Pharyngula

The crazy billboard lady is back again

Julie Haberle, the born-again who splattered Minnesota billboards with creationist apologetics, has revamped her website. It’s prettier and twice as stupid now; it still has the very clumsy bulletin board that was utterly ruled by evolution supporters poking holes in her bad arguments. What the site primarily has, though, are the quote mines — this place is a gold mine of quote mines. For instance, right up front and center they have this:

“To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story – amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.”

–Henry Gee

Ardent Evolutionist, Dr. Henry Gee, Senior Editor, Biological Sciences for the journal Nature as written in his book, In Search of Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, New York, The Free Press, 1999, page 126-127.

I thought this was hilarious and so typical. I actually spent some time talking to Henry Gee at SciFoo, and this very subject came up. He gets quoted all the time by creationists, and he also gets whined at by scientists who say he has to be more careful to avoid this kind of misrepresentation (he is, of course, a strong supporter of science and evolution who thinks creationists are lunatics). Caution does not get the important ideas said, though, and we can’t sit here policing our words, afraid that some idiot will scavenge them and use them to lie. Haberle’s whole site is a testimonial to the willingness of creationists to distort scientific statements wholesale. She has a series of issues where she tries to call into question basic evolutionary ideas by doing little more than quoting out of context little snippets from books she hasn’t read.

The Henry Gee book is a beautiful example. She hasn’t read it, she certainly couldn’t explain what it’s about (it’s an excellent summary of the principles and philosophy of cladistics), and most amusingly, she got the title wrong. It’s
In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll).

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    August 14, 2007

    Now, wait, is she a ‘lady with crazy billboards’ or a ‘crazy lady with billboards’ or ‘a crazy lady with crazy billboards’?

    Do you really want an answer to that one? “May the Gods fulfill your wishes” (Ancient Greek curse).

    Due to a peculiar conspiracy of English grammar and English orthography, she is obviously and unambiguously a crazy lady with billboards. If she were a lady with crazy billboards, she’d be a crazy-billboard lady.

    Except that most native speakers, it appears, don’t know where to put hyphens…