Monday, November 13, 2006


A Worm's Turn

Wesley Elsberry at the Panda's Thumb has an interesting tale of a politician misusing the work of a scientist (gasp!) to support injecting the politician's religion into the public school curricula.

I know ... dog bites man. But there is one aspect that I think makes this story notable.

Briefly, Susan Haverkos, the only supporter of Intelligent Design Creationism to slip through in the recent Ohio School Board elections, used a Popular Science story on ten of the most creative young scientists of the year as justification for the "teach the controversy" ploy. Specifically, Hverkos cited the work of Kelly Dorgan, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, on the mechanics of burrowing. Ms. Dorgan's work was clever research into an area that is, to say the least, difficult to investigate, that demonstrated that Darwin's hypothesis that earthworms swallowed a path through the soil was wrong.

Having elevated Darwin's tentative suggestion of a mechanism to the status of a "theory" on a par with evolution, Haverkos then torched the strawman:

What if she had been told, "We only teach Darwin's theories, and you can't question it". Worms would still have to "eat dirt". If she were a student in Ohio, she would have been taught to accept what she was taught, it's the truth, and that all there is. But somewhere in her education she was taught to question, to be creative, to have tenacity.
In a letter to Ms. Haverkos and the Board that is included in an article on her website, "Why I oppose the teaching of 'intelligent design'," Ms. Dorgan first sets the record straight as to what her work entailed:

Contrary to Ms. Haverkos' assertions, my work does NOT in any way challenge Darwin's theory of evolution; in fact, my work on worm burrowing illustrates an outstanding example of convergent evolution. I have found that burrowers across many animal phyla exert forces in similar ways and have evolved to have a wedge shape and/or anatomies allowing exertion of large forces to propagate a crack. Without an understanding of the theory of evolution, I would not be able to explain this similarity across unrelated animals.
Then she eloquently explains why ID and the "critical analysis" scams are just that:

I find it very disturbing that my research has been grossly misinterpreted to support the idea of intelligent design. Intelligent design is NOT a testable hypothesis and therefore has no place in science classrooms. Ms. Haverkos points out the importance of challenging theories, which I fully support. However, the way scientists challenge theories is by generating alternative TESTABLE hypotheses and collecting data to TEST those hypotheses. Students of science should certainly be taught to ask questions and to challenge established ideas, but they should be taught to do so using the scientific method. In addition, in order to generate intelligent questions that can advance the field of biology, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the field. The theory of evolution explains a tremendous amount of scientific data and there are currently NO other viable theories to explain those data that withstand scientific tests. Telling students to challenge an established theory without either presenting a testable alternative hypothesis or specifically encouraging students to develop their own testable alternative hypothesis confuses them not only about the theory itself, but about the entire process of doing science.
What I find notable is that Ms. Dorgan, who no doubt has much more pressing calls on her time and energy as she pursues her Ph.D., took notice of the deprecations of a minor politico a third of the country away and spoke out forcefully in defense of proper science education. For too long the scientific community and its supporters would have just dismissed and ignored the likes of Ms. Haverkos. The increased concern with the political assaults on science is a most healthy sign.

As for Ms. Haverkos, she loudly proclaims her "community values." I wonder if that includes apologizing for misappropriating Ms. Dorgan's name and work in furtherance of a religious attack on science?

As for Ms. Haverkos, she loudly proclaims her "community values." I wonder if that includes apologizing for misappropriating Ms. Dorgan's name and work in furtherance of a religious attack on science?Dream on. :D
since when can you test evolution?? The only evolution to EVER be observed is micoevolution all the rest are believed by faith. Both evolution and creationism are faith based theorys therefore they both should be presented as theory in schools.
Shannon's comment (assuming it is not a loki troll) displays the usual ignorance of evolution deniers. It is doubtful she even has thought through what "evolution" means, confusing common descent with particular mechanisms. It goes without saying that she hasn't a clue what "theory" means.

Anyway, we have never "observed" the interior of the sun either, but we are as sure that it is powered by fusion reactions as we are of anything in science. If you want to get an idea of the huge amount of evidence we have for common descent, you can check out 29+ for Macroevolution. Our confidence in the fact of common descent is right there with our confidence in nuclear fusion.

As for what "theory" means, you can look at Evolution is a Fact and a Theory.

But if Shannon really wanted knowledge, it is doubtful she'd be so ignorant to begin with.
why do you evolutionists always have to personally attack people who disagree with your ideas? You think you are so superior to people who have a different point of view. Arrogence is a very unattractive quality. You could have easily given your examples (which I will be happy to 'check out') without presuming I am stupid. Grow up.
by the way, here is something you can 'check out'. its pretty interesting.

Although I doubt you will, even though you expect me to read your 'evidence', which I am.
So far Im not seeing much other than assumptions, but I havent gotten too far yet.
Ah, yes ... Harun Yahya. I'm willing to bet I know more about "him" and the arguments on that site than you do. For example, do you know that Harun Yahya is the pseudonym of Adnan Oktar, the head of Bilim Arastirma Vakfi (Science Research Foundation), an Islamic creationist organization based in Turkey? They engage in the same dishonest tactics, such as quote mining, as do many other creationist organizations. Otherwise, you can find science's answer to their blather at the Talk Origins Archive.

As to your complaints about "personal attacks", first let's remember who went where and said what. I did not seek you out for ridicule, you chose to come to my blog and spout what is clearly nonsense that shows you have no clue how science works or what a "theory" is.

In any case, ignorance is not a shameful thing. Even the most learned person in the world is ignorant of most of the knowledge available to humans. But to assert knowledge from a position of ignorance is foolish and to refuse to learn is shameful to my mind.

As to the supposed "assumptions" in the article I pointed you to, they are called "inferences" and that is what science does. Just as we infer that the sun is powered by fusion reactions by its radiation output, even though we can't directly observe the process, so we infer common descent by a huge body of evidence that consistently makes sense if (and so far as we have been able to discover to date, only if) common descent occurred.

That may not be good enough to convince you but it is as good as science gets. If you reject common descent, then you have to reject all of science in order to remain remotely consistent. If you don't want to accept science's discoveries, that's your right. But if people like Haverkos have their way, and weaken science education for everyone, your children and your children's children will be living in third world poverty subject to economic and political domination by the likes of China and India.

I'm going to go on calling that stupid no matter whose feelings it hurts.
All I am asserting is my opinion. Obviously I am not a scientist but I do have common sense. How and why a lizard would turn into a bird or a fish would crawl out of water as an air breathing land animal makes no sense, I dont care how you 'infer' that it is how life evolved. Infer is another word for believe. Evolution is a belief system and I think takes more faith than beleiving in God.

You are right, I did stumble onto your site guess that makes me fair game for ridicule. Should have known someone who thinks they were a monkey would have no manners.
Oh well, have a lovely day. I love youR picture by the way, Im sure its a perfect likeness of you.

[Sigh] Your opinion is fine for your favorite color but, unless it's coupled with a lot of knowledge, it's lousy for determining good educational policy. And "common sense" (used here as a synonym for opinion based on nothing but ignorance) is even worse for determining what is good science. Do you go around giving your doctor the benefit of your common sense opinions on the best treatment s/he should give you? Or do you let the doctor give you medications and perform proceedures that the profession has inferred may work to cure you? (And yes, that is how silly you sound!)

It's an ape, by the way, and so are you (as well as being a primate, a mammal and a eucaryote, among other things, at least if you qualify as H. sapiens). You shouldn't be so dismissive of God's handiwork.

As for the picture, if you can't see what is behind those eyes, you're even blinder than I thought.

But he admittedly isn't as hansome as this fellow.

Have a nice (if limited) life.
Awww thank you, I do have a nice life. And not at all limited.
I find it interesting that you say the ape is Gods handiwork. Doesnt that negate everything you have been arguing for?

And actually I do think some doctors could use a little more common sense.

No, your picture is a lot cuter than that other one. wow, that guy is ugly! ok I really need to be working so I will try to make this my last post, but Im afraid I have a problem of wanting the last word. Must be a woman thing. :)
[Cough] I can say without fear of contradiction that wanting the last word is not just a "woman thing."

If you are not willing to correct your ignorance, your life will be far more limited than it can be. But, if that makes you happy ...

Why would believing in God be incompatable with accepting the science of evolution? Look up Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University, as just one example. But I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression, I am not a believer myself, I just suspected you are.

How good individual doctors are and how they might be improved is a completely different question from how good the consensus of the medical profession as a whole is in treating you, compared to not being treated at all or being treated by a witch doctor. Science doesn't know everything (which is why science is fun!) but it has proven itself time and time again to be the very best way we have to understand the material universe.
Well, if I was not interested in knowledge I would not have even been interested in what this site was about now would I?

Im not claiming to have an answer for everything. Just by what I have read about evolution(which is more than you think) it just makes more sense that the complexity of a living thing would have been designed and created, not the product of accidents.

I dont think evolution is compatable with God because I believe that God created the world and all life at once. Evolution claims life arose from non-life by chance.

There are those who think that God could have guided evolution but I dont agree with that idea. As a christian you believe in the bible and that idea would contradict the bible.

Time to go home, its been nice arguing with you. Gives me a break from my boring job. thanks!
Ah, so you you think you have a monopoly on God -- if anyone disagrees with your (minority) version of Christianity, they don't believe in Godâ„¢? I guess the Pope ain't catholic then (pun alert).

I think you are reading about evolution from the wrong people. You have to try listening to the other side, the way I've read Harun Yahya (and Henry Morris, Michael Behe, the Discovery Institute, etc., etc.). Try getting Ken Miller's Finding Darwin's God.
What are you talking about I have a monopoly on God? I am not saying that other people cant believe in God that believe evolution. Im saying that I PERSONALLY do not agree with that idea because it contradicts the bible. Why would God say He created the world and all living things if He was going to produce life through evolution? That makes Him a liar and if God is a liar then He is not God.

I do not judge other people by what they believe (unlike some people)Im just stating what I believe.

I will check out Ken Miller but I doubt he will tell me anything new I havent heard about before. thanks though
[Sigh] If you were only saying that you personally don't think God and evolution are compatable, then why, without any reason to think I shared your beliefs, did you say:

I find it interesting that you say the ape is Gods handiwork. Doesnt that negate everything you have been arguing for?

That only makes any sense if you assumed that I would also find them incompatable.

But never mind. The more interesting question is why, when reality conflicts with your understanding of the Bible, you assume it must be God lying rather than your failure to understanding what is being conveyed. Sounds like you think you know more than God.

Miller may tell you something new, unless you've read books before by people explaining why they find evolution compatable with Christianity.
because its not reality. that is also someones opinion and I do not agree with it. The bible clearly says that God created the world and all life all at once. thats not real hard to understand. I believe in the bible therefor I believe that if God had intended life to form from evlolution then that is how it would be explained in the bible.
It is "opinion" in exactly the same sense as the Earth being round and orbiting the Sun is "opinion."

But if you think the Bible states that "God created the world and all life all at once", you are paying as much attention to it as you are to science.

But by all means, go ahead and tell God what he means.
excuse me, I was unaware that you were a bible scholar also. Im sure on the 6th day when God created humans and animals, that really meant that over billions of years life would evolve from microscopic particals in the ocean into humans. Yes, im sure that is what the bible meant. Silly me.

And obviously the earth has been observed to be round. Are you saying that God having a hand in evolution is a fact? You must believe it also then right? But I thought you said 'I am not a believer myself..'
Um ...

12 ... the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit ...

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day. ...

21 ... God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ...

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

But besides that, you do know, don't you, that the vast majority of good Bible-believing Christians believed in either the "gap theory" or the "day age theory" before about 1960? Whoever might be right, it didn't seem so obvious to those people.

Yes, there are facts about the Earth that led us, over time and long before anyone went out into space where they could observe the roundness, to infer that the Earth was round. But then we've observed the same sort of things about evolution, including speciation.

All I was saying about the Bible is that you are putting your interpretation of it above what God may have meant if he/she/it actually authored it. But as someone once said, "humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks". If you believe God created the universe, why doubt what he directly created, based only on claims filtered through fallible people?
24.. Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind", and it was so.

26.. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image.....

27.. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them...

31... So the evening and the morning were the SIXTH day
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