Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lying bastard

Paul Nelson, at asks Can Design Be Scientific? Yes, No, Maybe So...:
Before you dip into the pool –- guess who comes closest to saying, Sure, design could be “scientific,” if the design people would get their act together and make some predictions. Hint: It’s the guy who went to the University of Chicago as an undergraduate. Go Maroons!
That Chicago student would be me. And that's not what I said. What I said was
If creationists could make predictions (not post hoc explanations) about the natural world, that would be impressive. Without specifiying anything about the creator/designer's motives and abilities, you get stuck at the problem of evil before you get to any prediction.

Instead of running that, he made up a paraphrase, which made it sound like I thought ID was scientific. In fact, I was showing that, supernaturalism aside, it's bad science because it cannot make meaningful predictions. In part that's a problem of supernaturalism, as Matt Yglesias points out, and in part it's a consequence of IDolators' unwillingness to specify anything about the creator.

Paul Nelson is dishonest in paraphrasing me, and more dishonest in truncating my quote to omit the point that ID cannot generate a prediction. He turned my critique of ID into weak support of it.

That's why I think Paul Nelson is a dishonest, lying sack of crap. It's dishonest to misrepresent someone's point, and dishonest to inaccurately paraphrase someone to imply the opposite of what they said.

Here's what Eliot Sober says in Philosophy of Biology (my emphasis):
I do not claim that no one will ever be able to formulate an argument that shows which auxiliary assumptions about God are correct. I do not claim to be omniscient. But, to date, I do not think that this issue has been resolved satisfactorily. Perhaps someday creationism will be formulated in such a way that the auxiliary assumptions it adopts are independently supported. My claim is that no creationist has succeeded in doing this yet.

What distinguishes creationism from hypotheses in science is that the auxiliary assumptions it uses are not independently supported.

You can't assume a designer and then proceed as if it existed. That's why creationism (including ID) is not science. And if it isn't science, it can't be taught in science classes.

If you truncated Sober's quote to "Perhaps someday creationism will be formulated in such a way that the auxiliary assumptions it adopts are independently supported," that would be intellectually dishonest. And that's what Nelson did to me.

Words matter. It wouldn't have been hard to accurately describe my position. I think that my critique is more scathing than a simple claim that the supernatural cannot be science; I'm saying that even if the supernatural could be science, ID isn't. That's worse. And twisting my words to say anything else is a sign of a learning disorder (he didn't understand what I wrote) or genuine malice. Or both.

Illiterate fucking son of a bitch.

Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” by Martha Wainwright from the album Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole (3:12).