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On Channel 4 "4thought" slot on creationism TV tuesday

I have a brief two minute slot at about 5 mins to eight, tomorrow night on Channel 4. Part of a week long series on whether (young earth) creationism should be taught in schools. In the 4thought TV. Website with links to all the clips including mine here.

P.S. They chose the "angry" bits out of the stuff they recorded with me!

PS Which is fine as I am angry about it.


Adam said…
That poor lad on tonight. He's clearly a pleasant and very bright young man, but has allowed his head to be clouded by his local folklore. Part of me hopes he emerges from his foxhole, the other part wants to spare him the embarrassment...

Guillaume said…
I watched it. You are my new hero.
Martin said…
When I first saw Stephen's clip live on channel four, I quite enjoyed it. Then I realised that in my case he was preaching to the gallery, and I would naturally tend to enjoy such rabble rousing. I thought I would try listening again with a more critical ear. I was surprised to find that I spotted a couple of howlers.

In the opening statement, Stephen says: "The Pope rejects young earth creationism ..." This sounds like an argument from authority, or am I mistaken? If that is the case, the Pope is a very peculiar person for Stephen to choose as his authority figure. Am I missing some possibly very subtle layer of psychology here?

The phrase "pernicious scientific nonsense" doesn't work for me. I think it should read "pernicious non-scientific nonsense".

Hope this is received in the spirit of constructive criticism, because keeping YEC teaching out of science labs is a good idea.
Anonymous said…
Only two things struck me. The first was Law's verbal stress on "senior" - as in senior lecturer - which is obviously so crucial to his self-esteem. The second was a casual and utterly vile dismissal of people suffering from mental health conditions. And now Law wants to make excuses and duck responsibility for his actions, which tells you all you need to know about the despicable vanity of worthless academics.
Stephen Law said…
Martin - the point re Pope and Catholics was to disarm the usual YEC claim that those opposed to YEC are all atheist materialists. I actually said this but it was cut. "Scientific nonsense" is fine, surely. Yes, you could interpret it to mean "it's scientific and it's nonsense", as you do, but the more natural understanding, given the context, is "it's nonsense from a scientific point of view." In fact the phrase is used like that all the time (google it).
Stephen Law said…
Hi Bethlehem. They kept trying to make me pronounce that intro more punchily and emphatically, which I was struggling with, hence the odd intonation of "Senior". But thanks for the ad hominem! Classic YEC move!

I don't claim YEC's are insane. I claim that the thought patterns they exhibit would, under other circumstances, lead us to think the person was mentally ill. See my book "Believing Bullshit" chapter 2. Of course, YECs are not mentally ill. I did say that during the recording, but that bit was cut.
Martin said…
Thanks Stephen, yes I thought the Pope reference might be as a result of editing. It is a shame the substantive part of your argument was cut, but then refuting others' wild claims is never going to be as punchy as "The Pope says ..."

I have Bipolar 1 and believe I should try to speak out when people are trying to stygmatise mental illness. A little warning bell went off in my head when I heard that one too. However on re-playing the clip, the reference is to the symptoms of mental illness, and delusions certainly fit that bill. I had no problem with that reference, and did not mention it before for that reason.

As a side issue, it is a misunderstood position about mental illness, but it is not the delusions that will get you brought before a psychiatrist, it is when your behaviour deteriorates that this will happen. As long as YEC's keep going to work, going to church and feeding their families they will not get a diagnosis of mental illness. Believing the world is 6000 years old does no harm in itself, it is only when your delusions cause your behaviour to alarm others (or disrupt the work of scientists) that it is necessary to take action.
Anonymous said…
I have to say that I am disappointed. I am certainly not your biggest fan but I expected you to put the boot into creationism in the way that it deserves. You didn't.

Instead you tried to label this belief as similar to a form of mental illness, notwithstanding your total lack of any medical qualifications to do so, when in reality it is an intellectual fallacy.

Intellectual fallacies are rebutted by evidence, and there is an overwhelming abundance of evidence to rebut creationism. Why didn't you cite it?

I should declare an interest in this; my lungs are colonised by a hyper-mutating pan-resistant strain of mucoid pseudomonas aeruginosa. My awareness of evolution is therefore of the up close and personal variety, but you could inform yourself very easily if you chose to do so. The information is there for anyone who bothers to run a few searches, and it is certainly incompatible with creationism...
Martin said…
Pascal, there's no particular reason why a non-specialist cannot try to use language which lies entirely within the province of another specialist. I am sure you are aware that in GB patients are being encouraged to take part in Expert Patient programmes. The very patient themselves is increasingly being expected to master detailled and complex terminology about a wide variety of conditions. I myself have sat on an oversight committee for an NHS Partnership Trust, yet I consider myself extremely lacking in technical expertise. It is only when skill and experience are combined that true knowledge is generated.

Even though my understanding of mucoid pseudomonas aeruginosa is very limited, and please feel perfectly free to correct me if I got this wrong, but I think it is perfectly true to say that opportunistic pathogens are able to overcome mucociliary clearance when they encounter phagocytic cells aided by immunological mechanisms, that might include some opsonizing anti-body like call cells etc. etc. The lessons form this are not clear, but it is always very important to focus on the detail, whilst keeping the broader view in your rear-view mirror, so to speak.

There is no reason to believe that Dr Law's careful and penetrating analysis has not been seen, and he demonstrates it eloquently along with his commitment to speak out.

I cannot for the life of me not see why Divinity, by this I mean a proper study of religious practices and beliefs, cannot be taught in all state schools. This would be instead of the wimbly-wambly mish-mash which is RE or Religious Studies. If it is to be studied it should actually be done entirely properly and not liberally, but then I take an extremely old-fashioned upon most things, being as at this stage of life I am past old codger and now firmly a very wizend old man (age 48!).

I'd like to see Latin taught pre-senior school for similar reasons. After all didn't Virgil say in the Aeneid: "Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. which must have boldness at its very core.
The work boots are hip. When I was in (Catholic boys-only) grade school, we used to all wear them and called them "kickin' down tree boots". However, you must have steel toes to be the real deal. Otherwise, you're just a poseur.
Stephen Law said…
No toe caps in mine, I'm afraid. My daughter hates them. But I have this weird thing about shoes. Feet are meant to be encased up to the ankle, I believe. I feel completely wrong in shoes.

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