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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scientists' open letter attacks Ohio school board candidate

A New York Times article describes an open letter from Case Western Reserve University scientists that attacks Ohio Board of Education candidate Deborah Owens Fink.

The bias of the article is immediately apparent. For example, the article says,

Elsewhere in Ohio, scientists have also been campaigning for candidates who support the teaching of evolution and have recruited at least one biologist from out of state to help.

The above statement implies that Owens Fink and some other candidates are opposed to the teaching of evolution. This is not the case -- Owens Fink and some other candidates are not opposed to the teaching of evolution but want to include a critical analysis of evolution in the curriculum. The above statement would have been more correct to say that scientists have been campaigning for candidates who are opposed to including a critical analysis of evolution in the curriculum.

The NY Times article also states opinions as though they were facts, e.g.,

Although researchers may argue about its details, the theory of evolution is the foundation for modern biology, and there is no credible scientific challenge to it as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth.

My replies to the above statement are in Darwinism is grossly overrated, Darwinism is grossly overrated II, and Darwinism is grossly overrated III.

Red State Rabble has a complete copy of the scientists' letter, which says,

Current Board Member Deborah Owens Fink has referred to the National Academy of Science, the nation’s most prestigious scientific body, as “a group of so-called scientists”, and more generally to all scientists as a “dogmatic community”.

So she called them names -- so what? She has probably been called everything in the book.

According to the NY Times article, she did not specifically remember calling the NAS "a group of so-called scientists": "Dr. Owens Fink . . . said the letter was probably right to say she had dismissed it as 'a group of so-called scientists.' 'I may have said that, yeah,' she said."

The scientists' letter said,
During her tenure on the State School Board she has continued to sideline important issues associated with improving public education in her effort to debase and distort the teaching of science in high schools while attempting to cast controversy on biological evolution in favor of an ill-defined notion called Intelligent Design that courts have ruled is religion, not science.

ID was not part of the Ohio evolution lesson plan that the Ohio Board of Education deleted in February. ID is specifically the idea that some biological systems are too complex to have evolved solely by what we consider to be natural means -- there was nothing about that in the lesson plan and in fact the lesson plan expressly denied that teaching ID was one of its purposes.

Also, I have seen no evidence that she "sidelined" other important issues or that she tried to "debase and distort" the teaching of science in general.

And ID was ruled to be religion by a single judge, not "courts."

. . .our views thus reflect the views of the majority of the science community in Northeast Ohio

Case Western Reserve University has a minority of the scientists in Northeastern Ohio.

This letter is full of lies.

I don't see what these scientists are bellyaching about. Millions of tax dollars per year are spent on evolution research. For example, scientists get public funding for fossil hunts that could turn out to be wild goose chases. And there is no evidence that fossil hunting produces technological spinoffs of benefit to the public -- the fossil hunts mostly just pursue knowledge for knowledge's sake.

Scientists who argue that criticisms of Darwinism are absurd ought to put their money-grubbing mitts where their mouths are by signing a pledge to never accept one dime of research money for anything that directly addresses those criticisms, e.g., research into determining the evolvability of irreducibly complex biological systems.

For more info on the situation in Ohio, just enter "Ohio" in the search window in the top border of the blog screen. You must be scrolled to the very top to see this window.

=================================================

Dear National Science Foundation,

I would like a grant of one billion dollars for a research program to show that criticisms of my theory are so ridiculous that they are not even worthy of consideration.

Sincerely,

Prof. Charles Darwin

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Voice In The Urbanness said...

> The above statement would have been more correct to say that scientists have been campaigning for candidates who are opposed to including a critical analysis of evolution in the curriculum. <

False. They are campaigning for candidates who do not want to mix superstition with science.

> The NY Times article also states opinions as though they were facts <

As do you.

> "and there is no credible scientific challenge to it as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth." <

Correct. Note the word "credible". If there were credible challenges, why have you not presented them rather than just whining that scientists have been unfair to witch doctors?

Sunday, October 29, 2006 7:41:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

The NY Times article also states ...

Although researchers may argue about its details, the theory of evolution is the foundation for modern biology, and there is no credible scientific challenge to it as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth.

Amazing.

Even the NY Times can get it right occasionally. LOL!

Sunday, October 29, 2006 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< Dear National Science Foundation,

I would like a grant of one billion dollars for a research program to show that criticisms of my theory are so ridiculous that they are not even worthy of consideration.

Sincerely,

Prof. Charles Darwin
>

Um, Larry(?), you do realize that this is self-referentially self-contradictory, don't you?

Oh. I guess not. Ouch.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 7:56:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said --
>>>>> Even the NY Times can get it right occasionally. <<<<<<

VIU said --
>>>>Correct. Note the word "credible". <<<<<

You stupid fatheads, this is a news article -- it is not an editorial or op-ed piece. Would it be that hard for the reporter to go through the motions of being impartial?

A lot of good evidence has been thrown out of court because the rules of evidence were not followed.

The NY Times article said --
Although researchers may argue about its details, the theory of evolution is the foundation for modern biology

Among those "details" are the driving forces behind evolution -- a lot of scientists question the notion that evolution was driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection.

There is nothing more basic to biology than taxonomy, but traditional Linnaean taxonomy, which is still popular, does not use evolution theory at all -- evolution theory is used in cladistic taxonomy, which is a relatively recent development. One reference says,

The Linnaean system is still used in some branches of biology. But in other branches, and particularly in vertebrate paleontology, it is rapidly being replaced by a system referred to as cladistics or phylogenetic systematics. Cladistics was invented by the German entomologist Hennig in the 1950s

Also, cladistic taxonomy was not introduced until about a hundred years after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species.

So how can evolution theory be the "foundation" of modern biology?

Also, I am wondering -- why is there such a big discrepancy between acceptance of evolution by scientists and acceptance of evolution by the general public? This is not rocket science -- the general public is quite capable of understanding evolution presented in plain English (not the unintelligible, vague, high-falutin gobbledygook often used by scientists when discussing evolution). Also, a formal opinion poll showed that large percentages of physicians are skeptical of evolution theory, and this also needs some explaining.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 1:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Would it be that hard for the reporter to go through the motions of being impartial? <

It shouldn't be that difficult, but few current newspaper reporters even attempt it.

> So how can evolution theory be the "foundation" of modern biology? <

A lot of things developed recently have much older foundations.

> why is there such a big discrepancy between acceptance of evolution by scientists and acceptance of evolution by the general public? <

I have also wondered why the public is so thick. It appears that a significant number of them believe, like you, that the moon landings were faked, that UFOs are signs of extraterrestrials (although few seem to believe, as you do, that they produce the Los Angeles Times), and that the earth is only a few thousand years old. A significant number of the younger generation believe that we fought against the Russians in WWII.

> the general public is quite capable of understanding evolution presented in plain English <

But it is often attacked by creationists using unintelligible, vague, high-falutin gobbledygook.

> Also, a formal opinion poll showed that large percentages of physicians are skeptical of evolution theory <

I would bet that a large percentage of shoemakers are skeptical of quantum theory.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 1:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief. Fink was an open creationist at one point: the idea that she isn't pushing that same agenda now is truly bizarre. Her "criticial analysis" proposals were nothing more than a bunch of long ago debunked claims made by the ID movement.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 2:25:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> Fink was an open creationist at one point: the idea that she isn't pushing that same agenda now is truly bizarre. <<<<<<

Many Southern politicians who were segregationists at one point managed to stay in office later by changing their agendas.

>>>>>> Her "criticial analysis" proposals were nothing more than a bunch of long ago debunked claims made by the ID movement. <<<<<

The proposals weren't "hers" -- they came from a committee. And as I said, there was nothing about ID in the critical analysis of evolution lesson plan.

It would be better for the students to find out now about the weaknesses of Darwinism than find out later and be disillusioned.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 3:10:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

> I have also wondered why the public is so thick. <

The state of education in the U.S. is cause for great concern.

Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, writes as follows in a letter I received recently:

"Consider the dismal results of a recent survey of 14,173 college freshmen and seniors at 50 American colleges. ... (T)he survey covered four areas: American history, government, America and the world, and the market economy.

"Overall, college freshmen scored 51.7 percent, while seniors scored 53.2 percent. After four expensive years of college, wouldn't one expect seniors to score higher than an "F"? Here is how poorly they fared: 53.4 percent did not know the century in which Jamestown was settled*, 55.4 percent did not know that the battle of Yorktown brought the American Revolution to an end; 72.8 percent could not identify the First Amendment as the source of the idea of a constitutional separation between church and state; 49.4 percent did not know the Federalist Papers supported the ratification of the U.S. Constitution; and more than 75 percent did not know the purpose of the Monroe Doctrine! ...

"Higher education is in a state of crisis. Our future leaders are not learning history, civics, or economics. They are not learning math and science. Even their literacy leaves much to be desired. Meanwhile, college costs continue to spiral out of control. ..."

* BTW, I know "1607" without looking it up.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 3:16:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

Good grief -- I wonder if those were multiple choice questions??!

Sunday, October 29, 2006 3:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Urbanness said...

> It would be better for the students to find out now about the weaknesses of Darwinism than find out later and be disillusioned. <

Aren't they more likely to be disillusioned if ID and other forms of superstition are taught as science?

Sunday, October 29, 2006 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In The Urbanness said...

>>>>>> It would be better for the students to find out now about the weaknesses of Darwinism than find out later and be disillusioned. <

Aren't they more likely to be disillusioned if ID and other forms of superstition are taught as science? <<<<<<<

Maybe most students want to hear both sides and decide for themselves.

How come we have heard little or nothing from those most affected by this debate -- the students themselves?

Sunday, October 29, 2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> How come we have heard little or nothing from those most affected by this debate -- the students themselves? <

Perhaps they have better things to do with their time? This is a debate more suited to retirees, like me, and the unemployed, like you.

Monday, October 30, 2006 8:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should have the students debate whether time dilation exists. They could hear both sides and then with their vast intellectual skills they could vote on how the universe works.

Or maybe, students should learn how the universe works first. Then they can spend their time debating topics that are actually debatable. Like which Simpson sister would you most hate to be locked in a small room with for a week?

Suggesting that high school students have the slightest knowledge or qualifications to decide how reality works simply demonstrates that you're not really sure on the details yourself.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 9:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Like which Simpson sister would you most hate to be locked in a small room with for a week? <

Dunno; least hate would be Jessica ... ;-)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 11:36:00 PM  

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