Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Larry King Live and Stupid

Barbara Forrest was on Larry King Live tonight in one of the most absurd discussions of evolution and intelligent design imaginable. For some reason, they had a huge list of guests – a young earth creationist, Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute, Barbara, two senators (one on each side) and – bizarrely – Deepok Chopra. What the hell Chopra was doing there is beyond me. And just to give you a perfect example of why the media is the last place to look for accurate information on this subject, Larry King introduced Barbara with the question, “How can you reject creationism completely because if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?” Holy crap, Larry, here’s a quarter. Go buy a clue. The young earther declared that the earth was no older than 10,000 years, Deepok Chopra said it was 3.8 billion years old – both are wrong. The young earther also said that before we discovered DNA, there was a lot of belief in evolution but DNA is the “silver bullet” that kills evolution. Wow. Chopra babbled incoherently about “consciousness”, as usual, along with his usual blather about quantum indeterminacy. It was like Crossfire meets a Fellini film.


  1. #1 John Wilkins
    August 24, 2005

    Deepak, not Deepok. But the guy is a new age flake, no doubt…

  2. #2 David Buckna
    August 24, 2005

    Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute said on the program:


    “And what the Senate did and Senator Brownback described is they encouraged what we call teach the controversy at Discovery Institute, and that just means teach the controversy over Darwin’s theory of evolution specifically, the evidence for and against it, but don’t require teaching intelligent design.”

    [end of quote]

    The following suggested Origins of Life policy, which appears in the article, “Should evolution be immune from critical analysis in the science classroom?” (www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=print&ID=411) is a practical and legal way for boards to achieve a win-win regarding evolution teaching. Even the NCSE, the NAS, the AAAS, the ACLU, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State should find the policy acceptable, which says in part:

    “…recognizing that evolutionary theory is the only approved theory of origins that can be taught in the [province/state] science curriculum…students and teachers are encouraged to discuss the scientific information that _supports_ and _questions_ evolution and its underlying assumptions, in order to promote the development of critical thinking skills.”

    The cover story in the Nov. 2004 National Geographic [“Was Darwin Wrong?”] is a good example of a pro-evolution article. It’s typical of readings given to students studying evolution. Teachers should be encouraged to distribute such articles and three different color markers to each student, then ask them to mark the verified facts with one color, the opinions with another and the suppositions with another. Students should be taught to weigh the factual evidence, evaluate statements and recognize the writer’s purpose and point of view.

    For further reference: “Teaching and Propaganda” by Mano Singham (www.aip.org/pt/june00/opin600.htm), “Teaching Evolution: Is There A Better Way?” by Ian T. Taylor (www.creationmoments.com/resources/printable_article.asp?art_id=26)
    and my essay “Should Evolution Be Immune From Critical Analysis?” (www.rae.org/critanl.html)

  3. #3 raj
    August 24, 2005

    Just to let you know, Larry King has long been considered one of the biggest jackasses around, but apparently CNN hasn’t been able to induce someone to replace him. It’s almost comical.

  4. #4 Steve Reuland
    August 24, 2005

    King has a long and sameful history of including charlatans of every kind on his show. He’s particularly fond of the “talk to the dead” psychics like Silvia Browne and John Edward.

    I saw the beginning of the show and was horrified when he asked the “why are there still monkeys?” question. I simply couldn’t watch the damn thing other than bits and pieces. Richards managed to tell a lie almost every time he opened his mouth. The YEC guy pulled out every discredited Hovindesque argument there is. Chopra made the atmosphere downright circus-like. Sen. Brownback, who took the side of evil, simply spouted DI-approved talking points and flat-out lied about the Santorum amendment. The pro-science Senator they had meant well, but clearly hadn’t been coached the way that Brownback had and wasn’t prepared to answer all the misleading rhetoric. Poor Forrest was hardly able to get in a word edge-wise having to share the program with three idiots.

    Way to go, Larry.

  5. #5 nitpicker
    August 24, 2005

    Larry King is on for entertainment, not news.

    As for the “why are there still monkeys” comment, I usually respond to this deeply insightful question with “I am sorry that your parents died when you were born.”

  6. #6 Mark Duigon
    August 24, 2005

    I guess Deepak Chopra was standing in for Sylvia Browne. If only she were there, she could have provided a direct channel to Darwin himself.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    August 24, 2005

    Whenever I hear an ID advocate say, “We’re not advocating that ID be taught in schools, we only want the arguments for and against evolution taught”, I have to laugh. ID is nothing but arguments against evolution. Think about the three major ID advocates and their primary arguments. Wells’ book, Icons of Evolution, is nothing but a set of criticisms, most of them highly dishonest and false, of evolution and how it is taught. Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box, is nothing but a criticism of evolution’s ability to explain complex biochemical systems (an argument that has been proven false many times since then). And Dembski’s “explanatory filter”, as a first step, requires that one rule out evolution as an explanation, it is a purely eliminative argument that ends with “and therefore, God must have done it.” That’s all there is to ID at this point are bad arguments against evolution. There is no coherent model of the natural history of life on earth, no theory from which one might derive testable hypotheses, no actual positive statement of what happened that might be compared to the evidence. So this is the equivalent of saying, “We don’t want to teach choir, we just want to teach group singing.”

  8. #8 djw
    August 24, 2005

    Why are there still single-cell organisms?

  9. #9 Hyperion
    August 24, 2005

    Hell, why are there still rocks? Surely if life evolved from rocks, there shouldn’t be any rocks left. Clearly this rock in my hand is proof that evolution never happened. [/sarcasm]

    Wow, even parodying a creationist makes me feel like my IQ dropped about a dozen points.

  10. #10 KeithB
    August 24, 2005

    If you want a more reasoned discussion from yesterday – though I haven’t listened yet – ID was discussed on NPR’s “To The Point”:

  11. #11 Ginger Yellow
    August 24, 2005

    The whole “why are there still ‘x’?” line of argument utterly baffles me. What exactly do people who use it think they’re proving? What bit of their twisted perception of evolutionary theory means there shouldn’t be any more monkeys/fish/whatever? And finally, the argument is doubly baffling as it depends, presumably, on the assumption that after humans evolved from an ancestor species, all the ancestor species’ members should have died off (this is the only justification I can think of). Yet the very same people claim there are no transitional fossils or missing links. According to the first argument however, the fish/monkey/whatever IS the missing link.

  12. #12 raj
    August 24, 2005

    Larry King is on for entertainment, not news

    I’ll be more crass. He, like everyone else in American media, is on to try to attract eyes to watch advertisements. That is the real purpose of American media: to sell advertising time.

    That was made clear to me 20 years ago in–of all places–the Wall Street Journal.

  13. #13 Chuck
    August 24, 2005

    I wonder if the time has come for the celebrity advocates of evolutionary biology (Pinker, Kauffman, Dawkins, etc.) to come forward and mount a publicity campaign aimed at stopping the Christianist attack on modern science. Gould thought such a campaign would lend them credibility, but the silence of many scientists on this issue is hurting science with the ignorant American public.

  14. #14 Raging Bee
    August 24, 2005

    I remember watching the first few minutes of Bill O’Reilly’s creationist moment. He got a scientist on to speak about a scientific matter, and in the first minute, Billy-Boy said “Now I don’t want to hear a lot of scientific stuff, but can you just tell me…”

    I stopped watching at that point.

  15. #15 Pushpak
    August 24, 2005

    I too watched it on and off because I also have issues with Larry Kings interview ‘style”. But that aside, the thing that stood out for me was Jay Richards statement or response that (I don’t have the exact quote) ‘the important thing is that even if ID isn’t taught/debated in schools that it’s important that we are having this discussion now.’

    There should be less talk about the merits (there aren’t any) of ID and whether Darwin was right or not (he was/is) and more talk about the origins of ID proponents.

    The need is to point out that the this Behe guy in his “to the point” interview dismisses the Giraffe hypothesis as a fairytale and proceeds to explain ID (they never really explain ID that say that it exists) using buses, mousetraps & mount rushmore.

    ID only exists in debate, publicity and opinion. When asked for tangible scientific proof – it has none. When this publicity spike in “interest” and the legislative bills die and the lawsuits are settled, it will die and be raptured to its rightful place.

    A good example of how to kill and non controversy controversy is the Holocaust debates from over 20 years ago. Some of you may remember when around mid to late 80s on just about every talk and morning show had a “debate” on whether the Holocaust happened or not (betcha I can find more people who believe the Holocaust didn’t happen than scientists who don’t believe that Darwin was right – let’s teach that debate in history classes) until finally a woman (wish I could remember her name) went on GMA and said you know the Holocaust happened and media has got to stop providing a forum for nutters (my word not hers) who contradict a fact of history. The Holocaust happened – there is no DEBATE!

    So let’s interject, as best we can, the reason for this coming to the forefront now as opposed to then when Bush’s approval rating was up, gas was cheaper and people better pretended that things were looking up in Iraq.

  16. #16 Ed Brayton
    August 24, 2005

    When Larry King asked the question, Barbara started to laugh. I haven’t asked her what was going through her mind at that point, but I imagine it was, “I wonder how long the camera will stay on me if I just call this guy an idiot?” Being the dignified southern lady that she is, she managed to hold back.

  17. #17 Matthew
    August 24, 2005

    I saw part of this but had to change the channel due to nausea. I had a great moment the other night during one of these types of “he said, she said”shows on my local PBS affiliate where the host actually asked the ID supporter how you would test ID in a lab; which caused the ID supporter to give the usual crap about irreducible complexity and if you could figure out a way for the flagellum to be created with evolution, etc. etc., but to my surprise the host was smart enough to fire back that this wouldn’t prove ID, and asked how to test ID without referring to evolution (assuming it’s a competing theory), which caused the ID supporter to fumble over himself. It really reaffirmed my love for public television.

  18. #18 badger3k
    August 24, 2005

    The latest from super-scientist Deepak Chopra – and he has some doozies in there, including photons carrying consciousness –


    But in re-Larry King, the man needs to retire – why anyone listens to his unintelligent show is beyond me. The man needs more than a quater to buy a clue – he needs a mints worth.

  19. #19 flatlander100
    August 24, 2005

    Just to cheer you up some more, Ed, Huffington blog now reporting John McCain today came out favoring the teaching of “Intelligent Design” in the schools. The link they provide summarizes McCain’s comments and I’ll wait to see a transcript to decide if the summary was accurate or not. But thought you might like to know anyway….


  20. #20 Foggg
    August 24, 2005

    King is on record as taking pride in asking the most uninformed questions possible, since he believes those are the questions his “common man” audience would ask.

  21. #21 flatlander100
    August 24, 2005

    Just to cheer you up some more, Ed, Huffington blog now reporting John McCain today came out favoring the teaching of “Intelligent Design” in the schools. The link they provide summarizes McCain’s comments and I’ll wait to see a transcript to decide if the summary was accurate or not. But thought you might like to know anyway….


  22. #22 spyder
    August 24, 2005

    a friend today turned me onto the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory. Since i have been gone most of the last three months i don’t know if that was posted here. I needed the humor after all of the various ID’ers being given way more time in the MSM than they ever deserve. So without further ado


  23. #23 raj
    August 25, 2005

    Just to cheer you up some more, Ed, Huffington blog now reporting John McCain today came out favoring the teaching of “Intelligent Design” in the schools.

    I’ve never understood the popularity of John McCain. His only claim to fame is that he was a POW, after being shot down over Vietnam, during the Vietnam war. Is that supposed to be a reason to laud him?

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