Re: virus: Making a monkey of Darwin (or Spot the Fallacy)

Duane Daniel Hewitt (
Tue, 8 Aug 1995 17:57:43 -0600 (MDT)

On Tue, 8 Aug 1995, Deron Stewart wrote:

> Deron Stewart writes, belatedly:
> Bashing Mr. Gairdner is a bit like mocking a child's ignorance to feel
> superior; so easy to do that one feels a little tainted afterward. He is not
> a worthy foil for intellectual debate.

There is a point here but to let such statements go unchallenged is
unwise. It just encourages more of the same.

> The danger is not that Herald readers will believe him -- they may, but they
> don't matter. The danger is that the scientific community censors itself
> because of the (quite justified) fear of being quoted out of context. The
> theory moves forward by focusing on the weaknesses of the current view and
> criticizing them with an eye to improving the theory. Let the detractors
> quibble and gloat over such crumbs, they are annoying but they don't matter
> in the end.

I don't know about that. If you cede to the Creationists the mass media,
you may find that research funding is suddenly being funneled to
"creationist science" since it is a legitimate alternative.

> The introduction to the Penguin version of the first edition of "The Origin
> of Species" makes the point that the first edition is the best, and that by
> the time Darwin published the sixth edition he had recanted many of his
> views in light of the criticism which was heaped on it by critics.

The same techniques can be used to pressure the Creationists. If the
absurdity of their assertions is illustrated effectively (through deft
memetic engineering) then they may find themselves digging their own graves.

Duane Hewitt