The Devil's Delusion




About December 2009

This page contains all entries posted to News and Events - David Berlinski in December 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

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December 2009 Archives

December 5, 2009

I Told You So

From The Deniable Darwin:

My own view, repeated in virtually all of my essays, is that the sense of skepticism engendered by the sciences would be far more appropriately directed toward the sciences than toward anything else. It is not a view that has engendered wide-spread approval. The sciences require no criticism, many scientists say, because the sciences comprise a uniquely self-critical institution, with questionable theories and theoreticians passing constantly before stern appellate review. Judgment is unrelenting. And impartial. Individual scientists may make mistakes, but like the Communist Party under Lenin, science is infallible because its judgments are collective. Critics are not only unwelcome, they are unneeded. The biologist Paul Gross has made himself the master of this attitude and invokes it on every conceivable occasion.

Now no one doubts that scientists are sometimes critical of themselves. Among astrophysicists, backbiting often leads to backstabbing. The bloodletting that ensues is on occasion salutary. But the process of peer review by which grants are funded and papers assigned to scientific journals, is, by its very nature, an undertaking in which a court reviews its own decisions and generally finds them good. It serves the useful purpose of settling various scores, but it does not -- and it cannot -- achieve the ends that criticism is intended to serve.

If the scientific critic finds himself needed wherever he goes, like a hanging judge he finds himself unwelcome wherever he appears, all the more reason, it seems to me, that he really should get around as much as possible.

I told you so.


December 16, 2009

An Open Letter to Donald Prothero

Hey Don --

I want you should do me a favor. I noticed that you put up this real negative review of Steve Meyer's Signature in the Cell on Amazon. I want to tell you, I loved the stuff about the slow fuse and all. It brought back memories of the time Boom Boom Salacio was a Senior Fellow at the DI. The Putznagel Salami Fire? That was Boom Boom. We all miss the Big Guy at the DI. But here's the thing. The moment your review hit the stands, bang! sales of Meyer's book go through the roof. I mean you're taking Boom Boom to a whole new level.

So I was thinking that maybe you could give my book a negative review too? Make it a real scorcher and all. It's called The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. I mean, how long did it take to write the Meyer review? Five minutes, tops? Am I right?

If you don't want to read my book, no problem. Write the review without reading the book. Just use the Meyer review and cross out his name. I need to kind of boost sales what with all the excitement over Meyer's book. We're pretty competitive over here at the DI and also my tailor is starting to complain about his bill.

So I'm counting on you as a friend. If you won't do it as a friend, then do it for science. And if you won't do it as a friend and you won't do it for science, hey, what good are you?

Am I right?

Best,
D