Week 4 – Jade Hanson

September 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Week 4 | 2 Comments

This week I examined the Center For the Renewal of Science & Culture article and the Labov and Pope piece, both of which discuss attempts at creating support for one side of the evolution vs intelligent design debate.

The Center for Renewal piece discusses how the Discovery Institute’s Center of the Renewal of Science and Culture aims to get rid of the scientific perspective in attempt to bring about a theistic understanding of nature. In short, this institute strives to replace the belief of science with the belief that God is the creator of all. This packet of information demonstrates the goals of the institute and lists the objectives for the group as well. Finally, it draws up a strategic plan on how to implement their belief system into society. Multiple routes to promote their beliefs will be used including broadcasting and political speeches.

However, this piece lacks evidence to convince people of their non-scientific materlialism beliefs. As we have discussed in class, this is often the case with supporters of intelligent design. The pieces lays out solid ground work for what they want, for example on hundred scientific article by their scientists within 5 years. The piece lacks sufficient explanations of how achieve the goals of the Institute however. Without a way of providing evidence to their supporters, the plan will fail and the “Wedge Theory” will go down as wishful thinking.

The second piece I examined was the Labov and Pope piece. This article discusses how the National Academy of Sciences has been working to implement a system that solves the evolution and creationism debate. The article takes a close look at the NAS’s publication, Science, Evolution, and Creationism. This book, which is shaped off of audience research, highlights the evidence and support for evolution and presents ways in which science teachers in support of evolution can sway others to see their side and prove intelligent design is invalid. The pamphlet defines science and it’s limitations and also explains why religion and other nonscientific ideas should be left out of the public school system. Overall, this piece defends why only scientific theories should be taught in schools.

The National Academy of Sciences utilized audience research to better understand the proper way to promote science only systems in schools. This is a tactic that could have been used by the Discovery Institute Center of Renewal of Science and Culture to better promote their ideas. Science, Evolution, and Creationism had a better chance at convincing audiences of NAS’s beliefs because it used well-supported evidence to support it’s beliefs unlike the Discovery Institute.

On the other hand, one thing that the Discovery Institute strived to do that would have helped NAS, had they attempted, was to try and utilize the media to get their message into the public realm. The real struggle with the debate between evolution and intelligent design is the support of the public. As proven in last week’s readings, it is not the scientists that need convincing that evolution is real, it’s the public. If NAS would have attempted to launch their piece into the public realm, the intelligent design vs evolution debate may have been greatly impacted.

Questions for discussion: Can an belief system, like that created by the Discovery Institute, ever succeed in the public realm if the tactic of getting the word out is well planned? Or will it never have any level of success due to the lack of evidentiary support?

Was NAS correct in naming a book Science, Evolution an Creationism? By doing so, I thought that upon seeing the title, the book would discuss all three topics equally which may draw readers in or turn them off to the book.

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AbbyLieberman_Week 4

September 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Week 4 | 1 Comment

In his presentation, “From Dayton to Dover: A History of the Evolution Teaching Legal Controversy in America”, historian and Professor, EJ Larson traces the historical account of the debate between evolution and creationism.  He goes through the chronological order of court cases in communities across the country and and discusses what he refers to as “the storm testing our tradition.”  In, “Understanding Our Audiences: The Design of Evolution of Science, Evolution, and Creationism,” Jay B. Labov and Barbara Kilne Pope report on the existence of National Academy of Sciences’ newest edition of “Science Evolution and Creationism.” The feature goes into the importance of understanding the the public’s beliefs on certain scientific issues as well as how they form those beliefs.  It proposes and talks about why this edition of “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” is a vehicle for teachers and organizations to use when explaining the debate between evolutionism and creationism. When looking at the the court cases and outlook of the evolution/ creationism battle that Larson delves into, in combination with the discussion of understanding audiences and providing a means to explain what is and is not science that  Labov and Pope discuss, it is clear that definitions of science have come a long way.  Furthermore, it is clear that they have come that long way due to the role that history and law have played in determining definitions of science.

In his lecture, Larson divides the history of the evolution and creationism debate into three successive parts.  The first, he says, is “removing evolution altogether.”  Larson explains that this first phase began with the 1925 Dayton, Tennessee case, when John Scopes, a biology teacher, was accused of violating Tennessee’s ban on teaching evolution. Key players in the case, William Jennings Bryan, and Clarence Darrow held world views that were at war and, ultimately, Scopes lost the case.  The reason? At the time, the “Supreme Court could not argue on 1st Amendment grounds,” explains Larson.  The second phase, he says, is “balancing evolution with some form of creation,” which came about as a result of religious organizations and individuals attempts to make creationism sound scientific. The appearance of “science proved religion,” he said, is what sparked the balance approach. The idea was spread though Henry Morris’ publication of Genesis Flood and the Institute for Creation Research. However, balance wasn’t enough for many creationists and, their anger spawned the emergence of the 3rd phase of debate: teaching evolution as just a theory. Larson discusses the outcry of proposals in states and local school districts to change policies regarding what evolution was and how it was taught schools.

Labov and Pope, like Larson, discuss what is and is not science and what has been concluded as a result of scientific history and progress.  They discuss an idea called “the wobbly public,” those who “are undecided about whether or not evolution, creationism, or some combination should be taught in public schools.” They talk about how this group must be targeted and with the right information.  Their book “was developed and organized by an expert committee of the NAS to help individuals better understand and thereby explain the principles of science in general, and evolution specifically, to other people with whom they interact” (24). By creating a publication from which teachers can gain correct knowledge and pass its on to others, Labov and Pope hope to reach that “wobbly public”.

However, the questions that came to me while watching and reading the two discussions of the debate is, how do you decide who to trust? Can we trust the decisions made throughout history when making our own ? What if we do not agree on what happened and the decisions made in past cases in the first place?  How can we accept what is known now on evolution and creationism to be true and if we can’t trust it, then what can we effectively teach to others?

Phil Morris – Week 4: Shipman, Labov & Pope

September 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Week 4, Weekly Responses | Leave a comment

Science has belatedly come to an understanding of the enormity of the threat it faces from religious purveyors of creationism and those who attempt to define intelligent design as science. As the article by Labor and Pope and the essay by Shipman starkly demonstrate, the scientific community formerly adopted a decidedly unscientific approach to understanding the danger it faced in the arena of public opinion and public policy in regards to the origin of life. An aloof and dismissive scientific community did not take the enemy seriously and it proved costly.

The leadership of the ID movement perceptively recognized a casual establishment response as an opportunity and effectively leveraged it against the academy. It was able to skillfully get the jump on science and further confuse the issue in the pubic mind by strategically marketing its beliefs to the “wobbly middle,” a public that remains open to the suggestion that ID is science or, at a minimum, a viable alternative theory to evolution.

Science now understands the threat and is fighting back. But that marketing battle now involves a necessary education or re-education of the public as to what constitutes science as well as a clarification of the enormous health and social stakes involved.

The scientific community, by no means a monolith, now understands that it can no longer present facts and assume they will be universally accepted or point to the rule of law and assume the issue settled.

As Labov and Pope write in “Understanding Our Audiences,” the scientific community had to come to the understanding that Kitzmiller v Dover did not frame the issue in the public mind.

“The (NAS) committee originally thought that this decision should be prominently touted … as one of the main reasons why various forms of creationism (including intelligent design) should not be taught in the classroom – it’s illegal. However, feedback from our research suggested that the public does not readily understand the role of the courts in such matters.”

Gaining a better understanding of how to educate the public to matters pertaining to science remains one of the primary challenges facing the scientific community. This challenge will force science to step far from its comfort zone and go into areas of educating that will closely resemble product marketing. The science academy must explain how understanding and accepting evolution as a scientific fact – not theory – will eventually lead to cures for diseases not yet discovered. But mostly the public must be led to the understanding that science is essentially about self-preservation.

“Now I know that I and my colleagues in science are being stalked with careful and deadly deliberation, I fear my days are numbered unless I act soon and effectively,” writes Shipman.

“As scientists, we must stop ignoring the ID movement. It won’t go away. Each of us must learn to avoid jargon in order to communicate better with the public,” she concludes.

That conclusion succinctly describes the difficult work that confronts science as it fights to gain the hearts and especially the minds of a conflicted and often ill-informed public.

If it fails to expand or even change the language and public vehicles that it uses to communicate essential scientific truth, it will continue to see a regression in public understanding of its purpose. Such a trend has dangerous and lasting policy implications.

Perhaps a useful start would be for science to re-brand the theory of evolution as the Law of Evolution. Given that the general public has consistently failed to understand or accept the scientific definition of a theory perhaps its time for scientists to begin speaking in language the public understands.

W4: The Wedge Strategy v. Being Stalked by I.D.

September 25, 2011 at 11:21 am | Posted in Week 4 | 3 Comments

In, The Wedge, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture is in opposition to the idea of scientific materialism. They claim that Western civilization was built on the principle that humans were created in the image of God, and that materialism pushes the idea that “everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions” – this is decidedly destructive to society. Since materialists claimed the environment dictates our behavior and beliefs, they are in denial of the existence of an objective moral standard. The Center, consequently, explores “serious doubt” about scientific materialism. Furthermore, they propose the “Wedge Strategy”, a metaphor for wedging their beliefs into what is accepted as American science. This plan consists of three phases: P1 – Scientific research, writing and publicity, P2 – Publicity and opinion-making, P3 – Cultural confrontation and renewal. Their main goal is to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies. They want more people to believe that nature and human beings are created by God. They want people to see I.D. as an accepted alternative within 5 years, and as the dominant perception in science in 20 years. In short, they favor the teaching of science with Christian and theistic convictions. They plan to accomplish these goals through solid scholarship, research and argument. They planned to prepare for popular reception of their ideas – for instance with the production of a PBS documentary, and by phase three there will be a direct confrontation with advocates of materialists through challenge conferences in significant academic settings.

In, Being Stalked by Intelligent Design, Pat Shipman takes the opposite stance. He begins by explaining the Dover decision to question the validity of Darwin and evolution in schools. He then takes the stance that Intelligent Design is “religious prejudice disguised as intellectual freedom.” I.D. will therefore harm the teaching of science. Shipman was one of the petitioners of this decision that further caused a trial. He then proclaims that I.D. reasoning is an argument of incredulity, and is therefore inherently weak because you cannot test it. He then points out that science is different from opinion and philosophical belief, which he says I.D. is based upon. He was upset by how a student could opt out of learning evolution with a letter from a parent. He says this constitutes malfeasance. He then goes deeper in the the issues surrounding the debate between the I.D. movement, such as those in support of the Wedge Strategy. In doing so, he praises those who can accept both the existence of God and evolution such as the Bishop of Oxford and Archbishop of Canterbury who see evolution as compatible with the belief in God. He then explores the OSU study on whether students maintain their beliefs after learning supporting and challenging evidence of macroevolution. However, he points out that there is no valid scientific data challenging macroevolution and that this is misleading and this study is miseducating students. He opposes the Center for Science and Culture agenda to encourage students to believe a scientific theory is the same as a philosophical assertion. With regard to the new scientific evidence the Center claims to have for proving I.D., he calls this pure propaganda. He then proclaims that the success of the I.D. is “terrifying”, due in part to the fact that the U.S. is falling behind other nations in mathematics and scientific literacy, and should the I.D. vision come true, this will get even worse. Young people will likely suffer the most as a result of this. He ends by saying the I.D. movement will likely not go away, so it is unwise for scientists to ignore it. In short, the counter-plan for scientists should be “to expose I.D. for what it really is: religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom.”

Some questions for discussion:

Did Shipman go too far by saying I.D. was “religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom? Or, did he have good reason for proclaiming such?

Are movements like the Wedge Strategy truly a threat to students’ progress in science and mathematics? Or, can an alternative be discussed without the U.S. falling further behind in math and science?

Is the “evidence” the I.D. movement uses to support their beliefs legitimate, or are they propaganda, like Shipman claims?

Would you be upset, bothered, annoyed etc. if a student were permitted to be excused from science class with a letter from a parent?

Luke Yiannatji

Megan Geske Week 4: Johnson (Ch 9) and Shipman

September 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, Week 4, Weekly Responses | 2 Comments
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It is clear from their writings that Philip Johnson and Pat would not get along. Philip Johnson is considered a founder of the Intelligent Design movement, and wrote the book “Darwin on Trial” about the evolution-creation debate (scientists have heavily criticized the book as being misleading and inaccurate). Pat Shipman on the other hand is an anthropologist, and in her article “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design” she describes ID as “a deliberate campaign to undermine the teaching of science in America”.

Chapter 9 in Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial” discusses the definition of science, evolution, and creationism. Johnson has a very broad definition of a creationist: “a person who believes that the world was designed, and exists for a purpose.” In opposition to creationists, Johnson states that Darwinists (a term Johnson uses for all evolutionists) and mainstream science believe that God has nothing to do with evolution. Johnson claims that “creation by Darwinist evolution is hardly more observable than supernatural creation by God”, and that “Darwinism as explanation for how complex organisms came into existence in the first place…is pure philosophy”. In sum, Johnson appears to be claiming that evolutionary biologists do not believe in God, and religion and science appear to be incompatible.

Shipman’s article delves into the issue of Intelligent Design from a scientist’s perspective. Shipman argues that ID is not science, but at most an opinion or a “philosophical preference”. Shipman points out that in the scientific community, there is no controversy or debate about the fundamental principle of evolution, despite what Johnson may claim. Shipman, like Johnson, also discusses religion. While Johnson believes that evolutionists can’t be religious, Shipman points out that Theodosius Dobzhansky was a devout Christian as well as being a geneticist and evolutionist. Furthermore, she cites that many people view religion and evolution as compatible, such as the Bishop of Oxford and Pope John Paul II.
My questions: Do you think there would still be a public debate about evolution if religion were not an issue? Do you think that science is compatible with religion?

Week 4 Post – Johnson (Chapter 9) & Shipman

September 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Week 4 | 2 Comments

Johnson Chapter 9 was spoke of a case with the Arkansas State Legislature about  how they were requiring “balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science”. Darwinist philosophers were put on the stand and made statements such as, “there can be no such things as ‘creation-science’. Judge Overton started to define what science was with the fact that it is accepted by the scientific community, and since that was unhelpful he specified on five aspects of science that we have talked about in class and have seen in many different cases:

“1) it is guided by natural law 2) it has to be explanatory by reference to natural law 3) it is testable against the empirical world 4) its conclusions are tentative – that is, not necessarily the final word and 5) it is falsifiable”

After he stated these, Judge Overton ruled that creation-science does not fall into these characteristics because it “appeals to the supernatural, and hence is not testable, falsifiable, or explanatory by reference to natural law”.

The Shipman article talks about the Dover case that we learned about in past readings and movies. Shipman is not afraid to share his opinion in this piece and the article is framed with scientific/technical uncertainty and by morality/ethics. He gives many reasons as why ID is not science and shouldn’t be taught in schools. He also touches on the fact that ID is simply “a matter of faith”.

Both of these articles touch on the idea of what is and what isn’t science, what should and shouldn’t be taught in schools, and what is a matter of faith or a matter of fact.

Question: In Johnson (Chapter 9), I felt like the ones that strive for creationism to not be on equal terms with evolution couldn’t even come up with one solid definition when it came to what evolution consists of. The Darwinists was different from the Simpson’s meaning of evolution, which was different from the Gnostics thoughts. So how do they expect the public to believe in evolution, when there are multiple views/definitions that no one (scientist) can agree on?

Jorden Gemuend – Week 4 – Shipman and Labov

September 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Week 4, Weekly Responses | Leave a comment

The defense, protection, and advancement of the theory of evolution are high priorities for many scientists, organizations, and activists alike. While articles such as “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design,” by Pat Shipman, and “Understanding Our Audiences: The Design and Evolution of Science, Evolution, and Creationism,” by Jay Labov and Barbara Kline Pope, both attempt to convince their readers that Intelligent Design (ID) and Creationism are not scientific and should remain outside of education, neither of them even touch the idea of questioning the theory of evolution. The article by Labov hints at the idea by stating that the updated publication Science, Evolution, and Creationism includes the limits of science. With such controversial challenges confronting the theory of evolution, scientists have stopped asking questions that could lead to possibilities outside of evolution.

 

This forward-only vision can be seen in the article written by Shipman. The article begins by claiming that the author ignored and thought little of the ID “threat.” It was not until the Dover school board drew attention that Shipman became alarmed. The publication describes ID as religion in disguise and classifies it as a weak strategy of incredulity. Shipman talks about how nearly everyone educated in science believes in the theory of evolution, and adds a long list of organizations that also support evolution. While this tactic of showing that the theory of evolution has a lot of support within the scientific community, it does not turn around and ask whether scientists should attempt to test for alternatives. No questions are posed to the community about the assumptions of evolution. There are no questions at all, only the appearance of unification, and therefore scientific results. The community, feeling under attack, has become afraid to go back and take a second look at what has now been taken for granted; the basis for evolution and all its intricate parts. To ask these questions would infer that the community is not indeed united, and would appear to lose credibility. Instead of posing questions about how evolution can be tested further, Shipman discusses the strategies of the ID movement. She focuses on how the challenge to evolution is stunting learning, and how frightened people should be when these challenges appear. She concludes by stressing the importance of taking ID seriously.

 

Labov takes another angle to arrive at the same destination. The focus is on explaining an updated version of a publication called Science, Evolution, and Creationism, which was written by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The updated publication takes on the role of informing and educating teachers and organizations with the means to properly discuss the debate between evolution and ID. Labov’s article goes in depth with how NAS created surveys to gauge their audience, sent copies to influential people for critique and advice, and overall underwent a rigorous process to become the piece of literature that is. The article talks about court cases in which the teaching of evolution was upheld and the teaching of creationism and ID were not. Highlights of the publication include new developments supporting evolution while explaining that religion is not to be considered scientifically. What the article does not discuss, however, are scientists taking an interest in questioning the theories they have come so far to develop.  Afraid to look in any direction except evolution, scientists seem to not even want to consider that alternatives may exist. Somewhere in the midst of defending evolution, science has lost its sense of self; that being wrong is still moving forward.

 

While both of these articles have the objective of sounding the alarm and forging the weapons for the fight against creationism and ID, they take some different strategies to do it. Whereas Shipman uses a personal first person perspective, adding emotion and story to her writing, the Labov article takes on a tone of superiority and condescendence. They both have the same intent, but they each have a different effect on their readers. Shipman uses a precautionary frame to convince the reader that they too should be afraid and in response more strongly support evolution. Reading Labov leaves a reader feeling like they just attended a passive-aggressive lecture on why we should all be teaching evolution without question. Both rely on pointing out that the scientific community mostly agrees on evolution, and both say nothing about questioning what has already been established for the theory of evolution.

 

My Question: If it seems as though there are plenty of people interested in scientifically looking for alternatives to evolution, why does the scientific community not search for them?

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