My little post about Piltdown on Monday stirred up some interesting reactions in my email inbox. Well, maybe "interesting" is a little generous.
The basic reaction goes like this:
You are wrong. We should pay close attention to Piltdown because it could happen again. Scientists are prone to believe what they assume to be true in the first place.OK, let's review what I actually wrote in my first post. I was trying to make two points. First, Piltdown doesn't mean a thing for modern hominin fossils. Everybody knows that Piltdown is fake, and modern hominin fossils are not fake. Second, Piltdown (like Paluxy) could be a warning against confirmation bias, the human tendency to believe things that we already think are true.
So these email reactions are kind of weird, because I said that Piltdown was a warning against confirmation bias and my critics replied by saying, "You're wrong! Piltdown is a warning against confirmation bias." Somebody's having trouble reading, I think.
The uncomfortable part about Piltdown and Paluxy is that they reveal the same tendency to confirmation bias on the part of everyone. We should be suspicious of everyone. Nobody gets a free pass. You are biased just like every other human being on the planet.
Let's be really clear here: if you're snickering at evolutionists and lapping up everything written by ICR or AIG, you're probably falling victim to confirmation bias. If you're snickering at creationists and lapping up everything published by the NCSE or BioLogos, you're no better. What this debate needs is a good dose of self-examination. Where am I wrong? If you answer that by saying, "I'm not" or "The real problem is the other guy," then you are most certainly part of the larger problem of confirmation bias. Until you get that log out of your eye, you won't be able to help the "other guy."
But hey, I could be wrong, right? By all means, if you think I'm full of it, please continue enjoying your self-satisfaction and demonizing everyone who disagrees with you. It'd be a great idea to send me long emails telling me why I'm wrong and why you're not. And while you're at it, be sure to get into long, pointless arguments with anonymous people on the internet to reinforce how much you're right and everybody else is a bunch of idiots. Yes, that's exactly what we need.
God help us all.
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