Friday, September 11, 2009

The long-term message of 9/11...(over)simplified?

Today I'm reprising my blog of 9/11/06. It is outdated in some respects—as is clear from its first three wordsbut it still applies. In my view, there is no greater lesson than this to be learned from the events of eight years ago today.

==================================

IF PRESIDENT BUSH
and a Muslim terrorist each can believe that God is in his respective corner—then we cannot turn to God for answers to what needs to happen from this day forward. If two observers imbued with superior intellect can analyze the overriding issues and their genesis, with one observer blaming fanatical Islam and the other observer blaming U.S. imperialism itself—then we cannot turn to intellect for the answers.

At some point, the vast geopolitical complexities that seem to surround terrorism actually reduce to a simple matter of survival—ours or theirs. At some point, we must recognize that we need to throw out God, and intellect, and all things rational or moral. It then becomes an almost Darwinian question of "survival pragmatics": If one side is to live, the other side must die. There is no in-between. What's more, they must die now, and in total, before technology's inexorable onward march enables them to acquire the weapons with which they might wreak our destruction en-masse.

Of course, that is a step we will
not take, stymied as we are by our compassion, our commitment to diplomacy, our determination to be "better than" our enemies. And that is why America as we know it will not see the year 2020.

That's how I see it, anyway—limited as I am by own powers of analysis.

30 comments:

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve - The flaw in your logic here (as I see it, of course) is that you've compartmentalized entire cultures according to the ideologies of each culture's vocal minority, while simultaneously assuming that an individual (even one of superior intellect) will completely transcend their frame of experiential reference. Even a genius for whom the Arab experience is their primary sphere of influence would likely retain biases - even illogical ones - that would tend to influence their logical conclusions. And another genius, raised in the US, would likely exhibit biases consistent with American culture.

Islam is not a terrorist organization, yet there are those within Islam who would commit horrific acts in the name of Allah. The US is not an imperialist nation, yet there are those individuals - some quite influential - who would gladly expand an American empire. Each of these elements perceives the other as a mortal threat to their very existence, and would not hesitate to annihilate the other, given the opportunity.

While we still see examples of these culturally polar opposites, we are also seeing movement toward a more centrist approach on both sides, as the majority in each culture recognizes that the very polarity poses a greater threat of destruction than does the other society.

I agree that America as we know it won't exist in 2020. By the same token, the America I knew in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s doesn't exist, either. As the changes in each of those periods began to take place, there were those who foretold of ruination, as well as those who predicted a global paradigm change for the better. The only constant is change, and the change is never as horrific nor as Utopian as we might have projected it to be. As you suggested, we reach conclusions based upon our current perspective, but we have to recognize that our current perspective lacks prescience.

Acknowledging that such change is inevitable, I would think it behooves us to strive for a degree of pragmatism that is inherently beyond our reach. Perhaps one day, the very concepts of nationalism and tribal identity - and the paranoia to which they give rise - will no longer be prevalent. Frankly, I doubt that such a state will ever occur, but I am optimistic that society will continue to gravitate toward the values held by the majority, and the pendulum of warring ideologies will continue its inevitable path to a peaceful center.

Of course, along the way, the human race might have to dispatch some of the more rabid proponents of both polar extremes in order to prevent them from doing something that the rest of us would abhor, and which would render our path toward peaceful coexistence (or even existence itself) impossible.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, thanks for taking the time to compose and post these elegant new thoughts with respect to a well-worn post. As usual, you make a compelling argument for nuance and a more sophisticated analysis of life. In an ideal world, I would applaud you wholeheartedly. My question is whether we have time to work towards that ideal world (or the luxury of trying). All I'm really asking here is, if it comes down to a simple(-minded) question of Us vs. Them--just if--where do we want to align ourselves?

RevRon's Rants said...

"All I'm really asking here is, if it comes down to a simple(-minded) question of Us vs. Them--just if--where do we want to align ourselves?"

I'll offer an old analogy in response: If grasshoppers carried .45s, mockingbirds would never mess with them. I siomply don't believe it will come down to a global "us vs. them." Too many people in both cultures would reject allowing it to deteriorate to that point. As to those who would push us to such a brink and beyond, see the last paragraph in my comment. It should be noted that the means of dispatching the most destructive and dangerous elements are dictated by the values and constraints of each society. My comment was not intended to suggest that we assassinate any of our leaders. We can eliminate them quite effectively at the voting booth. Other countries' mileage may vary. :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

My alternate response to your final question, should the worst-case "if" come to pass, is consistent with my stance on Second Amendment rights. While we don't look for bogeymen in every shadow, neither do we hesitate to deal aggressively and conclusively with those who turn out to be real.

Tyro said...

When you say that if two intellectuals reach opposite conclusions, then we cannot use the intellect, I can't tell if you're using weasel words to coyly dance around a point you actually believe or if you really are considering a genuine hypothetical. If so, which objective intellectuals are you referring to? When I've stepped away from the demagogues and the jingoistic sound-bites and turned to the people that look at the actual evidence, I don't see any of this implacable "blaming" that you talk about. There is a methodology for examining issues, evidence which has been gathered and a consensus on many points. It's a complex issue which, since it involves many decades and millions of people, isn't surprising, but it isn't dogma, opinion and irreconcilable differences.


Before you go citing Darwin to justify fear-inspired violence and xenophobia, remember that compassion are natural, Darwinian forces as well. And as horrified as you may be by the deaths of 3,000 of your fellow Americans, don't forget that the sweep of civilization has moved us to increasing peace, not violence. I think we can wait a bit further before calling for a retaliatory genocide.

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro: I'm saying simply this (and let's back away from 9/11 and related matters to avoid the jingoism and heated feelings): In many arenas of life we have highly intelligent people who, working from the same sets of facts, arrive at wholly incompatible conclusions. We see it with abortion. We see it with the healthcare debate. We see it with political philosophy in general (i.e. brilliant liberals vs. brilliant conservatives). We see it with school busing, with vaccines vs. "natural" development, and on and on and on.

What this tells me is that (a) we can't rely on intelligence to mediate life's problems, and, more to the point, (b) it probably isn't intelligence that causes people to arrive at the conclusions at which they arrive in the first place. Intelligence may well be an artifact, as it were, an illusion of deliberate thought that is really just a "side effect" of something else.

Steve Salerno said...

P.S. I was using words rather sloppily there. I said "intelligence" what what I more precisely meant was "intellect."

In short, I'm not sure we're really thinking when we're thinking. Most of the evidence suggests otherwise.

Tyro said...

Steve,

Aside from the vaccine example (where the evidence supports only one side), what you've listed are, how can I describe it, "political" issues? These differences arise when two people have fundamentally different values, where they argue about what is ethical, what "should" be done to advance their ethical or political beliefs, and not about the facts. Because the groups have different visions and goals, we should naturally expect them to propose different plans. Evidence, intellect and reason play some role so that two people with similar goals can discuss the most effective or efficient means but that's about it.

Take one of your examples, abortion. One group believes that abortion is akin to murder and that it is absolutely wrong; another group believes that abortion is on a continuum but the mother's wishes are paramount. They can agree of the facts but their values & goals are incompatible so won't agree on what actions to take.

We've seen change in these moral issues with woman's rights, gay pride, anti-slavery and anti-segregation laws. The moral Zeitgeist shifts, but it isn't an intellectual process, it's changing morals and values.


But what you brought up in your blog is when intellectuals argue about what actually happened and why. I see some lively debate as people think different factors had greater or lesser significance but I've also seen consensus arise. For instance, at first many people proposed that poverty and a lack of opportunity was the primary factor in the creation of suicide bomber but as researchers did a thorough study of known bombers over the past couple decades, most turned out to be relatively educated and well-to-do. Poverty still is a factor but as a force which shapes the society.

So I don't see these intractable differences in the academic/intellectual environment. Where are you seeing groups unable to agree upon the facts and causes in such a polarized fashion?

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro: I get what you're saying; I really do. Honest. All I'm saying in response is the same old thing: that if intellect cannot be depended on to help us sort through issues--especially the complex and sensitive "human" issues like abortion--then really, well, what good is it? So we know that 2 + 2 = 4 and that matter (supposedly) can neither be created nor destroyed*; big whoop. Does that help us live life in an amicable manner? Apparently not. If intellect is really worth something, it should help us conquer emotions and resolve the troubling issues that are rooted in differing conceptions of morality and such. It doesn't. In fact, the opposite usually occurs: It becomes a tool (a "useful genius"?) in translating highly charged emotions into pseudo-intellectual debating points.

Intellect will not tell Muslims to stop killing us. Intellect will not persuade us to accept the idea of being killed. God doesn't help, either, because we were attacked in God's name (just as Christians killed and plundered in God's name during the crusades). At the end of the day, it's all just a lot of talk, and it comes down to a very simple question: Who gets to survive? (Or as a professor of mine used to say: When the wolf is at the door, baring its fangs, does it really matter if you know what genus it belongs to?)

* and even that is clearly wrong, though it's a core plank of modern physics.

Tyro said...

Steve,

What good is reason and evidence, really? Reminds me of Monty Python's Holy Grail. "All right, but apart from sanitation, literacy, technology, tripled lifespan, medicine, and immunology, what has the intellect ever done for us?"

On a human level, it has given us a means of discussing important issues without resorting to dogma or violence. When we face conflict which might once have led immediately to force, now we discuss the evidence, the logistics, alternative solutions and their effectiveness in the past, and the hypothetical costs and benefits and how they fit in with our values. It may not rescue us from incompatible values and it's susceptible to outright deceit and fraud but how is this not a vast improvement over reflexive force, Might Makes Right, ignorant and blind obedience and dogmatism?

I do know that values and beliefs do change over time. Is this from reason and intellect? I don't know but I'd like to think it contributes. I know that it doesn't need to change through force or genocide and that such extreme measures exact a toll on the people that employ it.

PS: and even that is clearly wrong, though it's a core plank of modern physics

I thought everything in modern physics was measured in plancks not planks. FWIW, it's energy (not matter) which can't be created or destroyed and I'm not aware of any prominent physicists who think it's wrong. If it is, it is still far from clear.

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro: OK, I give you the last word on the intellect discussion. Believe me, I'm no dadaist. Just looking at life and drawing inferences.

As for matter/energy, the fact of human existence is a refutation of the notion that matter cannot be created or destroyed. I'm no Creationist, either, but as I read Dawkins' book I found myself laughing every few paragraphs at his smugness. If he can't explain where we came from, or how something came from nothing (which of course is the only possible original state: nothingness), then maybe he shouldn't be lecturing people about evolution. That is no minor omission!

Steve Salerno said...

p.s. matter or energy; it really "matters" not. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

FWIW - I think that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed (apart from that whole big Bang conundrum, that is), but can be modified or turned one into the other. But that's really beside the point here.

Our intellect serves to rationalize and justify our emotions, but can also serve to aid us in modifying those emotions, or at the very least, the way we choose to act upon them.

"When we face conflict which might once have led immediately to force, now we discuss the evidence, the logistics, alternative solutions and their effectiveness in the past, and the hypothetical costs and benefits and how they fit in with our values."

And only *then* do we proceed to kill each other. :-)

All kidding aside, no matter how much we "evolve" intellectually and emotionally, there will remain a portion of the population that will revert to more barbaric methods of resolving conflict. Our challenge, as I see it, is to effectively control this segment without projecting their barbarism upon entire cultures or populations. We've succeeded to some degree in some instances, but obviously have a ways to go.

Tyro said...

Steve,

If reason & the intellect aren't a part of the answer, then what is? Seems to me that they must be an integral part of any good solution. I think that's all I was trying to say. Should have gone simple from the beginning :)

As for matter/energy, the fact of human existence is a refutation of the notion that matter cannot be created or destroyed.

It looks like you've stumbled onto something that every physicist of the past 100 years has missed: the universe contains matter. Quick, someone needs to get you a grant so you can spur the next revolution in physics!

Sarcasm aside for a sec, current cosmological theories do not require any energy conservation violations. For a very brief overview, see this in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific article.


I'm no Creationist, either, but as I read Dawkins' book I found myself laughing every few paragraphs at his smugness. If he can't explain where we came from, or how something came from nothing (which of course is the only possible original state: nothingness), then maybe he shouldn't be lecturing people about evolution. That is no minor omission!

If you seriously believe that one of the world's foremost evolutionary biologists can't lecture about evolutionary biology without also being an expert in cosmology what can he lecture on? And how can you, an expert in neither, confidently dismiss the consensus in both?

Snark aside again, "The God Delusion" isn't a book on evolution. There are plenty of books on this including Dawkins's "The Greatest Show On Earth", "The Ancestor's Tale" (and just about everything else that he's written) and Coyne's "Why Evolution Is True". No mater how matter arose, once it formed life, it evolved. The ultimate origin of matter is irrelevant to evolution though an interesting question in its own right.

Steve Salerno said...

Geez, Tyro. I offer you the last word and you proceed to supply several hundred of them, most of them pregnant with snark.

Anyway, I do not see evolution as a thing apart from cosmology. To even propose such a schism strikes me as sophistry, and a highly convenient/devious form of it at that. It's a little bit like trying a homicide case when you don't have a body or any evidence that a crime has even been committed.

Oh wait, I forgot, this is America; that happens all the time. ;)

Evolution strikes me as being highly dubious anyway, though Creationism of course is no less plausible. The only difference is that Creationism doesn't have to meet standards set up in the scientific method, because it isn't about science. That's where I think a lot of staunch Darwinists go astray--by attempting to invalidate Creationism via scientific arguments. Indeed, as I think I've observed before, if the most extreme form of evolution is true--physical determinism--then logic itself must be considered suspect, because we are powerless to evaluate it "freely." After all, if we can only think a certain way--if we were destined to come to certain conclusions--then what might we be missing that we weren't able to see?

Creationism doesn't have such problems. It assumes the miraculous, which by definition doesn't follow physical or logical laws.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to your post, I was stunned to hear a friend comment casually about the whole Iran/nukes issue, "Oh, Israel will take care of them." Say what, we're now depending on a tiny, beleaguered nation to handle threats to America? Why, so that we can say "Oh, tsk-tsk" if it comes to pass? Allies are great, but I think we must be prepared to defend ourselves decisively should worse come to worst. God forbid, of course. But as you point out, others are counting on "their" God for other ends, and when religion combines with aggression, history has shown that the end is hell for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Gore Vidal doesn't think you are not an empire, nor do people like John Perkins.

Steve Salerno said...

It's interesting (though perhaps understandable) that many people cut Israel slack in the "aggression department" that they don't cut anyone else.

Tyro said...

Steve,

Evolutionary theory describes how populations of organisms change over time. It doesn't say how those organisms first arose, it certainly doesn't say how the matter in those organisms arose, but once the organisms first formed evolution tells us how they developed. It tells us why animals look the way they do and how their populations change, nothing else. You might as well attack geology because it doesn't account for the existence of matter.

Why not read Coyne's book which gives a good, lay overview. Sound like your problems are with some philosophical implications rather than the theory itself.

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro, OK, I'm going to offer an observation here that may sound offensive, and I urge you not to take offense. It's just an observation, worth no more and no less than anyone else's observation.

When I was in college I noted a widespread tendency among my peers to indulge in what you might call "argument by citation." In other words, rather than thinking something through on their own, students would simply cite sources, assume those sources to be The Literature (and to therefore have appropriate authority), and never stop to question whether that "authorized" way of looking at a problem made sense. In the course of this discussion, Tyro, you have invoked about 129 different books, people, formal definitions, iconic quotes, etc. You have spent very little time debating me in your own voice, or what I presume to be your own voice. Take, for example, your statement, "Evolutionary theory describes how populations of organisms change over time. It doesn't say how those organisms first arose, etc." I have two reactions. 1. Does that make sense? Does it really make sense to "describe how organisms change over time" when you don't know how the organism came to be an organism in the fist place? That's like walking in on an argument and rendering judgment about who's in the right without knowing what led up to it. 2. I don't care what "evolutionary theory" concerns itself with, I am not required to take its self-definition at face value, as a "given." To my way of thinking, evolutionary theory is invalid, or at best incomplete, if it cannot explain how the original organism got here. Because that makes all the difference! For example, let me ask you this: If the original paramecium was sent here from the planet Zoros-5, and had within it, originally, a dissolving microchip or some other program (presently unknown to us) that "guided" its evolution--do Darwin and Natural Selection still apply? No; they have been invalidated in one fell swoop. Now, I don't think that the original paramecium was sent here from planet Zoros-5 (or even the slightly more evolved Zoros-6; nor do I think it contained a dissolving microchip. I'm just making a point: I don't want to hear about The Origin of the Species unless you can first explain the origin of the ingredients that became the species. Because it matters! To me, anyway. You are entitled to feel differently. However, I would like to know why you feel differently, rather than just have you point to six more books or articles that we're supposed to take on their own say-so.

This is not about science, Tyro. It is about common sense and, dare I say it, skepticism.

Again, no taking-of-offense allowed. Fair nuff?

RevRon's Rants said...

"It is about common sense and, dare I say it, skepticism."

I can't see where it's common sense to discount the questions we've been able to answer, simply because we haven't answered *all* the questions. It seems to me that such an approach embraces skepticism for its own sake, rather than as a path to truth. It would seem that had science taken such a nihilistic approach, we'd be left with no answers whatsoever.

And I won't even get started on the determinism thing. We've been there, done that, and got the t-shirts.

Steve Salerno said...

Good point, Ron.

Tyro said...

Steve,

I wonder if there's a language problem here. A theory describes just one phenomenon so if you have questions about something else, you should turn to a different theory. It doesn't mean the question isn't good or can't be answered, just out of scope. Newton's gravity lets us plot the trajectory of a shell, chemistry explains how the black powder explodes, geology explains the distribution of the raw minerals, physics explains the distribution and origin of the elements and cosmology explains the origin of the matter and energy. The groups come together at the boundaries but Newton's ignorance of cosmology doesn't invalidate F=ma. If you feel strongly that all theories should be all-encompassing, next time a doctor proscribes antibiotics, refuse until the germ theory of disease accounts for the origin of all life and matter in the universe :)

I'm not saying that we don't have strong theories about how life arose, how the planet arose and how the matter in our universe came to be. I am saying that evolution doesn't depend on them. If a god created the universe, if we're in a steady-state universe or if aliens seeded our planet with the first forms of life, evolution would still take place. The prerequisites are organisms with heritable traits, imperfect reproduction (mutations, the source of variation), and not all offspring survive and reproduce (selection). When you have a population with these features, you get evolution.

For example, let me ask you this: If the original paramecium was sent here from the planet Zoros-5, and had within it, originally, a dissolving microchip or some other program (presently unknown to us) that "guided" its evolution--do Darwin and Natural Selection still apply? No; they have been invalidated in one fell swoop.

Many famous evolution defenders do believe that evolution is "guided" (by God not aliens though no doubt some believe in the aliens), Ken Miller and Francis Collins most famously. I see no evidence for this guiding and they present none but it doesn't invalidate it, at most it would present another mechanism for evolution (in addition to natural selection, sexual selection, and random genetic drift).

Because it matters! To me, anyway. You are entitled to feel differently. However, I would like to know why you feel differently, rather than just have you point to six more books or articles that we're supposed to take on their own say-so.

I'm sorry Steve, I must have miscommunicated. In the bigger picture, of course the origin of life and matter are important questions! I think we're one of the fortunate few humans who lived in the time and place where we can start to ask these questions and expect to get some good answers in return. I would never say that they're unimportant, just that they're tangential to the validity of evolution.


Re books: my intent wasn't to blow you off or to avoid defending myself. I think these are very big questions you asking and the answers have taken decades to develop. Laymen can get a good understanding but it's very difficult to develop a decent argument in a blog post or response, so I suggested some books. I don't think it was 140, just two on cosmology some time ago and now some on evolution since you appear to have a keen interest and I found them engaging and informative. I had cited a couple short web articles because I appreciate seeing the data and supporting arguments and I thought you might be the same.

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro, I appreciate your taking the time to respond at such length. In retrospect I am not happy with my tone (or overtones). Thanks again for all of your contributions throughout this thread.

Anonymous said...

Steve, evolution is a theory - its not a fact. Science is based on taking the theories with the least amounts of unanswered questions and assumptions - as the current truth - until either another theory with fewer assumptions and unanswered questions comes up or the evidence for the original theory is so overwhelming it becomes fact.

Well, thats what they told us at my University when I was studying Zoology.

Londoner

Steve Salerno said...

Londoner, that's kind of how I look at it. It always strikes me so curious, however, that when we teach (or even just lecture on) the theory-of-the-day, we're wont to present it as Ultimate Truth. (Until, as you say, the new Ultimate Truth comes along.) You see the same thing in medicine.

Why don't we have more humility about the state of our knowledge at any given point?

RevRon's Rants said...

"evolution is a theory - its not a fact."

Best we not let the cattle industry in on this bit of wisdom, because their continually increasing level of productivity has been based upon this "theory" for almost a century.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, in fairness to Londoner (and myself), I think we're confusing reproduction/selective breeding with evolution, which is a much larger, richer and more ambitious concept. It seems pretty clear how reproduction takes place; been there, done that. ;) But to assume from the observable fact of reproduction (and even selective breeding) the truth of everything Darwin posed about natural selection and, again, "the origin of the species"...that strikes me as quite a stretch. Understand, I'm not saying, here, that I necessarily think Darwin is wrong. I'm just saying that you can't endorse his theories simply on the basis of the fact that animals mate, and that breeders in the cattle world, dog world and even the human world try to emphasize or eliminate certain species characteristics.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I'm just saying that you can't endorse his theories simply on the basis of the fact that animals mate, and that breeders in the cattle world, dog world and even the human world try to emphasize or eliminate certain species characteristics."

By the same token, the fact that we've been able to manipulate traits in different animals would seem to lend credence to the assertion that the seemingly random occurrences of such efforts that occur in nature - and which have the same overall effect as human selective breeding programs - are consistent with the overall theory of natural selection/evolution of the species. The cattle industry is, in effect, a long-term controlled study of the process. Given the fact that virtually all the results of that study are supportive of the theory, I'd suggest that the theory has proved itself.

Of course, this doesn't even begin to resolve the "origins of life" question, but within the scope of adaptability through evolution/mutation, I think the results are pretty conclusive.

Tyro said...

Steve & anon,

If theories ever can become "fact" or a "law", evolution has succeed. The debates are now about subtle mechanisms such as relative weightings of random genetic drift vs selection and questions of lateral gene transfer in single-cell organisms and some plants.

The evidence isn't just breeding experiments with a few wolves into dachshunds and great danes but experiments with bacteria spanning tens of thousands of generations. It isn't just one or two fossils but millions, each with predictable features in predictable locations (e.g.: Tiktaalik roseae). It isn't just superficial similarities but a perfect hierarchy of organisms (Linneaus's tree, discovered before Darwin) which is precisely matched by a hierarchy of genes. It's this and more: geographic distributions perfectly match evolution (e.g.: why new or volcanic islands lack fresh water fish and amphibians, why Australia lacks moles but has mole-like marsupials), developmental issues (why some humans are born with tails, why some whales and snakes have legs, why manatees have fingernails hidden under their skin and why flightless beetles have wings permanently trapped by a sealed shell), "imperfect" designs betraying an evolutionary past (why the inability to create Vitamin C in primates should follow the same Linnean hierarchy, why our fishy past means our recurrent laryngeal nerve goes from the brain to larynx but first loops around the aorta and our testes leave through the body cavity leading to hernias).

Speciation takes a long time, too long to see it happen in mammals with our slow generations, but we can see all of the signs of slow separation. Newly separated species can interbreed with little problems in lab conditions but as the separation time goes further back it grows harder, leading to infertility as with ligers and tigrons (crosses between lions and tigers). We even have two "ring species" in salamanders and gulls, where two completely distinct species shift slowly over a wide geographic area (Californian mountains and Arctic circle respectively) so that what appears separate are in fact one long, unbroken chain of interbreeding pairs. Species aren't as separate as Creationists would have us believe.

This is just touching the surface. The evidence is overwhelming, spanning paleontology, embryology, genetics, geology, medicine, agriculture and now even mathematics and computing science. There is simply no debate remaining left in the scientific community and is considered one of the best supported theories we've ever found. If any theories could graduate to a "fact" or a "law", it would be evolution ahead of even gravity.

The "teach the controversy" cry has been manufactured by a group of biblical literalists who wish to undermine scientific education and have somewhat successfully appealed to our sense of fair play. We root for the underdog, we don't want to suppress anything and we think all sides should be taught but in this case there's no serious alternative. In the Dover v Kitzmiller trial, the jewel of the Creationist/Intelligent Desigh movement, admitted that if ID was "science" (under his new definition) then astrology would also be science. That, in a nutshell (big nutshell :), is the controversy.