Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Ground, Part 1

Memorial of Ss. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and companions

At least that's the position in which Scott Carson at An Examined Life, generally a quality blog, sees me with my contributions to the ID debate at CAEI. This puts me in a precarious position because I am unable to see, and therefore unable to avoid, the dogs and cats falling from the sky that I have unleashed with some terrible logical error.

Mr. Carson has taken exception to my comments about ID in three areas: 1.) What he takes as my dismissal of the arguments of ID’s opponents, 2.) My perceived failure in defining a criterion for what science is, and 3.) My alleged failure to recognize that what sets ID apart from genuine science is that like effects do not necessarily entail like causes.

This post addresses item 1. Here is the post for item 2. Here is the post for item 3.

He begins with a nice rant:

The ID controversy seems unwilling to go away. The Troglodyte, Scott Warmke [sic], has this to say on the matter, and although I ordinarily find his blog very good, this is a case where he really falls on his face. One of my favorite lines in there is this one:

Curiously, or perhaps not, all three groups gravitate to the same stock phrases, albethey [sic] for different reasons. "ID is not science!" "ID is creationism!" "ID is not testable!" "ID teaches religion in the classroom!" yada yada yada.

You've especially got to love the "yada yada yada" comment. You just can't argue with logic like that! I'm reminded of a line from Plato's Republic, where Socrates has been asked to say what he thinks justice is, but his interlocutor, Thrasymachus, has told him that he may not say that it is "what's beneficial" or "what's necessary" or "what's profitable" or any of the other popular definitions floating about. As it happens, Socrates doesn't happen to think that justice is any of the things that Thrasymachus has mentioned, but the constraint put upon him prompts him to say

Clever of you, Thrasymachus. Clever enough to know what would happen if you were to ask someone what twelve was, but then give him a warning before he answered: "Now look here, don't go telling us that twelve is twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or four times three. I'm not going to take any nonsense of that sort from you."

First, saying that The Troglodyte is usually very good is nice. I appreciate it. And Thrasymachus! Ha! I love it, I’ve always fancied myself an ancient.

"I'm not going to take any nonsense of that sort from you" here = "yada yada yada."
Well, no. I am inclined to dismiss all this as the result of a careless reading. Yes, he did catch a grammatical error (one gold star), but he does misspell my name several times (three demerits), although it is a counterintuitive truth that phonetically spelled surnames are a challenge in a multicultural world. He is also incorrect if he thinks my commenting on the reliance of stock phrases by opponents of ID says anything about ID, much less tries to argue in its favor. I describe three groups whose offerings are not reasoned arguments, but hair-free exclamations. Note that I have never asserted the three groups cover all opponents of ID. Maybe I should have used ALL CAPS to convey better the hysteria with which those phrases are often shoved in the face of anyone even willing to listen to what an ID proponent may have to say.

Anyway, “yada yada yada” = “Don’t bother me if you’re not going to bring an argument”

Note again that Mr. Carson is one of the few who actually brings an argument, but having missed the point, apparently thinks I would include him in one of the groups.

Also, he wrongly assumes I have a “favored candidate” between neo-Darwinism and ID. I have no dog in this fight. I am making a modest claim that there is legitimate science to separate from the ID movement, and that the truth of the state of maturity of that science can be used to make rational education policy, which, in my opinion, requires excluding it from a standard science curriculum. For a take from someone who understands my argument, check-out Holy Fool.

To be continued...

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