Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


agit-prop, opinion manipulation and well-poisoning games

Rationalist skeptic comments on the manipulative arguments for Darwinism

Part of an excerpt from his new book, Taking Leave of Darwin (2021). Science historian Michael Flannery, among others, have often noted this style of Darwinian argument. One might say that it relies on the public’s willingness to be persuaded of the proposition far more on the innate intellectual value of the proposition. Read More ›

L & FP, 49-i: The Reichstag Fire-panic lesson on agit prop and lawfare

Vivid recently reminded us of the painful, bloody lesson of history taught by Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933. I responded, noting: [I]sn’t it interesting that the Reichstag Fire crisis isn’t a standard part of our general education package. It almost makes one wonder why it is that the story of how the most universally acknowledged unmitigatedly evil dictator seized absolute power through agit prop and lawfare is somehow pushed to the margins of our common fund of knowledge. Not quite a conspiracy of silencing but at least a common evasion of plain duty by those who inform and educate us. Ironically, on a topic where learning this is vital to defending our civilisation, the common thought association fed by Read More ›

L&FP, 48 – i: The conscience factor in consciousness

Conscience is a major aspect of our consciousness, one of the “first facts” of our embodiment in the world, thus part of the start-point for sound thinking. Hence, Cicero’s recognition that it was consensus even in his day that “[sound] conscience is a law”: Given word games that may crop up, let us note a high quality dictionary: con·science (kŏn′shəns)n.1. a. An awareness of morality in regard to one’s behavior; a sense of right and wrong that urges one to act morally: Let your conscience be your guide.b. A source of moral or ethical judgment or pronouncement: a document that serves as the nation’s conscience.c. Conformity to one’s own sense of right conduct: a person of unflagging conscience. 2. The Read More ›

L&FP, 47: The challenge of “proof” in a world of radical doubt and hyperskepticism

“Prove it . . .” is a familiar challenge, one, often strengthened to “unless you prove it I can disregard what you claim.” However, ever since Epictetus, c. 100 AD, it has met its match: DISCOURSESCHAPTER XXV How is logic necessary? When someone in [Epictetus’] audience said, Convince me that logic is necessary, he answered: Do you wish me to demonstrate this to you?—Yes.—Well, then, must I use a demonstrative argument?—And when the questioner had agreed to that, Epictetus asked him. How, then, will you know if I impose upon you?—As the man had no answer to give, Epictetus said: Do you see how you yourself admit that all this instruction is necessary, if, without it, you cannot so much Read More ›

But the war IS actually on logic … and that’s the point

John West: "Reading the rest of her article I realized she simply didn’t know how to frame a proper comparison. She actually was attempting to malign those who support intelligent design, not those who tried to create panic over it. Apparently neither she nor her editor is particularly good with logic." But that’s the point. The whole enterprise is a war on logic. It's like the war on math and the war on science. And there is a sophisticated public for that now. Read More ›

Haeckel’s biased, manipulative, dishonest drawings

It is strange that Haeckel has come up again, so let us first understand just how manipulative and dishonest he was in his books that popularised Evolutionism in Germany and elsewhere. As a start, here is his infamous drawing of heads of men and other primates: This was a time when photography was not ubiquitous, where trips to Zoos and Museums were relatively rare and so “heavy artillery” “facts” in drawings like this from respected scientists, scholars and publishers would have powerful impact. I just say, failed duty to truth, right reason, prudence [including warrant] and fairness. Likely, though, Haeckel did not see where this sort of racist propaganda would end, in the 1930’s and 40’s. It is in this Read More ›

Ten (or so) Anti-Intelligent Design Books You Should Read

I have posted the second video in my two part book recommendation series on the YouTube channel. In the previous video I highlighted many books that argue for intelligent design. My view is that proponents of design should face the strongest criticisms possible, and not be afraid of doing so. In line with this philosophy, in this video I talk about just a handful of the many books that attempt to refute ID. Again, I would be interested to know what others think are the best books that attempt to show ID is wrong. Ten (or so) Anti-Intelligent Design Books You Should Read

L&FP 46: A big questions challenge — confident objective knowledge vs grand delusion in a going-concern world

In recent weeks, we have seen again and again how the acid of hyperskepticism has reduced our civilisation’s confidence in self-awareness much less understanding of the world and its roots. Even as Evolutionary Materialistic Scientism, Officialdom and their media promoters (and censors) seek to create a dominant narrative. So, how do we attack this issue? First, let’s reduce it to a graphic: Once that is on the table, it is clear that our diverse worldviews and the extent to which any such can claim to be well warranted knowledge are at the crux of the matter. As a key aspect, as we are ourselves embedded (“apparently,” embodied with brains, senses tied to brains and self-awareness) in the going concern world, Read More ›

L&FP 44a: What is 2 + 2, Mr Smith? (1984 as demonstration of how first duties and first truths are inextricably intertwined)

1984 is a classic satirical novel on the nature of tyranny in the mass media driven, information age, totalitarian surveillance state. Accordingly, it is vital to appreciate the force of the Winston Smith on the Rack scene — yes, taken from the related movie — where the issue of the self-evident truth 2 + 2 = 4 comes up: First truths, in short, are inextricably intertwined with first duties, and both are equally self-evident. As one clear manifestation, gross injustice is always rooted in false, unreasonable, unwarranted, dishonest thinking. In case one is tempted to imagine that this is a dismissible satirical exaggeration, kindly ponder the sickening judicial torture-murder of Czech national hero and martyr, Milada Horakova and others on Read More ›

L&FP44: What are Self-evident truths [SET’s] and why do they matter?

A classic case in point of self-evident truth can be seen by splitting our fingers into a two and a three then joining them again — and, sorry, this needs to be hammered home hard as we are cutting across the grain of current education and cultural conditioning. So, pardon demonstration by undeniable example and re-use of an illustration: As a bonus, we see another SET that is like unto the first, self-evident, but is subtler. That error exists is not only a massive empirical fact but an undeniable truth. The attempted denial actually supports the Josiah Royce proposition. By way of Epictetus (c. 180 AD), we can see a third case, SET’s that are first principles of reasoning antecedent Read More ›

Then, they came for Sir Isaac . . .

Newton. The latest year zero reset target, as Telegraph reports: Sir Isaac Newton has been labelled as a potential beneficiary of “colonial-era activity” in draft plans to “decolonise” the engineering curriculum at Sheffield University. Students learning about the mathematician and scientist’s three laws of motion, the core of modern physics, could see changes in their teaching to explain the “global origins and historical context” of his theories, documents suggest. The plans form part of the engineering faculty’s efforts to “challenge long-standing conscious and unconscious biases” among students to tackle “Eurocentric” and “white saviour” approaches to science and maths, and promote “inclusive design”. When objectivity, core physical science and core Math are demonised through implicit, euphemistic tagging as racist, it is Read More ›

L&FP, 41a: Worldview formation, plausibility structures and geostrategic signs of our times

In discussing worldviews, I added an update on how they are formed and relate to plausibility structures, influencing how we decide and act individually and as community in ways that can be at least framed if not outright predicted. As such, I think this is worth headlining separately: ++++++++++ An illustration on factors and influences in worldview formation: Here, we can observe how our perceptions stimulate our thinking, which is also influenced by available knowledge, opinions and views including on key themes tied to core ideas on the world and oneself in it. As we work through our interior lives, we have perceptions, expectations, emotions, focus of attention, reasoning/logic, valuing informed by sense of duty/morals, solution strategies for challenges, discernment, Read More ›