Pharyngula

He seemed like such a smart fellow

I met Thomas Martin the other day in NY — he’s the fellow who wrote the winning essay in the Seed science writing contest. I had no idea he was a flaming creationist! At least, you’d get the impression that his essay was ID-friendly from the assessment of Uncommon Descent.

Of course, what the essay actually says is that science works because “it compels smart people to incessantly try to disprove the ideas generated by other smart people,” and that one goal of science is to “find those ideas that can withstand the long and hard barrage of evidence-based argument.” I don’t think Martin was being at all kind to ID, because I’m afraid ID withers before the evidence.

It is interesting, though, that the first response of the creationists to an essay on science literacy is to quote-mine it.

Comments

  1. #1 386sx
    September 27, 2007

    Bleh how come they’re always quote mining everything. Mr. Martin says that, “Nature has a way of being far tougher.” This is in direct contradiction to creationism because all a creation scientist has to do is pray for stuff and then nature won’t be so tough any more.

    Same goes for religion in general too, by the way. Pray for stuff -> “poof” it happens. That’s only if they believe what their god says though. (Which they don’t of course.)

  2. #2 Brian
    September 27, 2007

    I also think that it’s telling that even though that post has been up for about a day at UD, no one has bothered to comment on it.

    If it’s so ID friendly, why hasn’t anyone worked out the positive ramifications of it for ID?

    Brian

  3. #3 Rieux
    September 27, 2007

    I had no idea he was a flaming creationist!

    I wish the sarcasm in this line had been clearer to me on my first reading. It wasn’t good for my heart to read that Seed had awarded an essay prize to a flaming creationist.

    I probably should have read Martin’s essay, or just slowed down reading this post. Still–ouch.

  4. #4 Schmeer
    September 27, 2007

    …no one has bothered to comment on it.

    I believe that is due to the fact that the comments are heavily moderated by the blogger.

  5. #5 Rey Fox
    September 27, 2007

    Could it be that they really don’t know that they’re doing it? That they really think that they’re just ferreting out the truth in what they read? Malice or stupidity, it’s just so hard to tell sometimes…

  6. #6 Tulse
    September 27, 2007

    But wait — wasn’t PZ Myers a judge of this contest, as UD itself notes? A noted Darwinist supporting ID — why, that’s unpossible! See how strong the argument is!!!

  7. #7 tceisele
    September 27, 2007

    Rey Fox [#5]: They may not know what they are doing. After all, as far as I can tell, the average “bible study” activity is just an exercise in quote-mining of their own holy text to justify whatever strange belief system they have constructed. They’ve been trained to think that it is OK to take things out of context, because that’s the normal way to “interpret the bible”. If that’s what they do with a book that they nominally *agree* with, it’s easy to see that they’d see nothing wrong with doing it to books they *disagree* with.

  8. #8 Brian
    September 27, 2007

    “I believe that is due to the fact that the comments are heavily moderated by the blogger.”

    Granted, but usually pro-ID comments are allowed to stand. Also, some thread that have come later have already garnered comments.

    Brian

  9. #9 Banned by Jack Krebs 22 times
    September 27, 2007

    S th prz wnnr s crtnst!

    hhhhhh, thts gd n.

    sps.

    [The Kansas troll is such an idiot. No, Thomas Martin is not a creationist. This was sarcasm: UD quote-mined him to pretend he favors them.]

  10. #10 Bob L
    September 27, 2007

    Bleh how come they’re always quote mining everything.

    Their whole religion based on quote mining The Bible. If you’re a theist who is willing to play games with God’s own words around what’s a collage freshman after that?

  11. #11 Bob O'H
    September 27, 2007

    I had no idea he was a flaming creationist!

    Best sort. 🙂

    Bob
    (OK, seriously, it isn’t. It’s only churches that should be burned)

  12. #12 Brando
    September 27, 2007

    “It is interesting, though, that the first response of the creationists to an essay on science literacy is to quote-mine it.”

    Oh the irony.

  13. #13 Brownian
    September 27, 2007

    Has anybody ever considered the reason that creationists have nothing to offer but quote-mines is that they’re functionally illiterate?

    Consider the evidence:

    -Their quote-mines usually revolve around a few choice words, such as ‘random’ or ‘theory’.
    -Their quote-mines usually involve quotations taken out of context, or a misinterpretation of the meaning of the quote.

    All of these characteristics are common to functionally illiterate individuals attempting to hide their illiteracy.

    Perhaps we should reconsider focussing on scientific literacy, and instead concentrate our efforts at increasing basic literacy.

    Remedial reading classes in Sunday school, anyone?
    -Their own writing is rarely intelligible.

  14. #14 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    September 27, 2007

    So the prize winner is a creationist!

    hahahahahaha, thats a good one.

    saps.

    Hi legion. Where you been?

  15. #15 Joe Mc Faul
    September 27, 2007

    I did pick up one thing at UD. I didn’t know Dembski ahd ever explicitly rejected common descnet, instead optignfor the coy approach. But here it is on hos own blog;

    “For the record: I personally don’t believe in common descent though I think there are lines of evidence that suggest considerable evolutionary change. At the same time, there are lines of evidence that suggest considerable discontinuity among organisms. Check out chapter 5 of my forthcoming book with Jonathan Wells titled THE DESIGN OF LIFE (publication date keeps being delayed, but I think it’ll be out in November).”

    —WAD

  16. #16 Joe Mc Faul
    September 27, 2007

    I did pick up one thing at UD. I didn’t know Dembski ahd ever explicitly rejected common descnet, instead optignfor the coy approach. But here it is on hos own blog;

    “For the record: I personally don’t believe in common descent though I think there are lines of evidence that suggest considerable evolutionary change. At the same time, there are lines of evidence that suggest considerable discontinuity among organisms. Check out chapter 5 of my forthcoming book with Jonathan Wells titled THE DESIGN OF LIFE (publication date keeps being delayed, but I think it’ll be out in November).”

    —WAD

  17. #17 No One of Consequence
    September 27, 2007

    how come they’re always quote mining everything.

    Has anybody ever considered the reason that creationists have nothing to offer but quote-mines is that they’re functionally illiterate?

    My thought is that their whole belief systems revolves around quote mining the bible. If you were to read the entire bible you would see all of the internal inconsistencies. It is much easier to quote [mine] scripture for whatever it is you want to support; like quote mining Leviticus to show that homosexuality is wrong, but leaving out that eating shell fish is equally wrong.

    I think it’s a natural progression to use quote mining outside of scripture as well.

  18. #18 Brownian
    September 27, 2007

    If you were to read the entire bible you would see all of the internal inconsistencies.

    Well, what else to they have to do with their time? Again, I suspect they don’t read the bible because they can’t.

    I’m collecting donations for my new campaign to increase literacy among the religious, “The Bible: All Them Funny Letters Means Words“.

    People out there are hurting. Won’t you please help?

  19. #19 Brownian
    September 27, 2007

    Oh, so that’s the Kansas Troll, huh? His appearance here must mean that Mommy locked out the porn sites on her computer.

    Poor kid. He just wants to wank. Is that so wrong?

  20. #20 raven
    September 27, 2007

    The bible contradicts itself in hundreds of places. As the bible scholars say, “Anyone who thinks the bible is literally true hasn’t read it.” So yeah, they quote mine it for whatever they want to support whatever belief system their leaders have constructed for them.

    Whenever the death cultists quote some passage, if you check back to the text, more times than not it doesn’t say what they said it does, especially if you put it in context.

    The contradictions aren’t trivial. Two creation stories in Genesis a few pages apart that aren’t the same. The 4 gospels differ a lot among themselves. It goes on and on. I doubt the people who wrote and later compiled it ever intended it to be taken literally or else they would have edited it for consistency.

    As to why the creos and death cultists and ID quote mine everything, lie a lot, and interview people under false pretenses, it is simple. They are fundamentally dishonest. What this has to do with Xianity is…..nothing really.

  21. #21 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    September 27, 2007

    Oh, so that’s the Kansas Troll, huh? His appearance here must mean that Mommy locked out the porn sites on her computer.

    Poor kid. He just wants to wank. Is that so wrong?

    yep. That’s Legion. he’s a pro at wanking. He does it every time he posts a comment.

  22. #22 octopod
    September 27, 2007

    To everyone that’s commented that quote-mining is the essence of Christian scholarship (tceisele being the first): absolutely correct, as far as I’ve been able to tell too. Thank you, legacy of Scholasticism.

  23. #23 Sastra
    September 27, 2007

    This reminds me of alternative medicine advocates gleefully misinterpreting the work of John Ioannidis. Orac blogged about it recently. He wrote that “Ioannidis looks at how we as a profession do biomedical research and clinical trials and finds the faults even in studies thought to be the gold standard, all with a mind to improve how we do research, suggesting more replication, more care, and to be cautious about initial findings.”

    Cranks have taken this and insisted that it implies that science doesn’t work, science can’t be trusted, scientists get it wrong, etc. This is supposed to increase the credibility of studies which are done with even less care, less replication, less initial plausibility, and more hype on cherry-picked findings. As many have pointed out, if they had actually bothered to read Iannidis’ work, they would realize that a call for increased rigor, method, and caution is the death knell for alt med, not additional support.

  24. #24 CalGeorge
    September 27, 2007

    That Lee Bowman blog post is one for the ages.

    Scintillating prose.

    Fascinating observations.

    Such brilliance rarely finds its way onto any blog.

    Can I have that two minutes back, please!

  25. #25 brightmoon
    September 27, 2007

    Their quote-mines usually revolve around a few choice words, such as ‘random’ or ‘theory’.
    -Their quote-mines usually involve quotations taken out of context, or a misinterpretation of the meaning of the quote.

    All of these characteristics are common to functionally illiterate individuals attempting to hide their illiteracy.

    YEAH I ALWAYS THOUGHT SO,TOO…but i dont think theyre attempting to hide it …theyre quite proud of their ability to twist word meanings like that

  26. #26 Ichthyic
    September 27, 2007

    Malice or stupidity, it’s just so hard to tell sometimes…

    now, now… don’t be stingy!

    why does it have to be either instead of both?

  27. #27 Owlmirror
    September 27, 2007

    Ah, don’t you atheists get it? It’s so simple: Martin is secretly a creationist!

    In fact, Richard Dawkins is secretly a creationist. PZ Myers is secretly a creationist. You’re secretly a creationist. Hell, everyone (who isn’t overtly a creationist) is secretly a creationist! And that whole “known liberal bias” that reality has? Guess what? Reality is secretly creationist!

    You just have to find the evidence that reveals the secret.

    PS: The Emperor cannot possibly be naked, because any fool can see that the Emperor is wearing a wig. And a merkin. (Thank God for that!)

  28. #28 Steven Saus
    September 27, 2007

    I’ve tried leaving a comment there myself, hoping the fact that I wrote one of the misquoted essays might let him let it get through.

    And yes, Thomas is a totally amazing, smart guy. I am (and no sarcasm here!) glad to have come in second to him. Now if I can just figure out how to enroll in his History of Science course from across the country…

  29. #29 Thomas W. Martin
    September 28, 2007

    Owlmirror nailed me (and reality).

    I am secretly a creationist.

    And I tried so hard to hide it.

  30. #30 SEF
    September 28, 2007

    Their whole religion based on quote mining The Bible. If you’re a theist who is willing to play games with God’s own words around what’s a collage freshman after that?

    Nice typo. Quote-mining (the Bible or anything else) is a form of collage.

  31. #31 Saber
    September 28, 2007

    Isn’t it ironic that a creationist would quote a scientist about “sacred cows” as if it was an argument in support of his/her perspective?

  32. #32 quantumberry
    October 2, 2007

    To everyone that’s commented that quote-mining is the essence of Christian scholarship (tceisele being the first): absolutely correct, as far as I’ve been able to tell too. Thank you, legacy of Scholasticism.

    octopod: You paint with too broad a brush. There are many intelligent, intellectual, literate Christians out there (John Polkinghorne comes to mind immediately). They just aren’t creationists, IDiots, or bible literalists.

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