Skip to comments.Citizen MD [American Medical Association op-ed against Intelligent Design]
Posted on 12/03/2005 6:18:54 AM PST by Right Wing Professor
Im afraid we live in loopy times. How else to account for the latest entries in Americas culture wars: science museum docents donning combat gloves against rival fundamentalist tour groups and evolution on trial in a Pennsylvania federal court. For those keeping score, so far this year its Monkeys: 0, Monkey Business: 82. That's 82 evolution versus creationism debates in school boards or towns nationwidethis year alone. 
This past summer, when most Americans were distracted by thoughts of beaches and vacations or the high price of gasoline (even before the twin hits of Katrina and Rita), 2 heavy-weight political figures joined the President of the United States to weigh in on a supposedly scientific issue. US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Arizona Senator John McCain, and President George W. Bush each endorsed the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in the science classroom. Can anyone reasonably convince me that these pronouncements were not just cynical political punditry but, rather, were expressions of sincere beliefs?
So you have to ask yourself in light of all of these events, are we headed back to the past with no escape in the future? Are we trapped in a new period of history when science, once again, is in for the fight of its life?
In times like these, as inundated as we are by technical wizardry, one might conclude that American technological supremacy and know-how would lead, inevitably, to a deeper understanding or trust of science. Well, it doesnt. Perhaps just the opposite is true. Technology and gee whiz gadgetry has led to more suspicion rather than less. And a typical Americans understanding of science is limited at best. As far as evolution is concerned, if youre a believer in facts, scientific methods, and empirical data, the picture is even more depressing. A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Science found that 64 percent of respondents support teaching creationism side by side with evolution in the science curriculum of public schools. A near majority48 percentdo not believe that Darwins theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries. Thirty-three percent believe that a general agreement does not exist among scientists that humans evolved over time .
What if we become a nation that cant chew gum, walk down the street, and transplant embryonic stem cells all at the same time? Does it matter?
New York Times journalist Cornelia Dean, who balances her time between science reporting for the Times and lecturing at Harvard, told me that she believes that science stands in a perilous position. Science, as an institution, has largely ceded the microphone to people who do not necessarily always embrace the scientific method, she says. Unless scientists participate in the public life of our country, our discourse on a number of issues of great importance becomes debased .
Others, such as journalist Chris Mooney, point to the increasing politicization of science as a pollutant seeping into our nations psyche. In his recent book, The Republican War on Science, Mooney spells out the danger of ignorance in public life when ideology trumps science.
Science politicization threatens not just our public health and the environment but the very integrity of American democracy, which relies heavily on scientific and technical expertise to function. At a time when more political choices than ever before hinge upon the scientific and technical competence of our elected leaders, the disregard for consensus and expertiseand the substitution of ideological allegiance for careful assessmentcan have disastrous consequences .
Jon D. Miller, PhD, a political scientist on faculty at Northwestern Universitys School of Medicine, believes that the sophisticated questions of biology that will confront each and every American in the 21st Century will require that they know the difference between a cell and a cell phone and are able to differentiate DNA from MTV. For decades, Miller has been surveying Americans about their scientific knowledge. We are now entering a period where our ability to unravel previously understood or not understood questions is going to grow extraordinarily, says Miller. As long as you are looking at the physics of nuclear power plants or the physics of transistors [all 20th Century questions] it doesnt affect your short-term belief systems. You can still turn on a radio and say it sounds good but you dont have to know why it works. As we get into genetic medicine, infectious diseases if you dont understand immunity, genetics, the principles of DNA, youre going to have a hard time making sense of these things .
These ideological battles arent likely to vanish any time soon. If anything, an organized and emboldened fundamentalist religious movement buttressed by political power in Washington will continue to challenge accepted scientific theory that collides with religious beliefs. So one must ask, is it too farfetched to see these ideological battles spilling over into areas of medical research and even into funding at the National Institutes of Health?
Now I am not asking for a world that doesnt respect religious belief. My education as a Roman Catholic balanced creed and science. In the classroom of my youth, one nun taught creationism in religion class while another taught evolution in science, and never the twain did meet.
So what does one do? How can a medical student, a resident, or a physician just beginning to build a career become active in these larger public battles? Burt Humburg, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Penn States Hershey Medical Center, is one role model. Hes been manning the evolutionary ramparts since his medical school days in Kansas in the late 1990s when he became active in Kansas Citizens for Science. On a brief vacation from his residency volunteering as a citizen advocate for the federal trial in Pennsylvania, he said education is the key role for the physician. While he realizes that medical students, residents and physicians might not view themselves as scientists, per se, he sees himself and his colleagues as part of the larger scientific collective that cant afford to shirk its duty. The town scientist is the town doctor, so whether we want it or not, we have the mantlethe trappingsof a scientist .
It is time for the medical community, through the initiative of individual physicians, to address not only how one can heal thy patient, but also how one can heal thy nation. There are many ways to get involved; from the most rudimentaryattending school board meetings, sending letters to the editor, and volunteering at the local science museumto the more demandingrunning for office, encouraging a spouse or partner to do so, or supporting candidates (especially financially) who are willing to speak out for science. As Tip ONeill, the larger-than-life Speaker of the House of Representatives, famously declared, All politics is local. Speak out for science. Isnt that a message that should be advanced in every physicians office?
Northwesterns Jon Miller concedes that speaking out may come with a price, It wont make [physicians]...popular with many people but is important for any profession, particularly a profession based on science to do so . Consider this: shouldnt civic leadership be embedded in the mind of every blooming physician? In the end, doesnt combating this virulent campaign of anti-knowledge lead us back to that old adage of evolutionary leadership by example, Monkey see, monkey do? Seize the day, Doc.
The buffoons are the ignoramuses strolling around museums lying to kids that the history of the world is 5,000 years long, that living things do not evolve, and that there is no evidence when there is massive physical proof. It is really quite sad. I myself believe and trust in God, but I also know evolution is a fact, and am not threatened by it. The genius and beauty of it makes me awe our Creator even more.
I think ID proponents are misguided. It is the SOCIAL Darwinists who are the enemy. The abortionists, the euthanists, the "animal rights" activists and fascist environmentalists. That is the real threat. Not Charles Darwin. Not the Galapogos. Not evolution.
It seems so. This absurd "battle" recalls the Trial of Galileo. When the Church endorsed Ptolemaic nonsense over the truth, the great decline of the Catholic world began, and the subsequent rise of the Protestant Northern Europe. If we let people who reject science win again, it will be the United States which suffers this time.
I know Ruse's honesty is an embarrassment to you - but what can I say? LOL
The quote accurately reflects what Ruse believes. Your protest is just a reflection of your embarrassment at his honesty. LOL
Doubting the overreaching claims of evo will bring about the end of the world? Maybe as you know it. It might bring about the end of some grants--there's a lot of science, probably most, that can make use of evo as a model and not buy in at all to the grander claims of evos.
Evo as a model is vital. As anything else? Just a Nat'l Geo pastime. Like cosmology, archeology, paleontolgy--interesting, but ultimately so speculative because it is unaccountable. The real scientist is accountable--if he's creating a new med, he might kill people. That keeps him from making ridiculous claims and daydreaming through beautfiul artists' renderings of the dinosaur world. We can't really afford all the daydreamers, anyway--the accountable science is expensive enough.
I am not advocating the following, just throwing it out for your input
If things get worse...
What if a fair number of science supporting conservatives were to join their local democratic party and form "Democrats for a sane fiscal policy" or some such. Run a candidate or two. Ally with the local Democrats for Life (they really exist and are quite vocal, but they are not just pro-life, they are anti-war, so it would depend on the international situation)
IOW...coopt the democratic party to save science. Sneak conservative values in one at a time or return to supporting Republicans as soon as the worst of the attack on science is over.
So let me get this straight.
Scientists who work hard, research, and publish on evolution (about 50,000 peer-reviewed papers in the last decade alone) are "entitled".
But ID proponents, who do no research, do not work, and have published ZERO during that same decade, are somehow justified???
Yeah, right /sarc.
I have a different perspective. Scientists who work hard, conduct research, and publish hare true scientists. And IDers who produce nothing in 10 years, but seem to pull a scam where they can still get themselves funded, are, by definition, scam artists (or feather merchants or snake-oil salesmen).
Found another one.
This quote was taken from an area in Darwin's Notebook M where he was discussing an evolutionary approach to what has become the cognitive sciences. It is not a reference to the ToE in general as is implied by this quote mine.
Wow--gotta save your post for future ref! Placemark...
Coopting is not new..but you have to keep your principles when you do it.
I am very opposed to a new middle ages scenario developing
If anything the anti-scientists are more like Marxists thany anything else we've seen recently...think Mao's flowers blooming and the overthrow of the educated in Stalin's Russia.
Because that's what happens when your doctor does not believe in evolution.
Evolution, like all of science is incomplete. That is why we continue to work on it. But it is typical creationist ignorence to state: " blinded by their materialist worldview". The arrogance is astounding. By what omniscience do you think you can you possible state so categorically what scientists think? Can you read minds? What basis do you have other than your sheer arrogance?
Wholly bereft of any argument based in science evolutionists are forced to resort to personally attacking the people who raise such important questions.
Nonsense again. You couldn't possibly recognize science, so you can you state that evolution is bereft of it?? MOreover, we don't attack the people who raise important questions. Indeed, when ID was first proposed, it was not attacked. That was 10 years ago. But after 10 years, ID has ceased to be a working hypothesis. It is time for results. What are the results of ID?? How many published papers to document their research and investigations?? Absolutely ZERO. Nothing, Nada. So, after 10 years we correctly attack ID because it has failed. The IDers had their chance. After 10 years they have nothing to show for it. We don't attack those who raise questions. We do attack those charlatans who produce nothing in 10 years except criticism.
You and your fellow evolutionists are in trouble, RWP, because your theory sucks.
This is your educated opinion, I suppose. And your alternative??? ID, whose total contribution to science is zero??? Oh yeah, that's an improvement.
Let's see, RWP is an actual working scientist who actually produces science results and publishes them.
And you are?
But somehow he should be ashamed???
One of my favorite conservative authors is Thomas Sowell. And Dr. Sowell's central point quite often is that our society is easily divided into those who produce things of value and those who criticise them for doing it, but produce nothing. It's a fair definition of why many are conservative... we actually produce.
It's pretty clear what RWP produces in science.
It's pretty clear that you can criticize. Now, what do you produce??
I might point out that the whole idea of using any kind of animal as transplant tissue in the early eighties hardly portends a Terrible World That Evos Don't Run.
'Twas ego killed the child.
"You had it spelled out for you in post #71. Stop trying to make me responsible for your inability to comprehend it. :)"
No, you never explained it. Please do so, in YOUR words. What was Darwin challenging in Locke's metaphysics? And what is the *gotcha!* about the quote from Darwin?
Unless of course, you are incapable of explaining it in your words. :)
No, Baby Fae is not a poster child for anything. Baby Fae is a tragedy.
As for ego...evolution said the material would not be compatible, Biblical literalism dismissed the evidence.
Will you be joining the Democrats soon to stave off this calamity?
And Hitler's policies ran a few brilliant scientists out of Germany just before an important war (just when he needed them the most).
Don't you realize how utterly bizarre and ahistorical the behavior of antievolutionists is in this respect? No group of scientists who sincerely believed they possessed a superior new theory, or a compelling refutation of an existing theory, would ever, or have ever, behaved in this way.
A scientist pushing a new, fringe, controversial, etc, idea will seek to recruit working scientists, or at least advanced science students likely to soon begin a research career, who can help develop and advance his ideas; NOT high school students, or even college students taking intro-biology to fulfill a course requirement, who can contribute nothing!
A scientist who sincerely believes that his new ideas have real scientific merit wants other scientists in the end to notice, consider and test those ideas. Therefore such a scientist will NEVER attempt to force adoption of his ideas in secondary school and introductory curricula, knowing this can only INCREASE hostility toward them in the scientific community, as it will appear to be an attempted "end run" around the process of peer review.
It was not intended as an experiment you unbelievably ignorant clown!
Oh yeah, I'm just shaking in my boots!!! LOL. Some ID'er snake oil salesman with an 8th grade education could really compete with me. This is beyond funny.
Here's why it is really funny. My personal publication record, all by myself, over the last ten years, exceeds all those published on ID by anyone anywhere. The entire scientific output of ID is less than just me. (And my peer review record isn't all that great, I tend to publish more in proceedings).
But these guys are going to take my programs??? Yeah, right.
Oh, it was an experiment all right--one they had no business attempting, but it was a different time. Now they do that sort of thing in SKorea... Heart surgeons did a lot of that in the late seventies and early eighties--this was surely a case of overreaching ego. I don't quite know what the evo-keeing is about, though. Would a chimp's organ have done better?
However, the claim is sometimes, and more plausibly, made that evolutionary theory, along with some other scientific theories, functions as a kind of attitudinal metaphysical system [Ruse 1989]. It is (in my opinion, rightly) thought to influence the kinds of problems and solutions dealt with by science. There is no problem with this, since in order for a discipline to make any progress, the field of possible problems (essentially infinite, to use a malapropism) must be restricted to some set of plausible and viable research options. The theory of evolution as now consensually held acts to narrow the range and limit the duplication required. This is harmless, and is true of any field of science.
Ruse also describes what he calls "metaphysical Darwinism" [Ruse 1992] (as opposed to "scientific Darwinism") which is indeed a metaphysical system akin to a worldview, and which has expressed itself in numerous extra-scientific philosophies, including Spencer's, Teilhard's, and Haeckel's, or even the quasi-mystical views of Julian Huxley. These must be considered separate to the scientific theory, and are often in contradiction to the actual scientific models.
Other than this, the "metaphysic" of evolution by selection is primarily a research-guiding mindset that has been extraordinarily fruitful where no others have been [Hull 1989]. However, as a metaphysic, evolutionary theory is fairly poverty-stricken. This is what should be true of a scientific theory; for the number of conclusions beyond the empirical evidence that can be conjectured is unlimited. Any theory that committed itself to a metaphysical conclusion as a logical inference would be almost certainly false.
Those who need Cosmic Meaning need not fear that any version of evolutionary theory prohibits it; although neither does nor can it support it. Those evolutionists who have either argued in favour of Cosmic Meaning on the basis of evolutionary theory, or have argued that there can be no Cosmic Meaning because things evolve, are both wrong. The conclusions do not follow from the premises, simply because 'is' does not imply 'ought'. John Wilkins
John Wilkins, the author of the above quote, is a Philosopher of Science who has actually read and understood Ruse.
I suspect you have not.
It might work in a red state. Dems around here are pretty conservative - they have to be. On the other hand, I don't know if I could really bring myself to vote for a Dem. It just seems wrong :-)
I was more interested in targeting the more extreme fundamentalist Republicans. Santorum, for example, isn't fundie, but he's been outspokenly anti-evolution, and he's in trouble anyway. It would be better to target such guys in a primary, though.
Don't be silly.
Whatever her personal ethics are, it is always useful to show the Lurkers the reality of her posts.
BTW, you are doing a heck of a job.
On that we fully agree. No sarcasm. School vouchers is one of the reasons that I am a conservative.
It is also a central point for another reason. If the schools could be chosen by parents, then we would all care a lot less about what the government and the creationists (IDers) believe. They could all have their fairy tales.
One of the mistakes of creationists / IDers make is that they assume that we (Darwinists) argue so strongly because we are "afraid" that "our theory" might be challenged. But the reason is the same as for you creationists: we are really uncomfortable with some of the things people teach or want to teach our children.
I think you're right on both counts...it would have to be a red state, if at all and targeting the primaries would be a better approach.
Of course you'd have to promote Dems in red states. Blue states are already Democratic.
The message and the value of post 71 is easily understood. What is hard to understand is your penchant for presenting 'quote mines'.
For those lurkers out there.
A quote mine is a quote taken out of context and presented in such a way that its meaning is changed. The usual purpose is to make the original author appear to be agreeing with the miner. It is a contrived use of the 'Appeal to Authority' logical fallacy.
Agreed. But he did manage to keep most of the non-Jewish smart folk. Marxism might be called the (temporary) triumph of the Yahoos.
He prodices unfounded criticism.
It wouldn't work. It's like trying to move a 300 ton marshmallow (Ghost Busters, anyone?). Those who are not absorbed are alienated.
A third party seems most logical, but attempts so far have been pretty dismal failures.
I'm still trying to figure out what is supposed to be wrong with this. Anyone who makes a major contribution to science does more than all the philosophers who ever lived.
Yes, a chimp is a closer evolutionary relative so it stood a better chance of succeeding.
Others knew the risks and informed the patients.
This was an unnecessary risk taken by a willfully ignorant individual.
You can go on as much as you like about ego, but the doctor's clear statement was that the used a baboon because he didn't believe in evolution.
That's OK,-I stopped arguing with Democrats when I quit Compuserve. Carry on with your recruiting--watching with interst.
No, that's not the reasoning.
I like that 300 pound marshmallow too much to give you a proper response...I rarely LOL but I do grin big and wide.
Just let me know when you need #7.
Recruiting for what?
Your reading comprehension seems more than a bit off...
...or is it that you have no honest response to the Baby Fae fiasco so you are trying to confuse the issue?
The fact remains that a doctor who did not believe in evolution used his willful ignorance and killed a baby.