Michael Egnor Doesn’t Understand Analogy

This is a few months old but I just happened across it. It comes from Michael Egnor, the creationist neurosurgeon prone to saying monumentally stupid things. And it appears that he has no idea what irony means or how analogies work as he attempts to respond to a post I wrote about Poland prosecuting a singer for offending religious sensibilities. He begins:

Atheists are delightfully innocent, if you don’t count the gulags and the genocide. They’re innocent of logic, of course, and they’re innocent of irony. Atheists lack the sense of the ridiculous in themselves, utterly. Richard Dawkins is the archetypal clueless atheist snob, but all polemic atheists share the blindness.

Just wait. We’re about to experiences meta-irony.

Wait… wait… hot off the presses… A Breaking Story… from the Dissociated Press Newsdesk… Newsflash to Ed:

… Hurting the feelings of the irreligious is a crime in this country, Ed.

There’s a veritable atheist industry of “I feel ostracized and excluded”. Across this great land atheist after atheist after atheist turns to swooning litigious gelatin at the sight of a Christmas creche, or a cross on public land, or a prayer in a graduation ceremony or a football game, or a prayer mural on an auditorium wall…

It’s a fraud, Ed. You’re right about Poland. Censorship sucks.

So why the double standard, Ed? You thoughtfully point out the injustice of religious people dragging irreligious citizens who express their views into court to answer to fake claims of “hurt feelings” of people who are really censors, not victims.

Why not point out the injustice when atheists use the courts to censor?

This guy managed to graduate from medical school, so I assume he’s not a stupid man. But did he not, at some point in his prodigious education, learn what analogous means and how to make meaningful comparisons? Or is he just deliberately distorting reality to make a point? The situation I was talking about in Poland involved the government criminally prosecuting someone for exercising their freedom of speech. The situations he compares that to are civil suits filed against the government. The comparison is nonsensical in every relevant way.

An individual has every right to express their religious views, but they do not have a “right” to have those views endorsed by the government and they don’t have any “right” to exclusive access to public property for that purpose. If public property is available for individuals and organizations for such a purpose, it must be open to all. Demanding that Christians not be given exclusive access is not censorship, not by a longshot. Egnor is not a stupid man, so I can only imagine that he is capable of understanding that distinction but chooses to play pretend in order to score cheap points.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • Trebuchet

    Ben Carson and Mehmet Oz are also surgeons. I’m SO glad it isn’t just engineers.

  • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com TCC

    You shouldn’t expect much self-awareness from the man who took an insult created from his surname and made it the name of his blog.

  • lofgren

    It is in fact the OPPOSITE of censorship to open those fora to more viewpoints and opinions. This is the speech equivalent of the right’s “if you’re so tolerant then how come you won’t tolerate my intolerance” pose.

  • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com TCC

    Also, Egnor’s explication in a comment of how the Establishment Clause can’t be incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment is absolutely freaking hilarious. There’s a reason that “egnorance” became a thing that exists.

  • raven

    Egnor is not a stupid man, so I can only imagine that he is capable of understanding that distinction but chooses to play pretend in order to score cheap points.

    Maybe.

    But it looks more like Bachmann’s Syndrome, Fundie xian induced cognitive impairment.

    Michele Bachmann wasn’t stupid either. She has two degrees, one in law, and passed the bar exam. These days she shouldn’t cross the street without her minder.

    Fundie xian induced cognitive impairment is a real syndrome. There is even a probable mechanism involving cognitive dissonance and The Theory of Limiting Cognitive Resources.

    PS I sure wouldn’t want someone like Michael Egnor fishing around in my brain with a knife. Nor would I let him get near anyone with a knife. Something went wrong somewhere.

  • John Pieret

    This guy managed to graduate from medical school, so I assume he’s not a stupid man.

    Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what you mean by “intelligence.” He had the dedication to get through medical school, internship and practice, memorizing the information he needed in order to become a highly skilled meat cutter.

    His ability to think logically about his own faith and those who disagree with it, as the above example shows, is sorely lacking. It might just be one blind spot in his intellectual life, but I doubt it. For one thing, he displays the same lack of logic about his conservative politics as he does his faith, as also demonstrated above. I suspect there are a lot more such blind spots in his life.

  • Nemo

    I dunno, my father graduated from med school, and he’s a dumbass birther now.

  • Randomfactor

    Both scenarios involve a government agency granting positive recognition to one religious viewpoint at the expense of others. Poland’s example is the more egregious, of course.

    Not all that bad an analogy.

  • colnago80

    As I have stated many times on this blog, a surgeon is like an automobile mechanic. He/she doesn’t have to know much about biology to practice his/her trade, anymore then an automobile mechanics has to know anything about the physics of internal combustion engines to work on automobile engines. Egnor, like Oz and Carson is remarkably ignorant for a grown man. In addition, like David Berlinski, Egnor is a pompous asshole.

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    I am a physicist. I have found that if I say this in the presence of most MDs, they have flashbacks to pre-Med years when they damn near flunked their physics class and got tossed out of pre-Med.

    Michael Crichton, noted climate denialist and author of utterly crappy, turgid, unreadable science fiction, was also an MD.

    A PhD is also not a guarantee that one is not an idiot. I’ve known plenty of PhD geologists, chemists and physicists who couldn’t think their way through even elementary quandaries of logic.

  • http://www.respectfulinsolence.net Orac

    This guy managed to graduate from medical school, so I assume he’s not a stupid man.

    Don’t be so sure of that. It takes far more sheer determination and ability to memorize to get through medical school than actual intelligence, and doctors are incredibly focused. I’ve found that doctors who know medicine (or even just their specialty of medicine) well enough are frequently incredibly stupid when they wander outside of their area of expertise. That’s part of the reason why there are so many physician-creationists out there like Michael Egnor. Add to that the arrogance that is shared to some extent by many surgeons (it takes a certain degree of self-esteem to be confident enough to cut into a living human body and remove or rearrange parts of their anatomy for therapeutic intent, particularly if that anatomy is the brain), and physicians, particularly surgeons, are very prone to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  • raven

    Atheists are delightfully innocent, if you don’t count the gulags and the genocide.

    There is so much wrong with Egnor and his rants and raves, that it is always challenging to know which lie to comment on first.

    This is a common lie of christofascists.

    Using his nonreasoning, xians are responsible for WWI, WWII, the Civil War, and all wars in Europe back to the Roman empire, which they destroyed. Xians started World War II, and fought it.

    The body count of the xians must be in the 100′s of millions by now.

    Of course, in realityland, Xians are as responsible for the world wars as atheists are as responsible for Stalin’s Gulags. Atheism is not communism any more than xianity is fascism.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    If public property is available for individuals and organizations for such a purpose, it must be open to all.

    It is available to all. Everybody can come to City Hall to see the creche, the public park to see the cross, or the courthouse to see the Ten Commandments monument. What part of “Freedom” don’t you understand? You gulaging genociders should stop being so divisive.

  • sundiver

    Having worked in hospitals for 30+ years, unless it is demonstrated otherwise, I consider ALL doctors to be proctologists. They’re assholes and they’re doctors and an asshole doctor is a definition of proctologist.

  • Sastra

    There’s a veritable atheist industry of “I feel ostracized and excluded”. Across this great land atheist after atheist after atheist turns to swooning litigious gelatin at the sight of a Christmas creche, or a cross on public land, or a prayer in a graduation ceremony or a football game, or a prayer mural on an auditorium wall…

    If the problem really was atheists “feeling ostracized and excluded” then Egnor would see atheist after atheist turning into swooning jelly every time they saw a creche, spotted a cross, or heard a prayer. “Oh NO — MY NEIGHBORS HAVE PUT UP A MANGER SCENE! THIS MUST BE STOPPED! I feel so ostracized and excluded.”

    But we atheists don’t do that, do we? It always seems to involve a Constitutional issue. It’s not “offense.”

    I suspect a lot of this misunderstanding comes out of projection. When theists see public expressions of atheism — meaning out in public and not ‘supported through public funds’ — they want to stop it. Faith relies on social consent. For them, it IS “offense.”

  • whheydt

    Re: coinago80 @ #9…

    There is an old joke about a conversation between an auto mechanic and cardiac surgoen. The punch line is, “Try doing it with the engine running.”

  • Doc Bill

    Another punchline goes, “Who does that asshole think he is, God?” “Actually, that is GOD but he likes to pretend he’s a doctor.”

    Back to the Egnorance, he’s a mind-brain dualist, too. He once made an analogy that the brain was like a cell phone and God was AT&T.

    Actually, come to think of it, he may have been on to something there!

  • Akira MacKenzie

    This guy managed to graduate from medical school, so I assume he’s not a stupid man.

    He’s a theist.

    No matter what accolades and titles they may have blundered into during the course of the useless lives, ANYONE–yes, ANYONE–who believes in a magical invisible cosmic tyrant is a fucking moron.

    Sastra @ 16

    Also, leaving out the fact that atheists object to religious displays/affirmations on public property, as Dr. Shit-For-Brains did, leaves his fellow sub-human barbarians with the impression that the Big Bad Atheist is after the nativity scene or cross on their private property.

    No, that doesn’t require intelligence, just spite.

  • colnago80

    Re Akira MacKenzie @ #19

    Isaac Newton, arguably the most important scientists who ever lived believed in an invisible man in the sky, although he was an Arian, not a Christian.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    colnago80 “Isaac Newton…although he was an Arian, not a Christian.”

    You’re terrible at Venn Diagrams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/set.v.kouwenhoven Set Kouwenhoven

    @Modusoperandi (21): That’s your best one yet.

  • Scientismist

    colnago80 @ 20: “Isaac Newton ..believed in an invisible man in the sky…”

    Yes, and he believed that the invisible man pushed the planets around. Not all the time, mind you, but just when the physics got too complicated for Newton to follow it. Did that make him a “fucking idiot?” — No, worse: A very intelligent man with a blindness to his own failings, and with a ready-made cultural excuse to discontinue his efforts to build a deeper understanding.

  • Doubting Thomas

    This guy managed to graduate from medical school, so I assume he’s not a stupid man.

    Yes, he is a stupid man. He’s educated and not ignorant of certain specific information. But “stupid” means that he lets emotional reactions dictate his thinking instead of logic and reason. I got at least that much from my BA in Psych.

  • http://cheapsignals.blogspot.com Gretchen

    No matter what accolades and titles they may have blundered into during the course of the useless lives, ANYONE–yes, ANYONE–who believes in a magical invisible cosmic tyrant is a fucking moron.

    Okay, but what about people who believe in God?

    I don’t know whether you’re a moron or not, Akira, but you certainly believe something patently false and hateful, and trumpet it with pride. That’s pretty moronic.

  • Akira MacKenzie

    Don’t care… theist.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    We could play madlibs with the thread title:

    Michael Egnor Doesn’t Understand __________________

    Go!

  • colnago80

    Re Scientismist @ #23

    In some fairness, in order to pursue the naturalist notion of planetary dynamics, Newton would have had to invent perturbation theory. Laplace who proved that he had no need of the god hypothesis had the advantage that someone else had invented perturbation theory before he got there. Not a throwaway. It should also be pointed out that it took more then a hundred years for someone to extend Newton’s calculations to multi-body dynamics.

  • colnago80

    Re Akira MacKenzie @ #19

    So Ken Miller is a moron.

  • colnago80

    Re Modusoperandi @ #21

    Well, most Christian sects consider Arianism to be heresy.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Logical thinking is not innate in humans. It’s a skill, one which can — and must — be learned to be used.

    Its only connection to intelligence is that intelligence enables a person to learn to think logically.

    Confusing the two is a common error that leads to all sorts of trouble.

  • Randomfactor

    You know what they call the guy who graduates with the lowest passing marks in his class at medical school, right?

    “Doctor.”

  • Randomfactor

    Michael Egnor Doesn’t Understand __________________

    Well, that would explain why he didn’t specialize in coprology.

  • dingojack

    Crimson Clupeidae (#27) – Reality.

    Dingo

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    As I have stated many times on this blog, a surgeon is like an automobile mechanic.

    Yeah, that’s no more believable than anything else you’ve said here, chickenhawk. (Where’s that evidence of me “celebrating” the murder of three innocent Israeli kids again?) A human body is a LOT more complex than a car; and, as #17 pointed out, a surgeon doesn’t have the luxury of being able to turn off a body and swap out parts to find out what’s wrong.

    The fact that you would take this instance of one surgeon’s stupidity as an excuse to bash the entire medical profession, really says a lot about your character.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #35

    Something of this sort has also been said by David Gorski (aka Orac) who, himself, is a surgeon. In particular, a surgeon doesn’t have to know anything about evolution to perform his work. Thus, Egnor, Carson, and Oz can be perfectly competent surgeons and still know as much about evolution as Ken Ham. And, in fact, in diagnosing car engine problems, the engine is usually running. By the way, I’m not going to get into a name calling pissing contest with you. So fire away, keep ‘em coming.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    None of that justifies comparing surgeons to auto-mechanics. I’ve dealt with both, and the comparison is bullshit; not is it an appropriate response to one surgeon’s ignorant views about a subject that is in neither sphere.

    By the way, I’m not going to get into a name calling pissing contest with you.

    You just said you enjoyed getting into such fights. But hey, if you’ve changed your mind, you can show your good faith by admitting you lied about me.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches Ed Brayton

    I think anyone who claims that anyone who believes in God is a fucking moron…is a fucking moron.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #37

    Yawn.


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