Stupidity makes my brain hurt (or ouch! ouch! ouch!)

January 29, 2007

This Sunday I wasted an hour of my life and I’m never going to get it back.

All unsuspecting, I sat down to watch A War On Science, SBS 7.30pm, described in the TV guide as:

(UK) A group of scientists and university professors have become the first in the US to demand the teaching of the controversial theory of “intelligent design”.

Oh Boy.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The use of the word controversial rather than bogus, debunked or refuted should have triggered my bogosity detection systems, but I must have been distracted. Or stupid. Or something.

Anyhow, the documentary was loosly based around the Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover School District trial, presenting Michael Behe and his pro Intelligent Design cohorts in a very credible light. (If anything, they were portrayed as plucky underdogs fighting the nasty and amoral scientific establishment. Thankfully the presenters didn’t actually go so far as to compare them to Gallileo, or I may have been forced to scream in an unmanly fashion.) This was followed by Kenneth Miller refuting the main points of ID, and a couple of short bits with Richard Dawkins.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the documentary basically presented “both sides” as though it was a “he said, she said” debate, badly misrepresenting the relative validity of the two arguments and doing nothing to address the false dichotomy at the core of ID – that failures in the theory of evolution equate to evidence for ID.

I hate this kind of junk. I think it’s very dangerous to partially or poorly explain arguments against creationism (in any of it’s multitudinous flavours). Creationists can say so many wrong things so very quicky, and it takes time and scientific education to refute them. It’s a constant game of catch up and misrepresentations like this just cloud an already muddy issue.

In contrast, for a really well reasoned and systematic refutation of ID, download a copy of Judge Jones’ final decision on the Kitzmiller trial (PDF format). It might look a bit daunting for the first few pages, but it is well worth persevering with.


2 Responses to “Stupidity makes my brain hurt (or ouch! ouch! ouch!)”

  1. You nail the issue by identifying the creationists’ false dilemma. Other good books include Unintelligent Design by Robyn Williams and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

  2. Sebastian J Monkey Says:

    Another book to take a look at is Evolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie Scott. I’ve also heard that Why Darwin Matters by Michael Shermer is quite good, but I haven’t got around to it yet (NSFW Monkey Nudity on the cover).

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