Bush league science

Contributed by
Aug 2, 2005

Note: PZ Myers is making a list of blogs posted about this very topic -- Bush and Intelligent Design -- on his excellent blog Pharyngula. They make interesting reading.

Note #2: This blog entry was featured in the 14th Skeptic's Circle at Be Lambic or Be Green.

The basic problem with Intelligent Design (ID) is that it's wrong.

The problem is, that's not the worst problem. It's not just wrong, but really wrong, spectacularly wrong. And worst of all, it's actively wrong.

Here's the deal. Proponents of ID are devoted to convincing you that evolution is wrong, that life is too complex to have arisen naturally, and that there must have been some higher intelligence-- they're oh-so-coy about calling it God -- that intervened somehow.

The problem is, their evidence is crap.

One of their biggest claims is that the eye cannot have evolved naturally, because it is too complex. This is wrong. As posted at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE):

... this argument is over 200 years old; it has been thoroughly and consistently discredited by many thousands of scientific observations and experiments and, on this basis, is firmly rejected by scientists. "Irreducible complexity" is a term employed by Behe to argue that evolutionary processes cannot account for at least some of the observed complexity in living things. However, [ID proponent Michael] Behe's insistence that complex structures must always retain the same function and must be built step-by-step overlooks many well-known evolutionary processes. While it is true that there are complex biologic features and processes that would not operate at 100% effectiveness or even at all if one part were removed or altered today, legitimate scientists understand that these features and processes were formed by a natural process (that is, evolution by natural selection).

In other words, thousands of scientists who have devoted their lives to understanding biology, evolution, medicine, agriculture, astronomy, physics, chemistry, zoology -- and every kind of ology and onomy that matters -- all conclude that the very basis of ID claims is wrong. ID proponents go on to make similar claims about bacteria flagella and other biological mechanisms, but these arguments are all wrong. A search at the NCSE site will show you why.

Have no doubts, none at all: ID is an attempt for religious fundamentalists to wedge (their word) their religion into our schools. It is that simple. Their arguments are fundamentally flawed and weak, and have been shown to be so many, many times. This is warmed over creationism, and, not to put too fine a point on it, young earth creationism is garbage. It's wrong, and it's the worst kind of wrong-- it plays to people's beliefs and faith, which are incredibly hard to argue against, even when those beliefs are contradicted by every single thing we understand about the nature of the Universe.

This fight against ignorance and medieval thinking has been very difficult-- for one thing, scientists can hardly believe they have to do it. But I fight ignorance all the time, and I know what depths its proponents will sink to.

And this fight just got harder. The President of the United States is known to suppress science he doesn't like. Scientists have been complaining about this for years. And now he has dipped his toe into the ID movement. In an article by the Knight Ridder newspaper syndicate, Bush says he thinks ID and science should be taught side-by-side:

Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over "creationism," a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution.
This is precisely the wedge the ID and creationists want. They want this taught like it's legitimate science, but it isn't. In science we let the facts sway our conclusions. In ID and creationism, they let their pre-existing dogma sway the way they view the facts. In many cases they distort the facts to suit their desire, use quote mining, for example, or simply lie if needed.

That ain't science. It isn't even good religion.

It's wrong. And they want to teach your children this way.

If I sound angry, it's because I am. Science in the United States is suffering horribly because of the lack of quality education, and the increasing tendency of people to swallow whole incredibly fallacious arguments. You are reading this article right now because of science. You're on the Internet because of science. If you're over the age of 35 and still alive, it's because of science.

The trend of killing science in the US is killing ourselves. Again, it's that simple.

Go read what they have to say at NCSE. Go read Pharyngula, go read Talk-Origins, go read The Skeptic's Dictionary. Then, go read my own thoughts on on what science does, and what antiscience cannot do.

This has to stop. Now. And the way to do it is to educate yourself and others, because that is the one thing those antiscience groups are trying to prevent you from doing.

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