Pharyngula

Salon sucks

Salon has just published their report on Ken Ham’s creation “museum”, by author Gordy Slack, who has just released a book on the Dover trial. I haven’t read the book, although it was on my list to pick up this summer. No more. This was an awful bit of dreck, and I don’t think I could stomach reading a whole book written this way.

It’s dead, credulous reporting. Slack simply blandly reports the contents of the “museum,” and doesn’t offer a single word of criticism, and doesn’t even try to evaluate the accuracy of the claims. The protesters outside the gates are briefly mentioned, but otherwise the article just calls the place “beautiful”, and the words of Ken Ham and Mark Looy and various gullible visitors are unquestioningly quoted to praise it all. Sure, dinosaurs and people lived together; all the predators lived on fruit and vegetables; all the geology on the planet was carved by a single great worldwide flood 4000 years ago. Read it, and you get the impression that having an edifice dedicated to the proposition that all of physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and biology are wrong is perfectly reasonable, and the weirdos are the geeks standing in the rain outside complaining.

I thought the New York Times article was bad…but Salon has sunk to new depths of insipidity. I’ve been a subscriber to Salon since they first started, but this settles it for me—I won’t be resubscribing. This article wasn’t even expressing the usual phony “balance”—it’s biased in favor of creationism all the way through.

For shame, Salon.

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2007

    Review my dad relayed to me from somewhere: Scale of 5s: 4 on art, 5 on propaganda, negative 5 on content.

  2. #2 Joshua
    May 30, 2007

    Man, bummer. I’d love to boycott, but I like Glenn Greenwald’s blog too much. Fortunately, I’m skating by on their site passes, so they aren’t getting any money from me.

    For shame.

  3. #3 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    Yeah, I’ve been one of those loyal subscribers since they first asked for money for it. I might continue to read Greenwald, but that $30 a year will instead be spent on a decent book or two.

    Unless they atone. They damn well better put up something that actually contains some credible analysis of the content of the “museum”, or they’re dead to me.

  4. #4 bigTom
    May 31, 2007

    I can’t recall what their past abomination was, but I decided to NEVER log onto salon. Thats essentially what I’ve done to FauxNews as well (ever since they made Mark Foley a democrat).

  5. #5 Chris Clarke
    May 31, 2007

    This is odd. I know Gordy some, and while he’s not a firebreather in his writing style, he’s also not particularly fond of untruths such as those spread by Ham. I know this: he’s edited my writing when he worked for California Wild magazine, ( formerly published by the California Academy of Sciences, now defunct) and was pretty exacting.

    I’d like to think this got edited from a more acceptable version.

  6. #6 Gerry L
    May 31, 2007

    So glad to see that you are using the correct form of “museum” when you refer to the creation amusement park. Let’s see everyone get on board.

  7. #7 L.A. Parker
    May 31, 2007

    Did you read this bit about Ken Ham and the “lights out” policy at the museum? Hysterical! This guy has been writing some wickedly astute satire!

    http://thestubborncurmudgeon.blogspot.com

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    Gordy Slack??

    more like Gordy Hack.

    still, it seems obvious to me that he was specifically instructed not to put any criticisms at ALL into the piece.

    even the “fair handed” articles at least talked about the criticisms of YEC.

    since he’s NOT a YEC, the only logical explanation is that someone TOLD him to write the article strictly as an expostion on the museum itself, with no judgements as to its authenticity whatsoever.

  9. #9 Bert Chadick
    May 31, 2007

    I posted this on Salon this evening. I don’t think I got quite enough edege to the letter, but the rage still comes through:

    What a load!

    The dewey eyed review of these fascists’ little fantasy land leaves me slack jawed. Beautiful? Sort of like those crappy little Thomas Kinkade cottage “paintings”. The revolting dishonesty of the creation museum, and your uncritical report of the corruption inherent therein makes me reconsider my support of this publication.

    If the Gordy Slack thinks being nice to these anti humanist will somehow make them like liberalism a bit then the author belongs in this fantasy world where science and the beauty of the natural world have no meaning.

    The purpose of this “museum” and its parent organization, “Answers in Genesis” is repeatedly stated in their mission statements. A Christian theocratic regime governing in their god’s name.

    Lies are different from mistakes. A lie is when a person ignores evidence to prove a falsehood. These people are the true enemy of Western Civilization. Our ancestors created the Enlightenment to throw off the chains of the superstition represented by the Creation Museum.

    On the bright side, since gravity is just a theory, just think of the rides they could build.

  10. #10 TO Fife
    May 31, 2007

    At least he did mention . . . “Visitors tempted to enter without paying will be discouraged by armed guards in black state-trooper-like uniforms and attack dogs.”

  11. #11 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    hmm, just to clarify, I too think Salon sucks for obviously requesting and then publishing an article of this type; I just don’t think it necessarily reflects on Slack’s writing skills.

    It does, however, reflect on his ethics.

  12. #12 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    If Slack’s work was hacked by the editors, I’ll be willing to give his book a chance…but that would just mean that I have more reason to end my subscription to Salon.

    Seriously, the article is really bad. I could imagine Ham happily running it in the Answers in Genesis magazine — there isn’t one thing in it that would perturb him. Actually, the only way I could imagine any reporter with a lick of critical faculties allowing this to go through is if AiG had demanded the right to veto any criticism in it in return for giving the writer advanced access.

  13. #13 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    the only way I could imagine any reporter with a lick of critical faculties allowing this to go through is if AiG had demanded the right to veto any criticism in it in return for giving the writer advanced access.

    that seems quite plausible.

  14. #14 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    that seems quite plausible.

    It also seems like irresponsible journalism.

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    …still, the more i think about it, nothing excuses Salon, no matter what.

    If Salon itself negotiated that kind of contract with AIG, then they damned themselves.

    If it was Slacker (man, he must hate his last name), then Salon is still at fault for accepting the article for publication as is.

    yeah, just no getting around it. this is bad journalism no matter how you slice it.

  16. #16 Samnell
    May 31, 2007

    If the reporter agreed to giving that kind of control to any source in exchange for special access, he deserves to be drummed out of the profession. He’s not a reporter; he’s a stenographer. If the editors handed him the assignment with those conditions, he should have refused it. If the editors came out after the fact and eviscerated his copy in such a heavy-handed and slanted manner, he should be screaming it from the rooftops.

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    Is there anybody hanging around here who knows somebody on the editorial staff of Salon, or who knows Slacker personally, and can find out if there indeed was some kind of contract?

    that would be very juicy.

    think how much mileage could be made of that??

    that would be ten times better than any retraction/addendum salon could publish, or Slacker could write.

  18. #18 tim gueguen
    May 31, 2007

    Sad to read this after getting a nice surprise in a CanWest News Service article by Richard Foot on a planned trip next year intended to find the way into the supposed Hollow Earth. Foot actually called the Hollow Earth concept “nutty.”
    http://tinyurl.com/223mw5

  19. #19 none
    May 31, 2007

    OT, but funny:

    http://tinyurl.com/2uhgp8

  20. #20 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    none:

    very old, oft recirculated and regurgitated little diddy.

    still kinda funny, even after the ten thousandth time.

  21. #21 stogie
    May 31, 2007

    Calm down, all of you. You’re presumably all intelligent adults who can form your own conclusions without having some reporter spell them out for you. You know that this fraudulent museum is horseshit. The reporter knows this museum is horseshit. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that at least 99.99% of Salon’s readership knows that the museum is horseshit. So why should Slack waste column inches on telling you what you already know? I think the Slack’s piece is better for the understatement of the place’s creepiness, which came across clearly enough for me.

  22. #22 CalGeorge
    May 31, 2007

    Gordy Slack has been at this for a while. A 1997 Mother Jones article begins this way:

    How has religion held up under the scrutiny of modern science? Not well, according to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who believes the only reason religion is still with us at all is not because it has inherent worth but because it’s as catching and incurable as any virus (see “Religion Is a Virus”). Others beg to differ.

    It’s all downhill from there.

    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1997/11/slack.html?welcome=true

    Hey, God.
    I’m Gordy Slack.
    I’m a hack.
    And I got your back.

  23. #23 beepbeepitsme
    May 31, 2007

    Business is business. Ken Ham’s Creation Museum sells a delusion as effectively as any other advertising used upon the gullible and credulous. Perhaps if you criticize religious advertising, you would need to be critical of all advertising. Where there are no suckers, there is no product to sell.

    Aparts from that cynical diatribe, it is of no surprise to me that the media is not critical of such religious stupidity. The media is shit scared that they will lose business if they dare to criticize popular cultural delusions.

  24. #24 Geoff Arnold
    May 31, 2007

    My feedback to Salon:

    Any journalists left on staff at Salon?

    Hey, guys: I’ve paid for Salon Premium membership from the very beginning because I supported your independent journalistic voice. This bit of Slackware doesn’t qualify as journalism: it’s simply a puff piece. It could have been written by Ken Ham’s PR agency. Where’s the analysis, the context-setting, the critical thinking? If this is the best you can do, don’t bother to renew my subscription.

    — geoffarnold

  25. #25 Kseniya
    May 31, 2007

    Bronze Dog (#1)

    Those ratings came from Lawrence Krauss.

    “It’s really impressive — and it really gives the impression that they’re talking about science at some point.” On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being best, “I’d give it a 4 for technology, 5 for propaganda. As for content, I’d give it a negative 5.”

  26. #26 Richard Harris
    May 31, 2007

    Stogie, you say, “Calm down, all of you. You’re presumably all intelligent adults who can form your own conclusions without having some reporter spell them out for you.”

    But the churches in the USA are full. So there’re plenty of folks out there who aren’t intelligent adults who can form their own conclusions.

  27. #27 EvanT
    May 31, 2007

    My question is:
    WHERE THE HELL ARE THEOLOGISTS!?!
    I mean, real theologists, not televangelists and other such rejects of modern US media frenzy!

    Don’t tell me there’s not a single theologist in the US not protesting for this abomination called “Creation Museum”?! Where are THEY?! Doesn’t it matter to them, that Ham is having their faith torn apart with his idiotic construct? As a christian, I’m not sure if I should be laughing my a** off reading all these reports of this “museum” or weep for the ridicule my US counterparts have to be subjected to because of Ham’s unilateral actions!

  28. #28 Carlie
    May 31, 2007

    Speaking of things that suck, there’s an editorial by Sam Brownback in the NYTimes this morning defending his idiotic stance on creationism here

  29. #29 Steve M.
    May 31, 2007

    I think you’ve really misread the article. Slack’s too subtle, but the end of the piece, in particular, really makes the museum creators and museumgoers look like idiots — “‘I don’t care how long it took to make the Grand Canyon,’ he tells me. ‘It’s not how old it is that matters to me. What matters is being right with God. Darwin’s theory has no God. It can’t be right. I don’t know if this story is truer than Darwin’s theory, but I do know it’s better.'”

  30. #30 John
    May 31, 2007

    http://www.salon.com/news/cookie756.html skips the day pass ad for me.

  31. #31 Ex-drone
    May 31, 2007

    In the picture of Adam and Eve posing in a pond of conveniently waist-high water, Eve’s strategically placed hair is covering a pair of admirable breasts. So, if sex and reproduction did not pre-exist the fall, why is it that God created her with mammary glands?

  32. #32 Palau
    May 31, 2007

    Justin Webb did much the same on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. How much longer are we to be afflicted with this koolaid-drinking meathead as US correspondent?

  33. #33 John Pieret
    May 31, 2007

    Okay, the author (who I don’t know from … er … Adam) didn’t use a bludgeon on Ham & company but does he need to? There was this straightforward statement:

    For generations, paleontologists have shown that dinosaurs and humans never trod the Earth at the same time, that in fact with the exception of birds (modern-day dinosaurs), they never got within 60 million years of each other on the timeline of natural history.

    And quoting this “response” doesn’t sound to me like he was doing the theme park any favors:

    Not so, says Looy. “They all had to exist at the same time because they were all made on the same day. There may not be any fossil evidence showing dinosaurs and people in the same place at the same time. But it is clearly written that they were alive at the same time.”

    And for sly ridicule, it would be hard to top this:

    Eve is holding grape-size, blood-colored fruits in her outstretched hand, offering knowledge of good and evil to a flummoxed-looking Adam. “We’re not sure what kind of fruit it was, but we do know it wasn’t an apple,” says Looy, perhaps to demonstrate the kind of questions the several Ph.D. researchers at the museum are now toiling over in the labs behind the walls of the exhibition space.

    Do any intelligent readers when assessing the place really have to have it spelled out in capital letters when there’s this:

    I strike up a conversation with Tim Shaw, a high school student visiting from Florida. “I don’t care how long it took to make the Grand Canyon,” he tells me. “It’s not how old it is that matters to me. What matters is being right with God. Darwin’s theory has no God. It can’t be right. I don’t know if this story is truer than Darwin’s theory, but I do know it’s better.”

  34. #34 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    No, he didn’t need to use a bludgeon on Ham. What he needed to do is explain in clear, simple terms why and how the “museum” is misleading its attendees. Subtle and sneaky doesn’t do it.

    That quote from a high school student is a perfect example. We know that is a self-indicting statement, but the kid doesn’t (he’s almost certainly sincere), the proponents of the museum don’t, and the creationists don’t. If we use the “f” word, Slack adopted the creationist frame wholesale, but didn’t make any effort to address the problems within the frame — and the whole story is easily read as an endorsement of creationist values.

    Seriously. Ham knows that the sentiments in that last quote are exactly what he wants to encourage.

  35. #35 Julia
    May 31, 2007

    What a sanctimonious load of nonsense, attacking the wrong target. I can’t believe you missed the obvious satire in the article. It’s blatantly tongue in cheek, and highly amusing. Good call on dropping your subscription – if you need everything spelled out for you in capital letters, Salon really isn’t the right site for you.

  36. #36 WCG
    May 31, 2007

    You mentioned Gordy Slack’s book on the Dover trial. I’m not familiar with it, but I picked up Edward Humes’ “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul” not long ago, and it’s an incredible book. That’s probably well known here, but I thought I’d mention it. It’s a fascinating read, and the trial itself is riveting. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. (Note that I’ve only been reading Pharyngula a few months, so I apologize if this is old news.)

  37. #37 LotStreetWiz
    May 31, 2007

    He could have mentioned the court cases showing that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not science.

    If something spouted by your source is highly dubious, you need to have a paragraph saying that reputable scientists know that Creationism is not science and has no scientific basis; rather the opposite.

  38. #38 kitty
    May 31, 2007

    “We’re not sure what kind of fruit it was, but we do know it wasn’t an apple,” says Looy, perhaps to demonstrate the kind of questions the several Ph.D. researchers at the museum are now toiling over in the labs behind the walls of the exhibition space.

    Most of my relatives seem unable to comprehend that the Big Science Museum where I work is a major research institution, not just a place where we build exhibits. No matter how many times I tell them what I do, they always ask something like, “And did you help make any new dioramas?”

    Over Memorial Day weekend, my aunt told me, “The Creation Museum isn’t just boring dusty old exhibits like [where I work] – they do research there, too. So it’s really contributing to society.”

    I thought she was teasing me, but she wasn’t. She thought I should consider applying for a job there, so I could do scientific research without having to believe in evolution and go to hell.

    Sometimes, well-meaning people are really incredibly dumb without being aware of it. This isn’t a topic where “subtle” is the appropriate approach.

  39. #39 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    I normally agree with you, PZ, but here you’re off the mark. The writer clearly knows his readership. He knows that they are intelligent, educated, sophisticated people. He knows that they know this museum is utter nonsense. And he knows that at straightfaced, deadpan “report” will strike them as much funnier than some earnest critique of something that is obviously beneath criticism.

    “We’re not sure what kind of fruit it was, but we do know it wasn’t an apple,” says Looy, perhaps to demonstrate the kind of questions the several Ph.D. researchers at the museum are now toiling over in the labs behind the walls of the exhibition space.”

    Do you not think Slacker was laughing his head off writing this, and that he understood that the readers would get it?

  40. #40 kitty
    May 31, 2007

    Oh, and as for “attacking the wrong target,” this particular aunt of mine considers herself an intellectual, and reads Salon.

  41. #41 Anonymoose
    May 31, 2007

    I dropped my subscription earlier this year. They asked me why and I told them they were too credulous when it comes to religion, and that, in my opinion, undermines their credibility in other areas. If they consistently fail to do basic fact-checking when it comes to something I know a great deal about, what should make me feel they’ve done their homework on topics I’m trying to learn about?

    Screw ’em, I say.

  42. #42 John Pieret
    May 31, 2007

    That quote from a high school student is a perfect example. We know that is a self-indicting statement, but the kid doesn’t (he’s almost certainly sincere), the proponents of the museum don’t, and the creationists don’t.

    Do you think an unsubtle statement by a “Darwinist” that the kid is being stupid is going to change his mind or that of any of the people who think like him? While I haven’t been following the kerfuffel over the “f” stuff, I suppose part of it is figuring out who your target audience is. Are “blinded by the light” types Salon’s likely audience? On the other hand, more thoughtful theists might well find that just seeing the results of Ham’s spam on the ability of young people to think is much more persuasive about the dangers Ham poses if it is presented without the polemics.

    As for myself and my reading habits, I can appreciate both the blunt and the subtle.

  43. #43 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    If he thinks his readers will “get it” when he’s being so delicately ironic, he’s tone deaf. The important point here is that the backers and attendees of this museum are entirely serious and have political and economic clout; they aren’t in on the joke. Mr Slack can chuckle idly over his latte while the people he thinks are so funny continue their demolition of the educational system if he’d like, but I consider that kind of attitude part of the problem.

    This is also not about calling that kid stupid. As I’ve mentioned, I suspect he’s very sincere—but he has been misled. There is nothing in the Salon article to make that kid think there might be something wrong with his claim. And please get your story straight: if you’re going to berate me for wanting to call the kid stupid (which is not true, obviously), don’t defend the article by suggesting that Slack is actually doing a subtle job of mocking the rubes.

  44. #44 Russell
    May 31, 2007

    I agree with Julia and frodo. Perhaps, PZ, your sensitivities are a bit deadened by too frequent teaching of freshman biology? The closing statement by the high school student isn’t just self-incriminating, it is obviously self-incriminating. Had the author added an editorial qualifier, “exhibiting a low regard for truth,” he would have been exhibiting a low regard for his audience’s ability to read.

  45. #45 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    My God, you people are stupid. And getting dumber by the day, it seems. You’re not concerned about rational thought, you only want the position you’ve associated yourselves with to be praised and the one you oppose to be denigrated.

    How the hell did you manage to lower yourselves to the level of the creationists on the subject of one of the best-supported findings of modern science? This “Culture War” has gone to your heads.

    There are plenty of reasons not to concern yourselves with Salon – but you’re ditching them not because of their generally insipid and grotesquely-uninformed content, but because an article highlighting the absurdities of the Creation Museum wasn’t sufficiently obvious for you!

    I’ll bet you consider yourselves “intellectuals”, too.

  46. #46 John Pieret
    May 31, 2007

    There is nothing in the Salon article to make that kid think there might be something wrong with his claim.

    Go back and read what he said … he doesn’t know and doesn’t care if Ham has it right or wrong. How would pointing out that science doesn’t support the notion that T-rexs ate coconuts affect that?

    And please get your story straight: if you’re going to berate me for wanting to call the kid stupid (which is not true, obviously), don’t defend the article by suggesting that Slack is actually doing a subtle job of mocking the rubes.

    Who was berating you? I merely asked why you thought being blunt about his stupidity (or if you don’t like that word, his “blindness” or “credulousness” or any other you’d prefer) was somehow better within the framing issue (that you brought up) than simply presenting what he said?

  47. #47 Christian Burnham
    May 31, 2007

    This is astounding. The article reads exactly like a commercial for AiG.

    Salon has made a concerted effort over the past couple of years to show us that the left gets religion. They don’t seem to understand that a fair portion of their audience have simply outgrown and moved beyond living their lives according to a 2000 year old supernatural story.

    I used to love Salon (yes, I sound like a concern troll). They used to publish outstanding journalism on a near daily basis. I don’t understand what went wrong- but it happened about two years ago. They’ve become the voice for the so-called moderate Dems, with their luke-warm approach to politics and culture and religion.

  48. #48 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    This is astounding. The article reads exactly like a commercial for AiG.

    If PZ had started out by praising the piece’s poker-faced absurdism, wouldn’t you be praising it as well? You tend to agree with whatever position is presented to you, after all.

  49. #49 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    OK, people, one last time: look at the article while pretending your prior knowledge of science is absent. Think about how a creationist would see it. Strip it down to the essentials; what information is actually being communicated by this piece?

    There isn’t one shred of scientific information or any kind of rebuttal presented anywhere. It presumes that we are all wise and knowing people who understand that this “museum” is a collection of lies. But the only way that could be true is if we think the people being quoted don’t actually exist or are actually dishonest actors who are not saying what they think. No criticism, no information, only the opinions of creationists…and you’re arguing it’s OK because you think the writer was smirking as he typed it.

    I think a news article ought to dig a little deeper than the superficial. Maybe Jody Wilgoren was right: reporters aren’t supposed to think.

  50. #50 Christian Burnham
    May 31, 2007

    My God, you people are stupid. And getting dumber by the day, it seems. You’re not concerned about rational thought, you only want the position you’ve associated yourselves with to be praised and the one you oppose to be denigrated.
    How the hell did you manage to lower yourselves to the level of the creationists on the subject of one of the best-supported findings of modern science? This “Culture War” has gone to your heads.
    There are plenty of reasons not to concern yourselves with Salon – but you’re ditching them not because of their generally insipid and grotesquely-uninformed content, but because an article highlighting the absurdities of the Creation Museum wasn’t sufficiently obvious for you!
    I’ll bet you consider yourselves “intellectuals”, too.

    Thanks Cal. for pointing out our stupidity (once again). I realize that you’re the only intellectual here.

    Calm down! I’m teasing you a little, but you could stand to ease up a little.

  51. #51 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    What makes you think that a “fair and balanced” article would convince people? Those dumb enough to take the museum seriously are too dumb to grasp the nuances of reasoned debate.

  52. #52 Christian Burnham
    May 31, 2007

    If PZ had started out by praising the piece’s poker-faced absurdism, wouldn’t you be praising it as well? You tend to agree with whatever position is presented to you, after all.

    You’re a bit of a jerk, aren’t you?

  53. #53 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    I merely asked why you thought being blunt about his stupidity (or if you don’t like that word, his “blindness” or “credulousness” or any other you’d prefer) was somehow better within the framing issue (that you brought up) than simply presenting what he said?

    “Simply presenting what was said.” You are a Wilgoren fan, aren’t you?

    Look, it’s pretty simple. The kid said something about not caring about the truth. He believes that. Millions of American creationists agree completely with that. If you aren’t willing to say the truth matters, and here’s why, then you are siding with that attitude. Reporters who think their job is to be a stenographer are a good part of the problem with journalism today.

    And good grief, I have said it often enough: I don’t think most believers in creationism are stupid, and I’ve even said it explicitly several times. You know who I think are the really stupid people? The ones who claim that I want to go to this museum and beat up small children. Even the ones who purport to be on my side in the evolution-creation wars who think that are incredibly stupid. My opinion is that this is a job for education. And Slack’s fawning recitation did not educate in the slightest.

  54. #54 ST
    May 31, 2007

    This should be a journalistic article, not a humor piece. It’s not about being blunt, it’s about presenting the facts in a straightforward manner to the reaer.

  55. #55 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Efforts to reach the least thoughtful, least aware, unlearned and uninterested in learning, are doomed to failure. The idiots’ messages will always be more appealing to idiots than yours will.

    Always.

    As a youth, I thought the greatest failure of the ancient Greek philosophers was their common belief that some people were born to be slaves. I considered it a shocking failure to recognize the potential in human beings. Over time I’ve come to realize that they were correct – see the comeback of Peter Popoff for examples of people who seem to want to be fleeced and victimized – and that only some people have the potential to become more than they are.

    There is nothing you can offer the slaves that is sweeter to them than slavery. You can only hold out a hand to those that want freedom.

  56. #56 John Pieret
    May 31, 2007

    … and you’re arguing it’s OK because you think the writer was smirking as he typed it.

    See, I knew you could appreciate ridicule!

  57. #57 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    . If you aren’t willing to say the truth matters, and here’s why, then you are siding with that attitude. Reporters who think their job is to be a stenographer are a good part of the problem with journalism today.

    There are plenty of ‘journalists’ willing to embrace the function of propagandists. Most of them work for Fox News.

    You’re offended by Fox News not because they’ve corrupted the function of journalism, but because they’re better at it than your side’s propagandists.

  58. #58 Scott Hatfield
    May 31, 2007

    I find myself agreeing both with offenders and defenders of the article. On the one hand, there is clearly an ironic, bemused tone to the whole affair. On the other hand, this is not a joke, dammit. Ham is not just some amusing carnival barker with a sideshow of phoney freaks. He’s one of the leading enemies of science education. Stack should’ve posed some tougher questions and provided information about why scientists are so appalled by the AIG museum.

    One wonders if such was in the original article, and trimmed by clueless editors.

  59. #59 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    Hmm. One side says the earth is 6000 years old, because the Bible says so. The other side has evidence that demonstrates that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. And to you, investigating the facts and reporting what the evidence supports is just another form of “propaganda”? What a relativist you are.

  60. #60 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Instead of an opinion-laden polemic, or a “both sides” showcase, isn’t it important to establish precisely what the museum is?

    Not talking about consequences, or implications, but accurately showing what the museum includes. Not arguing for any side, but acting as an utterly neutral and unaffliated observer – our eyes and ears.

    We’re suspicous when our eyes and ears begin feeding us positions instead of letting us conduct the analysis. Isn’t that a large part of what’s so offensive about Fox?

    Active resistance begets counter-resistance. Passivity and the lack of an agenda is what’s needed. Pushing people into adopting your position is the best way to get them to reject you. Creationists are full of yang weakness – and to counter yang weakness, yin strength. The absence of force, purposeful nonaction.

  61. #61 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    And to you, investigating the facts and reporting what the evidence supports is just another form of “propaganda”? What a relativist you are.

    The purpose of the article is not to determine how old the Earth is. The purpose of the article is to establish what the Creation Museum’s arguments are.

    Bringing the validity of those arguments into the picture means that the journalist is taking sides, which is inherently contradictory with the goal of being an impartial, impersonal observer. You want spin, and its absence makes you angry, but the lack of spin is necessary for the integrity of the piece.

    You don’t want integrity, you want persuasive speech rallied to your cause. You don’t hate Fox News, you hate that it’s being used to support the positions you dislike. If they supported your cause, you’d be all for ’em.

  62. #62 Scott Hatfield, OM
    May 31, 2007

    PZ, after a little digging I came across an article by Slack that appears to be a talk to fellow media types about the challenges of properly covering creationist news items. It seems highly relevant to the criticisms that many of us are making of Slack: in fact, it seems at odds with the Salon article we find so disappointing.

    I’ll send you the document in email right after I get done posting here. A link to that document is below, for other interested readers:

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/89/15/6948

    It would be nice to hear from Mr. Slack personally! SH

  63. #63 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    That’s a link to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article is on “Gravitational Symmetry Breaking in Microtubular Dissipative Structures”.

  64. #64 CalGeorge
    May 31, 2007

    Read Slack’s Mother Jones article from 1997.

    It reflects the same passive acceptance of what the interviewees say.

    This kind of journalism requires no effort. Just play Mr. Passive. It’s tabula rasa, minimalist journalism. The guy is not doing much more than transcribing his taped notes and quitting.

    Nice job if you can get it.

  65. #65 Jameson
    May 31, 2007

    Sweet Cheezits, this article is defenseless. What some claim as satire is just Slack regurgitating AiG’s message. The reason this piece kinda sorta could be construed as ironic is because creationism by default is so mind-numbingly absurd the initial urge among the educated is to think it a joke. Perhaps if Hitchens wrote this article, then yes, we could safely call it ironical; Slack is without those credentials. Besides the general snarkyness common to most Salon articles, point out where Slack obviously–and, I might add, responsibly–lifts the curtain on this ill-concieved gaff of his. To maintain reader trust a writer has to be forthcoming at some point in his essay.

  66. #66 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Would any of you care to identify a point where Mr. Slack argues that the Museum is correct, as opposed to simply reporting on what the Museum claims?

  67. #67 ConcernedJoe
    May 31, 2007

    Why would any legit publication run such an article?!?

    Geez .. where are the editors? where are REAL journalists? Why not some intellectual honesty?

    Let me try to write the review:

    Nice fantasy land — Flintstones high art — money can do wonders. However, suggest you go to a good sci-fi movie for more realistic science and excitement. As for those deluded people that actually think this fantasy is reality I’ll leave that to our medical correspondant

    See that was easy!!

  68. #68 stogoe
    May 31, 2007

    Salon is not that good. I will tolerate their day-pass for Tom Tomorrow and Glen Greenwald, but that’s it. And when they publish a slack-jawed, credulous, fawning praise of a handjob of an article about this ‘museum’, well, it saddens me.

    Fuck religion, and fuck with the minds of the religious.

  69. #69 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    “OK, people, one last time: look at the article while pretending your prior knowledge of science is absent. Think about how a creationist would see it. Strip it down to the essentials; what information is actually being communicated by this piece?”

    But do you seriously believe that a significant portion of Salon’s readers are creationists? That they have no prior knowledge of science? That they are naive believers in the Genesis myth?

    Is it always unacceptable for a writer to presume that his readers are, to some degree, already on his wavelenght? And that he doesn’t have to spell everything out for them?

    In that case, 90 % of the posts on your blog are completely meaningless.

  70. #70 Matthew Morse
    May 31, 2007

    Caledonian, in comments 60 and 61, are you seriously arguing that when someone blatantly lies to a reporter, and the reporter knows it’s a lie, the reporter is obligated not to state that in the article?

    The idea of a neutral media appeals to me, but if neutrality means that you can’t call a lie a lie, I’ll take the biased truth any day.

  71. #71 CalGeorge
    May 31, 2007

    The poet Frank O’Hara described his work as “I do this, I do that” poetry.

    Slack could describe his journalism as “I hear this, I hear that” or “I see this, I see that.”

    There is a place for this type of writing, but I want more!

  72. #72 stogoe
    May 31, 2007

    Would any of you care to identify a point where Mr. Slack argues that the Museum is correct, as opposed to simply reporting on what the Museum claims?

    Caledonian, That’s the Fucking Point! Simple regurgitation of lies is not journalism. It’s stenography. It’s the White House Press Corps all over again.

    Regurgitation is the Problem.

  73. #73 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Caledonian, in comments 60 and 61, are you seriously arguing that when someone blatantly lies to a reporter, and the reporter knows it’s a lie, the reporter is obligated not to state that in the article?< ?blockquote>

    No. I’m saying that the reporter is not obligated to state that in the article – particularly when the lie is so obvious and transparent that any reader can see through it.

    If it’s so blatant, why does the reporter need to highlight the fact?

  74. #74 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Odd. Let’s try that again.

    I’m arguing that reporters are not obliged to state that in their articles, particularly when the lie is so transparent that any reader can see through it.

    If the lie is so blatant, letting people notice that for themselves is often best. Let the speakers damn themselves with their own lies.

    There is a real difference between reporting what someone said, and reporting that someone said it. Again: can anyone point out where arguments are repeated as fact instead of being presented as what the museum’s builders claimed?

  75. #75 spencer
    May 31, 2007

    Salon is one of the finest online magazines around and one of the only forums that intelligent people have left to discuss scientific issues in a way that is measured and well-reasoned See the recent discussion about the bees for a great example. They have devoted far more coverage to the joke that is intelligent design than any other magazine. I can guarantee that those of you who don’t fly off the deep end and cancel your subscription will be rewarded with an intelligent and scathing review of the museum sometime soon.

  76. #76 Russell
    May 31, 2007

    P Z Myers:

    OK, people, one last time: look at the article while pretending your prior knowledge of science is absent.

    Why are you presuming the author is writing for someone who has zero prior knowledge of science?

    There isn’t one shred of scientific information or any kind of rebuttal presented anywhere. It presumes that we are all wise and knowing people who understand that this “museum” is a collection of lies.

    Again, I think from spending so much time in these culture wars, and from facing the consequences in your freshman biology class, you’re overlooking the fact that the creationists are pushing ignorance. No doubt, it is a major pain in the butt that some large fraction of a freshman biology class take this stuff seriously. But, what about the rest? I suspect the brighter high school student laughs at the notion that the world was created 6,000 years ago. They have read a bit about cultures that are older, or at least seen a PBS show about such. They know anthropologists are arguing over far earlier dates for man reaching the New World. They know secular historians somehow have managed to completely overlook the interruption of world history by a global flood. They can tell that “the flood did it in a month,” as an explanation for the Grand Canyon, is absurd special pleading.

    That article doesn’t presume “we are all wise and knowing.” It merely presumes much, much less: that it’s readers aren’t so fucking dumb as to fall for creationist nonsense.

    You spend so much time in the trenches, you forget that the enemy is ignorance, and that in the educated world, the war has been partly won. Many of us rarely deal with the kids from red America who have been steeped in that kind of ignorance. At least, not until they get out of college and get into the real world, at which point, it should have worn off. And if they are still creationists in their job interview, we don’t hire them, and at lunch, we tell the story of interviewing someone who managed to get through a real college and still believes that nonsense. You’re one of the people trying to save them from that experience. Which is good. (And if they’re resume says Liberty University, they don’t even get an interview.)

    Thanks to science teachers, to people like you, there is a world out there of people who do have some prior knowledge of science. And in many contexts, it’s perfectly alright to presume that.

  77. #77 Jud
    May 31, 2007

    Slack pretty clearly shows where his own sentiments lie:

    “[T]he lambs are sacrificed, a visitor explains to me, in partial payment for the debt incurred by Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of knowledge. I tell the visitor it seems unfair for the lambs to pay for their mistake. ‘Well, it wasn’t enough,’ he says. ‘God had to send his only Son to pay the ultimate price for their sin.’ When I tell him that sounds kind of extreme, he looks at me and shakes his head slowly a couple of times before moving on.”

    Note Slack’s self-paraphrases – “it seems unfair;” “it sounds kind of extreme.” They’re of a piece with the restrained, but (to me) obviously skeptical and amused tone of the article.

    Regarding the charge that the article lacks any critical digging beneath the surface: I don’t know whether Ham, et al. happily related to reporters that AiG is “a well-oiled money-raising machine and opened the $27 million museum without a penny of debt to banks or lenders,” but it is the sort of information that raises eyebrows, and might even attract the interest of the regional IRS office (though under the current administration, I wouldn’t hold my breath).

    BTW, Niles Eldredge likes Slack’s Dover book. The reviews do indicate the subtlety of tone that infuriates PZ is present. The quote introducing Chapter One isn’t so subtle, though: “Julie Smith: ‘My daughter came home from school, and she says to me, “Mom, evolution is a lie. What kind of Christian are you, anyway?”‘”

  78. #78 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    “I’m arguing that reporters are not obliged to state that in their articles, particularly when the lie is so transparent that any reader can see through it.

    If the lie is so blatant, letting people notice that for themselves is often best. Let the speakers damn themselves with their own lies.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    There are plenty of good reasons to dislike Salon, but this article is not one of them.

  79. #79 Russell
    May 31, 2007

    s/they’re/their/

    Gad, the other huge pain in the butt is letting a grammatical error slip when posting on the web.

  80. #80 carovee
    May 31, 2007

    I was reading the article and got stuck at the point where Slacker repeats the claim that the museum is a “one-day drive for two-thirds of the country”. First, hasn’t it already been established here at Pharyngula that the claim is only true if you consider a 12/13 hour drive one day. And second, isn’t it weird that almost every story on this museum includes this little tidbit? That’s what makes me suspect that the author was being lazy and just cribbing off of some press release.

    Ok, now I’ve finished it and it does seem to be a bit tongue in cheek. Maybe he just wanted to give the Creationists enough rope to hang themselves.

  81. #81 carovee
    May 31, 2007

    oops, sorry that’s Slack, not Slacker. Must have been a Freudian slip.

  82. #82 Kseniya
    May 31, 2007

    Carlie @ #28: Thanks for posting the link to the Brownback opinion piece. As far as I’m concerned, he didn’t acquit himself, and may as well be a hard-line YEC.

    His concluding paragraph is particularly inspiring:

    While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

    What an ass.

    Am I foolish to hope he’s the GOP nominee? Yeah… he’d probably win. Crap.

  83. #83 dodge
    May 31, 2007

    Gordy Slack got the tone exactly write for the readers of Salon. Have any of you Slack-secutioners read the comments on the article on Salon? http://letters.salon.com/news/feature/2007/05/31/creation_museum/view/?show=all

    Give the average Salon reader a bit more credit, and cut Slack some slack for judging it just right. Salon is more often than not hysterical and bombastic, rubbing your nose in the most obvious points. He got the tone of weary, incredulous irony just right.

  84. #84 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    Spencer, when I see a good incisive article from Salon on the subject of the creation “museum”, I’ll be sure to praise it. I will not suspend my criticism of a poor article in the hope that they’ll belatedly administer a correction.

  85. #85 mgr
    May 31, 2007

    My impression of the discussion so far is that many of the commenters defending Slack’s article failed to attend to the lesson of Howard Campbell in Mother Night.

  86. #86 Ron Sullivan
    May 31, 2007

    Hm.

    Imagine how you’d read that article if it had “John McPhee” as a byline.

    There, see? Straightforward reporting, just the facts ma’am. If you think that’s just stenography, you haven’t had to sort through a great untidy heap of material and decide what to sift and how to phrase it. That’s what reporting is about. Does photography qualify as art or not. Similar work gets done in reporting.

    As for who has cred: Come on, Hitchens couldn’t have written that piece without carrying on about how butch the mechanical Eve was, or some such extraneous and alienating nonsense.

  87. #87 Dr. Bossnotes
    May 31, 2007

    I’m not sure I’m convinced this article shows “transparent bias” towards shaming the nonsense of AIG. Notice that Krauss and Kagin are given about two or three lines each to represent the rational point of view. The rest of the piece is entirely devoted to the other side.

    And from my perspective, Slack doesn’t exactly get it right about the number of people at the Rally for Reason. I was there, and it wasn’t just 50 people. Of course, he might have been there during a downturn, but I think I remember seeing these Salon guys walking around the rally grounds. He could have interviewed more people (participants rather than just two leading spokespeople) at the rally. After all, he got the views from the “rubes” inside the museum, not just from Ham and Looy. Would anyone like to address this lopsidedness more convincingly? “It’s obviously poking fun at AIG and its position folks, and everyone who reads it will get it”? I don’t think so.

  88. #88 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    PZ: don’t go down this road. You’re losing your sense of humour. This is dangerous.

  89. #89 Jameson
    May 31, 2007

    As a member in the commmunity of letter writers, Slack ought to be biased toward the truth and against misinformation, which in this case doesn’t require sifting through a great untidy heap of material and deciding. We’re not talking about weighing in on various techniques in cancer therapy. Slack is dealing with basic science and obvious anti-science. And like I said, honesty with his readers is first and foremost.

  90. #90 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    But how is he not being honest with his readers? By taking them seriously? By presuming they are adults? By assuming they’re not retards?

    How is he misinforming?

    I just don’t understand.

  91. #91 apy
    May 31, 2007

    I’d have to agree with the criticism of this blog post. The article seemed fairly neutral to me, not displaying anything on the side of creationism or science. I don’t necessarily see a problem with being presented with facts and coming to ones own conclusion. It seems rather harsh to attack salon.com for presenting a neutral article. Is salon.com necessarily targeted at a scientific community? Is this article part of the science section of the magazine? Certainly I am for teaching people science, however salon’s mishap seems fairly minimal compared with the fact that we have a freaking Creation Museum. When salon starts trying to recruit more YEC’s for them then I’ll be right with you, but not for a journalist failing to connect every dot for the masses.

  92. #92 Jameson
    May 31, 2007

    I was originally making an argument against claims that Slack was writing a satire. However, these “straight reporting” defenses are no more convincing.

    Wouldn’t you agree, and hasn’t history shown, that the most important job of the fourth estate is to get at the truth? Case in point: it would seem that global warming is pretty obviously a problem. But for far too long reporters copied whatever the denialists said, covered “both sides of the debate,” and look where that’s gotten us. Now NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin, just said on NPR that global warming probably isn’t a problem.

  93. #93 John
    May 31, 2007

    You know, much like with the recent wrong tirade about Al Gore, this kind of nitpicky, sky-is-falling tirade doesn’t really help in the public perception of atheism, secularism, whatever.

    This article could have easily been a segment on “This American Life,” say, and worked well in that setting – or in an Errol Morris setting. After reading it, it seemed to me the whole point of it was to let the people hang themselves by sounding ridiculous. They did because they do.

    Would it have added to the piece to add a brief section about the bad science of creationism? Possibly, yes, but I don’t think it’s mandatory – the subject isn’t treated as a very serious one in the piece, anyhow.

  94. #94 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    Anyone who has even the slightest smidgen of a brain cell, will realize that this guy is making fun of creationism. Stop talking about “subtle” satire. There is nothing subtle about it, unless you’re a moron. And if you’re a moron, no argument in Salon is gonna convince you that God didn’t create the world and all the species in six days. I’ve read the article several times now, and the more I read it the more intentionally hilarious it seems.

  95. #95 CalGeorge
    May 31, 2007

    Prologue and first chapter of Slack’s Dover book: here.

    The prologue is interesting.

    In January 1998, my father and I had marched down Berkeley’s College Avenue, overdressed in suits and sweating like Mormons at the equator. It was extraordinarily hot, and the midday sun raised bubbles in the asphalt. We were arguing about evolution, as usual, as we raced toward Boalt Hall, the University of California at Berkeley’s law school. We were going there to meet Phillip Johnson, professor of law, author of a book called Darwin on Trial, and the founding father of what my dad described as the “neocreationist” intelligent design (ID) movement.
    I was an editor at a natural history magazine, and the theme of my work was evolutionary biology. That fact was a big bee in the bonnet of my dad, a Princetontrained experimental psychologist who, to my dismay, had recently turned super-Christian anti-evolution neo-creationist proponent of ID. He’d been corresponding with Phil Johnson and had somehow talked him, and me, into having lunch together.
    […]
    I still haven’t bought ID, even in its most discounted versions. But since that lunch with Johnson, I no longer see the debate as open and shut. It is more nuanced, philosophical, and complex-in a word, it is more fascinating- than I ever could have imagined before that meeting, which is what makes this story so much fun to tell and what will make it so surprising and perhaps compelling to read.

    So maybe he feels the need to soft peddle the criticism, because of his Dad?

  96. #96 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    This is a common problem.

    Try reading the Answers in Genesis commentary for a while. You will have no problem convincing yourself that no one could possibly be that stupid, and it must be a parody site. If you’d started a few years ago, you could have been chuckling at being in on the joke as they raised millions of dollars and put up this huge elaborate “museum”, which surely must be part of the funny.

  97. #97 Greg Peterson
    May 31, 2007

    I used to have grandparents who loved “All In the Family” because they thought that show really understood them. They didn’t realize that the show was making fun of them. But even in my teens, I knew it was. They laughed, they nodded their heads–and they were the actual joke. Maybe it’s way too subtle, but I found this article damning in a similar way.

  98. #98 ABP
    May 31, 2007

    “Credulous” is the entirely wrong word here.

    Do you really think journalist Gordy Slack is confused about whether science is real or the Creation Museum is right? The article reports the terrifying clash between established science and Christian fundamentalism. If science is established, is an article about the crazy Creation Museum the place to passionately defend it?

    I’m a little frustrated by the demand for outrage in mainstream media by science bloggers. Are you sure that the battle over science should be fought in every single venue?

  99. #99 Foggg
    May 31, 2007

    Slack’s third paragraph, after two of scene-setting, has Ham proudly proclaiming “the conclusions of modern science are not to be trusted.”
    After two more paragraphs of AiG background, others, including professional cosmologist Krauss, say “this nonsense” is “dragging us back to the Dark Ages”, is “anti-science” and “reflects an erosion of American science education, posing a threat to American kids”.

    Still in the story’s first half, after the vegetarian TRex’s, Slack says “paleontologists have shown that dinosaurs and humans, with the exception of birds (modern-day dinosaurs), never got within 60 million years of each other”, and the creationist admits “There may not be any fossil evidence showing dinosaurs and people in the same place at the same time. But it is clearly written that they were…”

    Gee. What conclusion should I draw from all that? As either a complete drooling idiot or someone obsessively stuck on their “credulous reporters reporting sides equally” meme, forcing all holes to fit it’s peg, I can only conclude Slack is likewise a credulous incompetent who’s hiding reality.

    And Slack “calls the place “beautiful”” (more accurately: “beautifully designed”)?? Outrageous! We should also excoriate every historian and film critic who called Nazi Nuremberg rallies “impressive”, “effectively awe-inspiring” etc. Toadies. Fools.

  100. #100 CalGeorge
    May 31, 2007

    Slack: I still haven’t bought ID, even in its most discounted versions. But since that lunch with Johnson, I no longer see the debate as open and shut.
    […]
    All these years after that encounter with Johnson, I am thrilled to get an assignment to cover this trial. It’s not only my chance to see how ID’s progress measures against Johnson’s prediction, but also a chance for me to work my way closer to an understanding and appreciation of what my father’s conversion, and his worldview, are really all about.
    http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/67/07879878/0787987867.pdf

    Case closed. Irony it isn’t.

  101. #101 Dr. Bossnotes
    May 31, 2007

    Quotes from #90:

    “The article seemed fairly neutral to me, not displaying anything on the side of creationism or science.”

    “Certainly I am for teaching people science, however salon’s mishap seems fairly minimal compared with the fact that we have a freaking Creation Museum.”

    Which is it, a “fairly neutral” article or a “mishap”? Seems you’re not entirely sure…

    Quote from #92:

    “This article could have easily been a segment on “This American Life,” say, and worked well in that setting – or in an Errol Morris setting.”

    It would work well in those settings because of the artistic context. “This American Life” is not a news show, and Errol Morris’s films use all sorts of cinematic devices to reveal a point of view.

    While Slack has a right to couch his article in whatever “neutrality” (the existence of this in any news product is highly suspect) he wants, it doesn’t present both sides equally and I bet that gullible creationists will seize on it. There is plenty there that could be used for propaganda purposes. This segment would have worked really well on Fox news. Right?

  102. #102 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    Well, I guess living in northern Europe does that to you. Much as I hate Europeans and Canadians bragging about how wonderful their own countries are compared to the USA, while conveniently forgetting their domestic problems, this is probably one of the intellectual areas where there really is a significant divide.

    Nobody in Europe could get away with anything like this “creation museum”. He would be laughed out of the country. Every newspaper report on it would look exactly like the Salon piece. It would take it for granted that the readers weren’t totally stupid.

    So when I read something like this in Salon, I automatically assume it’s aimed at non-retarded people. So I read and I chuckle in the safe knowledge that the large majority of other readers are reacting in the same way. Am I wrong?

  103. #103 Dr. Bossnotes
    May 31, 2007

    correction: the quotes are from #91 and #93, respectively. Damn quick-shooting comments on this thread!

  104. #104 Carlie
    May 31, 2007

    I’ll throw in my two cents’ worth. When I read the article I thought it was a little bit snide, but in a gentle way. I was surprised at PZ’s reaction to it, but after I thought about it for awhile I can see why this kind of article is “dangerous”. The AIG people simply don’t get this kind of communication. It’s too subtle for them. They would honestly read the article as a glowing recommendation, and so would thousands of other people who buy into this stuff. Now, those people probably don’t read Salon, but the fact that it’s not over-the-top parody/satire/what have you means that it’s likely to be misinterpreted and used by Ham as propaganda, and that a lot of people will fall for it. It’s accidentally giving them a weapon, if you will. It reminds me of parenting – I wasn’t able to use sarcasm with my children when they were 3 and 4 years old, because they didn’t get it, took me seriously, and got upset. It took a few times before I realized they just weren’t capable yet of that level of interpretation, so I couldn’t talk like that around them until they were older. When I did introduce it later I had to take baby steps, being very OBVIOUSLY sarcastic to show them that I didn’t really mean what I was saying until they understood the linguistic cues they could use to tell sarcasm from criticism. Ham et al. haven’t gotten to that point yet.

  105. #105 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    Man, and I get called arrogant…

    I guarantee you that even the liberal progressive readers of Salon are, in the majority, ignorant of basic concepts of science. This rationalization that they’re so smart they don’t need to have the details laid out is offensive in the extreme — you’re basically announcing that the readers will find it ideologically copacetic to interpret the article as pro-science, never mind that it doesn’t say one word about the scientific evidence that contradicts Ham’s assertions. It’s enough that they can detect a faint whiff of snark under all the recitations of creationist nonsense.

    Here’s an experiment. Try asking random people how we know that dinosaurs and people didn’t live together at the same time. It won’t matter whether they’re liberal or conservative (except that you’re more like to find a conservative gibbering that they did live at the same time), you’ll find that the majority will just stammer some source of authority — a textbook they read 10 years ago, or a television show, or a magazine article.

    I’ve done it — I’ve got an excuse, I’m a college professor — and you will be dismayed at how difficult it is for most people to handle that simple question. They just haven’t thought about it.

  106. #106 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    You have to be kidding me, PZ:

    Man, and I get called arrogant…

    “I guarantee you that even the liberal progressive readers of Salon are, in the majority, ignorant of basic concepts of science. This rationalization that they’re so smart they don’t need to have the details laid out is offensive in the extreme — you’re basically announcing that the readers will find it ideologically copacetic to interpret the article as pro-science, never mind that it doesn’t say one word about the scientific evidence that contradicts Ham’s assertions. It’s enough that they can detect a faint whiff of snark under all the recitations of creationist nonsense.”

    If anything is offensive in the extreme, it’s this claim that the (at most) hundred thousand regular readers of Salon and similar webzines are typically so stupid as to not be able to tell the difference between Hammish delusionalism and worthwhile science.

    You seriously want Slack to carve out the counter-arguments? You want him to treat his readers like idiots?

  107. #107 Observer
    May 31, 2007

    I don’t have a problem with the article. If he was sent with the mission to report as accurately as possible about what’s going on there, then it’s fine. Salon is an online magazine and the comments section tears apart the museum, and any op-ed page can further tear it apart. He reported, that’s all. If you sent me to Baghdad to report the situation there, I wouldn’t go into all the reasons of why the war is wrong – that’s not reporting. Creationists, at least folks who would go there and think it all nifty, are not reading Salon. And if they did read the article they would know that there were protestors and a plane flying a banner “Thou Shalt Not Lie” (I liked that), that there are scientists who disagree with the displays, etc.

    It is not up to every journalist or article to go into arguing every aspect of opposing views – that’s not reporting. If he accurately reported, then everyone else can go into arguments at length, make fun of it or what have you. The commenters are doing that quite well. Yes, I think there need to be articles in the op-ed sections of major newspapers tearing these places apart, Creationists may read those. But folks who eat up this Bible kitsch and go to places like this and Holy Land Experience in Orlando are just not interested in science. I don’t know what it takes to get them to see reality. Facts don’t work and if you make fun of them, they take on a sort of martyr-for-Jesus role. It’s bizarre. $27 million…

  108. #108 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2007

    Like idiots? No, like ordinary people, most of whom do not have any kind of science background.

    And yes, I want reporters to explain. You don’t seem to get it. Americans aren’t slack-jawed drooling morons — we have this majority wedded to pseudo-scientific and religious nonsense because these matters are never explained to them, and that the media is culpable for promoting this kind of unquestioning ignorance.

    The other thing: those weird quotes from the Hamites that you’re finding so foolish and self-incriminating? A majority of Americans would find those perfectly reasonable. The people saying those things were taken from a slice of ordinary middle America. A lot of the people here in my hometown would just nod in agreement with them — they certainly wouldn’t point and giggle and roll their eyes to mock the deluded gits.

  109. #109 CalGeorge
    May 31, 2007

    No doubt busloads of kiddies ar being brainwashed at this very moment.

    [shudder]

    Somewhere in America, a teacher is arranging for a visit to the museum.

    [shudder]

  110. #110 Greg Peterson
    May 31, 2007

    I think you’ve made a cogent case, PZ. I guess I was reading the piece as, well…me. And you were saying, “What will the neighbors think?” Maybe this is just one topic where subtle irony or winking assumptions are unacceptable because it’s literally impossible to tell creationist “sincerity” from satire, and because ignorance is an enemy of irony, and most Americans really are ignorant of basic science, especially evolution.

  111. #111 Molly Bentley
    May 31, 2007

    I am astounded by the self-righteous tone of PZ Meyers in his attack on Gordy Slack’s article. Did he really miss Slack’s satirical tone? Or that tongue was firmly planted in cheek? I found the article chilling precisely because Slack didn’t preach to me what I already know – and he knows – about the encroachment of religious fundamentalism on the teaching of evolutionary biology. What Slack did brilliantly was give us a sense of what it’s like to be in this museum (I mean, are YOU going to visit it?) and where all that money went and the motivation behind its construction. The fact that it IS a beautiful museum, almost indistinguishable from a real natural history museum is what is so worrisome. Slack obviously got this. His point is that this museum is where almost half of Americans would feel at home. This is horrifying, but Slack assumes his readers are intelligent enough to absorb that fact. The last line captures how many, many Americans feel; “I don’t know if this story is truer than Darwin’s theory, but I do know it’s better.”

    PZ Meyers represents a disturbing trend among natural humanists (of which I’m aligned) that if they don’t see their views spelled out boldly in neon, they throw a tantrum. In this case, Meyers beats his fists on the floor and refuses to read Slack’s book. How spiteful. I’ve read Slack’s book and it’s an engaging, insightful story of the Dover Trial about intelligent design. And, if Mr. Meyers read the book, he’d know what a committed evolutionist Mr. Slack is. It’s a shame that Meyers doesn’t recognize an ally when he sees one. Bravo for Salon for not publishing an obvious hit piece.

  112. #112 Brownian
    May 31, 2007

    His point is that this museum is where almost half of Americans would feel at home. This is horrifying, but Slack assumes his readers are intelligent enough to absorb that fact. The last line captures how many, many Americans feel; “I don’t know if this story is truer than Darwin’s theory, but I do know it’s better.”

    PZ Meyers represents a disturbing trend among natural humanists (of which I’m aligned) that if they don’t see their views spelled out boldly in neon, they throw a tantrum.

    And the almost half of Americans that would feel at home in this museum would feel just as ‘at home’ with this article, since it certainly challenges none of their beliefs. Perhaps they’re having a similar debate on creationist sites about how Slack subtly endorses creationism with this piece, and how clever it was for him to put one over on all the godless Salon readers.

    Given the understanding of science in North America these days, I’m afraid bold neon is way too subtle.

  113. #113 Hank Roberts
    May 31, 2007

    Basic observation:

    True believers see what they believe.
    Critical thinkers see satire.

    Try this test yourself. Is this satire? or straightforward reporting about the stance of the USA and the facts about climate change?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6708995.stm
    —————————————————-
    “The United States is in the lead,” he said.

    “The world is on the verge of great breakthroughs that will help us become better stewards of the environment.”
    —————————————————-

    Puffery? Forward-looking statements not to be relied on by investors? Or factual statements on which one should rely?

    I don’t much like Salon either. It’s always been kind of airheaded stuff. They’re trying, but not so hard they offend anyone with a lot of money, seems to me.

  114. #114 Dr. Bossnotes
    May 31, 2007

    to #111:

    “I am astounded by the self-righteous tone of PZ Meyers in his attack on Gordy Slack’s article.”

    Yes, that’s right, he’s attacking the article, not Slack himself or his prior publications.

    “His point is that this museum is where almost half of Americans would feel at home. This is horrifying, but Slack assumes his readers are intelligent enough to absorb that fact.”

    Does he assume that now? I’m assuming that you are assuming something assumptive about Slack and maybe you’re assuming something about intelligence absorption quotients.

    “And, if Mr. Meyers read the book, he’d know what a committed evolutionist Mr. Slack is.”

    So now we have to read the book to discover Mr. Slack’s true bias? And how many readers of this article who may be predisposed to enjoying its fawning stance will instinctively rise up and read his book to see if this particular article might have actually been ironic instead?

    Good grief, if they’re even somewhat convinced by creationism they won’t be able to tell irony from an anvil after reading this article.

  115. #115 Lynn
    May 31, 2007

    This is interesting.

    I *have* read Slack’s Dover book. It’s interesting. I don’t like it as well as “Monkey Girl” or the great-great Grandson’s book, but it’s very good.

    He approaches the writing of the book (and the trial experience) from an interesting perspective that might reflect a bit on the argument going on here. He’s a thorough religious skeptic; his father is a fundamentalist. The book is written in present tense, as if it were written *while* Slack was attending the trial (as at least parts of it might well have been). But the basic affectation behind the book was a sort of “let’s see what happens when these two views meet head to head in a place where both get to fire all their guns” approach. As if he were trying to give “both sides” an equal chance to convince him. It *is* an affectation because it’s clear all the way through that he knows which “side” rests its arguments on reality and which on fantasy, but it makes for a rather interesting narrative.

    In view of this article about Ham’s so-called “museum,” there’s one really fascinating passage in the book–possibly the most effective writing between the covers.

    In this section, he and several others attending the trial took a side trip into absurdity and attended the showing of Kent Hovind’s videos which was hosted by one of the local religious leaders. His revulsion and despair are clear by the end of the passage, not just at the outrageous nature of what Hovind had to say, but also (and more strongly) at the reception the tapes received from the crowd watching.

    He ends the passage: “If belief trumps fact, in these days of very dangerous truths, we’re screwed.” (Slack, “The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything, pg. 95)

    So frankly, I’m a bit mystified by this Salon review. My experience with this book leads me to believe he was at least *attempting* the kind of sly satire some are attributing to him. It doesn’t sound like he pulled it off too well.

    Lynn

  116. #116 Jud
    May 31, 2007

    CalGeorge quoted an excerpt from Slack’s book: “All these years after that encounter with Johnson, I am thrilled to get an assignment to cover this trial. It’s not only my chance to see how ID’s progress measures against Johnson’s prediction, but also a chance for me to work my way closer to an understanding and appreciation of what my father’s conversion, and his worldview, are really all about.”

    http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/67/07879878/0787987867.pdf

    CalGeorge then said: “Case closed. Irony it isn’t.”

    Quote mining is rather despicable, no matter who’s doing it. What I got from the entirety of the prologue you selectively quoted is as follows:

    (1) Slack himself still believes evolution to be true and creationism, in either the ID or Young Earth varieties, to be false.

    (2) Slack understands this disagreement to be over more than “just” whether the theory of evolution is correct. He knows (and describes in the prologue) the way this argument plays into the Culture Wars, and the possible consequences for America should the Brownbackian side (everything is to be evaluated for truth on the basis of whether or not God is a necessary part of it) prevail.

    (3) Though Phil Johnson didn’t succeed in convincing Slack of the truth of ID, he did succeed in showing Slack something the latter found interesting – Slack’s own preference for seeking “materialist” (natural) explanations. Slack hadn’t thought of this as something his personal preferences influenced.

    (4) In the prologue, Slack says he welcomes the opportunity to cover the Dover trial in part because he feels it will help him understand more about the motivations for his father’s worldview. I did not at all take from this that he planned to convert to that worldview himself.

    So no, case not closed, at least not as I read the Salon article and the book’s prologue. Think also: Would the book have been sent to Niles Eldredge for review, let alone received such an enthusiastic response from him, if Slack were really inclined toward blind/bland praise of ID, AiG, etc.?

    Whether Slack is sufficiently hard on Ham, the “museum,” etc. in the Salon article may be open to question, but I don’t think there’s a serious issue concerning how Slack feels personally about those things.

  117. #117 Christian Burnham
    May 31, 2007

    I am astounded by the self-righteous tone of PZ Meyers in his attack on Gordy Slack’s article.

    It’s funny how Molly and J. A. Davidson misspell PZ’s last name in exactly the same way.

    Convergent evolution?

  118. #118 Scott Hatfield, OM
    May 31, 2007

    PZ, Caledonian, other folk: Not only does Salon suck, but I suck. My earlier post gave the wrong link to a PNAS article I referred to on another thread. Talk about a non sequitur. Anyway, the correct link is to be found at:

    http://www.ewa.org/files/docs/gordy%20slack.doc

    I want to emphasize that, while I am crestfallen in making this goof, I am in no way acting as an apologist for Slack. I just thought this article was relevant. I would hope he would have the guts to come on here and discuss his approach with the Pharyngulites, because I think the article is, to put it mildly, inadequate.

    Abashed…Scott

  119. #119 waldteufel
    May 31, 2007

    I read Slack’s piece, and not being familiar with his writings, I came away with the impression that he was amused by the creation museum.

    I think he was trying to write a dry, subtly critical piece, but he just didn’t pull it off.

  120. #120 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Like idiots? No, like ordinary people, most of whom do not have any kind of science background.

    Maybe it’s different elsewhere in the world. But where I live, ordinary people are idiots.

  121. #121 John H. Morrison
    May 31, 2007

    It’s interesting to see the two diametric views of the same article. One side claims that the author’s ostensibly neutral account of the museum makes it a virtual mouthpiece of the creationists. The other side views the article as a masterpiece of deadpan subtlety, where the creationists are allowed to hang themselves by their own petards.

    My view is the latter, of course. In fact, in its own deadpan way, it’s screamingly hilarious. I can only envy its masterpiece of subtlety, something I could never attain in my own writing. (My definition of subtlety is hitting someone on the head with a brick.) It depends on your target audience whether this is a good approach. It should be for the expected intelligent readership of Salon.

  122. #122 Orac
    May 31, 2007

    Of course, I can’t resist pointing out that Salon.com uncritically swallowed the whole “mercury in vaccines causes autism” pseudoscience, going so far as to partnering with Rolling Stone magazine to publish Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s completely deceptive and overblown article on the topic two years ago.

  123. #123 SimonC
    May 31, 2007

    A point that most people seem to be missing here is ‘What will AiG gain from this article?’, and the answer to that is ‘a quote mine’. I’m sure that Salon readers won’t be converting to Creationism in droves because of the article BUT handing all those lovely quotes to Ham and ilk is pure stupidity. There isn’t a single place in the article that says, in language that creationists would understand, ‘This is a humorous piss-take, so everyone have a good laugh at the freaks’. Without that clarification this is just pro-creationism propoganda, from the pages of a very popular publication.

  124. #124 Caledonian
    May 31, 2007

    Without that clarification this is just pro-creationism propoganda, from the pages of a very popular publication.

    Just to clarify this:

    You’re saying that anything that even remotely addresses the subject and isn’t explicitly and vigorously anti-creationism is, in fact, pro-creationism?

  125. #125 urdchan
    June 1, 2007

    Ugh. I think with the events of the past few years some things need to be spelled out.

    It appears that the Slack does not have the ability of the Daily Show hosts…

  126. #126 Observer
    June 1, 2007

    This is still bugging me…the idea that anyone thinks this is a “rave” for the museum.

    I have no allegiance to Salon, but the article standing by itself is no different than what the reporters reported for newspapers (see below). The idea that an article has to contain counter-arguments is not reporting. That belongs on editorial pages, columns, blogs and articles. There’s nothing in Slack’s piece, as with all these others, that show endorsement of any sort. If he didn’t say the landscaping and animatronics were “out of this world” or “beautiful” he would be lying. The material wrote itself! Young Earth Creationists wouldn’t care what science was added to the article, if any – they don’t care! (And it wasn’t a Creationism vs. Science piece anyway).

    Quote mining is inevitable, it’s constantly done with movie reviews, etc. But the idea that reporting what is going on there has to be infused with the author’s personal critique is not what I want in a reporting piece, if that is the aim. He actually did far better than the news reports because he went into better detail about the exhibits; for those who don’t want to cough up their $$ to go there and snark or review each display from the scientific viewpoint, can better do so now.

    “It’s really impressive – and it really gives the impression that they’re talking about science at some point,” said critic Lawrence Krauss, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University.
    Cincinnati.com

    SFgate

    NPR

    Op/ed page from the Kentucky Journal in response to a news article about the museum.

    Google page on major newspapers

    As Krauss said, kids there taking notes for school is a big concern. That means our schools, national parks, and national museums are the fortresses against the indoctrination of this kind of idiocy. I do wholly expect and would like major papers to editorialize about this…against slick anti-science. The YECs have the right to be fleeced by Ken (S)Ham all they want; reading some of the adults’ comments in other places, I think they are beyond help or persuasion by others.

  127. #127 SimonC
    June 1, 2007

    Caledonian #124
    What I am saying is that, lacking some form of clarification, this article could be read all the way through by humour-free fundies as a paean of glowing praise. The author has left out the “Not!” from the end of a “Not!” joke, and the fundies are left with what appears to them as a wonderful review. He just needs to indicate for the dummies that his tongue is firmly in his cheek.

  128. #128 Caledonian
    June 1, 2007

    Anything could be interpreted as anything. Some creationists even saluted the Dover case as a vindication for their side – how much clearer do you think the point has to be before no one could misinterpret it?

    Your point is inane.

  129. #129 Julia
    June 1, 2007

    It appears that virtually everyone here is tunnel-visioned, belligerent and totally devoid of humour. Apart from the very few who are gleefully engaged in calling the rest “stupid”, most of you believe that a Salon journalist is responsible for educating your nation (indeed, even your closest relatives!) about the validity of Creationism as a scientific theory. If the average American is woefully confused or ignorant on this matter, then it’s definitely all the fault of that well-known popular magazine for families and youngsters, Salon! It couldn’t possibly be the responsibility of professional academics such as yourselves. Oh no, not at all.

  130. #130 Peter Millis
    June 1, 2007

    Most of these comments re: Slack’s article in Salon miss the point entirely. The piece is not a “review,” nor an opinion piece–it’s a piece of reportage about a “museum” opening. Of course what the creation museum espouses is horsepoop, and obviously Mr. Slack thinks it’s horsepoop too. However, were he to belabor that point, I suspect I’d find him tiresome. It’s shooting fish in a barrel, preaching to the choir. His technique in this particular piece, and it’s a valid and effective technique, is to allow the thing speak for itself–put it out there sans polarizing polemics and let people see what it really is. Without hitting us over the head with the obvious and the already-known, his affable tone and his choice of detail do a pretty good job of underscoring the absurdity of the “science” behind the museum and the crudely manipulative nature of the exhibits.

    I haven’t read his Dover book yet, but snippets I’ve seen on Amazon indicate that he gives the punters a pretty good primer on the facts of the matter–scientific, legal and political–and filters them through some relevant family experience. I’m curious, and I’m buying it.

  131. #131 Dr. Bossnotes
    June 1, 2007

    One more crack at this:

    From the International Federation of Journalists website, “Declarations of Principles”:

    1. Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.

    Evolution and the ancient age of the earth in billions of years are fully established truths. Is it possible that overarching “nuanced irony” in a journalistic item just isn’t appropriate based on this first ethical principle? Note also it’s addressed to the public at large…including creationists.

    2. In pursuance of this duty, the journalist shall at all times defend the principles of freedom in the honest collection and publication of news, and of the right of fair comment and criticism.

    As I stated before in another comment, Slack’s article under-represented the absolutely mainstream scientific consensus on these facts. Comment and criticism OF this consensus was duly performed from Ham’s point of view, but to me and many others here the truth did not have a fair enough space to comment and criticize Ham’s point of view (nor well enough to serve ethics principle #1). In other words it is irrelevant whether or not we think the readership is enlightened and will “see through” the irony; these ethical standards rise above subjectivity and contingency.

    5. The journalist shall do the utmost to rectify any published information which is found to be harmfully inaccurate.

    Some will say something like, “But that exactly proves my point: Ham is being truthfully quoted, his and the creationists’ positions are freely reported without discrimination. Isn’t this article representative of ethical journalism based on these principles?”

    Uh…no. Because of principle #5. Which is, I know, broken all of the time in many forms of media today. Creationist propaganda is harmfully inaccurate. It was published as representing true science through this article. This should have been rectified forcefully, and was not. Wink-winks and nudge-nudges are for the Daily show (FAKE news), not in a news article at Salon (supposedly REAL news). Unless Salon is the new Onion, with which I doubt the editorial staff would want to be associated.

  132. #132 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    is to allow the thing speak for itself–put it out there sans polarizing polemics and let people see what it really is.

    and if that technique had any evidence of success in the US, GW would not have been re-elected.

    some might think the defenders of this article haven’t gotten out much in the last 25 years.

  133. #133 Caledonian
    June 1, 2007

    and if that technique had any evidence of success in the US, GW would not have been re-elected.

    Fool! Have you never considered that the people knew exactly what Bush is and wanted him?

  134. #134 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    Fool! Have you never considered that the people knew exactly what Bush is and wanted him?

    well considered, and rejected, er, “fool”.

    look at his current approval ratings.

    has he really changed to warrant such low approval ratings, or is the zombie US finally starting to wake up to his idiocy?

    if he hasn’t changed, then I think americans are realizing that they didn’t purchase the product they thought they did, now did they.

    give it up, already, your rhetoric is lost on this one.

  135. #135 Caledonian
    June 1, 2007

    give it up, already, your rhetoric is lost on this one.

    Oh, I’m sure it is.

    Approval ratings are in the tank because the war is going badly. If it were somehow going well, where do you think it would be?

  136. #136 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    If it were somehow going well, where do you think it would be?

    who knows?

    all we have is the data in front of us.

    are YOU sure that it’s ALL about the war?

    besides which, the war wasn’t really going all that well when he got re-elected, either.

    no osama, for one example.

    which goes back to my point again. regardless of what bush was selling, people aren’t buying now, and most happily admit that they were deceived when interviewed. I don’t see folks saying anything about “i hate bush because the war is going badly” (except the people who hated bush for getting us in the war to begin with, and they of course didn’t vote for him).

    you?

    Are you SURE you want to take the position that most americans aren’t simply dumbasses who don’t take the time to investigate their choices thoroughly enough to begin with?

    You REALLY want to take up the position that all americans are well-reasoned and that subtle irony tends to work just fine to make a point with them?

    you want to do that, on this blog…

    hmm.

    like I said earlier, and now phrase as a question:

    get out much?

    OTOH, you just like to argue to argue, so I don’t really see the point of continuing.

    have the last word on this one, if you wish.

  137. #137 Caledonian
    June 1, 2007

    People are flighty and stupid. The war has continued to get worse without even a hint of improvement, and historically, the American populace gets restive during wars that aren’t improving. We love a winner, but there’s nothing we loathe more than a loser.

    The PATRIOT Act, the complaints about the abuse of spying power, the lack of WMD evidence, all came out before the elections. Yet more than 50% of the people voted for him – even if a lot of that were due to unwillingness to change presidents in a time of conflict, there’s still a great deal of support there.

    But this is missing the point: your belief that all people need to immediately turn to your side is to be shown the truth is not only arrogant (in that you presume your correctness is far stronger than it can possibly be) but demonstrably wrong. People have been shown the truth before. They prefer to believe their comforting lies.

    But your beliefs couldn’t possibly be comforting lies. They follow rationally from the best available evidence. Right?

  138. #138 Julia
    June 2, 2007

    OK, a few facts. I’m not going to join up the dots for you, but try really hard to think about the implications.

    To date, there are 337 letters (41 pages) in response to Slack’s article

    http://letters.salon.com/news/feature/2007/05/31/creation_museum/view/?show=all

    I’ve had time to speed read through the first 10 pages. On those first 10 pages, I found:-

    – 4 complaints from indignant folk taking exactly the same view as PZ Myers
    – 1 mild protest from a creationist who had clearly recognised the article’s ironical intent, and felt motivated to write and *defend* creationism
    – all the remaining letters were from clued-up people, either rolling in the aisles, or frothing at the mouth about the stupidity of their fellow Americans

    Hopefully that should tell you something about who reads Salon, and how capable they are of reading between the lines.

    Incidentally, if it weren’t for the occasional magazine like Salon and the New Yorker, your international reputation would be a lot further down the U-bend than it already is. This blog is certainly doing nothing whatsoever to help.

  139. #139 Caledonian
    June 2, 2007

    First, you become obsessed with the enemy.
    Then you lose your sense of perspective.
    Then you become your enemy.

    Guess which stage of this process PZ is at.

  140. #140 Alex
    June 23, 2008

    None of them.

  141. #141 Arnosium Upinarum
    June 26, 2008

    Caledonian? (in # 133, “Fool! Have you never considered that the people knew exactly what Bush is and wanted him?”):

    Hell, Cal, not even Bush knows what he is. What can you possibly be saying? That people WANTED something they were completely clueless about?

    Or is your idea of “knowing” restricted to image? Actually, I might be tempted to agree that the latter may be diagnostic of the way many Americans judge character and wherewithal.

    It’s easy to forget during the time you are away that behind all the bluster is a fool of the first order. Thanks for the reminding.

    As for the “interpretation” by several others here, that the Slack article in Salon is somehow fashionably satirical or just a lame attempt at one, I must suppress my gorge rising up at the notion.

    Read anything else by Slack for a clue to the pattern. If it wasn’t for his shallow cognition and writing ability, one might perhaps charitably allow he’s a Master of Equivocation. Unfortunately, even in the craft of bullshit, he’s no expert.

    Sucks just plain sucks.

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    January 2, 2010

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