The Wisdom of Crowds: The idea that multiple opposing viewpoints working in concert will create a work more accurate than that created by any single individual.
And there you have my reason for arguing with everything.
Who Am I?
I like to think. I don't like when things don't make sense. Genetics/God/The Flying Spaghetti Monster (take your pick...doesn't matter to me) gave me a brain, and I intend to use it. I tolerate lots of things...all I ask is that you tolerate me. I will go ahead and say that, although tolerant, my tolerance for scientific errors is a little on the low side. Truth may be subjective...science isn't.
PS. I'm also very fond of user boxes...they are colorful and entertain me.
What do I do?
By training and by fascination, I'm an ecological and evolutionary biologist in pursuit of my Ph.D. So naturally, the areas in which I can speak with the most authority are those involving ecology and evolution. I can be very opinionated about some aspects of eco/evo, but I try always to deliniate my opinions from the scientific facts. I make a lot of claims, which means I'm wrong a lot, and which also means that I've learned to admit that. I'm more than open to debate on anything, but be warned again that I don't accept "he said/she said" as a valid scientific argument. It's an appeal to misplaced authority, when we should be appealing to science. But let me clarify that a little bit: I'll reject an argument along these line..."This is true because Richard Dawkins says so." I won't outright reject this: "Richard Dawkins said this, and it is true because of this evidence." See the difference?
I consider myself a fairly rigorous scientist. In other words, I never accept anything without question, which also means I'm primed to defend my views. Also beware that I attack ideas for their scientific merit, regardless of source. That means that I'll attack the scientific establishment for their line of reasoning, even if I agree with the final conclusion. I respect the right of anyone to debate with me, though I hope they might keep in mind that when it comes to evolution and ecology, I've spent years studying it. Be prepared to learn the things you weren't taught in school.
With that in mind, I also consider myself an educator, not least of all because it is my responsibility to spread what I've learned. I also believe that critical thinking is a critical skill, and how I teach reflects that. There is no such thing as a yes or no question for me, and my answers reflect that. Furthermore, I think that over-simplification is one of the prime reasons for the frighteningly low level of public "support" for evolution, and my lengthy articles reflect that.
My pet peeves
The following are likely to send me flying into a rage:
- Blatant misuse of statistics. I've studied and used statistics for years, and I still have to think a lot when I use them. I try to avoid them when I can, because they're a weak argumentative tool, at best.
- Logical fallacies. Anytime I see hypocrisy, circular arguments, or especially misplaced appeals to authority (the Bible is a spritual authority, not a scientific one), I lose it.
- An accusation of logical fallacy as rebuttal of an otherwise logical argument. Dismissing an idea because of a percieved logical fallacy in defense of the idea is, in itself, a fallacy. Moreover, it's a very cunning and deceitful way of avoiding the argument itself.
- Ad hominem attacks. These make me even more rage-ful than other logical fallacies, because they're basically misplaced authority 2.0. An argument should be rejected because of its merit, not who made it (P.S. this goes for the scientific establishment, as well...ID should not be rejected simply because of its religious genesis; it should be rejected because it's bad and dangerous science)
- Using misconceptions of evolution to debunk evolution. That just goes without saying, though I try to correct these erroneous ideas when I find them.
- I hate fall foliage.
Thinker's amazing collection of science fails
Below is my collection of science fails...users should feel free to suggest some on my talk page or even add them here (because I'm not so good at the formatting stuff). A lot of these reflect the WIGO:CP, as well.
- This is one of my favorites, not least because I had no small part in the fun that came afterwards
- This joy of a site is always fun.
- Michael Behe's Edge of Evolution cost me at least three years of my life.
- utter stupidity
- need I say more?
- you know what, while we're at it...
Thinker's to-do list
This is mainly for me, but if other users would like my input on articles, feel free to add stuff (p.s. I try to limit it to biology). Most of these are stuff I noticed and wanted to write down for when I have time.
- Ernst Haeckel...be sure to mention the drawings controversy
- punctuated equilibrium (and emphasize that it's a modification of evolution by natural selection, not a new theory)
- Linus Pauling if I get bored...maybe just redirect to WP
- RNA and DNA can probably be put under one article: nucleic acids
- consciousness and evolution
- Beethoven...c'mon, he's your hero
My new blog! Yay for more ways to waste time! http://thediscontinuousmind.blogspot.com/