A great column by Michael Duffy

An excerpt

1 Nelson has said intelligent design should be available in schools because “it’s about choice”. That is postmodern rubbish. Schools are not about choice, they’re about discrimination, about using limited time and resources to teach children what our society regards as most important.

  1. Brendan[]
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John Quiggin
John Quiggin
2024 years ago

I also liked this column, not surprisingly

2024 years ago

Dear Brendan makes Malcolm Turnball look good.

2024 years ago

Michael Duffy is skating on very thin ice. If he doesn’t behave himself the ABC will be forced to ditch him in favour of Tim Blair.

2024 years ago

I think intelligent design is a load of cr*p. And if you have a limited amount of time to teach students things, then its one of the first topics to go.

However, I was taught and expect my children to be taught/to learn that different beliefs exist. I went to a private Anglican school, but we were taught Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim beliefs plus various ‘mythologies’ such as Roman, Greek, Norse, some Aboriginal, native American, animist etc. (I should add that even our school chaplain – otherwise also a pre-history teacher – told us that the bible was merely a remarkably accurate methaphor for evolution).

If people want to throw ‘intelligent design’ into the latter part of this mix (ie the mythology section) then I don’t have a problem with it. Or even to say its a belief held by some Christians. After all, its a belief held by a growing number of people who have some influence (more in the USA of course) and I think an understanding of ‘intelligent design’ (creationism) is important for an understanding of various issues in the world. I also think it adds significantly to your appreciation of science, because you can contrast science with belief. How can people, such as ourselves, debate this issue without a good understanding of creationism?

I recognise that Nelson et al are really trying to sneak creationism into the class room, and I suspect teachers will refuse to teach it anyway. But as a ‘concept’ I have no problems with students being taught different beliefs, including creationism, so long as it is presented as a mythology. Put it alongside all the other creation myths – but recognise that (unlike, say, Norse myths) this view of the world is actually currently believed by some people.

And, on the question of what should be removed from the curriculum to fit it in, well I reckon quadratic equations. Truly they have no practical value that I have ever come across . . .

Sylvia Else
2024 years ago

I rather doubt that its proponents really want ID taught in class. They just want the children indoctrinated with it. After all, the process of teaching it would involve exposing its flaws. Teaching it in a science course would (or should, anyway) immediately raise questions in the students’ minds about what kind of experiments or studies could be used to test the theory. Even those who latched onto the mamalian eye’s apparent design defects would quickly hear about the special plead by which the proponents claim that the eye is a good design, it’s just that the need for the reversed retina is too subtle for us to understand.

So students taught ID in a science class would discover that ID predicts nothing, and is completely immune to disproof. In otherwords, that it’s completely useless.

Perhaps it should be taught after all – that way there would be that many more people capable of arguing against it.


2024 years ago

I used to think that it might help to have science students look at Creation Science/ID so they would realise that it is a crock. But that was based on the assumption that the teachers and the students would be able to pick up on the differences between science and pseudoscience. I am not convinced that would actually happen and now I think ID has no place within a long distance of science classes.

Still I would like to know more about the training of science teachers because in the long run it is the quality of science teaching that will win or lose the war against theological fundamentalism and other forms of irrationalism parading in pseudoscientific disguise.

I rather like the idea of forming an informal group to examine this topic (the training of science teachers, and maybe also the design of science curriculums) to see if there is a need for things to be done better. If there is some group that is doing this already, please let me know, and if you are interested in some cooperative effort on this front, send a mail to rchamp@bigpond.net.au

Gummo Trotsky
2024 years ago

Right now, this whole intelligent design debate reminds me of a little film I saw way back in the sixties. US produced (the narrator’s accent gave it away).

Much was made of the fact that the Earth was just the right distance from the sun to sustain human life; just a wee bit closer and we’d all fry; a wee bit further out and we’d freeze solid.

Could this be mere coincidence, the narrator asked?

Maybe it’s kicking around in a film archive somewhere, with a few other examples of the genre. And possibly worth digging out to show how little the argument against science – let’s not kid ourselves it’s anything else – has changed over the past forty years.

Shaun Cronin
2024 years ago


Noble idea but the the battle against ID is in the political not scientific arena. And that is where and how the battle should be fought. if there is campaign it should be focused on the politicians and played out wherever ID apologists show their heads.

I would suggest that science teachers be used to speak against ID and how it would make a mockery of teaching science if included.

The Australian Science Teachers Association already have released a statement opposing ID so they are well aware of the issue.

guambat stew
2024 years ago

2 asides first. First, I found if you right click on the comments link and then choose ‘open in new window’, she’s apples.
Second, I’m not sure I agree with meika. Nothing can make Turnbull look good. For mine, he’s the most dangerous person to come along in Aus politics since I came here 17 years ago. The way he tried to strong-ARM the republican movement was pure treason, and he hijacked the whole debate. He’d be all in favour of a monarchy if he had a chance to be king.
Now to the subject: The Duffy article caught my eye also in what I thought was a good day’s collection of commentary in the SMH(http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/09/saturday-smh.html) The IDiotic “debate” has been the subject of several of my posts in my newby blog. I can only implore my fellow Australians not to go down the fundamental route so many of my fellow Americans, as well as other followers of the house of Abraham, choose: http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/08/they-all-start-to-sound-alike.html The ID argument is the thin end of that wedge.