Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Doggerel #77: "Fanciful"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

One of the favorite phrases of a well-known troll here was "the fanciful land of the evolutionist," except he'd use it to describe scenarios never predicted by evolution, like polymorph spells turning cats into dogs, or monkeys giving birth to humans (clearly events that would merit a label of "supernatural"), creation ex nihilo (one of the chief tenants of most forms of Creationism), and other such nonsense. Other times, he'd describe perfectly mundane, observed events as "fanciful" such as particle physics being accurate, genetic algorithms producing usable information, two of his claims being diametrically opposed, or the absence of a massive worldwide conspiracy to lie about physics, medicine, biology, etcetera for no good reason.

But enough about him. Other times, woos would label alternate explanations for results, like confirmation bias, sampling error, dumb luck (statistical flukes, whatever), trickery, natural improvement, regression to the mean, actual medicine, etcetera as "fanciful" despite the fact that those things are quite real and demonstrable. And then they'd go on about this fickle, magical "energy" that always worked, except when it didn't, in which case it's the skeptic's fault for releasing "negative energy". But he should try it himself, because that will convince him.

It really amazes me when woos use this bit of doggerel in the same breath as complaining that "our" world is small and limited. The universe is a frikkin' amazing place, and more often than not, I see woos in denial about that.

An illustration of how I see the skeptical and woo approach to the universe:

Skeptic:
"OOOOOooooo... What does this button do?"
"Now, why does that button do that?"
"So, how does mechanism B36 work?"

Woo:
"I already know what that button does."
"It works by magic."
"Okay, maybe B35 was a simple mechanical process, but B36 is magic. End of discussion."

Needless to say, I perceive the woo mentality to be quite limiting and defeatist, and they say the same about us for not including limiting and defeatist ideas in our arsenal towards unraveling knowledge.

No wonder they consider the scientific world to be fanciful: They can't seem to appreciate the fact that we've got lots of mysteries solved, and will continue to have still more mysteries to work on.

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3 comments:

Infophile said...

You know, I wonder if the reason Weapon doesn't show up anymore is that someone finally managed to get him committed... Or wait, is it still in law that if you show all the signs of insanity about something religious, you get an exception?

AustinAtheist said...

Yes.

Rockstar Ryan said...

I know you miss Cocksnack :)