Saturday, October 08, 2005

Pride and Prejudice?

*The following is a piece that I've been working on for some time. As an inaugural piece for this blog, it is quite long though my hope is that it will be informative for readers. Future postings will be decidedly much more brief.


What is Science? That’s the central question at the very heart of the debate surrounding the legitimacy of Intelligent Design. According to theorist of science JP Siepman, editor of the Journal of Theoretics , Science is … "the field of study which attempts to describe and understand the nature of the universe in whole or part." According to Siepman, science, simply put, is defined as the study of the empirical world that attempts to make the best sense out of our universe. [Source: http://www.journaloftheoretics.com/Editorials/Vol-1/e1-3.htm
] Since the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859; however, the scientific community as a whole has become increasingly entrenched in methodological naturalism (the belief that science is only defined and confined to materialistic and naturalistic causes.) In the mind of the naturalist, any cause or method, which does not conform to this definition of science, is summarily rejected out of hand as "pseudoscience." As long as material explanations suffice, any predators that might threaten the habitat of the naturalist are non-existent.

What happens though if the proponderance of empirical evidence … coming to us from across multiple disciplines … keeps suggesting over and over again that our universe and life on this little blue marble is astronomically highly unlikely without an Intelligent Designer? If science is the study of the total spectrum of empirical data in our universe … is it truly scientific to merely keep those findings that support a particular theory and subsequently ignore, discard, or suppress those findings that might question it? If we adopt Siepman’s definition of science, science is the search for truth no matter where the evidence leads … and no matter what the conclusions are. If this is truly the nature of what science is, then the question we must naturally ask ourselves is whether or not the current atmosphere of science fosters such a search for truth.

Recently, the subject of Intelligent Design has been the subject of much controversy and press (including Time’s recent cover story entitled "Evolution Wars." [ Link to Article: http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1090909,00.html ] Opponents of Intelligent Design contend that there is no controversy and that perfectly logical naturalistic and materialistic causes suffice to explain even the most perplexing phenomena. Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin, commenting on the Intelligent Design controversy recently, explains the current mentality and dilemma that exists in the greater scientific community …

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to understanding the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for the unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. Materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door."

Russian biologist Vladimir L. Voeikov in apparent agreement with those sentiments, states:

"The ideology and philosophy of neo-Darwinism, which is sold by its adepts as a scientific theoretical foundation of biology, seriously hampers the development of science and hides from students the field's real problems."
Source:
http://www.davidlimbaugh/.com/mt/archives/2005/08/new_column_the_5.html

Advocates for Intelligent Design have long contended that a strong and often hostile bias exists in the scientific community against a belief in design and towards materialism and a Darwinian understanding of Evolution. After discovering ancient bacteria in China recently (a finding that casts doubt on Darwin’s theory), scientist Jian Yuan Chan noted on the political implications of his discovery: "In China, we can criticize Darwin, but we cannot criticize the government. In the US you can criticize the government, but you cannot criticize Darwin." [ Source: http://www.americandaily.com/article/7913 ] Critics of Darwin’s theory claim, that in the heavily naturalistic environment of the scientific community, they are viewed as quaint John Savages, isolated exiles in this Brave New World. Does such an atmosphere of such bias actually exist? Are scientific criticisms of naturalism, materialism, and Darwinian theory permissible? Being a skeptic at heart, I decided to examine the evidence for myself to determine whether or not such evidence actually exists.

Cross Examining the Witnesses …
As a student of human nature, I’ve generally found that most people tend to take evidence at face value … rarely bothering to consider the sources behind where that information comes from. Like Nietzsche’s herd, people tend to gorge themselves upon those sources that have the appearance of being authoritative, only rarely stopping to consider the true value of what they are grazing upon. One battleground where the debate over design has been most intensely fought is over the internet. As I’ve observed those battles, I’ve noticed that a great majority of those internet users who oppose the theory of Intelligent Design tend to draw their scientific conclusions from a few selected sources. In the interest of exploration of motives, let’s turn on the electron microscope and take a closer peek at some of these sites …

Undoubtedly the three most popular sites on the web are Panda’s Thumb, TalkReason, and Talkorigins. …
For those people who find themselves most committed to current Evolutionary theory, Panda’s Thumb [ http://www.pandasthumb.org ]certainly fits the bill. A description of the Panda’s Thumb website reads as follows …

The Panda's Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the anti-evolutionary movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and enjoy good conversation.

A quick click on the http://www.ediacara link reveals that they are an Online university whose home is located at
darwin.ediacara.org.

While exploring the Panda’s Thumb website I happened to notice a link to EvoWiki, so decided to examine that as well. Clicking on the link to About EvoWiki reveals that …

The Evolution education wiki is a project inspired by Wikipedia and Talk.Origins.
http://www.wiki.cotch.net/index.php/EvoWiki:About

Under the goals section there, Nic Tamzek, a main contributing writer for Talk.Origins and Talkreason discusses EvoWiki’s goals. Tamzek fully admits that they are not value neutral and comments that they are limited to discussions surrounding what he refers to as "mainline science."
http://www.wiki.cotch.net/index.php/EvoWiki:Goals

Talkreason [ http://www.talkreason.org ] is another often cited source by proponents of Darwinian Evolution. Talkreason’s opening statement on its site reads …

This website presents a collection of articles which aim to defend genuine science [emphasis mine] from numerous attempts by the new crop of creationists to replace it with theistic pseudo-science under various disguises and names. Talk Reason is designed to provide a forum for articles arguing against modern creationism in all of its forms.

The "About Us" section of that site reveals the following statement …

TalkReason provides a forum for the publication of papers with well-thought out arguments against creationism, intelligent design, and religious apologetics. Papers whose goal is to promote creationism, Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity, the compatibility of the Bible with science, and religious apologetics, exegesis or papers arguing against established scientific theories such as the evolution theory will not be accepted.
http://www.talkreason.org/AboutUs.cfm

Hmmm. Not interested in scientific arguments against established scientific theories? Doesn’t sound much like an objective search for truth to me. Interestingly, if you click on the list of authors, you will find many of the exact same ones that write for both Panda’s Thumb and Talk.Origins. So, let’s take a look at Talk.Origins next.

If you visit the Talk.Origins website and click on the link to its foundation [ http://www.talkorigins.org/foundation/index.html ]
… you will come up with information about the foundation and will read …

The Talk.Origins Archive is this web site. It has been in existence for over a decade, providing mainstream scientific information about biological and physical origins. Wesley Elsberry is the Foundation's President, and John Wilkins is its Vice-President. Kenneth Fair is the Foundation's Secretary-Treasurer. The three of them are also the Foundation's initial directors.

At this time, the foundation does not have members (unlike say, the National Center For Science Education.) At some point, the fouundation may have members. We'll let you know.


Interesting. Wesley Elsberry, the President of Talk.Origins foundation, is also listed as a contributing writer at both TalkReason and Panda’s Thumb. Out of curiousity, I then decided to take a look at the bio of Mr. Elsberry. While surfing the ‘net I came across the following site detailing his vitae …

Wesley R. Elsberry is a biologist with an eclectic educational and work background. Wesley is a graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a B.S. in zoology, the University of Texas at Arlington where he earned an M.S.C.S. (computer science), and earned Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries at Texas A&M University. He has taught as adjunct faculty at Washington State University Tri-Cities. His work experience includes anesthesiology research, veterinary research, software design and production for military aircraft and logistics, and programming, electronics design, and data analysis in behavioral research. His area of research is dolphin biosonar sound production and bioenergetics. He is currently the Information Project Director for the National Center For Science Education. He is a co-author on peer-reviewed papers in the "Journal of Experimental Biology" and in "Biology and Philosophy". He received the Society for Marine Mammalogy's "Fairfield Memorial Award for Innovation in Marine Mammal Research" in 2001.
http://www.meta-library.net/bio/welsberry-body.html

Talk.Origins provides readers with "mainstream" scientific information about biological and physical origins. Hmmm. On their site, there appears to be a subtle endorsement of the National Center for Science Education … and the head of Talk.Origins happens to be the Information Project Director for the National Center for Science Education, eh? Earlier, I happened to notice that Nicholas Matzke, a writer for both Panda’s Thumb and TalkReason is listed on the Panda’s Thumb site as being a Public Information Project Specialist with the National Center for Science Education. Intriguing. So, what’s the National Center for Science Education all about?

Tse What? …
The National Center For Science Education (NCSE) is quite clear what they stand for. The mission statement of the NCSE reads as follows …

"NCSE is nonprofit, tax-exempt membership organization working to defend the teaching of evolution against sectarian religious attack. We are a nationally-recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and "scientific creationism" out. While there are organizations that oppose "scientific creationism" as part of their general goals (such as good science education, or separation of church and state), NCSE is the only national organization that specializes in this issue. When teachers, parents, school boards, the press and others need information and help, they turn to NCSE.
http://www.natcenscied.org/

[*Note, the NCSE has since revised their mission statement at the above link since the above version was accessed in April of 2005]

"To defend the teaching of Evolution against sectarian religious attack?!?" Hmmm. Pardon me for my skepticism … but that sure doesn’t sound like an organization committed to an unbiased and objective search for scientific truth. It sounds a lot more like the environment under a certain powerful Chinese revolutionary. Several logical premises appear to naturally flow from the above mission statement:

1. Darwinian Evolution is a scientifically supported and accepted fact.
2. Only that which supports the theory of Darwinian Evolution will be considered science.
3. That which does not support the theory of Darwinian Evolution will be ignored or attacked.
4. Those who hold the dissenting belief in an ID (esp. educators) will be basically discredited, tarred and feathered, and sat in the proverbial corner with a dunce cap.

In a recent appearance on NPR, Eugenie Scott, the organization’s Executive Director, strongly discouraged "real" scientists from publicly debating with advocates of ID. [link: http://uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/190 ] Phillip Johnson (who penned the now infamous Darwin on Trial) writes about the NCSE and Eugenie Scott …

Eugenie Scott is the "police chief" of the Darwinian establishment, charged with the duty of protecting Darwinism from the menace of public opinion. She heads an organization called the National Center for Science Education, which sounds like a government agency but is actually a purely private group, with lots of scientists on the letterhead but with Scott doing almost all the work. She likes to claim that she is a veritable David fighting the Goliath of creationism with limited resources, although of course Darwinism is promoted throughout the educational world with vast sums available from the United States Treasury, from state and local governments, and from private foundations. It’s as if David had not just a sling to fight with but also a few aircraft carriers, some nuclear missiles, and a huge propaganda factory.
http://www.arn.org/docs/pjweekly/pj_weekly_010625.htm

Michael Behe (author of Darwin’s Black Box), in response to an attack from Scott against him wrote …

Scott blames "frontier," "nonhierarchical" religions for the controversy in biology education in the United States. As a member of the decidedly hierarchical, mainstream Roman Catholic Church, I think a better candidate for blame is the policing of orthodoxy by the NCSE and others--abetting lawsuits to suppress discussion of truly open questions and decrying academic advocates of intelligent design for "organiz[ing] conferences" and "writ[ing] op-ed pieces and books." Among a lot of religious citizens, who aren't quite the yahoos evolutionists often seem to think they are, such activities raise doubts that the issues are being fairly presented, which might then cause some people to doubt the veracity of scientists in other areas too. Ironically, the activity of Scott and the NCSE might itself be promoting the mistrust of science they deplore.
http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_idisnotcreationism.htm

As would be naturally expected, among the listed supporters of the NCSE are many of the most outspoken opponents of Intelligent Design including Bruce Alberts, Francisco Ayala, Niles Eldridge, Douglas Futuyama, Stephen Gould (deceased 2002), Kenneth Miller, and Michael Ruse.
http://www.natcenscied.org/supporters.asp


In the News …

If an atmosphere of hostility and bias towards Intelligent Design does truly exist within the scientific community, then history should bear clear testimony of it. The following incidents appear to demonstrate a very clear and distinct pattern …

In 1993 …

… Steve Meyer wrote an interesting opinion piece, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal
in December of that year. Meyer discusses a controversy surrounding San Francisco State biology professor Dean Kenyon, a one-time leader in the search for the evolutionary chemical origins of life. Kenyon, who wrote THE authoritative work on the subject, "Biochemical Predestination" (1969) had believed that it was possible that chemicals could sequence themselves into DNA. Subsequent discoveries made by Kenyon and others cast doubt on whether or not simple compounds could in fact self-organize into complex long strings of meaningful genetic information … and so lead to the erosion of Kenyon’s belief in materialism around the late 1970s. Meyer’s opinion piece details not only the reasons behind Kenyon’s plummet from the Tree of Life … but also discusses attempts by biology department chair John Hafernik to actively suppress Kenyon’s teaching of those findings and views.

John Hafernik’s reponse along with a response from the NCSE’s Eugenie Scott to Meyer are attached to the link below. Hafernik’s response is to attempt to equate Kenyon’s teaching of Intelligent Design with "Creation Science," leaning heavily upon Judge Overton’s decision in the 1982 McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education ruling. [more: http://www.grisda.org/origins/08046.htm ] Opponents of ID often refer to Judge Overton's list of 5 criteria from that ruling of what legally defines science -- (Ironically, criteria that was proposed and formulated by Michael Ruse [One of ID's chief opponents] during that trial.) [more: http://www.arn.org/docs/dewolf/guidebook.htm ] Scott, in her response, doesn’t address the fundamental scientific issue at hand at all and also merely labels Kenyon’s teaching "creationism." Scott admits that while science may not have all the answers, they are nonetheless committed to materialism. Scott’s response would be commonly referred to as an argumentum ad ignoratum in scientific circles, with the self-evident nature of materialism a tautology.

Link to articles:
http://www.skepticfiles.org/evo2wsjcreat.htm


… At the Annual Meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in Boston at the symposium for "The New Antievolutionism," Staunch Evolutionary philosopher Michael Ruse was invited to speak on Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial. Expected to tear Johnson’s arguments apart … Ruse shocked everyone by pulling a 180 and actually conceding a critical main point of Johnson’s. Arthur Shapiro wrote a piece for the NCSE shortly afterwards entitled "Did Michael Ruse Give Away the Store?" Though it interestingly appears to no longer exist on the NCSE’s site … here is a couple of brief snippets from the complete transcript and a commentary found on another site …

I think that we should recognize, both historically and perhaps philosophically, certainly that the science side has certain metaphysical assumptions built into doing science, which -- it may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law -- but I think that in honesty that we should recognize, and that we should be thinking about some of these sorts of things.

Ruse jokingly (or perhaps not) told a stunned audience of scientists …

"Before you start applauding, she's [Eugenie Scott’s] going to cut off all of my buttons, and drum me out of the society! [referring to the NCSE]"

Did Michael Ruse Give Away the Store?
http://www.leaderu.com/ri9404/ruse.html

Full Transcript
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/arn/orpages/or151/mr93tran.htm

In 1999 …

… A school district in the Detroit area wanted to put some books which critiqued Darwinian theory in their library. The NCSE "strongly advised against it" and the schoolboard, afraid of a lawsuit, decided against it.

… Roger DeHart, a high school biology teacher in Burlington, Washington who’d taught science for years … asked to use mainstream scientific materials that questioned the accuracy of Haeckel’s Embryos and the oft used example of Peppered Moths. After intense pressure by the ACLU, the school district denied DeHart his request. [note: DeHart no longer works at BHS]

… The Kansas State Board of Education was debating new statewide science curriculum standards. Though the board adopted a five-fold treatment of Evolution over their previous standards, they ended up rejecting the writing committee’s demand to install biological evolution as a unifying concept of science. This decision upset many pro-Evolutionary members of the writing committee who had proposed a nine-fold increase in standards. Some on the board DID agree to include teaching on Macroevolution as long as students could be exposed to evidence contrary to it. Macroevolution ended up being dropped from the curriculum when the pro-Evolutionary members refused to agree. These members then splashed the story to the media that the board had rejected evolution … and some outlets eventually published false reports that the board was advocating for Creationism and had rejected Evolution. Herbert Lin (National Research Council) and John Rennie (Scientific American) got involved and went on record saying that college universities should penalize potential incoming students from Kansas for this.

(source: paraphrased from Wells, Jonathan; 2000, Icons of Evolution, Regnery Publishing, pg. 237-8)


In 2001 …

… NOVA in concert with Blue Sky Productions (funded almost exclusively by Paul Allen) produced an 8-hour series entitled "Evolution" which aired on PBS. "Evolution" features scientific views and information from those who support Darwinian theory (such as Stephen Gould and Eugenie Scott) … but only religious points of views by those who oppose it. While members of the Discovery Institute (a pro-intelligent design group) were invited to participate in the program … they ultimately declined when it became clear that they would be painted with the wide brush of "creationism" and would be falsely labeled as religious fanatics. Regarding that incident Casey Luskin notes …

"When asked about intelligent design, the producer of the series Evolution, Richard Hutton, was quoted 'We would have been very interested in supporting intelligent design if we had found scientific support for it.' Producers invited the Discovery Institute, a pro-intelligent design group with a number of scientists who question evolutionary theory, to participate in the series, but they only would have allowed their participation as a religious voice, and could not speak as scientists. The Discovery Institute declined to participate because they would not have been allowed to discuss their scientific views."
Source:
http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1127

Unable to voice their scientific viewpoints to a more widespread audience, the Discovery Institute issued a public statement [link: http://www.reviewevolution.com/press/fromPress/DarwinsPubDefend.php ] and launched a petition campaign entitled "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism," which was signed by 100 scientists [link: http://www.arn.org/docs2/news/100scientists0929.htm ] Just 4 years later, that list has now grown to over 400 scientists who have gone on record as saying they are skeptical of many aspects of Darwin’s theories. [link: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2732 ]

Those who actually do their homework will realize that among the names listed there are scientists working at places such as the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) and the Plasma Physics Lab (Princeton), and professors from major universities across the country. In other words … these scientists certainly ARE NOT the preachers in disguise and travelling snake oil salesman as they have been falsely and ignorantly portrayed by many as being.

The Discovery Institute ended up issuing their own guide to go along with Evolution … with running commentaries and detailed scientific critiques episode by episode … and scene by scene …
http://reviewevolution/.com/viewersGuide/reviewersGuide.pdf

Evolution makes what appears to be a great case on the surface, but in reality ignores virtually every criticism of Darwinian theory that opponents raise. For example, in all its 8-hour splendor, there is not ONE word on any Origin of Life study (i.e. the famous Stanley Miller experiment), let alone the current controversy surrounding all naturalistic explanations for the Origin of Life. There is not one mention of the problems inherent with DNA sequencing … and there is only a token mention of the absolute conundrum surrounding the sudden appearance of some 35-40 brand new phyla during a 5 million-year window in the Cambrian period. After seeing Evolution in its entirety, I have a hard time reaching any other conclusion about it than the one that the above guide comes to.

In 2003 …

… Samuel Chen, a high school sophomore at Emmaus High School in Emmaus, Pennsylvania had worked for over a year to get Michael Behe to come to his school for an after-school lecture. John Hnatow, the head of the science department, sent out a memo reminding his colleagues stating that the school held to the official policy of the National Science Teachers Association which states: "There is no longer a debate among scientists about whether evolution has taken place." Chen faced intense opposition from science teachers, who attempted many different tactics to shut down the event, despite the fact that such opposition violated student rights.

Source:
http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/8/162004a.asp

August 2004 …

… A huge controversy arose over the publishing of a peer reviewed paper in the Proceedings (a prestigious journal connected with the Smithsonian Institute) by Steve Meyer, an advocate for Intelligent Design and director of the Discovery Institute entitled …
THE ORIGIN OF BIOLOGICAL INFORMATION AND THE HIGHER TAXIONOMIC CATEGORIES
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2177 ]

One of the biggest criticisms opponents of Intelligent Design have historically levied against its proponents is that they don’t play by the universally accepted rules of science. All papers gain legitimacy in the eyes of the scientific community, through the process of being reviewed by a group of peer scientists. These peer scientists either collectively give their approval to have a particular paper published in a scholarly journal or flatly deny it. Intelligent Design advocates have always contended that a strong atmosphere of bias exists in the scientific community, so since the formation of the Discovery Institute around 1993, have chosen mostly to avoid such scholarly journals.

* (It should be noted regarding this criticism that it is both misleading and flatly untrue for that matter. Besides the fact that there are several peer-reviewed articles by Intelligent Design proponents out there, material on Intelligent Design has also appeared in peer reviewed books.) [ http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2640&program=CSC ]

Soon after the paper was published, it received an almost immediate tsunami of criticism. Interestingly, most of the criticism was not aimed at Meyer … but rather at Richard Sternberg, the editor (now ex-editor) of The Proceedings. Among the numerous criticisms raised by opponents were: 1) the appropriateness of Meyer’s article to appear in such a prestigious journal, 2) whether or not Sternberg had actually followed proper procedures, 3) whether or not the peer review process was rigged, 4) whether or not Sternberg (a structuralist and an evolutionary biologist) was actually a religious zealot. Besides being covered by the Washington Post [ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/18/AR2005081801680.html ], Sternberg has gone public by detailing the entire story on his website [ http://www.rsternberg.net/ ], debunking all of the above criticisms that have been raised. In a letter written to Trevor Stokes of The Scientist, Sternberg posts his reasons behind his decision to publish Meyer’s paper …

I have always followed the principle that scientists should be open to pursue all scientific questions and not be shackled by convention and authority. The reaction to the paper by some extremists suggests that the thought police are alive and well in the scientific community.
Sincerely,
Rick Sternberg

http://www.rsternberg.net/TheScientist.htm

Sternberg was eventually forced out of The Proceedings and the Smithsonian Institute. In response, he filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, who then launched a federal investigation into the incident. Here is a brief section from the letter Sternberg received on Aug 5, 2005 from James McVay, attorney for the OSC [You can read the Letter in its entirety at the link below, but here are a few snippets] …

During our initial investigations, OSC has been able to find support for many of your allegations. However, the SI is now refusing to cooperate with our investigation. OSC is not able to take statements and receive further paper discovery that would allow for final conclusions.

And further on in the letter …

First Amendment Violations, Religious and Political Affiliation Discrimination
Our investigation also shows that there is a strong religious and political component to the actions taken after the publication of the Meyer article. Much of the e-mail traffic after the publication of the Meyer article documented a personal investigation of you and tabbed you as a "creationist." One senior SI employee, when discussing the Meyer article stated, "the paper is a sheer disaster… We are evolutionary biologist, and I am sorry to see us made into the laughing stock of the world, even if this kind of rubbish sells well in backwoods, USA… under no circumstances should the Institution support the journal with page-charges, which up to this point has been a mainstay of the Society." After the publication when many in the SI were investigating your background one of the e-mails raised concerns that you had "extensive training as an orthodox priest." Another e-mail stated, "Scientists have been perfectly willing to let these people alone in their churches, but now it looks like these people are coming out and invading our schools, biology classes, museums and now our professional journals. These people to my mind are only a scale up on the fundies of a more destructive kind in other parts of the world. Depressing. Oh, if we only still had Steve Gould to lead the counter-attack."
An e-mail by a NMNH scientist that was sent to your supervisor sums up the sentiment of the e-mails, as it relates to this issue. It reads, "The whole situation sounds like a pain in the... neck. Hopefully, the ID folks will get distracted with something else soon. After spending 4.5 years in the Bible Belt, I have learned how to carefully phrase things in order to avoid the least amount of negative repercussions for the kids. And I have heard many amazing things!! The most fun we had by far was when my son refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the 'under dog' part..." The e-mail concludes by lamenting that the school teacher was "religious" and it was unfortunate that there was "anti-evolution education" in the schools.
Of great import is the fact that these same SI and NMNH employees immediately aligned themselves with the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Our investigation shows that NCSE is a political advocacy organization dedicated to defeating any introduction of ID, creationism or religion into the American education system. In fact, members of NCSE worked closely with SI and NMNH members in outlining a strategy to have you investigated and discredited within the SI. Members of NCSE, furthermore, e-mailed detailed statements of repudiation of the Meyer article to high level NMNH officials. In turn they sent them to the Society. There are e-mails that are several pages in length that map out their strategy. NCSE recommendations were circulated within the SI and eventually became part of the official public response of the SI to the Meyer article. OSC is not making a statement on whether the SI or NMNH was wrong or right in aligning with the NCSE, although OSC questions the use of appropriated funds to work with an outside advocacy group for this purpose. This is only discussed to show that the actions taken on the part of SI employees clearly had a political and religious component.


Sternberg OSC Investigation Letter
http://www.rsternberg.net/OSC_ltr.htm

Reflecting on the incident surrounding the ratification of Meyer’s paper Sternberg concludes …

In sum, it is clear that I was targeted for retaliation and harassment explicitly because I failed in an unstated requirement in my role as editor of a scientific journal: I was supposed to be a gatekeeper turning away unpopular, controversial, or conceptually challenging explanations of puzzling natural phenomena. Instead, I allowed a scientific article to be published critical of neo-Darwinism, and that was considered an unpardonable heresy.
Source:
http://www.rsternberg.net/

November 2004 …

National Geographic ran the featured cover story "Was Darwin Wrong?" Though the article has the appearance of taking an objective look at this question, it is actually an incredibly persuasive piece for the establishment of Darwinian Evolution as irrefutable truth. No criticisms or potential weaknesses of Darwin’s theories are discussed in the article … with the only brief mentionings of a travelling Young Earth Creationist lecturer, Islamic creationists, fundamentalist Christians, and ultra-orthodox Jews. Was Darwin Wrong has this to say about why most of the American public doesn’t accept Darwinian theory …

"Why are there so many antievolutionists? Scriptural literalism can only be part of the answer. The American public certainly includes a large segment of scriptural literalists – but not that large, not 44 percent. Creationist proselytizers and political activists, working hard to interfere with the teaching of evolutionary biology in public schools, are another part. Honest confusion and ignorance, among millions of adult Americans, must still be another. Many people have never taken a biology course that dealt with evolution nor read a book in which the theory was lucidly explained."
Source:
"Was Darwin Wrong", National Geographic, Nov. 2004, pg. 6

Hmmm … might there be other reasons that there are so many antievolutionists? I find it quite interesting that in an article entitled "Was Darwin Wrong?" that there is not one mention of any of the scientific criticisms being raised by these "Creationist proselytizers" and "political activists." If you’re looking for any critiques of why Darwin may have been wrong, you certainly won’t find it here.

….August 2005

… The Iowa State Athiest and Agnostic Society launched a petition campaign endorsed by several Iowa State faculty members and an all out crusade against the teaching of Intelligent Design as a "scientific fact." Though not specifically stated, the campaign is targeted specifically against Astrobiology professor and Intelligent Design advocate Guillermo Gonzalez.
Source:
http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/isuaas/

Gonzalez, in turn, has responded to his critics …
An Open Letter From Guillermo Gonzalez (Letter to Critics)
http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/168

Besides being a professor of Astrobiology at Iowa State, Guillermo Gonzalez is also a NASA research scientist and one who is literally leading the charge up the hill as one of the cutting edge Astrobiologists of today. Besides having written numerous peer-reviewed articles for leading Astronomical magazines (around 60 or so) … many of Gonzalez’ theories (esp. his concept of Galactic Habitable Zones) have actually gained quite a bit of acceptance in the scientific community. That is, until the publication of The Privileged Planet in 2004.

Simply put, the portrayal of Gonzalez’ theories as somehow fundamentalist "repent or burn" pseudoscience is patently false and is frankly quite embarrassing, as it demonstrates the sheer ignorance of those who are making such a claim. Gonzalez has never said that his theories nor his personal belief in an Intelligent Designer as a likely cause were "scientific fact." (Intelligent Design is every bit as much a theory as Evolution is.) Also never mind the fact that 2 EVOLUTIONARY scientists (Donald Brownlee and Peter Ward) at the University of Washington have come to many of the exact same conclusions in their book Rare Earth [ http://www.uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=1820 ], which they published in 2000 or that the editor of Astronomy himself, Robert Naeye, dared to engage in similar speculation in his July 1996 article for Astronomy entitled "OK, Where Are They?" [ http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/9599 ] (Peter Ward happens to appear in the afforementioned PBS special "Evolution" by the way.)

The central thesis of Rare Earth is that the collective bias of the scientific community has been toward believing the Drake Equation [ http://www.setileague.org/general/drake.htm ] (formulated by Frank Drake and heavily propogated by Carl Sagan) that claims intelligent life is ubiquitous in the universe … and how the community has basically collectively ignored the preponderance of known evidence that is pointing to the contrary. In their updated version of Rare Earth, Brownlee and Ward mention that John Chambers of NASA’s Ames Research Center gave a seminar at the UW back in 2002 citing evidence [ http://www.spacedaily.com/news/extrasolar-o2a.html ] that corroborates their conclusions (which again are basically the same conclusions that Guillermo Gonzalez has reached.)

What’s especially got the natives either donning Gonzalez with leis … or reaching for their blow guns though isn’t the fact that Gonzalez is backing up the claims of Brownlee and Ward. Rather, it’s that Gonzalez and co-author Jay Richards have dared to make the claim that many of the very same variables that make life on this planet possible … also happen to make our ability to investigate and to discover the nature of the universe possible as well. (*gasp* blasphemy! ;) )

Talk.Origins’ Mark Isaak dismisses away Guillermo Gonzalez’ Privileged Planet … labeling it as a mere "creationist argument" … and seemingly flicking away its findings and conclusions as if it were but an annoying buzzing fly.
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/C1/C1302.html

Isaak, however, fails to even acknowledge that there IS a "mainstream science" book (Rare Earth), by 2 University of Washington professors (who again, happen to be Evolutionists and therefore "legitimate scientists") who have reached many of the exact same conclusions. Gonzalez completed his studies at the UW and Brownlee and Ward, in fact, assisted him in developing his afformentioned concept of Galactic Habitable Zones [ http://xxx.lanl.gov/pdf/astro-ph/0503298 ] Issak neglects to mention that point along with failing to mention any of the previous "mainstream science" sources I listed above.

For further information and discussion on the theories behind Privileged Planet and Rare Earth
http://www.arn.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php/ubb/get_topic/f/13/t/002483.html

September 2005 …

… On September 29, 2005 Dr. Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Louisiana State University, appeared on the Marvin Waldburger show on Radio Station WNBLAT. Dr. Forrest labeled ID theory "an invention of the Christian Right," called advocates for ID "snake peddlers," and went on to say that scientists such as Jonathan Wells and Michael Behe don’t have real PhD’s aren’t really scientists. When asked about some of the criticisms that have been raised about Darwinism, Dr. Forrest went on to add: "One thing we’ve learned from Darwin is that when scientific theories seem wrong, they’re really right."
Source:
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2901&program=News&callingPage=discoMainPage

(So, according to Dr. Forrest, Darwinism is true … well, because Darwinism is true. Yep. Makes sense to me. ;))

What makes this of particular interest is the fact that Dr. Forrest recently testified in the US Federal case currently being argued the Dover, PA school district. Prior to her testimony Judge John Jones had notified the ACLU that significant portions of Prof. Forrest's expert report could be declared inadmissable in court.
Source:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/index.php?title=judge_in_dover_case_skewers_barbara_forr&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

A Dimension of Mind …

Though a great many scientists SAY they are objective and value neutral when it comes to their judgments surrounding science … my question is "are they really?" One of the greatest challenges I often have in speaking with many scientists is to explain to them just how incredible the power of mindsets and worldview are in shaping how we view the world. For example, if we lived 175 years ago in the US … we’d find that a great many people believed that Blacks were inherently inferior to Whites. We’d find scientists using such peer-accepted sciences (at that time) such as phrenology in order to justify that belief.

In the famous 1954 Brown v. Board of education case, Thurgood Marshall used Kenneth’s Clark’s Doll Test Study [ http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/11548871.html ] on numerous young black children. The study demonstrated that even at a very young age, black children already had formulated a worldview in which they were inherently inferior to whites. Though crude by today’s standards of well controlled psychological testing, Clark’s test proved quite effective in demonstrating the incredible crippling influence of both overt and subtle forms of racism.

One’s perception of reality is quite powerful and is often much more powerful a shaper of human behavior, ideals, and beliefs about the world than objective reality. Evidence for the existence of subjective reality is all around us and we can draw a sharp distinction between the subjective and the objective. For example, a toddler tantrums and believes his mommy to be mean and unloving because she took him away from the favorite game he was playing. In reality though, his mother had merely whisked him back to safety from the middle of the street he was playing in, saving him from an approaching car. The famous psychologist Erik Erikson [ http://psychology.about.com/library/weekly/aa091500a.htm ] believed that people formed ideas about the world they live in based upon life experiences during crucial stages of development. Erikson believed the Infancy Stage (age about 0-1) was important in establishing an overall sense of trust or mistrust about themselves and the world. A child who grows up in a home whose parent(s) love and care for his/her needs is much more likely to grow up to be a adult with an overall positive attitude of life and perception of the world. On the other hand, picture a child who ends up growing up in poverty whose mother is a crack addict, never knowing when or if (s)he’ll be fed or comforted. This child is much more likely to become a cynical, untrusting adult who perceives life to be without purpose and the world to be an environment full of mainly hostility and cruelty.

The scientific community as a whole that Darwin birthed Origin of the Species into perceived nature far differently than it does today. In his day, Darwin’s theories of natural selection met with what seems to be considerable resistance from his peers in the scientific community in his day. Contrary to the popular belief of many, these scientists disagreed with Darwin on the basis of SCIENTIFIC rather than religious reasons. While many scientists of Darwin’s day appeared to accept the theory of the diversification of species across time, there were quite a number who disagreed with his theories. These scientists had little trouble perceiving evidence of design then … just as a great many scientists have little trouble perceiving evidence for Marcoevolution today. Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection appears to have been relegated to the back burner by the scientific community until around the 1930s. (see DARWINISM: THE REFUTATION OF A MYTH By Søren Løvtrup http://www.grisda.org/origins/16034.htm)
Widespread acceptance of his theories would require the Scopes Trial (an irony that modern Evolutionists now bash ID advocates for resorting to legal battles) … and the continued propogation over many years of icons in textbooks that supported Darwin’s theories such as Ernst Haeckel’s Embryos (known as fraudulent) … Stanley Miller’s experiment (highly contestable) … and so on …

Point Being: Those who work within the field of Human Service (Sociology, Psychology, Teaching, etc.), understand all too well that young children are not only the products of biology, but of environment as well. They understand that young children are incredibly impressionable and believe whatever they are taught by their teachers without question. Those within the field of psychology generally accept that overall personality and general worldview becomes cemented within the first 6-8 years or so of life. So the 1st graders who are taught that Macroevolution is a fact today … will become the very scientists who will conduct peer reviews and propogate those same views tomorrow.

Think Outside The Box ...

While many media members have handled the Intelligent Design issue with an even hand, there also appears to be an element that wishes to merely politicize the topic and to equate it with Creationism. There is some indication that the same pattern that appears within the scientific community also seems to be present in some of media outlets as well …

August 2005 …

… On August 8, 2005 Dr. Steve Meyer appeared on Nightline with Barbara Forrest. The broadcast interview that was shown focused almost exclusively on the politics surrounding ID theory and not the theory itself. However, the pre-edited version (the actual interview) conducted with Meyer at the Discovery Institute paints a different picture of Intelligent Design than the one Nightline sanctioned. Below is a copy of the actual unedited transcript of the Nightline interview with Meyer. Notice if you will the line of questioning … trolling for the juicy quote that would fit the preconceived idea of what ID supposedly is …

Nightline Pre-Edited Interview
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=489

Nightline’s preview of the story notes that the scientists they polled believe that there is no scientific controversy. I personally find it interesting that in Nightline’s preview there isn’t any mention of any scientific reasons for believing in Intelligent Design nor any comments that might actually pose a significant challenge to Materialism, Darwinism, or Methodological Naturalism.

Nightline Preview:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/index.php?title=nightline_polls_darwinists_and_finds_sur&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

September 2005 …

… On September 27, 2005 Good Morning America showed a piece by Dan Harris (an ABC reporter) on the Discovery Institute in regards to their involvement in the political battles surrounding the debate over evolution that is going on in many states. The Discovery Institute claims that Harris approached them about a month ago, requesting to do a piece on their feelings regarding educational policy surrounding intelligent design and evolution. They claim that almost immediately Harris flicked the switch on them and started peppering questions about whether or not the Institute receives its funding from the Religious Right.
Source:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/index.php?p=810&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1#more810

All that said, there have also been many even-handed, spirited, and fairly well done Radio and TV debates between Intelligent Design advocates and their opponents (see link below) …
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&program=CSC-News&id=2635

Conclusion:

Is there clear evidence for bias against the theory of Intelligent Design and towards Materialism, Methodological Naturalism, and Darwinian Evolution? The certainty of that fact can be equated to the faith that Anti-IDer’s have in the processes of Random Mutation and Natural Selection in explaining the existence of life. Exactly how widespread and pervasive that bias is … is a matter of debate. As Richard Sternberg and the scientists who reviewed Meyer’s paper demonstrate – there are obviously quite a few who approach science wide eyed and with an open mind. And sadly, as the incident surrounding Sternberg in particular also demonstrates, there obviously exists a segment who have dug themselves deep into Naturalism’s trench, extremely committed to defending it even at the cost of scientific freedom. Put simply, this is a war over what defines science with the question being – is the Geneva Convention being followed?

Paradigms don’t shift easily and new ideas don’t often take root without a revolution of sorts. After all, many scientists have staked their careers and identities in theory of Evolution. One’s Life’s work and worldview are not abandoned so easily, but an instant revolution such as the one Galileo sought isn’t what Intelligent Design advocates are seeking. All they are seeking is the opportunity to be able to discuss all the evidence openly without fear of the Gestapo. Debating Design, a book edited by both William Dembski and Michael Ruse in which advocates from all sides argue their cases, is a step in right direction. [ http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0521829496/103-0755348-1704655?v=glance ]

As the battle to understand life’s origins continues to rage on, my hope for the future is that science’s Berlin Wall will be raised to the ground … and that the freedom to discuss all evidence and ideas will one day ring throughout the land.

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