Home » Darwinism, Science » An Irony: Will Attempts to Enforce Darwinian Orthodoxy Serve to Diminish Public Trust in Legitimate Science?

An Irony: Will Attempts to Enforce Darwinian Orthodoxy Serve to Diminish Public Trust in Legitimate Science?

This year should be an exciting one for ID. It sounds like Expelled, The Movie will have very wide distribution in major theaters all across the nation in April.

One sad aspect of the Darwinian propaganda machine is that, once it is exposed to the general public for what it is (materialistic philosophy pretending to be science, and even in opposition to the evidence of modern scientific discoveries about the severe limits of the Darwinian mechanism that is presumed to explain everything in biology), the public may lose trust in legitimate science.

This state of affairs is extraordinarily ironic. The claim is that denial of Darwinian orthodoxy will destroy science, but perhaps attempts to defend the indefensible claims of Darwinists will destroy public trust in legitimate science, which follows the evidence wherever it leads.

I like the science in which I work: aerospace research and development. If it flies, the science is good. If it crashes, the science is bad. Storytelling doesn’t cut it for real scientists. Honest scientists follow the evidence — and abandon cherished, long-held convictions — no matter how painful that might be.

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36 Responses to An Irony: Will Attempts to Enforce Darwinian Orthodoxy Serve to Diminish Public Trust in Legitimate Science?

  1. Hope this is not off-topic, but I just read a pretty good SF book entitled “The Lure”, by Bill Napier. It’s the first SF book I’ve read that deals with the “fine tuning” of the universe argument, and presents a balanced view of the subject.
    Also, check out the latest edition of MAD magazine, there’s a parody titled “Darwin Day at the Creation Museum”. It shows Charles Darwin running through the museum screaming while pulling his hair out! Pretty funny stuff.

  2. April?? So is it not coming out Feb 12 anymore?

  3. “…the public may lose trust in legitimate science.”

    Hmmmm…. I would tend to doubt it. It’s been pointed out that most people don’t entirely accept the mainstream science version of origins anyway–yet that doesn’t seem to evince a distrust of science generally: people routinely demonstrate trust in the sciences that have made flight possible, or that use lasers to correct myopia, or that enable them to see and hear events that are happening around the world.

    It seems that most people have the good sense to recognize when something is worthy of confidence and when it isn’t–when it is demonstrated to work, versus when we are asked to take something on authority, in the absence of good evidence and contrary to basic common sense.

  4. Rick

    Good points. But I think the trust issue isn’t about the science but rather about scientists, especially those in academia. Increasingly it seems as if they’re willing to sacrifice objectivity and truthful reporting of the facts in order to acheive political goals. The science underlying flight and laser eye surgery doesn’t really have any partisan politics connected with it. Evolution and global warming on the other hand are rife with politics, deceit, and corruption of science towards political ends. Let’s hope the stink of it doesn’t spill over to the innocent, honest scientists who quietly and competently do their jobs without letting politics influence their work. I’m sure they are in the majority but the dishonest are a vocal minority while the rest are a silent majority.

  5. “Dishonest?” What, exactly, are the dishonest scientists after?

    Evoloution and Climatology are rife with politics because folks do not accept the claims made by the people doing the research. Simply put, those two disciplines suggest that Humanity is not the pinnacle of Creation and that our actions affect this world because we live not as part of it, but as unthinking destoyers.

    There is even Biblical support for taking care of the planet, but with Jesus coming back “any minute now” there is no reason to plan for a future that won’t be happening.

    People don’t like being told they aren’t special. Of course it would be opposed and false controversy generated. That’s human nature.

  6. Undesigned

    You wrote, “People don’t like being told they aren’t special.”

    Reminds me of the Incredibles. The Mom is telling Dash, “everyone’s special” to which Dash replish, “Which is another way of saying no one is”.

    I also think many people don’t like

    a) being accountable to anything which is why they pick religions that can be molded into their likeness. My favourite quote from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is, “He is a good lion, but not a TAME lion”.

    b) not being in control. This is why the arrogance in us hates the idea of grace, that there is nothing we can do to make things right with God. We prefer religions that allow us to be moral, to forgo certain pleasures, to be disciplined in our prayer life, etc, etc so that we can in essence earn our salvation.

    Of course the greater rebellion is denying that a creator exists at all.

    I recommend reading C.S. Lewis’s “That hideous strength” the third book in his science fiction series. The book can be read on its own however.

  7. the public may lose trust in legitimate science.

    I read an article a few months back as to how scientific literacy has basically disappeared in the San Francisco (I think) public schools.

    I remember thinking oh, those horrid creationists. Of course, I am being sarcastic.

    I think the future of science lies with home schoolers and graduates of non-public (yes mostly Christian) schools.

  8. Undesigned

    What, exactly, are the dishonest scientists after?

    Winning the Culture War.

  9. Rick and Dave,

    Good points. However, it certainly can’t help when the National Academy of Sciences, the leading defender of legitimate scientific enterprise and objectivity, publishes a report like the recent Science, Evolution, and Creationism, and when the world’s leading scientific journal, Nature, promotes such a report with evangelistic fervor.

    When all of this is widely exposed for what it is, propaganda and attempts to censor legitimate scientific dissent, it can’t help but do damage.

    The links above are at evolutionnews.org. Check out these links as well:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....lease.html
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....as_th.html
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....orial.html

  10. I suspect that Mr. Dodgen’s observations are typical of many scientists working in business and industry. In the marketplace, the free exchange of ideas is sacrosanct.

    Scientists in the university setting work within the last bastions of Marxism remaining on the planet. The university seems analogous to the kremlin; fear dominates a closed system; disagree with the department chair and you’re history.

    One can’t even talk about science at a cocktail party without coming appearing controversial, rather like talking about money, politics, and religion. The problem is, academic science has become wealthy, political, and irreligious — and not on the basis of evidence.

    I think you are right about science losing the public trust and they sadly deserve it.

  11. tribune

    I don’t see the future of the important sciences in any danger. Somewhere else the issue was raised about the level of understanding of math and science in the U.S. and how it trails behind some other countries. A European contributor chimed in saying she had been required to take advanced math and science courses in school and why wasn’t it that way in America. She mentioned two years of calculus in high school.

    I replied that it was because the vast majority of people have no need whatsoever for knowing calculus. Why should it matter how much calculus an American plumber, lawyer, or bus driver understands or if it’s incrementally less than a European plumber?

    I went on to say I’d be concerned if American scientists and engineers understood less science and math than European scientists and engineers and wasn’t aware of any data indicating that was the case. Advanced math and science courses are options for American students and anyone with the talent and desire could enroll in them. Students interested in pursuing careers where those are important usually take them to have a leg up in college which is where they will get the lion’s share of such instruction in any country. And surely, I wrote, even if a student enters college in a program that requires calculus or physics for graduation and didn’t take advanced courses in high school it could be made up by one or two additional college classes.

    That ended the debate. Maybe they should focus less on teaching calculus in Europe and more on teaching common sense and critical thinking skills.

  12. Gil

    I don’t think the sciences that produce results that make people’s lives easier are in any danger. Give ordinary American folks some credit for knowing the difference between practical and impractical. After all, it’s the American public at large that doesn’t buy into the story that chance & necessity turned mud to man. Evidently it requires a successful inculcation in a university or absent that gullibity to uncritically swallow it. A brief treatment of neo-darwinian theory in high school doesn’t quite rise to the level of inculcation, much to the dismay and chagrin of the chance worshippers. It’s no wonder they fear any criticism of it presented to high school students as they’re already failing to convince a majority of them.

    Maybe if the prehistoric chance & necessity evolutionists would focus on how important it is to science and technology that everyone believe hippos became whales by chance & necessity millions of years ago or that the first cell billions of years ago was a chemical accident they could make some headway with the public. What are the odds of that happening? :lol:

  13. Undesigned wrote:

    Evoloution and Climatology are rife with politics because folks do not accept the claims made by the people doing the research. Simply put, those two disciplines suggest that Humanity is not the pinnacle of Creation and that our actions affect this world because we live not as part of it, but as unthinking destoyers.

    This appeal to modesty or humility by the proponents of evolution and man-made global warming (AGW) is hypocritical, in my opinion. The public has the right to question the authority of scientists. The truth is that evolution does consider man to be the most highly evolved species and AGW proponents do view man as the only species that can affect and/or control the climate. Like it or not, that is, in effect, putting man at the top. In a sense, I do not disagree with it since I do believe that man is the superior species on the planet.

    What bothers me is the elitism that is endemic in the scientific community. The scientific elite looks down condescendingly on the public, even though the public ultimately pays for all scientific research. Most scientists consider themselves above public scrutiny. Indeed, the whole peer-review system was designed as a control mechanism intended to exclude a large part of humanity from taking part in the scientific enterprise. This is incompatible with the ideals of a democratic society, in my opinion. We did not get rid of one dictatorship to succomb under the tiranny of another.

    The lack of humility and the insufferable pomposity of many in the scientific community is what turns people off. The latest unilateral actions of Nature magazine regarding the teaching evolution are a case in point. The public is right to mistrust a privileged priesthood and their one true religion.

    I was hoping that the internet would be the end of censorship in science and I was elated when Wikipedia and other social sites became popular. Lately, however, I can see the same sensorship of the elite happening in Wikipedia. It’s disheartening. So I am resigned to wait for the next Kuhnian revolution. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.

  14. undesigned is no longer with us for the “any minute now” remark. Sarcastic disrespect for the sincerely held religious beliefs of the majority of our members is uncalled for and unwelcome.

  15. Dave, under normal circumstances in a public forum, I would not condone censorship. However, Uncommon Descent is not a public forum and you have the right to censor it any way you choose. You must never allow those “gentle” folks to come in your backyard and spit in your face. Bravo. In this vein, I think it’s time for the dissenters to form their own version of an online encyclopedia to compete directly against the obviously biased Wikipedia.

  16. [...] An Irony: Will Attempts to Enforce Darwinian Orthodoxy Serve to Diminish Public Trust in Legitimate … Darwinism will certainly discredit science, but is the problem really materialism? We can make an equal and opposite critique of spiritual explanation. The problem is to find a real theory that is naturalistic, beyond natural selection. One sad aspect of the Darwinian propaganda machine is that, once it is exposed to the general public for what it is (materialistic philosophy pretending to be science, and even in opposition to the evidence of modern scientific discoveries about the severe limits of the Darwinian mechanism that is presumed to explain everything in biology), the public may lose trust in legitimate science. [...]

  17. 17

    To comment on DaveScot’s comment (11) on science education in the States and Europe, I think that this has another interesting consequence. Because folks in Europe have been exposed to more science and math earlier, they are a bit more comfortable engaging these topics in the public forum.

    The problem is that this familiarity is not the same thing as competency. I have talked with lots of folks who knew just enough about a topic “to be dangerous” (I have spent time being one myself). Being convinced that the fully understand the topic means that they are more easily swayed by anyone willing to stroke their ego. To some extent we see this in some Americans while other are so scientifically illiterate that they don’t even try very hard to understand.

    For this reason, it is important for even plumbers and bus drivers to a some basic scientific literacy. Why, do you ask? Because they are the electorate and an informed electorate is essential for any democratic republic.

    With many of the key issues in each election hanging on fairly technical scientific arguments, a fair degree of scientific literacy is essential for plumbers and bus drivers to be able to make informed decisions about their leadership. This is an area where the ID community can make a real difference.

    As the Darwinists continue to work their propoganda machine and defend the orthodoxy, we ought to be working at least as hard at quietly developing scientific literacy in the folks around us.

  18. Mapou — your wish has been granted: http://www.conservapedia.com/Main_Page

    Dave — I agree that not every kid requires calc. OTOH, are kids who would do well in science being turned off by teachers with an agenda? I suspect in many cases this is true.

  19. Mapou
    See Research Intelligent Design

    Encourage you to help develop it.

  20. DLH, I took a quick look at the site. Very interesting wiki! I commend you and the others at ResearchID.org for the invaluable work that you’re doing. I, too, do research on ID but I approach the problem from a completely different perspective than most IDers do. Although we share a similar goal, I’m afraid that my work on ID does not fall within the scope of research that ResearchID.org seems to be interested in. I am preparing a new blog article to explain the difference in philosophy. Coming soon.

    http://rebelscience.blogspot.com/

  21. tribune7, great idea! My only problem is with it that, by being openly biased, you immediately repel many potential readers. One of the things that atheists, materialists and liberals are good at is to pretend to be neutral while preaching their propaganda. Also I would choose a more neutral and catchy name for it.

  22. ‘Public trust in science’ is a hugely complicated thing, though. Go back 120 years and outline contemporary technology to the people alive then and you’d be laughed out of town (You can instantly speak to someone anywhere in the world with a little handheld device weighing a few ounces, and then you can arrange to fly and meet them? Yeah, right!).

    Science is not a democracy. Darwinism offends many people’s sincerely held religious beliefs but, frankly (scientifically, at least, although not socially and personally) that’s pretty much irrelevant – the issue is whether it’s true or not.

    I think public faith in science is being undermined because we feel it is moving out of our control. Paradoxically, it’s not because we feel science is getting it wrong, but because we feel science is getting it right – too right! Steam engines, aeroplanes, open heart surgery – I know very little about the minutiae of these things, but I do feel I can ‘get a handle’ on them, intellectually. I can see the logic and, if only intuitively, grasp what’s happening. Nanotechnology, particle accelerators – now I’m afraid I’m just lost, and that’s what’s bewildering. We used to think the ‘man in the white coat’ had the answers – now we’re suspicious of what they’re up to. I think this is where the distrust comes from.

    Separate point – might not calculus (or anything else) be worth knowing for its own sake?

  23. scubaredneck

    Your point about voters being incrementally more informed voters in a democracy is easily derailed. The United States is a representative democracy. Your ballot doesn’t contain line items like whether or not you wish the Superconducting Super Collider to get cancelled or a Mission to Mars funded or anything of that sort. You vote for a representative who then votes in your behalf on individual issues. Presumably your representative has the time, resources, and ability to make informed decisions in your behalf or will engage appropriate experts or have his staff research the individual issues to make informed decisions.

    This is simple, effective, indispensible division of labor. Direct democracies don’t work in large modern industrialized countries.

    I agree with your point about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. A couple semesters of high school math and science doesn’t go very far in making one an expert in high energy physics or space exploration. In fact, as you pointed out, it probably works more towards extending a false sense of confidence in believing one has the requisite expertise when in fact one is far removed from said expertise.

    As I also wrote in that other forum the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. About the only area of high technology that individual nations can take total claim to is high tech military gear. Nations do not share or divulge the technology produced by their military-industrial complex. Is there any doubt whatsoever which single nation on this planet is head and shoulders above all others in high technology military gadgetry? The system works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  24. scubaredneck

    p.s. off topic

    Another blog recently accused us of having no credentialed biology experts in our group of authors. It just now occured to me I made you an author months ago and you have a PhD in Biology (or Botany – samo samo). It would help if you could make yourself a bit more conspicuous on the subject of life sciences.

  25. duncan

    Science is not a democracy.

    Quite right. When it comes to Darwinian evolution science is evidently a legal matter to be decided in courtrooms such as those in Dover and Cobb County where ultimate authority rests in a single person like federal Judge John Jones or federal Judge Clarence Cooper.

    That’s pretty far removed from a democracy. It’s also pretty far removed from the rest of science.

    You know, there’s still some controversy over whether black holes really exist. Maybe we should have the opposing astrophysicists lay out their cases to Judge Jones and let him decide who’s right so we can legally censor the wrong ideas about black holes and stop wasting time arguing about it or, heaven forbid, teach our kids something in a K-12 science class that might be wrong.

    I kill me sometimes. :lol:

    Separate point – might not calculus (or anything else) be worth knowing for its own sake?

    Certainly. But there are far more things worth knowing for its own sake than there is time to teach them in public school. Therefore prioritization is called for in those things that are taught to everyone. Following this some time is set aside for elective classes so the student can decide which of the myriad things worth knowing he wants to know. Unfortunately this too is resource bound. There aren’t enough teachers to teach classes where there isn’t enough elective student interest to meet some minimal class size. Following this library time is set aside so students can learn about things not offered in a classroom. Just so long as those things are not banned. To prevent students from knowing things they shouldn’t know, things which might cause them to question the orthodoxy, books about Intelligent Design, books like Of Pandas and People, need to be removed from school libraries. Following that is Amazon.com where they can purchase banned books and movie theaters where they can see movies like “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”.

  26. I think public faith in science is being undermined because we feel it is moving out of our control.

    Duncan, I disagree. Public faith is waning in science because widely heralded claims made in the name of science — doom and destruction due to overpopulation; a looming ice age; the “gay gene”; repressed memory syndrome; the Alar scare; red M&Ms etc. etc. etc. — were found to be false or way overblown, and were used as excuses to spend public money or add unnecessary burdens to our lives.

  27. I think we must always be concerned about science’s public image, especially the metaphyically agenda-driven variety we’ve been served up a la the Darwinians. So to some extent your caution is well placed. However, it’s not like there is no alternative. ID is the corrective to this particular scientific revolution, and it is in many ways a return to science’s historic roots. With the emergent success of ID, the aberrant bifurcated NOMA designed to serve the interests of materialists disguised as scientists will be in shambles, and one of the real advantages of the ID project is a more unified, holistic view. It is a view familiar to many science greats such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, and Michael Faraday (to name a few), indeed a view familiar to nearly every scientist prior to the Darwinian debacle. So I guess I’d be concerned about the long-term consequences of Darwinian “orthodoxy,” which historically is NOT orthodoxy at all, if it weren’t for voices of reason from the ID camp (Michael Behe, Bill Dembski, Jon Wells, George Hunter, Nancy Pearcey, and many others including those on this blog). Scientific revolutions are always difficult but intrinsically self-correcting. The curious thing about THIS revolution is that Darwin’s replacement (ID) is only partly new; a major aspect of it is that ID is also a historical corrective, something of a “return to normalcy” — I would suggest sanity.

    To some extent the real concern is over, namely, absolutely NO (or very little) challenge to materialism disguised as biological science. I’ve spent most of my professional life as a historian of medicine. Medicine has gone through these periodically. If medical history is any example the public typically sits back and waits to see the anomalies mount and who best solves them. The real anomaly here is Darwinian metaphysics, the shortcomings of which are revealing that the Darwinian emperor wears no scientific clothes. Survey data indicating that as much as 87% of the American public rejects the Darwinian and neo-Darwinian view of human evolution suggests that (courts not withstanding) they will welcome the emperor’s embarrassment and ensuing fall.

  28. Mapou —

    ACTUALLY, a Wiki-type site is not necessary, and probably not even the best way. to address Wiki’s shortcomings w/regard to ID.

    A statement/FAQ/manifesto/whatever published on a respectable site calling out Wiki by name and citing the errors and misrepresentations it makes w/regard to ID and those involved would be very, very effective.

  29. DaveScot – I may be naïve, but I do tend to believe that ‘the truth will out’. If ID is true it will eventually be shown (not believed – shown) to be true. This will mean the Dover decision will have to be overturned. In the meantime the battleground is not about the high school curriculum. ID needs to make advances at a much more advanced level than that. As Phillip Johnson himself said; “no (ID) product is ready for competition in the educational world”.

    tribune7 – yes, I agree, the failures undermine science, too. I’m a child of the 60s, when science was going to solve everything. Then came thalidomide …

  30. Flannery, you make good points.

    Science is something good. In fact, some of the concerns I raised in Post 26 such as Alar and repressed memory syndrome were ultimately addressed via science.

    OTOH, there are those — sometimes people with credentials and sometimes people (Al Gore) without — who invoke science for political reasons and hence bring it into discredit.

    It very well be that the ID movement is what saves science.

  31. tribune,

    You’re absolutely right about the politicization of science. It’s affected all areas. Recently Wasserman, Clair, and I addressed this in the area of misplaced, agenda-driven assessments in medical ethics. These have real impacts. See our abstract at http://jme.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/33/3/177. It’s not exactly on topic, but the point is obviously the same.

  32. That link seems bad, try this:
    http://jme.bmj.com/cgi/content.....type=HWCIT and see if it works.

  33. Flannery, by the abstract it looks dead on target.

    Duncan -you are right and truth will out, but an effort still has to be made.

  34. This is something I had said months ago. Darwinian fundamentalists are giving science a bad name, and we should not be afraid to say it.

  35. I think the Darwinist argument is a sham concerning public education. You have to believe in the benefit of educating people in a fast-changing field, where their input is considered negligible unless it reasonably parrots the current accepted authorities.

    Dave mentions calculus above, and talks about the dubious value of everybody knowing calculus. Well, I know calculus, it was required for a Computer Science degree. But as a programmer, I’ve never programmed anything where any co-worker who lacked calculus couldn’t have completed the task.

    Now, calculus is not likely to change on me. Somebody may come up with a better approximation than the Simpson method. But, I’m not likely to be called wrong for using the Simpson method rather than the new one, unless the precision demands the new method.

    Evolution is not the same way. When I went to college Australopithecus Afarensis and Homo Habilis were bonafide ancestors. It shocked me to hear it when their ancestry came into doubt.

    What is so important that I be able to recall these ideas as “facts” when my knowledge is categorically negligible unless I end up sounding like an approved “authority”. It’s almost suggesting that you must quarter ideas in your head for the benefit of man. Once those ideas are there, you cannot “think for yourself”. You must listen to the authorities, lest you should conclude something wrong.

    The ideas are not yours, you just have to remember them. I suspect it is so that you will vote with the anti-religious narrative.

    In general, you cannot conclude “we are apes” unless your conclusions follow a totally innocuous statement, which is unexceptional to those people for brevity I’ll just call “Our Betters”. In other words, I can’t conclude “We are apes. Apes have a male hierarchy. Therefore, the view of ‘silly male competition for dominance’ is entirely natural to species of apes, and unexceptional in humans.” You cannot generally conclude this, because the progressives, who generally push the evolution education agenda, don’t agree with that take.

    One place where I think ID-proponents get it wrong is to avoid the many constricting tendrils of the “Expertocracy” which is pulling our courts into deciding things by long chains of inference. I think the original battle Johnson saw and the battle of ID are continuous with creeping authoritarianism exhibited by our “experts of law” in the courts.

  36. the real problem in education is not the lack of calculus but the lack of understanding of statistics and the applied hard sciences.

    Why do high schools teach biology before physics (if taught at all)? Teaching evolution first softens up everything that comes afterwards.

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