Home » Intelligent Design » The Dangers of “Scientific” Consensus

The Dangers of “Scientific” Consensus

On another forum I was alerted to the following, concerning scientific consensus and the debate about continental drift that raged in the first half of the twentieth century:

³The verdict of paleontologists is practically unanimous: almost all agree in opposing [Alfred Wegener's hypothesis that the continents used to be one land mass and have since drifted apart]… The fact that almost all paleontologists say that the paleontological data oppose the various theories of continental drift should, perhaps, obviate further discussion of this point … It must be almost unique in scientific history for a group of students admittedly without special competence in a given field thus to reject the all but unanimous verdict of those who do have such competence.²

George Gaylord Simpson [of Neo-Darwinist fame], ³Mammals and the Nature of Continents, ²American Journal of Science 241 (1943): 1-31, p. 2.

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26 Responses to The Dangers of “Scientific” Consensus

  1. TO be brief, the deal with scientific consensus is that it is based on several problematic constraints. One is the information available at the time- so this is the point that all science is provisional. The second point is that consensuses are often based not on what individual people think for themselves but what they have been taught to think by others. IN the case of ID- ID is so often misrepresented as creationism- or you see, hear and read the the false political slogan openly waved in school or in the media that “ID is not scientific.” This mantra is often not supported by any further information or argumentation but is merely a belief based doctrine or political mantra. So what the news and recycled education reports, society believes and thus the consensus is synthesized. Luckily thanks to Steve Meyer, Bill Dembski and others we have voices out there setting the record straight about what ID ACTUALLY IS- why it IS scientific, is not creationism, and is a theory that opposes Darwinian Evolution on the merits of interpreting objective evidence and philosophy of science.

  2. That is a very cool paper. So interesting to go back in time to see scientists grappling with an issue that was unresolved at that time. Thanks for finding it.

  3. The ultimate lesson to be learned from the resistance to the theory of continental drift is that even the most stubborn of resistance will be overcome once enough evidence has been collected and analyzed.

    Despite the constant cries of conspiracy and persecution, ID will ultimately succeed or fail based on the evidence collected, not the political battle. Even if it takes decades, if the evidence is there it will win out. If not, then it will fall by the wayside as have thousands of other theories before it.

  4. In 1943 George Gaylord Simpson wrote a vehement attack on the theory (as well as the rival theory of sunken land bridges) and put forward his own permanentist views. Alexander du Toit wrote a rejoinder in the following year, but G.G. Simpson’s influence was so powerful that even in countries previously sympathetic towards continental drift, like Australia, Wegener’s hypothesis fell out of favour.

    Who were the “science stoppers” in this case? And who might be the science stoppers concerning biological evolution and global warming?

    The ironic thing is that in the two cases mentioned above, many challengers of the “settled science” and the consensus do have special competence in the fields.

    The dangers of consensus are especially acute when the consensus supports a philosophical predisposition — nature worship in the case of global warming (humans are bad and are destroying Mother Nature), and materialism in the case of Darwinism (matter, energy, chance, and necessity account for everything).

  5. Tyke:

    Re: >> The ultimate lesson to be learned from the resistance to the theory of continental drift is that even the most stubborn of resistance will be overcome once enough evidence has been collected and analyzed. >>

    1 –> Wegener first advocated Continental Drift circa 1912 – 15.

    2 –> Collation of evidence and further publicaiton of same went on up to his death in 1930. [~ 20 years of idea championing.]

    3 –> The big guns shot him down again and again across this time and up tot he 1950′s – 60′s; when as plate tektonics took hold in the teeth of a prevailing and strongly stated “consensus”, his ideas were vindicated.

    4 –> In short, this is a clear case of how new paradigms often rise: they are proposed, they are shot down and dismissed by the establishment. Then, after a long time — decades usually — a new generation takes up a different balance.

    __________

    That is one serious reason why arguments by appeal to institutional authority of the dominant school of thought of a given day — aka “scientific consensus” — should be taken with a grain of salt.

    One that is about six inches on each side.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: BTW, there is a famous pessimistic induction that observes how in the long run scientific theories die, so we should have no great confidence that alt last in our day we have suddenly arrived at the final truth on scientific matters.

  6. Tyke:

    The ultimate lesson to be learned from the resistance to the theory of continental drift is that even the most stubborn of resistance will be overcome once enough evidence has been collected and analyzed.

    I agree with you. One day I expect that the math of the genome will no longer accomodate neo-Darwinism.

    That said, the problem with these theories, whether it be evolution or global warming, is that they carry the baggage of the question, “How shall we then live?”

    The question is more obvious with global warming. If anthropocentric global warming is accurate, humanity is obligated to take extreme measures to rectify the problem. However, as we have seen in other threads, neo-Darwinism calls for its own areligious moral code.

    The cost of accepting these wrong theories until science gets its head screwed on straight is too high for me to be willing to pay.

  7. Hesperopithecus is represented only by a single tooth, but the evidence which Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Professor W. K. Gregory have collected regarding the tooth has been generally accepted as proving that a higher anthropoid, which may have closely resembled a man, lived in Nebraska about a million years ago. Dr. Elliot Smith, the English scientist, recently wrote to Professor Gregory that British scientists were practically a unit in accepting the interpretation placed by the authorities of the American Museum of Natural History on the tooth. ~ New York Times March 22 1923 p.30

    I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period. ~ Michael Chrichton Aliens Cause Global Warming January 17 2003

  8. Somewhat off-topic- I chuckled when this discussion made me think of how many commercials you see endorsed with “4 out of 5 scientists/dentists/doctors agree….”

  9. A Short History of Plate Tectonics (scroll up a tad)

    The idea that the continents have drifted apart was first suggested in 1859 by the French creationist geographer Antonio Snider.1 He theorized a supercontinent based on his interpretation of Genesis 1:9–10. He noticed a resemblance between the coastlines of western Africa and eastern South America and proposed the breakup and rapid drifting of the pieces catastrophically during the Flood (right). It wasn’t until 1915 that the theory of continental drift was acknowledged by the scientific community, partly due to the research published by German meteorologist Alfred Wegener.2 However, most geologists spurned the theory because Wegener could not provide a workable mechanism to explain how the continents could “plow” through the ocean basins.

  10. In support of his hypothesis of continental drift, did Wegener publish any books using religious publishers, make any presentations to church groups as opposed to scientific groups, make any movies which were marketed almost solely to religious (not scientific) venues, or engage in any of the religion-soaked behaviors a recent challenge to evolution have indulged in? To what groups or in what publications were his theories presented?

  11. The real problem isn’t how to fix consensus science, but how to create people who think thoughts.

  12. 12

    PaulBurnett,

    ——-”In support of his hypothesis of continental drift, did Wegener publish any books using religious publishers, make any presentations to church groups as opposed to scientific groups, make any movies which were marketed almost solely to religious (not scientific) venues, or engage in any of the religion-soaked behaviors a recent challenge to evolution have indulged in? To what groups or in what publications were his theories presented?”

    After repeated attempts at explaining the complete irrelevancy of your position by me and others, you still promote it. Do you honestly think you’re making an argument?

  13. Clive:

    Pardon a few notes.

    PB — probably without any deep understanding of the matches he is playing with — is doing the classic rhetorical tactic now increasingly the first resort of evolutionary materialists on this topic:

    red herrings dragged across the track of the truth, and led away to strawman soaked in ad hominem oil then ignited (presumably more explicitly at AtBC or equivalent, etc, as if he lights up here too directly, he will get booted) to cloud, confuse, poison and polarsie the atmosphere.

    The underlying dynamics were aptly explained by Saul Alinski in his notorious 1971 Rules for Radicals:

    “The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displace by new patterns…. All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new.” p.116

    “…the organizer must be able to split himself into two parts — one part in the arena of action where he polarizes the issue to 100 to nothing, and helps to lead his forces into conflict, while the other part knows that when the time comes for negotiations that it really is only a 10 percent difference.” p.78

    Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’…

    “…any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’

    “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” (pps.127-134)

    1 –> Here, the target, Stephen Meyer [a proxy for the wider ID movement], happens to have used Zondervan of Harper Collins as a publisher; presumably as in an already polarised climate no “Scientific” publishing house would touch the book; given the “lesson” of what has already happened to Rick von Sternberg of PBSW, and declarations of the US NAS etc.

    2 –> Instead of addressing the substantial argument cogently on its merits, the publisher is picked on as a red herring, led out to the ad hominem soaked strawman of the theocratic imposition on science bogeyman addressed in the first several Weak Argument correctives above.

    3 –> The implications of failing to frankly address the censoring implications of the underlying evolutionary materialist magisterium at work, as say Lewontin revealed in his Jan 1997 NYRB article are breath-taking.

    4 –> Citing:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    5 –> So, we need to ask ourselves: what is the “old” to be destroyed through fomenting hostility and rage-driven conflict, and just what utopia is to be put in its place ["the new"]? (Is that where we would want to go in a more calm frame of mind? Do we want that sort of mob-rule — notice the intent to drive us away from reasoned deliberation as declared by SA — to drive our civilisation? What does history from Socrates’ cup of hemlock on tell us about where that goes, especially when we see that evolutionary materialism is deeply challenged to ground respect and restraint for people having credible minds of their own, for morality and for rights? [And before there is a turnabout tactic, the base reality of say a theistic view, is One who embeds wisdom, love, justice and morality in the core being of the one with ultimate power. So, this is an IS that does ground an OUGHT; as Anscombe long ago highlighted.])

    6 –> Then too, we need to ask, what are the terms of “compromise” to be had after such a subversion has succeeded in utterly demonising the old in the minds of a critical mass of the public?

    ______________

    So, we need to see the historically grounded implications for not only science but also civility and civlisation of such tactics.

    And, we need to expose teh rhetoric of incivility, then draw attention backt ot he matters on the merits.

    In this case, DNA is the most obvious aspect of a digital, stored datas, coded, algoerithm-implemetning processing entity in teh living cell. Do we efver see such irreducibly complex organisaiton and functionally specific complexity arising by chance and blind necessity?

    Or, do we see them arising by intelligence; even routinely?

    And, do we see that once we have over 1,000 bits of stored information, we are looking at a configuration space of in excess of ten times the square of the 10^150 or so states the observed cosmos acting as search engine could scan across its lifespan?

    [That is, the whole cosmos could only sample at most 1 in 10^151 of the config space, i.e it cannot perform a credible search that would make it plausible that chance + blind necessity could and us on an island of functionality for hill climbing mechanisms to provide ways to evolve to higher and higher quality of function.]

    So, on inference to best, empirically anchored explanation, what is the best model of the origin of DNA and its associated nanomachines in the living cell?

    GEM of TKI

  14. PS: pardon, i seem to have failed to correctly close an address.

  15. Burnett made a perfectly valid point, Clive.

    The debate concerning the motion of continents was conducted within the scientific community and peer-reviewed journals and conferences for decades.

    Other quasi-scientific conjectures (or “hopeful monsters” of pseudoscience) …well, they don’t do that. Do they?

  16. PaulBurnett,

    I don’t know about the answers to your questions, but I do know that Wegener and other ‘Driftists’ lobbied heavily to have their theory taught in public schools and even lost a series of court cases; forcing them to change the name of their theory to ‘Intelligent Regional Landmass Movement’ (‘Intelligent’ because only treehouse amateurs could understand the theory; which made them more intelligent than those they couldn’t explain the actual theory to). They even ended up releasing a series of propaganda films; blaming A-driftists for everything from the extinction of the dinosaurs, to alien abductions.

  17. 17

    deadman_932,

    ——”The debate concerning the motion of continents was conducted within the scientific community and peer-reviewed journals and conferences for decades.

    Other quasi-scientific conjectures (or “hopeful monsters” of pseudoscience) …well, they don’t do that. Do they?”

    Depends on who you ask, those in the circle, or those out, and who defines the circle, and by what criteria, and by what authority they have to define it.

  18. The verdict of paleontologists is practically unanimous

    That’s a heck of a track record they have there.

  19. DM:

    There is more to that story, much more:

    1] Wiki on Wegener:

    From 1912, Wegener publicly advocated the theory of “continental drift”, arguing that all the continents were once joined together in a single landmass and have drifted apart.

    In 1915, in The Origin of Continents and Oceans (Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane), Wegener published the theory that there had once been a giant continent, he named “Pangaea” (meaning “All-Lands” or “All-Earth”) and drew together evidence from various fields. Expanded editions during the 1920s presented the accumulating evidence. The last edition, just before his untimely death, revealed the significant observation that shallower oceans were geologically younger.

    In his work, Wegener presented a large amount of circumstantial evidence in support of continental drift, but he was unable to come up with a convincing mechanism. Thus, while his ideas attracted a few early supporters such as Alexander Du Toit from South Africa and Arthur Holmes in England, the hypothesis was generally met with skepticism. The one American edition of Wegener’s work, published in 1925, was received so poorly that the American Association of Petroleum Geologists organized a symposium specifically in opposition to the continental drift hypothesis. Also its opponents could, as did the Leipziger geologist Franz Kossmat, argue that the oceanic crust was too firm for the continents to “simply plow through”. In 1943 George Gaylord Simpson wrote a vehement attack on the theory (as well as the rival theory of sunken land bridges) and put forward his own permanentist views [2]. Alexander du Toit wrote a rejoinder in the following year[3], but G.G.Simpson’s influence was so powerful that even in countries previously sympathetic towards continental drift, like Australia, Wegener’s hypothesis fell out of favour.

    a –> Much of Wegener’s argument was developed in the historically traditional way for science: he published a book and updaqted it as new editions came around. [Cf e.g. Darwin on Origin, across 6 edns in his lifetime.]

    b –> He marshalled cogent evidence, but because it did not fit easily with the views of the time, it was discarded and objections were more attended to.

    c –> Note by contrast: in Newton’s theory of Gravitation, he proposed no mechanism, Similarly, the Special theory of relativity (of directly comparable era) has two main postulates, not mechanisms by which they act.

    d –> G G Simpson was a Biologist- cum- Paleontologist, not a Geologist, and yet is credited with the “definitive” objections. (In short he seems to have appealed to consensus establishment views to dismiss evidence based views.)

    3] Peer review as an imperfect and sometimes unjust gatekeeper

    Peer review is a relatively recent — post WW 2 — phenomenon in science, especially in the role of gatekeeper of that which is deemed “knowledge.”

    For instance, in the case of Annalen Der Physik, in effect any physicist in Germany who applied with an article that passed the editor’s scr5utiny, would be published. That is how Einstein’s 1905 cluster of papers were published.

    Peer review can play a significant role, especially in cleaning up an article.

    But, when it comes to serious departures form a conventional wisdom, it is all too easy for idea hitmen to hide behind the smokescreen of peer review to exclude unjustifiably new and well founded ideas.

    That is why in cahnge studies, one looks tot he cluster of idea originators and champions backed up by sponsors and God fathers.

    Fresh ideas are easily shot down in a social system. It requires sponsors to provide routine development resources and to suppress routine sniping. But when the big guns zero in it requires equally big guns to provide counter-battery fire.

    If you doubt me on this, just observe how for a great many years venture capitalists were able to make 35% return on investment by haunting wate4ring holes and buying rounds for engineers crying into their carefully nursed beers. good ideas and good men can be shot down and driven out by clever sharp tongued hit-men — to the cost of the original institutions.

    4] ID

    In fact much of what happened to ID across the3 200′s is like that. back in the 80′s – 90′s, design ideas were discussed in conferences and published in books (I leave out the cosmological ID side, which is far more established in the relevant literature.)

    Then in the 2000′s, the evolutionary materialist big guns were brought to bear, probably for political-ideological reasons.

    Easily corrected, blatant and loaded falsehoods — such as Ms Forrest’s not just merely misleading but actually deceptive thrtough at minimum gross negligence in teh face of easily accessible evidence timeline on ID’s roots [cf here], and the equally unwarranted notion that exclusionary methodological naturalism was the centuries old highly successful “rule” of science — were brought up and used by NAS, Courts, ACLU, etc to try to discredit design thought as Creationism in a cheap tuxedo, with overtones of alleged intent to impose a right wing theocratic tyranny. [Cf the Weak Argument Correctives above on these ideas.]

    In the case of the PBSW, Meyer published a peer-reviewed paper that in the 1990′s climate would have probably been unexceptional. But in the context of the hyped up rabidly secularist, anti-Christianity driven hostility of the mid 2000′s [remember this was the time of "no blood for oil" etc etc], it led to an orchestrated firestorm of largely personally demonising attacks tracing to the action of the NCSE and others of like ilk, unjustly devastating the career of von Sternberg. (Just look at Sternberg’s site and its linked documents if you doubt me.)

    But now, over the years following, a steady stream of peer reviewed articles has been appearing, eg the series culminating in the 45 pp review paper of 2009 by Abel.

    +++++++++

    It would be interesting to see the points brought up one by one int hat paper cogently addressed by those who are ever so quick to trot out the talking points tracing to the NCSE, ACLU etc.

    GEM of TKI

  20. In support of non-telic processes- oops there isn’t any such support.

    The only thing people like Paul Burnett, MeganC and others have is teh complete refusal to accept the design inference.

  21. Tribune @ 18,

    I think it is amusing when you hear the fallacy by authority used in the case of paleontologists. I mean here is a group of people that disagree on so many things- especially the details of evolutionary history- and yet some consensus is to be believed on the totality of their subject? Moreover as i tried to point out in the first comment on this thread, scientists and teachers for the most part only repeat what they have been taught and told themselves. This is one of the interesting flip sides to the coin of motive mongering. It is said that the correlation between support for ID and a personal belief in the Bible prove or show that ID is not about science by about a bias. Well actually the flip side to this argument is that a person who might have a personal belief in a theistic religion is in a BETTER position to weigh the two sides of origins debate than those who are mislead or are not paying any mind at all to the theory of ID. We as IDists have the enriched position of having studied and thought about both sides of the evolution picture where as mainstream teachers, and many scientists- who do not have a religious belief helping them to keep an open mind- only know what the papers or TV report about ID. And in the case of education many people don’t really know anything about ID at all as few if any text book really delve into the theory. So it is important for the leaders in the ID movement to see the real opportunity here- that while ID is an esoteric theory that is only lightly represented at this time- this also means there is a HUGE target audience or market out there that is not sold on ID mainly because they are unaware of it’s existence- either out of total ignorance to the theory or due to being mislead about what it’s details entail.

    So for paleontologists to weigh in on ID is not only an example of one expertise overstepping their grounds but it seems more like a political agreement than an academic or intellectual one- in light of their affinity to arguing so much even within their own field and amongst themselves coupled with the obvious lack of knowledge most of them have about the specifics of the theory of ID- makes the dissent humorously suspicious.

    Lastly and to support my point, I found the case to be astonishingly consistent and true- that when you ask a scientist or teacher who is vehemently opposed to ID how many books or articles they have read by any of the well know ID theorists/advocates (Wells, Dembski, Meyer, Behe etc) they almost always answer in a defensive and yet inconspicuous way; “None.”

    I think it was Da Vinci who said

    “Ignorance is the greatest bias of all.”

    Which ultimatley makes the strategy of those in opposition to teaching about the theory of ID…

    Keep them dumb.

  22. (1)
    Wegener first presented his ideas about continental drift at the annual conference of the Geologischen Vereinigung (Geological Association) in Frankfurt, January 6th, 1912.

    This was followed by publication in Petermanns Mitteilungen, the oldest and most respected German geographical journal of the time(see: 1912 April-June issues, 3 articles; pp. 185-195, 253-256, 305-309, respectively).

    That was followed by publication in Geologische Rundschau (The International Journal of Earth Sciences) in July of that same year.

    Contrast that output (by one man) with the utter lack of peer-reviewed publications by any of the leading luminaries of Intelligent Design. That would include you, KairosFocus : If your claimed “evidence” were able to withstand honest criticism in the open arena of science, then your work might have more epistemic value, rather than merely the appearance of statistical/probabalistic puffery.

    (2)
    Peer-review (in the modern sense of evaluation by qualified experts) extends back further than WW2, particularly in Europe. For instance, the claim that Einstein’s 1905 papers in Annalen Der Physik weren’t “peer-reviewed” is incorrect. Max Planck and (editor) Wilhelm Carl Wien reviewed them. Both were eminently qualified physicists.

    Furthermore, different fields had differing approaches towards peer-review. Medical research was peer-reviewed in England as far back as the 18th C. In Germany, the geological and geographical journals were far more likely to be peer-reviewed by larger numbers of qualified scientists by the time Wegener published his total of four journal pieces I cited. See: Dale J. Benos et al.: “The Ups and Downs of Peer Review” (2007) Advances in Physiology Education, Vol. 31, pp. 145–152.

    (3)
    The implication that there is some vast international “Darwinist” conspiracy against the poor beleaguered ID-ists…well, that’s laughable in light of the fact that both Behe and Dembski CHOSE to forego peer-reviewed publication from the beginning of their efforts.

    That trend of avoiding both scientific conferences and peer-reviewed publication has continued to this day, because (as Behe said, and I’m paraphrasing) conferences aren’t his cup of tea. And as Dembski has said, he prefers writing books in part because he gets “faster turnaround” and royalty profits than by submitting to journals.

    (4)
    In the past 60 years alone, Science journals have entertained and debated more status-quo upsetting ideas than Wegener’s Continental Drift. That didn’t stop the debate from continuing forward in scientific conferences, peer-reviewed journals and scholarly papers submitted for critical examination. I could point to modern cosmology, notions in quantum physics, mitochondrial symbiosis in biology…and lots more. I’m sure you can think of some offhand. I know I could.

    Opposition and entrenched views in those areas didn’t stop vocal proponents of “wild” ideas who chose to present their views by marshalling evidence and data directly to “the powers that be” in the very journals and conferences and scholarly fora that ID avoids studiously.

    With ID, there’s this odd tendency of ID-ists to cry “conspiracy!” and huddle together in specifically moderated environments, rather than going out and confronting critics directly. There are exceptions: Cornelius Hunter once went over to an adjunct of Panda’s Thumb. John Baumgardner had the honor and decency to publicly voice his views at Theology Web (a site primarily run by theists). John Sanford was supposed to show up there, but hasn’t as of yet.

    I’d like to invite anyone from UD — capable of actually debating the topics and simultaneously exhibiting a modicum of politeness — to venture on over to Theology Web and see how well your ideas hold up under scrutiny where the moderators aren’t your fellows.

    Many people there will grant that some “supernatural” anti-materialist claims can at least theoretically fall under the purview of science. I’ve seen people grant that arguendo.

    Recently, this site highlighted the views of Brad Monton when he observes that he thought ID could be considered “scientific” ;

    “I maintain that science is better off without being shackled by methodological naturalism. Our successful scientific theories are naturalistic simply because this is the way the evidence points; this leaves open the possibility that, on the basis of new evidence, there could be supernatural scientific theories. I conclude that ID should not be dismissed on the grounds that it is unscientific”

    But, Monton added: “ID should be dismissed on the grounds that the empirical evidence for its claims just isn’t there.”

    I’d really like to see an ID-ist from this site argue the evidence otherwise in a “neutral” arena. Any of you. Because your fellows haven’t done so well in the examples I cited previously.

    The way I see it is that conflict and competition are built into the way science is done. KairosFocus mentioned the Newtonian-Einsteinian clash, for instance. What he neglected to mention was that Relativity won out by superceding Newtonian physics because it had greater predictive & explanatory value in regard to concrete things like the perihelion precession of Mercury. There, Newtonian projections were off from the observed values. So Einsteinian theory subsumed Newton, although Newtonian physics are still taught and are fine for most rough-grained purposes regarding celestial mechanics.

    My point is this: if ID really does provide a superior, alternative explanation of any biological phenomena, I’d like to see it, and to have people directly answer direct questions and criticisms regarding their claims.

    Without that, how can you ever see ID as a theory that even has the potential to supercede or subsume the current view of evolution (rather than the caricature that some offer up)? ID has to be more predictively accurate and of greater explanatory value in meaningful areas that can be pointed to and defended. It hasn’t done that yet, and I’d argue it cannot…but I’ll save my arguments for another time and arena, should anyone here be bold enough and sure enough in their convictions to find out in that other arena, outside of Uncommon Dissent.

    Oh, and a note to KF: there’s an acronym in other fora that goes “TL;DR” I realize you’ll be sorely tempted to post another monumental filler-intensive post in response to mine, but, really, and with all due respect, don’t bother — It’ll certainly be TL;DR

  23. I think most people on this thread are still missing the moral of the tale of the “continental-drifters.”

    They won. It may have taken them decades and they may have suffered plenty of unfair treatment from the scientific community in their struggle to be taken seriously, but they won out in the end. However, as deadman explained, the battle wasn’t won in the classroom, or the churches, nor even the courtroom. It was won the evidence the proponents continued to collect, analyze, and publish became too powerful for the established consensus to resist.

    ID’s claims are butting up against decades of work, analysis, and consensus, much of which would be demolished if those claims prove to be true. Why does anyone think that evolutionists would simply roll over, even if there was a boatload of papers and other published evidence for any competing theory and a substantial minority of people in the field supporting it?

    The lesson to be learned from the geologists who eventually triumphed over the consensus is to keep doing the science. If ID is superior to evolution, then it will win out in the end. It may take decades — heck, it might take 100 years or more — but it will never happen if ID supporters don’t engage in doing the science to build up the body of evidence to the point where it is strong enough to overturn any existing consensus.

  24. “tyke” (#23) wrote: “The lesson to be learned from the geologists who eventually triumphed over the consensus is to keep doing the science. If ID is superior to evolution, then it will win out in the end. … it will never happen if ID supporters don’t engage in doing the science to build up the body of evidence to the point where it is strong enough to overturn any existing consensus.

    Very true. The Biologic Institute has recently hired three European scientists ( http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....s/#more-47 ) who will possibly provide some legitimacy for ID in the eyes of the world of mainstream science. Unfortunately, none of them are biologists! It is unclear what a chemist, a mathematician and a mechanical engineer can do to show that ID is superior to evolution.

  25. I mean here is a group of people that disagree on so many things- especially the details of evolutionary history- and yet some consensus is to be believed on the totality of their subject?

    Why not? Just as an example: Nobody are in doubt that aeroplanes fly; but it would be possible for any number of people to disagree upon the reasons for why they can.

    Conclusion: Disagreement wrt details is a poor argument against consensus.

  26. “Continental drift” did not win, as such. What became the accepted theory, backed up by extensinve evidence, was plate tectonics – the continents just happened to be carried on the moving plates.

    Given that, there’s nothing egregious about the treatment of Wegener’s theory as he put it – he didn’t postulate plate tectonics, or any other mechanism come to that. Consequently the theory he put forward would have foundered on objections that the continental land masses, in drifting, would have had to plough through oceanic rocks to move around. That’s a reasonable objection, so it’s not surprise his theory met with disapproval. And the fact is, continents don’t plough through rocks by themselves in drifting, they are carried as passengers on moving plates.

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