Why word choices matter

From Kitzmiller vs. Dover….

Judge Jones continues:

But they undermine their argument with the admission that “a definition of ‘creation’ from a pre-publication draft of Pandas… was also used as one definition of ID in the final published textbook.” However, the DI authors only quote the definition that ID means that “various forms of life … began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.” The DI authors omit the definition in the pre-publication draft of Pandas that read: “various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.”

What difference does it make that “intelligent creator” was changed to “intelligent agency”? The obvious point, which Judge Jones noted, was that the words “creation” and its cognates were removed from Pandas in some 150 places directly after the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that public schools could not require “equal time” for “creation-science” in biology classes. Although quite revealing of the quick-change strategy adopted by the Pandas authors to avoid the Edwards decision—which would have precluded the book’s adoption by any public-school district—the DI authors miss (or ignore) a more significant point that did not escape Judge Jones. Both the original “creationist” and revised “intelligent agency” definitions include the identical words that “the various forms of life that began abruptly . . . with their distinctive features already intact . . . .” These common definitions of the origin of species, Jones noted, were conceded by defense expert witnesses to mean the “ ‘special creation’ of kinds of animals, an inherently religious and creationist concept.” The notion of “special creation” not only implies, but requires the intervention of a supernatural (read “God”) creator of all life forms. Whether labeled as an “intelligent creator” or an “intelligent agency” makes no difference. It is the supposed “intelligence” of the creator or agency that removes both old-fashioned creationism and newfangled ID from the realm of science, since no “intelligent” force can be observed or measured by any scientific process.


This is an older post, so I apologize if I’m quoting someone whom I don’t acknowledge.

No evidence for God – framed

Lately, there’s been quite a lot of talk about science, religion, aggressive argument, and the movie Expelled. I tend to err on the side of less aggression. It can be very useful to say there’s no scientific evidence for God or no historical evidence for Jesus or to say, “I don’t feel any need for God in my life.” But it’s not useful to call believers deluded fools.

People can change their deeply inculcated religious opinions, but until they do, insulting them as rude and useless as mocking someone for being so afraid of heights they can’t look out an office window.

I’ve got some calls and mail out to various places to find out why they cancelled the rest of the advance screening. Maybe security, as I first heard, or maybe they don’t feel they need them now, or who knows?

PZ Myers, who was evicted from an Expelled screening in March, was the person who said

The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians … I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.

Oh, well. I have two warnings for the creationists.

One, I will go see this movie, and I will cheer loudly at my 30 seconds or whatever on the screen, and I will certainly disembowel its arguments here and in any print venue that wants me. That’s going to be fun.

Framing sounds like “old wine in new bottles,” as a friend once described the constant re-packaging of good management practices and methodologies with new buzzwords that would sell more seminars. I mean, it’s a good OLD idea: you have to send your message in such a way that your audience will receive it: listen to it, understand it, be motivated by it, and with luck even do what you want them to do. But I’m not sure that every suggestion made for how to do it is spot on. I’d like to keep to the message that science can not prove religion until we get reproducible, repeatable miracles. It can’t disprove it either, only say that there’s no solid evidence for supernatural events. And it’s pointless to insult people for ideas inculcated in youth. Tell them that I haven’t seen any evidence, yes; call them deluded fools, no.

Co-incidentally or not, I Can Has Cheezburger has a picture about Constructive Criticism.

St. Matthew’s Church scam brings in millions

Blogger Tiny Frog gets begging letters from St. Matthew’s Church asking for money and referring to the contribution as a “prosperity seed.” They send a paper “Jesus handkerchief” and ask you to return it with money. Apparently these little tricks bring in about $6 million dollars a month. I wonder what they do with it all?

paper rug from prayer scam begging letter

Some assembly required: Ikea cat

Knock-down furniture is a great invention, but…. some assembly is required.

ikea cat - some assembly required
more cat pictures

Posted in humor. Tags: , , . 1 Comment »

Hockey player Luc Bourdon killed on new motorcycle

Luc Bourdon, Vancouver Canucks

A young hockey player in the NHL has died two days after getting a new motorcycle. He had earned his learner’s permit only six weeks ago. Then he went out and bought a powerful motorcycle.

Motorcycles are tricky to license. Without a sidecar, you can’t really ride with someone else and watch how they do it and you can’t have an instructor watching you. If you follow the rules, you can’t ride on the roads, which means you can’t get much practice before your first driving test. If you stay cautious, a motorcycle licence gives you a chance to stay alive until you really learn how to ride. A low-powered motorcycle is better to start with because it won’t run away with you.

There are some dangers that don’t go away with experience. The commonest motorcycle accident is for a rider with the right of way going straight to be struck by a car driver making a turn. Sadly, car drives look for cars, not vehicles.

His friend and fellow player has changed his mind about getting a motorcycle.

Darwin’s “Evolution Revolution” at the ROM

Royal Ontario Museum with Darwin banner

Replica of Charles Darwin\'s study at Down HouseThe Royal Ontario Museum is hosting an exhibit about the life and work of Charles Darwin. Toronto Star writer Peter Calamai has a review: “Darwin Still Battling Creationists.” Here are a few points:

Only those with unusual physical stamina will be able to take in the admirable richness of this show in one visit….

In the first place, the explanatory panels crowding the Garfield Weston exhibition hall contain – by official count – almost 39,000 words. At an average rate of two words a second, that’s more than five hours of reading.

And there are far too few places to sit and rest both mind and feet, particularly if your idea of intelligent contemplation doesn’t include being assailed by proselytizing film clips.

… parts of “Darwin: The Evolution Revolution” are an exercise in anti-creationist persuasion….

Plan to go and see Darwin’s notes, a replica of his study, and information about the evidence and insights that helped him to realize the mechanism of evolution.

High-school Jesus at One Horse Shy

One Horse Shy is a web vendor of witty slogans and graphics, which you can buy on T-shirts, mugs, buttons, and decals. I think my favourite is the High School Jesus.

Jesus Loves you, High-school Style

But there are many more. As the vendors say, “We don’t care who you are… We have something for you.” Take a look at their themes: political, Asian, blasphemous, cool, low-brow, high-brow, society, Western.

themes at One Horse Shy slogan vendor

Here’s what I found:

Bad grammar makes me [sic]:

The who/whom debate:

who/whom owls


Reality check:


The Asian theme—graceful Chinese ideograms:

ideogram for courage

And political:

Made of Win

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