Atheism Darwinist rhetorical tactics Logic and First Principles of right reason Selective Hyperskepticism

HeKS on the “you IDists are quote-mining”/ “heads I win . . .” issue

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HeKS raises a sobering point:

>>Darwinists . . . don’t seem to understand that people are capable of, for example, making ‘statements against interest’, or simply acknowledging facts and data that generally are inconsistent with evolutionary expectations, or with the popular notions of evolutionary theory, or with popular misconceptions regarding the evidence supporting the theory (or theories). Instead, they think – quite ridiculously – that it is inappropriate to quote anyone in support of a premise used in an anti-evolutionary argument unless the person being quoted agrees with a conclusion along the lines of “evolutionary theory is nonsense”.

This creates a ‘heads we win, tails you lose’ scenario, because if an ID proponent quotes an evolutionary biologist (or any other person in any field) who ‘believes in evolution’, then it is quote-mining, but if they quote someone else who also accepts ID, then the quote is to be understood as worthless, because the person they are quoting is already biased in their favor . . . >>

This all too common New Atheist/ Darwinist debater’s rhetorical stunt is an example of conclusion already in hand, let’s find some handy talking points. Yet another selectively hyperskeptical debate pattern that should be corrected by Darwinists and which should be avoided by us all.

Instead, while no authority is better than his facts and logic (i/l/o underlying assumptions), in practical argument, credible witnesses, summaries of experiences and facts, expert testimony to technical facts etc are all important to prudent reasoning.

So we need to assess the reasonable credibility of such sources, and we need to distinguish fact, logic and controlling assumptions. Where, it is very possible to make a key admission against interest — which is a key courtroom proof.

In that context, we then need to reckon with the context of arguments and warrant per inference to best explanation and other ways to ground a conclusion, however provisionally or however firmly.

Nor should we lose sight of the underlying worldviews level issues and influences:

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}
A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}

HeKS has given us excellent food for thought. END

16 Replies to “HeKS on the “you IDists are quote-mining”/ “heads I win . . .” issue

  1. 1
    Jack Jones says:

    HeKs was being too kind KF, they know but the term quote mine appears to have been created to disqualify quotes that are used by critics of their position without being able to show anything wrong with the quotes.

    A lot of these evolutionists do not want their position to be false because for them it has philosophical implications, so they will try and discredit with rhetoric, rather than honestly deal with rare moments of honesty by other evolution proponents.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    JJ, sadly, in some cases you have a point. KF

  3. 3
    bevets says:

    Evolutionists have often protested ‘unfair’ to quoting an evolutionist as if he were against evolution itself. So let it be said from the outset that the vast majority of authorities quoted are themselves ardent believers in evolution. But that is precisely the point… The foundations of the evolutionary edifice are hardly likely to be shaken by a collection of quotes from the many scientists who are biblical creationists. In a court of law, an admission from a hostile witness is the most valuable. Quoting the evolutionary palaeontologist who admits the absence of in-between forms, or the evolutionary biologist who admits the hopelessness of the mutation/selection mechanism, is perfectly legitimate if the admission is accurately represented in its own right, regardless of whether the rest of the article is full of hymns of praise to all the other aspects of evolution. ~ Andrew Snelling

    Coyne complains the book is ‘heavily larded’ with quotations from evolutionists. This leads into his being upset with being quoted himself, as discussed above. That aside, however. I don’t know what to make of this statement. What is a book concerning evolution supposed to contain if not quotes from evolutionists? Quotes from accountants? ~ Michael Behe

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    B, as in you host a considerable collection of quotes: http://bevets.com/quotes.htm with evo quotes: http://bevets.com/equotesj.htm KF

  5. 5
    Eric Anderson says:

    I don’t know what to make of this statement. What is a book concerning evolution supposed to contain if not quotes from evolutionists? Quotes from accountants? ~ Michael Behe

    We might get more light on the subject if we had quotes from accountants than the nonsense some of the materialist evolutionists spout! 🙂

    Seriously, though, the fact that some people are unable to grasp the concept of a statement against interest is quite telling. Of what we cannot be sure: perhaps either their lack of intellectual ability or their lack of intellectual integrity.

    That isn’t to say that sometimes quotes aren’t taken out of context. Indeed, there a couple of quotes from Darwin that are regularly taken out of context (maybe a post for another time). But the regular cries of quote-mining are mostly of the “Wolf!” variety.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    ES, I agree. And, I gather Darwin used his who can trust a monkey’s mind point to stop doubts on his theory, not to highlight that naturalistic epistemology driven by evolutionism becomes self referentially incoherent. Which incoherence is fatal. KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let’s see if our materialists out there are willing to try to claim Nancy Pearcey is twisting out of context when she argues:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . . An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    [–> that is, responsible, rational freedom is undermined. Cf here William Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” [ENV excerpt, Finding Truth (David C. Cook, 2015) by Nancy Pearcey.]

    _____

    I am finding the secondary captcha is behaving really oddly, cycling endlessly. I have had to use a trick to break through it.

  8. 8
    Eric Anderson says:

    kf @6:

    Yes, that is one of the quotes I was thinking about.

    The other that jumps to mind is the well-known “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ . . . ” quote.

    —-

    What is the trick you used to deal with this disastrous Captcha nonsense we have recently been saddled with?

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Gould on gaps and stasis etc, here on — including a live case of accusation, where to this day while there was an error of “the” major groups, I cannot understand why the objector would latch on to that in the teeth of the following corrected cite: “transitions between the major groups are characteristically abrupt”. Where in context, we can see:

    The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change, and the principle of natural selection does not require it—selection can operate rapidly . . . . All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt . . . .

    Even though we have no direct evidence for smooth transitions, [–> notice his underscoring of the “characteristically abrupt” just above] can we invent a reasonable sequence of intermediate forms—that is, viable, functioning organisms—between ancestors and descendants in major structural transitions? Of what possible use are the imperfect incipient stages of useful structures? What good is half a jaw or half a wing? [–> surely this points well above species level] . . . [[Stephen Jay Gould ‘The Return of Hopeful Monsters.’ Natural History, vol. LXXXVI(6), June-July 1977, pp. 22 – 30 & elsewhere.]

    I point out that characteristic implies a dominant, defining pattern that distinguishes from other things that may be held similar.

    Cf. Dictionaries, e.g.:

    char•ac•ter•is•tic (?kær ?k t??r?s t?k)

    adj.
    1. indicating the character or distinctive quality of a person or thing; typical.
    n.
    2. a distinguishing feature or quality.
    3.
    a. the integral part of a common logarithm.
    b. the exponent of 10 in a number expressed in scientific notation.
    [1655–65; Greek]
    char`ac•ter•is?ti•cal•ly, adv.
    syn: See feature.
    Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

    KF

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    EA,

    1: I copied off the intended comment post, cut it out then

    2: put up a short nonsense phrase that on first level captcha then post comment became a comment zxcvb; then

    3: went to the edit — we have 20 minutes — and copy-pasted over the nonsense phrase.

    4: Update, and voila, the posted comment went through.

    Annoying, but it seems there is a major spamming and trolling problem being tackled in the background.

    As for the refresh the captcha then post comment, I have to change my habit of setting up that first then commenting.

    If you see the second level captcha pop up, hit back on browser until you get the comment you wanted then do the short phrase and update, I guess is the way we have to go.

    Brought to you courtesy your friendly neighbourhood troll.

    KF

  11. 11
    Roy says:

    That aside, however. I don’t know what to make of this statement. What is a book concerning evolution supposed to contain if not quotes from evolutionists? Quotes from accountants? ~ Michael Behe

    Evidence. Facts.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Roy, that evidence and those facts will normally be presented first on a literature review that will cite the work, analysis and/or conclusions of known figures. Then, further observations and analysis will be presented and conclusions will be drawn. Where, some highly relevant facts include key admissions against interest. KF

  13. 13
    Phinehas says:

    @Roy

    Are you suggesting that evidence/facts and quotes from evolutionists are mutually exclusive?

  14. 14
    Roy says:

    They usually are when propagated by creationists/IDers.

    But what I’m actually saying is that science is based on evidence, not on arguments from authority, and so a book concerning evolution doesn’t have to contain quotes at all. Behe’s quibbling over what kind of quotes such a book should contain is missing the point entirely.

  15. 15
    Phinehas says:

    @Roy

    …a book concerning evolution doesn’t have to contain quotes at all.

    Of course it doesn’t have to. But with so many great quotes given against interest, surely one cannot blame Behe for including them. After all, it isn’t as though evolutionists consistently present evidence free from any kind of interpretive evaluation. It seems a bit of a double-standard to accuse Behe of not sticking with the evidence in quoting evolutionists. Those very same evolutionists must also have stepped outside the evidence, else Behe couldn’t provide quotes that were not about the evidence, could he?

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Roy, you are now on record as a false accuser who did not even bother to do a check — as could easily have been done — before accusing away. Please leave this thread and do not return if you are unwilling to apologise for a longstanding string of abusive trollish rhetorical stunts. KF

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