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Thursday, October 20, 2005 

"God is to engineering what Michael Brown is to hurricane relief"

That's my new favorite anti-ID quote, spoken by Mark Blumberg, at the University of Iowa Freethinkers' panel discussion on intelligent design last evening. Dr. Blumberg was discussing what a piss-poor design the human vertebral column is, and concluded his talk with the comment above. The other speakers, Scott Robinson and Evan Fales, also did a great job of conveying the issues. On the ID side was physicist Fred Skiff, one of the "dissenters from Darwinism." I'm sure Skiff is a nice guy and apparently a good physicist, but...wow. A biologist, he ain't. He conflated abiogenesis with evolution, wrote off anything that's "macroevolution" as being "overly reductionist," said scientists claim that science is a worldview (and that's in textbooks?), made a complete strawman of those opposed to teaching ID (suggesting that scientists want to "make it illegal to challenge a scientific theory"), and then pissed off both the scientists and philosophers by saying that Epicurial materialism equals hedonism. And man, he just does this wierd thing with his eyebrows that makes it difficult to watch him speak.

The best question blunder of the evening came from a pro-ID student who was trying to respond to Blumberg's comments that physicists (and others) shouldn't tell biologists what to teach. Both Blumberg and Robinson are officially listed in the department of Psychology, so this student tried to tell them that they were just as unqualified to speak on evolution as Dr. Skiff. Guess he slept through the part where they both talked about their graduate training in basic biology (Robinson even discussed his background in paleontology and zoology at length). Boo-yah.


About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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