Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Survey For Anti-IDers

One of the most enduring misunderstandings in the ID/materialistic evolution debate is that ID is simply a variant of Creationism and therefore a transparent attempt to smuggle religion into public schools. This is, of course, not the case as Krauze at Telic Thoughts illustrates. He recently sent out a questionaire to a couple of dozen anti-ID bloggers asking them to respond. Here's what he sent:

Dear recipient,

You have been contacted because you contribute to a blog which has been identified as a "pro-science blog". I am conducting a survey on outsiders' perception of intelligent design, and I would appreciate your input. The results will be published on Telic Thoughts, an independent blog about intelligent design, and every reply will be treated as anonymous. Please read the following carefully, and send your answer to [my e-mail address.]

For the purpose of this survey, "creationism" will be defined as "a belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible" (source: Dictionary.com). "Evolution" will be defined as "the theory that all modern life forms are derived from one or a few common ancestors via descent with modification".

Please answer the following:

On which points are intelligent design and creationism identical?

A. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to have a particular interpretation of the Biblical creation account.

B. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to accept a particular age of the Earth and of the universe.

C. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to reject evolution.

D. Both creationism and intelligent design identify the Christian God as the creator.

E. Both creationism and intelligent design hold that there is an intelligence behind certain features of nature.

F. There are no points of similarity between creationism and intelligent design.

G. None of the above options accurately describe the relationship between creationism and intelligent design.

(Please check all that apply.)

His respondents were notably uncooperative:

Unfortunately, some ID critics didn't like the scientific method to be applied to themselves. Within 27 minutes, one of the respondents, Wesley Elsberry of The Austringer, had posted the contents of my letter, advising others to reply by choosing "G". And within hours, other blogs had followed, including the highly popular Pharyngula. As another respondent, Tara Smith, said, "If you received [a mail], check out their comments before sending your answer back." Predictably, all of the respondents who replied either chose "G" or refused to participate in the survey (as it was of course their right to do, the survey being voluntary).

The reaction of these "defenders of science" is itself an interesting piece of sociological data, and I might deal with them in a later post. For now, I will leave you with a question: If the poll was indeed "wretchedly incomplete", as Elsberry claims, why did he see it necessary to notify his fellow bloggers immediately after receiving the poll? Was he worried that some might feel that one or more of my options adequately described their perception of intelligent design?

Of course, the reason Krauze obtained such meager results from his survey is that the anti-ID crowd, if they had answered it honestly, would have had to acknowledge that there really isn't much similarity between ID and Creationism after all, and instantly one of their handiest arguments for bamboozling the public would have gone up in smoke. Rather than admit the truth and give up an effective piece of misleading propaganda, they simply refused to answer. This is a strange response by people who otherwise claim to hold truth in such high esteem.

Liberal Heretics

The liberal media are under assault from, strangely enough, .... the left. It's hard to believe, I know, but the southpaw hurlers at places like the Daily Kos are "mad as hell and not going to take it any more" from the likes of - are you sitting down? - The Washington Post and reliable lib warhorse Chris Matthews. All it takes is one little misstep, apparently, one tiny offense against orthodox doctrine, and the Taliban left will be screaming for your infidel head. John Leo has the story. Here's a snippet:

Two skirmishes are under way, one against The Washington Post and its ombudsman, Deborah Howell, the other against Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball." Howell's offense was writing that the sleazy Jack Abramoff had given money to Democrats as well as Republicans. That was inaccurate. A tide of angry and exceptionally abusive complaints flooded into the Post. Howell then corrected herself, writing that she should have said that Abramoff "directed" a considerable amount of his clients' money to Democrats, though he never gave any himself. That was correct, but vicious and amazingly obscene e-mail kept pouring in, so the Post shut down its Web site. (Not a good idea, in my opinion. It would have been better, though more expensive, to let readers vent, while editing out obscenities.)

The campaign against Chris Matthews has escalated into talk of a boycott, though the would-be boycotters prefer to call it an "appeal to advertisers." Matthews is accused of being soft on Republicans in general, and in particular, of comparing Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden. On Jan. 19, Matthews said on "Hardball" that in his new audio message, bin Laden "sounds like an over-the-top Michael Moore." Matthews was citing bin Laden's mention of "the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars to the influential people and war merchants in America." The next night, Matthews suggested that bin Laden was picking up the lingo of the American anti-war left, and asked, "Why would he start to talk like Moore?" Bloggers turned quickly against Matthews, a Democrat, calling him "a broadcasting neo-con," "stupid Bush lover" and "man whore for the GOP."

Ouch. "Stupid Bush lover." I'll bet that hurt.

The lefties are right, though. It's crazy to compare Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden. Moore's probably twice as heavy as bin Laden is.

The Eveready Presidency

We keep hearing that President Bush's approval numbers are in the tank and that he's a weakened president. This is perhaps more wishful thinking than it is an accurate reflection of the American voter's opinion of the president's job performance. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Rasmussen, which has been very reliable in the past, has him at 50%.

It's likely that most people contacted in these polls are only responding according to their perception of a MSM-generated virtual reality. We doubt that most people who are polled have any real idea what Bush is doing or why he's doing it. They just know that the media is hammering on him relentlessly so he must be pretty bad.

Indeed, Bush can be faulted for permitting excessively high spending, something Democrats should applaud him for, actually, and an incomprehensible insouciance toward the hemmorhage of illegal immigration across our southern border. Other than those sins, though, he's doing a fine job under extremely trying circumstances.

Nevertheless, just today another journalist, this time its Tom Friedman, tells us that we can "stick a fork" in this administration if President Bush doesn't do this, that, or the other thing. Some months ago it was E.J. Dionne who used the same metaphor for concluding that Bush was finished, and numerous others have been saying the same thing in different words for at least the last three years. If Bush had as many needles sticking out of him as he has cutlery sticking in him he'd be a porcupine.

Yet Bush keeps right on chugging along, chalking up one victory after another. His critics thought his presidency was finished prior to the '04 election, but he sent John Kerry back to the political oblivion which is his proper abode. The carpers gleefully pronounced his demise after Katrina, but nobody talks much about Katrina anymore, since it's become obvious that much of the incompetence in that tragedy was wielded with stunning profligacy by the inept Democratic mayor of New Orleans and Democratic governor of Louisianna. The Democrats expected that the Valerie Plame affair would send Bush's administration spiralling down in flames, but Bush has walked away from the inferno like one of those guys in the Book of Daniel who were cast into the fiery furnace but were never even singed.

Iraq is going moderately well, the economy is perky, and just today Bush ensconced his second nominee to the Supreme Court on the Bench. He's more like the Eveready bunny than an overdone turkey, and his frustrated opponents like Al Gore and Ted Kennedy are reduced to throwing infantile tantrums - stamping their feet, pounding their fists, and holding their breath till they turn blue. It's quite a spectacle, really.