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 Sili
    April 4, 2009

    Three-and-a-half hours?!!

    I can’t even keep up with the blogs as it is. (580 unread – and that’s after giving up Good Math, Bad Math and Unapologetic Mathematician.)

  2. #2 Stacy
    April 4, 2009

    Maybe you can tell us where the good parts are?? Please?

  3. #3 ERV
    April 4, 2009

    lol Im talking to a crazy hobo. There are no good parts. But my part is the middle of Part 2 and all of Part 3 🙂

  4. #4 Stacy
    April 4, 2009

    Oh, I can barely listen to this guy … I’m only 6 minutes in and he’s giving me a headache.

  5. #5 clinteas
    April 4, 2009

    thanks Abbie !

    I get the sinking feeling watching this that you talking to the creozombies about ERVs left them rather baffled LOL

  6. #6 Magnus
    April 4, 2009

    Jackson gives me a headache. But you seem to have done a very good job (still only at video 3).

    I’ve posted this on Richard Dawkins forums.

  7. #7 Patrick
    April 4, 2009

    Idk how, but I made it thru video 10…good job dealing with him. And the ‘zomg you didnt read teh biblez cuz ur still evilutionzist’ lady…

  8. #8 senor
    April 4, 2009

    Part 8 made my brain sad.

  9. #9 Jonathan
    April 4, 2009

    “Most people have heard about the DNA molecule- if that sounds like a big word to you there, we’re talking about DNA molecule”

    Way to talk down to your audience by the creationist. And is there such a thing as a “DNA molecule”?

  10. #10 Tommykey
    April 4, 2009

    And that shirt he was wearing! Ugh!

  11. #11 Optimus Primate
    April 4, 2009

    Wait — I only saw like an hour and a half. Where’s the other two hours? 😛

    Srsly, though, thanks for sharing, Abbie! I don’t know how you managed to maintain your poise and grace as well as you did. I found myself yelling at the scree on more than a few occasions. Max Bear now thinks I’m a crazy person.

    I’m glad I made it all the way through all ten videos, though, because I found the very last bit to be the most telling. The fact that Dr. Jackson equates “make believe” with “theoretical” tells me that he simply doesn’t have a scientific mind. It’s as simple as that. If “make believe” is the same as “theory” to you, you’re not a scientist. End of story. I really wish you’d had the chance to point that out. (And you may have afterward — from the abrupt ending, it seems that the discussion continued after the end of video 10.)

    What’s even funnier, though, is taking that idea to its logical conclusion. He makes the point that, from his point of view, the evidence points equally to evolution and goddidit. In other words, he thinks there is no strong evidence for his point of view. He then describes anything for which there isn’t tangible proof as “make believe.” Ergo, ipso facto, and other snooty Latin phrases, he’s describing creationism as “make believe.” That makes me giggle.

    Keep it up, though! You’re gonna have your own TED talk one of these days. 🙂

  12. #12 Optimus Primate
    April 4, 2009

    And by “scree” I mean “screen.”

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s right.

  13. #13 Alan Edwards
    April 4, 2009

    You did well. However, one thing that did particularly annoy me was that you allowed him to get away with the micro vs macro distinction. It’s frustrating when scientists allow creationists to use this language as it really is such a canard. It should be explained in no uncertain terms that macroevolution is simply evolutionary change at, or above, the species level and, as such, speciation, which has been observed dozens and dozens of times, is a perfect example of it. Any other defintion they want to use, such as ‘large scales’ or ‘kinds’ is essentially arbitrary, and could not be objectively determined, and they would not be describing ‘macroevolution’. If they are going to use the term macroevolution, it should be ensured that they use it in its meaningful context, and not simply as a way to accept any evolution that we observe while rejecting the rest. One speciation occurs, organisms can only possibly drift apart; there is no boundary saying “woh there, you’re becoming a bit too different from one of your distant ancestors, no more mutations for you.”

  14. #14 mikeg
    April 4, 2009

    its red and the same size as the blood cell in the 6000 yr old dinosaur… yay! *opens bible*

  15. #15 Murray
    April 4, 2009

    Right off the bat, he comes out and says that he “interprets” all scientific data through his “creationary [sic] lens”.

    How then are we supposed to take him seriously when he says later on that he would give up creationism (and even going to church) if he came across evidence for evolution?

  16. #16 Glenn Weare
    April 4, 2009

    Abbie, My first time with a comment on your site even though I’ve been reading it for over a year. I was brought up a creationist and even became a fundamentalist (SDA) minister till I worked out through reading that it was all crap (about 25 years ago). Please keep up the good work! Us laymen need people like you to take on creationists – it helps us with our debates with relatives etc as well as with the development of our own knowledge. I have tried to educate myself about all this stuff – but it is sometimes hard work finding material at the right level. 3 cheers for Jerry Coynes new book. I was surprised that he only gave a paragraph to ERVs. I see this is as very strong evidence. I couldn’t quite get Jackson point about ERVs. How could viral (bad) insertions at identical points in genomes of different species be the reult of sin. Have chimps sinned? Anyway, thanks Abbie!!!!!!!!

  17. #17 Kyle the Recession Guy
    April 4, 2009

    Already all over twitter, good job!

  18. #18 William Wallace
    April 4, 2009

    Wow. I have to commend you for having the courage to post this. I am about half way through your first 20 minute presentation.

    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.

  19. #19 Optimus Primate
    April 4, 2009

    And how, exactly, is she “loosing” [sic], Willy Boy? Jackson ties himself into logical knots at every turn. Is Abbie the most charismatic speaker in the world? No. But she’s got the facts on her side, and she pounds them for all their worth.

    Jackson, on the other hand, even manages to swing and miss when he tries to pound the table.

  20. #20 martinj
    April 4, 2009

    Abbie doesn’t talk down to the audience in an obnoxious magistral voice. That settles it.

  21. #21 ERV
    April 4, 2009

    Is Abbie the most charismatic speaker in the world? No.

    In which I am forced to admit I didnt just do this for the lulz 🙂 This was a no-stress opportunity to practice verbally presenting science to the public. Blagging vs public presentations are very different things, and I really did have a marvelous time using Jackson and this church as test dummies (no pun intended, of course *grin*).

    I would love to be a face for science in the future, which means I need to practice 🙂 I make no apologies for mistakes I make practicing, as long as I learn how to do better in the future. This appearance did bring up some ‘presentation’ questions for me… Fr*ming questions… As many of you noticed, I was very *nice*. I dunno why, I just thought I would try it out. Well, after the presentation, Creationists came up and blessed me and said all these lovely things… but not to my face, they have been behaving like damned dirty apes in the local newspaper.

    Now, fr*mers tell me that we need to be nice and conciliatory with Creationists– Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Yet the reaction Creationists have to evilutionists, whether you are ‘nice’ (me), or blunt (Dawkins) has been identical: Burn them.

    Which makes me wonder why I shouldnt just be ‘mean’. Its a lot more fun, and if youre damned if you do, damned if you dont (literally), why not have a good time? Why fake a smile, when you can make fun of Creationist stupidity? Why pour a cup of tea, when gutting a Creationist Claim with an electric knife is so much more satisfying?


  22. #22 Kyle the Recession Guy
    April 4, 2009

    It’s sad how patient you had to be with ignorant people for fear of being called names.

    Should’ve just thrown back the question at them and asked “If whatever I say can still be interpreted by you as *GodDidIt*, then why are you asking me as if you care? What would ever convince you *GodDidntJustDoIt*?”

    If anything can still be made an excuse for their new ad hoc story of Creation, why do science, or what should science try to offer?

  23. #23 Nick (Matzke)
    April 4, 2009

    Wow. Creationists are usually slicker than Charles Jackson. He’s just rambling inanities. ERV you deserve some sort of award for not freaking out and staying Nice!ERV. I tend to come in with guns blazing and the goal of shaming the opposition…

  24. #24 Darek
    April 4, 2009

    I think you did fine Abbie, and it’s great how your enthusiasm for your work shines through.

    And at least you didn’t spend half of your allotted time quoting other scientists (also a big FU to Jackson for bringing up the Feynman quote so often, I don’t think he’d approve).

  25. #25 Optimus Primate
    April 4, 2009

    Abbie, I hope you didn’t take what I said as an insult. Trust me: if I’d been up there, I would have wet myself. You rawk.

    True story.

    You’ve got the message. You’ve got the facts. Those are the important things! The slick presentation will come with time. 🙂

  26. #26 ERV
    April 4, 2009

    Abbie, I hope you didn’t take what I said as an insult.

    Of course not! Youre totally right!

  27. #27 DAM10N
    April 4, 2009

    Hey Abbie – Do you have any good references for a scholarly summary of the HERV-related evidence of common ancestry?

    This one is the best I’ve yet found, and it’s surely a bit out of date by now.

  28. #28 DAM10N
    April 4, 2009

    Of course, as soon as I posted that link, I found a newer article that covers some of the same ground:

  29. #29 Redem
    April 4, 2009

    … ew. That guy cannot seem to formulate a cogent argument, it seems as if he’s rambling through creationist talking points that he can’t quite remember properly and is just kinda… smooshing them together somewhat.

  30. #30 dreikin
    April 4, 2009

    Gotta say – from what I’ve seen of effective framing, it has very little to do with attitude and almost everything to do with with word/example choice. Some good, simple examples are ‘pro-choice’ vs. ‘pro-abortion’ – one uses a word connected (generally) with good things, the other with something at least questionable, and distasteful with the right picture (very late term abortion pic). Nisbet/Mooney generally have/had it backwards – PZ’s ‘Expelled’ expulsion was perfect framing, by pointing out the hypocrisy in a most obvious manner – and laughing at the opposition (which makes people wonder what’s so funny – and thus forces them to try to think like you) only improves it.

    Huh – maybe I should write more of that up somewhere…

    Anyway, it was interesting, but you seemed a bit soft on him and let quite a few things go by. Are we going to be able to see more of the Q&A?

  31. #31 Mobius
    April 4, 2009

    I swear, if the leaves on Jackson’s shirt were just a little different I would be convinced he was wearing a pot shirt.

    I know, I know. A complete non sequitur. But Jackson doesn’t seem to be taking his audience seriously at all.

  32. #32 HalfMooner
    April 4, 2009

    Thanks, Abbie, for standing up to science against this random hobo. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

    Tips for later consideration:

    Being kindly while explaining science to the Creationist questioners was both right and tactically correct. It worked.

    However, I think you were too easy-going with Jackson himself. Here’s a guy who is scientifically trained, though certainly out of his element in genetics. Yet he got away with repeated calling hominids “monkeys.” He knows better. The “monkeys” thing was a propaganda device (and a lie) aimed at his knuckle-walking followers, who think themselves all that because they don’t have tails. That lie hearkens way back to the Scopes trial and earlier. It’s a lie, designed to foster ignorance in the Creationist flock that Jackson feel is stupid/ignorant enough to swallow it. Jackson’s monkey lie needed to be called.

    He also needed to be called on his lying assertion late in the question period that he would abandon Creationism if there were scientific evidence against it. The very fact that he was standing there supporting Young Earth Creationism while possessing a bit more that a layman’s understanding of biology shows this to be a lie. Also, his statement earlier that he sees scientific evidence through the filter of Genesis shows he’s lying.

    Jackson is a liar, and needed, however politely, to be called on his “bearing false witness.”

    But my criticisms are minor. I was overall amazed at how well you did, and especially how educational was your presentation. Jackson, on the other hand, was shown to be only pretending to support science, while actually attacking both it and reason itself.

  33. #33 Mobius
    April 4, 2009

    I’ve only listened to the first part so far.

    I have to say that I lost a lot of respect for Jackson as a speaker when he adopted a slight silly sing-song when he was quoting Dawkins and Ruse. The contempt he is showing for those that disagree with him is reprehensible.

    I will admit that I have contempt for his creationist position, but I would try to keep that contempt out of my debate. That he doesn’t shows that he is playing to the crowds emotions and not their reason.

  34. #34 William Wallace
    April 4, 2009

    In which I am forced to admit I didnt just do this for the lulz :

    Of course not! You[‘]re totally right!

    Pretend I didn’t say it first.


    How can you do science when you can’t address the guy who brought R.D. to your blog.

  35. #35 Chiefley
    April 5, 2009

    I like the way you handled the question about you having read the Bible. When this comes up, it is important to immediately defuse the fallacious notion that being a Christian means you have to choose the Bible as your science text. Implicit in the question is the assumption that all Christians should favor the Bible.

    I would like to contribute to your cause in one small way. When I get to this point in my debates, I immediately cite the fact that some 80% of the world’s Christians belong to denominations that have clearly articulated social statements embracing science. And these statements specifically cite ToE as being the best explanation for the diversity of life on the planet.

    In other words, if you are RCC, United Methodist, UCC, Presbyterian, or Episcopalean your official doctrine claims science as the authority on matters regarding natural processes. ELCA Lutherans do not have an official social statement on science or ToE, however, many Lutheran writers are prolific on the subject, including Ted Peters, Martin Marty, and Rev. George Murphy PhD (theoretical physics).

    If you go to the offical websites of these organizations, you can easily find the social statements I am referring to. If you would like links to those statements, I can get them for you.

    I usually do just what you did in the video when challenged with “The Bible Question”, which is to reduce the question to a matter of personal belief. Armed with the above information, you can go one step further and say that if your personal Christian belief is challenged by science then you are in a small minority of Christians.

  36. #36 Matt
    April 5, 2009

    If such leads to speaking tours in the future, I demand that you credit me as a launching pad for your success. Had it not been for my intellectually masterbatory letters to the editor of a local-yokel paper, none of this would’ve occured. 😉

  37. #37 Bryce Adams
    April 5, 2009

    Whatever advantage Dr. Jackson had in delivery and crowd approval he lost once he started spouting YEC crap. It probably would have been futile to point out to him that belief in an ancient earth is not unique to evolutionary biology.

    Among the not-so-good doctor’s obvious mistakes:
    Pointing out that certain hominid fossils have been demoted from direct human ancestors to distant cousins does not disprove common descent. As someone else pointed out, his constant dickish use of the term “extinct monkeys” showed that he was either ignorant of the topic or appealing to the audience’s emotions.

    He pointed out that dogs, wolves, jackals, and hyenas are all separate species, but they can interbreed and are all canids. The fact that hybrids from interspecies crosses in this family have varying degrees of fertility is evidence for common descent. (Most wolf/coyote hybrids are fertile, but dog/coyote crosses are about 50%.) Also, as most everyone here is aware, hyenas are hyenids, not canids, and therefore incapable of interbreeding with any members of the dog family. Perhaps that’s a nitpick on my part, but illustrative that he knows very little about much of what he talks about.

    ERV’s poise throughout the debate was very comendable. Hopefully she won’t be so polite next time.

  38. #38 windy
    April 5, 2009

    Pretend I didn’t say it first.

    Won’t you crawl off and die already, you shit-drenched polyp! You said Abbie was “loosing”, OP said she’s not the most charismatic speaker, THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING!

  39. #39 Militant Agnostic
    April 5, 2009

    Given the bizzare natuure of the hyena’s vagina, interbreeding with dogs would be mechanically impossible, never mind the genetic considerations.

    I haven’t watched any of these yet, I am afraid my head might asplode. However, I am sure there were many canards that ERV missed because they came so thick and fast.

    A couple of podcasts ago the Skeptics Guide to the Universe interviewed Ken Miller. He talked about debating a famous creationist debater (Herny Morris?). Miller was able to defeat the guy because he basically had 5.5 weeks with nothing to do but prepare. He was able to go through previous debates and prepare answers to all the bullshit that was going to be spewd in the “Gish Gallop”. As a result he defeated the creationist. The rational side is always at a disadvantage in these debates because they don’t get to make things up.

    Abbie, did you have any samples of what this “hobo” was going to throw at you when you prepared for this or did you go in cold?

  40. #40 martnj
    April 5, 2009

    Abbie, I meant what I wrote earlier. I think the fact that you were much nicer, and that you repeatedly stated your fascination with the subject, the usefulness of evolution in your work, and how cool things are, is a very good thing.

    Maybe the Die Hard YECs weren’t impressed, but they surely wouldn’t have changed their opinion even if you went Dawkins on their behinds. However, don’t you think that regular people listening — who don’t pretend to know molecular genetics, but just have been fed what the creationists give them, thinking that creationism is the pious option — were more convinced by your appearance?

    The next time somebody tells them scientists are arrogant, immoral who keep furthering some secret atheist agenda in the face of overwhelming evidence, perhaps they will think of you. This way they got a glimpse of what really motivates a scientist.

  41. #41 Wildy
    April 5, 2009

    What the hell is he going on regarding Homo erectus? I don’t seem to find anything about what he’s been saying.

  42. #42 Rrr
    April 5, 2009


    How can you do science when you can’t address the guy who brought R.D. to your blog.

    Posted by: William Wallace | April 4, 2009 11:48 PM

    Sorry, “R.D.”? Rancid discharge? Repetitive dumbness? Reprehensible disingenuity? I give up. In the face of such stupidity, even the gods struggle in vain. As the saing goes.

  43. #43 D. C. Sessions
    April 5, 2009

    Which makes me wonder why I shouldnt just be ‘mean’. Its a lot more fun, and if youre damned if you do, damned if you dont (literally), why not have a good time? Why fake a smile, when you can make fun of Creationist stupidity? Why pour a cup of tea, when gutting a Creationist Claim with an electric knife is so much more satisfying?

    “There are nine and sixty ways of composing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right!

    Now, as for me (aged and steeped in evil that I am): I play nice and listen a lot, cheerfully abandoning straw-man points [1] — then ask a few questions that they can’t handle. A high-school friend is a master of the technique, but she’s been doing it since she was young and cute.

    “Young and cute” is a huge advantage, and “female” is too (for better or worse.) Evil is also good, so it might work very well for you.

    [1] They spend a lot of time attacking Darwin personally, for instance.

  44. #44 SLC
    April 5, 2009

    Re Militant Atheist

    I believe that Prof. Miller was referring to a debate he had with Duane Gish, famous for the Gish Gallop. The point is that Prof. Miller carefully prepared for the debate by reading everything he could find that Gish had written and reading transcripts of several previous debates that Gish had participated in. He was then prepared to anticipate what Gish would say and had a short and to the point response ready beforehand.

  45. #45 zilch
    April 5, 2009

    @10- hey, I like Hawaiian shirts. Jackson’s shirt was the best part of his presentation.

  46. #46 Discombobulated
    April 5, 2009

    More noise from the sidelines here 🙂

    The theist in video 7 was feeding leading questions, and he led to an unfalsifiable deist perspective, but all of his points were based around a false dichotomy, and he implied that you had to prove creation wrong, but (as far as burden of proof is concerned) it’s of course exactly the opposite. That could have been addressed with evidence for evolution, rather than an explicit validation of his assertion. Of course, concede places where facts/data have not been shown, but when the very question is wrong, challenging the foundations of the question itself is appropriate.

    I also really, really wish you’d called Jackson on his repeated “evidence != proof” assertions, and took the time to re-explain the scientific method to him, or rather the audience.. Jackson knows it, of course, but the audience is what matters.

    Jackson was abominable, and clearly practiced in the Gish Gallop. He kept making under-the-breath assertions or repeating soundbites quickly, and moving on, fr*ming them as just “givens”. Since “our side” has the actual evidence, this isn’t something that’s necessary to be repeated, but it might be worth challenging those in a later rebuttal.

    Anyway, thanks for doing this, and kudos and cake to rattrap3 for taking the time to split all the video up and posting it.

  47. #47 Discom
    April 5, 2009


    Some people might be ashamed that their level of utter ridiculousness and noisome blatherings would require a direct rebuke from a pre-eminent scientist, but for some reason you seem to revel in this.

    The interesting question though, is where it falls in the nature vs. nurture question. So, were you born stupid, or did you just work at it really hard?

  48. #48 William Wallace
    April 5, 2009

    Sorry, “R.D.”? Rancid discharge? Repetitive dumbness? Reprehensible disingenuity? I give up.

    LOL. The poignancy of your observation is not lost on me, but it is obviously lost on you. R.D. is Richard Dawkins.

    Getting back to the debate, I am assuming the purpose of the debate is to persuade a *real world* audience of the merits of your point of view. To that extent, and only based on what I have seen so far, Abbie was failing. I’ll try to watch the entire debate later today or tomorrow.

    Others are recommending that Abbie be “meaner”. Being mean for its own sake isn’t going to help win a debate necessarily, but if in being mean you are more authentic to your true personality (I can’t tell what the real Abbie is, the plastered smile Abbie thanking a preacher in the video, or the ravenous for creationist blood seeking a name for herself ERV on this blog), it may help.

    I would love to be a face for science in the future, which means I need to practice 🙂

    Replacing the current anthropologist head of the NCDE (National Center for Darwinian Education) with a real scientist (assuming you finish your education between blogging and debating) would lend credibility to that organization. Eugenie might be willing to give you some tips on that front, as she is going to have to retire some day anyway.

  49. #49 jon
    April 5, 2009

    Wait, Anthropologists aren’t real scientists?

  50. #50 Lab Rat
    April 5, 2009

    just as a note about one of the things you said in a comment on this post about whether it was worth being polite and nice when it was better to be mean…

    Please, please stay with being polite. People just respect you so much more 🙂 And you are a good speaker, and you do have the facts on your side. it is such a pity when people stop listening or feeling on the side of scientists when they get (in many cases understandably) frustrated at creationists.

  51. #51 Rrr
    April 5, 2009

    Teh quadripleg-ewe baahed thusly:

    Sorry, “R.D.”? Rancid discharge? Repetitive dumbness? Reprehensible disingenuity? I give up.

    LOL. The poignancy of your observation is not lost on me, but it is obviously lost on you. R.D. is Richard Dawkins.

    No, actually I think you are the loster “looser” here. Try googling sal cordova cottage cheese and remember, I was addressing your verbiage. Guess the implication yet? Oh well. Not my fault, yo momma really ought to get a refund on that abortion.

  52. #52 Strider
    April 5, 2009

    Who is this fuckin’ guy? What are his credentials to declare hominids “extinct monkeys”?

  53. #53 shonny
    April 5, 2009

    Wait, Anthropologists aren’t real scientists?
    Posted by: jon | April 5, 2009 2:58 PM

    Of course we are not, we don’t use the bible much for anthrop studies.

  54. #54 Strider
    April 5, 2009

    Holy shit, Abbie! IMO, you were WAY too nice to that dude with the terrible question in part 7!!

  55. #55 Strider
    April 5, 2009

    Also, YouTube only has parts 1-10 posted. Where’re the other 2 hrs?

  56. #56 minimalist
    April 5, 2009

    Getting back to the debate, I am assuming the purpose of the debate is to persuade a *real world* audience of the merits of your point of view.

    So, then, seeing as how you don’t live in the real world, your opinion doesn’t really matter, does it Wallykins?

    Not that your opinion matters in any context, mind you.

  57. #57 LanceR, JSG
    April 5, 2009

    Of course, Limp Willy does not, and can not, represent a “real world audience”. Real people do not lie, cheat, misrepresent, and generally make an ass of themselves like our Limp Willy.

    Quit beating your wife yet, Limp Willy? Lie much?

  58. #58 ragarth
    April 5, 2009

    I just finished watching the 10 youtube videos and I have a few points:

    1) In his rebuttal, he stated that the fact that the two species of lemurs had insertions from the same virus is proof that ERV’s are not proof of evolution. Isn’t this proving your previous point? I mean, scientists researched this *because* the ERV insertions in these to species DID NOT match the evolutionary model- the insertions were in different locations in the genomes, so he effectively ignored your argument and restated an already refuted argument, correct?

    2) Regardless of whether or not wolves and foxes are genetically compatible, this does not mean there aren’t differences between their genomes, so are there mutations between the two and if so, what’s the % difference between wolf and fox dna?

    3)The guy’s trying to argue that ERV’s aren’t mutations, isn’t this refutable in two words: Insertion Mutation?

    4)I’m correct in remembering that a genepool IS NOT a single pair of individuals, correct? If this is the case, then the guy’s claim that there being 4 gene pools in human ancestry as indirect proof of the ark is just fucking with words and clearly showing his inability to either comprehend definitions or that he’s a lying weasel.

  59. #59 Don
    April 5, 2009

    I just finished watching all 10 videos. It was no contest. You were up there talking science and Jackson was up there talking about ways to ignore evidence. He is up there justifying his beliefs, nothing more. I learned a ton from your speech. Ironically, the only thing I learned from Jackson is yet another way Creationists deceive themselves.

  60. #60 Michelle
    April 5, 2009

    Speaking as a complete layperson in the field of evolutionary science (albeit one who is very interested in it), I found your presentation excellent, Abbie. I came in knowing nothing about ERVs, and I learned a lot from you. Thanks. I can’t quite say the same of your opponent.

  61. #61 peep
    April 5, 2009

    A whole 5 minutes in, and I’m already appalled by this guy, and bored to tears. How ever did you make it through…uh, 20 minutes of this guy? And then rebuttal and Q&A with him?

    I guess debating creationists is an endurance sport.

  62. #62 Michelle
    April 5, 2009

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but… was his “deck of cards” analogy actually meant to imply that genes don’t mutate?

    *descends into hysterical laughter*

  63. #63 GL
    April 5, 2009

    I actually think Abbie is a good speaker, she looks very teacher-esque. Not everyone enjoys “charismatic speakers”. 😉

  64. #64 Optimus Primate
    April 5, 2009

    D’oh! I’m never gonna live that one down, am I?

    I ♥ Abbie. Promise!

  65. #65 «bønez_brigade»
    April 5, 2009

    Howdy! Random lurker who randomly visits from Pharyngula, here.

    I’ve made it through video 15, thus far. Originally, I had planned to just watch the video you posted above; and then I decided to watch the remainder of it and your intro; and then I decided to see the rebuttals, of course; and then I said “what the hell…” and went for the Q&A; and now, I realize I’m in too deep and feel compelled to watch every last minute of the Q&A. Curse you, ERV!

    Jackson really reminds me of Hovind, with his slides at the ready and his inflection of certain “sciency” words. Not as slickly scripted of a presentation as #06452-017, to be sure, but the same style of tossing out “crea-facts” — and from a former science teacher, at that.

    FWIW, Jackson appeared to be caught in a bit of a lie when the questioner asked him if the smell from the dinosaur bones came after they had been soaked in something else. Jackson originally made the claim as if the smell were apparent after being pulled out of the ground and broken apart — due to them being only a few thousand years old, of course.

    FWIW2, a couple of criticisms:
    – You let him slide on a lot of points in the (first several parts of the) Q&A by not offering a rebuttal — though it was great when you jumped in on the part about plants after he rambled for so long, and it sounded as if the audience was ready for a new voice on it.
    – You need a remote control like he had, so as not to let the creationist look more tech savvy, whilst flicking through .ppt slides.

    Anywho, plaudits to you, Abbie, for debating that guy (and in a fucking church, at that, yikes).

    [Of note, there is an incomplete transition (a gap or missing link, if you will) betwixt vids 10 & 11.]

  66. #66 «bønez_brigade»
    April 5, 2009

    Oh, and ¡viva la!

  67. #67 Optimus Primate
    April 5, 2009

    I’m up to Part 15 now. Holy hell, how is it that no one jumped up and bitch slapped this jackass? What a pompous douche!

  68. #68 Doug
    April 5, 2009


    the gap you are referring to is me changing tapes, the gap was no longer than 15 seconds i assure you.

    i almost ended up bringing only ONE tape but was like, well, if it goes maybe a little over an hour and a half better safe than sorry lol

  69. #69 Doug Schwarz
    April 5, 2009



    and rip them a new one for CUTTING TOGETHER CLIPS from the debate to make abbie look bad, and jackson look good…which is almost impossible cuz he’s…well christ he is just so fucking stupid…

  70. #70 Dustin
    April 5, 2009

    Mr. Cheeseburger in Paradise’s shirt proves there is no benevolent, omnipotent deity.

  71. #71 Doug Schwarz
    April 5, 2009

    Heres a playlist for all 20 parts.

    but i urge you all to comment on the videos, and spread them around as much as you can to help both abbie and myself get as much publicity as we can.

    cuz i wanna be famous too.

    and i need my science people to help me out here.

  72. #72 Dustin
    April 5, 2009

    Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Yet the reaction Creationists have to evilutionists, whether you are ‘nice’ (me), or blunt (Dawkins) has been identical: Burn them.

    Rather than a spoonful of sugar, consider a feeding tube. Then we can force-feed the creationists facts until their livers are fat with reason. It makes a delicious pate, especially cured and then served with currants as an amuse bouche.

  73. #73 Religion™ Brand Brain Staples
    April 6, 2009

    Keep working on those presentation skills!

    I don’t have anything specific to add that hasn’t already been said, other than that. Doing this kind of thing sets a good example for other youngish scientists, so keep it up.

    Rah rah rah, go science, etc.

    /shameless chearleading
    (What, they do it for sports, and as far as I’m concerned, watching bad ideas get skewered is as fine as any)

  74. #74 «bønez_brigade»
    April 6, 2009

    @Doug [#68],
    Well, you picked a good spot at which to change, as Jackson was starting to babble about “one truth” nonsense. Thanks for recording & posting the videos!


    I just finished the final part (20), and I was actually astounded that Jackson would use the argumentum ad populum fallacy on deciding what should be taught in class (parts 17 & 18). As he’s a creationist, such was to be expected; but as he’s also an educator (scary, yes), his adherence to that position is a bit irrational (to say the least). He also seemed to confuse “discussion of differing views” with “basic instruction on the evidence” during said parts.

  75. #75 piers
    April 6, 2009

    Weird: Jackson has an identical shirt to that which Richard Dawkins wore on his visit to OU when he met with students in the afternoon before his evening lecture!! – Chance or design do you think??!!

  76. #76 William Wallace
    April 6, 2009

    For anybody who wants to watch the video more conveniently (all of the videos on one page), you can see it at Evolutionism versus Creation Science debate.

  77. #77 Raimund
    April 6, 2009

    Hi Abbie,

    I actually only just found out about you today due to the Kooks Run Amok item on Pharyngula but did manage to watch through the whole debate. You did very well indeed and I really enjoyed the educational content in your presentation. There are many questions that I have still about ERVs as I only recently decided that I needed to brush up on biology (Physics nerd mostly) and found out about them through the Ancestor’s Tale. I must be terse though as the Dvorak switch is still very severely messing with my typing, but I’ll start reading your blog and will very likely have questions.

  78. #78 William Wallace
    April 6, 2009

    John Kwok, LOL…..I told you.

    ROTFLMHO man this is funny.

  79. #79 Dustin
    April 6, 2009

    Jackson has an identical shirt to that which Richard Dawkins wore on his visit to OU when he met with students in the afternoon before his evening lecture!!


  80. #80 Dustin
    April 6, 2009


    Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Hemorrhoids Off?

  81. #81 ERV
    April 6, 2009

    Rock Star Piers– Well, Dawkins shirt was more leaf frond and less pot 😛

    But dudes, you dont know the best part of Jacksons attire. Its actually not the pot shirt. Its whats under the pot shirt: Jacksons MENSA T-shirt. Should anyone call him ‘stupid’, Jackson was going to rip off his pot shirt a la Hulk Hogan and be all “I BE ARE NOT DUM! I IZ IN TEH MENSA!”

    I was really looking forward to that, but no one took his bait *sad*

  82. #82 Optimus Primate
    April 6, 2009

    I tried to post a comment on Jackson’s edited video, calling him out on his bullshit editing techniques. I’ll be shocked and amazed if survives.

  83. #83 Dustin
    April 6, 2009

    That’s sad. I would have made YouTube poop of it set to “Eye of the Tiger”.

  84. #84 Shrunk
    April 6, 2009

    Hi, Abbie. This is my first time posting here (although we did have a brief email exchange about a year ago which, although I’m sure you have forgotten about it, I cherish as much as my signed photo of Adam West in full Batman regalia). I just wanted to complement you on your performance in the debate. I think anyone attending there with an open mind would realize that science, as you represented it, actually explains stuff and answers questions, while Jackson demonstrated that creationism has nothing to offer but handwaving apologetics.

    The Q&A made me realize that, for many who reject evolution, the issue is not simply a matter of being unaware of the evidence. Their error is a more fundamental one of not even being aware of the meaning of the word “evidence.” They seem to think that it is sufficient to come up with an explanation that feels good to them and is not outright falsified by the facts that exist (mainly because the idea is not unfalsifiable in the first place). So they fail to understand that saying something like “ERV’s appeared in the genome as a result of sin” does not even begin to approach the level of a legitimate scientific explanation, never mind one deserving of equal status and respect as the TofE.

    Again, good job.

  85. #85 Ron A
    April 6, 2009

    I made it to the end and thought that it was a good debate but that your facts got i the way of their beliefs… The man actually made things up and presented them as proof of a creator but gave no evidence, He really had no proof of a creator, only a belief that one exists. He was very condescending and sarcastic towards you. Normal creationist tactics, attack the person not the evidence.

  86. #86 Equisetum
    April 6, 2009

    Wow. I’m at 4:30 of part one, and all I keep thinking is ‘what a condescending ass.’
    And from the few comments I’ve read it doesn’t get any better, but I’ll try to listen to a bit more.

  87. #87 Prometheus
    April 6, 2009

    I love it when Jackson does accents. His Richard Dawkins sounds like what would happen if Dick Van Dyke’s character in Mary Poppins became flamboyantly gay.

    If he does impressions of Abbie in future presentations I look forward to how obscenely misogynistic they will be.

    Perhaps a Bettie Boop falsetto accompanied by gum snapping, nose picking and fondling a couple of balloons shoved up his “I heart Mensa” T-shirt.

    He reminds me of the old Trinity Broadcasting Network “Power Team” presentations where some muscle bound roid raging freak for Jesus would punctuate his disjointed ramblings by breaking a stack of ice slabs with his forehead and prance around doing impressions of secular humanist “pansies”.

  88. #88 Equisetum
    April 6, 2009

    Pausing part 3 to say ERV’s are really, really cool. This sort of makes me want to study biochemistry. Maybe I’ll pull that copy of Lehninger I bought for 3 dollars.
    Oh, yeah. I can’t, because I GAVE IT AWAY! (headslap)

  89. #89 William Wallace
    April 6, 2009

    Now, having watched the entire debate and question and answer period, wow.

    I retract my suggestion that you seek advice from Eugenie Scott, the current head of the NCDE. If Eugenie watches your performance, it is likely to cause her PTSD to recur, and you’ve heard how her husband simply loathes it when Eugenie cries out during her nightmares “Have mercy on Dr. Gaven. Mercy, mercy, mercy. Please Daune Gish, leave him alone.”

    After watching this debate between you and Dr. Jackson, your future mate may have to deal with similar issues, only in these instances it will be complicated by your association with Dr. Jackson’s physical appearance with the likes of Peter North.

    To say that you lost the debate is an understatement. You were wholly unprepared, confused, naive appearing, whereas Dr. Jackson was very prepared. He clearly spent much more time studying both sides of the Evolutionism/Creation Science perspectives, whereas you came prepared with dumbed down science and dumbed down caricatures of “creationists”.

    The minor debate point during the question and answer period, after you kept talking about how “fun” science is, was outstanding to watch. Your argument was laughable. ~”My parents are teachers…” blah blah blah. Wow. Your only answer to not discussing evolutionism/creation science controversies in the classroom was that the children have too much to learn, and that they need to master the basics before learning about the controversies. Dr. Jackson eviscerated your point of view. The ACLU is likely to advise you, as well as Dr. Scott, to refrain from debating Dr. Jackson anymore, as you’re doing more to hurt the evolander cause than help it.

    Worse, the inane questions from the peanut gallery, you should be ashamed that you invited these knuckleheads. ~But doesn’t the fact that we can eat other animals prove common descent”. Goodness. Is the best of OK evolanders?

    I can guarantee you that Dr. Eugenie Scott would say, if she watched your miserable performance, “See, I told you.”

    But as I said before, I applaud your courage in linking to the videos.

  90. #90 Optimus Primate
    April 6, 2009

    So, Willy, I’m assuming you won’t have the courage to give a straight answer to this, but hell, I’ll ask it anyway, just for giggles:

    Does it not matter to you that Jackson didn’t have a freakin’ clue what he was talking about? Does it not matter to you that he tried to make a point that Abbie had already dealt with? How can you claim Jackson won the debate when he clearly demonstrated such a lack comprehension?

    The point has already been made, but in case you’re wondering specifically what I’m referring to:

    Abbie pointed out that those in her field were able to recognize the different between similar insertion events and common descent. Jackson followed that immediately by claiming that scientist assumed that similar ERVs in two different species could only arrive there by common descent.

    To make it simpler for you, since your comprehension skills seem to be as lacking as Jackson’s, it would be as if Abbie said, “See, we can tell the difference between pink and purple,” and Jackson followed immediately with the claim, “Evilutionists assume there’s nothing but pink, but look! Look! Here’s some purple! I winned!”

    The greater irony is that he’s reading from a paper about how said team determined that it was two separate insertion events, all the while claiming that scientists assume common descent.

    The irony was lost on him, and seems to be lost on you.

    Jackson is a hustler. There’s no doubt about it. He’s a slick talker, and to the ignorant he certainly appears to be more authoritative. Seriously, the only way anyone could think Jackson to have won this debate is if he or she ignores the facts, ignores the actual words that were said, and relies on some lizard-brained authoritarian follower instinct.

  91. #91 Shrunk
    April 6, 2009


    So if you believe that Jackson won the debate, you should be able to specify one of the points where demonstrated that molecular genetics does not support evolution. Except you don’t actually seem to mention any such point in your post and, strangely, I can’t recall any occurring in the debate itself, either. I do recall him repeating a bunch of quotes from scientists in funny voices, and mentioning things like the high degree of genetic similarity between humans and other primates and saying that, when he looks at that thru his “creationist lens,” it looks to him like evidence for creation. But I don’t really see how any of that refutes the molecular evidence for evolution. Do you?

  92. #92 LanceR, JSG
    April 6, 2009

    Well, since Limp Willy thinks you lost, that means you TOTALLY PWND HIZ A$$!!!eleven! ROXZORZ!

  93. #93 ERV
    April 6, 2009


    [sarcasm]*GASP!* Oh no oh no oh no! I lost the debate and made a fool of myself! William Wallace said so! I am never going to debate anyone ever again! Im just going to sit down and shut up and let Creationists do whatever they want– thats safe! Oh I am so embarrassed![/sarcasm]

    WW, you cant scare/embarrass/intimidate me into shutting up. Casey Luskin has been trying this approach for years, to no avail. Those tactics might work on pathetic creatures like yourself/CaseyTARD, but its completely ineffective against people with an ounce of earned self-confidence and honest self-awareness.


  94. #94 Shrunk
    April 6, 2009

    Yeah, the lemur ERV study was just one example where Jackson obliviously presented evidence that refuted his own position. Another point was where he mentioned the 98% similarity between human and chimp genomes, then intoned with great portentousness, “But guess what? We share 50% of our genome with bananas.” I still can’t figure out what point he thought he was making there.

  95. #95 386sx
    April 6, 2009

    Another point was where he mentioned the 98% similarity between human and chimp genomes, then intoned with great portentousness, “But guess what? We share 50% of our genome with bananas.” I still can’t figure out what point he thought he was making there.

    Good point, and nice “reductio ad absurdum”. By his logic, the lower the percentage of being in common with bananas, the greater the evidence for being related to bananas, and since people are 50% bananas, then evolution is 100% bananas. I don’t think he thought that one through very well…

  96. #96 minimalist
    April 6, 2009

    Presenting complex data for an audience of laypeople = “dumbed-down science”

    Crazy hobo who says molecule is a “big word” = not dumbing down = WINNAR

    Oh Wally, you can always be counted on to have the most deluded perspective possible.

    If the hobo actually “spent more time looking at both sides” then it’s because all that time was spent trying to make his way through alla them really big, challenging words like “molecule”.

  97. #97 Equisetum
    April 6, 2009

    Abbie said: “I lost the debate and made a fool of myself! William Wallace said so!”

    And the four comments on his site say so, too. Five idiots can’t all be wrong, can they?

    One big logic fail on Jackson’s part that jumped out at me was his claim that erv’s, after 85 million years are still erv’s. Even as a non-scientist, I realize that once they’re in the genome, they’re not active viruses anymore, they’re dna, which, as Abbie pointed out, is subject to proofreading. ERV’s do not evolve at the thousand fold rate (or whatever he claimed, if that’s even accurate) of viruses, but at the rate of human dna.

  98. #98 Equisetum
    April 6, 2009

    6:50 into part 7.
    I just have to ask this before I hear Abbie’s answer:

    What would the biochemistry of ‘sin’ look like?

    OK, I’m back. You did a great job of answering his questions. I wonder if the guy has ever heard of Occam’s Razor.

  99. #99 James F
    April 6, 2009

    Shorter WW:


    So…molecular genetics provides evidence for creationism? Yeah right…not a scrap of data, not a single testable mechanism. The science battle was settled long ago and evolution won, now it’s a PR battle to convey this to the public. Thanks again to Abbie for doing her part and then some.

  100. #100 Dustin
    April 6, 2009

    After watching this debate between you and Dr. Jackson, your future mate may have to deal with similar issues, only in these instances it will be complicated by your association with Dr. Jackson’s physical appearance with the likes of Peter North.

    Your reaction formation is showing. You may want to tuck that back in a bit before everyone gets the idea that your primary motivation for trolling this blog is, in fact, your attraction to its author.

New comments have been disabled.