Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic, has long been locked in a pissing contest with PZ Myers over his nonsensical statements about evolution. I’ve stayed out of that for the most part, but when I saw this post I had to speak up. Here Adams displays why no one should take his views on the subject the least bit seriously. The post is titled Fossils are Bullshit. I’ll post a long excerpt below the fold that demonstrates Adams’ ignorance and intellectual dishonesty:
Yesterday I read this article in Newsweek about how DNA testing is being used to show that, well, fossils are bullshit.
The bottom line is that DNA tests (which do not set off my bullshit detector) have shown that you can’t really tell what set of bones begat other sets of bones just by looking at how they differed and how old they are. Apparently evolution is more complex than imagined, and there were lots of ape-people varieties wandering around at the same time. Some had modern features that they weren’t supposed to have. The so-called modern features apparently popped up and disappeared more than once, and in more than one species.
My bullshit filter accepts this new information. I was having a hard time with the idea that some goober in tan pants would dig up a bone fragment in Africa and know it was his own (great X 1,000) grandmother. It just didn’t feel right. And now we know, assuming the DNA evidence is solid, that the guy in the tan pants was full of shit. All that the fossils show is that there used to be ape-people who are not us.
Now, go read that article and tell me if it demonstrates that “fossils are bullshit.” This is a pure straw man, this notion that anthropologists dig up a bone fragment and claim to know direct ancestry. They may speculate about possible ancestral relationships, and they may make arguments for why this particular species is more likely to be in a direct ancestral line rather than another species, but they do not claim with certainty that species A gave rise to species B. It didn’t “feel right” because it simply doesn’t exist; Adams is inventing a straw man that makes far bolder statements than real scientists actually do.
The article he cites discusses how DNA evidence allows us to settle some of those debates and determine which of those speculations is more likely to be true. It discusses how fossil evidence only gets us so far and can only provide us information to a certain level of detail. It does not, to any sane person interested in portraying reality in an accurate manner, demonstrate that “fossils are bullshit.” Adams makes much of how evolution sets off his bullshit meter; I would suggest that if that meter doesn’t go off when he speaks about evolution, it is in serious need of repair.