Monday, August 15, 2005

Maybe I Should be a Right-Winger

My life would be so much easier if I were a right-wing crank. For example, I contribute a monthly column to CSICOP's Creation Watch website. I just sent off to them my latest essay, in which I discuss some of the ways creationists abuse probability theory. Though it is not an especially long essay, it took me several days and numerous drafts to complete it. I agonized over every word. Were my arguments clear and correct? Will readers be able to follow my chain of thought? Have I given fair consideration to the best arguments from the other side?

But if I were to become a right-winger, I could ignore such difficulties. As a right-winger I could publish columns like this one, from Town Hall columnist David Limbaugh. I could labor unencumbered by any need to actually learn some science before commenting authoritatively on the subject. I could simply make my living by parroting standard talking points.

Here's Limbuagh:


The main players in the ID movement are not even insisting on that much. Discovery Institute, for example, opposes the mandatory teaching of ID in public schools but favors requiring students to be exposed to criticisms of Darwin's theory.


As a right-wing hack, Limbuagh feels no need to observe the obvious: That the reticence of the DI to require teaching ID is nothing more than a strategic decision born out of a fear of constitutional challenges.


But whether you believe ID theory ought to get equal billing with Darwinian theory, some lesser treatment, or that students should at least be apprised of alleged chinks in the Darwinian armor, what's all the fuss about?

Don't academics purport to champion free and open inquiry? What, then, are they so afraid of regarding the innocuous introduction into the classroom of legitimate questions concerning Darwinism?

Their defensiveness toward challenges to their dogma is inexplicable unless you understand their attitude as springing from a worldview steeped in strong, secular predispositions that must be guarded with a blind religious fervor.


Of course, that has to be the explanation. I mean, it couldn't possibly be that scientists merely object to a load of religiously-motivated lies being presented as science. And obviously free inquiry means teaching any old pile of nonsense to students, in the hopes that they will figure it out for themselves.


Indeed, it appears many Darwinists are guilty of precisely that of which they accuse ID proponents: having a set of preconceived assumptions that taint their scientific objectivity.

Don't take my word for it. Consider the words of Darwinist Richard Lewontin of Harvard. “Our willingness,” confessed Lewontin, “to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to understanding the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for the unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. … materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”


Every paragraph a cliche! This Lewontin quote is a creationist favorite. I'd be surprised if Limbuagh actually read the book review this quote came from. As a right-wing hack, he has no time for such things. All you have to do is keep a little rolodex of useful quotes at hand, to be whipped out at the appropriate time.

Limbuagh hits most of the other cliches: ID is science-based, the science establishment is repressive, there's that list of 400 scientists the DI keeps promoting, blah blah blah.

Later Limbaugh says,


And, if their science were unassailable, would they so vigorously resist its subjection to academic scrutiny by scientists no longer drinking the Darwin Kool-Aid? It's no secret that scientists who have broken from Darwinian orthodoxy have been ridiculed, suppressed and ostracized by much of the Orwellian scientific establishment.


You see, as a right-wing hack it is perfectly acceptable to smear large groups of people with no evidence at all. Of course, in reality the scientific establishment is teeming with people who dissent from Darwinian orthodoxy. What gets you ostracized is not dissenting from orthodoxy. It is parroting ignorant, incompetent talking points that gets you ostracized. It is telling lies about the state of modern science, misrepresenting the words of your colleagues, and making arguments that a freshman bio major could see through that gets you ridiculed.

I gotta tell ya, I really think I'm working too hard.

8 Comments:

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Skeptico said...

So the IDers don’t want ID taught in schools, they just want the weaknesses (“chinks in the Darwinian armor”) of evolution taught. Well, what else about ID is there to teach? ID is just a list of so-called “weaknesses” of evolution (“Darwinism” – LOL), plus “…and therefore there is a designer”. Or am I missing something?

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger tc99mman said...

When you subsume all "right wingers" under the category of those who hold the views of the fundamentalist "religious right," you err. Libertarians, objectivists, devotees of the (somewhat) free market AKA capitalists, and, people like me, whose views are a pastiche of the above, resent being lumped together with these scientifically ignorant folk. Sure, they vote with us, but, for different reasons. While some right wing politicians fear to challenge their nonsensical views, I never miss a change to dispute their claims in public and private forums. Surely, I am not alone. The claims of IDers and creationists are always disputed in the right wing blogs and net magazines that I frequent. As you leftys never fail to say, "Things are seldom as simple as they seem."

 
At 6:08 PM, Blogger tc99mman said...

typo: "change" should be chance

 
At 8:49 PM, Anonymous 386sx said...

Skeptico: So the IDers don’t want ID taught in schools, they just want the weaknesses (“chinks in the Darwinian armor”) of evolution taught.

What they say they want taught and what they really want taught aren't necessarily the same thing. We've all seen the cartoon where the scientist is writing on the chalkboard "And then a miracle happens." I think that's pretty much what they want. They want to make it so that their God can be spliced into whatever theory (scientific or not)happens to annoy them at any given moment.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Don Bromley said...

If anyone would be interested, I'd love your comments regarding evolution & ID on my blog--"The Socratic Club". It's mainly looking at things from a Christian perspective, but would love some good discussion and debate.


http://socratic-club.blogspot.com/

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger Jason said...

tc99mman-

I'm pleased to hear that you never miss a chance to dispute the views of right-wingers more extreme than yourself. But I'm afraid you don't get to vote with them on the one hand, and then resent being lumped in with them on the other.

The anti-science, anti-intellectual wing of American conservatism is running the show right now. Their views dominate every major conservative media outlet. Even the President has put himself unambiguously on their side. That makes them the mainstream, and you the outsider.

I think everyone who reads this blog understands that when I refer to &ldquo'right-wingers” I have in mind people like the contributors to Town Hall. I'm not referring to every single person in the country who might have some vaguely right-leaning political views.

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger Larry Arnhart said...

It is possible to be a conservative and a Darwinian at the same time. In fact, Darwinism supports the conservative view of human nature as imperfectible.

Those conservatives that support "intelligent design" as the alternative to Darwinian science are deeply confused about both conservatism and Darwinism.

That's the argument of my new book DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM. A blog for the book can be found at darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com

 
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