Search Results for "michael egnor"

Dec 16 2014

Neurosurgeon Thinks the Brain Doesn’t Store Memories

It has been six years since I have written a blog post deconstructing the nonsense of our favorite creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor. In case you have forgotten, he is a dualist writing for the intelligent design propaganda blog, Evolution News and Views. He delights in ridiculing what he calls “materialist metaphysics,” or what scientists call, “science.”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he has managed to outdo his prior incoherent ramblings. In a recent blog post he claims that it is impossible for the brain to store memories, an idea he ridicules as “nonsense.”

As usual, Egnor is playing loose with definitions and logic, tying himself up in a conceptual knot in order to arrive at his desired destination – the idea that the brain cannot account for mental phenomena. His logic train derails pretty quickly:

It has been known for the better part of a century that certain structures in the brain are associated with memory. The amygdala and the hippocampus in the temporal lobe, and some adjacent cortical regions, have been shown to be associated with the act of remembering in animals and humans.

Continue Reading »

69 responses so far

Jun 12 2014

Dumb Things Creationists Say

Having read deeply into the creationist literature and having had countless discussions with creationists, one thing is clear to me – creationists do not understand evolutionary theory.

To be fair, most people don’t really understand evolutionary theory, but creationists have a particularly poor understanding. Their problem goes beyond generic scientific illiteracy. They primarily learn about evolution from secondary hostile sources – other creationists. What they learn is creationist made-up nonsense about evolution, which they confuse for the science of evolution. This condemns them to mostly attack pathetic straw men rather than what scientists actually claim about evolution.

For example, Michael Egnor (remember him?), the creationist neurosurgeon who blogs for the Discotute, claimed that if evolution were true, then brain cancer should evolve a better functioning brain.

Today I am going to pick on another example of “if evolution were true, then…” creationist nonsense. This one comes from, in a Youtube video Derek Isaacs, a young-earth creationist, claims that:

“If evolution is true and it’s all about the male propagating their DNA, we had to ask hard questions like, well is rape wrong?”

It’s a little disturbing that Isaacs finds this a hard question, but let’s break down the many fallacies in this statement.

Continue Reading »

41 responses so far

Sep 13 2013

More on Logic and Thermodynamics

Michael Egnor likes to play the game of Name That Logical Fallacy – or at least he likes to set up other people to play that game. He is a creationist neurosurgeon who has been blogging over at Evolution News & Views, an intelligent design propaganda outlet. In a recent post he attempts to reply to my post deconstructing a paper by Graville Sewell in which he claimed that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.

Egnor blows his first attempt at naming a fallacy.

Novella begins his critique of Sewell’s argument with the usual Darwinist ad hominem:

“Creationists will just not let go of an argument, no matter how many times it is pointed out to them that their argument is unsound. They simply find new twists of logic and distortions of science to resurrect their precious argument, clinging to it more tightly than Gollum held onto his ring.”

Continue Reading »

27 responses so far

May 15 2012

Another Blogger Jumps Into the Dualism Fray

Published by under Neuroscience

It has been a while since I wrote about dualism – the notion that the mind is something more than the functioning of the brain. Previously I had a blog duel about dualism with creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor. Now someone else has jumped into that discussion: blogger, author, and computer engineer Bernardo Kastrup has taken me on directly. The result is a confused and poorly argued piece all too typical of metaphysical apologists.

Kastrup’s major malfunction is to create a straw man of my position and then proceed to argue against that. He so blatantly misrepresents my position, in fact, that I have to wonder if he has serious problems with reading comprehension or is just so blinkered by his ideology that he cannot think straight (of course, these options are not mutually exclusive). I further think that he probably just read one blog post in the long chain of my posts about dualism and so did not make a sufficient effort to actually understand my position.

Kastrup is responding specifically to this blog post by me, a response to one by Egnor. Kastrups begins with this summary:

I found it to contain a mildly interesting but otherwise trite, superficial, and fallacious argument. Novella’s main point seems to be that correlation suffices to establish causation. He claims that Egnor denies that neuroscience has found sufficient correlation between brain states and mind states because subjective mind states cannot be measured.

Continue Reading »

44 responses so far

Jan 08 2010

Ray Tallis on Consciousness

Published by under Skepticism

Raymond Tallis is an author and polymath; a physician, atheist, and philosopher. He has criticized post-modernism head on, so he must be all right.

And yet he takes what I consider to be a very curious position toward consciousness. As he write in the New Scientist: You won’t find consciousness in the brain. From reading this article it seems that Tallis is a dualist in the style of Chalmers – a philosopher who argues that we cannot fully explain consciousness as brain activity, but what is missing is something naturalistic – we just don’t know what it is yet.

Tallis has also written another article arguing that Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain the evolution of consciousness. Curiously, he does not really lay out an alternative, leading me to speculate what he thinks the alternative might be.

Continue Reading »

43 responses so far

Dec 09 2009

Some Craziness from the Disco-Tute

Published by under Creationism/ID

After writing my weekly post for science-based medicine, I decided to check out the rantings over at the Discovery Institute’s blog, the grossly misnamed Evolution News & Views. This anti-science propaganda blog offers a “target-rich environment” for skeptics – so much so that I must resist being drawn into their black hole of pseudoscience and maddening illogic. <obscure Star Trek reference>They could fry Norman in a nanosecond. </obscure Star Trek reference> (btw – if you combine a computer geek and Star Trek geek joke in one sentence, you get double points, sort of like scrabble.)

My problem is that the nonsense is so thick over there that it is a bit overwhelming. So I’m just going to do a quick fly-by of some of their posts.

Egnor is Back

My favorite creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor, is back with a vengeance. He has written 27 blog entries in the last two weeks all about ClimateGate. Wow – I guess he has some time on his hands. These are among the most shrill and ridiculous opinions I have seen expressed on this issue, amid stiff competition. He writes:
Continue Reading »

73 responses so far

Apr 14 2009

Controversy Over Strengths and Weaknesses

Published by under Evolution

The strategy du jour of those who wish to water down the teaching of evolution, or to insert their religious creationist ideology as much as possible into the science classroom, is to ask, under the banner of “academic freedom” that schools teach the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, particularly evolution. The Intelligent Design propaganda machine, the Discovery Institute, has been hitting this theme pretty hard. This was also the focus of the recent controversy over the Texas science standards.

Recently Michael Egnor has taken up this banner over at the DicoTute’s blog. He is responding to a blog post by Timothy Sandefur, and in typical fashion Egnor seems to have missed the fact that Sandefur has completely dismantled his position. In Egnor’s latest reply he resorts to his playing of semantic games and grossly misinterprets Sandefur’s position, while whining about his own position being misrepresented.

A Creationist By Any Other Name

The First point of contention is the use of the term “creationist” to refer to Egnor’s position – Egnor has made this complaint about others, including myself. He writes:

The term creationist in this debate refers to young earth creationism. I’m not a young earth creationist. Therefore when Mr. Sandefur calls me a “creationist,” he’s misrepresenting my views.

Egnor completely ignores Sandefur’s actual characterization of his views, and rather focuses on a single term. It seems Egnor has unilaterally (he provides no reference or other justification) and quite arbitrarily decided that henceforth, and retroactively, the term “creationist” only refers to members of one particular subset of creationism formerly known as “young earth creationists”.  Also henceforth the term “bear” will now only refer to black bears, and the literature will be altered to reflect this.

Continue Reading »

32 responses so far

Jan 15 2009

I’ll be on NPR

Published by under Uncategorized

Quick note for those who are interested, I will be interviewed on NPR Friday morning 9:30-10:30 Eastern time. The topic will be about dualism and the evolution of human consciousness. They tell me that Michael Egnor may also be on – should be interesting.


The interview went well, it was a 1 on 1 for about an hour. It was being recorded for future broadcast. I was told it will come out around Darwin’s birthday (Feb 12th) either on Morning Edition or All Things Considered.

As soon as they let me know exactly when I will post another update.

Urgent Update:

This is actually unrelated, but I was asked to be on JPR, a local Oregon NPR affiliate, right now!!!.

That is – 12:00-1:00pm Eastern Today.

You can stream live from here: (go to The Jefferson Exchange under News). Here is the link to the show description:

Download the podcast here (  – my interview is the second hour.

109 responses so far

Jan 07 2009

SETI vs Intelligent Design

Published by under Skepticism

Blogging for the Discovery Institute, Michael Egnor repeats the already debunked canard that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is analogous to the search for Intelligent Design (ID) in nature. This time he is responding to a recent blog entry of mine on SETI. He doesn’t actually respond to any of my points – he is just using my entry as an excuse to repeat the SETI false-analogy.

Egnor writes:

One is struck by SETI supporters’ speculative extravagance. The most cogent critique of SETI, in my view, is that it is akin to an article of faith. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life. SETI is surely a shot in the dark, perhaps literally, but I do believe that it is a worthwhile scientific venture. Methodologically it is certainly science, even good science. The reception of signals with specified complexity or the discovery of artifacts apparently crafted by intelligent non-human agency would be clear evidence for extraterrestrial intelligent agency. Carl Sagan’s example in “Contact” is entirely valid. The reception of a signal repeating prime numbers would be very unlikely to have a non-intelligent natural source, and the most reasonable scientific inference would be that it was generated by extraterrestrial intelligent life.

Continue Reading »

26 responses so far

Dec 24 2008

Defending Science-Based Medicine

Published by under Uncategorized

The following was cross-posted today on Science-Based Medicine.


Science-based medicine is more than a website. It is a philosophy of medicine that is actively vying with other philosophies for dominance in the world of medicine. We believe that medicine should be based upon the best science available, according to a single universal standard of rigorous methodology and valid logic and reason. Others desire a double-standard, so that they can be free to practice or market whatever they wish without having to meet strict scientific standards. Still others have a non-scientific ideological world-view and want public policy to accord to, or at least admit, their personal beliefs.

I therefore expect that we will be attacked by proponents of unscientific medicine in all its forms.  Yesterday, however, we were attacked on the Evolution News & Views website of the Discovery Institute by creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor. This may seem incongruous at first, but honestly I suspected that just such an attack was inevitable.

Many science bloggers, David Gorski and me prominent among them, have taken on both the DI and Dr. Egnor specifically over many anti-scientific arguments he has put forward over the last couple of years. We have sparred mostly about evolution in medicine, neuroscience and consciousness, and the materialist underpinnings of modern science. Dr Egnor’s day job, however, is that of a (from what I can tell) respected neurosurgeon, so I always wondered what he thought of his sparring partners’ writings about science-based medicine.

His entry yesterday ends any speculation – he wrote an incoherent, logical fallacy-ridden screed that would make any snake-oil peddler proud. This reinforces a point I have made in other contexts – all anti-scientific philosophies have science as a common enemy, and will tend to band together in an “unholy alliance” against those advocating for scientific rigor or defending science from ideological attack. That is why a website that is ostensibly about the “misreporting of the evolution issue” would post a blog attacking science-based medicine as an “arrogant medical priesthood.”

Continue Reading »

8 responses so far

« Prev - Next »