Joined: Oct. 2005
|Quote (Louis @ June 10 2007,08:49)|
|****ATTENTION: THE FOLLOWING IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MEAN AT ALL****|
Why start at "peer reviewed papers"? Why not go and get a basic science education? One you clearly lack.
Here's the thing. By most people's standards, I am almost completely uneducated. I.e., I have a diploma from an American high school. I took three science classes in four years of high school (biology, chemistry, and physics—I couldn't fit a science class into my weird freshman year schedule). I took a science class in seventh and eighth grade—a basic biology course and a basic physical science course. That's it in terms of formal education in the sciences.
And I suck at math.
Nevertheless, I have had a life-long fascination with the sciences. I'm interested primarily in physics, astronomy, and cosmology, but after dealing with creationist cranks for the last two years or so, I've also become much more interested in geology, biology, genetics, zoology, paleontology, physical anthropology, and cladistics.
I've read a lot of popular scientific works over the years. I've read (twice, beginning to end) A Brief History of Time. I have Peeble's Principles of Physical Cosmology, and have read it, but the damned thing is bristling with mathematical formulae, my understanding of which is slightly better than a cocker spaniel's. I've read most of Dawkins' books on zoology and evolution other than The Selfish Gene (it's on my list). I've read Michio Kaku, Lee Smolin, Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, and, of course, On the Origin of Species. I've subscribed to Scientific American since 1978, when I was a sophomore in high school (and the cover story was about Benoit Mandelbrot and fractal geometry).
I can't pretend to have understood more than a fraction of this stuff. And this is the popular literature. I probably couldn't understand more than 5% of the actual peer-reviewed primary literature even in the fields I'm currently most interested in, e.g., cladistics, physical anthropology, zoology, and paleontology.
Therefore, when people (young-earth creationists) try to impress me with the claim that they've read peer-reviewed papers, but know nothing about nested hierarchies, radiometric dating techniques and the calibration methods thereof, undirected mutation and natural selection, common descent with modification, or express doubt about the evidence for an earth billions of years old, I laugh at them and make fun of them.
There is simply no way anyone who has even the most nodding acquaintance with fields as diverse as geology, astronomy, zoology, paleontology, or physics could possibly doubt that the universe is tens of billions of years old, that the earth is billions of years old, that life has existed for billions of years, that all organisms that have ever lived are related by common descent with modification from one or a small number of common ancestors, and that biodiversity is entirely accounted for by relatively simple and reasonably well-understood mechanisms of evolution. There is simply no room for reasonable doubt on any of these matters, no matter how much creationists like to pretend otherwise.
A claim to have read primary literature, when one displays yawning gaps in knowledge, preposterously incorrect beliefs about what the standard theories even say, and doubts scientific findings that have been confirmed over and over again by hundreds of thousands of research papers is nothing but an ill-supported appeal to authority.
If you've read them, but haven't understood them, you're worse off than someone like me, who hasn't read them, but at least gets the fundamental concepts.
2006 MVD award for most dogged defense of scientific sanity
"Atheism is a religion the same way NOT collecting stamps is a hobby." —Scott Adams