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Monday, September 11, 2006

Eccentric social history: When dull conformists think they are cool

This editorial from the Akron Beacon-Journal - against allowing any student to know that Darwinism could be questioned on factual grounds - is an interesting bit of social history because it is complete boilerplate, beginning to end.

You can deduce a large proportion of the pieties of middle-class Americans (courts are right, professional bodies are right, organizations of "concerned scientists" are to be trusted ... well, even when they are not right or trustworthy, they are actually right and trustworthy because it is NEVER right to allow oneself to be disturbed by thinking that they might be wrong or untrustworthy .... )

An intriguing fact about the times we live in is that, in my experience, the people who write sludge of this type often think of themselves as persons of daring, novel, intriguing, dangerous, or important ideas ...

Did you know that there was a time - and I am old enough to remember the tail end of it - when people who had no novel ideas prided themselves on being good conformists - which was a fair assumption. That is to say, they prided themselves on a quality they really had.

Today, such people pride themselves on being good non-conformists for gurgling and regurgitating the treacle administered to them by an establishment.

The resulting language deficit hampers people who actually do have genuinely new or different ideas. Because everyone who thinks the establishment is right, also thinks he is innovative, the people who really do innovate don't know what language to use to explain that they think the establishment could actually be wrong.

I was corresponding with a person who genuinely has interesting, new ideas in the history of life area, but he admitted to me that he had difficulty writing in the present climate.

The trouble is, everything old is new again, and everything new is old again. Only new ideas that are already old can be accepted.

I replied,

That is the real effect of political correctness and prescribed views. Sometimes they tell you to bark along with the pack, but other times they merely surround you with the din created by the barking pack.

Such an environment withers independent thinking. Barking along with the pack comes to seem so natural - until you stop and realize that you are in fact barking, not speaking.

Well, he’ll manage. Oh, he’d better. Otherwise, you will all be hearing that dull sludge link, clink, and clank for decades.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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