Monday, October 15, 2007


Circling the Drain

I've never paid much attention to Dinesh D'Souza before, which was one of those blessings you don't even know you have until you lose it. The man is so ... inane ... he makes my teeth itch.

D'Souza's latest hobbyhorse is that "atheist educators" are out to destroy religion. His proof consists of quoting some prominent atheists, many (but not all) of whom are educators but who, nonetheless, represent a tiny fraction of all educators. Thus, D'Souza rides in solely on the logical fallacy of a hasty generalization.

But the really loony argument he perpetrates goes as follows:

In recent years some parents and school boards have asked that public schools teach alternatives to Darwinian evolution. These efforts sparked a powerful outcry from the scientific and non-believing community. Defenders of evolution accuse parents and school boards of retarding the acquisition of scientific knowledge in the name of religion. The Economist editorialized that "Darwinism has enemies mostly because it is not compatible with a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis."

This is indeed so, but doesn't Darwinism have friends and supporters mostly for the same reason? Consider the alternative: the Darwinists are merely standing up for science. But surveys show that the vast majority of young people in America today are scientifically illiterate, widely ignorant of all aspects of science. How many high school graduates could tell you the meaning of Einstein's famous equation? Lots of young people don't have a clue about photosynthesis or Boyle's Law. So why isn't there a political movement to fight for the teaching of photosynthesis? Why isn't the ACLU filing lawsuits on behalf of Boyle's Law?

The answer is clear. For the defenders of Darwinism, no less than for its critics, religion is the issue. Just as some people oppose the theory of evolution because they believe it to be anti-religious, many others support it for the very same reason. This is why we have Darwinism but not Kepplerism; we encounter Darwinists but no one describes himself as an Einsteinian. Darwinism has become an ideology.
It is hard to believe that D'Souza is really that stupid ... which would suggest an attempt to take advantage of people who are.

There are, of course, numerous organizations made up of individuals who want to improve science education generally, such as the National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association and many others. If our children suck at science it is not because there are a lack of educators trying. But it may well be due to idiots who go around trying to convince children that science is just ideology and not important to their lives.

Why aren't there specific defenders of photosynthesis, Boyle's Law, E= mc2 and Keppler? Because, last time I looked, there are no well funded anti-science organizations trying to take those subjects out of schools or water them down into homeopathic versions of science. But if those same anti-science types decided that elliptical orbits were against the content of some supposedly sacred text, they would be disingenuously calling astronomers "Kepplerists," just as they do evolutionary biologists "Darwinists," and people who care about science education would have to organize to defend astrophysics as well.

So D'Souza's premise boils down to: if people try to defend evolution from religious attack, that shows that evolution is ideological and his evidence for the proposition is that when science is not under religious attack it doesn't get defended from religion.

Running in such tight circles can result in disappearing up one's own ass ... in D'Souza's case, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

D'Souza is that much of a jackass. He dated Ann Coulter, for cryin' out loud. I've commented on his ill-informed opinions here and here.

Crazy person, to be sure.
D'Souza is that much of a jackass.

That is my impression as well but I try to be charitable. The problem is I don't know which is the most charitable explanation: he's dirt dumb, he's televangelist dishonest or he's moonbat crazy. Any way I go I'm insulting dirt, televangelists or moonbats.

He dated Ann Coulter, for cryin' out loud.

Out of your options, Catshark, I'm going for #2. It's all about staying on the right-wing gravy train.
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