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When scientific models fail

Scientific models are more of an art than a science. It is much easier to recognize a good scientific model than to make one of our own. Like for an art, the best way to learn is to look at the work from the masters and take inspiration from them. One of the crown jewels of modern science is undoubtedly Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. I recently realized that I had no idea how Darwin stood against creationism and how he defended his view in regard of the doxa of his time. Digging into this topic turned out to be one the most important lessons I learned about the scientific method... and the lack of it.

Darwin touches vividly upon creationism at the end of “On the Origin of Species”. In his own words, he claims that

It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the ‘plan of creation’, ‘unity of design’, etc, and to think that we give an explanation when we only restate a fact.

What strikes me here is that he does not accuse the ‘plan of creation’ and the ‘unity of design’ of not being proper scientific concepts. The real...






Lessons from Intelligent Design

The first time I heard a friend of mine — a clever guy — claim that he does not believe in Evolution, I was speechless. Over the years I realized something important: he is not alone. As much as 40% of US citizens believe in strict creationism, while only ~ 15% believe in Evolution (source: Gallup polls).

The latest incarnation of creationism, Intelligent Design, received some media attention during the trial of the Dover Area School District. Following the annoucement that Intelligent Design will be taught side by side with Evolution at the biology classes, a group of parents sued the public school district and finally convinced the judges that this constitutes a breach of the First Amendment of the constitution.

In essence, Intelligent Design claims to build on scientific observations. The rationale of the argument is that biological organisms, human beings in particular, are too complex to be the product of chance. They are designed. And if there is a design, there must be a designer.

Crimestop

If you have read George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, you will perhaps remember the fictive language Newspeak. By removing words from the English vocabulary, the powers that be gradually enclose the...






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