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Date: 2006/01/19 10:45:02, Link
Author: billgascoyne
One of the premier trade papers of the electronics industry posted a letter:

to which I have replied, and it looks like they're going to print my reply, which I include here (they will probably edit one or two things):

OK, business is slow and you guys are trying to start an argument here,
aren't you?

Jack G. Atkinson Jr.'s letter is straight Bible-belt creationist tripe.
It's an argument from incredulity ("I have qualifications that have
nothing to do with the issue, and I can't imagine 'X', Q.E.D.") combined
with an argument from authorities (Gitt and Behe) that have been
thoroughly discredited. Go ahead, folks, read Gitt and Behe, then go to and search for Gitt and Behe.In a nutshell, Gitt
missuses Claude Shannon's founding work in information theory, and Behe
rehashes the 19th century watchmaker analogy of William Paley. On top of
that, Atkinson uses the key creationist phrase "only a theory" which
indicates that he has no idea what the word means in a scientific
context (hint: it's way beyond the word he really means, which is
"hypothesis"). Still more standard creationist ideas can be found in his
inappropriate conflation of cosmology and biology. Creationists
typically get confused here, what with the Big Bang getting us from 13
billion years ago up to 4.5 billion years ago, geology (which Atkinson
ignores) giving us an idea about how long ago the Earth and the solar
system were formed, and biological evolution (which doesn't say anything
at all about the "particles" he complains about) taking us the rest of
the way. When you absolutely know that it all started "In the beginning"
and that was during one week about 6000 years ago, there's not much
difference in your mind between millions of years and billions of years,
or cosmology and biology.

One must admit that the entire "particles to man" flow does indeed have
one huge scientific hole in it, called "abiogenesis," that is, life from
non-life. Yeah, it's true, no one on this planet really knows how it
happened. Atkinson, however, would have all inquiry in this matter
brought to a screeching halt with the words, "God did it." Where would
we be if Ben Franklin had been satisfied with that answer regarding
lightning? The proper scientific answer is not "God did it" but "we
don't know," which is the beginning of wisdom. The bottom line, Mr.
Atkinson, is that what's under attack is not simply evolution, not
simply biology education, but science itself. And that jolly well should
be of concern to future EEs, and present ones.

Date: 2006/01/31 08:27:57, Link
Author: billgascoyne
A quotation from an authority on ridicule:

"At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted."