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David Berlinski, Stick To What You Know

Sunday May 18, 2008 11 comments

To start this post off, I’ll refer you to an excellent article by my good friend Aaron, the YouTube Skeptic. Watch the video. It’s really something. David Berlinski explains how, basically, evolution couldn’t have happened because the odds are against it happening. A textbook example of post hoc, illogical reasoning.

If any of you have checked out my “Books” section, you’ll have noticed that I’ve just started reading “A Tour Of The Calculus,” by David Berlinski. I’d actually purchased this book a few years ago. Didn’t really know who Berlinski was. This is strangely ironic, as I had just finished reading a book by another Creationist nutcase, out of my own choosing. And now, out of pure coincidence, I’ve found myself reading Berlinski!

I had no idea as to the degree of Berlinski’s ignorance, or willingness to be intellectually dishonest. Not only that, but Berlinski is apparently just good at math. He’s written a few books and articles, but has not really contributed anything to the mathematical community. Basically, he just knows how to do math.

Aaron makes a great analogy to Berlinski’s reasoning process as it concerns evolution:

I’ll draw a simple analogy to prove my point. If finding out how we got the diversity of life on earth as we now know it was winning the lottery; then genetics is the winning ticket. Genetics explains how things are related, how they change, how often they change, etc. So, with that in mind here is what Berlinski would like to do – You bought your lottery ticket, watched with anticipation to see if you won and you did! You go down to the lottery office to cash in your winnings, but there sits David Berlinski. Mr. Berlinski looks at your ticket and says, “That’s interesting, but let’s look at it purely from a mathematical stand point to find out if you won. My calculations show that the probability of you winning the lottery were astronomical so you don’t win – couldn’t have happened.

And that’s what we’re left with from this mathematical genius. Not, “Did it happen?” But, “Could it have happened?” Post hoc reasoning. Berlinski bases his belief in Creationism on the odds of something happening, not whether or not it did happen.

Evolution is not a math problem. So, Berlinski, stick to what you know! You’re not an evolutionary biologist. Here’s a mathematical problem for you: How many logical fallacies are in in your reasoning process?

In conclusion, I’m only part-way through this book, and have yet to be exposed to any Creationism nonsense. But, it’s still too soon to make any predictions. If I was going on the odds of it happening, I’m willing to bet that “A Tour Of The Calculus” will give me a tour of Jesus, or some crap like that. But, I’m only basing that on the odds of it happening, a hallmark of Berlinski’s logic. It’s important to be consistent, right?

On that note, read a book.