Mike the Mad Biologist

Mike Konczal is disappointed in the behavior of one of the members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (‘FCIC’), Peter Wallison, movement conservative and member of the rightwing faith tank, the American Enterprise Institute. Like many conservatives, Wallison blames the housing crisis on efforts to provide African-Americans with loans, even though, as Konczal explains, that’s simply not true. Here’s what the FCIC was charged to do:

First off, let’s remember what this document is. The FCIC report was designed to be our age’s Pecora Commission, a collection and investigation of original documents and primary sources along with summary document that scholars, historians, economists and reporters will use for generations. It is designed for our government’s investigative powers to get to the bottom of what went wrong in the bubble and the subsequent crash. It was important that honest conservatives and libertarians were on this to provide balance and insight. The panel required serious scholars and investigators, those whose ultimate agenda and requirements were to the truth and the public.

Konczal is disappointed in Wallison’s behavior:

Think about this. Wallison is putting pressure on his fellow Republican members to write their FCIC report to serve the political ends of the Republican party and its backers in their legislative quests. Not goals of the public, which we as taxpayers were paying him at the level of a level IV of the Executive Schedule to do, a pretty nice pro-rated six-figure salary, and not the goals of disinterested research. This is the person who leads the financial reform team at the American Enterprise Institute.

It seems silly to say now, but in the aftermath of the financial crisis I had expected more from movement conservatives on dealing with this nightmare. It’s been very disappointing.

Why would he expect this? As I often write on this blog, nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism (to borrow Dobzhansky’s phrase).

Distortion and cherry-picking of facts to serve a preconceived notion? Check.

An edifice of intellectual fraud, in this case, multiple pseudo-scholarly articles that repeatedly cite the same flawed study to provide the illusion of a large body of literature? Yup.

A need to sugarcoat and hide what they really think (in this case, the other Republicans realized that Wallison’s conclusions were politically awkward and tried to exclude them)? You betcha!

This is no different than what creationists do on a routine basis. When it comes to dealing with the professional creationists, no biologist expects an intellectual search for truth from them. They are nothing more than propagandists, just like Wallison. The consequences of their lies are important, as the majority of biology teachers in the U.S. avoid teaching evolution due to political concerns. And it’s not like evolution isn’t critical to many fields of biology, or that biotech is a $128 billion industry. But, like Wallison, consequences don’t seem to concern creationists either. Given the overlap between creationists and movement conservatives, this isn’t surprising.

If you see a professional movement conservative, assume he is a propagandist. You’ll save time that way. Hopefully, Konczal has learned what biologists figured out long ago out of necessity.

Comments

  1. #1 David
    July 23, 2011

    You say that “the majority of biology teachers in the U.S. avoid teaching evolution due to political concerns.”

    From my recent article:

    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth01.asp

    In 1999, Phillip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial, said on CNN: “I think we should teach a lot about evolution. In fact, I think we should teach more than the evolutionary science teachers want the students to know. The problem is what we’re getting is a philosophy that’s claimed to be scientific fact, a lot of distortion in the textbooks, and all the difficult problems left out, because they don’t want people to ask tough questions.”

  2. #2 Drivebyposter
    July 23, 2011

    ^Wow. Way to blatantly try whoring out your own website. You added nothing to the discussion except “CREATIONISM HERRR DERRR!”

    PS: your website is filled with typical creationist bullshit. I’m embarrassed for you.

  3. #3 David
    July 24, 2011

    Hey Mr. drivebyposter…..Why is it evolutionists who have commented on the article typically say a)it’s just creationism b)it’s all been refuted on the talkorigins website, blah, blah, blah. but never respond to any of the 31 questions?

    If the case for evolution is so overwelming (eg. Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Eugenie Scott go as far as saying evolution is a fact) then why not provide answers for any of the 31 questions contained in the article. Even one.

    And if you’re unable to answer any of them, here’s one just for you:

    Programmers utilized complex codes to create software. The genetic code, which is more sophisticated, controls the physical processes of life and is accompanied by elaborate transmission and duplication systems.

    How does evolution, using natural processes and chance, solve the problem of complex information sequencing without intelligence?

  4. #4 Onkel Bob
    July 24, 2011

    If the case for evolution is so overwelming [sic] (eg. Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Eugenie Scott go as far as saying evolution is a fact) then why not provide answers for any of the 31 questions contained in the article. Even one.

    Wolfgang Pauli answered your questions many years ago. That no one has chosen to argue with the willfully ignorant is not a sign of weakness of their position, it is a indication of their discretion.

  5. #5 kermit
    July 25, 2011

    Hey, David.

    I followed the link to your website; I read the first quote and the cartoon. Item one – who was this unnamed Chinese paleontologist, and if he exists, what was the context in which he said this?

    Second, the cartoon. This ignorant use of the word “theory” is typical of Creationists. Theory is as good as it gets in science. A theory is a testable model that explains a class of related evidence (facts), and has been tested but not falsified. The theory of evolution is possibly the best supported theory in science, and explains a wide body of evidence. The classes of facts it explains includes, but is not limited to:
    The nested hierarchy of morphology (e.g. the updated version of Linnaeus’s tree of life.
    The nested hierarchy of sequenced genomes (note that this matches the morphology).
    Vestigial organs (and no, they are not necessarily useless structures – our canine teeth are not useless, but they are remnants of teeth which were vicious ripping tools).
    The fossil record, showing a sequence through time of simpler, archaic organism to modern, often larger and more complex, and sometimes simpler(but always more contemporary) organisms.
    The unification of life revealed in their biochemistry.
    Fossil records showing not simply sequences of change and diversification of species, but the replacement of whole ecosystems.
    The fossil record matches the geological records of plate tectonics, paleoclimate change, etc.

    As for the “31 questions”, they have been floating around the internet for some time, and have long since been answered. But you folks are not skeptics, you are denialists. You ignore the evidence, and bring back the so-called questions again and again, often in the same conversation. “Argument” means something very different in scientific communities than it does in a dysfunctional family’s shouting match.

    Regarding the question you did post: What information? Life is a response to ordinary, fairly well understood biochemistry. The genetic code is simply (in concept) a collection of molecules which produce (under normal circumstances) an organism that behaves in a certain way. The information is a model the human mind imposes on this when we study it. How does mindless gravity process the math required to accelerate a falling object? The answer is, it doesn’t. The math is our description of this natural behavior in a specific context. Natural processes do not have to understand our math. Why is genetics so complicated? Simple processes can produce extremely complicated structures and behaviors. Look at snowflakes, for example. Or read up on fractals.

  6. #6 jigolo
    September 11, 2011

    thanks for this entry

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