Shhhh. It’s vewy, vewy fwagile.


So…Intelligent Design creationists have a research program? It’s just super-secret, because those real scientists might criticize it, lower its self-esteem, and make it wither away under our skeptical eye.

I’ve heard the same argument from astrologers, homeopaths, and reflexologists.

Comments

  1. _Arthur says

    I suppose publishing their research, or just mentionning it, would “embolden the enemy”.

  2. Frac says

    You forgot “chiropractors” and “acupuncturists”. Two other generally-accepted groups of placebo wizards. I’m in Canada, so I get to pay tax so other people can get these loons paid for by health insurance.

  3. says

    Chapman writes that the eeeevil Darwinists would “Demand answers now to questions still being explored.”

    Someone please get me a new irony meter.

  4. Bob O'H says

    But … homeopathy has been studied scientifically. OK, so the studies show that it doesn’t work but at least it’s had scientific scrutiny. What could the IDers be afraid of?

    Bob

  5. says

    Classic denialism.

    I mean really, the mean scientific conspiracy makes it so no one knows the truth about their legitimate research? Are we back to conspiratorial thinking?

    If this is true, why am I not on the scientific conspiracy mailing list? I’ve paid my dues. I want to be part of the conspiracy dammit. Freaking illuminati are just so restrictive about membership though.

    Pathetic.

  6. says

    I have a funny chiropractic research story.

    I was on an interview trip about twenty years ago, and was seated in tourist class beside an immensely fat man. Needless to say, I was not in a good mood, but he was the genial type, and asked me what I did. I do scientific research, I replied shortly.

    What a coincidence, he said, so do I!

    I felt compelled to ask him what his research area was, and he told me he was a chiropractor, but actually did research on kinesiology, and was on his way to a kinesiology conference. His area of interest, he said, was the effect of allergens on muscle strength. So they would apply, for example, pollen samples to the skin of a patient’s back, and measure the reduction in their arm strength. And, he said, it was clear that allergic reactions made one weaker.

    Hmm, I thought, not completely implausible, but then he went on.

    Their big discovery had come recently, though, when they found that even if you enclosed the pollen in a glass vial, and touched the vial to the patient’s back, they measured the same reduction in muscle strength.

    “Do you know what this means?” he asked dramatically.

    “Haven’t a clue”, I replied.

    “It’s not the pollen itself that’s affecting the patient, it’s the pollen’s aura!”

    Trying to keep a straight face, I asked if he had done the obvious control of touching an empty vial to the patient’s back.

    “Oh yes”, he answered, “and know what? Some of those vials have bad auras too!”

    I excused myself, and spent most of the rest of the flight in the airplane bathroom.

  7. Molly, NYC says

    The most important is that the Darwinist establishment would like nothing better than to “out” research programs before they are finished. The idea is to shut down damaging evidence as early as possible.

    Have you ever heard of this happening in real basic science research? Would it even be possible?

  8. says

    Molly,
    That’s why it’s such an obvious joke of an argument. Science just doesn’t work that way, and that’s why arguments about scientific conspiracy are prima facie BS. The idea we could even keep a secret is a total joke. Scientists suck at that kind of thing.

  9. rrt says

    Some research programs are kept rather secret, I believe, generally to keep one’s thunder from being stolen or to protect patents.

    One thing that bugs me beyond the standard issues with “we can’t tell you yet” is that if (gasp!) they actually DO produce something, that sense of secrecy would probably linger. “Look! We got results!” “Really? This paper’s rather vague about your methods…show me your work.” “We can’t! It’s secret!”

  10. says

    Hm. I thought the story was there was lots of research… but those biased ‘Darwinians’ were shutting it out of the journals. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this essentially make the script:

    ID: They’re shutting us out of the journals!

    The Merely Sane: Have you actually done any research?

    ID: Sure. Lots. Tons. But it’s a secret.

    TMS: Okaaaay… So the journals are shutting out the research… you don’t want anyone to see?

    ID: Well, we know they would…

    Yeah. Sure, dears. The only ‘research’ you’ve ever done is into which persuasive techniques are most effective at snowing the media into believing you’re actually worth covering.

    That said, the ‘Fools! We’ll show them all!’ rhetoric is always fun to see, within or without the script of a bad B movie. Thanks for the giggles, Chapman.

  11. says

    I can see why you’re concerned PZ.

    Next thing you know they will be competing with you for funding to drown specimens in alcohol. Or maybe (resourceful fellow that you are) you’ll have moved on up to firecrackers by then to stay one step ahead with your bleeding edge “research”.

    LOL.

  12. Steve_C says

    “We are the party of responsibility; we hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than Democrats.”

    Swiftee wrote that on his site. Not so swift. Predictable though. Your party’s corruption will only make it stronger right?

  13. Steve Watson says

    I have a funny chiropractic research story.
    …………………
    Their big discovery had come recently, though, when they found that even if you enclosed the pollen in a glass vial, and touched the vial to the patient’s back, they measured the same reduction in muscle strength.

    That sounds like friends of mine who got into altie-med stuff some years back (really as a proxy for some family-dysfunctional issues). They had the whole family tested for “food sensitivity”. OK, we know all about obvious things like protein allergies and digestive incompetencies (eg. lactose), and I’m willing to accept there might be subtler effects on health or psychology from some foods for some people. Then they described the testing process: the subject holds a couple of electrodes in their hands, which are connected to a machine that measures their reaction (presumably a skin-resistance change), and one of the wires is coiled around a sealed vial of the challenge substance.

    In case you were wondering: yes they were/are evangelical Christians, and some level of Creationist.

  14. George says

    “Since when does a scientist have to “report” on his work to the public before he is ready?”

    That’s okay, you just take all the time you need… [snicker]

  15. TAW says

    COMMUNISTS! they’re all COMMUNISTS!!!

    (if you don’t get it, here’s a clue: Joseph McCarthy)

    (If you still don’t get it, he was a senator who had a top secret list of all the communist members of the state department…. the only problem was that that list never existed)

  16. says

    In case you were wondering: yes they were/are evangelical Christians, and some level of Creationist.

    That agrees with my observation that creationists, if you question them more broadly, almost always have several other fringe beliefs, usually about food or medicine. It’s odd that people who at least nominally espouse conservatism would be so new-age in their other views. Maybe the lesson is that when you abandon rationalism, you’re adrift and likely to end up almost anywhere.

  17. Aerik says

    Maybe they are afraid of getting death threats.

    You mean like Judge Jones got from supporters of ID? I guess that just proves how ideo-centric they are. They think everybody is secretly like them and is as wing-nutty.

  18. Steve Watson says

    Maybe the lesson is that when you abandon rationalism, you’re adrift and likely to end up almost anywhere.

    That’s one factor. I think another is that Creationism is itself an “alt” belief in that it dissents from an “official” view (and in my part of the world, is also a numerical minority). Once you’ve adopted the attitude that the Official View is wrong in one subject area, you’re more likely to adopt it elsewhere. Uncritical contrarianism comes to pervade your outlook.

  19. jfs says

    Steve_C: Please don’t encourage the ignorant troll. Replying to swiftee is pretty much wasted effort. His blog, and his comments here, stand on their own — willfully ignorant and rather pathetic. I’m assuming that his brain sports some incredible compartmentalization, since he apparently is gainfully employed as an electrical engineer. Biology is amazing, if he can pull off critical thinking in that capacity yet completely fail elsewhere in his life.

  20. idlemind says

    jfs,

    Consider Forrest Mims, well-known EE and IDer. As an engineer myself I’ve noticed the same phenomenon a number of times. I think it has something to do with having a very mechanistic view of the world from a very early age, and the result of fitting the parental religion into that structure. There but for the grace of the FSM go I — I was brought up in liberal Christianity, and so didn’t have my sense of logic quite so warped that I couldn’t slip the thrall of that religion altogether as I got older.

  21. horrobin says

    Y’all won’t be laughing when the Discovery Institute succeeds in isolating Designerite√ʬĄ¬Ę.

  22. Rocky says

    Designerite√ʬĄ¬Ę!!!!!!
    I almost fell out of my seat laughing!
    It’s good you trademarked the name, I can see the royalities rolling in!

  23. idlemind says

    The problem with making Designerite√ʬĄ¬Ę is the critical shortage of Unobtainium√ʬĄ¬Ę.

  24. Gav says

    Sounds a bit like the South Sea Bubble “company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.” People bought into it, apparently.

    Could it be that this is itself the experiment? That is, to demonstrate that evolution is wrong because people are just as gullible as ever?

  25. jfs says

    Not all that long ago, I’d read an interesting article talking about different ways of knowing — two in particular, a traditionalist view and a scientific view. I wish I could find it again, since it presented a model of belief where the religious (traditionalists) were still considered rational because they were working in a framework that generally made sense and allowed them to function in the world, except where it grossly conflicted with reality. Then it’s denial and obvious irrationality, at least to those not mired in their particular myths and traditions.

    The model intrigued me because it explained the seeming contradictions of someone who can live a life largely ruled by science and reason (ie. conforming to reality), yet be capable of abandoning it at will. If anyone knows the article I’m thinking of, a link would be welcome.

    Anyway, if the ID researchers (assuming for a moment that they actually exist) want to keep a lid on their project, I say fine. Just don’t expect anyone to take ID seriously until they actually submit something for peer review.

  26. Molly, NYC says

    quitter–I used to cook for a living. One of the differences between non-cooks and cooks was that non-cooks frequently believed there could be such a thing as a “secret recipe.” Well, if you can’t cook, all recipes are secret. If you can cook, there’s no such thing as a secret recipe–foods of a certain type are constructed in certain ways, all the foodies read the same reviews, everyone trades recipes and anyone with a decent palate know what’s in a dish as soon as she tastes it. The only really new stuff are new ways to boil water.

    As you mentioned, something similar happens in the sciences. People who get MEGO over science tend to believe “secret science” is possible–commonplace, even. But from the inside, you see that scientists who work in a given area all know their stuff, read the same papers, talk to each other, riff off each other’s work, and there are no professional secrets among them.

  27. says

    I should also clarify, it is true that scientists will try to keep their research secret so they don’t get scooped, I’m not saying we don’t keep any secrets at all. But that’s just because we want to be first to spill the beans.

    This idea that a bunch of scientists would get together and conspire against some kind of data that contradicts what they want to be true is absurd though. One of them would of course want to publish if there was something to prove. You could never keep everybody on message, it’s just innate among scientists to want to be first to get the new info out there. You don’t get grants by hiding data after all.

  28. RBH says

    horrobin wrote

    Y’all won’t be laughing when the Discovery Institute succeeds in isolating Designerite√ʬĄ¬Ę.

    That’ll come just about the same time that Paul Nelson gets around to his “omnibus reply” on that ontogenetic depth stuff. “Tomorrow” has now stretched out to 30 months of waiting.

  29. Torbjörn Larsson says

    I don’t care about their research (at least it ought to keep them honest and ethical for a change) but I care for their results.

    But after 20 (!) years…

    BTW, that is the probability that any ID dissemination builds a meaningful structure? Let’s say they have 10 outlets which produces 1 report/day (whether news or paper). That would give ~ 73000! possible orderings by now. Not one of them has made any sense yet.

    But there is always a possibility the ID building blocks may spontaneously combine into that unique ordering of ‘information’ that would give life to the ID vision exactly as it is described. Since 73000! > 73000^73000 > 10^150, we see that the possibility is < 10^(-150), which is the Universal Pseudoscience Bound (UPB) I just made up. (If you deny this model, you obviously deny how creationism probability works as laid down in the number commandments given to Dembski.) idlemind: "Consider Forrest Mims, well-known EE and IDer. As an engineer myself I've noticed the same phenomenon a number of times. I think it has something to do with having a very mechanistic view of the world from a very early age, and the result of fitting the parental religion into that structure." Perhaps. What I think is a more general observation is that engineers can become cranks of all sorts. And a more general hypotheses for that crankhood would be that engineers are trained (at least at work) to quickly overview and make enough sense of new areas of technology or practice. This is often enforced by enough testing to convince that the developed technology is working, but not that the ideas behind necessarily are correct. When that quickly-but-enough-and-it-seems-to-work attitude is set loose on other areas of human interest, it can easily get ugly. jfs: John Wilkins have explored a similar model for bounded rationality and how cognitive dissonance may extinguish epistemic sets, which might interest you while you find the other model. The summary image is at http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2006/09/why_are_creationists_creationi_2.php .

  30. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Forgot the HTML tags. Again:

    I don’t care about their research (at least it ought to keep them honest and ethical for a change) but I care for their results.

    But after 20 (!) years…

    BTW, that is the probability that any ID dissemination builds a meaningful structure? Let’s say they have 10 outlets which produces 1 report/day (whether news or paper). That would give ~ 73000! possible orderings by now. Not one of them has made any sense yet.

    But there is always a possibility the ID building blocks may spontaneously combine into that unique ordering of ‘information’ that would give life to the ID vision exactly as it is described. Since 73000! > 73000^73000 > 10^150, we see that the possibility is less than 10^(-150), which is the Universal Pseudoscience Bound (UPB) I just made up. (If you deny this model, you obviously deny how creationism probability works as laid down in the number commandments given to Dembski.)

  31. Anton Mates says

    I was rather surprised by the bit about Beckwith being discriminated against for being pro-life–at Baylor, a Baptist university in Texas–so I looked around on the net a bit. Lo and behold, at least six faculty members have written letters to the school newspaper this year, openly declaring themselves pro-life. Can’t find any faculty calling themselves pro-choice (although there’s plenty of pro-choice students there and at least one campus organization for it.)

    On the other hand, Beckwith condemned Baylor’s then-interim-president Underwood for not being pro-life enough–Underwood’s anti-abortion but supports Planned Parenthood’s sex ed classes and breast cancer fundraisers. Apparently Underwood got a lot of heat for that and it factored into his withdrawing from candidacy for the permanent presidency.

    So, yeah, when they said Beckwith had trouble getting tenure because he was pro-life, that wasn’t just a lie–it was anti-truth.

  32. miliukov says

    hey hey hey — DON’T KNOCK REFLEXOLOGY PZ!!!!

    I go in at least twice a week, and boy-oh-boy, do my little tootsies feel fine afterwards. The old guy keeps mumbling in Chinese, but, hey, I don’t speak that foreign weirdo stuff.

    From Singapore…

  33. Millimeter Wave says

    oh no, not again…

    What I think is a more general observation is that engineers can become cranks of all sorts. And a more general hypotheses for that crankhood would be that engineers are trained (at least at work) to quickly overview and make enough sense of new areas of technology or practice. This is often enforced by enough testing to convince that the developed technology is working, but not that the ideas behind necessarily are correct. When that quickly-but-enough-and-it-seems-to-work attitude is set loose on other areas of human interest, it can easily get ugly.

    I know everybody is going to jump on me as the touchy engineer getting all sensitive again, but I can’t help but respond to this.

    Yes, I’m an engineer, and maybe I work with some outlier group of engineers (about 6,000 of them at my site), but I don’t recognize this characterization. What strikes me about this description is the lack of any analysis of where these “new areas of technology” actually come from in the first place. This description assumes that they just appear from somewhere and engineers are tasked with merely assimilating and applying them. What I personally observe is engineers producing those new areas of technology.

  34. Craig says

    “Oh yes”, he answered, “and know what? Some of those vials have bad auras too!”

    I love it!
    My sister convinced me to try her chiropractor… one day I spotted a little metal rod with a 9-volt battery attached to it on a shelf while waiting.

    The “doc” came in, saw me with it and explained that he has a man make them for him – said they prevent colds. Explained that by holding it the current kills the viruses “and their eggs!”

    I was speechless.

  35. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Millimeter:
    Having original training and worked as an engineer, this is the model I formed by observing myself and others. I have produced quite a number of cranky ideas myself (this model is one of them :-), except perhaps not being too cranky in pushing them or when proved wrong.

    For me, it is even part of engineer-fu to have hubris towards problems. That is another model I like – I’m sorry if I trigger pet peeves of yours. (And if I’m wrong in either case I have to face the fact that my displays of crankiness and hubris are personal flaws instead of collective traits. So you have to work against some pretty strong incentives here. :-) :-) :-)

    “What strikes me about this description is the lack of any analysis of where these “new areas of technology” actually come from in the first place.”

    I don’t see why you say so since I described the development of new technology, and frankly I have a hard time reading your interpretation into what I tried to say.

  36. Millimeter Wave says

    I don’t see why you say so since I described the development of new technology, and frankly I have a hard time reading your interpretation into what I tried to say.

    I was referring to this:

    …engineers are trained (at least at work) to quickly overview and make enough sense of new areas of technology or practice.

  37. RavenT says

    For me, it is even part of engineer-fu to have hubris towards problems.

    Engineer-fu—I am so totally going to steal that, Torbj√ɬ∂rn. :)

    My mentor once told me that my best trait was my fearlessness about approaching new problems beyond my training and experience. My worst trait, he continued, was my fearlessness about approaching new problems beyond my training and experience.

  38. Flex says

    Torbj√ɬ∂rn Larsson, wrote, “For me, it is even part of engineer-fu to have hubris towards problems.”

    I always felt that the defining characteristic of an engineer is that an engineer will look at any item/task/problem and say to him/herself, “I know how to make it better!”

    Often they are wrong, but they never lack the belief that they are right. (Until they test their design and something goes horribly arwy.)

    Oh, for the record, I am an automotive engineer.

    Cheers,

    -Flex

  39. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Millimeter:
    Hmm. Perhaps. I read that as that they can overview, make sense, work and develop in these new areas. But I’m biased for that reading. ;-)

    RavenT:
    You had a very wise teacher. (Because I feel that is close to my point. :-)

    Sure, steal ahead, I’m operating under OSW (Open Source Wetware – it means for example that I shed skin cells with DNA at times, for free) and of course I stole the idea in my turn.

    Flex:
    :-)

    And for engineers in training, we have the adage “This equipment is absolutely foolproof. Only a student can break it.” Repairing or replacing burned electronics or fuses was a permanent hazzle when I was a course assistant later on… But at least they learned.