Pharyngula

I’ve now read all of the science-related (that’s applying the term “related” very generously) stuff in Ann Coulter’s awful, ghastly, ignorant book, Godless, and it’s a bit overwhelming. This far right-wing political pundit with no knowledge of science at all has written a lengthy tract that is wall-to-wall error: To cover it all would require a sentence-by-sentence dissection that would generate another book, ten times longer than Coulter’s, all merely to point out that her book is pure garbage. So I’m stumped. I’m not interested in writing such a lengthy rebuttal, and I’m sure this is exactly what Coulter is counting on—tell enough lazy lies, and no one in the world will have time enough to correct them conscientiously. She’s a shameless fraud.

What to do? Well, we can’t take apart the whole thing, but what we can do is focus on individual claims and show that Coulter is outrageously wrong—that she has written things that indicate an utter lack of knowledge of the subject. Some of us at the Panda’s Thumb are going to be doing just that—look there later for more—and what I’m going to do here is address one very broad claim that Coulter has made repeatedly, and that is also common to many creationists.

That claim is that there is no evidence for evolution. I know, to anybody who has even a passing acquaintance with biology, that sounds like a ridiculous statement, like declaring that people can live on nothing but air and sunlight, or that yeti are transdimensional UFO pilots. Yet Coulter baldly makes the absurd claim that “There’s no physical evidence for [evolution]”, and insists in chapter 8 of her new book that there is “no proof in the scientist’s laboratory or the fossil record.” This is like standing outside in a drenching rainstorm and declaring that there is no evidence that you are getting wet.

Let me introduce you to PubMed. This is a freely accessible online database of articles published in the biomedically related fields of the life sciences. It indexes over 4800 journals and contains about 12 million articles going back to 1966, and it’s growing constantly. It’s very good if you are interested in looking up literature in medicine, zoology, biochemistry, etc.; it’s rather incomplete if your interests run to botany, paleontology, or geology, other fields that are rich sources of research in evolution. (By the way, another incredibly useful adjunct is HubMed, an alternative interface to PubMed that lets you get search results as an automated RSS feed. I’ve got a whole stack of automatic HubMed searches in my newsreader; how do you think I find all these cool articles?)

Here’s a simple thing you can do: search PubMed for all articles that discuss evolution. It’s not a very practical search, because it returns too much; you’re also going to get some number of false positives, because “evolution” is a word used in other contexts than evolutionary biology, but at the same time remember that PubMed doesn’t address all fields that deal with evolution equally well, and many papers discuss the details and mechanisms of evolution without putting the word in a title or abstract. When I just did that search, it came back with 177,396 articles on the subject, 25,759 of which were review articles…which means that in the somewhat limited PubMed database, there are about 150,000 primary research articles on evolution.

150,000.

That’s a big number, representing a huge amount of work. To narrow the scope a little bit, you can limit the search to the last 30 days; when I did this just now, it returned a list of 697 current articles on evolution. I’d have to read over 20 articles a day just to keep up! I feel like I’ve been diligent if I read one or two articles in depth during a day, and skim through a handful more—these aren’t light reading, after all, but data-rich technical papers loaded with big words and acronyms and referencing tens to hundreds of other papers.

Here’s another source of information: the Library of Congress. Go ahead and search for books on evolution, or to be really specific, search for Library of Congress numbers QH35-QH425. You’ll be busy for a while. Again, to narrow it down to something more accessible, I searched the University of Minnesota library system to see what they had on hand. 4,445 books. Even restricting myself to just books acquired in the last year, it’s about 330 (again, with some false positives for books on stellar evolution, for instance, or evolution of economics). Discounting that number a bit, it still means that to just keep up with the books my library acquires on this one subject, I’d have to read one every other day…on top of the 20 research articles I’d have to be reading every day.

I’m feeling tired already.

My point here is that there is an incredible amount of evidence for evolution, far more than any one person can digest, and that it is a vital field, still growing and still producing new results. All those papers don’t get published unless they contain some new observation, a new experiment, a new test of the idea…and evolution has weathered them all.

Perhaps you aren’t a scientist yourself, and you really don’t want to wade through stacks of technical papers to find out what scientists say about evolution. There’s a shortcut, if you’re willing to accept the authority of professional organizations of scientists. Scientists often group themselves into societies for the purposes of organizing meetings and publications, and they have meetings and committees and elections in which they establish a representative consensus. In light of the politicization of evolutionary biology in the US, many have asked their members about the importance of evolution, and written formal statements summarizing their position on the subject. The NCSE has a list of statements from scientific societies, all in support of evolution. The vast majority of all biologists, people who have extensive training in the subject and use biology day by day, see that evolution is well supported by the evidence and is a solid foundation for research.

It’s not enough to ask people to simply trust scientists’ opinions, of course; we also have to make available to everyone the information used to come to those conclusions. Science is a transparent process, and in addition to the raw data in primary research papers being open to all, many organizations provide digests and summaries to help navigate the immensity of the subject. The
National Center for Science Education, for instance, has an excellent resources page with links to further information, as does the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Academies, and the Society for the Study of Evolution. There are no secrets in this business.

Maybe you’d just like to get a general overview of the concepts of evolution, and don’t really want to invest your whole life trying to get a handle on this huge subject. UC Berkeley has an excellent online tutorial, Understanding Evolution, and in conjunction with their series a few years ago, PBS has an evolution site that introduces you to the basics. For the natural historians among you, the Tree of Life project is a wonderful overview of systematics and the diversity of life on earth. The Talk.Origins Archive isn’t so much a tutorial as a place where you can ask questions and get replies to major criticisms of evolutionary theory. In particular, Douglas Theobald’s evidence for evolution page is indispensable—it’s a thorough overview of the many different lines of evidence that support the theory of evolution. I point all my introductory biology students to it. Another page that everyone ought to bookmark is the Index to Creationist Claims. It contains pithy rebuttals to the most common creationist canards, and it’s very easy to use. Coulter should have referred to it: when I looked at the first paragraph of her evolution chapter, her half dozen claims about evolution were all wrong, and were all answered in the Index. All I had to do was link to that page.

The world of blogs is full of information on evolution. In addition to The Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula, there are quite a few blogs out there that discuss the science of and evidence for evolution, and that are often written by highly qualified scientists themselves. Try browsing Aetiology, Afarensis, All-Too-Common Dissent, Ask The Scientician, The Daily Transcript, De Rerum Natura, Evolgen, Evolution 101, EvolutionBlog, Evolving Thoughts, Good Math, Bad Math, The Intersection, Living the Scientific Life, The Loom, Mike the Mad Biologist, The Questionable Authority, Recursivity, The Scientific Activist, Stranger Fruit, Thoughts from Kansas, and Thoughts in a Haystack, just to get you started. The advantage of weblogs is that you can engage the author and other readers, leaving comments and having a conversation about the subject.

If you don’t trust web sources, there are plenty of books to help you out. I’ve made a long list of evolution books suitable for kids and general readers.

Another effect of the rising sludge of creationist nonsense is that more and more people are getting motivated to become activists for science education. Citizens for Science groups are forming all over the country, and you can find organizations in many states, such as Alabama, Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota (we will soon have a new Minnesota citizen science organization—look for an announcement this fall), Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Follow the link for your state, and sign up: you’ll get announcements and news on the web or in your email, you’ll connect up with local, knowledgeable people, you’ll hear about free seminars and opportunities to meet and talk face to face with biologists.

Any journalists reading this? Go immediately to the Panda’s Thumb media advisors page and copy all of those contacts into your rolodex or PDA. This is a list of people ready and willing to talk to you about evolution and give you the scientific side of the story.

Now look: I’ve been telling you all about how you, with negligible effort, can find buckets of evidence for evolution. I haven’t actually recited any of that evidence yet, and that’s because I and many other biologists have been telling everyone about that evidence for years: there comes a point where you have to recognize that the other side has simply put their hands over their ears and are shouting “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA” at the top of their lungs. If you want evidence from the fossil record, here, go read about Tiktaalik, a fossil tetrapod that was predicted by evolutionary theory. If you prefer some of that laboratory evidence that Coulter says doesn’t exist, here’s a story about selection and evolution of a polyphenism in the laboratory. These are just two of many thousands of published pieces of evidence.

It takes minimal scholarship to discover that there is quite a lot of evidence for evolution. Coulter did not rise to even that level, and worse, she had this tripe vetted by some of the big names of Intelligent Design creationism: Behe, Dembski, and Berlinski. That is shameful. I am at a loss to say in words how abysmally awful this book is.

Like I said, I’m not going to take this trip apart sentence by sentence, even though I could, given enough time and interest. I will suggest instead that if anyone reading this thinks some particular paragraph anywhere in chapters 8-11 is at all competent or accurate in its description of science, send it to me. I couldn’t find one. That’s where the obligation lies: show me one supportable claim in Coulter’s farrago of lies and misleading statements and out-of-context quotes, and we’ll discuss it.

(crossposted to The American Street)

Comments

  1. #1 Sastra
    June 18, 2006

    For all too many members of the general public, “evidence” for evolution means direct evidence, evidence you can actually see happening right before your eyes — and given a cartoonish understanding of evolution, this translates into being able to watch a dog turn into a cat, or a bear into a whale.

    Presumably people like Dembski and even Coulter know better — but they seem to trade on this ignorance by their otherwise puzzling use of phrases like “no evidence whatsoever for evolution.” As you point out, the worst they ought to be able to say is that the evidence doesn’t fit the theory, not that there is “none” at all.

  2. #2 Troutnut
    June 18, 2006

    Sigh… I can feel the value of my Cornell diploma shrinking with every day Ann Coulter remains outside of a coma. 🙁

    It would be really interesting to get inside her head. It would be disgusting, too, but if I can gleefully prod around a fish’s half-digested stomach contents I can probably tolerate this. Is she so ignorant that she believes what she writes? If so, which mental illness does she have? Maybe instead she’s just an unscrupulous businesswoman who’s figured out that there’s a LOT of money in intellectually (and otherwise) whoring herself to the far right. I’ve even wondered if she’s a liberal trying to embarrass the far right, like Stephen Colbert but she’s the only one in on the joke and she’ll write a tell-all from her death bed.

    I wonder what her next book will be called. Perhaps “The moon is too made of cheese!” She will condemn liberals for suggesting that a cow did not jump over it.

  3. #3 Avery
    June 18, 2006

    Why talk about her so much…

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=Ann+Coulter%2C+PZ+Myers&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all

    Her name shows up 11 times in your post (that’s not including the sidebar) Myers shows up twice…and that is including the sidebar.

    She doesn’t care if she’s right or wrong about anything, especially about anything you care about. She’s just happy your talking about her. As soon as everyone stops talking about her she’ll say something else sensational and get a bunch of free press again.

    Someone was complaining to me the other day that ‘Carlin should have torn in to her on Leno…’. The best thing he could do was keep his mouth shut, otherwise the story the next day would have been about the big fight on Leno and she would have another day in the news.

  4. #4 Sexy Sadie
    June 18, 2006

    It’s no surprise that Ann denies the evidence for evolution. She probably also believes that war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

  5. #5 perusio
    June 18, 2006

    Could it be that Coulter is actually saying “there is no evidence of life evolving from matter on its own,” (i.e., abiogenesis) and that she doesn’t know that that’s not the same thing as “evolution”? She’s drawing on (or puppeting) ID people who themselves allow for some forms of evolution, just not abiogenesis. Not to defend her ignorance, but her statements are so senseless that I wonder….

  6. #6 frank schmidt
    June 18, 2006

    Perhaps the only weapon to use against Coulter and her ilk is mockery. What was her grade in Freshman Biology, for example? Or, perhaps we could seek out her opinion on allopatric vs. sympatric speciation? Or simply write a book using her image on the cover, entitled Clueless?

  7. #7 jeff g
    June 18, 2006

    Don’t misunderstand me, I think that Coulter is as crazy as they come. I couldn’t stand reading beyond the first two pages in the evolution chapter.

    I agree that it seems clear that she is simply parroting what some IDers have fed to her. HOWEVER, I think we can give the IDers the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that they do not believe “there is no physical evidence for evolution”, but rather that they believe “there is no physical evidence that evolution is responsible for all the biological design which we see.” If this is what they really believe, then 1) that is what they should be claiming, and 2) the post doesn’t really speak to their actual beliefs all that much.

  8. #8 Mike the Mad Biologist
    June 18, 2006

    PZ,

    thanks for plowing through this idiocy. It saves the rest of us a lot of time.

  9. #9 quork
    June 18, 2006

    I’ve got a whole stack of automatic HubMed searches in my newsreader; how do you think I find all these cool articles?

    I’ll bet sometimes your loyal readers e-mail you tips on current evolution-related stuff.

  10. #10 Ian H Spedding
    June 18, 2006

    I am sure everything PZ wrote is true, but how many of the yahoos who scream their approval of every outrageous remark she makes will ever read any of it, let alone follow up the references?

    Coulter appeals to a kind of inverted snobbery or, rather, she has tapped in to a reservoir of resentment against what are perceived to be elite groups – in this case, academic. In principle, the process is little different to the anti-Jewish hysteria whipped up by the Nazis (Godwin’s Law exemption claim pending). She gives voice to what her target audience feel whenever a scientist uses words of longer than two syllables, that they are being patronised by some snotty, privileged professor.

    Now, I know from personal experience that this is not true; most, if not all scientists, are more than willing to try and explain what they do if asked, although, to be fair, there are some who find it difficult without resorting to the jargon of their discipline. But Coulter trades on the fact that most of those she writes for would not dream of approaching a scientist even if they knew one.

    This is why, as has been said many times before, this is a question of public relations not science. If you want to get to Coulter you really only have two options: you either ignore her or tag her with some sort of catchphrase or snappy one-liner that encapsulates what she is actually doing, ie, exactly what she is accusing others of doing.

    The best I can come up with is something like either to retitle her book as Clueless: How To Make Big Bucks As a Media Whore By Screwing Your Readers or ‘Coulter may not believe in evolution but she certainly knows how to make monkeys out of her readers.’

    Maybe there should be a competition for the best one-liner?

  11. #11 Mike
    June 18, 2006

    I hear alot about how Coulter should just be ignored and I can’t quite agree. I keep thinking of the city of pacifits and the one killer with a knife. While I do think that ridicule is a good tool for persuading those idiots who only read headlines, I’m not brash enough to assume that all those who read Coulter’s (or Savage, or Limbaugh, or O’Reilly etc.) tripe are really that dumb. There are far to many smart people who buy into this because they are ignorant of the facts and swayed by ideology or religion. Not becuase they’re drooling morons. They do run the country by the way. Lets not get too arrogant and forget that we are the minority here. Simply stating that we can’t believe that anyone could be so dumb as to believe this doesn’t change the fact that people do and ignoring them is detrimental to the state of science and the country as a whole. So please ridicule to your hearts content in order to sway the slow, but at the end of the day we need people rebuttling the actual assertions themelves. And not just because some wacko utters them, but because the wacko holds weight and people will follow them. And many of the followers actually buy into the ideas themselves and not just the ridicule that Coulter spews. So to those who say the issue is social I agree. It’s not just a scientific problem, it’s social as well. But if we’re as smart as we like to think we are, then we’ll hit back on both fronts.

  12. #12 CCC
    June 18, 2006

    Coulter may be vile, vicious, hateful and amoral, but she is not stupid.

    Do not believe for a moment that Coulter is actually a creationist. She knows evolution is real. She’s simply pandering.

    Rush Limbaugh deliberate lies, knowing his listeners will gobble it up. This is the hallmark of the “philosophy” of these people, if you can call it that – they hold their own supporters in utter contempt. They have two kinds of supporters – those in on the joke and also profiting from it, and those that they are profiting from – those that the joke is on.

    That’s why I don’t take their anti-liberal crap too much to heart. We aren’t their true victims, they merely see us as competition, and smearing us is just a tactic. The ones they truly have comtempt for are their own followers.

    Ann Coulter isn’t stupid, she just thinks her readers are. It’s a long con.

  13. #13 Stanton
    June 18, 2006

    Short of bludgeoning Miss Coulter with a portrait of Mary Anning to the point where she’d need extensive plastic surgery just to look ugly again, I say we kidnap her, shackle her to a bed, and torture her by making her watch a slideshow describing how Hugo De Vries discovered that Oenothera gigas was a polyploid mutant that arose from a patch of O. lamarckiana that he always visited, complete with chromosomal nitty-gritty.

  14. #14 Mark
    June 18, 2006

    If it is any comfort – she is pretty much a US and Canada only phenomenon. I haven’t met anyone who has heard of her here in the UK. Godless is not even in print. I am just hope it will stay that way.

  15. #15 mythusmage
    June 18, 2006

    Well of course yeti are not UFO pilots. They shed so much you could end up with a clogged ventilation system in less than a day. And yeti sex is … vigorous. Every time a ship transports a couple, the crew has to take it into the shop afterwards in order to repair stress fatigue damage.

  16. #16 udargo
    June 18, 2006

    I never, ever thought this would happen, but the more I read the various sincere responses by intelligent people to Coulter’s silly provocations, the more I find myself starting to admire her. It is absolutely amazing what this woman is capable of. With minimal effort (it sounds like she could have written her book over a weekend, for all the serious thought and research that apparently went into it) she has made herself the center of the universe.

    I’m catching the Coulter fever. You know, it even makes her seem kind of weirdly attractive somehow, and I hadn’t thought that possible. I’ve always been stimulated by powerful women and the games they play, and is there any woman in America today more powerful? I have to admit, it’s kind of a turn on.

  17. #17 Steve LaBonne
    June 18, 2006

    Please, udargo, seek professional help before it’s too late. 😉

  18. #18 quork
    June 18, 2006

    Mark Jabo weighs in with evidence for evolution:


    Comparing the two sides of this debate seems to favor evolutionary theory…
    .
    First off, Charles Darwin had a beard; a good thing when you want to be taken seriously as a scientist.
    .
    And Darwin’s beard wasn’t some scruffy beard like your grandmother has. Darwin’s bushy beard spoke to his stature as a scientist. It was as if he were saying, “If I wasn’t an expert in my field, I couldn’t walk around looking like the lead singer of ZZ Top, could I?”

  19. #19 Mike
    June 18, 2006

    I used to believe that all the right-wing pundits who said what I thought to be outrageous nonsense had to be in on a con. They couldn’t actually believe all this I thought. But then I found the only reason I had for holding that belief, is that I couldn’t understand how they thought it was right. It’s like the argument from ignorance. I just couldn’t understand it so it can’t be true. But I never considered how they might see it. Coulter and her ilk don’t think they’re vile or amoral. (they’re christian. they own the morals) Much like Iago in Othello never sees himself as the villian. He’s a wronged man who believes his deciet is justified. And while I hesitate to speak on Coulters actual intelligence level, I can say that just because she’s smart and what she says looks absurd to us, doesn’t mean she doesn’t believe it fully. Nor do I think Limbaugh believes he’s deliberatly lying. Much like Bush sees the repealing of our rights as good for us. It’s not unconstitutional, it’s for the safety of the american people. It’s not hard to convince oneself of thngs like this. people do it all the time in regards to the “mysteries” of religion. On top of this, I highly doubt that Coulter et al hold their supporters in contempt. They more likely see their supports as their righteous army. Not do I think she does all this for a buck. Just stop and think how many liberal hating neo-conservatives are out there. How many of them wouldn’t love to have the chance to rip liberals on the national stage and then find that so many people hate liberals just like they do. Hearing all that support might even encourage you to be even more extreem next time. Then to get paid for it!? Well that’s just icing. Really nice icing, but nevertheless icing. If some of her statements sound extreemly over the top, attribute it to the fact that she’s given a soap box and she feels emboldened by it. She may at times have a fleeting moment where she thinks she’s being over the top but I’m sure the more she twists it around in her mind, the more america hating liberals begin to look to her. Then the more of a duty she has to rip them. Add to this that she probably enjoys it because she gets to rip them on tv, so she’ll add some extra gusto. This is just human nature here. And it makes alot more sense than believing that there is this cabal of mustache twisting evil conservatives out there who actually believe they’re evil. (Which is by coincidence, just what WE think. Hmm) This also makes their threat more real. They didn’t get into politics for the money. It may keep them there and maybe make them more extreem, but it isn’t the main reason. They believe theeir agenda and want more people to think likewise, so that they can see the country in their image. The more we blow them off, the easier it is for them. While the problem of how to deal with them is more complicated, there shouldn’t be any question as to if we should. The attack is real and there’s no reason to believe the attackers don’t believe their rhetoric.

  20. #20 Mike
    June 18, 2006

    The more I read about the silly things Bush wants to do to the bill of rights, the more I admire him. Take away my 4th amendment right? Hahaha lol. He’s just silly guys, lets talk about something else. Like how smart I am.

  21. #21 udargo
    June 18, 2006

    Please, udargo, seek professional help before it’s too late. 😉

    Professional help, Steve? Or MORE COWBELL?

    I used to think she was the Jerry Springer of politics, but I’m starting to realize she’s the Andy Kaufman of politics. This has gone beyond the surreal. This is pure, chimp-tripping goodness.

    I’ve got to come clean. I’m in love with Ann Coulter.

  22. #22 Steve LaBonne
    June 18, 2006

    Oh my FSM, it IS too late. [shakes head sadly]

  23. #23 Pierce R. Butler
    June 18, 2006

    PZ: thanks for an excellent compendium of data sources – this one’s a keeper!

    Didn’t William Dembski state on his salute to Coulter’s latest screed that not only had he “advised” her on the anti-evolutionary portions, but that any errors in it considered his responsibility alone?

    What an amazing millstone to have hung around his own neck.

    Perhaps he thinks his fearless friend will somehow defend him from spending the rest of his life with a reputation as the Baghdad Bob of Biology?

  24. #24 udargo
    June 18, 2006

    The attack is real and there’s no reason to believe the attackers don’t believe their rhetoric.

    Mike, I’ve no doubt Coulter is a conservative woman. But her schtick has nothing to do with politics.

    When I was in high school, there was this brainy kid who had this thing about nuclear energy. He was convinced it was a really bad way to meet energy needs for various reasons he could elaborate upon at length. He was very sincere and strangely passionate about it. Which made him a primo target.

    I was always one of the cool smart kids, as opposed to the geeky smart kids. The difference, I always knew, was that being cool meant you never let anything get you too worked up. It was dangerous to be smart in high school if your only goal in life was to have sex with cheerleaders, so you had to be careful. You never took anything too seriously. As soon as you started doing that, you became a geek. To be a cool kid you just had to stay cool.

    And make fun of kids who couldn’t. You had to draw the line and show everybody which side you were on.

    So Atomic Boy was an effective tool for establishing our cool credentials. Those of us who wanted to be cool would engage him in arguments about nuclear energy, in which we made deliberately stupid, dishonest arguments designed to provoke him, so everybody could watch him lose his cool while we maintained ours behind a smug smile. I remember reading a book on nuclear energy just for the purpose of constructing some arguments sure to upset him. I didn’t give a shit about nuclear energy. Nobody in high school did but Atomic Boy. We all knew he knew more than us about it and we all assumed he was probably right in what he was arguing. But that was beside the point. The point was to entertain and flatter ourselves and our fellows by methodically provoking him. And he never had a clue. The little fool would fall for it every time. For whatever reason, he cared about nuclear energy as a political and environmental issue, and he never realized that none of us did and that none of our conversations were really about nuclear energy. We just liked watching him get worked up about it. It proved we were superior to him and smarter than him in our minds and presumably in the minds of cheerleaders.

    And this is what Ann Coulter does for a living. She rips you out of your adult environment, extracts you from whatever context of accomplishment and credentials you might have built, and takes you back to high school where she mocks you relentlessly while her fellows laugh heartily at your cluelessness. And the more you construct elaborate, carefully reasoned, eminently logical arguments in response to her provocations, the more comical you become.

    And she has the power, apparently, to do this to almost anybody. Admit it, she’s amazing.

    I’ll bet she was a cheerleader.

  25. #25 Pierce R. Butler
    June 18, 2006

    Aha: here’s the money quote, from http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/1071:

    April 26, 2006 … I’m happy to report that I was in constant correspondence with Ann regarding her chapters on Darwinism — indeed, I take all responsibility for any errors in those chapters. 🙂

    Does that smileyface constitute a disclaimer?

  26. #26 Graculus
    June 18, 2006

    Ann Coulter: Lizardoid alien freak, or just one of their minions? Discuss.

    (IMO the only way to deal with these people is with merciless mockery, rude derision, and rotten fruit.)

  27. #27 SkookumPlanet
    June 18, 2006

    PZ
    For the poorly-informed, science-phobic, time-starved, average American, without a dog in the Evo/ID fight, this is an excellent introduction to the state of evolutionary science and why the attack on it is malarkey. Good job and good approach!

    I’ve always thought sheer quantity of research was a profitable lever for moving these minds, because the public hasn’t any sense of the amount. Those figures are bound to be impressive, easily remembered, and, once in minds, to belie the false-witness of creationists who insist the tide is turning in their favor. Without a way to conceptualize how much is known and how it’s known, it’s hard for average American to know there is no tide to turn, just one giant ocean of data all for one side. It can also provide, for people who will never attempt to comprehend the science, a means to defend the science. [I hope that’s clear.] You’d make an excellent teacher.

    As you mentioned your figures are very rough thumbnails. Perhaps if a good quantitative summary exists of the amount of research and numbers of researchers, current and over time, someone might point the way to them in the comments here. It’s the type of information than can be turned into effective psychomarketing memes.

    And a note tangential to this and other posts on her new book, with regards to discussions how to counter this type of crap from right-wing media mouthpieces. I’ve yet to see the most obvious vulnerability of these types mentioned at all — their relationship with their audience. Guaranteed there are ideas/memes/stories that would quickly alienate these audiences. Not true ones, mind you, but obviously in this arena truth carries little weight. The nature of such myths could be determined by an insightful, professional psycho-socio analysis of the audiences themselves. Without an audience, they are nothing [except, by now, wealthy].

    So to ignoring her, ridiculing her, and rebutting her, we need to add science-based, Machiavellian, covert personal destruction by political operatives. Just to throw that into the discussion.

    P.S. A second note on many other comments here and on many other postings. Coulter is not ignorant nor mentally ill nor misguided nor lazy nor delusional, etc., etc. She’s a very bright and competent person and fully understands she’s a dishonest hack. Most, perhaps all, of the far right’s leadership understands this about themselves. I remain perplexed by those who continue to question this. It’s no different than parents having to, on occasion, perpetrate small falsehoods on their young children. The radical right sees themselves as parents and everyone else as children. That’s how they rationalize what they do day in and day out — producing one giant, ongoing “farrago of lies” as PZ said, which I had to look up.

    Put more directly, Coulter and her ilk are professional liars.

  28. #28 Sexy Sadie
    June 18, 2006

    The vitriol that pours from people such as Coulter indicates to me imbalance. Whether or not Ann believes half of what she says isn’t the issue. In fact, I don’t even think politics is the issue. I think the issue is one of mental/emotional health.

  29. #29 marcbuhler
    June 18, 2006

    Well, I may not have cable TV at the moment to watch Fox and Friends on, but that
    hasn’t stopped me from sending a link to your article to their medical guy “Dr. Danny”
    Alvarez asking that he pass your challenge on to others there. If the various “friends”
    and hosts there at Fox can be given some insight into just how stupid Coulter’s book is,
    it might go some way to getting honest comments about it into the media there.
    That is her home away from home, right? So it’s a good place to start my efforts in
    finding someone to accept your challenge – or at least to have Ms. Coulter answer to
    them about why her understanding of biology is all wrong.
    (signed) marc

  30. #30 Mike
    June 18, 2006

    Undargo, I and everyone else who posts here is aware of Coulters tactics. All you’ve done is restate the problem in terms of you ridiculing some kid in highschool. And while Coulter may also be prodding you to get you to slip, it doesn’t mean she isn’t out to win. Thankfully you and your friends didn’t control all three branches of government. But Ann’s friends DO. And this is not highschool.
    The book by the way is a BESTSELLER. Millions of books don’t buy themselves. People read, are persuaded and act accordingly. To then see this and not respond only allows it to continue.
    Furthermore, you offer no answer as to how to deal with this other than saying Coulter wins and that’s just the way it is. ack up your text books boys were going home. This doesn’t make sense.
    Nor does it apparently make sense to PZ, and the Panda’s Thumb.
    While I wouldn’t suggest anyone go on tv with her, I wholeheartedly support the destruction of her ideas because millions of americans share them. I’m not here to show Coulter the light either. I’m here to show her audience, who votes in policy that affects science, why she’s wrong. And to simply sit back and laugh at all the stupid people, isn’t going to get us anywhere. Do something. Or all that intelligence I’m sure you have is wasted.

    In the end this may not effect your opinion. But if some of us choose to answer the nonsense that is running rampant, either help out or be quiet. And good luck to all of you who try to stem the non-thinking.

  31. #31 Geoffrey Brent
    June 18, 2006

    Pondering something, maybe a biologist can help me here: could devil facial tumour disease be considered an example of speciation?

    For those unfamiliar with it, DFTD is an infectious disease that spreads between Tasmanian Devils by biting, sharing food, or mating. Colonies of the infectious agent (made up of cells descended from those that infected previous animals) grow on the animal’s face to the point where it starves to death because it can no longer eat; it’s a very serious threat to the devil population.

    The catch is that the infectious agent is a contagious cancer. Not in the same way as cervical cancer, where a communicable agent causes cancer; in DFTD, the cancer cells themselves are the infectious agent. An infected devil’s tumour cells are descended not from its own healthy cells, but from another animal’s tumour cells (researchers found a devil whose native cells had a chromosomal abnormality that was not present in its tumour cells).

    This probably isn’t a rhetorically useful example of speciation, since the idea of a mammal ‘degenerating’ into a disease probably won’t convince creationists that creatures can become ‘more evolved’, but it’s an interesting example of just how far a life-form can change by a single mutation and still remain viable (at least, until it runs out of hosts).

  32. #32 thwaite
    June 18, 2006

    So Coulter (like many) doesn’t see evolution before her eyes – well, it is actually a population phenomenon after all, so for evidence one turns to surveys such as John Endler’s NATURAL SELECTION IN THE WILD.

    But this is a fundamentally statistical view. And it’s the conservatives who have rejected the importance of population-level surveys – in social sciences generally and notoriously even in exit polls. It takes a wise person to see significance – and/or natural selection – in statistics. Most everyone else understands and relies on story-telling.

  33. #33 Ann Homily
    June 18, 2006

    “I’ll bet she was a cheerleader. ”

    …”Was”? She still is.

    http://purplekoolaid.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/11/unpatriotic_and.html

    Actually, it’s a pretty good metaphor, since the American political environment has devolved into something resembling a high school football game. …Or perhaps the American public itself. …Sadly, the educated intellectual will more often than not be seen as the nerd, forever uncool in our increasingly fast-paced, entertainment-driven society. Time to consult a makeover specialist?

    Another analogy might be that she is akin to an internet troll. I have a few things to say about that in my own blog; I’ll post the link when I add the entry.

  34. #34 Ann Homily
    June 18, 2006

    “I’ll bet she was a cheerleader. ”

    …”Was”? She still is.

    http://purplekoolaid.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/11/unpatriotic_and.html

    Actually, it’s a pretty good metaphor, since the American political environment has devolved into something resembling a high school football game. …Or perhaps the American public itself. …Sadly, the educated intellectual will more often than not be seen as the nerd, forever uncool in our increasingly fast-paced, entertainment-driven society. Time to consult a makeover specialist?

    Another analogy might be that she is akin to an internet troll. I have a few things to say about that in my own blog; I’ll post the link when I add the entry.

  35. #35 Ann Homily
    June 18, 2006

    (P.S. Sorry about the browser hiccup.)

  36. #36 Kristine
    June 19, 2006

    After reading that Guardian interview with her, I am convinced that Ann Coulter believes every dingle-ass thing that she says in that waste of molecules that she calls a book. She is stupid, CCC–she is highly intelligent and stupid at the same time. She really doesn’t believe in evolution–she’s a creationist who swallows every little spider that Dembski feeds her. (Small wonder he’s so amused by the Coulter phenom.) She’s a flipping lunatic, and like our George W. Bushie, she’s a puppet of flipping lunatics.

  37. #37 udargo
    June 19, 2006

    Furthermore, you offer no answer as to how to deal with this other than saying Coulter wins and that’s just the way it is. ack up your text books boys were going home. This doesn’t make sense.

    Mike, my point is that Coulter wins when you work to advance her agenda, and that arguing with her does just that. You keep acting like her agenda is to win some argument, which is demonstrably nonsense. Her agenda is to promote Ann Coulter.

    I can understand someone like Dr. Myers conflating Coulter with the kind of people he often argues with for good reason. He’s demonstrated repeatedly that people like William Dembski and Michael Behe employ foolish and dishonest arguments, so Coulter’s approach probably seems like more of the same. Now Coulter has written a book about things like godlessness and evolution, and she’s apparently used Dembski as a source… how could he resist responding to her? If nothing else, I’m sure he’s having a good time.

    But there’s a cost. And the cost is that this blog, like many other liberal forums on the internet, has become a tool to advance Coulter’s agenda. Dr. Myers – whatever else he’s accomplishing in terms of entertaining himself or his readers – has been working very hard for Ann Coulter all day, free of charge. He’s joined her army of publicists, eagerly advancing her only agenda.

    Dembski and Behe are men working to advance a very specific public policy agenda. They can advance this agenda by winning arguments. Their failure to win the argument in Dover, PA last year was a serious and very real setback for them and their agenda. It makes sense to challenge the arguments these people make.

    Coulter’s only agenda is promoting Ann Coulter. There is nothing else she’s ever accomplished or ever will. She does not need to win arguments to advance this agenda, she only needs to be the focus of attention.

    Every post in every liberal blog dealing with Ann Coulter is a win for Ann Coulter. When you argue with her, you’re not fighting her, you’re fueling her. And the side effect of your support for her agenda is the debasement of public discourse by conflating it with contemporary trends in caustic, mean-spirited entertainment. That’s the real cost of all the fun we’re having.

  38. #38 Mike
    June 19, 2006

    I believe our main point of opposition is the motives of Ann Coulter. My take is that when we simplify her into nothing more than a media whore who lives off of our dissent then we miss the real damage she can do. While I do admire that you are solid in your views I can’t agree with them. I believe you assume too much about her motives and wants without any real evidence outside your own opinions. I simply feel that no matter what her motives she’s still dangerous if left unchecked and her self serving manner doesn’t stop people from reading and agreeing with her. People of her type, while they may love to hear the opposition squeal, also love the cheers of their followers. Every person that rallies in support of Coulter and her ilk, fuel her just as much if not more than our opposition does. We’re giving ourselves too much credit if we believe that she wants only to fight with us. She just wants to win. And if we simply roll over than she can just yell all the louder “See? They can’t even deal with me anymore!” This enlarges her fame just as much. For example, Limbaugh is still kicking and he hasn’t been a topic on this page ever. He energizes his base. And his base fuels him. Coulter does the same. If we let it go unchecked then we allow it to grow. And it has grown. Whether you think she’s crazy, or money hungry, or self absorbed, she still influences large masses of people. And she influences politics because her influential ravings are about poilitics. And we live by our laws. And her followers vote.
    I would never encourage anyone to get into a spitting match with her, or to answer in emotional anger no matter how angry they must be. But answer we must. Her fans won’t let her go away.

  39. #39 George
    June 19, 2006

    All the knowledge in the books and papers and websites cited by PZ is a thing of BEAUTY and a testament to the ingenuity, creativity, and intelligence of generations of scientists. All that knowledge, and Ann manages to create an incurious and truly insignificant book that slimes people and ideas she does not like or even understand because her behavior is dictated by a mean-spirited, ruthless, black-and-white political outlook that does nothing but breed ignorance and intolerance.

  40. #40 udargo
    June 19, 2006

    Coulter has her fans, but it isn’t her arguments they support, it’s her perceived effect on liberals. I’m totally semi-serious when I say I’m starting to understand this better and beginning to experience admiration for her. She’s proving that she can grab liberal America by the balls and lead us around wherever she wants us to go. At least for a little while. You’ve got to respect that.

    What proof do I have with regard to my assessment of her motives? Her own “arguments,” which are clearly not arguments at all but simply adolescent taunts.

    I know neither of us is going to convert the other here, but just think about this one quote from her book concerning the 9/11 widows:

    By the way, how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies?

    Now think about Coulter penning these words. Coulter’s not a 12-year-old. She’s college educated and has a degree in law. Do you really think she believes this is valid speculation, much less a cogent argument? Do you really think anybody who takes politics seriously, no matter their faction, will see this as valid speculation or a cogent argument? Can there be any doubt these words were carefully tailored for the one purpose at which they succeed: being as offensive as possible? Can there be any doubt Coulter wrote these words precisely because she knew they were intensely stupid, petty, hateful and provocative?

    If you see that, and then extrapolate from that to arrive at her motives, I think you have to come to the same assessment I have.

    But you won’t, I know. I’ve already made my best arguments, here and elsewhere, and I’m obviously not influencing anybody. So I guess I ride it out and dread the release of her next book, PEDERASTY: WHAT LIBERALS WANT WITH YOUR KIDS.

  41. #41 Dan
    June 19, 2006

    udargo, not only have you hit the nail on the head, but Coulter has explicitly stated that this is exactly what she’s doing.

    But this is about much, much more than just her. We need to understand that we’re experiencing the slow birth of a fascist government. Coulter is just Goebbels. We really need to worry about Heydrich and Eichmann.

  42. #42 Keith Douglas
    June 19, 2006

    perusio: Of course, that would be false too, since there is evidence in favour of abiogenesis as well.

    I for one don’t care if she believes the crap or not. I do care if others use it to enact policy or otherwise take action. Bad ideas do have consequences, and so making sure they are challenged is important. Is it necessary to refute them as PZ does? Yes, I think so. Is it sufficient? Probably not, as many have already noted followers do not respond to evidence and reason. But the importance is with the fence sitters or the ‘should I say anything? it seems so odd, but my [father|cousin|sister|coworker …] seems to want to act on it’ crowd …

    As for the vast numbers of papers and books on evolution as an argument: I have several comments. One is that PZ is of course correct. There is a lot of evidence in favour of evolution, too much to read in one life. Two, though, is that this is not going to be taken as such by the ignorant. After all, it is at least not self contradictory to suppose that all those books and papers rehashes or even makes its claims up. That is why to make use of the stacks of writings as an argument one also has to include some fragments of their content – I am not saying PZ hasn’t done this, but it is important not to slide too easily into merely gesturing at the stacks. After all, there are hundreds of works of theology, racism, what passes for parts of the science of economics and other unsupported crap that fill shelves too.

  43. #43 Torbjörn Larsson
    June 19, 2006

    Geoffrey says:

    “[devil facial tumour disease] probably isn’t a rhetorically useful example of speciation, since the idea of a mammal ‘degenerating’ into a disease probably won’t convince creationists that creatures can become ‘more evolved’, but it’s an interesting example”

    For some reason I hadn’t thought of it as an example of speciation, but of course it looks like it. Thank you!

  44. #44 jujuquisp
    June 19, 2006

    udargo needs to get a blow-up doll and tape a picture of Coulter’s head to it. Hopefully then his hormonal rage will subside.

  45. #45 Monado
    June 19, 2006

    That’s like saying, “There’s no evidence for the automobile. And when you look at the medical evidence for evolution of disease-causing organisms, it’s like saying “There’s no evidence for the automobile” while standing on an expressway. “

  46. #46 Monado
    June 19, 2006

    That’s like saying, “There’s no evidence for the automobile.” And when you look at the medical evidence for evolution of disease-causing organisms, it’s like saying “There’s no evidence for the automobile” while standing on an expressway. “

  47. #47 BigDaddy
    June 19, 2006

    This is FREAKING hilarious.

    Ann Coulter writes: “there is no evidence for evolution” and you geniuses waste a whole page full of otherwise very useful bits and bytes and, reading through all your screeds, you prove her right.

    Just provide ONE piece of evidence that PROVES evolution.

    Just one…

    Big Daddy

    Ps Don’t refer me to some other website, or tell me to read some other person’s book. Just GIVE ME SOME PROOF.
    Your silence makes her argument all the more compelling…

  48. #48 PaulC
    June 19, 2006

    I think we ought to take advantage of the role of Dembski, Behe, and Berlinski as enablers, because this seems to offer the most opportunity for changing public perception. Here’s my reasoning.

    First, there’s not a big win in showing Coulter’s latest opus to be as chock full of lies as every other one. It’s something you have to do, like cleaning the graffiti off your windows, but I’m not sure if it’ll help much. The gangs will keep marking “their” territory and Coulter will keep spreading her hate just like clockwork.

    But take somebody like Behe. He’s wrong about nearly everything, but he projects an amiable public facade. I’d like to know if he endorses Coulter’s work, given that he supposedly served as advisor (actually, did he or was it just Dembski?). No matter which way he answers, it’s useful. If he disavows Coulter and claims he was misrepresented, then we have a supposedly staid conservative voice agreeing that Coulter is a demagogue. If he refuses to disavow Coulter, then everything Coulter has written can be labeled “endorsed by Behe”; we can pick the worst howlers and note under each that Behe agrees with it.

    Behe has his name attached directly to enough foolishness that you might not think it would matter, but I’m assuming (based on her track record) that Coulter’s interpretation is a couple of notches worse, and seething with hate. So–at least hypothetically–either IDers can be made to serve the useful role of conservatives against Coulter, or Coulter can be made into an albatross around the neck of IDers.

    I suppose I’m too optimistic. People can refuse to answer or else wriggle out any number of ways. I mentioned Behe only because Dembski (who can rationalize an embarrassing goof or blatant lie as “street theater”) is almost a kindred spirit of Coulter already. I think Behe might at least be a little conflicted about it.

  49. #49 slpage
    June 19, 2006

    Sure, ‘BigDaddy’ –

    The pattern of synapomorphic mutations in the DNA of Primates.

    By the way PZ – Bill “the Fred Phelps of Information Theory” Dembski has gotten his panties all in a bunch about this post re: Coulter….

  50. #50 richCares
    June 19, 2006

    slpage, you probably went over BigDaddy’s head. Try this, my heart contains 2 pig valves, aortic & mitral. A pig saved my life. Theory of evolution made this possible.
    I am really glad someone believes in evolution.

  51. #51 thwaite
    June 19, 2006

    Well “BigDaddy” (aka BigTroll?):

    Proof? What could suffice? This isn’t mathematics, and the enormity of the living world isn’t going to be persuasively pinned by a few paragraphs. Darwin was considerate enough to give several hundred pages of closely reasoned and copiously documented (with examples) argument (and he called this the “abstract” of his total argument).

    A few messages up-thread I mentioned John Endler’s book 1986 NATURAL SELECTION IN THE WILD which even then could list about 100 examples in its survey. (Such examples are expensive and tedious to study well enough for credibility!) Below I describe a particularly persuasive class of examples.

    There aren’t hopeful monsters, which is what I’ll guess you’re hoping for (or not). The process of divergence into new species happens to populations, not to individuals.

    Since divergence of populations mostly happens over generations, we don’t often observe it directly. But in some cases it happens over space as well as over time, and these can leave the original non-diverged forms visible – this seems particularly persuasive. These are called “ring species”. This wikipedia article cites a classic study of gulls but the most reliable and detailed example it cites is David Wake’s research on Ensatina salamanders. Starting in Oregon ( (and still present there), this growing population has migrated into southern California by two paths, the coast route and the Sierra foothills. These varying ecologies have changed the two groups of migrants. They’ve diverged so much that on overlapping again near Los Angeles, the two migrant groups are no longer able to interbreed – and that’s the criterion for saying new species have formed. Even though in this case, each southern population (coastal & foothill) is very similar to (and breeds with) its immediately northern neighbor and so on all the way back to the original population in Oregon, the southern-most populations are new species, having definitively diverged due to adaptations to their differing ecologies.

  52. #52 thwaite
    June 19, 2006

    Well “BigDaddy” (aka BigTroll?):

    Proof? What could suffice? This isn’t mathematics, and the enormity of the living world isn’t going to be persuasively pinned by a few paragraphs. Darwin was considerate enough to give several hundred pages of closely reasoned and copiously documented (with examples) argument (and he called this the “abstract” of his total argument).

    A few messages up-thread I mentioned John Endler’s book 1986 NATURAL SELECTION IN THE WILD which even then could list about 100 examples in its survey. (Such examples are expensive and tedious to study well enough for credibility!) Below I describe a particularly persuasive class of examples.

    There aren’t hopeful monsters, which is what I’ll guess you’re hoping for (or not). The process of divergence into new species happens to populations, not to individuals.

    Since divergence of populations mostly happens over generations, we don’t often observe it directly. But in some cases it happens over space as well as over time, and these can leave the original non-diverged forms visible – this seems particularly persuasive. These are called “ring species”:
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species. This wikipedia article cites a classic study of gulls but the most reliable and detailed example it cites is David Wake’s research on Ensatina salamanders. Starting in Oregon ( (and still present there), this growing population has migrated into southern California by two paths, the coast route and the Sierra foothills. These varying ecologies have changed the two groups of migrants. They’ve diverged so much that on overlapping again near Los Angeles, the two migrant groups are no longer able to interbreed – and that’s the criterion for saying new species have formed. Even though in this case, each southern population (coastal & foothill) is very similar to (and breeds with) its immediately northern neighbor and so on all the way back to the original population in Oregon, the southern-most populations are new species, having definitively diverged due to adaptations to their differing ecologies.
    Salamander summary: http://www.santarosa.edu/lifesciences2/ensatina2.htm

  53. #53 thwaite
    June 19, 2006

    Well “BigDaddy” (aka BigTroll?):

    Proof? What could suffice? This isn’t mathematics, and the enormity of the living world isn’t going to be persuasively pinned by a few paragraphs. Darwin was considerate enough to give several hundred pages of closely reasoned and copiously documented (with examples) argument (and he called this the “abstract” of his total argument).

    A few messages up-thread I mentioned John Endler’s book 1986 NATURAL SELECTION IN THE WILD which even then could list about 100 examples in its survey. (Such examples are expensive and tedious to study well enough for credibility!) Below I describe a particularly persuasive class of examples.

    There aren’t “hopeful monsters” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopeful_Monster) which is what I’ll guess you’re hoping for (or not). The process of divergence into new species happens to populations, not to individuals.

    Since divergence of populations mostly happens over generations, we don’t often observe it directly. But in some cases it happens over space as well as over time, and these can leave the original non-diverged forms visible – this seems particularly persuasive. These are called “ring species”:
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species. This wikipedia article cites a classic study of gulls but the most reliable and detailed example it cites is David Wake’s research on Ensatina salamanders. Starting in Oregon ( (and still present there), this growing population has migrated into southern California by two paths, the coast route and the Sierra foothills. These varying ecologies have changed the two groups of migrants. They’ve diverged so much that on overlapping again near Los Angeles, the two migrant groups are no longer able to interbreed – and that’s the criterion for saying new species have formed. Even though in this case, each southern population (coastal & foothill) is very similar to (and breeds with) its immediately northern neighbor and so on all the way back to the original population in Oregon, the southern-most populations are new species, having definitively diverged due to adaptations to their differing ecologies.
    Salamander summary: http://www.santarosa.edu/lifesciences2/ensatina2.htm

  54. #54 SkookumPlanet
    June 19, 2006

    late addition — thwaite, nice. I’ve seen a press report on a study of a bird species that migrated around both sides of the Tibetan plateau, south to north, as India slammed into Asia. Researchers sampled DNA throughout the bird’s circumtibetan habitat and it showed an incremental shift northward, until, voila, the two prongs met north of Tibet and could not breed.
    .
    .
    MizCee isn’t Goebbels — whomever that is/will be is a behind-the-scenes player, more like Murdoch. She’s just a hack.

    No one cares if MizCee is linked to Badski, HeeHee, and Dumpster. No one knows who they are.

    BigDaddy. Read it again, BigBoy. This isn’t a post discussing the evidence for evolution. Get your moronic, lazy ass off to one of the many links PZ provides above where people talk about that topic. You’re wasting alphanumerics here. Duh.

    Numbers of papers and researchers would only be part of any argumentation. There must be several hundred thousand peer-reviewed papers dealing with evolution, so along with that figure one would spend several minutes evoking the process of writing-reviewing-publishing such material. The public is ignorant about this.

    Great comparison between the beauty of scientific endeavor and the ugliness of MizCee, but the “mean-spirited, ruthless, black-and-white political outlook that does nothing but breed ignorance and intolerance.” left out the most important thing it breeds — POWER — the reason they do it.

    Everyone who advocates pressure/complaint/boycott/threat, etc., being brought to bear on media outlets is living in a world that disappeared three decades ago. Media outlets crave, and need, controversy like she brings. If they thought it was doable, they’d be happy to pay MizCee to appear on their broadcasts.

    udargo is basically correct, liberal outrage at her is a tool to advance MizCee’s agenda. No doubt. Do a SciBlog search on her name. She’s leveraging pre-existing systems just like terrorists do, i.e. using box cutters to morph the airline industry into a weapon and, for a few days, ground it. PEDERASTY was already in my mind [see below], but not coming from her. But why not? Only it will be entitled Pervert: Why Liberals’ Want Your Kids. The book after that? How about, Prison: Rehabilitating Liberals and Should They Be Let Back Out. And after that, Lynch’em: Liberals….
    .
    .
    Now, if one wanted to fundamentally neutralize the negative effects of MizCee, here’s an impromptu sketch, an illustration, of how these things get done. [It’s not an actual suggestion.]

    1) Manufacture an audio tape of her egregious slurs on the gullibility, stupidity, and masculinity of her fans. Have her go after her fans favorite other rightwing mouthpieces that shows her dishing [false] humiliating dirt on them big time. This will quickly unenamor audiences and mouthpieces with her.

    Not just a tape. Individual projects work synergistically with others as part of a larger disinformation campaign [see President Clinton, Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Impeachment…]

    2) So one also needs to find some actors and put together a story about her serial pedophilia, with girls, and the horrendous emotional scars she’s producing in others by forcing everyone to be quiet about it.

    3) Create many equivalents of this anecdote about MizCee from Jason last week. Only rather than complimentary, turn her into a primadonna with a stereotypical celebrity’s disrespectfulness to the powerless and those who serve her. Use the same attitude and phraseology she exhibits in books and on screen, but directing it to any and everybody she can bully.

    4) Get some of this mythology covered as stories in supermarket tabloids. Venue placement alone helps rebrand MizCee from political pundit to tawdry, unclean, spoiled, rich celebrity. You know, a secret follower of “Hollywood Values.” A hypocrite.

    5) Pay a playa to compose a rap song about all of the above then get it distributed around the net and on the streets. All covertly, of course. Covering her pedophilia etc., in explicit lyrics. Put in the lyrics a guy who finds her young girls, call him “pedopimp”.

    The more she struggles against this, the worse she looks. Nobody, ever takes credit for this. A successful campaign never goes on a resume of CV.

    In a phrase, you cut her balls off.

    Revolting, huh? This is what the other side would do, the nature of their struggle. It obviously takes organization and money to carry off. They’re playing for all the marbles, permanently, keepers, and will do whatever they think they can get away with. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

  55. #55 Mike
    June 19, 2006

    In the end I have to agree with keith. One who influences others and encourages them to go out and convert the fence sitters to utter nonsense is a danger and must be met. With both a rebuttal of the arguments set forth that the fence sitters will undoubtably hear, and then with a fuller explanation of the evidence for evolution as a whole. After that, move on to the entrenced believers. Peoples behavior is controlled mainly by their attitude toward a certain subject. To stay silent offers one no strong positive reason to change their attitude towards an acceptance of science and naturalistic evolution, while our opposition is going all out to do so and can just as easily use our silence as a scape goat. Might as well stand up and prove them wrong. We have to speak up or one day we may look at the appaling numbers of those who accept science as golden era compared to where it’s headed now. Speak up. The articulate should never sit back quietly and watch.

  56. #56 thwaite
    June 19, 2006

    Skookum’s “circumtibetan” – heh, such a neologism.

    Those birds would be the “greenish warbler”, Phylloscopus trochiloides, whose speciation is described with great graphics & details here:
    http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~irwin/GreenishWarblers.html
    It got the BBC interested:
    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1123973.stm
    — too bad we no longer can also count on parsons imbued with the theological potential of Natural Theology (sensu Richard Hooker 1594) to seek out and document such specifics of Natural History. Nowadays the Christian theologians seem to see a focus on the natural world as tending to paganism. Meanwhile the world keeps spinning and the species keep propagating…

    There’s a similar ring-species divergence found in mice following the path of human farms out of the middle east into Europe at the beginning of the historical era. As the settlements proceeded northwest they were split by the Alps – and on again meeting in the Low Countries the divergent populations no longer interbred.

    And PBS has a link on the Ensatina salamanders with an excellent map including their color morphs:
    pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/05/2/l_052_05.html

  57. #57 thwaite
    June 19, 2006

    Skookum’s “circumtibetan” – heh, such a neologism.

    Those birds would be the “greenish warbler”, Phylloscopus trochiloides, whose speciation is described with great graphics & details here:
    http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~irwin/GreenishWarblers.html
    It got the BBC interested:
    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1123973.stm
    — too bad we no longer can also count on parsons imbued with the theological potential of Natural Theology (sensu Richard Hooker 1594) to seek out and document such specifics of Natural History. Nowadays the Christian theologians seem to see a focus on the natural world as tending to paganism. Meanwhile the world keeps spinning and the species keep propagating…

    There’s a similar ring-species divergence found in mice following the path of human farms out of the middle east into Europe at the beginning of the historical era. As the settlements proceeded northwest they were split by the Alps – and on again meeting in the Low Countries the divergent populations no longer interbred.

    And PBS has a link on the Ensatina salamanders with an excellent map including their color morphs:
    pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/05/2/l_052_05.html

  58. #58 numerophile
    June 19, 2006

    Just so you know, PZ, not everyone has their hands over their ears. Despite my being a two-time attendee of Bill Jack’s Worldview Academy, product of a creationist high-school education using books like A Beka’s “Biology: God’s Living Creation”, and (until recently) Ann Coulter fan, your blog was pretty much all it took for me to discover the evidence for evolution and scrub all the BS out of my brain.

    Just over a year ago, I would have said with a straight face that the earth was 6000 years old, there were no transitional forms, and evolution was just a theory. Your blog did a fine job of setting me straight. Keep it up.

  59. #59 SkookumPlanet
    June 19, 2006

    As I’ve waited 6 weeks for the subject to appear concurrently on Pharyngula, Dispatches, and Intersection, where I yakked the most, you’d think I’d instantly recognize MizCee provided the opportunity. Nah. Took me days to realize it. The cover note’s a tad behind my situation but the subject following is, shall we say, timeless….

    PZ and gang
    I’ve returned to my pre-blog life, and will only lurk and post a bit from now on. It’s fun hanging with smart, frustrating, funny people. For being so patient with my “psychomarketing seminar” [hope some noggin neurons got jostled], let me offer you this. May it be as fun to read as it was to write.
    Inspired by reality always,
    SkookumPlanet
    .
    .
    Call Me Irreducible
    Simple Non-irreducibility of Complexly Reducible Complexity in Apparent* Simplicity
    ________________________________________________________________

    .
    My “Theory of Simple Non-irreducibility of Complexly Reducible Complexity in Apparent Simplicity” proposes that when things get complex it’s difficult to reduce them to simple things. This should be clear to anyone who thinks for a moment.

    For those who can’t or simply prefer not to, let me explain.

    If we have a system that is complex, but appears to be reducible, then we can postulate the apparent complexity is actually complex and thus we derive apparent simplicity, but only if the non-irreducibility is of the simple type. This is an important point. If the non-irreducibility is of the non-simple [i.e., complex] type, then that changes everything. Not to mention the question of the reducibility of the complexity being simply reducible rather than complexly reducible as currently hypothesized.

    And so, of course, both these questions need an entirely different theoretical framework, which I’m presently developing. But that’s the subject for another whole book, my next one, which I’ll be publishing as soon as my theoretical work on Non-Simple Non-irreducibility of Complexly and Simply… etc., as soon as that manuscript reaches 350 pages in length.

    To summarize the rather verbose nature of my explanation of the “Theory of Simple Non-irreducibility of Complexly Reducible Complexity in Apparent Simplicity” above [wordiness, I’m afraid, is unavoidable here because, one must remember [so that one doesn’t forget [in the future [at some point in time [or another] ] ] that ], addressing complexity simply isn’t as simple as it looks!]… now, where was I? Oh yes, a summary may be made of my “Theory of Simple…”, well, the entirety of it. You need only remember three words — God did it !**

    See! That wasn’t so hard. It’s easy when you let someone else do your thinking for you, isn’t it?. Here at Don’t-think, Inc. [TM] we call that outsourcing your brain.
    .
    Don’t even think about it — outsource! . . . . . . . . with Don’t-think. Inc.
    [SM] Don’t-think, Inc.
    .
    Another quality assembly-line idea from Don’t-think, Inc. “Nothing but consistent.”[SM]
    ________________________________________________________________
    [Offer void where prohibited by law or common sense. No warranty expressed or implied, as offer may be incompatible with reality. Not responsible for social, political, or economic damage resulting from use of any Don’t-think, Inc. product, service, or idea. Don’t-think, Inc. retains all rights and privileges inherent in science but accepts none of the responsibilities. Don’t-think Inc.’s products, services, and ideas are works of fiction. Any resemblance of Don’t-think Inc.’s materials to actual persons, living or dead, plants, animals, entities, processes or events, natural or otherwise, in the past, present, or future, is purely coincidental, unintentional, and a lucky result of random chance. “Don’t-think”, “outsource”, “Don’t”, “think”, “thinking”, “theory”, “God”, “God did it !”, *, and ** all [TM] and [C] 2006, Don’t-think, Inc. “God did it ! “, “He did it ! “, “Make our truth your’s.”, “An Inc-stitute Creation! ” and “You be thinkin’, then you ain’t Inc-in’.” all [SM] Don’t-think, Inc. All rights reserved. Psychomarketing by SkookumPlanet. Public domain, so enjoy (-; ]
    ________________
    * Explained in my next book.
    ** Explained one more time in the book after that.
    .

  60. #60 Monad
    June 20, 2006

    Coulter is a racist, bigoted, cowardly, opportunistic, lying, misogynistic (i.e. self hating woman), charlatan. What she says and writes is largely for effect, there is no real foundation to her beliefs or actions, morally, spiritually or politically. She functions essentially as a lightening rod for the right wing – she fields the most outrageous ideas most of them lack the balls to be able to say (publicly) themselves – much of what she says is even inherently self contradictory but it doesn’t matter to her – the effect is that these ideas are now in the public domain – and she can get away with saying these things because, hey, she’s Anne Coulter – thats what she does, and yes, she’s a woman and no doubt in the febrile imaginations of some of these desperate right wingers a “dammed attractive one!” to boot.

    The real question to me is should she be given the oxygen of publicity by us or is it better to allow her to asphyxiate (humanely) – hey she’s a publicity hag, she wants us to get all “but she said THAT!!!!…” and wave handbags etc. At the end of the day she’s far more likely to bite any hand that touches her anyway – DI and Dembski better watch out, people might want to judge them by the nasty company they keep. Doesn’t help them when they side so conspicuously with racists and scoundrels. Aren’t they supposed to be the “nice” folks?

  61. #61 Carlie
    June 20, 2006

    Numerophile – That’s wonderful. It takes a lot to break out of training like that; I am an evolutionary biologist, and it took years of higher education and then some before it all truly sank in. But don’t just take PZ’s word for it – there’s a whole world of beautiful evolution out there. (Try some of the other scienceblogs too; Carl Zimmer’s is especially readable for general uses.)

  62. #62 numerophile
    June 20, 2006

    Oh, don’t worry, I haven’t just taken PZ’s word for it. I’ve spent a lot of time on other scienceblogs and especially on talk.origins. However, PZ’s is the first I stumbled across, and the reason I know about the existence of those others, so he gets the credit.

    Thanks for the recommendation though! I’ll make sure to check out Zimmer’s blog.

  63. #63 tumbler
    June 20, 2006

    Sir;
    I’m no scientist, and must concede almost entirely to your preparation, excellent as it likely is. I have no degree; something that in a professor’s eyes normally causes contempt or dread. Don’t worry, I can’t touch you, and later you can decontaminate this rectangle I’m writing in.

    It’s a good bet Ann Coulter has no clue when it comes to the subject of evolution. I do know she hasn’t logged onto the intelligent design/creationist folderol you’re used to disparaging. Her irreverence is limited to jokes about your science, without apologies. Because this is a free country.

    In my own heart, I value the Creator first, the literal interpretation of Genesis not very well. I believe it must be true if not accurate. Something about it must be metaphorical, since it has for its author no One quite ”educated” as you understand the word. Yet, He got the main message across. We have all descended from one man and one woman. (Is she a rib? Can’t say for sure. But dust is a good guess.)

    Well; what have I to say about evolution science? Not much. It’s a Dilly of a task to pinpoint exactly; though you and other great men say we have reams and rafts of good evidence. Then why do people resist?

    I maintain you have evidence of ourselves purportedly the apogee of this world’s animal evolution; and little else positively sure about our prehistoric origins. (Or of what further evolution is ahead.) Yes, some hominoid fragments of bone; and it seems to suggest an ape once walked on hind legs, and developed into –what? The rest is theory. I think her name is Lucy, and the DNA all traces back to her, both of chimps and human beings. Of course, that’s marvelous.

    I doubt if she knew that name, and I doubt she’s human. You may not doubt it, alright; the textbooks give you every benefit of the doubt. Texts don’t worry about what I think. However, since I was born, (1937) to date; the word ”theory” has been less and less encouraged in text books. They sell an evolutionary theory as the accomplished fact or truth. We are then to just assume it must be so, apes are the original men and women. Naked apes. I suppose they painted pictures of deer, bison and mammoths on cave-ceilings; and a cro-magnon man had nothing to do with it.

    Damn, what we would give for a cro-magnon self-portrait, in some cave interior! Or a missing link’s portrait. That’s the trouble with theory. The scientist is forced to extrapolate as if there were never any gaps. They say he/she must publish or perish.

    Well, congratulations for not perishing; and for this fine blogsite. It’s neat; I may come back from time to time. Ciao!

  64. #64 Torbjörn Larsson
    June 20, 2006

    This is FREAKING hilarious.

    Big asks for evidence when PZ has given him references to 150,000 articles and nearly 5,000 books. It would be enough to drown a normal man. But Big doesn’t get it.

    tumbler,

    Your commentary reads like a textbook of creationist propaganda.

    “We have all descended from one man and one woman.”

    The bible isn’t literal. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH102.html )

    “Well; what have I to say about evolution science? Not much.”

    Actually, you say that it is wrong. Above, for example.

    “ourselves purportedly the apogee of this world’s animal evolution”

    Evolution has no longterm goal. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB951.html )

    “and little else positively sure about our prehistoric origins”

    There are over 4,000 individual fossils. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC030.html )

    “(Or of what further evolution is ahead.)”

    Evolution has no longterm goal. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB951.html )

    “Yes, some hominoid fragments of bone”

    There are over 4,000 individual fossils. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC030.html )

    “I think her name is Lucy, and the DNA all traces back to her, both of chimps and human beings.”

    Australopithecus afarensis wasn’t the common ancestor. We haven’t DNA that far back. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC080.html )

    “I doubt she’s human”

    Australopithecus afarensis wasn’t an ape and it wasn’t human. (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC080.html )

    “the word ”theory” has been less and less encouraged in text books.”

    The word theory, in the context of science, does not imply uncertainty. Evolution is both a scientific theory and a fact of common descent with modification as observed in fossils. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA201.html )

    “apes are the original men and women”

    Australopithecus afarensis wasn’t an ape and it wasn’t human. (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC080.html )

    Humans and other apes are descended from a common ancestor. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC150.html )

    “The scientist is forced to extrapolate as if there were never any gaps.”

    Gradual change (phyletic gradualism) isn’t always the case. Evolutionary theory works well anyway. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC201.html )

  65. #65 SkookumPlanet
    June 20, 2006

    tumbler
    Torbjörn was faster, with more info.
    I’ve never heard PZ disparage anyone for lack of “degrees” or education and doubt he ever has. After all, he’s a teacher. He educates the undereducated. But he can be acidic to political, religious, and other types of charlatans who play fast and loose with the truth.

    Somewhere you’ve picked up a mishmash of misinformation that apparently informs your opinions, which of course you’re entitled to express. So that this isn’t abstract, I’ll point to just one example with several of these — “Lucy.” Virtually no scientist posits she was human, virtually no one says chimp and human DNA trace back to her, the right “fragments” of bone can be uniquely diagnostic of behavior [here of bipedalism], and virtually no scientist says “an ape once walked on hind legs”. There was an entire radiation, an “explosion”, of first bipedal apes, then of the Homo genus, in response to radical shifts in the habitat of east Africa. Maybe dozens of species. [see Extinct Humans by Ian Tattersall and Jeffery Schwartz]

    OK, a second example you might find more interesting. We do have that self-portrait you say doesn’t exist. If not specifically cro-magnon, an analog, from Europe. A complete, 3-D, bearded male head carved in ivory, broken off perhaps a staff. I’ve no time to chase down an image; maybe someone else will direct you.

    My point is that being uneducated isn’t pejorative, nor is being opinionated [my god, look at PZ], but willfully doing both simultaneously is a different matter. Perhaps you might consider reading a few up-to-date books about what the science actually is and what scientists actually say, and after that forming your opinions about those. I’m certain those opinions would then be taken more seriously by those who’s entire working lives have been devoted to these fields.

    I’m no scientist, nor formally educated in science either, but my interest drives me read it and the knowledge gained from that I get to share here with those that know in great depth. And, of course, learn even more in the process. It’s a lot of fun.

  66. #66 Aquaria
    June 21, 2006

    I love it when the creationists talk about evolution being only a “theory” as their “reasoning” that it can’t be “proven.”

    Gravity is a “theory,” too, but I don’t think too many of them argue about its validity.

  67. #67 tumbler
    June 22, 2006

    Looking at the above, I see only a few good points I ought to assimilate. The most important one is that I haven’t a grasp of science or scientific extrapolation into certainty. So? This isn’t truly required for an

    OK, and neither did Coulter go on about it as if she were a scientist. All we agree upon is, the oodles of evidence are inadequate if

    1.) You think you’ve made fact out of theory. And, Coulter’s declared aim is to show how Liberals limit the nation’s curricula to this narrow view; Darwinism or nothing.

    2.) You’re a Fundie. That fundie persuasion insisting Creationism has a proper place in schools for young children. However, neither should something as controversial and woefully substantiated as fact to date, evolution; be pushed as an agenda. And it has been pushed. By the liberal academic establishment; without any fair referendum.

    I know many here are incensed to see me saying evolution THE FACT is woefully or insufficiently substantiated. Calm your jets, Pals. It can be taught and defended and inculcated as THEORY, for which data can be produced easily. But in Coulter’s eyes this would never do. It has to be DIVINELY established, and be fully acknowledged as an article of religious faith. The Godless faith. Darwinism, then, goes a long way toward the goal of supplanting metaphysical or spiritual faiths. It’s sine qua non to modern liberals’ agenda.

    Only, not all believers find natural stages (evolving) antithetical to that Creator who not only can’t be disproved by science, but created man the Scientist. We believe God acts through His creatures. I feel Darwin would have confessed the same, were he unbiased and impartial.

    I realize the fundies can’t concern themselves with these apprehensions of a liberal mind. Like Taliban, they throw out baby and bathwater trying to remedy the world’s wickedness. Coulter is NOT a fundamentalist. At best she’s a wannabee political pundit. She’s on the Right and would’ve argued just as vehemently coming from the Left. She’s dead right about Liberals, they actually have a pseudo-religious fervor driving them. It’s all on record: Tax and spend; abortion on demand; halts to capital punishment and advancement instead of dubious forms of rehab and ”counselling”. The full range of psychobabble alongside emasculation of all men, good or bad. –As implemented daily in the schools, universities and workplace nowadays.

    The claim she makes is, Liberals are all about enforcing conformity and group-think; only without God. Mostly through the ACLU and activist judges. (The clergy of the godless.) She has some good points, IMHO.

  68. #68 Torbjörn Larsson
    June 22, 2006

    Skookum,

    Thanks for the nice catch!

    Aquaria,
    “Gravity is a “theory,” too, but I don’t think too many of them argue about its validity.”

    To be nerdy, gravity is the observed phenomena, explained by several gravitation theories with increasing area of application. It would have been consistent if “common descent with modification” had been called evoluty. But your point is well taken.

    tumbler,
    “You think you’ve made fact out of theory.”

    Neither you nor Coulter understand what a scientific explanation (theory) is. It is a combination of the observed phenomena and rules that explain those phenomena.

    If we observe the phenomena with the uncertainty below contingent but fixed limit, we conclude that *we know that the phenomena exist beyond reasonable doubt*. Similarly, if a theory can postdict and predict data within its area of validity to a contingent but fixed limit, we conclude that *we know what the theory tells us beyond reaonable doubt*. For example, in physics phenomena is taken to exist if observations are made more than 5 sigma certainty and theories are accepted if they explain data with more than 3 sigma certainty. Other sciences have other limits.

    So both phenomena and theories can be fact.

    “However, neither should something as controversial and woefully substantiated as fact to date, evolution;”

    Evolution is an observed fact (fossil record) beyond reasonable doubt, and a confirmed theory (modern synthesis) beyond reaonable doubt, see above. It is also eminently falsifiable – find any fossil that doesn’t obey common descent. Millions of fossils have been found that support but not falsify evolution.

    “be pushed as an agenda.”

    Evolution is thus science and not an agenda. Science is taught in science classes such as biology; thus evolution is taught.

    “And it has been pushed. By the liberal academic establishment; without any fair referendum.”

    Science isn’t politics. There are lots of republican and religious biologist.

    You and Coulter is also mistaken about referendum and where it should take place. Science is refereed at conferences and in peerreviewed journals. Evolution has been refereed for 150 years, which has made its surviving claims very strong.

    “The Godless faith. Darwinism, then, goes a long way toward the goal of supplanting metaphysical or spiritual faiths.”

    Science is secular. Ie, religious claims is beyond it. This is why scientist are comfortable to be religious. By practising science as a succesful tool for 500 years the lessons learned has been adopted within metaphysics. For example, we now know that only natural explanations work succesfully.

    “I feel Darwin would have confessed the same, were he unbiased and impartial.”

    You should really read Darwin’s books. He was an interesting person with extensive knowledge of christian religion and biology. If he had any bias when studying biology it was christian.

    “Coulter is NOT a fundamentalist. At best she’s a wannabee political pundit.”

    The jury is still out.

    “She’s dead right about Liberals, they actually have a pseudo-religious fervor driving them.”

    Since all politics has huge areas of ad hocs between the few facts we know of economy and society, any politics could be called pseudo-religious.

    “The full range of psychobabble alongside emasculation of all men, good or bad.”

    You are evidently a poor exuse for a real man.

    “As implemented daily in the schools, universities and workplace nowadays.”

    Those places aren’t much internally affected by politics.

    “The claim she makes is, Liberals are all about enforcing conformity and group-think; only without God.”

    Any politics is about enforcing conformity and group-think. Government is secular so religions can be free. So who cares about the faith of the politicians?

    “Mostly through the ACLU and activist judges.”
    ACLU is not an especial organisation. It supports the separation between state and churces so religions can be free.

    High court judges are mostly republican and non-activist. The Dover case had such a lower court judge. Go read the transcript before believing in Coulter’s claims.

    “(The clergy of the godless.) She has some good points, IMHO.”

    As shown here and elsewhere she is at best a scam artist and at worst a fundie. One of the lies is that a secular activity is godless instead of neutral. Another is that godless people ie atheists have a clergy – why should they?

  69. #69 Torbjörn Larsson
    June 22, 2006

    Those places aren’t much internally affected by politics.”

    Umm, sorry, schools and universities are affected by the politics of the ruling party. But since the ruling party is republican, what is your point?

    “ACLU is not an especial organisation. It supports the separation between state and churces so religions can be free.”

    I forgot: Which other organisations also does.

  70. #70 richCares
    June 23, 2006

    Godless
    isn’t this an apt description of Ann Coulter
    what do they call those books that authors use to describe themselves and isn’t this one of them. What’s the name of that religion that spreads hate and venom, I know it’s not Christian cause that’s what I am. It must be sad to have such a hateful god as Ann has.

  71. #71 SkookumPlanet
    June 24, 2006

    tumbler
    I tried one way, let me try another.

    Scientists tend to be very logical and analytical, highly detail-oriented, and able to hold in their minds very complex, extremely complex, matrices of potential, provisional, and accepted analyses and theories about immense amounts of data, and the data itself in raw and in synopsized form.

    When engaging colleagues in discussion they soak up details like sponges, and plug those details into such mental frameworks, recomputing it all on the fly. They pay attention to, and remember, details exceedingly well. Their profession demands it. YOU demand it in the technology derived from science you use.

    Imagine a joint press conference by the heads of the CDC and FDA and HHS and the Surgeon General held to announce the ease-of-infectivity-in-humans barrier has been breached by the avian flu and that a newly developed vaccine was being shipped to all Americans. Then they say, “We think this vaccine will work well in some people. In some others we’re pretty sure it won’t. We don’t know which people nor how many. Our bioscientists think there will be some nasty adverse reactions to the vaccine, but hey, they can’t predict what, exactly, so don’t call them.” After Americans picked themselves up off the floor, I doubt many would run right out to the nearest avian-flu-vaccine-filled syringe.

    Data, [facts] and the details of processing and testing that data, is the day-in, day-out core of science. It’s their “chop wood, carry water”. It’s what makes science work so well. You did something in your first post, many times, that because of scientists’ daily immersion in details, stands out to them like a smoke alarm going off at 3 a.m. Your followup post only turned up the volume of the alarm.

    You made a string of statements about facts, about which there has been enormous scrutiny by science, that are fantasies of yours. No, I retract that. They are so wide of the mark to qualify as weirdness. Not “theories”, facts. Data. Some are mistakes about data which is characteristic of and in the field, i.e. important. You clearly haven’t the slightest idea what the data actually are. You’re understanding isn’t your own. Someone constructed “these” facts and you’re simply parroting them. At best, you’ve opened a research journal and read a paper inside a few times.

    You’re clueless that the “Lucy” in your mind is a fantasy yet the real Lucy is available for anyone to meet. Nobody is barring your access to the actual peer-reviewed, published reports on Lucy, which are many and scattered around America in libraries. You don’t have to agree with what’s in the literature. You couldn’t, in fact, because science is about experimentation with data and ideas and so it’s highly diverse and contradictory.

    You clearly have zero interest in doing so. You’ve shown up on the blog of very smart university professor, a biologist, with an audience full of scientists and science aficionados, yet can’t figure out that to be taken seriously you need to know what you’re speaking about. Ignorance like this is exactly what jumps out at these people — mistaken understanding/use of data. Why? Because downstream it produces flawed results. Scientists have radar for this stuff because it’s their bread and butter.

    Yet, it didn’t occur to you to actually check out the validity of the examples [data] you use, to see if you’d made any mistakes. Nope. This is the worst possible field to do that in, and you don’t get it. I’m confident PZ can speak extemporaneously for an hour on biology and present more info about the subject than you’ve processed your entire life. When someone tries to pass off fabricated material as scientific fact, scientists instantly conclude the person is either ignorant, lazy, or lying. It’s a safe assumption for them to make. I’m shaking my head as I type. Why in the world would you come here, ignorant, and try to confront experts immersed in the field of study nearly 24/7? Didn’t it occur to you your examples [data] might not be correct?

    Take “Damn, what we would give for a cro-magnon self-portrait”. Not only do we have one, you haven’t enough social savvy to acknowledge either your mistake or my helpfulnesss. Get it? I doubt it.

    So while proving to us you’re unwilling to admit error, you simultaneously toss out a number of what you think are facts, but are all imaginary. Why would blogger/peep want to debate ideas with you while you remain ignorant of what’s under discussion and refuse to admit it? Don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself.

    But you won’t. Facts are unimportant to you. First you draw conclusions, then you go looking for facts, especially those most easily distorted to be useful to you. To you, facts/data are information, not to be analyzed and thought about, but to be used in any expedient manner. And on top of this, you cast aspersions, intentionally or not, about the process and profession of science from ignorance. Think about it. You, who know nothing, are telling scientists what the day-to-day of their life’s work is like! And not even coming close! Add up all this behavior and it show’s you’re an arrogant, egotistical, dishonest old fart who’s self-awareness, on a scale of one to ten, is about negative 5. A real piece of work.

    I think Torbjörn is correct, you’ve got category confusion. Science is a field that has built into it the requirement that its practitioners have the ability to admit error, very publicly. The ultimate arbiter is reality. A scientist who can’t deal with reality has his livelihood dry up, or he joins a think tank. The fields that reward the ability to forge ahead while ignoring and lying about reality are politics and religion, as both fields are amply demonstrating these days. Perhaps you took a wrong turn somewhere?

    If there’s a prejudice here at sciblogs it’s towards the willfully ignorant, the illogical, and the false testifiers. On the topic of evolution, SciBloggers often see these 3 traits in the same person.

    Scientist won’t take you seriously. Not because you’re degreeless nor poorly educated. They’ll ignore you because every time you speak the implication of the content is that the methodology of science is unimportant, that data/facts are not critical to the accuracy in science, and that opinion unsupported by fact is valid in science Clearly, you haven’t a clue about how science is actually done. And clearly you could care less. That’s why they won’t take you seriously.

    Because you see no need to read, follow, nor understand science, you don’t realize this large amount of reviewed and published data you mangle so badly is inextricably interwoven with everything else in science. Evolutionary science feeds all biological sciences, like medicine, and vice versa.

    The same realities of quantum mechanics that explain the workings of the exiton-“holes” that cause silicon dioxide to semi-conduct so that a computer-chip transistor functions, and so control the radar in the collision-avoidance system in the last airliner you traveled on, that same reality of quantum mechanics is used to figure out how many millions of years Lucy and the australopiths and Ardipethecus and early Homo fossils have been in the ground. This concept has never occurred to you. How could it — you remain scientifically illiterate intentionally.

    Let me rephrase something I soft-pedaled in my first response. It’s OK to be ignorant, every human on the planet is ignorant about many things. It’s OK to be opinionated, in fact it’s good, and good for our democracy. But when someone is opinionated about something they are ignorant of, that’s special to me. That’s actually my definition of stupid.
    .
    .
    .

    guys, I’m signing off this thread, I’m pooped.

  72. #72 SkookumPlanet
    June 24, 2006

    Whoops….

    let me, on the behalf of scientists’ brains everywhere, make a correction in my second paragraph. “… and the data itself in raw and in synopsized form.” should, in order to be accurate, read “… and the data itself in general and in synopsized form.”

    Brains and computers around the world will be relieved to hear that.

  73. #73 tumbler
    June 24, 2006

    That’s quite a lengthy and emotional screed to post, no wonder you’re exhausted. Why didn’t you just post, ”I don’t care what you think, stupid–we love science. We believe in science,” ? ? ?

    Somewhere in the flurry of postings over a few threads I stated clearly that I admire and support scientists and men of dedication to their calling; even if they’re liberal and godless. I stated everything you’ve labored to say in this long post of yours, UN-emotionally and honestly. I never bashed the theory of evolution or tried to sustain an alternative one, as far as teaching it in schools. I don’t favor Creationism or ID as a classroom study. I realise many other Christians do. NOT me.

    The only leverage you can claim; so you can say I’m ignorant; is that I believe in a divine Creator. Every atheist thinks faithful Christians are ignorant. I’m not even opposed to that; let them go on thinking so. What passes for ignorance to you, then–is religion. Not my qualifications in biological knowledge. Why do you attack me for not being a scientist? I’m not bashing the science.

    I’m defending the truth God reveals to men. Against arrogance and pride; not against research and scientific accomplishments. I made note of the wonderful western seats of education; which the Church founded and preserved for today’s SCIENCE, until inevitably Church and state were sundered. Talking about The Sorbonne, Oxford, Cambridge, Cologne, Salamanca, Alcala de Henares; on and on.

    Men have learned from them; and then taught your teachers from the legacy entrusted to them. Great men! And GOD gave the Church to men; a Church which founded these universities and preserved that wisdom– so that now atheistic science can call God a myth. He’s not! That’s a capsule of what I entered this blog to say. Not even two-three comments about ”junk science.” Just the truth. And for that you–skookumplanet, write a big essay explainining why I ought to shut up, I’m ignorant. Because I’m not learning everything from YOUR books!

  74. #74 mss
    June 24, 2006

    Tumbler,

    I’m afraid without realizing it, you have been quite anti-science. I and many others have tried to considerately explain this to you, and I think we’ve been patient enough.

    1. You propounded, to a blog run by an evolutionary biologist, a summary of the evidence on evolution that is deeply flawed and non-sensical. The polite thing to do would be to admit that you were wrong, and that the evidence for evolution is stronger than you assumed. You might even consider how arrogant it must seem to tell an expert his business from a position of ignorance.* Instead, you seem to suggest scientific teaching should be a matter of “fair referendum”—a profoundly anti-science perspective.

    2. You defend a political pundit who slurs working scientists—saying that our teaching efforts are religious indoctrination, that our research is dictated by political aims, and that our interpretation of the evidence is flawed. Accusing professionals of fraud and misconduct is serious. Imagine what would happen if I posted a blog entry falsely accusing my physician of similar misconduct—I be hearing from lawyers pretty quickly. And I would deserve it.

    3. You show little understanding of how science actually works. It’s not a body of knowledge or wisdom passed down from the Greeks, or the Middle Ages (indeed, getting over the idea of knowledge as merely something to preserve from the past was instrumental in the birth of modern science). Nor is science a set of discoveries; you can’t claim to be a supporter of science just because you like its products. Science is a *process* for investigating the natural world. Your mode of argument (assertion without evidence; blindness to evidence against your claims) and your standard of proof (faith trumps evidence) are both antithetical to science.

    One last thing: you really should read the comments on this blog more carefully. For example, Skookum Planet’s post above is very nice, and says a lot. You summarized it as

    “Why didn’t you just post, ”I don’t care what you think, stupid–we love science. We believe in science,””

    which is not at all what Skookum said. He explained what science was—and you still don’t get it. He explained why people here can’t find any way to take your ideas about evolution seriously (we would if we could; there just isn’t any content to them). He treated you with more attention and respect than your past posts merit.

    I’ve been responding to you because you seem to want, at some level, to engage in a conversation with people you disagree with. That take some guts, especially when the people on the other side are experts. But it should be plain by now that you’re not ready for this debate. Go read some real science—Dawkins, or the TalkOrigins archive (http://www.talkorigins.org/), or even old posts on this blog. Come back when you have genuine *questions*, rather than arguments. Because you’re not going to be ready to have any sort of debate until you deeply understand the other side.

    * I’m an academic scientist, but not a biologist. And I shudder at the thought of trying to “take on” someone like PZ Myers in his areas of expertise, because I would be made to look very stupid very fast. I have a PhD. I teach at a university. So this isn’t about “elitism” or degrees. It’s about respect for knowledge.

  75. #75 Chance
    June 24, 2006

    tumbler-

    I think your a good man, just really really indoctrinated and perhaps confused. I respect your right to your beliefs not matter how wrong I feel they are.

    I made note of the wonderful western seats of education; which the Church founded and preserved for today’s SCIENCE,

    In reality the church was generally harmful to knowledge. We have the Islamic world to thank for preserving and nurturing science through the dark ages that the RCC had much to do with.

    I’m defending the truth God reveals to men.

    No your defending a supernatural belief YOU believe to be true. Big difference.

    so that now atheistic science can call God a myth. He’s not!

    Science doesn’t say God is a myth. Science is an evidence ebased enterprise. If you have evidence that takes a particular version of God out of the belief realm and into the realm of science put it forth otherwise you can still have your belief but it’s no stronger evidence wise than another.

    You need to understand what your saying simply isn’t the truth but rather simply belief. And there are any number of them around.

  76. #76 richCares
    June 24, 2006

    Kitzmiller v. Dover and Ann Coulter, a bit of interest.

    Quote from Judge Jones on Ann Coulter, who criticizes him
    in her new book: “We have to suffer these arrows because
    people will disagree with our opinions … She foments a
    kind of civic stupidity in my opinion.”

    “civic stupitity” = polite way to say “complete idiot”

  77. #77 George Cauldron
    June 24, 2006

    Judge Jones said that?

    Shit, I might have finally met a Republican I can respect

  78. #78 SkookumPlanet
    June 25, 2006

    Further evidence…

    Your specious terms compound a narcissism you display in quotes out of your previous inane post, better forgotten. Imagine this pomposity: ” [to] put on such glasses at peril of myopically walking off cliffs.” You must like rejection slips, Planet.

    -tumbler

    Perhaps you’re impervious to embarrassment. [If your are, don’t brag about it. Shrinks tend to call that sociopathy.]

    Without 1) knowing anything about me [I might be of the same denomination as you, I might even worship with you], 2) without reading archives of sciblogs, 3) without hanging at sciblogs for awhile, lurking and reading, to get background so you can speak relevantly . . . you make cracks you expect will set me off into a flame war with you.

    When I saw this late last night, after I’d already posted my energy-draining attempt to educate you, when I saw that comment at PZ’s “talk radio post” I laughed and laughed and laughed, then for the next hour or two repeatedly chuckled over it. I’ve thrown more metaphors in the trash than have ever entered you mind. I’ve taught writing, many classes. You, meanwhile, couldn’t talk your way out of a paper bag.

    I”m trained and degreed as a writer. In the past I’ve made my living as a writer for many years. And even when not fully supporting myself so, still writing. I have received, over decades of writing, at most a handful of rejection slips. I’ve had hundreds of separate pieces published. By “published” I mean on paper and, almost all, paid for it. But of course, “I must like rejection slips” is your reality, so it’s “fact.”

    There’s a lesson here which you doubtless will never find. Don’t get into a science fight with a scientist without knowing something about science. And don’t get into a word fight with a writer without knowing how to compose a simple declarative sentence. When amateurs with no exposure to a field go up against professionals, the odds are heavily against them.

    You are so out of touch with the environment around you, deaf and blind to it, you can’t even figure out how to make someone angry! Your behavior here at SciBlogs is evidence you’re such a buffoon that even God doesn’t take you seriously. Otherwise, He would have given you adequate skills with which to defend Him.

    He gave you a tactical and strategic thinking ability just a bit inferior to that of a concrete block.

    That, also, is your reality.

  79. #79 Kurt
    June 26, 2006

    God sees.

  80. #80 Zinger123
    June 27, 2006

    Tumbler is on to something here.

    Science as a methodology is fine, but as a religion it is seriously deficient. Scientists are detail people, and the details can be so fascinating that they can be almost all consuming. Perhaps this is why so many of my colleagues experience broken marriages.

    If we accept science as objective, then it should have an “absolute respect for facts.” Indeed, science and Christianity are (or should be) alike in this regard, as both are (or should be) based on a healthy empiricism. Skeptical? Then perform a google search on the words “Zeitoun” (pronounced zih-TOON) and “apparition.” This was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, and was photographed and televised on Egyptian television. Employing Occam’s shaving tool, the most parsimonious explanation of the Zeitoun phenomenon is clearly and explicitly religious.

    Don’t quote Carl Sagan at me here. His explanation of Marian apparitions in his book Demon Haunted Universe is breathtakingly inadequate with regard to his treatment of the available evidence.

    That said, Coulter and the ID proponents seem to be deliberately conflating evolutionary science and science as religion (scientism or evolutionism). In fairness, many scientists seem to unwittingly do the same thing. So enthralled by the details, we can miss large stretches of the forest of truth.

    It is time for balance on both sides. Science in its proper place (i.e., no more wild extrapolations) plus honest recognition that some type of evolutionary change does seem to have happened.

  81. #81 stevie_nyc
    June 27, 2006

    Hmmm… any chance ZInger is Tumbler?

    Just sayin…

  82. #82 Ken Cope
    June 27, 2006

    Zeitoun? Great Pepper’s Ghost!

    Don’t quote Carl Sagan at me here. His explanation of Marian apparitions in his book Demon Haunted Universe is breathtakingly inadequate with regard to his treatment of the available evidence.

    GALAHAD:
    I seek Mary! I have seen her, here on this suburban Egyptian coptic church!
    DINGO:
    Oh, no. Oh, no! Bad, bad Zoot!
    GALAHAD:
    Well, what is it?
    DINGO:
    Oh, wicked, bad, naughty Zoot! She has been setting alight to our beacon, which, I have just remembered, is Marian-shaped. It’s not the first time we’ve had this problem.
    GALAHAD:
    It’s not the real Mary?
    DINGO:
    Oh, wicked, wicked Zoot. Oh, she is a naughty person and she must pay the penalty, and here in suburban Egyptian coptic church, we have but one punishment for setting alight the Marian-shaped beacon: you must tie her down on a bed and spank her.
    GIRLS:
    A spanking! A spanking!
    DINGO:
    You must spank her well, and after you have spanked her, you may deal with her as you like, and then, spank me.
    AMAZING:
    And spank me.
    STUNNER:
    And me.
    LOVELY:
    And me.
    DINGO:
    Yes. Yes, you must give us all a good spanking!
    GIRLS:
    A spanking! A spanking! There is going to be a spanking tonight!
    DINGO:
    And after the spanking, the oral sex.
    GIRLS:
    The oral sex! The oral sex!
    GALAHAD:
    Well, I could stay a bit longer.

  83. #83 Zinger123
    June 28, 2006

    There certainly are troubling aspects to Darwinian evolutionism, as
    evidenced by the previous posting. Right in character, however, with
    the original motivations behind Erasmus Darwin’s Zoonomia. Read
    about what happened in Lichfield parish (e concha omnia), ponder how
    this subsequently influenced poor young Charles, and a picture
    emerges that makes the ID folks (and even Coulter) seem sensible or
    even heroic.

  84. #84 Ken Cope
    June 28, 2006

    What troubling aspects? Elementary Victorian era stagecraft presented in the provinces for the consumption of the marks by the unscrupulous? Allow me to present my next illusion, the ghost of David Hume shaving with Occam’s razor, illuminated and reflected in a cloud of mist and incense.

    Exactly what does twitting your credulous, pompous, anonymized ass got to do with evolutionism, and what, precisely, is Darwinian about it?

    Has anybody seen [s]tumbler and zinger123 in the same room? Neither fool can construct a complete sentence.

    Coulter and IDiots sensible? heroic? Do tell…

  85. #85 Zinger123
    June 28, 2006

    Pepper’s Ghost is a neat illusion; I especially enjoy the dance hall scene in Disney’s
    Haunted House. But simple geometry shows that it has no bearing on the Zeitoun
    events, where the apparitions were photographed from a variety of angles. This is what
    I mean by extrapolationism. Something that has a faint resemblance to the event under
    consideration is proffered as sufficient explanation. Poor application of this sort of logic is called scientism. Assumptions that the universe is without God because of the existence of some kind of evolutionary process lead to the extrapolation called evolutionism, and since the Darwins were among the first to make it, Darwinism. There is irony here. The putative greatest scientist of the modern era is an extrapolationistic sham-meister. Now that is what I call Victorian era stagecraft. Who is that man behind the curtain? Is it tumbler, Zinger123, or both?

    I’ve met Michael Behe and his anti-evolutionary arguments concerning the bacterial flagellum are, as you know, a sham (check out the type III secretory system). It is a ruse (no, not a Michael Ruse) to shake people out of complacent evolutionism. The ruse is working, witness Coulter’s book #1 on the bestseller list.

    There has got to be a better way. Is it too much to ask for careful, objective and reverent analysis of events like Zeitoun? This could be far more interesting than the fallacies of scientism, the distorting of science to support creationistic ID, or Cope’s irreverant marsh of garbage.

  86. #86 thwaite
    June 28, 2006

    Tumbler claims: no prehistoric self-portraits – eh? New data here (and as Keynes is reputed to have said to a stubborn statesman who always recommended ‘steady on!’: “when the facts change I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”)

    * Prehistoric portraiture is rare but exists. Stone engravings at La Marche, France are from about 14kya (Ice Age. France and the Czech Republic have prehistoric sculptures with apparent personalities (these latter are of doubted authenticity – but recall that doubt is intrinsic to science). For the Neolithic era (about 7kya) middle-eastern skulls are sometimes found with plaster ‘enhancements’ which suggest individual traits. Butmir, Bosnia has uncovered clay figurines with details such as neatly combed hair. The most detailed portraiture is the Moche pottery of Peru. All these details are from the Cambridge Illustrated History: Prehistoric Art, 1998, Paul Bahn – found in a quick trip to a local town library, not even a campus library.

    * The famous Venus of Willendorf and similar icons (there are many) seems consistent with a self-image, literally – an body image done by the artist of herself from her own perspective, sans reflections. Details at the link on “Comparing Modern Bodies with Prehistoric Artifacts” in this very useful index page ART HISTORY RESOURCES: Prehistoric Art”

    * For the next several weeks PBS is doing a series “How Art Made the World” :
    pbs.org/previews/artmadeworld/
    The second episode is next (the first was pretty good):
    “The Day Pictures Were Born” (July 3) explores when and why humans underwent what archeologists call the “creative explosion” and began making pictures. The examination of prehistoric European cave paintings and the rock art discovered in South Africa and North America indicates that this “explosion” may have been an effort to depict sights from the inner – rather than outer – worlds of our ancient ancestors.

  87. #87 Ken Cope
    June 28, 2006

    You want to idolatrously worship an impressive stage illusion performed nightly, knock yourself out (even granting for a second the absurd notion that it was ghost, how do you know it wasn’t Isis, or some temple prostitute come back to haunt the joint?), but it’s an insult to great magicians throughout the ages to pretend such a stunt couldn’t be accomplished handily. Egypt is where they invented such show business, with alcoves behind the statues so the priest could throw the voice of the gods.

    In 1968 men read from the book of Genesis while orbiting the moon, but by your account, the real miracle that year was that millions saw a glow in the dark diddler on the roof. Pepper’s ghost is merely a fine place to open the subject of stagecraft and illusion, and its geometry is quite flexible. Speaking of Pepper’s ghost and flexible geometry, here’s Madonna at the Grammys with the Gorillaz. It’s going to take more than cheap tricks for anybody to buy what you’re pimping.

    Only a maroon would accuse magicians of the crime of scientism for recognizing a trick when they see one. You should be tarred and feathered for peddling bunk, like the Davenport Brothers often were, or the Fox sisters, who ushered in an era of Spiritualism and seances with toe-popping and simple rope escapes and phosphorous.

    You may have noticed the theme of this blog whose host allows us to comment. He has issued a challenge to supporters of Coulter, that I suspect you’ll continue to ignore.

    You know Behe is a fraud, but support fraud if it produces tripe like Coulter’s, because you oppose the bogeyman of scientism and evolutionism. You support fraud like Zeitoun’s if it keeps the marks on their knees. Sounds terribly Straussian to me.

    We’re every one of us godless, it’s just that some of us know and some of us don’t Some won’t admit their godlessness, and have their panties in a twist that others might catch on as well, so the assault on science must escalate.

  88. #88 stevie_nyc
    June 28, 2006

    Zinger=Tumbler?

  89. #89 Zinger123
    June 28, 2006

    OK, now we are getting somewhere. The Gorillaz/Madonna opening scene is impressive but is using processor power that was not available in 1968. Zeitoun has Mary walking around on the top of Church roof with a complex three-dimensional surface that itself is experiencing diffuse illumination. Police swept a 15 kilometer perimeter and discovered no evidence of fraud. Skeptics cut the power supply to the Zeitoun neighborhood and Mary appeared as before. So Zeitoun happened without electricity, without modern computers, and was swarmed by hostile cops and skeptics. At some point, as a skeptic and non-believer, you have to toss in the towel and pick up Occam’s razor. An honest intellect, at this point, should find it perverse to deny supernatural intervention at Zeitoun. Here is a point all should concede to Coulter/ID/creationism. A single authentic miracle causes utter collapse of scientism/evolutionism. This is not original with me. Read G. K. Chesterton’s Everlasting Man, Orthodoxy, etc. He notes that there is a “choking cascade of evidence favoring the supernatural.” Coulter’s supposedly idiotic supporters understand this and are buying her book in droves.

    I don’t pretend to understand the magician’s craft but I suspect that there is more here (at times, among a few practitioners) than meets (or is hidden from) the eye. You are right to point out Egyptian origins. It wasn’t just Moses with the snake stick. That’s a pretty good trick.

    The Marian apparitions at Zeitoun were associated with miraculous healing, moving still images, conversions, and best of all, a sense of peace between Muslim and Christian. Was the apparition Isis? No way. Read your Josephus. The temple of Isis was associated with sexual perversion and death.

    For the record, I don’t worship idolatrously, I don’t care much for Coulter, and I’m not tumbler. I do promote the search for truth, and I don’t mean the Pravda or Veritas versions.

  90. #90 thwaite
    June 28, 2006

    Ken Cope’s link to Madonna and the Gorrilaz:

    wow. that didn’t suck.

    Zinger123: I do promote the search for truth
    …for the context of apparent miracles, that led you straight to the work of Martin Gardner, didn’t it? Gardner is part of a long tradition of debunking hoaxes, a tradition which predates and included many in Darwin’s close circle of associates. Naturalists are indeed doubtful of the supernatural.

  91. #91 thwaite
    June 28, 2006

    (Gorrilaz? Gorillaz. Yes my spelling does sometimes suck. I take solace in that fact that it’s a only a poor imagination which can’t think of at least 3 different ways to spell most English words.)

  92. #92 Ken Cope
    June 28, 2006

    The Gorillaz/Madonna opening scene is impressive but is using processor power that was not available in 1968.

    When Pepper’s ghost debuted in 1862 he managed the trick without electricity and, miraculously, without even a prototype of the difference engine.

    Zeitoun has Mary walking around on the top of Church roof with a complex three-dimensional surface that itself is experiencing diffuse illumination. Police swept a 15 kilometer perimeter and discovered no evidence of fraud. Skeptics cut the power supply to the Zeitoun neighborhood and Mary appeared as before.

    An eyewitness describes “Mary” as ‘glowing so brightly, she must have worn a crown of lightbulbs.’ Battery operated illuminated tiaras were not made of unobtainium in 1968. Phosphorescent gauze, cheesecloth and irridescent paint have been staples of spiritualist fraud since the late nineteenth century. The smell of incense accompanied the apparitions– have you never heard the expression smoke and mirrors? Smoke is nearly as useful as a sheet of mist, to act as a screen onto which any ethereal image, stillframed or moving, can be projected… some flashy lights to let those in the cheap sheets know the show is starting. So paint up a glowing actress who swans about waving to the marks, after you’ve made her magically appear. If she needs to make a quick getaway, the classic shroud she wears enables a flashy exit. David Devant showed how it was done a century ago, in his Mascot Moth illusion. Jim Steinmeyer recreated it in 1981 for Doug Henning (it’s the last trick, ignore the unnecessary camera cut), a devotee of Transcendental Mastication. If you can’t explain the illusion, does that make Vedanta the one true religion?

    An honest intellect, at this point, should find it perverse to deny supernatural intervention at Zeitoun.

    An honest intellect does not attempt to fill the void of ignorance with an even deeper mystery. Room for the god of the gaps in our knowledge still continues to shrink. Goddidit explains nothing, especially the puzzle of what kind of cheapass goddess stoops to performing parlor tricks to scam for believers.

    Here is a point all should concede to Coulter/ID/creationism. A single authentic miracle causes utter collapse of scientism/evolutionism.

    I suspect the word you meant was genuine, but authentic, especially here, does not cut it. The faith of the credulous at Zeitoun is far from miraculous.

    This is not original with me. Read G. K. Chesterton’s Everlasting Man, Orthodoxy, etc. He notes that there is a “choking cascade of evidence favoring the supernatural.” Coulter’s supposedly idiotic supporters understand this and are buying her book in droves.

    Conan Doyle considered the Cottingley Fairies to be part of the cascade of evidence for favoring the supernatural, when he was merely the victim of a hoax. Scientists are often deceived by conjuring and tricks, primarily because of their honesty and lack of training in simple conjuring and misdirection. Ann Coulter’s idiotic supporters know squat from G. K. Chesterton.

    I don’t pretend to understand the magician’s craft but I suspect that there is more here (at times, among a few practitioners) than meets (or is hidden from) the eye. You are right to point out Egyptian origins. It wasn’t just Moses with the snake stick. That’s a pretty good trick.

    Hiding the Elephant by Walt Disney Imagineering consultant Jim Steinmeyer, is a good place to start to get a handle on the craft of the illusionist. When I was at Walt Disney Imagineering, water was used to create the appearance of fire, lasers to create the appearance of water that you could pass dry hands through. This week, a wall of mist holds the image of squid faced Davy Jones through which you glide in the revamped Pirates of the Carribean attraction.

    The Marian apparitions at Zeitoun were associated with miraculous healing, moving still images, conversions, and best of all, a sense of peace between Muslim and Christian. Was the apparition Isis? No way. Read your Josephus. The temple of Isis was associated with sexual perversion and death.

    That still doesn’t answer the question. How can you tell whether the ghost was Mary’s or that of Isis? And don’t tell me your dead and resurrected god obsessed with everybody’s sex life is any improvement over earlier mystery cults. Catholicism has more in common with agrarian cults of the Nile than it might admit.

    For the record, I don’t worship idolatrously, I don’t care much for Coulter, and I’m not tumbler. I do promote the search for truth, and I don’t mean the Pravda or Veritas versions.

    I don’t care who you are or aren’t. You can worship whatever gets you through the night, for all I care. As flawed as it is, science will get you farther in a search for truth than religious dogma and arrogantly ignorant credulity ever will. And applauding fraud, as you did in the case of Behe above, for encouraging more fraud, like that of Coulter’s, makes you a contemptible accomplice to fraud.

  93. #93 Zinger123
    June 28, 2006

    Cottingley Faires and Mascot Moth are nice examples but they really don’t have anything to do with Zeitoun. This is so for the following reason. While the apparitions were occurring some of the people in the crowd could not see anything even though they were standing right next to people who could see. This so, in spite of the fact that the apparitions were being photographed. No magician could replicate this type of intra-group selectivity with a mere visual stunt.

    You have lost bady in the Zeitoun debate. I nevertheless admire your spirited defense and informative examples. Round one goes to Zinger123 and Tumbler.

    On to Round Two, where you may fare better. Simon Conway Morris is a paleontologist who holds Darwin’s chair at Cambridge University. In his book Life’s Solution he catalogues many examples of convergent evolution. He then goes on to claim that the convergences are too close and too numerous to permit serious contemplation of SJ Gould’s arguments regarding contingency and the history of life. Also, Conway Morris implies in Life’s Solution that natural selection, acting alone, is insufficient to account for the convergences. In other words, something else is causing life to navigate through the cloud of variability. Can Conway Morris’s arguments and inferences be supported or no?

    Incidentally, I don’t think that fraud is the right word to use to describe Behe’s work. He is sincerely trying to rattle the edifice of evolutionism but IMHO he is going about it the wrong way. He’s painted himself into a self-delusional corner, but he is a bright guy and may be able to extricate himself.

    Is my God obsessed with sex? Hardly, He just wants what is best for us. We tend to abuse sex like the cocaine experiment chimps. Madonna’s shapely legs and pelvic gyrations are carrying her down the wrong road. At the end of this road we see Elvis, slumped over the toilet, dead, clutching the remains of his last overdose of Fenamint gum laxative. Madonna, once a Catholic, now belongs to a sect that doesn’t even want her. Beauty is fleeting, and perhaps further down the road she will see the error of her current ways. God willing.

    Thanks for the tip about the revamped Pirates–I will go out of my way to see this.

  94. #94 Ken Cope
    June 29, 2006

    Are you trying to describe Zeitoun 1968 or Woodstock 1969?

    Just STFU. Only the flimsiest suggestions and some cheapass skotography were called for if that’s all the phenomena you’ve got. Nothing needed to have risen to the level of stagecraft. The credulity of the faithful and what they were so blessed to “see” is more than sufficient explanation. You wouldn’t want your neighbor to think you hadn’t seen Mary, would you? Evidence is not spelled anecdote. We’re back in the land of the madness of crowds and Marian sightings in burnt tacos and Georgia O’Keefesque florid pudenda greasestains on concrete.

    You have lost bady in the Zeitoun debate. I nevertheless admire your spirited defense and informative examples. Round one goes to Zinger123 and Tumbler.

    That’s all you’ve got, a declaration of victory and a change of subject? Spare me the teleology. If you’re not here to show where any part of Coulter’s screeds against evolution are supportable, then you can shove off, you sanctimonious, lying, dissembling fraud. Maybe somebody else wants to play with you, but I’ll not waste any more of PZ’s bandwidth on you.

    Madonna’s shapely legs and pelvic gyrations are carrying her down the wrong road. At the end of this road we see Elvis, slumped over the toilet, dead, clutching the remains of his last overdose of Fenamint gum laxative.

    Oh, Atlantis…

  95. #95 Zinger123
    June 29, 2006

    I’ll accept your telling me to shut up as an admission of defeat. But must we return to Egypt? Denial ain’t just a river. You will gain credibility if you will admit it when you have lost a round. Don’t waste our time with diversionary tactics or red herrings like Our Lady of the Taco.

    I wish you a comfortable chair where you can sit, relax, ponder all this, close your eyes and watch while your synapses reconfigure from DDDM (dreadful darwinian dawkins mode) to something more realistic.

    The teleology piece is absolutely essential for evaluating the validity of what Coulter and her ID allies are saying. If evolution is somehow guided or directed, then ID ultimately wins no matter how bad the examples put forth by its supporters. The drivel doesn’t matter; ID can lose all the battles and win the war. The teleology question can be directly addressed with examples from the fossil record and modern biota. So let’s have at it, unless you wish to concede defeat to ID at the outset.

    Regarding that painting, I never knew that sacrilege could be so tacky. But it does kind of reinforce my point.

  96. #96 stevie_nyc
    June 29, 2006

    Thousands of people claim they’ve been abducted by aliens…

    So they must exist. Therefore Aliens not GOD guided evolution.

    That’s my theory… I have no evidence but it’s still better than ID.

    hehe.

  97. #97 Zinger123
    June 29, 2006

    Stevie/NYC, the Urantia Book folks actually believe what you just postulated.

  98. #98 stevie_nyc
    June 29, 2006

    Hey does ID have fun books like that too???

  99. #99 Ken Cope
    June 29, 2006

    Ken Cope’s link to Madonna and the Gorrilaz:

    wow. that didn’t suck.

    I didn’t think so either, particularly as repeated viewing has just completely turned around my thinking on the subject of magic. It most certainly must be real magic, of the diabolically infernal sort.

    After some examination, one can tell that the geometry for Pepper’s ghost is all wrong. Madonna dances around in front of and behind the Gorillaz, while the setup in the original work by Professor Pepper required a sheet of glass covering the entirety of a small stage, with actors behind the glass, and the other actor portraying the ghost inclined at an angle in the orchestra pit, being illuminated by an oxygen/hydrogen lamp in an enclosure covered in black velvet, called “the oven.” Such scenes were performed in silence, as the actor’s voice couldn’t carry through the glass.

    The Gorillaz, and Madonna, here, are both shown singing and dancing and interacting with each other, and I have no idea how they actually did it! As we have learned on this thread, “An honest intellect, at this point, should find it perverse to deny supernatural intervention,” and I not only couldn’t agree more, I’ve got the evidence to support supernatural intervention in all magic.

    This profound observation,“While the apparitions were occurring some of the people in the crowd could not see anything even though they were standing right next to people who could see. This so, in spite of the fact that the apparitions were being photographed. No magician could replicate this type of intra-group selectivity with a mere visual stunt,” led to an astonishing discovery, the secret of which I am about to reveal, damn the consequences!

    Magicians consort with demons.

    We know this is true, because some people can see them, and some people can’t, even in the same room at the same time. Sometimes demons appear whispering to magicians in photographs and paintings, and sometimes they don’t. It must be something about the steady diet of turpentine and absinthe that makes us artists susceptible to being able to see them, but I imagine anybody could, especially if they squinted, and the magician’s aura wasn’t in the way. To ignore the intervention of the supernatural in the dark art of the conjurer is nothing less than scientism.

    But I’m troubled. If exorcisms are successfully performed by the Catholic Church, why are there still demons and imps?

  100. #100 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 1, 2006

    The midsummer holiday was long and eventful, apparently so was this thread. (I will probably have to nick this opening in the other threads. 😉

    So, tumbler went down. Skookum and mss are so eloquent. “It’s OK to be ignorant, every human on the planet is ignorant about many things. It’s OK to be opinionated, in fact it’s good, and good for our democracy. But when someone is opinionated about something they are ignorant of, that’s special to me. That’s actually my definition of stupid.” I’ll have to remember this definition, it was so neat.

    Instead Zinger appears in an apparition.

    “Science as a methodology is fine, but as a religion it is seriously deficient.”

    Sure. That should tell you something about the relation between science and faith.

    “Employing Occam’s shaving tool, the most parsimonious explanation of the Zeitoun phenomenon is clearly and explicitly religious.”

    As Ken argued, Occam shaves fraud as the simplest explanation. To go supernatural in a natural world isn’t simple. Numerous such phenomena heretofore has been fraud, so even in the absence of any explanation this is also now the de facto null hypotheses.

    “Don’t quote Carl Sagan at me here. His explanation of Marian apparitions in his book Demon Haunted Universe is breathtakingly inadequate with regard to his treatment of the available evidence.”

    What is the sources to this criticism?

    “That said, Coulter and the ID proponents seem to be deliberately conflating evolutionary science and science as religion (scientism or evolutionism). In fairness, many scientists seem to unwittingly do the same thing.”

    That is totally unsubstantiated. Scientists know that science is a tool. Your comments above on it as a religion, and later on “wild extrapolations” seems to show that it is you who have a problem to demarcate.

    “Assumptions that the universe is without God because of the existence of some kind of evolutionary process lead to the extrapolation called evolutionism, and since the Darwins were among the first to make it, Darwinism.”

    This is wrong. Darwinism is a notation for the first evolutionary theories, before ne-darwinism and the modern synthesis. It has nothing to say about gods. It was those religions that tried to make gods controlling the evolutionary process that made statements on gods. Those statements were wrong.

    Since we are discussing biology here, Wikipedia says: “In anthropology and biology, the term Evolutionism is nowadays used specifically for historical theories or beliefs of early sociocultural evolutionism developed in the 18th and 19th century that organisms are intrinsically bound to improve themselves through progressive changes which are heritable.” These theories, that are not supported anymore, had also nothing to say about gods. If you mean anything else with evolutionism, please specify.

    “At some point, as a skeptic and non-believer, you have to toss in the towel and pick up Occam’s razor. An honest intellect, at this point, should find it perverse to deny supernatural intervention at Zeitoun.”

    Not at all, see above. As a skeptic we can now also use science to say that not only is the simplest explanation natural, it is the only causally allowed.

    “You have lost bady in the Zeitoun debate.”

    I’m sorry, but you don’t get to proclame such things and find them supported.

    “Also, Conway Morris implies in Life’s Solution that natural selection, acting alone, is insufficient to account for the convergences. In other words, something else is causing life to navigate through the cloud of variability.”

    Evolution isn’t mere natural selection. If you read more posts here on Pharyngula you will see a bunch of the mechanisms that are now used in evolution.

    “I don’t think that fraud is the right word to use to describe Behe’s work.”

    This is the serious conclusion of some, perhaps all, professional biologists, since creationism is pseudoscience used to promote religion. The blog “The Panda’s Thumb” exhibits some of them.

    “We tend to abuse sex like the cocaine experiment chimps.”

    My impression is that there are considerably more cocaine addicts than sexual addicts. Sex isn’t easily abused since we have evolved to use it.

    “I’ll accept your telling me to shut up as an admission of defeat.”

    Ken wanted you to put up (the facts, ie show where any part of Coulter’s screeds against evolution are supportable) or shut up.

    “If evolution is somehow guided or directed, then ID ultimately wins no matter how bad the examples put forth by its supporters.”

    This is a creationist herring. If evolution is wrong, doesn’t make creationism right. ( http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA510_1.html )

    Specifically on teleology, evolution isn’t globally guided. It is locally directed by natural selection towards higher fitness. The functional response of adaptations, coevolution and environmental changes changes the fitness function constantly in a complex and mostly random manner.

  101. #101 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 1, 2006

    “Sex isn’t easily abused since we have evolved to use it.”

    It is more complicated than that. Most of the things that we have evolved to use, like food, sleep, sex, exercise, and socialisation, can be abused since our rewards systems are geared that way and since we are proficient in those activities. But the point is that evolution also should have selected against too massive abusers.

  102. #102 Zinger123
    July 2, 2006

    T. Larsson,

    You have posted very interesting, thoughtful replies and I thank you for taking the time to reply. Here are some of my replies to your replies.

    The demarkation problem is a serious one; check the Wikipedia entry on this. No one really knows where to draw the line between science and non-science.

    I agree with your statement that for apparitions, fraud is the de facto null hypothesis. As we see with Zeitoun the fraud explanation is not working very well (not working at all, in fact), so Occam must shave to the supernatural. If Zeitoun can be shown to be a fraud then we are back to the null hypothesis, but that has not been shown to my satisfaction and I have discussed this with many well informed people. To the contrary, the evidence and the plausibility arguments seem to point in the other direction, that is, to the supernatural.

    My criticism of Carl Sagan on Marian apparitions is yet unpublished, but is in review for publication.

    Mr. Larsson, if you say that “not only is the simplest explanation natural, it is the only causally allowed” then you are making a religious, rather than a scientific statement. As you say, it “isn’t simple” to admit supernatural explanations, but if other possible explanations have been exhausted we must AS SCIENTISTS contemplate a supernatural explanation if we wish to be true to the objectivity and impartiality that science demands. Ruling out ANYTHING as a causal agent a priori, when there is plausible evidence for it, would betray the entire enterprise of science.

    Your great Norsewoman St. Briget of Sweden implicitly understood this.

    Please do not confuse evolutionism with orthogenesis. I am using the term evolutionism in the modern sense of a worldview that denies the existence of the supernatural, and attributes everything to the agency of naturalistic evolutionary processes.

    Yes of course, evolution includes symbiosis and other factors besides natural selection. My question is, and this is the same question Conway Morris asks, are all of these evolutionary factors naturalistic or is there evidence for guided evolution?

    OK, I might be willing to concede with regard to Dr. Behe. His work does seem borderline fraudulent. I had an argument with him, and although we both agree that God designed the world, he did not present one piece of evidence nor a single scientific interpretation that was valid. He seemed to cling to his mousetrap example and other fallacies because they are appealing to, and easily grasped by, his evangelical audiences.

    It is indeed time for me to put up or shut up. I will elucidate both sexuality and the first specific evolution comment in Coulter’s book in a single blow. Coulter argues in her first chapter that if naturalistic evolution (with a heavy emphasis on natural selection) is all that its supporters say it is, then human homosexuality poses a real theoretical problem for evolution. (Before proceeding further, allow me to affirm that I am not a gay-basher but rather an admirer of Turing.) Homosexuality, if it does have a biological basis as some say, does pose a problem for human evolution via natural selection. Attempts have been made to explain this with group selection theory, altruism theory, etc. but this all boils down to special pleading (required if these things a priori cannot have a supernatural basis) and obviously does violence to the principle of parsimony. Occam’s shaving hand trembles in the grave. Compare this scientistic explanatory attempt with the first chapters of St. Paul to the Romans. In Romans we see a superior class of explanation for homosexuality, that by the way can be read as being very sympathetic to the plight of gays. One might even be lead to ask the question of why homosexuality might have a biological (i.e., inherent) basis.

    Regarding teleology, how can natural selection be both random, acting to locally direct evolution, and yet leave fauna after fauna with the appearance of global direction because of the closeness of the convergences? This I believe is the point that Conway Morris tries to make in Life’s Solution. The placental and Australian (marsupial) moles have a degree of similarity that seems strange even after considering their similar habitats. If this was an isolated case it could be thought of as a curious coincidence. But Conway Morris provides case after case after case of this type of similarity, and uses this to build his argument for inevitibility contra Gould’s contingency.

    Ken Cope should read GK Chesterton’s chapter on the War of the Demons and the Gods in Everlasting Man. As supernatural beings, demons can be driven away but they cannot be destroyed, at least not by humans. I have one of Garrett Hardin’s (“Tragedy of the Commons”) bookplates. It shows Hardin with a demon behind him wrapping its tendril around his writing arm as Hardin writes. This is reminiscent of the imp magicians and very creepy. Chesterton recommends avoiding an unhealthy fascination with the demonic. I agree with Chesterton on this point and most others.

    Zeitoun plus convergence equals a very strange and unfamiliar way of looking a the world, at least for us moderns. The naturalistic evolutionary view of the world is sailing away on a Viking funeral ship, blazing on fire to oblivion.

    Corrections/addenda:

    Chesterton called it a ” choking cataract of evidence”

    Urantia does believe in God and Jesus in addition to aliens.

    I actually like Elvis’s music. Anyone who can inspire the Japanese Prime Minister to go to Graceland and imitate Elvis by singing in front of the President of the United States has earned my grudging admiration.

  103. #103 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 2, 2006

    Zinger,
    Let me see if I can make some replies.

    “No one really knows where to draw the line between science and non-science.”

    Yes and no.

    Science itself (ie the working scientists, who usually doesn’t care much about the inner workings of science as a method) often has to do these decisions, and makes them well.

    Philosophers doesn’t do too well, OTOH, as the methods of science and science itself is a diverse and complicated subject. But in a recent thread some philosophers made suggestions consistent with the science view ( http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/06/laudan_demarcat.html ). You can especially note Keith Douglas who mentions a set of criteria by Bunge.

    “As we see with Zeitoun the fraud explanation is not working very well (not working at all, in fact)”

    The meaning of a null hypothesis is that it stands until refuted.

    “if you say that “not only is the simplest explanation natural, it is the only causally allowed” then you are making a religious, rather than a scientific statement.”

    Science is about observations of phenomena and theories involving observable objects. There are no assumptions a priori. However, during the centuries knowledge from its successes in methods, observations and theories has build a solid ground that is called (the a posteriori) methodological naturalism. Causation is a solid fact by observation and theory.

    The supernatural was not excluded a priori, and it been shown that it is incompatible with causation – it can be used to show anything, and is therefore also bad theory. There is nothing religious about the process how science come to exclude the supernatural.

    “Norsewoman St. Briget of Sweden”

    I think you mean St Birgitta of Sweden, who was from Sweden, not Norway.

    “I am using the term evolutionism in the modern sense of a worldview that denies the existence of the supernatural, and attributes everything to the agency of naturalistic evolutionary processes.”

    As I said above, it is the conclusion of the whole enterprise of science and specifically physics that supernatural phenomena has never been observed, is incompatible with science today, and is unusable within science. Evolution had nothing to do with this. I guess I’m saying that I don’t see a definition here.

    “Coulter argues in her first chapter that if naturalistic evolution (with a heavy emphasis on natural selection) is all that its supporters say it is, then human homosexuality poses a real theoretical problem for evolution.”

    Well, already sexuality is a problem for evolution. Specifically the evolution and benefit of sexes is an open question, with several theories but I believe no definite main model yet. This is also true for homosexuality. In humans, as in the other 450 known vertebrates with homosexuals ( http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/06/the_gay_animal_kingdom.php?page=all&p=y ), sexuality and homosexuality is complicated due to culture. The nature vs nurture debate. The best we can say is that homosexual behaviour is normal in higher vertebrates.

    That there is scientific debates poses no problems for science, it is the normal state of affairs. If there were no results done, Coulter would have a point. But as it is, she hasn’t.

    “Regarding teleology, how can natural selection be both random, acting to locally direct evolution, and yet leave fauna after fauna with the appearance of global direction because of the closeness of the convergences?”

    There are indeed several cases of appearance of global directions. Sexuality and homosexuality are noted above as is their special theories, intelligence and convergence are others. The two later I believe is explained by evolution exploring functional and ecological niches. Ie, intelligence is useful adaptations as eyes and arms, so that functional ‘niche’ will be explored sooner or later. The same goes for ecological niches, which would explain convergent solutions in different places. However, I’m not a biologist, so you have to take these pointers for what they are, remembered sketches of biological theories.

    “The naturalistic evolutionary view of the world is sailing away on a Viking funeral ship, blazing on fire to oblivion.”

    That suggestion has nothing to do with the real world, there the theory of evolution is considered to be one of the major established and fruitful science theories there are. Ravings and rants, such as Coulters, strengthen the secular view of science since it shows the foolishness and dangers of the fundamentalistic view.

  104. #104 Ken Cope
    July 2, 2006

    Torbjörn, your summary is appreciated.

    I don’t see the need to dwell further on the medievalist cargo cultist flinging feces at the half-silvered glass separating us. No candle can dispel the imaginary incubi and succubi swarming in that demon-haunted world, yet we’re the ones regarded as denizens of Bedlam.

    “Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion.”

    Hobbes

    “It’s psychosomatic. You need a lobotomy. I’ll get a saw.”

    Calvin

  105. #105 fulldroolcup
    July 3, 2006

    I suppose I’m one of the few here who actually enjoys Coulter’s over-the-top comments in the political realm. I think most of “Godless” is a hoot, a spot-on indictment of many liberals’ hypocrisy and intellectual incoherence. Yeah, she’s abrasve, and yes, she sometimes goes over the top. But what’s the difference between her saying that she wishes some Supreme Court justice were dead, for example, than the thousands on Daily Kos, HuffPoo and MoveOn.org who equate Bush with Hitler, who say he “lied” about WMD in Iraq, and so on?

    But I also think Coulter’s screed against Evolution is completely whack. She is in waaaaaaay over her head, and it really shows.

    For starters, Darwinism isn’t per se atheistic. Pope John Paul found nothing in it that necessarily denied the existence of God; to Pope JP Darwinism could easily be a description of how God works through Nature. Sure, atheists can point to Darwin as more “proof” that God does not exist, but does anyone really think they need a DArwin to make their case? Does anyone really think that Darwinism necessarily makes all religious belief obsolete? I’d like to hear what Buddhists or Hindus would make of that line of thinking.

    Secondly, liberals aren’t the only people who find Darwinism offering the most comprehensive answer as to how life on earth changed over billions of years. Scratch the surface and you’ll find conservative scientists in all sorts of fields, and most will agree that ID is essentially a crock, freighted as it is with the premise that ” Structure X is so complicated that God, not evolution over eons, must have created it.” That’s a classic fallacy, the “argument from ignorance”. Just because Darwinism can’t yet explain the flagellum’s evolutionary history, doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t ever explain it. An incomplete theory is not necessarily a false theory.

    What’s at work here is analogous to conservative talkshow host Laura Ingraham’s lament that entertainers like Bruce Springsteen or the Dixie Chicks don’t just “Shut up and Sing”. Fine entertainers they may be, but their political views are often very childish, and their fans, who come from across the political spectrum, pay money for entertainment not political rants.

    In Coulter’s case I looked forward to her waspish comments on liberal idiocy, as I see it. But then she went and spoiled it by wandering from her expertise and tacking on chapters of utter rubbish about Darwinism. By doing so she just armed her opponents with the fallacious argument that since she knows squat about science she necessarily knows squat about liberals and their Belief System. To her I would say “Just shut up and stick to polemics on politics!”

  106. #106 Zinger123
    July 4, 2006

    Torbjörn, fulldrool, Cope,

    Bravo, we are getting some real thinking here.

    Torbjörn, your view of science is as follows: Science does not accept evidence for the supernatural, thus the supernatural does not exit, thus science does not accept evidence for the supernatural, thus the supernatural does not exit, ad nauseum. Please explain to me how this closed circle of illogic has anything in common with real critical thought.

    The bacterial flagellum poses no challenge to Darwinian theory; it is an evolutionary derivative of the type III secretory system. Sexuality in general is indeed a challenge, but not insurmountable with the help of symbiogenesis theory. Demonstrating that homosexuality is in any sense normal is a probably insurmountable challenge for Darwinian theory.

    I share fulldrool’s amusement with Coulter’s liberal-bashing rants. But should she stay away from evolutionary theory? No, absolutely not, this is where she could be most helpful.

    John Paul II the Great was not an evolutionist. In his masterpiece Theology of the Body he sharply contrasts evolutionism/Darwinism with what he rightly called “authentic anthropology.” JPII is great because he really was among the first to grasp this crucial distinction. He was a brilliant man, but even he may have needed supernatural help with understanding things, and perhaps he received this as a consequence of his complete Marian devotion.

    The creationists have gotten much better in recent days, and Coulter is in a position to popularize this. If I rocked your world with Zeitoun, try this:

    http://www.hlfallout.net/%7Ejosh/apparent_age.pdf

    Klose’s analysis is closely argued. Before you dismiss it out of hand, look carefully at the structure of his argument. He is making a clear and honest attempt to parse out the implications of the existence of the supernatural, something that secular scientists refuse to do. Klose tangles himself up at the end, and feels the need to impute to God apparent miracles (origin of life) in order to be in accord with a prochronic apparent history. But rather than rendering the analysis nonsense it is rather testimony to the intellectual successes that are piling up for the creationists. Klose but no cigar? Or reality as a six day creation? We are entering very interesting intellectual times.

  107. #107 American_Angst
    July 5, 2006

    In my opinion, the best way to handle “MizCee” (to use SkookumPlanet’s reference — I’m not gonna give her a free Google hit) is to have someone on the Left (preferable an entertainer like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or Al Franken) challenge her to a debate on various topics on prime-time TV. Now that would be fun!

    If she were to decline, she looks bad/weak not wanting to defend the drivel she spouts. If she accepts, then we get to enjoy the can o’ whoop-ass that would be opened up on her by any intelligent opponent. I would imagine the ratings for such an event would be impressive (and hopefully expose the right-wingers in the process).

    For we all know that the only “power” the far-right talking heads have is due to controlled delivery of the message. No rebuttals or intelligent counter-viewpoints are allowed real-time.

  108. #108 stevie_nyc
    July 5, 2006

    Coulter is as constructive to political discourse as zinger and drooler are to debates on evolution.

    Has Zinger officially taken the PZ challenge to defend the science in her book?

  109. #109 Zinger123
    July 8, 2006

    I will only defend what is defensible. Coulter embraces Bell Curve conclusions and argues that liberals run away from these putative scientific hard facts. Let’s ponder this for a moment. It represents a conservative slur on the intelligence of non-white and/or non-asian races and is itself a most dangerous form of evolutionism. The familiar fallacy is as follows: if you are not as smart as we are, then you are unworthy (unfit) to live with us or to live at all. Time to seal the border with Mexico. Once again from the right, we see an unholy alliance between an implicit evolutionism and Social Darwinism, only this time with the denial that evolution ever happened!

    When you set IQ data in the context of the whole person or group, you can begin to approach the authentic anthropology that JPII wrote about in Theology of the Body. A conclusion that should be drawn from this is that there are no master races. Groups that swallowed the master race fallacy 70 years ago on a large scale (white Europeans, Japanese) are now having trouble keeping their birth rates up. There is great irony in this. He said it best who said that the meek shall inherit the earth.

  110. #110 Caledonian
    July 8, 2006

    Science does not accept evidence for the supernatural, thus the supernatural does not exit, thus science does not accept evidence for the supernatural, thus the supernatural does not exit, ad nauseum. Please explain to me how this closed circle of illogic has anything in common with real critical thought.

    Wrong. By science’s definition, there can be no evidence for supernatural events because all events are necessarily natural.

    If evidence of a phenomenon previously thought to be supernatural is found, science will recognize its existence — as an aspect of the natural world.

  111. #111 Zinger123
    July 11, 2006

    Caledonian and my fellow bloggers,

    We have differing views of science, as follows:

    Your Science: A philosophy that assumes that all event are necessarily natural.

    My Science: A valuable set of methodological tools, particularly useful for determining what is supernatural and what is natural.

    Let’s consider the case of the boiling blood of St. Januarius in Naples:

    http://www.cicap.org/en_artic/at101014.htm

    Natural science is going to be really useful in determining whether or not this represents a natural or supernatural event.

    Science can also examine the tears and blood that are cried out of those Catholic statues of the Virgin Mary. The Italian skeptics are working on this but they would I think honestly admit that they are stumped, although they are not above special pleading as in the case of the crying image of Our Lady of Syracuse. I sincerely wish that we could quell the sound of axe grinding and really listen to what these facts are telling us.

    Fact 1. Blood and tears appear on the crying Catholic statues.

    Fact 2. The best attested of these reports are neither fakes nor hoaxes.

    Conclusion: Human blood and tears can materialize out of nowhere.

    Corollary: Operation of all natural laws can be suspended without notice.

    Anyone who cannot accept these two facts, plus one conclusion and a corollary, is living a delusion. I apologize for being harsh, but that means you my Godless liberal friends. I understand the motivations for your fantasy, but is your philosophical perspective really worth the risk considering that you are flying in the face of the evidence? As I mentioned earlier, science is a gravely deficient religion.

    I predict that Caledonian’s science will never recognize statues crying blood as a natural event, will never adequately explain the tears, and will, after a period of wholesome scientific scrutiny, will continue to attempt to come up with increasingly fanciful and non-parsimonious explanations in order to defend the scientism philosophy. We can do better. Join me in a journey to the truth–far more interesting than fallacies. You may have to give something up, for as Al Gore put it so well, the truth can appear inconvenient at times.

  112. #112 unanswered
    August 15, 2006

    I saw the below elsewhere and found it to be interesting. The author seems to be suggesting that while things do indeed evolve they don’t ever gain DNA “information” therefore they can’t possibly come from one common ancestor or single cell. I’m interested in hearing responses to this and to links elsewhere that discuss this in more detail.

    Thanks

    The real issue in biological change is all about what happens at the DNA level, which concerns information. The information carried on the DNA, the molecule of heredity, is like a recipe, a set of instructions for the manufacture of certain items.

    Evolutionists teach that one-celled organisms (e.g. protozoa) have given rise to pelicans, pomegranates, people and ponies. In each case, the DNA ‘recipe’ has had to undergo a massive net increase of information during the alleged millions of years. A one-celled organism does not have the instructions for how to manufacture eyes, ears, blood, skin, hooves, brains, etc. which ponies need. So for protozoa to have given rise to ponies, there would have to be some mechanism that gives rise to new information.

    Evolutionists hail natural selection as if it were a creative goddess, but the reality (which they invariably concede when pressed) is that selection on its own always gets rid of information, never the opposite. To have a way to add information, the ‘only game in town’ for evolution’s true believers is genetic copying mistakes or accidents, i.e. random mutations (which can then be ‘filtered’ by selection). However, the problem is that if mutations were capable of adding the information required, we should see hundreds of examples all around us, considering that there are many thousands of mutations happening continually. But whenever we study mutations, they invariably turn out to have lost or degraded the information. This is so even in those rare instances when the mutational defect gives a survival advantage–e.g. the loss of wings on beetles on windy islands.

    All theories have problems in that they cannot be proven to be absolutely correct, they do not necessarily accurately describe the way things really are. They are constructed as a working model that is a useful aid to our understanding, of observed phenomenon and as a method of predicting future outcomes. When a theory is found to be wrong, it is either discarded, or as is more generally the case, modified, until it again appears to match the observations. A theory, no matter how well it appears to accurately describe any phenomenon, is provisional, it can never be proven to be completly correct, but it may be proven wrong. It will therefore always be impossible to claim a final theoretical solution to anything.

    Advances in chemistry are unraveling the chemical structure of DNA and other complex biological molecules. Until the connection between various species (and even individuals) are determined by chemical analysis of the molecules that define “species” and “individuals” within species, I will remain highly skeptical. This “theory” has far to many holes and multiple missing links.

  113. #113 PZ Myers
    August 15, 2006

    To have a way to add information, the ‘only game in town’ for evolution’s true believers is genetic copying mistakes or accidents, i.e. random mutations (which can then be ‘filtered’ by selection). However, the problem is that if mutations were capable of adding the information required, we should see hundreds of examples all around us, considering that there are many thousands of mutations happening continually. But whenever we study mutations, they invariably turn out to have lost or degraded the information.

    Your source is simply lying.

    We see mutations all the time that ‘add information’. Translocations and duplications are common phenomena that we do see happening continually, and they increase the amount of genetic material. Anyone who throws out genetic terms as that person does while demonstrating such abysmal ignorance of the basic molecular processes is a fraud.

    What was your source, by the way?

  114. #114 unanswered
    August 15, 2006

    I’m not certain whom the author is I saw it a post on a yahoo board. If you would like I can attempt to look through my bookmarks and find the original post. I’ve been reading a good deal about evolution and this is just one more step in my attempt to gather as much information as possible.

    Your source is simply lying.

    We see mutations all the time that ‘add information’. Translocations and duplications are common phenomena that we do see happening continually, and they increase the amount of genetic material. Anyone who throws out genetic terms as that person does while demonstrating such abysmal ignorance of the basic molecular processes is a fraud.

    Would you please be so kind as to point my to some references that discuss and show these mutations that have been shown to add information as well as the common phenomena you mention. I’d like to read more on the topic.

  115. #115 Rezzo
    August 17, 2006

    Hello all this is my first time posting here, but I linked here and found some of the posts interesting.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on anything or even know what the hell im talking about most of the time, but I feel like typing at the moment. And please pardon the fact that this post isn’t directly related to the original post.

    Zinger123
    I am curious about some of your posts and would like to ask a question regarding your mentioning of Zeitoun, boiling blood of St. Januarius in Naples, and tears and blood that are cried out of those Catholic statues of the Virgin Mary.

    You refered to the sightings and photographs of the “Zeitoun” as a “phenomenon,” and I can only assume you take the “boiling blood” and “tears and blood” as the same thing. Some people call them “signs” you call them “phenomenon.” Since it seems that you take these as “proofs” of a God, Gods, ID, or of them being at least religous in nature, I was curious if you could give me your opinion of what these “signs” are supposed to be “saying” to the people that witness them? What is the meaning and or purpose of a “sign,” or the “phenomenons” you listed?

    I’m normally not the fastest person when it comes to checking replies and posting, but I’ll try my best to check for a reply asap.

  116. #116 Foobear
    August 23, 2006

    All of your statements are wrong, but I’m not going to waste my time answering them one by one, as it would create a post 10 times as long as your article. If you’d like, you can do a search on creationism, which turned up 10 million hits on Google, which obviously means it is much more right than your measly 150,000 articles search on PubMed.

    (Yes, I’m tongue in cheek, but I’m also pointing out that your (invalid) argument style can be used to prove anything is true.)

  117. #117 Charles W. Brown, Ph.D.
    November 15, 2006

    Ann Coulter is an example of one of the ways by which extremist right wing Christians attempt to control the minds of the mentally challanged and the ignorant. If she truly believes what she is saying, then she is one of the blind attempting to lead the blind.

  118. #118 w michael trout
    November 19, 2006

    ann coulter is a whore. ignorant, stupid, and butt ugly. she doesn’t deserve any more attention than she’s got already.

  119. #119 Neal
    February 22, 2007

    Name calling and listing thousands of resources of evolutionary propaganda are still not scientific evidence. I would have been more impressed by your article if you had simply listed one piece of scientific evidence, that is a reproducible experiment that supports evolution per the scientific method. Since most of the evidence claimed for evolution is merely observational vs experimental, evolution is at best weak science and at worst a belief system like religion, as I suspect Ann Coulter was trying to point out (though I have not read her book). Stick to the evidence, if you have any, and skip the name calling.

  120. #120 Ichthyic
    February 22, 2007

    Name calling and listing thousands of resources of evolutionary propaganda are still not scientific evidence.

    see, now, that’s the problem. No matter what we show you, you will automatically dismiss it as propaganda.

    otherwise, you ALREADY could have simply done a search of google, or pubmed, or current contents, and found exactly what you say doesn’t exist quite easily.

    the real question is, why should anyone bother with the willfully blind?

    you should get that projection of yours checked out by a qualified mental health care professional.

  121. #121 Ichthyic
    February 22, 2007

    Would you please be so kind as to point my to some references that discuss and show these mutations that have been shown to add information as well as the common phenomena you mention. I’d like to read more on the topic.

    just go to google scholar and do a search on “gene duplication”.

    there have been dozens of interesting studies involving this over just the last few years, though there are literally hundreds of articles on the subject.

  122. #122 ichthyic
    February 22, 2007

    …in fact, if you look back a day or so, I think PZ even covered the topic of gene duplication in a different post.

  123. #123 Ichthyic
    February 22, 2007

    Advances in chemistry are unraveling the chemical structure of DNA and other complex biological molecules.

    uh, you’re a few dozen years behind the times.

    not surprising, given the content of your post.

  124. #124 Ichthyic
    February 22, 2007

    but the reality (which they invariably concede when pressed)

    oooh, gotta call you on that one.

    references, please?

    why do these idiots insist that the stuff they pull out of their ass is somehow “undeniable truth”?

    are they really all as messed up as this person?

  125. #125 Ichthyic
    February 22, 2007

    Your Science: A philosophy that assumes that all event are necessarily natural.

    no, that’s your PROJECTION of scientists, not science itself.

    and you wonder why people throw eggs at you.

  126. #126 Madpiper
    March 27, 2007

    Holy crap I’m overwhelmed by the intelligence on this thread (cough). God bless you all. Personally I believe there is a God, and I also believe in evolution to an extent. I believe in evolution in the sense that a species can evolve to help increase its chances of survival. I do not beleive in evolution as an explanation for the origins of life. It’s a question of microevolution vs. macroevolution. Darwin himself confessed his inability to explain how a simple organism without an organ can suddenly grow one. It can’t happen, and that is purely scientific.
    Besides, I’ve had too many personal experiences to confirm there is a God that answer prayers. Extremists on any side of an issue freak me out, and there seems to be quite a few on this thread. Lay off those paint chips!!!

  127. #127 Steve_C
    March 27, 2007

    Wow that was really really… pointless.

    Abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing.

    Go read a book on the subject.

  128. #128 Francesca
    August 22, 2007

    Anytime the left hears something they don’t want to hear it is ipso fact “ignorant.”

  129. #129 Francesca
    August 22, 2007

    Gee let’s see Myers, (Mr. Argument from Authority) is so smart and Ann Coulter soooo ignorant and gee it would just be so much trouble for him and so beneath him to really dispute her at length. . . . Wow, it’s saying a lot that I instantly see through and dislike Myers, deeply.

  130. #130 Francesca
    August 22, 2007

    As to an early posting, neither the left nor the neo cons have any right to be quoting Orwell at this point.

  131. #131 Steve_C
    August 22, 2007

    Not too bright are you.

    Are you defending Coulter’s tripe or do you really not know what’s wrong with her argument?

  132. #132 Francesca
    August 22, 2007

    Actually “underargo,” The left has been treating conservatives like you treated “atomic boy” for decades. Ann Coulter has turned the tables on them and given them a taste of their own medicine. And boy are they whining vicious wimps about taking it. (kind of like cornerned animals baring their teeth.) How do you live with yourself for this disingenuous manipulation, after all you’re too “smart” but “cool” for it not to be deliberate.

    As to Myers, (Mr. argument from authority [borrowed or his own]) I am sure that there were inundations of writing from “authorities” in favor of, or, more honestly, ENFORCEMENT of eugenics, the belief that the sun circled the earth and that the Earth was flat. This is just glorified peer pressure and bullying dressed up in professionalism. How dare ordinary people think independently and use common sense, when scientists know better.

    As for this very put upon Tiktaalik, Myers, if you had actually read her book, which is so very far beneath your superior intellect, you would know that she has thoroughly debunked it as legitimate evidence AND shown how scientists have lied about and manipulated such “evidence.” She very convincingly debunks other dishonest proofs of evolution as well.

    More to the point why is anyone so intolerant of questioning evolution or seeing it only as one theory. What is the fear?

    I am still wincing at Myers’ mention of Scientist activists ever ready in Orwellian fashion to quash any persons postulating heresies against politically correct science. And to be the type of person who could praise such an effort in all out sincerty-I shudder for the future of free thought and truly open exploration.

  133. #133 Francesca
    August 22, 2007

    Wow I’ve finally skimmed through this whole page and it’s nothing but endless rationalizationg for why you cannot, here and now, provide one piece of evidence for evolution. (As Big Daddy pointed out with refreshing common sense.) But you can keep on endlessly referring to websites and other authorites for mountains of evidence because you want to intimidate us into believing your case is so legitimate and coulter’s isn’t. Now this is a mind boggling example of the leftist prevarication Coulter talks about. What is the name for this debaiting falacy, I wonder: evasion? passing the buck?

  134. #134 Steve_C
    August 22, 2007

    It’s called SCIENCE you dimwit!

  135. #135 George Cauldron
    August 22, 2007

    Gee let’s see Myers, (Mr. Argument from Authority) is so smart and Ann Coulter soooo ignorant and gee it would just be so much trouble for him and so beneath him to really dispute her at length. . . . Wow, it’s saying a lot that I instantly see through and dislike Myers, deeply.

    Aw, poor widdle Francesca. Looks like we hurt her widdle feelings. And we were SO depending on her liking us!

    As for this very put upon Tiktaalik, Myers, if you had actually read her book, which is so very far beneath your superior intellect, you would know that she has thoroughly debunked it as legitimate evidence

    Ann Coulter: biologist and all-around scholar. Is there anything that woman can’t do?

    Francesca, since Ann’s right, and all the other scientists are wrong, do you think we can get Ann to agree to quit her pundit job and replace all the lefty scientists? Since Ann is such a genius, certainly she’s the only scientist America needs, no?

  136. #136 Francesca
    August 22, 2007

    Yes, “Steve” I am saying something you don’t like-and apparently not dumbed down enough for you-so I must somehow be dumb. Is that all you have? Because unprovoked ad hominem attacks are the first sign that your opponent is unprepared for and losing a debate.

    I think my main point was that, from his incredibly smug condescending start, Myer’s approach is suspicious and predictable.

    It must be a really nice lazy time to just go around anonymously calling people you disagree with stupid-forming clear thoughts is so much trouble.

  137. #137 Rey Fox
    August 22, 2007

    “Now this is a mind boggling example of the leftist prevarication Coulter talks about. ”

    Yes, providing references and pointing to information gathered by many hundreds of people is SO leftist. Tell me, Francesca, how do YOU verify claims? If you can wave away all that information that PZ linked to (by “skimming” the page, how intellectually rigorous of you), then obviously you don’t put much stock in evidence. Do you believe Ann Coulter because she strokes your ego? Tells you that you are smarter than scientists despite never having studied any of the science? Is it because she appears on lots of TV shows and just sounds so danged sure of herself?

  138. #138 PZ Myers
    August 22, 2007

    I’ll tell you what, Francesca. I made a specific challenge to Coulter fans over a year ago: pick out one paragraph in the part of the book that criticizes evolution, tell me that you agree with her, and then I’ll dissect the argument. I’ve been waiting since June 2006. None of you have made even that much of a commitment.

  139. #139 Stanton
    August 22, 2007

    I can not trust the mental faculties of a person, woman or otherwise, who alleges that the widows of men killed in the 9/11 tragedies are dancing on the graves of their husbands.
    Furthermore, there are literally millions of catalogued evidence of evolution. I don’t remember Miss Coulter debunking the descent of Asian and North American brontotheres in her book, nor do I recall her debunking the documented lineages of trilobites.
    In fact, I don’t recall Francesca debunking the documented lineages of either groups.
    Furthermore, one of the reasons why Professor Myers and other scientists are so vigorous in the defense of Evolutionary Biology is because Creationists want to replace it with religious crapseudoscience, and the alleged non-creationist “evolution critics” never bother suggesting how to replace Evolutionary Biology once “debunked” beyond the occasional nudge-nudge-wink-wink to Creationism.

  140. #140 Stanton
    August 22, 2007

    Tell me, Francesca, how do YOU verify claims?

    Francesca verifies claims by trusting Ann Coulter to specifically tell him/her exactly what claims to trust.

  141. #141 Kseniya
    August 22, 2007

    Stanton: Exactly!

    How interesting to rant about taking things on authority, and in the next breath, speak confidently about how Ann Coulter – Ann Coulter! – has “debunked” so much evidence that exists in support of evolution.

    File Coulter under “Not even wrong”. She’s a layperson who says things like “It’s just a theory!” as if that means something. And yet Francesca takes Coulter’s word ON AUTHORITY.

    (The irony… it burns…)

    Francesca, go back and read the first paragraph of this blog entry, and then tell us again, if you can, how utterly certain you are that PZ has no clue whatsoever about what might be in Coulter’s screed book on the topic of Tiktaalik rosae. Consider it an opportunity to take the high road.

  142. #142 Steve_C
    August 22, 2007

    She doesn’t even know what ad hom means.

    I’m calling you a dimwit because of your apparently lack of wit and knowledge, not inspite of it.

    Ann doesn’t have an argument. She has ignorance and lies. But if you think that’s enough, we won’t be surprised. It’s how the conservatives work.

    You do know that PZ is a biologist and… well… Ann isn’t.

  143. #143 George Cauldron
    August 22, 2007

    Typical of those libs to think that a biologist would OF COURSE know more about biology than a rightwing pundit with no training in biology. How elitist!

  144. #144 George Cauldron
    August 22, 2007

    Francesca:

    “Because unprovoked ad hominem attacks are the first sign that your opponent is unprepared for and losing a debate.”

    Ad hominems?

    Okay:

    Francesca:
    “And boy are they whining vicious wimps about taking it. “

    At least TRY and be internally consistent, Francesca.

  145. #145 Carlie
    August 22, 2007

    Seriously? People have nothing better to do than scan through old posts to find things to troll about? Get with it, Francesca, you could be griping about any current posts that might actually get some more attention.

    Actually, I see that since PZ reiterated his challenge to pick a single paragraph she agrees with, Francesca has disappeared. Typical. I predict that if she comes back after dinner, she will complain about how mean scientists are and how great Coulter is, but will never, ever produce that magical single paragraph she agrees with.

  146. #146 Kseniya
    August 22, 2007

    She can’t be, George. The Coultergeist has corrupted her soul. She now thinks she’s justified in spewing whatever vitriolic excess she chooses to spew because, well, you know… she’s a victim, and it’s a victim’s right to strike back!

    Having no sense of history doesn’t help. Remember the infamous memo authored by Gingrich twenty-some years ago, advocating the adoption of demonizing and pathologizing language whenever Liberalism, Liberals, The Democratic Party, or the Left was the topic? Remember the poll that yielded “The Democrat Party” as the most effectively pejorative corruption of the adjective “Democratic”? Remember twenty years of Limbaugh, a rich and privileged man, stirring up resentments in the “disenfranchised” conservative population against liberalism and against such horrors as public funding of “benefits for others” such as infrastructure maintenance, health care, and public services?

    Ah, but it’s Coulter, the unimpeachable Coulter, who’s the golden avenging angel with the acid tongue and the terrible swift sword, taking vengeance for all the degradation and humiliation visited upon the hapless Right by evil “socialist” “terrorist-sympathiser” “elitists” like you and me, George! I’m almost ashamed to call myself an American.

    Almost.

  147. #147 airborneLt
    February 27, 2008

    What a bunch of narrow minded, intolerant, wretches you are. First of all evolution does not disprove God as much as you would like to think it does. Secondly, we can all see evidence of species evolving, but Darwin’s theory of evolution asserts that species sprang into being from random mutation and natural selection – how patently absurd. What is the mathematical possibility that our minds, hands, eyes, feet, organs et al evolved from bacteria? Randomly?

    That would take a MIRACLE!

    Hmmmmmm. What might produce something we could only explain as miraculous?

    I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

    I am not religious, though I do believe in God and I am certainly Christian. The last time I attended church was for a funeral. I left organized religion because of the rampant hypocrisy. I have a Master’s Degree in Information Systems and Engineer software for a living – so you cannot assume we who are open to competing theories are knuckle dragging, intellectually inferior, right-wing religious nuts.

    You simply have to be objective and intelligent enough to realize that human history is full of “facts” that mankind “knew” to be “true”, that turned out to be false. With this kind of track record, how arrogant is it for anyone to claim they have nailed it this time without empirical evidence.

    Take the theory of global warming. Some claim they “know” the earth is warming up and it’s caused by man. In the last three days, the weather forecast for Sunday has changed three times. Snow. No snow. 50 degrees and rain, 38 degrees and sleet, 41 degrees and dry. These idiots can’t nail down the forecast for this Sunday, but they want me to believe we will all be underwater in 2050 if I don’t sell my SUV and ride a bike to work.

    Give me a break.

    Believe what you want, I couldn’t care less. But stop shoving your crap down my throat and the throats of my children in order to advance your political/social agenda. We prefer to be a little more open minded and tolerant of diverse points of view in my family.

  148. #148 negentropyeater
    February 27, 2008

    airborneLt,

    1. when you say “how patently absurd”, what makes you say this ?
    2. when you talk of mathematical impossibility, have you really calculated it, studied it in details, or are you just repeating things you have heard ?

    You are right to say that the theory of Evolution doesn’t disprove the existence of God, so why do you feel the need to attack it with such unfounded arguments. Open up your mind, take the time to study, and then you’ll see for yourself if what you say is granted or not.

  149. #149 mattmc
    February 27, 2008

    Damn man, thanks for stopping by on a long dead thread to exhibit your ignorance. I can only respond to the steaming pile of stupid that you just typed by repeating your own words (after picking up the pieces of my irony detector which exploded upon my reading of what follows):

    “Believe what you want, I couldn’t care less. But stop shoving your crap down my throat and the throats of my children in order to advance your political/social agenda. We prefer to be a little more open minded and tolerant of diverse points of view in my family.”

  150. #150 negentropyeater
    February 27, 2008

    BTW, airborneLt, if you can provide a link, to the mathematical calculations you are refering to, that would be great. Maybe that would serve as basis for a discussion. Or are you at all interested in a discussion ? Or just making rethorical statements ?

  151. #151 True Bob
    February 27, 2008

    Odds of humans evolving the features they have: 1:1

    My irony meter exploded at
    “You simply have to be objective and intelligent enough to realize that human history is full of “facts” that mankind “knew” to be “true”, that turned out to be false. With this kind of track record, how arrogant is it for anyone to claim they have nailed it this time without empirical evidence.”

  152. #152 negentropyeater
    February 27, 2008

    still looking for that calculation, airborneLt ? Take your time, and take your time to try and understand what scientists have to say. Because when you start the process, you will be surprised, to see that your preconceptions were illfounded…
    No harm done !

  153. #153 Ido
    April 28, 2008

    Thank you so much!
    I was listening to The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and your name, PZ, came up. Immediately I stopped listening, hoping that here I will find a long-desired info about evolution and a piece of evidence that evolution did happen to present to my Rabbi. Thank you so much!

  154. #154 Mark
    June 10, 2008

    This is tremendous. I’ve often thought about writing something along these lines but you’ve far exceeded what I would have done.

    Thank you!

  155. #155 Shala
    March 24, 2010

    That seems like a good Anne Coulter impression already, CG Rogers.

    Or at least I assume you were being overly sarcastic.

  156. #156 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 24, 2010

    a fiction invented by godless liberals

    Tell that to Frances Collins and Ken Miller…

  157. #157 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 24, 2010

    Shala, you did note CG Rogers’ post was made in ’09, right? I doubt he/she will be back. 😉

  158. #158 Shala
    March 24, 2010

    Shala, you did note CG Rogers’ post was made in ’09, right? I doubt he/she will be back. 😉

    I just noticed. I mixed up this thread and the current one on Ann Coulter.

    Now I feel silly.

  159. #159 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 24, 2010

    Oh, don’t feel silly! If anyone should, it’s CG the Drive-by, who didn’t happen to notice PZ wrote the post in ’06. 😀 Drive-by’s happen often here, usually when someone is searching something and a Pharyngula post pops up.

  160. #160 Shala
    March 24, 2010

    I honestly couldn’t tell if he was just being sarcastic or not. Poe’s Law, I believe it’s called?

    Thanks for the support. 😀

  161. #161 Caine, Fleur du mal
    March 24, 2010

    Generally speaking, Poe’s can be called here, simply because of the sheer amount of true believers aka chew toys which show up. Poe’s can still be difficult to discern though.

    The amount of chew toys has slowed down a great deal, due to registration requirements these days. There has been a chew toy fest going on in http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/03/sins_of_omission.php#c2376194, with one Daniel Smith being the chew toy. Start around post #450, even though Daniel spouts off before that. That one is still going strong. 🙂

  162. #162 Shala
    March 24, 2010

    Thanks, I’ll be sure to have a look. 🙂

  163. #163 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnaisDIP9w_k_IN1QTEU0WlEWMsteGY0DM
    April 28, 2010

    I tend to agree with AirborneLT who posted above.
    The Darwinists are starting to look more and more like the religious ones in this field, with their absolute refusal to consider any alternatives to their dogma.
    Foremost in this is the universal ridicule of Michael Behe by ‘scientists’, who as far as I’m concerned is winning the argument with his irreducible complexity theory.
    Darwinists are slaves to a paradox: a specie suddenly sprouting an organ which will eventually be a useful complex system, after millions of mutations, but is currently missing most of the parts to that system, would not be in a better survival position than it’s kin without this new crippled partial system.
    You need the whole damn wing, and you need 2 of ’em , they have to be in the right place on your body and they have to work! During those millions of lousy intervening mutations, all you have is an appendage that is weighing you down, making you less likely to survive.
    Tell me where I went wrong.

  164. #164 blf
    April 28, 2010

    Tell me where I went wrong.

    Everywhere.

  165. #165 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 28, 2010

    The Darwinists are starting to look more and more like the religious ones in this field, with their absolute refusal to consider any alternatives to their dogma.

    They are not alternatives. They only way they can be alternatives if they meet rigorous scientific standards. But they most certianly do not.

    I’m concerned is winning the argument with his irreducible complexity theory.
    Darwinists are slaves to a paradox: a specie suddenly sprouting an organ which will eventually be a useful complex system, after millions of mutations, but is currently missing most of the parts to that system, would not be in a better survival position than it’s kin without this new crippled partial system.

    Stupid. Evolution doesn?t fucking just sprouts. It’s not Pokemon. It’s a bunch of little small changes that result in bigger changes. The little small changes are neutral or advantages and then accumulate. Overtime, these can become functional organs. Look up the evolution of the eye.

    You need the whole damn wing, and you need 2 of ’em , they have to be in the right place on your body and they have to work! During those millions of lousy intervening mutations, all you have is an appendage that is weighing you down, making you less likely to survive.

    You got everything wrong. Most mutations are neutral and lingers in a population. They can, over time, accumulate to something beneficial.

    But since you want to advocate “alternatives” why do hang on to your Christian creationist Dogma? I have just as much evidence that Izanagi and Izanami created us.

  166. #166 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 28, 2010

    The part form “I’m concerned… crippled partial system” is not me. That’s a blockquote fail.

  167. #167 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 28, 2010

    Darwinists

    Ignorance is shown with that word. We don’t worship Darwin. He was a brilliant scientist, and a typical man. Trying to trash Darwin does nothing to the science of evolution, or the million or so papers in the peer reviewed scientific literature that provide the evidence for evolution, both directly and indirectly. Trying to pretend science is a cult is a fallacious argument from word one.

    ridicule of Michael Behe

    He isn’t a scientist any more. Anyone who can declare in open court, that books on the immune system and evolution haven’t been written, and the lawyer examining him provides a dozen or so books as physical evidence, making Behe look like a true nitwit. A quick search of Amazon would have cause him not to lie.

    Tell me where I went wrong.

    Believing in imaginary deities, mythical holy books, and idjit preachers.

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