13 November 2007

Of Petards and Retards

Two tales tonight of morons caught with their pants down.

First, poor BarryA at UncommonlyDense. He caught wind of the Blog Readability Test, a tool that uses some unknown criteria to report a web site's "reading level." BarryA thought he would use this little webtoy to go nyah-nyah at UD's nemeses at the Panda's Thumb:
Just for fun I inserted UD and it came back “High School,” which means that the general discussion at this blog is at a high school level. I then inserted Pandas Thumb and it came back “Elementary School.”

Make of this what you will.
Not that this little test actually means anything, but unfortunately for BarryA, he got it wrong anyway. Hetyped in the wrong URL. Pandasthumb.com, an unregistered domain, returns the "Elementary School" result. But the actual Panda's Thumb site, pandasthumb.org, returns "College (postgrad)."

Typical of a cdesign proponentsist, to jump at the first inkling of a conclusion that favors their preconceived notions, without checking to see if the conclusion is at all valid. Did he really expect a site that talks about science all day to return an "Elementary School" rating? Did no warning bells go off at all before he rushed to blog about it?

Other bloggers, as well as commenters on the UD post, have already pointed out his error. In response, BarryA says in the comments:
You are right. Ouch; I’ve been hoisted on my own petard.
*sigh* You lose again, Barry. The saying is "hoist by one's own petard." A petard is a little bomb, characteristic of mediƦval siege warfare. To be hoist by one's own petard means to be blown up by your own tool of destruction. To be hoist on your own petard means, well... very little.

It's a little thing, to be sure, but I like the phrase too much to see it abused like that.

Let's move on to the next stupid, shall we?

Dinesh D'Souza.

*retch*

In his latest screed, D'Souza blames us atheists for spreading lies (LIES, I SAY!) about Christianity:

Have you heard the one about how the dumb, ignorant Christians for
centuries regarded the earth as flat until brilliant scientists like
Galileo came along with their new telescopes and other inventions to
show that it is round? This account of scientific progress can be found
in textbooks and it has also cemented itself in the popular mind.

The only problem with the story is that it is entirely false. It is
a made-up yarn that is supposed to illustrate the so-called war between
science and religion.
D'Souza's one to talk about made-up yarns. Galileo had nothing to do with demonstrating Earth was round; he provided evidence for a heliocentric model of the solar system! Of all the strawmen I've ever seen, this is one of the flimsiest and most disfigured.

Of course, given all the comments to that effect that D'Souza received on his blog, he had to add some sort of response:
Postscript: No sooner did I post than the atheists were in there,
seeking to divert attention from their Flat Earth myth by claiming that
Galileo is actually famous for being the first to demonstrate the truth
of heliocentrism. Even here, they are wrong on two counts: a) It was
Copernicus who advocated heliocentrism more than a half-century before
Galileo and b) Galileo's proofs of heliocentrism were mostly wrong. For
instance, Galileo argued that one reason we know the earth goes around
the sun is because of the ocean tides. Galileo thought it was the
earth's motion that caused the water in the oceans to slosh around!
Actually, the tides are the result of the moon's gravitational force
acting upon the earth. So Galileo was right about heliocentrism, but
largely for the wrong reasons. Count on our "enlightened" atheists to
keep getting their facts wrong.
So instead of admitting his mistake and apologizing, D'Souza has decided that Galileo hasn't contributed jack squat to science anyway. Classy.

There's a big difference between "advocat[ing] heliocentrism" and "demonstrat[ing] the truth of heliocentrism." Copernicus had a lot of fancy-dancy math to show people, but Galileo put forth observable evidence for it. As for that stuff about the tides, way to take one factoid and call it representative of Galileo's entire argument. I... I cannot believe that D'Souza is actually trying to belittle Galileo's contributions to science.

I find this especially amusing in light of the first issue of Dartmouth's new Christian magazine, the "Apologia." You see, they're trying to recast Galileo as a good Christian who deserved to be persecuted by the Church because he hurt the pope's feelings. I wonder how they'd respond if they knew their new hero was just a lucky moron who got on the good side of the atheists who write the history books.

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