07 April 2009

Vocabulary for the day: "favorable enumeration"

Inspired by recent miseducational shenanigans in Texas, On the Media runs a great piece on the latest Creationist strategies for shoehorning fundamentalism into science class. NCSE's Eugenie Scott interviews well, and sparks fly when Bob Garfield talks to Casey Luskin, a "policy analyst" from the anti-science Discovery Institute:
BOB GARFIELD: What are the issues?

CASEY LUSKIN: Well, the issues are that there is a scientific controversy over evolution. And, of course, some scientists will tell you that there is no controversy, but the reality is that during the hearings of the Texas State Board of Education, we saw a number of Ph.D. biologists from top institutions come and testify about their scientific doubts about evolution.

BOB GARFIELD: Are you familiar with the fallacy of favorable enumeration? It says that you find a handful of examples that support your premise and you focus on them to the exclusion of the vast preponderance of circumstances that don't support your premise.

CASEY LUSKIN: Cherry picking is what you’re saying.

BOB GARFIELD: That’s called cherry picking.

CASEY LUSKIN: Okay, got it.
It's not the punch line, but you have to love "Well, the issues are that there is a scientific controversy over evolution. And, of course, some scientists will tell you that there is no controversy ..." That's right. You certainly can't trust us scientists to tell you about science. No sirree. We're biased.

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