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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trying to understand intelligent design? I see a hatchet in your future ...



Some Brit friends have written to me to protest Stephen Poole's hatchet job review of American-born Warwick U sociologist Steve Fuller's recent book Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism. For example,
The book is an epoch-hopping parade of straw men, incompetent reasoning and outright gibberish, as when evolution is argued to share with astrology a commitment to "action at a distance", except that the distance is in time rather than space. It's intellectual quackery like this that gives philosophy of science a bad name.
One friend complains,
Basically we doubt that Stephen Poole, the reviewer, has ever read the book. He has abused his readers. We’ve written to The Guardian to say so.
Why must Brits be surprised about what isn't surprising, and doesn't even need explaining?

Look, any sound idealogue can write a hatchet job on a book, merely on hearing of its existence. And right now, anti-ID rubbish flows through every legacy media hack's word processor. Poole may well have flipped through the book or even scanned every character, but so?

It takes considerable effort to stop the flow and ask a couple of simple questions:

1. Do I think that the universe shows no evidence whatever of intelligent design?

2. Have I ever tested this assumption?

3. Do I think that mind can arise from mud like fairies from toadstools? And, ... oh, wait ! ... ?
If Poole did not in fact make that effort, he does not differ from a large crowd. But let's assume he did. I know of legacy journalists for whom putting their name on a hatchet job would be a mere act of faith, a conventional duty.

A copy of Fuller's book is on its way to me, and I will say no more until I read it.

Except this: The legacy media "story of the century" is that science proves we are robots, selfish genes, or monkeys. Any story that does not fit that template must eventually be either attacked or relegated to the "cute religion" desk, along with the fetching kittens and the fragile rainforest flowers. Cute venomous snakes and weeds, however, remain "science."

I plan to interview Fuller.

Meanwhile, buy the guy's book, on your own, will you, so no one can prove I am responsible for a sudden spike in popularity.

Other Post-Darwinist articles on Steve Fuller:

"British sociologist charges: Hostility to intelligent design is bigotry, not science"

"Giving Darwin a decent burial

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