Pharyngula

The DI and the astonishingly tepid petition

Whoa. This is amazing. A NY Times reporter got a Discovery Institute press release, and he didn’t just accept it on their say-so—he actually went digging to find out how accurate it was. I have to give Kenneth Chang his due for going below the surface and investigating a claim.

The Discovery Institute has been circulating a petition since 2001, trying to get people to sign on to a statement of dissent from Darwin. They’ve now got over 500 signatures on it, but as the article shows, the majority are not biologists, and in interviews with some of the signers, many seem to have signed because of religious sensibilities. When asked, they did dig up two signers who were not religious, and one is David Berlinski, who is not a scientist but is instead a professional pompous ass and semisupporter of astrology. The list includes Phil Skell, a major crackpot.

That’s why these petitions are meaningless: there will always be fringe characters who will sign on to anything that pokes the establishment in the eye.

As Josh Rosenau shows, there’s another reason the DI petition could get that many signatures: it’s meaningless and gutless. The thing is titled “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” for Odin’s sake…”Darwinism”? I dissent from “Darwinism”—it’s a theory that’s over a century old, that has been extensively revised, and Darwinism sensu strictu doesn’t exist as a major theory anymore. It’s a straw man that creationists flail at.

Look at the cowardly statement they ask people to sign:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

That’s it? They can’t even mention their pet guess of Intelligent Design, but instead ask people to sign off on a statement professing the values of skepticism and careful examination? Weak, man, weak. Pathetic.

Hey, I’ve got this idea that Martians are zapping George Bush’s brain with their orbiting lasers, causing it to shrivel and collapse. Do you think the NSA, FBI, CIA, EPA, NCD and RRB will pay attention to me if I get enough people to sign a petition deploring neurodegenerative diseases?

Comments

  1. #1 Charlie Wagner
    February 21, 2006

    “A plague on both your houses”

    http://tinyurl.com/z5vcu

    “Dr. Salthe,
    http://www.nbi.dk/~natphil/salthe/
    who describes himself as an atheist, said that when he signed the petition he had no idea what the Discovery Institute was. Rather, he said, “I signed it in irritation.”

    He said evolutionary biologists were unfairly suppressing any competing ideas. “They deserve to be prodded, as it were,” Dr. Salthe said. “It was my way of thumbing my nose at them.”

    Dr. Salthe said he did not find intelligent design to be a compelling theory, either. “From my point of view,” he said, “it’s a plague on both your houses.”

    My sentiments exactly.

  2. #2 Shirley Knott
    February 21, 2006

    We have you Charlie, what worse plague could be inflicted upon us?
    Oh, yeah, we could be you…

    BTW, I think you’ve got some unanswered questions in current threads — how about you close those loops before posting other meaningless drivel?

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

  3. #3 Dora Mia
    February 21, 2006

    I read about this at Demski’s site. I wrote a post asking how many of his “supporters” were named “Steve”. The post still hasn’t appeared yet. I wonder what the hold up might be?

  4. #4 BronzeDog
    February 21, 2006

    …David Berlinski, who is not a scientist but is instead a professional pompous ass and semi-supporter of astrology.

    I have more respect (less disrespect?) for astrologers than IDers. Astrology usually makes predictions. They’re wrong, but at least they have something science can measure.

  5. #5 Ginger Yellow
    February 21, 2006

    I am a critic of Darwinian evolutionary theory — which was my own erstwhile field of specialization in biology. My opposition is fundamentally to its sole reliance on competition as an explanatory principle (in a background of chance). Aside from being a bit thin in the face of complex systems, it has the disadvantage, in the mythological context of explaining where we come from, of reducing all evolution to the effects of competition. I see this as morally vicious, if understandable in the genealogical sense that it serves as a myth congenial to capitalism. Motivated thus, I have found that upon close examination there are many limitations on the power of Darwinian explanations.

    So, a perfectly disinterested scientist, there. And note that

  6. #6 Whimsical Monkey
    February 21, 2006

    …there will always be fringe characters who will sign on to anything that pokes the establishment in the eye.

    I’ve been wondering how the public distinguishes one fringe from another. After the “book review” in the NYTimes of Dennett’s latest, I’ve seen many comments in Christian blogs referring to him as a “fringe character poking the establishment in the nose” (something that Dennett himself suggests in the intro). It is true: there are few people (in the US) that would question religion’s usefulness. That has to put him on the fringe.

    So, how do you suggest to others that one fringe is useful and the other is not? Maybe Dennett’s ideas are testable?

  7. #7 coturnix
    February 21, 2006

    Chang has improved his journalistic practices since his last article on the topic, when he had to come to the comment thread on Pharyngula to defend himself.

    Also, if one reads the Origin closely, and even more Descent Of Man, even Darwin’s own Darwinism is far from “just competition” – there are sexual selection, group selection, etc. Somebody’s been reading Spenser (or Tennison) instead of Darwin.

    And of course, even if Darwins himself was all about Red Tooth And Claw, which he was not, no evolutionary biologist today subscribes to such an oversimplification – it’s a straw-man built up by someone who who wants to make a career by busting a Kuhnian paradigm, but…it’s not working. Sorry.

  8. #8 BronzeDog
    February 21, 2006

    Of course, the guy Ginger’s quoting is probably mistaking the limitations of his imagination for false limitations of evolution.

    And, of course, he’s making an appeal to consequences of belief.

    And, of course, evolution is responsible for altruism in humans. It’s one of the greatest competitive advantages we have as a species, especially since it complements our big brains and communication abilities.

  9. #9 Dave S.
    February 21, 2006

    We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.

    What does this even mean? To which claims are they referring? If they mean that RM/NS can’t account for the entirety of evolution, then count me in.

    It’s the kind of wishy-washy cowardly petition that anyone could sign really.

  10. #10 steve s
    February 21, 2006

    You should put a trackback to the Uncommon Descent story about this.

  11. #11 clvrmnky
    February 21, 2006

    @PZ: Some of those links go back to your pre-ScienceBlogs site. I’m too lazy to search for them myself.

    @Ginger: That guy may be disinterested, but he’s also not a very good scientist. Criticising Darwin for not having as full an understanding of the framework of evolution, which he helped define, is usually described as anachronistic. It is an error to hold the past up to a standard only recently determined.

    Yes, early scientists focused on the notion of survival of the fittest as the main driving force behind evolution. We also used to think that man, the hunter, was the uber-species in any era it flourished. Both of these extreme views are not quite accurate, it turns out, and had much more to do with how humans felt about themselves now.

    Humanism, feminism and the so-called social-sciences have all offered critiques of common models of scientific thought since Darwin, and science has responded and thrived as a result.

    The point is that science can learn from this, move on and fine-tune these notions. It can handle critiques (even from other disciplines) and shifts in thinking as humans mature. It is a very robust way of describing the world around us.

    This is precisely something that belief systems and (specifically) ID cannot handle.

  12. #12 Ginger Yellow
    February 21, 2006

    Um, clvrmnky, I was being sarcastic. He’s clearly not disinterested.

  13. #13 Charlie Wagner
    February 21, 2006

    Paul wrote:

    “”Darwinism”? I dissent from “Darwinism”�it’s a theory that’s over a century old, that has been extensively revised, and Darwinism sensu strictu doesn’t exist as a major theory anymore. It’s a straw man that creationists flail at.”

    ROFLMAO!

    It’s these little “gems” that inspire me to slog on.

  14. #14 GH
    February 21, 2006

    ‘After the “book review” in the NYTimes of Dennett’s latest, I’ve seen many comments in Christian blogs referring to him as a “fringe character poking the establishment in the nose” (something that Dennett himself suggests in the intro). ‘

    I would say the word ‘fringe’ is being misused in Dennetts case. That a few Christian blogs find his arguments irritating is beside the point. There are millions of blogs and Dennett is widely known as an excellent thinker who more often than not provides coherent arguments.

    That is not the case with most real ‘fringe’ ideas. They are neither coherent or sensisble. Just because a group doesn’t like them doesn’t make them fringe. It’s the quality of the argument that matters.

  15. #15 lt.kizhe
    February 21, 2006

    I’m too lazy to Google it up, but there was some biologist at a University in/near Seattle (a Christian, as it happens, but not a creationist loon) who took the petition at face value and signed it — and later repudiated the petition when he discovered it was a bait & switch. I wonder how many other signers really assent to what the DI claims the petition means?

  16. #16 GH
    February 21, 2006

    ‘Dr. Tour, who describes himself as a Messianic Jew, one who also believes in Christ as the Messiah’

    To me that is the very definition of a confused person. If you believe in Jesus your a Christian. Your no longer a jew, just one who trys to hold onto a culture and a set of beliefs you now disagree with. But it’s a free country.

  17. #17 wamba
    February 21, 2006

    Discovery officials did point to two scientists, David Berlinski, a philosopher and mathematician and a senior fellow at the institute, and Stanley N. Salthe, a visiting scientist at Binghamton University, State University of New York, who signed but do not hold conservative religious beliefs.

    Berlinski signed the petition, but wait:
    Scientific support for ‘intelligent design’ disputed

    Posted on Tue, Sep. 27, 2005
    David Berlinski, a mathematician and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and a sharp critic of neo-Darwinism, also signed the statement of dissent. But in an e-mail message, Berlinski declared, “I have never endorsed intelligent design.”

    Very strange. One who wasn’t already assured of Berlinki’s immaculate integrity might think he’s only in it for the DI money.

  18. #18 wamba
    February 21, 2006

    So the DI points out two signers out of the 500+ who are not conservative Christians, and neither one endorses Intelligent Design creationism. Hmmm.

  19. #19 wamba
    February 21, 2006

    I’m too lazy to Google it up, but there was some biologist at a University in/near Seattle (a Christian, as it happens, but not a creationist loon) who took the petition at face value and signed it — and later repudiated the petition when he discovered it was a bait & switch. I wonder how many other signers really assent to what the DI claims the petition means?

    That was Robert Davidson. I have no idea if there have been others.

  20. #20 Glen Davidson
    February 21, 2006

    It is not unheard of for modern evolutionary theory to be referred to as “Darwinism”. Nature does so at times. Nevertheless, it is clear that the DI and ID proponents do equivocate, attacking the ancient Darwinian ideas as if they constituted the modern theory. “Darwinism” is an easy target if not explicitly defined as the present-day theory, which is one reason why they are attacking evolution by the name “Darwinism”. Another reason is that they wish to imply that “Darwinism” is an ideology created by some godless scientist.

    Berlinski we know. Isn’t even claiming to be “agnostic” mostly recognized today as being wimpy and meaningless? The term was useful in Thomas Huxley’s battles, but by now it is mostly used by gutless wonders like Berlinski and DaveScot. Both lack concise and meaningful conceptions of science and proper epistemological frameworks, so both sign up for the meaninglessness of “agnosticism”.

    For anyone lacking an experience of the scintillating styles and argumentation of the famed Phil Skell, here is his statement on PT, plus my response:

    Posted by Phil Skell on May 27, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

    I will not enter this discussion, except to note that all the criticisms of Wells’ position apply at least as well, probably better, to the Darwinian attempts at explanation of the phenomena; I challenge the critics to explain them with their favored beliefs.

    Comment #32426
    Posted by Glen Davidson on May 27, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

    Just entered into the discussion to make a mindless, unsupported accusation, eh Skell? Well, I’m sure you’re doing the best you can.

    Source:
    http://tinyurl.com/h7use

    Skell is credited by many with being a competent chemist, but get him into a discussion of biology and it’s like he thinks that baldly stating his prejudices is meaningful. I believe I was correct in noting that it was the best he can do in that situation.

    We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

    Of course the above is wide open to interpretation. “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.” Well who isn’t? The complexity of life appears to be the result of far more than just selection of random mutations, rather several relatively accidental processes tend to push for greater complexity than would be expected of just RM+NS.

    I do sometimes use RM+NS as shorthand for current evolutionary thought, but of course I know that evolution is rather more than just this. That is to say, at other times I make explicit that evolutionary theory is not just RM+NS, and I’m not even asking anyone to sign off on my posts. It remains to be known whether or not they are too obtuse to acknowledge the richness of evolutionary thought, or if they’re deliberately equivocating and hoping that those with a more complex understanding will be bamboozled into signing against simplistic notions of evolution.

    There are several “mechanisms” in evolution which tend to produce complexity throughout the biosphere. We should note here in passing that we are able to predict from our theories that life will be complex because of splitting, selection of several kinds (depending on how we count them), plus the accumulation of information left over from past adaptations coupled to randomly realized forms. ID, as usual, has no predictions of complexity, only a yawping incredulity in the face of complexity.

    “Careful examination of the evidence for “Darwinian theory,” has two effects that I’d like to point to. One is obvious, that it may sucker in some intelligent scientists into signing up for this platitudinous suggestion. The second is more sinister in that it suggests that evolutionary evidence is not considered skeptically by scientists, and that the DI is somehow inclined to rectifying this lack of examination. The whole of the ID ‘science through PR program’ is shot through with such carefully planted false suggestions, so it isn’t surprising that their petition would include these false implications as well.

    And of course the DI always tries to spin any skepticism about RM+NS into their criticisms of “naturalism”. On the one hand, there is some justification for this in that religious apologists comprise the vast bulk of the signatories. On the other hand, however, it is yet again their attempted sleight-of-hand of creating the false dichotomy of: either RM+NS or ID. What else could they do? Well, nothing, since they have no evidence for ID at all. But of course, if modern evolutionary thought ever proves to be inadequate to explain important aspects of evolution, we who prefer science to magic will be looking for another epistemologically sound “natural” explanation, not “poof, then a miracle happened”.

    So of course the DI petition is weak, but their whole program of criticism of legitimate science is weak. They simply hope that many will not notice its weakness, its equivocations, and its false implications, and thus the naive subject will accept the DI’s false dichotomy without critical thought.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

  21. #21 wamba
    February 21, 2006

    I thought it would be fun to juxtapose two statements from the NYTimes article:

    “Early on, the critics said there was nobody who disbelieved Darwin’s theory except for rubes in the woods,” said Bruce Chapman, president of the institute. “How many does it take to be a noticeable minority � 10, 50, 100, 500?”

    Mr. Chapman of that institute said the opposing petitions were beside the point. “We never claimed we’re in a fight for numbers,” he said.

    The first comment was made in discussing the DI’s own list, the second was made after the interviewer brought up “Project Steve”.

  22. #22 lt.kizhe
    February 21, 2006

    Glen wrote:
    [Berlinski & DaveScot] lack concise and meaningful conceptions of science and proper epistemological frameworks, so both sign up for the meaninglessness of “agnosticism”.

    Not that I disagree with the rest of your post, or your characterization of those individuals, but I do know someone (and PZ will recognize who I’m talking about) who is a forthright agnostic, and who has probably forgotten more about “science and proper epistemological frameworks” than most of the rest of us will ever know.

  23. #23 davidm
    February 21, 2006

    Whoa. This is amazing. A NY Times reporter got a Discovery Institute press release and he didn’t just accept it on their say-so�he actually went digging to find out ho accurate it was.

    And yet, last spring, The Times ran a mammoth front-page article detailing the history of the Discovery Institute and its religious connections, an article that even you were not dissatisfied with. Just another fascinating fact that makes one go: “Hmmm…”

  24. #24 Glen Davidson
    February 21, 2006

    If Myers is agnostic, one certainly couldn’t tell from most of what he writes on Pharyngula, like this:

    This little parable/thought experiment was inspired by Steve?s comment in the Stirner birthday message, where he advocates for agnosticism over either theism or atheism.

    Imagine yourself in the following scenario:

    You?ve just returned home from a day at work. While you set your keys on the kitchen counter and remove your coat you can hear the familiar voices of your roommate and her/his S.O. in the other room.

    You start to wonder about what you might make yourself for dinner when suddenly you are startled by a loud gunshot, followed by what sounds like a body falling to the floor. Rather than getting the hell out of there you somewhat foolishly run to the other room to see what happened. Once there, you see your roommate standing there, arm outstretched, holding a still-smoking pistol pointed at what is now, apparently, a corpse.

    Your roommate looks at you and says ?Santa Claus did it.?

    Do you:

    a) Sincerely believe that your roommate is telling the actual truth?
    b) Decide that, because you didn?t actually see your roommate fire the gun, you just can?t know one way or another whether Santa did it?
    c) Consider your roommate a murderer, and the claim to be the rationalization of a mind that has snapped?

    If my point isn?t glaringly obvious, I think that the Christian/Muslim/Jew/whatever ought to take position A, since, according to most religious beliefs, faith is a virtue. The agnostic ought to take position B, because certain knowledge about anything is denied us. That leaves C, the only rational, reasonable, explanation, for the skeptics/atheists.

    If you?re not a skeptical atheist, but you still chose option C above, well, then I applaud you for being reasonable. But I think you need to explain why you choose the analogous A or B when it comes to the equally dubious claim that there is a God.

    It’s a bit difficult to believe that Myers would choose B.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

  25. #25 Jeremy Henty
    February 21, 2006

    @Dave S.

    We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.

    What does this even mean?

    It doesn’t mean anything. That’s the point. It’s a piece of bafflegab that gives the impression of dissent without saying anything factual that could actually be refuted.

    I’ll bet these guys have read Othello. Remember how Iago tarnishes Cassio’s honour in everyone’s eyes by half-assedly defending it? They are playing the same trick; they behave as if skepticism needs defending from evolutionism and pray that the gullible will think they are acting in good faith.

  26. #26 Raindog
    February 21, 2006

    What a stupid test for theism/agnosticism/athieism. Although belief in any of the world’s religions is akin to beliefe in Santa. They are equally implausible.

    I am an atheist. That simply means that I don’t believe any conception of God that I have heard about. I have not seen a speck of evidence that there is a god. If I did see some unequivocal evidence that could be verified and tested and retested, I would believe it. I don’t think its gonna happen though. Its the only rational position.

    Another thing. These “scientists” who say that there is no reason to behave yourself if there is no god are a questionable bunch aren’t they? I wish someone would ask them “Does this mean that you would kill your neighbor, rape his wife and/or steal his gold if you knew there was no hell? Is fear of punishment all that is stopping you??” Makes you kind of nervous about what they might do if they suddenly realize that their religions are stories mad eup by men to try to control each other.

  27. #27 lt.kizhe
    February 21, 2006

    Glen, on the off-chance you’re replying to me (otherwise I’m not sure what your post is about): read more carefully. I didn’t say PZ was agnostic.

  28. #28 Glen Davidson
    February 21, 2006

    I just realized that it was Jim Lippard’s quiz, not Myers’, while Myers’ blog points approvingly to Lippard’s quiz. My conclusion remains the same.

    Here’s Myers stating that he considers himself a strong atheist:

    http://tinyurl.com/h7use

    And here is Myers’ little blog entry with the link to Lippard’s quiz. If it’s “stupid”, take it up with Lippard and Myers:

    http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/a_b_or_c/

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

  29. #29 Philip Brooks
    February 21, 2006

    I don’t think I’ve ever read “sensu strictu” before. I’m guessing it means “in a strict sense.” I did a Google search on it, and nearly everyone using it seems to be a biologist of some sort. I’m curious where it came from and why it’s unique to that science. Is it Latin? I don’t recognize the ending.

  30. #30 Glen Davidson
    February 21, 2006

    Oh, right Kizhe. I sort of skimmed what you wrote. After all, it’s rather pointless to bring up an unnamed individual who is recognized by PZ Myers, but that is what you did after all.

    I’m hardly unaware that people can know a lot while coming to poor conclusions. Plus I have to wonder just how much this unnamed individual really knows about “science and proper epistemological frameworks”. A bit of analytic philosophy and/or scientific restatements of analytic philosophy does not really bring one to the level of understanding epistemology. The fact of the matter is that I think that all named positions in this matter, “atheist”, “agnostic”, and “theistic”, are constructions that bypass the deeper issues of epistemology. Thus I really don’t even claim atheism, since one hardly requires a privative in front of a word that refers to nothing that has been perceived.

    Nevertheless, this unknown person or god or whatever may have a great understanding of the issues, for all I know. What matters the most is that arguments from authority are not very meaningful.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

  31. #31 BlueIndependent
    February 21, 2006

    “Darwinism sensu strictu doesn’t exist as a major theory anymore. It’s a straw man that creationists flail at.” -PZ

    My quote of the day. =)

  32. #32 wamba
    February 21, 2006

    I don’t think I’ve ever read “sensu strictu” before. I’m guessing it means “in a strict sense.”

    Dealu bigu.

  33. #33 Andrew
    February 21, 2006

    Since the subtitle of this blog is “Random ejaculations from a godless liberal,” I think PZ has been pretty up-front about his religious beliefs.

  34. #34 Mike
    February 21, 2006

    I like the way the DI says that biologists are the “single largest group” in the list of 500. A bit pathetic really 🙂

    It’s also worth nothing that the latest “List of Steves” was attacked as argumentum ad populum (or whatever) over on IndecentDissent (despite clear warnings that it’s a parody), and then barely 24 hours later they post the “DI 500 List” to general noises of warm approval.

    Those guys have no sense of humour.

  35. #35 t.f.
    February 21, 2006

    Note that the DI has the combo of balls and f-ing stupidity to list *a DEAD MAN* on there:
    Dave Chapman … see http://www.whoi.edu/mr/obit.do?id=716

  36. #36 wamba
    February 21, 2006

    It’s also worth nothing that the latest “List of Steves” was attacked as argumentum ad populum (or whatever) over on IndecentDissent (despite clear warnings that it’s a parody), and then barely 24 hours later they post the “DI 500 List” to general noises of warm approval.

    See my comment above (February 21, 2006 12:28 PM) for Bruce Chapman playing both sides of that within the one NYTimes article.

  37. #37 Lux Fiat
    February 21, 2006

    wamba, I got a chuckle out of those paragraphs you quoted, too. And then from the very next two paragraphs:

    Discovery officials said that they did not ask the religious beliefs of the signers and that such beliefs were not relevant. John G. West, a senior fellow at Discovery, said it was “stunning hypocrisy” to ask signers about their religion “while treating the religious beliefs of the proponents of Darwin as irrelevant.”

    Discovery officials did point to two scientists, David Berlinski, a philosopher and mathematician and a senior fellow at the institute, and Stanley N. Salthe, a visiting scientist at Binghamton University, State University of New York, who signed but do not hold conservative religious beliefs.

    “How dare you ask about the signers’ religious beliefs! The gall! The hypocrisy! But, um, while we’re on the subject, I just happen to have the names right here of two signers who are total atheists. Not that you should care!”

  38. #38 BronzeDog
    February 21, 2006

    Those guys have no sense of humour.

    A sense of humor requires an ability to detect logical fallacies, if my brother’s hypothesis (which I’ve probably brought up illions of times for some reason) about humor is correct. So, yeah, you’re probably right, Mike: No sense of humor on their part.

  39. #39 brandon
    February 21, 2006

    Don’t be pretentious. If you don’t recognize a 4th declension ending and figure out it’s ablative, singular, right off the back, you don’t know Latin well enough to try to shame someone else about his or her own, in this case, correct usage, of a phrase meaning “In a strict sense” or “In the narrow meaning of the word/concept.”

    By using the “u” endinig, the 2nd declension adjective “Strictus” does not agree with the noun in a classically correct way, it should have a 2nd declension masculine ending to agree with the word ‘sensus,’ a fourth declension word (another tip-off here is that the 4th declension is chock full of words denoting abstract concepts)

    Even if we take it as the supine part of the verb sentio, you still have to deal with a non-standard ending for strictus. Gender and number usually need to agree, but not necessarily the phoneme, dig?

    However, just because it’s formed wrong for Latin, doesn’t mean that it’s used or formed wrong in the English. That would be absurd! Under that standard, we’d have to throw out most of our loan words and neat little, succinct, foreign phrases.

    At any rate, most of the non-literary, little latin phrases transplants are not classically derived, and came to us via the overarching late and medieval latin grammar and its various uses, e.g. ecclessiastical latin, the law, scientific correspondence, during which the language, as an international language, underwent a considerable loosening of the rules of formation.

    So, in the future, save face by taking your potshots from terra stabiliore.

    Or pick other details to nitpick about. Like that other poster said, deala biga.

    I’m apologize for smacking you around, but the snarkiness level in the comments has become simply odious. I blame the recent links to Fark and Slashdot.

    While comments are an integral part of any good blog, coming in here and just, well, being rude though par for the course for the internet, I suppose, doesn’t make for interesting or even good reading. It merely looks smug and whiny. It’s asinine, immature and really reflects badly on the author, not to mention turning others who might have interesting points or actual questions off to the idea of posting.

    The ramped up levels of snark are one of the reasons that I never respond here, though I often have questions or comments.

    But don’t flatter yourselves, It’s not that I’m afraid of someone making me cry. I just don’t have the time for constant pissing matches with arrogant pricks.

    Anyway, PZ, I continue to be a huge fan. But your houseguests, some of them are assholes, and I think they’ve brought their asshole friends.

  40. #40 Benjamin Harrison
    February 22, 2006

    One has to get a kick out of the spin that comes from the DI on occasion. Instead of defending the number of biologists on their list, they switch over to arguing that the lack of expertise and experience is a good thing…

    Second, it’s apparent from the diversity of scientific fields represented by our dissent list that Darwinian biologists are having an increasingly tough time convincing scientists from other disciplines of the veracity of their theory. They are having trouble persuading chemists, physicists, engineers and others that natural selection and random mutation are actually capable of generating the highly-ordered complexity we see throughout the natural world.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/02/the_new_york_times_misses_the.html#more

  41. #41 wamba
    February 22, 2006

    Anyway, PZ, I continue to be a huge fan. But your houseguests, some of them are assholes, and I think they’ve brought their asshole friends.

    Wrong again. I’m not an asshole, I’m a fool. What that makes you for replying at length to the ramblings of a fool I will leave an open question.

  42. #42 wamba
    February 22, 2006

    I’m apologize for smacking you around, but the snarkiness level in the comments has become simply odious.

    Today’s literary classic: The Hunting of the Snark, a reading by brandon.

  43. #43 clvrmnky
    February 22, 2006

    @Ginger Yellow: It was not clear from the context (to me, anyway) that you were being facetious. It’s clear that this particular corner of the internet is famous for attracting provacateurs, so I read your comment in a straight-ahead manner.

    As much as I decry the over-use of emoticons and the like, it seems that they can make misunderstandings like this less likely.

  44. #44 Keith Douglas
    February 22, 2006

    (Pardon the offtopic remark)
    BronzeDog, has your brother done any research on that hypothesis? As a sometime educator in critical thinking I’m curious.

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