The Academic Freedom Petition

When I was studying biology in secondary school, I used to enjoy the extra elements my teacher brought into the classroom far more than anything in the textbook. None of it ever came up in an exam, but I wasn’t in it just to pass the Leaving Cert; I just wanted to know as much as I could about biology. Unfortunately, not even my very dedicated teacher had time to get into the scientific debates going on at the time, for several reason. The most obvious is that those debates require a level of education far higher than what any secondary school student will have, but there’s also the issue of those exams I mentioned – like it or not, he had to cover a certain amount of material in a limited amount of time.

I bring this up because of the latest move by Creationists (under the guise of Intelligent Design proponents, of course) to get their psuedoscience into American classrooms. Meet the Academic Freedom Petition. What is it? ‘Teach the Controversy’, basically, but dressed up in the garb of ‘freedom’ and (surprise, surprise) further from religious funamentalism than any previous push to get ID into schools. From the website:

Across America, the freedom of scientists, teachers, and students to question Darwin is coming under increasing attack by self-appointed defenders of the theory of evolution who are waging a malicious campaign to demonize and blacklist anyone who disagrees with them.

This seems pretty innocent at first glance – after all, everyone should have the right to question whatever they like. Of course, it’s not that simple, and I’ll explain why.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is very obviously a Creationist initiative. The Petition website contains links to IntelligentDesign.org (which itself seems to be a product of the Centre for Science and Culture, the science branch of the infamous Discovery Institute) and, of all things, the Expelled website. If you think advocating Stein’s ‘documentary’ should be enough to destroy any credibility this movement may have had, you’d be wrong. The people behind this latest ploy do have a point, but (as always) they’re twisting it out of shape to further their own agenda.

It is true that most high school teachers either can’t or won’t discuss Creationism in their classroom, for a variety of reasons. As Airtightnoodle has pointed out, the laws preventing Creationism from being taught are something of a double-edged sword, in that they also prevent teachers from refuting it. Even where this isn’t explicit school policy, a teacher can put his or her job in danger by discussing what everyone knows is a religious topic. In high school, Creationism is a no-go area. I wish this wasn’t the case, if only to silence claims that biology teachers are incapable of replying to Creationist myths (again, Airtightnoodle goes a long towards debunking that one, but at the moment those are the rules that teachers must play by.

The Petition goes further than that, however, by implying that everyone involved in education or science is being prevented from questioning evolution. This goes hand-in-hand with the implication that the arguments presented in the likes of Expelled are actually valid and worthy of being taught to students. This is obviously not the case (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever heard Stein trying to talk about science), and the Petition falls apart when you realise that they’re backing the same refuted arguments that ‘evolutionists’ have been fielding for decades.

If there actually was significant scientific debate over the validity of evolutionary theory, and if Creationists actually did have something meaningful to say on the subject, then I might be more sympathetic to projects like this. As it stands, ‘academic freedom’ is a dressed up phrase for ‘psuedoscience, delivered to students by teachers’. Letting biology teachers point out imaginary weaknesses in evolution would be like letting history teachers point out weaknesses in the idea that the Holocaust was a real event, or that the moon landings were genuine. Rather than strengthening academic freedom, it would make a farce of academic integrity, at a stroke lowering the standards for what should and should not be allowed into a classroom dramatically. Creationism is laughed out of third-level institutes because it’s wrong, and it’s banned from high schools because it’s blatantly religious.

It’s also interesting that evolution is the only theory being targeted here – if this is a genuine push for better education, why does it only focus on what has historically been the whipping boy of the Creationist movement?

As always, the Discovery Institute and its ilk are attempting to smuggle their myths in through the back door. Having utterly failed to make any headway in the scientific community (this is what they mean when they whine about being ‘censored’ or unfairly ignored), they’re bypassing the whole bothersome process and going straight for legislation – again. Which leads to the disturbing question of how many times they have to throw their crap at the wall before some of it sticks.

20 Responses to The Academic Freedom Petition

  1. Ty Harris says:

    Thanks for the link to Academic Freedom Petition. I went there and signed it. ( Although somehow I suspect that that wasn’t the purpose of your post.) We must always consider unintended consequences eh? Good luck in your quest to keep alternative viewpoints and dangerous ideas out of the reach of fragile young minds. You wouldnt be the first to try.

    Personally, I think that as we learn more about biology AS information, the less plausible the absence of design becomes. The fallout from the ENCODE project ( that pretty much determined that “junk DNA ” wasn’t junk after all ) has opened up layers of comlexity that boggle the imagination and basically thrown evolutionary biology back to square one. Everything is back on the table.

    Neo-Darwinism has always been a somewhat suspect branch of science anyways- long on assertions and short on explanations- and the viscious dogmatic repression meted out by it’s arch-advocates upon rival schools of thought probably says more about darwinism than it does about design.

    With the advent of the internet, and the freeflow of ideas around the world now it’s becoming harder and harder for an elite few to arbite intellectual dogma. I can understand why you would be frustrated. You’r fighting a losing battle my freind.

    But in the end, as biology becomes more and more quantified in terms of complex specified information, and we become more aware of exactly what we are dealing with here, we should also be able to EVENTUALLY either duplicate and precisely specify the path that self assembly + RM+NS takes to go from a pile of rocks to the human brain OR reach a point where we can rule un-guided assembly out definitively as an option in a finite universe on a pure probabalistic basis. All roads lead to the truth in the end.

    Maybe astronomy will have a lot to say on this as well. Interfereometry and spectrographic analysis of extra-solar planetary gases should tell us someday whether life goes forward as a natural process on a billion other worlds in a universe with hundreds of billions of galaxies… or not.

    In the meantime though, you cant even tell me why an information storage and processing device like DNA would create itself BEFORE RM+NS, much less state the specific path that RM+NS used to write the code it stores in that device.

    So please- before you get so gung-ho and sure of yourself- remember that you have a LOT of unanswered fundamental questions to deal with before you can claim even a complete theory or explaination for life. You arent there yet. Maybe someday you will be, but right now, youve’ no right to intellectual and academic hegemony. Design is actually more probable than purely naturalistic explanations for life, and based on darwinism’s lack of specicifity and answers to a lot of fundamental questions , there is really no call to be shutting down other possibilities.

    Be open to other possibilities. The important thing in the search for truth is a willingness to see what you see, not what you want to see. Dogma has no place in science. Einstein was willing to throw theories that he had worked on for years in the garbage in an instant when he became convinced that they were wrong in the face of evidence. There was no emotional investment- it was all about a search for truth with that guy. I wish biologists were more like physicists in that regard.

    ” Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the feild, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

    Words to live by…

  2. forknowledge says:

    But in the end, as biology becomes more and more quantified in terms of complex specified information, and we become more aware of exactly what we are dealing with here, we should also be able to EVENTUALLY either duplicate and precisely specify the path that self assembly + RM+NS takes to go from a pile of rocks to the human brain OR reach a point where we can rule un-guided assembly out definitively as an option in a finite universe on a pure probabalistic basis. All roads lead to the truth in the end.

    …pile of rocks?

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from, but it’s mostly wrong. ‘Junk’ DNA exists; the fact that some of what was previously thought to be useless has a function does not mean that all or even most of the human genome does.

    ‘Neo-Darwinism’ (evolutionary theory; let’s use the most commonly accepted scientific terms, okay?) has not been ‘suspect’ for a long time. It remains the best explanation for the diversity of life that science has yet offered us, despite what shady Creationist websites would have you believe.

    The ‘create itself before RM+NS’ myth is one that I haven’t seen in quite a while (most Creationists don’t know enough about science to use it coherently) – if I remember correctly, it’s been debunked in several different ways.

    When Creationism (ID, Creation science, whatever you want to call it) drags itself out of the realm of psuedoscience and stops building its case on conspiracy theories and urban myths, it might get some credibility. That hasn’t happened yet, and they’ve been trying for decades.

  3. Ty Harris says:

    The “create itself before RM+NS myth”? Well did the creation of the information storage device precede the information stored on it or not? Yes or no. If so, where did it come from, and why should it construct itself? For what purpose? Has such a thing ever been duplicated or observed in nature independent of design? Where is the evidence? Did RM+NS create things before the code that allows it to function even existed or had a place to be stored? Of course it didnt. So I guess it’s not a myth is it? It’s an unexplained fact with multiple possible causes- including design.

    If RM+NS didnt create the information storage device and didnt write the code that operates those processes, then where in the hell did it come from? The flying spaghetti monster? Your theory is no better than design at all. Both are best guesses, both are inferred, and design is a LOT more probable. Talk about psuedoscience! You’ve got no idea whatsoever how life got started, yet you insist that design must be dismissed as a likely cause out of hand! It’s preposterous! It’s pompous intellectual disonesty.

    And if you want to talk about choosing terms carefully, you should not be confusing creationism and ID- which I am sure you do intentionally. ID simply looks objectively for signs of design in biological complexity and in the information that creates it. It’s valid science and a very reasonable possibility to be explored. ID does not neccesarily attempt to attribute religious charachteristics to the designer- whereas cretionism is more properly associated with faith and the bible. You are just setting up silly strawmen so you can easily knock them down by conflating two terms you KNOW have different meanings- a cheap trick of debaters who argue from a weak factual position. You seem like a fairly intelligent person, so please dont resort to such tactics. They are far, far beneath reasonable discussion.

  4. Sirius says:

    forknowledge is unaware that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not the same thing. Big surprise. He excells at willful ignorance.

    –Sirius Knott

  5. forknowledge says:

    forknowledge is unaware that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not the same thing. Big surprise. He excells at willful ignorance.

    Intelligent Design is Creationism with the religion (somewhat) extracted; its proponents overlap to a large degree, its arguments are a subset of Young Earth Creationism’s, and its reasons for being kept out of high schools are identical: its religious nature and its lack of scientific foundation.

    I’m aware that attempts have been made to distance ID from its more stupid cousin (‘straight’ Creationism, or whatever you want to call it), but ID is still very much a watered-down form of Creationism.

    Ty Harris:

    Jesus, calm down. What is it with you people and flying off the handle? As I’ve already said, ID is another form of Creationism. The ID movement is very much religious in nature (just look at the kind of people who created it in the first place) – all of this ‘we’re not saying anything about the Designer’ BS is a cheap trick, and one that has not gotten them any leeway in the education system. I find it very difficult to believe that you don’t realise this.

    I’ll look into the RM+NS thing if you’d like (well, for my own interest as well) – it’s been a while since I read anything about it it.

  6. penguinfactory says:

    “Personally, I think that as we learn more about biology AS information”

    What exactly do you mean by this?

    “The fallout from the ENCODE project ( that pretty much determined that “junk DNA ” wasn’t junk after all ) has opened up layers of comlexity that boggle the imagination and basically thrown evolutionary biology back to square one”

    Can you show me a real biologist- any biologist at all- who actually believes that new discoveries about junk DNA have had this big an impact on evolution? Maybe there’s a reason why the only people saying these things are creationists.

    “Everything is back on the table.”

    Lamarckian evolution is good to go, then?

    “Neo-Darwinism has always been a somewhat suspect branch of science anyways”

    That was a good one.

    “Neo-Darwinism” (a phrase that the vast majority of scientists would see as close to meaningless) is not suspect. It was, once, but it passed the process of critical evaluation that all scientific theories must undergo, and has never been close to being disproven since.

    “But in the end, as biology becomes more and more quantified in terms of complex specified information…… “(amended for length)

    I did some searching on this complex specified information stuff that’s apparently becoming all the rage in biology. Strangely, the only places it’s mentioned in reference to biology are a) creationist websites or b) rebuttals to creationist websites.

    If biology were actually becoming quantified in terms of it, you’d expect it to get at least a positive mention among, you know, scientists. Real ones. In light of this, I think your comment should actually read “as biology as we (creationists and ID proponents) interpet it becomes more and more quanitifed in terms of speficied complexity”.

    After that you essentially say that you want to see abiogenisis duplicated in a lab.

    I’m assuming you also demand that astro-physicists create a planet for us before you’ll take anything they say seriously. There’s a reason we have to rely on fossils and DNA evidence to study these things.

    Now about this RM+NS stuff. You want to know why DNA would create itself (actually that’s not a good way of putting it but let’s let that slide for now) before random mutations and natural selection. Asking why DNA would exist before these processes is like asking why water would exist before rain.

    You seem to have a bit of confusion here over what it is that scientists actually believe about abiogenisis (which is the territory we’re now in- not evolution). Mutations occur within DNA, so DNA obviously didn’t come about through mutations, any more than a book is written using spelling mistakes. Natural selection is a process that effects organisms, so obviously it has little to do with the formation of DNA. Processes SIMILAR to natural selection may have been at work when DNA came about, but not natural selection as we know it.

    Like I said, this is abiogenisis. No one knows (yet) how DNA and the first life form arose, and anyone claiming to is being dishonest.

  7. forknowledge says:

    Hang on, Ty…when you said ‘RM+NS’ did you mean ‘Random Mutation + Natural Selection’? Because I thought you were talking about one of Behe’s ‘chemical pathway’ arguments.

  8. James says:

    A question for materialists. I mean if ID is true, if basic life was designed – wouldn’t you want to know that?

  9. Thanks for giving me “props”! 🙂

  10. Ty Harris says:

    Just because you keep saying that ID is the same thing as creationism over and over again doesnt make it so. If I say that 2+2=5 repeatedly it doesnt change the fact that it isnt. Ive explained the difference, and you just dont like to deal with facts that are inconvenient apparently. So stick your fingers in your ears and say “LALALALALA I cant hear you” if you want to.

    There’s a big difference. ID looks at facts, and an a lot of the arguments being made by Dembski are probablistic in nature, and Behe is making direct observations of real biological processes and structures and is demanding some specific answers about how RM+NS could have created devices that require 50 different components to poof themselves into existence simultaneously for the thing to even function and be “selected”. Is mathematics scientific enough for you? Probablility? Direct Observation? Science and skepticism make good partners, and the fact that a couple of guys are pointing out some pretty big problems with darwinism should be applauded.

    Dembski especially has made some compelling, specific, mathematical statements about how we recognize design in any asseblage of information- and that’s all we really are in a physical sense- INFORMATION. It’s the information coded in the genetic program that translates into every single physical structure and process that make us what we are . Information- no different than the data and operating system that run your PC underlies all of it. Really, he’s just quantifying common sense. If you are walking through the desert and encounter the space shuttle, the encyclopedia britannica, or a disc containing the windows source code, the default assumption is that they didnt get there by self assembly or unguided processes. (If you were to propose that they DID, then the burden of proof would be on you to specify how ). And it’s a very fair metaphore as the complexity of these examples is FAR surpassed by the genome and it’s information.

    Yes I meant Random Mutation plus Natural Selection.

    Regarding the atrophysicists having to create a planet for their theories to be anything but guesses- I would say that they DO have to actually observe it happening for their theories to be proven- and they do make those observations don’t they?- They look out into the universe and see it happening out there over and over and over again. They have- in a sense- “duplicated” ( or at least demonstrated ) THEIR claimed naturalistic process. But darwinists have not done so, which is why I dont put it in the same leauge yet with gravity and thermodynamics. It IS a lot of assumtion, conjecture, and inferrence. We have but a data set of one. We know of only one place in the universe where life exists, we have no actual idea how it started, nor do we know how it specifically got from that unknown beginning to what we see in front of us now.

    Also, astrophysisists were able to actually make predictive models based on known and observable forces like gravity to specify exactly how the accretion disk became a planet. Darwinists have not done this either. We’ve barely even begun to decode and understand what all of the information on the genome does- we havent even specified the end RESULT of the claimed naturalistic process, never mind specified the totally theoretical pathways that life took to get from the first cell to human complexity.

    Regarding abiogenesis- thank you penguinfactory for admitting that nobody knows how it happened. I agree. But your vauge claim that it was some unknown process “similiar” to selection is laughable. Is that all youve got? What makes your unspecified, unobserved, and unduplicated “process” any better than God, the tooth fairy, or the flying spaghetti monster?

    If you have no idea how life started, and no specifically defined pathway that it supposedly took to arrive where we are at today, then youve got a naturalistic theory that is – at present- half-baked. At best. How do you know that life – the original self-replicating information processor- the first life- wasnt designed, and that the process of RM+NS that was coded on that processor wasnt a designed process? I mean, the self-assembled information processor itself alone is quite a stretch in a finite universe, but to have code then write itself on it that processor to kick off the RM+NS process? Sorry, but it’s not plausible.

    If you have no idea how it all got started, then this whole thing could have been a designed process planned in advance, correct?

    To get back to your astrophysicis analogy- planetary accretion was proven by direct observation. So why shouldnt an unguided naturalistic theory of life be proven or disproven in the same way? If all it takes is the right ingredients for life and enough geologic time, then the universe should be utterly TEEMING with life. If you want my opinion, astronomy is going to settle this once and for all someday. Either by spectrograhic analysis of extra solar atmospheres or by direct observation if we can ever get up a big enough intererometric array.

    The silence that SETI is hearing out there is deafening, but I’m totally open to the possibilities that we may or may not observe out there as pertains to life- I’m excited really. I just wish that darwinist true-believers would also be more open to possibilities and admit that they are only guessing and inferring too. They also need to specify an exact pathway that life supposedly took to arrive where we are independent of design, before demanding that we accept their theories as unquestionable fact and relegating alternate theories as mere religious nonsense.

    Abiogenesis is a required part of that naturalistic theory. How is it that we are supposed to just ignore that 800 pound gorrilla sitting on the living room couch? Jedi mind tricks and saying ” it was just some unspecified force that created the information processor and wrote the original code for mutation and selection” arent going to cut it with me. What force? How?

    I’m not claiming that Behe and Dembski are definitively right, but they ARE making very reasonable inferences and making specific, valid arguments to back up those inferences. Dembski’s attempts to quantify and specify the means by which we can detect design in information are very smart and very reasonable. The NSA codebreakers do this kind of stuff every day, and it’s only natural to apply probability to the CSI that underpins biology. I am amazed that more people arent looking into it.

    For what it’s worth guys, I’m not part of the ‘stupid cousin’ bunch you referred to. The big bang really happened,and the earth is 4.5 billion years old. I acknowledge nested taxonmic heirarchies and common descent. I just see a good argument that the overall process of life itself here on earth was probably designed. Both dembski’s CSI /probability arguments AND Behe’s irreducible complexity arguments make sense to me. I’m not arguing anything from a biblical standpoint. There are also metaphysical implications of a godless universe that I DO have a problem with, but I won’t confuse faith with science. They are two sperate things, and that’s why- as I keep trying to tell you- ID and creationism are NOT the same thing!

    Anyways, thanks for listening to, and humoring a clearly-deranged intellectual heretic such as myself.

  11. Ty Harris says:

    penguin factory- as per your request, here’s a link to an article backing up what I said about the ENCODE project and it’s devestating effect on current evolutionary biology theory. “Back to square one” wasnt MY assertion, but rather that of a lot of mainstream, unbiased scientists quoted in the article, including Francis Collins the actual director of the Human Genome Project. I am not familiar with some of the gentlemen who are quoted, but if they were associated in any big way with ID or creationism I would know about them probably. It’s a fairly objective article, and not really about ID. I think you might find it informative.

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2007/09/24/dna_unraveled/

    If you want to know more about Dembski and his theories on CSI pick up a copy of “The Design Inferrence”. The worst that could happen is that you might not agree with him, and if you read his stuff instead of just listening to people whose worldview is threatened by his ideas, you might find some of what he says to be meritorious:

    http://www.amazon.com/Design-Inference-Eliminating-Probabilities-Probability/dp/0521623871

    I’m going to get off the internet now and watch the Vice Presidential Debate. Have a good evening.

  12. penguinfactory says:

    I’m short on time, so I’m going to reply to just one point Harris raised

    “Regarding abiogenesis- thank you penguinfactory for admitting that nobody knows how it happened. I agree. But your vauge claim that it was some unknown process “similiar” to selection is laughable. Is that all youve got?

    Firstly, I didn’t “admit” anything. The fact that scientists can’t yet explain how life arose from non-life isn’t some sort of shameful secret that I’m reluctantly owning up to- any biologist worth their salt will tell you the exact same thing.

    “Is that all youve got?”

    Well, no. Hypotheses for how the first (very, very) primitive genetic code/cell came about are quite detailed (although still far from being proven ). You can find them yourself if you do a little reading on the subject.

    ” What makes your unspecified, unobserved, and unduplicated “process” any better than God, the tooth fairy, or the flying spaghetti monster?””

    Because the processes I’m talking about are based on the interaction of proven, extant forces and materials. I don’t have to invoke an entirely unproveable supernatural agent at any stage of the explanation.

  13. forknowledge says:

    Ty Harris:

    Your comment is up now. Sorry about the delay, I had to approve it because of the links.

  14. forknowledge says:

    Ty Harris:

    I’ve read the article you linked to, and there was nothing in it that I didn’t know already. Several years ago there was a slew of new discoveries made (some of which fall under the heading ‘epigenetics’) that initially made geneticists believe that they could be completely wrong about most of what they think they know. I was at a public genetics symposium a few weeks ago (at the request of a friend of mine, who’s a fourth-year genetics student) where Steve Jones touched on this subject and basically said that the situation isn’t quite as earth-shattering as they first thought. Certainly the landscape of genetics research is going to change, but he didn’t seem to think that it was time to rewrite the textbooks just yet.

    Fascinating stuff, but I don’t see how this threatens evolution.

    ADDITION: I should also mention that Jones was giving a talk on human evolution and where it’s likely to go in the future. His conclusion on these new discoveries is that they probably won’t have a drastic effect on long-term evolution.

  15. To everyone on here:

    Arguing about whether ID exists or doesn’t is useless. Both theories have holes in them, respectively, however I do side with Ben Stein and have signed the petition mostly because it IS a matter of personal freedom. Science changes every year, hell, every month, week, day, and hour, and the possibility of ID should at least be considered. Do I think that both theories are 100%? No, but liberal teachers and acedemic establishments don’t want to hear any scientific theories other than their own. It’s the same with man made global warming. Just because Al Gore has some charts and graphs and tells us we’re all going to do in ten years doesn’t make it so. In fact, their are scientists who have a LOT of information disproving global warming. Check out Unstoppable Global Warming by S. Fred Singer (you can find it in your local library) and check it out. It gives a lot of information that says that global warming is a matter of earth cycles and is a very well written book.
    I think the problem here is that too often science is politicized. All the move Expelled does is to show that side and to state that everybody should have a fair chance at presenting their theories and should be given a chance to prove/disprove those and other theories.

  16. Rox says:

    Creationism doesn’t have a place in the classroom because it goes into the realm of religious beliefs.
    All who dispute Darwin’s theory do so because they see it as a threat to their religious beliefs. Where the confusion lies is in the fact that they believe Darwinism is a hypothesis, which itslef needs to be proven. With all the evidence, Darwinism is a fact.
    If you don’t want your kids to learn about Science, then register them in a religious school, because religion does not belong in a public school.

  17. BG says:

    Rox (and nearly everyone else here, for that matter):

    You’re still not getting it. Whether ID is or is not Creationism, is or is not Religion or whether evolution theory or Darwinianism is or is not more or less valid than any other view is not the point. Whether either can be talked about openly WITHOUT FEAR of real reprisal in the United States of America, is the point.

    But you say ID isn’t correct, it’s flawed and therefore should have no place in any curriculum. You know, my biology textbook talked about spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation is not only flawed – it is completely false and yet, it was in the textbook and my professor talked for a quarter of a class on it alone. I thought that was ridiculous. In the same light, that same professor is not allowed, by the people who sign his paycheck, to talk about ID… at all. I think that is ridiculous too. Hmmmmm.

    The argument here is whether a dissenting nod away from Darwinian, evolutionary THEORY and toward Intelligent Design THEORY is allowable in academia and who gets to make those choices. TY, Foreknowledge , Penguinfactory and Airtightnoodle have ALL fallen victim to the establishment’s propaganda… which is unfortunate because they all have some more or less compelling points.

    You see, they are all arguing either for or against one or the other view and THAT’S AWESOME! The thing is that the petition they refer to so briefly in the beginning, before they got all sciency and emotional about it, is proffered to promote EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING RIGHT NOW! Except it (the petition) is trying to get out the awareness that there are big people in academia and politics who say that this argument isn’t allowed in America. (HUH??? I thought we had the Revolutionary War to throw the thought police out of this land!) The petition says shame on them who say you can’t offer a differing view. It (the petition) says differing views are essential, good and necessary to a democratic and healthy United States of America.

    The problem of this particular question is that we have scientists (mostly Biologist types) trying to argue what is, at its core, a social issue. The scientists are not trained, prepared or built to do this. They have this inevitable propensity to degenerate away from the crux of the thing and segue into Bio-techno speak and wind up throwing points and counterpoints regarding the differing theories up against the wall trying desperately to get their own crap to stick harder than their “opponent’s”.

    Reality is that Biologists suck at this kind of argument and as you can see from this forum they are all quoting research and have completely abandoned the premise – The Petition and what it is about. And that’s why they (the establishment) have to get other people to do the arguing for them. Stein does a good job of highlighting who and what those groups are in his film. But these other groups aren’t really out for the science. They certainly are ill equipped to describe the science to the public because they realty don’t understand it – and really, they don’t want to. They are out for something different. They don’t care about the science in any way other than that its topic is positioned to help them further an agenda. So, to make it easy for you, the truth is that they are out for the opposite of what the Petition is for and they are using the scientists to get what they want.

    The Petition (as nearly all petitions are) is about Freedom. It’s not about one view or another being better or worse. Say what you will about who started circulating it and where their world view resides. Arguments about whether a petition’s backers’ posited views are right or wrong are just dust in the air. It is just normal and natural that those who feel they are being censured would cry foul first – sounds to me that that’s about how it works every time. Tell me I can’t speak and I will look around the room for support. If I get enough support I will turn back to you and tell you that yes, I can speak and you need to back the heck off with your dictatorial blustering. That’s what a petition essentially is but just on a bigger scale.

    Silencing thoughts, which is what is going on now in academia with regard to ID, is not about one view being better or worse, logical, or illogical, more valid or invalid than another. It is about something very, very different, not limited to but including all the ideologies that have made every totalitarian regime that has existed in the history of the world thrive.

    The petition says thought silencing is bad. That’s it. Those against it – are they saying that thought silencing is good? Are you? Is this still The United States of America or shall we start to call it something else. Maybe we can start shutting people up now that it is the 2000’s. Let’s take a vote. What do you say?

    Oh, wait… you aren’t allowed to speak because I don’t like the way you think. Nevermind. We’ll just do it MY way. I like that better… shut up.

    Do the research – ALL OF THE RESEARCH – from both world views and see who vets out in the end. Stop silencing people who disagree with you. It’s just stupid.

    PS: I signed the Petition. I am a scientist.

  18. BG says:

    Just in case anyone doesn’t know what the petition says:

    “We, the undersigned American citizens, urge the adoption of policies by our nation’s academic institutions to ensure teacher and student academic freedom to discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Teachers should be protected from being fired, harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for objectively presenting the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory. Students should be protected from being harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for expressing their views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory in an appropriate manner.”

  19. Tracy says:

    It doesn’t matter. If it is GOOD SCIENCE, it brings ALL perspectives to the table, whether mainstream or not…..and all evidences, whether challenging or supporting, are objectively applied and evalutated. I don’t care what perspective you have, you should agree with the above statement, if you want good science. To ban something based solely on its premise? Clearly not good science…again, regardless of perspective.

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