Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Around the Blogs Reed Cartwright has this excellent post up about the ID conference report I described in yesterday's blog entry. Like all creationists, the ID folks are fond of credential-mongering. In this regard they routinely point to Dr. Henry Schaefer, a chemist at the University of Georgia and supporter of ID. Schaefer is routinely described in ID promotional literature as a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize. Cartwright, a graduate student at Georgia, points out that this is a questionable accolade. Here's a sample:

The idea the Schaefer has been nominated five-times comes from a U.S. News and World Report story from December 23, 1991. That’s right; the authority for Schaefer’s near-Nobel-laureate credentials is the speculation of a weekly news magazine. Not what I’d consider ironclad enough to state as a sure thing.

It is very interesting to watch the evolution of the description of Schaefer’s credentials, as I once did through some googling. Before Schaefer tossed his “weight” into the ID ring, the descriptions of him correctly noted that the five nominations were speculations by US News and World Report. However, as he began to be cited more and more by anti-evolutionists, the source of the five nomination claim was stripped off and their speculated existence became an actual existence. Credential inflating is often used by anti-evolution activists who rely on misplaced appeals to authority to support their anti-scientific agendas.

I am at the same university as Schaefer, and we have the honor of having a world class evolutionary biology program. However, despite Schaefer’s apparent interest in evolution, given his relationship with the anti-evolution movement, I have never seen him at any of our evolutionary biology seminars, which involve major scientists of the discipline. In actually, he is nothing but a devoutly religious and conservative chemistry professor who has no professional experience in evolutionary biology and, as far as I can tell, takes absolutely no advantage of the resources the campus has in the discipline. His objections to evolution are nothing but religiously motivated incredulity.

Please note that Cartwright's excellent blog, De Rerum Natura, has been added to my list of favorite blogs.

Pharyngula also comments on the Biola ID conference with a characteristically clear-headed post. He bases his post on this description of the conference by ID supporter Lee Strobel. Pharyngula has a slightly different take on the idea of an ID lab than I presented yesterday:

The claim of "scientific advances that have pointed more and more toward a Creator"...that's a plain and simple lie. No such advances have occurred. The idea that the DI will "create a laboratory"...dubious at best. They don't have any people who do research, and people are the first and most important element in a lab. I predict that their "lab" will be a room with a computer hooked up to the internet.

As for the claim that "There is a lot of good science in the pipeline"—true, but misleading. None of the good science is coming from the Intelligent Design camp, and it's all putting the creationists to shame

Of course, I'm sure Pharyngula is right about this. My remark that the creation of an ID lab was probably a good thing was intended ironically.

Strobel, incidentally, is the author of The Case for Faith and The Case for Christ. I have read both books and am still an atheist. Enough said. I'm not optimistic about his more recent book The Case for a Creator.

Finally, Stranger Fruit also weighs in with some thoughts on the ID conference:

Just as well, because there has been bugger all in the five plus years since the Wedge was launched. Remember the key scientific research objective from the Wedge document?

“One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows”

Still waiting. Search the scientific citation indices for works by Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Wells, Nelson et al. for primary research that explicitly supports ‘design’ or even tests design as a null hypothesis. Have one beer for every paper you find. Come back here. You’ll be stone-cold sober.

It’s worth pointing out that some of their other objective have been met - “Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications” and “Significant coverage in national media”. Indeed they even have had some success in making “states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory”. Just no science.


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