Search Results for "egnor"

Dec 18 2014

Egnor Doubles Down on Incoherent Nonsense

Egnor continues his dualist neuroscience denial in two follow up posts, mostly responding to PZ Myers’ take down of his original post. Egnor has also been writing separately about computers, arguing that they have no memory and will never be intelligent (have agency).

In all of these posts Egnor is following the same basic intellectual strategies – use words in a vague and confusing way to befuddle your reader, and assume your conclusion (dualism). Ironically, he writes:

The contemporary criticism of such phrases as “memory is stored in the brain” and “the brain evaluates propositions” and “the occipital cortex perceives images” — criticism made by neuroscientists and philosophers like Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker among others — is in keeping with the salient critiques by ordinary language philosophers who insist that we need to be honest and careful with the meanings of words in our scientific discourse. Ordinary language philosophy in neuroscience is an appeal to conceptual hygiene.

The projection is truly amazing. Science denial is pseudoskepticism – all of the form with none of the actual substance.

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160 responses so far

Jul 19 2012

Egnor Tries to Write about Evolution to Humorous Effect

Science makes predictions. That is inherent to the scientific process. It’s what makes hypotheses testable – they make predictions about what will be observed in nature, about the outcome of experiments, and about future trends and events. Scientific theories are really models that allow us to predict the behavior of the world, and they are judged on their utility for making such predictions, rather than whether or not they are objectively “correct” (because we can’t know that).

This was a simple point I was trying to make, with respect to evolutionary theory, in a recent post on feathered dinosaurs. Egnor, who fancies himself an evolutionary gadfly, has tried to counter my arguments but only manages to create a confusing mess. In my original post I made the point:

After Darwin published his theory of evolution one of the early challenges to the idea of evolution, which includes the claim that all life on earth is related through common ancestors, was that there were significant gaps between major groups of living creatures. Birds, for example, seem to be their own group without a close connection to any other group. They are, of course, related to vertebrates. But if evolution were true then there must be fossil evidence connecting birds to another group, such as reptiles.

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15 responses so far

Aug 09 2011

Still More Misdirection and Illogic from Egnor

Michael Egnor has responded to my prior post in which I outlined his numerous failings in logic and misrepresentations of neuroscience. His response continues to be incoherent, but does offer some further teaching points.

One of the main points of contention is this – what can we infer from the relationship between damage to the brain and resulting neurological signs and symptoms. My position is that, if the mind is entirely caused by the functioning of the brain, then damage to the brain will damage the mind. I maintain that this is true, as far as we can tell from our current technology and understanding of neuroscience.

Egnor maintains that this is not true – that the relationship is “not the least bit predictable.” Further, that this lack of total correlation is evidence for dualism, that the mind is produced, at least in part, by something immaterial. There are both factual and logical problems with his position. To my criticism of his claims, he writes:

Mental deficits — specific defects in reasoning, judgement, planning, memory– are highly variable. One cannot look at a CT scan done after a head injury and predict with any certainty that ‘this person will have an inability to remember numbers’. High level mental function localizes very poorly to specific brain regions. This is odd, if, as Novella claims, the material brain is entirely the cause of all mental function.

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186 responses so far

Aug 05 2011

The Motivated Reasoning of Egnorance

Published by under Neuroscience

If you want to see many examples of motivated reasoning, pay a visit to Michael Egnor’s blog, Egnorance. He’s the evolution-denying neurosurgeon that I have sparred with over the last few years, mostly about evolution and dualism. Motivated reasoning is what most people do most of the time – start with a desired conclusion and then find reasons to support it (humans are very good at that). However, the whole point of philosophy is to rise above this tendency and follow strict rules of logic, while the point of science is similar but also to follow the evidence. Egnor can’t seem to do either, as he rants against non-believers, misinterprets study after study, and attacks those who do not share his particular faith.

A few weeks ago he wrote a response to a blog post of mine about materialism. This is familiar ground, but he does nicely reveal his tactics in the article so I thought I should eventually respond. He starts by misrepresenting the very topic of the discussion:

He put together six assertions that he claims are proven scientifically and thus prove his theory that the mind is caused entirely by the brain.

The materialist theory of mind is not my theory – it is the overwhelming consensus of neuroscientists and the result of over a century of research. But Egnor would have his readers believe it is my own quirky “bizarre” theory. This is, of course, nonsense. It is Egnor who is out on the fringe of neuroscience with his antiquated dualist beliefs. But far more important are the actual arguments themselves (I make this point mainly to demonstrate how Egnor constantly rewrites reality).

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175 responses so far

Jun 27 2011

Egnor Is Back

Remember Michael Egnor – the creationist neurosurgeon who made a second career out of embarrassing himself with nonsensical blog posts over at the DiscoTute’s blog, Evolution News and Views? His crowning achievement on this score, in my opinion, was his argument that if evolution were true brain cancer should result in improvements in the brain.

I haven’t heard from Egnor in a while, but now I learn that he has his own blog, called “Egnorance.” The name is a nice touch on his part – some bloggers have been using the term “egnorance” to refer to Egnor’s particular brand of nonsense. It is sometimes successful to take a term meant to be derisive and adopt it as your own in order to turn it around. At the least it can take the wind out of the sails of your critics. Unfortunately, the content of the blog is a bad as ever.

This came to my attention because Egnor wrote a blog post responding to my recent post about Michele Bachmann’s creationist stance. Egnor (true to his style) thought he could get a blog post out of my use of the term “creationist” by projecting his own intellectual dishonesty. Egnor does provide an excellent example of the apologist form – exploiting any vagueness in meaning to create confusion and the appearance of sinister intent on the part of those with whom he disagrees.

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223 responses so far

Feb 25 2009

Egnor Sinks to New Lows

Published by under Evolution

This is low, even for Dr. Michael Egnor, who has been an active apologist for the nonsensical anti-evolution propaganda over at the Discovery Institute. Egnor cannot seem to resist when he thinks he has caught someone in an error, and so he throws whatever faint whisper of logic or scholarship he has overboard (hardly noticeable, really) and sinks to new lows of intellectual buffoonery.

In this case he is responding to my discussion of the evolutionary tree of life – the fact that the fossil record and genetic evidence support the conclusion that all life is related through a pattern of branching descent. He refers to my summary of the current consensus of scientific opinion as an “astonishing gaffe.”

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105 responses so far

Feb 06 2009

Egnor in Forbes on Evolution

Published by under Evolution

Our favorite creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor, has published his ill-informed and logically-challenged opinions on evolution in a business journal. Darwin’s day is just around the corner (February 12th is the 200th anniversary of his birth and this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of the Species), and so it’s a good time for a creationist smack down. As usual Egnor gets everything wrong. He clearly does not understand evolutionary theory, or simply does not care if his straw men are accurate or not as long as he gets to regurgitate the standard anti-evolution propaganda.

In his article he makes a number of wrong or misleading statements, some in question form. He substitues assertion for evidence, and fallacies for logic. His objections to evolution begin with this:

The fossil record shows sharp discontinuity between species, not the gradual transitions that Darwinism inherently predicts.

Wrong.  First, I must point out that Egnor insists on referring to evolutionary theory as “Darwinism.” As many others have pointed out before, this is a propaganda tactic to attempt to diminish evolutionary theory to the quaint ideas of one guy. It is also misleading, for the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory differs in significant ways from strict Darwinian theory.

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60 responses so far

Jan 15 2009

Sorry, Egnor, Your Pillars Are Still Shattered

Published by under Uncategorized

Michael Egnor, the creationist neurosurgeon who blogs over at the Discovery Institute, has been a busy beaver lately. He has written several entries on his side of the materialism vs dualism debate we’ve been having. I have been reading them, waiting for him to say something new I need to respond to, but mostly he is just reiterating the same points I have already refuted. Putting an old argument in a new form, or citing a new source, does not change the argument nor is it a response to refutation.

But now he has specifically responded to my previous post on the topic (although still not really addressing my points), and so a response from me is in order.

In a post titled, “It’s Time for Me to Unshatter My “Three Pillars of Neuroscience Denial,” Egnor tried and failed to refute my summary of his core logical fallacies.

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75 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

The Mind of Egnor

Published by under Uncategorized

Our favorite creationist neurosurgeon, Michael Egnor, must have had some free time last week. He wrote a spate of blog entries at Evolution News & Views, each one more absurd than the last. Including this one where he serves up a six pack of logical fallacies about the mind and materialism.

And yet he still has not had time to write his promised follow up on Terri Schiavo. He essentially challenged me to a blog-off on this issue, and I obliged. I am still waiting for his response that he claimed he would post in “a week or so” five months ago.

Anyway, he seems to be the designated hitter for the Discovery Institute’s new ventures into neuroscience – their next frontier of anti-materialist propaganda (because the evolution-denial thing is going so well). Egnor has done two things with this most recent post. The first is to string together a series of outrageous logical fallacies in an attempt to argue that the brain cannot entirely cause the mind. The second is to simply co-opt the language of legitimate skepticism and graft it onto his point of view. It fits as well as a nun’s habit on a vulgar construction worker.

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43 responses so far

Aug 15 2008

Persistent Vegetative State – From Schiavo to Egnor

Published by under Uncategorized

Last week I wrote an entry about the Terri Schiavo case, discussing a new published study criticizing the news reporting of this controversial case. The case involved the right to life of a woman in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) and the relative rights of her husband vs her parents to decide her care. Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon who writes for the Evolution News & Views blog, and with whom I have had a long blog debate, mostly about dualism and the nature of consciousness, has responded to my post on Schiavo. Not surprisingly he has taken a different view of the case. He writes:

In my view, the political efforts to save Ms. Schiavo’s life were well-intentioned and completely justified. I believe that many of the medical opinions offered publicly by physicians who favored withdrawal of Ms. Schiavo’s hydration and nourishment were rank pseudoscience. What was done to Ms. Schiavo was an atrocity.

He also offers to have a blog discussion about the topic with me, writing:

A detailed and thoughtful public exchange of views about the Terri Schiavo case by two experts in neurological medicine—an academic neurologist and an academic neurosurgeon who have quite different opinions on this matter—would be very informative. The discussion could take the form of detailed exchanges between Dr. Novella and me on specific aspects of the case, such as the autopsy report, the neurological exams, the nature and reliability of the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state, and the ethical and political issues involved. This discussion extends to many of the issues involving the materialist inference in neuroscience that Dr. Novella and I have debated over the past year.

So here is my first installment. I will focus on the nature of persistent vegetative state and respond to some of the comments of Dr. Egnor.

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18 responses so far

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