I.D. vs. Evolution Rhetoric Continues Unabated

first_imgThe surge in articles and editorials about intelligent design vs. evolution, prompted by President Bush’s remarks (08/13/2005) often seems to track the political philosophy of the person or group: Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal – but not always.  Recent salvos:Irish Scream:  Bill O’Reilly had Dr. Richard Sternberg on his O’Reilly Factor show on Fox News Aug. 24 (see Washington Post background story and Discovery Institute fact sheet).  O’Reilly was clearly animated over the “brutal” tactics of the “fascist” anticreationists as Sternberg described how he was treated at the Smithsonian for allowing an I.D. paper to be published.  With incredulity expressed in two-hand gestures, O’Reilly asked “Why?” they were doing this to him.Concerned Women for Human Events:  The debate over ID was discussed both by Concerned Women for America and Human Events, which reprinted David Limbaugh’s essay (see below).Larry King Jive:  Larry King moderated a heated discussion between pro-ID panelists John MacArthur, Jay Richards and Senator Sam Brownback, and anti-ID panelists Barbara Forrest, Depak Chopra and Senator Christopher Shays.  Larry King’s opening questions seemed off point.  The first thing out of his mouth was asking MacArthur if he believed the earth was only 5000 years old, and then asking Forrest if we came from monkeys, why there are still monkeys.  Both respondents seemed to wonder what those questions had to do with the item under discussion.  The anti-ID side seemed the most intent on making their case that ID isn’t science, while MacArthur wondered why evolutionists seem to be in such a panic over the obvious evidence for design.  Jay Richards stuck to his guns that the Discovery Institute does not advocate mandating ID, despite Forrest’s persistent attempts to prove that ID people are religiously motivated.  Chopra, who accepts ID as a source of consciousness, was more vicious against MacArthur than the evolutionists.  Senator Brownback calmly asked that the nation engage in a vigorous discussion over evolution, bringing the best arguments together.  Let’s identify facts that are facts and theories that are theories, he repeated.Frist in Line:  Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn), though recently breaking ranks with the President over stem cell research, announced his agreement with Bush over intelligent design in an AP story (see MSNBC News).  Frist has an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.  He said that exposing children to both views “doesn’t force any particular theory on anyone.  I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future.”  The article mentions a voice from the other political persuasion: Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean called President Bush “anti-science” over his remarks.OhIDo:  Governor Bob Taft of Ohio, a Republican, threw his hat into the ID ring, according to the Chillicothe Gazette.  He’s not sure what intelligent design means, but at least feels students ought to be able to hear criticisms of Darwinian evolution.  The “teach the controversy” approach will provide the best compromise, he feels, between opponents who have differing ideas of how evolution should be taught.Dykstra’s Law:  David Limbaugh answered the critics who called him an idiot for this editorial, proving that everyone is someone else’s weirdo.Hidden Motives:  Why did Science reproduce the following quote without comment?  Utah state senator D. Chris Buttars, in a USA Today editorial August 9, said, “The trouble with the ‘missing link’ is that it is still missing! … The theory of evolution … has more holes in it than a crocheted bathtub.”Who Speaks for Space?  In an ostensibly nonpartisan editorial on Space.Com, SETI Institute Director of Education and Public Outreach Edna DeVore spoke out against the President’s remarks.  Though written as the statement of a scientific rather than political organization, and quoting the positions of scientific societies, DeVore nonetheless employed arguments common to liberals: “Teaching creationism is in violation of the separation of church and state, and has been ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court in several cases.”  DeVore mentions in passing that Bush’s remarks have generated about 120 reactions per day in print since he spoke in favor of intelligent design August 2.Name-Calling:  William Safire in the New York Times looked at the scorn heaped on “creationism” in a brief and simplistic history of anti-evolutionism, and quoted several vehement anti-ID polemics, mostly liberal but with one conservative joining the scorn fest.  Noting the new attack word “neo-creo” invented by anticreationist Philip Kitcher to counter the “marketing genius” of the label “intelligent design,” Safire left his own views unclear.  He gave the last word with a Nobel laureate at Brown University, Leon Cooper: “If we could all lighten up a bit perhaps, we could have some fun in the classroom discussing the evidence and the proposed explanations — just as we do at scientific conferences.”Getting Warmer:  The New York Times printed two more articles on the intelligent design controversy Sunday and Monday.  Though the articles still lean heavily against I.D., the Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman gave them credit for making progress on toning down their bias.  He thinks the articles have gone from 90% negative to about 60%.Separate, but Equal?  Lee Harris at Tech Central Station wrote a long essay that basically takes a “non-overlapping magisteria” position, hoping peace will be attainable if Christians throw creationism overboard and stick with theology, and science leaves them alone with their beliefs.  He calls Darwinism part of the “normal science” consensus of our day.Censorship:  The conservative internet news source World Net Daily has published an issue of its Whistleblower Magazine devoted to the issue, entitled, “Censoring God: Why is the science establishment so threatened by the intelligent design movement?The pro-I.D. Discovery Institute, on its Evolution News blog, keeps harping on reporters to get the definition of I.D. right.  I.D. is not about supernatural design, but about intelligent design.  The I.D. movement remains agnostic about the designer.  Slowly, some reporters are getting their wording right, but many, like the New York Times, keep defining I.D. in sentences like, “[intelligent design claims that] some organisms are too complex to be explained by evolution alone, pointing to the possibility of supernatural influences.”  The wording should be, according to a Discovery Institute statement, “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”The wording may seem subtle but is significant.  Anti-ID reporters are determined to portray intelligent design as inherently religious, so they employ the word supernatural to make their point: “See?” they gloat, hammerlocking their straw man;  “This can’t be science, because it’s about the supernatural!”  But if the reference is to intelligent causes, those are already employed in scientific explanations in many fields.  Science can investigate whether the cause was planned or unplanned without making any statements about who the Planner was or what the motive for the design was: this is done all the time in archaeology and criminology, for instance – even in SETI itself, which makes DeVore’s position all the more ironic.  Caught in a logical trap, all she can do is fall back on arguments from authority and bandwagon.    It’s good that evolution and intelligent design are getting debated in public more and more these days, but not all comments are well reasoned or informed.  Some writers who think with their gall bladders instead of their cerebra are saying the most bile things.  Investigating I.D. with uninformed prejudice, they ask, “what’s that awful smell?”, unaware it is their own breath blowing back in their face.  Their acerbic remarks may some day come back to sting them when the Darwin idol, like that of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, falls and is dragged around the scientific square by cheering, liberated minds.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Another Evolutionary Statistic Is Wrong

first_imgMarine invertebrate diversity has not increased dramatically over time, contrary to conventional wisdom.  That’s the conclusion of a team of 35 researchers who spent a decade analyzing seashell fossils from around the world.    Science Daily reported the story July 7.  A week later, on July 14, Science Daily reported a follow-up story, entitled, “Disproving Conventional Wisdom On Diversity Of Marine Fossils And Extinction Rates.”  The later article featured John Alroy (UC Santa Barbara), the principal author of the paper published in Science.1  “There’s been 36 years of people arguing about this,” he said.  “And I feel we finally resolved this debate, which is certainly one of the most high profile debates in the study of diversity of the fossil record.”  95% of the fossil record consists of marine invertebrates (see ICR claim).  The abstract says,It has previously been thought that there was a steep Cretaceous and Cenozoic radiation of marine invertebrates.  This pattern can be replicated with a new data set of fossil occurrences representing 3.5 million specimens, but only when older analytical protocols are used.  Moreover, analyses that employ sampling standardization and more robust counting methods show a modest rise in diversity with no clear trend after the mid-Cretaceous.  Globally, locally, and at both high and low latitudes, diversity was less than twice as high in the Neogene as in the mid-Paleozoic.  The ratio of global to local richness has changed little, and a latitudinal diversity gradient was present in the early Paleozoic.The team painstakingly catalogued 248,816 fossils from around the world and found that things that paleontologists have been saying for 40 years may not be accurate.  Diversity reached saturation early after the Cambrian and Ordovician and remained flat, with minor excursions, over the remaining eras.    The new database suggests that there were only three, not five, mass extinctions.  The number of species recovered quickly, they said.  The sixth and last presumed extinction never happened, they claim, based on their results.    Another researcher explained the utility of the project.  She said, “If we know where we have been, we know something about where it will go.”1.  Alroy et al, “Phanerozoic Trends in the Global Diversity of Marine Invertebrates,” Science, 4 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5885, pp. 97-100, DOI: 10.1126/science.1156963.It’s good to know where you have been.  Where you have been, though, does not necessarily predict where you will go.  Do these researchers know the answer to such questions?    Statistics can be misleading.  Good for them that they went at it in much more detail than in previous studies.  They have falsified claims going back four decades.  That does not ipso facto “truthify” their own claims.  Because their work has an incestuous relationship with evolutionary geology and biology, any conclusions borne out have a statistically high likelihood of dementia.(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South African rhinos need technology to curb poaching

first_img30 September 2015We Are Protect is planning field testing of high-tech devices to stop rhino poaching in Africa.The British conservation group recently completed proof-of-concept trials in South Africa of high-tech devices such as spy cameras, heart rate monitors and GPS trackers on black rhinos. It is now aiming to move to field testing of its Real-time Anti Poaching Intelligence Devices (Rapid).There had been 1 617 positively identified poacher activities in the Kruger National Park so far this year, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. This implies that there are three incursions each day, anywhere along the thousand-kilometre long Kruger border.By 27 August, 749 rhinos had been killed by poachers across the entire country. Of these, 544 were poached in the Kruger. This is an increase over the 716 rhino killed by poachers countrywide by the end of August 2014. Of that number, 459 rhinos were poached in the Kruger.How Rapid worksThe Rapid unit is fitted inside the horn of a wild rhino. This operation is painless because rhino horn is made of keratin, just like human nails or hair. The data from the device are then relayed live to a control centre, which could be many miles away.If the animal’s heart rate suddenly becomes heightened or declines, it triggers immediate analysis of the in-horn camera footage while an armed anti-poaching team scrambles on a rapid response mission to intercept the poachers at the location provided.The original impetus for Rapid came from the inability of teams on the ground to detect poaching quickly and effectively enough to catch the poachers and prevent the horn from reaching the illegal markets. The reality is that the group aims to save the rhino, not just its horn.Jason Gilchrist, an ecologist, wrote that to achieve this goal, Rapid should operate as a deterrent, not just an arrest mechanism. “This has raised the question of whether Rapid-tagged rhinos should ‘advertise’ that they are carrying the device. But that could simply drive poachers to target untagged rhino.“So, in order to achieve the aim of the project, to render poaching a ‘pointless exercise’, we need all individual rhinos to be fitted with Rapid and tagged to indicate so. That sounds expensive and it is not clear who would foot the bill.”Watch the world of a rhino through his horn:The We Are Protect team is already looking beyond rhino, and aims to expand the use of Rapid to other endangered creatures under attack from poachers, including elephants and tigers.“We need to throw everything we have, from all angles, at wildlife crime,” said Gilchrist. “If we cannot save iconic species like rhinos, elephants, and tigers it does not bode well for the less celebrated animals out there that are also suffering.”South Africa’s fight against rhino poachingSpecies conservation, including the conservation of rhino, formed part of her department’s strategic intervention, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on 30 August. She was giving a progress update on the fight against rhino poaching. Her department is working in partnership with the Security Cluster departments, namely Defence and Military Veterans, Police and State Security, to put interventions in place to curb poaching of wildlife.“As I have constantly emphasized, were it not for the measures we have undertaken as part of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros the situation would be worse, given the escalation of poacher activity,” said Molewa.Their teams had made physical contact with heavily armed poachers 95 times so far this year, close to three times a week. “To illustrate the escalation of the threat, let me remind you that for the whole of 2014, there were 111 contacts with heavily armed poachers,” she said.“In response to this escalated threat, we have stepped up our efforts, which include traditional anti-poaching policing strategies. In this regard, the utilisation of K-9 units, night capability as well as air and land capability, is now bearing fruit.”At the core of this strategy, the minister added, was a wildlife sector transformation agenda to ensure provision of sustainable alternative livelihood strategies for South Africans, which would help to curb poaching. “This strategy seeks to promote inclusive economic opportunities, reflected by a sector which will be equitable and dictate fair processes and procedures in the distribution of natural resources and access to markets, and undertaking of projects that will assist to uplift the financial and economic status of our people,” she concluded.Watch the Security Cluster speak about their intervention programmes to stop rhino poaching:Meanwhile, Collet Ngobeni and Felicia Mogakane were in New York City on 27 September to accept the United Nations top environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth award, on behalf of their organisation, Black Mambas.Both women are two of the original members of the 24-strong group, South Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching team. Black Mambas was set up in 2013 to protect the private Balule wildlife reserve, a park that borders the Kruger, and its resident rhino.Over the past two years the team, which does not carry guns, has reduced snaring by 76% in the reserve, saving the lives of rhino and putting poachers out of action.UN Environment Programme deputy executive director Ibrahim Thiaw said the success of the Black Mambas in reducing poaching raised the question of how and where this programme could be replicated.Source: The Conversation and South Africa.info reporterlast_img read more