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Catching up with the literature


Between the tide of expert reports, depositions, testimony, articles, and editorials produced in the course of the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- all available via a special section of NCSE's website -- and the flood of articles and editorials provoked by the Kansas state board of education's November 8, 2005, vote to adopt a set of science standards in which the scientific status of evolution is systematically impugned, it is a challenge to keep up even with only the most important articles on the ongoing creationism/evolution controversy. Here are three worthy articles published on-line in October 2005 that might have been unjustly overlooked amid the commotion.

First, Marshall Berman contributed "Intelligent Design: The New Creationism Threatens All of Science and Society" to APS News, the newsletter of the American Physical Society. Citing the Wedge document, Berman argues, "The current Intelligent Design movement poses a threat to all of science and perhaps to secular democracy itself." Noting that "[t]he movement is highly political, very astute, extremely well-marketed, disingenuous, and grossly misunderstood by most Americans," he calls upon his scientific colleagues to help to defend science: "Replacing sound science and engineering with pseudo-science, polemics, blind faith, and wishful thinking won't save you when the curtain of "Dark Ages II" begins to fall!"

Second, Mark Perakh contributed "The Dream World of William Dembski's Creationism" to the latest issue (vol. 11, no. 4) of Skeptic; the text of his article is available on-line only on the talkreason website. Updating his extensive critique in his Unintelligent Design (Prometheus Books, 2004), Perakh attempts to expose the basic flaws in Dembski's work. Perakh analyzes everything from the "explanatory filter" through "specified complexity" and "complex specified information" to "the Law of Conservation of Information," Dembski's misuse of the No Free Lunch theorems, and "the displacement problem," and concludes that almost all of Dembski's writing "turns out to be poorly substantiated, contradictory, and often self-aggrandizing."

Finally, Pat Shipman contributed "Being Stalked by Intelligent Design" to the November/December 2005 issue of American Scientist. Like Berman, Shipman admitted that she formerly ignored creationism as a ridiculous aberration, until it struck close to home -- in Shipman's case, in Dover, Pennsylvania. And like Berman, she concludes with a call to action: "As scientists, we must stop ignoring the ID movement. It won't go away. Each of us must learn to avoid jargon in order to communicate better with the public. Every scientist should become a mentor; share your experience of the wonder and beauty of science! Finally, critically, we must expose Intelligent Design for what it really is: religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom."