When you have no argument

Resort to an ad hominem or strawman.

It really is that simple. This must be such a universal “rule of thumb” that there must be a section in Genesis which tells people to do it. (This would also nicely explain why so many of the offenders are devout theist cranks)

Anyway, to kill a quiet Sunday afternoon (avoiding my research tasks), I visited UncommonStupidity (not an ad hominem, I am not saying their arguments are false because they are idiots – the two are co-incidental) again. Today I was rewarded with a piece about how Darwin was “anti-Irish” (amusingly titled “Darwin and the Irish … again“). If you are doing a course in logical arguments or similar, then check this out. It is an online example of how many logical inconsistencies and fallacies you can cram into a single blog post. I am sure this is a record – even by UncommonStupidity’s standards. This time it is O’Leary taking up the keyboard and he begins:

Apparently, one of the Thumbsmen has claimed that Bill Dembski overstated/misstated (or whatever) Darwin’s contempt for the feckless* Irish, with their endless stream of brats (combined, of course, with his approval of the thrifty and allegedly cautiously procreative Scot).

Which is hilarious, because contempt for the Irish was part and parcel of Darwin’s Brit toffery – a social code everyone in those days understood. The Potato Famine, when so many thousands starved to death within easy reach of abundant food exported from Ireland, would be incomprehensible apart from it. Indeed, I heard its fell echoes a century later, as a child in a far distant land.

No, Dembski did not misquote Darwin. Darwin meant exactly what he said. The problem is that what Darwin meant is incompatible with the theory he is famed for advancing.

With a start like that, you just know it is going to be good. Obviously O’Leary (good old Irish name, eh?) has a special insight into what Darwin actually thought and, equally, finds it valid to view his opinions from the comfort of 21st century society and our values. Maybe his intelligent designer provides this insight… Anyway, this line of nonsense progresses to:

Either natural selection produces survival of the fittest (Spencer’s term, quoted with approval by Darwin as a suitable description of the main point of his theory) or it does not. But Darwin believed – irrationally – that the Irish were both most likely to breed and succeed and less fit, and therefore a menace.

Wow. I told it was a good start. Now, the actual opinions of Darwin aside, “survival of the fittest” is not the “scientific” way of discussing evolution. It is a buzz word people use to try and explain things to the layperson. It happens in science all the time. For example, e=mc2 is an approximation of the proper theory because the full details are fairly complicated.

Another “failing” of the theistic argument is the combination of Science and Morality. A scientific theory does not have to be “morally” acceptable to an arbritrary social system. The two talk about different spheres of existence. If Darwin was contemptous of the Irish – so what?

O’Leary seems to really miss the point about what natural selection is and how it works, and sadly the potatoe famine acts as an example that artificial circumstances can allow large populations which are not “fit” to grow. (All this is comensurate with the science)

All in all (I can not be bothered addressing the other logical inconsistencies), this is another example of UncommonStupidity trying to show “evolution” is incorrect because Darwin was not a nice person. Sadly, theists are used to an idea hinging on a single individual’s values and remaining unchanged for thousands of years. In science this really is not the case. Will they ever get the idea?

[tags]Darwin, Evolution, Science, Philosophy, Logic, Intelligent Design, ID, History, Creationists, Creationist Fools, Woo, Crackpot[/tags]

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