The nice guys are over there, in last place.

“And now we go to Tony, calling from Orlando. Tony, are you there?”

“Hey, dittos, Rush. Longtime listener, first time caller. I just wanted to call and ask you what’s up with all this global warming stuff. I mean, is the planet really getting warmer, and are people to blame?”

“Well Tony, I’ll tell you. I have an opinion on that, but some people find my style brash and offensive, so I’m just going to sit back and shut up and let someone nicer try and defend the conservative point of view.”

Does that sound a bit strange? It might, if you’ve ever listened to Rush Limbaugh, or Bill O’Reilly, or James Dobson, or D. James Kennedy, or any of the other conservative masters of “framing.” And yet, some people are seriously suggesting that the above approach is the one PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins ought to be taking, in the interests of “framing” science. Don’t the “framing” advocates ever listen to how real framing is actually done, by those whose apparent success is the reason we even want to frame science in the first place?

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Who’s smarter, God or Darwin?

Over at ScienceBlogs, the topic of “framing” has come up again (and again). I generally agree with Rosenhouse: for science to make peace with irrational superstition so that the two can live side by side in the same society is like the sheep making peace with the wolves so the pack and the flock can mingle. It may cut down on the running around in the short term, but it’s unlikely to be beneficial in the long run (i.e. in however long it takes the wolves to get hungry again). The task of understanding how the world really is, and denial that the world can differ in any way from the dogmatic pronouncements of the Bronze Age, are two fundamentally incompatible things.

However, in the spirit of a good challenge, I’d like to propose a new “frame” for presenting evolution to the creationism-minded. It goes like this: Who is smarter, God or Darwin? If Charles Darwin is smart enough to think up a biological system that would allow life to adapt to changing environments, and to recover from extinctions and other catastrophes, and to flourish in many creative and diverse ways most wonderful, then do you think a divine Creator would be clever enough to come up with a system that was as well-thought-out as Darwin’s?

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PZ in trouble again

There goes PZ Myers, getting himself in trouble with religious folks again.

And of course some people took umbrage at my rude dismissal of religion. Then it started getting more fun. People actually told me I should be gentler with people’s illusions as a way to win them towards my “side” … which I have to disagree with on principle. I don’t think I gain anything by lying to people about what I think, my “side” isn’t the one that is mired in delusions, and it’s not as if there’s a shortage of scientists who will happily and without qualification encourage people who try to use religious fol-de-rol to justify evolution, and vice versa.

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Framing Science?

Via the Framing Science blog, a success story about getting things done by properly “framing” the science behind the policy:

The unprecedented success at translating expert recommendations into a policy victory is in no small part due to the strategic framing of the initiative. The complexities of this bill were put in terms that policymakers and the public could understand, value, and support. As one backer described: “We quit talking about the virtues of science in the abstract and started talking about its impact on jobs. Everybody understands jobs.”

While this is good news, it illustrates a problem I have with the whole “framing” debate. Read the rest of this entry »

Pharyngula: Another round in the Kleiman/Myers skirmish

PZ Myers has another go at those who claim that it’s wrong to criticize someone else’s belief in God. In so doing, he voices a frequently-expressed opinion that, in my view, does a bad job of (should I say it?) “framing” the debate.

I am saying precisely that belief in god is wrong because there is no empirical or theoretical support for it; there is a concatenation of myths leavened with post-hoc justifications for them, which is not the same thing.

There’s something unsatisfactory about saying that there is no evidence for God. After all, we learn new things all the time. Just because we say “there is no evidence for God” doesn’t mean that evidence might not exist somewhere. It just means we haven’t seen any (yet).

To me, that argument comes up short. Read the rest of this entry »