A few months a go we wrote The Magic of Design Intuition, in which we discussed Doug Axe’s concept of a “design intuition” we supposedly all share, and which — in the case of their “theory” of intelligent design — Axe says is “valid and confirmed by science.”
Today the Discovery Institute is promoting the same theme in a post titled Naval Academy Philosopher: Laypeople Entitled to an Opinion on Science Questions. It was written by Sarah Chaffee (whom we call “Savvy Sarah”). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
This sounds more than a bit like Douglas Axe. It’s a presentation given at the Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice this past June by Larry Lengbeyer, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the U.S. Naval Academy. The talk, “Defending Limited Non-Deference to Science Experts,” explains logically why laypeople are not barred from disagreeing with scientists.
Of special interest is the section defending disagreement based on a perception of “untrustworthy science.” Lengbeyer acknowledges that this is a tricky call for laypeople to make. However, he notes that people have access to credible scientific sources. And “some of the time, the outsider will have the ability to offer evaluations that deserve respect, including critical evaluations…” This is not common, but it happens. He lists more than 17 different logical flaws that a layperson may identify.
Then she gives a few of those 17 logical flaws. Presumably quoting Lengbeyer, we’re told that a layman can doubt a scientist when:
[T]he theory has been confirmed/validated in highly artificial conditions, or with a data set that is limited in important ways, calling into question its applicability to other contexts …
We’re not sure how a layman can determine if that’s applicable. It looks to us like the sort of thing that would be spotted during peer review. Anyway, Savvy Sarah shows how useful it can be to creationists:
This sounds a lot like the problems with current scenarios for the origin of life. Self-replicating RNA is designed in the lab, the Miller-Urey experiment was conducted under conditions very different from those scientists believe were the case on the early Earth, and hydrothermal vents may not be totally nurturing to life.
Then she gives us another quote from Lengbeyer — and the brackets and ellipsis are in Sarah’s post:
[T]he stated findings or conclusions are not convincingly warranted by the study results, on account of one or more methodological failures [overgeneralization, overstatement, cherry picking, possibly p-hacking]…
No problem for a layman to spot an error like that! Sarah gives an example creationists can use:
What are the problems with neo-Darwinism? Generally that natural selection acting on random mutation leads to microevolution (such as changes in the Galápagos finches) rather than macroevolution. When researchers claim that they have observed speciation in action, a closer look often reveals only small changes — instances of breaking genes, not innovation of new information. Overgeneralization and overstatement are rampant.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Look for the Micro-Macro Mambo in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Sarah continues:
Axe explains the importance of allowing laypeople to weigh scientific arguments, using their own power of reason to arrive at a plausible opinion. [Big quote from Doug Axe.] Logic wins over scientific groupthink.
Sarah gives one more big quote from Lengbeyer, of which this is a tiny part:
Better to embrace the emerging participatory model, and to concentrate on elevating laypersons in respectful and empowering ways so that they can play their limited role competently, perhaps gradually increasing their science understanding so as to narrow the gulf between them and the experts.
Sarah ends her post by gushing:
The “participatory model” is a worthy complement to Axe’s “common science.”
We note that Sarah didn’t quote anything Lengbeyer said about evolution. If he had, she surely would have quoted it. We’re left to wonder what he was talking about, and whether he’d appreciate having his remarks appropriated by a creationist outfit like the Discoveroids.
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