Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Your cell phone is safe-- but is your kids' science class?

As regular readers of this blog are aware by now, I have posted quite a bit on why Intelligent Design, a belief which I personally share (and I am not timid about saying that the 'Intelligent Designer' is in fact, God), is NOT the same thing as science, and therefore should not be taught in science classes until and unless it undergoes the same standards of testing as those scientific theories which are taught(including evolution); that is, a rigorous and ongoing evaluation of both existing and new evidence, including the construction of experiments which can be replicated. Every day, there is more evidence, in the form of DNA linkages, the discovery of fossils, replicatable genetic experiments, and the discoveries of new characteristics and enzymes in existing species, NONE of which contradicts evolution and much of which is in line with what it predicts. Yet, I see none of this with I.D. Its proponents simply want it to be put into the schools as an untested hypothesis.

I had been looking about for a current example of the scientific method, and today's news has a perfect example.

A hypothesis had been formed some years back that cellular phones might be causing brain cancers, based on a number of such cancers found in regular users of cell phones.

So, what was done? Was there a rushed and panicked response to ban cell phones? No. What was done was that a study was begun at the British Institute of Cancer Research. The results are in, and the study has concluded that there is no evidence that cell phones cause brain cancer. Of course the study only examined people who used them for one decade and there will certainly be more studies (as there should be), but the results are pretty convincing that the original reaction was way overblown.

Now, getting back to I.D., to put it in schools without any documented scientific evidence would be akin to having banned cell phones ten years ago with no documented evidence that they were dangerous. That would have been bad science, and so is I.D.


Anonymous said...

Eli.. Read my comment on your Aug 3 blog. I agree that according to some scientists Intelligent Design does not qualify as "science". The problem is that there are no "required" or "basic" classes that explore other reasonable explanations for the source of life. A true scientist then would feel obligated to explain to a class that there are many explanations and that Evolution is one. Also, Intelligent Design and other theories do not necessarily contradict or negate the science behind evolution. Why not allow a science class to be exposed to other lines of thought?

Eli Blake said...

rightwing vigilante:

Cell phone use while driving is a completely different matter. There will always be people who use any product in a stupid way (and it's not limited to females, either). But the study shows that cell phones themselves are not dangerous, at least insofar as the suggestion that they cause brain cancer is concerned.

Eli Blake said...


I did read your comment. And you know that I actually agree that I.D. is true. And, I have no problem with it being discussed in a free-flowing discussion (heck, there is no reason you can't talk about everything from bigfoot to cold fusion during a free discussion in a class, IF you want to.)

However, my problem is when it is made a mandatory part of the curriculum via the actions of a school board or a legislature. For example, the Dover, Pennsylvania school board recently voted 6-3 to require that I.D. be taught in the classroom.

This is something entirely new, in that it takes a hypothesis that has not been scientifically tested, and puts it into the core curriculum of a science class. Because of the current controversy, it is entirely appropriate in a civics class or a government class, but without the verified scientific evidence that upholds it, it has no more reason to be considered scientifically valid than, say, the theories pushed by 'UFOlogists' who claim that extraterrestrials came here and planted the seeds of life.

Now, I do agree with you that the school curriculum should deal with all of the varied ideas surrounding the origin of life-- in a Philosophy class. But science is a well defined subject and before something makes it into a science class there must be some evidence that it is true.