Thursday, November 3, 2011

Joshua "Spanky" Rosenau plays the misogyny card

Joshua Rosenau is shocked. It seems that the Discovery Insititute has finally ripped off its veil and revealed its... misogyny.

Rosenau, Programs and Policy Director for the National Center for Science Education, is mortified by a recent Evolution News and Views blog post.

Rosenau:


A nakedly sexist attack from the creationist Discovery Institute


After Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Faye Flam took the Discovery Institute to taskfor their Hitler obsession and constant violations of Godwin's law, Disco. 'tute fellow Richard Weikart struck back, insisting, "I have spoken with intelligent Darwinists who admit point-blank that they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler."
I know Richard Weikart. He is an honest man and a gentleman, and a meticulous historian. If he says he has spoken with Darwinists who admit that, I believe him. I even believe the intelligent Darwinist part, but only on Richard's word.
This is patent bullcrap, but that's nothing new for the Seattle-based belief tank. Weikart didn't, of course, say which scientists he'd heard say this, so there's no way to independently verify his claim.
Ask all of the intelligent Darwinists, Joshua. Shouldn't take long.
Flam flew to the fracas again, wondering why creationists insist on using the inaccurate and pejorative term "Darwinist,"
What's pejorative about "Darwinist"?
and pointing out that Weikart is wrong about how evolutionary biologists regard human life.

Evolutionary biologists hold many views on human life, as befits a large group of people. The dominant view is the atheist-Darwinist view, which is that there is no God, there is no Source of objective morality, and we are animals evolved by a ruthless struggle for survival in which superior individuals and races by nature destroy inferior individuals and races.

That viewpoint of course had no appeal to the Nazis.

Rosenau:
In response, the Disco. 'tute trotted out an unsigned blog post that fairly drips with misogyny.
Ooooo.... I can't wait to find out the dripping misogyny...

Riffing off of Flam's blog post title, the Disco. DJ scratches his crotch and grunts:

"Ms. Flam, if we had in fact spanked you, you would know it."

That's it?

?

That's hardly misogyny. After all, Ms. Flam is the one who invoked the spanking metaphor to begin with. The title of her post to which the DI was responding was
"I get spanked by creationists for accepting reality and being a "Darwinist""
Her corporal punishment wasn't exactly corporal. It was actually a thoughtful and meticulously reasoned reply by Dr. Weikert to her original article.

The unsigned ENV post in reply to Ms. Flamm's "spanked" essay pointed out that Ms. Flamm was incorrect in her invocation of "spanking".

Rosenau is nonetheless horrified:
Let's be grateful that he didn't add: "Now fetch my dinner."

Javert  Rosenau does a bit of detective work to deduce that the anonymous author of the misogynous ENV post must be a... man:
How can I be so sure the unsigned post was written by a man? Because there are no active female bloggers at the DI blog (Anika Smith is still listed as a contributor, but DI's Casey Luskin assures me that she's moved on). Indeed, of 50 fellows and staff listed as being associated with the Disco. 'tute's creationist wing, only one fellow (Nancy Pearcey) and 5 staffers are women. One of the 6 women listed is Anika Smith, again, who is no longer at the 'tute. One of the women is their education coordinator, two are involved in fundraising, another is involved in sales and marketing. Perhaps their positions don't require them to deal with whichever misogynist penned this latest screed, or maybe they've just bought into the evangelical notion of wifely submission.
Quite an indictment. Rosenau knows a lot about the women working at the DI. A lot. Like he's done a lot of... um... research. He has investigated the number of women working at the DI, which ladies blog, and the job descriptions of the others. How would someone who doesn't work there know such details about women employees? Why would he know such details? Is it part of his official investigation into... spanking? And he speculates that the women working at the DI are 'wifely submissive'.

Hmmm...

"Spanky" Rosenau now does his summation for the jury:
Since no one signed the piece, it's fair to assume that all the ENV authors endorse this sort of casual humor about sexual assault. If not, I'd urge them to publicly distance themselves from this boorish behavior, and tell us which of their cowardly colleagues was willing to post this, but not put his name on it.
Here's the even funnier part. Faye Flam herself pops up in Spanky Rosenau's combox.

Ms. Flam:

I introduced the word “spank” into the conversation by using it in the title of one of my own blog posts. I don’t see why this word is sexist. As far as I know anyone of any gender can spank anyone of any gender. This kind of thing trivializes real sexism.
Ouch.

Ms. Flam again:
As for the Discovery Institute’s threat that I’ll feel it if they really spank me, I say bring it on guys. Or gals.
Rosenau, in reply to his... err... err... spanking:

[To] Faye Flam: I know that you brought the word "spank" into the discussion, but I think that the way the Disco. 'tute used the term smacks of the casual sexism of the Mad Men era, the fanny-pinching, domestic-abuse excusing era. I think they shifted the idiomatic context from a neutral "I got spanked," which you see in sports and other non-sexual contexts, to a more sexual and frankly threatening context, but others are free to see other things in it.
Interesting Rorschach test. In response to a little rhetorical repartee, the first thing that comes to Rosenau's mind is sexual violence. As for Rosenau's obsession with naughty sexual metaphors, may I suggest to the NCSE that a bit of internet blocking software may help Spanky Rosenau keep his mind on his work.

I'll blog more on the real controversy-- the viewpoints of Ms. Flam and Dr. Weikart.

For now, kudos to Ms. Flam for putting Spanky Rosenau's fevered mind to rest.

N.B. I had originally inaccurately used "misogamy" instead of "misogyny". Thanks to commentor bachfiend for the correction.

23 comments:

  1. Michael,

    This is one of your most incoherent threads you've written, and that's really saying something.

    Why do you keep alternating between 'misogyny' (hatred of women) and 'misogamy' (hatred of marriage) in successive sentences?

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  2. @bach:

    Yikes! You're right. I've corrected it.

    Thanks!

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  3. [Richard Weikart struck back, insisting, "I have spoken with intelligent Darwinists who admit point-blank that they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler." I believe him.]

    Of course you do, you believe more crazy things before breakfast than most “intelligent Darwinists” believe in their adult lifetime. I can understand how your warped understanding of evolution and atheism could lead you to the erroneous belief that Darwinists should somehow be logically be compelled to accept genocide and war mongering, but you shouldn’t just accept whatever you’re told because the guy seems nice and he’s on your side.

    You’re buddies with this guy, why don’t you send him a quick e-mail and ask him to name names of these alleged Darwinist Hitler supporters. It would be interesting to see what he cooks up.

    -KW

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  4. @KW:

    I don't share your interpretation of Richard's statement "they do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler". I don't think that they meant that they support Hitler. I think that they meant that the Darwinist/atheist view lacks a source of objective morality. Without objective morality, 'dislike Hitler' and 'like Hitler' are merely competing opinions, not propositions that relate to objective moral truth.

    You share that lacunae. If there is no God, by what standard do you condemn Hitler, other than your personal opinion?

    If you appeal to an objective standard, other than your opinion, what is the source (Source) of that standard?

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  5. KW,
    How does "do not have any grounds to condemn Hitler" equate to/with "Darwinist Hitler supporters"?
    Do you condemn all those you do not support?
    Do you support all those you do not condemn?

    @All,
    I suspect a naked and raw nerve has been touched with the mere MENTION of Hitler or Nazis and Darwin in the same paragraph or sentence.
    It is a pathetic attempt to distract; yet another straw man argument.

    The question remains: What grounds are there to condemn Hitler and the Nazis without an objective source of morality?
    The answer remains: There is NO GROUNDS to condemn ANY sort of behaviour - no matter how selfish or vile - without clear and objective morality.
    This necessary objective morality is a 'problem' just as large as the mind or origins in the eyes of the materialist / positivist / monist crowd.

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  6. "Hello, Hitler. How's it going? I hope you didn't find our mild criticism of you too off-putting (and a 'thank you' for delaying criticism of Kristallnacht would be nice). We, with our German Catholic friends, hope to continue to not virulently oppose you with every fiber of our beings and all the money and power of the Church for the duration of your reign, to not excommunicate any of you (except for Goebbels, for marrying a Protestant), and to eventually use our connections and resources to help Nazis, including Eichmann and Mengele, flee Germany (and escape punishment). Boy, it sure is a good thing we've got this absolute morality thing, or a bunch of what we're doing will end up looking really, really bad."

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  7. I regard my morality to be just as objective as anyone else's. I live in a society with laws and a police force. I recognize that the laws are there for my benefit. A society that tolerates murder and theft isn't going to prosper. A society that doesn't have penalties for infractions of the rules is going to fail. Even if I were tempted to commit crimes (I'm not) the thought that I'd be caught and spend time in gaol is entirely adequate to dissuade me.

    The 'mind' isn't a problem for me. It's a product of the brain. I don't have 'free will' but I do have 'free won't, I have the capacity of vetoing any decision my brain makes and presents to my mind before carrying it out.

    'Origins' also isn't a problem for me. We are coming gradually to understand the beginning of this Universe and the origin of life. They're big questions, so they take a lot of time answering them.

    I object to Michael's mischaracterization of evolutionary biologists. I doubt that the dominant view is the 'atheist-Darwinist' one, with 'no God, no source of objective morality, that we are animals evolved by a ruthless struggle for survival in which superior individuals and races by nature destroy inferior individuals and races'.

    Please provide some references to this claim. My understanding is that humans are social animals. Cooperation rather than competition within the group is the route to survival. Groups of humans compete, but our success has been due to our ability to expand the group to include increasing numbers of humans.

    Modern humans reached Europe at around the time the Neanderthals went extinct, but it's still argued whether modern humans killed them, outcompeted them for food or just assimilated them into the gene pool.

    I don't regard 'Darwinian' to be an insult, although evolutionary biology has come a long way since Darwin. I feel tempted to use 'Paleyism' as a description of Intelligent Design. After all, his natural theology was based both on complexity and teleology. His very first metaphor was pitching up on a watch on the heath, with its myriad of parts all put together with the aim of telling time.

    Social Darwinism is a distortion of what Darwin wrote. I don't have any problems with historians such as Richard Evans referring to social Darwinism in their histories of the Third Reich, because social Darwinism was just crazy, created to justify Britain's preeminence and profiting from Darwin's good name.

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  8. Seems to me, all atheists are brainless!

    Sorry, let me rephrase this.

    All atheists don't know or don’t want to know or haven’t learnt to use what they, as all of us, have between their two ears.

    They believe that they exist because of their own bootstrap.

    For them, self creation is a PROVEN scientific fact!

    Sheesss…

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  9. Bach wrote:
    "I regard my morality to be just as objective as anyone else's."
    Good.

    "I live in a society with laws and a police force. I recognize that the laws are there for my benefit."
    Again, good.
    But what about laws that are NOT Good? Bad laws made by bad, but influential and strong men are problematic.
    A higher morality than mere legality and enforcement is required. A moral foundation. The objective morality of the Major Theistic beliefs are exactly that foundation, regardless of your position on the truths of anythose faiths.

    "A society that tolerates murder and theft isn't going to prosper."
    An EXCELLENT argument AGAINST materialism! Cheers. I sometimes wonder if you have an existentialist streak in you, Bach... ;)

    As for the mind and origins, simply asserting these issues are resolved in your own mind does not end the debate or research into these issues. They are also resolved in my own mind, but that is neither here nor there, is it?
    My meaning was not that you or I are decided or not on these issues. I meant for the debate in general these are issues of contention and in are found FAVOUR of a non material position.

    "I object to Michael's mischaracterization of evolutionary biologists."
    How is it misleading to present the Darwinian approach to morality as subjective. How is it misleading to present the Darwinian position on nature as survival of the most fit and strong?

    "I doubt that the dominant view is the 'atheist-Darwinist' one, with 'no God, no source of objective morality, that we are animals evolved by a ruthless struggle for survival in which superior individuals and races by nature destroy inferior individuals and races'."
    Really? I hope your correct there, Bach. Sincerely, I do. I would love to think that most scientists in these fields are open minded, philosophical in approach and maybe even spiritual, while at the same time pragmatic when it comes to their research and it's applications. Then I remember they are human...and they are also part of a very dogmatic, and elitist clique. Maybe I am just too cynical. Again, I hope you're right here Bach.

    "I don't regard 'Darwinian' to be an insult, although evolutionary biology has come a long way since Darwin. I feel tempted to use 'Paleyism' as a description of Intelligent Design. "
    I think that is a fair contrast in terms. Paley's ideas could be seen as the Granddaddy of one of the ID arguments (IC). The teleological aspects of the argument go back WAY before Paley, though.
    The BIG difference here is, of course, that the ID people don't wear Paley T-Shirts and generally do not demand the Materialists be silenced as 'frauds' etc. Maybe they should? A little reciprocal acrimony may be in order! :P
    (Battle of the Nerds - LIVE on FOX!)
    ...better be cheerleaders and beer ads.

    "Social Darwinism is a distortion of what Darwin wrote."
    It was an expansion of those ideas put into practice. Darwin's ideas expressed as social policy are vile. A distortion? If viewed through a moral lens, I agree.

    "... because social Darwinism was just crazy, created to justify Britain's preeminence and profiting from Darwin's good name."
    Darwin wrote his book, not the War Office. Darwin is responsible for his own ideas and his own good name.

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  10. CrusadeRex,

    Congratulations. You have managed to distort and misunderstand everything I've written.

    Social Darwinism wasn't Darwin's.

    iID proponents are trying to get ID taught in schools without having it verified. Vilification of scientists is a tactic of ID proponents though.

    Cooperation not competition is what drives human evolution.

    Morality isn't subjective, it's objective because it leads to benefits for social groups.

    Origins and the mind are explicable on purely physical grounds. That isn't to say that everything is understood. I feel on better grounds that your 'ineffable'.

    Give me an example of a bad law.

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  11. @bach:

    [Social Darwinism wasn't Darwin's.]

    The specifics weren't all that far from Darwin (have you ever read Descent of Man?).

    The understanding of man as an animal evolved by conflict was the root of Social Darwinism, and that was entirely Darwin.

    [ID proponents are trying to get ID taught in schools without having it verified.]

    It's the citizens' schools, kids, and money. They ought to be able to teach what they choose, without "verification" by a bunch of atheists.

    [Vilification of scientists is a tactic of ID proponents though.]

    Vilification of atheists posing as scientists is a tactic of ID proponents though.

    [Cooperation not competition is what drives human evolution.]

    That's because "evolution" is so vague that you can make it mean anything you want.

    [Morality isn't subjective, it's objective because it leads to benefits for social groups.]

    The identification of a particular outcome as a "benefit" presupposed a moral system. The reality of objective morality flat out disproves atheism. I think you see that, but you lack the balls to admit it.

    [Origins and the mind are explicable on purely physical grounds.]

    Bullshit.

    [That isn't to say that everything is understood.]

    From a materialistic standpoint, nothing about origins or the mind is understood.

    [I feel on better grounds that your 'ineffable'.]

    You feel wrong.

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  12. The intelligent design movement is full of second-rate biologists, philosophers, lawyers, mathematicians, and (as Egnor reminds us in this post) historians. Yawn. Why he would tangle with these losers is anyone's guess.

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  13. @anon:

    [The intelligent design movement is full of second-rate biologists... Why he would tangle with these losers is anyone's guess]

    They aren't losers. They're right, and they have a lot of courage. Each of them could have had a very prosperous mainstream career, if they only didn't insist on telling the truth.

    I am honored and humbled to know a few of them.

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  14. They aren't losers. They're right, ...

    If by "right" you mean "delusional" and "lacking in any actual evidence to back up their claims" you'd be correct. Behe's buffoonery was exposed in the Kitzmiller trial. The rest of the so-called "courageous" men in the intelligent design movement were too cowardly to even testify in the case.

    And you're right that the intelligent design movement isn't populated by second-rate biologists, philosophers, lawyers, mathematicians, and historians. Calling the clowns that populate the intelligent design movement "second-rate" is an insult to people who are second-rate.

    The luminaries of the intelligent design movement are fourth- or fifth-rate at best.

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  15. [They aren't losers. They're right, and they have a lot of courage. Each of them could have had a very prosperous mainstream career, if they only didn't insist on telling the truth.]

    You got it wrong, pal. People like Dembski and Behe have wasted their considerable talents on pseudoscience. They only have themselves to blame for that.

    Proponents of ID have been toiling on it for a couple of decades and they still have nothing to show. Sure, they wrote a couple of books for the lay audience, but that's about it. They have not managed to convince any mainstream scientists that ID is good for anything but Christian apologetics. And not just atheist scientists. The ASA, a fairly conservative Christian organization, finds ID to be a silly game.

    You want to associate with losers, go ahead. It's a free world.

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  16. @oleg:

    [Proponents of ID have been toiling on it for a couple of decades and they still have nothing to show]

    That's pretty funny, oleg. Have you ever been to the Discovery Institute? It's a tiny place, just a single floor with a few offices in a nondescript building. Maybe 20 people work there, at the most, including office staff. Their annual budget is much less than that of a single bio department in a small college.

    But they've taken on the entire scientific world. They've changed the scientific discussion among professionals and laypeople everywhere. They've inspired laws, congressional debates, presidential statements, many journal articles, and debate and statements from most major scientific organizations.

    I'm discussing them now, on this blog, with people from all over the world.

    You don't understand what they're doing, or the change that they have caused. ID is now a central topic in biology. Even those who hate it are being forced to address it. That is what makes them (and you) so angry.

    The DI has been astonishingly effective.

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  17. Michael,

    My idea of objective morality is different to yours. You insist that it's imparted by a deity into all of us. I don't see that there's any evidence for a deity, particularly one that takes a personal interest in humans, listens to prayers and gets upset with misuse of the sex organs.

    What makes you think that Darwin initiated social Darwinism, which involves preventing the 'inferior' from reproducing? In 'Descent of Man' in the chapter on natural selection and civilized nations, he notes than in primitive societies, the less fit die out. In civilized nations, efforts are made to keep the weak alive, which is against all the tenets of artificial breeding, which would be to prevent the weak from reproducing. He notes that attempting to do this in civilized nations would be a great evil, abasing our good nature arising from the social instinct extended.

    'Bullshit'. Good to see how you can bring forward such an intellectual argument.

    Materialistic explanations for origins have at least the advantage that they can be added to or modified. What does ID do, besides insisting that natural explanations will never satisfy you? If the schools want to teach nonsense such as astrology, would you accept that too? You only want ID because you think that it makes your idea of a god slightly less implausible (although it would be Ken Miller's serial incompetent creator, is that what you want?)

    Nope, evolution isn't vague. You're thinking about ID. 'Darwin's Dilemma' the video of ID got happily produced by Paul Nelson, a young Earth creationist, and Stephen Meyers. Paul Nelson said in 2004 that ID isn't a scientific theory, and nothing has changed since then.

    Nope, ID proponents are vilifying scientists discussing science facts. Just because most elite scientists are atheists is immaterial.

    Your reasoning skills aren't very good. 'You feel wrong' isn't much of an argument.

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  18. ID is now a central topic in biology.

    Oh please. You truly are delusional. Most biologists don't think about intelligent design as a "topic of biology" at all because it is so lacking in any substantive basis. The only people who spend their time thinking about intelligent design are people with a religious axe to grind trying to force their religious ideology into public schools, and honest educators stopping them.

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  19. [ID is now a central topic in biology.]

    You've got it backwards. It's creationists who are exercised about evolutionary biology. They consider themselves at war with the establishment but the vast majority of biologists do not give a flying fig about ID.

    DI and the affiliated losers got schooled in Dover. The glamorous ID journal ekes out three papers a year. Teh Light Bulb went out 2 years ago.

    Yeah, everything is peachy in the world of ID.

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  20. [I'm discussing them now, on this blog, with people from all over the world.]

    Yes, all three of them. Fame at last!

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  21. Yes, all three of them. Fame at last!

    There are blogs about baby vomit that get more traffic than this one.

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