And just because Progressive Blogger Paul Vincent over here has pissed me off thoroughly, I'm going to give you all a short lesson in how science really works, and why Mr. Vincent is full of it. Both of those things will be remarkably easy to do.
I have, for a long time, been thoroughly annoyed by scientific know-nothings who, when it comes to biological evolution versus creationism or "Intelligent Design," like to brag about how they are "open-minded" or "tolerant of different opinions" or some such rot. What they actually mean is that they are stupefyingly ignorant of even the basics of what they speak, and have no intention of changing that. Let me explain.
First, there is of course nothing wrong with being open-minded. In fact, that's clearly a good thing when you're about to embark on some sort of scientific research program. Being open-minded just means you're willing to entertain all (realistic) possibilities, that you'll examine all of the results fairly and honestly, and that you're willing to follow where the evidence leads. So far, so good.
So you theorize, and you hypothesize, and you experiment and start collecting results and data and ... a funny thing starts to happen. You slowly start getting less open-minded and less tolerant of some of the possibilities, simply because you're now in a position to reject them. As more evidence comes in, you start to see that some of the earlier theories just don't hold water, and you immediately and ruthlessly toss them. In short, you become less tolerant of what is now obvious rubbish, and this is a good thing -- it's exactly what should be happening.
And when you've finally completed all of your research, and run all of your experiments, and collated all of your data, it's the moment of truth -- the moment when you sit back and (gasp! horrors!) draw a conclusion!! That's right -- with all of that data in front of you, it's now your responsibility to decide what explanation best fits the data, and to discard the others. In other words, you are no longer open-minded nor tolerant for what has been shown to be total nonsense.
But imagine a researcher who collects all this data that points unmistakably to a particular conclusion, who sits back and says, "Well, I don't know, I just want to stay open-minded and tolerant of other viewpoints. I don't want to be dogmatic or anything."
Given all of the data, this person is not being open-minded -- he's being dishonest and intellectually lazy. Open-mindedness is fine when you're starting out on your research program; it is not fine after it's all over, and you have all of the data you need, and you still refuse to take a stand. That's not tolerance. That's bullshit.
It's the same kind of bullshit flung about by Mr. Vincent who claims to be open-minded and tolerant and willing to listen all points of view, despite the wealth of evidence around him. Mr. VIncent doesn't even need to run his own research program. He's welcome to examine the overwhelming evidence for biological evolution at his local bookstore, or library, or online, or wherever. But, apparently, this is too much of an effort for him. Instead, Mr. Vincent can spout inanities about how he is a "philosopher":
I am a philosopher and as a philosopher I take arguments on their logical and conceptual merits. I analyze them and validate their attributes.
No. Mr. Vincent, you are most emphatically not a philosopher. You are a bullshit artist of the highest calibre. (Sadly, Mr. Vincent seems to be using an updated definition of "philosopher" which, these days, means someone who is breathtakingly ignorant of a field of study but insists on pompously pontificating on it, anyway.)
For Mr. Vincent, in the midst of the mountains of evidence that support biological evolution to still describe himself as "open-minded" doesn't mean he's still generously open to an objective examination of the evidence.
It means he's too fucking lazy to pick up a book and learn something about the subject.
Coming soon: I explain to "philosopher" Paul Vincent the meaning of the word "atheist."
AFTERSNARK: I see that the discussion has been joined by none other than Ms. Polly Jones, who is taking a sabbatical from whining about my language to whine about my apparent fear of philosophy. Whatever delusion keeps you happy, Ms. Jones.