Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Darwin Shot the VT Students!

My first thought on hearing about the shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday was, “I wonder who long it will be before a creationist blames this on ‘Darwinism.’” Answer: less than 24 hours. And to no one’s surprise, it’s Ken Ham, an uber-fraud if ever there was one.

We live in an era when public high schools and colleges have all but banned God from science classes. In these classrooms, students are taught that the whole universe, including plants and animals–and humans–arose by natural processes. Naturalism (in essence, atheism) has become the religion of the day and has become the foundation of the education system (and Western culture as a whole). The more such a philosophy permeates the culture, the more we would expect to see a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness that pervades people’s thinking. In fact, the more a culture allows the killing of the unborn, the more we will see people treating life in general as “cheap.”

How predictable. And stupid. This is as dumb as someone claiming that Dick Cheney shot the students after warming up on his buddy in Texas.

Comments

  1. #1 CPT_Doom
    April 17, 2007

    It is especially pathetic and sad because it is not even clear what, if anything, this man learned in schools. Assuming the initial reports are true, the anti-intellectuals will have to go after Red China for their attacks, as this man does not appear to have even been a product of the US education system.

  2. #2 Royale
    April 17, 2007

    My first thought was “is my sister OK?”

    She is. But her sorority sister was killed.

  3. #3 llDayo
    April 17, 2007

    Hopefully this won’t sound deranged but I would love to see this student’s religious (if they’re ever presented) turn out to side with christian fundamentalism.

    Royale, was sister safely away from the shooter the whole time? How’s she getting along at the moment?

  4. #4 Chuck
    April 17, 2007

    “How predictable. And stupid.”

    There is an interesting correlation between predictable ideas and stupid ideas. Go contrarians!

  5. #5 Royale
    April 17, 2007

    My sister was off-campus at the time. Fortunately.

    She’s shaken up. Very much so. We all are. Half my high school went to VT.

  6. #6 Brandon
    April 17, 2007

    I’m very sorry for your sister’s loss, Royale. I don’t have any personal connection to the victims of the massacre, but as a college student, I can feel the pain the students of VT are going through.

    Shortly after the Columbine massacre, a student came to school wearing a shirt that said, “God, why don’t you protect our schools?” “I’m not allowed in schools.” Yeah, because the two kids weren’t raised Lutheran or anything, no siree. I don’t see how anybody can buy the notion that religious = non-violent, because, as sad as it is, anybody is capable of these kinds of atrocities.

    I am interested in seeing whom the FBI reveals as their main suspects, and what their backgrounds were like. The identities of the gunmen (their religion, race, political views, social class, etc.) will be used as ammunition for the culture battles to come.

  7. #7 Elf Eye
    April 17, 2007

    It has just been announced that the student was South Korean in origin but was a resident alien with a Virginia address. No connection at all to either of the two Chinas.

  8. #8 Chuck
    April 17, 2007

    For example, another predictable line of blame from the right: “If more people had carried guns this would not have happened, or the death toll would be lower.”

    This belief stems from an unfortunate tendancy among the Right to divide the world into fundamentally good people and fundamentally evil people. The problem is that, except in the case of certain neurological disorders which predispose people to radically antisocial behavior and an inability to empathize with others (these people usually become serial killers, not mass murderers who go postal one day), most people seem to have the same tendency to commit what would normally be considered evil acts, as the Milgram experiments and their successors demonstrate. If you arm everyone, you increase the opportunities for young men who’ve had a really bad day to go completely postal. I predict that if more people carried guns, the frequency of incidents like this would increase.

    What we should do completely ban guns. My Chinese coworkers inform me that in China, human beings who go postal (and they’re everywhere – it is not an American phenomenon) are forced to knife their victims which causes the devastation wrought by the attack to be quite limited.

    Oh, but young virtuous Christians carrying guns would never commit mass murder. That’s only for the evil people.

    How predictable. And stupid.

  9. #9 spartanrider
    April 17, 2007

    Chuck,

    I am all for banning guns,but every time I bring this up to law enforcement people they shoot down the idea.None of them seem to like the idea of being unarmed.The only people I know that have ever completely banned guns were the Japanese for a period of about 150 years.Even without guns they managed to slaughter each other at fairly alarming rates.Maybe I am a little paranoid,but I don’t trust anyone with a monopoly on printing presses,pulpits,or guns.

  10. #10 The Ridger
    April 17, 2007

    Yes, because nobody ever killed anybody else before Darwin. Sheesh.

  11. #11 Stuart Coleman
    April 17, 2007

    Did you hear about Schlussel? She blamed it on Muslims

    I’m not even going to get into gun control, and I think the people who immediately start saying, “WE SHOULD BAN GUNS” are reacting far too soon. Wait until the dead are buried before getting on your soapboxes, have some fucking decency.

  12. #12 Gretchen
    April 17, 2007

    Gun bill gets shot down by panel:

    HB 1572, which would have allowed handguns on college campuses, died in subcommittee.
    By Greg Esposito
    381-1675
    A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly.
    House Bill 1572 didn’t get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.
    The bill was proposed by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, on behalf of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Gilbert was unavailable Monday and spokesman Gary Frink would not comment on the bill’s defeat other than to say the issue was dead for this General Assembly session.
    Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

  13. #13 Dave
    April 17, 2007

    Look, it’s too soon to start the politicizing of this terrible event. This isn’t just a chance for us to start shouting our beliefs at each other. But every day when something terrible happens, human beings ask the question “Who do these bad things happen?”

    Since it’s already come up, this begs the question: If evolution is true, what is wrong with this kid shooting up the place?

    Having moderately studied the different theories on the subject, human behavior makes very little sense according to evolution.

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    April 17, 2007

    Dave wrote:

    Since it’s already come up, this begs the question: If evolution is true, what is wrong with this kid shooting up the place?

    What in the world does one have to do with the other? Spell out your argument, for crying out loud. If by this you mean “evolution = atheism and without God we can’t ever say what’s right and wrong”, then by all means state the argument. It’s a ridiculous argument, but if you’re going to advocate it at least spell it out. And if that’s not what you mean, then say what you do mean.

    Having moderately studied the different theories on the subject, human behavior makes very little sense according to evolution.

    I suggest studying it in a little more depth.

  15. #15 Matthew Young
    April 17, 2007

    Having moderately studied the different theories on the subject, human behavior makes very little sense according to evolution.

    This is one of the most world class gems of idiotic buffoonery I have seen in a long time. Do you not understand or know anything of evolutionary psychology?

    Actually, morality and deviations from morality make perfect sense when examined within the framework of evolved traits of a highly social animal. One that not only depends on the success of its social function for survival as a species but also confers an advantage on individuals within that species that are able to function better within society. In case you have any doubts, morality can be observed in other social animals, not just humans.

    I might just as idiotically observe, given the carnage and smiting and such other unmitigated rubbish in the old testament, then it’s hardly surprising in a society that adheres generally to the moral void preached by the bible, that people go on psychotic killing sprees like this one.

    Dave you are utter clown.

  16. #16 Gretchen
    April 17, 2007

    Look, it’s too soon to start the politicizing of this terrible event. This isn’t just a chance for us to start shouting our beliefs at each other.

    I respectfully disagree. I wouldn’t shout my beliefs at the parents/friends/family of the students who were killed, but then I wouldn’t shout anything at them. The rest of us have some thinking to do, because you can be sure that people are going to use this event to push gun control even more, in spite of the fact that this shooting happened in a place where guns are banned. When the WTC attacks happened, a friend and I sat in front of the TV and said “I wonder how many rights they are going to obliterate in the name of security against terrorism?” When people are scared and/or grieving, they care less about liberty and therefore are more willing to make that tradeoff. Therefore the best and most critical time to be concerned about freedom is immediately after such events happen.

    I’ll stop there, because this is not a thread about gun control. It’s a thread about something I think we all (except apparently you) can agree on, which is that blaming evolution for the shootings is absolute lunacy.

  17. #17 Michael Suttkus, II
    April 17, 2007

    Dave is using the standard misapprehension of evolution where any feature of a species must have specifically evolved. If humans are capable of being violent, they must have evolved this capacity. So why would we evolve to kill each other?

    It’s wrong on several levels, of course. For one thing, as an intelligent species, much of our behavior is not genetic in origin, so not subject to evolution. So, while it is reasonable to ask “why did male lions evolve to kill the offspring of other males”, and, indeed, such an explanation exists, a parallel case in humans is not an open and shut case. (It’s not completely open and shut with the lions either, of course. They’re fairly intelligent, as animals go.)

    Simply put, if this was a case of simple evolution, then “mass killing” would be a genetic trait. If that was the case, then our shooter would come from a family of mass killers going back centuries. We could track the gene by the mass murderers in his lineage! This doesn’t happen, so it’s either not genetic, not purely genetic, or is a mutation that occured spontaneously in him, in which case evolution is working just fine as I doubt he’ll be founding any descendent lines anymore!

  18. #18 Raging Bee
    April 17, 2007

    If evolution is true, what is wrong with this kid shooting up the place?

    This is an absolutely idiotic non-sequitur. Don’t you even care enough to TRY to think straight?

  19. #19 Gretchen
    April 17, 2007

    If gravity is true, then what is wrong with molesting children?

    If heliocentrism is true, then what is wrong with torturing people?

    If relativity is true, then what is wrong with slapping puppies?

  20. #20 MartinC
    April 17, 2007

    Its all evolution’s fault.
    If we had just stopped at the pre-Cambrian none of this would have happened.

  21. #21 kehrsam
    April 17, 2007

    I think he was arguing along the lines of “This will help evolution through the elimination of the non-bullet-proof people.”

  22. #22 Caliban
    April 17, 2007

    “If gravity is true, then what is wrong with molesting children?

    If heliocentrism is true, then what is wrong with torturing people?

    If relativity is true, then what is wrong with slapping puppies?”

    LOL!

    Once upon a time, when i was lost and sad and hated God; I too believed in evolution and all i could think about every day was how much i wanted to rape and kill every single person in the wholle world. Without Jesus, life had no meaning and nothing i did had any meaning and so all i ever wanted to do from the moment i got up till the moment i slept was to kill and kill and kill. But now that i’ve accepted Jesus and Creationism i got this great job in the Justice Department and I’ve never been happier. Praise Jesus!

  23. #23 Jeff Hebert
    April 17, 2007

    If relativity is true, then what is wrong with slapping puppies?

    I just want to note that “Slapping the puppy” has now become one of my favorite naughty-sounding phrases. Thank you, Gretchen.

  24. #24 Robert
    April 17, 2007

    Martin presents the only logical argument for this being the fault of evolution.

    Thanks MartinC!, It really is all evolutions fault.

  25. #25 SharonB
    April 17, 2007

    I’m waiting for Fallwell, Robertson, and Dobson to blame teh ghey.

  26. #26 Jim Ramsey
    April 17, 2007

    I’m waiting to watch the conservative tap dance if the shooter turns out to be a Moonie.

  27. #27 Beth
    April 17, 2007

    While I do not think it was the teaching of science that could have led this shooter to do what he did, I do think that a culture of disrespect for life as I call it, where we legally justify the killings of other human beings (and I include the death penalty in this as well as euthanasia and abortion) could have a profound influence on how a person could think that inflicting death could be justifiable.

  28. #28 Gretchen
    April 17, 2007

    My pleasure, Jeff. Good luck in future pursuits of puppy slapping.

  29. #29 Sastra
    April 17, 2007

    … where we legally justify the killings of other human beings (and I include the death penalty in this as well as euthanasia and abortion)

    Gee, that’s funny. You somehow forgot to mention war.

  30. #30 Bill Poser
    April 17, 2007

    From the New York Times timeline of school shootings, the incident preceding Columbine:
    lockquote>
    December 1, 1997
    West Paducah, Ky.: Michael Carneal, 14, fatally shoots three classmates and wounds five at a high school prayer meeting.

    Sounds to me like God is the one at fault, not Darwin.

  31. #31 khan
    April 17, 2007

    Manly man John Derbyshire says what he would have done:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YzllOTU0MDUzY2NhZDE2YmViYmRiNmE5ZjM1OWQxYTU=

    Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn’t anyone rush the guy?

  32. #32 Bruce
    April 17, 2007

    and I include the death penalty in this as well as euthanasia and abortion

    None of these are compairable. The death penality is non-consentual, euthenasia is consentual and foetuses aren’t people. I guess you could say general disrepsect for life, but then you would have to throw in removing weeds from your garden, stepping on ants and scratching yourself (oooo! the poor microbes!)

    Next time you see someone scratching themself, be very, very careful…

  33. #33 Brandon
    April 17, 2007

    I really wish you’d all wait until we actually know what happened before we start playing politics. We don’t know what the gunman’s motives were, and until we’ve heard testimony from the survivors, we don’t even know for sure what happened. That should, at least, answer why nobody defended himself against the gunman. Perhaps it was a tight corridor, or he had a hostage?

    What I don’t get is, the police were notified of the first shooting at 7:15 AM, well before classes started. I understand why an evacuation wasn’t feasible, but why weren’t classes cancelled if the police knew there was a killer on the loose?

    And Beth, this guy was an immigrant from South Korea. He didn’t have time to be assimilated into our “culture of death.”

  34. #34 Bill Poser
    April 17, 2007

    The killer had been in the United States since he was eight years old, so he’d had fifteen years to assimilate, not that I think that he did what he did because of any “culture of death”.

    The reason the police didn’t evacuate the campus was that they didn’t understand what had happened. Nobody saw the killings in the dorm. All the police knew was that a couple of students had been killed in one of the dorms. They treated that room as a crime scene and evacuated that dorm. At that point they had no reason to believe that this wasn’t an “ordinary” killing and that the killer was on a spree.

  35. #35 Raging Bee
    April 18, 2007

    Beth: please remember that a lot of the people who make up what you seem to think of as a “culture of life” have been known to glorify the deaths of people they don’t like: some of them have bombed abortion clinics and murdered doctors, others have called 9/11 a just punishment visited by (their) God on a sinful nation, others have explicitly glorified the grisly deaths of gay people who have done no wrong, and many of them would not hesitate to burn their “enemies” at the stake if they thought they could get away with it.

    So who, exactly, is this “culture of death” again?

  36. #36 Dave
    April 18, 2007

    Do you all normally welcome visitors so warmly, or am I just lucky on my first pass? Your behavior is unprofessional and discourteous, and although not entirely unexpected, it’s not the cool, calm, rational and professional debate I would have expected on a science blog.

    What in the world does one have to do with the other? Spell out your argument, for crying out loud. If by this you mean “evolution = atheism and without God we can’t ever say what’s right and wrong”, then by all means state the argument.

    I did not realize asking a question was forbidden here, or that there were rules on how you could phrase the question. My question is, why would human beings contrive some system of morality that they force themselves to abide by? (And I’m not talking about basic laws to prevent chaos, like laws against murder, or automobile restrictions.) I’m talking about the general moral principles that human beings harbor against lying, hypocrisy, or sexual promiscuity (which is actually beneficial, according to evolution). For example, why call down Ken Ham for linking evolution to this school shooting? Is it wrong?

    I suggest studying it in a little more depth.

    I’m talking about scientific studies which puzzle over the evolutionary enigma of human behavior, altruism being an excellent example. It doesn’t make sense in the light of evolutionary theory.

    One that not only depends on the success of its social function for survival as a species but also confers an advantage on individuals within that species that are able to function better within society.

    Where did “society” come from? Sure, now that “society” exists, it may be to our advantage to operate within its laws, but I’m talking about the big picture.

    In case you have any doubts, morality can be observed in other social animals, not just humans.

    Here you are appealing to a standard of assumed morality. I’d be interested in your examples of animal morality, but I’m guessing all you have is biological altruism, as opposed to true altruism. There is no evidence to suggest any animal considers its actions moral or immoral; rather, these behaviors merely agree with the moral standard we already hold. I’m asking where that standard came from.

    I might just as idiotically observe, given the carnage and smiting and such other unmitigated rubbish in the old testament, then it’s hardly surprising in a society that adheres generally to the moral void preached by the bible, that people go on psychotic killing sprees like this one.

    It’s interesting that you immediately lash out at the Bible, assuming it is a counterstrike to my simple question. However, you are STILL appealing to a moral standard by insisting that people in the Bible broke it!

    It’s a thread about something I think we all (except apparently you) can agree on, which is that blaming evolution for the shootings is absolute lunacy.

    Actually, if you read the article (not just Mr. Brayton’s clipping) you’ll find that Mr. Ham wrote, “I’m not at all saying that the person who committed these murders at Virginia Tech was driven by a belief in millions of years or evolution.” He is merely reasserting what he’s said for years regarding personal tragedy according to both views.

    Dave is using the standard misapprehension of evolution where any feature of a species must have specifically evolved.

    No I’m not. I’m asking why we seem to have evolved a sense of right and wrong which at times inhibits actions that would otherwise be beneficial.

  37. #37 gwangung
    April 18, 2007

    For example, why call down Ken Ham for linking evolution to this school shooting? Is it wrong?

    Empirically and historically, yes.

    Not to mention that it doesn’t make a lot of sense, as there’s absolutely no behavioral or causal connection.

    Ham’s statement was facile and wrong, as he deliberately confuses correlation with causation.

    And it’s a statement that easily seen through WITH A MINUTE’S THOUGHT.

  38. #38 Dave
    April 19, 2007

    Empirically and historically, yes.

    How? In effect, all you said is “yes it’s wrong” with a twist of claiming “emprical” and “historical” justification. I’m asking where, I’m asking why.

    Ham’s statement was facile and wrong, as he deliberately confuses correlation with causation.

    Where did he imply even correlation?

    And it’s a statement that easily seen through WITH A MINUTE’S THOUGHT.

    You may as well give up insulting people who disagree with you. It is an unprofessional, unethical and (in this case) ineffective strategy.

  39. #39 Skemono
    April 19, 2007

    Unprofessional? What, is commenting on a blog a job now?

  40. #40 Ellie M.
    April 19, 2007

    Do you all normally welcome visitors so warmly, or am I just lucky on my first pass?

    Dave, welcome to the liberal atheist hive-mind, where all opinions are welcome as long as they’re liberal and atheist.

    I did not realize asking a question was forbidden here, or that there were rules on how you could phrase the question.

    Silly Dave! Did you think debate would actually be *welcomed*? You politely posed a reasonable philosophical question that doesn’t happen to agree with their world view. That’s Thought Crime, and it’s verboten.

    My question is, why would human beings contrive some system of morality that they force themselves to abide by?

    Give it up, Dave. They’re not interested in questions. They have all the answers already.

  41. #41 Skemono
    April 19, 2007

    Dave, welcome to the liberal atheist hive-mind, where all opinions are welcome as long as they’re liberal and atheist.

    Well, except for the fact that Mr. Brayton is neither liberal nor an atheist (you did get the hive-mind right, though–we are all Ed).

    So if we strike out liberal and atheist, we get:

    Dave, welcome to the hive-mind, where all opinions are welcome as long as they’re * and *.

    Oh dear. Still doesn’t make any sense. Let’s get rid of that last little bit, then.

    Dave, welcome to the hive-mind, where all opinions are welcome.

    There! Much better.

  42. #42 Gretchen
    April 19, 2007

    Dave said:

    I did not realize asking a question was forbidden here, or that there were rules on how you could phrase the question.

    Nor has anyone said or implied anything to that effect.

    My question is, why would human beings contrive some system of morality that they force themselves to abide by? (And I’m not talking about basic laws to prevent chaos, like laws against murder, or automobile restrictions.) I’m talking about the general moral principles that human beings harbor against lying, hypocrisy, or sexual promiscuity (which is actually beneficial, according to evolution). For example, why call down Ken Ham for linking evolution to this school shooting? Is it wrong?

    I’ll answer your second question first: Yes, he is absolutely, unequivicolly, absurdly wrong. Not to mention, you are confusing evolution with the teaching of evolution. The latter is what Ham claims caused the shooting, not the former.

    Now, the second question: You seriously need to do some reading. There is an abundance of work these days on the evolution of morality, from Marc Hauser to Frans de Waal to Steven Pinker to David Buss, and many more. It’s probably the biggest topic in evolutionary research these days whether you’re a biologist, philosopher, primatologist, or whatever. I’m not going to through it all for you here, because I couldn’t hope to do it justice. But to answer two areas you mentioned…

    Lying and hypocrisy: Both fall under the general idea of “cheating.” Cheaters are those who take advantage of dupes. Every group has an interest in identifying and punishing cheaters, because dupes do not flourish as well and will be selected against. In a group where all of the dupes are gone and there are only cheaters, then all of the cheaters will die out because there is no one left to cheat. Therefore, punishing cheaters is highly adaptive, and even punishing others for refusing to punish cheaters is adaptive as well. For more on cheater detection, you should read Leda Cosmides and John Tooby.

    Promiscuity: It’s far too simple to say that promiscuity is “beneficial, according to evolution.” Copious species do not practice unbridled promiscuity– many bird species are monogamous, and many other species live in harems (elephant seals, gorillas, etc.). As far as humans go, once our diet became more composed of meat and required a lot of hunting and we began to bear children with larger brains but take longer to develop, a necessity arose for parents to form stable relationships. In those relationships the woman could, of course, always know that her children are her own, but the man could not. This gave the man an increased need to be vigilant over the sexual practices of his mate, and is why throughout most of the world you’ll find that female promiscuity is much more heavily punished than male. For more on this, read David Buss.

    Ellie M. said:

    Silly Dave! Did you think debate would actually be *welcomed*? You politely posed a reasonable philosophical question that doesn’t happen to agree with their world view. That’s Thought Crime, and it’s verboten.

    He posed a nonsensical, leading question and failed to give any support for it. And if you think that debate doesn’t exist here or that everyone is a liberal atheist, you clearly have not been paying attention. That makes it particularly ironic for you be blasting everyone else as closed-minded.

  43. #43 jmc
    April 19, 2007

    The accuracy of evolutionary theory does not lead to one particular view of morality. Christians, Unitarians, Buddhists, Objectivists, Epicureans, atheists, Muslims, Stoics, Hindus, and every other religious and philosophical group can give their answers without rejecting the reality of common descent.

    My question is, why would human beings contrive some system of morality that they force themselves to abide by?

    Our moral sense has both biological and cultural components. A general ability to empathize with others may come with the brain, but no gene causes you to feel insulted when someone shows the soles of their feet.

  44. #44 Dave S.
    April 19, 2007

    Lying and hypocrisy: Both fall under the general idea of “cheating.” Cheaters are those who take advantage of dupes. Every group has an interest in identifying and punishing cheaters, because dupes do not flourish as well and will be selected against. In a group where all of the dupes are gone and there are only cheaters, then all of the cheaters will die out because there is no one left to cheat. Therefore, punishing cheaters is highly adaptive, and even punishing others for refusing to punish cheaters is adaptive as well. For more on cheater detection, you should read Leda Cosmides and John Tooby.

    My favourite example of this is vampire bats and blood sharing.

  45. #45 Gretchen
    April 19, 2007

    Dave S. said:

    My favourite example of this is vampire bats and blood sharing.

    Oh, do share. I don’t think I’ve heard about that.

  46. #46 kehrsam
    April 19, 2007

    I don’t think you can share blood over the internet.

  47. #47 Raging Bee
    April 19, 2007

    My question is, why would human beings contrive some system of morality that they force themselves to abide by?

    Because we see that adherence to such morality is beneficial to all members of the society that enforces it.

    (And I’m not talking about basic laws to prevent chaos, like laws against murder, or automobile restrictions.)

    Why not? Are laws against chaos and murder not part of what you call “morality?” They’re part of our morality. Do you not consider chaos and murder to be moral issues? Your separation of these issues from your discussion of “morality” is puzzling, to say the least.

    I’m talking about the general moral principles that human beings harbor against lying, hypocrisy, or sexual promiscuity (which is actually beneficial, according to evolution).

    We have rules against such things because we observe them to be in some way harmful to ourselves and others.

    (As for sexual promiscuity, it’s “good” insofar as it gives women a better chance of getting the best genetic stock in her offspring; but “bad” insofar as it may comromise the family structures needed to give kids a good, safe upbringing.)

    For example, why call down Ken Ham for linking evolution to this school shooting? Is it wrong?

    Yes, it’s wrong: it’s just plain false, and done with the intent to pervert the public debate and use this horrid incident to hurt people who have done no wrong. Remember that Commandment against “false witness?”

    Please explain what ANY of this has to do wtih evolution.

    You politely posed a reasonable philosophical question that doesn’t happen to agree with their world view. That’s Thought Crime, and it’s verboten.

    So answering questions, and pointing out a questioner’s logical fallacies, is now considered “thought crime?” Was it “thought crime” when your parents insisted you do your homework right?

  48. #48 Dave S.
    April 19, 2007

    As you may know, vampire bats can survive for 2 or 3 days at most without feeding before they starve to death. However, it’s not at all uncommon for a given bat (especially one who is young and inexperienced, who fail a third of every hunt, whereas mature adults only fail a tenth) not to be successful in finding food in that time.

    The vampires have solved this problem by practicing reciprocal altruism, where one bat will share his blood meal with a cave-mate who is worse off, even though this may lower the survivability of the first bat. He does so in expectation that he too will recieve likewise such a gift should he be in dire straits in the future. The end result is that in working together this way, all the vampires increase their viability.

    The problem of course is what to do about cheaters…lazy bats that just hang around the cave sponging free meals off those working hard. Turns out that they are able to detect through their grooming practices who is able to give and who has given in the past. Those bats which don’t give their fair share are less likely to find a willing bat to share with them in future times of need. This maintains the whole system.

    I should point out that they don’t seem to favour relatives over unrelated bats, so it’s not just kin selection, perpetuating their own gene lines.

  49. #49 Gretchen
    April 19, 2007

    Awesome. That requires a lot, actually….good memory, and the ability to track the identities of different bats and tag them with “cooperative” or “uncooperative.” Thanks Dave S.

  50. #50 gwangung
    April 19, 2007

    You may as well give up insulting people who disagree with you. It is an unprofessional, unethical and (in this case) ineffective strategy.

    You first.

    It’s astounding for you to utter this since you fail to deal with any of the points brought up by others. Hypocritical, in my book.

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