DC Event: Ron Bailey Debates Intelligent Design, Sept. 14


Attention, DC denizens, mark yer calendars for next Wed, Sept. 14:

What's the deal with Intelligent Design?
September 14, 2005 | America's Future Foundation

Join us on Wednesday, September 14, for the next AFF Roundtable: "What's the deal with Intelligent Design?" Our panelists will ask what the debate over Intelligent Design tells us about American politics and culture. Is ID backlash for loss of local control over public schools and secularization of the curriculum? Is it symptomatic of a deepening cultural divide in America? Panelist will be Will Wilkinson of the Cato Institute; Ron Bailey of Reason Magazine; Blake Dvorak of the Washington Times; and Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America.

The event will take at the Fund for American Studies, 1706 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, near Dupont Circle. Drinks at 6:30; Roundtable begins at 7:00. Roundtables are free for members, $5 for non-members.

NEXT: Mousepox, anthrax, and plague — Oh my!

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  1. Can't find anything on Blake Dvorak, but this Crouse lady stirkes me as a mistake. Appering on stage with her I think cedes ground. You cannot lose this debate, but you can give her the controversy that she wants.

    I have a hard time beleiving she is not disingenuous from what I have read, truly ignorant talking points, and it might be entertaining to see Will and Ron demolish her, in the same way watching Jerry Springer is, but giving any credibility at all to this woman is a net loser for reality based people.

  2. Yes, but who will be representing the Pastafarians at the roundtable discussion?

    I nominate Chef Boyardee.

  3. Curse you Ford Perfect and the Escort you rode in on.

    "Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

  4. Drinks at 6:30, Roundtable at 7?

    Do you really think it's fair to give creationists drinks BEFORE they have to come up with a logical argument?

  5. What about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?


  6. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America

    Any organization with "Concerned" in its name is almost invariably a hotbed of asshattery.

  7. "Can't find anything on Blake Dvorak, but this Crouse lady stirkes me as a mistake. Appering on stage with her I think cedes ground. You cannot lose this debate, but you can give her the controversy that she wants."

    Let me on stage! Please, please!

    I eat intelligent designers for breakfast! 🙂

    There is one simple question that can end any debate on Intelligent Design being science or pseudoscience. That question is:

    "In order for something to be science, it must be capable of being falsified (proven wrong). So what is it that can falsify Intelligent Design?"

    The answer is that nothing can falsify Intelligent Design. Ergo, it's not science.

    QED. Next! 😉

  8. If intelligent design was how it went down, where did the designer come from?

    Actually, the complexity they tout as indicating ID tends to indicate the opposite. DNA is excessively complex. ID would be more likely indicated if DNA was the simplest it could be to manifest in funtional creatures.

    Why would an intelligent designer make fish susceptable to cancer and other diseases?

  9. Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, for all their heated disagreements, agreed on one thing: Don't debate creationists. Not even (or especially) the ID crowd. These jokers are not interesting in winning a debate. They simply want the "legitimacy" that comes with their supposedly being a debate in the first place. And this is like debating flat Earthers.

  10. I think that NJ Congressdude put it best: "Intelligent Design: It's not even WRONG"

  11. Please put in a good word for me!

  12. Just remember, it's turtles all the way down!

  13. Don't debate creationists. Not even (or especially) the ID crowd.

    Refusing to debate is a risky strategy, whatever the topic. It leaves the floor to the other side and opens one up to accusations that the reticence to debate is owing to a lack of confidence in one's arguments. There have been times, concerning different topics, when that was exactly what motivated the avoidance of debate. Also, when you don't debate, you miss the opportunity to expose the weaknesses of the opposition.

  14. ID? If it was actually design, it certainly couldn't be called intelligent.

    There are eye conditions, retinopathies, where blood vessels in the retina leak. Sometimes, in various parts of our anatomy, the body limits the damage caused from leaking blood vessels and saves organs and functions by growing new blood vessels. But with some retinopathies, the new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina as well, causing blindness.

    It's easy to see the mechanisms of adaptation and selection (evolution) at work here. It's rather harder to see design, unless the designer was thought to be malicious or stupid.

  15. lot's of intelligent design in dc

  16. "Not even (or especially) the ID crowd. These jokers are not interesting in winning a debate."

    Well, good. Because if they debated me, they wouldn't win.

    The first question I suggested ("What evidence would show Intelligent Design to be wrong?") would already guarantee an I.D. debate loss (unless they could actually come up with a test that would show I.D. to be wrong).

    But other questions I'd love to ask I.D.ers:

    1) Do you agree that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old (say plus or minus 30 percent)?

    2) Do you agree the earth is approximately 4 billion years old (say plus or minus 30 percent)?

    3) Do you agree that homo sapiens sapiens evolved from a species with a smaller brain volume?

    4) Do you agree with conventional paleontological scientific thought regarding the history of the earth (e.g. Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, etc)?

    If they disagreed with any of the 4, I'd rip them to shreds on the science. If they agreed with all 4, I'd comment that they didn't seem to disagree with any science, so there doesn't seem to be anything to debate. Other than whether God(s) exist, which isn't a question science can address.

  17. Mark, there's more to winning a public debate than being right and articulating your points in a logical manner. You must make arguments that the audience finds persuasive. If the gaps are articulated in a convincing manner, and the scientist isn't able to refute them directly, all of your philosophical arguments are more likely to sound like sophistry: "I don't want to argue with you." Yes, I know you're right, you know you're right, but a bunch of swing voters in Kansas think that the scientists are covering up some gaps.

  18. The ID folks' hands are really tied when confronted with the kind of objection that I raised. For example, look at the space shuttle. It reveals evidence of intelligent designers, very intelligent. But it also reveals designers who make mistakes. The problem for the ID folks is that they posit a designer who is infallible. The only way for the ID crowd to stay consistent with the evidence is to alter the ascribed perfect nature of their God.

    This dilemma is at the root of: "The Lord works in mysterious ways"

  19. "George Bernard Shaw described a public forum in which a flat-earther laid waste to the spherical opposition.34 Rowbotham was widely known as a tiger on the platform, and he was seldom bested. (The good citizens of Leeds, England, once ran him out of town, being unable to make a more effective reply to his flat-earth arguments.)35 In Brockport, N.Y., in March 1887, two scientific gentlemen defended the sphericity of the earth against flat-earther M.C. Flanders on three consecutive nights. When the great debate was over, five townsmen chosen to judge the matter issued a unanimous verdict. Their report, published in the Brockport Democrat, stated clearly and emphatically their opinion that the balance of the evidence pointed to a flat-earth.36"

  20. Another thought occured to me about why Mark Bahner's approach would fall flat:

    If he got to begin the debate it might work. But if the creationists went first, or if the questions were posed by a creationist sympathizer, he'd be screwed if they started talking about the issue of reproducible experiments. "Evolution only happened once, how can you replicate it?" And you can say what you like about how the question is invalid (and I'd agree with you), but it's a favorite Creationist talking point and it resonates with a lot of people.

    I'm not saying we should concede the floor to them. In the end I do think it's better to confront them. But let's not harbor any illusions that a few brilliant arguments will win these debates. These are ideas that you have to chip away at, and realize that in a lot of these debates the minds will be made up. All you can do is put your ideas out there for people who are wavering at the margins, to let them know that we aren't afraid of the creationists.

  21. "All you can do is put your ideas out there for people who are wavering at the margins"

    'zactly. my husband got dragged into a debate with anti evo. wierdos (kent hovind, namely)- flyers at all the churches in town- so the crowd at the univ. (N. FL) was mostly christian soldiers marching as to war. kent makes a nice living, complete with tax evasion and other things- but if you bring up anything about fraud, that is an ad hominem attack and it makes YOU look bad. after all, one has to resort to ad hominem attacks when their argument is weak. he tapes the debates (we didnt let him) and then sells them for 50 bucks a pop to the audience (no one sees that they are being milked?!). he is pretty slick- he has powerpoint with thousands of slides- and when someone speaks against him, he takes notes so he will be ready the next time that fact is brought up. the crowd heckles the scientists, also. the "moderators" cut off the scientists before they finish speaking. it was almost a melee. it was what i anticipated, which was why we werent going to do it. there was a fair # of people who wanted to have civil discussion afterwards (thankfully), but the psychos were actually scary. people threaten violence. the scientists are not performance artists or mind *&%#@*+, like the people sometimes are on the ID side of the debate. when you are used to dealing with thinking people, you work with facts and ideas. it doesnt stand up very well against people who can be manipulated by their emotions (see: iraq). this is a psych war. sadly, facts dont mean much. people have a need to think that there is someone out there watching over them, and science threatens that. basically, it boils down to what % of the population runs on intellect, and what % runs on emotion. ne'er the twain shall meet.

  22. The first question I suggested ("What evidence would show Intelligent Design to be wrong?")....

    Unfortunately, Mark, for the most part the people who believe that there is a point in "debating" this are utterly clueless about the scientific method. As thoreau and ko have pointed out they are only swayed by emotion. Further they are also swayed by authority and the mask of certainty. The scientific method leaves room for uncertainty that a lot of people simply cannot get their heads around.

  23. If careful reasoning and quantitative evidence were sufficient to win public debates then Congress would consist of 535 economics professors.

    And things would be much better that way, as long as they were microeconomists.

  24. Additionally, Mark, your definition of science isn't really right. Fallibility as the essence of science is more of a meme going around the blogs than it is the essence of science. It is actually a bit more complicated, and that is the reason why debating ID' ers is a mistake -- they are not really interested in an honest give and take -- they have an agenda and exploit things that are complex, disingenuously using debates as PR, rather than intellectually honest back and forth.

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