An “ID” Survey in the Blogosphere

I got a request to respond to a survey, the survey group being those who run pro-science websites and weblogs (though not referred to in quite that way), the particular answers to remain anonymous, and the results to be posted to an “intelligent design” weblog when completed.

The survey has but one question:

On which points are intelligent design and creationism identical? […] (Please check all that apply.)

The options given are, as often happens in amateur surveys, wretchedly incomplete. Here they are:

A. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to have a particular interpretation of the Biblical creation account.

B. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to accept a particular age of the Earth and of the universe.

C. Both creationism and intelligent design require one to reject evolution.

D. Both creationism and intelligent design identify the Christian God as the creator.

E. Both creationism and intelligent design hold that there is an intelligence behind certain features of nature.

F. There are no points of similarity between creationism and intelligent design.

G. None of the above options accurately describe the relationship between creationism and intelligent design.

I hope that others responding to this question, if sticking with the options above, simply respond with “G”.

If nothing else, the author of this survey has managed to overlook the option recently taken by Judge Jones in the decision for the Kitzmiller v. DASD case:

“Intelligent design” (or other labels on the same argument content) is a sham designed to insert the same arguments that were ruled impermissible in previous cases.

Another live option that encapsulates the same relationship without bringing in the legal term “sham” would be:

“Intelligent design” is a subset of the arguments previously labeled “creation science”.

Consider Henry M. Morris of the Institute for Creation Research, who criticized “intelligent design” thus: “It is not really a new approach, using basically the same evidence and arguments used for years by scientific creationists but made to appear more sophisticated with complex nomenclature and argumentation.

I think that people who answer within the current framework, but don’t take option “G”, are likely to respond with option “E”. And I think that the useful rhetoric for “ID” to be gained thereby is to say that even pro-science people don’t see overlap between the religious content of “ID” and SciCre. For various other options given, the “ID” rhetoric is likely to be that the respondents simply “don’t understand ID”, and “how can they make such false criticisms?” The option likely to be touted as the “honest” answer would be “F”, though anyone picking that would have to be pretty much completely ignorant of the argument content of the two labels.

As given, the whole thing looks phonier than a street game of three-card Monte. And like that venerable con, the mark either cannot give the right answer, or is likely to get mugged for doing so.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

15 thoughts on “An “ID” Survey in the Blogosphere

  • 2006/01/29 at 11:20 am
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    I got the same thing, and thought about posting my response (which was about the same as yours) on Pharyngula…but then decided nah, it wasn’t worth the effort, and did the virtual equivalent of crumpling it up and tossing it in the trash.

    I think that, in addition to being a rhetorical tool that would be publicly diddled by the surveyor to meet whatever conclusion he had predetermined, it was a ploy for attention.

  • 2006/01/29 at 12:36 pm
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    PZ, I considered that, and decided that a bit of public education was worthwhile nonetheless, as I suspect that any received responses will be spun. Hopefully, the issues are now clear to other webmasters and bloggers.

  • 2006/01/29 at 1:08 pm
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    Yup. Me too. My reaction was the same as PZ’s, but it may none the less be worth sending people in this direction.

  • 2006/01/29 at 3:29 pm
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    I did respond with “H. ‘Intelligent design’ is a subset of the arguments previously labeled ‘creation science’.”

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  • 2006/01/30 at 8:05 am
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    That’s funny… since when is a survey whose sole question leaves out the main real relationship in question out of the listed options for an answer a part of the “scientific method”?

    Like I said, it was just a setup for a mugging. Thanks for confirming my prescience, Krauze.

  • 2006/01/31 at 4:47 am
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    Wesley Elsberry, why did you see it necessary to notify your fellow bloggers immediately after receiving the poll?

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  • 2006/01/31 at 11:08 am
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    Wesley Elsberry, why did you see it necessary to notify your fellow bloggers immediately after receiving the poll?

    What, do you have a problem with discussion of controversial topics? Do you have a problem with having the “survey” being shown to be radically incomplete and misleading as given? Do you have a problem with letting others know that accepting the options stated overlooks the answer given in recent legal proceedings?

    Should I simply stand by and let others perhaps be misled? I don’t think so.

  • 2006/01/31 at 1:43 pm
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    What, do you have a problem with discussion of controversial topics?

    No.

    Do you have a problem with having the “survey” being shown to be radically incomplete and misleading as given?

    I didn’t see anything “radically incomplete and misleading” with it. I would understand you better, if Krauze HAD published the results, and his/her results had lied about bloggers real position. But I dont’t understand: “why the rush in criticizing a poll that hadn’t been published yet?”

    Should I simply stand by and let others perhaps be misled?

    ) If someone had choosed (for example) C, why he/she would have been misled? (Especially, if he/she himself/herself thinks that C is correct)

  • 2006/01/31 at 6:49 pm
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    I didn’t see anything “radically incomplete and misleading” with it.

    It did not include in the stated options, “‘Intelligent design’ (or other labels on the same argument content) is a sham designed to insert the same arguments that were ruled impermissible in previous cases,” which is the import of the ruling in Kitzmiller v. DASD. If you can’t see that leaving that out is a major omission, I doubt there’s anything further that can be gained by discussion. It is an indication of either base incompetence in survey design, rank ignorance of the relevant topic, or a deliberate attempt to mislead. I think those alternatives cover the live possibilities.

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  • 2006/02/13 at 11:58 am
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    See http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/sternberg_compl.html

    First, what OSC flack McVay reports NCSE did, then Nick Matzke’s brief response:

    Eventually, they [the Smithsonian higher-ups] determined that they could not terminate you [Sternberg] for cause and they were not going to make you a “martyr” by firing you for publishing a paper on ID. They came to the conclusion that you had not violated SI directives and that you could not be denied access for off-duty conduct. This was actually a part of the strategy advocated by the NCSE. (OSC opinion, p. 5)

    How devious of NCSE, recommending that Sternberg not be fired from his unpaid position! Even more devious, the Smithsonian appears to have taken this advice! Will the crimes of NCSE never cease?

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