Pharyngula

Other people get mail

It’s not just me! Other people get strange messages, like the one forwarded to me below. Have fun with it.

The author, Don Pribor, is a member of the biology faculty at the University of Toledo. You really must read his research statement.

Many Scientific Thinkers Reject Evolution (not published)
By
Don Pribor

There has been much public discussion of fundamentalist, literal
interpretations of Christianity that deny evolution. I have not seen any
public discussion of how many scientific thinkers believe in a literal
interpretation of varies scientific theories that also denies evolution.
Albert Einstein, representing mechanistic science, was smart enough to
realize that the mechanistic perspective rejects the possibility of
evolution. He, like most mechanistic thinkers, believed that the
universe literally has a definite structure, represented by some
mathematical formalism that unfolds – rather than evolves – in a
predetermined way. Many scientific thinkers believe that any living
organism as well as ecosystems literally are “nothing more than complex
machines.” Often these thinkers fail to realize that strict mechanistic
theories, which imply among other things that time is reversible, oppose
literal machine interpretations of life, which imply that time is
irreversible. Furthermore, literal machine interpretations of life
reject the possibility of evolution. Machines cannot evolve; only open
non-machine systems far from equilibrium can evolve.

Virtually all high school and college science text books fail to point
out that literal mechanistic interpretations of nature or literal
machine interpretations of life totally oppose evolution. A systems
theory of self-organization as well as Richard Dawkins’ idea of “the
selfish gene” do describe biological evolution in such a way that there
is no need for a Creator God hypothesis. However, in contrast to
mechanistic or machine literal interpretations of nature, these
objective, narrative, evolutionary theories involving methaphorical,
conceptual thinking provide the basis for constructing subjective,
narrative perspectives that imply an absolute SOURCE that may be
interpreted as a Creator God or “that Force, the
spirit-that-moves-in-all-things” (Tom Brown, Jr., advocate for American
Indian sprituality) or Brahman (of Hinduism) or Emptiness (of Buddhism)
or other.

Addition to this, 8/28/07: The original, classical version of the second
law of thermodynamics and the classical, probabilistic representation of
this second law involving mechanistic determinism deny the possibility
of evolution.

Comments

  1. #1 Orac
    August 30, 2007

    Nooo! Not Toledo.

    (My wife grew up in the Toledo area, and we visit her parents at least twice a year.)

  2. #2 Zarquon
    August 30, 2007

    Holy Toledo!

  3. #3 hyperdeath
    August 30, 2007

    “Virtually all high school and college science text books fail to point out that literal mechanistic interpretations of nature or literal machine interpretations of life totally oppose evolution”

    In a similar vein, virtually all high school and college history text books fail to point out that Julius Caesar succeeded King Henry VIII.

  4. #4 hyperbole
    August 30, 2007

    So life cannot be mechanistic because time is reversible? Damn. That means my coffee is metaphysical too! It’s entropy is increasing as well.

  5. #5 astromcnaught
    August 30, 2007

    My “emotional intelligence uses the seven aspects of creativity to prescribe participatory dialogue” in the following manner: Methinks you’ve got it the wrong way round.

  6. #6 MartinM
    August 30, 2007

    He seems to be claiming that determinism and evolution are incompatible. Bizarre.

  7. #7 SoE
    August 30, 2007

    From his site:

    Research
    My creativity focuses on patterns of thought that transcend boundaries between disciplines. These patterns emerge from teaching interdisciplinary courses and from dialogues with diverse people.

    His creativity????

  8. #8 Branedy
    August 30, 2007

    You must be literate, to have a literal mechanistic interpretation

  9. #9 reason
    August 30, 2007

    My immediate response is a two word phrase – “Pseudointellectual drivel”. Is anybody else affected that way. Using big words, doesn’t make you clever. (Perhaps one Scandivanian OM might want to correct me on that though.)

  10. #10 reason
    August 30, 2007

    Sorry that should read .. using big words and convoluted grammar…

  11. #11 Ezekiel Buchheit
    August 30, 2007

    Mr breakfast taco representing a problemistic mechanical approach to early morning food consumption also rejects literal evolutionry theory. With it’s fried potatoes, corn, red bell pepper, and onions on a spicy tortilla, time becomes a tri-state of all possible references until I drink my coffee. And then, either way, I have to go take a shower.

  12. #12 Luna_the_cat
    August 30, 2007

    Aiee. This is a man whose brain has been chewed to pieces by postmodernism. All that’s left is postmodernist dribble.

  13. #13 Aaron
    August 30, 2007

    The end of the second paragraph sums up one of the big hurdles that liberal religion poses to atheists: equal opportunity supernaturalism. “What’s the true nature of God and the universe? Anyone might be right… except atheists, of course.” It was at my baccalaureate, and now it’s here.

    Also, can we please bring back the public pillory or something for people who invoke the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as an objection to evolution?

  14. #14 SteveF
    August 30, 2007

    According to WOS, he’s so “creative” he hasn’t bothered publishing anything since the mid 70s. His publication record consists of 12 papers from 1971 to 1975, an impressive little burst, but pretty lazy since. Most of it’s in “Cryobiology” with the odd paper elsewhere.

  15. #15 Lepht
    August 30, 2007

    my nonexistent deity, his writing sounds just like the drivel they showcased in “Intellectual Impostures”. it’s like someone showed the creationists the Postmodernist Essay Generator and told them it would save them some work.

    now, who would do something as cruel as that?

    Lepht

  16. #16 Jud
    August 30, 2007

    #14 – Hmm, cryobiology? You mean he’s not relying on “an absolute SOURCE that may be interpreted as a Creator God or ‘that Force, the spirit-that-moves-in-all-things’ (Tom Brown, Jr., advocate for American Indian spirituality) or Brahman (of Hinduism) or Emptiness (of Buddhism) or other” for eternal life?

  17. #17 jaim klein
    August 30, 2007

    This person cannot be real. University of Toledo is a serious institution. PZ has invented him to make his blog more interesting.

  18. #18 Andrew
    August 30, 2007

    You know how when you’re reading something, you sometimes skip a line or read one twice by mistake, so you develop a sort of contextual-sieve to catch it? Well mine gave me a lot of false positives reading that. I wonder if it would make any less sense if you jumbled the lines about.

  19. #19 Thinker
    August 30, 2007

    IMHO, real PoMo’s write this kind of nonsensical drivel much better than those of us with a scientific training. Even if we try hard, we can’t seem to completely let go of attempting to make our point with some kind of logic. Letting go of reason and coherent argumentation, of course, is no problem for a real PoMo.

    I’m afraid this fellow, who obviously has let go of science, but is also far from the lofty heights (or profound depths) of postmodernism, has got himself caught in a classic lose-lose situation. Sad, really…

  20. #20 Denis Castaing
    August 30, 2007

    This is Bizarre. I’m reading thru this and thinking any moment now he will drag in entropy and thermodynamics, and sure enough there it is at the end. Well, the short evidentiary statement is: Evolution has happened, evolution does happen and evolution will continue to happen into the future. So … live with it!!
    Don Pribor needs a healthy dose of talk origins.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CF/CF001.html

    DenisC

  21. #21 MartinM
    August 30, 2007

    Well, the short evidentiary statement is: Evolution has happened, evolution does happen and evolution will continue to happen into the future. So … live with it!!

    Actually, I think his ‘argument’ is actually something along the lines of ‘evolution is true, therefore God.’

  22. #22 SteveF
    August 30, 2007

    Er no, Cryobiology is a journal not a source of eternal life!

  23. #23 Barrett
    August 30, 2007

    Here’s one of his course descriptions!

    http://www.utoledo.edu/as/bio/pdfs/syllabii/1120_f_02.pdf

  24. #24 MasFina
    August 30, 2007

    And then there is the addendum. . . I want to read the “probabilistic representation of this second law involving mechanistic determinism” and figure out how it impacts anything other then this man’s drug addled fantasy world.

  25. #25 sailor
    August 30, 2007

    The following is from his personal page at Toledo University, where he is in the department of biological sciences:

    “Evolution to a vision narrative perspective for teaching-learning also became the basis of a meta-scientific theory of creativity. Besides describing ways of overcoming stress, this theory describes experiential learning and describes transformational stages of human development that may lead to “emotionally intelligent” individualism. Emotional intelligence uses the seven aspects of creativity to prescribe participatory dialogue that may lead to collaborations. I combine the above ideas with others to formulate the meta-pattern, cosmic narrative ecology.”

    It sounds like utter rubbish, it reads like utter rubbish, so it probably is utter rubish. How does a guy like this manage to hold is own in biology?

    I am reminded of a tunicate. These sea creatures start off mobile with a nervous system that gives them the intelligence they need to get around. Finally they find a good rock or piling, settle down, stop moving, and junk whatever little brains they had as they no longer need them. Someond famously remarked: “just like a professor getting tenure.”

  26. #26 Willy
    August 30, 2007

    “I combine the above ideas with others to formulate the meta-pattern, cosmic narrative ecology.”

    I think his adjective machine is broken, or perhaps he gets only the finest dro.

    I’d also hate to have him as my car repairman…”The torque transmission paradigm has shifted to a meta-cognitive, cosmic narrative resulting in your vehicle becoming positionally fixated to a space-time singularity. It’ll take about $800 to fix it.”

  27. #27 Dr. Brazen Hussy
    August 30, 2007

    His research statement reads like the randomly generated text you get in spam sometimes.

  28. #28 Moses
    August 30, 2007

    In a similar vein, virtually all high school and college history text books fail to point out that Julius Caesar succeeded King Henry VIII.

    Posted by: hyperdeath | August 30, 2007 6:23 AM

    At times like these, I wish we could give “rep”!!!

  29. #29 Greg Leo
    August 30, 2007

    Dr. BH, do you propose a literal machine interpretation of the creation of his research statement?

  30. #30 AntonGarou
    August 30, 2007

    From his research statement he looks like a classic new-ager with a biology degree.You know, one of those people who confuse science and post-modernism for some reason.Also, could someone take him aside and explain to him the meaning of “closed system” in one syllable word or something?That last remark nearly had me choking

  31. #31 csrster
    August 30, 2007

    Betcha any money, right now there are real biologists from Toledo reading this blog with their heads in their hands.

  32. #32 LM
    August 30, 2007

    I grew up in Toledo, so I can’t say that I’m surprised at all.

  33. #33 Dunc
    August 30, 2007

    Fascinating… It certainly looks like English, but I’m damned if I can make any sense of it.

    Perhaps someone should also mention that Einstein was probably the last major physicist to believe in a strictly deterministic universe. There’s this thing called Quantum Mechanics, you know…

    Oh, and the main reason machines can’t currently evolve is that they don’t reproduce

  34. #34 Elf
    August 30, 2007

    This man is allowed to teach? seriously?

  35. #35 Jeffrey Shallit
    August 30, 2007

    Go to

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=224348&page=1

    to see student comments about Pribor.

    I especially liked this one on page 2:

    “I didn’t understanding anything in the class and still got an A!”

  36. #36 Shygetz
    August 30, 2007

    Betcha any money, right now there are real biologists from Toledo reading this blog with their heads in their hands.

    After reading his personal page and course description, I think he is a testament to the strength of tenure at the University of Toledo.

  37. #37 Josh
    August 30, 2007

    cosmic narrative ecology

    Cosmic narrative ecology? Are you fucking kidding me?

  38. #38 Doby
    August 30, 2007

    After reading the syllabus for his biology course, one gets the sense that Dr. Pribor is waiting for the second Harmonic Convergence or the Annual Wind Chimes and Fruit Loops Convention. What is a “Magic Learning Cycle”?

  39. #39 Brendan S
    August 30, 2007

    Why is it that every time Creationists are on the ropes, they’re all like ‘THEISTIC EVOLUTION!’ But then they go back to trying to deny evolution exists? I think that’s the most infuriating part of this argument.

  40. #40 Hexxenhammer
    August 30, 2007

    One of these things is not like the other.

    http://www.utoledo.edu/as/bio/research.html

    The rest of the faculty seems sane.

  41. #41 Umilik
    August 30, 2007

    Here’s an interesting website that will generate a research paper for you very much like this one:

    http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/

  42. #42 The Mad Patriot
    August 30, 2007

    I’d say that essay is a load of crap, but that would be an insult to anal sphincters everywhere.

  43. #43 bob
    August 30, 2007

    One of his classes

    BIOLOGY 1120: SURVEY OF BIOLOGY

    “Unit III presents a theory of human creativity that describes how stress is a necessary condition for one becoming more mature.”

    Chapter 8 EVOLUTION TO AND REACTION AGAINST UTILITARIANISM
    Chapter 10 TRANS-PATRIARCHAL HUMAN INDIVIDUATION

    The sad thing is that he wrote the textbook himself. Reading the course information left me with two questions.
    Where is the biology, and how the hell did this guy get tenure?

  44. #44 PZ Myers
    August 30, 2007

    I rather liked the one on page 5:
    “What in the blue hell was this guy talking about and how did I get a B in it?!?”

  45. #45 Luna_the_cat
    August 30, 2007

    Doby @ #38

    …the Annual Wind Chimes and Fruit Loops Convention….

    Oh, I am SO stealing that description.

  46. #46 Jeebus
    August 30, 2007

    …these objective, narrative, evolutionary theories involving methaphorical, conceptual thinking

    (emphasis added)

    Ah, this explains a lot. Although, for all of my own crazy ideas, I much prefer potaphorical thinking.

  47. #47 minimalist
    August 30, 2007

    Jeff Shallit (#35):

    That RateMyProfessors site was depressing for so many reasons. So many students giving him positives because “it’s an easy grade”. Hell, that entire site is structured to encourage that sort of attitude, allowing students to rate by a professor’s “Easiness”! I’d hate to think how PZ gets rated…

    Some people just don’t deserve a college education.

  48. #48 CortxVortx
    August 30, 2007

    Literally, this guy is literally stuck on the word “literal.” Literally.

    What’s with “scientific thinkers”? Apparently “scientist” is too restrictive — I suppose the term includes anyone who “thinks about science.” (No reflection on John Wilkins, of course. G’die, mite!)

    Many scientific thinkers believe that any living organism as well as ecosystems literally are “nothing more than complex machines.”

    I saw a phrase similar to that in quotes in one of Henry Morris’ cretinist books, where he dismissed the omission of plants (as living organisms) from Noah’s Ark because “they are merely complex chemical replicating systems.”

    And where did Albert Einstein reject evolution?

    Terminal-phase recto-cranial inversion. Take Basket Weaving 101 instead.

    — CV

  49. #49 Mike P
    August 30, 2007

    Evil, PZ. My brain can’t handle the PoMo so early in the morning. It craves logic and structure and routine and copious amounts of coffee, not a deconstruction of reality offensive to the English language.

  50. #50 Vjatcheslav
    August 30, 2007

    He’s clearly a pomo, or, if you like this description more, totally nuts. He thinks that a physicist (Einstein) knows exactly what biology, especially evolution, is about.

  51. #51 Ethyl
    August 30, 2007

    Thinker @ #19 wrote:
    “IMHO, real PoMo’s write this kind of nonsensical drivel much better than those of us with a scientific training. Even if we try hard, we can’t seem to completely let go of attempting to make our point with some kind of logic.”

    Obviously you’ve never heard of Alan Sokal!

  52. #52 phil
    August 30, 2007

    There’s a reason University of Toledo is often referred to “Bancroft High” (btw: the offical address is on Bancroft Street).

    [note bene: I lived in Toledo for six years, and during that time had occasion to deal with some of UToledo’s Information Technology students as they interned at my company. Those students were roughly the same quality as this professor.]

  53. #53 paul
    August 30, 2007

    It seems to me that many of these antievolution types simply do not compute heredity.

  54. #54 frank
    August 30, 2007

    As Planck said, “Science makes progress funeral by funeral.” This guy got his degree in 1964, which means that science will progress by retirement, fairly soon. We can only hope.

  55. #55 IanR
    August 30, 2007

    Thanks Jeffrey (#35) for the RateMyProfessors link. It’s really quite a damning indictment of his approach to biology when students say that you failed to prepare them to go further in the subject. Really sad too.

    I also noticed that his PhD is from 1964? That would put him 5-10 years past retirement age. It’s one thing when great teachers stay past retirement, or outstanding researchers stay on the job. But if you’re that bad…give someone else a chance (there are hundred of us banging on the door).

  56. #56 Saber
    August 30, 2007

    I get the overwhelming impression that Prof. Pribor has been phoning it in for so long that even he can’t tell the shit from the shineola.

  57. #57 Stephen
    August 30, 2007

    Anyone notice the grading scheme on that syllabus of his?

    “First, multiple choice exam worth 14.28% final grade
    Second, multiple choice exam (worth 28.57% final grade)
    Third, multiple choice exam (worth 42.85% final grade)
    Final Exam Objective, short answer questions exam (worth 14.28% final grade)”

    Adds up to 99.98%. If you can’t grade with whole-numbers of percents, you’re a loony.

  58. #58 Matt Penfold
    August 30, 2007

    I found PZ’s entry in “Rate My Professor”:

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=123513

    It seems his students like him, think his tests are hard, apart from one student he thinks he is too smart.

  59. #59 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    August 30, 2007

    The author, Don Pribor, is a member of the biology faculty at the University of Toledo.

    Someone has to say it, so I will.

    Suck it, Salem Hypothesis!

  60. #60 pdiddysl
    August 30, 2007

    Naive me….I never realized there were actual “post-modernist” scientists, at least not to this degree. Maybe we need to cut prof a little slack. He obviously attended college during the 60’s and the drugs affected his brain in a very unusual way.

  61. #61 JasonG
    August 30, 2007

    “Evolution to a vision narrative perspective for teaching-learning also became the basis of a meta-scientific theory of creativity.”

    Kudos to anyone who can diagram that sentence!

  62. #62 Peter Ashby
    August 30, 2007

    see this is the problem with science. People like this idiot have tenure and a salary while people who would do proper research with that salary are stuck as postdocs or give up. Little wonder that a lot of us have given up. Science has long ceased to be a meritocracy.

  63. #63 Greg
    August 30, 2007

    The question remains for Dr. Pribor, is that if figurative organic accretion theory actualizes the mechanical vicissitudes present in literal evolutionary interpretation, then it is probable that through derivation of mechanistic theory, time elision is possible. While this does not impose a Creator God theory, we can suppose that the permutations of cosmic variables may produce a Noodly God (of Pastafarianism), or a Pink Unicorn.

    (For those of you higher than me in the autism spectrum, that was parody.)

  64. #64 John Pieret
    August 30, 2007

    Okay, he seems to be making some sort of argument to the effect that many (some? one?) scientists hold to deterministic mechanism, whereby the entire history of the universe was decided at the Big Bang. That is, if you know the direction and velocity of every particle in the universe at any point, you can, with sufficient computational power, know exactly what will happen in the future by simply working out the interactions of those particles. That’s actually a position some not-crazy people hold. (It was, if memory serves, Stephen Hawking who proposed the business of time being reversible if the universe is oscillating between big bangs and “big crunches,” though he later changed his mind.)

    Of course, Pribor isn’t saying why such mechanism is contrary to evolution, which isn’t exactly dependant on there being anything more to it than that selection and drift play roles in the various forces affecting the direction and velocity of the underlying particles. He doesn’t even note that the kind of process that he describes as “some mathematical formalism that unfolds” was the original meaning of the term “evolution,” which leads me to suspect he doesn’t really know much about the history of the philosophy of science.

    He is certainly inarticulate. Whether that is just a cover for incoherence would take wading through and interpreting too much jargon to make it worthwhile.

  65. #65 Inoculated Mind
    August 30, 2007

    Holy frijoles, Speedy! It’s a giant Enchilada!

  66. #66 frog
    August 30, 2007

    This is why I hate postmodernism. Why couldn’t we just stick with Dada, and leave it at that?

  67. #67 Dahan
    August 30, 2007

    If one of my art/design foundations students came to me spouting as much postmodern drivel as this guy does I’d be embarrassed for them and try to help them. What to feel and do about this guy?

  68. #68 Steve
    August 30, 2007

    In other news, curious blue ideas sleep furiously. Just because a series of symbols conforms to the grammar, syntax, etc. of a language does not mean that those symbols express something meaningful. They may just be marks on a cyber-page. Of course, I simply may not engage in enough participatory dialog to wrap my creativity around the meta-pattern cosmic narrative ecology.

  69. #69 Scott Hatfield, OM
    August 30, 2007

    His book (PDF file above) seems to be a curious amalgam of concepts from anthropology, psychology, physiology and philosophy: there’s science content in there, but the pattern of narrative suggested by the table of contents is neither historical or empirical. It’s a belief system, a personal synthesis that may have some interesting features, but it’s a belief system nonetheless being taught as a science course.

    Thus, the following inescapable conclusion:

    Beliefs aren’t science. Teaching beliefs as science is a form of pseudoscience. He’s a crackpot.

  70. #70 Dustin
    August 30, 2007

    Machines cannot evolve; only open non-machine systems far from equilibrium can evolve.

    Molecules are machines that compute thermodynamics problems, so I’m not really sure what he’s going on about. I’m also not sure what he means by reversing time, but I think he’s trying to say that machines can’t be invariant under time reversal. That’s certainly new news to my skillet, which is a machine for computing egg frying problems. That’s my best guess — I actually don’t know what he’s trying to get at, and I don’t think that’s my fault.

  71. #71 Dustin
    August 30, 2007

    Let’s try that again.

    I’m also not sure what he means by reversing time, but I think he’s trying to say that machines must be invariant under time reversal.

  72. #72 Joshua Zelinsky
    August 30, 2007

    Other comments from RateMyProfessors about Pribor include “if you need an easy science credit, and don’t need to continue to other Bio classes, take him. If your required multiple Bio classes, don’t take him. He is an easy grade, but not much on science. He doesn’t teach Biology… its Priborology” (ellipsis in the original). Another one reports that “This professor was very unclear. This class is a glorified philosophy class with biology undertones. If you are looking for biology straight up and nothing else, this is not the class nor the professor for you. He does, however, curve test score insanely high so it is apparently difficult to fail. Biased and pointless, his beliefs, not fact.” My favorite is the one who says that “He gives you 100% on the paper if you make it the right length”. There appears to be a consensus in the comments that his class was closer to philosophy than biology and that it was a waste of time if one wanted to learn anything. I’ve heard of bad tenure decisions but this is appalling.

  73. #73 Dan
    August 30, 2007

    Albert Einstein, representing mechanistic science, was smart enough to realize that the mechanistic perspective rejects the possibility of evolution. He, like most mechanistic thinkers, believed that the universe literally has a definite structure, represented by some mathematical formalism that unfolds – rather than evolves – in a predetermined way.

    OK, but it didn’t it turn out that Einstein and the physical mechanists were kind of, well, wrong about all that?

    Quantum mechanics, don’tcha know.

  74. #74 Dustin
    August 30, 2007

    RateMyProfessors

    That is an amazingly stupid website for impossibly stupid people.

  75. #75 Ginger Yellow
    August 30, 2007

    The only appropriate response to silly entropic arguments like this is:

    One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.

  76. #76 demallien
    August 30, 2007

    Greg @62

    Nah, you just don’t cut it. You used a 2 syllable word, ‘suppose’, when there is a perfectly good 4 syllable word available – ‘postulate’.

    Not. Good. Enough. PoMo license denied!

  77. #77 Blader
    August 30, 2007

    #71–Reminds me of the math professor I once had who offered a course on non-parametric statistics, which turned out to be a semester worth of lectures on some arcane computer language he was in to. An absolute waste of fucking time.

  78. #78 sailor
    August 30, 2007

    Thanks Jeffrey (#35) for the link. The student ratings are wonderful – better commentary than ours, but then that is fair, they suffered him longer.
    My favorite is:
    I am thankful for this class. It’s a science credit that is a philosophy class. I didn’t understanding anything in the class and still got an A! Highly recommend for those needing a science credit!

  79. #79 Gray Lensman
    August 30, 2007

    Say wha’?

  80. #80 Dustin
    August 30, 2007

    That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.

    Damn, the thing would probably have to have a luminosity of something like 10^28 W, even. Like, maybe a large nuclear furnace in the sky. Evolutionists are rediculous — they imagine mythical balls of hydrogen and helium as a substitute for God.

  81. #81 Thony C.
    August 30, 2007

    For all of those whose comments include remarks about Einstein being wrong on determinism, you don’t actually think that Mr Toledo Crackpot’s quote has anything at all to do with anything that Einstein ever thought or wrote, do you?

    Also just for the record Niels Bohr is on record as saying that Einsetin probably contributed more, through his sharp analysis and penetrating critic, to the development of quantum mechanics than any other single scientist. Nothing promotes the advance of science more than having one of the best brains on the planet finding the weak spots and poking holes in your theories!

  82. #82 i, squub`
    August 30, 2007

    Wow. “He is so smart it’s hard to understand what he’s saying,” says some poor student.

  83. #83 Frac
    August 30, 2007

    His research statement is interesting. In my experience with paragraphs like those, the term “meta” can almost always be safely replaced with “insane”.

  84. #84 Graculus
    August 30, 2007

    That is, if you know the direction and velocity of every particle in the universe at any point, you can, with sufficient computational power, know exactly what will happen in the future by simply working out the interactions of those particles.

    No, you couldn’t, because you’d need more information than just the direction and velocity. If you had enough information then you (technically) could predict every damned thing, but the amount of information you would have to collect is (technically) infinite, so you’d still be collecting information when the universe ended.

    And PZ has a zero Hotness rating. I find it hard to believe that *none* of his students like tentacles.

  85. #85 Sivi Volk
    August 30, 2007

    Man, this reminds me of http://www.timecube.com/, with better formatting.

  86. #86 Dustin
    August 30, 2007

    I love that “easiness” rating. Takes me back to when students of mine would ask who the easiest professor was for the following section. My answers varied from, “Why don’t you save us all some trouble and drop out now?” to giving them the name of the hardest professor on the list.

    I do hate engineering students. I hate them so much.

  87. #87 Mike P
    August 30, 2007

    demallien (#75),

    “Postulate” has three syllables! Math license denied! 🙂

  88. #88 Bob L
    August 30, 2007

    literal mechanistic interpretations of nature

    He just said “fundamentalist atheist”, didn’t he?

  89. #89 Curt Cameron
    August 30, 2007

    Pribor should get extra crank points for first denying entropy (the reversible time thing), then attempting to use entropy to support his argument at the end.

    It’s pretty hard to believe that this is real.

  90. #90 eyesoars
    August 30, 2007

    Are we sure this guy isn’t a dadaist art professor who was accidentally translocated?

    Or possibly the addled offspring of a dadaist and a postmodernist?

    Must have been some pretty low standards for tenure back then…

  91. #91 Keanus
    August 30, 2007

    Not to pile on, but I think the DI should recruit Pribor as their next rising-star fellow. He could pen a better Wedge Document and confuse the hell out of everyone. But boy would he snow everyone with BS. Can you imagine him in the witness box of a Federal Court? The opposing attorney would tear his hair out and the judge would need a recess every three minutes to regain his composure.

  92. #92 John Pieret
    August 30, 2007

    Graculus:

    If you had enough information then you (technically) could predict every damned thing, but the amount of information you would have to collect is (technically) infinite, so you’d still be collecting information when the universe ended.

    For the philosophical point, it is irrelevant whether humans could ever attain the goal (or exactly what kind of information you’d need to do so). The point of determinism is that all choice is illusionary and we’re just playing out an “existence” predestined from the moment of the Big Bang. Other not-crazy people deny that the universe is deterministic in that sense.

  93. #93 cm
    August 30, 2007

    This man is now a walking example of the downside of the tenure system. Is there no clause in the tenure process that says if a professor goes completely off the rails that he can be re-evaluated and possibly fired? (sure there’s a worry of a slippery slope there, but there must be some kind of breaking point).

    People who worked incredibly hard in real biology labs and struggled to get it right, people who are clear and careful communicators, fair graders, and care about biology are struggling to get tenure-track positions..and this man is allowed to “teach”? That is wrong.

  94. #94 Interrobang
    August 30, 2007

    Reading the comments on these sorts of threads always amuses me to no end. You hard-science folks’ reactions to stuff like this practically crack me up.

    Without commentary on the truth or falsity of the statements in question, he’s basically saying:

    1) A literal interpretation of the mechanistic fallacy as used in science (as a trope, ferchrissakes; it’s the pedagogical equivalent of a literary device) excludes evolution as a possiblility;

    2) A lot of scientists (seem to) use/rely on a strict reading of the mechanistic fallacy.

    I don’t see where he’s either endorsing the mechanistic fallacy’s being used as a trope (or an analogy, if you like that better, since explaining biological or physical things in terms of “machines” to people who’ve grown up around machines makes a lot of sense) or making the argument that all scientists make this kind of classification error. He seems to be proposing studying the question.

    Actually, given how many creationist engineers/computer scientists etc. there are who really do seem to view natural things as literal machines that had to have been built by someone, that’s a damn good question. How many people do make the category error of viewing things in mechanistic terms when they shouldn’t? I bet it’s a lot more than some people think, dismally enough.

    You people moaning about “postmodernism” would absolutely choke if you had to write a graduate-level paper on Lacan, if you think this shit is difficult and/or incomprehensible, jeez. Remember that stuff about “target audience”? In this case, I suspect most of the problem is you ain’t it

  95. #95 skyotter
    August 30, 2007

    i stopped reading at “(not published)” after the title. purely a defense mechanism, i assure you

  96. #96 The Enlightenment is Angry
    August 30, 2007

    Interrobang,

    Why should we ever have to write something about Lacan? Freud is played out. Some real scientists like Chomsky and Alan Sokal have pointed out that Lacan liked to use the big science-y words without really understanding them.

    There’s also something to be said for clarity in writing. It’s entirely possible to deconstruct reality–or whatever you PoMo freaks are up to now that Derrida’s dead–without abusing the English language within an inch of its life.

  97. #97 fusilier
    August 30, 2007

    This is why I left home for college.

    I grew up in Toledo, and graduated from St. Francis de Sales HS, which is about 8-10 blocks from TU. As another poster mentioned, TU was often referred to as “Bancroft High.” We were really upset when somebody called US by that name.

    Almost forgot: back in 1964-65, when I took general biology, the priest who taught us insisted we understand evolutionary theory (as appropriate to a bunch of testosterone-sodden 15-year-olds.)

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  98. #98 HereComesEverybody
    August 30, 2007

    This guy is probably schizophrenic but got tenured before he decomensated. I feel sorry for him, sorry for his students and sorry for his colleagues.

  99. #99 Dahan
    August 30, 2007

    Interrobang #93

    I would choke if I had to write a graduate-level paper on Lacan? Well mister-man. I do happen to have a MFA, from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, in which in my thesis I did talk about Lacan, Delueze, Guattari, and many other who espouse some of the same thinking. I have read most of the stuff of theirs on their topics and have come to the conclusion that pretty much everything they are saying is bullsh*t. Apparently my thesis review committee agreed. So don’t try to hand down that crap about all us “hard-science folks'” not getting it. You’re sadly ignorant if you think that the views here are of just hard core scientists who don’t know anti-modernism from post-modernism or Derrida from Lyotard.

  100. #100 Angry Professor
    August 30, 2007

    I think we’ve found the poster child for tenure review.

  101. #101 Ginger Yellow
    August 30, 2007

    “The point of determinism is that all choice is illusionary and we’re just playing out an “existence” predestined from the moment of the Big Bang.”

    And others (ie Dennett)argue that we may or may not “just” be playing out a predetermined existence, but in a very real sense that doesn’t mean choice is illusory. It just means that free floating “will”, somehow unaffected by ordinary causality, is illusory, which I think most of us can agree on.

  102. #102 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    This Gish gallop message fisks itself with its pomo drivel, but it seems someone wants to give me a special reason to have some fun.

    Pribor is “literally” stuck on some key words for example Laplace’s mechanistic universe. Seems he has missed the later problem of discovering non-integrable systems like chaotic ones. It makes some classical deterministic systems more unpredictive than pure quantum systems.

    If Einstein has commented on biology, which I doubt, he would have no problem to align it with his belief in fundamental theories. What he would have a problem with would be the opposite, at least within his general relativity. People use different energy conditions to extract information out of GR, but there is no global energy expression that predicts a unique solution. So much for large-scale “definitive structure”.

    Often these thinkers fail to realize that strict mechanistic theories, which imply among other things that time is reversible, oppose literal machine interpretations of life, which imply that time is irreversible.

    Even if this is utterly wrong, it actually makes a limited sense. Time reversal is in principle permitted. (By non-parity breaking CPT invariance, to be precise.) And a few theories allow formally interpreting fundamental particles as going back in time.

    But this breaks down already for non-fundamental composite particles with dipole moments(like protons, for example). This is but one of several arrows of time which enforces irreversibility. Another is the entropic arrow, which is the one a “machine” such as a computer are subjected to. Every operation which needs reading or writing a memory means having to get rid of entropy, so such calculations are irreversible.

    So Pribor happily “forgets” that deterministic theories are subjected to time arrows, then tries to imply that biology and evolution are different. Ironic, since he in the rest of that paragraph turns around to claim that machines aren’t evolvable because they aren’t open, using entropy to work.

    But unfortunately for Pribor, biology is as natural as phenomena comes with respect to irreversibility and entropy.

    And since no one seems to have mentioned it yet, genetic algorithms is a counterexample to Pribor’s assertion that “machines” can’t evolve. Pribor invents magical barriers where there are none.

  103. #103 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    This Gish gallop message fisks itself with its pomo drivel, but it seems someone wants to give me a special reason to have some fun.

    Pribor is “literally” stuck on some key words for example Laplace’s mechanistic universe. Seems he has missed the later problem of discovering non-integrable systems like chaotic ones. It makes some classical deterministic systems more unpredictive than pure quantum systems.

    If Einstein has commented on biology, which I doubt, he would have no problem to align it with his belief in fundamental theories. What he would have a problem with would be the opposite, at least within his general relativity. People use different energy conditions to extract information out of GR, but there is no global energy expression that predicts a unique solution. So much for large-scale “definitive structure”.

    Often these thinkers fail to realize that strict mechanistic theories, which imply among other things that time is reversible, oppose literal machine interpretations of life, which imply that time is irreversible.

    Even if this is utterly wrong, it actually makes a limited sense. Time reversal is in principle permitted. (By non-parity breaking CPT invariance, to be precise.) And a few theories allow formally interpreting fundamental particles as going back in time.

    But this breaks down already for non-fundamental composite particles with dipole moments(like protons, for example). This is but one of several arrows of time which enforces irreversibility. Another is the entropic arrow, which is the one a “machine” such as a computer are subjected to. Every operation which needs reading or writing a memory means having to get rid of entropy, so such calculations are irreversible.

    So Pribor happily “forgets” that deterministic theories are subjected to time arrows, then tries to imply that biology and evolution are different. Ironic, since he in the rest of that paragraph turns around to claim that machines aren’t evolvable because they aren’t open, using entropy to work.

    But unfortunately for Pribor, biology is as natural as phenomena comes with respect to irreversibility and entropy.

    And since no one seems to have mentioned it yet, genetic algorithms is a counterexample to Pribor’s assertion that “machines” can’t evolve. Pribor invents magical barriers where there are none.

  104. #104 Alan
    August 30, 2007

    #95: i stopped reading at “(not published)” after the title. purely a defense mechanism, i assure you

    This was actually written as a Letter to the Editor for the Toledo Blade that is yet to be published, thus, the “not published”.

    To #52 & #97:

    I also grew up in Toledo and am a current student at UT and have never heard the term “Bancroft High”. Let’s not let one kook sully the name of a good university with a very highly regarded engineering program, law school, and medical school (along with the rest of the health science campus). Apparently you forgot to keep up with the university when you left town.

  105. #105 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    This Gish gallop message fisks itself with its pomo drivel, but it seems someone wants to give me a special reason to have some fun.

    Pribor is “literally” stuck on some key words for example Laplace’s mechanistic universe. Seems he has missed the problem of non-integrable systems like chaotic ones. It makes some classical deterministic systems more unpredictive than pure quantum systems.

    If Einstein has commented on biology, which I doubt, he would have no problem to align it with his belief in fundamental theories. What he would have a problem with would be the opposite, at least within his general relativity. People use different energy conditions to extract information out of GR, but there is no global energy expression that predicts a unique solution. So much for large-scale “definitive structure”.

  106. #106 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    This Gish gallop message fisks itself with its pomo drivel, but it seems someone wants to give me a special reason to have some fun.

    Pribor is “literally” stuck on some key words for example Laplace’s mechanistic universe. Seems he has missed the problem of non-integrable systems like chaotic ones. It makes some classical deterministic systems more unpredictive than pure quantum systems.

    If Einstein has commented on biology, which I doubt, he would have no problem to align it with his belief in fundamental theories. What he would have a problem with would be the opposite, at least within his general relativity. People use different energy conditions to extract information out of GR, but there is no global energy expression that predicts a unique solution. So much for large-scale “definitive structure”.

  107. #107 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    Cont. due to the many links:

    Often these thinkers fail to realize that strict mechanistic theories, which imply among other things that time is reversible, oppose literal machine interpretations of life, which imply that time is irreversible.

    Even if this is utterly wrong, it actually makes a limited sense. Time reversal is in principle permitted. (By non-parity breaking CPT invariance, to be precise.) And a few theories allow formally interpreting fundamental particles as going back in time.

    But this breaks down already for non-fundamental composite particles with dipole moments(like protons, for example). This is but one of several arrows of time which enforces irreversibility. Another is the entropic arrow, which is the one a “machine” such as a computer are subjected to. Every operation which needs reading or writing a memory means having to get rid of entropy, so such calculations are irreversible.

    So Pribor happily “forgets” that deterministic theories are subjected to time arrows, then tries to imply that biology and evolution are different. Ironic, since he in the rest of that paragraph turns around to claim that machines aren’t evolvable because they aren’t open, using entropy to work. [While I wrote this overly long comment, Curt Cameron made the same point in comment #89.]

    But unfortunately for Pribor, biology is as natural as phenomena comes with respect to irreversibility and entropy.

    And since no one seems to have mentioned it yet, genetic algorithms is a counterexample to Pribor’s assertion that “machines” can’t evolve. Pribor invents magical barriers where there are none.

  108. #108 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    Cont. due to the many links:

    Often these thinkers fail to realize that strict mechanistic theories, which imply among other things that time is reversible, oppose literal machine interpretations of life, which imply that time is irreversible.

    Even if this is utterly wrong, it actually makes a limited sense. Time reversal is in principle permitted. (By non-parity breaking CPT invariance, to be precise.) And a few theories allow formally interpreting fundamental particles as going back in time.

    But this breaks down already for non-fundamental composite particles with dipole moments(like protons, for example). This is but one of several arrows of time which enforces irreversibility. Another is the entropic arrow, which is the one a “machine” such as a computer are subjected to. Every operation which needs reading or writing a memory means having to get rid of entropy, so such calculations are irreversible.

    So Pribor happily “forgets” that deterministic theories are subjected to time arrows, then tries to imply that biology and evolution are different. Ironic, since he in the rest of that paragraph turns around to claim that machines aren’t evolvable because they aren’t open, using entropy to work. [While I wrote this overly long comment, Curt Cameron made the same point in comment #89.]

    But unfortunately for Pribor, biology is as natural as phenomena comes with respect to irreversibility and entropy.

    And since no one seems to have mentioned it yet, genetic algorithms is a counterexample to Pribor’s assertion that “machines” can’t evolve. Pribor invents magical barriers where there are none.

  109. #109 J Daley
    August 30, 2007

    I have read most of the stuff of theirs on their topics and have come to the conclusion that pretty much everything they are saying is bullsh*t. Apparently my thesis review committee agreed.

    PWNED!

    Seriously, though, this post, combined with the post about the Nature article, makes me sigh. Why is it going to be so difficult for us to join the ranks of academia? Ohm, right, (in part) because the cranks are all tenured.

  110. #110 uncle frogy
    August 30, 2007

    1964? that was a very interesting time if I’m not mistaken, there were some interesting “experiments” and studies taking place at some famous universities back then having to do with certain drugs and perception Harvard being one of them (Leary and Alpert studies into LSD). I wonder if the Professor was involved in any of them?

    I always wondered what kind on science classes business majors and “political science” (what is political science anyway?) majors and others take for an easy grade. does explain a lot of the difficulties in explaining any science concepts to none scientists. I do hope that he is one of the worst examples and not an average bad prof.

  111. #111 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    John Pieret:

    For the philosophical point,

    Clearly Pribor addresses science (“scientific thinking”), where determinism has another and often operational meaning, such as causality or irreversibility.

    Interrobang:

    I think the illusion that Pribor hasn’t an agenda falls long before reading his creationist “Addition” on the 2LOT.

  112. #112 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 30, 2007

    John Pieret:

    For the philosophical point,

    Clearly Pribor addresses science (“scientific thinking”), where determinism has another and often operational meaning, such as causality or irreversibility.

    Interrobang:

    I think the illusion that Pribor hasn’t an agenda falls long before reading his creationist “Addition” on the 2LOT.

  113. #113 Sonja
    August 30, 2007

    The original, classical version of the second Law of Thermodynamics and the classical, probabilistic representation of this second law involving mechanistic determinism deny the possibility of evolution.

    Now I only have a high school understanding of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, but from what I remember order can be created in areas of the universe as long as energy is added into that area. For example, I can expend energy to clean my house so that, inside my little bungalow, there is a semblance of order. I get that energy from eating food (which ultimately derives its energy from the sun). Eventually me and my house will turn to dust in spite of my best efforts, but presumably, there will be future generations of people to build and clean their houses.

    Therefore, Pribor would be correct if all living creatures stopped consuming food and reproducing. If that happened, the 2nd Law would apply and evolution would stop.

  114. #114 Leon
    August 30, 2007

    I have not seen any public discussion of how many scientific thinkers believe in a literal interpretation of varies scientific theories that also denies evolution.

    Ahem, that should be “various”.

  115. #115 ZorkFox
    August 30, 2007

    That shit doesn’t even parse as English. It’s more like Gobbledygook. …You know what I mean; goblins speak it.

    My brain is still reeling.

  116. #116 dAVE
    August 30, 2007

    So, does this mean that pomo crackpots who throw the word “quantum” around in their nonsense – are in some sense less wrong than this guy?

  117. #117 Pieter B
    August 30, 2007

    If you had enough information then you (technically) could predict every damned thing, but the amount of information you would have to collect is (technically) infinite, so you’d still be collecting information when the universe ended.

    “Carefully, AC organized the program. The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done. And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” And there was light.”

  118. #118 fusilier
    August 30, 2007

    Alan (#102)
    I’m sure that Dr. Pribor is not representative of the institution, and the University’s reputation has improved over the decades.

    It is unfortunately the case that “Bancroft High” is still the current nickname, at least according to some nieces who chose to go elsewhere within the past few years.

    Just FYI, TU does not have a med school. That institution is “The Medical College of Ohio.”

  119. #119 Will Von Wizzlepig
    August 30, 2007

    That guy’s nonsensical research statement reminded me of the postmodern essay generator:

    http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo

  120. #120 Arnosium Upinarum
    August 30, 2007

    Luna_the_Cat says, “Aiee. This is a man whose brain has been chewed to pieces by postmodernism. All that’s left is postmodernist dribble.”

    Indeed, this is yet another fine example of 1. how religion muddles rational thinking by the necessity of accepting stupendous inconsistencies and incongruities because of a blind and utterly inflexible adherence to faith, and 2. how muddled thinkers rely on “post-ism” talk to get by. (Or so they “THINK”). The “postmodernist dribble” is all they’ve got to make their act look good…except its not a good act to begin with. It’s a fake act.

    Torbjörn Larsson says, “So Pribor happily “forgets” that deterministic theories are subjected to time arrows…”

    I know its a quibble, but I don’t think he forgot anything. He’s simply (if spectacularly) ignorant. Ignorant people can’t forget what they never knew, and have a tendency to preserve their ignorance by ignoring information that would make them less so.

    Otherwise, you’re right on with the points in your comments. What amazes me as well is the INTERNAL INCONSISTENCY in what he says, which Pribor seems utterly oblivious of. He’s a fake, even if he ISN’T aware of it.

  121. #121 Zarquon
    August 30, 2007

    OK what I don’t understand is how the University of Toledo can allow Pribor to offer and teach any courses. This guy’s nonsense shouldn’t be allowed to be offered because it’s not teaching anything. Surely the University has a responsibility to vet his course’s content?
    Even if he can’t be fired, his teaching should have to meet academic standards.

  122. #122 David Marjanovi?
    August 30, 2007

    Is there no clause in the tenure process that says if a professor goes completely off the rails that he can be re-evaluated and possibly fired?

    In France, the joke goes, if you’re tenured, you can only be fired if you kill your boss, his wife, and their children.

  123. #123 David Marjanovi?
    August 30, 2007

    Is there no clause in the tenure process that says if a professor goes completely off the rails that he can be re-evaluated and possibly fired?

    In France, the joke goes, if you’re tenured, you can only be fired if you kill your boss, his wife, and their children.

  124. #124 dwarf zebu
    August 30, 2007

    Also, can we please bring back the public pillory or something for people who invoke the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as an objection to evolution?

    Or, at least the stocks.

    Some people just don’t deserve a college education.

    After working at administering the off-duty education program in the USAF for 4 years, I came to the conclusion that any schmuck with enough time and money can buy a degree. That was just from dealing with the officers, mind.

  125. #125 PennyBright
    August 30, 2007

    As schools go , Toledo is a bit of a lightweight. They’ve got their share of kooks on staff — you should listen to the dreck that gets floated at faculty get-togethers. God knows I’ve heard enough of it. I’m not surprised that someone from UT would be saying this like this. (caveat – I am not on faculty at UT, but I lived with a faculty member for years)

    And the medical school associated with UT is now UT-MUO — the University of Toledo Medical University of Ohio. They’ve always been associated with UT, but recently merged more closely (no more separate unions), and upgraded from college to university through expanding their programs. They were a good school – the MUO hospital is a level 1 trauma center, and a leading hospital in transplant and re-attachment research. I hope that the closer association with UT doesn’t damage the quality of the med school.

  126. #126 Jim R Wallaby
    August 30, 2007

    Consider yoiurselves lucky he’s a biology lecturer. Think of the damage he could cause to international understanding were he an English teacher.

  127. #127 silchan
    August 30, 2007

    “Virtually all high school and college science text books fail to point out that literal mechanistic interpretations of nature or literal machine interpretations of life totally oppose evolution”

    Ironically, virtually all holy books fail to point out that literal interpretations of their passages or literal interpretation of their scientific value totally oppose reality.

  128. #128 ArtK
    August 30, 2007

    I wonder if his “research statement” was written by a committee. It has all the hallmarks of a group-written “mission statement” or “corporate vision.” Lots of buzzwords without an ounce of meaning.

  129. #129 fardels bear
    August 30, 2007

    I’m sure you all can spot the fallacious reasoning in the following syllogism:

    Pomo is drivel
    Pribor is drivel.

    Therefore: Pribor is Pomo.

    I don’t see anyone on this thread who claims that Pribor is a postmodernist doing anything but committing the above fallacy.

    If someone could please explain what this poor demented soul’s writings have to do with postmodernism, I’d be much obliged. And be sure to explain how Pribor invoking narrative can be a postmodernist since narrative is usually considered premodern. But, I’m sure the experts here can cite chapter-and-verse all the postmodernist work that invokes narrativity.

  130. #130 Drekab
    August 30, 2007

    Anyone notice the grading scheme on that syllabus of his?

    “First, multiple choice exam worth 14.28% final grade
    Second, multiple choice exam (worth 28.57% final grade)
    Third, multiple choice exam (worth 42.85% final grade)
    Final Exam Objective, short answer questions exam (worth 14.28% final grade)”

    Adds up to 99.98%. If you can’t grade with whole-numbers of percents, you’re a loony.

    It’s not all bad.
    1st test: 1/7 total grade
    2nd test: 2/7 total grade
    3rd test: 3/7 total grade
    Final: 1/7 total grade

    actually, if he had rounded properly and called 1/7 14.29% instead of 14.28% it would have added up to exactly 100.00% which is kind of neat. Had I gone to Toledo U I would have been pretty tempted by this class. Paying some guy to talk crazy at you for an hour a day for a couple months just sounds worth it somehow.

  131. #131 Alan Kellogg
    August 30, 2007

    #124 fardels bear

    When it looks like post-modernism, waddles like post-modernism, and quacks like post-modernism there aint much chance it’s Eddie van Halen at Walmart.

    Either that, or Pribor is experiencing the degradation of mental functioning attendant upon a rare cognitive disorder.

  132. #132 Alan
    August 30, 2007

    fusilier (#114):

    FYI, UT does have a med school. UT and MUO (formerly MCO) merged and what used to be MUO is officially the University of Toledo Health Science Campus.

  133. #133 Kimpatsu
    August 30, 2007

    @Hyperbole:
    What does “IT IS entropy is increasing…” mean, anyway?

  134. #134 cm
    August 31, 2007

    Had I gone to Toledo U I would have been pretty tempted by this class. Paying some guy to talk crazy at you for an hour a day for a couple months just sounds worth it somehow.

    It does sound kind of relaxing. Maybe this is why the course is about reducing stress?

  135. #135 demallien
    August 31, 2007

    Mike P (#87)

    hehe! Or at least my license to type 🙂 I managed to miss the ‘3’ key not once, but twice in that post (Greg was post 63, not 62).

  136. #136 Arnosium Upinarum
    August 31, 2007

    #124 fardels bear has a problem with a “syllogism” that he identifies, but that doesn’t actually exist.

    THEN, he says, “If someone could please explain what this poor demented soul’s writings have to do with postmodernism, I’d be much obliged.”

    Ok. Since you aren’t able to grok it, his vomitings have nothing to do with it besides the fact that he employs the same verbiage with as little effect as those who think postmodernism is an authentic entity do.

    Anybody who seriously uses the term “postmodern” is seriously insane. Its a bullshit word, coined by bullshit artists posing as academically elevated morons. Get it now?

    Either a thing is MODERN, or its not. Where the FUCK does the “post” prefix come in as anything even remotely meaningful? No, don’t bother lecturing us on the crap behind it. Its GARBAGE. Its CRAP. Many of us are way past fed up with it.

  137. #137 Dave
    August 31, 2007

    There are many fields in which the term ‘postmodern’, and particularly ‘postmodernist’, has a specific, technical meaning – the evolution of styles in twentieth-century architecture, for example, or indeed the American novel. Much ‘poststructuralism’ which is often conflated with postmodernism has a component of deliberate, almost insulting density, and is based on highly dubious underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions, but your argument that “Either a thing is MODERN, or its not” begs the very question it attempts to answer – unless we are always content to assume that the full connotation of every word is equal, and only equal, to its definition in a pocket dictionary.

  138. #138 f
    August 31, 2007

    Gosh, Arnosium Upinarum (#132), with cogent arguments like that, how could I ever doubt that folks around here don’t know exactly what they are talking about regarding postmodernism? Nothing like a howl of rage instead of intellectual content to put me in my place.

    Alan Kellogg (#126): My point was Pribor’s writing does not look like postmodernism and I asked folks who claim it is to explain why they make such a claim. Y’all don’t like postmodernism, yeah, I get that. But I also suspect, given what has been posted that most folks who claim to despise it have no idea what it is. Arnosium Upinarum’s claim that Pribor uses the “same verbiage” as postmodernists seems to corroborate my suspicion that s/he, at least, has no idea what s/he’s talking about.

  139. #139 mark
    August 31, 2007

    How soon can we expect to see him on public tv fund raisers?

  140. #140 Arnosium Upinarum
    August 31, 2007

    Dave, #132 says, “your argument that “Either a thing is MODERN, or its not” begs the very question it attempts to answer.

    Um, do you really see a QUESTION in there, through that foggy postmodernist mind of yours?

    “Specific, technical meanings” my ass. In truth, the word (and others of its ilk) has a connotation that is entirely SUBJECTIVE-INTERPRETIVE. Its an unecessary category nonsense that I and millions of others happily subsist without, and still manage to sound reasonably bright. Its interminable use is like a bad joke. But its users get to sound very academically posh, so it persists.

    MR. “f” #133 says, “Gosh…with cogent arguments like that, how could I ever doubt that folks around here don’t know exactly what they are talking about regarding postmodernism? Nothing like a howl of rage instead of intellectual content to put me in my place.”

    First, I don’t care a flying fardel about “your place”.

    Second, I reserve my “howls of rage” against imbecility.

    Third, the “cogency” of your response simply demonstrates you are not prepared to accept the possibility that people DON’T in fact know “EXACTLY” what they are talking about when employing those terms, because those terms have wildly different meanings for each person who uses them. Haven’t you noticed that?

    Fourth, and it may come as a bit of a shock, but some of us don’t need stylish expressionistic drivel, especially when it supports (or otherwise camouflages) OTHER kinds of drivel. Get it now? You asked for an opinion, in your snotty manner. I offered mine. You didn’t like it because it poses the possibility that you’ve wasted an inordinate amount of time and effort in absorbing that awful academic gunk.

    What word-magic do you suppose similarly-minded academic sorts will have to abracadabra out of thin air a century or two hence? Hmmm? Some hideous formulation like post-post-post-post-modernism? I’ll be glad to be dead by then.

    If there is anything I can’t stand, its the art/music/architecture (etc) analysts. No, I do NOT mean the good critics. The good ones are smart, keep themselves well-informed, and actually have an understanding of the underlying process of the art in question. I mean the academic sort who AREN’T artists, musicians/composers or architects (or critics) who LOVE to coin ridiculous words while talking about that which they do not understand. Unfortunately, their students gobble up the crap and become as intellectually incompetent as they are.

  141. #141 Josh Hayes
    September 1, 2007

    Yikes.

    All I can say is, THIS guy has a faculty gig, and _I_ couldn’t get one?

    Sigh. My wife was right: when I gave up, she consoled me by telling me that “academia is fucked.” Is it any wonder I love her?

    (seriously. This guy is wacky.)

  142. #142 Casper
    September 1, 2007

    If I had to write a graduate level paper on Lacan, I would just use the post-modernist generator. A handy tool for anyone who wants to get a graduate degree in meaninglessness.

    http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo

    So fun!

  143. #143 Keith Douglas
    September 2, 2007

    Ethyl: Actually, Sokal himself reports the same thing – how difficult it is to produce good sounding drivel. (I have the same experience, actually.)

    Joshua Zelinsky: Isn’t it possible that he was ok, got tenure and went nuts?

    Alan Kellogg: Actually, in the case of some of the pomo heroes, I often wonder if they had some sort of mental disease, particularly at the end. (Lacan and Heidegger come to mind.)

  144. #144 Gvlgeologist, FCD
    September 3, 2007

    I’ve come late to this delightful thread, but since no one has mentioned it:

    “Carefully, AC organized the program. The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done. And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” And there was light.”

    Posted by: Pieter B

    Asimov’s “The Last Question”, right? A true classic.

    And the obligatory piling on: I’m sorry, PoMo just doesn’t do it justice. Pribor’s an embarrassment to the teaching profession.

  145. #145 Pyre
    December 29, 2007

    demallien @ 76, Mike P @ 87:

    Postulatte (correctly spelled) indeed has four syllables…

    … and refers to a beverage made with milk and Post® brand coffee.

  146. #146 Ichthyic
    December 29, 2007

    you sure it doesn’t refer to a beverage made with Postum?

  147. #147 Ichthyic
    December 29, 2007

    nice resurrection, BTW.

    seems to be a trend this week.

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