Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let's Assign Teams to Anti-Materialist Windbags

When there's a complex task that needs doin', and you have people to throw at it, what do you do? You form a team, just like you do in the military or at a company or in a volunteer organization. So why don't we do it for anti-materialist windbags?

By anti-materialist I mean (for example): evolution deniers of all stripes; people uncomfortable with a materialistic view of the mind; homeopathic medicine types, just to name a few. In short, anyone who makes appeals to non fact- or reason-based arguments (or attacks on fact and reason) to support their cause.

I had this thought while reading Steven Novella's Neurologica Blog, and it occurred to me that Novella seems to have assigned himself as Michael Egnor's personal tormentor. I love reading Novella's dissections of Egnor, because that's what they are. Novella doesn't so much argue with Egnor (when he appears in person) as use him as a third person subject. Reading Novella's essays, one is left with the following impression: "Ladies and gentleman, witness the subject's chain of fallacies in Argument A; subject displays a history of contact with the Discovery Institute and has been defeated similarly in the past. Witness the predictable ad hominem reaction when I administer Argument C."

So what's stopping us from organizing ourselves into teams to neutralize the cognitive pollution these people spew? By that I mean: write about them on your blog, do news searches and leave comments on any article about them, and above all keep them honest to statements they've made in the past, the usefulness of which we've seen recently with Rick Warren.

The first thing to do is create a Top 10 list of anti-materialists. Give your two cents in the comments! Focus on how much harm they can do. So Kent Hovind would not be on it, because he's a jailbird. But Anne Coulter might be, because even though she's not principally known as a creationist, she has a huge audience and can do more to reinforce people. It's not just about creationism either - would Jenny "Inject Me With Silicone But Not MMR" McCarthy be on the list? Important point: for the religion-based anti-materialists, it's difficult for many atheists to gauge the impact that figures have in the faith community. For those atheists who have religious family members, we need your input! So who should be on the Anti-Materialist Ten Most Wanted? Once we have that we can start volunteering for teams.

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