Friday, May 02, 2008

Shoddy Handling Of The Facts And Shoddy Thinking

I guess they're a qualification for being a staunch Darwinist.

The latest example:

The charge that ID is part of some creationist conspiracy was recently reiterated by Larry Arnhart, the author of Darwinian Conservatism. Arnhart, a professor at Northern Illinois University, writes in a recent post about the "Rhetorical Blunder in Ben Stein's 'Expelled'," a blunder which has to do, he thinks, with what is really behind Intelligent Design.

The first thing you should do when you write about someone else's blunders is not to make them yourself in the process of doing so. It just looks silly. But Arnhart makes one that he repeats throughout his entire discourse on the inadvisability of blunders.

Arnhart makes the following statement about "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed":

This movie is the latest project of the Discovery Institute in promoting the political rhetoric of "intelligent design theory" as the alternative to Darwinian evolutionary science.

It is? In fact, Discovery Institute did not produce the movie. It was included in the movie, but so was Richard Dawkins, who, last time anyone checked, wasn't involved in the production of the movie either. If he had been, he would have had one less excuse not to know what the movie into which he walked with both his eyes wide open was about. The movie was actually produced by Premise Media, which has no organizational connection with Discovery.

But Arnhart's main objective in the article is to bolster the "It's a Creationist Plot" theory about Intelligent Design. "The folks at the Discovery Institute," he asserts, "have made a big mistake in their production of this movie." The mistake (which Discovery doesn't make) in making this movie (which it didn't make either) is a contradiction Arnhart claims to have detected:

On the one hand, the rhetorical strategy of the Discovery Institute is to say that "intelligent design" is not a creationist religious belief but pure science, and therefore teaching "intelligent design" in public high school biology classes does not violate the First Amendment's prohibition on establishing religion. On the other hand, the popular success of the Discovery Institute's rhetoric depends on appealing to Biblical creationists who assume that "intelligent designer" is just another name for God the Biblical Creator.

In other words, Arnhart is asserting that a position should be judged on the basis of who supports it, not by what it actually holds. This is rather strange reasoning for someone like Arnhart to use. If we applied this logic to Darwinism, of course, we could conclude that it is really atheism in disguise, since atheists unanimously support it. But if we did that, people like Arnhart would fuss and fume, and point out that a position should be judged on the basis of what it asserts, not who supports it.

Darwinists have clearly not developed a sense of consistency. Maybe Nature is saving that for the next step up in the evolutionary progress of their species.

In "Expelled," which Discovery made but really didn't, this contradiction, says Arnhart, is on full display:

When Bruce Chapman — President of the Discovery Institute — is interviewed by Stein, Chapman says that journalists distort the true position of intelligent design by saying that it's a creationist religious belief, because the "intelligent designer" is clearly God. Chapman vehemently denies this. But then for the rest of the movie, it's asserted that anyone who denies "intelligent design" is therefore an atheist who denies the existence of God!

Asserted by whom? Chapman? Maybe Arnhart could provide some evidence of this. I've seen the movie twice, and I don't recall this assertion being made by anyone in the movie. I could see, if the assertion was really made, that it wouldn't matter who made it, since Arnhart is operating under the assumption that the whole thing was produced by Discovery, and therefore any such assertion could be laid at the feet of Chapman, who is Discovery's director. But then we have already determined that that assumption is erroneous, haven't we?

I think what Arnhart means to say here (I'm trying to bail you out here, Larry) is that the movie claims that anyone who is a Darwinist is an atheist who denies the existence of God. But note that it isn't proponents of ID who make this claim in the movie, but proponents of Darwinism in the form of people like Richard Dawkins. This has, of course, sent the ID critics into paroxysms of indignation because they seem to think that casting Dawkins in a lead role is somehow misrepresentative of the public debate over Intelligent Design[!]

12 comments:

Olorin said...

"I think what Arnhart means to say here (I'm trying to bail you out here, Larry) is that the movie claims that anyone who is a Darwinist is an atheist who denies the existence of God."

No bailing required. That is what Amherst is saying. The movie does ythis in many ways: by deliberately not interviewing any evolutionary scientists who are Christians,* by sinister underlighting and editing the Dawkins & Myers, while using normal lighting and unquestioning acceptance of the ID proponents, and many other techniques that seem to have escaped your attention.

"It is? In fact, Discovery Institute did not produce the movie."

He said the movie was "their project," not that DI produced it. The Dishonesty Institute wishes to have it both ways. In politics, it's called 'deniability.' The DI can embrace parts that it favors, while still ignoring or distancing itself from other parts---such as the associatinon of ID with religiious beliefs.

As Jeremiah noted so long ago, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Matteo delenda est.

-----------------------
*-Francis Collins, Francisco Ayala, Ken Miller, to name only a few famous ones.

Anonymous said...

"He said the movie was "their project," not that DI produced it."

If they didn't produce it how then is it their project?

Regarding the debate, as a layperson I have observed that whenever anyone questions a Darwinist their responses are much like that of a freaky totalitarian Al Goracle Global Warmists.

Olorin said...

Nameless one said: "If they didn't produce it how then is it their project?"

Try looking up the definition of "film producer". The producers of "An Inconvenient Truth" were Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns, Jeff Skoll, and Davis Guggenheim. Were they the impetus behind that movie, or was it Al Gore's project?

"[A]s a layperson I have observed that whenever anyone questions a Darwinist their responses are much like that of a freaky totalitarian Al Goracle Global Warmists."

That's because scientists get upset when faced with obdurate ignorance such as yours. How could anyone prefer baseless belief to rational understanding? They do not understand your fear of the unknown, in other words.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Francis Collins:
Believes in "Theistic Evolution;" the theory, read-out, is that evolution is God's way of making life. No matter what wiki says, that's not exactly a death-blow to ID. (Life is designed by God! He used Evolution! But I don't think you can find evidence for this!)

Francisco Ayala
ex-priest
Dr. Ayala will not say whether he remains a religious believer
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/science/29prof.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Ken Miller-- the guy who gutted a strawman of ID?
http://www.iscid.org/papers/Luskin_EngineLugnuts_042706.pdf

That's because scientists get upset when faced with obdurate ignorance
Yes, yes they do.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a0wuQr9d70

Anonymous said...

"That's because scientists get upset when faced with obdurate ignorance such as yours. How could anyone prefer baseless belief to rational understanding? They do not understand your fear of the unknown, in other words."

Dear Intellectual Snob, thanks for providing an example to my point.

And since you're so smart perhaps you could explain miracles?

By the way, I was in the film biz I know what is a producer whereas you don't; the use of your semantics is proof of your ignorance.

My observation about arrogant intellectuals is that they believe they know everything about everything which means they know nothing about anything.

Olorin said...

Foxfier: What is your point as to Collins, Ayala, & Miller? My point was that there are thousands of evolutionary biologists who are religious, yet "Expelled" chose only atheists. I call that dishonest. As to the YouTuibe video, I get my knowledge of global warming directly from reports in Science, Nature, and other peer-reviewed journals. Apparently your knowledge is limited to cherry-picking talk shows and TV sound bites with which you already agree.

He who fears to say his name: Explaining miracles is your department, not mine. If you were in the film business, you seem not to have learned much. Why do you love ignorance so much?

Science deniers should remember that the less you understand about the world and how it actually works, the less control you have over it. Ignorance begets disenfranchisement. And denial of global warming is downright dangerous. Why do you think all those people are getting killed in Darfur the past few years? Are they fighting over some wampeter in the desert? You don't have a clue, do you?

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I think the point should be quite clear: they are either not Christian, or they are attacking windmills; one even proposes a version of ID himself.

Ironic you claim we have no clue-- it's becoming more and more obvious from the evidence that the temperature of Earth has less to do with CO2 than the sun, something that has been mentioned frequently for ages; however, no one can have power over others' behavior with the sun, nor can they set up "sun spot credit trading" companies.

If you were actually as intelligent as you keep insisting we are stupid, you would argue facts, not call names and toss insults.

Olorin said...

I did not insist you're stupid,, foxfier. The word was "ignorant." Ignorance is curable with modern methods. Of course, willful ignorance can mimic the symptoms of stupidity, so you should not allow the ignorance to entrench itself further.

Your other problem is that you seem to believe that 484,000 researchers, 61 government agencies, half a dozen Christian denominations, and 11,500 individual clergy are in a conspiracy against you and a few TV personalities. You should apply deMoivre's equation here.

'Bye now. Ka ha o ke Akua 'oe.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Ah yes, we're willfully ignorant, and science deniers, etc...but oh no you didn't call us stupid.

Are you out of high school yet? If you are, you should be deeply ashamed.

Olorin said...

Perhaps that is the difference between us, foxfier. More than 20 years of school to get my doctorate, then more than 40 years of continuing education to maintain my license. And I'm now taking a course in philosophy of science, and attempting to pick up Hawaiian. (The church we go to when we're in Maui does the liturgy and hymns in that language.)

Oh--you said high school. Well, that too. most of the other students taking trumpet lessons from my teacher are in high school. Some of them have been at it longer than I, and some have more talent. But it's fun to start a new tack in one's 8th decade. You might not understand this, of course.

I shall indeed be ashamed if I ever get out of school. I shall heap contumely upon my own head.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Perhaps it couldn't get through your head:
You're acting like a high school brat.

No matter what your qualifications, your arguments so far suck.

Olorin said...

Believe what you like, foxfier. I prithee only one boon: Please do not try to help your children with their science homework.

You will, of course, continue to enjoy the fruits of modern science. Unlike religion, science grants its benefits to all, whether they accept its theories or not. As the Bible notes, the rain falls upon the just and the unjust alike.