RE: [asa] Intellectual Honesty

From: James Patterson <>
Date: Sun Oct 26 2008 - 22:18:15 EDT

I like your 10 signs of intellectual honesty. Those are consistent with
Christianity. However, the website:

has exceeded its CPU quota. Have you got another site with the same info?
I'm giving a talk on Critical Thinking soon, is why I ask.


From: [] On
Behalf Of Nucacids
Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2008 8:36 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Intellectual Honesty


This essay was submitted to today and has sent over 30,000 hits
to my blog and is now being picked up by other blogs. Some of the comments
on reddit are noteworthy. Here is one that was expected:


" <> monesy: What I find ironic, is that
Mr Gene, a champion of the moronic religious pseudoscience of
ID/Creationism, knows anything about intellectual honesty."


This clearly shows the power of stereotype. There is nothing ironic at all
about me writing that little essay. My guess is that Monesy's eyes saw
"intelligent design" and his mind translated that as "moronic religious
pseudoscience of ID/Creationism." Once the equation was set up and applied,
there is no need to think about things. Notice that the essay doesn't cause
him to pause and ponder if his stereotype applies; instead his steretype
causes him cognitive dissonance.


It then gets more interesting. Someone points out that monesy is engaging
in an ad hominem attack and he replies:


"I am not attacking Mr Gene. I am simply stating a fact: ID creationism is a
moronic religious pseudoscience.

ID is moronic idea because it has neither a strong rational foundation, or
empirical evidence that supports it. It is essentially baseless.

ID is religious because it requires a deity (i.e., the designer).

ID is pseudoscience because it is completely unscientific, yet is marketed
as a valid alternative to a scientific theory."


None of his points about "ID" apply to me, yet he has me as a "champion" of
these points.


Then someone else weighs in:


"you have to remove moronic from the discussion as it is insulting to the
other party resulting in ad hominem. insulting the other party is
intellectual dishonesty. just leave it as religious pseudoscience."


LOL. I appreciate the input, but it never occurs to these fellas that I am
not a proponent of "religious pseudoscience" ("morinic" or not). Monesy's
claimed focused on me.


Monesy then comes back for more:


"ID is a rationally absurd argument for the reasons I have stated above;
hence, the adjective I have chosen, moronic, is quite appropriate

i.e., I am explicitly addressing the substance of the argument behind ID,
not the person behind the argument/belief. The ad hominem charge against me
is completely unwarranted.

ID is moronic, religious pseudoscience."


The guy has no clue as to the arguments I make, yet finds himself completely
comfortable as casting me as a "champion" of such "moronic" beliefs.


It's funny how an essay on intellectual honesty can elicit such
intellectually dishonest attacks.


There is one main lesson the ID debate has taught me - be very cynical about
the so-called power of reason.


- Mike Gene

----- Original Message -----

From: Nucacids <>


Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:58 PM

Subject: [asa] Intellectual Honesty


When it comes to just about any topic, it seems as if the public discourse
on the internet is dominated by rhetoric and propaganda. People are either
selling products or ideology. In fact, just because someone may come across
as calm and knowledgeable does not mean you should let your guard down and
trust what they say. What you need to look for is a track record of
intellectual honesty. Let me therefore propose 10 signs of intellectual

1. Do not overstate the power of your argument. One's sense of conviction
should be in proportion to the level of clear evidence assessable by most.
If someone portrays their opponents as being either stupid or dishonest for
disagreeing, intellectual dishonesty is probably in play. Intellectual
honesty is most often associated with humility, not arrogance.

2. Show a willingness to publicly acknowledge that reasonable alternative
viewpoints exist. The alternative views do not have to be treated as equally
valid or powerful, but rarely is it the case that one and only one viewpoint
has a complete monopoly on reason and evidence.

3. Be willing to publicly acknowledge and question one's own assumptions and
biases. All of us rely on assumptions when applying our world view to make
sense of the data about the world. And all of us bring various biases to the

4. Be willing to publicly acknowledge where your argument is weak. Almost
all arguments have weak spots, but those who are trying to sell an ideology
will have great difficulty with this point and would rather obscure or
downplay any weak points.

5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong. Those selling an
ideology likewise have great difficulty admitting to being wrong, as this
undercuts the rhetoric and image that is being sold. You get small points
for admitting to being wrong on trivial matters and big points for admitting
to being wrong on substantive points. You lose big points for failing to
admit being wrong on something trivial.

6. Demonstrate consistency. A clear sign of intellectual dishonesty is when
someone extensively relies on double standards. Typically, an excessively
high standard is applied to the perceived opponent(s), while a very low
standard is applied to the ideologues' allies.

7. Address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument.
Ad hominem arguments are a clear sign of intellectual dishonesty. However,
often times, the dishonesty is more subtle. For example, someone might make
a token effort at debunking an argument and then turn significant attention
to the person making the argument, relying on stereotypes,
guilt-by-association, and innocent-sounding gotcha questions.

8. When addressing an argument, do not misrepresent it. A common tactic of
the intellectually dishonest is to portray their opponent's argument in
straw man terms. In politics, this is called spin. Typically, such tactics
eschew quoting the person in context, but instead rely heavily on
out-of-context quotes, paraphrasing and impression. When addressing an
argument, one should shows signs of having made a serious effort to first
understand the argument and then accurately represent it in its strongest

9. Show a commitment to critical thinking.

10. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when a point or criticism is good. If
someone is unable or unwilling to admit when their opponent raises a good
point or makes a good criticism, it demonstrates an unwillingness to
participate in the give-and-take that characterizes an honest exchange.

While no one is perfect, and even those who strive for intellectual honesty
can have a bad day, simply be on the look out for how many and how often
these criteria apply to someone. In the arena of public discourse, it is not
intelligence or knowledge that matters most - it is whether you can trust
the intelligence or knowledge of another. After all, intelligence and
knowledge can sometimes be the best tools of an intellectually dishonest

- Mike Gene


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Received on Sun Oct 26 22:18:40 2008

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