I was having way too much fun at Friendly Atheist the other day, and Ingrid insisted that I share the joke with the rest of the class.
Warning: I have disabled my snark checker for this post.
So via Friendly Atheist comes this story of Scott Adams -- yes, of "Dilbert" fame -- who is apparently some sort of anti-evolution Galileo fallacy crank. Except only sort of, and in this totally half-assed way. He said the following in an interview on the Freakonomics blog:
Q: What do you see as the actual flaws in the Darwin-esque explanations for evolution, and what possibilities can you see for alternate explanations of the phenomena and evidence?
A: Evolution passes all the tests of science to be treated as a fact. But if physicists someday demonstrate that our perception of reality has no connection to actual reality, which I consider likely, then evolution is just a point of view, albeit a useful one.
My main criticism of evolution has to do with the way it is presented to the public. And beyond that, I enjoy yanking the chain of people who think they believe things for actual reasons as opposed to taking a side.
Okay. Deep breath. Solipsism 101, for Scott Adams, the very slow student in the back:
If our perception of reality bears no connection to actual reality, then NOTHING we see or know or understand is true. NO theory of reality is better than any other. NO theory has more evidence to support it than any other theory -- since all evidence is false.
We need to either discard the "our perception of reality bears no connection to actual reality" theory as both useless and highly unlikely (after all, how likely is it that our species would have survived if our perceptions bore no connection whatsoever to reality)...
...or STOP WASTING THE CLASS’S TIME WITH YOUR STUPID ARGUMENTS! If no theory is any better than any other, then why are you wasting all our time trying to convince us that yours is right?
Now, if your point is that our perception of reality distorts actual reality... like, duh. But that, in fact, is exactly why we have the scientific method -- to screen out human error and bias and the distortions of our perception and understanding, as much as we possibly can.
And the theory of evolution is overwhelmingly supported by the scientific method, from every relevant scientific discipline there is.
In other words, that’s not an argument against evolution.
It's an argument for it.
I mean... "what is reality?" You're really trying to argue "what is reality?" "What is reality?" is only interesting to college freshman. Maybe college sophomores, if they smoke too much weed. It's an important point to understand... but it's also an important point to move past already. As many commenters on F.A. pointed out -- what, you think we're living in the Matrix?
And as to the part about liking to yank people's chains: Oh, for the love of Mike. Not the gadfly fallacy again. "Geniuses throughout history have gotten under people's skin and made them angry. I get under people's skin and make them angry. Therefore, I must be a genius."
If that were true, then Bill O'Reilly would be freakin' Einstein.
"What is reality." Please. Grow up. As people in the F.A. comment thread pointed out, when your opponent starts saying, "Well, how do we know what's real, anyway?" you know you've won the argument.
And on that note, I'd like to leave you with yet another video from cdk007, YouTube science video maker par excellence. Titled "All Ideas are NOT Created Equal," it's a very clear, very funny video explanation of why we don't, in fact, have to give all ideas equal time and equal weight. Tagline: "Truth is not a democracy." Video after the jump.
FYI, you don't need sound for this video. There is music in the background, but it's not necessary at all for the content -- the content is all visual.