“Intelligent” Design, my ass.
Murtaugh dissects the guardian article that I wrote about below. The funny thing, though, is that if you read his and my article you would hardly be able to tell we were talking about the same thing. It’s true, Charles, that many of the things they mention aren’t new. My impression was that the current creationist push and the stem cell debates are what sparked the current article, and the first couple items, about AIDS and global warming and such, were simply a review of where these old issues currently stand. Come on, we can’t expect a bunch of journalists to get it right about scientific issues, can we? It’s like expecting scientific verisimilitude from a TV show. The media is looking for a story, so they pick the two most opposite sides of any issue and exaggerate them into a grand debate. They don’t have any time for the subtle points or poring over data because they assume, probably rightly, that 90% of their audience doesn’t either. That said, anytime anyone writes a decent article showing how silly the ID people are, I am going to link to it, and I think everyone should do the same.
Not because we’re fighting a hard fought battle; In truth, I think the amount of people who want to believe in creation is probably going to remain constant or decline with the decline of religion, but simply because even though religiosity is declining, so is scientific literacy. I think creation vs. evolution is a debate that is finished. However, there are other debates that we shouldn’t be having, and wouldn’t if people understood a little basic science. In response to this, the thing we, need to do is keep the right information and informed opinion somewhere the public will be exposed to it. “We” being all science people with any sort of a voice. Religious belief levels rise and fall( before Murtaugh takes me to task for no data – this is anecdotal), but the fraction of science a layperson knows versus the amount any scientist knows is rapidly decreasing(also anecdotal, but I wouldn’t expect any argument here). This is not just because of the pace of science, either. The average person doesn’t know any more about important, relevant scientific ideas than the average person in the 1960s, even though so many new and important ideas have come out since then. Many non-scientist people I know have levels of understanding that stop right around the germ theory of disease. This is a problem. To help address this, I take time to explain things that people who are steeped in the scientific tradition already take for granted, like the explanation about the role of science and concept of falsifiability which can be found in many of my articles.
So Murtaugh is right to criticize the Guardian’s article, and he’s oh so right to point out that the left has and will continue to do far more harm to the advance of science than the right, but I can’t make a statement like that without emphasizing that going too far to either side is the real problem, rather than anything intrinsic about liberalism or conservatism.