Discoveroids: “We’re Not Crazy!”

A while back we wrote The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science, where we concluded:

Genuine science seeks to observe and explain the world in terms of mutually consistent, comprehensible, and verifiable principles that lead to testable observations. Creation science, on the other hand, seeks to describe an impossible reality in which Genesis is an accurate account of the world. In other words, creation science isn’t science at all — it’s a mental disorder. There’s no other way to describe it.

We are not alone in that conclusion. An article published in 2010 in Psychology Today by Robert Rowland Smith, Creationism as a mental illness, reaches the same conclusion. It’s brief and very good. Highly recommended.

The Discoveroids have just learned about Smith’s article (as did we, through them) and although they steadfastly insist that they’re not creationists, they are nevertheless offended. Their new article is Now Creationism Is a “Mental Illness”? It’s written by Stephen A. Batzer (we won’t make jokes about his name), who has contributed about ten articles to the Discoveroids’ creationist blog since 2010. He’s described in his first article (about a month after Smith’s paper was published) as:

… a forensic engineer with licensure in Michigan and Arkansas. His expertise includes the fields of materials selection, design, and failure analysis. Dr. Batzer frequently gives invited lectures and short courses on a variety of topics, to include evolution, forensic engineering, and expert witnessing. He has testified nationally regarding disputes large and small. He has over 60 peer-reviewed technical papers. He is currently an adjunct assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Batzer is a retired US Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance.

In other words, the adjunct assistant professor and forensic engineer has no background in biology. Here are some excerpts from Batzer’s Discoveroid article, with bold font added by us:

There truly is nothing new under the sun. In arguments, the same logical fallacies are committed again and again. Two textbook examples — “poisoning the well” and “false dichotomy” — are floridly on display in a single brief article from Psychology Today by Robert Rowland Smith

His title? “Creationism as a Mental Illness,” in which Smith indicates that creationism not only is “contrary to massive scientific evidence” but that — well, read that title again. He compares believing in creationism to suffering from psychosis and, for good measure, autism as well. So, Smith’s two errors are that 1) he poisons the well, demonizing those who disagree with him, going so far as to diagnose them as mentally ill, and 2) he divides all viewpoints on the question of origins into two camps: Bible-based creationists, and evidence-based scientists. Which is a false dichotomy, as if there were nothing intermediate or alternative to it.

Despite the Discoveroids’ endless claims to the contrary, there isn’t anything in between creationism and science. See Kitzmiller v. Dover: Is ID Science? Well, there are various flavors of creationism — young Earth, old Earth, flat Earth, and the Discoveroids’ allegedly non-religious “theory” about the wonders performed by an unnamed intelligent designer. But they’re all science-denying creationists.

Aside from that, we’re confused. If Batzer’s claim is that the Discoveroids aren’t creationists, then Smith’s article has nothing to do with him. Smith may as well have been talking about Moon-landing deniers. So why is Batzer upset? Let’s read on:

[T]he majority of Americans are highly skeptical of the Darwinian narrative, at least as it pertains to humans. Gallup has a running poll, asking respondents for their view on that topic. The opinion that humans evolved without any outside intervention consistently garners the least support, with the opinion that the human species was created providentially beating unguided evolution by 5:1. What a blow to science! Not to mention our national pride. A full 78 percent of the population is mentally ill!

Science isn’t done by popular opinion polls, and if the public is ignorant about evolution, it’s not a “blow to science.” It’s an educational failure and a national embarrassment. He continues:

Maybe some introspection is warranted for Smith and his allies, since heaping scorn on your enemies clearly isn’t doing the job. Perhaps it is time to spend more time discussing and debating with opponents and less time poisoning wells.

Yeah, we’re the ones who are Poisoning the well. Never mind the Discoveroids’ incessant repetition of their dishonest and disgusting mantra that Darwin is responsible for Hitler. There is no reason to debate such people — see Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism.

The rest of Batzer’s article is his advice to Darwinists, gleaned from his experience as a witness testifying in court. Hey, Batzer — thanks for the advice. To show our appreciation, here’s some friendly advice from your Curmudgeon: Instead of ranting that the “Darwinists” are well-poisoning and using false dichotomies, consider the possibility that Smith may be right.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Discoveroids: “We’re Not Crazy!”

  1. It’s revealing what our intrepid erstwhile colonel of bombshells doesn’t say. If fully 78% of Americans denied general relativity’s account of gravity as spacetime distortion in favour of our planet keeping things at its surface by suction, the scientific community would be equally justified in writing that majority off as ignorant, and, after having explained it for the umpteenth time, as mentally deficient.

  2. Religious belief is the common cold of delusional disorders.

  3. There may be a need to clearly separate the motivations of the lay-people who are the intended audience of this kind of big top propaganda from from those of the lobby groups and speech writers who are the source of it.

    To lump the motivations behind P.T.Barnum’s sociopathic maxim A Sucker Born Every Minute together with the those that allow the Suckers to suspend disbelief, may not be helpful.

    There has been far too much method to their madness to simply write the DI off as a bunch of crazy hicks. Their willingness to leverage mysticism in pursuit of political and economic gains should be a clear indicator of the DI’s actual, premeditated, maliciously parasitic intent.

  4. Dean says: “There may be a need to clearly separate the motivations of the lay-people who are the intended audience of this kind of big top propaganda from from those of the lobby groups and speech writers who are the source of it.”

    Definitely. I’ve written about that before: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Opposing Creationism.

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    The Discoveroids provide this bio sketch of Batzer: “

    He is currently an adjunct assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Batzer is a retired US Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance.

    The degrees of professor-ness in the “faculty” classification are usually more simply labeled as “instructor” , or “adjunct instructor” for a non-tenure track position. Then for the tenure track , where actual professors live, it usually goes “assistant”, then “associate” (indicating achievement of tenure), next just plain “professor” , followed by “distinguished” professor if the department is trying to kick an old geezer in his dolthood upstairs where they can’t so easily bother the people trying to get some actual work done.

    Someone not on the faculty but associated with the department is usually given a staff designation. “Research Associate” or “Secretary” for example.

    There is something strained in that string of adjectives the DI places in the vicinity of “professor” Batzer. When the DI uses the phrase “adjunct assistant professor Dr. Batzer” , it seems a bit more than necessary for a US scholar.

    Of course if the DI were in Germany, they might legitimately introduce Batzer as: “Herr Professor Dr. Dr. Batzer,” if Doktor Batzer were a full professor with a second PhD.

    Anyway, the University of Arkansas web site gives the academic status of Batzer as: “Professional Assistant I”, classification “Staff”

  6. Well, yeah, 78% of Americans believing in some form of creationism doesn’t refute the science of evolution. But it does cast a shadow on the idea that any creationistic belief is a mental illness. Even in a place as nutty as the US, I’d hesitate to say that everyone who answered in favor of creation in a Gallup poll is a nut-case.

  7. The D.I. seems like they are in the process of shedding their disguise of claiming an unknown intelligent designer and all but admitting they are young earth creationists.

  8. CP: good detective work. Add this to the long list of phony degrees and titles of creationists. Other fake creationist “professors” include David Barton (called “Professor”) by Glenn Beck and Ian Juby.

    “Professor” Batzer can only say that 78% of Americans are “creationist” if creationism is defined so as to include Intelligent Design and any doubting of evolutionary theory.

  9. A metal illness doesn’t mean that someone is a nutcase. Afterall we all know people who are narcissists, or paranoids to varying degrees. Creationism is no different.

    In the case of creationism it’s a form of delusion and selective narcissism.

    Also the 78% number is inflated. According to the Gallop Poll:
    46% believe that humans were created in there present form.
    32% Believe that evolution is true but god had a guiding hand.
    The creationists are yet again lying by omission and claiming support that they don’t actually have.

  10. Maybe someone with a copy of DSM V can better illuminate, but my layperson understanding of ‘delusional disorder’ is that it isn’t a simple matter of holding false beliefs that land you with that diagnosis (and one must doubt if there is a single individual on the planet who doesn’t hold at least one belief or two that is ‘false’). ‘Delusional disorder’ is indicated when one continues to hold a false belief no matter how much evidence to the contrary is made available, and in the absence of any confirming evidence. And if that doesn’t characterise the vast bulk of Creationists, I don’t know what does.

  11. anevilmeme suggests

    The D.I. seems like they are in the process of shedding their disguise of claiming an unknown intelligent designer and all but admitting they are young earth creationists.

    Well, it was always a pathetically thin disguise (Luskin’s endless claims that “ID is not Creationism” belongs with Clinton’s denials of involvement with Monica Lewinsky and O.J. Simpson’s ‘not guilty’ plea)–but I really don’t think the Disoveroids are “young earth” Creationists. They just ain’t that stupid.

    But–what is worse–it seems pretty clear they would be happy to see Young Earth Creationism generally promulgated as an aid for their Dominion Theocracy, and would be delighted to see a priestly hierarchy ruling over a world of superstitious Biblical-literalist serfs; otherwise, they wouldn’t have such a quarrel with ‘theistic evolution.’

    For the DI, absolutely any form of Oogity-Boogity is to be preferred over even the faintest whiff of empiricism.

  12. Smith: “Those who believe this myth to be the truth are in a state of denial.”
    Batzer actually has a point, although not exactly the one he thinks he makes. The RCC has accepted evolution since the 1950’s and still believes the Adam and Eve myth to be the truth – just not the scientific truth. So Smith presents a false dichotomy indeed.
    This argument is based though on the statement that evolution and christian belief can be combined – something no Discoveroid can accept. Still, like Balzer, I don’t give an SRD for Smith’ “psychological analysis” – that one form of pseudoscience contradicts another doesn’t make either of them any better. It’s crap and I’m pretty sure, Curmudgeon, if some IDiot had written “the ostrich which, as danger approaches, buries its head in the sand” you would have reacted with something like

    I’ve told you before – for scientific skepticism you need more than anti-creationism. Not every single enemy of creationism is necessarily your ally.

  13. To clarify my earlier point, I will grant that hard core zealous creationists are likely suffering from a mental disorder or two. But I think labelling the “casual” creationists as having a mental disorder is mebbe a bit of an overstatement. I’d say they could probably be better described as having Confirmation Bias

    This isn’t a disorder – it’s a clinically demonstrated observation that human beings tend to cherry-pick our data to support our beliefs – and that the data we get first tends to hold more weight and bias us against contradictory data.

  14. @ceteris paribus.

    i wouldn’t be too hard on the guy for his claimed title. that may be what his ua badge says. i was given the same academic “rank” at one time. i do agree it’s a little ridiculous to use that title in his credentials.

    as to the idea that creationists are suffering from a mental disorder, i agree with many here that such a view may be a bit extreme. it seems to fit some of the hard core creationists well but not the average church going rube who never have his pastors statement a second thought.

  15. @TJW: “i was given the same academic “rank” at one time.”

    What rank? Adjunct assistant prof? I never heard of that.

  16. Diogenes says: “Adjunct assistant prof? I never heard of that.”

    Don’t knock it. It’s way above being an adjunct assistant visiting lecturer.

  17. Ah, the vagaries of academic titles. Many universities seem to make them up on the fly. They also do a pretty good job with administrative titles, e.g. assistant associate vice provost for research. At Pepperdine, the head volleyball coach is a tenured full professor [I believe he has an EdD] whereas a non-tenure track physics PhD professor is a visiting assistant professor.

  18. @diogenes

    yes. adjunct assistant professor. i did part time work in the general pediatric clinic at a university hospital. that was my official title. it would more appropriately have been something like ‘clinical instructor’ but that’s what my badge and appointment letter said. as opposed to the discoveroid I never advertised it as some sort of special credential giving me authority in a field in which i had no training.