Abbie vs Charles Jackson

If you happen to have a spare 3.5 hours…. OMFG TEH VIDEOZ!

BIG thank you to Doug for taping and subsequently ‘dealing with’ a shitload of video, just for readers of ERV. Least you all can do is clicky over to his site to see his gorgeous photography. You can also watch his short films at YouTube 🙂


  1. #1 Shrunk
    April 6, 2009

    Is anyone convinced Jackson even actually understands the ERV evidence? I’m not. His arguments certainly don’t suggest he does. His reference to the two species of lemur contracting the same retrovirus suggests he believes common descent is demonstrated only by the presence of identical viruses in different species, and not by the existence of identical INSERTION POINTS.

    In a way, it’s not surprising. When it comes to ERV’s, incomprehension is the only defense creationists have to save their precious belief system from going down in flames.

  2. #2 jon
    April 6, 2009

    My god WW.

    Debate requires you to back up your assertions with
    actual evidence, not just anecdotal beliefs or “feelings” or faith. The “winner” is not decided on based on who “tawks

    To quote someone wiser than myself:

    “Leroy, you are dumb as hell!”

  3. #3 Jason F.
    April 6, 2009


    FWIW (and it probably isn’t much), I’ll give you some feedback from a veteran biologist who’s spent a fair amount of time speaking in public and debating creationsts (although rarely doing the two together).

    First, let me say that the way you presented your explanations of the data was very, very good. Using the “two computers” to show different means of producing new genetic material was very clever and very easy to understand. And very good job on not just leaving it at the abstract/idea level, but following each up with specific examples. Give yourself some cookies!!

    I second the other poster’s suggestion that you purchase a remote clicker to advance your slides. That’ll allow you to walk around more, which has the duel effect of letting you get closer to your audience and making you feel more at ease (it does for me).

    One thing that’s always worked for me when debating creationists is to approach the debate as if we’re starting off with creationism and evolution being equally possible. Then you pose the questions: What would we expect to see if evolution/common descent were true? What would we expect to see if YEC were true? What wouldn’t we expect to see if evolution/common descent were true? What wouldn’t we expect to see if YEC were true?

    Then you define what is and isn’t expected under evolution/common descent and put it to your opponent to define the same for YEC. IOW, you’re putting them on the spot to say what could potentially falsify YEC. And as any veteran of these debates will tell you, they can’t do it. And as they try and weasel out of it (which they will do), don’t let up. Politely keep your foot on the gas and keep asking, “But what would falsify YEC?”

    The net effect of all this (in my experience) is that those who are more inclined to actually listen to you (the hard-core creationists won’t care one way or the other) will come away understanding that evolution/common descent carries all sorts of positive predictions that have been born out in the data, and “evolutionists” will even give you lists of things that would disprove it all. Whereas YEC can’t do anything similar and can’t come up with even one thing that would prove it wrong.

    In the end, the overall event looked very much like what one would expect when a professional snake-oil salesman debates a young graduate student. The professional con-artist knew how to sell to a friendly audience, even though what he was selling was obviously bullshit. And the young graduate student really knew the details and had some clever ideas about how to present them, but wasn’t quite sure how to sell it all to an unfriendly audience.

    But don’t worry. I remember my first public meeting in a hostile environment. TV cameras, reporters, angry mob waving signs and chanting slogans….and me, a fresh young biologist trying to show slides of data. Believe me, it gets easier. You were very wise to see this as a learning experience and a chance to get some practice.

    BTW, how many people were in the building? I’m just now to the Q&A, and was a little surprised when the camera turned and I saw a bunch of empty pews. Did people leave, or was it just sparsely attended?

    Oh, and one more BTW….Jackson? Come on. His tone came across as waaaaaaay too “fatherly”. Did he think he was the Pope or something? And what’s with the shirt? Was he trying to say, “Hey kids! I’m hip…just look at this whacky shirt”? Even as professional creationist presenters go, he was pretty bad.

  4. #4 Jason F.
    April 6, 2009

    As a follow-up to the above strategy suggestion, it basically falls under the banner of “Make them defend creationism”.

    The title of the debate was “Evolution vs. Creation”, yet you spent the entire structured time talking about and defending evolution.

    In the future, try and devote at least some time to putting them on the defensive and making them defend the absurdity that is YEC.

  5. #5 Jason F
    April 6, 2009

    Ok…watching the Q&A….Jackson so far has been given waaaaaaaay too much free reign to just spout one falsehood after another.

    Abbie, perhaps in the future you could politely interject at key points, e.g. when he was doing his “they’re just extinct monkeys” thing, pop up and say, “I’m curious as to where you draw the line between ‘monkeys’ and ‘humans’, and specifically on what traits that line is based”.

    Or when he was going on about “microevolution is just the reshuffling of existing genes”, you could again politely interject and say, “So evolutionary events where new genetic material is generated are ‘macroevolution’?”, and if he agrees, point to a couple of insertion events and say “There ya’ go…macroevolution is an observed fact!”, and if he disagrees, politely point out how he’s contradicting himself.

    Again, make them defend creationism. We all know they can’t do it in any honest, consistent manner; all you have to do is ask them to explain their assertions and a lot of other people will realize it too.

  6. #6 Tyler DiPietro
    April 6, 2009

    Wallaids, you really are the most pathetic piece of shit I’ve ever met, even online. You prattle on and on about how Abbie lost the debate without bringing up any specific points or why you found them compelling. All you do is try lame intimidation tactics with more than a little hint of misogyny. Really, you’re fucking pathetic. You need to an hero ASAP.

  7. #7 Jason F.
    April 6, 2009

    Last post for now….

    I can’t watch any more. The Q&A is 90% Jackson spewing outright lies, one after the other as if he were channeling Hovind from prison. How many freakin’ times is he going to say “it’s just an assumption” before someone corrects him with “No, it’s a conclusion based on data. An assumption is something you just make up.”

    Abbie, I have to give you some serious props for keeping your cool. I don’t think I could have. And having read your accounts of your encounter with DreamDate Casey, it’s obvious you have a snarky bad temper, which makes your composure here all the more amazing.

    YEC is such an inherently dishonest position, it is impossible to advocate it in a truly honest fashion. I’ve yet to see a YEC [b]not[/b] engage in dishonest behavior.

    I need some liquor and a hot soak…….

  8. #8 John Phillips, FCD
    April 6, 2009

    Well, it seems, that wee willie wanker shares the usual in common with other creotards like Jackson. I.e. the propensity to make blanket statements unsupported by any evidence and to openly lie for jeebus without apparent shame.

  9. #9 BathTub
    April 6, 2009

    When someone puts on a Fey accent to quote someone, they automatically lose any respect they might have had.

    I think I understand what people are saying when they say you are being too nice. Dr Jackson was allowed to spout off a whole of stuff that should have been responded to. And ignore hard questions that he didn’t want to answer. A couple of examples. He stated that ‘Evolutionists’ say there couldn’t have been global flooding. First of all what’s that got to do with Evolution? And when have Geologists ever declared, no large scale flooding! Ever! That’s just a total strawman.
    And for the flood ‘sorting’ the remains into the way they are, that was just complete BS on his part.

    It’s letting stuff like that go unanswered that I think leads to the claims of being ‘too nice’.
    Dr Jackson was clearly an experienced talker, and experience should help you with things like this for the future. I enjoyed watching the video.

  10. #10 Dustin
    April 7, 2009

    Wallaids…You prattle on and on about how Abbie lost the debate without bringing up any specific points or why you found them compelling.

    That’s because he didn’t watch the debate. Nobody would watch the botch that is the beginning of part 2 and conclude that Kramer Dr. Poolboy won. Chromosome fusion means they fused in humans but not in chimps? What? This guy could lose an argument to a coat rack.

  11. #11 Dustin
    April 7, 2009

    YEC is such an inherently dishonest position, it is impossible to advocate it in a truly honest fashion.

    To their credit, I’ve met several YeCs who are quite sincere in their beliefs and direct in their presentation of them. This is much more than I can say for the IDiots, who grow on disingenuity like fruit flies maggots grow on a disgusting paste of yeast and cornmeal.

  12. #12 386sx
    April 7, 2009

    Chromosome fusion means they fused in humans but not in chimps? What? This guy could lose an argument to a coat rack.

    I don’t see how he could lose that argument. If Jesus wouldn’t have fused the chromosomes, then humans would be pretty much the same as chimps. Jesus wanted humans to be different (of course), so that’s why he created humans with the more complex chromosome fusion.

  13. #13 Jason F.
    April 7, 2009

    To their credit, I’ve met several YeCs who are quite sincere in their beliefs and direct in their presentation of them.
    Oh, I’ve met some who tried to say “My YEC is based completely on the Bible”, which on its face seems honest enough. But start asking questions about science, and you’ll quickly see that while on one hand they tut-tut and wave away science as “the product of fallible humans” and say it’s only “God’s word” that matters, OTOH they fully enjoy the fruits of modern science.

    That in itself is inherently dishonest.

  14. #14 JohnT
    April 7, 2009

    Hey Abbie,

    Did you know your picture is on the blog Why Women Hate Men In fact, the caption is right above your picture. Did you start a new blag? Hope Dumbeski, Behe, W.W., Sal, etc. didn’t cause this.

  15. #15 JohnT
    April 7, 2009


  16. #16 JohnT
    April 7, 2009


  17. #17 JohnT
    April 7, 2009

  18. #18 «bønez_brigade»
    April 7, 2009

    About the remote control for presentations…
    What’s funny is that Abbie had a picture of a remote control in the slide about laptop accessories, jeez.

  19. #19 Stefan
    April 7, 2009

    Wow, good job! I wouldn’t have been able to keep still once the Q&A started and the real crazy hobo talk came out.

    It seemed like you were really only willing to talk about genetics and ERVs, which of course is what the talk was supposed to be about. All that stuff about dinosaur blood and fossil evidence was obviously bullshit, but you didn’t have the tools to castrate him on it. Not many do, simply because unless you know what wild assertions the ambling hobo is going to throw out it’s hard to explain how the data is being abused. But when it came to genetics he looked like a fool. I so wanted someone to call him on how absurd the need for abiogenesis is when talking about evolution. I mean we understand how gravity works, but we still don’t know what it is; it’s magic as far as anyone is concerned but because we can measure it we can do science!

    I wonder if you could take a page from Hitchens rail against how absurd the creationist position is: can we trace all animals back to two genepools as we’d expect on the ark, what are the implications of carbon 13 decay being sped up 100,000 times what it is, where did all of the flood water go, human corpses floated in the flood but not the ones who were already buried. That’d take a lot of prep though, and wouldn’t really further science outreach.

    Was anyone else a little upset that he got to be “Dr. J” but you were still “Abbie”. Not that there’s anything wrong with “Abbie” 🙂

  20. #20 ray
    April 7, 2009

    Interesting tactics by the creationist here. I strongly suspect this guy knows that evolution is true: One of his main tactics was basically giving a piece of overwhelming evidence for evolution (We share 50% of our genome with bananas, the chromosome 2 fusion thing etc.) and then saying it wasn’t convincing to him without even trying to give a reason. I wonder to what extent the audience could see through this.

    The other tactic I noticed, which is a more typical creationist trick, was to try to go outside your area of expertise, make stuff up, intersperse a few cite-able facts and hope you didn’t call him on it: To wit, he named a Triassic mammal when the questioner asked him for a Permian one, he cited rate constants for protein decay in simple media and pretended it proved something about what would happen in the presence of lots of other biomolecules minerals etc., and I’m pretty sure that all his claims about rapid geologic change on Mars were bogus (the ocean thing seems to be correct, but I’ve never heard it claimed that the levels of such oceans changed by thousands of feet over the course of a year.) And it seems, no one called him on any of this stuff. I guess it’s hard to combat this for two reasons: 1) Some of his claims are supported by sources he has on hand, or at least seem to be, and it’s hard to guess which ones. 2) Even if you’re sure he’s bullshiting, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cite a source to prove it.

    Maybe these debates need some instant access to wikipedia.

  21. #21 Shrunk
    April 7, 2009

    I don’t see how he could lose that argument. If Jesus wouldn’t have fused the chromosomes, then humans would be pretty much the same as chimps. Jesus wanted humans to be different (of course), so that’s why he created humans with the more complex chromosome fusion.

    That misunderstands the nature of the chromosome 2 evidence. The fusion did not cause speciation of humans from chimps, but occurred sometime after divergence in an ancestor of all humans, but not of all chimps. It’s not any more complex than a chimp chromosome, and without it we would be no different than we are with it. Chromosomes are just a way of “packaging” genetic information. It has no effect on the content of that information.

    The reason it is considered evidence for common descent is that, before the sequencing of the genome, it was already known that humans had one fewer pair of chromosomes than other great apes. Evolutionary theory predicted that the “missing” chromosome was not actually missing, but rather was fused with another in the human line. The chromosome 2 finding confirmed this prediction, and therefore the predictive power of the ToE.

  22. #22 Shrunk
    April 7, 2009

    I just sent this email to Jackson. Let’s see if he replies.

    I will just state up front that I fully accept the theory of evolution and that the young earth creationism you expound is nonsensical and flies in the fact of every scrap of scientific evidence that exists. Just so you know where I am coming from.

    I watched with interest the video of your recent debate with Abbie (ERV) Smith, and must say I was puzzled by much of the evidence you presented to support your side. It was not at all clear to me why you believed this evidence supported creationism. In fact, although the topic of the debate was molecular evidence for evolution, I am not convinced that you even have a basic understanding of that evidence. Hence, this email to help clarify some of your points that I did not understand.

    1) You commented on the fact that our genome is 98% similar to that of chimpanzees. You then countered by saying we are also 50% similar to banana plants. Since evolutionary theory states that we do, in fact, share common ancestry with bananas, how does that constitute evidence against evolution?

    2) When Abbie detailed the ERV evidence for common descent, you mentioned a study that showed two species of lemurs had endogenized the same retrovirus. Again, why do you think this argues against common descent? You were trying to argue that common descent is just an “assumption”, yet the very study you cited demonstrated that scientists are, in fact, able to distinguish ERV insertions that are not the result of common descent.

    I hope you won’t consider this impertinent, but would you be able to explain your understanding of why evolutionary biologists consider ERV insertions to be evidence for common descent, and how the lemur study you cited argues against this?

    3) You dismissed the the paleontological evidence of hominid evolution as “a bunch of extinct monkeys.” Yet you gave no account of how you conclude these fossils were “monkeys” and not apes or humans. More fundamentally, your young earth creationist beliefs would predict that modern human fossils should be found alongside these “extinct monkeys.” Where are they? Creationists repeatedly call biologists to task for supposed “gaps” in the fossil record, but never seem to acknowledge the yawning chasms in the record where creationist evidence should be. If humans were created in their present form on the seventh day of the earth’s existence, then we should be finding modern human fossils all thru the fossil record, at all stratigraphic levels. Why is it that the human fossils we do find, according to you, are always diseased, or microcephalic, or whatever excuse you use to explain their different appearance from us? Can you explain why healthy humans seem strangely immune to the process of fossilization?

    I appreciate your taking the time to read this email. With your permission, I would like to share your response (should you choose to offer one) on Abbie Smith’s blog page.

  23. #23 slpage
    April 7, 2009

    Why oh why do these people keep claiming that molecular clocks have anything to do with molecular phylogeny?

  24. #24 slpage
    April 7, 2009

    The creationist spammer:

    “My objective (remember, I also once commented that PZ Myers won a debate against a creationist) analysis is, so far, you’re loosing, bad. Maybe it will turn around later. I’ll let you know.”

    When you learn how to spell “losing”, maybe I’ll not just scroll past your content-free rants.

  25. #25 Jason F.
    April 7, 2009

    I had to go and find the Newsweek article Jackson referred to at the beginning and used to assert that H. erectus was no longer considered an ancestor of modern humans. I found the Newsweek article…

    …and it’s interesting to see how many times the article directly contradicts other things Jackson said throughout the evening (e.g., that “Lucy” didn’t walk upright). But in what one would expect from a popular magazine, while the the article does say that erectus is no longer considered our ancestor, it doesn’t give any detail about what happened. To understand that, the Smithsonian human evolution website is a very good resource…

    …and if you go to the family tree, you will see that sure enough, H. erectus is now on its own dead end and does not lead to modern humans. But if you click the H. erectus link and then the H. ergaster link…

    …you’ll see that it wasn’t so much that erectus was removed from our line, as it was that erectus specimens in Africa were renamed H. ergaster and put on our ancestral lineage. Not exactly how Jackson presented it, eh?

    So once again, we see the inherent dishonesty one must employ to advocate YEC.

  26. #26 Rhology
    April 7, 2009

    ERV, I loved how you answered “we are slaves to evidence” when my last question (in vid 7) was whether you have a preexisting commitment to naturalism.
    I wish I’d kept the mic so I could’ve asked you to provide evidence that naturalism is true, since, after all, you’re such a slave to evidence. I would have loved to see your response.
    Given that no one wanted to answer it at the Gift to Rhology thread, want to venture a guess now?

  27. #27 «bønez_brigade»
    April 7, 2009

    I doubt this will qualify me for Randi’s $1×10^6, but I predict this part of your argument in point #3 will cause him to ignore/dodge the remainder of said point:
    “If humans were created in their present form on the seventh day of the earth’s existence,…”

    Dirt-boy Adam and his rib-wife Eve were created on the sixth day, goddammit! Get to know yer Babble better.

    Other than that egregious error, I thought all of your info for Jackson hit the proverbial nails on their respective heads. Good stuff.

  28. #28 Tim Buchanan
    April 7, 2009

    Abbie – a big heartfelt thanks for getting out there to represent critical thinking. Keep up the great work!

  29. #29 Larry_boy
    April 7, 2009

    Goodness gracious that guy is annoying. I’m going to have to sit down and figure out how to make everyone aware of what a dolt that guy is.

  30. @Rhology:

    I love how you don’t even know what question you asked. You asked if she came to the conclusion of common descent because she had a pre-existing commitment to naturalism.

    She said: No, I am a slave to the evidence, and that is what leads me to common descent.

    Perhaps you don’t understand her point: Sure, fine, a god can insert ERVs into the genome because of sin, BUT why on earth would this god insert the ERVs into the genomes of different organisms in the one and only pattern that would support common descent? Why would sin create a nested hierarchy of ERV insertion events?

    You were trying to get her to say that she believes in evolution because she is an atheist very hard, but it simply isn’t true, so she wont say it.

  31. #31 Cory
    April 7, 2009

    I have tried to watch it, puts me to sleep. though would someone be kind enough to post a good source of information on the horse hockey he was trying to pawn off as red blood cells in dinosaur fossils. Like what they really are and how they are formed.

  32. #32 William Wallace
    April 7, 2009

    [#122]Creationists repeatedly call biologists to task for supposed “gaps” in the fossil record, but never seem to acknowledge the yawning chasms in the record where creationist evidence should be.

    Did you even watch the videos? Dr. Jackson specifically addressed this issue.

  33. #33 jon
    April 7, 2009


    The Flood? Then why don’t we find human fossils scattered about in layers of all ages? Why don’t we find humans in precambrian layers? A worldwide flood would result in all sorts of random fossil assortment, why then, does the fossil record reflect the nested hierarchy predicted by evolutionary theory?

  34. #34 Tyler DiPietro
    April 7, 2009

    “I wish I’d kept the mic so I could’ve asked you to provide evidence that naturalism is true, since, after all, you’re such a slave to evidence.”

    There is no evidence that anything but naturalism is true. If you’re going to play postmodern theological obscuritanist, at least get your epistemic metrics right.

  35. #35 William Wallace
    April 7, 2009


    Dr. Jackson stated that:

    And I think you’re going to have to take some measure of trust to say that the endogenous retro virus sequences indeed couldn’t come about by an other means but common descent. That indeed it could have never have happened over the period of time since life on Earth, just by different species being invaded by the same viruses.–Dr. Jackson

    Could you reiterate the evidence for and against ERV sequences being evidence of common descent? It seems you missed an opportunity for rebuttal there, especially this is your field of expertise. I know you do admit that ERV sequence similarities could be coincidence, but somehow I believe, given the title of the debate, and a response from you that ~”we can tell the difference”, and for other reasons, that you believe that known ERV sequences are overwhelming evidence in support for common descent.

    But I don’t think you’ve done a good job articulating why in the debate. A link to a previous post would be sufficient, if you think that previous post answers this question well.

    Re #132, no. He said that creationists, like evolutionists, also have gaps in the fossil record, e.g., no discovery of a human skull stuck in the jaw of a T-rex in the case of young earth creationists. But he did also address the question of fossil strata, and a world wide flood, as well.

  36. #36 jon
    April 7, 2009

    Then you would agree that since evolution has been used for targeted fossil finds (as in the case of Tiktaalik), and that there is actual evidence to support evolutionary theory that creationism is a vastly inferior position scientifically? Creationists, you have to admit, have not found evidence to support their assertions (No precambrian humans, no evidence for a young earth, and no evidence of a world wide cataclysmic flood).

  37. #37 William Wallace
    April 7, 2009

    Sorry, just getting around to Optimus Primate…

    [#90]Does it not matter to you that Jackson didn’t have a freakin’ clue what he was talking about?

    He seemed to know what he was talking about, and to the extent that Abbie didn’t correct him (and indeed seemed to agree with him a lot), why is it you think he was ignorant.

    Does it not matter to you that he tried to make a point that Abbie had already dealt with?

    I assume you mean that he also talked about something Abbie talked about, during his rebuttal. Were there debate rules that prevented Dr. Jackson from using the same sources of information that Abbie used, during a rebuttal? If not, do you think there should have been such rules?

    Jackson followed that immediately by claiming that scientist assumed that similar ERVs in two different species could only arrive there by common descent.

    Are you suggesting that Dr. Jackson prepared the slide he used only after Abbie preemptively talked about an article. This guy is good.

    And, did he say “only”, or is that your addition–the word only? Of course you’re being deceitful–he is quoting scientists concluding different infections, which would not be logically consistent with his alleged use of the word only.

    Your point is ridiculous on its face. Care to set up strawman for me to slay?

  38. #38 William Wallace
    April 7, 2009

    That should have been: Care to set up another straw man for me to slay?

  39. #39 Wolfhound
    April 7, 2009

    SRSLY,guys, as long as anybody in a debate is on the side of God and Jesus, credulous fucktards like Limp Willy declare them the winner. Simple as that. Why this boring troll hasn’t been kicked out on his knobby ass is surely due to Abbie’s benevolence. Or her desire to collect godbot quotes from this endless font of TARD.

  40. #40 Shrunk
    April 7, 2009

    Well, I received an answer to my email (#122), sorta:

    Pick #1, #2, or #3 … and we’ll do another debate just on that very specific topic.

  41. #41 Optimus Primate
    April 7, 2009

    Wow, Willy, you just don’t freakin’ get it, do you?

    I’m going to type this a little slower, so maybe you can get it.

    I’m not saying that Jackson prepared his slide after Abbie talked about the article, you snotty little bitch, and you know good and well that I’m not implying anything of the sort. I’m saying that Jackson gave NO indication that he understood Abbie’s point when referring to the same paper. I’m saying he ignored — or didn’t understand — the fact that the statements Abbie had just made dismantled his pitiful argument in advance.

    If I had such a slide prepared, and an argument to go with it, and my opponent in a debate made said argument look ridiculous before I got a chance to present it, I would adapt my argument or skip it altogether. Jackson did neither. So he either didn’t understand what he was talking about, or he was hoping that his ignorant audience wouldn’t. You’re certainly making the second possibility look very likely, I’ll give you that.

    Slay that.

  42. #42 Shrunk
    April 7, 2009

    #135: He said that creationists, like evolutionists, also have gaps in the fossil record, e.g., no discovery of a human skull stuck in the jaw of a T-rex in the case of young earth creationists.

    I know, but all that means is that creationists can’t use the “gaps” or “no transitional forms” argument, since the gaps produced by their beliefs are far greater. (Not a single land organism of any sort in the precambrian, just for one). There’s also the issue that the creationist version of the fossil record is unfalsifiable; leaving aside the issue of gaps, any arrangement of fossils could be observed if creationism were true, since all “kinds” are supposed to exist since the moment of creation, with some “sub-kinds” going extinct along the way. IOW, any organism could be found in any stratum. However, evolution predicts a very specific pattern of fossil deposition, with unique organisms found in each stratum and a pattern of nested hierarchies evident as one goes thru it chronologically. The odds of such a pattern emerging by chance, even with a global flood, is for all intents and purposes zero. Yet guess what we actually observe?

    That’s what I would have liked Jackson to have addressed. I guess we’ll have to wait for another debate to see if he can actually answer it.

  43. #43 William Wallace
    April 8, 2009

    Wolfhound [#139], if you read above, you’ll find reference to the time that I “declared” PZ Myers a winner of a debate against a creationist.

    Simple as that.

    Epic fail, once again.

  44. #44 Dustin
    April 8, 2009

    Given that no one wanted to answer it at the Gift to Rhology thread, want to venture a guess now?

    You were given several answers in that thread, as well as elsewhere. You ignored most of the answers or simply declared without reason or evidence that they couldn’t be right. Nobody is going to waste their time with your presuppositionalist nonsense anymore.

  45. #45 Shrunk
    April 8, 2009

    In a way, this debate just emphasizes why I am surprised that a scientist can ever win a debate with a creationist. The scientist is at a distinct disadvantage in that she is constrained by her insistence on only using evidence that is valid, while creationists have no hesitation in simply making stuff up or misrepresenting evidence. They also attempt to use their ignorance to their advantage. An example here is where Jackson asks, seemingly rhetorically, how many of the ERV’s in common with humans and chimps are orthologous. The impression he leaves is that this is some as-yet unanswered question, when in fact the answer is well known.

    As PZ memorably put it to another creationist, “Your ignorance does not constitue evidence.” Creationists fail to grasp this simple fact.

  46. #46 Sabina
    April 8, 2009

    I just finished watching it over the past few days. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from your presentation. You could/should have been more aggressive and direct imo :).
    I expected your 10 min rebuttle to address some of the more specific things he’s said. While I am unfamiliar with Charles Jackson, he does seem to be somewhat more prepared with evidence to refute what he expects you or the audience will bring up. I would have liked to see your response to the dinosaur red blood cells thing, as an example.

    I think that one of your strengths as a speaker in that situation, is that you make yourself seem very approachable. (and perhaps if you were more aggressive it would reduce your approachability) Even with very simple, pretty much non topical questions you handled it very well and seemed unintimidating. Thanks for posting this, and thanks for making it accessible.

  47. #47 386sx
    April 8, 2009

    That misunderstands the nature of the chromosome 2 evidence. The fusion did not cause speciation of humans from chimps, but occurred sometime after divergence in an ancestor of all humans, but not of all chimps.

    Maybe, but not for Dr. Jackson. He can have it however he wants because he’s got magic that can do whatever he wants. That’s his whole shtick.

    He’ll never be a scientist, and he’ll look like an idiot, but he’ll never lose an argument. (He’s not trying to be a scientist anyway, as we all know, I’m sure.)

  48. #48 Shrunk
    April 8, 2009

    Re: The T. rex soft tissue samples that have been brought up several times here. This remains very much a topic of active debate with no clear resolution as yet. Recent evidence has suggested that the soft tissue may in fact have merely been a contaminant:

    In any event, the creationists are just trying to make more of this than is warranted. While obviously a startling finding, it does not in any way refute the idea of an old earth. Even if it does turn our to be genuine dino meat, all that would mean is that our assumptions about how long soft tissue can be preserved need to be revised. We should also be finding things like this all the time, just as we find preserved humans and mastadons, if the YEC’s were correct. Yet we don’t find whole preserved dinosaurs frozen in blocks of ice. Why not, I wonder?

  49. Talk Origins has a few words about it.

    One interesting point they make is that the age of the protein can be directly dated using amino racemization, which looks at the proportion of amino acids that have undergone a very very slow conversion from the shape they were produced in, into a mirror image of that shape.

    Additionally, I’m sure that that “Dr.” J’s claim that the proteins can’t possibly survive this long is bunk. Unfortunately, it may take quite a bit of time to track down information on the half-life of peptide bonds in collagen or whatever protein they believe they have found. That pesky ‘R’ influences the rate of hydrolysis dramatically, as does the tertiary structure of the protein, so I can’t just throw out some number like ‘11,000 years’ right now. Once the matrix the bone was in dried out, the the protein would have been stable, so we just need enough time to fossilize the bone and seal it off from further moisture.

  50. #50 Prometheus
    April 8, 2009

    I’m having this tattooed on my butt:

    “Epic fail, once again.

    Posted by: William Wallace | April 8, 2009 12:05 AM”

  51. #51 Shrunk
    April 8, 2009

    He’ll never be a scientist, and he’ll look like an idiot, but he’ll never lose an argument. (He’s not trying to be a scientist anyway, as we all know, I’m sure.)

    Good point. I keep making the mistake of thinking that creationists want to be scientists. Of course, they don’t. They just want the public to be unable to tell the difference between science and the superstitious bullshit that the creationists expound.

  52. #52 AtheistAcolyte
    April 8, 2009

    Abbie, I’m just about finished watching the whole debate. Long time, split it over two days, mostly running in the background while I work. Two points I’d like to make:

    1) Dr. Jackson is a Gish-Galloping, nonsensical, unscientific, intellectually dishonest and sloppy turd.

    2) I think I love you.


  53. #53 Attila
    April 8, 2009


    Watched the debate, don’t know if I enjoyed the last few segments were painful. I don’t think I could have sat there without resorting to screaming obscenities at Mr. Jackson. One thing that very much bothered me is you certainly had the molecular evidence to pwn him. I just don’t think you hammered it hard enough. I think the point that ERVs show up in identical locations of related genomes didn’t get hammered in. I thing cdk007 does a really good job of it here:

  54. #54 Ben Breuer
    April 9, 2009

    Œuvre finit [or something? Commedia finita est]! Watched the debate (?) in two binge installments, kinda like Buffy-DVDs a few years ago.

    Good work, Abbie! When I saw his slides I was a bit apprehensive because they’re placative, and his word clouds drifted along quite nicely with them, but in the course of the debate, he derailed ever more and you stuck with stuff you knew well. I do not like the tone of his voice, its cadences.

    His shirt? Meh. I have a Hawaii shirt on bright red silk. Let me debate you. Ha! (But on what?)

  55. #55 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 9, 2009

    Did anyone else catch the part in the second video at 5:14 where he complains about scientists going away from “hard data” to “more numerical data” and complaining about the use of “complex mathematical models”?

  56. #56 Inoculated Mind
    April 10, 2009

    Hi Abbie, I watched the structured part of the debate – I’m too busy to watch all the Q/A na dprobably won’t get to it, so I had these points to make:
    1. Good job relating the excitement and fun of doing science to the audience. You came off as interesting, approachable, and genuinely concerned with getting at the truth.

    2. Your Lego analogy was pretty good, it allows people who don’t know much about the biology to grasp the basic idea. Perhaps you could modify it thus: Think about the kid playing with the legos, and modifying one lego structure to turn it into another versus making the second one from scratch. If you got a hold of some Legos and chewed up one yellow brick in an obvious location on one structure, took a picture, and added a few parts to make it a new structure to take a second picture, you’ve got something really useful and accessible. A chewed up yellow brick in the same place on two similar lego toys would communicate both parts of your argument.

    3. I think you could have double-emphasized how we know that certain ERVs are evidence of common ancestry. Your opponent was being dishonest about the evidence, and claiming that all ERVs that are in common between two related species are the result of multiple infections. A simple statement reiterating that and letting the audience know, even politely, that your opponent is misrepresenting the facts and is not knowledgeable about the topic could help.

    4. Your opponent left himself wide open for a broadside. Although I did not watch this portion but others have commented, he said that he is open to accepting evidence for evolution. But at the beginning, he said that he interprets everything through the ‘lens’ of creationism. These two statements are irreconcilable – because if he interprets everything through the creationist paradigm, then there can be no evidence of evolution that will convince him.

    5. Be prepared to define pseudoscience to your audience. There was an audience question about sin entering the world and causing these mistakes, etc, and the person asking the question seemed to think, quite smugly, that there would be no way to prove that god didn’t do it. Please take this as an opportunity to explain to the audience that this is pseudoscience. You can start by asking the audience member back – “since you believe that God is Omniscient and Omnipotent, do you believe that there is anything that God cannot do?” (No) “So then, you agree that since God can do anything, that there is no possible way to prove that God did or did not do something.” (correct) “Ladies and gentlemen, this member of the audience is caught up in what is known as pseudoscience – he has a belief that cannot be proven nor disproven by evidence… etc”

    Otherwise, good show, and I hope you get to do more!

  57. #57 cprs
    April 11, 2009

    Sad to see my comments and questions have disappeared. Especially the one about the intricate functional aspects of some ERVs.
    Why, SAS?

  58. #58 cprs
    April 11, 2009

    Sorry wrong thread – feel free to delete these two mails if you wish, or else leave them as a permanent reminder of my clumsiness!

  59. #59 Patrick
    April 11, 2009

    Watching the next 10 now. Can’t believe he got away with the Mars valley flood thing…It’s a rift valley. He’s a liar.

    And morganucodon was triassic, not permian. He’s a liar.

    And it’s totally disingenuous to call it a ‘rat’. Small with hair does not a rat make.

  60. #60 Patrick
    April 11, 2009

    I commented too soon…plants temporarily break the second law of thermodynamics…wow.

  61. #61 Tommykey
    April 12, 2009

    Can’t believe he got away with the Mars valley flood thing…It’s a rift valley. He’s a liar.

    That’s one I always like to throw at Creationists. The Mars valley is larger than the Grand Canyon, so unless Noah’s Flood included Mars, how did that come about?

    I also like to ask Creationists how do they know that the Grand Canyon didn’t predate the Flood? Maybe God made it that was to begin with.

  62. #62 «bønez_brigade»
    April 12, 2009

    @ piers [#75] & Abbie [#81],
    Re: The pot/leaf/frond shirt Dawkins wore in OK.

    That sounds like the shirt Dawkins wore yesterday for his speech at the American Atheists convention in Atlanta — if the one to which you two refer is blueish w/ white & green leaves (and not as gaudy as Jackson’s).

  63. #63 Inoculated Mind
    April 13, 2009

    I commented too soon…plants temporarily break the second law of thermodynamics…wow.

    Wait a second, he claimed that plants temporarily break the second law of thermodynamics???

    Please tell me which clip this was in, I want to grab the audio!

  64. #64 Greg Martin
    September 17, 2009

    Abbie, I’m sorry, but he won this debate. He was prepared, articulate, and sounded actually much more objective than you.
    You kept using the word “cool” and appeared smug and unprepared, as if you felt you did not have to prepare for showing something that is so obvious. I was actually an evolutionist, until I saw this debate, and his crazy shirt.
    I expected you to rip him up. And then he spoke, and you spoke, and he showed how objective and rigorous a creationist could actually be, while you proved how circular and self-congratulatory an evolutionist could be. Stop smiling, and assuming people think what you do is cool, and fit yourself to fight the facts next time. He blew you away, sorry.

  65. #65 Greg Martin
    September 18, 2009

    Oh, as to those who think Jackson did not present any real facts, he mentioned the mammal in the Permian strata, he compared the number of combinations of ERVs possible, with the number of known ones Abbie is studying, and asked her if is possible that the known ones should be enough to prove evolution, and she had no answer. And THAT was what the debate was about, folks! It was not about proving Creationism right. Dr. Jackson was aggressive and rigorous, even dismissing a so-called “supporter” who tried to help him with a lame argument about animals eating each other. He was objective and less biased than Abby, who kept gushing over her love of the science, as if that was a convincing argument. Abbie may have science on her side, but the burden of proof was on her to prove her case, and she failed miserably, partly due to lack of preparation and assuming her audience would accept her circular reasoning. I remember one point in the debate, when she appeared flustered, she claimed that these ERVs have taken “millions of years” to develop. That’s called circular reasoning, Abbie. Your job is to prove evolution, not assume it–that is exactly why people distrust evolanders, because they make a lot of assumptions.

  66. #66 LanceR, JSG
    September 18, 2009

    @”Greg Martin” #165 …exactly why people distrust evolanders…

    Limp Willy? Is that you? Hiding behind a(nother) pseudonym?

  67. #67 minimalist
    September 18, 2009

    Wally ripped off the term from some other nut whose name escapes me; it could be that guy who’s sockpuppeting.

    I always love the “I used to be an evolooshunist until…” trolls. So pathetically obvious, yet they’re convinced they’re fooling anyone. It’s like a retarded kid wearing a plastic Batman mask and insisting he IS Batman.

  68. #68 Rhology
    September 18, 2009

    Because comments like “It’s like a retarded kid wearing a plastic Batman mask and insisting he IS Batman.” are SO indicative of an unbiased mind.

  69. #69 ElbaCHANG20
    May 25, 2012

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