Count the Discoveroids’ Fallacies

This should be an interesting exercise for you, dear reader. At the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog, with no byline, they’ve just posted this: You Have to Be Conscious to Deny Consciousness, and Other Conundrums. Here are some mind-bending excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Would you have a rational discussion with a zombie? Materialists are forced into the position of discussing philosophy and science with the walking dead, since under their terms we are all that. Unless rationality is a mindful concept — unless we are more than atoms in motion — that’s the logical result of denying mind and intelligence.

Most of you recognize their appeal to mind-body dualism. We discussed it in one of the earliest posts to this humble blog: Discovery Institute Revives Mind-Body Dualism, and a few months after that we wrote: Mind-Body Dualism: It’s Back!

This is fun, huh? Another excerpt:

To deny that we are mindful creatures, the materialist also has to deny the existence of any realm of abstract concepts that a mind can access. Yet materialism itself is an abstract concept. This seems intuitively obvious, but it’s amazing how often materialists ignore the self-refuting nature of their assumptions.

Yes, it’s amazing. Let’s read on:

Nancy Pearcey [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!] wrote about this a few months ago, noting ways in which materialist claims commit the self-referential absurdity: “Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.”

Is there a formal name for the fallacy of referring to Pearcy? Skipping their lengthy criticism of a published paper, the Discoveroids then say:

By contrast, intelligent design is not self-refuting.

Possibly not. Neither is the claim that Zeus reigns on Mt. Olympus. But what does either of them do for you? Here’s more:

One must also presuppose consciousness and free will to determine if a statement commits the self-referential fallacy. To prove this, we leave you with a choice to work the following logical exercise. You can quit now, or proceed. (Is that choice yours, or is your hunter-gatherer instinct controlling you?) If you choose to continue, look at any or all of the following statements and decide if they are self-refuting by posing a question referring back to the claim. We’ll do the first three as examples. Have fun!

Here’s a partial list of the Discoveroids’ list of “logical exercises.” They provide parenthetical clues for the first three:

• Everything is relative. (Is that absolutely true?)

• Question everything. (Should we question the advice to question everything?)

• Only particles and forces exist. (Is that statement made of particles and forces?)

• All is illusion.

• Name-callers are idiots.

• People are really zombies.

• It’s impossible to know anything.

• Only statements derived empirically are valid.

• Everything evolves.

Okay, that’s enough. It may be that the Discoveroids have persuaded you that immaterial phantasms exist in your head to assist you in your thinking. If so, then you have no choice but to conclude … what? We’ll leave the answer as a final challenge for you.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Count the Discoveroids’ Fallacies

  1. It takes an intelligent agent to deceive. Whatever we infer from nature, we know that nature has not been acting with the intent of deceiving us. We know that super-natual agents can purposely deceive us – whether Puck or Satan. Remember the saying of Einstein that his concept of God – nature – can be subtle, but not malicious. We can be mistaken when dealing with the natural world, but we are helpless in dealing with an omnipotent agent intent on deceiving us.

    So much for the supernatural conclusion of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. If a supernatural agent has purposefully presented us with false evidence for evolution which overwhelms our created capacity for reasoning, who can trust that supernatural agent?

  2. Really gets annoying that all the IDiots resort to gobbledy-gook, mental gymnastics and straw-grasping in their quest to convince everyone that their designer exists. “Evolutionists,” on the other hand, have mountains of what is very easy to understand EVIDENCE.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Is this post from the DRI … Duplicitous Rhetoric Institute? I see no science here, which is a fallacy for a scientific organization.

  4. I think paraphrasing IDiot much more fun.

    “Would you have a rational discussion with an IDiot? Materialists are forced into the position of discussing philosophy and science with the brain dead, since under their terms they are all that. Rationality is a mindful concept — mind consisting of atoms in motion — that’s the logical result of denying mind and intelligence as IDiots put in practice.”

    “By contrast intelligent design is self refuting, because you need to switch off all relevant intelligent faculties before you can become an IDiot.”

    “The Grand Old Designer is an illusion.

    Adherents of Intelligent Design are IDiots.

    IDiots would really be zombies if that weren’t an insult to the logical skills of zombies.

    It’s impossible to know anything about the Grand Old Designer.”

    Isn’t it remarkable how much more sense this suddenly makes?

  5. Charles Deetz😉 says: “I see no science here”

    That is an immaterial conclusion! You couldn’t have done that without help from beyond!

  6. I love it when people with little or no brain power ask paradoxes!
    As one philosopher stated ‘paradoxes do not exits in reality only in the use and misuse of language.’

  7. The rhetorical aims of such straw man arguments seem to be, as the Curmudgeon identified in the Discoveroid piece, to imply that therefore only the dualist, supernaturalist accounting of things is correct. This carries on a long tradition of creating a straw man of the natural scientific position. I ran across this the other day with a blogger commenting on the Charleston shootings. He wrote:

    How could a materialist [makes sense of the tragedy]? One bag of atoms interacted with nine bags of atoms. The atoms aren’t even destroyed, just altered. Where’s the tragedy? Where’s the wrong that makes it a tragedy? What does wrong weigh? What’s the atomic number of tragedy? What instrument measures moral outrage? Is it measured in feet, or in pounds?

    Take a look at the above quote simply re-written for the dualist/ supernaturalist and see if it fares any better:

    How could a non-materialist[make sense of the tragedy]? One bag of atoms animated by a magic ghost interacted with nine other bags of atoms animated by magic ghosts. The magic ghosts weren’t even destroyed, just sent to another place. Where’s the tragedy? Where’s the wrong that makes it a tragedy? What does wrong weigh in magic ghost pounds? What’s the magic ghost number of tragedy? What magic ghost measures moral outrage? Is it measured in magic ghost feet, or in magic ghost pounds?

    In these straw man scenarios, nothing is intelligible. The irony, though, is that one doesn’t have to misrepresent the supernaturalist position in order to render it absurd.

  8. Besides, everyone knows that you measure souls in ounces anyway.

  9. Mike Elzinga

    The ID/creationists’ understanding of science doesn’t even reach the high school level; and neither does their understanding of philosophy. Most students taking Advanced Placement Philosophy in high school would not be prone to such silly nonsense.

  10. docbill1351

    If you like straw men, you’ll love cell phones!

    Here’s The Egnorance waxing lyrically about how the mind is like a cell phone and God is ATT, er, Verizon.

    In other news there were two terrific pieces about the brain on NPR last week. One involved implanting false memories electronically in the brain. A subject was asked to visualize a common object, the Eiffel Tower, and the neuroscientists noted what parts of the brain “lit up.” They then asked the subject to visualize something else, say, Jennifer Aniston (if it had been me, they would have had to use fire extinguishers on their equipment, just saying.). They then implanted a new memory by stimulating the various neural paths simultaneously (I probably have simplified this too much) and created a new memory of Jen at the Eiffel Tower.

    Another report was about what happens when one goes unconscious during anesthesia. They watched a low frequency, 1 Hz, brain wave start to move across right at the point the person went under. What they hypothesize is that the low frequency wave disrupts the zillions of “conversations” between bundles of neurons in the brain. The brain doesn’t stop working, rather, communication is disrupted.

    The “mind” and consciousness as an emergent property of zillions of neuron bundles having a party makes eminent sense to me. To the Disco Tooters, and Egnorance in particular, the idea of thinking meat scares the [edited out] out of them because then they wouldn’t have souls or be special and then they can haz a sad.

  11. docbill1351

    Besides, everyone knows that you measure souls in ounces anyway.

    I was going to say, “Only in Dover,” but they’ve gone metric so that joke stinks like a 3-day old dead fish.

  12. “By contrast, intelligent design is not self-refuting.”

    Possibly not. Neither is the claim that Zeus reigns on Mt. Olympus. But what does either of them do for you? – Curmudgeon

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Wishing and wanting something doesn’t imply that it’s out there for the having, something the ID crowd just doesn’t get. Their inability to outline an actual formal line of inquiry into their professed field of expertise just shows how bereft of science their thought process continues to be. It’s real simple: you can’t do anything concrete with faith other than possibly enjoying the meditative benefits of a quiet prayer. To assume that you’re having a useful discourse with your designer is the ultimate illusion.

  13. Well, we already knew that the Discoveroids’ grasp of Science fell far short of Junior High School level.

    Now we see that their other musings don’t even approach Freshman Philosophy 101.

    Maybe they’re good at sports?

  14. Maybe they’re good at sports?

    Even if they were they still wouldn’t score with the cheerleaders.

  15. waldteufel

    Never supporters of rational thought or intellectual honesty, the Discoveroids continue their slide into oblivion.

    As to Megalonyx’s wondering about the possibility of the Discoveroids’ potential in sports — they may rise the level of athletic supporters one day.

  16. No byline on this word salad? It sure sounds as if it was written by Professor Irwin Corey. Who knew he’s now at the Discotute?

    A question for the IDiots — how does any of this in any way refute, let alone disprove, evolution? At any rate, we live in a material universe. Oh, there might be an immaterial spirit permeating the aether, but there is absolutely no way to detect or sense it — after all, if it exists, it’s IMMATERIAL! But then if it’s immaterial, it doesn’t exist. DI, your entire concept of an Intelligent Designer is self-refuting. Didn’t think of that, did you?

  17. Would you have a rational discussion with a zombie? Materialists are forced into the position of discussing philosophy and science with the walking dead, since under their terms we are all that. Unless rationality is a mindful concept — unless we are more than atoms in motion — that’s the logical result of denying mind and intelligence.

    To quote Maury Chaykin from the movie Hoero, “Did you ever hear so much nonsense, bull***t and drivel from someone who’s not even the president?”

    Seriously, even if we assume a nonmaterial “mind and intelligence,” that proves nothing about evolution. The Creator (blessed be He!) might allow evolution and, at His discretion, add in “mind and intelligence” bit by bit among the way. And that’s without even addressing the issue that mind might be a consequence of matter even if it is not material.

  18. SC asks: “Is there a formal name for the fallacy of referring to Pearcy?”

    Appeal to ignorant(s).

  19. Dave Luckett

    The nub of it is here:

    “Unless rationality is a mindful concept…”

    Rationality is a mindful concept, but that doesn’t mean that the mind is caused by something immaterial. What is proposed is a false dichotomy.

    It really is as simple as that. The hook from which the DI hangs this entire puff-piece isn’t there at all.

  20. The allegedly nonmaterial or separate mind is amazingly affected by the condition of the meat part. Drugs alter moods, perceptions, judgement, etc. Electrical stimulation can implant memories (as mentioned above) and even make people feel the presence of unseen beings. High fever can cause delirium, resulting in fantastically real but completely false experiences. Brain injuries and strokes can dramatically affect mental processes and even personality. Some people see colors in sounds, and other strange things. Then there is Alzheimers.

    If mind is separate from body, none of the above would happen. IDiots can spin whatever pseudo-philosophical tripe they wish, but none of it is grounded in evidence. That would be so, like, materialistic.

    Here is a “logical exercises” for the Discoveroid list.
    – Supernatural designer(s) exist which create material life forms, alter material objects such as DNA molecules, and may have created the entire material universe – however the same supernatural designer(s) cannot be studied by science because they do not affect material objects (such as instruments) in a way that can be detected.