Whatever Intelligent Design Is, It's Not a Theory and It's Not Science

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Mr. Cravatts Ph.D., a lecturer at Boston University, Tufts University, and Emerson College, writes frequently on social policy, housing development, Constitutional law, business, and politics.

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“Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable charade,” wrote the brilliant paleontologist and Harvard professor, Stephen Jay Gould, “a secular religion masquerading as science.” Signaling that those charges are still part of a contentious discussion about the origins of life, Kansas’s Board of Education just recently adopted new standards to question the validity of Darwinian theory and open the door to teaching alternate explanations of biological development—most specifically, the concept of “intelligent design.”

Intelligent design is acknowledged by many observers to be the latest spin on the “creationism” concept that Gould repeatedly questioned as a true science; to him, and to other mainstream scientists, the movement was solely an attempt to legitimize a religious and Biblical explanation for life’s origins by giving it a scientific veneer. Frustrated by their defeats in court and inability to introduce creationism into schools as a viable, alternative theory to evolution, creationists have begun to publicly disavow religious sources for their philosophy and now suggest that life began through the work of an intelligent ‘designer,’ a supernatural force responsible for the entire creation of the universe and all life within it.

Unfortunately for I.D.’s supporters, the courts have repeatedly seen attempts to introduce this pseudo-science into public school curricula as an attempt to advance a religious philosophy where the state and the law cannot condone such an intrusion, and which is specifically prohibited by the First Amendment’s ‘establishment clause.’ 

The intelligent design adherents, as well as their creationist predecessors, have aggressively attacked evolutionary theory as being no more valid a set of answers than their own explanation of the origin of life; in fact, they contend that evolution is merely a theory, not scientific fact, and therefore open to vigorous debate and scholarly inquiry.

If it is true that evolution is no more certain that intelligent design, they ask, why not expose students to both theories? Why keep students for investigating each scientific approach and choosing between them?  "It's an academic freedom proposal,” said Stephen C. Meyer of Seattle’s nonprofit Discovery Institute, the principal generator of I.D. research. “What we would like to foment is a civil discussion about science. That falls right down the middle of the fairway of American pluralism." 

There is one serious problem with the specious idea of teaching intelligent design in science classes as a concomitant scientific theory to evolution: no credible member of the scientific or academic communities has ever proven that intelligent design is anything more than a faith-based philosophy masquerading as science, grounded on the Genesis account of the creation of life. Despite the fact that they have tried, in pressing the intelligent design theory, to distance themselves from their faith, supporters have still not been able to convince the courts that I.D. can stand on its own as a body of knowledge appropriate for science classes. 

“The methodology employed by creationists is another factor which is indicative that their work is not science,” the court found in its extensive and insightful decision in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education.  “The creationists' methods do not take data, weigh it against the opposing scientific data, and thereafter reach the conclusions [of the intelligent design theory].” 

Science involves methodical investigation of unknown facts, with findings that are sometimes anticipated but frequently unknown, surprising, or serendipitous. Intelligent design fails as science because it was created as a specific contradiction to evolution, and was promulgated to support a pre-existing ideology. “While anybody is free to approach a scientific inquiry in any fashion they choose,” the court in the Arkansas case added, “they cannot properly describe the methodology as scientific, if they start with the conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation.”  

The fact that intelligent design is not science is exactly the reason that it should not be part of any science curriculum—either as an alternative theory to evolution or as intellectual exercise by which students, exercising their ‘academic freedom,’ can investigate other approaches to the origin of life.

The fact is that not every intellectual viewpoint is worthy of being discussed in the classroom, merely because one group feels passionately that their issue has intrinsic value, is true, or should be heard as part of the marketplace of ideas. Some truths are absolute and do not require a fair and balanced measurement against some contradictory body of thought. An entire intellectual ‘industry’ of Holocaust denial research has many fervent followers, for instance, but few sentient school boards would find it palatable or reasonable to have students exposed to the ‘theory’ that the Holocaust never occurred along with history lessons expressing the verifiable and incontrovertible fact that it did.

Ironically, deniers conduct their research and have come to their findings about the Holocaust in a manner similar to the way intelligent design theorists come to theirs. In his essay “Why Revisionism Isn't,” Gordon McFee seems to echo, in the context of revisionist history, the court’s appraisal of how intelligent design was researched and promoted. Just as creationists start with the premise that the theory of evolution is flawed and subject to doubt, wrote McFee, “‘Revisionists’ depart from the conclusion that the Holocaust did not occur and work backwards through the facts to adapt them to that preordained conclusion.” “Put another way, they reverse the proper methodology . . , thus turning the proper historical method of investigation and analysis on its head . . .  To put it tritely, ‘revisionists’ revise the facts based on their conclusion.”

Deniers may have concluded and may passionately want to believe that there was no “Final Solution,” that gas chambers were used merely to delouse prisoners, that only hundreds of thousands of Jews, not millions, were exterminated, and that the Holocaust is overall a hoax perpetrated by Jewish victims to extract sympathy and reparations from the world; but all of their invidious scholarship cannot prove the unprovable, and nor obviously would their theories deserve to be taught as an alternative ‘history’ in public schools merely because they question history and employ perverse scholarship to deny and distort the magnitude of one of the most documented and pernicious events of contemporary times.  

“‘Creation science,’” Gould wrote in an essay he called "Verdict on Creationism," “has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage — good teaching — than a bill forcing honorable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise?”

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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

OK. Thanks. I probably glitched the send myself somehow.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Let's agree for the sake of argument that these fellows are all "rogues." Does it follow that academics should participate in the taboo against open debate on what interests them, are act out the role of "bystanders" when they are imprisoned for revisionist throught crimes. Germar Rudolf was extradited from America to Germany only this week, and he is not in prison there for being a "rogue." Meanwhile, no academic that I am aware of has published a paper on The Rudolf Report, the book that Rudolf is being punished by the State for writing.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

The "industrialized death camps" concept includes the charge that the Germans used gas chambers and gas vans to kill millions of innocent civilians. Revisionism questions that assumption via a significant body of purposefully unexamined work. I am not suggesting that revisionists are right about eveything, but that men who write books that pose taboo historical questions should not be imprisoned for thought crimes. I find this a difficult idea (forgive me) to get across to academics.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

While it is commonplace to make this comparison, it fails badly in one way. To question the gas-chamber story has become a criminal offense in Most European countries and in Israel. What kind of "truth" is it that requires the State to imprison those who question it?

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

This may be a duplicate:

With regard to the issue of "moral equivalency," we might look at it in a way that is probably roguish. When the Americans intentionally burned alive the civilian populations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (I'll let the rest go for the sake of brevity), they (we) did so for a "greater good."

That is exactly the behavior that the Germans are accused of during WWII -- that they intentionally killed innocent, unarmed civilians for what they claimd was a "greater good." Do the specific weapons matter. Does the ethnicity of the victims matter?

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Well, we are in agreement then on the principle issue. Neither of us approves of the criminalization of thought or research. That would suggest to me that when the American Government collaborates with the German Government in extraditing a writer and publisher from America to Germany for writing and publishing ideas that have been criminalized by the German State, that many in the professorial class would denounce the action.

I'm waiting. There may be one professor somewhere in America who will argue publicly that intellectual freedom is for all, not for some.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Characterizing those of us who work for an open debate on WWII as "objectionable" is, in fact, exactly how the taboo against open debate is cultivated by the professorial class. It raises the obvious question: who is it who decides who is objectionable (and worse)? It is always those who favor taboo and censorship over free inquiry and open debate. Who was it, for example, who were found to be "objectionable" during the Hitlerian regime?

The issue isn't one of "fitting in," or being "objectionable," but the need for academics to do a very simple thing -- use a bit of their time to further intellectual freedom, and a bit less of their time in defining those they disagree with in some negative manner.

I'm willing to go out on a limb here: I am willing to suggest that it would even be the adult thing to do.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

I sympathise too with people who truly believe something and feel endangered when their “truth” is challenged in a way that makes them feel insecure, or confused. The issue here is really more commonplace. If the Holocaust was a historical event, it should be open to the routine examination that all other historical events are open to. That’s where it is decided what is a "falsehood" and what is not--not via censorship or imprisonment. Intellectual freedom does not promise anything to skeptics that it does not promise to believers. Its only promose is more of itself.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

I'm not an academic. I was 49 years old in 1979 when I discovered that something might be wrong with the Auschwitz gas-chamber story. I was stunned. Over the next few years I discovered that much of what I had believed about the Holocaust all my adult life, without a single moment of doubt, was coming unraveled.

I had believed that tens of thousands of Jews and others had been murdered in gas chambers at Dachau. I had believed that Germans skinned Jews to make lamp shades and riding breeches from their hides. I believed Germans had cooked Jews to make hand soap from their fat. I believed that four millions, mostly Jews, had been murdered in gas chambers at Auschwitz. I was wrong about all of it.

The Jews of Europe suffered a catastrophe during the Hitlerian regime. So did many other peoples. But those stories that go to the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans appear to be largely false --I emphasize the word "unique."

Anyhow, the whole business was taboo, I reconized that from the start. It still is. But now it is becoming a criminal act to question even the most moronic stories of unique German monstrosity.

Taboo, slander, criminalization -- that is how the orthdox, academic history of the Holocaust is protected from free inquiry. Who is willing to risk his career, and even his freedom, to question what all the best people say is true?

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

The skeptic, if he is good-willed, questions an accepted “truth,” he doesn’t “deny” it. Skepticism has been at the heart of Western culture for close to three thousand years. Most recently it resurfaced during a little something we call the “Enlighenment.” It would be good to keep in mind that the story of the “industrialized” genocide of the European Jews and others during WWII was institutionalized at Nuremberg by factotums represnting Josef Stalin, a known mass-murderer, and Harry Truman, the hero of Nagasaki, Hiroshima and a few other places. I would have more “faith” in the “gas-chamber” story had it been officially institutionalized in some other venue.

This isn’t a question of believing or denying. It is a question of whether the professors are going to continue to support the impostion of a taboo against free inquiry and open debate on this one historical issue, which is the case now, or will they encourage an open debate on the matter, which is one of the primary ideals for the university in the West. It’s either open debate, or true belief. Some of us are for the one, some for the other.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Mr. Getz:
Let me address one issue that you mention to forward my argument that the academic class in America evades its responsibility with regard to the history of WWII, and collaborates with European governments in criminalizing those who do.

Survivor testimony. It plays a major role in the orthodox story, and in America it is taboo to question it. In Europe is is a criminal act.

One example.
Elie Wiesel claims that after Jews were executed at Babi Yar in the Ukraine, "geysers of blood continued to spurt from their grave for months afterward." I suppose you will agree that while this is a wonderfully inventive fantasy, it's rather too moronic to take seriously. Unless you're a survivor. Only a "hater" would question the truthfullness of such a claim.

John Silber of Boston U. got on my case about my questioning this one, pointing out that Wiesel had not said that he had seen that phenomenon with his own eyes, but was only repeating what others (survivors) had said.

True enough. Wiesel was repeating the testimony of other Holocaust survivors. They were all in it together, their purpose (one can only guess) to forward the "unique monstrosity" of the Germans. How is Wiesel looked upon by the professorial class? He is "untouchable."

Survivor testimony is accepted at face value by the profesorial class, while those who question it are routinely slandered or ignored, and in Europe condemned to prison for "inciting racial hate."

Here is Mr. Wiesel himself on hate:

"Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate, “healthy virile hate,“ for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German." (Legends of Our Time, "Appointment With Hate," NY, Avon, 1968, pp. 177-178.)

Where, in the academic community, are those who would dare identify this statement by the most famous living Holocaust survivor/professor for what it is? Publicly?

It's a good thing to belong to the ACLU. It would be a good thing for the ACLU to start taking seriously its responsiblities toward writers and publishers who are imprisoned, with the collaboration of the American government, for expressing skepticisim about survivor "testimony" of the Elie Wiesels of the world.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Better late than never (to coin a phrase) Mr. Tuchman. If the good people who read this back and forth want to discover a dispassionate, fair, and thoughtful profile of someone who questions the gas-chamber stories, there is certainly no better place to begin than with the dispassionate, fair, and even-handed people at the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

The next place to look would be the web page of such an individual, maybe at www.breakhisbones.com . As Bill O'Reilly has it: Smith reports, you decide.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Well, I agree with you about the question marks. There is no reason to use them in this context. At the same time, in the interest of full disclousure as we say, I no longer believe the gas-chamber stories. That in itself has nothing to do with being, or not being, "good-willed." In my view.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

I want to suggest, without insulting you in anyway, that arguing for an open debate on the Holocaust is not "denying" that it took place. The skeptic does not have to argue that "it" did not happen, but wants to find out, in a free exchange of ideas, what "it" really was to his own satisfaction, at the same time trying to not be cranky.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Well, it makes sense to me that you would not want to take seriously how extensively the Holocaust story has been revised over the last 40 years, how much "eyewitness" testmony has been shown to be false, how many "original" documents shown to be not original -- and so on and so on.

If you were to take it seriously you might feel some kind of inner urge to condemn publicly the suppression, censorship, and incarceration of those who do find it a serious matter. I can assure you that it would create a considerable bother for you in both your academic life, and your personal life. No one who has a good job really needs that kind of bother. Good luck to you, and smooth sailing.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

"Shock and awe," the result of decades of academic suppression of open debate on one particular historical event. What is there to fear? Certainly intellectual freedom and open debate offer nothing to the skeptic that they do not offer to the true believer. At this very time Germar Rudolf is being prepped to be shipped to Germany to be imprisoned for revisionist throught crimes. Where is there one academic among the tens of thousands that swarm across our campus who will take notice? You can google Germar Rudolf and see what the man has been condemned for.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

It's true that "extreamists," primarily anti-semites, are associated with revisionism. It's a serious issue for Jews, and for revisionists themselves. Being identified as an anti-semite, particularly if you are not one, is no walk in the park. It will destroy your social life (if your circle is not made up of anti-semites), and it will destroy any possibility for a public career that you might have in mind. This is why revisionists, if they have real jobs, keep their views on these matters secret. For revisionists in America, it's rather like living in North Korea. Your struggle for intellectual freedom must be pursued in secret, or you wlll lose everything.

The Jewish catastrophe in Europe during the Hitlerian regime was immense. It is told in an immense collection of "war stories." Like all collections of war stories, some are true, some are false. What could be more commonplace? The professorial class has made a public, though unacknowledged, decision to discourage independent work that asserts that it has separeted some part of the wheat from the chaff.

The demonstrable falsehoods in the orthodox Holocaust story are the weapons of choice for those who don't like Jews. While Jews did not institutionalize the story, they picked up the ball and ran with it. It's become largely a Jewish story. What easier way to attack Jews as Jews than to point out demonstrable falsehoods that mainline Jewish orgnaziations are forwarding with a punitive obsession that I do not see anywhere else, outside of the U.S. government itself.

This is a problem easily rectified (he says). The first thing to do would be to begin to remove from the Holocaust story those parts of it that hve been shown to be demonstrably false, depriving anti-semites of the most easily available weapons to hand to beat up on Jews with. Oddly, but obviously, that is the work of revisionism--which is not political (though it is used by those who are) but a simple process of a routine examination of a historical event.

The irony is obvious. When the professorial class agrees to agree that revisionist work will not be addressed in the routine way that all other historiacal work is addressed, they collaborate in handing over a good part of the field to those who would exploit revisionist arguments about WWII for policical and "racial" ends.

Example: When Arthur Butz published his Hoax of the Twentieth Century in 1977, he and his book were roundly condemned, and I will have to say salndered, from the get go. The professors, as a class, denounced him, and some tried to get him fired from his position at Northwestern.

After 30 years, nothing has changed. Butz and the Hoax are routinely slandered (I mean slandered!)and condemned by academics -- but here is the kicker. To the best of my knowledge, even after the passage of 30 (!) years, not one academic has published a professional paper demonstrating where Butz is wrong in anything he said.

In The Hoax, Butz has almost certainly gotten some facts wrong, and misinterpreted others. That's how it is with writing history. Nobody's perfect. But what would the professor do, once he had done that, with what would be left over -- we are not going to suggest that Butz is wrong about "everything," are we. Will the professor acknowledge that Butz was right about the rest of it? Hardly. Not in America. Certainly not in Europe.

I could note the same comments about other revisionists, including some who have tempers and share political beliefs that I might not. Carlos Porter would be a good example. No professor "dares" write a serious paper on his The Holocaust: Made In Russia, which examines some of the Nuremberg documents.

So--it is common for professors to write journalism about revisionist arguments--Deborah Lipstadt for example. It is common for revisionist arguments to be suppressed and revisionists to be punished for their work. And it is commonplace for anti-semites to use revisionist arguments, which are never specifically challenged by the professors, to beat up on Jews with.

The more things change. . . .

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

The carelessness of age. I meant to suggest www.breakhisbones.org

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008


Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Well, I've tried twice to respond to this and each time my post disappears. I wonder what I might be saying wrong. Maybe I'm too wordy.

In any event, the issue is not what I believe or don't believe, but why men are being extradited from America to stand trial in Europe for revisionist thought crimes. I should think that would be of some professional interest to the academic class, but I see no signs of it.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

With re to what there is to debate: it is there in the work of men such as Samuel Crowell, Serge Thion, Carlo Mattogno, Robert Faurisson, Germar Rudolf, Jurgen Graf, Arthur Butz, Carlos Porter, Fritz Berg and a host of others.

If you want to see for yourself I would suggested "The Holocaust Made in Russia" by Porter. And "The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes" by Crowell.

And good luck to you.

Tom Sweetnam - 12/12/2005

For what it's worth, I think Robert Jastrow's 'God and the Astronomers' was the most beautifully eloquent argument for the existence of intelligent design I've ever read. Jastrow's sentiment isn't exactly heresy amongst the ranks of his fellow cosmologists either.

Aryeh Tuchman - 12/9/2005

I realize I'm a bit late in joining this conversation, but I just wanted to add, in case you were not aware, that Bradley Smith is a noted Holocaust denier in his own right. He has campaigned to promote Holocaust denial on college campuses since the late 1980s, and last year spoke at a conference co-sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review and the neo-Nazi National Alliance. More information is available at http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/smith_codoh.asp?LEARN_Cat=Extremism&;LEARN_SubCat=Extremism_in_America&xpicked=2&item=10.

Frederick Thomas - 11/21/2005

"but what does the 10**(-36) number pertain to?"

It is a fraction with 1 as numerator with a 10 followed by 36 zeroes as denominator, applied to a centimeter. This is much smaller than an electron. I used the numeric notation common to most computer programs.

"You went another way, it seems, as in "man defines God...But while a sum total of orderly baheviours and laws which we interpret as intellingent or as a sign of intelligence can be called God, they can also be called Unified Theory or whatever name we choose to pick."

Very true. I believe that man has always defined God, by observation of nature. Today our observation of nature is extended by mathematics and astromomy from the infinite to the infinitesimal. Galileo called mathematics "the language of God."

The method is simple: measure the direction and rate of recedence (thanks Dr Hubbel)of the most distant stars by the red shift method and a bit of calculus. Then calculate all of the observed galaxies back along their trajectories to an origin point.

This tells you how long we have been a universe, because speed = distance / time. This calculates out to roughly 12-15 billion years. But questions remain. The center is not exactly where it should be, so you cater for the effect of so much mass -energy pushing outward on itself which accelerates the blob momentarily to much faster than the speed of light soon after the singularly expands a little. Now most of it fits. The rest is just details.

By the way, Hubbel's work was based upon the work of a French monk, another little detail which makes science and religion debates fun.

"method which we would probably both agree on...teach evolution as a science and cover the existence of other versions and visions."

I would personally like the entire process of development of the universe to be taught as a continuous flow, including evolution as a sub-process subject to the guiding principles. This tends to push both sides of the debate in the right direction, particularly the literalists side.

If the entire process is shown as one creation, all 15 billion years of it, it becomes counterproductive for creationists to argue about it, cause their only issue becomes "how long ago?".

Regarding name, it does not matter, as long as the creationists can call it what they want. The central issue is awe. Astronomers are full of awe. Creationists are full of awe. Maybe introducing these two groups would work out better than people think.

I have enjoyed your comments. You do very well as a scientist.

Jeff Thomas Dube - 11/21/2005

The most serious flaw I see in the proposal of intelligent design is it's very premise (that evolution cannot account for the complexity of biological organisms and structures such as the eye or the bacterial flagellum) which is put forth without any evidence as to it's validity except a subjective human perception of the scope of the problem. On the other hand, any decent computer programmer will tell you that the evidence that evolution could in principle accomplish such complexity has been around for over a decade. Its a subfield of artificial intelligence known as evolutionary computation which entails iterative progress, populations, and random processes all of which is often biologically inspired. In it candidate solutions to a problem play the role of individuals in a population, and the fitness function determines the environment within which the solutions "live". Evolution of the population then takes place after the repeated application of an evolutionary algorithm. Its been used for the automated design of electronic circuits and systems and a tool for integrated circuit optimization and has enjoyed success in such fields as diverse as engineering, art, biology, economics, genetics, operations research, robotics, social sciences, physics, and chemistry. It's becoming an eloquent tool for solving problems that man would not be able to solve otherwise. Personally, I find that it begs the question of why the intelligent design people don't embrace evolution as God's eloqent solution to survival in a constantly changing environment.

Peter Kovachev - 11/21/2005

The compliment was genuine, as was the barb, Mr Thomas. I can compartmentilize my battles and obviously, so can you. We might disappoint a few though, those who expect a jolly good ruckus when they see our names in such proximity.

"By the way, the unknown point in my approach is in predating the big bang. Somehow, a 10**(-36) singularity with 10**( 34) C heat energy came into existence. How?" (F. Thomas)

I'm a living argument for why science education needs to be brought back and kids need to be made to take it at the point of a gun and with guard dogs snapping at their butts, if need be. So, pardon the question, but what does the 10**(-36) number pertain to? Dimensions or scale? And if, once we start talking about expanding and contracting universes, I suppose dimensions become very relative, so how did they work out such seemingly absolute numbers? How small was it, this pre-big bang singularity, compared to an electron, for example?

The how it all came to be is a good question. For the theist the answer is obvious, for the agnostic and atheist it's just a good question, one which they are prepared to leave unanswered. The error, I think, is in when theists try to use the existence of the universe or universes as proof of God's existence. They won't accept the argument that they were always there (or that the elements for them were always there), but they will accept the one that God was. Not very consistent.

You went another way, it seems, as in "man defines God." Your version describes a good way for theists to accept both science and evidence as demonstrably effective ways of knowing and to be loyal to their personal religious convictions. But while a sum total of orderly baheviours and laws which we interpret as intellingent or as a sign of intelligence can be called God, they can also be called Unified Theory or whatever name we choose to pick. This will not satisfy those who want to bring creationism into the classroom. In the Judaic, Christian and Islamic traditions, of course, the central feature of godhood is not signs of intelligence alone, but an intelligen force which has created and is actively involved with the universe and humankind, as in, "God made all, God cares about us and about what we do."

There are not that many options out of this conundrum.

All I can think of is:

1)a decision that a certain version of creationism be taught;

2)all creation myths/theories be taught equally;

3) leaving things as they are and

4)...the method which we mwould probably both agree on...teach evolution as a science and cover the existence of other versions and visions.

The downside of the latter one is that to be fair to everyone out there, we would have to introduce our kids to all sorts of cooky stuff like aquatic evolution, Hollow Earth, alien origins, turles all the way down, a god's "spilled seeds" across the universe, etc.

E. Simon - 11/20/2005

Yes, I believed that the sun was eight light-minutes away from the earth until I reached out with my hand and realized that I could visually grasp it between my fingers. What's the length of my arm, again?

Trevor Russell Getz - 11/20/2005

Thank you for your even-handed response. Your point is well taken. I myself tend to embrace a very wide understanding of freedom of speech, and I am against the extreme limitations placed on revisionists or deniers in Europe. However, I continue to find their arguments unconvincing when closely evaluated, and to be disturbed by many of their connections to racist and anti-Semitic groups.

Moreover, as in the case of the intelligent design issue, I am not yet convinced that the denier's motives are often honorable.

There may well be extremists among the Holocaust believers, as well as the deniers. However, the responsible scholars who occupy the middle ground (and I do not accept others categories here, but judge each on its own merit based on my training as an historian)have created a convergence of evidence that so far remains to be challenged.

Trevor Russell Getz - 11/19/2005

Mr. Thomas.

Well, perhaps I flatter myself by calling myself an historian... that title has always been contested. Gosh knows I am not, nor do I claim to be, a professional scholar of the Holocaust (I am, in fact, an Africanist)! Instead, I merely carefully read a great deal of evidence and put forward my theories, and support those of other scholars whose work seems to follow the epistimological approach. So let me try to illustrate my points by using, conveniently, your diatribe. Keep in mind that in this e-mail I am not putting forward an argument of my own, merely deconstructing yours.... note my comments on the following sections of your post:

Your quote: "Let me see if I can educate you a little"
My response: I translate that as "I have a monopoly on the truth". I am always a little fearful of those who claim a monopoly on the truth. Note that in my initial e-mail I accepted that revisionism serves a purpose, and that debate is good... just that the works I have read (and I do read it) that deny the Holocaust existed are not academically rigorous. The same might be said about some (but not most) works within the mainstream.

Your post: "You are the denier here. You deny the historical reality of hundreds of allied aerial photos, of the factories, of the barracks, of the lack of any gas chambers except for delousing, of the camp records, of the millions of "death camp" survivors, of the epidemilogical records in Europe at that time. Is this enough of a "convergence" to get your attention?"
My response: This not a convergence. In general, you do not cite evidence but a lack of it. Oh my! And conversely you ignore the evidence that does exist: testimonies of survivors, written documents, aerial photographs that do suggest gassing was taking place, evidence that points to certain structures being used as gas chambers. Karl Popper spoke clearly on this - a theory should replace an alternate theory only if it can explain the existing evidence in a more convincing way. You choose instead to ignore the evidence that does exist and to point to the holes. Do those holes exist? Yes. There are points at which the evidence we would like to have is not there. So what? All historians face this problem in reconstructing the past. Again we deal with convergence and with the preponderance of evidence.

Your quote: "These hard facts do not contradict the many deaths, the shootings in the early days of the Russian campaign, the abuse and disease, or the massive slave labor. But they do bring into question the glitz Hollywood version we are asked by your lobby to swallow. (A little hint-nobody believes it anymore.)"
My response: Er, I'm not sure what 'my lobby is. Are you referring to the fact (evident from my name) that I'm Jewish? That is a typical trick of anti-semites, to assume conspiracy, but I'm going to assume you're anti-semitic, and that you mean the 'lobby' that represents people who think like I do? But I'm not even sure what group that is. I am what I am, the descendent of Holocaust survivors. I have only one further thing to say on this topic: Shermer and Grobman cite a reputable survey that suggests that less than 1% of Russians, Americans, and Britons believe that mass gassing of Jews did not happen.... so I guess some people do still believe it?

YOur quote: "All of these facts would make any real historian want to know why they directly contradict the "evidence" of Nuerenburg, most of which which was either questionable, improper, forgeries, Soviet propaganda, or testimony extracted under torture."
My response: Another typical trick of pseudo-historians. Anything that you don't agree with was either questionable, improper, forgeries, propoganda, or extracted under torture. Do you really think this is 'history'?

Your quote:"You deny any evidence which does not support your preordained hypothesis. Thus you try to prevent historical progress even by such rotten means as criminalizing truth seeking, and with an infinitude of childish and boring ad hominems."
My response: The first sentence is ironic if you read your own last paraggraph. As for the rest... why do you assume that I do not accept and even support the right of even the most neo-Nazi Holocaust denier to speak freely? As a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I can tell you that I do support their rights. You are, sir, quite simply incorrect here.

Your quote: "Mr. Getz, you are not an historian. You are an unskilled propagandist."
My response: Let the readers judge for themselves. In fact, I'm asking my graduate students to read this exchange verbatim, in the interests of free discourse and their own education. Since you brought it up, however, I would like to ask on what basis you call yourself a historian? My publication record stands for you to see should you wish to do so.

E. Simon - 11/19/2005

Yes, no "gas chambers except for delousing." That's right! - Zyklon B was an insecticide. So there we have it.

This should really not be seen as a response to #71243, which I might have said doesn't merit one. Saying that the post rather speaks for itself is a better way of putting it.

Frederick Thomas - 11/19/2005

Mr. Getz, it is difficult to imagine a post so unconvincing as yours. Do you feel that simply reasserting the stupid, the unproven and the highly questionable will help your cause? This post would not convince Alfred E. Newman. Let me see if I can educate you a little:

You are the denier here. You deny the historical reality of hundreds of allied aerial photos, of the factories, of the barracks, of the lack of any gas chambers except for delousing, of the camp records, of the millions of "death camp" survivors, of the epidemilogical records in Europe at that time. Is this enough of a "convergence" to get your attention?

These hard facts do not contradict the many deaths, the shootings in the early days of the Russian campaign, the abuse and disease, or the massive slave labor. But they do bring into question the glitz Hollywood version we are asked by your lobby to swallow. (A little hint-nobody believes it anymore.)

All of these facts would make any real historian want to know why they directly contradict the "evidence" of Nuerenburg, most of which which was either questionable, improper, forgeries, Soviet propaganda, or testimony extracted under torture.

You are aware that due process was explicitly forbidden at these proceedings at the insistence of the Soviets, and there were no rules of evidence. They were just more Moscow show trials, but they are the entire basis for your case.

You deny any evidence which does not support your preordained hypothesis. Thus you try to prevent historical progress even by such rotten means as criminalizing truth seeking, and with an infinitude of childish and boring ad hominems.

Mr. Getz, you are not an historian. You are an unskilled propagandist.

Trevor Russell Getz - 11/18/2005

The difference between revisionist historical enquiry and denial in the case of the Holocaust has been so effectively dealt with by Grobman and Shermer in Denying History that it is hardly worth responding to denial posts. However, it is worth noting the following.

1) Evidence for the Holocaust, for the gas chambers, and for the estimate 5.5-6.5 million Jews (as an example) is proven by a CONVERGENCE of evidence. Picking one or two little bits of evidence does not impress.

2) Deniers (as in this post) fail to contextualize, 'believe' any evidence no matter how dubious that supports their points, and fail to build a complex picture using evidence convergence.

3) Deniers may protest, and even call themselves 'revisionists', but in each case in which they have become prominent their links to anti-semitic and often widely racist parties has become quickly evident.

4) Real, honorable, revisionism is made difficult by irresponsible non-history and pseudo-history.

There is a group of less well known individuals who similarly deny the Atlantic slave trade.

John Cameron - 11/18/2005

In dissent freedom.

Frederick Thomas - 11/18/2005

...is to characterize historical events acccurately, based upon the verifiable facts.

Except in totalitarian countries, it is not to fabricate history according to political convenience, though history has often enough been bastardized for this purpose.

The badgering of Mr. Smith in this thread is an embarrassment to the cause of historical inquiry. There is no excuse for criminalizing free historical inquiry, and it pains me that some thought police exist who feel that is so. It reminds one of "Animal Farm."

It must bother the thought police that so much of the holocaust story has been contradicted factually by for example, the release of the complete detailed Auschwitz records by Russia in 1995, 50 years after they were acquired. These contained the complete list of inmates, their numbers, barracks, beds, assignments, diets, and medical records.

That release caused the NY Times to report that the number of dead at Auschwitz was actually 1,160,000, of all faiths, of which 898,000 died of typhus, and most of the balance of other diseases. The deaths were grouped mainly into the winters of 42 and 43.

The records indicated that Auschwitz was an enormous slave - labor manufacturing facility critical to the war in the east, and that Kommandant Hoess was removed after the first epidemic for not preventing it, which badly hurt production and endangered the troops. This is the same Hoess who was later tortured and threatened with the murder of his children at Nueremberg, if he did not claim 4 million died.

The role of Auschwitz was actually confirmed hundreds of times by US and British reconnaissance aircraft, which showed 33 enormous factories, and rows on rows on rows of barracks.

OK, this is documented, and looks pretty credible, so it should be reason for any historian of the period to ask the obvious academic questions, and seek corraboration.

They can not. They may be arrested by the pigs from "Animal Farm."

Mr. Smith is apparently a sincere seeker after open historical inquiry. If there are any other such here, they could do well to support as free an inquiry into the history of WW II as they wish for other historical questions.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/18/2005

Many of us have argued that, with regard to other cases (Ward Churchill being the most obvious). But there are plenty of less objectionable people being persecuted for their views, much closer to home. I'm afraid your pet cause just isn't going to make it to the head of the list anytime soon.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/17/2005

Do not mistake my disdain for the researchers you cite or your own conclusions, which is near total, for approval of the criminalization of thought or research.

Frederick Thomas - 11/17/2005

Thank you for your kind remarks-I think!

By the way, the unknown point in my approach is in predating the big bang. Somehow, a 10**(-36) singularity with 10**( 34) C heat energy came into existence. How?

If it was simply one of trillions of universes winking in and out of existence in an infinity of time dimensions, as some think, then the conceptualization of "God" becomes infinitely more awesome, and "reality" more impossible to define.

I take your point regarding fundamentalists of any religion. In the case of literal Biblical interpretations, I find that the bible works better when one realizes that the original authors had to deal with two problems:

1. The need for metaphor and simile to express the inexpressable, such as the use of a known thing-a week-to express the period of creation. Metaphorical expression is just that, and it can be beautiful, or ugly when you take it too literally.

2. The universal need to personalize everything. This is a human requirement-many people will not get it if it does not look like they do. Hence God as father.

We have to give the original authors credit for solving these problems while recognizing what they are doing.

In any case, Dan Brown is making a lot of money writing novels about such arcania, and perhaps you and I should as well.

Ryan Portillo - 11/17/2005

"Paine not only believed in God; he believed in intelligent design. But Paine's version of "intelligent design" inextricably linked science and religion, while the Kansas school board's definition inevitably makes adversaries out of science and religion."
para. found toward end of art.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/17/2005

And that, my friends, is the Holocaust denier's bibliography right there. A denser rogue's gallery of historiographical atrocities would be hard to compile.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/17/2005

Korea and China would be the relevant aggrieved parties, in the case of Japan: neither of them have laws against Holocaust denial or significant investments in Holocaust education, but both governments (all four governments, actually: two Koreas and two/one Chinas) have taken strong diplomatic stands (and the odd riot) against Japanese obscurantism and cover Japanese atrocities quite thoroughly in their state-run education systems.

So it's roughly parallel.

As far as "direct moral equivalence" goes, I'm not really going to argue against it, but there's a narrative difference between Japan's brutal campaigns and occupations on the one hand and Germany's brutal campaigns, occupations and industrialized death camps on the other. It's easier to understand the evil of the Nazi regime, and easier to condemn it without getting into sticky questions of Allied wartime tactics and excesses.

For what it's worth, my speciality is modern Japan, and my classes (both Japan and World History) get a pretty full taste of the world-wide horror of WWII.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/17/2005

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Lisa Kazmier - 11/16/2005

I like the gravity comparison.

I don't think they "have" to prove it in that the ID people don't want to prove anything. They want a kind of awe or respect like pre-Galileo or something. They assert that their faith is enough to mean it must be valid. They just can't stand the teaching of evolution that disses them.

Peter Kovachev - 11/16/2005

Mr. Schwartz,

You are quite right to point to science's murky origins and its abuses and to remind us that it is merely a tool. However, as I read more on this topic, it seems to me that the main thrust of the creationists' arguments is not to question the validity of science as a way of knowing, but quite the opposite; to apropriate science's stature and to claim that their own interpretations are scientific.

In that the creationists today reveal lack of faith not in science but in religion. The current practice of clothing theological arguments in the language of science debases both science and religion. Its products are pseudoscience and and pseudo-religion. It is one thing to argue for the limits of science's scope, such as its inability to provide us with objective truths about the existence of God, or to supply us with ethical answers, it's another to insist that non-scientific ways of knowing, which should stand on their own, be grafted onto the body of science.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 11/15/2005

To Lynn Bryann:

I am not sure I understand how is that "without christian humanism" there would not be science. So ancient greeks who began to develop scientific method and observation centuries before christianity came into existence, needed it for such quest? I think the point that creationists are trying to make was long ago made by many of the so called post modern philosophers and sociologists of science: yes, science does not develop as an uninterested activity nor is an apolitical activity. But were creationists actually trying to make such point? I do not think so. Actually they believed in an ever more naive form of scientific philosophy (English Common sense school, as George Marsden explain us), that pretends basically that our direct experience is somehow good enought to be trusted, as if experience per se wasn´t politically constructed or ideologically focused. That´s what motivated their hermeneutics (literalism is just the logical conclusion of the principle..no over interpretations of the text.if the text tell us that the world was created in six days, it is cause it was that way) and ultimately their "scientific" quest, looking for "proof" in the geological record and biology of the absolute veracity of the bible.

E. Simon - 11/15/2005

And what of when science extends human lifespans to 200, 300 years and beyond? Funny how those self-appointed to keep science in line so consistently confuse their contempt for the scientific establishment with contempt for science as an institution. Apparently it never occurs to some to actually let the science, rather than its human practitioners, speak for itself and argue the facts and methodology directly. Perhaps they possess the faculty to do so, perhaps they lack it. However, one witnesses the type of selective silence typified by the latter, and scientists are yet admonished for not engaging on what is arbitrarily deemed the appropriate intel(l)ectual level, as if that would somehow be a legitimizing measure. Funny that.

Jeff Thomas Dube - 11/15/2005

I have to agree. My formal education is in the field of microbiology and I can say, without a doubt, that evolution is an observable phenomenon. If you repeatedly challenge a culture of bacteria with antibiotics they will eventually development resistence through the mechanisms of genetic mutation. They adapt and evolve at an alarming rate because they reproduce at an alarming rate.

As for intelligent design, it has no business in a science classroom. If you need to teach it than put it where it belongs - in a philosophy class.

Steven R Alvarado - 11/15/2005

Great point, one of the roles of religion is to point out and and highlight the falibility of man. When intelectuals of any stripe begin to portray themselves as the keeper of all truth someone should whisper in their ear "Remember, thou art mortal".

jack quon - 11/15/2005

Mr. Dresner,
In light of your comment,
"We have laws against "reckless endangerment": laws against Holocaust Denial are, in some sense, an extension of that into the realm of historical study. Some falsehoods really pose dangers to the present and future."

One must assume the continuing distortions and denials by the Japanese government over actions throughout Asia from 1936 to 1945, and, which have a direct moral equivalence to Nazis atrocities, does not constitute 'reckless endangerment'. How else to account for the indifferent silence of the U.S., Europe, and those promoting Holocaust education for all.

Fred Tepper - 11/15/2005

Bradley, I suspect you fall into Mark's description of a "crank," because will you EVER believe the Holocaust happened? What more can it take? There's been 60 years of research and evidence. Not to mention the testimony from people who were there. What is there to debate??? It sure sounds to me like nothing can ever change your mind.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/14/2005

Mr. Smith: Your continued use of quotation marks around gas chamber suggests to me that you do not qualify as a "good willed" skeptic.

Peter Kovachev - 11/14/2005

You're welcome, Mr. Safranski. Uh, guess what? I already quoted you in a post to Mr. Thomas in the "How Does the Memory of Jewish Suffering Affect Israel's Chance to Make Peace?"

Peter Kovachev - 11/14/2005

Well, well, Mr. Thomas, you can write pretty good stuff when you take a break from haranguing Jews and Israel. I've come across this sort of defence of intelligent design, but never with such clarity and elegance. You can well imagine this hasn't been easy for me to say.

Your contention can't be proven under the rules of science, of course, but then again neither can the assumption that all that is simply originated and happened by chance. I'm inclined to believe the latter, but have to admit that it too is based on faith.

Not being American and not having a good idea about the debate, would I be wrong in assuming that the battle is not just over the proposal of intelligent design as a possibility or a theory, but over the details? Namely, the literal descriptions in the Bible as interpreted by Protestant Christians? And if this is such a big issue, why can not there be a compromise where Christian and other creation narratives from other religions are covered too?

mark safranski - 11/14/2005

Thank you Mr.Kovachev.

E. Simon - 11/14/2005

Whatever the purported common origins of science or faith, whatever Galileo's personal feelings of individuals - related or not - in the faith establishments, whatever Galileo's feelings toward the Church as a whole, I can see no way in which heliocentrism is not antithetical to the proposition that the sun revolves around the earth. And although I'm not sure if the thrust of your argument would support the currently vogue belief that science, in itself, is a form of dogma, I think as a recurrent theme in the science/faith discussion it's worth addressing here: whatever the motivations of a given scientist, if science is a dogma, it actively invites controversy and revision more than any other of which I'm aware. I think there's something to be said for that. It implies that in order to remain viable, the standards for competing ideas or revisions must be a bit higher than what the IDers aim for, the motivations of any given scientist or any given defender of the scientific method notwithstanding.

Lynn Bryan Schwartz - 11/14/2005

I do not necessarily disagree with you on certain points, but do miss the thrust of my argument. The Galileo example has become so cliche to show how science and faith are somehow antithetical. This is false. Galileo did not think his work was an alternative to faith or the Bible. His beef was with certain leaders of the Church at the time. Moreover, Galileo had work for the Vatican, his daughter was a nun. Finally, without Christian humanism, a product of the religious, there would be no science. In short, both sides have it wrong. But I think it shocking that promoters of science contra faith seem so blissfully naive of their our origins.

E. Simon - 11/14/2005

I think what the interior design crowd and their passive supporters have been lost on is the issue of adaptation. "Survival of the fittest" is still controversial in its social implications today, even if less so than it was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But I think this idea has been overemphasized in biology, and unwitting lay folk probably rationalize around that idea by underscoring that any living forms found today exists because it "couldn't have been any other way." But it could have been literally an innumerable quantity of other ways. And there's where we rub up against almost a kind of species-wide human predestinationism, whereby if there is assumed to be some scientific reason for why people are here and walking the earth, then it must also be recognized as being akin to the spiritual reason - or reconciled against it.

I think it is difficult to understand interior design as a social phenomenon unless one examines the issue of chance - both in terms of how organisms (and individuals) experience genetic change and which of those changes are promoted, as well as the equally subject to chance stability of long-lived species. The ID ideas smack of a need to not see humans as having come about by any single event or series of events that could have had anything to do with chance - even though the majority of them were. Just as the precise genome of any one of their children will also be the result of an infinite number of chance events. And that's just counting a single offspring of 2 predecessors.

E. Simon - 11/14/2005

If science is not objective reality, or as I would put it, an extension of our understanding thereof, then it sure does a damn good job of helping us to achieve it. For example, when Galileo challenged the church's stance that the sun revolved around the earth, the methodology behind his explanations were somewhat indirect. However, his advancing of our understanding of astronomy has allowed us to build spacecraft and telescopes with which to bring a former theory even closer to objective reality. Same idea holds with Einstein's theory of relativity, which was just based on thought experiments until physical experiments made the explanations even less deniable to objective reality. Unless one takes technology to _not_ be a part of objective reality, it's hard to contest that science allows for the clarification of objective reality. And as for the facts - experimentally derived or otherwise - upon which scientific theories are founded, I could understand why so many gloss over them and find them boring, but how they could have come to be less valued as an especially useful form of objective reality is beyond me.

Frederick Thomas - 11/14/2005

Science has been more political and financial than scientific, a point which you make rather vividly.

Peter Kovachev - 11/14/2005

Dead-on, Mr. Safranski.

I'm particularly in awe of your:

"Historical debate is not on the same plane as scientific inquiry in terms of methodology but the two fields do share a common problem - it is impossible to have a scholarly exchange with a crank because the intrinsic quality of being a crank means not accepting empirical evidence with any methodological consistency that would allow their underlying belief to be challenged."

You explain in one sentence what I've at times tried to explain in pages...and still got nowhere. I will wind up quoting you sooner or later, but will remember to give credit where credit is due.

mark safranski - 11/14/2005

Historical debate is not on the same plane as scientific inquiry in terms of methodology but the two fields do share a common problem - it is impossible to have a scholarly exchange with a crank because the intrinsic quality of being a crank means not accepting empirical evidence with any methodological consistency that would allow their underlying belief to be challenged.

ID advocates, to the extent that they portray their beliefs as " science" are cranks. So too are Holocaust deniers. The difference between the two is that one is merely irrational and the second is irrational and act out of a desire to rehabilitate Nazism, usually because they themselves are antisemites.

Stalin was a genocidal monster like Hitler but that has nothing to do with whether or not the Holocaust happened.

Truman used the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but that fact is not an argument for moral equivalence to Nazi genocide.

The meaning of the Holocaust and its interpretation has been debated for sixty years. What serious scholars do not debate is whether or not it happened.

We leave that to the cranks.

Frederick Thomas - 11/14/2005

Thank you for some true "intelligent design," in a post delivered with conciseness and humor. It brings a smile to see a liberal arts prof unable to defend his thesis himself and instead relying entirely upon another's opinion to defend his pet theorem. Talk about a leap of faith!

There are those of us with a ton of science and engineering in their backgrounds who consider the universe and its ongoing development damned intelligent.

It is possible to conceive of the massive intelligence contained in the system of laws within the dot of super energy which formed the original universe as vastly superior to anything human, since we ourselves and everything else here developed from it.

Its system of laws governing gravity, electromagnetism, chemistry, physics, and various forms of energy made the universe - and us - develop the way it did. Is it such a jump to presume that the sum total of those myriad intelligences may be called "God," if one prefers? I can not think of a better alternative name for something so great, and suppose that that is how our concepts of religion were developed originally.

Perhaps this is simply old-style academic Christian bashing rearing its ugly head. If so it is time to let it go, together with the laughable holocaust comparisions.

What we see around us is indeed a magnificent design, and is superbly intelligent, and it does not matter much to the cause of truth that some may want to stand a little more in awe of it than others.

Lynn Bryan Schwartz - 11/14/2005

I care little about the intelligent design argument. I won't try to defend it. I do, however, appreciate a point made by creationists about the need to question the aura of infalibility that "science" has garnered in the present day. It seems we talk about science as if it were an objective reality into itself. This is false. The various scientific disciplines are merely tools that are used to try to understand our world. They are NOT objective reality. We can say the same about religion. In this way, creationists make a valid point. If you care to probe the murky depths of the origins of modern science, you will not find disinterested people motivated solely by the search for truth.

Trevor Russell Getz - 11/14/2005

I hope this comment will add to the discussion. These are just my musings, gleaned from many readings and discussions. It seems to me that:

Evolution is not a theory. It is an observation. We know it 'happens' (we can watch it happen). There are many theories about why and how it happens, and not all have equal weight.

Intelligent Design is not a theory. It is a belief. This does not invalidate it, but does suggest that its place is NOT within a science classroom.

Michael Glen Wade - 11/14/2005

Fine analysis, not unlike that of Charles Krauthammer in Time a few weeks back. I was amazed to find Krauthammer out there making sense on this one. It is not science, and its backers are --- along with our mentally deficient, undereducated president--- either completely clueless as to what science is, or they are special pleaders who believe that fraud in what they believe to be a good cause is OK. Meanwhile, we are saddled with a president who has neither courage nor wisdom, and with the 59 million fellow citizens who voted for the latest member of a family which has enriched itself at the public trough for three generations now.

John Chapman - 11/14/2005

Gravity like evolution, which has withstood the test of time, is also a theory but provable. If these ID people could come up with actual empirical evidence that could be repeatedly tested, all secular scientists would have to accept it. The ID people are trying desperately to do that and have even made some clever arguments in that direction but so far it still doesn’t pass for science.

John D. Beatty - 11/14/2005

Why is it a criminal offense? Simple: "Never Again!" By denying the truth of industrialized genocide it becomes possible again.

Personally I don't care if you deny the Earth beneath your feet. But doing that will not enable systematic murder again.

Hugh Jardohn - 11/14/2005

The author's concern for our "Intellectual Heritage" is too little too late. I don't know one way or the other about what ID is but one thing about the dust-up does bring a chuckle. The same people that have no problem jamming the homosexual agenda down the throats of 1st graders, passing out condoms to kids and whisking pregnant 12 year old girls across three State lines to for abortions their parents don't know about have their panties in a wad about class material. It's time for a real separation of School and State.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/14/2005

I'm not a fan of those laws, and I don't think the truth requires the criminalization of falsehood. But I can sympathize with those who feel that there really are ideas which are criminally wrong, even though I think the method is deeply flawed.

We have laws against "reckless endangerment": laws against Holocaust Denial are, in some sense, an extension of that into the realm of historical study. Some falsehoods really pose dangers to the present and future.