August 22, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

The Evolution of Darwinist Propaganda Tactic #8

The Association Fallacy tries to generate bad emotions against a target group by linking it to undesirable groups.


Number 8 in our Baloney Detector‘s list of propaganda tactics is the Association Fallacy: “Associating what you want to promote with something people like, or something you want to criticize with something people dislike.” Darwinians have perfected this tactic. Like everything else in the evolutionary timeline, it evolved this way: abrupt appearance and stasis. This tactic goes way back in the creation-evolution debate.

  • In 1981, Stephen J. Brush wrote, “to require teachers to give serious consideration to creationism is as unjustified as requiring them to teach other doctrines – such as astrology, alchemy and phrenology.”
  • A debater against creation once said, “creationism is as dangerous to science as the Islamic revolution in Iran.”
  • Michael Shermer has made Association an art form, constantly linking creationism to pseudosciences, the paranormal, and kooky ideas.
  • More than one Darwin apologist has stated, “Evolution is a fact, like gravity.”

Now, the Darwin bigots are repeating a new talking point that creationists are like conspiracy theorists. Kimberly Hickok at Live Science explains with DODO confidence, “Why Creationists Are More Likely to Buy into Conspiracy Theories.” She uncritically reports on a “study” from Boston University that implicates both groups with “teleological thinking,” the idea that everything happens for a purpose. The study editors even bring in Voltaire’s silly character Pangloss whom the 18th-century deist used as a punching bag for his anti-religious views. The “study” of about 1400 college students, published in Current Biology, associated those who affirmed belief in creation with some well-known conspiracy theories. Then, the article throws in the fear-mongering tactic:

Growing conspiracism could have severe consequences, Wagner-Egger noted, as conspiracy beliefs are linked with things like vaccine rejection and climate change denialism. People should be careful when following old beliefs, “because those beliefs are based on our cognitive biases,” he said.

“Cognitive biases — like the teleological bias — develop early and are cross-culturally recurrent,” Kelemen said. “Given this, we should probably start intervening earlier if we want to effectively promote scientific literacy and reduce non-scientific mindsets, like conspiracy beliefs, that can promote fear and paranoia.”

Yikes! Stop the creationists before they kill everybody! Intervene in kindergarten if necessary!

Details of how the “study” was conducted, and controls used, were not reported in the article. The paper itself, though, is frank about its anti-teleological bias in the opening sentence:

Although teleological thinking has long been banned from scientific reasoning, it persists in childhood cognition, as well as in adult intuitions and beliefs.

This is patently false. Many branches of science, including SETI, cryptology, archaeology, and engineering depend on teleological thinking. The bias persists all the way to their concluding sentence:

Because teleological and animist thinking are part of children’s earliest intuitions about the world and are resilient in adulthood, they thus could be causally involved in the acquisition of creationist and conspiracist beliefs. However, our results do not rule out the possibility that acceptance of such beliefs could, conversely, favor a teleological bias. Yet, in both cases, the ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘it was meant to be’ intuition at the heart of teleological thinking not only remains an obstacle to the acceptance of evolutionary theory, but could also be a more general gateway to the acceptance of anti-scientific views and conspiracy theories.

At Evolution News, mathematical physicist Dr. Granville Sewell asks, “So, Who Is Doing ‘Pseudoscience’?” He shares a recent example where the pseudoscience label was used against him, and the trouble he had to go through to get his fake-science critics to acknowledge their error. He is not the only one who has had to go to great lengths to correct the smears by Darwinians.

The “study” is worthless. It was concocted to promote Darwinism and to discredit creationism. Surveys like this can easily rig the questions to get the desired results, and omit essential procedures required to avoid arriving at false conclusions. These guys’ dogmatic conclusions preceded their ‘study.’ The mathematical window dressing amounts to bluffing . Notice this biased quote in the paper that admits the Association fallacy: “As a finalist and purpose-driven view of the natural world, teleological thinking has long been associated with creationism and identified as an obstacle to the acceptance of evolutionary theory.” Well, of course! Isn’t it obvious? Holding to a purpose-driven universe is surely an obstacle to acceptance of the Stuff Happens Law.

Looking at the methods described in the paper, the Darwinians only found a very slight to moderate measure of significance to associate believers in creationism with belief in conspiracy theories. Speaking as a lifetime observer of the creation-evolution debate, and a friend of many leading creationists, I can say that conspiracy theorists among creationists are rare, especially among the leading creationist spokespersons. Organizations like CMI, AiG and ICR go out of their way to warn their readers about falling into conspiracy theories. A study that draws conclusions from uninformed students instead of leading lights is bound to arrive at fake-science conclusions.

More egregious in their methods, however, was the omission of controls. They failed to ask participants, for instance, how their own thinking employs teleology. Darwinian reporters and scientists commonly say that such-and-such a trait “evolved to” do so-and-so, like a heart evolved to pump blood, or wings evolved to fly, or the FOXP2 gene evolved to give hominins language. Teleological thinking is rampant in evolutionary theory. It is denied in word only.

Additionally, the study authors failed to ask participants who embraced evolution about conspiracy theories they believe in. They could have asked, for example, questions like: “True of False: creationist groups exist to undermine science,” or “True or False: creationists use science as a cover for religion,” or “True or false: creationists work to reduce science literacy and undermine American leadership in science.” Ask Bill Nye those questions and watch the conspiracy thinking overflow!

The worst fallacy in this study is its philosophical childishness. Committing the either-or fallacy, the authors assume that all teleological thinking is bad science, and the Stuff Happens Law is good science. It’s hard to take these DODO scientists seriously. Lie Science, of course, is always happy to smear creationists any time the opportunity comes along. They are well-practiced in employing all the sins in the Baloney Detector.

Exercise: Parse this article by Stephan Lewandowsky at The Conversation, who buys the creationism = conspiracism Association Fallacy hook, lyin’, and snicker. Find how many propaganda tactics in the Baloney Detector he employs in his short article. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Association: “Teleological and conspiratorial thought share a number of features in common.”
  • Loaded words: “scientific facts about evolution” and “rejection of evolution and the acceptance of its pseudo-scientific alternative, creationism.”
  • Plain folks or Card Stacking: “A chain smoker who is confronted with frightening information about his habit might find it easier to accuse the medical establishment of being an oligopolistic cartel than to quit smoking.”
  • Big Lie: “The new study takes the role of conspiratorial thought in creationism a step further. It suggests that creationism itself could be seen as a belief system involving the ultimate conspiracy theory: the purposeful creation of all things.”







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  • Joe Bova says:

    I have read Sewell’s work and indeed, he is careful to follow all the rules of the current ‘orthodox’ scientific community. While I agree with his technical conclusion that The Second Law of Thermodynamics is not ‘incompatible’ with evolutionary theory, I disagree with that position because it is not true. We seem to cede to the masses who have forgotten that we live in a world where reality (and the Lord) can be very cruel to theory. Since I am not technically a scientist but an engineer, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that evolution is completely impossible because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This conclusion is based on empirical and observable facts that we never see it happen, that I have to deliberately design code in very specific ways to make computers behave the way I want, and I have to construct mechanical and electronic components to stringent specifications for them to function in their intended ‘macro’ environment. However, this is only the obvious stuff (never mind that the complexity of life is orders of magnitude beyond what we can engineer). The more important issue here is in the use of probabilities. Probabilities are not what happens, the are simply mathematical descriptions of what could happen if… They are not even mathematical descriptions of the processes needed to accomplish or describe the necessary tasks. While probability and statistics have their place, they have no real place in describing physical reality. (QM may work in limited context but it is missing the big picture.)

    So from a tautological perspective, evolutionists and the scientific gate keepers believe in both magic and mathematics, whereas creationists believe in God (as the quintessential designer) and use mathematics to describe His Creation, to the best of their ability, that have been created. Who are the real pseudo-scientists?


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