Thursday, March 30, 2006

In iPod we trust

As the giant in Twin Peaks would say, "It is happening again."

Recent revelations of shuffle play have included

  • black tambourine (beck)/hot for teacher (van halen--I can't help it, I'm a child of the 80s)
  • ezekiel 25:17 (pulp fiction)/immigrant song (zep)
  • a day without rain (enya)/the sky is crying (elmore james)
The first two you just have to listen to and you'll understand. In the first pair, it's the drums, drums, drums, and in the second pair, it's the guns, guns, guns, then the Zep. The third one is just the titles.

I'm telling you, there's something going on with this shuffle thing . . . remarkable coincidences, a logic that can't be defined, divined, or questioned . . . you know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like Intelligent Design to me.

I think it's widely accepted that Apple has some of the best designs, but who knew that those designs were being guided by a higher hand, right?

Working, as I do, at an education association, I am exposed to many of the debates that rage over the merits of both evolution and ID. Unlike the recent decision in Pennsylvania, most of them don't address what is, for me, the core issue: ID is bad science. It's actually no science at all, good or bad. I'm not opposed to the teaching of ID, but I am opposed to the teaching of it in science classrooms, just as I don't believe that it's useful to teach improv exercises in a logic course. Each has its own place to be appropriately taught.

Religious activists have, for their own gains, muddled the issues being discussed. I don't believe that scientists, science teachers, and parents are generally opposed to ID itself, or to the teaching of faith and religous tenets. Most of them are likely religious themselves. What is really at stake here is the scientific method, because accepting ID into the science curriculum means rejecting the scientific method.

Rejecting the scientific method means rejecting advances that have been made through the application of the scientific method, such as space travel, cruise missiles, bulletproof vests, and car seats, as well as whole fields such as physics and medicine. Does Shrub have enough faith in ID that he'd be willing to pull out Cheney's pacemaker to prove it?

If you reject the premise of the scientific method: that only that which can be tested and verified is true, in favor of a supernatural explanation, what is the point of drug trials to combat TB, HIV and AIDS, and H5N1? What does ID propose as a path to a cure for these diseases? Or does it propose that we sit idly by, waiting for an answer from the heavens, wasting the intellect that an intelligent and compassionate designer gave us? (Is it wrong that as I wrote that last bit, I pictured Vern from Trading Spaces?)

Further, and of particular interest for educators, if we reject the premise that only that which can be tested and verified is true, why do we need to test students to ensure that they are making progress? If we can take the creation and nature of the cosmos and our world on faith, why can't we take it on faith that our children are learning?

And, does testing them prove anything anyway, if you accept the religious activists' claims that testing and verification aren't necessary to prove truth? According to them, including Shrub, faith proves truth. Doesn't this make the testing required by NCLB a waste of money?

I wish that these were the questions that the fundamentalists were willing to discuss, rather than shrieking about the heresy of science, because I would love to ask them just which products of the scientific method they would be willing to give up to support their faith in ID. How about seat belts? While you're at it, you might as well start smoking, since there's no word from the intelligent designer, heretofore known as Vern, on the dangers of smoking, there's only scientific evidence to support that claim. I wonder where they stand on electricity? They love their talking heads, both on radio and TV, but don't they know that radio and TV are products of science?

And, if you're against radio and TV, you must, by god, be opposed to iPods--no matter how well designed they appear to be. Then again, all those "coincidences" in shuffle play? Perhaps there's more to the iPod design than meets the eye.


  1. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Great post. I was wondering where you were going with the ipod thing. Nice way to tie in your thoughts about ID. I couldn't agree with you more.

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  3. Anonymous11:28 PM

    Very nicely put. And yeah, isn't that creepy with the iPod thing? Not sure what to make of it...

  4. Brother #1, who attends church every Sunday and programs a computer more nimbly than most people tie their shoes, is fond of using the ID analogy to support his point of view: The folks who say ID is self-evident compare it to walking up a beach and finding a watch in the sand. How likely is it, they ask, that the watch--this complex mechanism--was put together completely accidentally? Brother #1 says that's his point exactly: The sand was made by God. Man made the watch. Which is intelligent design?

    Me, I'm not that intelligent. I'm doing a network backup at 54Mbps because I can't be bothered with wires, and then I turn the microwave on to make some lunch. Just a few stools short of a full bar . . .

    Last three iTunes: Thunder Road, Anything You Need But Me, Key to the Highway. Next: Brown Sugar, then Road to Nowhere. Then Merry Christmas, Baby; then Low Rider. Sounds like it's time to back out of the garage. Life makes as much sense as you want it to in the driving rain.

  5. 'Zat low rider a cop car with a cop engine, cop transmission, and cop tires?

    C'mon Jake, you know you can't lie to the Penguin.