Home » Intelligent Design » John Horgan: “I like the clash of ideas”

John Horgan: “I like the clash of ideas”

John Horgan

You know: teach the controversy, and all that. Meaning — after you watch this clip from bloggingheadstv — he’s going to come in for heavy criticism in the comments. Horgan has always kept his own counsel, which makes him interesting to read (one is bound to find something provocative — I remember thinking that his book The End of Science was wrong wrong wrong, but it made me reflect deeply about the nature of scientific inquiry) and to watch.

In the same clip, George Johnson wonders about the “niche” occupied by non-religious critics of evolutionary theory. Why do such people exist?

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

13 Responses to John Horgan: “I like the clash of ideas”

  1. 1

    So far I have only watched the first half. I strongly disagree with the idea that evolution can explain the human mind though.

    Read the first Chapter of the Design of Life folks. Learn about William James Sidis.

  2. Yep, John Horgan is far too independent and freewheeling in his thoughts and speech for the institutional priesthood to appreciate. It puts them in a quandary. Shall they continue with the strategy of denouncing and coercion, despite the fact that their target zone is growing in size and diversity? Or shall they interpret his words the way they want to hear them? Or shall they ignore him as if he never spoke.

    Hmmm. Let’s see. Their pride and arrogance will push them toward the first strategy — attack. However, their cunning and scheming will push them toward the second strategy — selective interpretation. And yet their sense of prudence will push them toward ignoring. I vote for the third.

    Ditto on The End of Science. It has been several years, but my recollection in a nutshell is that, amidst a wide array of interviews and observation, including a great deal of commentary on the quirks of various scientists and philosophers of science, John Horgan makes the point that pure or research science (as opposed to applied science aimed at technology) is struggling to maintain relevance and importance in society as a whole, for a variety of reasons. And, in the end, the institution is not quite sure how to handle the situation, and is rather depressed about it.

    Now, how does an institution respond when it feels like it is underappreciated, losing its grip on power, under fire on one or more of its major tenets, and feeling its solidarity beginning to crack? Simple, circle the wagons, execute the internal traitors, and caricutarize the external opponents. Sound familiar?

  3. Hi Paul,

    I started the new year with a post about Horgan’s “End of Science” book and my proposals for restarting science. The outcome was quite interesting.

    http://icon-rids.blogspot.com/.....start.html

    I am working this weekend but was in contact with Horgan earlier (re my post) and I will contact him again (re my post and his latest comments) after the weekend.

  4. Won’t be able to listen to Horgan till later, but I enjoyed his End of Science, not just for the wonderful interviews of just about the whole who’s who of science but also because I thought he put his finger on a problem, namely that materialist science has just about reached its limit. Of course we reach a limit in building particle accelerators—to reach the end of elementarity may require galaxy size or even Big Bang size machines. But for over a hundred years we’ve excluded agency from our knowledge. That has to have crippled our science.

    Today consciousness and agency “supervene” on mechanism, and in physics time (Block Time) supervenes on nonagentive aspects of reality.

    What happens when materialism falls? I would predict the greatest breakthroughs yet.

  5. In the same clip, George Johnson wonders about the ‘niche’ occupied by non-religious critics of evolutionary theory. Why do such people exist?

    Good question.

    I have a few ideas.

    1. Devil’s advocate. Real scientists do not suppress criticisms. Some individuals may see the suppression and become motivated in the name of academic freedom to echo critiques of the T.o.E.
    2. The T.o.E. has real problems, and intellectually honest individuals realize this.

    I am sure there are more reasons. Enough for now.

    To quote a famous Darwinist:

    A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question…–Charles Darwin

  6. William,

    My question was tongue-in-cheek, prompted by Johnson’s apparent puzzlement. I personally have no difficulty understanding why someone with no religious affiliations might nevertheless want to critique neo-Darwinism (or any other variant of evolution). That’s what intellectual life is all about.

  7. Paul Nelson,
    I don’t understand how on one hand it’s claimed that questioning and critiquing neo-Darwinism is forbidden by the establishment (and I hear a film has just come out about exactly such supression) and yet here you are talking about people doing exactly that.

    It’s either supressed or it’s not, and if it’s not what weight do the continued claims of supression have?

    That’s what intellectual life is all about.

    I take it then you disapprove of the populist tack that expelled has taken? Is expelled the equivilent for the non-intellectual?

  8. Megan.Alavi,

    neo Darwinism as applied to macro evolution and any speculation to how life originated are not science. They are only speculation. If one objects to it as science then one can expect to be censored or ostracized in the scientific community.

    Ask yourself why these non scientific scenarios are presented in biology courses as fact or proven theory and yet no one objects. What drives such behavior? Could it be fear?

  9. jerry

    Ask yourself why these non scientific scenarios are presented in biology courses as fact or proven theory and yet no one objects.

    Maybe it’s because the alternatives are not supported with evidence to the same degree?

    It’s obvious you disagree with the “evidence” for evolution, and I’m sure you have your reasons. The evidence for alternatives however, despite what you might think of the prevailing theory, is far patchier – by many orders of magnitude. Nobody can deny this.

    After all there are dozens, hundreds of university and beyond textbooks available dealing with many diverse aspects of “evolution”. What do you propose replacing those books with?

  10. Megan.Alavi:
    “What do you propose replacing those books with?”

    I think you mean augment since the word ‘replace’ carries with it the overthrow of an established system, something that ID proponents are not advocating to be done in schools.

  11. Megan.Alavi responding to Jerry @ #9:
    “It’s obvious you disagree with the “evidence” for evolution, and I’m sure you have your reasons.”

    I cannot see why you would jump to such a conclusion, Mr. or Ms. Alavi, especially after confessing here of lurking for some time at UD.

    If you had searched a little longer you would’ve realized that Jerry absolutely has no problem confiding in the evidence that science provides for evolution at the micro scale.

  12. Megan.Alavi,

    I posted a comment a couple days ago to your comment but it got swallowed up in the morass of the spam filter.

    Essentially I said all you have done is what everyone who defends the Darwinian paradigm does. Namely, you punt. When we have asked the same question to evolutionary biologist who have come here, they punt too. So you are amongst good company. No one can defend the Darwinian paradigm. No one has a clue about the origin of life. So don’t feel queasy about your beliefs, no one else can provide an explanation either. The best they do is point to some irrelevant page on talk origins.

    There is an alternative to what is in the textbooks. It is not your childish reply of replacing all the textbooks. The textbooks are generally excellent except for the one or two issues in question and the change that is required is quite easy. It is to say we do not know how this happened.

  13. “In the same clip, George Johnson wonders about the “niche” occupied by non-religious critics of evolutionary theory. Why do such people exist?”

    Because there are serious problems with the modern synthesis, that’s why.

Leave a Reply