Monday, May 19, 2008

A Darwinbot Sighting

In cyberspace--at least in those portions of cyberspace where the findings of science are discussed--can be found entities known as "Darwinbots." These are beings that apparently cannot think originally or critically about issues and cannot deal with any new information. Instead, they seem able only to dump information that is stale, outdated, and false, misinformation programmed into them in some cases long, long ago.

I'm not sure who originally coined this term for such entities, though if I had to guess I'd suspect Canadian author and blogger Denyse O'Leary. Nonetheless, these robot-like Darwin enthusiasts are common problems on many web sites and blogs.

And the point of my mentioning all this is that--for a short time yesterday--this very blog was corrupted by a Darwinbot dump. I have excised it (for reasons I'll explain in a moment), but will here offer just a small portion of the Darwinbot comment that was offered in response to my last post...
Darwin’s theory has lasted for over 150 years of relentless rigorous testing by science. At each significant step, evidence that confirms the fact of evolution has been compounded. Fossils are the most easily observed evidence for evolution. DNA profiles show evolutionary relationships among species. There was no field of genetics when Darwin published the Origin of Species. The development of the field of genetics stood to topple natural selection. It turned out to be one of the strongest demonstrations of the fact of evolution there is. Evolution is evident today in how bacteria evolve to resist antibiotics. The list goes on and on…
I will address some of the many factual and logical problems with even this short bit of misinformation. But first, I should explain my deviating from my general policy of not deleting comments.

#1. This is easily identified as a true Darwinbot message. It betrays no accurate understanding of the fields of science to which it appeals, but rehearses a monotonously common list of misunderstandings and logical fallacies. It is quite easy to find the same sort of thing (or even more of the like) simply by searching the comments section of any website or blog that promotes intelligent design or scientific integrity or (alternatively) a Darwinist site (where Darwinbots can be found whipping themselves into a frenzy with such nonsense). There's nothing that lowers the intellectual credibility of a blog quicker than allowing Darwinbots to post at their leisure.

#2 Worse yet, this was an anonymous Darwinbot (AD). The normal variety can be bad enough, but those unwilling to put their name behind their posts are capable of the worst damage. While there are instances (in blog discussions) where anonymity is okay (or even preferred), in this case it demonstrates some form of unwillingness to stand personally behind the claims being made. (There may be a person inside this Darwinbot who yet realizes that he is not in complete control of some of the tripe his keyboard is being caused to regurgitate.)

I will say, however, that this particular AD hit came without the abuse and obscenities that is more frequent among Darwinbots. I'm grateful for that. As bad as ADs are, they're nothing compared to an Obscene AD.

#3 The real reason, though, that I felt compelled to delete most of what was written in this comment is that this AD was also a steamroller (thus, an SAD). In written "argumentation," a steamroller is one who overwhelms the discussion with misinformation, not making one or two well-supported, significant points, but swamping the thread with so many unfounded assertions that it would take weeks to address each one. Were I to leave such a comment uncensured, there would be some readers who might wrongly believe that some of these claims cannot be refuted. In oral conversation, one must warn a steamroller and then , if he continues, silence him. When someone tries to steamroll your blog, you silence him by removing his posts.

In the next post, I'll begin to address the four claims in the brief section of SAD misinformation that I quoted above. These are...

Evolution has been rigorously tested and validated.
The fossil record supports evolution.
Genetics demonstrates that evolution is true.
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria demonstrates evolution.


Anonymous said...

Your whole post was Ad Hominem. Hopefully you actually may real points in the next post.

Mike Caba said...

Dear AD:

The post by Rick was not structured as an argument, but instead was simply an explanation. Accordingly, it doesn’t suffer from the Ad Hominem fallacy, nor can it.

Ben Hanes said...

I think the Darwinbot had their circuits mixed up. They were unable to compute and tell the difference between what an argument is and what explanation is.