New Mexicans for Science and Reason Anything But
Open letter to television station is an example of bad logic and misleading

The New Mexicans for Science and Reason ("NMSR") is a New Mexico organization presided over by Dave Thomas whose purpose, according to their webpage, is to "share the goals of promoting genuine science, the scientific method, and rational and critical thinking." In furtherance of that goal, NMSR claims that "We oppose the use of fabrication, flawed logic, distortion of facts, and pseudoscientific propaganda by any and all groups who twist science to suit their own ends, whether they are creationists, advocates of intelligent design, proponents of the idea that aliens crashed at Roswell, extreme academic cultural critics who deny objective reality, or promoters of unproved claims such as therapeutic touch, psychic "DNA Activation," telepathy, astrology, channeling, precognition, crystal healing, cold fusion, tapping of zero-point energy, and perpetual motion machines." (NMSR apparently forgot to include Darwinian evolution on that list--just an oversight, I'm sure.)

NMSR has jumped into the fray regarding the censorship of the film "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" by KNME-TV on the side of continuing the censorship. In response to a television report on KOB-TV about the controversy, Mr. Thomas has written an open letter to KOB-TV (which is situated on the webpage right below a statement they have apparently prepared supporting KNME).

With all due respect, NMSR has apparently forgotten its own commitment to stand against "fabrication, flawed logic, distortion of facts, and pseudoscientific propaganda" since its letter is full of such things. For example, here are some of the quotes:

  • "I have seen this video myself, and found it to be old-style creationism dressed up in a nice new lab coat." -- This is a nice bumper sticker slogan, but it has no relation to the truth. Creationism starts with the belief that God created and seeks to fit the scientific evidence into that worldview. Intelligent design begins with an examination of the evidence and find evidence of design. It makes no claims about the identity of the designer or how the designer designed. Thus, Mr. Thomas is engaging in the informal fallacy of creating a staw man, i.e., a type of Red Herring because the arguer is attempting to refute his opponent's position, and in the context is required to do so, but instead attacks a position—the "straw man"—not held by his opponent.

  • "I imagine the creationist community lobbied your station to carry an item about KNME. Of course, they didn't tell you they were creationists." -- I don't know if anyone lobbied the station, and neither does Mr. Thomas (note that he says he "imagines" they lobbied). He is guessing. But I can tell you for certain that if any supporters of intelligent design did "hound" the station, they weren't creationists (except in Mr. Thomas' "newspeak").

  • "Creationists desperately fear modern science, as they feel it is incompatible with their personal religion." -- Creationists may (I doubt it), but that has nothing to do with people (like me) who advocate intelligent design. I think I can speak for most people who are accepting intelligent design when I say "we welcome scientific inquiry." If anyone can show how these organisms which are irreducibly complex could have evolved, then we are certainly willing to accept that. But the supporters of Darwinian evolution's efforts in this area have thus far fallen well short of any sort of viable evidence that certain systems are not irreducibly complex or could have arisen by chance (the main mechanism of evolution).

  • "And they're hounding YOU to make them out to be Martyrs." -- Again, Mr. Thomas assumes facts not in evidence. Come on, Mr. Thomas, why not follow your own code of standing against "against "fabrication, flawed logic, distortion of facts, and pseudoscientific propaganda."

  • "the 'science' in this show is on the same level as the pseudoscientific claims that NASA faked the moon landings..." -- On what basis do you make that claim? I am certain that Russell W. Carlson, technical director of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center at UGA; Henry F. Schaefer, director of UGA's Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry; Eugene C. Ashby, a professor at Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Leon L. Combs, chair of Kennesaw State University's department of chemistry and biochemistry; and Dr. James A. Tumlin, an associate professor of medicine at Emory University, all of whom joined in filing an amici brief in a lawsuit regarding textbook stickers in Georgia wherein they called evolution "a theory in crisis" and a "live and growing scientific controversy." Yup, these guys are the types who would claim that NASA faked the moon landings, aren't they?

  • "the producers of the "Unlocking" video also produce Christian films about Easter, the Passion, Hell, etc...." -- So what? This is the informal fallacy of poisoning the well, i.e., "a logical boobytrap set by the poisoner to tempt the unwary audience into committing an ad hominem fallacy." Whether intelligent design is true or false must stand or fall on its own, regardless of who makes it.

  • "the local creationist group, Creation Science Fellowship of New Mexico, had excitedly promoted KNME's showing of 'unlocking' [sic], and is now protesting vehemently since the showing was rescinded;" -- Again, so what? I understand the Nazi party was a avid supporter of Darwinian evolution; does that make evolutionists Nazis? Of course not. Similarly, just because avowed creationists support the showing of this program does not mean that the program is creationism or untrue. This is the logical fallacy of guilt by association, i.e., the attempt to discredit an idea based upon disfavored people or groups associated with it. Fallacy follows fallacy in this letter.

  • "the main claim of the video, that natural processes can't explain complicated living structures, has been clearly and carefully refuted in recent years, with ***major*** publications in Science and Nature..." -- Its funny how argument against a certain point of view can somehow become refutations. If I link to a few articles that argue against evolution does that mean that I have refuted it? Hardly.

    Let me be perfectly clear on one thing--Mr. Thomas may ultimately be correct that Intelligent Design is not true. It may be that Darwinian evolution has within it the mechanisms that would allow for the evolution of the very complex structures and systems that we find in the simplest of cells but merely has not yet discovered those mechanisms, and the stand by those supporting intelligent design that Darwinian evolution will never by able to explain the complexity my be false. But the debate about whether it is true or not needs to be taken up, and letters like NMSR's which is so obviously fallacious and misleading is not a way to engage the debate. Whether Mr. Thomas and his crew like it or not, the debate is coming. I suggest that they stop obstucting and start making their case or they are going to be run over.
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