Add Homonym Attacks! #3
Ad Hominem: Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason.
Ad Hominem Attack: An argument that focuses on a personal attack as opposed to the subject in question.
Add Homonym Attacks!: The process by which one inserts a homophone and it bites you.
(It also serves as the title to Inside Pulse’s representative column in the world of Critical Thinking, Science and Skepticism.)
We here at AHA! are obsessed with providing you with the most accurate information possible. To ensure that we do not become a source of disinformation, the researching process continues after the publication of the “finished” product.
That is to say, I have smart friends who read my shit. They’ll call me on things. Fact checking for AHA #2 (The Space one) is one Michael Milligan, fellow U of C alum, astrophysicist, and Star Wars apologist.
(He is also the biggest nit-picker I know)
Nice article, read it this morning. But you’ve got weight and gravity subtly wrong, and this leads you into a minor error down the line.
It’s true that r can be large in space, but gravity still accelerates you. Hence the Earth stays in orbit about the sun. But with no ground to arrest the acceleration, everything is in free-fall, and hence you feel no weight, because your ship accelerates almost exactly the same as your feet. Space being big, its still pretty easy not to hit anything.
Then you say of space shrapnel, “These bits will continue on at their initial velocities until, pretty much, they hit something or they fall into an orbit.” The bit about falling into orbit is kinda wrong. They will move under inertia and gravity, and are by definition already in orbit relative to everything else. Planets, stars, the galaxy. Although it is more usual to think of matter as orbiting whatever body most immediately affects it’s motion.
And really minor nits. You can have fiery explosions in space, if the ship you just blew up had enough air inside. The flames just won’t last very long. Also, I’ve always assumed that Star Wars-style “blasters” were firing some kind of rather slow-moving plasma. Referring to such things as LASERs, as movies often do, is clearly absurd.
That’s one of the things I always liked about Babylon 5. Fairly plausible depiction of space life, if you ignore the odd physics needed for hyperspace to work. The first time an Earth captain steps onto an alien ship with artificial gravity, he’s confused by the lack of spinning bits.
Minor distinctions, but he has a point.
AHA #1 (the Noah’s Ark one) was also retroactively fact checked. Here is what geophysicist Sawyer Gosnell had to say:
The only thing I can think of with the column is whether the seas would still be salt water if you allowed the entirety of the water on earth to be mixed with a spherical shell of water as high as the mountains. I have a feeling that you would end up with brackish water.
Since the majority of the water in the Great Flood is from an unknown source, it’s salinity is in question. In any case, either saltwater, freshwater, or both types of fish would die in a Great Flood situation, necessitating Noah to take them on his big ole cruise ship.
Those of you at DragonCon last weekend may have seen Mr. Gosnell dressed as Lobster Johnson.
This is edition is very quote heavy. Were it not, it would just be 7 pages of me saying, “Fuck this stupid ass shit.” So let’s start with 2 quotes, one from an historian and one from the coolest scientist ever:
The sudden enthusiasm for Fundamentalism in the 1920s is usually attributed to the “frightening” and sudden popularity of evolutionism. However, evolutionism had by then been around for more than half a century. Nothing more surprised mainstream America in the twenties than the discovery that millions still found evolutionism controversial. By the 1920s, most Protestant theologians had long ago made peace with the theory.
-Richard Shenkman, “I love Paul Revere Whether He Rode or Not”
If science is to progress, what we need is the ability to experiment, honestly in reporting the results– the results must be reported without somebody saying what they would like the results to have been– and finally– an important thing– the intelligence to interpret the results. An important point about this intelligence is that it should not be sure ahead of time what must be. It cannot be prejudiced, and say ‘That is very unlikely; I don’t like that’.
Can you guess the topic?
Well, I ranted a little on it last week, but there was a request for more. So f*ck it, let’s talk about the stupidity of Intelligent Design.
. . imagine a puddlea waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in. It fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well. It must have been made to have me in it!’
-the late Douglas Adams
I could fill up several pages worth of quotes about the folly of ID, several more pages refuting anything ID offers, and several thousand pages showing evidence for both micro-evolution and macro-evolution.
I am tempted to do just that.
But for now, let’s just start with what Intelligent Design is, and why the hell it makes so many people angry.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/ , here is what we are dealing with:
The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.
In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose….
ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.
So many things are wrong here. Improper use of the word theory, a straw man argument against evolution, an appeal to religion, some weird double talk about objectivity, and an admitted reliance on pattern recognition.
We’ll just talk about the Straw Man Argument for now. Evolution’s core claim is NOT that “the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.” NOWHERE in the theory of evolution does it eliminate the possibility of an intelligent designer. Evolution describes the method of natural selection. The Intelligent Designer (god) should be pretty close to omnipotent. Are you saying that he, she or it is incapable of using natural selection to his/her/its ends?
Natural selection can occur with or without God’s help. Science is about methods not motives. God is irrelevant.
Look at it this way. Science deals only that which is natural. (Natural as opposed to supernatural, not natural as opposed to artificial.) Were we to discover Sasquatch tomorrow, we would examine him as a natural phenomenon. People used to believe sunrises to be a supernatural thing. As things progress we see the natural processes that cause the sun to appear to rise.
An intelligent designer is, quite simply, besides the point. How would that help things? How would that help our understanding of the world? If the Intelligent Designer is out there guiding things what exactly is changed? The effects of his, her or its meddling would exist as natural phenomena. We study the phenomena.
Contemplating a theoretical supernatural cause for a particular phenomenon is the domain of philosophy and theology, not science. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any lab tests to prove or disprove the existence of gods.
Oh hey, these proponents of ID are also guilty of begging the question! (An aside: Begging the question does not mean “raising the question.” I see the two used interchangeably a lot. This must stop. To beg the question means to assume the answer.) You see, their argument assumes the existence of design to prove the existence of a designer. This is a logical fallacy. It’s not even sound philosophy.
Let’s also mention that humans have the ability to detect patterns where no pattern exists, be it hidden messages in white noise or records played backwards or what have you. Shermer has a good article on this thing over at Scientific American. Turn me on dead man!
Let’s see what else these ID fellas got (from the same site as before):
Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.
Translation: Modern science can’t quite explain everything. Stuff is complex and hard to understand. Therefore, God must’ve done it.
How is this positive evidence? This seems just like a piss-poor attack on evolution. Fine, we understand that you see flaws in the theory of evolution. But in science, we examine the flaws in a theory through observation and experimentation, then we refine that theory to match that work.
ID isn’t proposing this thing. Quite simply, ID is stating that some things are hard to understand, so we shouldn’t try to understand them.
Again, that ain’t science; it is lazy philosophy or possibly meta-physics for the ignorant.
How does pointing out alleged “problems” with evolution help to prove their “theory” anyway? Oh yeah, IT DOESN’T.
“Gravity is a weak force. The earth is heavy. Therefore the earth rests on the back of an elephant. These are the only two possible theories. Their theory relies on invisible forces. It cannot possibly be understood. Therefore mine must be right.”
This shit don’t fly.
Attempting to disprove your neighbor’s argument doesn’t make a case for your own.
Argument from numbers
ID supporters throw numbers at people to “prove” that certain things can’t happen by chance. “There is only a one in 10 billion chance that such and so would evolve in such a way.” This is terribly misleading argument.
First off, it assumes that rarity is equal to impossibility. In Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences John Paulos writes:
When one is dealt a bridge hand of thirteen cards, the probability of being dealt that particular hand is less than one in 600 billion. Still, it would be absurd for someone to be dealt a hand, examine it carefully, calculate that the probability of getting it is less than one in 600 billion, and then conclude that he must not have been dealt that very hand because it is so very improbable.
Secondly, ID’s ideas once again beg the question. this argument assumes design. It assumes that a simple form of life has a goal in mind when it evolves. This is nonsense. A species will mutate and adapt. If it the adaptation is beneficial, the mutated will survive and reproduce. If it isn’t they will die out.
ID proponents will look towards the species that are thriving and ignore the millions of species that are extinct due to “poor design.”
“The fossil record shows that 23 different elephantlike species, including woolly mammoths, have arisen and died out during the past 5 million years, victims of an inability to adapt to changing conditions. Only Asian and African elephants remain. If an all-knowing designer was responsible for that work,” [biologist Kenneth] Miller said to applause, “it’s distinctly substandard, because nearly every one became extinct. If you want to accept intelligent design, you’d damn well better account for the numerous examples of failed species.”
Finally, how does complexity imply design? Wouldn’t simplicity and efficiency be preferable to complexity? Wouldn’t it be easier for humans to either breath or eat? Why do they need to do both?
What’s so intelligent about our design?
Lets look at the intelligent design of the human being, allegedly made in God’s own image. Everything is beautiful. Everything has a function right?
What about… let’s see… the appendix? The tonsils? It seems like we can remove those things without really upsetting the apple cart.
What about toes? Why do we need 10? Why do we need any? Why do men need nipples? Ass hair? Is this really the best God can do?
It is a flawed design. Why have two kidneys, but only one heart? Why only two eyes? Wouldn’t it be a more “intelligent design” if we could see behind us?
Wouldn’t a more intelligently designed GI tract eliminate the need to defecate?
ID is crap. That is all I can really say. It offers nothing in terms of positive evidence. It isn’t science. It offers nothing to help science. ID cherishes ignorance and is a step towards Fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism is never associated with freedom or human rights. It is however associated with war, terrorism, and oppresion.
Stealing a closing from Richard Dawkins
Who better to steal from really? From here
Many evolutionary transitions are elegantly documented by more or less continuous series of changing intermediate fossils. Some are not, and these are the famous “gaps”. Michael Shermer has wittily pointed out that if a new fossil discovery neatly bisects a “gap”, the creationist will declare that there are now two gaps! Note yet again the use of a default. If there are no fossils to document a postulated evolutionary transition, the assumption is that there was no evolutionary transition: God must have intervened.
The creationists’ fondness for “gaps” in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.
Oh and watch the Episode of Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit” on ID.
As Promised: More Fun with Answers in Genesis
Ah ha! Leviticus is back!
Okay, so the first E-mail I sent those nice Answers in Genesis folk was this.
I have seen you cite Leviticus as the word of Jesus. Leviticus is a strange book.
For instance clams, oysters, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are abominations to God. 11:10-12 “And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:”
Handicapped people cannot approach the altar of God. They would “profane” it.
21:16-23 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.
Are these really the words of Jesus?
For God’s instructions for selling your brother for a slave, look to 25:39.
Basically, this is the main book I see cited, when homosexuals are harassed.
also in this book you are damned if you have a tattoo, piercing, accidently see a neighbor naked, look at a menstruating woman, eat anything with blood, observe times, round the corners of your head, mar the corners of your beard, etc.
And if that isn’t enough:
Anyone who blasphemes or curses shall be stoned to death by the entire community. 24:16
Is this really a book with which Christianity wishes to associate itself?
So the short answer from them, Yes!
For the long:
Thank you for contacting Answers In Genesis and for your comments
regarding the Old Testament book of Leviticus.
Leviticus 27:34 summarizes the book this way: ‘These are the
commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel
in Mount Sinai.’ A remarkable phenomenon in this book is the large
percentage of it that consists of verbatim quotations from God Himself.
These portions of the book have actually been divinely dictated as well
as divinely inspired.
The dietary restrictions in the 11th chapter of the book no doubt were
mainly intended for health and sanitation reasons, as well as ceremonial
applications. The latter uses have been removed in the present economy
(Acts 10:9-15; I Timothy 4:3,4), but the health and aesthetic factors
may still be worth consideration.
The sins described in chapters 20 and 21 are considered to be very
grievous sins by the Lord Himself. These sins were punishable by death
in order to maintain the holiness of the people as a nation set apart to
God (Leviticus 20:23-26). Whether or not such punishments should be
enforced today is controversial; it is at least obvious that God hates
There are many capital crimes listed in these chapters and others that
are not considered that bad in some modern “enlightened” nations.
However, it is noteworthy that other nations of the time had criminal
justice systems that were much more severe. The Mosaic law does not
include crimes against property or against the state, for example, as
capital crimes. The evils described here are either against God or
against the integrity of the families of God’s chosen people and had
already so contaminated the land of Canaan that God would not allow the
same to destroy His elect nation.
I pray this helps. God bless and have a great day!
Donna O’Daniel, M.Sc.
Answers In Genesis Ministries International
P.O. Box 6330
Florence, KY 41022
Answers in Genesis is a non-profit, Christ-centered, non-denominational
ministry dedicated to upholding the authority of Scripture from the very
first verse! Due to the volume of email that we receive, not all will
receive a response. Priorities will be set for replies.
The information contained in this e-mail message may be proprietary,
privileged or confidential, and is intended for the use of the addressee
and no one else. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify
the sender immediately by e-mail and delete all copies of the message.
You know, I for one have long followed such modern controversies. Should I stone somebody to death for swearing, or not. I mean this controversy is highly debated every election year.
I would make more comments on this, but frankly it would be redundant. There is an intrinsic level of humor that I don’t think I can match.