Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ouch!

In an exchange between PZ Myers and Godless-You-Know-Who, the professor scores a unanimous knockout.

I’m going to single out just one example of Mr Godless’s astonishing lack of comprehension, the example of a hilarious and pathetic remark from one of his colleagues, who said, “can anyone really believe that feminist studies has anything relevant to tell us about ‘the social construction’ of male-female interaction when degree recipients aren’t even required to know the difference between the chemical structure of estrogen vs. that of testosterone, let alone anything about the comparative genomics of the X and Y chromosomes?” My reply was “What kind of geek would think that knowing that estrogen’s C19 is unmethylated while its A ring is aromatic gives him any insight at all into the different behaviors of the sexes?”

His rebuttal?
You see, steroid hormones like estrogen and testosterone do their job by slipping through the plasma membrane and turning on various genes…and different side groups mean that different genes get turned on in men and women. These differing patterns of gene expression produce the physiological and behavioral differences between the sexes.
Zoom, right over his head, and he geekily plods on, compounding the error. I’m sorry, guy, but knowing the methylation state of one of the carbons in a steroid hormone tells me nothing about social and sexual differences between men and women; there’s a whole world of stuff going on between the chemistry and the behavior that emerges. It’s like listening to a typography nerd earnestly explaining what a ‘serif’ is, who concludes that he has now explained all of Shakespeare, and that by demonstrating the irrefutable existence of type he has proven his superiority over me, the guy who doesn’t believe in the alphabet. I think I’ll stand by my belief that I’ll get more insight on the matter by talking to a radical feminist humanities professor (who will recognize that I know my ABCs) than I will wasting my time with the uneducated boy in the print shop.
Now that is a roasting. Stick a fork in him folks, he's done, very well done. The most delicious thing about witnessing such a putdown is that it's occurring in a field in which he'd like to claim to have some special expertise, and at the hands of someone he can't use an appeal to authority against - not from his position of anonymity, at any rate.

PS: The following remark made by Myers in his comment section mirrors findings many others have made in the course of arguments with this fellow:
He’s a very good squinker — great at throwing up a barrage of irrelevant factlets — but he’s not so good on comprehension, or actually listening to what the other guy has to say, and it looks like arguing with him is pointless, since he’s just going to distort everything to fit his preconceptions.
Straw men + Loads of pointless references: that's the Godlesscapitalist formula in a nutshell, and it wouldn't work half as well as it does if those who were most susceptible to the appeal of his fixations weren't so damned lazy and/or unintelligent themselves.