Barbara Forrest
Posted: 21 February 2007 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It seems that Barbara Forrest is arguing (around minute 7:00) that if you don’t agree with the current scientific explanation for something, you will be scientifically illiterate.  Her presentation seems to disregard the idea that someone could research and study an issue and then come to a conclusion that differs from the concensus view.  Apparently, if you don’t accept the view that she holds as "true" you run the risk of being labeled scientifically illiterate.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 04:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome to the forum, equinox.

With all due respect, that isn’t what Barbara Forrest was claiming. What she was saying around 7:00 was that it was harmful for children to be taught something known to be scientifically false in a science class. Since intelligent design isn’t a scientific theory (and since there isn’t any scientific “controversy” about evolution), it is harmful to a child’s education to misinform him or her about that fact.

That said, yes, there are things that are believed true in a scientific context. E.g., that all living things on earth evolved by Darwinian processes of natural selection; that the earth is round and revolves around the sun; that gravity varies with the square of the distance; etc.

Not knowing these is to be scientifically illiterate, almost by definition.

The US has an enormous problem with scientific literacy. We are one of the least scientifically literate nations, and arguably the least literate of the first-world nations.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yeah, I can’t disagree that she makes her comments in the context of teaching children, however, I get the impression based on her level of certainty that “there are no alternative views (6:44) to the theory of evolution” that she would have issues with teaching alternative views to anyone at all.

And how can we disagree with ‘the theory of evolution’?  I think most people (christian or humanist or other beleiver) don’t disagree with micorevolution.  I believe the issue revovles around that other kind of evolution that gets lumped in with micro-evolution.  And yes, I am aware of Pigliucci’s article in the latest issue of Skeptical Inquiry (I think) regarding micro/macro evolution. 

I’m not disagreeing with any kind of evolution at the moment.  I am disagreeing with Forrest’s level of certainty.  Since she didn’t break it down and only stayed in the arena of evolution, I can’t really disagree with her.  I certainly don’t want to put words in her mouth. 

Having said that, I was under the impression that the kind (or mechanism) of evolution that we talk about concerning human origins is up for debate.  Given Gould’s Punctuated Equilibrium which has gone out of fashion or other scientists who don’t agree with darwinian natural selection, how can we say there are not alternatives?  But she only said that there weren’t alternatives to evolution…once again, how can I disagree with that statement?

I believe that christians, humanists, other believers believe in the concept, law, theory of gravity; and the science that makes their computers work; and the science that brings them good medicine; and the science that launches rockets; and the science that informs us that the earth is round (interesting though that most of the present day flat-earthers are atheists); and the science that says two dogs breeding is evolution.  Few people no matter what their religious or not-so-religious background agree on the science behind all of these things. 

The disagreements seem to begin when the ideas that go beyond science get promoted as science or in the name of science.  I don’t disagree with abduction in this case, but let’s lower the certainty level.

I am not promoting ID or any of that, I just wish Forrest would lower her certainty level when making pronouncements about what is science or what is not.  Of course I am extrapolating from her comments because that is the only alternative.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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[quote author=“equinox”]Having said that, I was under the impression that the kind (or mechanism) of evolution that we talk about concerning human origins is up for debate.  Given Gould’s Punctuated Equilibrium which has gone out of fashion or other scientists who don’t agree with darwinian natural selection, how can we say there are not alternatives?  But she only said that there weren’t alternatives to evolution…once again, how can I disagree with that statement?

This is not correct, equinox. Gould’s notion of punctuated equlibrium is not at odds in any sense whatever with Darwinian natural selection. It is a simple refinement of the theory, which says that evolution tends to occur in large jumps rather than as a slow steady process.

And while people do debate the percentages, many, perhaps most, evolutionary biologists accept that punctuated equilibrium can and does happen.

What is the picture in punctuated equilibrium? That a member of a small offshoot group of animals (say, rodents) has an advantageous mutation, while they are isolated on an island or in a remote valley. The mutation is advantageous so quickly rises to near universality in the small group. Then the small group rejoins the larger group of rodents OUTSIDE of the island or valley, and since they all have this advantageous mutation, they outcompete the other rodents, and replace them within a very short number of generations.

Since the fossil record is very rough, it cannot distinguish between events, say, less than several tens of thousands of years apart. This replacement might occur in substantially less than ten thousand years, so it would appear from the fossil record as if it had happened instantaneously. But of course it didn’t really happen instantaneously.

BTW, Darwin actually recognized this possibility, IIRC, in his Origin of Species.

The other so-called “problems” with Darwinian evolution are of precisely this kind. I.e. they are not problems with Darwinian evolution by natural selection, but rather various refinements of it.

[quote author=“equinox”]I believe that christians, humanists, other believers believe in the concept, law, theory of gravity; and the science that makes their computers work; and the science that brings them good medicine; and the science that launches rockets; and the science that informs us that the earth is round (interesting though that most of the present day flat-earthers are atheists); and the science that says two dogs breeding is evolution.  Few people no matter what their religious or not-so-religious background agree on the science behind all of these things. 

THIS site seems to claim that most flat-earthers are Biblical literalists, which makes some sense since the Bible does in fact claim that the earth is flat. (E.g., Daniel 2:35, 4:11, Revelations 7:1, etc.)

I don’t know what you mean about “two dogs breeding is evolution”; you are of course right that few people “agree on the science behind these things”, but that’s mostly because the vast majority of people are scientifically illiterate, as we established before.

[quote author=“equinox”]The disagreements seem to begin when the ideas that go beyond science get promoted as science or in the name of science.  I don’t disagree with abduction in this case, but let’s lower the certainty level.

I am not promoting ID or any of that, I just wish Forrest would lower her certainty level when making pronouncements about what is science or what is not.  Of course I am extrapolating from her comments because that is the only alternative.

Well, you’ll have to provide us with some examples of “ideas that go beyond science getting promoted as science”, because all the cases you’ve discussed so far (and all those discussed in the podcast) clearly don’t go beyond science.

Funny avatar, BTW!

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Posted: 21 February 2007 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I meant to say few…disagree…that is: I believe that christians, humanists, other believers believe in the concept, law, theory of gravity; and the science that makes their computers work; and the science that brings them good medicine; and the science that launches rockets; and the science that informs us that the earth is round (interesting though that most of the present day flat-earthers are atheists); and the science that says two dogs breeding is evolution. Few people no matter what their religious or not-so-religious background disagree on the science behind all of these things.

Yeah about the dogs, I was trying to provide an example of evolution that most agree on…two different kinds of dogs breeding.  While I don’t claim to be know much about breeding, I was under the impression this was a good example of evolution.  I realize there exists selection from breeders for animlas/plants (artificial selection?) and natural selection.  Is the dog example not a good example of evolution?

Weird, according to The infidel guy podcast on Flat-earthers dated 12/16/2006 (around minute 6:00) most folks from the Flat-Earth society forum are atheists.

I personally don’t know any christians or anyone really that is a flat-earther. 

I agree, I may need to provide us with some examples of “ideas that go beyond science getting promoted as science”.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“equinox”]Yeah about the dogs, I was trying to provide an example of evolution that most agree on…two different kinds of dogs breeding.  While I don’t claim to be know much about breeding, I was under the impression this was a good example of evolution.  I realize there exists selection from breeders for animlas/plants (artificial selection?) and natural selection.  Is the dog example not a good example of evolution?

Well ... normal breeding need not involve any sort of evolutionary change. I mean, I suppose any reproduction is “evolution” in some narrow sense, but usually when people talk about animals “evolving” they mean that they are changing their genotype due to selection processes.

That can, of course, happen by either natural or artificial selection.

If the dog breeder is trying to change the phenotype of his puppies by doing selective breeding, then it would be evolution by artificial selection. But a breeder needn’t be trying to change anything ... usually they are just trying to keep the purebreeds “pure”.

(“Purity of breed”, BTW, is an idea that makes absolutely no scientific or evolutionary sense ... certainly not in any sort of normative way).

[quote author=“equinox”]Weird, according to The infidel guy podcast on Flat-earthers dated 12/16/2006 (around minute 6:00) most folks from the Flat-Earth society forum are atheists.

No idea ...

[quote author=“equinox”]I personally don’t know any christians or anyone really that is a flat-earther. 

Nor do I.

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Posted: 21 February 2007 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Alright…thanks for the dialogue and thanks for the knowledge.  I’ll read-up on my evolution for when we meet again.  lol..

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Posted: 03 March 2007 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Loved the interview

I was impressed with Barbara Forrest when I read about her role in the Dover case.  And I loved listening to her clear, forthright defense of evolution and teaching children the facts. 


I also was impressed with her analysis of how creationists, both young Earth and old, are now framing their argument—teaching the controversy (as if one exists) instead of defending ID-or even doing ID science (tongue in cheek as I write this!).

So, thanks, Barbara and thanks, DJ!

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