Dispatches from the Creation Wars

PZ Eviscerates a Moron

If PZ Myers gave out a version of the Robert O’Brien Trophy, he would no doubt award it to Timothy Birdnow, the author of a delightfully idiotic anti-evolution screed in, of all places, a webmag called The American Thinker. PZ shredded the poor sap in a post, prompting the guy to start a separate weblog for the sole purpose of defending himself against those criticisms. Now PZ has taken aim at him again, and rightfully so. In his initial post, PZ had focused particular attention on this absolutely stunning passage from Birdnow’s article:

Furthermore, we don`t even see crossovers between the 5 Phylla (classes of animals) anywhere, at any time. Where are the giant mammaried mosquitos? Where are the snakes which deliver live young? I haven`t seen too many feathered fish around lately! The species remain distinct, and they shouldn`t if Darwin is correct. Consider the Permian Triassic Extinction, the so called “Great Dying”, 250 million years ago,in which 9 out of 10 marine creatures and 7 out of 10 land creatures died. Before the Great Dying five phylla walked the Earth; insects, mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. After the Great Dying we had the same 5.

I’m not sure you could write something this stupid on purpose. As PZ points out, virtually everything about this statement is false. There are not 5 phyla, there are around 30, and none of the types of animals he names are phyla. In fact, mammals, birds, fish and reptiles are all members of the same phylum, phylum chordata. And, just to complete the idiocy, there were no mammals or birds in either the Permian or the Triassic (there is one disputed fossil of what might be an early bird in the very last part of the Triassic, but that doesn’t help Birdnow’s case any).

Why does it never stop amazing me when people who are abysmally ignorant of a given subject attempt to pontificate about it and claim that 99.9% of the scientists who study it for a living are wrong? I mean, even if you didn’t care a whit about intellectual honesty, as this guy clearly doesn’t, you’d think they’d keep their mouth shut just to avoid being made a fool of in public.

Comments

  1. #1 spyder
    September 24, 2005

    “Why does it never stop amazing me when people who are abysmally ignorant of a given subject attempt to pontificate about it”

    well it couldn’t possibly be because their role models and leaders–corporate executives, think tank directors and industry lobbyists, top-ranked pundits & commentators, and of course the essential leadership of the Congress(both parties) and Executive branch of the US government–have found it to be an effective organizing strategy???

  2. #2 raj
    September 24, 2005

    Excellent smackdown, PZ.

  3. #3 mark
    September 25, 2005

    And of course they all see themselves as the New Galileo (or the new Isaac Newton of Information Theory) leading the revolution to a paradigm shift (to use an overused and abused buzz phrase).

  4. #4 Michelangelo
    September 25, 2005

    Ah, the 5 Phylla…weren’t they that ’60s band made entirely of dough?

  5. #5 Matthew
    September 26, 2005

    No love for amphibians? He left that one out as the 6th phyla, and in doing so found the half-fish, half-reptile he was hoping he wouldn’t find.

  6. #6 Dave S.
    September 26, 2005

    Furthermore, we don`t even see crossovers between the 5 Phylla (classes of animals) anywhere, at any time. Where are the giant mammaried mosquitos? Where are the snakes which deliver live young?

    I think he may be confusing Phyla with Kingdoms. Back in grade school, we learned there were 5 kingdoms (plants, animals, fungii, protozoans and bacteria). I think it’s a little more complex than that today.

    As for snakes bearing live young, there are several examples; for instance the banded sea snake (Laticauda colubrina), the common adder (Vipera berus), and the common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis).

    I can’t help him with the giant mammaried mosquitoes, except to say I’d hate to see one of those suckers bearing down on me at the cottage.

  7. #7 Uber
    September 26, 2005

    All pit vipers give birth to live young as due all boas.
    :-)

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