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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Anne Applebaum, Clarified

Ilona of True Grit does not fisk. She clarifies and elucidates, throwing a rational light on some irrational matters. This quote from Anne Applebaum's column "Silver Flu Bullets":
Finally, Americans and their leaders will have to get over their love affair with intelligent design . Polls show that most don't believe in evolution. But it is actually impossible to talk logically about bird flu, or any other rapidly evolving and constantly changing virus, without using the language of evolution -- specific words such as "mutant," "recombination," "genome" and "selection." Without that language, a sensible popular or political discussion, let alone a scientific discussion, is impossible: We're stuck talking about the virus "jumping" from birds to humans, as if it were a magic bug with a mind of its own. We're stuck thinking that a virus is a hex that can be lifted with a single lucky charm, not something that will change over time.
Does not look well in this rational light:
The world according to the lockstep Left has George Bush in charge of the climate and the wolves of the Christian Right devouring our very minds....

Just one problem with Applebaum's point, and it is tied up with that useful Logical Fallacy, equivocation. Not all definitions of the word 'evolution' or 'evolutionary' are describing the same process or idea. There was a little bit of a switch in the middle, which illustrates a common misunderstanding. There is 'Evolution' as an origins and speciation theory, and there is evolution as in the 'mutation' of life forms within their species (microevolution)... and you know what we are talking about in the bird flu, and in viruses? Yes, you do because you are smart.

So why is an intelligent, well-paid ( paid more than me, anyway) writer for a prestigious news outlet not able to get the basic science right? Bias, mainly. That blindered, prejudicial outrage that parades as modern enlightenment.
I recommend Ilona's entire post highly. The column was, at a minimum, silly, but the above passage was among the silliest, most meaningless, and utterly baseless. Does Applebaum believe that the government leaders don't believe in the science of viral evolution? Surely not, because she knows that the US government launched an effort to form an international coalition to deal with it and pushed the issue at the UN.

There is and has been valid scientific criticism of the idea that the genes that form the basis of living things on the planet had the time to evolve by natural selection. No one in the medical community denies that variation, mutation and natural selection are occurring now.

As for my own criticism - I disagree with some of the scientific and economic assertions Applebaum is making - it will have to wait a bit. I am fighting with a giant workload, and the job should be done thoroughly.

So why is an intelligent, well-paid ( paid more than me, anyway) writer for a prestigious news outlet not able to get the basic science right?

Because to her, the truth is those she disagrees with are stupid. Don't let the facts get in the way of the truth.
Tommy, you are still insisting on objective reality, aren't you?

Let the progressives speak:
Don't you know that there is no such thing? Don't you know that truth is what a person really, really wants and needs it to be? Don't you know that it is oppressive and mentally/culturally imperialistic (all the worst of ugly-Americanism) to insist that people confine themselves to positions that have some basis in fact?
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