Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Real Problem

Since I'm in high dudgeon today, let me also comment on another annoying tidbit.

During a brief car ride this evening, I heard about two minutes of The Michael Reagan Show on the radio. Reagan had the night off and there was a guest host in his place.

Apparently some time before I turned on the radio the subject of evolution arose. A caller identifying himself as a scientist called up to object to what had been said previously. Since Reagan, and presumably any guest host sitting in for him, is a typical member of the brain-dead radio right, I think I can guess what had been said previously.

To my suprise the caller began by saying something like, “Claiming that evolution is just a theory misses the point,” and started to go into a pretty good explanation of theories and models and how science works. Along the way he remarked that everything in science is a theory.

The host took this as an opportunity. “That's not true!” he thundered. “For example, there's the second law of thermodynamics! That's a law, not a theory! One's a law and one's a thoery!! Why would you say that everything in science is a theory when some things are described as laws!!!”

Considering the slow, patient, and sadly ineffective way in which the caller was presenting his views, I gather that he probably was very knowledgeable indeed about science. But it didn't matter. Every time he got three words out the host cut him off to reiterate his blather about the differences between laws and theories.

The point? The next time someone tells you that insensitive, overtly atheistic remarks from Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are a major source of the problem for evolutionists, I encourage you to laugh in their face. Viewing things that way gives way too much credit to the anti-evolution side. It implies far too much thoughtful consideration and sober reflection.

The real problem is that if you did a poll in which you asked people whether discussing the second law of thermodynamics versus the theory of evolution indicates that the former is on solid evidential ground whereas the latter is not, I think you would have upwards of 70% of the people answering yes. And that idea is so jaw-droppingly pig-ignorant that it pretty much defies response. How is it that so many people can reach adulthood holding such delusional views about science?

Is hostility towards evolution caused by a few insensitive remarks by people like Dawkins and Dennett? Or is it caused by having a large segment of the population that doesn't know anything about science? You make the call.

9 Comments:

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous wolfwalker said...

"Is hostility towards evolution caused by a few insensitive remarks by people like Dawkins and Dennett? Or is it caused by having a large segment of the population that doesn't know anything about science?"

Both.

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger jayinbmore said...

Damn! wolwalker beat me to it. But I was going to add that nothing generates hostility more than being told "you're ignorant" when you know the accusation is accurate.

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous darthwilliam said...

Jason,

You asked, "How is it that so many people can reach adulthood holding such delusional views about science?"

You've probably already read this link: (from pharyngula this morning)

http://faultline.org/index.php/site/comments/last_night1/

Is it time to leave the country yet?

...darth

 
At 4:14 PM, Blogger trrll said...

My usual response to the "law" thing is:

"Law" is just a mostly obsolete term for a simple theory that is thought to be highly reliable. Science is moving so fast today that hardly anybody presumes to call anything a "law" any more. One consequence is that some "Laws" are now known to be incorrect, but we continue to call them "Laws" for historical reasons. For example, Newton's Laws of motion are now known to be inaccurate, and have been replaced by Einstein's special and general theories of relativity.

 
At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

I feel your pain... this is why I never listen to talk radio

"Is hostility towards evolution caused by a few insensitive remarks by people like Dawkins and Dennett? Or is it caused by having a large segment of the population that doesn't know anything about science?"

The first one has always seemed more excuse than anything else to me, if you can’t intelligently discuss an issue than being indignant about it is your best bet.

 
At 1:14 PM, Anonymous MMcGhee said...

IMO you all suffer from the common belief that intelligence has something to do with a person's beliefs - despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary (in almost any news item these days).

People believe what feels good - they only use their intelligence to justify it. Trying to use reason to oppose someone's strong beliefs is like trying to put out a brushfire with gasoline.



Margaret

 
At 5:50 PM, Anonymous pv said...

In my view hostility to evolution is down to ignorance, plain and simple. Personally I side with Richard Dawkins, but that doesn't change the evidence leaning overwhelmingly towards evolution. It would be something if any anti-evolutionists actually ever did any research and publish some results.
Why is it necessary for creationists and Iders, anti-evolutionists or whatever, to me to be such first class liars? And why is it necessary for others to make excuses for them.

 
At 5:51 PM, Anonymous pv said...

In my view hostility to evolution is down to ignorance, plain and simple. Personally I side with Richard Dawkins, but that doesn't change the evidence leaning overwhelmingly towards evolution. It would be something if any anti-evolutionists actually ever did any research and publish some results.
Why is it necessary for creationists and Iders, anti-evolutionists or whatever, to be such first class liars? And why is it necessary for others to make excuses for them.

 
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