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Framing science: Finding a frame to fit materialism?

At Overwhelming Evidence, today, I reflect on the comments of Matthew Nisbet at the Framing Science blog.

His comments are a more interesting – and far more significant – illustration of what is wrong with science today than the uproar over Myers’s ejection from the Expelled screening.

In his post, Nisbet pleads with Dawkins and Myers to just pipe down.

He believed that they are doing more harm than good by linking science with atheism, and he knows that that is not good public relations.

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Look, it’s just not good public relations, okay? Things go on from there. 

Note: I have myself attempted to resolve Myers’s expulsion problem by paying for his ticket, if he will agree to watch the whole film, and not run out to trash it halfway through or something similar. I have e-mailed producer Mark Mathis with my offer. It will likely cost me US$8.00 or so, and my freelance writing business can easily spring for it.

It is much easier to solve Myers’s problem about getting a ticket than to solve the more serious, science-related problems detailed in the documentary – the problems of people whose careers were destroyed by Darwinists simply because they know reasons why Darwinism isn’t true.

For more, go here.

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25 Responses to Framing science: Finding a frame to fit materialism?

  1. From Denyse at http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com/oe/node/434

    Worthless theories like Darwinism…

    C’mon Denyse, Darwinian theory isn’t worthless! It explains why creatures who die before they have a chance to reproduce, produce fewer offspring than creatures that survive long enough to produce offspring. It also explains why creatures with long fur survive better in cold weather than creatures with short fur do, and as a result, the long-fur creatures pass on their long-fur genes to the next generation.

    How could you possibly not recognize that Darwin came up with the best idea anyone every had, and that his contribution to science — as clearly explained above so that even a non-scientist can understand it — is the foundation of modern biology?

  2. Denyse:

    You have hit the nail on the head:

    It is much easier to solve Myers’s problem about getting a ticket than to solve the more serious, science-related problems detailed in the documentary – the problems of people whose careers were destroyed by Darwinists simply because they know reasons why Darwinism isn’t true.

    Does Mr Myers realise the shocking inconsistencies in his attitude? As in, cf. his declaration:

    The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians … I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.

    Frankly, if someone who talks like that had tried to gate crash my screening, I would have called security.

    Sauce for the goose . . . ?

    GEM of TKI

  3. Gil, hi, in my view, what makes Darwinism “worthless” is the claim that it is an immense source of new information. The Darwinist needs that to be true, and it obviously isn’t.

    Of course, some other materialist theory might be true (I suspect not, but we will see).

    But this particular publicly funded shell game has gone on way, way too long.

    Kairosfocus, I personally think the production house should have made a point of inviting people like PZ to the screening, so they could more easily capitalize on any uproar they did create.

    But it is a judgment call.

  4. “I have myself attempted to resolve Myers’s expulsion problem by paying for his ticket, if he will agree to watch the whole film, and not run out to trash it halfway through or something similar. I have e-mailed producer Mark Mathis with my offer. It will likely cost me US$8.00 or so”

    I don’t see why you should have to. Frankly, I think Mathis should have the common courtesy to invite Myers to a screening anyway, seeing as he was a contributor (knowingly or not) who appeared in the film. Mathis’ behaviour has been very poor.

  5. Clarence

    Mathis had to pay Myers for the interview. Why then shouldn’t Myers have to pay to see the movie? There are no favors owed on either side.

  6. DaveScot,

    I expect that most professional actors get paid a great deal more than Myers did (how much did he receive, by the way?), but I don’t think they are charged the entry fee for film premieres. This all seems so petty, and I can’t help feeling that it would have been so much easier on us all if Mathis had just let Myers in and take it on the chin. Why, after all, would Mathis have to concern himself with Myers? Yes, he would have been critical of the film, but so what? Films get bad reviews all the time, and it’s not like a bad review from Myers wouldn’t have been expected.

  7. I posted some new information to the Post-Darwinist story that I am updating as I go (currently the second one down, featuring volunteer Gee’s account):

    Update: Here’s the link to the story.

    Myers was not admitted but all the other atheists were let in.

    So could there be anything unusual about Myers that annoyed the organizers?

    Well, a friend draws my attention to some Myers comments at Raving Atheist:

    (WARNING: You are about to read the sort of language that pretty much guarantees that a comment will not see the light of day at THIS blog. But I have no means of explaining what I think is going on otherwise.)

    More at

    http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com

  8. Clarence

    Myers was paid a “generous honorarium” whatever that amount is which I presume is Myers usual honorarium plus some. Usual honorariums for short speaking engagements for someone like Myers would be $500 to $1000 plus expenses.

    Regarding Hollywood stars and movie premeires the stars in those cases usually aren’t hostile to the films. Regarding bad reviews those usually aren’t made before the premeire. What’s being shown in private screenings is not the final cut. In fact it’s substantially different than the final cut from what the producer told me personally.

  9. Amanda Gefter, opinion editor at The New Scientist continues to uphold the Emperor’s new clothes.

    Are ID proponents being silenced?
    On Wednesday, my colleague Maggie and I went to an advance screening of Ben Stein’s upcoming documentary, Expelled: No intelligence allowed. It purports to be about threats to academic freedom, but it seemed more like a pro-religion, pro-intelligent design propaganda film that looks like a bad Michael Moore rip-off.

  10. Gil, hi, in my view, what makes Darwinism “worthless” is the claim that it is an immense source of new information. The Darwinist needs that to be true, and it obviously isn’t.

    Obviously, I was being sarcastic. Darwin’s grand contribution — variation and differential reproduction — is so trivial, and so trivially obvious, that it doesn’t even need to be stated. Calling his theory “the greatest idea anyone ever had” is simply ludicrous. Noting that things that survive produce more offspring than things that don’t, and thereby pass on their heritable characteristics, has contributed about as much to biological science as the observation that when things fall they go down instead of up has contributed to physics.

  11. “Obviously, I was being sarcastic. Darwin’s grand contribution — variation and differential reproduction — is so trivial, and so trivially obvious, that it doesn’t even need to be stated. Calling his theory “the greatest idea anyone ever had” is simply ludicrous. Noting that things that survive produce more offspring than things that don’t, and thereby pass on their heritable characteristics, has contributed about as much to biological science as the observation that when things fall they go down instead of up has contributed to physics.”

    I think you overstate the case. It certainly wasn’t trivial – if it was, it certainly wouldn’t have generated the discussion it did when “The Origin of Species” was published, which of course goes on to this day. What may seem obvious now often wasn’t when it was first realised. Geology was the same: it seems obvious to us now that lower strata are older than strata higher up the cliff face, but when first realised it was quite a significant leap of understanding (probably by James Hutton, the father of modern geology).

  12. Oh, I know, Gil!

    I just wanted to make clear what I meant by “worthless” in my own words.

  13. Clarence: “What may seem obvious now often wasn’t when it was first realised. Geology was the same”
    I don’t think so.
    1. Darwin didn’t come up with selection – he borrowed (polite term) it from a creationist.
    2. It was always obvious with regards to living creatures
    3. The geological part is not nearly as obvious as scientists have claimed.

    That whole lower, higher strata thing – as meaning older/newer – makes a huge assumption that things pile up without there ever being any major upheavals or reversals.

    I’m not just referring to global flood theory but earthquakes, comet strikes, landslides,… and whatever else may cause strata reversals and mix ups.

    “approximately 77% of the earth’s surface area on land and under the sea has seven or more (70% or more) of the strata systems missing beneath; 94% of the earth’s surface has three or more systems missing beneath; and an estimated 99.6% has at least one missing system.2 Only a few locations on earth (about 0.4% of its area) have been described with the succession of the ten systems beneath (west Nepal, west Bolivia, and central Poland). Even where the ten systems may be present, geologists recognize individual systems to be incomplete. The entire geologic column, composed of complete strata systems, exists only in the diagrams drawn by geologists!” – Steven A. Austin

  14. DLH9, the Emperor could well end up getting arrested for public nudity.

    An aesthetic offence in most cases.

  15. Amanda Gefter’s opinion piece is bizarrely obnoxious and emotional. And I’m getting a kick out of the attempt to parley the refusal to allow a blogger into the free screening into ‘Aha, so that makes them hypocrites and they shouldn’t be complaining about their views being censored in universities!’

    I haven’t seen Ben Stein’s movie yet, so I’ll reserve judgment on all her criticisms of it. Then again, she seemed mostly irritated that the entire project – not to mention the viewpoint and sympathizers – dared to exist to begin with.

  16. nullasalus, I think you are onto something. There is surely no comparison between someone being denied a free ticket to an event of which he actually (obviously) disapproves and concerted efforts to wreck scientists’ careers because their research cannot support materialist theories of evolution.

    That is the elephant in the room that all the Darwinists/materialists do NOT want to discuss.

  17. Larry Moran at Sandwalk weighs in with more “endearing” comments for Matt Nesbit.

    It’s about time we started to ignore Nisbet and Mooney. Fortunately, they are making it easy by posting drivel like Why the PZ Myers Affair is Really, Really Bad for Science and PZ Myers, Mind Your Manners. I’m opposed to censorship of any kind but I really wish Matt Nisbet and Chris Mooney would voluntarily decide to keep their stupid mouths shut for a few years. I’m with PZ Myers on this one [I'm supposed to sit down and shut up?].

    If anyone is really interested in seeing exactly what the blogosphere thinks of Matt Nisbet and Chris Mooney you need only check the links that Greg Laden has posted at The Framing Critique (Dawkins-Myers-Expelled! -Gate). I really hope this spells the beginning of the end for the Nisbet/Mooney tag team.

    Matt Nisbet is a dishonest scumbag, The Uncredible Hallq puts things in proper perspective:

    . . .Matt Nisbet, he’s been very loud about the idea that proponents of evolution should present science as compatible with religion. . . .Nisbet’s actions are especially disturbing, because he isn’t a mere hack popularizer, he’s someone who has the ear of a lot of scientists, to the extent that he managed to put together a very one-sided panel at an AAAS meeting to promote his views. He’s cultivating a contempt for truth among scientists, members of humanity’s best-cultivated institution for seeking the truth, and people who, so long as they understand it’s worth their while, can do wonder’s for improving the public’s understanding of the world.

    Such is the welcome by many for the perspective that evolution and religion are compatible. etc.

  18. Greg Laden in
    PZ Myers Expelled, Gains Sainthood

    Lists more than 130 links to the controversy.

    Blogpulse “Expelled PZ” currently lists 645 messages.

  19. Borne,

    I fail to see the significance of your comments with regards to my earlier ones.

    But if you are claiming that most of geology regarding strata is incorrect simply because we know that earthquakes, asteroid hits etc. have occurred then you are quite simply wrong. Yes, geologists are aware of earthquakes (they are called seismologists) and asteroid/meteorite hits (and geological maps will show where the known craters are, e.g. the Manicougan crater) and they are also aware of areas where younger deposits cut across a range of older strata (such as unconformities). All of these are taken account and used in geological maps to create an overall geological picture.

    If you are coming at this from a YEC angle, I suggest you take a course or two in geology which is beautiful subject. But I’m afraid YEC is so far wrong it’s off the scale.

  20. Materialism shrouds itself under the cloak of reductionism. It seeks to manifest itself in the local consciousness that is simple and preferred in every day use- though the truth about materialism could not be any further from the truth.

    Materialism is a brand of anti mysticism, faith, inquisition, spirituality, transcendence, calculation, probability and significance of totality. In other words it is an anti-truth seeking methodology reduced to the most socially acceptable form- that is what easily meets the untrained eye that has been blinded by many years of imposed hyper skepticism.

    Materialism’s domain is the political realm of charlatanical misdirection. Luckily man has not fallen for its “forbidden fruit” routine hook line and sinker. Intelligent Design has fired back with IC, SC, and the EF. Biology and physics has been turned 180 degrees, back to the side of good methodological scientific inquiry. Finally the time has come that the masses heard the truth.

    Materialism is a religion, one that thanks to good science has had to finally meet face to face with it’s own methodological hyper skepticism and reduction. It is simply no longer adequate as an explanatory perspective in the frame of real and true science.

  21. Clarence: You obviously mis-read what I actually said and are trying to frame in a way I did not.

    “If you are coming at this from a YEC angle, I suggest you take a course or two in geology … But I’m afraid YEC is so far wrong it’s off the scale.”

    I’m not a YEC but your own statement concerning YEC is “far off the scale”. YEC’s are not stupid, ignorant, unscientific people as you imply. Au contraire, many of the greatest scientists were YEC and many are today. They have their reasons and you are way wrong to count them out at this time. The hard-liner 6000 yearists are no doubt way wrong but not all YECs believe that specific age. In fact many of the old rabbis contended for a much older earth.

    But, if you imagine that scientists now know-it-all about the true age of the universe, the earth etc. you need to re-examine all the evidence and all sides – not just old earth supporting evidence.

    I’m not convinced either way. There are problems with radio-isotopic dating and there are problems with YEC. There are also problems in dating the universe by star light time-distance-age calculations. They all assume certain things that may yet turn out to be wrong. No one knows the age of the universe at this stage.

    And, “the standard geologic column was devised before 1860 by catastrophists who were creationists.1 Adam Sedgewick, Roderick Murchison, William Coneybeare, and others affirmed that the earth was formed largely by catastrophic processes”

    They were not uniformitarian.

  22. “But, if you imagine that scientists now know-it-all about the true age of the universe, the earth etc. you need to re-examine all the evidence and all sides – not just old earth supporting evidence.”

    Trouble is, there is plenty of evidence for an old earth and none -repeat, absolutely none – for a young Earth (unless you think an Earth that is billions of years old is “young”). That does not mean that we know all there is to know about it, but the age has been pinned down using several techniques which give consistent results.

    “I’m not convinced either way. There are problems with radio-isotopic dating and there are problems with YEC.”

    Nope. Radiometric dating is very accurate (unless you try to do something really stupid like use carbon dating on rocks that are billions of years old). The point is there are many radiometric dating regimes and some are suitable for some age ranges and not others (largely depending on the activity of the parent radioactive material).

    “There are also problems in dating the universe by star light time-distance-age calculations.”

    Nope. It checks out well with other data for finding distances to stars, such as parallax.

    “No one knows the age of the universe at this stage.”

    Not true. We know there are lower limits to the age of the universe because we can see back to galaxies that formed many billions of years ago.

    Every sensible measure we use shows an old Earth and an old Universe.

  23. OK, let’s suppose Charles Darwin is the father of modern biology.

    Transistors, electron microscopes, and computers rely on the results of the work performed by Max Planck and Albert Einstein. Civil engineers rely on Newtonian physics. Chemists and chemical engineers rely on the works of John Dalton and Antoine Lavoisier.

    Now we come to bio systems and technology. Knowledge of Darwinism was not necessary whatsoever!! We can proceed with every conceivable biological technology, and study every aspect of all living organisms, without every referring to a single article of Darwinian faith!!

    Amazing, is it not?

  24. It is not amazing and not surprising. I read a book recently on Leibniz. The author said that he was a big fan of evolution and really thought that it could be used to help understand the life sciences. The only problem is that Leibniz died long before Darwin was ever born.

    Evolution has been around forever. I submit that Darwinism is nothing but a poltical club- an Icon for the anti-church and anti-God left.

    And no its not amazing that the modern manifestation of Marxism has created the icon of Darwin to over throw design and God. Lets face it this is not a scientific war or a religious or philosophical one.

    At the end of the day, its a political war. We on the good saide have to keep the debate fixated on free speach, logic, philosophy and the limits of evolutionary theory because Design is reject apriori by the powers that be.

  25. And to quickly point to the reason why God and religion is the arch enemy of Marxism I don’t need to quote one of Marx’s famous dictums but I will anyway…

    “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

    No I’m afraid it is a bit more than that. In fact that is the reason why religion is so hated by those in favor of “sateism” or classically known as Marxism. Religion has always been at war with the state. The founding fathers did the right thing by limiting the connection between the state and religions. It didn’t stop the metaphysical connections between the principals of law and their relation and derivation from religion (ie the 10 commandments) but it protected people from other people trying to use the church in conjunction with the state in gross abuses of power.

    The reason why “Statist Constructionists” want ID dead and gone is not because it is illegitimate on its own accord but because it projects the reality of a higher thought than the state is capable of matching. This in turn by logical necessity substantiates skepticism of the state (well warranted all throughout history including but not limited to those cases where church and state abused power together). This is bad for the power structure of government. All the teachers and researchers.. the people at NASA and the politicians.. an enormous plethora of interests all rightly see ID as a philosophical obstical standing in the way of exponential and unadulterated growth of their niche.

    But this is all illintended because it is the truth that is being sacrificed here for the superficial desires of the present even as history has shown time and again that this kind of behavior shrouded in the stated mission “to bring peace, happiness and fairness to all”, usually (if not always) ends up feeding the rich and powerful at the expense of reaping the rights and freedoms of the gullible who were too myopic to appreciate what was really going on.

    Now I am all for seperation of church and state but it has to be weighed against good and solid reasoning and science. ID is a legitmate theory of origins more a multitude of reasons. It makes no claims about morality or even government for that matter. But it does offer people the vision and real possiblity that life and the universe could be here for a reason. This is not anti-sceintific! This is what truly inspires secular discoveries of all natures!

    There is at least one man I can think of who can testify after spending some unwarrented time in the state created Gulags for speaking the truth…

    “Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.”

    - Solzenitsyn

    Religion may be the opiate of the masses but when undergoing the precarious surgery of life, I have found no better replacement. I have however found many things that could replace this anesthetic which would have far more disasterous consequences.

    May we learn from histroy what the stakes of this battle really are.

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