@pevaquark, I appreciate your willingness to participate in this discussion. I know this is a difficult conversation for everyone involved, including you. You deserve credit, nonetheless, for sticking it out. Your last question strikes me as genuine, so I wanted to help explain how arguments like yours from BioLogos are recieved by people outside.
Before I do this, I want to emphasize three things.
I’m discussing how it really seems, but we might be wrong. Perhaps other things are going on here, and there are better ways to describe it.
This is not just @pevaquark. He deserves credit for coming here and working this out. Others at BioLogos have made the same statements in drive-by’s without ever intending to engage.
This does not reflect everyone at BioLogos, just those who have been most vocal. I hope that some of the leaders that find this to be ungracious behavior will eventually make this public. Until then, I’m in the uncomfortable position of helping BioLogos rectify this mess.
Not Precisely An Ad Hominem
Great question @pevaquark. I was using the terms of this leader, he said “ad hominem.” Hopefully he will make his views public soon, and you can take him to task on this.
Other Ways to Explain the Problem
I would agree that ad hominem is not precise enough to make sense of it. This is a bit different. Here are some possibilities that seem to be at play:
- Two times here you’e tried to execute the Red Herring Fallacy. Notice the topic here was about asking BioLogos to correct a scientific error. You followed Venema’s example perfectly, by making this a referendum on the GA and polygenesis instead of dealing with the substantive issue at hand. Throwing race into the mix is an effect twist on this strategy. Bravo. The second time you did this was in when you couldn’t produce a reason to call the GA polygenesis, and instead changed the topic to say you rejected it for other reasons.
Red herring is a kind of fallacy that is an irrelevant topic introduced in an argument to divert the attention of listeners or readers from the original issue. In literature, this fallacy is often used in detective or suspense novels to mislead readers or characters, or to induce them to make false conclusions.
- Independent of the red herring context here, the polygenesis charge is an example of The Association Fallacy, where an idea is implicated because of a false or selective or superficial similarity to a false idea. Of note you argued that BioLogos was justified in distances themselves from me because of this association. This reasoning only works if polygenesis is meant to be understood (correctly) as racist.
An association fallacy is an informal inductive fallacy of the hasty-generalization or red-herring type and which asserts, by irrelevant association and often by appeal to emotion, that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another. Two types of association fallacies are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association .
- Notice that this specific association fallacy does begin to look very much like a an Ad Hominem denied with Slothful Induction. You associated my ideas with polygenesis, for the purpose of raising concerns about it…what? Though you don’t say it, it’s clear what you mean. If you are right, then the GA is racist, and I am racist for pushing it forward. Of course, the smart thing to do is to refrain from articulating the obvious implications in order to claim deniability. Honestly, I was pretty surprised when this tactic was first executed on me, but you aren’t the first person to do this.
Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument.
Slothful induction , also called appeal to coincidence , is a fallacy in which an inductive argument is denied its proper conclusion, despite strong evidence for inference. An example of slothful induction might be that of a careless man who has had twelve accidents in the last six months and it is strongly evident that it was due to his negligence or rashness, yet keeps insisting that it is just a coincidence and not his fault. Its logical form is: evidence suggests X results in Y, yet the person in question insists Y was caused by something else.
- It was also interesting to see a Thought Terminating Cliche arise when you, when presented with clear evdience you were wrong, resorted to just saying “that’s your opinion,” rather than actually engaging the substance. I wasn’t even asking you to agree with the GA, but just acknowledge that it was not associated with polygenesis any more than others.
Thought-terminating clichés, also known as thought-stoppers, or semantic stopsigns, are words or phrases that discourage critical thought and meaningful discussion about a given topic. They are typically short, generic truisms that offer seemingly simple answers to complex questions or that distract attention away from other lines of thought.
- Perhaps most interestingly about all this, at least to me, is that this is an example of Racial Doublespeak. Of course you didn’t directly call me a racist. You also have been very polite and kind, except in the insinuation your making of racism. That is the beauty of it. I have to be careful not to react, so I’m not misinterpreted as thte aggressor, and you very politely insist on insinuating that I am racist (or my ideas are racist), without ever directly saying it.
A new language of racial tiptoeing has emerged in recent years, and some say it may be edging close to the linguistic absurdity of the dead parrot skit. It’s a racial doublespeak that sometimes evades more than explains.
It’s a tendency to call out someone or something as racist but to avoid mentioning the actual words “racist” or “racism” while doing so.
This doublespeak seems to have spread everywhere.
This language may be new, but it reflects an old social taboo that discourages many Americans from talking directly about race, especially many white progressives, says Robin DiAngelo, author of “White Fragility.”
- Sadly, I could go on, but I won’t…
A Point of Fairness
Setting the precise argument aside, at center stage here is two things:
- Fair play and fairness.
- Motivations and trust.
Everyone in origins has a view that shares characteristics with polygenesis one way or another. Everyone who affirms evolution shares more characteristics in common with eugenics than any one else. This is irrelevant. The real question is if we share the salient characteristics with it to justify being concerned, which in this case is racism. None of the people we’ve mentioned in our thread do. None of us are putting forward the parts of polygenesis that made it racist, not even Denis L. how specifically affirms “polygenesis.” Yet, this issue is being selectively raised against me. That is not fair.
Why would people do something so unfair? Now we get to question of motivations and trust. It appears as if this charge is being raised as red herring to distract from large mistakes made at BioLogos. Supporting this hypothesis, the only people pressing this case, and pressing it against the evidence, are people form BioLogos.
That is what it looks like from the outside.
Once again, I emphasize that I have a lot of respect for you sticking out this conversation. I know this is not an easy conversation. Dialogue, however, is important. It is not personal for me. I’m not hurt or angry. I’d just like this silliness to stop. I am happy answer any questions you have about my position and how I am working through its implications. However, please do come to me with unalterable answers about my position. At Peaceful Science, it works different that BioLogos. We care more about the questions than the answers. Bring your questions.