Search Results for "michael egnor"

Jan 15 2009

Sorry, Egnor, Your Pillars Are Still Shattered

Published by under Uncategorized

Michael Egnor, the creationist neurosurgeon who blogs over at the Discovery Institute, has been a busy beaver lately. He has written several entries on his side of the materialism vs dualism debate we’ve been having. I have been reading them, waiting for him to say something new I need to respond to, but mostly he is just reiterating the same points I have already refuted. Putting an old argument in a new form, or citing a new source, does not change the argument nor is it a response to refutation.

But now he has specifically responded to my previous post on the topic (although still not really addressing my points), and so a response from me is in order.

In a post titled, “It’s Time for Me to Unshatter My “Three Pillars of Neuroscience Denial,” Egnor tried and failed to refute my summary of his core logical fallacies.

Continue Reading »

76 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

The Mind of Egnor

Published by under Uncategorized

Our favorite creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor, must have had some free time last week. He wrote a spate of blog entries at Evolution News & Views, each one more absurd than the last. Including this one where he serves up a six pack of logical fallacies about the mind and materialism.

And yet he still has not had time to write his promised follow up on Terri Schiavo. He essentially challenged me to a blog-off on this issue, and I obliged. I am still waiting for his response that he claimed he would post in “a week or so” five months ago.

Anyway, he seems to be the designated hitter for the Discovery Institute’s new ventures into neuroscience – their next frontier of anti-materialist propaganda (because the evolution-denial thing is going so well). Egnor has done two things with this most recent post. The first is to string together a series of outrageous logical fallacies in an attempt to argue that the brain cannot entirely cause the mind. The second is to simply co-opt the language of legitimate skepticism and graft it onto his point of view. It fits as well as a nun’s habit on a vulgar construction worker.

Continue Reading »

43 responses so far

Aug 15 2008

Persistent Vegetative State – From Schiavo to Egnor

Published by under Uncategorized

Last week I wrote an entry about the Terri Schiavo case, discussing a new published study criticizing the news reporting of this controversial case. The case involved the right to life of a woman in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) and the relative rights of her husband vs her parents to decide her care. Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon who writes for the Evolution News & Views blog, and with whom I have had a long blog debate, mostly about dualism and the nature of consciousness, has responded to my post on Schiavo. Not surprisingly he has taken a different view of the case. He writes:

In my view, the political efforts to save Ms. Schiavo’s life were well-intentioned and completely justified. I believe that many of the medical opinions offered publicly by physicians who favored withdrawal of Ms. Schiavo’s hydration and nourishment were rank pseudoscience. What was done to Ms. Schiavo was an atrocity.

He also offers to have a blog discussion about the topic with me, writing:

A detailed and thoughtful public exchange of views about the Terri Schiavo case by two experts in neurological medicine—an academic neurologist and an academic neurosurgeon who have quite different opinions on this matter—would be very informative. The discussion could take the form of detailed exchanges between Dr. Novella and me on specific aspects of the case, such as the autopsy report, the neurological exams, the nature and reliability of the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state, and the ethical and political issues involved. This discussion extends to many of the issues involving the materialist inference in neuroscience that Dr. Novella and I have debated over the past year.

So here is my first installment. I will focus on the nature of persistent vegetative state and respond to some of the comments of Dr. Egnor.

Continue Reading »

18 responses so far

Jun 27 2008

Egnor vs PZ Myers

Published by under Uncategorized

I toyed with the idea of staying away from this one. I have been writing quite a bit about Michael Egnor, a neuroscience and evolution denier who blogs for the Discovery Institute, and I try not to give too much attention to any one crank. I have focused on his nonsensical version of dualism (shocking for a neurosurgeon) and so was going to let PZ Myers and Orac deal with his latest bit of illogic – partly because Egnor is directly attacking PZ and because the topic is cancer treatment which is Orac’s specialty. They both did a fine job of deconstructing Egnor’s absurd claims.

But this is the NeuroLogica blog and there were a couple of logical nuances that PZ and Orac did not focus on, so I just couldn’t stay away.

Here is the bit I want to focus on:

Continue Reading »

34 responses so far

Apr 29 2008

Dr. Egnor on Neuroscience – Wrong Again.

Published by under Skepticism

Dr. Egnor must be tired of always being wrong – or at least he would be if he had the insight and intellectual honesty to see how persistently wrong he is. Alas, so far he has not demonstrated such insight. I have been engaged in an ongoing blog debate with Dr. Michael Egnor, who writes for the propaganda blog of the Discovery Institute, over the question of whether the scientific evidence supports the strict materialist hypothesis of mind, or the dualist hypothesis – that the mind is something more than the function of the brain.

Egnor has mangled most of his arguments, has misrepresented my opinions, has cruelly assaulted logic (as you can see he has a proper home at the Discovery Institute) – but now he demonstrates that he is incapable of reading a simple sentence and comprehending its meaning.

Continue Reading »

68 responses so far

Feb 22 2008

Dr. Egnor Won’t Give Up – Finds a New Way to Get It Wrong

Controversies and debates are a great way to learn about logic and the functioning of science. Opponents wrestling over how to interpret the evidence and painstakingly pointing out the logical errors on the other side in a great intellectual exercise. That is primarily why I am enjoying so much my debate with Dr. Michael Egnor, who is writing over at Evolution News and Reviews – the blog of the Discovery Institute, an organization created to promote Intelligent Design.

Today he published his latest response in our ongoing discussion about strict materialism (the mind is the brain) vs dualism (the mind is the brain plus something else undefined). This is his attempt to respond to my direct challenge for him to name a prediction of materialism that has failed. He now claims he has done so, but actually he has completely failed to do so and had instead just added more logical errors to his argument.

Continue Reading »

59 responses so far

Feb 15 2008

Dr. Egnor Misses the Point Again

Published by under Skepticism

I have been having a blog debate with Dr. Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon who advocates for Intelligent Design and dualism, the notion that we need to hypothesize something other than the physical brain in order to explain the mind. On Monday I responded to Egnor’s most recent post in which he claimed that I was being dogmatic (a favorite tactic of creationists) because I maintain that all of the evidence so far supports the materialist hypothesis of mind. I concluded:

If he wishes to persist in his claims, then I openly challenge Egnor to name one prediction of strict materialism that has been falsified. To be clear, that means one positive prediction for materialism where the evidence falsifies strict materialism. This does not mean evidence we do not currently have, but evidence against materialism or for dualism. I maintain that such evidence does not exist – not one bit. Prove me wrong, Egnor.

Well, Dr. Egnor has not taken long to respond. However I will note that Dr. Egnor has not answered my challenge – he has not given a single example of a failed prediction of materialism nor has he given any evidence for dualism. I guess he’s still hunting around for an example, since I have shot down all of his prior arguments.

Continue Reading »

113 responses so far

Jun 05 2007

Egnor Dishes on Meat and Materialism

Michael Egnor, the neurosurgeon who has made a series of embarrassingly ridiculous claims about evolution and intelligent design (ID), now has turned his sights on consciousness and materialism. Actually, he is revealing the true underlying beef that ID proponents/creationists have with modern science – methodological materialism. It’s really just whining about scientists not letting supernaturalism play in their sandbox. They fail to recognize (or care) that methodological materialism is not just an arbitrary choice. Rather, supernaturalism won’t fit in science’s sandbox – the two are fundamentally incompatible.

Egnor has chosen as his latest topic that of human consciousness. This is a favorite topic for the woo crowd, and it is interesting that the fundamentalist Christians, who traditionally are at ideological odds with new age and occult beliefs, are finding common ground over consciousness. It is not a surprise as the phenomenon of consciousness is poorly understood and even more difficult to articulate, and pseudoscience thrives in the fertile ground at the edges of current scientific knowledge (witness the other favorite woo topic of quantum mechanics).

Egnor writes:

“There is no shared property yet identified by science through which brain matter can cause mental acts like altruism. Material substances have mass and energy. Ideas have purpose and judgment. There is no commonality. The association between brain function and ideas is fascinating, and the association of ideas with regions of the brain is a proper object of scientific study. But where there is no commonality of properties, association cannot be causation. Ideas must be caused by substances that have properties common to ideas- such as purpose and judgment.

“Materialist neuroscientists confuse association with causation.”

This is utter rubbish on many levels. Egnor’s basic point is that the material brain cannot cause mental activity, which is immaterial. But he does not establish that premise, he merely assumes it and his justification is nothing more than semantics. He then accuses material scientists of assuming that mental functions are brain functions, while essentially dismissing a huge chunk of modern neuroscience as “interesting” but irrelevant by falsely invoking the “correlation is not causation” argument.

Continue Reading »

One response so far

Mar 17 2020

Being Anti-intellectual During a Pandemic

Published by under Skepticism

In the past I have written a defense of elitism and expertise, and articles exploring the phenomenon of anti-intellectualism. For those who reject science this is a core issue – they must attack expertise, reject consensus, and defend populism as their justification for promoting the idea that the consensus of scientific opinion is wrong. They do so with the same tired and rejected arguments they have for decades, which I guess is in line with their anti-intellectualism.

Recently Michael Egnor, who writes for the anti-science Discovery Institute, and with whom I have tangled before, wrote a stunning defense of anti-intellectualism. He marshaled all the old tropes, which I have already dealt with, but I felt it was especially poignant in the middle of a pandemic. We are actually seeing in real time the consequences of science-denial, of rejecting the advice of experts and basing opinions on your “hunches”, and of approaching reality with a general attitude of anti-expertise populism.

The core of Egnor’s anti-intellectual attack is the notion that – those scientists have been wrong before. First – of course they have. Science is not a crystal ball. It is a set of methods for slowly, painstakingly working out how reality functions. It is full of false hypotheses, dead-ends, mistakes, and occasional brilliance. But mostly it’s careful tedious work, which is then put through the meat-grinder of peer-review. Science is messy, which is why I spend perhaps the majority of my time writing here and on SBM discussing the messiness of science, the pitfalls, the institutional failures, and the changes that many think will help make the institutions of science incrementally better.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 22 2015

Creationist Talking Points

Published by under Creationism/ID

Yesterday I wrote about our struggle to promote and defend the teaching of evolution, and good science in general, in the public school science classroom.  My overall point was that, while we are winning on the legal battleground, we are not making much headway in the broader cultural context, and perhaps we need to step back and think about our strategy.

To my delight, Michael Egnor made an appearance in the comments, and it seemed he truly wanted to engage (at least for a while). Dr. Egnor, if you recall, is a neurosurgeon who rejects what he calls “Darwinism.” He blogs on his own blog and for the Discovery Institute, and we have occasionally crossed swords on our respective blogs.

I was also pleased that the conversation remained polite and civil, allowing us to drill down to the core issues. I want to summarize our exchange here and expand on my responses in the comments.

Continue Reading »

355 responses so far

« Prev - Next »