Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Expertise and Madness

The Oracle of Outrage is an expert on elephants. Elephants, in case you didn't know, are the top predators of the African savannah, consuming vast numbers of wildebeast.

Nonsense, you say. Elephants are plant eaters, you say. Well, like wolves, elephants do consume some roughage (it aids in the digestion), but their primary food is meat, raw and bloody, which they kill by constriction with their trunks.

Nonsense and again nonsense, you say. Ignoramus! Do you not know that I am an expert? I received a Doctorate in Elephantology from Harvard! Will you deny the science of learned men? Would you plunge us into another Dark Age of elephantine herbivory superstition?

Have I observed this consumption of flesh by elephants, you ask. Well, no, for they are elusive, nocturnal hunters, but we know it nonetheless. You see, it is clear that, if you are going to hunt and kill another animal, you must be bigger than it. What hunts something larger and more formidable than itself? Elephants, as the largest animals on land, are therefore clearly the top predators. The logic is inescapable.

To think, you say, that all this time we have been ignorant. Everyone I ever knew thought elephants ate plants. Thank goodness for this expert, this learned man, you say.

Okay, so, maybe you wouldn't have said that. Indeed, while nonsense was likely what you thought of these "facts", you probably wouldn't have even listened to such a fool. It doesn't matter what degrees you have, or how learned you are, if you state something that is clearly false, no one but madmen will believe you, at least until you provide some real proof. Right?

Wrong. Our society does accept such an Outrage. On a regular basis. We let them teach it to our children, in fact. It has never been observed to be capable of the effects attributed to it, despite years of study and experimentation. It has no more evidence to support its larger claims than one could summon in support of elephantine carnivory. Most people, both now and throughout history, did not believe it, yet somehow, it has become the enforced orthodoxy. It is Darwinian Evolution.

When one views the amazing structures of living things, one is struck, with even a little knowledge of such things, by how far they exceed our most cunning constructions. The most powerful computer is far less complicated than even an earthworm. Even without knowing such things as we know now with cellular structures, biochemistry, and other things experts get paid to study, it is clear that living things display traits and functions that certainly appear to require some planning and intelligence to make.

This is why most people throughout time have believed they do, in fact, require such intelligence. It is intuitive, it is common sense. It is also, according to most of the experts, particularly in biology but throughout the halls of academia, wrong.

What qualifies them to invalidate the sensible conclusions made by more or less intelligent observers? Their learned expertise, of course. Why just ask them, or better yet, disagree, and they will throw such a flurry of prestigious pieces of paper (known as degrees), and convoluted jargon in your direction that, unable to answer such a load of, ahem, knowledge articulately (to their standards), you will be left feeling defeated and quite foolish.

You are right to feel foolish, in such a circumstance. You cannot argue with experts. They have invested years into learning what the University teaches. Thus we come to the problem, or rather, one of many.

In the University, you learn what you are taught. You draw knowledge from the materials presented to you. This, in turn, is based on the knowledge of the professors and textbook-writers. They too, of course, learned what they were taught. They got their knowledge from professors, in Universities. Experts in the institutions of expertise. They surely know the truth!

Do they? Who says? Why, they do! Of course, if, many years ago, they adopted and adhered to a false premise, than the passage of generations, adhering to the same false premise, does not make it true. Yet to acknowledge any doubt in such a major theory calls into doubt entire lives of work centered on that subject. Great efforts and expenditures over many years by many people have been made in service of such a theory. Yet the carnivorous elephant theorist could open his own university, and teach students, and they might even believe him. There's one born every day, as they say.

To be fair, Darwinism is not nearly as clearly false as the theory of elephant carnivory. They have much more jargon and long-polished arguments that, even if devoid of substance, certainly can be stated with enough vigor that the common person, not understanding half of it, will often rather lazily accept it. The realization that perhaps the vociferous expert might not understand it much better does not appear to come that naturally to people. Unfortunately, there is a natural human tendency to trust that when someone speaks with conviction on a matter, they know about that which they speak. It is a charming, if mistaken, lack of cynicism in this circumstance.

It is our responsibility, though, to question even experts, and to demand answers we can understand. Experts can be and have been wrong before. A cloak of technical language could well be concealing a lack of substance. Do not tolerate such obfuscation!

The point is this: don't trust that just because an expert says something that it's true. With Darwinism in particular, experts tend to treat it like it is the established fact, and all those who doubt as religious fanatics attempting to plunge us into a new Dark Age, or as simply ignorant and probably stupid.

The fact is, when most of us do so little as to consider our own hand, we can marvel at it's intricacy, grace, and sensitivity. It is unmatched by any artifact created by man. The natural conclusion is that someone with a lot more knowledge and probably rather smarter designed it. Don't discard the clear and natural conclusion just because someone claiming superior knowledge claims it's wrong. Make them prove it. Don't settle for seemingly plausible scenarios and just-so stories. Make them show you where, via even artificial selection (which requires an input of intelligence, but still) an earthworm was seen first evolving a functional leg. Or anything of the sort. Because Darwinism doesn't just claim to account for variations in the sizes of finch beaks, it claims to account for a simple worm evolving into that finch.

They will claim that, given the amount of time needed for evolution, producing such proof is almost impossible. It is an unreasonable expectation, they will say. Tough, says the Oracle. If Darwinists want to defy what humans have largely believed from before recorded history, if they want to falsify what our common sense tells us, they'd better bring something more convincing than bluster and degrees to back it up. The burden of proof is on them that defy what is clear to our sense and our senses, what has been believed by the great majority throughout history and today. Shifting that burden via the image of expertise is how they maintain their authority. By no necessity are they smarter or in any other way better than you. Face them as equals, and expect to be treated as such.

So says the Oracle of Outrage. Heed ye who would know wisdom, and thusly get pissed off.


James F. McGrath said...

Your post is even more applicable to the (remarkably similar) claims of young-earth creationists that carnivorous animals were originally vegetarians.

Charles Foljambe said...

Silliness is not lacking at either extreme.

Jason in York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason in York said...

How is it scientific to say "because i can build things, all things must be built"?

Common sense is often wrong. Just because our hands look similar to machines that we may be familiar with doesn't mean they stand in relation to some designer in the same sense that our machines do. This "intuition" doesn't stand on it's own, and intuition is often incorrect, is all I'm saying. The same sort of "intuitive logic" is why some people conclude that a noise in the other room was caused by a ghost.

When your car breaks down, do you take it to a mechanic? When you're injured, do you see a doctor? Funny how expertise is so convenient.