Prof. Coyne Quote-Mines in his New Book

Ah, the irony. Tom Gilson has been reading Jerry Coyne’s new book and has already discovered a juicy example of quote-mining. It looks like Coyne was trying to portray Alvin Plantinga as someone who says one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience. But to do this, it sure looks like Coyne had to lift things out of context:

Anyway, as I said, Coyne’s first quote is obviously lacking in context. I’m happy to supply that information for you…..In other words, Coyne turned this passage’s meaning completely upside down.

You should read Tom’s blog entry for the details.

Tom also writes:

One of Jerry Coyne’s chief complaints about religion in Faith Versus Fact is that it’s overly subject to confirmation bias. This, he says, stands in contrast to science, which has protections against bias built in to it…..What’s immediately interesting in this context is that this isn’t a science book, and therefore Coyne doesn’t have scientific methodology protecting him from his own confirmation bias in it.

Exactly. In fact, remember that Coyne comes to us as a New Atheist activist trying to sell books to his fans. He does not come to us as a scholar or scientist. And New Atheism itself is a textbook example of confirmation bias. So not only does Coyne lack any means to guard against confirmation bias, there is good reason to expect it to flourish.

Coyne brags of spending a whole two years studying the works of various theologians. My guess is that his “study” consisted of spending two years skimming through the works of theologians to find points that will fit into his anti-religious narrative, even if he has to quote-mine to make it work.

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