We recommend that before you proceed further, dear reader, you should unplug your irony meter and encase it in thick shielding. What we’re about to discuss is more than the device was built to handle.
At the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog you’ll find this gem: Science Untethered from Evidence. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger.
The graphic above this post is in Klinghoffer’s honor. But the glorious irony here — although he seems blissfully unaware of it — is that Klinghoffer is actually slashing away at the Discoveroids. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Biology largely retains its faith in the unguided Darwinian mechanism, despite mounting evidence against its power to generate complex life forms.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, we have “faith” in evolution, despite the “mounting evidence” against it. Lordy, lordy. What evidence is he talking about? The only way that sentence could make sense is if it were flipped around to say that in spite of zero evidence to support their claims, the Discoveroids have faith in the existence of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — and in his numerous unseen and unnecessary activities.
But that was just the beginning. The threat to your irony meter is yet to come. Klinghoffer says:
Is it any wonder that this insouciance would rub off on neighboring fields, with offices just a floor above or below in the Science Building? … So we see how the commitment to Darwinian evolution — in defiance of the evidence, adhered to as a defense against theism — has rubbed off, indirectly, on physicists.
Now the Discoveroids are attacking physics? Well, not yet. They’re still primarily focused on evolution, but all of science will eventually be targeted. Let’s read on:
I don’t mean that physicists are crossing the frontier between disciplines to take up the Darwinian banner itself, but they are showing signs of the same casual attitude to evidence, and with similar motivations.
Following this? The Discoveroids — of all people! — are criticizing physicists for being casual about evidence. Klinghoffer continues:
A fascinating piece in the New York Times by astrophysicist Adam Frank and physicist Marcelo Gleiser describes “A Crisis at the Edge of Physics.” They ask, “Do physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?”
This is what he’s talking about: A Crisis at the Edge of Physics. It’s an opinion piece about something we all know — that some fields of interest to physicists, e.g., string theory and the multiverse, are so far only speculation, because there’s no hard evidence to support them. The authors ask:
How are we to determine whether a theory is true if it cannot be validated experimentally? Should we abandon it just because, at a given level of technological capacity, empirical support might be impossible? If not, how long should we wait for such experimental machinery before moving on: ten years? Fifty years? Centuries?
Recall the epicycles, the imaginary circles that Ptolemy used and formalized around A.D. 150 to describe the motions of planets. Although Ptolemy had no evidence for their existence, epicycles successfully explained what the ancients could see in the night sky, so they were accepted as real. But they were eventually shown to be a fiction, more than 1,500 years later. Are superstrings and the multiverse, painstakingly theorized by hundreds of brilliant scientists, anything more than modern-day epicycles?
The authors of the Times article don’t offer a solution. Instead, they provide a frank but polite discussion of the issues (they’re talking about their colleagues, after all), and the article is certainly worth reading. This is nothing new. The Wikipedia article on String theory has a section on Criticism. So does their article on the Multiverse — see Criticism.
But Klinghoffer has his own interpretation of things. After a big quote from the Times article, he says:
Note the telling language. Imagining a multiverse “could help solve some deep scientific conundrums about our own universe (such as the so-called fine-tuning problem), but at considerable cost.”
The authors of the Times article describe that cost, but they don’t say that they approve of it:
Namely, the additional universes of the multiverse would lie beyond our powers of observation and could never be directly investigated. Multiverse advocates argue nonetheless that we should keep exploring the idea — and search for indirect evidence of other universes.
That’s a good description of what the Discoveroids do regarding their magical designer, but Klinghoffer finds it an appalling idea when some physicists do it. He says:
The conundrum, cosmic fine-tuning, is a problem for materialists because it points to intelligent design. The cost is asserting a scientific idea untethered from the available evidence. For many in the field of physics, the cost is worth it if it seems to dissolve the conundrum.
Let’s flip that around:
The conundrum, evolution, is a problem for creationists because it doesn’t require intelligent design. The cost is asserting a non-scientific idea untethered from the available evidence. For those of us at the Discovery Institute, the cost is worth it if it seems to dissolve the conundrum
Klinghoffer is deliciously oblivious to the fact that by criticizing string theory and multiverse theorists, he’s literally criticizing himself. His final paragraph continues in the same manner:
If a scientific idea provides a weapon to ward off theism, then grab it and hold on no matter what nature itself seems to demand that you conclude. Where have you heard thinking like that before?
Where have we heard that before? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’ll flip that one around too and you’ll know where you heard it. The part we put in quotes comes from the Discoveroids’ own Wedge Document. Hey, Klinghoffer, does this sound familiar?:
If a mystical idea like intelligent design provides a weapon to promote a “theistic understanding of nature,” then grab it and hold on no matter what nature itself seems to demand that you conclude
So there you are, dear reader. Without realizing it, Klinghoffer has criticized everything he and his Discoveroid comrades have ever written. The irony has never been better.
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