August is summer camp month and the season of hot weather stories in media. No surprise, the runaway favourite was #1 below:
1. Sal Cordova: Breaking News: Michael Shermer issues cease and desist order against PZ Myers
With due respect to victims of real sexual assault, I nevertheless filed this post under humor because of the behavior in the internet landscape in the aftermath of PZ’s original post.
Stars and garters. And #2 seems to have overworked the crushed ice machine as well:
2. Sal Cordova: Atheists vs. Atheists, A+ Skepchick FTB Atheists vs. Skeptic SI CFI JREF Atheists
The discussion highlights that atheists are accusing other atheists of certain misdeeds. I’m not taking sides, but which ever side is right, this cannot be a good thing for a community that presents itself as prophets leading us to the promised land of an atheistic utopia. I have many atheist friends, in an ironic sort of way some atheist writing led me to Christianity (I have a great love of Bertran Russell’s writings, for example).
Though I disagree with atheism, I respect the viewpoint, however, I don’t respect some of the behaviors going on. If the accusations are true, this is really bad, and if the accusations are false, this is still bad as well. This is a lose-lose situation for the skeptic community (mostly atheists). I’m not taking sides as to the truthfulness of the accusations, save to say I hope the accusations are false especially in the case of Michael Shermer who seems like one of the most decent fellows I’ve ever met.
By now the gossip mill is probably working with all fresh material.
Meanwhile, back at the plant:
3. Vince Torley: Evolution vs. God: A Review (of Ray Comfort’s film)
Exposure of conformist thinking among college students: A
(Universities are supposed to be places where people question received ideas, reject authority and learn to think for themselves. But I was shocked to see how many of the biology students interviewed by Ray Comfort eventually admitted that their belief in evolution was based on trust in what the experts say. What this really means is that the intellectual case for the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution has become too complex for the average college student to grasp. Notwithstanding the commendable efforts of some scientists to simplify it to a level accessible to that of the average layperson, it appears that many people feel bamboozled by the claims and counter-claims, and have resolved to go with the scientific consensus, as it’s the path of least resistance. That is a great pity. Darwin’s theory of evolution, unlike the theory of continental drift, makes metaphysical claims which affect your entire perception of yourself, and how you choose to live. To allow an expert – no matter how learned – to decide whether you should accept such a theory is to surrender your whole self-concept, your world-view and your ethical beliefs – for Darwinism impinges on all of these – to the judgment of another person. It is intellectual suicide.)
Effectiveness of interviewing technique: B
(If Ray Comfort’s aim was to make evolutionists look uninformed, then his interviewing technique was moderately successful. If his aim was to look better-informed than his interviewees, then it flopped. See below.)
Fairness of editing: C-minus
(I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that the fairest way to examine a controversial issue is to look at the best arguments mounted by both sides. I was disappointed that the evolutionists’ best arguments were never even mentioned in Ray Comfort’s movie. While the opinions of the interviewees were fairly accurately represented on the whole, it was patently obvious from watching the movie that their responses were heavily edited, with the aim of making them look foolish. I suspect that the professors who were interviewed by Comfort had a lot more to say, but that much of what they said was left on the cutting room floor – which is a real pity. The movie would have been much more effective if the professors interviewed had been allowed to talk at greater length: as the saying goes, give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.) More.
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