Monday, September 18, 2006

iTunes intelligent design ... it's a great example of intelligent design

I have an RSS alert on the phrase "intelligent design" and it found this example of how the term is entering into mainstream usage (presumably in contrast to unintelligent "evolution"!):

[Graphic: The future of television, as seen by Steve Jobs] iTunes intelligent design Posted by David Derbyshire at 14 Sep 06 ... Enormous and grovelling apologies to the Apple lovers who have written so many informative, detailed and occasionally even polite emails over the last 12 hours. CEO Steve Jobs: Apple's latest gadget is codenamed iTV I now realise that it was extremely childish of me to find entertainment in the codename chosen by Steve Jobs and Apple for their exciting new gadget that will let people watch TV shows and movies on their television. As millions of British viewers have come to realise over the last few years, there is nothing remotely funny about iTV. I'm so very sorry. Anyway, back in the real world, I finally got a chance to try out the updated version of iTunes last night. Being the proud owner of a second generation iPod - nearly four years old but still working - I'd never seen the fascination with downloading album covers on to your computer or iPod before My iPod has a tiny grey screen that shows the name of the song and the album and it does just fine. Life was just too short to faff around with finding artwork for hundreds of albums, cutting and pasting them and then transferring them to iTunes. It was all a bit Microsofty and not what you'd expect from Apple. However, the latest version of iTunes will now automatically seek out album artwork and download it. You do nothing, you get a marginal benefit and it's a great example of intelligent design. ...

I don't think this is an example of "selection effect." I have, as a member of the ID movement been monitoring news media for over a decade and I have increasingly started to see the term "intelligent design" being used in contexts other than the theory of intelligent design. Also, Derbyshire (who is the science corresponent for the Daily Telegraph) could have just used "design."

It is very important that the upcoming generation becomes comfortable with the term "intelligent design." As I posted on 26 October 2005 in connection with British sociology professor Steve Fuller's testimony on behalf of ID as an alternative scientific theory to Darwinism (with minor changes for clarity), "Fuller's thinking on scientific paradigm change" is "that it occurs in `the next generation that is rising" through "a process [of] `imperceptible softening, or quiet erosion, by rhetorical engagement'... A position that one would never have adopted at the start of a dispute may become easier to accept later, in large part because the very practice of arguing will have made one accustomed to the other's position":

UK academic gives evidence in intelligent design case ...

Fuller is mentioned in Tom Woodward's "Doubts about Darwin" (2003). Fuller has written a book on Thomas Kuhn (the author of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions") and so is an expert on paradigm shifts in science. According to Woodward, Fuller regards "today's `big science' as a self-perpetuating, politically insulated monster that has grown arrogant and unaccountable to the public" and needs to be made accountable to the "currently disenfranchised electorate of intelligent, well-informed citizens" and so he "has publicly declared his support for the work of Intelligent Design theorists":

"Fuller's position on Kuhn is complex, with layers of analysis and a dense matrix of historical subtleties that need not be explicated here. Amazingly, Fuller holds that Kuhn presents too comforting and conservative a picture of the history of science, one that implies modern science is inherently self-correcting by means of the periodic cycles of paradigms and revolutions. Dissenting vigorously, Fuller views today's "big science" as a self-perpetuating, politically insulated monster that has grown arrogant and unaccountable to the public. He foresees a new role of scientific rhetoric after a hoped-for revolution that will shatter the power of this monster: Scientists will have to justify their work in the context of a highly democratic assessment by the currently disenfranchised electorate of intelligent, well-informed citizens. The notion of "accountability to the public" is the obvious link here between Fuller's vision and the criticism of Darwinism by the well-informed "citizen-skeptic-in-chief," Phillip Johnson. That shared sensibility is undoubtedly one reason Fuller has publicly declared his support for the work of Intelligent Design theorists." (Woodward T.E., "Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, p.228. Emphasis original).

Fuller's point that "the scientific community was slow to accept minority views" and therefore "the cards are stacked against radical, innovative views getting a fair hearing in science these days" is also very important, in helping to explain the science establishment's resistance to ID.

Expert Testifies on 'Intelligent Design': Sociologist Says Introducing 'Intelligent Design' to Students Could Help Idea Gain Acceptance, ABC News/AP, Martha Raffaele ... HARRISBURG, Pa. Oct 24, 2005 - Introducing "intelligent design" to high school students could help the idea gain wider acceptance among mainstream scientists, a sociology professor testified Monday in a landmark federal trial over whether the concept can be mentioned in public school biology classes. Lawyers for the Dover Area School Board called Steve Fuller, a sociology professor at the University of Warwick, England, as an expert witness Monday morning. He tried to bolster the school board's contention that intelligent design, which holds that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force, is a scientific concept. Fuller said minority views can sometimes have a difficult time getting a toehold in the scientific community, but students might be inspired to develop intelligent design as future scientists if they hear about the concept in school. "You have to provide openings where you have new recruits to the theory," Fuller said. "Unless you put it into the school system, it's not going to happen spontaneously." The school board voted a year ago to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. ... The policy also prohibits students and teachers from discussing intelligent design in class after the statement is read. Witold Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing the parents, asked Fuller whether that defeated the purpose of promoting an open discussion of scientific theories. "It certainly undercuts the impact it can have, but it's better than nothing," Fuller said. Fuller said intelligent design hasn't been extensively promoted in the scientific community because the process by which articles are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals tends to favor established, mainstream approaches. ... Fuller testified earlier that intelligent design is a scientific, not religious, concept because its proponents have used observation to describe biological phenomena. .... "Design isn't just the name of a particular phenomenon that other theories can't explain," he said. ...

This further point by Fuller, that "You have to provide openings where you have new recruits to the theory" which means introducing it "into the school system" is another part of Fuller's thinking on scientific paradigm change, that it occurs in "the next generation that is rising, not the senior scientists who are fighting" by a process "imperceptible softening, or quiet erosion, by rhetorical engagement":

"One of Fuller's most interesting points is made as he summarizes Kuhn's key claim within the Kuhnian "invisibility thesis." This thesis says that "the outcome of a revolution is determined not by clashing parties coming to agreement, but by the research choices subsequently made by their students." In other words, it is the next generation that is rising, not the senior scientists who are fighting, who will quietly choose the new paradigm for practical research purposes, thus rendering the revolution practically invisible. Here Fuller describes-in a novel and transformative way-this critical historical period of a paradigm clash. In my view, his description serves as a brilliant "type," a heuristic generalization that is acutely applicable to Design's rhetoric. .... The process of change Fuller describes is complex and subtle, yet ultimately effectual; it typically precedes, and prepares for, a scientific revolution. To paraphrase it, one might describe it as an imperceptible softening, or quiet erosion, by rhetorical engagement. By prolonged exposure to the challengers and the resultant dialectics, positions begin to shift, and partisans become accustomed to radical criticisms. Eventually, an intolerable point of view looms on the horizon of possible acceptance. One does not have to strain to see that this descriptive frame relates compellingly to Intelligent Design's battles of persuasion, regardless of whether the result is a scientific revolution." (Woodward, 2003, p.237. Emphasis original)

That is, "the very practice of arguing will have made one accustomed to the other's position":

"This process can be described as `imperceptible softening, inevitable tactical repositioning, and quiet erosion by rhetorical engagement.' These phrases spring from the images and ideas emanating from Steve Fuller's own words in Thomas Kuhn. There, Fuller pointed out:
the ways in which partisan positions shift, often unintentionally and imperceptibly, in the course of debate, as the stakes and implications of acceding to one argument over another appear in different contexts. A position that one would never have adopted at the start of a dispute may become easier to accept later, in large part because the very practice of arguing will have made one accustomed to the other's position. Moreover, the person may not believe that she has conceded anything "essential" to her position along the way. Only in retrospect can a historian detect that a subtle shift in the burden of proof took place that enabled the acceptance of a previously intolerable point of view."
(Woodward , 2003, p.149. Emphasis original).

If Fuller is right the Darwinists cannot win. The next generation of scientists is already being exposed to the arguments for and against ID and some of them "will quietly choose the new paradigm."

There is in fact good evidence of Fuller's thesis that this process of some "students" in "the next generation that is rising ... quietly choos[ing] the new paradigm" is happening, as admitted by the Darwinists themselves, in the USA:

"It is a hard fact that the scientific case for the intelligent design hypothesis is getting much stronger. ... How will the idea of intelligent design be regarded by the public and by the scientific community in years to come? ... On the one hand, although newspaper editorialists might disapprove, polls show that the great majority of the public already is convinced of design. On the other hand, because it has been raised on Darwinism, much of the scientific community is used to thinking exclusively in Darwinian terms. Nonetheless, even there it seems, the times they are a-changin'. A recent news article in the journal Nature reported on an invitation-only meeting where up-and-coming students could rub elbows with Nobel prize winning scientists. For this year's meeting the organizing committee `... invited scientific academies and other agencies around the world to open competitions for young scientists to attend, then whittled down a list of nearly 10,000 applicants. The final 2005 list of 720 invitees represented a new profile of participant: academically excellent, familiar with societal impacts of their research and fluent in English. They are generally under thirty, but the majority are now Ph.D. students or postdocs.' But the students asked surprising questions. `it is curious to see the questions that students from different cultures ask,' [Gunter Blobel (medicine, 1999)] remarked after a discussion on evolutionary biology led by Christian de Duve (medicine, 1974). He was taken aback to find some students expressing so much interest in the `creative guiding hand' of intelligent design.[Abbott, A., "Nobel laureates: Close encounters," Nature 436, July 14, 2005, pp.170-171]" (Behe, M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," [1996], Free Press: New York NY, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2006, pp.272-273)

and also in the UK:

Creationism debate moves to Britain, The Independent, Tim Walker, 18 May 2006 ... Creationist ideas are becoming increasingly popular For once, an evolutionary biologist and a creationist agree on something. Professor Steve Jones, the author of an updated version of Darwin's Origin of Species, and John Mackay, an Australian preacher who believes the book of Genesis constitutes literal truth, are both convinced that creationism is making a comeback in British classrooms. "It's a real social change," says Jones, a lecturer at UCL. "For years, I've sympathised with my American colleagues, who have to cleanse creationism from their students' minds in their first few biology lectures. It's not a problem we've faced in Britain until now. I get feedback from Muslim schoolkids who say they are obliged to believe in creationism, because it's part of their Islamic identity, but the people I find more surprising are the other British kids who see creationism as a viable alternative to evolution. That's alarming. It shows how infectious the idea is." Creationism encompasses a spectrum of beliefs, from the Bible's account of creation in six days, a matter of mere thousands of years ago, to the more equivocal "intelligent design" (ID) theory, which seeks some form of accommodation with evolution. ... Jones's concerns are shared by the Royal Society and other scientific organisations; by the British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Secular Society; and by teachers' unions such as the NUT, who at their recent conference called for an end to state funding for faith schools "to prevent the growing influence of religious organisations in education and the teaching of creationism or intelligent design as a valid alternative to evolution." ... a recent Mori poll for the BBC found that only 48 per cent of the British population accept the theory of evolution; 39 per cent of people surveyed preferred to put their faith in creationism or ID. Over 40 per cent believed that the controversial theories should be taught in school science lessons. ... The experience of one science teacher at a large London sixth-form college would appear to confirm Mackay's hopes and Jones's concerns, though it is the students, not the teachers, who question Darwin. "A significant proportion of my students - both Christian and Muslim - believe in creationism," the teacher says. "My colleagues routinely have creationist literature dumped in their pigeon-holes after lessons where they teach evolution. Most of our students can, however, separate what goes on in the classroom from what goes on in a mosque or church. Our biology results are very good. These are bright students who may well go on to do medicine." London medical schools, too, have seen a rise in the rejection of evolution by their large proportion of Islamic students. ... Steve Jones has met teachers keen on creationism during his lectures to schools, which have confrontational titles such as "Why intelligent design is stupid"."

not to mention Australia!

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 2:4b-6. 4When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- 5and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-