Wednesday, November 04, 2009

David Berlinski: The Devil's Delusion & The Deniable Darwin

Here is a succinct (but detailed and precise) summary of the fatal flaws of Darwinian evolution, presented by a prominent scholar and critic of the theory. Berlinski, it should be noted, is a (self-described) secular Jew--not a "religious partisan."

Here is a link to a article published in 1996 in Commentary Magazine and included in the recently released anthology of essays: THE DENIABLE DARWIN. The last section, "On the Derivation of Ulysses from Don Quixote," is priceless--a literary tour de force.


Anonymous said...

On exactly what grounds is he a "prominent scholar"? Are you confusing reality with fantasy?

As Mark Perakh has pointed out, "For example, David Berlinski, usually referred to as a mathematician, has authored popular books on mathematics, and papers against evolution, but has no known record of his own contribution to the development of mathematics or of any other science."

RKirk said...

Anyone with the intellectual curiosity to think for himself would read Berlinski and make a decision based on the author's observations. He would, in other words, deal with the arguments. For those who are afraid to read and consider any ideas that aren't approved by the insular intellectual tyrants that rule the academic world, ad hominem insults will do.

For such folks the educational and professional bio provided below will not be persuasive--since critics of the regnant paradigm of biology will be dismissed simply because they are critics, regardless of the persuasiveness of their arguments.

David Berlinski was born to Jewish-German refugees from Nazi Germany who immigrated to New York City, and German was his first spoken language. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University.

He was a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University, and was a research fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Institut des Hautes √Čtudes Scientifiques (IHES) in France. He has taught philosophy, mathematics, and English at Stanford, Rutgers, the City University of New York, the University of Washington, the University of Puget Sound, San Jose State University, the University of Santa Clara, the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and taught mathematics at the Universit√© de Paris.

He has written works on systems analysis, the history of differential topology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics. Berlinski is known for his books on mathematics and the history of mathematics written for the general public. These include A Tour of the Calculus (1997) on calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm (2000) on algorithms, Newton's Gift (2000) on Isaac Newton, and Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics (2005). Another book, The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky (2003), compares astrological and evolutionary accounts of human behavior.


To the memory of my material grandfather, Samuel Goldfein

15.1.1877 Purzani

auf den Transportlisten von 19.9.42um 17.2.43 gestrichen

am 27.2.43 nach Dresden

am 29.3.43 nach Theresienstadt

am 18.12.43 nach Auschwitz deportiert

in Auschwitz verschollen

Anonymous said...

You can't have it both ways: you can't make an appeal to Berlinski's authority (which is what you are doing by calling him a "prominent scholar" and then advertising his PhD and publications) and then turn around and disavow such claims to authority by pretending that it is self-evident that Berlinski's thoughts are worth taking seriously if only the rest of us would "deal with the arguments." Or that it is ad hominem in Perakh points out that Berlinski's publications are not accepted as genuine academic work. Furthermore, you are yourself asserting a claim to authority as someone capable of evaluating and judging debates in evolutionary science, not to mention someone who can grasp the delusion of the international academic world in general. (It would be especially ironic if you substantiate a claim to authority in judging evolutionary science by falling back on the grad work you did in philosophy of science).

It is hardly an ad hominem insult to point out that descriptors like "prominent scholar" is a intentionally misleading attempt to give Berlinski a mantle of intellectual authority. The only people giving him any such prominence are those who are themselves not members of the scholarly community (those who could confer prominence as a scholar) and who don't have the skill set or knowledge to evaluate complex scientific problems. Let's call him what he is - a activist prominent in ID circles.

It is also ironic that you decry the insular academic world. That world is hardly insular as it extends across much of the North-Atlantic West and beyond. Furthermore, in fields like the sciences, especially, it extends into the large segment of society who are practicing scientists.

But instead we are supposed to assume that the group of evolutionary critics and ID defenders that has almost its entire financial support and popular support from evangelicals is some how not insular? The academy draws from a far wider spectrum of demographic backgrounds. It doesn't need to go around parading its one Jewish thinker (you even exploit the Holocaust!) as evidence of its cosmopolitanism. The academic community works through intellectuals trying to convince each other through academic, peer-reviewed research. If your blog is any judge, the anti-evolutionary science movement works by unqualified bloggers and other popularizes pretending that all the intellectual world is wrong but for their little corner of it. That they alone, isolated from the real intellectual world, can be the judge of all.

If you are so intent on dealing with the arguments, I would direct you to doing intellectual labor of engaging with intellectuals rather than preaching the good word to all who bother to listen.

RKirk said...

Anonymous asks me to justify the use of the word “prominent” in describing David Berlinski’s scholarship. The term “prominent” covers a wide range of meaning from “noticeable” and “widely known” (which Berlinski is by virtue of his writings) to someone who is “favorably known” within a particular discipline (which Berlinski is not by reason of his dissent from regnant Darwinian Orthodoxy). I provide a list of books written by Berlinski along with his educational and professional background as evidence that Berlinski is qualified to make observations worthy of consideration—which is the point of presenting his material on my blog.

Anonymous then says I am using an illegitimate appeal to “authority” by responding to Anonymous’ own objection about Berlinski’s qualifications to participate in this discussion.

Oddly, Anonymous fails to provide his/her list of qualifications that qualifies him/her to sort out who can participate in the discussion of evolutionary theory. Heck, Anonymous fails to provide a name. Nevertheless, Anonymous suggests that I am not on an intellectual level that would permit me to post Berlinski’s criticism of Darwinism. Well, at least I have some graduate school and post-graduate background in the topic (which Anonymous is somehow aware of but, unsurprisingly, discounts). What I wish to know are the credentials that qualify Anonymous to fill the august role of Pontificator of Legitimate Evolutionary Discourse.

The “argument from authority” is Anonymous’ fallacy, not mine. I never said Berlinski is right or wrong because of his educational background. I ask folks to listen to his well-articulated and succinct statement of basic arguments—which are not unique to Berlinski. They concern the patently dishonest “evolutionary tree”--which any honest participant in the discussion knows is a fabrication that doesn’t remotely reflect the actual fossil record. These arguments also concern the statistical improbability of emergent life and macro-evolutionary changes, given the fundamental Darwinian belief in the random alignment of protein-chains within DNA. Berlinski adds that computer programs based on algorithms honestly consistent with evolutionary presuppositions produce nothing but gibberish.

Anyone familiar with the historical debate about Darwinism knows the degree of deception and intimidation that is employed by Darwinist Orthodoxy to squelch debate. (Cf. the ontology / phylogny hoax of E. H. Haeckel that continues to be found in biology textbooks; the denial of tenure to anyone outside the Orthodox Darwinian establishment, e.g. Guillermo Gonzales; the after-the-fact pulling of articles from prominent science publications if they are critical of Darwinian orthodoxy.)

Given that record of intimidation and dishonesty (a tradition with which Anonymous seems quite comfortable) it is entirely appropriate to note the obvious connection between Darwinian thought (which was “prominent” in Germany prior to Hitler) and the Holocaust that directly affected Berlinski’s extended family—a “link” that may help explain his courage in speaking out in the face of "academic" intimidation.