Thursday, December 29, 2011

#273: Ken Mercer

Yes, we have been covering them again and again and again, but the Texas Board of Education cannot be exposed too many times, and Ken Mercer is really dumb (as Jon Stewart discovered). Mercer, who retained his seat on the Board in the 2010 election, calls himself a Libertarian, which means that he is a Taliban-style, conservative, religious fundamentalist wingnut (for whom words can apparently mean anything you want them to mean; see last post’s Ilana Mercer (no relation)).

Among his gambits are (you guessed it): “Some ultra-radical groups have not evolved to the point where they realize that the ‘theory of Evolution’ is just that – a theory”. Yes – Mercer just flaunted the most sure-fire indicator of scientific ignorance in the universe, the “just a theory”-complaint (see also here). A similar degree of scientific ignorance is displayed in his claim that that the fossil record shows “sudden appearance, stasis, and the sequential nature of groups”; Mercer seems blissfully unaware that in geological terms (and the “sudden appearance” is picked from geology) “sudden appearance” does not mean “popped into existence instantaneously” (a couple of million years is “sudden” in geological terms).

Given Mercer’s contributions to Texas’s education, this is pretty apt (after all, Mercer has argued that since scientists have made mistakes, they are untrustworthy).

Diagnosis: Close to the Platonic idea of a scientific ignoramus, Mercer is also blessed with an unhealthy dose of Dunning-Kruger, and blithely unaware of his own lack of understanding. He is definitely dangerous, however.

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