First, PZ Myers, noted and eminent science blogger and professor, was not admitted to a pre-screening of the film Expelled!, an ID drive-by documentary on evolution, and blogged about how he was thrown out at the whim of the producers. (Previous post: here.)
Myers's guest, Richard Dawkins, was admitted without fuss (as the producers probably did not recognize him, and when asked to show identification, he produced his British passport under his legal name, "Clinton Richard Dawkins.")
It must be noted that both Myers and Dawkins appear in the film Expelled!, for which they were interviewed under false pretenses, and the piecemeal editing of their interviews was journalistically unethical.
After some brouhaha, Matthew Nesbit, a professor of communications, blogged:
"As long as Dawkins and PZ continue to be the representative voices from the pro-science side in this debate, it is really bad for those of us who care about promoting public trust in science and science education. Dawkins and PZ need to lay low as Expelled hits theaters. Let others play the role of communicator, most importantly the National Center for Science Education, AAAS, the National Academies or scientists such as Francis Ayala or Ken Miller. When called up by reporters or asked to comment, Dawkins and PZ should refer journalists to these organizations and individuals."
At the risk here of being arch, isn't "communications" what people who flunk out of business major in?
More to the point, Nesbit is utterly wrong. He compares the evolution vs. ID debate to politics, comparing Myers and Dawkins to, "Samantha Power, Geraldine Ferraro and so many other political operatives who through misstatements and polarizing rhetoric have ended up being liabilities to the causes and campaigns that they support."
This comparison is a fallacy.
Science is not politics, which is convincing a majority of the people that your political theory is the correct one to vote for on the day of elections in the majority of the voting districts. Politics seeks to create consensus.
Science is the truth. Myers and Dawkins should not be compared to Power and Ferraro, but to Galileo, Darwin, and Copernicus. No matter what the ID guys believe, they're wrong. Convincing more people that creationism is valid will not make it less wrong. Religionists' balking at evolution is just another example of irrational, superstitious flailing.
Nesbit's whole philosophy, "Framing Science," in which mostly non-scientists try to reconcile science with religion, which are several systems of contradictory and unsubstantiated beliefs, is a waste of time.
Yes, we should try to break it gently to religionists that they've been utterly wrong all these years, but eventually, the obvious truth of science will prevail. It's only a matter of time, another scientific concept.
I admit, when I saw Nesbit's blog and its title, "Framing Science," I thought it was a provocative anti-science blog, like when the cops "frame" someone for a crime. Perhaps that wasn't the best moniker for their movement. You would think that a communications major might have thought of that.
Another non-scientist "framing" guy, Chris Mooney, blogged that the PZ Myers controversy is giving the film loads of free publicty, is thus counter-productive, and also suggested that Myers should refrain from more discussion.
Nesbit's post led PZ Myers to this sputtering reply, which is perhaps less eloquent than his usual posts but heartfelt, in which he said in part, "Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice."
Again, scientists are not politicians, who strive to form consensus or convince voters, or religionists, who seek to silence the opposing viewpoint.
People should go see that film and laugh at it for the dreck it is. The public should understand that Dawkins and Myers were interviewed under false presenses (the film makers told them it was a documentary about science and education, not a religion drive-by of evolution,) and with shoddy journalistic ethics (including the old trick of setting the camera and the interviewer at 90 degrees to each other, and thus the subject looks back and forth between the camera and the interviewer, producing a "shify-eyed" effect that is associated with lying or unreliability.)
Scientists seek the truth, and when we find it, we tell other people the truth. If there are contrary opinions, we debate the evidence and logically decide whose model is more accurate.
That's the problem with non-scientists like Mooney and Nesbit. They're operating in the rhelm of opinion, not truth. They're seeking to sway people with propaganda, not evidence and logic. They're using the enemy's faulty weapons against the enemy, who designed them, have the blueprints, and know where the weak points are.
Evolution is model with huge amounts of scientific evidence backing it up.
Sure, all models are wrong, but some models are useful.
Evolution is a useful model. It explains the past and, contrary to what ID guys will tell you, it accurately predicts future results.
ID and creationism in general do not accurately predict future results, except perhaps that creationists lie to themselves and others and will continue to do so.
Mooney and Nesbit are in the wrong on this issue.
Myers and Dawkins should not shut up.
Scientists tell the truth. Politicians and religionists seek create consensus or to silence the opposition. Pandering to their illogical and ignorant views will only endow them with a false sense of superiority, to go along with their false view of the universe and their false beliefs.
To PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins: Once more into the breach!