Monday, April 8, 2013

#503: Jim Nelson Black

Jim Nelson Black is founder and senior analyst of Sentinel Research Associates in Washington, DC, and is the former executive director of the Wilberforce Forum, a public policy think tank and research institute previously headed by Charles Colson. He appears to make a big thing out of the fact that he has a PhD in Comparative literature and languages (from University of Texas at Arlington) and that he is therefore fully qualified to be taken seriously concerning such issues as the state of the science of evolution. Black is for instance the author of the illuminatingly titled “Freefall of the American University: How Our Colleges Are Corrupting the Minds and Morals of the Next Generation”, as well as (I assume this is the same Jim Nelson Black) some books coauthored with Sam Brownback, including “I have seen the Kingdom”.

His views of evolution is described in his “The Death of Evolution”, which is named after the longest running lie in creationism, and reviewed here. It is a standard collection of all the creationist PRATTs from the 1960s and 1970s, and completely ignorant about the fact that these have, in fact, been refuted a thousand times. So here we find Duane Gish’s claims about the bombardier beetle with no awareness of the refutation written up by G.W. Weber in 1981. It is followed by appeals to the second law of thermodynamics. All of it is presented as reasons why a “growing number of respected scientists are defecting from the evolutionist camp purely on scientific grounds,” which is, of course, not backed up by numbers because it is total bullshit. The illuminating thing (well, unsurprising thing) about the book is the fact that Black trots out these points as if no one has considered them before, does not even consider actually engaging with the refutations, elegantly showing that creationism just doesn’t develop at all and is completely impervious to facts, research and reason.

Diagnosis: Another voice to add volume to the creationist attempt to win by the inference rule “if a claim is repeated often enough, it must be true (despite the fact that it is blatantly and demonstrably false)”. Impact unknown, but Black seems to entertain some respect among the most extreme religious right groups.

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