Pharyngula

I knew this was going to happen, but I’m no prophet — it’s just what the creationists always do. Frank Pastore follows the lead of our national news media and declares evolution debunked because of recent discoveries in paleontology. You can probably guess which ones.

The first is Chororapithecus, the ten million year old jaw fragment with gorilla-like dentition, which suggests that the split between the gorilla-human lineages might have occurred farther back than was believed. There are reasons to be skeptical — the similarities might be an example of convergence — but even if the discovery pans out, it doesn’t disprove anything about evolutionary mechanisms. It revises the dates of one detail. It’s hard to blame Pastore too much for his misinterpretation, though; he obviously hasn’t read the original paper, but he may have run across National Geographic’s claim that it “shatters human evolution theory.”

The second was the discovery of fossils of Homo erectus and Homo habilis that showed temporal overlap. The Discovery Institute beat Pastore on this one, declaring that this was a refutation of the idea of a straight line of human descent. Never mind that paleontologists don’t argue for such a linear pattern of evolution, and that we expect related species to overlap in time — it’s not as if there is some magic instant when all members of a species transform into a new species. Again, though, it’s hard to blame the poor sap when the news runs headlines claiming that these specimens cast “doubt” on evolution and “test” the origins of humans.

Anyway, it’s a horrible little column that claims these discoveries show that humans were created. It’s nonsense, of course, just more of the usual crap from an ignorant little man. The comments, though, are mildly amusing and a little bit interesting. For one, this is a column on Townhall, a hotbed of far right lunacy, yet there are a surprising number of commenters criticizing Pastore. That’s actually a good sign (although I have to cringe at all the critics who are jumping on him for saying that theory of evolution says humans evolved from apes. Yes, we did; we are apes, and our ancestors were all apes going way way back, tens of millions of years).

But of course there are still plenty of crazy comments, too. These are the fun parts.

Tell me, how often have you heard this one?

If Darwinian evolution says that man evolved from apes, and when a species evolves from other species, isn’t the old, evolved-from species supposed to die out from natural selection? If so, why are there still apes?

The answer is no — the old species isn’t supposed to die out from natural selection. Next!

What gets me
…is why we have creatures around today whose distant ancestors were *exactly* the same. The coelecanth and the crocodile are a couple of good examples. I’m sure there are others.

They aren’t exactly the same. Coelacanths were a diverse group with many different species, and the modern forms are very, very different from the fossils; likewise, crocodilians have a diverse history. They have changed. Next!

This one starts out on well-trodden ground — Darwin, racist! — and then veers deeply into weirdness.

Darwin’s theory is racist.

The truth is Darwin was a seething racist. The ‘theory’ of evolution wasn’t created to explain any facts about man’s origin. It was to provide a ‘scientific basis’ for Darwin’s life- long preaching that ‘niggers are apes and descended from apes’.

Evolution went over well is racist hell holes like Tennessee that denied basic human rights to blacks because according to Darwin, they weren’t entitled to any rights. They were apes according to Darwin’s ‘science’.

The whole justification for affirmative action is the liberal Left’s acceptance of Darwin’s ‘niggers are apes’ theory. The reason blacks are still discriminated against is Darwinism, i.e. ‘evolution’.

Darwin was relatively enlightened for his time, opposing slavery and regarding people of other races as fully human and deserving of respect. He didn’t preach, but he did argue that all humans were descendants of apes. The argument that racist communities tended to favor evolution is mostly a reversal of the truth — there were some people who used evolution to argue for the inferiority of certain people, but the Bible belt is simultaneously a hotbed of anti-evolutionism and racism.

I’m not even going to try and parse the last paragraph. It’s too much insanity for me.

Next!

If man and apes have a common ancestor where are the intermediates? You would expect after all these years there would have been found one credible intermediate. The previous evolutionary chart showed the piltdown-man, java-man etc. all were proven to be frauds.

Piltdown was a fraud. Java man was not. Here’s a commenter who demands transitional hominins on an article where the creationist author is babbling about the discovery of Homo erectus and Homo habilis specimens—one guy waving a skull around claiming “these transitional fossils prove evolution false!” while the other is ranting “the absence of transitional fossils prove evolution false!” Come on, people, get your story straight.

Next!

IF men evolved from apes there would be no more apes you dimwit.

I think we’re going around in circles now. Next!

who cares
People who blog are idiots and continue to prove it by their use of verbiage to impress. Get a life!

Wel… I mean, uh, like …

OK, I’ve got nothin’. You win.

Comments

  1. #1 Brian
    September 4, 2007

    I’m happy to say humans evolved from apes and still are apes. Doesn’t change the reality of my world.
    I do argue against the statement we evolved from apes when it’s meant that we evolved from existing species of apes. That is false because we evolved from a common anscestor.
    Anyway, it’s always struck me a funny that people will go as far as to say humans aren’t animals. These people usually claim humility at the same time. Gods special creation != humility as far as I can tell. Get over it hairless, chinless apes!

  2. #2 Stuart Coleman
    September 4, 2007

    The stupidity will never cease to amaze me.

    Except for that last comment, that’s golden (especially since he’s presumably posting a comment on a blog, and comment sections are even worse than blog posts themselves most of the time).

  3. #3 LH
    September 4, 2007

    That last comment struck me like a bolt out of the blue.

    *BOOM!*

    Ouch, back to the bench. Was the bug supposed to be Kanamycin or Ampicillin resistant? Yup, Kanamycin.

    Doop-dee-doop-bee-doo…

    *37C 250rpm O/N*

  4. #4 Simon G.
    September 4, 2007

    Not only was Darwin far less racist than many of his contemporaries, he came from a long line of abolitionists, with his uncle Josiah Wedgewood being seriously influential in the anti-slavery movement in Britain.

    How surprising.. a creationist who doesn’t have the first idea of what they’re talking about.

  5. #5 John C. Randolph
    September 4, 2007

    Magic Man done it!

    -jcr

  6. #6 John C. Randolph
    September 4, 2007

    Darwin was related to Wedgewood?

    What an interesting coincidence. I admire the work of each of them a great deal.

    -jcr

  7. #7 garth
    September 4, 2007

    it’s kinda stunning hard these freaks try to distort, lie, and just purposely misunderstand. it’s…just stunning.

  8. #8 Ryan Cunningham
    September 4, 2007

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned how intellectually dishonest it is for the author of the third quoted comment to attribute that horrible phrase to Darwin. Did Darwin actually say that? I can’t find a single reference anywhere that claims he said this, yet the author uses quotes! Twice!

    If this phrase the author’s own fabrication, how utterly terrible that he chose those particular ugly words. I think it might speak more to his own racial insensitivities than Darwin’s.

  9. #9 Hank
    September 4, 2007

    Simon G: An internet “debate” classic. When in doubt, make stuff up and hope noone calls you out on it.

  10. #10 Anton Mates
    September 4, 2007

    Darwin was related to Wedgewood?

    Very much so. Emma was a Wedgwood; the Darwins and Wedgwoods had interbred continuously for the last few generations. Lots of cousin-marrying.

  11. #11 Zeno
    September 4, 2007

    Yeah, what Ryan said.

    Goddam quote fabricators!

    In my mercy, however, I assume they’re stupid and don’t comprehend the proper use of quotation marks. Otherwise I would be forced to conclude that they’re profoundly dishonest.

    Or both.

  12. #12 Anton Mates
    September 4, 2007

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned how intellectually dishonest it is for the author of the third quoted comment to attribute that horrible phrase to Darwin. Did Darwin actually say that?

    No, of course not. Darwin didn’t refer to anybody that way, and negroid Africans in particular were quite high on his personal “intellectual giftedness” scale. He expected the black population of Brazil to revolt and establish their own republic, because he thought they were smarter and more industrious than their Portuguese masters.

    IIRC the most primitive living races, in Darwin’s estimation, were the Khoi-San, the aboriginal Australians and the Tierra del Fuegans. But even with them he took pains to point out how similar they were in basic mental ability to Englishmen. In fact, Darwin believed that different races could reverse their relative intellectual gap on a scale of decades, depending on how much their societies selected for intelligence; now the Greeks were ahead, now the Spanish, now the British, now the Americans.

    I suspect that if Darwin had actually met any Khoi-San he would have written about their mental gifts as well. It was very rare for him to consider anyone inferior whom he’d met face to face.

  13. #13 tim gueguen
    September 4, 2007

    Given that we live on a geologically active planet in some ways its a surprise we have as many fossils as we do.

  14. #14 ngong
    September 4, 2007

    If the ID folks are doing real science, why do they feel the knee-jerk response to spin every new paper as fast as possible? When was the last time you heard one of these fools say something like, “there are a number of possible interpretations” or “further studies are needed” or “speculation would be premature”? They only confirm that the suspicions that ID is a dead end, and the DI is merely a PR machine.

    There was a big circle jerk at Dembski’s site last week…they had somehow managed to convince themselves that the evidence for transcription of relatively unconstrained sequences (from the ENCODE study) was strongly supportive of design. Huh?

  15. #15 Snark7
    September 4, 2007

    The “If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes…” argument is even stupider than you show it to be.
    It’s clearly one of the dumbest arguments ever. It would be wrong, even IF evolutionary theory would require the evolved-from species to die out.

    Why? Because this is -in the case of the apes- exactly whats currently happening! Let’s cite wikipedia:

    “Most ape species are rare or endangered. The chief threat to most of the endangered species is loss of tropical rainforest habitat, though some populations are further imperiled by hunting for bushmeat.”

    My sure-fire method of silencing this idiot argument is not to state that ET doesn’t require this (which might be perceived as a cop-out) but to state: “That’s whats currently HAPPENING. Apes ARE getting extinct because of humans NOW. Some are quite close to extinction already. Orang Utan? Gorilla? Give it another 1000 years and see which apes remain….”

  16. #16 Mike Eslea
    September 4, 2007

    If I am descended from apes, how come there are still apes? Hmmm. If I am descended from my parents, how come I have a brother? Eh? Answer me that, creationists!

  17. #17 Venger
    September 4, 2007

    http://iacs5.ucsd.edu/~pbang/dance_monkeys.htm

    Dance Monkeys Dance by Ernie Clive

  18. #18 Kuhlmancanadensis
    September 4, 2007

    Thank you, #17. Thoroughly enjoyable!

  19. #19 Ex Patriot
    September 4, 2007

    The only thing that has not evolved is the brains of the creationists, their brains evidently have lost the ability to evolve and are still stuck in the distant past some where

  20. #20 hoary puccoon
    September 4, 2007

    PZ,
    You quoted,
    “If Darwinian evolution says that man evolved from apes, and when a species evolves from other species, isn’t the old, evolved-from species supposed to die out from natural selection? If so, why are there still apes?”

    And answered, no, “the old species isn’t supposed to die out from natural selection.”

    Well, actually, Darwin DID argue that the old species would tend to die out– “Natural selection…leads to divergence of character and to much extinction of the less improved and intermediate forms of life.” (2nd ed. OoS, Summary Ch.4)

    So, the correct answer to “Why are there still apes?” is “Because the apes went on evolving into niches where they didn’t compete with hominids.”

    (And as Snark7 points out, we may drive them extinct anyway.)

  21. #21 Mick
    September 4, 2007

    Tennessee? As in Dayton, Tennessee? As in the place where in 1925 a high school teacher was found guilty of violating state law by teaching the theory of evolution?

  22. #22 Ex-drone
    September 4, 2007

    Ludite commenter writes:

    who cares
    People who blog are idiots and continue to prove it by their use of verbiage to impress. Get a life!

    So why are you (a) reading a blog, and (b) interrupting your own enriched, blogless life by commenting here?

  23. #23 David Marjanovi?
    September 4, 2007

    The coelecanth [sic] and the crocodile are a couple of good examples.

    As soon as someone says “the crocodile”, singular, you know you’re dealing with profound ignorance.

    Never mind that the Indonesian coelacanth, discovered in 1998, is a separate, though fairly closely related, species (Latimeria menadoensis)…

  24. #24 David Marjanovi?
    September 4, 2007

    The coelecanth [sic] and the crocodile are a couple of good examples.

    As soon as someone says “the crocodile”, singular, you know you’re dealing with profound ignorance.

    Never mind that the Indonesian coelacanth, discovered in 1998, is a separate, though fairly closely related, species (Latimeria menadoensis)…

  25. #25 resident_alien
    September 4, 2007

    So,if apple juice is made from apples,how come there are still apples?

  26. #26 PlatypusZero
    September 4, 2007

    I would give anything for a prehensile tail.

  27. #27 SLC
    September 4, 2007

    It should be pointed out that the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans in fact died out several million years ago.

  28. #28 Jim RL
    September 4, 2007

    How can people possibly think that the existence of apes disproves evolution? Darwin obviously knew that apes weren’t extinct. It’s extreme arrogance to think that something so friggin’ obvious to everyone would disprove evolution. Saying apes still exist isn’t insightful, and actually the species we and chimps evolved from is long extinct. How you can be so against something you obviously know nothing about is stunning.

  29. #29 Coragyps
    September 4, 2007

    “Evolution went over well is racist hell holes like Tennessee…”

    I’m calling Poe’s Law on this one….

  30. #30 Phoenix Woman
    September 4, 2007

    The argument that racist communities tended to favor evolution is mostly a reversal of the truth — there were some people who used evolution to argue for the inferiority of certain people, but the Bible belt is simultaneously a hotbed of anti-evolutionism and racism.

    To paraphrase Randi Rhodes: Always pay attention to what the right-wingers are accusing us of doing, because it’s usually stuff that they themselves are doing. (The psychiatric term for it is “projection”.)

    One of the bedrock justifications for both slavery in the US and apartheid in South Africa was, in fact, Biblical: The idea that blacks were “the sons of Ham”, Ham being a disobedient son of Noah, and thus destined to be the “hewers of wood and drawers of water”, the servants to the other tribes.

  31. #31 craig
    September 4, 2007

    That Tennessee comment almost has me suspected a troll. Tennessee? TENNESSEE?

  32. #32 Reinis
    September 4, 2007

    National Geographic changed the title to “New Fossil Ape May Shake Human Family Tree”, by the way.

  33. #33 Someone
    September 4, 2007

    Consider the sentence “parrots are evolved from birds”. A true sentence, certainly, but somewhat weird. Parrots are birds, and the common ancestor of, say, parrots and flamingos, is extinct. Furthermore, it doesn’t take much misinterpretation to think that this sentence implies that parrots aren’t birds.

    That’s why I think the sentence “humans are evolved from apes” should be avoided. It seems to imply (to the untrained eye) that humans aren’t apes, and/or that humans are somehow “special”. The sentences “humans are apes” and “All apes, including humans, are evolved from a now-extinct species of ape” do not have these disadvantages.

  34. #34 stogoe
    September 4, 2007

    I would give anything for a prehensile tail.

    Okay, give me both your opposable thumbs, and I’ll see if I can’t rustle you up a prehensile tail. I’ve always wanted more thumbs. There’s a lot of bone, but if you batter and deep fry them, they’re delicious.

  35. #35 Rey Fox
    September 4, 2007

    “So why are you (a) reading a blog, and (b) interrupting your own enriched, blogless life by commenting here?”

    My guess is that these people, for whatever reason, find themselves at these sites, possibly because one of their trog friends e-mailed them a link (“hur hur, this guy totally trashes the monkey-men scientists), then they kept reading and realized the issue was not quite as one-sided as one may think, and that many people have their own opinions and observations on it, and this ignites some unconscious or semiconscious shame in them, so they lash out at the bloggers and commenters in the only way they know how.

    At the very least, I prefer to think this rather than entertain the notion that there really are people that un-self-aware and contradictory who still think they’re clever. That would just be too depressing.

  36. #36 Brownian
    September 4, 2007

    If blacks are discriminated against because of Darwinism, then how come slavery preceded the Origin of Species?

  37. #37 Margaret
    September 4, 2007

    If the United States (or Western civilization, or whatever) evolved from Biblical priciples, how come the Bible still exists?

  38. #38 Anton Mates
    September 4, 2007

    If blacks are discriminated against because of Darwinism, then how come slavery preceded the Origin of Species?

    Because it’s such an unholy, malevolent book that its evil effects actually travelled backwards in time.

    A similar phenomenon accounts for the Origin inspiring antisemitism not only in Hitler, but also in Martin Luther and the New Testament. Hell, Eve probably ate the apple because retrotemporal evilwaves from Darwin made her think that the snake was her cousin.

  39. #39 Sastra
    September 4, 2007

    JimRL wrote:

    How can people possibly think that the existence of apes disproves evolution? Darwin obviously knew that apes weren’t extinct. It’s extreme arrogance to think that something so friggin’ obvious to everyone would disprove evolution.

    The same people usually think the Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves evolution — and nobody ever noticed till creationists pointed it out!

    As for evolution and racism, my understanding is that Hitler and many of the Nazis had a strange sort of theology which mixed a little science up with an underlying background of hierarchal religious thinking: Aryans were the descendants of Adam and Eve, directly created by God in His image, and negroes, Jews, slavs, and other lower races evolved from apes.

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    September 4, 2007

    It should be pointed out that the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans in fact died out several million years ago.

    It didn’t die out. It became pseudoextinct, as the little-used term is; it ceased to exist without dying.

    retrotemporal evilwaves

    ROTFL!!!

  41. #41 David Marjanovi?
    September 4, 2007

    It should be pointed out that the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans in fact died out several million years ago.

    It didn’t die out. It became pseudoextinct, as the little-used term is; it ceased to exist without dying.

    retrotemporal evilwaves

    ROTFL!!!

  42. #42 Kseniya
    September 4, 2007

    [awards one MP to Anton]

  43. #43 David Ratnasabapathy
    September 5, 2007

    Brian:

    I’m happy to say humans evolved from apes and still are apes.

    You might find this fun reading: the talk.origins post of the month for May 2003. “You Are an Ape” by Aron-Ra

  44. #44 Steve Ballmer
    September 5, 2007

    Hoo…hoo!!!!HOOOHOOOOHOOO!

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