Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Review of Le Fanu's "Why Us?"

Here's my review of the atrociously bad book, Why Us?, by James Le Fanu. It appeared in Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 31 (6) (2011).


D. Swart said...

More examples of bipedal animals:

Birds of all kinds especially the flightless ones; Theropods like the T.Rex.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Great review - thank-you for posting. Will tweet.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

"The thesis of Why us? is simple: science has no answers to the questions that really matter - questions like: ... How does an immaterial mind affect the material body? ..."

I guess he has a point. Science has no answer to that one, other than to say that he's asking the wrong question.

cody said...

I really liked the second example, with the reference to Hubbard. Examples 3, 4 (no other species dares try balance on two legs, why even I myself sometimes struggle to master it!), and 6 (succinct!).

I also love the spin of "I don't get it" as "impenetrable obscurity".

And I didn't know you testified in the Dover case, that's pretty neat.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I didn't testify - I was asked to testify. I was deposed, but since Dembski dropped out on the opposing side, my testimony in court was not needed.

cody said...

I'd like to think my inference was mistaken!
...But I suspect I should read more carefully.
I wonder if there is a difference.

Garkbit said...

You must have been sorely tempted to cut that review down to just its last two words. That would have been _so_ cool.

Miranda said...

Jeffrey, I finally got around to reading your review of le Fanu's book.
But after seeing you twisted his words in your very first paragraph, I didn't want to read any further.

You wrote:
"In 2000, James Le Fanu, a British physician and newspaper columnist, wrote a book entitled
The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, which, among other things, attacked the
claim that many diseases have a genetic basis. He wrote, “... genetics is not a particularly
significant factor in human disease. This is scarcely surprising, as man would not be as
successful a species as he is (many would argue too successful), were it not that natural
selection had over millions of years weeded out the unfit”... In 2000,
then, it seemed—despite the faulty rationale for denying a genetic role in disease—that Le
Fanu accepted evolution and natural selection."

Let's see what Le Fanu wrote: "genetics is not a particularly significant factor in human disease." What is this saying? It's saying that it is a factor, just not a particularly significant one. You then paraphrase him, just fine, saying that he "attacked the claim that many diseases have a genetic basis." But then what do you say? How do you twist his words? You say he "den(ied) a genetic role in disease." Really now, is that what he said?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Really now, is that what he said?

Yes, it is. Read the book; then we'll talk. Otherwise, you're just a bore, as usual.

Miranda said...

Saying "genetics is not a particularly significant factor in human disease" (i.e. it plays a limited role) contradicts "he denies a genetic role in disease." Until you recognize that, there's no need to look at his book.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Sorry, Miranda, I keep forgetting English is not your native language. I'm not in the position to help, but good tutors are probably available in your area.

Anonymous said...

So glad to see this blog. I got to page 50 of this supposedly wonderful book, and had found so many factual errors, twisted arguments and creationist copycat views that I put it down in disgust. There may be a lot we don't understand, but this is not the way to find any answers.