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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site


[Write a Reply] [Letters Index]

Title Author Date
Academic Extinction Berlinski, David Apr 12, 2005

Dear TR --

Quite the contrary. I've already posted my remarks on The Panda's Thumb.
You may make them as public as you wish. I have no objections. By all means send them to The Daily Californian. Grammatical linguistic
maneuvers? I pointed out the plain meaning of what I wrote. There is no hidden gist. I quite understand that you -- and many others at The
Panda's Thumb -- read into my remarks a /specific/ accusation that was not there. Other readers did not. May I suggest that in this respect you took offense where no offense was given but failed to take notice where
notice was adverted. The gravamen of my complaint, after all, lay not with the misspelling of Dembski's name, which is, of course, an /example/ of the genre and not the genre itself, but with the fact that
rhetoric of this sort is considered acceptable. It is considered acceptable by /you/. Consider your own words: "The Panda's Thumb is dedicated to defending the integrity of science against all attempts to weaken it, distort it, or destroy it." The integrity of science?
/Dumbski, Berdumbski, how creationist suck/?

I would not dream of denying that TR very often runs intelligent and even perceptive articles about ID. Nor for that matter did I represent
TR as if the whole were captured by a part. I drew your attention to a fact. In the case of those stuntmen, it is not the quality of the
articles that is at issue but the way they are described. Entitling a section with the words The Art of ID Stuntmen is less vulgar but no less unacceptable than the practices that I attacked. If anything, ID proponents are sincere to a fault. In writing about the "unseemly methods used by many ID advocates in their attack upon science," you are
again assuming rhetorically the very burden of the task that it is your obligation to discharge analytically. I do not support ID, as you know, but I deny that you have done anything to demonstrate that their methods
are unseemly, especially when TR has hardly a remarkably record in breaking its glacial silence on unseemliness in other quarters, and I reject entirely the claim that ID is devoted to an attack on science.
The essays that you have run do nothing to support this charge. In the course of a letter explaining to me that you are entirely too pure to indulge in low attacks on your opponents, you have managed to indulge in a low attack on your opponent.

Related Articles: A Response to Berlinski

Title Author Date
Academic Extinction TalkReason , Apr 12, 2005
Dr. Berlinski:

While you are entitled to your opinion of Talk Reason or of any of its sections, it looks like your opinion is strongly colored by your anti-Darwinian passions making your judgment not exactly impartial. The title "The Art of ID stuntmen" is fully justified by the behavior of many ID advocates. For example, the essay by Elsberry and Perakh in that section documents many invidious actions by Dembski, Meyer, and some other ID advocates who routinely compare their opponents to Lysenko, Salem judges, the Taliban, Himmler etc. Another vivid example is Dembski's post to Amazon, where he promoted his own book disguising as an unbiased reviewer. There are many more examples of such not quite respectable behavior documented in articles posted in "The Art of ID stuntmen" section, which quite properly justify its title. One cannot fail to notice that while you are very sensitive to the insufficient (in your view) respect for ID champions on TR, you seem not to be concerned with the facts of the often not-very-respectable behavior of your ID friends. Frankly, we see no reason to continue this discussion, so no further replies from you are expected.

Best wishes,

Related Articles: A Response to Berlinski

Title Author Date
Academic Extinction Elsberry, Wesley R. Apr 13, 2005
I think that David Berlinski's point concerning "acceptable" rhetoric does not hold up to scrutiny. "Panda's Thumb" has a generally open comment system. The public can, and does, offer comments upon topical posts, as well as in an off-topic thread, "The Bathroom Wall". The rhetorical content of public comments ranges from the coarse to the profound. What do we generally find "unacceptable" at the "Panda's Thumb"? Illegal comments, for one. Offensive comments, for another. Yes, we who run the weblog determine what is "offensive". There are people who abuse the comment system, and we are working on ways to encourage those who leave thoughtful commentary and discourage -- or disbar -- those who habitually abuse the comment system. We, meaning those of us who are official contributors to the "Panda's Thumb" weblog, try not to interfere too strongly with the comment system. Let me note that we tolerate quite a bit of coarse rhetoric that is aimed our way, as well as that aimed at ID advocates.

Berlinski's complaint as amended by his letters shifts from an accusation against "Darwinian biologists" actually making coarse rhetorical jests at the expense of ID advocates to an accusation that the contributors at PT or TR tolerate coarse rhetoric aimed at ID advocates. Since at PT we pursue a generally open comment policy, yes, we do tolerate rhetorically dubious content there. As noted before, dubious rhetoric in public commentary has targets on all sides of the issue, and PT has tolerated copious helpings of such even when those targets have been our contributors. Contrast this situation with that of weblogs run by and for the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, which do not accept comments and have had critical trackbacks removed as well. Fortunately, the DI has lately become more tolerant of critical trackbacks.

As a contributor on PT and TR, I have my own views on the proper approach to dealing with rhetoric. I do take note of and comment upon matters that are plainly issues of rhetoric. I am sincere in my belief that the ID movement is one based primarily on social and political issues, and has only a distant secondary interest in scientific issues. I have put in the time and effort to take up and critique many technical claims of ID advocates on their lack of merit. I also point out the all-too-common lapses that may be seen in the rhetoric deployed by ID advocates, as in the essay that Mark Perakh and I wrote concerning the improper use of analogies ID advocates made of biologists being like Soviets and Nazis. And I certainly have no problem in being scornful of behavior in ID advocates that merits scorn. I don't intend to handicap myself by failing to comment upon the rhetoric of ID advocates. I find it amusing that ID advocates often fail to properly note the existence of the technical critiques while managing to take offense at the rhetorical arguments.
Related Articles: A Response to Berlinski