UFOs? Obama-ordered news blackouts? No: Brain failures

June 28, 2011

Come on, you can figure out how this applies to those stories about Obama’s secret orders — or more accurately, the lack of those orders.  From Neil deGrasse Tyson and the argument from ignorance, presented at St. Petersburg College, Florida, 2007:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Neil deGrasse Tyson, and his Tweet.


Use of evidence in science: Homeopathy and nutritionists take a laughable hit

October 9, 2009

Dara O’Briain?  Never heard of him before.

But he’s spot on here, isn’t he?

(Warning:  Not exactly safe for work or school — the “f” word is spoken aloud.]

An ironic tip of the old scrub brush to Gandolf, in comments at Dunamis Word, in an otherwise futile discussion with creationists who claim to have an ounce of rationality left in them.


Michael Shermer’s baloney detection kit

June 25, 2009

Hmmmm.  May have to use this to start out the history classes next year, on the topic of “How do we know what we know?”

Michael Shermer explains the tools we use to detect baloney.  Shermer is the editor of Skeptic magazine; here he speaks in a video produced by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, via Boing! Boing!:


The role of theism in science: A short answer for why intelligent design is not science, and why philosophy shouldn’t be taught in high school chemistry classes

August 12, 2008

This will be a short post, and so will confuse the long-winded but short-thought intelligent design advocates, especially those who claim to be philosophers, and especially those who claim to be philosophers of science who can see a role for intelligent design.

A short visit to Telic Thoughts last week produced a revelation that they have a new philosopher who wants to argue that intelligent design “philosophically” could be science, if. I answered that argument at some length, in lay terms, here: “Intelligent Design, a pig that does not fly.”

Dr. Francis Beckwith, at Baylor, appears to have dropped his campaign to teach philosophy in science classes since he rediscovered that God visits the Pope, and since he moved on to more serious philosophical pursuits and away from his practice of confusing people about the law of separation of church and state in America (especially confusing the Texas State Board of Education).  We hope Beckwith sticks with philosophy and stays out of Texas textbooks.

So there was a vacancy in the phalanx of defenders of intelligent design, in the slot reserved for company store philosohers. Dr. Brad Monton volunteered for the job.  Monton has a blog, here. Monton philosophizes at the University of Colorado.

What should be the role of theism in science?  Exactly this:  Theism should encourage scientists to be diligent, to be honest, to ask tough questions, and be kind.  Theism should encourage scientists to be wise stewards of their lab resources and time, and to share the fruits of their work with humanity, for the benefit of all creation (no, not “creationism”).

That’s it.  Honest and thorough, not mean.  Work quickly and true.

If scientists stick to the noble purposes of their work, using these noble methods, we will see a quick death to creationism and intelligent design, which clamor and riot to be included in the science texts though they have not a lick of evidence to support them that is honest, true and nobly gained.

Philosophical debates do not belong in high school science classes, nor middle school or elementary school science classes.  The fun of science, the honest ethics of science, the value of science, and the stuff of science are appropriate topics for those science classes.  Especially school kids should not be encouraged to offer unevidenced, petulent denials of the facts as we know them.  That will only encourage them to become larcenists, disturbed individuals, and Republican state legislators.  Heaven knows we don’t need those.

Wes Elsberry agrees at his blog, The Austringer, but with more felicity:

The issue is not whether science could make progress in spite of re-adoption of 17th century theistic science, but whether theistic science could provide any benefit to the methods of science today. Monton, Plantinga, and the neo-Luddites have not convincingly made that case. Mostly, they haven’t even badly made that case. They seem to assume that science would be better off reverting to 17th century theistic science and become perplexed when scientists disagree with them. We had that debate, we call it “the 19th century”. Nobody has shown that the mostly-theistic body of scientists who decided to eschew supernatural conjectures as part of science were wrong to do so. Mostly, I think, because they were right to do so, and their reasoning still applies today.

Monton seeks a publisher.  I wish he’d seek a course in botany, another in zoology, another in genetics, and one in evolution.  He might find something worth publishing, then.

Philosophically, anything fits in science, if there is evidence to support it, and especially if there is theory that supports it and offers solid explanations that can be relied upon. But we don’t teach philosophy to kids.  We teach the kids the evidence.  Philosophically, any voodoo science could be considered science, if there were evidence to support it.  Philosophically, the FAA should regulate flying pigs that pose a threat to commercial and general aviation.  Pragmatically, however, pigs don’t fly.  In regulation of our air space, and in our science classes, we rely on theory backed by hard evidence.  I wish theists would all agree on that point, and shut up about intelligent design until some institute of discovery actually provides research results that provide evidence that ID is science, rather than philosophy.

See?  I said it would be short.


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