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Censorship in science

  1. Aug 19, 2005 #1
    The Washington Post report on attacks on Richard Sternberg, editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, demonstrates why many scientists are afraid to publically challenge the beliefs of Darwinian fundamentalists. Sternberg decided to encourage discussion of the issue of the origin of life by publishing an article on the issue of Intelligent Design - the idea that biological systems are to sophisticated to have developed without the aid of some Intelligence.

    Advocates of I.D. include some who support the idea of gradual development of species over long periods of time and the idea that Ronald Reagan and his costar Bonzo the Chimp might be distant relatives.

    The reaction from Darwinian fundamentalists who call themselves scientists was swift and vicious. They immediately sought to discredit Sternberg for publishing the article.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/18/AR2005081801680.html

    This reaction demonstrates why scientific journals contain few criticisms of the idea that random mutations could somehow have created sohisticated biological systems. Darwinists like their most vocal adversaries the creationists have 1-bit minds. They can conceive of only two possibilities to explain the origin of life, Darwinism and Creationism. They ignore the possibility of other theories including those that combine aspects of the two beliefs, such as God might have created life using gradual changes, or other possibilities such as the idea that Extraterrestrials might have been involved.

    Progress in science requires willingness to consider other possibilities. The attacks on Sternberg sound more like what we have come to expect from political activists out to destroy the opposition.

    I'm not posting this thread to encourage a discussion of the origin of life. That would be a waste of time because too many are too set in their beliefs to do more than simply repeat them. The question here is whether scientists should be willing to consider other views without trying to destroy those who disagree and whether the peer review process has become more a process to insure orthodoxy or to evaluate the merits of theories.
     
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  3. Aug 19, 2005 #2

    arildno

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    Now:
    1) Ronald Reagan WAS a close relative to Bonzo the chimp
    2) Why do you think "intelligence" is necessary to generate "sophistication"??
    The whole premise is ludicrous at the outset; there doesn't exist any sort of empirical evidence for that.
     
  4. Aug 19, 2005 #3

    matt grime

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    Sternberg unfortunately chose to publish something that isn't scientific. ID has no scientific standing: it is not experimentally verifiable or refutable, nor can anything be deduced or reasoned from it, nor can it be used in any other area of science. It is a misuse of a journal's time and given the general dismay amongst the scientific commnunity at this load of codswallop being given any credence I'm nto surprised he got in trouble.
     
  5. Aug 19, 2005 #4

    arildno

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    Just an additional note:
    A person reputedly with 2 PhD's in the same narrow field (evolutionary biology) is for that reason rather suspect.
    If at all true, he evidently has lost all understanding of what standards a theory must fill in order to be regarded as scientific, i.e., he cannot be regarded as a scientist any longer.
    This is unfortunately something that does happen on occasion; few are willing to regard Fred Hoyle in his latter years as involved in scientific research.
     
  6. Aug 19, 2005 #5
    Is there anyone who has made a case for "design," but not "intelligent design?" I am thinking of design from something other than an anthropomorphization of an already anthropic quality. For what the Intelligent Design folks seem to allow is the possibility that life on Earth was created by aliens!

    You see, humans, our only example of intelligence, can nonetheless create things without so much intelligence, or without foreknowledge of the result, with some combination of whimsy, experimentation, serendipity, and accident (along with whatever else). [Edit: And yet they can reasonably claim design ex post facto.]

    Such a theory would take an omniscent God out of the picture yet still leave a little room for intelligence. The trouble is this idea seems abhorred by either side. (Won't some Hegelian step forth?)
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2005
  7. Aug 19, 2005 #6

    arildno

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    I was an arch-Hegelian in my younger years..:wink:
     
  8. Aug 19, 2005 #7
    Does that mean you grew up? ;)

    I've got to learn to stop editing my posts!
     
  9. Aug 19, 2005 #8

    russ_watters

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    Sorry, this was too funny to let go:
    Anyway, IMO, the guy was looking to stir up controversy (it says that in the article) and made a poor decision. Those around him probably overreacted, but this issue has become heated because of the major threat it poses to science. People do argue creationism from behind a veil, and his lapse in judgement was peculiar enough to attract attention.

    But the bottom line is unscientific thought should not be encouraged in scientific journals.
     
  10. Aug 20, 2005 #9
    Physicists have a model of the atom they are satisfied with. they can explain it mathematically and have substantial empirical evidence to support it. However, that hasn't stopped them from spending a lot of money to conduct experiments running heavy nuclei into each other to determine if they might have missed something.

    Physicists aren't ostracized for trying to determine if Albert Einstein might have missed something in his theories.

    Why then is any direct questioning of Charles Darwin banned? Treating those who question accepted concepts as heretics who must be silenced is a religious practice not a scientific one. When humans attempt to prohibit any questioning of their beliefs it quite often indicates they lack confidence in those beliefs.

    Science is built on questioning and testing established concepts to develop a further understanding of those concepts. Scientists recognize that humans are fallible and information is never complete.

    Charles Darwin knew nothing about genetics, yet his disciples believe he knew everything about the origin of biological life and his teachings cannot be questioned.

    More later. There's a thunderstorm moving in so the computer is going to bed.
     
  11. Aug 20, 2005 #10

    arildno

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    It isn't.
    ID-ers aren't heretics, nor are they scientists.
    Evolution isn't a belief, it is a scientific theory supported by vast amounts of direct evidence.
    There doesn't exist a single piece of direct evidence for the existence of a god.
    No, it isn't primarily about concepts. It is about understanding the REAL world, not about developing high-flying ideas about creatures of your imagination.

    You don't know a thing about science, do you?
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2005
  12. Aug 20, 2005 #11

    matt grime

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    Darwin, despite writing "The Origin of the Species", did not contribute a theory of the origin of life (at least none that is relevant to this discussion as far as I am aware). Are you aware of this reasonmculus? Evolution and abiogenesis are not the same thing.
     
  13. Aug 20, 2005 #12

    russ_watters

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    There is an enormous amount of research being done on the origin and evolution of life - exactly like in the other two examples you gave. Evolution is not somehow "special".
    His theory most certainly is questioned. And it is astounding how well future data has supported it. New information, such as your example of genetics, strongly supports the theory of evolution.

    You're reallly missing the point here: evolution isn't the issue. Its no more or less special than any other theory. The issue here is ID and the bad mistake a magazine editor made in including it in his supposedly scientific magazine.
     
  14. Aug 20, 2005 #13

    Bystander

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    You can lead a horse to water,
    but you cannot make him drink.

    Lead creationists to thermo,
    and you'll NEVER make them think.

    Tell "over(l)unatics" to
    "Build it,"
    they will only sit and blink.

    Of them all, 'tis but the horse,
    who does not need a shrink.

    ID depends upon misstatements and misinterpretations of the Second Law. See https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=85148 in General Physics.
     
  15. Aug 22, 2005 #14
    A belief that life developed without the assistance of any Intelligent being is a theological belief not a scientific theory. Many of those who support Intelligent Design do not question the process through which life developed, only the issue of whether this process occurred with or without the assistance of some Intelligence.

    Darwin chose the model of development of life through gradual change because that was the model he was familiar with, not because of scientific evidence. Development of anything through gradual changes is a common model used by humans to develop technology, literary works and computer programs.

    If life developed without the intervention of an Intelligence, it is more likely to have initially developed through some process other than that favored by Darwinists. The Darwinist process could explain the difference between between European cattle and the American Bison(which can cross breed), but not the difference between cattle and wolves.

    Carl Woese's explanation makes more sense for the existence of divergent species than that favored by traditional Darwinism if life developed without the assistance of an Intelligence.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/03/issue/magaphone.asp
     
  16. Aug 22, 2005 #15

    arildno

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    Read my lips:
    The introduction of an "intelligent designer" have NO explanatory value.
     
  17. Aug 22, 2005 #16

    matt grime

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    And I thought he didn't want this thead to be a debate about ID v. science. Forgetting the overall merits of ID (not that it has any) it simply isn't a scientific theory.

    It takes some data and simply goes "pfft, too complicated for anything but a designer to make". That isn't a scientific statement. Why is it too complicated? Where are your control models that show it cannot happen? What evidence do you have to support the theory? None. Nor can the "model" be verified against any evidence, nor does it offer predictions against whch it might be verified.

    That is why he got into trouble: wasting scinetific resources on specious nonsense. If you want that theory out there go publish it in some *relevant* journal.


    Several reasons to reject it then without even discussing the theory in detail, so let's do that in purely a scientific manner. ie this is not a "there is no god" diatribe but one that argues that the idea of a designed creation is not scientific:

    1. actually simpler is better, there is no reason to make things unnecessarily complex. why do i have an appendix? why when i get older will my hair fall out and some start sprouting from my nose? what is the point of wisdom teeth?

    2. does a designer actualy account for anything developing differently? not really, it is merely an assertion without foundation that complicated life cannot evolve, as arildno says it has no explanatory value, so by occam's razor out it goes.

    3. does it raise more problems that need to be addressed than leaving it out? yes it does, if we're too complicated to be natrually occuring and had to be designed then who designed the designer ad infinitum.

    now, these are some of the purely scientific reasons as to why it is not a science. if you wish to belive ID then fine, but don't think that it deserves the title of science or to be heard in a scientific journal. If you want to debate the merits of it then this isn't the forum (i don't know what would be since this is science site and creationists will get a short shrift I imagine).

    Did the editor deserve this much opprobrium? well, if it were for jsut publishing something inappropriate then no, but he chose to publish something that is emotive. scientists feel very strongly about having their subject opened up to ridicule, especially when it is something that has less scientific merit than voodoo that is being published.
     
  18. Aug 22, 2005 #17
    Hah, is that poem of your make Bystander?
     
  19. Aug 22, 2005 #18

    russ_watters

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    That's probably true, but since scientists don't deal in beliefs, its irrelevant. Evolution is not a belief.
    Yes, we know - and that makes it a belief (and the "Designer" implies god, making it a religious belief).
    Familiar with? Huh? He developed the idea because of the evidence he saw.
    That comes from a pretty basic misunderstanding of how evolution works. Its simply wrong. Explaining why requires explaining evolution from scratch and I'm not willing to do that in this thread.
    That article is not an alternative to evolution, only a theory on when evolution began and what (if anything preceded it). That is one of the more active fields of study for the origin and evolution of life (as I discussed before).

    It is a very common misconception among those who dislike evolution to think that evolution has something to say about the origin of life. It doesn't. It is (as the name implies) about the origin of species.
     
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