Easterbrook on Dawkins

| 13 Comments

Gregg Easterbrook is a scientific lightweight with a long, long history of goofy ideas; an apologist for religion and Intelligent Design creationism, and a shill for the Discovery Institute. He apparently has written well-regarded columns on football, but when it comes to science, his credibility is on the negative side of the number line. One of the characteristics of the incompetent, though, is that they do not recognize their own failings, so once again Easterbrook sallies forth, this time against Richard Dawkins. It's the nut against the nutcracker; the outcome is foreordained.

My personal position on Dawkins is somewhat complicated. I think he is definitely one of the best writers on our side of the argument; I think he is largely in the right on much of the science; I also think he is regrettably neglectful of development's role in evolution, which biases his thinking in ways that don't align with my biases; and I think he is dead-on target in his criticisms of religion's effect on society. I'm a bit different than many, who seem to think his description of science is exactly right and wish he'd shut up about religion: I think his science lacks some significant nuances, and want him to continue to speak out with vigor and clarity on the affliction of fundamentalism.

Easterbrook, of course, is outraged at the arrogance of the damned atheist.

Continue reading "Easterbrook on Dawkins" (on Pharyngula)

13 Comments

I’m getting a broken link on the Continue Reading…

Gee, up for under a minute and right away I get complaints. It’s fixed now.

Good timing, I guess. Not complaining, thought you’d want to fix it. Cheers.

Easterbrook’s football columns are pretty lightweight as well in terms of any real scientific backing (www.footballoutsiders.com for some folk who take a more scientific approach). His stuff, if anything, is amusing in a lightweight way and has lots of cultural cross references.

He’s just not the person I’d go to for an enlightened (or deep) commentary on scientific issues.

Yes, thanks for catching it. I was just surprised at how quickly it was caught!

Hey, we’re rabid for this stuff out here. Rabid, I tell you.

btw, good article. Not much more to say, because I wholeheartedly agree.

I’ve noticed a whole lot of creationists, and more than a few folks who describe themselves as “theistic evolutionists” who use “Richard Dawkins” as a kind of shibboleth. All you have to do is pronounce those four syllables, and you communicate something along the lines of “axis of evil”. (It’s a lot like the syllables, “Michael Moore” in politics.) When you actually try to track down the logic, if any, of the the beef they have with the argument of the man, you get crap like this Easterbrook wrote.

I hope Easterbrook is shamed into responding to your critique. I’d be curious if such a response would be any less embarrassing than good ol’ Salvador’s attempts to justify his Dawkins-bashing cheerleading.

BTW…

Dawkins tends to be more right than wrong on the subject of evolution, but is probably more wrong than right on the subject of automobile repair.

I’m curious to learn, specifically, where you think Dawkins has been wrong, say, on evo/devo. Is it just a question of giving it insufficient attention, or are there instances where you think he’s flat-out wrong?

I’d love to read a good pop-sci book on the mathematics of evolution. That’s something that was used against Behe in the Dover trial and it gave me an itch to know more. Neither Dawkins or Gould ever dealt with the math much.

I think we need one to counter Dembski.

Dawkins, If I recall correctly, mentions leaving out the statistics to simplify things for the lay reader. Whereas (At least according to Professor Perakh, in whom I place great confidence) Dembski’s math is mostly superfluous and is intended to bluff the non-mathematician. Dawkins must know enough math to sum Bill up as a second rate mathematician.

Norman -

I’d bet that if you’re curious about the math behind selection-space models, I think Robert Trivers will be releasing a book soon titled “Genes in Conflict”, which should be quite interesting. It seems he is attempting to model genescapes under conflicting selective pressures, and doubtless he will come up with some interesting stuff.

In the meantime, you might want to do a search on the term “evolutionary dynamics” which could net you some book titles along the lines you mentioned.

Norman -

You don’t think the m-word would cause problems for publishers, do you? :-)

The guy who springs to my mind is John Maynard Smith: his “The Theory of Evolution” should be good (I haven’t read it, though). You could also try his textbook (“Evolutionary Genetics”).

Bob

Smith’s book is good, if a bit dated.

While mathematicized treatments are all to the good, remember what Hawking was told: each equation cuts your sales in half, alas.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on December 19, 2005 2:05 PM.

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