Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Saletan Fails the Test

Slate's chief political correspondent and famed liberal mouthpiece (note: that's not intended as an insult) William Saletan has chimed in on the Kansas Intelligent Design "trial." He apparently thinks that we biologists aren't doing a good enough job defending evolution from the creationists.
Liberals, editorialists, and biologists wonder aloud how people can refuse to see evolution when it's staring them in the face. Maybe they should ask themselves. It's the creationists in Kansas who are evolving. And it's the evolutionists who can't see it.
Oh, we can see how they've "evolved." They've gone from dishonest biblical literalists, to dishonest pseudo-scientists -- quote mining and double-talking their way to international media coverage.

Saletan paints the picture of creationist evolution from "the early, authoritarian stage of creationism—the equivalent of Australopithecus " to the "Homo Sapiens" form which "abandons Biblical literalism, embraces open-minded inquiry, and accepts falsification, not authority, as the ultimate test." If that's not complete and utter bullshit, I don't know what is. None of the incarnations of creationism were/are falsifiable (there will always be "gaps" in evolution -- all of science is filled with gaps). Sure, they IDiots like to act like they're scientists, saying things like, "An ID proponent recognizes that ID theory may be disproved by new evidence." But what John Calvert and William Harris (the IDiots behind that quote) fail to mention is that every claim from their camp has been debunked (go read the TalkOrigins archives if this is new to you).

Saletan's cutesy metaphor may fool some people, but no one with a good understanding of biology should fall for that shit. He writes, "Creationists aren't threatening us. They're becoming us." No, they're trying to get religion into the classroom through back doors and underhanded maneuvers. It's the same shtick they've been trying for years now. It's like dressing an elephant in a pink tutu and having it dance the nutcracker suite. It's still a five ton quadruped with a trunk and big floppy ears, and ID is still creationism dressed up to look like science.

He closes with his greatest fallacy of all:
It's too bad liberals and scientists don't welcome this test. It's too bad they go around sneering, as censors of science often have, that the new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously. It's too bad they think good science consists of believing the right things. In the long view—the evolutionary view—good science consists of using evidence and experiment to find out whether what we thought was right is wrong.
It's too bad you didn't do any god damn research, William. The IDiots took our test and failed. Every single one of their tired old arguments has been disassembled, disproved, and dismissed. We don't have a problem with them because their ideas are too radical. Science is, by convention, extremely conservative, but we do accept new ideas if they have merit. Check out West-Eberhard's ideas on developmental plasticity (I blogged about it here). We have critically evaluated the ID movement, seen it for what it is, and then dismissed it accordingly. They have no evidence, no experiments, and, hence, no theory.

I'm greatly disappointed in William Saletan's failure to adequately research the topic before publishing his uninformed opinion. This is the kind of shitty journalism I'd expect from the Wingnut camp. I'm going to have to reevaluate some of his other pieces to see if this is a common trend or a one time mistake. Hopefully the IDiots easy to digest bullshit doesn't appeal to other liberal journalists the same way it appeals to Saletan.


At 3:46 PM, Blogger GrrlScientist said...

It's too bad they go around sneering, as censors of science often have, that the new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously.

Wow, Saletan is engaging in a LOT of projection, isn't he?



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