In talking with some of my colleagues about intelligent design (ID) it has become clear to me that there are some misconceptions about ID. These misconceptions are not limited to science professionals as these ideas can also be seen when viewing message boards, reading comment sections, or anywhere else the subject arises.
The general consensus seems to be that ID proponents are just not very smart. Although I do think this is true for some “IDers,” it is not a prerequisite for belief in the pseudoscience. Just look at the Discovery Institute. Many of the “fellows” there have PhDs or have achieved other higher levels of education. Perhaps the most telling is how cogent their arguments appear to be. I honestly think it takes some kind of weird intelligence to be able to defend a evidence-less theory against the onslaught of ever increasing evidence for evolution.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying ID proponents are geniuses. I am just saying stupidity is not the source of their belief in ID. So, what are the sources? Well, Christian fundamentalism is an obvious one. These people are going to twist the world around them to their preconceived notion of the universe no matter what evidence is available.
Another source could be a strong reliance on the logical fallacy of personal incongruity (personal disbelief). This logical fallacy basically says that just because someone has a hard time believing something does not mean it is not true. People can not accept that we are evolutionarily related to monkeys. Some people can’t believe that the diversity of life happened on its own. They say “look how complicated life is. It had to be designed.” The feeling is so strong that they abandon reason and acceptable evidence for pseudoscience.
Willful ignorance is undoubtedly another reason that otherwise intelligent people believe in intelligent design. Some people just don’t really care about the subject, so they will just go along with what there preacher or friend believes. Other people are not willing to find out the truth for the fear that it will shatter their world view.
Whatever the reason, simply insulting their intelligence is not going to be an effective way to convince them of reality. I didn’t write this post to defend ID proponents, I am just hoping that understanding where they are coming from will help during debates.