Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I'm O.K., You're Biased

The NY Times has a great article with the heading "I'm O.K., You're Biased." This is one reason why I am a "macroevolution agnostic." I believe that many people on both sides of the debate cannot evaluate the evidence in an objective, rational manner, but are quite confident that they can:

Research suggests that decision-makers don't realize just how easily and often their objectivity is compromised. The human brain knows many tricks that allow it to consider evidence, weigh facts and still reach precisely the conclusion it favors.

When our bathroom scale delivers bad news, we hop off and then on again, just to make sure we didn't misread the display or put too much pressure on one foot. When our scale delivers good news, we smile and head for the shower. By uncritically accepting evidence when it pleases us, and insisting on more when it doesn't, we subtly tip the scales in our favor.

Phillip Johnson acknowledged his worldview and potential bias at the beginning of his book Darwin On Trial. I respect such openness, and he gains credibility in my eyes because of this honesty.

There are many that I would call Darwinian fundamentalists who seem to believe that they are above bias. Many seem to be completely unaware that they have a worldview that will likely influence how they evaluate the evidence. I am therefore more skeptical of their claims.

One of my previous posts with a lengthy discussion of this issue is here.


At April 19, 2006 2:22 PM, Blogger Breslin83 said...

Well said. So much for the myth of objectivity. I suppose anyone who can claim complete objectivity qualifies as a god. In any event, the way to make an argument is to say up front where you're coming from and then try to evaluate the evidence as evenly as possible. Then if someone still wants to disagree, he had better disagree with the assumptions in the argument, not the assumptions of the arguer. G.K. Chesterton put it well in The Everlasting Man : "I do not claim to be completely objective about the question [of Christ] in the sense that the final act of faith fixes a man's decision. But I do claim to be more objective than those most eager to speak on the subject, in that I would be ashamed to say of the Buddah what they say of the Gallilean". Objectivity is often hard to come by, which is why science is both a grand and a difficult calling.

At April 19, 2006 7:59 PM, Blogger stewie said...

So, debasing objectivity and reason is what's needed to allow for ID.


At April 20, 2006 6:45 PM, Blogger Breslin83 said...

Objectivity isn't what's being debased actually. TRUTH is objective, it is independent of either you or me. This includes scientific truth. However, two people can look at the same piece of evidence and come to different conlcusions about it. If this were not the case, most academics wouldn't have a job. Neutral and Selectionist evolutionists are a case in point. The same objective reality, say the taxonomic structure of organisms, genetic equidistance or homology can inspire (and does) hot debate, even among uncompromising Darwinists. Quantum physics is another case in point. All that means is that truth is hard to determine, not that it can't be or isn't. A truly reasonable person is one who not only wields reason reasonably, but understands its limits. See my site for common Darwinian examples of this.


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