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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Temple Universit Students Respond

 
Last week I posted an article about Intelligent Design Creationists giving a talk at Temple University. I wondered what the students must have been thinking to invite two Young Earth Creationists (Marcus Ross, Paul Nelson) to come and talk to them as part of a series entitled: DECIDE FOR YOURSELF: Evolution and Intelligent Design.

Two Temple University students who attended the event have now responded. Both choose to remain anonymous. You can read their comments at [Marcus Ross, Michael Behe, and Paul Nelson at Temple University].

Here are some teasers ..
To start, your judgmental and self-righteous words have proven to me that your whole position is without credibility as you refused to attend Temple's event.
and .....
Because you chose not to participate, is it really right to take potshots at students from the web? Are you in a superior position professionally, educationally, or morally to condemn the students and therefore the other professional educators under whose approval and encouragement the students are working? Your intolerant conceit is more disagreeable than the students' supposed ignorance.
Gee, I wonder what they "decided for themselves" at the lectures? Anyone wanna take a wild guess?

14 comments :

  1. Perhaps the success of Behe's rational thought proved to be too daunting of a task for someone to oppose?

    Holy crap.

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  2. "Are you in a superior position professionally, educationally, or morally"

    Maybe not morally but surely profesionally and educationally.

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  3. I attend the Law School at Temple and am sad to say that, at the undergraduate level, there is a large Crosswalk community. If you have not heard of Crosswalk before, it is a group of Christians with rather fundamentalist leanings. The majority are, of course, untutored idiots who avoid real science like the plague. The majority of them probably have never heard of Dr. Ross and I'd be interested to hear what they thought of his thesis. Yes, Ross, that bastion of intellectual integrity who swept the idiots away with a wave of his "valid" arguments. The majority of those Crosswalk students (incidentally, the organization also goes by Christian Crusaders, which I find abundantly hilarious whenever I hear one discuss "militant atheism") have probably never read Behe's works, or his complete destruction at the hands of Rothschild in the Kitzmiller case. I'm embarrassed by the fact that my school accommodated this idiocy and staunchly refused to go. While I understand why you think this reflects poorly on the university, please do not let it reflect poorly on your opinion of every student that attends the school.

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  4. I taught at Temple for quite a few years, and although I thought it was a good place with a praiseworthy mission, it sometimes had odd results. The school has programs to give otherwise poorly qualified students college opportunities, and it meant that classes had the widest range of abilities I ever experienced -- it was a challenge teaching introductory biology to incredibly smart, talented, and well prepared students and students who had non-existent study skills, not even an inkling of algebra, and some who could barely read, all at the same time. That means that there is a large pool of people there quite predisposed to accept any ol' nonsense...and it isn't the smart group.

    I'm amused at the student who thinks you can't argue against Behe because you weren't there. I heard Behe talk (at Temple!) over ten years ago, and I heard him talk at UM last year, and it was amazing: he hasn't changed a word. He uses the same jokes, even -- the same Gary Larson cartoon, the same complaint about JME, the same sad schtick. You do not have to fly around the country following Behe to catch the subtle nuances. He has been saying exactly the same damn thing over and over again since the early 90s.

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  5. He has been saying exactly the same damn thing over and over again since the early 90s.

    Hey, it's a living, and he has, what, 9 kids to support?

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  6. "your judgmental and self-righteous words have proven to me that your whole position is without credibility"

    Enough said. Sadly, this student can't distinguish between the process of science and the personal judgment on social affairs. I guess he argues with his/hers dropped books: 'My foot, that hurt! That is the matter with you, nothing says you have to fall right down.'

    Another comment was: "We are to be commended not castigated about being open to this issue."

    It is an obligation for an educational institution to recognize pseudoscience and act against it. That includes not opening up a public avenue for the "issue".

    Schools typically doesn't have the time to pick up every pseudoscience and explain why it isn't science, it is so much BS out there. What you mostly do is to teach predictive science and current knowledge so the students learn to analyze the rest in simple manner.

    For example of the necessary undemanding level of analysis; astrology is an economical scam giving falsified predictions, ID is a politico-religious scam giving no predictions, DI is an religio-economical scam attacking evolution instead of doing science, et cetera. It is that simple, these facts are easy to find. Only an IDiot... Oops, sorry.

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  7. "That is the matter with you" - What is the matter with you

    (Perhaps I should ask that to my speling skilz... :-)

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  8. What I don't get is why these geography-challenged chidren think Larry should have attended. Don't they realize that he's not at Temple? The local faculty, you can make an argument (though not necessarily a good one) that they should show up and debate -- but someone several hundred kilometers away?

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  9. They desperately needed to find suckers who would debate Ross, Behe, and Nelson. This forced them into scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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  10. Actually, by definition a pseudoscience is any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific but does not follow the scientific method. Just for clarity the scientific method involves:

    1. Identifying a Problem
    2. Researching that Problem
    3. Developing a Hypothesis
    4. Designing an Experiment
    5. Testing that Hypothesis
    6. Organizing the Data
    7. Extracting Conclusions

    Then once those tests are run multiple times yielding the same result we can make a conclusion. I personally believe in evolution; however we must apply the same standards to our work as that of which we use against the ID movement. With evolution we have to stop after step 3 and so by definition we must call evolution a pseudoscience. We can infer a great deal from the fossil record, but we cannot create repeatable experiments to prove our hypothesis. Humanity has witnessed and recorded the micro-evolution of organisms within a given population or species, however humans have not been around long enough to witness macro-evolutionary changes. Until we can create repeatable experiments or find more concreate evidence we must adhere to the same standards that have been established within the field of science.

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  11. "Just for clarity the scientific method involves:"

    Not a bad list, but not right either.

    Everything is linked and reiterated, not a stiff scheme. You don't describe theories. And already the result of a test is a conclusion.

    "With evolution we have to stop after step 3 and so by definition we must call evolution a pseudoscience."

    You should know better than to make definitive and unorthodox statements on science on a scientists blog.

    While you stop by your ignorance, biologists confirm predictions from evolution in hundreds of papers every year. See Talk Origins for references of tests, as the open archives can be a bit much for you.

    For example, take phylogenetic trees. By making a very constrained prediction of a small group of possible trees among the overwhelming amount of possibilities, the precision rises fast.

    To get to under 1 % imprecision in the standard phylogenetic tree, no more than 18 of 30 branches need to be correct as tested against the null hypotheses of randomness.

    However, the standard tree is known to 38 decimal places, which is a test to much greater precision than that of even the most well-determined physical constants! ( http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html )

    "We can infer a great deal from the fossil record, but we cannot create repeatable experiments to prove our hypothesis."

    Of course we can, and scientists do. I'm not a biologist, but it seems as an observation on a fossils character will be a set of repeated measurements, for example to reliably extract a length and its uncertainty. At least, that is how I would do it.

    Less trivially and essential to test predictions, sets of fossils should provide repeated observations and/or track the evolution of each character. Since large groups (herds or colonies) of some animals have been found, it is ridiculous to deny all repeatability.

    The other day they had a report from the findings of the oldest known trees. Earlier they had only found (several) standing fossilized stumps. Now they had found (two, IIRC) fallen and more complete trees, so they could identify more characteristics. Talk about repeatability!

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  12. With evolution we have to stop after step 3 and so by definition we must call evolution a pseudoscience.

    Nope. Educate yourself.

    We can infer a great deal from the fossil record, but we cannot create repeatable experiments to prove our hypothesis.

    What do you think fills the thousands of biological scientific journals? It's people designing and running repeatable experiments, based on evolutionary reasoning. It's been quite successful in helping to explain and predict the evidence.

    Humanity has witnessed and recorded the micro-evolution of organisms within a given population or species, however humans have not been around long enough to witness macro-evolutionary changes.

    Observed Instances of Speciation
    Some More Observed Speciation Events
    Speciation bibliography


    Until we can create repeatable experiments or find more concreate evidence we must adhere to the same standards that have been established within the field of science.

    Which field of science? You're making as little sense as Pope Benedict, who recently and incorrectly stated that evolution is "not a complete, scientifically proven theory." I think you should get your science education from real scientists, not some guy in a funny hat. Is astronomy "not a real science" because we can't fit a galaxy on the lab bench and run experiments on it?

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. I disagree with most of Jeff's portrayal of the scientific method. I would put it more like this:

    1. Identify a Problem
    2. Research that Problem
    3. Propose a solution to the problem (hypothesis)
    4. Make predictions that follow from that solution
    5. Test those predictions
    6. If the tests fail, go to step 2. If the tests pass, go to step 4. If tests pass many, many times, go to step 7.
    7. Call the solution a theory.
    8. Go to step 4.

    Nowhere does it include experiments. Experiments are a way to do step 5, but are not the only way. Looking at the fossil record allows you to test predictions about what sort of fossils you will see, when, where, and accompanied by what. It is not an experiment in that it is a carefully-controlled, mostly reproducible test, but it is a test of a prediction nonetheless and is no less valuable to science. Jeff's characterization would eliminate astronomy, astrophysics, geology, meteorology, climatology, and anthropology as sciences. Any definition of science that eliminates many branches of science must, by its very nature, be incomplete or outright wrong.

    That does not mean that biologists do not do repeatable, controlled experiments on evolution. They do, as others have said. So even if Jeff's outline was correct it would still apply equally well to evolution. On the other hand, I would say that IDers have only completed step 1. They have done part of step 2 but not very much. They have not attempted step 3, in fact they have steadfastly refused to to propose anything that could be considered even remotely similar to a solution (except behind closed doors to churches, but they refuse to acknowledge that).

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