Wednesday, August 22, 2007

David Warren: Blowhard of the Month, Again

David Warren, who I previously celebrated as Blowhard of the Month back in January 2006, is at it again.

Take a look at this recent column, which believe it or not, was actually published in the Ottawa Citizen.

From the very first line, Warren demonstrates ignorance (or dishonesty). He calls Paul Feyerabend a "scientist", when in fact, Feyerabend was a philosopher.

He then celebrates Freeman Dyson, a once-respectable mathematician and physicist who has become slightly, uh, eccentric in his dotage. (Dyson even wrote a friendly foreword to Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer's credulous Extraordinary Knowing.) Why does Warren like Dyson? I doubt Warren could coherently explain even one of Dyson's contributions. No, what Warren likes about Dyson is that Dyson is a global warming skeptic. Of course Dyson's opinion about global warming is about as valid as mine, considering that Dyson has no training in climatology and has not published any papers on the subject.

Later, Warren refers to "Darwinist cosmology". Considering that Darwin was a biologist, not a physicist or a cosmologist, I can only wonder what Warren thinks he is talking about.

Finally, in Warren's crowning moment, he completely misrepresents Michael Behe's testimony in the Dover case, claiming that "Behe demurred" when attorney Eric Rothschild said, "So you believe astrology is valid science." Of course, this is false, as a glance at the testimony will show. Rothschild never said what Warren claims. Here's the crucial exchange:

Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other -- many other theories as well.

Warren finishes by saying

How I wish the high priests of Darwinism could restrain themselves in similar ways. They can’t, because Darwinism is a religion, and moreover, a false religion, in fear of free inquiry.

Why is it that theists, when they want to insult science, they call it a religion?


Harriet said...

Why is it that theists, when they want to insult science, they call it a religion?

I think it is a knee jerk reaction from the days when some of them wanted creationism given equal time in public schools; if you call "Darwinism" a religion, then you can't ban its teaching, and you would have the same restrictions on public figures (e. g., scientists)who have government jobs bringing it up.

I wonder if they consider the medicines and vaccines that were developed using Darwinist based sciences to be the offspring of religion? :-)

Harriet said...

ooops, I meant to say "if Darwinism is a religion, then you CAN ban it's teaching..."


Eamon Knight said...

....believe it or not, was actually published in the Ottawa Citizen.

And why should anyone find that hard to believe? The Citizen has been a rag for years.

Anonymous said...

....believe it or not, was actually published in the Ottawa Citizen.

Newspapers like controversy. They might easily publish a column or letter because it stirs things up rather than because they agree with it.

andrew said...

To defend the Citizen (Vatican PR folks like Warren and Sibley excluded) they do publish Dan Gardner whose piece on atheism is #6 on the "Top 100 All-Time Favorite Articles" at

Anonymous said...

David Warren serves one purpose on this planet: to blow hard. On his own website he proudly announces that he dropped out of school in the tenth grade. (This probably wasn't much of a loss, as he was going to a religious school for expatriates in Pakistan in the 1960s - probably the only thing he drew from such an education was exposure to English-language books that dated back to the apogee of the Raj). He spent his next decade hanging out in the UK, doing nothing in particular (which he describes as "self-directed studies" of ancient Greek texts, though he didn't learn any Greek...). Family money came into the picture at some point, allowing him to start a magazine, The Idler, that reflected his aesthetic tastes and, less fortunately, gave him a podium from which to bark his mad Thatcherite political views. Thankfully the money ran out after a few years. Since then he's just playing the role of "grumpy old conservative iconoclast". His small band of devoted readers seem to be mainly poorly educated ideologues who are suckered in by his professorial "man of letters" affectations. Ultimately he's just a sad little man - I imagine him typing in his sordid little grief hole, half-empty bottle of whiskey at his side, fretting endlessly over which slightly archaic word he should choose.