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Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
by Juan Williams
Edition: Hardcover
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4 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Observations that the author should also apply to the Holy Land, September 15, 2006
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As a white man, though a Holocaust survivor, I hesitate to comment on the author's subject matter if I am not to be told it's none of my business to say what blacks should do. But having watched and listened to Juan Williams on the Fox News channel, I find that the proposals he has in his book for black America are if anything controverted in his attitude toward the "Middle-East Conflict", namely the Palestinian/Israeli problem.

In my view Juan Williams is deplorably anti-Semitic, making at the least the kind of excuses for Palestinian actions he in his book decries regarding some black behavior. He has a whole chapter on "Bad Excuses" (p.44) for the misbehavior of young blacks that leads to jail or unwed mothers, but sees the Palestinian shelling or other assaults aimed at murdering innocent Israelis quite understandable in the light of the long-standing "conflict".

Recently Brit Hume noted on a Fox panel that notwithstanding the terrorists' excuse blaming "occupation" (which is not the same as murder) for their actions, the terrorism did not cease after the Israelis withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon. To this Juan strangely responded with the excuse that the terrorists cannot be expected to stop right away. Why not? Aren't they as obliged to keep their word as anyone else?

It is known, of course, that they want to drive Israel into the sea, while the international community makes with Williams all sorts of other excuses. They keep speaking of the "suffering" of Palestinians, of their "refugee camps". Such camps are usually thought to consist of the likes of tents, and the suffering of such as starvation or lack of clothing. What we see instead are fully constructed buildings and well-fed and freshly clothed youths running around with video cameras if not with automatic rifles. The monies poured into the areas can account for this.

It seems expected that Israel should somehow raise the living conditions of Palestinians. This sounds quite like the reliance on government criticized by Williams in his book. He puts great emphasis on self-reliance, and why should Israel be responsible for the standard of living of another people?

Israel has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps, making the arid desert bloom, and their neighbors, too, can take responsibility for their conditions. If there is suffering in the region it can be said to be that of Jews, who never know when to expect another murder of them. The Holocaust created the phrase "Never again", yet we continue to struggle for peace.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2006 7:56 PM PDT

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design
by Jonathan Wells PhD
Edition: Paperback
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14 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the right track, but again missing the decisive argument, August 31, 2006
The author's basic position is well explained on the exterior of the book, and as can be seen there, he, despite his well-founded criticism of Darwinism, fails to be aware of the simple and plain evidence against the Darwinian claim that "the natural world...resulted from unguided natural processes alone".

The evidence adduced against that claim relies on "the idea that some features of the natural world, such as the internal machinery of cells, are too `irreducibly complex'", and on "the growing evidence...coming out of scientific specialties from microbiology to astrophysics".

However, there is no need to, in order to refute the purported "unguided" processes, look to ever increasing scientific specialization. Logical means based on ordinary evidence are, though unnoticed, fully sufficient.

As I tried to explain in other reviews here, and deal with thoroughly in my own work (found under my last name in search engines), the prevailing focus in seeking "design" or the absence of it has erroneously been on biological form, by arguing whether its obvious functionality came about by accident or rather through some guidance.

The guidance, which is indeed present, is discernible instead in a much clearer and universal phenomenon concerning biological matters. It is in the activities of life itself. That the activities of organisms are directed, guided, toward certain ends or goals, specifically life's preservation, are a commonplace so familiar that researchers entirely overlook it in their quests. But unlike other natural phenomena, characterized by random, "blind", causation, life's activities function in accordance with "foresight", employing causation in the service of, life-preserving again, aims.

Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA
Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA
by William A. Dembski
Edition: Hardcover
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5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A continued debate that misses the conclusive, June 8, 2006
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As indicated (p.388) by the last of the authors, Stephen C. Meyer, Darwin's natural selection, in its central distinction, lacks purposiveness or goal-directedness in organisms. To argue for or against that presence of goals, the authors as customary look into minutest and latest biological findings.

It has been my attempt in these reviews to bring to attention that the questions at issue can be answered on simpler grounds, on the basis of broader and more general and fundamental experience. I have in my own book gone into this and other explorations of possible knowledge--their subjects suggested in my other reviews here--and presently wish to briefly repeat the simple reasoning recognizing goals in organisms, without now dealing with the related question of a supreme being.

What the participants in present-day debates have overlooked--because of their concentration on the organisms' functional structure in similarity to man-made artifacts--is the significance of the live organism's behavior. Everyone is conscious of the organism's predominant aim toward self-preservation, but attention is paid to it only inadvertently, in the course of other arguments.

In the book reviewed, author Michael J. Behe discusses (p.360) the blood-clotting cascade, and relies in his argument for end-directedness exclusively on the complex components involved, forgetting the end-directedness of the clotting itself. Author James Barham notes (p.222): "A broken bone heals; a broken stone doesn't", yet he fails to take pertinent account of the goal-directed event, speaking (p.214) about the "problem...of explaining the...teleology [goal-directedness] inherent in life".

The goal-directed activities characterizing all the living do not require explanation. Explanation of natural events is understood in terms of causation, and the underlying causal laws are not explained but are of basic observations taken as self-sufficient. Likewise, observation of the all-inclusive goal-directedness in live activities can be taken as self-sufficient, with no explanation. But there is the preconception that all must be explainable by aimless causes and hence so must the live activities possessing aims. These activities cannot of course contradictorily be also aimless, and the aimless causes would have to somehow bring about the live activities as a whole. This supposition, however, becomes irrelevant. It remains that goal-directed life exists, whatever its origin, negating the Darwinian contention of aimlessness in all of nature's events.
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Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?
Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?
by Michael Ruse
Edition: Hardcover
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Perpetuated grandiose falsehood, May 26, 2006
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The author states (p.330) regarding "Darwinism--adaptation brought about by natural selection": "Whether we like it or not, we are stuck with it. The Darwinian revolution is over, and Darwin won."

He goes on to say that any satisfactory response must hence be on Darwinian terms, "adaptation, selection, blind variation..." The last of these, also known as random mutation, is of course how according to Darwin live organisms obtain the form that allows them to survive. As I tried in other reviews here (and am dealing with fully in my own book), I am presently again trying to convey that this focus on the organism's form stems from a misguided analogy between humanly produced functional artifacts and the functionality of organisms. It was argued in defense of intention in the organism's form that just as man-made artifacts are in their functions produced intentionally by an intelligent designer, so must organisms in their functions be the intentional product of intelligence.

And the dispute is well known to be about whether or not organisms, too, were formed intentionally, by way of a goal-directed process.

The mistake is that the goal-directedness or its absence is looked for in the wrong area. While there may be difficulties in showing whether organismic forms came about by plan or by accident, there is no difficulty at all in seeing instead that it is the organism's activities that are indeed goal-directed. For this evidence of preponderant goal-directedness in the living--their aim of self-preservation--which stares us straight in the face, there appears to be a complete blind spot. On recognizing this, the consequence is that Darwinism, contending the same aimlessness in organisms as in other natural events, is false. Yet Darwin is doggedly followed in science and praised to high heaven, with the author of the now reviewed book calling him a genius (p.109). Let me accordingly comment briefly on how original is Darwin's thinking.

Inasmuch as natural selection is in essence the environment's influence on the organism, the influence occurring in any case, the main point of Darwin is that organisms become adapted to the environment by accident rather than by aim. And it is obvious that for any chance of that to happen, supposing it possible at all, there must be enormous multitudes of variations as claimed, the thought requiring no new idea.

The subsequent thinking then has had to be preoccupied with seeking explanations of how the wrongly hypothesized chance adaptations occur.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2009 11:44 AM PDT

Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life
Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life
by Mary Cheney
Edition: Hardcover
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12 of 99 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About discrimination, May 16, 2006
This review is in response to the interview of the book's author on Fox News TV channel last Sunday.

I find the reviews already written here of the book to in the main be expressions of opinion, and at that of a most venomous sort, especially on the part of--and I hope this is not my own bias--the Politically Correct, through words like "bigot" or the more recently invented "homophobe". As a former Jewish victim of the worst form of bigotry in history, Nazism, I am well acquainted with extreme accusations hurled at opponents (the gist of Hitler's speeches), and I therefore the more appreciate avoidance of "ad hominem" name-calling, in favor of reasoned discussions of disputed issues.

One of the most often used accusatory words by defenders of today's liberalism is "discrimination". In the mentioned interview, author Mary Cheney said that to make a constitutional amendment define marriage as between a man and a woman would make discrimination constitutional.

Words are easily thrown around to support an argument, using them in many senses for equivocation. The word "discrimination" has exceptionally wide usage, being applicable in virtually every choice we make. Choosing one thing rather than another can be said to be discriminating. The same holds for people, when for instance choosing one job-applicant over another. There are many distinctions in life between one person and another, without implying difference in moral worth, and the distinctions between man and woman are predominantly concerned with their union in producing offspring. This union is not just tradition, as often stated, but natural law. To have a corresponding man-made law regarding marriage is therefore merely in agreement with this distinction.

As to this distinction, there is technically in such a law no discrimination between "sexual orientations", because anyone is regardless free to marry the opposite sex. There is a fair distinction made, however, between the union of opposite sexes and same ones, simply because of the preceding factual reasons, without anyone's personhood being diminished.
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Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing
Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing
by William A. Dembski
Edition: Paperback
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4 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Justified, if by deficient arguments and needless concessions, May 8, 2006
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This review, while agreeing with the attitudes of the contributors in this volume, is another effort (of "shouting from the rooftops", so to speak) to draw attention to the simple arguments possible in this area, as delved into much farther in my book, together with its elucidations in other areas regarding human knowledge.

To observe once again, the earnest endeavors of the authors to answer "the central claim of evolutionary biology...that an unguided physical process can account for the emergence of all biological complexity..." (p.xx) seek along with the evolutionists to resolve the question of guidance or lack of it by way of misdirected evidence.

The differentiation between guided and unguided processes, between aims and aimlessness, is, again, founded on past comparisons of functional human artifacts with the functional forms of organisms, and intense explorations are made on both sides of the dispute into a multitude of factors held to give rise to those forms. In these searches is correspondingly overlooked a critically distinguishing characteristic of the living, their active aim toward self-preservation.

This aim is so obvious that it is a truism, and though it is in some aspects sometimes mentioned (e.g. p.188), its significance is lost amid irrelevant inquiries into particular physical detail and association with related questions concerning value. Not taken account of is the overwhelming phenomenon that all of life has unceasingly self-preservation as aim, in contradiction of the Darwinian contention of absence of aim. From this phenomenon follow logical consequences equally simple, which I also treat of.

And there is no need to explain some organismic events by other than those aims. It is surprising that the editor and others in the volume now reviewed give credit to Darwinism as applying to certain "small-scale evolutionary changes, such as insects developing insecticide resistance (which no one disputes)"!!! (p.xxii). It is clear from the preceding that this development of resistance, like resistance developed in humans by inoculation, is, like all other adaptation, part of the overall aim of preservation.
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Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement
Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement
by William A. Dembski
Edition: Paperback
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12 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On the right side, missing the right argument, April 25, 2006
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This tribute to a founder of the Intelligent Design Movement remains, while justly challenging Darwinism, mired in a mistaken view of the conflict over whether organisms are subject only to blind natural forces or also to goal-directed ones.

As I tried to point out in other reviews here, and am treating thoroughly with other known puzzles in my own book, the conflict has wrongly focused on similarity between organisms and man-made devices because of structural functions, overlooking entirely the critical difference between the living and lifeless. This difference is that the living exhibit the sought-after goal-directedness in their very activities, directed toward preservation throughout, irrespective of findings as to whether their functional form was equally an aim, and which in fact is part of the preservational aim of every developing organism.

The considerable efforts of intelligent-design proponents to find support in mathematical probability, structural complexity and other biological particulars, are thus superfluous. The proverbial forest is not seen for the trees. The answer can be found in the large-scale phenomena noted, and depends on putting two and two together in the manner of logical deduction used in other areas.

It is interesting that toward the end of the book (page 308) an author speaks of Phillip Johnson, the man paid tribute to, "as the intellectual leader of a group of scholars that God had raised up to address the question of biological origins..." On the same pages the author speaks profusely of university settings, ones of these scholars. One can wonder if God indeed means to reveal himself in complex ways to privileged dwellers of universities, or rather simply to such as someone rising from the ashes of the Holocaust.
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The Evolution-Creation Struggle
The Evolution-Creation Struggle
by Michael Ruse
Edition: Hardcover
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair-minded if understandably one-sided, April 13, 2006
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In a very readable historical account of "The Evolution-Creation Struggle" the author takes the side of evolution in its major aspects, relying on an undirected process, which depends on "natural" causes. My main concern, as I related in other reviews here, is just the question of such undirectedness, absence of aim, the principal issue of the "struggle" in the title. For that reason I will concentrate on the author's "Conclusion", where this idea appears to be most discussed.

He speaks of the use of methaphor (e.g. p.277), mentioning "final cause" (designating goal-directed, purposeful, action) as a metaphor in "thinking of the heart pump, for example, if...designed", the point being made that though the heart pump is functional, it evolved as a result of aimless natural forces.

My intent is to repeat here my concerned observations in the other reviews, observations that belong to more comprehensive ones in my book, dealing with knowledge in various fields. As I indicated, the approach to the question of design, of direction toward a goal, has on both sides of the dispute been "barking up the wrong tree". Because of centuries-old comparisons of organs like the heart to man-made devices, overlooked was a decisive distinction between the living and the lifeless. The former is not only functionally built, but also functionally active. That is to say, while it can be questioned whether a structure's unseen formation was aimed at, the same cannot be questioned regarding the organism's live activities. They are fully known to be aimed at self-preservation.

What is more, each individual organism is formed as part of that aim, which is to say that organisms do not come about by accident, in contradiction of the randomness claimed respecting, beside the formation of live beings, all of biology, alongside the rest of nature.
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Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
by Eugenie Carol Scott
Edition: Paperback
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15 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is all opposition to evolution creationist?, April 7, 2006
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The author deserves praise for her reasonableness, allowing for a distinction between "methodological" and "philosophical naturalism" (e.g. page 65), according to which many scientists, as she acknowledges, use the methods of science while philosophically theists.

However, one of the stumbling blocks in her and others' arguments, as indicated in my heading, is that "antievolutionists" (or those partly so) are relegated to adherents of a religion. This of course is a factor in court decisions adducing the First Amendment. But in arguments it is a form of the "ad hominem" fallacy, directing debates at the person instead of the subject matter.

Another problem is leaning on language, as in the above "naturalism". A persistent distinction is made between the "natural" and "supernatural", the latter understandably dismissed as not conducive to demonstration. But if theistic issues like purpose in phenomena are considered as part of the world, they become accessible to scrutiny like other worldly matters. Also linguistically, the author strives to distinguish scientific meanings from ordinary ones of words like "facts" and "theories" (p.11 and following). She puts theories on top of the list in scientific importance, and facts on the bottom. She calls facts "confirmed observations", and contends they, and laws, change with new findings. This omits then actualities that are independent of man's determinations, since theories and hypotheses, the other items there named, are likewise admitted to be changeable. Facts and laws of nature are usually considered such independent actualities, and findings that do not comport with them are concluded not to be facts or laws. Ironically, the author mentions (p.241) scientific claims that "Evolution is a FACT!", elevating fact above theory.

The point is that however she tries to give primacy to inconclusive theory, there are conclusive actualities out there regardless of how named. The author calls theories explanations, presumably mainly causal explanations, and that they are not demonstrated even if implying observed realities I pointed out in the review here of "Breaking the Spell". There I also brought up why the principal Darwinian contention that adaptation in organisms results from aimless changes is false, as I fully describe in my book beside its treatment of other questions of knowledge. Let me repeat the here concerned reasoning.

The arguments about whether organisms adapt at random or by purpose have revolved around their functional structure, in likeness to the structure of human artifacts, discussed in the past in support of purposeful design. What both sides of the arguments failed to consider is the difference between life and the lifeless. Organisms are distinguished not only by their structure but also by their activities. And it is these where, unlike in structure alone, the presence of aims is unquestionable. Organisms aim in all their behavior toward preservation of themselves and their species. It is accordingly needless to argue whether or not living things came about by design or by accident. Their individual activities, from indeed coming about to continued goals of sustaining themselves, uncover the disputed goal-directedness or purpose.
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Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
by Daniel C. Dennett
Edition: Hardcover
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7 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The spell is unbroken, March 3, 2006
Because of the number of reviews already written here, I feel my added review may be mainly justified for newly broaching the central issue, of whether Darwinism answers the question about what processes are involved in the existence of organisms; specifically whether these processes are only guided by "blind, directionless" physical forces, as Dennett contends (p.59, or, by "foresightless" ones, in seemingly his favored word of pages 107, 170 and 177), or whether one can detect processes that are directed, that disclose certain goals or purposes.

The idea of intelligent design, which today appears as if a reaction to Darwinism, in truth preceded it and was the source of Darwin's efforts in the opposite direction. William Paley of the 18th century compared the functionality of the organism to that of a watch, arguing that just as a watch was designed by an intelligent watchmaker, so is the organism designed by an intelligence.

As famously known, Darwin strove to counter the argument with the explanation that the organism was somehow formed through the ages via aimless physical processes. In this light he can be viewed as a Johnny-one-note, notwithstanding his celebrity. His claim amounted to the denial of Paley, for which he then mustered all the argument he could think of. It should be noted that while his evolution by natural selection may seem to predict the similarities in species, the same can be predicted when considering similar functions. Here lies a fundamental weakness in a current scientific method.

Theories are founded on the "hypothetico-deductive" method, which tests a hypothesis by how well it predicts an event. But this method relies on the logical fallacy of "affirming the consequent". From "A implies (causes) B" does not follow "B implies (is necessarily caused by) A". More reliable has been traditional experiment and observation.

More importantly, both Darwinism and Intelligent Design missed a critical factor. The watch analogy made them focus on the organism's structure, to the neglect of its live behavior. And this is where Darwinism collapses. Organisms come into being individually, and the very nature of biology concerns the goal-directed activities by which an organism from fertilization to full formation develops for preservation of self and the species. Its debated structure thus indeed is formed in each individual for those purposes, rather than without aim.

The subject is beside others treated in this light fully in my book, which I will perhaps be allowed to recommend for serious reading, as a departure from what I see as academic going around in circles in philosophical and other fields of study.
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