Mike the Mad Biologist

CPAC, Creationists, and…Giraffes?

448px-Giraffe_standing
Creationists say my head will explode. OH NOES!!!!

Driftglass bravely dove into the shallow end of the gene pool that is the Conservative Political Action Conference, which he describes perfectly:

For all nine-minutes of bullshit, faux-introspection chin-music that came from the Right about change, future and vision after they got hog-slaughtered in the last two elections, if you want to know what is really at the corrupt, oozy heart of the American Conservative movement (and its filthy little avatar, the Republican Party) look no further than their ideological trade show: the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

Anyway, after banging his head on said shallow end, driftglass tells us about of one of the supporters of CPAC, Tradition, Family and Property, which “believes that the failing and “discredited” Theory of Evolution, Teh Gay and those damned unregulated vaginae are destroying America.”

Against my better judgment, I had to look at their website.


So, here’s what what our erstwhile Defenders of Good were up to just last week:

It was a cold Monday morning at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania on Feb. 16. Students were roaming throughout the campus, busy with their daily routine of classes and studies, when TFP Student Action volunteers raised an American flag and a TFP standard outside of the campus quad. The objective of the day: hand out fliers refuting an issue central to the bellicose atheism of our times: Darwinian evolution.

Onward Christian Soldiers! Apparently, their divinely-inspired mission consists of bothering students trying to get to class:

TFP volunteer Cesar Franco was handing out the TFP flier, “Who really believes Darwin?” when a self-proclaimed pagan came up to him and began criticizing the flier, sparking a debate. Affirming that nothing can be proven with absolute certainty, she began to assert that evolution is certain. Caught in blatant contradiction, she began to deny absolute truth. To this denial, Mr. Franco said, “If I flip a coin in the air, I can say with absolute certainty that it will come back down.” She responded, “That’s not true! There is an infinitesimal chance that the coin will float out into space.” Stuck in a web of inconsistent arguments and dead-end reasoning, the woman departed.

Warning to the young’uns tempted to argue with these bozos: make sure you’re in control of your emotions, and that you’re prepared for the non-sequitur. This is what creationists do–trip you up by misconstruing your words and nitpicking. Onto their views of evolution by natural selection:

Natural selection, which, according to Darwin, is the process by which an organism keeps traits that favor its propagation and discards those which are detrimental, is not consistent in the development of certain animals.

Actually, natural selection deals with heritable traits in populations of organisms, but these guys are really fucking stupid, so we’ll spot them that. Here’s the argument that will make me ‘renounce my Darwinism’:

The giraffe, for example, with its elongated neck, has an extremely powerful heart which exerts a tremendous amount of force in order to pump blood up to its brain. This pressure is so strong that when the animal lowers its head to drink, the force behind the blood would cause a cerebral aneurism were it not for a special mechanism that lessens the force behind the blood, allowing the animal to bend its head down to a watering hole. But, if natural selection takes generations to successfully adapt traits in a species, then the giraffe would have surely died off long before this mechanism was developed.

Of course, a proto-giraffe with a slightly longer neck would be able to reach more food. Then the vascular system would evolve to compensate, then the neck could evolve and elongate further, then the vascular system would compensate, then…

DEAR GOD, CAN PEOPLE ACTUALLY BE THIS FUCKING STUPID UNINTENTIONALLY?

Because it’s not like there aren’t a whole bunch of other ungulates, some with long necks, and some with short necks, which might give you some ideas about the whole problem. Anyway, after a day of burbling similar inanities hither and yon, they claim “no logical argument was raised which could prove macroevolution.” Of course, they didn’t talk to, I dunno, a biology professor–because they’re really hard to find on college campuses.

I’m rebutting these wackaloons, not because I like doing so: it’s about as challenging as whacking a pinata, and as enjoyable as picking on someone who is not very bright (not fun–in case there’s any confusion about that). I do this because they are so stupid one really can’t describe them accurately without being unintentionally cruel to the mentally disabled.

And they are part of CPAC.

Which according to the CPAC website is described as “the heart and soul of conservatism” and “the preeminent yearly gathering of conservative activists.” Republican politicians actually attend. Believe it or not, they don’t run screaming from the room. Sure, there are crazy Democrats (with 50 million Democrats, give or take, some of them are guaranteed to be loco). But they’re not the intellectual vanguard of the Democratic Party.

Party of ideas? You betcha. Too bad, they’re fucking ridiculous ideas.

Comments

  1. #1 MikeMa
    February 25, 2009

    Mike,
    You are looking at this all wrong. This is the pointy end of the stick that the GOP will continue to stick in their own eyes.

    Marvelous morons unite! …and they did and called themselves CPAC.

  2. #2 John
    February 25, 2009

    Mike,

    I think I stopped being surprised about the connection between far-right social (evangelical?) conservatism and the GOP when I read the official 2008 GOP of Texas platform (http://www.texasgop.org/site/DocServer/FINAL_2008_PLATFORM.pdf?docID=5841). Under the “Theories of Origin” section we have the statement: “We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design”. That bears repeating … the Republican Party of Texas mentions “Intelligent Design” by name as a scientific theory to be taught in their official 2008 platform. Unfortunately I could not find out where they stand on the Higgs Boson or quantum entanglement. Perhaps the 2009 platform will address this egregious public policy oversight.

    John

  3. #3 mike shupp
    February 25, 2009

    My suspicion is these people know their militant anti-evolutionary position is a bit … silly … but they really Do Not Care. They aren’t scientists, they don’t want to be scientists, and they really enjoy seeing clouds of steam boiling off would-be authority figures who take this sort of stuff seriously.

    A possible cure: Fundamentalist Moslems don’t like Darwin anymore than fundmaentalist Christians. Perhaps in the interest of later day ecumenicism, we should all ask the relevent authorities that schools in Texas give instruction to _all_ students in Moslem ideas of biology, with passing the course a requirement for graduation. We should insist on it! Classes five day a week, with an appropriately Moslem dress code — who could possibly object to that?

    -ms

  4. #4 VampDuc
    February 26, 2009

    Living in Oklahoma makes you realize just how stupid and dangerous people like that are. We finally managed to shoot down a piece of legislature that would make it legal for students to put erroneous answers on tests because “God said this was right.”

  5. #5 Jeffery
    February 26, 2009

    “Of course, a proto-giraffe with a slightly longer neck would be able to reach more food.”

    Why would the giraffe have to develop a longer neck? I’m just a little confused about this point. Thanks

  6. #6 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    February 26, 2009

    Many of the creation arguments in the development of unique structures are limited to the assumption that only one structure in a living organism can evolve at a time. Until that feature is fully evolved and developed, absolutely nothing else can get started on evolving. That’s why they make such ludicrous claims about giraffe necks and “Half an eye/wing.”

    Are they stupid? Maybe. Proud of their ignorance of biology? Certainly. Happy to be conservatives? You bet your created ass, mister. If you don’t like it, get the hell out of Texas and the Conservative States of America.

  7. #7 Eric
    February 26, 2009

    I was just reading their web site a little bit, and I found this delightful claim:

    > The title refers to the famous phrase by Chandra Wickramasinghe, a professor of applied mathematics of the University College of Cardiff, “The probability that life was formed from inanimate matter is equal to 1 followed by 40,000 zeros . . . . It is large enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution.”

    (http://www.tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1036)

    So, the probability of life being formed from inanimate matter is 10^40,000? I didn’t know probabilities got up that high…

  8. #8 MikeMa
    February 26, 2009

    Jeffrey,
    Not sure if your question is serious but treating it as such: Proto-giraffe found that the longer his neck was, the more food was available, and the more he thrived. Shorter necked cousins had to compete with lots of other short necked vegetarian fauna for the flora available and therefore had less to eat.

    Short answer – the longer the neck, the more food he got. Over time, we get absurdly beautiful long necked beasties.

  9. #9 llewelly
    February 26, 2009

    MikeMa | February 26, 2009 3:46 PM

    Jeffrey,
    Not sure if your question is serious but treating it as such: Proto-giraffe found that the longer his neck was, the more food was available, and the more he thrived. Shorter necked cousins had to compete with lots of other short necked vegetarian fauna for the flora available and therefore had less to eat.

    Short answer – the longer the neck, the more food he got. Over time, we get absurdly beautiful long necked beasties.

    I don’t know where the scientific debate stands on this issue, but there is an alternative explanation based on sexual selection

  10. #10 MikeMa
    February 26, 2009

    llewelly
    Interesting alternative. More akin to elk or deer horns marking the stronger animal. We’ll see what future papers have to say.

    One thing that strikes me though is the appearance of the woods near my house where deer are mostly protected so they have the run of the place and you can tell how high they can reach because the vegetation is gone below that level. Maybe in scarcity, the height would make a bigger competitive difference. The giraffe may prefer to eat level but the ability to reach higher in tough times might be key.

    Evolution works either way.

  11. #11 MsInformed
    February 28, 2009

    RE: The giraffe neck evolution discussion. I bet both the food angle and the sex angle played into the neck development. And prolly other things we aren’t tuned into.
    Infinity is infinite in many ways. Seems obvious.

  12. #12 Jeffery
    March 1, 2009

    My question was for real MikeMa and I’m asking because, quite honestly, there are things that don’t seem to add up from the evolutionary point of view. That is from my vantage point, at least. So I’d figured asking couldn’t hurt.

    “Shorter necked cousins had to compete with lots of other short necked vegetarian fauna for the flora available and therefore had less to eat.”
    You said this in response to my question and the answer makes sense, but I was wondering why none of the other “shorter necked cousins” evolved as well. Why was it that just the giraffe evolved.

  13. #13 Hipple, Rev. Paul T
    March 2, 2009

    It gets tiresome to point out so often the red herring nature of this ‘access to food source’ argument of evolutionists. Look, if God wants one of His creatures to survive, He’ll find a way to get the creature some food.

    God imbued giraffes with long necks, for much the same reason He gave doves wings to fly, so that He would have a creature on Noah’s ark who could better help scout for dry land as The Flood ended.

    -RPTH

  14. #14 Moderately Unbalanced Squid
    March 6, 2009

    You said this in response to my question and the answer makes sense, but I was wondering why none of the other “shorter necked cousins” evolved as well. Why was it that just the giraffe evolved.

    Who says they didn’t?

    They may have evolved other mechanisms to deal with competition. A rock-cimbing ability to get to hilly areas where other ungulates couldn’t go, a migration pattern that allows them to circulate to where the trees are leafing earlier than their competitors do, herding behavior that excludes other herbivores from an area, a physiological mechanism for dealing with leaves that are hard or poisonous for other species to eat.

    A common flaw in creationist thought is that creationists seem to believe evolution is unidirectional for some reason (kind of like creationism!,) that the solution had to be the giraffe instead of that there were multiple possible solutions to a problem.

  15. #15 mirc
    April 15, 2009

    thanks.

  16. #16 sevisme
    April 15, 2009

    thank you..

  17. #17 yurek
    August 13, 2009

    very thanks for article

  18. #18 altın çilek
    February 18, 2011

    It gets tiresome to point out so often the red herring nature of this ‘access to food source’ argument of evolutionists. Look, if God wants one of His creatures to survive, He’ll find a way to get the creature some food.

    God imbued giraffes with long necks, for much the same reason He gave doves wings to fly, so that He would have a creature on Noah’s ark who could better help scout for dry land as The Flood ended.

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