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Mar 26 2013

Someone advertising his ignorance of how science works

A couple weeks ago, I got a few emails from someone betting me $10.000.00 that I couldn’t prove evolution before a hand-picked Superior court judge.  I said that I could actually.  However there was a catch.  I had to put up $10,000.00 of my own money, and risk that to bypass -and ignore- the peer review process, in order to have evolution proven to a single person rather than a consensus of experts.  This guy wants an environment where I am at the most disadvantaged, in that evidence cannot be presented. Thus the strength of a confident sales pitch in a single informal courtroom can override many decades of academic data gathered by the global scientific community, and be potentially overturned in the media based on the opinion of a layman already biased against science with religious conviction -according to the conditions of the game.

Now this guy, Dr Joseph Mastropaolo is in the news making his absurd challenge, and he even admits that the venue and the rules of the bet are designed such that [he thinks] evidence would be rendered inadmissible.

It seems like this guy doesn’t understand how science works with regard to evidence in peer review, but more likely he does understand that.  He knows that can’t work in his favor, but he holds the opinion that conviction and appearances matter more than accuracy or accountability.  Where sensational publicity matter more than testable experiments.  In other words, he’s a typically dishonest creationist.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    Lord Narf

    Who is the Superior Court judge, for that matter? There are plenty of scientifically-ignorant judges out there, I imagine. Hell, we’ve got Scalia on the US Supreme Court. If you step down a few levels below that, I’m sure you can find all sorts of fundie nut-jobs who will ignore all of the scientific evidence you could put before them, even if they would let you present it.

  2. 2
    Lord Narf

    I also love how he’s putting $10,000 “of his own money” up for this. I guess that after his rich donor gave him the money specifically for this, it became “his own money.” Or the other angle, on the off chance that he had someone take him up on this (in his confused mind, he could think that a scientist somewhere would agree to this sort of stupid stunt), he would be able to spin it in such a way as to get far more than $10,000 in donations to his foundation or whatever, since there are gullible fundies everywhere who will give money to people who will pull this sort of stunt.

  3. 3
    Kevin

    This one’s easy…as long as you get to “hand pick” the judge.

    BTW: A Superior Court judge in many places (most maybe) is the lowest on the totem pole. And they’re lawyers, FFS, not scientists. In some (many) communities, it’s an elected position. So, you have the spectacle of the same quality of voters who think Michelle Bachmann is a fine and dandy Congressperson electing a complete nincompoop to a judgeship. Happens all the time.

    And although science is not adjudicated in a court of law, creationism certainly has been. At least 10 times. And each and every time, it’s been judged to be religion, not science.

    Finally, the fact remains that even if your opponent could disprove evolution, that does not then mean that the creationist hypothesis is correct. Could be aliens. All of his work to prove “goddidit” would be ahead of him, as Hitch used to say.

  4. 4
    Kevin

    I just read the link — he’d want you to take the position that a “nonliteral” interpretation of the bible was more favorable.

    Um…you can’t get past the first 10 words without running smack dab up against an area where science has proven the Bible wrong.

    “In the beginning god created the heavens and the Earth”….Well, no actually. In the beginning there was nothing but energy — too hot for matter. Then came cooling, which resulted in matter, then came stars and galaxies, and then after at least TWO other stars died (one in a super nova), our solar system was formed … about 8 BILLION YEARS after ‘the beginning’.

    10 words. Bible is literally wrong. And it only gets worse from there.

    1. 4.1
      Lord Narf

      Hell, two previous stars is a very conservative estimate. Stars large enough to fuse Uranium have a life-cycle about a 10th or so of ours. The bigger they are, the faster they burn their fuel, collapse, then go boom.

      1. Kevin

        Right. I think Lawrence Krauss pegs the number at three. But there had to be at least two other stars die, one of them in a supernova.

        The point, of course, is that in order to win the case, you don’t have to prove evolution true. You have to show the bible errant.

        10 words in and already something wrong with literalism. Not a promising start.

        1. Lord Narf

          Why two, though? If one was big enough, it would get to the point of fusing all of the elements that we have.

          Why was the second one needed? I guess it could take another 12 billion years or so for our particular chunk of the dust cloud from a first-generation supernova to condense into our solar system … although I freely admit that sounds a little off, and statistically speaking, there were probably multiple supernovas that our solar system came from.

          What am I missing that adds the certainty? And why does Krauss say 3? Something about the proportions of the elements in our solar system?

  5. 5
    L.Long

    Remember he said ‘PROVE evilution before a HANDPICKED judge’
    Whose hand is picking and then the PROVE statement is a fail as all he would have to do is put some small doubt in the judge and you’re toast. Ignore this whole thing as we know how IF-fy any court is.
    No this is silly, as evilution has been proven true in the harsh light of scientific review with an Nobel prize for any who can prove evilution is wrong in any major way….with no winners so far. And the ID wieners are too disadvantaged to ‘prove’ themselves correct.

  6. 6
    ayamesohma

    It’s hardly surprising. They can’t produce arguments for their god, so they resort to excuses semantics and esoteric definitions.

  7. 7
    docsarvis

    Been done already. See Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District. As usual the cdesign proponentsists do not want to hear the truth, preferring their make-believe reality.

  8. 8
    pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    The snark these religious nutbags display towards science is amazing. So what happens when they go to a doctor, and say the doctor tells them they need a pacemaker? Do they start claiming the doctor is full of shit or demanding all this evidence and making wagers that they’re not in need of pacemaker? Probably not!

    Oh, but science is only a problem and untrustworthy when the theory pokes holes in their biblical crap! Then the scientists are somehow completely incompetent and the evidence can never be accepted, etc.

    you’re right, this is just being completely dishonest. It’s because they can’t prove their burden, and they know they can’t, so it’s someone else’s fault.

  9. 9
    Corvus illustris

    From the link:

    [Mastropaolo] has a PhD in kinesiology and taught biomechanics and physiology at a California university for more than 25 years.

    Translated from the creationese: M. is a teacher of gym teachers hoping you’ll believe that kinesiology is superior to biology because the word has more syllables. Oh, and that you don’t realize that in almost all cases, the PhD is just the entry-level qualification for a regular faculty job at a university.

    One of the major failures of (pseudo-)science journalists is their failure to call these guys out on their purported academic qualifications. (Of course they also fail to call out Dembski, who has no reason not to know better, except that [insert usual Upton Sinclair quote here].)

    1. 9.1
      Lord Narf

      I saw that to, but i didn’t really think much of it. So many creationists have bullshit Ph.D.s that I’ve just learned to ignore it.

      A Ph.D. in kinesiology basically means that he’s a mechanic who tries to apply things that real scientists have discovered about human anatomy and biology, right?

      1. Lord Narf

        *saw that, too

        Christ, I must be running way short on caffeine, to make a typo like that.

  10. 10
    Jeremy Shaffer

    A Ph.D. in kinesiology basically means that he’s a mechanic who tries to apply things that real scientists have discovered about human anatomy and biology, right?

    It means that he’s probably a physical therapist or, if he’s omitting the word “applied” from the front of it, a chiropractor.

    1. 10.1
      Lord Narf

      Yeah, I know some chiropractors who push all sorts of insane medical non-science. Doesn’t speak well for this guy.

    2. 10.2
      Corvus illustris

      M. is easy to find on the Cal State Long Beach webpage. He is professor emeritus of physical education, which is as honorable a calling as professorship of many other things (list omitted). That title outranks the PhD as a legitimate academic qualification. The reason that he doesn’t use it is obvious, and the Guardian is negligent in not picking up on this fact.

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