Pharyngula

The Pinkoski files

Since there was a comment asking about that strange “PYGMIES + DWARFS” exclamation we sometimes get in these parts, I thought I’d bring over all the articles from the old site, just to have them here and explain some of the inside baseball lingo. So here’s the collection:

“PYGMIES + DWARFS” is simple—it’s a wonderfully illogical non sequitur. How do we know that there were biblical giants? Because there are very short people nowadays. It’s a representative example of a whole mindset, where any random observation is marshaled by an unconscious chain of absurdist logic to prop up an unlikely claim. It’s not just Pinkoski that does this, there’s also a reek of the same silliness to Francis Collins, for instance: seeing a three-part waterfall and leaping to the conclusion that the Christian trinity is a universal truth is a perfect example of “PYGMIES + DWARFS” logic.

One other thing. I think I’ve been rather mean to poor Pinkoski, publicly and repeatedly exposing his foolishness like this. I suspect from my few interactions with him that he is a decent human being, lives a normal life, and has a bit of talent. Don’t forget that, inane as his ideas are, he’s still a person who has every right to enjoy the privileges of his life and that he has done nothing criminal.

What we have to do, though, is criticize these idiotic ideas as harshly as possible. They’re wrong, they’re insane, and Pinkoski is part of a whole network of people whose goal is to disseminate ideologically-driven lies as far as possible, and Pinkoski’s role in this is to write comic books that appeal to kids to corrupt them as early as possible. Pinkoski might be a nice guy on a personal level, but we can’t afford to pull punches when such flaming gobshite is presented to the public.

Comments

  1. #1 Sastra
    August 9, 2006

    Pinkoski vs. Collins provides a fine example of the damned -if -you-do-damned-if-you-don’t dilemma. Attack Pinkoski and people sneer that you’re deliberately addressing simplistic, silly, easy targets for the cheap laughs: the real scientific arguments put forth by serious contenders are being ignored. Go after Collins, however, and you’re picking on someone who is so close to being “on our side” that we ought to let any slightly sloppy reasoning slide and give the guy a break. Why not concentrate on the more damaging extreme?

    I agree with Glen (and PZ.) The basic principle of a magical worldview is that everything is interconnected at the level of meaning and intention, and our job is to find the patterns “out there” which are trying to tell us something on the personal level. The loose, magical, anthropocentric folk-reasoning employed by Collins on a more disciplined level gives legitimacy to the Pinkoskis.

    I have a bunch of friends who endorse evolution because they think it supports a Great-Chain-of-Being spiritual progression. They get the theory all wrong, but are surprised that their “support” for evolution doesn’t simply cancel out that little nitpicky part for me. But as others have pointed out, science isn’t about coming up with the right answer. It’s about HOW you come up with an answer. Pinkoski and Collins are both fair game.

  2. #2 AndyS
    August 9, 2006

    Sastra,

    The basic principle of a magical worldview is that everything is interconnected at the level of meaning and intention, and our job is to find the patterns “out there” which are trying to tell us something on the personal level. The loose, magical, anthropocentric folk-reasoning employed by Collins on a more disciplined level gives legitimacy to the Pinkoskis.

    I see your point but think it is too limited. Only in the most abstract way does Collins’ kind of magical thinking give legitimacy to the Pinkoski’s. Collins acknowledges science, its methods, and its findings (more than that, he’s one enthusiastic practictioner). His magical thinking is restricted, quite nicely to my mind, to those “big” questions that all people have: what’s the purpose of life, how do I cope with the suffering in the world? Questions for which science provides no answer and is not capable of addressing. That’s what philosphy, religion, and art do.

    When magical thinkers try to inject their magical thinking into the classroom (ID) or in other ways distort well established knowledge (Pinkoski), it’s imporant and necessary to react strongly. That’s quite different than someone responding to an interviewer’s questions about their personal beliefs (Collins) and in doing so revealing that they use magical thinking to cope with life. Collins went further in that he wrote a book (which apparently no one here has read) about his personal views, some of which are magical.

    Dan writes,

    In short, any worldview based on childish self-obsession and confidently-held ignorance deserves to be ridiculed mercilessly at every turn.

    Ridicule, if one must stoop that low at all, should at least be reserved for the truly despicible. I am mystified by the number of otherwise intelligent people who engage in that purely destructive behavior. It’s the verbal equivalent of roadrage and usually done in the same anonymous circumstances.

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