Sunday, November 02, 2008

Blowhard of the Month: Wayne Eyre

There is no subject like evolution to bring out the blowhards, and Wayne Eyre is just the latest. Writing in the National Post, Eyre praises David Berlinski's latest screed, The Devil's Delusion.

Berlinski, as you probably know, is the poseur who somehow managed to get his anti-evolutionary blather published in venues such as Commentary. He was also recenty caught inventing bogus claims about John von Neumann's attitude towards evolution. A reliable source? I don't think so.

Nevertheless, Blowhard of the Month Eyre accepts Berlinski's claims about evolution at face value. If Berlinski says that the theory of evolution "makes little sense", Eyre believes it must be so. Somehow, Berlinski -- a man with no biological training -- knows more than actual biologists. Differential reproductive success coupled with a mechanism for genotypic/phenotypic change means evolution is inevitable. Any beginning biology student understands this. What about it is so difficult for Eyre?

If Berlinski says the theory of evolution "is supported by little evidence", it must be so. Never mind the painstaking case assembled by Darwin that convinced biologists a hundred years ago. Never mind the mounds and mounds of evidence assembled since then -- if Eyre has ever cracked open a biology textbook or Endler's Natural Selection in the Wild, I would be amazed. No: philosophy Ph. D. David Berlinski has said it, and so it must be true.

Eyre even resorts to the favorite ploy of the blowhard: if all the experts say I am wrong, that is proof I am right.

The fact that the National Post would publish this idea-free dreck is yet more proof that intellectual conservatism is dead.


ADHR said...

Philosophers like this are just embarrassing. Thankfully, folks like Dennett, Ruse and the Churchlands (amongst many others) take biology seriously. There are legitimate philosophical worries about evolutionary theory, but I can't fathom what philosophical argument would unseat specifically what biologists have to say about the fact of evolution.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that, at one time, Dr. Berlinski fraudulently claimed a PhD in mathematics.

However, the biggest laugh one can get out of Dr. Berlinskis' mouthings is his claim that evolution makes no sense. If "making sense" is the sine qua non of a scientific theory, then quantum mechanics is the worst such theory ever proposed in the history of science. Quantum mechanics makes no sense whatsoever. Just a few quotes from real physicists.

Richard Feynman - If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don't understand quantum mechanics.

Steven Weinberg - Quantum mechanics is a totally preposterous theory which, unfortunately, appears to be correct.

Lawrence Krauss - Nobody understands quantum mechanics.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

So there is another Dembski around? And one with a -ski suffix too? Interesting! Thanks for pointing this out. I can't stand these pseudo-mathematicians who use their "qualifications" to "prove" that intelligence-design-creationism works. But the thing to notice is that their audience consists, mainly (with exceptions), of people with no mathematics background, often religious, who are ready to accept the word from the "learned" ones.