Please forgive me: you’ve probably all forgotten Fred Hutchison, the incredibly delusional right-wing paragon of hubris, but I’ve got to bring him up again. He wrote one of the more painful diatribes against evolution on Alan Keyes “Renew America” site (yeah, that Alan Keyes; you know we’re deep in crazytown already) which I ripped up a while back. This is a guy who gets everything wrong, and wraps it all up in the most astonishingly pretentious, arrogant tone. Hutchison himself is a CPA. He thinks he has demonstrated that Darwin and Einstein were all wrong.
That’s right. He thinks he is a master of both biology and physics, and thinks Einstein was all wet. He also doesn’t believe in global warming, is upset about gay marriage and gay adoptions, fought in the war for Christmas, and is certain Terri Schiavo was conscious because “Consciousness must subsist in the incorporeal spirit”. He’s also against abortion because he’s come up with metaphysics superior to that of Descartes and Aristotle.
They are awful to read. Hutchison’s usual style is to throw out great gusty piles of false history and pseudo-philosophy to back up his dissent from basic ideas in science, and then he expects to collapse in the face of his simple denial. For instance, after noodling around about water and carbon and nitrogen cycles, he claims CO2 simply can’t contribute to warming the earth, because there is “no understandable mechanism or process that explains how CO2 gas in the atmosphere increases heat on earth”. He’s not just arguing against the role of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in global warming—he’s denying that gases contribute to the temperature of the earth, period. I guess this brilliant polymath never heard of John Tyndall, who presented empirical evidence that it happens…in the 1860s.
He’s a forgettable fool, distinctive only for his blissfully ignorant incompetence. However, he has now gone beyond the usual noise to arrogant strutting in a new article, “A dilettante debates the scientists”. He recounts how he debated two scientists in e-mail, and trounced them thoroughly—he doesn’t actually quote any of these guys, but instead goes on and on with a lot of garbled ideas about Einstein and global warming, and declares himself the victor. I suggest you get a pot ready to puke in, because here’s how he summarizes the results:
How was I, a science dilettante and hobbyist, able to pull off this tour-de-force of debate with certified experts? As an autodidact, polymath, and armchair philosopher, science for me is a sideline and a hobby. My scientific knowledge is really nothing special. A bright, nerdy college student majoring in science who reads science magazines could probably match my knowledge of contemporary science. My edge on the nerd is that I have experience with the critical analysis of technical and philosophical concepts, plus a pretty fair knowledge of scientific controversies, the philosophy of science, and the history of science.
I read his articles on evolution and intelligent design, and they were appallingly bad, full of historical inaccuracies and completely misunderstood science. The man is a pompous twit who knows nothing about those fields he’s bragging about.
I had to write to him and mention my critique of his ideas about biology, and suggest that since he was so happy to mop the floor with physicists and climatologists in an email debate, that maybe he’d be willing to take on a mere biologist. We’ll see if he has the guts to do so; I suspect he will run away, since he won’t be able to get away with publishing just his side of the argument, but you never know—I think his competence to arrogance ratio is indistinguishable from zero, so he might just try it.
I’ll let you all know if the fish bites.
The fish has bitten.
Also, Uncertain Principles has taken on Hutchison’s claims about Einstein, and Stoat has addressed his absurdities about global warming. It’s all right here on Scienceblogs!