Thursday, September 14, 2006

Meeting Michael Shermer

` As you may have surmised, a couple of days ago I dragged Lou to the Town Hall belonging to Seattle. Yes, that's right. Apparently Seattle is a town. We were there to listen to a lecture by the famous skeptic Michael Shermer.
` As Lou was quite drugged and injured, it was easy to take advantage of him. Miraculously, I found a place to park just on the corner around sunset. Nice building, eh?

` Lucky me, I happened to run into Dr. Shermer just before he went onstage. (I said; "Hey! I know you!") I asked him if he thought that experimenting on Lou was kind of an unethical thing to do. He said of homeopathy believers; "Well, that's how I think you should treat 'em."
` Hooray! Michael Shermer officially approves of my evil experiments! Right. Well, what else can a mad scientist do?

` Then he got up and talked a bunch about his new book, Why Darwin Matters and read parts of it aloud. There wasn't much I already didn't know or hadn't heard of, really, but I still managed to pay attention because he's such a lovely speaker.
` You may find it interesting that such a prominent skeptic used to be a born-again 'Jesus Freak' because of peer influence, and he learned about creationism in the Christian schools he went to. After getting his bachelor's at Pepperdine, he went off to a secular college to study to become a theologian.
` Here he discovered the scientific method, which he discovered was incredibly useful because you can empirically discover evidence about anything without hearsay. Also along the way, just for fun, he enrolled himself in an evolution class.
` When he actually began learning about evolution, he realized; "Wait! This isn't at all what the creationists were telling me! They have it all wrong!" It wasn't long before he realized that creationism is nuts, and thus began his interest in skepticism.
` Furthermore, he also discovered that - while creationists think that scientists are just blowing them off because they're always in agreement - scientists actually argue furiously over details of how evolution may work. The creationists don't seem to understand that, unless you can hold your own in an argument (which, among other things, involves using the scientific method), you don't stand a chance!

` In this next Sub-Par, Blurry Digital Photo, Michael has just placed a water goblet and a bottle on the table. He was using them to illustrate the 'God of the Gaps' argument. The creationists (including those of the intelligent design movement) sometimes argue that 'science hasn't discovered what could cause this. Therefore it's God.' Well what good is that?

` One of many reasons that I've covered on this blog is the fact that you have to assume that the explanation of any physical phenomenon can be found, even if it seems impossible. If a scientist handed in a paper saying that they were baffled and couldn't explain something, and their conclusion was that it was a miracle of God's, then how could you argue that it wasn't?
` Challenging 'unsolvables' invariably turns up, eventually, a physical explanation. As a result, God's gaps have gotten much smaller over the years and many creationist claims of unexplainable phenomena necessitating miracles have been unambiguously, flat-out proven wrong.
` The particular reason that Shermer was putting water containers on the table was to illustrate the God of the 'fossil gaps', you could say. First, creationists want you to fill the gap between whales and their extinct hoofed relatives. So, he placed another object between them to illustrate a transitional species called Ambulocetus, an otter-like crocodile-like mammal that can be said to resemble both of them. But now, you have two gaps and they want you to explain both of those!
` ...Of course, the 'gaps' between the hoofed relatives, Ambulocetus, and whales have been filled, which provides creationists with even more gaps!

` I just thought it was kind of funny.
` After the lecture, Michael stuck around to sign books. Much like this one. I didn't bring any of my own, so I bought his book instead. Why not?
` Apparently, the closer you get to Michael, the less blurry he becomes....

` He wrote: 'Best wishes with your writing career,' as my writing is more important to me than my science career. Well, both can go together, obviously. And I asked him (since Intelligent Design is the fourth phase of creationism tactics), what the next evolutionary stage for Intelligent Design might be.

` Apparently, that is unforseeable as of now, because ID is probably going to be around for quite a while, and I don't remember what else he said.... Though, I do remember Lou saying; "Super-Intelligent Design?"
` That would be amusing. First, they try to ban the teaching of evolution, then they try to teach creationism in class, then changed it to 'creation science', which eventually became 'ID' theory (which is a theory in 'hunch' sense, not the 'used in practice, tried-and-true' sense)... in order to get rid of evolution, they would have to shut down all of science, as numerous fields now depend on evolutionary theory!
` That would be awfully hard to do.


Galtron said...

That's cool that you got to see Mike Shermer, not that I know much about him. ....I also had no idea he was so blurry in person!

I'm surprised, also, that you published so many pictures in one post on here! Does that mean there will be more?

Which reminds me, I likey the Scary Sidebar Cat. I think it's one of your better monstrosities.

S E E Quine said...

` Yeah, he's blurry a lot. ...Just like bigfoot!
` I like to let the pictures themselves dictate when or if they go up.
` Glad you like my scary sphinx cat! It's actually quite friendly. ...Except it does enjoy the taste of human flesh.