Respectful Insolence

A few days ago, given that light of the “intelligent design” creationism movement, William Dembski, had bragged about how much he had helped Ann Coulter write the chapters in her latest screed (Godless: The Church of Liberalism) attacking evolution, I had wondered what he might think now of being associated with her, given some of what we now know to be also in her book, such as her vicious attacks on liberals in general and certain 9/11 widows in particular (“I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much” and “now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy”).

Now I know:

Having been a sounding board for Ann Coulter on chapters 8-10 of GODLESS, I’m happy to see the entire book now that it is out. Ann is taking Phillip Johnson’s message as developed in DARWIN ON TRIAL and REASON IN THE BALANCE and bringing it home to the masses. Critics will dismiss it for its hyperbole, lack of nuance, and in-your-face attitude. But she has the gist just right, which is that materialism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture despite being held by only a minority of the populace and has become an agenda among our elites (academy, scientists, media) for total worldview reprogramming. Close to half the book is devoted to science and evolution. I cannot help but feel that GODLESS will propel our issues in the public consciousness like nothing to date. Phil Johnson’s DARWIN ON TRIAL took ten years to sell 300,000 copies. I expect Ann will sell more than that in ten weeks.

“Total worldview reprogramming”? What the heck does he mean by that? Besides, couldn’t one equally make the argument that religious fundamentalists have an even more rigid “total worldview program” than those eeevilll liberals that Ann vents her spleen on so often?

The bottom line is that Dembski doesn’t seem to care about the viciousness of the other parts of Coulter’s book, as long as it sells a lot of copies and brings his ID creationist propaganda to the masses. In his post, he sounds downright overjoyed, Coulter’s intentional trolling for reactions by using the most despicable rhetoric be damned!

Anything for the cause, eh Bill?

Comments

  1. #1 porlock junior
    June 13, 2006

    Sorry, this is off topic, but one needs some place to say it:

    Sure do hate those animated ads that See puts in your margin, the sole purpose of which is to keep me from reading what you are saying and make me read some fucking ad instead. What a brilliant thing to do for their collection of really serious bloggers.

    Fortunately one can, with moderate extra trouble, shift them off the edge of the screen, but I assume they’ll find a way around that, as they have around various other filters, like Privoxy. When that happens, I’ll just have to stop following any of the half dozen Seed blogs I now read, and just come around here when somebody else points to an item; a change that will not affect Seed’s revenues in the slightest, of course, but I’ll miss you.

  2. #2 Ahistoricality
    June 13, 2006

    “materialism (she calls it liberalism)”….

    I love the utter fungibility of these critiques. It actually doesn’t matter to either of them who they’re attacking, as long as most of their readers think of the targets as “them” not “us.”

  3. #3 Dabodius
    June 13, 2006

    Dembski’s pride in owning his association with the professionally offensive what’s-her-face suggests he doesn’t care about offending people who aren’t already in his (and her) camp. He knows better than to try to dissuade anyone of the truth of evolution: he is not trying to win us over. The thrust of “ID” as a movement, or as a section of the larger Right, is to pressure educators and government to teach and establish pseudoscience palatable to the Christian Right, so they must rally the Right to all push together. Invective and bizarre reframing (“Liberals are convinced of evolution becuase they hate science”) cheer on the regiments marching in step; trying to give evidence that should in principle persuade any reasonable person would only get in their way — and not just because they don’t have the evidence, but because weighing it would impede rather than slow down the shock troops. Just as “ID” counterfeits science, books like this one counterfeit public argument.

  4. #4 kemibe
    June 13, 2006

    Given that Dembski thrives on dishonesty in the same way neutrophils gobble up pathogens and other filth, he probably couldn’t be happier that Coulter seems to have plagiarized quite a bit in assembling her unholy screed. If she’s “borrowing” passages previously published elsewhere, she’s just rightfully taking back ideas the right originally produced anyway. Worldview reprogramming, baby.

  5. #5 Sean Foley
    June 13, 2006

    I took a look at Coulter’s book last week. Her chapters on evolution were cribbed almost wholesale from Wells, but, in fairness to Ms. Coulter, she does manage to make the points that Michael Moore is fat and Dennis Kucinich is goofy-looking, neither of which may be found in Icons of Evolution.

  6. #6 Orac
    June 13, 2006

    Sure do hate those animated ads that See puts in your margin, the sole purpose of which is to keep me from reading what you are saying and make me read some fucking ad instead.

    If the ads bother you that, please take it up with our Seed overlords. They do listen to reader input. I am but a humble servant blogger and have close to no input about this issue. Complaints do have an effect. About a month ago, there was the fiasco when the Seed suits forced ads upon us in which an animated tornado ran across the actual text. Worse, in certain browsers, such as Safari and Opera, this Flash animation disabled any links that the tornado had happened to “fly” over. Many of the bloggers raised a stink on our private message board; quite a few readers complained; and (I hope) the suits learned their lesson.

    Remember a practical matter, though: The ads pay for this site. Without them, there would be no ScienceBlogs, and all of us SB’ers would likely separate and scatter to the four winds (namely, our own previous blogs). My philosophy is that, as long as the ads don’t actually cover the text at any time and don’t promote something that strongly goes against my beliefs or would compromise me in some way (examples include ads for altie remedies, colon cleanses, or other pseudoscience, the appearance of any of which would put me in a quandary), then I will make my peace with them. They’re a fact of life in the publishing business.

  7. #7 Elaine
    June 13, 2006

    About the ads: Firefox with the Adblock plugin gets rid of the ads for me.

  8. #8 R
    June 13, 2006

    I have only enjoyed one Ann Coulter-associated moment, which was ~2 years ago when she appeared on the Chris Matthews show on MSNBC. Within 1 minute of him asking her pointed questions about her views, she started off spouting out her invective, and not responding to what he was asking.

    He cut her off, then cut her off again, then finally said, “This is my show. I ask the questions, and you answer them.” She was shocked, and thrown off balance.

    Matthews proceeded to slowly wear her down. It was priceless. Sadly, only someone with a Kevlar personality like his could reduce her to the mere human that she is.

  9. #9 sconzey
    June 13, 2006

    “Critics will dismiss it for its hyperbole, lack of nuance, and in-your-face attitude”

    People aren’t going to take you seriously if they’re too busy being offended.

    Maybe books like these are less an attack on the opposition, or an argument-winner, but instead a rallying cry to the supporters…

    ID does make some good points about how for some people Darwinism stops being science and becomes a religion, and how we should all bear in mind that the theory is in constant evolution itself, but when a Christian associates himself with hate speech, his credibility does dip a bit…

    In fairness to him he did say she had the “gist” right… Maybe he didn’t read the whole book, just the chapters on creationism, after all, that’s all he was being asked to comment on.

  10. #10 Jim D
    June 14, 2006

    Materialism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture

    Can he be serious? It’s amazing the degree to which the right uses the idea that they’re being overwhelmingly attacked at every turn by secularism, while the actual picture is anything but…aargh, so frustrating.

  11. #11 Jess
    June 14, 2006

    And no less amazing how they will happily take up the Humpty-Dumpty position that words mean whatever they want them to mean.

    Note that this tactic, which completely ignores the actual semantic value of the words being used, could be employed to harness Coulter’s argument to anything you want:
    “Empiricism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture.”
    “Ethnocentrism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture.”
    “Chocoholism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture.”

    I think the main failing of the Left is that we stick to the belief that Words Mean Things. This is correct, but also makes it impossible for us to effectively combat a group of people who are more than willing to throw meaning gleefully to the winds.

  12. #12 Barry
    June 14, 2006

    “ID does make some good points about how for some people Darwinism stops being science and becomes a religion, and how we should all bear in mind that the theory is in constant evolution itself, but when a Christian associates himself with hate speech, his credibility does dip a bit…”

    Methinks that you’re confusing Freudian projection with good points.

  13. #13 Anna Haynes
    June 14, 2006

    About the ads: turning off image loading and Javascript made them go away for me.

    > for some people Darwinism stops being science and becomes a religion

    For the religious, “religion” is identical to “worldview”.

  14. #14 ed
    June 14, 2006

    It may not really mean anything but he’s clever enough hit all the right words for his paranoid target audience – dominate, culture, minority, agenda, and elite.

    Who could question him when he conjours up such a vivid worldview to impress on us all.

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