Monday, May 22, 2006

Accept No Substitutes: Donkey is NOT a Valid Replacement for Skeptico

Just like Orac with Generation Abandon, Skeptico now has an imitator trying to deflect people away from his valid information and arguments. I will hereafter refer to him as "lame donkey" in an effort to do some low-level Google cherry-bombing, since I'd rather perform some light gray ridicule versus black impersonation.

Now for some dissection:

Evolution is now being taught in public schools, almost entirely unchallenged, undebated. It is being taught not only as theory, but as well established fact, as accepted by virtually the entire scientific and academic community.
That's because it is a fact (as well as a theory), and it is accepted by virtually the entire scientific and academic community.

Of course, it can be challenged, and it is every time a biologist carries out an experiment. Modern evolutionary theory has survived all of those challenges. The problem is that there are few legitimate challenges. Intelligent Design is not one of them. We don't want people to waste class time with non-arguments.
And not only as fact, but as the one great over-arching fact, the great universal organizing paradigm for the teaching and understanding of all of science, all of life, indeed all of what is. So all-embracing and ramification-pregnant is this teaching that every other fact or idea taught in schools (whether mathematical, historical, linguistic, literary, sociopolitical, or otherwise) pales by comparison.
That's precisely because evolution is so strong a theory: It's one of the best supported ones in history.
But what if it's all wrong?
And what if Ryan's [posterior] gnomes exist?
What if Darwinian and neo-Darwinian evolution can be rigorously and scientifically refuted? What, in fact, if even the possibility of such a refutation can be seriously entertained? Should then such refutation or the possibility thereof be proscribed from the science classroom because of some question of motive?
If you can refute it, bring it on. Let's not stay in hypothetical land.
This issue of motive is a red herring. It is a diversionary tactic. I know it, and those who employ the argument know it.
Anyone want to bet that he'll bring up the eeeee-ville materialist conspiracy before I'm done?
Unfortunately, though, the red-herring tactic can be enormously effective, and those now so vehemently opposed to the inclusion of ID in our science curricula are too desperate to scruple over employing a logical fallacy if it serves their purpose.
The motivations were important for determining whether or not the Dover school board was violating the First Amendment. It's completely unnecessary in pointing out the fallacious nature of ID. But it does demonstrate one additional layer of dishonesty on their part.
The great debate here should focus on the validity or invalidity of evolution as a coherent theory for explaining all that it purports to explain.
Agreed, if he'll agree that ID should be put to the same standards. Unfortunately, I have a feeling he'll avoid any discussion of either's validity.
The anti-ID crowd chants "ID is not science, ID is not science," over and over. Why is it not science? Well, "because it's religiously motivated." This is a cop-out, clung to in desperation because they cannot mount an effective counter-case based on the merits.
Donkey has obviously never read anything ever written by a skeptic on ID. ID is not scientific because it's unfalsifiable and makes no predictions. Astrology, though wrong, is a lot more scientific than ID in that regard. At least Astrologers can step up to the plate and take a swing. IDers can't even do that, yet.

An earlier blog entry of his:
I've just only recently finished Behe's "Darwin's Black Box." This whole intriguing field of microbiological complexity, replete with innumerable individual irreducible complexities, is very fascinating.
Irreducible complexity is a non-issue. It's unfalsifiable, since you can never know if there's a simpler form, and any claims to the contrary are an argument from lack of imagination. It's also not a problem because it relies on the absurd assumption that evolution can't subtract, just like faux Information Theory claims assume that evolution can't add. Even on top of that, it's an argument from ignorance and lack of imagination.
And I am sure that not a few level-headed people, upon reading that book, must have thought it nothing short of a succinct and irrefutable refutation of neo-Darwinism. For, indeed, that is precisely what it is.
I'll give you a few moments to stop laughing.

Nevertheless, how many hardcore Darwinists will change their positions as a result? Few, I daresay. Very few. Because, at the end of the day, to relinquish this cherished theory requires an act of will that unavoidably involves a whole phalanx of personal vested interests with philosophical, moral, religious, teleological, and most emphatically social ramifications (friends could be lost, you see, or maybe even a mentor).
Not the eeeee-ville materialist conspiracy, but there's the appeal to motive he denounced in the later entry. Welcome to Moonside!
Arthur Koestler--the brilliant Jewish non-Christian evolutionist scientist and writer--did it half a century ago, for example, in the "The Midwife Toad" and other writings, which now are relegated to the status of "quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore." In fact, Koestler's irrefutable refutation did not even succeed in making Koestler himself a creationist. He concluded that he didn't know what made evolution happen, he just knew it certainly could not have happened that way (i.e. by random mutations + time + natural selection).
Too bad donkey doesn't list his argument or provide any links for easy reading. Based on my Talk Origins search, all Koestler does is a PRATT fall: a Point Refuted A Thousand Times.

I don't think I have to continue. He doesn't discuss the "irrefutable" arguments he merely hints at. He simply assumes those straw men are devastating to evolution, and then goes on political diatribes. He does a little wordplay about evolution "doing" things, even though that's a straw man accusation of reification.


Morgan said...

Arthur Koestler--the brilliant Jewish non-Christian

...I'll just let that simmer, I think.

Bronze Dog said...

Arthur Koestler--the brilliant Jewish non-Christian

I wonder what, if anything, donkey is trying to with that. I'm not about to commit a genetic fallacy and assume there's some merit to Koestler's PRATT falls just because he's not a Christian.

In fact, when it comes to science, I'm more likely to remember the arguments and not the people making them. That is as it should be.

Morgan said...

I read it with a subtext of "see, you don't have to be Christian to find fault with evolution!". I was simply intrigued as to what extra meaning "Jewish non-Christian" was supposed to convey over either adjective on its own.