Monday, January 14, 2013

Evolution is False - Hoaxes

Someone decided to list 10 reasons why evolution is false. I decided to go through them. Here's my list addressing them so far:

10. Pagan Origins of Evolution
9. Planetary Habitability of Earth

Here's today's argument as to why evolution is false.

Hoaxes: Evolution rests on refuted conjectures and frauds. Find a “missing link”, then that person has found a hoax or soon to be confirmed hoax since “missing links” are based solely on conjecture. The list of evolutionary hoaxes presented as the primitive man include the Piltdown man, Nebraska man, Orce man, Cro-magnon, and Neanderthal specimen. Another hoax that stands out is Haeckel’s embryos. The fraud is still used in textbooks to indoctrinate children and adolescents that they evolved through forms of animals in the womb. There is no doubt that this lies behind the U.S.’s 50 million abortions since 1973 as seen by Carl Sagan’s belief that unborn children are just animals.
Oh, wow!

I'm going to have to pry this apart, as there's multiple points here.

Hoaxes: Evolution rests on refuted conjectures and frauds. 
Actually, no. Evolution rests of several cross-confirming independent lines of evidence, such as genetics, phylogeny, taxonomy, geological columns + fossil record, and of course direct observation of speciation.

With one vague, sweeping generalization about the evidence supporting evolution, he's dismissed it all.

What "refuted conjectures and frauds" are you talking about? I looked at the article's "read more" link, and it talked about a couple examples of hoaxes. Hoaxes do exist. Hoaxes exist for many things - that doesn't mean that all the topics that have ever had hoaxes are false.

That's basically the core of the issue here.

Do you know what else has been hoaxed? Religious artifacts. Answered prayer. Religious experiences. Religious sightings. I take it these are all false too, right?

This is the first argument that seems to have a logical connection to evolution. At least, it could. If we give the author the benefit of the doubt and change the premise to "Hoaxes make it difficult to establish whether a particular line of evidence supports a claim", I'd agree with him. That's why I don't accept that humanity is being visited by extra-terrestrials, for example. The videos and photos are too easily faked, and we otherwise have no good evidence.

That's not the argument. The argument is that evolution is false because particular supporting examples were hoaxes in the past. This is a non-sequitur.

Find a “missing link”, then that person has found a hoax or soon to be confirmed hoax since “missing links” are based solely on conjecture.
Part of the problem with this argument is that it appears to be equating evolution only with a "missing link" between humanity and its primate ancestors. Evolution is something that all species have undergone, with plenty of "missing links" (transitional forms) already discovered across the board.

Evolution as a natural mechanism doesn't hinge on humanity. It's possible that evolution has operated on this planet, and then humans were dropped in by aliens and our biological history is not connected to the local planet's evolutionary tree. That would result in us being unable to find the "missing link", while evolution on this planet still being a demonstrably true thing.

Of course, they only care about the connection between humanity and the rest of the evolutionary tree, anyway. The fact is, evolution is overwhelmingly supported by evidence, and a couple of hoaxes doesn't refute that - it's not even a logical syllogism. He's disproved those examples.

Would he accept, that if a passage or book in the Bible was discovered to be a forgery, that it means the whole Bible is wrong? Of course not - that'd be guilt-by-association. It'd be a logical fallacy. Each individual claim of the Bible needs to be supported on it's own merits.

If you claimed that the concept of human flight was false because someone made a hoax of it, you'd be a moron.

Outside of the fact that we have plenty of non-hoax fossil records, the genetic evidence is actually far stronger and comprehensive - but I understand, all that data is false because the author has decreed that it's "only conjecture".

His god is only conjecture. So there! At least there's actual positive evidence for evolution.

The list of evolutionary hoaxes presented as the primitive man include the Piltdown man, Nebraska man, Orce man, Cro-magnon, and Neanderthal specimen.
Outside of being a red herring, let's fact check this a bit.

Those seem fine... but Cro-magnon? That's not a hoax. That's an entire lineage. So was Neanderthal.

He seems to be continuing to operate under this mistaken idea that finding an example of a hoax invalidates all data and evidence for the related claim. I'm sorry, but no.

Like I said before, that'd mean that pretty much everything we hold as true today is false.

Another hoax that stands out is Haeckel’s embryos.
That's true - sort of.  Now how about we work to correct the textbooks? There's enough legitimate evidence supporting evolution that we don't have to deal with problematic information.

There is no doubt that this lies behind the U.S.’s 50 million abortions since 1973 as seen by Carl Sagan’s belief that unborn children are just animals.
What the multiple fuck?

It's like the author lost his mind on the last sentence. It's going to take some doing to unravel this entanglement of bizarre notions.

First, I'd point out that I'm getting the impression that this whole list of "my top ten reasons why evolution is false" has nothing to do with epistemology, standards of evidence or investigation. It's not about that at all. It's about bypassing the intellect and triggering visceral, emotional and paranoid reactions to get people on his side. This doesn't even have anything to do with whether evolution is true or false.

That's why none of the arguments I've addressed so far even address evolutionary theory. They're all tangential red herrings. Seriously? Evolution is false because some people have lied about it in the past? How does that standard not apply to his religious beliefs?

This sentence appears to have been thrown in, only to solicit an emotional response. It has no logical relevance to the debate at hand. I'm very close to developing a Third Law of Apologetics: Apologists never argue in good faith (I forget what the second law was that I came up with). In this case, it's emotional manipulation.

Secondly, yes - I'm sure the abortions were done because the children were "just" animals, and had nothing to do with financial or logistical issues. Further, the Bible has nothing to say about abortion. None at all. Don't follow this link. This link doesn't go anywhere important.

Thirdly, what the heck does Carl Sagan have to do with anything? It seems completely random.

Fourthly, the "just animals" part is something he's injecting. We aren't "just" animals. We're triumphantly, respectfully and honorably animals. Theists, because of their infantile bedtime stories, are taught to think that's a bad thing, and denigrates us as people, or that it denotes an "ought".

I'll explain what I mean by that.

We're animals in the sense that we're also mammals. We can't be mammals and not be animals, since mammals are a subset of animals. It's merely a question of taxonomy.

As someone who accepts that evolution is a real thing, that's about all I derive from that. I think it's cool that I'm part of this world, and that monkeys and apes are essentially my cousins. That fosters a sense of comradery between myself and the rest of the life on this planet. They aren't merely toys or inanimate objects to push over. We're all in this together on this blue orb flying through space. I don't lower myself to their level - I raise them up to mine. I see my cat as a being with wants and desires, just trying to get through life, just like me. Acknowledging that I am technically a representative of the animal kingdom is not an endorsement of the idea that therefore humans can be terminated without mercy - as "just animals", like cows to the slaughter house.

No - that concept comes straight from the depths of the deranged minds of Christian (and probably Muslim)  apologists. It's sick, and I don't know why they think like that.

It's ironic, because I only ever hear of these supposed "implications" of evolution from those who reject the theory. I almost never hear the concept of Social Darwinism coming from the liberal left or evolutionists in general. Most of the time, it's the religious right that brings it up, and puts it into practice. I'm sorry to get political, but I'm trying to make a point here.

I accept evolution, and I find the accusations of this author sickening and alien, and out of the blue.

He's gone from "is" to "ought", that somehow, if evolution is true, that therefore we ought to take particular actions. Evolution is a real phenomenon, like gravity, but accepting that gravity is real doesn't mean that I'm more likely to push people off cliffs. That'd be insane - just as insane as suggesting that there's a link between teaching of the theory of evolution and abortion rates.

I can find no coherent salient thought within that one sentence. It's borne of a mind who doesn't understand the theory of evolution, social dynamics, science, or pretty much anything else. It's borne of a mind who is frantically fighting a demonstrably real phenomenon that happens to contradict his core beliefs about reality, who is fighting tooth-and-nail without nails or teeth, grasping at any possible straw that could possibly sway someone else to agree with him, just so he can feel validated and vindicated.

This is why the argument has little to no connection to reality. This is why the argument cannot convince someone like me - I'm too concerned about evidence-based investigation and figuring out what's actually real, even if it means abandoning my previous beliefs. I'm willing to do that to ensure that I'm right.

Apologists aren't.


Let's score this argument. At best, there was at least a logical connection between the argument and demonstrating that evolutionary theory is false... but that was only after we gave him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he meant that a particular line of evidence is obscured by hoaxes, for positively demonstrating evolution.

Let's give him half-credit on that one.

Argument score: 1.5 out of 10
Total score: 1.5 out of 30