13 March 2006

How to De-stabilise Rational Thinking in 10 Easy Lessons

After the arse-kicking that they received in the Kitzmiller vs Dover case (also known as Scopes II), IDiots have been strangely quiet.

But don't discount them. They'll be back. And they'll be back in a way that means that when they do, all us rational folk will be needed for the showdown.

After all, there are plenty more battlefields out there that haven't even been fought at yet.

Evolution is just one of the possible targets that they could name. They could come back with a sneaky attack on the Big Bang, Gravity, the list is too big to mention.

In the fallout after this case, attention has been focussed back on the Discovery Institute, the shadowy right-wing thinktank that has been pushing the ID line.

What is most disturbing is that, amidst all the double-talk, wheeling and dealing and spin, the Discovery Institute seems to be ashamed to acknowledge their admitted religious agenda.

You wouldn't think so if this really was all there was to it.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.

What appears to be the case is that up to this point, the boys and girls over at the Discovery Institute have been going out of their way to introduce a concept called Intelligent Design into the science classroom through a process of deliberate confusion called "Teaching the Controversy."

Teaching the Controversy is simply asserting that a controversy exists where there isn't one. Great trick, if you can pull it off. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation are particularly good at this.

What is certain about Teaching the Controversy is that it is designed to exploit a weak point identified fairly early on by the Discovery Institute. The weak point that I am referring to is that many people don't know what science actually is.

Disgraceful, really.

Mark Nutter is a bloke who keeps a very interesting blog on reconciling religion with science called, Heaven is not the Sky.

Nutter has identified a top ten, an "action plan", if you like, for sabotaging science in the name of religion.

These read as follows:
  1. Focus on a vague, generalized group of presumed antagonists (e.g. evolutionists, “Darwinists”) whose motives are always presumed to be corrupt, dishonest and evil.
  2. Emphasis on atypical examples of cases that make a theory (e.g. evolution) look bad, generalized to imply that the whole theory is bad.
  3. Attacking a scientific theory (e.g. evolution) on religious, non-scientific, or pseudo-scientific grounds, rather than by offering detailed scientific explanations whose specific, verifiable predictions are a better fit for the observed data.
  4. Manufacturing phony challenges to the legitimacy of a theory (e.g. evolution), and inflating the credentials of those challenges.
  5. Manufacturing spurious and unsupported alternatives to a theory (e.g. evolution) and using non-scientific channels to get them acclaimed as “scientifically superior,” so as to displace the challenged theory.
  6. Manipulating the educational and political system to control public perception of scientific information independently of the scientific process.
  7. Spreading distorted information and false information about a theory (e.g. evolution) and/or the people who support it.
  8. Maintaining a facade of false neutrality and objectivity while clearly working to promote a monopolistic agenda.
  9. Claiming to promote scientific research while never doing any actual research beyond looking up materials that can be used to try and discredit the target theory (the “Hollow Curiosity” indicator). Note that this failure to produce any documented results is often masked by complaints of “censorship” by mainstream science, despite the fact that until you do the research, you have nothing publishable for mainstream science to censor!
  10. Tight PR controls on all media outlets (including blogs) owned and operated by the creationists themselves.

My questions are these.

Firstly, there are many religious types who don't approve of what 'mentalists like the Discovery Institute are doing.

Why don't they have a serious bash at destabilising the 'mentalists? The vast, vast majority of Christians (and I will specifically single Christians out here. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc all seem to be immune to all this silliness) simply do not support literal interpretations of the Bible.

In fact, if you were to ask them, and promise them confidentiality, I would hazard a guess that 9 out of 10 Christians do not even support the notion of Biblical inerrancy.

Secondly, this goes for scientists and the rest of us.

Up to now, the PR nous displayed by scientists has been atrocious.

Kitzmiller was won through sheer dumb luck. Luck in that it was lucky that the plaintiffs had such a good case and a decent legal team.

When the IDiots attempt to pull another one over on the rest of us, they will come better organised.

It is time for scientists to go out on the attack and lauch a PR blitz of their own.

And there is a really, really good reason why this is the case.

In the next few weeks this blogger plans to examine the concept of Dominionism. Is it just another wacky conspiracy theory? If not, then what is it?

Even if it is pure codswallop, wouldn't you feel more comfortable if our friends with pointy heads were at least getting out there and making themselves known?

Because if they don't, and our fundamentalists come a calling, normal people are going to feel safer with them than the forces of logic and reason.

And this has the potential to return us to the dark ages.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dikkii,

Love the top ten action plan. Spells it out nicely.

On a side note (you only mention it as a link to another site), I hate all this reconciling religion with science bullshit. As far as I'm concerned, they are complete opposites. It makes me cringe when I read scientists sucking up to religious folks by saying that evolution is compatible with religion, and almost begging them to fit evolution into their belief system. We need more heroes like Richard Dawkins to come out against religion and make some attempt to educate people as to why religion is a giant load of crap.

It reminds me of how western countries deal with fundamentalist countries. We always end up giving in to their demands for respect of their culture/religion etc. There doesn't seem to be much give and take however. Do they respect our culture/beliefs? Fuck no, we're infidels. (And yes, I know this is a massive simplification)

Dikkii said...

G'day Adam,

Nice to hear from you again.

You wrote: "I hate all this reconciling religion with science bullshit. As far as I'm concerned, they are complete opposites."

You're probably on to something here.

Myself, I generally go one step further in that I regard everything metaphysical as not even registering on the same scale as science.

I don't know why they come within the same 50,00 words, sometimes, and it really gives me the shits to see people attempting to put the two together.

I probably misrepresented Nutter's blog in attempting to describe it as reconciling science with religion. A better description would be to say that Nutter attempts to find arguments that show that placing science next to religion is like comparing apples with compact discs.

In a future post, however, I intend to take the devil's advocate perspective and show why I believe that some athiests - Dawkins included - do not contribute constructively to the "debate".

You also wrote: "It reminds me of how western countries deal with fundamentalist countries. We always end up giving in to their demands for respect of their culture/religion etc. There doesn't seem to be much give and take however. Do they respect our culture/beliefs? Fuck no, we're infidels. (And yes, I know this is a massive simplification)"

You won't belive this, but I agree with most of what you've said here.

The issue is, though, you'll find, that some of us infidels will exploit the irrational beliefs of a select group of others in order to attack all those others, not just the ones holding those irrational beliefs, if you know what I mean.

It becomes a fine line.

Anonymous said...

I very much look forward to reading your devil's advocate post regarding Dawkins etc.

You said: "...some atheists, dawkins included, do not contribute constructively to the 'debate'"

I would say that very few theists contribute constructively to any debate.

Dikkii said...

Quite right about theists.

But everyone knows this, well, at least anyone who reads my blog. So I would be preaching to the converted if I pointed this out for the umpteenth time.

Dawkins and some of his ilk, on the other hand, appear to be sacred cows.

My word, that was a most inappropriate metaphor, wasn't it?

But my article on Dawkins and the atheist intelligentsia is going to have to wait.

Taxpayer funding of private education is in my sights once again (do I hear groans?) and I'm out for blood this time.