The Discoveroids Are Encouraged

We saw a recent article in ForbesHow To Overthrow A Scientific Theory In Three Easy Steps. We agreed with it, as we do with many science-oriented articles, but it’s more fun to write about crazy stuff, so we didn’t blog about it.

Also, it wouldn’t be anything new to our readers because it was the same general idea as something we wrote ten years ago when this humble blog was new. That was Advice for Creationists, which was widely read at the time, and — as we learned later — it was assigned reading for some college-level courses.

We didn’t think much about the Forbes article, but it seems to have impressed the Discovery Institute, where this just appeared at their creationist blog: For This Physicist, “Overthrowing” Darwinism Is on the Table. It was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Ethan Siegel is a physicist who writes a pretty consistently interesting regular blog for Forbes. Yesterday he offered thoughts on “How To Overthrow A Scientific Theory In Three Easy Steps.” He concedes, “Even our best theories of today may be superseded with tomorrow’s science.”

Gasp! Siegal “conceded” that. Interpreting it as encouragement for creationists, Klinghoffer says:

And no one, except perhaps some ultra-Darwinists, would disagree. He notes that theories have limits:

[Klinghoffer quotes Siegal:] Any theory, no matter how successful, has a finite range of validity. Stay within that range and your theory works very well to describe reality; go outside of it, and its predictions no longer match observations or experiments. This is true for any theory you pick. Newtonian mechanics breaks down at small (quantum) scales and high (relativistic) speeds; Einstein’s General Relativity breaks down at a singularity; Darwin’s evolution breaks down at the origin of life.

Wowie — evolution has unanswered questions! Klinghoffer leaps upon Siegal’s sentence and tells us:

That last point is the theme of Stephen Meyer’s first book, Signature in the Cell.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We haven’t read Meyer’s book, and we’re unlikely ever to do so. Presumably, he announced that the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is responsible for the origin of life. Klinghoffer continues:

Siegel’s three steps are actually four:

[He summarizes what Siegal wrote:] Step 0: recognizing successes and failures of the leading theory.
Step 1: reproducing all the successes of the leading theory.
Step 2: succeeding where the prior theory did not.
Step 3: you must make new, testable predictions that differ from the original theory’s.

How does the Discoveroids’ “theory” accomplish any of that? Let’s read on:

Whether proponents of intelligent design have succeeded in any of those is a question you could debate. [Hee hee!] But it’s beyond doubt that they are trying, in a rigorous manner, to advance through each of those steps. [Hee hee!] It is striking that Darwin defenders typically refuse to acknowledge that or to address the science of ID. They are mostly content with name-calling.

Darwin defenders are so unfair! Another excerpt:

The ID research community isn’t alone, of course, as Sarah Chaffee mentioned here [link omitted]. The hunt is on for a successor to Darwinism: [quote omitted].

Yeah, the hunt is on. Tally-ho! Here’s more:

This means, in any event, that ID is a rival theory, a scientific theory, doing the normal work that scientific ideas must do to supplant a currently dominant idea. That’s not to say that ID will succeed. But to brand it is as a “religious” rather than “scientific” idea is plainly false.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Skipping a bit, we arrive at the end:

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see any indication that Ethan Siegel has a drop of sympathy for design theory. But recognizing how and where the “overthrow” of Darwinian evolution could happen, if it were to happen, is a step in the right direction. It puts our question on the table.

If the Discoveroids’ “question” is on the table, our advice is to get up, excuse yourself, and find another table — one that isn’t covered with rubbish.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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37 responses to “The Discoveroids Are Encouraged

  1. Mark Germano

    I’m looking forward to the testable predictions part of intelligent design theopthtpththtpttht.

    Sorry, couldn’t get through that without laughing. Hoo, boy, that Klinghoffer is a riot.

  2. This means, in any event, that ID is a rival theory, a scientific theory, doing the normal work that scientific ideas must do to supplant a currently dominant idea. That’s not to say that ID will succeed. But to brand it is as a “religious” rather than “scientific” idea is plainly false.

    Really? Even when it was clearly crafted as a way to slip explicitly religious ideas into public school science classes despite prior unfavorable court rulings?

    Whether proponents of intelligent design have succeeded in any of those is a question you could debate. [Hee hee!] But it’s beyond doubt that they are trying, in a rigorous manner, to advance through each of those steps. [Hee hee!] It is striking that Darwin defenders typically refuse to acknowledge that or to address the science of ID.

    That’s because there isn’t any. What there is instead is crank pseudoscience done by people whose focus is less on proving ID than on discrediting Darwinism (the two aren’t synonymous).

    Switch out “intelligent design” (and “ID”) for “astrology,” and “Darwin defenders” for “mainstream astronomers,” and the principle applies just the same.

  3. I think as a general rule, and I will say that this is true not only in science, but also in history and the arts, that an old theory is not rejected until there is a candidate for replacement.
    The one place where this is not so is in politics. The old order may be overthrown without any idea what comes next.
    And nobody has offered an explanation for the variety of life which does not mention descent with modification. And I don’t know of anyone interested in constructing such an alternative.
    It is not the same as with geocentrism or even the Flat Earth. Those have an alternative, a very weak one, but they are saying something. The reaction to evolution, from its beginning, has been to deny that we are related to the rest of the world of life, without addressing the explanation given for the undeniable facts of life.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Prediction: Evolution could prove false, but it won’t be intelligent design (whatever that is) that replaces it, if it does.

  5. “Step 1: reproducing all the successes of the leading theory.”

    This means that the new theory will have to explain the same facts as the existing theory, and will therefore most likely closely resemble the existing theory within the realm of those facts.

    This is why Einstein’s Theory or Relativity looks imperceptibly different from Newton’s Theory of Gravity (except for using far more complex maths), until you get to more exotic situations like extreme gravity or speeds coming close to the speed of light.

    Even if a new theory supersedes the Theory of Evolution, it is likely that it will be indistinguishable from the original to a layman, and offer no more comfort to creationists.

  6. Most of the comments here have pretty much nailed it already. I would simply add: who says a theory must be replaced by a complete paradigm shift? They’re pretty rare, in any field.

    As @Hrafn notes, a workable theory that explains only so much, up to a certain point, can always be added to, or further refined, without needing to throw out the whole thing altogether.

    For the Discoveroids to bank so much on the complete toppling of “Darwinism” is as hopeless as hardcore fundies longing for the Second Coming.

  7. Klinkleclapper pretends to understand criticism of IDiocy: “But it’s beyond doubt that they are trying, in a rigorous manner.”
    The first part is correct – there is no doubt they are trying. The second part – in a rigorous manner – well, there is no doubt about it either: it’s a complete falsehood. Klinkleclapper just had demonstrated it himself. If Evolution Theory breaks down at the origin of life it’s the exact opposite of being rigorous to criticize it for not explaining the origin of life.

    Now let me examine if IDiocy succeeds in making those four steps.

    Step 0: No. When IDiots “criticize” Evolution Theory they don’t even manage to represent it correctly.
    Step 1: No. IDiocy never has even tried to predict where a fossil like Tiktaalik can be found.
    Step 2: No. IDiocy isn’t capable of explaining anything (ao I refer to TomS’ remarks on design) and hence never has succeeded where ET has failed.
    Step 3: No. IDiocy doesn’t predict anything.

    That’s an impressive score of 0/4. Way to go, Klinkleclapper!

  8. When there is a revolution in the theory about X, there is never just “that theory is no good”.
    It was realized for centuries that there were problems with the Ptolemy-Aristotle theory of the motions of the stars. Not until Copernicus came up with an alternative, doing the work, the hard work of calculations, was there a challenge.
    There were thoughts about the Earth rotating, or about Venus moving around the Sun, but there was nothing to challenge the whole geocentric model.
    The standard model was all that there was, so, despite its faults, that was it.
    You can’t beat something with nothing. Except in politics.
    Creationism is nothing.

  9. @TomS: “I will say that this is true not only in science, but also in history and the arts”
    Duh, historical research is science – and sometimes a harder science than physics.
    As for art you’re simply wrong. In the first place you only consider western art. The rise of the Flemish painters for instance did not replace anything in Chinese and Japanese art. That’s not possible in science.
    When in music romanticism flourished painters already had left it behind.
    In music late romanticism coincided with the rise of dodecaphony (around 1910 CE). Dodecaphony at its peak coincided with expressionism, with the rise of jazz (which influenced several classical composers again) etc. etc.
    In art “theories” don’t get replaced because the rise of a better one, as in science, they fade out because they get exhausted as a source of inspiration.

  10. @FrankB

    Yes, if science evolved along the lines of the arts, we’d be in a pretty pickle, as taste or fashion alone would tend to dictate the terms, in contradistinction to any base of empirical knowledge afforded by science.

    So it was probably to be expected that creationists and their fellow travelers- in order to feel they were gaining any headway- would focus their energies on attacking the very concept of empiricism as a way of knowing anything about the natural world.

    And attack the peer-review process as a means to try and undermine scientific methodology and verification.

    And take issue with the working definition of science as methodological naturalism, as Stephen Meyer has done, in order to re-insert the supernatural as the preferred explanation.

    And so on.

    The creationist rationale: “In order to save the science, we had to destroy it”.

  11. “as Stephen Meyer has done, in order to re-insert the supernatural as the preferred explanation.”

    “Supernatural Explanation” is an oxymoron. In science, to “Explain” means to render an unknown in terms of knowns. In contrast “Supernatural Explanations” try to render unknowns in terms of even bigger unknowns, and in fact idiot supernaturalists more often than not even try to “explain” knowns in terms of those bigger unknowns. Replace “Supernatural Explanation” with “because magic” and absolutely nothing is lost in their alleged “explanation”. The “Supernatural” is simply an excuse to use magic as a pretend “explanation” and shut down all inquiry.

  12. @Zetopan

    Agreed. Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” contains another oxymoron beloved of creationists: “Immaterial entities”.

    If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or read that one…

  13. To offer an explanation is to put limits. “Anything goes” is not an explanation. We all know that mysterious are the ways of the Lord, and we cannot rule out anything when he is involved. He can make human eyes much like all other vertebrate eyes, but he can make human eyes like insect eyes, or he can make them in violation of the laws of optics. At least, until the creationists can tell us about the laws that limit God’s actions.
    As far as “Intelligent Design”, what are the laws that it operates under?
    As far as the future prospects, is there any indication that anyone is interested in exploring possible laws that apply to creation or design?

  14. I have notified Siegel of the DI article. I will let you know if he says anything in reply. Now more than ever I regret that they don’t have a comments section, where I am sure he would have made his views known.

  15. “I regret that they don’t have a comments section, where I am sure [Siegel] would have made his views known.”

    Open comments would *not* be at all fair because then creationists couldn’t win any arguments! For creationists “being fair” means letting them win! If they could never win it clearly isn’t “fair”. Meanwhile, creationists run schools continue to rigidly censor anything that contradicts their truly moronic views.

  16. This is the kind of talk one would hear from someone who is desperate. Whatever the present knowledge is, maybe there would be some discovery of the magnitude of Copernicus-Galileo-Kepler-Newton that would make us change our minds. Not that there is anyone who has a clue what would make such a reveolution. Not that anyone is working on it. Just hope that somebody is going to be a hero.
    BTW, what about the possibility that the replacement for evolution would turn out to be even more objectionable to today’s creatinists?

  17. This is of a piece with the Discoveroids’ misplaced love of Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I say ‘misplaced’ because the DI fondly believes it is trying to establish a radical new ‘paradigm’, but the fact is they are desperately attempting to resuscitate an old, failed ‘paradigm.’

    Someone needs to do a follow-up book to Kuhn’s splendid volume to cover such cases. Proposed title: The Fructure of Anti-Scientific Reactionaries

  18. Michael Fugate

    I wonder if the DI’s god intelligent designer lists a bunch of “degrees” and “certificates” on business cards, emails, and the like – BS, MS, PhD, MD, DVM, ME,….

  19. @ our Curmudgeon: Everyone else has been too polite to point out your typo error in the title of this post. So it falls to me to point out you have misspelled “Incorrigible

  20. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “Step 3: you must make new, testable predictions that differ from the original theory’s”. And yet creationists never come up with something you can actually test.

  21. Michael Fugate

    Is the DI’s hypothesis: God exists, therefore design or Design, therefore God exists?

  22. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “Signature in the Cell.” is the book where God did it. And that is still all they have.

  23. @KarlGoldsmith
    Right!
    Actually, they avoid saying anything positive about the subject. “Design” is something which is capable of doing anything that evolution can do, as well as anything else, too. Other than that, we aren’t told anything about design. It isn’t like any design that we know about.
    @Michael Fugate
    I have the suspicion that the conclusion of prime importance is rather, “therefore evolution is false”. God is only a tool.

  24. “God is only a tool.”
    We can all assume that the pun was intentional.

  25. Michael Fugate

    TomS,
    Is it God exists, therefore evolution is false or Evolution is false, therefore God exists?

  26. There is the old simile: The Bible is like a lamp post to a drunk, for support and not enlightenment.
    I am sorry to say that recent events have showed that God, the Bible and Christianity are far too often a tool kit for justifying one’s emotions.

  27. @TomS asks a question that has been answered since long:

    “As far as “Intelligent Design”, what are the laws that it operates under?”
    1. Evolution Theory is wrong.
    2. Science can’t explain and materialism is terrible (Hitler, Stalin), hence the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!).
    3. Something biological looks designed to the IDiot, hence it is designed, hence the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!).

    That’s all the IDiot laws you need.
    If you’re not satisfied and claim this is not an answer but rather an “answer” it’s because you’re an athiest materialist nazicommie like me. Oh – and of course a narrow minded small intellect, incapable of looking over the walls of materialistic pseudoscience. True Science stands tall and dares to look over those walls, into the realm of supernaturality. So you’re a yellow coward as well, desperately clinging to your pathetic moral relativity – again just like me. Why oh why do you prefer my company on this site, me, an intellectual dwarf, instead of walking with giants like Klinkleclapper?

  28. Excuse me, you are presenting the laws that the Theory of ID operates under. I was asking about the supposed process (or whatever it is) “Inteligent Design”, that thing that the theory tells us that accounts for stuff.
    The difference is that between a rainbow and optics.

  29. Michael Fugate

    Zetopan,
    My impression is that God’s accomplishments don’t warrant God’s ego, no?

  30. Michael Fugate

    Look up Golem, this will give an interesting view of how the Bible writers thought God acted. The Genesis 2 creation of Adam from dust and Psalms 139 are examples. Humans can create golems, but not with God’s finesse. It is unclear from where the power is summoned to animate, but it does involve secret words.

    The problem for ID is that its proponents both lack imagination and are afraid of looking too hard lest they get an answer they don’t want. It is pretty hard to do science under that burden.

  31. docbill1351

    Klankerwanker really causes me to miss the Gerbil. Come back, Gerb, nothing is forgiven!

    Leave us not forget the origins of the IDiot Strategy – the venerable Wedge Document which states in part the goals:

    “To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.”

    “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”

    Recognizing the need for support, the Discovery Institute affirms the strategy’s Christian, evangelistic orientation:

    Alongside a focus on the influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars. We intend these to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidences that support the faith, as well as to popularize our ideas in the broader culture.

    This golden oldie was followed by the creationist textbook known as “Pandas” in which “creationism” was systematically replaced with “intelligent design” leading to the first “intelligent design creationism” transitional fossil:

    cdesign proponentsists

    (Srsly, Gerb, come back. They really need you!)

  32. Does anybody ever use the plural “evidences” outside of apologetics?

  33. TomS, yes, it’s ugly but often used in scientific articles

  34. Pete Moulton

    @Michael Fugate, the only “degree” the intelligent designer can rightfully claim is a BS.

  35. Michael Fugate

    But just imagine how many honorary degrees God probably has.

  36. Mark Germano

    The use of “evidences” reminds me of the use of the word “freedoms,” which seems to be used primarily by those who believe others’ freedom threatens their own way of life.