Via Richard Dawkin's website, I've been made aware that Truth in Science recently featured on Newsnight. The clip posted there rather annoyingly cuts off before the end of the segment, but I've found another, full version on YouTube:
The report states that 59 secondary schools (out of 4,230) have accepted the Truth in Science packs, although again there is no indication of how this number was arrived at, or what "accepted" means: wrote effusive thank you note? didn't return it or say they'd binned it? The interview at the end involves Paxman, head of Truth in Science Andy Macintosh, and Lewis Wolpert. I'd love to say otherwise, but Wolpert didn't do very well really. There was lots of huffing and puffing about how "it's not science, it's religion"; this is true, of course, but makes him easy to charicature as a "flustered defender of the crumbling Darwinian Orthodoxy". To be effective in such situations, pro-science people need to stay calm, and focus on getting some important points out to the average viewer:
- Scientists have no trouble with criticism of evolution, or any theory - that's how science works, and how it progresses. But we'd prefer those criticisms not be ones that have been shown, time and again, to be flawed. For example, any criticism which rails against "random chance" is not a criticism of evolution, because it's ignoring the 'selection' part of natural selection.
- Furthermore, to properly interpret criticism you need a firm theoretical understanding of the theory you're criticising. The level of instruction provided by the National Curriculum is scant enough, without muddying the waters further with pseudoscience that the students are ill-equipped to evaluate rigorously.
- And let's be clear - "evolution can't explain x, therefore ID" is not an example of the scientific method in action, and "an unspecified intelligence at some point did something to DNA by some unspecified mechanism" is not a scientific hypothesis. When you make some positive hypotheses about the nature of God- sorry, The Designer- and when and how he has done his designing, and show (by experiment, not assertion) that your hypotheses explain the facts better than evolution does, then biologists might start taking ID seriously.
- Please, please stop waffling on about information being separate from energy and matter. Information is a property of energy and matter. It's like saying that you can have "chocolate flavour" without the ice cream.
Sadly, in this case I think the only hit was scored by Paxman when he pressed Macintosh on who he thought the Designer was - and got nothing but weasel in reply.