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Blinkers Award goes to… Tom Nichols at Scientific American! On why Americans “hate science”

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To him it’s all  real simple:

It happens because some people reject expert information when it goes against their personal values

For its part, the American public is in the grip of a sullen, almost paranoid, narcissism about science and experts. This is not a function of education; the anti-vaccine movement, for example, is actually concentrated among parents with more education than their poorer counterparts. Indeed, ignorance has become hip, with some Americans now wearing their rejection of expert advice as a badge of cultural sophistication. (Consider the number of otherwise intelligent people who advocate consuming raw milk, for example, against the advice of a horrified medical community.)

Instead, the public rejection of science is an extension of our politics, which in turn have become an expression of our constant outrage about everything that offends our deepest beliefs about ourselves. As social scientist David Dunning has put it: “Some of our most stubborn misbeliefs arise not from primitive childlike intuitions or careless category errors, but from the very values and philosophies that define who we are as individuals.” When those misbeliefs are challenged, laypeople take it not as correction but as a direct attack on their identity. More.

Nichols needs to get out more. The public is becoming well aware of the currently unfixed peer review mess. And of the huge number of science fads inflicted on us, often via public policy, that turned out to be poorly sourced: See, for example, the skinny on salt, veggie oil,, skim milk, whole foods. Nutrition science is nearly baseless but it rules.

Health science is the way most people interact with science and in many areas, it is running neck and neck with the office rumor mill for credibility. Today, we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more. Naturally, one would like things to be better but wishing doesn’t make it so.

Incidentally, who does Scientific American think its audience is? Smug folk who congratulate themselves to their superiority to the Great Unwashed who, thanks to the internet, are finally starting to put it all together… ?

* Blinkers Award? Oscars, without the envelope goofups

Note: “Tom Nichols teaches at the Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School. He is the author of “The Death of Expertise” (Oxford, 2017). The views expressed are his own.”

See also: Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

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37 Replies to “Blinkers Award goes to… Tom Nichols at Scientific American! On why Americans “hate science”

  1. 1
    asauber says:

    For its part, the American public is in the grip of a sullen, almost paranoid, narcissism about science and experts. This is not a function of education; the anti-vaccine movement, for example, is actually concentrated among parents with more education than their poorer counterparts. Indeed, ignorance has become hip, with some Americans now wearing their rejection of expert advice as a badge of cultural sophistication.

    What an endearing thing to say. This is micro-aggression, if I have ever seen it. Where’s my safe space?

    Andrew

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    News says,

    “Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.”

    I can not believe the writer of this statement actually believes what she wrote, or rather I hope she doesn’t.

    Really!? Just rely on our ‘gut’, on ‘common sense’, which we all know so well, is very often astoundingly stupid.

    And taken to its logical conclusion, if we all believe only what makes sense to us, a mightily confused world will get irreparably dumber.

    With this thinking as people we would all logically believe that the sun actually does rise and set, rather than that the earth rotates. We actually would believe the earth was flat and leave it at that, and we would believe that the earth was the centre of all things.

    This horrendous idea would destroy human curiosity in a single bound and lead us logically back in time to when people only relied on what they believed.

    Hmmm, wait a minute, is that what ID hopes for?

  3. 3
    asauber says:

    Just rely on our ‘gut’, on ‘common sense’, which we all know so well, is very often astoundingly stupid.

    Just believing what your betters tell you to believe doesn’t work all the time, either.

    Andrew

  4. 4
    rvb8 says:

    ‘asauber’,

    if you use ‘betters’ to describe the scientific community (the recognised scientific community) of today, and academia generally, then I would say, they are certainly infinately, infinately, more trustworthy, and reputable, believable, than the community of ‘betters’ in the days of yore!

    Back then your ‘betters’ were illiterate wasteral kings, and their hangeron aristocracy. These ‘betters’ were closely tied to a depraved Church, which in an effort to change in 1517, produced a whole new range of wasteral depraved ‘betters.’

    If you equate these scientific, academic, ‘betters’ of todayo, with our childish past, then like the writer of the post you are yearning for a blind infantile past.

    No! The ‘betters’ we have today, make the ‘betters’ of the past look like greedy, solopsistic, hypocrites. Constantly using thier ‘bettrhood’ as a mask for torture, brutality, and oppression. The academics and scientists of recent time are an infinate improvement upon that mewling ‘betterhood’ of our childish past.

  5. 5
    asauber says:

    rvb8,

    I’m surprised you couldn’t fit more chronological snobbery and hate for people you never knew into your latest comment.

    Surely you’re holding back something.

    Andrew

  6. 6
    rvb8 says:

    Scientists don’t call themselves ‘betters’ asauber, that’s left to their detractors.

    You are commanded to believe by the vanity of ill informed evangelicals much more pointedly and far less credibly, than from the tens of tousands of plainly studious humble scientists. These cretinous preachers talk about all manner of topics they should really steer clear of ( Ray Comfort and bananas springs to mind), including the real history of their own doomsday cults.

    Hovind, Ham, Robertson, Fallwell,Comfort, and their ilk are the type to proclaim and demand the obedience of their sheep, sorry flock, and brook no criticism.

    Scientists have a broken peer review some claim, and I agree, improvements can be made. But I see no such equivalent means of espousing new ideas in Christian circles, it just isn’t there, because rethinking ideas is anathema to the religious, or else there would be no religion.

    ‘Chronological snobbery’, you say: the elites, ‘betters’, of the past were exactly as I described. Ill informed, mostly poorly educated, and yet demanding of blind acceptance of already wavering doctrines, as did their inbred sponsors, Kings and nobles.

    That’s not snobbery, that’s history.

  7. 7
    asauber says:

    Scientists don’t call themselves ‘betters’ asauber, that’s left to their detractors.

    They are for certain your betters because they are obviously smarter than you.

    Andrew

  8. 8
    LocalMinimum says:

    Really!? Just rely on our ‘gut’, on ‘common sense’, which we all know so well, is very often astoundingly stupid.

    How is this worse than blindly following the authorities you hold in such blind reverence? However, I don’t see how any of this necessarily follows from “we should believe what makes sense to us”. It could easily be taken as a call for personal responsibility and reason, which steps right outside of the fool’s dichotomy you offer.

    Your redirecting the failure of kingships back to the Catholic Church, and the following off the rails rant against the complement of the metaphysical philosophies you’re willing to accept is amazing. It’s as if you believe human history fails for this boogeyman idea that haunts human rationality nearly of its own accord. Men cannot be held accountable for their wrongs when driven by such forces! Evil spirits abound! Thank the nothing-that-isn’t-and-yet-became-all for the “good spirits” of self organization and spontaneous emergence! May your shield be the Authority of the High Order of Scientism and your sword the Holy Doctrine of Materialism!

  9. 9
    asauber says:

    LocalMinimum,

    Yes, so what rvb8 is admitting is that he is abdicating his judgement to scientists, even on things that don’t make sense to him.

    He’s a child of the machine. Throwing sand in a sandbox made by his betters.

    Andrew

  10. 10
    rvb8 says:

    The title of the piece is, ‘Blinkers Award’, and explicitly implies modern science is blind.

    NEWS says in the telling phrase of my quote, ‘believe what makes sense to us (US!?) and nothing (NOTHING!?) more.’

    This is the clarion call of every ingnoramous and crackpot through out human history. It was the Inquisitions slogan probably. It is what every evangelical preacher across the world preaches to their followers. It is pure and perfect anti-curiosity. It is the bane of thorough investigation, the trap that holds humanity in bonds. It is pure anti-science. It is the motto of ISIS, and every fundamental religious group through out history.

    If you told Coyne, Dawkins, Einstein, Darwin, Newton, Shubin, actually, every curious scientist in history to follow NEWS’S doctrine,(or more accurately ID/Creationism’s doctine), they would first laugh, then be shocked, then be terrified of the upcomming, real, ‘expelling’, modern, inquisition.

    All I can say is thank you NEWS, for the Freudian slip that exposes the true motivation of ID. Blind acceptance, and unquestioning obedience. After all; ” believe what makes sense to US and nothing more”!

  11. 11
    JoshRob says:

    NEWS says in the telling phrase of my quote, ‘believe what makes sense to us (US!?) and nothing (NOTHING!?) more.’

    You know, it’s clear from the absolute shock and terror in these all-caps parenthetical interjections that rvb8 believes primarily in things which do not make sense to him, but he has it all on good authority, I’m sure. Looks like sort of an “ask your priest” situation, only the priestly garb has been exchanged for a lab coat.

    If we must resort to faith, as rvb8 does, I shall at the least place my faith in something that makes sense to me (as opposed to deliberately crusading for nonsense).

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    JoshRob,

    ‘I shall at least place my faith in something that makes sense to me.’

    No! no, no, no!

    It is not about YOU! It is about the reality of the world and how it works according to physical laws, what we call, science!

    You, don’t come into it, you, are not important, completely immaterial to the questions being asked and answered. What YOU think, is irrelevent.

    It is, what is! What can be seen and measured, what can be quantified and proven to have an effect on other material reality; that is called science!

    Faith? Belief? Trust? Religion? God? They have no place here, just as your absurd statement, “I shall at last place my faith in something that makes sense to me”, has no place.

    Put another way, when Denyse wrote, “Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more”, she lost ID, Creationism, and their fellow travellers, absolutely any claim to being objective science.

    The ‘objectivety’ and ‘impartiality’ of science, went out the window when she, you, and almost all the other posters here use words and phrases
    like, ‘belief’, ‘faith’, ‘personally’, ‘Corinthians’, ‘Ephesians’, ‘God’, etc, etc!

  13. 13
    JoshRob says:

    Well, that’s one way to ignore that one’s own grasp of “reality” is based on faith in experts.

    It is not about YOU! It is about the reality of the world and how it works according to physical laws, what we call, science!

    Now that’s the curious part. You and I have the same disadvantage of our perceptions being the uncertain middleman between our personal knowledge of the universe and the universe itself. How exactly you pretend to have knowledge without belief (or to believe, sorry, trust, er, … well, whatever it is you do instead of believing expert opinion) is beyond me (and you’ll no doubt attribute that to my dulled senses or deeply ingrained doctrines).

    It might be amusing to see someone have so violent an allergic reaction to the word “faith” if it weren’t such an inhibitor to any rational discussion.

    Anyone with half a brain should do his utmost to self-educate and validate whatever he hears. In whatever we cannot become educated, we should be slow to believe anything. An agnostic outlook on many a subject is certainly more rational than blindly obeying some previously established authority on the basis of other, less controversial assertions (e.g. there being such a thing as gravity somehow being grounds for a theoretical physicist’s latest cosmic rambling being unquestionably accurate).

    Put another way, when Denyse wrote, “Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more”, she lost ID, Creationism, and their fellow travellers, absolutely any claim to being objective science.

    It is rather insulting to conflate “what makes sense to us” with “what is immediately intuitive to us.” Something makes sense to me when I analyze it rationally and consider every sound thing I’ve learned up to now – you know, the way an intelligent human being evaluates whether or not something makes sense. I’d bet even you have been guilty of that, though apparently what News wrote was not immediately intuitive to you.

    One might even think she was speaking of a current era of science gone awry, seeing as the sentence begins with “Today.” Perhaps there was a time when one could be more passive about what the scientific community espoused, but today’s “findings” often merit deep rational scrutiny and cross-referencing, especially insomuch as a “finding” is based more on a commonly accepted conjecture instead of empirical data.

    What YOU think, is irrelevent.

    It is, what is! What can be seen and measured, what can be quantified and proven to have an effect on other material reality; that is called science!

    Then why so animated? What I think is apparently irrelevant. Somehow, I would have thought you would concern yourself entirely with the operation of the universe, but instead there does seem to be some importance you place on all these ideological battles. What necessitates that you evangelize for atheism, or that I ever see reality as you see it?

    Science, conducted properly, is indeed a fantastic window onto physical reality, yes. But even to say that is an admission of faith in one’s perceptions and depends upon many deeply philosophical assumptions about the underlying nature of reality – that there are constants, laws, things which can be reliably expected. Science is, in its truest form, a seeking after something which one must first believe is there to be found: order.

    And no matter how much you wish it, the fact of that order and our observation of it does not constitute an explanation of it. The “how” of its function does not contain the “how” of its origin – or for that matter, the “why,” but I imagine you would dismiss such a question before it was asked.

  14. 14
    asauber says:

    rvb8 is screaming to us that the universe doesn’t make sense to him. He’s confused. I sympathize with his plight. Atheism doesn’t make sense to him, either. Again, he chooses to have his betters do his thinking for him and thus keep him in confusion, it seems to me. I guess it makes sense to him to do that. (?)

    Andrew

  15. 15
    Armand Jacks says:

    I don’t want to speak for rvb8, but what I find concerning about Denyse’s statement, “Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.” Is the “nothing more” add on. It suggests that when something makes sense to us, we should stop questioning. Stop searching. But history is full of things that “made sense” to the vast majority of people in a community, only to change their minds after further examination. It “made sense” to some meso-American societies to sacrifice children. It “made sense” to the southern states to go to war rather than free their slaves. It “made sense” to most Canadians to remove aboriginal children from their communities and raise them in residential Christian schools. It “made sense” to most Americans to relocate all Americans of Japanese descent to the interior of the country during the war. It “made sense” to most Germans to identify, isolate and remove their Jewish citizens from their communities. It “made sense” to the majority to punish homosexuality with jail, castration or chemical castration. Thank God that the more progressive people in society didn’t continue to blindly accept what made sense to them.

  16. 16
    JoshRob says:

    Too many arguments about science land themselves in rhetoric about “progress” and the evils of our past; someone’s been watching too much Star Trek. There is nothing inherently moral about scientific understanding. That you would equate resistance to philosophy parading as science to, say, the Nazi oppression of the Jews, is astounding. One might begin a discussion about Darwinism and its relation to Nazism, but that would be an unpleasant can of worms that would make no progress. Suffice it to say science has no place in philosophy, except to prove and disprove ideas about the laws of physical reality.

    I must confess, I am not here to excuse myself to go beat up gays (surprising, I’m sure). The “nothing more” which worries you so has been read as if by an unassuming computer; do you always give people so little benefit of the doubt? The reason so many things which once had made sense no longer make sense is not because we accepted things which did not make sense, but because we investigated them. This is all anyone in the ID movement can be said to advocate with regards to “what makes sense.”

    The great difficulty of the situation is that science is now conducted by its own society and culture, and that is a condescending culture that seeks to establish philosophical tenets by the manipulation of trusting people through the use of elaborate explanations, although these hinge upon even a morsel of fact that is not itself presented.

    So, I do not advocate that we disbelieve the scientific community because they say something which does not make sense to me. I advocate that we investigate to the best of our ability what the scientific community asserts when it does not make sense to us. I have fewer tools at my disposal, quite true, but such arguments depend upon the unfailing objectivity and goodness of people – things I have no reason to believe in. If, in fact, the scientific community pursues any agenda but the truth, we are in a poor position to compete with them. Theirs is the grant money, theirs are the laboratories, theirs is the equipment and the training to use it. But this does not establish their accuracy, their dedication to truth, in any way.

    Even a genius may promote madness, and that he may do unaware that he is doing so. Intelligence is only a means to understanding more complicated truths and more complicated delusions – it is not insurance against deception. When an experiment is conducted on the basis of an unproven but well-accepted premise, it is simply another card in a house of cards. It is no more valid than a plain assertion, no matter how clever.

  17. 17
    Armand Jacks says:

    JR:

    There is nothing inherently moral about scientific understanding.

    Agreed.

    That you would equate resistance to philosophy parading as science to, say, the Nazi oppression of the Jews, is astounding.

    I’m afraid that you have lost me here. I thought that I was talking about Denyse’s comment that “we should believe what makes sense to us an nothing more”. I wasn’t talking about science or phylosophy specifically. Just about believing what makes sense.

    One might begin a discussion about Darwinism and its relation to Nazism, but that would be an unpleasant can of worms that would make no progress.

    Unpleasant to whom? Certainly not me.

    The reason so many things which once had made sense no longer make sense is not because we accepted things which did not make sense, but because we investigated them.

    Isn’t that what I was arguing? That the “nothing more” add on implied that you should stop investigation once you found something that made sense to you.

    This is all anyone in the ID movement can be said to advocate with regards to “what makes sense.”

    And if you were capable of convincing people that ID made sense, it would be thoroughly investigated. Alternately, the ID movement could conduct the research and publish it.

  18. 18
    JoshRob says:

    Isn’t that what I was arguing? That the “nothing more” add on implied that you should stop investigation once you found something that made sense to you.

    You have ascribed such an implication where it does not belong. I would agree with you if I perceived that somehow the quote in question actually advocated the cessation of scientific inquiry. It does seem you have deliberately ascribed the most ignorant interpretation you could derive for News’ statement. A stratagem for argument, perhaps, but hardly courteous or rational.

    I suspect you believe what makes sense to you and nothing more. Am I wrong? If so, which things do you claim as truth but perceive, personally, as nonsense?

    A definition of terms seems necessary at every step, and I do not have enough interest to conduct a long battle of semantics. We clearly read “nothing more” very differently, and I suspect any attempt to reconcile our views would be fruitless. I have engaged in too many debates before where one could not even settle on the meaning of a word or phrase, and it is very wearisome to repeatedly tell one another “No, you misunderstand; it means this.”

  19. 19
    rvb8 says:

    And the ID/Creationism Gish Gallop begins!

    Denyse said something silly and regrettable. She conflated science with how she feels, emotionally on the subject.

    I pointed this out, that her opinions have no baring on physicalities, and that science, of all the endeavours in human history, (art, music, history, religion,)is the only one that says, your emotions are immaterial.

    Upon pointing this fact out I am rewarded by such obscure gems as this from JoshRob:

    “It is rather insulting to conflate ‘what makes sense to us’ with ‘what is immediately intuitive to us.'”

    Is it? What the hell, is the differance?

    The amount of words used to say basically, ‘Denyse blew it, and we’re desperately trying to find a way to cover for her silly assertion that, science and her feelings (or yours) are important to this field.’

    And JoshRob again,

    “It does seem you have deliberatley ascribed the most ignorant (?) intrpretation you could have for News’ statement.’

    Actually no. It was simply a pig ignorant thing to say. You know ID/Creationism suffers a huge deficit in credibility, simply because so many of your standard barers are non-scientists, who use their ‘gut’, their ‘intuition’, their ‘increduility’, their ’emotions’.

    Read WEIT by Jerry A. Coyne. You know the student of R. Lewontin, colleague of E.O. Wilson, mentored by Theodosius Dobzhansky. Or go to talkorigins and get some real science. It’s only fair. I come here, and I also visit the newly, and hilariously renamed, ‘Evolution News & Science (Heh:) Today’, with the ‘Blinkered’? Mr Klinghoffer. I visit your colleagues at AIG and several other ID/Creationist sites.

    Actually, in a piece written yesterday, entitled “Darwin’s Dice”, Klinghoffer’s opening sentence is a howler of ignorance; check this out:

    “Theistic evolutionary thinking is designed (Heh:) to reconcile religious believers to the denial of their own common sense.”

    Maybe, I don’t know. But, how the bloody hell did, ‘common sense’ enter into this ‘science’ discussion?

    Your turn.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, any use of the phrase Gish Gallop shows a spirit of slanderous accusation that builds on smears of a man not able to defend himself (being dead) in order to gratuitously and cheaply rhetorically taint others. As this has been repeatedly pointed out in your presence and/or that of your ilk you know or should know that if someone is deemed to be making a raft of false claims, the exposure of a significant fraction by actual objective analysis suffices to expose lack of credibility. In the case of the late Dr Gish, he won hundreds of debates on evolutionary materialism by pointing to the evidence of the actual fossils [which precisely do not show the things that would naturally and reasonably follow on evolutionary materialistic gradualism but instead systematically show gaps, stasis and a pattern of distinctly isolated islands of functional forms], to the point where in his later years people were being advised not to debate him. He won those hundreds of debates on the evidence, not on rhetorical gamesmanship and it is slander to say or imply otherwise. In the case of design theory and your own behaviour, for years you have been unable to properly address the simple core claim on the merits that functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information is a well tested reliable indication of intelligently directed configuration as key cause. Indeed, there is a current thread addressing you by handle on precisely this issue and again as usual you have been unable to address the pivotal matter: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ion-fscoi/ A point where a good counter-example would utterly devastate design theory, just as a good counter-example by way of a demonstrated perpetual motion machine would reduce thermodynamics to ruins. (And yes, this is a comparable, related case given the informational view on entropy.) This case in point amply demonstrates your continued, long sustained general lack of credibility on issues related to ID. KF

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: On critically aware caution on fashionable expert claims in an era of ugly smoke rising from the basement of every key social institution (pointing to a common, subterranean, dirty fire of widespread corruption), News is tellingly, profoundly right. We should be aware that arguments exert persuasion through emotions, appeals to authority or appeals to fact and logic. Emotions are no better than underlying perceptions and judgements, and no authority is better than his/her individual or collective facts, logic and controlling assumptions. In the case of evolutionary materialistic scientism and various science, media promotion and policy fads, we have reason to believe the institutions are in sobering but too often unacknowledged need of radical reform. We see that the wheels are coming off of peer review in too many fields. We see that in education even the term science is being ideologically manipulated. A responsible, reasonably educated person would therefore insist on hearing out the diverse schools of thought on controversial matters of significant import (setting aside claims of “consensus” as irresponsible appeals to blind kowtowing to collective ideologically loaded authority), and on taking the path of prudence informed by common sense reasoning and ethical responsibility. For specific instance, I refused to over-vaccinate my children, on the view that some optional vaccinations for exotic possibilities were likely not good value for implicit risk. Similarly, I would suggest that a historically anchored assessment of weather risks in the long term, balanced against costs and benefits of policy options [mitigation, adaptation, insurability, trajectory of technology etc] is a prudent approach regarding climate issues. Likewise for earthquakes and volcano hazards. Over-expensive building standards fail the test. At the same time, I seldom go beyond a certain line on the map long since identified on eruption deposits from the previous major eruptions with old ugly down south. And more.

  22. 22
    rvb8 says:

    Actually Kairos,

    we are talking about the silliness of Denyse’s statement;

    ‘Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.’

    You can see why, as an atheist I (and You) have a problem. Just read that statement again, and hopefully a cog will turn, a claxon will sound, or maybe, a penny drop.

    As for Dr Gish and his ‘hundreds’ (really?- evidence?) of debate wins. I know he figures high in your world, but unfortuanately outside of that tiny existance, he is, tiny.

    I apologize if I have impuned this man, who you quite rightly say, can no longer defend himself.

    However, I have the internet, I have youtube, and he is quite frankly, laughable, and is regularly held up as an example of exactly how ID/Creationists should no longer debate.

    That is with breathless gusto, pouring one gibberish factoid upon another, not giving your opponent an opportunity to reply, in a pathological zeal to confuse, and obfuscate; he was indeed a master of this stage craft.

  23. 23
    Armand Jacks says:

    JR:

    I suspect you believe what makes sense to you and nothing more. Am I wrong?

    Yes.

  24. 24
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    RVB8, any use of the phrase Gish Gallop shows a spirit of slanderous accusation that builds on smears of a man not able to defend himself (being dead) in order to gratuitously and cheaply rhetorically taint others.

    Your taking the high ground on this and pointing out that it is cheap and unseemly to attack someone who is dead and incapable of defending himself is laudable. I just wish that you would show some level of consistency in your moral outrage. I have heard here on numerous occasions people make claims that Darwin was racist, and many more slurs. Yet not a peep from you or anyone about him not being able to defend himself.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8,

    as at now, you have zero credibility to speak on matters where science and ideology-loaded agendas intersect. You have taken a reasonable though acid remark by News and turned it into a loaded interpretation. I suggest you need to seriously reconsider.

    AJ

    First, if you pull back and look carefully, you will see that both WJM and I have spoken to the general problem of ugly smoke rising, with the issue of pedophilia, perversions and blackmail in high places being a particular manifestation that requires investigating the dirty fire that must lie beneath.

    When it comes to racism and Darwin, there is no question that he was of racist views and failed in moral duty to adequately address a serious moral hazard that his theory lent itself to.

    The infamous opening words of Ch 6 in Darwin’s 1871 The Descent of Man stand out in my memory, especially when he predicted genocide coolly and matter- of- factly as a means of explaining absence of fossils then just went on to his next point.

    Let me cite, for reference:

    Man is liable to numerous, slight, and diversified variations, which are induced by the same general causes, are governed and transmitted in accordance with the same general laws, as in the lower animals. Man has multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species . . . .

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    Observe the moral contrast these words make with H G Wells in his opening chapter of War of the Worlds, here. Where, I find that in at least three novels, H G Wells wrote strongly in regards to moral hazards of science: Worlds, Time Machine and Island of Dr Moreau.

    As a matter of fact, you would be well advised to read carefully chs 5, 6 and 7 of that book. turning Darwin into a plaster saint does no one any good. That he also had significant decency in for example standing up to Eyre and giving to the missionaries to Tierra del Fuego etc, does not undermine the force of the basic point.

    As the video lecture in the just lined will amply show, there is an onward line through eugenics and wider scientific racism to those who had lost moral compasses utterly going on to genocide. Things could be added on eugenics all across the world that would be almost as shocking, with echoes down to today.

    Nor should we be surprised to find racism in a man of his class and times, just as only a few generations before him, we would expect to find an implicit unquestioning attitude to slavery that would now be utterly shocking. (For instance, cf Locke and how he discusses slavery.)

    I should note, that racism was a nigh universal problem until quite recently, and is not yet dead. For example, one can find it in Churchill, not just Hitler, and one discounts for that.

    I suggest that the real response we need is to look across the span of our civilisation, take note of how the same ugly smoke is rising all over the place and then seek to deal with the subterranean dirty fire, which is strongly tied to evolutionary materialism and to its influence with fellow traveller ideologies, leading to radical relativism, deep irrationality due to self referential incoherence and to amorality as a direct result, inviting nihilism.

    I note this correctively, not to side track this discussion.

    KF

  26. 26
    JoshRob says:

    RVB8:

    Firstly, I haven’t uttered a word in defense of common sense. If this is your primary understanding of the word “sense” in any context, much of this dispute’s origin suddenly becomes apparent to me – though no less disappointing. You honestly read her statement as “We should listen to common sense and nothing more.” That has an incredibly different meaning altogether. As to the actual meaning of the statement (and to beat a horse that refuses to die)…

    The difference between something making sense and something being immediately intuitive should be apparent to anyone that has had dots connected in front of them and said, “Huh, that makes sense.”

    Speaking of such a situation hypothetically, although some conclusion had not been previously known to you, you make no objection once rational connections have been demonstrated to you. Calculus might be a good example of something that is hardly “immediately intuitive,” requiring much prerequisite education and, typically, hard study. Still, I doubt anyone here would be willing to argue that calculus doesn’t “make sense” – even if his own grasp of calculus were rusty or otherwise poor.

    If one understands this sense of the phrase – the most natural sense in my own experience (and I am surprised to see any other interpretation of it) – then one must see the “damning” quote in rather a different light, one which concerns itself more with the duty of inquiry than with shunning that duty in favor of loyalty to an established authority – or, for that matter, in favor of listening merely to one’s gut.

    AJ:

    Well, I have been dryly told that I am wrong to assume that everything you believe makes sense to you. I’m afraid I can’t quite sympathize unless you, too, read “sense” as “common sense” (which, I confess, does not make sense).

    The things I know are all things which make sense to me, even if I know very little about one subject and much more about the next. At some point, everything I know with any confidence or investment has been demonstrated rationally to me to some degree or another.

    Would you be willing to give me an example of something you know or believe that you can honestly confess does not make sense to you? Could one honestly believe, for instance, that 2 + 2 = 4 while internally protesting the rationale behind it? That sounds very much like intuition or “gut feeling.”

  27. 27

    Josh,

    I, for one, appreciate your comments on this thread. This whole rant has been transparently opportunistic and juvenile. People are people, and those on both sides of the debate know a sleazy shot when they see one. This particular rant is only made worse by the fact that rv runs screaming from the physical evidence of design in biology. A few years back I saw a member of AtBC asking others on the forum if they had any saved images of Kairos that he could photoshop and pass around. There was one of Barry Arrington and another Denyse O’Leary already posted. It’s the same general mentality.

  28. 28
    rvb8 says:

    UB,

    the whole core of ID rests on belief, faith and various synonyms. It is not ‘juvenile’ to point out that IDers are constantly using emotions, feelings, their gut, and intuition; what else have you?

    I do not run ‘screamimg’ from anything, and as I am an atheist that includes God. You and yours on the other hand.

    I visit many ID and Creationist sites where their ‘evidence’ is put forward, usually in the form of Biblical quotations, hearsay, anecdote, or vanity book publishing.

    I also visit sciencedaily, pandas, WEIT, talkorigins, where my sanity is balanced.

    I doubt you spend as much time as I visiting sites polar opposite to your thinking.

    Josh,

    It made ‘sense’ to many people to do unspeakable things to other people in the past. Jesus went against what ‘made sense; or are you no longer in possession of His Word?

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, the core of ID, FYI, is a simple inductive inference on reliable, tested sign. Namely, that functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information — a descriptive phrase — is on trillions of cases, reliably produced by intelligently directed configuration. Your own comment just now is yet another case in point. Further to this, the requisite of multiple correctly arranged and coupled parts to achieve relevant function points to the fact that clusters of functional configs will be deeply isolated in the abstract space of clumped or scattered possibilities. This directly leads to deeply isolated islands of function in config spaces that are so large that sol system or cosmos space resources cannot credibly search more than a negligible fraction, i.e. the needle in haystack blind search challenge. The consequence is, where we see FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits we are entitled to infer design. This is not faith in any blind sense, it is an application of plain, garden variety inductive reasoning. That after years you are forced to continually erect and knock over a strawman caricature of ID speaks volumes. First, in the strength of the design inference, Second, on how weak the objector case is. KF

  30. 30

    rv,

    Just because you deny something doesn’t make it go away.

  31. 31
    JoshRob says:

    The capacity of rvb8 to flip from one connotation of a phrase to another as befits his purposes makes me wonder if he is seriously confused about language or if this is some strategy he has mistaken for clever.

    You continue to dishonestly use the phrase “make sense” as meaning “feels right” while I continue to plainly demonstrate that it just as easily means “makes logical sense.”

    You might make an Internet search on the principle of charity, and then you might also go ahead and just admit that you do quite the opposite as that principle would reasonably ask of you. It is one thing to directly demonstrate the foolishness of your opponent, but it is another entirely to manufacture it via some poorly executed word games.

  32. 32
    rvb8 says:

    Josh, UB, Kairos,

    understand! I visit this site largely because it fascinates me. There is no learning benefit, as reading Kairos’s interminable screeds is painful: What’s happened to the egregious BA77, where are his wonderful defenses of the Shroud of Turin? Heh:)

    If I am banned, fine. If the site implodes, which seems ever more likely as its contributors drift further, and further, from the realm of the sane, fine.

    The heady days of, ‘pre-Dover’ are gone, you are left with Klinghoffer at Evolutionnews, and Kairos as your intellectual standard barerers; not good.

    Look what Josh wrote above;

    ‘The capacity of rvb8 to flip from one connotation of a phrase…’

    Denyse said, (pay attention)? “Today, we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.”

    Josh? What connotation? It’s the proclomation of the insane!

    Now, before this site disintergrates into the clautrophobic home of the eternally back slapping, let me say this;

    the idea of Dembski/Kairos of intention in nature, (design) is unprovable. No matter how many tedious endless paragrahs one writes. The physical facts of DNA, fossils, ontogeny etc, etc, etc deny design.

    A prediction: This site is doomed. Just as that silly Design Disquisitions site disolved, (or what ever the hell it was called) and had a short shelf life, this discussion has become so repititious as to be absurd.

    I will stick around to view the implosion (what can I say, I’m a voyeur)but understand, this is not a debate, it is a witnessing, to use Biblical language.

  33. 33

    rv, flinging personal insults isn’t going to alter physical reality. In 1955 Francis Crick proposed that a set of adapter molecules would be required to make the translation apparatus function, and in 1958 Hoagland and Zamecnik isolated those adapters molecules (as well as the molecules that establish the genetic code). Why on earth would adapter molecules be required, rv?

    You see, physical evidence isn’t about people, websites, or even ideologies, rv. The insults you fling obviously offer you emotional relief from your boogeymen, but it changes nothing whatsoever. It would seem even you would recognize this facet of science at some point, and out of sheer embarrassment stop yourself from so clearly demonstrating the point.

  34. 34
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    First, if you pull back and look carefully, you will see that both WJM and I have spoken to the general problem of ugly smoke rising, with the issue of pedophilia, perversions and blackmail in high places being a particular manifestation that requires investigating the dirty fire that must lie beneath.

    No, you are trying to create smoke by rubbing inuendo, slander, a hatred of all Democrats, and a lame conspiracy theory together. You complain that the police refuse to waste their time investigating email references to meeting at a pizza joint, triangle and butterfly imagery, falsely attributed photos, connected basements in buildings that do not have basements, etc.

    I would much rather they investigate things that have evidence to support wrong doing rather than chasing after little green aliens with a penchant for anal probes.

    When it comes to racism and Darwin, there is no question that he was of racist views and failed in moral duty to adequately address a serious moral hazard that his theory lent itself to.

    He was a man of his times. As such, he would certainly be considered a racist by today’s standards. As would Lincoln. But to accuse him of ignoring the moral implications of his theory is just plain stupid. It is a theory. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is either a good model of reality, or it is not. Do you demonize Newton because he did not address the moral implications of his theory (ie., the ballistic trajectory of mortars and missiles) or Einstein (nuclear weapons) ? Why do you centre Darwin out for this demonization and no other scientist? Science is amoral. It is the responsibility of society to assess the moral implications of scientific discoveries and address them appropriately.

    The infamous opening words of Ch 6 in Darwin’s 1871 The Descent of Man stand out in my memory, especially when he predicted genocide coolly and matter- of- factly as a means of explaining absence of fossils then just went on to his next point.

    Yes, he predicted that the “civilized”races would exterminate and replace the “savage” races. Nowhere in the text was he passing judgement, just making a prediction. No different than your oft predicted civilization’s slide over the precipice because of the spread of progressive ideology. But there is a big difference between these two predictions. Darwin’s prediction, sadly, has come to pass. Not the physical extermination thankfully, but certainly the cultural extermination. Aided and abetted, I might add, by the church.

    But if you want to talk about some real racist literature, I suggest you pull your family bible off the shelf and take as critical a read through that as you obviously have through Darwin’s books. To get the maximum value from either of them, they must be read with historic context in mind. To do otherwise is to misrepresent the people who wrote them and the messages they contain.

  35. 35
    JoshRob says:

    Just for fun, rvb8 at 22:

    ‘Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.’

    You can see why, as an atheist I (and You) have a problem.

    “what makes sense” – as opposed to nonsense
    “and nothing more” – an absolute ruling against nonsense, this apparently the most troubling of the two points.

    I might expand on the logical implication of these two sentences with a paraphrasing:

    As an atheist, I have a problem with believing what makes sense to me without allowing for nonsense as well.

    Or perhaps it’s

    As an atheist, I have a problem with believing what makes sense to me.

    but that would directly imply that atheism made no sense to an atheist, so I’m assuming the first paraphrase was more accurate, even if it’s about as bad.

    And it’s not that hard to find several dictionary entries online for “make sense” if you’re still in disbelief that it is, in fact, legitimate to interpret it as meaning “to be reasonable.” I should hope this is not the beginning of a new, explicit crusade against rational thought – it would only be new, of course, in its explicitness.

    Let’s try this: “Today, we should believe what makes sense to the scientific community and nothing more.” If that is acceptable, then this whole dispute has indeed been more about the people speaking than about what they said.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ, willful blindness, accusatory words and projections on your part do not change the force of the realities all around us that utterly indict our civilisation to the point that profound reform is our only realistic hope. Starting, with the worst — and steadily mounting up — holocaust in history; the war on our unborn posterity carried out under false colour of law, rights, etc. Yes, collectively we are worse than the Nazis and the Communists, not to mention the slave traffickers. And, we insist on glorying in our shame. Far sounder would be, that we wake up before we are in the pig pen wishing we could eat the pods the pigs eat, having wasted our cultural capital on wild folly. KF

    PS: Plato, long since (in the aftermath of the collapse of Athens), aptly warned about the course of unchecked evolutionary materialism, in words that all too tellingly echo what we see around us:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    –> for shame!

    PPS: Some may find the warning in microcosm about manipulated democracy in Ac 27 helpful in opening eyes and awakening consciences to long-neglected duty.

  37. 37
    jstanley01 says:

    rvb8 @22…

    Actually Kairos,

    we are talking about the silliness of Denyse’s statement;

    ‘Today we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.’

    You can see why, as an atheist I (and You) have a problem. Just read that statement again, and hopefully a cog will turn, a claxon will sound, or maybe, a penny drop.

    And @ 32…

    Denyse said, (pay attention)? “Today, we should believe what makes sense to us and nothing more.”

    Josh? What connotation? It’s the proclomation of the insane!

    So believing what does not make sense to us defines sanity? Does this individual believe things that do not make sense to him or her? I doubt it, that would be insane. Ask any psychologist.

    Clearly this individual is a crank.

    Do I believe things on authority, including on the authority of science? You bet I do. But does it help the scienfitic community’s credibility with me when science promotes frauds like Climate Change, or lights its collective hair on fire about an AIDS pandemic that wasn’t, or when a large percentage of its peer-reviewed research cannot be duplicated, or when scientists promote neo-Darwinism as a scientific fact when it is acutally a theory that’s not doing so well of late?

    No, these things do not help the scientfic community’s credibility with me. Because I am sane too, duh.

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