Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

'Intelligent Design' - the Cult of Personality

The Intelligent Design movement is this:

A religio-political movement spiffied up with the veneer of science.

And a rather thin veneer, at that. When one reads the writings of ID activists and layfolk, one hears primarily hero-worship. One reads how 'great' the folks associated with ID are; how 'heroic' and 'intelligent' the leaders of the movement are, blah blah blah. Their credentials and relative importance in science and culture are routinely embellished to the point of absurdity (referring to Bill Dembski, whose work has been trampled and belittled by mathematicians and sundry scientists alike, as "the Isaac Newton of Information Theory" is a personal favorite).

A few years ago, the 'leaders' of the ID movement seemed unstoppable - testifying before legislative bodies (not to mention state and local school boards), writing numerous well-selling books, presenting numerous well-attended lectures, producing innumerable ID-friendly websites, etc. The movement certainly fired up the grass-roots right-wing religious establishment and gained a lot of support, even planting seeds of doubt into the minds of some in academia and medicine.

Alas, times have changed. Their cards were played a long time ago - all their 'best' arguments - Irreducible Complexity, the 'explanatory filter', the 'impobability' arguments, the 'problems' with evolution - have been used up. They shot their wad, so to speak, early on and have spent the last several years steadfastly, stubbornly, and desperately clinging to these worn out, hackneyed, arguments ever since.

The writing is one the wall. Look at their most active 'official' web sites - ARN and Uncommon Descent. The ARN discussion boards at one time boasted hundreds of active members, including a few actual scientists posting in support of ID, and getting thousands of hits a day.
Lok at it today. There appear to be only about 10 active participants. There are about 5 scientists posting there, all none-too-friendly to ID, and the pro-ID folks posting there are all unabashed young earth creationists (which we are told ID is not about), with 2 possible exceptions - "jon_e" who is a minutiae mongering pain in the neck, and "lifeEngineer" Warren Bergerson, a megalomaniacal retired actuary who has convinced himself that only he and a handful of people in the entire world uinderstand what science is all about, despite the fact that he has never engaged in any scienctific endeavors and cannot actually name a single person that agrees with anythign he writes.

Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski's blog, has become a laughingstock, with "moderators" that ban anyone that dares question the 'authority' of Saint Bill or disagree with the 'expert' moderators themselves.
A classic example of the apparent fact that ID is little more than a cult of personality can be seen in this post, "Why I’m paying $100 to hear Paul Nelson, November 16, 2006", by Salvador Cordova, founder of the IDEA club movement, who appears to have no job but to post at discussion boards sleazly and creepy accolades of his ID movement heros and, of course, silly pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo purportedly supportive of ID in some way.
Note how Cordova refers to his ID heros, and note how several posters join in the infatuitive 'crush' on these folks:

"Paul Nelson is such a cool and brilliant guy"

That reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where George has a "nonsexual crush" on Elaine's new boyfriend, Tony, wherein Jerry comments to George, after George claims that Tony is such a 'cool guy', "Cool guy? What are you in 8th grade?"

Later in Cordova's adulation piece, after he lists the event attendees (and after explaining that it is an apologetics event - wait, I thought ID was not religious?), he engages in the usual embellishment of his heros:

"The conference has invited speakers who received PhD’s from respectable secular institutions ( 2 from Oxford, 1 for U Penn, 1 from U of Chicago, etc.). They are 22 highly regarded scholars in their field."

GilDodgen, a creationist engineer, comments:

"Paul Nelson is a cool and brilliant guy."

Of several of the other event speakers, he writes:

"He is a first-rate intellect and apologist...
He is brilliant and and insightful...
This is an all-star cast...."

And Cordova's post was only made yesterday - I am sure as the days go on, the adoration and hero-worhsip will only get worse.

The ID movement is stagnant. It has evolved from a reliopolitical movement into a parody of itself. Is has had to resort to hiring a public relations firm (the same one that handled the whole "Swiftboat Veterans..." propaganda campaign - what a coincidence, eh?) to help get its 'message' out, it has resorted to churning out 'attack' books published by right-wing propaganda outlet Regnery with titles such as "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwin and Intelligent Design" by failed scientist-wannabe Jon Wells, filled with errors and disinformation, and similarly titled books by the likes of right-wing 'journalist' Tom Bethell.

Where is the science? Where is their evidence? The fact they have to resort to public relations campaigns and disinformation, propaganda books should inform most rational people that they are floundering, and most folks that follow the 'debate' know that this is the case.
The problem lies with the average citizen, who does not understand the scientific issues, who is inclined to accept the pablum spewn by ID movement folks (because it plays to their religious motivations), and who will eagerly take what these folks claim at their word because they are 'good Christian folk.' And this is a big problem - so many of those people do simply trust that what they are told is absolutley true because the person telling them something is a 'Christian.' But he 'Christian' folks associated with the Intelligent Design movement and creationism are no so much wed to teling the truth as they are to spreading their Faith.

I give one classic example of this. It deals specifically with a young earth creationist, but such folks fill the ranks of the ID movement as well.

Steve Austin is a PhD. holding geologist. He also happens to be a young earth creationist who works for the Institute for Creation Research. He gives tours/lectures at their creation 'museum', and among the things he talks about is his "conversion" to YECism. As he tells it, he used to be an old-earth evolutionist (perhaps even an atheist). He then claims that he studied at Mt.St.Helens after the 1980 eruption, and the things he saw there convinced him that the earth could be young, and then he somehow made the great intellwectual leap from old-earth evolutionist to young earth creationist, claiming that it was the 'science' and his research that lead him to YECism. Hallelujah! Not so fast...
As it turns out, he had been writing YEC articles as a college student for as many as 4 years prior to the eruption at Mt.St.Helens under a pseudonym (Stuart Nevins).

When this is pointed out to creationists, they simply dismiss it. Apparently, the 'story' is more important than than the fact that they were lied to (a sad truism for many with a right-wing inclination*).

This is not an entirely uncommon theme in both creationist and ID writings.

We return to our hero, YEC ID cheerleader and hero-worshipper, Salvador Cordova. A few years ago, he was interviewed by a writer from the science journal Nature. The gist of the story was how the ID movement is basically creationism in disguise and its adherents are politically and religiously motived, not scientiifcally so. And the interview made it quite clear that Cordova wazs in it for religious, not scientific reasons.
Nevertheless, Cordova went on a spam-fest, posting a blurb about how ID proponant Salvador Cordova was in the prestigious journal Nature. He did not mention that his motivations were exposed and ID was shown to be a religio-political movement, oh no - those little facts were not mentione din his posts on multiple discussdion boards, newsgroups and blogs. And the hoped-for effect was apparent - pro-ID folks hailed it as a great victory, without bothering to read the actual interview. when the true outome fo the interview was explained, the pro-ID folks called it sour grapes and ignored the facts.

And this is the state of American discourse.


Allison Morgan said...

It's "The Politically Incorrect Guide to DARWIN and Intelligent Design" by Dr. Jonathan Wells.

FCSuper said...

his reminds me of an article I read while I was in Seattle about this this group of nutsos.

Doppelganger said...

Thank you so much, Allison.

Fcsuper - thansk for the commetn - nice blog, also.


simonxhayes said...

Intelligent Design is a concept that is under consideration by a lot of intelligent people.

There is some great research being done by leading some scientists.

e.g. Lynne McTaggart, Icons of the field interviews with:
Konstantin Korotkov, Pim van Lommel, Karl Pribram, Hal Puthoff, Gary Schwartz, William Tiller

A lot of money and research has also been spent on Remote Viewing.
How do you think that stuff works?

Doppelganger said...

"Leading scientists", eh?

Isn't it funny how everyone associated with the cult of ID is somehow a 'leading' or 'world renowned' scientist?

Did you not just read my article?

Of course, what you refer has nothing to do with 'Intelligent Design', and what you wrote smacks of spam.

simonxhayes said...

An example of the relevance to ID is Remote Viewing. The information received has to come from some other form of intelligence as I believe, do we ourselves.
Hal Putoff for instance is a well known physicist who researches Zero Point Energy and Headed the CIA funded research into Remote Viewing Project at Stanford Research Institute.

It's a discussion. Just because I don't necessarily agree with you doesn't make me a spammer.


Doppelganger said...

Remote viewing has nothing to do with the Intelligent Design movement.

Anonymous said...

ID is a religious movement?

You sound like that's a big revelation?

Here's another revelation for you:
Evolution is an atheist movement.

Now can you put on your surprise look again?

Bunch of monkies.

Doppelganger said...

Incredibly wise and insigthful comment,

No wait - actually, it was fairly uninformed.

Doppelganger said...

I am the voice of those who seek intellectual honesty protecting our children from those who have a radical hatred towards God and anything that represents him.

That is funny, funny stuff, WMI.

Are you one of those irony-based comedians or something?

Looney said...

Just a reminder for you: Engineers are paid to do Intelligent Design, and scientists (who are paid considerably less) generally don't do intelligent design and they definitely aren't trained on ID or how it works. It should be no surprise that they look down on the field.

Doppelganger said...

Hi looney,

Interesting comment. I see a conflation of a generic 'intelligent design' as in anything a human (engineer) does with the 'Intelligent Design' of the ID movement as in 'biological structure X is so complex it musta been Designed by some super Intelligence (named God)'.
It is true that many in the ID movement promote such a conflation, for it serves as the basis for an elaborate (and illogical) argument via analogy, which the ID movement requires as it has no actual evidence for its position.
Engineers, by the way, generally are not trained in the biological sciences and thus are no more 'expert' in biology (or evolution-relaterd sciences, such as geology) than they are in history. It should be no surprise then that actual educated and trained biologists/scientists look down on creationist engineers with no requisite or relevant training who nonetheless think themselves expert enough to render proclamations on all matters scientific.

It is a matter of ignorance-based arrogance, not profession-envy.

bigdumbchimp said...

FYI, WMI is a known troll who uses typical troll tools of making up his own language and creating his own definitions of words in order to prop up his weak arguments (not to mention that he suffers from the typical creationist issue of repeating oft debunked canards).

Looney said...

Thanks Doppelganger. My statement is that ID is the foundation of all of high-tech and thus not some personality cult phenomenon. In fact, your arguments against ID are all ID based! To get a Ph.D. in biology, you have presumably done some ID regarding a thesis. Now if your ID related theories can't account for what IS, then there is no point in using them to derive conclusions about what ID can't explain.

Doppelganger said...

Oh, please.

This whole nonsense about how ID is everywhere and everything is pathetic.

The fact of the matter is, the ID movement, i.e., the 'God is the Inteligent Designer' ala Dembski, Behe, Johnson, the Discovery Institute, etc., is a cult of personality as it has no evidence in its support.

I can assure you that ID played no role in my graduate work. Unlike your silly extrapolation from your textbook, 'Darwinism' was the foundation for my hypotheses, and the major tenets in the algorithms I employed to analyse my data.

fbrideau said...

I would like to throw my two cents into the debate. I have recently published a book called Intelligent Design of Personality. In Intelligent Design of Personality I make, I believe, a strong and definitive case that Personality development is more a science then an art form.

In particular, as referenced against the characteristics of science accepted in U.S. law from the 1982 court decision, McLean vs Arkansas Board of Education, my theory of personality development justifies itself on all accounts.

The essential characteristics of science are:

1) It is guided by [physical or biological] law;

2) It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;

3) It is testable against the empirical world;

4) Its conclusions are tentative, are not necessarily the final word; and

5) It is falsifiable[or, more accurately, makes predictions that can be tested by observation],

My new personality development theory, Intelligent Design of Personality, first of all, uses Natural Law, those “unchanging moral principles common to all human beings” Oxford Dictionary, 1998, as it’s foundation. In the second instance, I use many natural biological processes such as homeostasis, reflexes, imprinting and the Pleasure Selection Principle; that an organism has the tendancy to repeat any activity frim which it derives pleasure, all governed by Natural Law, to explain how organized, orderly and explicit the biological processes are at arriving at their universal objective, the production of a moral human being. Thirdly, I reveal, with many examples, how testable, predictable and definitive the theory is against the real or empirical world. In the final analysis, it is readily accepted that the theory is tentative, i.e., that it will be improved upon in the future and that it is falsifiable not only by observation but would stand the scrutiny of the laboratory on all accounts. In essence, the proof of man's native morality is the real and present existence of Natural Law.

I believe the proponents of both evolution and creation will find the text very informative, uplifting and restorative of faith in human nature and human dignity. The two sides, I submit are one continuous string, evolution does its thing slowly of fast depending on the circumstances. In the meantime, the intelligent design of personality,compliments of Mother Nature, force morality on every individual that has the opportunity to develop a naturalized personality. Naturalized personalities all speak the same language, the same realistic thoughts, integrated with the same integrated feelings, producing the same moral behaviour driven by Natural Law, OXFORD Dictionary, 1998. An atheist has the natural ability to be as moral as any religious person if raised in a natural family environment. In fact, the best traditions of positive religions, cultures and plilosophies come from the warm embers of a naturalized human heart.
You will be able to read more about my book at my website [] or soon on Google Book Partners.

Frank Brideau