The price of appeasement

Posted: May 26, 2007 in Intelligent Design

 

neville_chamberlain2.jpg

Although I’d rather be quoting a British Prime minster, such as Churchill,who knew the price and experienced the isolation of standing against the consensus at time when it really mattered;remembering his warnings against appeasement of the British towards Nazi Germany,

I am however going to quote Robert F.Kennedy:

 

‘Few man are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues,the wrath of their society.

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.’

 

With these quotes im thinking of people like Guillermo Gonzalez who has given precious few reasons for his university to deny him tenure,except one …his association with Intelligent Design Theory.

(For more details go here)

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Comments
  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Association with intelligent design claims (there is no theory, not even a testable hypothesis) may be reason enough. Tenured professors are expected to contribute to the body of knowledge of their field. ID is a cult of various branches of science that not only has failed to contribute anything of value or use, but tends to detract from the fields it touches. ID is a knowledge hole, a black hole that sucks knowledge out of a field, and not a path to more knowledge.

    We have no clear indication that ID is a major part of the reason for the unanimous decision in this tenure case, nor even an indication that it’s a minor reason. Tenure decisions in research posts tend to require an outstanding publication record during the period after the person is hired for the post, outstanding teaching recommendations, and a record of attracting research projects and money that makes opportunities for graduate students and others affiliated with the university. Dr. Gonzalez’s publications were largely before he jumped into tenure consideration; there is no indication he has attracted much research money. If he has great teaching ratings, he’s got one out of three.

    Why should ID get a pass on meeting academic standards? Why should an advocate of ID get the bar lowered over what others have had to do? Why can ID measure up, academically, and ethically?

    You are aware, I trust, that three others have been denied tenure in that department in the last decade. None of them were ID advocates. I don’t recall you flapped about the bias in favor of ID at that time.

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    That’s right, no appeasement to ID. ID has to meet the same standards everyone else does.

  3. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Ed,
    thanks for posting. Sorry I haven’t got round to replying to your other posts yet.
    Regarding Intelligent design as a theory:
    A theory according to wiki: …makes generalizations about observations and consists of an interrelated, coherent set of ideas and models.
    Intelligent design theory can be summed up as follows:
    ‘The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. ‘
    Two things would prove IDT false:
    1.To show that Complex specified information can occur naturally,that information
    2.To show that pathways which are irreducibly complex can occur naturally.
    Both IR and CSI are positive evidence for Intelligent design theory.
    So ID has positive evidence and can be falsified,the other characteristic of a theory is predictability.
    If IDT is ‘on the money’ then :
    1.we will see more isomorphic instantiation being discovered.
    2.design characteristics such as modular design being discovered,i.e. parts are reused in different unrelated organisms.
    3.we will see front loading examples (see Mike Gene)
    4.Biomimicry will continue to spawn functional products.
    5.The correlation between habitability and discovery will continue to be strengthened.
    6.the Fossil record will contain forms and body plans with no precursors.(for example the Cambrian explosion
    7.There is no such thing as junk DNA

    You say:
    ‘We have no clear indication that ID is a major part of the reason for the unanimous decision in this tenure case, nor even an indication that it’s a minor reason. ‘
    I cant say with 100% certainty the Gonzalez was denied tenure because of his associations with ID,but given his academic record which is impressive I cant see what else it is especially in the light of some claims :

    ‘We were starting to see Iowa State mentioned as a place where intelligent-design research was happening,” says Hector Avalos, a religious-studies professor who helped lead the signature drive. “We wanted to make sure that people knew the university does not support intelligent design.” Avalos adds that they did not name Gonzalez directly, and he takes no position on the astronomer’s tenure. ‘

    The chronicle of Higher education:

    ‘Mr. Gonzalez’s publication record, however, does list 21 papers since 2002, many in top journals. “It looks to me like discrimination,” said one astronomer, who did not want to be named, fearing a backlash for speaking up in favour of an intelligent-design proponent. “They can’t say that he doesn’t have a decent publication record, because he absolutely does,” said the astronomer of Mr. Gonzalez’s scholarship. ‘

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Who posed the “theory” of intelligent design, and where? Since it’s based on the idea of “irreducible complexity,” and irreducible complexity has been demonstrated not to occur, how can it be theory based on a disproven premise?

    The claim that ID can be falsified is pure folly. There is no scientist who has ever posed a theory of intelligent design — where you got that claptrap from is not a science journal, and not even vetted by the chief proponents of intelligent design, who admit that there is no theory and nothing to teach (under oath, in court).

    Who told you their is any fossil out of any part of Cambrian rock without a precursor? That’s false.

    What in the world is “isomorphic instantiation.” Is that packaged with new cretis fans, or is it something you buy with a hobswitch? Can it be distinguished from a left-handed smoke shifter?

    Why do you say Gonzalez academic record is impressive? That’s not what tenure is about. What are his publications since taking the position for which he is seeking tenure? How are his teacher ratings? Which major projects has he brought into Iowa State? Deal with the serious issues, not straw issues.

    Has anyone said Gonzalez doesn’t have a good publication record?

  5. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Ed,
    thanks for posting.
    You said:
    ‘Who posed the “theory” of intelligent design, and where? ‘
    The theory of intelligent design in its present state,like probably most theory’s gradually took shape initially involving Michael polyani ,Charles Thaxton,dean kenton and others as a response to new information such as the discovery of DNA and its information bearing properties.
    For instance:
    Michael Polanyi, in 1967 argued that “machines are irreducible to physics and chemistry” and that “mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible.
    I’m afraid I don’t know the physical location of the birth of the theory.
    You say:
    ‘Since it’s based on the idea of “irreducible complexity,” and irreducible complexity has been demonstrated not to occur, how can it be theory based on a disproven premise? ‘
    Please show me this demonstration,sorry to say I’m not aware of Irreducible complexities demise.
    You say:
    ‘The claim that ID can be falsified is pure folly. There is no scientist who has ever posed a theory of intelligent design — where you got that claptrap from is not a science journal, and not even vetted by the chief proponents of intelligent design, who admit that there is no theory and nothing to teach (under oath, in court). ‘
    Ed why is it pure folly,ideas don’t just originate in science journals. On oath what did the chief proponents say and who were they ?
    Ed you say:
    ‘Who told you their is any fossil out of any part of Cambrian rock without a precursor? That’s false.’
    Are you saying ED that all fossils from the Cambrian period have scientifically verified precursors ?
    I always thought punctuated equilibrium was postulated by Gould and Eldredge to overcome the problem of a sudden appearance in geologic time of many species,otherwise unknown?
    You Say:
    ‘What in the world is “isomorphic instantiation.” ‘
    isomorphic instantiation can be defined as the phenomenon in which a complex technology developed by intelligence is subsequently found to exist in nature.
    Sorry I wish it was a left-handed smoke shifter .
    You say:
    ‘Why do you say Gonzalez academic record is impressive? ‘
    For a record of his publications go here:http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=1362

    This is not his full academic record there are other notable achievements.

    After his film was released in 2005, three of Gonzalez’s colleagues, including the faculty advisor for the campus Atheist and Agnostic Society, began campaigning against Gonzalez. Since then, more than 400 faculty members at Iowa State, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa have signed a petition condemning the presentation of intelligent design as science. Although Gonzalez’s name is not mentioned in the petition, he is clearly the target of this rank prejudice.

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Mike, there is no “theory” of intelligent design. You need to study what a theory is, how it is formed, and what intelligent design advocates say — none of them claim to have a theory, and if asked, the most ardent advocates at the Discovery Institute will note that we cannot teach ID in high schools because there is no theory.

    You’re making this stuff up whole cloth, and that’s not good. Science doesn’t work that way. We can’t afford to have loose cannon bloggers (like you and me) make science — the stakes are too high. There is no place anyone proposes a hypothesis of intelligent design in science, so that it can be fairly tested and analyzed, and that would be the first step towards a theory. So, consequently, there is no theory. If someone told you otherwise, check your wallet to be sure they didn’t take that, too.

    Irreducible complexity? Go to PubMed, and do a search for the phrase in biology and medical journals. There is nothing. Behe proposed it in his book in 1994, using three or four supposed examples. He said human blood clotting is irreducibly complex, for example. However, it was well known at the time that human blood clotting is not irreducibly complex, that we can remove several proteins Behe said are absolutely essential, and the process still works. Some whales, for example, lack the protein that Behe says is absolutely essential for blood clotting, and still their blood clots.

    All of Behe’s examples were demonstrated to be in error either in the literature immediately, or by about 2001 by simple research.

    There is no science literature to support any claim that irreducible complexity exists in any living thing. Here, go see:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html

    The claim that ID can be falsified is folly because there is no theory of ID, there is no hypothesis of ID, there is nothing that any ID advocate predicts that can be tested. No, science isn’t done in science journals — it’s just reported there. Science is done on lab benches, and especially in biology, in observation in the wild. There is not a single laboratory in the world that has had a successful ID research project in 20 years. Not one. There is ONLY one lab that purports to be working on intelligent design, and they have had no results, and they refuse to let anyone come in to see what they are working on.

    Under oath, Michael Behe and Scott Minnich admitted they haven no research results to back intelligent design. They were the two who made it to trial — Bill Dembski and others bowed out early. This was during the trial for the Kitzmiller case. NCSE has a rather complete record of testimony, including exhibits, and the pre-trial work that led to the testimony.

    In the Arkansas trial, there were a dozen or so other experts on creationism who made the same admission.

    Yes, I’m saying that Precambrian fossils have precursors. You were not aware? I first heard the reports about two decades ago. In any case, no one has ever argued that creatures showed up in the Cambrian out of nowhere — scientists were frustrated because the precursors were soft-bodied creatures which do not fossilize well. Since then, of course, there have been several finds of fossils of the soft-bodied creatures.

    You treat the “Cambrian explosion” as if it were a single event, over a short period of time, and as if it appeared magical. The phrase referred to a period of 25 million to 50 million years over which many creatures appeared to develop shells, and so they “exploded” into fossil records. 25 million to 50 million years if 25 to 50 times as long as humans have lived. While that’s a short time in the planet’s 4.5 billion year history, it’s dramatically slow by human terms.

    Here’s a summary of what really went on in the Cambrian: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC300.html, and here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC301.html

    Eldredge and Gould postulated punctuated equilibria to explain what appeared in fossils to be periods of rapid change, followed by periods of long stasis, in animal life forms. The long periods of stability, or equilibrium, were punctuated by periods of rapid change. Punc Eq is wholly based on what fossils actually show. They don’t talk about species suddenly appearing with no precursuors — they talk about dramatic change in populations from one snapshot to the next.

    Here, Wes Elsberry has explained it to thousands, and he archived a summary essay on it: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/punc-eq.html

    As you describe “isomorphic instantiation,” it could also be called convergent evolution. Well documented, perfectly natural. Common, in fact.

    As to Gonzalez, what you cite is a key part of the problem. The film is scientific froth, of little or no value. It produces no results (remember when I said ID is sterile? Here you see that in action.) The film suggested, erroneously, that Iowa State teaches ID, when it does no such thing. In response to the film, partly, scientists at Iowa State felt compelled to put out a notice that no one else at Iowa State finds such stuff to be science, so as not to discourage potential professors, graduate students and undergraduate students from coming to the school.

    But in any case, even ignoring the damage, the film did nothing for Iowa State. It brought in no new research money. It offered no new graduate positions (one of the key things tenure committees look at). It seemed to distract from Gonzalez’s expected work.

    Why do you call scientists standing up for science “rank prejudice?” That’s silly. It’s as if whenever scientists do an experiment, to report the results is “rank prejudice” against anyone who claimed the results should be the opposite.

    It seems to me that you don’t understand what tenure is all about, either. Tenure is granted to people who are going great stuff to advance their field, to build the department and the university, to bring in graduate students and provide new opportunities for those grads.

    How many of the publications Gonzalez had after he started on the tenure track at Iowa State included as co-researchers and co-authors any of the graduate students at Iowa State? How many of them included other professors?

    Do you yet begin to see the problems?

    ID is crank science at the moment, disproven in the odd things it has tried to advance that were testable, completely lacking any hypothesis that could lead to a theory, completely lacking in any research program or promise of research. While it has been proven in court that intelligent design suffers absolutely no bias that precludes scientific publications on the topic, in the past 20 years there have been exactly two such publications in science journals, and both of those are problematic.

    In contrast, in an average year since 1987 (the first year “intelligent design” was substituted for “creationism”), evolution has 10,000 papers published. So in the last 20 years we have 200,000 papers on evolution, and 2 on intelligent design, neither of them Gonzalez’s.

    Something is rank here, but it’s not prejudice against ID — it’s the claim that ID is science. Such a claim is rank hoohaw.

  7. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Ed,
    cheers for the post.

    You say:

    ‘Mike, there is no “theory” of intelligent design. You need to study what a theory is, how it is formed, and what intelligent design advocates say — none of them claim to have a theory, and if asked, the most ardent advocates at the Discovery Institute will note that we cannot teach ID in high schools because there is no theory. ‘

    Checking on wiki (I know its not the greatest authority-like everything else it has its biases)
    here’s Wiki’s definition of a theory:
    ‘In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation. ‘
    I’m not too sure where Intelligent design fails in regard to being a theory

    William Dembski who,Ill think your agree is a advocate of Intelligent design considers it a theory:

    ‘For the scientific community intelligent design represents creationism’s latest grasp at scientific legitimacy. Accordingly, intelligent design is viewed as yet another ill-conceived attempt by creationists to straitjacket science within a religious ideology. But in fact intelligent design can be formulated as a scientific theory having empirical consequences and devoid of religious commitments. Intelligent design can be unpacked as a theory of information. Within such a theory, information becomes a reliable indicator of design as well as a proper object for scientific investigation. ‘

    You say:
    ‘You’re making this stuff up whole cloth, and that’s not good. Science doesn’t work that way. We can’t afford to have loose cannon bloggers (like you and me) make science — the stakes are too high. ‘

    I’m not making stuff up ,science has always started with imagination and people prepared to think in new ways -paradigm shifters. For example August Kekule who I blogged about in ‘Dream Harder’ and imagined his way to discovering the shape of benzine.
    The stakes are this that we follow the data and not allow the consensus to dictate.

    You say:
    ‘Irreducible complexity? Go to PubMed, and do a search for the phrase in biology and medical journals. There is nothing. ‘
    Ed I did what you said and got this:

    Moore PA, Cooper GM.
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    Regardless of the use of the term; it is out there and has contributed to science -if only to force scientists to look again at the suggested scenarios for stepwise origins of functions.
    I haven’t the time to comment on the urls you posted regarding why Irreducible complexity is false or not, but I will look into it further also the same with the Cambrian explosion.
    Again regarding the number of papers produced in favour of intelligent design, I consider the establishment bias to be bottlenecking research.
    I can’t comment on the Dover trial,I haven’t really followed it. I am interesting in the detection of design rather the than the political manoeuvring of the Discovery institute or any other body.
    legislation does not make science it only underlines the consensus.
    Sorry Ed I haven’t had the time to comment fully -I am looking more into Irreducible complexity and will post on it soon,
    cheers,
    Mike

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