How to Invite ID Into Conversation


(S. Joshua Swamidass) split this topic #23

14 posts were split to a new topic: Comments on Inviting ID Into Conversation

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #25

It seems like your rules are:

  1. Support you when I agree.

  2. Stay silent when I disagree.

That is how I understand the rules for you. Do you see why that is not going to work for me? That is asking me to disingenuous. I think honesty is important here, both when I agree and disagree.

This seems to be the crux of the difficulty for you. It seems like you are confused because I agree at times and disagree at others, so you think I’m duplicitous. Maybe I just disagree at times and agree at others. I feel obligated, at this juncture, to be honest about both sides of it.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #26

I for one certainly recognize that—and I certainly do appreciate your efforts to pursue peace.

While I can understand that viewpoint, I wonder how realistic that can be when ENV, for example, is such an outspoken and, it would seem, often deliberately outrageous public platform. (In crafting that sentence, I admit to recalling a great many shrill and over-the-top articles by David Klinghoffer. I say that as a Christian creationist who is very comfortable with ID as a philosophy, but not at all convinced at this point that “ID theory” is a testable scientific theory.) I recognize that the Discovery Institute doesn’t claim to be a Christian organization, nor are all staff and affiliates Christian. Yet, it can be expected that while private statements and behaviors are best handled privately—as Jesus taught in the Gospels— public statements and behaviors are inevitably subject to public scrutiny and comment, by any standard.

Yes, most every organization would prefer to discuss and to address their public image solely in a private and controlled, in-house assessment. Yet, I don’t see how that sort of private containment could ever be expected—especially when so much volatile, controversial, and very public dynamics are continually at work with organizations like the Discovery Institute.

I can well empathize with that kind of frustrating position. (I’ve had my own share of very frustrating experiences working in a series of secular and Christian organizations and institutions.)

As someone who recognizes the importance of scientific procedures for evaluating and detecting the role of intelligent agents (e.g., anthropologists determining if a mysterious object is of human or natural origin), I’m entirely in favor of a better understanding of design and the detection of intelligent agency. For that reason, I so wish that the management of the Discovery Institute would rethink their public image, especially in terms of the strategies employed at the ENV website. I want the Discovery Institute to have an effective and well-regarded organizational mission, even if I may disagree with various aspects of its positions.

I won’t take a position on that claim because I often find it difficult to determine accurately the internal motives of a person. Moreover, there can be a lot of subjectivity to my judging whether someone is challenging another for the sake of meaningful engagement and mutual clarification or whether something more sinister is involved. It can be especially hard to read people when we can’t see them face to face and read body language and voice inflections. Online forums are certainly less than ideal in that regard.

I certainly hope you will stay. Your voice is an extremely valuable one.

This has been my frustration with so many advocacy websites. Of course, considering the time, energy, and even expense required in moderating any social media platform, I recognize that there is no simple solution. Perhaps a cost-effective compromise would be for origins-related websites like ENV, AIG, ICR, and others to at least open a scholars-by-invitation forum where only a few academics post but the general public can observe.

Until then, Peaceful Science does provide an open forum where many perspectives can be represented. No forum is ideal but PS is trying to fill a need. I appreciate that.

One last point, seeing how I so often share a linguistics anecdote or a story. In this forum I can’t help but observe various miscommunications and talking-past one another and recall one of my undergrad linguistics professors who specialized in “cross-cultural miscommunications” and dialectical nuances and their associated confusions. Nowadays, in the international business world, there is a great deal of concern that native speakers of English and countless non-native speakers of English are regularly misunderstanding one another, sometimes at a cost of millions of dollars. One can find many published compilations of emails and SMS text messages which were misinterpreted 180 degrees opposite of their intended meanings. Some business experts are advocating the use of special editing/filtering software which would restrict all English language business communications to a relatively small vocabulary of carefully chosen, less-likely to be misunderstood words. That’s how big the stakes are. Misunderstanding one another is a growing problem in a world of international commerce and dialogue.

In various areas of the American South, especially Texas, I’ve noticed several especially glaring clashes over the misunderstanding of a southern term of courtesy. It is quite common for small business receptionists and even some call center personnel to reply to a caller with the word, Hon’, the common contraction of Honey. Many southerners consider it just plain friendly, but non-southerners often consider it a sarcastic and dismissive put-down. Thus, the New York City businessman visiting Ft. Worth calls the tow-truck service and says impatiently, “I’ve been waiting on the freeway for over 30 minutes now and I still haven’t seen anything of your driver!” The elderly dispatcher replies in a friendly voice: “Don’t ya worry, Hon’! Jus’ hold yer horses another ten minutes or so!” The New Yorker may reply with a string of profanity.

I’ve witnessed multiple blow-ups over situations just like that. What one party considers friendly etiquette–or simply a neutral reply—the other considers an insult. Human communications can get extremely complicated.

(Guy Coe) #27

@Agauger. I can say this much: @swamidass doesn’t “have it in for” ANY fellow believer. Anyone’s style can turn abrasive, as yours uncharacteristically just has. It does not lead me to question their honest faith and intellectual convictions. Irenic rhetoric is ironic, in the case, where both parties genuinely want to love the LORD with all they’ve got! My two cents. :o)

(Arthur Hunt) #28

Roughly the NYC equivalent of “Hon”.

(T J Runyon) #29

How to invite ID into conversation:


or non-believer.

(George) #35


I am a little bewildered that “Invite into Dialogue” could become a trigger phrase.

What was concluded as the ACCEPTABLE version of that phrase?

o “I asked Prof. ABC if we could discuss…”
o “I asked Prof. XYZ if we might discuss…”
o __________________________________ "

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #36

We are all bewildered. It does not make much sense to me. I don’t understand it yet.

(Jordan Mantha) #37

I appreciate both @swamidass and @Agauger, their work, their dedication to science and asking tough questions. As I’ve said before, I really have no dog in the hunt regarding ID and DI.

I think I can see where Ann is coming from. It’s extremely difficult to be invited into dialogue on a particular issue, only to feel like you have to essentially defend everything you say. There are people on PS that seem to attack literally everything Ann says. It’s not simply “agree to disagree”, I’ve seen people like @Patrick attack Ann personally (why on earth would you bring up her age? that is incredibly rude). I see very little evidence of “dialogue” from some quarters. It seems like they just want to put Ann in her place and make her feel unwelcome. I see very little of wanting to understand her perspective and lot of not wanting her to even be in the conversation.

On the other hand, there are a lot of other people on PS that appreciate Ann’s willingness to discuss ID with people who are skeptical and her desire to see science done to answer the questions. I hope she can hang in here and we can get things worked out.

@swamidass, most people view dialogue as two people having a conversation and seeking to understand each other. An “invitation” is not enough, it needs to be backed up with respect, common curtesy, and room to make one’s case. I’m not seeing a lot of that in our ID discussions at present. I really appreciate your statement, “it’s not enough to be right, you have to be trusted”, but I’m not sure that some of the most vocal anti-ID people on PS want to do the work of becoming trusted by those that see things differently.

I don’t think that any of what I said above gets DI/EN off the hook for some of the outlandish things they’ve said. It also doesn’t mean that ID proponents are innocent of many of the same problems I outlined above. I’m not sure why Ann seems to be not her usual self at the moment, I won’t presume to know all the details. It does seem like there tend to be a bent towards persecution complexes in ID, but instead of proving them right, why don’t we do what Peaceful Science does best - talk about the big issues around what it means to be human with respect, humility, and an intentional desire to understand each other.

[Edit: I took out a reference to @John_Harshman. I looked back at the posts I was referencing in writing what I did and it was Timothy and not John.]
[Edit: I took out Timothy_Horton as well, at his request]

(T J Runyon) #38

Very well said, @Jordan

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #40

@jordan I need to clarify here that the invitation to conversation is NOT an invitation to the forum. The dont want to come here and I respect this. It is an invitation to conversation, that would not likely be here.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #45

Once again, I’m willing to engage with them in a different context. I don’t think it will work out now in the forum, and that is okay. I fear they are attempting to poison the well to make that impossible.

No one else alinged with mainstream science listening other than PS. I’m hoping that is valuable enough for them to get a grip and come to the table.


Just stating the obvious. @Agauger scolding of @swamidass reminds me of the racial hypocrisy of MLK being scolded by the white pastor’s wife for being “too forward”.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #48

I’ve repeated several times that it need not be in the forum. That I am open to the context that they prefer, even private exchange. They did not respond well to this.

For example, see my exchange with Tour. I’m doing the same thing reverse. It need not be in a forum, but it requires them to be willing to engage in good faith. I’m willing to engage in good faith. I’m willing to find out what I missed about their case and I’m convincible.

There response has not been to hash it out with me, but to poison the well. It is fairly entertaining to see the complaints about tone directed at me. Perhaps I need to improve, but have you seen the tone from DI? Plank and speck. I’m willing to talk. They aren’t. I’m offering olive branches. They are burning them.

I’m happy to take the high road, if that is what this requires. I haven’t given up on them yet.

(Jordan Mantha) #49

But I would imagine someone getting “burned” on the forum might be reluctant to engage in other media. I know you will continue to reach out, it’s just sad to see @Agauger’s contributions being cut short.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #51

I think @Agauger’s participation here is wonderful, as is @pnelson and @bjmiller and @kirk. Wonderful. I hope it works out for them to stay.

I’m trying to find ways to improve the dialogue here, and I’m doing the best I can. Right now though it seems that DI is not okay with my review of Behes work. They want me to stay out of it, but that isn’t the deal I signed up for. It seems that this is the source of the conflict now.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) split this topic #53

A post was merged into an existing topic: Comments on Inviting ID Into Conversation

(Ann Gauger) #54

The age I don’t mind. This I mind. If you knew me you wouldn’t say it, ___


Okay. I accept that you’re not a racist. But the organization that you work for sure plays into the racial divisions in this country with the Darwin was a racist stuff and evolutionist being for eugenics, human zoos.