Pharyngula

Beale vs. Plait

Now the odious Vox Day is ranting about how the discovery of dark matter and dark energy refute “rational materialist philosophy,” because somehow it ties into the inapplicability of naturalism to “justice, equality, and freedom”. Phil Plait quite rightly slams him back.

I have to give Blake Stacey the prize for the most succinct rebuttal, however.

I don’t understand how people can use the discoveries of science to argue that science is broken. It’s bass ackwards, that’s what it is.

Not surprising, though; Theodore Beale aka Vox Day is a notorious loon, well known for making the most absurd claims as if they were just ordinary common sense.

Comments

  1. #1 danley
    March 9, 2008

    Vox and McTaggart in perfect harmony.

  2. #2 Phil Plait
    March 9, 2008

    Well, I still think I’m right. But any opinions about my use of biology, and evolving a sense of justice?

    Thanks for the love, especially on your blessed day.

  3. #3 Stanton
    March 9, 2008

    Well, I still think I’m right. But any opinions about my use of biology, and evolving a sense of justice?

    Thanks for the love, especially on your blessed day.

    You should write a book, then, “Dr. Strangeglove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love Bombyx

  4. #4 Glen Davidson
    March 9, 2008

    They’re always coming to exactly the wrong conclusions from an epistemological standpoint. Furthermore, they’re worried about some antiquated notion of “materialism,” as if we think that “matter” is some singular basis for thinking about phenomena.

    Back to epistemology, though. The fact is that we make observations with respect to the four or five percent of baryonic matter and the energies coming from these. That’s because this stuff is observable. We have never said that what we see is all that we get, which is why both dark matter and dark energy were readily assimilated once it appeared that observations supported these concepts.

    They’re always projecting their own “thinking processes” onto us, however. Hence they think that we must have conjured up an atheistic notion like “materialism” or “naturalism”, and derived our beliefs and assumptions from that.

    Complete bollocks, as should be recognized from the fact that many theists laid the groundwork for our science (it just turned out that science didn’t support their beliefs). We might discover exactly what dark matter and dark energy are, and we still might miss forever 99% of what’s going on. What we do know is how to achieve reasonable conclusions which yield sensible predictions within the observed phenomena.

    I think they’re convincing themselves that in fact we are not skeptics, that we don’t have doubts about how much we know and of how much we can know (and it’s true that some are not skeptics, but a lot of us are). They’re telling themselves that we’re unwilling to think beyond “Darwinism” and present physics, because they have to reduce us down to the prejudiced dolts with prefabricated answers that they themselves happen to be.

    Certainly the best of us remain skeptics indeed, though, who simply insist on using the standards that have best given justice to the accused, and science to those who search for it. The point being that we do not at all start with a metaphysical notion of “matter” or of “nature”, and instead remain skeptical of those notions. Indeed, our point vis-a-vis ID/creationism is simply to refrain from saying anything about what we don’t know in science, and not at all that we already know everything in science.

    One of the problems with getting this across to them is that they have too long pointed to our remaining ignorance to fault science and its reliable methods in order to suggest that religion has some uncanny access to truth. They cannot imagine that our stance is simply a careful and considered method of preventing speculation from supplanting evidence-based conclusions, and that we have never derived our science from unknown energies and matter.

    They remain narrowly committed to the only method that they know, which is deduction from speculative “principles.” They really do not know how to make reliable contingent judgments based simply on what has been established from observation, their worldview relies on derivation from the unknown. Thus they suppose that our view is also derivative and that we claim adequate knowledge about all matter/energy to make our derivations. The fact that Vox Day can’t understand that we can only infer dark matter and energy because of our careful and conservative building of evidence upon evidence, is due to the fact that he doesn’t understand the scientific (or judicial) method at all.

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

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    March 9, 2008

    So that explains the traffic spike I just noticed.

  6. #6 Kevin
    March 9, 2008

    “We might discover exactly what dark matter and dark energy are, and we still might miss forever 99% of what’s going on”

    errrr. I think that, by definition, that cannot happen. as things are figured out they are moved out of the “dark” category and into the “known” category.

    anything that is missed is still in the “dark” category, as we can always say that we have “named” it.

    :-)

  7. #7 kid bitzer
    March 9, 2008

    glen–i’m thinking you’re thinking yeats?

    “Certainly the best of us remain skeptics indeed,”

    “…while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    March 9, 2008

    This might be a good time to point out that a regular at RichardDawkins.net has gone over Vox Day’s new book with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    March 9, 2008

    Oh, and for those of you who want the technical skinny on the Dark Side of the Universe, here are some recent video lectures.

  10. #10 Janine
    March 9, 2008

    Please tell me this person went medieval on Vox’s ass.

  11. #11 firemancarl
    March 9, 2008

    I admit I am at a loss for most of the science on here and I need to brush up, though if you wanna talk burn rates and flamable materials i’m game. Vox does pose and interesting conundrum that Blake pointed out. Do the wooers not see that they take what science has discovered and then use that against science? This is a kin to saying that the space shuttle travels to the ISS and then use the space shuttle to argue against manned space flight. Oy!

  12. #12 Aaron Golas
    March 9, 2008

    Sorta reminds me of the recent episode in which Mike Egnor used as an example a woman diagnosed as vegetative by EEG, but who showed fMRI activity in response to certain questions. According to Egnor, the fMRI data proves she has a mind, and the lack of EEG activity proves you can have a mind without any brain activity. Hm…

  13. #13 Kseniya
    March 9, 2008

    This is a kin to saying that the space shuttle travels to the ISS and then use the space shuttle to argue against manned space flight. Oy!

    Not just to argue against manned space flight, Carl – to argue that manned space flight has never occurred! :-D

  14. #14 Dan
    March 9, 2008

    This might be a good time to point out that a regular at RichardDawkins.net has gone over Vox Day’s new book with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.

    Posted by: Blake Stacey

    Thanks for that Blake. That was a really fun read. It’s astounding that someone so unhinged as Vox could write a book, though. Great review though.

  15. #15 Sastra
    March 9, 2008

    Phil wrote:
    (T)he Universe is 72.1% dark energy, 23.3% dark matter, and 4.62% normal matter. You read that right: everything you can see, taste, hear, touch, just sense in any way… is less than 5% of the whole Universe.

    from which Vox Day concluded:

    In other words, even by its own lights, science and rational materialist philosophy is only relevant to five percent of what we currently consider to be all known Creation. Combined with its complete inapplicability to abstract concepts such as justice, equality and freedom, this shows that even attempting to build a social order on a secular basis is not only doomed to failure, but is quite arguably insane.

    In addition to using what he thinks is an example of our “ignorance” against materialism, I suspect Vox is also doing what MOST supernaturalists and paranormalists do when they repeat such urban legends as “we only use 5% of our brains.” They’re not just appealing to mystery: they’re filling it up. They’re making the implication that the rest of space — or the rest of our brain — is filled up with magical, spiritual stuff. Specifically — Consciousness. Pure Mind. Perfect Values. Essences. Life Energy. Intentional Force. Immaterial Spirit. One, all, or a combination.

    I’ve come across New Agers who insist that “Dark Energy” is really another term for “Thought Energy” or its equivalent. We tap into it in ESP. They then go to town on their own version of “Physics Proves God.” Doesn’t surprise me a bit when Christians borrow the argument. It’s all the same crap, from different angles.

    But what’s with the sudden smear against atheists building a social order on secular grounds? Simple. Atheists can’t have values, because they’re abstract concepts. And what are “abstract concepts” such as justice, equality, and freedom made of? That’s right — they’re made of “thought energy” too! Non-material spirit stuff! You know — the stuff materialistic atheists can’t believe in, because you can’t see it or measure it or stick it in your hand. But it’s real — just like God.

    What looks like a non sequitur on Vox’s part is actually his derived conclusion. Science is disproving materialism by showing us that 72.1% of the universe is made up of Abstract Concepts. There ya’ go.

  16. #16 Vox
    March 9, 2008

    I am frankly shocked that the inimitable PZ Myers should elect to defend a gentlemen who has publicly abused evolutionary science far more than my own gentle skepticism ever has.

    But don’t take my word for it, as Scott Hatfield said: In brief, I think that Phil’s comments were intemperate and, taken literally, pretty much impossible to defend. He’s on pretty solid ground when he’s talking about the existence of dark matter and dark energy, but his brief on evolutionary biology runs far afield.

    I suspect PZ is being just a bit mischievous here, as he understands better than most that science is not a magic black box and therefore almost surely grasps how one can use the discoveries of science to prove that other aspects of science are broken. Indeed, one might even say that I learned how to do so from him. Daniel Dennett’s uncharacteristically stupid statement to the contrary, the incredible precision of a physicist’s model says absolutely nothing about the usefulness of a biologist’s model, let alone a sociologist’s, and the existence of the first does not justify practicing an immoral doxastic division of labor in favor of the last simply because of a blind faith in the idea that “science works”.

    Science isn’t entirely broken. The knowledge base is what it is at the moment. The method is excellent, in fact, one wonders why the Four Horsemen of the Bukkakelypse had so little use for it in their books. The profession, however, is increasingly corrupt, ever more politicized, and is in very serious danger today from the equalitarian movement, something an academic scientist like PZ might have noticed if he wasn’t so occupied peering over the landscape looking for nonexistent threats from religion. Perhaps when Title IX causes him to be put out to pasture under in favor of three female Biology Studies PhDs fresh out of the paper-selling factory who have never heard of Darwin or Mendel, he’ll reconsider the matter.

    (Lest you think I’m crazier than you already do… just two weeks ago I spoke with a woman with a MA in Economics who didn’t know who John Maynard Keynes was.)

    This might be a good time to point out that a regular at RichardDawkins.net has gone over Vox Day’s new book with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.

    Hardly. By his own admission he didn’t even read half of it, moreover, he omits to respond in detail to a single argument that I have made. And what little detail he does mention, he gets wrong; for example, I don’t confuse conflict with war, but because Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins conflate the two, (Harris throws in individual murder as well), therefore my response must do so too.

    But if you doubt me, by all means, bring it. The book’s a free download, and you can challenge me on any assertion I make throughout the book. I’ll post your response in its entirety on the blog or you can do it on the forum yourself. The funny thing is PZ is bold enough to throw little jabs here and there, but he doesn’t dare review the book or debate any of the topics in it because he knows perfectly well that I’ve got both Harris and Dawkins dead to rights on the flawed factual foundations of their primary arguments… for example, Richard Dawkins commits no less than five major blunders in what he himself describes as the central argument of “The God Delusion”.

    It must be ironic to see how someone with such a complete inability to understand science should nevertheless find it so easy to kick around scientists on what is supposed to be their own turf.

  17. #17 gwangung
    March 9, 2008

    I am frankly shocked that the inimitable PZ Myers should elect to defend a gentlemen who has publicly abused evolutionary science far more than my own gentle skepticism ever has.

    Says the person with the reading comprehension of a six year old.

    Idiot is too kind a word for you, given the long history of friendly jousting and mutual scholarship–which any fool who’s read either would know of.

    And it’s ironic that YOU use the word irony.

  18. #18 Martin
    March 9, 2008

    It must be ironic to see how someone with such a complete inability to understand science should nevertheless find it so easy to kick around scientists on what is supposed to be their own turf.

    Not ironic at all. I believe the term “Dunning-Kruger Effect” quite adequate explains this aspect of your behavior. In short, some people who thoroughly lack expertise in a given field convince themselves they actually know more than the experts, and preen accordingly. You’re a fairly typical example of it, Ted.

  19. #19 Martin
    March 9, 2008

    “Adequately,” that should’ve been…

  20. #20 Phil Plait
    March 9, 2008

    And yet, in that long rambling comment above, he *still* hasn’t actually rebutted what I said. Amazing.

  21. #21 kid bitzer
    March 9, 2008

    “Lest you think I’m crazier than you already do… just two weeks ago I spoke with a woman with a MA in Economics who didn’t know who John Maynard Keynes was.”

    i make no odds on how crazy you are, but the fact that someone can get a decent ma in econ w/out having heard of maynard keynes strikes me as good news for economics.

    historians, humanists, and religious zealots care a lot about great figures of the past.

    it is characteristic of a science that, as its positive accomplishments increase, it cares less and less about the personalities that made earlier discoveries.

    there are a people who know a whole lot about near-vacuum physics who don’t now squat about the life of evangelista torricelli. and that’s how it ought to be. his work on vacuums was good, so his first name doesn’t matter.

    a growing science leaves behind its origins. real evolutionary biologists don’t have to give a damn about darwin–the results are good, so who found them doesn’t matter. (some biologists may also enjoy history, but the endeavors are separate and independent).

    it strikes me as quite likely that econ may be at that stag with regard to keynes (esp. if this woman specialized in micro rather than macro). if so, good for it.

  22. #22 VD
    March 9, 2008

    In short, some people who thoroughly lack expertise in a given field convince themselves they actually know more than the experts, and preen accordingly.

    No doubt. Now, just what are Richard Dawkins’s credentials in theology and history? Sam Harris’s in military science? Phil Plait’s in biology?

    i make no odds on how crazy you are, but the fact that someone can get a decent ma in econ w/out having heard of maynard keynes strikes me as good news for economics.

    Being of the Austrian school, I can only agree with great enthusiasm, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case here. She didn’t know her C from her I from her G either, she was functionally an accountant. A rather good one at a Fortune 500 company, actually, but damn near economically illiterate despite the MA.

  23. #23 Sastra
    March 9, 2008

    Generally speaking, if you disagree with the experts you really need to have more expertise in that particular field than you do if you agree. A car mechanic who enjoys reading Einstein and cosmological physics is not put on the same uncomfortable spot as a car mechanic who has come up with his own refutation for the Theory of Relativity.

    I don’t think Phil Plait is in trouble.

    As for Dawkins, he wasn’t involving himself with theology: he was taking the existence of God as a science hypothesis. Theology takes the existence of God as a given.

  24. #24 windy
    March 9, 2008

    this shows that even attempting to build a social order on a secular basis is not only doomed to failure, but is quite arguably insane.

    Exactly! That would be like building a monetary system based on an element like gold, 0.005 ppm of the Earth’s crust! Totally insane.

  25. #25 stogoe
    March 9, 2008

    Says the person with the reading comprehension of a six year old.

    Idiot is too kind a word for you, given the long history of friendly jousting and mutual scholarship–which any fool who’s read either would know of.

    Just wanted to repeat that, Ted, in case you missed it. I can only hope that your eventual death is ridiculous and humiliating, and that your descendants will never live down the shame. Scorn and mockery are almost too good for a sniveling nosefuck such as yourself.

  26. #26 Michael X
    March 9, 2008

    As for Dawkins, he wasn’t involving himself with theology: he was taking the existence of God as a science hypothesis

    As did Victor Stienger.

    Hitchen’s wasn’t interested in the theology as much as the product of religion, and so took religion to task not on the front of “does god exist?” but “is religion, as practiced, beneficial?” As a journalist he is more than qualified to speak on such topics.

    Harris is educated in western & eastern religions and philosophies and so naturally much of his book focused on what such philosophies cause people to do. He is also a budding neuroscientist an is already publishing, giving his opinion on scientific matter far more weight than yours Ted.

    As we see, these men worked from their bases of expertise. They did not assume to be experts on topics in which they were not. As for theology itself, it can’t be said enough that one must not be versed in toothfairyology to dismiss it as fable.

    As to how you should regard the opinions of experts speaking from their fields, you might want to take a lesson from Bertrand Russell: “(1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.”

  27. #27 Martin
    March 9, 2008

    Ted, no wonder people criticize you for failing to understand basic concepts. When Phil brought up the fact that evolutionary science has provided us with an understanding as to how people (as well as other primate species, by the by) have developed moral and ethical codes of behavior to assist in species survival, he was not pretending to know more about the subject than the experts. He is simply informing you of the facts, which you can follow up on yourself.

    I’m not a biologist, but I’m capable of reading books on the subject written for educated laypeople, and comprehend what I’m reading well enough to convey the information to another person. This is all that Phil was doing.

    So while we’re on it, what are your credentials in biology? And how do those credentials qualify you to make the claims that one needs an invisible magic man in the sky to comprehend “abstract concepts such as justice, equality and freedom”?

  28. #28 John Morales
    March 9, 2008

    I am frankly shocked that the inimitable PZ Myers should elect to defend a gentlemen who has publicly abused evolutionary science far more than my own gentle skepticism ever has.

    Well, that was good for a laugh.

    I’ve been reading “bad astronomy” since before it was had a blog, but appear to have missed the claimed public abuse of evolutionary science.

    VD is the same guy who evinces his admiration for PZ and his gentle skepticism by posting (about PZ) “science fetishists don’t understand the difference between evidence, explanation and fact” and that “the scientific predilection for colorful story-telling is not, in and of itself, proof that all evolutionists operate in the same manner as the fabulists operating at the edges of evolutionary biology.”
    (source: VD’s blog, Friday, August 10, 2007 – Not the brightest bunch)

    Does he think a little smarm will ameliorate his previous disdain?

  29. #29 Nelson Muntz
    March 9, 2008

    Beale could make use of science to inform his own opinions. Astronomers have examined everywhere in the sky, going back 13 billion years in time, and still no “windows of heaven” (Gen 7:11). He might keep in mind that back when Genesis was written, the job of fact-checker hadn’t been invented yet.

  30. #30 Brian W.
    March 9, 2008

    The back cover of Vox’s book The Irrational Atheist says that girls who are sexually abused are 50 times more likely to commit suicide than girls who are raised Catholic.

    Really.

    It says that.

  31. #31 Brian English
    March 9, 2008

    There’s a book called Why are we moral? by Neil Levi that discusses evolution and morality.

    I blogged on it here:
    http://philosophicalneuron.blogspot.com/2008/02/morality-evolutionary-bases.html

    Forgive the shameless self-promotion. :P

  32. #32 raven
    March 9, 2008

    Vox is just mentally ill, crazy. No big deal. They are common.

    He is also widely considered to be the next Mall Shooter. That is a big deal. There is crazy and then there is really, very crazy. Could be the next Cho Seung or Matthew Murray.

    I feel sorry for anyone who lives within driving distance of him.

  33. #33 Ichthyic
    March 9, 2008

    suspect PZ is being just a bit mischievous here, as he understands better than most that science is not a magic black box and therefore almost surely grasps how one can use the discoveries of science to prove that other aspects of science are broken. Indeed, one might even say that I learned how to do so from him.

    how could you have learned how to analyze one branch of science from another, when you have no background in science to begin with?

    or did you mix up fantasy with reality again, naughty boy.

  34. #34 craig
    March 9, 2008

    actually I’d say that the Space Shuttle IS a pretty good argument against manned spaceflight.

    but that’s not what you meant.

  35. #35 Wes
    March 9, 2008

    It must be ironic to see how someone with such a complete inability to understand science should nevertheless find it so easy to kick around scientists on what is supposed to be their own turf.

    Posted by: Vox | March 9, 2008 6:12 PM

    I know nothing about medicine, but if I completely disregarded everything known in the field and unscrupulously started attacking doctors and telling them how to do their jobs, I’m sure I’d find it pretty easy, too. Anything is easy if you ignore all the hard work involved and just pretend you know how to do it. Hell, I sit on the couch in front of the TV and “coach” college football every fall–maybe I should replace Bob Stoops or Pete Carroll…

    Did it ever occur to you that the reason people don’t devote a hell of a lot of time to responding to your utterly misinformed and illogical arguments might be the same reason why Joe Paterno isn’t going to bother correcting me if I second guess one of his calls? It’s rather arrogant and obnoxious to declare oneself to be an intellectual giant and demand attention from scientists without even knowing a damn thing about science. Of course they ignore you. Get over yourself.

  36. #36 Kagehi
    March 9, 2008

    VD. I don’t have any credentials in linguistics either, and don’t even remember more than about 0.05% of the Spanish I took in high school, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell the difference between say Chinese, in which million of books have been written, and a entire civilization uses to talk to each other, and something like Klingon, which almost nothing has been written in, isn’t used by any nation, at least outside of the narrow confines of inventing fictional stories, and which no one except crazy Star Trek fans actually speak. Such goes the same for the theology. Lots of fans go to special conventions to babble about it, but at the end of the day, no one follows it 100% exactly to guide their justice systems, personal lives, or governments (at least not ever once successfully, despite abortive attempts to do so), and when confronted with real problems that need to be solved, they pick up either a hammer, or a microscope, not a Bible, to find a solution. Strange how the usefulness of Klingon and the usefulness of ***every*** answer ever derived from theology are roughly equal outside their respective convention halls. lol

    Besides, we have seen this idiot argument a lot, and it falls flat, since a lot (probably 70-80% here) of the people calling theology insane and useless are probably, by exposure to it from birth, constant study of it before they gave it up, and in some cases, consideration of entry into the so called “field of experts” in it, or even membership in that, as qualified, as any of the people you think have more valuable opinion. In fact, I will say that, for the most part, the majority of people I have seen post here are **more** qualified, since they not only studied one religion to the point where it became obvious to them it was bunk, but studied hundreds. Your *experts* half the time don’t even know there are common elements between Christian mythology and ancient Greek, never mind why this undermines their positions, instead of improving them. The few that do are either deists, who would call you as nuts as we do, or denialists that insist all the evidence that doesn’t conform to their theological views is a conspiracy to undermine some truth only those that ignore or deny *all* evidence can understand. This is your car mechanic insisting he can’t work on your Ford, because any similarity between it and the Chevys he works on are lies and a conspiracy to undermine his personal knowledge of the unique Ford design. I.e., its insane, invalid, and not worthy of being called “expertise”.

  37. #37 DavidONE
    March 9, 2008

    Ah, that disturbing mix of annoyance and amusement at the righteously stupid digging their hole ever deeper. This one prompted me to reply. In case it gets cut from comments at ‘Vox Day':

    I think this website and many of its inhabitants can best be categorised as ‘slow motion car wreck’. It’s horrible to watch but you can’t help yourself looking at what comes next.

    The rabid denial of reality is astounding. There appears to be a group delusion of a ‘global secular atheist scientist conspiracy’. So, all the way around the planet, in every university in every country, hordes of evil scientists, who practice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method, are propagating lies in order to stifle the beautiful truth about the Judeo Christian fairy tale superstition revealed truth?

    These hundreds of thousands scientists, and scientifically curious laymen, have somehow secretly combined and colluded to deny what a handful of scientifically illiterate Xians and assorted religious fundamentalists have concluded is the truth, based on their ~1500 year old book? Okaaay.

    Here’s a slightly different look at that:

    * Scientist: “I look at the world around me and make sense of it based on the evidence presented.”
    * Xian: “I read my god book, written by ignorant, superstitious, Bronze Age men and desperately look for evidence to support it and even more desperately reject anything that might contradict it.”

    Much better.

    Oh well, at least ‘Vox Day’ got to plug his waste of perfectly good trees book again.

    Or maybe this is all a big parody a la http://www.landoverbaptist.org/? We live in hope….

  38. #38 Kseniya
    March 9, 2008

    No doubt. Now, just what are Richard Dawkins’s credentials in theology and history? Sam Harris’s in military science? Phil Plait’s in biology?

    And Vox, what are your qualifications for speaking as an expert in not just one of these fields, but in all of them? That is, after all, your tacit claim, implicitly staked by the arguments you make. I grant you expertise in sophistry. Beyond that, I have my doubts.

  39. #39 Tim
    March 9, 2008

    Uh: lets be a bit careful about things dark “…discovery of dark matter and dark energy…” While I will admit that the evidence of some sort of “dark matter” or WIMPS is beginning to convince me that it is a better hypothesis than MOND, etc. The evidence for “dark energy” is not nearly as good – swiss cheese universe anyone; (maybe we were premature at assuming a spherical, isotropic and homogeneous cow); many other alternate hypothesis cannot, at this point, be ruled out. Let’s replace discovery with “the hypothesis of” and wait a bit – the jury is still out!

  40. #40 Chet
    March 9, 2008

    I suspect PZ is being just a bit mischievous here, as he understands better than most that science is not a magic black box and therefore almost surely grasps how one can use the discoveries of science to prove that other aspects of science are broken.

    Sorry, Vox, it just ain’t so. Science is a body of knowledge developed via a certain methodology (the scientific method, natch) and therefore, within science, you can at best show that part of that knowledge is false within that methodology, or that some claims of fact aren’t science because they didn’t follow from that methodology, but you can’t impugn the methodology itself with the discoveries of science, by definition.

    Daniel Dennett’s uncharacteristically stupid statement to the contrary, the incredible precision of a physicist’s model says absolutely nothing about the usefulness of a biologist’s model

    Wrong again – since biology is a kind of chemistry, which is a kind of physics. Only a great ignoramus would try to sever all connections between them – of course, needless to say, that separation is the hallmark of ID/creationism, which asserts that life arose on Earth independent of any natural physical law. (God just “did it.”)

    Sorry, Vox, but there’s a reason nobody takes you seriously and your books won’t even sell at the dollar store; it’s not your unfortunate haircut, it’s the fact that you just don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, ever.

  41. #41 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 9, 2008

    A DISCLAIMER, OF SORTS

    Well. In a sense I’ve been quote-mined, in a sense I haven’t.

    On the one hand, my brief on Phil Plait’s gloss on an evolutionary account of humankind is accurately quoted:

    In brief, I think that Phil’s comments were intemperate and, taken literally, pretty much impossible to defend. He’s on pretty solid ground when he’s talking about the existence of dark matter and dark energy, but his brief on evolutionary biology runs far afield.

    Vox neglected to share my second paragraph, though, which provides some context:

    I would say that evolutionary biology provides a conceptual framework to evaluate the degree to which ethical principles/cultural mores etc. are consonant with or (more controversially) derived from our biology. It’s a valid research program within evolutionary biology, but to claim that the reigning model in which the program is nested ‘explains’ ethical concepts in and of itself is a rhetorical overreach, likely prompted by his own beliefs.

    Notice I didn’t rule out the possibility that the research program is likely to yield testable claims, or that such claims could provide more evidence for an evolutionary account of human thought, including ethical systems. I am, in fact, inclined to believe that both are likely to occur. One of the commenters on Phil’s site notes (correctly) that I am being a little picky, and that’s true. It’s just that I see that exaggerated claims in the general culture tend to be appropriated as weapons in the evo/creo wars, and I’m always at pains to let my students know where our models are well-supported, and where they are largely speculative. I’m very sympathetic to evolutionary psychology in general, but I’m often appalled by the cavalier way speculations within this field are presented. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m opposed to the program or that the program isn’t science. I’m not, and it is.

    Further, on the general topic of credentials to which many of the proceeding posts allude, it is rather comical of Vox to present me as some authority on evolutionary biology. I’m just a well-read high school science teacher with a passion for teaching evolution well who has had some spirited and civil exchanges with Vox in the past. I think I held up my end of that pretty well, but you folk can judge for yourself.

    Anyway, if you’re reading this, Vox, I want to make clear that people like PZ really do know their stuff where evolutionary theory is concerned. I happen to draw conclusions different from theirs in certain areas, but I don’t do so for scientific reasons. I think PZ would say something similar about his personal beliefs, and if not, he can correct me. If you’re scoring rhetorical points (which seems to be your aim), you’re doing so against something other than science.

    PS: Vox, here’s a thought: why not come over to our side, where your intellect and unorthodox way of posing problems would be truly productive, rather than merely a way of amusing yourself and others?

  42. #42 JimC
    March 10, 2008

    Dunning-Kruger Effect

    That explains Teddy Day to a tee. He is a textbook case.

    Now, just what are Richard Dawkins’s credentials in theology and history

    Everyones on equal footing with theology with the possible exception of knowing more arguments and the details of each. It shouldn’t be an ology at all and there is no way to verify any of it as legit.

    How does one become an ‘expert’ at theology past just knowing what it is? All theology but up against 1000’s more.

  43. #43 JimC
    March 10, 2008

    And it must be said Ted’s book is,well, poor and the review above just highlights a few of the major intellectual problems.

  44. #44 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “Wrong again – since biology is a kind of chemistry, which is a kind of physics. Only a great ignoramus would try to sever all connections between them – of course, needless to say, that separation is the hallmark of ID/creationism, which asserts that life arose on Earth independent of any natural physical law. (God just “did it.”)”

    err…he’s not severing all connections between them. he’s not saying that the various sciences aren’t related. he’s saying that the accuracy of a model that a biologist proposes about say, the population growth of animal x doesn’t in and of itself lend any credit to the accuracy of a physicists model of umm…subatomic particle interaction.

  45. #45 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “…but you can’t impugn the methodology itself with the discoveries of science, by definition.”

    read his posts in this thread. he isn’t bashing the methodology. god that’s twice you’ve fucked up. lrn2read

  46. #46 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2008

    read his posts in this thread. he isn’t bashing the methodology

    no, just the entire scientific method itself, as nothing but “philosophical materialism”. That’s been Beale’s MO from blogging day 1, and is exactly what he started off the relevant post on his blog with.

    somehow, in your haste to admonish us to take a closer look at the trees, you seem to have missed the forest.

    I would suggest buying some better glasses, but somehow, I don’t think that would really help in your case.

  47. #47 anonymouse
    March 10, 2008

    “And Vox, what are your qualifications for speaking as an expert in not just one of these fields, but in all of them? That is, after all, your tacit claim, implicitly staked by the arguments you make. I grant you expertise in sophistry. Beyond that, I have my doubts.”

    if you’re following the thread, you’ll notice that it was another poster who made a comment about expertise. VD, in pursuing that poster’s train of thought, said ‘ok, what are these guys’ qualifications?’

    it was some poster here who started sayin ‘blah blah blah laymen know just enough to disdain experts etc’

    read through VD’s posts again, try to find where he says you must be an ‘expert’ in a field to discuss it, or make decisions relevant to that field. you won’t. you thought you would, because you aren’t reading what the dude is typing. your imagining his arguments rather than reading them. and he’s suppose to be the crazy one.

  48. #48 Anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    Vox wrote: “Daniel Dennett’s uncharacteristically stupid statement to the contrary, the incredible precision of a physicist’s model says absolutely nothing about the usefulness of a biologist’s model, let alone a sociologist’s, and the existence of the first does not justify practicing an immoral doxastic division of labor in favor of the last simply because of a blind faith in the idea that ‘science works.'”

    I don’t know how “useful” evolution is, but bacteria that was on earth about 3.5 billion years ago evolved through reproduction into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. Here is a link:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

  49. #49 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2008

    try to find where he says you must be an ‘expert’ in a field to discuss it,

    that’s exactly the REVERSE of the argument being made against Vox.

    sure you’re not 12 oz mouse?

    http://www.adultswim.com/shows/12ozmouse/

    seriously, lay off the sauce, man.

  50. #50 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “that’s exactly the REVERSE of the argument being made against Vox.

    sure you’re not 12 oz mouse?

    http://www.adultswim.com/shows/12ozmouse/

    seriously, lay off the sauce, man.”

    from what i’ve read, it looks as if some are attacking VD for claiming that only experts can offer relevant commentary on a subject. and that is not what he claimed. after reading your post i re-read some of the comments, and i still don’t understand your post. i will not lay off the sauce, with it, i control the universe.

  51. #51 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “I don’t know how “useful” evolution is, but bacteria that was on earth about 3.5 billion years ago evolved through reproduction into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. Here is a link:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    lrn2read. he’s saying the accuracy of one scientist’s model does not lend any accuracy to another scientist’s model. shit didn’t i just post this?

    assuming i understand VD correctly, lemme try to break it down. i’m an astrophysicist and i create a very detailed model of how fusion happens in a main sequence star, from hydrogen all the way up to iron or w/e. and let’s say you are a biochemist who proposes a model about how three various cholesterol drugs will affect the cardiovascular system (i’m pullin all this outta my ass, as i’m sure you can tell). My model of stellar evolution might prove to be very accurate, but just because my model is accurate, that doesn’t mean that your model, as a fellow scientist, is accurate at all.

  52. #52 Norman Doering
    March 10, 2008

    Janine wrote:

    Please tell me this person went medieval on Vox’s ass.

    Careful guys, don’t let Vox get you too enraged. I suspect that’s part of his strategy to get publicity for his books and articles. If you look at some of the things he has done in the past, his attack on PZ’s daughter, his vile spin on the Colorado church shootings that blamed atheism, his other weird attacks on science, they seemed designed to provoke a reaction that sends his name echoing across the net. (I’ve certainly noticed that my provocative posts bring up reader volume on my blog. And one of my Vox posts has the most comments on my blog:)
    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2008/01/just-one-more-of-vox-days-lies-andor.html

  53. #53 Kseniya
    March 10, 2008

    Anonymous, I believe you have a point, and that I did misunderstand the context of Theodore’s remarks by not sufficently back-tracing the thread. However, you make the mistake of assuming my opinion is based solely upon what has been written here on this thread. It’s the central theme of Theodore’s work: that his “raw intellect” trumps knowledge. That’s not an implicit claim of superior expertise in the field of knowledge under discussion? However, in this thread-local context, I concede the point. You are correct.

    Also, please note that I made no remark that implied that Theordore was “the crazy one.” And yet you imply that, by misapprehending the context of the remark I responded to, that I am in fact the crazy one. Tsk, tsk. I’m… hurt.

  54. #54 Kseniya
    March 10, 2008

    Oops, that should have been addressed to “anonymouse”.

  55. #55 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “Also, please note that I made no remark that implied that Theordore was “the crazy one.” And yet you imply that, by misapprehending the context of the remark I responded to, that I am in fact the crazy one. Tsk, tsk. I’m… hurt.”

    the crazy remark was targeted at some other posters who presented their opinion on VD’s sanity. Disagree with the man all you want, he isn’t stupid and he isn’t crazy.

  56. #56 Kseniya
    March 10, 2008

    the crazy remark was targeted at some other posters who presented their opinion on VD’s sanity.

    Then why did you address it to me? It almost makes me think you weren’t really reading the thread, and had imagined, rather then understood, what I’d actually written.

  57. #57 Glazius
    March 10, 2008

    Well, you do use less than 10% of your brain. By mass. The other 90% or so is insulation and materials transport, and thinking you can use the “missing” 90% of the brain is like thinking you can increase the square footage in your house by ripping out the insulation and the water pipes.

  58. #58 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2008

    Disagree with the man all you want, he isn’t stupid and he isn’t crazy.

    define delusional, then see a man who makes it his mission in life to accuse science of being poorly wrought because of some invented notion of philosophical materialism.

    sorry, but when you see someone single-mindedly pursuing a delusion, thoughts of mental stability naturally come to mind.

    perhaps YOU don’t see him as bugfuck nuts…

    I’ll leave you to consider what comes next.

  59. #59 Zarquon
    March 10, 2008

    He’s a reactionary misogynist creationist loonytarian. Of course he’s stupid and crazy.

  60. #60 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2008

    they seemed designed to provoke a reaction that sends his name echoing across the net.

    he’s the “successful” version of Larry Farfarman.

    no more sane, though.

  61. #61 raven
    March 10, 2008

    Disagree with the man all you want, he isn’t stupid and he isn’t crazy.

    Vox is crazy. And stupid. And dishonest.

    You on the other hand, may be stupid and dishonest. Or crazy. But probably all three.

    Anyone who thinks Vox is sane has problems. Reminds me of the unabomber case, Ted Kazhinksy. There were only 3 people who thought he was sane, Ted himself and the 2 prosecutors. And the DAs weren’t sure.

  62. #62 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “Then why did you address it to me? It almost makes me think you weren’t really reading the thread, and had imagined, rather then understood, what I’d actually written.”

    i assumed my post wasn’t being read by just you.

  63. #63 Janine, ID
    March 10, 2008

    Norman, all I did was complete the joke Blake Stacey began. I think that Vox Day is so wound up that anything can set him off. I am merely a minor jester here, beneath the notice of such an august being.

  64. #64 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “Vox is crazy. And stupid. And dishonest.

    You on the other hand, may be stupid and dishonest. Or crazy. But probably all three.

    Anyone who thinks Vox is sane has problems. Reminds me of the unabomber case, Ted Kazhinksy. There were only 3 people who thought he was sane, Ted himself and the 2 prosecutors. And the DAs weren’t sure.”

    NO U

  65. #65 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “He’s a reactionary misogynist creationist loonytarian. Of course he’s stupid and crazy.”

    from what i can tell, he doesn’t hate women, nor does he believe what the typical creationist believes. as far as being reactionary goes, i’m not sure what you mean by that.

  66. #66 raven
    March 10, 2008

    Being an expert in theology is like being an expert on the universe of Superman. You may know all about Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Krypton, Jor-el, the Phantom zone, and so on but who cares and what good is it.

    And FWIW, Supermans original name was Kal-El and the old capital of Krypton was Kandor, which was minituarized by an alien android.

  67. #67 Kseniya
    March 10, 2008

    i assumed my post wasn’t being read by just you.

    So? So what? How does that excuse the obvious implication that it was I, not Vox, who was “the crazy one”?

    Shall we chalk it up to poor paragraph construction or sloppy composition?

    Or shall we recognize that I’m just pulling your chain, and that it’s time for you to call me on it and for me to admit it, so that we can both chuckle over it and move on?

    Or shall we consider the possibility that you’re one of those fucking assholes who calls everyone on their mistakes, but who won’t (or can’t) admit to even the most trivial errors of their own?

    Shall we put it to a vote? I wonder what the rest of our gentle readers will decide. Or we could leave it up to just you and me. Your choice.

  68. #68 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    “So? So what? How does that excuse the obvious implication that it was I, not Vox, who was “the crazy one”?

    Shall we chalk it up to poor paragraph construction or sloppy composition?

    Or shall we recognize that I’m just pulling your chain, and that it’s time for you to call me on it and for me to admit it, so that we can both chuckle over it and move on?

    Or shall we consider the possibility that you’re one of those fucking assholes who calls everyone on their mistakes, but who won’t (or can’t) admit to even the most trivial errors of their own?

    Shall we put it to a vote? I wonder what the rest of our gentle readers will decide. Or we could leave it up to just you and me. Your choice.”

    part of my post was directed at whoever it was that i quoted, as well as anyone who was thinking in the same vein as whoever i quoted. the last comment about the ‘crazy one’ was directed at this thread’s readers’ in general.

  69. #69 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2008

    Being an expert in theology is like being an expert on the universe of Superman. You may know all about Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Krypton, Jor-el, the Phantom zone, and so on but who cares and what good is it.

    I wonder if Hector Avalos has ever used that one?

  70. #70 anonymous
    March 10, 2008

    actually, i think knowing something about a variety of belief systems could be very useful for political, military health reasons, to name just a few. we all know of many instances where understanding these things could be useful. e.g., you’re tyin to slow the spread of AIDS in africa, would be good to know if the people there have some religious reason for opposing condom use or w/e.

  71. #71 Galloway
    March 10, 2008

    VD writes (in TIA): ” The only straightforward claim to omniscience is made on god’s behalf
    by the apostle John, who clearly states “He knows everything”. However, the context in
    which the statement is made also indicates that this particular ‘everything’ is not intended
    to encompass life and the universe, but rather everything about human hearts. Not only
    does this interpretation make more sense in light of the verse than with an
    inexplicable revelation of a divine quality that appears no where else in the bible, but it is
    also in keeping with many previous statements made about God’s knowledge.”

    It sounds like the God that VD worships is not omniscient, and therefore, not perfect.
    This puts VD in direct conflict with the views held by mainstream christianity. So, if
    VD claims to be a christian, is he a fraud, or just dabbling in cultism?

  72. #72 Raphael
    March 10, 2008

    “He’s a reactionary misogynist creationist loonytarian. Of course he’s stupid and crazy.”

    I think he’s actually pretty smart in a Bobby Fisher kind of way, with the role of chess being taken by high-level medieval schloarship type sophistry.

  73. #73 Monado, FCD
    March 10, 2008

    It seems to me that Vox is using the usual red herring of confusing methodological naturalism (appeal only to natural causes) with philosophical naturalism (deny existence of gods). The former is the basis of the scientific method. The latter is irrelevant to it.

  74. #74 pedlar
    March 10, 2008

    Anonymouse #47 :

    read through VD’s posts again, try to find where he says you must be an ‘expert’ in a field to discuss it, or make decisions relevant to that field. you won’t.

    VD #22 :

    Now, just what are Richard Dawkins’s credentials in theology and history? Sam Harris’s in military science? Phil Plait’s in biology?

    Anonymouse, you’re a moron.

  75. #75 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 10, 2008

    One basic thing I don’t get:

    Matter is a form of energy. Ergo, dark matter is a form of energy. Dark energy is obviously a form of energy, too. So why should a philosophical materialist have the slightest problem with dark matter or dark energy?

    Perhaps Mr Beale is living 103 years behind the time and hasn’t come across E = mc yet?

    Apart from all this, I’d also like to direct attention to comment 73.

  76. #76 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 10, 2008

    One basic thing I don’t get:

    Matter is a form of energy. Ergo, dark matter is a form of energy. Dark energy is obviously a form of energy, too. So why should a philosophical materialist have the slightest problem with dark matter or dark energy?

    Perhaps Mr Beale is living 103 years behind the time and hasn’t come across E = mc yet?

    Apart from all this, I’d also like to direct attention to comment 73.

  77. #77 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 10, 2008

    I tried to post this earlier and it never happened, and I gather there’s been a systemic failure at SciBlogs.

    Anyway, I’ll try again…

    A DISCLAIMER, OF SORTS

    Well. In a sense I’ve been quote-mined, in a sense I haven’t.

    On the one hand, my brief on Phil Plait’s gloss on an evolutionary account of humankind is accurately quoted:

    In brief, I think that Phil’s comments were intemperate and, taken literally, pretty much impossible to defend. He’s on pretty solid ground when he’s talking about the existence of dark matter and dark energy, but his brief on evolutionary biology runs far afield.

    Vox neglected to share my second paragraph, though, which provides some context:

    I would say that evolutionary biology provides a conceptual framework to evaluate the degree to which ethical principles/cultural mores etc. are consonant with or (more controversially) derived from our biology. It’s a valid research program within evolutionary biology, but to claim that the reigning model in which the program is nested ‘explains’ ethical concepts in and of itself is a rhetorical overreach, likely prompted by his own beliefs.

    Notice I didn’t rule out the possibility that the research program is likely to yield testable claims, or that such claims could provide more evidence for an evolutionary account of human thought, including ethical systems. I am, in fact, inclined to believe that both are likely to occur. One of the commenters on Phil’s site notes (correctly) that I am being a little picky, and that’s true. It’s just that I see that exaggerated claims in the general culture tend to be appropriated as weapons in the evo/creo wars, and I’m always at pains to let my students know where our models are well-supported, and where they are largely speculative. I’m very sympathetic to evolutionary psychology in general, but I’m often appalled by the cavalier way speculations within this field are presented. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m opposed to the program or that the program isn’t science. I’m not, and it is.

    Further, on the general topic of credentials to which many of the proceeding posts allude, it is rather comical of Vox to present me as some authority on evolutionary biology. I’m just a well-read high school science teacher with a passion for teaching evolution well who has had some spirited and civil exchanges with Vox in the past. I think I held up my end of that pretty well, but you folk can judge for yourself.

    Anyway, if you’re reading this, Vox, I want to make clear that people like PZ really do know their stuff where evolutionary theory is concerned. I happen to draw conclusions different from theirs in certain areas, but I don’t do so for scientific reasons. I think PZ would say something similar about his personal beliefs, and if not, he can correct me. If you’re scoring rhetorical points (which seems to be your aim), you’re doing so against something other than science.

    PS: Vox, here’s a thought: why not come over to our side, where your intellect and unorthodox way of posing problems would be truly productive, rather than merely a way of amusing yourself and others?

  78. #78 Kseniya
    March 10, 2008

    This commenter misses Scott’s once-frequent visits here.

  79. #79 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 11, 2008

    #77: You’re entirely too kind.

    I lurk quite a bit, but it seems like I just don’t have the energy for sustained blogging or commenting right now. Part of it is the fact that Easter comes way early in the liturgical calendar this year (I’m a church musician). In fact, it will be another two centuries before it comes this early again.

    Though, as Jack Chick and Tim LaHaye and the rest of the Screw-the-Earth-Now Gang in Christendom would be quick to point out, we’ll all be raptured before that happens. (commences holding breath)

  80. #80 Kseniya
    March 11, 2008

    *grin* @ “raptured”

    Not too kind, Scott – sufficiently honest. :-)

    I understand the energy thing. Sometimes I lack energy for this. Currently I lack energy for some things I ought to be doing instead of this, but this is my distraction from some of the pressures of my life. (I guess I could have picked something more relaxing… LOL… but this place keeps me on my toes!)

    I’ve done some singing in churches (hey I even got paid to sing at a church on Christmas Eve in 2004, that financed the figgy pudding and gruel I doled out to Dad and my brothers the next day) but my increasing discomfort with some of the rituals and creeds made being in the choir less enjoyable… less bearable, even. Kind of a shame, cuz the music was really great at times. I’ll still go to a Messiah sing, anytime!

    Gah… I’m babbling. Nice to see your ‘voice’ in here. Have fun with the music!

  81. #81 Norman Doering
    March 11, 2008

    Scott Hatfield wrote:

    I think that Phil’s comments were intemperate and, taken literally, pretty much impossible to defend. He’s on pretty solid ground when he’s talking about the existence of dark matter and dark energy, but his brief on evolutionary biology runs far afield.

    I don’t think it runs that far afield. All he said was:

    Second, evolutionary biology does in fact explain our concepts of justice, equality, and freedom. Just because you say it doesn’t doesn’t mean it doesn’t. We evolved these concepts as prehistoric humans and the species we evolved from developed into tribal cultures. Those concepts helped ensure our survival, so we adapted to include them in our daily lives.

    What I see that might be interpreted as wrong is the statement: “We evolved these concepts as prehistoric humans.” It’s pretty clear that we evolved quite few of them long before we were human. Pack animals like wolves have “social rules” they live by and monkeys show sense of justice.

    He doesn’t explain more than “those concepts helped ensure our survival” and that seems pretty obvious. We’re not talking detailed explanations here, just very broad and general explanations.

    Far more mysterious than the evolution of morality and a sense of justice would be the evolution of religion and war. There don’t seem to be any evolutionary precursors to those aspects of humanity in the animal kingdom and it’s not clear how they aid our survival.

  82. #82 Kseniya
    March 11, 2008

    Norman, didn’t Jane Goodall witness a war between neighboring tribes of chimps? It was a brutal affair in which the losing tribe was not just decimated – it was eradicated. The cause? Territorial competition for resources, I guess…

  83. #83 Norman Doering
    March 11, 2008

    Kseniya wrote:

    Norman, didn’t Jane Goodall witness a war between neighboring tribes of chimps?

    That sounds familiar, but I’ll have to google it when I have time. And I now remember that ant colonies have wars too. I guess I could be very wrong in my assumption that there was no precursor to human-like war in the animal kingdom.

  84. #84 Kseniya
    March 11, 2008

    Here’s an interesting take on it:

    Apes of war… is it in our genes.

    That’s just one of many, by the way. A google of [“Jane Goodall” chimpanzee war] turns up 64,800 hits.

    The ant-colony war phenomenon would be interesting to read up on, too, though the chimpwar literature is probably a little more relevant to the issue of human war. ;-)

    I wonder if ants have religion? Chemically-induced revelations and ecstasies passed down from their queen?

  85. #85 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 11, 2008

    Norm, I don’t disagree with the general point that human ethics may have been the product of natural selection. My caveat is with the confidence that Phil made his claim. Evolutionary psychology/sociobiology are research programs within evolutionary biology, and they are productive, but they are still in their infancy. If we paint with a broad brush and say that these research programs ‘explain’ human ethics we’re writing checks that our programs can’t cash, and when the creationists call us on it (as they will), we end up looking foolish. So you might say that my quibble is one of strategic concern.

    The synthesis that Hamilton, Wilson, Trivers etc. kicked off hasn’t as yet subsumed the social sciences and philosophy, as Wilson famously suggested in On Human Nature. Until heavy doses of evolutionary biology, endocrinology and neuroscience are part and parcel of those disciplines at the undergrad level, we should hold off on any triumphalist evolutionary account of human ethics. Instead, we should emphasize individual findings of note in this realm and note that they are consistent with a general evolutionary account, and leave it at that.

    Just my two cents…SH

  86. #86 Norman Doering
    March 11, 2008

    Scott Hatfield wrote:

    My caveat is with the confidence that Phil made his claim.

    I feel very confident too.

    Evolutionary psychology/sociobiology are research programs within evolutionary biology, and they are productive, but they are still in their infancy. If we paint with a broad brush and say that these research programs ‘explain’ human ethics we’re writing checks that our programs can’t cash,…

    And exactly what kind of check could ID proponents and creationists cash? All they’ve got is a gap for a god of the gaps. There seems to be a lot of research out there for us to point too.

    … and when the creationists call us on it (as they will), we end up looking foolish. So you might say that my quibble is one of strategic concern.

    You really think Phil looks foolish? More foolish than Bill Dembski or Ben Stein or Vox Day?

    I see your point about how Phil could have been more careful but it’s really absurd for Vox to jump on that when there already is enough research to make a general case and he has nothing.

  87. #87 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 11, 2008

    Norm, I actually agree with you. Dembski and Stein and Vox are out of their element, and they do make fools of themselves for time to time.

    But here’s the thing: they typically either don’t realize their foolishness, or else don’t care if they look foolish to us. We’re not their intended audience. And we don’t win by looking less foolish than Ben Stein or Vox Day. We only win if we look wise and they look foolish. Though, to be perfectly frank, I feel more than a little foolish, since I shot my mouth off and ended up seeing my words played up as Exhibit A by Vox.

    Hmm. This is one of those heads I lose, tails they win type of deals I guess. Obviously, I haven’t exactly written the book on how not to have my words used against me, so maybe I should hesitate before I give you and Phil any more unsolicited advice.

    As always, enjoy reading your thoughts….SH

  88. #88 Ichthyic
    March 11, 2008

    I feel more than a little foolish, since I shot my mouth off and ended up seeing my words played up as Exhibit A by Vox.

    welcome to the wonderful world of blogging.

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