Friday, May 28, 2010

#23: Jerry Bergman

Our next loon is a young earth creationist at the Institute for Creation Research.

Another staunch and thoroughly confused front fighter whose main argument is how persecuted the dissidents to the tyranny of evolution are – in short, your standard ‘I cannot discuss the evidence, so I’ll try to frame my opponents instead’. Admits that ID doesn’t really have a strong theory, but that it doesn’t need it since it’s got all the facts (whatever that means). Discussed here.

Bergman is a dishonest whiner, snower and conspiracy theorist who fabricates stories about persecution of religious scientists. His most nauseating feature is his tendency to snow debates and avoid dealing with devastating objections. Bergman is utterly crazy and ignorant, and his version of the irreducible complexity argument is bizarre even for that mess of an argument.

A summary of a debate Bergman was involved in, which well describes his tactics, is here.

Diagnosis: typical village idiot; despicably dishonest, crazy, paranoid wingnut and kook, and another extreme case of confirmation bias and persecution complex. His ardent efforts seem to have gained him some level of influence among his peers, and he is a medium threat to school curricula everywhere.

15 comments:

  1. Hmmm. Out of curiosity, I went to hear Dr. Bergman about a half a year ago and found that he and his presentation were not at all as you have described above. In fact, at least his footnotes/references/links, upon further study, turned out to be very real (and by that, I mean, they were from credible/real-world sources), unlike the links used in the above review which are not surprisingly from an equally biased writer with a chip on their shoulder such as yourself. Nonetheless, I am greatful that we have the technology now-a-days to easily verify our sources. As a general rule, I find that name-calling is not nearly as an effective tool as fact-checking ...and that goes for your review of many of the other names on your "list" as well.

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    1. I also attended this seminar and he said it himself in debates that he was involved in that when his opposition could no longer hammer on the facts they would hammer on him personally.

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  2. I find Mr Bergman to be quite intellegent and resonable. I wonder if your list is not the example of irresponsible words/actions. You seem to like to vilify anyone who disagrees with you. No one should be persuaded to disregard someone just because they are on your list.

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  3. James, I wouldn't expect anyone to draw any definitive conclusions based on what is written here. I would expect folks to research for themselves; it is very easy for anyone to verify that Bergman's 'arguments' are indeed very, very bad.

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  4. chaospet: if "it is very easy for anyone to verify" why don't you do just that? In fact, if you wrote a book that did exactly that it would be an evolutionist best-seller since it would probably be the first of its kind. The real point here is that evolutionists are quick to pontificate that "arguments are indeed very, very bad" but refuse (or perhaps are unable) to systematically demolish them with real research and science and references. Reminds me about what I heard years ago from a skeptic that Duane Gish's creation/evolution debates were boring because Gish always uses the same arguments. Gish's response went along the lines of "well, nobody has answered them yet, so why should I change to new ones".

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  5. What is your criteria for labeling someone a "loon"?" Must one be a flaming liberal God-hater to avoid the label?

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  6. "In fact, at least his footnotes/references/links, upon further study, turned out to be very real (and by that, I mean, they were from credible/real-world sources)"

    Doesn't help if what the credible sources say is, in fact, not what Bergman claims that they say.

    'What is your criteria for labeling someone a "loon"?"'

    Several overlapping criteria. Among others:

    i) strong confirmation bias (double standards of evidence, shifting goalposts and selective use of evidence, conspiracy theories.

    ii) rejecting evidence gained through empirical research in favor of a priori (dogmatic and often unfalsifiable) premises,

    iii) committing clear formal or informal fallacies. Arguments from incredulity, false dilemmas, genetic fallacies, false appeals to authority, appeals to pity, double standards and ad hominem ("scientists have vested interests, scientists claim p, hence p is false") are all fallacies.

    You don't have to be an atheist, nor liberal, to avoid the label (several of our loons are conservatives, but several are hard-core liberals as well). But if you reject science in favor of beliefs not based on evidence (i.e. religion), you're quickly on your way to crankhood. Notice this: to avoid being a crank you can be as religious as you want and base your religious outlook completely on faith rather than evidence. Crankhood comes along if your religious beliefs are in conflict with scientifically obtained evidence and theories, and you then start to reject that evidence and those theories instead of revising or restricting your religious beliefs.

    Creationism qualifies. I am not going to go through the whole manufactroversy. Science is settled through testable hypotheses and empirical evidence anyway, not rhetorics, intelligence, wisdom or arguments. Thus, to be a contender the ID movement has to have a falsifiable theory that yields testable hypotheses - and the theory has to explain the data (all the data, not just some of it) better than its alternatives. "It's designed" is not an explanation unless followed by an explanation of the exact mechanism of design (which would require identifying the intentions of the designer, as well as the purpose and methods of the designer, as well as why certain features were chosen rather than other ones). Provide a well-developed alternative, then you can play. Before that, you're arguments are worthless, regardless of how convincing they might sound (remember, for instance, that "evolutionary theory cannot explain X" is never an argument against evolutionary theory, even if it is, in fact, true that evolutionary theory cannot right now explain X - it's just pointing out that there are questions left unanswered and an argument for doing more research. There are lots of unanswered questions in physics as well. That doesn't mean that the basic theories of physics are wrong. To falsify a theory, you need several instances of "theory Y predicts the observable situation S; what obtains is, however, not S". Arguments from incredulity is no substitute for that, and that is usually what you get from ID.

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  7. Here's another guy (YEC) who writes for mainstream media you might want to add - http://www.examiner.com/x-4865-Christian-Worldview-Examiner

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  8. Oh dear - you're right, PanAsianBiz. And he should already have been covered given our alphabetical order (as should Sylvia Allen, John Ankerberg, Rolando Arafiles and Jose Arguelles, at least). We'll see what we can do about them.

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  9. Oh, proof that Bergman is a dishonest liar for Jesus of the worst kind is here. End of story. I always wonder why fundamentalist Christians never think twice about lying like this.

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  10. I think it is telling, if actually a little surprising, that Bergman's name also shows up here. And yes, it is apparently the same guy.

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  11. Well, I think anyone who claims that Bergman's claims are reasonable after watching this is either breathtakingly ignorant or deserves an entry in this encyclopedia herself/himself.

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  12. There are examples where Jerry Bergman fails to actually understand his own argument. I've written about it in a blog post here:

    http://www.lukesci.com/2011/08/10/bergman-the-ider-who-doesnt-understand-his-own-argument-the-atom-as-irreducibly-complex/

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