[Taxacom] The everpresent evolution-creation debate--again...

J. Kirk Fitzhugh kfitzhug at nhm.org
Mon Sep 10 17:10:16 CDT 2007


In some respects, the issue depends on how one 
demarcates science from non-science, and to what 
one is directing their concerns.  ID and 
creationist advocates proclaim they are engaging 
in a legitimate scientific endeavor.  They 
espouse testing, inference to the best 
explanation, etc.  So, they are very successful 
at selling the impression that what they do is 
scientific.  One could reasonably argue that 
ID/creationist theories are immune to testing 
(contra Dembski, 2001: 
Behe, 2001: 697, Biology & Philosophy 16, or 
Ross's 2007 Creation as Science), but too often 
the mechanics of testing are improperly 
characterized by evolutionary biologists and 
ID-iots alike.  We need only look at the fallacy 
that shared similarities or partitioned data sets 
can test cladograms.  We consider the production 
of thousands of hypotheses, à la cladograms, in 
several minutes by a computer to fall within the 
realm of science, yet almost never have I seen 
cladograms put to the test in terms of seeking 
deductive consequences.  Alternatively, there are 
biblical hypotheses that are immanently testable, 
e.g., age of the universe/Earth, the Noahcian flood, etc.

Segregating books will likely not correct the 
general failure of our education system to teach 
the basics of how and why science is performed, 
much less convince the lay person that what 
people like Dembski, Meyer, and Behe have to say 
does not have the air of science.  What one 
regards as 'scientific' is contingent on one's 
notion of what it means to do science.

I have no problems with ID books being shelved in 
the science section.  It makes it easier to tell 
others where to look for books exemplifying the 
improper application of basic scientific 
principles for the ever-increasing acquisition of causal understanding.


At 01:20 PM 9/10/2007, you wrote:
>The graduate students at my institution have created an online petition
>to reclassify non-science books from science categories in bookstores
>and libraries. To quote from the first paragraph of their petition:
>"As scientists, we feel strongly that categorizing Intelligent Design
>(“ID”) as science is both inappropriate and misleading. Local bookstores
>and libraries unintentionally exacerbate this misleading categorization
>when they shelve ID books and legitimate science texts in the same
>section . Our goal is to convince the U.S. Library of Congress to
>re-classify ID books into sections other than the science section."

J. Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
Curator of Polychaetes
Invertebrate Zoology Section
Research & Collections Branch
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007

Phone:   213-763-3233
FAX:       213-746-2999
e-mail:   kfitzhug at nhm.org

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