Klinghoffer: “I Don’t Need Intervention!”

This is entertaining because it not only shows the Discoveroids on the defensive, but this time they’ve really been insulted. We’ve seen them react like this before — for example: Discoveroids: “We’re Not Crazy!” Poor guys. It seems they’re always being insulted, bullied, misunderstood, disrespected, lobbied against, expelled, etc. Now a psychologist thinks they need help.

Today’s defensive whining at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is from David Klinghoffer, their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. His latest is: Story Time: Psychologists Show How to “Suppress” Children’s Intuition of Design in Nature. He says, with bold font added by us:

I don’t know whether this is outrageous, hilarious or simply very telling. Probably all three. The Wall Street Journal salutes the research of Boston University psychologist Deborah Kelemen. She has discovered that it’s possible with Darwinian storytelling to suppress common sense in children of the kind that leads them to recognize artifacts of intelligent design in nature.

This is the article that has upset Klinghoffer: See Jane Evolve: Picture Books Explain Darwin. It’s very good, and well worth reading. You’ll see that, contrary to Klinghoffer’s introductory remarks, it doesn’t quite say what Klinghoffer suggests. Here’s a small excerpt from the Journal article to show you what it actually says:

Scientific ideas always challenge our common sense. But some ideas, such as the heliocentric solar system, require only small tweaks to our everyday knowledge. We can easily understand what it would mean for the Earth to go around the sun, even though it looks as if the sun is going around the Earth. Other ideas, such as relativity or quantum mechanics, are so wildly counterintuitive that we shrug our shoulders, accept that only the mathematicians will really get it and fall back on vague metaphors.

But evolution by natural selection occupies a not-so-sweet spot between the intuitive and the counterintuitive. The trouble is that it’s almost, but not really, like intentional design, and that’s confusing. Adaptation through natural selection, like intentional design, makes things work better. But the mechanism that leads to that result is very different.

Intentional design is an excellent everyday theory of human artifacts. … Even babies understand that human actions are “teleological” — designed to accomplish particular goals. In earlier work, Dr. Kelemen showed that preschoolers begin to apply this kind of design thinking more generally, an attitude she calls “promiscuous teleology.”

Babies begin explaining things by using “promiscuous teleology” — that’s good! Now that we know what Klinghoffer is attacking — it’s Dr. Kelemen’s way to correct the very thing he’s defending, which Kelemen regards as baby thinking. Let’s read on to see what Klinghoffer says:

The Journal notes that quite apart from religious instruction, kids are primed to see life as reflecting “intentional design.” It’s intuitive. The corrective is to catch them at an early age and train them to see things in a Darwinian light.

Klinghoffer gives us a big quote from the Journal about how a fictional animal with a fictional mutation is used as an example with children to explain the concept of evolution by natural selection. He doesn’t like teaching such ideas to kids. He claims:

There are a number of interesting points here. First, that the example of natural selection is fictional. …. Second, it is decidedly in the micro-evolutionary realm — a kind of evolution that no one disputes, certainly not advocates of the theory of intelligent design. … The extrapolation from such a trivial thing into the origin of all species and all biological complexity by unguided natural processes is a cheat.

There’s a comforting consistency in the way they cling to their institutional dogma — a year ago we wrote Discoveroids Dance the Micro-Macro Mambo. Klinghoffer goes on to quote a lot and complain a lot, but we want you to read it all for yourself, so we’ll give you only one more excerpt:

The initiative to program children is repeatedly referred to as “intervention,” a term used in psychological counseling to refer to an attempt to thwart counterproductive, dangerous thoughts or behavior. The intuitive response of human beings, seeing design in nature, is implicitly compared to destructive patterns of abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, and the like!

Calm down, David. There’s no reason why you should take any of that personally. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

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24 responses to “Klinghoffer: “I Don’t Need Intervention!”

  1. Stephen Kennedy

    In science, what is intuitive or appears to be common sense does not always lead to the correct theory. In Physics, experiment and observation have shown that quantum mechanics and relativity are better theories than classical mechanics for understanding how the Universe actually behaves in all circumstances, but the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics are certainly not intuitive and often seem to defy common sense.

    When learning science one has to realize that the theory that is most likely to be correct is the one that best agrees with the evidence, not the one that is more intuitive. If the Discoveroids do not know this, it demonstrates that their understanding of science is extremely superficial.

  2. Gee, Klinghoffer, I wish I could comment to you directly on your website. But since the DI doesn’t allow comments there, I’ll write my comment to you here, because I know you read Curmie’s blog religiously. Or at least, so it seems — you really enjoy being insulted, don’t you?

    Anyway, all I want to ask you is this — how much are you being paid to write this stuff? You are obviously a very intelligent person, and yet you continue to write in defense of such childish ideas that are contrary to what we can clearly see is the nature of reality.

    It’s understandable how your conscience allows you to do this. You’re a lawyer. A lawyer gets paid to defend his client, even though in his heart he knows the client is guilty. Similarly, you are being paid to defend creationism (which is what it truly is, although you prefer to call it “intelligent design”), even though your intelligence tells you it is mythology.

    Some lawyers can continue working this way; others can’t. I have a fraternity brother who was a very successful criminal defense attorney. The fact that he could help even the most guilty client beat the rap finally got to him, and he just quit. Walked away from an extremely lucrative career as a lawyer and pursued other interests. He had a conscience, and he knew what he was doing was not making the world a better place.

    So, David, how much are you being paid to ignore your conscience?

  3. I like how the deceitful, lying, odious Klinkletinkle blows off the heliocentric solar system as “easy to understand” when, in fact, it is one of the most counter intuitive, difficult to prove concepts around. Children only “understand” the concept because that’s what they’ve been told all along. Proving it is another matter and that wasn’t done until 18-something.

  4. retiredsciguy, I don’t think Klinghoffer is a lawyer. And when done properly (I’m excluding lawyers who are crusaders against “the system”), it’s honorable for a lawyer to defend a criminal. The state has the obligation to prove guilt, and it’s the job of the defense to make sure the state does its job properly.

    On the other hand, not every “theory” is entitled to be treated with respect. Some are totally goofy. There’s no honor in defending creationism.

  5. Our Curmudgeon notes

    I don’t think Klinghoffer is a lawyer.

    Correct. He’s a hack.

    Less charitably, one might be tempted to say, “Kilinghoffer is not even a lawyer”…

  6. Oops, I’m ‘Anonymous’, above.

    Or maybe also Spartacus….

  7. docbill1351

    I am Spartacus …

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    I find the WSJ article a poor representation of the science, and makes several statements that rile up folks like Klingy. For us curmudgeonites, I think the subject of the source research is of more interest, which seems to be what Klingy picks up on, too. Basically there is a psychological need that by default sees intent in design, therefor creationism is supported by an early childhood learned behavior.

    Retiredsciguy, it sounds like you are a travelling man?

  9. I don’t know where I got the idea Klinghoffer was a lawyer; I thought I read it here. Oh, well. Still, the question holds — how much is he being paid to write this stuff?

    And the part about my fraternity brother walking away from a law career is true, although I have to take his word for it concerning his reasons. True, an attorney has the legal obligation to do his utmost for his client, and it is an honorable thing to do as well. But it was just tearing him up inside, and he had to do something else. Perhaps Klinghoffer will have a similar awakening of conscience one day, and write the book, “Confessions of a Recovering Discoveroid“. The world would be a better place.

  10. Charles Deetz: “Retiredsciguy, it sounds like you are a travelling man?”

    Retirement has its benefits. But how did you know? Are my comments geo-tagged?

    Actually, we don’t travel all that much. We live in Indiana, but spend some time in winter at an inherited mobile home in Florida. We’re currently in transit, spending time with friends in Cincinnati.

  11. retiredsciguy confesses: “I don’t know where I got the idea Klinghoffer was a lawyer; I thought I read it here. Oh, well.”

    Casey is a lawyer.

  12. Retired Prof

    It’s true that teleological thinking comes naturally and that it’s a hard habit to drop on both individual and cultural levels. It’s what caused our forebears to conclude that the sun, moon, and planets were gods, and that they caused storms, earthquakes, and so forth. I had a colleague in a different department (philosophy) whose admiration of Aristotle amounted almost to worship. He maintained that modern science needs to incorporate more of Aristotle’s ideas, to add a dash of teleology. He said science needs that. I never enjoyed the kind of intellectual fencing he practiced, so all I said was, “No, Bob, it doesn’t” and let the matter drop.

    He never mentioned Intelligent Design explicitly. I bring him up only to establish that some of our very well-read contemporaries carry around that mind-set, even outside the Discovery Institute.

  13. Retired Prof says: “It’s true that teleological thinking comes naturally and that it’s a hard habit to drop on both individual and cultural levels.”

    Yes. I lie awake all night asking myself: What’s the meaning of it all? There has to be a purpose!

  14. SC: “Casey is a lawyer.”

    Ah. Thanks. Guilt by association.

  15. @retiredsciguy You want K. on our side?

  16. WSJ article says: “But some ideas, such as the heliocentric solar system, require only small tweaks to our everyday knowledge. We can easily understand what it would mean for the Earth to go around the sun, even though it looks as if the sun is going around the Earth.”
    I think that’s very misleading.
    Suppose I’m a child and the question arises, “Why is there day and night?”. So I answer, “Light comes from the sun, and I see the sun rise in the morning, move across the sky and set in the evening, so the sun goes round the earth and that explains day and night.”
    Then Mr or Ms Scientist tells me, “The earth goes round the sun.”
    Well, I’m a bright child, and I think, “Ms Scientist also said that the earth is a ball, so, yes, that would work. At noon, my side of the earth is facing the sun, during the afternoon we move round the sun and it looks as though it’s sinking and setting, and so on.”
    And IIRC, surveys show that some adults believe that the earth goes round the sun every day.
    If someone claims that the sun goes round the earth, the answer is not that the earth goes round the sun, but that the earth rotates. That leaves going round the sun free as an explanation of the seasons.

  17. @JimR: you illustrate an important point here. To answer the question “why is there day and light” assuming the Sun goes around the Earth is an excellent hypothesis. It’s other empirical data that makes it troublesome.

  18. @jimroberts I fully agree with you that that is misleading. The change from geocentrism to heliocentrism was not a minor change. It’s big deal, for example, to accept that this Earth is flying through space. It’s a big deal to realize that the Earth is like Mars. Also, I agree that one should distinguish between “the Sun goes around the Earth” (vs. the daily rotation of the Earth on its North-Pole-South-Pole axis) and denial of “the Earth goes around the Sun” (vs. the annual revolution of the Earth in its orbit).

  19. SC says to retired prof regarding teological thinking
    “What’s the meaning of it all? There has to be a purpose”
    Well, if the Klinger were dyslexic and agnostic
    he’d have to lie awake at night wondering if
    there really is a dog .
    Also, there would be the whole
    what is the meaning of it lla thing for him to work on.
    Easier just to call people names and tell lies.

  20. Sing along everybody with Klingy:

    “We don’t need no intervention
    We don’t need Darwinistic control
    No evilution in the classroom
    Hey, scientist, leave them kids alone”

  21. Hey BlackWatch . . . . have you heard about the new women’s organization?


    . . . . . . Mothers Against Dyslexia . . . . .

  22. Casey is part of the 98% of lawyers that give the other 2% a bad name.

  23. BlackWatch – add ‘insomniac’ 🙂

    And would someone direct the Klingon to 1 Corinthians 13:11?
    “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

  24. Mark Germano: “Casey is part of the 98% of lawyers that give the other 2% a bad name.”

    We are now even in the “coffee on the keyboard” department!