blank check.

    The structure of academic privilege is well-defined:

    First, prove that you can learn what the professors are teaching, and earn your Ph.D. Second, prove that you can do original research acceptable to your peers, and earn tenure. Once you have tenure, you can research anything you please (and for which you can obtain funding).

    There are three paths to earn tenure: Do solid work on an uncontroversial topic. Do solid work on a controversial topic under the direction of a popular tenured academic. Third, work on a controversial topic and nail it.

    There's nothing particularly special about Intelligent Design other than it being a controversial topic.

    It's notable that Gonzalez chose the "fourth" path: He chose a controversial topic, he worked on it more-or-less on his own, and not only did he fail to nail it, he botched the job. If he'd nailed it, he'd have tenure, and a Nobel prize. He rolled the dice, it came up snake eyes, too bad, so sad.

  30. "Philosophy of science". Points for trying?

    I'll say it again: by so narrowly trying to redefine the religious doctrine (and it is a doctrine) of creation in such a way that will pass a secular court's muster for science, the "ID" advocates have effectively created a new god that bears little or no resemblance to the one described in the Tanakh or Christian Bible. "ID" is bad science, and it's bad religion to boot.

    And I agree. The Jims of the world helped me lose my faith in an earlier time, and it was the empathetic believers (like my Unitarian friend, my pastor and her friend, the Rabbi) who helped me rediscover it.

    Dagoods, I read Rocks of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould in college. Does that count?

  31. Flycandler,

    I should have qualified my statement by saying “Christians who argue against evolution.” Sorry about that.

  32. I think Barefoot has it right that Gonzalez rolled the dice and got burned, at least initially. He used a grant to write his book that could have been parlayed into more future grants. As far as not nailing his subject matter, I don't think it would matter today if he nailed it or not. His peers and the establishment are not empathetic to his view. But now he's a famous author so I think he's happy with his decision. More will follow.

    Dagoods, the question is not whether I have empathy for your position, I understand it fully and why you have it. The question is that you have your position but prefer to comdemn others who don't share it (not empathetic btw). Ultimately, the question is moot as the facts will drive the arguments in the future. Ben Stein's core argument was for academic freedom btw.

    David, evolution theories that make theological claims are bad science and religion, also. That is my point. They can't have it both ways. That's all folks. Regards.

  33. As far as not nailing his subject matter, I don't think it would matter today if he nailed it or not.

    Of course it matters. It always matters. Why shouldn't it matter? Simply because Jim Jordan, famous journalist and an unbiased, neutral observer without a particular point of view to defend, has become convinced that scientific academia is infested with unreasoning hatred of a sound scientific idea?

    I think not.

    They can't have it both ways.

    The only one trying to have it both ways are the ID folks.

  34. Special and General Relativity
    Plate tectonics
    Wave theory of light
    Cold fusion
    Quantum mechanics
    Extraterrestrial meteorites
    Cosmic radio background waves
    Black holes

    and, of course,

    All of the above were controversial theories whose proponents, all legitimate scientists, faced substantial skepticism and outright prejudice from the mainstream scientific community.

    Some of these ideas were adopted into mainstream science; some were not. The successful ideas were adopted precisely because the data supported the theories; the unsuccessful ideas were rejected precisely because the data did not support the theories.

    The data does matter. Always. It may take some time — as well as considerable skill, diligence and perseverance on the part of its advocates — for an idea to catch hold in the scientific community. But the scientific community has an excellent track record for the adoption of new ideas and new paradigms.

  35. The data does matter. Exactly! Everything will work its way out. The data will always shape us in the long run no matter how much we try to shape the data. But to be fair, we do try to shape the data. The data comes first, the paradigm shift comes later.

  36. Jim, you're hoping for a breakthrough that just ain't coming, and certainly not in a way that you hope.

    If (and I can't think of any way this would happen, but what the hell) somehow "data" pointed toward an "Intelligent Designer", and it turned out that "Intelligent Designer" was Allah (as viewed by the Muslims), Brahma, Gaea, or Evil Lord Xenu, would you still rabidly support "ID" and discard Christianity? Why or why not?

    Should a seminary, especially one set up and funded by a church in order to train ministers, be forced to grant tenure (again, permanent employment, no matter what the s/he says or does) to someone who thinks that L. Ron Hubbard is the way and the truth and the life? Is it an impingement on freedom of speech? Should Ben Stein run to his/her aid?

  37. Fly wrote--certainly not in a way that you hope.

    I'm happy with whatever direction science goes in.

    Ben Stein was alarmed by the fact that professionals were saying "You can't say X". He wanted to shine a light on that and he did. I think some of his arguments were over-reaching as you might have read in my review of the movie.

    Ultimately it dpends on the organization what it wants to do. Iowa State did what Iowa State decided to do. If anything, Gonzalez came out the winner. I think we're beating our heads against the wall at this point. Ciao.

  38. I'm happy with whatever direction science goes in.

    Fascinating. So based on "science" (now a weird monolith), you would gladly quit your church and join the Scientologists?


    As far as Stein, his concern is and always has been furthering the conservative political agenda. He's an apologist for Richard Nixon's behavior during Watergate, for pete's sake!

    It's not a fair look at academia. If a geography professor demanded tenure (again, lifetime employment no matter what s/he says or does) based on his/her work on how the Earth is flat, yes I would want "professionals" saying "no, you can't say that while speaking on our behalf."

    Gonzalez comes out looking like a hero in Stein's movie because Stein wants to make him look like a hero. Outside of the (small) target audience for this movie, nobody's heard of him. No one has been clamoring to give him tenure, either. He now teaches astronomy in a small Christian school that was funded by the same racist that started The Layman.

  39. If a geography professor demanded tenure (again, lifetime employment no matter what s/he says or does) based on his/her work on how the Earth is flat, yes I would want "professionals" saying "no, you can't say that while speaking on our behalf."

    Strictly speaking, professionals should refuse endorse such an idea only because it was not consistent with the evidence (or not evidentially provable), not because it contradicted our existing ideas about the shape of the Earth.

  40. Fair enough. I was just trying to think of a visceral example. I'm just amused that Stein is making a hero out of someone who was denied tenure (again, a lifetime gig) in a science faculty when the only qualification he offered was his writing supporting an inherently unscientific idea.

    Then again, he does defend RICHARD NIXON'S WATERGATE ACTIVITIES. (can't say it enough)


    Oh, and while he's technically not a Nazi, but had he the opportunity, he would have been an wholehearted supporter.

  42. Yeah, I wasn't going to go there. I think that watching a movie that pretends to be about professional ethics by and starring someone whose contribution to the field is to say that Nixon was perfectly justified in doing everything he did (except resign) is not going to be particularly edifying.