Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is the Designer the Designed?

I'm wasting time following the "Intelligent Design"/Atheism debate. It's time to end it. I became interested in the faux issue only because it dealt directly with copyright issues in Kansas. I soon realized it was simply a childish debate over whether or not a god "out there" exists.

At first one may ask - "ID versus Atheism? I thought the debate was ID versus Evolution!" Well with many references to Darwinism it's understandable that one would come to such a conclusion.

In reality, this is about the age-old and pointless debate over the existence of "Him". Unfortunately, science has been unjustly cast into this battle. That is, evolution has been conflated with traditional atheistic and materialistic beliefs. For whatever reason, the image of the "Atheistic Scientist" has been popularized - regardless of the fact that one can accept universal common descent yet simultaneously deny the extreme materialistic stance. That is, one can accept evolution yet simultaneously question materialism.

William Dembski's tirade on "Darwinism and its atheistic pretensions" offers enough of a clue that the ID "movement" is not genuine, but merely an agenda. In another article, Dembski claims that "Intelligent design is not and never will be a doctrine of creation." yet follows this with the statement that ID "merely concerns itself with features of natural objects that reliably signal the action of an intelligence, whatever that intelligence might be." (emphasis added) Creationism or not, the use of the preposition/article "of an" and pronoun "that" are dead give-aways that Dembski's ID is about injecting the judeo-christian-islamic view of a single separate god into human consciousness. ID subtly sells "the designer" as nature's fuel while giving undue importance to the side-note that ID says nothing concrete about "the designer" itself. Indeed, a clever way to avoid the creationist label, but dogmatic garbage nonetheless.

Richard Dawkins, why atheism? It's not relevant to evolution. The theists are the ones with the burden of proof. We know one can neither prove nor disprove theistic claims (or leprechauns for that matter) through science. Science has it place, but exists through division of the observer and the observed. This division - though useful in gathering technical knowledge - is not reality and must not be worshiped the way many materialists do. After all, quantum theory casts a dubious cloud over the very belief that the observer is separate from the observed. Perhaps both extremes could learn from this branch of (un)knowledge. That is, science - you have a legitimate place but that's not all there is. Thought, no matter how grand, is limited. And theists? Why accept and invent absurd, superstitious beliefs to explain what you do not know?

Bill Dembski - arguably IDs most popular proponent - we hear you have a Ph.D. in philosophy. You claim to have studied other philosophies but write them off as "eastern mysticism" and "occultism" since your "conversion to Christianity". A separate, intelligent, "designer" Bill? Chew on this for a while and get back to me, would you...?

What if intelligence just is. That is, what if the designer is the designed? What does this make us?

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

It is a Serious Offense to Block God

Over at William Patry's copyright blog is discussion concerning the Kansas science curriculum. William encourages dialog by stating...
"I am very much in favor of dialogue and would be happy to see Kansas create their own work and in that work criticize NAS, or vice versa. That would be a fair use. But what I have been assuming is going on is Kansas wanting to reproduce NAS's stuff in toto with any comment."
...and I completely agree with him. I suggest the NAS and NSTA release their curriculum under a creative commons, non-derivative and non-commercial license (or something similar - the point is, control over derivation). That way, students are not harmed by losing quality materials, and the content is put up for - as William says - criticism, but not for cannibalism unless permission is granted. The same would go for any "ID" approved curriculum. The two (or more) could quote each other under "fair use". This would also silence Intelligent Design critics who claim that the NAS and NSTA's intent for hoarding curriculum is to "censor".

Why a CC license? First, speaking as an educator, any educational institution authoring curriculum in the digital age that cannot be shared for non-commercial and/or no-derivative puposes without permission is clearly operating on questionable educational ethics. However, "some rights reserved" are appropriate. Second, a CC-license will maximize the distribution potential of the curriculum. This will allow teachers from all over the world to contribute toward and critique the development of the respective curricula.

My prediction if this happens:

I think science will shake in its boots once I get a chance to contribute to the FSM curriculum. I will make science pay for blatently attempting to stifle the Word about His Noodly Appendage by using copyright as an obstacle. It is a serious offense to block god.

We believers already have a head start on some of the most recent research.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Friday, November 11, 2005

Robertson Warns of His Noodly Appendage

Pat Robertson has warned those who recently voted out eight members of Dover, Pennsylvania's board of education that the wrath of the "intelligent designer" may be coming.

Although Pat and I may disagree on the makeup of the "intelligent designer", I wholeheartedly agree with him that Dover may soon feel a lash or two of His noodly appendage. Surely it should be of no surprise to anyone if meat-eoric-sized meatballs come raining down like hellfire upon the city that has rejected Him.

Those who dare to deny Him have been warned.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What's the Intent?

Jennifer Granick has recently written an article for Wired that caught my eye.

Jennifer makes the claim that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) are unjustly using their copyrighted science education standards manuals to manipulate the Kansas State Board of Education. The board has recently ruled in favor of "teaching" Intelligent Design.

In her article, she accurately cites a few examples of dubious overreaching control exercised by copyright holders. Some examples with which Jennifer informs us include...
  • Disney distributing "its movie trailers with a license that says recipients may not use the trailers to criticize the company or the entertainment industry."
  • Diebold's challenge "of college students concerned about election fraud for publishing e-mails in which the company's employees complain about problems with electronic voting machines."
  • Cisco Systems suing "security researcher Mike Lynn for revealing certain information about flaws in its routers"
  • Scientology attacking "critics that document their complaints with excerpts from the church's texts"
  • NBC rejecting "filmmaker Robert Greenwald's request to pay for permission to use a one-minute clip of President Bush fumbling through an explanation for the war in Iraq on the grounds that the clip is "not very flattering to the president."
I agree with Jennifer that these particular examples demonstrate unjust attempts to use copyright privileges in a suspicious and questionable manner. But my question is - what is the intent of those egregiously pushing the power of the copyright envelope?

Disney's intent is clearly to protect itself. Criticism can lead to public backlash which can lead to a loss of profit. Diebold clearly is in the same boat. Any public criticism will expedite the eventual realization that using F/OSS is the only secure way to build an electronic voting infrastructure. Their intent is obviously to protect their position of power and thus their profit. Cisco? Same thing. Self-protection. Scientology? Same thing. After all, you need to silence critics if you are to indoctrinate the masses, crush independent thinking, and propagate your point of view as the "right" one. NBC with Greenwald? Same thing. Criticism of those in power (i.e. Bush) who share a bed with you must be squelched. Anything that may make the president look daft could come back to hurt your bottom-line as a corporate media giant.

But what is the intent of the NAS and the NSTA?

Jennifer says, "But we have to call the game fairly.", and asks - "Where are the copyright liberals when right-wing conservatives need us?"

But I don't see this as a "game" nor do I see the intent in the Kansas case to be fairly conflated with the examples above. Although I do not necessarily agree that the revocation of educational materials would be a positive result, I sincerely believe that the Kansas Board of Education's intent is to protect children and the integrity of scientific discovery - not to protect themselves or any profit mechanism. Personally, I sympathize with their position. If the NAS and the NSTA can wrestle some sense of sanity back into the curriculum with this tactic, then I can only choose to fully support such a maneuver.

Clearly, their intent is authentic and - paradoxically - in the interests of education even though it involves the threat of hoarding curriculum standards.

As Jennifer states - "Kansas is scrambling to rewrite its proposal to win over the NAS and NSTA." Let's wait and see how this pans out before crying foul.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Manipulating Massachusetts

Well that didn't take long.

Back on September 6th, I stated -
"A "donation" here or there to the right political organizations ... may keep Massachusetts divided and conquered by everyone's favorite corporate entity."
Yep. Even though any objective technologist not partaking in consciousness-altering substances clearly sees that the move to the OpenDocument standard is a no-brainer, politics mixed with corporate greed has reared its ugly head.

It now appears as though the obviously beneficial move to an open standard will likely be squelched. The propaganda has been in full swing as the "business community" (i.e. Microsoft) has rallied the troops putting OpenDocument in a false spotlight of doubt.

An amendment to Senate bill 2256 may put the move on hold and require a four-member task force, appointed by the governor, to critique any possible change. Oh but here is the best part..."at least two of them will be representatives from the business community."

Wait a sec. I thought government worked for and represented the interests of "the people"?

Oh well. That's ok. I'm sure an intelligent and thoughtful person is currently governing the state of Massachusetts. Someone who doesn't buy into propaganda and looks to protect citizen rights. Someone who uses reason to make key decisions. Oh's Mitt Romney. He's the governor who is anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, and against same-sex marriage. He also vetoed a bill to fund stem-cell research, vetoed an emergency contraception bill, and believes wiretapping mosques is going to make America safe.

1-0 Microsoft Corporation.