Creationists Explain Things: Logic and Sweet Reason

| 38 Comments

Please note that these are all direct quotes from creationists taken from the many public domain creation/evolution debates. I have collected these for years, and many of the debate sites no longer exist. Even so, I wager that I could replace them today without too much trouble. I have arranged them some, but I have not altered original spelling or grammar. GH

Logic and Sweet Reason

“There is proof in math and logic… ok. I’ll give you proof. You go first. “

“You need proof?

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is. — Exodus 20:11

That’s all the proof I need.”

“Genesis, on the other hand, is stated as plain fact. There is nothing whatsoever to imply that it should be taken in any way other than the plain, straightforward meaning of the text, therefore we do not have license to take it any other way. It’s as simple as that. It takes more faith to beleive in evolution than it does to beleive in God.”

“The problem is that there is only one valid way to read Genesis; if you do not accept this reading, you cannot legitimately claim to believe the Bible. “

“That is the only use evolutionary theory has: trying to “prove” the Bible to be wrong, and that’s why it is such a deadly enemy. Trying to make a scientific proposition out of a statement of creation, as you call it, is an act of self-defense against those scientists who are trying to destroy the idea of creation, and with it the entire foundation of the Bible.”

“Evolution only produces Nazism and atheism and communism and genocide. Shows how effective brain-washing can be. Do you realize how many “isms” exist because of their belief in evolution? Nazism and Communism, for starters, and of course Humanism and Atheism; Humanism being the religion du jour in our ‘Government’ Schools. “

“If the Bible says one thing and scholarship says another, scholarship can go to Hell. For myself I choose not to believe in evolution because it is NOT FOUND IN GOD’S WORD.”

“No amount of evidence can be provided to change people’s minds here, so a strictly secular debate is meaningless. “

“I shake the dust off my sandals. The Lord rebuke thee.

This discussion serves no further purpose. The evidence is there if you open your eyes to see it, but you’ve been blinded by the forces of the devil. Are you willing to stake your eternity on what some scientist wrote in a book and speculated on?

I would rather keep my faith in God and Jesus. In the end, who will lose if I’m wrong? Who will lose if I’m right? Either way, I won’t remember any suffering. I’ll laugh when you all burn in Hell “

38 Comments

I never cease to be amazed at creationists’ raw hubris. They actually believe that there is no other way one can legitimately take the Genesis story other than literally.

You have to wonder at the IQ of those seem only to be able to in ones and zerios.

Eddie

“The problem is that there is only one valid way to read Genesis; if you do not accept this reading, you cannot legitimately claim to believe the Bible. “

By which he means, of course, “my way”. And “my way” is almost always without the benefit of knowing anything about 2000 years of arguing, thinking, and writing about it, including things by people with bigger brains than him, like Augustine and Origen.

Good category:

“You just said a scintific theory can’t ever be proven so since creation theory has been proven it wins again!”

“It takes more faith to believe in make believe than God. I have 20 bucks, will it stand up and walk around if I leave it alone for a millin years? No I think not”

“Dark, this would all be a lot easier for you to understand if you would only free yourself from your prison of logic”

~DS~

Heh heh, you got some real winners there, DS.

As Mike says, the only biblical interpretation that creationists accept is the one that they hold. One of plaeontologist Jack Horner’s graduate students, Margaret Gray Towne, published an augmented version of her dissertation called Honest to Genesis: A Biblical & Scientific Challenge to Creationism (2003 Baltimore: PublishAmerica). She expressly takes a theistic evolutionary stance. You might not find too much new if you have spent a few years studying the evo/creato issues. Otherwise, I can recommend her book as a welcome source of information, particularly her biblical responces to YECs.

Of course evolution leads to Communism. All you have to do is look at the publication dates of “Origin of Species” and “The Communist Manifesto” - the first was published in 1859 and the second in 1848. The link is obvious to anyone who cares to see it.

I’m really quite uncomfortable with this whole series of postings. I don’t see that they have any content beyond “ha ha look at how stupid the creationists are!” That hardly strikes me as a useful form of engagement in any debate. The intellect of any particular adherent to a given theory is not a useful benchmark for the theory’s validity.

I’ve found this blog overall to have quite a high “signal-to-noise ratio.” This series of belittlements is sharply lowering it.

I’m really quite uncomfortable with this whole series of postings. I don’t see that they have any content beyond “ha ha look at how stupid the creationists are!” That hardly strikes me as a useful form of engagement in any debate. The intellect of any particular adherent to a given theory is not a useful benchmark for the theory’s validity.

I’ve found this blog overall to have quite a high “signal-to-noise ratio.” This series of belittlements is sharply lowering it.

I am reminded of a quote from Robert Green Ingersoll:

“Only a few years ago there was no person too ignorant to successfully answer Charles Darwin; and the more ignorant he was the more cheerfully he undertook the task.”

The other point to this post might be that, without finding humor in this “debate” somewhere, it all becomes terribly depressing.

E

From a personal exchange:

Creationist: “When I look at the sunset or a butterfly’s wings, I see the glory of God’s handiwork.”

Me: “How about when you see Ebola at work?”

Creationist: I don’t understand what you mean.”

I have to say that I agree with the other Chris (Tate) - if you spend a few posts mocking creationists and Intelligent Design folk, it can be funny; but lately, it seems like this is the primary goal of this blog. Posts making fun of Dembski and his bbq restaurant and misquotes, Hovind’s law troubles, and now the stupidity of Young Earth Creationists are all well and good, as long as they are merely humorous supplements to more numerous posts with more substance. This website started off really well. I hope it continues with the high-quality and informative posts that it began with.

I understand where you’re coming from Chris(s).

Playing Devil’s advocate though, this is an example of the kind of thing I deal with regularly:

Creationist Troll “ROFL!! Dimsyd got his jaw broken while he was forced to watch two n—-s rape his wife. AND HE DID NOTHING! Is she pregnant Dim?” (In reference to a minor mugging incident I mentioned in an evo room on AOL)

A beloved and gentle biologist who is a reg at an evolution forum I frequent wife’s died after a long and horrid death. His screen name is Muskogean, known to his friends as Musk. The Creationist troll, knowing this tragic turn of events and the misery Musk was going thorugh, entered the room while he was present with the screen name “Muskswiferots”…

A creationist troll learned a reg’s name from his website. The creationist called him on the phone repeatedly at all hours and went off on bizarre disjointed rants even after being told the incident had been reported to the police.

And I could provide more, but I don’t wish to sully this wonderful site with trolling tripe.

I think most of us are aware that the majority of creationist supporters are simply misinformed people who may be a tad over enthusiastic and uneducated in matters of science. And I’ve interacted with many polite creationists/IDists. EG: Rusty Lopez and Joe Carter; while I feel they’re misguided in their views on IDC, they’re polite people who make thoughtful, responsive comments and do not ever stoop to such disdainful tactics.

But there’s plenty of nitwits and assholes I’ve encountered who do. IMO databases such as the EvC Creationist Wall of Shame is a way to deal with the inevitable frustration in a semi-healthy way. With laughter instead of anger. At least it is for me.

~DS~

These are America’s Taliban. They are the book burners and the witch burners. They have no use for education, and are actively trying to deny education to others. There is no ‘signal’ that will get through to them. Ridicule and derision are effective weapons.

I would rather laugh at them than have to shoot at them.

Dembski’s goal is at one with theirs.

While I have no great love for religious creationism, I think this kind of tactic is reprehensible. It is a common tactic of many “evolutionists” to make their adversaries look like morons, but I think if you read the likes of Michael Behe, Philip Johnson, Bill Dembski, and a host of other creationist writers you will find that, while you may not agree with their conclusions, their writings are well thought out, coherent and well supported. I never saw anything resembling this kind of garbage in anything I’ve read. If you want to see real creationist thinking I suggest you read some material by the above referenced authors, or simply go to a high quality creationist website like AIG or ARN.

“high quality creationist website like AIG or ARN”

You got to be kidding.

The lies promoted by AiG alone will take decades to expunge. Here are a few of my efforts in that direction.

Dino Blood and the Young Earth

Boiled Sarfati with a Side of Hexaglycine

A Dubious Diluvium

But Charlie, AiG is part of the problem imo.

Sure, they have the infamous list of arguments creatonists should not use. That list BTW is full of such qualifiers as ‘[example-not a real AiG quote] Some may be hoaxes; although the data is not all in yet, it’s plausible that some of these out of blah blah specimens are legitimate”.

And they throw some bad light on Hovind. Which incidentallly does not take great moral courage. I’d expect any freakin Boy Scout Troop who studies the facts to do the same thing, let alone a Ministry of God.

But it’s pretty difficult for me to believe that those guys and gals over there at AiG haven’t grasped that evolution doesn’t violate the Second Law of Thermo, or that abiogenesis doesn’t mean evolution. Especially after having that and many other AiG claims exposed *painstakingly*. The errors explained to them in exquisite detail repeatedly over a period of years by highly qualified people. So the reasonable conclusion is that they’re lying and they know they’re lying. And they’re hijacking the sincere faith of their fellow Christians who inherently trust the creationists NOT to lie to them for their own personal gain and non-salvational agenda. And along the way they’re bullshitting their fellow thiests and making them look like ignorant hicks to the secular, scientifically informed, public.

So in other words, they’re conmen of the worst kind. They deserve my contempt, their victims deserve my pity. Their vicitms who turn vicious or sarcastic are free game imo.

~DS~

Charlie says:

“I never saw anything resembling this kind of garbage in anything I’ve read.”

Oh really? Let’s look at this collection of equally “well thought out, coherent and well supported” statements, all taken from a SINGLE website. I won’t reveal whose website that is. You’ll have to guess!

“I like to think that I’m challenging people to think and to defend their beliefs with facts. You have no idea how frustrating it is to encounter the kind of pig-headedness and closed-mindedness that I often encounter.”

“I put [Darwin’s theory] right along side the tooth fairy and the Great Pumpkin in believability.”

“There is no evidence of any kind that any life form on this earth is “descended” from any other life form.”

“I was not aware that some skeletons of Archaeopteryx were found without feathers and were mis-classified as reptiles. As for its reptilian chracteristics, they are at best cosmetic.”

“Darwin’s theory of evolution by mutation and natural selection is DEAD DEAD DEAD. As dead as Darwin himself.”

“As always, the darwinian paradigm is a millstone around the neck of scientific progress.”

“I have been told repeatedly that the fossil record is so incomplete and it’s so hard to preserve fossils and less than 1% of all species are preserved so I can’t cite it as evidence against natural selection. Well then, you can’t cite it as evidence for natural selection. So goodbye fossil record. It’s useless.”

“Theories, theories, theories…enough to make you gag. Well frankly, I’m sick of it. Let’s just say it clearly: this is what we know, this is what we don’t know.”

“Talk.Origins Archive FAQ … is almost totally devoid of any kind of factual evidence to support darwinian evolution. Any fool can see through the obfuscation and irrelevancy of their so-called scientific facts.”

Charlie said

“If you want to see real creationist thinking I suggest you read some material by the above referenced authors …”

I agree that those authors represent something but I’m not sure that the words “real” or “thinking” are appropriate descriptors of that something.

To their credit, and I mean this sincerely, some of the people cited in the intro post to this thread (and the related threads) are NOT thinking but are merely reciting (as best they can) what they believe is required of them according to their religious beliefs. Fine with me. If they aren’t interested in science or even reason, that’s their problem. Hopefully they also believe that voting for politicians is a form of idol worship.

But Charlie, you and your favorite authors are a breed apart because you claim to have a SCIENTIFIC explanation for the impossibility of evolution but when your feet are put to the fire, we find that your belief is not based on science at all. Your belief, Charlie, is based partly on (1) an utterly unscientific REFUSAL to acknowledge that ANY evidence exists which is consistent with evolution and (2) a BELIEF that scientists either have an “agenda” or suffer from some catastrophic social pathology which causes them to irrationally perpetuate the myth of evolution in the absence of any evidence.

And to the extent that both (1) and (2) are implicitly insulting to the vast (and we mean VAST) majority of scientists, what I find most reprehensible is that, out of the other side of your mealy mouth, you attempt to cite the results of the hard-earned labor of these scientists as evidence for their own collective insanity! Meanwhile, what do you offer in return, Charlie? NOTHING.

Instead of sitting around collecting pure horse manure for your web site, why don’t you find some *positive* evidence to support your “theory” that aliens put every existing species of life on this planet. I guarantee you, if you succeed at that then 100 years from now schoolchildren around the world will be learning of your great discoveries (except of course in those schools where teaching your theory will be banned for religious reasons).

For the record, Joe Carter, one of the above-listed benevolent creationists, wrote me a not-so-benevolent email in response to comments I made on his site. I’m not sure he belongs on the list. But I harbor no ill-will, and I too think that the insult posts are uncalled for. People on the internet are often crazy, be they creationist, evolutionist, or what have you. Lowering your standards of behavior because theirs are so low is not effective. If the debators on the side of science are to have any credibility, they have to rise above the nonsense of creatioinist and Intelligent Design rhetoric. Making some jokes that serve to demonstrate relevant points (Project Steve is a great example) can help make an otherwise unbearable discussion bearable, but cheap shots are completely counterproductive.

Trunk,

“If the debators on the side of science are to have any credibility, they have to rise above the nonsense of creationist and Intelligent Design rhetoric.”

Well, it depends on who the intended audience is. For example, I’m not sure that “rising above” creationist rhetoric is give scientists (or non-scientists) who believe in evolution more credibility with creationists.

With respect to the IDers, I have no idea what “credibility” means to them anyway. If essentially ALL of the world’s most respected biologists aren’t “credible,” then who the hell is?

With respect to people “on the fence,” I think they would be interested in what ALL of the members of the anti-science movement have to say (and I’m aware of no better description of IDers than “anti-scientists”). The IDers always accuse of scientists of being “anti-religion” but I know that most Christians and otherwise “pro-religion” people want NOTHING whatsoever to do with the ridiculousness compiled by Dr.GH. Most religious people, like most people in general, want their children to succeed in an increasingly technical and competitive world and know instinctively that anti-science groups like IDers and fundamentalists are NOT trying to improve science education.

These anti-science groups, then, are like opportunistic infections and may provide a useful signal to communities that their public school system has already been hijacked and is about to take a turn for the worse.

I also can’t say I’m too concerned about “lowering … standards of behavior” because, as a practical matter, it’s hard to get as low as the IDers and “creation scientists”.

I don’t see that a principaled distinction can be drawn between a statement such as,

“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, That’s all the proof I need,”

and the “arguments” regurgitated by drones such as Joe Carter and Charlie Wagner (and the parasites like Wells and Dembski who infect their brains). In both instances, all the “proof” these people need to convince themselves that evolution is a “myth” is that some quack said “IT DOESN’T EXPLAIN EVERYTHING.” And just coincidentally, that conclusion happens to mesh perfectly with their belief that they were “put here for a reason.”

I have no issues with skeptical people because (I have been told) I am one of the most skeptical people around. If someone refuses to be persuaded of the value of one of the most beautiful and elegant theories in all of science then that is their loss. No skin of my lamp (as we used to say in Wisconsin). What I find repulsive is the implicit assumption by IDers that scientists, in the main, are either morally bankrupt or deluded (e.g., too guilty or ashamed to “turn back”). It is the same reasoning that far right conservatives and conservative Christians use to tar and feather any group that opposes them for any reason.

In that regard, it should come as no surprise that Joe Carter runs a blog (www.evangelicaloutpost.com) that spends at least 50% of its bandwidth vigorously smearing “the Left” and, in the process, adopts the very same argumentative stance assumed by the IDers: (1) taking quotes from the “enemy” out of context and spinning them to serve some pre-existing belief about an “agenda” to drag the United States (and the rest of the world) into some sort of amoral Hell on Earth; (2) blindly assumes that every statement made by the “Party Leaders” is the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and (3) characterize nearly any criticism of the “Party Leaders” as a desperate personal attack. Bottom line: that stuff up top is just hilarious ridiculous fun. A real street fight with IDers would be much much uglier. As far as I’m concered, the anti-scientists and IDers put the brass knuckles on years ago and we science proponents are still using jujitsu. Personally, I’d rather offend grandma than get my teeth knocked out.

A minor correction to my post above:

The expression is “No skin *off* my lamp,” not “No skin of my lamp.”

The reference, of course, is to Ed Gein’s notorious home improvement schemes.

Let’s review a typical AiG ‘science seminar’. I’ve only been able to stomach watching parts of one such meeting so I can’t be certain this was typical meeting. But I’m willing to bet it was. It was held in a church. Pamphlets had advertised the meeting as being ‘true science’ and ‘good for all ages’.

The meeting began with Ken Hamm leading the congregation in prayer. A couple of attacks on the dire moral consequences of evolution follow.

Then Mr. Hamm launches into a description of all the ways paleogeologists, which he calls evolutionists BTW, hoodwinks the world into thinking the earth is ancient. One example used is some guy (never identified) who used some K-AR dates and threw out the specimens who gave the ‘wrong’ age. The implication being that some sort of Darwinian Mafia would have disapproved of those ‘wrong ages’ and put out a ‘hit’ on anyone who exposes the geology ‘scam’.. [It’s not mentioned that samples are routinely thrown out if they have low annealing temperatures and were thus suspect for K-Ar dating- according to standard geology.]

Then evolution is blamed for Stalinism and Fascism. Then another round of prayer.

Then ‘for the kids’ a guitar player performs a sing-a-long “I didn’t come from no chimpanzee. My grandpa didn’t swing from no tree”..

Then Mr. Hamm takes the pulpit again and teaches children the newest technique in critical thinking; i.e., to ‘throw your hands in the air’ when confronted with data supporting geology/evo/astronomy and say rhetorically “Were you THERE?”.

Followed by more prayer begging God to spare the evilutionists and help them ‘come to the light’, along with a solicitation for money thrown in. Then the collection plate is passed for AiG and the church to split. The meeting ends with a plug for AiG books, coloring books, and T-shirts which are available in the foyer of the church for a special price available only to this congregation because they’re such dang good Christians.

Later.. one of those attendees comes barging onto Talk Origins or some other evo forum ‘armed with the truth’, and proceeds to make a total ass out themselves accusing evo of being pretty much responsible for every ill in the world.

Forgive me if I laugh at some point when the poor schmuck gets tangled up and says something hilarious like “If people evolved from monkey’s, why are their still people?’.

~DS~

Charlie,

It’s nice that you haven’t seen Johnson and Dembski trash-talking. That means you haven’t read much of their output, not that the trash-talk doesn’t exist. There is a thread that documents ID advocates using invidious comparisons in their writings at the AE discussion board.

Those who make a career out of defending creationist ideas are all probably incapable of taking an unbiased approach to the scientific issues involved. Beyond that I would doubt they share much in common (some are dishonest, others misguided, some are stupid, others smart, etc) except for one thing: they all feel threatened in their world view by the materialist and naturalistic worldview of science. In their minds, if there is no God – or, rather, in the context of evolution, no Intelligent Design – then there is no meaning or purpose in life, no basis for morals, and no reason not to do whatever it takes to get ahead in life. If you folks who are trying to keep Intelligent Design theories out of biology classes in our public schools – and I must say I am with you on this – if you would be a little more appreciative of the powerful emotional needs that are driving these people, and could find ways to allay their fears that, according to the theory of evolution, all morality is not necessarily just a lot of bunkum, then, I think, you would have a lot more success, if not in winning them over, then at least in winning over a lot of the undecided bystanders who are watching this debate.

Luke

I agree wholeheartedly with your post.

A surefire way to “allay their fears that, according to the theory of evolution, all morality is not necessarily just a lot of bunkum” is greatly desirable.

The problem is that this idea that evolution supports the view that morality is “a lot of bunkum” is not a concept perpetuated by scientists. It is a concept perpetuated by the creationists.

The concept can be shown to be false, I suppose, if scientists could show that they are as ethical as any other group of people on the planet. I’m not sure how that could be done (crime rate statistics??).

Personally I subscribe to the approach that the most straightforward way to debunk the morality argument is to strip the clothing off the high profile creationists and show what a lying hypocritical lot of opportunists most of them are.

The “genius” of the ID camp is that they created a fiction that, by relying on bogus jargon and probabilistic claptrap, is very difficult FOR THE AVERAGE AMERICAN to see for what it is: a pack of lies. For this reason, I wholeheartedly endorse the approach of using the most blatant and easily appreciated misrepresentations, lies, and logical absurdities of the IDers of the ID movement to relentlessly drive home the point: the IDers are stinking liars and therefore cannot lay claim to ANY moral “high ground” with respect to scientists.

Debating creationists and ID supporters will always be difficult in a democracy since science is—and must be—exceedingly undemocratic in important ways. In particular, science and free speech do not go together. Perhaps no human institution puts more stringent controls on discourse than the sciences—imagine if you had to have your political ideas peer reviewed before you could publish them. This unfreedom is not a defect. It is the absolute precondition of progress. Without it, reliable information could never emerge from the babble of ignorant voices. The trouble is, in a country that subscribes to the absurd idea that everybody has a right to their own opinion, letting on that a science classroom is no place for free speech is a hard sell indeed.

I have to say, I’m not quite sure how quoting people is somehow a cheap shot. Nobody is challenging the validity of the comments or their source. How is repeating someone’s words a low blow? You’d think they should be happy about it - if they believe their words are correct, having them repeated should cause no insult.

I doubt anyone reading this truly thinks this is anything but the worst of the worst that’s out there, and not truly representative of ID or creationists (however much I may disagree with them). Someone repeating a silly quote by some coach or lineman isn’t taken as a cheap shot against all football players. Why should it here?

Jim Harrison wrote

The trouble is, in a country that subscribes to the absurd idea that everybody has a right to their own opinion, letting on that a science classroom is no place for free speech is a hard sell indeed.

I have no particular problem with the principle that everybody has a right to their own opinion. As far as I’m concerned, anyone can believe whatever damfool thing they wish. What I object to is the (usually implicit) further notion that therefore any person’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s opinion, and even further, that the worth of an opinion is measured by the number of unqualified and ignorant people that hold it. That’s the fundamental proposition that leads to the kind of corruption of science that one sees in the Ohio “Critical Analysis” model lesson plan that defines a “theory” in science as “A supposition.”

RBH

Charlie: It is a common tactic of many “evolutionists” to make their adversaries look like morons, but I think if you read the likes of Michael Behe, Philip Johnson, Bill Dembski, and a host of other creationist writers you will find that, while you may not agree with their conclusions, their writings are well thought out, coherent and well supported.

I find Charlie’s comments hard to take seriously without some supporting evidence. How common is this ? And are evolutionists responsible for creationists sounding like morons? In addition, I do not agree with the statement that the work by Behe, Dembski and Johnson is coherent and well supported. In fact Johnson’s writings are all but (as Lamoureux has shown). Dembski’s work is becoming less and less coherent and lacks in much supporting evidence.

Another thought on this issue:

Every group is going to have its fringe element. How that group deals with its fringe element is an important thing, however. It seems that statements such as the above, even if the views are not universally shared among creationists, are rarely disavowed. This leads to the impression that they are implicitly endorsed.

A good example to the contrary is the recent Bush/Hitler controversy on MoveOn.org. Those ads were out of line, and were pulled as soon as they were discovered. How many of the above statements, or others (I love the Fundie link) such as the “Marriage started falling apart when we ditched arranged marriage” lunacy are removed from the sites or otherwise sanctioned?

Without any sort of denunciation of this fringe element, it doesn’t look quite so fringe.

Here is a classic for you:

“Will the Japanese pearl diver get a hole in the back of her head because it will better adapt her to her environment? That is the argument of evolution. Whales jumped back into the sea and decided to get a hole because the ones that did had better survival over the ones that would have to breath through the mouth.”

Creationists often seem unaware of elementary homologies; some creationists seem to think that according to evolution, birds’ wings sprouted from nowhere. Their true origin I will leave as an exercise for the reader.

Likewise, cetaceans’ blowholes are nostrils – they are moved back on the head from their typical position.

Some creationists also go to great lengths to deny clear homologies, like the human coccyx with most other vertebrates’ tail bones.

As to that Japanese pearl diver example, if some population made successful pearl diving a major criterion for reproducing, we’d eventually see pearl divers with more myoglobin in their muscles for oxygen storage, more subcutaneous fat (human blubber), and other adaptations to diving – it’s a matter of how fast the appropriate mutations can happen.

What slays me about the fundie arguements about the story of creation being true. Which one? There are 2 different stories in Genesis. Unless, of course, you look at it from the viewpoint that the “old testament” is the myths and history of a group of people, much like every other ancient group of people trying to explain the natural world without the benefit of modern science. The following is a great site for anyone looking for additional arguements in the whole validity of genesis/evolution. They have things there i never thought of (and they explain the laws of thermodynamics in simple terms and why it isn’t violated by evolution).

http://www.rice.edu/armadillo/Sciac[…]s/things.htm

Jim Harrison writes: “science and free speech do not go together. Perhaps no human institution puts more stringent controls on discourse than the sciences?imagine if you had to have your political ideas peer reviewed before you could publish them.”

I doubt many scientists anywhere would agree with this statement. In practice, science welcomes free speeach, and operates on the basis of consensus – consensus of the recognized experts at the top of the institutionally established heirarchy, in the particular branch of science concerned, to be more exact – and this is the only way that it could be. Even so, being human, scientists are not infallible. As one example, that has nothing to do with biology, look at the reception which the global warming establishment accorded Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg’s book The Skeptical Environmentalist. His book was panned in Nature and Science and savaged in Scientific American even though all the author did was to quote the fine print in the top research reports and make a rough cost-benefit analysis indicating that money spent in a fruitless attempt to bring about an inconsequential (less than 5%)reduction in global warming (based on the scientists own estimates!) could be better spent helping Third World countries cope with the changes that seem likely to occur in any event.

As Hume observed, our reason is a slave to our passions – a maxim from which not even the scientific community is always exempt.

Luke, you are presenting Lomborg’s book in a very nice light. Lomborg used bad statisitcs, and was very selective in his use of results, among other things, including misrepresenting sience and/or results. It’s not without reason that his french publisher has withhold publishing his book in French until all material have been verified.

Lomborg is a political hack, and unfortunately an influencal one.

Oh, and as a side note, I know Lomborg has been called a statistician by the media, but he actually holds a degree in Political Science. He has worked with statistics, but that doesn’t make him a statistician by Danish standards.

Like living things, science maintains itself far from equilibrium thanks to a series of mechanisms that actively protect it from the prevaling disorder of the environment. Without credentials and peer review and some degree of respect for precedent and consensus, it would be swamped by the Sea of Nonsense that is public discourse. It is perfectly true that the limitations on free speech built into the practice of science sometimes give rise to errors, much as the existence of an immune system makes autoimmune diseases possible. The wager is that the advantage of the system outweighs the disadvantage of its inevitable defects. I’m quite happy to make that particular bet.

Kristian, I read Lomborg’s book, and the chapter on global warming twice, with care; I also read the reviews in Nature, Science, and The Scientific American with care. All I can say is, if he was selective and or misrepresentative in his use of the data, his critics did not point out exactly where; the proportion of fulmination to ratiocination was alarmingly high, especially in Scientific American, which has done terrible damage to its reputation, at least in my mind, as a result of this episode.

Luike Lea said

“scientists are not infallible.”

Scientists would agree.

“As one example, that has nothing to do with biology, look at the reception which the global warming establishment accorded Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg’s book The Skeptical Environmentalist.”

What do a few bad book reviews have to do with the infallibility of scientists? Has Lomborg’s book subsequently been shown by some objective criteria to be a good book?

“Scientific American …has done terrible damage to its reputation, at least in my mind, as a result of this episode”

Has Scientific American’s reputation in fact been terribly damaged? The phrase “reputation, at least in my mind” is something of an oxymoron.

I recall a lot of debate about Lomborg’s book but am ignorant about the fallout.

Luke (or Luike, you’re spelling your name differently in two different posts, so I’m unsure what’s the right spelling), Lomborg’s critics are legion, and while some of them haven’t pointed out which part of his data is wrong, or used wrong, they have usually pointed out why his basic concept of the science is errorous. Other of his critcs have pointed out which data is wrong, and have done that since he wrote the orginal editorials in the Danish newspaper Politiken. Unfortunately the artticles/editorials pointing out the problems don’t seem to be online, but they were often written by his then-collegues of the University of Århus.

“I recall a lot of debate about Lomborg’s book but am ignorant about the fallout.”

Bert, in Denmark, his book was decided to be scientificly unsound, violating the basic principles of how science should be conducted and/or presented. That decision has now been overruled by the Ministry of Science (yes, we do have one such in Denmark), because they felt that the decision didn’t make it clear where Lomborg was unscientific. This makes some people claim that Lomborg has been cleared, but that’s not the case. The book will be reviewed again, and a new ruling will be published.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Hurd published on April 26, 2004 12:16 PM.

Creationists Explain Things: “Fossil Dating” was the previous entry in this blog.

KwickCode is Here is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter