Sam Chen Again

Posted By on July 3, 2007

Or
“90% True Announces 2007 Samuel Chen Award for Scientific Do-Nothingness”

.: It’s been awhile since I picked on our dear friend Sam Chen, of Overwhelming Evidence fame. Two reasons for this: 1) I’ve been doing other things (as evidenced by the general lack of posts) and 2) it’s too easy. How easy? Well, for starters, there are at least three posts up on the Overwhelming Evidence main page that are blatant parodies of intelligent design/creationist writings. (I don’t want to give the exact number, because then they might figure out which posts are parodies — although by not doing so I’m giving them a little bit of credit, which rest assured is not my intention.)

.: However, there are some items which are just too good not to ridicule. Here’s the latest:

The Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC) is proud to present the 2007 Casey Luskin Graduate Award, presented annually to a deserving college graduate for excellence in student advocacy of intelligent design.

The recipient of the 2007 Casey Luskin Graduate Award will remain anonymous for the protection of the recipient. The many students, professors, and scientists who have been denied degrees or tenure, and removed from positions and jobs for no other reason than acceptance of—or even sympathy to—intelligent design theory is very telling of the importance of keeping these bright young minds out of the crosshairs of those opposed to open-minded investigation and critical thought. . . . – IDURC Announces 2007 Casey Luskin Graduate Award

.: A few questions will surely come to the casual reader, namely: What the hell is the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center, who the hell is Casey Luskin, and what does one have to accomplish to deserve such a prestigious award? I will try my best to answer these questions.

What the hell is the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center?
.: Good question! According to their About Us page, IDURC “is a student organization dedicated to”:

1) investigating intelligent design as a viable scientific theory
2) promoting education and critical thinking about neo-Darwinism
3) supporting efforts of those trying to revise school standards to include discussion of the controversy surrounding evolutionary theory
4) providing a forum for high school and college students to present, debate, and discuss their ideas about intelligent design and neo-Darwinism
5) clarifying the debate concerning neo-Darwinism, intelligent design, and creationism
6) encouraging creative exploration of the aesthetic dimensions of design.

.: Would you be surprised if I told you they’ve accomplished none of these things? A cursory examination of their archives will find no original research pertaining to any scientific principles developed or discovered under an intelligent design framework. Nor will you find critical thinking or actual education of neo-Darwinian theory. However, you will find plenty muddled criticisms, like this one:

Think about it. No matter what evidence is presented, no matter how convincing our arguments are, can we really convince die-hard Darwinists that they’re wrong? It’s just like a religion. Now, I’m not saying religious devotion isn’t a good thing. Refusing to conform to the current popular trend reflects a deep-seated commitment to one’s principles and beliefs. At the same time, however, an ideological doctrine such as this should not be taught as fact in public schools. There will probably always be a naturalistic explanation for something. Just because evolutionists believe fervently that they’re right does not, in the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, “make it so.” – Tristan Abbey

.: If I can get this straight, evolution is an unfalsifiable religion — not that religion is bad — and so it shouldn’t be taught in school as a fact, even though there is probably a naturalistic explanation for everything, but I support a theory that suggests otherwise . . . what? This is a one-step-forward-two-stumbles-back defense of intelligent design if I’ve ever seen one. Maybe he means “science can always give a plausible naturalistic explanation for anything, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t caused by [totally counter-intuitive non-explanation X]!”

.: That said, they have provided a forum for “high school and college students to present, debate, and discuss their ideas,” but it’s a yahoo group, and I unfortunately was denied access when I tried to join. I don’t understand why; I’m a college student, which means I meet all the criteria their group requires.

.: Other than that, IDURC really hasn’t done anything since Samuel Chen succeeded Tristan Abbey as director (in January 2006!). Well, except for their Casey Luskin Award, which leads us to our next question:

Who the hell is Casey Luskin?
.: From the announcement:

Luskin, for whom the award is named, was the first student truly to step out of his comfort zone as an undergrad and take a stand for intelligent design—a stand that would be seen across the nation. His founding of the Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center has been a great step forward for the intelligent design movement and, more importantly, for academic freedom everywhere. Today, Luskin continues his work with the ID movement as a lawyer and legal analyst for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington.

.: Most scientific revolutions are the result of hard-working scientists working years to accumulate evidence to support their hypothesis and challenge orthodoxy (see Transposons). Luskin, wanting to challenge “Darwinian” orthodoxy with intelligent design, became . . . a lawyer? He might as well; he could never make it as a geneticist.

Miller started off his “prediction” by simply observing that humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes and apes have 24 pairs; therefore two ape chromosomes were fused into one human chromosome. Miller claims that this simple chromosome-counting requires a fusion event if common ancestry is true. But is that really the case?

. . .

(Note: If Miller had added the argument that Darwinists try to maximize parsimony, i.e. minimize the number of evolutionary steps, he could have made this prediction that humans should have a fused chromosome. But in my understanding, that is not the line of argumentation Miller used in his testimony.) – Casey Luskin [emphasis added]

.: The ellipsis represents a single paragraph, which evidently is the minimum length of text required before Luskin can utterly contradict what he has just written (this is only a hypothesis; if you have examples of Luskin contradicting himself within a paragraph, please let me know).

What does one have to accomplish to deserve such a prestigious award?
.: Keeping in tradition with most ID awards, it helps if the award is named after yourself:

We are proud to name the IDURC’s graduate award after Mr. Casey Luskin and delighted to name him an honorary recipient. Casey will receive a certificate of achievement and be listed as a recipient of the award which now bears his name.

.: Other than that, all you need to do to win this award is demonstrate “excellence and courage in research and promotion of intelligent design.” Since no such research was highlighted in the announcement, owing to the anonymity of the recipient, I can only speculate as to what that entails.

.: I’m really clueless here, folks. What could he have done to deserve this award? I hope the certificate winds up on eBay; I’d love to hang it on my wall. It’d go well next to my other certificate:


90% True Award for Scientifical Awesomeness

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Comments

8 Responses to “Sam Chen Again”

  1. Gigi says:

    I’ll be putting this on my page, thank you very much.

  2. sparc says:

    I’ll cite your post at my (partly German) blog.

  3. ivy privy says:

    How long do you suppose they intend to keep Hannah Maxson’s identity secret?

  4. Cody says:

    Way to go, Hannah. Your anonymous acceptance of this dubious award is a testament to your courageous promotion of intelligent design.

  5. […] Others have already deftly skewered the sheer absurdity of the award itself, where even the top prize is just a Behe book, a couple of ten dollar bills, and a certificate sure to be chiefly composed of clip-art. But the real point of the award seems to be the on-message persecution posturing: aside from Luskin’s honorary patting of himself on the back, the winners are all being kept dramatically anonymous, “for the protection of the recipient.” In fact, it’s worth quoting the litany of laughable fears in full: The many students, professors, and scientists who have been denied degrees or tenure, and removed from positions and jobs for no other reason than acceptance of—or even sympathy to—intelligent design theory is very telling of the importance of keeping these bright young minds out of the crosshairs of those opposed to open-minded investigation and critical thought. […]

  6. lauren says:

    hey hey hey this one what the hell is it? You made me think thanks i needed it!!!

  7. […] About Sam Chen we all remember, but who were those audience members that seemed in disagreement with Dembski’s […]

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