Thursday, March 31
I'm busy reabsorbing the blogosphere after a mostly-absence of a month, and in the course of this endeavour, I wandered over to Wizbang. Usual stuff - the unfortunate Terri Schiavo (skip), Bonfire, UN scandal, various little items, and then I ran into this:
Do I have to draw a picture?
Since the Oozer Zealots don't read or think, typing any more, is pointless. Maybe a picture will sum the whole thing up.
This puzzled me for a moment. Okay, from the labels on the graph, he's talking about evolution, but Oozer Zealots as a term for Creationists is a new one on me.
Then I realised that Oozer Zealots is actually a derogatary term for people accept Evolutionary Theory. Paul - the poster in this instance - is arguing the Creationist point of view.
Well, I went into the comments to see what people had to say about that, and to add my $2 (partly inflation, but mostly because I have a lot to say), only to find that the comments were closed.
Trackbacks weren't closed, though, and Paul receives a well-earned spanking from Pharyngula. Even better, the Commissar offers these two detailed posts, followed by (mostly) informed and rational commentary, explaining where Paul is wrong, why he is wrong, and how we know he is wrong.
Paul does not help his case with this response:
You are an idiot.And that was to the earlier post, before the Commissar got really warmed up.
And a paranoid idiot at that.
Now I'm a closet bible thumper?
Way to advance an argument.
Back in December, I wrote this:
My aim is to promote Science and Civilisation, and it's a selfish aim. I want the products of Science and Civilisation for myself: Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning and a fancy computer and an interesting and productive job. The people who attack Science and Civilisation are trying to deprive me of all that, and I won't allow it.Yeah, Paul, I'm talking to you.
The Creationists pushing their fraudulent spin on Evolutionary Theory; the Post-Modernists denying the concept of Objective Truth; the Islamists trying to do both at the same time; the historical revisionists; the Psychics; the "Alternative Health Practitioners"; the academics who see their role being not to teach but to brainwash their students into leftist zombiehood; the "free speech" proponents who want to stamp out speech they don't like; Mysticism and Obscurantism; the spammers and scammers and hackers who are doing their level best to destroy the Internet; the nanny-state idiots and the totalitarian hardliners who try to legislate problems out of existence: These and more are what I truly oppose.
The only way you can maintain a Creationist belief system these days - if you are an adult in a developed country - is through deliberate ignorance. Maybe you don't care much about evolution. That's not so bad; not everyone needs to be a biologist. Still, it is probably the single most significant scientific theory ever formulated, and you should care. But if it's not your thing, and you have chosen not to study it, and you've gone into, say, accounting or civil engineering, that's not a problem.
But that doesn't apply to Paul. He's not only chosen to ignore the facts that are at his fingertips, but to spit in the face of the people who are patiently trying to explain the facts to him. He has inflicted ignorance upon himself, and wishes to inflict it upon others.
There are valid questions regarding Evolutionary Theory, but Paul asks none of them, merely repeating the tired old Creationist talking points. You know how you feel when you hear the same old Democrat talking points, refuted countless times, trotted out once again? Well, yeah. Only this is worse. This is Science he's messing with. This isn't just politics, this is real. More even than democracy, this is the bedrock of our civilisation.
Fortunately, in science, what Paul thinks doesn't matter. No working biologist cares one whit what Paul has to say about the matter. No paleontologist is going to lose any sleep over his posts at Wizbang. No geneticist is going to have an upset tummy at lunchtime today.
There's a little saying popular among scientists and engineers: It's so bad, it's not even wrong.* What this means is that what someone has said is so confused that it is neither true nor false, it simply doesn't make sense.
That's where Paul finds himself from the scientific perspective. He is attacking one of the best supported scientific theories we have, from a point of ignorance, with claims long since refuted. Neither Creationism nor it's stepchild Intelligent Design are scientific theories; nor indeed do they have anything to do with science apart from distorting and misreporting scientific findings.
I'm not going to offer a point by point refutation, because it's been done. If you're interested, there is no better place to start than the Talk.Origins Archive. The works of Stephen Jay Gould are also a wonderful and accessible source of information (though he had his disagreements with other biologists on the fine points of evolutionary theory). There is an unending wealth of information on the subject, much of it wonderfully written (and illustrated!), a joy, a delight of learning. All of which Paul has rejected.
In that post in December, I remarked in closing:
So I shouldn't want for subject matter.And so I shan't, but I hadn't expected it to be coming from my side of the fence.
* Attributed to Wolfgang Pauli
Tuesday, March 01
Apple have told me, in polite and carefully chosen words, that they are not responsible for people who get bitten by their abrupt price changes.
I have replied, in likewise polite and carefully chosen words, that I do not find this response entirely satisfactory.
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