Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pseudo-mathematician David Berlinski on whale evolution

In 1999, Justin Kruger and David Dunning published a paper titled "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1999, Vol. 77, No. 6. ] 121-1134). Among their interesting conclusions was this:


We propose that those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.


David Berlinski is a Philosopher specializing in mathematics (at least this is concluded by judging his actual published work - I am unable to find any actual peer-reviewed mathematical contributuions - or any other for that matter) and bashing science, who probably became best known for writing verbose, pompous articles for conservative magazines. One of his targets is evolution, which, of course, he calls "Darwinism," and as a 'senior fellow' with the anti-evolution Discovery Institute, he occasionally takes the time to bloviate about how evolution cannot be.

Of late, he has beein in a video in which he 'concludes' that whales could not have evolved from cows, and his primary argument is that he counted - yes, counted - the supposed differences between whales and cows and they are, darn it, just too many! He claims to have stopped at 50,000. As was pointed out by a commenter at Pharygula, counting 1 characteristic per second would have required 14 hours, and it is unlikely that Berlinski actually sat around contemplating the supposed differences between cows and whales for 14 hours. And I don't think it is necessary to actually point out that nobody actually claims that whales evolved from cows. Nor that Berlinski doesn't actually provide a list of his 50,000 differences, but he does display his ignroance of basic biology (expressing disbelief due to the fact that many of these changes would have to be "coordinated" with other changes and so on) and his ability to set up silly and dishonest strawman arguments to prop up his fantasies (among which seems to be his importance in world affairs).

But, that 'truth-seeking' organization, the Discovery Institute, saw no problem hosting such a ludicrous, supercilious, deceptive/dishonest video. And why would they? It is anti-evolution, and none of its target audience will bother to see if any of the implicict claims are accurate or menaingful.

A philosopher prattling on about evolution.

Kruger-Dunning data point.

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update:
And if Berlinski actually took a whole 10 seconds to ponder and write down the 50,000 differences he dreamed up, it would have taken him 5 days... nonstop.... 24 hours each day...
What a liar...
Biochemist Larry Moran takes Berlinski to task also...

5 comments:

Daniel said...

You, sir, are a moron. What evidence do you have of Berlinski's incompetence? He was a post-doctoral fellow at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY in mathematics. Simply because YOU were too incompetent to find whatever articles he wrote on the subject is no reflection on Berlinski's credentials as a mathematician. Come back when you actually have facts to back up your ignorant claims. This is a typical technique used by evolutionists: accuse your opponent of being stupid so you don't actually have to debate him.

There are such things as estimates, and fifty thousand is by no means an unrealistic assessment. Mathematics has been rich with dissenters from evolution as early as the 1960's, so Berlinski isn't the first one. Why does it take a non-evolutionist to actually ponder the mathematical implications of YOUR theory? Some things are simply impossible, and without rigorously testing your ridiculous belief, how do you even know that it's possible?

Doppelganger said...

Hi 'Daniel',

What an informative comment, complete with stunning insight and relevant knowledge you left. And did I mention the fallacious reasoning you employed?

Let's take a look:


You, sir, are a moron. What evidence do you have of Berlinski's incompetence?



Starting right out with namecalling? How conservative of you.
My evidence is the fact that Berlinski's entire arguement is a strawman. Nobody has suggested that whales evolved from cows.

Since Berlinski didn't seem to understand this, maybe you can benefit from his dishonest stupidity by looking at something easily found on the internet, like this for example.

Apparently you didn't see the links I provided explaining this?


He was a post-doctoral fellow at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY in mathematics.

Oh, well, how could he possible be wring about ANYTHIING???


That is relevant to his claim about whale evolution how?
Are you aware of the concept of fallacious argumentation?

You should be, for you just made a fallacious argument.


Simply because YOU were too incompetent to find whatever articles he wrote on the subject is no reflection on Berlinski's credentials as a mathematician.


I commented on his silly claims regarding whale evolution.

You may feel free to worship the pompous egomaniac called Berlinski, but I will not join you.


Come back when you actually have facts to back up your ignorant claims.


Come back?

This is MY BLOG.
How about you don't come back until you grow some sense?

This is a typical technique used by evolutionists: accuse your opponent of being stupid so you don't actually have to debate him.

What's to debate?

He'd claim he counted 50,000 differences between whales and cows, thus, evolution is impossible. I'd point out that nobody claimed whales evolved from cows.

I'd win, he'd be exposed as the pompous blowhard he is, but mouth-breathers like you couldn't handle that.

There are such things as estimates, and fifty thousand is by no means an unrealistic assessment.

Really?

Do tell - name for me 1,000 differences between whales and cows. Then please explain to me how those differences are impossible to explain evolutionarily. You can even use math, if you'd like, but I will want to hear your biological explanation.

And Berlinski didn't say he estimated the 50,000, he said he came up with that many.

Mathematics has been rich with dissenters from evolution as early as the 1960's, so Berlinski isn't the first one.

You must mean the Wistar meeting?
Wow, another uninformed creationist...

So tell me again why I should care what a mathematician thinks about evolution?


Why does it take a non-evolutionist to actually ponder the mathematical implications of YOUR theory?

You're right. I guess nobody involved in evolutionary research ever considered math.



Some things are simply impossible, and without rigorously testing your ridiculous belief, how do you even know that it's possible?




Yes, it is impossible to find an actual informed creationist on the internet.
How is my "ridiculous" belief impossible?

Do tell, with your amazing mathematical insights. I mean, when you can tear yourself away from dominating the world...

Doppelganger said...

Sorry Daniel - or is it "Ricky" (how old are you?) -

your response was unworthy of consideration.

When you grow up and move out of mommy's basement, myabe you can try again.

Until then, please - no more right-wing stupidity and hero worship.

Doppelganger said...

And one more thing Ricky/Daniel - Ionly a paranoid fruit would consider clicking on your name "tracking you down".

Then, right-wing creationists are known for their weak grasp of reality and their paranoia.

Doppelganger said...

That is to say, Daniel/Rickey = Richard Alexander, the patheitc chap who claims that because he did well on the ASVAB and the SATs that he has more scientific literacy than most fo the population....