04 January 2007

Pseudotruth in pseudocience

I've been following this discussion with interest [William Crawley's BBC Blog]. It would be misleading to think that one eminent doctor's very personal views on Intelligent Design are shared by the genetics or medical scientific community (and unfortunately advocacy of the "Truth in Science" bandwagon does give this impression). People see the banner "leading geneticist supports Intelligent Design", and then think that if it's good enough for that person, it's good enough for me.

That's not the way science works. A very eminent person can doggedly cling to a very wrong idea, and ID is a very wrong idea. Complexity - even "irreducible complexity" (a very sloppily defined term in what passes for the ID "literature") is not a barrier to Darwinian evolution. Standard evolutionary models not only *allow* irreducible complexity, they *predict* it.

Unfortunately, by giving the impression that crypto-religious pressure groups like TiS are in some way pushing a valid science agenda, some "leading academics" are being duped into becoming pawns in a game that is quite deliberately and intelligently designed to undermine science and science education. I think that is sad, and I hope this is just a temporary lapse of judgement.

It would be relevant to point out that even Francis Collins, a *really* eminent geneticist and committed Christian, or Ken Miller, another *really* eminent geneticist and committed Christian, hold ID and creationism in nothing but contempt, and would not give TiS the time of day. The vast majority of the scientific community is of the same view, but science is not a democracy - it's the evidence that counts. And by the evidence, ID is as dead as the flat earth.

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