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  Topic: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed., Sternberg, Gonzalez, Crocker - A film< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4901
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: April 05 2008,07:08   

Quote (kevinmillerxi @ April 05 2008,01:35)
Wesley: You could probably have saved yourself a lot of time (and a lot of words) by simply saying, "I'm going with the majority." But you of all people should know that consensus science is like patriotrism--the last refuge of a scoundrel.

By your logic, it was right for Galileo to be persecuted for his views, because the overwhelming majority of astronomers were certain that geocentrism was right and heliocentrism was wrong. The evidence was just so overwhelmingly obvious.  The same goes for virtually any other scientist that revolutionized his discipline.

On a related note, on my blog, Kristene said, "Try this on for size: It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet someone who claims not to believe in heliocentrism, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that.)"

I think she believes this refutes my point. But she's merely proven it instead. Prior to Copernicus, no one would have agreed with her statement, even though they were studying the same body of evidence that led Copernicus to conclude that the earth orbited the sun and not the other way around. Heliocentrism was just so obviously wrong. Wrong, because even though people were examining the same data as you, they brought a completely different worldview to their study and completely different methods, which led them to completely different conclusions.

So, as I said earlier, just because something seems obviously true to you does not mean that it is. Who knows when new information will shed new light on our observations? Isn't that what science is about? Looking for new information so we can understand the world better? Or is it merely about confirmning our pre-existing dispositions?


Kevin appears to be delusional. By his logic, science either must accept every hare-brained counterfactual notion that anyone posits, or it is equivalent to the Inquisition. News flash: this not only is not true now, it wasn't true when Galileo advocated heliocentrism. It wasn't his empirical-minded colleagues that Galileo ran into trouble with, because Galileo backed up his arguments by reference to the evidence. It was, in fact, the Inquisition that caused trouble for Galileo, and they had no use for science, consensus or otherwise. The only scoundrel here is Kevin for implying that I'm casting myself as part of the Inquisition. Nothing I've written even implies that science can't get behind a new idea that comes with evidence and tests of relevant hypotheses.

Let's go through this step by step.

 
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Wesley: You could probably have saved yourself a lot of time (and a lot of words) by simply saying, "I'm going with the majority."


This wasn't about what *I* thought. The exchange was about what *Kevin* thought. Kevin claimed that I misunderstood him. I asked questions to figure out in what way I might have misunderstood him. Kevin chooses to skip over clearing up misunderstanding and goes directly to bait and switch, trying to make this about me instead. I'm not buying it, Kevin.

 
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But you of all people should know that consensus science is like patriotrism--the last refuge of a scoundrel.


That statement alludes to facts not in evidence. The scoundrels I'm familiar with in the developing story of the forthcoming propaganda film are the producers, and it appears, the writer. The evidence speaks clearly that false claims are made in the movie and that false claims are made in promotion of the movie. It's not just one "interpretation" that John Lynch was told that the Tempe, AZ screening had been cancelled when the promoter knew full well that the screening would proceed.

I'm not talking, as Kevin has to be, about "consensus" imposed artificially from the top down. We scientists know what that looks like. It looks like the Inquisition that harassed Galileo. It looks like Lysenko's discarding of genetics and the evolutionary biology of the west in favor of a Stalinist form of Lamarckism. (Scientists died for standing up to Lysenko, by the way.) It looks like a socio-political movement that will do anything and call its arguments by any label to force them into public school classrooms without having passed muster via the scientific process.

What I was pointing out is that a scientific consensus is different, it proceeds from the evidence through hypotheses that are tested, and a community that criticizes the arguments until what convinces that community is the consilience of evidence and theory, not the personal authority of either any one individual or even the collective authority of the community. The process doesn't always proceed smoothly, as Kuhn noted in discussing paradigm shifts. But what happens even then is driven by the various and sundry individuals of the scientific community, each of whom by Kevin's earlier (and apparently abandoned) argument having their own separate worldview and thus without any expectation under Kevin's argument that they could possibly agree upon some one view, and yet that is exactly what the history of science shows us has happened time and again.

 
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By your logic, it was right for Galileo to be persecuted for his views, because the overwhelming majority of astronomers were certain that geocentrism was right and heliocentrism was wrong. The evidence was just so overwhelmingly obvious.  The same goes for virtually any other scientist that revolutionized his discipline.


No, Kevin, that's your logic and your sublime ignorance of history, not mine. The fact is that it wasn't any "overwhelming majority of astronomers" who put Galileo under house arrest; it was the Inquisition. Nor is there any evidence cited that Galileo's secular astronomical colleagues had any particular fondness for geocentrism. In other words, the folks without a predisposition to a particular religious doctrinal view were open to the evidence and arguments Galileo produced for heliocentrism.

 
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On a related note, on my blog, Kristene said, "Try this on for size: It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet someone who claims not to believe in heliocentrism, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that.)"

I think she believes this refutes my point. But she's merely proven it instead. Prior to Copernicus, no one would have agreed with her statement, even though they were studying the same body of evidence that led Copernicus to conclude that the earth orbited the sun and not the other way around. Heliocentrism was just so obviously wrong. Wrong, because even though people were examining the same data as you, they brought a completely different worldview to their study and completely different methods, which led them to completely different conclusions.


Again, this is historically inaccurate. Copernicus himself was influenced by Greek and Muslim scholars who developed either heliocentric models or at least posited motion of the earth, a stance at odds with the geocentrism espoused in particular religious doctrines. The fact of the matter is that in doing science, what is commonly accepted can and does change, when the new concept comes with evidence and convincing arguments (testable hypotheses that aren't found false when tested).

Robert Park cast this in terms of Galileo, and it is relevant to this discussion: "To wear the mantle of Galileo, it is not enough to be persecuted by an unkind establishment. One must also be right."

Copernicus was right on at least some of his propositions. Galileo was right on at least some of his propositions. Both of them were willing to put in the work needed to collect evidence and attempt to convince the scientific community of the worth of their ideas. The IDC community, on the other hand, does not propose to convince the scientific community. They are actively seeking to evade scrutiny by the scientific community, to promulgate their conjectures as if they were science, but without doing the work needed to justly do so. Your movie, Kevin, seeks to disestablish the scientific community as a body worthy of respect by falsely imputing the sort of top-down enforcement of edict that characterized the Inquisition. There's a word for that; it's called projection.

Kristine is right.

 
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So, as I said earlier, just because something seems obviously true to you does not mean that it is. Who knows when new information will shed new light on our observations? Isn't that what science is about? Looking for new information so we can understand the world better? Or is it merely about confirmning our pre-existing dispositions?


Again, projection is a wholly satisfactory description for this note from Kevin. What is IDC except a long-running attempt at confirming pre-existing dispositions? IDC was taken up and discussed by the scientific community. We call that "the 19th century". It was given a fair hearing and discarded. IDC is not itself "new information". The four major arguments of IDC proceed directly from precursor arguments found in the Rev. William Paley's 1802 book, "Natural Theology". That includes "irreducible complexity", "specified complexity", various arguments about anthropic principles, and the argument about observability popularized in "The Privileged Planet".

Science is open to genuinely new information. Evolutionary biology has seen quite a few new ideas arise, be criticized, and then be accepted when the proponents did the hard work of collecting, analyzing, and presenting evidence along with tests of hypotheses to establish that what they were saying had scientific merit. This happened for transposons. This happened for the endosymbiotic hypothesis. This happened for the neutral theory. This happened for punctuated equilibria. Also, evolutionary biology since Darwin has cleared away a number of once popular theories that simply didn't measure up to the evidence. Bathmism is gone. Darwin's own pangenesis was discarded. Orthogenesis and aristogenesis? Gone. The notion that evolutionary biology is a closed shop with a fixed top-down enforcement of doctrine is demonstrably poppycock. Only someone who is either ignorant of the actual history, or who is willing to lie to spread a false view of that history could say otherwise.

Now, back to stuff Kevin skipped right over. Kevin said something about the fossil record and working with the data. I brought up a particular piece of research that presented evidence of speciation and asked Kevin to expound upon it.

 
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Kevin has the opportunity to prove Dawkins wrong the right way, by making a principled argument against evolution having occurred that is based upon the specific evidence at hand. Will he do that?


The answer, it appears, is "No."

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 05 2008,07:16

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
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