Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Stove full of shit   posted by Razib @ 6/06/2006 10:05:00 PM

I'm not ignorant of David Stove, though antipodean intellectuals seem always to be big fish in a small pond. His criticisms of "Darwinism" I'd assumed to be rather ignorant and uninformed from what samples I'd seen, but regular and longtime reader Robert Spiers keeps alluding to Stove as if he had something important to say. I assume that longtime readers of this weblog have some discernment, so I figured why not, I picked up David Stove's Darwinian Fairytales and so far I've read 50 pages on my spare time today. From the preface:

I do deny that natural selection is going on within our species now, and that it ever went on in our species, at any of which anything is known. But I say nothing at all in the book about how our species came to be the kind of thing it is, or what kind of antecedents it evolved from. Such questions strike me, in fact, as overwhelmingly uninteresting: like questions (say) where the Toltecs came from, or the Hittites, and how they came. They came, like our species itself, from somewhere, and they came somewhow. The details do not matter, expect to specialists....

I think this is a good taste of the type of person David Stove is, at least judging by the subsequent 50 pages. First, not only does he deny the science, but it seems that on a fundamental level the science bores him. It seems anything beyond the sight of his armchair bores him.

So far, the first 50 pages pages of Darwinian Fairytales has convinced me of the cogent analytic clarity and empirical solidity of Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box. Being who I am, I will no doubt finish this book, but, I am about as likely to say anything more (or listen to anything more from someone who takes this pile of shit seriously) on this as I am to review Ken Ham's The Lie: Evolution. At least Ken has sincerity on his side.

Shorter Stove: My common sense says x, therefore x is true, Q.E.D.

Addendum: I am sparing you Stove's points against Darwinism because some of them are as sophisticated as the toddler's-philosophy-of-the-universe. For Stove admirers, do you know what spontaneous abortion is?

PS: John Derbyshire's review of Stove 5 years ago is where I first encountered him. This bit is important, "Often Stove falls into the philosopher's disdain for mere facts." This is perhaps excusable in a grand system builder who is looking for the big picture, but that is not what Stove seems to be. A negative skeptical stance is easy, easy enough that you don't usually need to ignore facts.