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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2009 :  17:11:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

But I don't think she was siding with Mooney on the subject, as Dave has suggested.
That's not what I intended. I've seen a few comments from authors who generally disagree with Mooney and wish the Four Horsemen would STFU. They're really independent positions, even if most people fall into one camp or the other.

And Palmer's wishing that M&K had spent less time on the New Atheists doesn't mean zero time, especially when in her response to Coyne she dismisses the chapter as a tiny portion of the book, as if to say that the targets of M&K's attack should consider that attack to be inconsequential. Perhaps, at best, it's a weird way of saying that she thinks that the New Atheists should "rise above" M&K's slurs of them, and thus claim the moral high ground. But the impression I still have is that she wishes the out-and-loud atheists to quit whining about the nasty stuff said about them, so that there can be discussion of what she feels are the important parts of the book (but nobody is stopping her from doing so, so such a complaint would be pointless, so I really don't know what she's thinking).

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/10/2009 :  19:48:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Rosenhouse put up part three of his review last Friday.

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2009 :  23:39:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This parody is slightly odd, but it had me laughing by the end.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 08/16/2009 23:40:16
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2009 :  00:15:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

This parody is slightly odd, but it had me laughing by the end.


That was very well thought out, and funny as hell.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2009 :  00:15:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

This parody is slightly odd, but it had me laughing by the end.


That was very well thought out, and funny as hell. "Give me Ray Comfort's number."


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2009 :  20:31:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Eric Johnson has some good things to say about the parts of the book in which M&K focus on "the intersection" of science and politics in "Politics, Communication and Unscientific America."

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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2009 :  18:23:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

This parody is slightly odd, but it had me laughing by the end.


The text is a bit fast, but what I really like is that when Hitler says "Stalin" they replaced it with "Dembski". I don't think that was any accident.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2009 :  07:30:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This piece explains a lot. It's an item written by M&K for the BioLogos Foundation blog which M&K oddly did not write an announcement for on their own blog. In it, M&K make this startling statement:
Watching all this unfold [the "New Atheist" attacks on religion], we couldn't see how such battles advance the cause we centrally care about: The need to focus on science and its centrality to our future.
Obviously, the answer is that religious conflicts don't advance science. But M&K can't see that? How very strange. But they're not done:
There is so much important work to do, and in this context, how can it possibly help to have leading scientists and science defenders busy assaulting religious beliefs?

Put simply, it can't. So we decided to take a stand.
At this point, I was thinking that M&K had simply made the naive mistake of thinking that their priorities should be everyone else's priorities. We've all encountered this before, where (for example) an advocate for housing the homeless might think that money spent on cancer research is a waste. But we Earthlings face a lot of different problems, and they all need to be addressed somehow. Not everyone will prioritize the problems the same way, and that's fine. Some people will consider homelessness the most-important issue, while others will find science education to be the most-important issue. M&K have certainly let us all know what they think is more important than anything else, and maybe they're just making the rookie mistake of thinking that everyone else should agree with that prioritiziation.

But no, that's not it:
The New Atheism has become a counterproductive movement, dividing us when we ought to be united. And this movement is not really about science, although it often aligns itself in this way. Science, alone, isn't capable of saying whether God exists, and most scientists don't obsess about such questions. Atheism is a philosophy that goes beyond mere science--a philosophy that its adherents have every right to hold, but that will never serve as a common ground that we can all stand upon.

The common ground, instead, must be science in its broadest sense--a shared body of facts we can all agree about, however we may differ about the spiritual. Yet this common ground itself is at risk if we let science and faith be in conflict.
Read that last part again: science is in danger if we allow people to attack religion! This is over-the-top, non-sequitor nonsense.

Of course, M&K build upon it:
Leading institutions like the National Academy of Sciences, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Center for Science Education see no need to challenge religious faith. It isn't part of their job description nor is it helpful to the important endeavors they're already engaged in. The New Atheists are the upstarts here and seem to want these organizations to change their policies and approach--but they haven't yet succeeded.
The above is nothing more than M&K closing their eyes to reality. By saying that certain kinds of faith are "compatible with" science, all those organizations are clearly challenging some people's religious faith, instead of sticking to the science. The "New Atheists" want that to stop. That's how they're trying to change those groups' policies, to get those science associations to quit engaging in religious discussions. But to combat that reasonable position, M&K offer some advice:
Next time you see the news media cover "science versus religion" as if it's a battle, write or call in and say why that's simplistic. The next time you find a scientist criticizing religious belief, email or call up and ask why it isn't enough for us all to agree about the facts of science.
I agree completely with the first, which M&K obviously don't get. But the second bit is only reasonable if you think (like M&K obviously do) that scientists should only be engaged in promoting science. It's clear that with "so much important work to do," M&K should also be berating scientists who do crossword puzzles or see the occasional movie.

And that's what makes their final sentences so bizarre: they praise Obama's choice of Collins as director of the NIH because Collins is a scientist who is also a "man of faith." M&K criticize PZ Myers because he won't stick to the science, but then say good things about Collins because he doesn't stick to science. It's beyond stupid.

Also in the news, Russell Blackford has given up on M&K:
The twins have shown that they are not just reasonable people who happen to disagree with us on important issues. That would be fine. But they have no rational arguments relating to the issues of substance; instead, they are purveyors of hatred and bigotry who choose to demonise opponents. They choose to treat us as beyond the pale of substantive discussion of our ideas. Well, we are entitled to say what we think of them; we are also entitled to go on making our substantive points, patiently, civilly, and reasonably, as we have done throughout.

It will take more than these two privileged nitwits with bright, toothy smiles to get us to shut up.
Both of these items were brought to my attention by Jerry Coyne.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2009 :  11:26:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
The common ground, instead, must be science in its broadest sense--a shared body of facts we can all agree about, however we may differ about the spiritual. Yet this common ground itself is at risk if we let science and faith be in conflict.
Read that last part again: science is in danger if we allow people to attack religion! This is over-the-top, non-sequitor nonsense.
Oh, it's worse than simple being a non-sequitor. Look at how they define science: "a shared body of facts we can all agree about." But science is not merely a body of facts, it is a method for evaluating hypotheses or truth claims. Whenever people like Coyne, Myers, or Dawkins make the point that faith is inimical to science, they do so on the understanding that science is a process. M&K simply shut their ears to this argument and insist that science is nothing more than a collection of facts and tidbits which can be appropriated by any worldview that doesn't directly conflict with the findings of science.

This neutered view of science is what M&K are really selling. The masses don't need to understand how science works or why, just tell them what it says and they'll accept it so long as it doesn't threaten their superstitions. Of course, since this strategy is no different than what's already been going on for decades in America with nothing but exploding numbers of creationists to show for it, we already know that this does not work. Creationists will merely continue to blurt their "same facts, different interpretations" mantra and lead people to reject the findings of science. We need to stress how science is done if we want to change minds in the long run. Again, I go back to the words of Sam Harris:
The goal is not to get more Americans to merely accept the truth of evolution (or any other scientific theory); the goal is to get them to value the principles of reasoning and educated discourse that now make a belief in evolution obligatory.
That is what M&K either cannot or will not understand, probably because it undermines their entire position.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2009 :  12:11:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

This neutered view of science is what M&K are really selling.
Are they, really? I heard the first and last minutes of K on Science Friday just moments ago as I was running an errand, and it seemed that she has gone off the script again. I plan on listening to the rest of that segment, later, but while M&K's fans seem to have the impression that the book is about the "massive problem of science illiteracy in this country," K seemed to be saying that the book is all about how scientists should better communicate their ideas to policymakers.

So I think one thing that's seriously hindering discussion about the book is that M&K present an ever-moving target, with whatever it is they're selling changing on almost a daily basis. Now maybe K went into other parts of the book on the radio (I'll find out in a while), but the parts I heard contrasted sharply with the infamous chapter 8 and M&K's regular attacks on the OLAs.

Perhaps the problem is that the book should have been a series of (very short) books. Or that K was simply skipping saying "one of the parts of" before saying "our book is about _____."

Don't get me wrong, H., I think you're mostly right, I just think that it's difficult to say what M&K really are selling. As Ophelia Benson and others have asked about the blogosphere, what do M&K want?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2009 :  12:33:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by H. Humbert

This neutered view of science is what M&K are really selling.
Are they, really? I heard the first and last minutes of K on Science Friday just moments ago as I was running an errand, and it seemed that she has gone off the script again. I plan on listening to the rest of that segment, later, but while M&K's fans seem to have the impression that the book is about the "massive problem of science illiteracy in this country," K seemed to be saying that the book is all about how scientists should better communicate their ideas to policymakers.

Don't get me wrong, H., I think you're mostly right, I just think that it's difficult to say what M&K really are selling. As Ophelia Benson and others have asked about the blogosphere, what do M&K want?
Well, I think they want the findings of science to play a larger role in how the public, and by extension our government, makes important decisions. To that end, they feel scientists need to do a better job of promoting (or more cynically, "selling") their findings in a way that resonates with the common man. Among the people who have reviewed Unscientific America, this is usually singled out as a legitimate and constructive point. But what has been so disturbing is what M&K are willing to give up to achieve this goal, which is basically any hope of educating the public on how science actually works. I believe this is because they hold the public in such low regard that they think them incapable of ever understanding science or relating to its methodology. I find that strategy narrow and self-defeating (or perhaps self-fulfilling), for all the reasons already stated.

They've also lost any perspective they might have had on this issue, for instance by criticizing Dawkins for writing a science book for the public. They've long ago gone from offering constructive criticism to blanket condemnation of anything that threatens the simplistic, fragile faith of "the masses." Despite all their admonitions of harsh language and calls for respect, I believe S&K's strategy stems directly from the extremely low regard they hold for the average citizen's intellectual scope. "Appeasement" really is the only accurate moniker for their position, with all the negative connotations it entails.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 08/21/2009 12:56:02
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2009 :  21:34:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Josh Rosenau seems to think that Coyne and others have read a completely different book than he did. I'd like to hear your take, H., on what he's got to say about what he thinks the book is about.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2009 :  00:37:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think Josh is the one engaging in bullshit, after wading through that.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2009 :  07:50:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Rosenau also seems to have bit-bucketed my comment about why his paragraph on Sam Harris was complete bullshit. So much for his harping on how academics should behave.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2009 :  08:17:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Rosenau also seems to have bit-bucketed my comment about why his paragraph on Sam Harris was complete bullshit. So much for his harping on how academics should behave.
Maybe he hasn't gotten to it yet?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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