Respectful Insolence

Now that it’s been admitted that the apparent Discovery Institute prank, in which Dr. Michael Egnor posed as a parody of the most ignorant creationists there are, spouting truly inane and long-debunked canards about evolution for a month and a half, all in an effort to snooker us evil Darwinists into attacking him and then gloat as he revealed to the world that it was all just a joke, has been revealed to be in reality a Panda’s Thumb April Fool’s Day prank, I have to admit that it’s depressing to have to contemplate again the fact that Dr. Egnor actually believes all the pseudoscientific and antiscientific (not to mention downright false and ignorant) attacks that he’s been launching on evolution. I hate to have to admit that a fellow surgeon can be so blinded by his religion and ideology that he would actually state with a straight face that evolution is not important to the understanding of how bacterial resistance to antibiotics arises.

However, I still hold out hope that Dr. Egnor is joking. I mean, look at what he posted to the Discovery Institute whine sheet yesterday, on April Fool’s Day itself:

I’ve often thought: what if Darwinism were true? I don’t mean all of the philosophical materialism that Darwinists drag along with the science. Materialism is nonsense, because if matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist (it’s neither matter nor energy). If truth doesn’t exist, then materialism can’t be true.

“If matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist”? Posted on April Fool’s Day? Come on That’s comic gold! It could have come straight out of The Onion. Are we really so sure that Dr. Egnor hasn’t been pulling our legs all along?

Comments

  1. #1 josh
    April 2, 2007

    In a way I feel sorry for him.
    It must be sad to realise that your ideas are so ridiculous that people can’t tell if you’re a parody or not!

  2. #2 S
    April 2, 2007

    My head hurts.

  3. #3 Kristine
    April 2, 2007

    Whether he really believes this garbage or not, he’s making good money at it. Don’t feel too sorry for him.

  4. #4 Russell
    April 2, 2007

    There’s a lot of naive Platonism at the bottom of a lot of wingnut philosophy.

  5. #5 sailor
    April 2, 2007

    “If matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist”? Posted on April Fool’s Day? Come on That’s comic gold! It could have come straight out of The Onion. Are we really so sure that Dr. Egnor hasn’t been pulling our legs all along?”

    Well it is possible, but only if Egnor is not a creationist at all, and has joined Discovery as a “fake creationist” to make them look ridiculous. The only problem with this line of reasoning it is very hard to make Discovery look more ridiculous than they are. In other words it would be a waste of time. So Orac, better accept it there are neurosurgeons out there who do not think rationally and that are by any reasonable standards complete idiots. I would not let him anywhere near my brain!

  6. #6 Justin Moretti
    April 2, 2007

    if matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist (it’s neither matter nor energy).

    He certainly believes in his exclusive categories, doesn’t he? A not B not C, B not A not C, C not A not B. This thinking is so concrete, it makes me wonder if there aren’t some wires loose somewhere up there. It’s a flawed logic, a reductio ad absurdum.

  7. #7 wolfwalker
    April 2, 2007

    Are we really so sure that Dr. Egnor hasn’t been pulling our legs all along?

    I for one would love to find out that all of creationism was one giant April Fool’s gag. The streams of drivel that gush steadily from the creationists serves only to diminish my faith in human intelligence. Unfortunately, _they_ keep acting as if it isn’t. So I have to (very reluctantly) assume that it isn’t.

  8. #8 Maronan
    April 3, 2007

    Sorry, Orac. Here’s the paper bag for your head.

  9. #9 Paul Power
    April 3, 2007

    Orac:

    Perhaps you could get someone to ask him what distinguishes the “materialism” of the theory of evolution from that of any other scientific idea, in particular those he cannot avoid in his ordinary work, such as biochemistry, physiology and so on ?

    And as for physics: I mean, how dare they develop theories like the Big Bang without allowing for the input of the Original Banger, the one-and-only Intelligent Designer! Materislaism is everywhere and must be stamped out.

  10. #10 Eamon Knight
    April 3, 2007

    Has Egnor the brain surgeon ever managed to find the seat of the soul — that place where Platonic reality intersects with the mundane kind we all live in — any time he’s gone into someone’s skull? And if the soul, the human self, is immaterial, can he explain why so much of what we each consider unique and precious parts of our “self” — our memories, free will, emotions; the bits that make me, me and you, you — is demonstrably linked to specific bits of a very material (and tragically vulnerable) brain?

  11. #11 sailor
    April 3, 2007

    “This thinking is so concrete, it makes me wonder if there aren’t some wires loose somewhere up there. It’s a flawed logic, a reductio ad absurdum.”

    In some of his writing Sapolsky talks about genetically predisposed schitzoid personalities as a normal type (not schizophrenic, which you more likely get if you get both genes instead of one). He says these people have a tendency to think in very concrete terms and they often become religiously fundamentalist believing in things like biblical exactness. I could not find anything that looked like that on the web, I will have to go back to the source material and look at the footnotes.

  12. #12 Jurjen S.
    April 3, 2007

    Speaking of Egnor, he claims to have answered your challenge, Orac. Personally I’m inclined to say that when your argument relies on playing semantics with a Wikipedia definition of a term, it’s not much of an argument. And of all the examples he claims he could have picked, that was the best he could produce? Lame.

  13. #13 Orac
    April 3, 2007

    I am aware of this.

    Patience. A dose of Insolence is coming…

  14. #14 Lee
    April 4, 2007

    in Egnor’s “answer”, he says:

    “They collected physical data about the structure of DNA (X-ray diffraction studies, Chargaff’s rules, the physical chemistry of nucleotides, etc),”

    Well, yes. And they took that evidence from biological systems ranging from virus, to bacteria, to insects, to vertebrates. And they successfully combined data from these knds of disparate systems, because of the inference from evolutionary theory that common descent would mean these different systems would have commonality of their mechanism of inheritance. And they were right.

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