To: All Msg #36, Jan-13-93 08:00AM Subject: Re: Evolutionism as Cultural Imperialism Phill

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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: jgacker@news.gsfc.nasa.gov (James G. Acker) Message-ID: <1993Jan13.160016.7675@nsisrv.gsfc.nasa.gov> Newsgroups: talk.origins Phillip Johnson (philjohn@garnet.berkeley.edu) 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 : faith. I'm going to comment on this "pseudoscientist" paragraph. What characterizes "pseudoscience"? 1. A theory which is remarkably at odds with current scientific understanding. 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 dynamics. 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. Jim Acker jgacker@neptune.gsfc.nasa.gov : Phillip E. Johnson : School of Law, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720 :

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