13 August, 2009

An Inconvenient Fact

Lately, I've been highly entertained by the Unscientific America wars. To bring those who haven't been enjoying the carnage up to speed, matters stand thusly:
  1. Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum wrote a gawdawful book claiming scientists and the New Atheists are responsible for America's woeful scientific ignorance.

  2. They got their bottoms paddled for being such egregious idiots.

  3. They're now sniveling, blacklisting their critics, and studiously ignoring every request to stop being such fucktards.
Instead, they've been running around writing inane editorials trying to defend the indefensible.

Coyne elegantly dispatches their latest effort:

1. The “new atheists” have been on the scene for exactly five years, beginning with Sam Harris’s The End of Faith, published in 2004. But American’s attitudes to evolution have been relatively unchanged (with 40+% denying it) for twenty-five years. This means two things:

a. American illiteracy about evolutionary biology cannot have been due to criticism of religion by the “new atheists.”

b. The dominant strategy of scientific organizations engaged in fighting creationism over the past twenty-five years has been accommodationism: coddling or refusing to criticize religious people for fear of alienating those of the faithful who support evolution. This has been combined with incessant claims that science and religion are perfectly compatible. This strategy has not worked.

2. M&K have repeatedly noted that religious people have a problem with evolution because of religion, and yet they bray incessantly that religion is not the problem: it’s those pesky new atheists. Here is what they say about my criticisms of the National Center for Science Education’s (NCSE) “Faith Project”:

In this, Coyne is once again following the lead of Dawkins, who in “The God Delusion” denounces the NCSE as part of the “Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists,” those equivocators who defend the science but refuse to engage with what the New Atheists perceive as the real root of the problem — namely, religious belief.

And of course they claim that such criticisms are mistaken and counterproductive.

So I will say this to Mooney and Kirshenbaum one last time, without hope that they’ll absorb it or even respond to it: the strategy you suggest has not worked. We’ve been making nice with religion for decades, and America remains as “unscientific” as ever. We don’t just perceive religion as the root of the problem, it IS the root of the problem. Even you, Mooney and Kirshenbaum, must admit that.
Not that they will. They've got their story and they're sticking to it, facts be damned. And in a way, this is a good thing. The best thing about Unscientific America is how it's caused those two to get their asses thoroughly kicked by folks far smarter than them.

1 comment:

Efrique said...
This comment has been removed by the author.