Home > All, Lying For Jesus, Religion, Science, Skepticism > David Berlinski, Stick To What You Know

David Berlinski, Stick To What You Know

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.

  1. youtubeskeptic
    Sunday May 18, 2008 at 1:44 PM

    I think for the most part his writing about math trustworthy since he can’t bring God into it. I didn’t bother to make the point that at the beginning of the video he says he blows out of the water that ID proponents are fundamental Christians cause he is neither-well o.k,you’re Jewish,not Christian.

    I got my first uneducated hate comment. “your gay”.The gay belongs to me? I don’t understand.Haha

    Sunday May 18, 2008 at 7:11 PM

    I read Berlinski’s article in COMMENTARY, “The God of
    the Gaps”…

    (for full text)

    …on , ironically, the very night of my Easter– the
    most important day of my religion, for it is then that
    Jesus is believed by us to have proven that HE indeed
    is the Son of God; and so we utter in greeting each
    other: “Christ has arisen”; to which we respond: “He
    truly has arisen.” Unfortunately, our theologians
    could neither get together on the date of Easter,
    except once every few years, for our fellow
    Christians, nor on the date of Passover for our fellow
    Jews. Thus, it is here, in what is the key method of
    science, MEASUREMENT, that there is a Biblical flaw in
    our faith– MEASUREMENT…the stuff Berlinski’s bank
    account is made of.

    Berlinski is not only arguing for doubt in Darwinian
    evolution, but he is also INSISTING on the certainty
    of GOD in man’s image (the true logical sequence, for
    we all have seen man but few if any saw God). In doing
    so– to this believer– he reads and sounds like an
    adolescent sophist on a Baptist high school debating
    team (or is it Regents University?) as he bases his
    case on snip and cut quotes from defensive and angry
    scientists and singles out for his rage fellow
    adolescent sophist Christopher [what a nice Christian
    name] Hitchens. The latter has been the darling of the
    neocons and their ideological “World War IV” in the
    Middle East, but I guess not for Berlinski, the man of
    God in man’s image ideology…or is he also a neocon?

    Alas, at his best, Berlinski only reiterates the need
    for philosophical supervision of science….and,
    presumably of mathematics, applied or contrived, to
    which I say AMEN, bravo! Here, here– yes indeed,
    evolution NEEDS very much philosophical supervision–
    alas, here Berlinski can quote no contrarians for none
    exist among scientists. And most certainly, as a
    neurobiologist myself, ALL BRAIN SCIENCE DATA needs
    severe philosophical scrutiny. For that God gave us
    Gerald Edelman and many, many other older sages of
    science who no longer litter the libraries with data
    but philosophically extract ideas from that of others.
    Yet, I urge Berlinski to heed the caution of
    neurophilosopher William Calvin and be weary of the
    “janitor’s dream” of fundamentals ridden particle
    physicists in the basement trying to conjure up what
    goes on in the penthouse of the brain where love, hate
    and ejaculation are enrapturing. No, Mr. Berlinski,
    nerves do not “twitch,” but they depolarize and
    conduct current. And what they do in assemblies we can
    barely mathematically model as theory rather than
    fact. Right now, evolution of the mind, like the Big
    Bang, is all models in search of falsification tests,
    much like the theory of eleven universes by a very
    attractive Harvard theoretical physicist, Lisa
    Randall. She may be a lot cuter than Darwin ever was,
    but offers no less a theory in search of falsification
    tests. Though science is really the inverse of a
    cancer test: you can’t be sure about cancer until a
    test comes out positive and about science except when
    an experiment comes out negative, these are not
    dreamed up, as Berlinski would have us believe in
    ignorance. Since all these branches of science are
    incomplete works in progress, should we settle for
    “God” as a totem blocking their path to adventurous
    scientific investigation?

    Berlinski’s vague amorphous God cloud substituting for
    science is the Old and New Testaments as FACT. That
    may be fine for the neocon materialists in their quest
    to “re-establish” Israel (meaning: “defier of God”) in
    Jerusalem as Zionist kings of the Middle East (what
    else could they ask for in their waining years now
    that Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin– the Three Who Made A
    Revolution of their youth are all dead?) but it fails
    to define a moral compass for mankind, given that the
    Bible makes us all look like nothing but circumcised
    apes vs. the uncircumcised apes.

    Neurobiology is a young and maturing experimental
    science, a term Berlinski failed to consider in his
    epiphany against it. Evolution is actually history
    helped with clues from genetics, another young
    experimental science. Decades from now genetics may be
    able to tell us what are the chances that Berlinski
    may go mad; but certainly now it cannot tell us if he
    is mad…Does that mean we should stop research into
    the neurobiology of madness and just leave him to
    clergy instead? We tried that for centuries and all we
    got were exorcises, Freud and Lewis!

    Berlinski’s COMMENTARY article is a fraud because it
    slanders as anti-God the very science that makes no
    pretensions of knowing anything about God. Yet
    Berlinski asserts God’s divine dominion and that we
    are made in His image as if he knows best because his
    revelation came to him upon eating mushrooms or
    something (he gives us no clue).

    Berlinski fails– nay, AVOIDS– answering the
    question: is there ONTOLOGY without ONTOGENY? No, Mr.
    Berlinski, no Amazonian Indian has, as far as I know,
    lived a full life in the jungle AND THEN moved on to
    Cambridge to write a learned and literate PhD thesis
    on civilization from bottom up and from top down. And,
    no closer has Berlinski come to a chimp than I to
    Jesus, so there’s little he can say with authority–
    other than Chomsky’s hypothesis based on “think
    experiments”– about the chimp’s non-verbal vs.
    Berlinski verbal type cognition. Again, BEING IS
    ACQUIRED through a neotony of prolonged maturation–
    there is no ontology without ontogeny– not
    necessarily a capriciously God given one for the
    circumcised but rather one acquired by nature-nurture
    interactions developing into intelligence.

    I can’t admire Blinks’s faith, given that it is a
    payed-per-word assault on Hitch en’s attempts to make
    a living selling books. Both come off looking like a
    not too interesting boxing match between two blind
    fighters. But I do resent the game the noons played
    ALLEGEDLY (???) on behalf of Israel, exploiting the
    so-called “Christian Zionists” whom the noons laugh at
    privately as “dumb gym.” The dumb noons don’t realize
    that the domestic agenda of these gos is a Christian–
    of their kind only– America that would eventually
    deny Blinks and his Nikon fellows citizenship unless
    they suddenly find Christ. In my old age I was
    planning to be a philosopher too like my beloved
    Edeline and Calvin, not to put myself at risk hiding
    Jews in my armories from the Hagee-ilk Inquisition.
    That’s why I find Berlinski and the neocons and their
    World War IV ideology so outrageous– as a scientist,
    as a Christian and as an American by choice, not

    I hope Berlinski’s faith in God eventually saves him
    from the high probability scourge of Alzheimer’s
    better than can our neuroscience to date. As for me, I
    still think God would rather I research the damned
    disease rather than just pray wishing that He not
    inflict it on me but on my pesky neighbor instead.

    Daniel E. Teodoru

  3. Saturday May 24, 2008 at 9:44 AM

    I read A Tour of the Calculous several years ago and I though it was pretty good. There was nothing about religion or creationism in it. I was also quite surprised to find out what an idiot Berlinski turned out to be. I also have his book on Newton which I haven’t read yet…

  4. Delorian
    Thursday February 19, 2009 at 4:58 PM

    David Berlinski is a Straussian Zionist. He apparently identifies as a secular Jew or “Judeo-agnostic” though he sides with the loony fringe of the Christian Evangelical right wing. As with Ben Stein, is Berlinski really a creationist or does he pull the act. Berlinski falls in the same category as Ben Stein, “Doctor” Laura Schlessinger, and Michael Medved. All of the aforementioned are Straussian Jews who would betray their own people for their own political ambitions.

    First off, lest you confuse something I post as anti-Semitism, please distinguish normal Jews and the more mainstream Zionist moderates from their treacherous brethren. I acknowledge that there are many Jews, secular and traditionalist, who are genuine and decent people. However, individuals like Stein, Berlinski, and Medved are no better than the Jewish capos who betrayed their own people from the ghettos to the death camps during the Holocaust. Such “Jews” (in name only) as Ben Stein and David Berlinski, to say nothing of Medved, Savage, or Schlessinger, are scum of the lowest caliber and they do not speak for Jews in general.

    To understand the ultra-Zionist mindset of many (though by no means all) Jewish neoconservatives, one must understand Leo Strauss. It was Strauss, an early 20th century Zionist belonging to the right-wing of the movement, who helped formulate the neoconservative ideology. Strauss was a classicist, who was dissilusioned with modern civilization, believing Fascism and Communism, the right and left wings of totalitarianism to be an inevitable consequence of the eventual decay of classical liberalism. He sought inspiration in such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli, particularly Plato’s “Noble Lie.” It is clear that Leo Strauss had a hatred for science, democracy, secularism, contemporary art and philosophy, republican statescraft, capitalism, socialism, and other byproducts of the Enlightenment. A reactionary to the core, Strauss believed that civilization must revert to a high-tech version of the Feudal Ages with an elite ruling over masses kept in ignorance. Though Strauss was a bonafide atheist, he hated cultural secularization, believing religion to be a useful TOOL for social control.

    All this makes me wonder whether Berlinski and Stein and others REALLY believe all their creationist/ID garbage, or if it is all a front. After all, ID is the “noble lie.” In true Straussian fashion Berlinski pretends at being an Evangelical Christian to lead the neocons’ Evangelical useful idiots as the Pied Piper lead the rats.

    For all of the populist trash these Straussian Zionists whip up, other than elitism-disguised-as-anti-elitism, appeals to racism and homophobia, and rampant anti-intellectialism, there does not appear to be anything harmful coming from them. However, the influence of the Jewish Straussians on Bible Belt Evangelicals should be cautiously monitored. Especially when they press the neoconservative coalition towards global wars.

  5. Tony
    Thursday February 25, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    It is only a post hoc if you assume that evolution is accurate forensic science. Your reasoning is tautological.

  6. Tony
    Thursday April 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    “How many logical fallacies are in in (sic) your reasoning process?”
    Answer. Zero.

    But here is a question for you: How many logical fallacies are in your blog post.
    But instead of just asking the question lets actually answer it by counting them.

    “Ad Hominem” meaning (against the man) or (against the person)
    You commit this fallacy when you call Berlinski a “creationist nute case”

    “Straw man”
    You commit this fallacy when you copy what was posted on Aaron’s blog.

    “Red Haring”
    You commit this fallacy by bringing up your straw man and ad hominem attacks. These attacks are not logical arguments against Berlinski’s claims.

    “Appeal to Ridicule”
    You commit this fallacy trough out your entire blog.

    1 2 3 4. 4 logical fallacies. (I can hear count Dracula laughing right now) “4 logical fallacies ah ah ah.”

    And not just that but Aarons story is not compelling. You are supposing the mathematical probabilities of evolution to be much higher then they actually are. They are much lower then Aarons story suggests.

    Lets imagine there has been a person who has won the lottery several times in a row. We would say this is quite unlikely at the very least. But what if we said this man word for the state in which this lottery was being held and he had been winning every lottery for the past 15 weeks. Every single person (with a critical thinking mind) who would hear of this man winning 15 lotteries in a row would immediately suspect that there was cheating involved. Every sing local news channel would report the story and it wouldn’t be long before the police got involved in the case.
    But I wonder if you would still be sitting at your computer, typing up your newest blog saying everyone is committing a classic post hoc logical fallacy. But of course we all know you would do that you are far to smart.

    Moreover David Berlinski is not just a brilliant mathematical but also an extremely brilliant Philosopher. So Berlinski has plenty of credibility when he speaks on such topics.

    • Thursday April 1, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      It seems we’ve got a Berlinski fan who’s willing to move the goalpost here. Now it isn’t winning the lottery… it’s winning the lottery 15 times? What are the odds that the exact molecules I inhale in the next breathe will be those exact molecules, and not different ones? Each molecule is a winning lottery ticket.

      Your definition of “straw man” is flawed. Copying and pasting is a form of replication, not a logical fallacy. Is typing also a logical fallacy? The “argument from pushing buttons?”

      And I’m not appealing to ridicule, I’m actually ridiculing. Those are different things altogether. Try harder next time.

    • Nate
      Thursday October 2, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      A bit late, but I encountered a pet peeve of mine:

      ““Ad Hominem” meaning (against the man) or (against the person)
      You commit this fallacy when you call Berlinski a “creationist nute case””

      Um… No. Calling someone a name is NOT an ad hominem. It is only an ad hominem IF, and ONLY IF, the personal attack (name calling) is used AS an argument against the person’s stated claims.

      In other words, if Berlinski claims that he ‘calculated’ 50,000 trait changes between whales and camels, this evolution is not true (he actually made this claim), and my total response is “Berlinski is a nut case, so he’s wrong”, you would have a point.

      But, if my response is “No evolutionary biology has ever claimed that whales evolved from camels. Berlinski’s claim is a strawman argument. What a nut case.” That is NOT an ad hominem.

      Get the difference, chief?

  7. John
    Tuesday March 29, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Your article is highly inaccurate.
    Far from being a creationist, Berlinski is in fact only a critic of Darwinian Theory, not propagating any standpoint himself on the origins of life. He in fact clearly states that (let alone Christian Creationism) he is not even committing to Intelligent Design firmly as a position.

    As for being Jewish, he is a secular Jew and self-proclaimed agnostic. Just because he is racially Jewish you should not imply this automatically gives him ANY serious theological or religious commitments as he does not have any. His views are purely based on Scientific evidence and lack thereof.
    Why would you instantly assume he is a creationist and be so profoundly incorrect? I can only assume you are trying to portray anyone who wants to ask questions about the validity of Darwin Theory in a very particular light, that of a religious ignorant fundamentalist.
    TheSkepticalAtheist, stick to what you know!

  8. Wednesday April 17, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    “My calculations show that the probability of you winning the lottery were astronomical so you don’t win – couldn’t have happened.”
    Here lies the flaw, assuming evolution is mere chance (which it isn’t). A very improbable is not yet not impossible. Simple

  1. Monday July 28, 2014 at 8:25 PM
    Pick 6 Leak Results

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