Wednesday, September 30, 2009



To continue with Nick Smyth's response to criticisms, Nick asks:

I have come to accept that we shouldn't dwell on the semantics of the prefix "pseudo", here, but rather that we should just ask ourselves how we would feel if we were the target of this kind of accusation. That is to say, what if someone walked up to you and accused you of being a "pseudo-person".

About the same as if I was told I was full of bollocks ... particularly if that bollocks was something that I sincerely and deeply believed in and made up a significant part of my personal and social identification ... the way religion acts for many people. What if, on the other hand, I was merely told that I mistakenly believed that I was born in Lithuania when, in fact, I was born in Latvia?

I find it incredible that Smyth somehow thinks that people will feel less "exclude[ed] ... from social and political power" if they are told by government that their religion is bollocks than if they are merely told it is not science and, therefore, their religion cannot be taught in secular science classes.

Nick makes the assertion that, in order to make "a valid demarcation of 'science' from other fields ('non-' and 'pseudo-science') [we] must provide necessary and jointly sufficient criteria for science'." I've already responded that I think that science is a sorites heap and the existence of gray areas is no bar to speaking intelligibly of broad categories. But don't forget that Nick is doing exactly the same thing himself. It is, according to Nick, an "obvious truism" that science "deliver[s] truths about the world" and religion (in the form of creationism/ID) doesn't. I would like to see his necessary and jointly sufficient criteria for TruthTM.

Even if we grant Nick's contention that a satisfying philosophical definition of science is necessary to demark it from non-science, as a social criteria for determining what may, under our Constitution, be imposed by the majority on the minority in the area of school curriculum, Nick's scheme is a disaster.

It is clear that Nick thinks there is a demarcation to be had between science and the sort of religion that many people in the US hold to. The question is why he thinks its better social policy to defend the broader, even less easily definable categories, that, in fact, go to the very heart of religious belief, than defending the less fuzzy categories that do not strike at the core of people's constitutionally guaranteed right to believe in the religion of their choice?

More to follow as I can get to it.


Wow. The lurching continues.

John: Here's how debate is supposed to go: you criticize. I respond to specific criticisms. You either respond to my response, or concede my point. We move on, hopefully trying to come to some kind of resolution.

Instead, you take a paragraph from the beginning of one of my responses, ignore the larger argument that it is connected to, and continue on with a totally unconnected line of thought. I honestly don't have the energy to remind you of what was actually being discussed there. If this were a 10th grade debate class exercise, the moderator would have shut you down by now.
I respond to specific criticisms. You either respond to my response, or concede my point. We move on, hopefully trying to come to some kind of resolution.

Heh! So now you not only get to tell everyone else what the truth is, you get to them the rules of how to respond to you? I don't think so. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in a 10th grade debate class, where the amount and range of criticism you would face would be limited but, here, I have all the time in the world. I'm gonna run out all the implications of your claims until I'm satisfied I've covered them all. In other words, I'll respond in the way I want, in the order I want, and in the time I want.

You may think this post is unconnected (or, more likely, you may not want to think about how it is connected) but I'll be the judge of that too.

You put this in the mix by suggesting your scheme is a more appropriate way to deal with creationist attempts to get their religion into American public schools and I'm gonna stay with it until I'm satisfied I've covered all the ways it isn't. I'll get to your philosophical claims too, in my own good time.
OK guys, get a room. This lovefest is getting embarrassing.
OK guys, get a room. This lovefest is getting embarrassing.

Heh! Is it that obvious?

Okay, the work hassle is over now and I'll try to finish up over the weekend so poor Nick can once again feel that the proper order of things is being observed and all's right with the world.
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