Sunday, March 11, 2012

Science book delayed when someone notices it's written by creationists - GrrlScientist - The Guardian

Thanks to CargoUK for the link.

Once again, Evil Scientists have thwarted a plan by those vile Creationists to take over the world

William Dembski, who does not approve of this piece.

Creation Science and its more moderate offspring, Intelligent Design (ID), have never been taken seriously by scientists. This is because most of the actual science is poor, and in ID, at least, is never about the designer. Because of this, ID's supporters have difficulty publishing in the scientific literature, so they have to resort to other methods of getting their message out, like starting their own journal. Their latest ruse is to hold a conference and publish a book of conference proceedings.

This all unravelled last week when someone noticed. A long time ID watcher known online as "sparc" saw that the German publishers, Springer-Verlag, announced a book edited with the title Biological Information: New Perspectives. The editors of the book were well known names: Robert Marks II, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Bruce Gordon, and John Sanford. Despite clearly being an ID book (more on that below), it was being published in the "Intelligent Systems Reference Library" series in Engineering and Applied Science, i.e., not in biology. The more cynical (sensu Sir Humphrey) suspected this was an attempt to get the book through the Springer review process by sending it to an editor less likely to understand the context of the book and its proposal. The senior editor (Marks) is a computer scientist, who apparently is well respected in his field, and it may be that his reputation helped steer the book proposal through the publisher.

After some digging around by ID watchers, the following story has emerged. The book is a collection of papers presented at a meeting held on the campus of Cornell University, in the School of Hotel Administration(!). About 120 people were invited, including roughly 27 speakers. Presumably this was arranged by John Sanford, who is a "courtesy professor" at Cornell (meaning, he was a professor, but retired in 1998, evidently to spend more time with his gene gun).

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A good summary

Steven Novella
NeuroLogica blog

We live in an increasingly complex society. There is a proliferation of clever strategies to deceive you, including in areas that require a great deal of expertise to sort out. We can no longer take comfort (if we ever could) in the notion that the trappings of legitimacy are a reasonable guide to what is legitimate. Universities have been infiltrated by all manner of pseudoscience, their good names abused to provide legitimacy for nonsense. False controversies are manufactured to erode confidence in legitimate science, while ideological journals are invented to pretend to be part of the mainstream scientific literature. Docudramas can dress up fiction as if it were fact. The quality of journalism is eroding while it is getting more challenging to separate scientific truth from pseudoscientific fiction. Meanwhile the internet has made the dissemination of information so fast that it’s a challenge just to keep up. It has also drastically reduced the price of pretending to be a legitimate organization – all you need now is a slick website.

The purveyors of pseudoscience are also getting slicker at distorting and getting around the institutions of science and academia, while eroding confidence in those institutions. The two movements that have perhaps been the most successful at this are alternative medicine and creationism, and there is remarkable overlap in their strategies (for example, the use of “health care freedom” laws and “academic freedom” laws respectively).

Recently we learned about creationists infiltrating geologist scientific meetings in order to spread stealth creationism.

From Grrlscientist in The Guardian we now have a story of another clever attempt by creationists to manufacture false trappings of scientific legitimacy. The story starts with a meeting organized at Cornell University of a bunch of intelligent design (ID)/creationists.  How did such a meeting take place? Well, first off it was held in the School of Hotel Administration. It was organized by John Sanford, a young earth creationist who is a courtesy professor at Cornell (i.e. retired). The conference consisted of the usual ID suspects giving the usual information theory, evolution can’t explain the complexity of life nonsense.

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