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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Truism

John Derbyshire drives me nuts sometimes, but yesterday at The Corner he was spot on in calling out that which are in fact logical fallacies of relevance that occur too often in popular debate (ID vs. evolution in this case). It is for this intellectual honesty that I keep reading. Here's the truffle passage:
[Y]ou shouldn't hold an idea responsible for the people who profess it.

Thus, the fact that Woodrow Wilson swooned over Darwin's theory about the origin of species, tells you nothing at all about Darwin's theory, though it probably tells you something about Wilson.

The creationists rely far too much on this "recruiting" of historical figures in their efforts to make Darwinism look bad. As I've said, it cuts both ways. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swoons over Intelligent Design...
and that tells us nothing about Intelligent Design.

A corollary is that you shouldn't hold an idea responsible for other ideas the originator of the idea may have had. The fact that Sir Isaac Newton believed in alchemy and Bible codes casts no shadow on his theory of gravitation (even if Newton THOUGHT it did!)  Likewise, if it is the case (don't ask me) that Darwin favored state-enforced eugenics, that does nothing to invalidate his theory about the origin of species, which could still be perfectly sound.
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