Archive for December 2005

For Unto Us

December 25, 2005

A Child is born.

Merry Christmas to my wonderful wife, my parents, brothers, sister, my friends and my catz. ;>

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Someday, I’m Gonna Write A Book

December 23, 2005

And the book’s title will be Yes, You Can Be Too Safe. Code Pink demonstrates here how one can strive to keep children safe from war while absolutely insuring that they will be forever enslaved.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

Doin’ a Glenn Reynolds

December 21, 2005

Heh!

To be honest, this is not the first time such news has been reported. Usually it’s buried so deep that it doesn’t see the sun, however.

New Horizons 6-Day Launch Slip

December 21, 2005

Space.com has the info.

Late last week it was announced that New Horizons was rescheduled for liftoff no earlier than January 17, 2006. That six day slip was called to support additional inspection of the booster for the Pluto-bound spacecraft, a Lockheed Martin Atlas launch vehicle. The booster-for-hire company experienced problems in September on an updated Atlas propellant tank similar to the one being flown on the New Horizons mission.

Originally scheduled for Jan. 11, 2006, New Horizons has a 35 day launch window to begin its flight to Pluto and Charon. However, because the vehicle uses Jupiter (a moving target) to boost it in the right direction at greater speed, it really helps if we get the bird off as early as possible.

Still, nobody (but nobody!) wants to see a failed launch either. If it increases the chances of success, we’ll take the delay.

ID Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

December 20, 2005

From the Christian Science Monitor:

“Intelligent design” is just another name for creationism – and therefore teaching it in public schools violates the constitutional principle of church-state separation.

I note that this doesn’t read “cannot be caught in science classes” or “cannot be taught as science”, but “cannot be taught at all in public schools.”

And that strikes me as patently ridiculous; the kind of decision only a lawyer could love.

Once again, people (and I’m speaking of the thousands who commented in Slashdot, mostly in extreme ignorance of the issues involved) have conflated several historic themes. I’m astounded that, apparently, the judge has too.

It may very well be true that Intelligent Design is not Science. But note that most of what people think is science is also not science by the same arguments. What is troublesome is that many of those who are confused claim to be scientists (or at least, claim to be educated).
Science is an organized body of knowledge and methods for acquiring it. In and of itself, science cannot find or discover God, and scientists claim to do neither, except when they are mistaken. Charles Darwin himself was very careful to note that his theory of evolution did not replace God as the author of life or of Man. His followers have not been quite so careful.

You may be interested in Jacob Bronowski’s discussions on why having the characteristic of falsifiability, as defined by Karl Popper, does not make something ‘science’. Parts of that discussion are referenced here.

…human reason discovers new relations between things not by deduction, but by that unpredictable blend of speculation and insight that scientists call induction which — like other forms of imagination — cannot be formalized.

In other words, scientists too have to make a leap of faith sometime, and whether the leap takes place when they accept previously peer-reviewed articles, or when they accept the data from their instruments or when they accept the evidence of their own eyes, there is a always the same leap that was taken by Abraham. They must, for that is the way our brains are wired. The speculation and fight is then about how we know what we know, and not about separation of church and state.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary has a decent synopsis:

Scientific knowledge is human knowledge and scientists are human beings. They are not gods, and science is not infallible. Yet, the general public often thinks of scientific claims as absolutely certain truths. They think that if something is not certain, it is not scientific and if it is not scientific, then any other non-scientific view is its equal. This misconception seems to be, at least in part, behind the general lack of understanding about the nature of scientific theories.

Update: Michael Prescott says much that I tried to say last night (but does it so much better)!