Discovery Institute: Our Magical Magnetic Sense

Like children in their first science class, the Discovery Institute seems to be enchanted with the phenomenon of magnetism. We recently wrote Discoveroids: Still More Evidence of Design, in which they declared that the ability of deer to detect the Earth’s magnetism scores high on their mysterious detectors of Irreducible complexity, which is powerful evidence that we were created by the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — for life on this Privileged Planet.

The Discoveroids’ fascination with magnetism is also the subject of this new post at their creationist blog: Are Humans Magnetic? It has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Last month, we noted a study that shows how deer orient themselves on a north-south axis, and wondered if humans have a latent magnetic sense. Now there is new evidence that we might. The champion of human magnetic perception is Joe Kirschvink of Caltech. In Science Magazine, Eric Hand talked about the lively debate over this possible sixth sense:

This is the article they’re referring to: Maverick scientist thinks he has discovered a magnetic sixth sense in humans. We’ll skip their quotes and most of their discussion, so we can concentrate on the truly entertaining stuff. Near the end they say:

The evolutionary theory would require magnetic sensation arising by chance in the earliest bacteria, then persisting throughout the entire tree of life but disappearing or lying dormant in many species. Either that, or evolutionists would have to postulate that it arose independently in distant parts of the tree unrelated by nearby ancestry.

What’s wrong with that? You’re about to find out. Let’s read on:

But magnetic fields are invisible; why would any organism even be aware of them?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Sound, taste, and odor are invisible too. So are pheromones. Nevertheless, they are detectable by most organisms. The Discoveroids continue:

And if perchance a bacterium or other creature suddenly engulfed some magnetite and then somehow sensed the field, how would it know the information is useful? How did the information become encoded in the genome to both sense magnetism and respond to it?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The organisms don’t have to “know” anything. But if such a sense were useful, it would be likely to result in a survival and then reproductive advantage. Here’s more:

Design advocates do not find it surprising that diverse animals can share methods of sensing invisible forces available to them. Intelligent designers know how to make sensors. They know how to make responders.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Observe, dear reader, the application of the advanced techniques of the Discoveroids’ new scientific tool kit — feelings, intuition, and personal experience, which we recently described in Klinghoffer Says ‘Go With Your Feelings’.

And now we come to the end:

Whether it’s for light, sound, touch, odor, or taste, sensors in the living world are marvelously complex. One expects the magnetic sense that scientists are just now coming to understand will be no less so.

So there you are, dear reader. The Discoveroids know what everything discovered by scientists, whether they realize it or not, is evidence of Oogity Boogity!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Political Wilderness Free Fire Zone

The Republican National Convention has just ended, and the Democrat Convention starts tomorrow. The news seems to be almost entirely about that, and to make it worse, neither candidate seems to be a creationist, so that subject isn’t being mentioned.

Your Curmudgeon is more opposed to one candidate than the other, but we aren’t excited by either of them — at least for now — so we’re not going to post about politics. Maybe later. But if you want to talk about politics, that’s fine with us.

Therefore we hereby declare another Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. We’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, or even astrology, theology, mythology, and sociology — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it.

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Ken Ham Says: ‘Stop Looking for Evidence’

The scientific expertise of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, seems to be boundless. He’s the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, and for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark.

Ol’ Hambo’s latest blog article at the AIG website is Can Vanishing Stars Point to Alien Civilizations? We already know his attitude about aliens — see Ken Ham Says There Are No Intelligent Aliens, but today he’s criticizing a paper published in The Astronomical Journal. We can’t find it at their website yet, but this is an article about it from New Scientist: Impossible vanishing stars could be signs of advanced alien life. Here are some excerpts from Hambo’s view of things, with bold font added by us:

It seems every week there’s a new study regarding supposed alien life in outer space and yet another possibility of how we can find these elusive supposed beings. The newest attempt to find advanced alien civilizations involves looking into our universe for vanishing stars. The thought behind this method, proposed by a team of scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden, is that “perhaps . . . [the aliens are] harnessing energy from it using a Dyson sphere — a ball of solar panels around the star that blocks the light from our telescopes. Or maybe the aliens would want to hide their star from an enemy.” [Ellipsis and brackets in Hambo’s post.]

That sounds like an interesting research proposal. What’s wrong with it? Hambo says:

Apparently the research team analyzed several hundred thousand stars looking for ones that seemed to disappear. The 148 candidates quickly dwindled to one as they weeded out false positives and negatives. And the one that was left might not actually have disappeared at all “because it looks faint in the second data set.”

Hambo is delighted that they haven’t found any evidence yet. Let’s read on:

What I find interesting is that creationists doing real, observational science in astronomy, genetics, or any other field [Hee hee!] cannot reference a biblical worldview or a Creator God or their work will never be published in a secular journal — even though they have real evidence to back-up their claims. And if the researchers are known to be creationists, they will likely have trouble getting published (even if their work doesn’t mention God and isn’t in any way related to the origins debate) simply because they are creationists!

It’s a cruel world. Hambo continues:

Yet completely speculative research such as looking for vanishing stars in hopes of finding advanced alien civilizations — for which no observational evidence whatsoever exists — is accepted and published in The Astronomical Journal!

Hambo is missing the point. The scientists are suggesting that there may be evidence to be found, and saying that it if were found, it would be very useful. What’s wrong with that? Hambo explains:

When Bill Nye “the Science Guy” was touring the Ark Encounter two weeks ago, he said that it wasn’t crazy to believe we descended from Martians. He openly admitted there’s no proof that any life exists on Mars — though he hopes someday we’ll find the life that he thinks is there. Many secularists think like this.

Those silly secularists don’t know how to think! But Hambo does. Moving along:

They hold to the hope that, despite the lack of evidence, someday, somewhere, we will find life — preferably intelligent life — in the universe. It seems they are willing to believe in anything except for the biblical God and His Word. It’s all really a clash of worldviews that began in Genesis 3 — God’s Word vs. man’s word.

Hambo doesn’t need any evidence for his worldview, because he already knows it’s true, and those godless scientists are fools to look for evidence of theirs. One last excerpt:

We need to pray that these secularists will have their eyes opened to the truth of God’s Word. You see, it’s a spiritual issue, not an intellectual one. These men and women are very smart people, but they are blinded to the truth of God’s Word because of the hardness of their hearts.

Hambo should pray that the search for evidence will continue, and that it will continue to produce negative results. But deep down, he lives in terror that one day the evidence against his ancient worldview will be irrefutable. It already is in many ways, but spotting an intelligent alien civilization might be more than even he could bear.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Klinghoffer Says ‘Go With Your Feelings’

This is a strange one from the Discovery Institute, but that’s not surprising. Everything they churn out these days is strange. It appears at their creationist blog: Scientists Aren’t Exempt from Feelings, Any More Than the Public Is.

It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Amanda Freise makes a fine point in a post for Scientific American, It’s Time for Scientists to Stop Explaining So Much. [It’s an article at their blog.] She’s a PhD student in molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA and has evidently made a study of research on science communication. She concludes that scientists shouldn’t be shocked if loading more technical information on the public doesn’t dissuade them from skeptical views on certain controversial issues.

We’ve all seen that nothing will change a creationist’s mind. Does Klinghoffer agree? We’ll find out:

She doesn’t mention evolution, but she could have done so. Freise explains that many of her colleagues still hold a “widely discredited” idea, the “deficit model,” which says that if only people could be supplied with enough of the right information, they would come around and believe what they are supposed to. It’s not so, however.

Very true. That’s what keeps the Discoveroids in business. Then he quote from the Scientific American blog article, but we haven’t verified the quote:

There are other approaches to communication which provide alternative methods to opening dialogue with skeptical audiences. For instance, contextualization suggests that science must be presented in the context of a person’s values, beliefs, and personal experience. Scientists accustomed to making decisions purely based on evidence, without the influence of feelings or personal values, may find this to be an onerous task.

It’s difficult to imagine trying that with a creationist. What is Klinghoffer going to do with this? His post is chaotic, and we’re still not sure. See if you can figure it out:

I don’t expect that Amanda Freise will be sympathetic to this — after all, she seems more interested in redirecting skepticism toward an embrace of orthodoxy [Hee hee!] — but engaging with “personal experience” is exactly what some of the best evolutionary skeptics do.

Ah yes, the “best evolutionary skeptics” — presumably the Discoveroids — like to engage with personal experience. That’s how science should be done! Klinghoffer continues:

Advocates of intelligent design appeal to the daily observation that only intelligent agents generate information of the kind we find in computer code, magazine articles, and the like, the very same kind of information we find in DNA.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! DNA is just like a magazine article! Here’s more:

Douglas Axe in his new book, [link omitted], shows that the intuition of design in nature is valid, being based on our “personal experience” of how expertise is brought to bear in invention. As he points out, a bed is not made, an omelet is not made, unless someone makes them. It’s no different with organisms: with the design of an orca, a spider, or a crane.

No comment necessary. Moving along:

In the evolution controversy, the context we know best, here’s how the dynamic works. So much hinges on the dread of “creationism.” No one should ever forget the power of that scare word, “creationist,” with all it implies by way of not only scientific but social opprobrium. Though ID is emphatically not creationism, being called “creationists” is something ID proponents face every day. This is the major way in which the orthodox, including scientists, confuse the public in order to tamp down dissent and skepticism.

It’s good to know that being called creationists really bothers the Discoveroids. We intend to continue calling them such — because that’s what they are. Another excerpt:

In the minds of many, in science and in the media, merely to question the evidence that Darwinian processes explain life is to shame and taint yourself through association with “creationism.” Of course this would make even Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection, a “creationist.”

Wallace was a creationist, at least late in his life — see Discoveroids Adopt Alfred Wallace as Godfather. On with the article:

However absurd, the term “creationist” is an effective prophylactic against thought, which is why, if I had my way, it would be retired from all discussion. Language should clarify and distinguish, not muddy and blur. Any lower standard is a hallmark of propaganda.

Creationism is a “prophylactic against thought.” And now we come to the end:

But propaganda is effective even with scientists. No, they are hardly more exempt from the “influence of feelings” than the public is. Recognizing that, and its flipside — that intuition can sometimes be valid, cutting through reams of obscure technical data — would help advance the conversation about evolution. Maybe about some other controversies in science, too.

Feelings, intuition, and personal experience. That’s the method humanity used to practice, before the Age of Enlightenment. And it’s still the preferred method of the Discoveroids.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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