Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Well, the long anticipated response of Nick Smyth to criticisms of his article at 3Quarks Daily is up at his own blog and I can't muster much enthusiasm for another round of discussion about it. There's not much new there and what there is, at least in the case of my criticisms, suffers from a lack of understanding of the original critique.
Let's start with the big one, since this whole discussion is in the context of whether there is a definition of "science" that would exclude creationism from public school science classes in the US. As I said before, I suppose that Nick, as a Canadian, may not understand the American constitutional scheme and he has proved me right. His main contention, as you'll remember is that we cannot make a distinction between "science" and "pseudoscience" (or the more correct term, "non-science") but we can make a distinction between "truth" and "bollocks." He then says:
I cannot believe that a supreme court judge in America could fail to see the logic of don't teach false things in schools.You may well be able to convince a Supreme Court Justice that it is bad public policy to teach false things in schools, but the Supreme Court does not decide (at least officially*) between good and bad public policy. That is the job of the legislative and executive branches of government, subject to the will of the majority. This is further complicated by the fact that public education in the US is decided by local elected school boards subject to the will of local majorities.
The Supreme Court (in this context) is limited to protecting the rights of the minority as defined by the Constitution. The logic that the Supreme Court is permitted to exercise is restricted to what follows from the premise that the majority can dictate the public policy except to the extent that such policy violates a constitution rights of any minority. Nothing in the Constitution gives anyone a right to "truth" (as even a quick glance at our political history and Supreme Court jurisprudence would reveal).
The Constitution, however, gives the right to be free from religious proselytization by the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that dressing religious concepts up in pseudoscientific garb and teaching it in science classes is religious proselytization. If we concede that there is no distinction to be made between science and non-science, then there are no constitutional grounds to bar the majority from teaching what they want in public schools with their tax money.
That, of course, is no evidence that a distinction can, in fact, be made between "science" and "pseudoscience" but it does indicate that Smyth deeply misunderstands the context of the debate in the US.
That's all I have time for this morning but I'll come back to this, I hope, later today with a few more thoughts, as well as corrections of Smyth's misconstruals of my criticisms.
* There are, of course, political claims (not least in the area of church/state separation) that the Supreme Court has engaged in policy-making but it is generally agreed that, if such claims are true, it is a bad thing under our Constitution.
Labels: Smyth's Bollocks
The court in Kitzmiller ruled seperately on the religion question, and that was great. However, the court proceeded to bite the IDers' bait and rule on whether ID was a "science" or not (read the ruling!). It is this move that I take issue with in the original post, not just because it is irrelevent to the "religion" question, but because the criteria Jones used were terrible.
You say you "tire" of this, so I'm going to stop following all of this and let you have the last word, but I can't help but suspect that you can't think of ways to respond to my specific critiques aimed at your points. I made three (three!) in the new response and there is nothing about them here. Lurching from one critique to another without resolving them is not a productive way to discuss things.
I explained that before: constitutionally, if it is science, it can be taught in science class even if it supports religion.
... but I can't help but suspect that you can't think of ways to respond to my specific critiques aimed at your points. I made three (three!) in the new response and there is nothing about them here.
Reading isn't one of your strong points, is it? I said that I would get to them as I can, later tonight, I hope. But your reading abilities may well go to explain why your critiques aimed at my points actually misconstrue them.
Lurching from one critique to another without resolving them is not a productive way to discuss things.
Whatever floats your boat. You're the one that went out and engaged me and Hoppe. If you're not interested, you're free to ignore criticism, especially on the web.
But this is a nice quite place to discuss it, without numerous other commenters.
It's no skin off my nose anyway. You have exactly zero chance of getting your suggestions inplimented in American courts so we will go on doing what we're doing while you provide fodder for the creationists's disinformation machine, as you already have, helping to reduce the amount of "truth" in the world.