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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

RESPONSE TO ASA'S STATEMENT ON INTELLIGENT DESIGN/J. Colannino

The American Statistical Association's Statement on Intelligent Design

Post Script (from the executive director):
In addition to having endorsed the AAAS resolution regarding science curricula (see my Board Highlights, Amstat News, May 2006), the Board of Directors recently adopted the following statement and resolution: It is the mission of the American Statistical Association to promote excellence in statistical practice and to work for the improvement of statistical education at all levels. Statistics, as the science of data, is embedded within the broader scientific enterprise, and as statisticians, we have a responsibility to help safeguard its integrity and that of science education generally. ASA takes no position on whether intelligent design is right or wrong. Nevertheless, it is clear that intelligent design is not a scientific theory subject to empirical testing, and thus has no place in science education. Therefore, the Board of Directors of ASA adopts the following resolution:

Intelligent design should not be taught as part of any science curriculum. Further, the Association urges its members to continue to support vigorously those principles of inquiry and verification that characterize sound scientific practice.

MY RESPONSE
To the editor,

ASA has erred in its resolution regarding intelligent design. In its preface, ASA stated that “intelligent design … is not subject to empirical testing and thus has no place in science education.” In fact, intelligent design is critical to well established sciences such as forensic science and archeology, to name two. An archeologist examining a pot shard or arrowhead artifact must determine whether the candidate object was formed by an intelligent process or a natural one. Likewise, a detective or coroner investigating a homicide must judge whether a death was the result of natural cause or one requiring deliberation and intelligence. As statisticians, we have an opportunity to provide expertise about the likelihood of random events. This includes events in the life sciences. An a priori rejection of possible nonrandom events without recourse to evidence is what has no place in science education.

Joseph Colannino, P.E.
Chemical Engineer
Manager, Knowledge Systems


ASA's Reply

From: Smith, William B. [mailto:williambsmith@amstat.org]
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:45 PM
To: joecolannino@sbcglobal.net
Cc: Executive Committee
Subject: FW: Your message to ASA

Re: Your message concerning the ASA Board of Director’s resolution on regarding teaching intelligent design in the science curriculum.

Dear colleague,

I am responding for the ASA Board of Director’s Executive Committee regarding your message concerning the Board’s resolution on teaching intelligent design in the science curriculum of our nation’s schools. Thank you for your input. The Executive Committee has discussed this response to the resolution and by this note expresses its appreciation.

The Board resolution was the result of draft documents being submitted by two ASA committees. The Board discussed the drafts at length and eventually endorsed the AAAS resolution of 2002 on the same topic, as well as adopting the much shortened resolution that appeared in AMSTAT News (July 2006 issue, a copy of relevant page is attached).

Please know that these decisions neither were made hastily nor with unanimity. Again, the Executive Committee thanks you for your input.

With best regards,

Bill


William B. Smith,
Executive Director, American Statistical Association
732 North Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1943 U.S.A.
Tel: (703) 684-1221
Fax: (703) 684-6456


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