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The Sciences

Irony, thy name is ID

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitApril 5, 2006 6:16 PM


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I just got an email from a friend who is a teacher, scientist, and fighter of creationism. The email was about a press release from a group calling itself Integrity in Academics, and so you know right away this is yet another in a long line of ironically-named groups whose intention is exactly the opposite of its name. The press release says:

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Trustees of the Lancaster [California] School District took a bold step into the future of science education by adopting on a unanimous vote a "Science Philosophy" Policy that encourages classroom discussion of questions regarding Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and other scientific theories. The policy declares that "science never commits itself irrevocably to any fact, hypothesis, or theory, no matter how firmly it appears to be established," and that Darwin's theory of evolution in particular should not be taught as "unalterable fact," as is so often the case in America's classrooms. The policy also declares that "Discussions that question the theory [of evolution] may be appropriate as long as they do not stray from current criteria of scientific fact, hypothesis and theory."

If only. Of course creationism/Intelligent Design advocates don't care if the discussion strays from fact; in reality they want it to. If they stuck with facts, everyone would know they are wrong. Turns out the release also quotes Larry Caldwell, a well-known anti-science ID guy (and -- irony alert! -- president of a group called "Quality Science Education for All"). Check this out:

Added Caldwell, "Unfortunately, there is a kind of 'Taliban' in the scientific establishment that seeks to suppress any criticism of Darwinism in the classroom. It is refreshing to see school officials willing to stand up against Darwinian fundamentalists to give their students a science education rather than a science indoctrination. After all, effective science education is all about teaching students to ask meaningful questions and follow the evidence wherever it leads."

That is pure fertilizer, from top to bottom. Scientists want criticism, they invite objections, they seek out ways to falsify hypotheses. But these criticisms, objections and falsifications must be logical, they must be self-consistent, and they must be scientific themselves. ID is none of these. I've said it before and I'll say it again: ID is crap. It's a lot of things, in fact, but the most important thing it is is wrong, and the most important thing it isn't is science. And to have someone like Caldwell calling scientists "a kind of Taliban" is making my irony gland swell to epic proportions. He even uses the word "fundamentalist"! Bang! That was my irony gland exploding yet again. Good thing it heals so quickly. After what that bloviating ID goon Dembski did just a few days ago, this is that much harder to take. The lies, the misleading tactics, the propaganda... it's hard to believe these people consider themselves to be moral leaders. Lying to children who are trying to learn is perhaps the greatest sin I can think of. And these guys are professionals at it.

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