I don’t say this lightly, but Saletan is one of the more dishonest pundits out there — I’ve read multiple columns by this guy where he lies with numbers and fudges the evidence to fit his preconceptions, and this is no exception. He’s once again arguing that creationism is compatible with science, and he has to make some dodgy claims to do so. Look here:
And what about the engineers in Ken Ham’s videos—the guys who made demonstrable contributions to science and technology while declaring themselves young-Earth creationists? Those men are what a good social scientist would call “evidence.” They back up the hypothesis that you can be a perfectly good engineer while believing nonsense about the origins of life. We can’t wave that evidence away, any more than we can wave away fossils.
The alternative hypothesis, advanced by McElwee, is that “to espouse [creationism] is to preclude practicing science.” The engineers in Ham’s video falsify that hypothesis. They espouse creationism while successfully practicing science.
Do you see the lie? He eases into it so artfully; these are guys who made “contributions to science and technology” drifts into “you can be a perfectly good engineer” and then he wraps it up by noting that the engineers in Ham’s claims practice science.
Engineers can practice real science, but an engineer is not the same thing as a scientist. I agree that creationists can be perfectly good engineers, but how can you trust the scientific acumen of someone who insists that the earth is only 6,000 years old? That says right there that they have no respect for the evidence. How can Saletan ignore Ham’s bogus distinction between historical and observational science, in which he flatly rejects any possibility of inference about the past from the present? This creationism is utterly incompatible with biology, anthropology, geology, astronomy, climate science, geochemistry, cosmology, and any other science that deals with cause and effect and history. These sciences apparently do not matter to Saletan, as long as engineers make satellites and doctors do surgery.
Saletan cites Ham’s videos as falsifying the claim that creationism is incompatible with science. Ken Ham makes a big deal of this, too.
There are a few problems there. Who says Ray Damadian invented the MRI? Why, Ray Damadian. The Nobel Committee disagrees, since they gave the 2003 prize to Lauterbur and Mansfield for their work on the MRI. Damadian contributed to some aspects of the engineering, but he didn’t ‘invent’ the thing — there was a whole series of people who contributed.
But even if he had been the sole inventor, as Ray Damadian and creationists love to pretend, it doesn’t change the fact that creationism, and Ham’s ignorant redefinition of science, does irreparable harm to science and science education. That two non-scientists, Ken Ham and William Saletan, are urging everyone to ignore lies and delusions and misrepresentations, does not change the fact that any science that takes history seriously gets flushed away by their foolishness.
The image of creationism as an oncoming threat rather than a receding symptom is just another hypothesis. So is the claim that you can’t practice good science while being a creationist. These hypotheses are much beloved among liberals, atheists, and scientists. But the facts are opposed to them. Give them up.
“Much beloved”? What the fuck? What we see is bad science being promoted by a kook with a religious agenda, and useful idiots like Saletan promoting blissful neglect and agreeing with creationists. I am not giving up on biology, which is what Saletan is asking me to do. I am giving up on Saletan.
As pointed out in the comments, Atrios has an excellent takedown of Lord Saletan. I agree with every word.