Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Singham's Law. To use when discussing ID and science

I've really enjoyed the work of Mano Singham* on his blog. Here he postulates a "law" like Goodwin's "law":

I was thinking that this might be a good model to follow in finding a resolution to the interminable discussions over whether so-called 'intelligent design' theory (ID) is a part of science. My rule would read as follows:

"As soon as the advocates of any theory go to legislative or other non-scientific bodies to get their theory labeled as a science, they have lost the argument and their theory is automatically declared to be not a science."

Why do we need such a rule? Because ID advocates are the latest in a long line of people who have tried to bypass the normal processes of science by going outside the scientific community to implement their agenda.

The aspect of Godwin's "law" about "losing the argument" isn't one I find interesting, but it can be useful to bat down people who run out of reasons. On the other hand it can also be used by people to bat down VALID comparisons when they are necessary. Just like calling everything EXTREME waters down actual EXTREME things.

I don't usually argue with ID people, but if I did I'd probably find the need to invoke this law. On the other hand, what are these anti-science people doing using computers forums to argue in? Maybe it should be, "why don't you carve your views in a clay tablet and walk it over to my house?"

*Singham is a theoretical physicist and currently Director of UCITE (University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.


coho said...

Hiya, Spocko!

It's too bad that the ID people are not, in any way, open to a discussion of the matter. They KNOW (gnosis) they're right and everybody else (those who don't KNOW (agnosis)) is wrong. Just ask them, they'll tell you. (Actually, I don't recommend really asking, it opens up a can of worms that is extremely hard to reclose, and the lid never quite fits right again.)

Singham's blog is good, I've added it to my list (not as close to the top as Spocko's Brain, of course).

While he doesn't swing out Godwin's law in it (he does in many of his other writings), it seems to me that Rocks of Ages (Stephen Jay Gould, 1999) puts forth the best (for the layman) argument why the "conflict" of science and religion is specious and unnecessary. They are apples and oranges. It's like saying you can have literature (which stays the same no matter who reads it) or extemporaneous oral stories (which are a little different every time) but not both*. On pain of death and damnation.

Great, now I'm all worked up and I have to go to work now.

Peace and long life, Spocko.

*My analogy, not Gould's.

11:13 AM  
spocko said...

Hi Coho: Thanks for stopping by.
And thanks for being a reader. I agree that ID people don't usually like to discuss this.

Maybe I'll check out Stephen Jay Gould's book.

Sorry I got you worked up, hope you have a great work day!

2:37 PM  

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