Letters to the Editor

Ironic response

February 23, 2009

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To the editor:

Seeing the Rev. Earl Meyer accuse Leonard Krishtalka of “prejudice, bias, and vituperation” and of making it hard for people to “dialogue” in “the pursuit of truth,” one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the irony. The same when Mark Jarboe identifies Krishtalka’s open-minded, empirically guided world view as self-centered.

While many faiths have exemplified those vain, intolerant vices, few can rival the Catholic church for its long history and continued fondness for peremptory, vituperative, biased and prejudiced dialogue-killing. Indeed, it was Galileo’s publishing of an imagined dialogue between a geocentrist and a heliocentrist that triggered the haughty clerical outrage — the shrill indignation of the religiously invested — that earned him life-long house arrest, suppressing his candid examination of our place in the universe. Church authorities have always made a specialty of such high-handed censorship, of beating down free, honest inquiry and open discussion when the implications are disquieting to their foregone conclusions.

This of course was the point of Krishtalka’s column, that science is no friend of either human arrogance or preconceived truths, making it the natural adversary of religious authority. The church only begrudgingly comes to accept findings that contradict dogma, usually after long delay and shabby resistance, and then more to repair its image and spin the theology than to redeem those it has persecuted. When all inquiry, all dialogue, must answer to ancient ignorance and codified superstition, it’s no wonder that civility, agreement and progress are so slow to come, and so difficult to maintain.

Bruce S. Springsteen,
Lawrence

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 4 months ago

Sadly, it is not until the 163rd word of this rambling drivel that the reader understands the context of the Rev. Meyer's "accusation." Until that point, the reader is subjected to what can only be assumed to be an aside about the Catholic Church.

And why does Mr. Springsteen assume, quite wrongly, that the average reader is familiar with Leonard Kristalka and Mark Jarboe. Am I ever to understand their place in this text? Apparently not. (I'm fairly certain that Kristalka is one of KU's taxpayer-funded liberal propagandists, but I still do't know a thing about Jarboe. Care to illuminate, Bruce?)

And finally, the only person Mr. Springsteen likely impresses with his excruciating adjective-overload is himself.

jonas_opines 6 years, 4 months ago

Ah, STRS, it's always propaganda until you agree with it, isn't it? Then it's, what, "truth laced with wisdom" or something like that? Maybe you'll be less contemptuous when you accept you simply have your own skewed vision of the world.

Not to say that's going to happen.

And of course Mr. Springsteen refers to the previous two columns, the original by Krishtalka and a follow-up by Jarboe, that appeared in this paper. If you're going to jump in halfway through a conversation, at least have the grace to quietly enlighten yourself to the whole context before you rattle on and expose your ignorance.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree with your main point, jonas, and while it pains me to even appear to be defending STRS, I think the JW could facilitate an understanding of the context by providing links to the both the Krishtalka column and the Jarboe letter. (Not that it would have likely had an effect on STRS's response)

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 4 months ago

jonas,

Indeed, my goal was to "enlighten (myself) to the whole context," and I could have done that had Mr. Springsteen given a citation. Unfortunate for Mr. Springsteen, the majority of LTE readers have not committed the "conversation" you reference to memory, and have, thus, completely tuned out his intolerance of intolerance.

I guess the lesson for you and Mr. Springsteen is: cite your references.

jonas_opines 6 years, 4 months ago

I always cite my references, when applicable. If you're looking to pass out blame, the better culprit is the LJWorld themselves who this time failed to link the previous letter. But if in doubt I'd look for that little box up top that says "search." God forbid you had to do the research yourself.

George Lippencott 6 years, 4 months ago

Another day another diatribe! I guess the bright side is that somebody cares a lot.

The down side is very frightening. As near as I can tell the Catholic Church joined the 21st Century along with the rest of us. Yet we seem to be hung up on events that took place four centuries ago. I do not understand!

There seems to be a prominent streak in certain discussions about very emotional topics (the environment, organized religion, and wealth to mention a few) that seeks punishment for transgressions that occurred a long time ago (nobody living did it) or that are perfectly legal (big house) or are part of a split national psyche about responsibilities and rewards (life is luck or skill??).

Making personal attacks on people does not really improve the conversation. It does slowly erode the “social contract”. We are all entitled to our opinions but we are not entitled to demean whole classes of people with whom we disagree. More importantly, attacking people for legal activity or ancient history is just plain stupid! We have plenty of real problems facing us.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 4 months ago

This is no knock against Catholicism but it is not the largest organized religion on earth. Neither is the general category called Christianity. In terms of sheer numbers of practitioners and believers worldwide, Christianity is a minority religion compared with Islam, Hinduism and Buddism.

It's useful sometimes to remember that many of the founders of the United States were people who had suffered some type of religious persecution before sailing here from Europe. Our nation's Constitution and Bill of Rights was worded to guarantee all American citizens not only freedom of religion but also freedom from religion. It's a good set of laws because it respects the natural human options concerning spiritual interest and personal change.

denak 6 years, 4 months ago

Christianity is not a minority compared with Islam, Hinduism and Buddism.

As a whole, Christianity is still the number one religion in the world.

However, if you break Christianity down by denominations, then Catholicism remains the single biggest Christian religion in the world.

Until 2008, it was the single biggest religious denomination in the world. However, since 2008, Islam has taken over and the number one religion in the world.

The top three religions in the world are 1) Islam 2) Catholicism and 3) Hinduism.

There are approximately 1.5-1.6 billion Muslims in the world.

There are approximately 1 billion Catholics in the world.

There are approximately 850 million Hindus in the world.

Christians account for roughly 2 billion(counting Catholics)

Keep in mind, this does not mean practicing. Just that they are a religion by virtue, birthrate,culture, geographical location or history.

Dena

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

Dena-- Shia and Sunni branches of Islam are at least as different from each other as Catholics and the various Protestants (and Orthodox and Coptic Christians) are.

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

"When all inquiry, all dialogue, must answer to ancient ignorance and codified superstition, it’s no wonder that civility, agreement and progress are so slow to come, and so difficult to maintain."

I agree entirely with Mr. Springsteen on this one. Evolution is ancient ignorance and codified superstition. Progress has been slow in the field and difficult to maintain in the absence of proper testing.

Yet, this doesn't stop the further sophistication of the endeavor. Complete with statements that are utterly outside the possibility for a test. Yet, when anybody wishes to engage in a discussion of the subject, they are either on the side of evolutionists, or modern day religious crusaders. Darwin is axiomatic. All other possibilities are heresy.

Moderate has it right, the demonetization of evolution skeptics (and global warming skeptics, and other skeptics) requires punishment. It is a scary shift of the paradigm.

The straw-man in evolution arguments is religion. Evolutionist set him up and valiantly knock him down. Felling mighty holy while doing it.

Denying their own iniquities.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

Someday there will be coloring books made by eyewitnesses that will surely rise to the level of proof of evolution you demand, devo.

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

Bozo: That someday will be so far past my (or) your date of death, we'll never see it. Therefore, I remain unconvinced. And it doesn't matter. That is the main point. It doesn't matter. Believe in God-based origins, Spaghetti-Monster origins, Darwinian origins, or any of the modern sophistication of them; they are all just stories to me.

Oh, by the way, Bozo, porch-person does a good job showing my point about the inability to discuss evolution without bringing in the false premise of godly origins.

Open it up now porch-unit. You can do it. All you have to do is conceive of the idea that we don't know. Not really. All you have to do is leave the hubris of false knowledge behind. You can still have biology, and evolution to the extent that it can be tested. You just can't have the arrogance of lording over others. Darwin, and all the subsequent obfuscations could be looked at as simply conjectures, awaiting the test. No grand replacement for God. "I don't know" is sufficient. You don't have to replace God to deny Him.

In the long run, trying to replace God is always an empty task. "Why" questions always boil down to "I don't know" anyway. Give me something that is useful and I'll entertain it. Give me something that is just narrative, and I'm outta here. Get it Porch?

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

Porch person: the only threads that contain my comments about evolution are those that promote the myth.

Oh, be careful with characterizing my believes. My objection to Darwin tends to be more along the lines of his book "The descent of Man" and the subsequent areas of eugenics and "progressivism". To reiterate, I believe evolution to the degree that it is tested. I do not believe it to the degree that it has not (or cannot) be tested.

You call my definition of test "insane". Rational thought is not insane if it makes sense. You call my definition of a test (do it) insane because you don't think it makes sense. Yet my definition is more restrictive and rigorous than yours. Example.

I have data that it has rained in Atlanta every Tuesday for the past 104 weeks. Inductively, I state that it will rain in Atlanta next Tuesday. It awaits test.

If I state that it rained in Atlanta on Tuesday 75 weeks ago, that is deductive. If I state that it rained in Atlanta on a Tuesday 60,000 weeks ago, I have a problem. I have evidence, but I have no hope for a test. I might even have a problem with the definitions of "Tuesday" and "Atlanta".

I think that my logic is sound. I don't know if it rained in Atlanta on Tuesday 60,000 weeks ago. I don't know and I probably will never know. Also, I don't care. This logic applies equally to statements like: "all apelike creatures descended from a common ape-like ancestor." Maybe, can't test it. Don't care.

It is not the same to extrapolate backward in time on a model as it is to run a test. It is not the same thing to compare evolution of currently available living things and their behavior to fossilized remnants. Saying that belief in evolution on the time scale that is measurable means that one must believe in it over all time is simply bad logic.

I don't think that I must believe in extrapolations. I don't think that they are science. I don't like the way evolutionary science is constructed and promoted. It isn't because I prefer God answers. It is because it is lousy science that gives a wrong-headed logic to other sciences that rely too much on models and that which is untestable. Science is going down hill in the rigor department. I don't like that. Epidemiology is out of control. Its a joke. Computer models of climate are impossible to test. Yet we are told to believe them and change most of the western economy because of them. You guys with your evo-bio stuff are just the camel's nose in the tent. Now we have to believe in all kinds of damn fool stuff based on faulty logic that follows from your type of sloppy thinking.

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

As one example of the sloppy science and its sloppy interpretation, and its promotion:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/gore-pulls-slide-of-disaster-trends/

It is difficult to discuss science when it becomes sloppy, politicized, and confrontational. This is the kind of science we live in today. This is the type of science that results from the sloppiness of evo-bio, and the notion that evidence is test. That narrative is science. That computer models are the truth.

Rarely does one hear the words "I don't know" anymore.
But that is the truth. We really don't know nearly as much as we say we do.

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

OK, porch:

Check out this Stanford geneticist who answers a high schooler about the genetics of people and apes. Now, don't tell me that this isn't peer reviewed. Don't tell me that the school of medicine at Stanford is not a source of evolutionary prowess.

http://www.thetech.org/genetics/ask.php?id=150

Nope, this is the kind of misinformation that abounds on the web and elsewhere. Just Google the statement about common ancestors and you will find all kinds of slop. This is the kind of statement that diminishes your science. You should want it stopped. It is proscriptive and judgmental. It is logically incorrect. It can't be science because it cannot be tested. Are there other things in evolution that can? Yes,

You seem to be getting defensive and unthinking here. I should probably stop at this message, but I'll answer you one more time.

Epidemiology and climate predictions are more than limited. They are overwrought. Sloppy in the tradition of evolutionary biology. Prone to excess. Not protective of their area of science. Like the Al Gore article I sited above, politicians and charlatans get a hold of these things and turn them into statements that are wrong. Overwrought is the term that keeps coming to mind regarding the new science standards that are derivative from Darwin. I do not propose throwing out the baby with the bath water. I propose being less sanguine and domineering in the dissemination of your information. This goes for epidemiology (who confuses correlation with cause), climate science (who confuses computer runs with experiment), and grand statement evolutionists (who insist that origins be valued equally to changes in phenotype) .

You don't get my problem at all, porch. You think that I advocate religion over science. I don't. I find the acceptance of statements like the ape-like statement to be counter to science and counter to your goal of figuring out the science. You have worked your way down to the end of a cul-de-sac. Because you cannot properly test your statements, you change the definition of science from the reasonable requirement of a proper test. The science isn't in the evidence, the logic, or the politics.....It is in the test. The veracity of any scientific statement is in the quality and quantity of test.

It is my judgment, It is my opinion, that science is getting sloppier and sloppier all the time. You've been trying to be the next Galileo for decades now. Leave it. It doesn't matter how all this got here. It is fruitless to speculate on the origins and simply creates problems that are meaningless in a scientific context.

jonas_opines 6 years, 4 months ago

You do seem to be entertaining the notion that it's God or Evolution for all involved. Adhering to that line despite some evidence to the contrary is going to make you look like you aren't paying attention.

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

porch: science never proves anything.

I never said that Darwin said the statement about apes. Replacing God is a fruitless task. Humans need God. Don't know why. Don't care.

Karl Popper is philosophy. It is epistemology. The study of what we know and how we know it.

Intelligent design is not science. It suffers from the same hubris (only worse) as evolution.

All evidence is disputable. Especially regarding climate change. Not because the climate isn't changing. The problem is the reasoned cause for the change. It is a computer program. No test has been done to separate CO2 as a driver, from H2O or CN4, or solar flux, or........... Want a reason to dispute global warming? http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html

Correlation is a mathematical relationship between variables where a dependent variable's deviation is described by the variation in an independent variable.

If the cause is a separate variable which is correlated but non-causal, the correlation can be perfect without cause.

Example: The sun shines on the concrete on my south patio. The temperature of the patio goes up. The sun also happen to shine on my driveway. The driveway temperature goes up. The statement of correlation between temperatures is valid. The statement that my patio caused my driveway to increase its temp is invalid. Correlation is an implication of causation. It is not definitive of causation.

Regarding CO2 and surface temps. The correlation could be that the solar flux has increased in ways that we are unaware of. This increase in temperature includes the increase in water temp. Partial pressure rules show that the ocean out gases CO2, causing an increase. Is this true? Dunno. Are the pronouncements of the IPCC true? Dunno for the same reason. Utter lack of proper test.

I am not anti-epidemiology. I find it useful and interesting to the degree that it is testable. My wife, son, and brother-in-law are physicians. We discuss this and evaluate CDC eructations. Some are fine, some are a joke. Some are in between. Stop turning my words into all or nothing.

My whole argument has always been that new age analysis has gone too far. Too far with evolution, epidemiology, financial instruments, climate change, and on and on.

The world has given itself up to analysis and theory and has left proper testing behind. The financial crisis happened because computer models and other sophistications hid the truth. You are setting yourself up for the same kind of fall.
Your definition of brain-dead is a definition of popularity, not science.

ilikestuff 6 years, 4 months ago

I find myself in agreement with the good Reverend.

When I read the original piece by Krishtalka I thought he seemed rather like an angry crackpot. The manner he used to articulate his perceptions seemed immature, argumentative and entirely suspect.

I was surprised to learn Krishtalka credentials and position in academia. It appears he is pursuing a pathetically executed vendetta against the Catholic church rather than an exercise in scholarly discourse.

The historical wrongs of the Catholic church and human civilization in general have been analyzed through and through. When I look at Kirshtalka's piece relative to shedding light on something new or providing a new insight into those wrongs it seems entirely devoid of anything noteworthy.

Thus I maintain he is nothing more than an angry, ranting crackpot.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

"Thank God no one has placed you in charge of teaching science to young people."

According to Devo, yours thanks are misplaced.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

What I'd like to hear from Devobrun is what alternative tools he would suggest to analyze the data that indicate that anthropogenic climate change is indeed happening. Likewise for evolution. Should we just look on this stuff the same way we view a nice sunset?

devobrun 6 years, 4 months ago

Porch are you incredulous by my statement denying logical positivism? Really? Are you unaware of the philosophical growth that has occurred since the turn of the 20th century?

Are you aware of the subsequent rise of Popper and others who proposed that truth was only attained asymptotically through test? I'm certainly not the first to submit that truth is only the purview of religion. That science doesn't deal with concepts as dogmatic as "the truth". Your apparent ignorance of the rejection of logical positivism shows that your philosophy is at least 100 years old.

OK, Bozo: First tool is a clear definition of temperature of the earth. Let's just start there. After you define it, I will propose a tool to measure it.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html

This is from Jim Hansen's official site. As an engineer, I cannot build an instrument, conduct an experiment, or analyze data on the basis of what constitutes "temperature of the earth". You may find this a cop out. My assertion all along is that your kind of science is sloppy. You ask me a question that I cannot answer because you cannot define the terms.

What tools would I use to test the statement: "all ape-like creatures descended from a common ape-like ancestor". I would take an ape. I would genetically modify it many, many times and I would provide multiple possibilities for natural selection. Thus I would wind up with many apes. Some of those apes would have been existent in our past, some might not. With all the possibilities, I would see a variety of pathways that lead to apes that exist today, including us.

This experiment would not only show that the present day apes are a result of certain descendant pathways, but would also show some that didn't make it to present day. Very interesting!

I think that the above scenario is not possible. I think that what I proposed is not even half of what would be entailed to conduct such an experiment. I think that it will never happen. Thus, I think this is untestable.

Now, if you are still with me, I find statements like the ape-like statement to be lousy science. Darwin didn't say it. You didn't say it. People like Dr K do. It exists. It should be eradicated from the science. I know a man here in Lawrence who is associated with LHC in CERN. He is working on instruments to find the Higg's boson. The term "God Particle" is anathema to him. He dissuades newspaper reporters and others from using the term. It is a popular misconception. It diminishes his science. Statements about ape's common ancestor diminish your science as well. Not because it po's sky pilots, but because it is lousy science. This is my opinion.

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