Stupid, Ignorant, Evil, or Insane?

Brad Delong takes on Gregg Easterbrook, who wrote:
Don't take this personally, but if you are an American adult there is a one in two chance that Richard Dawkins, a renowned professor of science at Oxford, thinks you are "ignorant, stupid or insane," unless you are "wicked." These are the adjectives Dawkins chooses to describe the roughly 100 million Americans adults who, if public opinion polls are right, believe Homo sapiens was created directly by God, rather than gradually by evolution.


Actually Brad thinks that those four possibilities pretty much cover it:
...The important point, of course, is that contrary to Easterbrook's claim that there isn't much to choose from, that list actually covers the whole wide range of possibilities. Dawkins himself goes on to explain that the stupid, insane or wicked are the minority possibilities, but let's be honest and face the facts: if you are a creationist, you are almost certainly deeply ignorant of biology.


Well Brad, though I usually worship the magnetic domains you align, I've got to take exception to you and Richard here. Of course we are all at least a little stupid, ignorant, evil, and insane, so you may have a technical point, but I don't think that's how you guys mean it. My guess is that most creationists are mainly disbelievers less from ignorance than choice. You and Richard ought to be aware that evolution has provided us with brains that like to organize and discipline our knowledge, which requires disregarding a lot of things which don't fit our world view. The people who choose to disbelieve evolution in order to maintain their faith in their religion are not necessarily stupid for doing so - it's not likely to decrease their fitness by much - probably a lot less than calling half a country stupid, for example.

What they are doing is not different in principle from what I do when I start reading about a new perpetual motion machine - I assume it's crap because I really believe in the first and second laws of thermodynamics. I willing to bet that Dawkins and Delong have similar prejudices which permit them to dismiss out of hand all sorts of arguments without analyzing every detail.

Steven Jay Gould, a prominent evolution writer who often crossed swords with Dawkins, was neither stupid, ignorant, insane, or, so far as I know, especially evil, but he did have a bunch of wrongheaded ideas about evolution. This is probably true of lots of other evolutionary scientists also.

Evolution is very important to Dawkins, and to me, but not to most people. His assumption that anyone with different priorities fits in one of his four categories is merely an ignorant prejudice on his point.

So I say creationists are not necessarily evil, stupid, especially ignorant, or even insane. They are, however, quite wrong. So, in this case, are Dawkins and Delong.

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