Crank Convergence

Keeping quiet for the last few days has given me the advantage of seeing patterns in my firefox tabs. I see news stories in my feed that I’m interested in, open them in tabs and figure maybe I can blog about them later.

Well, the result of doing this for the last week has led to a couple of nice crank convergences.

The first is this crank attack on scientific consensus from John West at ID the future. It follows a pretty standard crank script. First a misstatement of what scientific consensus means

Should the consensus view of science always prevail? Darwinists often claim science isn’t democratic and that students should therefore learn only the evidence which supports Darwin’s theory because that theory is held by the majority of scientists

Only the evidence that supports Darwin’s theory? Here is the problem. The IDers are trying to oppose the scientific consensus on evolution, which would be acceptable, if they actually had evidence. But they don’t. They just have promiscuous teleology.

The rest of the podcast consists of the same old nonsense. Consensus has been wrong before, therefore we should allow dissenting views be presented when the public believes something different yada yada. Which would be fine and scientists agree if those views were based on science.

West then lists three criteria used for silencing debate:

1. Majority of scientists support the theory.
2. Critics aren’t scientists.
3. Critics are religious.

Of course, this is a total straw man attack, and no scientists who are fighting to prevent the teaching of cdesign proponentsists’ nonsense in schools uses these criteria. Except the first of course, which is true, except that it is overly simplistic. The majority of scientists support the theory of evolution because that is what the data supports, it isn’t just some silly belief like a magic man done it. The second two criticisms are frankly absurd. And we don’t object to the religion of the opponents because of their religion, but rather that they are trying to insert religious ideas into the debate without any scientific data to back them up. If they had data, or a cohesive theory that presented a valid explanation for the existing data, we might be able to talk. Instead, cdesign proponentsists have nothing but religious ideology, dishonestly presented as science, with the goal of subverting legitimate scientific education. We here at denialism blog, who believe that debate should be squelched when it is the non-productive squealing of cranks who don’t like science, have a real set of criteria for ignoring the misinformation campaigns of pseudoscience. None of those criteria are of course those that he lists, because it would be to difficult to argue with.

Noting all the recent attacks on the mere idea of consensus by the anti-AGW crowd, I am of course thrilled that the cdesign proponentsists are now also taking this tactic. Although, this is the underlying theme of all Galileo gambits and other crank views of persecution by some bizarre notion of dogmatic science.

The second convergence of crank thinking is also between cdesign proponentsists and AGW denialists, except in this case it’s Denyse O’Leary and Tim Blair converging in their crankery.

Both are crowing about the recent correction by UN health officials of worldwide AIDS statistics, which were mistaken due to a sampling bias.

This is wonderfully consistent with what we know about how cranks operate. Any perceived slight to science is good news because they think it means that their particular brand of nonsense gains in legitimacy when mainstream science is proven wrong. This is of course absurd, this is science correcting itself, which is what legitimate science does. Only cranks react with glee to the denigration of science, a quality Blair has in spades. It’s a sure sign of a crank, along with attacks on consensus, attack on peer review and a persecution complex which we noted long ago in our HOWTO. It’s gratifying to see the consensus theory on cranks fit the data so nicely.