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Tags anti-science , creationism , Dean Koontz

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Old 11th December 2013, 11:24 AM   #1
TimCallahan
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When did Dean Konntz become a creationist?

Perhaps this thread belongs more in religion and philosophy; however, since it involves a popular author, I decided to start it, at least, in this forum.

Last night I finished one of the light books I use as bedtime reads. It was Breathless by Dean Koontz, published in 2010. The book has several flaws, among them the fact that it takes a long time to build up, then has to rush to a sort of deus ex machina conclusion in too few pages at the end, without tying up all the threads in a satisfying manner. Another flaw is that the villains of the piece are simply too evil-because-they're evil-because-they're-evil to be believed.

However, the worst thing about the book, something that surprised, shocked and saddened me, was Koontz's incredibly stupid and dishonest attack on the theory of Darwinian evolution. He puts in the mouth of one of his main protagonists, presented as a mathematician specializing in chaos theory, a bunch of pseudo-mathematical hogwash to the effect that evolution in impossible and even says that the fossil evidence doesn't support it. This attack is on pages 350 -352. Here's one of the quotes from the bottom of page 350 and the top of page 351:

Lamar shook his head. "They say - here are fossils showing the horse in its stages of its evolution. But they're only assuming the fossils are related. These fossils may more likely be of different species instead of stages of the same one. They prove nothing. The other specie became extinct. The horse didn't. And the assumption that these fossils are arranged in the correct order, showing progression in certain features, can't be supported with evidence. Neither carbon dating nor any method of fixing the period of a fossil is precise enough to support that arranged order. Again, they've been assumed to belong in that order, but mere assumptions do not qualify as science.

There are so many falsehoods in the paragraph above that it's hard to know where to start in debunking it. However, as bad as that is, it's not the entirely of Koontz's attack on evolution and science. Here's another gem of pseudoscience from the top of page 352 Lamar goes on to say:

" . . . But the tiniest worm on earth could not have evolved from a one-celled organism in four billion years even if there had been a mutation in every one of those millionths of a second."

Koontz does not bother to support this assertion, any more than he bothers to support another assertion he puts in the mouth of this character in the middle of page 351, that Darwinian evolution offends "virtually every mathematician who has seriously thought about it."

I was so grievously offended by this pseudo-science crap that I doubt I will be able to ever be able to enjoy another Koontz novel again. What is particularly damaging about this is that unsophisticated readers may well assume Koontz knows what he's talking about and believe this steaming heap of creationist dog_ _ _ _.
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Old 11th December 2013, 11:51 AM   #2
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After having read a few of his books (too many of them), I am not surprised. He's an okay writer, but most of his books are the same recycled crap, and I've noticed the good/evil simplistic crap in each one. Not surprised at all about the creationism, though this story sounds more blatant than the past ones.

There was a pretty funny characterization on Squidbillies of Koontz...
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Old 11th December 2013, 12:33 PM   #3
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People that read Koontz novels already believe the woo in most cases. Koontz writes about woo and his readers, mostly of limited intellect, swallow the premise without question.
I suggest stocking your library with better writers of that style fiction. Try Robert McCammon or Peter Straub, much better writers IMO.
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Old 11th December 2013, 04:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by sloinker View Post
People that read Koontz novels already believe the woo in most cases. Koontz writes about woo and his readers, mostly of limited intellect, swallow the premise without question.
I suggest stocking your library with better writers of that style fiction. Try Robert McCammon or Peter Straub, much better writers IMO.
In the past, I've never had problems with the supernatural aspects of his books. I just assumed it was a horror aspect. Also, a lot of his villains in previous books were excessively over the top, i.e. evil because they were evil. However, in those other works he did develop the character to some degree. One of his villains in Breathless is a high powered attorney who, with no previous development of his character, hires a hit man to kill both his wife and his own son. This is simply too ridiculous. He could easily divest himself of his wife - we aren't given a satisfactory reason why he detests her enough to hire someone to murder her - by divorce, or, better and simpler yet, just keep her around while he also plays the field. The idea that he'd have his own child killed is absurd without some extensive build-up of his character.

The same is true of the other master villain, who shows up at his estranged twin brother's farm, supposedly for a reunion, then murders him and his wife, so he can assume his brother's identity. He's doing this so he'll have a safe haven from which to ride out the coming disintegration of both government and society. However, we are never told why the whole system is about to implode. He should have been able to manage that in a book that's over 300 pages long. Like the other villain, this one is evil because he's evil. To make things worse, he, an apparently super logical person, rapidly degenerates and ends up blowing himself up because he is being haunted, presumably by the vengeful ghost of his brother - or is it something else. Koontz never ties that one up either.

Frankly, were a novice writer to try to sell the manuscript of Breathless, he either (a) couldn't get an agent to represent it or (b), in the case of those rare publishing houses that still accept un-agented manuscripts, it wouldn't make it past the slush pile. In my opinion he was coasting when he wrote this one. It was guaranteed sales because of his name. He won't be able to keep pulling crap like this. As I said, even without the creationist crap, it's a very flawed piece of work.
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Old 11th December 2013, 05:53 PM   #5
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Stupid Creationist Konntz!
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 11th December 2013, 06:34 PM   #6
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I haven't read that one yet, but I'm not surprised. Seems like a lot of Koontz's work lately has a definite Christian angle. I'd almost rather have the antagonist being "evil because they're evil" than the suggestion I've picked up from some other books (Darkest Evening of the Year being the first to spring to my mind) that the bad guys are evil because they lack faith.
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Old 11th December 2013, 08:12 PM   #7
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Heh, I'm reminded of a scene from Family Guy. Brian is driving along a quiet road at night and accidentally runs over a guy walking by the side of the road. He stops the car and runs out to help the guy, and asks him, "Are you Stephen King?" The guy replies, "No, Dean Kootnz." At which point Brian gets back in the car, backs over the guy, then drives off.
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Old 11th December 2013, 08:17 PM   #8
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I'm not a big fan of Koontz, but I have to ask: Is there some reason to think Koontz is a creationist other than one of his characters being one?
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Old 11th December 2013, 08:28 PM   #9
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I found this:

Quote:
I can walk in the rose garden, watch the joyful capering of my dog and see the indisputable work of God. The key is beauty. If the world is merely a complex and efficient machine, beauty is not required. Beauty is in fact superfluous. Therefore beauty is a gift to us. If we were soulless machines of meat, the survival instinct would be all we needed to motivate us. The pleasures of the senses ó such as taste and smell ó are superfluous to machines in a godless world. Therefore, they are gifts to us, and evidence of divine grace. The older Iíve gotten, the more beauty, wonder and mystery I see in the world, which is why there are ever more of those three things in my books.
This is in an interview with a Catholic newspaper as apparently he converted to Catholicism. No idea why he became a Creationist too. Is the Pope a Creationist?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 11th December 2013, 09:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I found this:

This is in an interview with a Catholic newspaper as apparently he converted to Catholicism. No idea why he became a Creationist too. Is the Pope a Creationist?
Many right-wing American Catholics are creationists too, since they subscribe principally to the American political religion of Christianism, for whom creationism is a core tenet of the faith. See: Pat Buchanan, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich (convert & fake creationist). This is a union forged in the anti-abortion and sexual politics struggles of recent decades.

Last edited by hgc; 11th December 2013 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 11th December 2013, 09:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
I'm not a big fan of Koontz, but I have to ask: Is there some reason to think Koontz is a creationist other than one of his characters being one?
I'd have said the same thing if it weren't Koontz doing the characterisation. Better authors give their characters their own personalities. Lesser authors paint their own personalities onto their characters.
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Old 11th December 2013, 09:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
I'm not a big fan of Koontz, but I have to ask: Is there some reason to think Koontz is a creationist other than one of his characters being one?
This particular character, one of the chief protagonists in the book, appears to be voicing the view of the author, particularly the way the scene is laid out and its position at the climax of the book. A vague and lame rebuttal to his views is proposed and knocked down in typical straw-man fashion.

Oh, BTW, the two strange creatures, Puzzle and Riddle, seeming to represent angelic innocence, can morph their hind legs to go from a digitigrade leg and foot, found in cats and dogs, to a human plantigrade at will, even though this would involve total reworking of the leg's bone an muscle structure. At the very end of the book, despite the fact that the two have tails and are covered with beautiful white fur, it turns out that their genome is fully identical to that of human beings.
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Old 11th December 2013, 09:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I found this:



This is in an interview with a Catholic newspaper as apparently he converted to Catholicism. No idea why he became a Creationist too. Is the Pope a Creationist?
Originally Posted by hgc View Post
Many right-wing American Catholics are creationists too, since they subscribe principally to the American political religion of Christianism, for whom creationism is a core tenet of the faith. See: Pat Buchanan, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich (convert & fake creationist). This is a union forged in the anti-abortion and sexual politics struggles of recent decades.
Holy crap! Is this what modern atheists actually believe?
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Old 11th December 2013, 09:59 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Holy crap! Is this what modern atheists actually believe?
Is what what they believe?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 11th December 2013, 10:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Is what what they believe?
Hrm. Let me back up: How would you define "Creationist" in your post below?

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
This is in an interview with a Catholic newspaper as apparently he converted to Catholicism. No idea why he became a Creationist too. Is the Pope a Creationist?
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Old 11th December 2013, 10:15 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Hrm. Let me back up: How would you define "Creationist" in your post below?
A Creationist is someone who denies evolution by natural selection as the origin of species, as per the OP's description of a character in a Koontz novel.

It is my understanding that Catholics do not usually deny evolution by natural selection, and my understanding is informed by having been raised one myself and going to a Catholic school where we were taught evolution by natural selection.

I am still not at all sure how to charitably interpret your comment "Holy crap! Is this what modern atheists actually believe?" in a way that allows it to make any sense within the context of the thread.

I pray for you to enlighten me.
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"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 11th December 2013, 10:47 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
In the past, I've never had problems with the supernatural aspects of his books. I just assumed it was a horror aspect. Also, a lot of his villains in previous books were excessively over the top, i.e. evil because they were evil. However, in those other works he did develop the character to some degree. One of his villains in Breathless is a high powered attorney who, with no previous development of his character, hires a hit man to kill both his wife and his own son. This is simply too ridiculous. He could easily divest himself of his wife - we aren't given a satisfactory reason why he detests her enough to hire someone to murder her - by divorce, or, better and simpler yet, just keep her around while he also plays the field. The idea that he'd have his own child killed is absurd without some extensive build-up of his character.

The same is true of the other master villain, who shows up at his estranged twin brother's farm, supposedly for a reunion, then murders him and his wife, so he can assume his brother's identity. He's doing this so he'll have a safe haven from which to ride out the coming disintegration of both government and society. However, we are never told why the whole system is about to implode. He should have been able to manage that in a book that's over 300 pages long. Like the other villain, this one is evil because he's evil. To make things worse, he, an apparently super logical person, rapidly degenerates and ends up blowing himself up because he is being haunted, presumably by the vengeful ghost of his brother - or is it something else. Koontz never ties that one up either.

Frankly, were a novice writer to try to sell the manuscript of Breathless, he either (a) couldn't get an agent to represent it or (b), in the case of those rare publishing houses that still accept un-agented manuscripts, it wouldn't make it past the slush pile. In my opinion he was coasting when he wrote this one. It was guaranteed sales because of his name. He won't be able to keep pulling crap like this. As I said, even without the creationist crap, it's a very flawed piece of work.
I see what you are saying and believe that publishers will release anything a writer puts his name to if it brings in the dough. I stopped reading the Jack Reacher novels because they became too over the top for my suspension of dis-belief to overcome. Jack Reacher has jumped the shark and I haven't read a Koontz novel for 20 years because the pattern of suck was already inherent at that time.
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Old 11th December 2013, 11:03 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
A Creationist is someone who denies evolution by natural selection as the origin of species, as per the OP's description of a character in a Koontz novel.

It is my understanding that Catholics do not usually deny evolution by natural selection, and my understanding is informed by having been raised one myself and going to a Catholic school where we were taught evolution by natural selection.

I am still not at all sure how to charitably interpret your comment "Holy crap! Is this what modern atheists actually believe?" in a way that allows it to make any sense within the context of the thread.

I pray for you to enlighten me.
Ah, ok, so that is what you believe. I guess the language has moved on, since the last time I checked... There was a time, I would have said that the Pope was obviously a Creationist, seeing as how a creator god as the literal origin of all things is a fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church--even if they do also accept evolution by natural selection. In that context, your question about the Pope's stance on Creationism struck me as ignorant to the point of absurdity.

But clearly your definition is so far divergent from mine that there's no real basis for judgement. I'll keep that in mind going forward.
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Old 11th December 2013, 11:12 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Ah, ok, so that is what you believe. I guess the language has moved on, since the last time I checked... There was a time, I would have said that the Pope was obviously a Creationist, seeing as how a creator god as the literal origin of all things is a fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church--even if they do also accept evolution by natural selection. In that context, your question about the Pope's stance on Creationism struck me as ignorant to the point of absurdity.

But clearly your definition is so far divergent from mine that there's no real basis for judgement. I'll keep that in mind going forward.
It is a pretty common usage of the term and it surprises me that you have never come across it before. Or is this surprise at this particular usage merely a pose?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 11th December 2013, 11:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
It is a pretty common usage of the term and it surprises me that you have never come across it before. Or is this surprise at this particular usage merely a pose?
Nope, the surprise is sincere. As to your perception that it's pretty common usage, I've already acknowledged that the language seems to have moved on since I last took a good look at it. Beyond that, I suspect we're each suffering from a mild case of "nobody I know voted for him!"
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Old 11th December 2013, 11:44 PM   #21
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I've enjoyed a bit of his stuff. No further interest in him.
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Old 12th December 2013, 06:19 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
In the past, I've never had problems with the supernatural aspects of his books. I just assumed it was a horror aspect. Also, a lot of his villains in previous books were excessively over the top, i.e. evil because they were evil.
This has been a persistent failing of his, he's unable to create believable characters. However more recently, since he developed greater religious tendencies, it's gotten worse and his writing has descended to fan-fiction levels.
Frankly his prose style is turgid, his characterisation stereotyped and just terrible), his plotting formulaic and simplistic and his injected moralising irritating.
His work has been laden with god bothering and social conservative elements for many years, at least since 1990, though he's grown noticeably further to the right (he's now a Romney supported and contributor) and embraced the traddies (and derided Vatican II)..

There's also his denials of the earlier erotica he (allegedly) wrote in the '70s and now denies.

Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
<snip> However, we are never told why the whole system is about to implode. He should have been able to manage that in a book that's over 300 pages long.
This has also been a failing of his pretty much since he started; I remember the first book of his had a plot that utterly fell apart because he left out the relativistic effects of interstellar travel. He doesn't think his plots through and often misses simple resolutions to problems that are obvious to readers.

Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Frankly, were a novice writer to try to sell the manuscript of Breathless, he either (a) couldn't get an agent to represent it or (b), in the case of those rare publishing houses that still accept un-agented manuscripts, it wouldn't make it past the slush pile. In my opinion he was coasting when he wrote this one. It was guaranteed sales because of his name. He won't be able to keep pulling crap like this. As I said, even without the creationist crap, it's a very flawed piece of work.
He could always just openly service the xian demographic, they seem to be willing to consume any crap offered to them. Maybe he'll do his own version of Left Behind.
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Old 13th December 2013, 11:11 AM   #23
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Apparently Koontz got his "math disproves evolution" crap from a mathematian named R. Webster Kehr, a Mormon who also believes Einstein's special theory of relativity is false. Here's a blurb from his website:

It turns out that Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity and his photon theory are both false. Webster's experiments while at Sprint Corporation (which proved you cannot detect the motion of our earth towards the constellation Leo by using a laser beam) proved that both of these theories are false.

Both of Webster's books can be found at:
Tesla Physics Website: Physics Book and Mathematics Book

Webster is also an expert on evolution and considers the theory of evolution to be mathematical nonsense. In truth, much of the money which supports the ludicrous theory of evolution comes from those who profit from the pharmaceutical industry money pie. When people believe in evolution they are more likely to use drugs than Mother Nature when they get sick.

ETA: After watching as much of the video interview as I could stomach on the website at the link above, I went to Kehr's "cancer tutor" website. Not only is this guy against the theory of evolution and Einstein's special theory of relativity, he believes that cancer can be cured by drinking beet juice and carrot juice, and by taking Laetrile. So, I wonder what we will see in the future from Koontz. Will he next attack relativity? (Actually, I see from post # 22, above from catsmate1, that, in ignoring the relativistic effects of interstellar travel, Koontz has essentially already done this). Or will he write a supernatural suspense thriller about a Satanic cabal controlling Big Pharma and suppressing heroic independent doctors, who are secretly curing their patients' cancer with beet juice, carrot juice and Laetrile?

ETA 2: I also went from the link above to Kehr's Tesla website were I found the following (bolding added):

Everyone knows that photons exist. No less than Einstein and Planck said they exist. The sun creates photons, light bulbs create photons, etc. etc. Nothing is more certain in physics than the existence of photons.

The problem is that in the 1990s, in experiments done at the Sprint Corporation (which were conducted to try to solve a problem in fiber optics), it was shown that the photon theory of light is false.

Using a high-powered laser, combined with the laws of celestial mechanics, it was shown that photons do not exist.

But the scientific community was not interested in the truth (they rarely are) because they would rather worship Einstein than admit the truth.

One reason "scientists" (as they call themselves) don't want the photon theory to go away is that they want Nichola Tesla to be ignored because Einstein and Tesla were at opposite ends of theoretical physics.

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Old 13th December 2013, 12:56 PM   #24
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Ah, Kehr. A walking example of crank magnetism; denies the reality of quantum mechanics and relativity, decries evolution and peddles cancer quackery (Bob Beck's variety). He also dabbles in mathematical stupidity, such as his claim that the sets of Natural and Real numbers are the same size.
Unsurprisingly Kehr is an engineer.
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Old 13th December 2013, 01:21 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Ah, Kehr. A walking example of crank magnetism; denies the reality of quantum mechanics and relativity, decries evolution and peddles cancer quackery (Bob Beck's variety). He also dabbles in mathematical stupidity, such as his claim that the sets of Natural and Real numbers are the same size.
Unsurprisingly Kehr is an engineer.
Okay, so what is it about engineers (at least some of them) that makes them gravitate towards woo? Many of the creation "scientists" often cited by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) are engineers. That I can understand, since they see things as being made and don't really understand the idea of biological growth in any sophisticated manner.

Then there was this book I read parts of several years ago, written by engineers, arguing that most of the miracles in the Bible were explained by the orbit of Mars being far more elliptical in the past, with the result that it made several near passes at the earth. These resulted in a tsunami in the Red Sea, causing the sea to withdraw first, allowing the Israelites to cross the now dry seabed, followed by the tsunami itself, which drowned Pharaoh's army. Another pass caused the earthquake that destroyed the walls of Jericho. Yet another, hundreds of years later, swept a swarm of bolides into the earth's atmosphere. They missed Jerusalem, but hit Sennacherib's Assyrian army of 185,000 men, totally annihilating them.

So what is it about engineers that makes them susceptible to woo?
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Old 13th December 2013, 01:42 PM   #26
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Rubbing my hands in glee over my illegal download of a Koonz novel that caused a minor gastric protruberance and immediate deletion of that author from my library. Lee Child is next.
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Old 13th December 2013, 03:03 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
So what is it about engineers that makes them susceptible to woo?
As an engineer, I would say that it is the hubris that grows as you begin to understand things that no one around you seems to understand. Engineers feel that they work harder in school and take harder classes and learn things that non-engineers could never grasp. They go back to their dorm rooms to find their liberal arts majors planing a weekend of debauchery while they are working out a schedule for babysitting their lab experiment that counts as half their grade.

After that they just assume that everyone around them is stupid so they have to figure stuff out on their own.

I was blessed to have mentors that warned me of this. We worked with good-ole-boy developers and I was told to never underestimate the intelligence of a guy who couldn't form a proper english sentence to save his life but would be making millions on the land deal we were helping him with. It was a good lesson to sit back and think more about what makes someone "smart".
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Old 13th December 2013, 06:25 PM   #28
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I was starting to get that vibe as early as 2006 or so... I'd tell you the book, but I've forgotten. Anyway, I've pretty much tossed Koontz aside for better authors at this point. For the record, I love supernatural stuff in books... I'm only offended when the author starts to relate it to the real world in a way that gets political or religious and creates extremely unsound arguments in the process.

Koontze has crossed that line a few too many times, IMO.

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Old 13th December 2013, 06:51 PM   #29
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Along with the above suggestions of hubris, a design-oriented mindset, and lack of awareness of biology, I'd also guess not being very conscious of the unreliability of humans as sources of information about the world; it wouldn't generally be an issue in their fields.
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Old 14th December 2013, 03:31 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Okay, so what is it about engineers (at least some of them) that makes them gravitate towards woo? Many of the creation "scientists" often cited by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) are engineers. That I can understand, since they see things as being made and don't really understand the idea of biological growth in any sophisticated manner.

Then there was this book I read parts of several years ago, written by engineers, arguing that most of the miracles in the Bible were explained by the orbit of Mars being far more elliptical in the past, with the result that it made several near passes at the earth. These resulted in a tsunami in the Red Sea, causing the sea to withdraw first, allowing the Israelites to cross the now dry seabed, followed by the tsunami itself, which drowned Pharaoh's army. Another pass caused the earthquake that destroyed the walls of Jericho. Yet another, hundreds of years later, swept a swarm of bolides into the earth's atmosphere. They missed Jerusalem, but hit Sennacherib's Assyrian army of 185,000 men, totally annihilating them.

So what is it about engineers that makes them susceptible to woo?
That is an interesting question............. OK not all engineers (or even that many) are bible thumping idiots who think they've proved Einstein wrong but the profession does have a noted link to woostery.

I believe it's down to knowing enough science to make mistakes through hubris but not knowing enough of the theoretical background to understand how little they really know. This also seems to apply to computer science/software engineering.

Hence the Salem Hypothesis.
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Old 14th December 2013, 05:55 PM   #31
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Engineers and business majors sort of go hand in hand. In reality, you'll find that most of the trade related fields are a bit more religious, among other things. I don't know why the difference is there, but I've certainly noticed it.

Oddly, people in the arts (art, music, etc.) are as unlikely to be traditionally religious as those in the sciences... but there's another quirk there. Artists often tend to be wooish, but in an unconventional fashion (such as latching onto wicca or new agey stuff even though they were "raised" Christian). Also, this doesn't tend to be as true of specifically commercial and graphic art programs (a trade... where the student expects to actually be able to get a job some day... although that is actually becoming debatable in some programs) -- they often tend to be more conventional.

I suppose that with a trade based system, there's a lot more dogma and a lot less discovery in the way that you pursue it. That's the best explanation I can come up with. You only learn the basics of theory (often without encountering direct proofs) and an emphasis on practice. Admittedly, I'm not familiar enough with engineering (vs science) in particular to know if this is as true there as it is in my own fields (fine art, and later graphic arts), but I suspect the same sort of a relationship may apply, at least to a degree.

Of course, all this is purely stereotypical nonsense that can only apply to trends rather than individuals, anyway. It is a rather interesting subject, however. My experience of it is purely anecdotal -- no statistics or proof to show (sorry).

(apologies for continuing an already derailed topic)

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Old 15th December 2013, 03:19 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Okay, so what is it about engineers (at least some of them) that makes them gravitate towards woo? Many of the creation "scientists" often cited by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) are engineers. That I can understand, since they see things as being made and don't really understand the idea of biological growth in any sophisticated manner.

Then there was this book I read parts of several years ago, written by engineers, arguing that most of the miracles in the Bible were explained by the orbit of Mars being far more elliptical in the past, with the result that it made several near passes at the earth. These resulted in a tsunami in the Red Sea, causing the sea to withdraw first, allowing the Israelites to cross the now dry seabed, followed by the tsunami itself, which drowned Pharaoh's army. Another pass caused the earthquake that destroyed the walls of Jericho. Yet another, hundreds of years later, swept a swarm of bolides into the earth's atmosphere. They missed Jerusalem, but hit Sennacherib's Assyrian army of 185,000 men, totally annihilating them.

So what is it about engineers that makes them susceptible to woo?
Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
As an engineer, I would say that it is the hubris that grows as you begin to understand things that no one around you seems to understand. Engineers feel that they work harder in school and take harder classes and learn things that non-engineers could never grasp. They go back to their dorm rooms to find their liberal arts majors planing a weekend of debauchery while they are working out a schedule for babysitting their lab experiment that counts as half their grade.

After that they just assume that everyone around them is stupid so they have to figure stuff out on their own.

I was blessed to have mentors that warned me of this. We worked with good-ole-boy developers and I was told to never underestimate the intelligence of a guy who couldn't form a proper english sentence to save his life but would be making millions on the land deal we were helping him with. It was a good lesson to sit back and think more about what makes someone "smart".
Possibly that, I did have one colleague who was the only British example of a bible-belt fundamentalist I have ever come across - to the extent that he allegedly denounced people in a meeting for heresy when someone joked that Dutch are tall due to the evolutionary pressures of flooding.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
That is an interesting question............. OK not all engineers (or even that many) are bible thumping idiots who think they've proved Einstein wrong but the profession does have a noted link to woostery.

I believe it's down to knowing enough science to make mistakes through hubris but not knowing enough of the theoretical background to understand how little they really know. This also seems to apply to computer science/software engineering.

Hence the Salem Hypothesis.
I know several and they seem to take a "scholarly" approach to their job - the person I mentioned above was highly intelligent and academically able, but there seemed to be a rigid hierarchy of authorities: it seemed that what he had been taught earliest had precedence unless it contradicted something he'd been taught earlier. And the bible being true was the fundamental axiom. He was pretty good at computer coding and electronics, as there isn't that much in the bible about that and his lecturers were probably some of the best in the country at the time.

Some of the other engineers I work with who have odd beliefs* tend to be in the computer coding area, and have an attitude that if reality differs from their theory, then reality is wrong. The engineers that I rate tend to take the view that measurements can be suspect but that incomplete knowledge means that theories can be incorrect. They also tend to be ones with a science background rather than an engineering background.



*several global warming sceptics, one who thinks homeopathy might have something in it, and I think a couple of CT nuts - the ven diagram is a bit fuzzy.

On the flip side, there are several militant rationalists, and liberal Christians (God "lit the blue touchpaper" 14.5-billion years ago, and created the physical laws enabling life to arise on Earth 11-billion odd years later..)
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Old 15th December 2013, 03:32 PM   #33
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I'm not surprised. Sort of picked up Koontz was a bit of a fundie with how his villains were portrayed.
Was a fan of his Odd Thomas and Night Train series until the most recent one.
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Old 16th December 2013, 01:09 PM   #34
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In addition to Koontz (BTW, sorry for the typo "Konntz" in the thread title) imposing his ideology, one based on the rants of a whack-job, he seems to have fallen into a self-indulgence syndrome I've often seen in established writers. I suspect that this might come from a mind set that says, "Now that I'm successful, I don't have to put up with people editing my work." As a result, their work becomes self-indulgent. As I said in post #4, were a novice writer to submit a manuscript as lame as Breathless, it wouldn't make it past the slush pile. Thus, Breathless serves as an object lesson to all authors, no matter how successful, never to indulge in the hubris of thinking they can't benefit from editing.

Another problem is that of getting stuck in a rut. It would probably be wise to shift formulae and types of heroes every so often to avoid writing the same book over and over. For example, Koontz could help himself out by choosing as a hero someone more morally ambivalent and pushing him or her into a place where his or her seeking the easy and accommodating way will cost them someone they love, in one way or another. A skillful writer could keep this main character dancing on the edge until forced by a crisis to choose right - at great personal cost - over wrong. At the end of the story such a character would have grown exponentially, and their internal struggle, mirrored by an external one, would be truly heroic.

Of course, a counter argument is that Koontz sells, i.e. that even a book as badly written as Breathless, if it bears his name, will sell. Arguments that the work is inferior and that one should support decent authorship will, no doubt, be lost on the bean-counters. However, I would caution them that this phenomenon won't last forever and that subjecting potential best-selling authors to some discipline will extend their writing lives and, as a result increase profits.

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Old 16th December 2013, 01:25 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Another problem is that of getting stuck in a rut. It would probably be wise to shift formulae and types of heroes every so often to avoid writing the same book over and over. For example, Koontz could help himself out by choosing as a hero someone more morally ambivalent and pushing him or her into a place where his or her seeking the easy and accommodating way will cost them someone they love, in one way or another. A skillful writer could keep this main character dancing on the edge until forced by a crisis to choose right - at great personal cost - over wrong. At the end of the story such a character would have grown exponentially, and their internal struggle, mirrored by an external one, would be truly heroic.

Of course, a counter argument is that Koontz sells, i.e. that even a book as badly written as Breathless, if it bears his name, will sell. Arguments that the work is inferior and that one should support decent authorship will, no doubt, be lost on the bean-counters. However, I would caution them that this phenomenon won't last forever and that subjecting potential best-selling authors to some discipline will extend their writing lives and, as a result increase profits.
I don't disagree with your point, but I wonder if his audience doesn't want him to be "better" - in fact they may simply want the same book over and over again.

I read an autobiography of musician Mark Everett some years ago and his one complaint about fans is that they really didn't want artists to grow, they seemed to want him to come out with another album just like the one they loved instead of coming up with something new for them to love. It was an interesting note in an overall excellent book, if you happen to like The Eels or biographies. The point is, I wonder if that isn't at play here, too.
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Old 16th December 2013, 01:27 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I don't disagree with your point, but I wonder if his audience doesn't want him to be "better" - in fact they may simply want the same book over and over again.

I read an autobiography of musician Mark Everett some years ago and his one complaint about fans is that they really didn't want artists to grow, they seemed to want him to come out with another album just like the one they loved instead of coming up with something new for them to love. It was an interesting note in an overall excellent book, if you happen to like The Eels or biographies. The point is, I wonder if that isn't at play here, too.
That is the whole point about the formulaic end of fiction, isn't it?
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Old 16th December 2013, 02:10 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
That is the whole point about the formulaic end of fiction, isn't it?
Yeah, but it sounded better when I told the story about me reading the book by the cool rock star about how uncool some fans are when they just want formulaic music from creative individuals.
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Old 16th December 2013, 04:18 PM   #38
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I was going to say something about how no one believes things they read in Airport Novels, but then I remembered this story:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Jo...io_broadcaster)
Quote:
...
From 1988 until 1990 Jones wrote a regular column for the Sydney Sunday tabloid The Sun-Herald, but did not appear following a petition by staff calling for his removal as a contributor. This followed Jones' publication of a column predicting an oil crisis, in which a large amount of material had been taken from Frederick Forsyth's novel The Negotiator without attribution or indication that their source was a work of fiction.[40] Jones was later hired by the Sun-Herald's rival paper, The Sunday Telegraph, where he wrote a one-page column titled "To the Point" until 1995.[3][41]...
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Old 7th January 2014, 10:16 PM   #39
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It's not wise to assume that a writer has the same belief system as his characters.
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Old 11th January 2014, 09:43 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by imjohn View Post
It's not wise to assume that a writer has the same belief system as his characters.
Read Breathless (assuming you can either get it from the library or find a used copy somewhenre - I wouldn't spend good money on it, partly because I buy my toilet paper in bulk at Costco). You will find that the mathematician who spouts the creationist crap is the chief spokesmen of the good guys. It's safe to say that, in this case, he voices the author's views.
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