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  Topic: Smart people, dumb ideas..., Why do those dumb ideas appeal to some?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 01 2006,23:26   

This isn't a "gosh those people are smart therefore they must be right" leading question. It's more of a "gosh these people are smart how can they be so dumb about this, and how can such obviously flawed ideas hold so much power over them?" question.

Behe is a biochemistry academic at a reasonable university, Dembski has several degrees and a couple of PhDs (not easy things to get I can tell you) and there are many well educated, successful, well credentialed people who are IDC advocates. At least in my field of organic chemistry academics are pretty intelligent! I've worked with and met biochemists and they all seem to be pretty clued up, and I can barely understand the mathematicians I've met! SO...

How does obvious and errant nonsense like IDC fool smart folks like this?

Them simply wanting something to be the case doesn't cut it in my book. There must be a more profound explanation why these people eschew the evidence and reason (the bread and butter of the subjects they qualified in) that refutes these ideas so effectively.


Think psychology! I'd be particularly (but by no means exclusively) interested in responses from former IDCists/creationists or current believers. I'd also be interested in the opposite persepctive as it were, from the life long IDC/YEC etc debunker.

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Faid



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,02:01   

Lemme take a wild guess here...


...Money?

...Political agendas?

... A shot at fame?

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A look into DAVE HAWKINS' sense of honesty:

"The truth is that ALL mutations REDUCE information"

"...mutations can add information to a genome.  And remember, I have never said that this is not possible."

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,03:12   

I don't think so. You people are assuming religious faith is science, in the sense that it is a rational conclusion based on observation and test. It is none of this. It is neural pathways generally hardwired by childhood indoctrination and 'set up' by the time the child is old enough to defend itself. Genuine belief in magic sky daddies is almost surely not possible to acquire (though of course feigning such belief for fame or money is possible) beyond some age. After that age, it is not possible to discard entirely.

Neither education nor intelligence can cure a delusion of this nature; what they CAN do is provide ever-more-sophisticated rationalizations in support of the delusion. Scientific knowledge is qualitatively completely different from religious knowledge. Genuine religious knowledge (faith) is simply not subject to doubt, evidence, or reason.

Think of it as being like wetting the bed in your sleep. Beyond a certain age, you simply can NOT wet the bed in your sleep, and no depth of understanding of any medical necessity to do so is going to change this. What's needed is a physical, organic change. Religious faith is an induced brain malfunction. Think of cultures who bind their necks, feet, heads, or whatever from birth. These changes soon become irreversible. People are astoundingly malleable as infants.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,03:58   

I can't remember a time when I was ever a "creationist", in any Phil Johnson, let alone Ken Ham, sense of the word. But I was raised in the (Episcopal) church, and up until the time I was 14 or so, I guess,  it no more occurred to me that the church could be really wrong about something than that the moon was made of green cheese. I just found myself more and more having to say, "in some sense" this or that impossible thing must be true. Between the ever greater mental double-jointedness this took, and the increasingly obvious fact that devotion to this system did not make its devotees particularly admirable people, I reached a point where the obvious answer to the question "what's the point?" was "there is none". So I extracted what I decided was the key principle from all the world's religions: "Don't be an @$$#ole", and decided all the rest of it, and how believers choose to reconcile reality with it, need not be my concern.

I can imagine, though, if that sense that the church just had to be right were more absolute, I might have continued to find ways where this or that impossibility must be true in some sense.  That's my not-entirely-dictionary definition of Fundamentalism, and it's what I feel almost certainly underlies much of ID.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,04:47   

By the way, if you haven't already, you might want to look at Michael Shermers book: "Why People Believe Weird Things"

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,05:00   

Flint,

Not too much to disagree with there from my perspective, I'd question the age limit idea simply because of adult conversions, but I wasn't really asking about "belief in sky daddies" per se, although I would agree this a component of the phenomenon.

What I was trying to get at was the cognitive dissonance with respect to the "scientific" {cough cough} aspects of IDC. I understand how and why people have faith in a god/some gods/Bob the Builder etc. What I don't get is how the ideas contained in ID which are supposed to be science, are promoted as science, and ostensibly fool certain people into thinking they are science fail to pass through the "science circuits" of the IDCist brain.

The double jointedness that Russell referred to is a great example. Idea X passes through the IDCist brain and is accepted rationally on the basis of evidence. Idea Y passes into the IDCist brain, stops, is examined for "philosophical naturalist assumptions" {cough splutter} and is discarded despite the evidence. Rational one minute, bonkers the next! It's this process and experience I am trying to understand. How does it feel? Why do it?

Louis

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BWE



Posts: 1898
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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,05:48   

I think it's the money for Dembski. He throws too many insults to be sincere.

Behe is a different story. He testified. I assume that the "ever more sophisticated rationalizations" theory is probably correct. I wonder at what point you reach the answer that Russell did where the answer is "there is no point."?

What is the final realization, the point of enlightenment where you realize that it's a bunch of crap fabricated from whole cloth? What individual piece of information pushes the highly sophisticated rationonalizer over the edge to the place where they can no longer rationalize?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,07:01   

I woman used to work in my lab who was a creationist due to her religious beliefs. She absolutely did not believe that evolution occured or that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. Her PhD however was in phylogenetics, so obviously she could not combine her beliefs with the science. She was very passionate about her work, and published several papers in good journals, so I could not say, as I supspect Richard Dawkins would, that her beliefs made her a worse scientist, she was simply able to seperate the two. When she talked about it, she said that she had to do this because there was simply no scientific evidence that supported her beliefs, and she would be dishonest if she tried to pretend otherwise. She found the philosophical implications of evolution offensive, but she knew that it could not affect her scientific judgement, and this is what made her a good scientist, and what makes ID proponents bad scientists. I dont think intelligence has much to do with it.

It is the agnostic engineer types that confuse me the most, I imagine they're just more comfortable with the idea of approaching complex systems as designed entities.

  
C.J.O'Brien



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,07:22   

Until Dover, it was my belief that Behe was apostate, that he didn't really believe it anymore and he was just going through the motions as a 'dissenting academic.'

After seeing the thrashing he took at the trial, though, I thought, nobody would go through that unless they were a true believer.

Dembski's as much as admitted that his output is so much snake oil. He just likes to sell books, preach to the choir and thumb his nose at evilutionists.

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The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
MidnightVoice



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,07:28   

Once two competing cognitions are held simultaneously, the individual can be said to be in a state of "cognitive dissonance".

That is the honest people.  Many of the prominent IDers are probably just liars

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If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,07:46   

Quote (MidnightVoice @ Mar. 02 2006,13:28)
Once two competing cognitions are held simultaneously, the individual can be said to be in a state of "cognitive dissonance".

That is the honest people.  Many of the prominent IDers are probably just liars

It's easy to pinpoint fundamentalist christianity as the culprit with the great majority of these people. What's more of a challenge, as Chris Hyland points out, is nailing down the motivation of people who appear not to be religious fanatics, or who seem not to be motivated by a fear of going to he11. I think DaveScot and Davison fall into this category, since I'm not aware that either of them has ever professed to be devout Christians. (Tho maybe they have and I missed it. Anyone know?)

I think in DaveScot's case, his rightwing politics and overinflated ego combined to cause him to spend his retirement shilling for ID. He perceives that liberals believe in evolution, so that makes the 'opposite of evolution' correct. And his time at Dell seems to have lamentably convinced him that he's inherently much smarter than any of them egghead scientists, no matter how little he may know. But bottom line, I suspect his politics drove him to it.

With Davison it's harder to nail down. Anyone in academia can tell you there is a very familiar phenomenon of the elderly retired professor who veers off into crackpottery due to a combination of a sense of infallibility, unfocused anger and bitterness, a desire to contradict all one's peers, and a perhaps age-induced inability to discern between good ideas and bad ideas. There are plenty of stories of scholars who did great work in their 30's or 40's, maybe even won a Nobel prize, and then descended into embarrassingly public lunacy in their 70's. I think that's where our Davison lands.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,08:46   

Louis,

I really don't have any better explanation. My observation of creationist engineers I've known is that the gating factor is whether their particular faith is threatened. From their perspective, it's a matter of whether or not God Has Spoken on a given topic. Anything that God Has Spoken about, however idiotic, is simply not questionable. It is TRUTH. Their minds don't, and as far as I can tell *can't*, engage the topic in any intellectual sense.

They can, and many like Behe do, construct elaborate intellectual defenses around the territory God staked out as being outside reason or evidence.

Like C.J.O'Brien, I was fascinated by Behe sitting there while it was rubbed in his face that when asked for evidence, he could only state conclusions. When asked what, besides faith, his conclusions could possibly be based on when no evidence or research existed, Behe was reduced to saying "But it's still science!"

Even more, although it was clear that Behe was the central cause of Jones finding no possible way to decouple ID from creationism, Behe (before the decision was handed down) expressed complete satisfaction that he had shown magic to be science. AFTER the decision, he cobbled together a stunning rationale for how he couldn't possibly have been wrong.

Behe, in other words, simply could not intellectually engage with any idea denied by his faith. And so I have to think this is *wiring*, it's physiological in the brain, it lies beyond the influence of conscious thought.

  
C.J.O'Brien



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,09:25   

Quote
I think DaveScot and Davison...

Whoa, whoa!
I thought we were talking about 'smart people.'

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The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
George



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,10:15   

I think a big factor is simple obsession.  People develop or come across a beautiful theory and become so wedded to it that they become blind to the ugly facts.  They have invested so much intellectual and emotional capital in their idea that it becomes impossible for them to question it in any serious way.  

There have been more than a few single-theory maniacs in science.  The man who first fully developed the theory of protective colouration (camoflage) in animals in the 19th century ended up claiming that all animal colouration had a protective function.  (I forget his name, can anyone remind me?)  He went through some serious contortions explaining how male peacock plumage was camoflage (blue neck silhoutted against the sky, the pale eyes on the tail feathers resembling a sun-dappled forest floor, etc.).

There's also the loss of face that would come about by recanting after defending a losing theory so vigourously.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,10:49   

Quote (C.J.O'Brien @ Mar. 02 2006,15:25)
Quote
I think DaveScot and Davison...

Whoa, whoa!
I thought we were talking about 'smart people.'

True enough. Well, there seems to be evidence that once upon a time Davison used to be smart.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,11:07   

Quote
Chris Hyland

It is the agnostic engineer types that confuse me the most, I imagine they're just more comfortable with the idea of approaching complex systems as designed entities.
Extremely few ID people are agnostic. I suspect the one you have in mind, let's call him DanScot, is just lying. Jesus is the fuel of the ID movement.

But it's perfectly easy to understand why engineers comprise such a large subset of educated creationist.

1 They spend years working around complex systems which were all designed. 2 They don't have any biology training to know how successful evolution is, or how large the mountain of evidence is 3 They have enough technical skill to feel confident in the face of opposition.

Add religion, and you have excellent targets for the ID meme.

   
Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,12:05   

Quote
2 They don't have any biology training to know how successful evolution is, or how large the mountain of evidence is
This is why it is quite important for them to get ID in schools. I speak to engineers on a fairly regular basis, who are all systems biologists. As much as the engineers over at UD can claim these systems are obviously the product of design, the engineers I speak to point out the exact opposite, and can cite many papers by prominent engineers backing them up. This is because they have been exposed to a large amount of biology training before they heard of ID, if it were the other way round it might be different, and like you said anyone with good techincal knowledge can argue even the daftest point fairly well. Of course being on a mission from god doesn't particularly help either.

  
BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 02 2006,12:14   

Nicholas Tesla comes to mind.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
GCT



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 03 2006,00:57   

Quote (stevestory @ Mar. 02 2006,17:07)
Extremely few ID people are agnostic. I suspect the one you have in mind, let's call him DanScot, is just lying. Jesus is the fuel of the ID movement.

I'll second that.

I've seen him on more than one occassion let his true religious feelings slip.  He has talked about the wonders of the Bible, the genesis story, how obvious god is, etc.

  
Flint



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 03 2006,05:10   

Quote
But it's perfectly easy to understand why engineers comprise such a large subset of educated creationist.

1 They spend years working around complex systems which were all designed. 2 They don't have any biology training to know how successful evolution is, or how large the mountain of evidence is 3 They have enough technical skill to feel confident in the face of opposition.

Again, I strongly doubt this. What we're seeing is a recruitment function. Engineering is a field smart creationists can get into and perform well at, without their core beliefs being threatened or even addressed.

Another factor everyone seems to overlook is that the DI, recognizing that engineers have a lot of cachet from a public that doesn't really understand what they do, has recruited engineers to sign their propaganda.

I wonder if there's a single exception to the observation that engineers who are creationists, were creationists LONG before they went into engineering. Engineering doesn't cause or even support creationism; it simply allows a creationist to avoid facing the implications of his faith.

  
Russell



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 03 2006,05:32   

Quote
Another factor everyone seems to overlook is that the DI, recognizing that engineers have a lot of cachet from a public that doesn't really understand what they do, has recruited engineers to sign their propaganda.
The ID forces here got a lot of mileage out of recruiting a lot of creationist MDs, too. Same idea: these guys are not actually scientists, but the general public - and the school board - doesn't know the difference. And they are, after all, "real" doctors!

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Wonderpants



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2006,01:57   

Quote (GCT @ Mar. 03 2006,06:57)
:07-->
Quote (stevestory @ Mar. 02 2006,17:07)
Extremely few ID people are agnostic. I suspect the one you have in mind, let's call him DanScot, is just lying. Jesus is the fuel of the ID movement.

I'll second that.

I've seen him on more than one occassion let his true religious feelings slip.  He has talked about the wonders of the Bible, the genesis story, how obvious god is, etc.

Agreed. IDers can't hide their religious motivations for long, and DaveScot, while better at it than most, still slips up from time to time (complaining about atheist scientists, generally).

Davison seems to be the only one on the UD circus who might genuinely be agnostic.

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Fundamentalism in a nutshell:
"There are a lot of things I have concluded to be wrong, without studying them in-depth. Evolution is one of them. The fact that I don't know that much about it does not bother me in the least."

  
stevestory



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2006,05:38   

Yeah. Davison's fueled by 100-octane crazy.

   
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