Sunday, March 25, 2007


William Dembski Wants You to Think He's a Moron!

The doyen of the Intelligent Design Movement, William Dembski, has announced a new strategy (see Comment 4) in their campaign to unseat evolutionary science. He is now urging the proponents of ID to seek to convince their opponents that the movement is made up of morons!

This all started over a quote mine of certain disparaging remarks about the Irish taken from Darwin's The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), that Dembski posted at Uncommon Descent. I'm guessing that he got wind of this passage from a truly execrable article in Commonweal by Peter Quinn, titled "The Gentle Darwinians."

As pointed out by, among others, John Wilkins,* Dembski failed to reveal that the characterization of the "reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society" associated, in a roundabout way, with the Irish, was not Darwin's own views but those of Francis Galton and W. R. Greg, with whom Darwin was in the process of disagreeing.

Dembski now claims to have known the correct context of the quote but intentionally did not include it in his attempt "to highlight Darwin’s attitude toward the Irish and underscore the invidious distinctions of race and ethnicity that his theory engenders," as a decoy for the "Darwinists" to chase after instead of the "the gist" of the quote mine.
Besides the fact that it is incredibly dishonest to "highlight" something by misrepresenting the context of another person's words, his claim sinks under its own weight, since, even if Darwin was less than politically correct by today's standards, that's hardly enough reason to ignore a century and a quarter's science since then. As to possible "alternative theories," John pointed out, before Dembski claimed he was only playing a moron on TV:

One might think Dembski is deliberately spinning the truth, or as we call it in technical philosophy, lying.

Denyse (accent on the "Deny") O'Leary has come to Wild Bill's ... um ... "defense" by claiming that the reason The Descent of Man included unflattering characterizations of the Irish was because of "Darwin's Brit toffery"!!! Well, Denyse sure took to Dembski's ploy like a loon to water, didn't she?

Anyway, I think Dembski is really on to something with this plan! In any contest, it's always best to go with what comes naturally!

* John's post is soon to be a major new entry in the Quote Mine Project.

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"Brit toffery" - yes, that is the expression she uses.

Using an ethnic slur (a mild one, yes) in a complaint about an ethnic slur?
Granted, encouraging your opponent to believe you are stupid can be a useful strategy. But doesn't it rather spoil the trick if you admit publicly that you're doing it? I mean, you'd have to be pretty stupid to tell them that...ah, I get it now! BillyD is thereby reinforcing our impression of his stupidity. Clever that...or something....but now he's revealed that part of his strategy too, which is pretty stupid -- of course, more reinforcement! But...excuse me, I sense a recursive headache coming on...
I sense a recursive headache coming on...

Now you are beginning to see the truly diabolical part of their plan!

They intend to disable us by getting us to repeatedly smack our own heads in disbelief!
His dissembling collapses under its own turgidity. (Yikes, is that a word?) What I mean is that if he really didn't purposely intend those ridiculous comments, he would have had nothing to comment on in the first place. He simply got caught in a boneheaded fart, and invented an escape route that fools no one. Go, Bill!
If you haven't seen PZ Myers' post on Dembski leaving a juvenile birthday greeting at Dawkins website, go here (assuming you are smarter than Dembski and can work the alphabet) and see the complete collapse of the "Einstein of ID."
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