Steve Fuller, the smug sociologist who testified for the creationists in the Dover trial, has a new book out. Who cares about the book, though? You want to read Norman Levitt’s review, “The Painful Elaboration of the Fatuous”. Wow. Fuller gets deconstructed.
Here’s a small taste.
A similar farce plays out when Fuller tries to address the larger question of the supposedly contentious nature of evolutionary theory within the scientific community itself. In the World According to Fuller, evolutionary theory never really got past the stage of being a “well evidenced ideology” rather than a “properly testable science” (p. 123). What he is saying, in effect, is that the claims from all branches of biology and related science that they have contributed to a vast stream of convergent evidence verifying the essential precepts of evolution are in great measure delusional. He seems to think that biology, as a constellation of disciplines, is some kind of socially-constructed freemasonry in which assent to basic Darwinian principles constitutes a ritual formula necessary to make one part of the brotherhood rather than a cognitively-justified inference from hard evidence. More, he seems to think that evolutionary thought is mere ideological window-dressing, contributing nothing to the “hard science” behind molecular biology and the like.
None of this is backed up by serious analysis of the working methods and logical structure of biology itself. Fuller complacently views the ascendancy of evolutionary thought as a “rhetorical” rather than a “scientific” development. His principal evidence? The paucity of Nobel Prizes awarded for work on evolution! Of course, he never pauses to consider that under the idiosyncratic organization of the Nobel awards, there is no prize for biology as such. Biologists are smuggled in under the “Medicine and Physiology” category, which is just expansive enough to accommodate ethologists like Lorenz or Tinbergen, but not hard-core evolutionary theorists. In all of these pronouncements, Fuller is hard-pressed to hide his scorn for actual scientists who, it is obvious to him, know much less about what they think and how and why than a social theorist like himself who is enormously content to cite his own work endlessly.
…and that’s one of the kinder bits. Enjoy it all!