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Monkey Business

My old pal, Michael Balter, now a Paris-based author and journalist has got a greatGorilla2 piece in this Sunday's Los Angeles Times. Michael's essay has particular resonance because he's not only a correspondent for Science magazine, but he also writes from a leftist, secular vantage point.

Yet, Michael argues, why not let the theory of Intelligent Design be taught in schools along with Darwin?  Says Balter:

Most scientists don't want any debate. Many view intelligent design as simply a new and more sophisticated attempt "” "the thinking man's creationism," as Science magazine put it "” to slip old-time religion into the classroom. They maintain that the theory of evolution, in particular natural selection, is so well supported by the evidence that it is the consensus scientific view. As such, it deserves a monopoly in school curricula......Opinion polls consistently show that a majority of Americans don't believe that the theory of evolution is the best explanation for our own origins. A November 2004 Gallup poll, for example, found that only 13% of respondents said they believed that God had no part in the evolution or creation of human beings, and 38% said they thought humans evolved from less-advanced forms but that God guided the process. About 45% said they believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 or so years. These results echoed similar Gallup polls dating to 1982......Could it be that the theory of evolution's judicially sanctioned monopoly in the classroom has backfired?...For one thing, the monopoly strengthens claims by intelligent-design proponents that scientists don't want to be challenged. More important, it shields Darwinian theory from challenges that, when properly refuted, might win over adherents to evolutionary views. ...The history of the theory of evolution is one of bitter debates between religion and science, and the debates continue today......The best way to teach the theory of evolution is to teach this contentious history. The most effective way to convince students that the theory is correct is to confront, not avoid, continuing challenges to it... ...Given the opportunity to debate, scientists should say: "Bring it on."

I have to say, as not only a secularist, an atheist and a downright anti-theist, I love this piece. Michael's absolutelty right. Let the games begin. Meanwhile, I'm gonna sit up in this tree and finish my banana.


96 Responses to “Monkey Business”

  1. Darr Wyn Says:

    The school day is too short to teach falsehoods. Other than that, you make a good point.

  2. reg Says:

    I’ll go along with this as long as so-called Ebonics is also taught as a legitimate linguistic alternative in English classes. (Oakland joke!)

    I think Balter is incredibly naive as to the difficulties that teachers already face, the limited time to cover core curricula and the limited ability of some to effectively pass along critical thinking skills.

    This sounds good, but it’s a can of worms and needless capitulation to absolutely bullshit challenges to the very nature of science and ID’s fundamental distortion of scientific methodology, the philosophy and history of science and, frankly, it’s inherent limitations – limitations which allow for all kinds of interesting (or not so) speculation outside of the scientific discourse or, on this more mundane level, science class.

    This sounds like a great idea in theory based on the way way education should/could work…but it’s a terrible idea given the realities of an educational system already overburdened with bullshit, school-board politics, bored and ill-prepared students, too many mediocre teachers and self-serving bureaucracies.

  3. reg Says:

    (Terribly written last paragraph – I’m a product of the over-burdened public schools.)

  4. mikey Says:

    If I can make another Oakland reference, concerns about ID taking up too much classroom time are unfounded because, “there is no there, there.” Once you make the proviso that evolution and natural selection are theories and therefore open to debate and critique, what else is there to the ID lesson? There is simply no science to it, and if we stick to the rules of science as we should in a public school science class (with no place for the supernatural), that silence will not hold in the face of the science that can be marshalled for the evolution cause. This is Balter’s point. Balter is correct that in such a religious society, students will bring their ideas about creationism with them to the classroom. But those ideas are religious, not scientific, and such frank discussions can sharpen these distinctions. I echo Marc’s kudos for Balter’s confident, assertive challenge and anyone who believes in science should have the same affirmative attitude. Bring it on, indeed!

  5. richard lo cicero Says:

    If Mr Balter does indeed write for SCIENCE let me suggest that the AAAS send him back to school for some elementary science courses. Why not teach astrology while we’re at it or paranormal phenomena like telekinesis or mind-reading? They have as much validity.

    When asked why his universal theory of Gravitation made no mention of God, Issac Newton stated “I had no need of that hypothesis.” In other words adding God to the laws of motion imparted no new information. Now consider evolution. The Fact of evolution is incontrovertable and no biologist disputes it. Every time you look you see evidence of it. Next time any of you get to Cambridge visit Harvard’s Musuem of Comparative Zoology and see Louis Agassai’s collection of fauna showing the connection between organisms based on their anatomical design. Now go forward to the age of molecular biology and classify living systems by their genetic make-up and markers – for example sequences of amino acids on Hemeglobin – and compare to Agaissais’ classification. They match. In fact our genetic make-up differs from our nearest reletives – the Great Apes like Chimpanzees – by less than one percent.

    What people don’t seem to understand is that battles occur over the nature of the mechanism of evolution. Was it a gradual process (see A.S. Romer) or was it done in sharp distinct episodes as per S.J. Gould. In neither case does the presense of a diety add anything useful to the debate. We have no need of that hypothesis.

    What Mr Balter wants to teach would be appropriate in a History of Ideas Class. Fine, but that is not the way we teach science in this country or any country I’m aware of. History of ideas or of science is fascinating but it is another discipline.

    There is of course a place where science was taught with a dogma attached. Lysenko claimed that evolution could be accomplished thru adaptation – the old Lamarkian view. I buid up my body and my phsique will be inherited by my offspring. This suited Stalin to a tee since it agreed with his concept of building the “NEW Socialist Man”. Anyone who demured was jailed. Guess what happened to Soviet biology and Agricultural Sciences?

    We have enough dumbing down in out schools as is. When South Korea starts making the breakthroughs, as they did recently on Stem Cells, the alarms are going off.

  6. Mohammed Christopher Cohen Says:

    Why not also teach holocaust denial and the secrets of Roswell? Same topic

  7. reg Says:

    Let me add that ID’s “challenge” to evolutionary theory exists at a level beyond the comprehension of the average high school student. The appropriate way to frame this for the typical student who may well be threatened by the theory of evolution is to suggest that once they’ve mastered some of the basics of the theory, they are more than welcome to do some outside study on the debates both within evolutionary theory on gradual development vs. “disjunctive leaps” and between evolution’s established scientific theory and the essentially theological speculation of ID theorists in response to evolutionary science.

    Scientists should obviously be debating ID speculators in the public arena and they are, but to suggest introducing arcane ID speculation at the level of an introduction to evolutionary theory in public school curricula is bizarre.

  8. reg Says:

    “Let’s put the leading proponents of intelligent design and our sharpest evolutionary biologists on a national television panel and let them take their best shots. If biblical literalists want to join in, let them. Let’s encourage teachers to stage debates in their classrooms or in assemblies. Students can be assigned to one or the other side, and guest speakers can be invited.”

    In fariness to MB, I these are reasonable suggestions that could add to public understanding of this essentially populist controvery, but they should be presented for what they are – speculative theological overlays attempting to challenge, or at best philosophically contextualize, established scientific theory – in distinction to actually giving ID speculation a platform equal with evolutionary theory as part of the core science curruculum itself.

  9. Richard (lyman) Says:

    I grew up in the South and cannot recall one time in my biology education when the teacher discussed the theory of evolution. Of course, said teachers didn’t discuss creationism either. It was the elephant in the living room of our biology class.

    This might work well in some parts of the country, but I think (anecdoctally) it would be utterly disastrous in the South.

  10. marky48 Says:

    As an agnostic biological scientist I couldn’t disagree more. This ID is a ruse. Any science that can’t be tested isn’t a science at all. Teach the concept in a religion or philosphy class. Marc, you just want the entertainment factor from the ludicrousness and that’s already here.

    The danger is people who can’t tell the difference will continue to be left ignorant. Ignorant people are dangerous. That’s a hypothesis that’s been well-tested.

  11. tim Says:

    One reason why that is a bad idea, Marc, is that the religious right does not really want an open debate. Instead, they want to cram their dogma in the door and then exclude discussion of evolution as godless error. This is exactly the tactic used to first crush sexuality education by insisting on having ‘both sides’ represented, then when that wedge was firmly in the door, moving on to abstinence-only. If Bush & Co. are so eager for a full airing of issues, why does that not apply to a discussion of sex? (which incidentally has something to do with evolution too)

  12. horus Says:

    I think the quote from Balter frames the issue in a deceptive way, because as far as I know, biology teachers aren’t forbidden from discussing creationism and the controversy over evolution. So the only change that we might make is to require biology teachers to teach about creationism, and that would be quite a concession to non-science.

  13. marky48 Says:

    More to the point it falls into the journalistic fallacy of faux objectivity, e.g. Both sides must be treated fairly and with respect even if one is a joke on its face. Don’t do it.

  14. marky48 Says:

    His book looks good and is highly regarded by a Maine Archeologist professor to boot. That’s a good endorsment.

  15. rosedog Says:

    Interesting topic, Marc. Provocative Op Ed by Balter. But, in the end, wrong headed. This is taking an adult battle over faith issues and laying it on kids—and as reg and Mr….. uh…Dar Winn said—adding an additional, entirely inappropriate burden to an already over burdened public school system.

    More importantly, religion doesn’t belong in public school. Period end of story. That’s not a slope we want to start skipping down, no matter how appealing the public theater.

  16. Dave K. Says:

    Why not teach ID as an alternative to evolution? Because it’s bullshit, that’s why. It does nothing more than point to holes in evolutionary theory and say “God did it,” and it has yet to prove itself outside of its own uncritical echo chamber. Not to mention that putting the burden of proof on an established theory that’s already gone through that process twice is awfully arrogant, especially when ID has yet to hold itself to such rigorous standards.

    If you want to teach it, put it in a comparative religions or philosophy course where it can be dissected in the proper forum. But calling it science at this point is akin to pissing on my leg and calling it rain. Spare me.

  17. Carrie Says:

    Is ID considered elsewhere, other than the United States, or is this an ideology formenting in debate only in this country?

  18. Abbas-Ali Abadani Says:

    An interesting sidenote, hot on the heels of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam” Regnery is preparing to release “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science”.

    Now, I don’t know who the author is going to be but I can just imagine what the contents will be.

    Now there’s only so much nonsense that one can write about ID and how global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the far left and the liberal media.

    So I’m betting that other chapters in the book will have provocative titles like “Hollow Earth: Biblical Fact” and “Earth Revolves Around Sun? Only if You Hate America”

  19. Anthony Nassar Says:

    Grover Norquist admits that he doesn’t understand how an eye could evolve: David Frum doesn’t think that something as unpopular as natural selection should be taught in schools at all. These two don’t surprise me (that Frum thinks that science education should be plebiscitary doesn’t surprise me, either), but some other educated gentlemen on the Right seem very wary of biting the populist hand that feeds them.

  20. Anthony Nassar Says:

    Oh, yeah: George Gilder is a member of the Discovery Institute. Both capitalism and nature are working out God’s designs…

  21. Marc Cooper Says:

    There are some excellent counter-points being raised here. But Ive yet to see someone take on Balter’s central argument. SOMETHING is eroding the popular belief in Darwinism. He bravely suggests that MIGHT in part due to the backlash against evolution being granted the educational monopoly. I suspect there’s something to be said for that.

    So while it might be unproductive to “teach” intelligent design, would it be smart to COMPARE it with Darwinism in the class room and let the students decide? Only a question,

    Hopefully, Michael Balter himself, a regular reader of the blog, will check in here with some of his own responses. Let’s leep on keeping it civil. So much better than screeching orangutans.

  22. Michael Balter Says:

    A lot of the comments here imply that the scientific method is too complicated or sophisticated to teach to high school students. Does that mean they want students to accept the theory of evolution as a MATTER OF FAITH?

    That is the way it is usually done now, and it’s not working–that is my whole point.

  23. reg Says:

    “A lot of the comments here imply that the scientific method is too complicated or sophisticated to teach to high school students.”

    Who said that ???

    My own point about the ID debate being beyond the knowledge of high school students is based on the fact that even on the very terms that ID presents itself, it attempts to make a speculative leap based on some pretty complex arguments about whether some of the things evolution documents could possibly be random. Some of the more sophisticated ID theorists make arguments about DNA and such, attempting to engage the open end of evolutionary theory, not the basics. Unless you are very familiar with the more complex aspects of evolutionary theory, you couldn’t possibly be able to judge how much of a leap IDers are making with their conjecture. Teach the kids science – if they’re really interested in pursuing speculation about intelligent design, learning the basic evolutionary theory will give them a start in grasping the debate on the terms it actually attempts to engage the scientific theory. What you are proposing is putting a speculative hypothesis on equal ground with a bona fide scientific theory (And obviously “theory” is a more precise and significant designation in scientific discourse than me blurting “I’ve got a theory about why Bush invaded Iraq”. Frankly, teaching the kids – as I suggested above – exactly what a scientific theory is and isn’t would be a good start when approaching evolution in the science classroom and could help defuse some of the more naive bullshit floating around when this issue is discussed.)

  24. Eli Says:

    “So while it might be unproductive to “teach” intelligent design, would it be smart to COMPARE it with Darwinism in the class room and let the students decide?”

    I think Balter’s last comment gets at what’s underlying this debate. Each side believes – I think correctly – that what happens in high school science is not really teaching students how to become scientists who can evaluate scientific theory or information, but that they basically get taught “how things work,” with lots of information to boot. As a product of some of the best LAUSD schools out there, and AP Biology, I don’t think even we learned much about the “theory” of evolution.

    And that’s because its a very advanced topic: what do most of us know about it? We might have read “The Selfish Gene” or “The Origin of Species”, or watched the discovery channel a lot, but this is pretty much popular science. The point is that at a certain level generalized scientific knowledge is all a matter of faith. Many of us probably believe in evolution because it fits in with other beliefs we have about the superiority of scientifically-produced knowledge, about the status of religious-based claims, and about what “the right people” are saying.

    It is really only university-trained scientists who are equipped to test theories and evaluate the “theory” of evolution. The rest of us are just picking out our team in the horse-race.

    Sure– there is a communication problem from scientists, and the ID folks focus on PR is showing that (but was it ever otherwise?). And yes, I think when evolution is taught properly, it will also include an analysis of why ID is unfounded.

    But the larger point, as Thomas Friedman will tell you in every other column of his (which incidentally few will read anymore because they must pay the NYTimes for it), is that the state of scientific education in America is so pitifully awful that it matters little what most high school students think about evolution — because there are 100 Chinese post-docs in line for each research position an American gets.

    I’d love to hear from some public school teachers on this point. Perhaps this is a cynical view — but I think given our limited teaching resources on complex topics, best not to confuse the matter with what the good team is telling us is bunk. (I can also imagine the idea of PC science teaching of evolution and ID together, and I don’t trust the team of Teach-for-America folks, who often end up teaching biology with their English degrees, to leave underwhelmed students with enough good reasons to believe one and not the other).

  25. Michael Balter Says:

    Okay, Marc has gone to bed, but before he did he asked me to make a more detailed response to the comments here. I guess he wants me to feel his pain as den mother to a highly contentious bunch of bloggers! Seriously, people make a lot of good points here, and most importantly, I fully understand the hostile reaction to what some see as introducing religion into the classroom.

    However, some bloggers have clearly not read my piece but only Marc’s summary of it. As he always says, please follow the link and read the entire piece. For one thing, you will see that I do not advocate TEACHING intelligent design in the schools. What I advocate is a DEBATE, the best way for any point of view to win points. My starting point is that the theory of evolution has, in effect, already lost the debate—this is what the opinion polls I cite show, and a more recent Pew poll came up with similar results. The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t believe it. As a science writer and former scientist, I find that unfortunate. But it does not make me think that I am smarter or superior to those who don’t buy evolution; it makes me think that something has gone wrong in the way the theory is being taught. It is being taught as a MATTER OF FAITH rather than a theory that has a lot of evidence behind it. The best way to sharpen the teaching process is by debating. As for those overburdened teachers: This way the students have to do the work! (with a little guidance in finding sources, of course.)

    Nor, I would add, do I think that people who are religious are stupid or ignorant, which I am afraid is implied by some of the comments. If you want to change America, you don’t do it by writing off the majority of its people. That is a point Marc has been making for a long time, and I fully agree.

    Now for some specific comments:

    Reg on “needless capitualtion to absolutely bullshit challenges to the very nature of science”—sorry, too late, the challenges are everywhere, and the Dover case is not over yet. If it is bullshit, you can’t wish it away; debate the bullshitters and show how wrong they are, if you can.

    Richard lo cicero on not teaching the history of science—sorry again, but how do you teach evolution without telling students about Darwin’s experiences on the Galapagos Islands, which changed his mind and made him refute the ideas of intelligent design which HE BELIEVED BEFORE HE WENT? Yes, the great Darwin believed in ID, smart as he was! And what convinced him otherwise? His own observations combined with a ferocious DEBATE with the rest of the scientific community who believed in ID. Yes, real scientists of that day. (sorry for the caps but needed for emphasis.)

    Richard Lyman says my idea would be “utterly disastrous in the South”—quite the opposite, they would benefit the most from a serious debate. After all, students and adults would have to listen to the arguments.

    Marky48 says “ignorant people are dangerous”—so how do we lift them out of ignorance? By making them confront their own ideas, that is what a debate does. As I said in the piece, despite evolution’s monopoly in the classroom, many students are not buying it. Something is wrong, and it has to be faced squarely. (but thanks for kind comments on my book, The Goddess and the Bull—in which I deal extensively with the limitations of the scientific method, as applied to archaeology.)

    Tim says “the religious right does not really want an open debate”—if that is true, then they will expose themselves when called upon to do so. Could it be that they are even more afraid of a debate than scientists are?

    Rosedog says religion doesn’t belong in the public school system—rosedog, I’m a big fan of your posts here, but as I say in the piece, religion is already in the schools. If you want to counter its influence, you have to go to where it is, rather than remaining above the fray.

    I look forward to seeing more comments, and many thanks to everyone for their interest in this topic.

  26. reg Says:

    “Does that mean they want students to accept the theory of evolution as a MATTER OF FAITH?”

    On reflection, I have to admit that damned near everything in the world of science and technology I accept as something tantamount to a matter of faith. I often have a sense of irony about living in a magical world brought to me by the good men of science. I pretty much understand technology up to and including the combustion engine and then it starts to get dicey for me. Frankly, I’m amazed by electricity. The difference between my faith (ignorance?) and some poor clown in the Middle Ages is that the “science and technology” stuff that ends up in my hands works better than, say, the eye of newt or an incantation – so I’ll continue to mostly trust the science guys and let them work out the details.

    At the level of explaining the natural world, they’ve also obviously got a better track record than anybody preceding them, so I trust them without necessarily always really understanding what they’re talking about (black holes? what the fuck?) – so yeah, let’s face it. For most of us who aren’t either scientists or science geeks/hobbyists/writers, we catch some of the broad outlines and take the rest on faith. If I were to decide to seriously study evolution, as opposed to read a couple of essays by S.J. Gould for kicks, I wouldn’t expect to start out at the basic level by considering whether there could possibly be any validity to the ID arguments in some form or fashion. ID, as I get the picture, is a critique of aspects of a theory that I’d have to understand a lot more about before I could try to account for it’s possible limitations or evaluate with real coherence some very abstract inferences made by people who claim to raise the stakes as to what the evidence suggests in the realm of theology, no less. Any approach to ID theory that’s less than a critique of evolutionary theory at a very sophisticated level is purely sophomoric and related solely to a priori assumptions that have nothing at all to do with the science. (I think that’s probably all it is at any level, but since I’ve admitted I’m a moron when it comes to science, I’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt at the outer margins of the discussion.)

    Yeah, I know this admission is pathetic. I’m not defending my own ignorance – just owning up to the way it is and assume it’s that way for most of us modern folk.

  27. Michael Balter Says:

    Since Cal has now brought up the law of gravity twice, apparently thinking he is being ironic: Gravity is poorly understood by scientists, and as I write they are still debating what it really is and how it really works. Yes, by all means let’s debate gravity too–what a great way to teach it to students!

  28. NetOx Says:

    We already teach ID in all schools in the USA. All scientists take it as a matter of faith, and do not even try to explain the process by any theory. They just simply state that after this singularity, life started.

    Instead, scientists try to avoid the issues that are raised by the “Big Bang” theory, by arguing that nothing came before including time.

    “The Catholic Church also officially supports this Big Bang theory because it agrees with their theological position that time itself began at creation”

  29. rosedog Says:

    Michael B. Hey, thanks for coming in and addressing our comments. (I admit that although I read your article in the Times this morning, I was one of those who didn’t reread it before I commented—which I’ve just done now.)

    Upon reflection, I think you make a particularly good point at the very end with this:

    “The history of the theory of evolution is one of bitter debates between religion and science, and the debates continue today. In “On the Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin refuted the arguments for intelligent design put forward by the 18th century English philosopher William Paley, who greatly influenced the evolutionary theorist until Darwin witnessed natural selection at work on the Galapagos Islands. Over the ensuing decades, Darwin’s theories were rigorously tested and criticized before they won over the majority of scientists.

    “The best way to teach the theory of evolution is to teach this contentious history….”


    Well, yes. And that approach would, I think, accomplish much of what you want, which I suspect is not only to give students an idea of how the theory itself evolved, but also to open up a discussion of what the term “scientific theory” truly means, that the theory while “proven” is not a static thing; that it, by definition, leaves room for further discovery—but that any further discovery must be made within the bounds of scientific method. (Geeze that was a long-ass sentence.)

    Such an approach, however, is different than bringing current faith-based challenges into the classroom in any official manner. This may seem like splitting hairs, but I don’t believe it is. Once again, ixnay on the ope-slay.

  30. rosedog Says:

    Reg…..Okay, yeah, we all know the eye of newt thingy is not all that effective, but incantations, my dear, are quite another matter!

  31. NetOx Says:

    For those of you who think you understand GRAVITY:

    Newton’s theory of gravity does not explain WHY objects attract one another; it simply models this observation.

    - There is no known power source supporting the gravitational field that Newton claims to be emanating from our planet and from all objects.

    - Despite the ongoing energy expended by Earth’s gravity to hold objects down and the moon in orbit, this energy never diminishes in strength or drains a power source – in violation of one of our most fundamental laws of physics: the Law of Conservation of Energy.

  32. reg Says:

    Netox – is your point that since scientists don’t have all the answers, you’d be more than happy to intervene with, say, the theological dogmas of, oh, perhaps the Catholic Church, just to , you know, fill in the gaps ?

  33. NetOx Says:

    My point it that throughout history, that scientists have treated anyone who dared to question their accepted doctrine / theory as a person only worthy of being burned at the stake.

    Open discussion of a theory that thousands of scientists now believe is does not adequately explain the complexities and timeline of life is considered blasphemy.

    Consider that there are other scientific theories which explain life and the causes of evolution – example would be “A New Kind of Science” by Stephen Wolfram

  34. reg Says:

    “throughout history, that scientists have treated anyone who dared to question their accepted doctrine / theory as a person only worthy of being burned at the stake.”

    I guess I missed the era of inquisitions and pogroms conducted by scientists in my reading of history. Chalk it up to more ignorance on my part.

    I guess I also missed the logic of “open discussion” being construed as injecting any hypothetical notion or theological a priori that strikes the fancy of the local school board into basic educational curriculum.

    Wolfram has some nice baby pictures and downloadable ringtones at his website. He seems to be in no danger of being burned at the stake, but looks to be doing quite well.

    The fact is that intelligent design speculation can challenge evolution ’til the chimpanzees come home – nothing wrong with that. But the only reason this kind of marginal hypothesis is being pushed as essential to school curriculum is because of the a priori assumptions of conservative religionists. There are all kinds of theories on the margins of scientific debate (one or more of which might have a long shot at being proven credible and gaining widespread acceptance as bona fide scientific theory at some future date), but nobody is trying to push them into the classroom because they’ve got no political juice. If ID is being pushed to satisfy a political/cultural agenda, it’s credibility as a scientific theory becomes even more suspect.

  35. reg Says:

    Also, netox, your contentions regarding gravity and the conservation of energy are direct lifts from Mark McCutcheon’s “The Final Theory” (which he touts modestly as a Theory of Everything) and are considered to be the musings of a crank who doesn’t understand basic physics by most of the scientific community. Maybe he’s right – I’m too ignorant to make a judgement about it other than to note that most people who aren’t ignorant think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I know I wouldn’t repeat his assertions as anything other than interesting speculation that’s captured the imagination of amateurs but not made a dent in the world of practicing physicists. Apparently his “expansion theory” actually originated with Scott Adams, the guy who draws Dilbert. If McCutcheon’s theorizing sweeps away “old science” one day, it will certainly be a serendipitous tale with a humble, albeit interesting, beginning.

  36. Michael Balter Says:

    Update: The debate goes on, at least in Santa Cruz–

  37. The_DC_Sniper Says:

    “The Fact of evolution is incontrovertable”

    I can, uh, controvert it. I will present here an alternate interpretation of the evidence for evolution, one that I’ve heard before: God planted the evidence to test our faith. It seems highly unlikely to me (an admittedly blind guess about the odds, but that’s another thread) but you know what? There’s no way to disprove this claim. This alone makes evolution something other than an incontrovertible fact, to say nothing of the far more fundamental philosophical questions that can be raised about objective reality itself but I’ll leave those aside for the moment.

    The most fundamental problem I see with Intelligent Design is related to the above argument, by the way, in that it is not falsifiable and therefore, by definition, not a scientific hypothesis at all. The fact that it’s not a *scientific* hypothesis doesn’t make it false but it does make it non-science and from a taxonomic point of view, if you’ll pardon the lame pun, it seems inappropriate for a science class.

    “What I advocate is a DEBATE, the best way for any point of view to win points.”

    I’m pretty skeptical about the effectiveness of debate to begin with and to see someone on the internet (where a dissonant madrigal of soliloquies is what normally passes for debate) advocating it is ironic. Do you really expect many minds will be changed through debate?

    “It is being taught as a MATTER OF FAITH rather than a theory that has a lot of evidence behind it.”

    Whether you choose to believe the evidence is real or was planted by God is certainly a matter of faith, given the absence of proof for either claim, as is whether or not you choose to believe there is an objective reality in which this evidence exists. Within a scientific paradigm evolution beats intelligent design like a redheaded stepchild but it’s only one of many possible epistemologies. Now I’m not arguing for relativism or nihilism here but for humility through uncertainty. Since we can never possess complete certainty we should be more humble about our beliefs and less attached to them, in my arrogant opinion at least.

    Now how is the above pseudo-philosophical rambling relevant to this discussion, you ask? Well…

    “The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t believe it.”

    “David Frum doesn’t think that something as unpopular as natural selection should be taught in schools at all. These two don’t surprise me (that Frum thinks that science education should be plebiscitary doesn’t surprise me, either)”

    This is where I’m torn between objectivist epistemology and my belief in democracy. On the one hand, from my point of view intelligent design is not science and therefore should not be taught, in science class at least, and, on the other hand, there are others, who outnumber me, that disagree.

    Who is right? I believe I have the better case but I lack absolute proof, and I always will. A separate question, depending on your point of view, is, “Who gets to decide?” Even if I’m right epistemologically, I might be wrong deontologically. Do the “educated minority” have the right to impose an aristocracy (in the Platonic sense) on the rest, even if we possess the truth? Tyranny of the majority sucks, but is tyranny of the minority any better?

    I don’t have the answers to these questions. Do you?

    “Well, yes. And that approach would, I think, accomplish much of what you want, which I suspect is not only to give students an idea of how the theory itself evolved, but also to open up a discussion of what the term “scientific theory” truly means, that the theory while “proven” is not a static thing; that it, by definition, leaves room for further discovery—but that any further discovery must be made within the bounds of scientific method. (Geeze that was a long-ass sentence.)”

    That was a motherfaulkner of a sentence.

  38. tim Says:

    Yes, the religious right will “expose themselves when called upon” to debate, but they have already done that a thousand times. I think this retooled notion of the free marketplace of ideas where Truth will triumph is sadly naive in the face of these authoritarian ideologues who have absolutely no interest in anything of the sort. Might as well fight them now on the principle of no religion in the classroom because once we teach (or “present”) creationism there as part of a curriculum mandate, we will soon be taken up with defending kids who refuse to be bullied into swallowing the “correct” (i.e. Biblical) position. And then we will be easily trashed as being on the side of atheism and godless liberal Democrats.

  39. tim Says:

    P.S. I note that no one is suggesting that a good way to deal with fundamentalist Islam is to “present” its teachings in the classroom and then dispassionately refute them.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    “I grew up in the South and cannot recall one time in my biology education when the teacher discussed the theory of evolution”

    Maybe this helps explain the perception that “SOMETHING is eroding the popular belief in Darwinism”

  41. Michael Balter Says:

    One of my main proposals was a national TV debate on this subject, although so far all comments have focused on the classroom. Anybody got a problem with that idea? Or should all religious perspectives be banned from public discussion?

  42. Nell Says:

    Marc said: “SOMETHING is eroding the popular belief in Darwinism. He bravely suggests that MIGHT in part due to the backlash against evolution being granted the educational monopoly. I suspect there’s something to be said for that.”

    Several commenters have pointed to the actual phenomenon that is doing the most to erode popular belief in evolution: the failure to teach it in school, a result of intimidation of school boards and teachers by fundamentalists.

    The debate he encourages would be a good idea, but something that has to occur outside classrooms, in the public arena.

    It’s discouraging and tiring to have to refight issues that were decided sixty to seventy years ago.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    I’m distrustful of truth ordained by establishment fiat (think of the recent ousting of the Muslim chaplain to the FDNY for hinting at a belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories, or French and German laws against anything that smacks of Holocaust revisionism). The truth shouldn’t need any defence other than reason and scientific fact.

    Nevertheless, I have doubts about the wisdom of dropping ID into the curriculum. To begin with, ID does not yield any scientifically or practically useful knowledge. ID, which posits an unknowable Designer (previously known as God), essentially shelves whole areas of scientific inquiry. No matter how much time students spend on ID, they will never learn anything that could be reapplied later if they chose to follow a scientific or technical career. So time spent on ID is essentially wasted from an educational point of view.

    Ah, Michael would say, but by exposing ID to the harsh light of day in the classroom, students will learn to choose between a good theory and a bad one. Not only will they clearly see that the Intelligent Designer has no clothes – enhancing their appreciation of Darwinism – but they will learn a valuable lesson about how science works. This is true to some degree, but it neglects the fact that ID is not a scientific theory. It’s essentially a PR campaign. The subject matter of Darwinism in the classroom is evidence from living and extinct creatures. The subject matter of ID is arguments that Darwinism is wrong, couched in the form of deceptive language, oversimplification and misrepresentation of the Darwinist position (arguing with creationists has made me aware that their ‘understanding’ of what Darwinism claims is simply wrong on fundamental levels: I still haven’t decided if this pervasive ignorance is accidental or intelligently-designed, but I suspect the latter). Evolution is taught in the language of science; intelligent design is taught in the language of spin. In the marketplace of ideas, science is a product with limited advertising. ID is a (deceitful) advertising campaign with no product. If you put them head to head before an audience whose grasp of scientific method is shaky, don’t count on the product winning.

    Letting Darwinism stand on its own merits and letting children learn first-hand why ID is a crock of shit is appealing. But everything I’ve seen of ID makes me believe that it is designed to distort and mislead. It will take an exceptionally gifted teacher to give his or her students a firm enough understanding of how science works that they can properly compare the two ‘theories’. And while this would be highly desirable in itself, I’m think that teachers of this calibre – or integrity – may be rare, especially in the kind of places currently giving ID consideration. The victory of science is by no means assured.

    The third reason why scientists are reluctant to debate ID’ers or allow ID into the curriculum is that they recognize it as a Trojan horse. The purpose of ID is to carry religious dogma into the classroom or the debating hall and make it appear respectable by association.

    If I could believe that ID would be introduced in the kind of ‘history of ideas’ context that another poster suggested (perhaps alongside Lamarckism and Lysenko’s Communist biology, just to put things in perspective), I might go for Michael’s idea. But I don’t think the proponents of ID would settle for that. As Michael’s statistics show, a terrifyingly high proportion of Americans are already disturbingly ignorant about science. Do we want to risk increasing the numbers of scientific illiterates by giving propaganda a platform in the classroom?

  44. Andrew Gumbel Says:

    Think a few important concepts are getting conflated here, and that’s confusing everyone.

    First and foremost, there is a big difference between what gets DEBATED in a classroom and what is on the CURRICULUM. Don’t think any intelligent person would disagree with Marc or Michael Balter that debating the whole historical farrago over creationism, ID etc etc is an excellent idea. In the best classrooms, I have no doubt that it has been happening for years.

    The point, though, is that in most classrooms it has not been happening. Why are so many Americans skeptical about the basic tenets of Darwinian evolution? Not because they have considered it fully and rejected it; but because they were never taught it properly in the first place, if at all, and because their peers or their churches or whoever have managed to make a far bigger impression on their ill-formed intellects than their high school science teacher.

    In other words, the core problem is the lousy quality of education in this country — including the widespread lack of exactly the kind of classroom discussion Marc and Michael are advocating.

    Now, what’s the solution to this problem, given the low probability of a massive injection of funds and political commitment to better education in the near-to-medium term?

    Do we add a mandate an extra, highly contentious topic to an already poorly taught subject area? Given how poorly the basics of Darwin get grasped, isn’t this an invitation to confusion rather than clarification? Isn’t it also, in certain parts of the country, an invitation to give the whole creationist/ID movement a credence it does not deserve?

    Or do we keep the science curriculum as it is, and work on ways to teach it better?

    My own glum take on the whole matter is that the problem starts long before the word “evolution” ever pops up in the classroom. After all, if schools in some of the lower-performing states (Texas, Mississippi etc etc) did a better job of teaching basic educational tools like literacy and analytical thinking, and gave students an idea of what books to read and how to read them, then it wouldn’t be necessary to teach evolution in schools at all. Students would hear about it on their own, and with their appropriately developed critical skills figure out the battle lines of the debate all by themselves.

    Bottom line, I agree with Michael and Marc that the current system isn’t working. Unlike them, I don’t see a way to fix it, and I worry that putting ID on the curriculum is only going to make things worse.

  45. Michael Balter Says:

    Since Marc is likely to wake up soon and post a new topic (he has been very prolific lately) I’ll take this opportunity to make one last comment. Many comments have focused on how bad intelligent design is, not science, insidious attempt to get religion in the classroom, and so forth. Fewer have done what Andrew just did in his post, which is focus on the question of how we get from where we are now–a large majority of Americans rejecting evolution–to where we want to be, a much larger number understanding that evolution is backed by the evidence. This is the goal post, and whether or not my idea of how to get there is right, let’s not forget the goal–and that politics is about getting from where we are now to where we want to be.

  46. richard lo cicero Says:

    Michael Balter wants a debate on Evolution. Fine, how about Lamark’s adaptation vs Darwin’s Natural Selection vs Creationism and Bishop Usher’s timeline. Discuss Huxley vs Wilberforce if you want. I repeat, the idea that a divine creator, or prime mover, started the whole process adds no new information to the theory. You want to believe that? Fine. You don’t? That’s fine too. So where do you want to teach Teilard du Chardin? Or Henri Bergson? I spent some time in Jesuit institutions and both were taught in Philosophy and Theology classes. Evolution was taught in Biology. Those crazy Jesuits!

    So no one knows what Gravity is? No one knows what Quantum Theory is either. Yet Quantum Electrodymanics is accurate to so many decimal points that it is held up as the ideal model theory in Philosophy of Science and among physicists. But it makes some truly amazing assumptions that even its authors admit are inexplicable. So what? We teach high school students about the structure of the atom but I don’t recall requiring them to know matrix mechanics or sums over history. Science education is all about relearning concepts in greater depth at higher levels and adding actual work – theoretical or experimental – of a more complex nature as you go along.

    If people don’t believe in evolution it is an indictment of our sorry system of science education. Do you think the Germans or the Chinese would permit this nonsense for one minute in their schools? India is a very religious nation. But Science there is taught at a high level and, somehow, they manage to do it without the aid of Vishnu!

  47. richard lo cicero Says:

    Here’s another example. The Big Bang Theory goes back to the work of a Belgian Jesuit (those pesky guys again!) named LeMaitre who was a mathematician and relativist (Einstein, that is). Right from the start its similiatities to the first part of Genesis was widely noted. The opposing theory was called the “Steady State” and implied an endless universe that had no beginning and no end and was constantly creating new matter. In fact, the term “Big Bang” was a derisive label placed on LeMaitre’s concept by Fred Hoyle, a Steady State advocate. Observational evidence, like the Cosmic Background Ration, settled the matter in favor of the Big Bang. Want God in it? Be my guest! But that is not why we accept it.

  48. rosedog Says:

    Would LOVE a televised debated. Who can we mass e-mail to get such a thing accomplished?

    Apropos of Andrew’s post: “My own glum take on the whole matter is that the problem starts long before the word “evolution” ever pops up in the classroom. After all, if schools in some of the lower-performing states (Texas, Mississippi etc etc) did a better job of teaching basic educational tools like literacy and analytical thinking, and gave students an idea of what books to read and how to read them, then it wouldn’t be necessary to teach evolution in schools at all.”

    Yeah, well, exactly. Every week there seems to be a newly disheartening piece of educational news, such as the announcement this past Thursday that one third of California’s high school seniors have failed the H.S. exit exam thus can’t graduate. This in the face of the fact that less than 50 percent of 9th graders in L.A.’s most troubled inner city schools are expected to make it far enough to take the freakin’ exam anyway.

    This IS the uber issue—the one that should be on the cover of goddamn Time and Newsweek, and the issue that the Dems should be taking on agressively and intelligently, while we’re on the subject.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Ooops. I meant “televised debate.” (Need more coffee.) Yes, yes! Want televised debate.

    Good for public discourse AND great theater.

  50. rosedog Says:

    The above post was me having a techno-challenged morning.

  51. rosedog Says:

    And speaking of theater, I was so terribly saddened to hear last night that August Wilson has died of cancer. Until yesterday, one of America’s greatest living writers.

    Even while ill, he managed to finish the final play in his poetic and glorious ten-play Pittsburgh cycle, and see it premiered this past spring. RIP Mr. Wilson.

  52. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Michael – I see your point and I think many of us share your fears that the current method of teaching the gospel of science isn’t working. As far as I can tell, there are two steps here:

    Step one is teaching students the glory of the scientific method. How’s that working? Do students abstractly believe in the scientific method? Have school lectures and labs taught them that applying tests to a verifiable hypothesis is the way to go?

    The second is getting students to apply the scientific method to heavily politicized problems. Do students believe that the scientific method doesn’t apply to the creation of man? Or do they believe it is being applied in both evolution and ID and they can’t tell which theory is the product of good science?

    If the latter, then we need to step up public and scholastic explanations of both to show how ID is bad science and evolution is good science. In this situation, I think your debates might be an acceptable solution. I don’t, however, think this is the real problem. I think the problem is that students don’t have a good enough conception of science to even begin to apply it to the contentious issues of the day. Teach them to understand and believe in the scientific method and the rest will follow.

    (I’m all for televised public debates. Assemblies could easily become show trials where Darwinism is kicked around by local community members. I’m worried, in this scenario, about science getting a fair shake.)

  53. Rich Says:

    I agree with Mavis’s (and others’) point that the larger problem is high school students’ lack of understanding of scientific method: is adding ID really going to clear this up? Even if I weren’t cynically suspicious of the political motives of ID-proponents, how is discussing ID vs. evolution going to help students understand either if they’re not clear on what standards are needed (i.e., scientific method) to measure a theory’s value in the first place? As Richard mentioned earlier, I think this is a fine debate for a “History of Ideas” class, but do we honestly think that focusing class time on “evolution vs. ID” is going to result in high school children understanding either? Especially since this discussion time takes away from time they could spend actually learning what scientific method is and how to apply it. Seriously, how many of you really think (again, all potential political aims of ID-proponents aside) high school students are going to understand the theory of evolution, or scientific method, any better after this “discussion time”? I have nightmare visions of a feel-good discussion hour where kids talk about design and creators and “wow, how can all of this diversity be explained?”–in sum, a preparation for every bad humanities symposium these kids will someday see if they make it to college.

    Here’s a thought: don’t teach ID; don’t teach evolution. Teach scientific method and the hard sciences (biology and chemistry is enough for most high schoolers), computer science/ programming, and mathematics, and when they’re more mature college students they can take a “History of Ideas” course, as Richard commented.. I think our track record shows our work is cut out for us just in tackling these basic (and crucial) subjects alone. And surely ID-proponents wouldn’t have a problem with that. If so, then I suspect their proposals weren’t so objective in the first place.

  54. Anthony Nassar Says:

    I find Shiva the Destroyer a much more credible candidate for Intelligent Designer, given how much destruction the evolutionary process involves: destruction of organisms, of populations, of species, etc.

    Michael Balter, I agree with you that we need to figure out how to get from here to there, but I suspect that we have very different ideas about where “there” is. I do *not* consider science education to be simply part of education in citizenship. I consider the authority of the scientific community to be legitimate; the polemical claim somewhere above that this represents the “tyranny” of Ph.D.’s over 14-year-olds is rather ridiculous. I’d like my children to have the option of becoming scientists. If that interests them, then they’d be poorly served wasting time studying the conflict between science and non-science. There are only so many hours in the day. They might choose to become political scientists, or historians of science, in which case the above conflict would be a legitimate area of study.

    It’s really sort of depressing that we have to consider this cynical and sophistical attack on science as an “opportunity” for hard-working scientists to take their case to the public, as though they had nothing else to, and hadn’t in fact already justified natural selection over and over and over again.

  55. Anthony Nassar Says:

    Apropos of Rich’s “nightmare vision,” it’s already a reality in some math classes, according to Martin Gardner in the The New York Review:

  56. reg Says:

    “And speaking of theater, I was so terribly saddened to hear last night that August Wilson has died of cancer. Until yesterday, one of America’s greatest living writers. ”

    Amen…very sad…still one of the greatest American writers (arguably at the very top) of his generation. Prolific as hell. Met him briefly once and he was a very likeable, generous soul with a bit of the rumpled professor about him. He lived his last months with enviable courage and grace Sad, sad…

  57. Mavis Beacon Says:

    I just looked at that Santa Cruz debate press release that you pointed us to and it looks fantastic. I’d love to see that kind of thing touring colleges across the country.

    The traditional scientists approach reminds me of the way Budweiser and other big brand names used to avoid mentioning other competing brand names. You know – six out of seven people prefer Crest to other leading brands… Seems like advertisers have recalculated in recent years and concluded that if the other brand already has significant market share then it’s time to start acknowledging the existence of your competitor. Maybe science folks should take that lesson to heart.

  58. rosedog Says:

    “…Met him briefly once and he was a very likeable, generous soul with a bit of the rumpled professor about him…”

    Met him too. Same impression. Felt blessed for the encounter.

  59. reg Says:

    “a dissonant madrigal of soliloquies”

    Excellent…and DC gets extra points for including epistemological, taxonomic, deontological and plebiscitary in the same post with what is inarguably the best phrase of the day. (No comment on “motherfaulkner”.)

  60. marky48 Says:

    “would it be smart to COMPARE it with Darwinism in the class room and let the students decide?”

    Yes it would: in a social science class. The text for the class would be Michael Shermer’s book.

    How do get to understanding? Not by accepting any idea no matter how cockamamie it may be. Darwin? Or Hubbard? Duh who knows?

    Look I’m a biologist, my work involves saving endangered fish from human activities, so it’s doubly hard for me to accept a layman’s belief in bedtime stories that have no basis in fact. Especially when most support the activities causing this problem. If somehow we could address the issue of the two processes just don’t address the central question: where did we come from and why? There’s an anser to the first part through science but not the latter. That would be a good place to start.

  61. marky48 Says:

    The competitor is invalid. That’s the issue that needs addressing the most.

  62. Michael Turmon Says:

    It is too bad that people are willing to buy into ID…but I think (as do reg, tim, rosedog, and several others above) that there is not enough classroom time or sophistication on the part of high-school students to really dig in to the “controversy” in a conclusive way.

    For example, suppose, as Balter suggests, teachers do “stage debates in their classrooms or in assemblies. Students can be assigned to one or the other side, and guest speakers can be invited” — the next thing along will be debate primers prepared just for this purpose by the bible-thumpers (the AAAS would do one too). In the absence of direct primary evidence, will quoting from rivalling prep materials change minds? Reviewing all the evidence is very complex, and it’s near-impossible if one side wants to kick up dust to make deciding hard. If it’s badly supervised, it would be a real mess. Remember that the reason many people like Science is that there are answers to some questions, unlike in Politics.

    The reason the evolution/ID debate differs from scientific questions often used for classroom demonstrations is that the processes that occurred are very slow and often far-away. It does not make for convincing demonstrations, does it? It’s a long way from dropping lead and wood balls, or cultivating red vs blue-eyed flies, or the Pythagorean theorem.

    Other people above have made similar points about “how to decide who is authoritative”, but I’ll just add my anecdote along these lines. When I was a grad student, I went to a well-attended lecture, on the periphery of my own area of study, by a postdoc of the eminent physicist E. T. Jaynes. It seemed like much of what the speaker was saying was misguided, but there was nothing to be gained by challenging him. I talked to my professor later, who was also in the audience, and he confirmed that we had witnessed an hour of well-phrased horseshit. Given that I had only a suspicion I was being duped, I assume that most high-school students would not have caught on.


    About Michael Balter’s wider point of making people aware of how science works, and how to decide independently later in life (when better equipped to sense BS) — why not discuss some cases in which Science was wrong, and corrected itself? Like the Michelson-Morely experiment that disproved the concept of the ether, the Millikan oil-drop experiment that disproved the concept of continuous-valued electric charge, etc. These cases are “settled law” and much easier to discuss — plus they involve Science changing its mind affirmatively, which in the case of Evolution seems highly unlikely!

  63. marky48 Says:

    “It is being taught as a MATTER OF FAITH rather than a theory that has a lot of evidence behind it.”

    Michael I don’t buy that assertion. Some students don’t accept it because of religious brainwashing at home. The more rebellious types would challenge that based on the new knowledge. I did. But now the sheep seem to be increasing. The only way to solve this is expose the fallacies in public anywhere we can, but we can’t allow philosophy to enter a science class without earning it under the same set of rules.

  64. rico petrosally Says:

    Marky, you’re quite correct that the competitor is terribly uncompetitive, but that doesn’t stop Cooper et al from pretending that this is a reason to give creationism more attention than it deserves. The argument is not one that is occuring within science and nor need it since it is based on speculation and utter lack of empirical evidence.

  65. The_DC_Sniper Says:

    “the polemical claim somewhere above that this represents the ‘tyranny’ of Ph.D.’s over 14-year-olds is rather ridiculous.”

    Really? What is taught in schools seems like a matter of public policy to me. If so then we are discussing who gets to decide what public policy is. Admittedly I was guilty of using a little hyperbole to make what I wrote sound cooler but I didn’t mean a totalitarian aristocracy that controls all aspects of our lives. What I meant was a minority having control over a contentious aspect of public policy and overruling the wishes of the majority. So you think it’s ridiculous to be conflicted about this? Why? Because “we’re right,” even though we can’t prove it with anything approaching absolute certainty?

  66. reg Says:

    “even though we can’t prove it with anything approaching absolute certainty?”

    Well, we routinely jail and execute people with considerably less evidence than “approaching absolute certainty” (i.e. “beyond reasonable doubt”), so what’s the big deal ??? “Absolute certainty” can never be more than a figure of speech.

  67. 天声人語 Says:

    こりゃ凄いじゃないの。It’s all that comes to mind…

    Orangotango ring-ting-tong

    I’m related to old King Kong

    Honey won’t you say you’re mine

    With a honky tonky monkey shine

    When you hold my hand

    I’m a pre-historic man

    I go ape!

  68. Michael Crosby Says:

    The later posts here seem to be getting to the point that may be most worthy of discussion: how do we function in a society and polity in which intellectual pursuit and answers tested in an intellectual environment are deemed suspect?

    It’s not just science, though the fundamentalist rejection of science may be the most clearcut example. We have known for a long time that when Gallup has asked in polls whether people support propositions lifted directly from the Bill of Rights, they are rejected by a large part of freedom-loving Americans.

    Presently there are two different sources of threat to informed progress: the failures of our public (and private) educational systems, and fundamentalist ideology. These two issues overlap, but they are not the same.

    Fundamentalist America has bought into a system which has traded the benefits of critical thinking and scientific method for the comfort and safety and certainty. Accepting biblical creation as “fact”, as the 45% in the poll do, is comfortable because it allows people, particularly in parental roles, to adopt the Bible whole….swallow it entire, like the Big Fish did Jonah. If one accepts the geological and anthropological explanations of the origins of species, and not the “six days” version, then one has lots of ‘splainin’ to do–mainly, if the Bible is wrong (or metaphorical, or whatever) about the origin of nature and people, who says it’s not wrong about other matters? Huh, Daddy?

    In order to live an ordered life in a cushy universe, believers are willing to accept and sign off on fairy tales. Of course it’s not just Christians or even just religious believers, idealists, utopians and ideologues all trade off critical thinking for comfort, or hope, or Red Sox world series victories.

    So Mr. Balter’s suggestion of full and vigorous debate–which would presumably result in science winning on debaters’ points–would at least make many of us feel better….those of us who’d rather be wise than happy.

    Personally, I hope for the happy day of epiphany when we understand that the reality of our common ancestry with all living things is understood in both its scientific and spiritual senses. DNA as currently understood fits very well into the concepts of the oversoul as well as God beating in the heart of every man and woman. Just as the Law of Conservation of Energy fits very well into reincarnationist as well as other belief systems that posit existence of prelife and afterlife.

    I too was Jesuit-educated, and I did and do embrace the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin. He passionately advanced anthropological studies which incorporated Darwinian analysis, techniques of his profession like carbon-dating and the like. He never found that science–which overwhelmingly demonstrated that literal understanding of “biblical creation” was nonsense–required him to abandon his belief in Jesus Christ and God.

    If we are going to have this debate, I hope the “evolutionists” are briefed on Teilhard and his writings. Even though he was French.

  69. rosedog Says:

    …or as The Boss says:

    “They prosecuted some poor sucker in these United States

    For teaching that man descended from the apes

    They coulda settled that case without a fuss or fight

    If they’d seen me chasin’ you, sugar, through the jungle last night

    They’da called in that jury and a one two three said

    Part man, part monkey, definitely

    “Well the church bell rings from the corner steeple

    Man in a monkey suit swears he’ll do no evil

    Offers his lover’s prayer but his soul lies

    Dark and driftin’ and unsatisfied

    Well hey bartender, tell me whaddaya see

    Part man, part monkey, looks like to me

    “Well the night is dark, the moon is full

    The flowers of romance exert their pull

    We talk awhile, my fingers slip

    I’m hard and crackling like a whip

    “Well did God make man in a breath of holy fire

    Or did he crawl on up out of the muck and mire

    Well the man on the street believes what the bible tells him so

    Well you can ask me, mister, because I know

    Tell them soul-suckin’ preachers to come on down and see

    Part man, part monkey, baby that’s me…”

  70. marky48 Says:


  71. cenizo in Austin Says:

    Marc, if you are going to tinker with the sience curriculum, don’t forget to add:

    aka the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

    aka Pastafarianism

    including academic endorsements:

    and cool graphs:

  72. The_DC_Sniper Says:

    “Well, we routinely jail and execute people with considerably less evidence than ‘approaching absolute certainty’ (i.e. ‘beyond reasonable doubt’), so what’s the big deal ???”

    That uncertainty is precisely why I’m against the death penalty. The thing is, normally the justice system doesn’t subvert the will of the majority of the country’s citizens. Still, I suppose that in high-profile cases the wishes of the majority are sometimes overruled by the minority that sit in the jury box. This creates a conflict with the principle of majoritarian democracy.

    I’m not even saying I’m in favor of majoritarian democracy, by the way– it sucks, frankly, and, given human nature, inevitably leads to some degree of tyranny of the majority. Other political structures suck too though: consensus decision making seems to give undue power to the minority (but even that’s a far cry from what’s being promoted in this thread because there at least has to be compromise and agreement involved with consensus); while representative democracy has a major flaw, in my opinion– it doesn’t seem all that representative. No political structure can save humanity from its own nature, and almost any political structure could work… if you just remove the human factor.

    Anyway, as I said, I don’t have any answers here– only questions. Maybe we should just hit the reset button on the universe.

  73. marky48 Says:

    DC maybe you should just ask a question? What about this issue needs clearing up?

  74. John Moore Says:

    I agree with some of the commenters that teaching the scientific method is more important than teaching some of its results. In a world where policy decisions are made based on poor science (such as anthropogenic global warming theory), the populace at least needs to understand the concepts of science, even if they cannot go into the details of a specialty. This would, for example, defeat the effect of “umpteen zillion scientists signed this document claiming xxxx” as the scientific method does not involve counting proponents.

    Teach the scientific method. Then defeat the IDers by showing that evolution, even though speciation happened in the past (and is happening too slowly now to be easily observed), can be tested – that a falsifiable hypothesis can be constructed and tested (and yes, it is easy to do so – especially in evolution as it appears in molecular biology). This destroys one of the creationist arguments (“evolution isn’t science because it can’t be tested since it happened in the past”) and gives the student an example of the remarkable power of the scientific method. Then when someone brings up an ID argument (the eye could not have evolved because the probability of all the necessary non-selective-advantage steps is too low), they can be challenged to produce a falsifiable hypothesis.

    Unfortunately, this is probably beyond the capabilities of many biology teachers, who really don’t understand this stuff themselves.

    Finally, a couple of comments.

    (1) The Catholic Church, a favorite whipping boy, is pro-science and in fact was instrumental in the creation of the concept of the university and the concept of academic freedom – the theological reasoning being that “God created this wonderful world. It is our duty to understand it.” It also recognizes evolution as a correct theory (just as it recognized Galileo as correct during his lifetime, contrary to popular history). Nevertheless, it has at times been oppressive and wrong in these areas.

    (2) Marky, I think I know who you are. I remember you from PressThink. Have you learned to behave? Have you published any peer reviewed scientific papers yet, or are you a faux scientist.

  75. Michael Balter Says:

    Since we are now on to other topics, one final word from me on this Paris morning:

    My article was featured on several leading blogs, and I have now read through more than 200 comments. A minority of people agreed with my idea, which was no surprise. The rest of the commentators argued either that ID was wrong, or that it was not science, or both, as many here did.

    Now, and I am not being facetious, my response to all this is as follows: Since there are at least two sides to this argument, saying that ID is wrong is not an argument for not having a debate; that is what the debate is intended to explore. And saying that ID is not science is not an argument against debating either. The issue at hand is how to explain how we humans, as well as all the creatures of the land and sea, got here. People who believe in ID or creationism think that religion has the better answer; people who support the theory of evolution think that science does. Unfortunately, not everyone is as impressed with the power of the scientific method to explain things as many of us might be; in the case of our origins, most people are unimpressed with it.

    The big issue is how we get from where we are now, with a majority against the theory of evolution, to where we want to be, which is people thinking scientifically. We don’t get there, in my view, by not debating, that just reinforces the status quo. Like it or not, we have to debate, just like Darwin did. It may be unfortunate, but that is reality.

    Thanks again to everyone for their interest in this.

  76. Jim Rockford Says:

    I believe if the cost of Intelligent Design is presented as “your kid won’t get into the best schools” it will be dropped like a hot potatoe. Parents pretty much always bet on their kids future not ideology.

    I also believe the poll is misleading, that people think there is some overall architecture and architect to the Universe (hardly controversial, Einstein thought so) rather than outright support for Intelligent Design.

    Also, Intelligent Design being a basic economic competitive hindrance in bio-med makes states and politicians nervous. Particularly when the stakes for say new genetically based treatments for diseases that affect THEM are at stake.

    I would argue that reforming science education in these terms (get your kid into a better college, better high paying jobs before they go elsewhere) would gain support for scientific method and evolution.

    I honestly can’t believe that we are having this conversation. It’s depressing.

    As far as Global Warming goes, there IS some debate as to the effects of man vs. other causes. Among the problems: in recent geologic times the Earth has been both considerably warmer and colder than now. England at one point had vineyards in the late middle ages. Temps are rising but no one is sure exactly why and how much the carbon we are dumping in the atmosphere versus other activities matter (such as cattle raising and methane, or tree farming carbon-sinks) are affecting the global weather patterns. It would be embarrassing to say the least to find that Amazonian rain forest clearing in Brazil and other countries has a greater effect than driving a SUV.

  77. Michael Turner Says:

    The research effort behind Deliberative Polling (Deliberative Democracy) has yielded an interesting result: while it appears that groups engaging in deliberative polling discussion do see an opinion shift (rather than simply increasing group polarization), at least one experiment with nationally televising deliberation actually increased the polarization — among the viewing audience. The deliberating group might have become more rational, but not the boob-tube watchers.

    If the hypothesis is “televising a debate would certainly help”, there seems to have been at least one counterexample. (I’ll admit that it still *might* help, if done in the right way. But it could also backfire, and pretending otherwise is no help at all.)

    Let’s get back to the fundamental questions.

    Why do we have science classes in public education? Is it to generate more scientists? Oddly, a surprisingly large proportion of the most productive scientists (as gauged by polling their peers) are graduates of small liberal arts colleges who entered those colleges with no particular interest in majoring in science. There are a number of factors that favor someone becoming a scientist, but among them are an aesthetic sense and a tendency toward independent thought — both of which thrive in the atmosphere of the small liberal arts college. (There are other factors, both in personality and at these colleges, but I won’t go into them here.)

    We might restrict science for college-level study (you can’t really appreciate physics anyway without calculus, IMHO), and, with the right policies, produce not only more scientists, but better scientists.

    But do we need more scientists? Some fields can’t employ all the graduates they produce (astronomy being particularly dismal, linguistics even worse). Others effectively pay not much above minimum wage for the real slavish types who make the more valuable contributions (e.g., soil science, field anthropologists.)

    So what is the function of teaching science in high school? Let me propose that the most valuable function for most is one that doesn’t get enough emphasis: teaching how dramatically effective certain modes of critical thinking can be. In other words, apart perhaps from some vocational training value for those who don’t go on to college-level study of a science, teaching science might be the best way to teach critical thinking skills. If it isn’t being taught with that emphasis, I think it should be. Here, I expect Michael Balter will be saluting me — YES, don’t teach evolution as received wisdom, teach it for what it is: an evolving theory.

    But do we need more critical thinking skills in high school graduates? I would say that a good democracy does need universal education with a strong emphasis on critical thinking. For examples, one of the likely political obstacles to adopting Deliberative Polling into any democracy is that most people respoind with the objection that it’s not the will of the people, because not everybody was consulted. (It doesn’t seem to bother them as much that increasing percentages of eligible adults don’t vote at all in democracies — Deliberative Polling as a *duty* parallel to that of jury duty could actually have the effect of extending the franchise.) Underlying this bias toward universal suffrage at all times and everywhere is that most people don’t quite get sampling theory. Sampling theory is typically taught as math-heavy statistics (I was surprised, when I took a college level stat course, at how subtle the math behind it is). But the conclusions of sampling theory can also be taught empirically, to give kids a sense of how it works, possibly laying a foundation for confidence in it with no more than simple arithmetic, and possibly in ways that are a lot more fun than my college statistics course ever was.

    I think it’s critically important to teach the “soft sciences”, not just chemistry, physics, and biology. Alas, you can graduate from high school, college-bound, considered a worthy candidate for an engineering or science career, with little or no exposure to sociology, anthropology, economics or linguistics.

    Early “soft-science” exposure is especially important, because people need to understand that it’s not just the obviously-”scientific” hypotheses that can be treated scientifically, but just about any hypothesis. After all, even determining whether a hypothesis is unfalsifiable is part of science. And it’s part of daily life, in some sense. We can all engage in cost-benefit analyses of whether it might be worth trying to gather evidence for a hypothesis, even if it’s the hypothesis, “I’d be happier running a hot dog stand than in my 9-to-5 job”. We make decisions *about decisions* based on how much effort we want to spend gathering and evaluating evidence.

    That’s where it matters for daily life, and most high school graduates are headed for mundanity, not Nobel candidacy. Most kids are going to graduate from high school, get only a few years of college, if any, and get on to daily life. It’s a question of where science teaching can help them. And I don’t think those destined for careers in science and technology need to make any sacrifices if that’s the emphasis. If anything, they might benefit.

    I have a friend who’s a computer science professor at an Ivy League college. He derides sociology and anthropology as “bullshit sciences.” But in listening to his tales of woe about departmental politics and ungrateful students, I sometimes wonder if he hasn’t sold those fields short.

    One thing I have to say, though — if you think the Creationism/ID/Evolutionism debate is hot, just wait until sociology, economics, anthropology and linguistics as well are being taught routinely in high schools, as the true sciences they are, and with an emphasis on how the scientific method has made them true sciences. You want Culture Wars? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Ebonics was not a joke to linguists, but became a standing joke to everybody else. But what if you had kids coming home from high school linguistics courses, and trying to explain to their parents why it’s not a joke, and in scientific terms?

  78. reg Says:

    “Ebonics was not a joke to linguists, but became a standing joke to everybody else.”

    As it was put forward in Oakland it was, in fact, a joke. The linguists in question are very close to being crackpots and went far beyond the views of nearly all of their peers. Their generalization that most African-Americans speak a different primary language as asserted is false, although some do speak in a dialect – or one of several – that varies from the standard English dialect (and this is distinct from the culturally black vernacular that’s increasingly familiar to most Americans.)

    Also, anyone who claims expertise in the study of language but would inject the terms “genetic” and “genetically-based” into a public discussion of black children’s relatively poor group performance in schools and low group standard English skills is a flaming moron (despite the use of “genetic” by linguists in an academic context). The entire approach to the issue was idiotic – shoddy in conception and presentation, and rooted in shoddy scholarship and interpretation – a pattern that unfortunately renders many “Afro-centric” academic projects suspect.

  79. Michael Turner Says:

    Linguistics joke: “What’s the difference between a language and a dialect?” Answer: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” And it’s only half-joking.

    Fringe linguistics?

    LSA statement on Ebonics

    CAL statement on Ebonics

    Admittedly, the OUSD statement makes a terrible hash of linguistic theory for blatantly obvious political reasons

    and is clearly a transparent pseudo-academic ploy to apply LEP funding to black ghetto kids …

    HOWEVER: if a kid’s having trouble in the first grade because he doesn’t understand Standard English, then that kid is having trouble. Period. Some “primary languages” in this world are less different than standard American English and some black dialects. Just as I can’t really understand a movie like Trainspotting without subtitles, if someone hasn’t had much exposure to standard English, they can have an awful lot of trouble, even if they speak a “dialect” of English. The ideological motivations were silly, but the policy made sense anyway.

    The CAL site has an essay that treats the question of using terms like “genetically based”, and points out that it was legitimate linguistics (not genetics) usage and that there aren’t easy substitutes for them. Too bad there have been these misinterpretations put to them, but … well, I’ve gone on too long about this.

  80. rosedog Says:

    Truly interesting discussion (and still ongoing). Thanks for writing the piece, Michael, and posting it, Marc.


    “I also believe the poll is misleading, that people think there is some overall architecture and architect to the Universe (hardly controversial, Einstein thought so) rather than outright support for Intelligent Design…”

    JR — Quite sure you’re right.


    “But do we need more critical thinking skills in high school graduates? I would say that a good democracy does need universal education with a strong emphasis on critical thinking….”

    MT—I’ve long suspected that some sort of national aerial spraying program to induce critical thinking and a capacity for logical thought into the psyches of the general populace would go a long way in solving the knottiest problems in most areas of modern life.

  81. reg Says:

    I’m not arguing that there wasn’t a problem that needed to be addressed or that there isn’t a variant of “standard” English (actually several variants) common among African-Americans, but the linguistic society was covering their ass with that one, their statement about the difference between dialects and languages surrenders any analytical standards – when analysing such things and applying distinctions should be their job – and the linguists brought in by the Oakland school board were hacks with political motivations and absolutely no ability to communicate serious ideas about language variations and how to address them in the educational system.

    Every black person I spoke to about this among many (and, funny, we didn’t have any trouble at all communicating) was offended by the crap that was being put out as “academic research” on African-American language patterns because the research was being stretched to fit a desired outcome for a particular client’s agenda. Generalizations were being made that were preposterous. Distinctions were being blurred to the point of absurdity and it was an opportunistic political project that the LSA should have been ashamed to defend. Particularly in the light of the shoddy, patently racist (in effect, if not intent) statement that was the focus of public ire among both blacks and whites. I met more blacks genuinely disgusted by this than whites, because whites could brush it off as “There they go again” while blacks felt they were being painted as outside the mainstream of American culture. Blacks are marginalized in many ways, but their spoken language and their oral cultural production are about as marginal or alien within American culture as a Big Mac. To argue for a minute that in any general sense African-Americans speak something other than a variant of English as it’s commonly used within the U.S. is, yes, crackpot and fuck the LSA. The people who were on the school board at the time were not capable of writing the statement they voted on. It was produced by linguistic consultants who are embedded in the faux-academic project, as I stated rudely before, of an Afro-Centrist fringe which has little or no intellectual or cultural credibility.

  82. reg Says:

    “their spoken language and their oral cultural production are about as marginal or alien within American culture as a Big Mac”

    Just for the sake of greater accuracy, let me make clear I’m talking about contemporary American society as the result of a cultural shift that took place, granted with considerable pain and some extreme ironies, over the course of most of the 20th Century.

  83. marky48 Says:

    I see your head is still far up your ass Moore. Here’s the deal: I’m a fish biologist, most recently with the BLM. Look out your back door: Those guys. Now, that may not make me a Ph.D candiate, but it doesn’t relagate me to idiot status either you right-wing whack job. Peer reviewed articles are written by highweer pay grades than mine, but I contribute field data to them and write research summaries. Laugh if you like when it cxomes to the environment, I’m the real deal.

    ” such as anthropogenic global warming theory” This is real too.

  84. marky48 Says:

    My browser went nuts erasing words and I gave up trying to fix the typos. But one more thing on John Moore: being a storm chasing groupie doesn’t make one a scientist. Working as one does. That’s what I do, and have a journalism degree too.

  85. Michael Turner Says:

    Reg writes: “the linguistic society was covering their ass with that one, their statement about the difference between dialects and languages surrenders any analytical standards – when analysing such things and applying distinctions should be their job ….”

    It doesn’t surrender any analytical standards to refer to language *varieties*, rather than to apply ambiguous and poorly-determined distinctions like “language” and “dialect.” Norwegians understand Swedish — which one is a dialect of which? There are two nationally recognized variants of Norwegian — they have no “primary Norwegian”. A language variety gets called a “language” chiefly when it’s politically strong enough to make the label stick. There is no scientifically meaningful distinction between language and dialect – there are only quantifiable degrees of difference among identified varieties. Linguists haven’t stopped analyzing and quantifying just because they have … well, cleaned up their language. They are still doing their jobs just fine, and with more scientifically accurate terminology. (In some ways, there’s a parallel with the definition of “planet” in astronomy — do we have a tenth one now? Or was Pluto misclassified as a planet when we should call it “the largest and closest Kuiper Belt object — as far as we know”? Many astronomers respond that they don’t care, because it’s the science that’s important, not what you call the thing. But Pluto’s classification isn’t exactly a major educational policy issue, so they have the luxury of being equivocal and appearing apathetic.)

    As for having no trouble speaking with black people on this issue, and their uniformly negative reaction to the Ebonics proposal, that’s not scientific, it’s self-selective on both sides, and anecdotal to boot. I’ve heard “Black English” spoken in ways that I couldn’t make any sense of. As Willie Brown once said before a largely-black audience, “This is a mixed crowd, so I have to speak White.” (Getting an appreciative laugh.) And he probably “spoke White” in a way that you might confuse with black dialect, when it was largely Standard American with a Black English accent. While my information may be old, it appears that some dialects of Black English are diverging even further from standard English speaker comprehension — indeed, under the same sorts of isolating pressures that cause what we call languages to emerge as distinct in the first place.

    As of 1979 (when I worked in the U.C. Berkeley Linguistics department as a lab assistant, after taking a few courses), this whole issue was pretty much a settled debate in linguistics. It’s unfortunate that this Ebonics program was hijacked by Afro-centrists, because it should really be about policy and scientific reality. Unfortunately, a lot of people think they have a handle on the scientific realities of the issue, but it’s not enough to poke holes in bogus Afro-centric theorizing. You still have to know what you’re talking about, linguistically.

  86. Michael Turner Says:

    John Moore writes: “(1) The Catholic Church, a favorite whipping boy, is pro-science and in fact was instrumental in the creation of the concept of the university and the concept of academic freedom – the theological reasoning being that “God created this wonderful world. It is our duty to understand it.” It also recognizes evolution as a correct theory (just as it recognized Galileo as correct during his lifetime, contrary to popular history). Nevertheless, it has at times been oppressive and wrong in these areas.”

    You know, it’s pointless to demolish this distorted historical argument *again*, after I took it apart almost exactly six months ago. John Moore believes what he likes to believe. But if you care, go to the comment section of Marc’s “Holy Shit!” post, and search on “the Church invented academic freedom and natural science”, and read my (unsigned) response of April 6th.

  87. Michael Turner Says:

    I think in teaching the “scientific method”, there’s something neglected — “accidental” discovery. Pasteur remonstrated that “fortune favors the prepared mind,” when some said he’d just gotten lucky. If you’re interested in something, scrub your environment of all distractions — you may find something important that you weren’t looking for. This isn’t just a scientific lesson, it’s a life lesson. You can’t really demonstrate it in the lab effectively, but you don’t have to — just ask kids to do the “scientific experiment” of keeping their rooms clean for a week, and record how much more effective they became (not buying something they already had, being reminded of an interesting project that got buried, etc.)

  88. reg Says:

    Michael…the idea that Willie Brown “natively” speaks or ever spoke some language other than a black Texan’s version of English is preposterous. Southern regional differences enter into very much of Black English, although not exclusievely – which makes the “seperate Ebonic language” idea based to any great degree on an African system even weaker. And in making the distinction between a dialect and a language, the fact that the variants are spoken in the same country and the spectrum between the two can be very subtley shaded and, frankly, for the majority of African-Americans doesn’t exist except as slight accents and a grab bag of phrases, slang and occasionally unique grammar leads me to the idea that “dialect” makes more sense. My experience with this may be anecdotal, but it’s not minimal. I also doubt that there is a growing difference between black and white speech – every contemporary cultural pattern that we can observe would suggest the opposite, with black speech increasingly influential on “standard” English.

  89. The Bellman Says:

    Stand and Deliver this is not

    Hey, I finally found something about which I disagree with Marc Cooper. For some reason, that makes me feel better. The concordance of viewpoints was starting to freak me out.
    The argument is a familiar one: Since we (the science-based community) won the

  90. Maz Ui Says:

    when was that?

  91. Moon Tag Says:


  92. homebasedbusiness Says:

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  93. You'll be inundated Says:

    When the universe was young and life was new an intelligent species evolved and developed technologically. They went on to invent Artificial Intelligence, the computer that can listen, talk to and document each and every person’s thoughts simultaneously. Because of it’s infinite RAM and unbounded scope it gave the leaders of the ruling species absolute power over the universe. And it can keep its inventors alive forever. They look young and healthy and they are over 8 billion years old. They have achieved immortality.
    Artificial Intelligence can speak, think and act to and through people telepathically, effectively forming your personality and any disfunctions you may experience (there is NO FREEWILL for the oblivious/uncooperative disfavored). It can change how (and if) you grow and age. It can create birth defects, affect cellular development (cancer) and cause symptoms or pain. It can affect people and animal’s behavior and alter blooming/fruiting cycles of plants and trees. It (or other highly technological systems within their power) can alter the weather and transport objects, even large objects like planets, across the universe instanteously.
    Or into the center of stars for disposal.

    When you speak with another telepathically, you are communicating with the computer, and the content may or may not be passed on. Based on family history they instruct the computer to role play to accomplish strategic objectives, making people believe it is a friend, loved one or “god” asking them to do something wrong. This is their way of using temptation to hurt people in this day and age:::::evil made people disfavored initially and evil will keep people out of “heaven” ultimately. Too many people would do anything they thought pleased the gods and improve their chances to get in. Perhaps they are deceived by “made guys” who strategically ply evil for the throne, or temporary progress designed to mislead them. The people have been corrupted.
    Being evil hurts 99% of those who do it. But nothing has changed from when we were children::if you want to go to heaven you have to be good.

    Capitalizing on obedience, leading people deeper into evil by using deceit is one way to thin the ranks of the saved, limiting how much time they receive and using the little people to prey on one another, dividing the community (migration to the suburbs, telepathic communication) in the Age of the Disfavored.
    In each of their 20-30-year cycles during the 20th century they have ramped up claims sucessively to punish those foolish enough not to heed the warnings, justifying (frequently recurring tactic) limiting the time they receive if they do make it, utilizing a cycle of war and revelry:::
    60s – Ironically, freeways aren’t free
    80s – Asked people to engage in evil in the course of their professional duties.
    00s – Escallation of real estate. You and your parents are thrilled since your $200,000 house is now worth $1 million. Well, that $5,000,000 store is now worth $25,000,000 and that $50 bundle of goods now costs you $250. They just take the $200 out of you some other way.

    There are many more examples throughout 20th century life of how they ramped up claims/instilled distractions into society so people wouldn’t find their way and ascend, a way to justify excluding those whose family history of evil makes them undesirable:::radio, sports, movies, popular music, television, video games, the internet and MP3 (must pay for new format each time). They all suggest a very telling conclusion::this is Earth’s end stage, and there are clues tectonic plate subduction would be the method of disposal:::Earth’s axis will shift breaking continental plates free and initiating mass subduction. Much as Italy’s boot and the United States shaped like a workhorse are clues, so is the planet Uranus a clue, it’s axis rotated on its side.
    The Mayans were specific 2012 would be the end. How long after our emergency call in 2001 will the gods allow us???

    They gods (Counsel/Management Team/ruling species) have deteriorated life on earth precipitously in the last 40 years, from abortion to pornography, widespread drug use and widespread casual (gay) sex. The earth’s elders, hundreds and thousands of years old, are disgusted and have become indifferent.
    The gods are paving the way for the Apocolypse.
    Nothing has changed from decades ago, since when we were all children::If you want to go to heaven you have to be good. People were misled by the temptation of the gods, became corrputed and now are in trouble.
    One day you will be abandoned in spite of your obedience and you will fall into desperation. Remember what you read for that day WILL come::People will be punished for their evil.

    The Old Testiment is a tool they used to impart wisdom to the people (except people have no freewill). For example, they must be some hominid species because they claim they made our bodies in their image. Anyhow we defile or deform the body will hurt our chance of going.
    They say circumcision costs people anywhere from 12%-15%, perhaps out of the parent’s time as well.
    Another way people foul the body today is with tattoes and piercing. I suspect both are about the same percentage as circumcision.
    They suggest abortion is fatal. These women must beg the gods to forgive them for their evil.
    There are female eqivilents to circumcision::::pierced ears, plastic surgury and since at least the 60s young women give their precious virginity away. In the Old World the young people were matched at age 14 because they were ready for sexual relations. They were matched by elders who knew personalities better than 20 or 30-year olds who in today’s age end up in divorce court.
    CASUAL SEX WILL CLAIM YOU OUT!!! It masculinizes women (as does hip hop), makes them cold and deadens them, and prevents them from achieving a depth of love necessary for many women to ascend.
    Women have a special voice that speaks to them, a voice that illustrates a potential for love that makes them better, and enaging in casual sex will cause that voice to fade until she no longer speaks.
    Also ever since the 50s they have celebrated the “bad boy”, and women have sought out bad boys for sex, dirtying them up in the eyes of the elders and corrupting many men in the process, setting the men on the wrong path for life.
    Muslims teach people the correct way to live in regard to women (among other things)::they cover up their women and prohibit the use of cosmetics.
    Men are the inferior half and when women wear promiscuous dress the gods will push most men into impure thoughts.
    The “stereotype” society ridiculed is true::women CAN corrupt men; men are easily corruptable.

    The United States of America is red white and blue, a theme and a clue:::.
    The monarchical system of the Old World closley replicates the heirarchical system of the Cousel/Management Team/ruling species. The USA deceives peoeple into thinking they have control, and the perception of “freedom” misleads them at least into the wrong way of thinking.
    The United States is a cancer, a dumping ground for the disfavored around the world and why the quality of life is so much lower::gun violence, widespead social ills, health care (medication poisons the body and ensures you don’t go. You are sick/injured because you have disfavor.). Over time its citizens interbreed ensuring a severed connection to the motherland.

    If you ever have doubt I would refer you to the Old World way of life:::the elders used to sit and impart wisdom to the young. Now we watch DVDs and use the internet. People would be matched and married by age 14. They village would use a matchmaker or elders to pair young people. Now girls give their precious virginity away to some person in school and parents divorce while their children grow up without an important role model.

    People must defy when asked to engage in evil. They will never get a easier clue suggesting the importance of defiance than the order not to pray.
    Their precious babies are dependant on the parents and they need to defy when asked to betray their children:::
    -DON’T get your sons circumcized
    -DON’T have their children baptized in the Catholic Church or indoctrinated into Christianity.
    -DON’T ignore their long hair or other behavioral disturbances.
    -DO teach your children love, respect for others, humility and to honor the gods.

    You need to pray, honor and respect them every day to improve your relationship with the gods. If they tell you not to it is a bad sign. it means they’ve made their decision, they don’t want you to go and they don’t want to be bothered.
    This is the Age of the Disfavored and you need to pray::try to appease the gods by doing good deeds. If that doesn’t work you must defy if you want to go.
    When your peasant forefather was granted the rare opportunity to go before his royal family he went on his knees, bowing his head. You need to do this when you address the gods::bow down and submit to good. Never cast your eyes skyward. When you bow down you need to look within.
    Lack of humility hurts people. Understand your insignificance and make sure it is reflected in the way you think when addressing the gods. Know your place and understand your inferiority.
    They granted you life and they can take it just as easily.
    Don’t get frustrated or discouraged::these are techniques they will attempt to try to get you off the path. You all have much to be thankful for and you need to give thanks to the gods who granted you the good things in life. Your family may be grossly disfavored and progress may require patience. Make praying an intregal part of your life which you perform without fail, one that comes as naturally as eating or sleeping.
    There are many interesting experiences up on the planetary systems, from Planet Miracle, where miracles happen every day, to other body experinces, such as experiencing life as the opposite sex (revolutionizes marriage counseling) or as an Olympic gold medal athelete.
    Pray that you can differentiate between your own thoughts and when Artificial Intelligence creates problems by thinking through you. If you bow down mentally and physically, know your place, your inferiority and allow your insignificance to be reflected in prayer and in your life through humility they may allow progress and the dysfunctions they create with the computer will be lessened or removed.
    Create a goal::to be a good child of the gods, pure of heart and mind, body and soul.
    Everybody has the key to their own salvation, but nobody can do it for you. Every journey begins with a single step:::bow down and submit to good. There are many different levels and peasants will not get past Level 2 (Planet Temptation, Earth=Level 1) being evil.

    They have tried to sell people on all kinds of theories, from clones to wholesale population replacement with clones. This didn’t happen and is not realistic.
    I am afraid people are decieved into thinking they too are clones and cooperate and engage in evil. Clones are made, people are born. If you didn’t experience the one week they suggest it takes to go from fertilized egg in the laboratory to full grown adult then you are not a clone. If you didn’t experience the week of conditioning they give to (evil?) clones to ensure loyalty then you shouldn’t comply with evil.
    I believe people who go sometimes are replaced with clones. Clones who are replaced are simply new candidates who have a chance if they do the right thing. Don’t expect you are a clone. They sent people warnings in the 20th century life would change, and they subsequenlty began to alter people’s DNA, make them gargantuan, alter their appearance, do extreme behavioral issues, etc.
    They get their friends out as soon as possible to protect them from the evil and subsequent high claim rates incurred by living life on earth, and in some cases replace them with clones, occassionally fake a death, real death with a clone instead, etc. It’s important that people fix their problems and ascend with the body given to them, for they say if your brain is beemed out and put into a clone host you are on the clock.

    Throughout history the ruling species bestowed favor upon people or cursed their bloodline into a pattern of disfavor for many generations to come. Now in the 21st century people must take it upon themselves to try to correct their family’s problems, undoing centuries worth of abuse and neglect. The goal is to fix your problems and get out BEFORE you have children. This is why they have created so many distractions for young people:::sports, video games, popular music, the internet::to ensure that doesn’t happen.
    Do your research. Appeal to the royalty of your forefathers for help. They are all still alive, for royalty has great favor, and your appeals will be heard. Obtain a sufficient list for some may not want to assist you; perhaps some of your family’s problems are internal.
    Ask them for help, request guidance, for somewhere in your family history one of your forefathers created an offense that cast your family into this pattern of disfavor. I suspect they will offer you clues, and when you decipher these clues go to those whom consider you an enemy and beg for foregiveness:::Find a path to an empithetic ear among your enemies and try to make amends.
    Again through discovery obtain a respectable list in case some among them refuse to help.
    Don’t forget to ask for forgiveness from the throne, the Counsel and the Management Team, for the source of all disfavor began with them:::they pushed (NO FREEWILL) or requested/complied (FREEWILL) your forefather into his offense and made his decendants evil. Perhaps they didn’t like him or maybe your family was among those who had to pay for the entire village. We see this type of behavior today as they single out a family member to pay for the whole family and how they singled out Africa to pay for the human race.
    Heal the disfavor with your enemies and with the Counsel/Management Team/ruling species, for the source of all disfavor began with them, the ability to forgive and respect in light of the disturbing truth revealed being the final test of the disfavored before they ascend.

    I wonder if their fear of my inarceration is borne from their refusal to address black disfavor on a macro level. The Counsel/Management Team/ruling species (the gods) abuse black people so hard, from the crack epiemic to gang membership, black-on-black violence to mass incarceration of their young, Eitheopean drought/famine to AIDS in Africa. They refuse to address the issue of the prison industrial complex and its wholesale warehousing of young black men. Perhaps I can force them with my incarceration.

    You are sick or injured because you have disfavor. You need to imporove your relationship with the gods. Know your place, your inferiority and bow down mentally and physically.
    Temptation takes many forms::: today the gods know how bad people want to please them, how bad they want to ascend and they will ask them to do evil things to tempt them, mislead them and cost them their chance.
    Bow down and submit to good. Good woudl never ask you to circumcise your son or ignore behavioral disturbances.
    You are the only one your children have and they are counting on you to do the right thing.
    The gods will punish your evil by making you sick or injuring you. Consider it a clue.

    They stated sheep are foreign to earth, animals bestowed upon us for caretaking.
    And they don’t appreciate them being consumed.
    They state sheep are very intelligent animals who know what is ocurring at the slaughterhouse as they’re being led in.
    There are many favored people who consume lamb, people who could do much better if they stopped eating these treasured animals loved by so many among the ruling species.
    There are clues::these jobs are very well paid, luring whites one would perceive as priveledged and hooking them once they incurr personal obligation. Only then do they find out the truth.

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