Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Out and About the Intertubes

We're all ignorant. The most erudite person in the world knows only the tiniest fraction of the collective knowledge of the human species. That's why we build libraries. And human knowledge itself represents only a tiny fraction of what there is, in this vast universe and what may lie beyond it, out there to be known. It's no insult to say someone is ignorant (though it is often meant as one) and it's no failing to admit to ignorance.

But there is ignorance and there is ignorance. The internet gives us great access to knowledge but it also gives us access to great ignorance.

Confident Ignorance

Babu Ranganathan, a self-described "experienced Christian writer" sporting a "B.A. with academic concentrations in Bible and Biology from Bob Jones University," effectively guaranteeing he knows next to nothing about the latter and probably little about the former, is prone to littering the internet with extended demonstrations of his ignorance, nonetheless couched in the most certain of terms. A (blessedly brief) example:

It has been said that the eye of an octopus is more similar to the human eye than any other animal.

Tantalus Prime, in "Babu Ranganathan, ramblin' man, shows why intelligent design is not science," has taken the trouble to wade through the rest so that you can avoid any unfortunate encounters with grapefruit spoons.

Invincible Ignorance

Some things are so ignorant, so incoherent, that you have to completely recast them before you can even address the many misconceptions:

I may be a lay person. I am not, however, ill-informed.

Darwin disproved: Take a look at his drawings of in utero creatures. He constantly compared the early embryo and fetus' of human beings to that of pigs and other animals.

I'm here to tell you that medical science has roundly disproved those drawings/pictures/whatever you want to call them. I've seen them with my own eyes, as a lay person. Medical professionals, biologists, anthropologists, abortionists, all of them will concede that the embryo and early human fetus looks absolutely nothing like Darwin's crude drawing and compares nothing to a fetal pig. We were able to distinguish my son's genitalia at 13 weeks in utero. He did not possess any "tail" as so classically drawn. Many scientists will admit that human beings do not develop a tail at all in the womb, but that it fits the theory of evolution nicely and so it is still promoted in popular scientific literature.

How much ignorance can one person hold? Troy Britain helps you count the ways in "Darwin's embryo drawings flawed?"

Discovered Ignorance

Larry Arnhart, in "Connecting Hitler and Darwin (or Luther?): David Berlinski's Sophistry," makes another good point about the dishonest attempt to connect Darwin to the Holocaust in Expelled. That claim is grounded in From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart, a Discovery Institute fellow:

Astonishingly, Weikart never mentions Luther, because this would weaken his argument that Christianity promoted the equal moral dignity of all human beings against the degrading materialism of Darwinism. Of course, Weikart could rightly argue that Luther's anti-Semitism was a distortion of the Christian tradition. But then wouldn't he also have to consider the possibility that social Darwinism was a distortion of Darwinian science?

Weikart has written a hostile review of [Richard Steigman-Gall's book, The Holy Reich]. But almost everything he says in criticizing Stegman-Gall's connecting Nazism to Christianity could easily be said in criticizing Weikart's connecting Nazism to Darwinism. For example, Weikart says that if one looks closely as the Nazi interpretations of Christianity, one can see that "their Christianity was always interpreted through the lens of their racial ideology, not vice versa." Yet the same could be said about the Nazi interpretations of Darwinism!

What was that again about a beam in your eye?

Does "willful ignorance" fit into one of those categories? I suppose it might be the same as "discovered ignorance". It goes something like this:

"Here is my statement that I believe is true without ever having researched it. What's that? I'm wrong? (Covering ears) la la la, I can't hear you, I must still be right."

Annoying ...
Heh. I used "Discovered" ignorance to suggest a certain Institute ... which, come to think of it, probably has its picture next to "willful ignorance" in the dictionary.
They haven't got merely a log in their eye, they've got entire lumber yards.

No wonder they're cranky. Ten thousand board feet of solid pine lodged in one's retina has got to chafe a bit.

The "unfortunate encounters with grapefruit spoons" line was priceless. Not only did it display a fine turn of dry humor, it reminded me I need to lock up my spoons before I start reading... thankee kindly!
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