Scott Adams: Pointy Haired Boss?
When it comes to evolutionary theory and intelligent design (ID) it sure looks that way to me. I know that this is a bit old, but I only recently stumbled across it via the ID the Future Blog, but it was rather shocking to see such a display of intellectual dishonesty and support form psuedo-science from somebody that makes fun of such things (in the corporate world).
For example, Mr. Adams starts off with,
First of all, youÃ¢€™d be hard pressed to find a useful debate about Darwinism and Intelligent Design, of the sort that you could use to form your own opinion. I canÃ¢€™t find one, and IÃ¢€™ve looked. What you have instead is each side misrepresenting the otherÃ¢€™s position and then making a good argument for why the misrepresentation is wrong. (If you donÃ¢€™t believe me, just watch the comments I get to this post.)
Is it really so hard to support one’s belief that one cannot point to a single example given that people have been arguing about intelligent design on the internets [sic] for the past 10 years or so? You’d think that at least one example of where biologists have misrepresented the ID arguments could be found via google, but no, apparently Mr. Adams is unfamiliar with internet search engines. The closest that Mr. Adams comes to providing an example is his claim that biologists often reply to claims about intelligent design by arguing “that Intelligent Design canÃ¢€™t be true because we know the earth is over 10,000 years old.” Of course he was called on this almost immediately and his response was just amazingly lame: “Well, it was friends of mine who are scientists and they’d be embarassed if I revealed their identities.” I’ve been reading about ID for around 10 years and frankly, I don’t recall anybody using that argument. [Side note: while I don’t know of any of the main ID proponenets–i.e. the people coming out of the Discovery Institute–being young earth creationistions (YECers), they do have YECers that support ID and hence many of the Discovery Institute guys are very, very reluctant to answer questions about the age of the earth (the notable exception being Michael Behe)].
Mr. Adams continues to revel in his ignorance with this,
On the other side, Intelligent Design advocates point out a number of flaws in the textbooks that teach Darwinism. Apparently both sides of the debate acknowledge that the evidence for evolution is sometimes overstated or distorted in the service of making it simpler to teach. If you add to that the outright errors (acknowledged by both sides), the history of fossil frauds, the subjectivity of classifying fossils, and the fact that all of the human-like fossils ever found can fit inside a small box, you have lots of easy targets for the opponents. (Relax. IÃ¢€™m not saying Darwinism is wrong. IÃ¢€™m saying both sides have lots of easy targets.)
Again, he was called on this. It was pointed out that there are hundreds of fossils for many of the earlier hominids such as Homo erectus and Homo ergaster and that if you were to put them all in a box you’d need a pretty damn big box and it would be full. Mr. Adams replied in a rather dishonest way by stating he meant we could only take one example, and that we’d also have to grind up up first. After all, one of his commenters point Mr. Adams to this picture showing the morphological similarities between fossil hominid skulls. Even if we took only the skulls, it seems to me we’d need a pretty good sized box for just those. Never mind femurs, pelvises and those highly controvesial knee joints. So yeah, you’d probably have to grind them up. But this is true of anything. I could probably fit 3 Ford Excursions inside my house with room to spare if I melted them down into square lumps of metal. What does this prove?
And as for the fossil frauds, they weren’t discovered by ID advocates, young earth creationist, creationists of any stripe or even a syndicated cartoonist. They were discovered by scientists doing…wait for it…science. So bringing this up is like saying the cops are bad because there are criminals.
And finally, it has been about 8 years since Behe published Darwin’s Balck Box and yet the ID community can’t point to a single example of where the evidence in one field isn’t nearly as strong as scientists in another field think it is. For example, if it is true that the paleontologists are worried their data isn’t all that great couldn’t they find paleontologists who think this way? And similarly for microbiologists, biochemists, and so forth. And on top of this, explain their justifications for thinking their evidence is weak. After all, that is the claim Adams is making. That scientists in each field have a narrow understanding of evolutionary theory and think their evidence is shakey, but surely the guys in the other fields have much, much better evidence. The IDers have had 8 years since the publication of Darwin’s Black Box and according to the IDers themselves, longer than that, and what have they come up with? Pretty much nothing.
And the scientific community has been comparing notes. The online version of this can be found at Talk Origins and the related site Talk Design at these sites you can find evidence supporting evolutionary theory form different fields being brought together. And guess what, the data, when combined, is pretty impressive. So much so, that Michael Behe doesn’t dismiss “darwinian evolution”. Behe thinks that most of what we see in the world today arose via “darwinian evolution”, but that in a few isolated areas “darwinian evolution” is insufficient to produce what we observe. If one were to be charitable to ID, this is one thing a person could point too. Since ID has become such a hot topic it has focused quite a bit of attention on evolutionary theory and has caused people to look at the evidence in different branches of science and see how it all fits.