Respectful Insolence

More antiscience from an old “friend”

Yesterday, I discussed how pseudoscience–nay, antiscience–may well triumph over science in the Autism Omnibus trial presently going on. One reason that this might happen is because of the primacy of feelings over evidence among the plaintiffs, to whose power even the Special Masters running the trial are not entirely immune. As a fellow human being, I can somewhat understand this tendency in the parents of autistic children. After all, the parent-child bond is one of the strongest there is, making it difficult for even the most rationalistic parent to think clearly when it comes to their children. I may not want their pseudoscience to triumph, but I can understand why they might be seduced by it. Less understandable is when feelings overtake science when it comes to other sciences, for example, evolution:

I’m not anti-evolution per se, I’m probably best described as an evolutionary skeptic. And while I’ve read far more evolutionary literature than anti-evolutionary literature – I’ve never even cracked open an ID book – I find the most convincing argument against evolution is the psychological one based on the behavior of its adherents. These people simply don’t behave like economists who know precisely how and why the Law of Supply and Demand exists and works like it does, they behave more like religious individuals full of self-doubt and terrified that their faith will be shattered at any moment.

It’s not like there aren’t as many, if not many more, intellectuals advocating ludicrous economics as there are individuals arguing what evolutionary biologists would consider to be ludicrous biology, and yet one never sees an economist being reduced to the rabid rhetoric of a Dr. PZ Myers or a Richard Dawkins. And there’s no shortage of evolutionarily correct individuals who wholeheartedly subscribe to economically absurd propositions that were conclusively disproven before Darwin first contemplated the various sizes of finch beaks.

Yes, it can’t be anyone other than our old “friend” Vox Day, the “Christian Libertarian” more commonly known for using the example of the Nazis as evidence that we as a nation could, if we only had the will, expel the 12 million or so illegal aliens presently in the U.S.

This time around, Vox seems to be providing what has to be the dumbest rationale for not liking evolution. Banish the thought of pesky evidence and science! Vox knows there must be something wrong with the theory of evolution because he doesn’t like the way that “adherents” of evolution behave when evolution is attacked. Of course, it never occurs to him that one reason why “evolutionists” have a tendency to become so annoyed at persistent attacks on evolution is that the usual attacks are repetitive, based on straw men versions of what evolutionary theory actually says, and derive from religion, not data or science. It never occurs to people like Vox that maybe–just maybe–it gets irritating to answer the same bogus “criticisms” of evolution time and time again, only to have them show up in the same or slightly different forms not long after. Willful ignorance and scientific illiteracy become tiresome after a while and, believe it or not, scientists are human. Sometimes, they can’t help but get annoyed. Actually, come to think of it, such a complaint from Vox is rather amusing, given what an unjustifiably high opinion he has of his own capacity to evaluate scientific evidence. More amusing still is Vox’s “nyah-nyah” attempt to “refute” the contention that the tendency of Republicans to reject evolution is evidence of their ignorance and scientific illiteracy:

Of course, it’s interesting to note that those presumably less intelligent Republicans are also wealthier, happier, are more likely to possess a college degree and live longer than their more evolutionarily-correct Democratic counterparts.

The lowest average life-expectancy in the nation is 72.6, in Washington DC, which at 90 percent Democratic is far and away the most Democratic voting community in the nation. The most Democratic state proper, Massachusetts (62 percent Democrat), has a life expectancy of 78.4. Meanwhile, the most Republican state, Utah, (72 percent Republican) has an average life expectancy of 78.7.

Of course, this has nothing to do at all with the contention that a refusal to accept evolution as a valid science is prima facie evidence of scientific ignorance (it is). After all, if scientific literacy correlated with wealth, the scientists would presumably be among the wealthy elite. Those of us in academia know that this is generally not the case, except for some scientists who also have an entrepreneurial bent and have been able to translate their discoveries into profitable businesses. Moreover, one does not need to understand much science to finish college, particularly if one is majoring in business or non-biology majors. It’s a non sequitur that reveals nothing more than Vox’s contempt for the scientific method, a contempt that he reveals in a followup post, in which he claims that science wasn’t responsible for penicllin:

Scientists and their blindly adoring cheerleaders are blatantly and habitually misleading about the way in which the scientific method produces technological breakthroughs as well as the noble dedication of science to nothing but material truth derived from empirical evidence. Consider, for example, how often penicillin is cited as one of the reasons we must be humbly grateful for science and then consider the truth of how it was “discovered.”

Basically, Vox claims three things about this story. First, because Ernest Duchesne, a French physician, who was thought to have discovered penicillin or a penicillin-like activity from mold 32 years before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin based on his observations of how Arab stable boys at his army hospital kept the saddles in a dark and damp room to encourage mold growth and how they told him that the reason was because the mold helped heal saddle sores faster, Vox concludes that he wasn’t doing science. Vox also adds that Duchesne wasn’t a scientist, but rather a military doctor. The problem is, you don’t have to be a formal “scientist” to do science. Science is a method, a way of knowing and discovering, a manner of thinking about the world. Formal training in science certainly helps one to do science, but it is not strictly necessary. If the methodology is sound and designed to test a hypothesis based on prior observations and if the observations were carefully made, that’s doing science. It is irrelevant whether it’s an army physician doing it or whether the results weren’t immediately accepted. After all, Ignaz Semmelweis’ results were not immediately accepted in many places (although they were not universally rejected, as is often portrayed by antiscience hacks like Vox), but there is no doubt that he was doing science. Duchesne’s methodology appeared to be sound sound, as the entry about him cited by Vox describes (a description that, tellingly Vox leaves out):

In a series of meticulous experiments, Duchesne studied the interaction between Escherichia coli and Penicillium glaucum, showing that the latter was able to completely eliminate the former in a culture containing only these two organisms. He also showed that an animal inoculated with a normally lethal dose of typhoid bacilli would be free of the disease if the animal was also inoculated with Penicillium glaucum. This contrasts with the strain discovered by Fleming, Penicillium notatum, which did not affect typhus.

That sure sounds as though Duchesne was using the scientific method to me. Ergo, he was doing science! Moreover, he did not discover the same antibiotic that Fleming did later, and Fleming was the first to isolate the substance with antibiotic properties made by the mold; in other words, Fleming’s discovery was similar, but not the same as, Duchesne’s. Interestingly, one possible reason why Duchesne’s work was ignored by the Institut Pasteur was because he did not claim that the mold made a substance with antibiotic properties, only that the mold somehow protected the animals from infection. Vox does have a bit of a point that the lack of attention to Duchesne’s discovery probably had something to do with his youth and lack of scientific credentials (although Vox did conveniently completely ignore other contributing reasons), but in reality this is nothing more than an atypical use of the Galileo Gambit to dismiss all science as rigid and unaccepting because of cases in which the scientific consensus did not immediately accept a new discovery later determined to be valid. No doubt, like any good crank, next Vox will be ranting against peer review.

Because of these aspects of the Duchesne’s case, Vox concludes, incredibly, that “science deserves no significant credit for the manifold benefits of penicillin.” This is bullshit, plain and simple. Duchesne made an observation, and then, based on that observation, formed a hypothesis. He then tested that hypothesis using the scientific method. Circumstances prevented him from carrying on the work, which would have likely involved a hypothesis that the mold produced a substance that inhibited the growth of bacteria. Unfortunately, his observations and hypotheses were not rediscovered for three decades. But rediscovered they were, and Fleming used the scientific method to carry them to the level of isolating the substance made by the mold that was responsible for the inhibition fo bacterial growth.

Vox then makes this ridiculous conclusion:

Of the most important human inventions, relatively few have been produced by scientists or by the scientific method. Science didn’t produce the wheel, writing, the printing press, the personal computer or penicillin. It didn’t produce anesthesia, the toilet or the airplane. And while science has provided humanity with an effective means of exploiting its non-scientific discoveries, on the other hand, professional scientists have done an even more impressive job of developing the weapons that currently imperil our continued existence on the planet.

Ah, the old argument from consequences fallacy. First off, no one claims that science is universally good. It’s a tool, a way of thinking, and as such can be used for good or evil. To turn one of Vox’s arguments against him, religion can be used for evil too. Does Vox thus think that religion is harmful, as he seems to think that science is? Moreover, Vox seems not to appreciate that you can’t truly separate knowledge, technology, invention, and science in a neat manner. Besides, some of his examples are specious. Anaesthesia depended upon an increasing appreciation of chemistry, physiology, and pharmacology. Are these not sciences? It’s also just plain ludicrous to claim that the invention of the computer or airplane didn’t depend on science; both required a sound basis in physics. Vox seems to be mixing up applied and basic sciences and rejecting applied science as not really being science–a common misunderstanding. I’d like to see him try to tell an engineer or an inventor that what he designs can’t be attributable to science.

Applied science requires a basis in basic science. My favorite example is, of course, biotechnology. When Watson and Crick discovered how heritable information was encoded in DNA, practical applications weren’t immediately evident. It took the discovery of restriction enzymes two decades later, enzymes that cut DNA in specific places, to harness the scientific understanding of genetics for practical use in making human hormones and other therapeutic proteins. Genetic engineering became feasible, a practical use of all the decades of genetics and biochemistry that came before.

Vox’s dislike of science comes as no surprise to me, nor should it to you. After all, this is the same man who as repeatedly fallen for easily debunked canards of the antivaccination movement. Clearly, Vox’s understanding of what science is and how it works weak indeed. What’s more amusing is that, for someone who fancies himself as so intelligent and rational, Vox’s arguments boil down to little more than emotion and personalization of what he doesn’t like based on what he perceives to be as the worst behavior of its defenders or the consequences of the science, neither of which have any bearing on whether the science itself is valid. For example, Vox can’t cite any scientific evidence against the theory of evolution, but he suspects that evolution is wrong because of the way some scientists (like P. Z.) get worked up over repeated fallacious and pseudoscientific attacks on it. He suspects that vaccines might cause autism not because he has a single clue about the scientific evidence regarding the issue but rather primarily because he thinks that health officials defending the current vaccine schedule have been dishonest. To boil it all down, he apparently doesn’t like science because not all of its products are unabashed good (in apparent response to his straw man argument that defenders of science do claim that it is an unabashed good), even going so far as to ask whether science “has outlived its usefulness to Mankind.”

Not surprisingly, he doesn’t apply his same doubts to religion. It’s obvious that the real reason Vox doesn’t like science is because it challenges religious beliefs in ways that he finds uncomfortable.

Comments

  1. #1 Dianne
    June 13, 2007

    economists who know precisely how and why the Law of Supply and Demand exists and works like it does,

    Snicker. Are we sure that VD isn’t really satire? Economists know precisely how the Law of Supply and Demand works…that’s just beautiful.

  2. #2 Scott Belyea
    June 13, 2007

    I agree with everything you say.

    And yet …

    …the rabid rhetoric of a Dr. PZ Myers or a Richard Dawkins.

    It’s long seemed to me that a point most often missed is that ranting and insulting is not effective when you’re trying to support a factually-based argument. Ranting is what you typically do when the facts aren’t on your side, and so some suspicion of the ranters is an understandable reaction.

    Or as the preacher wrote in the margin of his sermon, “This point is weak … pound pulpit!”

  3. #3 Orac
    June 13, 2007

    Scott,

    I see your point. However, Vox does not present any other reasons for being “skeptical” of evolution. Let me reemphasize Vox’s own words:

    I find the most convincing argument against evolution is the psychological one based on the behavior of its adherents. These people simply don’t behave like economists who know precisely how and why the Law of Supply and Demand exists and works like it does, they behave more like religious individuals full of self-doubt and terrified that their faith will be shattered at any moment.

    No evidence against evolution or for an “alternative” theory. Just his “psychological argument.” He also doesn’t seem to understand economics very well, either, given that he apparently thinks that economists don’t react poorly to certain forms of criticism. ;-)

  4. #4 js
    June 13, 2007

    Scott, I think you’re too accepting of the way Vox frames Dawkins (and even Myers). I wonder if you have read any of Dawkins’ popular books about evolution? I don’t know of anyone else who has put as much time and effort into debunking anti-evolution nonsense by attempting to explain the evidence supporting evolution to a general readership.

  5. #5 John Wilson
    June 13, 2007

    How can this guy possibly claim that personal computers were not the result of science, yet weapons were?! It’s not as though the transistor – upon which all modern computers are based – won its inventors the Nobel Prize for physics or anything, is it… Oh. You mean they did!
    (http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1956/index.html)

    It’s long seemed to me that a point most often missed is that ranting and insulting is not effective when you’re trying to support a factually-based argument.

    I have always had trouble with people describing particularly Dawkins style of writing as “ranting”. If anything, the guy is softly spoken, and is simply very certain of his facts: something his opponents rarely are. I just wonder how many times one has to respond with “evolution is not random” before it is legitimate to add “dagnamit!” ;-)

  6. #6 Christophe Thill
    June 13, 2007

    Is it just a bad dream, or is the guy argumenting that economics is more scientific than evolution? What a joke! Has he never heard about the existence of different currents in economics, and strong controversies between them? Is he just blinded by the fact that some economic theories rest heavily on a mathematical model? OK, let’s just show him some population genetics, perhaps he’ll be impressed…

  7. #7 Scott Belyea
    June 13, 2007

    Orac, I have no sympathy for Vox’s arguments. I’m simply picking up on one point which I beleive to be a weakness in the approach taken by “aggressive atheists.”

    js:

    Scott, I think you’re too accepting of the way Vox frames Dawkins (and even Myers). I wonder if you have read any of Dawkins’ popular books about evolution?

    I’m not accepting of Vox at all. I’m just noting that he (among others) reacts to what I think is a weak point in the approach taken by many on the “rational side” to religion/science questions. And yes, I’ve read reams of Dawkins. When he writes about science, I have considerable admiration. When he addresses religion, I find him considerably less impressive.

    One religion “versus” science, both he and Myers are superb at preaching to the choir. However, neither can resist falling into the “excluded middle” fallacy and characterizing a large middle ground with the sins of the extremists. Yes, I know that both have denied doing that, but in my view, they continue to do so.

    My personal conclusion (which I am sad about) is that each could be considerably more effective at their stated goals than they are likely to be.

  8. #8 Dave S.
    June 13, 2007

    Scientists of course cannot win against the so-called “skeptics”.

    Category 1: If the argue vehemently against the skeptics, it shows they are afraid they are wrong (otherwise they wouldn’t be so hostile).

    Category 2: if they don’t argue, it shows they are afraid they are wrong (otherwise, they’d just refute the arguments).

    Category 3: If they argue politely, the “skeptic” keeps simply repeating his claims (and others) ad nauseam until the conversation goes into Category 1 or 2. If that doesn’t work, they’ll repeat their claims to someone else until it does. The fact they keep trying to wedge their “skepticism” as science into public school classrooms against defenseless children is bound to get a rise somewhere.

  9. #9 Renee
    June 13, 2007

    Vox uses the same argument against evolution that C.S. Lewis makes for religion. Given that C.S. Lewis is the source of a lot of his arguments, it’s not surprising. Essentially, he doubts evolution because he doesn’t trust scientists. C.S. Lewis believes in God because he trusts others that do so.

    It’s not surprising that Vox also doesn’t believe in vaccination because he distrusts the FDA. I mean, I don’t trust the FDA either.

    But what he needs to realize is that the truth of something exists independantly of the people for or against it. The certain type of person he likes to be with believes certain things, but this doesn’t make it true. There are plenty of people I like and trust as people who believe different things than I, and people I hate that I agree with.

    It has nothing to do with truth.

  10. #10 derek
    June 13, 2007

    This is a classic, classic concern troll manouevre: “I would almost be convinced by your point of view, but you are so, so, vehement about it that I am forced, positively forced, to take the opposite position. Please accept that I have only your best interests at heart when I say that if only you would be quiet and allow us to control the debate, people would flock to your corner, and the opposing position [the one I hope you have forgotten I hold and wish to prevail] would be the loser.”

    Concern trolling: because you can always trust the opposing rhetoricians to give you good rhetorical advice.

  11. #11 natural cynic
    June 13, 2007

    VD [a good description of his utility] goes on to say that life expectancy in Hawaii is not a result of politics, but ignores the, elephant in the room, of the lack of smoking and drinking among Mormons for his Utah statistic.

    And does he think about the vehemance against anti-war protesters four years ago was due to the weaknesses in the neo-con agenda? Likely not.

  12. #12 Josh Rosenau
    June 13, 2007

    Vox has neither the ability nor the inclination to evaluate empirical evidence. Alas, that is a common failing. People use style of argument as a proxy for the evidentiary merits of an argument. I wish it weren’t the case, but it has to be understood. I trust Vox Day no further than I can throw him, and I don’t doubt that he would find other reasons to reject science if he had to. I also think that what he says there is a useful insight into how lots of people who could be convinced view evolution. He’s using that phrase to appeal to something his audience shares with him.

  13. #13 Orac
    June 13, 2007

    Josh,

    I don’t disagree with you that that is what he is doing, but Vox’s choices are disingenuous and full of confirmation bias. Notice how he zeroes right in on P.Z. and Dawkins and ignores all the other scientists and bloggers out there defending evolution who (1) are not atheists and (2) are less contentious. For example, you don’t see Vox attacking Ken Miller as an example of a defender of evolution being shrill and therefore giving him a reason to be “skeptical” of evolution. For Vox, that wouldn’t do. Miller is a devout Catholic and a defender of evolution, and he is nowhere near as–shall we say?–animated as Dawkins or Myers in his defense of evolution, although he is just as vociferous. Vox very specifically picks and chooses the defenders of evolution whom he views as too “shrill.”

    It’s clear from his statements above and past statements that he’s made that the underlying subtext of Vox’s dislike of evolution is that he considers it necessarily atheistic, a characterization which is also apparently at the bottom of his dislike of science in general. Thus, Vox appears to be treating “atheistic evolution” as he would a religion. This could be why, when he sees someone like P.Z. applying the cluestick in a less than courteous manner on a creationist, he interprets it as P.Z.’s “faith” in evolution being weak, leading him to extremes of rhetoric, thinking that if P.Z.’s “faith” were strong he would remain serene in the face of idiotic attacks on evolution. Of course, the problem is exactly as Dave S. stated a few comments before this. It’s a Catch-22 that even I, as someone who defended Mooney and Nisbet’s ideas on framing, recognize.

  14. #14 Ahistoricality
    June 13, 2007

    yet one never sees an economist being reduced to the rabid rhetoric….

    I almost stopped reading at that point: the “we’re calm, you’re not” gambit is pretty cheap, not to mention a complete fabrication in this case.

    I’ve seen some pretty rabid free marketeers in my time.

  15. #15 Flex
    June 13, 2007

    Speaking of economic theory.

    I, like all college freshmen, had a courses in macro-economics. Everything was simplified, all supply and demand curves were linear and we dealt with industries as entire units. It was interesting, and I was essentially taught that everything about macro-economics was understood. So I finished up my engineering degree thinking I had a reasonable grasp of economic theory. I thought that the field of economics was entirely mathematical and predictable.

    Of course, I didn’t know how wrong I was.

    A few years ago, I started to get interested in economic theory again. So I read some of the works of the earlier economists; Veblen, Keynes, Henry George, and of course Adam Smith. What an eye-opener! I’m now very much aware of how much economics is related to psychology in conjunction with the simple mathematical models.

    Recently I entered a degree program an MBA, and I was required to take more courses in economic theory. I realized that the instructor was finally teaching more than economic theory, the instructor was also pointing out the holes in economic theory. Some of the holes I had found out on my own, some were new to me, all were fascinating.

    So I wondered, have we reached the point that an undergraduate degree is so filled with teaching the students what we know about a subject, that the student isn’t shown where the holes in our knowledge about that subject exist?

    If this is true, it may go some of the way in explaining the ‘engineer phenomenon’ where an person with only undergraduate training in biology (or none at all) can feel they can speak with authority on evolutionary theory. These people have higher education degrees, so they are considered educated, but they don’t have enough knowledge about a subject to know where it was simplified for the purposes of teaching. That is, they are not shown either the messy areas of the subject needing more work, or the complexities of the subject which are glossed over in order to simplify the teaching.

    So they leave their educational experiance thinking they are experts. Then they get annoyed when the real experts tell them they don’t know anything about the subject they are ponificating about.

    It’s almost as if degree levels have a progression:

    Undergraduate degree: Students taught the current state of the art
    Masters degree: Students taught the holes in the current state of the art.
    Doctorate: Students pick and plug a hole in the current state of the art.

    Unfortunately undergraduate degree students are not taught that they are not getting the whole story about a subject.

    Then, of course, there are people like Vox Day….

    Whup! Boss just showed up with a warranty return, back to work. This thought was getting too long anyway.

    Cheers!

  16. #16 ebohlman
    June 13, 2007

    I think Renee really called it: the chief characteristic of the pseudo-conservative denialist mentality (and probably the pseudo-progressive denialist mentality as well) is a tendency to view truth as a property of the messenger rather than the message. I suspect that can be explained by Altemeyer’s concepts of authoritarian followership; the authoritarian personality tends to equate truth with Usness and falsehood with Themness.

  17. #17 DragonScholar
    June 13, 2007

    I really am finding it hard to formulate a response to this, except Vox appears to have absolutely no grasp of what constitutes science or research, nor a grasp of history. Even off the top of my head I can note that several medical techniques of Greece were developed with research and documented as such.

    I think what is happening with Vox is he is not able to treat the scientific approach and scientific activity as something that is not “other.”

    The scientific approach and scientific activity are not necessarily done by people with PhDs (indeed, it was being done before there was a PhD). Science is not separate – it permeates our culture and our developments – and other cultures.

    Vox however views science as “the other” as it challenges his religious beliefs. Therefore he is incabable of viewing science as something that is widespread, permeating cultures, and vitally involved. He therefore views it as limited, irrelevant, and uninvolved.

    That perhaps sums up some of the more ridiculous anti-science acrobatics – people who are anti-science must actually view science than other than it is, simplify it, separate it, and try to render it irrelevant.

  18. #18 Cain
    June 13, 2007

    He’s responded to you on his blog (check the trackbacks). The stupid, it burns!

  19. #19 Coin
    June 13, 2007

    and yet one never sees an economist being reduced to the rabid rhetoric of a Dr. PZ Myers or a Richard Dawkins

    Now that he mentions it, that is odd. Why is it that biology professors like PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, and Larry Moran seem to spend all their time talking about biology, rather than economics? It’s almost like they seem to think it is their job or something!

  20. #20 Flex
    June 13, 2007

    Just in case DragonScholar’s comment is a reponse to mine, I’m afraid that I didn’t make myself clear.

    I don’t think that science or the scientific approach is done solely by PHD’s. That’s not what I was getting at. The method of discovery which is science can be done by anyone, and the level of our knowledge about a subject can be increased by anyone.

    What I was getting at was the expectations of formalized education.

    To be awarded an undergraduate degree, you are expected to demonstrate knowledge about the current state of the field you are studying. If you can identify the holes in the field, or advance the state of the art so much the better, but the requirement for the degree is simply to know the current state of the field.

    In my limited experiance, to be be awarded a masters degree on a subject, you need to know not only the current state of knowledge about the field, but where the missing pieces are.

    My understanding of the requirement for awarding a doctorate is that the person applying for a doctorate has to advance the level of knowledge about a field in some way. The person must propose an idea, defend it, research it, refine it, defend it again, and then, maybe, the reviewers will say that the person has made a contribution and deserves to be awarded the title of doctor.

    This doesn’t mean that other people are not contributing to the advancement of a field. In fact, I’d hazard that most of the knowledge we have gained through the practise of science was not done by doctoral students or doctorate level researchers. Not every scientist aspires to a doctorate degree.

    However, if we are inadvertantly teaching undergraduates that they are being taught the complete story when they are really getting an overview of the current state of knowledge, we may be contributing to the arrogance of a person with a BS in another field thinking they know as much as someone who is a researcher in the field.

    And, of course, even if the impression given by a survey course is that the knowledge supplied is complete, it’s not the fault of the course that a person doesn’t realize that their understanding is incomplete when discussing the subject with a true expert. A university course cannot teach someone how to limit their stupidity.

  21. #21 Kristjan Wager
    June 13, 2007

    I really am finding it hard to formulate a response to this, except Vox appears to have absolutely no grasp of what constitutes science or research, nor a grasp of history.

    Have we ever found a subject where Vox Day has demonstrated even the tinest bit of understanding?

    He doesn’t know neither science nor medicine. His understanding of economics and sociology is simplistic, and entirely wrong, as is his understanding of history. I expect that theologicans would tells us that his understanding of theology is also filled with errors. And let’s not go into his understanding of psychology or philosophy, which I am sure would cause psychologists and philosophers to break down and cry, if they ever came to hear about it.

  22. #22 Jesse
    June 13, 2007

    As if VD (Nee: Theodore Beale) isn’t hard enough to take seriously with rambling incoherent fallacies, I challenge anyone to do a Google Image search for ‘Theodore Beale’. Nothing, I repeat NOTHING, screams ‘Take Me Seriously!’ more than a picture of you looking like you need to take a dump while holding- and I’m not making this up- a flaming sword. This mouthbreather does more damage to himself than any one person ever could.

  23. #23 DragonScholar
    June 13, 2007

    Flex,
    Actually I wasn’t addressing you, just theorizing on Vox’s psychology. My point was that science is not limited to people fitting our traditional concept of the PhD, and that his concepts seemed to be that “science” is only done by a very limited amount of people. It’s part of his weird marginalizing of science.

    Kristjan,
    You’re quite right. It’s just this amazing, sweeping article displays a depth of ignorance I can only call “Stygian.” His ignorance is so dense I expect it to develop an Event Horizon.

    The thing with him, like many, is there’s enough verbal skill to put a nice sheen on the ignorance.

  24. #24 Orac
    June 14, 2007

    He’s responded to you on his blog (check the trackbacks). The stupid, it burns!

    He has? I don’t seen any referrals from Sitemeter, which is odd since Vox gets more traffic than I do.

    Damn, I guess I’ll actually have to wander over and see what sort of silly reply he’s made and to see if he’s actually linked to me. (He’s been known in the past to respond to me without doing the courtesy of a link.)

  25. #25 James
    June 14, 2007

    As an economist I have to say I hate it when the fundies start taking my discipline’s name in vain. BLASPHEMER! ;)

    If I were going to postulate a reason for why economists can seem less vehement than the likes of Dawkins and PZ is that
    1) As Christophe Thill rightly points out, economics is not pure science. Being a social science there is a lot more acutal academic (as opposed to purely political) controversy in economics, so we get more used to arguing.
    2) A lot of economics can be counter-intuitive so we get used to people saying truly inane things. After a while you stop yelling and just sigh.

    Having said that, let me just say: Vox Day, you are an idiot. I recommend you restict your public statments to things you have some knowledge of, assuming you can find any.

    And by the way what’s the deal with “Vox Day”? That’s not a play on “Vox Dei” is it? Is he actually claiming to be the voice of god? Isn’t there a commandment against that?

    Flex: Liked your sumamry of academic progression. It seems solid from my persepctive, though I was required to complete a dissertation at Master and Bachelor level, so I plugged a few holes though I don’t have a PhD.

  26. #26 Cain
    June 14, 2007

    That’s weird. I just saw the Technorati “One blog response” link at the bottom of this post, clicked it, and it went right to Vox Popoli.

  27. #27 Davis
    June 14, 2007

    One religion “versus” science, both he and Myers are superb at preaching to the choir. However, neither can resist falling into the “excluded middle” fallacy and characterizing a large middle ground with the sins of the extremists. Yes, I know that both have denied doing that, but in my view, they continue to do so.

    I know you’re not a fan of either PZ or Dawkins, but you’re falling for VD’s slimy little game. He’s trying to take the reputation those two have for vicious anti-religion rhetoric, and claim their pro-evolution arguments are exactly of the same character. Science versus religion is not the issue at hand; defense of evolution is. And Dawkins is nothing if not temperate in his presentation of the evidence for evolution, at least in the popular books I’ve read (The Selfish Gene, The Ancestor’s Tale). Myers’ pro-evolution arguments also tend to be much tamer than his writings on religion.