Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Richard Day: Opposition to science standards a plot by coal companies

I posted a comment on the most recent silliness coming from Richard Day's blog, where anti-religious conspiracy theories take the place of rational arguments. Richard's most recent fantasy involves The Family Foundation taking coal money to advocate against climate change.


Maybe, as I point out my response, which I have included below, that is why I have publicly opposed mountain-top removal.

These are the people who are going to be teaching your children "critical thinking skills."
I'm not sure quite what Richard means when he says that I will "go with whatever argument gets [me] movement." Is he saying that I try to use the best arguments for my position? If so, I'm fail to understand what the problem with that is. Is he implying that I use arguments that I don't believe in myself? If so, he's questioning my motives. 
When you start questioning people's motives, it usually means you don't have much in the way of arguments. You owe it to your opponent in an argument to refute his best arguments, not his worst motives. 
The problem with Richard and some of his readers is that they can't seem to answer the main argument I presented, which is that the standards are weak on content knowledge (which they are). Instead, they launch off into speculation about my being a closet creationist (which I'm not) and go off into spinning conspiracy theories about me wanting to foist my religion on everyone. 
Richard and his followers don't have a shred of evidence for this, so they have to manufacture things. 
For example: that The Family Foundation of Kentucky's "new interest" in the climate change issue (the only comment in regard to which I can even remember being the two or three paragraphs in that one op ed) is due to "donations from pro-coal interests." 
This is absolutely false. In fact, it's pretty close to a smear. But that was conspiracy theorists do: they charge their opponents with things that they don't have a shred of proof for that make them feel comfortable in their own ignorance. Charges like this are not only reckless, they are ethically questionable and they don't belong in a civilized exchange of beliefs. 
And besides, how does this charge square with my publicly-stated opposition to mountain-top removal? 
One thing you can say for Richard, he can pack a lot of falsehoods into one pretty brief comment. He claims that I "roused up church folks to go testify." I presume he means at the recent Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee meeting in which the science standards were rejected.  
In fact, although The Family Foundation urged people to call legislators (because of the content issue), no one in that organization, including myself, ever asked anyone to go to the meeting to testify. In fact, when the chairman asked for the seventeen people who had signed up to testify against the regulation to decide among themselves which one would speak for them, Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute and I went to the table and told the chairman that we had no idea who the other 15 people even were, so it was hard for us to "decide." It was then he allowed both of us to speak briefly--in a smaller space of time than the advocates got to give their case. 
But even if it were true we were "rousing up church folks" to testify at the meeting, how would that act be "specifically anti-evolution"? 
I think the real answer is for Richard and his friends to get out more. Maybe actually acquainting himself with religious people would help him realize that they don't go around thinking anti-evolution thoughts all day. It also might diminish the necessity of him having to lay awake nights worrying that someone, somewhere might be thinking creationist thoughts if he realized that not all people who take their religion seriously are creationists. 
But the best thing to do is to stop trying to discern people's private thoughts just because they can't answer their public arguments.
You can read more about the secret plot by Christians to foist a knowledge of nature on poor, helpless school children here.


Richard Day said...

And I responded...

I suggested that you choose arguments that produce the most movement on an issue, and you take offense? Somebody’s grumpy today.

I commented directly on the main issue regarding science standards – saying that the method you used to make your determinations is OK, but too half-assed to draw conclusions from. KDE reviewers thought so too when they did a more thorough review of the standards.

However, you get full marks for the mountain-top removal comment. My suspicion is decimated, but it’s hardly a smear - unless you find coal producers in Kentucky to be so onerous that mere association with coal defames a person somehow. Still, I stand corrected.

Let me defend myself against your false assertion that I packed “a lot of falsehoods” into my comment that you "roused up church folks."
Here’s what your church bulletin insert said (a copy here: http://theprincipal.blogspot.com/2013/07/mystery-science-theater-2013.html)

“Important Notice from the Family Foundation of Kentucky. Do you want your children and grandchildren to be taught more evolution in the public schools?
We know that evolution is in conflict with many faith based communities…
Mak[e] your position known BEFORE the new standards are implemented…
If you do nothing, evolution instruction will increase…
Go online…
Fill out the petition…
Take extra sheets and tell others…”

If I wanted to rouse up folks, you have provided a pretty good model for doing it.

Now, Martin, the problem with you is that you can't seem to defend your own arguments. Specifically, how is gay marriage a threat to religious freedom?

You brought it up. I didn’t.

You wrote (above at August 10, 2013 at 11:11 PM): “In terms of gay marriage, there are a lot of objections to it, religious and otherwise. Many of them are simply sociological. There's also the threat it poses to religious freedom, a concern which is not itself religious.”

I said I didn’t understand your position and asked you to defend the assertion. You went silent…for two months now.

Still waiting…..

Perhaps the best thing for you to do is to stop trying to discern my private thoughts just because you can’t defend your own public argument.

Martin Cothran said...


I'll respond to the rest of this later, since I'm very busy, but this is the second time you've brought up gay marriage in the context of this discussion, saying I'm the one who brought it up.

And you use as evidence that I brought it up a post that is clearly in response to something someone else said on your blog.

I guess I'm going to have to go back and verify this but, I'm going to be even more grumpy about this this if I find out that, as I suspect, the quote from me you use was in response to someone else who actually did bring it up.

Richard Day said...

I'll check too. But regardless, it's the point you were trying to make that was having a hard time with.

How is gay marriage a threat to religious freedom?