Ben Carson’s Scientific Ignorance

Oct 13, 2015

BILL PUGLIANO / GETTY

By Lawrence M. Krauss

For a man with an impressive educational C.V., Ben Carson makes a lot of intellectual missteps. In his September 16th debate performance, he displayed a profound lack of foreign-policy knowledge; last Sunday, when he said, on “Meet the Press,” that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” he may have seriously crippled his campaign. Still, there’s one area in which Carson’s credentials have seemed unimpeachable. Many people assume that, as a successful surgeon, he has a solid knowledge of technical, medical, and scientific issues.

With the wide release of video from a speech that Carson made to his fellow Seventh-Day Adventists in 2012, however, it’s becoming clear that there are significant gaps. In the speech, he made statements on subjects ranging from evolution to the Big Bang that suggest he never learned or chooses to ignore basic, well-tested scientific concepts. In attempting to refute the Big Bang, for example—which he characterized as a “ridiculous” idea—Carson said:

You have all these highfalutin scientists, and they’re saying that there was this gigantic explosion and everything came into perfect order. Now, these are the same scientists who go around touting the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, which says that things move toward a state of disorganization. So, now you’re going to have this big explosion, and everything becomes perfectly organized. When you ask them about it, they say, “Well we can explain this based on probability theory, because if there’s enough big explosions, over a long enough period of time, billions and billions of years, one of them will be the perfect explosion”…. What you’re telling me is, if I blow a hurricane through a junkyard enough times, over billions and billions of years, eventually, after one of those hurricanes, there will be a 747 fully loaded and ready to fly.

He continued, “It’s even more ridiculous than that, because our solar system, not to mention the universe outside of that, is extraordinarily well organized, to the point where we can predict seventy years away when a comet is coming. Now, [for] that type of organization to just come out of an explosion? I mean, you want to talk about fairy tales, that is amazing.” Finally, he argued that the observed motion of the planets in our solar system would be impossible if there had been a Big Bang.


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82 comments on “Ben Carson’s Scientific Ignorance

  • @OP – Many people assume that, as a successful surgeon, he has a solid knowledge of technical, medical, and scientific issues.

    It is very obvious that he scores a z-minus for physics, astronomy and cosmology!



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  • If indeed, as Carson claims, the theory of evolution was the work of the “adversary” (devil), then we have much to thank Old Nick for ! It’s amazing that someone so apparently devoid of scientific knowledge has the balls to run for the POTUSA.

    Judging by the quality of Hilary’s likely opponents, she might well win by default, by playing the Yorkshire man tactic. :Hear all. see all, say nowt. N if you ever do owt fer others, do it fer this’un.



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  • Neodarwinian
    Oct 13, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    As I have always said…one can be a scientist and a physician, but a physician is not necessarily a scientist.

    Medics who spend their time predominantly carrying out technician type work looking down microscopes at small areas of human tissue, and the rest of their time looking into bibles with faith-blinkers, unsurprisingly have a very a poor understanding of global ecology, planets, the Solar-System, galaxies, and the universe, all of which which exist outside of the tiny box which contains the sum total of their knowledge.



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  • I am stunned by this. Dr. Carson is undoubtedly a smart man; you don’t get to be director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital unless you have some considerable amount of gray matter. Yet he makes claims that come straight from the Ken Ham school of natural history. What is going on?

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge spoke of the “willing suspension of disbelief” that allows us to watch films like Mission Impossible 5 without collapsing into fits of laughter, (not sure that’s a real movie but you get the point). I think something similar is at work here. I remember during the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, where the question was “What would make you re-evaluate your position”. Bill Nye immediately answered that a precambrian rabbit would do the trick. But it was Ken Ham’s reply that was more interesting and more revealing. He said that nothing could make him change his mind. For these people, no matter how intelligent, no matter how much education, if they believe it contradicts God’s word then it’s out. They’d believe the earth was flat if their religion required it, (actually not so long ago both it and they did).

    An alternative hypothesis is that Dr Carson is just saying what he thinks will win for him the nomination. Either way it’s a sad reflection on the state of affairs in this country.



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  • The sort of arguments that Carson trots out which are essentially pseudo scientific gibberish that’s only somewhat convincing to either the really stupid or the scientifically illiterate sound exactly like the stuff my fundie friend used to come out with when we chatted in the pub 25 years ago. Where he got it from was the steady stream of books that the fundie and YEC brigade churn out to try and keep the faithful from learning any truth about the universe. Every scientific proof needs a pseudo scientific rebuttal that just suffices to baffle those wavering in their faith enough to not be absolutely sure which viewpoint is correct. It’s essentially just noise to reduce the signal to noise ratio.

    I find it no more likely that Carson really believes any of this crap than does Ken Ham but if he does then he’s basically unhinged and if he doesn’t then he’s a shameless liar. Either way he’s unfit for high office, or even low office to be honest.



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  • Isn’t it weird, how blind faith distorts our intellectual faculties; this guy is clearly very bright, but he’s taken all this woo on board; perhaps religion was first created as a means of sheilding us from reality; death in particular.

    Religion certainly appears to cause dependency.

    Most of my fantasies revolve around sex: “After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion.”

    I hope you’ll forgive my pedantry Mr DArcy, but it goes:

    “See all, ‘ear all, say nowt. Eat all, sup all, pay nowt. An’ if th’ ivver does owt for nowt, allus do it for thessin.”

    Anyway, as usual Lawrence Krauss elaborates lucidly and succinctly; maybe he should run for the Presidency!



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  • Thanks for the correction Stafford. I used to have a mug with that written on it, but it seems to have gone AWOL. Anyway my point was that Hilary is probably better off watching the GOP circus clowns perform their silly dances, than saying anything.

    Noah’s bloody ark… and he’s serious ! Presumably he wouldn’t be too scared of bringing on the End Times ? Scary.



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  • 14
    Jonn Mero says:

    Oh, never underestimate the stupidity of the American public! It’s rock bottom, and they are drilling their way further down. How else could Fux News be a viable business?



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  • prietenul
    Oct 14, 2015 at 2:53 am

    Unfortunately, George Bush Jr. showed us that stupidity doesn’t necessarily disqualify a politician in the eyes of the American public.

    And even when struggling in a period of austerity where their health insurance costs are still more than twice those of other OECD countries, the republicans still love American taxpayers voting for them, while paying for the Bushynomics of the disastrous wars God told Bush were a good idea! – Or more accurately – paying interest on the money Bush BORROWED for the silly destructive wars which have produced the present ISIS crisis!

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/03/29/harvard-study-iraq-and-afghan-war-tab-46-trillion.html
    Study: Iraq and Afghan War Tab $4-6 Trillion

    Both estimates were much higher than U.S. officials projected they would spend when they planned to go to war in Iraq, the Post said. One senior White House official, Stephen Friedman, left government in 2002 after angering colleagues by estimating the Iraq war could cost as much as $200 billion.



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  • An enlightening and frightening article…it emphasises the almost unlimited potential for human indoctrination and the virtual impossibility of reversing it once it is internalised. The apparent insanity of suicide bombers and ISIS followers and their ilk seem almost reasonable when considering the beliefs of those like Carson who one would expect to be more sensible and sceptical? What chance is there of ever eliminating superstition based indoctrination? Perhaps there is a case for developing a new measure of human intelligence in addition to the traditional IQ’s and EQ’s… a sceptical quotient or SQ for example that measures sceptical intelligence. (An example of low EQ is the amazing lack of emotional intelligence that some brilliant academics display with their extreme eccentricity and poor social skills. Far less “intelligent” people with high EQ often perform better in society.)
    An SQ could provide another dimension on which overall intelligence could be assessed. The Carsons of this world would fail with distinction on it.



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  • The American public is no more stupid nor clever than any other section of the world. What you have in America is a money driven media, who will play the tune of the sponsors. Christianity is big business in America and therefore demands and gets ‘respect’. Yes there are climate change deniers elsewhere in the world, but they are nowhere near as organised and as well supported as in the USA. It’s hardly surprising that, fed with a daily barrage of misinformation, that many Americans remain ignorant of many things.

    When I lived in the USA some years ago, it was as if the rest of the world didn’t exist.



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  • More like a free fall Jonn. And it is NOT just politicians.
    It scares me to think half of my neighbors think like Carson.
    This is a country that is approaching a civil war. Two severe ideologies can not survive in the same bubble for long.



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  • “The American public is no more stupid nor clever than any other section of the world.”
    I wish I could agree with you. My fellow “patriots” are not that interested in education or reality.



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  • Sorry and to mods, clumsy fingers hit report rather than reply.
    I was going to suggest that Coleridge’s lines:

    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice

    In all probability refer to Mt Cruise and his MI haircut



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  • As a born and bred yorkshireman I feel I must correct Mr DArcy, the saying goes, “Hear all, see all, say nowt! Eat all, drink all, pay nowt! If ever tha does owt fer nowt, aluss do it for thysen!



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  • I haven’t seen raised what I think is a fundamental issue, pun intended, with the fundamentalists. It is their arrogance. This of course suits the general tone of ‘merica, and especially those who hold the wealth and the means to acquire more. Arrogance, pride, one of the seven deadlies, infests all the fundy religions right to the core. WE are so so important to The Lord of the Entire Universe. End times will be in OUR lifetimes, that’s how important we are. We have god’s mandate to dominate the earth, consume its resources wherever we find them, and subjugate all less well armed people everywhere. And we’re so important that we’ve been given the one-and-only truth, and the right to impose that on everyone.

    Fundamental Arrogance, of course, requires a very arrogant mythology, ‘merican exceptionalism, end times, promised lands, all that stuff. The real issue with science is what it has discovered – steadily eroding the supreme importance of ourselves, attacking the core of all fundamental belief – unjustifiable pride.

    In their own terms, all these fundies are fundamentally damned to hell for their own overbearing sin of pride. If their god existed, he’d be sorely righteously pissed at the antics of the lot of them.

    BTW this might be a better counterattack than appealing to reason (they haven’t got one) or logic (likewise).

    (edit – I should say, I mean ALL fundamentalists, christian muslim jewish and anything else, all the same at the core)



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  • @OP – In the speech, he made statements on subjects ranging from evolution to the Big Bang that suggest he never learned or chooses to ignore basic, well-tested scientific concepts.

    Maybe this is a qualification for being a North American politician!!!

    I see the present Governor of Alaska is as as brainless as Sarah Palin! – and has decided that more drilling for oil is required as a solution to funding the costs inflicted by climate change!!!!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34501867

    Expanding the search for oil is necessary to pay for the damage caused by climate change, the Governor of Alaska has told the BBC.

    The state is suffering significant climate impacts from rising seas forcing the relocation of remote villages.

    Governor Bill Walker says that coping with these changes is hugely expensive.

    He wants to “urgently” drill in the protected lands of the Arctic National Wilderness Refuge to fund them.



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  • He wants to “urgently” drill in the protected lands of the Arctic National Wilderness Refuge to fund them.

    George Orwell would be cheering from his grave, screaming, “I told you so…”



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  • I’m not a biologist but microbe GFAJ-1 is supposed to be part of a second genesis right here on Earth that’s not part of the tree of life that every other cataloged organism is on. If that’s true it would certainly put a big nail in the creationist coffin.



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  • Only one thing left to do in a very british way. Write him a stiff letter…..only Ausi style.

    Dear dingo breath,
    …………………….



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  • Write him a stiff letter

    In my home city, the local newspaper (possibly doesn’t fit the definition of a newspaper but it’s the only one in town.) is dropping in circulation. They are trying to boost readership, so on odd days, they give it away at my local supermarket. The check out staff are usually Uni students doing their shift. I politely decline saying, “Sorry. But Murdoch denies global warming so he is a threat to my grandkids. I refuse all Murdoch pulp fiction.” Some check out people agree. Some don’t see the link. I refuse all Murdoch products. I would like to see a world wide Murdoch boycott. Send him broke.



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  • Sorry. This is not so, as Wiki will explain.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GFAJ-1

    A simple explanation for the GFAJ-1 growth in medium supplied with arsenate instead of phosphate was provided by a team of researchers at the University of Miami in Florida. After labeling the ribosomes of a laboratory strain of Escherichia coli with radioctive isotopes, they followed bacterial growth in medium containing arsenate but no phosphate. They found that arsenate induces massive degradation of ribosomes, thus providing sufficient phosphate for the slow growth of arsenate tolerant bacteria. Similarly, they suggest, GFAJ-1 cells grow by recycling phosphate from degraded ribosomes, rather than by replacing it with arsenate.[56]



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  • alf1200
    Oct 14, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I wish you blokes would speak English……..crikeys……………

    Ha! If yer fashin yersel that much o’er a wee bitty Yorkshire dialect ye’ll be fine pleased ye dinnae bide oot here in rural Aberdeenshire far the teuchters are cos ye widnae un’erstn a word we’re spikkin aboot. Ye’d be sair affrontit to even try a conversation with onybidy. Ye’d be pullin the hair oot yer heid and we’d be claikin aboot the gype furrin toonser fa’s nae wise.



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  • For the last six weeks I have been debating with a Seventh Day Adventist abiogenesis, evolution and deep time geology. This is something I’ve done with a student of mine, when I first met the breed. The defence strategies are fascinating. Long explanations are not read or listened to. Short ones, are sterilised mainly with “common sense” incredulity, so that they cannot carry over and build any weight of facts with subsequent short explanations of the next bit. The defence that no one was there to see is one of the mainstay dismissals. Simple gaps in semantic knowledge fuel “common sense incredulity”, so “rocks cant bend” is a show stopper no matter how much you talk of plastic creep and deformation below a strain rate limit.

    This is all trained in…and very obviously not trained out with an understanding of basic materials science.

    Asking them to prove scientifically their claims seems the most powerful approach. Showing their claims as equally in need of proof, and that their assumptions of common sense simplicity are entirely unfounded, seems most unsettling. Not species on the ark which simply scales against subsequent micro-evolution, but simple chemistry and testable properties of rock. Where are their science papers?



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  • It’s hard to imagine any education or reality sinking into the heads of people like this.

    http://news.sky.com/story/1569536/parents-charged-with-killing-son-in-church

    Not even in the heartland. This is upstate New York not far from where my best friend lives in Ithaca. They, with the help of several others, beat their 19 y/o son to death in church and seriously injured his younger brother in a “counselling session” to try and make the boys confess their sins. Severe genital injuries were found by the ME after the attacks. When Christopher Hitchens said religion poisons everything I think this is what he meant.



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  • phil rimmer
    Oct 15, 2015 at 3:56 am

    I was watching a (poor for them) BBC program on the Drake Equation, and was disappointed to see the failed NASA Mono-Lake paper on arsenic, (among other things) quoted as a source in an abiogenesis/SETI discussion.



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  • This report is interesting. A single celled organism that is not Eukaryote or Prokaryote, right here on earth. Possibly in the act of evolving.

    That leaves the final possibility. As Sherlock Holmes remarked, ‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ While the other two options are by no means impossible, this third is the most interesting: it is a prokaryote, which has acquired endosymbionts, and is changing into a cell that resembles a eukaryote.

    If this is indeed the case, Parakaryon myojinensis is undergoing the very step that is necessary for the evolution of complex life – eukaryotes — from prokaryotes: endosymbiosis. Every eukaryote on Earth evolved from a single endosymbiosis between a prokaryote host cell and the bacteria that became mitochondria.

    To my mind, this third option makes the most sense. It immediately explains why the population density is low; endosymbioses between prokaryotes are rare and are beset by logistical difficulties.

    An endosymbiosis between prokaryotes also explains why this cell has various traits that look eukaryotic, but on closer inspection are not. It is relatively large, with a genome that looks substantially larger than any other prokaryote, housed in a ‘nucleus’ continuous with internal membranes, and so on. These are all traits that we predict would evolve, from first principles, in prokaryotes with endosymbionts.

    If Parakaryon myojinensis is repeating eukaryotic evolution, as I suspect, its extremely low population density (just one specimen in 15 years of hunting) is predictable.

    Even if other P myojinensis cells exist in the deep, the most likely fate for the species is extinction. Perhaps it will die because it has not proceeded far enough along the path towards becoming a eukaryote — it hasn’t yet excluded all its ribosomes from its nuclear compartment; and it has not yet ‘invented ‘ sex.

    Or perhaps — chance in a million — it will succeed, and seed a second coming of eukaryotes on earth. Only time, and trawling, will tell.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/08/31/4292949.htm



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  • This one is tantalising. A single example is the most frustrating, being unable to know if it was a simple freak doomed to die or on its its way to a viable sophistication and the high life, a bug about town. (Cue: Putting on the Ritz.)

    The chances of finding a viable such thing would be spectacularly unlikely given that the pro- to eukaryote transition took possibly an order of magnitude longer than the transition from rocks’n’water’n’energy to prokaryotes.

    Finding lots of different failures or in the process of becoming failures might be possible and more illustrative of what went on and what the real problems are.



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  • 43
    mistermack says:

    I haven’t read all the posts, so sorry if I’m repeating what someone has said.
    But, being a sceptic as well as an atheist, I very much suspect the sincerity of Carson’s stated views.
    He’s obviously always been an ambitious self-publicist, and in the US, if you have ambition, you can’t say you’re an atheist. Especially if you want to appeal to the right wing of US society.
    His god-mantra is absolutely essential, if he wants to get anywhere, and it’s also getting him great air-time. It won’t hurt him in the polls, with his target slice of the electorate. It will get him votes.
    Who know’s what he really thinks? He doesn’t strike me as a sincere person, so it could be anything.
    I personally don’t think he really believes all that rubbish that he’s spouting. But he’s decided that it’s going to be his selling point.
    And he’s right.



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  • Nasa’s lack of diligence even now is problematic…

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/02dec_monolake/

    There is a substantial need to void erroneous or outdated web pages left around for the unwitting to trip over. I can see a wiki type enterprise flagging poor content. The casual user would employ an app to look for such flags and explanatory links with any visited page. Organisations could review their flag status, argue it or revise or delete to improve their overall status. Google search might invoke the app or the preferred app automatically as required.

    I’m sure there is stuff in the pipeline. I can also see AI trawlers pre-flagging possible problems sometime soon.

    Nasa needed success to better negotiate against Republicans cutting budgets. This was possibly counter productive with the YEC loons…



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  • Here in Canada where we are a few days from a federal election the CBC ran a story about the role that Big Data is playing in creating strategy for the different campaigns.

    In one instance they focused on the Conservatives who recently made a big deal about trying to prevent a woman from taking the oath of citizenship wearing a niqab. Apparently the data analytics suggested this would generate support among groups who agreed with the conservatives on only this one issue, (mainly in Quebec), whilst those who would disagree with them would not have voted for them anyway. From the polling over the last few weeks it turns out they were spot on.

    But yeah, it’s one thing to say you’re against the niqab, at least we don’t have anyone in Canada running for elected office while claiming that evolution is false.



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  • I wish you blokes would speak English……..crikeys……………

    Rough Glossary of Yorkshire terms

    Owt = anything

    Nowt = nothing

    Tha = you

    Aluss = always

    Thysen = yourself

    I hope this helps. Sorry for any confusion. No Navajo in reply please !



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  • Arkrid Sandwich
    Oct 15, 2015 at 4:07 am

    ye’ll be fine pleased ye dinnae bide oot here in rural Aberdeenshire far the teuchters are cos ye widnae un’erstn a word we’re spikkin aboot.

    An’ if tha doesnae bamboozzle ’em, yea cud trie the Gaelic!



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  • Do you think this is what Carl Sagan was worried about when he wrote:

    We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
    We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster.
    We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.


    Is this guy one of the ‘left behinds’ as far as science goes, or is he just being deliberately obtuse?



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  • Now im not agreeing on his part, please dont get me wrong. But for a religious individual, he has a healthy sense of skepticism on something he doesnt understand. Yes i am uncomfortable with the idea of a man with his level of ignorance running for president, but i didnt find his argument to be off base if he is religious. I just think he doesnt understand. Which is normal for the world we live in. I dont think its right to attack a man for not understanding something like the beginning of existence. If someone, such as, lawrence krauss were to sit down and properly explain things to him as well as allowing him to make his own arguments, it would probably turn out much better than insulting him. When it comes to this, he needs to be corrected with respect, not corrected in a matter that would prevent him from even wanting to learn it further. His argument yes is quite fallible, but again, if hes religious, he just needs guidance. Many of us have been there, myself as an ex jehovahs witness included. Hes obviously not stupid, just a little ignorant. Just because we know the truth doesnt mean we get to act like a jehovahs witness here and belittle someone for not knowing. I remember what that was like, and my ascension to objectivity was delayed because of this type of ignorance on the guides part. You cant expect everyone to just get it cause its true. The big bang is hard for most to accept wether or not proof is validated, just like the non existence of god can be hard for me sometimes even though i know the proof is valid. And this is coming from a man who was in tjose religious shoes his whole life. Its fuckin hard yo. Give him time after making your own case with him if you ever do so get the chance. Its not easy to just change your life view like that when you were brought up with religion. You wont blame a paraplegic for falling down every now and again after rehab when all he knows is a chair.



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  • This is what’s crazy. Ben Carson graduated from Yale University with a major in psychology. Yet he shows no understanding of such psychological concepts as apophenia, hyperactive agency detection, cognitive dissonance and worse – little understanding of science. Even crazier, he and fellow ignoramus Donald Trump are currently the leading Republican presidential candidates in the US.

    But then I need look no further than my own family physician, who, on my first visit with him, told me unsolicitedly I should “prepare for the next life.” No, I’m not terminally ill. What madness!



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  • Joshua
    Oct 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Now im not agreeing on his part, please dont get me wrong. But for a religious individual, he has a healthy sense of skepticism on something he doesnt understand.

    No he doesn’t! Scepticism is a critical evaluation of something which a person has studied and understood, not ignorant blitherings about something which they could easily have studied, but wilfully failed to do so.

    Yes i am uncomfortable with the idea of a man with his level of ignorance running for president, but i didnt find his argument to be off base if he is religious. I just think he doesnt understand.

    He has been making these statements of asserted ignorance for years, which for anyone who has been given educational opportunities in scientific educational establishments is inexcusable!

    Which is normal for the world we live in. I dont think its right to attack a man for not understanding something like the beginning of existence.

    It is entirely right when an ignoramus is publicly posing dishonestly as an authority figure on the subject and using his qualifications as a doctor as badge of authority for false claims.

    He is lying – either wilfully, recklessly, or because he is delusionally incompetent and incapable of learning!
    That is simply unacceptable from anyone posing with scientific credentials.

    Liars and incompetents posing in public as leaders, need to be called out to prevent them doing damage to everyone else.

    If he needs rehab, he can get that in a clinic, not in a presidential office!

    You wouldn’t put a flat Earthist in charge of NASA out of sympathy for his delusional condition!



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  • 58
    Xtacrios says:

    “One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself. In the case of a man-made artefact such as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer. It is tempting to apply the same logic to an eye or a wing, a spider or a person.”

    Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Boeing_747_gambit#Dawkins.27s_statement



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  • You have to appreciate the Aussie (nah spellcheck!) accent to know how effective it can be LaurieB. If you want to tell someone where they are going wrong and mock them at the same time then nothing else will do. ?



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  • Lateral thinking is a huge problem. I don’t really know just how far chemistry has come since the 60’s but an elderly chemist, here in Cyprus, could not see how we have three lizards, one that swims, one on land and one that flies, without the hand of god.



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  • Olgun
    Oct 16, 2015 at 4:37 am

    Lateral thinking is a huge problem.

    Like godless rational thinking, those who don’t have this skill, have little or no understanding of the thinking of those who do! (and laughably call them “narrow-minded” from time to time!)



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  • Joshua seems to be making the argument that if the theory behind the Big Bang were patiently explained to Carson, he would understand it. But does Carson want to understand it. Many voters are religious people who believe in a 6000 year old Earth. One reason for this is because it is easier to believe this and make fun of scientists than to exert the effort to understand the theory behind the Big Bang. Carson wants to appeal to these religious people. So he joins in the condemnation of scientists.



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  • I never understood the validity given the Boeing 747 argument. Assuming, first, a Boeing can reproduce, then applying the theory of evolution to it, the FIRST thing to come out of the tornado-ravaged junkyard would be a simple glider. Am I missing something here?



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  • Vicki:

    Am I missing something here?

    Apart from the runway, the pilot, the fuel, the in flight movies, the piped grub, the navigation system, passport and immigration control, the airport terminal, the roads to the terminal, the radio system etc etc, all of which have been produced by human hard work and ingenuity. No theologian ever produced a 747, although amongst the lot of them they might have produced enough hot air to lift the beast off the ground for an inch for one nano second, but they can talk whole universes into existence without ever having to worry about the nuts and bolts of reality.

    I think it was Fred Hoyle (“Big Bang”), physicist who coined the 747 junkyard expression. The YECs are claiming him as a late convert to God, but apart from their claims is there any evidence of this ? As Richard Dawkins puts it in other words than mine, even if the hurricane created the 747, much against the odds, the odds of a perfect being existing for eternity, out of space and time, and yet who can affect reality, indeed create reality, are far far less than a hurricane producing a 747.

    Now who’s for Pascal’s wager ?



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  • Mr. Darcy I prefer the “great noodle in the sky”. It adds the appropriate level of whimsy with just a touch of sexism.

    What most writers on this web site leave out is the more cynical view. While Carson has the academic credentials that say he can think for himself. He thinks by expressing such ludicrous views he can accumulate power in the Republican party. Its a power grab aimed at the party faithful.



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  • I was lucky my father protected me from indoctrination until I could think for my self. He knew his job was done when at nine I was kicked out of vacation bible school for asking why and saying things like “That doesn’t make sense.”

    But I have also seen the power of early indoctrination. I have a friend who is a recovering Catholic. Even at age 67 and decades away from the church the idea of you’re going to hell still flashes through his mind if he does anything contrary to church teaching that he was taught as a child sixty years ago.



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  • Add it to the list.

    Anyone who was truly a believer and a follower of JC,

    would not make a virtue out of being rich, quite the opposite
    would not approve of invading other countries – especially on pretexts – and certainly not in JC’s name
    would not be a gun owner (outside of specific professions or vocations)

    And yet the ones who are most pro-capitalist and anti-socialist, the most gung ho on foreign policy, and the strongest on gun rights are generally also the loudest of the self-proclaimed Christians.

    I think it’s less to do with religion per se, and more a case of tribalism. It’s all about being on the Red team or the Blue team.

    (Much is made of the fact that you could not find (today) a successful openly atheist GOP candidate, however hardline their views on gun control, and foreign and economic policy.
    But you can’t be on the Red team unless you tick all the boxes. )

    So what’s a serious political wannabe going to do? He may be deep red on all the foreign/economic/social issues, but he has zero chance if he’s not religious or even just silent on the issue.



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  • Sorry to add to your confusion troy not just aware of credulity but proud of it. I’m in the same boat I can’t believe it either.



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  • The inane religious fail to see their 747 analogy applies more to their own creationism than evolution. They are the ones saying everything appeared readily formed in an instant from a tornado of mere thoughts in their creator’s head, whereas evolution would be analogous to a continuing tornado that lasted 4 billion years!

    The creationists are better off not bringing up flight, since their maker couldn’t even tell bats from birds. Science has large numbers, which seem to confuse the pious, who have junkyard and beach analogies instead.



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  • Vicki
    Oct 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I never understood the validity given the Boeing 747 argument. Assuming, first, a Boeing can reproduce, then applying the theory of evolution to it, the FIRST thing to come out of the tornado-ravaged junkyard would be a simple glider.

    Or a piece of flying sheet metal!

    Am I missing something here?

    It is the creationists small minded simplistic thinking, which assumes some random process threw together a complex product as a one off, – and a lack of any understanding of not quite accurate replications taking place billions of times, with natural selection weeding out less competitive and failed versions, and failed changes.

    They then exercise their personal ignorance incredulity on the odds against their own strawman creation of an instant one-off complex structure, magically thrown together by random forces!



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  • The religious wrongly attribute every aspect of evolution to random chance. Evolution, while tiny variations in an organism can be random, once that change has a occurred, the sledge hammer of evolution deals brutally with variation. If the change does not lead to improved competitiveness against rivals, then it is discarded. If it does, it remains and becomes the template. So there is nothing random about Natural Selection. It is a very active comparison of two variations.

    In the junk yard, if two pieces of metal where blown by the wind, one piece flat, and the other slightly curved, the curved piece would get more lift and fly further. The flat piece would be discarded. The junk yard Boeing analogy fails now, because the preferred successor, the curved piece of metal can’t reproduce. End of argument creationists.



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  • A couple of day ago I made a comment on my blog about idiocy Ben Carson’s statements. I got a replay from a “scientific” Christian for example he says the universe is 13.7 billion years old and the earth is not 6,000. After the second reply it became clear he at wanted to convert me to a believer in creative design. Since as he said only directed God intelligence design and not evolution can explain the that can explain the Cambrian life Explosion.

    For those of you on here that don’t remember that was a intelligence design ploy in the 1990’s and early 21 century. I try not to say things like ‘ yes it can you idiot’ so here is what I wrote. (Please let me know what people on here think. )

    “An alternative with no God required explanation for the Cambrian Explosion is provided by EVOLUTION. It is much the same as has occurred with the computer capability explosion in the last half century. That’s exactly the kind of thing we would expect to see with evolution. When new mechanisms appears such as mobility and/or multi-cellular organisms appear there are thousands of niches to fill and evolution will be very very fast.

    Even the rarity of precursor organism has a rational reason .[Note he made a point of the lack of precursor fossils.} Immediately prior to the Cambrian, during the Ediacaran, life forms were simple, soft and mostly immobile. This does not favor the creation of fossils especially after almost half a billion years of volcano’s and other geological activity have reshaped the planet.”

    So what do people on this web site think?



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  • Willow
    Oct 17, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    A couple of day ago I made a comment on my blog about idiocy Ben Carson’s statements. I got a replay from a “scientific” Christian for example he says the universe is 13.7 billion years old and the earth is not 6,000. After the second reply it became clear he at wanted to convert me to a believer in creative design.

    With repeated debunking of YECs and clear explanations of Bishop Ussher’s mistaken use of the bible as a basis for calculating the age of the Earth, creationists have been forced to accept SOME scientific evidence or look ridiculous (as Ken Ham still does).

    Since as he said only directed God intelligence design and not evolution can explain the that can explain the Cambrian life Explosion.

    The “Old Earth Creationists”, have therefore as usual, fudged a mixture of mythology and science, to remove the more laughable features to which YECs still cling.

    For those of you on here that don’t remember that was a intelligence design ploy in the 1990’s and early 21 century. I try not to say things like ‘ yes it can you idiot’ so here is what I wrote. (Please let me know what people on here think. )

    There is a time-line giving the history of this US delusional stupidity:-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_intelligent_design

    “An alternative with no God required explanation for the Cambrian Explosion is provided by EVOLUTION. It is much the same as has occurred with the computer capability explosion in the last half century.

    Evolution IS the explanation for the Cambrian explosion (which lasted 25+ million years) and was only “sudden” in terms of geological time-scales! There are no credible “alternative” explanations. – Only ID/ Creationist fiction, incredulity, and lack of any grasp of geological and evolutionary time-scales.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/earth/earth_timeline/cambrian_explosion
    The Cambrian explosion, or less commonly Cambrian radiation, was the relatively short evolutionary event, beginning around 542 million years ago in the Cambrian Period, during which most major animal phyla appeared, as indicated by the fossil record. Lasting for about the next 20–25 million years, it resulted in the divergence of most modern metazoan phyla. Additionally, the event was accompanied by major diversification of other organisms.[note 1] Prior to the Cambrian explosion,[note 2] most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. Over the following 70 to 80 million years, the rate of diversification accelerated by an order of magnitude[note 3] and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today. Many of the present phyla appeared during this period, with the exception of Bryozoa, which made its earliest known appearance in the Lower Ordovician.

    The Cambrian Explosion was simply a period of rapid evolution when the opportunity presented itself!
    There is nothing in science which says evolution has to proceed at a uniform pace!

    Similar mini “explosions” occur, when ever opportunist colonisations and branching speciation take place – as with isolated developments on remote islands such as Hawaii or the Galapagos.



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  • Of course I know that now. The answer just wasn’t at the tips of my typing fingers.

    I like your term “Old Earth Creationists” I was using scientific creationist. I shuddered each time I had to use write the word scientific close to the word creationist.

    Right now I’m writing a brief post about the evolution explanation of the Cambrian Explosion for my blog.



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  • Willow
    Oct 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    I like your term “Old Earth Creationists” I was using scientific creationist. I shuddered each time I had to use write the word scientific close to the word creationist.

    As there is almost inevitably a lack of any scientific methodology in creationist claims, I regularly use the term pseudo-science – even when it is produced by someone with scientific credentials, who is simply exhibiting deluded compartmentalism or dishonesty.

    ID quotes scraps of science to sound “sciency”, but inevitably denies substantial chunks of solidly evidenced science.
    (As in astronomy, geology, radiometric dating, genetics etc.)
    Like Carson, they have copied drivel from books or blogs written by other creationists, and would be laughed at by any serious educated scientific audience!



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  • Good answer, Willow. I would also point out to him the following:

    1) We now have fossils of bacteria off Australia that are 3.5 billion years old, much earlier than his god’s work.
    2) If the Cambrian Explosion was his god’s work, what was he doing before and after that period, on holiday?
    3) Doubtless the creationist would say it was all his god’s work. In that case, what’s so special about the Cambrian, because god was busier then?
    4) If he credits his god for the Cambrian activity, he should do likewise for his god killing off 99.9% of all species on earth, almost all from that period. What was the point?
    5) His assertion “only directed God intelligence design…can explain” is an argument from ignorance/incredulity fallacy. Offering it as the only option to evolution is a false dichotomy fallacy.
    6) He has no evidence, only an old book and his imagination.

    Keep up the good fight. 🙂



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  • p.s. Since 7 is such a magical number to Christians/Creationists,

    7) He can thank evolution and biology for the fact that he even knows about the “Cambrian Explosion”. Without this hard earned knowledge, his assertion would have been “My god somehow made a bunch of things…once upon a time,” which is exactly how silly and useless his assertion is.



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