Monday, September 23, 2013

Protherian head Damage

Donald Prothero writes:

Another common tactic of creationists is credential mongering. They love to flaunt their Ph.D.'s on their book covers, giving the uninitiated the impression that they are all-purpose experts in every topic. As anyone who has earned a Ph.D. knows, the opposite is true: the doctoral degree forces you to focus on one narrow research problem for a long time, so you tend to lose your breadth of training in other sciences. Nevertheless, they flaunt their doctorates in hydrology or biochemistry, then talk about paleontology or geochronology, subjects they have zero qualification to discuss. Their Ph.D. is only relevant in the field where they have specialized training. It's comparable to asking a Ph.D. to fix your car or write a symphony - they may be smart, but they don't have the appropriate specialized training to do a competent job based on their Ph.D. alone.

By way of response:

  1. Now, in Prothero's review of Stephen Meyer's Darwin's Doubt he waxes confidently about "the Dunning-Kruger effect" and makes determined statements about the "psychological phenomenon" in reference to Meyer. However, Prothero has no "relevant" "specialized training" in psychology. He doesn't have a PhD in psychology. Psychology including the Dunning-Kruger effect is a subject he has "zero qualification to discuss". So, judging by his own yardstick, his self-assured statements and pronouncements about Meyer suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect and so forth would be from a person who doesn't "have the appropriate specialized training to do a competent job".

  2. What's more, his cocksure statements may in fact be indicative that Prothero himself is suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. Maybe he should schedule an appointment to see a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist to evaluate his mental condition. Otherwise, he risks continuing unabated in his "fumbling, bumbling amateur follies."

  3. Ad arguendo, Prothero might say Meyer isn't qualified to talk about the science. But Meyer has a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge. And Meyer does talk about the history and philosophy of science in his book. As such, Prothero should concede the parts of Meyer's book which address the history and philosophy of science are entirely within Meyer's qualifications.

  4. As Steve Hays has pointed out, Prothero's objection cuts both ways. Modern evolutionary theory is interdisciplinary. Many defenders of evolution are speaking outside their area of specialization.

  5. Prothero writes about DNA and genetics, for example, in his book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters. But this isn't his area of specialization.

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