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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,13:38   

Over at Ed Brayton's blog, a commenter had this to say:

Quote



POnce again Ed you totally manage to miss the point. The argument is NOT a legal one. Winnning legal battles will get you nowhere, nor will your insistance on seperation of church and state (You only need to look to Europe to know that having an established church does not cause problems like you think it does). The issue is one of hearts and minds, and winning hearts and minds is something America has never been good at.

Posted by: Matt Penfold | May 15, 2007 11:08 AM


This thread is for further discussion of the "hearts and minds" angle.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on May 15 2007,13:42

--------------
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,13:49   

I think that scientific culture is long overdue for revision to encourage social engagement. Scientists should be rewarded for community involvment in explaining the role of science and what science does. Currently, though, pretty much the opposite applies. Scientists who do spend time in community outreach are penalized for those activities. The penalty is often the automatic one that there is only a finite amount of time, and those who do community outreach are likely to be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who do not.

--------------
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
MattPenfold



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,14:16   

I was the original poster of the post Wesley quoted and want to expand somewhat on what I said.

The blog in question deals with the evolution vs creationism debate in the US (I include ID in with creationism so whenever I say creationism I will also mean ID unless I state otherwise). The issues he deals with often concern legal disputes over the seperation of church and state and are nearly always based on events happening in the US.

Ed is a strong supporter of challenges to the teaching of creationism in the classroom. His favoured avenue of challenging them is through the courts, although I suspect he would rather any such proposals got reject. The legal battles in the US are battles that have to be fought but the idea that by winning a court case you are changing people's minds is nonsense. They are a holding action at best. In later post in that blog I compared it to the Russians holding the German advance at Stalingrad. All well and fine but not a sustainable position. Sooner or later the Russians had to take the battle to the Germans. Of course we know from history they did that very well indeed. One can only hope that the war against the creationists goes as well.

I also went to argue that having theistic evolutionists such as Miller supporting is fine, if their role is one of excellent scientist. If Miller's role is to be one of showing that you can be a christian then there is no point for two reasons.

First if you arguing that creationism does not belong in the science classroom then a scientists relgious views are irrelavent. The issue is to be decided on the scientific merits of evolution and creationism. If the purpose is to show to creationists that you can be a christian and accept evolution then it will not work. It will not work becuase the people who reject evolution will also refuse to accept the likes of Miller as being christian. (In Miller's case he is a catholic so that makes having him accepted as being christian by evangelicals even less likely). Those I know who were once creationists but now accept evolution all say that what changed their mind was the science and it is the science that argument should concentrate on.

My point about the US not being good a hearts and minds was a cheapish (but not without a bit of barb) shot at how the US failed in Vietnam, and is failing in Iraq, to win the hearts and minds of the population.  What is needed are scientists to get up and just tell the science. Richard Dawkins does that, Ken Miller does that, many others do as well. When people criticise Dawkins for being too strident they seem to ignore the work he has done promoting evolutionary theory. Do the "Blind Watchmaker" and the rest not matter ? If you know a person who denies evolution happens go and buy them a copy of the Blind Watchmaker.  Make sure every school library, every public library in America has copies of his books. Gould's, Miller's, Jone's, Zimmer's and many many others. Make sure they are on display. And encourage people to borrow them. I mention the Blind Watchmaker becuase until I read that book I was unaware there are people who reject evolution people they think their god wants them to. I live in the UK, and had a middle class upbringing which prehaps explains why. I borrowed the Blind Watchmaker from the library, it was part of display it was putting on about science and they had some science books on prominent display. I was amazed to learn that is some parts of the US public libraries would not dare mount such a display, and many would not even stock books about evolution,

  
George



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,16:56   

Quote
First if you arguing that creationism does not belong in the science classroom then a scientists relgious views are irrelavent. The issue is to be decided on the scientific merits of evolution and creationism. If the purpose is to show to creationists that you can be a christian and accept evolution then it will not work. It will not work becuase the people who reject evolution will also refuse to accept the likes of Miller as being christian. (In Miller's case he is a catholic so that makes having him accepted as being christian by evangelicals even less likely).


I think the key word in "hearts and minds" is the second.  

The general public will not be persuaded, unless they are convinced of the scientific merits of evolution and also that they can retain the core of their faith.  The fundamentalist accusation of TEs not being "true Christians" is a sticking point, I'll grant, and I'm not sure how to get around it.  However, I think that the majority of those who do not "believe in" evolution, but are not active anti-evolutionists, have simply been duped.  They have the idea that somewhere in Origin of the Species and the textbooks is the phrase "and therefore God does not exist".  The alternative of a middle way does not come into their black and white minds.  That's the way they should be persuaded to go- where the scientific facts are and where they don't have to give up their faith.

I agree, Wes, that scientists should have greater incentives and opportunities to engage with society.  There are already plenty of difficulties finding an audience or a forum.  If the media in the US are like they are here (Ireland), then arts and humanities coverage completely overwhelms the attention paid to science.  Special events like science weeks or festivals can have their uses, but often are just preaching to the converted.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,18:44   

Quite frankly, I don't care what people think, and I don't waste any effort in chan ging their minds.  There are lots of idiots in the US, always have been, always will be.  Even as idiocy goes, ID/creationism is pretty far down the list (more people think that space aliens are kidnapping people from their beds, than think evolution doesn't happen).

It's no crime to be an idiot.  And as long as the idiots aren't in any political position to fotrce their idiocy onto everyone else (and the fundies tried to do exactly that), then their idiocy is harmless.  And when their idiocy is ILLEGAL, on top of it, then it's even more harmless.

As far as education, it ain't just creationism that's the problem.  Americans are, by and large, very widely spread idiots.  We can be idiotic about LOTS of things, all at the same time.  (shrug)

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,22:14   

Lenny, how inspiring.  I don't think you'll ever be mistaken for an optimist.  :D

  
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,22:48   

Quote
The legal battles in the US are battles that have to be fought but the idea that by winning a court case you are changing people's minds is nonsense.


hardly.

results from major court cases often swing people into one camp or another.

no, you're not going the change the minds of the IDiots; nothing can do that but serious therapy sessions with a mental health care professional, but for the vast majority of others, the results of a court case lend a lot of weight.

--------------
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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,00:33   

Not that I completely disagree with you but you might want to consider how much of the general public is aware of the actions of the court.  Even in so-called high profile cases I would guess that only those that are specifically interested would be paying attention.  I'd be interested to see a poll that asked the average citizen what the Dover decision was.  I bet most would be hard-pressed to answer that correctly.

If I were to offer a theory I would say that trust has much more to do with it than ideology.  Consider average Joe and where he gets his information.  He's more likely to accept ideas from his family, community members, clergy than impersonal media sources or unknown scientists.  Couple that with unfamiliarity with science in general and you get an individual who is more likely to accept an explanation from average Bob on the golf course than from a peer-reviewed journal or even a popular science magazine.  Just as an example, and I know we deplore anecdotal, I overheard a conversation at McDonald's in which one elderly gentleman told his friend that vioxx was taken off the market in order to make more money off people like him when the next drug was introduced.  That story got nothing but agreement from his companion.  

maybe the "hearts and minds" concept is appropriate because to affect the mind you have to win over the heart.  Just a thought.

  
snoeman



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,01:08   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 15 2007,13:49)
I think that scientific culture is long overdue for revision to encourage social engagement. Scientists should be rewarded for community involvment in explaining the role of science and what science does. Currently, though, pretty much the opposite applies. Scientists who do spend time in community outreach are penalized for those activities. The penalty is often the automatic one that there is only a finite amount of time, and those who do community outreach are likely to be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who do not.

Wes,

I read your post and Matt Penfold's follow-up and had a few thoughts on the matter.  I'm not a scientist, and I'm not really familiar with the competitive landscape in which you operate.  So, the notion that there would be a penalty of the kind you describe for trying to do good in the form of outreach and involvement hadn't occurred to me.  It does make a hard kind of sense why that would be the case, though.

If I understood what you wrote correctly, your reference to the change in "scientific culture" meant a change in the culture of the members of the scientific community itself.  I think that notion is laudable, but I see an obvious problem in finding a mechanism that negates the penalty that you wrote about.  

I suppose the issue is: Can real value be found in the kind of involvement you wrote about? Value that could offset the opportunity missed to do research or experiments?  I think it possible that there may be value to be found, of the "soft" kind, but to see it may require a longer view than acceptable in our society that's always looking to this quarter's financial results.  

Although it seems naive as I write it, perhaps one place to find that value is to encourage and reward much more heavy involvement by working scientists in primary and secondary science education, in addition to their regualr work.  (This isn't meant to suggest that a lot of fine science teachers don't inspire their students, but how much more could be offered in addition by working scientists?) The value to be gained is in the long view:

- More kids exposed to more people pursuing their interests or passions in science
- A real opportunity to demonstrate that science at its core is a method and way of knowing and learning, and isn't required to be a threat to their religious convictions
- More kids retaining an interest in pursuing science

The value in the long view to the scientific community is more overall interest in supporting or participating in science.  For example, Wesley Elsberry, PZ Myers, Icthyic and Ken Miller may not have produced as many new results while they was working with eighth-graders in the kids' biology classes last semester, but the long term impact they (and others) have on those students could mean that there may be more new Wesleys, PZs or Icthyics than otherwise.

At the very least, perhaps there's a more science-supportive next generation.

Probably unworkable and naive, but perhaps there's another way to find and quantify the value community involvement brings.

Edit: Fixed an annoying spelling error that I know I'm going to make every time if I'm not careful, and yet still managed to do it anyway.  :(

  
BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,03:09   

Very few things in this world flip my bell curve of eloquence as neatly as science education for kids.

For many of us, maybe even most of us, science wasn't out of reach. We largely understood that a moderate amount of science education would be nesessary to keep our world as open as possible. We also largely knew what we were supposed to learn from science. Even before biology, we knew that we were supposed to understand how cells work. We knew that we were going to learn the difference between plants and animals and fungi. We might have suspected even more. We already knew that later on we would be expected to use various measures like Joules or Kelvins. We knew that we needed to at least understand what e=mc2 implied about our world. We knew that people who could think could do these things. We knew that science was a viable career path and we knew what kind of training we needed to go down that path if we so chose. I knew a lot of real scientists when I was growing up. I often knew what they were working on and I got to see their labs.

I know I'm speaking with the royal "we" here but it is a cultural thing. Other people, I suspect many of you, shared this understanding as children. Many kids don't. Science is done by "Them" not "Us". Mostly they do it to make "Us" look dumb. Many kids with what you might think of as educated parents do not have those references. They truly cannot concieve of being able to differentiate between kinds of mushrooms or kinds of rocks. They have never stopped to consider why a lever makes it easier to move a rock. THey would not believe you if you told them that there was a measurable relationship between force and distance in a simple machine. They would look at you perplexed if you claimed you can express the relationship mathematically. I've met them. I've created labs for them. I've guest lectured to them. I've answered the questions.

They simply have never met a scientist.

Yes. The karma factor is huge. If you have the ability to entertain kids and communicate clearly, call your local middle school and offer something to the science class. Figure out extremely simple labs that demonstrate measurement and post them on the internet.

In fact, there should be a lesson plan resource here. Maybe teachers could post topics and we could all pitch in ideas.

This is far more painful to see than I'm giving it credit for.

Once you're all grown up, hey, you're on your own but as a community, not knowing that the bulk of our students can't even concieve of what a ph test might do.

Quote
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They were put there by a man,
In a factory downtown.
If I had my little way,
I'd eat peaches every day,
Sun-soaken bulges in the shade...


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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,03:41   

I'm going to partially disagree with Lenny, and very much agree with BWE and others.

The partial disagreement first: yes, there are always going to be idiots, but no, we shouldn't be fatalistic about it.

Science, or more precisely the kind of thinking and reasoning that is the practice of science, is the single most valuable invention of our species. It has wider implications than (just!!!!) garnering understanding of the universe around us, it is the very mechanism we can use to fight political and ideological oppression, to solve personal problems, to rise out of the mud and mire of human history and to take the best, and only the best, lessons we have learned from the past with us. Science is liberation. If understanding how planets move or how the common ancestry of Cnidarians is structured or how the reaction surface of the Diels Alder cycloaddition affects product distribution is a bit esoteric for people, then remind them that it not only solves their technological worries but the very root of it will set them free.

Ubi dubium, ibi libertas.

Louis

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Bye.

  
guthrie



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,04:00   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 15 2007,13:49)
The penalty is often the automatic one that there is only a finite amount of time, and those who do community outreach are likely to be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who do not.

Speaking as a non academic who went to university and has friends who are going down the academic route, I think that is entirely correct.  However, it is due to the larger issue of increased specialisation at work, high levels of competitiveness and a focus upon narrow goals.  (partly because narrow goals like number of papers published a year are easier to check up on.  It is much harder to measure how many people you successfully educated so that they went away knowing more than they did before and open to learn more.)

  
guthrie



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,04:50   

Also I get the impression that Ed and his ilk are of the "I don't care what you do as long as you don't force it on me" kind of outlook.  Therefore, a hearts and minds campaign would not be something they would want to engage in, since it involves crossing the gap between different people and their outlook, the gap which they prefer to keep.  

My observation of the UK is that simply put, our unification of church and state doesnt matter because the battle for hearts and minds was won in the 19th century, and so the dangers do not arise.  Whereas in the USA, they have a well organised popular movement, which would be capable of capturing legislatures.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,07:24   

It should also perhaps be pointed out that all the science education in the world won't help with the creationism fight, because the entire creationism fight simply is not about science.

People are not won TO creationism because of science, and they won't be won AWAY from it because of science, either.


Creationism is a political movement, and it ebbs and flows as the political situation changes.  It's ironic, I think, that Falwell (the one man who did the most to cement the Republicrat--fundie alliance that has dominated US politics for the past 25 years) is dead now, just while the political coalition that he formed is also in the process of dying. The fundies are becoming more and more politically irrelevant.  Kuo's book and others demonstrates that the fundies never had the political influence within the Republicrat Party that we thought they did -- which is why, after six years of single-party Republicrat rule, the fundies got nothign for their trouble.  The Republicrats themselves are about to receive the biggest political thrashing they've gotten since Watergate, and with the Republicrats gone, the fundies are nothing but a sewing circle.  The 25-year reign of the fundies, it looks, is coming to a close.  They will become like the labor movement -- they make lots of speeches, hold lots of rallies, raise lots of money, but accomplish nothing whatever.  They are simply irrelevant.

The times, they are a-changin'.  It ain't the 1990's anymore.

I think in a few years, this whole fight will be an irrelevance, of academic interest only.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,08:09   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ May 16 2007,07:24)
Creationism is a political movement, and it ebbs and flows as the political situation changes.  It's ironic, I think, that Falwell (the one man who did the most to cement the Republicrat--fundie alliance that has dominated US politics for the past 25 years) is dead now, just while the political coalition that he formed is also in the process of dying. The fundies are becoming more and more politically irrelevant.  Kuo's book and others demonstrates that the fundies never had the political influence within the Republicrat Party that we thought they did -- which is why, after six years of single-party Republicrat rule, the fundies got nothign for their trouble.  The Republicrats themselves are about to receive the biggest political thrashing they've gotten since Watergate, and with the Republicrats gone, the fundies are nothing but a sewing circle.  The 25-year reign of the fundies, it looks, is coming to a close.  They will become like the labor movement -- they make lots of speeches, hold lots of rallies, raise lots of money, but accomplish nothing whatever.  They are simply irrelevant.

Lenny, this is so off-base I don't even know where to start.  Creationism starts in children before schools or politics.  It's what they learn first, it's what they understand, it's what they are exposed to constantly.  It is not a political movement! ("This is not a boating accident!" - sorry got alittle carried away there).  It's the default and it's communicated on a much more personal level.

You can dismiss entire sections of the population if you wish, actually according to polls - the majority of the population, but you do so at your own expense.  You ignore what's really happening and what the actual attitudes of people are.  

Politicians do not present ideas, they regurgitate the most popular ideas.  One thing is for sure if you want to convince people of anything I'd put my money on the local barber over any politician.

I'll make you a wager right now Lenny, on '08.  Just a friendly little bet about this so-called landslide defeat.  What do you say?  I think you might be surprised when all is said and done.

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,08:38   

Quote
It's the default


People are BORN creationists? Colour me sceptical!

Louis

P.S. Extraneous quote removed in edit. Skeptic I'm thinking that this debate of ours needs to occur sooner rather than later and not in this thread! ;)

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,09:00   

I think altering the culture of science can have economic benefit if one takes a long-term, big picture view. In the USA, graduate enrollment in the sciences has been trending down for some time now. The trend toward increasing proportion of foreign graduate students had a major divot put into it, because of draconian restrictions put in place after 9-11. At the time, about half of the science and engineering graduate students studying at US universities were US citizens. It used to be that the US retained a substantial proportion of foreign graduate students who studied here, but that figure is declining as students are finding good opportunities back home, and they don't have to put up with some of the byzantine immigration policy the US now employs.

The US economy is in a shift from industry to technology as the driving force. While science enjoys a broad acceptance as a respected source of information, students are choosing careers in non-science fields by preference. The US is at risk of falling behind in the competition to be at the leading edge of science and technology innovation, and failure in that regard will be reflected in declining economic status. Providing our K-12 students with good science education and interaction with scientists is a critical component of continued economic prosperity here.

If you are with me so far on this, the question of how to reward scientists for taking time to do community outreach becomes a matter of investment, not just cost. As such, it is something that we can consider as a factor in budgets at various levels of government, because one simple way to reward scientists for community outreach would be to pay them for the time spent. That doesn't address some of the issues about competition and reputation, but it could be a start.

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guthrie



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,09:12   

Sounds OK to me, Wesley.  I'm also glad to see you agree with something I've been saying for a few years now- one of the reasons few people do science is because they do not know anyone employed in it.  Here in the UK, before things went wrong and Thatcher sent cremated the old boy rather than rejuvenated him, british industry ensured that you knew people who were scientists and engineers.  You would grow up with an uncle who worked in a lab, your neighbour was involved in R&D, and your schoolteacher had spent a few years making stuff in a factory.  

Now, that is no longer the case.

  
JohnW



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,11:57   

Quote (skeptic @ May 16 2007,08:09)
You can dismiss entire sections of the population if you wish, actually according to polls - the majority of the population, but you do so at your own expense.  You ignore what's really happening and what the actual attitudes of people are.

The majority of the population is fundie creationist?  Source, please.

--------------
Math is just a language of reality. Its a waste of time to know it. - Robert Byers

There isn't any probability that the letter d is in the word "mathematics"...  The correct answer would be "not even 0" - JoeG

  
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,12:05   

Quote

If you are with me so far on this, the question of how to reward scientists for taking time to do community outreach becomes a matter of investment, not just cost. As such, it is something that we can consider as a factor in budgets at various levels of government, because one simple way to reward scientists for community outreach would be to pay them for the time spent. That doesn't address some of the issues about competition and reputation, but it could be a start.


well, since we were discussing tenure in a different thread, perhaps that would be a good place to start.

the universities themselves could easily orient their focus more towards the community at large (I know most communities would highly favor that); and one way to do that would be to add community outreach as a carrot on the tenure track.

to do this, all you have to do is talk with the regents for any given university, and convince them it's a sound business decision, which really shouldn't be all that difficult, given that the university can easily qualify the time spent in outreach with the future gains in qualified students, at the very least.

now getting the regents to sit down with you to discuss something that affects the focus of the tenure process...

that's an entirely different matter.

I know from personal experience working directly with the regents for the UC system that you need not only an "in" with those folks, but perfect timing and some serious luck, too.

your best bet is if you can figure out how to get the chancellors and regents in competition with each other to implement your ideas as their own.

all that said, again, based on personal experience, it's doable.

there are also other ways to put pressure on the university to encourage more outreach.  public funding organizations like the Hewlett Packard Foundation send gazillions through the university systems (often with much grumbling and regrets, truth be told).  many times the heads of these foundations are quite approachable, and can often grant you a lot of leverage in "back door sessions", so to speak.

and of course, there's always the "bottom up" approach as well, getting dept. heads within a given university to support the idea of community outreach (either through the tenure mechanism or other) will ensure the ideas get brought up at faculty meetings.

hmm.

Wes, if you're serious about this, I might have some names for you.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,12:15   

Quote
Politicians do not present ideas, they regurgitate the most popular ideas.


sheep bleat, herdsmen herd.

you don't know enough about politics evidently to realize how a concerted effort CAN change "popular opinion".

go have a talk with Karl Rove.  he'll learn ya.  He single-handedly changed Texas from primarily democratic to overwhelmingly republican in just over 10 years, among other things...

as to court cases... time educates.

are you trying to tell me that the scopes trial had no major impact on public opinion?

how about Roe V Wade?

should I go on?

just because YOU'RE ignorant of the effect of court cases on public opinion, doesn't mean they don't have such an effect.

heck as an informal look specific to ID, there was a thread a while back where the stats for "searches on ID" were posted, (IIRC, because Dumbski claimed they were "up") and it was obvious there was a HUGE decrease in interest in ID shortly after the Kitzmiller trial concluded.

anecdotal, perhaps, but it sure doesn't support the notion that the trial results had little impact on public opinion.

In fact, why on earth do you think that the DI has been so hell bent on trashing everything about the kitzmiller case ever since the verdict came down, if it really didn't mean anything for public opinion?  They're a PR machine, for christ's sake!  all they care about IS public opinion.

heck, why do you think the media focuses so heavily on important trials going on with the Supremes?  for laughs?

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,12:59   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 16 2007,09:00)
I think altering the culture of science can have economic benefit if one takes a long-term, big picture view. In the USA, graduate enrollment in the sciences has been trending down for some time now. The trend toward increasing proportion of foreign graduate students had a major divot put into it, because of draconian restrictions put in place after 9-11. At the time, about half of the science and engineering graduate students studying at US universities were US citizens. It used to be that the US retained a substantial proportion of foreign graduate students who studied here, but that figure is declining as students are finding good opportunities back home, and they don't have to put up with some of the byzantine immigration policy the US now employs.

The US economy is in a shift from industry to technology as the driving force. While science enjoys a broad acceptance as a respected source of information, students are choosing careers in non-science fields by preference. The US is at risk of falling behind in the competition to be at the leading edge of science and technology innovation, and failure in that regard will be reflected in declining economic status. Providing our K-12 students with good science education and interaction with scientists is a critical component of continued economic prosperity here.

If you are with me so far on this, the question of how to reward scientists for taking time to do community outreach becomes a matter of investment, not just cost. As such, it is something that we can consider as a factor in budgets at various levels of government, because one simple way to reward scientists for community outreach would be to pay them for the time spent. That doesn't address some of the issues about competition and reputation, but it could be a start.

Wes, respectfully, this is not an economic issue. It is a cultural issue. Yes better educated people contribute to9 an economy that relies on education but if we grew manioc and lived without airplanes and automobiles the point would still remain that a basic understanding of science, a generalists appraoch, is a requirement for our culture. You are immersed in science so your lens is colored by the career aspect. Kids truly don't have any references. They don't have a clue what Archimedes discovered in the bathtub. They giggle like beavis and butthead over the idea. They can't conceive how to measure something at all.

There is no fundemental difference in many middle-schoolers' minds between magic and science. None.

That is why it's so easy for creationists astrologists or whatever to convince people that they are viable alternatives to science.

I did a lab several years ago where I extracted some dna from my spit using soap salt and alcohol. My point was how lab procedures aren't actually mysterious. In the quiz I had them fill out the next day, maybe 7 or 8 out of tem of them said I had extracted saliva from my spit. They were mesmerized while I was doing it but they didn't have a real reference for what DNA is. They were studying cells at the time and could point to DNA (and RNA for that matter) in a diagram of a cell but the connection to reality Jjust wasn't there. They couldn't make the leap from map to world.

This disturbing moment brought to you by Brawndo- it's got electrolytes.

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,17:59   

Quote
There is no fundemental difference in many middle-schoolers' minds between magic and science. None.


well that's unfortunate that your experience with middle-school kids was such a letdown, but they aren't ALL like that.

I've taught elementary school kids, even, that have a pretty decent grasp of how basic science works.

My guess would be that kids who have a decent grasp of what science is learned it from parents that had a decent grasp of what science is, or else had several damn fine teachers along the way.

I don't recall, even when I was in middle school so long ago (damn, I hate middle age), that even half of the students were flunking the basic general science/biology course they offered there, and things like the carbon cycle were being taught, along with basic cellular biology, and even a smattering of evolution.

I'm curious if there is an area effect to your observations?

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,18:18   

Just a quick note -- back when I was doing live reptile shows for middle school classes, I was always (pleasantly) surprised by how much they already knew.

From my own experience, my interest in biology was almost killed by a dreadfully dull "teacher" whose idea of "teaching" was to sit at his desk and read straight from the textbook, in the most droning tone of voice you can imagine.  I learned far more about biology from one walk around a pond than I ever learned from him.

Kids are naturally fascinated by the world around them.  They only lose that interest when it gets beaten out of them.  Alas, school does a pretty good job of beating curiosity and initiative out of kids.  After all, the entire PURPOSE of American schools is to train people to go out and get a low-wage service-sector job, then shut up and do what they're told.

Oddly enough, American *UNIVERSITIES* are some of the best in the world.  While American *primary* schools are one of the *worst* in the world.

As in so much of American culture, those at the top of the social/economic ladder get the very best, while those at the bottom get . . . well . . . shit on.

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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,19:01   

A side note:  I have noticed that, in many cases where someone thinks that "education" and "winning hearts and minds" is the way to beat creationism, what they're really saying is "everyone should convert to atheism".


Whether we like it or not, the only thing that has kept ID out of school classrooms were a handful of lawyers in Pennsylvania.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,20:14   

Louis, I'm not trying to make a biologic link but given the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe in God (JohnW) the influence on children is tremendous.  They are constantly and initially exposed to creationism (at least the soft form - God created the universe) and it is many years before science education begins.  Of course, I don't believe this to be a bad thing or fatal in terms of science education just the initial condition.  You can look at Wesley and I and see that religion and science can be completely compatible.  (For those that object to my inclusion above just sustitute Miller for me, is that better?)

Ichy, I think you oversimplified all three of those examples.  I'm not saying that court decisions have NO impact.  I would say that they don't have the MOST impact with the general population.  I would support a focus on the heart rather than the mind for the general population and I agree with Wesley and guthrie that educators can (and should) take a
greater role in infusing trust as well as education.

Looking back on this I can see my bias also.  I'm not an activist so I tend to minimize the role of courts on issues.  I'd always prefer that people decide rather than courts when it

comes to anything.   :D

  
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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,21:03   

Quote

Whether we like it or not, the only thing that has kept ID out of school classrooms were a handful of lawyers in Pennsylvania.


They were excellent. They were, however, not alone. Add a handful of expert witnesses and a handful of expert consultants and you would be closer to the actual situation.

The point that the court case made the difference, though, is solid. The win in PA has had a ripple effect, helping get the IDC intrusion in Ohio rescinded, and contributing to the eventual settlement in the Selman case. All you need to know about the importance of it is the continual wounded moaning from the IDC advocates over the Kitzmiller decision.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,21:28   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 16 2007,21:03)
Quote

Whether we like it or not, the only thing that has kept ID out of school classrooms were a handful of lawyers in Pennsylvania.


They were excellent. They were, however, not alone. Add a handful of expert witnesses and a handful of expert consultants and you would be closer to the actual situation.

Just an expression -- no slight intended to the rest of the very excellent team at Dover (and of course modesty prevents Wes from mentioning that he was a part of that team).

And I will note once again, as I have in the past, that the real death of ID began not in Pennsylvania, but in Kansas.  At the Kangaroo Kourt, the IDers were forced, for the very first time, to stand up in public and PRESENT THEIR CASE.  The opposing side *didn't even bother to show up*.  . . . And the IDers *still* made idiots of themselves.

It was Kansas that showed the world what the IDers were really made of.  After that, it was a cliff-fall.  

Dover was the fatal impact at the bottom of that cliff.

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,21:31   

Quote (skeptic @ May 16 2007,20:14)
Louis, I'm not trying to make a biologic link but given the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe in God (JohnW) the influence on children is tremendous.

Let's just make the note here that the vast majority of Christians, worldwide, think fundamentalism and creationism is a big steaming crock of cow crap.

Not to mention the simple fact that well over two-thirds of the people here in the US who accept evolution, are theists.

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2007,22:44   

Quote
I would say that they don't have the MOST impact with the general population.


neither I, nor you in your rebuttal, ever attributed court cases with having the MOST impact on public opinion.

stop making strawmen of even your own damn ignorant arguments.

to remind you, this is the presentation of your initial rebuttal:

Quote
Not that I completely disagree with you but you might want to consider how much of the general public is aware of the actions of the court.  Even in so-called high profile cases I would guess that only those that are specifically interested would be paying attention.


to which i responded with three high profile cases (JUST LIKE KITZMILLER) that should have answer the question of how aware the public is and was wrt to the resultant decisions of various high-profile court cases.

and your confusion never ceases to end, does it?

 
Quote
They are constantly and initially exposed to creationism (at least the soft form - God created the universe) and it is many years before science education begins.


followed immediately by:

 
Quote
Of course, I don't believe this to be a bad thing or fatal in terms of science education just the initial condition.  You can look at Wesley and I and see that religion and science can be completely compatible.


utter confusion.  are you talking about creationism, relgion in general, your own private Jesus?

what the fuck are you talking about, idiot?

damn, it is just SO fucking POINTLESS to debate anything with you.

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snoeman



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,00:02   

BWE:
 
Quote
Wes, respectfully, this is not an economic issue. It is a cultural issue. Yes better educated people contribute to9 an economy that relies on education but if we grew manioc and lived without airplanes and automobiles the point would still remain that a basic understanding of science, a generalists appraoch, is a requirement for our culture. You are immersed in science so your lens is colored by the career aspect. Kids truly don't have any references. They don't have a clue what Archimedes discovered in the bathtub. They giggle like beavis and butthead over the idea. They can't conceive how to measure something at all.


BWE,

From what Wes has written, I think there are both economic and cultural aspects.  No doubt it is a cultural issue, in the sense of trying to change the culture of the scientific community for the purpose of trying to impact the broader culture, i.e., win hearts and minds.  However, I agree with Wes that approaching this from an investment (economic) perspective is worth considering.

People do tend to act in the ways that are the results of how they are measured.  Based upon Wes' opening post, my understanding is that scientists are measured in part by their productivity in certain ways.  (Success in soliciting grants, performing research and publishing I would assume?)

Assuming that's the case, it's no wonder scientists may be reluctant to engage in less-valued activities, such as outreach, if it means they are able to do less of those things that they are measured by.

So, I'm suggesting that community involvement somehow be added to the measurements that figure into the scientists' calculations.  It has to be valued both by the scientist doing it, and by the scientific community at large, and one way to try is from the economic perspective.

  
skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,01:01   

Ichy, you presented 3 examples that you and I and all here know about but that's not the public.  They affected the law and future actions but how many of the lay public knew or changed their opinions based upon those cases.  We're talking about hearts and minds not the law and I think that's where the law shows it's lesser impact.  A good survey would be to compare public views about creation both before and after those decisions.  My contention is that those numbers would not change much.

the other statement was addressing Louis' comment and it really stems from the broad usage of "creationism" in this discussion.

I'm not confused...are you?

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,05:44   

Quote
Louis, I'm not trying to make a biologic link but given the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe in God (JohnW) the influence on children is tremendous.  They are constantly and initially exposed to creationism (at least the soft form - God created the universe) and it is many years before science education begins.


LOL I know you didn't mean biological! Sorry but this is great mental image that amuses me beyond reason! Little Ken Ham quoting babies who's first words are "Ah dun't come from no monkey" LOL. Sorry.

Ask yourself this question: America is not the only religious country on the planet, and certainly not the only one to have its infants exposed to the "soft creationism" you describe in early years. Why then is America the most conspicuous first world nation with such a vocal, politically motivated  Christian creationist antiscience lobby? This problem is almost nonexistent in Europe or Australia, it EXISTS but in no way near the same extent, and if we kick the UK and Australia out of the picture and just focus on continental Europe, it's practically not there at all.

Louis

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,07:23   

Quote (Louis @ May 17 2007,05:44)
Ask yourself this question: America is not the only religious country on the planet, and certainly not the only one to have its infants exposed to the "soft creationism" you describe in early years. Why then is America the most conspicuous first world nation with such a vocal, politically motivated  Christian creationist antiscience lobby? This problem is almost nonexistent in Europe or Australia, it EXISTS but in no way near the same extent, and if we kick the UK and Australia out of the picture and just focus on continental Europe, it's practically not there at all.

It should be noted that all of the creationist groups in Australia. Canada and the UK were founded by, and funded by, Americans.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,08:34   

Louis, that is a good question and there's probably a really good intelligent answer but it could be that we're just the biggest loud-mouths in the world.

:D

Actually, that question deserves better but I'm pressed for time at the moment so I'll think on it.  Also, just to banish any concerns (lol), I'm going on vacation starting tomorrow and it will be completely unplugged.  Time for some much needed R&R.  I'll try to catch up as best I can when I return after Memorial Day - the 29th for our friends across the way.  Cheers.

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,09:44   

Quote (Louis @ May 17 2007,05:44)
Ask yourself this question: America is not the only religious country on the planet, and certainly not the only one to have its infants exposed to the "soft creationism" you describe in early years. Why then is America the most conspicuous first world nation with such a vocal, politically motivated  Christian creationist antiscience lobby? This problem is almost nonexistent in Europe or Australia, it EXISTS but in no way near the same extent, and if we kick the UK and Australia out of the picture and just focus on continental Europe, it's practically not there at all.

Louis

Perhaps it is our lack of collective societal memory of the church's control over politics?  Poor history education?  Arrogance and hubris?

It's an interesting question.  My first impulse was "Too many fundies", but after all is said and done, that's rather circular.  Too many fundies because of too many fundies.

Does it begin all the way back in Plymouth and Jamestown etc. (Europe exporting all the real whack jobs to here), or is it more a reflection of the late 19th / early 20th century fundimoronigelical movement?  If the latter, what caused it to gain such a foothold?

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,09:55   

There's probably one thing that could be good about fixing blame for the situation, if that is to figure out causation so that it may be corrected more expeditiously.

But there's a lot of ways in which trying to assign blame is of far less importance than working toward a general populace that not only accepts science but understands it in some significant sense.

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JohnW



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,11:43   

Quote (skeptic @ May 16 2007,20:14)
Louis, I'm not trying to make a biologic link but given the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe in God (JohnW) the influence on children is tremendous.  

I was wondering what that creaking noise was last night.  Turns out it was goalposts being moved.

I'll take this as an admission that your suggestion that the majority of the population is fundie creationist was either inadvertantly misleading, or deliberate bullshit.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,12:59   

JohnW, no moving goalposts here.  What do you consider a fundie creationist? hmm?  Somebody who believes in God?  Surely the majority of the US population are not FCs and yet they believe in God.

This term, FC, is just too broad to work for these purposes unless you do think that the majority of the population is made up of moronic fundamentalist creationist (Lou).  If so then useful dialoge on this subject is at an end.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,13:28   

Various polls have been taken over a period of decades with a  position statement like, "God created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years". So far as I know, the percentage that has taken that position as opposed to one of the others that are not incompatible with accepting common descent has never gotten to 50% or more.

Feel free to cite evidence for the claim that the majority in the USA grow up rejecting evolutionary science...

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JohnW



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,14:11   

Quote (skeptic @ May 17 2007,12:59)
JohnW, no moving goalposts here.  What do you consider a fundie creationist? hmm?  Somebody who believes in God?  Surely the majority of the US population are not FCs and yet they believe in God.

This term, FC, is just too broad to work for these purposes unless you do think that the majority of the population is made up of moronic fundamentalist creationist (Lou).  If so then useful dialoge on this subject is at an end.

I'd say the term "fundie creationist" is pretty narrow, which is why you haven't been able to come up with a source for your (implied) assertion that they make up more than 50% of the population.

Only one person on this thread is equating belief in a god with creationism.  It's not Lou.

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,15:36   

Here's the most recent I could find:

Newsweek Poll

As Wesley said, less than 50% reject evolution outright, but 48% is terribly close.  In fact, I'd love to see a similar comparison to Europe.  If anyone has that data I think that would be interesting.

But I'm looking at the larger majority and speaking in the context of this board.  For example, go back and read Lenny's post about the fundies and stupid people.  That's what I was originally responding to.  How much of the population is he referring to?  How much of the beliefs of those 90% would qualify them as fundie creationists?  My admonition to him was that you just can not disregard that many people.  Even at the 48% and assuming only adults, you're talking about 100 million card-toting fundie creationists (by this board's defintion).  There is a reason that this many people believe what they believe and I think the labeling these people as stupid and ignoring that reality is non or even counter productive.

  
JohnW



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,16:32   

You're buying 48%?  Look here (evo/creo question is #12).  Note that according to the poll, 13% of agnostics and atheists are YECs, and another 27% are theistic evolutionists.  That to me says either "badly worded question" or "badly designed poll".

Note also that 48% are YECs, but only 39% think evolution is not well-supported by the evidence.

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,17:55   

Quote (skeptic @ May 17 2007,12:59)
This term, FC, is just too broad to work for these purposes unless you do think that the majority of the population is made up of moronic fundamentalist creationist (Lou).

Did you just call me a moronic fundamentalist creationist, pard'?  Em 'er's fittin' words, Credulous Boy!

Seriously though, while I wouldn't argue that "the majority of the population is made up of moronic fundamentalist creationist", ya sure do bump into a bunch of 'em these days.  More than is healthy, I think.  Geez, ya' can't even enjoy a virtual beer after the damned bar closes with the boys without steppin' on one of the little toad(ie)s.

Just sayin'.

I am curious however, why the (bowel) movement gained such traction.  Given my history, I don't think I can speak very objectively about it.  I'm sure the answer lies in the muddled wasteland which is left of my brain after my own experience with fundymorongelicalism, but that's an ugly place I try to keep locked up tight.  I don't like looking at that mess too often - it's rather scary.

Anyways, the long and the short of it is that the pastor who "raised me up" once told me that the average member of our church was only a member for about two years.  If that's the case, you'd think eventually the movement would starve, but it just never seems to lack new blood.

Do we all have our moments (years) of braindeadedness that we have to work through?  What makes person A more susceptible to get sucked into the pit than person B?  Why does person A wake up from the nightmare after two years, while person C is stuck there forever?  And why the hell would seemingly intelligent person D give person C the time of day, given the absolute gibberish that person C is spouting?

And what's up with person E's socks?  Why is one blue and one red?

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"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,19:10   

Quote (skeptic @ May 17 2007,15:36)
 My admonition to him was that you just can not disregard that many people.  

Sure you can.  Wrong is wrong, no matter WHAT percentage of the population believes it.  After all, over half of Americans still think that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks.

And they're all wrong.  Every single one of them.

And yes, they are stupid and ignorant, too.

(shrug)

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,19:19   

Now wait a minute, I supply evidence and the actual evidence is dismissed because it contradicts the opposing point.  Who does that sound like?  In fact, that actually sounds like a republican talking point, "Polls done by the mainstream media are inherently flawed and poorly worded."  Who am I talking to?

But seriously, you can also look at the Don't Knows that increase dramatically from one question to the next.  What does that mean?  We have to use the available data or present alternate data.  That's the best we can do.

Lou would you consider yourself a radical atheist?  I have a mind to use you as an example in an upcoming debate Louis and I are going to have.

Lenny, that's pretty harsh and arrogant.  If you want affect hearts and minds you can't immediately alienate those very hearts and minds you wish to change.  Think about Lou's question as to why this movement still persists and then thinks of the mega-churches and examine their tactics or messages.  I think you'll see a difference.

  
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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,19:36   

Quote (skeptic @ May 17 2007,19:19)
Lenny, that's pretty harsh and arrogant.

Yes, Skeptic --- reality IS harsh and arrogant.  Reality is unfair, unforgiving, and doesn't give a damn about your heart or mind.

People who are wrong, are wrong.  Period.  No matter HOW many of them there are.

Sorry if you don't like that.  (shrug)

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(Permalink) Posted: May 17 2007,19:45   

Quote (skeptic @ May 17 2007,19:19)
 If you want affect hearts and minds you can't immediately alienate those very hearts and minds you wish to change.

You proceed from a false assumption --- I have no interest whatsoever in changing fundie or creationist hearts or minds. (shrug)  

The fundies have not (yet) repealed the First Amendment, so creationists have as much right as anyone else to believe whatever the heck they want to, no matter HOW silly or stupid it might be.  And as long as they don't try to use the power of the state to force their stupid crap onto everyone else (and that of course is exactly what they ARE trying to do), then I am content to let them live immersed in their stupidness to their heart's content.  If they want to believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, or that fossils are the drowned bodies from Noah's Flood, then as far as I am concerned they can preach that in church every Sunday from now until Jesus comes back, and I couldn't care less.

But . . .

If they try to push their crap onto everyone else through public schools (particularly by lying to everyone by claiming that their religious doctrines are actually "science"), then I will use every available means to tear their head off and pee down the hole.

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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,07:38   

Quote

Now wait a minute, I supply evidence and the actual evidence is dismissed because it contradicts the opposing point.  Who does that sound like?  In fact, that actually sounds like a republican talking point, "Polls done by the mainstream media are inherently flawed and poorly worded."  Who am I talking to?

But seriously, you can also look at the Don't Knows that increase dramatically from one question to the next.  What does that mean?  We have to use the available data or present alternate data.  That's the best we can do.



Skeptic, have you learned absolutely nothing in your time here?  If the best evidence we have is worthless crap, then it's worthless crap.  You still can't call it evidence just because it's the best we have.

If I say that I asked a bunch of people if they believe Skeptic has hair and 72% responded "Yes", that's crap.  We don't know how many people I asked, the question is not specific enough, and we aren't even sure if any of them even know who Skeptic is.  The question is crap, the data is crap, and the conclusion that "Skeptic has hair" is crap, and even the conclusion that "72% of people believe Skeptic has hair" is crap.

Yet it's the best we have.  Do we use it anyway, just because it's the best we have?

(Here's a little hint:  The answer is no.)


Quote (skeptic @ May 17 2007,19:19)

Lou would you consider yourself a radical atheist?  I have a mind to use you as an example in an upcoming debate Louis and I are going to have.



Depends on what day you ask me.

I think asking whether or not I'm an atheist is about as intelligent a question as asking whether or not I believe in the Tooth Fairy.  It's sad that the question need even be asked of anyone over the age of five.

That said, I prefer to be in the "Kinder, Gentler Lenny Flank Atheist Camp ™ ", in that people should be allowed to believe whatever ridiculous fairy tale they choose, so long as they don't try to push it into schools, pass it off as reality or science, or govern my country by their version of that fairy tale.  Mostly, if you want to believe that invisible people live in the sky and whisper in your ear, have at it.  Just don't expect me to share your delusions.

The problem is that Fundymorongelicals do try to push it into schools - and wherever else they can - in an attempt to force the rest of us into their Holy Theocracy.  They also continue to dupe the ignorant and the downtrodden out of their money and those two things tend to piss me off and I drift more towards the "Fuck the Stupid Bastards PZ Myers Atheist Camp ™ ".

(Now I've obviously hyperbolized the "Atheist Camp" situation for demonstration purposes only, just for the official record.  It is not my intent to misrepresent anyone on that score.)

I look forward to watching the aforementioned debate.  It should be pretty funny.

Regards,

Lou FCD

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skeptic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,09:48   

Duely noted Lou, from here forward I'll remember that polls conducted by Newsweek are crap.  As for the rest, I'll take that as a yes for demostration purposes only.

  
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,10:41   

Quote (skeptic @ May 18 2007,09:48)
Duely noted Lou, from here forward I'll remember that polls conducted by Newsweek are crap.  As for the rest, I'll take that as a yes for demostration purposes only.

(sigh)

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,10:59   

Oooooh Skeptic and Lou both have the same number of posts. It's evidence of a creator I tells ya! Teleology! Teleology!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programme.

Louis

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,11:08   

And what's worse: that was my 1000th post and I wasted it on a feeble joke. Oh the humanity!

At least I didn't set up a whole thread praising my greatness like that Hughes fellow. Some say he's magnificent you know.

Anyway I can now bask in my irrefutable proof of a creator god. I have done something that AFDave, GoP, FTK and everyone else has failed to do: by using my 1000th post to mention that Skeptic and Lou have 561 posts each at the time of writing it, I have done something too unlikely to be a coincidence or product of random chance or molecular fluctuations. Thus it MUST have been designed. I ran it through the EF and checked for specified complexity with my all new tinfoil hat and Specifiedcomplexometer and came out with the answers "Space Aliens Done It And Run Away" and also "Possibly Stonehenge and Ley Lines", which is obviously a dead giveaway. There is a God and I am his profit prophet.

Hallelujah Praise Be And Send ME Your Money!

Agincourt! Agincourt!

Louis

Even I think you're God now. Women will be begging you to fiull their wombs with your holy seed and you can by a houseboat. Homo dt

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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,11:26   

Quote (Louis @ May 18 2007,10:59)

Oooooh Skeptic and Lou both have the same number of posts. It's evidence of a creator I tells ya! Teleology! Teleology!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programme.

Louis



It ain't the quantity, bubba.  It's the quality.  Or perhaps the entertainment value, I'm not sure.

I suppose this:

Quote (Skeptic @ May 18 2007,09:48)

Duely noted Lou, from here forward I'll remember that polls conducted by Newsweek are crap.  As for the rest, I'll take that as a yes for demostration purposes only.



Answers this:

Quote (Lou FCD @ May 18 2007,07:38)

Skeptic, have you learned absolutely nothing in your time here?



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Fross



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,13:50   

speaking of not so bright middle school students:

my dad taught biology to middle schoolers and one student asked him when color came around.  My dad was a little confused and had the student clarify.  The student said "well wasn't everything black and white when you were a kid?  When did color appear on earth?"   He casually answered that color appeared halfway through the first screening of the Wizard of Oz and the world was amazed.

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,17:44   

Quote
They affected the law and future actions but how many of the lay public knew or changed their opinions based upon those cases.  


just repeating what you said the first time, while what you seem to be best at, does nothing to support your argument.

you don't actually have any idea how to support your contention, do you?

of course not.

I, on the other hand, pointed out those three case as VERY clear examples of ones that DID INDEED change public attitudes about the issues those cases covered.

you can ignore the facts all you want, as you almost always do, but it simply doesn't do much for your argument when you do.

pathetic.

   
Quote
As Wesley said, less than 50% reject evolution outright, but 48% is terribly close.


that's called "moving the goalposts", in case you missed why the term was applied to you.

here's some simple math for you:

x<.50 is NOT a majority.

even considering the form of the questions asked, this is as high as it has ever gotten, you can check the gallup poll data for the last 20 years yourself; it was examined directly in the Nat Geo article on evolution that came out in Nov. 2004, which might be an easier read for you.

and you also ignored Wes' post detailing how the Kitzmiller case did indeed affect public attitudes.

Quote
Now wait a minute, I supply evidence and the actual evidence is dismissed because it contradicts the opposing point.


that's NOT evidence in support of your contentions, but I doubt you even realize it.

what's more, you compelely failed to address why the media has such interest in covering high profile trials.  

you're simply wrong, as usual.

I bet you also thought GW's last election victory was a "mandate", too, right?

when you get back, you should try to track down the paper discussed on PT in this thread:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/05/is_creationism.html

note the following generalized statement from Matzke in that thread:

   
Quote
Historians and creationism watchers have long noted several strong and quite reliable psychological generalizations that can be made about creationists – e.g., how creationists jump to conclusions based on what naively seems like “common sense” to them, an almost instinctual dualism- and design-based thinking, a place of pride for “childlike faith”, an old-fashioned Baconian attitude to science (Facts good! Theories bad!!), a severe difficulty with probabilities and other abstract topics, a severe case of typological thinking and an inability to even correctly conceptualize a particular proposed “transitional” organism, an amazingly uncritical acceptance and blind repetition of anything their own authorities say, etc…


and see how many of these observations apply to your own posts over the last year.

I sure see a lot of them that apply.  If you fail to, I'd be happy to point them out for you one at a time, starting with:

   
Quote
a severe difficulty with probabilities and other abstract topics


It's occassionally amusing that you are mentally incapable of seeing your own patterns in this regard, but more often it's simply irritating.

 
Quote
We're talking about hearts and minds


perhaps you should try to define that for the rest of us, who most likely think it translates to attitudes and opinions.

I, for the life of me, can't possibly think of any other way of defining that, and if that's the definition, then you're simply dead wrong about high profile court cases not affecting public attitudes and opinions.

It qualifies as one of the most ridiculous positions you've taken on this board, and that covers a lot of ground mr. "no transitional fossil support" man.

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2007,17:57   

Quote
by using my 1000th post to mention that Skeptic and Lou have 561 posts each at the time of writing it, I have done something too unlikely to be a coincidence or product of random chance or molecular fluctuations.


SLoT VIOLATOR!!!

I'm telling your wife.

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"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

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BWE



Posts: 1898
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(Permalink) Posted: May 23 2007,17:52   

Quote (Ichthyic @ May 16 2007,17:59)
Quote
There is no fundemental difference in many middle-schoolers' minds between magic and science. None.


well that's unfortunate that your experience with middle-school kids was such a letdown, but they aren't ALL like that.

I've taught elementary school kids, even, that have a pretty decent grasp of how basic science works.

My guess would be that kids who have a decent grasp of what science is learned it from parents that had a decent grasp of what science is, or else had several damn fine teachers along the way.

I don't recall, even when I was in middle school so long ago (damn, I hate middle age), that even half of the students were flunking the basic general science/biology course they offered there, and things like the carbon cycle were being taught, along with basic cellular biology, and even a smattering of evolution.

I'm curious if there is an area effect to your observations?

Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to this thread.

My experience with middle school includes over two decades of marriage to a middle school science teacher. Her school sits in an afluent area. Parents are often Dr.'s Lawyers, Businessfolk, government officials and so on. And I've seen a lot of classes go through. My feeling is that basically nobody really gets it. Even the educated parents don't really get it because it's boring if you only take the 2 classes your college required.  I would venture to say that science careers offer a particularly insulated group of peers; that the anti-science PR of the Discovery Institute et.al. works. For those who don't care, two sides appear to be fighting over some arcane issue. Lots of people read the horoscope section with just a little bit of willing suspension of disbelief.

Even smart kids, if they don't have references, sometimes think they are simply seeing one side of a debate when they go to science class. It's hard to make the references. It's hard to create that little spot in the brain that says logic, go this way, illogic, go that way. Or maybe even more important, to a kid who can plainly see that they lack the ability to ever build a computer from raw materials, there is no reason to catagorize it apart from magic.

Outreach is critical. I agree, we should be paid for it. My department many years ago got an outreach budget and we put together a great program for getting kids into the idea of science influencing policy. We broke the science down to very basic levels and presented it in a lecture, a field trip and a lab. It worked. We lost our budget. I take one or two half-days off every month to do classrom outreach. When kids meet a "scientist" and find out what kind of education you might need to work in a science field, what kind of work they could expect etc., the science becomes concrete. They met someone who does that. They know something about what "that" is.

These kids get good grades. They do very well on state exams. But they don't make the information real.

I could go on. Maybe I will later.

My 2c

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Look what it's done so far

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: May 23 2007,17:53   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 17 2007,09:55)
There's probably one thing that could be good about fixing blame for the situation, if that is to figure out causation so that it may be corrected more expeditiously.

But there's a lot of ways in which trying to assign blame is of far less importance than working toward a general populace that not only accepts science but understands it in some significant sense.

Absolutely.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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Ichthyic



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(Permalink) Posted: May 23 2007,18:15   

Quote
My feeling is that basically nobody really gets it.


gets it at what level?

I'd have to admit that it wasn't until I was near to getting my undergrad degree in aquatic biology that i really started to grasp exactly how the ToE really works, as an example.

You get some idea and some general notions, even as early as middle school, but then you aren't really expected to understand the nuances of the theory, even at most undergrad institutions, to tell the truth.  I ran into a lot of grad students who needed remedial education in how the theory works, even at Berkeley.

I guess my ppint is that I agree that it could be taught better, but I'm not as sure that there are large groups that are simply incapable of learning what real science is all about.

Quote
It's hard to create that little spot in the brain that says logic, go this way, illogic, go that way. Or maybe even more important, to a kid who can plainly see that they lack the ability to ever build a computer from raw materials, there is no reason to catagorize it apart from magic.


the first part i would agree with, the second simply means either you keep trying harder, or you learn to deal with the limitations presented.  In fact, it also suggests that we should create more room for teaching critical thinking and logic at an earlier age, and more rigorously, as one way to deal with the issue you raise.

yes, I doubt that even the largest percentage of kids will "get" science at such an early age (and some never will), but many do, hence we end up with quite a few graduate students who end up becoming professors themselves.


Quote
. We broke the science down to very basic levels and presented it in a lecture, a field trip and a lab. It worked.


Quote
These kids get good grades. They do very well on state exams. But they don't make the information real.



To be honest, I'm still kinda unsure exactly what you're getting at here.

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BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 23 2007,18:51   

Quote (Ichthyic @ May 23 2007,18:15)

Quote
 My feeling is that basically nobody really gets it.


gets it at what level?

I'd have to admit that it wasn't until I was near to getting my undergrad degree in aquatic biology that i really started to grasp exactly how the ToE really works, as an example.

You get some idea and some general notions, even as early as middle school, but then you aren't really expected to understand the nuances of the theory, even at most undergrad institutions, to tell the truth.  I ran into a lot of grad students who needed remedial education in how the theory works, even at Berkeley.  
Quote


I guess my ppint is that I agree that it could be taught better, but I'm not as sure that there are large groups that are simply incapable of learning what real science is all about.
Not incapable, unaware. And taught better, yes but more to the point made real by visits from practicing professionals in scientific fields.

   
Quote
 
Quote
It's hard to create that little spot in the brain that says logic, go this way, illogic, go that way. Or maybe even more important, to a kid who can plainly see that they lack the ability to ever build a computer from raw materials, there is no reason to catagorize it apart from magic.


the first part i would agree with, the second simply means either you keep trying harder, or you learn to deal with the limitations presented.  In fact, it also suggests that we should create more room for teaching critical thinking and logic at an earlier age, and more rigorously, as one way to deal with the issue you raise.

yes, I doubt that even the largest percentage of kids will "get" science at such an early age (and some never will), but many do, hence we end up with quite a few graduate students who end up becoming professors themselves.
Right. And then they have to choose whether to do any outreach or not. That's a tough one if there's no financial incentive.

And, remember this about critical thinking: C is average.


   
Quote
 
Quote
. We broke the science down to very basic levels and presented it in a lecture, a field trip and a lab. It worked.


   
Quote
These kids get good grades. They do very well on state exams. But they don't make the information real.



To be honest, I'm still kinda unsure exactly what you're getting at here.


That    
Quote
I think that scientific culture is long overdue for revision to encourage social engagement. Scientists should be rewarded for community involvment in explaining the role of science and what science does. Currently, though, pretty much the opposite applies. Scientists who do spend time in community outreach are penalized for those activities. The penalty is often the automatic one that there is only a finite amount of time, and those who do community outreach are likely to be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who do not.
is a serious issue. Critical thinking is uncommon at any school anywhere (My hypothesis). And we reward specialists rather than generalists with high paying professional careers.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
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