Fred On Nothing

There’s an old tradition in the writing business for the writer to declare his interests before stating a strong opinion on a subject. The reason is to let the reader know in advance of the writer’s bias. So, before I get started, I want to state upfront that I have never liked Fred Reed. I mean his writing, not the man, who I have never met. The main reason is I don’t like acts or contrived styles. It makes me think the writer is up to something that is not in the reader’s best interests.

In the case of Fred Reed, his corn pone act is a synthetic attempt to play on the vulnerability of his target audience. His is not a unique act. Lots of middle and late middle aged men adopt this style. It is a passive-aggressive way to avoid being challenged on the assertions. In his case, it is an attempt to signal to a particular audience that he is one of them, without actually having to be one of them. It is intended to deceive and that’s something I find unappealing.

That said, his latest posted on The Unz Review is very disappointing. By that I mean I’m surprised it was posted there at all. The Unz Review is one of the few places willing to post heterodox opinions on complicated and controversial issues. Steve Sailer is an obvious example. Razib Khan is another. Fred Reed’s clumsy and somewhat incoherent column covering very old objections to evolutionary theory from the flat earth perspective seems wildly out of place.

In fact, it looks like troll bait. Ron Unz is a gazillionaire so it is not like he needs the traffic to sell ad space. Maybe he has a soft spot for Fred Reed or is throwing the guy a bone out of pity. The narcotic of minor celebrity can hook even autistic millionaires, so maybe that is the reason Unz host Reed. Putting that aside, what really bugs me about this is the dishonesty of it. Take a look at the introductory paragraphs.

Over the years I have occasionally expressed doubts over the tenets of evolutionism which, perhaps wrongly, has seemed to me a sort of political correctness of science, or maybe a metaphysics somewhat related to science. As a consequence I have been severely reprimanded. The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers. Others, to include Mr. John Derbyshire of Taki’s Magazine, have expressed disdain, though disdaining to explain just why.

In all of this, my inability to get straight answers that do not shift has frustrated me. I decided to address my questions to an expert in the field, preferably one who loathed me and thus might produce his best arguments so as to stick it to me. To this end I have settled on Mr. Derbyshire.

He has the several advantages of being highly intelligent, an excellent writer, ardent of all things evolutionary and genetic, and well versed in them. I would profit by his instruction in things in which I am only an amateur—should he be so inclined. (He may well have other things to do.) To this end, I submit a few questions which have strained my admittedly paltry understanding for some time. They are not new questions, but could use answers. I agree in advance to accept his answers (if any be given) as canonical.

I’ll address the bold portion in order. Fred Reed is a fairly well known crank on the topic of evolution. I’m not a regular reader, but I have seen him referenced as a creationist  many times in other places. It is a hobby horse for him. Put “fred reed creationism” in a search engine and I get 6,900,000 results. Granted, most will just have “creationism” in them, but the point remains. This is his thing.

The “crank” label derives from the first bolded sentence. There are libraries full of books with all the “straight answers that do not shift.” What he lacks the courage to say or the honesty to admit, is he does not understand or accept the science. Instead, he disingenuously shifts the burden for his ignorance from his shoulders onto others, as if his ignorance is the default position.

The second bold section is an outright lie that he surely knows is a lie. He knows John Derbyshire well enough to know his body of work. John has been writing about these topics for a couple of decades, at least. Not only has he written about these topics directly, eh as written about many other who have written extensively on the topic of human evolution. In other words, Fred is either a moron or a liar.

John spent years debating these guys about intelligent design, young earth creationism and Darwin. If Fred Reed has yet to “profit from John’s instruction” by this point, he never will. Again, this is just an oleaginous attempt to present himself as something other than an crank looking for an argument. I’ll also note that again he places the burden to educate him on others. Therefore, if he continues to clutch at his superstitions, it is the fault of others.

The last bold section is an outright lie wrapped in a falsehood. His questions have all been answered thousands of times by thousands of people. He has rejected all of those attempts so there is no reason to believe this one last try by his chosen bogeyman will do the trick. In other words, he does not come to the topic in good faith, but he demands others stop that they are doping and try one more time to educate the ignoramus on a topic about which he refuses to learn anything.

He knows all of this, but he lacks the honestly and integrity to simply say he prefers his own voodoo. I can respect people who prefer their religious explanations for the natural world, as long as they are honest about it. I disagree with them, but if they are sincere and honest about the why and the what, I have no quarrel with them. There is some chance they are right, so there is no benefit in trying to force them to see things the way I see them. That’s not Fred Reed. He’s just a liar.

The rest of the very poorly written piece is a recitation of the same old complaints from the creationist crowd. Done up in the phony-baloney corn-pone style Fred has cultivated over the years makes for painful reading. The only worthwhile take away is he seems to have the boohoos over Derb saying something mean about him. In addition to being a ridiculous phony, Fred Reed is a pussy, it seems.

13 thoughts on “Fred On Nothing

  1. I would love to have more confidence in the science-reason crowd than the six thousand year old earth crowd, but experience shows me the science-reason crowd does more damage. And anyone who would equate science with reason is doing damage to good science.

  2. @marc pisco

    Dale Carnegie, Dude, it’ll help you keep your cool and show you how name-calling is not helpful. Passivee/agressive. Childish. Disingenuous. Insane expectations. Drama Queen. Gee, wonder why people don’t listen to you?

    Just make your case, fella, and let people decide. Some folks take longer to convince about things.

    I found Darwin’s Black Box to be a fascinating read. The main point of the book (Behe is not a “creationist”) is that the story of evolution should have changed dramatically with the advent of the electron microscope, but the story we get is the same old drummers beating the same old drum. The main question he engenders for the reader is why do they do that?

    Another good read besides Behe is Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson, a Berkeley professor also not a creationist. His point is that if mankind is guilty of evolving the way the story is told, what would a prosecutor look for to convince a jury. Such a book might help you to find a way to talk to doubters without pissin’ on em.

  3. @fodderwing

    Such passive aggressive childishness. You have “unanswered questions” because you refuse to learn about the subject you insist on discussing. You put on a conventional and deeply disingenuous schtick that creationists always use. I’ve seen it before, endlessly. I know what comes next. I have zero reason to believe that you’re the one who, finally, after all these years, honestly DOES want the answers he pretends to ask for. I tried like hell to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you can’t sanely expect people to have a lot of patience with that act.

    I have unanswered questions about a lot of things. Anybody who’s not a fool has them. I try to answer those questions by educating myself, not by playing the drama queen in blog comment threads.

    Go read the book.

  4. The second law of thermodynamics puts the lie to evolution. Evolution is atheistic dogma dressed up as science, nothing more. Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, There is no God.” The vituperation coming out of Pisco shows Fred hit a nerve. Read, In The Beginning by Walt Brown.

  5. Marc, this is the defensiveness I’m talking about. I said I have unanswered questions about evolution. You mean you don’t have any? Think about what that makes you if you don’t.

    Thanks for the book info; looking forward to giving it a go. I suppose Richard Dawkins felt a little like Martin Luther in his later years when the Jews summarily rejected his systematic theology of grace. All he could do after that was to persecute the blind idiots.

    Your frustration with those who keep asking questions may have less to do with their obtuseness and more to do with your own threats to treat them as sub-human if they do not readily agree with you. (See paragraph eight of your comment). A Dale Carnegie course could help.

  6. Debating with creationists is like debating with progressives. They always lie. They always argue in bad faith. They don’t give a damn about the truth. They care about apologetics, not truth. They are defenders of the faith.

    They insist on learning biology only from ignorant theologians and random comment threads on blogs, and then complain about the quality of the education they’ve gotten. That’s not the act of a man arguing in good faith.

    Buy and read a used copy of “Climbing Mount Improbable”. It’s a good layman’s introduction written by somebody who actually understands the field — unfortunately, his name is Richard Dawkins and he’s not a very pleasant person sometimes. That’s why I recommend a used copy. No sense paying royalties to a guy who hates you for childish reasons. But he wrote that book before he became a professional atheist ranter. A lot of solid technical people can be fools and swine outside their area of expertise.

    That book predates the genome sequencing revolution, but it’ll give you the basics that sequencing has lavishly confirmed.

    In a nutshell, creationists seem to imagine that evolution is supposed to be a completely random process which somehow magically replicates what an intelligent designer would have done. If that’s not what you really think, either broadly or subtly, please correct me.

    But I do get that impression from what creationists say. And every word of it is wrong. Every single word of it is a mischaracterization of evolutionary theory. Everything about it is a strawman.

    I’ve pointed you to a specific book. I won’t try to recapitulate it here in this little box. There is no need to poorly duplicate that effort. If you read that book and make an honest attempt to understand it, you will have answers to your “simple questions”. If you read it like a feminist, wallowing in emotion and refusing to parse the plain English sentences on the page in front of you, that’s not my problem.

    My personal willingness, or ability, to explain why 2+2=4 has no bearing on the sum of two plus two. NO BEARING. NONE. If you don’t understand that, if you can’t understand the difference between mathematics, mathematicians, and ignorant savages who idolize mathematicians while counting on their toes (three different things), you’re not a man and you can’t think. If I point you to a competent explanation and you start blowing smoke and changing the subject, you aren’t worth anybody’s time to engage with.

  7. There’s a big dif between having one’s questions answered and having them answered satisfactorily. That Fred is still asking is not necessarily evidence that he has ignored the “libraries full of books,” but may only be telling us that the books give unsatisfactory answers.

    I have my own unanswered questions about evolution, but the real lazy wusses in my view are the ones who get defensive when I ask. After reading Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box I thought it best to let him ask the hard questions, I would stick with the easy ones. I have read many answers to his “black box” concept, absolutely none of which seemed sincere or for that matter particularly well thought out. As for my easy questions, those are the ones that really frustrate people as the usual responses can probably best be summued up as “why can’t you just believe, man, like the rest of the smarter set? There is such overwhelming evidence, so many libraries full of books … “

  8. Whatever else Fred is or isn’t, he isn’t a phoney. He’s always been upfront about his life. Fred comes from a mildly prominent Virginia family, but he was born in the coal mining town of Crumpler, West Virginia and spent a lot of his youth in rural West Virgina and Northern Alabama. He has a high regard for the people in the parts of Appalachia where he grew up. The ‘down home’ writing style he sometimes adopts is simply a literary device, used by people such as Joel Chandler Harris and many others.

    Fred has an excellent command of the English language. He is making writing mistakes these days because he was hit in the face with shrapnel in Vietnam and his eyesight has deteriorated. He is now blind in one eye as the result of his latest eye surgery.

    You may not like Fred or the stuff he writes. He may or may not know what he’s writing about. But ‘phoney’ is no more than name-calling

  9. Fred wrote a column a couple of months ago about comparative intelligence and Mexicans (he lives in Mexico with his Mexican wife). His effort to prove that Mexicans in general were as capable as anyone was incoherent. I got to thinking that if I were Mexican I would not want this guy defending my intelligence, except that in my experience Mestizos themselves do not believe themselves to be particularly intelligent–and are not in the least distressed by that state self-awareness, a state which is otherwise forbidden in the US.

  10. I’ve tried Fred on Everything several times, but I never kept it on my Favorites list. I think it’s more his site design than the writing, for me, though.

    I can’t say anything about a persona he uses in his blog, really, because I use one, too. I try to make my “private” stuff like I’m talking BS after a bunch of beers with my old friends, some of whom I knew in Nam. In other words, bursts of extremely foul language and talk of, uh, impolite stuff is only a paragraph away.

    But I don’t want to inflict that upon people in THEIR blog comments. So, does that make me a fake? A hypocrite? Maybe.

    • JD, there’s a difference between being polite and being a gold-plated phony. My office manager is a flaming moonbat, but I’m polite to her, even when she is singing those damned Obama songs at lunch. Fred is a phony.

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