Type M

A previous post noted the difference between arguments that depend upon motive or content. Here is an example coupled with a rationalization.

I think the real problem is that many scientists would like … [a type M position]

If the evolution camp is really concerned with doing good science, they should respond to this opposition from the ID movement not by trying to persuade the ID people (or the public) that ID isn’t playing fair — but by trying to provide such rock-solid evidence for the theory of evolution that the ID people will no longer be able to point at the holes. [David; Intelligent design critique; A physicist’s perspective. 12ja05]

This is called a ‘straw man’ argument – setting up some criteria or condition of dubious quality in order to support a point of view. Also consider the implications of the reference to a “camp” as that is another important feature often associated with this type of argument. Another interesting tactic is making the defendant out to be the prosecution (i.e. that the biologists have to defend themselves rather than the ID proponents needing to prove the value of their idea)

The rationalization is that of pretending that there is an absolute in science. Ideas in science stand on their own and their value over other ideas depends upon their usefulness in a particular context – not in their ability to denigrate another idea. i.e. the progress in science tends more on a constructive ethic. One idea is favored over another not because of trashing the other but because it has more useful features that make it better. Criticism is just fine but even those ideas with flaws will be valued if they are useful (think Newton versus Einstein, for example).

Those ‘holes’ being used to denigrate evolution are very much a part what makes evolution valuable. They do this because they guide research towards learning other things. In other words, good ideas in science lead to forming good questions that lead to further learning. Not so good ideas don’t lead to further research and can’t be used as a basis for enhancing knowledge and just sit around for people to criticize.

For an example of holes in a theory leading to learning, look at the history of the periodic table.

There are reasons why the community of biologists value evolution much more highly than ID. Those who want or desire ID to be a part of biology need to understand and accept those reasons first and then to address them in promoting their views.

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