Wednesday, February 01, 2006


The Sudden Emergence of Critical Analysis

Since the Dover decision there is, we sense, a new caution in the air. Divine design, to take but one example, morphed into critical analysis in the Utah legislature so suddenly it made the slow unfolding of the Cambrian Explosion look, well, positively geological by comparison.

Although the abrupt appearance of critical analysis might be interpreted in certain circles as evidence of separate creation, cultural anthropologists, bloggers, late-night comedians, and perhaps even judges will have little difficulty determining that critical analysis is but the latest spawn of a common ancestor: biblical literalism.

Creation "science" and intelligent design "theory" are, you might say, the Adam and Eve of the epigone critical analysis, Discovery Institute, the hovering midwife.

Critical analysis presents a characteristic morphology -- teach the controversy, teach all the scientific theories about evolution -- that makes it easy for connoisseurs of the organism to identify. The species also displays a unique social behavior -- individuals tend to gather in herds where they make a loud "shhhing" sound when the young ask adult animals where they came from.

Missouri House Bill 1266, a Midwestern variant displaying the protective coloration so typical of the species, requires teachers to identify “theory, hypothesis, conjecture, speculation, extrapolation, estimation, unverified data, consensus of scientific opinion, and philosophical belief," when they give their lessons, according to Missouri Citizens for Science.

Oh yeah, it also holds harmless any teacher who introduces creationism into the classroom, demonstrating convincingly that we are witnessing a micro rather than macroevolutionary event.

The abruptly evolved camouflage of critical analysis may prove -- once again -- ineffective in protecting it from the selective pressure placed on it by sharp-eyed predators who have adapted an uncanny ability to spot each of the variants of this species in its favored environment.

Scientists familiar with the organism suggest we should expect further, increasingly rapid adaptations of the organism. Extinction, they say, is unlikely.


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