Designed Intelligent, So You Don't Have To Be
It's been 80 years since the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 definitively settled the issue of whether monkeys could be held legally accountable for teaching the Theory of Evolution in public schools. Truly, it was a great moment for Science. I still get teary whenever I watch the video of Mr. Pepe marking his territory as he delivers his closing screech to the jury.
I mention this now because many prominent opinion mongers have been mongering about a supposed "Round II" of the Scopes Monkey Trial being played out in Dover, Pennsylvania. This time, however, it's a battle purporting to pit Science against Science: Evolution vs. Intelligent Design. As a monger myself, I didn't want to feel left out when my medication wore off and I was compelled to prostitute my point of view to anyone who would have it, so I set myself to do some research.
The first question that needed answering was whether Intelligent Design was based on science at all. I started with a Google search that returned, naturally, 32 million hits for porn. After browsing briefly through the results for three or four hours I refined the search by bribing Google with a few Booleans.
Intelligentists aren't shy about what they stand for, so I thankfully only had to do about five minutes of reading. Their argument basically boils down to this: Existence is complicated; therefore someone, or something, must have designed it to the last detail. They also have very intense views on pocket watches in sealed mason jars.
Yeah, I know, it sounds like a rushed high school essay. To be fair, many scientific theories started off sketchy. Einstein's first release of General Relativity, for instance, proposed that space-time could be curved because it was "gooey, like some kind of sweet cosmic caramel." That defense won't work for Intelligent Design. It clearly isn't Science.
For one, it doesn't obey the scientific method, a process painstaking developed by the leading lights of rational thought back when you could putter around with gas and get whole fields of respectable study named after you. Here's the mission statement that resulted:
Here do we declare that our method will be to, without bias, write down our data, fashion it into a workable theory, submit it openly for peer review and, having it confirmed and refined, using what has been gained through the sweat of intellect to trick the government into giving us money.
You see, the leading lights knew. They knew that the basic purpose behind every organized group of individuals was to get money from the government. Science, as a whole, was merely one more of those groups.
Science needed an edge, because the vast majority of Science deals with things that normal people would not deem practical, such as using super magnets to levitate frogs. So when scientists bring their plans to the Government spending panel, they're on the same ground as a film guy who wants to make a documentary about the Statue of Liberty's underwear.
Only one applicant gets to leave with the money, with the loser lucky to receive even an unexpired coupon. It is very important, for all Humankind, that Science gets that money because all Science, no matter how randomly applied, eventually adds up to something revolutionary, like a cure for cancer or Doom III.
This is where the Scientific method comes in. When scientists go before anyone they're looking to get money from, their theories have already been edited by their peers to make the surviving facts sound really impressive. Note, for example, what they can do with just the title:
Observing How Water Freezes
Noting the Entropy of Dihydrogen Monoxide during Phase Changes
Compare that to the documentary guy, who probably just settled for a nod from his hamster after it made some "observations" on the draft paper. His case for practicality may be on the same level, but Science will absolutely slaughter him with the details.
Intelligentists don't have that kind of internal review. They just aren't fit to practice real "Science." Don't believe me? Then feast your eyes on this authentic "computer generated" simulation showing the two sides at work with the Government Money Panel:
SCIENTIST: …so you can see that without $15 million, I fear for the well being of every puppy, kitten, and cute baby on Earth.
PANALIST#1: Very grave, Mr. Scientist, but what do you have to justify your conclusions?
SCIENTIST: If you will refer to footnote three, you'll see that I have provided an arcane wad of math depicting some hardcore calculus-dom with an amputated rhombus.
PANALIST#4: Agggh! God, now I'll never be able to use exponents without feeling dirty.
PANALIST#1: What about this diagram on page seven?
SCIENTIST: Oh, that.I was feeling kind of hungry so I drew a picture of the Death Star being attacked by a squadron of cheeseburgers.
PANALIST#2: Well I don't see what that has to do with—
SCIENTIST: Notice, however, that I included the proper acceleration vectors for all the pickles they fire into the turbolaser towers, along with the chemical structure of the proteins making up the Black Angus beef pilots.
PANALIST(S): approving murmur
SCIENTIST: I'd like that $15 million in the form of a giant stack of twenties, if you don't mind.
INTELLIGENTIST: …and that, gentlemen, is the great work you'll be funding with a $15 million grant to our think-tank.
PANALIST#1: You certainly didn't waste any time. We need a few points clarified, however; specifically, how you obtained your initial findings about Creation.
INTELLIGENTIST: Well if you'll note footnote four—
PANALIST#2: Yes, um, about that. All of your footnotes appear to be a badly pixilated clipart of a beaver chewing on a hydrogen atom.
PANALIST#3: And the entire text of your proposal after the summary paragraph is just the word "gnaw" repeated over and over again.
PANALIST#2: And the summary paragraph itself appears to be the jacket summary of "The DaVinci Code" written in a font wherein all of the letters are made up of tiny plastic Jesus figures.
INTELLIGENTIST: …can I get that coupon made out to Golden Corral?