Monday, June 16, 2008

Hen's teeth

Political correctness: it's another all purpose diversion, used to dismiss valid arguments by referring to the alleged motivation behind them. Strangely, the fact that the PC accusation is so often politically motivated, never seems to attract comment.

Take the subject of evolution. Our knowledge of the genomes of many species is so advanced that we can contemplate reverse engineering animals like birds so as to bring out the hidden genes they retain from their Theropod ancestors. Laboratory experiments have led to scaly, lizard-tailed chickens with hands like a Velociraptor and a mouth full of teeth. Our collection of fossils is vast and the origin of species through natural selection is thoroughly founded. That's what makes it a theory and not special pleading: an argument based on nothing but selective credulity, which is based on politics.

It's politically correct among some people; or perhaps religiously correct (although in the world of Right Wing politics that's the same thing) to insist that Evolution is only a theory and a flawed theory and so baseless conjecture needs to be offered as an equal if not superior explanation. I say baseless because to use statements like "it just can't be" or "I don't understand" or "you can't get something from nothing" or "intelligence can only come from intelligence" as first principles is neither factual nor intelligent much less are these credos the building blocks of theory.

I can't understand why Pi is an irrational number.
Irrational numbers seem irrational.
I can't tell you absolutely what the number is, I can only get arbitrarily close.
God doesn't make up funny numbers.
Pi is only a theory.

I'm a Christian and Christians believe only in Hebrew legends.

If I were of the right political persuasion or subject to the right dogmas, I could easily insist from these "axioms" that mathematics can be dismissed as Politically Correct and I might substitute some number from legend that somehow does not correlate with observed reality but is a nice round integer - more compatible and more correct according to my politics.

You would think I wouldn't have to beat this subject to death, but here we go again. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, said to be on the short list for running mate with the idiot McCain, wants his kids to be exposed to the "best science" because he's a "Christian" and to be politically correct according to Christian politics, that means ancient and resoundingly debunked legends handed down from illiterate goatherds on the edges of civilization. Jindal insists that the denial of all observed facts packaged as Intelligent Design is a "legitimate scientific discipline." It's not. It's none of those three things, but perhaps it makes Bobby Jindal just dishonest enough to appeal to American voters.


RR said...

It's like people long for the dark ages... What's most disturbing is that this nonsense comes from our leaders.

I completely baffles me that people accept so many facts and technologies derived from science, but still deride conclusions that contradict ancient mythology if such a fact isn't intuitively obvious.

It seems people will always dogmatically cling to ancient mythology.

kensmail2001 said...

Evolution -as explained by Darwin- rested on the foundation that once we could see the building blocks of life we would see a very simple logic to its construction. Since the development of high-tech imaging devices, we see that life is composed of extremely complex structures. If we are to continue with the dependency of the theory of evolution, we are going to have to come up with something that explains this complexity better than Darwin did.

Capt. Fogg said...

Nice try Ken, but this is really just specious babble. The mechanisms of evolution have been very well explained for a long time and the process is well explained even if all you know is what you get from tracts based on a hundred year old misunderstanding.

Here's the think Ken -- there is no other explanation that is based on any evidence at all: none, zilch, nada.

Let me guess -- you have no background whatever in molecular biology or genetics, but you believe.

Georg said...

Hallo Cpt. Fogg,

Reading all this as well as that Georgia's Governor prayed for rain (have a look on my blog on behalf of this subject), I wonder if the United States are not slowly sliding back into the Dark Ages.

Welcome to a second stunt of the Middle Ages, but this time helped by cell phones, atom bombs and flat screens.

Interesting times ahead.



Capt. Fogg said...

Georgia also employed a Native American shaman to do rain ceremonies.

The irrationality of religion is fascinating.

kensmail2001 said...

You mentioned, "the reverse engineering of animals..."
isn't that implying that they were engineered in the first place?

Capt. Fogg said...

How clever -- no it doesn't.
More argument from ignorance and to the ignorant: more unfounded maxims, more faith in ignorant and ancient authority. More magic. Please don't tell me some superior intelligence designed your truly dishonest and irrational arguments.

I can reverse engineer sandstone into sand - are you really idiotic enough to insist that some invisible man stuck the sand grains together to make stone?

Maybe you are. Maybe there are little people inside atoms holding them together by magic since physics makes your head hurt?

kensmail2001 said...

I am fairly comfortable with physics. I am not a molecular biologist nor a geneticist; my background is in analytical and organic chemistry. I did get a great appreciation for the complexity of bio-mechanical structures- particularly at the sub-cellular level.
As for authority, St Thomas Aquinas said it was the least persuasive method of argument.
Why do you guys try so hard not to believe? If there was compelling evidence to think otherwise, would you then believe in God?

Capt. Fogg said...

Aqiunas, I think, believed the Sun was the center of the universe. You are arguing in the same fashion and of course it's you who are trying to insert an entity for which there is no evidence into a large and ever increasing amount of contrary evidence.

I'm not "you guys," I'm me and people who argue the way you do differ from the inquisition only in that you don't have access to their kind of power any more.

I do tend to regard evidence as the basis for knowledge. I regard belief as meaningless and belief that is steadfastly contrary to all evidence as dishonest. It's you who keeps talking about mid 19th century science as though there had been no progress and no flood of ever accelerating evidence. That's dishonest. It's you who insists that baseless conjecture influenced by ancient religious beliefs is in some fashion the equal of immense but not absolutely perfect evidence. That's dishonest.

The question is not whether I would believe in Shiva or Refafu or Bobo the wonder chimp as the creator of biology if there was evidence: the question is "where is that evidence?" Please remember that appeals to authority and appeals to confusion or ignorance are not arguments but credos.

You must realize that your approach ( I won't call it more than that) can be used to assert absolutely anything, including that you're wrong. What evidence would it take you to believe that complexity does not increase in a closed system to which energy is being applied?

Your argument, once again, is simply an assumption without basis and cannot be tested. Science is something quite different. You still have presented no evidence other than belief based on superstition.

So why can't I just believe that existence is what it is if I really don't have to show any evidence? Are you some kind of prophet?

d nova said...

well, we all make assumptions, n we all blieve things.

i, 4 xample, assume that if living things were intelligently designed few if any species wd ever go xtinct, birth dfects wdn't occur, genetic copying errors wd never happen when cells divide, &c. i'd say my assumption rises 2 the level o belief. but i admit i don' really know.

as 4 mr jindal, isn' he one o those goa xians? reminds me o dinesh d'souza, who i heard say "if ends don't justify means, i don't know what does."

btw, monday in london, in joint appearance w/ mr brown, mr bush sd nuclear 3 times. then he must've noticed his error, bcuz he sd nucular the nxt 3 times.

guess who said...


kensmail2001 said...

Aquinas did live at a time when most of the world believed that the sun was the center of the universe.
Who came up with the heliocentric model?Copernicus (another one of those Christians).
Modern physics allows you to use anything as a frame of reference -yes, you can even use the earth as the center of the universe as a reference point.
I don't say that there hasn't been progress in science- quite the opposite. That was my initial point-Darwinism is an outdated concept. He even questioned it himself on his deathbed.
Science developed rapidly in Christian societies because many scientists believing that the universe was created by God was a universe that is ordered and comprehensible.
What have Darwinists given rise to?
Carl Marx was a great fan of his; so were the Nazis.
As for any kind of evidence- create a self-replicating machine. Better yet, create a grain of sand from nothing- now that would be something!

Intellectual Insurgent said...

The problem is not with religion per se as it is with taking its stories too literally (although, admittedly, most people do). They are like the people who dress up like Star Wars characters and fight with light sabers after seeing the movie.

Humanity is capable of never-ending stupidity and Darwin failed to account for that.

d.K. said...

I think if we all just agreed to believe in Refafu, and just settle on that, we'd all get along a lot better.

Capt. Fogg said...


Again with the baseless assumptions and irrelevant diversions! Why is it that you cling to invisible entities so blindly?

I doubt therefore I think - I believe because I don't think. References to Hitler being caused by Darwin are beneath even your crapulous dignity. Anything can be misused and everything has been, including the most egregious of propositions: faith. Simply put -- no faith, no inquisition. I do hope that's the bottom of your slimy barrel because it stinks like hell.

The idea that Darwin is outdated is as silly as the idea that Newton is outdated or Einstein because science is a process of refining models; adding details, not blindly following legend or insisting that your unwillingness to think is a reason for me to believe in legend as the road to knowledge.

Blind faith is outdated. It starts and ends in the same place and goes nowhere: just where you need it to be.

As I said with the number Pi - adding another digit neither shows that Pi is an invalid conjecture nor that an invisible man sets the ratio nor that ancient legend is as valid or more valid than mathematics. This is precisely what you are doing. This is dishonest.

We are talking about evolution, not Darwin and Darwin's alleged doubts are a tendentious distortion of convenience. All scientists, all honest people have doubts. All science is about doubt! All the evidence is for evolution. None of the evidence is for God or Gods or other entities having no substance, mass, charge, velocity, energy state or place in which to exist and no evidence of their interaction with observable reality. Your God conjecture requires so many special assumptions and special pleadings that they may be infinite. Evolution requires none; the evidence is there in the bones and in the genes and in the laboratory whether you know about it or not.

You seem to have some sense of persecution when it comes to your esoteric Christianity. The world of Christians has long since accepted that reason and observation and the testing of premises leads to valid answers. The only reason they are not still insisting we are made of clay or that there is a firmament or that you can walk into heaven from a mud brick tower or all the rest is because it's demonstrably not true thanks to science and reason.

I will state this for the last time and then I will delete your further comments: the idea that intelligence can only come from another intelligence is a baseless assumption supported only by your insistence that you can't understand. It's a variation of the "first cause" argument that any school child can refute since it demands an infinite series of prior causes. That things do indeed arise from and return to "nothing" is absolutely demonstrable. The chemical mechanism for evolution is understood, can be reproduced experimentally and is verified by countless fossil examples.

Since you have offered only condescending tropes from some tract and no actual argument I will thank you to desist. I'm not in the habit of wasting time in argument with dishonest and probably deranged people. Life is too short.

Capt. Fogg said...


That people can't handle metaphor is very true. That's why they turn benign religion into something bad.


Refafu rules but Odin rocks.


Good point. What intelligence designed George Bush, athlete's foot and a universe 45 million light years across where the most important thing is to say magic words and sleep with who they tell you to?

Capt. Fogg said...

Oh yes Ken -- I forgot to ask why Copernicus decided against a heliocentric universe -- didn't it have something to do with observable fact rather than the Bible? Why don't you have some snickering gibberish about the "heavenly bodies" being attached to a large bowl, the other side of which is heaven? The rest of "you people" certainly did at the time.