Monday, March 20, 2006


Dodos Redux

On Friday, we ran a report by reader DR on the screening of Randy Olson’s “Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus” at Kansas State University and the panel discussion that followed it. DR was critical of Olson's film, writing that science that will lose if we allow ID proponents to define the turf and make us play by the rules of Madison Avenue or Hollywood.

Today, we're running a response to DR by reader SC. The sections in italics are from DR's report. By the way, we'd like to hear your thoughts on how scientists, educators, and supporters of civil liberties can most effectively communicate our message to the public. Leave a comment or drop us a line to let us know what you think.

"A very well-funded, full-time PR machine, the Democratic Party, lost that fight."

Because they were almost as clueless as the rest of the left and, for this topic, scientists. I already have written a short analysis of the "Swift Boat Ad" brouhaha that clearly illustrates, on a level much more fundamental than I've seen discussed anywhere, how inept the Kerry campaign was about psychomarketing. Really inept.

Press reports have the Democratic party still split 50/50 over whether the next election cycle should be about "framing" or "programs and policies". That's a hopelessly moronic and ignorant debate to be having at this late date, which indicates to me this party is at least a decade behind. I'd bet two decades or more.

"And science will lose it too, if we allow them to define the turf and make us play by the rules of Madison Avenue or Hollywood".

You're completely missing the point. Scientists can't allow or disallow them -- they'll just do it TO science. The point is, HOW to stop them doing that. See the Zimmer post on "Madison Avenue or Hollywood". I don't mince words.

"So we need to be very clear that this is not a consumer product battle. It is a choice between truth and fiction. That may be a consumer choice when buying a book to read on the airplane, but it is not a choice in science."

"Clarity" can only be defined in terms of the arena where the battle is being fought. Scientist can be as clear and steadfast as they want, but if no one is listening, it becomes a form of masturbation. The entire issue is absolutely, 100 percent a "consumer product battle" ROYALE. You miss seeing that because you haven't defined your terms correctly.

1. Electoral control of the nation.

2. Funding control of science -- scientific research, science education [at all levels], academic postions, and the career streams feeding into science. In a choice between political control of the country versus long-term health of U.S. science, the people in control will always pick control. Scientists who don't believe that can happen have been spending way too much time at the bench or in the field.

"This also helps explain the perception that scientists, including the ones in the movie as well as this one, seem angry and defensive. ID is anti-intellectualism, it is well funded, and it is fueled by lies."

Of course its fueled by lies. Off course its anti-intellectualism. Now, turn your attention to national politics. All three branches of the federal government all controlled by a political group that, 40 years ago, was a tiny, ineffectual part of the Republican party. These people also now have control of most of the state governments. Their ENTIRE success is FOUNDED on lies and anti-intellectualism and truckloads of money dispensed over those 40 years.

The real world, which in the U.S. has evolved into one gigantic, never-ending "consumer product battle" is intruding, barging, into the world of science. With the power to kick some serious butt. It's imperative that scientists get over their defensiveness and anger so they can START THINKING. Again, see my Zimmer comments.

"Scientists are intellectuals by nature, always scrambling... winnowing... search of factual truth factual truth."

Not in this case. I argue in Zimmer that scientists are actually trying to avoid the truth of their situation. It seems abundantly clear to me.

My educational and much of my professional background is written communication. But I've been an avid lover of science since the 3rd grade. Over the last 6 months, and beginning less intensely almost a year ago, I've watched with increasing dismay scientists join the environmental movement, the Democratic Party, and everybody to the left of the radical right in their WILLFUL REFUSAL to comprehend and then accept the way mass decision making works in the U.S. today. Politics is consumerism.

How's that working for you in Kansas these days?


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