They have secret meetings?

Creationists are so far from being scientists that I’m frequently astounded at just how unaware they are — surely, if you’re being that crazy, you’ve got to realize that what you’re doing is nothing like what scientists do, right? I guess when you’re that nuts you don’t even know it.

The Intelligent Design creationists have been having a secret meeting in Italy, where they claim to be challenging Darwinian orthodoxies. Well, semi-secret: they brought in David Berlinski’s daughter to pretend to be a “journalist” and throw gentle little softballs in youtube interviews, but many of the attendees are anonymous, the meeting program is not available, and the place is stocked with devotees of religious orthodoxy who are singularly clueless about science. What it really is is a great big creationist circle jerk where everyone is free to say stupid things and not have one of those annoying evidence-based scientists in the audience asking difficult questions, and also avoid real journalists who might publicly expose their inanity.

Jeff Shallit has gleaned a little information about what’s going on at this ‘conference’ by looking at who is willing to be interviewed: it’s the usual Discovery Institute suspects. For example, this video of Paul Nelson is so revealing: everyone else in camera range fled lest they be exposed, and he’s got his excuse. They’re afraid of reprisals from the Darwinist mullahs! This is such an unhealthy situation! Dissenters are intimidated and their careers threatened!

Yes, their careers are in danger, because disciplines that value rigor and evidence and science are not going to be impressed at all by deluded cowards who hide in closets and whisper oft-debunked stupidities at one another. If you’ve got the goods, stand and deliver; show us your evidence, explain your reasoning, persuade people who disagree with you with the strength of your argument. They can’t, so they scurry off to picturesque villas in Tuscany, shoo away those difficult criticisms, and sit and reassure each other that they are very clever indeed while mangling information theory and biology.

My favorite quote from Darwin’s Origin is so appropriate here.

It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the “plan of creation” or “unity of design,” &c., and to think that we give an explanation when we only restate a fact. Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject the theory. A few naturalists, endowed with much flexibility of mind, and who have already begun to doubt the immutability of species, may be influenced by this volume; but I look with confidence to the future, to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality. Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction; for thus only can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed.

There was an orthodoxy in Darwin’s time, too, and it was the dogma of creationism. Darwin’s advice to young scientists was to conscientiously express their convictions, and to get out and publish, publish, publish their observations. That’s how science progresses, by wrestling with disagreement and confronting it with evidence and experiment.

Creationists do the opposite. They must, because their ideas have already been met and dismissed as wrong.