• My Attitude Toward Anti-Science

    I have recently been accused of being a ‘jerk’ towards those whose beliefs are different than mine.  Apparently, I am arrogant, short-tempered, and a know-it-all.  I also try to brow-beat others by mocking their point of view and mock them for not accepting whatever I say as truth.

    via http://cheezburger.com/5849720064
    via http://cheezburger.com/5849720064

    Nothing could be further from the truth…. well except for the arrogant and know-it-all part, but only about subjects that I’ve been studying for the last two decades.

    No, what you are seeing here is frustration.  I am massively and unbelievably frustrated.

    I am frustrated with every person who has taken high school biology and thinks that they know all the details about evolution and how it doesn’t work.

    I am frustrated with every person who has taken high school algebra and thinks that they can mathematically prove that evolution can’t have happened.

    I am frustrated with every person who coughs after eating a GM papaya and thinks that GMOs cause disease.

    I am frustrated with every apologist (of any stripe) who thinks that they are the first person ever to state an argument that destroys 150+ years of scientific effort.

    I am frustrated with every person who feels that their belief is somehow more important, valuable, or powerful than everyone else’s belief and all of them are better than reality.

    I am frustrated with every person who thinks “I don’t know” is an admission of complete failure on the part of me, scientists, and science.

    I am frustrated with every person who thinks that shoddy logic, analogies with no relevance, and quotes taken out of context are devastating blows to mainstream science.

    I am frustrated with every person who pays money for products and services that are known not to work.

    I am frustrated that these people believe that their religion gives them special authority over man, beast, and Earth and allow that belief to control the policy decisions for hundreds of millions of people, who may or may not agree with them.


    I’ve forgotten more about biology, particle physics, and paleontology that most people will ever know… and I’m a rank amateur when it comes to this kind of thing.  I’ve been arguing with creationists for two decades and the anti-vaccine and anti-GMO crowds since they appeared.  I bring tons of evidence to the table.

    I’ve got several hundred papers right here at my finger tips on everything from morphology of Cambrian athropods to satellite sensing of global temperature change.  I’ve read these papers.  I understand them.  When I don’t understand them, I ask for help.  I’ve e-mailed dozens of scientists and had some excellent discussions with some of them.

    I’ve heard it all before.  I can’t think of a single new anti-evolution comment I’ve seen since about 1996.  I’ve debunked most of them.  I take an inordinate amount of time and effort to examine each claim, find the evidence that debunks it, and publish an article (somewhere) that explains everything in detail and why the statement is wrong.

    And I do it over and over again.  Someone may think that they are deserving of me being polite and taking significant amounts of my time to explain why they are wrong (which they will ignore).  But I get tired of it.  Every reply has to be hand crafted, for all the sameness, they are different.

    But I have to do this again and again and again, because the one time I don’t is the one time it’s really, really important.  There may be that one person who realizes that they are being lied to.  There may be one reader, in that place, for whom I can make a difference.

    But for every person that I can make a difference for, there are tens of thousands who I can’t.  These are people so full of themselves, so steeped in their personal belief system that no amount of evidence and reason will turn them.  Sadly, these kinds of people have an unbelievable amount of control over others… and a completely sociopathic attitude to how they get their message across.  Nothing is forbidden if they can win a convert to their side.

    They may have cookies, but they couldn’t have made the cookies without science.

    So if I sound frustrated, angry, mean-spirited, please understand, it’s not me… it’s the people I deal with.

    Category: CreationismCultureGMOLifeReligionScienceSkepticismSociety


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • Virtually Sane

      Enjoyed this so damn much… ‘[B]ecause the one time I don’t is the one time it’s really, really important’.

      I’ve acted foolishly and have chosen Law for a degree. I can fight against religions getting their way with their disgusting, discriminatory and oppressive plans, but science is what REALLY attracts me and what really empowers one…. I feel it is too late to learn any of this, unfortunately.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        V (may I call you ‘V’?),

        If there one useful thing I’ve learned is that it’s never too late to learn. It may be too late to get a degree in a subject, but never to learn it.

        I probably won’t ever get a grad degree in science. I have a job (that pays very well) and a family to care for. I can’t take the financial hit that would come with going back to school.

        But that’s not learning. Find something that interests you and read. In pretty short order, you too will be digging through google scholar for PDFs, downloading a citation manager, and getting a subscription to Science or Nature. If science attracts you, go for it. If you need some suggestions for books, let me know what your interests are and I’ll see if I can point you to a few. Even if I haven’t read them, I probably know who to look for in terms of authors.

        • azportsider

          This is excellent advice. There’s an advantage in doing things this way, in that you get to pursue the things that particularly interest you, rather than what a professor thinks you should learn, or a graduate advisor wants you to do for her or his greater glory.

    • waldteufel

      Amen, brother. I feel your pain. Keep up the good fight!

    • Keith

      I agree, keep it up until you can’t. I enjoy your writings, both stylistically and content. I am also always appreciative of the lengths you go to to bring a sound and well reasoned counter.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      I promise this wasn’t intended to be a “I need affirmation” post.

    • Rob

      Good one: “I am frustrated with every apologist (of any stripe) who thinks that they are the first person ever to state an argument that destroys 150+ years of scientific effort.”

    • Doc Bill

      As I read your first sentence I thought you were describing me! I was going, “Yes, yes, yes, that’s so me, uh huh, yep.” Especially the mocking part. My rule is to be nice once then bypass all the other stages and go right to mocking.

      But for now I have to scuttle off to the kitchen and shove a giant ball of bird meat into the oven. Happy Thanksgiving everybody! (Except for the Disco Tooters.)

    • John Schlembach

      I feel your pain. Eloy Luna, one of those wonderful people who thinks that a set of inchoherent questions falsifies evolution. This of course, after he said that nothing can change his mind. It is very frustrating. He asked me to prove evolution one and I told that confirming 150 years worth of research in a single internet post was folly and he knew it. I pointed out that his questions to you made no sense and he took that as a victory.

      Thanks for kicking up some dust over there. Often times it feels like I’m the only one at VicAD making trouble.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        No problem. I wrote something of a letter to the editor in a similar vein. They called and asked why I was writing to the Victoria paper since I live in Central Texas.

        Keep up the fight and let me know if I can help further.

    • Jonathan Mackenzie

      If man and apes evolved from the same common ancestor millions of years ago, how come there are striking similarities in physiology, genetic makeup and even obvious facial features?

      No wait. I said it wrong.

      If man came from dust, how come there is still dust?

    • Concerned for Society

      Having had rabid conservative religious fundamentalists and anti-GMO nutters as family, I feel your pain.