Tuesday, October 6, 2009

World Famous

This will probably be of no interest to anyone but me, but my brother Bill informs me that, in the course of scanning through the arcana of our blog's software he discovered that in the last three weeks Viewpoint has been visited by individuals whose IP addresses are located in over 60 different countries and a couple dozen states.

I have no idea how these folks found us, what it means, or if they're even stopping to read anything on the home page, but it's still pretty surprising in any event.

Here's a list of the countries:

  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Brazil
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Burkina Faso
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Latvia
  • Malaysia
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova, Republic of
  • Mongolia
  • Netherlands
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Maybe somebody has launched a virus that causes computers around the globe to ring up Viewpoint, I don't know, but there you have it, for what it's worth.


Dueling with the Darwinists

Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell, and Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution gave a presentation recently at the University of Oklahoma. As is typical of these events there was lots of name-calling from the Darwinians and attempts to abort the program before it got off the ground, but evidently none of these tactics worked. Wells files an interesting report on the proceedings at Evolution News and Views. Here's an excerpt:

Darwinist blogger P.Z. Myers, who had scolded the museum for letting us show the film [Darwin's Dilemma], did not come all the way from the University of Minnesota, Morris, to attend. Yet he wrote afterwards about Steve's September 28 lecture:

"I knew ahead of time exactly what it was going to be: complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, therefore, DESIGN. It doesn't follow. The logic is nonexistent. It's the kind of thing you'd expect a competent person with a Ph.D. in philosophy to recognize, but no, it's the same ol' thing, trotted out every time they get up to speak."

Of course, Myers is absolutely correct: Complexity, therefore design, doesn't follow. And yes, "you'd expect a competent person with a Ph.D. in philosophy" to know this.

That's why Steve Meyer devoted an entire chapter to it in his book. In fact, it's the chapter from which the book takes its name (Chapter 4.). If Myers had bothered to read Steve's book, he would have known this. Indeed, you'd expect that a competent person with a Ph.D. who's paid by the taxpayers of Minnesota to teach their children would read a book before ridiculing it. But no, it's the same ol' thing, trotted out every time Myers blogs on the subject.

I was particularly interested in this statement made by an evolutionist professor on campus who gave a talk to balance that of Meyer and Wells:

[Professor] Westrop concluded by taking exception to J.B.S. Haldane's claim that finding a fossil rabbit in the pre-Cambrian would prove Darwin's theory wrong. If such a fossil were found, Westrop said, paleontologists would simply revise their reconstruction of the history of life. During the Q&A, one student asked him whether any fossil find could falsify Darwin's theory, and Professor Westrop said "No."

This is revealing inasmuch as Darwinians frequently argue that, unlike Intelligent Design, their theory is genuine science because it can be falsified, that is we can imagine a discovery that would prove their theory false if it were actually made. Often they cite the discovery of a mammal fossil in a layer of rock believed to have formed much earlier than mammals existed. Westrop is saying, however, that such a find would not disprove Darwinism at all. In other words, Darwinism is not falsifiable, at least by the fossil record, and is thus no more "scientific" than is ID.

Wait until Judge Jones hears this.


Should We Extend the School Year?

I've been eager to find something for which I can commend our President and have been disappointed that his first eight months have offered so few opportunities. Nevertheless, I've persevered and have recently stumbled upon something on which he and I agree. The President believes, and I think he's right, that if we're going to improve education in this country we need to extend the school year.

This will, of course, be a very unpopular proposal with students and even more unpopular with employers who utilize student labor during the summer months, but it makes no sense to build multi-million dollar facilities and only use them, at least at full capacity, for 180 days, or so. It also makes no sense to bemoan the sorry state of our students' academic achievement but only devote half the year to their education.

There are arguments against pushing the academic year deeper into the summer, some more compelling than others, but if the quality of our children's education truly is a high priority then doing all we can to get them that education should trump those arguments.

Our current school year is a vestige of a time when students were needed during the summer to work the family farm and also a time when school buildings became saunas in the summer months. With most school districts now sporting air conditioned buildings, and relatively few students working in agriculture neither of those circumstances obtains any longer.

The article linked to above offers two arguments, however, that are admittedly serious objections to implementing a longer school year: The economic effect on businesses that rely on student employees (and those which rely on students with cash in their pockets to buy their wares), and the cost to taxpayers of having to pay teachers for working more days.

I don't know how, exactly, those two objections could best be addressed, but I do think that, in principle at least, President Obama is on the right track in trying to get students, at least the better students, more hours in school.