Hi all, a few years ago I lacked the skill and resources to implement a full-scale, dedicated project to host the "Museum of Ignorance" a project to rebuke the lack of education brought about by creationists, bozos, pathological liars, snake-oil salesmen, well-meaning celebs, politicians and the like. In fact, anything that spreads by lack of knowledge: ignorance in other words. You might think of it as an antidote to Conservapedia but I'd like to think this project will be more leveled than that trash.

Remember: an ignorant person is not necessarily stupid; although stupid people are often mind-beggaringly ignorant too.

For example, under the entry for Origin of Species, we'd explain that the word speciation is different to abiogenesis: a red-herring brought about by ignorance of the work - AND doesn't remove the need for a god. Similarly, under Theory, we will discuss the difference between an idea and a scientific theory.

Sure, this has been done before, but MoI replaces entries with "exhibits" just like a real museum and it's aimed at poorly educated people; unlike Wikipedia & talkorigins which can get raveled in techno-babble.

The museum's job will be to effectively and above all, simply debunk any crazy meme no matter how old it is: from Jesus's promises to return (before 100AD) right through to Andrew Wakefield's idiotic research into MMR. No topic is off limits but everything should be accessible to a person of average intellect and poor general knowledge.

Right, so I have the domain - and the space on a dedicated server of our own running LLMP stack (Lighttpd in place of Apache) so it's capable of handling a very busy site: and one that can grow.

This is its genesis. In order to succeed it's going to need some participation from people like you. If Dr. Meaden will forgive my indulgence, I would like suggestions for:

* A Logo.
* Software to drive it - TikiWiki is the front runner right now, but I do have a proprietary engine we might be able to use.
* Volunteers to provide the articles.
* Anything else...

This will be a god-free zone! Articles on faith (it's negative and positive effects) would also be welcome provided they're not intended to alienate those who cling on to these ideas. Much as I respect Prof. Dawkins, he has actually helped to give us a bad name. Perhaps this site can help, in some small way, to redress that balance.

This is the sort of clever tomfoolery we're out to prove is a pack of stinking B/S!

http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/ifyoucanreadthis.htm

Where computer expert and author, Perry Marshall writes:

"But communication theory shows us that Evolution by Random Process is a hypothesis without proof."

Which is wrong in more ways that I can imagine. This is going to be a fun ride!

Tags: Belief, Creationism, Ignorance, Knowledge, Science, Wiki

Views: 41

Replies to This Discussion

Personally, I think this is a good idea with a bad approach. Presenting debunking information is a good thing, but the attitude you appear to be wanting to use to convey it is going to mean is going to defeat the purpose behind it.

For example, lets take information on how best to debunk Moon-landing conspiracy theories. If, as you present the information, you consistently trash people who believe in those conspiracy theories, you will convince no-one. Nobody has ever been convinced by the argument 'you are an ignorant moron, and here's why'. The way to convince someone is by the argument 'I can see why you might believe that, because you saw the pieces of evidence A, B and C, but in reality the evidence D, E and F can explain why A, B and C occurred and moreover there is also the evidence G, H, I, J, K, L and M that your theory can't account for'. If you acknowledge that what they believe is in fact reasonable based on the limited information you suspect they were using, and then given them the greater amount of information, that opens up at least a possibility that they will be convinced.
Nothing is set in stone, David (except the name because that's registered). I'm looking to get a consensus of how we best direct this project as a community effort.

If enough of us and tip in a suggestion or two then we should eventually (!) arrive with a decent approach.

In the original proposition I do mention that we need to write attract people of limited education and only average intellect: precisely the sort of people targeted by delusional, yet clearly educated authors like Perry Marshall and Michael Behe and oh, so many others rely on.

While I love to ridicule these people, I accept that might backfire, which is why we might have different galleries or sections.

Another section (I originally had it sated for my book in fact) is on debating skills - and showing how the various tactics are used: appeal to ignorance; appeal to faith and so on. In the book I have a section called Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, which lists the many types of doctorate awarded even by "real" educational establishments.

I guess this comes under the appeal to ignorance: where I live the (very capable and atheist MP) fought an entire campaign based around the NHS. His name is Dr. Ashok Kumar or more accurately, Ashok Kumar PhD: yet the clear implication in most of the campaign literature was that Kumar was an M.D - I fell for it myself until my skepticism kicked in! Personally, I rather like the bloke, but I did feel burned when I discovered the "truth".

The term Doctor is almost as misunderstood than the word Theory. This, I expect, would be a featured and important article or perhaps a series of articles.

If we assume for a moment that the Museum doesn't directly ridicule belief (that's always a loser in my experience) but gives people the tools to see beyond it, then maybe that's the way forward. As I recall, this was the method suggested by the great Carl Sagan. It comes down to the saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for day, teach a man to fish and you feed him forever".

Exhibits might also include people like PT Barum - perhaps the greatest showman of them all - and his words of wisdom that a fool is born every minute.
Good to know. Sounds vaguely similar to IronChariots, but the more sites this the better, as long as they are done well, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

I have no problem with ridiculing ridiculous ideas, but it should be done in the right tone. The analogy I always use, while admittedly local, is with Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Its a local hockey team which has been bad, often brutally bad, for the last 40+ years, and yet it has an enormous contingent of fans. I often ridicule Maple Leafs fans, but not in an insulting or offensive way, just a gentle, good-natured, humorous ridiculing. This is, in my opinion, the same tact to take with religious people, letting them know that their beliefs are...a little silly, I think is perhaps the best way to put it...but that they aren't stupid for having those beliefs and they are certainly completely entitled to maintain those beliefs, but they are definitely due for some good-natured ribbing.

Also, the more ridiculous the idea (Ray Comfort's banana argument), the more dismissive,
and less exhaustive in the explanatory rebuttal, you can be. But as a general rule of thumb, dismissive is a very bad approach.
Hear hear. ;-)

No really, this is what we need - to settle on a consensus so we can please MOST of the people MOST of the time. Beside, I won't be coming up with it - you guys/gals will! My knowledge is sufficient to follow the arguments, but not always sufficient to mount a decent attack - and, moreover, if this is to succeed, it needs a great deal of decent content.

There's no point in preaching to the converted - it's the converted we need to generate the content. While someone mentioned masturbating ourselves at our own cleverness (I'm paraphrasing) the key is to make it accessible for the fence sitters. People like my ex partner, an educated woman who recently said, "Evolution. Pah, it's only a theory."

I wanted to cry!
There’s a fascinating study just out from the Uni of Buffalo titled "How We Support Our False Beliefs.". Here’s a link: ScienceDaily 23 August 2009. 22 September 2009 .

It suggests a conclusion (drawn from political arena, that seems more generally applicable) that presenting information contradictory to a held belief is not going to be so effective.

I favour ridicule. No-one likes to hold a belief that they suspect is ridiculous. There's a small minority who will go down the route of "being ridiculed is proof I'm right/it's good to be persecuted/satan is up to his diabolical tricks again". Let them. Not everyone is reachable.

The dissonance between having to hold beliefs that are more and more clearly ridiculous, the more fringe, the more easily shown ridiculous, lowers the barrier to jettisoning the complete package.

I struggle to find what to replace it with - for those who need it - and am alarmed by (my perception) of spirituality. homeopathy, acupuncture and the like growing apace, as people try to still their very real need.

Museum of Ignorance is a reasonably eye-catching name, and I think it encapsulates what I would like to see: Those items of ignorance that belong in a museum, for historically interested persons to examine, and not in the real world.
Museum of Ignorance is a reasonably eye-catching name, and I think it encapsulates what I would like to see

Part of these "ignorants" aren't actually so, they're aware of the evidence but refuse to admit and digest it. For this reason, I think Museum of Ignorance and Schizophrenia would be more accurate. ;-)
Museum of delusion, p'haps?

Course, the title of the site doesn't HAVE to reflect the domain name exactly.

Look at Expertsexchange.com for example - who knew it was about computers?

I'll get me coat.
I would certainly envisage never having need of Amateursexchange.com.
It's not the field of endeavour that lends itself to amateur doctors. Or complementary therapists, as they prefer to call themselves.
Meanwhile, back on topic... ;-)

Juame, you have a point, but the phrase would be self-delusion. This is an interesting mass-psychology that has been demonstrated with some success by Derron Brown as I recall.

No one likes to think they're deluded, of course. A girl I know scowled at a consultant paediatrician's comment that her son was overweight (massively so, in fact): and made the comment while stuffing the poor little mite with even more food! The irony was so wonderful I had trouble stopping myself from laughing. It's not funny of course, she's sending the little chap into a lifetime of poor health.

Self delusion is a powerful thing - difficult or perhaps even impossible to recognise in ourselves. Alcoholism, poor parenting: pick your negative and you can probably think of someone who (against the evidence) believes that they're good at something.

A "friend" of mine is so deluded she thinks her book would be a bestseller: honestly. In reality, it's so awful no publisher will touch it - but I regret to admit that I didn't have the guts to burst her bubble. This may be self-belief, too, but I expect in her case, the reality is that no one has ever dared to contradict her. (On the one time I challenged one of her beliefs, she burst into tears!)

As a group, we have the capacity to delude each other and that positive reinforcement creates a false reality for all concerned: belief becomes undeniable fact. Chipping away at this delusion requires a sensitive edge.

On the upside, I was heartened to read the the number of recorded athesists in North America will soon surpass the number of Catholics - and that has to be a good thing for the future.
I totally concur. I would also recommend not connecting the site with atheism, for the same reasons. Not due to shame of course, but if someone told me about X on Ray Comfort's website I'm immediately going to dismiss it.
Perhaps, as part of the logo, we could use the statement, "the only shame in ignorance is taking pride in it"
That's an excellent and salient point, but can we shorten it a bit? (Have to admit, nothing struck me immediately, but the someone else may summarise it.)

If not, does anyone else have an objection to using it as our "Mission statement". I know it's not a mission statement as such, but it's a very good phrase to launch with.

Someone raised this point about Jade Goody (before she died from cancer) in the UK wearing your ignorance on your sleeve like a badge of honour is acceptable and even preferable. This, presumably, is the evolution of the social problems "smart" kids have suffered for years. My own middle daughter complained bitterly the other day that she, "Didn't want to look like a swot."

Baa....

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