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    Creationism Wins Votes - For Both Parties
    By Hank Campbell | August 26th 2011 01:08 PM | 210 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

    View Hank's Profile
    'Creationism' is a confusing term.  In science, militant atheists will intentionally call all religious people 'creationists' and then complain creationists are anti-science, even about the religious people who are not anti-science at all.   'Young Earth' creationists think we were created in whole form 6,000 or so years ago and believe paleontology and biology are some test of faith but commingling the terms is intellectually dishonest.   Politics makes even otherwise smart scientists do bad things.

    It's the same scam progressive militants pulled regarding 'stem cell research'.   No Republican had objected to 40 years of 'stem cell research' but when Bush restricted federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research to existing lines, Republicans were supposedly 'against stem cell research'.  Generally, when a scientist uses a political term, you need to be extra-skeptical about how they are framing their data.   With political pundits we already do that.

    I don't actually know any young Earth creationists or anti-science religious people, though I know a lot of religious people.  I know anti-science religious people are out there, it may just be the circles I run in(1).  I can go to Seattle and find more anti-science, anti-religious people (25% of kids in one Seattle school have parents who refuse to get them vaccines) than I can find anti-science religious people in Mobile.

    Apparently a lot of anti-science people are out there - if you frame the question the right way.  But they are Democrats too.   A recent Fox News article highlighted some comments by Texas Governor Rick Perry where he said evolution has 'some gaps in it' - a technically true statement but we all know what he was getting at; religion was the secret sauce and the science was invented to try and have an alternative view.  Gallup figures in that same article noted only 8% of Republicans believe evolution was solely science - no God at any point, i.e., atheists.  But only 16% of people overall believe that, which means a whole boatload of Democrats believe it too.

    Now, I have no problem at all with belief.  Evolution tells us how we got where we are today but no credible biologist says he or she can yet tell us about the spark of life, its origin.   If you think you can find that answer, an entrepreneur wants to fund your research and will give you a cool $2 million to do so.   That's right, you can be free of pesky government rules and just answer the question once and for all.

    But I am betting President Obama is not going into the Bible Belt and proclaiming his atheism and saying science rules and religion is bunk - that's what Gallup poll editor-in-chief Frank Newport wants to establish as the standard for not being anti-science...for a Republican, anyway.   Progressives who have never voted for anyone but a Democrat will rationalize that and claim Obama is secretly an atheist.  Here is Bill Maher with that intellectual placebo:



    Republicans are under criticism from some in science because they take the middle road - GOP contender Jon Huntsman tweeted, in response to Perry's evolution statement, “To be clear I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy”.

    I look forward to calls from the science community to withhold votes from Democrats who do not also proclaim their atheism.

    NOTE:

    (1) Most famous demonstrated by New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, who said, after Nixon's 1972 landslide victory in the presidential election, "I don't know how Nixon won. No one I know voted for him."

    Comments

    "Gallup figures in that same article noted only 8% of Republicans believe evolution was solely science - no God at any point, i.e., atheists."

    I don't understand your dichotomy of "science" and "God" here. I think a more accurate choice of words would be "intelligence" and "non-intelligent forces".

    Overall, though, this is one of the more reasonable "news" articles I've seen on the subject. Most are of the militant atheist variety, where anyone who disagrees with, essentially, atheism is a dumb-witted, science-killing moron and the reason the U.S. sucks in science education. Apparently I am a science-killer because I completely doubt the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to create the majority of what we observe in biology, but it seems contradictory to my perfect score on the ACT Science section and my Masters in Mechanical Engineering ...

    Hank
    Perhaps my sentence was poorly worded.  The way their question was written, 8% stated just science explained the origin of life - that to me sounds like atheism but they didn't drill down further.  God v No God is a dichotomy, is it not?   This was a small segment but the results were clearly framed to make it seem like Republicans were anti-science if they did not accept evolution 'created' life.   No scientist can say how life came into existence and anyone claiming that is engaging in faith.  I noted, in the interests of fairness, that a whole bunch of Democrats believe the same things and not a single candidate will stand up in public and denounce religion.

    You don't like evolution, fair enough, there is no ASME book for how we got to where we are, but the science evidence has been well established that we are not the same today as we were a 2 million years ago.  We evolved.  On a site like Science 2.0, logical fallacies invoking degrees and test scores will not get you very far. 
    Just because I like to be picky, I think you are engaging in a logical fallacy. You are taking the definition of the word evolve (we are not the same as we were 2 million years ago) and using it as proof of the theory of evolution, which attempts to explain how we got to this stage in our development. Those are not the same thing. To put it another way, it is one thing to say that species evolve over time and that natural selection plays a role in the outcome. It is another thing to say that explains how humans evolved rom single cell organisms. Not only does one not come from the other, but it completely ignores concepts such as epigenomics which explains how the same organism can change through gene expression without any change in genetic structure.

    Hank
     You are taking the definition of the word evolve (we are not the same as we were 2 million years ago) and using it as proof of the theory of evolution, which attempts to explain how we got to this stage in our development. Those are not the same thing. 
    You don't understand the word 'evolution', it seems.  Is it culture that made the word colloquial but you claim that it has some outside definition scientists use as de facto proof - there is no common use of the word evolution before biology.  None.  It is only a common 'definition' now because it is so prevalent due to the science; at least to all but those people who put their sectarian views ahead of science.   It's fine by me, you can do what you want, but don't pretend it is rational.
    Gerhard Adam
    Apparently I am a science-killer because I completely doubt the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to create the majority of what we observe in biology...
    While I don't believe one has to embrace atheism, I find your comment to be disingenuous.  The truth is that you don't really understand evolution, but you make the statement that you doubt Darwin's mechanisms.  How would it seem if I suggested that Newton's mechanics was suspect because I didn't believe the physics was sound?

    This is especially relevant if I also point out that I don't have a background in physics.  Would that be acceptable to you?

    The point being that you aren't actually questioning the "holes" in natural selection.  Instead you're simply presuming that you have an alternative "guess" as to what does explain it.  In that respect your opinion is definitely anti-scientific, because you aren't questioning it from a scientific perspective.  This is no different from the people that want to argue that life can't have originated from inanimate chemicals, etc.  No matter how you phrase it, your choice is very simple.  Either life originated from inanimate chemicals based on the laws of physics and chemistry, or it was created by magic.  Your choice.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Very good analogy, one that a Master in Mech Eng should understand.

    I don't think you can necessarily equate an intelligent driving force to "magic."
    As a layman, it seems quite unscientific to me to discount the option of Intelligent Design.
    It's like saying, this thing can be black or it can be white, but I've predetermined it can't be white, so now I'll investigate. And guess what? It's Black.
    Now matter how much evidence there may be, or ever would be, you would not accept that evidence because it doesn't jive with your pre-determined outcome. Does that sound scientific to you?
    As for physics, the reason Newton's laws are indisputable is because we observe that every time we drop something, it falls to the ground. Not only do we not observe evolution in nature, (adaptation and evolution are two different things) the things that we do know, i.e. there is no spontaneous generation,the 2nd law of thermodynamics, seem to contradict the theory. Didn't Darwin himself say we should find myriad transitional species if his theory were true? This has not been the case.
    I see your need to believe there is no god, and fitting the facts to that belief, no different than a creatinist who ignores the facts to believe there is a God.

    You are correct on one point, people do tend to discount things that do not jive with their beliefs.

    The purpose of science is not to determine "who" is responsible for something but to determine methods for "why" something is happening. In science, a theory is a proposed explanation for something seen in nature. It's happening already. A scientific law is simply a definition. Intelligent Design does not describe any process, so it cannot be a scientific theory. Evolution, on the other hand, describes a process. It does not discount some outside interference for why creatures change over successive generations. And scientists have over 150 years of evidence to back it up. We do see many transitional creatures in the fossil record -- their discoveries simply do not make the evening news very often. Scientists see evolution at work all the time -- why can't you use penicillin anymore? Because the bacteria it targeted evolved to become resistant. That adaptation you would so readily dismiss is the heart of evolution.

    Gerhard Adam
    As a layman, it seems quite unscientific to me to discount the option of Intelligent Design.  It's like saying, this thing can be black or it can be white, but I've predetermined it can't be white, so now I'll investigate. And guess what? It's Black.
    Actually it's nothing of the sort.  The phrase "Intelligent Design" is a cop-out, because it suggests some nebulous description which actually describes nothing.  In reality, "intelligent design" is presumed to mean "engineered" and more specifically, a "designer".  Therefore the concept involves some entity that is credited with thinking up the entire process, engineering it, and then setting it on its course.

    At this point the problem should be obvious.  Where did this creative entity come from?  It isn't a black/white question, since that produces absolute results.  It's like arguing that life comes from life.  That explains nothing regarding origins.
    As for physics, the reason Newton's laws are indisputable is because we observe that every time we drop something, it falls to the ground.
    Sorry, but such simplistic pronouncements simply aren't true.  Objects do nothing of the sort in space, which is just as much subject to Newton's laws.
    Didn't Darwin himself say we should find myriad transitional species if his theory were true? This has not been the case.
    This is a bogus argument.  Since the concept of "species" is solely a human concoction whose sole purpose is to help in classifying animals, it can not be readily employed as "proof".  You may think, ahh, but Darwin titled his book "The Origin of Species", so that must be wrong.  The problem isn't in finding transitional species, it is in classifying what we expect that to be.

    There are no two animals within any species that are identical.  Within a species there will be variation, and it exists as a kind of genetic continuum within that grouping.  As individuals reproduce, slight changes are introduced, but with a large stable population, such changes tend to be muted.  As a result, we see a "clumping" together of genetic types into very similar groups that we call species.  When such groups become separated, then we see divergences that are consistent with the original animal, and yet selected for the environment in which they now exist.  Over time and separation, such divergence will tend to increase.

    Therefore, each animal in each species is a "transitional" species, since the entire realm of life, represents only one genetic "stopping point" for natural selection to operate on.  In addition, there is general confusion about the concept of "gradualism" as it is often described or understood.  Changes don't have to be infinitesimal, merely slow and gradual.

    Change of any type always introduces the potential for problems so would tend to be quickly selected out.  However, it would be wrong to suggest that changes are structurally incomplete because of "gradualism".  In other words, we don't have to have each finger on a hand, separately evolve, since the general structure of the hand is genetically encoded.  Errors might result in six or four fingers, but the basic structure of the hand is encoded (and conserved).

    So, it doesn't really matter whether there is a God or not.  What matters is that such an entity cannot be introduced to provide explanatory power, if you expect an idea to be considered scientific.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Mr. A,
    A Diety CAN be introduced to provide explanatory power; it is only unscientific if one does not embark to prove this postulate.

    Actually Newton has been shown to be wrong. Special theory of relativity stood newtonian physics on its head. String theory would take it further. The science was not wrong but its broad acceptance as an explanation for the whole of the physics of the natural world was. Evolution is a theory, a very sound one with exceptional evidence. It does have holes, likely to be filled in the future, but it has limits. Rewind it far enough and you run into a paradox.

    Not true. Relativity simply takes Newton's laws and applies them to a curved universe instead of a flat one. Newton's Laws are still safe and secure. Read a scientific text -- Stephen Hawking or Neil Tyson -- they'll explain it.

    Perhaps 'wrong' was too harsh a term. Newton's theory fell apart when trying to explain physics on the subatomic level. Einstein met with great resistance in trying to get his theory accepted. Eventually the evidence won and special theory of relativity was accepted. But the connection between the two theories is still controversial. My point was that something as established as gravity and Newtonian physics was still open for correction and re evaluation. The previous poster had suggested that questioning newton would make one seem less then intelligent.

    Gerhard Adam
    No, the "previous poster" created an analogy of someone  questioning Newton (with regard to mechanics) and then acknowledging that they had no background in Physics.  If you want to split hairs, the point remains, that Newton is still very much correct with respect to the observable world. 

    Acceptance of science isn't an issue of intelligence, however presenting absurd claims and theories may definitely compromise someone's credibility.  This is the distinction between someone scientifically exploring a disease, and someone else simply proclaiming that it is God's punishment on people.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Anonymous, did you ever take a class in Modern Physics. Newton's Laws are not safe and secure. The idea that Relativity only applies Newton's Laws to a curved universe is incorrect. Time dilation, and the energy equations for dealing with relativistic speeds to not match Newton's Laws. According to Newton it is possible for an object with mass to travel at the speed of light. According to Relativity this is impossible (division by zero error). Now to be credible any theory must match Newton's Laws under normal conditions because they are easily verifiable. But any real scientist or any truly educated in science knows that the most basic idea of science is that there are flaws in what we think we know. Before Einstein physics was considered a dead field because we basically understood the physical world completely. Einstein had concerns about Quantum physics you may recall he famous retort "God doesn't play dice with the universe." String theory, relativity, Newtonian physics, and quantum mechanics do not match up nice and neatly, there are conflicts and contradictions. If you have an all encompassing "General Theory" of physics that ties everything together, write it up for publication a Nobel Prize is waiting for you.

    "A Ribosome is an an organelle (an internal component of a biological cell) the function of which is to assemble the twenty specific amino acid molecules to form the particular protein molecule determined by the nucleotide sequence of an RNA molecule" (wiki)

    And yet the Ribosome itself is composed of some 25 proteins, many of which are are specified by amino acid chains that are many hundreds of amino acid molecules in length. Again, these chains are specified and aperiodic and not determined by any physicochemical interaction with the sugar phosphate backbone of the DNA molecule. So, where did the organelle that assembles proteins in the cell get its proteins from?

    Life has innumerable chicken-n-egg conundrums like the one described above. The universe itself is full of other imponderables as well. Why did the universe heat up like an easy bake oven, with perfect heat distribution? Why can interactions between various aspects of the nature world be described by elegant mathematics? Countless questions such as these would suggest a little humility from those who would judge others as ignorant.

    As to your specific point about the origination of life from inanimate objects, I would suggest that the choice is between inanimate chemicals operating from the laws of physics/chemistry and intelligence, not magic. Magic suggests alchemists trying to create gold from base metals, much like modern atheists insisting that life can form from swirling inanimate objects. You can put cogwheels and springs in a shoebox and shake it for all eternity. You're not getting a watch.

    Ciao -

    MikeCrow
    I would suggest that the choice is between inanimate chemicals operating from the laws of physics/chemistry and intelligence, not magic.

    Where does the intelligence come from to make the first intelligence?


    It has to happen a first time somewhere, I see no reason that couldn't have been a soup of chemicals in some pool of warm/hot water here.
    Never is a long time.
    Rewind the big bang back to the initial ball of matter. Where did that ball of matter come from? You can't get something from nothing. Either theory has an inexplicable starting point.

    Gerhard Adam
    Magic suggests alchemists trying to create gold from base metals, much like modern atheists insisting that life can form from swirling inanimate objects. You can put cogwheels and springs in a shoebox and shake it for all eternity. You're not getting a watch.
    No, magic says that you obtained something outside the normal "laws" of science.  The problem here is that you want to quibbler over the magician.  Saying "God did it", is no different than someone else saying we are the product of an alien experiment, or perhaps that it is simply a wish fulfilled by a genie. 

    None of those explanations explain anything.  They simply push the problem back to a point where the claimant can then say ... "Well see, we've solved the problem". 

    Your example of a watch is simply absurd, and is too tired and old to make an impression anymore. 
    Life has innumerable chicken-n-egg conundrums like the one described above.
    There are no such conundrums.  Even the "chicken-n-egg" question isn't a conundrum.  Please don't stoop to the trivial argument that if we don't possess ALL the answers, then none of the answers are correct.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Actually, what I'm saying is that some things may be beyond the capacity of stochastic processes to create. This is, in fact, the interesting question at hand.

    Perhaps you can sketch out the process by which the ribosome came to exist. A very simple thumbnail sketch should suffice. I'm not evening looking for a scientific explanation, just a theoretical one. Remember, the ribosome assembles amino acid sequences into proteins yet is itself comprised of 25 interacting proteins.

    While your at it, I'm sure everyone reading this will be interested in knowing how you came to believe the chicken-n-egg conundrum is an illusion. Do you possess SOME of the answers to suggest a conundrum doesn't exist? Would you enlighten us?

    Gerhard Adam
    I'm sure everyone reading this will be interested in knowing how you came to believe the chicken-n-egg conundrum is an illusion.
    Of course it's an illusion, since a chicken is a KNOWN entity, while the egg is still unknown with respect to what will hatch.  Therefore the chicken must either exist already (which is simply redundant), or it's first existence will occur when the egg hatches.  Therefore, before there were chickens there had to be ONE egg that gave rise to chickens (i.e. the question makes no sense if chickens are laying the eggs).
    Perhaps you can sketch out the process by which the ribosome came to exist. A very simple thumbnail sketch should suffice. I'm not evening looking for a scientific explanation, just a theoretical one.
    Sorry, but I'm not taking the bait on this one.  As I said before, your choice is simple.  There is either a scientific explanation or you can invoke magic.  ... and please don't lie.  You most definitely are looking for a scientific explanation, so that whatever speculative version I give, you'll then argue about how it can't possibly work.  I don't have the time to waste on such activities.

    If you're really interested then you'll search for recent experiments that show what kind of progress has been made.  However, even there, let's be clear that any experiment that demonstrates some result is NOT an indication that a particular mechanism for life's origin has been discovered.  It merely illustrates that a plausible scenario exists.


    Mundus vult decipi
    To be absorbed slowly, (but careful if you're drinking fluids, lest they exit your nasal passage under pressure):

    [courtesy of Gerhard Adam]
    Of course it's an illusion, since a chicken is a KNOWN entity, while the egg is still unknown with respect to what will hatch. Therefore the chicken must either exist already (which is simply redundant), or it's first existence will occur when the egg hatches. Therefore, before there were chickens there had to be ONE egg that gave rise to chickens (i.e. the question makes no sense if chickens are laying the eggs).

    So you're suggesting a rooster and hen didn't precede the FIRST egg. Okay, but doesn't that suggest the sort of saltation event that gave the Hulk and Spiderman their powers? Seriously, if you can cite any literature on this you'd doing the entire community reading this blog a great turn. (Move along folks, no magic here.)

    As far as not wanting to take on the the ribosome, I can hardly blame you. But you should give me the benefit of the doubt when I say I'm merely looking for a theoretical sketch. Come on GA, you're obviously a smart enough guy to condescend to those you communicate with. Don't chicken out! (Or is it egg out?)

    There's a difference between unscientific and anti-scientific explanations about the origin of life.
    Saying current science doesn't have a mechanism to explain the origins of life is not anti-science. Since scientists don't know what exactly happened when life began (i.e., there's no known biological mechanism to explain it), some prefer an unscientific explanation (God did it) without proposing a mechanism. So, they explain 'why' life arose, without bothering with any remotely scientific explanation of 'how': unscientific, but not anti-scientific, because it's simply addressing a question beyond the scope of science while suspending scientific judgment.
    Appealing to "the laws of physics and chemistry" in this case isn't really a scientific explanation; it's hoping that a scientific explanation will be found.

    That said, believing in a physical process that science could not under any circumstances evaluate, is anti-science (i.e., miracles that can't in any way be explained by science). Any physical event has a physical explanation, and science just looks at the physical side of things. If scientists were there at the origins of life with the right equipment, they could adequately describe the scientific mechanism(s) that created life. (Ditto for the mechanism(s) of punctuated equilibrium.) However, scientists weren't there, and we don't know. Maybe we will. But one can believe the 'why' while suspending judgment on the 'how'. That's beyond science, but it's not anti-scientific, just unscientific.

    Mr. A,
    If , by magic, you mean 'something other than what we currently know and understand fully about our universe", then you can still call yourself a scientist. And, with this clarification, your 'either/or' argument is null because the former does not exclude the latter.

    Gerhard Adam
    No, I mean magic in exactly the way you're using it.  Something that exists outside of nature, operates according to its own desires (being subject to no constraints), and requiring no explanation. 

    You can't back-pedal now and simply claim that you're only referring to unexplained scientific phenomenon.

    When someone suggests a process for which they can offer no explanation and for which no scientific principles can explain it (now or ever) .... it's magic.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I hate to pick at details but by your defintion of 'magic', all of existence is 'magic'. The big bang is easily the most credible explanation for everything that exists in the universe. However, we do not know what created it or caused it and there will not be any scientific exploration of those earliest fractions of a second of existence because we can not know anything about it. All the evidence was literally burned up. What we know only starts within the first fractions of a second when things cooled down. Before that scientist agree, we can know nothing.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...all of existence is 'magic'...
    How convenient.  If everything is magic, then nothing is magic, so we can claim it to do anything we like.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't think you are fully understanding the general theme of my posts. You seem to be someone who, judging by your posts, sees things in absolutes. This brand of thinking, even in defense of science, inevitably will back you into a corner from which you can not escape. Religion has the same fatal flaw and is widely derided for it. In the previous post I simply followed your logic and definitions into the corner, the convience is one of your own making. A careful reading of my post would reveal that I was not refering to all of existence and everything that follows but of the causative agent of the big bang being, by your absolutionist definition, magic. Understanding the limitations of our mind and our thought process and therefore keeping an open mind will open more doors.

    You're right to question the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to create the majority of what we observe in biology, and to do so contradicts neither your perfect score on the ACT Science section nor your Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Evolution is after all only a theory, much the same as gravity.

    However, your comparison of the dichotomy of "science" and "God" to "intelligent" vs. "non-intelligent" speaks volumes about the pompous ignorance that obviously clouds your existence, according to my not-as-perfect-as-yours score on the ACT Science section, my Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering, and my pending Master's in Actuarial Science.

    Don't get too caught up in degrees, Louis. In today's day and age, they're nothing more than pieces of paper that have the ability to open doors and provide you with the opportunity to actually do something with your life. But be careful: if higher education continues to slide the way it has for the past ten years, they won't even be able to do that, and all the money you (and I) spent on them will still be lining other peoples' pockets.

    Franc Hoggle
    All of this is really an US-centric series of issues - the rest of the civilised planet, and even most Islamic theocracies, don't have any of these problems (though marked with a big yet). Seriously, how much of this is due to the fact that the US political system has come to be dominated entirely by lawyers, economists and business managers (ie. no one that has any grounding in how reality functions). I read an excellent article on this notion a while back and google is not cooperating in coughing it up again, but it compared the US political system versus those in Japan and Germany where scientists, engineers, even philosphers, have significant representation in government. These issues simply never arise. Have any thoughts to offer in regard to that?

    Edit: I see Sascha Vongehr partially addressed this a few days ago.
    Hank
    I've written on it too many times to count - in those other countries, scientists are in multiple parties, they are diverse politically.   When you are in the bag for one party, the party who owns your vote takes you for granted and the other side does not try.   GW Bush doubled NIH funding but was still painted as anti-science.  Clinton killed science funding but is regarded as pro-science.  The difference is Bush is Republican.

    Academia got a lot more diverse demographically in the last 40 years but political diversity disappeared, without question 80% progressive and some segments surveyed are 999 out of 1,000 progressive.  There is no way to be a political force when the group is one-sided and guaranteed to vote one way regardless.

    23 years ago, Ronald Reagan gave a fantastic ode to basic research - as an older guy around before science became just government, he loved it - he was a conservative arguing for a bigger role, he wanted to spend more money and the Democrat Congress was balking because science had no constituency.   Yet if you ask science academia today about Reagan, they hate him because he was not a Democrat.
    Franc Hoggle
    OK, I guess I may have muddled my point. Yes you may have addressed diversity in non-US political systems. But I was pointing out that this lack of diversity within the US - where it is all
    lawyers, economists and business people that hold office at all tiers of government - is the actual root cause of the conflict to begin with. These are all people that view everything in terms of black/white, winners/losers, us/them (or "the competition"). Lawyers only come in two flavours - defense and prosecution. There is no "compromise". Thus the natural state is one of clear dichotomy and the only game in town is wedge politicking. Lines get carved into the ground and there is never a middle ground. This has been the situation for probably 50 years now, and this is unlikely to ever change unless you kick these kinds of folks out of office and keep them out.
    Hank
    Not sure how to fix that.  We made it too expensive for anyone without that mentality to run for office and anyone who does run for office is automatically considered a liar by 50% of the public. 

    We tried campaign finance reform but all Sen. Obama had to do was change his mind at the last minute and he could raise and spend more money than Bush and Kerry combined in 2004 and twice as much as McCain had; because McCain was the co-sponsor of campaign reform so couldn't very well not be limited to public funding.  No one will ever limit themselves to public financing again unless we make it mandatory and why would they?  Money can't buy elections but stats show it makes a difference and 2008 proved it.

    I agree about the 50 years - once one party got the majority in Congress, and was able to keep it for 40 years, they started jamming in anything they wanted.  People elected Republican presidents but that did only sporadic good and only on issues like taxes, not on spending.  However, when a Republican Congress got elected and a Democratic president - the opposite of the norm in the 20th century - we had a budget surplus for the first time in decades, which quickly disappeared the first time Republicans got control of both.
    "Lawyers only come in two flavours - defense and prosecution." Wow. You may be a scientist but you know nothing about lawyers and what they do. Take a look at this web page - how many lawyers do you think are behind the all the contracts that go into making a page like this (the CAPTCHA idea and deal alone is probably more than 20, including patent and trademark lawyers, tax lawyers, business compliance lawyers, dealmaking transactional lawyers, business formation lawyers, etc., none of whom are remotely "defense and prosecution" or have ever even seen the inside of a courtroom). It only goes to show that everybody's grossly ignorant about something sometime.

    Politics (like a legal dispute) always involves a "dichotomy" If there were no pronounced dichotomy of views on an issue, the issue wouldn't be "political." Lawyers, scientists, everybody is subject to this definition. The idea that, unlike those scumbag lawyers, scientists always agree with each other on social issues is contrary to the observable facts (science) a/k/a the evidence (law).

    The answer to your question isn't exactly rocket science. The best scientists in America are either academics or megacorporate employees, neither of which is trusted much by the voting populace to keep the general welfare in mind(with good reason, IMHO). Everybody's got an angle, even scientists. Just follow the money.

    "I read an excellent article on this notion a while back and google is not cooperating in coughing it up again, but it compared the US political system versus those in Japan and Germany where scientists, engineers, even philosphers, have significant representation in government. These issues simply never arise. Have any thoughts to offer in regard to that?"

    Well yes I do actually. Your point seems to be that in the US scientific issues are debated but in other countries everyone agrees with each other? Reminds me of the "elections" held in many countries where those in power amazingly get 98.6 percent of the vote. Much better than the silly old USA where election winners struggle to get 51 percent.

    Science is science, and faith is faith. Scientific method is rather useless in finding God. Turning a particular scientific theory into The Creed of True and Almighty Brotherhood of Scientists is ridiculous regardless of party affiliations.

    Saying "I believe in evolution" does not make one a scientist, nor a science-friendly individual for that matter. It makes him or her a neo-pagan nature worshipper (I mean this as a factual statement, not as a perjorative label). Monk Gregor Mendel or a deeply religious layman Ivan Pavlov, on the other hand, were true scientists.

    Amen!

    Gerhard Adam
    It makes him or her a neo-pagan nature worshipper (I mean this as a factual statement, not as a perjorative label).
    No, it simply makes you biased, and it's showing.  You're also not being truthful since you specifically did intend it to be perjorative, since you proceed in labeling those with religious beliefs as "true scientists".  Such a short-sighted view is based on the assumption that everyone must hold some manner of religious belief, so if it doesn't match yours, then it must be some sort of pagan belief, etc.  You have no business assigning a default religious belief on anyone, regardless of your own bias.
    Turning a particular scientific theory into The Creed of True and Almighty Brotherhood of Scientists is ridiculous regardless of party affiliations.
    What does that even mean?  The only people that would take such a view are those that must view everything through the prism of "belief".  That certainly isn't a scientific position.
    Saying "I believe in evolution" does not make one a scientist, nor a science-friendly individual for that matter.
    Why would you even make such a claim.  In the first place "belief" has no place in such a statement.  In the second, an individual that accepted evolution is certainly more scientific than one that requires some magical intervention.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am not biased against any faith in particular, and do not consider nature worship to be inferior to any other kind of worship. What works for one person does not work for another, and we should all somehow learn to get along. As a matter of fact, my own marriage ceremony was performed by a Shinto priest. Shinto, of course, is a nature-worshipping pagan religion with a very interesting theosophy. So, please do not let your monoteism-centered prejudice cloud your judgement.

    I never argued that people with religious beliefs are by default true scientists. I just provided an example of religious people who, I guess, might have believed in Creation, but nevertheless made great contributions to science. It is hard to imagine a devout Christian becoming a prominent evolutionary biologist, but (s)he can excel in some other brunch of biology. Did Mendel's background of being an Augustinian friar make Mendelian Laws of Inheritance poor science? Was he unscientific? Were his experiments poorly designed and improperly interpreted?

    Science is about questioning things, not about believing in them. Once upon a time, Phlogiston Theory was also generally accepted. Good thing that Antoine Lavoisier did not believe in it . . .

    Gerhard Adam
    You're changing your argument.  You're the one that claimed they occupied some default belief system.
    It makes him or her a neo-pagan nature worshipper...
    Your particular attitude doesn't matter, but it is presumptuous to make such an assignment since it creates a false dichotomy between belief systems.
    I never argued that people with religious beliefs are by default true scientists.
    Then perhaps you shouldn't have phrased your statement in that fashion.  It also doesn't make any sense that you should be raising those questions regarding Mendel, since no one has ever claimed that a religious individual can't be a good scientist.  However, it should be equally clear that when religion trumps evidence, then the individual is suspect regarding their ability to assess information.  In that respect you cannot be a good scientist if there are bounds to which you are willing to deny the evidence to preserve your faith. 
    Monk Gregor Mendel or a deeply religious layman Ivan Pavlov, on the other hand, were true scientists.

    It is hard to imagine a devout Christian becoming a prominent evolutionary biologist, but (s)he can excel in some other brunch of biology.
    I would be concerned because one could never know (with any degree of confidence) when some piece of information might surface that conflicts with a held belief.  In that case, could the individual be trusted to present the evidence or not?  There are already enough scientists whose credibility can be compromised because of political views and it is no different when religious views are added into the mix.  As a result, anyone that claims they "do not believe in evolution" has declared themselves to be against the scientific principles that govern the collection, and evaluation of evidence.  In my view, they aren't to be trusted.  (NOTE:  It would be different if there were actually a counter-hypothesis being offered, but once outside the realm of the scientific method, they are certainly entitled to their beliefs, but they are not entitled to be considered scientists).
    Good thing that Antoine Lavoisier did not believe in it...
    ... and there you go again with that "belief" thing.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am not the one bringing up "that belief thing." It is being repeatedly brought up in political discussions. For example, Hank Campbell's article above quotes Jon Huntsman as saying “To be clear I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy”. He specifically said that he BELIEVES in evolution, but apparently has not yet found a faith in global warming, so he just trusts scientists on that one for now. And no, he is not crazy.

    There is a difference between a religious dogma and a scientific theory. Yet, the theory of evolution has essentially become the religious dogma for a considerable number of people. For them, "believing" in evolution is necessary to join the ranks of scientists. How is it different from reciting The Creed to join the ranks of the mainstream Christians? In my opinion, adhering to the evolutionary dogma as a DOGMA is an element of nature worship in its modern form. Again, I do not mean as a slander.

    So, did Lavoisier engage in unscientific behavior when he questioned the Phlogiston Theory? You did not seem to want to answer that question.

    (NOTE: It would be different if there were actually a counter-hypothesis being offered, but once outside the realm of the scientific method, they are certainly entitled to their beliefs, but they are not entitled to be considered scientists).
    Many scientists face the dilemma of presenting an evidence that contradicts something they thought to be true. It does not have to be religiously motivated. Imagine an atheist receiving a treatise on quantum mechanics delivered by an angel with a burning sword. ;)

    Was Lamarck a crappy scientist because his theory was largely wrong, and later abused by charlatans like Lysenko? Or did he nevertheless greatly advance our understanding of Nature? Should paleontological evidence collected by Georges Cuvier be thrown out because he was a proponent of the theory of catastrophism? By the way, Cuvier did report that different fossil types first appear in different geological strata. So, I guess a creationist could follow scientific ethics after all.

    Hank
    “To be clear I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy”. He specifically said that he BELIEVES in evolution
    To the public, and to politicians, the nuance between belief and acceptance is unclear.  For anyone to declare a victory over that is linguistic trickery.  I am basically with you philosophically but statements like the above detract from your argument because it looks like 'gotcha' logic as opposed to the real kind.
    I could not agree more. However, I actually think that this is a big problem, not a minor linguistic issue.

    "If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if what must be done remains undone, the rites and arts will deteriorate; if the rites and arts deteriorate, justice goes astray; and if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything". - Confucius

    Darwin must be spinning in his grave each time some kind of elections approach in the US.

    Thanks for putting together this site. I actually never participated in on-line discussions before, but Science 2.0 seems to suck me right in.

    Gerhard Adam
    So, did Lavoisier engage in unscientific behavior when he questioned the Phlogiston Theory? You did not seem to want to answer that question.
    One is not unscientific for questioning any theory.  What is unscientific, is when evidence is neither presented, or existing evidence is ignored in favor of a particular belief or worldview.  If someone wants to question quantum mechanics, then it is incumbent on them to develop a better hypothesis and evidence.  If someone wants to question natural selection, then it is up to them to come up with a better hypothesis.  One cannot simply say; "I don't believe it", and then conjure up some magical, mythical explanation as evidence.
    In my opinion, adhering to the evolutionary dogma as a DOGMA is an element of nature worship in its modern form.
    I would agree since you're specifically differentiating this out as a particular "belief" (for which presumably you've got an individual opinion).  Obviously we can't individually evaluate and interpret all the scientific data, so much of it is taken on "trust", or at least within the context of appearing to be consistent with your understanding of existing scientific theories and ideas.  It is also possible that an individual comes up with an idea that goes against the mainstream and ultimately proves to be correct.  There is nothing unscientific about any of those points.  As I said before, the unscientific element gets introduced when "belief" is sufficient unto itself.  In that respect I would agree that evolution can also fall into that category if the individual never bothers to evaluate or confirm the evidence on which it is based (this is usually seen by people that insist on arguing about evolution rather than natural selection, or in confusing origin of life issues with natural selection).

    A scientist doesn't have to be right.  In fact, it may well be that a theory is proposed that can't be tested because the technology doesn't exist.  Those will remain in a kind of scientific limbo until evidence either for or against is gathered.
    So, I guess a creationist could follow scientific ethics after all.
    In that respect I have a problem.  A creationist, by definition, is already beginning with an unprovable premise (i.e. the existence of a creator), so it would be difficult to reconcile those views with scientific principles.  The reason for the difficulty is that science presumes that the world is ultimately understandable and that through observation and experiment, we may begin to understand how it works.  Religion begins with the presumption that there are some aspects of the universe that are simply unknowable and beyond questioning.  So if those two positions collide, then which should dominate?  That would determine how scientific one's approach to a problem is. 

    Another example to consider is the issue of the paranormal, where people make all manner of claims without feeling the need to provide any hypothesis or explanation that fits within the modern scientific framework.  Therefore, if I allow for the possibility of ghosts to influence by results (without bothering to explain the phenomenon of ghosts), then I feel it is quite reasonable to consider such research to be unscientific.
    Mundus vult decipi
    As a matter of disclosure I will state that I unequivocally believe in evolution. I spent much of my life working in extractive industries in close association with a wide variety of geoscientists -- including some very, very good ones who believed, in one way or another, in creationism. I once asked one whose religious views were particularly strong how he squared his religious views with the tools he used to do his job. He simply said that, for him evolution was an empirical tool that allowed him to find the things he was looking for (something, by the way, at which he excelled.) Yes, there is an inconsistency in his reasoning, but not one which impaired, in any way his ability to function. And his successful functioning was absolutely dependent on an understanding of the principles of evolution.

    I am ceaselessly amazed at the extent to which people whose livelihoods are totally divorced from anything which is remotely related to geology and evolution seem to make one's views on evolution a sort of litmus test to gauge the intellectual capacities of others. There is probably no issue of science which has less impact on the daily lives of most of us. There is probably no issue which is considered to be more of an indicator of one's affinity or hostility toward science.

    On the other hand, there are many issues -- not the least of which is immunization -- which have direct and daily implications in our daily lives. And it seems that the best many so-called pro-science people can come up with to justify the unjustifiable is that "their" scientists promote some particular contrarian view or another.

    The dinosaurs are long dead. Let them rest in peace. Many other issues of science shape our lives daily. Let us devote our search for the truth to things that really matter.

    Your comment makes a really important point very eloquently. Well said!

    I work in the financial services industry where I make investment recommendations to sophisticated institutional investors. You can't be lazy or sloppy in this job or you will be out of work on record time.

    And, yet, I share some of the skepticism that Darwin has 100% of the answers. It says nothing, of course, about the origin of the universe. It does not say anything about the (for me at least) poorly- understood mechanism by which the primordial soup spontaneously generated 20 complex amino acids. It does not explain why many species, like the coelacanth fish - which was an evolutionary poster child - has not evolved at all.

    I have confidence in the scientific method. I have much less confidence when arrogant scientists concoct fanciful theories that aren't testable.

    Darwin is on solid ground when he speaks of survival of the fittest and natural selection.

    Gerhard Adam
    And, yet, I share some of the skepticism that Darwin has 100% of the answers.
    Why would you even make such a comment?  At the time Darwin wrote his book, he well understood that he didn't have 100% of the answers.  Today, we also understand that there is nothing that provides 100% of the answers.  So what exactly is your point?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I am ceaselessly amazed at the extent to which people whose livelihoods are totally divorced from anything which is remotely related to geology and evolution seem to make one's views on evolution a sort of litmus test to gauge the intellectual capacities of others.
    I think you mistake the issue here.  People's beliefs are not what is being challenged, nor are their intellectual capabilities under fire.  When it becomes a problem, is when people insist on arguing their belief from a point of ignorance (i.e. don't even bother with a simple Google search), and insist that all those actually working in the field are, by definition, atheists, arrogant, and concocting stories.

    It is that blatant disrespect of not even basically informing themselves before they engage in argument that raises the challenge.  For that, they should be challenged, and if they can't do the basics to acquire the knowledge, then perhaps they are intellectually compromised.  If you disagree with a scientific theory, then it is incumbent on you to provide counter evidence or alternative ideas.  It is also incumbent on you to not go into flights of fancy by introducing all manner of non-scientific speculations as your proof. 

    It is useful to bear in mind, that evolution (i.e. natural selection) is one of the most poorly understood scientific theories by the general public and yet it is one that virtually everyone has an opinion on. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    The issue to me is the extent to which we obsess over the "ignorance" and "willful ignorance" of other people when it relates to subjects that have no real significance to most of us as individuals other than as fulcrums to exploit our differences. Knowledge of evolution, for example is useful for people whose lives and/or livelihoods depend on that science. That actually includes almost NONE of us. But in its contemporary context it provides us with a way of culling out the "ignorant" and "willfully ignorant" -- often with the end result of causing us to overlook the virtues of those who are culled.

    Every single one of us is "ignorant". Every single one of us is "willfully ignorant." We are, in fact, each more ignorant than we are enlightened. Our failure to acknowledge this personal ignorance is the essence of hubris. It probably brings us each comfort to be able to explore and exploit the ignorance of others. But really doesn't do much to improve our lives together. Why should the "ignorant" be challenged on matters that do not affect our mutual existence? And especially why should the "willful ignorant" be challenged. I am certain that there are topics that every one of us is unwilling to be moved on. So what? And who are we to make the rules by which others are challenged -- at least for those things that have no effect on our mutual existence? And most importantly, what does it say about us that we are so willing to devote so much energy in disputes which will not improve the lives of the respective sides.

    Whatever the facts may be, one truth about all of the fuss we make concerning evolution is that the opposing sides of the discussion revel in their differences more than they do in their hope that any useful truths might ever arise if the "ignorant" suddenly become enlightened. And another sad truth is that both sides use their differences to build that keep us apart. Walls that need not exist between themselves.

    As I said at the beginning, I am a devout believer in evolution. And I have made a handsome living as a result of that knowledge. I love science and am humbled by the "truths" that I have received in my pursuit of scientific knowledge. At least I believe they are truths. But my many ignorant friends, neighbors and associates -- at least ignorant on the subject of evolution -- are not ignorant in many of the ways that I am ignorant. And by looking past the things about which they are ignorant I have been able to learn truths that would have otherwise escaped me. And had I built the kind of walls that many on both side take comfort in building my life would have been the lesser for my efforts.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're changing the argument somewhat.  No one is claiming nor suggesting that people have to pick sides, or that they even need to have an opinion.  You're absolutely right that we are all ignorant on many subjects.

    However, I'm sure you'll agree, that we don't all take our ignorance and declare it proudly while we proceed to argue with people that do understand the subject better.  No one is challenging creationists or Intelligent Design believers.  It is they that are challenging science, and as such they can be rightfully criticized for having poorly formed arguments and advancing non-scientific ideas.

    If people want to maintain their personal beliefs, then there's no problem.  But it is presumptuous in the extreme to suggest that they should be able to come onto a science site, indicate that scientists are all foolish and arrogant, and then DEMAND that an explanation be provided that they can ridicule it because it doesn't match their religious views. 

    I'm sorry, but I have neither the time nor patience to make up someone's educational deficiencies, when their questions clearly indicate a failure to even do a rudimentary Google search for information.  Such people are willfully ignorant, and are simply annoying, since it is never their intent to actually acquire information or to investigate anything.  They simply want to argue.
    Knowledge of evolution, for example is useful for people whose lives and/or livelihoods depend on that science. That actually includes almost NONE of us.
    Exactly, so perhaps you can explain why all those individuals insist on posting comments to a topic that they are clearly ignorant of?  Who attacked them?  Who queried them for an opinion?  It took an intentional act on their part to engage in this discussion, so while they are certainly free to do so, they are not free from criticism when their ideas prove to be idiotic.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You are certainly free with pejorative terms for the people who do not share your point of view. It is not always our place in life to change people's minds, to educate them or to enlighten them. I am very sorry that you have such a low tolerance for the ignorant, who in your view appear to be ubiquitous among us. I think I was clear that I believe that people on BOTH sides of this issue (and many others) take and defend their positions, not to enlighten or discover truths, but to hurt and divide. What good comes out of that? What new truth's can be derived.

    My problem is not the fact that, at times, people take positions that are at odds with reasonably demonstrable facts. It's that many of us are incapable of separating a person's ignorance on one subject from the possibility that the person might not be ignorant on other issues. This, after all, is the nexus of any discussion of evolution in political settings like we have today -- including this article. A person who holds a view that is ignorant on any subject is thereby presumed to be ignorant on every subject.

    Your comment on the presumptuousness of an ignorant individual coming into a science site speaks to the arrogance of the science community -- of which I am a member. "All the little stupid people ought to just keep out." As much as science has been a part of my life, I have learned to maintain a health skepticism of scientists as people -- not their science. They are often as removed from the human experience as they are close to the miracles of science. Their confidence in their ideas is great. But it is science and scientists that must perpetually make the cases for their ideas to the unwashed masses -- not the masses proving the negative -- a task for which they are manifestly unqualified. When science ignores criticism based on beliefs or morals it is heading down a dangerous path. At the beginning of the last century the science of eugenics was "settled science." Sold by the science community to ignorant people, both little guys and leading social and political figures. There was even a kernel of truth in its theories. And doubters, usually people who questioned the science based on un-scientific arguments were cast as ignorant. At best, the ignorant who bought the "science" allowed it to become a monstrous part of our lives.

    Do I believe that critics of evolution theory are right? Absolutely not. But I believe deeply that the science community cannot be impatient with the ignorant. They cannot deny them a place at the table because of their ignorance. Because the truths of science will always be trumped by the truths of human nature. Impatience and intolerance by the "ignorant" cannot be avoided. Impatience and intolerance by the scientific community cannot be allowed.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but "they" don't want a place at the table.  They simply want to crash the party, and have their way without doing any of the work (i.e. even a simple Google search as I mentioned).  While you may be tolerant of such individuals, I have no patience for people whose sole purpose in engaging at a site is to stir up trouble.

    Also, since when did you get the idea that science was a democracy?  It isn't something where everyone can simply participate by putting forth whatever crank idea they have.  If you aren't prepared to present and defend your ideas, then perhaps it is best to sit on the sidelines.

    It's no different than what is observed in many other aspects of life.  One of the most striking examples comes from watching the auditions for American Idol (the television program).  It is a perfect illustration of people that think they're entitled to participate despite having demonstrably no talent or ability.  Sorry, but life doesn't work that way.  I am under no obligation to educate those that refuse to be educated.  I am under no obligation to display tolerance for people that choose to attack me. 
    Impatience and intolerance by the scientific community cannot be allowed.
    Why?  Do you think every idiot with a miracle cure, or another ghost tale, or a new psychic phenomenon (or perhaps a perpetual motion machine), should be allowed the opportunity to waste people's time because they are too stupid to see the flaws in their own logic?  Where would you draw the line?  Is faith healing to be legitimately considered?  Should we indulge people's whims, or perhaps we're doing them a service when they realize that this is not an arena for childish indulgences. 

    I've said it before.

    "If you can't run with the big dogs, then you have to stay on the porch". 

    Science is not built on indulgence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    However, let's also remember the basis for this article.  If people are ignorant regarding evolution, then what does it say about them, when politicians feel compelled to declare their own position on a topic that has  'no real significance to most of us as individuals".

    Obviously, it was a message that got through to politicians, and in that respect you're being far too kind to people that profess "ignorance".  When it enters politics in this way, it is only a thinly veiled attempted at applying a religious "litmus" test, and in that respect, it isn't simply about science or religion.  This is also another example of religious beliefs wanting to extend their influence beyond that of their own personal lives.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard, I'm afraid you are doing what Hank mentioned in the article. You seem to be propetuating the idea that all "creationists" are "young Earth creationists" who reject all aspects of evolutionary theory. This is simply a false premise. Almost all "creationists" believe most of evolutionary theory, whether they realize it or not, and are very supportive of the concept of natural selection. They know these things affect their lives in very real ways such as super resistant bacteria. But most people do not believe the science requires them to reject their religious beliefs.

    You mention a "religious litmus test." I agree one exists but it seems to be mostly applied by the left. When was the last time a Democratic candidate was ask to explain and defend their position on evolution and creationism. It is the left that tries to paint GOP candidates as crazy for rather mainstream beliefs. Why are these questions even asked? What do they have to do with political dialoque? It is as you say, "another example of religious beliefs wanting to extend their influence beyond that of their own personal lives." But it is generally the evangelical athiest who is trying to trap the professed Christian politician into having to disavow either science or religion.

    Im delighted with this article which Im sure will never hit the headlines of the Liberal Mainstream Media. For a change I see someone come out in defense of the truth instead of the distorsions we hear in politics, specially directed to Republicans and Conservatives.

    Im a conservative, an engineer and very pro-science (a fan of it, actually) and many times have gone out of my way to explain people about for instance, Bush decision to veto additional funding for EMBRYONIC scr. He never decreased or stopped it. In fact the effect was nul because ESCR were not defunded either, simply not increased. All other types of SCR continued receiving Fed funds, which after all were less that 20% of its total. Most US scientific research is funded by private sources. This was just a political move (by Bush) to placate part of his base. Just like Obama did the same by reversing that veto.

    Same with Mr Perry statement: "AGW is a theory with gaps". That is technically correct since in science a theory is a formulation, an assumption which remains so until proven correct beyond any doubts (when becomes LAW). While there is insufficient data and unsolved questions (gaps), the theory remains a theory with gaps. Same goes to evolution.

    Finally I find it utterly disgusting the simplicity in which liberal politicians define the world for the rest of us: "If you a atheist, you are smart...if you are religious, you are stupid....if you believe blindly in GW your smart, if you dont (and god forbid you have some reservations about it, then you must be ignorant). Even worse, to use it as tool for politicking, when we all know that what drives voters is not their views on darwinism or GW, but simply their political ideology and the economy....

    I've had it.

    Good article. I especially like the suggestion that if Republicans have to affirm evolution, Democrats ought to have to deny same.

    Now, for the wrinkle. I consider myself a doubting atheist. The prime/only source of my doubts is creationism. I consider both evolution and creationism as theories. Both have a lot of problems with them. I respect those that think we all came from some single celled life form that came from we have no idea where. I think "believing" in that requires a lot of faith. There are a lot of holes.

    Those that think the world was created in seven days, or a coyote did it all? Again, that requires a lot of faith.

    I don't believe in either. Both are competing theories. Both have merits and problems.

    Saint Augustine's well known quote applies, "Lord, let me not understand so that I may believe. Let me believe so that I may understand." A thinking person cannot look another in the eye, and not see the complexity of the organ of the eye and human sight, and not understand that a superior being--God--created all in nature. The fact that everything works in perfect harmony and obeys the same laws is also reason to know that God created all. Evolution and creation are in complete harmony with one another. Evolution is part of God's plan that he set in motion. You can think whatever you want--even if you are a supposed atheist--it does not change the Truth.

    The author is a little confused about science and what it is. It is not a belief system. It is a system that allows us to reproduce a result. (ie. no one time miracles allowed.) He further proves his ignorance by a narrow view of Seattle residents that do not take vaccines, and calls them anti-science. It may only show that they may be more educated about the risks associated with putting some chemical mixtures into the bloodstream, not that they are anti-science.

    By the way, evolution is reproducible in the lab, in nature, and through VERY simple computer algorithms, which require no assistance from outside forces. Show me how to reproduce a fully developed and adapted organism out thin air, and then creationism can be discussed as a legitimate topic of science.

    Hank
    The author is a little confused about science and what it is. It is not a belief system. 
    Not in the slightest - I know it better than 60% of people who get paid to do science.   But thank you for the grade school.    You may be an anti-science hippie, picking validity as it suits your progressive world view, and that is why you applaud people in Seattle and elsewhere who put society at risk - but don't try to legitimize that and call it science.  It isn't.  The scientific method works when biologists do it, when physicists do it and when epidemiologists do it - or it doesn't work.  Which is it?
    Science is my work. I'm not a anti-science hippie. I didn't pick validity when it suits me, you did. I do applaud people who study, do research, and do not put themselves at risk. I have a son that is allergic to egg based vaccines. The medical drug companies who push these drugs without proper testing are the ones who put society at risk. Tell me how many drugs were pulled off the market becuase people died from taking them. Do some research. get off you butt. Your second sentence you connect militant athesist with scientists. How? no science there. Lazy reporting.

    You do not understand science. It is ONLY method to reproduce results. It is not a method for determining the reason for life, or the universe. It is a method for understanding the mechanism we live in. Keep trying to rewrite the defintion of sceince to suit you political view.

    Hank
    What is my political view again?   Your answer is important because 'you are left wing' is leading 'you are right wing' 261 to 257.  While I agree with your overall point that we should be skeptical when a drug company rolls out a new vaccine after losing a $5 billion settlement, you are now mixing the topics.

    You are contending scientifically that vaccines are not rigorous science but everything else is - basically, scientists at drug companies are not ethical whereas some academic is.   'Science is my work' is automatically suspect because your statements are the definition of an anti-science mentality.  You believe in the method, and its practitioners, solely when it matches your personal circumstance.   That is not science.
    The distribution of vaccines is an experiment. The final result is not known. You can not conclude that people are anti-science when they may actually understand this little fact. A new flu vaccine is produced every season to combat the evolutionary process of the flu bug. A mass distribution of this into a huge population has risk. This group of people may actually understand the science a little bit better.

    Gerhard Adam
    What point are you trying to make?
    Mundus vult decipi
    The authors conclusion that anti science is rooted in things like people not taking vaccines, is not true. I would say this group of people understand the scientific experimental process related to chemicals we put in our body, at a real statistical level, or at the unconscious level, and choose not to participate in that science experiment.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, that's certainly an optimistic appraisal.  So, by extension, the rest of the people that do get vaccines (and provide herd immunity) are idiots?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I would say this group of people understand the scientific experimental process related to chemicals we put in our body, at a real statistical level, or at the unconscious level, and choose not to participate in that science experiment.
    By the way ... what exactly is this "experiment"?  What results are being looked for?  Who is conducting this "experiment"?  Since you brought it up ... describe it and its objectives.

    I certainly hope you won't drag out the tired old "Big Pharma" is greedy argument. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I say experiment because the long term effects of many of the new drugs and vaccines we put into body are unknown. We do not understand the simple mechanisms at the molecular level of most of the common drugs on the market today, and how they respond in each part of our body. 1 year is not enough time to make conclusions. Even ten years in some cases. They pull one drug after another off the market because they were put on the market before an acceptable experimental database has been developed. So I say that some vaccines and drugs are still in the experimental phases, and it is usually wise to avoid being the subject. And at another level of experiment, what if the vaccines are accelerating the evolution process of the flu bug? Is it doing more harm in the long term? The vaccines are produced one after the other, combating a new breed of bug every season. We do not know the result of this process. This is what I mean by experiment.

    Gerhard Adam
    So, in other words, you're just rambling.  You're mixing up the issues between drug testing and vaccines by simply presuming they are the same thing.  In addition, you're overlooking the reality that there are diseases involved, for which some segments of the population are particularly vulnerable.

    So, the only solution is to let people take their chances with diseases versus the preventative action that might result from the vaccines.

    In short, you have no solution beyond spreading fear and uncertainty about vaccines with some vague set of "charges".
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think you raise an important point.

    Science and religion are not mutually exclusive.

    I am a practicing Roman Catholic and there is nothing in my faith that prevents me from believing in evolution.

    Evolution being the method by which the almighty brought the variety of life on this planet and in this universe into being, squares just fine for me. He gave us minds that we might discover and explore all the mysteries of this amazing universe. We should be doing exactly that. Understanding the amazing mechanisms that make life work and change doesn't mean we must give up our faith.

    Hank
    You represent 98% of the world and almost 50% of scientists.  Indeed, science is about explaining the world according to natural laws - how life originated is the ultimate science mystery but at this time it is really only the domain of philosophers and theologians.  Scientists who imply they have that answer on one side and speak dogmatically are as invalid as people on the other who do the same.

    Rick Perry is going to excite a bunch of progressives on the Internet who never intended to vote for him anyway but he is likely causing a lot of normal conservatives to shake their heads and hope a real candidate comes along.

    The only way Pres. Obama can win is if one of the current crop gets the Republican nomination.  This group makes the 1996 Republican field look absolutely outstanding.
    "He further proves his ignorance by a narrow view of Seattle residents that do not take vaccines, and calls them anti-science. It may only show that they may be more educated about the risks associated with putting some chemical mixtures into the bloodstream, not that they are anti-science."

    I agree with the author on this one. People avoiding vaccines are anti-science. All of the risks involved with vaccines are tiny when compared to the benefit to both the individual and society.

    Especially those Jenny McCarthy followers who erroneously link autism with vaccines. Not only have studies shown no link, the one researched who did claim it has admitted he faked his data. Still some people are not willing to give up the belief, because it sounds right to them.

    Sounds anti-science to me.

    There is a real difficulty with the autism/vaccine problem. Some people have seen dramatic changes in their children when their child was vaccinated, and the child is diagnosed autistic after the vaccination. These cases are anecdotal evidence - so statistically "prove nothing", but still they are observations so ignoring this evidence is also unscientific. I have read about studies which deny a connection between vaccines and autism, but on the other hand, I don't know if the scientific studies have tried to distinguish between "autism is not correlated with vaccination" and "there are no mechanisms for vaccinations to cause autism". For example in the case above a child had an egg allergy - so obviously they shouldn't have a standard vaccine since they are pretty universally made with eggs. There are some indications that egg allergies are more common in autistic people than non-autistic people - in which case there maybe a mechanism connecting vaccination reactions to autism, regardless of whether the vaccination is the cause of autism. For example if an egg allergy reaction causes an onset of autistic behaviors that would have started later it would be a mechanism without being a cause. I think it would come under the general term "personalized medicine" - where the question is no longer answered by statistical clinical trials but by investigation of particular cases. A solution might be something like do an egg allergy test before you give someone a vaccination.

    Sincere question for the scientists on this forum: When trying to postulate and gather evidence to support a theory on the origins of life, how is it good science to totally eliminate a possible answer? One of the posters on this forum said the only choices we have to this question are evolution and "magic." This person, in my view, is not a scientist at all because he or she is clearly following a blind faith in evolution, despite the many signficant gaps in the theory (defiance of the Law of Entropy, lack of evidence of beneficial mutations, defiance of the theory or irreducible complexity, etc., etc.). How is it "science" to believe that "life" spontaneously evolved (not only came into being but also somehow reproduced itself) in the "primordial stew" but it is not science to postulate that some intelligent force (call it what you like) may have had something to do with the begnnings of life on Earth? Would it be "science" if one were in the foothills of South Dakota and seeing what appeared to be the faces of four men carved into the mountain, that person said "I need to ONLY look at the way that these faces came into being from purely naturalistic forces!" That would be sheer nonsense, just as it sheer nonsense to seek to answer a question by first eliminating all other possibilities in order to get the answer that you WISH to get.

    True science is being open to ALL possible theories and letting the evidence, both pro and con, take you where it will. There is observable and verifiable evidence of micro-evolution. Very few people doubt this type of evolution, more accurately called "adaptation," has and is occurring. However, when "scientists" try to prove macro-evolution by either ignoring or riduculing evidence that is contrary to the Darwinian orthodoxy, they identify themselves as cultists, not true scientists.

    Gerhard Adam
    True science is being open to ALL possible theories and letting the evidence, both pro and con, take you where it will.
    No, since magic is not plausible and therefore requires no consideration.

    Also please don't introduce your pseudoscientific "theories" which are simply the "God of the Gaps" arguments.  They are neither scientific nor reasonable.
    Would it be "science" if one were in the foothills of South Dakota and seeing what appeared to be the faces of four men carved into the mountain, that person said "I need to ONLY look at the way that these faces came into being from purely naturalistic forces!"
    But we don't see four faces.  We don't see something that can't be explained.  In fact, it is only those that want to deny science that insist that there can't be an explanation.  It is only the ID crowd or the creationists that insist that no answer is possible.  Just for the record ... God is NOT an answer.  You're postulating a miracle as an explanation, which is absurd on its face as a scientific process.

    All of your other questions have either been rebutted numerous times, or are false arguments to begin with.  Asking questions framed as "how this" or "how that" is not evidence.  Also, suggesting that knowledge is incomplete is not a basis for claiming that your answers are correct.

    You want to engage in an alternate theory of evolution, then provide an explanation within a scientifically formulated hypothesis.  However, you should be aware that if you suggest something external to the world as it is observed, then you need evidence to indicate where that entity originated as well.  Simply claiming some miraculous occurrence, is not evidence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am a scientists and I will not give one of my sons certain vaccines because he is allergic to them. This only proves my scientific position, because giving him egg proteins will have a reproducible result - an allergic reaction. As people should remember, science is NOT a belief!

    As one of the 8% I know that snakes don't talk, virgins don't give birth and unicorns don't make rainbows. Soft selling irrational myths does not make them science. Cave men did not understand the world so they invented gods out of ignorance. Every culture or tribe had the own local gods until they were conquered by some other tribe. Today's "winners" Christians and Muslims were better at killing and conquering than Pagans, Jews, or Aztecs so they won out. The church was against Galileo, Darwin and Einstein it opposed autopsies, anesthesia and burned about 2 million "witches" over 1500 years. Jimmy Carter and George Bush 2.0 were the 2 of the worst presidents ever because they were fools. Praying is no replacement for thinking.

    "By the way, evolution is reproducible in the lab, in nature, and through VERY simple computer algorithms, which require no assistance from outside forces."

    If this statement is meant to apply to macro-evolution, then it is utter nonsense and is, in fact, self-contradictory. To date, no scientists have been able to create a living, reproducible organism in the lab EVEN while completely controlling ALL of the variables. Either explain this statement in detail or withdraw it. These types of over-reaching (and pseudo scientific) claims are counterproductive to the inquiry.

    I believe in evolution but to be fair, this article is the complex modern equivalent to breading a donkey and horse to get a mule. Genomes were purposefully spliced together using in a manor and using methods only a highly intelligent being could produce.

    ...breeding

    MikeCrow
    I should have highlighted this in my reply.

    To date, no scientists have been able to create a living, reproducible organism in the lab EVEN while completely controlling ALL of the variables.

    Venter's team did this. And they did more than you suggest (IMO at least), they synthesized the dna they inserted from base chemicals, and once they replaced the host dna with the synthetic dna, it reproduced.

    I in no means intend to imply that that's how I think life started.
    Never is a long time.
    In response to mildlyamused. True science is being open to ALL possible theories and letting the evidence, both pro and con, take you where it will. There is no theory for macro evolution, unless you call magic a theory. And you mention " -defiance of the Law of Entropy, lack of evidence of beneficial mutations, defiance of the theory or irreducible complexity, etc., etc." is non-science garbage, written by stupids trying to hold on to a 2000 years story as truth.

    Can you please provide the evidence and logical argument for these statements? For example, since Darwinian theory relies upon millions upon millions of instances of beneficial mutations at the cellular level, can you please cite observed examples of beneficial mutations? Can you also explain, how the theory of macro-evolution coforms to Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamcs, also known as the Law of Entropy? None of this is "magic" but is instead contradictory evidence that tends to make Darwin's theory questionable. Darwin himself said, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." Microbiologist Michael Behe has written an entire book on examples where complect organisms simply COULD NOT haven evolved because the organism could not survive at all unless it was complete at its origin. You may try to refute his evidence but it is hardly "science" to ignore it and call it "myth." As we learn more about the universe, its laws, and the complexity of the systems that even allow life to exists, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that some type of intelligence seems to be behind what we see. Randomness simply cannot explain what we are learning. The math doesn't work anymore. I am NOT saying the evidence is dispositive in any direction however, I am saying that people that forcefully believe in evolution and refuse to hear all of the evidence are no better than flat earthers clinging to a comfortable and self-serving view of the world that may or may not be supported by the evidence.

    Evolution is not solely dependent on mutation. It mainly relies on the combination pairing of genes through sexual reproduction. This combination pairing results in good combinations, sometime bad pairing, of genes being passed on to the next generation. The good combinations, best suited for its environment will survive. Why do you think nature uses to sexual reproduction more than exact duplication. If your theory were true, a creator would have developed a perfect organism, and therefore would not need sexual reproduction.

    And I love the statement "The math doesn't work anymore"

    Beneficial mutations? How about the fact you are sitting here writing this?

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." - Charles Darwin

    How about the brain?

    Listen, I think evolution is real- things change- but I don’t think it started everything off and we don’t know what was the initial spark. Period. There are lots of militant atheists who’ve pondered alien life kicking things off, which sounds just as absurd to me as ‘God’ sounds to you. The problem with the big bang theory is that is doesn’t answer the question of what was before? Nothing to billions of light years? THAT sounds like magic…

    Your suggestion that we should take Michael Behe's work seriously is much more than MildlyAmusing.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... Darwinian theory relies upon millions upon millions of instances of beneficial mutations at the cellular level, can you please cite observed examples of beneficial mutations?
    Actually it doesn't, since Darwin couldn't have known anything about genetic mutations.  However, beneficial changes in the genome .... OK.  How about the benefit conveyed during Horizontal Gene Transfer for other bacterial to acquire antibiotic resistance?
    Microbiologist Michael Behe has written an entire book on examples where complect organisms simply COULD NOT haven evolved because the organism could not survive at all unless it was complete at its origin.
    Michael Behe is an idiot that doesn't understand evolution.  Even the simplest observation demonstrates his premise to be wrong.  Darwin started his book by demonstrating the effectiveness of selection by looking at artificial selection in breeding animals.  His theory proposed that all other animals are subject to natural selection.  So, when we observe the creation of dog breeds, or even mules, we recognize that such a condition as "complete evolution" is nonsensical.

    So if we look more closely, we find that Michael Behe is suggesting that dogs must've sprung up fully created, which is NOT a claim ever made by biology or natural selection.  In fact, the question that should be asked of Michael Behe is to explain what a "complete" organism is.  Is a prokaryote?  How about eukaryotes?  Multicellular organisms? 

    It's an absurd argument and Michael Behe clearly doesn't know what he is talking about.
    Randomness simply cannot explain what we are learning. The math doesn't work anymore.
    What is that even supposed to mean?  Just stop abusing the term "randomness" if you don't know how to apply it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "By the way, evolution is reproducible in the lab, in nature, and through VERY simple computer algorithms, which require no assistance from outside forces."

    If this statement is meant to apply to macro-evolution, then it is utter nonsense and is, in fact, self-contradictory. To date, no scientists have been able to create a living, reproducible organism in the lab EVEN while completely controlling ALL of the variables. Either explain this statement in detail or withdraw it. These types of over-reaching (and pseudo scientific) claims are counterproductive to the inquiry.

    In order to create a biological living organism would take hundreds of thousand of years. The mechanisms at the atomic and molecular level are understood, for the most part. If the are not understood right now, they will be if we keep trying to understand them. I repeat, they CAN be understood. (you may have to study a little bit, oh darn ! ) A computer program simulate these mechanisms to create what is called artificial life. This form of 'life' may be blasphemy to some people, but it may just be the next leap in evolution. Remember, survival of the fittest. A machine with high "intelligence" will be better able to survive in the future, as long as they can maintain themselves independently, without us. Is that so hard to imagine?? Is that not proof enough for macro-evolution.

    "A machine with high "intelligence" will be better able to survive in the future, as long as they can maintain themselves independently, without us. Is that so hard to imagine?? Is that not proof enough for macro-evolution."

    Within this construct, there is no evolution because the machine was developed by humans over time. It did not develop spontaneously as a natural response to its environment. Any positive mutations would be as a result of human intervention. What you have here is R&D. Now a question: if your example is proof of macro-evolution, is man actually God as far as the machines are concerned? Or would the machines reject that reality based on their own understanding?

    If the fundamental rules of the machine "intelligence" are set at the beginning, and the rules never change over its evolution, it is the same as us. Sure, the environment will govern which set of adaptations will survive. Even if it is guided by us, but the fundamental rules remain the same. IBM is doing this right now. I'm sure many other companies are doing this too, because who will ever have the first machine that surpasses human intelligence, will be the winner.

    Ha! Ha! if faith and science both tell us the truth about the world, then they cannot contradict one another as this article presupposes.

    I, too, am troubled by the way politics colors everything in the intellectual life of America and turns otherwise intelligent individuals into howling lunatics. It is difficult to engage in rational debate within our academic cocktail circuit, so I have taken to excusing myself to freshen my drink when the "anti-Conservative" rants begin. And yes, they are always anti-Conservative, or anti-Christian rants--filled with invective that I know to be untrue. If the smartest among us are unable to see beyond our political affiliations, or admit to opinions that are anything other than fully dichotomous absolutes, how can we ever expect "the masses" to contribute to the public discourse?
    I do know "young earth" creationists, and none of them are cretinous Luddites. However, they are mistaken in what they oppose. This mistake is not due to poor scientific skills, but rather it is due to poor philosophical and rhetorical skills. The scientific community says that "one cannot use philosophical arguments to make a scientific point." And that is a reasonable thing to claim. However, the young earth community continues to attack the science instead of attacking the hypocrisy. The correct rejoinder is not "well, evolution has gaps" but rather, "...and conversely, one cannot use scientific arguments to make a philosophical point." What I mean to say is that the scientific community continues to make philosophical statements as an extension of empirical data, such as, "if we don't need God, then God does not exist." These are the ideas that creationists ought to oppose. The most egregious example of mixing science and philosophy has come from the purposeful scrubbing of science textbooks to remove language that could be interpreted as being "teleological." How, exactly, does the editor of a science text know for sure that life has no meaning? But yet the great scrub of "no-speak-ums" is on, with words such as "purpose" being expunged. The real argument is epistemological, and neither side seems willing to go there. Are we all really too afraid to look at our own weltanschauungs with a critical eye?
    Finally, I am tired of the scientific community opposing their own principles for political gain. I still recall my jaw dropping as I read an article about medical ethics that came out of (unnamed prestigious medical institution). It contained a reference to the change in nomenclature of "therapeutic cloning" (creating an embryo for the purpose of harvesting cells) to "SCINT" (somatic cell intranuclear transfer). They argued that they could now use the term "SCINT" and explain that it is not cloning, but rather a scientific technique that avoids cloning and thus fool the idiot masses. (okay, they didn't use those words, but that is what they meant) And then they justified it further by saying that a "true" clone can only be female, can only be called a clone if matured through birth, and on and on. Then they said that they "oppose cloning" but have developed "SCINT." And this was an article about medical ETHICS. I am not sure about you, but lying to people to get what you want has never been a part of my ethical system. And, I could go on to quote a JAMA article that ended with a fawning reference to "audacity" and "hope." Need I go on?
    We are in serious trouble, people.
    Disclaimer: I am a libertarian leaning conservative Christian.

    Hank
    One thing I have noted numerous times - heck, everyone knows it, bias is the big, white elephant in the room - is that as academia in general and science academia in particular got far more diverse demographically, it became far less diverse politically.   Women can lament that there are only 48% women in math classes but there can't be even 10% of academics that are not progressives by now.  It's not a disservice to science quality but it is a disservice to science culturally.

    Because scientists are not a 'constituency' in the classic sense, the way to get more funding and mindshare is to be 'in play' politically.  If politicians know your bloc is up for grabs, they will compete for it.   But right now Democrats know academics are voting for any Democrat over any Republican regardless of positions so they can take scientists for granted - and Republicans won't bother to compete.

    Pres. Obama is 'going right' because he has no one competing against him, so he will lose nothing on the left and maybe gain some middle, and someone like Perry can do the same thing regarding science.  He is losing zero votes from scientists because not a one was voting for a Republican anyway.  How many scientists (or worse, on the shrill militant left, science bloggers) honestly are suddenly giving Jon Huntsman a chance because he endorsed science?  None.
       
    A good model for US scientists is Hispanic votes.  They vote for their issues, they are not in the bag for a party, so both sides compete for them.
    Have you considered the fact that there may be a reason for this? Maybe sicentists are voting for their issues by voting for Democrats consistently. Hiring committees do not ask for political affiliation when hiring professors -- they ask for mastery of the subject matter and competence in the classroom. If the smartest people in the room and the experts in their fields keep saying they do not trust the Republicans, maybe you should listen.

    Hank
    I've considered it,sure.  The people who do not consider it are actual academics - once a week someone writes an article claiming academia is sexist and racist because there are gaps in participation.  So it only follows that bias must be there politically, since the levels of Republicans versus numbers of women and black people are far, far lower.  Progressives are either keeping out minorities or they are not, but it is unbelievable they are keeping out women but not Republicans.

    If you are implying Republicans must be too stupid to be in science or they wouldn't be Republicans, well, you fit right in with that biased mentality.
    Evidence points to many Republicans as being quite intelligent as are many Democrats. So are you suggesting that women and minority professors cannot reason becuase they are not agreeing with you? What you suggest is that they are incapable of changing their minds. On a daily basis, professors are presented with all sorts of information. They have to sort out what is fact and what is fiction. By your reasoning, they cannot do this because not enough of them are Republicans. Your argument is one of causality -- they have to be biased unreasonably because they are not necessarily agreeing with you in numbers to your satisfaction. Given the numbers, it points to the opposite -- given the information they have received, academics do not consider conservatism in most of its electoral forms to be a valid or logical idea.

    Hank
    That reasoning either works both ways or it doesn't - if you replace black people or women with conservatives is it still valid to say academia ostracizes them because they are more stupid than progressives or white men?   You are really digging a hole trying to rationalize discrimination but pretending it is valid against people you happen not to like.
    Anonymous appears to be unfamiliar with the discipline of epidemiology.
    The bias that M Campbell refers to is called "selection bias." It is very different from the casual use of the term as in "biased news story."
    Here is an example of how "selection bias" could influence the political makeup of academia:
    If 100 students enter college and study science, the chances are good that their political affiliations would mirror that of the general population. Most of those who excel at science would likely choose the most desirable (meaning lucrative, assuming your econ professor was correct) career paths. They would become surgeons or join a bioengineering firm. These are people who believe in a free market economy. The remaining pool of individuals is skewed towards people who prefer the government funded lifestyle (not a slur, my lifestyle is government funded), less likely to be "Republican." So, you can see how the selection bias can begin. Also, when academia is increasingly enriched with those who espouse a certain belief system, it is true that their trainees will be more likely to espouse that belief system over time, in the same way that children are likely to share values held by their parents and community.
    Hope that helps to explain the concept of "selection bias."

    Hank
    Sociologists claim the impact is even worse; not only will there be selection bias (conscious or unconscious, if they get the impression someone up for a job is Republican) but also there will be stereotype threat which causes people to under-perform and therefore be hired less.

    It's wonderful stuff; if I try out for a basketball team and fail, sociology can tell me I failed because the perception is fewer white guys are good at basketball and I was so worried about making white guys look bad, I didn't play very well and didn't make the team, reinforcing the stereotype that white guys can't play well, etc.

    Generally, you have to reach pretty far to contend one minority we might like is discriminated against but minorities we don't like are simply staying away 'by choice' and certainly the argument they are too stupid to be in science if they don't want to pay high taxes is goofy.
    I'll call Huntsman crazy, as well as those 'scientists' who forged data to meet their political agenda for Global Warming. There is science out that that supports Creationism, as well as for Climate Change not driven by CO2 emmisions. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/25/cern_cloud_cosmic_ray_first_resu... For those of you with an open mind the preceeding link is about testing done at CERN that indicates that Climate Change's biggest impact is from the interaction of solar activity with cosmic rays. As for science having it right...history indicates science has never had it right, science is always evolving as we gain more and more understanding. Worse yet many scientist become so married to their views that the suffer 'the Galileo Effect'. http://galileo-effect.blogspot.com/

    As for creationism, as I said there is science to support the 'young earth'. http://www.setterfield.org/

    Truth here is this...outside of knowing you exists (I think therefore I am) everything else you know requires faith...this could be the Matirx for all you know.

    That statement is completely wrong. There is no legitimate science that supports creationism. There is no evidence to support it. Anyone who believes the Earht is just 6,000 years old is simply demonstrating a complete ignorance of science. There is absolutely no scientist who supports that idea, and there is absolutely no evidence to suppport it.

    The charge that sicentists forged data on climate change is false. A committee of peers cleared them. Climatlogists universally agree that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activity is contributing to changes in the climate.

    You makme a very poor arguent. First, most creationists don't believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old. While a small percentage do, you set up this straw man because it is easy to knock down.

    Is the theory of evolution a flawed theory with holes? Yes. It has very large holes and big problems. Is the majority of the thoery sound? Yes. Living organisms evolve over time and species evolve into new species? We can see it and can verify it through reproduceable tests. However, there are some intermediate value theorem issues that require some transitional generations that don't hold up well to observation and reproduceable tests.

    Of course, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas but that fact doesn't contribute much, if anything, to the global warming debate.

    The global warming movement is full of junk science. I get so tired of people claiming that all climate scientists agree on the issue of global warming. First, they don't agree. Second, it doesn't matter who agrees, what matters is whether they can poresent convincing data and scienctific experiments reproducible results that verify their theories. Any theory that is part of a political movement should be held up to very strict scrutiny. Read the emails, examine the computer models, examine the data collection techniques, read the work of the researchers with opposing views and analysis, and do your own reasoning. If you aren't bright enough to do that, then at least don't make judgements or present your thoughts as ones that should be considered.

    You are anti-science when you try to push ideas that have no basis in fact. Creationism and "young-earth" beleivers are such people. Their ideas have been thoroughly repudiated by scientists for over a century. Major Republican officials patently reject evolution because they either do not understand the science or refuse to live in the real world where evolution is an accepted part of science. It was these same Republicans who refuse to fund important research projects, halting development of cures for diseases and holding back our technological progress. It was these same Republicans themselves who refuse to fund public health awareness campaigns (AIDS, etc.) and threw a fit when Texas required girls that would prevent uterine cancer.

    The problem is that so many people reject simple scientific facts because they refuse to consider that they may be wrong. These are people who refuse to live in the real world. And when these same people try to craft policies for this country, their ignorance makes them dangerous. Their minds have so atrophied that they cannot see new possibilities or understand any idea outside their narrow world-view.

    In a modern, technological age, we have to have officials who understand science. If not, these people will lead us back into the Dark Ages and progress will be at an end.

    Hank
     It was these same Republicans who refuse to fund important research projects, halting development of cures for diseases 
    Name one instance where a Republican halted development of a cure for any disease.  As I said in my article, Republicans did not object to stem cell research for 40 years, the only objection came when the new hESC technology was invented at the end of Clinton's term - Clinton signed the Dickey-Wicker Act banning federal funding for anything that destroys an embryo.  Bush instead allowed it but limited it to existing lines.   So he was far more progressive for science than Clinton was.

    If Republicans were really the issue, private sector companies would have used hESC to cure these diseases you allege were somehow blocked.   Drug development is one area where companies lobby to keep academics and federal funding out, because it would slow research down.   Yet no drug company is pursuing hESC beyond the basic level and only one state, California, was goofy enough to fund it.   If it were great science simply being blocked at the federal level by Republicans, capitalism would have gone around it.

    AIDS gets more funding than breast cancer so if Republicans are 'blocking' that, they are doing a lousy job of it.
    Well put. I would add one more thing: if hESC could create a cure the product would be more patentable that IS where the money would go. For adult stem cells you can only patent the method, since the input material would be the patients own stem cells. hESC you could patent and sell a whole product which would be more lucrative.

    But as far as I can tell, the "Republican attack on stem cell research" trope is basically a proxy for attacking the Republican stance against abortion, so the details of the science aren't really central to the issue.

    Anonymous, I'm curious if you have any friends that are "young earth"--because I believe your dogmatism towards that person might be different than the attitudes you espouse in your comments. I'm one of these who doesn't know all the answers, but loves science and thinks from all of my reading that a younger earth is certainly possible. And last time I checked I pay taxes, work, raise my kids, and shop at grocery stores--I'm assuming that is the real world! :-)

    Often it is where you start--such as carbon dating. You have to make the assumption that NO carbon was present in the rock to trust the dating. No one knows that to be true. Not to mention, the Mount St. Helens lava rock was dated thousands of years past it's actual age--proving that dating is not always accurate. Additionally there are secular scientists that dispute the big bang because of all of the fudge factors used. See this letter--http://blog.lege.net/cosmology/cosmologystatement_org.pdf. I realize this doesn't prove a young earth, but neither of us was there and well--the gaps are there for evolution. And they really don't get closer--there are continued "facts" that prove to be false. Note this: Dr Storrs Olson, Curator of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. wrote a scathing open letter about National Geographic’s Archaeoraptor: “The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith.”

    Quite honestly, most of those that totally blast intelligent design, young earth, etc. have never taken a look at the other side, while those of us that are young earth hear evolution in school, at every natural history museum, on tv--on Dinosaur Train--for goodness sake. We have been presented both and look at both sides.

    Does it take faith? Sure. Does believing in evolution from a single cell to this incredibly complex earth take faith? Well, I'll let you answer that.

    MikeCrow
    And the 2nd law is not in jeopardy of being violated, we are not in a closed system, we continuously get energy from the sun.

    All that's required is an energy gradient that can be used to do work (ie build more complex molecules).
    Never is a long time.
    And the 2nd law is not in jeopardy of being violated, we are not in a closed system, we continuously get energy from the sun. All that's required is an energy gradient that can be used to do work (ie build more complex molecules).
    There's a nice essay on that neat concept from an old book called "Mayonnaise and the Origin of Life" by Harold J. Morowitz
    I find it sad that most humans, spiritual and/or scientific, are so close-minded when it comes to the Big question. Perhaps I should be more disgusted with the scientific community, for they, at least by general definition, should always be open to new possibilities. But it seems that any idea incorporating both views is dismissed by both groups, and I can only ascribe that to ideological entrenchment of the worst sort. Open minds, people. Scientists: what if those beings decribed so deliciously in the old testament and dubbed "angels" revisit us at some point in the future in their technologically advanced "chariots of fire"? Will you still villify a "religious position" simply because humans at that point in time had no scientific jargon to express their experience? Creationists: same question. Will you refuse to acknowledge your "God" because he appears in a "ufo" instead of a cloud of fire?

    MikeCrow
    Scientists: what if those beings decribed so deliciously in the old testament and dubbed "angels" revisit us at some point in the future in their technologically advanced "chariots of fire"?

    Then I will consider them to be the Aliens they are.
    Never is a long time.
    We have two choices regarding the origin of the Universe:

    o When it comes to the origin of the universe, the "Big Bang Theory" and its related Inflation Universe Theories (IUTs) are today's dominant scientific conjectures. According to these interrelated notions, the universe was created between 13 and 20 billion years ago from the random, cosmic explosion (or expansion) of a subatomic ball that hurled space, time, matter and energy in all directions. Everything - the whole universe -- came from an initial speck of infinite density (also known as a "singularity"). This speck (existing outside of space and time) appeared from no where, for no reason, only to explode (start expanding) all of a sudden. Over a period of approximately 10 billion years, this newly created space, time, matter and energy evolved into remarkably-designed and fully-functional stars, galaxies and planets, including our earth.

    o The dominate religious conjecture is that this “singularity” was created by a Being (God) who exists outside of space and time, who appeared from nowhere, to create the universe, so we can exist and spend eternity with our Creator (God)

    • Rationally, both of these conjectures require an equal amount of FAITH. Both require us to accept either that this “singularity” appeared from no where, or was created by a Being (God) who appeared from no where. One for no reason, the other for a reason. Neither, has been Scientifically proved or disproved.

    As I rationally look at the “Big Bang Theory” the mathematical probability that time and chance would produce the Universe that we live in today is, according to Roger Penrose, that the odds against such an occurrence were on the order of 10 to 10123 to 1. If I decide to put my Faith in a created Universe, then the odds that my Faith is correctly placed increase on the order of 10 to10123. I have to admit that I am in AWE in the amount of FAITH believers have in a time and chance universe!!! My Faith in a created universe PALES in comparison.

    There is nothing in any of these theories to say that God does not exist. It is a matter of figuring out the process. AS Albert Einstein said, "Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame."

    Hank
    I get your point but the reasoning is flawed so I have to comment on it; if you take what you know to exist and then calculate the probability of it existing from nothing, all probabilities are in the unimaginable range.   The probability that you wrote that comment was bordering on infinite.

    The fact is we are here so inventing some miracle of circumstances for us to arrive here and then giving a wink-wink to random nature or a deity is pointless.   Using this same reasoning I can correlate riots in the mid-east to number of science articles on this site.

    It's just bad use of math and people should stop doing it.
    You are wrong about this. One example is convergence. There are many examples of identical systems in organisms unrelated to each other (in evolutionary terms), including systems (like for flight, radar sounding, etc.) containing identical genetic code. Now if evolution relies on chance events to create these systems, how is it that these complex and purposeful systems managed to independently evolve over and over again? If an scientific theory relies on extremely improbably events occurring over and over again, that alone should call it into question.

    If someone consistently wins at a game of chance (like a lottery, or at the gambling table) well beyond what is to be expected, it is likely they are cheating somehow, right?

    Granted. So using your logic we can say that either conjecture has a 50/50 chance of being right. One says my existance has no meaning or purpose while the other says I do have meaning and purpose. My choosing to have meaning and purpose allows me to embrace Science as explaining how God encoded the singularity to become the Universe that we exist in today.

    Science provides several possible answers:

    1. String theory's statement that each oscillation mode behaves as a different species of particle, with its mass, spin and charge determined by the string's dynamics is a possible explanation of how God created matter (singularity).
    2. RNA and DNA explains how God created life and how it self replicates

    God is outside of space and time. What to us is billions of years is but a moment to God, so what appears to us as time and chance to God it is just another "day".

    Hank
    I don't mean to be flippant but a week ago I wrote an article noting that string 'theory' is hopelessly flawed because it makes anything possible, and you just used it as rationale for religion.  Wormholes Possible? Yes, And Using String Theory, I Am Also The Pope
    You are being flippant!! I did not use it as a rational for religion. I said it is a possible explanation for how God (50/50 chance that a God is real) created matter(sigularity). What you choose to ignore is that I am saying that Science (if you choose to take your blinders off) can explain the how the Universe was created by God. So who is the denier?

    So am I to assume that your non-response is your acceptance that Science can explain how God created the Universe? Or are you so arrogant that you can not even accept the possibilty that the Universe could have been created? After all it is a 50/50 chance. Science, to date, has neither proved nor disproved how the miracle of the singularity coming from nowhere for no reason happened.

    Gerhard Adam
    It's interesting how you assign a probability of 50/50 to the existence of God (with zero supporting evidence and 100% faith), but some astronomical number to the probability of life forming.  Of course, your argument is based on the explicit requirement that God doesn't require any explaining.  You simply invoke infinity and presume that no other questions can be asked.

    How about we simply assume that the universe is infinite and doesn't require a God?  Why do you require a miracle?  Physics doesn't. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't require a miracle. I merely posit that there is equal probalbility that the Universe was created or is the result of time and chance. You insist that we live in a closed Universe but accept that the singularity magically appeared. You fall back on the premise that Science will discover the answer in time. What if Science discovers there is a creator? Are you prepared to accept that or are you so locked into your "closed Universe" ideology that you will refuse to accept it? What is wrong to being open to both? At least a created Universe gives one the hope that there is meaning and purpose to my eventual oblivion.

    Hank
    But you're using bad logic.  You state existence of a deity as 50% - as in there is or isn't - and then Frankenstein up a 1 in 10 quadrillion estimation of me writing this comment from the beginning of the universe.   It's frustrating because you don't want to have a discourse, you want to preach.

    You do not know any scientists or you would know one thing they all know - anyone who proves the existence of God is getting the biggest Nobel prize ever.  This notion that scientists refuse to entertain it because they are closed minded rather than because there's not even a method to begin looking much less prove it, well, it is baffling.
    Gerhard Adam
    At least a created Universe gives one the hope that there is meaning and purpose to my eventual oblivion.
    Why is that?  Is it because you think that if there's a "big boss" then there's someone that can give you credit for being a decent human being?  Without that ... what possible meaning could there be, other than simply being a good person with no objective of gaining a reward out of it.

    It's a pathetic sort of philosophy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This is not about science at all. This is a debate about "how can I use science to get my political funding, or no political funding for them" The author projects science as something someone believes in. This is useful to him, because then you can discredit somebody, just as easy as one can discredit the tooth fairy. Science is a method used to reproduce some result. That's it. No believing. The authors approach is lazy and self serving, and it is obvious he is using this technique to push a political agenda.

    Hank
    What agenda would that be?   Spending 10,000 hours of my life for free bringing scientists and the public together, so the filter of media editors and journalists is eliminated?  Yeah, I am a bad guy for that.  So is my secret agenda to promote the left or the right?   I want to know who to send my bill to, because I do this stuff for free and I suppose I shouldn't.
    If you're a writer, particularly a science writer, and can't appreciate the role of editors and peer-review? Maybe you shouldn't.

    Hank
    Let's not confuse editors and journalists and peer review.  Are you saying this goofy stuff on purpose?  Every comment of yours is more and more nonsensical.  Who said an editor at the New York Times is qualified to peer review anything?   Just you, not anyone who understands how science gets done.
    No need for peer review because you don't think anyone is qualified to do so? That would make you irresponsible for what you say. Like a child.

    Hank
    I admit it; I said no one at the New York Times is qualified to do peer review in science.  If you can find any of them that claim they are qualified, I would love to see it, so 10 million more people in science and science media can make fun of them for saying so.
    The theory of evolution, basically stated, is lots of luck (most of it vanishingly improbable) and lots of time. If you find that intellectually satisfying, then fine, but in other scientific disciplines where standards are much more rigorous, such a theory would never fly.

    The other problem is most hardcore Darwinists act like Nazis if you question Darwinian evolution. Why is that? Could it be the political and cultural issues at stake? What then do cultural and political issues have to do with science? They should have no bearing on it whatsoever. They in fact are corrupting scientific investigation, which is a real shame.

    There are plenty of scientific people that believe in Creation (ie www.answersingenesis.org). The majority of Americans believe in God and that God is responsible for the Universe. How it breaks down from Creation I don't know. But just because someone comes to a different conclusion of 6,000 to 10,000 year old earth vs. millions of years is irrelevant in choosing a President. There is more evidence for a younger earth than a "older" earth but that's a separate debate. It's not a matter of intelligence--it's a matter of your pre-supposition. NONE of us were here when God created, so quit trying to act like you were here evolutionists. God did communicate to us in the Bible so it's pretty simple. Think of it this way..before the early 1900's most every scientist and leader was a creationist. Were there still good and bad leaders? Yes! My point is it wasn't their view on Creation that made them a good leader. Someone that is a good leader has some natural dare I say.."God given" abilities to lead.

    I'm not sure I would call a person who thinks the world is flat, a good leader....

    Bravo, Brian! Way to hit the nail on the head--it DOES come down to one's presuppositions. The problem with science isn't the standard operations science that is done in both business and educational labs around the world every day. Those established and budding scientists use a host of scientific rules and constants that they have no idea how to explain, but of which they gladly take advantage. Young-earth creationists like myself have no problem with humanity interacting with this world to better discover how it works (sometime the conclusions drawn are invalid, but that's another matter). But origins science is far different. Since neither creationist scientists nor evolutionist scientists can replicate their theory of how the world came to be, it comes down to defending the system in which you are heavily invested. So, yes, I take it on faith that God created the world in six days about 6,000-10,000 years ago, just as the evolutionist ultimately must take a leap of faith that their flawed, unproven, and shifting Darwinian theory explains the great complexity and beauty of our universe. “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable.” --Sir Arthur Keith.

    So, Mr. Campbell, you can now say you do know at least one young-earth creationist who is not mindlessly against modern science, but is firmly grounded first and foremost on the eternal truth of God's Word. :)

    Hank
    So, Mr. Campbell, you can now say you do know at least one young-earth creationist who is not mindlessly against modern science, but is firmly grounded first and foremost on the eternal truth of God's Word. :)
    I meant 'know' in the not-an-anonymous-person-on-the-Internet way but, okay; you accept science but believe million-year-old fossils and rock formations were back-dated?  How do you reconcile that?
    Gerhard Adam
    So, yes, I take it on faith that God created the world in six days about 6,000-10,000 years ago, just as the evolutionist ultimately must take a leap of faith that their flawed, unproven, and shifting Darwinian theory explains the great complexity and beauty of our universe.
    This statement is so flawed, I wouldn't even know where to begin.  Suffice it to say, that it represents a total rejection of science, so your statement demonstrates either your ignorance of science or your hypocrisy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    There is more evidence for a younger earth than a "older" earth

    Wow. Assuming you mean there is more evidence to support the belief in a 6-10k y.o. world relative to an older world, that is absolutely false.

    God did communicate to us in the Bible so it's pretty simple.

    I'm speechless. Does Biblical miscellany form the bedrock of your suggestion that there's more evidence to support a younger earth than an older earth? If you accept prima facie that the Bible is a factual record of cosmological events, then discussions with you on the subject of evolution vs creation cannot possibly bear fruit.

    Now your getting into ethics. You should be clear about what your agenda is, and not a false definition of science to promote your agenda. Maybe you should stop writing. I wouldn't pay you unless I was a political hack.

    I am not particularly familiar with this author or this website, but it seems to me that there's a lot of creationist dog whistle blowing taking place. I'm no professional scientist, but it seems to me that science more than anything is a experimentation-based method of inquiry into the workings of physical phenomena. While it probably isn't for science to disprove non-falsifiable theories such as creationism or intelligent design (because, you know, they're non-falsifiable), using such a fact as an argument in favor of creationism or intelligent design is dishonest.

    Mildlyamused,

    I must say that I am mildly amused that your arguments are still being put forth in opposition to evolution. Certainly there have been many mutations that have been beneficial to organisms over the years. Besides, what may appear to be a neutral or harmful mutation might become beneficial in another environment. Consider the sickle cell trait or the coloration of moths (speckled moths did better prior to industrialization in England, black ones did better after the tree bark become discolored due to industrialization).

    The second law is certainly not violated by evolution. Complex systems arise from simpler ones all the time in nature. Please explain to me how a complex crystalline structure of a snowflake arises from an essentially random distribution of water vapor molecules in the atmosphere. The answer is the same as the answer to your question: look up in the sky and see a bright, hot ball of gas. Energy input is needed to increase the complexity of a system.

    As for Behe's irreducible complexity argument, that is also bull. Behe defines an irreducibly complex system as one that cannot function upon removal of any of its components. Granting that such systems exist in organisms (which is still a topic for debate), evolution still is on sound footing since IC systems actually could be formed from an incremental evolutionary process. Consider an IC system, call it ABC, with A, B and C as its components. Removing any of these would cause the system to be non-functional by definition. However, this ignores the fact that components can be removed from a system by evolutionary processes as well as added. Consider another component D, which performs the same function as ABC, but less efficiently. Starting with D, it's possible that system AD could have evolved, which is better at the function that D alone. Adding B and C in turn could improve that functionality and system ABCD would have evolved. At this point it's possible that ABC and ABCD could perform the function equally well. Since there's an energy cost to an organism for producing a component, organisms without D would be at an advantage to those with D, and organisms with system ABC could have evolved. I'm not saying that this in fact is what actually occurred. I am saying that this destroys the argument that it is IMPOSSIBLE to form IC systems by an evolutionary process.

    HAHAHAHA, more of the usual handwaving we get from Darwinists.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... and this comment shows the lie of the ID or creationist crowd.  The absurdity of even calling scientists "Darwinists" illustrates how poorly you understand biology.

    Your statement reflects your desire to stay willfully ignorant, so why not stop pretending that you ever intended anything else.  You aren't interested in science, but only desire to continue to promote your brand of magic.

    What gets so annoying is that you seem to take pride in your ignorance, and clearly have done NOTHING to gather other evidence or information.  Your entire approach is "faith-based".  You choose to belief a particular view against the evidence, and you've made my point precisely as to why such "beliefs" should be suspect when someone claims to be scientific.

    Thank you, as you've made my point.
    Mundus vult decipi
    There is a difference between evolution and natural selection. Christians and conservatives are not the only ones questioning natural selection. See: What Darwin Got Wrong, by two atheist scientists who believe in evolution but question the importance of the theory of natural selection to evolution (they do reject the possibility of intelligent design.

    However, there are some atheist scientists who didn't reject the possibility of intelligent design: See Russell Alfred Wallace (atheist), Sir Fred Hoyle (atheist), and Robert Jastrow (atheist) on the possibllity of intelligence being involved in either the creation of life (Wallace, Hoyle) or of the universe (Jastrow).

    Hank
    I don't know of any scientist who ever said natural selection and evolution were interchangeable or synonymous, the way you think they do.  Genetic drift, mutation, etc. obviously occur.  Are you sure you meant to include Wallace?  As a key guy in natural selection, claiming he did not accept it seems strange.
    Gerhard Adam
    What Darwin Got Wrong
    Yeah, but I'm more curious as to what these guys think they got right.  To date, I haven't seen a single thing that refutes natural selection.  Certainly there are changes in interpretation ranging through a variety of ideas (i.e. gene-centric views, kin selection, group selection, etc.).  However, none of these denies Darwin's theory.
    There is a difference between evolution and natural selection.
    Of course, but not in Darwin's theory.  Evolution had a history well before Darwin (and was accepted by virtually everyone), but Darwin formulated it within the context of natural selection, so when people talk about "evolution" or "Darwinism", they are explicitly referring to natural selection.
    However, there are some atheist scientists who didn't reject the possibility of intelligent design.
    That's true, but then they didn't offer any viable theories either.  Invoking specific individuals has no bearing, since that is simply an appeal to authority.

    The point remains.  There is no viable theory for intelligent design that doesn't involve accepting more suppositions than a biological theory without it.  So unless someone wants to articulate a scientific hypothesis that doesn't involve miracles or magic, there's nothing to discuss.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bacteria flagellum, Irreducible complexity. With the aid of electron microscopes, scientist can now look at a bacteria flagellum. It's quite clear that this organism is designed by an intelligent being. It has a rotor, a stator, a propeller, and many other very identifiable components, around 20. If any one of these components is not present, it will not function. This concept can also be clearly illustrated with a mouse trap. It has 5 components; a platform, a spring, a latch, a bar, a trigger. If any one of these components is missing, it will not work. The point is, evolution is impossible. Life is beyond complex. To believe in evolution, you would also have to believe that a tornado could rip thru a junk yard and leave behind a 747 jumbo jet.

    But regardless, the ones who are so educated that they can't entertain anything but evolution, will never get it. All life is a miracle. Isn't it interesting that the food we must have to survive, also tastes like a gift. God has revealed Himself, in the heavens, in your eyes, in the beauty that surrounds us all. And then there's electromagnetism, gravity, mathematics, music, nuclear physics. The more we learn, the more undeniable it becomes that everything exists by HIS word. Everything...is a miracle.

    "You think that your arm was at one time a fin,
    But what I want to know is, who gave you that grin,
    Your spirit is dead and you're blinded by sin,
    And I'm way over-fed with your shenanigans,
    I'm way over-fed with your lies.

    SPR

    Hank
    Bacteria flagellum, Irreducible complexity. With the aid of electron microscopes, scientist can now look at a bacteria flagellum. It's quite clear that this organism is designed by an intelligent being. 
    Well, no, what is clear is that that there are molecular systems inside of cells that even in principle could not have been produced by evolution, not that it was designed.

    You need to understand what irreducible complexity actually means before you can argue it on a science site. 
    Check my post above. I'm not an evolutionary biologist, but it seems to me that even an irreducibly complex system could arise by an evolutionary process if components of the system can be eliminated by evolution. I'm not saying that's how bacterial flagella actually evolved, but it's not impossible to imagine an evolutionary process leading to an irreducibly comples system.

    Hank
    I think you said it pretty well, actually!
    Gerhard Adam
    Consider the possibility that this is simply the wrong question.  It's like people arguing about how giraffes got their long neck.  They invariably ask the wrong question, because it suggests that evolution was trying to achieve some goal.
    http://health.adelaide.edu.au/Pharm/Musgrave/essays/Chapter_5_Musgrave.pdf

    I'm sure you've seen individuals that were born without arms and how they've adapted to use their feet for many things.  In some cases, there are people capable of painting, etc. using just their feet.  Now suppose that such a characteristic was fully heritable and that their offspring would also be born without arms.  At which point in some future generation would we marvel at how feet are so wonderfully adapted to write and paint with?
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/agent-orange3.htm

    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, no, what is clear is that that there are molecular systems inside of cells that even in principle could not have been produced by evolution, not that it was designed.
    What ?!?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    The irreducible complexity argument is that molecular systems inside cells are irreducibly complex - without all of their parts, it is a non-functional system. Without all of the parts there is nothing functional for natural selection to act on.

    What's the ?!? in that?  You have a better explanation?
    Gerhard Adam
    It sounded like you were advocating in favor of irreducible complexity.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Well, no, I was stating what his argument actually should have been, if he knew what he was doing.   I don't think it is still used any more, but maybe it is.
    I'm more of a statistics guy, so I approach this from a slightly different angle, but here goes:

    In order for life to exist, a planet needs a decent supply of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. It can't be too hot or too cold, since water has to be able to shift between liquid and vapor (and preferably ice at times as well), so the planet needs to be just the right distance from a star that is neither too big nor too small (it has to hold the planet in orbit and give it some energy, but not tear it apart with gravity) and emits light in about the right spectrum - too much UV or x-rays and it kills everything, too much infra-red and it cooks it. The star also has to be really, really, stable, since it can't just have a big solar flare or it would kill all life in an instant. Of course, that planet also needs a moon, neither too big nor too small, to stir things up and stabilize the orbit, but without wrecking the system of day/night (a big moon would mess up rotation). And, since there's a lot flying around in the solar system, you need big planets further out to help catch big comets or asteroids, since a massive impact could destroy a planet. Of course, the planet has to be just the right size, too, since if it were too big you couldn't have bigger lifeforms (too much gravity), and if it's too small it couldn't hold an atmosphere. Oh, and it has to have a giant, molten iron core, since it has to help block cosmic rays and needs some good electromagnetic fields for that. And, of course, this solar system can't be too near the center of a galaxy or universe, since that's too active and it might collide with another galaxy or solar system. Oh, and don't forget the basic laws of physics - if we didn't have all these delightful forces that allow chemistry and movement - and allow this complexity (just imagine if subatomic attraction were a bit more potent - boom, no orbiting electrons and no chemical interactions to achieve a nice balanced set of valence electrons, and thus no life), then of course you can't even get the ball rolling.

    OK, you get the point (and I could go on and on and on). There are a lot of factors, and we need these to have a system that can support evolution in the first place, hence the fact that we're not running into other intelligent life all over the place (or if it is out there, it's very, very rare, and hence we don't have any real documented contact with it).

    Now, yes, there are lots and lots of planets, but when I consider the number of factors that must be in place, I can compare two options. On the one hand, I can posit that this extraordinarily improbable event - the existence of a world, complete with physical laws, capable of not only sustaining complex life but in which such life also, randomly and purposelessly, evolved, and on the other hand I posit that some form of intelligence or consciousness caused this universe to manifest itself and caused such life to evolve in it, or at least created such a system. It would be hard to quantify the probability of either of these, but statistically speaking, the probability that this serendipitous confluence of factors is not random seems to far outweigh the probability that it is.

    Flip a coin 100000 times. (Or better yet, use a computer program to simulate flipping a coin 100000 times). The odds of you getting that precise sequence of heads and tails that you did are probably on about the same order of magnitude as the probabilities that you are dismissing in your post. Are you seriously saying that you believe that your sequence of heads and tails was not random, but rather the result of the intervention of some intelligent designer?

    That's a deductive fallacy, as I'm comparing the probability of random versus non-random for a specific desired outcome, not simply one of many possible outcomes. I believe we can all agree that 1) the world does exist and we are in fact in it, and 2) generally, if given the choice between existing and not existing, we'd prefer to exist, so therefore the fact that we do is generally a good thing.

    Thus, a more reasonable coin flipping comparison would be to say that, given the choice, I'd prefer that over 100,000 flips every even numbered flip is heads and every odd numbered flip is tails, and that, in fact, I achieved that outcome versus all the other possible (and far more likely) outcomes. That probability is infinitesimally small, as is the probability of our world existing (the desired outcome), and yet it does, versus all the more likely scenarios in which I either flipped some other coin sequence or our world did not exist (the probability, if random, of having nothing whatsoever is far greater).

    On top of that, there's basic Newtonian physics with which your "random" theory must contend. Objects in a state of uniform motion tend to remain in that state unless acted upon by an outside force, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If we posit that, initially, there was nothing, or there were things but they were not moving (ie the singularity), then something had to get them moving. Whatever initiated that movement must itself have had existence or energy prior to the initiation of movement that we discern as a world full of things moving through time. That something is God or whatever you'd like to call it (while I do think there is some kind of higher power, I do not profess to have any idea what it is or what it wants, if anything, I simply find it a more plausible explanation than randomness). You could alternatively posit that the world is, always has been, and always will be, but you've neglected to explain how or why, and simply accept that it is random that the desirable outcome did in fact occur rather than the more probable undesirable outcomes. So, again, the probability that there is actually some type of meaning, purpose, or intelligence to the whole thing is far greater than the probability that it is, in fact, simply random.

    Gerhard Adam
    So, again, the probability that there is actually some type of meaning, purpose, or intelligence to the whole thing is far greater than the probability that it is, in fact, simply random.
    Based on what?  The surrounding universe provides screaming testimony to how improbable life is (at least at this point).  According to your argument, then every lottery winner must consider their event as being miraculous, since they were each subject to huge probabilities against their winning.  However, the probability isn't supported simply by a singular event, but by all the events that didn't occur, which is a demonstration of the likelihood of something happening.

    To the lottery winner, just as to the planet that gives rise to life.  The probability is ONE.  Your argument might have merit in considering the probability of life on other planets, but it is irrelevant on this one.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    It would be hard to quantify the probability of either of these, but statistically speaking, the probability that this serendipitous confluence of factors is not random seems to far outweigh the probability that it is.
    A classic mistake.  You can't arbitrarily pick some point and then question the probability of having arrived at that point.  It's an absurd approach.  What are the probabilities that your parents would've met, and that they would've precisely produced you (and of course all your ancestors with their attendant risks of surviving), and then that you happened to live in a time when the technology was such that it could support something like the internet and computers, etc. etc. etc. 

    The point is that your typing that post had nothing to do with those probabilities, since that was never a required outcome.

    Probability means nothing, unless it is used to make a prediction.  Once an event occurs, then it has a probability of one.  To discuss anything else, is simply irrelevant.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    In order for life to exist, a planet needs a decent supply of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. It can't be too hot or too cold, since water has to be able to shift between liquid and vapor (and preferably ice at times as well), so the planet needs to be just the right distance from a star that is neither too big nor too small (it has to hold the planet in orbit and give it some energy
    This is the same anthropic problem other commenters have run into.  What you mean is, 'in order for life as we know it to be duplicated to where it is today' we would have this miracle of statistical wonderment.  And you are right.

    The fact is, if any of those things were different, we may still life, it would just be different, and certainly could be elsewhere.
    I believe that a significant presence of free oxygen was a later development. But I don't know if you were refering to the mere presence of oxygen or free oxygen in the atmosphere. Also don't forget the need for a planet about the size and relative position of Jupiter to suck up most of the debris in a solar system.

    Hank
    Right, but the GOE was just a step in creating life as we are, not life.   It's not good logic, much less science, to compute the odds of us ending up where we are any more than computing the odds of you waking up this morning and typing that comment on a keyboard - since you already know it happened, but you had many ways for your day to evolve, the odds are in the trillions you would type that comment.  Yet obviously it was not a 1 in a trillion chance you would use a computer.
    My problem with Darwinian evolution is very basic. The claim is that new species are the result of a series of small changes (mutations) that eventually result in a new species; but that makes no sense. The definition of a species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. So how does this mutation thing work? Every mutation is either pert of the parent species or not. If it 's part of the parent species it's progeny is will also be part of the parent species. if it's not part of the parent species than what does that mutation breed with to continue the new species? It can't breed with members of the parent species because it is no longer part of that species. The only logical candidate for breeding would be another mutation of the same type; and that seems like a very, very unlikely event.

    My other logical argument against evolution is similar to Paley's watchmaker argument. Most people would agree that living organisms are many times more complex than a wristwatch. Use whatever factor of complexity you like; say a living organism is 1000 times more complex that a wristwatch. If that is true we would expect to find a thousand objects as complex as a wristwatch for every life form we find when we search for life on other planets.if life results from the random interaction of inorganic materials. Strangely i think most people who believe in evolution think it's more likely that we would find a living organism on Mars than an object a complex as a watch.

    Gerhard Adam
    The claim is that new species are the result of a series of small changes (mutations) that eventually result in a new species; but that makes no sense.
    Of course it does.  How do you think you got a Poodle or German Shepherd from a wolf? 
    It can't breed with members of the parent species because it is no longer part of that species. The only logical candidate for breeding would be another mutation of the same type; and that seems like a very, very unlikely event.
    That's a fallacy.  It is generally assumed that only members of the same species can breed, but that isn't true.  This is precisely what gives rise to hybrids (many of which are sterile, but even that isn't absolute).  So if we consider mules, and Tigons, and Ligers, then we already see that the cross-species prohibition about reproduction doesn't hold. 

    Certainly one can argue that such hybrids have reduced fitness, but I'm only pointing it out as an extreme example rather than suggesting it as a means by which species originate.
    My other logical argument against evolution is similar to Paley's watchmaker argument.
    I'm continuously amazed by this argument.  In it, the assumption is that organisms are so complex and so "well-designed" that the only explanation can be a creator that is even more sophisticated and more "well-designed" to have created it.  How exactly does this make any kind of sense?
    The only logical candidate for breeding would be another mutation of the same type; and that seems like a very, very unlikely event.
    That occurs only when you assume that mutations are the only causes of change.  They aren't.  In the first place, mutations occur all the time, but most tend to not do anything.  There are certainly harmful mutations, but equally there may be beneficial mutations.  Part of the problem is that people assume that a gene translates into an explicit trait, instead of recognizing that many of these cover a range of potentials.  For example, you might possess the genes of a marathon runner, but if you don't ever exercise for a marathon, then they are irrelevant and they will simply pass into the population at random (and could be lost).  However, if suddenly the environment changed to where your ability to run directly favored your survival (and it was a heritable trait), then future generations would gain the benefit of that gene.  This could occur for hundreds of traits that aren't even visible (i.e. lung capacity, heart stamina, liver functions, etc.). 

    ======================================

    Also, the distinction you're making about reproduction (between species) doesn't require some reproductive mutation to distinguish species (since that's just a human classification system).  It is safe to say that a Saint Bernard is not capable of reproducing with a Pomeranian.  Therefore, over time, whatever genetic changes occurred in either breed could readily result in a biological basis for being incapable of breeding beyond the mere difference in size.  In other words, there is no longer any means by which the genes between the two breeds can be "shared" or "averaged" out. 

    There is also the issue of historical precedence, where natural selection can only work with what it has.  It can't attempt to "design" some solution.  This understanding is necessary to avoid silly arguments like why doesn't a dog become a fish or a bird.  Certain evolutionary "paths" cannot be undone, so whatever there is to work with, is what must be selected for.  If the environment or stresses are too extreme, the animal will likely go extinct.




    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    The claim is that new species are the result of a series of small changes (mutations) that eventually result in a new species; but that makes no sense. The definition of a species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. So how does this mutation thing work?
    You're confusing individuals with populations. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    From Dictionary.com:

    "Medical Dictionary ...Dar·win·ism definition
    Pronunciation: /ˈdär-wə-ˌniz-əm/
    Function: n
    : a theory of the origin and perpetuation of new species of animals and plants that offspring of a given organism vary, that natural selection favors the survival of some of these variations over others, that new species have arisen and may continue to arise by these processes, and that widely divergent groups of plants and animals have arisen from the same ancestors
    broadly : a theory of biological evolution
    Dar·win·ist Pronunciation: /-wə-nəst/
    Function: noun or adj "

    Hank
    That is a fine working definition, though sort of silly on a science site.  Why do you post it?  Is there a hidden subtext in there?
    Gerhard Adam
    I think Hank is being kind.  That's not the definition of much of anything, any more than a Newtonist is someone that accepts the laws of motion.  Should we go about naming ourselves as "believers" of various scientists?

    If you can't be bothered to articulate the theory in question, then attaching it to an individual scientist is disingenuous and attempts to turn the argument into religion instead of science.  The Theory of Natural Selection was articulated by Charles Darwin and has served as the basis by which much research and work has occurred.  However, to call someone a Darwinist ... is simply preposterous.

    It simply allows for the use of all manner of "ist" terms as if to convey legitimacy on the ridiculous. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I wrote: “There is a difference between evolution and natural selection. Christians and conservatives are not the only ones questioning natural selection.”

    The reason I wrote that is because two atheist scientists, Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarinin, the authors of the book, What Darwin Got Wrong, both believe in evolution but question the importance of the theory of natural selection to evolution. I also noted that they both reject the possibility of intelligent design.

    I added: “However, there are some atheist scientists who didn't reject the possibility of intelligent design” including Russell Alfred Wallace (atheist)…” (Sorry, mixed his first and middle name up.) Yes, I am sure I want to include Wallace, who can be taken as an expert on evolution, since he said, "[A] superior intelligence has guided the development of man in a definite direction, and for a special purpose."

    Gerhard Adam
    I understand, but their views are irrelevant if there is no alternative hypothesis being advanced.  In particular, I've heard nothing but criticisms against their ideas, so I don't see that they are saying anything new.

    By attempting to question "natural selection" they are arguing that Darwin is completely wrong and that requires a bit more work than these guys have put into it.  In addition, your point about scientists that allow for the possibility of "intelligent design" ... once again ... I don't see that this means anything. 
    Yes, I am sure I want to include Wallace, who can be taken as an expert on evolution, since he said, "[A] superior intelligence has guided the development of man in a definite direction, and for a special purpose."
    Well you mixed up his name again.  It is Alfred Russel Wallace and if you want to find out what he actually said, then perhaps you should read this link.
    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/did-alfred-russel-wallace-believe-in-intelligent-design/

    Bear in mind that Wallace also believed in seances and communicating with spirits.  That doesn't make it so.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Yes, I am sure I want to include Wallace, who can be taken as an expert on evolution, since he said, "[A] superior intelligence has guided the development of man in a definite direction, and for a special purpose."
    Oh, we are playing that game.  So when Jefferson wrote "the laws of nature and of nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence he was arguing for a theocracy in the USA and deism at that.  Fair enough.  Quote mining is cool.
    Hank Campbell wrote: “That is a fine working definition, though sort of silly on a science site. Why do you post it? Is there a hidden subtext in there?”

    Well, it is a definition from a medical dicitonary. Doesn’t that make it an acceptable term to use on a science site? Why then wouldn't I post it? Since you seem to be the mind reader, why don't you tell me what you think the subtext is?

    Hank
    I didn't know what the point was so I thought I would ask, it seemed like a waste of time.  Turning it back on me and saying "why don't you tell me what you think the subtext is?", when we all just basically want to know if you are some attentionwhore posting meaningless comments, is as pointless as posting a generic, simplistic definition in the first place.
    Gerhard Adam
    As I've posted elsewhere.  A dictionary simply defines word usage.  It is not a source for scientific query.  I'm sure the dictionary also defines ghosts, but that doesn't make them real.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The author seems to know much about how science is used in the political world. So, I took away from the article, the author is frustrated that not enough scientists vote republican. Insulting scientists by associating them with militant atheists will not win them over. The way that politics has cornered scientists is embarrassing. Take global warming. The global warming data is derived from simulated experiments. All scientists understand this. The result is not known. Complaints from the right to stop funding going to legitimate study of this is ridiculous, considering the risk if we don't fully know the answer. Screaming that the end of the world is coming unless you do as I say, is also ridiculous.

    Science is not only a tool for understanding our surroundings, it is also a tools used to exaggerate and deceive. Very similar to religion. ying yang thing maybe.

    Hank
    I think for the good of science scientists need to be more politically agnostic.  As I have said before, as the racial and gender demographics of science academia have diversified, political diversity has collapsed into practically an echo chamber.  If any constituency is perceived as being in the bag for a party they get taken for granted by one and ignored by the other.

    Funding has become a political football because scientists have gotten political.  Bush doubled funding for the NIH but he is regarded by academics as being anti-science - including by the biologists who got the 2X funding.  That leaves science in a feast or famine situation depending on who is in power if they become more political assets than public ones.  James Hansen is getting arrested in protests at the White House - that does not look good for scientists who are supposed to be trusted guides for the public.
    I really don't see scientists as the problem here. Politicians and political hacks are the echo chamber. At a fundamental level, scientists don't care what science gets funded, as long as the appropriate amount of the budget is applied to science. Society has to determine which science gets funded, and only an educated society can make appropriate decisions concerning this. The way politicians can use false science, or misrepresent science, to pursued the public to an agenda shows a lack of education in this country. Both parties play to this. Scientists need to get involved in politics in order to point out the misrepresentation of the science.

    Hank
    Sure, but the misrepresentation noting is only happening about one side - how many scientists take to the Internet to complain about animal activists, GMO activists, anti-vaccine people, etc.?  None, because they all vote Democrat too and that is the problem.

    If science were the goal, misrepresentations from both sides would get attention.   Oddly, science gets funded more every year, even when Republicans have Congress and the presidency, which would not be the case if Republicans actually disliked science.   In radio, conservatives rule and on the Internet, progressives rule.
    I disagree that both parties play to this. The Democrats have a huge advantage in having the mainstream media on their side. The whole point of the question to Perry and the reason this is getting so much press is due to an effort to make him look stupid for being a Christian. The media has to keep these kinds of attacks going because otherwise the news on the front page is going to be such things as Obama's failed economic policies and how his signature healthcare law is unpopular by a 40-60 margin. There only hope is to attack the Republican front runner any way they can. If scientists come to the conclusion that Rick Perry will pursue a pro-business agenda so their friends and family can find jobs, are they really going to vote against him because he believes in creationism?

    It is also one-sided regarding the level of intimidation the Democrats and liberals inflict on the scientific community with their scorched earth tactics against anyone who has a scientific study they disagree with. Take this recent CERN study as an example. No matter what your thoughts are on global warming, it is disconcerting to see a director at such a prestigious organization tell his scientists to downplay their results and not to draw conclusions based on their scientific evidence because of fear of political backlash. This type of episode only happens on one side. Intimidation and smear campaigns are tools of the Left. Give me an example of scientists soft-pedaling their results because of fear of backlash on the Right. It is the Left who are truly anti-science by shouting down anyone who disagrees with them.

    If scientists come to the conclusion that Rick Perry will pursue a pro-business agenda so their friends and family can find jobs, are they really going to vote against him because he believes in creationism?

    -------------------

    Yes, we will vote against him. Somebody who doesn't not understand the world around him is not fit to lead. Things would only get worse.

    --------------------
    Take this recent CERN study as an example. No matter what your thoughts are on global warming, it is disconcerting to see a director at such a prestigious organization tell his scientists to downplay their results and not to draw conclusions based on their scientific evidence because of fear of political backlash.

    -----------------------
    The key word is "not to draw conclusions"..... The data set is incomplete. That is good science. You and your political hack friends are trying to make it look like a political move. You just gave an an example of backlash from the right...
    -------------------------

    The whole point of the question to Perry and the reason this is getting so much press is due to an effort to make him look stupid for being a Christian.

    ______________

    If it's that easy to make him look stupid, well....

    Maybe there is a reason they all vote democrat. The lines have been drawn, and the way the political divide treats one another these days, the lines get deeper. Like I said, insulting scientists will not win over hearts and minds. This is true on any subject of political debate.

    But I don't think science funding is a big problem because the leaders of both parties understand what science brings to the table ---- money. The problem is that some science is twisted so that it does not interfere with the making of the money. - and we all know who likes the making of the money. Scientists would have more respect for the debate if they were honest and told us that a strong economy outweighs the need for clean water supply, or clean air to breathe. We can understand this. But then again, we all know how people would vote then....

    Hank
    Maybe there is a reason they all vote democrat.
    This is classic mapping of data to fit a cultural topology.   It may be true, of course, but if you put black people or women in your sentence, virtually no one in those demographics will agree with it - and the numbers of Republicans in US science academia and academia in general are far, far lower than any minority in science, except maybe native Americans or Maori tribesmen or whatever.  If a progressive demographic was nearly 50% of the US population but single digit percents in academia, there would be billions spend on outreach.
    What is your point? I would think you would want to have academia as a friend of your party. (I think you would prefer this too..) Why wouldn't you want to have a group of people that strive to do research and give you the best possible answers your looking for? Or would you prefer your party to refer to the church for answers? There was a time in history when this happened, and it was called "The Dark Ages".

    In politics, image is everything - as my fox friends say. The republican party has the image of the party of the religious. And with this image, the cultural and social guidelines are unshakeable. The unshakeable social guidelines are now mirrored by unshakeable fiscal policies. Having a religious fervor for the way you live your life is fine, but for financial ideology, this is a problem. This is too bad, because the republican party has some very smart fiscal policies that should be used. Not all of them, but most. But this religious heat surrounding the financial crisis gives us two options: take everything, or take nothing. This is will lead to failure, and scientists know this. That is why they fight the republicans.

    Gerhard Adam
    I don't think it matters.  This country is having a love affair with the dumbest and dullest individuals because they think they're "nice people".  As a result, anyone that looks like they might cause some stress to one's brain cells, is shunned and the general populace is quite content to proceed with "feel good" messages and idiotic proclamations.

    When an electorate can consistently vote against its own best interests, there literally is nothing to be done.  It will run its course, and let's simply hope that they don't decimate the country in the process of pursuing this idiocy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Some people take comfort in knowing there is a blanket of protection over them. You may think they are voting against their self interest, but they enjoy the protection that a employer gives them. In exchange for a relatively easy life, they get to be employed, and maybe retire when they are old. They have no need for progressive ideals, because they are outside the boundary lines that they have given themselves. But this situation is pretty much gone and people are angry. Politicians love to have a nice big group of angry people that are scared, vulnerable, and looking for someone to blame. A successful politicians will think "Which angry mob do we want to use to squash the other political party" The even better politicians will create the anger, so that they have a mob ready to go. Happens all the time. But the worrisome thing now, is that the angry mob is pretty big.

    Hank
    But the worrisome thing now, is that the angry mob is pretty big.
    Not compared to the 1960s.  There are no riots and no one trashing the Democratic convention any time soon.  Then there were angry mobs with a sense of entitlement and middle class parents who could afford their indolence.  At least the legacy of that period has insured no one now has enough money to have time to take to the streets.  Except college students, but even their hearts aren't in it.
    Gerhard Adam
    What comfort?  What imbecile is out there voting to increase taxes on themselves while protecting the tax rates of the rich?  This is what people support.

    They want to defend corporations, while those same employers ship their jobs overseas.  They hate unions, so then they complain when they have no protections.

    People aren't angry.  They're stupid.  Instead of embracing real change, they keep screaming about cutting spending.  They're too dumb to realize that the spending that will be cut, is that which they directly benefit from. 

    Don't get me wrong.  I'm not suggesting that carte blanche entitlements are good, nor that spending cuts are bad.  But presumably, the system works when people look out for their own best interests, and then compromise to achieve objectives.  However, when people are willing to cut their own throats ... there's nothing to negotiate.  It's precisely why most politicians feel comfortable digging their heels in over silly issues, instead of solving problems.  They already know the electorate won't do anything about it.

    After all, what can you say about an electorate that is so stupid, that they have to pass laws to prevent themselves from re-electing the same people every election day (i.e. term limits).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    "People aren't angry. They're stupid. Instead of embracing real change, they keep screaming about cutting spending. They're too dumb to realize that the spending that will be cut, is that which they directly benefit from". I have to totally agree with you Gerhard, cutting spending is like someone cutting off their nose to spite their face, without spending most economies will inevitably collapse.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    But this isn't about 'spending', it's about our debt. No individual can overspend their family budget like the US government has and not suffer badly for it.
    Never is a long time.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Debt is not a problem if there is a manageable repayment plan, that is how most people buy their first houses, by taking on a debt or mortgage and paying it back over many years instead of just renting.
     
    If people took on mortgages and decided that instead of paying it back over 20 or 25 years while they were earning an income, raising a family, taking vacations and having a good standard of living and quality of life, they would pay it back as soon as possible by living a very frugal lifestyle for 5 to 10 years, while their children were still children, then they would be cutting off their noses to spite their faces in my opinion. Their children would have been experiencing an unnecessarily poor standard of living and quality of life in those vital and memorable years. 

    If the majority of people did this then the capitalist economy would suffer serious consequences, businesses would fail to thrive, jobs would be lost and many of the people paying off their mortgages would then have their houses repossessed for not being able to make the payments. 

    The alternative is for people to have no debt by not taking on mortgages and instead pay rent all their lives, then reach old age with no significant assets to help with their retirement or for their children to inherit. So debt in a capitalist economy can be good and overspending can be bad, but only if overspending prevents people from making their debt repayments and then having their assets repossessed and being overly frugal can also cause serious problems. I guess its all about 'la balance' as the French are always saying.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    The debt is now about 14x annual tax revenues. Not many families operate anywhere near that much, and if they did credit card co's would bleed them dry.
    Never is a long time.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Yes, maybe that translates into a poor front end ratio  but maybe also the difference is that the American government can make and print money unlike a person with a house mortgage. 
    Lenders use what is called a front-end ratio, which is reflected as a percentage of your gross monthly income. The front-end ratio signifies the payment a buyer can reasonably afford, from a lender's point of view. You may prefer a lower payment.The front-end ratio for a FHA loan is 31%. For a conforming conventional loan, the front-end ratio is 33%. This means if your monthly gross income is $4,000, to qualify for the maximum FHA loan, your monthly principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) payment can not exceed $1,240. 
    I read somewhere that America's debt is primarily to China, I'm not sure if that's true? If it is then I wonder if the Chinese would even care if America just printed the money to pay them back, after all the US is still the world's leading economy, so the American dollar has enormous international value and is always the currency in highest demand whenever I travel overseas to Asian countries.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    Just printing money reduces the value of the currency.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ... but maybe also the difference is that the American government can make and print money unlike a person with a house mortgage.
    Actually as was mentioned, you can't simply print money since that dilutes the value of the circulating money and creates runaway inflation.

    However, what the government can (and does) do is to raise taxes.  Currently the argument is about cutting spending to avoid raising taxes.  However, in truth, the only spending that will be cut is that targeted to U.S. citizens.  No government contracts will be canceled.  We won't stop paying civilian companies military contracts (both as mercenaries and as in-country work forces).  

    In short, the projects, subsidies, and welfare programs that continue to enrich the wealthy and corporations will continue to be funded.  However, you can look to hear the diatribes against those lazy people in poverty as the cause of all our fiscal troubles.
    http://www.progress.org/banneker/cw.html

    Of course, you'll also hear about how deserving all these wealthy individuals and companies are, because we are beholden to them for the few jobs we have remaining.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    ..but maybe also the difference is that the American government can make and print money unlike a person with a house mortgage.
    Just printing money reduces the value of the currency.
    Actually as was mentioned, you can't simply print money since that dilutes the value of the circulating money and creates runaway inflation.
    If you owe trillions of dollars then surely it is to your advantage to reduce the value of the currency and create runaway inflation, then you owe less in real terms and can pay it back more easily, you can also export more competitively and this will create jobs. This United States public debt article at Wiki explains how it is the Governments like China that you are paying back the debt to, who may not be very pleased about this devaluation and runaway inflation and may try to demand higher interest rates :- 
    Based on the 2010 U.S. budget, total national debt will nearly double in dollar terms between 2008 and 2015 and will grow to nearly 100% of GDP, versus a level of approximately 80% in early 2009. Multiple government sources including the current and previous presidents, the GAO, Treasury Department, and CBO have said the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path. As the debt ratio increases, the exchange value of the dollar may fall. Paying back debt with cheaper currency could cause investors (including other governments) to demand higher interest rates if they anticipate further dollar depreciation. 
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I just also read that the US Long-Term Treasury Debt held by foreign states figures are results of comprehensive Treasury Department surveys. As of January 2011, foreigners owned $4.45 trillion of U.S. debt, or approximately 47% of the debt held by the public of $9.49 trillion and 32% of the total debt of $14.1 trillion. The largest holders were the central banks of China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Brazil. The share held by foreign governments has grown over time, rising from 13% of the public debt in 1988 to 25% in 2007. Mainland China also owns 21.6% of US Treasury Securities. What I don't understand is how did this all come about? We are buying cheap products from China made by workers earning $1 a day who live in factory dormitories and have very few holidays, rights or assets, could this be something to do with the problem possibly?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    If you owe trillions of dollars then surely it is to your advantage to reduce the value of the currency and create runaway inflation, then you owe less in real terms and can pay it back more easily, you can also export more competitively and this will create jobs.
    Doesn't work that way.  While it can certainly do what you've indicated for the immediate problem, the result is that the value of your dollar plunges (especially against other currencies).  This also means that it becomes easier for foreign competitors to come in and simply buy you up (i.e. your companies, etc. are all of lesser value). 

    In addition, it decimates your internal economy since the dollar essentially becomes valueless, so unless you fancy spending thousands of dollars for a loaf of bread, the immediate benefit to your national debt is quickly lost by destroying your economy for years to come.

    You'd achieve the same thing with fewer internal consequences by simply defaulting on the debt.  However, that also decimates your economy (and who knows how many other countries) since no one will trust you to do business with in the future. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well referring back to that article it looks as though there is a strong possibility that spiralling inflation and devaluation of the dollar could happen regardless, if the right policies aren't put in place, whatever they are? I still don't understand how the US managed to develop such a high debt to China though.
    The Office of Management and Budget forecasts that, by the end of fiscal year 2012, gross federal debt will total $16.3 trillion. 
    CBO estimated in August 2011 that if laws currently "on the books" were enforced without changes, meaning the "extended baseline scenario" described above is implemented along with deficit reductions from the Budget Control Act of 2011, the deficit would decline from 8.5% GDP in 2011 to around 1% GDP by 2021.
    The "alternative fiscal scenario" more closely assumes the continuation of present trends, such as permanently extending the Bush tax cuts, restricting the reach of the AMT, and keeping Medicare reimbursement rates at the current level (the so-called "Doc Fix" versus declining by one-third as mandated under current law.) Revenues are assumed to remain around the historical average 18% GDP. Under this scenario, public debt rises from 69% GDP in 2011 to 100% by 2021 and approaches 190% by 2035.
    The CBO reported: "Many budget analysts believe that the alternative fiscal scenario presents a more realistic picture of the nation’s underlying fiscal policies than the extended-baseline scenario does. The explosive path of federal debt under the alternative fiscal scenario underscores the need for large and rapid policy changes to put the nation on a sustainable fiscal course."

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    It's not difficult when you give away billions of dollars to corporations and then turn around and finance two wars for years and years. 

    Top that off with tax cuts when you can least afford to give them and you have a "debt crisis".
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I know this is a sore point with some people, but why do spending cuts always come up after the government spends billions (and even trillions) on programs that no one really supports?  For example, the financial bail-outs occurred despite no general support and now those same financial institutions have a strangehold on credit which is dragging down the economy.  In the second place, we never seem to worry about costs when it comes to engaging in international adventures, despite no clear plan on how they are to be financed, nor even in having a reasonable exit strategies.  So this becomes a financial drain for years still to come.

    However, despite this increase in expenditures, we then go out of our way to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals despite a struggling economy and a need for more revenue.  This is excused by arguing that this will "create jobs" despite the fact that no job has ever been created by tax refunds (or simply having cash on hand).  Jobs are created by demand and giving money to the one sector that has little or no demand is about the dumbest thing one can propose in economics.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    For example, the financial bail-outs occurred despite no general support and now those same financial institutions have a strangehold on credit which is dragging down the economy.
    To the tune of $2,300 more in added debt for every man, woman and child in the US, without interest payments.
    MikeCrow
    I think there was a lot of people who didn't like the idea before they started giving out money.

    As for the 'adventures', I think that's one area the Gov shouldn't worry too much about spending money on, it's one of their main jobs, defense. Now I understand we could probably argue for hours about the need of those recent adventures, IMO it was trash that needed taking care of, and I'll presume you think differently(and that's okay).

    Basically the polling shows many people are in favor of taking more taxes from people who make more money than they do, and they want to pay less. But those people already pay more taxes, and the wealthiest already pay most of the taxes collected. I don't see anything fair about wanting them to pay more, just because the Government spends too much.

    When the economy is doing well, the current tax rates bring in plenty of money, but the current admin has been on an anti-business/anti-wealthy binge, and smart people hold on to their capital when they're not sure about the future. Why would you risk large sums of money on a business (say hiring more people(remember the wealthy hire a lot of people in the us)) when your not sure about the economy, the gov has run up your costs (healthcare), and you're afraid that tax rates are going up which will eating the remainder of your profits. Or you can take that money invest in some funds and make 3-5%.

    You risk a million that you might end up losing, or invest it and make a profit?
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...remember the wealthy hire a lot of people in the us...
    That's simply not true.  The wealthy hire virtually no one.  Hiring occurs only for businesses when there is a demand, so providing additional money to the wealthy does nothing to increase demand.  In addition, most of the jobs created are from small businesses, most of whom are not wealthy, so that example simply doesn't hold true.
    But those people already pay more taxes, and the wealthiest already pay most of the taxes collected.
    Of course, they do since they have most of the money.  If you control 98% of the wealth, why would you not expect to pay 98% of the taxes?  What kind of reasoning is that?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Where do you think businesses get the money they use to operate with?

    Investors.

    Sure small businesses do a lot of hiring, and you don't think a lot of them fall into the the $250,000 and above category?
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...you don't think a lot of them fall into the the $250,000 and above category
    Define that "category"?  If you mean gross earnings, then certainly but that doesn't mean anything because most of that money can go right out the door in wages, taxes, and expenses.  If you mean, $250,000 in personal take home pay for the owners, then I would say most are NOT in that category.
    Where do you think businesses get the money they use to operate with?
    You said "investors", but that isn't true.  It is profits.  That's why they are in business.  Investors are necessary for start-ups or when you're looking for outside financing on a project, but that isn't how you run a business. 

    I'm not sure why people hold investors up as some sort of standard for business.  Let's call it what it is.  Investors are LENDERS.  They not only expect to get their money back, but they expect to make a profit on the loan.  While they can play an important role in dealing with any financing that requires such a loan, it should be abundantly clear that they can contribute little or nothing to the day to day operations of a business.  Arguably, any business that does depend on investors for operational costs, is like a private consumer living on credit cards.  It's the beginning of the end.
    Mundus vult decipi
    rholley
    I hate to be drawn into this topic, but I think Hank, staunch defender of Republicanism that he is, should take a look at this British view on the subject:

    The slandering of the American conservative movement has begun


    so that he (Hank) may enlighten us here in Dear Old Blighty.


    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Hank
    Well, I defend fiscal conservatism - I have voted Republican 66% of the time, so slightly more than 50% and therefore not completely neutral, and I am registered Republican because there is no way to vote in a primary in California otherwise, but I don't defend Republicans.  The only chance Obama has of re-election is if the clowns opposing him actually get the nomination.

    Obama vowed in 2008 to undo the 'Reagan' mindset that government was bad - but faith in government is at the lowest point since they began statistically tracking it, so his method is wrong.  I noted Krugman's 'Republicans are anti-science' screed a few times, mostly because progressives coo any time someone with a reputation says what they want to hear and they must have fainted when an unintelligible suit like Krugman said Republicans hated science.

    The debate does seem to be around whether or not to raise taxes rather than the obvious - cut spending - so progressives are winning the media war.  Where they are losing is with the people, who long ago saw through media bias.

    I also made the point that while militant atheists regularly lambast Republicans for being too religious, not a single Democrat denies creationism.  Again, that never makes it into the media.
    MikeCrow
    Ironically I'm a registered Democrat, been one since I registered in 76.

    But find their ideas on commerce, taxes and personal responsibility idiotic, So I've mostly voted Republican.
    Never is a long time.
    "and the science was invented to try and have an alternative view." where do you get that from? Maybe Perry meant that, but if you're implying that that is how creationists think, it would be wrong. I can't tell what you believe since you said you've not met any anti-science religious people (theists?) but say you know they are out there. You do know that there is scientific based creationism right? And Christians who believe in Genesis based on all kinds of evidence, including so called scientific. It's also a misnomer that only scientists can be scientific or that science and religion aren't compatible, or that no scientist is religious or few (one poll says that 40 percent of scientists are religious), or that the Bible has nothing to do with science and isn't scientific (Michio Kaku said it is scientific), or that the masses aren't scientists, just some people somewhere out there who practice it regularly. Actually most people are "scientists" if you define it as people who use the naturalistic scientist method, hypothesize, test, test again, record result. Everyone wonders if something is good or not, tests it, then records the result either mentally or in some written or audio form. People do that all the time. You don't need a white lab coat, an indiana jones outfit, or a chalk in your hand, or beakers around you do be a scientist. Science isn't the exclusive field of atheists or evolutionists. It's something that's done by people with common sense. Even animals investigate, test something, and if they don't get the result they want, they stop trying and move on. If science was the exclusive field for atheists and evolutionists, the theists of the world would not have been able to build massive pyramids and move multi-ton stone blocks or make glass lenses or super-fine jewelry or melt a stone fortress into one solid piece and many other feats that we still haven't figured out how to do today without the use of millions of dollars of electronics and machinery.

    Hank
    I guess you are talking to me, since you quote my sentence in the article, but you don't seem to have read anything I wrote.  Intelligent Design is not science, regardless of what you think, it is instead mapping some aspects of science to a sectarian world view.   Obviously religious people are not the only ones who do it, Greenpeace and lots of other groups do it as well.

    You then go on to tell us we don't know what science is and call it "so called scientific" so you really dislike science quite a bit, which is your choice but don't pretend it is anything else.  Not all engineering is science, not all learning is science, not all experimentation is science.  What can religion predict?  If it can't, it isn't science.   Your confusion about the distinction between engineering and science is a big issue in understanding what science is and is not.
    Gerhard Adam
    Science isn't the exclusive field of atheists or evolutionists.
    Can you say the word "agenda"? 
    Mundus vult decipi