Montag, 14. April 2008

Too precious to ignore

I found this little gem by the writer of "Expelled" on Manufactroversity (an awesome term to describe the core claims of Expelled).

Kevin Miller, one of the writers for "Expelled" spills the whole guts
of their anti-science agenda at "After the Bar Closes":

"As for being mystified by "my cause," my main interest in this
project is the whole philosophy of science angle. How do we
conceptualize science and its implications? How can we know that we
know anything? The debate between rationalism and empiricism.

First of all, that last sentence is laughable. We apply rationality to interpret these results of empiricism. How there can be a debate between those two things is beyond me. I can only wildly guess that he sees empiricism as some sort of empiricism without rationality. Maybe that would mean one would rather not apply the rational explanation that drugs can cause hallucinations, but claim the things these people see are real. I would not call that empiricism, though, and I am sure Kevin Miller agrees. Yet, if you apply supernatural cause, which you never measured, but only felt, assumed, or claim to have seen, you're doing exactly the same thing as applying reality to hallucinations. So, I remain baffled as to what his definition of empiricism is supposed to be, if rationalism is not supposed to be part of it.

Epistemology, that sort of thing. Personally, I see ID as a challenge
not just to Darwinian evolution but to the very foundation of the
scientific enterprise itself. Will we allow non-material causation
into science or won't we?

We most certainly would if evidence spoke that way. Since I can remember ever hearing about ID, they've been asked to bring forth just such evidence, and not delivered. Even before it was 'ID', but just crationism, there has always been a major fail at producing anything substantial - like functioning theories, experiments, etc. Empty claims were debunked by the evidence, such as irreducible complexity... so, we're still waiting for the epistomological evidence.

Most people think this question was settled
decades or centuries ago.

Centuries, I don't know (but I would think so), but certainly for decades, it has been the consensus among science to only allow explanations that are evidence-based into science. The answer to the question is the same as above and has been for all this time: any form of causation will only be allowed into science if there is evidence for it, and if it is testable. If it's not testable, it's not even in the realm of science.

IDers say new evidence in biology and
elsewhere compels us to reconsider our answer.

Yes, that's true: That's exactly what IDers say. Unfortunately, saying it doesn't make it true, at least not in the sense creationists claims. Evidence in biology leads us elsewhere all the time - so if I took this sentence out of context it could even be considered correct. After all, this is how science works - follow an intriguing hint of new evidence and hope to discover something new. Unfortunately, evidence does not currently lead us to "non-materialistic" causation. There's no other way of saying it than pointing at the above sentence in context and realize that it is simply wrong, if not a deliberate lie.

I find this intriguing,
especially when you bring in philosophers like Michael Polanyi, Alvin
Plantinga, and new discoveries in quantum physics that are essentially
saying the same thing. I'm not talking about supernatural causation--
as in magic. Just non-material causation, such as human consciousness.

Okay, stop. That's one of those absolutely typical creationist strategies - one of the very typical non-scientific ones (and I am not so sure they're doing this consciously), so let's expose it. A) He finds it intriguing. That's his right, for sure. I used to find the "Bible Code" intriguing, before I realized what a bunch of nonsense it is. But - uh - quantum physics are saying the same thing? I am sorry, sir, you fell for another unsubstantiated creationist claim - or made up one yourself. But here comes the big mistake: Suddenly, human consciousness is a non-materialistic causation. Would you have noticed the blatant flaw in that one, if I had not pointed it out? Maybe, maybe not. He uses human consciousness as a reason, as evidence for non-material causation, suggesting that it really is, implying that it's just a fact that fits the subject. It's not. There's no evidence that human consciousness has a non-materialistic causation. It's a complex subject and we might not yet know how it works (and it is very intriguing), but as always "we don't know yet" is certainly no evidence whatsoever for "non-materialistic" causation. There's no positive evidence for "non-materialistic" causation, either, but Kevin Miller would like you to buy that as a fact when he writes this sentence, hidden in the paragraph. Whether that's deliberate or not, the context tempts us to believe that.

Right now, I see many branches of science--particularly evolutionary
biology--as highly rationalistic. Theory-driven rather than evidence

I would like his definition of 'rationalistic'. He seems to wish to imply this is a bad thing, so I am highly interested in his definition. All I can think of is "thinking rationally", which is the very core of science. People who don't think rationally, but irrationally, certainly don't produce useful results that others or they themselves can build upon. So I am really intrigued as to what this "rationalistic" is and why he implies its a bad thing. If that last sentence in the above quote is supposed to be any explanation for that, it fails its purpose. Or he just didn't get the point of a theory. We can spell it out for him, though:

Evidence leads to conclusions. Lots of evidence leads to hypotheses. Tested hypotheses, based on that whole lot of evidence leads to theories. Theories drive further science by being continuously applied, tested and refined to produce more evidence that leads to new realms of discovery and strengthens the theory. Evidence and theory, in science, are inseparable. I am starting to get the feeling that Kevin Miller has a whole lot of problems with the connections within science. First he couldn't see a connection between empiricism and rationalism, and now he fails at the connection between evidence and theory. In other words, he throws up his hands and calls us a yoghurt-pudding-and-butter driven society, rather than a milk-driven society, not seeing the connection between all these products.

ID seems to be an attempt to call science back to a more
empirical approach--at least according to the rhetoric I've heard from
ID advocates. (I can't tell you how many times I've heard them say,
"Follow the evidence wherever it leads.") So I'm prone to wonder if
all the fireworks over ID are really just the most recent
manifestation of an age-old scientific debate that's been cloaked in
all sorts of modern religious and political agendas. It's just the
latest swing of the rationalist/empiricist pendulum. At least that's
one way of trying to conceptualize it. I could be way off."

Yes, he is way off. ID is the very opposite of calling science back to a more empirical approach, it basically says 'throw empiricism overboard!', but he's probably correct that it's a rhetoric he's heard from ID advocates. They tend to repeat things over and over again in the hopes that either people will buy it or that it becomes true. The evidence leads away, far away, from ID. It has been shown over and over again that ID is actually not leading us back to empiricism and it's claims have been debunked (and not by the proponents of it, because they seem to not be doing research to begin with). Again, saying that ID leads to a more empirical approach is simply wrong, or even a deliberate lie.

It's been a long day.

I picture a drowsy, tired Kevin Miller at his keyboard, trying to make sense of the world after working for a couple of days straight (the best state of mind to be in for IDealistic brainwash). Somehow he thinks that a rational and an empirical approach necessarily exclude each other.

Curious, when you consider that in fact, rationality applied to empiricism is how science actually works.

I'd forgive him, I'm tired, too sometimes. But unless he was drugged up, tired and drowsy throughout writing Expelled, he must already have consented to this nonsense while being aware of his senses.

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