Pharyngula

An honest creationist, at last

From Cectic:

Quote of the week: “Either the theory is wrong, or I’m just incredibly stupid.” -Todd Friel on Evolution, from The Way of the Master Radio for 24 Dec. The first true utterance I’ve heard on that show since I started listening to the podcast.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan
    December 28, 2007

    I think I may just pass out. Was Mr. Friel drunk? On medication?

    I can’t understand the sudden candor. It’s terrifying. I mean, I’ve gotten too used to dealing with their dishonesty that something like this just causes the cogs to slip.

    Quick! Someone fetch a Dembski quote to set the universe right again.

  2. #2 mothra
    December 28, 2007

    As quoted, Todd’s statement is a false dichotomy. Todd Friel is stupid and evolutionary theory is correct.

  3. #3 Neil B.
    December 28, 2007

    Heh, I’m sure you knew I meant “debator”, but typing fast and hitting that spellcheck key can be a mess (did you know, Firefox has it built in, for any typing?)

  4. #4 Glen Davidson
    December 28, 2007

    I can’t disagree with a word you wrote there, Norm.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  5. #5 Ichthyic
    December 28, 2007

    “Do you believe that all creatures (past the very first life) were born from other creatures, or do 9at least some) new species or groups just get “created” whole, like for example birds just popping up from dirt due to divine intervention?”

    coincidentally, didn’t we just have someone in the Coulter thread claiming that since cats and dogs mating don’t produce viable offspring, how could there ever be any new species?

    yes, indeed, there is a dividing line between rejection of theory because of psychological conditioning and rampant ignorance and stupidity.

    Behe represents rejection based on conditioning, and our illustrious poster in the Coulter thread represents rampant ignorance and stupidity.

    not to say the two don’t often go hand in hand, mind you.

  6. #6 VWXYNot?
    December 28, 2007

    Oooh, it’s so frustrating when someone comes that close to the last mental step that will bring their whole house of cards tumbling down, but doesn’t quite make it…

  7. #8 Boosterz
    December 28, 2007

    Aren’t these “Way of the Master” weirdos the same ones that Kirk Cameron is mixed up with? The same ones that basically said, “See, this banana fits my hand perfectly, therefore all my crazy religious beliefs must be true!”?

    I wonder what the theological implications will be once those guys realize that the average human penis is roughly the same size as that banana and will also fit his hand perfectly…

  8. #9 Ichthyic
    December 28, 2007

    I wonder what the theological implications will be once those guys realize that the average human penis is roughly the same size as that banana and will also fit his hand perfectly…

    what makes you think the self-evident conclusion hasn’t already been made by them?

    wouldn’t you already describe what they do mostly as an “intellectual” form of the same thing?

    practice what you preach, and all.

  9. #10 Christian
    December 28, 2007

    I wonder what the theological implications will be once those guys realize that the average human penis is roughly the same size as that banana and will also fit his hand perfectly…

    Maybe that jerking off proves the existence of God?

    I wonder if they’ll then be consistent and change their name to “Way of the Masterbater”….

    Yeah, I know, that was cheap but what the heck ;->

  10. #11 Neil B.
    December 28, 2007

    Actually, I must correct myself: The question of belief about time scales of biological history would have to be asked first, and then the question about birthing (in the broad sense) would be asked. Then the difference between YECs and “ancient earth periodic insertionists” could be discerned, FWIW. Maybe the latter could be called “divine punctuators.” BTW, it would help to see perspectives here about real PE.

  11. #12 Sastra, OM
    December 28, 2007

    For most people, science is peripheral to their daily lives in the same way mathematics is. Yes, they have to add and do some simple percentages; yes, there is technology. But on a day to day basis, it feels like an intellectual “extra” — sort of like knowing Shakespeare or who painted the Sistine Chapel. On the surface, you don’t see the structure beneath. It’s easy to think it’s all surface.

    This I think is why creationists are not necessarily stupid, and why I wouldn’t assume it. They’re getting into areas they neither understand nor care about, because they think these “superficial” areas are somehow in conflict with — or trumped by — areas that they actually live with — morals, meaning, how you treat others, feeling humble and appreciative. Their focus is elsewhere, and it can be very sharp.

    The problem isn’t basic intelligence. As Michael Shermer points out, smart people can believe weird (or dumb) things, and the smarter they are, the better they are at defending them.

  12. #13 Ichthyic
    December 28, 2007

    This I think is why creationists are not necessarily stupid,

    faulty logic given the premise of their protestations.

    if they were not so vehemently vocal on the matter, and profess themselves to be well versed on the subjects involved, I’d tend to agree with you.

    but they do, so I don’t.

    they may not be stupid “IQ” wise, but they certainly are deliberately so.

    and in the end, does it make a difference?

    if it looks like a duck…

  13. #14 Neil B.
    December 28, 2007


    The problem isn’t basic intelligence. As Michael Shermer points out, smart people can believe weird (or dumb) things, and the smarter they are, the better they are at defending them.

    Posted by: Sastra, OM | December 28, 2007 5:50 PM

    OK, time for some snark: if that’s true, then why are you so confident that what *you* believe about any given thing really makes sense? I mean, maybe that same process has affected your own (insert any blogger/commenter/reader here) judgment about whatever? (Maybe even evolution … ;-) )

  14. #15 Sastra, OM
    December 28, 2007

    The problem isn’t basic intelligence. As Michael Shermer points out, smart people can believe weird (or dumb) things, and the smarter they are, the better they are at defending them.

    Neil B. #24 wrote:

    OK, time for some snark: if that’s true, then why are you so confident that what *you* believe about any given thing really makes sense? I mean, maybe that same process has affected your own (insert any blogger/commenter/reader here) judgment about whatever? (Maybe even evolution … ;-) )

    I can’t be confident that I’m not doing that. I might be — especially if I’m emotionally involved. That’s why I try, as best I can, to use methods which force me to test myself, and consider other possibilities, and be as objective as possible.

    I think that’s all anyone can do, and it’s not fool-proof. Or, I suppose, stupid-proof ;))

  15. #16 truth machine
    December 28, 2007

    The problem isn’t basic intelligence. As Michael Shermer points out, smart people can believe weird (or dumb) things, and the smarter they are, the better they are at defending them.

    Fallacy of affirmation of the consequent. Just because smart people can believe weird things, that doesn’t mean that any particular person believing a weird thing is smart.

  16. #17 truth machine
    December 28, 2007

    That’s why I try, as best I can, to use methods which force me to test myself, and consider other possibilities, and be as objective as possible.

    Would you consider the notion that that’s an element of “basic intelligence”, and that its absence is functional stupidity?

  17. #18 Chuck-Fred DiMilo
    December 28, 2007

    Oh yeah? Well, why–why?–Why are there still hagfish???

  18. #19 Boosterz
    December 28, 2007

    I’d say for most creationists it’s not that they are inherently ignorant. I’d say the bulk of them are willfully ignorant. That is much worse then simply being ignorant. Someone who is just ignorant can be educated. Someone who is willfully ignorant can not. They will refuse. It’s the classic case of leading a horse to water but not being able to make it drink.

  19. #20 truth machine
    December 28, 2007

    The exclusive OR he used entails that if he’s stupid, then evolution is true.

    It doesn’t strike me as an exclusive OR; I think evolution being false AND him being stupid is consistent with his statement. (P or Q) == (not P -> Q) == (not Q -> P). If evolution is true, then he’s incredibly stupid. If he’s not incredibly stupid, then evolution is false. I don’t think he meant to say more than that.

  20. #21 SLC
    December 28, 2007

    Actually, as Prof. Dawkins points out, YEC Kurt Wise is also an honest creationist who readily admits that the overwhelming preponderance of the scientific evidence supports an old earth but he believes in a young earth anyway.

  21. #22 exor
    December 28, 2007

    As quoted, Todd’s statement is a false dichotomy. Todd Friel is stupid and evolutionary theory is correct.

    As others have pointed out, Friel’s statement does allow for this condition. However, what the original post might have been taking about is the fact that Friel is stupid regardless of the truth of evolution.

  22. #23 George
    December 28, 2007

    Creationists are stupid. “characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless”

    What more need be said. Creationism is the very definition of the word stupid.

  23. #24 Sastra, OM
    December 28, 2007

    truth machine #30 wrote:

    Would you consider the notion that (testing oneself, considering other possibilities, and being objective)’s an element of “basic intelligence”, and that its absence is functional stupidity?

    Possibly, though I think that the sort of scientific mindset this requires comes hard to us, and is relatively recent to most cultures. It often has to be taught — and there are a lot of forces on the “other side” pushing intuition, ‘common sense,’ and having faith as signs of maturity and wisdom.

    Perhaps part of the problem too is that “intelligence” and “stupidity” are really fluid terms. You can be real smart and kinda stupid. Or vice versa. Which one counts more for the Big Judgment may depend on what’s needed, context, and, to an extent, personal taste.

    As for the Fallacy of Affirmation of the Consequent #29, you’re right, but I wasn’t trying to say that, because smart people can believe dumb things, that means people who believe dumb things are therefore smart. I was trying to say that, because smart people can believe dumb things, that means smart people can believe dumb things.

  24. #25 Timeby
    December 28, 2007

    “Do you believe that all creatures (past the very first life) were born from other creatures,”
    But why the exception (past the very first life)? Consider the speculations ofP.C.W. DAVIES, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; in his paper “Does Life’s Rapid Appearance Imply a Martian Origin?” or even “Lithopanspermia in Star Forming Clusters”: Fred C. Adams1,2 and David N. Spergel3: (arXiv:astro-ph/0504648 v1).

    The regression could continue almost to the BB.

  25. #26 Norman Doering
    December 29, 2007

    Sastra wrote:

    I was trying to say that, because smart people can believe dumb things, that means smart people can believe dumb things.

    Unless smart people don’t actually believe anything.

  26. #27 truth machine
    December 29, 2007

    Unless smart people don’t actually believe anything.

    Confusing belief with baseless belief isn’t very smart. Smart people do in fact believe many things, and when their beliefs are not only justified but also true, those beliefs constitute knowledge.

  27. #28 DLC
    December 29, 2007

    Either Todd Friel is stupid or evolution is wrong.
    Either one man is stupid or more than a century of carefully checked, peer reviewed science is wrong. I think I’ll select “one man is stupid”. Or at least deeply deluded.

  28. #29 raven
    December 29, 2007

    Panspermia is a legitimate scientific theory. It involves no magic whatsoever.

    We really know little about biology 3.6 billion years ago. Molecules don’t fossilize well and most of the earth’s surface from that era is just flat out gone in erosion and subduction.

    For all we know, there is a DNA/RNA clade in this spiral arm of the galaxy. Or the whole galaxy is a DNA/RNA clade. With little information, tossing legitimate theories is too early.

    That being said, at present panspermia is intractable to investigation. We really need to get off planet and look at Mars, Europa and maybe a few dozen extrasolar planets. This may happen but it isn’t going to happen soon.

  29. #30 Ted Powell
    December 29, 2007

    It’s a pity that the formatting of a submitted comment does not match that purported by Preview.

  30. #31 truth machine
    December 29, 2007

    The claim was “The problem isn’t basic intelligence.” That isn’t the same as “If you think it has to be basic intelligence, it doesn’t” — which is what the Shermer observation supports.

  31. #32 truth machine
    December 29, 2007

    To make the point more explicit: Sastra never supported his claim that the problem isn’t basic intelligence, he only supported the possibility that it isn’t basic intelligence — as he said earlier, “This I think is why creationists are not necessarily stupid, and why I wouldn’t assume it”. But they still might be, as Ichthyic argued in #24.

  32. #33 Lyle G
    December 29, 2007

    I think it was Philip Jose Farmer who said , “Religion has nothing to do with intelligence.’

  33. #34 Doug Rozell
    December 29, 2007

    Pharyngula
    December 29, 2007

    Cool your jets Truth Machine #45. Sastra’s first post (#23) in two paragraphs describes the intellectual life of most people most of the time (echoed by Mike from Ottawa in #29) and concludes with the third paragraph:

    “The problem isn’t basic intelligence. As Michael Shermer points out, smart people can believe weird (or dumb) things, and the smarter they are, the better they are at defending them.”

    In #28, you “sighed” and opined “How can we expect reason from them when so many of us can’t grasp basic logic? “, and in #30 accused her of

    “Fallacy of affirmation of the consequent. Just because smart people can believe weird things, that doesn’t mean that any particular person believing a weird thing is smart.”

    to which she quite properly replied in #40 that she intended nothing of the sort, only

    “I was trying to say that, because smart people can believe dumb things, that means smart people can believe dumb things.”

    which you in #45 characterized as an irrelevant tautology, and invited her to admit she has made a mistake in argumentation.

    Now, a fallacy of reasoning occurs in an argument when the conclusion does not follow from the premises. An argument requires at least a major premise, a minor premise, and an inferential conclusion, each in language that can be parsed as distinct propositions. However, as #23 is but an extended (and insightful) observation, as Sastra tried to explain in #40, and does not feature a minor premise or a conclusion, it does not have the requisite structure of an argument. Therefore, as her #23 was not an argument, there was not possibly a fallacy of inferential reasoning on her part. Instead, in your impressive logic chopping, you evidently did not read her cleanly worded prose, and went sailing off in all directions after a logical error that does not exist.

    I hope I have the genders correct, and offend no-one for any error of mine on that account.

    Doug Rozell, M.A. (Sociology), M.L.I.S.
    Beachville, Canada

  34. #35 truth machine
    December 29, 2007

    A somewhat droll sophistry there, Doug. Sometimes the elements of of a syllogism are implicit.

  35. #36 Sastra, OM
    December 29, 2007

    Doug Rozell #58:

    Yes, and well put. Thanks. I wasn’t trying to make the argument truth machine seemed to think I was trying to make. If I had been, he would have been right, of course.

    I was simply using Shermer’s quote to point out that weird or stupid beliefs are held by all sorts of people, and when intelligent people are creationists, say, they simply use their intellectual skills to become very good at rationalizing and defending a belief they often originally arrived at for non-rational reasons. Intelligence alone doesn’t make them immune. I think it also requires some training in how to think — and an ability to put aside emotions.

    Of course, some creationists are pretty stupid across the board. But, from what I’ve seen, being consistent across the board isn’t that common, either way.

  36. #37 Ted Powell
    December 29, 2007

    A somewhat droll sophistry there, Doug. Sometimes the elements of of a syllogism are implicit.
    So you undertook to “fill in the blanks” and then complained that the result did not make sense. #52 refers.

  37. #38 G
    December 30, 2007

    The real quote was actually:

    “Either evolution is wrong or I’ll have to code more stupid flash games.”

    See: http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinalia/panda-monium.swf

  38. #39 CortxVortx
    December 30, 2007

    Re: #58

    Bravo, Doug Rozell. Adroitly deflated pomposity.

    — CV

  39. #40 Henwli
    December 31, 2007

    Here’s a little ditty I put together last fall, while I was going through detox after listening to Way of the Master for two years:

    http://www.youshare.com/view.php?file=youarenotamonkey.mp3

    Oh yeah, and Todd is pretty much the polar opposite of honest.

    - Henri

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