Dembski on Groupthink

It’s a been a while since I checked in with Dembski and Co. over at Uncommon Descent. But this entry caught my eye.

In it, Dembski reproduces eight criteria indicative of groupthink. He writes, “Read the following and ask yourself which side in the ID vs. Darwinism debate exhibits the groupthink syndrome:”

So what the heck! Let’s take the challenge. For the purposes of this post I’ll even accept his ID vs. Darwinism characterization. For ease of reading, I’ve placed the eight criteria in boldface type:

1. an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks;

Darwinists understand that evolutionary biology is in a constant state of flux. It is frequently revised in response to new data. They are confident of the core principles of their science, but only because decades of research have produced evidence sufficient to justify that confidence. ID folks, by contrast, believe they are doing the Lord’s work. They make frequent predictions about the not too distant future when ID will win the day. They either ignore, or write utterly inadeuate replies, to all criticisms levelled against them. They tell the public their inability to produce anything of scientific interest is the result of a conspiracy against them. They claim to have discovered fourth laws of thermodynamics, and to have revolutionized the study of science.

2. collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings which might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions before they recommit themselves to their past policy decisions;

Darwinists respond in great detail to all arguments put before them by ID folks and creationists. In doing so they show how the arguments of the critics are simply erroneous. They “rationalize” nothing. ID folks, by contrast, attribute their inability to persuade scientists to delusional consipracy theories. Rather then respond to arguments from scientists, they assert merely that scientists can’t see the truth of ID arguments because of the philosophical blinders they wear. Rationalization indeed.

3. an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions;

Darwinists believe simply that modern evolutionary theory is the most reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the facts as they are currently known. ID folks, on the other hand, routinely distort the work done by scientists, misprepresent the content of evolution, quote people out of context and impugn the integrity of the scientific community in public gatherings. And, as already noted, they are the ones who believe they are doing the Lord’s work.

4. stereotyped views of enemy leaders as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate, or as too weak and stupid to counter whatever risky attempts are made to defeat their purposes;

Darwinists base their views of their opponents on the actions taken by ID advocates. In responding, they point to specific things done by their opponents and explain why they represent bad faith from the ID side. ID folks are perfectly happy to tell audiences about how evolution leads to immoral behavior. They assert that Hitler was a Darwinist. They tell audiences that theistic evolutionists are traitors to the cause, and proudly assert that ID is no friend of theistic evolution.

5. direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, making clear that this type of dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members;

When Darwinists confront strong arguments against their views, as with Gould and Eldredge advocating punctuated equilibrium or in the recent emphasis on the importance of development in evolution, they respond with constructive engagement. It is only blatantly fallacious arguments they are unkind towards. ID folks, meanwhile, are very unkind towards religious people who see ID as theologically suspect.

6. self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimize to himself the importance of his doubts and counterarguments;

Darwinists, like all scientists, operate in an envirnoment that rewards innovative thinking and the overthrow of orthodoxy. Any scientist worth his salt has a high opinion indeed of his doubts and counterarguments. Scientists are measured by their ability to contribute something new to their discipline. ID folks, by contrast, are measured by their ability to give a slick presentation with enough sci-babble to impress nonscientists. In fairness, self-censorship probably isn’t a problem for ID folks. The ID community is so small and has so little clout with scientists that only a true believer would want anything to do with them in the first place.

7. a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgments conforming to the majority view (partly resulting from self-censorship of deviations, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent);

That the scientific community is nearly unanimous in its accetpance of evolution is attested to by the hundreds of journals devoted to the subject, and the activities of the countless biology labs around the world. It is not an illusion. Again, this one doesn’t really apply to the ID folks. Your membership in the movement is based on your willlingness to spout certain talking points. If you are not willing to tow the party line, then you are simply not a member of their sordid little community to begin with.

8. the emergence of self-appointed mindguards – members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.

Darwinists, like all scientists, operate in an environment in which all relevant information is readily available to anyone who wants it. They couldn’t have “mindguards”, self-appointed or otherwise, even if they wanted them. ID folks, via the Discovery Institute, have an effective propaganda wing that does its utmost to explain why each new ID failure is somehow actually a great victory. A Republican judge rule against you? More evidence of the conspiracy! Your main guy humiliated on the stand under cross-examination? Nonsense. He did great! Complete inability to produce anything of scientific relevance? There’s lot’s of research going on, but it’s all secret! Have to fight the conspiracy you know!!

The situation seems pretty clear to me!

Comments

  1. #1 kemibe
    October 17, 2006

    Maybe there’s a more genteel way to say this, but I doubt it: Bill Dembski has genuinely transformed saying uncannily fuckheaded things his life’s work. Once in a while these ID frigwigs conduct themselves creditably when not stumping for the cause, and occasionally some of them even seem uncomfortable to be joyriding and bobbing abunt on such a leaky vessel. Not Dembski, though. He makes me feel as though wasting up to two hours a day pointing a warty finger at ignorant people is tantamount to merely blinking my eyes to clear my vision.

  2. #2 386sx
    October 17, 2006

    Wow it’s like Dembski was shooting for great irony on every single point. Good grief, what on earth is wrong with that guy.

  3. #3 Thought Provoker
    October 17, 2006

    I posted this to Uncommon Descent two days ago, it never showed up…

    Hi Everyone,

    It looks like William Dembski may be sensitive to the hypocrisy of banning people from a thread about Groupthink. The strongest evidence that ID isn’t engaging in this practice would be to allow contrary opinions like mine.

    One thing missing from the list of evidence exposing Groupthink is an intentional lack of a clear proposal.

    This is the most devastating method I see practiced all too often. Everyone supposedly agrees to “something” without even knowing what that “something” is.

    I believe the term used is “pluralistic ignorance”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralistic_ignorance

    I was suspicious when I noticed this Groupthink factor was missing from the list William Dembski chose to share.

  4. #4 dogscratcher
    October 17, 2006

    Well done: but as usual, for the ID crowd, the assertion by Dembski is authoritative. So “Darwinists” must be guilty of groupthink.

  5. #5 steve s
    October 17, 2006

    Don’t miss the comments section, where Allen McNeill shows up and tells them that the commenters have no fucking idea what they’re talking about, and Dembski threatens to ban him.

  6. #6 mplavcan
    October 17, 2006

    You are too kind. If Dembski actually seriously considers this some sort of damnation of evolutionary biology (and validation of ID), then he has seriously lost his crackers. This is starting to sound like the ramblings of the aluminum hat crowd — delusions, paranoia, imaginary conspiracies, and above all a relentless drive to self-justify his beliefs by accusing his perceived enemies of the very things that he is doing. My God, it’s sad. Just sad.

  7. #7 sparc
    October 17, 2006

    All the references below have been taken from the UcommonDescent.com archives. However, it was not possible to post the links in the comments section of their groupthink thread.

    1. an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks;
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1703

    Bergman’s Dissent from Darwin List at 3,000-10,000
    October 12th, 2006 • 22 Comments

    (thank you to Denyse O’Leary for finding this and reporting it at ARN)
    If one combines Discovery Institute’s list of dissenters from Darwin along with other lists (such as that maintained by ICR), one can create a list about 20 times as large as the Dicovery Institute’s list. Bergman estimates he could easily get 10,000 names. He has in the interim published 3,000 names.

    2. collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings which might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions before they recommit themselves to their past policy decisions;
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1473

    Why Darwin (probably doesn’t) matter: part 2 more or less
    by O’Leary on August 19th, 2006 • 18 Comments
    “sophophile” wonders whether I’ll reconsider my statement that Darwin doesn’t matter if Michael Shermer has to write a book on why he matters – on the basis of sophophile’s research into book titles. [...]

    Denyse, would you care to reconsider your statement?

    The answer is certainly not.

    3. an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions;

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1357

    UD — An Insight Catalyst
    by GilDodgen on July 25th, 2006 • 18 Comments
    [...] Could it be that the unavoidable use of design and moral language is evidence of the fact that objective design and objective morality are real features of the real world, which we cannot escape, despite our best efforts?

    4. stereotyped views of enemy leaders as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate, or as too weak and stupid to counter whatever risky attempts are made to defeat their purposes;

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1656

    Intelligence Arrives Later In Some Cases Than Others…
    by DaveScot on September 28th, 2006 • 57 Comments
    [...] In Dawkins’ case intelligence appears to have never arrived at all.
    [...] Is it possible Dawkins has actually deluded himself into believing what he is saying, which implies he’s not very bright, or whether he knows how baseless it is, which implies he’s not very honest.
    [...] Let’s hear from the readers – is Dawkins stupid, dishonest, or both? My vote is for both.

    5. direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, making clear that this type of dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members;
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1260

    [Admin Announcement] Get Back to Intelligent Design
    June 25th, 2006 • 14 Comments
    I’ve been lax in keeping the topic here on intelligent design and away from everyone’s favorite religion (or lack thereof). I’m as guilty as anyone. To remedy this situation I’m going to be deleting any comments I see with gratuitous references to religion until further notice.

    6. self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimize to himself the importance of his doubts and counterarguments;
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1283

    Becoming a Jedi Master in the online ID Wars
    by scordova on July 2nd, 2006 • 30 Comments
    Uncommon Descent is part of the relentlessly enthusiastic online ID community that is committed to opening minds to the truth about our origins.
    [...] It was hilarious! But rather than simply rehashing the rest of that classic rebuttal by the Discovery Institute, I simply invite the readers to study it for themselves.
    I know I’ve provided a lot of links in this thread, and it is a lot of reading, but it was my intent to point the readers to good examples of identifying and combating unwholesome rhetorical devices. Hopefully my essay has been useful to those aspiring to become Jedi Masters in the internet ID wars.

    7. a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgments conforming to the majority view (partly resulting from self-censorship of deviations, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent);
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1668

    Unveiling overwhelmingevidence.com — give us your young people . . .
    by William Dembski on September 30th, 2006 • 9 Comments
    [...] Send them to http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com and mobilize this sleeping giant!

    8. the emergence of self-appointed mindguards – members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/772

    (off topic) Comment Policy
    by DaveScot on February 2nd, 2006 • No Comments
    I created some new Pages with links in the right column of the blog. Under Comment Policy are Moderation which is the moderation policy statements made by Bill Dembski and continued by his appointed Blog Czar and Put a Sock In It which is a partial list of boring arguments that earn deletion and if repeated an invitation to leave Uncommon Descent. Please be aware of them.

  8. #8 Ken
    October 17, 2006

    This is somewhat off-topic, but in another recent post by Dembski at http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1712 , I was dumbfounded to read this:

    “So, I would probably be placed in the ID camp more so than the creationist camp even though I accept the special creation of life and am sympathetic to a Young Earth as outlined on purely scientific grounds by Walter Brown, PhD, MIT in Creation Science… I myself have come around to think the Earth could be young, but I?m not dogmatic about it. ”

    Is this just a political move on his part to patch things up with the YECs, or could he be seriously be entertaining the notion that the earth might be young? Just last year I saw him on Nightline admitting he has no problem with the idea of universal common descent, and now he’s entertaining YEC?

    Has he now given up all hope of maintaining any remaining credibility with mainstream science in favor enhancing his standing among strict creationists?

  9. #9 sparc
    October 17, 2006

    Thought Provoker:
    It looks like William Dembski may be sensitive to the hypocrisy of banning people from a thread about Groupthink.

    I had posted the following comment in the The Groupthink Syndrome thread at UD shortly after WD’s threat to kick out A. McNeill

    It appeared as the 6th comment but was removed shortly after.

    6. sparc // Oct 14th 2006 at 11:25 pm

    5. direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, making clear that this type of dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members;

    8. the emergence of self-appointed mindguards – members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.

    William Dembski:
    For your fatuous remarks above, I should boot you from this forum
    Comment by sparc — October 14, 2006 @ 11:25 pm

  10. #10 Dave Carlson
    October 17, 2006

    Ken –

    The post you’re quoting from was actually written by Sal Cordova, not Dembski. As far as I know, Cordova has never accepted common descent.

  11. #11 sparc
    October 17, 2006

    Ken:

    This is somewhat off-topic, but in another recent post by Dembski at http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1712 , I was dumbfounded to read this:

    “So, I would probably be placed in the ID camp more so than the creationist camp even though I accept the special creation of life and am sympathetic to a Young Earth [...]

    This is just the co-founder of the IDEA club again. …

  12. #12 sparc
    October 17, 2006

    I wonder what would happen if ID and creationism (actually it is the very same thing) were accepted. I bet that they would kill each other.

  13. #13 Philip Bruce Heywood
    October 18, 2006

    I don’t know if you have ever been in a room when mass hysteria struck, but it verges on the terrifying. Thechno-paths such as science followers happily don’t tend to mass hypnosis and such-like phenomena. A cursory glance at the history of technical progress nevertheless proves that science-addicts are subject to groupthink of a sort. The first sure sign of it is emotional denial.
    When you decide to show the world that there is no groupthink on the part of what you define as “science”, http://www.creationtheory.com will be here for the said science to give a cool and unbiased appraisal of matters technical regarding Origins. So far, the behaviour from some defenders of whatever form of Evolution it is you are trying to cover for, fits rather well with Mr Dembski’s groupthink. Anytime we wish to address matters technical re Origins, I’m here.

    I don’t expect there will be a rush to queue up so I’ll raise a technical point myself.
    If anyone has better information on what I am outlining, don’t hesitate to correct me.
    I read somewhere once that early in the 20th(I think) Century, certainly well before Man had significantly tinkered with the environment here in Queensland, Australia, and at a time when rainfall was good and without evidence of disease or predators, a couple of species of frog just packed up and left – went extinct. No tangible reason.
    I got the impression from another article somewhere just recently that researchers studying endangered species were perplexed as to why some species just seem to want to do the same – without tangible reason – go extinct. I got the impression that the researchers were suggesting that this inexplicable tendency to go extinct was concurrently affecting populations spread around disparate parts of the globe. Something like, to use an incorrect term, “groupthink”?
    They say the fertility of Australians has been mysteriously diminishing – and we are not referring to human mehanisms of birth control. One theory has the decline and fall of the Roman Empire happening for the same reason – and there wasn’t much by way of contraception back then. Extinctions of the geologic past are a conundrum, and despite attempts to tie them to various calamities, no coherent explanation of the demise of one life-form whilst a more fragile form survived, has been forthcoming from the catastrophist camp. Cogent theories of selective extinction do exist, one of the more prominent being based on variations of the earth’s magnetic field. To avoid getting too simplistic a view of this theory, study of the relevant parts of books such as Jacobs’s REVERSALS OF THE EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD (I can give more details) is recommended.
    There is, in a crude sense, a sort of a “groupthink” (i.e., mysterious collective behaviour)that has operated and demonstrably does operate in some measure in the biosphere. As soon as one addresses such questions with cool enquiry, one runs foul of recent populist causes as inevitable global warming, and – shock, horror – mindless conformism to the idea that species just wandered in and out of existence in some non-empirical way, through natural selection and survival of the fittest.

    Let’s see some non- groupthink in action. Of course we aren’t talking mind telepathy, we are talking, presumably, quantum category information signalling.
    When we have addressed this topic, I’m happy to give out some other related topics.

  14. #14 Pseudonym
    October 18, 2006

    I’m new around here, but could I suggest a change in wording? The word “Darwinist” is misleading, as it suggests adherence to a person, Charles Darwin. Darwin was a smart man and a good scientist, to be sure, but modern biology is not dependent on a theory of Darwin’s infallability.

    I think the word you’re looking for is “scientist”.

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    October 18, 2006

    PBH is working on becoming a famous crank.

    how’s that going, Phillip?

  16. #16 Anonymous
    October 18, 2006

    Mr Heywood,

    I would look at page 3 of the Australian (18/10/06) overall
    fertility in Australia has increased since 2001 from
    1.72 births per woman to 1.81 births per woman in 2005.
    Nothing mysterious about it either, the baby bonus and the like clearly have had an effect, just as the reasons for the
    drop are clearly social.

  17. #17 Anonymous
    October 18, 2006

    Mr Heywood,

    I would look at page 3 of the Australian (18/10/06) overall
    fertility in Australia has increased since 2001 from
    1.72 births per woman to 1.81 births per woman in 2005.
    Nothing mysterious about it either, the baby bonus and the
    like clearly have had an effect, just as the reasons for the
    drop are clearly social.

  18. #18 Aagcobb
    October 18, 2006

    Has [Dembski] now given up all hope of maintaining any remaining credibility with mainstream science in favor enhancing his standing among strict creationists?

    Since Dembski now teaches at Southern Theological Seminary, I would guess that the answer to that question is yes.

  19. #19 tiredofTSOS
    October 18, 2006

    Heywood is an obvious loki-troll, playing for no reason except a juvenile sense of maturbatory-like pleasure in catching the off-guarded who can’t spot the difference between the real creationists and related anti-science and Xian craanks and imitators like “himself.”

    I believe, when first posting about “darwinists” and such mythical creatures, he had the gall to claim his name as G. Heywood Jablowmi.

    Juvenile stuff, I know, as the “debate” deserves. Nuff said.

  20. #20 Darth Robo
    October 18, 2006

    PBH (in all sincerity):

    “www.creationtheory.com will be here for the said science to give a cool and unbiased appraisal of matters technical regarding Origins.”

    (snicker)

    “Anytime we wish to address matters technical re Origins, I’m here.

    I don’t expect there will be a rush to queue up… ”

    Work that one out yourself? (giggle)

    “Let’s see some non- groupthink in action. Of course we aren’t talking mind telepathy, we are talking, presumably, quantum category information signalling.”

    Yeah, I was thinking that too.

  21. #21 Reciprocating Bill
    October 18, 2006

    This UD post really killed me – especially number 8. Dembski has committed aggravated unintentional irony, and should be pulled over. I would have remarked on that over at UD, but I’ve been banned (for making the vicious ad hominem remark, “just to be clear, you just made all that up”).

    Which banning is itself a meta-comment on UD’s group think.

  22. #22 Philip Bruce Heywood
    October 18, 2006

    Pseudonym: you raise a reasonable point. But a strange thing I have discovered is that some Darwinist scientists actually do have a personal affinity with Darwin. I wrote to one or two high-up academics inviting technical feedback and as usual they ignored the opportunity to do some peer review but asked me, all agog, whether I had followed Darwin’s personal path in relation to matters religious? They sounded like some sort of disciples. Weird.

    Fertility has to do with the number of live sperm in microscope samples, and such-like empirical observations. I was under the impression I might have been conversing with people of basic technical understanding. Mr Robot, of course, rubishes a publication which by his own admission he has not viewed, and which he has said elsewhere he has no intention of viewing.

    It looks as though we are getting together a tidy score for groupthink – or would it be better termed, lemmingthink?

  23. #23 Philip Bruce Heywood
    October 18, 2006

    Ah, the contributor on fertility may on the balance of it have been engaged in something other than obfuscation and humbug, in which case, my apologies, I was too abrupt.

  24. #24 Darth Robo
    October 18, 2006

    “Mr Robot, of course, rubishes a publication which by his own admission he has not viewed, and which he has said elsewhere he has no intention of viewing.”

    If you are referring to me, could you be a bit more specific?

  25. #25 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 18, 2006

    I found your responses thoughtful and politic. I.e., dull. Here’s an example of how you might have handled one of the points differently:

    1. an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks;

    Vise strategy! Waterloo! Waterloo!

  26. #26 Philip Bruce Heywood
    October 18, 2006

    If Napoleon will stop the shouting, I’ll get specific. If I hadn’t been to university and been programmed to believe that dogs give birth to cats and all the attendant JUST SO stories, I’d think these people have to be joking.
    It’s called, B-R-A-I-N-W-A-S-H-I-N-G. And it generates people like the mendicant friars of Wycliffe’s England, beggars and humbugs, who keep up incessant hype amongst themselves to keep themselves convinced, and because of the inherent strain in keeping themselves convinced, tend to attack people who aren’t convinced. Well it’s not that bad, but the analogy is there, and there is certainly a fanaticism. The good Book tells us that only a fool criticizes soimething he refuses to find out about. Been there, done that.

  27. #27 Ick of the East
    October 18, 2006

    …..If I hadn’t been to university and been programmed to believe that dogs give birth to cats…

    Which University was that? Whatsamata U?
    Altered State? Eastwestern?
    .

  28. #28 Philip Bruce Heywood
    October 18, 2006

    Ah, we at last have a congenial contributor from the university of Tierra Del Feugo and Greenland who willl discourse on the finer details of the winged dilemma of the Mt. Popacetl region. While you’re at it, look up the EXPLANATORIUM and related notes at http://www.creationtheory.com and see if my ideas about speciation make sense. Or just tell us how it happened, yourself. Avoid the horns of that dilemma.

  29. #29 Zero
    October 18, 2006

    My comment(#2),IMO, is what got me banned on UD.
    I tried to post yesterday without success
    so I posted this on PT:
    ********************

    Crandaddy, now all my posts are being pulled.
    Am I banned?
    Zero

    Your comments are being moderated. We discourage commenters from being excessively theological. Religion tends to be a sensitve topic for many people, and it strays from the general theme of this blog.-Crandaddy

    Comment by Zero — October 16, 2006 @ 10:14 am
    ************************************
    Crandaddy, your explanation above was not posted until today.
    I tried to post three times last night and again early this Am.

    I have participated on UD for about a year so I know what ID is and what it’s goals are.
    When I post, check the record, I try to converse with the last commenter or at least, stay on topic.
    Unless I tell a joke, I am totally ignored. Again, check the record.
    In no posts have I said to anyone,”You’re going at it wrong”, but when I remarked several times that the best proof of ID might be symmetry and balance, there was no response.
    When I said, “Life is about family and home…. No comment
    When I remarked, “Man has six senses the Intelligent Designer gave you so that you could ‘see’ his creation. ” there was no response, even when I posted again, “I am
    astonished no one asked.”
    Because I posted an hour before post # 1 on this thread, it appears here, that I ignored Allen.
    I didn’t.

    Now, one of the real reason I’m posting now: (If it doesn’t show here , not on the ‘cutting room floor, I will post it on Allen’s sight. I’m still going to ask him if he knows man’s sixth sense anyway.

    Crandaddy, please explain “being excessively theological” so I can decide if I
    even want to post here.
    .
    “Religion tends to be a sensitve topic for many people”

    I know most IDers are bible believers in some way, so when I see something in creation that mirrors a hidden truth in the bible, it’s hard to keep it to
    myself. Henceforth, I will only call my maker “Intelligent Designer” or IDOL ( Intelligent Designer of Life) on this site. That is a promise.

    Allen, I still don’t have an invite I mentioned on post 18.

    Sal, I listened to your radio interview. Very good.
    The offer a made to send you a picture of my ‘Rock of all ages’ still stands.

    I don’t feel so bad finding my posts on the Off Topic cutting room floor.
    From there, I have no place to go but up. No suggestions please.

    Blessings

    Zero

  30. #30 johnc
    October 18, 2006

    Science is an activity undertaken by human groups, and therefore it is unlikely to be immune from “group think”, if we use the term in its everyday sense. This doesn’t tell us very much though, except that scientists are people.

    But Dembski has engaged in the worst sort of misrepresentation, since the model referred to is simply inapplicable to “Darwinists” (presumably a synonym for evolutionary biologists), who do not constitute a group in the sense Janis is concerned about, as even a passing familiarity with the literature will show (see for instance the standard text Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press, 1977.) Conceivably an individual biology department or indeed the Discovery Institute would qualify, but not all members of a scientific discipline.

    That Dembski should pull the Janis symptom list out of its organisational psychology context and apply it in the way he has is simply a nonsense which has already been taken far too seriously in this thread.

  31. #31 Johnny Vector
    October 18, 2006

    Keep it up, PBH! Nice work! I almost killfiled you until that last comment, at which point it became clear that you’re joking. Almost fell for it, I did.

    I Have Been Trolled, but I Have Not Lost!

  32. #32 Dave Thomas
    October 18, 2006

    Somebody should tell PBH that the Earth is rotating the wrong way on his home page.

    I am likewise underwhelmed by the rest of the site, “Cambrain” and all.

  33. #33 sinned34
    October 18, 2006

    The good Book tells us that only a fool criticizes soimething he refuses to find out about.

    That’s one of the funniest things I’ve read. The bible (as I’m certain you’re not talking about the quran) is all about avoiding exposure to “ungodly” ideas. The whole thing about god requiring his people to kill anyone who exhorts them to worship other gods and similar comments are strewn about the bible.

  34. #34 CCP
    October 18, 2006

    Dembski = pot
    & I guess science is the kettle.

    pedantry: party lines are “toed,” not “towed.”

    carry on!

  35. #35 B
    October 18, 2006

    5. direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments

    Funny, I wrote a response to O’Leary’s amazingly ignorant post about Evolution being a “cult”. I pointed out that acceptance of Evolutionary theory was really no different than acceptance of germ theory of disease or gravitational theory, and explained why. Do you think that post ever showed up at UC? Of course not.

    A Republican judge rule against you? More evidence of the conspiracy!

    Not only that, but the adolescent mudslinging that they do against Judge Jones because he ruled against them is disgusting.

  36. #36 Fross
    October 18, 2006

    I think the ultimate response to Dembski’s “group think” post would contain nothing but direct quotes from U.D. members, and D.I. members. Let their words speak for themselves.

  37. #37 Coin
    October 18, 2006

    I think the ultimate response to Dembski’s “group think” post would contain nothing but direct quotes from U.D. members, and D.I. members. Let their words speak for themselves.

    I was thinking the same thing while reading this list. Just off the top of my head, the very first thing I thought of when reading point #1 was Dembski’s pre-Dover “vise strategy” post from last year, the first thing I thought of when reading point #2 was the recent furor over Heddle’s internal dissents… point #6 reads like a summary of the Uncommon Descent comment moderation policy and point #7 is as good a summary of the ID “big tent” strategy I’ve ever read. Someone really should look into compiling a mapping of points from this list to UD blog posts ^_^

  38. #38 Philip Bruce Heywood
    October 18, 2006

    With exceptions, the responses we see above are about the same sort of thing you expect from a bunch of convinced sectarians on a street corner. Note the blanket refusal to think in terms of the broad picture of science. The fear of discovering new things. If this is what the “science” we are talking about does to peoples’ thinking, let me suggest we have a long look at the “science.”

  39. #39 Moses
    October 18, 2006

    PBH is working on becoming a famous crank.

    how’s that going, Phillip?

    Posted by: Ichthyic | October 18, 2006 01:18 AM

    Why I recognized his particular ranting style before I got to his name, he, sir, is no Larry Fafarman.

  40. #40 shiva
    October 18, 2006

    With a leading light threatening to “boot out” commentators, it is more a case of “goonthink” than groupthink!

  41. #41 MarkP
    October 18, 2006

    Personally I love PBH speaking for the anti-evolution side. Every time he says things like “If I hadn’t been to university and been programmed to believe that dogs give birth to cats…”, he shows not only how truly ignorant they are, but how they distort facts. It’s the equivalent of walking into a bible study and saying “Oh yeah, well if Jesus is the lamb of God, then where is his wool?” It’s great arguing with someone when all you have to do to win is let them talk.

    The ID crowd is clearly on their heels. Everyone but their tight little circle is starting to see what goofs they are. Behe got destroyed at Dover, and Dembski et al didn’t have the balls to show up. Now all they have left is sniping. Meanwhile, the scientists continue to do science.

  42. #42 TheFallibleFiend
    October 19, 2006

    Mr Heywood said, “If I hadn’t been to university and been programmed to believe that dogs give birth to cats”

    There’s an interesting phenomenon I have observed over the years. It’s intersting to me, because I actually DID start on the other side – as a creationist. By start of college, about 27 years ago, coincidentally about the time I started using the Internet, I was pretty much on the fence, but still leaning slightly towards some sort of creationism. It took me a while to understand that many people who reporting certain things as facts were actually transmitting fabrications.

    Numerous times over the years I have heard creationists say things like, “Well, I started out an evolutionist, but then I learned the facts.” or “See, I have actually studied evolution and came to understand it was false.” or “when you look at the details, you understand how stupid evolution is.”

    They then proceed to say something so utterly stupid that no one who has done one moment of legitimate homework on the subject would have made it. If Mr Heywood learned in school that dogs gave birth to cats, then Mr Heywood was the victim of poor education.

    Mr Heywood sheds further light on the subject with the following comment: “The good Book tells us that only a fool criticizes soimething he refuses to find out about.”

    To what good book are you referring? I’ve looked through my copy of OOS and can’t find that particular quote. If it isn’t in there, it ought to be. In any case, it’s a fair admonition that Mr Heywood himself would do well to take to heart.

    There’s nothing wrong with criticizing evolution. Evolution is worthy of criticism, just as every other scientific enterprise. There’s a lot of work to be done down in the details. Did birds come from dinosaurs or do birds and dinos share a common ancestor, i.e. is their similarity an example of parallelophyly? That’s an interesting debate and I hope I live long enough to see it resolved. Ironically, though, I can’t find any evidence of any creationist making a significant contribution to the understanding of evolution – for or against – in the last 50 years. Behe? Dembski? Wells? Gish? Who? What? Where? There arguments are entirely sufficient to convince those who don’t do their homework that they’ve made some significant contribution. Outside of the circle-jerk known as creationism and intelligent design, however, their collective contributions don’t amount to a scratch.

    I don’t care what university you’ve gone to, Mr. Heywood. I don’t care what your degree is in. You haven’t done your homework. Before you criticize, it would be good for you to heed your own advice. Find out what you can about what the theory of evolution actually says and how its proponents actually believe it works. Then you can figure out what’s wrong with it – and you might be able to make a worthwhile contribution to the subject. For now, you’re just repeating rhetoric and saying stupid shit.

    Over the years I’ve come to the unavoidable conclusion that the only people who are creationists are the ones who have a comic book understanding of science – essentially what they “know” about evolution amounts to barbership gossip. Your post above in which you relate that in your university education you learnt that dogs gave birth to cats is an exemplar of this sort of “knowledge,” which we might more accurately characterize as “anti-knowledge.”

  43. #43 Ginger Yellow
    October 19, 2006

    stereotyped views of enemy leaders as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate

    Eh? Since when has negotiation had anything to do with science?

  44. #44 sanjait
    October 20, 2006

    “6. self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimize to himself the importance of his doubts and counterarguments.”

    “In fairness, self-censorship probably isn’t a problem for ID folks. The ID community is so small and has so little clout with scientists that only a true believer would want anything to do with them in the first place.”

    I disagree with this assessment of ID advocates. When was the last time you witnessed an ID advocate stop taking potshots at evolutionary theory and actually debate each others’ hypotheses? It seems infrequent, from my experience, despite the fact that they have often wildly varying views. Some concede microevolution, others don’t. Some believe in a Young Earth, others don’t. Some subscribe to the “kinds” hypothesis, others don’t…

    I suspect that if and when the different types of Creationists do get together, they usually politely decline to criticize each others’ views no matter how incompatible they are, instead focusing on their mutual distaste for “Darwinism”, which would neatly fit into the description of the 6th criterion.

  45. #45 MikeQ
    October 21, 2006

    Regarding self censorship:

    There was a post at the Uncommon Descent Blog written by DaveScot that stated that dialogue at that website was to limit itself within the framework of common descent. Of course, when the blogs’ readers complained in the comments that many ID folks indeed don’t accept common descent, the post disappeared. So there’s forced censorship. I believe this episode was catalogued by Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

    Look it up.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!