Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dilbert-boy Does It Again.

I'm sorry. I just had to have another go at Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame. He's just making more of an ass out of himself. Indented portions below are his, in case you didn't already know.

Intelligent Design Part 2

You should of just left it alone, Scott.

Oh man, oh man. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed stirring up $#!T until I wrote about evolution and Intelligent Design. Many of your comments are fascinating, but the good stuff came in direct e-mails to me. I think my inbox actually burst into flames a few times.
So you freely admit that you’re just doing this to stir up $#!T? I thought you wanted “credible” people to enter into a debate that would inform the public. Instead, I find out that you’re just muckraking. Classy.

As you might recall, my earlier post on this topic made the following point:
Both sides misrepresent the others’ position (either intentionally or because they don’t know better or because of bias) and then attack the misrepresentation. Therefore, neither side is credible (to me).
And I said earlier, the big name scientists in the evolution-related fields don’t engage in straw-man arguments. Read Dawkins, for goodness sake!

I was waiting to see how many people fell into the irony trap and misrepresented my blog entry and then attacked it. The best and funniest case of this can be found on an entire web page dedicated to just that:
It would be kind of hard to misrepresent your blog, Scott. The parts that aren’t incomprehensible are pretty obviously wrong.

This blogger, who calls himself PZ, is evidently a highly educated scientist, extremely informed on the topic of evolution, and quite passionate. But for reasons that fascinate the trained hypnotist in me, that brilliance doesn’t extend to comprehending The Dilbert Blog.
Dr. PZ Myer IS a highly educated scientists, extremely informed on the topic of evolution, not to mention ID, and it quite passionately against the idiocy that is Intelligent Design. If you had spent more than a few minutes poking around his site, you’d realize how well he understands Behe and company. As to “comprehending The Dilbert Blog”, well, I think we all comprehend the first part of THIS entry, so see my comment above about muckraking.

(The curious reader might want to Google cognitive dissonance to understand how something like that can happen.)
The Wikipedia has this, among other things, to say about cognitive dissonance:

In brief, the theory of cognitive dissonance holds that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the human mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to minimize the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions.

How does cognitive dissonance have anything to do with PZ supposedly not comprehending your blog? Admit it, you’re just throwing big words around, trying to sound smart, right?

That makes him the poster child for my point that the average person (me) has no credible source of information on the topic of evolution.
Again, I say, pick up a book. Not getting your blog doesn’t make him not credible. It means YOU failed to connect with HIM. The onus is on the artist, not the viewer, to make his or her statement clearly. That’s Art Appreciation 101, isn’t it?

Let me say very clearly here that I’m not denying the EXISTENCE of slam-dunk credible evidence for evolution. What I’m denying is the existence of credible PEOPLE to inform me of this evidence.
How could you deny the existence of credible evidence for evolution? You’ve never looked into it yourself enough to know one way or the other. If you had, you’d realize that there are literally thousands of scientists willing to explain evolution to you in words small enough for you to understand. And most of them don’t give a flying fig about ID. The bulk of them haven’t given it a moment’s though. Why not? Because it’s not science, and they are scientists. That seems pretty simple to me.

Oh, and by the way, what’s your definition of credible? Dictionary.com has this definition:
1. Capable of being believed; plausible. See Synonyms at plausible.
2. Worthy of confidence; reliable.

What about PZ, or any scientist who disagrees with ID, makes them not believable? And don’t trot out the straw-man argument thing. PZ doesn’t misrepresent the Intelligent Design movement. Behe and company are dumb enough to make themselves look like idiots without any help from the scientific community at large.
The people who purport to have evidence of evolution do a spectacular job of making themselves non-credible. And since I don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types. To me, it’s like hiring a serial cannibal as a babysitter based on the fact that he PROMISES not to eat your kids despite having eaten all the other kids on the block. It might be a fact that he’s telling the truth. The problem is that he’s not credible. (The other problem is that he eats your kids.)

If you don’t have any relevant scientific knowledge yourself, then how are you able to determine someone’s scientific credibility? It seems to me that you’re complaining because evolution isn’t transparent enough. That you can’t lay your hands on 150 years of evidence and thought. That you don’t understand evolution, and that’s the fault of the scientists who study it. You don’t hire a serial cannibal to be your babysitter, because he’s a serial cannibal. Period. You don’t call ID a scientific theory, because it’s not one. Period.

When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me. Both sides in the evolution debate do that with gusto. Why would I believe people who prove to me they are either dishonest or biased or worse?
Please give me one example of an otherwise credible scientist setting up a straw-man argument against ID. Please.

PZ’s misrepresentations of my views are incredibly clever. (He’s a smart guy.) And he uses quotes from my writing to make it seem impossible that he’s misinterpreting me. Here are just a few examples.
I said it’s POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd mentality. PZ interprets that as if I’m saying scientists DO. Then he attacks the misrepresentation. (How much credibility can you have if you argue it’s not POSSIBLE for scientists to have herd instinct on this issue?)
No, you didn’t say it was possible for scientists to have herd mentality. You said, “In other words, the scientists are in a weird peer pressure, herd mentality loop where they think that the other guy must have the “good stuff.”

I know you’re only a simple cartoonist, but the words “scientists are in” are different from the words “scientists may be in”. Stop misquoting yourself. Or at least edit your first entry so that it doesn’t say that anymore. Oh, wait, that wouldn’t be very credible, now would it?

I said I DON’T believe in Intelligent Design and PZ attacks me because I "blindly accepted the claims of the Designists." Then he attacks Intelligent Design as if it were my view.
Of course you’re accepting the claims of the designists. They’re the only ones complaining about the stuff you’re complaining about. You bought into the whole “bones in a box” thing, dude. What the heck did you expect any of us to say?

PZ declares that no one has EVER argued against the young earth argument to refute ID, except for uninformed people. My very POINT was that that argument comes from uninformed people, by definition. And I’ve heard it three times in the past month. If he’s wrong about this, and completely certain of his rightness, how can I trust his certainty on any other topic even when he IS right?
I can’t access Pharyngula at the moment, since it’s inexplicably down, but I don’t seem to remember it being said quite that way. All I can say to this is that scientists don’t refute ID because of the young earth argument all that often. They refute young earth creationists on the young earth argument quite often. And since you yourself claim that ID and creationism are different, then this argument goes out the window, now, doesn’t it?

I said that Intelligent Design proponents allege that experts in various science fields are not convinced that their own field supports Darwin’s version of evolution. PZ turns that into MY opinion (not the Intelligent Design people’s allegation as I clearly state) and then refutes it.
What does it matter if it’s your opinion or one that the ID crowd allege? It’s still wrong.

I mention, unwisely and without the benefit of actual knowledge, that all of the human-like fossils ever found can fit into a small box.
This kind of sums up your entire article, doesn’t it? Unwise and without the benefit of actual knowledge.

PZ cleverly misinterprets my point as if I was referring to all of the INDIVIDUAL human-like fossils ever found, which of course would be thousands. Then he attacks that misinterpretation. I didn’t make my point this clearly in the blog, but it should be obvious to anyone that I meant the RELEVANT fossils. If you find 50 Homo Erectus skeletons, it’s still only one relevant one as far as demonstrating human evolution. The others are somewhat extra from an argument standpoint. PZ mentions four “bunches” of relevant ones that have been found. Call it an even dozen. Unless they have extra large heads, I could put all 12 of them in a small box. I might have to crush them first, but that could be fun too.
One, why should it be obvious? If you write unclearly, own up to it. Don’t put the onus on the “silly, non-credible reader”. If you’re a mush-mouth, it’s not the listener’s fault that he doesn’t understand you. It’s yours for being a mumbler.

Two, argument that INDIVIDUAL bones aren’t RELEVANT just shows how little you know about this field. Period. Again, pick up a book. The Ancestor’s Tale by Dawkins is really entertaining.

Well, I could go on. But my point is that every argument I have heard in favor of Darwin’s version of evolution or in favor of Intelligent Design all come from people who have the same credibility problem wonderfully demonstrated by PZ.
You obviously haven’t put much effort into this, then. Go ask a decent high school biology teacher. Maybe they can explain it to you simply enough.

For the record, if you put a gun to my head and make me choose, I’ll pick Darwin’s version over Intelligent Design, although I am rooting for the alien seedling theory most of all. But I can’t base my opinion on credible evidence or on credible people. I just don’t have access to either. To me, the lack of credible PEOPLE is the most fascinating aspect of this debate.
All jokes aside (alien seedlings indeed), you’re right about not being able to base your opinion on credible evidence or on credible people, because you haven’t put much effort into finding any. There is plenty of access. You just haven’t looked for it. As to the lack of credible PEOPLE, well, I think you’re wrong, obviously. There are plenty of credible people who work their entire lives to explain little bits of evolutionary theory. They don’t care about ID.

Now here’s the fun part. When PZ hears of this blog entry, will he accuse me of misrepresenting his views and attacking the misrepresentation? I hope so, because then I can pretty much rest my case.
I guess your case can’t rest, since he just sums up what you say. Quite concisely, too.

You should be ashamed of yourself. You are a public figure, actively engaged in muckraking, over an issue that is of vital importance. If you really do think that evolutionary theory is accurate, why not use your powers for good instead and weigh on the side of the scientists, instead of attacking them?


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