Creationists, Mythicists, and the Schroedinger’s Scholar Fallacy

Creationists, Mythicists, and the Schroedinger’s Scholar Fallacy February 18, 2012

One feature that young-earth creationists, mythicists, and other proponents of pseudoscholarly ideas have in common in the way they treat the writings of actual experts in the field in question.

On the one hand, they will mine the writings of experts for sound bites and quotes that seem to support their viewpoint, and will pepper their blog posts and discussion board comments with them liberally.

On the other hand, they dismiss at least one of the central conclusions drawn by those experts, and write about them in relation to that particular matter as if they were completely incompetent ignoramuses who cannot be trusted to draw logical, reasoned conclusions.

I think we should call this the “Schroedinger’s Scholar Fallacy.” Clearly both characterizations of experts in a field cannot be right simultaneously. Either they are capable of doing valid work in their discipline, in which case their acceptance of evolution, or the existence of a historical Jesus, or whatever else, cannot be chalked up to stupidity; or they are indeed incompetent, in which case they cannot serve as authorities to appeal to in order to bolster one’s own case, since they are just as likely to have botched those points as any others if they really are as gullible and illogical as is claimed.

But in the realms of mythicism and creationism, scholars seem to exist in a state of quantum paradox, like Schroedinger’s cat, being both reliable authorities with genuine expertise, and ignorant fools, and coexisting as both simultaneously.

It is time, I suggest, for mythicists, creationists, and other denialists to open the box and look inside. The experts whom they selectively quote are either one or the other – either authorities who can be cited as providing a perspective with genuine expertise that carries legitimate weight, or people whose expertise cannot be relied upon and should not be taken seriously.

On a related note, Bob Cargill said the following on Facebook, and it seems to me germane to the current topic:

‎’God of the gaps’ creationists are like defense attorneys defending a murderer: they want you to focus on the unaccounted for 38 seconds and ignore the smoking gun, body, fingerprints, and incriminating surveillance video while they try to suppress it.

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