Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ophelia, Daniel, I Respectfully Disagree

Ophelia Benson has put up several posts recently on the use of insulting terms in blog conversations. She is opposed. Ophelia recently linked to another Freethought blog called Camels with Hammers written by Daniel Fincke. Here's Ophelia's post: A camel with a hammer offers a tap upside the head. And here's Daniel's post: Making My Comments Rules Explicit: “Don’t Bully People With Insulting Names” and “Make Personal Charges Against Others Only In Egregious Cases”. Here's the one rule that I want to discuss; it's from Daniel Fincke's post but Ophelia quotes it approvingly.
No insulting people. This means not calling them abusive names or making insulting insinuations about them which according to my judgment unnecessarily demean them as a person or which I take to be intended to demean them as a person. You may charge that people’s ideas are false, harmful, irrationally derived, etc. You may substantiate charges that someone’s personal behavior deserves moral disrepute where that’s relevant. You may critique an individual’s standards of evidence or question their commitment to reason over faith. But when you do things like this, stick to substantiatable charges. Use words which clearly specify what specific thing makes a person or institution’s ideas, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, etc. worthy of criticism. Abusive names (like “stupid”, “moron”, “asshole”, “jerk”, “douchebag”, “idiot”, “motherfucker”, “dick”, “cunt”, “nigger”, “Feminazi”, “shitbag”, “mental midget”, “twat”, “fuckwad”, “retard”, “homo”, “fag”, “tranny”, “bitch”, “nutcase”, “crazy”, etc.) are emotional expressions meant solely to hurt other people. They are social equivalents of physical assaults.
I know where they're coming from. They're talking mostly about racist and sexist comments since that's their main concern on Freethought Blogs, for now.

For the record, I do not condone those kind of insults. Nor do I condone accusing someone of racism or sexism without very good evidence.

On the other hand, I frequently use insulting words to describe stupid people. The most obvious example is my use of "IDiot" as a shorthand for Intelligent Design Creationist. A commenter on Daniel Fincke's blog suggested that words like "stupid" were okay since they aren't homophobic, sexist, or racist. Here's how Fincke responded ...
“Stupid” is just not a word that smart people have ruining their self-esteem from the time they’re little kids.

And even yet, it is a false and belittling word that is counterproductive to constructive discourse. Calling someone stupid tempts them to either slink away in shame or to fight back with equal emotional abuse.

There are perfectly good words for telling someone that a specific idea is no good. False, empirically refuted, fallacious, absurd, illogical, unsupported by evidence, irrational, rationally indefensible, superstitious, biased. All these might work and many more. There’s no need to then personalize it by calling the person stupid or the idea stupid, which has the implication of bashing the person for thinking it.
When I use the word "IDiot" I fully intend to bash the IDiots for their stupid ideas. Why? Because their ideas are stupid and they really are idiots.

Here's where Daniel gets it wrong. I don't expect to convince the IDiots of the error of their ways any more than they intend to convince scientists by using insulting terms like "Darwinist," "materialist," and "stupid." There's no such thing as "constructive discourse" with creationists.

My audience is not the creationists I'm debating, it's the readers who might not have made up their minds about Intelligent Design Creationism. They will read the viscous attacks of these creationists on scientists (Darwinists) and wonder whether there's some truth behind them. I could reply with polite phrases like "rationally indefensible" "unsupported by evidence" and "empirically refuted" but that would be like bringing a flyswatter to a gunfight.

The general public needs to hear what passionate scientists really think of these IDiots. The best way to do that is to fight fire with fire. The idea is to plant in the public's mind the notion that these creationists are crazies and kooks, not respectable scientists with a different, but scientifically valid, opinion. We tried treating them politely for several decades and what did it get us? It got us leaders and politicians in many countries who think it's perfectly respectable to believe that evolution is false.

We were up against people like Jerry Falwell, Rush Limbaugh, and Michele Bauchmann but we were fighting with one hand tied behind our back. That's no way to win a fight like this.

The good news for the more polite proponents of rationalism, like Ophelia Benson and Daniel Fincke, is that they can be the "good cops."


115 comments :

  1. Larry,

    Ophelia Benson's name is misspelled at least twice as "Ophilia." She is not, to my knowledge, a great lover of snakes (though I could be wrong).

    Anaxyrus

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  2. Do you really not understand how insulting people can be counterproductive?

    Did you not teach your children not to insult people who disagreed with them?

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    1. Do you really not understand how insulting people can be counterproductive?

      Did you actually read what I wrote?

      Did you not teach your children not to insult people who disagreed with them?

      I taught my children that some people—homophobes, sexists, pedophiles, racists, holocaust deniers, and astrologers—deserve to be openly identified for what they are. If those people find that insulting then that's just too bad.

      What did you teach your children? Did you teach them to be kind and polite to those kinds of people so they won't be offended?

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    2. Larry:

      I don't have children. I am one of the "homos" you claimed to be defending when you bash homophobes for their homophobia, and the only effect I see is that homophobes, especially the older, richer, whiter, and therefore more politcally powerful one become more convicted in the homophobia.

      Your "no rational discourse" schtick does not ential that you have to conforntationally engage the person with whom you can have "no rational discourse". If your purpose it to illustrate the topic to another interlocutor, engage that interlocutor and explain why Mr./Ms. No-Rational-Discourse is mistaken. If your purpose is to "win" and argument with Mr./Ms. No-Rational-Discourse, by all means, continue to be confrontational, but don't be surprised or insulted when people remark the pigeon looks better because you are covered in pigeon shit.

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    3. Nothing surprises me these days, including people who continue to believe that polite, rational, discourse will change society in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

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    4. @Michael M when you bash homophobes for their homophobia, and the only effect I see is that homophobes, especially the older, richer, whiter, and therefore more politcally powerful one become more convicted in the homophobia.

      They are definitely getting older. As for white, I'm not so sure, African Americans were big supporters of Proposition 8, effectively throwing the homosexual community, major allies for the ERA, under the bus.

      By sanctioning homophobic behaviour, you may not sway those who have been indoctrinated in it since childhood, but you send a powerful message to the current generation, which is exactly what we are seeing in the US, it's the younger demographic that are increasingly in favour of equitable treatment under the law for homosexuals.

      And in a similar manner, by associating a high social cost for publicly supporting intelligent design and creationism, you get the attention of those who have not been irreparably damaged by religious indoctrination.

      You also send the message that what we are seeing is not two sides of a balanced argument and that there is no basis for a rational discussion.

      You just have to read the demented ramblings and creotard cut and paste, drive by drivel of the local religiot troll Denny to realize that any attempt to engage these people in "discourse" is to give them credence that they do no deserve.

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    5. I would dispute the idea that insulting people is counterproductive. Lashing out with insults is a form of shaming, and shame can be extremely useful in producing desired behaviour. As long as we're shaming the right things (e.g. anti-intellectualism, creationism, climate change denial, sexism, racism, homophobia, believing in gods) and not the wrong things (e.g. progressiveness, acquiring knowledge, women who have sex and even like it, women who report rape or sexual harassment, someone who admits to having made a mistake when shown new evidence).

      Actually, I know for a fact that such insults are productive, because that's what led me to admit that I was being romantic about what I believed rather than basing my beliefs on evidence and reality.

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    6. Actually Michael M makes the case to this casual observer. Mr Moran, you should accept just criticism.

      Michael M - you are a gentleman. You will win. Even if you do not convince with whom you conflict, people will recognize you as a gentleman - and better people will join you.

      When you win, civilization wins.

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    7. It's also that Larry has been presented with evidence that using emotionally charged language is less likely to persuade those who are truly undecided and that such language, in fact, causes the listeners to perceive the user as less capable of making a rational argument. Instead of considering that there was an truth to the research, he rejected it out-of-hand with an argument that didn't address the core thesis.

      What part of rational thought involves rejecting empirical evidence?

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  3. Michael M,

    Generally I would agree that name calling is counterproductive. However, when IDots (I leave out the second "i" - i-DEE-uts ala zealots) accuse scientists of not understanding the implications of the evidence, when it is in fact the IDots that routinely fail to show even an undergraduate level of understanding, then there is little recourse. You should see Caroline Crocker's PowerPoint sometime; if submitted as a middle school project, it should receive an F and a frowny face. http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/ode-to-caroline-crocker/

    Anaxyrus

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    1. Scientists do the same thing to other scientists, and usually they don't descend into the school yard.

      Why do scientists have to let ID proponent determine the level of discourse?

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    2. Why do scientists have to let ID proponent determine the level of discourse?

      They're not letting them determine the level of discourse. That's the point. If scientists were letting ID proponents set the terms of discourse, they (scientists) would be saying "Hmm, your theory of the earth being 6000 years old is very interesting, and deserves further discussion". Instead, they call them idiots, which is what they are.

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    3. A pigeon's shitting on a chess board doesn't justify the human's climbing up on the table, dropping trou, and laying a deuce on the board as well.

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    4. Unfortunately, there is really no 'win' in this for us. 'Rising above it' is seen by them as weakness; responding in kind to them is portrayed as rude and elitist. But one will note that the most 'effective' ID/YEC propagandists are definitely not of the 'rise above it' type. Observe how often they feel compelled to equate with or blame evolution for all manner of social ills, from abortion to murder to teen pregnancy to anti-Semitism and so on. Personally, I find such insults far more indicative of desperation and - dare I say it - wickedness than I do the occasional bit of profanity or 'name calling.'

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    5. And I don't necessarily object to people using insults; however, when the Great Undecided Middle® accepts one's opponents' arguments because it dislikes the tone in which one delivers one's arguements*, it is logically fallacious to infer that its rejection of one's arguments are the fault of the people who emphasize the centrality of tone in argumentation.

      As I perceive the situation, "confrontationalists" want to ignore that people are not completely logical and that logical thinking usually post-dates the making of an emotional decision, which is, in essence, ignoring how humans actually operate for how "confrontationalists" perceive themselves to operate. In fact, that logical justification that "confrontationalists" use for insult and invective is, in many ways, a rationalization for having substituted emotionality for rationality.

      Yes, words have meanings and it is, at least in theory, possible determine the semantic appropriateness of a given descriptor. That the process of fitting semantics to a signified (object) can be rationalized doesn't mean that said process is inherently rational nor does it mean that, in practice, the descriptor's connotations can be completely voided of emotional content:

      Yes, "ignorant" means "lacking in knowledge" but how often is it used without any intent to denigrate individuals so described? And why do "confrontionalists" apparently not acknowledge that the semantic appropriateness of a descriptor does not override its social acceptability?

      *And people do reject arguments for other reasons than simple, formal invalidity and unsoundness; that's just the way people tend to make heuristic and/or intuitive decisions, hence the multi-billion dollar industry of image consulting.

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  4. Did you comment on Ophelia's post? I'm sure she would like to hear your opinion, especially since you will both be speaking at the Eschaton conference in Ottawa in November.

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    1. It would be fun discuss this at Eschaton in November.

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  5. Larry,

    I happen to think that avoiding personal insults (e.g. "Sal Cordova is stupid") is the way to go.

    For one thing, it doesn't play well the to your professed audience (rational people who just haven't made up their minds).

    For another, I think there is a subtle undercurrent to name-calling people who are wrong. Your argument is essentially this: X is wrong. Y thinks X. Therefore Y is stupid.

    The fallacy here is an implicit assumption that smart (aka not-stupid) people are never wrong. We all know that very smart people are, in fact, very wrong on occassion and sometimes about important things.

    There are plenty of ways to make an impassioned attack on bad ideas withouth having to attack the messenger of those bad ideas. Focusing your energy and passion on the idea is bound to be more productive as opposed to focusing them on a weakly correlated surrogate (i.e. the intellectual capability of the idea's believers).

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    1. Focusing your energy and passion on the idea is bound to be more productive ...

      How that working out for you?

      It hasn't worked for me in the past. There still seem to be millions of people who believe the creationists in spite of the fact that scientists have refuted their claims over and over again.

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    2. There still seem to be millions of people who believe the creationists in spite of the fact that scientists have refuted their claims over and over again.

      Experience tells me that those millions can be segregated largely into two major camps.

      One group is not ever going to reject creationism, no matter what we say or how we say it.

      The second group is, or may sometime be, open to reconsidering their stance. The least effective way to help this group along towards reconsidering - IMHO - is to call them stupid.

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    3. Vincent, if people "believe the creationists" then those people are creationists, and they are not open to reconsidering their stance, and just because they "may sometime" be open is no good reason to coddle them (or creationism) in the meantime, and especially the creationists who are out to destroy science and replace it with their dishonest dominionist agenda.

      Larry didn't say that he's calling people stupid who are open to reconsidering their stance. If people are open to reconsidering their stance on creation then they do not actually "believe" in creation nor do they "believe the creationists", therefor they are not the target of words like "stupid".

      People who are open to reconsidering their stance are people who have not made up their mind about believing in creation, and if they choose to go all the way and believe in creation simply because someone says that people are stupid for believing in creation, well, that would be stupid.

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    4. If, as you claim, no one who once rejected evolution ever changes their mind then what exactly is the point of trying ANY method of persuasion on them?

      And when did attempting to change someone's mind on a topic become the rhetorical equivalent of coddling?

      Further, I don't think the debate is about who Larry CLAIMS to be calling "stupid" but rather about the effectiveness of calling anyone that. No doubt it feels good to him. I'm more interested in what it actually accomplishes beyond that.

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  6. Some people think all they really need to know they learned in kindergarten. These people are ignorant and don't want to think about, learn or read anything that alleviates their ignorance.

    The problem with calling people ignorant means, in their mind, that you have called them rude, so it is better to be rude yourself and call stupid people stupid. As an alternative you can call them undereducated; however, undereducated has the disadvantage of sounding as if you are criticizing them for not having a university education.

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    1. Why not just avoid evaluating your interlocutors on the basis of your perception of their knowledge or understanding?

      Yes, the above does involve what those who prefer to be confrontational would call "prettifying [one's] language". However, the whole point of the "rational discourse" that "confrontationalists" claim to enjoy and to want to promote is that the logical truth of arguments does not depend on the characteristics of the arguer and that dragging the arguer into the argument, conflating the two, and invalidating the argument through the conflation are all archetypically fallacious and therefore not a part of "rational discourse".

      Again, if one wants to fling shit, one should not be insulted when other people refuse to shake one's shitty hands.

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    2. "Why not just avoid evaluating your interlocutors on the basis of your perception of their knowledge or understanding?"

      Because that would be idiotic.

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    3. Michael.

      I do not evaluate my interlocutors on the basis of my perception of their knowledge or understanding. I insult the IDiots (those pieces of shit) because they are hypocrites who misrepresent science and scientists in full knowledge of what they are doing. So, their knowledge and understanding has nothing to do with it. Their snake-oli salesmanship on the other hand ...

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  7. "My audience is not the creationists I'm debating, it's the readers who might not have made up their minds about Intelligent Design Creationism."

    Ok, then I suggest that you look at this:

    "A 1992 communications study by a leading researcher in the field of aggression and communication – Dominic Infante – looked into situations where argumentativeness and verbal aggression occurred together, and found that the more aggressive the speaker, the less credible they were deemed to be and less able to appear to present a valid argument[11]. Other studies have found that third party observers of arguments perceive greater levels of aggression and less credibility of parties who engage in even ‘light’ aggressive tactics[12]. Another study investigating argument progression within paired speakers found verbal aggression was inversely associated with the proportion of arguments[13]. Far from being conducive to discussions on controversial issues, aggressive language reduces desire for verbal interaction and impedes the depth of what is being discussed."

    Now you say, in counter to this, "We tried treating them politely for several decades and what did it get us?" In response, I suggest that you take a look, for example, at how H.L. Mencken covered the Scopes trial. Just the title of one of his reports, "Homo Neanderthalensis," should cast doubt on the idea that "we" were initially polite to creationists and only later ramped up the rhetoric after being trodden over.

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    1. "Far from being conducive to discussions on controversial issues, aggressive language reduces desire for verbal interaction and impedes the depth of what is being discussed."

      That study is very impressive (not!). If it were true then Christian fundamentalist preachers would be ignored because they don't seem credible. Same with some politicians.

      But there's one good thing about the study. It means that attack ads won't work so we'll soon see them disappear.

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    2. Uh....you missed the point entirely, Larry. The studies cited specifically addressed convincing people who don't already believe, which are the you professed to want to convince. Said people are the one who are not convinced by polarizing rhetoric ***such as attack ads and charismatic preaching***. The reason why charismatic preaching and attack ads work is that they motivate those who already believe by emotion manipulation and not rational argumentation, but, as a critical thinker, you already knew that, I suppose.

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    3. "But there's one good thing about the study. It means that attack ads won't work so we'll soon see them disappear."

      And how many attack ads actually use insults? You're not likely to see ad where a politician gets called an asshole, or even a jerk. Instead, at least in the U.S. anyway, there will be some fake newspaper clipping and slow, melodic ominous music in the background as a narrator calmly says "Senator Krupt did XYZ that cost thousands of jobs." Often the narrator is a woman speaking in an almost soothing voice. Or take a look at the iconic mushroom cloud ad that Lyndon Johnson so successfully used against Barry Goldwater. Did he hurl abusive language at his opponent? No. Instead, he said "These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." He doesn't even mention Goldwater's name. There's a certain art to attack ads and a reason they don't look like something from Monty Python's Argument Sketch.

      As for fundamentalist preachers, look at who their audience is. It's not those on the fence or in the so-called mushy middle. It's those who already believe. And as pointed out in the article to which I linked, ridicule is effective at policing those with a group. It's just not that good for outreach.

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  8. Personally, I use "ID proponent" rather that "IDiot". However, I do not criticize Larry and others for the terminology that they are using. Compared to what the theists say about us, it is quite mild.

    I do think that Larry has made a mistake in referring to Ophelia Benson as an accommodationist. That does not fit, at all.

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    1. You are right. "Accommodationist" is not right. I changed it.

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    2. "Accommdationist" is, in general, the wrong term to use, as most "accommodatinists" do not seek "accommodation" for anything in any reasonable sense of "accommodation".

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    3. Personally, I use "ID proponent" rather that "IDiot". However, I do not criticize Larry and others for the terminology that they are using. Compared to what the theists say about us, it is quite mild.

      This is an incredibly aggravating argument I have see repeated ad nauseam by advocates of the reservation of the use of insult and invective who also claim to be champions of rationality. It is essentially a tu quoque, which I thought was an inherently irrational argument.

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  9. Some people really are idiots. But calling them such is not going to make them stop, and can lead to something of an entrenchment amongst those who may be less idiotic, more just misinformed. But perhaps an element of 'good cop, bad cop' may not be a bad thing.

    I tend to pick my targets, if I feel like letting off steam in frustration. They certainly aren't all dumb. Either way, I am well aware that doing so achieves little - but I'm not in politics, more just being a human being, warts an' all.

    On a personal note, I have found myself in the Creationist's shoes, straying from my field and being given a thoroughly unnecessarily nasty roasting for some mild wet-Sunday speculations (where are you now, DuncHarris?). But at least it encouraged me to actually go and get a proper grounding in the topic. Turns out I was right! :0P

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  10. the viscous attacks of these creationists on scientists

    Nice pun, if unintentional! They can be a bit thick ...

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  11. I definitely see where you are coming from and endorse a more aggressive stance in the sense of pointing out lies to Creationists and then calling them liars when they repeat them etc. I do, however, think that it is counter-productive to lead comments on such lies (or examples of ridiculous stupidity) with derogatory names for all people of that position, such as "IDiots".

    The reason is that, to the neutral (or even the squeamish supporter), it looks like you are attacking their idea because you think they are stupid and not that you think they are stupid because of their idea. This instantly reduces the impact and makes it much more likely to be dismissed. Why? People will assume that you haven't really bothered to look at or consider what the "IDiot" has actually said because you already know they're an IDiot and therefore must be wrong. This, of course, isn't true - IDers can sometimes be right about individual things even if their overall position is untenable - and thus your whole argument is thrown into doubt for someone with insufficient knowledge to judge for themselves.

    I quite like "IDiot" but I would recommend using it only for individuals after dismantling their argument and demonstrating it to be disingenuous. "Another IDiot".

    Happily, I got a proper education before ID came along but I was brainwashed into being a Creationist (and even seriously contemplating YEC) as a teenager despite being academically far from stupid. I was simply too poorly equipped to recognise which side was right and which side was lying until I learnt more. It was clearly laid out facts and solid debunking of Creationist myths that saved me, not aggressively attacking those who had brainwashed me - most of those people themselves had been duped (and were not scientists) and were repeating that nonsense with good intentions because people they trusted had mislead them.

    When the actual facts come out, Creationism (& ID) is such a weak position that it really does not need to be attacked so aggressively. The thing that needs to be attacked with vigour is the apparent right of religious institutions to brainwash the next generation with all sorts of gibberish. Again, though, the people involved are not necessarily stupid - they are the victims of a giant multi-generational scam that has left them too invested in an untenable position to easily let go.

    The final thing that I would say is that fundamentalist Christianity comes with a built-in persecution complex. If you attack them directly (i.e. attack them and not their ideas), they see this as a sign that they are doing something right and that they are being "persecuted" for being holy. Rather than damaging them, you are validating them and giving them material with which to brainwash the next generation.

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    1. "IDers can sometimes be right about individual things..."

      Like what?

      And make sure it's things, and actually useful things, that weren't/aren't already known, and that it's things that they came up with originally via their own and only their own, new, independent "ID" research and didn't learn or steal from science/scientists or anyone else.

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  12. Daniel's post was about how commenters on his blog should address each other, rather than about how he and they should talk about third parties. That's what I was addressing in my post - and I said Dan had a point, as opposed to saying I agreed with him 100%.

    I do use harsh language about people like for instance the pope and the bishop of Phoenix. (The latter is the guy who ordered St Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona to sign an agreement never again to perform an abortion to save the life of the woman. The hosptial refused.)

    My er critics consider me way too rude as opposed to too polite! It's a new experience to be seen as excessively polite.

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    1. What was the "point" that you agreed with? Was it only about comments on your blog?

      Your latest post suggests "civil" behavior and suggests that "we avoid calling people names." Does that mean that I am being uncivil when I use the term "IDiots"? Do you think I should stop using that term?

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    2. Yes, I was talking about comments on my blog - how we talk to each other in discussions, not how we talk about outside parties.

      No, I don't think you should stop using the term "IDiots."

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  13. When engaging with denialists of any sort it is essential to make it clear at the outset that they are not to be considered credible or even honest, lest the uninformed members of the audience lazily suppose that the truth is somewhere in between. Since Professor Moran does frequently refute the claims of the I.D. crowd, some introductory opprobrium is to be expected.

    Depending on the audience, something less blunt than "IDiot" might be appropriate, but treating them with respect would not.

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  14. All these phrases are very silly and immature. IDiot, Obamabot, Bagger, etc. They come right off the playground. They are reflective of the current 'gotcha' culture and the Age of the Soundbite. They basically say, "I can tell you all you need to know about this person with just one word. They are inferior and cartoonish."
    I suppose that if one has neither the creativity, the courtesy, the rhetorical skills nor the maturity to refrain from their usage, one must do what one must.

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    1. What's it like up there on the high road? Is it lonely?

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    2. I do not know Andy, I am far from being open to the possibility that anyone will think that I have respect for the IDiots. I don't, and I want everybody to know that I don't. They do not deserve the slightest respect, and I want to show just that. Thus, I will insult them as much as they deserve (I never do, but I fail because what they deserve is way much more than the available vocabularies have).

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    3. Even so, NE, there are different approaches to rhetorical jousting. There is the brilliant satire of Swift and Wilde, and then there is the inane name calling of the snot-nosed second grader. I would hope that one would aspire more toward the former than the latter on a forum such as this.

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    4. Granted, but I lack any refinement and creativity in those regards anyway. So I go by what I can do. Direct and unambiguous. :-)

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    6. I'm fine with a lack of rhetorical jousting. I think it should be called as it is.

      Not to mention calling somebody stupid is typically done in a context where it should be obvious to everyone listening in that the person's current words/actions (or the repeating theme of such) are being labeled as that, and not the individual as a whole. It usually takes some extra words to imply that the individual is entirely stupid overall.

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  15. I don't know Ms Benson or Mr Fincke which may be a good thing. I see nothing wrong with the words stupid and moron. They are purely descriptive, a way of quantifying different intelligence levels. Intelligence varies in a regular way in humans and is highly heritable. Education can improve intelligence and knowledge but in the end, a silk purse cannot be made out of pig skin. Stupid is as stupid does. The other words are just insults.

    There is nothing wrong with being stupid or moronic. Since half of humanity has an I.Q less than the mean value, they are very populous and not a minority. What is wrong is the excessive usage of political correctness, the avoidance of the reality of human differences in intelligence, and allowing people who are stupid and moronic to not realize they are what they are.

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    1. The problem is, this is not purely a matter of intelligence and you risk alienating the very people on the fringe that should really be the target of such discussions - intelligent people who have been misinformed. If you imply (or say) that they are stupid, you make them defensive. They know that they are not stupid, therefore you are wrong, therefore your argument clearly has no substance and you are resorting to ad hominem attacks. (That's the usual reaction.) Pointing out the stupidity of individual ideas is fine but stereotyping and tarring a whole group of people with the same brush of stupidity, now that's stupid. (But intelligent people still do it.)

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    2. I couldn't agree more! I have always found it vexing when people whom I call stupid or morons get upset with me. But then, I realize that they are just too stupid to realize that I am not insulting them, so what's to be done?
      Likewise, when I have tried to endear myself to young parents by pointing out how homely their child is (and really, what's wrong with that?) they always seem to take it the wrong way. I blame political correctness!
      And just the other day, as I pointed out to a young woman of marriage age that she fell so far below the average in terms of attractiveness that she should probably just engage her mind with stamp collecting, she - get this - started crying! I could only conclude that she was not only ugly but also a moron. Unfortunately, she ran away before I had the chance to point that out to her.
      So, the upshot is, I find it refreshing to connect with someone like you, who really 'gets it'. And I am sure you will agree that just as there is nothing wrong with pointing out to certain individuals how stupid and moronic they are, neither is there anything wrong with pointing out the same about certain comments one may happen to come across on a blog. And if one were to exclaim, "Wow! That is a REALLY stupid and moronic comment", certainly one could expect that the person who wrote it would take it in the spirit in which it was intended, yes?

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    3. People who behave like that are stupid.

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    4. People who behave like that are stupid.

      I'm sure you think you're being clever, Larry, but you really just come off as being stubborn and abrasive.

      Do you think that we should just ignore that people have emotions because social considerations for people's feelings are incovenient to those who want to antagonize people?

      Delete
    5. Wow Michael, so now you attack Larry for saying andyboerger's hypothetical meanness is unacceptable? Are you saying it's only ok to insult people if you're doing it without provocation, or when you're only doing it to be mean?

      Delete
  16. "My audience is not the creationists I'm debating, it's the readers who might not have made up their minds about Intelligent Design Creationism. They will read the viscous attacks of these creationists on scientists (Darwinists) and wonder whether there's some truth behind them."

    I wonder if you are targeting the wrong people? I have never met anyone who had "not made up their mind" about Creationism versus evolution and ever opted for Creationism after looking into it. (I've met lots of people that simply don't care but that's a different matter.)

    I have, on the other hand, met a lot of people who have made up their mind to believe in Creationism because of what they have been taught/indoctrinated with (or been sucked in following religious conversion) but, at the same time, have the intellectual integrity (and capacity) to question whether that position is right and look into it further. These people are taught that atheist scientists are waging some kind of war on God etc. etc. and that there is some giant conspiracy against them etc. The personal attacks lend credence to this lie. Clearly laid out rebuttals of Creationist drivel and well documented examples from the (sometimes literal) mountains of evidence for evolution and an Old Earth are, in my experience, far more convincing. (As well as being more interesting.)

    The misinformed masses deserve pity, not hostility. The people that deserve your hostility are the minority who claim to be scientists and spread this crap. However, if you "don't expect to convince the IDiots of the error of their ways" then there is no reason to attack them directly - simply exposing their arguments to be stupid and/or lies is a much more effective way of showing them up to be stupid and/or disingenuous. Let them be the ones who are resorting to ad hominem attacks because they have nothing else. Otherwise, you just alienate the very middle crowd that I think you want to target.

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  17. ... simply exposing their arguments to be stupid and/or lies is a much more effective way of showing them up to be stupid and/or disingenuous

    What's your evidence for that?

    Some of us have been trying for thirty years or more and it doesn't work.

    There's quite a bit of work in the pedagogical literature suggesting that it's not good enough to simply present the scientific evidence. When people have misconceptions (e.g. creationism) they will just rationalize that evidence to conform to their beliefs.

    If you want to change those beliefs then you have to confront them directly and show students where the conflict lies. In other words, you have to teach the controversy.

    Same in the public sphere. It's not sufficient to just write articles about why the Earth is billions of years old. All the evidence suggests that this has no effect on those who incline towards Young Earth Creationism. In order to make progress you actually have to come right out and say why believing in a 6000 year-old Earth is wrong.

    You could say that quietly under a bushel by writing articles in the New York Times and Discover but that isn't likely to get much attention. Or, you could say that Young Earth Creationists are stupid and their god is a delusion.

    That's the sort of thing that brings the dispute out into the open and I think that's a good thing.

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    1. "In order to make progress you actually have to come right out and say why believing in a 6000 year-old Earth is wrong."

      Yes, this is what I am advocating. This is not the same as calling all Young Earth Creationists stupid. Many of them are not stupid, just naive and misinformed - and wrong. Being wrong and being stupid are not the same thing. Their god is a delusion, yes, and you would be stupid, knowing what you know, to believe in their god. They do not know what you know, though. By attacking them rather than their ideas, you play directly into the hands of those that want to make us look aggressive, irrational and smugly superior.

      My evidence is only personal experience and anecdotes are not data. I suppose it depends what you are trying to achieve. You say:

      "Some of us have been trying for thirty years or more and it doesn't work."

      I say it does work and I am living proof of that. In the sense that it hasn't eliminated YEC altogether, no, it doesn't work. (Any evidence that calling them stupid does?) In the sense that it convinces those who care about the truth, yes, it does work. I got the impression from your statements about not trying to convince Creationists they are wrong that it was the latter you are really trying to reach and, for them, aggression and rudeness are not the right tactics.

      If, on the other hand, you just want to give people who already agree with you something to smile about, it is the right tactic.

      Delete
    2. cabbagesofdoom, just one of the mistakes you're making is in thinking that people need to know what Larry knows about biology/evolution to realize that religion/creationism is baloney.

      If a person over the age of about 18, and who doesn't have physical brain damage, believes the absolutely impossible fairy tales that are pushed as fact in religions, they ARE stupid, or worse.

      For instance, have you ever read the bible? Do you really think that people who believe that it's a factual account of human history and the universe, and that it depicts a "good", "moral", "loving", "perfect", "forgiving", "merciful" god, aren't stupid?

      I don't need to know anything about any scientific evidence or theory to know that flying pink unicorns don't exist, just as I don't need to know anything about any scientific evidence or theory to know that religions are full of totally made up fairy tales. I reject the existence of flying pink unicorns and religious fairy tales because they are ridiculous, and it only takes ordinary knowledge from everyday life to realize that. It should not take advanced schooling in biology or evolution or any other aspect of science.

      Religious fairy tales should be rejected regardless of whether a person has any knowledge of any scientific evidence or theory. Believing in obvious bullshit is stupid, and trying to destroy science and push that bullshit into the thoughts and lives of everyone on Earth (especially children) is despicable.

      Another thing you're doing is the old and totally lame game of 'separate a person from their ideas/beliefs' and 'only attack the ideas/beliefs, not the person'. Ideas aren't some separate entity from the person believing them, and that especially applies to stupid people who not only believe in stupid ideas but who also claim that only their stupid religious ideas/beliefs are correct and that well supported scientific discoveries and the people who accept them are wrong and evil.

      And maybe the stupidest thing that stupid people do is to not even try to understand nature/reality or the scientific method. Every religious zealot I've ever encountered in person or on the internet thinks that they already know everything they need to know, and they don't want to see or hear anything that questions, challenges, or contradicts their entrenched beliefs. All they do and want to do is dictate what everyone else should believe and do.

      Take a look at ENV or UD for example. What do you see? Do you see open and honest discussion? Do you see the religious zealots trying to understand nature/reality and the scientific method? Do you see them being willing to admit that they are or even COULD BE wrong, about ANYTHING? Or do you see "comments closed" and/or a lot of blocking and banning of, and malicious personal attacks on, scientists and anyone else who questions or disagrees with them?

      If the IDCs were actually willing to discuss things openly, honestly, and civilly (as they dishonestly say they do and want to do) the name calling from the science 'side' would likely diminish or stop (or would never have started), but the IDCs don't and won't 'discuss' anything openly, honestly, and civilly. They have stupidly made and continue to make themselves into deserving targets for name calling and other derogatory (and entirely accurate) remarks.

      Delete
  18. Bloggers are editors, unless they choose not to be, they get to decide on the rules at their place. I guess not having rules is a choice too, of sorts.

    The idea that one horselaugh is worth a ten thousand syllogisms was popularized by Martin Gardner and it's been among the reasons that "skepticism" is of limited popularity and a movement constantly tending to low brow, juvenile coercion instead of the rational discourse it pretends to represent. As an aside, I'm always amused at how much of the "free thinkers'" discourse consists of telling others how they are allowed to think.

    That will get you a following more versed in FOX entertainment programming than it will people who value reason and the record of human intellectual experience. It's a choice to be made. What do you want? To pretend to value reason or to practice reason?

    ReplyDelete
  19. "IDers can sometimes be right about individual things..."

    Like what? The Whole Truth

    They've pretty much had the goods on the Charles Darwin circle, including Charles D., and eugenics for quite a while. Their case consists of the words activities of the most eminent of them up till WWII. The connection between C.D. and Nazis is far more indirect and prone towards being exaggerated but that between his son, Leonard, and German race science are quite strong. Leonard, himself, associated his father with eugenics* as did Francis Galton. There is no one I've found with a closer and more intimate connection with C.D. who tried to disassociate him from eugenics. I've been asking people to provide evidence to that effect for about six years without anyone being able to do that.

    Of course, the ID industry is entirely wrong about evolution, itself and of the ability of science to support their religious ideas. It doesn't mean SOME OF their critique of Darwinism isn't valid.

    * “Dedicated to the memory of MY FATHER. For if I had not believed that he would have wished me to give such help as I could toward making his life's work of service to mankind, I should never have been led to write this book.” Leonard Darwin: The Need for Eugenics Reform

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    1. I should mention that the contemporary positive reviews I've seen of The Need for Eugenics Reform (published in 1926) also make the connection between C. Darwin and eugenics. It wasn't till after WWII that I've seen any attempt to disassociate him from eugenics, which was, by then, somewhat discredited. I haven't, yet, read anyone who actually knew the man who tried to do that. Anyone who wants to provide the references showing that should do it now.

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    2. You're going to have to a lot better than that if you're trying to connect Darwin to Hitler or any other monstrous campaign, and if you're trying to show that IDiots are "right" about some things due to "ID" thinking or research.

      And apparently you missed this:

      "And make sure it's things, and actually useful things, that weren't/aren't already known, and that it's things that they came up with originally via their own and only their own, new, independent "ID" research and didn't learn or steal from science/scientists or anyone else."

      Delete
    3. TTC,

      As usual you interpret things whatever way you want. That somebody might be dedicating something to his father does not mean that such father agreed with it.

      You are such an imbecile.

      Delete
  20. Hang on a minute, "The whole truth", I never said that IDers had made any original contributions that were right. I just meant that not everything they say is wrong. They are masters of obscurification and frequently bolt their nonsense onto genuine scientific observations. They do not reject all of science, only the bits that disagree with whatever fantasy they are trying to push at that given moment.

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    1. PS. Not sure why this appeared down here and not under the comment I was replying to. (Sorry!)

      Delete
    2. Well, maybe you can explain how the IDiots came to their allegedly "right" conclusions via "ID" thinking or research, originally and independently?

      Anyone can be "right" about something, especially if all they do is agree with and/or repeat what someone else already correctly figured out.

      "They are masters of obscurification and frequently bolt their nonsense onto genuine scientific observations. They do not reject all of science, only the bits that disagree with whatever fantasy they are trying to push at that given moment."

      That's right.

      Delete
  21. There is no agreement on what people can say.
    i've been banned and accused for saying things on evolution forums and CHristian ones.
    the boss is the boss and any claim to common laws is silly.
    I note the word IDiot but i don'r care. I'm YEC but ID are gang members for general rumbles.

    in fact there is a general censorship from the left wing to control criticisms of left wing movements that are still not finished.
    As the author of this thread said said racism and sexism are really most of it.
    There's no such thing as racism or sexism but right and wrong opinions about identities.
    If malice is involved then its obvious but its really the opinions, without malice, that are being censored.
    Origin issues bump into the general problem of what to allow people to say.
    Presently society is keeping close watch and whip and freedom to insult in origin issues is a bug in the matrix by evolution friendly demographics.

    I say let freedom of thought and words rule .
    Don't be malicious but ignore aggressive speech.
    Conservatives and creationists will always lose in speech control because its, presently, a liberal establishment.

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  22. Conservatives and creationists will always lose in speech control because its, presently, a liberal establishment. Robert Byers

    In the United States? Give me the biggest break in the history of breaks. The media in the United States, the electronic media, the media that is really effective, is at least 95% right wing. Real liberals are black listed more effectively than they were during the 1950s black list period, religious liberals just about entirely disappeared by it. The far right owns hate talk radio that plasters the talk radio media, they can tell any lie with complete freedom, only once in a blue moon having to walk it back.

    Ronald Reagan paved the way with his destruction of the Fairness Doctrine, equal time and diversity and community service requirements. That there is a tiny sliver of the media universe not under the firm control of the corporate right and its sock puppets is pointed to by the corporate right and the stupidest of pseudo-liberals who pretend the status quo isn't what is in actual effect. Many of the most prominent of the pseudo-liberals have a vested interest in that same status quo.

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    1. I'm sure that Booby Byers will be up in arms about the decision of the Canadian Government to bar the Fascist News Channel from that country.

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2012/07/31/fox-news-barred-from-canada-until-they-start-telling-the-truth/

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    2. The Harper government seems to be intent to do with the media what Margaret Thatcher did with it in Britain, turn it into a USA style right-wing propaganda operation.

      Delete
  23. Banning words never ever works. We in the UK 'banned' the use of several terms for what are now special needs. You don't hear those words any more but to be called 'special' now is the gravest insult encapsulating all the venom and hatred that was in the other words.
    The words don't hold the hatred - and to many there's nothing more offensive than to be told you cant use a word because someone else misused it.
    I don't want to sound offensively patronising but strawman says thats off limits...

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  24. quite happy to be one of the "bad cops". the criminals always hate that the "bad cops" are those who hold them responsible and don't take excuses and lies.

    ReplyDelete
  25. It's not like Larry is saying we should just call IDiots "stupid" and walk away. Prefacing a reasoned argument with "that's fucking stupid" in response to a creationist's "argument" is very effective in clearly articulating one's low regard for creationist beliefs.

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  26. Skepticism and rationality call for the wholehearted embrace of empirical truth. You can't ever win an argument by rational argumentation if you flinch from the truth, and the truth is oftentimes insulting. To fail to call creationism, libertarianism, etc. unadulterated idiocy is to lose the argument by withholding and devaluing the truth.

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  27. Ignore meaningless words and parse the real arguments. Sticks and stones, for chrissakes.

    ReplyDelete
  28. When I'm listening in on a debate on a topic about which I'm honestly undecided, and one side is insulting the other side and saying "you're all a bunch of stupid idiots, and your moronic arguments don't even deserve to be answered", I find myself inclined to think that the side being insulted is probably right. And if a good number of the people on the insulted side are PhDs with a lot of (apparently respectable) research credits -- so it's OBVIOUS that, however wrong their ideas might be, they're NOT in fact stupid people -- I suspect more and more that the insulters and name-callers are unsure of their own position, and are trying to bluster their way to victory because their arguments won't cut it.

    Not entirely logical, no. I guess it's a form of argumentum ad hominem to think that rude insulting people who refuse to argue are wrong on the issues. But I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people like me, who would MUCH rather listen to real discussions, than hear people venting about how very much they despise those who disagree with them.

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    1. Where highly-qualified people weigh in on the anti-evolution side and don't have a thorough grasp of biology, that is surely a germane fact? If I, with my (modest) biological qualifications were to wave them around as some kind of warrant to condemn (say) quantum physics as pseudoscience or ideology, quantum physicists would probably call me an idiot (eventually).

      If an onlooker thought that the invective betrayed insecurity on the part of the quantum physicists, the onlooker would probably be wrong.

      In truth, one can attract a barrel-load of invective, intellectual superiority, bigotry and so on by just securing an Uncommon Descent ID and mildly discussing the science from a 'mainstream' standpoint. The moral high ground and the gutter are both peopled by folks having at it as they see fit!

      Delete
    2. Re John Wooley

      One of the reasons why biologists tend to be disrespectful of creationists is that the latter keep bringing up the same arguments that have been refuted over and over again. After the 10th refutation of the same moronic argument, one tires of of the game.

      Mr. Miller hit's the nail on he head. I find Prof. Moran's disdain for the IDiots to be well taken, as most of them have no qualification in the area of evolutionary biology. Certainly clowns like Barry Arrington, Casey Luskin, and Philip Johnson, lawyers all, have no demonstrated expertise in the areas of science they pontificate on. They have no more business pontificating on junk DNA then they have pontificating on quantum mechanics or general relativity.

      Delete
  29. Geez larry, all you have to do to silence us is actually step up and present positive evidence for blind and undirected chemical processes actually constructing new multi-protein machinery. But you are such a sad little man that you can't even do that.

    Ya see Larry, you can spew insults all you want but being a little faggot yourself, your insults don't carry any weight- of course you carry a lot a of weight but that is another story.

    Have a good day.

    BTW if you want to see a decrease in evoTARDs just tell them to find me and insult me to my face. Go NRA!

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    1. That's pretty funny coming from a guy who has been banned from multiple discussion boards for obscenities, posting porn, and making physical threats. Especially when multiple people have called your bluff and offered to meet you, and you cowardly gave them a bogus address.

      Joe Gallien, internet tough guy.

      Delete
    2. I know that Prof. Moran is reluctant to give commentors the heave ho but there is no necessity for him to put up with personal insults from a piece of filth like Mr. Joe G.

      Delete
    3. Joe G is actually one I should not insult because he is simply so incredibly stupid and dense that insulting is actually inappropriate. His problem is unavoidable mental diarrhea rather than hypocrisy or snake-oil salesmanship. Thus, the insults are uncalled for (except because he thinks he has some right to insult others, but that is also a symptom of his mental incompetence, so where are we left?). Hum complicated. I still can't resist. I still insult the poor incompetent, mentally-diarrheic, guy.

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    4. Oh stop calling Joe G names, guys! I'm sure if we just calmly explained the evidence to him he would stop his thinly veiled death threats. Quick Michael M, shows us the right way to convince our pal here. As you can gather from his post, surely you can see what a reasonable fellow Joe G is! Convincing him with facts without any name calling should convince him no problem!

      Delete
  30. Finding Joe is quite hard as he gives out fake adresses (parkinglots!) and shits the bed if he thinks you're in town.

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  31. Keep Joe around. He does more good for us than the ID camp!

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  32. Larry, Daniel is running a philosophy blog. He did not direct his discussion rules to any other, but thinking it through would be helpful. On his blog a clearly stated chain of reason is more important than emotional "tone." I understand that you don't see that as changing hearts and minds here, but that is no reason to discredit what he is doing, there.

    ReplyDelete
  33. As someone with a surname like "Moran", he should be careful who he's calling "idiot" lol!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Before you can learn from him, you must submit yourself to a teacher as an authority; he therefore wields power over you. Good sense suggests that you trust such an individual.

    Dr. Moran epitomizes the academic who can't be trusted since he wields his power irresponsibly by disregarding a moral boundary - respecting people, especially opponents.

    Thank goodness that Dr. Moran's power and influence is limited to the abstract and rarefied world of the academic. As a politician, or a leader with any real power he'd be a tyrant.

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    1. This is quite the imbecilic comment.

      1. I have never had to submit to anybody as an authority before learning from them.
      2. When your opponent is a hypocrite ass-hole, and proud of it, there is no "moral boundary" against calling them for what they are,
      3. What a stupid non-sequitur. But no surprise, you can't build any proper premises either.

      Delete
  35. Calling someone willfully ignorant stupid or idiotic = potential tyrant? OK, whatever you say. That was in no way extremely hyperbolic. Nope, just an acute observation.

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  36. Dr. Moran's attitude is immoral in my humble view. He justifies disrespectful behaviour towards those whom HE (!) considers as deserving such treatment. For instance, what would he feel if I had misspelled his name as: Dr. Moron?! (of course I don't mean it)
    He eaquates (in his answer to Michael M.July 29) religious people to pedophiles...
    Here is what he wrote:
    "I taught my children that some people—homophobes, sexists, pedophiles, racists, holocaust deniers, and astrologers—deserve to be openly identified for what they are. If those people find that insulting then that's just too bad"

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    Replies
    1. He did not equate religious people with pedophiles, he mentioned a list of people who should be called for what they are. This is simple reading comprehension. Also, you equivocate when you talk about religious people when Larry clearly referred to IDiots and other creationist snake-oil-salespeople. There is quite a difference between an IDiot and a religious person. An IDiot may or may not believe in any gods (declaring a belief is not the same as holding a belief), but still be making a living out of public's gullibility.

      Delete
  37. If there is no such thing as free will, is it not wrong to call people idiots, since they have no choice?

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    Replies
    1. Granted. If they have no choice. But when they have a choice and decide to be IDiots regardless ...

      Delete
  38. Very disconcerting to hear someone of Dr. Moran's scientific credentials take his position. Be willing to guess that he has not spent as much time examining both sides of the debate as he would lead people believe before he comes to conclusions. Rather, he somes across as a know it all, not like a scientist. I value the words of the late Dr. Michael Crichton....."If it is consensus, it isn't science. If it's science it isn't consensus. Period".
    If you want to impress people and help people decide on "truth"...just tell them you know it all and have all the asnwers...the others are "stupid" or are "idiots" or both.
    That only reinforces narrow mindedness that Moran claims he is trying to address and gives the distinct impression that a compelling point of view cannot be put forward.

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    1. Both sides?

      On the one side: science. On the other (the IDiot side): lies, misrepresentations, disguised creationism, hypocrisy, rhetorical stratagems, faulty premises, plain stupidity. Why should anybody spend much time examining the second side? Still, Larry buys and reads the IDiot literature. I don't. The lies, misrepresentations, disguised creationism, hypocrisy, rhetorical stratagems, faulty premises, and plain stupidity that IDiots and other creationist snake-oil salespeople present across the web is enough for me to come to a conclusion.

      I don't think that we have all the answers. Quite the contrary. Such admission of ignorance does not automatically mean that IDiocy has any merit. Hey, I only know how to cook a few things, but many dishes just no idea. I still would not think that crap-cakes are culinary art.

      Delete
    2. "...lies, misrepresentations, disguised creationism, hypocrisy, rhetorical stratagems, faulty premises, plain stupidity."

      Can you point to specific cases where any of those apply?

      Delete
  39. If you have an argument, give it. Those who don't have anything logical to say resort to violence or insult. Almost all scientific advances have been met with ridicule by those who have a vested interest in the status quo. Darwin was ridiculed, so was Einstein, Galileo etc. I will always try to listen to those with evidence or logic, and ignore those who try to use peer pressure to subdue investigation.

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    1. Well, you obviously have not read anything in this blog. Otherwise you would not be asking for arguments that abound here. I will always listen to those with evidence and logic. IDiots have what I listed before, which can be summarized as just crap. No peer pressure. If they were going to offer arguments rather than crap, I would listen. So far all they do is what their predecessors, the ones who did not disguise their creationist intentions, did before them and continue doing. Nothing but rhetorically embellished crap.

      Delete
    2. I think that the poster was referring to the fact that insult and invective are not logical arguments and that, when you bury you logical arguments in insult and invective, it makes the argument appear less logical. In other words, no matter how apt "stupid" and "dishonest" are, calling people that only hurts your argument, as the negative emotion invoked in both the person so labelled and those who witness the labeling convince them not to believe your arguments.

      Delete
  40. Nothing on this entire blog is compelling from either side, except to prove why we are where we are 100+ years later. What a waste of digital space.
    Almost everyone on this blog seems to be pretenders ... knowing everything about everything and hence the innuendo and labels come before honesty that "maybe I could learn something". Wow, what a novel idea for a scientist!!
    Beginning with Moran, this is diatribe and not science. I'm signing off. I'm just relieved that not everyone agrees with Moran's approach...and the back slappers that gathered around him...trying to impress the next generation of scientists...this is NOT the way to do it.
    Over and out!

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  41. More to the point. Darwinists CAN'T refute the case for ID, because it's based on evidence and hard empirical facts. (SHEER HORROR!! The idea that Darwin could've been wrong all along!) Annoyed by this, they avoid the issues raised by ID - or they completely misrepresent them, and then they call them IDiots so as to negate the need to deal with those issues.

    This is exactly why ID continues to grow: As more and more people read up on what ID is ACTUALLY about, they start to recognize people like Moran for who they really are: A scared little child childishly blocking their ears, screaming at the top of their voice: "I WIN I WIN I WIN!", hoping that would make the other side go away.

    One day, when all the die-hard close minded Darwinists die off, they will be remembered - like Fred Hoyle who never accepted the Big Bang - as people who could not adapt to new ideas (Quite ironic, actually) and their treatment of scientists promoting ID will be remembered in the same light as the inquisition.

    No ID is not Creationism.
    No ID does not make references to religion
    Yes ID is falsifiable, and no it isn't falsified yet (How could it be when their main opponents refuse to even READ their arguments?)
    Yes ID is supported by scientists who does ID related research and who publish in peer review journals
    No, not all supporters of ID are monotheists.
    No, a Darwinian just-so story is not evidence against ID
    No, bad design (which often turns out to be not so bad after all) is not evidence against design. The question is not the quality of the design, but rather if unguided natural processes can achieve the said result.
    Yes, ID does make predictions, and some of them have been verified (Junk DNA)

    Ofcause, we are told by people like Moran that we should trust their expert opinion, because "they're scientists" but why should we trust their interpretation of things that happened millions of years ago, when they can't even give a clear accurate description of something that is happening right now? Misrepresenting ID might buy Darwinism some time in the short term, but in the long run, it does their cause more harm than good.

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  42. hannodb, care to share any of that evidence for IDiocy. I am not a biologist but I am well enough versed in reading scientific papers and I have yet to see a single IDiotic paper, even those sneaked into semi-respectable journals or journals they create themselves that can withstand even a cursory examination by an educated non-biologist, let alone mean anything but garbage to an actual biologist. But feel free to point me at this evidence for IDiocy. Though first, it might behove you or any other IDiot to actually present a testable hypothesis. Until then it is nothing but hand waving and wishful thinking.

    John Phillips, FCD

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    1. She just gave a list...

      Delete
    2. I believe absolutely and beyond all possibility of doubt that when the Bible says "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth", it means just that; and precisely that. You ask for evidence which can withstand even a cursory examination by an educated non-biologist. I assume you are referring to yourself; and I therefore hope that you are reasonably adept in the field of mathematics, and specifically, geometry. I will give you evidence which is irrefutable, for the divine authorship of the words you so foolishly reject, which we could typically encapsulate in the verse "And God said, Let us create man in our own image".
      The testable hypothesis which you ask for could equally be asked for wrt the fantasy known as Darwinism. It has neither been asked to submit to such a test, nor has it passed such a test. It remains, a century or more after its first invocation, merely a theory. Even those who once espoused it are now suggesting that life arose elsewhere in the universe, and then arrived here by cometary messenger. Which you, as an educated non-biologist, will immediately realise is not facing up to the issue, but simply deferring it.
      Please go to the website "The Other Bible Code". There you will find that whether educated or ignorant, the evidence for the divine authorship of this most profound of books is beyond reasonable doubt.

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    3. Ah, HereAmI, remember Lincoln's quote about opening one's mouth and removing all doubt? Your comment shows a complete lack of understanding of evolution.

      Evolution HAS stood up to tests, numerous repeated tests, and it consistently passes them. Otherwise it wouldn't be a scientific theory. That, by the way, means just the opposite of what you think it does. In science, a "theory" is an explanation for something which has been effectively proved by repeated testing. There is no "merely a theory" in science--it literally doesn't get any more certain that "theory" in science. Scientific ideas don't progress from theory to fact like you're used to thinking; they progress from conjecture (what you think of as "theory") to hypothesis to theory.

      The idea you're talking about with life coming from elsewhere is called panspermia. At this point it's no more than conjecture or hypothesis, and--as you rightly point out--it merely puts off the question of where life came from. But it also doesn't contradict evolution; I don't see why you'd think it would.

      "The Other Bible Code"? That's your irrefutable evidence? Numerology is a joke.

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    4. "she just gave a list."

      Am I to understand from your post that you don't understand what the words evidence and hypothesis mean. As all the post I responded to did was make a series of unevidenced assertions. And the claim that there is evidence for IDiocy is even admiited as not true by its greatest proponents. All they try to do is to discredit the TOE. Ironically, and unfortunately for them, even if the TOE was somehow falsified tomorrow, that would still not be supporting evidence for IDiocy.


      Hereami, god wrote the bible therefore god? You're beyond even wrong. As to Darwinism, or rather the modern synthesis of The Theory of Evolution, every scientific field that has even the remotest relevance has done nothing but confirm the fact of the theory. Try again maroon (/bugs bunny)


      John Phillips, FCD

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  43. Reading through the above sample of the learned professor's wit and wisdom, I knew I had encountered his logic somewhere before.

    "...When I use the word IDiot, I fully intend to bash the IDiots for their stupid ideas. Why? Because their ideas are stupid, and they really are idiots..."

    Compare and contrast with the following.

    ".....'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'...."

    These two would have many profound concepts to discuss, were they to be placed on a wall together for an afternoon. Professor Moran could astonish Alice and Humpty Dumpty with his curiously circular logic, and the Egg could look down his nose, and in the first instance, correct his colleague's equally curious spelling of the word vicious, before moving on to subtler and more profound matters.

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  44. In brief, there are two communication processes in operation here: argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness. Argumentativeness is essentially the willingness to engage in purportedly persuasive discourse, and verbal aggressiveness is basically the tendency to attack one's perceived opponents' self-concept. The former is correlated with positive persuasive outcomes (i.e., one's interlocutor is more likely to agree with one's position if one is willing to engage in discourse); whereas the latter is correlated with with negative persuasive outcomes (i.e., one's interlocutor is more likely to reject one's position if one attacks the interlocutor personally).

    J.J. Ramsey cites an essay that provides references the peer-reviewed literature should anyone want to verify the informatin in the above paragrapch.

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  45. "...When I use the word IDiot, I fully intend to bash the IDiots for their stupid ideas. Why? Because their ideas are stupid, and they really are idiots..."

    While decrying racist and sexist people, you fall into the exact same trap as such people - that of thinking you belong to some superior group, and some other group is inferior for reasons that don't need to be specified in any great detail (it just goes without saying that they are), because that makes you feel good about yourself. You are no better than a racist.

    Here is where you make your blunder - because you have called other people stupid, you have made no attempt to understand their reasoning. Everybody has reasons for what they think. Sometimes the reasons are based on false data - as WE ALL have false data sometimes, which doesn't make us stupid. Sometimes the reasons are based on quick assumptions, as WE ALL have to make quick assumptions sometimes, which doesn't make us stupid. Sometimes two equally intelligent people will come to different conclusions early in life, and due to the well documented effects of confirmation bias, will both become equally strongly convinced of the strength of evidence for their conclusion as time goes on. Whichever of them is wrong - assuming that EITHER of them is right - doesn't make one of them stupid.

    You seem to be unaware that well documented psychological effects such as confirmation bias etc. can lead equally intelligent people to completely different conclusions. That makes you 'uninformed about a particular aspect of science'. But does it make you 'stupid', or 'an idiot'? I'll let you answer that one for yourself.

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