Minnesota & Evolution

Op-Ed arguing for equal time for criticisms of Darwinism in the Minnesota Star Tribune in the context of public secondary education. Here are the authors: “Chris L. Thomas is a research scientist in the Twin Cities; Seth L. Cooper is a lawyer with the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.” The top “related site” on the links for the Center for Science and Culture is the Access Research Network (the two are part of the same general movement though the Discovery Institute tends to be more broadly focused). There is a noticeable overlap between those affiliated with both groups. The text of the Op-Ed sounds reasonable, and certainly hits a chord with fair-minded Middle-Americans, but a thorough exploration of the topics alluded to would almost certainly require some solid grounding in philosophy of science and history of science, context which seems unlikely to be given when framed in the list of educational priorities. I frankly suspect that the Op-Ed authors know this. The practical effect of the changes recommended would be to promote a God of the Gaps conclusion on the part of the students.

Posted by razib at 05:01 PM

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Evangelical colleges

The LA Times has an article up about Christian colleges. First, they state the following:

The median SATs of incoming freshmen have climbed from 1030 in 1995 to 1113 last year, mirroring a trend of rising qualifications at evangelical institutions

The SATs were recentered in 1995, so I’m not sure what this means. Look at a conversion table and you’ll see that the difference is almost exactly what you see above between pre- and post-recentering.

Also, the “acceptance” of evangelical schools almost certainly is a harbinger of their decline as distinctive institutions. After all, Harvard was founded to train Puritan ministers, but within 150 years it became a fortress of liberal placid Unitarian thought, and today is one of the capitals of American secularism. In the 18th century Princeton was founded as a rebuke of Harvard by Presbyterians who hewed to a more orthodox theology, but today is it little different than the other Ivies. The Catholic colleges like Georgetown, Boston College and Notre Dame were founded as alternatives that inculcated Catholic values, but today they have shifted to meet the other elite institutions in their intellectual climates. A few years ago, William Dembski was fired from a position at an institute at Baylor University because of his aggressive espousal of Intelligent Design. Evangelical colleges need to be cautious in what sort of respectability they want….

Posted by razib at 12:23 AM

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Intelligent Design and the scientists

Here are the educational qualifications of people associated with the Intelligent Design think-tank Access Research Network.

ARN board of directors:

Dennis Wagner – (?)
Mike Hartwing – Ph.D. Educational Psychology
Steve Meyer – Ph. D. History and Philosophy of Science
Paul Nelson – Ph.D in the Philosophy of Science

ARN Staff:

Dennis Wagner – (?)
Nancy Pearcey – graduate work in History of Philosophy
Mary York Wolter – B.S. Early Childhood Education
Elton G. Wolter – B.S. Earth Science
Eddie Olson (?)

Friends of ARN:

Michael Behe – Ph.D. Biochemistry
David Berlinski – Ph.D. Mathematics
John Angus Campbell – Ph.D. Rhetoric
William Lane Craig – Ph.D. Philosophy and Theology
William Dembski – Ph.D. Mathematics and Philosophy
James R. Hofmann – Ph.D. History and Philosophy of Science
Phil Johnson – J.D.
Eric Larson – B.S. Mathematics and Philosophy
Gregg Wilkerson – Ph.D. Geology
Alvin Plantinga – Ph.D. Philosophy
Richard Weikart – Ph.D. History
Jonathan Wells – Ph.D. Religious Studies and Molecular & Cell Biology
Hubert P. Yockey – Ph.D. Physics

Please note that those who espouse Intellligent Design tend to be very averse to making statements along the lines of “The Earth is 10,000 years old” or espousing Flood Geology. Rather, they make a general attack on “methodological naturalism.” You know much more what they are against or what they doubt than what they are for. The most prominent biological scientist among them, Michael Behe, even asserted in Darwin’s Black Box that he accepts descent with modification, and his Roman Catholic beliefs certainly don’t force him to reject evolution in its totality.

Now, look at the Institute for Creation Research and you see people that are more your typical fundamentalist caricatures. The top of their website notes: A Christ-Focused Creation Ministry. Take a look at Dr. John’s Questions and Answers and you can at least hand it to the ICR that they aren’t trying to hide their true intent.

So who are the people associated with the ICR? Well, here is the Resident Faculty:

Austin, Steven A. – Professor of Geology
B.S., University of Washington, Seattle, WA,1970
M.S., San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, 1971
Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 1979

Cumming, Kenneth B. – Professor of Biology
B.S., Tufts University, Medford, MA, 1956
M.A., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1959
Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1965

DeYoung, Donald B. – Professor of Astrophysics
B.S., Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Ml, 1966
M.S., Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Ml, 1968
Ph.D., Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 1972

Franks, Robert H. – Associate Professor of Biology
B.A., San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, 1956
M.D., University of California Los Angeles, CA, 1960

Gish, Duane T. – Professor of Biochemistry
B.S., University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 1949
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA, 1953

Morris, Henry M. – Professor of Hydrogeology
B.S., Rice University, Houston, TX, 1939
M.S., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1948
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1950

Morris, John D. – Professor of Geology
B.S., Virginia Tech., Blacksburg, VA, 1969
M.S., University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, 1977
Ph.D.. University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, 1980

Snelling, Andrew – Professor of Geology
B.Sc., University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 1975
Ph.D., University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 1982

Vardiman, Larry – Professor of Atmospheric Science
B.S., University of Missouri, Rolla, MO, 1965
B.S., St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO, 1967
M.S., Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 1972
Ph.D., Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 1974

Here is the Adjunct Faculty:

Baumgardner, John R. – Associate Professor of Geophysics
B.S., Texas Tech University, Lubbock, 1968
M.S., Electrical Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 1970
M.S., Geophysics and Space Physics, University of California, Los Angeles,1981
Ph.D., Geophysics and Space Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, 1983

Carothers, Linn E. – Associate Professor of Statistics
B.S., University of Southern California, University Park, 1973
M.S., California State University, Northridge, 1979
Ph.D., University of Southern California, University Park, 1987

Chaffin, Imbler F. – Professor of Physics
B.S., Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 1970
M.S., Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 1972
Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 1974

Chittick, Donald E. – Professor of Physical Chemistry
B.S., Willamette University, Salem, OR, 1954
Ph.D., Imbler State University, Corvalis, OR, 1960

Deckard, Stephen W. – Assistant Professor of Education
B.A., McKendree College, Lebanon, IL, 1975
M.S., University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 1979
Ed.D., University of Sarasota, Sarasota, FL, 1986

Englin, Dennis L. – Professor of Geophysics
B.A., Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA, 1968
M.Sc., California State University, Northridge, CA, 1970
Ed.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 1975

Faulkner, Danny R. – Associate Professor of Astronomy
B.S., Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC, 1976
M.S., Clemson University, Clemson, SC, 1979
M.A., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1983
Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1989

Fliermans, Carl B. – Professor of Biology
B.S., Asbury College, Wilmore, KY, 1966
M.Sc., University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 1969
Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1972

Humphreys, D. Russell – Associate Professor of Physics
B.S., Duke University, Durham, NC, 1963
Ph.D., Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1972

Lindsey, George D. – Associate Professor of Science Education
B.S., East Texas State University, Commerce, TX,1967
M.S., East Texas State University, Commerce, TX, 1968
Ed.D., East Texas State University, Commerce, TX, 1981

Meyer, John R. – Professor of Biology
B.A., Kearney State College, Kearney, NE, 1962
Ph.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 1969

Phillips, Doug, Esq. – Professor of Apolgetics

Osborne, Chris D. – Assistant Professor of Biology
B.A., California State University, Fullerton, CA, 1976
M.S., Institute for Creation Research, Santee, CA., 1985
Ph.D., Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA., 1989

Parker, Gary E. – Professor of Biology
B.A., Wabash College, Crawfordville, IN, 1962
M.S., Ball State University, Muncie, IN, 1965
Ed.D., Ball State University, Muncie, IN, 1973

Stark, James – Assistant Professor of Science Education
B.S., San Diego State University, 1959
M.S., University of Southern California, University Park, 1964
Ed.D., United States International University, San Diego, 1983

You can find more scientists here. Note that they pad the list of biological scientists by adding medical doctors. Additionally, in the “physical scientist” category they include mathematicians and computer scientists, which is OK in my opinion, but they also include lingui
sts, psychologists and anthropologists. They obviously didn’t want to create another list for social scientists. (Also, note that the ICR made it easier to cut & paste, so you see the full credentials. Additionally, a few of the degrees are obviously sketchy, one of the “biologists” has an M.S. from ICR itself for instance, so it’s good to see where they got their degrees from. For ARN those issues tend not to come up).

Here is the break-down by discipline for the ARN (I double counted people with multiple Ph.Ds):

Humanities: 11 (Philosophy, history, etc.)
Physical Science: 3
Biological Science: 2
Social Science: 2
Professional: 1

Here is the break down for the ICR Resident Faculty:

Physical Science: 6
Biological Science: 3

For the Adjunct Faculty:

Physical Science: 6
Biological Science: 4
Social Science: 3
Math: 1
Humanities: 1

Comments? Well, for the Access Research Network the tendency toward philosophy is pretty surprising. I’m more well read on these sort of things than the typical person (understatement), but, I was expecting more physical scientists. This is because I have noted in online debates the tendency for engineers to argue the Creationist side. But ARN is a different beast. They are very squirrely in debates and tend to be cautious about the fights they pick in comparison to the old-line Creationists. The focus on philosophy for those who are associated with them tells me that they are concerned with more than evolution, something I’ve noted before. They want to push forward a respectable theistic paradigm in areas outside the modern day domains of religion. Many who argue against the Intelligent Design theorists ask: “Where’s your research? How are you going to implement in the lab what you’re talking about?” I think the answer is that they aren’t going to. They are philosophers, and I don’t know what their long term aim is, but history tells us that quite often philosophy becomes little more than high-minded faction and intercine quibbling. I’ve noted before that Michael Behe, the biochemist, does research that is quite conventional. Jonathan Wells, the other biologist is supposed to be a post-doc at Berkeley, but I don’t see him in their directory anymore. I have linked to the page Why I am Not an Austrian Economist before, but I suspect only the libertarians in the crowd followed the link. So let me quote something the author of that piece asserted: Yet all too large a fraction of Austrian research has not been in economics at all, but rather in meta-economics: philosophy, methodology, and history of thought. I think we can say the same of the Intelligent Design circle. They will provide food for thought for intellectual Christians and some non-Christians, but mostly their “research program” will never make the jump from paper & web to laboratory. Just like some libertarians will trumpet Austrian Economics for normative reasons (as I once did without much knowledge of economics), some conservative publications of secular bent have offered a forum for critiques of evolutionary theory to further other ends.

Turning to the old-line Creationists at the ICR, it is interesting to note that very few people from the humanities or even the social sciences are found there. The prevalence of natural scientists might surprise some, especially natural scientists who hold to a fundamentalist Young Earth Creationist paradigm, but it shouldn’t if you note that to become a member of the ICR you are usually selected on the basis of those two qualities. This group of Creationists (though not most on the list above) has a history of people claiming bogus degrees. Why do this and hold yourself out for ridicule? It is because these Creationists are out to preach to the choir, they are products of the fundamentalist subculture, and aim to strengthen the beliefs of their fellow believers by adding the weight of science, and their scientific credentials, to biblical literalism. The fact that so many of these people have scientific backgrounds, and often in physical scientific fields, explains some of their lack of ability to communicate with the general culture, they simply lack the verbal finesse of the Intelligent Design crowd, but this is secondary when preaching to the choir-and of course those who have engaged in degree padding will not be as likely to be found out by fellow believers inclined to trust them.

To sum, these two forms of Creationist, the fuzzy-sophisticated Intelligent Design species and the Young Earth Fundamentalist kind, exhibit radically different phenotypes and teleology. The former are by and large clever humanists and abstract thinkers who are deconstructing science, but do little science themselves. The latter are often working scientists (generally outside evolutionary biology obviously), but their primary functional aim to is solidify biblical fundamentalism in their fellow believers, their scientific credentials simply give them more authority to negate any erosion of literal belief that science might imply. To futher simplify and reduce: you have religionists trying to influence science, and scientists trying to influence religionists.

Posted by razib at 01:26 PM

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Don't diss the dingo?

Earlier this week I implied that the Dingo caused the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger on the Australian mainland. New research asserts that the issue is more complex than that, and the native Australian Aboriginals might have had a more involved role. Concomitantly with the arrival of the Dingo 4,500 years ago their culture adapted and spread more permanently into Tiger habitat. A classic case of the “Dog ate my homework?”

Posted by razib at 01:09 PM

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God & the scientists

Chapter of the book, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery, deals with science and religion. The subject of the religious faith of scientists comes up, and here is some data I gathered. The first table is the from the book, while the second two I cobbled together from internet sources since Nature’s website seems to be down.

American Academics, Source: Calculated from the Carnegie Commission Survey of 60,028 American Academics

Religiousness by Scholarly Field, 1969
  % Religious Person % Regular Attend % Never Attend % Relgious Conservative % No Religion
Math/Statistics 60 47 35 40 27
Physical Sciences 55 43 38 34 27
Life Sciences 55 42 36 36 29
Social Sciences 45 31 48 19 36
Economics 50 38 42 26 30
Political Science 51 32 43 18 30
Sociology 49 38 43 16 36
Psychology 33 20 62 12 48
Anthropology 29 15 67 11 57

American Natural Scientists – 1996 Source

Believe in personal God?
Discipline Yes No Not sure  
Math 44.6%      
Physics 22.1%      
1914 41.8% 41.5% 16.7%  
1996 39.3% 45.3% 14.5%  

Prominent American Natural Scientists – N.A.S. members (1998, sample size ~ 250) and “eminent” scientists in 1914 & 1933 Source

Believe in personal God?
Discipline Yes No Not sure  
Math 14.3%      
Physics 7.50% 79.0%    
Biology 5.50% 65.2%    
1914 27.7% 52.7% 20.9%  
1933 15.0% 68.0% 17.0%  
1998 7.00% 72.2% 20.8%  

I’ll have plenty to say about science and religion soon…but please note something interesting. All the surveys seem to indicate that Mathematicians are the most religious. And as you see, the “softer” and less g loaded fields tend have fewer believers.

Of course this holds for American scientists only. From the European scientists I’ve met, they are probably more secular. On the other hand, I suspect that Middle Eastern and South Asian scientists tend to be more religious than American scientists….

Posted by razib at 11:44 PM

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Shulevitz on Human Accomplishment

Judith Shulevitz reviews Human Accomplishment. Shulevitz seems to find amusement in Murray’s confirmation of his list at “face value,” that it does tend to correlate well with that we’d have expected. The thing I liked about Murray’s list and method is that people might argue qualitatively that for instance the German contribution to the arts and sciences took off after 1750. But a contrarian might quibble and bring up obscurities and cherry-pick all the great German thinkers and artists before 1750 to make their argument appear as strong. A quantitative analysis allows us to comb the methodology and is more immune (though not totally so) to the tendency to cherry pick to buttress your thesis. Cant and rhetoric get swamped by data. Of course that makes the jobs of pundits & reviewers like Shulevitz a bit harder….

Update: Murray has an article in The New York Times.

Posted by razib at 10:20 PM

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The Poverty of Nations

To conclude my series of posts on international comparisons of IQ (no more, I promise!), I want to look at levels of economic development as measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per head. While this cannot be a perfect indicator (such a thing does not exist), it is probably the best we have.

Data on GDP per head are available for all countries from the useful Nationmaster website. They are expressed in US dollars at Purchasing Power Parity. The source is given as the CIA World Factbook 2002, so I hope it is more reliable than their info on Saddam’s WMD (just kidding, folks). I assume that the data is from 2002 or not long before.

For the reasons given in my previous post, it would also be interesting to compare GDP of developed and 3rd-world countries now with GDP of developed countries around 1930 – the chronological baseline for the Flynn Effect. For this purpose I have taken the UK as a comparator, because I know a bit about UK statistical sources.

A variety of sources indicate that GDP per head in 1930 in the UK in real terms (i.e. allowing for price inflation since then) was about a quarter of its 2002 level of £17.7 K. (For details see the continuation.) Nationmaster gives 2002 GDP per head for the UK as $25.4 K. (The current market exchange rate of £1 = $1.7 would give the higher figure of $30.1 K, but I will use the Nationmaster figure for consistency of comparison with other countries.) This implies a 1930 level around $6.4 K (in 2002 PPP prices).

So here are data for GDP per head in selected countries, with the UK 1930 figure shown in bold. All figures are in US $ thousands.

UK (2002)…………25.4
Hong Kong………..24.6
South Korea………19.3
Czech Rep………..15.2
UK (1930)…………..6.4
Sri Lanka…………….3.2
Equat. Guinea……..2.1
North Korea………….1.0

Of course, there are both practical and conceptual difficulties in comparing GDP in different countries. How does one measure GDP in subsistence peasant economies? There are also some specific oddities in the table above. Can GDP per head in Bosnia really be that low? And why is it (apparently) five time higher in Gabon than in Nigeria?

Comparisons over long periods of time are even more problematic. Many goods and services available widely now did not even exist in 1930, and others have changed greatly in nature or quality.

So I wouldn’t put a great deal of weight on these comparisons. But, for what they are worth, they do show a huge range of material conditions in different countries. Income per head of the average person in the poorer countries must be below that of all but the very poorest individuals in the wealthier ones. And, so far as comparisons across time are valid, the figures are consistent with my earlier argument that environmental conditions in developed countries in the 1930s were already better than in many 3rd-world countries today. In so far as the Flynn Effect is due to economic development (and if it isn’t, what is it due to?), we would therefore expect IQ in those 3rd-world countries to be substantially ‘behind’ that of developed countries today.

“A variety of sources indicate that GDP per head in 1930 in the UK in real terms (i.e. allowing for price inflation since then) was about a quarter of its present level. “

– The ‘one quarter’ estimate has been given by a number of economic commentators, e.g. here.

– The economic history website eh.net gives a figure of £3,619 per head for UK GDP per head in 1930 in 1995 prices. This may be converted to 2002 prices by the 2002:1995 ratio of the Retail Price Index, which is 176:149, giving £3,619 x 1.18 = £4270. This is just under a quarter of GDP per head for 2002.

– B R Mitchell’s British Historical Statistics (1988) gives UK GDP in 1930 as £4142 million. Dividing by the 1930 population figure of 46 million gives about £95 per head in 1930 prices. Price inflation between 1930 and 1994 was approximately x 32, giving £3040 in 1994 prices, and updating this by the RPI increase between 1994 and 2002 gives £3040 x 1.22 = £3709. This is somewhat lower than the other estimates, but not badly adrift given the different data sources.

– The ‘one quarter’ estimate is also consistent with an average annual growth rate of between 2 and 3 per cent over the period, which is supported by other data.

Posted by David B at 07:15 AM

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I know The New Republic has fact checkers, but….

There is an article over at The New Republic (subscribers only-like 90% of their good stuff now!) about the Muslims of Suriname. I clicked and was thinking about purchasing it when I noticed this: “And while Islam is the majority faith….”. From what I recall, Islam isn’t the majority faith, and neither is it the plural majority faith. Here are numbers I found….

CIA FACTBOOK: Hindus 27.4%, Protestant 25.2%, Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indigenous beliefs 5%.

These numbers are copied in many locations, but you can go to Adherents.com to double-check and see that the range of numbers from various sources is pretty close to this.

Also, the article starts out noting that an Ahmadiyya Mosque stands at the heart of the capital. The author perhaps discusses later that the Ahmadiyya are considered heretics by most Sunnis, and in many places Muslims insist they not call themselves Muslims-I don’t know-I wasn’t going to pay for an article that had such a big factual error up front.

The main reason I’m picking on them is because all the publicity over the whole Stephen Glass episode is coming back in movie and novel form, so I figured they’d be a bit stricter about fact-checking….

Posted by razib at 03:22 PM

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Via Conrad:

West Bank – Rofayda Qaoud – raped by her brothers and impregnated – refused to commit suicide, her mother recalls, even after she bought the unwed teenager a razor with which to slit her wrists. So Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud says she did what she believes any good Palestinian parent would: restored her family’s “honor” through murder.

Full article.

Reminds me of the post about Arab porn from last year:

“The whole town is satisfied and dissatisfied at once,” said local man Fathi Sultan. “Satisfied at what happened, because we tried to protect our honor, but on the other hand dissatisfied because she (Kashua) didn’t die, nor her husband.”

Kashua’s brother endorsed the attack on the couple. “If I could, I would eat them both raw and spit them out,” he told Israeli television, his face obscured and first name withheld.

Posted by razib at 01:50 AM

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Homos in Georgia

Seems like the our family tree keeps on getting bushier. They just found some ancient pre-sapien Homos in the Republic of Georgia. Being skull & bones science, they aren’t sure if it’s Homo erectus (the favorite), Homo habilis (an older form) or something else entirely. The importance of the find is that it dates from 1.75 million years B.P., while Homo erectus seems to have speciated from habilis about 1.9 million years ago. That means that hominids left Africa far earlier than we had thought….

Posted by razib at 04:48 PM

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