Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dover Decision II - ID Proponents "Distort and Misrepresent Scientific Knowledge"

For those readers who don't want to read the entire decision, and were not convinced by the conclusion, I beg you to read this excerpt, which addresses clearly the issue of whether "Intelligent Design" is science:

After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. (64)

...

Plaintiffs’ science experts, Drs. Miller and Padian, clearly explained how ID proponents generally and Pandas specifically, distort and misrepresent scientific knowledge in making their anti-evolution argument. In analyzing such distortion, we turn again to Pandas, the book to which students are expressly referred in the disclaimer. Defendants hold out Pandas as representative of ID and Plaintiffs’ experts agree in that regard. (16:83 (Padian); 1:107-08 (Miller)). A series of arguments against evolutionary theory found in Pandas involve paleontology, which studies the life of the past and the fossil record. Plaintiffs’ expert Professor Padian was the only testifying expert witness with any expertise in paleontology.15 His testimony therefore remains unrebutted. Dr. Padian’s demonstrative slides, prepared on the basis of peer-reviewing scientific literature, illustrate how Pandas systematically distorts and misrepresents established, important evolutionary principles.

We will provide several representative examples of this distortion. First, Pandas misrepresents the “dominant form of understanding relationships” between organisms, namely, the tree of life, represented by classification determined via the method of cladistics. (16:87-97 (Padian); P-855.6-855.19). Second, Pandas misrepresents “homology,” the “central concept of comparative biology,” that allowed scientists to evaluate comparable parts among organisms for classification purposes for hundreds of years. (17:27-40 (Padian); P-855.83-855.102). Third, Pandas fails to address the well-established biological concept of exaptation, which involves a structure changing function, such as fish fins evolving fingers and bones to become legs for weight-bearing land animals. (16:146-48 (Padian)). Dr. Padian testified that ID proponents fail to address exaptation because they deny that organisms change function, which is a view necessary to support abruptappearance. Id. Finally, Dr. Padian’s unrebutted testimony demonstrates that Pandas distorts and misrepresents evidence in the fossil record about pre- Cambrian-era fossils, the evolution of fish to amphibians, the evolution of small carnivorous dinosaurs into birds, the evolution of the mammalian middle ear, and the evolution of whales from land animals. (16:107-17, 16:117-31, 16:131-45, 17:6-9, 17:17-27 (Padian); P-855.25-855.33, P-855.34-855.45, P-855.46-855.55, P-855.56-866.63, P-855.64-855.82).

In addition to Dr. Padian, Dr. Miller also testified that Pandas presents discredited science. Dr. Miller testified that Pandas’ treatment of biochemical similarities between organisms is “inaccurate and downright false” and explained how Pandas misrepresents basic molecular biology concepts to advance design theory through a series of demonstrative slides. (1:112 (Miller)). Consider, for example, that he testified as to how Pandas misinforms readers on the standard evolutionary relationships between different types of animals, a distortion which Professor Behe, a “critical reviewer” of Pandas who wrote a section within the book, affirmed. (1:113-17 (Miller); P-854.9-854.16; 23:35-36 (Behe)).16 In addition, Dr. Miller refuted Pandas’ claim that evolution cannot account for new genetic information and pointed to more than three dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications showing the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes. (1:133-36 (Miller); P-245). In summary, Dr. Miller testified that Pandas misrepresents molecular biology and genetic principles, as well as the current state of scientific knowledge in those areas in order to teach readers that common descent and natural selection are not scientifically sound. (1:139-42 (Miller)).

Accordingly, the one textbook to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and badly flawed science, as recognized by even the defense experts in this case.

A final indicator of how ID has failed to demonstrate scientific warrant is the complete absence of peer-reviewed publications supporting the theory...

On cross-examination, Professor Behe admitted that: “There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.” (22:22-23 (Behe)). Additionally, Professor Behe conceded that there are no peer-reviewed papers supporting his claims that complex molecular systems, like the bacterial flagellum, the blood-clotting cascade, and the immune system, were intelligently designed. (21:61-62 (complex molecular systems), 23:4-5 (immune system), and 22:124-25 (blood-clotting cascade) (Behe)). In that regard, there are no peer-reviewed articles supporting Professor Behe’s argument that certain complex molecular structures are “irreducibly complex.”17 (21:62, 22:124-25 (Behe)). In addition to failing to produce papers in peer-reviewed journals, ID also features no scientific research or testing. (28:114-15 (Fuller); 18:22-23, 105-06 (Behe)). After this searching and careful review of ID as espoused by its proponents, as elaborated upon in submissions to the Court, and as scrutinized over a six week trial, we find that ID is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community. ID, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science.
(Pages 85-89. Emphasis added.)

20 comments:

Sadie Lou said...

I think I'm missing something here: Do people think ID is science? All the time I have been laboring under the illusion that defenders of ID being taught in science class were aware that it can't be taught as scientific fact--but merely a difference of opinion on the origins of the planet earth and of mankind.
I didn't know that people want it accepted as FACT. All I was asking was why can't it be presented in science class as an alternitive to popular belief?

Jewish Atheist said...

For the same reason we don't teach the Hindu creation story as an alternative to popular belief, Sadie Lou. If it ain't science, it doesn't belong in science class.

Foilwoman said...

Sadie: The whole point was that the proponents of ID want to teach is in science class as science. In court, they said it was science (although they had to concede it was science in the same sense that astrology or numerology could be considered science). It's not science. Admit it. Move on.

Jewish Atheist said...

foilwoman, be civil. :)

Sadie Lou:

She is right, though. The whole purpose of ID (as opposed to creationism) was that it was supposedly an alternate scientific theory to evolution. If I remember correctly, it was already ruled that it's unconstitutional to teach creationism in public school science classes, so ID was created as a way to get a God-based "theory" in the door. What this ruling basically says is that the attempt didn't work -- the fact that IDers couch their "theory" in scientific terms and conspicuously don't specify who the Intelligent Designer is was ruled insufficient to make it a scientific theory. Therefore, for the same reason that creationism isn't allowed in the public school science classrooms (basically, separation of church and state) ID isn't either.

This is from an article on the Discovery Institute's (the leading proponent of ID) website: "Contrary to media reports, intelligent design is not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins-one that challenges strictly materialistic views of evolution."

They do claim it's science.

This ruling may spell the end of ID as a movement.

Foilwoman said...

JA: Sorry, in a crappy mood and suffering from insomnia. I'll stop posting here for a day or two until I'm civil again.

Jewish Atheist said...

I love your posts otherwise, you've just gotten a little... uncivil twice in a row. Keep posting, just be nice. :)

Sadie Lou said...

Foilwoman: Sorry about the insomina. Ouch. I hate losing sleep of any amount. :)
You do realize that I'm not saying ID is science, right? I don't even subscribe to ID as a package. While I believe the Bible is the word of God, I haven't made up my mind on if I think Creation happened exactly like it is written in Genesis or if that story is a parable of sorts--not meant to be taken literally.
The only thing I do know for sure, is God is behind the creation of the universe and mankind--however it happens and however He does it is for His purpose and for me to stand in awe of.

CyberKitten said...

Sadie said: You do realize that I'm not saying ID is science, right?

Then it shouldn't be taught in a science class....

Sadie Lou said...

By your phrasing, you are totally correct; it shouldn't be TAUGHT in science class.
That word "taught" implies that the teacher has to go into much detail and explanation--"mentioned" or "presented" I don't have a problem with.
You would have to go through every school's curriculum with a fine toothed comb if you were going to make sure that only health was taught in health class. Only social studies was taught in social studies. Only math was taught in math class. I don't understand why there is this huge cry of "fraudulance" is going out if ID makes a breif appearence in science class.
Think we held that standard for every subject: Are we going to throw a quick mentioning of Christopher Marlowe's plays out of an elective on Shakespere because it's NOT Shakespere? I took Shakespere as an elective and we talked about a lot of things that didn't have much fact or merit. For instance: Some people think Shakespere was not really one man. They believe that the plays were written by several men under an alias. They don't think that just one man could have written so many great plays.
There is the theory that Shakespere was a homosexual. WHATEVER! If you start playing the game of FACT related informtion ONLY--our studies are going to be lacking some quality.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou,

There's a big difference between a teacher "mentioning" ID and a teacher being REQUIRED to "mention" ID. The Dover case was a result of the ID proponents on the Dover Area School Board of Directors REQUIRING teachers to mention ID.

A teacher merely mentioning ID is inappropriate in my opinion, but may not be unconstitutional. Requiring teachers to mention ID, which the judge ruled "an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion," is a clear violation of the constitution.

Here's the relevant quote:

On November 19, 2004, the Defendant Dover Area School District announced by press release that, commencing in January 2005, teachers would be required to read the following statement to students in the ninth grade biology class at Dover High School... (Page 1.)

Sadie Lou said...

I don't agree with teachers having to read a statement. I think that's stupid.

Foilwoman said...

Sadie: Let's enjoy this moment of perfect agreement.

Jewish Atheist said...

Me too!

Sadie Lou said...

*ahhhhhh*
------enjoying--------

asher said...

Face facts...Intelligent Design is not science....Evolution, otherwise known as pure chance, survival of the fittest, natural selection and, I guess, Unintelligent Design, IS true science.

Stephen Jay Gould said evolution is not a natural process but an accident. Is this true? We are all just accidents, just a little better than chimps and apes? All our altruism, science, ecological persuits, literature, and love poetry only the result of the accident of homo sapiens having a larger brain that any other primate?

Give that some thought.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

I thought about it. Dogs are altruistic I believe. So are dolphins: http://www.eurocbc.org/page296.html

Chimps are smarter than birds you must admit. There is a hierarchy in the animal world. We are the only animals on the planet capable of doing research on it.

Can you find one scientific study that proves evolution is wrong or faulty? Peer reviewed please.

Foilwoman said...

BEAJ: But there are GAPS! Until there are no "missing links" whatsoever, there will be those who insist that apes and humans are unrelated, that whales weren't once land-dwelling mammals, that the changes in animals in the Galapagos from what they were on the mainland were, er, intelligently designed and unless on can actually witness evolution in process (longer than our lifespan, but hey) it's not verifiable. Buch of hooey, but still.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Even with Gaps, every true discovery made since the theory of evolution has fit in with the theory.

Even if all the gaps were filled, the Fundies still wouldn't buy it unless they could see it in front of their eyes like you said.

CyberKitten said...

Asher said: All our altruism, science, ecological persuits, literature, and love poetry only the result of the accident of homo sapiens having a larger brain that any other primate?

I'm guessing from your 'tone' that you have a problem with that idea.

Why do you think that we are 'special' or 'chosen' in some way? - at least I'm presuming that's the way you think...

I have no problem in thinking that we're just another animal - who just happens to be self aware...

Foilwoman said...

Well, I'm happier believing that Tay-Sachs syndrome and cystic fibrosis, and most mental illnesses are accidents rather than divinely planned. Because if they are divinely planned, the intelligent designer is some giant schoolboy who pulls the wings off flies. We mean that little. I'd rather be a speck of dust to the cosmos who means nothing than a rather mean child's plaything. You know, the doting parent says, to the friend who complains about the rather bratty kid mutilating the insects: "He's only pulling the wings off in play." The only answer is, of course, yes, but the flies, they die in earnest.

Playful murderer or non-existent? Which do you prefer?