Like If Jerry Falwell Rolled His Own

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

For entertainment value alone, this might be the best interview I’ve seen yet from either convention.

There’s also some talk now that Sarah Palin may get Thomas Eagleton-ed. NPR reported this evening that she’s been in seclusion for two days, from both media and convention goers. She even canceled a meeting with right wing maven Phyllis Schlafly’s pro-life group today, which got ol’ Phyllis’s knickers in a twist.

I think it would take a hell of a lot to get McCain to dump Palin. He’d have to conclude there’s no possible way he could win with her on the ticket. Because dumping her would almost certainly cause him to lose. And we’re nowhere near that point right now. It’s not even yet clear that she’s a liability. My guess is that McCain’s campaign has merely locked her down for a couple days while they finish the vetting they wish they had done two weeks ago.

I’m still not really sure what to make of Palin. She’s certainly driven the news cycle the last few days. Policy-wise, she’s a mixed bag, but in interesting, unconventional ways. Yes, she took on Alaska’s corrupt GOP fossils, but, we learned today, only after hiring a lobbying outfit well-known to those same fossils to secure a hefty chunk of federal earmark largess as mayor of her home town. And she really only took on Stevens, Young, and Murkowski once all three were already national pariahs, and once there were already investigations of Stevens in the offing. Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, but only after initially supporting it, and even then, she merely shuffled the money earmarked for it off to other pet projects. Not exactly Profiles in Courage stuff, this.

Then there’s this alleged abuse of power known as “Troopergate.” From what I’ve read, if all the allegations are true, it would make me think more of Palin, not less. She asked the state’s public safety commissioner to fire a state trooper who tased his 11-year-old son, made death threats, and drove his squad car drunk? Why is this a problem? Because he was in the process of divorcing Palin’s sister at the time? I’d like to think any governor who was made aware that a state trooper engaged in any of those things would do what she could to get him fired, no matter how it was brought to her attention. And if the commissioner, who reports to her, refused to fire the rogue cop, he’s not doing his job. So I’m okay with firing him too.

Unfortunately, Palin has denied intervening to get the cop fired. So I can’t even give her the credit here that I’d like to.

By far the best thing Palin’s done thus far is get the usual suspects to don the others’ clothes. That is, the left’s screaming “affirmative action!” while the right’s screaming “sexism!” And both are doing it with a straight face. Makes it fun to be a libertarian.

The lefties are probably right in saying Palin’s gender gave her the edge over many other, more qualified candidates. But. Um. Isn’t that what affirmative action is all about? Breaking down barriers and whatnot? Correcting for historical injustices and such? Is the lesson here that only leftist minorities are allowed to benefit from preference-based political promotions? As my colleague Dave Weigel put it, does anyone really think the Democratic nominee would be where he is today if he were Barack O’Bama, the white Irish-American? For that matter, would Hillary Clinton have gotten 18 million votes for president if she had married the law student two doors down from Bill at Yale?

Yes, Palin’s political resume is thin. That’s a plus in my book. “Experience” tends to mean “knows the ways of Washington,” which generally means more of the same old crap. If David Broder has praised you in one of his columns, you’re probably part of the problem. Frankly, I wish Obama had picked someone less “experienced” than Joe Biden, a guy that embodies everything loathesome about Washington. I also like that Palin’s not a career politician, and doesn’t genuflect before powerful interests. On the other hand, it doesn’t bode well that she has a history of also applying that same kick-ass-and-take-names style of governance to, for example, trying to ban books from the public library that she finds offensive.

But the right’s cry that Palin’s critics are guilty of sexism is just as hypocritical. Palin’s family is Palin’s business, and I have no interest in passing judgment on the decisions she has made in her private life. But let’s pretend for a moment a liberal Democratic governor had delivered a baby with Down’s Syndrome last April, then ran for vice president months later–all while still mothering four other kids, and with her high school daughter pregnant with a grandchild. Can’t you hear the howling from the right about how feminist women care more about their careers than they do about their children and families? Can you hear the stern lectures about how, maybe if Palin had spent less time running for office and more time mothering, her daughter might not be pregnant? Hell, it’s only a hypothetical, and I’m pretty sure I can hear them as I type.

And while we’re turning tables, a poster at Reddit today had a doozy: Imagine the giddy glee we’d see from the right if it was Barack Obama who announced this weekend that his unwed teenage daughter was pregnant. Somehow, I doubt we’d be seeing the handwritten “I support unwed mothers” buttons we (weirdly) saw at the RNC tonight.

All of which is my rambling way of stating I don’t really have a pithy take on Palin. It’s all just a little too wacky right now. But it’s sure as hell fun to watch.

MORE: And I’ll defer to my colleague Jesse Walker on the Alaska Independence Party flap. Given McCain’s creepy “country first” fetish and nationalistic fervor, Palin’s sympathies for a secessionist movement are a positive, as far as I’m concerned.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

90 Responses to “Like If Jerry Falwell Rolled His Own”

  1. #1 |  jaimito | 

    “Are you drunk? Or just illiterate?”

    Agitated.

    Looks like the second column actually talks about what a horrendous fiscal politician Palin is… so score one for the ‘retard with a baseball bat’ method of political discourse :P

    Personally, I think the nutbar fundie church she attends and the fact her only foreign policy experience is speaking AIPAC are way hotter stories…

  2. #2 |  Alex | 

    Two things about these comments are really disturbing to me:

    1) The immediate indictment of Palin for being an “evangelical.” Relgious people are independent thinkers just like the rest of us. The idea that all of them follow Falwell and Dobson is just ignorant. She HAS NOT pushed the teaching of creationism in AK schools, but she did say, “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.” Also the pro-life thing is dead. We have thirty years of case law beyond Roe that means the feds can’t do anything on this short of a constitutional amendment (not going to happen).

    2) The libertarian histrionics about her raising taxes on oil companies. The oil companies drill on leased state land, so there’s nothing wrong with restructuring the tax system to peg it to the price of oil. Property owners change lease agreements when the value of the property changes; why shouldn’t states do the same thing? If Texas did the same thing to land rigs on private land, that would be an altogether different situation.

  3. #3 |  humourador | 

    > … would Hillary Clinton have gotten 18 million
    > votes for president if she had married the
    > law student two doors down from Bill at Yale?

    Yes, because then the guy two doors down from Bill would have been president. Ka Pow!

  4. #4 |  Ryan S | 

    I think you have been generally fair towards Governor Palin. I would agree with you all things being equal. I think, however, the real lesson from the last administration is not that Republicans are evil but rather single party rule creates an un-restrained presidency. McCain/Palin will be under the watchful eyes of Reid and Pelosi in a way that Obama/Biden will not. A divided government means that a greater proportion of american voices are heard in a way that can also help to stifle political extremism from both sides.

  5. #5 |  chance | 

    “A former “community organizer” with ties to America hating preachers”

    Let’s see, versus a Governor with ties to an America hating party…hmm. I was told in another thread that Palin never joined the AIP, but her husband did. Fine, but if Reverand Wright is going to be an issue, then you can’t pretend the AIP isn’t.

  6. #6 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Alex,

    The pro-life movement isn’t dead. Roe was almost overturned in 1992, and it will eventually be overturned because like Lochner, it is a disgustingly bad piece of legal reasoning (aside from its moral corruption). The pro-life movement has garned much success over the years, from ending partial birth abortion, to passing notification laws, etc. Some people view abortion = sex = freedom = power. Thus, we get Obama casting a vote for infanticide. But I think abortion’s murder plain and simple and I’ll do everything in my power to end it, period.

  7. #7 |  Anonymous | 

    Fine, but if Reverand Wright is going to be an issue, then you can’t pretend the AIP isn’t.

    False but true?

  8. #8 |  Alex | 

    Sydney,

    Oh I agree that the pro-life movement still has battles to win. I object to statements like, “Palin wants to end all abortions in all cases including rape and incest.” So what? THAT will never happen at the federal level. You’re right to point out that at the national level the debate is about partial-birth abortions, etc., but liberals don’t want to recognize that because the majority of Americans are pro-choice in the abstract but pro-life in the more extreme scenarios. Also, I’m not a ConLaw expert (or a lawyer at all for that matter), but I’m pretty sure that overturning just Roe would do nothing.

    And Wright, Rezko, and Ayers are irrelevant because now that they’re not politically expedient, Obama proclamed them non-issues. And the press agreed.

  9. #9 |  Matt | 

    I object to statements like, “Palin wants to end all abortions in all cases including rape and incest.” So what?

    Putting aside the issue of how you can object to a statement that’s factually true and acknowledged by all parties, her extreme position on that matter does not bode well for her handling of related that issues that do fall within her purview.

    And Wright, Rezko, and Ayers are irrelevant because now that they’re not politically expedient, Obama proclamed them non-issues. And the press agreed.

    We heard about Wright and, to a lesser extent, Ayers for months. They’re non-issues now because there’s zero evidence that Obama shares any of their contentious views.

  10. #10 |  Elliot | 

    Radley (#43): #42 [my comment] What the hell are you talking about? When have you ever seen an endorsement of “collectivist economics” from me?

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2008, Obama vs. Hillary, you wrote, “I’d probably support Obama against McCain. I couldn’t vote for Hillary.”

    Obama is collectivist economics personified. How do you think he’ll pay for all the free cheese?

    Sorry I’m not giving economic issues the coverage you think I should. That’s not my area of expertise, and there are only so many hours in the day.

    I don’t disagree. It’s your blog.

    That’s not exactly what I was getting at, though. If you indicate a willingness to vote for a candidate and spend quite a bit of time trashing his critics, everything that candidate endorses matters.

    And spare me the condescension. I’m well aware of how it all fits together.

    My understanding of how it all fits together leads me to the conclusion that I respect your rights too much to ever give any politician–not even Ron Paul–my permission (i.e., vote) to trample on your rights.

    Not a single one will end the War on (Some) Drugs, scale back the denial of the individual right to self-defense, cut government, or do anything else for the cause of liberty. Not one.

    If you’re still willing to give one of them permission to keep making things worse, then I don’t think you do understand the principles, when fully taken to their logical conclusion. That’s not condescension, either. It took me a few decades to get that.

  11. #11 |  Salvo | 

    She HAS NOT pushed the teaching of creationism in AK schools, but she did say, “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

    Sorry. My litmus test is that if you even think there is something about creationism/ID to debate in a public classroom, and that classroom does not have the course title of “Comparative Religion”, then you are not fit for public office.

    The “teach the debate” loons are just as bad as the “Jesus rode dinosaurs!” crowd, except less honest.

  12. #12 |  Alex | 

    “Sorry. My litmus test is that if you even think there is something about creationism/ID to debate in a public classroom, and that classroom does not have the course title of “Comparative Religion”, then you are not fit for public office.”

    Look, I’m not religious, but I do attend church regularly because my better half drags me there. I’m an engineer, so while (like 99% of people) I have no formal training in evolutionary biology, I’m fairly knowledgable about carbon dating. Personally I think the 6000 years theory is pretty dumb, but a lot of people believe it as a matter of faith. I think society would be well-served to have people talk in a civilized manner about their faith or lack thereof. If nothing else, it might prevent a few people like yourself from being damn bigots.

  13. #13 |  Salvo | 

    I’m perfectly fine with people talking about their faith or lack thereof.

    Just not in science class.

  14. #14 |  Elliot | 

    I’m perfectly fine with people talking about their faith or lack thereof.

    Just not in science class.

    I agree, when it comes to my children. But John Q. Redstate has every right to send his children to a school which teaches religion as truth.

    He just doesn’t have the right to make us pay for it. Or, vice versa. And, none of us has the right to make people who don’t have kids in school pay for our children’s educations.

    Government funding of schools is the problem.

  15. #15 |  James D | 

    Only problem Salvo is that evolution is religion too …. so please don’t give us the same old ‘no religion in my tax-payer funded schools’.

  16. #16 |  James D | 

    And Elliot nails it ….

  17. #17 |  Elliot | 

    James D #65: Only problem Salvo is that evolution is religion too …

    No, it isn’t. The evolution of species over millions of years is well-documented in the fossil record. That is hard evidence you can hold in your hand, and that a thousand other people around the world can verify with their own examination of the evidence they find. It requires no faith to examine facts and come to logical conclusions. And, since biologists are constantly revising theories about the positions of species in the evolutionary tree, they aren’t stuck to what was written centuries ago. They aren’t even stuck on what was written two months ago.

    There is no archaeological evidence for the events of Genesis or Exodus. The flood story is impossible. There is not even any record in Egypt of Hebrew slaves. Religious people are called to believe something without evidence, and not to challenge what was written centuries ago, by people who didn’t even know about cells, molecules, radiation, etc..

    The two are simply not comparable.

  18. #18 |  Salvo | 

    I agree, when it comes to my children. But John Q. Redstate has every right to send his children to a school which teaches religion as truth.

    He just doesn’t have the right to make us pay for it. Or, vice versa. And, none of us has the right to make people who don’t have kids in school pay for our children’s educations.

    Government funding of schools is the problem.

    Ah, and here’s the rub. Right now, regardless of what you think of it, there *is* government funding of schools. And there is a major party VP candidate who has advocated “teaching the debate”, which is code for putting religion into publicly funded schools. “Teaching the Debate” was the strategy creationists developed when SCOTUS told them that teaching creationism in science class was illegal. “Teaching the debate” is a gross violation of the 1st Amendment, as, when you boil it down to fundamentals, amounts to using public dollars to teach a single version of religion. And I hold that 1st Amendment sacred over almost everything. I believe it to be the very bedrock of our democracy.

    I’m not debating the pros and cons of government funding of schools; in fact, for the record, I think you make a very good point against government funding of schools. I am simply stating, that under the system as it stands now, I cannot, nor could ever, vote, for any candidate, Democrat or Republican, who advocated, state sponsored religion.

    And for the record, I agree that a fundie, as misguided as I personally think they are, has every right to teach their kids that the earth was created in 6 days or that evolution is a lie, or that the FSM touches each of us with His Noodly Appendage, or that Marduk is in each and every one of us. That’s what makes this country so great.

    However, that does not mean that I have to vote for them. I believe that any candidate, of any party, who thinks there is a “debate” about evolution, is under scrutiny as to whether they possess the critical thought processes or intellectual curiosity to hold public office–it means they’ve never read the science. If they further believe that this debate should take place in a science classroom….then that says that all that stuff about how the government shall “make no law respecting the establishment of a religion”? Obviously they either don’t know about it, don’t get it, or don’t care. Either way, it means that a politician will never get my vote. Ever. Regardless of any other policy that they may hold. They’ve disrespected the Constitution and that’s about as bad a sin as you can get in my book.

    And also, just to further lower my karma rating, let me say–don’t even start on that “evolution is a religion too!” bull. It’s called “testable hypotheses”. One has them. The other doesn’t.

  19. #19 |  James D | 

    Sorry Elliot you’re wrong. How do you know how ‘old’ the fossils are? Let me guess, by how far down they are in the geologic column? Ok, so how how do you know how old the geologic column is? By what fossils are found in it …. wait a minute folks, that’s circular reasoning.

    And don’t get me started on carbon dating …. which is NOT science: 1) it makes a HUGE assumption about the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere throughout the history of the world being the same (in equilibrium) yet it CURRENTLY isn’t even in equilibrium so how can we know anything about how much carbon 14 was around say 3000 years ago? And 2) carbon dating throws out half of the results because they are inconsistent and LIVING creatures have been carbon dated to tens of thousands of years old? How is that scientific.

    So again, what proof was it that you have for evolution? And where are the magic ‘missing links’ for when say the first fish gave birth to a ‘retard baby’ that had feet and walked onto land?

    Sorry, evolution exists purely as an alternative to ID, it’s not truly science. I’ll keep my religion out of the classroom, can you keep out yours.

    And Salvo (perfect name by the way), ad hominem attacks only prove that your indoctrinate and can’t critically think about the hole in the ‘accepted theory’.

  20. #20 |  James D | 

    (really need a preview button) meant ‘you’re indoctrinated and can’t critically think about the holes’

  21. #21 |  James D | 

    Here’s a link with some questions I’d like answered:
    http://www.vedicsciences.net/articles/darwin-debunked.html

  22. #22 |  Alex | 

    I’m not going to rebut James D because there’s plenty of rebuttal to these creationist propaganda points. I speak well of “evangelicals” (not sure what that means exactly) because I live among them and think they’re generally the salt-of-the-earth, but believing in the 6000 years theory is a matter of faith, not science.

    Salvo,

    You have a problem with the “‘teaching the debate'”, as do I, but Palin said, “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class.” I think there’s an important distinction. The first is a shady way (like ID) to push a political agenda. The second is a reasonable response to people who want to keep all religious discussion out of public schools. Maybe you agree with those peope, and that’s fine, but to me they’re just as objectionable as those who can’t distinguish between banning teacher led prayers during school hours and banning prayer in schools altogher. Like most social issues, 75% of the country is in lockstep and it’s the fringe element that is incapable of associating with those of different ideologies.

    ” that Marduk is in each and every one of us.”

    If you have a connect, quit being a bitch and pill me up.

  23. #23 |  James D | 

    Another good ‘hit list’:
    http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/bias.htm

  24. #24 |  Alex | 

    From James link,

    “The law of entropy in science shows that the universe does not have the ability to have sustained itself from all eternity. In other words, the universe cannot be eternal and requires a beginning.”

    There’s no such thing as a “law of entropy.” There is however a 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (which is what this has to refer to) which basically says that it’s impossible to have a perfect conversion of energy to work. This has absolutely nothing to with how long material can exist. Is this anti-big bang, pro-big bang, or just off the wall?

    Everything else in the article has too many logical fallacies to find a starting point.

  25. #25 |  James D | 

    Bring them on Alex, I’ve heard that statement for years but have yet to see some REAL evidence for evolution …. just “Z looks a little like A but we can’t show you B through Y … just believe us that they did exist’.

    And I wasn’t pushing ‘propaganda’ or purporting that the earth is 6000 years old – there just isn’t necessarily any proof of what age it is. If I’m willing to believe in a timeless deity, then ‘time’ isn’t really that important is it? There’s some good arguments for why the first 3 sentences of Genesis might cover billions of years too.

    I’m not trying to ‘convert’ anyone …. just point out that evolution just might not be the theory we all have been brainwashed to think it was.

  26. #26 |  James D | 

    Name a ‘logical fallacy’ then? Is this one?: “Even if evolution takes millions and millions of years, we should still be able to see some stages of its process. But, we simply don’t observe any partially-evolved fish, frogs, lizards, birds, dogs, cats among us. Every species of plant and animal is complete and fully-formed.”

    It’s one I’d like a ‘logical’ answer to.

    The ‘fossil record’ everyone loves to quote has no ‘partial-creatures’.

  27. #27 |  Alex | 

    If you’re not pushing the 6000 years theory then there is no material distinction between creationism and evolution, which is only a theory (the only one that stands up to strict scrutiny) not a law.

    ““Z looks a little like A but we can’t show you B through Y … just believe us that they did exist’.”

    I haven’t the slightest clue what this means.

  28. #28 |  Alex | 

    You have to define what a partially-evolved creature would look like. Evolutionist would say that a gorilla is a partially-evolved human. What’s wrong with that?

  29. #29 |  Elliot | 

    James D: (#70) So again, what proof was it that you have for evolution? … Sorry, evolution exists purely as an alternative to ID, it’s not truly science.

    Millions of fossils. DNA. The congruence of isolation with speciation in contemporary organisms (e.g., Galapagos). Etc.. Like I said, you can hold a fossil in your hand. You can look at a blot of a DNA sample and reproduce it in a lab thousands of miles away. You can independently perform your own phylogenetic matrix analysis, and compare your results to that of others.

    That is using hard evidence. That is testing and retesting. That is rejecting previously held beliefs when new evidence contradicts them. That is the application of reason to draw conclusions. If that isn’t science, then what is science?

    Creationism, on the other hand, offers no hard evidence. It defies reason in deference to faith. As Laplace told Bonaparte, there is no need for the hypothesis of a creator to explain the universe.

    I’ll keep my religion out of the classroom, can you keep out yours

    I have no religion and no regard for faith. But your request is quite reasonable, once you drop the presumption that there should be “the classroom.” Remove government from education and no one gets to force any ideas on the children of other people. Then, it’s “my children’s classroom” and “your children’s classroom,” and there is no conflict.

  30. #30 |  Edintally | 

    #76 Yes that is one since Man domesticated canines and created “dogs” (not up on my cat history).

    You would garner mush more respect and a lot less animosity if you just admitted what you truly feel. Nobody said it better than a female 30-something during a street interview:

    “I don’t know about evolution. It’s really hard to understand. Creationism is easy so I believe in that.”

    More power to her. I envy her simplistic view of the world, but I can no more stop questioning than she can start thinking. And the world turns round and round.

  31. #31 |  Salvo | 

    Alex,

    I have no problem with discussion of religion in schools. I have no problem with people having a discussion on their own time. What I have trouble with is saying that this debate should be discussed during class time.

    Science class is for teaching science, nothing more, nothing less. If a student asks questions regarding evolution, then by all means, answer the questions.

    But if a student keeps insisting that there is a some sort of “debate” about the existence of evolution…..that’s just wrong. That’s like me insisting to a history professor that the American Civil War didn’t end in 1865, it ended in 1923 with the signing of the treaty of Versailles.

    The truth is, outside of the Discovery Institute nuts, there is not a single evolutionary biologist who thinks there is a debate that there is evolution.

    Yes, scientists debate the mechanics of evolution, but scientists are also debating the mechanics of gravity. That doesn’t mean that gravity doesn’t exist.

    If a student tries to hijack a science class discussion over evolution by claiming that there is a debate to its existence, a teacher should rightly shut it down, just like the history student in my above example should be shut down. There’s a time and a place to discuss religion and biology class ain’t it. If a student wants to form an ID club after school, then go for it. If they want to talk about the debate during a religious class, go for it.

    But not. During. Science class. Saying that there shouldn’t be a prohibition if it comes up in class is the same thing as saying that a history teacher should allow discussions of whether or not the Holocaust really happened(GODWIN!), or saying that an English teacher should allow discussions over whether or not Hamlet is about a Danish prince.

    Therefore, when Palin says such a thing, I take it the only way I can: that she wants to have the “debate” in a science classroom, and if the fundie child brings it up, then all class must stop so that we can examine the “flaws” in evolutionary theory.

    As for the poster who wants to have a debate on the existence of evolution….I’m a lawyer, not a biologist. I can’t answer the “questions” about evolution you have. Yes, I’ve read it all, and the facts are there, but I’m not a scientist, and I wouldn’t want to talk about something if I couldn’t get it all absolutely correct.

    So I’ll let the National Center for Science Education do it for me.

    http://www.natcenscied.org/resources/articles/7719_responses_to_jonathan_wells3_11_28_2001.asp

    That being said, I’m not here to debate evolution. I’m debating the office-worthiness of a candidate who thinks there is a debate that should be held in schools.

    Oh, and an ad hominem attack would be to personally call you a name. Saying that the idea that “evolution is a religion” is wrong, because one has testable hypotheses and one does not is not an ad hominem attack. It would behoove you to learn the difference.

    Either way, I’m done in this thread.

  32. #32 |  Salvo | 

    One addendum, Alex. I’m terribly glad that somebody got the Stimutac reference. Marduk is totally awesome. Though I think he totally knows.

  33. #33 |  James D | 

    I keep hearing of these ‘fossils’ but there are NONE of the ‘in between’ stages? You can’t say an ape is just one standard deviation away from man (or even neanderthal) …. so you do believe that all of sudden nature just ‘produces’ a completely different species? Surely on the internet you can find me just 1 fossil of when say the first fish started partially growing legs so that a few thousand years later some of them could start walking on land?

    I said before that I’m not trying to convince anyone of creationism (or ID of some sort) … it IS religion. I’m purely talking about evolution.

    Edintally’s response is a joke … a wolf/dog/coyote is still basically the same creature there … that’s ‘variation’ not evolution …. nothing was ‘gained’ in domesticating dogs?

    We agree about education … it shouldn’t be state-funded but we will probably never get away from that in my lifetime unfortunately.

  34. #34 |  James D | 

    If Elliot or Alex really want to continue this discussion, then we should exchange emails or something … it’s probably not fair to use Radley’s site for something not related to his original topics.

  35. #35 |  James D | 

    And Salvo, your link with ‘answers’ is about as useful as a politician’s spin … it just deflects the questions, it does not really answer them.

  36. #36 |  Bronwyn | 

    James D, Rather than asking someone to give you basic science lessons via e-mail, might I suggest some reading material?

    It always helps to have your vocabulary down before trying to build an argument in a complex field. And I don’t say that with any intention to condescend. It is simply fact that a person without the proper knowledge will remain incapable of understanding, much less arguing, complicated matters. It’s why I stay out of discussions of, say, philosophy – at least not on the level of Heidegger or Nietzsche – not being well-read enough in the basics, I am not prepared for a competent discussion.

    With that in mind, I suggest you start with “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. It’s a fun read, but serious, and it will introduce you to some of the basic scientific principles which you seem to be missing.

    Then, I suggest some reading from Richard Dawkins who, although not the end-all be-all of evolutionary biology (I have colleagues who disagree with him on certain points), he nevertheless has an excellent handle on communicating the principles behind the theory of evolution by natural selection.

    Start with “The Blind Watchmaker”, which is a wonderfully accessible read, but scientifically sound – although his concept of The Selfish Gene is not quite perfect. I say this as an over-trained, over-educated scientist… when I read it, I didn’t feel as though it was somehow beneath me.

    Then, when you’re ready to take a bigger bite, read “The Ancestor’s Tale”. This one is taking me a while to get through, as it is rather dry, but it is nevertheless fascinating and would surely be enlightening to someone who questions how this could possibly work.

    Hope this helps.

  37. #37 |  Bronwyn | 

    Really? Bad karma for suggesting some excellent reading material?

    Golly.

  38. #38 |  James D | 

    I’ve actually started a couple of those, specifically Dawkins book … but the authors never start out ‘objective’ … Dawkins in particular is about the most arrogant guy I’ve ever seen write something scientific.

    I may try ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’ as I’ve heard it suggested before … but again, I want as ‘objective’ of a scientist as possible … if I dont’ see that once I start to read it, I see no point in continuing. Just like it’s insulting for the news media to believe that any of them are unbiased, the same is also true of scientists …. everyone is a human being with their own biases.

  39. #39 |  James D | 

    Why is the ‘karma’ stuff even a feature of the comments? Are we supposed to only read the positive comments and ignore the negative ones? To me the POINT of being on a site like Radley’s is that opinions SHOULD be diverse, so use clicking ‘yeah, I like that guy’ or ‘no I disagree with that guy’ is kind of pointless isn’t it?

    If I only wanted one sided sites I’d go see the nutballs at Daily Kos or (I guess I don’t know an equivalent one the right that is as loony as Daily Kos).

  40. #40 |  Bronwyn | 

    Dawkins does come across as arrogant, but it’s borne of confidence that isn’t entirely undeserved. Like me, he becomes frustrated with people who insist on arguing without knowing what they’re talking about. It’s not about bias. It’s about knowing what is true and what is real and being utterly frustrated with those who refuse to take off the blinders to see it.

    I’ve learned to put a filter on the attitude and get to the meat. There’s a lot of meat there, and it would be silly to disregard it simply because one doesn’t care for the chef’s personality.

    As far as karma, it’s merely a way for people to express a “hear, hear!” or a “boo”. It’s not censorship by any stretch of the imagination… it’s an extension of free expression of diverse opinions.