Intelligent voters vs. “intelligent design”

Kansans turn out to be smarter than Ann Coulter.

Kansans aren’t as dumb as the anti-science fanatics hoped they were.


Footnote If I were an actual conservative, I’d resent the use of “conservative” as synonymous with “stubbornly ignorant” and “liberal” as meaning “favorable to science.” As a liberal, I’m happy to have conservatism associated with obscurantism at the state level as well as incompetence and corruption at the federal level.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

8 thoughts on “Intelligent voters vs. “intelligent design””

  1. You can't confuse creationists with the facts. They know what they want the truth to be.
    Another idea that is being floated by some of these crackpots is that there is no such thing as gravity. Things fall because God wills them to. And the beauty of it is that nobody can prove it isn't true.

  2. Creationists reject science for three main reasons. First, it bit Christianity in the ass when they bought into the "law-like universe" idea as proof of God's existence. Turns out you can work up a theory of the universe without God, so from Johnathan Edwards on evangelical protestants were mainly anti-science. The second reason is unique to the US, in that the first preachers to get out past the frontier were ignorant rubes; when the more educated clerics arrived it was too late. The last reason is biblical:
    From Richard Hofstadter's _Anti-Intellectualism in American Life_:
    "One begins with the hardly contestable proposition that religious faith is not, in the main, propagated by logic or learning. One moves from this to the idea that it is best propagated (in the judgment of Christ and on historical evidence) by men who have been unlearned and ignorant. It seems to follow from this that the kind of wisdom and truth possessed by such men is superior to what learned and cultivated minds have. In fact, learning and cultivation appear to be handicaps in the propagation of faith. And since the propagation of faith is the most important task before man, those who are "ignorant as babes" have, in the most fundamental virtue, greater strength than than men who have abdicated themselves to logic and learning. Accordingly, though one shrinks from a bald statement of the conclusion, humble ignorance is far better as a human quality than a cultivated mind. At bottom, this proposition, despite all the difficulties that attend it, has been eminently congenial both to American evangelicalism and American democracy."
    If you understand this quote, you understand Geedub in toto.

  3. Some of the phrasing in the Times article made me cringe:
    ". . . restore a science curriculum that does not subject evolution to critical attack."
    ". . . a fierce fight over how much students should be taught about the criticism of evolution . . ."
    As a firm partisan of the Enlightenment and the importance of rational criticism, in science and politics, I am not thrilled with the phrasing adopted by the Times reporters, which seems to imply that the advocates of evolution are opposed to "criticism" of evolution. Later in the article, the Times reporters characterize the controversial standards in such a way as to make it less than clear, why they were controversial.

  4. If you were an actual conservative (or, at least, an anti-science conservative), you'd buy into the argument that broadening science to include supernatural explanations is science done well, while scientists' insisting on naturalism is somehow a religion. (Which is bad!)

  5. Grumpy: I think Mark meant "If I were an actual conservative" in opposition to "If I were an obscurantist anti-rational fundamentalist prick who likes to call himself a conservative." I'm not a conservative, but there is a real, coherent, defensible philosophy called conservatism. What we're seeing in Kansas (and in DC, for that matter) isn't it.

  6. Yes it is good news that the voters of Kansas, Pensylvania and many other places have the good sense to reject the ID non-science. But the rediculously named Discovery Institute will keep on looking for openings to peddle it's nonsense to children who are trying to get an education.
    The ID proponents talk of scietific research and debate but they do no research and submit no papers for peer review. The Discovery Institute runs a propaganda machine with high school students as their target audience. They propose that the "scientific debate" about evolution should take place in high school biology classes across the country.
    There is nothing wrong with advocating an unpopular scientific opinion. All important scientific theories face opposition and must be dragged into the place in the sun. That fight has to be done in the scientific journals and conferenses where the big guys play not in high school classes or school board elections.

  7. @ Grumpy:
    When I teach evolution it takes about 1 day to cover the extant theistic theories and their predictions. Creationism predicts that we'll find sea turtles in the same strata as trilobites, and rabbits next to velociraptors. It also predicts that terrestrial fossils will be found in strata older than marine fossils. None of the predictions of creationism have been found to be true. This whole discussion takes about ten minutes.
    The only other alternative is some variant of ID or perhaps Deism. One can show ID to be wrong with two pepsi bottles connected through a short tube, or by flushing a toilet or striking a match. Complex structures arise all the time when conditions are right, unless you think Elohim is swirling your toilet with his pinky finger.
    So, yeah, it's good to include some discussion of the "alternatives" to evolutionary theory. And show that they totally suxx0r.

  8. Christianity as inherently anti-intellectual? Sounds like Hofstadter never met a Catholic.

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