Once again we are given an unintended peek behind the curtain of the neo-Luddite, neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
The Discoveroids’ latest post is In The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell Explains the Inability of Disorganized Systems to Effect “Design”. It’s by David Klinghoffer, whose creationist oeuvre we last described here, and upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist. His name has some of the resonance of Red Skelton’s Clem Kadiddlehopper.
Klinghoffer says, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:
An email correspondent brings to my attention a delightful article from The New Yorker that Malcolm Gladwell wrote a couple of years ago. Gladwell’s subject is the way people have wildly overestimated the power of social media to bring about significant change. Remember all the hubbub, from journalists in the West like Andrew Sullivan, about how Twitter was responsible for fueling revolutionary fervor in Iran and Moldova? Gladwell delights me because he confirms my longstanding skepticism of such “outsized enthusiasm” for computer-related novelties.
What does an apparently frivolous article about Twitter have to do with anything? Bear with us, it gets better:
Why do I bring this up here? Because Gladwell’s fine reporting also tends to confirm a point that Darwin doubters will find familiar. He analyzes activism like that of the Civil Rights movement, that effects revolutionary change, and shows how it depends, among things, on a hierarchical organization, a top-down vision of the kind that social networks by definition lack: [quote from Gladwell].
The chatter on Twitter is non-hierarchical, but Klinghoffer and the Discoveroids like hierarchies — they get things done. He quotes his new guru, Gladwell:
Facebook and the like are tools for building networks, which are the opposite, in structure and character, of hierarchies. Unlike hierarchies, with their rules and procedures, networks aren’t controlled by a single central authority. Decisions are made through consensus, and the ties that bind people to the group are loose.
Hierarchies have rules and procedures. That’s good, because it promotes tight control. He quotes Gladwell again:
Car companies sensibly use a network to organize their hundreds of suppliers, but not to design their cars. No one believes that the articulation of a coherent design philosophy is best handled by a sprawling, leaderless organizational system. Because networks don’t have a centralized leadership structure and clear lines of authority, they have real difficulty reaching consensus and setting goals. They can’t think strategically; they are chronically prone to conflict and error. How do you make difficult choices about tactics or strategy or philosophical direction when everyone has an equal say?
You know where this is going, don’t you? Klinghoffer isn’t very subtle. Here it comes:
Designing complex artifacts (e.g., a car) is a task for which leaderless networks are particularly poorly suited. “No one believes” otherwise, writes Gladwell. No one believes such a thing [design by leaderless networks], I would add, other than advocates of Darwinian evolutionary theory.
Ah yes, only Darwinists are foolish enough to reject the necessity of hierarchies. Let’s read on:
Darwinism is an idea predicated on the creative power of a process (evolution) entirely without “leadership” or “goals,” without purpose or guidance, fueled precisely by “conflict and error.”
See? According to Klinghoffer and his new mentor, Gladwell, Darwinists are fools! Nothing gets designed without hierarchies. Here’s his conclusion:
If the network model is so bad at “design” in the human realm, why expect it to be any better in the realm of evolutionary history? Darwinism is a notion, like the current rhapsodic excitement for social networking, that is due in the end to be corrected and tempered by reality.
There you have it — Klinghoffer’s declaration that evolution is absurd because design requires an authoritative hierarchy, headed by the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who is empowered to make and enforce the necessary decisions. Evolution is as ineffective as Twitter.
The only problem with Klinghoffer’s proposition is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. A quick look at the Wikipedia article titled Open source reveals a whole world of things that are designed and improved in a non-hierarchical manner. It’s not just internet resources like Wikipedia, Firefox, and other open-source products that are mentioned in that article, there are also open-source hardware products and a vast array of Commercial open source applications.
Additionally, aside from corporate research projects that are assigned from above, the whole enterprise of science is an open-source activity — and even corporations are part of it. Despite Discoveroid fantasies of a vast, centralized, mysteriously-controlled conspiracy that is determined to suppress their brilliant insights about the magic designer, each lab and its scientists operate essentially on their own, publishing their work, and cooperating in voluntary associations of people with similar interests. The results are nothing less than spectacular.
In contrast, religious organizations tend to be bound by an unalterable dogma, and they often ruthlessly expel those who don’t follow their doctrines. Oh, we should also mention that unless they hire artists and architects (who could do their work elsewhere), such hierarchies don’t design or produce anything.
The Discoveroids have an inherent preference for hierarchies, and they don’t like or even understand the idea of uncontrolled activities — like evolution. They don’t like you either, dear reader. If something isn’t controlled, it’s bad. Now you know the Discoveroids’ mindset — thanks to Klinghoffer.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.