Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#365: Wesley J. Smith


Wesley J. Smith is a lawyer, award winning author, and a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism. In fact, Smith is one of the Tute’s most highly profiled associates. He was a prominent figure in the discussion surrounding the Terri Schiavo case and a vocal opponent of assisted suicide and euthanasia, and also of human cloning research and environmentalism (which is “anti-humanist”). His opposition to bioethics has been criticized, unsurprisingly, for selective use of evidence, conspiracy mongering and for being “prepared to bend the truth to make a point, turn a stomach, and potentially radicalize a reader.” Who would have thought this about a Discovery Institute fellow? No surprise that he was a prominent critic of Obamacare’s death panels.

Given that his schtick is human exceptionalism, and that he promotes human exceptionalism in DiscoTute garb, his take on evolution is predictably dumb. Yes, it is the “confusing the truth of a claim with the consequences of believing it” fallacy, combined with a complete mischaracterization of what the consequences of believing it in fact are (as illustrated by his attempt to saddle Dawkins with promoting eugenics (though he did, in all fairness, apologize).

A good response to his contributions to the Schiavo case can be found here

His contributions to the stem cell debate are discussed here. It’s hard to single out what’s dishonesty, what’s ignorance, and what’s wishful thinking.

Diagnosis: More careful, and less obviously insane than many of his fellow Fellows, Smith is nevertheless driven by dogma in selecting which evidence he chooses to endorse. He enjoys a rather high profile, and must be considered dangerous.

3 comments:

  1. Wesley J. Smith in a column noticed that you guys have referred to him in this Encyclopedia. He says that he is honoured by the listing.

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  2. He recently wrote a screed entitled "Normalizing Pedophila." At one time, W.J Smith would have been the type of loon that William F. Buckley would have barred from writing for National Review because of his stupidity. It seems they no longer care about looking intelligent or respectable.

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  3. Believe it or not, in a previous career, Smith worked with Ralph Nader and was an expert on insurance companies' anticonsumer practices. He seems to have gone off the deep end, and now gets published by one of the wingnuts' publishing houses, Encounter Books.

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