Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Gary Hurd’s Lies

Over at PT, a massive 400+ comment thread has degenerated into the kind of slimefest I have no tolerance for nor interest in. I wouldn’t even have noticed this comment from Gary Hurd if someone hadn’t alerted me to it. But since it’s full of dishonest accusations against me, I think it deserves a response. Gary Hurd used to be a PT contributor until he went off the deep end last year and began firing blindly at anyone on the contributor’s list who didn’t line up 100% with him on every political issue. Apparently, his bitterness has not abated since he left, nor has his grasp of reality improved any. He writes:

Even PT hosts people who are devoted to the death of species, and the destruction of civil government. Look up the Pacific Law Foundation: they are a pack of deadly supporters of species extinction, clear cutting and death. Tim Sandefur for these pigs and earns his living working to clear cut forests and eliminate protection of endangered species. Ed Brayton is his self-professed “libritarina” soul mate. They are scum that should not be entertained as “science” presenters or supporters. They can not be trusted further than they can be kicked.

Even if one corrects all the false claims (Sandefur works for the Pacific Legal Foundation, not the Pacific Law Foundation), inserts the missing words (I presume he meant to say that Sandefur works for them), and corrects the misspellings (I guess “libritarina” is the alcoholic word for “libertarian”), it’s still a welter of nonsense. Even if Gary is right about the PLF, Sandefur earns his living working on eminent domain and right to work cases. In his spare time, and free of charge, he has also written briefs for us in the battle against creationism, and doing so has even cost him some friendships and caused some distrust among his colleagues. You can attack his ideas all you want; he’ll happily engage you on them. But attacking his integrity and trustworthiness like this is vile.

Gary’s real problem is with anyone calling themselves a libertarian. Now, if someone wants to disagree with libertarian views, I’ve got no problem with that; I disagree with some of them myself. But when the very mention of the word sends you into fits of apoplectic and irrational rage, as it does to Gary, something’s gone haywire. Actually, that’s Gary’s secondary problem. His real problem is that he’s a drunk, which only makes his fanatical hatred of all things religious and non-liberal that much more unstable and likely to result in him making an ass of himself in public. It also appears to make him lie rather badly:

Their effort to cover over, and support the physical and political attacks against scientists and anti-fundamentalists was why I ended my participation as an active contributor to PT. Brayton made a big deal when he was trying to protect the Mirecki attackers about his imaginary role as a “founder” of PT and how this precluded me from criticizing him, but as Wesley has documented, PT was largely my idea while the development was done by others.

Virtually every word of this is a lie. Not only did I not “make a big deal” out of being a founder of the Panda’s Thumb, I never even mentioned it. The only one who did was Reed Cartwright, and I actually brushed that off as irrelevant. Also, at no time did I ever “protect the Mirecki attackers”. Whoever attacked Mirecki (and none of us has any idea who it is) should be in jail for doing so. The only disagreement was over whether we should take the scant information we had at the time (and it’s stil scant) and fire off blindly at our opposition for having beat him up. I don’t think any reasonable person would confuse “let’s wait and see the evidence before we go off half-cocked” with “protecting the attackers”. That just goes to show that Gary is simply not a reasonable person.

I argued, quite reasonably I thought, that we should wait until the police have confirmed the claim that his attackers did so because of his anti-creationist advocacy before using it as a reason to attack the opposition. That position was echoed and supported by the majority of PT contributors, with only a few loudmouths wanting to open fire with the big rhetorical guns before we really had any idea what had happened. Those loudmouths, Gary most obviously, for some reason focused solely on Sandefur and me, ignoring the fact that almost everyone else agreed with us as well, and went off the deep end, calling us traitors to the cause. In that delusion, Gary appears to be alone (though perhaps there is one other who beleives that; if so, he’s never come out and said it).

What is doubly surprising about this latest comment is that now Gary seems to have expanded his targets and seen fit to attack other PT contributors as well, and equally dishonestly:

Jack Krebs hinted about “secret” information from “background” sources that made Mirecki a bad person to support. Matt Brauer was lying about the case even as I expressed it on PT. (I have archived the all the emails and webposts off-line, Matt. Scientists who lie as you have should never be trusted. You are now merely in the class of von Sternberg and the other creationists).

This inappropriate “tolerance” by liberals of the latest generation of right-wing witch burners has gone beyond any functionality. As long as Liberals persist in allowing the libertarian, fundamentalist, Republican crypto-facists to promulgate their lies out of some asinine sense of “fairness,” we will be doomed.

I think that gives you a pretty clear view of the kind of blind ideological “thinking” behind Gary’s diatribe. For him, everyone outside of his ideology is lumped together into one. Libertarian, fundamentalist, Republican and crypto-fascist are all just the same thing, they’re all Them to Gary. If a conservative expresses such ridiculously simplistic views, we rightly hammer them for it; it’s no less idiotic when it comes from a liberal.

Paul Gross hates the social sciences and actively tries to deny that they are sciences at all. No creationist has a lower opinion of anthropology than Paul. He is also a strong, even fervent Republican who would rather vote for any evil (particularly the evil named Bush)than any non-Republican. Profesionally junior PT contibuters were afraid to contradict his rightwing positions becasue he could harm their careers.

This is a rather breathtaking lie. In all the time I’ve known Paul Gross on the PT contributor’s list, I’ve never seen him even mention his political views. In fact, any time politics has come up on the list at all, Paul has repeatedly suggested that it be dropped. Nor do I have any idea why Gary thinks he knows who Paul votes for or why (I can assure you it has never been mentioned on the PT mailing list). To suggest that he is any sort of threat to anyone’s career because of his political views is absolutely delusional. For crying out loud, Paul wrote a book with Barbara Forrest, who is very much a liberal. Some threat he is.

And you wanna know how doubly ridiculous this is? In the middle of the dispute over how to handle the Mirecki situation, Paul Gross was actually supporting some of Gary’s specific suppositions on what happened to Mirecki and thought they sounded plausible (though he did not want to go off accusing the police of doing it, as Gary wanted to do). And Gary announced publicly that Paul was the person he most respected on the PT contributor’s list. What a difference a few months makes, eh? From the person he most respected on the list to one who supports evil and destroys the careers of liberals. This is simply lunacy.

Jack Krebs was a Republican County Chairman, a position I equate with a Gruppen Fürer.

Another lie. Jack has never held any position in any political party, much less this one. He was, however, a co-founder of Kansas Citizens for Science, the state group upon which all the other groups model themselves. He has spent years fighting tirelessly the attempts to weaken science education in this country. This dishonest attack on him is far worse than an attack on me. I fully admit that I can be abrasive sometimes and that might just clash with someone’s personality. But Jack Krebs? You would be hard pressed to find a nicer man in this world. Jack has devoted more time and energy to our cause than practically anyone else, over the course of many years. To tell such lies about him is beyond disgusting, especially coming from a drunken jerk like Hurd.

The Republican attack on the environment and even Life on Earth was presented decades ago by Ronnie Raygun’s Secretary of the Interior James Watt, “My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus Returns.” –James Watt to the Wall Street Journal as quoted in “James Watt & the Puritan Ethic.” By Colman McCarthy. Washington Post, May 24, 1981. PAGE L5

These swine and their supporters like Gross, Krebs, Brayton, and Sandefur have no supportive role to play. They are the party of fanatics and death. They are the faults in the foundations, and a probable back channel source to our enemies. They can not be trusted.

Gee Gary, do I not criticize the religious right enough for you? I write constantly against their agenda. Gross has written an entire book whose thesis is that ID is part of a larger cultural agenda from the religious right. Sandefur is an outspoken atheist, for crying out loud. And Krebs has spent the last 8 years of his life fighting tooth and nail against them in Kansas and around the country. Anyone who thinks that any of those listed there are “supporters” of a religious right loony like James Watt is simply too glazed over with fanaticism to be taken seriously.

All of this started because a few people dared to take the perfectly reasonable position that it was a bad idea to accuse one’s political opponents of having beat someone up without having substantial evidence to support such an accusation. Now, one can disagree with that, I suppose. One can argue that there was ample evidence to make such a charge. Only a crazed ideologue would believe that the people urging such minimal caution must be evil scum traitors out to destroy the world.

The fact is that Gary Hurd behaves exactly like Gribbit. In fact, when things got heated on the PT list, one of the first things he did was give me his address to come see him so he could beat me up (this after bragging about his long history of bar fights and what a tough guy he is). This is the sort of behavior one might expect from a 19 year old thug, not from a grown man and a scientist. The bottom line is that this man needs a shrink badly.


  1. #1 sdanielmorgan
    June 26, 2006

    Yowzers. What a flame war. I’ve seen some good ones in my day, too, but it’s rare to see the Colonels and Generals slinging the shit with such vigor. Typically it’s the privates and such [like me]…

    Gary got spanked. Poor bastard.

  2. #2 dogscratcher
    June 26, 2006

    “I fully admit that I can be abrasive sometimes…”


  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    June 26, 2006

    Well yes, even sweet little ol’ me can be a bit abrasive at times. Hell, I can be an outright prick to some people. I’ve never known Jack Krebs to be anything but a gentleman in every sense of the word.

  4. #4 Sastra
    June 26, 2006

    Obviously, everyone involved in fighting Creationism should simply stay off the subject of politics and keep to areas which are safe, like religion.

  5. #5 skipevans
    June 26, 2006

    This is really sad. Gary has truly finally completely lost his mind. He doesn’t just need a shrink; he needs to be in a hospital for a while. And I’m not trying to be sarcastic. That level of hostility against people he should know are nothing at all how he describes betrays a complete loss of grip on reality.

  6. #6 Savagemutt
    June 26, 2006

    Every few months the political and religious differences of the PT crew surface and the result is a useless flamewar. I think it would be really useful for the PT powers-that-be to redefine the limits of the blog. Let them evangelize (politically or religiously) on their personal sites and put the kibosh on the idiotic sniping at the Thumb.

    I don’t buy the whole argument that the flamefests are just a method of unwinding. There are some people taking it very seriously. For some people the fight for good science is obviously just one part of their own personal agenda. Fine, but keep your agenda to yourself when at PT!

    Sorry. Just ranting, and probably not too coherently.

  7. #7 plunge
    June 26, 2006

    Wow, sad and unfortunate. But, dems what you get when you get a bunch of people with strong opinions together.

    I think, however, that the lesson to take away from this is never to make screaming at the percieved idiocy of others and spending too much time trying to attack their personalities and beliefs part of your MO. Because that sort of thing gets to be an addictive habit, and before long you end up with the sort of black-white conversion disorder Hurd seems to have.

    It’s the really polite, brilliant people that politely outline in great detail what they think that make an impression (and polite doesn’t necessarily mean non-cutting: killing with kindness can often be devastating).

  8. #8 ThomasHobbes934
    June 26, 2006

    Wow–it seems as though some people have been sitting on some things for a while, and it only took a little provocation to bring them out. I hope that once the smoke has cleared and the rubble is carted away, everyone can at least be civil to each other again. Nearly everyone over at PT is fairly reasonable, and they don’t deserve to be embroiled in some long-running hostility (except for the sad case of Hurd, whom I suspect will not be turning back any time soon).

  9. #9 Tycho the Dog
    June 27, 2006

    I started reading that thread but gave up when the thing descended into petty name calling. The original post was clearly quite stimulating.

    It can be good to clear the air, but the level of vitriol and invective displayed was something else. When an argument slips that far into a slanging match, I think it’s time to kill it off: not in the sense of censorship; more like you’d shoot a mad dog.

  10. #10 Ca Geologist
    June 27, 2006

    I’m very sad to see that Hurd seems to be having mental problems (and that appears to be literally true). His farewell post at PT did seem unjustifiably paranoid to me (the cops framing Mirecki), but nothing like this. I’ve enjoyed reading his posts for years, both at PT and on message boards like Internet Infidels. I hope someone can convince him to get some help.

  11. #11 Raging Bee
    June 27, 2006

    Any thread with Carol Clouser AND a nut like Hurd can’t possibly be coherent. The noises in their heads are really starting to bother me…

  12. #12 Chuck
    June 27, 2006

    I’ve seen a lot of self-caricature coming from religious-right types lately, but, wow, this is pure gold. Is he serious? Can serious people really believe such nonsense? When the mind makes itself up a little too much, and the whole world with all its complexity can be summed up in a fool’s system consisting of a few slogans, the mind starts to seriously deteriorate. Add alcohol, and you get a real spectacle of human comic tragedy.

  13. #13 Heathen Dan
    June 27, 2006

    Wow, I didn’t know GHurd went off the deep end. I’ve always enjoyed his skewering of creationist nonsense in IIDB’s evo vs cre forum. But with this latest episode I may have to reevaluate my generally positive opinion of him. Hope he gets help.

    BTW, is his “drunkenness problem” for real? Has he publicly announced this or is this privy only to those who engage with him behind the scenes in PT?

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    June 27, 2006

    Heathen Dan wrote:

    BTW, is his “drunkenness problem” for real? Has he publicly announced this or is this privy only to those who engage with him behind the scenes in PT?

    I can’t tell you how many emails from him I have that mention being drunk, being hungover, getting into bar fights (something he mentions quite regularly, he appears to be proud of it) and so forth.

  15. #15 Spike
    June 27, 2006

    “I can’t tell you how many…” ’cause there aren’t any? 😉

    This post isn’t really any better, in my opinion, than the flame war over at PT. I don’t know why you had to bring up this fellow, Hurd, at all.

    Can’t we just stick to science, religion and politics like we ought?

  16. #16 Ed Brayton
    June 27, 2006

    Spike wrote:

    This post isn’t really any better, in my opinion, than the flame war over at PT. I don’t know why you had to bring up this fellow, Hurd, at all.

    Because he told lies about me and about others I consider friends. If you think correcting lies and telling lies are equivalent….well, you’re just wrong.

  17. #17 kehrsam
    June 27, 2006

    Funny, I had always thought PT was a blog about science. Little did I know. There are really two problems here.

    First is the argumentum ad hominem, which really has no part in a civilized discussion. Frankly I don’t understand how people who would never insult others in person can become so nasty in the relative annonymity of cyberspace. I think this was Spike’s point as well, Ed, not that you refuted the attacks on yourself and others, but that you descended into gossip about drinking and brawling. Even if Mr. Hurd’s emails invite it, such speculation is not appropriate for a serious discussion.

    Second, the whole idea of civilized debate has been undermined by the assumption that people with other thought than us must have some secret agenda. Whether you believe a particular proposal is part of the gay agenda, or republican agenda, etc, is immaterial; any idea stands or falls on its own merit, and our opponents need to be taken seriously enough to consider the arguments they put forward, not the ones they don’t.

    Amusingly, a Congressional candidate in the early 1980s (here in NC) ran an ad attacking his opponent for supporting an increase in the minimum wage — because the idea of the minimum wage was one of the “demands” made in the Communist Manifesto. In 1848. I think this type of thinking is better avoided.

  18. #18 Ed Brayton
    June 27, 2006

    kehrsam wrote:

    I think this was Spike’s point as well, Ed, not that you refuted the attacks on yourself and others, but that you descended into gossip about drinking and brawling. Even if Mr. Hurd’s emails invite it, such speculation is not appropriate for a serious discussion.

    But it’s not speculation. He has said many times directly to me that he drinks to the point of getting drunk regularly and that he has a long history of getting into bar fights.

  19. #19 Sylas
    June 29, 2006

    Gary has apologised for the error about thinking Jack Krebs was an elected officer of the Republican party, in comment 108930, June 28. However, it is one of the worst attempts at an apology it has ever been my displeasure to read. The whole thing is really sad.

    Cheers — Sylas, aka Chris Ho-Stuart

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    June 29, 2006

    Thanks for the heads up, Chris. Another irony meter bit the dust when I saw that Gary wrote about his unending honesty:

    As a scientist, I have a very rigid view of truth telling- you tell the truth, or you don’t.

    And he doesn’t.

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