Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blockquoting X

X = Steven Landsburg, from his new book The Big Questions:
It takes a profound ignorance of science to believe that God created the world six thousand years ago. It takes an equally profound ignorance of economics to believe that protectionism--the use of quotas and tariffs to discourage the importation of foreign goods--can make us more prosperous.

It's true that a small number of working scientists manage to embrace some form of creationism, and a small number of working economists manage to embrace some form of protectionism--but in each case we're talking about tiny (though sometimes vocal) minorities. The vast majority of the time, scientific knowledge precludes creationism and economic knowledge precludes protectionism.

There's a difference, though: The case against creationism relies largely on facts about the fossil record and geologic strata, while the case against protectionism relies primarily on logic. The facts that refute creationism are discovered and reported by scientists; the rest of us have to take it on faith that those scientists are being truthful. By contrast, the logic that refutes protectionism is available for anyone to evaluate from scratch.

Therefore it seems to me that the protectionist's position is even less respectable than the creationist's. If you're convinced that most scientists are liars--that everything they say about fossils, for example, is false--then you can be a logically consistent creationist. But you can't be a logically consistent protectionist (p. 51).


Anonymous said...

Not unexpectedly but Steven Landsburg falls into the familiar lie that all creationists believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago. Apparently he never heard of old earth creationists, which is the mass majority of creationists. Such a shame he is so uninformed.

Jeff said...

I would have to agree with the above comment insofar as I have been perplexed in the past that creationism is the logical equivalent of biblical literalism.