Pharyngula

The argument from oranges

What is it with creationists and fruit? I hope you’ve had your coffee already, because this is an unpleasant way to wake up. The clip below is from a public hearing in Orlando, Florida, in which citizens had a chance to stand up and state their opinions of evolution. Are you braced to handle a little smug and stupid this morning?

I’m sure this guy thought he was rhetorically brilliant, with a knock-’em dead argument against evolution. Why, nobody with any common sense could possibly believe that people (or their pets) could be related to an orange! Just pointing out the obvious to everyone, that round orange fruits don’t look anything like furry mobile animals, will reveal the absurdity of evolution.

Unfortunately for Mr Dallas Ellis, we really don’t have any problem seeing the similarities between oranges and kitty cats — scientists look a little deeper than he does. Slice an orange and put it under a microscope, and what do you see? Cells. Slice a cat and look at it under a microscope, and what do you see? Cells. We find similar organelles: cytoplasm, nuclei, mitochondria, etc. The contents use similar metabolic processes, and we find the same chemicals. The nuclei contain DNA, and we can compare the sequences — and we find similarities there (they are related) but many differences as well (they are distantly related — one estimate for the last common ancestor of plants and animals says they diverged roughly 1.6 billion years ago). Mr Ellis is relying on his profound ignorance of the basic building blocks of biology to make a superficial case.

Let’s not even get into his closing remarks, trying to compare evolution to trucks full of poultry and garbage colliding, and spontaneously fusing maggots and turkeys to produce the school board. It’s simply more evidence that he’s a clueless old git.

I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea that I’m a distant relative of every creeping, crawling, blooming, squirming organism on the planet, but I do have to admit to some discomfort at being related to Mr Ellis. An orange has evolved no neurons and at least has an excuse for being unthinking, and hasn’t evolved speech and so spares us its mindless gibbering.

Comments

  1. #1 Escuerd
    February 16, 2008

    How embarrassing for him.

  2. #2 Dídac
    February 16, 2008

    Anyway, you can deny the ‘reality’ of cells and DNA. If scientists are wicked enough to defend evolution, they can also have fabricated all the ‘evidence’ of the cell theory and the DNA theory of biological information.

    So to speak, human language allow us to defend virtually anything.

  3. #3 ChemBob
    February 16, 2008

    I don’t know how you do it PZ. I watched about a minute and became too aggravated to watch anymore. Such smugness combined with such ignorance and the “AMEN”s in the background. YEC! I mean YUCK!

  4. #4 negentropyeater
    February 16, 2008

    If it weren’t with these people in the background, I would have thought this was a scene from a movie taking place at the end of the 19th century.

    You know sometimes, I start wondering about this American value called “fairness”.
    I mean, there’s one side of me that says, ok, let’s be fair, let’s give idiot ignorant people like this guy a chance to express their opinion. But there’s the other side of me that says, why bother ?

    Does anybody else share the same dilemma ?

  5. #5 Rick Schauer
    February 16, 2008

    …and that video is solid observable evidence of the complete and utter failure of general education in the USA (at least in Florida.) What a shame and pity. We all have much work to do to correct this shameful ignorance…or we may be doomed.

  6. #6 really
    February 16, 2008

    Pastor Ellis….

    his church

  7. #7 Joe Bob
    February 16, 2008

    How coud a orunge an my kat be rulated? Their not even the same culur!

  8. #8 Aaron
    February 16, 2008

    Well I didn’t read all the literature he read, but I’m convinced that the orange is more intelligent.

  9. #9 Anon
    February 16, 2008

    I thought it was bananas that were the atheist’s nightmare.

  10. #10 Aaron
    February 16, 2008

    Shouldn’t have paused it in the middle…politicians are turkey-maggot hybrids? I’d buy that one.

  11. #11 mojoandy
    February 16, 2008

    What was this fine upstanding Floridian doing at a rest stop chatting up truck drivers? Is there a certain creationist rest stop signal or is it just foot tapping like the rest?

  12. #12 Snark7
    February 16, 2008

    “What is it with creationists and fruit ?”

    Well, seeing as how they are all complete fruitcakes, the relation should be obvious….

    Wikipedia: Fruitcake is also used, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, as insulting slang for a ‘crazy person’ (e.g. “he’s a complete fruitcake”).[4] It is derived from the expression “nutty as a fruitcake”, which was first recorded in 1935.

  13. #13 BaldApe
    February 16, 2008

    As I pointed out elsewhere re: this moron, he is actually more closely related to fungus than to an orange.

    It is amusing that when an atheist has an insufficiently nuanced view of a particular version of the invisible friend mythology, he just doesn’t know what he is talking about. OTOH, a creationist can talk in apparent seriousness about turkey trucks colliding with waste trucks as a cause of evolution…..

  14. #14 chancelikely
    February 16, 2008

    You know, he’s not even related to the orange itself, he’s related to the tree that dropped the orange.

    And since it’s probably seedless and non-reproductive, he might as well hold up his cat’s nail trimmings.

  15. #15 Eddy
    February 16, 2008

    ok, as a non-native english speaker, let’s see if I get this right

    Origin of the species says that everything is related. Therefore, if I get the gist right, this man thinks that all things are *relatives* and therefore the orange (which, btw, is just a bearer of seed and not an individual) should be related to a diseased pet.

    This kind of word-play always drives me nuts in this kind of “reasoning”.

    The sad thing is that this person probably comes from a corner of the world where anybody is related to anybody else in a given area, so the idea might be too strong in his mind.

    Or did I get it wrong?

    I, too, had to pause the movie, find a way to relax before I could continue the next part. This is so mind-numbingly stupid that I my brain can’t handle it in one go.

  16. #16 Form&Function
    February 16, 2008

    I have not yet had my coffee, and my mind, she don’t work so gud without it. Did I really just see that? I had the same reaction I get when I’m home for the holidays and my parents watch Judge Judy or People’s Court on TV–I can’t actually look at the screen to watch the people embarrass themselves.

    What keeps going through my mind is why did he choose pets? Of all things, why the household cat or dog? Is it just because the horror of even suggesting oranges are related to humans was too great? Or was it because he knew he’d quote Darwin saying that “all animals and all plants” are related to each other and couldn’t bear to include humans in that phrase?

    BAH! I don’t know why I’m trying to probe the creationist mind when my own is so poorly caffeinated.

  17. #17 Form&Function
    February 16, 2008

    I have not yet had my coffee, and my mind, she don’t work so gud without it. Did I really just see that? I had the same reaction I get when I’m home for the holidays and my parents watch Judge Judy or People’s Court on TV–I can’t actually look at the screen to watch the people embarrass themselves.

    What keeps going through my mind is why did he choose pets? Of all things, why the household cat or dog? Is it just because the horror of even suggesting oranges are related to humans was too great? Or was it because he knew he’d quote Darwin saying that “all animals and all plants” are related to each other and couldn’t bear to include humans in that phrase?

    BAH! I don’t know why I’m trying to probe the creationist mind when my own is so poorly caffeinated.

  18. #18 dalai_lala
    February 16, 2008

    I’m so embarrassed for my city… sigh…

    I, and many members of our local atheist/freethought org, have been emailing and signing petitions and some have been appearing at these meetings… We are so very outnumbered down here.

  19. #19 Dídac
    February 16, 2008

    Well, if you compare the techniques used by the International Citrus Genomics Consortium and the Human Genome Project… Dobzhanski said that modern biology has no sense without evolution…

    But if we turn the reasoning, we can ask the Creationists: How it is possible for one single Creator to create beings so different like an orange and a man?. And if you believe in the Bible you must cope to the fact that all human diversity originated from a single family 4500 years ago! But, perhaps modern creationist may believe African and Asian people are not Noachides, at all, but “beasts saved by Noah”.

  20. #20 Holbach
    February 16, 2008

    Good grief! Senility coupled with insanity in the ever-
    present state of deranged Florida

  21. #21 thalarctos
    February 16, 2008

    Although it’s very risky to draw conclusions about particular individuals from statistical trends about populations, I’d say that–provisionally, and contingent on any later evidence that may contradict it–there is an excellent chance that, given his creationist beliefs, he also holds the patriarchal male-supremacist attitudes that seem to correlate so neatly with creationism.

    Regarding that Y-chromosome that I’m guessing he’s so fond of, I’d love to be the one to introduce Mr. Ellis to Ray Ming’s work in Hawai’i, and watch his head explode:

    Liu Z, Moore PH, Ma H, Ackerman CM, Ragiba M, Yu Q, Pearl HM, Kim MS, Charlton JW, Stiles JI, Zee FT, Paterson AH, Ming R. A primitive Y chromosome in papaya marks incipient sex chromosome evolution. Nature. 2004 Jan 22;427(6972):348-52.

  22. #22 Eric Paulsen
    February 16, 2008

    You are not possibly serious right? This is only a joke? Get a microscope and see the cells. Follow up the experiments and “see” the DNA double helix. I am sure PZ can be more specific as to how to “see” these, but you get my point… – Posted by: Stavros

    To NORMAL people who are not at war with rationality your proposal sounds sane Stavros but these people are trying to help Adam ‘un-eat’ the apple. Everything bad in our world stems from our ill gotten intelligence acquired when Eve purloined yet another magical fruit from yawehs garden. You say saying is believing?

    They say believing is not seeing.

  23. #23 Zak
    February 16, 2008

    To quote Christopher Hitchens in regards to this type of religious inspired, willful stupidity, “There are no statements worth arguing here… All you can do is underline them!”

  24. #24 Diego
    February 16, 2008

    Wow, it’s a triple-header of heart-break! I love Florida and yet there is the shame of having such wackos. I love oranges and yet I have to see the poor innocent fruit so abused by this twisted man. And I love evolution and yet I have to see it so plainly misunderstood and mangled.

  25. #25 Ktesibios
    February 16, 2008

    spontaneously fusing maggots and turkeys to produce the school board

    Hey, that’s one of the more plausible explanations for the existence of creationists on school boards that I’ve seen so far.

  26. #26 MRL
    February 16, 2008

    That twit in the video leaves me no choice but to pull up the one immortal quote from “Billy Madison”:

    “…what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

  27. #27 truth machine
    February 16, 2008

    It’s worth noting what little concern fundies have for mere human ethics. Only God was going to tell this guy when his time was up.

  28. #28 386sx
    February 16, 2008

    The video was pulled from YouTube but I found it here

    Nope it’s still on youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5UiUWa34cY

    Still there.

  29. #29 June
    February 16, 2008

    Yes, Janine, he is arguing like an idiot, but you cannot nail him directly for that since it’s ad hominem. But he is actually making (and mocking) the case for Evolution, so one might try agreeing with him. Imagine a meeting where a member responds: “Actually, you are correct! It is a fact that green plants and animals have a common ancestor about 500 mya. But you are not ‘related’ to an orange by blood.”

  30. #30 Herbert
    February 16, 2008

    Personally I thought Mr. Dallas was very articulate for a retarded person.

  31. #31 October Mermaid
    February 16, 2008

    Maybe it was stupid and a waste of time, but I went ahead and emailed him about this, just to explain where he is missing the point about this. I tried to be polite and respectful, but he might ignore me or get irritated. I guess that’s his decision, but I thought, you know, why not try, right?

  32. #32 Ribozyme
    February 16, 2008

    The best comment at YouTube.com (by DominoFalls):

    That was like getting bukkaked with stupid.

    Uhg. It’s in my eyes.

  33. #33 kj
    February 16, 2008

    Mockery and name-calling is not helpful from either end. Ignorance is rooted in fear. We ought to have compassion for those who live in such fear that they are unable to explore their world fully.

  34. #34 Monado, FCD
    February 17, 2008

    I’ll second “The Orange of Species” as the book he probably read.

  35. #35 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    February 17, 2008

    Bloody pit nickers. In angiosperms it is the ovary that matures to become the fruit.

    It would just have been interesting to watch him squirm when told that he was holding part of a reproductive system as opposed to the whole organism. All this based on my stereotype of the religious and how they actively try to avoid having people learn about the mechanisms of sex.

  36. #36 Second Amendment Sister
    February 17, 2008

    I thought these guys objected to apes and humans being related. When did that change? Why the cats and dogs? After all orange and orangutan both start with the same five letters. And orangutans have orange colored hair. And orangutan is Malay for forest man. And Clint Eastwood had an orangutan who went to truck stops. It’s all clearly related. Are we sure this guy didn’t talk to an orangutan at a truck stop, in the bathroom. Isn’t it more likely the orangutang refused his offer of fellatio and instead mocked him for being chicken to take it in his garbage chute? It would explain the truck metaphor, he can’t get the encounter out of his head.

    But what self-respecting orangutan would want to be in the same room as this loser?

  37. #37 Jim
    February 17, 2008

    No wonder creationists get their way. If I were on that school board, I would vote what ever way they wanted to avoid listening to fruits like pastor Ellis.

  38. #38 -R
    February 17, 2008

    #66 through #72 (edit)

    Sorry to come back so late in the game here, but I’ve heard figures of human ancestors dating back as far as 10,000-20,000 years, and in some cases, while reading articles/high-school textbooks or watching/listening to interviews, I’ve heard numbers like 50,000 and 100,000 thrown out there too. Now granted, I threw out the figure ‘a few thousand’ for rhetoric’s sake, because it’s nice and round and fits somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 years of cousins begotten of cousins humanly classifiable. But because I’ve heard so many different figures thrown around for as long as I’ve been conscious of the evolutionary mechanism, I am quite curious to know roughly how removed I might be from various populations of humans, and from the first definitive emergence of our very first fully human ancestors. Most especially, and I accept that this may be a silly and long answered question (it is rare you can accuse me of hula-hooping), I’d like to know which range of time that humans are likely to have first appeared is accepted in the academic sphere of archeology and evolutionary biology…if such a general consensus exists.

    Any expert opinions on the matter?

  39. #39 kev_s
    February 17, 2008

    Maybe Jesus was an orange too. Don’t they sing that carol at Christmas “Orange in a manger, no crib for a bed” ?

  40. #40 Tim
    February 17, 2008

    God, what an arrogant, ignorant dildo. Too bad when he wouldn’t stop even after being told his time was up, they didn’t hold him down and tase him like the don’t-tase-me-bro kid. ;)

    (I’m kidding of course. Just imagine the uproar from ‘persecuted Christians’ if that happened.)

  41. #41 windy
    February 17, 2008

    Now granted, I threw out the figure ‘a few thousand’ for rhetoric’s sake, because it’s nice and round and fits somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 years of cousins begotten of cousins humanly classifiable. But because I’ve heard so many different figures thrown around for as long as I’ve been conscious of the evolutionary mechanism, I am quite curious to know roughly how removed I might be from various populations of humans, and from the first definitive emergence of our very first fully human ancestors.

    The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of humans is much more recent than the first modern human. Several different figures can be correct, since they are estimating different things. You might have heard of Mitochondrial Eve, the ancestor of all humans through the female line only, and she’s estimated to have lived 130,000 years ago. But if you calculate descent through both males and females, there are a lot more possible ways to be related, and it turns out that the MRCA of all living humans probably lived only a few thousand years ago (like Erp said in #70).

    There’s no single way to calculate how far removed you are from different populations of humans, since you’ll have a mixture of recent and a bit less recent ancestors. The same with your cousin (if you didn’t mean that figuratively): your most recent common ancestor was 2 generations back (or more if not a first cousin), but you have other ancestors that go a bit further back.

  42. #42 Kristine
    February 17, 2008

    He doesn’t even make sense. It’s not a matter of not paying attention in Biology class – it’s simply too much speaking in glossolalia, because that’s what he’s doing here.

  43. #43 Duff
    February 17, 2008

    I think it truly wonderful how this man has instantly become world famous for being a complete moron. May His Pastiferous Holiness continue to bless the internet.

  44. #44 Ragutis
    February 17, 2008

    Looked into Grand Ridge a little more. Checking out the Google map, what struck me as particularly sad was that this moron lives around 20 miles from a nice big honkin clue that the planet is quite a bit more than 6000 yrs. old. and shaped by a long slow progression of processes rather than a snap of divine fingers:

    http://www.floridastateparks.org/floridacaverns/

  45. #45 truth machine
    February 17, 2008

    But what progress on how cells got their act together to begin with?

    Why don’t you look into it and get back to us. You can start with http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=abiogenesis&as_ylo=2007

  46. #46 Sean LeBlanc
    February 17, 2008

    At the 146 mark, it’s the third science teacher defending nonsense.

    I’m so glad I didn’t have any of these geniuses for a science teacher, and I feel sorry for those that do have these people for teachers.

  47. #47 Jonesy
    February 18, 2008

    He seems more like a nut than an orange to me.

  48. #48 Video
    March 2, 2008

    I challenge someone to find Interstate 60. But then, why get any facts straight he coffee maker, laughed at me for not consulting him before I watched that.