To prevent brain damage, the Surgeon General recommends that statements by Michael Egnor be read using approved devices such as the StupidView9000
Orac bravely dives deeper into the Discovery Institute’s creationist drivel, and reports on the continuing ignorant idiocy of Michael Egnor. I don’t know what’s worse: Egnor’s willful ignorance, or his pseudo-victimization complex. Let’s deal with the ignorance first.
In an interview with Casey Luskin, Egnor states (italics mine):
EGNOR: Well, it’s a pretty funny claim on the part of Darwinists. It’s sort of like Al Gore claiming that he invented the Internet, that he was the basis for Love Story. I mean, people who are infatuated with their ideas can claim credit for everything. The reality is that bacteria are killed or not killed by antibiotics because of reasons that have been uncovered by molecular biology, by pharmacology, by all sorts of very important parts of medicine. We don’t need the Darwinists to tell us that bacteria that are killed by antibiotics don’t survive and that bacteria that aren’t killed by antibiotics do survive. We don’t need to read Origin of Species to understand this. Perhaps a Darwinist physician does, but other physicians don’t. The idea that Darwinists can take credit for the simple observation that bacteria that aren’t sensitive to antibiotics aren’t sensitive to antibiotics is astonishing. It’s a ridiculous notion. Darwinism is nothing in our understanding of that.
I’m going to spell this out really slowly so that even Egnor can understand (and here’s a picture that might help). In every bacterial population, there are pre-existing genetic variants that are resistant to antibiotics. When that population is exposed to an antibiotic, the sensitive bacteria die (or stop growing), while the resistant bacteria multiply. Over time, resistant bacteria (the resistance is genetically based) replace the sensitive bacteria: resistance genes become predominant. In other words, the bacterial population has experienced a change in genotypes–the genetic composition of the population has been altered. The change of gene frequencies in a population, in its most simple and reductionist sense, is evolution. (In fact, it is evolution by natural selection).
It would appear that Egnor has never met a single doctor who has had to decide whether or not to prescribe an antibiotic to treat a child’s ear infection. The reason doctors don’t always (or usually) prescribe an antibiotic is that they are concerned that unnecessary use of antibiotics will lead to the evolution of antibiotic resistance.
Since Egnor tugs on patients’ neurons for a living, I don’t think this or his misstatement that “Darwinists can take credit for the simple observation that bacteria that aren’t sensitive to antibiotics aren’t sensitive” stem from an inability to cogitate successfully: this is clearly willful ignorance.
But what is even more galling is the perpetual creationist arrogance evinced by this gem (italics mine):
LUSKIN: Well, I really enjoyed talking to you last time. We learned about some of the reasons that you are a scientific skeptic of evolution. After all, you’re only a Professor of Neurosurgery. So what do you know about this subject?
LUSKIN: But I’d like to know some more about, you know, I think that maybe some of our Darwinist friends, if you don’t have a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, they complain that you aren’t qualified to talk about the subject. Even if you do have a Ph.D., sometimes they will complain if you don’t have the right views. But in this case, you are clearly an outstanding representative of the medical field, and you are fully qualified, there’s no one can dispute that–you are more than able to talk about…you know, how does the medical field interact with neo-Darwinian theory. And I’d like to find out from you: Does neo-Darwinism play a large role? By the way, I dispute anyone who says you are not qualified to talk about evolution, but I think that no one would argue that you are qualified to talk about the medical field. So, talk to me about the medical field, and does it rely on neo-Darwinism in, you know, everyday practice of medicine?
Luskin and Egnor are treating this as a case of arrogant Ph.D.s beating up on a simple country neurosurgeon who is armed only with common sense. This is a lie. Egnor is not speaking truth to power. He is a willfully ignorant man, who is rightfully being called out for his promotion of ignorance. As Orac notes, and I explain above, Egnor has demonstrated that he can not or will not understand concepts that high school students can readily master.
This idiocy unfortunately matters. If creationists manage to convince enough people that the problem of antibiotic resistance has nothing to do with evolution, it will make it that much harder to combat the problem of antibiotic resistance. And I’ve already posted about the consequences of that.