Scientific “authority”

Science sigh

Apparently evolutionary science is falling apart. Creationist “scientists” are telling us how modern science has proved Darwin wrong. And they must be right because they are scientists, aren’t they? We can take their word for it, can’t we?

The old “authority” fallacy.

The latest local pronouncement along these lines has been gifted us by  Christian apologist creationists (Thinking Matters). This is an article “Cracks in the Edifice” by Dr. Johnson C. Philip telling us that Darwin’s depiction of evolution as a “tree of life” has been discredited.

The article is rather confusing – but very authoritative. The article assures us that: “The author is a physicist, and has worked in the filed of Quantum-Nuclear physics, particularly on the quark structure of protons, neutrons, and deuterium binding energy.” He’s a scientist – he must know what he is talking about.

Still – I thought I would check him out. A Google Scholar search didn’t reveal any scientific publications by Dr Philips! Very strange for someone with M. Sc. and Ph. D. degrees in physics.

Apologetics & creationist “authority”

However, his internet profile assures us that he has “more than 5000 published articles in physics, electronics, I, IT, theology, and the Brethren Movement. Well, those last two subjects are a bit of a give-away. I wonder why the Thinking Matters blog omitted to mention these amongst Dr Philips qualifications. Philips himself describes his specialities as apologetics and theology not science.

The Creation Wiki entry for Dr Philips is perhaps more accurate. This says he has published more than 50 books and 2500 articles in 6 languages in the fields of theology, apologetics, counseling, and communication. He has also published several research papers in apologetics and information technology as applied to libraries in India.” No mention of physics at all!

According to Creation Wiki on Philips:

“For his PhD he worked initially on the “Changing Fundamental Constants And The Age Of The Universe”, . . . .  He felt that such a work done in a secular University would be helpful for the creation movement. He was able to get many breakthroughs, but had to abandon the work after two years of research due to the prevailing hostility against this subject and its implications for Christians.”

Apparently he “moved on to Quantum Chromodynamics” and  “came up with a model that explained the behavior of all hadrons on the basis of their quark constituents.” OK – but where is this work published?

So Philips may have a Ph. D. in physics but his work has been in Christian apologetics and creationism. His use of qualifications are similar to those of Dr. Jonathan Wells – who was advised by his spiritual leader Sun Myung Moon to study and achieve his Ph. D. so that it could be used in his struggle against evolutionary science. This is common advice given by Discovery Institute fellows to young creationist students.

So how does Dr. Philips use his “scientific authority.” The Thinking Matter article gives an example. The only other examples of his “scientific” writings I can find are along the lines of trying to prove that science can be derived from biblical quotes (eg. Bible and Science)!

Now, I may be being a bit unfair to Philips. Perhaps he did publish his Ph. D. work. If so, I would be glad to be given a reference to it. But, come on Thinking Matters. Isn’t your attribution of scientific “authority” to this article (and being silent about Philips work in apologetics and creationism) less than honest?

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32 responses to “Scientific “authority”

  1. Still – I thought I would check him out. A Google Scholar search didn’t reveal any scientific publications by Dr Philips!

    Thanks for that. I knew Creation Wiki has him down as a Christian apologist, but I was unaware his claim to be a scientist may be bogus.

    If he has not published papers and have a Ph.D. I’m amazed and appalled. It would imply that the work for the Ph.D. wasn’t up to scratch and couldn’t even be published in a lower-tier journal. (I strongly favour the approach where students publish papers, then re-work them into thesis chapters with appropriate extra material not included in the papers.)

    The only other examples of his “scientific” writings I can find are along the lines of trying to prove that science can be derived from biblical quotes

    Oh, dear. Maybe I’l stop wasting time writing this that thread. In any event, he hasn’t bothered to address any of the points I have raised!

    Isn’t your attribution of scientific “authority” to this article (and being silent about Philips work in apologetics and creationism) less than honest? On a somewhat related note, I have commented that judging from what he has presented, he lacks the background to present an authoritative account of phylogenetics. (To which he accused me of attacking him… sigh.)

    One skill he seems to be good at is quote-mining! (I still can’t get over the mentality that this must involve.)

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  2. The New Scientist‘s chickens coming home to roost?

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  3. Alison,

    There is a bit of NewScientist‘s chickens coming home to roost in it. I pointed out the error of that, but like every other point I’ve and others have made, he’s simply ignored it.

    This guy’s tactics in that thread are, to polite, at odds with someone who is presenting a scientific point honestly. Start by presenting his argument as assertions. Let others present points contrary to his assertions. Ignore these points. Quote-mine from the answers of one poster and claim that because the out-of-context quotes can be misconstrued to mean the same as his assertions, his assertions have been “proven”.

    He might as well just say “I’m right because I say so”, without compounding it by “justifying” himself by quoting others out of context and so on.

    Ken was saying that he tries to present himself as an “authority”. One habit of his strikes me. He claims that others have “asked questions”, as if he were “an expert” others were learning from, when in practice the others made statements, knowing that their statements more accurately represented the reality that his. It’s something I haven’t seen before and a little disquieting.

    I have to admit that I still think the psychology of some of these people must be intriguing to some. After all, what makes some people so persistently act dishonestly like that, even to themselves in effect? Reading his latest article, I can’t but help think that he has a very high opinion of himself.

    Part of me doesn’t like hitting on people like him, despite what I think of their arguments, as part of me wonders if some of the more extreme cases suffer from some sort of psychiatric disorder. (I feel differently for “plain” creationists, in that it’s clear these people have simply taken up believing something nonsensical; but I feel a few go beyond this into what to me feels more like illness.)

    Anyway, enough warbling on for one night…

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  4. Philip may have read my post. He seems to have responded by including that he “specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archaeology,” in his statement of authority.

    OK, he’s no longer keeping that secret.

    But he has also upgraded his scientific “credentials” to claim he “has worked extensively on the inner quark structure of protons and neutron.”

    That is – he has added the word “extensively.”

    I think we have even more reason to ask Philip where he has published this work – to provide us with references.

    Otherwise he just comes across as a “Walter Mitty” personality. Certainly his response to comments on his blog post indicate he does not have the capacity to discuss scientific issues like the 2nd law of thermodynamics. He just avoids them in a typically apologetics manner.

    Come on Thinking Matters. A simple answer to that question would avoid some obvious implications.

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  5. He does more than avoid the 2nd law, he avoids every criticism! Every last one. His entire argument is one big bluff. The original arguments has no substantiated points in it, and when you press him, his responses are not to address the criticism, but to avoid them. His latest move has to use the classic ploy of ignoring some of the points (those that are too easily to be proven true to a “lay” audience) and to turn the others into questions in reply to avoid addressing them…

    It’s just one big game of bluff, basically.

    His credentials do read like a “Walter Mitty” personality, I was thinking that myself. Too “good” to be true, etc. Amateur “stretching” would be the very kindest way of looking at it.

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  6. In need of an excuse for procrastination, I did a scirus.com search on the gentleman. Only 6 returns, none of them in the scientific literature. ‘Amateur “stretching”‘ at the very least.

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  7. I believe the “publications” he is referring to are WWW articles, blog pieces, etc. If I totted up all the things I’d have written on the WWW, I’d have a huge number of “publications” too 🙂

    I’d like to see him put up a bibliography of peer-reviewed papers in the science literature.

    (Edit to previous post: ‘original arguments’ should read ‘original argument’.)

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  8. [off-topic]

    Look what stuff.co.nz filed under “Science”:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/1747239/Questions-Darwinism-cannot-answer

    Ugh.

    This makes me, again,want to see universities get rid of theology departments. They don’t belong in publicly-funded, secular, universities to start with. But to see this sort of thing added to the mix, you really say that they need to go. This from someone who is supposed to be a professor is excruciatingly embarrassing.

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  9. Why oh why did I follow that link? Quite spoiled the warm afterglow of dinner (home-made pizelle with tomatoes+basil & teeny pork & herb meatballs, mmmmmm).

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  10. Oi, gimme some of that 🙂

    I love good Italian food. Never tried to make pizzele. Might be a bit trickier than my more basic cooking I suspect… 🙂

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  11. Pingback: Hidden religious agendas « Open Parachute

  12. What is it with Stuff.? They seem to periodically do this sort of thing with opinion pieces. Is there someone in the background with their own religious agenda?

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  13. no, pizzelle (however they’re spelled) are dead easy. It’s just a basic pizza dough (though I added parmesan to mine…) Once it’s risen, you roll it out into a sausage shape about 3cm diameter, cut into 2cm pieces, roll those into balls (sort of) & then roll out & drop into a frying pan with some olive oil & fry until golden & a little puffy. Serve with a good tomato & basil sauce (& whatever else takes your fancy). Nom nom nom.

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  14. Sounds nice 🙂

    Tongue-in-cheek (or, perhaps, not?): I can’t help but wonder if Sunday’s doco on Prime Egomania might be useful background to understanding Johnston! Either way, it looks an interesting documentary.

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  15. I still think he behave more like Walter Mitty than someone who is intelligently egotistical.

    An intelligently egotistical person would not describe themselves as a physicist “with extensive experience” when they haven’t a single scientific publication to back it up.

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  16. I wasn’t meaning that he would be intelligently egotistical—it’s obvious he hasn’t much genuine intellect—but that he has a very elevated opinion of himself and his ability that he presents to others.

    You have a point, though, you could look at it as being a wishful dreamer, a hopeless wanting rather than egotism in the more usual sense.

    Make what you will of this: http://trinitytheology.org/?p=91

    His recent posts on Thinking Matters manage to confuse the notion of what “theory” means, would surely rules out that he has any really notion of science. (Strictly speaking I guess we should include the possibility of any notion of science left, but the trouble with this is that I just can’t imagine anyone previously schooled in science in “losing” something as basic as what “theory” means.)

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  17. So he claims he’s a physicist and we have a photo of him sitting in front of an electron microscope to prove it. Yet he has never published anything scientific and won’t say what scientific institute employs him.

    I think I will get a photo of me down at the local church (maybe even put my shirt on back to front) and then claim myself to be a theologian with extensive expertise in apologetics.

    But then again – I don’t think I could be that dishonest.

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  18. It would be interesting to write to the university that he claims to have his degrees from (it’s a real university) and ask for his transcripts or if any one with his name ever attended the place 🙂 After all, he is having a negative effect on their reputation and institutions generally are touchy about that…

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  19. Could be worth doing. I had a look at the websites but couldn’t find graduate information.
    Would require someone to put together the information he is claiming.

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  20. It occurs to me that in many presentations, where there is hosting of contributors, the host usually presents the guests credentials or at least vets the guest’s credentials if the guests presents them. I wonder what people would consider an acceptable standard for blogs might be, especially given the opportunity for hyperbole, even outright fraud?

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  21. John the Skeptic

    “Johnson C. Philip” sounds an awful lot like a pseudonym. Does the name “Philip E. Johnson” ring a bell with anyone?

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  22. John – I guess the immediate reaction is to confuse him with Philip Johnson – the ID guru. However, I think Johnson C. Philip is really just a sad “Walter Mitty” type of person. Lately he’s been browsing blogs and leaving innate comments along the lines “I am a published Christian Apologist based in India. It has been good to visit your blog.”

    Have a look at some of the comment links.

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  23. The thought crossed my mind, too, but I agree with Ken.

    Here’s another way of looking at it. There is an young(er!) Indian blogger who has a few guest posts on his blog written by his father, Johnson C. Philip. The kid’s blog is called “The Blog Of Dysfunction: Just Another Maladjusted Genius” and is hosted at thephilip.org. He seems a mixed-up kid to me. He openly says he struggled a bit at times (good on him for being open about it), and seems to have moved out of a conservative Christian viewpoint (e.g. http://thephilip.org/2008/12/26/no-longer-a-dysfunctional-christian/ — this is worth reading by the way), claims to be (then) an internee doctor and is apparently considering training to work in Psych.

    e.g. of his Dad’s guest blogs: http://thephilip.org/2007/06/26/blogging-in-indian-languages-3/

    This, in turn, links to one of JCP senior’s (many!) blogs: http://sarathi.info/ It’s in Hindi, but the title translated using google is: “Sarathy
    Hindi, India and Shastri Crnsevk Philip of Jesus Christ of intellectual Shastrartha blog!” (Translation: http://tinyurl.com/c2nvex)

    Anyway, the thing is the whois database shows the owner of thephilip.org, sarathi.info and calvinschool.info (apparently the latest name for his apologetics school) are a Dr. Johnson C Philip at the Calvin School of Apologetics, Anand Villa, Cochin University PO,
    Kochi, Kerala, India.

    (JohnsonCPhilip.com is “hidden” behind PrivacyProtect.org. Kerala is one of the southern states of India, on the west coast; been there myself.)

    While it’d be easy to pass off a fake name to WHOIS, I’d be inclined to think more along Ken’s lines.

    Either way, this should keep you busy for a while!

    Ken: He has many blogs, etc., of his own pointing at his courses. Those short comments who mention may be a form a blog spam where the link on his name will point to his courses.

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  24. John the Skeptic

    @Ken & Heraclides: Thanks for the information. I had never run across his name before, and the similarity sounded a little suspicious at first blush. On review, I agree with your assessment.

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  25. Well, what would you know. Bnonn, has “banned” me again. But not before launching a string of straw-man ad hominem attacks on me. (Which, of course, I can’t reply to.)

    There is a real pattern to this. Bnonn comments to me, then gets all upset that his reply is not getting his way, throws a tizzy, accuses me of things I haven’t done in his hot-headed way, then declares he is going to ban me.

    Perhaps he should stay out of the comments section if he isn’t able to handle having his comments replied to in the negative?

    He just seems to get wound up over not getting his way, as far as I can see.

    On another note, Johnson still hasn’t defined what he means by ‘theory’. I know how he has defined it in a couple of his “works”, but I was hoping that he would speak for himself (I don’t like trying to speak for others, even if it comes from other work they have written).

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  26. This is a real pattern for the creationist blogs. Just look at what Uncommon Descent (those great proponents of “academic freedom”) have done with DaveScott (one of their own writers!) – banned him and converted him into a “non-person” because he wouldn’t go along with the party line that Darwin was a racist. (He committed an even greater heresy by pointing out the racism of some Christians). Reminds me of how Stalin used to behave. And of course they routinely delete comments and and commenters.

    Heraclides – here’s how I think of it after also being banned from “Thinking Matters”:

    1: Feel good about your claim on the high moral ground. After all, it is Bnonn who has transgressed morally by behaving like Stalin, no matter how he justifies his behaviour;

    2: Recognise that “Thinking Matters” is largely irrelevant. Perhaps you have been wasting your time and efforts. I am currently going through the exercise of ranking NZ blogs. My sample size is 80 and I included “Thinking Matters” out of interest (not because I believed they should be in that “top” 80). All the indicators show them near the bottom – which means that they would probably rank even lower if I included a larger number. So why waste time commenting there. Neither Stuart, Bnonn or Johnson Philip will engage honestly with the discussion. And statistics indicate there can’t be many other readers.

    3: The only value of debating these people is the hope that others will see you comments. There is little hope of that happening on “Thinking Matters” for the above reason. (If I am wrong about this I am sure there will be a host of comments here from those other readers to correct me). I can comment by posting here on any argument they promote which is worth engaging with. And I can do it without censorship. I believe that Ian should also have taken that approach using his own blog. It would have got more expose than comments on “Thinking Matters.”

    4: The whole exercise does show the advantages in having one’s own blog or similar medium. And of not relying on the honesty or integrity of those who wish to discredit a scientific approach. There are actually quite a few NZ Christian blogs and the apologists have been very active, in their own not very effective way. Christians seem to have behaved quite pro-actively with the web. We need a lot more pro-science blogs.

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  27. Thanks for the thoughts Ken. Hope you’re not getting me wrong, I’m not particularly upset. I’m partly posting here as this thread has been read by a few of those over there and partly because I’m bemused at such a reaction to such a minor issue. I didn’t reply a few days thinking to let him cool off, but instead he must have wound himself up.

    If I do start a blog, it is unlikely to chase after creationist issues in the same way. I’m not interested in “bashing” people, but try correct fallacies I run into. Someone else has to state the fallacies in the first place, and I think this activity is best suited to comments in the blogs that raise the fallacies. (Sorry if that sounds overly thought out, but I’ve thought through it a while back.)

    Mike, if you read this, the section “A theory does not represent a proof” on page 12 of http://www.scribd.com/doc/3079331/What-Is-Proof has Johnston defining ‘theory’ in passing. You’ll want to read the section (just a couple of paragraphs), but the essence is “… theories are only unestablished hypotheses …”. I’d write more on this, but I don’t to take too much space here. The thing is, you can draw a number of conclusions by dissecting that section.

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  28. @Heraclides

    I stopped bing called a kid a looooong time ago. Might have to do with being 26, and a doctor running a non profit hospital and working among leprosy and HIV affected people 🙂 but thanks. (I could be lying though, how would you know?) 🙂

    As you rightly infer, I have not only left conservativism, but faith in general, in very loose terms i would be called an agnostic.

    I loved the discussion when it remained scientific, the problem with going on and on about the said dr philip sounding like a fraud is that suppose he manages to get a paper published tomorrow, or worse sends you a textbook of physics he co-authored, it would be rather embarrassing. and would take attention away from the real problem; bad science.

    Just because one has a PHD in physics or is published or is a Mensa certified genius does not mean one will not have false beliefs or bad science the rolls of creation “science” societies have some very distinguished scientists in them, doenst make junk gold.

    Ciao

    schizo

    PS: no, i do not care enough to prove to you that i am in fact me, and not my alleged father and a “real’ doctor, and not a quack, because you see, who i am does not invalidate the logic of what i say.

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  29. Hi Schizo – thanks for commenting.

    I don’t think anyone is questioning you genuineness. Far from it.

    However, there is a problem with Philip. He is writing for a local anti-scientific blog site ( – one that has, for example, attacked my scientific abilities despite my degrees and publications). Philip has highly recommended himself as a “physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons.”

    Now, when I want to check out a scientist I look for their publications and I didn’t find any for Philip. That is highly unusual for a Ph. D. in a science subject.

    I can appreciate that his Ph. D. research may have come to nothing but he was still awarded a degree. Or perhaps his heart wasn’t in it because he was far more interest in proselytising his apologetics than recording his research results – that sort of thing happens. (It is certainly not his ability or willingness to communicate as he has written large amounts on apologetics). If I was uncharitable I might suggest that his Ph. D. is one of the Micky Mouse ones one can get for $200 – but I don’t think so.

    So we have a situation where the anti-science NZ blog is promoting Philip as a scientific authority (and attacking scientists with well substantiated scientific credibility). And yet there is no evidence of Philip’s scientific background – let alone credibility. In fact his writing on that blog indicate a certain lack of understanding of science (eg. his understanding of thermodynamics, the nature of scientific theory, etc.).

    Now, I can appreciate that his self advertisement as a scientific authority may by self delusional or egotistical (most credible scientists don’t present themselves that way). But I do question his behaviour in doing this and contributing to an anti-scientifc blog. (I realise, of course, that there are many people who will unscrupulously lend their Ph. D.s to an unworthy cause – the Discovery Institute publishes a list of 700 such people).

    I also question the morality of the people running this blog who can take advantage of his personal quirks to present him as a scientific authority and try thereby to win respectability for their anti-science messages.

    So, thanks again for commenting. I hope you don’t feel personally attacked. We all have quirky relatives who can be embarrassing at times.

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  30. kim,

    worry not, I do not feel attacked at all, I have been blogging for about five years now, and so have a rather high threshold.

    Dr. Philip’s stand is not an embarrassment for me, even though i might not agree with it.

    More so, because I grew up “suffering” from his long hours in the lab. My passion for science and truth as a whole are a direct result of the awe of science he inspired in me as in hundreds of youngsters he has mentored over the years.

    I do not wish to defend him, he is capable of that, but just a clarification: scientific institutions and research in a country like India work quiet differently from that in the west, and I assure you it is not uncommon to find scholars who have never been published. Particularly those who were active in research ten to fifteen years ago.

    The only upside of there being creationist scientists is that dissenting voices are quiet an essential part of the scientific process, and since evolution is the most fundamental presupposition ( the holy grail) of biology, no one but them dare to oppose it, and that is rather sad.

    In a debate in which both parties have made up their minds and will not be confused by facts, it is the spectators who lose.

    ciao

    blog on

    schizo

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  31. Schizo – one thing I learned very quickly in my career is that research results don’t really exist unless they are published. They are lost with the individual otherwise. Which of course raises ethical questions about the scientist involved – if society is paying them their results belong to humanity as a whole.

    Consequently, while it might be true that some Indian scientists are not publishing their research, this really is very bad for India and the rest of humanity. Their work is a complete waste of time. (I must say my Indian colleagues always seemed to be very keen on publishing).

    However, I think you have confirmed that Philip has not published any scientific papers. This makes his claim of extensive work “on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons.” very dubious.

    Perhaps you can describe his research to us (or encourage him to) and specifically what his results were. Although, I agree he should be quite capable of speaking for himself and he is welcome to comment and participate in discussion here without the fear of arbitrary censorship and banning (a reason I can’t communicate with him on “Thinking Matters” where he is currently contributing).

    Thanks for your response – it was appreciated. I however, did find the last reference to “creationist scientists, etc. rather disingenuous. Because these people do not participate in the scientific process. Quite the contrary they attack it from outside.

    The fact is that evolutionary science is an extremely dynamic area. There are a lot of intensive debates – no shortages of difference – and that’s quite normal for a healthy science. In the end these issues get decided by mapping ideas, hypotheses, theories and speculations against reality. Every genuine scientist accepts this.

    In this particular debate it is only the creationist side that has “made up their minds and will not be confused by facts.” And, in fact they are largely ignored by spectators – at least in New Zealand where about 80% of the population accepts evolutionary science in polls.

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  32. Schizo,

    You will always be a “kid” to someone (much) older than you 😉 It doesn’t quite have the meaning that I think you’re ascribing to it: it can just mean someone younger. You’ll call interns “kids” one day, trust me 🙂

    Nice to hear that you’ve moved on from the religious scene.

    I couldn’t “stick to the science” in my replies, as it were, because Johnson wouldn’t address any of the science points I raised!

    I wasn’t questioning Johnson’s credentials in quite the way I think you mean. I tend to focus on people’s words, their claims, not the person; your comment can be read to imply I was doing the latter, but I can assure that wasn’t my aim. My comments were mainly directed at the by-line he used in his articles on ThinkingMatters and the manner he presented his “articles”. I tried to make clear that any reference to larger ideas (“fraud”) were more by the way of skepticism.

    You should also remember my “target” in this isn’t Johnson, but other readers of ThinkingMatters. Since Johnson would’t response to the science points I made, it seemed better to point out to other readers that this approach was non-scientific using non-science terms (after all, they may not be interested in the science anyway). I did try explain this.

    He presents his material as if it were “authoritative”, but it should be clear to all that he’s just bluffing (he gets even the basic terminology wrong). It’s a bit dishonest to do this to readers that may not be as easily able to judge as someone with the appropriate background; nothing personal, but when I see that sort of thing, I’m inclined to point it out to other readers, so that have their eyes open as it were.

    In his by-line he claims he is currently is a physicist, i.e. at this point in time is employed as a scientist, and does a bit of apologetics “also”, as if that were a side-line.

    Material on the web, however, would indicate his main, if not full-time, “job” is to run an apologist course and I can find no reference to him holding a scientist post.

    Despite your “hints”, I am still uncertain that he has worked as a scientist, which is a different thing to working in other roles within the science industry. The long gap between his undergraduate degrees (1970s) and his Ph.D. (1991) usually indicates someone who has worked as a technician, or possibly teaching fellow, who much later has “bundled” some of his work for a scientist into a Ph.D.

    He started with the Brethren (late 80s) well before he completing his Ph.D.

    I know of other Indian scientists, and they certainly publish, some of them quite frequently. I don’t think Indian scientists have some special system where they rarely publish. I think it’s pretty much the same as the rest of the word where scientists who rarely publish are those within commercial operations or are employed by some government research institutes (not universities) where there is little motivation to publish.

    With all of this in mind, and in the absence of solid evidence, I still favour the idea that it is more likely he was a technician or teaching staff member (i.e. not a scientist), and that he has not probably has been involved in science (much) over the last 1o-15 years.

    Certainly, I find it hard to believe that any scientist would “forget” something as basic/fundamental as the meaning of the term ‘theory’ and still be a scientist. Likewise, it’s not like a scientist to refuse to address points raised.

    Excuse my over-long response, but the point is that none of these are meant to be personal attacks, it’s just they make his claim not “ring true” to me.

    By the way, textbooks aren’t always written by research scientists nor do they necessarily make the author an authority in the sense of “long knowledge in a subject”. It’s fairly common for undergraduate textbooks in particular, or works very close to the author’s Ph.D. studies, to be written by first-time lecturers or post-docs at the start of their careers. (For example, I originally planned to do this myself as a post-doc as there were very few textbooks in the area that I wanted to teach.) Senior research scientists writing textbooks towards or at the end of their careers are another matter, of course but what gives them their credibility is their many years of excellent research publications.

    Ken wrote:

    So, thanks again for commenting. I hope you don’t feel personally attacked. We all have quirky relatives who can be embarrassing at times.

    I have a relative who is (was) an evangelistic-style minister…!

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