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That Had to Hurt…


Stephen Metcalf hits back at Saletan, and leaves a mark:

The crux of Saletan’s pieces was his Liberal Creationist analogy. The analogy is hopeless along several competing dimensions, but it reminded me of the Dilettante’s First Law of Empirical Narcissism. In a moment of controversy, the temptation to proclaim yourself an avatar of truth, and your opponent a faith-based inquisitor, is natural enough. But Darwin is Darwin thanks to generations of independent corroboration. By definition, generations of independent corroboration do not stand behind a thesis that is still being hotly contested. In claiming Darwin (or Copernicus or Galileo) for his cause, a person is often by implication saying: There would be consensus here, but for you damned critics! This is an odd definition of consensus. Conversely, when one’s angry reaction to an idea is being adduced as evidence in its favor, one should ask: What does my anger have to do with the truth-content of your idea? If you told me there was a genetic basis to Jewish avarice, I would be angry. So what? What does my anger have to do with your crappy research?

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