Latest Fuller

December 31, 2008

Quoth Fuller:

But I happen to think that there is something more worth arguing about here, and a better way to think about the stakes is to ask, Suppose the matter of evidence remains unresolved or equally balanced: What difference does it make whether I endorse ID or Darwinism? Does it lead me to do science differently – in terms of the research questions chosen, the range of interpretations given to research results, as well as science’s broader cultural significance? The answer to these questions seems to me to be clearly yes – and this is what the battle is about. Only some leftover logical positivism and a repressive US legal environment could be discouraging ID supporters from thinking about science in a way that acknowledges the philosophical and theological issues implied here. ID’s Darwinist opponents certainly do not feel the need for any such reticence – hence, their talismanic appeal to ‘methodological naturalism’, a lifestyle choice masquerading as a competency test.

Yup, “leftover logical positivism” and “a lifestyle choice”. You’ve got to wonder whether Fuller ever tried to do any science. Methodological naturalism – a rule that developed within science because it, you know, actually works – is a “lifestyle choice” like vegetarianism or being a fan of football. Glad Steve cleared that up for those of us who have actually attempted to do scientific research.

And then there’s this:

I have followed what people on the internet have said about my interest in ID since my participation in the Dover trial. If there are any professional historians reading this blog, let me tell you that the capacity of people – even highly credentialed ones – to misconstrue motives defies description, even in one’s own lifetime, where a few clicks of the mouse would enable would-be critics to get a clearer fix of where the criticised party is coming from. However, it may be that people who comment on blogs are unusually stupid, sloppy or bigoted, while everyone else (the majority) silently draws more informed and nuanced conclusions.

Perhaps Fuller just needs to be a little clearer in stating what his motives are? Just saying.

Have at it.

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  1. Zarquon
    December 31, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Right. Fuller can’t see the cdesign proponentists ID promoters ideological foundations so it’s the blogosphere that’s ‘stupid, sloppy or bigoted’!

  2. January 1, 2009 at 5:36 am

    I can’t work out Fuller’s motives. He’s clearly not a DI shill, so why has he chosen to get involved with ID? And why UD? He must be aware of what it’ll do to his reputation.
    I do think it’s good that he’s saying to IDists that they should look a the designer. From a scientific stance, it’s the obvious way to tackle the problem of inferring design. Of course, we all (including Fuller) know why they don’t, which is why it’s so funny to see him say this.

  3. January 1, 2009 at 5:44 am

    But it doesn’t matter that Georges Lemaître thought that evidence for the big bang was proof of the biblical account of Genesis, personal motivations do not mean squat to science, only the evidence matters.
    So if the statement were true:
    Suppose the matter of evidence remains unresolved or equally balanced:
    Then ole’ Stevie might have a point if …there is something more worth arguing about here…
    Yeah, but it isn’t “methodological naturalism”, it’s about how people interpret evidence to include their ideological dogma.
    “Ideological Foundations”: Degree of deviation from reality.
    Pick your distortion…

  4. Sam C
    January 1, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Bob: maybe Fuller’s motives are simply that he just wants to be noticed? Rather like a small boy at a party jumping up and down and shouting “Me! Me! Me!”
    Fuller clearly is literate and can string thoughts together, but he’s not shown any signs of any emotional maturity; quite the opposite (he gets very narky when anybody disagrees with his bullshit). Of course, his mighty brain is unencumbered by the factual knowledge that weighs down the punier thinking gear of the domain specialists, so he can see more clearly without clouds of facts obscuring his view.
    And if he wants an area where factual knowledge won’t get in the way of “thinking”, then surely the DI is an ideal venue!

  5. Sigmund
    January 1, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I don’t think he’s being quite as stupid as some are assuming.
    If you read creationist apologetics there’s clearly one thing that excites them more than any other, namely the idea of an atheist who comes to accept their ideas. Look at the Anthony Flew situation. How often have you heard about the ‘most famous atheist in the world’ coming over to the design hypothesis?
    I am of the opinion that that Fuller has simply spotted a niche in the marketplace. If one advocates a postmodernistic approach where all theories are equally valid then there is no problem with describing ID as being a valid alternative to evolution (since every theory will be a valid alternative to all others).

  6. RBH
    January 1, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I note that Fuller is big on setting things aside, and in particular he’s big on setting empirical evidence aside. In his two posts on UD so far he’s posited the following:

    Suppose the matter of evidence remains unresolved or equally balanced: What difference does it make whether I endorse ID or Darwinism?

    and

    Once we set aside matters of American legal repression, Darwinism currently surpasses ID not in the firmness of its evidence base but in its creative theoretical exploitation of that base.

    and

    First, stripped of its current scientific scaffolding, Darwinism is a 19th century social theory that has been turned into a ‘general unified theory of everything’, and as such belongs in the same category as Marxism and Freudianism.

    And if one sets aside Mohammed Ali’s heavyweight championships and his personal charm, he’s just another draft dodger with Parkinson’s. Fuller is as much of a reductionist as the most rabid genetic determinist. And he apparently really doesn’t believe that science is an evidence-based enterprise.

  7. January 1, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    1. Sociologists of science traditionally distinguish themselves as “objective” in part by showing their cynicism to mainstream science, illustrating that they can stand apart from it in some sense and observe it critically. I know that’s a difficult idea to make consistent, since the critical examination generally itself makes use of scientific concepts. I don’t agree with it, I just make an observation.
    2. Controversy tends to drive people to the extremes (I suspect because it fosters the conditions for “hot” or “motivated” cognition), and people get caught up in those extremes to varying degrees.
    So in being well intentioned sociologists of science, often involved in controversies, people like Fuller sometimes slide down toward the opposite pole from the people whose work they are trying to understand.
    Thus polarized, it is so much work for people to understand each other that they generally don’t consider it worth the effort. So Fuller is pretty much doomed to be misunderstood for the most part, and to find his critics to be rather dense.
    Some of my favorite examples of the possible breaching of this polarization are found in “The One Culture” edited by Labinger and Collins. There, scientists and sociologists of science go back and forth and make sincere attempts to understand each other as if the other side actually has something worthwhile to say.
    Conclusion: Sometimes in the end it is worth the effort to try to understand each other, sometimes not. We don’t always know which is true from our initial appraisal, and that’s the point.

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