Making the Rounds of the Moment
January 31, 2006
Customer: Hello. I wish to complain about this so-called 'scientific theory' what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very establishment.Politics of a Past Moment
Salesman: Oh yes, 'Intelligent Design'. What, uh... what's wrong with it?
Customer: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. Its vacuous, that's what's wrong with it!
Salesman: No, no, uh... what we need now is to 'teach the controversy'...
Customer: Look matey, I know an empty 'argument from incredulity' when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
Salesman: No, no, it's not empty: it's just being elaborated. Remarkable theory, 'Intelligent Design', innit, eh? I mean, just look at all these books and articles: millions and millions of words...!
Customer: The verbiage don't enter into it, my lad. It's stone dead. It's a non-starter. Empirically untestable, it belongs in metaphysics. This 'theory' makes no predictions; has no contribution to make beyond extended polemics; and can't even be honest about who it thinks the 'Designer' was. Bereft of all logical and epistemological credibility, it has no scientific status! If certain right-wing and fundamentalist pressure-groups hadn't hit upon it as a way of opposing decades of uncomfortable scientific and social progress, it'd be pushing up daisies! It's off the table. It's kicked the waste-paper bucket. THIS IS A NON-THEORY!
Salesman: Well, I'd better replace it then. [takes a quick peek around] Sorry, squire: looks like that's all we've got...
Customer: I see, I see. I get the picture.
Salesman: I've got a piece of coal that looks quite a bit like a human tibia, if you squint at it...
Customer: Pray, is it part of a theory that unifies the paleontological and biological sciences and leads to a powerful understanding of observed homologies and the nested hierarchy of life?
Salesman: Not really.
Customer: WELL IT'S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT FOR DARWINISM THEN, IS IT?
I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good.