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Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly 1237

corbettw writes "Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design. From the article: 'People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly ... We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us.'"
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Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:37PM (#14440123) Homepage Journal

    Nails? Coffins? Intelligent Design? [sfgate.com] Pfft! What do these have to do with each other? Why do bees fly?

    Because they forgot how to teleport!

    man, i thought everyone knew that already .. all you had to do was ask them.

    Cal Tech shouldn't be worrying about beating back old riddles posed by the flocks and get back to the business at hand of figuring out how to hack scoreboards [museumofhoaxes.com].

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440209)
      Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design.

      So seriously...were these CalTech researchers purposed with finding one more way to discredit ID, or is that just the agenda of our story's submitter (and the original article's author)?
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:22PM (#14440691) Homepage
      You know, I remember hearing about the mystery of the flying bumble bee and how it went against what we knew of aerodynamics... and then I remember hearing how we figured it out. Years ago. From memory, does it have to do with vortices created off the tips of the wings? Okay, now I've looked at the article. No mention of vortices, just that they flap their wings 15% faster than a smaller fruit fly. Huh, okay.
    • by ummit ( 248909 ) <scs@eskimo.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:47PM (#14441007) Homepage
      There's no mystery about how bees fly, and there hasn't been for quite a while. The notion that "science can't explain bee flight" is an urban legend, a meme. I didn't realize the ID folks had picked up on it, but I guess it's no surprise; seemingly all of their arguments are witheringly obsolete.

      I read about this in The Straight Dope [straightdope.com] ten or fifteen years ago. The Cal Tech folks seem to have added some new nuances to the discussion, but it was adequately understood long before this. The full story evidently goes back to the 1930s.

      Nothin to see here, folks, move along.

  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:37PM (#14440124) Homepage Journal

    At first glance, this sounds kind of trivial, but from TFA:

    The scientists said the findings could lead to a model for designing aircraft that could hover in place and carry loads for many purposes such as diaster surveillance after earthquakes and tsunamis.

    Now, if the ID advocates had their way, we would have just said, "Hey, God makes bees fly. Since I already know the real reason, there's no real reason to keep studying it." In fact, some of them will probably even go so far as to dismiss the findings as false because it conflicts with their notion that God must be responsible. If we listened to them, we wouldn't have possible future scientific and engineering discoveries, discoveries that could possibly lead to even more important work on truly world-changing devices.

    If they have their way and we stop studying other things that are presumably more important like evolution, stem cells, the origin of the universe, and so on, what else may we be missing out on?

    I never cease to be amazed at how science has consistently managed to explain everything ID advocates have thrown at it. Is it always right? No. Is it complete? No. But when it comes to explaining how things work, it has a record that beats non-science every time. As far as I'm concerned, you can keep your "It must be God" explanations to yourself and in your churches. Maybe you want your kids to grow up dumb, but I'd rather my kids study stuff that is real and that can actually contribute to our progress.

    • by bel_slashdot ( 659185 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440208)
      As a Christian Pastor, I believe the world, and everything in it, was indeed created by God. But I also believe that he is a God of order, and thus there is an order to all things that can be observed and recorded. As science progresses, I would expect that many things that are a mystery to us today would be explained and understood. The fact that there is a scientific explanation for these things does not disprove the existence of God. Sure, for many in the creationist camp, science and God have no business mixing. But there are also those who believe as I do. Why do God and Science have to be mutually exclusive?
      • by Prophet of Nixon ( 842081 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14440264)
        No reason at all.

        Its just that people are silly and like to argue.
      • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno-co.oLISPrg minus language> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:54PM (#14440344) Homepage
        Why do God and Science have to be mutually exclusive?

        Personally, I'm more impressed by a "God" that can design the rules to the universe and start the big bang more than one who just created everything "as is", in motion.

        They don't have to be mutually exclusive. It's the nature of, forgive me for sounding cruel, low intelligence people to turn things in to a black and white equation. They also happen to be a vocal bunch in this country, which is unfortunate. I also believe they are the minority, but a very vocal minority.
        • There's quite a bit of evidence to suggest that the universe started at the point in time Genesis suggests it did and that time spilled into the "past" and future equally from that point. Consider this, why did we start finding fossils and oil when we did? It's not hard to look at the evidence and reach the conclusion that they first started popping up when the negative time reached a point equidistant from the Genesis center from us now.
      • by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:59PM (#14440410) Homepage Journal
        No particular concept (e.g. 'God') is necessarily incompatible with science.

        But certain systems of uncovering truth are. For example, if you decide what to believe is true based on what is written in a particular book, and trust this above any other evidence, you will likely put yourself at odds with science sooner or later.

        Dogmatic belief is contrary to science. Religion is not the only place where dogmatic beliefs come from, nor does it necessarily require dogmatic belief, but they often go together.
      • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:01PM (#14440427)
        Intelligent Design is not so much believing that God made the world. That's an essential part of many religions and something that religious scientists would not dispute. They tend to believe as you seem to, that God is more evident in the system than in the results. (The results -- such as people -- being a product of the system -- say, evolution. Of course, God, being omniscient, would have no trouble designing a system such that any desired result would occur.)

        ID really refers specifically to evolution. In short: "Intelligent Design (or ID) is a highly controversial claim holding that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent designer, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection." It is not so much the presence of an intelligent designer that is the problem, but rather the denouncement of an undirected process. One of their frequent claims is that some systems are so complex that a seemingly random process such as evolution could not have produced them.

        Delightfully complex systems arising out of simple rules should not be a surprise to scientists or mathematicians. Whether or not this property is a base property of nature or the work of God is up to you, there's not any way to differentiate.
      • I am with you, Bel. I consider myself a proponent of intelligent design, simply because I subscribe neither to pure creationism nor to a pure theory of random development. As far as physical mechanisms go, I subscribe fully to scientific theory. In my opinion, evolution, the big bang, condensation of matter, etc. are not gross and unpalatable ideas, as some creationists I know have stated. I find it fascinating and beautiful to suppose that God created the cosmos complete with laws of nature, physical co
      • Pastor,

        Its not that Science and God must be mutually exclusive, it is that the principles which Science and Faith are based on are mutually exclusive. Its the faithful who want to force God into Science in place of scientific principles which are contradictory to their faith.

      • You've had plenty of thoughtful replies (and some total dipsticks), but I'd like to add mine anyway.

        As many have said, science and God do not have to be mutually exclusive, but people on each side are defending certain things that ARE mutually exclusive. Scientists object to the teaching of intelligent design because it's poor science. They cannot accept the teaching of it as science because it contradicts the basis on which science works. (Teaching it as a public policy or moral matter is different, but
    • Now, if the ID advocates had their way, we would have just said, "Hey, God makes bees fly. Since I already know the real reason, there's no real reason to keep studying it." In fact, some of them will probably even go so far as to dismiss the findings as false because it conflicts with their notion that God must be responsible. If we listened to them, we wouldn't have possible future scientific and engineering discoveries, discoveries that could possibly lead to even more important work on truly world-chan

      • by vortigern00 ( 443602 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14440262) Journal
        OK, I'll bite.

        I, myself, as a scientist and an atheist (although I believe the two have nothing to do with each other) have never read the important works of ID.

        As an ID supporter, I am led to believe that you are liely an authority on what those important works are, and I ask you to kindly list those which you feel are most important.

        I give you my word that I will read them all with a totally open mind.
        • I have not read it, but I hear that Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe is an important work among those who advocate ID. Applause for your interest in going to the source. I wish more slashdotters thought this way. It leads to much more interesting discussions.
      • Yes this is a common straw man argument used against ID. Perhaps we should look at this way: ID != Supernaturalism. The point of design is that God is so great that he could cause a bee to fly (or any other astounding example from nature) within the natural order, without relying on his supernatural powers. ID proponents are not looking outside of science to explain how the natural world works. What they are doing is questioning how the natural order came to be.
        • Because for everyone but a handful of oddballs, the Intelligent Designer is assumed to be Jehovah --a deity whose basis for existence rests entirely upon Abrahamic scriptures.

          If you have any doubts about that, try speculating about the nature of the "Intelligent Designer" in front of the ID set, and see if they appreciate your curiosity and open-mindedness or simply set you straight about who they know him to be.
        • by Temsi ( 452609 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:02PM (#14442120) Journal
          ID != Supernaturalism.
          This is patently false. Indeed ID = Supernaturalism.
          How? Very simple. Science and evolution rely on NATURAL explanations.
          ID does not. Indeed it relies on the existance of some "higher" being, a "designer".
          A "designer" who himself was not designed or came to be out of nothing, is by definition a supernatural being, and therefore, by definition, ID is supernaturalism.

          The point of design is that God is so great that he could cause a bee to fly (or any other astounding example from nature) within the natural order, without relying on his supernatural powers.
          Not so. If a fly can fly for purely natural reasons without the benefit of "supernatural powers" what exactly is the problem? And where exactly does the idea of "God" fit into all of that? If there's a natural explanation, why do we need to complicate the matter further by trying to force a man-made "supernatural" idea into it?

          ID proponents are not looking outside of science to explain how the natural world works.
          If that were true, there would be no argument, as there would be no mention of a "higher being" that designed everything. A "designer" of nature would by definition be outside of nature, and thus the very core of ID revolves around something which is not part of nature. Science is wholly grounded in natural explanations. A designer outside of nature simply does not fit in that basic set of observational rules. Therefore, a thing like ID, which does revolve around a designer, cannot by definition be based in science.
          Furthermore, ID does not have any theories or even hypotheticals which can be proven one way or another, and are therefore not scientific (all science must be falsifiable in order to qualify as science).

          What they are doing is questioning how the natural order came to be.
          That's all well and good, but the problem is, they're asking the wrong questions. They question things that have been demonstrated and explained ad nauseum, again and again because they don't like the answer (i.e. it doesn't suit their pre-conceived idea of a god or a creator).
      • Nonsense. This is a caricature of ID perpetuated by those who know nothing about it, haven't bothered to read the central works, etc. An ID advocate would (and no doubt will say), "Cool! We discovered the novel, innovative way that the Designer chose to make Bees fly!" The more religiously minded intelligent design sorts would say, "Ain't God grand?"

        Except if that novel, innovative way is evolution itself :) (Gotcha!)
    • Now, if the ID advocates had their way, we would have just said, "Hey, God makes bees fly. Since I already know the real reason, there's no real reason to keep studying it."

      Horse-pucky. You're making the same false argument that various religious advocates make when they say "since some Scientists are Atheists, supporting Science is supporting Atheism."

      There are some I.D. advocates who don't know the first thing about science. And there are some who, on every other topic except evolution, are indisinguishable from other speakers or scientists.

      By and large, "how Bees fly" says nothing about whether it was an evolved behavior or a constructed behavior. It's wrong for a moronic I.D. advocate to argue so, and it's wrong for a /. nutjob to argue that knowing how bees fly refutes I.D.
    • by dc29A ( 636871 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:44PM (#14440216)
      Hey, God makes bees fly.

      - Flying Spaghetti Monster you insensitive clod!
    • by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:53PM (#14440328) Homepage Journal
      As someone who believes in creationism and hard science, I think both sides of the argument are taking the issue as black and white instead of realizing if a higher being really did create everything, then there's far more gray area involved.

      The people on the science side should continue researching as they have in the past. They're doing great research that can teach us about a number of things, and that research can be used in future technology. Those that don't believe there's a God can continue not believing it.

      The people on the ID side should realize that if God did create everything, he's probably smart enough to design things in such a way that it can be explained through science as well. My personal belief is that everything, with the exclusion of miracles, can be explained through science, and that God did this so that people really can have a choice between believing and not believing. In any case, it shouldn't be an issue since the Bible doesn't teach us to argue stuff like this, it teaches us moral lessons like loving one another. People like Pat Robertson give Christianity a bad name. The same is true for terrorists and extremists (the Iranian leader) with Islam.

      As for teaching it in school, I don't believe it's right to do so. ID should be taught in Sunday School as it always has been. Christians should try using science to explain their faith, not try to argue that they're opposites. There have been many great scientists in history that have also been religious. They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

      In the end it's up to each person to decide what they want to believe, but trying to force faith-based arguments into the classroom is the same as trying to force evolution into church.
      • Mod TheFlyingGoat up! What you describe is pluralism with respect to science.

        My main problem with ID is not that it posits any sort of alternate theory of how we came to be or how we ought to interpret the world around us - frankly I think there's a lot of value in that. It's that ID insists that that kind of learning and reflection be taught in lieu of science.

        Science's "mission statement" has always been to apply analysis to understand the mechanics of how the natural phenoma work. Nothing more, nothin
  • by Life700MB ( 930032 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14440167)

    Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly

    Well, doh, by moving their little wings up and down quickly?

    Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
  • saw this on TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Douglas Simmons ( 628988 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14440169) Homepage
    This will be good news for the scientists who are trying to make robot insects but just cannot nail it. But is there anything to suggest that this may be a more efficent form of flight than what methods we already have?

    And by the way, is it one of /.'s top priorities to attack religion every chance it gets? Can't we stick to republicans and Microsoft, or whatever Netcraft has confirmed to be dying?

  • Try what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tehshen ( 794722 ) <tehshen@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14440181)
    From TFA:

    Try this!

    In order to understand how bees carry such heavy cargo, the researchers forced the bees to fly in a small chamber filled with a mixture of oxygen and helium that is less dense than regular air.

    "Try this!" I should try what? I am not sure about these researchers, but I do not yet have wings and an air tank. Maybe they're overestimating the Try-This-At-Home market a little.
    • the researchers forced the bees to fly in a small chamber filled with a mixture of oxygen and helium

      ...and when they got back to the hive all the other bees made fun of their really high voices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14440186)
    ID people: We must be right because you can't explain everything.
    Evolution People: Wait a sec, we figured something else out, you are now wrong.
    Is it just me or does this have nothing to do with any scientific arguement?
    • Science is about making new discoveries about the world around us. It is, at a philisophical level about clearly distinguishing between that which we can prove and that which we cannot and then using what we know to find out what we don't.

      There are many outlooks which differ from science most noteably the "What we think is what it is" outlook. The idea is that some group has a "complete" answer for everything be it God, Atheism, or little blue people that make the stars move. Any attempt to challenge tha
  • Nail in the coffin? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dslauson ( 914147 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440207) Journal
    I'm not sure you can call this a "nail in the coffin" of ID when there's still such a high percentage of our population that believes in it, you know? The catch-22 of ID is that it can't really be disproved with logic or science. You can shoot down their arguements when they try to put it in terms of biology like this, but I think we all know that this is not going to convince any "true believers" out there.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:46PM (#14440239) Homepage
    News Bulletin: Scientists have now accurately determined the mass of Pluto, further proving that Pluto is not actually a God, but a planet. This adds one more nail into the coffin of Greek and Roman mythology.

    WTF??? Why did the article even see a need to comment about the impact on this psuedoscience theory. The researchers looking into bee flight weren't doing it to disprove ID. It sounds like some pissed-off researcher, or perhaps a news reporter with an agenda, decided to throw in an off-hand comment about ID. It cheapens the research.

    • And yet if it had not said anything about Intelligent Design, however unrelated, it would not have gotten any coverage and no one would have read about bees flying.

      I think any research I ever do the rest of my life is going to need a mention or two about how it disproves Intelligent Design... that should assure that it receives a much larger audience.
  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14440265)
    People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly ... We were finally able to put this one to rest.

    "Finally able to put this one to rest"????

    This taken from 1993!

    Author: underdog
    Text: Can you explain "how" it is that a bee is capable of flying?

    Response #: 1 of 1
    Author: ProfBill
    Text: This is just an old engineering myth. There really is not a
    problem understanding how bees fly. The muscles that move the wings down are
    powerful enough to generated enough force to lift the weight of the bee. On
    the downstroke, the wings are "feathered", that is turned vertically so that
    moving up they do not generated a force down to undo all the work of lifting
    the bee in the first place. Much like a rower turns the oar parallel to the
    water on the return stroke, but perpendicular to the water to generate force
    on the power stroke. It all adds up just fine. The real unanswered question
    is how the bee's nervous system coordinates all this, especially the bit
    about compensating for wind, turning, etc.

    As far as I can see the only difference with this article is they've got a bit more detail on it, talk about sensationalist headlines!
    • by jfengel ( 409917 )
      Yes, they've got a bit more detail on it. That's pretty much how science works, with people adding bits of detail over time.

      This is press-release science, where a minor achievement (though I'm sure it's not minor to the grad students who spent thousands of hours poring over high-speed footage and writing analysis software) gets turned into a big deal. In this case it got tacked onto the Intelligent Design brouhaha, which bumps it up a level on the hype meter.

      Which is funny, because the "bees flying" thing
  • by Peter Trepan ( 572016 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:49PM (#14440273)
    Creationists: We don't know how bees fly, therefore Jehovah created them in their present state.

    Scientists: Oh yes, we do. Therefore, they evolved from primitive replicators.

    Me: (Smacks them both with a copy of The Baloney Detection Kit)
  • by portwojc ( 201398 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:49PM (#14440278) Homepage

    "When you do things right, people won't be sure if you did anything at all."


  • by writerjosh ( 862522 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:50PM (#14440285) Homepage
    I've always found it perplexing that the ID crowd and the Evolutionist crowd can never seem to get along. It seems to me that there is no real conflict of interest: is it not possible that God created evolution? That is to say, yes, there could have been an initial creator being, but he was smart enough to create a self-automating system of creation. He/she got the ball rolling, then just let it go. That seems to satisfy both camps if they just let it.

    The ID crowd shouldn't be so naïve as to say that God is up there controlling the every movements of a bee's wings, but the Evolutionist crowd should be more open to the possibility that all things in the known world had a start initiated by intelligence rather than "it just magically happened." That's just as ingenuous as saying God just magically controls everything.
    • by scheming daemons ( 101928 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:58PM (#14440403)
      but the Evolutionist crowd should be more open to the possibility that all things in the known world had a start initiated by intelligence

      Sure.. but then the ID crowd needs to explain how something as complex as the intelligent designer came to be. What created the "intelligent designer"? Surely something is irreducibly complex as a being that could create the known universe must have had its own intelligent designer? No?

      It's an endless circle that the ID crowd can't resolve, so they usually ignore.

      Their typical answer, when pressed, is... "well.. God just is." No beginning, no end. Well then, why can't we equally say.. with exactly as much evidence.. the Universe just is. It's been an endless series of big-bang/expand/contract/big-bang-again forever.. that's as plausible as the "God just is" line.

      A supreme being may exist.. No one can prove otherwise. But a supreme being is not necessary to explain the universe we live in.

    • by Mr_Huber ( 160160 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:40PM (#14440927) Homepage
      Perhaps it is because they are attempting to replace evolution, a well established branch of biology, with ID, a religious argument and very poor proof of God?

      From your post, it appears you are not arguing against evolution, but abiogenesis - the process by which life arose to the point evolution could operate. While we do not have a good scientific theory of what happened, there has been a good deal of progress and the science is far from "it just magically happened". Processes by which amino acid and cell wall precursors arise naturally have been discovered. From there, our understanding is hazy, but there still is nothing that precludes natural explanations.

      Scientists do not accept "it just magically happened" as an argument, as magic falls outside of natural explanations. Nor should scientists be forced to discard promising lines of research into abiogenesis to satisfy the religious needs of a particular subset of some religion. Nor should a group of religiously insecure Biblical literalists be allowed to force there way into the science classroom.

      This is not being elitist, it is insisting that everything in the science classroom adhere to the rules of science. ID is not science. Were we to lower the bar enough to allow ID in, we'd also be forced to allow astrology, numerology and divination via the entrails of slaughtered sheep. And personally, I think bio class is messy enough without the latter.
    • by bhima ( 46039 ) <Bhima.Pandava@g m a i l . com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:55PM (#14441074) Journal
      Most emphatically NO.

      ID exists exclusively as, and was created for, a tool to aid religious fundamentalists to do only a few things:

            Violate the constitution of the United States of America
            Cast doubt in the minds of young people in the fundamental working of the sciences
            Become the thin end of the wedge for the eventual goals of various forms of Christian Reconstructionism.

      ID has no basis in fact or reality.
      ID did not spring from spiritual thought but rather as a response to legal setbacks
      The religious extremists who promote ID repetitively have lied, deceived, cajoled, threatened, and even perjured themselves in their efforts to discredit science and get ID in the class room.

      I am all for religious tolerance and I am religious myself, but I absolutely will not tolerate dishonest and unethical religious extremists and I'm honestly outraged at the suggestion that I should.

      Having said all of that the ID comment in the submission is inappropriate but I can understand the sentiment.
    • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:30PM (#14442305) Homepage
      The reason they don't get along is not because of this theory.

      When it is illegal for me to do whatever I want with my own body or a consenting, adult partner, because someone else can't let go of the nice feelings they get when they imagine an invincible chaperone in the sky -- THAT is when disagreements happen.

      They hate science because it is displacing religion. Rainbows aren't God's sweet little promise not to kill us all again. They're just the result of the way light refracts off of water droplets, and if the physics of that magically changed 4,000 years ago, maybe that would explain how you fit millions of animals into a wooden boat.

      See, they don't want a competing theory in classrooms. They want prayer before and after meals in school. They want Christ presented as a historical character, and Shiva presented as a myth. They want far more than their painfully pathetic attempt at challenging evolution.

      The good Christians I've met are the ones who actually have enough faith in the bible to share it with others intead of trying to get it passed as law. The people trying to shove it down others' throats are the ones to be feared, because they haven't understood the most basic premise that Christ taught: love, no matter what! Love, because NO ONE is without sin. Love because only GOD can pass judgement upon others. I got that out of the book by reading it. I'm afraid most Christians have not.
  • Double stupidity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordOfYourPants ( 145342 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:52PM (#14440306)
    1) The article is stupid for mentioning anti-intelligent design stuff over and over. Tell us about the discovery in the article and save the anti-religious commentary for people that get off on arguing this shit over and over elsewhere.

    2) Intelligent design people are stupid for ever making the argument that since scientists can't understand natural/common phenomenon X that God designed the world. Are there really people out there saying this about the bees? I haven't gone out looking for it myself and consider myself lucky I don't have friends that would make this argument in front of me.

    I don't think there's much more to say. Just lots of stupidity to go around on *both* sides.
  • No Bearing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:56PM (#14440369)
    I'm not a supporter of ID, but this article doesn't bear on the argument. The point was "it's so complicated we can't understand it, so how could it possibly have evolved?" This discovery only changes the question to "it was so complicated we didn't understand it until 2006, so how could it possible have evolved?"

    It would have had much more to say for evolution if they'd shown how bees evolved flight, but there's no indication of that in the article.

    What I don't understand is why so many people who believe in "intelligent design" think any process not simple enough for us to understand readily can't be the product of evolution. I don't see any logical connection.

  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:02PM (#14440452)
    "Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design. From the article: 'People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly ... We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us.'"
    It may be one more nail in the coffin of "Intelligent Design" ( the spin term for "creationism" ), but that coffin will never be nailed shut until science finds a cheap cure for cognitive dissonance that can be administered involuntarily and on a mass scale
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:11PM (#14440543) Homepage
    "Proponents of intelligent design, or ID, have tried in recent years to promote the idea of a supreme being by discounting science because it can't explain everything in nature."

    Very few proponents of intelligent design point to such things. And in truth, I've never heard that argument made myself. Not saying there aren't a few who do.

    But you know. We took a perfectly good article about how we've furthered our understanding of how bee's fly. And basically turned that knowledge into trash.

    So yes, now, we know how bee's fly. (Actually, I remember reading an article on it a few years back that seemed to give a fairly detailed review.) But let me say something about the poster and the author of the article. They're both lame.

    Why....because if you are devoted solely to turning any discovery as an argument of one issue than you have lost the purpose of science. You are not a scientist you have become a dogmatic believer. In the case of the bee argument, those arguments are usually made to point out that scientists do not know all the answers. And they don't. So they gained understanding of one answer. Congratulations...

    But I fear for science when it becomes so dogmatic that it must act in the most poor manner imitating all that it derides about religion...these individual become the very thing thing they mock.

  • by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:29PM (#14440798) Homepage
    what is w/ all this drek about ID. I know the poster included the flamebait in the article description but can't anybody have a discussion on the actual mechanics of how bees fly?

    I mean c'mon that's why i use slashdot, am I going to have to actually read the article to get that?

  • by Kazoo the Clown ( 644526 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:49PM (#14441026)

    Reportedly, years ago a biologist and a physicist met over dinner or something, and the subject came up about the physics of bee flight. Some back of the paper napkin calculations by the physicist didn't work, and they were overheard by someone who reported to the press that "science proves bees can't fly." Of course, everyone knows that bees can fly, so it was seen as a "har har, those silly scientists, they don't know anything." Science gets it wrong, so science is just a bunch of stuffed-shirt eggheads in labs that have convinced themselves they know something when they really don't know anything.

    However, it neatly ignored the fact that not too long after that discovery, the question raised actually led to further investigation of the subject and much was learned about insect flight. This story shows much is still being learned from that event.

    What really happened in this case, is someone detected an error. Science has a long history of individuals who found errors in our understanding of the universe. In fact, virtually all the famous names of science are famous because they uncovered an error in our understanding. It is simply by the detection of errors that science advances. Science is a philosophy that learns from its mistakes, and in fact, without the discovery of mistakes it really isn't learning much. It's in trying to determine what's going on with a discovered mistake that science moves forward.

    Consequently, every time I hear someone claim something to the effect of "oh look, here's where science got it wrong," I point to it and say, "oh look, here's where science learned something. Here's where science made progress."

    To the extent that ID is looking for mistakes in science, it will actually improve our understanding of the universe, which includes evolution. Where ID differs from science, is that not only is no one in ID even looking for mistakes in ID, ID isn't even capable of making mistakes, because their explanations would explain any phenomena-- and an explanation that explains everything really doesn't explain anything. Drop an apple and it falls down? It's ID. Drop an apple and it falls up? It's ID. There's no knowledge content to such an explanation.

    Any philosophy that is not capable of discovering its mistakes, must be either perfect or error-prone. And, since no human endeavor or understanding can be said to be perfect, I'd say it's pretty clear which it is. Science too is not perfect, but it has one thing the other philosophies do not, and that is at least some ability to detect its errors. Given the choice between a philosophy that can detect at least some of its errors, and one that pretends it can't make any errors, I think the choice should be pretty easy to make.

    Some suggest that scientists are in some kind of conspiracy or cover up. Such a suggestion is completely ignorant of how science and scientists operate. While an individual scientist may find it difficult to uncover errors in their own work, scientists are fully aware that careers are made by uncovering an interesting mistake in another scientists work, and would trumpet such a discovery to the high hills instantly. Conspiracy, indeed.

    ID proponents only succeed because they are not the only ones ignorant of these basic realities. Unfortunately, science education and interest is so weak that a large piece of the populace is similarly ignorant.

    Even those who aren't anti-evolution or particularly religious may believe in things like astrology, for example. But when was the last time anyone was recognized for finding an error in our "understanding" of astrology? Astronomy has a long list of names of those who've uncovered errors in our understanding: Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, etc.., for example, and there are many many more. Where's the list of names that have improved the quality of astrological knowl

  • by Choco-man ( 256940 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:09PM (#14441738)
    I've two advanced degrees - one in chemistry, t'other in genetics. I'm the technical director for one of the largest companies in the world. My wife is a professor.

    I say that only to establish that I'd consider myself a fairly educated, scientific person whose social sphere includes other well educated individuals. I'm also a devout Christian. What boggles my mind is that the two sides tend to line up like soliders in the revolutionary war - a clearly divided line of people wearing one color on one side, and people wearing another color on the other side - and insist that their way is the only right way, not acknowledging that perhaps there's some middle ground to be had. Why is it so hard for Christians to accept what we've proven in science? Why is it so hard for non religious scientists to acknowledge that we've not discovered all the answers, and indeed, may never do so? I'm not all that old, but as I age, I'm increasingly realizing that things are rarely one way or the other. Everything in life, science - coexists in a relationship of one sort or another. To out of hand entirely dismiss something because it seems preposterous to you today is incredibly closed minded. And I say that to both sides. Our knowledge doubling rate is so fast these days, a great deal of what we 'knew' unequovically to be truth 10 years ago has changed.

    I believe in God.

    I believe in science.

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    I'm sure I'll get the obligatory 'you're an idiot - how can you believe in something science can not prove' responses. And I'll read them from the middle of the field, sandwiched between both sides who are too busy trying to prove the other side wrong to notice that the space between the two sides can be occupied.
  • The inconsistencies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AutopsyReport ( 856852 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:53PM (#14442044)
    I'm a simple man. I do not get bogged by the inconsistencies of evolution (or lack of a creator) or intelligent design. I interpret things at face-value and determine what seems authentic and known to be true. I'm a firm believer in microevolution, but not macroevolution. There just isn't enough solid evidence on the plate to convince me yet.

    But for years, I've had a major problem with the anti-creationism crowd. And yes, I am talking about Intelligent Design, because denying intelligent design implies that the substance of the earth and universe came into being through a means other than a deity.

    If that is what is know to be true, then how did matter form in the beginning? I've had many discussions with folks proposing that there is no God (and no intelligent design) and I that I should look to science to resolve this large issue. But I cannot escape the fact that there is simply no explanation for how the matter came into being. Everything which has a beginning has a cause, so there must be a viable explanation for how matter was formed from nothing.

    To this date, there exists no such answer that I know of. I'd like to point to a statement Stephen Hawking made in 'The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe'. He said, "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun...except as an act of a God who intended to create us."

    In my mind, it is equally impartial to deny both intelligent design and evolution/no creator. In terms of the laws of the land, intelligent design may not have a place in the education system, but it certainly has it's place in the world. Until it can be empirically proved that no God existed, both theories should retain the uncertain authenticity they deserve, and both sides should earn the right to be respected of their beliefs.

  • by sparkz ( 146432 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:05PM (#14442135) Homepage
    I'm not in the American hysteria about "ID", but I am a Christian (did anyone see last night's Channel 4 programme by Richard Dawkins, "The Root of All Evil?"? I taped it because I was interested to see how he would argue the case; I'm glad I did, so I can blog all the holes in his argument. I have to admit to being disappointed at the number of holes; I was expecting a more coherent argument against religion. I actually think I could have done better myself! Anyway; for example, http://www.paghat.com/beeflight.html [paghat.com] :
    The "science has proved that bees can't fly" urban myth originated in a 1934 book by entomologist Antoine Magnan, who discussed a mathematical equation by Andre Sainte-Lague, an engineer. The equation proved that the maximum lift for an aircraft's wings could not be achieved at equivalent speeds of a bee. I.e., an airplane the size of a bee, moving as slowly as a bee, could not fly. Although this did not mean a bee can't fly (which after all does not have stationary wings like the posited teency aircraft), nevertheless the idea that Magnan's book said bees oughtn't be able to fly began to spread.
    If ID proponents are using arguments like that, they really need to get a cluestick. This is not news (for nerds or otherwise), and it certainly isn't stuff that matters.

    As this post isn't getting into the Big Picture, I won't bother getting into details here (check my website in the near future for that kind of detail) but science is constantly moving on (as it should do) so a total belief in the current findings of science is, by definition, irrational.

    If you trace back through your family tree for a few hundred years, and (I guess you don't know them all personally) assume that they had full belief in the scientific research of the time, your predecessors believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth, that the Earth was flat, that the West Indies were actually part of India, and so on.

    Science has achieved a lot, and we are learning more every day, but only a fool would believe that our research has given us any definitive information about our environment.

  • by pappy97 ( 784268 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:01PM (#14442533)
    Think about this people. Why are we even having this ID/evolution debate?

    Oh I know....when humans came to be they had something other animals did not: the ability to reason.

    Most animals can't reason, and their whole life consists of eat/sleep/sh**/f***/survive and then die.

    With humans we think beyond that, we can reason. It's a blessing and a curse.

    Blessing to be so intelligent, but curse because it makes us ask the ONE single question (among other questions) that got religion started: what happens after we die???

    Because humans have the ability to reason, we can't deal with the fact that nothing happens when we die. Most humans would be too paranoid to live life (because of the ability to reason and think about these abstract things), so we invent religion. We invent stories that say what happens when we die, to put us at peace. Once those stories got a hold of us, people pulling the strings busted out creation myths(ding ding ding!) and the rest is history.

    So what is the point of arguing ID vs. evolution? ID is based on religion, which came about to put humans, who have the ability to reason, at peace during their lives because they can't deal with the fact that nothing happens after death. You just die.
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:13PM (#14442920)
    ... fruitflies like a banana.

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.