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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2006
Ptolemaic theory is not wrong
The famous astrophysicist Fred Hoyle wrote:
The relation of the two pictures [geocentricity and heliocentricity] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view ... . Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is “right” and the Ptolemaic theory “wrong” in any meaningful physical sense.
Hoyle is correct. In the 19th century, physicists were convinced by an argument involving Maxwell's equations that the universe had a preferred frame reference, and that the Ptolemaic theory was wrong. We now know that the 19th century argument was wrong.

For some reason, evolutionists always point to the Ptolemaic theory as being wrong. They argue that evolution is correct in the same way that the Copernican theory is correct. They are stuck in 19th century science. Here is a typical example, on Doug Linder's website:

3. To call evolution a "theory" says nothing about its ability to accurately explain facts observed in the world. The sun-centered solar system of Copernicus and Galileo is a theory. ...

8. It took over 200 years, but eventually the Catholic Church accepted the scientific evidence that the earth revolved around the sun. Eventually, most Fundamentalists will come to accept the theory of evolution as well--whether in 20 years or in 200 is hard to say. But it will happen. Facts are stubborn things.

His site is an excellent resource on famous trials, but he has some funny ideas about science. He could have just as well said that the Earth-centered theory of Ptolemy had an ability to accurately explain observed facts. The Catholic Church never rejected any scientific evidence.

George writes:

You are wrong. The Catholic Church did reject the heliocentric theory. It put Copernicus on the Index of Forbidden Books.
Copernicus published his famous book in 1543, with the endorsement of the Catholic Church. The Church put it on the Index in 1616, and 4 years later it said that nine sentences needed minor correction. No evidence was ever rejected; only certain conclusions. At the time, the Copernican model was no more accurate than other models, and the Church reasonably decided that some of his conclusions were unjustified. Many editors of scientific journals today similarly require changes to manuscripts before they can be published.

Monday, Jan 30, 2006
The Relative Longevity of Science Frauds
John sends this:
The fabricated evidence on human stem cells published by Hwang Woo-suk and colleagues had a life shorter than two years as scientific fact. In contrast, the infamous hominid remains of Piltdown Man announced in 1912 stood as real for nearly 40 years. ...

But clever forgery is partly why the Piltdown Man eluded detection for some 40 years, until technology and hypothesis-testing by scientists unequivocally disputed it.

As I showed here, the fraud of Piltman Man was apparently known to British evolutionists long before it was publicly exposed.

Sunday, Jan 29, 2006
More on defining evolution
A reader objects to my definitions of evolution below, saying that they don't adequately charactarize what most scientists mean by the term. They believe that evolution explains how one species can split into two, and that complex organisms did not spontaneously appear. Another possible meaning for the term might be somewhere in between meanings 2 and 3.

If I were defining evolution, I might define it as a gradual process of species splitting, but I deliberately stuck to definitions that are in common use by leading evolutionists. When evolutionists say that evolution is true or that evolution must be taught in school or that evolution is well-substantiated, then we need to know exactly what they are talking about.

I contend that evolutionary science has been co-opted by leftist-atheist-propagandists who trivialize evolution in order to promote their non-scientific agenda. They define evolution as just change, and then they claim it explains the diversity of life on Earth. They sound like proselytizers for the one true religion. I call it the evolutionist sleight-of-hand. They present some trivial principle that no one could deny, and then they claim that it explains everything. It even makes religion unnecessary, according to them.

George writes:

Your criticism of scientists is unfair. Biologists and other science advocates have had to dumb down the theory of evolution because of the attacks from the creationists. If we defined evolution as a potentially falsifiable theory, then creationists would say that it is only a theory, and propose testing the theory.

The fact is that life is here on Earth. Life evolved. That is the only scientific way to look at life. If it turned out that it didn't happen by mutation or natural selection or other Darwinist mechanisms, we would still say that life evolved. Anything else would violate the scientific method.

The fundamentalist creationist bigots are taking advantage of stupid people thinking that there are two sides to any controversy. They want evolutionists to make testable assertions, and then to debate the evidence. We can't fall for that trick because it undermines Science. Science brought us the Enlightment and freedom from superstitious religions. We can't go back to the days when people read the Bible in school. Scientists must hold firm on the idea that evolution is the only way to understand biology, even if it means giving silly definitions in textbooks.

Sometimes I think that evolutionists are more interested in propaganda than science.

Saturday, Jan 28, 2006
Schlafly book reviewed
NY Times Books reviewed Donald T. Critchlow's political biography of Phyllis Schlafly.
When it was approved by the House and Senate and sent to the states for ratification in March 1972, its success seemed assured. Thirty state legislatures ratified the amendment within a year. Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter all lent their support. Yet in 1982 the E.R.A. died, just a few states short of ratification. By then, it had become linked in the public mind with military conscription for 18-year-old girls, coed bathrooms and homosexual rights. That public relations coup was largely the work of one clever, charming, ambitious, energetic and forever ladylike woman: Phyllis Schlafly.

Schlafly has, for the better part of the past 50 years, been a one-woman right-wing communications empire.

Judith Warner's review gets a little weird after that. She suggests that Phyllis was un-Christian for supporting Barry Goldwater, and that she used anti-Jewish code words like "godless". Phyllis might have mentioned the godless commies, but not the Jews, because Jews believe in God. If anything, Warner is using anti-Jewish code words. Saying that it was un-Christian to support Goldwater sounds like a reference to the fact that Goldwater's father was Jewish.

Here is the Chicago Tribune review. It says:

But he seems strangely uninterested in some of the more obvious questions of Schlafly's life: How was it that a woman of relentless ambition, a woman who dedicated enormous energy to politics and public life, could carve out her identity opposing women's equality and celebrating the traditional housewife? And who, precisely, took care of her six children and cleaned her house while she was off doing it?

This last question, in particular, is not a voyeuristic aside but a matter of real political importance.

The answer is simple. Those six kids were raised by their parents, and a maid cleaned the house. I fail to see the "real political importance".

Meanwhile, the NY Times lists the top two bestselling "paperback nonfiction" books this week as NIGHT, by Elie Wiesel, and A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, by James Frey. These books should be more accurately described as (fictional) novels based partially on real-world experiences of the authors.

Friday, Jan 27, 2006
Evolutionists mad at NY Times
Evolutionist bloggers at Sci. American and elsewhere are very upset at a recent NY Times book review. (I praised it below.) They are particularly upset that an evolutionist newspaper would print pro-evolution opinion that is critical of leading evolutionists.

John Rennie says:

Far more insightful, in her opinion, is The Evolution-Creation Struggle, in which Michael Ruse argues that scientists have repeatedly committed the sin of "evolutionism," which is a belief system equivalent to religion. ...

Furthermore, it seems a bit disingenuous that in this review about the struggle between evolution and creationism and science's clumsy tromping on sincere religious sensibilities, there isn't a word about the actual motives of the creationists. We know, for example, from the Discovery Institute's "Wedge document" that at least some creationists use the pretext of fighting "evolutionism" as a way of covertly reinserting religion into public schools.

Judith Shulevitz should be praised, not attacked, for refraining from trying to read the minds of the creationists. The Wedge document does not use the term "evolutionism", but it does favor research on alternatives because evolutionism has had destructive moral, cultural, and political consequences. It says nothing about covertly reinserting religion into public schools.

Michael Ruse responds:

I am a good friend of Ed Wilson, I have co-authored papers with him, but like it or not he is explicit that for him evolution is more than a theory - he says openly that it is a myth to replace traditional Christianity. In a way I kind of agree with him - I have no more ontological commitment than Richard Dawkins -- but I think it is silly and wrong to deny or ignore what he says.
I don't think that it is necessary or useful to try to examine motives. The evolutionists are indeed promoting something that is more than a scientific theory, and others are justified in disagreeing.
Spanking therapy
Checking my server logs, I've discovered that I get a lot of readers looking for spanking therapy. There ought to be much better sources on this subject.

I just mentioned some research by Sergei Speransky on "Pain affliction as a method of treatment for addictive behavior". MosNews says:

The recommended treatment course is 30 sessions of 60 cane strokes, delivered on the buttocks by a person of average build. The method has been tested on volunteers and the results are said to be positive.

The scientists claim the effect of the treatment is even greater if a patient is caned by a doctor of the opposite sex.

The same guy wrote a book on experiments that tried to measure bonds between mice, and ended up measuring experiment bias in some subtle way. He claimed that the mice were sensitive to the experimenter’s subconscious expectation.

If you just want to know about spanking kids, I suggest the Wikipedia spanking article. A lot of people are against it for ideological reasons, but others find it effective and beneficial.

Thursday, Jan 26, 2006
Britons unconvinced on evolution
BBC reports:
More than half the British population does not accept the theory of evolution, according to a survey.

Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons. ...

"We are, however, fortunate compared to the US in that no major segment of UK religious or cultural life opposes the inclusion of evolution in the school science curriculum."

Evolutionist propaganda cannot persuade everyone, I guess.

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2006
Chinese Columbus map is fake
National Geographic says:
A recently unveiled map purporting to show that a Chinese explorer discovered America in 1418 has been met with skepticism from cartographers and historians alike. The map depicts all of the continents, including Australia, North America, and Antarctica, in rough outline. ...

But experts have dismissed the map as a fake. They say the map resembles a French 17th-century world map with its depiction of California as an island.

Some people just don't want to accept the fact that Columbus discovered America.

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006
Evolution defined
What is meant by evolution? As I see it, there are four meanings in common use.

1. Change in the history of the universe. This includes biological change, and non-biological change, such as galaxy formation. When evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution", he meant that "Evolution comprises all the stages of the development of the universe: the cosmic, biological, and human or cultural developments. Attempts to restrict the concept of evolution to biology are gratuitous."

2. Descent with modification. E.O. Wilson defines, "evolution is any change in gene frequency in a population." This is narrower than the first definition because it just includes biological change, and only those changes which are inherited.

3. Universal common ancestor. This is the idea that there is some last universal common ancestor, from which all plants, animals, fungi, and other life on Earth are directly descended.

4. A leftist-atheist philosophy. This says that man is no better than an animal; that Earth is insignificant; that progress does not exist; that the history of life is unguided, unplanned, and random; and that materialist explanations have replaced all spiritual ones. Various other ideas may also be included, depending on the evolutionist.

Stephen C. Meyer and Michael Newton Keas have their own description of the meanings of evolution. The Nat. Acad. of Sciences published a book on Science and Creationism, gives meaning 1 on p.3, and then meaning 2 on p.9 for "biological evolution". They also published a book titled Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, and it gives meaning 2 in the glossary on p.13. (Both of these books are free downloads.) PBS TV gives meaning 2, as does Wikipedia. UC Berkeley's Evolution 101 gives meaning 2 as the definition, and then meaning 3 as the explanation.

Meanings 1 and 2 are just silly definition with no scientific content. It would be impossible to prove evolution wrong according to these definitions. (Perhaps meaning 2 could be disproved if someone showed that there was no such thing as inheritance.)

Meaning 3 is a very useful hypothesis that could be true, but we may never know for sure. Some people argue that it has already been proved by the existence of common genes, but we don't know how hard it would have been for those genes to have independently evolved, and we don't know whether they could have propagated by horizontal gene transfer.

Meaning 4 is a philosophy, and science cannot tell us whether it is true or false. Some people believe it like a religion. I don't. I don't agree with teaching this philosophy as if it is scientific truth, and I don't agree with their refusal to permit alternate points of view.

I am not a creationist, and I have no religious beliefs that are offended by evolutionary science. I am offended at the way that so-called scientists try to force their bogus philosophy on us, and to claim that it is good science. That is why I criticize evolutionists on this blog.

Judith Shulevitz cites this Michael Ruse argument:

We must be careful about how we use the word "evolution," because it actually conveys two meanings, the science of evolution and something he calls "evolutionism." Evolutionism is the part of evolutionary thought that reaches beyond testable science. Evolutionism addresses questions of origins, the meaning of life, morality, the future and our role in it. In other words, it does all the work of a religion, but from a secular perspective. What gets billed as a war between hard science and mushy theology should rather be understood, says Ruse, as "a clash between two rival metaphysical world pictures."
She concludes:
I'd suggest something else: Teach evolution in biology class and evolutionism in religion class, along with creationism, deism and all the other cosmologies that float unexamined through our lives. Religion class is just the place for a fight about religion.
I agree with this. I can understand why the evolutionists find the creationists annoying, but I find the evolutionists much more annoying because they are corrupting science much more than the creationists could hope to.

Monday, Jan 23, 2006
Howard Stern will be censored
NewsMax reports:
The morning drive-time radio host said he left terrestrial radio because he was fed up with censorship by individual stations and FCC fines for indecency. Now, in what must be a painful irony for Stern, Sirius executives are developing an internal document that will set boundaries for his show.

Stern’s new show is also being broadcast with a time-delay that facilitates censoring, the New York Post reports.

I think that it is great that Stern has moved to the satellite. Now he is more directly subject to market pressure on what is acceptable to broadcast.
More Oregon misinformation
A NY Times letter says:
Some immoderate conservatives never tire of accusing liberals of seeking relief in the courts that they can't achieve democratically in the legislature. Isn't that what John Ashcroft tried to do with regard to state death with dignity laws?
No, Ashcroft was the defendant, not the plaintiff. It was the pro-death liberals who sought court action.

See also this cartoon, which gets the position of Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts exactly backwards.

Sunday, Jan 22, 2006
Why Lawyers Are Liars
Michael Kinsley writes in the Wash Post, about the man who is now the Chief Justice:
Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "the positions a lawyer presents on behalf of a client should not be ascribed to that lawyer." While true, this is a point that does not bear excessive emphasis. If the average potential juror knew that lawyers actually take pride in not believing what they say it could wreck the whole system.

... even Supreme Court justices are bound to some extent by the doctrine of stare decisis, which is the judicial equivalent of papal infallibility. Rulings lose the mystical authority they depend on when people start to get the idea they can be reversed at will.

When lawyers argue in court, they are not sworn to tell the truth. That is because everyone understands that lawyers are expected to occasionally lie on their client's behalf.

When judges are sworn in to the Supreme Court, they take an oath to the US Constitution. They do not take an oath to stare decisis, and they have no legal or ethical obligation to it.

Friday, Jan 20, 2006
Google subpoena
The Si Valley paper is praising Google for fighting a govt subpoena. I think that the praise is misplaced. Google collects a lot of potentially privacy invading data. It uses very long term IDs and cookies, and supposedly it logs all queries. It does this in order to more effectively place ads and sell products. If it is okay to track user data just to sell ads, then it ought to be okay to use that data to help resolve a court dispute. Besides, the subpoena is just for search results, and not for any personally identifying data.

Google stock dropped 8% on Friday. Perhaps investors are worried that Google's privacy-invading practices will be greater scrutinized. I suspect that Google refused this subpoena because they thought that it would be a political popular example of its "don't be evil" motto. But if it ends up publicizing the logs that Google keeps, it could be bad for Google. The issue could also expose how much Google is in the pornography business. Google doesn't sell porn directly, but it makes a lot of money selling ads targeted at people looking for porn.

The paper also praises the harsh sentences to the Wendy's finger-in-the-chili scammers. Sure, they deserve some jail time, but I put most of the blame on the newspapers and TV stations that made such a big news story out of what they should have recognized as a bogus claim. Big food companies face scammers all the time, and the news media sure got suckered on this one. I think that they are praising the harsh sentence as a way of hiding their own fault.

Update: Jonathan Burdick seems to think that I endorsed forcing Google to divulge private personal data. The subpoena is just for search terms and resultant URLs, and not for the privacy-invading data that Google maintains.

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2006
Progressivism's Alamo
John Hinderaker writes in the Weekly Standard:
Over the last 25 years, however, the ground has shifted. History stopped moving inexorably to the left and began to reverse course. The conservative movement achieved electoral success under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. It took a while longer for the conservative trend to reach the judiciary, but it's no coincidence that a number of conservative federal judges, including John Roberts and Sam Alito, got their start in Reagan's White House or Justice Department. Now, 20 later, they are eligible for elevation to the Supreme Court.

So the left's natural preference for a "living Constitution" has turned into a two-edged sword. Liberals can no longer assume that constitutional change will move in only one direction. Hence their newfound reverence for precedent.

He points to the contradictions in liberal senators expect both stasis and change. I do not think that the court has moved to the right at all, but perhaps it is possible if Bush gets a couple of more Supreme Court appointments.
Science's Crusade Against Religion
I just heard an interview of Pamela R. Winnick, who was plugging her new book, A Jealous God: Science's Crusade Against Religion.

She points out that the leading leftist-atheist-evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, went on UK TV saying that religion is the root of all evil, and that teaching religion is child abuse. She also discusses stem-cell research and other topics. She is not religious herself, but she is offended by the ideology of the scientific establishment.

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2006
Belgium has school vouchers
I just watched John Stossel's 20/20. I didn't know that Belgium has a school voucher system where public schools have to compete with private schools, and students can take their school money wherever they wish. School voucher advocates usually have to argue from theory, admitting that the system has never been tried. But according to John Stossel, it has been tried in Belgium, and students learn a lot more on less money.
Humorless leftist puppet Ted Kennedy
Sen. Ted Kennedy blamed judge Alito for once belonging to an organization that once published this article, but Kennedy didn't realize that the article was satire.

I don't know why anyone would try to prove that Alito was a member of an organization that opposed coeducation at Princeton University. There is no doubt that Alito took the much more radical step of enrolling himself at Princeton at a time when it was all-male. (Of course Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and others have attended single-sex college. Kennedy attended Harvard before being expelled for cheating.)

Oregon assisted suicide
A majority of six on the US Supreme Court have declared that physicians killing patients is a legitimate medical purpose for using federally controlled drugs. The same court ruled against medical marijuana last year. See Gonzales v Oregon.

The case was not about the legality of assisted suicide, but merely whether and how the feds can regulate the drugs. No one was challenging the legality of Oregon's physician assisted suicide law. The case being misreported in the press, such as in this AP story:

The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said that federal authority to regulate doctors does not override the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people. New Chief Justice John Roberts backed the Bush administration, dissenting for the first time.

The administration improperly tried to use a drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses, the court majority said.

This is incorrect. The validity of Oregon's law was not an issue in the case, and the administration did not try to prosecute any Oregon doctors.

Nancy Pelosi said, "I don't see it as a defeat for the Bush administration, but I do see it as a victory for states rights and for a compassionate approach to the end of life."

Update: A reader complains that it was widely reported that Ashcroft threatened to prosecute physicians. Yes, there were such reports, but I am not sure that they are correct. Ashcroft's Interpretive Rule said:

assisting suicide is not a 'legitimate medical purpose' within the meaning of 21 CFR 1306.04 (2001), and that prescribing, dispensing, or administering federally controlled substances to assist suicide violates the Controlled Substances Act. Such conduct by a physician registered to dispense controlled substances may 'render his registration . . . inconsistent with the public interest' and therefore subject to possible suspension or revocation under 21 U. S. C. 824(a)(4).
The Wash Post said (at the time in 2001), "The order does not call for criminal prosecution of doctors."

So I infer that Ashcroft was just threatening to terminate the DEA license of a physician who uses federally controlled substances to assist suicide. He did not arrest, indict, or criminally prosecute any physicians. I suppose that a physician could be criminally prosecuted for violating the CSA under some circumstances, but I fail to see that any such circumstances were involved in this case.

If the press had been honest, it would have reported the case like this: The Supreme Court ruled that the attorney general could not suspend the federal DEA license of Oregon physicians who prescribe overdoses of federally controlled narcotics in order to assist suicide. The attorney general had argued that DEA licenses were limited to obtaining narcotics for legitimate medical purposes, and that suicide assistance is not a legitimate medical purpose.

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006
Wikipedia flame wars
Wikipedia has gotten to be a great resource, but it has its own biases and limitations.

I tried editing the page on the Kansas evolution hearings. The article was surprisingly long, but it lacked a description of exactly what the Kansas Board did, and why. I tried inserting the info several times, but there were several evolutionists monitoring the page who immediately killed my changes. Even when I inserted quotes from the NY Times, they removed them without any explanation.

Instead, the article is filled with conspiratorial charges about how the Kansas Board has been manipulated by religious conservatives following a creationist wedge strategy. That may be true, I guess, but it is hard to understand what the hearings were about unless you read what was proposed. I am sure that the Kansas Board believes that they are scientific justifications for what they did, and that view should be described.

You can click on "discussion" at the top of the Wikipedia page to see my comments along with the others. I commented under my real name; the other didn't.

On many Wikipedia subjects, these debates eventually simmer down until there is an article with multiple views represented. When that happens, the system works great.

This story is another example of the narrow-minded thinking of the leftist-atheist-evolutionists who pretend to represent scientists. Real scientists are not afraid to let opposing views be described. They enjoy using empirical evidence to show just why some contrary view is wrong. But the evolutionists are afraid to even allow a quote from the head of the Kansas Board, or to describe exactly what changes Kansas made.

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006
Alito will be confirmed
The Democrat attacks on Alito look a little silly. Perhaps the biggest gripe against him is that he once joined Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) to protest the university kicking ROTC off campus, and CAP once published an essay in an alumni magazine titled "In Defense of Elitism".

Yes, Princeton is an elitist university. Most of our other Supreme Court justices have similarly attended elitist universities. These arguments are going nowhere. Alito will be confirmed, with about the same No votes that Roberts got.

Here is Steve Dujack complaining that we won't be testifying about CAP.

Gravity is only a theory
A reader sends this Ellery Schempp article which says that gravity is only a theory, and suggests that text describe some of the limitations of the theory.

The article is written in a silly way, but I agree with the concept, and the textbooks do indeed explain some of the limitations of the theory. For example:

  • Gravity is counteracted by a mysterious Dark Energy, and no one knows anything about that, except for its approximate strength at very large scales.
  • At extremely high energies, gravity is thought to become quantized and comparable to electromagnetic and other forces, but no one knows how to relate them.
  • Gravitational forces are thought to be transmitted by gravity waves and gravitinos, but no one has ever observed them.

    All the other theories have limitations as well. Evolution is the only scientific theory that is unconstitutional to disparage.

    Schlafly news
    John sends:
    Preemie goes to Harvard
    Patenting a Prime: Indian engineers are fascinated by Roger's stunt
    Bruce reprimands AAPS for publishing a poorly sourced article which
    "should not have been accepted for publication."
    Andy has 2 cert petitions awaiting action by the Supreme Court
    Tenuous links to Jack Abramoff
    Critchlow "approaches his subject with a healthy mix of sympathy and
    "And the winner of the 2005 Award for Political Incorrectness is...(pan
    of vast audience with expectant expressions)..."
    This guy must be from the unrelated Ohio Schlaflys, who also produced
    the professional baseball player

    Sunday, Jan 08, 2006
    Kansas science definition
    As discussed before, Kansas changed its definition of science:
    The old definition reads in part, "Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us." The new one calls science "a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena." [NY Times]
    The leftist-atheist-evolutionists complain that the new definition allows the supernatural to be considered science.

    The big problem with the old definition is that it defines science as a "human activity" instead of testable hypotheses and observable truths.

    This distinction parallels other debates about relativism:

    In philosophy of science, there is ongoing tension between the Kuhnians (science is about "paradigms," the fashions of the current discipline) and the realists (science is about finding the truth).
    The Kuhnian-evolutionist-relativists deny that science is about finding the truth, and argue that science is just another human activity.

    The leftist-atheist-evolutionists insist on "seeking natural explanations", because they want to exclude any theological explanation as unscientific. But they are being overly restrictive. Scientists commonly use mathematical explanations involving abstractions not found in nature. An example is the PCT Theorem, which explains certain natural symmetries using some very sophisticated mathematics. Other examples range from ordinary quantum mechanics to string theory and multiple unverses.

    I think that the new Kansas definition is correct in that science is about explaining natural phenomena. Scientists don't really care what kind of explanation it is, as long as it is testable. Physicists even publish untestable explanations, such as string theory. I would not call string theory a natural explanation of anything. I would not call it supernatural either, so I think that it is incorrect that allowing supernatural explanations is the main difference between the new and old definitions of science.

    George writes:

    You are missing the point. The Kansas definition change was made by Christians. They are known to attend church on Sunday. They are not scientists or philosophers. They haven't done the philosophical heavy lifting. They probably corresponded with people at the Discovery Institute. The Discovery Institute wrote the Wedge Document. They want to allow for the possibility that God created the world. Scientists need to take a hard line on the creationists, or else Christianity might gain some credibility.
    I am not good at reading minds. Maybe the Kansas officials were tired of scientists putting down their beliefs, I don't know. I just look at the actual textual changes, and I think that the new definition is much more accurate, and much closer to what science ought to be.

    Saturday, Jan 07, 2006
    Attacks on Alito
    The witnesses against Judge Alito include Stephen R. Dujack, whom I previously mentioned on this blog. Drudge says:
    Senate Democrats intend to zero in on Alito’s alleged enthusiastic membership to an organization, they will charge, that was sexist and racist!

    Democrats hope to tie Alito to Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP).

    Alito will testify that he joined CAP as a protest over Princeton policy that would not allow the ROTC on campus.

    THE DRUDGE REPORT has obtained a Summer 1982 article from CAP’s PROSPECT magazine titled “Smearing The Class Of 1957” that key Senate Democrats believe could thwart his nomination!

    In the article written by then PROSPECT editor Frederick Foote, Foote writes: “The facts show that, for whatever reasons, whites today are more intelligent than blacks.”

    Senate Democrats expect excerpts like this written by other Princeton graduates will be enough to torpedo the Alito nomination.

    One Democrat Hill staffer involved in their strategy declared, “Put a fork in Scalito. It doesn’t matter that Alito didn’t write it, it doesn’t matter that Alito wasn’t that active in the group, Foote wrote it in CAP’s magazine and we are going to make Alito own it.” ...

    In the April 21, 2003 LOS ANGELES TIMES, Dujack wrote: “Like the victims of the Holocaust, animals are rounded up, trucked hundreds of miles to the kill floor and slaughtered.” Dujack went on, “To those who defend the modern-day Holocaust on animals by saying that animals are slaughtered for food and give us sustenance, I ask: if the victims of the Holocaust had been eaten, would that have justified the abuse and murder?”

    This may get ugly.

    Update: Dujack has been dropped already.

    Philosopher attacks ID
    A philosopby prof defends the Dover PA decision:
    Even if you favor some form of ID, as I do, you should recognize that the ID proponents vastly overplayed their weak hand in this Dover case and deserved to lose. Nowhere did or do ID proponents perform any of the philosophical heavy lifting needed to show where and how the demarcation should be made between science and non-science, nor did or do they produce any credible attempt - credible to the larger non-ID scientific community - to show how ID could be incorporated into the corpus of received scientific methodology.
    Who expects a school board to do "philosophical heavy lifting" to justify everything they do? It only claimed that ID was an explanation, not that it was mainstream scientific theory.

    Lloyd Eby goes on with some silly comparisons to Galileo.

    Supremacist judges rule against vouchers
    Florida courts outlawed school vouchers:
    In its ruling, the Florida Supreme Court cited an article in the state's constitution that says, "Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system of free public schools."

    The Opportunity Scholarships Program "violates this language," the Florida court said.

    Simple economics theory implies that vouchers would improve the schools in all those ways. See Milton Friedman here or here.

    Friday, Jan 06, 2006
    Happy to have evolved
    Evolutionist Olivia Judson is happy she evolved, and inspired this NY Times letter:
    To the Editor:

    Olivia Judson's observations lose some of their luster when compared with the evidence that living organisms regularly survive by consuming one another; or that scientific pursuits have provided the potential to destroy the species that so widely regards itself as ultimately superior; or most notably, that a deity might exist whose benevolent purposes are not fully comprehensible.

    David E. Kucharsky
    White Plains, Jan. 2, 2006

    Yes, animals eat food to survive. The subject of evolution drives folks to say silly things.

    Thursday, Jan 05, 2006
    The Landscape
    Distinguished Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind says:
    I have been accused of advocating an extremely dangerous idea.

    According to some people, the "Landscape" idea will eventually ensure that the forces of intelligent design (and other unscientific religious ideas) will triumph over true science. From one of my most distinguished colleagues:

    From a political, cultural point of view, it's not that these arguments are religious but that they denude us from our historical strength in opposing religion.
    ... the idea in question is the Anthropic Principle: a principle that seeks to explain the laws of physics, and the constants of nature, by saying, "If they (the laws of physics) were different, intelligent life would not exist to ask why laws of nature are what they are."
    He is an evolutionist, and he did some very good pioneering work in string theory, but a federal judge would say that his idea is unconstitional in Dover PA.

    I take the side of science here, as always. Scientists should not be censoring perfectly good ideas just because they might weaken an anti-religious campaign that is being waged by the leftist-atheist-evolutionists.

    Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006
    Philosopher attacks ID
    A philosopby prof defends the Dover PA decision:
    Even if you favor some form of ID, as I do, you should recognize that the ID proponents vastly overplayed their weak hand in this Dover case and deserved to lose. Nowhere did or do ID proponents perform any of the philosophical heavy lifting needed to show where and how the demarcation should be made between science and non-science, nor did or do they produce any credible attempt - credible to the larger non-ID scientific community - to show how ID could be incorporated into the corpus of received scientific methodology.
    Who expects a school board to do "philosophical heavy lifting" to justify everything they do? It only claimed that ID was an explanation, not that it was mainstream scientific theory.

    Lloyd Eby goes on with some silly comparisons to Galileo. He predicts that ID will win in the long run.

    Cuteness explained
    This NT Times article tries to explain why cuteness evolved.
    As with the penguin's tuxedo, the panda's two-toned coat very likely serves a twofold purpose. On the one hand, it helps a feeding bear blend peacefully into the dappled backdrop of bamboo. On the other, the sharp contrast between light and dark may serve as a social signal, helping the solitary bears locate each other when the time has come to find the perfect, too-cute mate.
    If this were really scientific, then there would be some way to tell whether this panda explanation were right or wrong.

    Tuesday, Jan 03, 2006
    Evolutionist denies natural selection
    The NY (Science) Times reports:
    Why, Michael Lynch wants to know, don't we look like bacteria? ...

    Dr. Lynch argues that natural selection had little to do with the origin of the eukaryote genome.

    "Everybody thinks evolution is natural selection, and that's it," Dr. Lynch said. "But it's just one of several fundamental forces."

    In a paper accepted for publication in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, Dr. Lynch argues that eukaryotes' complexity may have gotten started by chance.

    Everybody thinks that because Darwin thought so, and and because it is politically incorrect to suggest anything else. It is even considered unconstitutional for schools in Dover PA to mention Lynch's ideas. Evolutionists like Richard Dawkins downplay the role of chance in evolution.
    Prokaryotes never got the chance to evolve this complexity because their populations were so large that natural selection blocked the early stages of its evolution. "There was one lucky lineage that became us eukaryotes," Dr. Lynch said.

    Dr. Lynch dismisses claims by creationists that complexity in nature could not be produced by evolution, only by a designer.

    "In fact, a good chunk of what evolutionary biologists study is why things are so poorly designed," he said. "If we needed a bigger genome, there would be a brighter way to build it."

    Note the obligatory put-down of creationists. What Lynch is saying is that Darwinism cannot explain the early the early development of multi-celled life.

    If he is correct that biologists study poorly designed life, then I guess that the design hypothesis is lot more scientific than other evolutionists are willing to admit.

    Federal courts interfering with schools
    I am still trying to figure out how people can support the Reinhardt Palmdale decision:
    It cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment pro- tects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions con- cerning the care, custody, and control of their children. This right is commonly referred to as the Meyer-Pierce right ... we affirm that the Meyer-Pierce right does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.
    and the Judge Jones Dover PA decision:
    To preserve the separation of church and state ... we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants ... from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution ...
    I could understand someone thinking that the federal courts should never interfere with the schools.

    Here are 13 things that do not make sense, from New Scientist magazine.

    Monday, Jan 02, 2006
    All scientific theories have gaps
    A reader asks why the theory of evolution should be denigrated, when no other scientific theory gets denigrated.

    All the Dover PA board said to denigrate evolution was that evolution theory had gaps. Other theories do also. For example, the theory of gravity has two huge gaps. There is the quantum gap and the dark energy gap.

    Physicists are convinced that on a small scale, gravity is quantized into spin-2 massless particles called gravitinos. But no one has any clue as to how these particles might interact with other particles at high energies.

    We also have astronomical evidence that gravity is coupled to some sort of dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe. No one has any clue as to what that is all about.

    It is still legal to discuss these gaps in the theory of gravity. But Dover PA federal judge Jones has issued a permanent ban on letting students learn that the theory of evolution has gaps.

    Sunday, Jan 01, 2006
    Evolutionists deny free choice
    I read some more of the evolutionist-supremacist Judge Jones anti-science opinion in Dover PA. On p.47, He blames the school for letting students (and parents) opt out of the statement if they wanted to. He claims that the "opt out" feature is just more evidence that the statement was endorsing a religion. After all, if the statement were promoting a secular humanist objective, why would the school let anyone opt out!

    Later, he argues:

    Finally and notably, the newsletter all but admits that ID is religious by quoting Anthony Flew, described as a "world famous atheist who now believes in intelligent design," as follows: "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence where it leads."
    This is crazy. Following evidence is not endorsing a religion. Schools should be letting students opt out of controversial programs. Giving students free choice is the opposite of establishing a religion.

    It is not enough for the leftist-atheist-evolutionists to get their ideology taught in school. They want it to be mandatory, with alternate views not allowed. They resent the whole idea of students opting out of anything.