A Scientific* Experiment

* Not scientific.


I normally don’t read Denyse O’Leary, because I like Canada too much to taint my mental image of it with her ignorant hackery. But for the past few days, she’s had a series of posts at Happy Dembski’s House of ID Circle-Jerk called about “Access Research Network’s top ten media-related intelligent design stories for 2009”.

But since it says “intelligent design stories” in the series title, I thought I’d conduct an experiment:

Hypothesis:

Half or more of the “intelligent design” stories are really just evolution-bashing.

Experimental procedure:

I will read the “Top Ten Media-Related Intelligent Design Stories for 2009”, as chosen by ARN and/or O’Leary. Or at least skim them until I get bored or distracted by shiny things. Or at least read the headline.

I will then evaluate whether they present evidence for ID, or merely constitute science-bashing, using the Behe-cross technique[1], and tally[2] my results.

Methodology:

This will be an open trial, unless the articles are so stupid that I poke my eye out, in which case the experiment will be blind. In case of extreme stupidity, it may even turn out to be double-blind.

Control:

If necessary, I will read Pharyngula, Hemant Mehta, Wonkette and the label of that bottle of Médoc I’ve been saving, until I regain my self-control.


[1] This experimental technique, which consists of dismissing evidence without reading it, has a long informal history, but it was formalized and made famous Michael Behe at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial.

[2] Tally Tal”ly, adv. [See Tall, a.]
Stoutly; with spirit. [Obs.] –Beau. & Fl.
Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (1913).

That is, I plan on having a glass of porter stout or other spirits while writing up the results.


Results:

Summary of ARN’s Top 10 Science News Stories:

Rank Title #Evo #ID
1 Texas Requires Critical Analysis of Evolution 5 0
2 Louisiana Implements Academic Freedom Act 4 0
3 Polls Show that Americans Overwhelmingly Support Academic Freedom in Evolution Education 7 0
4 The Darwin Bicentennial Bust 6 0
5 Discover Magazine Names Forrest Mims to Top 50 Brains in Science List 2 3
6 California Science Center Sued over Cancellation of Darwin’s Dilemma Film Showing 3 4
7 Michael Behe Expelled from Bloggingheads 1 1
8 Federal Court Dismisses Evolutionist Lawsuit in Texas 4 0
9 Ben Stein Expelled from the University of Vermont 2 1
10 Evolutionary Psychology Finally Comes Under Media Attack 2 0
Rank: the story’s rank in ARN’s list. Title: the story’s title. #Evo: the number of times the words “evolution” or “Darwin” are mentioned in ARN’s summary. #ID: the number of times the words “ID” or “intelligent design” are mentioned in ARN’s summary.

Several broad themes emerged, the most popular being “Teach the controversy!” (stories 1, 2, 3, and 6). It was followed closely by “Help! Help! We’re being repressed!” (stories 5, 7, and 9). Stories 4 and 10 represented the “Evolution is doomed! DOOOOOOMED!” category. Story 8 arguably falls into the “Fluff” category. Or perhaps the “It’s Okay When We Do It” category.

Conclusion:

Creationists are still a bunch of WATBs. Not a single piece of evidence for ID made their top 10 list. And since any such evidence, had it existed, would undoubtedly have made the top 10 list, it’s safe to conclude that there isn’t any.

Under hypothesis, above, I said I expected over half of the stories to fail to purport to provide any support for ID, but I’m surprised that they didn’t stick a single “Complexity complexity complexity” story in there.

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