Talk:Evolutionist

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Thanks, Bob! One I was hoping to create this weekend struck off my personal list. MyaR 16:34, 22 June 2007 (CDT)

Happy to help. .-)--Bob_M (talk) 01:37, 23 June 2007 (CDT)

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[edit] Merge with darwinism?

Should it? It's not strictly the same thing as "darwinism" is (sometimes) used synonymously with "evolution by natural selection" but they're both terms used to trick people into thinking evolution is a world view. Either that or can it just expand so that evolutionist is the article covering the use of them as perjoratives? Armondikov 09:47, 18 September 2008 (EDT)

Ah, I see I've made this point before... Scarlet A.pngmoral 12:35, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

[edit] Can't this term be used entirely neutrally, i.e. not as a slur?

e.g. "Many creationists believe the universe is only 6000 years old, while evolutionists generally believe it is around 13 billion years old". That is not a slur against anyone, it is just a neutral account of the difference between two different beliefs, without casting judgement on which if either is correct. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 01:23, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

In theory, yes, but in practice it is used almost exclusively by creationists as a way of insulting and dismissing another person. <aybe it will become like fag is in some circles where it is hijacked and turned into a positive term by the people it refers to, but I don't think that is likely because there is a lot of resentment for the term. Klaus Vos (talk) 01:25, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, can you rephrase that sentence with a neutral preferred term? e.g. fag is a slur, but alternatives such as homosexual or same-sex are accepted by both sides of the debate as reasonably neutral terms (I know some gay people don't like homosexual, because they feel it is medicalising, but while maybe not a term both sides are 100% happy with, it is as close to neutral we can get). Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 01:32, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Calling someone an evolutionist does not carry anywhere near the amount of social or emotional weight attached to various descriptions of gaiety. Bringing "fag" into it misses the point. Nor is it a matter of a "neutral account of the difference between two different beliefs." Creationism is a belief based on a made-up story. Accepting the evidence, the overwhelming consistent enormous variety of evidence for evolution, is not a belief, but a reasonable view.
"Evolutionist" or "evolutionism" are only slurs in the minds of creationists, who use them as political labels for their opposition. When someone uses those words with what looks like serious intent, it outs them as a creationist or a concern troll. People who accept the evidence for evolution do not call themselves evolutionists, but "reasonable people" or "scientists." Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 03:40, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
I think it is useful to have terminology that can be used to neutrally describe debates, without presuming in the choice of terminology that one side is right and the other is wrong. I think neutral terminology is useful to have, even if you have made up your mind for one side or the other. When people try to insist there is no terminology acceptable to them that the other side would be willing to accept, we have a problem in human discourse. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 03:42, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
You are just discovering that this is a problematic topic in human discourse? Creationists and reasonable people seem to be largely disjoint sets. I see no problem with the accuracy of that description. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 03:53, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, then I will continue to use the term evolutionist. It seems to me to be fair and neutral, and those who disagree with its use appear to be unwilling or unable to provide a fair/neutral alternative, ie. an alternative which does not presume the truth of their own position and the falsehood of their opponents. Both evolutionism and creationism are fair and neutral descriptors of those respective viewpoints. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 03:58, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Observed facts are not really subject to debate, as much as you might like them to be. How is "creationism" and "science" not an acceptable, neutral description? Seems to capture the orthogonal nature of the two views nicely. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:06, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
You keep on wanting to make the discussion about which side is right. I simply say, that regardless of which if either side is right, we should have terminology to describe each side which is fair and neutral (i.e. does not assume one side is right and the other wrong). Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 04:15, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Does this have any bearing on the wiki? Personally, I don't really care if you call "evolutionists" "big stupid doo doo heads." But RW has SPOV, and we're not required to use "neutral" terms on the wiki itself. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 04:18, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

The article says, is a common anti-science slur typically used by moronic proponents of pseudosciences, creationism and intelligent design. That is false. Sure, some people maybe use it that way, but I don't. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 04:21, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Maratrean, may I suggest that you have no idea of what I want? How does "creationism" and "science" imply right or wrong, especially when cast as orthogonal views, in the sense of orthogonal vectors being indescribable in terms of each other? Orthogonality implies that it is senseless to try and project the one onto the other, which seems an apt metaphor here. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:22, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Because that terminology is based on the assumption that creationism is incompatible with science, which is an assumption most creationists reject. A neutral terminology would not assume any assumptions not accepted by both sides. Evolutionism vs. Creationism meets that criteria of neutrality, it does not assume either side's position is correct. "Creationism is wrong, evolutionism is right" remains a perfectly valid statement. You may see no value in neutral terminology, but I do. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 04:26, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
...which is an assumption most creationists reject. When nuts reject reality, one does not try to be neutral by calling the sane population "realists." This applies in the creationists' case, as not only do they refuse to allow for enough divine intervention to explain a tenth part of the evidence given the young-earth conditions they posit, but they have categorically rejected any evidence falsifying their world-view. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 22:17, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
"some people maybe use it that way, but I don't." Go ahead and use it that way. You will look like a creationist. Are you? Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:25, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm neither/both. I combine elements of both Evolutionism and Creationism into my position. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 04:27, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Your position being a made up religion invented so you can always be right? Aceof SpadesSilverbrain.png 04:28, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
My position is complex. One way of explaining it: I tend to see evolution as a useful myth. This is in contrast to evolutionists, who tend to view it as literally true rather than a myth, and creationists, who tend to view it as a pernicious/harmful myth rather than a useful one. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 04:31, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Your position is not complex - its lame, stupid and irritating. Like genital warts. Aceof SpadesSilverbrain.png 04:32, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec)Here's the Wikipedia entry for it. A Google search turns up mostly creationist sites or attempts by "evolutionists" to re-appropriate the term. It's similar to "warmist," which was originally value-neutral and now means "Soros-backed perpetrator of the global warming hoax." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 04:34, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Call it "neutral" all you like, "evolutionist" is a political term manufactured by creationists to paint their opposition in the light of "just another belief." You seem to like casting yourself as a solitary voice with a complex tale to tell, although you have a pretty fair mastery of the common tongue we all seem to share. Might as well use words according to their commonly accepted denotation and connnotation. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:36, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually the WP article is much better than this one. It makes clear there is nothing inherently pejorative about the term. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 04:38, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Propaganda need not be overtly pejorative to have the desired effect. Politically shaded "description" is still not neutral. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:44, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't think "evolutionism" is politically shaded. Something like "evilutionism" or "ape-ism" or "bible-is-a-lie-ism", now that would be politically shaded. Tell me, what politics am I advocating here exactly? Actually, I was thinking, to coin some neologisms, a major (but not the whole of) the difference between the YECist and mainstream evolutionist worldviews, is the difference between a bathochronic and abathochronic viewpoint, i.e. time is deep vs. time is shallow. Another major aspect is the difference between gradual and abrupt development. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 05:14, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
"Evolutionist" implies belief in evolution in the same fashion that one would believe in God or whatever. It is an attempt to define someone as part of an opposing cult.--"Shut up, Brx." 13:20, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A geologist whose work I respect has said that a difficulty of discussing evolution with those lacking scientific education is that they typically do not get the concept of deep time. I like bathochronic. Is that your own coinage?

Not wishing to seem peremptory or dismissive, I still hold that using words according to their commonly accepted senses is most useful in discussion. It doesn't much matter what you think about the meaning and shading of "evolutionist." See the WP article for a description of how the Institute for Creation Research now "commonly uses the words evolutionism and evolutionist to describe the consensus of mainstream science and the scientists subscribing to it, thus implying through language that the issue is a matter of religious belief." There are no more "evolutionists" among biologists than there are "round-earthers" or "heliocentrists" among astronomers, "Einsteinians" among physicists, or "antiphlogistonists" among chemists.

Someone using the word "evolutionist" is "advocating the politics" of teaching the controversy. From WP, we have "there is no scientific controversy regarding the validity of evolution and [...] the controversy exists solely in terms of religion and politics." Once more, with feeling: "evolutionist" is a term coined with political intent, and cannot be used in a neutral unslanted manner. You may proclaim your neutral view of it all you like, it is still seen as a verbal tool of dissimulation. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 13:27, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I coined bathochronic... I will respond to your other points later, I need to get some sleep... Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 13:37, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

[edit] Who calls themselves "evolutionists"?

Tl/dr. Are there common examples of people not using it as a slur? B♭maj7 “We are moving too fast for any label to stick.”-CLRJ 14:06, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
It isn't really a slur, except in the minds of some creationists. It is more of a dogwhistle to divide "us" from "them," and a way to persuade the rubes that there is validity to both sides of the question. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:11, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Allow me to rephrase the question: are there common examples of people who study/understand evolution applying it to themselves? B♭maj7 “We are moving too fast for any label to stick.”-CLRJ 14:41, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Be very surprising to find any such. Call that a big old Nope coming from my end of the tubes. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:01, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I think this may be a cultural thing. I think I've heard Richard Dawkins use the word quite naturally. Here for example. I suspect that this negative meaning is really a US thing.--BobSpring is sprung! 19:38, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Ah. The problem here is the merge with evolutionism - which most of the article seems to be speaking about.
A physicist studies physics. A pianist plays the piano. A specialist has special knowledge about something. An evolutionist studies evolution.
However a deist believes in God. An atheist does not. A Buddhist believes something special about Buddha.
So "...ist" can mean either some kind of specialist or it can mean a belief system. Thus "evolutionist" can be twisted by some and used naturally by others.
"Evolutionism" is different though - and this is what this article is mostly about. --BobSpring is sprung! 20:01, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmm. Dawkins may have used it quite naturally somewhere else, but in that linked article the word definitely appears in a context of "opposition to creationism" rather than neutral description of science's practitioners. I remain unconvinced. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 12:41, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
OK, so here he uses it again.
I don't see the problem. If you study physics you are a physicist. If you study microbiology you are a microbiologist. If you study the brain you (might be) a neurologist. And so on for just about every science and speciality. If you study evolution what is the logical term for you?--BobSpring is sprung! 13:13, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Taxonomist, geneticist, paleontologist, microbiologist, embryologist, and so on... Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 13:22, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
OK Dawkins uses "evolutionist" 14 times in "The God Delusion". Here is one example:
  • The genes for making them have probably been 'copied and pasted' from other bacteria: something that bacteria are remarkably adept at doing, and a fascinating topic in its own right, but I must press on.
  • (new para) The protein molecules that form the structure of the TTSS are very similar to components of the flagellar motor. To the evolutionist it is clear that TTSS components were commandeered for a new, but not wholly unrelated, function when the flagellar motor evolved.
Here he is obviously referring to an "evolutionist" a type of investigating scientist. In any event there is self-evidently no negative connotation. You can either accept that Dawkins uses the word in a non-negative way or go for no true Scotsman.--BobSpring is sprung! 15:06, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
We may be sniffing at a red herring here. I just changed the "slur" in the article's first sentence to "label," since the negative connotations of "evolutionist" are in the minds of the beholders, the rubes in the audience who need to be given an easy way to see evolution as shaky. Dawkins does not use it in a negative way in that instance, but he definitely does use it to distinguish evolution's adherents from its opponents. I believe Dawkins, as an accomplished propagandist, knows exactly what he is doing with his words.
I do not mean "propagandist" in any pejorative sense there. Empirical science needs better propagandists if it is to flourish. Unfortunately, the sorts of people who accept common-sense empirical notions are often the sorts who do not wish to dirty their hands with PR matters, which they see as slightly unethical. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:29, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I made the point above that "...ist" can be used to refer to "professional investigator or expert" and it can also be used to mean "believer in a particular world-view or religion". Obviously the anti-science side will want to twist it to the latter usage - perhaps particularly in the US.
Dawkins has been using it quite naturally as a positive synonym for "evolutionary biologist" for quite some time. I find in "The Ancestor's Tale" nine times with this example from the prologue:
  • Evolutionists can be said to 'triangulate' an ancestor by comparing two (or more) of its surviving descendants. I shall take the three kinds of evidence in order, beginning with hard relics and, in particular, fossils.
I don't get the feeling that he is trying to make any "propagandist" point here as this particular book was simply a description of evolutionary process. In this case he certainly seems to be using the word in a neutral manner to describe what he and other evolutionists do.
I see a note in the discussion above suggesting that:
  • "When someone uses those words with what looks like serious intent, it outs them as a creationist or a concern troll. People who accept the evidence for evolution do not call themselves evolutionists, but "reasonable people" or "scientists."
Presumably my Dawkins quotes show that to not be the case.--BobSpring is sprung! 17:15, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Dawkins is one outlier. Got any other examples? Bob, I know you are fond of framing your arguments as dichotomies, but when dealing with human linguistics, one is unlikely to find crystalline black/white distinctions. Even if the bulk of the English-speaking world uses the word "porridge" to mean, well, porridge, there may be one unfortunate soul who had a bad experience with the stuff in their school days, and so uses it to mean "nausea." This does not invalidate the majority usage.
I will stand by saying that when one sees the word "evolutionist" appear spontaneously in the wild, in the vast majority of cases it outs the writer (or speaker) as a creationist, often as a creationist concern troll. The propagandesque usage of the word is documented in the WP article's references. ... and yes, Dawkins is writing for a popular audience, so it is propaganda. White propaganda, but propaganda (for science!) all the same.
Look again at the utter lack of chemists described as antiphlogistonists. The variety of sciences in support of evolution is greater than most people realize. I believe most science today is practised under the rubric of "natural materialism." Do scientists describe themselves, or do writers about scentists describe them as "natural materialists?" No, they are more usually called "scientists" or something more specific, such as "biologists" or "molecular biologists."
There is a faint possibility, although I doubt it, that we have a UK/US vocabulary disconnect here, along the lines of "fanny." To a US speaker that refers to the gluteal anatomy common to both male and female humans. To a UK speaker, it refers to the second hole from the back of the female neck. __ Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:20, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
More examples - easy! Though I actually take back the US language suggestion. This is Stephen Jay Gould in Chapter two of "The Pattern of Life's History" talking about himself and Dawkins.
  • Long-term success in clades is the function of speciation rate, which has very little to do with the morphologies that are built by natural selection. So Richard's and my whole views of evolutionary mechanics are very different, but to the outsider, who may only be concerned with whether evolution happens or not, we probably seem to be pretty similar, because we are both evolutionists.
Again, the usage looks completely natural and unforced. And certainly not negative. He is simply talking about the thing thy both study.
Here is some more Gould from "wonderful life".
  • When evolutionists observe that several unrelated lineages react in the same way at the same time, they usually assume that some force external to the genetics of organisms has provoked the common response (for the genetic systems are too unlike, and a similar push from outside seems the only plausible common cause).
That's probably the two best-known writers on the subject from both sides of the Atlantic using the word quite naturally. (I can give a lot more Gould examples if you want them.)
I think it's really an issue of equivocation though.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying that I am fond "fond of framing your arguments as dichotomies" - but it might be better to explore that as another time so as not to derail this point with personal comments.--BobSpring is sprung! 19:35, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Gould's book on the Burgess Shale is one I enjoy leafing through. The only books of his that I have read are popular presentations, and hence propaganda (propaganda for the side which I favor, I haste to add.) The key in that Pattern of Life's History quote is "So Richard's and my whole views of evolutionary mechanics are very different, but to the outsider, who may only be concerned with whether evolution happens or not, we probably seem to be pretty similar, because we are both evolutionists." It could hardly be more obvious that he is describing creationists' use of a loaded word.
A recent dichotomy was "You can either accept that Dawkins uses the word in a non-negative way or go for no true Scotsman." Those are not our only choices. May I patiently repeat that "non-negative" is really beside the point here? The point is that modern uses of "evolutionist" occur largely in contexts of adversariality, where the sides are painted as valiantly battling for one ideology or the other. I think it is safe to say that most scientists investigating the myriad facets of evolution have scant energy available for any such imaginary battle. They have a hard enough time figuring out how things actually work, without explaining themselves to agenda-driven Bible-thumping peddlers of social control. __ Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
OK. More Gould then from "Wonderfull Life". (1) The model of the grabbag is a taxonomist's nightmare and an evolutionist s delight. (2) When evolutionists observe that several unrelated lineages react in the same way at the same time, they usually assume that some force external to the genetics of organisms has provoked the common response ... (3) But in Walcott's generation, particularly for a man of conspicuous success and strong traditionalist inclinations, Darwin's allegiance to progress as life's pathway became the centerpiece of an evolutionist's credo. (4) from "Pattern of Life's History" Let's take these three ideas: progress, gradualism, adaptation. I don't offhand know any evolutionist who's ever put them together that way.
It's obvious that he uses the word to talk about what evolutionists do and is not contrasting it to creationists. He is also obviously not a creationist troll. He is obviously not using the words in a negative way. And even if he were using it to contrast his beliefs with those of creationists (which he isn't) - so what? It's still an evolutionist using the word to describe what he does and is not a creationist troll.
Another one. This is Niles Eldredge's homepage. He calls himself an evolutionist.
I'm not quite sure how many more examples you want of famous evolutionists calling themselves evolutionists.--BobSpring is sprung! 20:26, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Do you seriously think Niles Eldredge is not thumbing his nose at creationists with his proud claim? Too bad Gould is no longer around to ask what was going through his head each time he wrote "evolutionist." As a colleague of Eldredge's I would not be surprised if there was an element of "owning the enemy's language, and so defusing it" in his writing. Not so blatantly thumb-to-the-nose, but still carefully chosen words from a world-class author. The man seems to have been a genius and polymath, and very likely could write focussed richly meaningful prose, both expository and persuasive at the same time, in his sleep. You think he didn't have a twinkle in his eye as he used that word?
We now have a few counter-examples. I previously said it would be surpising to find them, and you may now colour me surprised. The question is not how many more do we need, but how do we assess the prevalence of the use of "evolutionist" as simple neutral description, free from any taint of adversarial connotation, in comparison to the undisputable prevalence of its documented use as a disingenuous label for nefarious rhetorical purposes. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, the point which I understand you were defending was:
  • I will stand by saying that when one sees the word "evolutionist" appear spontaneously in the wild, in the vast majority of cases it outs the writer (or speaker) as a creationist, often as a creationist concern troll.
We have now seen Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Niles Eldredge and here is no less a creationist concern troll than P Z Myers using it. I would suggest that that makes a quartet of the four best-known evolutionists in the world.
You maintain (I think) that every single one of the times the word is used by the famous four then it is the result of deliberate anti-creationist propaganda. I disagree, but even if it true, surely it shows the the use of the word is not limited to creationist trolls and is not inherently negative.
My personal interpretation, as I mentioned above, is that it is a case of equivocation. Dawkins and Gould seem to be using it to mean "someone who studies evolution". I'm not sure about Eldridge - as he is your colleague you might be well placed to ask him - but I wouldn't be surprised if Myers is using it as you suggest. Meanwhile the creationists are using it to suggest that "evolutionist" is a member of religious group along the same lines as "Scientology" or "Buddhist".--BobSpring is sprung! 09:53, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I seem to have committed the (pardonable, I hope) sin of unintentional ambiguous writing. I am not a colleague of Eldredge's; Gould obviously was. Anyone who sees the placement of the word on Eldredge's front page will hardly be able to claim with a straight face that it is not a poke at creationists.

I maintain that most of the times this word is seen in the wild, that is on fora and blog comments and wiki talk pages (would anyone actually use it in a pub? certainly not in the ones I sometimes inhabit) it carries the whiff of the contention between creationists and those who think creationists are idiots (acknowledging that there may be those who take a milder view in their disagreements with Biblical literalists and others of that stripe.) "In the wild" does not include published Herculean figures such as Gould and his ilk, it means language coming from you or me or a random poster from southeast Australia. The key is "with what looks like serious intent." Eldredge and Myers are most likely aware of how the word is used to try and sway mass opinion, and it is a reasonable bet that Dawkins knows which side that bread is buttered, as did Gould. Using the word with a twinkle in the eye is not "serious intent."

It is not an all or nothing game. Consider the frame implied by "Either Gould and Dawkins have the purest of innocent neutral descriptive meaning to attach to their every single use of the word, or they are constantly aiming it as a snidely chosen dart at their foes." That frame may be useful to an academic debater, but it does not help us to arrive at an understanding of the anthropology, the distribution of demographics and semiotics, if you will, of how this loaded word is actually used.

The question still remains unanswered: Do we have a reliable, preferably not anecdotal, way to assess the prevalence of the word's use with intent, in comparison with its use as simple naive description? Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 11:39, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Well I've given multiple examples of it being used by non-trolls in a positive way. Frankly, I've got no more to say on the matter.
OK, I do have one last comment. The fact that I seem to be making the same point as Maratrean does not necessarily mean that we are coming at this from the same direction. That may be just a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day. (And I'm ticking along quite well.)--BobSpring is sprung! 12:19, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Bob, your contributions here are valued, by myself and I'm pretty sure by others as well. That's all I've got to say about that. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 12:24, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
The problem with the term 'evolutionist' is that it is a catch-all phrase used by creationists for someone who isn't a biblical literalist. As a geologist I am satisfied that the Earth is about 4.5 bn years old; the theory of evolution is largely irrelevant to that although it does provide corroboration. However, creatards brand anyone who believes in an old Earth/universe as evolutionists, be they geologist, biologist or astrophysicist. Someone, as in the Dawkins quote, may describe themselves as an evolutionist when discussing the fossil record and diversity of species but in general it's a creationist snarl word. Redchuck.gif ГенгисpillagingModerator 13:12, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I think the modern scientific worldview has a couple of distinguishing features - one is what I call bathochronicism, i.e. belief the universe is very old (millions or billions of years old, not thousands of years old). Another is preferring gradualism to abruptism (e.g. life slowly developed over time, from simpler to more complex forms, rather than the complex forms abruptly appearing ex nihilo). So, I think it is useful to have a word or phrase which describes this common vein that runs through astrophysics, geology, biology, and other fields, and some have focused on evolutionism, although arguably that term is only correctly applied to the biological sciences. Maybe gradualist bathochronicism, or bathochronic gradualism, would be better terms for this common element. I suppose, by contrast, I prefer abathochronic abruptism. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 06:52, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Before coining neologisms, it makes sense to look around and see if an equivalent term is in use. I believe "uniformitarian" or "uniformitarianism" is applicable here. Like "evolutionism" it is a red flag. Those who use the word tend to have an anti-science agenda. On the abrupt side, there is punctuated equilibrium, but that does not imply organisms springing full-blown from the brow of any deity, it merely says catastrophes happen, after which everything is more or less different.
Coining neologisms is itself a red flag, often signifying that the coiner is a crank who is either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the usual terms used to describe their hobby. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 11:44, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
If no one ever coined a neologism, our language would be so much poorer than it is today. In fact, scientists coin neologisms at a far higher rate than any other discipline or group of people.
Being constantly on the lookout for "red flags" which reveal "cranks" or "anti-science agendas" is rather paranoid. There's a red under every bed. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 09:17, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

[edit] Teaching the Controversy

Back to what Cogswell stated, about "teaching the controversy". I support "teaching the controversy", but I don't support the Teach the Controversy campaign, because I feel it misrepresents the nature of the real controversy. That campaign wants to present the controversy as a scientific controversy, when I don't think there is a real scientific controversy here. There is no doubt that evolution is the best scientific theory, for certain values of "scientific". But, while I don't believe there is a intra-scientific controversy, I do believe there is an extra-scientific controversy, a meta-scientific controversy, a philosophical controversy. Is reality fundamentally something which exists independently of minds (materialism)? Or is reality something which solely exists within and among minds (idealism)? If the later is true, then all claims about distant times and places, unlikely to be observed by any mind, are doubtful, and that thus includes evolution's claims. So, idealism implies that evolution is doubtful. But while, if we choose to adopt it as a worldview, it makes us question the literal truth of evolution, it has no problem with accepting evolution as a useful myth. So I accept evolution as a useful myth, but I doubt that it is literally true. To me, evolution is scientifically, mythically, true, even while it may be literally/ultimately/metaphysically false. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:24, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Idealism my ass. We are undeniably constrained to apprehend reality with the senses and cognition our bodies provide, but that does not mean the underlying reality does not exist "without a mind to observe it." It simply means that we have no immediate, privileged access to most features of reality, and must use our available tools to come at the likeliest description of it. Stick the tines of a bent fork into the end of a kettle lead and see what your mind comes up with.
It looks like you are trying to peddle your half-baked philosophy here in RationalWiki of all places, using techniques of a concern troll: "Here, I have some questions about neutrality; don't you agree it would be better if we present both sides with equal weight?" Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 12:41, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Sprocket, pay no attention to him; his arguing style is nothing more than recycled material from a freshman intro-to-concepts-in-philosophy textbook mixed up with some half-baked mysticism. Not worth the trouble. B♭maj7 “We are moving too fast for any label to stick.”-CLRJ 13:58, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I recognize that. Sometimes I don't mind having a troll for dinner. This discussion has given me some exposure to the Maratrean's notions, without my having to plod through his other screeds. I haven't invented a religion involving bats since I was about six or seven, and can't be bothered to wade through his puerile dogma elsewhere. Sprocket J Cogswell Talk to Sprocket 14:12, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Mara - the point isn't that one *could* see the world totally differently. Hell, IT's not only possible, it's likely that I see the color "green" in the same way you see the color "red", and we'd never know it. but that's irrelevant to anything that students need to learn. Science says a wavelength is a measurable, definable thing, and that green is "x" wavelength. Sure, it's possible that all of science is just fucked and reality is really the reality of Descartes and his evil genius, but what does that get you? a box with you and your thoughts, no computers, no medicine, no staplers, nothing useful. The reason that science does not have a "controversy" with philo, as you seem to want to insert in every discussion of science, is that science works. Philo? and the idea that "maybe our reality isn't real" is just a mental masturbation. fun now and then, but if i've got a killer headache, saying "maybe this isn't real" doesn't do nearly as good as grabbing an aspirin.Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 16:04, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Oh, the cog signature is out. He means business. ADK...I'll assassinate your blanket! 16:13, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
(ec lol)The misconception that "green is a wavelength λ" is an excellent entry point to the study of how the mind actually does operate. Much work has been done discovering how people all over the world handle color descriptions. There is such a thing as "focal red" which is the mixture of wavelengths that most people with normal vision are most likely to call "red." Much philosophical wankery is possible when one is unfamiliar with the body of prior art. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:18, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Cogswell, you are obviously a convinced materialist; but evidence do you actually have that materialism is true and idealism is false? I will suggest that there is none, not only is there no evidence available, but there is no evidence possibly available either. So we have a real philosophical controversy. As to Godot, you are talking about sceptical scenarios where the ultimate material reality is very different from the apparent one, and we have no way of knowing that; by contrast, I deny that any material reality exists, at least in the sense you think it does. But at the same time, I can accept scientific theories about light and colour and all sorts of other things, I just give them different metaphysical interpretations. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 09:53, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Bullshit. I am not a convinced anything, and tracking the details of my thirsty agnosticism is not something I offer for public display. I do favor empirical methods, and suggest that you keep a copy of Lakoff and Johnson's Philoshophy in the Flesh under the pillow where you rest your sleepy head. It certainly is no fun to read, and would be the death of a largish animal if dropped from a great height. There is where you might begin to find a middle ground between materialism and idealism. The cognitive scientists set out to make sure their assumptions did not determine their findings, and have catalogued a superabundant wealth of actual data. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 11:49, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
You seem to think the materialism-vs-idealism debate can be settled by empirical means, but I don't agree. Whatever empirical evidence is presented, can be explained equally well by both views, they just interpret that evidence differently. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 06:53, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
You seem to think that a priori tale-spinning and other armchair wankery can arrive at a valid conclusion. With unexamined assumptions and unacknowledged metaphorical thought processes, most such "philosophers" predetermine their outcome without even realising it. I actually do think that without a detailed understanding of how the mind works, the materialism-vs-idealism debate has negative utility is a waste of time. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 11:53, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Troll steriletalk 23:34, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
The language of science is instrumental - perform experiment/observation X, do you get results Y? That instrumental language can be given both materialist and idealist interpretations. As such, science cannot be used to decide between the two, since any possible scientific theory or result can be interpreted in accordance with either philosophical assumption. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 09:22, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
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