Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tired of the same ole whack a mole game

In a post entitled "I grow weary of ID", Jason Rosenhouse points out some more hillarious ID contradictions. The stupidity of Bruce Chapmans comments where Bruce claims that there is ID research, but nobody will tell you who is doing it and where it is being done because of some darwinist 'conspiracy', is not really being sold very easily. Quite frankly, to rip off a common New Zealand advertising meme:
ID has a prosperous and highly successful research program. Yeah right.
As it still appears that the ID movement doesn't even have a theory to begin with you can imagine my skepticism at anyone claiming there is ID 'research' being done using a DOA "theory". This really isn't the point I want to talk about though from Jasons post, but rather this from a little later in:

Which brings me to the title of this entry. When I got started in this biz, I felt like I learned something by taking the ID folks seriously. The No Free Lunch theorems are beautiful and fascinating, but I would know nothing about them if the sordid little mind of William Dembski hadn't figured how to use them to bamboozle people into thinking their were mathematical flaws with evolution. The research I did while investigating the claims of Jonathan Wells and Icons of Evolution taught me a great deal about the real state of biological research. Fighting these ignorant charlatans was an act of grim necessity, but at least they provided some food for thought.

But look where they are now. They had their day in court and came off looking like fools. The only books they talk about now are the hysterical political screeds by Ann Coulter and Jonathan Wells, neither of which presents anything remotely new. And when you ask them to tell you about the state of ID research, not even actual results mind you but just a description of the work itself, they get belligerent and nasty.

You know, I have to agree entirely with this but with a slightly different tangent. Once upon a time I used to learn a lot out of arguing with creationists and the ID crowd on the various issues about biological evolution. Having to look through the scientific literature on a wide range of subjects from geology, mathematics, biology and more to whack the various pseudo-babble put forth used to be an entertaining and perhaps dare I say, even educational, enterprise. I would always come away having found something new in my searches for counter arguments.

Now, tying in things about why I've been so absent from blogging as well, is the fact I've been reflecting somewhat on the whole issue and my attitude has changed heavily. You see, while once I was like Jason always learning something from these debates, I now fail to get anything out of them at all anymore. After a while, it's always the same arguments, it's always the same counter-arguments that can effectively deal with that nonsense and just as soon as you do it, the same crap comes up again. It ends up after a while getting to a never-ending game of whack-a-mole and to be perfectly honest I find that extremely boring and just not worth my time anymore.

Sure, the political arguments of creationists (like the ID movement) have advanced continually in trying to strawman some thing or another, but these usually have little or no relevance to anything scientific at all. In fact, there is a complete lack of any new science in terms of the latest creationist nonsense. It's always the same flagella, darwinist conspiracy, second law of thermodynamics (dressed up with new rubbish to make it seem more intelligent than it really is) and such forth arguments that have been put up for years. The terms change, but ultimately it's just the same nonsense, it's been refuted by many others (usually more specialised than me) and usually really well at that.

So linking things back to my disappearance from blogging, I've had a good think about what I really want to say online and how I want to present myself. To put it simply, the same idiotic creationist arguments just make me highly antagonistic these days. I'm not sure how to describe the feeling I get from arguing with creationists, other than saying it's equivalent to the feeling you would get from telling someone not to put a fork in the electrical socket and watching them do it anyway. It's just got to the point where playing whack-a-mole just gets highly derisive or sarcastic replies from me. I can't even be bothered really arguing much with creationists now like I used to.

For example, I would once have spend most of an afternoon or evening researching the topics in question, interpreting things (or asking someone who did know) and then posting my counter arguments. This of course is very time expensive as you can imagine, unless of course the argument moved into my areas of interest in microbiology or immunology (where I already knew the required information). But over time, I've found that I can literally, search back posts I've written elsewhere and just copy and paste it. The arguments put forth in a post from 3 years ago (if it still exists) can often suffice completely for answering a creationist argument today. Again, this is because creationist arguments have merely adapted depending on political circumstances and putting new lingo on old redundant arguments. It's still the same broken arguments despite the changes in how it's presented.

This has just led to me getting more sarcastic in my posting style with creationists and I no longer bother putting in the time or effort. To neutral observers, I'm sure at times this has seemed that I've either not had an answer to the argument or that I've given up in frustration. In reality, it's just getting bored of whack-a-mole and wondering why I'm wasting my time. Even after taking a huge break from blogging and even generally arguing about the subject on internet forums, I just haven't been able to lose that feeling of "Yay, whack-a-mole again, what could I be doing with my time?".

Inevitably, there comes a point where you just have to say to yourself "Why bother anymore?". I don't get anything out of arguing with creationists anymore, I don't learn anything, I've heard all the defunct arguments they can put forward before and so I really wonder "What's the point?". It's not like I've got some complacency about creationists, just because they continually make themselves to be idiots in the most public of ways possible like at the disasterous Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial doesn't mean they aren't a very powerful political (but note, not scientific) movement. There are places on the internet however that cater to smacking creationists around very efficiently, like the Pandasthumb, Pharyngula and of course Talk Origins.

With my time however, I feel I can get a lot more about talking about issues in science that actually interest me. How biological systems like the immune system evolved, issues in science like the ethics surrounding gene therapy, public and animal health issues like the Escherchia coli H7:O157 outbreak in spinach (or Tb in badgers ;)) for example. Playing whack-a-mole with creationists is just not worth the time or effort anymore, especially considering how many other fascinating things in science there are to discuss (plus I still have a looooong list of stuff to write about ;)).

Finally, to end this rather large rant I'd like to comment that I don't care what ID researchers think of their own research. Until they publish some of this much vaunted 'research' that is always just around the corner (Always...) I couldn't care less. Talking about doing research is entirely irrelevant to the point of actually doing it. When the ID/creationist movement produces actual science I think it will be worth discussing. Somehow I doubt the ID/creationist lot are bothering with the "science" part and will stick to the "baffling people with bullshit" part.

Oh and I am in an especially good mood because I just began my PhD <3 Yes, that does mean new website soon, because I've been meaning to move to a new site once I got all of this sorted out.