ID debate: Meyer & Gilder versus Shermer & Bailey

A debate that was held Saturday July 12 at FreedomFest 08 in Las Vegas will be aired on BookTV (CSpan-2) on Sunday August 24 from about 6:15 am to 7:30 am EDT. The program is described here at booktv.org. The page title says: “Debate on Intelligent Design with George Gilder, Stephen Meyer, Michael Shermer, and Christopher Hitchens,” but the description has Ronald Bailey of Reason Magazine instead of Hitchens. Bailey was listed on the FreedomFest schedule, with Hitchens scheduled for other sessions. [Added Aug. 24: It was Bailey, not Hitchens, who took part. This is pure speculation on my part, but I would guess that Hitchens was originally invited and accepted, but then urged the organizers to find somebody else who is more qualified to debate the topic than Hitchens would ever claim himself to be.]

The title in the FreedomFest program is: “Is There Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design in Nature?”

Program links on c-spanarchives.org:

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Kevin Currie
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I look forward to seeing that, though I must confess not to be impressed by the names on the list; least of which, Hitchens and Meyer. Meyer is a sociology of science flake who, after getting duped by Sokal, turned his ultra-constructivist view of science onto ID. Meyer has been quite the quack throughout his career, knowing very little science and making very elementary caricatures of evolution (evolution is wholly random, all evolutionists are ultra-adaptationists, etc.)

    Hitchens also has little understanding of science (but, unlike Meyer, admits it!). He is very abrasive and generally offputting.

    I would wholly expect Shermer to be the best voice of the bunch (though I think it would be a much better debate were Philip Kitcher or Eugenie Scott to stand in for Shermer.)

    As to the fourth guy, never heard of him.

    I will watch regardless.

  2. Posted August 22, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Kevin Currie writes:

    I would wholly expect Shermer to be the best voice of the bunch (though I think it would be a much better debate were Philip Kitcher or Eugenie Scott to stand in for Shermer.)

    Don’t think they rounded up the best people they could find for the best debate they could produce.

    Kitcher or Scott is unlikely to be at FreedomFest. Shermer fits right in, as a libertarian who would be happy to see public schooling eliminated altogether. (Search this blog for “Shermer” for related observations. See also his new book The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics.)

    I think Reason Magazine may have been founded by “Pete” duPont — he’s heavily involved with it, in any case (again, very much at home with FreedomFest).

  3. Kevin Currie
    Posted August 23, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Whitson wrote:

    >>>I think Reason Magazine may have been founded by “Pete” duPont — he’s heavily involved with it, in any case (again, very much at home with FreedomFest).

    The articles I consulted suggest that Reason magazine was founded by one Lanny Friedlander, who I know nothing about.

    I share what I think is your distaste for Reason magazine. They are often very surface-level in their journalism (which generally is more philosophic diatribe than journalism). Even though I share their – and Shermer’s – libertarian perspective, I think that Reason is often more fluff than anything.

    It really does burn me that someone considers Christopher Hitchens able to speak on the topic of evolution, just as it pains me to think that Steven Meyer is considered in any way qualified to talk about science.

  4. Kevin Currie
    Posted August 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    It was a mildly interesting program. As usual, Shermer was quite scattered, and Meyer engaged in his quite usual quote-mining.

    The point of most interest to me was the question posed to the ID folk as to whether ID was testable, and under what condition it could be falsified. Meyer, as is the usual strategy, began by saying that whether ID was science depends on how we want to define science. (If we define science theistically, then both ID and Islam are scientific.) He then suggested (quite wrongly) that ID is a testable science because (a) we are reasoning based on experience (houses have desingers, so why not prokaryotes); (b) ID “explains” observables better than evolution (oh so debatable); and (c) ID explains “unexplainables” like irreducible complexity.

    I am suprised no one rebutted this as it is wrong on many scores, none the least of which is the fact that the question – how to test for ID – was not answered. Meyer simply stated in three different ways that ID is something that you can inference, but made no mention of how it is not an inference compatible with EVERYTHING. (“God did it” is an answer to any question you want to ask if you look at the evidence the right way.) Thus, he did not elude to what type of observational evidence ID is NOT compatible with, and hence, did not answer the question of how one can test the theory of ID.

    Overall, a mildly interesting debate.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: