Saturday, November 17, 2007

PBS Embarrassment: Ridiculing Scientists Who Are Asking Important and Interesting Questions

In response to a comment to this post about the PBS NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design," I had this to say:

As has been noted elsewhere, much of the evidence for evolution at trial and in the show missed the point. ID proponents are generally not "anti-evolution" as they are portrayed. They acknowledge that at least microevolution is proven to occur, and that there is some evidence for macroevolution. They only say that some aspects of the biological world are better explained by design than by known natural causes, like random mutation and natural selection.

Did anyone at the trial give a full, complete, plausible account of how the bacterial flagellum could have come about solely through random mutation and natural selection? I think not.

The more important point is that these are the questions scientists should be asking, and it is only happening now because ID proponents are asking them and pointing out that the answers are not obvious. For this, the scientific community ridicules them and wants to ban them from scientific discourse. Is this how science should operate?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

PBS Embarrassment: The Kitzmiller Trial Was Not About Intelligent Design

Two lessons I learned from the PBS NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design":

1. The people of Dover, Pennsylvania are good people.

2. The Kitzmiller trial was not about intelligent design.

Here is why:

Bill Buckingham does not understand intelligent design.

Brian Rehm does not understand intelligent design.

Tammy Kitzmiller does not understand intelligent design.

Lauri Lebo does not understand intelligent design.

The producers of NOVA do not understand intelligent design.

Ken Miller does not understand intelligent design.

Alan Bonsell does not understand intelligent design.

Judge John Jones really does not understand intelligent design.


The real significance of the case? Judge Jones's false beliefs about intelligent design are unconstitutional.

More comments to come . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PBS Embarrassment: NOVA Misleadingly Tells Half the Story

I only had time to watch the beginning of the NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design." That was enough to get the one-sided flavor. I hope to post on this again once I have seen the whole thing.

I did want to comment on one aspect that I found noteworthy. I am no fan of the Dover school board or its unwise policy. But in the first 30 to 40 minutes of the show, I was struck by how many personal attacks were made against individuals on the board. Locals supporting the plaintiffs were repeatedly shown on camera making ad hominem attacks on individuals. The Dover school board members who were interviewed on camera generally did not do likewise. Was this an editing choice? The locals sympathetic to the plaintiffs seem to be taking a page right out of the Panda's Thumb blog, with logic something like: Intelligent Design is not science, because the Dover school board members are bad people. This will not convince anyone except the Darwinian true faithful.

In one particularly strange interview segment, a local reporter named Laurie Lebo ridicules certain board members because they stated that they thought that reading the brief statement about ID was a reasonable compromise policy. I found that rather bizarre. After hearing people bemoan the culture war going on in Dover, why is seeking a compromise position a bad thing?

Well, we know the result: a single judge ruled decisively for one side, using insulting stereotypes, and insisting that no mention of ID be breathed in Dover schools, and that Darwinism shall never be questioned. And we all know that such a decision will never resolve the fundamental issues.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PBS to Teachers: Episcopal Good; Baptist Bad

Well, they did not actually say "Baptist Bad," but it seems pretty clear from the subtext. The Evo News blog points out a PBS Briefing Packet for Educators (related to the NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design") that seems to follow the Eugenie Scott strategy guide pretty closely. I discussed this in my previous post: "Eugenie Scott's Strategy: To Convert Baptist Kids into Episcopalians in Science Class?" Perhaps it would be more accurate to summarize the message as: "Episcopal Good; Baptists Don't Exist."

Although not as explicit as Scott's strategy guide, the message is still pretty clear. Teachers should cite with approval the carefully selected denomination statements that support and praise evolutionary theory. They should ignore other denomination statements or philosophical positions that encourage critical analysis of evolutionary theory, or take a more subtle and sophisticated approach to the relationship between evolutionary theory and related metaphysical ideas.

The question is: Does this violate the Establishment Clause? According to the Supreme Court,

Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine, and practice. It may not be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of no-religion; and it may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite. The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.