Addressing the issues

Jaime made a thoughtful comment here regarding yesterday’s “hater” post. I started responding in the thread but it’s become more of a treatise. Hope I don’t scare Jamie away (since it’s noted that s/he is unlurking to make it):

i read the post, and the comments, and the stuff on here, so i will unlurk to make my 2 cents. there is bad science in evolution like in any field these days but no one seemed to address the issues – some complained about the crappy font and 2 regulars on here used the ‘you’re stupid’ argument on him.

tara also can be a little guilty for snipping parts of sentences for her convenience. the guy/girl also said ‘Obviously we are not against evolution but we go apeshit over bad science’ … the quote she used was from a different one on reconciling religion and evolution.

Maybe they came here and just saw the real crazies, like pharyngula and whatever and wrote that post. so what does everyone do in response? they go crazy like he said. if sb is so balanced and open to all scientists, let’s make sure we continue to show it.

My thoughts after the jump.

Jamie, there are dozens–hundreds–of posts here on SB where people address those very issues. But in my opinion, it doesn’t have to be done in every post, especially when “Chief Scientist” also isn’t addressing issues, but just making sweeping generalizations about the whole audience here at SB. There weren’t a whole lot of actual arguments even in the posts I linked, so to be fair, there wasn’t much for the commenters to respond to. (And coupled with the font/color issues, I can’t say I blame them for pointing that out).

Second, you seem to be accusing me of quote-mining. I take deep umbrage at that. The “obviously” quote was in a third post that I didn’t link or even comment on. Certainly you don’t expect me to scan every one of Chief Scientist’s posts before I write a comment on one of them? (And that post also has so many mischaracterizations…he doesn’t seem to understand how science works; there is no “proof” in biology. For another day, maybe…) As far as the rest of the portion of the paragraph I quoted in the prior post, here it is in its entirety (the part I included is in bold):

I don’t say religion and science because, of course, not all scientists are anti-religion. A lot are … most everyone at Scienceblogs is contemptuous of religion to a point beyond objective reasoning and bordering on zealotry.

I left out the first sentence because I was only concerned about the SB part, and because the first sentence doesn’t make much sense without the title of the post (“Reconciling religion and evolution”) anyway. That post has some better points, and the “religion/evolution/science/faith” angle is something that gets discussed with some regularity on Panda’s Thumb (especially in the comments), but ironically, religion isn’t something I really discuss on here, so I’m not the one to tackle it.

Finally, Jamie, you make an appeal for inclusiveness, and that I agree with. But at the same time, you label PZ and unnamed others as “real crazies.” How is that inclusive? Doesn’t PZ write about good science, too? Why can’t he speak his mind about his own worldview, even if others disagree–strongly and vocally–with it? Personally, it doesn’t matter to me what religious beliefs you have. Worship Zeus for all I care. Science is the common ground, and when people spit on it, yes, I’m less likely to pull punches in that arena–but it’s not because they’re a [insert religious affiliation here]. It’s because this promotion of bad science hurts all scientists, no matter what their beliefs may be.

Comments

  1. #1 somnilista, FCD
    August 24, 2006

    Maybe they came here and just saw the real crazies, like pharyngula

    On behalf of myself and the other real crazies: thank you.

  2. #2 Uber
    August 24, 2006

    you label PZ and unnamed others as “real crazies

    I am a theist and PZ is one of the sanest people I read. Only a goofball would call him a crazie. Whatever that is.

  3. #3 Jamie
    August 25, 2006

    tara, thanks for your thoughtful follow-up. i agree it was inappropriate for me to label pz as crazy in the same way it was not right for the audience being ridiculed to focus on some guy’s font. in both cases it happened but i have to note that only in pz’s case did you caution against it – in the other case you rationalized it. it’s not for me to examine why that is but i am sure the scientist in you understands why it has to be noted.

    i don’t like being in a position of defending someone who isn’t here (and that i didn’t much agree with) but the tone of the arguments (from others, not you) is what irked me then and you wrote this part to me so i guess i must. i have to say, if you didn’t like my obtuse charge of quote-mining, don’t do it. you didn’t have time to read the 5-6 posts the guy wrote – fair enough – but you criticize him for not reading 5000 posts on here to understand how broad-based sb is in its thinking. i tried to give your ‘hundreds’ contention a fair shake regarding finding posts on here that are not laughing at people who disagree about evolution data but i gave up after 30 minutes of looking. of course, if the only time other arguments are seen is in comments, then sb/panda are picking authors who already all think the same way – something religious groups do.

  4. #4 Seth Manapio
    August 25, 2006

    “i tried to give your ‘hundreds’ contention a fair shake regarding finding posts on here that are not laughing at people who disagree about evolution data but i gave up after 30 minutes of looking. of course, if the only time other arguments are seen is in comments, then sb/panda are picking authors who already all think the same way – something religious groups do.”

    ———-

    jamie, are you suggesting that science blogs should have an intelligent design poster or that evolution is a religious faith, or both?

  5. #5 Jamie
    August 25, 2006

    seth, she said there were hundreds and i said i couldn’t find them. it was a basic sentence with no subtext. i think i know what you are getting at and it seems to be the same sophistic gerrymandering you engaged in last time but i will answer anyway; i don’t care what scienceblogs puts on its posters, because this isn’t my fight, but any science that says it doesn’t require ‘proof’, as tara said is the case in biology, is counting on a certain amount of faith.

  6. #6 Peter Barber
    August 25, 2006

    Jamie: Proof is for logic or mathematics. Science only has experimental evidence to fall back on. The only article of faith required is that the natural world operates according to consistent laws.

    And to the best of my knowledge, Seth hasn’t been altering electoral boundaries to suit his political ends. Maybe you’re using the political term ‘gerrymandering’ as a synomym for ‘moving the goalposts’, but all I see Seth doing is using reductio ad absurdum to demonstrate that your definition of science is wider than generally accepted. Since there is no supporting evidence for Intelligent Design-Creationism (and mountains of evidence for another theory), inviting an IDC-supporting poster onto ScienceBlogs would defeat the object of the site, and make a mockery of the word ‘science’.

  7. #7 Seth Manapio
    August 26, 2006

    What Peter Said.

    Jamie, there is a guy who comments here who doesn’t believe in the germ theory of disease. He is roundly ridiculed, but his points are answered as well. No science blogger is going to take the anti-germ theory position because it just doesn’t correspond to reality. Evolution is at least as strongly supported by the evidence as the germ theory of disease. And the treatment of ID enthusiasts is basically the same as the treatment of the germ guy. But the points are addressed.

  8. #8 Tara C. Smith
    August 26, 2006

    tara, thanks for your thoughtful follow-up. i agree it was inappropriate for me to label pz as crazy in the same way it was not right for the audience being ridiculed to focus on some guy’s font. in both cases it happened but i have to note that only in pz’s case did you caution against it – in the other case you rationalized it.

    That’s because it’s apples and oranges. Calling someone “crazy” has no good end. Telling someone their blog is unreadable, OTOH, is legitimate criticism (though sure, it could have been phrased more nicely by many people).

    i have to say, if you didn’t like my obtuse charge of quote-mining, don’t do it.

    You don’t seem to understand quite what quote-mining is, or are using it in a different way from how it’s traditionally used.

    you didn’t have time to read the 5-6 posts the guy wrote – fair enough – but you criticize him for not reading 5000 posts on here to understand how broad-based sb is in its thinking.

    I didn’t say that. I originally saw his one post linked, which was obviously an attention-grabbing post. So I gave it some attention. In the meantime, I looked over his other posts to see just what his beef was with SB, and found the other one I linked. It wasn’t a treatise on his site; it was comments on those two posts. Meanwhile, he made a huge generalization about the entirety of not only bloggers here, but also the commenters. Surely that’s much more absurd than my taking 2 comments from 2 of his posts?

    i tried to give your ‘hundreds’ contention a fair shake regarding finding posts on here that are not laughing at people who disagree about evolution data but i gave up after 30 minutes of looking. of course, if the only time other arguments are seen is in comments, then sb/panda are picking authors who already all think the same way – something religious groups do.

    I find that difficult to believe. Heck, just check out my archive here on biology alone; very few of them are direct responses to creationist claims. The majority of it is simply explaining new scientific findings. This is a common thread thoughout many of the blogs here. Check out Sandra’s HIV series or her “Digital Biology Fridays.” Check out the whole supplemental AIDS blog. Check out this absurdly long thread where many people have provided their time and effort to answer questions posed by people who consider themselves AIDS “rethinkers.” Bloggers on SB and commenters here do this every day, and you’re painting with the same broad brush when you suggest it’s all just because we share a “religious belief” regarding acceptance of evolution and other well-supported scientific theories.

  9. #9 Tom Smith
    August 26, 2006

    What is evidence ?

    Some people (Popperians) that you need to erect a hypothesis and test it to destruction. If it survives you may have a small, hypothetico-deductive, scientific advance ?

    Other people (Kuhnians) say “it s not like that, it is like this” and then get around and produce “evidence” to support their new, ground-breaking view ?

    Seems to me you have both in evolution (Mendel, Darwin, Zimmer, PZ – not all in the same sentence) – and they may both be valid ? Is there a dichotomy between “good” and “bad” science. There may be no “truth” save for the paradigm of the present – the great pleasure is uncovering “unity across a broad range of phenomena” (David Bohm) – a pleasure that is probably reserved for Kuhnians ? rather than Popperians ?

    Is that fair, mad, or, Popperian ?

  10. #10 Chris Noble
    August 27, 2006

    Is that fair, mad, or, Popperian ?

    That sounds more like Feyerabend who went to grest exteremes to argue that there is no difference between astrology and astronomy.

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