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Et tu, TCS?

August 9th, 2005 · 6 Comments

Y’know, I frequently disagree with pieces TechCentralStation runs—I expect to—but I don’t usually expect to feel embarassed for them. On Monday they ran this ridiculous defense of Intelligent Design, and I’m embarassed for them.

The awfulness begins in the very first line, when the author, who has a degree in metorology, makes a disingenuously vague reference to his status as a “Ph.D. scientist” at the start of an article about biology—a field about which he then demonstrates at some painful length he’s signally unqualified to comment. There follows the predictable appeal to the “open minded,” as though a lack of patience with patently religiously motivated, serially debunked cavilling at an overwhelming scientific consensus were a kind of character flaw. Then some howlers about the lack of instances of observed speciation (though the logic of granting the existence of change within species but finding it implausible that this could culminate in new species has always escaped me) and transitional forms, some sub-Paley type amateur philosophizing, and of course the tiresome I’m-rubber-you’re-glue-your-science-is-faith-too business.

I say this not by way of rebuttal—that would treat the article with a seriousness it scarcely merits—but just to express a modicum of dismay that a site that runs a fair amount of science reporting that, whether or not it happens to be correct on other points, is at any rate serious and interesting, would commit this kind of credibility seppuku. The gross lapse in editorial judgement evinced by the decision to run this piece will leave the intellectually serious casual reader fully justified in dismissing anything that appears there in the future—which would be a shame.

Tags: Science



6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Caliban // Aug 9, 2005 at 12:40 pm

    Yeah, that was really, really disappointing. TCS has some excellent articles, but then some that are just… silly. Given that so many writers there (I think) posit the alternate view, maybe they’re just trying to diversify…

  • 2 mdahmus // Aug 9, 2005 at 6:03 pm

    Anybody surprised at this point by TCS hasn’t been reading enough, or is fairly biased themselves. They haven’t been ‘science-friendly’ for as long as I can remember; they’ve been wrapping up Republican talking points with a thin veneer of pseudo-science.

  • 3 steve koppelman // Aug 10, 2005 at 9:42 am

    Why is it surprising that a lobbying firm would commission someone to write a piece advocating a viewpoint that a client wants to promote?

    It’s like being surprised that Frito-Lay’s ad agency has put out a commercial for Cheetos.

  • 4 steve koppelman // Aug 10, 2005 at 11:26 am

    Oh, and maybe it’s time to reëvaluate how “serious and interesting” the rest of that “science” “reporting” commissioned for their clients is.

    At least you’re getting a belated lesson in the perils of mistaking a press release archive gussied up in newsmagazine drag for a source of credible journalism. The fact that friends and colleagues of yours get freelancing gigs at TCS and often write things they believe to be true doesn’t make TCS credible. It just means your colleagues can be counted on to write something on the assigned issue that endorses the agenda of one of their clients.

  • 5 fling93 // Aug 10, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    I don’t read TCS often, but what I have read never impressed me either.

  • 6 bakho // Aug 10, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    It isn’t just that ID is theology and not science. ID is bad theology. ID is a “God of the Gaps” philosophy. If science lacks an explanation (or is thought to lack an explanation) then ID replaces the gap in our knowledge with God. Unfortunately for God, science keeps shrinking the gaps in our knowledge and God shrinks with every new advance in science. For this reason many theologians and people of faith reject ID. It is bad theology that creates a constantly shrinking God and places religion squarely at odds with science progress.

    Personally, I don’t think public schools should teach theology. More importantly, public schools should not be teaching bad theology that conflicts with the religious beliefs of many Americans.