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« Reading Comprehension? | Main | Who Is Credible to Me? »

Intelligent Design Part 2

Oh man, oh man. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed stirring up $#!T until I wrote about evolution and Intelligent Design. Many of your comments are fascinating, but the good stuff came in direct e-mails to me. I think my inbox actually burst into flames a few times.

As you might recall, my earlier post on this topic made the following point:

  1. Both sides misrepresent the others’ position (either intentionally or because they don’t know better or because of bias) and then attack the misrepresentation. Therefore, neither side is credible (to me).

I was waiting to see how many people fell into the irony trap and misrepresented my blog entry and then attacked it. The best and funniest case of this can be found on an entire web page dedicated to just that:

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/#comments

This blogger, who calls himself PZ, is evidently a highly educated scientist, extremely informed on the topic of evolution, and quite passionate. But for reasons that fascinate the trained hypnotist in me, that brilliance doesn’t extend to comprehending The Dilbert Blog. (The curious reader might want to Google cognitive dissonance to understand how something like that can happen.) That makes him the poster child for my point that the average person (me) has no credible source of information on the topic of evolution.

Let me say very clearly here that I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence.

The people who purport to have evidence of evolution do a spectacular job of making themselves non-credible. And since I don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types. To me, it’s like hiring a serial cannibal as a babysitter based on the fact that he PROMISES not to eat your kids despite having eaten all the other kids on the block. It might be a fact that he’s telling the truth. The problem is that he’s not credible. (The other problem is that he eats your kids.)

When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me. Both sides in the evolution debate do that with gusto. Why would I believe people who prove to me they are either dishonest or biased or worse?

PZ’s misrepresentations of my views are incredibly clever. (He’s a smart guy.) And he uses quotes from my writing to make it seem impossible that he’s misinterpreting me. Here are just a few examples.

I said it’s POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd mentality. PZ interprets that as if I’m saying scientists DO. Then he attacks the misrepresentation. (How much credibility can you have if you argue it’s not POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd instinct on this issue?)

I said I DON’T believe in Intelligent Design and PZ attacks me because I "blindly accepted the claims of the Designists." Then he attacks Intelligent Design as if it were my view.

PZ declares that no one has EVER argued against the young earth argument to refute ID, except for uninformed people. My very POINT was that that argument comes from uninformed people, by definition. And I’ve heard it three times in the past month. If he’s wrong about this, and completely certain of his rightness, how can I trust his certainty on any other topic even when he IS right?

I said that Intelligent Design proponents allege that experts in various science fields are not convinced that their own field supports Darwin’s version of evolution. PZ turns that into MY opinion (not the Intelligent Design people’s allegation as I clearly state) and then refutes it.

I mention, unwisely and without the benefit of actual knowledge, that all of the human-like fossils ever found can fit into a small box. PZ cleverly misinterprets my point as if I was referring to all of the INDIVIDUAL human-like fossils ever found, which of course would be thousands. Then he attacks that misinterpretation. I didn’t make my point this clearly in the blog, but it should be obvious to anyone that I meant the RELEVANT fossils. If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution. The others are somewhat extra from an argument standpoint. PZ mentions four “bunches” of relevant ones that have been found. Call it an even dozen. Unless they have extra large heads, I could put all 12 of them in a small box. I might have to crush them first, but that could be fun too.

Well, I could go on. But my point is that every argument I have heard in favor of Darwin’s version of evolution or in favor of Intelligent Design all come from people who have the same credibility problem wonderfully demonstrated by PZ.

For the record, if you put a gun to my head and make me choose, I’ll pick Darwin’s version over Intelligent Design, although I am rooting for the alien seedling theory most of all. But I can’t base my opinion on credible evidence or on credible people. I just don’t have access to either. To me, the lack of credible PEOPLE is the most fascinating aspect of this debate.

Now here’s the fun part. When PZ hears of this blog entry, will he accuse me of misrepresenting his views and attacking the misrepresentation? I hope so, because then I can pretty much rest my case.

Comments

check it out. The most heated debates on your blog are about science and religion. Well, the religion with the most scientists would be the mormons. It´s because they logically work out. They also have what would appear to be the most intelligent leadership in the sense of diplomas, expirience in the fields of business, war, and other fields of interest.
Of course if you mention the word mormon on your site the debates will get ugly and the ignorance will blantantly rear its head as the world´s uninformed boldly spout the oft reapeated (oft taught) slander and incorrect foolishness.
How does one little church get so much attention?
an interesting answer might be poligamy accept it is nothing new and it (as well as its multi husband counterpart polyandry) is still practiced in other parts of the world without comment.
But ask a mormon why science and religion have found a happy land to live together. But then be ready for a long chat about things you probably disagree with because you are already biased. I want to see what happens when this bad boy hits the blog.
If it doesn´t come up now just wait till mitt romney runs for president.
scotti

If you doubt intelligent design, then just ask General George Custer.

http://i14.photobucket.com/albums/a322/prufrock451/custer-dino.jpg

Sioux Indians, my foot.

arguing with creationists is a very specialized field. having a general familiarity with science doesn't provide much of a toehold. rudimentary scientific knowledge none at all. unless you want to waste a lot of time on a debate with lots of very pedantic details, the impression that you can judge the quality of the arguments of the most talented proponents is generally an illusion

ROFL...this is good. Almost too good.

I just love seeing people get out of their chairs and who would have thought that something as basic and simple as this can do it ;)

Scott - I think you started this blogfest asking for answers to the question "why is Scott stupid?". There seems to be fewer and fewer attempts to answer the question, so I'll try one myself:

Scott is stupid just like the rest of us silly humans (scientists especially) who have the intellectual tenacity to try to answer the question "why are we here?" but lack the intellectual honesty to see it as a question that cannot be answered by science, whether that science posits a blind, random process or an intelligent designer. Whichever of these mechanisms of creation you choose to believe (along with an infinite variety of other possibilities), ultimately your choice will be a matter of faith, not the results of some experiment, analysis, or calculation.

It seems that based on what you've already said, it is this lack of intellectual honesty that renders all sides of the debate to be not-"credible" sources of information. And a correlary (that I think you implied) is that the more attacking of the other side a person is, the less credible the person is regarding his/her own side. I would agree.

Unfortunately for Scott, he has touched on a subject that goes to the heart of social/political/theological issues of the day. Our nations acceptance of Darwinism as the driving force behind life is much more a theological statement than a scientific one, as there is no logical or scientific method that can prove it to be purely a matter of random chance and not guided by some higher power. Put the scientific arguments asside - you will find yourself surounded by insurmountable mountains of endless, useless debate.

Consider instead that what scientists are saying means there is no ultimate meaning, no creator, no designer, and no truth other than what we make it. What scientists are asking all of us to believe is that there is no God.

There is at least one example of a great nation who decided to make Social Darwinism its oficial National Faith. If you dare, read the book review below. Better yet, read the book. It is filled with facts about the implicaitons of believing Darwinism explains all of life. After you've read it, write your thoughts here.

http://orthodoxytoday.org/articles5/JacobseDarHitlerEssay.php


See how all the ID fanatics are rooting for you now Scott? - crikey Dembski (their Guru number 1) is even quoting you on his blog! You really have found a big new fan club now chum.
You can be damn sure that if you draw them a cartoon you'll get it published as a reliable source in one of their peer reviewed 'science' papers.
You show what little understanding you have by announcing that "50 Homo erectus skeletons all amount to the same thing" - this is a little factoid you've obviously made up yourself. If you can't be bothered to inform yourself then you're a bit of a hopeless case aren't you?
Much as I like Dogbert I think you find that most scientists find Gary Larson to be much funnier.

On whether ID can be proven, an analogy might help.

Say members of one family win the state lottery 10 times in a row. No one can find any way they've cheated.

Will there be any doubt in anyone's mind that the game was somehow rigged even though there's no proof? Sometimes you can know things without proof.

It's the same with ID. There are patterns in the machinery of life that defy any reasonable explanation by chance alone just as the pattern in the lottery example defies any reasonable explanation by chance alone.


I think one problem for the average monotheist (like myself) to believe in evolution is that the people who seem to be the most enthusiastic about promoting it are scientists who are atheists (or deists). In other words they're promoting a scientific theory that backs their religious beliefs. For lack of a better term I'll give them the name of the most prominant backer of evolution in the public sphere in recent times, Carl Sagan, and call them Saganists.

Of course the IDers do the same but the real problem is that they wear their theology openly whereas the Saganists do not. Ask any of the Saganists their theology they'll usually give you a song and dance and then explain that either the're atheist, agnostic or some "presence" which isn't God but something like a life force.

There are many, many scientsts who are monotheists who do believe in the theory of evolution. But they don't go around on a soapbox about it. The reason why is that they are always open that something could come along to disprove it. The Saganists can not do so because if any part of ID was proved (and I really think it will be difficult to prove ID) right they would have to rethink their theology.

Personally I do believe in evolution. Could ID be right? Sure but it really doesn't matter to me. My theology isn't based on biological science.

Personally I have no problems believing that a God who would allow serial killers to exist would also allow much of the universe to come out of randomness. I've heard this described as shotgun theology. If you viewed God as a hunter many Saganists tend to believe God must must have the very good rifle and if you find out the he misfired, you disprove the idea of God. Shotgun theology says that God used a shotgun (evolution) to create life in this world to achieve a specific goal: an intelligent being capable of entering into a intelligent loving relationship with God.

Now how can you reconcile this with Adam and Eve. Let's say God takes a male homo sapien and transforms him into something slightly different by giving him an immortal soul. This is something new and we'll call "first man". Eventually He gave "first man" a mate of another transformed homo sapien, which we'll call "first woman". Now they trully are different than the other animals around them because they have immortal souls combined with mortal bodies. Half-angel, half-animals an interesting hybrid. Of course, "first man" and "first woman" fail to follow simple instructions and God transforms them into something a little different: fallen man.

Now God didn't have to choose the first man to have come from a homo sapien. He could have chose a dolphin or some other creature (we know little about the level of intelligence of other animals). But for some reason He chose us (perhaps we're kind of lovable looking to him).

Also the strongest proponents of evolution tend to be science writers. I once heard of a survey of scientists and their religious beliefs. Physicists had the highest level of belief, I think then followed by biologists. The most irreligious were science reporters.

I also want to echo what realgm said about the Catholic position on evolution. I listened to Science Friday on NPR recently and a caller came on saying that the support for ID by the Bush Administration was an attempt to get the Catholic vote. This caller was dead wrong. Catholics are not pro-ID or pro-evolution. We're pro-life, however science figures out how that came about.

Suggested reading:

For Scott: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

For PZ:
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/39/messages/711.html

I believe when each of you understands the basic points made in these readings, you will kiss and make up.

Wow, reading PZ's blog, it seems some people sure bit hard on the ideas presented in your books. They just couldn't fit satirical thinking into their own evolutionary development, I guess. Anyway, keep it coming Scott, the best part is when the lemmings fall over the edge.

BTW, "PZ" is Paul Z. Myers, Assistant Professor, Division of Science and Math, Department of Biology, University of Minnesota, Morris

See http://www.morris.umn.edu/directories/personnel/Paul_Myers.html (with pic) and http://www.morris.umn.edu/directories/personnel/cv/Myers.html

Has anybody but me noticed that in this barenuckles brawl no one has recited any evidence for inert matter-to-man evolution. Is somebody hiding the good stuff? And why are they hiding it?

Two great posts, Scott -- this one and its predecessor. It highlights well one of two problems in the "Evolution vs. Creation" debate, which is exactly as you state: neither side really understands the other, each side misrepresents the other and attacks that misrepresentation only, and no actual debate happens as much as a prolonged sequence of mudslinging events.

The other of the two problems in the debate is to view it as a debate (a misdeed committed equally by the likes of ID proponents -- such as Behe -- and dysteliological evolutionists -- such as Dawkins). Looking on this debate only, it would seem that there is no room for "middle ground", when in fact there most certainly is.

Buried deep within the Catechism of the Catholic Church are a handful of articles that, summarized, basically state that the theory of evolution is not, at a fundamental level, incompatible with the message of the Bible and the belief that God is Creator. The formal name for this viewpoint is called Evolutionary Creationism, and is espoused by...well, the Catholic Church, for one, and some branches of Protestantism as well. It looks on the first 11 chapters of Genesis as being written "after the manner of a poet" -- that is to say, not so much a literal description of events as a series of Hebrew parables, not so much intended to relate the historical truth of how things came to be as they are intended to reveal the spiritual truth that God created, that creation is "very good", that humanity is made in the image and likeness of God, and that humanity has sinful tendencies.

Basically, it looks on verses in Genesis 1 where it says "God created X", observes that the verse only states THAT God created, and does not state HOW God created. The "how" of it is not discussed, and so is left open to both interpretation and later discovery. Truth cannot contradict truth. Therefore, if Scripture is true, and Evolutionary theory is true, they two cannot contradict, and so must, in fact, be compatible. The position of the Catholic Church is that Scripture is true -- in message, always, though the text may not always refer to historical events -- and that scientific discoveries and theories (quantum physics, particle physics, gravity, evolution, geology, you name it...) are true also, and that the two are not contradictory.

Or, restated: God created. Evolution/Geology/Quantum Physics/Whatever were the "tools" used by God, the processes set in motion to bring about that Creation.

Funny how, officially at least, this is a doctrine of faith for roughly 1 billion people world-wide, and yet never comes up or gets mentioned in ID vs. Evolution debates. I guess conflict is sexier than reconciliation.

Scott I just read both Myers piece and yours.
You've been listening to that dog too much man!

Your rebuttal is a load of nitpicking PHB nonsense. Yea Myers can be hard to take if you are head to head with him, but in his defence he does see himself as a soldier in the frontline of a war on ignorance (I'm all for more war on adjectives). His passion is backed up by a huge amount of knowledge and experience both of his subject and encounters with Creationists.
If you stand back, take a bit of time out and then think about it again you will see what has happened. You as an ordinary Joe have got sucked in by the creationists to thinking that there is a debate to be had here and really there isn't. There is no controversy. They've done exactly what they want to do and I find it very scary that they can get through to someone with a bullshit detector as finely honed as yours.
Do yourself and your readers a favour, take some time, read some Dawkins and some Dennett, then read some creationist material. Come back in a couple of months and tell us what you think then.

Well, if you cannot understand the evidence for evolution, it is too bad. Don't blame others for your 1) lack of effort in reading about it 2) lack of comprehension of convincing arguments. Go to the Darwin exhibit in NYC. Read some SJ Gould. Read some Mayr. Read some Dennett. Read some Dawkins. It is your problem.

Well, if you cannot understand the evidence for evolution, it is too bad. Don't blame others for your 1) lack of effort in reading about it 2) lack of comprehension of convincing arguments. Go to the Darwin exhibit in NYC. Read some SJ Gould. Read some Mayr. Read some Dennett. Read some Dawkins. It is your problem.

Chance or God?

Well if it is God we can do away with quantum mechanics. Which as far as we can tell is not deterministic but probabalistic.

i.e. the results of any individual experiment cannot be determined in advance. However, given enough experiments we can predict the general outcome.

This upset Einstein. Who said in response: God does not play dice with the universe. After over one hundred years of looking with ever better and more acurate and sophisticated instruments the dice player is still winning.

BTW simple test - is it science? Given a theory; is it possible to devise a test that would invalidate that theory? Is it falsifiable? If not, there is no science there.

In a certain sense ID is falsifiable. Unfortunately for the ID folks science is filling in the gaps over time. i.e. complexities previously unexplainable mechanisticly through biology become so as we learn more.

I do not understand the inability of the scientific community to note and admit to the significant flaws in evolutionary theory. while it is clear that evolution is a mechanism for adaptation, there is no observable or repeatable mechanism for a transition between species. science requires observable and repeatable fact. ID is worse -- there is not even a valid mechanism claimed. the bottom line to me is that in either case a miracle must have occurred -- either a super-being creating life, or a super-accident creating life. either way -- not science.

PZ's blog is unbelievable - people who obviously consider themselves to be intelligent and well educated - but who must make themselves feel good in a group session by flame-spraying a cartoonist. they all should go back and read his original post -- seems to me that Scott was questioning the entire basis for the argument, not the rightness or wrongness of either POV. sad.

What the IDiots fail to realize is just how dangerous their efforts at teaching the God-as-Designer concept really are. Some the best examples of Intelligent Design would support the notion that if God exists (which I believe), that He's malicious (which I don't believe).

Case in point, the irukandji. It's a tiny relative of the box jellyfish, less than an inch long, looking like a tiny Chinese lantern, with a dome-shaped head/body that transitions to a square bottom, with four tassels at each corner. Each tassel is comprised of dozens of tendrils, each tendril covered with thousands of stinger-cysts.

The stinger-cysts are spherical, inside is the stinger, coiled and ready to strike in a thousandth of a second. The venom is one of the deadliest known to man, capable of killing. If the venom doesn't kill you outright, it puts you through a hellish agony lasting up to three weeks, similar to heroin withdrawl, only much worse.

The mechanism of the stinger is one of those marvels of nature that no engineer would ever consider, and the complexity of this mechanism actually would actually be difficult to explain as resulting from Darwinian evolution. It's hard to see how anything so extraordinary could evolve.

The energy used to drive the stinger into the flesh is stored in a spring that's wound against its natural curvature, so that when it's released, it uncoils as it inverts, shooting through its center, inverting a condom-like sheath that holds the toxin. (Visualize a hypodermic needle turning itself inside out through its bore as it penetrates the skin.) Recognize here that it grows in the cyst-form with the spring growing against it's natural curvature, already energized in situ (something beyond our current engineering capabilities).

From a purely engineering perspective, it's an amazing mechanism.

The question its existence raises, however, is "Why?" Why would a loving, Christian god intervene in the way IDiots claim to create such a malevolent mechanism to arm a creature so otherwise insignificant as a tiny jellyfish?

If the IDiots succeed in cramming ID down the throats of biology teachers, forcing them to teach ID to their high school students, the takehome message that many studehts will learn is that there is a God, and He is evil.

This may be one battle that the winners come to regret winning.

Holy @#$%, do people have entirely too much free time or what? The amount of squandered leisure time necessary to gin up even a semi-half-hearted arguement on either side boggles my mind. Apparently I'm not the only person who is pretending that that large pile of laundry is going to wash itself.

The good thing about science (as opposed to politics) is that it's not a democracy.
Just because the majority is stupid, it doesn't make their opinion right.
A solid theory that can predict, is self-consistent, and hasn't been refuted is more correct than one that can't give useful predictions, has been refuted and is inconsistent.
Even if the congress votes against it, and 99.9% of the population don't support it, 2+2 is still 4, not 5.

So, overall, be happy - our opinions don't matter at all, either way. The whole nationwide discussion is irrelevant.

Scott,

First... It is so cool to be addressing you as though we were having a conversation together... Forgive me if I'm a little celebrity-struck here, but I do admire your work and I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I'm a huge fan and have great admiration for you.

I'm also a pretty big fan of PZ. I'll grant you that he's pretty ornery, and that when he goes creationist hunting, he loads for bear and shoots on sight. Please don't hold that against him... He's a veteran of many internet flame wars, and he's learned from long experience that sweetly guiding people through their earnest-seeming questions about attitudes toward evolution, step by pain-staking step, with great care and lovingkindess is suicidal on the internet. 99 times out of 100, the true colors on the other end of that discussion come through as the earnest-seeming questions are replaced by hysterical attacks on the Godless evolutionists and their damned materialist biases.

On the rare occasion that the guy throwing out, "but hey what about this thing that the ID'ers say?" is actually seriously interested in knowing the answer, and not just baiting some amateurish trap to bag a scientist... well, those guys are, unfortunately, likely to become collateral damage.

And as much as I would like for you not to hold PZ's chip-on-the-shoulder attitude against him, I would suggest even more strongly that you not judge his CREDIBILITY by his attitude (he is, after all, human), or by his uncharitable characterization of your essays and/or arguments (after all, his expertise is not in the field of psychology). Instead, judge his credibility on the quality of arguments he makes from within his field of expertise: biology. I think you will find that his credibility is actually quite strong.

It can be frustrating for lay people to understand the relative strengths of biology vs. creationism... I know that... And, frankly, it is my opinion that this is a direct result of creationist tactics... A science advocate can explain to wit's end just to dispel one individual's misapprehensions about basic stuff that even creationists have generally already recanted. Then, while the pro-science person is starting to explain how methodological naturalism works, and to get the other party comfortable with the idea that there is no anti-religion bias inherent in scientific theories of natural history the next guy walks up and starts regurgitating more nonsense about moon-dust. The simple fact is that there is so much simple disinformation out there from the creationist camps that it can be nearly impossible to clarify them... And that's not to mention all of the legitimate questions to which scientists only have speculative answers at this time. And the "other side" doesn't help - they make sure that most people are familiar with more of those questions than the ones that have been answered. Knowing the answers to a great deal of the other questions can keep "arguments from ignorance" from taking hold.

I don't think that it's true that scientists are unwilling to frame their discussions with non-techies in a way that can be understood by a determined non-techie... The fact is, the field is enormously complex and difficult, and there's only a certain point to which the science can be responsibly boiled down... But a lot of them do the very best they can to boil it down. Have you, since the 11th grade, read an 11th grade biology book that you just couldn't get? I'm no scientist. I'm not even an academic. But I can, with some effort, understand an 11th grade biology text. I can understand an 11th grade chemistry text, too - but that takes even more effort... Thankfully, there aren't preachers making a career out of muddying the water on oxidizing reactions.

And, biology texts aren't the only source of understandable information on evolution and the religious controvery surrounding it... Talkorigins.org is a great resource for people trying to figure out what science's responses are to creationist claims.

At the end of the day, I think internet discussions can be very informative about the science of evolution... If you remember that the combatants are human and always do your best to check their work against other sources, you can actually hone your ability to objectively consider the evidence by doing it. But, don't expect to become an expert overnight by reading discussions on usenet or the blogs... Don't expect the people debating it to be perfect icons of statesmanship, to give one another too much benefit of the doubt, or to even get 100% of their facts straight... and don't expect to "get it" without considerable effort and independent study on your part.

Ideally, people interested in evolution to the point that they need to understand it well enough to be inoculated against creationist arguments are people that should be training as biologists at the university of their choice. Unfortunately, the anti-evolutionists, whatever moniker they go by, target their arguments to Joe Sixpack... And, unless Joe Sixpack is just dead set against getting flummoxed to the point that they are willing to spend some serious time reviewing and evaluating the evidence presented by both sides... well he's bound to get hoodwinked - or at least very frustrated by the whole debate... And I think maybe you are at that very frustrated stage... Why not take a breather?

Why not, if the subject really does interest you that much, and it's important to you to have a strongly held position on it, go ahead and enroll in some more science courses... It's not like you don't have the money... I know, because I've personally contributed more than I care to admit to your scholarship fund at my friendly neighborhood bookseller.

Thanks for being on the internet and letting us little folks talk to you... And I don't care what PZ says - you're not a Wally. You're more of a Catbert.

Damn, Scott!!

You're like the magician that tells people how he did the trick!

Don't go telling people what you're doing!
People will stop paying attention!

Part of the problem with a debate between advocates of This vs. That (generically) is that it succumbs to the fallacy of the excluded middle. Saying that This must be wrong in order for That to be right, or vice versa, negates the possibility that there may be an element of truth and error in each interpretation.

Well, let's try to be charitable to both perspectives. Say, evolution proceeding through sexual reproduction between mates who choose one another (for the most part). Hey, intelligent evolution! At least it seems like a not unreasonable interpretation.

But this sort of compromise position is shouted down by the advocates of polarized opposition.

I can't believe I read all of this...

I can't believe that I understood half as well as I did and half half as well as I should have (with apologies to Bilbo Baggins).

I can't believe that Dogbert just buzzed my head in a bi-plane designed by that intern guy in the cubicle next to Dilbert.

I believe that I haven't had this much fun reading stuff in a very long time. Thanks all.

Scott,

I'm disappointed. I used to be a huge fan of Dilbert.

Regarding your 1., if we read this as saying that there are some people on either side who aren't credible, this is true, trivial, and hardly worth discussing. I can find some a pair of whinos to debate any topic. If I find such a pair to debate fluoridation, are you going to say that this fact alone means I shouldn't trust any scientist who claims that fluoridation has a beneficial effect? Surely not.

If we read 1. as saying that all parties on both sides lack credibility, I have to ask how you know this. Have you enrolled in the relevant courses? I have. In college, I was only two courses short of a biology degree and after college I received a PhD in philosophy. I spend hours upon hours reading the works of people who claim to have the beginnings of a rational justification for ID, theism, etc... Guess what. As much as I wish they produced such a thing, they haven't. I can tell you the score: Scientists 1 ID'ers 0. If you don't believe me, go see for yourself. Until you go see for yourself, you're just drowning out signal with more noise. Please stop.

[I don't debate misperceptions about my points, but you tempt me. -- Scott]

Scott,

Let's get our terminology correct. The controversy is not ID vs. evolution. The ID theorists I know (though I'm sure you can find exceptions) all accept the fact of evolution: that life has been around for 4 billion years or so and that species have come and gone over that time and there seems to be strong evidence for common descent.

The controversy is over the mechanism of evolution. Is it due to the purely materialistic Darwinian process, or is it due, or partially due, to something else, namely, something that has telic direction, some sort of intelligent design.

Critics of ID routinely miss this (willfully, I believe) and when they learn that an ID theorist might be a Christian, they immediatlely express the "Inherit the Wind Scopes Trial" meme and assume that person somehow believes in a 7 day creation.

Scott is absolutely right in his criticism of PZ and any others that argue their point using the same tactics. Oscar Wilde once said, "nothing worth learning can ever be taught." Your beliefs must be the result of an individual, honest, never ending search for truth.

i'm sorry i am so late with this and i really can't be bothered to read all the above comments, so if it has been said i am sorry for it

what i really want to say is that it deasn't matter what evidence there is to back either of them up, because evidence can always be manipulated, the underlying problem is weather u believe un chance or God. i personally believe in God, and i am grateful that i was given the oppertunity to do so. but really which ever one you believe in you will believe in the corresponding theory because uf you believe in the contradicting theory then it means that your underlying beliefs are wrong, thus a scientest would find it extreemly difficult to accept creationisim if he truly believed there was no God. therefore the debate is ultimately flawed due to the fact that there can be no objective view.

the end of the debate shall be decided at the grave, either through judgement day, or a lack of anything happening. i'm glad i have got both covered

My best guess is that the reason people are so emotionally charged and passionate about this issue is because its not so much competing scientific theories at war, its entire ideologies at war, ideaologies that have far more at stake than a committment to encouraging `real` science.

Think about it - people only ever seem to get this worked up over issues like politics or religion, whose most ardent supporters/practitioners are usually very biased. This debate shares a common thread.

Hi Scott --

Well, given PZ Myers's response to your second post, I think you won the argument.

I have a certain sympathy with your point that people who distort what their critics say are making themselves less credible by doing so. But oddly enough, I may be even more cynical than you on this topic, because I assume this behavior to be normal. Especially on the internet, arguments that deal honestly with the other party's points and don't engage in rhetorical dirty tricks are rarer than hen's teeth.

However, this doesn't mean that you can't come to any conclusions about what they're arguing about. It just means more work for you. If you're not willing to do that work, I think it's more responsible to remain silent on the topic than to imply that both sides are equally unreasonable. But that's just me.

Scott,

I loved the blog. I read both and I really enjoy the creativity you exude.

I grew up in a very "religious" household even to the point of insanity; at least from my perspective. What you say is very true. People, in general, will try their darndest to promote their specific ideology, even to the point of death if necessary. One only need look at history (albeit, history was written by the winners and certainly not the losers) to see that any religious argument, for or against any particular belief, is always met with disdain and hatred by some (or all) simply because it breaks their world view. Most cannot handle, psychologically, the idea that what they believe is not true.

Belief does not need to be backed by facts, observable evidence, or anything for that matter; belief, by definition, is subject, regardless of where it comes from. As an example, who was it that determined that "green" was "green?" I certainly didn't. Yet we believe, with all fervor, that "green" is "green" and not any other color which we might see, say chartreuse for instance. Just like we believe the sun will rise in the east each morning.

Perhaps one morning it won't. Maybe it will nova or perhaps it's "God's" cigar and he's just about ready to put it in the great galactic "ashtray." So, consequently, the sun wouldn't rise. Who knows?

My point? That people believe things only because they believe in them; because their parents said so; because "god" told them; because the "Bible" or "Koran" or [insert holy book here] specifically said "you believe this;" and depending upon your personality, will either die over it, or cave to the "other side" when the opposition grows.

No one can prove empirically that God exists, just as no one can empirically prove that evolution is the root cause of our existence. Each side believes it because they believe it; because their specific set of "observable facts" fits their view of the world. For all we know, aliens seeded this planet with their "dna" and we are their offspring. All the holy books were written down by men. Dictated by God? I wasn't there and neither were you. You only believe that they were dictated by God. God has never talked to me, and if the evolutionists are right then he never will and if the creationists are right then I'm damned to hell for my beliefs and if the aliens seeded us, they're long gone and I can't put my trust in them returning to salvage my wretched soul, and if the reincarnationists are right then, in the famous words of a Terminator, "I'll Be Back."

As for me, I will believe what I want as will all of you, yet some of you are the type that made of the armies of the Crusades (on both side of the ID VS EV argument); murdering those who did not share the same belief. What a shame.

And no, we cannot all just get along. It's an impossibility. Not unless, God, Evolution, the Aliens, do something about it. We, it seems, are incapable of accomplishing that task.

If the world as it exists is the product of intelligent design, someone's intelligence is suspect.

I believe he must not have understood you are a cartoonist.

Look what this guy is saying:

What if someone called a 'scientist' tells you his 'theory' of how cars are made is like this:
A salvage yard on the south side of town blows up and all the metal pieces fly into the air and fall back down in one place forming a brand new Chevrolet Caprice automobile . . with no left over parts . . and the motor is running . .
Or what if his theory for how a chair is made is:
An explosion occurs in a forest and the trees go flying into the air and then suddenly they combine with some flying cloth to make a beautiful chair . . . and then it lands in a furniture showroom complete with matching table and lamp . . .
He further explains that:
An earthquake in California's 'Silicon Valley' causes the computer chips and circuit boards and other various parts to fall out of their boxes and off of their shelves and just come in place together as they are rolling around on the floor and form the most advanced technical computers existing on the earth? . . .
Or what of his 'Medicine Theory'? He now claims that:
A gas leak in a pharmacy warehouse causes a terrific explosion. All the different chemicals and substances just smash into each other in exactly the correct amounts to produce a miracle drug which cures everything form cancer to heart and liver disease, old age and warts? . . .
Wait . . . there's more to this one:
It is all in one formula, packaged in the bottles with labels and ready to sell with no mess left on the floor? . . .
Now after all this exploding and excitement this 'scientist' tells you of a great place to relax and have something to eat. It is his favorite place and he calls it: "Burger Blast"!
He says:
You just go in and sit down and suddenly a 'blast' from the kitchen occurs and immediately a burger lands right in front of you with all the trimmings.. just the way you like it complete with fries, a drink and even your favorite dessert? . . .
AND . . .
No one works at "Burger Blast", it just runs itself, automatically cleaning itself and as you leave it scans your billfold for a valid credit card and charges your bank account for what you have eaten? . . .
Now the question is: "Are you really going to accept any of this as 'fact'?


For more see: http://www.islamtomorrow.com/bigbang/

Dear Dogbert,

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Marty

Dear Barfy,

God loves you. Unfortunately, the alien overlords who put you on this planet are using you to test cosmetics.

Sincerely,

Dogbert

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/dnrc/html/newsletter62.html

I don't know if anyone mentioned this before, but I don't care.
I don't think you believe in ID, I just found this amusing.

Sidebar, sort of. I've called myself a Darwinist most of my life not because of any religious implications, nor because I know a lot about it. It just seems that most human things — behavior, folkways, variations - are explainable by natural selection. And that insights from the natural-selection viewpoint can prevent wrongheaded attempts to solve problems. Wrongheaded meaning solutions based on religious or political ideologies.

Well, Scott, you are right, it is fun to stir things up. But this subject was just too easy. Next time go for a tougher subject like plaid shirts.

This all reminds me of the classic cartoon where an ant is standing next to a complex drawing in the middle of which is a box with the label 'miracle occurs here' and one output.

It's funny....so many people are so worried about where we came from, how we did it, and why...that they seem blind, or ignorant, to where we are going in the future. Does it truely really matter, does it make a bit of difference other than some religious or scientific comforting, as to how we got to the point where we are at now? I'm more worried about the direction we are headed, because everyone seems too fixated on the past to seem to care where we are headed.

As much as I respect the Theory of Evolution and know that intelligent design is just a Conservative Christian subterfuge for undermining good education, I find myself secretly rooting for them. Why? Because Theory of Evolution is just a theory. But its a theory which a bunch of stuffy ideologues promote almost like a religion of its own. Science, real science, is a search for the truth using the available evidence at hand while reaching out for more evidence - without preconceived notions of what that evidence should be. To progress it requires fluid and not rigid thinking. So if the Bible thumpin' whackos want to whack at the pretensions of modern science God Bless them. They are doing science a favor. But my money says that in the end the evidence will not fall in their's.

Peter and Rosemary Grant are quite credible, by your standards, I think. Have you read their work? Try Jonathan Weiner's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Beak of the Finch. Weiner seems quite credible, too.

Have you looked at Carl Zimmer's stuff?

Hey, you wanna hear something funny? I just posted THIS comment on PZ's blog:

Dude, get a grip. He's a cartoonist. His job is to poke fun at nonsensical concepts and silly people. And apparently he's done a pretty good job since he just made you look like a fool. All he did was poke fun at a controversial concept and you act like he was renouncing everything you could ever possibly believe in. Science is nice, but there are other things to life besides science and internet blogs. Take a breath, regain your lost composure, and go fly a kite for pete's sake.

Hopefully he'll be able to understand the big words and the simple concepts that accompany them.

How can we take proponents of Darwinism seriously when what they bring to the table is only condescension and their ideas about a flying bacterial flagellum...er, flying spaghetti monster?

On the other hand, there are scientists who are willing to put BET THEIR ENTIRE CAREERS on this idea of intelligent design.

Hi all, I have been hearing lately that DNA evidence can trace us all back to one tribe of people in Africa. Assuming that this is true, it would seem that this evidence supports both biblical teachings and the obvious existence of evolutionary change. All it takes to see this is to go out in public and look at all the different physical features of peoples from different parts of the world.
If Adam and Eve were really the parents of all, then Cain must have married his sister. That would result in a world full of idiots, wouldn't it? Oops! I just proved the creationist's theory.

Wow...a friend just posted a link to this entry in my own blog, where I made this EXACT same point.

It's very strange how, whenever you question the viewpoint of either side, you're attacked as having the opposing viewpoint. To me, that indicates a dogma that both sides claim NOT to have.

I'm a skeptic of everything. That makes me the favorite of no one.

Welcome to the middle ground. :)

i think i speak for the other educated but couldnt give a flying monkeys people and that is: the "intelligent scientists" have missed the point. who cares where we come from? dirt, according to all (bible bashers and scientists..we are all made of elements you can find all over the place so were walking dirt right? proves my point).

http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/

Here is the only credible discussion on the matter on earth. Apparently. Since you've found zero and I've found one only.

Intelligent Design is science. It is as scientific as forensic science. It does the same thing, essentially. We look at a fountain made of rocks and say it is designed, and we look at a pile of rocks and say it isn't. What is the difference? We have an idea of what design entails.

So we take a look at the natural world and say, does this or that particular thing match the criteria we have to indicate design rather than accident? It's like a forensic scientist being asked to examine a supposed crime scene. Long before any criminal can be sought, the question has to be answered, "Was a crime committed here?" Clues are gathered and analyzed and a decision made. Then, and only then, can the criminal be sought and hopefully, at some point identified.

ID simply looks at something in the natural world and asks "Given this or that set of criteria, does this match the profile of possible intelligent design?"

In other words, it may walk up to the door of religion, but it does not cross the threshhold. This is the reason there are people of a number of different faiths in the ID movement, and some with no faith at all. ID is most certainly NOT the bailiwick of young earth creationists. It should not be confused with creationists, although they are more than willing to use it.

Evolution opposes ID simply because it claims time, chance, mutations, and natural selection are responsible for all life as we know it. ID says that given what we know about all four of those 'legs' evolution stands on, not one will support it, let alone more than one or all four.

In short, it is a controversy where the terms need to be defined and some real discussions started. Instead, we are getting knee jerk reactions and hysteria -- especially from evolutionists. If they are right, what's to be afraid of in examining simply another way of looking at things? ID is not creation. It is not religious. It is using the scientific method to examine the natural world.

Hi Scott,

I loved your blog and the reply to PZ. Not only do I find the induviduals on both sides of the arguement to be not too credible, but both attack each other's positions as undefendible. Those who have faith in an idea call those who use scientific methods as non-proven or misproven, while those who use science say those who believe in an idea are wrong for not having proof. I remember the good ole days when a person could get the death penalty for saying the Sun was the center of the universe or the Earth was round, even when they only believed they were right. It took time to catch up to their ideas, but in the end, they were right. Why not accept others have a different viewpoint and agree to disagree until the aliens show up and demonstrate how they seeded the universe.

A point worth noting, Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series has been re-mastered with new computer graphics and is currently being shown on TV (locally, at least).

Sagan's "Cosmos" is amazing, and even more amazing is that he discussed evolution very eloquently in this series, long before the ID-iots came into being.

He misrepresents nothing, and never "stooped to conquer".

It's well-worth watching. (I'm even considering buying the DVDs.)

Something I'd like to add to the ID/Darwin debate (but for the fact that both sides would misrepresent my position) is that in times when survival isn't as difficult for a species, other mechanisms can drive evolution.

For instance, humans, currently, seem to be able to survive for a very long time without ever coming close to being *fit*, much less *fittest*.

Sex appeal, with all its intrinsic irrationalities, seems to dominate the sexual selection process that Darwin blithely asserted would go to those few who managed to triumph over their respective environments. Anyone who's ever wasted a Friday night at a singles' bar should know better. Whether the hottest babes at the bar are being guided in their selection of mate(s) for the evening by a whimsical Higher Being, or they have a particulary bizarre notion of what passes for superior survival traits in modern society.

On a more serious side, you may find my Theory of Attraction interesting. If not, stop reading now.

The theory goes that everyone has self-image problems, self-perceived failings based on the shortfalls between our expectations of how we want to be versus the tragic reality of how we actually are. When someone sees a strength in someone else of the opposite gender (usually) that they feel is a weakness in themselves, they find that trait, and that person, attractive.

Nevermind that such shortfalls may have no genetic basis, nevermind that the perceived shortfalls may be illusory (I'm sure Kate Moss feels she's too fat), nevermind that the shortfalls may have disastrous associated traits, if it's perceived as a shortfall in yourself, you'll be attracted to someone else who has ample amounts of whatever you feel you lack.

Apparently most hot babes seem to feel lacking in the Brutally-Stupid department.

Just my two scents.

Hey Scott:

Atheist, Deist, Theist, or "big-3" Monotheist?

LOL!!! Thanks, Scott - You RULE!

My favorite is when they complain that you can't really know anything about evolution until you're in biological grad school, as if the RM-NS pablum they insist on drumming into the heads of conscripted teenagers - 99% of whom will never take a college biology course - was never supposed to explain evolution to the public in the first place. Go figure.

With genius like that leading the Scientific way we might just as well go ahead and admit it doesn't matter what people think about evolution and origins. Maybe spend more time teaching teenagers something useful - like dodge-ball. §;o)

I may have a solution for you regarding the unreliability of each side in the creation debate:

“A THEORY ABOUT CREATION THEORIES”

Why It Might Actually Do Some Good To Have So-Called Intelligent Design Theory Taught Alongside Evolution Theory

Fundamentalists have been trying for decades to circumvent the restrictions against state sponsored religion. Their latest ploy seems to be a demand that so called “Intelligent Design” be mentioned in school alongside Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Let them. That actually might be a good thing. Far from fighting the idea, Darwin himself might actually have applauded it. It becomes sort of a "survival of the fittest" opportunity for the concept of science method to tackle a heretofore unassailable belief in God and/or Gods. In fact, let’s go further than the Fundamentalists and insist that not only that particular brand of Protestantism, but all religions, current and past, be taught in school side by side as “Theories.”

After all, in essence, that’s really what religions are - theories. Theories proposed by theologians to explain how we got here, how we should act and where we are going, all based upon what are perceived by the adherents to be the “facts” known at the time organized in whatever way seemed most logical to those observers.

Let the Bible’s Theory that the earth was created in six days be compared to the ancient Greek Theory, for instance, of how the earth was created. To the early Greeks, Eurynome was the goddess of all creation. She supposedly arose from nothing and separated the sea from the sky. (The part about her dancing naked upon the waves to create the wind should go over very well with middle school boys.) She then apparently created a serpent, Ophion, who impregnated her. The egg she ultimately hatched gave forth the cosmos and the first man, Pelasgus, sprang from the earth.

To the Chinese, the first being apparently was Panku. He too grew from an egg according to their particular Theory of Creation. That egg supposedly contained the whole universe undifferentiated. As Panku grew, he created mankind. Apparently, the process took 18,000 years and he died from the effort.

If the educators want to stick to just the theories being proposed by current religions, that’s okay too. The Hindus have an interesting Theory of Creation. If I understand their Theory correctly, it also has an egg at its heart. Brahma is said to have been born from a golden egg and then created the Earth and everything on it. (It's kind of comforting that many religions automatically answer for us the perennial question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.)

In any event, do that for all modern day religions and their contrast the divergent theories of creation and how man came to be. Every religious theory deserves to be looked at and examined for possible validity. Put them next to ID and Evolution. After all, one theory is just as good as another, right up to the point where it is put through the theory TESTING process, otherwise known as science. What facts, if any, tend to support each theory?

Proponents of various religious theories might claim that their own theories cannot be scientifically tested and that they must be accepted on Faith. Not so. Every theory, including even religious ones, certainly can be tested and, without doubt, are tested all the time by literally millions of people. What is a prayer, for the most part, except a test of the religion’s particular theory?

Fundamentalists claim that prayers work, in other words, that there is a positive statistical correlation between cause (i.e. prayer) and effect (whatever was sought). The believers may attempt to disassemble by asserting that not all prayers are answered or that the result may not be clear or that there might not be an immediate response, but the pulpit-delivered message remains consistently clear that prayers have a purpose and if supplicants pray hard enough or is worthy enough, they can be answered at least some of the time.

When an allegation is made that something works (prayers included), workability is testable. Do like science does. Break down the components and devise tests. For example, if the University of Michigan’s football coach has more people praying for a football win than, say, Ohio State, does that result in a greater number of wins for Michigan over time? Maybe praying for a game result does not work. Okay, perhaps it is the type of prayer used. Or, the importance of result. How about the individual need of the person praying? The fact that it is sought for others and not self? The volume of the prayer? The time of the day? Whether it was done kneeling? Or facing toward Mecca? You get the idea. There are a thousand variations and all can be tested over time and by means more reliable than anecdotal evidence.

If nothing else, historical evidence can be reviewed. If the Bible is historical fact, then surely there must be written records, for instance, showing that Herod decreed everyone must return to their birth city for a census or taxes. If every male child of the time, around 1 B.C., was to be killed, it strains credulity to imagine that nobody outside of the New Testament authors would have noticed such a thing and written about it. Granted, it is not perfect, yet such research advances the general knowledge. And, when any fact, provable by rigorous reproducible tests, reveals that any theory or any portion of a theory is wrong, the theory much change.

If Fundamentalists behind the Intelligent Design Theory have the courage of their convictions, they should welcome such testing. Of course, some things are hard to test, but perhaps it's merely that we don’t yet have the instruments. Until the ability to sequence DNA was invented, many pieces of the evolutionary theory remained untested. Ultimately, though we could test for that and new sections of the puzzle became clearer. What we need is a tradition that all theories, including religions as well as evolution, need to be viewed with skepticism and continually tested. Those which survive each test are worthy of being taught.

That’s why I like the idea of Religious Theories being mentioned along side Darwin’s and Einstein’s and Newton's and all other scientific based theories. When comparisons are made and the concept of testing is introduced to the students, I don’t expect the existing Fundamentalists to be converted to the beauty, albeit uncertainty, of scientific based theories, but someday their children might be.

Deep breath people: I am a Christian and I believe that when the Bible says "In the beginning God created...." I don't need to wonder about a) how old the universe is, b) how the universe was formed and c) if I have to insure my home against alien attacks.

That might make me a "crank" to many readers but despite my belief in an actual, ominpotent, and omnipresent God, I still believe in a) gravity, b) space travel, and c) that kids these days can't make Big Macs as good as I did when I worked at McDonald's 20 years ago. In other words, I believe that the universe God created is far beyond my and any other persons limited, human capcity to fully understand.

I read many theories about the "creation" of the universe (most usually begin with a "big bang") but none of the "evolution" of the universe. Moreover I find it extremely funny that even die-hard Evolutionists use the same term as Creationists to describe the establishment of the universe itself.

Why? Clearly if something exists, it had to come into existance from none-existance, in other words, be "created."

But could something "create" itself? If it could create itself, how could it do so unless it pre-existed itself? And if it pre-existed itself, would not not mean that it was already there? And if it was already there, why would it need to be "created?"

I am, therefore, compelled to believe that in order for something to come into existance from non-existance, it had to have been done so by a force or agent acting upon it that pre-existed it. I know this because, according to my alleged mom and dad, I, myself, was not always there with them but that I was born to them from an act of sexual intercourse.

Hence I am confident, as of this writing, that I did not create myself or the body I possess. I am also fairly confident that I did not "evolve" from nothing and arbitrarily became something in my mother's womb, while my father stood by in wonder and surprise.

My existance, therefore, is a scientific fact. I can prove this because the evidence of my existance can be traced back to the physical and biological events that led to my birth; events which are copied and repeated throughout the world each day.

The universe, too, is a scientific fact. It exists. It is observable, and it behaves in ways which lead us to accept the fact of its existance. But since we know of no other universes, nor have observed the "birth" of a new universe, how then can we say we know how it happened?

Since the only observable act of creation is the creation of another human being, the only scientific evidence we have is that of creation itself and not evolution. A child did not evolve into a child from random atoms cascading into a small "big bang," it was born. And while it may grow and morph into an adult, it does not "evolve" into a new species. The traits it possess are inherited from its creator and, with slight modifications, becomes as its creator.

Likewise the universe we live in cannot be created and yet have evolved. It had to be created. And if it was created, then it requires a creator since it could not have "created" itself.

The rediculous and most unscientifically verifiable assumption, therefore, is not that there is a Creator but that there was a "big bang" that spontaneously created itself from nothing, which then led to the "creation" of biological animals from which human beings "evolved."

Belief in evolution, therefore, is scientifically illogical. It is a knee-jerk reaction, in my opinion, by those people who reject the existence of God (the Creator)and the last intellectual shelter of those who are afraid to believe that He is going to hold them to account for the life He bestowed upon them.

If people are an accident, a result of combinations of random-ness that resulted in "nothing" evolving into something, no one is obliged or responsible for their actions or behaviors to anything but temporal and physical authority. If, however, there is a Creator, those responsibilities are tinged with the obligation to that Creator, which people have, by and large, rejected.

Holy Cow, Scott, do you actually read all this stuff before you post it? How do you find time for all your creative work?

I think you're hilarious. I also think a lot of people got the wrong idea and thought this whole ID/Evol. stuff was supposed to be a serious debate. Now we have a whole bunch of irrational scientists and hateful religious people duking it out. Entertaining in a WWE sort of way. But it's a whole lot more fun reading about small furry animals being stuffed up one's nostrils.

The world needs more humour, people. We'd all be better off if we spent more time laughing and less time fighting.

I don't have anything scientific to say. I also don't have anything religious to say. I just wanted to say that. Peace and love to all y'all. :-)

How right you are to ask for facts. Here are some

Evolution is the name we give to the process whereby things improve in response to environmental pressures. Biological evolution is the process whereby genetic material carries traits from parents to offspring. Parents with good traits have a higher probability of breeding before they are killed so offspring have a tendency to improve down the generations. This process is easy to observe in insects.

If we are going to disagree over something, lets decide what it is. If you want to talk about evolution and introduce some element of controversy, then you must address the question of whether or not it was responsible for the life forms that inhabit the world today and, in some cases, humans.

You can't say that evolution doesn't exist - that's like saying gravity doesn't exist. We know they both exist because we can observe them (though I know Scott has talked about an alternative explanation for gravity, he is still happy to observe its effects).

Facts finish and theory starts when we say that evolution is responsible for the current shape of man. This theory has one thing in its favour over any alternative - the mechanism that it postulates as being responsible is observable.

You know, I think this dialogue from Friends says it best...

PHOEBE: Uh-oh. It's Scary Scientist Man.

ROSS: Ok, Phoebe, this is it. In this briefcase I carry actual scientific facts. A briefcase of facts, if you will. Some of these fossils are over 200 million years old.

PHOEBE: Ok, look, before you even start, I'm not denying evolution, ok, I'm just saying that it's one of the possibilities.

ROSS: It's the only possibility, Phoebe.

PHOEBE: Ok, Ross, could you just open your mind like this much, ok? Wasn't there a time when the brightest minds in the world believed that the world was flat? And, up until like what, 50 years ago, you all thought the atom was the smallest thing, until you split it open, and this like, whole mess of crap came out. Now, are you telling me that you are so unbelievably arrogant that you can't admit that there's a teeny tiny possibility that you could be wrong about this?

ROSS: There might be, a teeny, tiny, possibility.

PHOEBE: I can't believe you caved.

ROSS: What?

PHOEBE: You just abandoned your whole belief system. I mean, before, I didn't agree with you, but at least I respected you. How, how, how are you going to go into work tomorrow? How, how are you going to face the other science guys? How, how are you going to face yourself? Oh! That was fun.

Why don't you stop freaking out for wich of the teories are right and start teaching all of them?

Americans....

Classic, brilliant! Sort of like when you get a dead leg and it's annoying but it also makes you laugh. Sort of like that. You're the man Scott - if you get fed up of living in La-la land you'd always be welcome here in the UK.

What fun!

Theory: An unproveable assertion; a DISprovable assertion.

We cannot prove any single theory that we have ever posited as a species. Not one. That's what makes them theories. We can (and frequently do) disprove them. To be a theory rather than a hypothesis requires that there is a test that can be performed to disprove the theory if it's wrong. Obviously if the test supports the theory that is supportive, but not proof of it's correctness. Newtonian gravity is the pre-eminent example - his theory of gravity lasted for centuries, until Einstein came up with a better theory, and as importantly a couple of tests that could be performed to test their respective predictions. That's why we think we live in an Einsteinian universe, rather than a newtonian one, rather than the the two groups polarising into stupid uncredible factions who prefer polemic to evidence.

Creative Design and Evolution are both plausible, provided you ignore some of the evidence. Unfortunately because the evidence is millions of years old, it's all a bit mouldy, and there's a lot of it, and some of it is contradictory. Add to that the fun that some people have at the expense of pompous institutions by merging monkey and sheep skulls, and calling it a meep, or such like, and you are comfortably into dodgy territory by hanging your coat emotionally onto either theory.

Evolution is the better theory, not because the evidence is stronger (it is, by a considerable margin), but because it doesn't have any opinion about God, although of course many of it's proponents have very strong opinions on the subject, and because they are weasels cannot resist mixing the two (that's you Dawkins - you're a clever man, and I happen to agree with a lot of your points of view, but you should learn to unbundle your religous views from your scientific ones in public debate). Evolution has also put itself into the chair in that it can be disproved one day - we only need to find some decent incontrovertable evidence of a 400 million year old Homo Sapiens skeleton, and that's it, game over. That is pretty much all that is required of a good theory, and the longer it survives without the contrary evidence emerging, the better it is.

Creative Design on the other hand requires the presence of God (please accept 'God' as shorthand for 'an intelligent designer'). Which makes Creative Design more of a theory that there is a God, because let's face it if we are here because of God then all the fiddle faddle detail about how exactly we arrived here and now is rather unimportant detail. Creative Design can substitute other very powerful designers for God, but to us, in our position there isn't really any point in separating them. In fact, CD has the benefit (if it chooses) of accepting every single bit of evolutionary theory, and just adding a layer of philosophy on top about guidance. The only real difference is that a 400 million year old homo sapiens skeleton is more easily explained by CD than by evolution, and dead end species are a little more philosophically tricky in CD, whereas they are meat and bread to evolution.

For the record I think Evolution is more credible, because CD adds nothing to it, but a belief in God. Which I consider to be an entirely separate issue. I have no emotional tie to either approach, but then since I don't hold either as my religion (I have no religion AT ALL - unlike most athiests) I wouldn't get upset. Oh, actually I do have a religion, I get really really passionate about other people's stupidity.

QUALIFIER: I've studied evolution, and have taken a laymans interest in CD, but couldn't class myself as a journeyman in either discipline, so if I have misrepresented either theory then please accept my apology.

Scot: Do you think I've written anything good enough to get misrepresented by religious nuts (from either camp)?

Mr. Adams, I think it is possible that you might be slightly misrepresenting PZ in this blog entry :) So who's credible now?
My point is, misunderstandings (your so-called misrepresentations) happen all the time. You can't take a picture from your head and place it in another person's head exactly as it is. Ultimate understanding of another person is not possible. And there are theories that say that you can't be entirely credible even when talking to your own self.
This credibility/misrepresentation issue is far more interesting than the whole Darvin/Creation discussion.

To be honest Scott Adams, you got pawned by PZ. The fact that go to such a lenghty attempt to defend your initial comments just shows that you know you got pawned as well.

And, to paraphrase you, if you put a gun to my head and make me choose, I'll choose the highly educated person that has studied and is actively engaged for the years in the field that he is talking about, over the cartoonist every time

Creationist, Cartoonist, what's in a name?

In this blog Scott says ..."and the other problem is he eats your kids" How is this a problem? I guess it would be a problem if you really needed the tax exemption for the kids, or if you need someone to program your VCR or Cable box, but think of all the free time you will have. Besides, you can always get more kids. And even if you don't, who doesn't like trying?

Well Doug (or is that mr Adams ?)
I deduct from all this that you havent spend much time arguing over the internet. Wether its this or the israeli/palestinian struggle or iraq or pepsi cola vs coca cola or whatever its always the same (and quite as you describe) . People ignore most parts of the other arguments and attack the ones that they can ignoring the rest. This often leads the disussion to pointless arguments simply because neither of them can admit the other might be right or heaven forbid they were wrong.

The only thing you can do is (what you did very well) is show both sides there flaws and conclude they are both wrong and both right. Its been plenty said, the world isnt black and white there arent easy answer to complex question. That goes voor evolution as well as iraq or israel or whatever problem there is.

The funny part is that you actually get blamed by both sides as supporting the other. Ah wel in the end nothing changes everybody still believed what he believed before the disccusion and is only a bit more frustrated that he couldnt convince the other side he alone is right.

K9

This is what I find to be the funniest aspect of the whole ID/Evolution debate. Whenever ID comes up, scientists will scream until they're blue in the face refuting the existence of God, since it cannot be proven. However, here's the part that always gets me when we simply try to remove God from the picture. Where did all the matter from which everything in the universe is formed come form? A super heavy, super hot ball of mass that exploded and just happened to throw everything into a precise arrangement? Ok, fine, I'll suspend my disbelief and mutter some unintelligible phrases about gravity under my breath. Now all I want to know is, where did this super heavy ball of mass come from? The concept is just as scientifically impossible to explain as the existence of a God, so what makes it more acceptable to educated scientists? If one side is never able to accept the feasibility that there is a God, and the other side is unable to accept huge violations of the law of conservation of mass, this argument will never move out of the deadlock it's in.

"So, Scott is right, there is no credible side."

Jesus freakin' Christ, people, wake up!!!!! This is not what he is saying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Read the post(s) before you comment, genius.

Am I missing something? I thought these two posts were about rhetoric, not origins.

I love the brilliance of Scott Adam's writing. He's gotten popular enough to sling his handfuls of humor, wit, and thought into an ever-flowing river of comedy. One small entry in his blog to generate probably thousands of pages of titillating banter. He's become so powerful that he hardly needs to write anymore - he's subtly convinced the masses to write for him. I can't speak for anyone else, but to me that speaks volumes of his adroitness. Here comes a man with (I'm assuming) little scientific background, a passed engineering career, and a stronghold in cartooning, and the world scurries to pick up the scraps of his blog when he's done with them. Brilliant.

Scott: I love the way you write and the way you think. Critical enough to be human, wrong enough to make it perfect, right enough to make sense, funny enough to make it a joy, and creative enough to make it powerful. Thank you for the thousands of laughs and countless inspired thoughts.

> if you have faith in a God, then you can't support Darwinism, and if you are atheistic you cannot support Intelligent Design.

Sorry, but your statement that "if you have faith in a God, then you can't support Darwinism" is just plain false. Darwinism/evolution is a theory that says life was shaped by naturalistic forces. It is not at all contradictory to say that God exists and life was shaped by naturalistic forces. Similarly, gravitational theory says that the planets move in their orbits due to naturalistic forces. Are you going to tell me that "if you have faith in a God, then you can't support the idea that gravity moves the planets in their orbits"? Evolution and Intelligent Design are debating God's role in the creation of life on earth. If evolution is right, God may or may not exist (it doesn't say either way). If Intelligent Design is true, then God MUST exist.

There is a REALLY great book with a few chapters on this subject that puts the arguement in a good scientific light. It also has several chapters on how and why people are stupid. Definitly a great book! It's called "Why People Believe Weird Things" I reccommend it to you all.

That's funny. If someone put a gun to *my* head I'd chose intelligent design, because if I were wrong I'd have nothing to lose. If I chose evolution and was wrong, well...

For the record, I don't see it as either/or. Why couldn't evolution be intelligently directed? I think that God uses physics and natural laws. A couple of years ago I read a scientific explanation for a natural cause of the parting the Red Sea. To me, that just explains how it was done.

Some suggested reading on ID... most of it seems credible to me, but I'm not as cynical as you ;). http://www.caseforacreator.com

Here Here. That’s the whole problem on the debate. I don't know where I can find GOOD info on ID that isn't a bible thumper. Yet, on the same token, I can't find any good information on Darwin theory because the subject is too complicated.

Maybe we are asking or talking about the wrong question? Its like the Abortion debate. Pro life people are taking the mothers right of choice away from her and Pro Choice people are saying that the state should allow murder. One is about the right to choose yet the other is about when does life start. I mean, how did both those get convoluted?

Bleh, going to play some mindless violent games.

PS – To stop random emails, I am Pro Life AND Pro Choice. I believe its up to the mother alone to decide what to do, but I am agents the idea of abortion.

My, but you do like to poke sticks in hornet's nests don't you?

I am constantly bewildered by the people who can't separate science from faith. Both Darwinism (for want of a better title) and Intelligent Design (creationism) are both theories. A theory, scientifically speaking, is an explaination of an observed phenomenon that fits all the observed data. A theory cannot be taken as a scientific fact until an experiment that is controlled, and repeatable by others, can be presented that conclusively supports the theory. Only THEN is it a fact.

Now, there is a lot of evidence that life changes, i.e. evolves, that no-one - aside from rampant fundamentalists - dispute and that arguement here is over HOW it changes. So what we have is one theory stating that the evolution of life to this point is the result of random mutations, some working, some not and the best survived (Darwinism), and another theory that states that the evolution of life to this point is the result of an itelligence (let's call this intelligence God for simplicity) crafting the changes with a definite design in mind (Intelligent Design). Neither the Darwinists nor the Intelligent Designists can prove their theory right, nor can they disprove the others theory, so the both remain just that. THEORIES. Neither having any real, scientific advantage over the other.

Now, this is important. Until someone can prove or disprve God's existence, or prove or disprove that millions of years of evolution was completely random, They will both remain, scientifically speaking, theories.

If you separate faith from science you will see there is no answer. What separates the theories is faith. if you have faith in a God, then you can't support Darwinism, and if you are atheistic you cannot support Intelligent Design. If you are agnostic I guess you'll just be confused. But surely intelligent people, regardless of their belief, can understand the scientific priciple of a theory.

Perhaps that's my problem; I keep thinking people are intelligent.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Darwin was a church goer and did not postulate his theory in order to refute the existance of God. he was, therfore, most likely to be an Intelligent designist. That must be the ultimate irony in this debate.

Re Intelligent Design v Evolution

(a) It always bugged me that these scientists say that "they believe in" evolution. If it's a fact, why do you have to "believe in it". Sound like a religion to me.

(b) Outstanding book on the subject (primarily because he thinks like you and I do and cuts through the crap) is "Darwin's Demise" by Dr. Joe White and another guy. Pretty objective, mostly quotes from the evolutionists saying why their own theory is so full of holes that no rational person could possibly buy it.

Carry On,

Dave

Well, I only managed to read about 1/2 the posts, but there are a number of recurring threads to address. Unfortunately, this ended up as a really, really, long post. If you don't want to read it, that's okay. I think I make some good points and that the writing is generally coherent, but I may be just rambling. You can decide:

The first thing that comes to mind is that it doesn't seem proper to keep calling it Darwinism. Certainly, Darwin was one of the first and the best known to tie it all up in one package and present it coherently, but it really is the overall Theory of Evolution (and not a "belief in Darwin"). It proposes that over time (really long spans of time) genetic adaptations and mutations will occur within species and that natural selection will eventually choose which ones to keep and which ones to discard. For example, the most recently born member of a species might have a mutated (or adapted) limb that is long and slender to allow it to reach its food and eat more easily. However, that limb is mismatched from the others, making it difficult for the creature to run. It gets hunted down and eaten because it can't get away. Potentially good mutation, proven to be bad, and naturally selected out, preventing its passage to future generations. OTOH, a mutation of color sensitive eyes might give a creature more warning when a predator approaches, allowing it to get away and survive. Good adaptation that would then be passed on to future generations. Small mutations over many millennia become so advanced as to classify as new species. (See the lemurs of Madagascar (the island, not the movie) as a good example.) But, given all that, the Theory of Evolution is just that, a theory. Yes, all scientific evidence so far supports the theory, but theories can never be proved right, only adapted when new evidence shows inconsistencies. It also does not make any supposition or prediction about the origin of life itself, only on how life has changed and evolved since the beginning.

Second, the assertion that Evolution defies the Second Law of Thermodynamics seems flawed. Yes, any system left to itself tends to move to the lowest state of energy and the greatest state of disarray (enthalpy and entropy). However, life uses energy to create order from disarray every day. The very act of plants growing, by this assertion, would violate the Second Law, but nobody doubts that plants do indeed grow. Evolution, in the same way, can use energy to create higher levels of order without violating any laws. Earth, by itself, is not a closed system. It continuously receives energy from outside in the form of sunlight.

Third, I don't see the reason that the Theory of Evolution and the Belief in Creation or Intelligent Design cannot coexist. My 7-year old son (who attends a religious school) asked about Adam and Eve the other day. I explained that we believe in God and what the Bible tells us and that it says that God created Adam and Eve. But, scientific evidence shows us that humans are likely evolved from the apes and on and on back to the single celled organisms. He certainly didn't appear bothered by these 2 seemingly contradictory views. I take that as a sign of basic human intelligence, being able to simultaneously consider opposing ideas without your head exploding, and then to pick one, or the other, or stick with both and use them to form ideas of other possibilities. Also, as to the problem of what is taught in schools, I firmly believe in the Constitutional separation of Church and State. Creationism ("belief in Creation"), and its watered down counterpart, Intelligent Design, are beliefs and are inherently religious/spiritual. Therefore, they have no place in the public schools, or in any science class. If you want your child to learn and believe these things, then send them to a religious school, or Sunday School, or teach it to them yourself. I fully expect that in our religious school they will teach the Theory of Evolution in science classes, and the religious beliefs in religion class, and not vice versa, and allow the students to form their own opinions.

Fourth, the whole play of statistics and probability in the discussion. IMHO, it doesn't really apply. If you accept that the universe is essentially infinite, and from quantum theory that all probabilities exist in parallel universes, then odds don't matter. However improbable our particular universe seems to be, it must exist in exactly the form it does. But also, there are an infinite number of parallel universes in which existence is different than ours, although some so similar that the only difference might be that the person in the cubicle next to yours has a different hair color. And in the vast majority of those universes life on Earth never materialized, or evolved in a very different way, because the quantum probabilities dictate that all possible outcomes of any single event must exist.

In that same vein, and a point that does bother me about fundamental and literal interpretations of the Islamic/Christian/Jewish religious texts is the view that "God created Man in his image" and that there can be no other intelligent beings anywhere else. It seems the height of human arrogance/hubris to believe that Allah/God/Yahweh, who by definition is omnipotent/omniscient, created all the many billions of stars, put planets around lots of them, but then decided that this is the only one on which there would be life. All the rest are just window dressing. Personally, I like to think my Deity of choice has more power and/or imagination than that.

Having said all that, and I know it was a lot, I still hold both ideas and will wonder till the end of my life how it really happened. Scientifically, the Theory of Evolution explains how all life got to be where it is now. But then I look at how exquisitely the human hand works, or the so far unexplained existence of consciousness in the human brain, or the grace of a bird in flight or a dolphin swimming and think how really magnificent, almost miraculous nature is in all its diversity, complexity, and interconnectedness and wonder how God couldn't have had a hand/probe/tentacle/noodle in it?

So, in the end, it boils down to this: believe what you believe. Good for you. Don't try to pass off a belief as a scientific theory or fact. Beliefs can't be proved or disproved, which is part of what makes them good. Faith can prompt us to be better people. Teach your beliefs to your children, but don't attempt to force your beliefs on anybody. Proclaim what you believe if you must, but leave it at that. If others are going to believe it, then they have to decide to do that on their own. OTOH, if scientific theory is where you are at, good for you too. Logic and evidence are key to understanding. Don't forget that science doesn't always explain everything, and don't try to quash people's beliefs because they contradict the evidence. Both science and faith are important, but each is important in different ways to different people.

Okay, that's it. I'm done.

Scott,

I do love Dilbert and maybe PZ was a bit over-cranky in his reply, but PZ is essentially correct. You posted something which you obviously no very little about without doing a prior research, and included numerous errors of fact which just so happen to be common quack claims. When someone does that, especially a high profile person, it should be no surprise that those who do know what they are talking about will come down hard. Saying it is "opinion" will not make you except from this, nor should it.

I might point out that the evidence for evolutionary biology is not something that can be simply put in a single short article or post. The same goes for atomic theory, etc. If you want at good START at the evidence for evolution and are willing to put in some work then I strongly recommend "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution":
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

BTW, who is suggesting that the reality that the Earth is old proves evolution or disproves creationism? I can't think of any book or article by any real scientists has said anything even remotely close to that. And yes I am suggesting the radical idea of learning evolution from the writings of actual scientists. I can point to many sources that refute claims that the Earth or the universe is young, but that is (unfortunately) necessary since the young-earth creationists claim to have proof that the earth is young. Those creationists then sometimes claim that the young-earth disproves evolution.

Fun posts, yours and the respondors-- and yes, PZ's. Winson Churchill said, "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Pretty much describes all American politics today... all of life in America, for that matter. The policitians work hard to divide us, then crow about a divided nation.

You reminded me of the episode of West Wing where Josh discovers the Internet group obsessed with him, and just cannot resist the urge to get involved and refute some of their misstatements and misbeliefs. Then he's stunned at the vile and obtuse responses, and mumbles about how one woman on the board was like some kind of queen whom they all followed slavishly.... At least YOU, Scott, knew of this phenomenon going in!

I was also reminded of a political cartoon in the papers a few weeks ago that showed two storefronts side by side, one for evolutionists and one for IDers, and the doors for the evolutionists' storefront were wide open while the IDer's storefront had its doors barred against any opposing ideas. I couldn't help but think the cartoonist had it backwards.

Mark

Hee hee hee.

I was going to put something intelligent here, but I'm going to settle for giggling instead.

This is so precisely my problem with both sides of the argument that it makes me happy. Hooray for knowing bad argumentation when one sees it!

Okay the only things I have to add to this are that ID is not science. It is not science, and it is not science, so please, keep it out of my child's classroom. Okay, so I don't actually have kids yet, but you get the point.

And quit trying to argue that it is. Several hundred years ago, the church killed and excommunicated heretics who had the audacity to say that the earth was not the center of the universe. Well, I don't hear anyone from mother church saying that today, do you? Okay, so I don't actually have kids yet, but you get the point. And by the way ID is not science.

Second, Mr. Adams, you have, probably inadvertently, referenced one of my favorite "The Far Side" panels, in which a couple comes home to find that the witch they hired as a baby sitter has eaten their children. Please don't take that as me saying I love "The Far Side" more than I love "Dilbert." I love you both. Like my children...

I get a kick out of the notion that Darwinism is so firmly established that it is utterly irrefutable and simultaneously so fragile that no criticism of it is permitted.

While I neither endorse Neo-Darwism OR Intelligent Design, as science proper, I recommended Philip Johnson's "Darwinism's Rules of Reasoning" http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/fte/darwinism/chapter1.html
and Stephen Meyer's treatise on the methodological philosophies of both sides here http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2834&program=CSC%20-%20Scientific%20Research%20and%20Scholarship%20-%20History%20and%20Philosophy%20of%20Science

I have to agree with A Fan on this one. The two sides are not mutually exclusive. As one person said it earlier, evolution deals with the "how", and ID gives us the "why". I'm not religious, there is a preponderance of evidence in support of evolution, but an intelligent person has to wonder "Why did this happen like this?" Why didn't we evolve with wings? My answer, 'someone' has guided (or designed, if you will) evolution. Thanks.

/rant off

Everybody has already made basically all the arguments for my side (evolution), so I'll just say this:

Read "Atheist Universe: Why God Didn't Have a Thing To Do With It".

It's one of the best and most intelligent books I've ever read. It brings up every argument and, in detail, debunks the Christian/Creationist side. Anyone who reads this and still doesn't at least accecpt the theory of evolution then they are refusing to accept it, no matter what.

Nothing is more entertaining than people passionatly involved in an argument that is unprovable. Even if a person were able to convince everyone in the world to agree with their viewpoint that doesn't make something true.

Debate - yes! Argue - no.

I really enjoyed your Intelligent Design posts. Seems like both sides are more intent on winning the argument than finding the facts-- which, as you said, are hard to come by. Both sides of the argument seem to start with the theory, then view all evidence through the filter of the theory. They should be viewing the theory through the filter of the evidence.

I pick the Creationist theory, whether there is a gun to my head or not. But when you think about it, evidence doesn't really matter so much in picking that theory, now does it?

Sorry Scott, I don't quite get it. Just who WOULD you find credible? It seems you've ruled out pretty much anybody who might be able to provide exactly the information you say you don't have.

I appreciate that you freely admit that you're ignorant of the evidence; but just whose fault is that? Do you care enough about the issue to wade through the rhetoric and hyperbole and try to inform yourself about both sides of the debate, and about the debate itself, or are you satisfied with just stirring up $#!T? Because if you're going to step in it, don't be surprised when it sticks to your shoes and starts to stink!

As a biologist I'll be the first to admit that we've done a rotten job at getting basic science concepts (like evolution) across to the general public, but most Americans are woefully illiterate on scientific subjects in general, and you can't blame it all on scientists. At least some of the blame rests on our school system, and when we DO push to get more science--including evolution--into the schools, we run into school boards, state boards of education, and sometimes even teachers pushing back either because they themselves are scientifically illiterate, or out of fear of offending parents who don't want their kids to hear about these things.

Now, when are you going to comment on the pro-ID websites and bloggers, who have just as badly misinterpreted your comments as being against evolutionary theory (rather than against the way it is being presented) while conveniently overlooking the fact that you didn't have especially good things to say about their side either?

Mr. Adams, I stumbled across your rather uninformed blog entry about ID/Evolution from iidb.org. I am not a scientist by profession, but I do follow a lot of the latest developments simply because I find the topic (evolution, not the politics of ID) very intersting.

Your opinion seems to be that if a scientist like PZ corercts you, and takes offense at what sems to the rather broad brush you are using to characterize scientists, and demonstrates some of the facts and data to you, that he is not credible?? If the very scientists who are working in the field of evolutionary biology, paleontolgy, micro biology, etc. are not credible, then who is?? Certainly not the religiously motivated folks over at DI and other pro-ID factions who prove time and again they are willing to quote mine, fabricate evidence, and outright lie to push their agenda.

I say it's possible some cartoonists are full of themselves, hypocrites, and generally ill informed. Take that as you will....

Also, just because you aren't familiar with, or don't understand, the (literally) mountains of convergent evidence from various disparate fields of science, that doesn't mean that the scientists are not credible sources of information.

I'm an aerospace engineer by trade. I would have a hard time explaining the intricate calculations involved in computing aerodynamic lift to a layperson without at least a few semesters of calculus, but does that mean I'm not a credible source?? That seems to be the track you are heading down....and it is highly flawed. Don't blame your ignorance, and the ignorance of the general public, on the scientists.

Try picking up a book, getting a subscription or three to some scientific journals, watching the science channel, or something. But take responsibility for your (the universal you) own ignorance and do some learning.

Cheers.

"...that all of the human-like fossils ever found can fit into a small box."


Er...as a scientist myself, I'd like to ask a few questions: how small a box? Can the fossils be reconstituted afterwards. Can I play with them later, and if so how? I've got some friends I'd like to invite over and play "Put the Human Together!"

I don't know a lot about the science of evolution (giving me the authority to comment, from what I've read). However, I understand there are large holes the scientists can't explain.

As to intelligent design, looking around, there are a lot of bugs in the design (literally and figuratively). Maybe this is why the polytheists gave their gods flaws and emotions--it better explains the world.

So maybe we need a third theory. How about, "Moderately bright and competent, but not perfect design"? As evidence, I point to my fellow posters, and include myself, of course.

Just for the record, as a christian, I think that God was ultimately responsible for the development of life. I realise that this probably makes me non-credible to a lot of people. But I don't have much respect for the arguments of creationists, ID proponents or for that matter some proponents of evolution. This whole subject seems to be filled with fragments of good sense mixed with a great deal of nonesense. I think it discredits all of the different viewpoints that are offered with such evangelistic zeal, even by scientists.

On the whole, I have more sympathy with the scientists, who at least make some effort to prove their theories. It seems pretty clear that some aspects of the theory of evolution hold water. Such as natural selection, for instance. You can see that in things like the emergence of 'superbugs' which are resistant to antibiotics. But this doesn't explain how living things came to have this remarkable ability to change and adapt, to develop new and better faculties which didn't exist before.

Life seems very intricately organized to me, and as an engineer I'm not used to complicated things getting more complicated and better all by themselves. In my experience the opposite tends to happen, and complicated things only work when you allow them no alternative. Left to their own devices, complicated things break down. They don't break UP!

I tend to think that evolution is part of the picture, but that it is a process that living things were designed to undergo in order to adapt to a diverse and dynamic environment. How did this design happen? Ultimately I think God probably did it. But I'd very much like to know HOW he did it in more detail, and perhaps science can help us. But please let it be good science, that looks at the evidence, postulates theories and seeks to test them to find out whether, or to what extent they're correct. Let's not have either scientists or religious people proceeding from their conclusions and working backwards to 'prove' their prejudices.

As as christian, I don't think my religion has anything to fear from the honest pursuit of the truth. Rather the reverse in fact. If God did it, the evidence should eventually support that conclusion. But it's a very complicated field of study, and as with archaeology it's tempting to jump to conclusions based on inadequate evidence, until the next big discovery is made. But if we at least try to put our preconceptions to one side, the process of discovery is a truly fascinating one. Let's enjoy it, not quarrel about it!

O.K. I was not going to weigh in but here is THE truth.
Intelligent Design? Not if you consider humans are part of that design.
Evolution? Yes! Look at the past 25 years of Mustangs (the car)
Creation? Yes, but it's subjective, check out any art museum for examples.
Hope that straighten all of you out.

Evolution (darwin) is proof of the bible/God. We were made in God's image, many assume that means that God has 2 arms,...;but that makes God in our current image. An all powerfull being has whatever image is chosen at any moment. The bible has God seen in various forms. Well, I've tried to become Dogbert, and haven't quite gotten the ears right. So a slowly evolving being seems like a basic version of a being with no fixed form. They need to move on to something important, like how long will it be to evolve into Dogbert's? and have we already been Ratbert's or are we just pushing society in that direction?

I think you have an excellent point about people making themselves not credible. I find this a constant irritation with advertising in particular -- pretty much every advertisement makes an intentionally misleading statemtent, i.e. "No other pain reliever is stronger". All the maximum strength pain releivers get to say this, because they're all exactly the same strength. But phrasing it that way isn an attempt to imply that theirs is stronger than the others without saying so.

The proper phrasing of an accepted scientific theory (the "all maxmimum strength pain releivers are the same strength" version, as opposed to the "No other pain releiver is stronger" version) is:

Here is a theory that someone came up with, ostensibly based on the evidence available when they made it, which so far we've been able to twist all the later evidence into fitting; and furthermore this theory is based entirely on things we can observe and measure.

Basically it is that part after the semicolon that causes all of the problems with the ID proposition, and the similar "Intelligent Falling" proposition (the folks at The Onion came up with IF as a parody).

Unfortunately, many folks who discuss science make the mistake of thinking that the accepted scientific theory is really how things actually work, rather than a model that happens (possibly by purest chance) to fit with the data observed so far. The more data you observe fitting the model, the more confident you become in it, but there's the fallacy -- it only takes one situtation that demonstrably, repeatedly, breaks your model to show it's wrong...

The fastest thing in the world is not the speed of light. It is the rate at which individuals jump to the defense of their opinions and beliefs when they feel they are being attacked. They don't take the time to truly read or listen to what is being said. They must defend, justify, rationalize their opinion or worse try to convince you that they are right. The most entertaining thing about Evolution vs. ID is they are both theories. Neither has complete indisputable evidence, whether one is an ID advocate or evolutionists there are, as you stated good arguments and bad arguments for both. No one can say "What you are an evolutionists, I'm an ID advocate. Let’s get dinner and catch a movie." The ID advocate must convince the evolutionist he is wrong and vice versa.

The whole point of this that I find bothering is the fact that the education system can’t teach both with out controversy. If they can both be taught as theories, neither one being more right than the other, then there shouldn't be an issue. But ‘gasp!’ that’s not American; ONE idea must be correct and victories and all others are wrong. I'm tired of people, who think they know what is best for everybody else, controlling what scientific ideas are being taught in schools. I remember a scientist who had this crazy idea that 90+% of other scientists thought was wrong, and utterly ridiculous. “What the Earth revolves around the Sun? That can’t be right, that Galileo is off of his rocker. Some one should stop him from presenting his theories.” Well as history would have it he was right. Why theories can’t be taught with out judgment is beyond me.

I must say that I find this blog to be an interesting discussion about evolution vs. ID. But a greater point is that people have been acting this way for thousands of years when it comes to scientific discovery. Glad to see everyone keeping up on their history so they won’t be doomed to repeat it.

Scott,

The Alien Seeding theory would just be a variant of the Intelligent Design theory. Although, that would just push the question back to "who designed the aliens?".

The ID theory just says "something intelligent designed the life we see all around us" and then gives reasons, some scientific, some metaphysical, some philosophical, why this is true.

I would love to see you extend this argument to the global warming folks. I think the most disturbing trend in global warming is that nearly everyone accepts it's happening and nearly none of those people based that conclusion on credible data from credible people.

I'm not trying to take a stand on the issue of global warming. I've looked at the data and the only fact I've been able to take away is that the data sucks.

Commence Stirring

Okay, I'm intrigued by the way you think there may be credible evidence but no credible people in this whole debate. So in what areas of life do you find credible witnesses? In what controversies, in what areas of knowledge in which we are forced to rely on others, have you found credible authorities? Or have you found nobody (at least in areas involving a leap of faith -- like Darwinism and ID)?

Data. Information is the supposed organized form of data. To me, the point is, that data is interpreted by "someone" and organized into information. Who is credible in interpreting data as to the origin of life? Seems like an awfully big responsibility. The ability to organize data without personal opinion is impossible. When performing a test, don't you already expect an outcome, whatever it may be?

At the end of the day, it is all still guesses. Intelligent and informed, but still guesses. Guesses based on data interpreted by every scientist to view the data in specific fields handed down over the ages.

So, Scott is right, there is no credible side. You are still taking someone else's opinion and forming your own interpretation, who's done the same before him/her.

Unless you have supreme knowledge of every piece of evidence, conducting studies from a chemical, organic chemical, physical, astro-physical, anthropological, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum, then you are still basing your opinion on someone else's work and interpretation.

Good luck with that.

Posting an evolution vs intelligent design flame bait blog. You are a brave man!! Or were you on pain killers that day too?

I'll keep this brief. My human evolution argument goes back to when I was about 6. Here is my "kid" question. Daddy if all humans came from 2 people, Adam and Eve. Why are there white people and black people? As you can imagine my dad gave me a just because answer. Fast forward 30 years and I find out there is a evolution explanation that I can understand. White skin makes vitimin D with less light than dark skin while dark skin protects us from the sun. Presto people who live with lots of sun evolve to have dark skin, people who live in cold dark climates evlove to have light skin (they need more vitimain D than dark skin could provide in a dark climate). Presto a explanation even a 6 year old can understand. I regularly use the if you can't explain it to a 6 year old you don't really understand the answer yourself.

Next time you're in Kanssas be sure to get the remote start option on your rental car.

ID has Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe on their side. I have not seen their curriculum, so I don't know if that is one of the recommnded books.
The problem with evolution is noone can demonstrate the creation of life out of raw materials.
The problem of ID is who created the original creators.
It comes down to a question of faith - faith in evolution or faith in an uncreated original designer.

I suspect you would chose Intellegent design if it was a clergyman with the gun. :)

Hmm, that gives me an idea.

*runs away to build set for the new gameshow, "God vs. Science Gun battle"*

Dunno Scott,
I'm a big fan of the strip and give you big kudos for keeping it funny for so long.
That said, I think you unwittingly channeled the pointy-haired boss on this one.

Fortunately, 'the interwebs' aren't like corporate boardrooms. When you talk out of your...hat...on a subject you haven't studied, someone who HAS studied that subject is usually ready to call you on driveling without a license. That's what happened this week.

While is great having fun reading Dilbert, reading offending comments that don’t contribute anything is not. I’m not a king in this topics, but clearly Darwin/ID are different subject witch are being dangerously mixed. It’s sad when people dedicate themselves in shaming other’s argument just for the sake of their pride.
Best wished for all of you, neither side, but just remember that Dilbert is for fun, Scott just shared his thoughts, he didn’t try to teach anything (alter all, we all should know that his business is comics, don’t we?.. why judging his comments, and comment of other users, like their are complete masters in ID/Darwin?!!!)

How long did it take for reproductive organs to evolve? :)

Hi Scott,

What you are running into in the phenomenon of professional contempt. If you work in the field of evolution (as I do), and have scientific theories that are pretty much agreed upon by the body of science, it's annoying to see them questioned in an amateurish, disingenuous way by laymen.

The problem is that the ID 'debate' is not a typical debate. You don't have both sides on equal footing. One side's goal is simply to create a 'debate' by making an end run around ordinary scientific procedures and methods. When you put ID and evolution on equal footing, you've given the game to the IDers. Their goal is not to win a serious scientific battle, but rather to sow doubt and get people like you to give them equal status (and presumably funding, which is what ID is really about).


It makes you wonder if it's really the actual theories that people get narked by or the fact that someone else would believe something that you don't. How arrogant and self-righteous do you need to be to 'throw the toys out of your pram' just because someone chooses to accept one idea over another, even if it happens to differ from what you believe yourself?

The argument shouldn't be "How did we really come to be here?", but more along the lines of "Who is too self-absorbed to accept anyone else's views?"

I wonder if I have misinterpreted any points of views or arguments here? I haven't seen anyone broach this topic yet, so I don't think so! :P

I have to laugh at the people who flame Scott for having anything near to an opinion on the subject when he was being extremely objective in my view. I'm sure he will lie awake at nights worrying about people who might not read his blog anymore! Scott you have my respect for broaching such a hot topic like this!

I have my own opinion as to what I believe, but I don't think I'll voice it! Ha!

> I read PZ's blog and some of the comments left for it. An interesting trend I noticed: all the comments supported PZ, without a single nay-sayer. Kinda funny since usually the bloggers monitor what comments go on or not

Actually, comments at Pharyngula appear immediately (he isn't deciding "what comments go on or not"). Admittedly, due to the setup of blogging software, it is possible to remove comments after the fact, though it tends to mess-up the conversation thread.
Further, here are a few comments supporting Adams (no, this isn't a comprehensive list):
http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/P50/#c48682
http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/P75/#c48747
http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/P75/#c48748
http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/P75/#c48760

Is it more ironic that people are debating their views with a cartooninst? Or is it that the cartoonist is winning?

It’s truly stunning how far people can get wrapped up in their own argument that they look upon everything that is not overtly in support as an attack that must be countered with any and all resources and arguments. I don’t believe the Evolution vs. ID debate really exists outside the US. I’m sure people will have opinions if you ask them – but camps, movements and debates? I don’t think so. I live in India, a country that has very interesting myths and legends of its own. If you dig far enough I’m sure there will be some interesting theories rivaling both ID and evolution. But I have a feeling we’d have very confused ID and Ev. camps – Ram (a god) recruits an army of highly evolved talking monkeys to go to war on a neighboring state (run by a demon), in the Ramayana (considered an epic and a holy book).

I agree with you picking evolution (only with a gun to your head, no misrepresentation here), but as for us being an alien ant farm, I think Calvin got it right –

http://www.ucomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1994/11/09/

If they started this mess – I’m pretty sure they are busy denying everything. Do you suppose they use Black Holes in place of shredders? Do check with Dogbert – he might have a consulting deal with them.

Thank you for the ID vs. Evolution posts. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the US psyche and how the country is changing. Besides being as funny as hell.

Yeah, this is insane. So many people taking someone seriously when they asked to be taken seriously. I can't imagine how so many people "fell" for that.

I'd love to see the "ID Theorists" try to teach it in a science class room.


Priest/Science-expert: Evolution has lots of flaws and gaps. In the interest preserving intellectual freedom of choice in the classroom, "creation scientists" have come up with an alternative:

"God did it."


ID is boring.

I read PZ's blog and some of the comments left for it. An interesting trend I noticed: all the comments supported PZ, without a single nay-sayer. Kinda funny since usually the bloggers monitor what comments go on or not

Scott, I'm so jealous. Jealous because you can 1) draw better than I can, 2) much, much funnier than I am and 3) much more intelligent than I am. Next thing I'll see is the "Scott Adams Talk Show." That will really chap my ass.

But I do get one of your main points on this issue – science is more than just the evidence, it is the INTERPRETER of the evidence.

Thanks for blogging and thanks again for showing me how truly pitiful my corporate existence is. But at least I have one more RSS buddy to read and entertain me whilst I serve my mandatory 20-30 years in the cubical penitentiary.

Pss.. Don't tell my boss I read you!

Do you have that babysitter's phone number?
Because I really need a sitter this weekend, and if he really PROMISES not to eat the kids, well...

Have you looked at this site:

www.reasons.org

Mr. Darwin built this Tree House,
For the likes of me and you.
It's quite cozy and convenient...
Note the High and Lofty View!

Yes, he made this fancy dwelling,
So we can all be satisfied...
It's a nicely painted hideout,
Though its foundations are implied.

He built with Twigs of Speculation
Hammered home with Missing Links...
Plastered over...neatly whitewashed,
Pretty cool, man, don't you think?

I repeat: 'Foundation Flimsy!'
So be careful...No one sneeze!
Darwin's House of Cards'a Beauty
But its a-quiver in the breeze.

We acknowledge certain problems...
Certain gaps both here and there,
But that's a minor difficulty....
When feet are planted in mid-air!

You can trust us with these 'problems'...
We've got years of expertise!
Building Babel Treetop Towers
Just as easy as you please!

So, put your eggs into our basket,
Keep your fingers crossed...and pray
That the fossils we've been seeking
Will appear to us some day....

poem continued at: http://www.withoutexcusecreations.com/disregard_the_wind_thats_blowing.htm

PS: I mistyped a GK Chesterton quote on the previous thread. Here's the corrected version:

"It is absurd for the evolutionist to complain it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it's more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything."

HA!!

What I find funny is the people taking this so seriously that they can't sit back... remember that you write a comic strip for a living.. and realize that your in fact mocking both sides for thier stupid behavior...

Kudo's Scott.

people take themselves and thier opinions to seriosly.

CPAMan,

If evolution is true (and it's not), why do we not see evidence of it occurring today?

We do. It takes several generations to see it take place though. It's quite easy to see in a laboratory working with bacteria or fruit flies, because their generations last at most a few days.

Also, in order to have evolution, wouldn't the second law of thermodynamics have to be suspended?

No.

You can't have simple systems turning into complex systems. You don't get order from chaos.

Yes you do. The 2nd law of thermodynamics only says the entropy of closed systems must not decrease. Living systems are definitely not closed -- they exchange energy and material with their environment at a regular rate. Think of water freezing -- molecules arranging themselves in a rigid, ordered state definitely decreases entropy. This comes at a cost of increasing entropy elsewhere in the environment. Same thing with living systems. As well as you don't need to go so far as evolution to see a living organism decreasing its entropy -- reproduction is a process where disorder (food, ie. dead organic matter) is turned into order (young, a living organism). This is allowed by the 2nd law of thermo only because organism exchange energy and matter with their environment quite heavily. You get a small amount of order at the cost of a larger amount of disorder elsewhere.

Anyone remember the old saying "we can dissagree without being dissagreeable"? I guess in todays rapidly paced world, busy bloggers like our friendly biologist don't have time to be able to debate a topic without first trying to ruin their opponents credibility credibility. I personally think that anyone who voices their opinion will face 2 possibilites:
1. People who already agree with you on that issue will continue to agree with you, even if what you present is less then impressive. Or
2. People who dissagree will continue to disagree with you, even if you present a solid and logical arguement.
My point can be summed up with a question. Have you ever convinced someone who thought the opposite of you on issues such as abortion, death penelty, gay rights, etc. to change their stance? Better yet, have you ever seen anyone change their minds on these issues based on just compelling arguement.
I'm not trying to impress my point of view on anyone, because, as i just stated, it's an exercise in futility. I just like expressing my opinion on an open forum, and isn't that what Mr. Adams is doing? Isn't that what blogs are for?
I wonder if PZ is genuinely concerned that undecided thinkers are being irreversably brainwashed by a cartoonist, or that people are changing their minds based on a single blog entry. Or maybe he enjoys belittiling others to make himself feel better. I have no problem with that, but be honest about it if that's the case Lets stay friendly while we debate, folks. please

Entertainment value.

Scott Adams is a cartoonist. These are his own views. Cut him some slack. I totally believe his viewpoint because from both sides they have some incentive to promote their viewpoint. Us as lay people are just going to accept their statements because we don't have the time to evaluate all the evidence, nor the know how to do so.

My concern is that the ID people are promoting this as science. Until there's some proof of this as science, it really should be classified as a religious or theological belief. Teaching it to students otherwise crosses some lines (a few that have established in the U.S. Supreme Court).

Are all of you off your nutters? The guy is a cartoonist/comedian? Geez...I knew creationists had no sense of humour, but you evolutionists make them look like Robin Williams.

So...you scientisty types....show me the evolutionary chain/proof in which a caterpillar spontaneously evolved into something that could transmogrify into a freaking butterfly. That's a pretty nifty piece of evolution. I mean, all the other caterpillars must have lounged around watching countless numbers of their species wrap themselves in silk cocoons and, well, die, until one thought, "Hey, what if I wrapped myself in some silk and, instead of dying, turn into something with wings? Yeah, that would be right cool!"

Sorry...the theory of evolution has as many gaping, cavernous holes as ID. Observable my butt. Isn't the "missing link"...well...still missing?

Life was to have begun in some primordial stew...what was the composition of this stew? Dunno. Know one does. Oh, but the scientists exclaim that "...it must have been a primordial stew because, well, it has to..." Oooo some mighty good scientific proof there. Bravo. Nobel prizes all around.

You are all nuts. Both sides of the issue. Maybe people on both sides will either a: evolve or b: be turned into...something with a sense of freaking humour. Chill out, fer crisakes! Or better yet, evolve/be transform magically my an omnipotent being into something without the ability to verbalize or type.

Let the rest of us get back to booze and porn in peace.

So Scott Adams, a cartoonist, would believe in the theory of evolution only if someone "put a gun to [his] head." I find that comforting. We don't need our cartoonists getting too uppity. Better that they remain dutifully at their sketchboards than get too involved with scientists who would be putting guns to their heads.

God is truth. Do you believe it? Not that some god just exists, but that He is truth.
But truth requires no defense. You put truth and lies together into the crucible, and fan the flames. When the ashes are blown away, truth remains.
So if you think evolution is just bunk, place it into the crucible, along with creationism or whatever.
I argue that evolution has some major weaknesses that make it more the outline of a theory than a fully testable theory. But what can be tested holds up very well.
ID is great poetry, but as science it fails to get out the starting gate.
And as theology it belittles God. Requiring him to obey our rules for religion. This is the God who for his own reasons makes quantum entanglement a basic function in physics. Enough to drive a sane man to drink. If you think this God will happily do miracles for you just so you can say Intelligent Design, in a deep sonorous voice, and nod you head as if wisdom was uttered, I suggest you pray and ask God for illumination. But you will not like it. We never like it when we find out we are being Butt heads.

I'm baffled at how many seemingly smart people would miss the point that Mr. Adams's post was not taking a side, but pointing out how disingenuous the debate is.

this country is doomed. i suggest all methodological naturalists get out while there's still time.

the rest of you, please stop using our modern medicine. it's mostly based on that stupid evolution theory anyway.

Scott, I loved your comic strip and I know why it is so successful now. You did a great job of "stirring the pot" so to speak and demonstrating the basic flaw of blogs and internet debate. It is way too easy for discourse to fall to its lowest common denominator. Having said that, I must agree with some of the other posts. It is quite easy to get informed about this topic outside of the internet. You don't even have to pick up a book. Try any scientist that you trust. An excellent choice would be any personal physician. We are all trained in the scientific method and understand what constitutes a testable theory. How about a high school science teacher or anyone with a Bachelors degree in biology or basic science. Please make an effort to become more informed about this issue. Not because of this blog, but because it is the responsible things to do.

And oh yes, PZ Myers is equally as credible as the above authors. But deep down inside, I'm sure even you know that.

i'm just wondering how you've managed to escape the attentions of the new agers who would tell you that it's obvious that you "chose" all this (after you chose your parents, your fate and your shoe size).

tch tch tch - fancy choosing an evolving intelligent fatwa

:-)

"What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence."

The above comment simply shines a light on your complete and utter ignorance. Read a book:
--Why People Believe Weird Things, by Michael Shermer.
--What Evolution Is, by Ernst Mayr
--River out of Eden, by Richard Dawkins
--Voodoo Science, by Robert Park

I could give you more, if you like.

These are all quite accessible to the layman, and the authors are scientifically as credible as they come. You should already know that (though I'm sure you don't).

In any case, enjoy.

I think its funny that this has been taken as far as it has about a subject that doesnt realy matter.

In both instances the theories remain theories, however looking at both I would decide that evoluction (Say a lizard that hopped around had longer flaps of skin, had a better chance of survival since it could go futher, and therefore breed more - repeat - makes far more sense than a divine being who created the whole thing, which is incredibly complex.

The whole argument that has been stirred up here reminds me of that freinds episode were Phoebe tells Ross that she doesnt believe in evolution, he becomes desperate to prove his theory to her even though it doesnt matter, and lets face it, he seems like a jerk.

Ultimately there is no proof for or against god (apart from common sense in my opinion, but that is falible)whereas i see evolution as a theory which makes sense, and would explain the diversity and complexity of the world we live in.

I by no means pretend to have a deep understanding of what I talk about, and I know for a fact I am baised on the subject, maybe a god did create us all, but in the end, who cares, it doesnt matter how we started, how we became, all that matters is progressing towards the future, improving life, and getting bush out of office, before he tries to complete his dads vision of taking over the middle east.

(P.S to one of the earlier writers who listed the authors regarding evolution and called them credible, none are truely credible as everyone is flawed, darwin has had most of his theories disproven (Some changed majorly) and intime I fully expect the same to happen to todays theories of how it all began, people who believe they are right today and accept no other view, are often proved wrong tomorrow.

Okay, Scott, I read the blog post and thought pretty much the same things about it PZ did, and I'm pretty uninformed on the mechanics of evolution. I coulda sworn you too were taking the ID standpoint yourself, and I didn't get the whole "I'm just saying what they're saying" thing at all.

I think the problem was one of clarity. Rants tend to have that problem.

I've read Mr. Myer's blog and...guy seems pretty credible to me. Exasperated and angry, yes, but, man, he just posted a zillion-page paper on the evolution of the jawbones of a certain kind of fish. If subject expertise doesn't make you credible, what does?

National Geographic had a great article all about human-type fossils. The part I remember was how all the fossils found to date could fit in the back of a pickup truck if you weren't too fussy about packing them nicely. Makes a great mental image, no?
I'd look up the article but I'm too tired after reading all the posts.

If you want credibility, read one of the many books written about evolution by entriely credible and readable scientists. The Origin of Species is a great start, but you might also want to check out The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins or What Evolution Is by Ernst Meyer.

If you can't be bothered, I don't see why you feel you need to complain.

If evolution is true (and it's not), why do we not see evidence of it occurring today? Also, in order to have evolution, wouldn't the second law of thermodynamics have to be suspended? You can't have simple systems turning into complex systems. You don't get order from chaos. Since no human being was alive to witness the dawn of the universe, parties on both sides accept their position on faith. I believe that God is and that the Bible is true; therefore, I am unapologetically a creationist.

I second the view here that both sides in the Darwin debate are less than helpful. This is really a kind of propaganda war, not a battle for truth. Both sides repeat the same mantras over and over again, and are really concerned over their cultural market share.
Actually, Darwinists have brought this on themselves by the rigidity of their position: the issue is not evolution but the claims for natural selection. There would be no problem is Darwinists actually did their job and stopped making claims they haven't proven, and then castigating everyone for not doing science.
Actually Darwinism has been falsified, let's move on. A lot of material on this at:
History and Evolution

Hi Scott, hi everyone.

I made a page in tribute to your intelligent design prank. Enjoy!

http://departmentofhate.blogspot.com/2005/11/i-know-you-are-but-what-am-i.html

Snotty

So many comments, and me with no time to read them. So forgive me if this has already been said.

The main point that amuses me is that while complaining about mis-representation, you seem to be mis-representing the main objection to intelligent design. As far as I'm aware, there are very few people who object to Intelligent Design as a belief. A being or beings who guide the universe according to their plans, desires, or whims is pretty close to the religious beliefs of many scientists. Where people have objections is to intelligent design being presented as a scientific theory. It isn't.

To be scientific a theory must be (potentially) falsifiable. i.e. The theory must make predictions about other effects that should be observed if the theory were to be true. So Einstein's relativity predicts that the half-life of particles travelling near the speed of light (relative to our frame) should be longer than those at rest. Experimental observation has agreed with these predictions - strike one for Einstein. Similarly, most of the details of Darwin's theories have been tested, and as I understand it most have been proven inaccurate. The current "Darwinian" model has been modified and improved based on this test-theorise-test feedback.

Intelligent design, on the otherhand, makes no such predictions. An omnipotent being is pretty much by definition beyond human testing - it can, after all, always choose the result a test gives. Since the theory cannot be tested, it cannot be scientific. Which does not (necessarily) make it false, just not science.

The objection to intelligent design is its frequent representation as a "scientific theory", instead of the more accurate "belief".

Interestingly, there are many on the other side who make similar mistakes. For instance, those who represent their religious beliefs (atheism) as more accurate than others' beliefs purely on the basis of agreement with scientific thought. They may be correct, but science cannot prove them so, as it quite correctly does not deal with the theological.

Oh, and you have free reign to claim that I misunderstood your position, rather than misrepresented it. Because I feel I am merely following your positions to their conclusions, not misrepresenting them.

You could clarify, rather than immediately impugning my intentions.

Scott notes that evolutionary biologists have a stake in supporting evolution - if they don't, according to his view, they'll be scorned or fired, or something else bad. Likewise, he mentions, that stock brokers will claim that they are good at choosing stocks, yet the studies show that they aren't.

Of course, he didn't really explain why he thought those studies were credible. After all, he apparently doesn't think any scientific studies about evolution are credible, because all scientists who believe in evolution are not credible since they're making a living by supporting evolution. So why is this study credible?

In fact, why is any study credible?

Doesn't it seem like he's saying that nothing is credible?

He also seems to be rather mean in responding to suggestions that he read Dawkins or Gould, two of the people who are considered the most informed and best able to explain evolution. Because they're not credible, because by the nature of the fact that they wrote a book about evolution, they have a monetary stake in promoting it, therefore they can't be trusted.

Of course, Scott isn't capable of reading the books and evaluating their arguments on their merits. That would require thinking. It is easier to claim that they're not credible because they're scientists who wrote a book (which is what his claim comes down to, anyone who writes a book that promotes any point of view cannot be trusted... and therefore their arguments should be ignored?) than to read them and think about what they say. It's far easier make a commentary based on an ignorance of the issues.

The irony isn't the way that you were responded to, the irony is that both your original and second posts on the subject both committed the sin that you complain about.

I'd say that anyone who needs the credible evidence coveyed to him by a wholly credible person, in a flawlessly credible manner, in order to accept it as credible, needs to develop a new skill: namely the ability to assess the value of a given bit of information.

There's plenty of misinformation and disinformation in the world, be it deliberate or otherwise, and being able to recognise it as such and sift by oneself comes in handy (particularly in research or journalism). Beats waiting around for an unempeachable primary source (God's the only qualified candidate, but I don't want to have to die every time I check my sources) to come along and explain what the real truth is.

Also: "If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution. The others are somewhat extra from an argument standpoint." I don't think you could get away with using a single data point to prove a theory, Mr. Adams. And if that was your meaning in the original post, surely you must agree it was somewhat opaque? I certainly can't haul that meaning out of the original phrase, even with the benefit of hindsight.

Edit- Apologies if this is a double-post, browser trouble.

I'd say that anyone who needs the credible evidence coveyed to him by a wholly credible person, in a flawlessly credible manner, in order to accept it as credible, needs to develop a new skill: namely the ability to assess the value of a given bit of information.

There's plenty of misinformation and disinformation in the world, be it deliberate or otherwise, and being able to recognise it as such and sift by oneself comes in handy (particularly in research or journalism). Beats waiting around for an unempeachable primary source (God's the only qualified candidate, but I don't want to have to die every time I check my sources) to come along and explain what the real truth is.

Also: "If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution. The others are somewhat extra from an argument standpoint." I don't think you could get away with using a single data point to prove a theory, Mr. Adams. And if that was your meaning in the original post, surely you must agree it was somewhat opaque? I certainly can't haul that meaning out of the original phrase, even with the benefit of hindsight.

I've enjoyed reading your blog so far, although it seems to have been infiltrated with one too many induhviduals looking for a fight

Dude, u just lost me!! Y dont you stick to martinis, cyborgs and quitting livers..

wheeeeee, i lost a penny today.

These Romans are crazy...

notes to previous commentors:
Tom Barrett/ Todd: Actually "Big bang theory" doesn't have to do with evolution, or even the origin of life. Big bang theory has to do with the creation of the universe and physics.

And what if I DID show you a library that happened that way? would you believe in it? You are living in it by the way.

remember statistics only has to do with PREDICTION, not things that already have happened.

Steve Gleich, I love you comment.

I believe if people did the reading they would understand that Creationism/ID is a pretty big cop out and it really has no basis.

And I do like Dilbert, and I do get the joke of people getting worked up over a cartoonists opinion. Jokes on me I guess. But remember, the base of every joke is a kernel of truth.

Mr. Adams is still a person, one I actually am inclined to like because his comic makes me laugh. I don't think people trying to explain to him the basis of an important debate (and it is important unless you want the generation taking care of you to be poorly educated and poor thinkers), so that he could have an informed opinion, is a big, funny, joke on them; I would do the same to anyone on the street.

Think of it this way. Someone tells you that their wife could literally be considered their "property". You try to tell them that she isn't, and you get in a big argument. Then he say's "ha ha why do you care what I think, I am just a person on the street! I may not even be married! JOKES ON YOU!"

Thats a pretty half-ass joke.

Well, Iv'e read your blog, and the oppositions. Good job on pouring gasline on teh fire. Ive posted on their blog somewhat in your defense. Not that you need it, or would even want it, but I think its fun to mess with people... maybe im sadistic. Im interested to see if I get any hate mail. Well now that I think about it, the guy will probably delete my reply :p These people take science like religeon which is rather ironic if you know what I mean.

My favourite thing about this is that the first commenter argues with The Big Bang as being evolution-related. Though I also particularly enjoyed the editorial comment-on-a-comment regarding Dawkins. There are some scientists I consider to be credible, but Dawkins certainly isn't amongst them.

Did you know, he's "professor of public understanding of science at Oxford"? He pens *hilarious* articles like this one: http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=7036

I didn't like him or his works even before I saw that article and position. I'm so glad his stupid word 'meme' has been subverted into meaning merely 'mindless internet quiz'.

If you want to look into an interesting site, try http://www.creationsafaris.com/crevnews.htm. It's packed full of quotes and references to articles in high profile scientific journals like Science, Nature, EurekAlert, etc. And each one is directly followed up by the editor's commentary.

Warning: The editor's comments come from a completely Christian viewpoint. But it does present all points fairly, being skeptical of even the truly scientific creationist studies( try http://creationsafaris.com/crev200511.htm#20051105a ; editor's comments are in green). And there's an incredible amount to look at and learn even if you don't believe in God, creation, ID, whatever.

It's really among the best of the web as far as counter-evolution sites go, a lot better than even the ID sites for actual scientific information.

Hmmm,
let me start with a quote that I think gets to the heart of Scott's argument:
"Let me say very clearly here that I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence."

This is indeed deeply philosophical: is TRUTH dependant on the CREDIBILITY of the PEOPLE who tell it? Would the fact that Tiger Woods tell me that Sun is smaller than an orange carry more weight that if it were my 4 year old kid?

The whole point of the scientific method (I advise a close reading of Wikipedia on the matter) is to make the METHOD independent of the credibility of individual people. And the only way (unfortunately) to get to the heart of any scientific matter is to study. Which, of course, is hard. Trying to balance and judge the various viewpoints by measuring the credibility (and niceness) of people representing them is as ridicoulous as, say, electing government officials because of their good looks (well, perhaps this comparison is wrong, after all we see them a lot on TV, so perhaps it IS better to elect nice looking governors, if only for aesthetical reasons...).

Well I guess it is all about winning to some people... When I think about it all I can think of is that both sides think they're right and, well gosh perhaps they won't agree because then they might actually have to admit to being wrong about something. In the bigger picture does it really matter who's right anyway? Does one become right because we believe in it? Heck if that's the case i'm with you on the aliens cause forget which one's right I vote on which one's cooler.

Keep up the comedy, I love the strip and the blog

Well, as a biologist, Mr Adams makes a good office cartoonist...

Credibility? When your car doesn't start and you mechanic says that it's probably your started motor, but the food editor of the local paper says it must be your differential, obviously they are both not credible, even though mechanical engineering is probably the field with the most insight.

Um, yeah, that's a logical argument.

It's so frustrating how humans act when they see someone mentioning a "hot button" issue. It's like the complaints you get whenever you feature references to anything religious in your comic. People become completely blind to what you are actually saying and instead attribute everything they hate about "the other side" on to you. The more controversial the subject, the easier it seems for people to fall into this trap. We can't see words like "evolution" or "gay marriage" without immediately taking up arms against the foe!

Um, this is pretty much what is so stupid about the whole argument FOR evolution in schools:

"I think the reason most scientists are hostile to ID is that its proponents want it taught in science classes when it isn't a scientific theory; it's an untestable hypothesis and is therefore beyond the purview of science."

The same is true for evolution. It is at the very least untestable, and as such is just as scientific as intelligent design. Has there never been any evidence that evolution was bunk? If so, by the scientific method something else must be true.

As an example, if you happened past ten thousand pennies on the ground and they spelled out "God loves you" could you prove that it happened by chance? If someone's explanation was that some church did this, you would likely believe it, but if I told you it dropped from an airplane into this patter, you would say I was stupid. It is possible, right? Each penny could have randomly fallen into position (they have to fall into some position, and for sake of argument, all pennies were in a reasonable distance from one another to have fallen all together.)

Unless you saw it occur, or talked to someone who saw it occur, you couldn't prove either way, right? Well, no one purports to have seen evolution happen, but some of the folks who claimed to be around since the beginning of time wrote it down in a book and passed it down generation to generation. Can't prove the book is right, but no one has proven it wrong.

All intelligent designer proponents want said in publicly funded schools is that the pile of pennies might have been placed there so as not to taint future scientists into believing that a theory is fact when it cannot be proven.

"[Thank you for suggesting I read the work of people who earn a living by supporting a particular viewpoint. You have low standards of credibility. -- Scott]

Wow. That is stunningly...weak. Loud whoosh as respect goes down toilet.
Now lets all believe what preachers tell us about evolution, and let's let the scientists tell us about god.
If you haven't worked out who's side yr on in this debate, you're a fruitcake. If you have, and you're hiding it, you're dishonest. Which seems more likely, 'cos you don't mind parroting the standard, all well refuted ID talking points against evolution, peddled as they are by people who DON'T earn a living disputing evolution? Did you say low standards?

There's an easier path to happiness: http://www.venganza.org/

"The other problem is that he eats your kids." - Obviously you don't have children....

Sorry. If you think credible evidence isn't available, you're just lazy. There are lots of well-researched books and sources of information that can give a thinking person enough evidence to discard the tenets of ID. Just look here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html. It is a point-by-point, referenced refutation of any and all of the major claims made by the various forms of ID/creationism.

"Maybe not. But I think that comprehending biology is a somewhat more worthwhile achievement than comprehending the Dilbert blog, which - at least in this instance - isn't exactly a model of clarity or common sense."

I give you credit- you just used the words blog, comprehendinding, clarity and common sense in the same sentence without sounding like an InDUHvidual.


To add my $00.42, Mr. Adams was merely giving his OPINION. While the facts and information used to support his opinion may be wrong, his opinion cannot be wrong, since it is an opinion. That means the only thing left to argue about is the facts, and he clearly mentions several times that he does not find any of the available facts or the people touting them to be reliable.

So in short, you are all little chickens with paper bags over your heads clucking around in a little pen while Mr. Adams watches and eats popcorn*.

*Or the assorted snack item of choice. A Dilberito perhaps?

Thank you for suggesting I read the work of people who earn a living by supporting a particular viewpoint. You have low standards of credibility. -- Scott

Wow.

And I don't mean that in a good way.

This is most disappointing.

You know, I could have cheerfully ignored Intelligent Design and wouldn't have minded it being taught in high school social studies. However, after 2 fricking years of creationists trying to force-feed ID into SCIENCE classes and having them win some of these battles, i.e., in Texas, Georgia and Kansas, I'm feeling pretty hostile to ID and their proponents.

I'm now counting you, Scott Adams, as one of their proponents. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster destroy you, all your possessions and all your loved ones.

The Theory of Evolution
http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/08/evolution-defined.html

What makes a theory scientific is the ability of the theory to make specific empirical predictions of observable phenomena.
http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/08/scientific-method.html

By far the most powerful evidence, is the nested hierarchy of descent found in morphology, fossils and genomes. Let's start with fossil evidence for Common Descent.
http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/08/principle-of-superposition.html

It not just that there are fossils of small-brained hominids, e.g. Homo habilis. It's that they are found in specific strata indicating an age of a million years. It isn't just that there are fossils of whales with legs, but that Basilosaurus lived thirty-five million years ago, preceding modern whales, but succeeding even more primitive forms. And between any two organisms, extant or extinct, reasonable intermediaries (within a reasonable resolution) can be found in specific strata showing a specific progression. Metazoans to vertebrates to fish to tetrapods to reptiles to mammals.

Then there is the genetic evidence for Common Descent. Endogenous retroviruses infect the genome and then mutate. These retroviruses and other non-coding genes mutate over time and thus form a pattern of descent. You can trace your family tree, and it turns out, your family tree extends to non-human apes.

If you wish to falsify Common Descent, you just have to find evidence of substantial violations of the nested hierarchy of descent. If an animal with mammaries had feathers, or a fern had a woody stem, or a conifer had flowers, or if a cat turned into a dog, or a rabbit was found to precede reptiles in the fossil record, or if humans ever dined on Maisaurs, these would substantially violate the nested hierarchy and would call into question Common Descent.

Intelligent Design enthusiasts are often very slippery in their assertions. So let's assume they accept Common Descent, but believe that it could not happen through natural law. But mutation and natural selection can be directly observed. They are observed as diseases develop resistance to immune systems. Mutations can be shown to be random with respect to adaptation. Novel traits, such as nylonase, have been observed. And natural selection can be directly observed bringing about broad changes in morphological characteristics in everything from birds to fish.

The Theory of Evolution is a very powerful theory and makes valid predictions about a wide variety of empirical phenomena, from geology to biology to genetics.

NATIONAL ACADEMY of SCIENCES: "The theory of evolution has become the central unifying concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested."
http://books.nap.edu/html/creationism/

I'm amazed at how passionate people are on both sides of this issue. I consider myself agnostic to the whole debate. I simply cannot get past the idea that we will never truly know. The basic question is how did it all begin? What went BANG? (the big bang theory....the start of evolution) or how did the "intelligent designer" come into being? Seems like the same start to both theories, and a question that can never be truly answered.

"Both sides misrepresent the others’ position (either intentionally or because they don’t know better or because of bias) and then attack the misrepresentation. Therefore, neither side is credible (to me)."

You've just summed up the flaw in our two party political system. Have you ever found a "credible" candidate to vote for?

:-)

Genius, Mr. Adams. You're my new favorite blogger.

Scott:

What you have offered is a special definition of credibility. To whit, an acceptable source would be one that addresses ID's arguments head on, while presenting the evolutionary perspective. That would suggest someone without any personal investment in either perspective, so although credible, they might not be very knowledgeable.

What I think you may fail to percieve is that ID is the warmed over design argument (if I am walking on a beach and I come upon a watch, does that not allow me to infer a watchmaker....)that was refuted in philosophy over 150 years ago (primarily because it is an improper analogy and tautological). It is good theology as far as showing that a creator is omnipotetent, but it does nothing to allow the methodology of science to progress (the reasoning is circular).

Now when we put the design argument on the ground--the concept of irreducible complexity (you cannot find a function if one of the parts were not operating properly or were missing), it is not a final solution, but a box, similar to the Fungi imperfecti classification (a similar box for taxonomists that could not figure out how a particular species reproduced at the time of their discovery). Its provisional nature reflects a lack of imagination when one considers that the irreducible complexity of the flagellum of bacteria (for movement) cited by the ID proponent Behe, biologists have characterized functions either different than propulsion associated with the feature, or where intermediate simplier forms exist.

The primary issue that evolutionary biologists have with ID proponents, and creationists is that neither addresses the matter head on, and does not appear to modify their arguments in light of specific refutations; but seek to administer their point of view by political fiat.

There is no rational reason to posit that a universe is designed because the creator is omnipotent and omniscient. There is, only if the Bible tells you that God created the world, and created man in his image--this implies that the recorder of these events had infallible knowledge, and purpose of the design is the current edition of Homo (an end of history)--but doesn't the Bible disagree with the Koran, and other creation myths all over the world?

Now if we consider the concept of original sin that is in the Bible, we also have a concept of the imperfectability of man. An interesting contradiction, in God's image, but imperfect. So we now introduce the concept of original sin, that can only be washed in the blood of lamb.... Its a pretty negative way of looking at things, but it just can't be as bad as being descended from a primate ancestor (although the Catholics seem to not have a problem with this) that evolution postulates (and shows to be the case--the problem with your fossil in the box is that it is only one piece of evidence, the comparison of nucleotide sequences and patterns suggest common ancestry, and is probably a more powerful piece of evidence)

Over on the biologist side, strict materialism points to a point of view where no God may exist, but given the short period of human life, man can perfect himself.

In sum, the issue is the common battle since the renaissance between humanism and religion.

It would have really helped if you understood this at the get go, but I think you were more interested in the sophomoric joke and the idea that you may be above this fray. But with that definition of credibility, the only credible authority can be yourself, the books you read, the friends and enemies you engage yourself with, and the choice of how imperfect or perfect you wish to be. To choose not to make that choice is equiavalent to being lukewarm, and I assume you know what that means in the New Testament--in other words neither Christian or Humanist can take comfort from your position since it is nihilistic.

HPZ must be really far behind in the evolutionary process, because his eye sight is not quite up to par. Either that or he's just really stupid.

He did a great job on his attack, but no attack, regardless of how good it looks, is truly that impressive when mounted against a fictional enemy.

And that was just his origonal post. His second rebuttal post, if one could even call that half-effort of a post a "rebuttal", completely missed the point as well.

Maybe if he.... nah forget it, he's just another kniving weasel. I seriously regret following Adams's link to his blog. It's hard enough to find happiness in this world, without being forever depressed as to the number of morons that inhabit it. Weasels are easier to tollerate, becuase they usually have some logical thought process.

By the way, I can only get into this blog on about 1 out of 10 tries. Apparantly his server is not accustomed to handling real traffic.

Scott Adams, you continue to demonstrate your ignorance of evolution, and not only that, you go on to attack PZ Myers. PZ is a genuinely good guy who runs an excellent science blog and has been involved in the fight against creationism for years now. I'm definitely siding with him on this one.

You should really go check out the TalkOrigins Archive at http://www.talkorigins.org/ to learn more about evolution. Your argument of "no credible people" is irrelevant ... nobody is going to meet your high demands of credibility, and besides, science is ruled by the facts, which evolution has in spades.

I suggest he stick to *drawing* cartoons, and step away from *being* one.

Game over.

Hi.
I read Dilbert and love it. I am in 7th grade at a private school for the first time. When I read your blog, however, it all seemed really logical and clear. I was shocked to see that EDUCATED ADULTS argued with this piece when clearly
a.) It's hypocritical to go AGAINST the piece passionately in the name of science because the people themselves are not credible.
b.)it is clearly an opinional piece.
and
C.) It has perfect logic.
Why then, all the distress?
P.S...when will the next Dilbert collection be in stores?

I'm a high school senior, and I am VERY tired of the ID vs Evolution debate. I do not understand why it is so hard for people to grasp that these are NOT mutually exclusive ideas!!! There does not need to be a debate. There is no reason for a debate. You can believe in BOTH evolution and ID.

Evolution is an accepted scientific theory that explains HOW the world around us works. ID involves the question of WHY the world is the way it is. One is science, the other is philosophy. Trying to discuss ID in biology class is like trying to discuss Hamlet in calculus. They are completely different subjects, not related, and belief in one does not rule out belief in the other! And neither side really seems to grasp this.

Thank you, Mr. Adams, for at least trying to point out that both sides have made mistakes. If only both sides would stop proselytizing to each other, they might realize that they have nothing to argue about. (See the last editorial in last week's Times for a much more eloquent version of my argument.)

come on PZ ... give us another volley!

Scott, thanks for replying, but it's one thing to say "Bob thinks there's a monster under your bed", but you gave every indication that you took it seriously. There's a huge difference between noting that there are many reasons to believe that there's no monster under my bed and presenting it as if it were a valid statement.

However, I hope you were able to take a look at the Talk Origins site, which presents answers to pretty much all creationist arguments. And since you want credible sources, it's even better, since it includes references with each rebuttal. (Including why Intelligent Design is Creationism in disguise.)

Still, thanks for the response to my original comment! I was surprised that you were able to read through the incredible numbers of comments to your entries. I hope you'll find what you were looking for on the debate about Intelligent Design, and I also hope to see a strip lampooning Intelligent Design in the future, after doing your research!

Something that always bothers me about this is the idea that evolution is a theory. It's not, evolution is a fact. The controversy arises from the debate of whether monkeys and humans have common ancestors.

And teaching ID in science class is ridiculous! If they want to teach alternate ideas - teach the FSM! www.venganza.org

After assessing the ways in which combatants on both sides of this issue go about their arguments and responses I must say that the ID types are by far superior when it comes to rhetorical strategy. Their position is interesting and a very worthwhile intellectual pursuit but they have a long way to go. The evolutionists (which in this case the anti-Intelligent Design people, ie Naturalists) are superior mudslingers and writers of vitriole. Anti-ID types have done nothing to convince me that ID is not worth consideration. Theie tactics may work on some less critical or already compliant members of the media, academy, and more secular minded clergy, but they do little to convince those of us watching this debate with an open mind.

I need an anti-ID person to tell me how reems of biological information coding into intricate irreducibly complex protein machines and enzymes have come about by non-intelligent, that is unguided, causation. I don't need an anti-ID person to tell me that IDists are doodie heads.

After assessing the ways in which combatants on both sides of this issue carry out their arguments and responses I must say that the ID types are by far superior when it comes to rhetorical strategy and presentation. Their position is interesting and a very worthwhile intellectual pursuit but they have a long way to go. However, they seem to admit this modestly at times.

The evolutionists (which in this case I mean the anti-Intelligent Design people, the Naturalists non intelligent cause people) are superior mudslingers and writers of vitriole. Anti-ID types have done nothing to convince me that ID is not worth consideration. Their tactics may work on the less critically minded and already compliant, but they do little to convince those of us watching this debate with an open mind.

I need an anti-ID person to tell me how reems of biological information coding into intricate irreducibly complex protein machines and enzymes have come about by non-intelligent, that is unguided, causation. I don't need an anti-ID person to tell me that IDists are doodie heads.

MS

MR ADAMS: Stand your ground buddy. Empirical evidence shows that the reason prominent people become anti-ID is due to sociological pressures and a desire not to be made fun of. A Darwininsts main line of reasoning does not ever begin with scientific evidence but begins instead with statements about how every body who has a brain and isn't a religious fundie believes that ID isnt Science.

Okay, I have to agree with the posters who imply (or state) that you are being a lame weasel here. To summarize:

1. Unlike proponents of evolution, ID proponents have no generally recognized authoritative publications or sources, so the argument shifts every time it is raised. Some IDers concede some points while hotly disputing points that other IDers will concede or at least be non-committal about.

2. ID is a propaganda machine, determined to sidestep the rigors of academic analysis and go straight for public opinion.

3. Letting ID stand unchallenged results in silliness like the Kansas school board authorizing the teaching of ID as a legitimate alternative.

4. So of course PZ and others like him jump hard on random posts like yours which even imply there is a legitimate debate between evolution and ID. And regardless of your lame weasel-wording, that is exactly what you implied.

ID provides no hard target, and ignoring the implications in posts like yours is proving socially disastrous. We need educated adults who understand the difference between critical, rational thought on one hand, and faith on the other. Both can co-exist in the same person, but they both lose their effectiveness when they are commingled.

There is no legitimate debate, because ID and evolution are not even on the same playing field. ID is a matter of faith, while evolution is a matter of science. If ID would just stay where it belongs, in churches and philosophical discussions (that's where I'm a proponent of it), there wouldn't be an issue.

The problem arises when proponents of ID try to dress it up like science so they can sneak it into the public schools in order to further their political agendas. Whether you are pretending that there is any legitimacy to this approach (like, for example, arguing that both sides are equally lacking in credibility, and thus implying that ID might be just as scientific as evolution), or you are repeating ID propaganda as though it shares credibility with conclusions drawn by scientists from hard data in peer-reviewed journals, you are advancing the political agendas of the IDers.

It is then incredibly naive, lame and weaselly for you to claim, "I was misunderstood. That's not what I meant at all." The fact that you disclaim any belief in ID is irrelevant and intellectually dishonest. When you help the ID camp by spreading their propaganda ("Oh, yes, an objective person would have a hard time deciding whether ID is science"), then you put yourself into the ID camp.

Of course, that's not exactly what you said. You never actually said the debate was about whether ID is a science. You're too smart (or lame and weaselly) to say something that could actually be pinned down and dissected.

Nevertheless, that is the only important ID vs. evolution debate going on. If not for that, there would be no issue. You misrepresent your own position when you talk about the debate ("both sides lack credibility, so I don't know who to believe"), and then try to dance around the actual question at issue by pretending, "Oh, I didn't mean THAT debate. I meant the other debate, that I also didn't specify, and that no one is actually having."

Your central point is legitimate -- people often distort what the other person said in making their own arguments. This can damage their credibility. This can also get a favorable verdict from a jury. However, you picked a really bad example for making that point.

A better example might have been the abortion debate. "Should abortion be legal, and on what conditions?" In that one, both sides are arguing from faith, i.e., from their personal belief about the point at which the rights of a zygote/embryo/fetus/unborn child should trump the rights of a living, breathing woman/irresponsible wife/harlot. Both sides cite scientific evidence, but the real issue always comes down to the personal convictions of the people in the opposite camps. Both sides indulge in the same kinds of deceitful tactics you complain about here ("all pro-lifers are misogynists" v. "pro-choice encourages women to use abortion as just another contraceptive"), but at least with abortion, both sides are on the same playing field. There is no scientific way to say "right" or "wrong."

Regardless, I shall continue to read and enjoy Dilbert and this Blog. You are one smart, funny, and entertaining guy. It is reassuring to know that even you can ocassionally fall into the lame weasel category. :-)

Scott,
You know, I just can't tell if Dilbert is credible. I read Bloom County, and I know that Berkly has a different way of thinking than you, and I can't tell if HE is credible. What am I to do?
I've got it. You have been fighting the Man so long you don't know who to trust.
The preeminent author on evolution for the general public in the last thirty years is Stephen Jay Gould! Read everything he wrote and get back to me. If you don't see the beauty of natural selection after this program of self improvement, well I guess that you are destined to be a member of a permanent underclass of deniers who are not intelligent enough to find their way home at night.

Hasn't anybody noticed the fact that this issue of ID vs. Evolution and the absurdly preposterous idea of "teaching the controversy" is a debate that is entirely American? I mean, if you were to suggest something similar in Europe you'd be laughed off and rightfully considered a moron.

The whole concept of ID could only have originated in a society where the political establishment is heavily influenced by religious fundies.

Scott complained he couldn't find "credible" people who wrote about evolution. I suggested 5 authors on evolution and one book on the history of the "intelligent design" creationism movement.

I would like to second the recommendation above for Scott to read "The Beak of the Finch" which is a beautifully written book and gives the reader a good sense of what field work in evolutionary theory is like.

I am struck by the fact I have seen not a single discussion of any of the books I referred to, or of "Beak of the Finch." I suspect that people have far more fun airing their opinions than doing the research to back them up.

But the thing is that when it comes to science, your opinion means nothing unless you have carefully studied the subject. Scott hasn't even begun to understand the issues at play in this debate. And until he has, he has absolutely no right to pose as someone who has deeply pondered the topic and found "both sides" equally lacking in "credibility." That simply isn't so.

When it comes to the science, there aren't "two sides." Because, when it comes to science, those promoting "intelligent design" creationism have no credibility because they have done no science whatsoever that has withstood even cursory peer review. None.

It is a sign of exactly how much Scott needs to learn about evolution that he considers Gould and Dawkins not credible because they "earn a living supporting a particular viewpoint." Leaving aside the fact that Scott apparently doesn't know that Gould no longer earns a living from his work - because Gould is quite dead - Scott is unaware that both of them are/were highly trained scientists and that Gould for one (Dawkins I know less about) made his reputation not as a professional proselytizer but for his well regarded if very controversial scientific work within evolution.

Both Gould and Dawkins can both be obnoxious when they write but that is a different issue than whether they are experts on evolution. They are indeed experts but my list deliberately excluded them because I feared Scott would find them too obnoxious; it never occurred to me he would think that was cause to doubt their qualifications!

Now, if Scott REALLY wants to understand the science - and that is a basic requirement to understanding this subject and not making a fool of yourself - he will need to read Darwin and he will need to read at least one modern textbook on evolutionary theory, which has advanced a long way from Darwin's time.

He also needs to understand the history of creationism and "intelligent design" from Paley through Scopes to the present. As mentioned, "Creationism's Trojan Horse" is a fine place to start. But don't take that book's word for it. Scott should read Paley and the Scopes trial and the original documents from whence "intelligent design" creationism was hatched. And he really should read the Dover, PA trial transcripts which are truly exciting.

Bottom line: You really have to do your homework on this one, Scott; otherwise, you risk becoming the unwitting patsy of a very, very weird and dangerous political/religious movement. As you learn more about exactly what "intelligent design" creationism is really about, you will come to understand that I am not in any way, shape or form exaggerating.

I wonder if you are going to put yourself up for next years weasel poll?

As far as I can see from this entry you are commiting the same type of error's as those whom you yourself picked out.
It would do dogbert proud to see that you are able to wriggle out of this situation whilst appearing to be smarter than everyone else.

One more question before I go, was the "Intelligent design part 1" blog an "Irony trap" before you posted it or just after you read the comments section?

The most amazing thing about this kind of debate is that all the passionate holders of opinions seem to think everyone else deeply desires to be put right in their way of thinking. Oh perleeese. If Luke's dad couldn't make him come over to the Dark Side, why should any entrenched position be changed just by shouting louder, quoting more and dilbertly misunderstanding.

Dear Passionate Arguer

If your existence depends on you being correct in whatever side of the argument you hold dear, then out of compassion for you I will not argue. Just don't expect me to agree. Maybe, just maybe there are more important things to put your energies into. Try for instance to put as much effort into living in a way that earns respect as you do into browbeating those who don't agree with you.

Just a thought.

Pointy-haired boss blogger said today:
"PZ declares that no one has EVER argued against the young earth argument to refute ID, except for uninformed people. My very POINT was that that argument comes from uninformed people, by definition."

Pointy-haired boss blogger said earlier:
"For example, Darwinists often argue that Intelligent Design can’t be true because we know the earth is over 10,000 years old."

Dilbert thinks:
Since biologists (aka 'Darwinists' in creationist parlance) are wellinformed they can not be the ones doing young earth arguments. This argues against the 'often' claim.

Pointy-haired boss blogger said today:
"I mention, unwisely and without the benefit of actual knowledge, that all of the human-like fossils ever found can fit into a small box. ... I didn’t make my point this clearly in the blog, but it should be obvious to anyone that I meant the RELEVANT fossils. If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution."

Dilbert thinks (as an engineer and not expert):
Since species evolves the definition of species (no crossbreeding) is timedependent. It should be obvious to anyone that _all_ human-like fossils are RELEVANT.

Pointy-haired boss blogger said today:
"When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me."

Dilbert thinks:
"That guy is so stupid he can't recognise himself in a mirror held up in front of him. Next pay revision I will show him a face he must like."

Hi,
just so you know, I am a die hard neo darwinist, and thats why: no matter whether its true or not (we don't know, and maybe it doesn't even matter) its just a far more fruitful concept to start from, if you try to understand what's going on on earth. Intelligent Design just states (and i am exegeratingly misrepresentingly abridging here) 'stop thinking, you won't understand anyway', that's not an entertaining affair, so I say 'ID people you are boring'

est
g svinson

This is one of the lamest, Wallyist things you've ever done, Adams.

No, on second thought, not even Wally would be so weasly.

Are you doing a comb-over, too? Show us a photo so we can be sure . . .

So what Scott is trying to say is "Never take anything at face value". That sounds like the basis of all good Science.

To get a greater understanding of evolution in a fun manner try
http://www.invisiblespiders.com/genesis2/

does anyone else think it's incredibly pathetic that someone has a blog and then someone else has a blog which they use to blog about someone else's blog? Could someone let me know if they know anyone who actually has an original thought? I don't think that's happened since the advent of the internet.

> Evolutionary theory claims to have an explanation for the present diversity of species and a method
> for making predictions of trends; it does not claim to tell us how life arose or how the universe
> arose.

And yet you get clowns that support ID and make stupid claims like, "the worst example of 'evolutionary thought' is the Big Bang.", even though they are so incompetent at science they can't apparently tell biology from astronomy, or equally BS claims, like how evolution say 'random' events caused life to just pop out of nothing, then randomly evolve. Wrong, evolution isn't any more random that water running down hill. There is a whole $@#$%@ planet producing things from rain, to floods, to rack walls, mud, quicksand, lakes, oceans, etc. that 'force' life to evolve to fit. Mutation = random, evolution /= random.

As to the clown commenting on Squid eyes being like humans. There is also a squid they found recently with a total of 3 different kinds of eyes, simple light sensors, simply lidless eyes with no ability to focus **and** human like eyes. The irony of this creature would be that it seems like the sort of thing that ID's God would come up with to say, "Well Behe, now what do you think about the idiot idea that half an eye is useless?" Squid, unlike sharks, dolphins and most other large animals in the sea don't have smell, ecolocation or electromagetic sensors in them. They are also preditors, so they need to look forward, and they need to be able to see fine details, so you can tell how to fish a rock out of a hole to get at a fish or other things that *no other* marine species does. This requires an eye that is more similar to a human one than not. So do birds, for the same reason. Why the hell would it evolve anything else?

> The concept of Intelligent Design claims to have an explanation for the origin of life and the
> origin of the universe, and not a direct explanation for the present diversity of life, nor does it
> make predictions of any sort.

Bullshit. If you believe that, then you haven't been reading ID literature. They are **very** clear about how life got to be what it is now. Something dropped it all on the planet as is, with only trivial stuff like the length and color of feathers having 'evolved'. Kinds, like fish, apes, turtles, birds, creationists, etc. where all 'pre-created', then simply micro-evolved into more diverse versions. Gosh! Sounds like a #@$#@$ prediction to me. Well, not a prediction actually, more like a hypothesis. Predictions are, "If this is true, then we should find ..." So, I suppose in the purest sense, it makes no predictions, but that is the point, science is about prediction shit and then looking to see if you can find it. Not making up stuff, then complaining because real scientists won't buy a pack of Tarot cards or a crystal ball, to go looking for what ever the hell they haven't actually described, but insist scientists refuse to look for. Scientist 1, "Ok, what are we looking for?" Scientist 2, "I don't know, but they ID people say we will recognize it when we see it." ID advocate, "What! You haven't found it yet? Your not even trying!!! Admit it!!!"

And while there have been **some** people making hypothesis about everything from space aliens to direct guidence by God, *none* of these people ever called themselves Intelligent Design advocates, until the Discovery Institute introduced the concept, **as** a way to promote not space aliens, but Biblical literalism. So don't tell those of us that have been watching this train wreck speeding towards us for years what your opinion is about scientists misrepresenting anything. They know quite well what this chimera is and no ammount of appoligist protestations will erase the mountains of evidence about who invented, what ID is and when they started pushing it. Since when is proving, with their own documents and words, these facts, "Mischaracterizing them"? Next your going to tell me that its a mischaracterization to claim that people in China are almost all Chinese. Such a claim would be just as stupid and irrational as claiming scientists are lying about the nature of the ID movement and who is behind it. At at least as ignorant, since I see a great deal of a lot of, "Well, my says its not about religion and I you can't expect people like me, who are too lazy to open a science book to instead waste time researching ID either.", type comments in here. Don't protest that this isn't the case. Reading the opinions of other equally ignorant dupes on 1-2 websites that are neither experts on ID, Evolution or even Religion, doesn't count. Lying about having done "real" research on it just makes you look like a even bigger fool.

Funny how you pretend in this post that your first post was not serious.

I did not spot the "irony"; almost nobody in the posts comments did. Therefore, most comments were very passionate indeed: ID supporters cheering because they finally found someone that agreed with them AND could spell (and probably pronounce "cre-a-tio-nism" and "e-vo-lu-tion". On the other hand, normal, intelligent people angrily shaking their heads because their favourite cartoonist messed up.
Maybe you could make it more obvious that you are joking next time. Or be a man and admit that that first post was a serious piece.

Anyways, if your first post was meant to be surreal (which I don't beleive), you did well. Thing is, lots of people in the ID camp would perfectly be able to write this kind of stuff, use the exact same stupid arguments AND be serious about it. We all know them; they are the bad guys that believe God created them.
Because the line between your "surreal humour" and their über-surreal thoughts is sooooooooo very thin, the discussion in which the theory of evolution is questioned is not ready for the subtle humor you say you intended to use. If (and I still don't think you did) you intended to write an ironic post, I think you made a mistake in choosing your topic. Except if you wanted some flames on your comments page :-)

Anyways, I hope you design your next post more intelligently ;-)

"The big bang theory" was mentioned earlier. When that theory was first advanced, it was rejected as being too close to the Biblical version. Just a side note.

The ID haters are calling you a lot of nasty names and making many accusations. The ID proponents are thanking you for your 'balanced view'. All this despite the fact that you've stated repeatedly that you do NOT believe in ID.

And you've barely scratched the surface. Chilling, isn't it?

"...the average person (me) has no credible source of information on the topic of evolution.


Let me say very clearly here that I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence.


The people who purport to have evidence of evolution do a spectacular job of making themselves non-credible. And since I don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types."

Please document the way the following people have made themselves non-credible to the point it has put their professional opinions on evolution in question:


What Evolution is
by Mayr, Ernst

God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory
by Shanks, Niall, and Dawkins, Richard (Foreword by)

Unintelligent Design
by Perakh, Mark

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
by Gould, Stephen Jay

Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
by Sagan, Carl

At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore But Then Went Back to Sea
by Zimmer, Carl, and Buell, Carl Dennis (Illustrator)

From Genesis to Genetics: The Case of Evolution and Creationism
by Moore, John A

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
by Dawkins, Richard

Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism
by Pennock, Robert T

Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time
by Weiner, Jonathan, Professor

Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species
by Margulis, Lynn, and Sagan, Dorion, and Mayr, Ernst (Foreword by)

Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives
by Pennock, Robert T (Editor)

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom
by Carroll, Sean

Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution
by Miller, Kenneth

Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution
by Fortey, Richard

From DNA to Diversity
by Sean B. Carroll, Jennifer K. Grenier, Scott D. Weatherbee

Creationism's Trojan Horse
by Barbara Forrest, Paul R. Gross

Evolutionary Biology
by Douglas J. Futuyma

I am not a biologist (research scientist in aerodynamics). The above is a small sampling from my library on this topic. I have it because I have an interest (which you seem to have since you wrote on it) and due to the birth of my daughter. Since I am not a biologist I therefore fit your definition of an “average person” with regards to my knowledge of evolution BEFORE I took the time to research it. Your blanket statement: "What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence." I take exception too. I found this to be a completely and utterly false statement without support. My experience has led me to a very different conclusion. Is this more irony on your part? Please, detail the lack of credibility of the above mentioned authors with specific detail regarding how it impacts their knowledge of evolution.

I think it was you, Scott, that wrote somewhere that we are so used to hearing one-sided arguments, that a fairly balanced view, weighing up the pros and cons of both sides of an issue, seems to us like it is massively in favour of whatever we are opposed to. It appears you have prompted this reaction, and therefore are to be congratulated on portraying a balanced analysis.

I think it is interesting that many people supporting evolution appear to have forgotten that it is just a theory. A theory with fewer and fewer holes maybe, but a theory nonetheless. Again, I think it was you that said that if we threw out every theory that had holes, we wouldn't know very much. It annoyed me when I was at school that we were not taught evolution as a theory, but as fact, and we were not exposed to any alternatives. This will stifle thinking, and promote a bunch of people who think they were taught facts, who can't see past themselves.

I like evolution. Survival of the fittest is great. I have more problems with macroevolution, evolving into different species. And where did consciousness come in to us? And where did the first cell come from?

PZ states that he has "absolutely razzle-dazzle incontrovertible support for evolution", and that several other scientists in other fields "are all saying, "Wow. We've got the best evidence ever."" Someone should publish a book. The scientist who puts all that incontravertable evidence in one volume will both prove evolution, and never have to work again. Or, if the book doesn't get published, does that mean that scientists are nincompoops, or that they don't actually have the evidence PZ claims they have? I'm not going to leap to conclusions; both seem quite possible.

Speaking of PZ, I'm glad that a person with a psydeudonym and a blog has now become a credible source for information. I should introduce him to my Nigerian astronaut friend.

That reply knocks evolution a bit more than I would have liked, but I guess that's because most of those attacking you seem to be attacking from that direction.

Dr Yak, in a calmly worded helpful comment on November 15, 2005 at 06:25 PM, suggests reading works by Dawkins and Gould. These are good suggestions. Scott's reply was "Thank you for suggesting I read the work of people who earn a living by supporting a particular viewpoint. You have low standards of credibility".

Another way to think about it is that you should read the work of professionals who have worked in the area for many years. To consider that as a "low standard" goes a long way to showing why Scott cannot distinguish the good from the bad in this whole area.

You know, PZ's been blogging as a biologist for quite a while now. How many drive-by trolls do you think he's seen? How much creationist spam has he had to clean from his filters? How many creationists telling him that his years spent earning his PhD were wasted because evolution is a lie?

Cut the guy some slack. He's entitled to be a little cranky, I think.

Scott, you acted the fool, and someone who actually knows something about the subject took you seriously. Not so remarkable. Professional hazard for a Professional Fool, surely?

Scott said: Thank you for suggesting I read the work of people who earn a living by supporting a particular viewpoint. You have low standards of credibility.

Scott, that has to be about the silliest statement you've made yet in this discussion. If you don't consider people who actually know something about evolution and the evidence supporting it to be "credible" sources, you've gone off the deep end. You clearly have no idea how science actually works.

Besides, questioning someone's credibility because they "make a living" off of studying evolution is a rather blatant case of ad hominem. Even when it's appropriate to bring such an observation up, it does not get you off the hook of addressing what PZ said. In any case, as another reader has pointed out, there's lots more money to be made writing books preaching ID and selling them than there is doing serious studies of evolution.

You have it wrong, anyway. The fastest way to fame and fortune (and a probably Nobel Prize) for an evolutionary biologist would be to find some big hole in evolutionary theory and then come up with a better explanation that explains existing evidence better and makes more accurate predictions. Scientists earn fame and reputation by successfully challenging existing theory. Thus far, the current theory of evolution has withstood all challenges. That isn't to say that someday, some young gun scientist won't come up with something better, but, even if he does the new theory will have to be able to explain all the currently existing evidence supporting the old theory and do it better.

The ID/Creationism book Tom Barret refers to is "Of Pandas and People". "The Panda's Thumb" is a pro-science blog, and also a biological feature that is clearly not intelligently designed.

Several commenters have suggested that ID is not incompatible with evolution. They must not be at all familiar with any of the current ID "research". It consists entirely of negative claims about evolution, e.g. that this or that biological feature could not have evolved. Examples include bogus arguments about "information theory" and claims that flagella or the blood clotting cascade could not have evolved (also false).

Credibility in this fraught area depends on honesty in handling the evidence. Scientists handling the actual evidence (all those many boxes of fossils that Scott referenced in so misleading a manner constitute but a minsicule fraction of the evidence) in an integritous manner tend to impatience with non-scientists dishonestly spewing views premised on everything BUT the evidence.

Not getting this doesn't make you look clever, Scott, whatever you were really trying for and however well-honed your instincts for clever may usually be. It instead makes you look intellectually lazy (whether you are or aren't in most other contexts).

The evidence is there, Scott, and perfectly comprehensible to interested laypeople who bother to look for it. Those who tell you otherwise are simply lying. Those who swallow those lies are, at best, credulous. That you didn't bother to search for and review the easily-available evidence before wieghing in and accusing large numbers of hard-working scientists of non-credibility has put you in an awkward position entirely of your own making.

You may think that's cute, but you're out of your depth trying to make funny in this area. Not because the subject is too deep for intelligent laypeople to understand. But because you jumped into a hole without looking first.

Magic Beans are always a tricky subject. Everyone has an opinion and facts are hard to come by. But in the end, you don't have a cow and a giant is trying to squish you.

Scott,

The problem you face, that of deciding which side is right based solely on the credibility of those defending it, is exactly the problem that the scientific process was design to solve.

For thousands of years people faced the same problem. Some people claimed that the firmament was firm and did not move, or that everything was made of earth, wind and fire, or that the world stood upon a turtle, or that Allah created people. People would try to decide which one of these statements was true by ascertaining who was more credible and whether or not it was possible that those supporting a view has an alternative motive (or herd mentality).

That did not work out too well.

Eventually, some smart people said "OK, if you want me to believe your claim, show me the evidence". They latter called themselves scientists. In the scientific process every theory is tested every day and only those that are supported by the evidence survice to fight another day.

That is why science is almost always right (and it is always eventually correct).

The average person like you should understand how science works and should understand that if science says that X is true then it is because the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of X. As such, you should believe science when it tells you something, not because scientists are especially clever, but because the scientific process ensures that only those theories supported by evidence survive.

You should also learn to differentiate between science and scientists. Scientists are an obnoxious lot, after all, they make their living trying to find evidence that shows that their colleagues' theories are hogwash. In the end, most of them are bitter because their theories did turn out to be hogwash, but science, as a whole, is much richer for it.

Well, Im off to find evidence for my own theory.

Very good mocking of PZ Scott, up there with the mocking of Norman Solomon in The Joy Of Work.

From what I've seen on this debate the people who believe in ID seem to have more of an open mind whereas a few of those who believe in evolution still don't get your point.

For the record (before all those aforementioned people flame as an ID supporter for saying they don't get your point) I believe in evolution but I'm willing to accept that I might be proven wrong at some point.

See, I knew I blindly followed your teachings like a trained puppy for some reason. You are my hero, Scott. I need to learn hypnotism; you people seem to have all the fun.

"You trust people who have a financial/career stake in taking a particular side? I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm saying that no matter what the question, you have to be skeptical of anyone who is getting paid for an opinion, either directly or indirectly."

Scott:

Just out of curiosity, who is left after eliminating everyone who matches this criteria? I am absolutely certain that if the pro-evolution crowd could figure out more specifically who is eliminated and who is left after applying your criteria that they can provide you with some appropriate citations or links.

Jim

Dan P: "When it comes down to it, God could have created the universe including all of the evidence for evolution 10,000 years ago, and science would have absolutely no way of proving or disproving that. As a logical scientist, one has to admit that an omnipotent and omniscient God would be capable of such an act. To presume you “know” better is a fallacy."

When it comes down to it, the Flying Spaghetti Monster could have created the universe including all of the evidence for evolution 10,000 years ago, and science would have absolutely no way of proving or disproving that. As a logical scientist, one has to admit that an omnipotent and omniscient Flying Spaghetti Monster would be capable of such an act. To presume you “know” better is a fallacy.

Everyone knows that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created trees, mountains and midgets. Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?

PZ 10, Dilbert 0.

I've always sort of liked the cartoon, but when I think of it, it's massively lightweight.

What an idiot Adams is. But he's got a lot of new, dumb friends now, and he's lost a lot of old, smart friends.

I LOVED his refusal to read any books by biologists, since they "make their living off evolution" (or whatever dumb thing Adams said.) What a bozo.


"By the way, who's God decides how thing go on anyway... Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Budda...must be a really big meeting table"

Actually, I'm not sure Buddha is technically considered a god, but if you leave him out of it, the other three are all the same. It just depends on whether you believe he gave his blessing to Abraham's son Ishmael, or he gave his blessing to Abraham's other son Issac, or he sent his own son so that everyone could be blessed. So not such a big meeting after all.

-Rich

Did any of you IDers and other skeptics of evolution notice that PZ Myers said Darwin WAS WRONG on a lot of things? Why do you keep calling it Darwinism?

Also, will all of you PLEASE take a science class that teaches the scientific method? PLEASE?

Also, for all of you who think that the evolution-ID debate doesn't matter....you can all stop using:

1) Antibiotics
2) Fossil fuels
3) Your local library
4) If you're in the Midwest, the Great Lakes

Egghead - umm I'm not so sure

I BELIEVE (do not quote me on this) that after a number of generations (10, 12? i don't know) that "inbreeding" genes are so diluted that they don't effect the reproduction process, making it entire possible to have the same roots. Think of it like a family shrub (not tree) thats really tall. some grafts are extended for so long that you don't notice they ever connect lower.

maybe its a bad anaology but i hope i can get the point across...

There was a teacher taking a class about the International Date Line; about how crossing it makes you gain or lose a day compared to the rest of the world. At the end of the class he asked a student if he had understood how it worked.

"I understand it all right" the student replied, "But ... I don't BELEIVE it."


Does this seem familiar ?
;-)

I think part of your problems may come from the fact that serious scientists, or people who consider themselves serious scientists, are as confused by humor as you are by evolution and intelligent design.

Personally, I prefer another Adams explanation of the whole she-bang - Douglas Adams. Maybe you could include his theories (as presented in the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy and following books) in your next entry on the subject.

Thanks!

Ok, so the first 2 times I read this post my eyes tricked me into thinking "uninformed" was "uniformed." I was baffled as to why people in uniforms were leading the argument, or even being mentioned in this article for that matter. Guess my eyes haven't evolved into communicating with my brain properly.

By the way, I'm the worst kind of fanatic. I believe 90+% of scientists, pretty much all science books, and millions of people are compeletely wrong. I believe the earth is more like 10K to 20K years old, and there was no evolving - only adaptation. I'm a pure Creationist (also known by the political morons and media as an "Evangelical Christian"). The Bible said it took 6 days to go from nothing to everything, and I believe it. I might be wrong, but I'm willing to bet my entire life (and eternity) on it.

Love the blog, best wishes.

Hail, Dogbert!

It can all come down to one question: "What came first, egg or chicken?"

Of course the egg came first, (dinosaur ones!) then the thing that hatched started to look like a chicken more and more... what's so hard to beleive in that! By the way, who's God decides how thing go on anyway... Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Budda... must be a really big meeting table, who's CEO? There has to be one... that's when the Alien thing kicks in. Caus they don't really know (and don't really care) what's going on here and they don't visit often.

I like Budda, cool guy, not to stressed about life (kinda like Wally in some way). He didn't freak out with what was before, what's after? Who cares, we wern't there and won't be there!

As for myself, I'm just an engineering grad student that is procrastinating waiting for enlightenment to come from the snow that is falling... (aka don't take this post to seriously and sorry if I'm a french-canadian!)

An other great comic strip because it's as true as Dilbert: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/comics.php

Dear Mr. Adams:

While I'm not sure why you decided to pen a piece from ignorance, I can appreciate that you're grappling with the issues. I can also appreciate that it's difficult to grasp evolution. It's a big subject and it takes years to learn. It's taken me over twenty years and I still don't have a complete understanding of the subject and don't pretend I ever will. No one person is going to be able to explain it to you.

However if you want to get a sort of basic overview, you could do worse than to start with "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins, although that book does delve into speculation, is somewhat dated and is hardly the last word on evolution, it is more accessible to the layman than most textbooks on the subject.

For the ID side, there's really only one text, "The Panda's Thumb." The problem with this book was that it was written as an argument for creationism, and when creationism fell out of vogue the authors merely snipped the references to creation and replaced them with intelligent design. It's being re-written as we speak, so we're just going to have to wait to see what's changed. In the meantime if you want the straight dope on ID, you can find it here:
http://www.discovery.org/csc/

I think the reason most scientists are hostile to ID is that its proponents want it taught in science classes when it isn't a scientific theory; it's an untestable hypothesis and is therefore beyond the purview of science. I think you'd find similar hostility if a band of physicists demanded that optics be taught alongside Plato in Philosophy 101.

Best of luck and keep up the outstanding cartooning!

Very truly yours,

Tom Barrett
Seattle

The funny part of "evolutionary thinking" is the big bang theory. If i told you a library exploded millions of years ago and bits and pieces of words floated around for eons . then pure luck brought some of the pieces all together to form the first known dictionary, you'd think i was nuts.

The funny part of "evolutionary thinking" is the big bang theory. If i told you alibrary exploded millions of years agoand bits and pieces of words floted around for eons . then pure luck brought some of the peices all together to form the first known dictionary, you'd think i was nuts.

You've really increased traffic with the whole debating Intelligent Design thing. Next, you should debate gay rights.

You've really increased traffic with the whole debating Intelligent Design thing. Next, you should debate gay rights.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster was he who created all.

www.venganza.org

In response to a comment (forgot which):
How can you see evolution around you. If I'm not badly mistaken, evolution is something that happens over (very) long periods of time. You can't "see" something evolving.

And by the way. I could claim that I myself made the earth four years ago and just planted all the evidence that says I didn't.
It's as credible as ID, because nobody can prove it's not true.
Dozens of philosophers have said we can't know anything for certain, but if we presume that everything we have credible evidence of, is true, we must believe in the scientific and godless explanation of everything.

I myself don't believe in ID, but I do believe in the freedom of religion. You can't mock someone because he worships another god than you, and believing in the ID or not is pretty much the same as believing in one god or another.

Of course, it's wrong to teach ID in public schools. It's like teaching racial theories; some people believe in them, but that doesn't make the theories right. ID should not be taught, because it's not the "truth" today, the scientific explanation is. Who knows, in a hundred years, when we have new information it might be the other way round. Though propably not.

You are simply wrong: There ARE credible people who have written clearly and intelligently on evolution by natural selection. They are:

1. Charles Darwin
2. Niles Eldredge
3. Kenneth Miller
4. Douglas Futuyama
5. The authors of the PBS Evolution Series (full disclosure: I composed music for one episode)

If you do not believe these are credible authors, then please tell me your criteria for credibility.

You can also read the testimony transcripts of the "Dover Panda Trial" at aclupa.blogspot.com which will give you an extremely good idea of what this debate is all about. I refer you in particular to Dr. Miller's testimony and that of Dr. Barbara Forrest on the history of the "intelligent design" movement.

On the contrary, there is no, repeat no, scientific evidence for "intelligent design" creationism. There has not been a single credible account of "intelligent design" creationism as a scientific theory for that reason: there is no scientific evidence nor is "intelligent design" creationism couched properly as a scientific theory.

Your attempt to distinguish between "intelligent design" and creationism is specious - by definition "intelligent design" must be a form of creationism. This is an argument Kenneth Miller and others have made numerous times and it has never been refuted.

As for "Darwinists" being wrong about "intelligent design" creationists on the age of the earth, you are wrong on two counts:

1. That is not an argument I've heard made by any scientist except in response to an "intelligent design" creationist who has claimed a young earth creation.
2. In fact, at least one prominent "intelligent design" creationist does believe in a young earth. His name is Paul Nelson and he is from Discovery institute. He claims that his belief in "young earth" is merely a religious, not a scientific one, but if that is so, then he would be willling to admit that "old earth" is scientifically valid. He does not.

You do not understand the first thing about this debate, which many people, including myself, have studied carefully, and you have no right to comment on it, even humorously, until you do. It is an extremely important debate despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, that there is not a shred of scientific evidence in support of "intelligent design" creationism.

I suggest Forrest and Cross' "Creationism's Trojan Horse" which is the best one-volume introduction to the issues at play here.

"This blogger, who calls himself PZ, is evidently a highly educated scientist, extremely informed on the topic of evolution, and quite passionate. But for reasons that fascinate the trained hypnotist in me, that brilliance doesn’t extend to comprehending The Dilbert Blog."

Maybe not. But I think that comprehending biology is a somewhat more worthwhile achievement than comprehending the Dilbert blog, which - at least in this instance - isn't exactly a model of clarity or common sense.

Even if I were to grant that PZ was hasty in attacking certain things you said, you said a number of other things that he was quite correct to take issue with. An honest response to him would involve discussing areas where you were clearly, demonstrably wrong. The notion that your errors constitute some sort of ironic trap that you've set for the unwary is...um...non-credible.

The fact that you're a cartoonist is beside the point here. You're a public figure, with a large audience, holding forth on current events and evidenciary standards in science. You might not like PZ's personality, or his way of engaging with you, but that doesn't make him "non-credible."

You also say, "Let me say very clearly here that I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence."

I'd point out that this is silly, wilfully ignorant, and childish...but I'm afraid of being told I'm a hunor-impaired automaton who doesn't "get" the Dilbert blog.

If you truly can't find credible people to inform you about the evidence for evolution, it reflects poorly on no one but you. The measure of a scientist's credibility isn't personality or politeness; it's familiarity with his or her field. And in any case, if braying arrogance affects credibility, you've got serious credibility problems of your own. There are hundreds of scientists who could inform you in a heartbeat, if you were willing or able to listen to them with some degree of humility.

ToddCommish set it well. They don't get the joke because they are the joke. It's like a kid with a kick me sign on his back. Everyone looks at him funny, no one says a thing. Only thing is were kicking Mrs. Phish and company, and saying "here's your sign", but they just... arent... getting it...

sunuva... more people too smart for their own good. They talk about their logic and how the emotional hogwash associated with ID is wrong, but they can't put their own passion for evolution aside to see a humorist at work. Overweight people don't laugh at fat jokes, evolutionists don't laugh at this.
Too bad they're missing out.

Scott,

Please read a few of Richard Dawkin's books.

Rob

New candidate for weasliest profession: Scientists!

Wow. And not 1 comment from PZ. I'd say you just made him. But does he care? Where is the gratitude for your obvious creation? Can anyone really argue with this being an instance of Intelligent Design--especially PZ?
Not me.

Maybe the reason PZ is so hostile is that he's suffering from extream sexual exhausion? Althougth he could just use his other hand to type his blogs. Or maybe PZ is a girl and it's just PMS? That could also create this kind of malicious contempt.

Man, this took my whole lunch hour to read. Geez! Maybe this could be a segway into the next topic: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Your buddy Bob

Is this some kind of ultra-modern mass-participation performance art?

This sort of thing is surely what the internet was developed for.

I took your advice and Googled "cognitive dissonance"--fascinating. This would explain my dating history and my entire first marriage, as well as a good deal of my employment history.

Zarniwoop pulled some notes out of a pocket.
"Now," he said, "you do rule the Universe, do you?"
"How can I tell?" said the man.
Zarniwoop ticked off a note on the paper.
"How long have you been doing this?"
"Ah," said the man, "this is a question about the past is it?"
Zarniwoop looked at him in puzzlement. This wasn't exactly what he had been expecting.
"Yes," he said.
"How can I tell," said the man, "that the past isn't a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?"
Zarniwoop stared at him. The steam began to rise from his sodden clothes.
"So you answer all questions like this?" he said.
The man answered quickly.
"I say what it occurs to me to say when I think I hear people say things. More I cannot say."
Zaphod laughed happily.
"I'll drink to that," he said and pulled out the bottle of Janx spirit. He leaped up and handed the bottle to the ruler of the Universe, who took it with pleasure.
"Good on you, great ruler," he said, "tell it like it is."
"No, listen to me," said Zarniwoop, "people come to you do they? In ships..."
"I think so," said the man. He handed the bottle to Trillian.
"And they ask you," said Zarniwoop, "to take decisions for them? About people's lives, about worlds, about economies, about wars, about everything going on out there in the Universe?"
"Out there?" said the man, "out where?"
"Out there!" said Zarniwoop pointing at the door.
"How can you tell there's anything out there," said the man politely, "the door's closed."
The rain continued to pound the roof. Inside the shack it was warm.
"But you know there's a whole Universe out there!" cried Zarniwoop. "You can't dodge your responsibilities by saying they don't exist!"
The ruler of the Universe thought for a long while whilst Zarniwoop quivered with anger.
"You're very sure of your facts," he said at last, "I couldn't trust the thinking of a man who takes the Universe - if there is one - for granted."
Zarniwoop still quivered, but was silent.
"I only decide about my Universe," continued the man quietly. "My Universe is my eyes and my ears. Anything else is hearsay."
"But don't you believe in anything?"
The man shrugged and picked up his cat.
"I don't understand what you mean," he said.
"You don't understand that what you decide in this shack of yours affects the lives and fates of millions of people? This is all monstrously wrong!"
"I don't know. I've never met all these people you speak of. And neither, I suspect, have you. They only exist in words we hear. It is folly to say you know what is happening to other people. Only they know, if they exist. They have their own Universes of their own eyes and ears."

And btw, those of you who think scientists are being too 'serious' about this and should 'lighten up' , need to read the Wedge Strategy document, which is the manifesto of the Intelligent Design movement.

http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

For years, scientists has taken the tack of ignoring these religious kooks except when forced not to...and look where we are now -- defending science AGAIN in the courts. It would be pathetic if it weren't so indicative of certain deep-running strain of religion-based anti-intellectualism in the American psyche.

Like the Terminator, the ID crowd just won't quit. The scientific facts supporting evolution and common descent by natural mechanisms -- and there is a mountain of them -- don't matter to them. That scientific theories can't, and don't try to, 'disprove' the existence God, doesn't matter to them. To them, it's a culture war. And they definitely aren't kidding. So maybe *now* you understand why scientists might think Mr. Adams is being a bit of a git with his know-nothing 'contrarian' essay. I suggest he stick to *drawing* cartoons, and step away from *being* one.

It definately sounds like you're trying to have your cake and eat it too. If you come out with the same old canards that we've all heard from the creationists/ID'ists so many times before and which have been thouroughly debunked over and over, plus you attack the honesty and credibility of tens of thousands of intelligent, hard-working people then you can't suddenly claim "only joking" and expect a pass.

Do you really thing people are sudying evolution for the money? There is considerably more money to be gained from fleecing the gullible in the ID/creationist community (look at Dembski), plus you don't even actually have to do any work in the lab.

Scott, if your main concern about the scientific viewpoint is the existence of credible proponents of evolution, may I suggest a couple of well known authors. I have been very impressed with the credible arguments of Stephen Jay Gould and also of Richard Dawkins. Dawkins book, The Blind Watchmaker is particularly good on the subject, even if it addresses Creationism rather than ID. Most of Gould's books have a section discussing and refuting the latest Creationist arguments.

[Thank you for suggesting I read the work of people who earn a living by supporting a particular viewpoint. You have low standards of credibility. -- Scott]

Todays "scientists" are yesterdays nerds and geeks that could never get a date and are super PO'd about it. That's why there's so much hostility shrouding this debate.
Can we please move on to another topic?

ps. great strip today Scott. i never knew what eyebrows were for until now.

--------------
If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution. The others are somewhat extra from an argument standpoint. PZ mentions four “bunches” of relevant ones...
--------------

Um, no. A collection of multiple fossils contains of a single species much more information than a single fossil - even a perfect, complete one. Such a collection represents a spectrum from earlier forms that are quite similar to members of an earlier species, and later forms that are more similar to more modern species.

Take for example, an early Homo species, H. habalis. There are specimens with brain sizes varying from between 500 and 800 cc. That overlaps with australopithecines at the low end, and with H. erectus at the high end.

Seriously, if you want to get some credible information about biology, take a biology class. Or read a biology book. Contrary to what you seem to believe, they're not all about this argument. In fact, most are just about biology and don't discuss ID and/or creationism at all.

Scott-
I am a Christian, and a student of science. I am what you might call an "origin-agnostic". I believe evolution happens in some since, be it either macro- or micro-, and I believe in Adam and Eve. It's just that I don't know when or where that story took place, or what they looked like.

Anyway, I just wanted to reply and tell you that your coverage is the most balanced I have read in any media. I think you do a great job of covering the pros and cons of both sides.

I don't trust anyone who thinks they have all the answers.

For a philosophical critique of evolution that I find devastating, check out this site:

A Brief Presuppositional Analysis of Evolutionism
http://presstheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/08/brief-presuppositional-analysis-of.html

Some Thoughts On Evolution As A Religious Presupposition
http://presstheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/05/some-thoughts-on-evolution-as.html

I like the Stupid Design theory. But then again, I also like the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory

http://www.venganza.org/

What's the deal with people who think they are superior because they mock the debate instead of establishing a real position? Frankly I think that's pathetic. If you can't marshall an argument, if you're not passionate about the subject, why not find something else to talk about? Standing back and making snarky comments isn't some sort of elevated wisdom, it's simply self-indulgent.

P.S. Scott Adams is a dork with a very low threshold for "funny."

Heh. You've summed up the problem in a nutshell. And then there are people like me that don't even see the conflict between evolution and intelligent design (though I'm still stuck on creationism, not I.D.).

It's like this: evolution focuses on "how." I.D. focuses on "why". Do they conflict? Well, maybe, but you have to *make* them conflict. Evolutionists will happily tell you man evolved from apes which evolved from rodents which evolved from bacteria which evolved from Howard Dean, or something like that. And I.D. says, "bacteria was such an improvement over Howard Dean, but I think we can do even better."

Anyway, I enjoy your thoughts on the subject and thought I'd share mine.

Michael
http://chasingthewind.net

The problem I have with Scott is, he really shouldn't have chosen this "debate" to endulge in his love of stirring up trouble for the sake of it. This is not even a debate, because academically and scientifically speaking there's no real debate: there are facts, truths, scientific methodology; and then there is superstition and "make believe" and "what if". This is individualism at his very top: nobody trusts institutions anymore, relying only on themselves... and "hey, I never saw a monkey having a human child, right? So evolution doesn't add up, let's talk about it!".

This thing about misrepresentation and then attacking the misrepresentatation is all too familiar. Sadly enough, there are fewer takers for ID to make this blog livelier on an equal ground. Serious IDers would never log on to the numerous URLs provided in these blogs for their firm beliefs just the way the new scientist ( I call new because all renaissance scientists were monks and believers, well nearly all who matter ) will never look at a religious portal to find a proportionate counter-argument. In the end, nothing changes and the song remains the same. BTW, anti-ID drive would deprive Led Zeppelins, Sabbaths and other such of their livelihoods which is a DIVINE INTERVENTION in the generally anti-ID scheme of things! A win-win!

We must come from aliens. Think about it. You have 2 parents, they each have 2 parents, so that's 4 grandparents, right? That means you have 8 great-grandparents and 16 great-great-grandparents. Follow the trend, go back 40 generations (if you say 20 years per generations, that's only 800 years), you had 1,099,511,627,776 great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-great-grandparents. That's a trillion people, way more than are around today, and that's only YOUR ancestors, that doesn't include the other few billion peoples' ancestors. Now, I admit some of YOUR ancestors were probably frisky brothers, sisters or cousins and that would bring down the count, but if you go back another 10 generations, it would be 1 quadrillion people, that would take A LOT of family friskiness to account for.

And for you people that say where did the aliens come from, well they came from a different set of aliens. If you question the source of the thing that creates everything else, then neither the Big Bang or God make sense (they both came out of nothing, or are eternal, in the case of the Big Bang, if it was because of a collision of branes, where did the branes come from). So if we ignore the argument that there was always some thing there before, my aliens (or their aliens, or their alien's aliens) are not the issue.

Lighten up people.

Scott,

Maybe in the next blog entry you could compare the comments this discussion triggered to the comments you got on The_Religion_War. (Surely I'm not the only blog reader that bought this book.) I have to expect they were similar.

One point you haven't taken up yet in the ID debate is teaching science. It seems a lot of the root motivation for PZ and the ID side comes from a difference of opinion over teaching science in general. The ID crowd want to teach that their God is the fundamental cause of the universe and science is only a useful topic to teach when it encourages that position. The PZ crowd want to teach that science is provably correct and everything else is hogwash. Both sides can accept that evolution occurs today in fruit flys or bacteria, because that can be demonstrated in a science class (for PZ) and it shows God is still active (for ID). The debate over the origin of homo sapiens that they are choosing to argue about is selected precisely for the misrepresentation opportunities available. They could decide to agree on Darwin's version of it, ID because it just shows how God did his creation and PZ because it shows evolution has always been around. They could decide to unite against Darwin's version of it, PZ because it's not reproducable and ID because man is "special".

However, they choose to argue over it because it makes a good surrogate for what they really disagree about, the goal of teaching science to children. Not only do both sides misrepresent each others views, they both misrepresent their own goals and objectives.

I can't agree, however, that PZ is the peak example of misrepresentation. I think that has to go to the ID folks on the Dover school board. They argued in Federal Court that ID had nothing whatsoever to do with religion, it was just another scientific theory arguing for shelf space in children's minds. Then when they were defeated in an election Pat Robertson, something of a religious man, got on TV claiming that the citizens had voted God out of their city. No simple web blog can reach that level.

WELL_DUH:

You can't find a credible person because only GOD is credible!

"Let me say very clearly here that I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence."

Ummm...define "credible"

You seem to be saying that anyone who gets paid by either side or just has an axe to grind just isn't credible. But then who is?

If you have a toothache, you don't ask the plumber what's wrong, you go to a dentist - at least, I assume you do. Why? The dentist gets paid to do his job so, by your argument, he's not a credible source of information about tooth decay.

"When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me. Both sides in the evolution debate do that with gusto. Why would I believe people who prove to me they are either dishonest or biased or worse?"

Good question, except that just before you write:

"And since I don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types."

So tell us, if you don't have any "relevant scientific knowledge" and what you do "know" comes from "non-credible types", how can you tell who - if anyone - is misrepresenting who?

There is no hope. When self confessed engineers, well educated, really good rational people choose feeling and "i believe" over actual thinking about the world it's time to stand back in awe. Simply amazing. At least that's what I feel in my heart.

Scott ... you've managed to add a sad perspetive on my daily routine. Perhaps Bob isn't a metaphor? Oh dear. As to your apologia above: ironic humor requires just that little twist over the edge to reveal the nonsense. Sincerity doesn't cut it.

Now look what you started. Just couldn't leave it alone, could you?

Heh.

I don't belive in ID either, but this site makes a very creative argument for it. If they are going to teach ID in schools, then they need to teach all forms of it--so they need to acknowledge that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (I kid you not) could be a valid designer.

I don't belive in ID either, but this site makes a very creative argument for it. If they are goign to teach ID in schools, then they need to teach all forms of it--so they need to acknowledge that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (I kid you not) could be a valid designer.

There is no point in arguing with an idiot. First he is going to drag you down to his level and then he will beat you with experience.

And I don't personally care wether the idiot is an ID idiot or an darwinist idiot.

Sorry for the wording. Idiot is normally not part of of my vocabulary.

Have you ever noticed that thereare far too many stupid people about? that PZ bloke sounds like a great example.

Anyway loving the blog and the cartoon still so keep it up!

Jeremy

I would very much like to know why no one (I'll admitt that I did not read the last half of responses to this post) has even brought up the scientific evidence that makes the theory of evolution no less than questionable. I.e. the fact that octupus eyes are more similar to human eyes than any other animal's or the fact that no scientist that I know of has ever made a one-celled organism into a two or more celled organism. www.icr.org has more information like this.

Well put...

I also love the posting that said:
"Don't both "camps" start from the same sense of wonder, awe, humility and curiosity that the natural world can inspire? Some of us immediately jump to a position of "this must have been created by someone" and others jump to "there must be a simple scientific explanation for all this." The potential meeting ground would involve staying with the wonder and not jumping."

Scott, the funniest thing about this whole issue is PEOPLE ARE TAKING YOU SERIOUSLY! You're a cartoonist, for Pete's sake, not a theologian or scientist! Your entire job is to mock, to ridicule, to satirize... And these people are acting like you have an agenda other than making people laugh.

In other words, they don't get the joke because they ARE the joke.

p.s. BTW, the burger at Stacey's in downtown is excellent! Love the salad that comes with it.

I think that the reason that the debate over ID/creationism irks so many biologists (like PZM) is that this is not an argument that requires a great deal of technical expertise.

Discussion of, oh say, quantum mechanics, will require years and years of study, mastery of high level mathematics, etc. You can't do it unless you're doing it full-time.

But not evolution. Anyone who is willing to take some time and learn about the issues can wade into it. Admittedly, you do have to spend a fair bit of time reading and thinking about the issues. But if you're willing to put in a few months of reading general biology books in the evening, you can be pretty well versed on the facts. And then you can decide if the 99% of biologists who think evolution is real have good arguments.

And it's evident from your essay that you haven't taken the time to read up (but then, judging from most of the writing/arguments I've seen, neither have most ID proponents). I think that's what's most galling about your post. When I read it, I got the impression that you skimmed the web for a few hours, decided that there were arguments on both sides, couldn't make a decision as to which ones were valid and wrote a few paragraphs saying "a pox on both your houses" (to quote Orac) rather than spending some time learning about the subject and evaluating the arguments before posting.

Do your homework. Evolution is fascinating stuff and there's a lot of excellent (and accessible) books written about it. Claiming that there's no credible source of information about it is simply wrong. I think Jimbo might have had the most sensible comment here.

I'm all for humor, but no - you don't get a free ride because you're a cartoonist. You can't make up a bunch of bullshit and then call "I was just joking!" or "I just wanted to show the debate!"

Myers took you to task for your nonsense. You can withdraw your accusations (scientists mislead the ID position would be number one) and admit you were wrong or keep up the untruths. I suggest option one.

Watch yourself Scott -- winning an internet agrument and a medal in the Special Olympics mean the same thing. You're retarded.

"And since I don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types."

If you don't know anything and aren't willing to take the time to learn anything, why are you writing about this topic?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I can see the problem here: both sides misrepresent the other side's position because neither side can actually attack the other as it stands. This has nothing to do with the fundamental "correctness" of any one position; it has everything to do with the fact that the two ideas do not conflict. There is no overlap whatsoever. Evolutionary theory claims to have an explanation for the present diversity of species and a method for making predictions of trends; it does not claim to tell us how life arose or how the universe arose. The concept of Intelligent Design claims to have an explanation for the origin of life and the origin of the universe, and not a direct explanation for the present diversity of life, nor does it make predictions of any sort.

Why, then, do they misrepresent each other's views? So that they can argue. Evolutionists want to knock down ID because it smells like religion; ID-advocates want to knock down evolution because it smells like atheism. It has become the latest topic in the continuing idealogical conflict between the religious and the non-religious. Many atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists latch on to the theory of evolution because it does not involve God, while many religious folk latch on to Intelligent Design because it does include at least the implication of a god.

In short, there is no way for an evolutionist to refute Intelligent Design using evolution; and there is no way for an Intelligent Design advocate to refute evolution using Intelligent Design. Nevertheless, they feel compelled to battle it out. The only possible result of this situation is the repeated misrepresentation of the other side.


Note that I am referring only to the specific qualities of the two ideas; other circumstances are not considered. The issue of teaching ID in schools (and, specifically, in biology class) is entirely separate from determining which explanation(s) is(are) correct.

"if you put a gun to my head and make me choose, I’ll pick Darwin’s version over Intelligent Design,"

Um, why do you have to pick one over the other?

I tend to go with the "Door #3" position like several other posters. [Examples of these other posters are: (John Nelson | November 13, 2005 at 10:07 AM), (Ashley | November 15, 2005 at 05:11 AM), and (lg | November 15, 2005 at 06:49 AM) --- Hopefully I'm not upsetting these folks by misrepresenting them or lumping them into a group...]

I like the comment someone made that EVERYBODY thinks Darwin got it "wrong". People who are absolutely sure that what they "know" is absolutely right should pay more attention to history... (btw, I'm not saying Darwin was someone like this --- I never met the guy.)

I have long felt that while fanatics have their place in the world, I find it hard to listen to them very long, and am very unlikely to be convinced by them for the very reason that they are fanatics (goes to that credibility thing).

On a related topic, It's interesting to me how quickly I want to quit thinking about things dealing with infinity --- What was before the beginning of time? What's outside of the universe? --- Too small a mind I guess...

Scott, you must feel like an adult film producer.

Because look at all of this mental masturbation you have incited!

What I find the most funny (and asinine) is that you are a comic strip writer with a blog. You are not a scientist, heck, you don't even pretend to know what you're talking about. And yet, people take you so seriously.

I blame it on the throngs of engineers that read Dilbert.

Hrun: "It's possible that Scott Adams is a moron."

Scott Adams: "Hey, I'm not a moron!"

Hrun: "Hahahaha. See what a moron Scott Adams is? First he misrepresents me since I never claimed that he actually is a moron. And second, he denies the possibility that he might actually be a moron."

It's that simple. :)

As side note, Scott: Your silly example about a teacher telling you that lifting weights will make your baby muscular kinda backfires on you. It seems that you were smart or interested enough to figure out that this claim is false. I am sure then, if you were to expend the minimum amount of work required you could figure out who is credible where evolution or intelligent design is concerned. For example, how about the hundreds of thousands professional biologistst who did not fall into your little trap. I'm sure their credibility is still intact, right? Go check them out. You'll find their books in libraries, their papers published in all the well known journals and their courses accessible at your local college.

Hrun: "It's possible that Scott Adams is a moron."

Scott Adams: "Hey, I'm not a moron!"

Hrun: "Hahahaha. See what a moron Scott Adams is? First he misrepresents me since I never claimed that he actually is a moron. And second, he denies the possibility that he might actually be a moron."

It's that simple. :)

As side note, Scott: Your silly example about a teacher telling you that lifting weights will make your baby muscular kinda backfires on you. It seems that you were smart or interested enough to figure out that this claim by that particular teacher is actually false. I am sure then, if you were to expend the minimum amount of work required you could figure out who is credible where evolution or intelligent design is concerned. For example, how about the hundreds of thousands professional biologistst who did not fall into your little trap. I'm sure their credibility is still intact, right? Go check them out. You'll find their books in libraries, their papers published in all the well known journals and their courses accessible at your local college.

Hi Scott, Thank you for the interesting article and the link to Pharyngula! I'm having alot of fun over there with the naysayers :)

There will always be this type of passion between those of a scientific and religious persuasion. There are actually several books "out there" that are written by religious scientists.

I found your blog entry to be entertaining and insightful. From the moment I started reading it, your point was well made with this:

"(Note: I’m not a believer in Intelligent Design, Creationism, Darwinism, free will, non-monetary compensation, or anything else I can’t eat if I try hard enough.)"

Of course, you pointed that out about reading comprehension as well.

My interpretation of your entry was that of the typical "Critical Thinking" college course that forces you to analyze both sides of an argument...then form your own opinion (hopefully) without the influence of fallacies in arguments for either side. You used the arguments of both ID and Darwin to prove that there are fallacies in both arguments making neither believable.

And this "PZ" guy...well...here's my analogy of the debacle:

Q: "Is chocolate or vanilla the best ice cream flavor?"
Scott: "Actually, I like strawber-"
PZ: "WRONG! It's chocolate; you vanilla-eating #$@$"

For the most part, I love Dilbert, I love your blog, and find a lot of great humor therein.

However, on this one, I'm going to have to go with PZ. I don't think he misrepresented you so much as pointed out some glaring fallacies in your argument. I don't see where he lacks credibility, or for that matter, where any of the scientists that I've talked to about evolution/ID lack credibility. Most of them seem to understand the argument, they just don't understand why there IS an argument (we don't discuss both sides of the theory of gravity, for instance).

No, I'm not a scientist, I'm a musician.

Anyway, sorry to say I think you struck out on this one, but with all the home runs you've hit, you're still great!

Jess

Simon Gamble hit it on the head (3 times to be precise) at the beginning of the comments. The problem is arrogance. The "Passionate" people on both sides are too arrogant to admit to the POSSIBILITY of the other sides argument. I am a Christian and I believe in God, but I'm not so arrogant as to think that I MUST be right. I just think that what I believe is important to me and it is what I CHOOSE to believe. Both sides end up in the infinite loop of where it started. If God created it, where did God come from. If it was primordial ooze, where did the primordial ooze come from, and so on.

The arrogance evident in almost ALL of the comments on PZ's blog and some of the comments on this blog serve to prove my point.

Even I am currently suffering from this arrogance, thinking MY position is best because I am "Enlightened" enough to see both sides.

I totally agree with your post.

I hope you do not let people who disagree with you or insult you discourage you from continuing.

I read your book "Way of the Weasel" and i really enjoyed it, too. You're an awsome guy. Keep it up!

Opinions are like assholes and the ignorant have lots of opinions.

I don't see the logic, Scott. You write a misleading piece of rhetoric, then crow about how it misled someone, and from this conclude that /they're/ unreliable?

Read any biography of a scientist and you'll see what a strange bunch they are -- as cracked as the rest of us. The fact that scientists are fallible doesn't make everything they say rubbish. By all means, if you see a scientist making an idiot of himself on one point, then correct or even mock him. But to declare the whole bunch as unreliable because one rose to your wormy bait... that's a bit sad, man.

To answer the question implied by your blog entries -- which I take to be, "How do you tell who's telling the truth?" -- you use the reason that God or evolution gave you. Check to see who tells the truth most often, check to see who uses reason to get their answers, check to see who checks themselves, see who brings you actual working ideas that can spawn other useful ideas. And, you know, it's a good idea to actually learn something about the subject -- in this case, not just evolution but the whole evolution vs creationism debate -- before throwing your chum in the water.

This is probably the first time I have seen anyone evaluate the situation so well. No one seems to have the ability to step back from the issue far enough to actually see both sides.

I believe what is happening is that people feel their very purpose and place in life is being threatened by an opposing view. Thus, they feel they must attack that opposing view or they risk losing their identity. I know there are also Christians who are acting out of love, trying to win people for Christ and thus save their souls, but what other reason could there be for “rational” scientist being so zealous when it comes to defending what they believe.

When it comes down to it, God could have created the universe including all of the evidence for evolution 10,000 years ago, and science would have absolutely no way of proving or disproving that. As a logical scientist, one has to admit that an omnipotent and omniscient God would be capable of such an act. To presume you “know” better is a fallacy.

At the end of the day, your belief in evolution does not refute God. He will still love you and so should His people. If you hold firm to evolution, but accept that He sent his son to die so that you might have everlasting life with Him, you will spend eternity in Heaven. Please don’t use evolution as a reason to refuse this gift God has ready for you.

You just illustrated why I hate election years so much, and in a far better manner than I ever could.

Now, I do think you've unfairly misrepresented the babysitter in this case . . .

To only prove a point, I hope, Scott,that you catch a cold this winter.

I think it's possible that everyone's taking this just a little too seriously. I mean, Scott, you're a humorist, after all ... everyone else (especially evolutionists)sound like they're all trying to reassure each other's wounded egos that "it's ok fellas, he's really wrong, the moron, it's ok, don't feel bad" ... perhaps we would think better of people like PZ if he just ignored you - it shows confidence.

And yet I was amused to read his post and discover his first proof against you: "I've never heard anyone in my camp of thought say this before." As it turns out, if he or anyone he likes didn't say it, it must be wrong, especially if it's something he's never heard before.

And I don't think you're a Wally. You're more of a Dogbert, without most of the fur.

How could Pee Z. possibly think you were advocating Intelligent Design. I carefully read your Blog and it clearly states that you're a Darwinist. Here's what I read -

"To me, … the Darwinists had a mountain of credible evidence and the Intelligent Design folks were creationist kooks disguising themselves as scientists. …. I’m … a believer in … Darwinism…
…Intelligent Design… is … misrepresenting the other’s position and then making a good argument for why the misrepresentation is wrong.
… Intelligent Design can’t be true because we know the earth is over 10,000 years old. Intelligent Design advocates … flaws in … textbooks … outright errors …, and the fact that all of the human…s ever found can fit inside a small box
My … position … has always been to trust the experts – the scientists – … which … are sure that Darwin got it right.
The Intelligent Design people have a …kooky argument against the idea of trusting … scientists. The Intelligent Design people allege that some experts ...are … weird
Is that possible? …I discovered that there was in fact only one "

Quotes don't lie ... ;)

Zzzzzzzzz....Wake me up when this is over or someone is actually convinced to quit using personal attacks, misrepresenation, and argue the facts.

Wow. I'm an engineer and this made me want to go outside and look at a tree, or something.

Evolution is a scientific theory, ID is a belief and will always be just that, a belief.

One only has to look around at the world to see that evolution is actually pretty evident. That shouldn't and doesn't leave a creator out of the picture.

This is one of those debates (argument actually) that will never be settled because quite frankly nobody here is that smart.

Dogbert rules by the way!

Scott and Company - Not sure why you are having so much trouble finding accessible evidence supporting evolution as a central force in biology. It does not necessarily have to be excavated or discovered by archeaologists. For example, bacteria and viruses are mutating all the time in response to the changes in their environment introduced by our attempts to kill them with anti-biotics. Also, a great account of selection and evolution in the present is a book about the finches (Darwin's Finches) on the Galapagos Islands entitled "The Beak of the Finch" by Jonathon Weiner (which won the Pulitzer Prize in about 1995).

As to why are people so frightened, paranoid, irrational, aggressive on this issue - these are difficult times and people often feel discounted, ignored, disrespected, flamed and mocked. This only drives people who don't know how to deal with their reactions constructively into extreme views and a defensive posture. Which the internet seems to thrive on, it seems. Check out "The battle for God" by Karen Armstrong on the history of fundamentalism as a response to the aggression of medernity.

Don't both "camps" start from the same sense of wonder, awe, humility and curiosity that the natural world can inspire? Some of us immediately jump to a position of "this must have been created by someone" and others jump to "there must be a simple scientific explanation for all this." The potential meeting ground would involve staying with the wonder and not jumping.

It just amazes me that people think there has to be a reason that we are here. When children invent an imaginary friend to overcome something that has happened in their life or just because they are bored, parents hope they will "grow out of it". They may even send them to counseling.

And the moral is - when it comes to such an all out clash, with guns from both sides pointing at you, it helps to pick a team real fast.

There are plenty of informed sources (i.e. scientific experts) to inform you of evolution, who do not even mention ID. Try a bookstore, the local library, or www.pubmed.org. To say you can't find any credible scientific people is asinine.

[You trust people who have a financial/career stake in taking a particular side? I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm saying that no matter what the question, you have to be skeptical of anyone who is getting paid for an opinion, either directly or indirectly. By analogy, virtually every highly qualified financial advisor will tell you they are better then random at picking stocks, but all studies show the opposite. -- Scott]

Scott,

The professional skeptics (=those who are always defending the mainstream theory) are infamous for aiming to ridicule anyone who has an alternative view even if it is meant to question (which btw _should_ be the essence of skepticism). But the fact is that the professional skeptics are also hardcore Darwinist evolutionists and that's the reason for the outcry - normal people would not have bothered. The professional skeptics' problem is not that they are worried about your scientific competence, no no, they feel _threatened_(!) by the fact that someone (anyone) displays independent thinking because it implies that there is no reliable mainstream, that world is complex, that there is no authority... Because they feel threatened their reaction is always so over the top.
You just have to be compassionate towards them. It's the only way. (Yes, I know saying that annoys them... ;-) )

I rather enjoyed this observation: "When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me. Both sides in the evolution debate do that with gusto. Why would I believe people who prove to me they are either dishonest or biased or worse?"

Your views sum up my own opinion of politics, politicians, and the media reporting about politics. Weasels!

I'm waiting for all the visits to the PZ blog from the Dilbert blog link to clog up the PZ blog server enough for someone to cry foul about a DoS attack on Darwinism. The authorities are on their way over to serve Scott a subpoena for a hate crime.

I wish you hadn't provided a link to that blog. I made the mistake of actually going to it and reading it, and the comments. It is the epitome of the pure idiocy of some of this debate. People hearing whatever it is that they need to hear in order to do what they think is "proving" their argument. The two are not mutually exclusive. If I like apples and you like oranges, that does not put us on opposite sides of the fence. How about liking both? That reminds me that I haven't had fruit salad in a while.

"Even more intriguing (and disturbing) than PZ's method of attack is the number of people cheering him on in the comment section of the blog." Pot. Kettle. Black. Priceless!

Count me in for the alien seedling theory. It's the only one that sounds promising. (Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here.)

You are amazing! You are perhaps one of the first people that will discuss this point as a debate not an argument. You have helped me see that even I will attack the other's credibility, rather than bring facts on my own. Thank you, although I am VERY surprised that you made no reference to the 2004 election.

Hey Scott -

Great comic BTW (but you knew that). I'm an ID junkie myself, so naturally I'm as biased as they come, but thought you might like to see my own contribution to the misrepresent and attack strategy. I present to you "panda-monium" - my friendly jab at PZ and all his friends at www.pandasthumb.org.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinalia/panda-monium.swf

It's a fun flash game poking fun at the standard bad anti-ID arguments. Of course there ARE some good anti-ID arguments, but it frustrates me that the bad ones are repeated ad-nausium far more than the good ones are brought up.

I don't think anyone will be reading his blog soon. It seems you've slashdotted his page!

All-around great work, Scott.

Hey Scott you should do a comic series on this. Half the office is Intelligent Design, half the office is Evolution. Dogbert would sell the weapons, Catbert would sell the tickets, and of course the PHB would just sit in the middle of the two sides going "What the Heck?"

I've sortof gathered Scott's position, and I think it's this: imagine you've been floating in space your whole life, and have never passed by a planet or a star close enough to physically feel and conciously notice its gravity.

Now, you hear scientists every day, in your space ship or whatever, who espouse the theory of gravity and how irrefutable it is (well, okay, so they're actually less sure about gravity than evolution, but still, big things attract smaller things, is the gist).

Scott's position is, "I've never seen it myself," and "I can't see a scientist's thought processes or motivations, so overall, despite the reported evidence, I can't completely trust them."

In other words, Scott has come at the "but *I* can't see it happening!" corner of the evolution debate from a comic-writer's perspective, rather than a religious perspective.

Scott - yeah, there's a lot of trust involved in science. Peer review is all about trying to filter out the untrustworthy stuff. Frankly, as I was getting at in my earlier reply, from that position you're never going to be convinced by - well, *any* theory.

Agnosticism is good and all, but being *that* objective, you might as well sit on your ass all day doing nothing, believing nothing, and wanking over your objective brilliance.

"Are there really poor people in Africa? I've never been. All the photos could be fabricated. The Red Cross is the biggest scam ever. Even if I went, it could all just be a set up, constructed for the visitors."

We live in the world we live in. All we have to interpret it are our senses. Either you trust them, and do things - such as believe evolutionary theory - or you don't, and you sit and tell everyone they're wrong.

One of my College Professors once observed that a good Thesis is interdisciplinary and will upset somebody. I think he plaigerized that bit of wisdom, and he was an egocentric and opinionated !@#$er, but I think he had a point there. He certainly always got upset when i disagreed with him. Some one at the PZ blog is "not surprised Adam's is an Creationist." I'm not sure he read your blog, I certainly only skimmed theirs. I'm doing this while at work by the way so if i'm babbleing disjonitedly please excuse me. It appears to me, and this is just my opinion though, i think it is also scott's point, that those knowledgable authorities aren't doing a very good job of being convincing about there respective points of view, they certainly haven't convinced me to care. But I have to Admit it is kind of amuzing, and the debates sponsored by various college departments and/or Student groups and better than 'Geraldo'.

why o why o why o why (did i mention "o why?") do people take themselves so seriously? Or pretend to cos like the one poster said this argument is not intrinsically relevant to day to day living.

Maybe you should do a cartoon on the explanation of the term 'Tongue in cheek' cos some of the people here are struggling - or just maybe basic reading skills.

Good one mister S
Actually if you could do a cartoon AGAINST RAISINS i would really dig that just cos I hate raisins and if any of my friends saw it i could say 'yup he did that one for me!' - i'm not sure if you take requests - but keep it up

God bless you
love brett

"[Note: I'm not a creationist -- Scott]"

Yet you don't deny Satan worship. That's VERY interesting...

I'll still stick to my guns though and read Dilbert. As long as I don't start seeing goat sacrifices and guns firing bullets(God forbid!).

Why not go read Darwin's book. He isn't trying to refute anything, he's trying to lay out a new theory. Maybe the problem is we waste all our time trying to disprove the other theory instead of just presenting our own. If our theory is sound, it will stand on it's own two feet, if their theory is sound, it will stand on it's own two feet. Then Occams razor can guide us toward the real solution. Or, it won't matter because we have become enlightened and floated off the planet for Oz.

When it comes to the evidence for evolution there's plenty of material out there. Don't wait around for an evolution messiah - pick up a few textbooks books. Who needs credible communicators when thete's hard data available?

I'm on the side of ID. Some may ask, "What if you're wrong?" One day I'll either be reclining in heaven laughing evilly at those morons who believed in evolution or I'll be the the member of a zombie/cyborg army with the only thought of eating brains. Personally, I like the first alternative because I'm more a meat and potatoes man. I hope God allows evil laughter in heaven.

Oh, so clever! I hadn't realized that reading the Dilbert Blog was a devotional exercise, like studying tea leaves. It doesn't matter that PZ chose the most likely meaning of your words; it only matters that it was POSSIBLE (there’s that word!) to interpret them in such a way that your argument is not (strictly speaking) OBVIOUSLY wrong. In order to determine whether or not your meaning was clear, we apparently must dedicate ourselves to examining your entire oeuvre. In retrospect, because your previous post was sufficiently implicitly qualified that it was actually content-free, it seems that the only way for a credible scientist to demonstrate "credibility" would be to ignore it entirely. You've set up the same Catch-22 at the end of this post.

Quite frankly, anyone who isn't intellectually lazy has plenty of access to convincing explanations of both the theory and data of evolution: introductory textbooks. The evidence that the scientists working in various fields are, in fact, credible is all around you: your computer, satellites, and antibiotics. Fortunately for folks like you, the theories of quantum mechanics, gravity, and evolution work whether or not you believe them (or understand them).

PZ was right: you’re Wally. I’ve fired better employees than you.

Along the same sort of line, I'd like to know why evolution and God are mutually exculsive.
...
Yes, I am a scientist but my belief in God and creation does not prevent me from trying to understand what has been placed around me. Perhaps we did evolve from the slime and that that may have been God's will doesn't prevent me from trying to understand the processes that led to our current day existance. However, that's not the reason I believe in God. I believe in God because I don't want to die, out of fear. It is my last refuge, perhaps because I have a weak mind. I know many that would say I've no other reasons but thats ok with me. As a scientist I can neither prove nor disprove the existance of God and i believe that.
...
That is what really blows my mind about this topic. That so many feel that God's existance needs to be provable. I mean, if your an atheist, than I understand, you want proof and that's great. I got ya. However, if you believe in God than doesn't that mean that you don't need proof?
...
I mean, is not God more than some "IC" glitch. You actually believe you can understand God? Isn't that a tad arrogant?
...
Anyhow in closing, let me reiterate my only point (a question), why does faith deny evolution? (I get why science demands proof (and thank God for that)).

Can we talk about Rowe-vs-Wade now?

lg

:) Couldn't see this coming! Don't take PZ personally - he's like that with everybody who doesn't agree with him. Richard Dawkins said something like, 'I really don't think I'm arrogant, but I do get impatient with people who don't share with me the same humility in front of the facts.' Hmm.

You may find this list of arguments against ID and creationism helpful, if you haven't come across it already.
http://exilefromgroggs.blogspot.com/2005/06/arguments-against-creationism-and-id.html

You got this one right, Scott. People seem to get so emotionally attached to their sides they can't address it with an open mind. Funny that the "doubt everything" generation can't stomach doubts about their origins.

And the funniest thing is that they have no idea what happened. It's not like they were there and the people on the other side are questioning their truthfulness. Except for the creationists, no one claims to have had any observers at the beginning, and even there, there are mediation issues (lawyers would call it hearsay). Attempts to extrapolate backwards over great lengths of time to extreme, non-replicable (at present) conditions can't reasonably be expected to result in much better than wild guesses. If we can't even figure out the details of JFK's death, why do we think we know what happened at the beginning of the present universe?

Weak, Scott. Very weak. It's ironic that you've made credibility your issue here.

My favorite comment to PZ was this one:

"I'm not surprised Adam's is an Creationist, it's a shame because Dilbert is a funny comic. [sic]"

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/#c48573
(in case the link starts working again you can see it yourself)

First of all, even if you WERE a creationist, why would that keep someone from having the same opinion of you as a cartoonist? Hell, you could worship Satan, which I'm sure you already do considering your success, and I would still enjoy Dilbert.

And of course the most obvious mistake in that comment was that you never said you were a creationist. You never even said it was likely.

[Note: I'm not a creationist -- Scott]

I am very much enjoying the (hrm...) debate you have unleashed here.
Don't you ever wonder why everybody gets so angry about something that does not influence their daily life in any way?

Scott,
Although I would classify myself as a Creationist, [ok blast away], I absolutely love Dilbert and will read it until you go the way of Gary Larson. I have friends on both sides, and the middle, of these debates, but I like your perspective on it the most, plus your ability to influence peoples responses; kind of like a college lab class(I guess that makes us the rats).

I read Dilbert, and this blog for its creativity genius. Dilbert never ceases to bring a smile to my face, especially at work. Your views on life and the work place, are sooooo much like my own, and millions others, I still think you work at my company, being a cartoonist is just a side job.

Keep it up Mr. Adams!
TJ

there are many detailed refutations (including books) of intelligent design. just read one. or maybe e-mail John Maynard Smith.

whoa, that was long and confusing, not read while looking around to see if the boss looks at your screen, and not worth enough to read at my home while paying for the pleasure. Go back to something easier so i can enjoy the many pleasures of being a low grade thief.

It's not that I hate the followers of ID or evolution, I myself happen to be an evolutionist, but people see things through their own feelings. Noone can take your post for what it was, which was a comment on how ignorant the discussion gets at times. Instead, they see it as an attack on themselves. The level of idiocy is nearly unbearable.

Scratch that... It's back up.

--------------
I said it’s POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd mentality. PZ interprets that as if I’m saying scientists DO. Then he attacks the misrepresentation. (How much credibility can you have if you argue it’s not POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd instinct on this issue?)
--------------

Oh my god. This is like one of those proofs that Godel presented, where the statement disproves itself.

You argue the following proposition, call it P1:
"it is POSSIBLE that scientists CURRENTLY HAVE herd mentality"

(At this point you might choose to try to claim that that's not what you meant. The most obvious loophole that I can see is the claim that you didn't mean "CURRENTLY HAVE", you meant "in principle, at some time, not necessarily now, COULD HAVE herd mentality, about some subject". But that wouldn't make sense, because you were talking about the factual existince of a thing (herd mentality about evolution), which you don't have access to enough information to confirm or deny, but you think might be possible.) (I'm pre-answering this loophole to save time, and to demostrate that these kinds of weasel words are completely transparent to those of us who have been arguing on this subject for a long time with people who cannot, or will not, argue in good faith. Also, perhaps, to show that once an idea is formalized, sometimes it's not precisely what you thought it was.)

So let's make the 'misrepresentation' of your position P2:
"scientists DO HAVE herd mentality about evolution"

Now let's reduce our premises, because we're after their structure, not their content:
P1: { X POSSIBLY CURRENTLY HAS QUALITY Q }
P2: { X HAS QUALITY Q }

Now, you'll notice that if P2 is FALSE (that is if { X DOES NOT HAVE QUALITY Q }) then it is impossible for P1 to be TRUE. That is to say, P1 can only be true IF we don't know P2 OR we know P2 to be TRUE.

So, it's perfectly reasonable to produce evidence against P2 as a refutation of P1. And that's just the technical explaination of why you're wrong. The english explaination of why you're being unreasonable is this:

Cartoonist: There might be a herd mentality here, I've seen it happen before, and I'm not privy to enough evidence to say either way.
Scientist: *some evidence against its existence*
Cartoonist: You're misrepresenting me, I didn't say it DID exist, just that it MIGHT.

I mean, what did you expect to happen, that he would simply acknowledge that, in a state of imperfect proof one way or another, absolute positivism about the inability for a thing to exist would be incorrect? I mean, that kind of goes without saying, doesn't it? And anyway, he's a scientist, not a fucking philosopher of science. You laymen mix them up way too much. You cannot argue the factual existence of something by pure logic, and science NEVER attempts that.

Now, I don't know what your motives for posting this are, I don't wish to believe that you're being malicious, or that you (the creater of Dilbert) are trying to alienate as many smart people as you can, so I'm assuming that your goal is self edification.

If that is the case, you may want to know that what you have stumbled on to here is not some huge hidden hole in science and the credibility of the science community. Eventually, everyone who's into science 'discovers' this 'hole', and everybody freaks out about it at first. But no, what you have discovered here is a huge hole in your own understanding of how we know things and what it MEANS to know things. You're judging the 'Truth' of things based on common sense, and probably some basic logic, which is a set of criteria that can never, in principle, be satisfied. Even for things you will not be willing to disbelieve, like that last Thursday actually happened.

Congratulations, most of the general population never get this far. Now, you need to see an epistemologist, stat! Before you end up writing books like "Nausea".

It is interesting to watch people try and convince others of what they believe, right, wrong, or unprovable. I find your comments quite well thought out. This usually comes from someone who steps back and takes a look at the big picture and its meaning to everyday people. (It does not affect us either way.) We still get up, have breakfast go to work or school, come home, etc. Even a major find will not upset that routine. Just gives us normal people something to talk about over coffee....

The link seems to be deactivated? Perhaps he's formulating another brilliant response to all your agitating suppositions. Ok, maybe the sarcasm wasn't appearant in that last sentence.
----
P.S: Can I get a spellchecker on this thing?

Isn't it a shame how predictable people are.
As soon as I had read the first line of your first article I knew what you intended, but both the comments and PKs response sadly shows that a lot of people whilst being possibly clever are not intelligent.
Of course PKs site shows that you were totally wrong because every single comment on his Blog supportted his opinion; and I'm sure he doesn't think his argument so poor that he has to edit the comments :-/

My theory is that the universe was created from an airfix kit by a bored teenager, who lost a few of the pieces and never got round to painting it properly; oh yes and then his sister sat on it. I can fit most of the worlds problems into this model...

How credible most people are is beside the point, you're not going to listen to them all anyway. What you need to do is, if you are actually interested in the question and want to pick sides, find the few people on both sides (and in the middle for that matter) who do make sense. I started out here: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=0003EFE0-D68A-1212-8F3983414B7F0000&colID=13

Oh God!

It's look like I'm the only one (with Scott Adams I guess) who think that this blog was not a serious one.

That's why I refuse to share my thought with 1,000,000 readers. They ALWAYS misrepresenting EVERYTHING.

IMHO: I believe what I believe - you (not YOU specifically, but "you" as in other people) believe what you believe. (continued below)

(I feel I must define my use of the word believe so here's the one that best fits what I'm trying to communicate in this, my most humble opinion: "To have confidence in the truth or value of something: We believe in free speech." - Dictionary.com)

Please don't tell me I'm wrong and I promise I won't tell you (again, not YOU, but "you") that you are wrong.

p.s. Mr. Adams... you RULE!

Um, Scott, my guess would be that you haven't found any credible people (by your definition of credible) because the only place you seem to have looked is in the raging flamewar. The folks embroiled in the midst of that clusterfsck are implicitly non-credible (by the definition you've been using of credible) simply by their desire to wade INTO that mess, in sort of the way anybody who thinks being the President "would be fun" really shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a government job any more exalted than, say, dogcatcher.

If you're really interested in the topic (as opposed to just enjoying stirring the sh!t), I might suggest taking a freshman-level paleontology course at a university, or maybe picking up a fairly recent book that DOESN'T purport to be "THE ARGUMENT AGAINST THOSE DAMN EVOLUTIONISTS/CREATIONISTS", but just endeavors to explain the topic. (To be honest I think it'll be kinda hard to find such a book on the creationist side of the "debate", but, um... yeah.)

It's actually a pretty fascinating topic, I think, and the current theories are considerably more complex than Darwin's original ideas of species just sort of gradually drifting. When you get amongst the folks who are actually researching it, you find out that these days, EVERYBODY thinks Darwin was wrong - the difference is whether or not they think he was on the right track.

Well done. And way funnier than most....

Give me a break. Geez, you're digging yourself in deeper and deeper. You should quit before you make yourself look even more foolish.

Scientists who argue for evolution over intelligent design aren't credible because they "misrepresent" the position of the ID advocates? That's a load of crap. PZ nailed you to the wall because what you wrote was so full of creationist canards tarted up as "a pox on both your houses" fallacies regarding scientific evolution versus ID creationism. You are unable to list a single valid, specific example of how PZ (or other scientists) "misrepresent" the ID position. (We, on the other hand, can list literally dozens of ways that ID advocates misrepresent evolutionary theory.) You just say that they do and declare representatives of both sides "not credible."

Please. Tell us exactly: How does PZ "misrepresent" the position of ID advocates. Be specific and give specific examples.

I predict that you can't.

Also, your example of the "herd" mentality was quite specious. You presented a story of a fallacious idea that got started and continued to propagate based on no evidence and word of mouth until it became dogma. The theory of evolution is based on enormous quantities of mutually supporting interlocking strands of evidence from diverse scientific fields.

I think it all comes from a basic misunderstanding of science, namely that science is about truth. I would argue that this is not the case. TRUTH ist the domain of theology and belief. The domain of science is the MODEL. The difference is that in truth you either belief or you don't but you can't prove either because of the logical circle involved (i.e. you need some truth in order to establish the truth of something else).
But with models it is completely irrelevant whether they are true or not. The question ist, under what circumstances can I use it? As with classical mechanics where the theoremes don't work near light speed but you can use them nonetheless in most cases. It just doesn't matter that Newton erred.
So with TRUTH you cannot PROVE it and with a MODEL you cannot DISPROVE it because you could still use it where appropriate.
Now back to evolution and intelligent design: If you use evolution as a model (eg. to classify animals in a family tree) the question whether it actually happened that way is totally irrelevant. The only question is does that model work. The same holds for creationism. If you use it eg. to classify all of creation according to the day it was created the question of truth does not arise it's only whether or not the model works. As for ID occhams razor applies: If you need an intelligent designer in order for your model to work than it's fine to include him and if you don't there's no point in doing so. And you can happily leave that choice to everyone themselves.

STUPID DESIGN!!!!

That's right. I just caught wind of a Third Alternative!!!

It's not evolution, exactly... It's not ID, exactly...
I call it Stupid Design. Basicly, what must have happened, was this "Thinking-he's all powerful" being decided... All my friends have universes... I want one too... So sure enough he made one. There's just one small problem; The guy that made OUR universe really SUCKS at making universes. That's why things are so hard to figure out. When we "die" and "go to heaven" it's because were like a third world country to the other universes and the beings inside them are like missionaries and they are trying to save us.

So anyway this RSB (really stupid being) that created ours made some mistakes along the way. He didn't account that UV rays mutate things. So, he decided to cover his tracks by screwing things up. If we figured it out, we might find a way to reverse the process and become cool like the beings in the other universes. Of course, we almost DO have it figured out, and it'll all be finished when Iran finally gets nukes and sells them on the black market for $10 a piece.

I like the idea of Stupid Design. Maybe that's why the stars only last like 5 billion years or so. This quack doesn't know how to make them last longer. I mean just look at our solar system... 11% success is pretty low for a supernatural being... Only one planet has life? I'm holding out that the other planets DO have life, thats where all the missionaries live. Ghosts? Angels? - all missionaries trying to save us from this RSB's stupid universe.

Anyone with me on Stupid Design?

In the beginning (pre-big event) the "Designers" (note the omission of Intelligent) wanted to create a universe. They had a big meeting where several teams brought their ideas to the table.

The two top choices, were one where a massive team would design and specify every little detail to make the universe perfect. The second, was one where they would gather up all the half-baked ideas of all the other teams, put them in a massive container and then blow it up. The idea was that the nothingness would then be filled with bits and pieces of every possible idea. They figured they'd then let it sort itself out.

Plan B took much less effort, so they chose that.

I'm certain that's what happened. You can trust me.

Bravo. I'd like to put into words the unstated challenge of this piece.

Can someone from either side (with the education, honesty, and clearness of presentation) provide an essay (with no more words than this one, and written at a 10th grade reading level) that would briefly explain their position and the evidence supporting it. IDers leave out any religious references (they don't help prove the science) and Darwinists leave out the multisyllabic geek-speek and italicized latin names (they don't help communicate the science).

Any takers?????

You can rest your case anytime. Anyone who can read and is not clouded by emotion already got your (very insightful) point.
In skimming the "comments", it looks like some people are going to boycott your writings/comics/books because they don't agree with their perception of what you wrote. I, for one, am going to go out and buy an extra copy of one of your books in order to offset at least one boycott.
Gifts are usually welcome by all for any occasion and books are REALLY easy to wrap. Remember, the holiday season is coming up (if you believe in that sort of thing). Birthdays are also excellent gifting opportunities (anyone know the birthday of the first amoeba?).
Gifts to cheer are also very thoughtful…Anybody know PZ’s address?

So, clearly, Scott Adams isn't not in favor of gun control, as illustrated by his reference to the apparent use of guns to force a decision (or not). (Do a blog on gun control Scott... do one on gun control! :) )

I'm a scientist and I would tend to believe in Darwinism in terms of evolution of species, but I wonder why the Universe was created vs. the living things on this planet. Of course, I've made this decision based on what I've read, heard, seen etc. Seems to me that the focus of ID on Earthly evolution is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The creation of the Universe should really be their focus (hey, it's much bigger and therefore they could lump everything that came after into that bucket - take that Darwinists). And it would make all other arguments moot... and, I don't think it's possible for science to be certain of what happened either. There, we can all play nice now. No one is right, or wrong... it's impossible to be certain either way.

Hey Scott, I think you overloaded that inDUHvidual "scientist's" web site -- it won't load as of 8 a.m. CST.

Wah? no comments yet? That was some debate in part 1)

Being a somewhat devoted Christian myself, I still believe that evolutionists should continue on their course curriculum in school and leave the ID theory out of the classroom.

Why? Well, simply there's not enough scientific evidence to even *have* a science curriculumm for ID yet. New scientific ideas don't normally go into the elementary classrooms the minute someone thought them up. Darwin's Theory of evolution took a looong time before hitting the classrooms. So what's the rush for rushing the Intelligent Design theory? (oh yea politics...) Let the more credible people mulch over the idea first.

How could I be a Christian (who believes in an "Intelligent Designer") and yet support the teaching of ToE? Because the weight of the ToE evidence begs a scientific discussion and therefore should be discussed and explored scientificly. Furthermore, ID is really a personal belief and actually does not interefare with the Theory of Evolution.

Trying to come into terms for ToE and ID is like one group arguing that Orange is better and the other group arguing that Apple is better. You can rely on ToE and believe that God creates humanity via evolution (or even in 6 days?). And at the same time, you concurr with ToE and yet denies that there's a creator for our universe. And that your existence comes solely from evolution itself. (Counterpoint to Atheists: So who/what allows evolution to exist?)

But of course, everyone knows that the answer to life, universe, and everything is .....

42

Wow, sounds like you are loosing your sense of humour :)

What it comes down to, I think, is that humans generally have no credibility about anything. We are fallible in every way conceivable; therefore, humans are not qualified to argue something like evolution vs. ID because, as the comments on this blog show, humans are incapable of acting like the RATIONAL beings necessary to discuss this topic adequately and without bias.

It is important to understand where life came from, how it started, and how it will end. It would be nice to see all of the people who think that it is important to spend time, effort, and resources on this argument (evo vs. ID) shift gears and actually spend that time, effort, and resources on helping humanity better itself. That of course, is another argument with the topic being why humans aren't capable of building a community geared towards helping its members.

On another note, thank you Mr. Adams for your insight and wit. At least you are doing something towards helping humans develop a sense of community. Godspeed. :-)

Hi Scott,
just read PZ's response - hilarious! This just goes to show that intelligence is actually not required to become a scientist (well not beyond basic survival IQ). The whole idea of complex thought and comprehension seems to be lost on some of them. He is to be applauded though for spending what must be a considerable amount of his time just to create a live example and proof for your comments.
Just for the record I'm firmly in the evolution camp and think ID doesn't make a whole lot of sense - but whatever your camp folks should try actually using their brain - it's not just there so it doesn't rain down your throat.

Well, I think that Richard Dawkins is pretty credible, on the evolutionary biology side of things.

On the other hand, I tend to agree with your assessment: evolutionists tend to make big fools of themselves (and this is coming from a die-hard neodarwinist).

[You would trust the guy who gets paid large sums of money to hold his particular viewpoint, and who would be scorned if he changed it? You are very trusting. I have zero evidence that he's wrong. But my standards for credibility are higher than yours. -- Scott]

Scott

I love your debunking thinking. Any bigotry - by which I mean holding to an opinion and ignoring contrary evidence - should be debunked on both sides. Isn't that why we like Dilbert? How come so many PHBs read this stuff anyway?!

Mark.

I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence.

That, Scott, is your problem.

I don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types.

Go buy a site pass to nature.com and you'll have direct access to the data. Happy? Or, take a course on the subject. It's not hard; 18 year-olds do it all the time.

If I'm interpreting you correctly, you're saying, "IDists don't convince me, but scientists get angry and so they're not credible either."

You're not going to find many scientists who aren't angry at IDists. To me this sounds like the argument of someone determined to remain unconvinced. Have fun with that.

[Teachers are credible? One of my teachers taught me that if I lifted weights, my baby would be born with large muscles. (true). -- Scott]

Well, you certainly stirred things up a bit. No matter how often it happens, I still am amazed how people usually misrepresent the other side of the argument. Glad you can have fun with it.

My basic position is this:

Can science ever be "right" (as in totally correct and complete)? No. There is always more to learn from it.

Are theories that help you explain and predict things useful? Yes. And evolution is used and tested a lot now with DNA analysis.

Is Intelligent Design what actually happened and continues to happen? Maybe. Do I care? No. It doesn't provide any usefulness to me. Does anyone else care? It seems so.

Is Solipsism (I am the only being that exists and everything else is part of my imagination) the correct answer? Maybe. Do i care if it is the right explanation? No. It doesn't provide much usefulness to my life.

Am I (or you) in a coma and dreaming all this, only to wake up to a world of silicon creatures where there is no organic life? Maybe. Is it helpful to live your life according to this precept? Up to you.

Have fun.

God I love this argument. It's a great example of nearly every major debate I've heard about in the last few centuries or so. You could just as easily substitute "pro-life" and "pro-abortion," and see the same argument played out here as nearly anywhere else. I imagine that two hundred years ago, you could say the same about those damn colonies that wanted independence, and that bull headed king who wanted them to pay taxes. It makes me proud of my humanity, seeing apparently intelligent people just talk at each other. I would love it if once, just once, people actually listened, instead of just waiting for their turn to speak. I suppose the way things are now I can at least laugh. Kudos to Scott, and PZ. You both give my life meaning. Now I am going to cry myself back to sleep.

NOTE: I appologize if this is a double post, my firefox decidced to be stupid to me. Scott if you see a double post please take it out. :) I hate it when theres flooding, espeically for longer replies like this one kind of is


Well, Scott, I've tried. I'm fighting for you over there... They just DON'T GET IT...

Forget the fact you OPENED the first part with a "Comic Fuel" Warning advisory. That right should have been a dead giveaway "Some of the following material may be grossly inaccurate, but all the better because someone way too obsessed with the idea is going to say im way too obsessed AND wrong"

UGH I am debating whether to continue my education. I have a bright potential, I go to a prestigious engineering school and do very well at it. But of that's what happens when I get further down the path of ph'd and stuff, I think I'll just stick to being a broke kid forever. I'd rather not turn into THAT.

On the bright side, thank's for giving them something to give you plenty of fuel for the comic flame.

Props to everyone over there supporting Scott, and trying to get these guys to lighten up

Well, Scott, I've tried. I'm fighting for you over there... They just DON'T GET IT...

Forget the fact you OPENED the first part with a "Comic Fuel" Warning advisory. That right should have been a dead giveaway "Some of the following material may be grossly inaccurate, but all the better because someone way too obsessed with the idea is going to say im way too obsessed AND wrong"

UGH I am debating whether to continue my education. I have a bright potential, I go to a prestigious engineering school and do very well at it. But of that's what happens when I get further down the path of ph'd and stuff, I think I'll just stick to being a broke kid forever. I'd rather not turn into THAT.

On the bright side, thank's for giving them something to give you plenty of fuel for the comic flame.

Props to everyone over there supporting Scott, and trying to get these guys to lighten up

Scott,
I would have to side with you. I come from a science background and have seen to many people "lost in the forest of self-belief" as my old tutor used to say.
Science has a tendancy to conveince you that you are right and everyone else is wrong.
I would personaly land on the Darwin side of the line as i cant see the logic in the other arguments but i also know that I dont know much more about the subject than what i was taught in school. So im not really qualified to make large comments on it.
With regard to people like PZ, who think they're always right because of who they are, I always found it best to let them think what they like. Its only themselves they are depriving from seeing the rest of the world.
M

I guess the people who read Scott Adams for the science are the same people who watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report for their news. Are these people are proving I in ID wrong... or did I just blow your mind?

I usually give up on people like PZ when they attack misrepresentations. I end up leaving them to their misconceptions. What's the real harm? I get too aggravated when I try to reason with bias.

Thanks for hanging in there Scott Adams!

My brain hurts when I read your blog. But it's a good hurt.

I've just realised how serious people in America take this debate, wow i'm not really sure what to think.

If a person put a gun to my head, i'd say intelligent design, cause 9 times out of 10 i reckon he's going to feel the same way!

Wow, I read his blog entry and gthe comments and they do support your arguments 100%. What a fine exa,ple of a group of people taking themselves WAY to seriously. As someone educated in the sciences and who loves science people like that scare me because their behavior gives credence to the anti-science folks who say that science has become religion and is accepted as dogma. When reading your first post, I also thought it had a slightly pro ID slant; but hey, its your blog and your opinions and you aare welcom to them. Its not like you were advocating the destruction of all science.

As someone who personally believes that God created the universe and physical laws and then basically hit the start button and is enjoying the show (maybe with a slight push her and there) I guess I would have to class myself as someone who believes in ID. However, I have no illusion that this belief is science and the issue of a "promary mover" shouldnt even be brought up in a biology class ass it is untestable and no falsifialbe. However, in a history course, or a philosophy course it would be more acceptable.

People who make personal attacks on people they dont agree with are just demonstarting how closed their minds are.

Can I ask why people care so much? In what way would your life be changed if one version of events was closer to the truth than the other?

So God exists and directed evolution or he doesn't and or didn't. Surely it is a personal opinion.

As to what is taught in school, they always told me it was wrong to walk on furniture, doesn't mean believe them and adhere to their teachings.

People have a right to believe what they want. To convince us either way, solid proof of your theory please.

Thats for your other posters. Scott, I enjoy your blog posts, keep it up! Yay for Dilbert.

Foreword: as a frequent, though not avid, Slashdot reader, I have made a point of honor *not* to read your original blog entry on Intelligent Design; therefore, I am only commenting "ID part 2" entry--and by the way, this is the first time I feel like commenting a blog entry up to the point that I actually do it, so take this as a form of praise. :)

Now for ID vs Darwinism.

What bugs me with any proponent of any idea, is when their energy and arguments are devoted to bringing down some other, opposing idea (whatever it is) rather than promoting theirs.

It doesn't matter whether the other idea was correctly represented, really. In so many areas, I am too ignorant to even notice when someone is misinforming me; how can I conclude that some party in a dispute is actually misrepresenting their opponent's ideas?

So I'll even go further than you, Scott--can I call you Scott? Just call me Albert :)--and say that when the main or most frequent argument in sustaining some idea is attacking opposing ideas, it is a bad sign already.

Albert.

Are we supposed to assume that you don't believe in what you're posting? Much of what you said has been parroted over and over again by proponents of Intelligent Design. You wrote about those issues as if they were truth, not saying anything about how they were incorrect. How else was PZ Myers supposed to take your statements?

[Well, if I say Bob thinks there is a monster under the bed, you should interpret it that Bob said it, not that I think it. -- Scott]

You're probably sick to the back teeth of this by now, but as you've clearly noticed this is an issue that gets a lot of people worked up.

Proponents of evolution get angry because rather than producing evidence and studies demonstrating to the scientific community that their theory is superior, advocates of Intelligent Design have mounted what seems to be a PR campaign to convince the general public. And it's working, a disturbingly large number of Americans believe a theory which has very little credibility in the scientific community. This compared to almost no-one in Europe.

Who would you consider to be a credible person? Pick a scientist, any scientist, particularly one who works in a relevant field. The number of scientists who believe evolution to be a far more credible theory than ID isn't just over 90%, it's over 99%, and there are a lot of scientists in the world, so there must be one whose opinions you find credible.

I'm glad that somebody has finally gotten on this subject and realized that both sides are misrepresenting the other. The thing that I can't understand is that everybody acts like Intelligent Design and evolution are mutually exclusive, when they're not. I actually believe in both--I believe that it's quite possible God invented evolution and developed people through it. There! God's still in control, designing everything, and evolution can still exist. The two theories don't speak to each other at all, and can peacefully coexist.

Jeez I can't believe that PZ guy, I've read his blog in amazement... and was even more amazed that not a single comment disagrees with him or his post. I think he filters them....

Hi Scott,

This is a topic where people need to get rid of their pre concieved ideas.

Religion isnt something that should sway any opinion in a scientific argument, from the comments ive read some people seem to view this as a fight against or for religious ideals.

Personally i dont give a shit... about anything really.

Great comic, keep up the good work and continue to mess with peoples heads.

Regards

Craig

Scott, you are just feeding the fire on this inferno. I love it. See how many inDUHviduals go for it.

As I wrote earlier, people get passionated and loose all resemblance of logic when in a debate...
When outside of a debate and looking in this is quite amusing, when inside a debate in the middle trying to work out a compromise it gets thoroughly depressing.
Reading this entry of yours was kinda like reading the second and third books (of three or four published) of Hans Peter Duerrs "The myth of the civilisation process"-series in which he answer´s all accusations against his first book, accusations that he often shows to be totally baseless and in some cases argues that he argued the opposite of what he argued... depressing, isn´t it?
BTW, I thoroughly recommend his books, they´re quite enlightning as to how morally depraved people where in the olden days...

Anyway... I think the issue here that a lot of people don't even bother with is that Darwin and ID shouldn't even be competing, because ID is a faith. It's just creationism. I've seen many threads that just go like this:

"Who created the creator?"
"You obviously don't understand Christianity."

Which works well enough as a creationist answer, but "intelligent design" is supposed to be some manner of scientific theory.

Here's how I see it:

Darwin - Theory. I don't know enough to prove it, and the idea is it's disprovable.
Creationism - Faith. Proving isn't the idea. If someone thinks they have to prove it, they're probably lacking faith.
Intelligent Design - Nothing.

It's a nothing! If it's not just Creationism, than it's a nothing. You can seperate Intelligent Design from Religious Faith without running into the issue that it's just a circular.

Proving it is completely irrelevant. It's not provable, and it doesn't answer the question.

If the designer doesn't need a designer, than obviously complex things CAN exist without a designer, thus eliminating the need for a designer. Like the alien seeding. If aliens put us here, where'd the aliens come from? If they can form without a designer, than obviously life doesn't need aliens to get it started.

If you say that the designer is God, and that God exists eternally and so on, than that fixes it, but it's faith again.

And that's just fine, except that faith doesn't belong in a science class any more than Rob Zombie belongs in church. Do you want Rob Zombie holding a concert at your church? That's how we feel.

I don't know that Darwinism is an airtight case, but it doesn't even matter. Even if it's a complete pile of scheisse, that doesn't mean "Intelligent Design" is an actual answer.

Darwinism is a theory. Creationism and Faith is an answer. Intelligent Design is a nothing.

Now, can Creationism be a scientific theory? No. It's a faith. It's inheritly opposed to everything science is, for the very reason that make it a faith.

Faith isn't testable in abstract like that, because even if it's "proven" wrong, the idea is that you still believe. That's what Faith is.

Alright, another post on intelligent design vs. darwinism. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get my popcorn while I watch the dirt fly on the comments here. *Munch Munch*

Gunlord

"You learn that everything you desire is within your grasp, which is why strickter gun laws are desparately needed." ~My Onion horoscope a while ago.

Scott,

what a lame excuse for getting so much flak from people who know about science! So, you would like to have credible PEOPLE explain things to you ? Well, there are things like books, scientific journals, congresses etc. You are a writer, you should be able to deal with this. We can all read Dilbert without having met you. Come on, admit it, you did not do real research before writing your blog and now you are trying to weasel a way out of it. It's not so bad, PHB does it every day....

Great entry and great set-up (Part I). This is the holy war of the 21 Century, each side with very fervent beliefs. This is close to something Andy Kaufman would do! Good job.

Can I misprepresent someones misrepresentation (I don't care who)? That way they can misrepresent my misrepresentation of their misrepresentation and we will finally get to the TRUTH.

"I might have to crush them first, but that could be fun too." I wonder how many historians will have heart attacks upon reading that. You horrible killer.
I had already seen PZ's site, and my only reaction was, "Wow, someone has WAY too much time on their hands. I do hope he responds to the new post, though.

I know even less than mr. Adams about Inteligent Design vs. Darwinism, and spent a few hours of slogging through multiple very scientific rants about how one side is RIGHT and the opisition is a bunch of IDIOTS who should be thrown out of the scientific comunity...

Well I decided I just don't have enough patients to find out more. I'll wait until someone who knows what is going on in both camps can say well: 'This is what side A is saying and here are the strengths and weaknesses of thiere opinion, and this is what side B is saying and here are the strengths and weaknesses of thiere opinion.'

I think that is a long way off. At this stage all I hear is: 'this is my sides opinion, it is obviously right, anybody who sais different is an idiot!'

I can get abuse like that far more conviniently from my local politician.

You're funny Scott! Some people live for arguing on the internet. Their minds spin at high velocity, and become ready to implode. All spazzy people with life insurance, pls keep me in mind. I will be setting up a paypal donation acct soon. I want to go to Las Vegas. That's where the survival of the fittest counts. Okay. I'm going back to my neutral chair now. Cheers!

As someone who clearly advocates the consumption of small children, I really do not believe you are in any position to criticise debating techniques.

And, anyway, surely attacking a misrepresented contrary position is a standard debating technique lovingly practiced by just about everyone in public life ?

I bet PZ is a blast to work with.

So, who you would define as a credible person to tell you about evolution/Intelligent design? The cannibal, while untrustworthy around children, might have a Doctorate in Palaeontology, and might have done extensive research in the field. It was just a shame his packed lunch couldn't be accounted for.

BTW, nice trap.

The credibility thing is really depressing. Or maybe it's from watching a family lose their son to leukemia. I can't tell. Anyway, reality has a way of being a smack in the face sometimes.

Personally I think you wrote about this topic to gain you blog some extra traffic. Very sneaky of you Mr Adams... clever... but still very sneaky.

Well done Scott. You have succeeded in proving your point beyond all possible doubt. I think you should choose your next target carefully.

Haha! Nice cage rattling, Adams! I love it!

Too bad it's just a metaphorical cage.

After reading PZ's neatly done little website about your post I came to two conclusions..

1. He apparently has no sense of real humor
2. He found your remarks to hit too close to home and got his panties all atwist over it.

I as well am utterly amazed at how even intelligent people strap on the blinders and plug their fingers into their ears over a " hot " topic.

Truly, it is a marvel.

Can you give me that babysitter's number?

umm... that PZ guy and all the ppl who commented need to take a serious dose of 'chill-pill'...
I mean I knew you were just joking around when u wrote that stuff as most of ur blogs r mainly to provoke laughter not serious thoughts (right?)
some people in this world is just unbelievable......

warning, Mr. Adams: don't mud-wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it.

For those without metaphor detectors, I am not calling PZ a pig.

(I feel compelled to call you Mr. Adams rather than 'Scott'... I don't know why.)

I must say, its all huff n puff. What you said here was from the facts that you know... but not 100%. Blogs are for personal opinions, the buy in from the masses is up to the individual.

In short, I wouldn't not visit you if I have the flu, you may know abt said virus and have some opinion but thats it. Ppl will not come to me and ask that I build a rocket, cuz I wouldn't know how but I know a lil abt said subject.

PZ is trying too hard to crusade on this issue. I tot you were blowing wind... PZ is trying to set the forest on fire. If you were joe average, PZ will not bother. So, chill out b4 someone's head explodes cuz of self pride. Cheers!

Wow, you're right about how hilarious it is. PZ and commenters all seem convinced that by pointing out some flaws in the way the evolutionist argument is fought, you're outright attacking evolution.

And related, that's what I hate most about the argument - science is supposed to be able to accept and absorb criticisms and modify its views to explain paradoxes. But these guys just reject criticism outright. How, um.. dogmatic...

Oh boy, do those guys on http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/scott_adams_is_a_wally/#comments get up tight or what!!!! What is the DNRC opinion on the fact that so many of those guys are obviously reading the blog and http://www.dilbert.com everyday?

I am having flashbacks to the lawyer/dolphin post a while ago, except that it is some confused mess of all of them with their heads ups each others butts. Before i read that web page i didnt realise that you can eveidently type a comment to a posting with your head up more than butt at a time!!!

It is fascinating that they have taken all of this so much to heart, and so totally missed the point. I wonder if any of them are in really important decision making roles. Sure hope not.

I don't get this guy. It is one thing to misrepresent and attack your opponent in a debate - at least that benefits you in a twisted sort of way - but why on Earth would you so visciously attack the argument of someone who is NOT your opponent? Why pretend you have more enemies than you actually do?

What's more, lets imagine your argument actually was pro ID (of course it wasnt, but just suppose) why double its audience by attacking it on your own blog?(ok, much less than double seeing as I am sure your blog gets much more traffic than his despite just being a few weeks old)

Oh, and forget alien seeding. What if human beings from the future seeded life on Earth in a viscious causality loop that would make Einstein turn in his grave.

"Now here's the fun part. When PZ hears of this blog entry, will he accuse me of misrepresenting his views and attacking the misrepresentation? I hope so, because then I can pretty much rest my case."

Sooo, I guess this is all to show us the problem isn't anything to do with evidence or arguments at all, but simply that anyone who doesn't like the way things are going can just declare the other guy the misrepresenter and go home. Grown-ups willing to listen to the arguments despite this can still make informed opinions and even come to a consensus, but c'mon, that's practically nobody. You'd have to be, I don't know, a rocket scientist or something.

The great thing is, although people have been getting a bit heated over Scott treating ID as real argument is that a lot of people still believe it :D!

Truly, honestly I think we're all just regular guys living in a regular world...I don't need to see things as a rocket scientist does. But I did like that article by PZ. It was very thorough with research, although it's probably a better use of time to write an article opposing ideas in some sort of research paper instead of a blogger's website :>

So, there are a lot of highly educated scientists that hang out on the internet looking for blogs with information to put down with their awesome hammer of knowledge, eh?

Amazing how many yes-men PZ has in his peanut gallery. Not to worry, I'm sure you've got a few of those around. I'll even play the role for the moment:

Brilliant! :)

You definitely missed a few beats in your original post, with some actual logical weaknesses, but he didn't really find any of them so it's okay. You had his blood boiling after the first paragraph so how could he be expected to read and analyze impassively and see the real openings for attack? :)

In general I find that anyone who is rabid about anything has lost the ability (or interest?) to comprehend the opposition and thereby make truly rational arguments. And of course without comprehension of the other party's actual points, the only choice is constructing misrepresentations. Exactly as you said.

Boy oh boy this is fun to watch! If you were a long established blogger with millions of readers it would seem kind of childish to parry with someone so publicly, regardless of who is right, but hey, you just started, and all along you have been about laughing at the annoying parts of human nature, so it fits well. :)

This is fascinating stuff btw...

I don't quite understand your issue with credibility. You appear to be saying that the proponents of each side in the debate are too partisan to be credible. Do you want someone who has no vested interest in the outcome to explain the pros and cons of each argument in lay terms?

I think the problem is that in gaining the knowledge required to explain it all you have to read through conflicting accounts and somewhere along the way you must make decisions on which account you accept, this in itself breeds partisanship.

I found that any arguments I've seen by ID theorists have been refuted by the scientific community - yes I am drawing a distinction there - to my satisfaction; i'm not a trained scientist but I know enough to accept (not quite blindly) that the refutations have a basis in observation and theory whereas the ID claims are mainly speculation based on cherry-picked data.

PZ may have attacked you on the wrong level but if you look past that then take a look at the evidence he offers .
Keep up the good work!

I'm sorry, Scott, but this tack you're taking is rather coming across as a clever way of trying to have your cake and eat it. You can't just couch all the arguments you make in the words "some people think that", so that you can get defensive when people refute them. And you've now flatly contradicted yourself anyway. You say you're " not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution." Then you accept some people may have this slam-dunk evidence. How can you reconcile this with the earlier claim that those of us who deny any chance that 90%+ (more like 99%+) of scientists who believe in evolution are right have "led sheltered lives"? Maybe we are simply the ones in possession of this slam-dunk evidence we have so far failed to communicate to you so woefully.

PS: The reason scientists may appear to be misrepresenting IDers' arguments is very simple: ID has no consistent position to attack. Some of them do say Earth is 6000 years old. Some of them say this, some of them say that. There's no central authority or set of peer-reviewed articles on ID that an evolutionist can attack with any sort of focus. (The IDers have this luxury, but still misrepresent our arguments. What does that tell you?)

PPS: www.talkorigins.org may be the communication of this slam-dunk evidence you're looking for. If you want to spout about this issue in a very public way, you'll only keep your credibility if you research a bit yourself, not just rely on other people coming and telling you.

Even more intriguing (and disturbing) than PZ's method of attack is the number of people cheering him on in the comment section of the blog. In other words, it's not just one irony-impaired, intellectually dishonest biologist shouting into the wind: he's got a fan base, only a few of whom seem to have read your original post, but who join in PZ's ranting as if they *had* read it. So there's also a secondary or tertiary level of intellectual dishonesty at work here. Pretty grim.

On a different note, I quite agree with your position on a lack of credible people to inform us about these issues. The same problem happens anywhere where you have a complex body of information and people who feel strongly about some part of it. Putting aside humor and irony for the moment, are there any information-givers, on any issue, whom you consider credible?

Humans: we're not even as smart as we think we are....

It is challenging to view "scientific evidence" as credible when that "evidence" still requires scientific theory to claim that it's "credible."

For example; when we're told how old the earth and the items dug up from archeological digs are, we need to accept that the theories behind carbon-dating are exact and credible.

I'll just wait until someone who is obviously smarter than any human can explain it all. Until then, I'm OK with not knowing a few things about the world around me...

Scott, you are my absolute idol and (anti?)hero. I'm a 16 year old Australian geek who loves programming, technology and electronics (go the world of cyborgs!) and i've found your blog a must-read in conjunction with your excellent cartoons.

But to the debate at hand; you've hit the nail on the head. Everyone misrepresents everyone else in the world in order to remove credibility from one and add it to the other. I've seen it time and time again, but never like the ID/Darwinism debate (i'm with the scientists on this one).

Keep on drawin', your insightful and wonderfully-cynical cartoons are what makes comming home from school worthwhile.

- Dean

PS: PZ, while intelligent, is a total wiener. And not the good type either, those horrible ones with the red skin covering that you can never figure out what animal are in it...

I'm leaning to (my interpretation of) intelligent design, but I'm not going to make a case for it here. The current discussion is an ideological war and has next to nothing to do with science.

We don't know nearly enough about genetics and biochemistry to even begin to understand how life works, let alone how it develops.

I did some genetic programing simulation (Warning! Simulations don't proof anything!) and I found that natural selection did an excellent job of weeding out all functional mutations before they even had a chance to accumulate (so no macro-evolution) while at the same time optimized the configuration (mostly data) to the environment (micro-evolution). But it's just a simulation, not proving anything about the real world.

Another thing that makes the discussion really difficult is this notion that a deity or designer needs to be supernatural. I see life as just really advanced technology, so while it may seem magical, there is no need for any supernatural being to create it. One does not have to break the laws of nature to create something new (like children).

A deity that uses very advanced technology may seem supernatural or miraculous to us stupid, ignorant humans but most likely it's just our interpretation of the laws of nature that is incomplete.

Sometimes the only honest scientific answer is: "I don't know". Why is admitting this so difficult?

I didn't think you believed in Intelligent desgin. I read the entry to my boyfriend and he didn't either. He has nothing against intelligent design but feels its not actually a scientific theory (and there was something about fruit fly experiementation in the proving of evolution). It lead on to us having an interesting conversation about the definition of 'science' and 'science method' and Ochaims razor. The conclusion was that Science is a cultural construct and that its a shame that scientists don't acknowledge this aspect of what they do more often, because then maybe things Intelligent Design would prompt rational deabate and not just reactionary argument.

Great fight...

What neither "theory" can explain is why

(a) Highly educated people can display such ignorance
(b) People who profess a deep spirituality can be so scary

As someone who has trained and practiced science for 20 years, I'm not surprised that you come across this sort of hostile dispute. The more time I spend in science the more I realise how unscientific my colleagues are (and hence probably I am also). Perhaps its important for everyone to have some quantum of irrationality in their lives.

I've decided not to click through to PZ's blog because this will only encourage him/her to believe that he's correct. PZ will hold up the number of visits as some sort of justification for his/her own self importance. Might even get PZ elected to the editorial board of some science journal where upon he/she will rubbish any submission that doesn't tally with his/her view.

The arrogance of we scientists is, at times, breathtaking.
Paige

It's an interesting thing science. It can accurately measure temperature but can't tell if something is "hot" or "cold". Why because there are realtive and subjective.

Similarly it can say that ice cream is below the freezing point of water and that it's sweet, but it can not tell if I'll like it, and if I do why.

Now I dare say that scientists have experimented with things, measured the results, experimented some more, trying to make something new (can I suggest designed something new) but to suggest that in the past it is possible that something or someone designed something is suddenly not science but religion of philosophy.

Interesting.

I like Scott's views, especially since they show one important fact:

All humans are alike in every field they think themselves to be experts in.

I am working in a Bioinformatics Lab and therefore my "beliefs" should be clear. Accordingly, my views are very biased when it comes to ID, most notably because I am learning about their views from my fellow believers who write monstrous books about how wrong the ID-people are. Moreover, due to my "beliefs" I have problems reading newspaper articles from ID-promoters since I "know" that they got it wrong.

I have also observed behaviours like that of PZ and most certainly have acted similarly, in chat rooms, forums and the like, whenever someone called evolution full of errors and that God is the only explanation. A good way to tackle the critics is presented in the "Blind Watchmaker" of Richard Dawkins, who named some of the errors and explained his views on this subject while avoiding to complain about statements of Creationists (I think the ID-movement wasn't popular when this book was written).

Maybe this is exactly the point of Scott. You can listen to arguments but you should stick to the things you know, not the things you believe to know. Finding the difference is probably one of the hardest things of being a human...

Cheers, Steffen

The scientific community tried ignoring ID, since arguing it seems to give it more standing. But we can’t ignore it when articles like these just give it credence, because someone like you has been interpreted, however mistakenly, as supporting it. Pointing out how you knew this would happen and it proves your point is not constructive in arguing the issue, just in satisfying your ego. :P

Not to misrepresent you again but seeing as you feel you cannot decide which side is right, because they keep misrepresenting each other, let’s reduce the question to its simplest form and do the math ourselves:

1. Did life (not just hominids with a poor fossil record) evolve by natural selection, whereby genetic variations over generations made one species/group/individual more successful than the other and made them fittest to pass their genes on to the next generation?

-or-

2. Some intelligent being (don't try to explain where they came from) designed this complexity for some reason?

Most reasonable people would agree that there is evidence to support the first option (not that it is infallible, but that it is plausible) and that the second is an assumption based on the fact that we cannot explain some aspects of the complexity of life (which invokes the idea of a supernatural being playing puppet-master to the process).

By definition the second does not constitute science, since it is not falsifiable, and so it cannot be taught as such. There is no argument, and if it requires a 'credible expert ' to convince you of such, you have lost the ability to think for yourself and it won’t be long before you’re wondering if the earth is really round or if it's turtles all the way down.

What makes a person "credible"?

It sounds like you're basing your metric for truth off of charisma and rhetoric, rather than credible evidence. Your over-focus on Darwin as the champion of evolution belies this personality-based reasoning. Prevailing scientific theory hasn't been "the origin of the species" for decades now.

The primary difference between ID cranks and actual scientists (not "darwinists") is that scientists provide actual, falsifiable claims. ID cranks simply try to poke holes in those claims using rhetoric rather than falsify them using data or experimentation.

Obviously a layman isn't going to be able to prepare those experiments himself. That's fine. The reason that I trust actual scientists is because they provide that evidence for me to evaluate for myself. ID specialists simply do not. I've checked. They work from the same evidence the scientists have provided, examining it selectively, misconstruing basic facts, ignoring anything inconvenient to their theories. A scientist will honestly say "this detail is incongruous with my theory, I can't explain it yet", whereas an ID proponent will simply pounce on that one tidbit and say "Aha! This proves it's not true!" without providing an alternate theory OR addressing the mounds of preceding evidence.

What PZ is (and I am) attacking is your broken metric for truth. Rather than evaluating the facts for yourself, doing some research and coming up with a conclusion, or trusting the people who make the resources available for you to do that, you have decided to look for someone who "sounds credible" to tell you what the truth is.

That's a sad commentary on you, and frankly, on American culture in general.

Hi Scott:

I am in a different time zone. You are so upset about this issue that you are typing in the middle of the night,
poor fellow.

Alas, in my time zone it is time to go back to work.

In YOUR time zone it is time to get off the computer and get some sleep so you will not look like the man sleeping at the meeting in today's cartoon.

Good night.

A reader from overseas

Hey, I started reading your blog because I read Dilbert all the time, and I've read a few of your books. Basically I was looking for more funny writing ... and that's exactly what I found. This however is a whole different kind of funny ... but it's still damned funny :)

It is sad to see that you left out the most credible theory of all: the world was created by the FSM. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, His Holy Noodleness, is responsible of all things we see around us. Please see http://www.venganza.org/index.htm for more on this very credible theory.

Man - I'm looking forward to PZ's response to that entry. The comment about the alien seeding theory is going to go waaayy over his head.

I just read PZ's comment: WOW! He REALLY believes what he wrote. And calling you a PHB was funny. I'm not saying it was correct, just funny. I hope you have fun with all this.

Well I went to read PZ's webpage.
It appeared to me tt you misrepresented his views too.. lol~
Both of you should go into politics...

How to controversial in one easy lesson. I'm willing to bet you also had hundreds of e-mails trying to save you from atheism, am I right?

Maybe we should get Richard Dawkins and the Pope to slug it out on their own, perhaps in a boxing ring. If Dawkins survives by virtue of being the fittest, we adopt evolution as the official explanation of everything; if he is struck by a bolt of lightning, we all have to convert to Catholicism; while if the Pope is struck by lightning, we chalk up a victory for Intelligent Design, or at least Intelligent Extermination.

(Yikes! More controversy! I hope you don't have too many Catholic fans. I know I won't have if you publish this comment.)

I haven't read very many of the comments, so if I'm repeating others, I apologize. It seems to me that both arguments are based so much on each individual's faith in them that they have no ability to be objective at all.They have taken a fight upon themselves that God Himself never did: He just stuck to I AM. If they're wrong, they're WRONG and can't handle that. It's hard to PROVE something you have no PROOF of. Credibility in this case seems to be lacking when in fact it is-- and will always be, I suppose because we will always have Biblical accounts that will always exist even if no one believes them. I think the thing to do is to try to find out yourself. One way is to read the Bible. Ask God, "If You exist, make Yourself real to me and help me understand this." Either He will or He won't. For me He did. Now the debate is irrelevant to me. I figure God can take care of Himself and fight this His way. My job, as far as I can see, is to love God and love others (in wholesome pure ways, of course!) and be the best me I can be. Simple. Yes. Like a child. Thank you for the opportunity to share.

Shorter version: "Who's on first?"

Scott,

This is really an awful lot of fuss over a simple cartoonist posting some funny ramblings that just happen to concern a subject that many folks find pretty darned emotionally charged. I mean, seriously, you spend the whole time saying "Nobody seems to be relating the issue to me in ways that make sense" and he fires back with "Hey look guys! He doesn't get the issue!"

It's interesting how in issues like this, people get so worked up about how their side is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT that an objective viewpoint is invariably pervieved as support for the opposition. This guy said you were definately into Intelliggent Design simply because (as far as I can tell) you actually looked into the ID side of the issue.

I think that the best part was how all of his readers were swearing off Dilbert, and going "Y'know, come to think of it, I never really enjoyed that Scott Adams guy." Apparently, once people find a reason to disagree with you, you lose your ability to be funny.

I think something must be wrong with me, when I read intelligent design part 1 I found myself agreeing with what you were saying (maybe I’m immune to hypnosis?). I have had (in my own head) the same problem for quite some time. As a graduate in archaeology I have studied evolutionary theory quite a bit and yes on the whole I do agree with its principles, the problem I have with it is the people, in lectures alternative theories/hypothesis were treated with ridicule which personally I found offensive (not to me but for the people who hold faith/belief in those theories) more recently I was working on a data capture project and one of the team members was a Christian (I’m sure several members of the team were Christians but there was only the one who thought it important enough to let everyone else know about it), and on one occasion he started a discussion with a few of the others about ID. Actually what he started a discussion about how evolution was preposterous/ludicrous (the exact terms used) and how ID was the only explanation. I remember at the time physically restraining myself from taking my keyboard and clubbing him to death with it, not because he opposed evolution, but because of the sheer arrogance of his statements. This is the overriding issue here people are to quick to dismiss others for their views rather than actually engage in a sensible and open debate.

Simon

I think something must be wrong with me, when I read intelligent design part 1 I found myself agreeing with what you were saying (maybe I’m immune to hypnosis?). I have had (in my own head) the same problem for quite some time. As a graduate in archaeology I have studied evolutionary theory quite a bit and yes on the whole I do agree with its principles, the problem I have with it is the people, in lectures alternative theories/hypothesis were treated with ridicule which personally I found offensive (not to me but for the people who hold faith/belief in those theories) more recently I was working on a data capture project and one of the team members was a Christian (I’m sure several members of the team were Christians but there was only the one who thought it important enough to let everyone else know about it), and on one occasion he started a discussion with a few of the others about ID. Actually what he started a discussion about how evolution was preposterous/ludicrous (the exact terms used) and how ID was the only explanation. I remember at the time physically restraining myself from taking my keyboard and clubbing him to death with it, not because he opposed evolution, but because of the sheer arrogance of his statements. This is the overriding issue here people are to quick to dismiss others for their views rather than actually engage in a sensible and open debate.

Simon

I think something must be wrong with me, when I read intelligent design part 1 I found myself agreeing with what you were saying (maybe I’m immune to hypnosis?). I have had (in my own head) the same problem for quite some time. As a graduate in archaeology I have studied evolutionary theory quite a bit and yes on the whole I do agree with its principles, the problem I have with it is the people, in lectures alternative theories/hypothesis were treated with ridicule which personally I found offensive (not to me but for the people who hold faith/belief in those theories) more recently I was working on a data capture project and one of the team members was a Christian (I’m sure several members of the team were Christians but there was only the one who thought it important enough to let everyone else know about it), and on one occasion he started a discussion with a few of the others about ID. Actually what he started a discussion about how evolution was preposterous/ludicrous (the exact terms used) and how ID was the only explanation. I remember at the time physically restraining myself from taking my keyboard and clubbing him to death with it, not because he opposed evolution, but because of the sheer arrogance of his statements. This is the overriding issue here people are to quick to dismiss others for their views rather than actually engage in a sensible and open debate.

Simon


ROTFL!

Seeing how many self-professed intelligent people fell right into the trap of a "cartoonist" drawing a no-win debate over what appear to be a sensitive subject, when the real debate was, people-in-debate misrepresent each other to try to win the debate! Dilbert Blog: One; All-who-forgot-Scott-is-a-cartoonist: Zero!

Fascinating...

Been getting rss feed on this blog since day 1, it's not leaving my rss reader any time soon ;-)

I just love this. And it's fascinating how passionate people can be. Now, I'm nowhere near as well-educated in biology as the signature PZ, but I certainly would call myself well-educated in general. I totally got your blog entry, but the part about fitting all fossils in a small box was hard not to misinterpret.

Then again, I'm an engineer (student) and not a scientist. I don't know if that's what makes me see the entry from another perspective, or if I'm just not passionate enough...

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