Monday, August 01, 2005
Papa Dawk & Baby Dawk
DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN. Just over a week ago I wrote a little essay about evolution that produced the results I prognosticated.
I'll predict that if any evolutionists read this piece, they'll attack me in one or more of three ways. 1) They'll get personal immediately, calling me an idiot, a moron, a religious nut, etc. 2) They'll deny my right to discuss the subject at all because I don't have a degree in evolutionary biology, as if freedom of speech were now subject in the scientific world to a kind of poll tax. 3) They'll find one or several errors, or anything that might be interpreted as an error, to argue that this makes the whole discussion invalid. But it isn't. They can patronize and condescend to me all they want, but not one of them can persuasively explain the process by which wild plants became useful domestic crops. I'll keep my powder dry on that one till later.
Subsequent comments suggest that I am at least scientist enough to make accurate predictions about the responses of the orthodoxy. Then I discovered that InstaPunk was being scrutinized by a high priest of science so archetypal that he will hereinafter be designated Baby Dawk for his intellectual and personality resemblance to the Wild Boor of Evolution, Richard Dawkins. Of course, Baby Dawk is Icelandic rather than English, but he certainly has the sly sneering hauteur down to a tee. Here's what he writes about his relationship with students:
But, I, as matter of an ideological absolute, do often make many of the students feel uncomfortable, if not actually threatened; my actions lead to some students receiving lower grades, because I insist that some questions have unique answers, as determined by me, independent of the student's beliefs or past educational experience. I do this as a matter of personal philosophy; I feel strongly that their educational experience would be incomplete and inadequate if I did not push them to face these issues, and to realise that their knowledge may be incomplete or faulty.
He does all this for Penn State, home of the Nittany Lions, Cuntfest, and five national titles as the number one party school east of the Mississippi.
What put him on my trail was a piece I did months ago about how much fun it would be to reform American colleges and universities with M1 tanks. Baby Dawk was not amused:
A wannabe instapunk suggests an Operation Academic Freedom in May 2005.
Tanks, shmanks. An M1A has about as much chance against Harvard as the instapunk has outarguing a Professor of Women Studies.
Select Committees are the True Weapons of Choice in Operation Academic Freedom.
With Penn State issuing his paychecks, I could certainly understand why he's terrified of Womens Studies professors. But he wasn't ready to stop there. He had also glanced at my current post for ten seconds or so and therefore understood it and me in pitiless detail:
How cute, "instapunk" is a creationist too. Loser.
It would do no good to point out, I'm sure, that he drew his inference from a piece that contained the sentence, "I'll clarify the point I'm making by explaining that I believe the Creationists are dead wrong in their whole approach to the problem, and I believe the evolutionists are substantially wrong about process." Which makes me a creationist. I see. Such reductionism applied to a piece whose principal purpose was to suggest that there might be some worthwhile middle ground between the two polarities of the question was a perfect demonstration of the irrational tunnel vision of both creationists and evolutionary biologists.
So I owe Baby Dawk a huge thank you. Every snide superior wisecrack is another underscore of my point that we are dealing with two rigid orthodoxies here -- both committed less to the truth than to, say, legbreaking.
Today, I dared to write about another subject I don't have a PhD. in (such nerve, don't you know, from one of the unwashed. It must rankle awfully). That one's here in case you somehow missed it. I had a hunch that it might rub Baby Dawk the wrong way and it did. Here's his take:
Astronomy gets punk'd
The interesting thing about crackpots is that they're consistent in their whackiness [sic].
instapunk, having disposed of evolution, here explains why we need to worry about astronomy - I have to confess I don't quite get the jump from Deep Impact to cosmology - but then I am part of the problem.
Strangely, the dispute between "traditional" cosmologists and the "electric universe" proponents does mirror the debate between evolutionsts and creationsts; just not in the way instapunk seems to think.
BTW both UVES and XMM Newton detected water/OH from C/Tempel-1 - with flux increasing post-impact.
The interesting thing about his little potshot is that if he teaches astrophysics (as he seems to) and "doesn't get the jump from Deep Impact to cosmology," he really is part of the problem. I'm not pretending to be a scientist, but he is, and it's his job to know even the wildest speculations in his field. His students, after all, are amateurs and may actually possess enough curiosity to investigate areas of thought he regards as the fringe. When I look at political affairs, I certainly don't pretend that the crazy left doesn't exist and doesn't have a perspective (Sorry, B.D. if I just chunked another of your sacred cows, but, yeah, Papa Dawk qualifies there too).
The other alternative -- there's always more than one, don't you know -- is that he's sandbagging, that he knows damn well what the link is between Deep Impact and the possible result that comets are made of rock rather than ice. Which would mean, of course, that just as with evolution, he's so superior to everyone and everything that he can't bring himself to entertain a different thought for a nanosecond. That's a real intellectual for you.
So I owe him yet another thank you for proving that some stereotypes really are dead accurate and unintentionally amusing to all the punks of the world who don't give a rat's ass what the Swarthmorons think. If they do.
UPDATE 8-3-05. Baby Dawk didn't like me using his picture without linking to the picture-page on his blog. Elsewhere this can be considered sucking up other people's bandwidth. This makes me a coward apparently.. (I'd love to have a dime for every graphic that's been swiped from my site by "friendly" blogs.) Anyway. I hate to distress the toffs. We now have a new graphic, created by me, which makes it a work of art. I think he'll like it. They're both exceptionally beautiful gents. Something about those mischievous eyes and rugged togs, don't you know? Swarthmorons.PS.1-39.