46 thoughts on “O noes! I iz primitiv filosofur

  1. Ask Pigliucci if he still believes wild turkeys can’t fly — one of his gaffs when he was just a one-type (Bio) PhD.

            1. Oops–wasn’t going far enough with “opposite.” (I.e., thinking the opposite was ‘wild turkeys can fly…’) My bad.

              Guess it’s hard to believe anyone would think domestic turkeys can do anything. 😀

  2. So, that means you have the right answer and you expressed it in a simple clear direct manner without the superfluous verbiage and obfuscation that philosophers typically use. Your philosophy is primitive but elegant.

    1. Um… so you’re a philosopher and you know how philosophers “typically” express themselves? Or are you a creationist and are just making things up to fit your preconceived opinions?

    2. Consider this sentence:

      “So that means you have the right answer and you expressed it in a simple clear direct manner without the superfluous verbiage and obfuscation that biologists typically use. Your creationist biology is primitive but elegant.”

    1. They’re not just uncalled for, they’re undignified — this very public sniping does not put Pigliucci in a great light.

  3. I opined on this before, but it’s my contention that most people conflate “sophisticated” with “unintelligible”.

    Dr Dr Dr Pigluicci appears to be among them.

  4. This line of disparagement sounds more and more like “you don’t understand the nuances of sophisticated theology” all the time.

  5. ‘Sophisticated’ has the modern meaning of:
    1) Having or appealing to those having worldly knowledge and refinement and savoir-faire
    2)Ahead in development; complex or intricate
    3)Intellectually appealing

    Whereas ‘Sophistry’ has the modern meaning of:
    1)A deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone

    In my sour opinion, too many philosophers (or theologians) think they are proposing complex or intricate ideas when they are merely displaying ingenuity of reasoning.

    At least with ‘primitive’ philosophy you can see the main threads of the argument without degenerating into exquisitely detailed arguments about the meaning of a single word.


    1. Is sophistry (sensu moderno) always deliberate? When someone fools themself with a clever but fallacious argument, is that not also sophistry?

      1. I think sophistry is generally deliberate (although I guess the reasons will vary).

        However there are plenty of people who get ‘carried away’ by their own cleverness – a better word for these might be deluded.

  6. I’m curious about MP’s move from biologist at Stony Brook to philosopher in the Bronx. Was it voluntary and amicable?

  7. Oh seriously? “Coyne is too clear and lucid for philosophy” is supposed to be an impressive argument? After all, it might well be that we are wrong and missing something (including myself here because I agree with JC)! We could just as well imagine a discussion between a creationist and an evolutionary biologist:

    Creo: If evolution is true, why are there no Fronkeys, half frog, half monkey?
    Evol: You are an ignoramus who does not know the first thing about evolution. Study biology for a few years, otherwise you are not entitled to an opinion.
    Creo: No, I am simply too clear and lucid to fall for your obfuscation.

    Is that convincing? No. But where did this imaginary discussion really go off the rails? Well, when the evolutionary biologist played the condescending argument from authority card instead of presenting any friggin’ argument whatsoever, instead of explaining why Fronkeys do not exist.

    And THAT is the problem here: Perhaps MP’s take is right, but arguments for his position are a complete no-show when he just snipes that you have to shut up because you are an ignoramus. Not that he considers the topic complicated, but that he never explains in which way it is, in fact, complicated.

    After all, the beginning of this kerfuffle was only JC’s claim that a philosophically consistent scientist should eschew superstition, to cite a recent reiteration, and while you can treat the use of the term philosophical by any non-philosopher as your berserk button, that does not seem like a particularly contentious claim that needs a good grounding in years of study of epistemology, logic and the history of science. It is, on its own, not even a claim that the supernatural does not exist. It is simply the equivalent of saying that a fire fighter should not go around firebombing random houses if he wants to be philosophically consistent with his chosen profession. Maybe (from some weird perspective) some houses need firebombing; maybe fire fighting is a misguided endeavour to start with; but you cannot consistently do both at a time. That’s all.

    1. I basically agree. Many comments here supporting Jerry seem to be of the “cheering from the choir” variety, which I find mostly to be distasteful ass-kissing. But such is the internet. I find Jerry’s position to attractive and MP’s definitions underlying his own position to be question-begging, but I’d prefer to see discussion/dissection of the merits/flaws of both sides rather than simple reiterations of the positions by some members of an unruly choir.

      1. I guess what bothers me — besides his flippant criticism of Dr. Coyne — is that Dr.^3 Pigliucci doesn’t share the benefits of his large brain and extreme education with the rest of us to explain what he thinks is a more philosphically sound approach. If he’s going to be a public spokesperson for his field(s), he needs to occasionally explain things to us lesser mortals.

        If he did, many of us might go, “Oh, now I understand better what you meant, and I think you’re probably right”, instead of the current chorus of “You rude bastardo!”

      1. Em… yes. That was my point – we should criticize him for not making his case instead of implying that all of modern philosophy is nothing more than obfuscating language.

      2. Yeah, I suppose Dr^3 MP’s jibe merits no serious response. But given that Jerry brought it up, it couldn’t hurt to provide one. After all, Dr^3 MP’s argument isn’t all that sophisticated to begin with. It comes down to smuggling in the initial point in his definitions. His god is by his own definition “supernatural” in a sense that defies empiricism. I get the impression that any other entity that was empirically tractable wouldn’t be called god by MP even if many people called such entities “god”. He waves about the figleaf of “well, specific event associated with god can be studied empirically, but god(s) are immune”.

  8. I agree with Pigliucci’s arguments, yet I don’t agree with his conclusion that Jerry Coyne is mistaken based on those arguments. Pigliucci’s arguments in totality appear to fail to overturn Jerry Coyne’s assertion that “anybody doing any kind of science should abandon his or her faith if they wish to become a philosophically consistent scientist” because Pigliucci’s arguments dance around the basis for that assertion by raising peripheral and mis-targeted complications.

  9. There ought to be a specific term for the insistence that every critic of religion must repeat the most sophisticated refutation of religious claims. Does every scientific paper needs to begin with a detailed discussion of Aristotle? Even Galileo barely bothered to engage his reasoning, preferring instead to point out that he was wrong.

    Isn’t it just philosophers guarding their turf?

  10. I am quite surprised and impressed by Jerry’s proficiency in LOLspeak. Does he pick it up from browsing icanhazcheeseburger.com or from grading undergrade papers?

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