Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now I know what they mean by "Not even wrong"

Warning. Watching these videos might induce intellectual comatose.

I've listened to lots of anti-evolution propaganda, but this junk makes William Lane Craig and Kent Hovind look like Nobel laureates.

Either they are deliriously incompetent, or unapologetically dishonest. They repeat that there are absolutely no transitional fossils over and over again. And say with authority that modern scientific evidence continues to disprove the theory of evolution. Believers in the theory do so because they want to live their nihilistic lifestyles without the guilt of god holding them back.

My favourite quote comes 8:40 into episode 5, "It's really not about convincing your intellect. It's about setting aside your pride and listening to your conscience."

Yes, truth is about trusting your gut. Gosh, the earth sure seems like it's the centre of the universe because I'm staying still and the heavenly bodies are all moving around me. It's obvious to me so it must be true. I won't worry my silly little intellect over all that data of planetary orbits around the sun. I'll just follow my conscience, because it knows best.

Science is hard. No one ever said that the laws of the universe have to be easy for you to understand. No scientist ever claimed that comprehending the theory of evolution was as natural as breathing. It takes effort to understand this stuff BECAUSE much of it falls outside of our common-sense experiences.

Here's another ripe quote from the videos.
The truth is the Bible is full of scientific facts. And the so-called science of evolution is the one that over time has proven itself to be the one that simply cannot stand up to scrutiny.
Redundant grammar aside, nothing could be further from the truth. People do not find predictions in the Bible, they find postdictions. That is, quotes that can be interpreted to be consistent with something already known. Example, Esaiah 40:22 mentions the "circle of the earth", and some take that to mean that the earth is spherical. However, a circle is not a sphere. The quote is also consistent with a flat pancake earth. Any similarity the Bible has to science is strictly coincidental, or a result of post-hoc rationalization and quote mining. (BTW - Muslims make the same claim about the Quran... see the comments).

On the contrary, I really like Steven Novella's recent quote,
In fact the entire history of human knowledge (factual knowledge about how nature works) is one of cultural beliefs (largely superstition or philosophy-based or simply quirky cultural history) being systematically replaced by science-based ideas. When we started to take a rigorous systematic look at nature with methods that control for bias we found that almost everything we believed about the world was wrong.
Finally, the videos do a pretty horrendous job of taking quotes from real scientists out of context. Well, here's a quote I got from the videos, "Evolution... is... true."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Arithmetic fail

My sister-in-law asked me to clarify this simple arithmetic expression.

The question is, do they mean

Or, do they mean

In the absence of brackets to clarify, mathematical convention would suggest that option (1) is the correct interpretation since the division symbol pertains to the first operand on its right. In our case, it's a 2. If they had intended option (2), then they would have to enclose 2(9+3) all in brackets, as in

The problem is we don't know the mathematical sophistication of the person who came up with the question. How many times have I seen a "skill testing question" that looks something like this...

Following standard mathematical convention, my answer would be 16.166666... But, somehow that's less satisfying than the unconventional answer of 3.