Saturday, March 03, 2007


Do They Have Insurance For This?

There is a walking and (barely) talking example of educational malpractice over at The Triangle, the student newspaper of Drexel University. In an article entitled "Judge Jones' god of the gaps fallacy," William Mulgrew, described as an "Ed-op Editor," delivers the following:

ID doesn't invoke a supernatural cause. It invokes an intelligent cause. What's the difference, you wonder? Everything. Science is the search for causes, and causes can be intelligent or natural.
Roll that around on your mental tongue for a moment and savor the nuances ... the heady bouquet ... the insolent aftertaste. Note how it goes: "causes can be intelligent or natural;" "ID doesn't invoke a supernatural cause," "It invokes an intelligent cause."

Now, let's see ... if something is not "natural" it's ... well, what? Perhaps sensing that there is something amiss, Mulgrew tries a reformulation in the very next paragraph:

Excluding intelligent causes from the realm of science throws out more than just ID. It gets rid of archaeology, cryptology, criminal and accident forensics, biotechnology and genetic engineering from the category of science - all are scientific disciplines that deal with intelligent causes or both intelligent and natural.
Now we have an invocation of intelligent causes that are all human in origin, which is why, of course, they are properly subjects of science. It's is ultimately unclear (most of all, I suspect, to Mr. Mulgrew) how the author is dividing up the cosmos but, last time I looked, humans were a part of the natural world. If not, then ... what? In any event, it appears that, according to Mr. Mulgrew at least, while his body is of this Earth, his mind is not.

It is a point I might be willing to grant ... for some value of the phrase.

Believe it or not, it goes downhill from there. I'll leave to you, gentle readers, the excitement of discovery of just how little the ability to formulate rational thought determines how far someone can go in our educational system.

By the way, among the wild thrashings about that substitute for reason in Mr. Mulgrew's world, the Discovery Institute's canard, that Judge Jones "plagiarized" some of his decision in Kitzmiller from the plaintiff's brief, makes an appearance. I'm taking the opportunity to park some of the rational world's responses to that bafflegab here for my own convenience. But feel free to peruse it for reassurance that the idea of reason has yet to die out completely.

There's Timothy Sandefur's explanation of the legal rationale behind "proposed findings of fact" (not, as Mulgrew would have it, a brief) and why Judge Jones did nothing wrong or even unusual. Ed Brayton does his best bulldog imitation not once, or twice but three times, the last of which invokes Wes Elsberry's objective computer study of the decision and proposed findings of fact that demonstrates that the Discovery Institute's 90.9 percent figure is utter moonshine (on top of being mere dishonest misdirection). Wes did his own blogging on the subject, first here and then again. You can also see the method he used and the results. And lastly, just for the fun of it, let's allow Ed to get in one more stomping.

Good post.
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