I’m in a bit of a bind? Should I dignify ID blog posts with critiques?
As I point out frequently: Intelligent Design is an insult to human intelligence and is absolutely not science. It’s just, well, stupid. There are some highly visited ID proponent blogs out there. I visit them from time to time, though always on an empty stomach. Whenever I go, no matter how much I mentally prepare myself and no matter how many deep breaths I take before hand, it still hurts to read their inanities.
There are a few regular occurrences that one can count on when visiting an ID blog. Firstly, they will present a finding which they claim to be a slam dunk case against Darwinism. Then they will go spouting off about how the scientific community will ignore this finding because they are dogmatically committed to their theory (evolution, which by the way is also a historical fact), will claim that evolution never had any evidence for it and is fueled simply by ideological dogmatism, and that the scientific community has some sort of vendetta against ID. What’s truly ridiculous about this is that what they are saying is completely untrue of Darwinian evolution and completely true of Intelligent Design theory. It is the ID that is based on no evidence—how much great evidence can really be counted on when they don’t have any testable hypotheses or statements that don’t just boil down to arguments from ignorance? It is the ID camp that sweeps evidence against them under the rug. They have been making the same old tired points for years despite the many times over they have heard rebuttals for them. They talk about irreducible complexity as if it was brilliant demonstration of the limits of Darwinism. They have heard IC completely torn to shreads, showing it to be nothing more than an argument from ignorance that is buttressed by mock ignorance of evolutionary biology knowledge that any mid-level evolutionary biology undergraduate would be well aware of. No matter how many times they hear the rebuttals—and they shouldn’t have needed to hear the rebuttals in the first place because Michael Behe, the man behind IC, has a PhD in biochemistry—they just keep on making the points again the next day to a fresh audience, as if the points had never been rebutted. Next, to say that evolutionary biology is rooted in ideological rigidity is the height of ridiculousness for two very obvious reasons: 1) The undeniable monstrous aggregate of evidence for evolution; and 2) Wow! Devout Christians are calling someone else ideologically dogmatic! And science no less! That is simply mindblowing idiocy and deceit. And lastly, when it comes to assuming a vendetta, again it is they who have the vendetta. They simply do not like evolutionary biology and science because it shows their theistic beliefs for what they are: senseless drivel.
Next, they will act as if presenting an argument against standard scientific views (e.g., evolution) qualifies as a de facto argument in favour of Intelligent Design. Lets be clear about this: even if somehow every bit of evolution were to be completely falsified—which would rip the roof off of science given the incredible amounts of evidence that would need to be disqualified and/or reframed—Intelligent Design theory (and hear theory really is “just a theory”) would still be stupid. It would still be nothing more than a baseless argument from ignorance.
And lastly, if the article is written by O’Leary, it will contain roughly 10 links to one of her handful of blogs…
So here is the dilemma. Do I make visits to their blogs and comment on their articles discussing how ridiculous they are? On the one hand, it would be good to show the readers of TFP the ridiculousness of this religious movement masquerading as science. It would also be good to have one more set of rebuttals available online to curious right wingers. However, there are also many good reasons not to rebut the posts—and at this point, I am far more compelled by the reasons to not respond than to respond (I guess the dilemma has moved closer to resolution during this writing). Firstly, they’re not going to change their minds. You could shut them right down and they’re just gonna get up tomorrow morning and keep on doing what they do as if they had never heard boo. Secondly, by engaging in discussion with them it creates the illusion of an actual controversy, thereby giving them far more credibility than they deserve—which, by the way, is none. Thirdly, by commenting on their posts I will help increase traffic to their sites by providing additional links to them—I definitely don’t want to help them in spreading their gospel.
For these reasons, I have decided, unless I am given good reason to the contrary, to not go through their blogs and picking apart their postings. If any of you for some reason feel compelled to go look at their blogs—it’d probably be worth doing once or twice just to see it for yourself (kind of like a trainwreck or Ground Zero, you wish it had never happened but since it did you just gotta see it)—when you’re reading their posts keep the points of this post in mind and see how quickly they are verified. When you’re evaluating their “scientific arguments” ask yourself “is this an argument from ignorance?”, “is this actually an argument against evolution?”, and “if this were to be a valid argument against evolution, would that matter at all for the case for an intelligent designer?”.
My fellow skeptical blogger Larry Moran, University of Toronto Biochemist, has a name he uses when referring to Intelligent Design proponents: IDiots. While I don’t use the term very often myself, it is quite the fitting nickname.