Critical thinking, Intelligent Design and, well, critical thinking

Paul Nelson, Discovery Institute Fellow, Philosopher of Biology and Intelligent Design proponent (just so no one is confused) has posted a review on Uncommon Descent, the pro-Intelligent Design weblog of William Dembski, Denise O’Leary and Friends (just so no one is confused) of Elliott Sober‘s new book, Evidence and Evolution, the Logic Behind the Science. Just so no one is confused, Elliott Sober is a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconson – Madison, and has written a number of papers critical of Intelligent Design. This is what Nelson had to say in his review:

Here’s a non-ironic blessing: May God grant us thoughtful critics. Sober has long been one such critic of ID, not to mention of much evolutionary reasoning, and I welcome this book for its challenging arguments.

So here’s what I like about this, so far: You have someone who critically analyzes arguments on various sides of an issue, and someone on one side of an issue who appreciates this. How refreshing!

That being said, the Cambridge site provides an excerpt from Chapter 1 that is very intriguing. Consider this:

If the evidence that science assembles does not provide certainty about which theories are true, what, then, does the evidence tell us? It seems entirely natural to say that science uses the evidence at hand to say which theories are probably true. This statement leaves room for science to be fallible and for the scientific picture of the world to change when new evidence rolls in. As sensible as this position sounds, it is deeply controversial. The controversy I have in mind is not between science and nonscience; I do not mean that scientists view themselves as assessing how probable theories are while postmodernists and religious zealots debunk science and seek to undermine its authority. No, the controversy I have in mind is alive within science. For the past seventy years, there has been a dispute in the foundations of statistics between Bayesians and frequentists. They disagree about many issues, but perhaps their most basic disagreement concerns whether science is in a position to judge which theories are probably true.

Another book to add to my wish list…

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One Response to Critical thinking, Intelligent Design and, well, critical thinking

  1. I love controversy in science and philosophy; you are right, it sounds like a pretty good book.

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