Josh Rosenau summarizes the Gonzalez affair:
This whole song and dance is too absurd for words. Gonzalez had a poor record of grant-writing, a poor record of graduating students, limited telescope time, and his record of publication tailed off since he started working on his ID creationist book. He even submitted that book as part of his tenure file, yet he and the DI are shocked (shocked!) that his department would consider his ID work. At the very least they are shocked (shocked?) that his colleagues were unenthusiastic about that work.
They talk the talk of wanting “fairness”, but it’s all one-sided: they only want positive recognition of any old nonsense they might spout, but when anyone criticizes their rationalizations, oh, no…you are being ‘biased’.
Ray S. says
Yet another irony: One of their code words for infiltrating the schools is to teach critical thinking skills while they apparently missed that lesson themselves.
They can’t have it both ways. If ID is really a scientific idea, then they have to be open to the possibility that this or that defender of it is BAD at it: that their arguments don’t hold up, that their work is crap. They cannot simply jump right into calling ANY criticism an act of religious bias. After all, it’s not like just because someone thinks evolution is true that they will get tenure anywhere, or any respect. Countless evolutionary ideas have been laughed out of the academy, and many deservedly.
And yet that’s pretty much the MO here, and in Expelled!: not even really a mention of the actual criticisms of any actual arguments, except in the most vague and simplistic form. Just the simple equation that criticism of someone’s ID arguments = religious discrimination.
Which is it guys? You’ve got to decide.
Midwestern Gent says
I’m sure this has come up in another thread on this, but isn’t the idea of an astronomer writing a book on what is supposed to be biology ridiculous in itself (meaning no disrespect to astronomers). If I’m trying to get tenure in the history department, my spending time and energy on a tome about mathematics surely doesn’t help my case.
The ‘Expelled’ movie is looking more and more likely to be the most pointless waste of film-stock ever. Is this really the rallying cry of their movement – a few whining third-raters who can’t accept that they are not the best candidates for tenure. Do they actually realize how difficult it is to get tenure? Do they think that all you have to do is say ‘Hail Darwin, my granny was an ape’ and you have a job and research funds for life?
Given that Gonzalez seems to have fallen short in practically every area, one wonders whether he could actually have thought he had a chance of qualifying for tenure in the first place. Could it have been a DI setup from the word go?
Did I somehow miss the post where PZ finally sees “Expelled”? I’ve been waiting for that…
I await their next move when they protest that the Darwinistic cabal, otherwise known as the Nobel panel, have yet again overlooked the DIs star researcher, Casey Luskin, for this years Medicine prize.
PZ Myers says
I haven’t seen Expelled. What, do you think I am going to get an advanced screening?
Latest word, though, is that the release date has been pushed back from February to late spring.
The notion that science is too complex for some people to understand.
Do you mean it is no longer going to timed to be a protest against Darwin’s birthday?
By that definition, intelligent design is proof of intelligent design.
Has the DI mentioned Comer at all?
Will the DI mention Comer?
Have I asked the dumbest question in history?
Yeah, I thought so…
“Do you mean it is no longer going to timed to be a protest against Darwin’s birthday?”
If you have watched the various clips from the movie available so far and seen some of Ben Steins interviews you can’t have failed to notice that they have completely fallen over the line that separates church and state. They are quite explicit in promoting ID as a religious theory – and in a way that I would have thought that the DI would have tried its best to avoid, given the legal kicking they got at Dover. Perhaps the DI has put its foot down and asked for the religious stuff to be toned down, necessitating a lengthy trip back to the editing room? Just a thought.
“They cannot simply jump right into calling ANY criticism an act of religious bias. After all, it’s not like just because someone thinks evolution is true that they will get tenure anywhere”
Say it ain’t so! I thought that was all it took.
Penn Jillette sums it up perfectly: “There is no god, and that’s the simple truth. If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing was passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it out again….Evolution is the truth. And with truth comes
a lack of panic….The bad guys always have to fight for their ideas to be taught. They must cheat. Government force, propaganda, and hype are the tools you desperately need when you’re wrong. Truth abides.”
That last bit describes the DI perfectly: bad guys who use government force, propaganda, and hype, because that’s all that they have. They don’t have facts or truth on their side.
a) that’s a fallacy
b) that is, indeed, the typical argument for “intelligent design”. ID always argues that systems are too complicated to have arisen by chance, and yet the arguments typically reach some point of “gosh, (system x) is really, really complicated, and I’m stummped so it must be divine intervention”.
Wait a minute?! Gonzalez actually submitted his ID book as part of his promotion package?
If that is true, then he is even a bigger idiot than I thought. OF COURSE they are going to discuss the content/validity of that work! The scientific merits of the work are absolutely a consideration in a promotion/tenure case! If he put his ID work up for consideration, then he can’t complain that it was considered.
So much for the “he should be judged on his contributions to astronomy” nonsense. HE was the one who asked to be judged on his ID contribution.
Assuming all this is true. I have a hard time believing someone could be that dumb.
Whoops! I thought that Expelled was already out… Forgive me, I’m always buried in a pile of new music releases– the last movie I saw in a theater was Episode III.
Mark Plus says
Penn Jillette: “If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it out again.”
This describes mathematical reality even more than scientific reality. Otherwise you have trouble explaining how mathematicians can independently discover the same ideas. For example, a Japanese mathematician named Seki Kōwa, who lived contemporarily with Newton & Leinbiz in the West, apparently discovered ideas similar to theirs and nearly invented the calculus on his own. Yet in that era, Japan and Western Europe might as well have existed on separate planets. Newton & Leibniz knew of each other’s work and argued over priority, but the Japanese fellow couldn’t possibly have heard of either.
However, Japan and Western Europe had profoundly divergent religious ideas at the time, showing that these beliefs arise through contingent historical accidents, unlike mathematical ideas.
I think he should be allowed to continue at ISU.
If he doesn’t get tenure, I may never learn what the absence or presence of extra-terrestrials in our galaxy has to do with Christian teaching.
I need answers! Only Guillermo can provide them!
Ryan F Stello says
I was sure they were done with editing by the time this came up. Now, I wouldn’t doubt if they want to talk about poor Mr. Gonzo. It’s just too tantalizing.
Wow, thanks for the link, CalGeorge. If I were an astronomer considering whether to give Gonzalez tenure, I’d have to ponder deeply passages he wrote like this:
Perhaps that’s what happened to Jodie Foster in Contact — she was grabbed by fallen angels.
This guy writes this, and then seriously expects to get tenure in an astronomy department?
Glen Davidson says
So, that makes an even longer period in which they’ll rail at all of the persecution of the poor IDiots without even pretending to supply evidence, while complaining that PZ and the rest of us who tackle their various pre-release lies haven’t even seen the film.
Well yah, Stein, we haven’t seen it. We have this process on our side, however, which is called “thought,” and it is able to warn us (and others) that those using a host of BS about Nazism and trumped-up injuries revolving around Sternberg and Gonzales are unlikely to produce an honest and meaningful film.
But of course it is totally unfair for us to think, when they can’t.
Ed Darrell says
Ric: Pedant that I am, I’d love a citation for that Penn Jillette quote.
Ed, it’s quoted in McGowan’s “Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion.”
The gulf between an author of wit and their intended audience. :)
Speaking of appropriate quotes, here’s one that I read a long time ago and haven’t been able to find since:
Those who wish to drink at the water-hole of scientific respectability must be willing to risk the lions.
It’s probably a paraphrase, but if anyone recognizes the analogy, I’d love to be reminded of the source.
Dennis Hamon says
“…they only want positive recognition of any old nonsense they might spout, but when anyone criticizes their rationalizations, oh, no…you are being ‘biased’.”
Yep, DI’s post-trial accusations against Judge Jones was a rather nauseating example of their concept of “fairness”.
That would probably be a lot harder for someone like Barbara Forrest to track than individually saved versions of a book.
The Discovery Institute is like the Paris Hilton of education:
They love the attention they get as the ‘victim’ of the liberal media and academia but as soon as they get the negative attention they so rightly deserve, they call in their lawyers and refuse to pay attention to the reason they are being mocked.
Sergeant Zim says
The Disco ‘tute keeps harping that they want schools to teach the weak points of the ToE along with the strong (and include ID as well, of course).
I say we accommodate them, allow both to be taught PROVIDED that ID is given the same scrutiny. Do they REALLY think ID can stand up to the rigors of scientific testing and validation, not to mention rules of evidence?
ISTM that post-Dover they’ve almost completely given up the pretense of not being a religious movement.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Thanks for the quote and link Ric.
Bryson Brown says
ad 31: The trouble is that we don’t have enough actual instruction time in science– given unlimited time and resources, an excursion into demonstrating how empty ID is and how weak the ID ‘critique’ of evolution is would make perfect sense. But as it is, there’s barely time to introduce students to the basics of biology; doing this right should be an effective defense, since knowing a little biology makes evolution obvious to all but the most ideologically blinkered.
Doug Rozell says
RE: #31, #34: RE: teaching ID alongisde evo to the same rigorous criteria of real theory. Ought to be simple, really. “Goddidit. Any questions? Next!”
Sorry Sargent Zim. There is simply no time in Science classes to ‘treat the controversy.’ Such things may will fit into philosophy classes or even an abject lesson of ‘what isn’t’ in a philosophy of science course. I, personally cannot waste an insect morphology lecture discounting ID, or systematic entomology lecture discounting YECs. Sargent Zim, Heinlein reference(?) back to the catacombs and return the ‘royalty’ for there is no ‘royal road’ to science. [bastardization of a Sargent Zim mini-adventure from Starship Troopers.
>Penn Jillette: “If all of science were wiped out, it would still be >true and someone would find a way to figure it out again.”
If you consider history or philosophy science they
would likely fail that test too. Not even talking about literature
At least I would be sad if history wouldn’t be considered science
Even in the hard sciences there are fads too. e.g. would Lysenkoism
or the world ice theory or alchemism be figured out again? While they were clearly a blind alley they were all part of the history of
nn, I don’t think that was quite Penn’s point, at least if I understand you right. Certainly the history of science might not duplicate itself if all of science were wiped out, but the ultimate scientific conclusions, at least the ones that have withstood rigorous testing, would easily be duplicable.
The “truths” of religion, however, would be different every time history was replayed.
Ric, I meant generic history or philosophy, not necessarily related
to the history of science.
Also if it only applies to “ultimate scientific conclusions” how
many of them are there really? I fear a lot of science done
on universities today would not qualify.
I have a hard time considering history as science, but that’s probably my hard-science bias. On the other hand, philosophy is certainly not science (though there are areas of it that come close) — you’ll notice universities stick philosophy in their “humanities” bloc.
>I have a hard time considering history as science,
Not even archaeology? Given modern history sometimes borders to
sociology which I also find quite dubious, but classical historicans or prehistoricans do a lot of good hard scientific work imho. Of course there are limits to their knowledge, but a lot of other areas have that too.
 I follow Rutherford on that. He said sociology always has only one conclusion: “Some do and some don’t”
Somehow, I am of the impression the makers of Expelled might just postpone the movie indefinitely on the pretense that the “Evil Darwinists” are suppressing their movie, leaking out only bits and pieces here and there to keep the impression alive. It strikes me as the kind of deceptive tactics the DI or another creationist organization might well use.
Ray S. says
I think Penn’s comment was regarding a thought experiment where many earthlike planets would be allowed to develop. In each, 1 + 1 would still equal two and hydrogen and oxygen would still form water, but the truths of revealed religion would be very different. Evolution would still be true although the resulting life forms would likely be very different. The history written on each would be very different, though the methods used to examine history would likely be similar.
‘Ultimate scientific conclusions’ is probably a poor phrase to reflect the results of scientific inquiry. As science is merely an attempt to examine reality and provide predictive capabilities regarding reality, there wouldn’t be any difference, other than nomenclature, unless reality is different the next time around. Of course science is perpetually incomplete; we may make new discoveries at any time which require the modification of our theories or even complete replacement. Nn, are you considering ‘ultimate scientific conclusions’ to be only those that will not change? Is that why you seem to doubt that there are more than a few? I’m curious as to what you think is being done in university science labs if it is not producing new scientific conclusions.
Ray S. @ 43: It might depend on what the meaning of “earthlike” is.
One simple difference, say a constant planetwide light cloud cover, enough to obscure the stars, and how could astronomy ever develop?
How long would other ideas be delayed or disadvantaged as a result — the shape of the planet (affecting geology), timekeeping, navigation — whole areas of physics, geometry, and mathematics?
Just the inability to study planetary orbits would hamper an understanding of gravity; the inverse-square-of-distance variable wouldn’t come up if the only examples visible were local objects falling to the ground.
Even without cloud cover, what if that planet’s sun has no other planets and there are no moons?
RickD @ 16:
I think you missed the point. Let’s unpack that a bit:
The existence of the “Intelligent Design” movement is proof that science is too complex for some people to understand.
Now does that previous comment make sense?
Keith Douglas says
(Ironically, some of the work in sociology of religion seems much more rigorous and scientific than what passes for most of the sociology of science.)
As for philosophy, the way I view it as a staging area at the border of other fields, including many sciences. The problem with being a staging area is of course all the crap at the OTHER edge – and not at the frontier of art, either.