Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is Your Irony Meter Working?

 
Back in the days of newsgroups (last century) the howlers in talk.origins developed a running joke about irony meters. They were always being fried by outrageous comments from the anti-science creationists. New, more powerful, irony meters were needed every few months.

Here's a chance to calibrate your new irony meter.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has just published a brief they submitted to the US Federal Government on the issue of scientific integrity [NCSE encourages federal scientific integrity].

Part of it reads ...
There is a long-running conflict over a creationist book being sold in the science section of bookstores at Grand Canyon National Park, creating a conflict between the scientifically-oriented presentations of Park Service staff and an implied Park Service endorsement of erroneous scientific views. The federal government should not lend its credibility to material which falsely claims scientific support for a 6000 year-old Earth or other attempts to masquerade religious apologetics as science. It is appropriate to discuss religious views in publications, presentations, and other educational settings, but the integrity of the scientific process is compromised when descriptions of religious views are not clearly distinguished from empirically tested scientific results.
Re-read that last sentence; "the integrity of the scientific process is compromised when descriptions of religious views are not clearly distinguished from empirically tested scientific results." I agree 100%; "The federal government should not lend its credibility to ... attempts to masquerade religious apologetics as science."

So how does that rule about integrity play out when leading scientific organizations like AAAS and NAS promote the compatibility of science and religion by endorsing and publicizing religious scientists in their official publications? Or how about the evolution display at the American Museum of Natural History?

What value registered on your irony meter?


[Image Credit: Wikipedia: Irony Meter]

7 comments :

  1. ...and what does it say about me that I immediately started trying to figure out what that circuit really does? ;-)

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  2. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3304/3523733970_8c8c7a87fb_o.gif
    :)

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  3. Well Larry, if you can't see a difference between the position of Collins or Miller and someone who thinks that the earth is 6000 years old, there's not much we could discuss, is there?

    I can't understand why you fail to grasp that science has limits, and many crucial and rational endeavors (such as ethics, logic, math, etc.) are outside the realm of science. That includes ultimate questions such as meaning, or the existence of God. But it seems that you'd rather prefer that AAAS stepped outside of what science CAN say and promote the idea that science proves that God does not exist (or that he is very unlikely), which to me is sorely naive.

    Why should the exhibit cite Dawkins? Is he a scientist? I can't remember a single original paper in the past 30 years. Or do you see ANY science in his latest book?

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  4. But it seems that you'd rather prefer that AAAS stepped outside of what science CAN say and promote the idea that science proves that God does not exist (or that he is very unlikely), which to me is sorely naive.
    I don't remember reading that part. Anyway, there's a difference between your high fallutin' straw man god and the, oh, couple thousand or so other gods we already know about.

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  5. There is a big difference between saying that religion and science can be compatible and trying to pass off religionus apologetics AS science. Come on now, this is not a subtle distinction.

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  6. Quote Marc:
    "I can't understand why you fail to grasp that science has limits, and many crucial and rational endeavors (such as ethics, logic, math, etc.) are outside the realm of science. That includes ultimate questions such as meaning, or the existence of God."*

    I see no such failure. Instead, the failures are yours with respect to reading comprehension and logic. The logical extension of your statements is that an organization representing science and the scientific viewpoint should take no stance whatsoever on religion. Therefore, they should ignore the religious views of individual scientists and not comment on them beyond stating that such views are outside of the realm of scientific inquiry. That is closer, I think to what Prof. Moran suggests. I don't think he advocates that AAAS and NAS should declare that science proves that gods don't exist or are unlikely to exist.

    Hand-waving about gods interfering in the natural evolution of life on earth without any way of evaluating such ideas scientifically, which is the theistic evolutionist schtick, is demonstrably not science and science organizations should not be promoting such things. It is nothing more than pandering to ignorant fence-sitters that we aren't out to destroy religion.

    Of course, there are some religious claims that science can address, such as the age of the earth, human parthenogenesis, the value of pi (ok, so that's for the mathematicians), global flood, resurrection of the dead, and so on.

    *By the way, I dispute that the subject of any god's existence is accessible to rational discourse. It is an irrational exercise whose practice merely gives the illusion of rationality because the philosophers engaged in it use lofty words and serious tones.

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  7. Imagine asking publishers to add a disclaimer to the religious books they publish. For example,

    "The Book of Genesis is only one explanation for the existence of man. There is an alternate explanation: evolution."

    Marc said

    "if you can't see a difference between the position of Collins or Miller and someone who thinks that the earth is 6000 years old . . ."

    Yesterday I saw a sign on a church that said, "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it."

    That implies a belief in a personal god. Collins believes in a personal God; please explain the difference between Collins and members of a church that posts the message I saw yesterday.

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