To: All Msg #36, Jan-13-93 08:00AM Subject: Re: Evolutionism as Cultural Imperialism Phill
From: James G. Acker
To: All Msg #36, Jan-13-93 08:00AM
Subject: Re: Evolutionism as Cultural Imperialism
Organization: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD USA
From: email@example.com (James G. Acker)
Phillip Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
: * * * "It does not follow that creationists are wrong, or
: that they deserve the label "pseudoscientist" merely because
: their theories are not ones that those outside their churches
: would find plausible. Someone who believes that Genesis is, in
: effect, an eyewitness account is bound to seek other explanations
: of biological and geological data than other theorists do.
: Outsiders like myself may prefer to doubt the premise, but that
: too is not a scientific decision. It is not unscientific even to
: maintain one's trust in the eyewitness when we cannot resolve the
: apparent contradictions between that testimony and the rocks'.
: Plenty of now-fashionable theories were maintained in the teeth
: of evidence and unresolved paradox because the theorists had
I'm going to comment on this "pseudoscientist" paragraph.
What characterizes "pseudoscience"?
1. A theory which is remarkably at odds with current
2. Evidence for the theory which is not directly related
to the phenomenon under study. Examples: Christian creationism: the
Bible used as scientific evidence. Von Daniken: Heiroglyphics (big
and small). Velikovsky: mythology.
3. Limited attempts to reconcile current scientific
knowledge with the pseudoscientific theory. Example: Genesis 1
listing of events with the geologic record.
4. Strident criticism of uncertainties in current
scientific knowledge as if these uncertainties refuted the entire
structure of the theory. Examples: Creationism - definitions of
transitional forms, macroevolution. Ginenthal - Venusian atmospheric
5. Large gaps in the pseudoscientific theory requiring
suspension of basic scientific laws. Examples: source of the flood
waters in Genesis, planetary movements out of accord with Newtonian
physics by Velikovsky.
6. Continual protestations that the pseudoscientific theory
is being ignored by the scientific community, and should be presented on
an equal basis with current scientific knowledge.
Those are the basics of "pseudoscience". One is not a
pseudoscientist just by holding a belief that is at odds with current
scientific knowledge. One is a pseudoscientist when the above
characterizes the presentation of the belief.
Furthermore, fringe theories have become accepted when those
who believed in the theories played according to the scientific rules
(not the pseudoscience rules), and finally accumulated enough evidence
to change the paradigm (appeal to Thomas Kuhn). Examples: Wegener's
continental drift, which became plate tectonics; the catastrophic
flooding in Washington state, which formed the "channeled scablands."
Finally, pseudoscience is not science, and thus does not
belong in a curriculum of science.
: Phillip E. Johnson
: School of Law, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank