Intellectual Honesty in The Matrix

When I wrote The Design Matrix, I wanted to contribute something to the debate about intelligent design and evolution – an intellectually honest approach. So let me see how well the book holds up against the 10 signs of intellectual honesty:

1. Do not overstate the power of your argument. The Design Matrix clearly does not overstate its case. The book takes a very cautious and modest approach, as can be seen from some of its reviews. The book does not berate or ridicule the reader for not agreeing with the arguments.

2. Show a willingness to publicly acknowledge that reasonable alternative viewpoints exist. The Design Matrix is built around this very acknowledgement. In fact, this serves as the central metaphor of the approach – the Rabbit/Duck illustration explored in Chapter 6.

4. Be willing to publicly acknowledge where your argument is weak. In many places, the book candidly acknowledges weak points when inferring design: I acknowledge that humans have a tendency to project patterns on data that do not exist; I acknowledge that random variation and natural selection can behave as a designer-mimic; I take common evidence for design (the Code and the Machines) and instead of offering it as something powerful, I acknowledge they amount to mere clues; I acknowledge the subjective dimension to the scoring system.

3. Be willing to publicly acknowledge and question one’s own assumptions and biases. 5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong. 6. Demonstrate consistency. All of these points are built into the scoring system –the Design Matrix – where people are encouraged to put their cards on the table by assigning a numerical score to open-ended criteria and then defending that score. In fact, all 10 signs of intellectually honesty come into play here, as scores will only resonate if people perceived the scorer to have a track record of intellectually honesty. Not to mention that the act of scoring can help others determine if intellectual dishonesty is in play.

7. Address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument. The book does not attack any person.

8. When addressing an argument, do not misrepresent it. The book does not misrepresent any argument (to my knowledge). Of course, because of the limitations of space that come with any book, it is possible that someone will claim I did not address some particular topic in enough detail and thus may have missed a point or possible explanation.

9. Show a commitment to critical thinking. I tried to rely on critical thinking as much as possible (although I am sure their is room for improvement). The book clearly draws upon multiple mainstream sources as judged from the reference sections. It weighs the evidence carefully, while trying to examine the “big picture” in a way that is on the look out for multiple cause and effects and it doesn’t engage in any “thought stopping sensationalism.”

10. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when a point or criticism is good. The book clearly acknowledges the good criticisms of irreducible complexity. Furthermore, the book uses several points from both critics Richard Dawkins and Ken Miller. It does not attempt to debunk these points, but instead builds on them.

While the book is not perfect, I think most fair-minded readers will acknowledge that it makes serious steps toward the realm of intellectual honesty.

Advertisements

One response to “Intellectual Honesty in The Matrix

  1. SEARCH FOR WISDOM may be a a simpler and more easily expressed tittle? The ten points made are well chosen.

    My search has led be to the thoughts expressed from Edgar Cayce namely the soul and reincarnation. The purpose of the soul when reincarnation takes place, the self evaluation after death and a bit about heaven.
    Bring together reincarnation with Intelligent Design [God] and evolution from an ancient barren mass of atoms [we call our earth] to all we know today. Every one should be in awe.
    The mystery of atoms, billions of years old, transforming into our bodies and our thoughts, then returning at death to a more primordial state brings me to think that the present debates, ID vs Evolution, my be at a shallow level. Yes? No?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s