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Crowd Effect: Evolution Stays Afloat by Dint of Sociology

David Klinghoffer


It’s the crowd effect: Certainties like Darwinian evolution stay afloat by dint of sociology as much as science or anything else. On a new episode of ID the Future with Andrew McDiarmid, protein chemist Douglas Axe talks about his new book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed and the illusion that just because a lot of people say something, that makes it true:

People tend to follow other people. That’s the way we are as humans. So there’ve been lots of ideas through the course of human history, big ideas, that get a big following, that are not true ideas. They turn out not to be correct. They’re false. But they’ll still have years and years and years, sometimes generations and generations of followers. Whenever you have an idea like that, it generates a huge volume of literature. But the mere fact that there’s literature does not prove the idea. It simply proves that lots of people buy into the idea.

A great point to keep in mind and very well articulated. He draws the related distinction between scientific authority and scientific evidence. Support by “authority” for an idea does not mean that the evidence supports it too.

Download the episode by clicking here:


As he notes, Axe reached his own conclusion about intelligent design over the course of 25 years of “hard technical work” in science labs. However he wanted to reach not just other scientists — but everyone. So Dr. Axe, rather than merely simplifying scientific information, sets out an argument that is “non-technical” by its nature.

The book is one that only those who haven’t read it can easily dismiss. It is in part a respectful but forceful argument with atheist philosopher Thomas Nagle, author of Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, which we’ve reflected on here at length in the past. Axe’s biggest conclusion? While “Nagle wants there to be an impersonal force within nature that created us,” Dr. Axe rejects this: “The knower who made life is not just some disembodied intelligence. This knower has to be a personal creator.”

Well those are fighting words. Knee-jerk crowd followers will roll their eyes without weighing the argument Doug Axe makes. The thoughtful will read the book and consider for themselves.

Photo credit: Moses [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.