1. Jeff says

    I love how DaveScot makes a post implying the IDists are persecuted and the first comment (a relatively tame one) warrants a site ban. I’m amazed at how many people DaveScot bans. I think I’ve seen one, maybe two, bans from this and related science sites over the past year. Science isn’t this scary institution out to silence everyone that disagrees, and as much as the religious cry “I’m persecuted,” I can’t believe they don’t see what they themselves do.

  2. dbpitt says

    Here are some more statistics I found:

    64% of Americans think religion is “under attack”

    49% of Bush voters want evolution out of public schools

    12% of Protestants favor legalization of gay marriage

    46% of SUV owners say that Jesus would drive an SUV

    89% of Americans believe in miracles

    Percent of Americans who would NOT vote for a/an:
    Woman: 33%
    Homosexual: 37%
    African American: 37%
    Catholic: 40%
    Jew: 46%
    Atheist: 48%

  3. compass says

    I always preferred the maxim as General Sherman put it:

    “Vox populi? Vox Humbug.”

  4. craig says

    The one statistic that made me pause was when I read that 97% of Americans use toilet paper.

  5. says

    .0000000008% of the u.s. population favors mandatory, county-wide pillow fights, with severe penalties (intense tickling until the point of urination) for any “below the belt” shenanigans.

    .0000000004% of the u.s. population favors making grape popsicles the “offical iced food stuff” for the 21st century…and beyond!

  6. Ick of the East says

    97% use toilet paper?
    Maybe the other three percent do what I do. I use a hard stream of cool water from one of those hoses that you usually see at kitchen sinks.
    Once you use it, you’ll never go back.

  7. Dustin says

    I hope not. Then I’m going to have to start conducting polls of my students to see which theorems are true and which ones aren’t. I don’t see that ending well. Just this Friday I used a theorem which I proved the preceding Friday, and one of the students kept trying to argue with me over whether or not it actually worked (and not just as a matter of a hasty assumption of hypotheses).

  8. says

    The one statistic that made me pause was when I read that 97% of Americans use toilet paper.

    That’s kind of odd, because much of the world doesn’t, and further more thinks it’s gross, and uses water instead.

  9. RBH says

    I recall Heinlein writing somewhere that “Vox populi, vox dei” actually translates as How the hell did we get into this mess?

  10. gibbon1 says

    An Iranian slur for westerners translates as ‘paper wipers’. The there is the Asian concept that blowing your nose into a hanky and then _sticking the used hanky back in you pocket_ as the most gross thing ever.

  11. G. Tingey says

    I’ve said it before …..

    Science is not decided by a popular vote of the ignorant and uninformed.

    So, vox populi if and only if the “populi” are properly educated.

    Back to Plato, chaps?
    Select some Guardians, and let them run the show, oh … hang on … quis custodes ipses custodes?


  12. sean says

    Yesterday there was a poll from CNN. it said that 99% of the world’s population are scientists. yay i have falsified all of you. yay.

  13. Theo Bromine says

    Interesting to note that, in many cases (for example, questions of morality) conservative Christians would be among the first to say that just because everyone does something/believes something, that does not necessarily make it right.

    The most disturbing case of a conservative Christian claiming discrimination I have seen was from a co-worker who filed a complaint with the HR department stating that the company’s policy of extending full (ie equivalent to spousal) benefits to employees’ same-sex partners was discriminatory against his religion, since he believed that such behaviour was immoral.

    On the other hand, I suspect the the-person-on-the-street would consider “strong religious beliefs” to include not just conventional strong Judeo-Christian faith (which is obviously the subtext in DaveScot’s post), but any strong beliefs *about* religion (which would include people who are public about their commitment to their lack of religion). I think it is probably accurate to say that people with *obviously* strong religious beliefs of whatever stripe are discriminated against. .

  14. says

    Here’s one that may be more worth looking into, and an altogether new angle :)

    {David} Stove, who died in 1994, was a noted Australian philosopher. He was neither a scientist nor a creationist, but an atheist. He didn’t entirely reject the theory of evolution, and in fact had great respect for Darwin himself. But as a rigorous practitioner of linguistic analysis, he thought Darwin and his successors, from T.H. Huxley to Richard Dawkins, had relied less on scientific method than on the abuse of language.

    The result was what Stove called “Darwinism’s Dilemma.” The facts simply didn’t — and couldn’t — square with the claims of the theory, particularly in its account of human life. And the Darwinians, while claiming to explain evolution and “the descent of man” as an enormous accident of a blind struggle for survival, have had to keep smuggling teleology — purpose — into their arguments.

    They reject the idea of God as an intelligent designer, but they persist in using such expressions and metaphors as intelligent genes, selfish genes, tools, tactics, devices, calculated, organized, goal, and design. By implication, these words transfer the notion of purpose from a benign, superhuman God to subhuman entities like genes and “memes.” Dawkins, who posited (he’d say “discovered”) memes, flatly calls “altruism” “something that does not exist in nature.” After all, altruism would be a fatal handicap in the ruthless struggle for survival.

    Well, if altruism doesn’t exist in nature, why does it exist at all? How can it? Aren’t we still in nature? How can we escape it? When did we cease being pitiless competitors and start being cooperators, building hospitals and charities and all the institutions that preserve the people whom Darwinism’s nature, red in tooth and claw, would deem “unfit” for survival? How can we be so utterly unlike the fierce creatures from whom we are allegedly descended?

    And if the drives for self-preservation and reproduction of our species are built into our genes, why do we do so many things that frustrate these drives? Not only altruism, but heroism, celibacy, abortion, contraception, alcoholism, and a thousand other things are, from a Darwinian point of view, self-destructive and in need of explanation.

    The Darwinians are aware of these problems, and Stove shows, with hilarious irony and savage sarcasm, how they have tied themselves in knots of circular thinking trying to explain away the most intractable difficulties their theory entails. Stove calls that theory “a ridiculous slander on human beings.”

  15. Dan S. says

    Quick survey – what % of us think that Stove – beyond a certain genuine & valid linguistic point about language being tricky and ill-suited for certain purposes that could have been expanded into a Gould-like useful critique of evolutionary bio – really could have used some more toilet paper?

  16. Dan S. says

    I wonder what % of folks would refuse to vote for a black lesbian atheist? Is it simply additive, or . . .?

    What’s really disturbing is how many people don’t bother to wash their hands in public restrooms. Ick.

  17. Chris says

    Stove needs to read Dawkins more carefully. He clearly explains what his “teleological” terminology does and does not mean. And why altruism isn’t really altruism.

    It’s difficult for people to understand things in non-teleological terms, but that says more about the student than the subject being studied. Assuming that the universe shares your personal mental biases (or your species’) is cosmic arrogance.

    Altruism and heroism are easily explainable in selfish-gene terms.

    Celibacy mostly doesn’t exist. People sworn to celibacy cheat. A lot. Do you know where the word “nepotism” came from? Do you think the Catholic Church’s sex scandals are new? Their inability to cover it up and silence their critics is fairly new, but the problem itself is older than Jesus.

    Abortion, contraception and alcoholism might be too new for the human genotype to have adapted to resist them yet. Although this may not be true of alcoholism – the high susceptibility of certain ethnic groups, *especially* ones that historically had no access to concentrated alcohol, suggests that the other groups *do* have at least partial (adapted?) resistance.

    Pretty soon we’ll start seeing people who aren’t satisfied with having sex, they want to get rid of the contraception and have children… oh, wait. Those people are already here. Maybe abortion and contraception aren’t so anti-fitness as they look on the surface? Plenty of other species have birthrate-regulating mechanisms already; maybe we just have indirect ones.

    A genuine desire not to have children probably will be selected out, if its basis is genetic (which it probably isn’t, but for the sake of argument…) Check back in a few thousand years – surely you didn’t expect overnight results? Reliable contraception is only a century or two old! Even for something with as short a generation time as, say, moths, it’s asking a lot for evolution to move *that* fast.

    Evolution doesn’t predict that no species should ever have problems. It specifically expects some degree of imperfection; really, these are much bigger problems for intelligent design, which *should* produce perfection or a lot closer approximation than what we have. (And why would an intelligent designer allow so many unnecessary males, or meiotic distortion genes, or other gene selfishness that hurts the species?)

  18. Loren Petrich says

    I think that David Stove has a LOT to learn about the evolution of cooperation, which has been an active subject of research; he seems confined to the common stereotype of Darwinism as dog-eat-dog competition.

    The most common mechanism, it seems, is kin selection, selection to help other possessors of one’s genes. This explains not only insect sociality but also multicellularity. Only an extremely tiny fraction of the cells of a blue whale or a giant redwood tree will be represented in their offspring, yet they keep on going.

    As to Joseph Sobran himself, he is reputedly a creationist.

  19. says

    The there is the Asian concept that blowing your nose into a hanky and then _sticking the used hanky back in you pocket_ as the most gross thing ever.

    That’s because it is the grossest thing ever.

  20. Azkyroth says

    The there is the Asian concept that blowing your nose into a hanky and then _sticking the used hanky back in you pocket_ as the most gross thing ever.

    That’s because it is the grossest thing ever.

    Considering some of the things Asian cultures have historically considered edible…

    Anyway, I’m interested to hear what, if anything, Mr. Stove offered as a replacement explanation for evolution…