Exposing PseudoAstronomy

September 4, 2011

Creationists/IDers Attack the Person, Scientists/Skeptics Attack the Claims


Introduction

This is going to be a short post and is more a musing based on observations I’ve made over the past few years. Of course, I should give a standard disclaimer that I’m not a psychologist/psychiatrist nor schooled in etymology. That said, let’s look into how some people argue.

Creationist and Intelligent Design Argument Structure

Okay, I’m not actually going to go into the detailed structure here, though I actually talked a bit about this in my “Propagating Science Versus Propagating Anti-Science” post. That’s the most frequent method these days — trying to show the evolution can’t be true rather than their model is true.

A less frequent though still often-used argument is to attack the founder of the field they are attacking. Most often this is Charles Darwin. He thought dark-skinned people were evolutionarily inferior, he was an atheist, he studied with bad people, etc. etc. It also can extend to other “founders” of the field of evolution, such as Charles Lyell. And I suppose it’s worth mentioning that many “amatuer scientists” these days who claim to have faster-than-light travel will frequently say that it was Einstein who was wrong.

Why Talk About This?

I think it’s interesting, and I blog about what I think is interesting within the subject of my blog.🙂

Why do I think it’s interesting? I think it’s interesting because scientists do not generally attack the people who make the claim, rather they attack the claims that people make (and “attack” here really is more strong of a word than I should probably be using). For example, people do research into general relativity. They don’t do research into Einstein. Similarly, when writing papers on evolution, people will cite/reference papers that found similar/different results and discuss why they agree/disagree with those results. In fact, in one case I actually was attacked directly after reviewing a paper, where the author attacked my research instead of the (valid) points that I had made about her paper. I notified the editor of the journal and after profusely apologizing, she told the author that her paper was not welcome to be resubmitted to the journal.

So, to put it succinctly, in science, we go by the data, not the people making the claims.

Contrast that with Christianity, which in its very name is founded upon a single principle figure, Jesus (“Christ”). (This is probably why so many young-Earth creationists and IDers refer to evolution as “Darwinism” or “neo-Darwinism.” No, it is evolution. We do not follow a dogma set forth by our Lord Founder.)

What I infer from this is what we all pretty much already knew, that religion (and ID) is based upon a dogma stemming from a single person. If someone were to attack the personage of Jesus, his sayings/teachings/actions or even whether he actually existed, then their entire worldview is shaken.

This is very different from science, where I really couldn’t care less if Newton was an alchemist, Darwin a racist, or [make up what you want about] Einstein. The person doesn’t matter. It’s the claims, the data to back them up, and whether it is repeatable and testable that matters.

Final Thoughts

This can also be extended to other pseudosciences, or at least individuals within them, such as UFOlogy or astrology. Even when I have taken great pains to make it clear I’m debunking the claims of certain people, I still get accused of calling them a “liar.” Not true. While that may be the conclusion you draw when I say, “The claims [this person or field] makes in [this area] therefore do not fit with the available evidence,” that is not the same thing as calling them a liar.

Branches of science may be founded by an individual or small group of researchers, but the science itself is wholly independent of them. I am not a “Lemaîtreist” if I accept the Big Bang. I’m not a “Huygensist” if I agree that Saturn’s rings are made of individual particles. However, it seems that the more dogmatic Christians do not understand this, for it is not what they know. They frequently attack the person who founded the field instead of the science itself, and that is why they will forever be relegated to dogmatic religion and nothing else.

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