Sunday, November 15, 2009

Phony Calls for "Civility"

You know a call for "more civility" is completely phony when the person who issues it only cites examples from one side of the debate.

That's the case with this recent opinion piece by Casey Luskin, spokesman for the Discovery Institute.

Luskin lists three examples of incivility, and all of them are from the pro-science, anti-creationist side. He fails to cite a single example of incivility from a creationist, even though there are many examples to choose from. As Wesley Elsberry has documented, Luskin's friends routinely compare evolutionary biologists to Nazis, communists, the Taliban, and Satan. Luskin himself has labeled materialists an "ominous force" that will "consume" people. William Dembski proudly sponsored an animation that used fart noises to make fun of Judge Jones, who decided the Kitzmiller v. Dover case.

No one is going to be fooled by this dishonest posturing.

16 comments:

Saur♥Kraut said...

I recently read your post from 2006, debunking crystal healing. I quoted it extensively in my most recent post (in which I go further in my examination) and I wanted to let you know about it. Thank you!

Jeff Orchard said...

I sometimes listen to the "ID the Future" podcast, and Casey sounds like a skateboarding teenager. I just love the way they pat each other on the back in the absence of any critical-thinking.

Amy Howard said...

To be honest, this has nothing to do with this blog. I've simply misplaced your email address. Feel free to reject this comment on those grounds alone lol.

I'd love to see your opinion on this: http://the-classic-liberal.com/atheist-defense-christianity/

If you don't wish to read/argue/review that link, you will not offend me. I found it interesting, thought you might, and was interested in your opinion (I enjoy reading your blog, even when I do not agree with your viewpoint). I won't be upset in any way if you are not interested!

Thanks, and hope you and yours are doing well! :)

Frank said...

Getting to the substance of Luskin's article, do you think we should eschew the word evolution "deniers" and use "skeptics" or "critics" instead?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Frank:

First, I don't think that's the essence of Luskin's article. The essence is the phony one-sided call for civility.

Second, I think the term "evolution denier" is completely appropriate. The analogies between Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers are obvious to anyone who has studied the movements.

Both groups are obviously motivated by beliefs unrelated to the area of interest. Both groups accuse the truth-tellers of lying, while consistently lying themselves. Both groups set up phony institutes with dubious experts to try to get academic respectability. Both groups claim they are just interested in having a public debate. Both claim their point of view is being suppressed by dogmatic experts on the other side. Both set up dubious journals to publish dubious "research".

Jeff Orchard said...

I agree... typical dogma-based approach, conspiracy theory and all. And I would NEVER use the word skeptic to describe ID proponents, since skepticism is an evidence-based philosophy... ALL the evidence.

Frank said...

If an /evolutionist/ calls for civility in these debates (and I can name one who has), how would you respond to that?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Frank:

I like civility, but it's not a rule - sometimes incivility is called for, and it works. My issue is not civility, but rather the phony call for civility by Luskin.

If people lie and behave rudely, as the creationists often do, I see no reason to be civil to them in reply.

Frank said...

Overall, which side acts more rudely?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Frank, do you really have to ask?

Frank said...

Is that a trick question?

The items you listed for Holocaust denier and evolution _____s are indeed interesting. However, I think there's a difference that outweighs them all. And that is Holocaust deniers are driven by hate, and creationists are driven by a love for their religion and/or ignorance of the field of evolution.

Dawkins would've done so much better using the analogy of moon-landing deniers.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Amy - if you just google my name you will easily find my e-mail address.

I agree that totalitarianism is a great enemy of freedom, but churches and religions can be just as totalitarians as states.

Also, the argument that Christianity has resulted in the deaths of only a few thousands is absurd. The writer does not consider the Christian roots of anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust andthe role of Catholic teaching in promoting the spread of AIDS, just to give two examples.

Alex said...

"And that is Holocaust deniers are driven by hate, and creationists are driven by a love for their religion and/or ignorance of the field of evolution."

You could just as easily argue that creationists are driven by hate and fear, while Holocaust deniers are driven by love for their religion and/or ignorance of history. Either argument would be equally silly. Moreover it's entirely irrelevant; I care a lot more about results than intentions. "The path to hell", and all that.

Frank said...

Alex wrote: "You could just as easily argue"

If I were on quaaludes, I could.

Alex said...

"Quaaludes" are a relaxant/sedative. They are also commonly used to heighten sensitivity during sex.

Now, while I agree that theists do tend to be rather wound up (and that they could probably benefit from anything which would spice up their sex-life), I fail to see what this has to do with your inability to present a logical argument.

Frank said...

My logical argument is this:

"You could just as easily argue that creationists are driven by hate and fear, while Holocaust deniers are driven by love for their religion and/or ignorance of history" --

is totally ridiculous.