Monday, February 10, 2014

Bluster and Bunnyholes, Part 2

When I wrote the first post in this theme, I said that Part 2 would focus on Terry Hurlbut and his Conservative News and Views blog.  I'll get to that completely in the near future, but thought this would be a good time for a related sidebar.

Last week we had a much-hyped debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, with much written about it in the media and on any number of blogs & opinion sites.

Now Terry is the friend of a fellow creationist named Walt Brown, who developed something called the Hydroplate Theory to scientifically back up a strictly literal interpretation of the Genesis account. Dr. Brown has published his theories in book form, made them available online, and weighs in now and then on Creationsist matters through interviews with Terry on CNaV.

Following last week's debate, Terry put out the predictable review by Dr. Brown, who criticized Ken Ham for not using enough Hydroplate "science" to convincingly win over the Nye crowd in the debate.

The interview led to the inevitable repeat of Dr. Brown's written and phone-based "Debate Challenges", and this is where we get back to Bluster and Bunnyholes.

Dr. Brown likes to portray himself as a scientific maverick with ideas that are so radical they will never be seriously considered by mainstream science and given a fair hearing.  That's just a cop-out, and like so many others in Creationist circles, he's pretending that scientific truth can be debated into acceptance.  He's been asked to submit his work to peer-reviewed journals and let the scientific community work as it does with all proposals, conventional or radical.  He refuses to do this, and instead insists on debates, as if truth can be established by argument alone.

His debate proposals have the appearance of being sincere, conforming with good scientific discipline, and open to criticism, but when you get down to the specifics it's just a facade.  The specific conditions are controlled by contract, and a third party gets to edit the record.

That's not how science works, and Dr. Brown knows it.  He and Terry simply want to pretend that a process they control is the same thing as true independent review, and proudly declare that Dr. Brown's work must be solid because no one's dared to take him up on his challenge.

The answer to that point is simple. Anyone with the intelligence to discuss and properly evaluate scientific theories is smart enough to see when a game is being rigged, and wise enough not to take the bait.

The bluster is all on Dr. Brown's part - if he's willing to respond to written criticism in a strictly scientific debate format, how is that any different from the peer-review process, which allows him to thoroughly respond to any questions and challenges?  The Bunnyhole is where he runs when he knows he won't fare well in a forum where he can't control the conversation or the record, directly or indirectly.

If I'm wrong, Dr. Brown, then please show me the submission of your work to a peer-reviewed journal in mainstream science and I'll apologize here right away.

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