Tom Pittman's WebLog

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2004 December 6 -- Publication Polemics

Magazines with a political or religious axe to grind -- in other words, most of them -- will often print letters criticizing a position they took, but only if the critic comes off looking like a buffoon. Case in point: a couple months ago WIRED magazine ran a rather one-sided cover story on Intelligent Design. This month they reported on the firestorm of letters they got, and printed some of them. To their credit, they did print a few hysterical anti-creationist letters, and also one from Michael Behe, originator of the idea of irreducible complexity (IC) and author of Darwin's Black Box, where IC is explained in very scientific terms; however, most Darwinists have not taken the trouble to understand IC, assuming incorrectly that it is a variation of the old "God of the gaps" argument ("we don't understand natural phenomenon X, so God must have done it"), so the editors probably considered his letter benign. They did not print anything that might suggest a scientific (non-political) way of addressing the problem, such as mine. See for yourself, why they could not bring themselves to print the letter I wrote:
There is a simple way for the evolutionists to stop Intelligent Design dead in its tracks: Science.

Unless of course there is no scientific support for Darwinism.

Five years ago I stopped worrying about Y2K because everybody was saying "I'm ready, but I don't know about my suppliers." From mathematical induction, that implied everybody had adequately mitigated the threat. It was a correct analysis.

Twenty years ago, believing that evolution was probably correct, I started asking the same kind of Question of anybody doing original peer-reviewed research in any scientific field: "What in *your* research supports the Darwinist hypothesis of descent from a common ancester over the alternative?" I asked at the University of California, where I got my own PhD, and in the other universities where I taught on faculty, and everywhere else where smart people can be found. In 20 years *nobody* even attempted an answer. All I get is personal ad hominem attacks and generalized appeals to "10,000 scientists" who cannot all be wrong.

Actually, it's more like 1000 atheists who have an apriori philosophical commitment against any kind of Designer regardless of where the facts lead, plus 9000 scientists who, after hearing about Robert Gentry, Forrest Mimms, and Roger DeHart, wouldn't dare risk their own research funds and jobs by speaking their metaphysical opinions in public.

Ratliff's article ends with the charming thought:

>> The notion is noble enough: In a democracy, every idea gets heard.
>> But in science, not all theories are equal. Those that survive
>> decades -- centuries -- of scientific scrutiny end up in classrooms,
>> and those that don't are discarded."

A great sentiment, which I'm sure the Ptolemaicists used against Copernicus and Kepler and Newton and Galileo. The 16-century survival of Ptolemy's science still trumps everything since.

Stop counting supporters and years. Truth is not determined by majority vote. Get the argument out of the courts and the legislatures, and back onto the scientific issues. The old-guard evolutionists won't be convinced, but young scientists will follow the best evidence -- if you let them see it. They already are, and it terrifies the evolutionists.

Tom Pittman