A Study in ID Duplicity

| 72 Comments

On April 26, William Dembski posted this brief essay on his blog. He was responding to allegations that ID proponents routinely quote scientists out of context in making their case.

In his blog entry Dembski focusses on one particular example of this charge. In an essay entitled Five Questions Darwinists Would Rather Dodge (PDF format), posted at his website in April of 2004, Dembski had quoted paleontologist Peter Ward to the effect that the Cambrian explosion poses a serious problem for evolutionary theory.

Shortly after Dembski's essay was posted online, Gary Hurd and Dave Mullinex posted a detailed reply to Dembski's remarks about the Cambrian explosion. Among other criticisms, Hurd and Mullinex claimed that Dembski had misrepresented Ward's writing. It was this assertion that Dembski was addressing in the blog entry mentioned above.

For me this provided an interesting opportunity. Prior to preapring this blog entry, I had read neither Dembski's original essay nor the reply by Hurd and Mullinex. And I had never heard of Peter Ward. Consequently, I was able to look into this dispute without any preconceived notions. I knew the facts of the situation would be easy enough to obtain, and they would allow me to see for myself whether it was Dembski, or his critics, who were giving me the straight story.

I have posted my findings in this lengthy entry over at EvolutionBlog. You'll never guess what I found!

72 Comments

At the 2003 hearings before the Texas State Board of Education, one long-time biology teacher from Austin put the monkey on the back of ID advocates. Steve Bratteng, who was teaching then at Austin’s Westwood High School, posed 13 questions he said ID cannot answer, but which can be answered nicely by evolution.

So we’ll see Dembski’s five and raise him eight.

No IDer has ever proposed a non-evolution answer for any of the questions.

The questions are:

1. Why does giving vitamin and mineral supplements to undernourished, anemic individuals cause so many to die of bacterial infections? 2. Why did Dr. Heimlich have to develop a maneuver to dislodge food from peoples’ windpipes? 3. Why does each of your eyes have a blind spot and a strong tendency toward retinal detachment, but a squid, whose eyesight is just as sharp, does not have these flaws? 4. Why are depression and obesity at epidemic levels in the U.S.? 5. When Europeans came to the Americas why did 90% of the native Americans die of European diseases, but not many Europeans died of American disease? 6. Why do pregnant women get morning sickness? 7. Why do people in a country that becomes industrialized develop a greater tendency to get Crohn’s disease and asthma? 8. Why does malaria still kill over a million people each year? 9. Why are so many of the product, “Depends,” sold each year? 10. Why do people given anti-diarrheal medication take twice as long to recovery from dysentery as untreated ones? 11. Why do people of European descent have a fairly high frequency of an allele that can make them resistant to HIV infection? 12. Why do older men often have urinary problems? 13. Why do so many people in Austin get “cedar fever?”

These are real questions of science. They have real consequences to the health and welfare of millions of people. And ID can’t shed light on any of them.

FYI.

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I had spoken with Peter Ward for about an hour or so when he came to give a couple of talks at the University of Hawaii, back in ‘99 or was it 2000?

Anyway, I’m pretty sure Peter mentioned he was atheist.

Dumbski doesn’t do his homework.

Disclaimer:

Dumbski doesn’t do his homework.

isn’t “clever beyond measure”.

;-)

Dembski’s dishonesty isn’t supposed to stand up to scrutiny. It is supposed to impress and recruit the dogmatic to his cause! His prose is seductive and comprehensible to even the dullest of laymen. Scientists and skeptics worth their salt are far too suspicious of Dembski to take him at face value, just a little legitimate digging uncovers his putrid nest of intellectual dishonesty, but if you’re a certain kind of person, his bull rings a particularly attractive chord.

Ed, it’s because an unspecified supernatural deity decided to make things that way using an unspecified mechanism for unspecified reasons. That’s the beauty of Intelligent Design Theory–it’s so vaugue, it can accomodate anything.

But, I’m curious, what are the actual answers to 1 and 4?

Here’s a fun experiment you can try when Dembski “responds” to one of his critics, assuming you haven’t yet read what he’s responding to. Go and read Dembski’s response first. Then form a mental picture of what the criticism must look like based on this response. Try to guess not only on what basis Dembski is being criticized, but also the general tone and demeanor of the criticism. Then go back and read the original criticism for the first time. Try to see whether or not it has much relationship to the mental picture you formed based on Dembski’s response. You’ll find it almost never does.

I’ve come to the conclusion that when Dembski writes his responses, the intended audience is not the critics to whom he is responding. Rather, it’s his fans who can be safely counted on not to have read to read the orginal criticisms.

When religion presumes to make statements about the natural world, it necessarily steps into the territory of science. Within this territory, religion is at a terrible disadvantage, resolvable in only two ways I’ve seen so far. The first is to interpret the religious statements to be either neutral or in support of science, which renders such statements superfluous. The second is to make false statements about scientific findings, requiring that such statements be dishonest. Choosing between having your faith be irrelevant of dishonest is a form of Hobson’s Choice.

I suspect Dembski resolves this little difficulty by simply refusing to recognize that he’s being dishonest. He gives consistent indication of being sufficient deluded to pull this off. As HPLC_Sean points out, his target audience really doesn’t care whether he’s insane or just mendacious. Nothing is so reasonable as a shared prejudice.

Kind of interesting that Dembski would lie, get called on it directly and in detail, and respond simply by repeating the same lie. Apparently for the Devout, lies become true if they WANT them to be true hard enough. Imagine if Dembski’s God actually existed and required honesty. Dembski would be struck dumb, probably permanently.

Aureola writes:”Disclaimer:

Dumbski doesn’t do his homework.

… isn’t “clever beyond measure”.

;-) “

Gee, like I was trying to be “real deep” with that.

And no, the man does do his homework. He’s a lazy ass, as could damn well have contacted Peter Ward and asked Ward what precisely he was talking about.

A careful researcher would’ve done that.

Dumbski is a slob with data and research.

Aureola writes:”Disclaimer:

Dumbski doesn’t do his homework.

… isn’t “clever beyond measure”.

;-) “

Gee, like I was trying to be “real deep” with that.

And no, the man does not do his homework. He’s a lazy ass, as could damn well have contacted Peter Ward and asked Ward what precisely he was talking about.

A careful researcher would’ve done that.

Dumbski is a slob with data and research.

Dembski’s dishonesty isn’t supposed to stand up to scrutiny. It is supposed to impress and recruit the dogmatic to his cause!

This point should be taken seriously. It is a mistake to imagine that Dembski and company are trying to create an ID science. They are creating Science-Flavored Creationism. It is possible that Behe and Dembski originally thought they could do it, but now they know they can’t, hence Dembski’s “disenchanted” remark.

Off topic—anyone see the article Evolutionary war (Boston Globe, 2005-05-01)?

Summary:

In the ongoing struggle between evolution and creationism, says philosopher of science Michael Ruse, Darwinians may be their own worst enemy

Excerpt:

Ruse, a philosopher of science at Florida State University, occupies a distinct position in the heated debates about evolution and creationism. He is both a staunch supporter of evolution and an ardent critic of scientists who he thinks have hurt the cause by habitually stepping outside the bounds of science into social theory. In his latest book, “The Evolution-Creation Struggle,” published by Harvard University Press later this month, Ruse elaborates on a theme he has been developing in a career dating back to the 1960s: Evolution is controversial in large part, he theorizes, because its supporters have often presented it as the basis for self-sufficient philosophies of progress and materialism, which invariably wind up in competition with religion.

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“But, I’m curious, what are the actual answers to 1 and 4?”

actually, it would be a good idea to include a link in the original post where folks could check out what evolutionary theory’s answers are to the questions listed. otherwise, a rather large point is lost.

cheers

” Science-Flavored Creationism”

mmmm. does that come with sprinkles?

Malkuth: The answer on #1 is that people with bacterial infections go anemic because their livers concentrate iron and other nutrients to starve the bacteria – it’s an evolved response to infection. When a supplement is given, in that case, the supplement goes directly to nourish the pathogenic bacteria. This is one of those cases where physicians can kill patients if they don’t pay attention to the evolutionary origins of the syndrome or disease symptoms.

#4 involves changes in lifestyles for which we have not yet evolved appropriate responses, particularly to those changes in diet after agriculture became established. Anxiety and depression are correlate diwth increased crowding and the pace of living today, comopared with ancient times. Obesity tends to result from our greatly increased use of sugar and refined grains, which our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have access to. They developed genes that store fat from such meals for future use when sugars aren’t available, for example – but in the U.S., sugars are always available, and the fat doesn’t get burned off.

You can find Mr. Bratteng’s list online, by the way, with his written testimony and a handout on “Darwinian Medicine,” in the transcripts of the TEA hearing: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/textbook[…]handouts.pdf Go to pages 61 through 65.

One of the reasons I liked this list when I heard it at the hearings was because I couldn’t answer all of them easily. Bratteng, the guy who created the list, was happy to share it and talk about each of the issues in detail.

I had spoken and corresponded earlier with Randolph Nesse at the University of Michigan, who has had published a couple of articles about how vital is knowledge of evolution to the successful practice of modern medicine. I recommend Nesse’s stuff to anyone interested in making a case.

In real-life application of practical Darwinian evolution, my experience is that ID people have no answers at all. We got some traction – not as much as I had hoped, mind you – from the reminder that Texas loses $1.2 billion a year in fire-ant damage, and the solution to eradication of fire ants is an evolutionary problem. Same with the cotton boll weevil. And our red grapefruit industry is based on a species that did not exist about 200 years ago, for which a sport mutation in the 1940s has given a redder, sweeter variety. We’re talking big jobs here. I suspect every state has similar stories, and we should hawk them.

Salvador Wrote:

t is fair to say that Ward defends evoluionary theory, but the supposedly out of context quote by Dembski is a more accurate description of the physical evidence as it stands today.

Present your evidence. In fact the evidence that shows how several phyla extend into the pre-Cambrian is quite solid. Nevertheless, whether or not this is correct, Dembski’s ‘use’ of Ward’s quote seems inexcusable. That Sal quotes the work by Meyer is unfortunate since Valentine’s position is hardly supportive of Meyer or Sal’s position. Another great example of selective quoting to present a picture which can not be maintained once reading the work on the Cambrian in its proper context. Seems ID is once again based on incomplete presentation of data, or better know ‘a gap argument’.

Has Sal read the papers he quotes from? Has Sal read Valentine’s work? Can Sal represent the evidence of evolution of phyla? Or is ID once again committed to ignoring the evidence?

Yes, please provide a link for all 13 questions! These look very interesting.

Malkuth: The answer on #1 is that people with bacterial infections go anemic because their livers concentrate iron and other nutrients to starve the bacteria – it’s an evolved response to infection. When a supplement is given, in that case, the supplement goes directly to nourish the pathogenic bacteria. This is one of those cases where physicians can kill patients if they don’t pay attention to the evolutionary origins of the syndrome or disease symptoms.

#4 involves changes in lifestyles for which we have not yet evolved appropriate responses, particularly to those changes in diet after agriculture became established. Anxiety and depression are correlate diwth increased crowding and the pace of living today, comopared with ancient times. Obesity tends to result from our greatly increased use of sugar and refined grains, which our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have access to. They developed genes that store fat from such meals for future use when sugars aren’t available, for example – but in the U.S., sugars are always available, and the fat doesn’t get burned off.

You can find Mr. Bratteng’s list online, by the way, with his written testimony and a handout on “Darwinian Medicine,” in the transcripts of the TEA hearing: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/textbook[…]handouts.pdf

Go to pages 61 through 65.

One of the reasons I liked this list when I heard it at the hearings was because I couldn’t answer all of them easily. Bratteng, the guy who created the list, was happy to share it and talk about each of the issues in detail.

I had spoken and corresponded earlier with Randolph Nesse at the University of Michigan, who has had published a couple of articles about how vital is knowledge of evolution to the successful practice of modern medicine. I recommend Nesse’s stuff to anyone interested in making a case.

In real-life application of practical Darwinian evolution, my experience is that ID people have no answers at all. We got some traction – not as much as I had hoped, mind you – from the reminder that Texas loses $1.2 billion a year in fire-ant damage, and the solution to eradication of fire ants is an evolutionary problem. Same with the cotton boll weevil. And our red grapefruit industry is based on a species that did not exist about 200 years ago, for which a sport mutation in the 1940s has given a redder, sweeter variety. We’re talking big jobs here. I suspect every state has similar stories, and we should hawk them.

(Don’t know why this didn’t post when I sent it the first time, a couple of hours ago)

[ot]I have to apparently post a “bump” to get the thread to update for me.

plz ignore.

Salvador-

My understanding of the situation is that there are some clear transitional forms linking Precambrian organisms to those in the Cambrian, but that is beside the point for the purposes of my post. If Dembski wants to argue that Ward is all mixed up about the interpretation of the fossil data then he is free to do so.

What Dembski actually did, however, was to use a quotation from Ward to support the idea that the Cambrain explosion is a fundamental problem for evolutionists. Ward was completely unambiguous in his book that actually he believes the fossil evidence of Cambiran to be a vindication of Darwin. It is possible that Dembski did not realize that fact in his initial essay (perhaps someone else simply fed him the quote and he didn’t bother to check it out). But for him to persist with it after his error was pointed out to him is manifest dishonesty.

You might also recall that in your recent ID presentation here at James Madison Univ, I was the one who took issue with your use of Woese’s statement. Woese believes (with good reason) that lateral gene transfer was such a major driving force during the earliest stages of evolution that it becomes impossible to talk about a single, universal common ancestor. If he’s right, that is indeed an important revision of classical theory. But it has absolutely nothing to do with evolution/ID disputes. Woese has no problem with the idea that all vertebrates, say, share a common ancestor. You may believe in your heart that you represented Woese accurately, but in fact you did not represent him accurately.

Just as a technical point of clarification, my understanding is that the soft bodied fossils found in “Vendian biota” or “Ediacara fauna.” (see Vendian Animals) are not transitional to any of the skeletal fossils. The claim skeletal fossils appear suddenly is still true in that sense.

How dreadful.

Is it just a coincidence that the ID “Cambrian explosion disproves evolution” argument is the very same one used by YECers decades ago, including Gish and Morris?

Or is ID just an, uh, evolved version of creation “science” . …

Hey Dr Cordova:

Last time you were here, you ran away without answering some simple questions for me. Would you like to answer them now?

They were:

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design (whatever it is), how old is the earth, and are humans descended from apelike primates?

3. Why, specifically, is “evolution” any more “materialist” than is weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine?

4. Do you repudiate the extremist views of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture’s primary funder, Howard Ahmanson? And if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway?

Salvador

However, some have objected to my use of that quotation, and to which I acknowledged that I could be wrong in my assessment, and simply referred everyone to the original source text to decide for themselves and am happy to direct them to complaints about how I characterize Woese.

And I respect your inability to admit telling a lie. Jesus forbade such admissions, as you’ve told us before. Your devotion to Jesus above all else requires you to adhere to the commandments as described to you by your chosen preachers.

It is fair to say that Ward defends evoluionary theory

It is more than fair. That is a fact that honest people can not dispute Salvador. But I respect your intense inability to acknowledge that your hero is a well-known and willful liar.

but the supposedly out of context quote by Dembski is a more accurate description of the physical evidence as it stands today.

If Dembski was interested in accurately describing the physical evidence, he could have described it himself rather than quote Ward out of context.

But Salvador, I respect your intense desire to keep lying on behalf of your deity. You sincerely believe that by lying as you do that you are encouraging more people to worship your deity.

However, I feel certain that your habitual lying is not going to have its desired effect, Salvador.

What I would really like to know is: where are these li’l converts you keep bragging about? I keep waiting for some fresh young ones to come here to defend you. I suspect that you are probably lying about their existence, or perhaps you have told them lies about how “unfairly” they will be treated if they post here. Or maybe you simply demanded that they not post here and, like you, their primary skill is playing Follow the Dear Leader.

We’re all waiting anxiously for some new ideas, Salvador. The old “intelligent design” garbage is starting to stink up the place. Perhaps you are aware of some exciting new research proving that mysterious alien beings are manipulating our planet? Do tell, Salvador!!!

No, Lenny, it’s a designed version of creationism – designed to succeed in the American courts.

Fortunately, it seems not to have been an *intelligently* designed version…

Sal writes “Just as a technical point of clarification, my understanding.…..,” Good work Salvador. You are primed up to get started on an introductory course on pre-Cambrian organisms. And when you are done you could spend some time explaining to Bill that he must read thru the entire article before quoting snippets. Because scientists unlike town criers do real research and publish. I went thru that other puff piece from Bill better named as “Dodging the toughest questions about ID” (written about a year ago) where I still can’t believe that Bill refers to an ‘article’ by Rich Halvorson in the “Harvard Crimson”. I wonder what happened to all those PhDs and Masters’ degrees.

Salvador’s quotation of Meyer:

And, indeed, in almost all cases, the Cambrian animals have no clear morphological antecedents in earlier Vendian or Precambrian fauna (Miklos 1993, Erwin et al. 1997:132, Steiner & Reitner 2001, Conway Morris 2003b:510, Valentine et al. 2003:519-520). (Emphasis added)

Key word: “morphological”. See some of the recent work on molecular divergence well before the Cambrian. Meyer should read here and here, for examples. Moreover Procrustacea are Precambrian, as are other bilateria:

Estimations of the divergence times show that the major bilaterian phyla did not originate in an explosive radiation during the Cambrian but rather that the Bilateria have a several hundred million years long Precambrian history.

Meyer is not a real reliable source.

RBH

Ah, Salvador. Wannabe hierophant, real-life sycophant.

by the way, “Hiero5ant”, what are you trying to convey with that name? 5 is a replacement for S, it does not replace the “f” sound, in 1337-speak. So why are you trying to say “hierosant”?

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Salvador-

I’m afraid there is simply no question that Dembski is being duplicitous in his continued use of the Ward quotation. Ward makes his opinion about the Cambrian explosion perfectly clear in his book: He believes that the most recent fossil discoveries show it to be a non-issue for evolution. Dembski used his out-of-context quotation to imply that Ward thinks the Cambrian explosion is actually a serious problem for evolutionists. Because of Gary Hurd’s piece, which we know Dembski read, Dembski is now aware of Ward’s views on the subject. Yet he persists in stating that Ward was criticizing evolution. The facts are clear. The truth means nothing to Dembski.

I can understand why you have difficulty coming to that conclusion, given that you said during your talk here at JMU that you felt that Dembski was currently doing the best ID work out there. As I recall, I replied that for me Dembski’s went a long way to convincing me that ID was a lot of nonsense - I didn’t know much biology at the time I first encountered Dembski’s work, but I certainly knew a bad mathematical argument when I saw one.

Likewise, Carl Woese’s statement that we must move beyond the doctrine of common descent was completely unambiguous in context. He was talking specifically about the very earliest stages of evolution, and he was saying simply that the reality of horizontal gene transfer makes it impossible to talk about a single organism that is the universal common ancestor to all living forms today. This requires some rethinking of our ideas about early evolution, but has nothing at all to do with invoking supernatural mechanisms. Quite the contrary.

In fact, if Woese is right, then his work is a serious blow for ID for two reasons. First, horizontal gene transfer is yet another naturalistic mechanism by which genomic complexity can increase. Second, the fact that its importance was not realized until recently shows that the possibility of undiscovered naturalistic mechanisms is very real, and not something ID’s can dismiss as desperation.

Now, if you think Woese has simply shifted the problems elsewhere, as you said in your comment, then you are free to make that case in your public presentations. What you are not free to do is present Woese’s “move beyond common descent” remark as if he is saying anything that is helpful to ID. But that is precisely what you did do in your talk. When you used this quote in your talk you said nothing about early evolution, or cellular architecture, or shifting the problems elsewhere. You simply quoted the remark and asked people to believe that this was a prominent biologist who was dissing evolution.

You’ve been very gracious to me in your public talks in allowing me to speak without trying to cut me off or put me down in any way. I appreciate that. And for what it’s worth, I think some of the commenters in this thread are being very unfair. Unlike Dembski, I do not believe you are being deliberately dishonest. And I do not believe that you are motivated by anything other than sincere belief.

But the fact remains that you are saying many things at these talks that are simply false. For example, it is not a matter of interpretation to say that Carl Woese is suggesting that evolution is in trouble. It is a simple matter of fact that he is not suggesting that.

And I’m really not interested in how many bio majors you can claim for your side, or whether you can, after tedious searching, come up with Professor X at University Y to support you. I care about arguments. If support for your side is as extensive as you say, that only shows there are a lot of people accepting bad arguments.

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There seem to be parallels with Lysenko here. Blind faith and ideology against the real world. If Dembski et el get political control, some of you guys could be off to the gulags

whaddya mean IF?

the only if i see is that IF it gets any worse, I’m thinking about becoming an expatriot.

new zealand looks pretty good to me these days.

The link given by Jim Anderson in Comment 27737 is a potential gold mine of the very stuff this thread is about. Anyone able to cmment on whether some of Dembski’s other quotations of maistream physics accepting a design hypothesis?

http://www.idthefuture.com/index.ph[…]b=1&pb=1

Despite criticisms like this by Crews and others, mainstream physics is now quite comfortable with design in cosmology. Take the following remark by Arno Penzias, Nobel laureate and codiscoverer of the cosmic background radiation: “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.”[9] Or consider the following insight by well-known astrophysicist and science writer Paul Davies: “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all.… It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe.… The impression of design is overwhelming.”[10] Elsewhere Davies adds: “The laws [of physics] … seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design . … The universe must have a purpose.”[11] Remarks like this by prominent physicists and cosmologists are now widespread. Why should inferring design from the evidence of cosmology be scientifically respectable, but inferring design from the evidence of biology be scientifically disreputable, issuing in the charge of creationism? Clearly, a double standard is at work here. Design theorists argue that the evidence of biology confirms a design inference. But even if that confirmation were eventually overturned by new evidence, such a failure would constitute a failure of intelligent design as a scientific theory and not a failure of intelligent design to qualify as a scientific theory, much less to deserve the label creationism.

well-known astrophysicist and science writer Paul Davies

Dude, every time I hear Paul Davies’ name I am compelled to light up a fat one and get heddled.

It’s true that physicist like Arno are comfortable making titillating statements that are oh-so-quotable by the creationist apologists.

You see, unless they make such statements, the popular press isn’t going to give a rip about their “research.”

It’s the same sort of phenomenon that leads bird watchers to publicize photos of a wooden bird nailed to a tree as proof of what they wish they had seen.

Wait a minute .… oh my gosh … wait … oh yes … yes … YES YES YES!!! … I suddently just figured out that the universe must have been created and I even know the beings responsible. Wow. This is shocking. Hee hee. Kind of obvious too. I’ll try to articulate my proof before the next century begins. Hee hee. You’ll love it.

“Design theorists argue that the evidence of biology confirms a design inference. But even if that confirmation were eventually overturned by new evidence,”

ROFL.

or a rational reading of all of the current evidence…

I love how they imply that DESIGN is the theory that is already accepted, and is waiting to be disproven.

hilarious!

These people would crack me up, if they weren’t trying for such a massive power grab.

They deserve to be made the “village idiot” and put in stocks on the outside of town.

Dawkins has suggested the tendency to believe what we’re told stems from the evolutionary advantage to be gained in a social hominid society, the young quickly picking up their necessary skills from adults. Also wherever man pitched up as a society, a religion of some kind seems to have been central. Could this have been an evolutionary development? So that the faithful and the demigod are both products of natural selection. So the fact that Dembski and his ilk want to grab ‘em young by inroads into the education system, and their motivation is explained by evolution. No wonder he wants to ban it.

But what about the point that you took Ward’s quote out of context thereby misrepresenting his views. Having read the full paragraph, there does seem to be point to answer.

Comment by Alan — May 5, 2005 @ 1:17 am

I posted this on Dembski’s uncommondescent site. Just wondering if he’s still censoring.

Disappeared. So that’s a yes then.

Dawkins has suggested the tendency to believe what we’re told stems from the evolutionary advantage to be gained in a social hominid society

I think (rather embarassingly based on no evidence whatsoever) that this phenomenon results from a defective filter in the brain that is supposed to analyze the semantic content of symbolic input before giving it the same weight as perceptual input.

1. Event occurs
2. Event is perceived
3. Perception is analyzed for symbolic content (talking?) If none, go to 5.
4. Symbolic content reviewed for relevance/acceptibility.  Discard if none.
5. Perception internalized into viewpoint

While I do seriously maintain this view, it’s humourously close to “who are you going to belive; me or your lying eyes?”.

I think Dawkins was trying to say that humans are born damn helpless, and need to learn a huge amount to get current with their social milieu. So what has evolved (according to this conjecture) is the tendency to take anything and everyting a parental figure says at straight face value. Questioning most such advice was (for the couple hundred thousands of years during this evolutionary period)quickly and frequently fatal. So we say “Don’t touch the fire! Mastadons are dangerous, run! God loves you!” And the child mind internalizes all of this OR ELSE. By the time the child is old enough to parse out the meaning (or lack of it) behind all of these commands, it is often too late to discard the nonsense.

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This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on May 2, 2005 2:36 PM.

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