The Mote in Casey Luskin’s Eye

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Pro-evolution Reigious Links from Law Evolution Science and Junk Science on January 24, 2005 8:59 PM

Intelligent design proponents, especially Phillip Johnson, Jonathan Witt, and William Dembski, claim that the evolution/intelligent design debate is nothing other than a clash between two worldviews: a dogmatic naturalist world view and a religious wor... Read More

Pro-evolution Religious Links from Law Evolution Science and Junk Science on January 25, 2005 1:45 PM

Intelligent design proponents, especially Phillip Johnson, Jonathan Witt, and William Dembski, claim that the evolution/intelligent design debate is nothing other than a clash between two worldviews: a dogmatic naturalist world view and a religious wor... Read More

35 Comments

Really now. As a “believer” in the theory of evolution I am prepared to admit that it could be proven, in part or whole, wrong. To me it is the only theory that the evidence supports so I assume it is fact until it is not. Certainly creationism has exactly no evidence to support it besides a work of historical fiction.

But the holocaust has nothing to do with theory, anymore than the existence of the Panda’s thumb. They just are. Comparing them to theory does everyone a disservice.

There is no ‘assuming’ that evolution is a fact, it has been exhaustively well established as a scientific certainty.

I don’t think any disservice was either intended nor committed. The point, to my understanding, is that both the deniers of the holocaust and the deniers of evolution are simply as wrong as wrong can possibly be. They are willfully disregarding the readily available facts in order to cling to a fools idea that has nothing to do with reality.

- PDQ

from Luskin’s rant

We chose to post this article because we see such accusations as a dangerous corner which has been turned in this debate—-not only because it mires the debate in more hateful comparisons which distract from discussions of the evidence

Or from discussions about the argumentative tactics used by creationist apologists and holocaust deniers, two groups of offensive and paranoid cranks who are oh so much smarter than all the ivory tower “experts”.

If only all of the scientists who agree that evolutionary theory is bogus weren’t frightened into silence by the politically correct Scientific Community!!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_denial

I feel left out.

We do not compromise history education for those who deny the Holocaust; why should we compromise biology education for those who deny evolution?

Of course, evolution deniers like Luskin think that their position is reasonable. Holocaust deniers feel the same way. What would be funny is to find a Holocaust denier who takes umbrage for being compared to an evolution denier.

Luskin’s just over-extending the analogy. One is a well-estabilished scientific theory and the other a historical fact. Obviously they aren’t entirely the same thing, and all analogy breaks down if you extend it far enough. Big shock there.

It is of course it needs to be clearly point out clearly that the comparison we are making between the evolution deniers and the Holocaust deniers is strictly a comparison on how they handle the evidence. We are not comparing evolution deniers stand for with real Nazis and neo-Nazis stand for. And of course even if we did (but we do not) as Ed points out they would be ranting that they getting a taste of their own medicine.

Anyone interested in the comparison between the methods of the evolution deniers and Holocaust deniers might look up Part 4 of Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe in Wierd Things which does a really good job on this. (I was bit disappointed with much of the rest of the book though.

And we need to point out the real reason for the similiarity: evolution denial is false and Holocaust denial is false. Both have no evidence in their favor. Thus it should be no surprise that advocates for both are pulling stunts in common with quackery of the worst order.

– Anti-spam: replace “user” with “harlequin2”

Mike Hopkins’s comments are wise. There are a few additional similarities between evolution denial and Holocaust denial, i.e. not only are they both false, they are both well-organized pseudoscience, complete with societies, journals, and vague, reasonable-sounding positions on the surface for public view, with the ludicrous stuff usually only put on view before friendly audiences.

These additional considerations are a major reason that Holocaust denial (or Holocaust “revisionism”, as the proponents misleadingly name it) gets broad into discussions of intelligent design. There aren’t that many well-organized pseudosciences to choose from.

All things considered, though, HIV-AIDS denial is a much better analogy for ID than Holocaust denial. It’s somewhat less organized, but (a) is a biological topic, (b) has Phillip Johnson as a major early proponent and (c) doesn’t carry the racism baggage that Holocaust denial does. I explore this a little more in this comment on the previous ID/Holocaust/HIV thread over here.

On the other hand, this language seems eerily familiar:

Even though [Institute] books and [Institute] articles have consistently dealt with a broad range of [field] topics, the best-known and most controversial aspect of the Institute’s work has been its treatment of the [issue] issue.

Although the Institute does not “deny [issue],” over the years it has published detailed books and numerous probing essays that call into question aspects of the orthodox [issue] story. [Institute] publications have devoted considerable attention to this issue because it plays such an enormously significant role in the cultural and political life of America and much of the world.

Opponents of the [Institute], in their efforts to discredit and marginalize us, routinely mischaracterize the Institute as a “[issue] denial” organization. This smear is completely at variance with the facts.

Let’s be crystal clear about this Casey: I didn’t compare the Holocaust to Creationism. I didn’t compare Nazis and Intelligent Design Creationists to one another. Although, as IDCists have certainly gone on record doing the reverse to evolutionary biologists, you don’t have a leg to stand on in complaining about that, had I indeed done as you imply in your conflated version.

But in point of fact, I compared The Tactics Used By Holocaust Deniers to the tactics used by IDCist evolution deniers, and that symmetry is about as good as it gets. If that’s an uncomfortably close match in your view, I suggest you’d be better served by having a chat with some of your IDC peers about those tactics, or perhaps review your own role in facilitating those individuals, instead of contriving a strawman to take the heat off of their duplicity.

~DS~

CC: Panda’s Thumb

Maybe it would have been less incendiary to compare these same tactics (they are generic) as used by those who deny the Apollo program ever put a man on the moon, or by those who claim the Federal Reserve is owned by foreign interests, or any of the other more popular conspiratorial fantasies? The moral of the exercise would be the same: That people are convinced of what they prefer to believe, and rationalize it as required. When reality and belief conflict, reality loses every time.

Intelligent Design only wishes it were as respectable as Holocaust Denial.

If Creationists and like-minded individuals continue to use tactics alike to those used by Holocaust Deniers, then they get to be painted with the same brush, as far as the tactics are concerned. I certainly don’t think anyone is saying being a Creationist is the moral equivalent of being a Holocaust Denier.

That being said, pseudo-science is pseudo-science. If similar tactics are used, then I think it’s perfectly reasonable to point similarities between Holocaust Denial and pseudo-scientific Creationism.

If Creationista and IDers don’t want that comparison, then the easy solution is to alter their tactics. Of course, abandoning those tactics will leave them with nothing to say, and will expose to their less-informed supporters that the whole thing is empty rhetoric. That’s the price of propping up a bankrupt world view.

I don’t know Casey, I don’t know anything about him. For all I know he’s a perfectly charming individual, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until he signals otherwise. I don’t know what was going thorugh his head in writing that. He may have managed to work himself up into a lather that we were calling him a GODAMN NAZI JEW KILLER for all I know, or he may have been just looking for something to write and had to force himself to be interested in it.

But it’s obviously been through a distortion and conflation subroutine to go from what we’ve been talking about, and what he seems to feel we’ve been saying. I’d say part of the reason Casey didn’t give a shit about accurately portraying how Holocaust deniers have been used to draw parallels to evolution skeptics, was because it didn’t serve his advertising needs nearly so well, so he changed it. To us, it’s patently dishonest to rearrange and substitute the principle elements in another’s carefully detailed analogy to the point that it doesn’t even mean the same thing and is now repellent, whip that up with some more emotion, and vomit it back to the public, to paint the opposing position as despicable. That’s pretty ugly. But in advertising that’s totally fair.

Anyone is entitled to write what they want to write. I’m sure we’d all agree with that. It’s more useful to me to think of the modern IDC campaign as precisely that, a campaign. It’s obviously not limited to scientific convention in anyway. It’s tag lines, buzzwords, appeals to emotion and bias; PR tactics, just like a commercial campaign for a product, and the guys who are the advertising executives/designers are folks from places like the DI. They aren’t operating under the conventions of science, at all.

They’re operating under the industry format of a firm hired by PepsiCo to advertise and market Pepsi. That firm is not going to provide accurate, scientific, information for consumers, in the hopes that potential customers are going to do a careful side by side comparison of Pepsi and Coca-Cola. They’re going to show a couple of sets of highly augmented Swedish Twins wearing a slick coat of tanning oil playing volleyball wearing translucent Pepsi T-shirts to puch deep emotional buttons. And that firm won’t think of what they’re doing as lying, they won’t think of themselves as liars, even though they’re fully aware that they’re doing anything they can to present their product in the best light possible, the facts be damned.

We think of what the DI does as lying, I think one of the ways they justify it to themselves, because sooner or later there will be things they decide on as a group to do, which doesn’t line up precisely with what one or two of them may personally believe, is they think of it like a job, like advertising, like lobbying, or marketing.

I’m sure most of them believe in what they’re doing, more or less. But when they go into spin mode, like Casey did with that Holocaust response, they know they’re cooking the books. But the thing is, they’re not even talking to us, they’re using something we said or wrote as impetus to generate an ad to reach customers with. It might have one of our names on it or an idea some of us have been reading and talking about, and it will look like they’re talking to us all right. But they’re not, they’re advertising to their customers and they just happen to have designed an ad around something one of us said or read.

In this case the campaign is using another technique you see more and more in the mainstream, on blogs, on talk shows, which is to present critics and opponents of socially conservative politics as ‘ over the top accusations from wild-eyed liberal ideologues raving about Nazism or Fascism who are so horrid, they’ll even compare us decent God fearing seekers of truth and protector of The Lord to the most evil vicious thugs of all time, because these liberal freaks have no decency, none at all, HELP! HELP! we’re being persecuted!’. I doubt accuracy plays much into that ‘Intelligent Design’.

I wrote the following email to Mr. Casey:

I read your article “Holiday Truce Survivor Speaks out” with interest.

I refer you though to the recent Touchstone Magazine issue devoted to intelligent design.

The magazine had the following quotes:

First it had a picture of an Auschwitz cremation chamber right next to the title, “Darwinism and the rise of German Eugenics” on page 32. The remainder of the article links evolution to Nazism on pages 32 through 37.

Jonathan Witt again referred to Darwinism as “God of the nazis” at pages 25 and 26.

And the ever consistent Phillip E. Johnson observed the Goebbels would be proud” of science’s propaganda machine. Page 12 same issue.

Please ask Ms. Hillman what she thinks of the propriety of such comments. As a matter of fact, I await your own unqualified rejection of these comments.

Very truly yours

Joseph R. McFaul

Perhaps it is proper to point to www.talkreason.org/articles/eandp.cfm . In that post, many examples of ID-ists using comparisons of their opponents with Nazis, Soviet communists, Lysenko, Salem judges, etc, are assembled. In view of this, Luskin’s whining sounds not only ridiculous but really appaling. The likes of Luskin need to look at mirrors more often.

Mark Perakh wrote:

> Perhaps it is proper to point to www.talkreason.org/articles/eandp.cfm . In that post, many examples > of ID-ists using comparisons of their opponents with Nazis, Soviet communists, Lysenko, Salem judges, etc, are assembled. In > view of this, Luskin’s whining sounds not only ridiculous but really appaling. The likes of Luskin need to look at mirrors more > often.

That’s alright, because he’s doing it for God. Lying for God is perfectly acceptable. Violating the commandment against bearing false witness would normally be bad, but because evolution is just a nasty Satanically-inspired atheistic bit of propaganda meant to turn children away from God and make them into Devil worshipers, that prohibition can be temporarily lifted.

The link to a post on TR in my comment 12724 does not work (although it looks perfecly correct and the post is there all right). Here it is once again: www.talkreason.org/articles/eandp.cfm .

It still does not open the post, I have no idea why. Perhaps because http must be included? Again: http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandp.cfm

That is a really, really, good piece Mark. I think it’s deserves at least two opposable primate digits up.

It’s still dead. Let me try this, Mark: ID’s use of Nazi & Soviet analogies.

Yup, that works for me.

RBH

Thank, RBH. It works though with http included.

Salvador, please look up my comment posted today to Elsbery’s contribution of September 22, 2004. I posted in in that thread by mistake (I saw there a comment by Gourant of today and added my comment without checking which thread it appeared in). Gourant has admitted there that he had confused you with Alonso and apologized and for unknown reasons posted it in Elsberry’s old thread. Mark Perakh

The latest AP report on this continues the holocaust analogy. Here’s the quote from Witold Walczak, the ACLU lawyer.

“The parallel I would draw would be, if a social-studies teacher teaching World War II would talk about the Holocaust and make a statement - just a couple paragraphs - that there are gaps in the historical records of the Holocaust, and you should know an alternative theory that the Holocaust never happened,” he said.

This is just a negative association tactic, designed to raise emotions, instead of letting people think about the issue.

Here’s the link:

http://www.centredaily.com/mld/cent[…]10573245.htm

This is just a negative association tactic, designed to raise emotions, instead of letting people think about the issue.

Okay, but which one is getting the rough end of the analogy?

http://www.ideacenter.org/resources/links.php

Left-handed DNA helix at top of site. Drives me nuts.

And don’t me tell it’s Z-DNA.

Sorwell:

Anti-evolutionists call macroevolution “just a theory.” There is an essential distinction between the phenomenon of macroevolution and the theory of evolution. A scientific theory is a well-supported and useful general explanation or organizing principle as exemplified by the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, and the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution refers to the mechanisms, such as mutation, competition, and population isolation that cause evolution. Macroevolution itself is a scientific fact, not a theory in any sense of the word. Because of overwhelming evidence, such as the fossil record found in the geologic column, comparative anatomy, and the distribution of species, almost all professional biologists accept the phenomenon of macroevolution with the same confidence that they accept heliocentrism. Scientific facts are not absolute truth. They are accepted beyond a reasonable doubt by a near consensus of scientists, but by definition are tentative. It is a scientific fact that if you let go of a pencil, it will fall toward the center of the Earth, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that it will fly into space.

I know how to settle this one. It’s a usenet rule that evolved naturally (pun intended) to end discussions that have devolved into pathetic flame wars. The first person to bring a comparison to Nazis into the argument automatically loses. A related truism is that all usenet arguments that go on long enough will eventually have one side comparing the other to Nazis.

So which side was the first to bring the Nazis into it?

By the way, evolution through undirected means is hardly proven or even suppoted. There is no way to support the notion that there was no intelligent direction. It’s simply taken (or not) AS A GIVEN that everything in the universe has an unintelligent cause (except things designed by humans of course). All you may do is demonstrate that an unintelligent cause is possible. You can never demonstrate an intelligent cause is impossible.

My big gripe with this notion of everything having an unintelligent cause is that it is self-contradictory. If human intelligence arose through unintelligent mechanisms then intelligence is itself a natural consequence of unintelligence thus an intelligent cause is as natural as an unintelligent cause. The whole shootin’ match then becomes one of a presupposition that humans are the only natural arising intelligence in the universe. Given the size and age of the universe, given that dark matter composes some large fraction of all matter and we don’t even know what dark matter is, I find it intellectually repulsive and downright arrogant to presuppose that humanity is the first intelligence on the scene. Maybe it is but that’s certainly not well supported by any evidence. Lack of evidence is all that supports that supposition.

DaveScot,

“If human intelligence arose through unintelligent mechanisms then intelligence is itself a natural consequence of unintelligence thus an intelligent cause is as natural as an unintelligent cause. The whole shootin’ match then becomes one of a presupposition that humans are the only natural arising intelligence in the universe.”

Huh? Given the posible uniqueness of Earth - read Rare Earth by Ward and Brownlee - human level intelligence might not have been duplicated elsewhere in the universe. It’s also possible that it’s ubiquitous.

Could you translate YOUR statement.

DaveScot

By the way, evolution through undirected means is hardly proven or even suppoted.

All the data in biology supports it. And scientific theories are not proven.

There is no way to support the notion that there was no intelligent direction.

True. And the ToE doesn’t attempt to do that.

It’s simply taken (or not) AS A GIVEN that everything in the universe has an unintelligent cause (except things designed by humans of course).

Both true and false: we know of other ‘intelligent’ designers (beavers, ants, birds, other apes); we simply have no evidence of intelligent designers in the time and place postulated by the various ID advocates. Without such evidence, an ‘intelligent’ designer is such a low-probability hypothesis that it is generally discarded. Find the evidence and win the Nobel Prize. It’s that easy.

All you may do is demonstrate that an unintelligent cause is possible. You can never demonstrate an intelligent cause is impossible.

Exactly. Congratulations for pointing out that ID is inherently unfalsifiable, and consequently lousy science. How perceptive of you.

My big gripe with this notion of everything having an unintelligent cause is that it is self-contradictory. If human intelligence arose through unintelligent mechanisms then intelligence is itself a natural consequence of unintelligence thus an intelligent cause is as natural as an unintelligent cause. The whole shootin’ match then becomes one of a presupposition that humans are the only natural arising intelligence in the universe. Given the size and age of the universe, given that dark matter composes some large fraction of all matter and we don’t even know what dark matter is, I find it intellectually repulsive and downright arrogant to presuppose that humanity is the first intelligence on the scene.

Your choice, of course. Do you have any evidence of other intelligence operating out there? Positive evidence? Didn’t think so.…

Maybe it is but that’s certainly not well supported by any evidence. Lack of evidence is all that supports that supposition.

You don’t do real science, do you. How could there be positive evidence of a negative?

We have no evidence that other intelligent species exist; therefore it is rational to operate on the basis that they don’t. IF SETI were to find some evidence, the question would be reconsidered. Unfortunately, the simple existence of another species doesn’t help the ID cause very much unless it can be demonstrated that the other species was present at the key moments in biological history.

Davescott asks:

“So which side was the first to bring the Nazis into it?”

I nominate:

Bergman, J., Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust, CEN Technical Journal 13(2):101–111, 1999.

and

http://www.answersingenesis.org/cre[…]olocaust.asp

and

http://www.soulcare.org/Creation/Evolution.html

I didn’t bother to re-read Darwin on trial but I remeber pasasages in that book as well. I could be wrong.

Anyone who has read Evens 2001 and Lipstadt 1994 will be struck by the close parallels between the tactics of intelligent design creationists (and their other creationist associates) and holocaust deniers. This may be a common case for fringe groups- a distorted reflection of normal scientific and scholarly discourse and behavior.

What I found outragous was Luskin’s exploitation of an old woman who had survived the Nazi death camps to promote his own political agenda. Luskin embodies the slogan, “Admit nothing, Deny everything, Make counter accusations.”

Evans, Richard J. 2001 Lying about Hitler New York:Basic Books.

Lipstadt, Deborah 1994 Denying the Holocaust (New York: Plume pb edition)

DaveScot Wrote:

So which side was the first to bring the Nazis into it?

Joe McFaul Wrote:

I nominate: Bergman, J., Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust, CEN Technical Journal 13(2):101–111, 1999.

We can do better than that. We have Paul G. Humber’s “The Ascent of Racism” in IMPACT no. 164, dated February 1987 from the Institute for Creation Research. Doubtless there are even earlier examples, but you get the point: the Creationists started this practice long ago …

The first person to bring a comparison to Nazis into the argument automatically loses. A related truism is that all usenet arguments that go on long enough will eventually have one side comparing the other to Nazis.

Well I guess your side loses since anti-evolutionists have along history comparing evolution to “Hitlerism” (to use a bushism). On the other hand, I don’t know of any one who compares anti-evolutionism to “Hitlerism.”

Regarding DaveScot’s post:

“ .. which side was the first .. “ it’s rare to get agreement on who started a quarrel and people will seldom allow the facts to get in the way of their interests. With our kids we were sometimes reduced to saying, I don’t care who started it, I’m finishing it, now. If only.

People often won’t even agree on what they can agree on. Doesn’t appear to be any serious dialogue on this between creationists and evolutionists. Although a professed Christian myself (theistic evolutionist cap seems to fit) I’ve got to confess to being incapable of understanding the argument that all the relevant facts are written down in Genesis and there is no need to look further. Still, there must be some other points in common.

[Apologies if this is a parody of the creationist argument (and in this format it does look uncomfortably like the remarks attributed to the Caliph Omar outside Alexandria) but if it’s wrong perhaps a real creationist could put me right.]

We are free to speculate on intelligence elsewhere in the universe. Even as I type this, the facultatively intelligent slime moulds of Titan may be plotting to get their retaliation in first. Or they might not. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence one way or another as regards life let alone intelligent life elsewhere.

Might be a different story later this month, although I’m prepared for more disappointment.

I previously posted on “who mentioned the Nazis [or Hitler] first.” Well, here’s an example from forty years ago:

“The racism and militarism of Hitler and Mussolini were in large measure built upon the philosophical base established in the 19th century by Friedrich Nietzche and Ernst Haeckel, both of whom were rabid promulgators of Darwinism among human societies.” (Henry M. Morris, The Twilight of Evolution, Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House 1964, p.18)

Needless to say, Morris is a Creationist, and clearly seeks to tie in evolution with Nazi Germany.

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on January 4, 2005 8:00 PM.

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