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Friday, September 25, 2009

David Berlinski: So that inconvenient math guy who lives in the oldest building in France is back?

Yes, apparently, David Berlinski is back: A mathematician determined to be honest enough to kill Darwinism, he says,
David Berlinski on the Darwinian Guild

An interview from Evolution News and Views:

ENV: Darwinism is fiercely guarded by a scientific guild. What does the guild have at stake in this? Prestige? Money? To some observers, the defense seems impermeable. Do you see cracks in the fortress wall opening up?

DB: Fiercely guarded, but not, mind you, effectively guarded. If the Darwinian Guild, to adapt your phrase (since science has nothing to do with it), was interested in rational self promotion, the Guild would have never allowed its members to display in public their characteristic attitude of invincible arrogance and sheep-like stupidity. Just listen to them as they limber up in the insult room: Dumbski, Little Mikey Behe, Stevie Meyer (a regression to school yard taunts irresistible at both the Panda’s Thumb and Talk Reason), the creationist playbook, creationist pablum, creationism in a cheap tuxedo, tired creationist canards, creationist cranks, ID'iots, creotards, creos, sky fairies, liars for Jesus. I've even seen Disco'Tute, this the invention of an elderly fellow at the Panda's Thumb who, like Polonius, imagines that he is the soul of wit. One lunatic named Quick or Quack — or is that simply the sound of his posts? — has become fond of the phrase mendacious intellectual pornography and has so overused it that his fellow bloggers have taken to attacking him. When they do, Quick as a Quack responds that they are guilty of mendacious intellectual pornography. The gabble is as unedifying as it is unending.

What is wonderful, I think, is the way in which membership in the Guild so runs to type, P.Z. Myers, to take the loudest case, reveling in his role as the hearty American rustic, a man prepared as circumstances demand either to desecrate the Catholic wafer or at dinner to immerse his feet in a platter of boeuf bourguignon. If in public he now refrains from withdrawing long spools of lint from his navel and examining them studiously that is because Richard Dawkins has advised him that at Oxford, it is no longer done.

When it is late at night and my old war wounds ache, I very much enjoy chasing down discussions on the Panda’s Thumb in which members of the Guild begin to abuse one another, their indignation discharging itself in a series of menopausal hot flashes, the discussion skipping from disagreement to disgruntlement to peevishness and finally to insult, until at last someone stands accused of being a lying scum for Jesus.

I offer nothing as invention. I have made nothing up.

What I find most remarkable about the Darwinian Guild is what is least remarked. There is not a single first rate intelligence in the bunch.
Hey, I never got the sense there was a first rate intelligence in the Darwin bunch either, though the idea was often promoted to me by people who need to believe it.

I know when someone is smarter than me. I am glad that people smarter than me are starting to say in clear terms: Darwinism is a bankrupt idea.

My own suspicion is that people fronting it are merely tax burdens.

If so, the big problem is practical: They need to front their failed theory into retirement. Fine, as long as we don't make it a "civilization" cause. After them, we can start dealing with the reality.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Today at Colliding Universes

Unmissable Ivy League lectures (maybe)

Lynn Margulis challenges neo-Darwinists and teaches somewhere now - but she has
interesting ideas

Mars: The endless kvetch about life on Mars

My favourite science fiction author, Rob Sawyer, writes to say ...

Cosmology: Science's leader in things that don't make sense?

New podcasts on fine tuning of the universe

Colliding Universes is my blog on competing theories about our universe. You can search it via the Search Blog box at the top left, beside the "B" logo. You can also contribute to my PayPal button.

(Note: If you follow me at Twitter, you will get regular notice of new Colliding Universes posts, usually when I have posted five or so stories. )

Unmissable Ivy League lectures

Here are 100 Ivy League lectures I am told you shouldn't miss. Some of the science and medicine ones (#15-30) do look quite interesting. Anyway, whatever they provide is free.

Okay, okay, some may be missable. That is not my fault.

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Inquisitor is now himself inquisitioned

No, I don't know if "inquisitioned" is an allowable word. The story is so weird, I just have to use this "word".

It turns out that a serial complainant to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is himself being investigated by the Commission for "hate speech."

If this isn't nuts, we don't know nuts from popcorn.

Obviously, the CHRC has long been totally out of control and needs a firm hand to bring it into line with Canadian public policy. Ezra Levant recommends a judicial investigation, and I think that wise. Especially because so few targeted defendants could afford legal representation.

Right now, there is a difference of opinion among free speech journalists about whether the CHRC should just be shut down or turned to other uses. I tend, somewhat hesitantly, to side with the latter view.

My reasoning is that it is difficult, in this country, to actually shut down a government enterprise.

Especially when there is the risk of activating a horde of yelping ninnies from fashionable neighbourhoods, concerned that their own human rights are at risk.

As if.

The sort of women who would dress their toddlers in adorable little tees, blazoned "I [heart] my human rights". But if you interviewed them, you would quickly find out that they have no idea what has happened, do not care, and will not read relevant books - on principle. You see, unlike me, they know what happened, because some local witch has told them what to think.

They certainly haven't supported friends through any of it; that wouldn't even be possible. For one thing, it would never have occurred to any of them to confess to an idea that is not thoroughly approved by the People Who Count, and they would quickly abandon anyone who was targeted.

Okay, to forestall that ninny stampede, I recommend that we direct the human rights commissions (all of them - there are fourteen) to start dealing with issues like female genital mutilation, child marriage, any instance of extra-legal punishment for offences by amputation or flogging, and possible virtual slavery of illegal immigrants. Doubtless, there are other issues to consider as well. Forced suicides come to mind as a possibility.

Will this help? Maybe. I bet virtually all the current staff will quit if we insist that they do something useful instead of pretending to be Nazis in order to bug losers. Then maybe we can replace them with people prepared to deal with true human rights issues in Canada. But if not, we can fold the HRCs into another department that does something useful, and so it just quietly dies.

It's not a question of what needs to be done. That's glaringly obvious. It's a question of how we do it.

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