Creationist Wisdom #223: Science is Pretentious

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana. We recently wrote about a creationist editorial in that paper (see Journalistic Derangement in Indiana).

The letter is titled What I believe. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and as we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city.

The letter begins by referring to someone’s earlier letter, which is probably this: Creationism is not science. It criticized the same editorial that we did.

Today’s letter-writer says he “couldn’t help but to make a few comments” about the earlier letter. Here we go, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:

I really don’t care to get into the who’s right and who’s wrong debate, I just know what I believe — and it can be summed up in the first three verses of the Book of John that starts with the words, “In the beginning …”

Now there’s a healthy scientific attitude! The letter continues.

To maintain that a theory — if arrived at by a group of educated people in white coats and ties should be beyond dispute, and anything else is just an “opinion” to use the words of the writer, seems rather pretentious to me.

That’s why creationists, like today’s letter-writer, always seen so humble when compared to scientists. Let’s read on:

I suppose this is the same “scientific theory” that in the last 50 years still can’t determine whether coffee is good or bad for us.

Yes, coffee has been a great embarrassment for evolution. Here’s more:

Or if finding a couple of bone fragments somewhere, and from that extrapolate a complete life form that walked the earth some 25 million years ago — or was it 50 million years (things get a little fuzzy after the first 10 thousand years). Is that the “verifiable evidence” we’re talking about?

Yup, that’s all there is. Oh, get this:

This argument will not be settled by man or science, but it will be settled one day.

Right, when all the “Darwinists” will be cast into the Lake of Fire. That’s the ultimate scientific test. Here’s how the letter ends:

And, by the way, I’ve been wondering, which is my closest relative, is it the mosquito, or an alligator? Please help me, I fail to see the resemblance.

Nice little letter. Too bad there are so few of them these days. Hey, there are comments after the letter. Some of them are rather good. Click over there and take a look.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #223: Science is Pretentious

  1. “And, by the way, I’ve been wondering, which is my closest relative, is it the mosquito, or an alligator?”

    I’m gonna go with the whiney blood-sucking gnat.

  2. I think this would be an insult to the blood-sucking gnat.

  3. I love the alligator question. What a nut.

    Here’s another one–at my university no less. http://www.technicianonline.com/viewpoint/evolution-theory-not-fact-1.2695837
    And she seems to be an education major! I’m in an education grad program.
    I have to say I found out about this one at Jerry Coyne’s site–you are the one I expect to post items from newspapers, not him. Here’s his take: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/only-a-theory/

  4. He needs to look closer. Just from what I read, he’s closer to a mosquito. What if he’s half alligator, half mosquito? That would disprove evolution.

  5. Lynn Wilhelm says: “Here’s another one–at my university no less.”

    I saw that one but left it alone because it was too pathetic. Also because it would have been irresistibly tempting to make sport of the girl’s appearance. So I passed it by.

  6. And she seems to be an education major!

    That’s not surprising to me.

  7. Also because it would have been irresistibly tempting to make sport of the girl’s appearance. So I passed it by.

    She looks pleasant and cheerful to me, I don’t see anything to make sport of. That she wants to educate our children, and will certainly get the opportunity, is sad to me and not hilarious.

    I’ve been doing some boat-rocking at my university. Everyone grouses that the students can’t do the math they are supposed to be able to do, or read properly. (One of my colleagues, frustrated that her students refused to read the text, made them read aloud in class. She stopped because it was humiliating to the students who couldn’t read.)

    As for me, anecdotes are not data. So I put together a set of math assessments and made my class take them. The results are far worse than anyone suspected.

    A short list of what the majority of my physics students cannot do, despite having graduated from high school and having had math through calculus:

    factoring
    cancellation
    multiplying both sides of an equation by the same thing
    identifying(!) the coefficients of a quadratic
    solving a quadratic
    identifying(!) the slope and intercept of a straight line that doesn’t have y or x in it
    working with exponents and roots
    natural and common logarithms
    derivatives of polynomials
    solving two linear equations for two unknowns

    I had a lot of complaints last semester because my exam average was too low. That is because my exams required them to be able to do algebra and calculus. Now I have the documentation to prove that they are doing badly on exams not because I make them too had, but because they do not have the bare minimum of skills necessary to participate in the class.

    Many of them are nervous now because they are seniors and want to graduate this semester, and are afraid they won’t.

  8. Gabriel Hanna says: “A short list of what the majority of my physics students cannot do …”

    I once could do all those things, certainly when I was a college freshman, but it’s been a long time. I’d flunk your test too.

  9. Lynn Wilhelm

    Because I had to relearn them recently to take the GRE, I can do some of the things on your list. I do not plan to teach physics if I can help it.

    I firmly believe that university professors ought to have a lot to say about public education. If secondary schools are not providing what you need, be vocal about it and let’s work to make sure such things are emphasized.

    Right now the trend in science is education is “inquiry-based”. This is great for getting kids excited about how science is done and what they can do. However, I don’t really think it can be used to teach everything. After all, they can’t do a couple of hundred years worth of science inquiry in one year/semester.
    In other words, they can’t find everything out for themselves, there’s just not time.

  10. Lynn Wilhelm

    And Curmie, I’ll bet you saw the Technician article long before Coyne did. 🙂

    I was sorry to read your comment about the writer’s appearance. What would that have to do with her writing?

  11. Lynn Wilhelm asks: “What would that have to do with her writing?”

    Nothing at all. So I didn’t deal with either.

  12. Well, Sir Curmudgeon, I can see you and raise you, I’m not a physics major, and now I’m retired from professing, I confidently can state that any test based on the stated criteria I’d expect to get 100 on. I’ve had all of my teaching career, the same problem that Gabriel mentioned. Consequently, comments about me in Rate your Profs were mostly negative. And before there was such a thing as the web… much the same.
    Not that the results I read some time ago were correct, but my personality was seen as excessively punitive, as if I enjoyed failing students. I figured that that was simply part of the game: It raised my opinion of my own profs, way back when. I felt the same about some of mine. Well, it didn’t do my carreer any good, especially since the emphasis on class evaluations became popular. I’m out of it now, due to a disability. as well as age.
    But hey, I can still do basic math!

  13. Bob Carroll says: “Well, Sir Curmudgeon, I can see you and raise you …”

    Just because I’m no longer fluent, I still have potential. About a year ago, because I was annoyed at not finding it on the internet, I spent way too much time one morning deriving the Lorentz transformation from the Pythagorean theorem. It was slow going, but I got there.

  14. I once could do all those things, certainly when I was a college freshman, but it’s been a long time. I’d flunk your test too.

    My students say the same. “It’s been two whole YEARS! How are we supposed to remember any of that?”

    Good point Lynn, that you can’t do 500 years of inquiry in a year of high school. Most of my students had a physics class where they shot rockets and dropped eggs and such, but they never had to do anything quantitative.

    Science and math by inquiry is I think a pernicious fad that is not responsible for the 40 year slide in student proficiency but it is certainly not helping and is possibly making things worse.

  15. Gabriel Hanna: “Science and math by inquiry is I think a pernicious fad that is not responsible for the 40 year slide in student proficiency but it is certainly not helping and is possibly making things worse.”

    As a retired jr. high science teacher, I’m in general agreement with Lynn Wilhelm’s and your comments concerning inquiry-based learning. However, it is useful — when used in moderation — to spark a student’s interest in science. And it’s most effective when combined with the math, especially at the jr. high level. Have them shoot the rockets and such, but only as an experiment where they gather the data, which the teacher then guides them through the math to do the graphing so they can visually understand the relationships between, say, force, mass, and acceleration.

    Maybe that’s not pure inquiry-based education, as some educators hold that the students should be left to their own devices and figure everything out for themselves. That might work for 5%, but a lot more lightbulbs flick on when there is some teacher guidance involved. After all, isn’t that what the teacher is being paid to do?

    Perhaps another explanation of the 40-year slide is that more “average” students are entering college today, whereas in the past only the top students would go on to higher education. Those top students are doing as well today as their counterparts did 40 years ago, but their achievement is “lost in the averaging”, so to speak.