A while back I came across a post on Wickersham’s Conscience about the taxicab fallacy. He said it is a fallacy for conservatives to question or deny science while using the fruits of science.
I am sure that many atheists and skeptics have found it odd that many fundamentalists say evolution is a lie, yet they continue to see a doctor. Or someone argues against science and technology on the internet. WC gave the example that Florida Senator Marco Rubio thinks the world is only 6,000 years old, yet he probably uses a cel phone with GPS. GPS relies on the concept of radioactive decay. Radioactive decay corroborates and confirms estimates which put the age of the earth at far beyond 6,000 years.
Phil Plait was on Are We Alone a few years ago, and he and the host were commenting on the fact that fundamentalists attack evolution, yet for some reason they do not talk too much about the Big Bang. If you are going to push bad biology, why not push bad chemistry and bad physics as well? If you think that the scientific method is not a good way of acquiring knowledge, then isn’t it hypocritical to enjoy the fruits of the scientific method? Isn’t it logically inconsistent to keep the parts of science you like, and discard the rest?
I think that if you believe in god and use electricity, you need to think long and hard about your life.
I did a little digging, and the taxicab fallacy was actually coined by fundamentalists. Here is a paragraph from Street Apologetics:
A detractor of the Christian worldview cannot hop into the Christian system of thought by erecting an objection grounded in the Bible and then demand an answer be given without the use of a Bible. – See more at: http://streetapologetics.com/2011/04/what-is-the-taxi-cab-fallacy/#sthash.hykBar7A.dpuf
For a more in-depth look, see Iron Chariots.
I think fundamentalists came up with it to justify circular reasoning. Something Surprising also came to this realization.
If you are going to try to convert me to your religion and get me to change my life, then I can set whatever rules I want. If I do not believe in the Bible, then demanding proof from outside the biblical worldview is justified. I do have one quibble with their definition: my objections to religion are not “grounded in the Bible.” My objections to religion are grounded in reality. I do not object from the Bible. I object to the Bible.
I think that WC is right to define the taxicab fallacy the way he does. I think the atheists and skeptics are using the taxi cab fallacy more appropriately than religious people. Christians accuse atheists of committing the taxicab fallacy when they are trying to convert us. We accuse them of committing the taxicab fallacy as they go about their daily lives, if not every minute of it.
I think another example of the taxicab fallacy is people in the oil industry who deny climate change. (Side note: most people who are called “climate change skeptics” are not skeptics. They are climate change deniers.) Oil rigs and refineries require a lot of advanced scientific and technological knowledge. Oil exploration uses a lot of seismic data, and also uses advanced software to analyze it. At the same time, the consensus of climate scientists is that climate change is happening, and it is caused by humans. I guess Upton Sinclair was right: A man cannot understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.
The “Are We Alone” podcast is now called “Big Picture Science“.
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