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Moronism Goes Super-Mainstream
This is scary. Now, corporations are afraid to fund the Darwin exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, lest they tick off the religious freaks. The Creationist Museum, on the other hand, has raised $7 million in donations. Nicholas Wapshott writes in the Daily Telegraph:

The entire $3 million (£1.7 million) cost of Darwin, which opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York yesterday, is instead being borne by wealthy individuals and private charitable donations.

How moronic are we in this country?

Creationism is increasingly widely backed in America. A CBS News poll last month found that 51 per cent of Americans reject the theory of evolution, believing instead that God created humans in their present form. Another poll in August found that 38 per cent of Americans think that creationism should be taught in schools, instead of evolution.

In Dover, Pennsylvania, last week, a jury began considering a case brought by parents against a school board that insisted that "intelligent design," which argues that a supernatural force populated the earth, be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

Yes, the world was created by a giant purple talking doughnut.

Sounds implausible?

Well, there's no more evidence that "god" did it. And that's what science is about -- evidence-based knowledge, not blind belief, more politely called "faith."

Oh, but there's one more thing:

The museum will have to depend more heavily upon the profits of its Darwin-related merchandise to finance the cost of staging the exhibition, including a 12-inch Darwin doll, Darwin finger puppets and, for a $950, a replica of the vessel Beagle, made in China and assembled in Vietnam.

Support the museum here.

Posted by aalkon at November 24, 2005 9:05 AM

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Requiring teachers to cover intelligent design in science classes doesn't need to be all bad news - in fact, it could be beneficial.

A difficulty in teaching science is that science has two main parts: a body of knowledge (rather boring, but necessary) and a method for discovering new knowledge (exciting, but you need to travel a long way these days to reach the frontier). Most school science concentrates on the body of knowledge, which is, sadly, a turn off for hormone-fuelled teenagers. It also is not as important as the scientific method of discovery.

Enter ID. If we have to teach evolution and ID side-by-side, then this brings discovery right to the front. We apparently have two hypotheses. To test them we need to see what predictions they make that are different, so we can do an experiment. What does ID predict? Nothing testable. (That's why it's not a scientific hypothesis, kids). What does evolution predict? Common descent should show up in DNA cladistics (check); fossils should show a family tree (check), fast breeders like bacteria and viruses should evolve (check), etc.

What other hypotheses do we have? Choose any creation myth and try it out.

Would this not be a useful lesson for a science class?

Posted by: Norman at November 24, 2005 2:12 AM

Norman, the goal of the ID twits isn't to have teachers teach why it doesn't hold water vis a vis scientific criteria, but to skip that petty detail. I can just see the posters on the wall now. Instead of the periodic table, they'll have posters of the ancestral John Wayne riding a dinosaur.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 24, 2005 2:33 AM

Hi Amy - I know intelligent debate is not the goal of the ID brigade. My point is that if they insist on ID in the science class, then they'll be excellent source material for explaining what's special about science compared to junk science or religion. Given the amount of junk science and religiosity around these days this can only be good.

Science has a very special place in human history, but most ordinary folks don't know what makes it special, or how it works, (eg why evidence from one randomised double blind experiment is more valuable than evidence from a thousand anecodotes), or what "testable" means.

My view is that we can't all be scientific experts, but we can - and should - all learn how to detect baloney. Otherwise we're all just propaganda fodder.

Posted by: Norman at November 24, 2005 5:55 AM

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