Fallacy Friday!

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Straw Man!

(The Straw Person) This fallacy takes the opponents argument and restructures it, creating an extreme version that no one could possib...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution?

Common Complaint: Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution? Dr. Marc Kirschner, chair of the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, stated: “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.” Dr Skell wrote, “It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers … .” Evolution actually hinders medical discovery. Then why do schools and universities teach evolution so dogmatically, stealing time from experimental biology that so benefits humankind? [1]

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: Why is a fundamentally religious idea taught in science classes?

Common Complaint: Why is a fundamentally religious idea, a dogmatic belief system that fails to explain the evidence, taught in science classes? Karl Popper, famous philosopher of science, said “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [religious] research programme ….” Michael Ruse, evolutionist science philosopher admitted, “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” If “you can’t teach religion in science classes”, why is evolution taught? [1]

Friday, October 24, 2014

What about Adam?

Is there any evidence for a "historical Adam?" Could he have been real? Is he our genetic father? Is his existence just a metaphor? Could he be a "spiritual father" of mankind? 

I think that depends on what you expect out of this historical Adam.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: Why is evolutionary ‘just-so’ story-telling tolerated?

Common Complaint: Why is evolutionary ‘just-so’ story-telling tolerated? Evolutionists often use flexible story-telling to ‘explain’ observations contrary to evolutionary theory. NAS(USA) member Dr Philip Skell wrote, “Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery." [1]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Nature of Science

Science is far more than the collection of facts and data that is often presented as "science" in classrooms; it is the process that is used to gather the information that is then presented as science - it is how we discover that collection of facts and data. Not everything can be studied using science (for example, it has to be "falsifiable" - you can't prove that there are no mermaids in the ocean. How would you set up that particular experiment?), and not all scientific knowledge is given equal weight (which is why we use terms like facts, hypotheses, laws, and theories - check out my post here explaining these terms), but the information that does result from doing science gives us verifiable, evidence-based information.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How did blind chemistry create mind/intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality?

Common Complaint: How did blind chemistry create mind/ intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality? If everything evolved, and we invented God, as per evolutionary teaching, what purpose or meaning is there to human life? Should students be learning nihilism (life is meaningless) in science classes? [1]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over hundreds of millions of years?

Common Complaint: How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over supposed hundreds of millions of years, if evolution has changed worms into humans in the same time frame? Professor Gould wrote, “the maintenance of stability within species must be considered as a major evolutionary problem.” [1]

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Believing Science: Why You Can Believe Science Without Believing In Science

Science is not a belief system. It requires no act of faith; there are no sacraments one must take; it has no unquestionable doctrine. It is a process by which we can come to learn about the world around us through experimentation and observation. The scientific field is constantly flooded with new research that examines our current way of understanding the world, and it continually leads to a better understanding of our existence. Science is responsible for almost every facet of our modern lives: modern medicine, cell phones, computers,cars, television, advances in food and agriculture. Science has proven itself trustworthy and reliable.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: Where are all the transitional fossils?

Common Complaint: Where are the (expected) countless millions of transitional fossils missing? Darwin noted the problem and it still remains. The evolutionary family trees in textbooks are based on imagination, not fossil evidence. Famous Harvard paleontologist (and evolutionist), Stephen Jay Gould, wrote, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology”. Other evolutionist fossil experts also acknowledge the problem. [1]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How did sex originate?

Common Complaint: How did sex originate? Asexual reproduction gives up to twice as much reproductive success (‘fitness’) for the same resources as sexual reproduction, so how could the latter ever gain enough advantage to be selected? And how could mere physics and chemistry invent the complementary apparatuses needed at the same time (non-intelligent processes cannot plan for future coordination of male and female organs). [1]

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Problem with Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design (ID) is a very popular religious belief and one that can sound attractive for those trying to reconcile science and religion. This philosophy argues that science supports an intelligent designer/creator because anything with order, purpose, or design must have come from an intelligent being, specifically the Christian God. This concept was created by the Discovery Institute, a religious think-tank that includes the goal to "defeat scientific materialism" as part of its foundation. ID was born in 1986 when "Creation Science" was ruled a belief system by the Supreme Court (Edwards v Aguillard). The Discovery Institute then replaced the words "Creation Science" with "Intelligent Design" in all their paperwork. Like Creation Science, Intelligent Design has also been ruled a religious belief system (Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How did multicellular life originate?

Common Complaint: How did multicellular life originate? How did cells adapted to individual survival ‘learn’ to cooperate and specialize (including undergoing programmed cell death) to create complex plants and animals? [1]

Monday, June 9, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How do evolutionists know that living things were not designed?

Common Complaint: Living things look like they were designed, so how do evolutionists know that they were not designed? Richard Dawkins wrote, “biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.”Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” The problem for evolutionists is that living things show too much design. Who objects when an archaeologist says that pottery points to human design? Yet if someone attributes the design in living things to a designer, that is not acceptable. Why should science be restricted to naturalistic causes rather than logical causes? [1]

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why you can't destroy evolution in 3 minutes: My response to the crappy video

When I first saw this video going around with a guy saying he can "destroy evolution in 3 minutes," I just about had a coronary. The vast majority of the arguments this guy makes are so full of holes that I could use it to drain spaghetti. So I've decided to address them here. As I listen to the video, I will explain every invalid point he makes. In previous posts, I've written several more in-depth explanations to some of the stuff he talks about, and I will link them as well.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: Why is natural selection taught as evolution as if it explains the origin of life?

Common Complaint: Why is natural selection, a principle recognized by creationists, taught as ‘evolution’, as if it explains the origin of the diversity of life? By definition it is a selective process (selecting from already existing information), so is not a creative process. It might explain the survival of the fittest (why certain genes benefit creatures more in certain environments), but not the arrival of the fittest (where the genes and creatures came from in the first place). The death of individuals not adapted to an environment and the survival of those that are suited does not explain the origin of the traits that make an organism adapted to an environment. E.g., how do minor back-and-forth variations in finch beaks explain the origin of beaks or finches? How does natural selection explain goo-to-you evolution? [1]

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How could we have evolved if death was not on earth until after Adam and Eve left the garden?

It's true. On the surface, it appears as though these two ideas are incompatible. But just because it may seem like they are incompatible doesn't mean that they are. Unfortunately, when you've been told that evolution is incompatible with religion, it is often easier to accept the surface answer than to find ways that they are compatible.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How could mutations create all of the information in DNA?

Common Complaint: How could mutations—accidental copying mistakes (DNA ‘letters’ exchanged, deleted or added, genes duplicated, chromosome inversions, etc.)—create the huge volumes of information in the DNA of living things? How could such errors create 3 billion letters of DNA information to change a microbe into a microbiologist? There is information for how to make proteins but also for controlling their use—much like a cookbook contains the ingredients as well as the instructions for how and when to use them. One without the other is useless. See: Meta-information: An impossible conundrum for evolution. Mutations are known for their destructive effects, including over 1,000 human diseases such as hemophilia. Rarely are they even helpful. But how can scrambling existing DNA information create a new biochemical pathway or nano-machines with many components, to make ‘goo-to-you’ evolution possible? E.g., How did a 32-component rotary motor like ATP synthase (which produces the energy currency, ATP, for all life), or robots like kinesin (a ‘postman’ delivering parcels inside cells) originate? [1]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why you can't compare apples and oranges: False Analogy

False analogies are logical fallacies, and they occur when two things are incorrectly compared so as to draw a false conclusion. No two scenarios or ideas are exactly the same, nor do they so different that there is nothing similar about them. Therefore, no analogy is perfect, so we have to take care to avoid focusing on superficial similarities while ignoring fundamental dissimilarities. This is a very common fallacy because our language functions partly through comparisons; we use them to teach and to explain situations; we use comparisons in deciding how to handle new experiences; and we use them to make unfamiliar situations and ideas more familiar, thus helping us avoid acting out of fear. However, it is unwise to rely on analogies in making arguments because they will undoubtedly fail in key aspects.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How did the DNA code originate?

Common Complaint: How did the DNA code originate? The code is a sophisticated language system with letters and words where the meaning of the words is unrelated to the chemical properties of the letters—just as the information on this page is not a product of the chemical properties of the ink (or pixels on a screen). What other coding system has existed without intelligent design? How did the DNA coding system arise without it being created? [1]

Friday, April 4, 2014

Truth is not dependent upon consequences: Appeal to Consequences

This is the appeal to consequence, and it's a logical fallacy that occurs when someone argues that something cannot be true because the consequences are unacceptable (or is true because the consequences are desirable). This is a fallacy for several reasons: 1) desirability is a subjective concept; 2) it seeks to convince through an emotional appeal as the consequences often evoke fear or desire; and 3) it is teleological in nature (reverses cause in effect) by asserting that something is caused by its own effect. The consequences of something are irrelevant to whether or not it actually exists; children may behave well if they believe in Santa, but that does not mean that Santa must exist. Consequences can be taken into consideration when the argument is whether or not something is desirable, just not whether it is true. In trying to determine a plan of action, it is very reasonable to consider consequences (prescribing drugs, for example). However, that doesn’t mean that something must be false because it doesn’t work out how we want it to. (Other names include argument from consequence, argumentum ad consequentiam, and appeal to consequences of a belief). 

Don't dismiss because you can't imagine: Argument from Incredulity

The argument from incredulity, or personal incredulity fallacy, occurs when someone dismisses something because they personally don’t understand it or can’t imagine how it would work. Just because the concepts might be difficult to understand doesn’t make it impossible. Otherwise, most scientific advances that we take for granted today wouldn’t exist. The basic level of knowledge or understanding by any one person or even a majority does not dictate what is or is not false. To avoid this fallacy, when you find yourself having difficulty understanding something, don’t dismiss it until you have gained enough information in order to understand it. This is a common tactic of those who dislike change. If you would rather live in the past and avoid change, then you should avoid taking the time to understand new and complex ideas. This fallacy is related to the argument from ignorance, the difference being that ignorance comes from a lack of knowledge whereas incredulity comes from a lack of understanding or imagination.

Don't distort someone's argument to dismiss it: The Straw Man

The straw man fallacy takes the opponents argument and restructures as an extreme version of itself that no one could possibly agree with and then dismisses it because it is absurd. It is a fallacy because you are not actually confronting the opponent’s argument; you are claiming that it is something it isn’t and then dismissing it. By turning the opponent’s argument into a weaker, “straw man,” version of itself, you are being dishonest, and fabricating, misrepresenting, or exaggerating someone else’s argument just to make yours look better will actually result in the opposite – they will wonder what is so weak about your argument that you have to result to poor logic to defend it. Straw man arguments often include the phrases, “seem to think,” “probably believe,” or otherwise imply a position that the opponent doesn’t actually suggest (i.e. “Evolutionists seem to think that humans just crawled out of the goo" or "Conservatives want children to suffer.")

Why everything is debatable: Dogmatism

The dogmatism fallacy occurs when one doctrine is pushed, often intensely, as the only acceptable conclusion and that that belief is beyond question. Dogmatists are unwilling to even consider an opposing argument and ignore any contradictory evidence; some even believe that thinking about questioning the position is wrong. They frequently tell others both what to think and how to think. Anyone who disagrees with the position is branded as either stupid, evil, or biased while they alone are intelligent, morally superior, and objective. This is a fallacy because it blocks all future discussion (it also shifts the burden of proof) and is common with religious zealots, cults, and political extremists. If someone refuses to debate a topic while claiming that their position is the only possible solution, then they are committing a dogmatism fallacy.

Don't claim without evidence: Shifting the Burden of Proof

Shifting the burden of proof fallacies occur when the burden of proof is placed on the wrong side of an argument. In a logical argument, the “burden of proof” lies with the individual making the claim; in other words, if you claim something, you need to provide the evidence for that claim. When you “shift the burden of proof,” instead of providing evidence to support their claim, you challenge your opponent to disprove it, and just because your claim can’t be disproven does not mean that it is then credible (it is also fallacious to require absolute proof of something as well as there are no absolutes). What we don’t know cannot be used as evidence for or against anything. Absence of knowledge is not knowledge. In the American legal system, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and the accused is “innocent until proven guilty.” If you claim that Bigfoot exists, psychic powers are real, or telekinesis is possible, then you have the burden of proof and must provide the evidence to support it.

Why credentials matter: Appeal to Authority

A type of ad hominem, the appeal to authority fallacy occurs when one believes what an authority figure says just because they are an authority figure regardless of their expertise in the field, the established consensus, or any biases. To avoid falling for this fallacy, you should examine the credentials of the authority figure making the claim and then compare the claim to what others in that field are saying. This fallacy is very common in advertisements who use “false authorities” to convince us to purchase their product (supermodels selling personal hygiene products, for example), as well as conspiracy theorists (the Kennedy assassination, Big Foot, and the faked Apollo Moon landing).

Gather more evidence before you draw conclusions: The Correlation Equals Causation Fallacy

The correlation equals causation fallacy is very common both in everyday usage and in formal arguments, and it occurs when someone confuses “correlation” (when things occur at the same time or immediately after one another) with “causation” (when one thing causes another). It is a mistake to assume that the order of events means that one event caused the other. There are many other variables that could contribute to the pattern we see including pure coincidence or, most frequently, a common “third” cause of both events. Statistics play an important role in this fallacy. Many will see a figure and automatically draw a conclusion without thinking of what may have been left out. This is why it is important to examine the test conditions for an experiment and all other available data. However, if one dismisses valid statistical conclusions based on this fallacy, they are committing another fallacy: “denial of causation.”(Other names of this fallacy include the false cause, post hoc, faulty causality, correlation vs. causation, and post hoc ergo propter hoc).

Why "I don't know" is often the best answer: The Appeal to Ignorance

The appeal to ignorance fallacy occurs when individuals take the lack of information about a certain subject as proof of either its existence or nonexistence. Essentially, it’s the belief that something is true because we don’t know it isn’t true, or, conversely, the disbelief in something because we don’t know that it is true. It is often used to justify a position that lacks a certain amount of evidence: ESP, UFOs, etc. When we don’t have an adequate explanation, it is rational to say that we just don’t know – not to jump to a conclusion one way or another. Our knowledge about the world continues to grow, and just because we currently lack an explanation doesn’t mean that there is none or that the explanation is supernatural, paranormal, or otherwise “unnatural.” This fallacy is committed if, when someone “pleads the fifth” or has no alibi for a crime, we assume they are guilty. (Other names include argument from silence, ad ignoratiam, and appeal to ignorance).

Not all ideas are created equal: The Balance Fallacy

The opposite of the false dichotomy, the balance fallacy occurs when someone asserts that the extremes are always wrong and the middle ground, therefore, must be right. It also occurs when we give equal weight and credence to both sides of an argument regardless of the evidence supporting the sides. This fallacy is not the same thing as pointing out flaws in both sides of an argument while remaining, or appearing to remain, undecided. It is a very “Western” fallacy as we are often accustomed to resolving problems through compromise in order to be “fair” and “balanced.” However, in trying to appear balanced, we may be ignoring the fact that one side may actually be right. Presenting information this way may also result in skewing public opinion; they may think that just because they have been presented with both sides equally that they are then equally probable or equally acceptable. (Other names include the false balance, argument to moderation, argumentum ad temperatium, golden mean fallacy, false compromise, and the gray fallacy.)

Look for the shades of gray: The False Dichotomy

The false dichotomy fallacy occurs when only choices are artificially reduced to only two options, ignoring all other alternatives, either intentionally or unintentionally. It implies that there really is only a choice between two extremes with no room for compromise, and usually it is worded in such a way to favor one answer over the other. It makes two big assumptions: that the two options are mutually exclusive (cannot be both) and exhaustive (no other options available). Therefore, if you do not accept one, then you must accept the other. (Other names include the false dilemma, black/white fallacy, either-or reasoning, fallacy of false choice, fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, fallacy of false alternative, and the fallacy of the excluded middle).

Why stories are not evidence: Anecdotal Fallacy

The anecdotal fallacy is committed when someone rejects or discounts extensive evidence in favor of an isolated or personal experience. If the audience wants to believe in something, they will often cling to anecdotes as evidence even if there is no other evidence or documentation for the phenomenon (consider Urban Legends). This fallacy is partly due to the availability heuristic which causes people to overestimate how common something is based on how easily they can think of an example. People are more prone to remembering exceptional events, and thus, by definition, anecdotes are more often the exception and not the rule. In addition, most people don’t take into consideration the vast numbers of “unexceptional” stories that are more in line with reality because they rarely hear about them or, if they do, they don’t remember them because they are so typical. (Other names include the "I know a person who" fallacy.)

Don't play with emotions: Appeal to Emotion

The appeal to emotion fallacy occurs when someone attempts to invoke an emotional response (pity, fear, anger, etc.) instead of using a valid or compelling argument. Almost all humans are affected by emotion, and that makes these appeals exceptionally common and effective (think “scare tactics”). However, they are flawed and dishonest because they don't actually address the issue. Appeals to emotion are often the basis for censorship and bigotry. (Other names include argumentum ad misericordiam, playing to emotions, appeal to pity, "E" for effort, noble effort, sob story)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: How Did Life Originate?

Common Complaint: How did life originate? Evolutionist Professor Paul Davies admitted, “Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into the first living cell.” Andrew Knoll, professor of biology, Harvard, said, “we don’t really know how life originated on this planet.” A minimal cell needs several hundred proteins. Even if every atom in the universe were an experiment with all the correct amino acids present for every possible molecular vibration in the supposed evolutionary age of the universe, not even one average-sized functional protein would form. So how did life with hundreds of proteins originate just by chemistry without intelligent design? [1]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Charles Darwin: A Man, Not a Monster

He has been cursed from pulpits and hailed by scientists. His name has been used for both good and evil; his ideas have spurred incredible scientific progress, leading to rapid advancements in medicine, agriculture, wildlife, and computer science; they have also been used to justify the evils of eugenics and mass murder. His breakthrough in science has been compared to those of Galileo and Newton [1] in recognizing heliocentric theory and gravity, but it is still rejected by many who would rather believe that "Darwinism" is the devil's work.

So who is Charles Darwin to have stirred up so many passions in men?

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Fingerprints of Creation

"Daddy, where do babies come from?

This question strikes fear into the heart of many parents. Most children start asking this before they can adequately understand what the processes involved - and not just the physical aspects, but the emotional and intellectual ones. So we ask ourselves:

How can I explain this accurately so that she can understand?

Monday, January 27, 2014

So What is Evolution?

Probably the biggest reason many dismiss evolution is because most people have no idea what evolution actually is. Evolution is defined as a change in a population over time. 

That's it.

I know. It's that simple. Which is why it is definitely happening. We witness evolution occurring all the time. Any time the genetic makeup of a population varies, evolution is occurring. The question, then, is what is causing evolution to occur.

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