Tucker Carlson’s Cognitive Dissonance

LOL! Tucker Carlson did his best with his constant interruptions designed to unhinge Bill Nye, but became unhinged himself as Nye remained quite calm and provided the answers to what he was asking. But then, Carlson denied Nye was answering the questions because Carlson couldn’t understand the very simple, factual answers.

We humans are still territorial creatures, a legacy of our evolutionary past. Today, we can see our territoriality in political borders, properties and land possessions, supported by law, the police and the military.

We have psychological territories as well (subjective belief that cannot be independently verified as true), such as religion, politics and, yes, even negatives such as global warming science denial.

Many of us cannot allow objective facts (e.g., independently verifiable, human caused, global warming) to encroach on our subjective territories. Tucker’s angry conflict arose when Nye’s objective facts came in contact with his subjective border, and Nye correctly identified it as Tucker’s “cognitive dissonance.”

That Carlson rushed to his border to fight against Nye’s objective facts demonstrates his belief that his territory was threatened, which is why he became angry.

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ANSWERS IN GENESIS: A Profile in Parasitism

Full disclosure: I am not a scientist. I am science literate. But I do not have to be a scientist to vet information given by scientists.


From Merriam Webster:

Parasitism:  an intimate association between organisms of two or more kinds; especially :  one in which a parasite obtains benefits from a host which it usually injures.

Sophistry: the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false.

Prosperity Theology - art source unknown

Prosperity Theology – art source unknown

Recently, I came across an article written by Dr. Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis (AiG), titled, A Big Belief. As most folks know, AiG is an organization, headed by Ken Ham, that advocates Young Earth Creationism (YEC), which holds that the earth was created just as the Bible says, 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. The article set me thinking about the why people follow doctrine that, by any reasonable measure, has been shown to be false. Why do people choose faith over objective facts?

I understand that most people hold their religious beliefs deep within their being. After all, for billions of people on this interstellar vehicle we call Earth, life is little more than hunger, sickness, sham, and drudgery, especially among the poor. Their religious beliefs give them some comfort and hope for a better world to come, if not on this earth, then in a wonderful life hereafter.

My heart goes out to these people of all faiths, and I do not wish to take away hope for a better life. Yet it must be pointed out that blind religious faith (believing a proposition to be true even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) makes one vulnerable to deception and fraud by charismatic personalities such as Ken Ham, Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, Creflo Dollar Jr., Joyce Meyer, Benny Hen–the list goes on. These are seemingly devout personalities who prey on the pious for no other reason than their own economic self interest.

But, how can one tell the impostor from the genuinely-believing minister? They both speak the same religious language, display the same piety, and point to many of the same verses in the Bible.

The face you don't see

The face you don’t see

The first clue is glaringly obvious; their wealth! These predatory charlatans often defend their wealth by what they call Prosperity Theology—the holier one is, the more God rewards him with treasures on Earth. They often put on a glittering, big-stage show, sell many books, and sometimes “lay on hands.” They might point to Job or Abraham as proof of God’s generosity to those of the deepest faith.

For the thinking Christian, this should be recognized as sophistry, and sophistry is the means by which these frauds attach themselves to the mind of the unfortunate believer, inject the poison of a misguided sense of self-worth, and then feed on his hope (sucking it out right through his wallet).

To avoid these fakes, the thinking Christian must ask himself; What is the real message from the Gospels–the message I am supposed to be following?

Matthew 6:19-21

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

and,

Matthew 19:23  ¶

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:24

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

and,

Luke 18:22-23  Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

Now the Christian must ask himself if his minister, and/or anyone else to whom he contributes, follows the aforesaid prescription. If not, then they are frauds.

Secondly, to avoid harm, the Christian needs to understand that there are true-believing ministers who are delusional and dangerous. They seek not only your money, but your very being as well. These are folks like Jim JonesMarshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate, and David Koresh of the Branch Davidians. It is unfortunate, but apparently there always will be lost people vulnerable to these passionate, but insane folks, and I can see little that can be done other than through education and psychological help.


So, what does all the above have to do with Answers In Genesis, Dr. Faulkner, Ken Ham, and their Creation Museum?

Ham’s income at Answers in Genesis is a modest 150,000 per year, but added to that are speaking fees (he’s among the most sought after speakers in fundamentalist circles as well as one of the top spokes persons for the media on the subject of creationism) and book sales numbering in the millions. The man is a millionaire.

A scientist reviews Dr. Faulkner's work

A scientist reviews Dr. Faulkner’s work

Ham’s sophistry (the injection device): The article by Dr. Danny Faulkner is an excellent example of sophistry. Leaving out pertinent details and facts can be as deceptive as simply lying. It amounts to disinformation, or propaganda. Most Christians recognize such deceptions–when they recognize them–as “bearing false witness.”

In his article, Faulkner argues that the Big Bang–the current accepted scientific model of the beginning of the Universe, space, and time–cannot be true because, (1) it is, “fraught with problems,” (2) “different parts of the [Cosmic Microwave Background] CMB have precisely the same temperature.” and that, (3) the model does not agree with the Bible’s account of creation.

The first claim (1) amounts to misinformation, and his use of the use of the word, “fraught” is designed to cast doubt on the entire theory before any evidence is given or vetted. It is true that there are anomalies/problems within the Big Bang Theory, but problems are a normal characteristic of scientific research. Suggesting otherwise is misleading. Science is progressive. The more question solved through research, the more questions those solutions raise. Greater knowledge is gained over time, especially by the advent of better technology–new and more finely-tuned instrumentation.

This leads us to (2), the claim of temperature uniformity in the CMB. The claim was correct when the CMB was first discovered accidentally, but not now. As technology advanced and finer tuned instruments were developed, minute fluctuations in the temperature were discovered, and the explanation was given. Faulkner should have known this.

That the Big Bang theory does not agree with the Bible (3), is an astonishing statement coming from a scientist. It is an atrocity to reason. It is choosing the authority of an ancient, pre-science, unauthenticated story over modern, objective, scientific research. The statement is so far from scientific, that to be spoken by a scientist, it reaches the greatest possible height of absurdity.

Still, statement does lay bare very reason for the existence of AiG. It is the primary argument of the creationist–though often unacknowledged–and it is the very reason why creationism is not science. Faulkner should, and probably does, know this.

What was left unsaid: By far the most salient fact that Faulkner left out of his article was the primary reason for the Big Bang Theory. In my mind, the way to refute the Big Bang Theory is to show that the physics of the Red Shift, or the Doppler Effect, is false. And the likelihood of that happening is infinitesimally small–it ain’t gonna happen, folks.

One last point. Recent advances in theoretical physics are suggesting the possibility that our universe may not be the only universe in existence. Indeed, models now taking shape tend to solve some of the problems within the Big Bang Theory.


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel exploring the nature of biblical, Divine Justice–as opposed to humanistic justice. Was Descartes wrong and God was a deceiver, after all? What would the world be like if empathy, not self interest, were our primary motivating force?

Creationism in Science Class: Why Not?

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I recall reading a joke some years back that asked, If evolution is true and humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes? Answer – Well, because some were given a choice. I laughed, but there is a molecule of passive truth there. Natural selection, though not offering a choice, is in fact, selective, although blindly so.

I’ve been considering this article for months now. It is no easy task to attempt an empathetic approach to such an emotional and divisive subject—emotional and divisive, of course, for biblical literalists. Yet, in order for there ever to be some progress in finding common ground, first and foremost we must not approach the subject of human evolution in a confrontational manner. We are creatures of reason and through reason we can find solutions—if we want them.

The impetus for moving ahead with this article was provided by a follower of my blog who opined recently that even though he agreed with me that creationism does not belong in science class, he felt that neither does “Darwinism.”

I can understand the blogger’s frustration. There is a world of misinformation about the Theory of Evolution and the great majority of Americans have little or no formal education in evolutionary biology. The great majority of folks have been taught from tothood that God created the world and all thereupon much as we see it today.

But evolution is not a theory of the origin of life. It is a theory of the origin of species—not how life on earth began, but how it became so diverse.

In this article, my intent is not to convince anyone of evolution or creationism, but to try and dispel some misconceptions about science. Understanding these misconceptions is the only way common ground can possibly be achieved.

Many folks over the past century and a half have learned to accept the growing body of scientific evidence for evolution by deciding that evolution was likely the way God chose to create human beings and that the Genesis creation stories are meant as metaphors. That’s fine. After all, nowhere in the corpus of the Theory of Evolution does it deny that a supreme being started the “Ball of Cause and Effect” rolling.

For many, adding to the difficulty of accepting the science is the fact that reading scientific articles on the theory can be quite dry and boring. Most folks have enough on their hands just making a living and finding time to feel at one with the family—to maintain that sense of identity and belonging we humans need. Thus, there is little time or inclination to sit down and educate oneself about evolution.

Too, I am well aware that the idea of human evolution is considered by many theists to be cold, soulless, without purpose, and therefore quite frightening. It is no wonder that biblical literalists do not want their children exposed to the theory and want it replaced in science classes by Intelligent Design (creationism). It is thought, too, that if one accepts evolution, then he no longer has a moral foundation on which to build his life. This is a false notion. A philosophical foundation for a moral and empathetic life can be every bit as strong as a religious foundation.

Greatly complicating the issue of creationism and evolution is our own language, and topping the list of complications is the word, “theory.” Dictionaries offer several meanings and even some of these are lacking.

Merriam-Webster, for example, offers the scientific definition as: “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wavetheory of light>.”

While this definition is true, it really doesn’t do justice to the word—i.e., it doesn’t explain the special method used to reach scientific acceptability. One is, therefore, left with something akin to the popular definition of the word “theory,” which is a “speculation,” or “hunch,” or “assumption,” as in, “that’s just a theory,” or, “It is my theory that the butler did it.” This popular definition is fine for the general public, but not for science.

Wikipedia has a decent definition in the last sentence of its first paragraph:

A theory is not the same as a hypothesis [Hypothesis: an intelligent deduction or guess based on known facts, experience and past scientific studies] . . . a theory is a ‘proven’ hypothesis, that, in other words, has never been disproved through experiment, and has a basis in fact. (Bracketed comment and italics mine)

Note that the word “proven” is in quote marks followed by a meaning not normally used in everyday language. That is because, ideally, science does not consider a theory to be the final and ultimate “proof.” For example, we all know that gravity exists, but science refers to it as the “theory of gravitation,” which is an ongoing field of science as is the theory of evolution.

Simply put, a scientific theory it is a systematically, methodically and independently tested, best explanation for understanding natural phenomena based on evidence—a theory was a hypothesis, but has withstood the rigors of the scientific method. Here is a simple example of the scientific method:

A scientist observes a natural phenomenon, the origin or nature of which is not fully understood.

The scientist attempts to explain the phenomenon by formulating a hypothesis based on her knowledge of a history of observations, studies and experiments that may be relevant.

The scientist then formulates ways to test her hypothesis such that, if it is true, a particular outcome is predictable.

If, at any time during her testing, she disproves her hypothesis—her prediction was incorrect—she throws out the hypothesis in favor of another that better fits the evidence. Then she sets about testing the new hypothesis.

If, after exhausting all tests, she cannot disprove it, then she publishes her findings and the details of her experiments in a peer reviewed, scientific journal. This allows other scientists in her field to independently duplicate her tests for validation and develop tests of their own in an effort to further verify the hypothesis or disprove it.

After many years of predictions and testing demonstrate that the hypothesis cannot be disproved, the hypothesis becomes accepted as a scientific theory. And, that theory is a tentative conclusion because, ideally, science is always open to new evidence that might render the conclusion false.

This is the scientific method and it is why the theory of evolution belongs in science class. Without it, so much of biology and medical science would not make sense.

On the other hand, a creationist begins with the conclusion that God created everything very much as we see it today (I call this the “Poof Hypothesis,” not meaning to be condescending, but descriptive). Most often the research of the creationist is trying to find ways to refute evolutionary science. He will search in nature or mathematics for facts that might be construed to place some aspect of evolution in doubt. All evidence found that may support evolution is discarded or reinterpreted. At no time will the conclusion—that God created all things very much as we see them today—be doubted. This is not the scientific method, and therefore, does not belong in science class.

So, why is there so much misinformation about the theory of evolution? Sadly, all too often in their zeal to debunk evolution as a science, creationists will propagate incorrect information by extracting out of context comments by evolutionary scientists, thereby misrepresenting what the scientist actually said. For more information on this, see http://ncse.com/book/export/html/6711

Too, we have the ridicule factor:

Image

I would highly recommend watching the free reenactment (video) of the Dover, PA trial, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The site offers the trial transcript by which one may download to verify the authenticity of the reenactment. The reenactment, however, not only follows the transcripts closely but also demonstrates the unfortunate social cost to the community.

——————————————

Max T. Furr, author of the novel, The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical/spiritual drama.

JoAnn Chateau

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