Re: dealing with creationism and intelligent design and in
Kitcher's argument is mainly pragmatic-it will waste too much time and is difficult to do well. He does not reject discussion of creationism because it is really religion, in part because he does not draw a sharp line between science and non-science or pseudo-science. As he puts it, there is good science, mediocre science, bad science, terrible science, and then creation science.

Incidentally, Newton saw himself as articulating an essentially religious world view, but that doesn't mean that classical mechanics can be dismissed as religion. Of course classical mechanics can be tested, but then (Kitcher and I would both argue) creationism can also be scientifically evaluated and rejected. From that perspective it has about as much plausibility as the claim that the moon is made of blue cheese.


I haven't read the Kitcher book but will get hold of it asap, many thanks for that recommendation, Jon.

Phil, in a nutshell, what is Kitcher's argument against the approach I suggested in my IHT oped? I have received two basic kinds of criticism, one hostile to allowing any sort of religion into the classroom and the second maintaining that what I suggest is impractical in a high school biology class.

cheers, Michael
On 2/26/07, Jon Beckwith <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
On the issue of creationism., ID and evolution, I strongly recommend the book "Use and Abuse of Biology"m MIT Press, by Philip Kitcher- a philosopher at Columbia- an older but timeless book plus his recent article in his book "In Mendel's Mirror" Oxford Univ. Press.

        On IQ and heredity, the article by Eric Turkheimer et al. which I have attached indicates some changes in this pitiful field.  They found that the heritability of IQ in people of low SES was close to zero.  I don't necessarily agree with all of their conclusions, but the group which includes mainstream psychologists like Irv Gottesman is not one you would necessarily expect this conclusion from.  (I haven't looked closely but I believe that Frank Sulloway in this week's New York Review misrepresents the article.)  There are still many problems in their study but if you want a source that I feel gives a good feel for them, look at the book that came out of the AAAS, Hastings Center working group that I was part of, referenced below.
                                                Jon Beckwith
Jon Beckwith
Dept. of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Harvard Medical School
200 Longwood Ave.
Boston, MA 02115

Tel. 617-432-1920
FAX 617-738-7664
e-mail [log in to unmask]
website <>
see my articles and book:
My book, a memoir: Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science, Harvard University Press (2002)
Copies conformes ou copies qu'on forme ? Sciences et Avenir Hors-SÚrie #149, p.71 (2006)
Should we make a fuss? A case for social responsibility in science. F. Huang and J. Beckwith, Nature Biotechnology. 23:1479-1480 (2005).
Whither Human Behavioral Genetics, J. Beckwith in Wrestling with
Behavioral Genetics: Ethics, Science, and Public Conversation
, eds. E. Parens, A. Chapman and N. Press.  Johns Hopkins University Press (2005)


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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