Oh, sweet Darwin!

Now do keep in mind that this is the guy calling me an idiot:

Oh yes, the “i was just making fun” defense…. And the Dawkins’ argument in God Delusion was just pointing out what Vox admits in this Argville post: that using ‘red state / blue state” arguments is dumb. Dawkins was just mocking the people who use that argument.

While I recognize that there are those who attempt to hide their blunders under an “i was just making fun” defense, I think my track record of making fun of arguments from statewide statistics is reasonably supported by the evidence. But there’s no reason Argville should have known that, so we’ll let that slide.

However, Argville has no similar excuse for his apparent reading-comprehension problem. Unfortunately for his reputation, Dawkins does not quote the Red State Crime argument in its entirety because he is mocking the individual who uses that argument – that’s my deal – for you see, Dawkins has written of the very book from which that example hails that “Harris never misses, not with a single sentence”.

In “The God Delusion”, Dawkins describes Harris’s state-based argument thusly: “Such research evidence as there is certainly doesn’t support the common view that religiosity is positively correlated with morality. Correlational evidence is never conclusive, but the following data, described by Sam Harris in his Letter to a Christian Nation, are nevertheless striking.”

That’s just vicious mocking, it’s really uncalled for, isn’t it? So, Argville, based on your definition of an idiot as someone who believes in evidence derived on a state-wide basis, who is the idiot?

A) Sam Harris
B) Richard Dawkins
C) The Caucasian Shaft Equation, aka Vox Day

The lies of science

Scientists and their blindly adoring cheerleaders are blatantly and habitually misleading about the way in which the scientific method produces technological breakthroughs as well as the noble dedication of science to nothing but material truth derived from empirical evidence. Consider, for example, how often penicillin is cited as one of the reasons we must be humbly grateful for science and then consider the truth of how it was “discovered”:

Ernest Duchesne was a French physician who noted that certain moulds kill bacteria. He made this discovery thirty-two years before Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin, a substance derived from those moulds, but his research went unnoticed….

Duchesne had made his breakthrough by observing how the Arab stable boys at the army hospital kept their saddles in a dark and damp room to encourage mould to grow on them. When he asked why, they told him that the mould helped to heal the saddle sores on the horses.

1. Duchesne didn’t discover penicillin, the Arabs did. Duchesne simply deepened human understanding of it and expanded its range of applications.

2. Duchesne was completely ignored by the scientific community. Which should be unsurprising, as we are often assured by scientists today that if an individual hasn’t been published in a recognized, peer-reviewed publication, he can’t possibly be committing science or saying anything worthwhile. How seriously would a 23 year-old med student submitting a paper upending evolution be taken today, even if he had iron-clad proof of rabbit fossiles in the pre-Cambrian?

3. Duchesne wasn’t a scientist, he was a military doctor.

Science deserves no significant credit for the manifold benefits of penicillin. It was not discovered by scientody, it was not discovered by scientists, the idiosyncracies of scientistry delayed the realization of its benefits by decades, and scientists do not provide it or any of its derivatives to those who are in need of them.

Of the most important human inventions, relatively few have been produced by scientists or by the scientific method. Science didn’t produce the wheel, writing, the printing press, the personal computer or penicillin. It didn’t produce anesthesia, the toilet or the airplane. And while science has provided humanity with an effective means of exploiting its non-scientific discoveries, on the other hand, professional scientists have done an even more impressive job of developing the weapons that currently imperil our continued existence on the planet.

Science isn’t inherently bad, but it is far from the unbiased, unmitigated good that its adherents believe it to be. And it is far more dangerous to humanity than religion has ever been or ever will be.

Time for the bulldozers

I don’t always agree with David Frum, in fact, I seldom do, but he’s dead-on with the diagnosis here:

Is it quite accurate to describe the DC schools as “dysfunctional”? Doesn’t that depend on what you take their true “function” actually to be? If you imagine that function to be educating the young, well yes obviously they are not very successful at that. But what if they have a very different function? What if their real function were to create employment and transfer wealth? At that, after all, they are extremely successful.

And this may explain why “reform” attempts so often fail. Reforms intended to improve the quality of education threaten to damage the schools’ ability to carry out their most fundamental mission: emplyment and enrichment.

If you still seriously believe that public schools are intended to provide children with an academic education, you simply aren’t paying enough attention.

Mass education is an outdated and inefficient concept. The corpse may twitch for another 50 years, but it’s already dead.

Of course he got whacked

I find it difficult to believe that anyone even tries to argue otherwise.

Figments of my imagination

Argville thinks I’m just making up the idea that Democrats believe they are smarter than Republicans, and that the Republican tendency to reject evolution is a popular justification for this belief:

This person doesn’t offers a single example of anyone, evolutionist or otherwise, calling Independents or Democrats smarter because of this one issue, but that doesn’t stop this idiot from saying it. He simply made it up.

Yes, because everyone knows that unless you provide ten footnoted citations, each written in blood and sworn on the Book of Mormon before being peer reviewed in a prestigious scientific journal, it cannot be true…. The fact that I didn’t bother to provide an example of something fairly commonly expressed around the Internet doesn’t make it untrue or indicate that I made it up, it merely means I have not proved the assertion should anyone choose to doubt it. But, since apparently Argville has so little experience of blogs such as the one belonging to my good friend and fellow scientist, Dr. PZ Myers, who loyally has my back again today, I’ll give him this example:

Democrats dominate academia because they are smarter than Republicans

I want to point out a couple of choice excerpts from letters to the editor of today’s New York Times. These letters are responding to an article from November 18th, “Republicans Outnumbered in Academia:”

[A] national survey of more than 1,000 academics, shows that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. That ratio is more than twice as lopsided as it was three decades ago, and it seems quite likely to keep increasing…

Here they are:

“Academics are trained to reason using logic, to question evidence and to consider and evaluate several possible interpretations of events. All these activities are discouraged and indeed ridiculed by the present Republican leadership.”

Similarly,

“A successful career in academia, after all, requires willingness to be critical of yourself and to learn from experience, along with a lack of interest in material incentives. All these are antithetical to Republicanism as it has recently come to be.”

I think these writers are onto something. Other evidence, albeit circumstantial, abounds. Take a look at the aggregate IQ scores of the Blue states vs Red states. Blue states have a dramatically higher IQ. Or to put it more eloquently:

“[Republicans] are stupid. They believe that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for September 11, 2001. They think corn syrup is food. They believe that there’s no such thing as stateless terrorism. They believe that “the left” is responsible for the revolting cesspool of popular culture. They don’t believe in evolution.”

And his “Republicans live longer” statement is totally absurd. He draws this conclusion from the life expectancy by state! Can you believe that? OK, that’s dumb enough but even playing that game, the state with the highest life expectancy in the USA is Hawaii, a blue state. So where does the Republican live longer bullshit come from? Again, the idiot made it up.

Actually, I very much agree that arguments by state population are absurd. Of course, Argville probably isn’t aware that I was mocking Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins by “proving” that Republicans live longer using state data, perhaps he’s not aware of Harris’s famously silly “Red State Immorality” argument, which Dawkins quotes in its entirety in “The God Delusion”.

While political party affiliation in the United States is not a perfect indicator of religiosity, it is no secret that the “red states” are primarily red because of the overwhelming political influence of conservative Christians. If there were a strong correlation between Christian conservatism and social health, we might expect to see some sign of it in red-state America. We don’t. Of the 25 cities with the lowest rates of violent crime, 62 percent are in “blue” states and 38 percent are in “red” states. … Of the 22 states with the highest rates of murder, 17 are red.

The “bullshit” comes from the fact that the most Democratic “state”, Washington DC, has the lowest life expectancy, while the most Republican state has the second-highest. But this proves nothing conclusively, Argville is right to be dubious of those who try to prove anything about individuals through the use of statewide, let alone nationwide, data.

I wonder if he will conclude that Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, in their habitual reliance on such arguments, are actually the sort of idiot he believes me to be?

I do thank Argville for the award, however, and I shall certainly cherish my Argie for “Idiot of the Day”. I intend to put it on the mantle in between my much-prized “Godidiot of the Week” and “Pointy Stick” awards.