May 12, 2007
Hubris: Overbearing Pride or Presumption; Arrogance
This is the book I just finished reading. Personally, I thought it was a good, persuasive read, written more in the language of the common person rather than the thick, almost incomprehensible sludge of the researcher. By contrast, I'm still trying to work my way through this tome. Mr. Dembski does have a lot of interesting points, but my goodness, it takes some effort to get to them.
However, if you go to Amazon and read the reviews for the above book, you would be surprised by the vitriol and outright personal attacks posted. Some of the "reviews" are titled thusly:
"Intellectually Dishonest and Logically Fatally Flawed"
"Boring, Old, Redundant"
"Political and Incorrect Nonsense"
"A Designer is Not An Answer"
"The Reactionary Right Strikes Again"
"Science Through a Public Relations Campaign"
"Amazing!! But Only in the Worst Way"
"Just More Creationist Dishonesty"
"Lying to the Choir"
"Pseudoscience At Its Finest"
"My Mom's An Idiot. So is Jonathan Wells"
"Silly Close Minded Creationist. Science is for Thinkers"
And so on and so forth.
However, the most irritating, irrelevant "review" is the third one listed. This review doesn't talk much about the book at all, in terms of actually rebutting what it says; instead the author uses his space to attack people of faith, and paint them as subhuman imbeciles. He posts some studies (no links provided, conveniently) that purport to show religious people to be less intelligent.
The studies range from 1927 to 1980. Aside from the suspicious fact that there is no more current information, it seems to me that the earlier studies, especially, would be products of their era--that is, rife with prejudice. The first study states baldly that religiously conservative students "are, in general, relatively inferior in intellectual ability."
Excuse me? Besides not providing a definition of "religiously conservative," this seems to be the sort of sweeping generalization that a good scientist should be avoiding. Since I could not read the study for myself, I could not see whether actual IQs and/or GPAs were provided for study participants.
In any event, this sort of mean-spiritedness (another section of the so-called "review" states: "To be as blunt as possible, only a fool or someone hopped up on Jesus juice will find this book convincing, but then merely being a religious nut in the first place is a good indicator of low intelligence to begin with") does not belong in any sort of civilized discourse. I wonder if it would be acceptable to review a book written by a black person and post "studies" supposedly proving black people to be inferior in intelligence? Or review a feminist tome and post "studies" saying women are dumber than men?
If not, then Mr. N'krumah's "studies" should be regarded with the same kind of contempt.
Jonathan Wells makes the same sort of point in Chapter Seventeen of his book. The book is well documented (the endnotes take up forty-seven pages) and one of the links I followed led to this delightful article published in TCS Daily. In particular, I liked this section:
A reasonable observer might note that many ID advocates appear exceptionally well-educated, reasonable, and articulate; they might also note that ID advocates have pointed out many problems with the Darwinist catechism that even pro-Darwin scientists have been known to concede, when they think the Jesus-kissing crowd isn't listening. And yet, even in the face of a sober, thoughtful ID position, the pro-Darwin crowd insists on the same phooey-to-the-boobgeois shtick that was tiresome in Mencken's day. This is how losers act just before they lose: arrogant, self-satisfied, too important to be bothered with substantive refutation, and disdainful of their own faults. Pride goeth before a fall.
Durned tootin. Sometimes how you say something is just as important as what you say. A bit of humility goes a long way in getting people to listen to you. Too bad the above "reviewer" didn't take that into consideration.
In any case, I would recommend this book. I am in the process of finding other ID books to read, and I will report on them periodically.