Friday, December 23, 2005



The Author’s last post was a search and destroy mission aimed at the malignant heart of “Intelligent Design”[i]. The way it works in Western Civilization, at least since the Enlightenment, oh, say for the last 300 to 400 years, is that there is science, and there is superstition[ii]. There is a process for vetting, testing and confirming objective physical reality. It is called the scientific method. Science observes the natural world and develops theories (not hunches, not somebody’s idea, the best explanation at a specific point in time) to explain the observations.

Evolution is established science. Period. The National Academy of Sciences has stated that evolution is the “central unifying concept of biology”[iii]. Geneticist Theodosius Dhovansky wrote in 1973 “nothing in biology makes sense without evolution.[iv]” For example, advances in genetics and molecular biology have now shown how heredity actually works, as well as explained the nature of chance mutation (the source of the “variation” that Darwin noted). In fact, DNA now provides perhaps the single best piece of evidence supporting the theory of evolution.”[v] You will note that the Author’s Posting name is FOXP2, the name of a gene that may be responsible for the human brain’s capacity for speech. The human version of FOXP2 is a mutation from other mammals. Evolution at work, kids.

Why is it, then, that Americans defy logic and reason and believe a fairytale like “biblical creation” or so-called “Intelligent Design?" [vi] Probably lots of reasons. At one level, the Author does not care. People have the right to believe what they want to believe and be as dumb as they want. But when teachers, educators, journalists and other public service professionals dignify superstition, then the line is crossed and the gauntlet must be tossed. Those people in responsible positions cannot be allowed to poison the public debate. Drink the Kool Aid if you want, but don’t stock it on the shelf or hand it out to the children.

Contemporary journalists are perhaps the greatest purveyors of “Intelligent Design”. The Columbia Journalism Review article cited in the paragraph above describes the robotic nature of reporters covering the science vs. creationist superstition political battles.

If attacks on evolution aren’t anything new in America, neither is the tendency of U.S. journalists to lend undue credibility to theological attacks that masquerade as being “scientific” in nature. During the early 1980s, for example, the mega-evolution trial McLean v. Arkansas pitted defenders of evolutionary science against so-called “scientific creationists.” Today, few take the claims of these scientific creationists very seriously. At the time, however, proponents of creation science were treated quite seriously indeed by the national media, which had parachuted in for the trial. As media scholars have noted, reporters generally “balanced” the scientific-sounding claims of the scientific creationists against the arguments of evolutionary scientists. They also noted that religion and public-affairs reporters, rather than science writers, were generally assigned to cover the trial.

Reporters would not dignify people that claim “vapors” and “humors” cause disease or that say that the earth is a hollow sphere filled with races of giants, flying reptiles, and elves. But they readily forget everything that they learned, or should have learned, in biology class to shill for zealots and fools.

Fast forward from 1987 when the lies of “scientific creationism” were rejected by the US Supreme Court (At least most of the Justices. Scalia and Rehnquist set aside their intellects to dissent on specious grounds) in Edwards v. Arkansas. Creationism has been renamed “Intelligent Design” and has hired media consultants to better “frame” the folktale.
Now, history is repeating itself: intelligent-design proponents, whose movement is a descendant of the creation science movement of yore, are enjoying precisely the same kind of favorable media coverage in the run-up to another major evolution trial. [This article was written before the Kitzmiller v. Dover case] This cyclical phenomenon carries with it an important lesson about the nature of political reporting when applied to scientific issues. In strategy-driven political coverage, reporters typically tout the claims of competing political camps without comment or knowledgeable analysis, leaving readers to fend for themselves

The media hucksters behind “Intelligent Design” understand that political journalists, most print journalists and virtually all television reporters value vacuous balance over insightful analysis. So the “Intelligent Design” peddlers feed the press a few soundbites that sound scientific and most of the media prints them unexamined.[vii]

Rather than use the best instrument that evolution has provided them, their brains, reporters act as sheep-like conduits for the disinformationists. Seeking ‘balance”, they end up duping their readers or viewers.


In a recent post about the poor literacy rates in America, the Author thanked some teachers, professors and mentors that taught him to read, comprehend and think critically. It could not have been easy. And there likely have been regrets. Here are some more to thank. Professor Papke, Professor Malloy, Professor Cox, Professor Kreiger, Professor Atkinson, Professor Dechene and Professor Leonard.


The Author will be visiting his home state of Indiana next week between Christmas and New Years Day. He will visit family and friends, clear up a few outstanding warrants, and hang out with former derelicts that now wield political and economic power. So posts may be few or none. But if the Author can find a broadband link, he may throw something up.
But the Author will be reading some economic and investment books while back in Indiana and will return from the snowy and cold Midwest to the Desert of the Real with lots of ideas and insights to share with you.

2005 has been a choppy year for the market. There have been modest gains this year, but the S&P 500 and the relative-weighted S&P 500 have posted the broadest increases. The S&P 500 is a capitalization-weighted index so the largest companies have the greatest share of the representation of the index.

The relative-weighted S&P 500 Index, which trades as an exchange-rated fund under the symbol RSP, had the best broad index return at 6.4%. In the relative weighted index, each stock has the same weighting, regardless of the capitalization value of the stock. So it is in effect a broader index and less affected by the moves of a few of the larger stocks in the traditional S&P500.

The S&P 500 capitalization-weighted index, the one that is commonly quoted, was up 5.4% for 2005.

The DJIA eked out 1% and the NASDAQ was up 4.4%.

But these gains have been earned through some wide swings, and traders saw more than a few whipsawing sessions. But they are gains, nonetheless.


IMPORANT DISCLAIMER: This post is offered for informational purposes only. Sources of information provided are believed to be reliable, but are not guaranteed to be complete or without error. Opinions and suggestions are provided with the understanding that readers acting on information contained herein assume all risks involved. The Author may or may not buy or sell securities discussed in this post.

[i] It was commentated that the Author “bitchslapped” the “Intelligent Design” defendants in the post, “INTELLIGENT DESIGN’ (ID) KO’D IN THE FIRST ROUND IN US DISTRICT COURT RUMBLE”. “Bitchslap” may have sexist connotations for some, but it should be noted that dudes call their MAL;E friends “bitch” with great frequency. Even Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, writing in a sexual harassment case, has noted that the “term” bitch” is now used interchangeably as a burn on both females and males. The Author usually avoids vulgarity in his posts, but does note that the term “bitchslap” appears in Wikopedia. And it is of course used in a figurative sense, not the literal sense.
[ii] Many indigenous people have creation stories that explain in poetic, spiritual or mythological ways how the world, the animals, the people were created. Theses stories contain very human and cultural truths. As does the Genesis story of Adam and Eve and being cast out of the mythical Garden of Eden. These stories should be valued for their spiritual, poetic, psychological and religious value. But they cannot be elevated to objective scientific truth.
[iii] “Undoing Darwin,” Mooney, Chris and Nisbet, Matthew, Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2005.
[iv] “Undoing Darwin”.
[v] “Undoing Darwin”.
[vi] Or for that matter, fantasies like alien abductions, guardian angels, or the Loch Ness Monster.
[vii] Reporting political battles is not the same as reporting on matters of science. Politicians stake out certain positions and make certain statements and claims about events. These statements represent political beliefs that have generally been left to political analysts and the editorial page. But in science, there is usually a scientifically correct position and nothing else. At one time light was believed to travel as a wave through an unidentified substance called “ether”. Now we know, thanks to the Michaelson-Morely experiment in 1887, Einstein, and quantum physics, that ether does not exist and that light travels as a particle and a wave. Sounds confusing, but this is a generally correct statement. Some day physicists may discover that quantum physics is wrong, or deficient in some areas. But that determination will be made through the scientific method, thorough observation, peer-reviewed publishings and the confirmation of testable hypothesis. A handful of nonscientists cannot cook up a theory that fits with their mythology and demand that it be offered as an alternative to established science. Yet this is exactly what the “intelligent design” proponents seek to do.


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