Pharyngula

Dr Who? Dr Dawkins!

It’s a very, very short moment, practically an aside, in a recent Dr Who episode, but there he is.

I guess Richard Dawkins has finally made it.

Comments

  1. #1 Doc Bill
    June 29, 2008

    Dang!

    I was hoping that Dawkins got to exclaim:

    “Exterminate! Exterminate!”

    Seriously, I’d make that my ringtone.

  2. #2 stannley
    June 29, 2008

    I like this one much better.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=zaKryi3605g

    Darwinism is a big fat lie that only true religious wackos would believe.

  3. #3 Steve P.
    June 29, 2008

    I had a dream about PZ last night…

    I need to get out more.

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    June 29, 2008

    Mr Stan-the-fuckwit: your tedious schtick is wearing out its welcome. You’re done here, unless you can see fit to actually ask a question politely and actually pay attention to the answer.

    I don’t think you’re capable of it.

  5. #5 Glen Davidson
    June 29, 2008

    See, he’s just opposing Dumbski in order to make a name for himself. Even gets him on Dr. Who.

    Well, it is a charge Dumbski made against one scientist in particular, and against scientists in general.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  6. #6 SEF
    June 29, 2008

    The incongruous part of it was that they were having him, a biologist, be interviewed on the topic of anomalous planets and stars (pointing out that the Earth had moved rather than other things coming to the vicinity of the Earth). In the UK, the proper celebrity interviewee for such an occasion would be Patrick Moore.

  7. #7 Glen Davidson
    June 29, 2008

    Darwinism is a big fat lie that only true religious wackos would believe.

    Iz Y Expelled claims only atheists believe in evolution, no doubt.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  8. #8 Al
    June 29, 2008

    Stan, that wasn’t Richard Dawkins, that was an auton!

  9. #9 uknesvuinng
    June 29, 2008

    Did anyone else think it kinda weird that Dawkins was on TV (in the show) discussing astronomy? I realize it’s fiction and all, but would a news program tap a biologist to discuss astronomical happenings?

    I’m surprised Phil isn’t making something of this. Although, if astronomy’s so easy that biologists can do it in a pinch, I suppose he’d wanna keep that on the down low. :P

  10. #10 Kel
    June 29, 2008

    I saw it, and it was beautiful.

  11. #11 Anna Granfors
    June 29, 2008

    Doctor Who’s showrunner, Russell T Davies, has long been an out and proud atheist (see his wonderful earlier miniseries “The Second Coming” featuring a latter-day messiah played by “Ninth Doctor” Christopher Eccleston), so it’s not surprising to see Dawkins guesting.

  12. #12 stanley
    June 29, 2008

    PZ: “Mr Stan-the-fuckwit: your tedious schtick is wearing out its welcome. You’re done here, unless you can see fit to actually ask a question politely and actually pay attention to the answer.

    I don’t think you’re capable of it.”

    ok….here’s one that went unanswered from another thread…(reworded at your request)

    any of you evos come up with a random mutation that adds a new (non-duplicated) bodily structure, such as a part of the aforementioned octopus? You’ve got millions of body parts in the world to choose from, and life supposedly started with a one-celled organism that lacked arms and legs and organs, so your dumb “science” has got quite a bit to account for in the world.

    Heck…got any controlled scientific studies/experiments proving natural selection’s ability to adapt an animal population genetically? And just where are all those common ancestors — or even just one of them? (your wet dreams don’t count.)

  13. #13 Peter Mc
    June 29, 2008

    This series of Doctor Who been excellent.

    Doc Bill, Prof Dawkins is too softly spoken to do a good ‘Exterminate!’ It has to be in a deranged, cracked metallic counter tenor rising in pitch and volume with each ejaculation. That Phelps chap with some a/c passed through his nipple rings would probably be better.

  14. #14 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    “unanswered from another thread” means that he didn’t read any of the numerous answers from the other thread, most of which included linked references.

  15. #15 Matt A
    June 29, 2008

    There are two points to be made regarding this; first, it seemed to me to be a gentle poke in the eye to those who insist that skeptics and atheists – Richard Dawkins being a very prominent example, certainly as far as the media are concerned – will always argue against extraordinary events, insisting that it has to be some sort of fraud. Instead, what you get is RD saying, in effect, that if extraordinary proof is provided, then he will not be standing around insisting it’s all a big trick.

    The second point is that he’s practically due an honorary Doctorate, if you follow my meaning; friend of Douglas Adams (who was a scriptwriter and script editor for Doctor Who during the Tom Baker era), and married to the second Romana! Well, the actress who played her. And she was formerly married – briefly – to Tom Baker. All he needs is a planet, race, or medical condition* named after him within the show, and he’ll be due a key to the TARDIS. I imagine his first order of business, on being presented with a time machine, would be to gather all the creationists he could find and take them back into deep time to witness evolution in action.

    And if he did such a thing, what are the odds that said creationists would insist that it was all some sort of trick?

    * “Grimwade’s Syndrome”, an irrational fear of robots, was named for Peter Grimwade, who was directing model sequences for the show. Of course, it’s fair to say that in a story called “The Robots Of Death”, the fear of robots is not irrational… oh, never mind.

  16. #16 Chelonian
    June 29, 2008

    Never mind the fact that it’s a biologist discussing astronomy; the point is that it’s Richard Dawkins on Dr. Who, which we’ve been awaiting for years! It’s like the completion of the Holy Trinity on the Whoniverse… Get this: Dawkins was a fan of Douglas (Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) Adams, who wrote for Dr Who back in the day and worked with Lalla (Romanavortrundelar, or Romana II for short, on Dr Who, in the days of Tom Baker) Ward; they became fast friends and Dawkins invited Adams to read a short excerpt of his work on the 1990 Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institute; somewhere along the line Adams introduced Dawkins to Lalla Ward, who later became his wife (and is sometimes referred to as Saint Lalla among Whovians). See what I mean about Holy Trinity of Who? It was only a matter of time before Dawkins got a guest spot on Dr. Who :-)

  17. #17 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Stan, why does duplication and modification of limbs, digits etc. not count as valid, beneficial mutation? I gave you the example of the thumb, which answered your question.

    I also told you I’m not a scientist, and I’m still not. Six months ago I knew bugger-all about how evolution worked, but you know what I did?

    Research. Reading, listening, paying attention. It gave me all the answers I needed to understand. So I’ll have a shot at explaining it to you – and the experts can point out anything I’ve missed and/or explained incorrectly.

    Duplication is a perfect illustration of why evolution is real. That’s the whole point of evolution – it’s not the sudden appearance of a whole new feature (that’d be magic, which is what evolution proponents are against, not for) – it’s the slow, gradual modification of beneficial features. It has to start with what is essentially duplication.

    Some more examples: claws on crabs, lobsters and other crustaceans; envenoming devices like fangs on snakes and stingers on scorpions.

  18. #18 Jon D
    June 29, 2008

    @stanley
    It appears as if you merely troll the comments threads around here without actually paying attention to anything that has been said.
    If you actually read any of the posts, you might have noticed a number of entries very recently that provided the examples you asked for.
    For example, new structures:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/still_just_a_lizard.php
    where a population of lizards introduced to a new environment evolved wider, deeper and longer skulls with stronger bites, as well as cecal valves in their guts because of the change in their diets.

    Or if you like, the more recent entry:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/historical_contingency_in_the.php
    where E. Coli evolved the ability to metalobize Citrate.

    So perhaps you should engage your brain before you shoot your mouth off next time.

  19. #19 Chelonian
    June 29, 2008

    Ah, Matt A beat me to it. But his post prompts me to add, in true Whovian geek fashion, that’s there’s another relevant connection: to evolution! Lalla Ward played Romana II in City of Death with Tom Baker, wherein an alien wants to travel back in time in order to avert a disaster that befalls his spaceship containing the last of his people. However, the Doctor cannot allow this to happen because the explosion that destroys his spaceship is the “spark” that causes life to emerge from the primordial soup of Earth’s oceans, and thence to evolve into the diversity we presently enjoy. (Incidentally, this is very similar to a major plot point of Douglas Adams’ “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”). So again, you’ve got Doctor Who threading through Lalla Ward and Douglas Adams, via the question of life, evolution and everything, to Richard Dawkins. Isn’t it just beautiful?

  20. #20 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    For stannley:
    Here’s a real-world example of a new feature evolving in a lizard species, in about 30 generations.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/still_just_a_lizard.php

    The link is PZ’s writeup of the article, and is an amazingly easy read, even for us layfolk.

  21. #21 RamblinDude
    June 29, 2008

    In the interest of fairness: this is Richard Dawkins’ response to that so called being “stumped” video that stannley so gleefully draws attention to.

    …the long pause occurred when I tumbled to the fact that the film-makers were creationists, and I had been tricked into allowing them an interview. I was trying to decide how to handle the difficult diplomatic situation. Should I throw them out immediately? Should I answer the question? Should I stop the interview and discuss their dishonesty with them before deciding whether to allow the interview to continue? I eventually took the third option. It later turned out that they used the long pause to make it look as though I was unable to answer the question. At the end of the long pause, they cut to a scene of me talking about something completely different (presumably the answer to another question which was cut), to make it look as though I was evading the question by changing the subject.

  22. #22 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    Bah, Jon D beat me to it, and had a better post.

    So which American tv show is cool enough to give PZ a cameo? Once one show does it all the others will have to jump on the bandwagon.

  23. #23 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    City of Death also featured a cameo from John Cleese, who can be seen admiring the TARDIS in the museum where it landed.

  24. #24 Dave
    June 29, 2008

    Stan @ #12: Random mutations that add novel body structures are quite common. However, people are generally alarmed by them, so they are typically known as tumors. (Note that a tumor is not ‘cancer’ unless it metastasizes, and I am not talking about cancer here). Depending on the tumor’s tissue of origin, the tumors can appear to be things like lumps, or moles, or even (for bone or keratin-derived tumors) — horns, which are quite common in the historical medical literature. Of course most mutations are not in germ cells, and therefore most tumors are not inherited, but they are occasionally. Kids who have moles like a parent are a common benign example. (Non-benign examples are genetically-linked cancers — also, unfortunately, rather common). You may argue that things like moles are not adaptive, but in fact ‘beauty marks’ (if indeed they increase the chances of mating) would be an excellent example of an adaptive body part addition. In cold climates, hypertrichosis (look up ‘Jojo the dogfaced boy’ and his family) might be considered another adaptive addition of body part (although you might argue this is duplication, though it’s not really, since this is novel growth rather than simply extension of scalp tissue or something like that)

    So there ya go. Check out some good development or genetics texts for more info. The subject really is fascinating.

  25. #25 Chelonian
    June 29, 2008

    Quite right, Wowbagger – and there’s a connection to the new series there too; in episode 4×02 set in Pompeii, the marble merchant Caercilius (sp?) buys the TARDIS for modern art, which echoes with Cleese’s character’s hilarious mock analysis.

    */me is resolute to bring this post’s discussion back to Dr Who trivia rather than troll-feeding*

  26. #26 amk
    June 29, 2008

    Dawkins holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford and is high profile, so it’s not implausible that he could be asked to explain scientists’ views of bizarre events. I’ve not seen Patrick Moore for years.

  27. #27 speedwell
    June 29, 2008

    Forget it. Stan clearly is not listening or learning, and obviously does not want to be corrupted by listening to us or learning our heretical nonsense. Hand him a box, tell him to clean out his desk, and make room for someone who genuinely wants to exercise their intellect.

    (OFF WITH HIS HEAD!)

  28. #28 Dave
    June 29, 2008

    To #27:

    What heretical nonsense? My answer had nothing to do with religion. It was just biology. Everything example I presented is consistent with there being a God, albeit a God who: 1) likes to strike people down with cancer and give others deformities, or 2) a God who doesn’t bother to stop such stuff happening to many people. But that’s consistent with the personality of God as depicted in the old testament. So no dichotomy, in my opinion. There may very well be a God, I don’t know. But I guarantee if he/she/it is manipulating life here on Earth, he/she/it is doing it using evolution, over really long time periods.

  29. #29 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Speedwell, #27, wrote:

    Stan clearly is not listening or learning

    Yeah, and he’s an expert in goalpost-shifting. At first he was just asking for evidence of beneficial mutations; now he’s decided that anything that could be considered a duplication (I used the opposable thumb as an example) isn’t valid.

    Until we can show him a lizard turning into a chicken he’s going to cry foul – or, at least, ‘not fowl’…

  30. #30 LisaJ
    June 29, 2008

    Very cool! How exciting for Dr. Dawkins.

    Stan, you’re just a loser. Go away until you have something intelligent and on point to contribute.

  31. #31 Ray Mills
    June 29, 2008

    SO have you asked RD to hook you up with a role on Dr WHo yet PZ, incidentally I am sure everyone here has seen it but for those that havent, Rd’s eulogy for Douglas Adams http://www.edge.org/documents/adams_index.html

  32. #32 Peregrine
    June 29, 2008

    Stan-the-man:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMlb5z1ggqM

    Can’t believe you trotted out THAT video of Dawkins: just how gullible are you?

  33. #33 SEF
    June 29, 2008

    I’ve not seen Patrick Moore for years.

    Eh? You can’t have been looking very hard then – assuming you’re at least in the right country. He’s on once a month (or twice if you count the repeat) for The Sky At Night. That’s more UK coverage (and more relevant coverage) than Richard Dawkins usually gets (apart from his documentaries, which weren’t even on the BBC). He’s possibly getting on a bit to be doing the orchestral performances much any more.

  34. #34 SEF
    June 29, 2008

    How exciting for Dr. Dawkins.

    Allegedly it was the rest of the cast and crew who were the excited ones. :-D

  35. #35 Steve P.
    June 29, 2008

    At least stan admits religious wackos believe big fat lies.

  36. #36 Ray Mills
    June 29, 2008

    Somewhere there is a bridge missing its troll, and a village missing its idiot. Answers to the name stan.

  37. #37 speedwell
    June 29, 2008

    @Dave #27:

    1. Wasn’t talking about you.
    2. Why did you jump so fast? Did something I said prick you?
    3. My use of the phrase “heretical nonsense” was sarcasm. For your convenience: sarcasm 2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition 2000)
    4. The religion against which our most cogent and truthful utterances are heresy is evidently Stan’s self-worship, if not his firm faith that he can gain the upper hand over us by repeating the same “magic spells” of argumentation that have proven ineffectual since TalkOrigins first published its famous list of refutations.

  38. #38 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Liars for Jesus™
    There are no depths to which we will not stoop

  39. #39 Norman Doering
    June 29, 2008

    uknesvuinng wrote:

    Did anyone else think it kinda weird that Dawkins was on TV (in the show) discussing astronomy?

    All scientists in TVland are superscientists who know everything, just like Gaius Baltar.

    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2008/06/dawkins-does-who.html

  40. #40 Dave
    June 29, 2008

    To Speedwell, in response to #37:

    1. Oh, sorry then, my mistake. Message board targets are hard to follow sometimes.
    2. Not sure what you mean. Or see #1.
    3. Sorry, missed that. I just think religion and biology are separate topics, too often muddled, and really Stan’s challenge, on the face of it, was straightforward biology. I do not care if he becomes an atheist. But I would hope he learns some developmental biology and genetics.

  41. #41 Doc Bill
    June 29, 2008

    I have a toy Dalek on my desk for years. I would pounce it around exclaiming “Exterminate! Exterminate!”

    I had a lot of quite time in my office as a result.

  42. #42 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    Yeah, stan’s exactly the kind of psychopath that God likes: Belligerent, unintelligent, fanatical, foul-mouthed, and foul-tempered.

    Of course, once they die, they’re no longer of any interest to him at all… Believe me, I saw it happen with the various terrorists and the freedom fighters and the religious warriors, and the Crusaders, and the heretics, and the schismatics, and the martyrs, and on and on.

    And of course, it also happened to me. It took a while for me to get over being a zealot.

    I can barely remember how naive I was, those many centuries ago: “But God, I suffered and died for you!”

    And God said: “So? What do you want from me, a cookie?” (actually, this was before cookies — what he actually said was “some almonds and raisins”)

    But after complaining for a bit, and getting utter indifference back from God, I met up with my forefathers, and all of the great scholars and teachers and scribes and judges. And they were all unanimous in their assessment:
    “God is basically an asshole. Always has been, always will be.”

    Of course, modern psychologists have come up with the lingo to describe various personality traits more scientifically, so they talk about sociopathy, and narcissism, et cetera.

    But we all know what all that boils down to.

  43. #43 God
    June 29, 2008

    My thankless son Jesus wrote:

    God is basically an asshole.

    Actually, I prefer to be called assholy.

    Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.

    Oh, I slay myself sometimes.

    Oh, wait. No I don’t!

    Bwahahahahahaha!

  44. #44 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Well, with that in mind, how about:

    Assholes for Jesus™
    That ‘forgiveness’ shit is for pussies

  45. #45 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    My thankless son Jesus

    I am so not related to you.

  46. #46 Kel
    June 29, 2008

    Heck…got any controlled scientific studies/experiments proving natural selection’s ability to adapt an animal population genetically?

    Why yes we do.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080421-lizard-evolution.html

  47. #47 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    Assholes for Jesus?

    Please, leave me out of this. We all know that stan and Ken Ham, and all the other fundy fucknuts are worshipers of the jealous and raging and mass-murdering God of the original books of Moses and the Prophets.

  48. #48 Carlie
    June 29, 2008

    I just watched that episode today, twice. Squealed with glee each time I saw Dawkins. I was spoilered for pretty much all of it, and it still had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

    Doc Bill, you do know you can get a Dalek for your office desk that actually does stuff, right? ThinkGeek used to sell them, but I can’t find it right now.

  49. #49 Troff
    June 29, 2008

    To be honest, I was kinda disappointed.

    I mean, we hear about this months ago, I expected he’d have a much bigger role. I mean, how about actual dialogue with the Doctor? Or how about the Doctor and the newly-mentally-capable Donna sitting in a Dawkins lecture?

    To have it turn into a few-second spot where (as has been mentioned above) is merely him discussing astronomy…

    … sigh. I mean: yay, Professor Dawkins made it onto the greatest TV show of all time and IDists are still scrabbling for donations (unless you live in Louisiana, I suppose)… but… sigh. The TV screen in my head is much bigger than the one in my lounge.

  50. #50 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Creotards for Yahweh™
    The Flintstones was a documentary

  51. #51 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 29, 2008


    My thankless son Jesus

    I am so not related to you.

    Posted by: Jesus, called Christ

    Sounds like trouble in paradise. I advice everybody seek shelter.

  52. #52 God
    June 29, 2008

    the jealous and raging and mass-murdering God

    Hey, I never actually killed anyone. Well, not directly and personally, anyway.

    Is it My fault that some weather systems can so easily be perturbed into storms?

    Is it My fault that certain bacteria can be so easily engineered to be pathogens? And that these bacteria just so happen to reside inside fleas that live on rats that live near humans?

    Is it My fault that killer apes can be so easily manipulated into killing other killer apes?

    Really, if I had hands, they would be completely clean. Not that I care, anyway.

    Actually, I’m just messing around. Truth of the matter is, sometimes I’m just full of Holy Shit.

  53. #53 Ray Mills
    June 29, 2008

    Has anyone seen the rc daleks, Me Want, well that and a rc bb firing tank http://tinyurl.com/4939v4

  54. #54 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Damn it, where did I put that blasted Babel Fish?

  55. #55 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 29, 2008

    Hey! God! You can tell everybody that this is your song.

  56. #56 MAJeff, OM
    June 29, 2008

    Sounds like trouble in paradise.

    I seem to recall someone here once calling the crucifixion a daddy-son scene gone horribly awry. Are we on the tracks for something similar here?

  57. #57 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    Sounds like trouble in paradise. I advice everybody seek shelter.

    Huh? No, once you figure out that you don’t have to be afraid of God, he pretty much doesn’t give a rip about what you say about him or to him.

    Sometimes he likes messing with the newbies, but for the most part, everyone in the afterlife is unanimous in their contempt for (and/or indifference to) the big old windbag.

    There are a few who think that the whole thing is just some sort of extreme test, and if they hold out long enough, they’ll be granted access to the real God, and the true Heaven. It may take a while, but eventually, they usually snap out of it.

  58. #58 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    I seem to recall someone here once calling the crucifixion a daddy-son scene gone horribly awry. Are we on the tracks for something similar here?

    *snort* No.

    God has no penis, and does not fuck.

    Well, except for fucking with human minds. That’s the only pleasure that he really has.

  59. #59 Longtime Lurker
    June 29, 2008

    The most pathetic thing about Stain’s (Stein’s?) schtick is his cockamamie idea that evolution would spontaneously result in “novel body parts” rather than acting to modify existing structures.

    Stain, the appearance of “novel body parts”, such as gossamer wings of candy floss appearing on a magic pony, would be great evidence for Creationism.

    Here’s a little experiment that even you could engage in: pray every morning for your dog to develop an organ that allows it to piss high-octane gasoline so you can fill up your Hummer for free. If you can provide proof that this has happened, I will join your megachurch and start tithing.

  60. #60 God
    June 29, 2008

    That’s the only pleasure that he really has.

    That is not true!

    Sometimes you apes come up with some reason to hit each other with sticks and rocks without any interference from Me at all, for reasons having nothing to do with Me! I swear to… Well, to Me.

    I take pleasure in that conflict as well.

  61. #61 Zarquon
    June 29, 2008

    I bet Dawkins only got the gig because his wife’s a Time Lord.

  62. #62 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 29, 2008

    Jesus, are you saying that big sky daddy is just a demiurge?

  63. #63 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Zarquon, #61, wrote:

    I bet Dawkins only got the gig because his wife’s a Time Lord.

    Dawkins got the gig ’cause his wife’s a hot Time Lord.

  64. #64 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    Janine, did I miss the thread where you were inducted into the Order of the Disingenuous Jackass? Accept my late congrats!

    I understand that most people who get it don’t display the trophy since it’s called The Hovind, and is as ugly and useless as its namesake…

  65. #65 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    Since God’s put in an appearance, I might as well ask… this one’s been bothering me for a while now:

    God, why haven’t you put a stop to American Idol yet? Or M. Night Shyamalan? And which football team are you really for?

  66. #66 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 29, 2008

    Pcarini, just go to comment #127. A very special person finally saw the truth about me.

    But you are wrong about the trophy. It can be used as a paperweight and a door stop. Can you say the same about it’s namesake?

  67. #67 SC, Stupid Fucking Hypocrite
    June 29, 2008

    Janine,

    I had no idea I was among such illustrious company.

  68. #68 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    You’re right.. the best I can say about The Real Hovind is that he’s worth about $2.50 in carbon, nitrogen and a few rare elements. (I don’t think anyone would accept organs from such a diseased person.)

    I’m surprised I missed TM’s pronouncement of your Disingenuous Jackassery, he was being a monster dick all throughout that thread so it must have just blended in.

  69. #69 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    Jesus, are you saying that big sky daddy is just a demiurge?

    Maybe. He might not even be that. He does lie a lot. We hope that he isn’t as powerful as he pretends.

    On the other hand, if there’s anything bigger and more powerful than him, it hasn’t shown up to kick his assholy around.

    And he knows that by any standard of fairness and justice, he deserves a good kicking.

  70. #70 God
    June 29, 2008

    God, why haven’t you put a stop to American Idol yet? Or M. Night Shyamalan?

    Excuse Me? You want Me to stop anything that makes you apes miserable, angry, and violent?

    And which football team are you really for?

    All of the ones that result in hooliganism and rioting.

    And he knows that by any standard of fairness and justice, he deserves a good kicking.

    “Fairness” and “justice” are just notions that you apes came up with to not fight. Inasmuch as they are necessary for you to not EX-TERM-I-NATE yourselves, I suppose that I can concede that they are not entirely useless ideas, for you.

    But I have never, in all of my timespan, ever been in danger of EX-TERM-I-NA-TION, so for me, those concepts are useless.

  71. #71 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 29, 2008

    Carlie, knowing about your love of things Doctor and Torchwood, I hope you enjoy this. AronRa, like Thunderfoot, has a very good youtube series where he takes apart creationists. He has a thirteen year old son who wanted to be a Dalek for Halloween last year. Watch as a Dalek is made!

    SC, Stupid Fucking Hypocrite (This will be the only time I call you by that title!), I think by this time, about half of the regulars here has been called out by the truthiness machine.

  72. #72 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 29, 2008

    God, you seem to like conflict and mayhem. Are you a fan of WWE and ultimate fighting?

    You seem to like blood sports, so why did you not leave the Roman Empire pagan? Was it not pagan Rome that had gladiator contests?

  73. #73 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    Ooh, Edward Current put out a new video (5 days old) that pretty well sums up where stanton is coming from.

  74. #74 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    I had no idea TM had such an impact as to cause people to actually change their chosen handles.

    No wonder he won a Molly.

  75. #75 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    God, you seem to like conflict and mayhem. Are you a fan of WWE and ultimate fighting?

    based on this thread, I’d love to see a Father-Son WWE matchup.

    I bet it would be on a Sunday…

  76. #76 SC
    June 29, 2008

    No wonder he won a Molly.

    A Molly he claimed he didn’t want, and then trotted out as soon as he deemed it useful to bolster a weak argument. There’s a word for a person who displays such contradictory behavior…What would it be, now…?

  77. #77 God
    June 29, 2008

    God, you seem to like conflict and mayhem. Are you a fan of WWE and ultimate fighting?

    I’m a fan of all fighting.

    You seem to like blood sports, so why did you not leave the Roman Empire pagan? Was it not pagan Rome that had gladiator contests?

    You forget how much violence came from the religious factions fighting each other. After the rise of Christianity, theology became a blood sport!

  78. #78 Patricia
    June 29, 2008

    #44 – Wowbagger – you just used the only term in the English language that offends me. Silly cow that I am, I get all up on my high horse when one man calls another a ‘pussie’.
    You can call him a bollocksless-dickhead or a mommas boy & I’m OK with it. You can even call me a five titted sow – shy of a dozen & I won’t flinch – but that ‘p’ thing irks.
    On the other hand, it could be that the moon is moving from Taurus to Gemini tonight and I am moody.

  79. #79 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    You forget how much violence came from the religious factions fighting each other. After the rise of Christianity, theology became a blood sport!

    If you matched yourself in a no-holds barred fight to the “demise” with your boy, what weapons would you choose?

    I’ve got to start getting the press packets together if we’re gonna do this.

  80. #80 stan
    June 29, 2008

    JonD”:
    “It appears as if you merely troll the comments threads around here without actually paying attention to anything that has been said.
    If you actually read any of the posts, you might have noticed a number of entries very recently that provided the examples you asked for.
    For example, new structures:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/still_just_a_lizard.php
    where a population of lizards introduced to a new environment evolved wider, deeper and longer skulls with stronger bites, as well as cecal valves in their guts because of the change in their diets.

    Or if you like, the more recent entry:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/historical_contingency_in_the.php
    where E. Coli evolved the ability to metalobize Citrate.

    So perhaps you should engage your brain before you shoot your mouth off next time.”

    ok hotshot…#1: show me the mutation involved with the lizards…

    #2 is not a structure. nice try, screwball.

  81. #81 stan
    June 29, 2008

    Wowbagger: “Yeah, and he’s an expert in goalpost-shifting. At first he was just asking for evidence of beneficial mutations”

    never have I said that. by the way — please show me one of these mystical duplications that lead to a new structure or part of a structure…..science, please — not evo-dreaming bullcrap.

  82. #82 stan
    June 29, 2008

    stan: “Heck…got any controlled scientific studies/experiments proving natural selection’s ability to adapt an animal population genetically?”

    Kel: “Why yes we do. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080421-lizard-evolution.html

    nice try, numbnuts; no mutation…no genetic change. Try again, losers.

  83. #83 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Patricia, #78

    I’ll bear that in mind. It’s not an expression I use other than when I’m projecting my inner fundy asshat.

    Unfortunately, the nature of such insults means that there isn’t really a substitute that isn’t going to offend someone – e.g. Schwarzenegger’s ‘economic girly men’ comment was seen as misogynistic, which i don’t think was what he intended.

    Maybe ‘wusses’ will suffice – though I don’t like the sound of it as much.

  84. #84 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    Hold it, you’re saying that the addition of a new structure, the cecal valve, and the modified shape/musculature of the head is not a mutation?

  85. #85 mona
    June 29, 2008

    #2 [evolved ability to metabolize citrate, in E. coli] is not a structure. nice try, screwball.

    But it answers one of your first questions at #12.

    Heck…got any controlled scientific studies/experiments proving natural selection’s ability to adapt an animal population genetically?

  86. #86 stanny
    June 29, 2008

    show me the dang science, geez. Show me natural selection’s ability to adapt a population of animals genetically. Also, show me an observed mutation — science, of course (no fairytales) — that adds a new non-duplicated STRUCTURE or part of a structure. (you people DO believe we evolved structurally from a bacteria via changes in genes, do you not?)….so show me even ONE stupid mutation that does so, freaks..it’s not that hard.

    And I guess nobody’s even trying to present a common ancestor, as those entities are about as scientific as God and his magic.

  87. #87 themadlolscientist
    June 29, 2008

    So which Doctor Who episode is that clip from? I haven’t seen it yet – but I think SciFi is a week or two behind BBC America (not to mention the original Beeb itself), which I don’t have access to. We just had the decond half of the two-parter about the library.

    Oh well, now I know I’ve got something extra super-cool to watch out for.

    And I’m not a bit surprised to see the Dawkins “interview.” He’s probably the most famous living British scientist.

  88. #88 Jesus, called Christ
    June 29, 2008

    based on this thread, I’d love to see a Father-Son WWE matchup.

    I said, he’s so not related to me. Really.

    After the whole “son of God” thing came up, I started having people talk with my parents — you know, the human beings who raised me — and my mom gives them the Look.

    “Believe me, there was nothing miraculous about his conception or birth. No, there was no angel of annunciation. No, there were no wise men or kings. No, there was no miraculous star. Yes, I’m sure his father was human — this man [and she points at my father]; I knew how to calculate missed periods. Besides, that giant stinking fart doesn’t have a penis.”

  89. #89 Wowbagger
    June 29, 2008

    Pcarini, #84, wrote:

    Hold it, you’re saying that the addition of a new structure, the cecal valve, and the modified shape/musculature of the head is not a mutation?

    No, he’s saying it’s still a lizard. Anything short of that isn’t (apparently) going to meet his definition of ‘new structure’, ‘mutation’ or ‘genetic change’.

  90. #90 Hal in Howell MI (not far from Hell, MI)
    June 29, 2008

    Seeing RD on Dr. Who is as much fun as this wonderful music video about automating the pipetting process. Makes me want to buy one. http://www.eppendorf.com/int/hawkpopup.php?contentid=13

    I reference Amanda at http://skepchick.org/blog/ for providing the link. Enjoy it.

  91. #91 stanley
    June 29, 2008

    pcarini: “Hold it, you’re saying that the addition of a new structure, the cecal valve, and the modified shape/musculature of the head is not a mutation?”

    link? show me the observed mutation…(this is not merely a re-expression, is it?)

  92. #92 raven
    June 29, 2008

    Already answered stan the mall shooter wannabe’s question. He just ignores the threads while babbling incoherently like the seriously disturbed loon he is. He is very predictable, he will just Move the Goal Posts again and get drunk and threaten to kill people.

    A better question for him. What is your diagnosis, how many times have you been arrested for pointless stupid stuff, and what drugs are you supposed to take and never do so?

    stan the mall shooter wannabe:
    show me a scientifically-verified random mutation that adds a new bodily structure or a new part of a bodily structure.

    raven predicting stan’s mental slowness:
    Why bother. You will just Move The Goal Posts. Creos don’t have enough imagination to even be interesting and crazy, just crazy.

    Scientists have discovered that rarest of things: a chicken with teeth – crocodile teeth to be precise.
    Contrary to the well-known phrase, ‘As rare as hens’ teeth,’ the researchers say they have found a naturally occurring mutant chicken called Talpid that has a complete set of ivories.

    The team, based at the Universities of Manchester and Wisconsin, have also managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens – activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

    So predictable. You asked for a mutation that produces “a new part of a bodily structure.” Extra toes are certainly new parts. You also ignored my other three examples, teeth in chicken, furry humans and tailed humans.

    As usual stan will Move The Goal Posts again. Or get drunk and threaten to kill people again. He isn’t bright enough to even come up with his own excuses or craziness.

    This is why the creos will lose. They have lost in the domains of educated people and science a century ago. All that they have left are Death Cultist fanatics with mental illness, no education, and low IQs. Like stan.

  93. #93 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    ok hotshot…#1: show me the mutation involved with the lizards…

    that’s the next paper. the author will probably end up sequencing the entire lizard genome over the next year, and then you will have your specific mutation linked to the specific gene.

    #2 is not a structure. nice try, screwball.

    The cecal valve was non-existent in the parent populations.

    it was indeed a novel structure.

    what color curtains do you like?

  94. #94 stan
    June 29, 2008

    Wow: “No, he’s saying it’s still a lizard. Anything short of that isn’t (apparently) going to meet his definition of ‘new structure’, ‘mutation’ or ‘genetic change’.”

    show me the genetic change:….in order to prove an animal has added to its phenotype via changes in genes, you have to actually show a genetic change. Let’s go man, this is easy stuff.

  95. #95 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    “Also, show me an observed mutation — ”

    Explain to me how the Pod Mrcaru island lizard case doesn’t count as an observed mutation. We have obvious differences between the ancestors and the descendants on this island.

    The TOE/NS predicted that there would be changes, btw, but the scientists were surprised about how much changed that quickly. Perhaps you could tell me about some competing theory that would predict two geologically isolated populations of the same species developing differing traits?

  96. #96 stannnn
    June 29, 2008

    “The cecal valve was non-existent in the parent populations.
    it was indeed a novel structure.”

    show me the observed mutation. Geez

  97. #97 stan
    June 29, 2008

    pcarini: “Explain to me how the Pod Mrcaru island lizard case doesn’t count as an observed mutation”

    Good grief. How about you explain to me how it was that the Pod Mrcaru-island lizard didn’t change via phenotypic plasticity. This is science, man. Show me the science. Show me the genetic change that lead to these new traits.

  98. #98 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    link? show me the observed mutation…(this is not merely a re-expression, is it?)

    the link was provided multiple times for you in the other thread. Again, no, it was a novel trait, which did not exist in the parent population.

    Moreover, there is an entire thread devoted to the original paper on this forum.

    see if you can figure out how to find it (betting you are simply unable to, ’cause you’re just that dumb).

    seriously, though…

    what color curtains do you like?

  99. #99 stanner
    June 29, 2008

    Ichthyic, I don’t care if it’s a novel trait or not — show me the silly mutation that caused it.

  100. #100 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    stan: (this is not merely a re-expression, is it?)

    What do you mean by re-expression and what’s the mechanism behind it? Is this something that, by your logic, can happen to an entire population? Most importantly, how does it fit the observed facts better than ToE/NS?

    If you’re asking for the genetic differences between the new population and the parent population, know that sequencing a genome takes a lot of fucking time. They’re getting faster at it, but I’d imagine we still have a fair amount of time to wait before we know the exact differences.

    If you’re doubting that changing the genotype can change the phenotype, there’s an abundance of science demonstrating exactly that.

    See the below article for intentional genome changes and their effects on lab mice:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/09/the_hox_code.php

  101. #101 Longtime Lurker
    June 29, 2008

    I think I liked Stan better when he was Kenny… but we’ll see some really novel lunacy when he embraces his Cartman identity.

    No more feeding this particular troll… not even gossamer wings of candy floss.

  102. #102 Tophe
    June 29, 2008

    Stan-
    Halteres

  103. #103 stan
    June 29, 2008

    regarding the beloved lizards — it’s just as I suspected: no genetic change identified..and in fact, scientists are fearful that it’s simply a plastic response — which is not evolution:

    http://www.coolscifi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190387

    “What could be debated, however, is how those changes are
    interpreted?whether or not they had a genetic basis and not a “plastic
    response to the environment,” said Hendry, who was not associated with
    the study.

    There’s no dispute that major changes to the lizards’ digestive tract
    occurred. “That kind of change is really dramatic,” he added.

    “All of this might be evolution,” Hendry said. “The logical next step
    would be to confirm the genetic basis for these changes.”

    nice try, losers. Got anything else or is that about it?

  104. #104 Ghazala Khan
    June 29, 2008

    Interview Request

    Hello Dear and Respected,
    I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion.

    We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you don’t mind. Please send us your approval for your interview at my email address “ghazala.khi at gmail.com”, so that I could send you the Interview questions. We would be extremely grateful.

    regards.

    Ghazala Khan
    The Pakistani Spectator
    http://www.pakspectator.com

  105. #105 btb
    June 29, 2008

    Perhaps it’s just me, but seems like all stan’s questions can be boiled down to “but where’s the magic?” and every time a piece of scientific evidence is placed before him he goes “see, no magic. evolution is false!”. I guess if your personal explanation for the multitude of life around you is inherently magical then it’s hard to comprehend a perfectly natural explanation.

    Or maybe stan is just a great big trolly troll.

  106. #106 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    Ichthyic, I don’t care if it’s a novel trait or not

    really?

    If it’s so unimportant to you, then why are you even bothering to ask if it was a “re-expression”?

    are you looking for “beneficial mutations”?

    I’m sure someone has pointed you to the issue of polyploidy?

    Is there actually ANYTHING you do know about genetics?

    show me the observed mutation

    already explained. You apparently have serious reading comprehension issues.

    oh, and…

    what color curtains do you like?

  107. #107 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    Or maybe stan is just a great big trolly troll.

    *bing*

    some of us just happen to be bored enough at the moment to entertain him, while we wait for his dungeon cell to be prepared.

  108. #108 pcarini
    June 29, 2008

    How about you explain to me how it was that the Pod Mrcaru-island lizard didn’t change via phenotypic plasticity.

    I personally don’t know the limits of phenotype plasticity, but I’m under the impression that the cecal valve is out of the question for it, seeing as how no other observed member of that species has one. If I’m wrong, well, I’ll find out once they’ve sequenced these lizards.

    On a funny note, UD’s response to this quotes a physorg.com article for support. Even their quotes say the opposite of what they’re trying to say.. it’s great.

  109. #109 stan
    June 29, 2008

    You guys want me to believe that the lizards in your link evolved rapidly via “evolution” while the ones below were merely exhibiting a plastic response to the environment..(by growing longer legs)? Why should I believe yours evolved genetically without scientific confirmation?

    http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/losos/research/

    “Previous studies of populations elsewhere in the Bahamas that had been introduced 20 years previously indicated that the populations differed in hindlimb length in a way that made sense: populations that perched on broader surfaces had longer hindlimbs than populations on narrower surfaces. Given that this matched the trend, seen to a much greater extent, among the Greater Antillean ecomorphs, this suggested the hypothesis that the populations had differentiated genetically as a result of selection in different environments. Although this change would be rapid (15-30 lizard generations), the actual magnitude of difference among populations was not huge (in fact, most people would not be able to detect the difference if shown lizards from different populations). However, another alternative is that lizards growing in different environments grow different length legs. To test this hypothesis, we raised baby anoles on two different surfaces at the St. Louis Zoo–either on 2×4′s or on narrow (1/4″) dowels. At the end of three months, the lizards raised on broader surfaces had longer limbs than the lizards on narrower surfaces! This suggests that the results observed in the field may be the result of a phenotypic plasticity in limb growth, rather than genetic differentiation. To test this hypothesis, we plan common garden experiments in which we will raise lizards from different islands in similar environments to see if differences in limb length persist. Adaptive phenotypic plasticity has never previously been documented for vertebrate hindlimbs. These findings suggest the intriguing possibility that phenotypic plasticity may play an important role in adaptive differentiation by permitting lizards to occupy different habitats; once subsequent mutations arise, these differences can then be elaborated upon by natural selection.”

  110. #110 Ichthyic
    June 29, 2008

    which is not evolution

    Darwin would disagree with you.

    (so would the rest of us, btw.)

    simply a plastic response

    do you actually understand what that means?

    How would you go about testing between the two alternative explanations (novel mutation vs. plasticity of expression)?

    What’s that you say, you don’t know?

    shocker.

  111. #111 Kel
    June 29, 2008

    I find it somewhat pathetic that someone who is kicked out of a place feels the need to troll it over and over again, each time their behaviour becoming more and more erratic. The anonymity that the internet allows means that people like that go unchecked instead of getting a swift kick to the genitalia like they deserve.

  112. #112 stan
    June 29, 2008

    Ich: “are you looking for “beneficial mutations”?

    no…read my challenge next time — don’t make up your own.

  113. #113 God
    June 29, 2008

    nice try, losers.

    Scream a little louder, please. You’re not going to impress anyone with your insanity if you keep using this mild and unassuming rhetoric.

  114. #114 Nicole TWN
    June 29, 2008

    It fits so well, too… 1 gazillion people going “ZOMG planets appeared overhead!” and Richard Dawkins calmly going “Actually, it’s us that have appeared somewhere else…”

    I was reeeeeeally hoping for a Romana II cameo. And I still am. It can be in flashbacks! Come on, Grand Moff! You can do it!

  115. #115 Longtime Lurker
    June 29, 2008

    “while we wait for his dungeon cell to be prepared.”

    Ichthyic, is a “dungeon cell” a novel structure?

  116. #116 stan
    June 29, 2008

    Ichthyic, surely you are not saying phenotypic plasticity is the same as “evolution?” Geez, man….are you completely dilbert about this? Plasticity is a nonrandom, purposeful response to the environment. Your theory says traits arise randomly and non-biased towards the environment or even improvement…only selection adapts populations, not the variation itself. Plasticity is not a genetic change — it’s just change. not only that, but if one animal adjusts itself plastically, all other like-organisms in the same environment will do the same….therefore the population will evolve all at the same time — individually, not via selection.

    I challenge you to show me one link — one outside source — that will confirm that phenotypic plasticity is the same as darwinian “evolution.”

  117. #117 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    You guys want me to believe that the lizards in your link evolved rapidly via “evolution” while the ones below were merely exhibiting a plastic response to the environment..(by growing longer legs)? Why should I believe yours evolved genetically without scientific confirmation?

    change in aspect of same trait:

    plasticity.

    entirely NOVEL trait:

    not plasticity.

    do make sure you read the paper carefully to find out where plasticity might be applicable.

    as to confirmation of the specific mutations involved, as I said, if you had read the paper you would know that sequencing this beastie’s genome is the intended next step.

    why don’t you come back in a year or so when THAT paper is published.

    ITMT, there are literally thousands of other examples to work with, several of which were listed for you.

    However, if you really want to disprove the efficacy of the ToE, you have a long way to go and MANY, MANY papers to glance through and misunderstand.

    better get crackin’.

    oh, and what color curtains do you like?

    The anonymity that the internet allows means that people like that go unchecked instead of getting a swift kick to the genitalia like they deserve.

    amen.

    OTOH, that same anonymity protects the rest of us when these horribly cognitively dissonant fools finally blow a gasket and go postal.

  118. #118 Nicole
    June 30, 2008

    Finally got to see the episode… Doctor Who, and Dawkins talking about astronomy, talk about the trinity of nerdgasm. Yes, I was hoping it would be a bigger part too, but it was an important part because he was playing the scientist who said, “hey, the evidence suggests this, pay attention!”

    Douglas Adams would have been proud.

  119. #119 stan
    June 30, 2008

    Kel: “I find it somewhat pathetic that someone who is kicked out of a place feels the need to troll it over and over again, each time their behaviour becoming more and more erratic. The anonymity that the internet allows means that people like that go unchecked instead of getting a swift kick to the genitalia like they deserve.”

    Oh I browse through here occasionally, just long enough to get my fill of the evo scumbags who think they know everything, when in reality you people know virtually nothing about the theory you believe in, nor can you back it up with any real-life science.

    Did I even ask you to prove randomness on the molecular level? How can you random mutation be scientific if you can’t even prove the randomness part? How can you be so sure that the organism isn’t just responding to an environmental challenge by altering its genetic code? Everything your silly theory rests on is an unprovable assumption….not science.

  120. #120 Longtime Lurker
    June 30, 2008

    Leaping Lysenko, I just had to leave troll-ignoring mode to remark that our resident mall-shooter seems to be arguing for Lamarckism!

    Commie bastid!

    WTF does this mean? “only selection adapts populations, not the variation itself”

    Up your meds, Stain.

  121. #121 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    Earlier tonight, I linked to an AronRa video about his son’s Dalek costume. Now here is a link to one of his videos that addresses the game that Stan is playing.

  122. #122 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    Whether the changes are genetic or epigenetic, they’re still heritable traits which are being selected for by the environment.

    The evo/devo debate is big among biologists right now and again I’m nowhere near qualified to have an opinion on it. Regardless of how it plays out (I’m guessing it’s a matter of both methods, in concert) the criteria for evolution by natural selection are met.

    Present a better alternative or go home.

  123. #123 mona
    June 30, 2008

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenotypic_plasticity

    I see nothing about plasticity being “purposeful.”

    Plasticity is not a genetic change — it’s just change. not only that, but if one animal adjusts itself plastically, all other like-organisms in the same environment will do the same….therefore the population will evolve all at the same time — individually, not via selection.

    You seem to have confused plasticity with Lamarckism.

  124. #124 stan
    June 30, 2008

    LL….so you think variation — which is supposed to be random — is in itself adaptive?…that natural selection is not needed to adapt a population? Please explain and back up your explanation with a link.

  125. #125 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Stan’s original (in this post, anyway) request was this:

    any of you evos come up with a random mutation that adds a new (non-duplicated) bodily structure

    Which isn’t what he originally asked; his distaste for duplication is a recent development – dare I say he’s evolved in an attempt to protect his argument?

    To him anything that’s similar in any way to what’s already present is ‘duplicated’ and therefore invalid in his eyes. Yet he hasn’t managed to explain why exactly a modified duplicate isn’t evidence supporting evolution – despite it being a core aspect of the process (as I understand it).

  126. #126 stan
    June 30, 2008

    Wow…give me an example of what you’re talking about. Link?

  127. #127 shane
    June 30, 2008

    I suppose there will be no more arguments in the Dawkins house that end with “Oh yeah, at least I’ve been on Dr Who!”

  128. #128 stan
    June 30, 2008

    Mona: “I see nothing about plasticity being “purposeful.”

    so when an animal generates an adaptive trait during its lifetime to cope with a specific environmetal challenge, how could that no be purposeful? For example, snakes can alter the size of their jaw in response to eating bigger prey…..likewise waterfleas can grow new defensive spines in response to predators. how is that not purposeful?

  129. #129 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    Ichthyic, surely you are not saying phenotypic plasticity is the same as “evolution?”

    no, are you saying that all of evolution revolves around mutation?

    what color curtains do you like?

    Plasticity is a nonrandom, purposeful response to the environment

    aside from the fact this was a trivialization of what plasticity actually means, there is also no teleology necessary. I know you morons like to project your teleological notions onto everything, but you really should at least try and bite your tongue once in a while.

    Your theory

    While I’ve published in behavioral ecology, I hardly think my minor contributions to the field allow me to claim the ToE as MY theory.

    thanks for the compliment, though.

    only selection adapts [acts to increase individual fitness within] populations

    man, so much to fix in that sentence there really wasn’t much point trying to rewrite it. better start over. You appear to have less grasp of evolutionary theory than can be garnered with a 10 minute read of the Wiki article on the subject.

    btw, you appear to be fixated on selection as a mechanism of winnowing variation.

    ever heard of drift?

    no?

    I challenge you to show me one link — one outside source — that will confirm that phenotypic plasticity is the same as darwinian “evolution.”

    I challenge you to make one post that isn’t composed primarily of strawmen.

    what color curtains do you like?

  130. #130 mona
    June 30, 2008

    Which isn’t what he originally asked; his distaste for duplication is a recent development – dare I say he’s evolved in an attempt to protect his argument?

    No, he’s just showing phenotypic plasticity.

  131. #131 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    Plasticity is a nonrandom, purposeful response to the environment.

    Sweet.. so if it’s cold outside I should be able to make my body grow more hair? And vice versa when summer rolls around?

    I’ve still yet to make that non-genetic change to be taller and have larger hands, even though I’ve tried awfully hard…

    “…nor can you back it up with any real-life science.

    Tell me how http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/09/the_hox_code.php isn’t real life science? It’s a definite observed example of the genotype changing the phenotype, in all sorts of exciting ways.

  132. #132 stan
    June 30, 2008

    Hey guys, I actually have a piss-poor grasp of evolution and population genetics. I keep asking for proof, but because I can’t understand the material in the links you have provided me, I can only resort to playground taunts like “loser” and “screwball.”

    And I like teal curtains, thank you.

  133. #133 Dennis N
    June 30, 2008

    Stan is the goalpost shifting, argument from personal incredulity breed of troll, no one will ever get anywhere with him.

  134. #134 stan
    June 30, 2008

    Stan: “Only selection adapts population.”

    Ichthyic: “only selection adapts [acts to increase individual fitness within] populations

    …man, so much to fix in that sentence there really wasn’t much point trying to rewrite it. better start over. You appear to have less grasp of evolutionary theory than can be garnered with a 10 minute read of the Wiki article on the subject.”

    wrong, of course:

    http://www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl23.htm

    Acting on phenotypes, selection indirectly adapts a population to its environment by increasing or maintaining favorable genotypes in the gene pool.”

    http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/evolution/work.php

    “Natural selection is a mechanism by which populations adapt and evolve”

    you probably need to re-read your theory

  135. #135 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    so when an animal generates an adaptive trait during its lifetime to cope with a specific environmetal challenge

    to my knowledge, that’s never happened.

    typically, when a mutation is generated and expressed WITHIN an individual’s lifetime, it usually takes the form of a tumor.

    I believe what you are missing is that the issue is only relevant if a mutation is heritable.

    do you know what has to happen for a mutation to be heritable? Do you understand the concept of fitness?

    no?

    shocker.

    damn, it’s like laughing at a three year old who just learned a new word, but hasn’t the slightest clue what it means; they just keep repeating it over and over again.

    LOL

    what color curtains do you like?

  136. #136 stan
    June 30, 2008

    stan: “Only selection adapts populations.”

    Ichthyic: “You appear to have less grasp of evolutionary theory than can be garnered with a 10 minute read of the Wiki article on the subject.”

    so if selection is not the only mechanism that adapts populations, what else does? link?

  137. #137 mona
    June 30, 2008

    so when an animal generates an adaptive trait during its lifetime to cope with a specific environmetal challenge, how could that no be purposeful? For example, snakes can alter the size of their jaw in response to eating bigger prey…..likewise waterfleas can grow new defensive spines in response to predators. how is that not purposeful?

    You brought up the instance of lizards at the Bahamas, whose rear legs varied, depending on the surfaces in their environment. Do you think the lizards actually know, “gee, this thing I’m walking on is kinda narrow. I’d best reduce the length of my hind legs!”? If so, then you might be able to say that the lizards are acting from a purpose. But I’d just laugh and remember when we learned about Lamarck in my tenth grade bio class.

  138. #138 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    Did I even ask you to prove randomness on the molecular level? How can you random mutation be scientific if you can’t even prove the randomness part? How can you be so sure that the organism isn’t just responding to an environmental challenge by altering its genetic code? Everything your silly theory rests on is an unprovable assumption….not science.

    Hey Bolshevist Comrade stan,

    When are you going to prove your own silly theory by diving into the ocean and growing gills? When are you going to go to Antarctica and magically develop blubber and protective fur? When are you going to go to the Sahara and magically develop black skin and water retention?

    When are you going to at least magically grow an extra arm, and an extra finger?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    Get cracking!

    (for the sane people following, stan aka supersport aka guzman last spammed Pharyngula in February 2008)

  139. #139 stan
    June 30, 2008

    stan: “so when an animal generates an adaptive trait during its lifetime to cope with a specific environmetal challenge”

    Ich: “to my knowledge, that’s never happened”

    so what’s this…

    http://bama.ua.edu/~sprentic/101%20Watters%202006.htm

    “To the surprise of scientists, many environmentally induced changes turn out to be (epigenetically) heritable. When exposed to predators, Daphnia water fleas grow defensive spines (right). The effect can last for several generations.”

  140. #140 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    Acting on phenotypes, selection indirectly adapts a population to its environment

    it’s poorly stated, but do note there is a qualifier there:

    INDIRECTLY.

    do you comprehend why they added that qualifier?

    because selection acts on individuals, not populations.

    try reading a real textbook on the subject sometime.

    what color curtains do you like?

  141. #142 stan
    June 30, 2008

    “When are you going to prove your own silly theory by diving into the ocean and growing gills?”

    why should I have to prove something that’s impossible and that I don’t believe in?

  142. #143 stan
    June 30, 2008

    #140Acting on phenotypes, selection indirectly adapts a population to its environment”

    it’s poorly stated, but do note there is a qualifier there:

    INDIRECTLY.”

    There is no qualifier….selection adapts populations, period…directly or indirectly; either way doesn’t matter — selection is the theory of darwin — it’s the theory of today’s science ….it’s the ONLY mechanism of adaptation. Period.

  143. #144 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    Stan is the goalpost shifting, argument from personal incredulity breed of troll, no one will ever get anywhere with him.

    oh, that’s not why I’m dragging this on.
    nor why I keep asking him what color curtains he likes.

    mmm, call it “red flagging”.

    teal, you say, Stan?

    I’ll pass that along to PZ.

    We always like to properly decorate dungeon cells before tossing trolls in them.

  144. #145 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    And stan, you’ve yet to explain how an heritable epigenetic trait is different from an heritable genetic trait, as far as ToE/NS are concerned.

  145. #146 stan
    June 30, 2008

    #139, ick.

  146. #147 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008


    “To the surprise of scientists, many environmentally induced changes turn out to be (epigenetically) heritable

    one, epigentic.

    two, heritable.

    learn what those two things are before you think to instruct me.

    look, fool, your google-fu skills are poor, and your knowledge of the subject matter at hand is non-existent.

    all I’m doing is stringing you along until the cops come for you.

  147. #148 stan
    June 30, 2008

    “And stan, you’ve yet to explain how an heritable epigenetic trait is different from an heritable genetic trait, as far as ToE/NS are concerned”

    you’ll have to do your own research. I’m not here to be teacher…I’m here to expose the pig that’s propped up as “science.”

  148. #149 mona
    June 30, 2008

    “When are you going to prove your own silly theory by diving into the ocean and growing gills?”

    why should I have to prove something that’s impossible and that I don’t believe in?

    Are you suggesting that gills had to have originated from random, heritable genetic mutations, that produce marginally advantageous phenotypes, that are favored by natural selection and therefore become more common in the population, gradually accumulating over millions of years?

    That reminds me of that talk origins page about whales. Y’know. The terrestrial mammals that slowly adapted to a marine environment?

  149. #150 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    why should I have to prove something that’s impossible and that I don’t believe in?

    So now you assert that “an animal generating an adaptive trait during its lifetime to cope with a specific environmetal challenge,” is impossible, and you don’t believe in it?

    You’re specifically and clearly contradicting your own argument! Whee! 25 troll bingo points to me!

    Why am I not surprised?

  150. #151 stan
    June 30, 2008

    “To the surprise of scientists, many environmentally induced changes turn out to be (epigenetically) heritable”

    ick:

    “one, epigentic.

    two, heritable.”

    yea, and traits are not genetic…and not random…two requirements for ToE — yet the population still changed anyway. It’s like a gigantic hole in the Titanic….have you ever seen a ship float with a big hole in it, ick? me neither.

  151. #152 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    you’ll have to do your own research. I’m not here to be teacher…I’m here to expose the pig that’s propped up as “science.”

    but, stanley, you’ve been trying to teach us all week!

    this thread is loaded with your attempts at instruction.

    or was that your attempt at becoming a good gardener by tossing around much fertilizer?

  152. #153 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    you’ll have to do your own research. I’m not here to be teacher…I’m here to expose the pig that’s propped up as “science.”

    No, but when you claim that some observed data invalidate a well established theory, you’d better be able to explain yourself.

  153. #154 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    yea, and traits are not genetic…and not random…two requirements for ToE

    oops, wrong again, on both counts.

    do recall you are on the blog of a developmental biologist.

    …and weren’t you just mentioning your initiation into the world of “plasticity”?

    can’t keep your bullshit straight, even over such short time spans?

    for your sake, I really do hope you’re just playing at trolling, ’cause if not…

    *damn*

  154. #155 Steve_C
    June 30, 2008

    I think Stan’s torture in the dungeon is watching the Ken Miller presentation on ID and Evolution… oh and getting a harmless cross zapped into his skin by a middle school science teacher.

  155. #156 ndt
    June 30, 2008

    Stan is also known as supersport. No one else has quite his argument style. But what gives it away is that no one else alive is promoting Lamarckism.

  156. #157 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    oh and getting a harmless cross zapped into his skin by a middle school science teacher.

    He’ll just purposefully develop an immunity to electric shock…

  157. #158 stan
    June 30, 2008

    stan: “yea, and traits are not genetic…and not random…two requirements for ToE”

    you: “oops, wrong again, on both counts.”

    —–

    prove it, hotshot.

  158. #159 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    I think Stan’s torture in the dungeon is watching the Ken Miller presentation on ID and Evolution

    has Stan even gotten to the ID presentation part yet?

    I thought he was too busy schooling us on what the ToE is and how it works.

    (since he obviously has a PhD in subject and has published numerous articles on it in scientific journals – right Stan?)

  159. #160 mona
    June 30, 2008

    Stan, to your post #151: Many does not mean the same thing as all. Just thought I’d point that out. That means that dismissing one observed novel strusture as the result of plasticity, does not negate, say, all of the rest of the evidence for evolution by natural selection.

  160. #161 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    prove it, hotshot.

    why?

  161. #162 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    “(since he obviously has a PhD in subject and has published numerous articles on it in scientific journals – right Stan?)”

    Cue misguided blather about “argument from authority” in 3.. 2.. 1..

  162. #163 stanner
    June 30, 2008

    “since he obviously has a PhD in subject and has published numerous articles on it in scientific journals – right Stan”

    well, I don’t have a PhD but I do know more about evolution that most PhDs….and I can out-debate all of them, including PZ.

  163. #164 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    Stan, Evolution has withstood 150 years of peer review by millions of people, many religious themselves with an interest in disproving evolution. What you aren’t doing is integrating the aspects of evolution as it is understood today together. You are partially right that there is such a thing as phenotypic plasticity which helps organisms adapt to their environment. The ability to reach various adaptaions is limited by the structure,shape and number of proteins avaliable.

    These proteins are ultimately synthesized from coding regions on DNA. Individuals with proteins that allow for the possibility of ANY structure or physiological process that represent an adaptation will be favored.(re-read that sentence until it sinks in)

    Melanin the skin pigment and ultraviolet protector is coded for on DNA. Some populations are more or less able to produce the protein melanin in response to ultraviolet radiation. People of irish descent are known for very light skin. But they have lots of freckles. Those freckles are small regions of higher than average melanin production. When one of these people goes out into the sun for a while they don’t gain a tan as much as say, Latinos like myself. Instead those freckels grow in size or “Bloom”.
    Other places on the skin will produce very little or no melanin. THIS IS CODED FOR IN DNA!!

    Features that contribute to increased reproductive success will become more represented in populations. If in 800A.D. you put 1000 Scots into an African village and left them there and they interbreed with the general population their descendents over time will gain the ability to synthesize melanin more and more. This will likely be derived from the native African genomes. Those who get skin cancer early and die will be less represented in the gene pool that those who don’t.

    The opposite scenario is also plausible. Vitamin D is synthesized from Chloesterol in the skin from contact with UV rays. If a bunch of africans went north farther away from the more direct rays of sun at the equator, because their skin protects them, they will have to get more vitamin from dietary sources. Those with slightly lighter skin will more readly make vitamin D.

    This is not racism it is chemistry. There is no “best” skin color. Now days in the era of cheap synthetic vitamin D or getting vitamin D from milk or egg products light skin may be slowly selected against.

  164. #165 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    well, I don’t have a PhD but I do know more about evolution that most PhDs….and I can out-debate all of them, including PZ.

    LOL

    I bet you know more about quantum dynamics than your average physicist, too.

  165. #166 stan
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus….well thanks for the lesson, but why should I expect selection to select people based on skin color? Do you see 15-30 year olds dying in masse from skin cancer caused from the sun?

  166. #167 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    well, I don’t have a PhD but I do know more about evolution that most PhDs….and I can out-debate all of them, including PZ.

    And I can out-debate you, you moron. You’re a loser propped-up pig!

    stan is a piggy! stan is a piggy! stan contradicts himself! stan is a piggy!

    I win!

  167. #168 stan
    June 30, 2008

    mona: “Stan, to your post #151: Many does not mean the same thing as all. Just thought I’d point that out. That means that dismissing one observed novel strusture as the result of plasticity, does not negate, say, all of the rest of the evidence for evolution by natural selection”

    such as?

  168. #169 Steve_C
    June 30, 2008

    I bet Stan loves him some AiG and Hovind.

  169. #170 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus….well thanks for the lesson, but why should I expect selection to select people based on skin color? Do you see 15-30 year olds dying in masse from skin cancer caused from the sun?

    ROFLMAO!

    *wipes tear from eye*

    Well, that’s enough entertainment for me.

    *counts posts made to thread in response to demented fuckwit*

    …looks like 16 including this one.

    My job is done.

    I look forward to seeing a new resident in the dungeon tomorrow.

    ‘nite all.

  170. #171 stan
    June 30, 2008

    “I bet Stan loves him some AiG and Hovind”

    Hovind is just a mere shadow of me…(especially now that he is in jail.)

  171. #172 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    I love that stan will not back up a single assertion, yet will ask for a reference for any of our comments… great debate tactic there, bubba.

    So where again was your reference telling me that epigenetic traits somehow disprove ToE/NS?

    While I’m posting:
    … dying in masse from skin cancer …
    Way to massacre two languages in as many words, champ.

  172. #173 stan
    June 30, 2008

    Ick “My job is done”

    you haven’t done jack.

  173. #174 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    I bet Stan loves him some AiG and Hovind.

    No, no. Like good Bolshevist, Comrade stan believes in teleological mechanism of organism self modification.

    Oh, except when he doesn’t. Ha ha!

  174. #175 Steve_C
    June 30, 2008

    Why don’t we start with basics…

    How old is the earth Stan?

    How did the diversity of life on earth come about?

    Oh and Stan… Hovind is a shadow of you? Try twin.

  175. #176 stan
    June 30, 2008

    “So where again was your reference telling me that epigenetic traits somehow disprove ToE/NS?”

    the generation and heredity of epigenetic traits are proven — your ToE isn’t. It’s an alternative biological mechanism that’s been supressed for decades….it shows traits come about as a response from the interaction of the organism with its environment, and in order to pull such a thing off (generate its own adaptive traits) the organism must have the intelligence to guage the environment and then act appropriately and adaptively to it…this would require intelligence, which effectively confirms what evos have been to disprove.

    But to answer your question: nothing will disprove ToE because ToE is a fairytale. just as God can never be disproven, neither can ToE.

  176. #177 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    Wowbagger – Point observed. That word just blows up my seven gored, doily ironing skirt. My brothers use it as a synonym for ‘coward’. I object strongly to the female of the species being used as the poster child for coward. Even the lowly chicken will fight to the death for her brood. That’s my objection.
    OK, I’ll dismount my Clydesdale & get back on my dappled ass :) please carry on slaying the Stan thing.

  177. #178 XQZ Dalek
    June 30, 2008

    Ignorant troll detected!

    EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

  178. #179 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    Back on topic here. Here are two promos for The City Of Death with Lalla Ward and John Cleese.

  179. #180 Steve_C
    June 30, 2008

    Wow. So the common cold and the flu have intelligence. Awesome.

    Wtf.

  180. #181 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    @ stan #166
    Actually this happens more than you think. People in Arab countries wear headscarves partly to protect against the sun. Same reason why cowboys wear those awesome hats. As humans when we start to burn we move into shade or add clothing. Thats an immediate option. But our ancestors worked tilling the fields in all types of weather and had children in their teens. Because of this the teen years are the healthiest and most robust. Again this is about proteins.

    Part of the reason that older people get skin cancer more is also the reason why their hair grays over time. Promoters and proteins aren’t being synthesized in the same numbers as they used to.

    It’s actually a slight controversy why organisms don’t live really long lives and remain fertile for a long time.

    One possible answer to this is phenotypic plasticity. Environments change and if organisms have quick generational cycles the quicker populations can adapt to changing environments. The biological arms race/ or the predator/prey relationships are probably the best observations to support this hypothesis. If the 2009 model of African Cheetas is %10 faster than last years model the Gazelles would benefit from the ability to adapt as well. What ever the answer is it should seek to explain why bacteria can reproduce so quickly but we have 1000 year old oak trees an 250 year old tortioses. Nature is wonderful.

  181. #182 XQZ
    June 30, 2008

    “in order to pull such a thing off (generate its own adaptive traits) the organism must have the intelligence to guage the environment and then act appropriately and adaptively to it…this would require intelligence, which effectively confirms what evos have been to disprove.”

    Wow! I wish I had this amazing teleogical ability that allows me to think out my evolution! That’s it. I’m going to make my descendants into super-elves with pointy ears, magic powers. And we can fly, shoot lightning from our hands, and instantly upload rebuttals to Pharyngula’s servers. All of this, of course, allowing us to survive better in our world.

    Thanks for enlightening me Stan! You’re an amazing super-elf…right?

  182. #183 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Stan blathered:

    an alternative biological mechanism that’s been supressed for decades

    Uh, oh – cat’s out of the bag, guys. Stan’s rumbled our fiendish plot to suppress alternatives to ToE. Obviously, it’s because of all the money evolutionists make out of peddling their theories. I often envy PZ with his Rolls Royce and Versace loafers.

    Too bad for you, Stan, that the evil evolutionist conspiracy are so widespread and powerful that you won’t live to see your clever unmasking effort come to fruition.

    Quick! Put on your tinfoil hat so they can’t find you with their secret brain-scanning satellites!

  183. #184 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    it shows traits come about as a response from the interaction of the organism with its environment, and in order to pull such a thing off (generate its own adaptive traits) the organism must have the intelligence to guage the environment and then act appropriately and adaptively to it

    So when are you, an organism, going to enter the environment that is the ocean, and show the appropriate and adaptive trait of gills come about as a response from the interaction of your body in the ocean?

    You loser pig!

  184. #185 mona
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus….well thanks for the lesson, but why should I expect selection to select people based on skin color? Do you see 15-30 year olds dying in masse from skin cancer caused from the sun?

    Any small advantage, or disadvantage, is a potential source for natural selection. We have millions of years to look at. It’s a huge amount of time for change in the genotype to occur, for diversity to develop. A one percent decrease in survival rates is not too trivial to cause evolutionary change over this kind of time. Again, think about the amount of time available here. Humans have very long generations, so we usually look at species like E. coli. to watch evolutionary change. See above in this thread. After thousands of generations, yes, small changes accumulate into large ones. If you deny this, you might equally deny that erosion, after millions of years, can smooth rocks, change the curvature of rivers, or carve canyons. Incidentally, geological gradualism did, IIRC, inspire biological gradualism. I digress.

    I know you almost certainly won’t, but I think it would do you some good to read some of Dawkins’ books, or at least a chapter or two on the importance of gradualism. Heck, River Out of Eden might take one afternoon.

  185. #186 stan
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus…fine….but the thing is, it’s people (generally) between the ages of 15 and 30 around the world who have kids…therefore it is up to selection (according to your theory) to eliminate those people who have “unfit” skin colors. Is there any evidence of world-wide destruction via melanoma skin cancer in 15-30 year-olds?

    And even so…even if selection eliminated the people with the wrong-colored skin, that still is only an elimination, which I don’t disagree with (at least philosophically.) What I disagree with is that traits arise randomly/genetically. Skin color, for example, may or may not be genetic, but either way, it most certainly doesn’t change randomly….it’s almost certainly a response to the environment on behalf of indiviudal organisms, who then (may) pass on this environmental information to their progeny.

  186. #187 Gridman
    June 30, 2008

    Even thought a big deal was made out of Dawkins being on Who this series, I was hoping that it was just a cover to get Lala Ward in the studio for a Romana cameo.

  187. #188 amk
    June 30, 2008

    I think by this time, about half of the regulars here has been called out by the truthiness machine.

    I’ve never been insulted by truth machine :( I feel left out.

    tm seems to be the bastard offspring of flame warriors compost and kung-fu master, surely a unique combination. I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t think any new caricatures have been made for years, which is a shame as tm needs one.

  188. #189 bargal20
    June 30, 2008

    Oh. My. God! Richard Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward! The second Romana! Oh, the many, many naughty dreams I had about her in my teenage years…

  189. #190 chrisD
    June 30, 2008

    I don’t mind it when people come to debate evolution. When they come from an educated background on the subject, I especially like it. As an armchair biologist I can glean insight into evolution when both the question and answer, argument and rebuttal, are worded clearly with no hostility between either side, and the topic is well-defined.

    Well along comes someone with shifting goalposts, egregious insults, and an argument style which devolves into “LA LA LA NOT LISTENING, LOSER” type argumentation (someone should come up with a word for that.) In such cases, I thank Dawkins for greasemonkey killfile scripts!

  190. #191 mona
    June 30, 2008

    mona: “Stan, to your post #151: Many does not mean the same thing as all. Just thought I’d point that out. That means that dismissing one observed novel strusture as the result of plasticity, does not negate, say, all of the rest of the evidence for evolution by natural selection”

    such as?

    The E. coli experiment, already referred to here, is a good example. The talk.origins arcive has lots more. The observed instances of speciation article is pretty cool, too. Pick up a basic biology textbook. Introductory ones can sell for just a few dollars on eBay if you go for an earlier edition.

  191. #192 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008
  192. #193 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    #189 wrote:

    Oh. My. God! Richard Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward! The second Romana! Oh, the many, many naughty dreams I had about her in my teenage years…

    They were introduced to each other by mutual friend Douglas Adams – it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

    Oh, and ditto on the naughty Romana 2 dreams…

  193. #194 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    Is it late enough in the evening, in a Brenda observing world, for me to descend into obscenities? When does PZ ring the ships bell for the name calling to begin?
    Oh, now? Excellent!
    “Stan, you idiotic bullshit puking fool.”
    Nexxxt – boom de yaddah!

  194. #195 stan
    June 30, 2008

    mona…e-coli have never “evolved.” First of all, there is no new structure. There is no natural selection. There is no randomness. All there is is an adaptive response to the environment on behalf of the organism. There is no differential breeding success or thousands of unfit mutations that get selected out, as your theory goes.

  195. #196 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    I have no idea why but here is David Tennant dancing to The Smiths.

  196. #197 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    IIRC Darwin himself was a key figure in geological gradualism as well. His travels started as a way to gain more obsevations that the earth has remained mostly the same for millions of years.

    Stan, I know creationists personally, they are very nice people but those I know that have left the literal interpretation camp (Still religious mind you) have told me that it retrospect what they felt in their hearts was that they needed some physical evidence to support their beliefs. They did anything to convice themeselves that evidence for their beliefs existed( No matter how doubtful or dishonest) all the while discounting the best evidence against their beliefs.

    It’s a DELUSION to hold such different burdens of proof for two competing ideas. Creationists follow the typical conspiracy theorists delusions where there is no standard that can possibly be met to convince them otherwise. I.E. 9/11 “truthers” Who you will see easily refute each others crazy ideas like the following:

    Truther 1: You see the neocons planted bombs the buildings

    Truther 2: NO they couldn’t have! the israelis fired a cruise missle cloaked in a hologram

    Truther 3.: NO NO NO Your all wrong! You see bush knew it was going to happen but did nothing!!!

    The basic overidding princple connecting religion thought and conspiracy theorists is seeing intent where there is very little.

    Creationist: The flagellum was designed with INTENT and sent the world his only begotten son because he so loved the flagellum.

    Conspiracy theorist: Bush intentionally destroyed the WTC to benefit from patriotism to export American imperialism

    In reality the best explanation for both is an Incompetent/unintellegent Agency

  197. #198 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Stan,

    We’re done – you may go.

  198. #199 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    Stan, please bring that up to Dr Lemski.

  199. #200 stan
    June 30, 2008

    by the way…Talk origins nor anyone else has ever “observed speciation.” Speciation, according to ToE, involves numerous genetic changes and long periods of time…(long enough for natural selection to adapt the population.) Not only that, but the “new” species no longer should no longer be able to breed with the parent species. But If you look at talk origins’ list of supposed “speciation” events, none of them fit the bill. Either there is no observed mutation at all, or there is simply no basis for calling the “new species” NEW at all, as the evos seem to be afraid to actually test to see if the two “species” can mate and produce viable offspring. Of course evos never test their theory because they don’t want to know the results.

  200. #201 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    ah, if only Bride of Shrek would sail through and shove Stan up a billabong…

  201. #202 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    Here his David Tennant singing along with Should I Stay Or Should I Go. Was Blackpool a cooler version of Cop Rock?

  202. #203 stan
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus…would you agree that to evolve genetically from a bacteria that mutations would have to add new, novel, non-duplicated physical structures (or parts of them?) If so, would you please show me even one example of such via the scientific method?

  203. #204 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    Stan @ #176

    the generation and heredity of epigenetic traits are proven — your ToE isn’t.

    Right, the ToE is a scientific theory that is consistent with the observations of both epigenetic and genetic transfer of traits. You’re confusing observations with theories here. The method of inheriting traits doesn’t matter in the ToE, as long as they’re heritable and cause phenotype changes which are subject to selection. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, biologists…)

    … and in order to pull such a thing off (generate its own adaptive traits) the organism must have the intelligence to guage the environment and then act appropriately and adaptively to it…this would require intelligence…

    This is where I think you disagree with the scientific community at large (or “in masse” :P ). Is there any biologist you can reference who says that the creature’s intelligence is involved at all in the developmental adaptation to its environment?

    But to answer your question: nothing will disprove ToE because ToE is a fairytale. just as God can never be disproven, neither can ToE.

    Rabbits in the precambrian… it’s cliche, but it would do the trick.

  204. #205 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008
  205. #206 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    Patricia, i doubt even the slutty Bride Of Shrek could keep Stan from talking out of his billabong. But it would be fun reading. We have to wait till morning when PZ sees that Stan has wrecked the lobby and gets sent to his room without breakfast.

  206. #207 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    While Bride of Shrek is technically in an area with more billabongs than the one in which I live, I’d be more than happy to spend a few hours driving for the privilege of shoving Stan into one.

    Better yet I could set a wobbegong onto him…

  207. #208 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    Stan, I don’t expect you to know the krebs cycle Aka Citric acid cycle. In fact I spent most of the day today trying to learn it (I’ve got a general biology class). The fact is that the ability to metabolize citrate and get it into the cell and then into mitochondria to be broken down involves the coordination of literally dozens of cell process I.E. Endocytosis/pinocytosis/phagocytosis. And a bunch of protein channels that are actual structures, you can’t visit them because they are so small but you might be able to use x-rays to see the proteins. OR you could use a centerfuge and isolate the novel structures.

    I can’t say much beyond that because I really don’t know… I am in the process of learning these things. I’m making and effort all the while thinking critically about this. If I find something that I don’t understand or think is suspect I ask the professor or a TA. If i’m not satisfied i’ll do research on my own. Maybe chasing down the answer will give me a greater understanding, or maybe if im still not satisfied i’ll formulate an experiment. If I write a decent research proposal even as an undergraduate the University can give me a few thousand dollars to chase down the answer.

    Even in the University doesn’t give me money there is always a way. Some nutbars like Behe get things like templeton grants or liberty university regent grants. But to date no one in the ID community has come up with any quantitative date OR a reproducable experiment OR a workable hypothesis OR a falsifiable theory. Any one of those would get someone a noble prize and probably the famous noble laureate groupies that come with it.

  208. #209 SC
    June 30, 2008

    amk @ #188 – A perfect characterization, and a hilarious site.

  209. #210 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    Those who get skin cancer early and die will be less represented in the gene pool that those who don’t.

    Actually, what I remember reading from a more recent hypothesis about the evolution of melanin is that skin cancer usually occurs in those who are already past breeding age, and thus is less likely to affect reproduction immediately.

    However, UV also breaks down folate, which is a nutrient vital for neural tube formation in the developing fetuses. In other words, under strong direct UV radiation, women with darker skin (greater expression of melanin) will have more babies and fewer miscarriages.

    Let me see…

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1054/mehy.1997.0697

      A possible link between neural tube defects and ultraviolet light exposure

    The protective role of folate in preventing neural tube defects is now well established. The hypothesis is advanced here that photolysis of folate by ultraviolet (UV) light may, in some women, precipitate a folate deficiency sufficient to cause a neural tube defect (NTD) during the first few weeks of pregnancy. This hypothesis is supported by the demonstration of in vitro photolysis of folate by simulated strong sunlight (1), a decline in folate levels in light-skinned subjects exposed to UV light for dermatological conditions (1), and the occurrence of NTDs in the offspring of women who exposed themselves to high levels of UV light on the sunbeds of tanning salons (2). If established, a connection between in vivo folate photolysis by UV light, clinical folate deficiency and NTDs would suggest that intense or prolonged periconceptual exposure of women to UV light for recreational or therapeutic reasons should be avoided.

    and also:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jhev.2000.0403

      The evolution of human skin coloration

    Skin color is one of the most conspicuous ways in which humans vary and has been widely used to define human races. Here we present new evidence indicating that variations in skin color are adaptive, and are related to the regulation of ultraviolet (UV) radiation penetration in the integument and its direct and indirect effects on fitness. Using remotely sensed data on UV radiation levels, hypotheses concerning the distribution of the skin colors of indigenous peoples relative to UV levels were tested quantitatively in this study for the first time.

    The major results of this study are: (1) skin reflectance is strongly correlated with absolute latitude and UV radiation levels. The highest correlation between skin reflectance and UV levels was observed at 545 nm, near the absorption maximum for oxyhemoglobin, suggesting that the main role of melanin pigmentation in humans is regulation of the effects of UV radiation on the contents of cutaneous blood vessels located in the dermis. (2) Predicted skin reflectances deviated little from observed values. (3) In all populations for which skin reflectance data were available for males and females, females were found to be lighter skinned than males. (4) The clinal gradation of skin coloration observed among indigenous peoples is correlated with UV radiation levels and represents a compromise solution to the conflicting physiological requirements of photoprotection and vitamin D synthesis.

    The earliest members of the hominid lineage probably had a mostly unpigmented or lightly pigmented integument covered with dark black hair, similar to that of the modern chimpanzee. The evolution of a naked, darkly pigmented integument occurred early in the evolution of the genus Homo. A dark epidermis protected sweat glands from UV-induced injury, thus insuring the integrity of somatic thermoregulation. Of greater significance to individual reproductive success was that highly melanized skin protected against UV-induced photolysis of folate (Branda & Eaton, 1978, Science201, 625-626; Jablonski, 1992, Proc. Australas. Soc. Hum. Biol.5, 455-462, 1999, Med. Hypotheses52, 581-582), a metabolite essential for normal development of the embryonic neural tube (Bower & Stanley, 1989, The Medical Journal of Australia150, 613-619; Medical Research Council Vitamin Research Group, 1991, The Lancet338, 31-37) and spermatogenesis (Cosentino et al., 1990, Proc. Natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.87, 1431-1435; Mathur et al., 1977, Fertility Sterility28, 1356-1360).

    As hominids migrated outside of the tropics, varying degrees of depigmentation evolved in order to permit UVB-induced synthesis of previtamin D3. The lighter color of female skin may be required to permit synthesis of the relatively higher amounts of vitamin D3necessary during pregnancy and lactation.

    Skin coloration in humans is adaptive and labile. Skin pigmentation levels have changed more than once in human evolution. Because of this, skin coloration is of no value in determining phylogenetic relationships among modern human groups.

  210. #211 mona
    June 30, 2008

    Skin color, for example, may or may not be genetic, but either way, it most certainly doesn’t change randomly….it’s almost certainly a response to the environment on behalf of indiviudal organisms, who then (may) pass on this environmental information to their progeny.

    Okay.We’ll design an experiment, just like the researchers did for the Bahamas lizards’ hind limbs. Lots of white people will start moving into Africa. If you’re right, eventually, all of their children will have dark skin, because, in response to their environment, those children are producing more melanin. If melanin is actually a protein that is produced from information in a gene, that is passed through the generations, only with a rare mutation… well, then…

    e-coli have never “evolved.” First of all, there is no new structure. There is no natural selection. There is no randomness. All there is is an adaptive response to the environment on behalf of the organism. There is no differential breeding success or thousands of unfit mutations that get selected out, as your theory goes.

    Despite your denialism, information does, in fact, move from DNA, to RNA, to proteins. The E. coli in Lenski’s experiment gained the ability to metabolize citrate. The wild type cannot metabolize citrate, because the molecule cannot pass through the membrane. So, for E. coli to gain the ability, an existing membrane protein must have changed such that it facilitates the movement of citrate from the environment, into the cell. But what causes changes in proteins? Well, they’re strings of amino acids. The sequence of amino acids in each protein is coded for in the DNA. Right now, there’s work going on to sequence the genomes of the original E. coli, and the mutant variety, and find the exact mutations that occurred.

    So, I expect you’re waiting, with bated breath, to hear from the team, about the random mutations that brought about this change. And the organisms that can metabolize citrate do tend to proliferate more than those that cannot, in an environment full of the stuff. Remember reading something about the sample getting cloudy?

    One thing I’d like to ask you: If this is, indeed, as you claim, a case of individuals responding, with a purposeful intelligence, to their citrate-filled environment, why would they take 31,500 generations to figure out that, “oh, if only I could get that molecule through my membrane, I could make lots of copies of myself!”?

  211. #212 pcarini
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus @ #208

    Any one of those would get someone a noble prize and probably the famous noble laureate groupies that come with it.

    But is there a Nobel laureate version of the Plaster Casters?

  212. #213 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    Ha! I knew Cynthia Plaster Caster! This is just too cool.

  213. #214 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    @ stan #203 Yes and no. Evolution is just small changes added up overtime.

    A smoking gun for the power of selection would be novel structures, this rarely happens. Most of the time evolution is the changes in gene expression.

    Does anyone have a link to the complete lizard study for me to read please?

  214. #215 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    Does anyone have a link to the complete lizard study for me to read please?

    here ya go:

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/105/12/4792

    link to the original discussion on Pharyngula:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/still_just_a_lizard.php

  215. #216 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    ah, thanks ichthyic but that’s just a paragraph

  216. #217 mona
    June 30, 2008

    amplexus:

    IIRC Darwin himself was a key figure in geological gradualism as well. His travels started as a way to gain more obsevations that the earth has remained mostly the same for millions of years.

    my textbook (Campbell and Reece, Biology, sixth edition, p.432-3)says the Beagle voyage was to chart the South American coatline, that was poorly known at the time.

    Darwin read Lyell’s Principles of Geology while on board the Beagle. Lyell’s ideas, together with his own experiences on the Galapagos, had Darwin doubting the traditional view that Earth was static and had been created a few thousand years ago. By acknowledging that Earth was very old and constantly changing, Darwin took an important step toward recognizing that life on Earth had also evolved.

    So, geology certainly influenced Darwin. There’s only a few pages on the history, so I don’t know much about Darwin’s contributions to geology. But a quick Googling brings up some material on the topic. It’s some interesting stuff!

  217. #218 OctoberMermaid
    June 30, 2008

    Oh, yeah, I remember Stan. Wasn’t he the guy who was supposed to drown himself to prove his wacko claim that he could adapt to any environment miraculously? He doesn’t seem to be adapting to an intellectual environment too well, though…

  218. #219 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    It looks like Darwin’s doubt of the “offical”(Genesis)story led him to seek data for an alternative hypothesis of origins.

    BTW I have that same biology book only mines the 7th Edition
    *sticks out tounge* Na-na-na boo boo!! I’ve got the newer book!!! :D

    sorry, I just reverted to 3rd grade all of a sudden :)
    Mona are you currently in a biology class? Isn’t that krebs cycle a total pain?

  219. #220 amplexus
    June 30, 2008

    BTW if stan wants to aquire an adaptation to water i’ll volunteer to hold his head under :)

  220. #221 mona
    June 30, 2008

    My school year finished earlier this month, and I was in the AP biology class. We did cell respiration and photosynthesis around January, February. It definitely takes a lot of memorization, though we didn’t have to learn each of the molecules in the cycle, just that two Acetyl CoA go into it, and the ATP, NADH, FADH it produces.

  221. #222 mona
    June 30, 2008

    BTW if stan wants to aquire an adaptation to water i’ll volunteer to hold his head under :)

    lol, waterboarding!

    Maybe that’s why George Bush thinks waterboarding isn’t torture? After all, the victims can just purposefully change their phenotype so that they can’t think they’re drowning!

  222. #223 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    June 30, 2008

    In the fangasm that was this weekend’s Doctor Who, who caught the reference to Planet Calufrax? (A Douglas Adams creation.)

  223. #224 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    June 30, 2008

    I imagine that one reason why they could not get Patrick Moore onto Doctor Who, even if they wanted, is that he’s a very frail old man. It seems as if he cannot leave his house or travel far; they currently film the Sky At Night in his study. I imagine the haul from Selsey to Cardiff would be a bit rough on him.

    Though I enjoyed last year’s meteor shower episode, filmed in his garden, that included guests such as the astronomer Dr. Brian May (formerly of Queen) and Terry Pratchett.

  224. #225 amk
    June 30, 2008

    And I’m not a bit surprised to see the Dawkins “interview.” He’s probably the most famous living British scientist.

    I raise you Stephen Hawking, who has been rather tastelessly compared to Davros, Lord of the Daleks.

  225. #226 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    that included guests such as the astronomer Dr. Brian May (formerly of Queen) and Terry Pratchett.

    That would have been an awesome party – in a nerdy kind of way.

    So May finished his doctorate? I remember, as a young Queen fan, reading about him being a maths/science prodigy in his youth – as illustrated by the fact that his famous red guitar was hand-built by him and his father out of spare parts and bits of an old fireplace.

  226. #227 Stephen Llewellyn
    June 30, 2008

    Isuspect that they got Dawkins to do the part because he is holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and thus I suppose a part of his obligation is to be a talking-head whenever someone is needed to opine on matters scientific for the edification of the hoi-poloi.

  227. #228 Helioprogenus
    June 30, 2008

    As usual, I’m late for a debate tearing apart some idiots ignorant notions of evo-devo and biology. We’re giving fuel to this stupid ignorant troll pandering for attention and asking for some kind of masochistic jarring whilst knowing that a sane rational person cannot think so obtusely. So stan superficially glances at a topic he doesn’t understand, and suddenly, as an expert in the field, he proclaims evo-devo to be completely baseless. Yet, does he have a better explanation that fits the evidence for what we observe? He injects some imaginary deity to occupy the role of natural selection that his ignorant mind cannot wrap around. The evidence is around you asshole, and if you cared to actually research it, you might find that you’re pushing yourself into fantasy land.

  228. #229 Nick Gotts
    June 30, 2008

    There are a few who think that the whole thing is just some sort of extreme test, and if they hold out long enough, they’ll be granted access to the real God, and the true Heaven. It may take a while, but eventually, they usually snap out of it. Jesus, called Christ

    You raise an interesting point there, J called C. How does God know he’s the real God? After all, heaven could be just a simulation programmed by a higher deity?

    Little gods have bigger gods
    Upon their backs to bite ‘em
    bigger gods have super-gods
    And so ad infinitum

  229. #230 SEF
    June 30, 2008

    @ #26

    Dawkins holds the Charles Simonyi Chair …

    + #227

    … he is holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair …

    Ah, but don’t forget they be taking his bucketchair away … ;-)

  230. #231 CosmicTeapot
    June 30, 2008

    I was just wondering where all the IDiots were, and then I start work this morning to not only find one, but 228 comments to read through too.

    I just hope it’s quiet this morning.

    Off to make some coffee and get some biscuits, it looks like it will be an entertaining day.

  231. #232 Dave
    June 30, 2008

    Holy crap. This thread is out of control. I’ve only gotten to #103, where in between all the bad deity impersonations Stan asks for an identified mutation underlying some evolutionary change. Here is an example:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5585/1336
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v434/n7034/abs/nature03444.html

    Note that these are just two of a series of papers on the subject, and the tip of a literature iceberg regarding ion channel toxins and toxin resistance. It’s a way better example than the lizard thing people keep trotting out. It doesn’t satisfy Stan’s criteria that there be a novel structure, really (unless you count a teeny shape change in a protein as ‘structure’, which it is, but which I’m sure Stan won’t count. But for that see my other examples way at the beginning of this thread (which I think Stan is ignoring).

  232. #233 andyo
    June 30, 2008

    I’d never seen and just barely heard about Dr Who until I saw this. Perhaps you “Whovians” (?) can make more sense of it, and/or be offended!

  233. #234 Nick Gotts
    June 30, 2008

    Hey – I’ve just read through the thread. Congratulations to all who joined in actually forcing stan to commit himself to a (ludicrous) alternative to MET. Fine work!

  234. #235 CosmicTeapot
    June 30, 2008

    Janine @66

    I have just commented on the length of this blog. Now you send me to another long, interesting blog. I am self employed you know. I’m already 35 Euros down this morning!

    Fortunately it is quiet at the moment, so I may forgive you.

  235. #236 Dutch Delight
    June 30, 2008

    Next thing we know Stan will be back claiming that the suppressed “science” of alchemy is actually true and physicists are trying to keep a lid on it.

    For once it would be fun if the creotards would argue from the same century as scientists.

  236. #237 Cirrus
    June 30, 2008

    It wasn’t odd for Dawkins to be talking about stars and what they indicated in relation to the position of the earth… he is Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, and at the end of the day science is science ;)

  237. #238 CosmicTeapot
    June 30, 2008

    Ichthyic @93

    We’re back on the coloured curtains again. Please explain.

  238. #239 CosmicTeapot
    June 30, 2008

    Wackastan@119

    “I browse through here occasionally, just long enough to get my fill of the evo scumbags who think they know everything”.

    What about us evo scumbags who know we don’t know everything, but want to learn more (unlike you). I feel left out. :(

    “… when in reality you people know virtually nothing about the theory you believe in, nor can you back it up with any real-life science.”

    How can you even walk when you have shot yourself in the foot so many times?

  239. #240 David Bradley
    June 30, 2008

    It’s just possible that a researcher was actually thinking of asking Stephen Hawking…but thought it was Stephen Dawking and then mis-guessed he was at Oxford and got through to Hawkins, I mean Dawkins, and he jumped at the chance.

  240. #241 Carlie
    June 30, 2008

    Perhaps you “Whovians” (?) can make more sense of it, and/or be offended!
    Offended? No way! I saw that last year and it was totally awesome. The Chasers crack me up.

  241. #242 CosmicTeapot
    June 30, 2008

    OK, just read comment 114, now I understand the curtain reference.

    Curtains in dungeons, what will they think of next?

  242. #243 MAJeff, OM
    June 30, 2008

    I’m having a hard time reading some of the comments here. For some reason, whenever Stan is around, my eyes don’t move to grab the light quite as fast, and some of the colors don’t get back in time.

  243. #244 CosmicTeapot
    June 30, 2008

    That should be post 144.

  244. #245 Der Bruno Stroszek
    June 30, 2008

    #223 – ooh! Me, me, me! There were some wonderful, almost subliminal, continuity moments this week, like Davros’s new robot hand (to replace the one he lost in Revelation of the Daleks), but the appearance of a Douglas Adams shout-out in an episode that already featured Richard Dawkins was just beautiful.

  245. #246 alex
    June 30, 2008

    stan:
    well, I don’t have a PhD but I do know more about evolution that most PhDs….and I can out-debate all of them, including PZ.

    i think this is the exact instant that stan won the thread.
    Molly Nomination!

  246. #247 andyo
    June 30, 2008

    Carlie,

    Perhaps I missed a smiley, I know us heathens over here don’t get offended that easily, and some are Chaser fans. I think the APEC stunt was mentioned around here, if I recall correctly. And it seems Andrew is actually a Dr Who fan.

    Hopefully the Chaser team will come back for this year, it seems they pissed off too many people. I don’t know how they got away with so much (beautifully!) in a public TV station though.

  247. #248 maureen
    June 30, 2008

    Way back when – you don’t really want me to read the whole thread again, do you? – someone was on about most melanomas occurring in people past peak reproductive age.

    In many societies having ones grandparents alive and in reasonable health makes a significant difference – a positive one – in the survival of children. Just think of all the AIDS orphans in Africa. Believe me, the ones with at least one grandparent extant are doing significantly better than the ones without.

    Somehow we have to encourage the Stans of this world to think on a slightly longer timescale than comes naturally to them.

  248. #249 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    I went away for a few hours hoping that Stan would come back with some more quality entertainment – but no, he’s crawled back under whichever rock it is he lurks beneath.

    What a maroon.

    Stephen Hawking appeared in both The Simpsons and Futurama (and a Pink Floyd album) so maybe the Dr Who producers decided it was time to even the score – and do it on a UK tv show.

    We’re a bit behind here in Australia (no jokes, thanks) – it’s on again as of last night, which was the Xmas special with Kylie Minogue. I DVRed it and will probably get around to watching it next weekend.

  249. #250 Ray Mills
    June 30, 2008

    If there was an award for auto fellatio, stan would win it. He is obviously very experienced at blowing his own horn.

  250. #251 Feynmaniac
    June 30, 2008

    NEW SPECIES OF TROLL DISCOVERED

    In a surprise discovery today the bloggers of Pharyngula discovered a new species of troll, the Lamarckist troll. This discovery surprised many at Pharyngula , which usually just encounters creationist trolls.

    “Leaping Lysenko,” remarked one Longtime Lurker. “I just had to leave troll-ignoring mode to remark that our resident mall-shooter seems to be arguing for Lamarckism!”

    The troll, going by the name of Stan, appeared in a thread about Richard Dawkins appearence on Dr. Who. Biologist Dr. PZ Myers, host of the blog, did not initially seem impressed with Stan calling him a “fuckwit”.

    Stan stated in the thread “How can you be so sure that the organism isn’t just responding to an environmental challenge by altering its genetic code?” as well as, “traits come about as a response from the interaction of the organism with its environment”.

    The Larmarckist troll seems to have many characteristics in common with its creationist cousins. Not only does it make scientific errors ( “e-coli have never “evolved.”" ) but also grammatical ones ( “15-30 year olds dying in masse ” ). It also seems to have similiar paranoid delusions ( “It’s an alternative biological mechanism that’s been supressed for decades”).

    This discovery has many questioning the existence of trolls of other descredited, long dead scientific theories. “I mean, come on, some one in this day and age arguing for Larmarckism?!” said one baffled Feynmaniac. “I mean what’s next? Advocates for phlogiston theory? Someone claiming to have proof of the existence of luminferous aether? Phrenology coming back?!”

  251. #252 Orac
    June 30, 2008

    he incongruous part of it was that they were having him, a biologist, be interviewed on the topic of anomalous planets and stars (pointing out that the Earth had moved rather than other things coming to the vicinity of the Earth).

    Yeah, I wondered about that too. It didn’t fit very well.

  252. #253 Peter Mc
    June 30, 2008

    Jesus @ 58: “God has no penis, and does not fuck.”

    Well God always was described as ineffable.

  253. #254 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Phrenology coming back?

    Of course you would say that, Feynmaniac – you have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter!

  254. #255 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Stan: A simple question that even your demented religious lump of crap brain could deal with.
    Can you produce your imaginary shit god right now, to sit with you and act as your second? Notice that I am giving you the priority of existence. No god, no debate for you.

  255. #256 Mez
    June 30, 2008

    “Do you see 15-30 year olds dying [e]n masse from skin cancer caused from the sun?” (#166)

    Here in Australia there’s a reasonably high rate of melanoma (which is still fatal in too many cases, despite operations and other treatments) at fertile ages. This even tho’ with clothes, and a more indoor lifestyle than I would have expected for very early humans. Certainly enough to make a difference in breeding success in a primitive type of lifestyle.

    My ancestry is Scots and Northern English, and like very many Australians I live with vastly more UV in the environment than my ancestors. Now we know to use precautions from childhood onwards, so the rate is starting to decrease after some years of using them.

  256. #257 Flamethorn
    June 30, 2008

    If we’re still jumping on Stan:

    Kitty

  257. #258 negentropyeater
    June 30, 2008

    Feynmaniac,

    hmmm, new species ? or just the usual one defending magic ?

    so when an animal generates an adaptive trait during its lifetime to cope with a specific environmetal challenge, how could that no be purposeful? For example, snakes can alter the size of their jaw in response to eating bigger prey…..likewise waterfleas can grow new defensive spines in response to predators. how is that not purposeful?

    So how does Stan suggests this works ? The waterflea just has some kind of magical spell and poufff she can grow a defensive spine to defend herself ? Do waterfleas also have their own way of praying ?
    Does that Stan have a precise mechanism to suggest as an explanation ?
    As usual, very “interesting”, but very useless…

  258. #259 Bing McGhandi
    June 30, 2008

    Isn’t his wife a former companion of the Doctor? I think you’ll find she is.

    Well, I’ve checked above, and I realize that I have made no contribution to the discussion. You’re welcome.

    HJ

  259. #260 Carlie
    June 30, 2008

    Here is David Tennant singing along with Should I Stay Or Should I Go.

    Janine, I think I love you.

  260. #261 SteveM
    June 30, 2008

    249:

    Stephen Hawking appeared in both The Simpsons and Futurama (and a Pink Floyd album)…

    Don’t forget Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    …so maybe the Dr Who producers decided it was time to even the score – and do it on a UK tv show.

    No, more likely because he has considerable personal ties to the show.

  261. #262 Dan Warren
    June 30, 2008

    Dawkins had already made it – he’s appeared repeatedly in South Park as a major character. That’s a much bigger deal as a pop culture phenomenon than showing up for a few moments in a show that most people only see the last five minutes of while waiting for Battlestar Galactica.

  262. #263 Iain Walker
    June 30, 2008

    stan (Comment #176):

    it shows traits come about as a response from the interaction of the organism with its environment, and in order to pull such a thing off (generate its own adaptive traits) the organism must have the intelligence to guage [sic] the environment and then act appropriately and adaptively to it…this would require intelligence, which effectively confirms what evos have been to disprove. [sic]

    Wrong, Stanley. At the physiological level, phenotypic plasticity is a developmental response to the way the organism interacts with its environment, like the thickening of the skin in response to repeated pressure that leads to the formation of a callus (or anole lizards developing different leg lengths depending on the environment in which they grow up). No intelligence is involved in the process. At the behavioural level, an animal may modify its behavioural patterns in response to environmental stimuli (and this may then lead to physiological change), but this is hardly problematic for the theory of evolution, since the theory does not deny that organisms exhibit behavioural adaptability. And for an organism to modify its behaviour in response to environmental stimuli does not necessarily require much in the way of intelligence. Even flatworms can do it.

    And phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic inheritance are often observed in plants. How smart do you think they are?

    As for epigenetic inheritance, this is primarily a matter of the transmission of factors influencing gene expression from one generation to the next. No intelligence at work, just molecules like RNA doing their thing.

    In short, there’s no intelligence or teleology in phenotypic plasticity or epigenetic inheritance. Organisms may modify their interaction with their environment, and this may result in alterations their phenotype, but intelligence isn’t a prerequisite for the process. Similarly, there’s no need to assume any intention or purpose on the part of the organism to acquire any modified trait, since the acquisition of the trait is a mechanical response to the change in environmental stimuli, and can happen whether the organism is bright enough to “intend” it or not. In order to give rise to a change in phenotype, a behavioural strategy doesn’t have to be intelligent or thought out. All it has to do is be sufficiently adaptive to persist, and even a strategy randomly arrived at can do that.

    Furthermore, there is no guarantee that any trait acquired in this way is going to be subject to epigenetic inheritance. Some may be, but most (like the callus on my index finger from holding a pen) will not.

    As an aside on epigenetic inheritance – to the best of my knowledge, the majority of observed cases of epigenetic inheritance tend to fade after a few generations. So if epigenetics does play any role in evolution, the evidence so far suggests that it plays a subsidiary, short-term role.

  263. #264 Emmet Caulfield
    June 30, 2008

    Thus spake pcarini @#22:

    So which American tv show is cool enough to give PZ a cameo?

    It simply has to be House. Nothing else will do.

  264. #265 Feynmaniac
    June 30, 2008

    negentropyeater said,
    hmmm, new species ? or just the usual one defending magic ?

    The new troll, trollius lamarckius , does have much in common with the the creationist troll, trollius retardius . The two however are distinct species as they do not interbreed for the simple reason that it would gross the fuck out of absolutely everyone.

    Wowbagger said,
    Of course you would say that, Feynmaniac – you have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter!

    hehe…..glad to see I’m not the only big Simpsons fan here.

  265. #266 Janine, Disingenuous Jackass
    June 30, 2008

    The new troll, trollius lamarckius , does have much in common with the the creationist troll, trollius retardius . The two however are distinct species as they do not interbreed for the simple reason that it would gross the fuck out of absolutely everyone.

    Since when does the consideration of the aesthetics of non trolls enter into the actions of any species of troll? I think they would mate simply to spite all of us. Much like Stan sunk into Lamarckian slime in order tp “prove” that no one answered his challenges.

  266. #267 Tophe
    June 30, 2008

    Stan,
    You actually asked 3 seperate questions…

    any of you evos come up with a random mutation that adds a new (non-duplicated) bodily structure, such as a part of the aforementioned octopus? You’ve got millions of body parts in the world to choose from, and life supposedly started with a one-celled organism that lacked arms and legs and organs, so your dumb “science” has got quite a bit to account for in the world.

    Your question is a bit loaded, as it is not a single mutation that gives rise to a new organ and no one makes the claim that a single mutation would do that. Rather it is a series of mutations, in both the expressed and the regulatory genes. However, arms and legs, which you mention, are a great example. The fins of some fish evolved over time, becoming stronger with more muscles and changing bone structures. Eventually this allowed some fish to “walk” (more like drag themselves). Over the course of millions of years, as some of these creatures adapted to life on land, the fins evolved into limbs. I am over-simplifying this, but you can Google “evolution fin limb” and find plenty of more detailed accounts. (Also interesting to note that it’s the hox family of genes that regulate development of both fins and limbs.)

    Another example would be the flower, a plant organ. Plants grow flowers using mostly the same genes that they use to make seeds.

    Heck…got any controlled scientific studies/experiments proving natural selection’s ability to adapt an animal population genetically?

    The e. coli experiment that several people have mentioned demonstrates this nicely, thank you.

    And just where are all those common ancestors — or even just one of them?

    Stan, you and I have common ancestors. Where are they? Dead. Just like the common ancestors and humans and chimps, rabbits and fish, etc.

  267. #268 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    June 30, 2008

    So May finished his doctorate? I remember, as a young Queen fan, reading about him being a maths/science prodigy in his youth – as illustrated by the fact that his famous red guitar was hand-built by him and his father out of spare parts and bits of an old fireplace.

    Yes, May completed his doctorate and seems to be starting a new career as a popular astronomy writer.

    http://www.banguniverse.com/

  268. #269 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    June 30, 2008

    Brian May on a Sky of Night from last year.

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

  269. #270 Feynmaniac
    June 30, 2008

    Janine,
    I think they would mate simply to spite all of us.

    A scary thought. However even if they do mate (nearly vomited just thinking about it) the spawn will religiously believe in its ability to alter its genetic code to survive. It will likely drown trying to develop gills or jump out of a plane and try to create wings. Thus the hybrid will be infertile and, in the biggest irony of all, will end up winning a Darwin Award!!!

  270. #271 Henry Gee
    June 30, 2008

    I refused to watch that episode on principle. How dare the producers stoop so low to admit Dickie D on one of my favorite shows? Perhaps, now that he’s done it, he’ll lose what shred of credibility he still has among the credulous (present company excepted, naturally), rather in the same way that George Galloway, that other tin-pot little demagogue did, when he appeared on Big Brother.

  271. #272 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Holy freaking crap! The response to the Richard Dawkins fiasco by the creotards, especially the video with that bullshit Shroud of Turin crap as a header, the cretin with the goatee around his cesspool mouth talking about “original sin” in the gene structure and it’s eventual fucked up causes! Can you believe this! “Original Sin and genes”! Wow, we are in this deeper than we can ever imagine! New Zealand, reserve a spot for me, if at all possible, on Stewart Island, as I am sure that beautiful island does not have any creotard residents yet!

  272. #273 Steve_C
    June 30, 2008

    I hope that was sarcasm Henry… tough to tell.

  273. #274 astroande
    June 30, 2008

    Stan: “science, please — not evo-dreaming bullcrap.”

    Someone may have said this already (it’s a long thread and I haven’t gotten all the way through because I’m supposed to be, you know, working), but dude, I don’t think you really understand what science is.

  274. #275 Henry Gee
    June 30, 2008

    No, Steve, not sarcastic at all. But let’s step back a little, hmmm? What, precisely, was the _point_ of Dickie D appearing on _Dr Who_? It’s a kids’ show, mainly, and the target audience would not be expected to know who Dickie D was. Except that, these days, the producers of _Dr Who_ are a lot more ‘knowing’ than that, and know that the show appeals to middle-aged folks, like me, who were brought up on it as kids, and find in it a piquant nostalgia. But there’s an important section of viewers in between, who grew up when _Dr Who_ was on its last legs, or during its 14-year hiatus — when they won’t have seen the show at all. In other words, that segment of society known as nerdy fanboys, for whom the appearance of the Dickie D would have had some kind of stick-it-up-’em teen-rebellious glamour. Give me a break. My only consolation is that Dickie D, by appearing on this show, realizes that he’s on the slide at last. It’ll be daytime TV next, and then a tour of old-folks homes. He’s already done the cruise-ship circuit, after all. The sooner he stops pretending he speaks for evolution, or is taking the high ground on behalf of evolutionary biology, the better…. but not soon enough for me.

  275. #276 astroande
    June 30, 2008

    Stan the Stupid: ” ‘The cecal valve was non-existent in the parent populations.
    it was indeed a novel structure.’

    show me the observed mutation. Geez”

    What do you think, that someone just shoved the thing into one of the lizards? Geez, indeed.

  276. #277 PZ Myers
    June 30, 2008

    Dang. I’m going on the cruise-ship circuit in August. No one told me it was the death knell of a career!

    Sorry, Henry, but I don’t think appearing on a pop-show means he’s done, it just means he’s achieved a wider pop-cultural significance…and that means he’ll be more persuasive to a larger slice of the population. You’re going to have to be frustrated for at least a few more years.

  277. #278 travc
    June 30, 2008

    Dr Who is getting to be a bit of a Muppet Show… A program that, while ostensibly very niche and not exactly high-brow, is so cool that everyone with a clue wants to be on it. All good IMO.

  278. #279 SteveM
    June 30, 2008

    What, precisely, was the _point_ of Dickie D appearing on _Dr Who_?

    Maybe because he likes the show, is friends with the producers and his wife is a former star of the show? Why does there need to be a “point”, can’t he do anything just for fun? What was the point of Hawking appearing on ST:TNG?

  279. #280 Nick Gotts
    June 30, 2008

    Henry Gee,

    Tell me – how many more times more books than you has Dawkins sold?

    I enjoyed “Shaking the Tree”, by the way.

  280. #281 astroande
    June 30, 2008

    RE: Stan @ #186

    Skin color may or may not be genetic? Are you for real?

    Just to actually say something on topic to the post, I so wish I still got cable because I miss me some BBC America and SciFi channel. I’ll just have to get the boyfriend to record this episode if it hasn’t aired yet in the U.S.

  281. #282 Henry Gee
    June 30, 2008

    Tell me – how many more times more books than you has Dawkins sold?

    The Dickie D’s early books are masterpieces. The Selfish Gene was a genuine paradigm-shifter. Climbing Mount Improbable is a work of breathing genius, much better than anything I could ever write, or ever will. I wouldn’t mind that The Dog Illusion sold so much if it were a good book, but it isn’t. Dickie D, with his profile, had a golden opportunity to write a careful, measured case for atheism, but he blew it – what we got instead was a tendentious rant, full of basic logical errors. And that’s a shame, in my view. So, I don’t care that The Dog Illusion sold a lot of copies. But I do care that such a dreadful book sold such a lot of copies.

    And by the way, don’t be so fucking impertinent.

  282. #283 andyo
    June 30, 2008

    Mr Gee, have you published your review of the dog illusion? I’d like to read your criticisms of the logical errors therein. So far the criticisms only have dealt with so-imagined ignorance of “real” theology, which really, come on.

    I’m not being a wiseass either. I am sure your qualifications are far far higher than mine, I haven’t got a PhD. I’d really like to read real criticisms of Dickie D’s Illusion.

  283. #284 John Phillips, FCD
    June 30, 2008

    What’s a matter Henry, you sound as if you are suffering a dose of sour grapes. If you can dish it out but can’t take it then I suggest you not bother commenting on open blogs.

  284. #285 ndt
    June 30, 2008

    Regarding Brian May (mentioned earlier), I don’t think it’s accurate to call him the former guitarist for Queen. Queen toward two years ago with Paul Rodgers singing, and I think they still plan to do some gigs in the future. Brian May is both the guitar player for Queen and an astronomer.

  285. #286 PZ Myers
    June 30, 2008

    Don’t try to chase Henry Gee away! Have you read his books? He knows a thing or two.

    Of course, he isn’t infallible, either, but none of us are.

  286. #287 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    June 30, 2008

    I’m with PZ. I think Dawkins’s appearance on Who marks his ascent into the higher realms of pop culture. I’m sure there’s a down side to that, but I can’t see it.

    Sorry that you think he makes such a poor spokesman for atheism, but I don’t think he has ever appointed himself to speak for us all. He simply speaks his mind and we all agree or disagree or go ‘meh’ as out conscience guides us. Given the dearth of outspoken atheists, even here in the UK, I appreciate his candour.

  287. #288 Henry Gee
    June 30, 2008

    What’s a matter Henry, you sound as if you are suffering a dose of sour grapes.

    Read my comment #282. Correction – just try and read. It’s an improving pastime, you know.

    Mr Gee, have you published your review of the dog illusion?

    No, I have not reviewed it, but I have read it and discussed it in detail (including with PZ).

    My main problem with it is the contention that the existence of God can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified. This is a simple categorical error.
    Once that is realized, nothing else in the book makes very much sense as a coherent argument. We know that Dickie D doesn’t like religion, but we knew that already, and the book generally boils down to statements that you either agree with or you don’t — much like, say, the Book of Mormon.

    Of course, one might argue that the existence of God as a bloke with a beard and a nightie sitting on a cloud, who answers one’s every personal prayer, can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified. Of course – that’s easy.

    But that’s the kind of theology that people teach to children. It bears little relationship to what adult theologians think, or to the conception that most intelligent adults have about God – in the same way that most of the science that gets taught to small children doesn’t have much relationship to the real thing as practiced by scientists.

    However, throughout The Dog Illusion the Dickie D criticizes religion and theology at very much that first-grader level. It’s impossible for him to get much further than this as he declares, as an axiom, that religion is bunk and theologians are stupid, and that he, Dickie D, knows best. Which is, I have to say, a very surprising attitude from a scientist (though sadly all too familiar from Dickie D, whose arrogance knows no bounds, it seems).

  288. #289 Carlie
    June 30, 2008

    It bears little relationship to what adult theologians think, or to the conception that most intelligent adults have about God

    That’s your problem right there – that’s EXACTLY the conception of God that the megachurches in the US peddle. Read 40 Days of Purpose. Read any Focus on the Family dreck. Listen to some of the preachers. There are millions of intelligent adults who absolutely think that God is a bloke hanging around answering everyone’s prayers personally. If you don’t believe me, go to Zondervan’s website and do a search on books about prayer, and see what they’re teaching.

  289. #290 Doc Bill
    June 30, 2008

    Thank you all! My radio controlled Dalek is on order!

    Exterminate!

    ThinkGeek – very cool stuff.

  290. #291 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    June 30, 2008

    But that’s the kind of theology that people teach to children. It bears little relationship to what adult theologians think, or to the conception that most intelligent adults have about God

    Carlie nails it. The thoughts of theologians do not closely resemble the beliefs of much of the rank and file god-botherer brigade. It’s the rank and file who have the political and social clout.

  291. #292 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    My main problem with it is the contention that the existence of God can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified.

    That’s just silly. Or Courtier-like.

    Every religion in existence posits God as doing or having done real things in the real world. At some of these things can indeed be rephrased as scientific hypotheses that have been falsified.

    The only sorts of Gods that can’t be falsified is the sort of Neo-Platonic Deity that hasn’t done anything since creating the universe, or the Pantheistic God-as-representing-universal-order (which Dawkins explicitly states is not what he has a problem with).

    Oh, and this guy:

    http://grimbles.comicgenesis.com/d/20030103.html

  292. #293 God
    June 30, 2008

    I simply find not being falsifiable more amusing than being falsifiable.

    Really, it’s just funny watching you apes make your sad and puzzled faces when you try and figure out why your mommies had to die, or for that matter, why you had to bury yet another child. Or bury a whole busload of children. Or watch children or yourselves suffer in agony for weeks before inevitably dying. Or fill up yet another mass grave.

    Hilarious!

  293. #294 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Forgive my ignorance, but was Dawkins’ intent to write an ironclad, unassailable attack on religion – or was it simply to get some more attention paid to atheism, and give ‘fence-sitters’ something to think about?

    If it was to any extent the latter then he achieved what he set out to – whether or not some of his arguments were pedestrian.

  294. #295 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    Forgive my ignorance, but was Dawkins’ intent to write an ironclad, unassailable attack on religion – or was it simply to get some more attention paid to atheism, and give ‘fence-sitters’ something to think about?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

    you decide.

  295. #296 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008

    The preface of The God Delusion:

    ? As a child, my wife hated her school and wished she could leave. Years later, when she was in her twenties, she disclosed this unhappy fact to her parents, and her mother was aghast: ‘But darling, why didn’t you come to us and tell us?’ Lalla’s reply is my text for today: ‘But I didn’t know I could.’
    ? I didn’t know I could.
    ? I suspect – well, I am sure – that there are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’ religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an option. If you are one of them, this book is for you. It is intended to raise consciousness – raise consciousness to the fact that to be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.

  296. #297 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Ichthyic,

    Thanks for that – I guess I was aware of the underlying concept (it relates to something of Chomsky’s I read) but hadn’t heard that anyone had formalised it and given it a title.

    I’m just wondering if he himself has said anything concrete about his intent, and whether or not he’s okay with having criticism like that used by Henry Gee in this post leveled at him.

  297. #298 negentropyeater
    June 30, 2008

    Of course, one might argue that the existence of God as a bloke with a beard and a nightie sitting on a cloud, who answers one’s every personal prayer, can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified. Of course – that’s easy.
    But that’s the kind of theology that people teach to children. It bears little relationship to what adult theologians think, or to the conception that most intelligent adults have about God – in the same way that most of the science that gets taught to small children doesn’t have much relationship to the real thing as practiced by scientists.

    Men like Henry Gee live on some kind of british elite cloud, where what they view as the conception of “adult theologians and intelligent adults” is what is representative of Christianity throughout the world.

  298. #299 SC
    June 30, 2008

    Does calling someone “impertinent” come across as arrogant and condescending over there, as it does here in the US? I’m genuinely curious – I’m surprised no one has reacted to it. Perhaps among Brits it just means “rude,” without the schoolmarmish overtones? Or was it meant in the sense of “irrelevant” (a stretch, to be sure)?

  299. #300 Ragutis
    June 30, 2008

    Why was Dawkins on Doctor Who? Well, RTD is a fan of his, and he does fit the part of “scientific expert type”. Also, there’s the whole link Dawkins has to Whodom via Douglas Adams and Lalla. (Actually the cameo is fueling a fair bit of speculation on whether this is a subtle clue to a possible return of a certain Timelady.)Perhaps someone else would have been more appropriate, but maybe Hawking couldn’t be arsed and Phil Plait refused unless he got a scene with Billie Piper. :p

    And Henry, don’t let your obvious distaste for the man distort your perceptions. I’m quite sure that the main (if not only) reason Dawkins chose to do the cameo was that he thought it would be fun.

    Anyway, thought the episode was great and I’m really looking forward to next week. (Although making it through to Summer 2010 with only 5 specials is going to suck)

    Someone mentioned Queen? Yes, they are still active. AFAIK, a new album is expected this year and a tour in the fall. Also, they just played at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday bash in Hyde Park this past weekend.

    Lamarckism as Intelligent Design? Am I reading that right? Hoo-boy… I was going to watch “Michael Palin and the Mystery of Hammersh°i” but might have to to just sit here a while, munching popcorn and hitting F5.

  300. #301 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    I’m just wondering if he himself has said anything concrete about his intent, and whether or not he’s okay with having criticism like that used by Henry Gee in this post leveled at him.

    predictably, he has said many things about his intent, which could be interpreted either way.

    However, his attitude about the issues involved (as compared with strictly biology related issues) suggests to me the intent is indeed to shift the frame of debate.

    also, he has essentially succeeded in doing so, intentional or not.

    I lean towards it being intended, myself.

    Is he OK with cricism like Gee’s?

    again, his responses to previous criticism similar to Gee’s suggest he doesn’t consider these kinds of critiques even relevant.

    Gee himself above basically states that he wishes Dawkins had written a different book than he did.

    It’s hard to take a critcism like that as being entirely relevant to the book that is at hand.

    OTOH, perhaps Gee would be more productive suggesting Dawkins write ANOTHER book on the subject?

  301. #302 Owlmirror
    June 30, 2008
  302. #303 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    I’ve got the audiobook version – I’ve listened to sections of it but obviously should listen to the whole thing at some point. I’m aware of some of what he’s said in it; I was just wondering where to find more about what he’s said about it in the aftermath – for want of a better word.

  303. #304 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    It’s impossible for him to get much further than this as he declares, as an axiom, that religion is bunk and theologians are stupid, and that he, Dickie D, knows best.

    funny, I missed that having read the book myself.

    can you point to the chapter where D lays down the law for us?

    …or are you just projecting what you WANT to think he’s doing?

    In fact, I’ve never read anything by Dawkins of any kind where he starts off axiomatically.

    Instead, he builds from evidence and premise; he cites others before he makes a conclusion himself. if you want to criticize his conclusions, you have to criticize the sources for those conclusions in the same fashion.

    If you need a quick refresher, Owlmirror just re-posted the first chapter.

    Why don’t you break that chapter down for us to support your contentions?

    Frankly, I’m not seeing much support.

  304. #305 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    I was just wondering where to find more about what he’s said about it in the aftermath – for want of a better word.

    have you tried his website?

    check the news archives there.

    http://richarddawkins.net/

  305. #306 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    I’ve glanced at the RD page – I’ve always found it hard to navigate. But I’ll see what I can find.

  306. #307 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    My main problem with it is the contention that the existence of God can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified. This is a simple categorical error.

    since basically ANY premise can be couched into the form of a testable hypothesis with enough work, it is not a categorical error.

    It would be a categorical error if he did NOT adjust the premise into the form of a testable hypothesis.

    If you wish, you could criticize the specific effort to do so, but I have yet to see this from you.

    Not that I would disagree that it seems irrelevant to couch the premise of a deity into a testable hypothesis on purely scientific grounds (the results would be less than illuminating; as the IDers have shown us), but as a rhetorical device, and as a way of framing the thousands of years of actual observation of billions of human beings, Dawkins uses it to good effect, IMO.

  307. #308 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    I’ve glanced at the RD page – I’ve always found it hard to navigate. But I’ll see what I can find.

    sorry, I recall some of the things he has said on the subject, but simply don’t have the time to search for the specifics to help you out.

    assume the question you are asking has been asked of him before (it has), and you should be able to find something.

  308. #309 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    …btw, ask yourself the same question of Expelled, and the related media/talk show interviews with Stein.

    I rather view “Expelled” as the Overton response to God Delusion.

    I could be wrong, but I think I can make a good argument for the idea that it is at least one primary function of both works.

  309. #310 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    In my neck of fundieland, ‘impertinent’ = face slap. Fucking impertinent about took my breath away. :(

  310. #311 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    Yeah, I can see that – both have attracted criticism, not only from their logical opponents, but also from people who are essentially on the same ‘side’.

    But it’s kept both products alive in the media and therefore in the minds of the public. And, as far as Expelled is concerned, may have had some impact – the recent Louisiana decision, for example.

  311. #312 SC
    June 30, 2008

    Fucking impertinent about took my breath away. :(

    Yeah, mine too. A “Who the fuck do you think you are?” would’ve been the mildest response it would’ve elicited from me. Then again, I’m a thug. :)

  312. #313 andyo
    June 30, 2008

    Thanks for answering my question, Mr Gee. But it does seem to me that it’s the same criticism we’ve heard over and over, and it’s been answered here with the Courtier’s Reply, which I don’t doubt you’ve also read and I presume diagree with.

    But in any case, yeah, that “ineffable” god, I can also tell you by first-hand accounts of almost all my catholic acquaintances, including many priests (fathers) and brothers, is tossed around plainly and simply as a cop-out when things get tough to explain (which is very often). But in the meantime, they are perfectly happy thinking about people going to hell, repenting for nonsensical “sins,” prayer working, priests being some kind of superior moral teachers, etc.; many of which are things perfectly testable and proven false by science.

    And this is NOT in the U.S., where in this sense they are worse off. Progress (money) and a LOT of free time and poor education have given creationists (who by all means, you’d admit, are anti-science) political and social influence.

  313. #314 Eliza
    June 30, 2008

    now that he’s done it, he’ll lose what shred of credibility he still has among the credulous (present company excepted, naturally), rather in the same way that George Galloway, that other tin-pot little demagogue did, when he appeared on Big Brother.

    Oh, come now, Henry. You can hardly compare the sight of a rotund, middle-aged man wearing a leotard, crawling about on all fours, whilst (very earnestly) pretending to be a cat and licking imaginary milk from the cusped hands of his ‘owner’ with Dawkins apperaring on a fake news program, properly dressed, and not uttering a single mew. Can you?

  314. #315 speedwell
    June 30, 2008

    “…whose arrogance knows no bounds, it seems…”

    Wow, he says that like there’s something wrong with it. What is this weird obsession the religious have with being humble? It reminds me of the saying, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” Humble and meek people generally do make history; they’re the people who get their butts trounced by those who are actually imagining, thinking, speaking, and doing, and acting up in the face of authority. Enough of this “act dead before you die so you’ll fit in with the dead better” crap.

  315. #316 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    I think the term they’re trying very hard not to use – but which illustrates their attitude perfectly – is ‘uppity’.

  316. #317 The MadPanda
    June 30, 2008

    Eliza #314

    *massive spit take*

    Milady, you owe me a new bamboo-flavored latte! And possibly a new monitor…

    The MadPanda, FCD

  317. #318 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    I’m going to buzz off out of respect for PZ’s request above. But I honestly think Nick didn’t deserve that shot. He clearly sports the well filled trouser compared to the other ‘gent’.

  318. #319 Ichthyic
    June 30, 2008

    What is this weird obsession the religious have with being humble?

    the answer is you’re not even wrong.

    one, they are by no means humble, and two, what you are seeing is projection.

  319. #320 Wowbagger
    June 30, 2008

    The discrepancy has always bothered me.

    ‘God created the whole universe and everything in it – including the earth and all the animals – for humanity’ doesn’t exactly sound humble to me.

  320. #321 amk
    June 30, 2008

    SC,

    Does calling someone “impertinent” come across as arrogant and condescending over there, as it does here in the US?

    Yes. Yes it does.

  321. #322 Damian
    June 30, 2008

    To be fair to Mr Gee, The God Delusion was hardly the best defense of atheism, naturalism, etc, that has ever been written, but I hadn’t considered it be even attempting that, anyway. From the moment that I first read it I thought of it as more of a call to arms, if you will, than a scientifically and philosophically rigorous tome that would end all arguments about the existence of God.

    And here’s the thing: no book is ever going to do that. No matter how good the arguments are, those who want/need to believe in God are going to find reason to do so, regardless of how unconvincing we find them. If you want to read a measured, philosophically rigorous book about these issues, read “The Miracle of Theism” by J.L. Mackie, “Atheism: A Philosophical Justification” by Michael Martin , “Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism” by Richard Carrier, or any of the other far, far better defenses of the world view that many of us adhere to, in one respect or another. There are probably 20 or so excellent books that, in my mind, reflect an outstanding case against the existence of God. Heck, just read the essays at The Secular Web.

    Whether by accident or design (I genuinely don’t know), Dawkins produced a book that has had a far greater impact than all of those other books together, and I happen to be grateful for that — not least because it lead me to read those other books, as well as many others, and while it became quite obvious that TGD is hardly likely to persuade a philosopher, or anybody else who has really thought about these issues (or in other words, constructed an amazing labyrinth of God-fuzz in their own minds), the general public does not consist of many philosophers and they are generally quite lazy when it comes to reading through, and attempting to understand, carefully constructed arguments.

    That is the reality, and Dawkins book taps in to that by presenting people with one of the most simple arguments against God that there has ever been, but particularly in the modern age — where is all of the evidence, and why do you hold different questions to different standards of evidence? Whether some people like it or not, that question has persuaded a number of people to snap out of their delusion. I have come across quite a few of them on the internet, and it has even worked for a professor of astrophysics in Norway.

    I think that at times scholarly individuals become so used to the need for rigorous argument that they don’t realize that a simple, but forcefully argued case can often be all that is required for great many people. After all, if nobody has ever dared to even ask why you hold different questions to different standards of evidence, is it any wonder that so many manage to blind themselves to the simple logic of that question?

    So, I can understand those who have criticized Dawkins for not writing a better book, but whether he meant it or not the book that he did write has really put atheism on the map, particularly in the US. That has to count for something, and it has given others the opportunity to take advantage of the ground that has been made. I have to say that it puzzles me why Mr Gee would consider that Dawkins believes that he speaks for evolutionary biology? I can’t say that I would turn down work, just so that nobody gets the wrong idea. I really don’t know what to make of that, to be honest.

  322. #323 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    Funny. I’ve been asleep, but it didn’t feel like I was being buggered.

    So, if I can summarize the past forty or so comments, it is that nobody here minds that The Dog Illusion is poorly argued rant, so long as it is a ‘Call to Arms’. Oh, dear. How very jihadi. How terribly Onward Christian Soldiers of you (God, this html tagging is so tedious).

    That makes The Dog Illusion no better than any other sectarian, intolerant religious tract, which, of course, is what it is.

    And that no matter if grown-up theologians (and most grown-ups, at least, those who have a mental age of about fifteen and who are still in the Nobody Understands Me phase) have a more nuanced view of religion than Dawkins does, the fact that a lot of Americans can’t chew gum and walk at the same time is somehow more important than a man who obviously does have a brain write a book that’s a credit to his intellect and that of his audience – except, of course, if he is writing for his lapdogs and people who still imagine they are Misunderstood Teens. In which case, it seems to have been a roaring success — the man obviously knows his market, and good luck to him.

    One expects such rubbish from creationists and even some of the more trollish commentators on this blog. I mean, when someone launches insults at me for even daring to criticize The Prophet Dawkins because they imagine I’m jealous he’s sold a lot more books than I have … well, that deserves a smackdown. So, yes, fucking impertinent, and worse. Just come over here and spit in my pint, and you’ll see what you get.

    But somehow one expects better from Dawkins.

  323. #324 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    Henry Gee wrote:

    and most grown-ups, at least, those who have a mental age of about fifteen and who are still in the Nobody Understands Me phase) have a more nuanced view of religion than Dawkins does

    This might have more to do with the company you keep, Henry, then it is true of the general public. The majority of religious believers I’ve encountered are far more likely to base their beliefs on exactly the things that Dawkins was attacking – if they’ve even bothered to give it a second thought.

    A nuanced view of religion? Either they believe in some version of a supernatural entity or they don’t. Not really a lot of nuance there from a scientific perspective.

  324. #325 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    So, if I can summarize the past forty or so comments,

    evidently, you can’t.

    it is that nobody here minds that The Dog Illusion is poorly argued rant, so long as it is a ‘Call to Arms’. Oh, dear. How very jihadi. How terribly Onward Christian Soldiers of you (God, this html tagging is so tedious).

    I can think of things that are far more tedious, like watching you be the one actually going off on unsupported rants.

    And that no matter if grown-up theologians (and most grown-ups, at least, those who have a mental age of about fifteen and who are still in the Nobody Understands Me phase) have a more nuanced view of religion than Dawkins does

    I think someone mentioned the Courtier’s reply above…

    the fact that a lot of Americans can’t chew gum and walk at the same time is somehow more important than a man who obviously does have a brain write a book that’s a credit to his intellect and that of his audience

    actually, one of the reasons Dawkins wrote GD is exactly BECAUSE a lot of Americans apparently can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. The ones who fervently adhere to religion in order to identify with other morons who also can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

    uh, have you ever seen Dawkins’ interview with Ted Haggard?

    except, of course, if he is writing for his lapdogs and people who still imagine they are Misunderstood Teens.

    yes, of course, if you mean to imply that we are that audience, you aren’t even wrong.

    you do know what that means, right?

    In fact, your failure to parse the actual challenges presented to your interpretations in this thread rather suggests YOU are the one trying to mentally masturbate yourself like a pre-pubescent teen.

    One expects such rubbish from creationists and even some of the more trollish commentators on this blog.

    *watches Henry projecting like a mad fool*

    Henry, YOU are the only one here who failed to support your contentions in the slightest.

    YOU are the perfect example of the Courtier’s reply.

    Epic Fail.

    You should be ashamed to waste PZ’s glowing recommendation of your presumed intellect in such a fashion.
    If this is how you “debate” the issue with PZ in private, I can only assume PZ must be burned out from too much traveling of late.

    Just come over here and spit in my pint, and you’ll see what you get.

    It better be one YOU paid for, ’cause you haven’t given reason for anyone here to be charitable to you.

  325. #326 pcarini
    July 1, 2008

    Wow, over a day old and this thread still has some life in it!

    Mr. Gee, you’ll admit that your entrance could have been a bit more graceful, right?

    We’ve seen hundreds of posts combining the same type of ad-hominem attacks with the same lack of justification as your first post here. Your second post didn’t improve the situation too much, it read more like a conspiracy theory than any reasoned inference — shunning the obvious explanations in lieu of some sort of “mastermind behind the scenes” hypothesis. Your tone throughout was condescending, as was the instant assumption that people who didn’t agree with you hadn’t/couldn’t have read your post.

    As I mentioned, we get this all the time, but usually from people like stan (above) who is actively arguing for Lamarckism, and who calls science “a pig”. Doctorate or no, don’t come in here spouting the same invective as the creationists do, backed up by the same lack of reasoning that they use without expecting to be treated similarly. While PZ may have a great deal of respect for you, many of us don’t know who you are and have to take your rant at face value.

    Just be thankful Holbach hasn’t seen you and flagged you for a christer yet…

  326. #327 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    While PZ may have a great deal of respect for you, many of us don’t know who you are and have to take your rant at face value.

    even knowing exactly who he is (you can easily find out by clicking the link to his website), we still have to take his rants at face value.

    to do any less would be the true insult.

    a writer lives by his words, literally (pun intended). The exhibition of Henry the writer and editor of Nature in this thread had better NOT be representative of how he really debates this topic on a regular basis.

    …or he’s fucking doomed.

  327. #328 pcarini
    July 1, 2008

    I do find it interesting, and maybe Mr. Gee is alluding to this, that I come across many more people in their teens and early twenties who self-identify as atheists than I would expect, here in the US, at least.

    I started noticing this well before the most recent round of “New Atheist” books came out. I feel ambivalent about it, though, because many of them don’t have any reasoned explanation of or argument for their atheism. I also get the feeling that most of them don’t like to read books. I’m all for an increasing number of atheists, but I’d rather not they be thoughtless followers.
    </elitist>

  328. #329 Damian
    July 1, 2008

    Henry Gee said:

    So, if I can summarize the past forty or so comments, it is that nobody here minds that The Dog Illusion is poorly argued rant, so long as it is a ‘Call to Arms’. Oh, dear. How very jihadi. How terribly Onward Christian Soldiers of you.

    OK, now you have pissed me off. Where have I suggested that I didn’t mind that TGD was poorly argued? I specifically said that it was, in many respects, poorly argued. What I also said was that if you are going to chastise Dawkins for that, do you not also have to acknowledge, at the very least, that it started a conversation, that atheists in the US now have the best chance that they’ve ever had to make an impression on the consciousness of mainstream society, and that without that book it may not have been possible? Does this not count for anything? I often find that those who are comfortable within themselves just can’t see the plight of others.

    And while “call to arms” may have been poorly phrased (for the anally retentive amongst us), I specifically followed it by “if you will”, which clearly suggests that it was meant figuratively. What I meant by that — and I will try to be very specific for you from now on — is that it has lead to the realization in a great many people that there are things that are worth defending, and that it is folly to believe that somebody else is always going to do the dirty work for you. It further means that non-believers constitute a larger proportion of the electorate than many other minorities, and that they can have an impact in elections if they are willing to work together.

    Do you have a problem with that, Mr Gee?

    Henry Gee said:

    That makes The Dog Illusion no better than any other sectarian, intolerant religious tract, which, of course, is what it is.

    Perhaps, and perhaps your definition of intolerant renders just about every person on this planet as such, including, might I add, yourself. Of course, we are all intolerant of a great many things and I can’t imagine that you are arguing for it to be any other way. What you are arguing for is that others should be tolerant of the things that you are, and intolerant of things that you are, also. Aren’t we all? And you cannot seriously be suggesting that there aren’t many things about religion to be intolerant of?

    Tolerance is an over-rated concept, anyway, and I say that as someone who lives in what is often described as the most tolerant country in the world, England. It is entirely dependent on the merit and context of your intolerance and how that manifests itself. I respect the right of people to believe as they wish, as long as it does not negatively impact others. I do not have to respect ideas, however, and prevent myself from arguing against them.

    Henry Gee said:

    And that no matter if grown-up theologians (and most grown-ups, at least, those who have a mental age of about fifteen and who are still in the Nobody Understands Me phase) have a more nuanced view of religion than Dawkins does, the fact that a lot of Americans can’t chew gum and walk at the same time is somehow more important than a man who obviously does have a brain write a book that’s a credit to his intellect and that of his audience – except, of course, if he is writing for his lapdogs and people who still imagine they are Misunderstood Teens. In which case, it seems to have been a roaring success — the man obviously knows his market, and good luck to him.

    This is pure nonsense. Have you read any of the 20-odd books that have been written in response to TGD, each and every one of them as intolerant and poorly argued as you claim Dawkins’ book is? And written by those “grown-up theologians”, as well! Indeed, it was Alister McGrath’s book that persuaded the Norwegian astrophysicist that religion doesn’t have the arguments on its side. Fancy that.

    Every one of the books in response that I have read commits the exact same error that Dawkins has been chastised for, as well. Namely, not taking on the best arguments. Every single one of them uses TGD as a platform to attack atheism, naturalism, etc, without taking on the best arguments in favor of those worldviews.

    After all, if Dawkins’ book is so bad, why even bother to produce a response? We know why — it’s because of the impact that it had, not to mention the fact that they knew that they could make more money by tackling a popular book and its writer.

    Henry Gee said:

    One expects such rubbish from creationists and even some of the more trollish commentators on this blog. I mean, when someone launches insults at me for even daring to criticize The Prophet Dawkins because they imagine I’m jealous he’s sold a lot more books than I have … well, that deserves a smackdown. So, yes, fucking impertinent, and worse. Just come over here and spit in my pint, and you’ll see what you get.

    H.Y.P.O.C.R.I.T.E.

    That is all.

  329. #330 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    and maybe Mr. Gee is alluding to this

    it sounded more like an insult than an argument to me.

    be careful you don’t read more into his rant than was there, which was precious little, surprisingly.

    Frankly, I’m more than a little disappointed that Gee would choose to “summarize” the over 40 responses to his initial post as being equivalent to the very first response.

    If he doesn’t wish to present any legitimate arguments to support his contentions, that’s fine, but he certainly can’t expect to garner any respect for it.

    I don’t respect the office of the President, if the man installed in it makes the kind of arguments Chimpy McGrin does, either.

  330. #331 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    pcarini, #328

    Isn’t atheism the ‘default position’? If people have managed to be insulated against, or otherwise protected from, religious indoctrination, is it fair to say that they’re only an atheist because they’re ignorant of the reasons why one should be an atheist?

    This is important to me because that describes my position. I’ve always been an atheist; the arguments I use to explain why I am an atheist are, for all intents and purposes, ‘after the fact’. I find them to be intellectual satisfying, but maybe I’m just wallowing in the same sort of delusion as a religious believer who’s managed to rationalise enough to be comfortable.

    It reminds me how much it seems that the emphasis in US fundamentalism is on being born-again – like having always been a Xian is somehow less valid or authentic than having lived a life of debauchery before being saved.

    But I do agree with you in that, whatever your position, you should understand why it is you hold it. That’s my issue with a lot of religions – technically, you can be counted amongst its membership simply by self-proclamation. You don’t need to understand anything about the beliefs you’re claiming to hold; in fact, you can live your entire life contrary to those beliefs and yet have no problem answering ‘yes’ to whether or not you believe.

    I suspect the number of Pascal’s Wagerers is far greater than the religious would care to admit.

  331. #332 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    I suspect the number of Pascal’s Wagerers is far greater than the religious would care to admit.

    now that would be an interesting question for Gee…

    I wonder if he would agree, considering he evidently considers most atheists to be little more than rebellious teenagers.

    shift the frame of reference to the “gray generation”, and I suspect those accepting Pascal’s Wager becomes much, much larger.

  332. #333 Patricia
    July 1, 2008

    I buzz off…then just for fun, creep back by & the thread is still alive!
    Holy shite, Ichthyic you got some fight in you man. If it ever comes down to a vote for the biggest tackle on Pharyngula you’re gonna be LARGE in the top three.

  333. #334 pcarini
    July 1, 2008

    Wowbagger:

    I admit to atheism being the default position for me, the religion thing just never took. And it wasn’t until much past my adolescent years that I found firm scientific and rhetorical logic to back up what I’d always felt, or not felt. So maybe I’m being harsh on the kids for no reason at all.

    At the same time, I sometimes see people embrace atheism for little better reason than shocking their parents, or because it’s as far removed from their former belief as possible. I can’t relate to either so, of course, I think they’re wrong. The first seems silly, but perhaps it can keep a person interested until reason kicks in. The second, well… some people _need_ to dive headfirst into beliefs, and when they get disillusioned with one they make a beeline to its opposite and jump in just as unquestioningly. As much as we’d hate to admit it, there are people that are as gung-ho for atheism as Tom Cruise is for Scientology.

  334. #335 pcarini
    July 1, 2008

    “If it ever comes down to a vote for the biggest tackle on Pharyngula …”

    Now that the idea is out, it absolutely MUST come down to a vote for the biggest tackle on Pharyngula.

  335. #336 Jesus, called Christ
    July 1, 2008

    Just come over here and spit in my pint

    If I were able to affect the corporeal world, I’d be strongly tempted to replace your pint with flat skunked Budweiser. Because fakes do not deserve Real Beer.

  336. #337 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Holy shite, Ichthyic you got some fight in you man. If it ever comes down to a vote for the biggest tackle on Pharyngula you’re gonna be LARGE in the top three.

    when PZ “vouched” for Gee, I took a look to see who he was.

    In seeing his authored books, and that he is a co-editor for Nature, I immediately got extremely miffed that his statements in this thread are what he apparently considered to be “debate”, and instead amounted to little more than a classic Courtier’s reply.

    …and, as if to add self-insult to self-injury, he ended his last post with:

    But somehow one expects better from Dawkins.

    :-O

    …because, man, I was thinking the exact same thing about Gee. It’s purely selfish on my part, I suppose, wanting to see exactly what arguments he wished to support, instead of seeing him get all pissy about someone insulting his book sales figures.

    … or am I “summarizing” his responses too superficially?

  337. #338 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    pcarini,

    Sometimes it’s a bit hard here at Pharyngula when so many of the posters are deconverted Xians who have an amazing knowledge of both religion and science (while I can’t claim much familiarity with either – at least not here anyway), and use the combination to tear would-be trolls apart.

    It doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining and illuminating, though – I’ve learned so much in the last few months.

    But it tends to make me feel like my own, easily-achieved atheism is rather ineffectual in comparison, and that I have to go to extremes to be noticed and respected. But I’ve managed to resist the urge and can just post on the things I feel strongly about, rather than try to fling poo (thank you Brenda) just for the sake of it.

    Trolls like The Stan, though, bring out the worst in me.

  338. #339 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 1, 2008

    So, if I can summarize the past forty or so comments, it is that nobody here minds that The Dog Illusion is poorly argued rant, so long as it is a ‘Call to Arms’.

    No, it means that they take the book on its merits, for good and ill. It is a book that is strong in places and weak in others. What work is not? Most importantly, it speaks not to theologians but Joe Public.

    Oh, dear. How very jihadi.

    To call it jihadi is dishonest. Point to one example of ‘jihad-like’ behaviour by atheists. I see no legions of atheists hurling themselves into battle against Christer hordes. No suicide bombers crying out ‘Dawkins is Great!’

    No, it’s not jihadi. It’s a vehicle that launches atheism into the mainstream, something we British may have less of a problem with, but many Americans clearly do. (See many past Pharyngula posts on the excessive religiosity of some communities.)

    That makes The Dog Illusion no better than any other sectarian, intolerant religious tract, which, of course, is what it is.

    Or is not. There is no sect, and to see atheists as sectaries would be an error. There is no church, and beyond the tenet of unbelief, no doctrine. To view this as intolerant misses something important: that atheists have historically been remarkably tolerant. They have not oppressed the godly, and rather the oppression is the other way around. For some folks, this is less about intolerance than resistance and survival in a godly culture.

    I’m not sure what alternative you propose, Henry, but if you expect the rest of us to try high-minded debate with theologians whilst bending over and taking it up the arse from the god-botherers, who genuinely do hate us, you have another think coming.

    And that no matter if grown-up theologians (and most grown-ups, at least, those who have a mental age of about fifteen and who are still in the Nobody Understands Me phase) have a more nuanced view of religion than Dawkins does, the fact that a lot of Americans can’t chew gum and walk at the same time is somehow more important than a man who obviously does have a brain write a book that’s a credit to his intellect and that of his audience – except, of course, if he is writing for his lapdogs and people who still imagine they are Misunderstood Teens. In which case, it seems to have been a roaring success — the man obviously knows his market, and good luck to him.

    I say again, theologians have little political clout. The rank and file godly and their political leaders (who know little of theology) have all the power. So TDG speaks to them, and the people under the sway of the priests, and common or garden atheists who have to live in a godly culture. The rank and file religious care little of theological finesse. Rather, they need an comprehensible counter to the nonsense they are sold by their priests, such as Intelligent Design and other wacked forms of biology/cosmology. They need to be told in simple language that there is an alternative morality that does not require a sky god.

    So, yes, fucking impertinent, and worse. Just come over here and spit in my pint, and you’ll see what you get.

    Well, I’m in Warwickshire, so this could be arranged…
    .
    .
    .
    (No, that was not a jihadi threat, but a device for rhetorical effect. I am available to meet up for a pint, though…)

  339. #340 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    grown-up theologians

    Like, say, Hector Avalos, Gee?

  340. #341 God
    July 1, 2008

    While I thoroughly approve of invective, insults, ad hominems, expressions of contempt and degradation, petty snideness, cheap shots, denigration, smears, false accusations, and generally any and every instance of angry and outraged rhetoric that you apes use to make each other feel bad, I still must insist that it is all too polite and genteel. Where are the death threats? Where are the calls to have your followers set My enemies on fire? Where are the torturers with their curious and bloodstained tools? Where are those screaming that some verse in the bible will break his opponent’s neck? Where are the priests demanding the extermination of entire populations?

    Nowhere. I see exaggerated accusations of holy war (which I thoroughly approve of), but nothing that even vaguely resembles what My real theologians came up with.

    You can take your “nuanced views” and shove them up your puckered ape anus. I don’t want nuanced views, I want war!

  341. #342 pcarini
    July 1, 2008

    So, yes, fucking impertinent, and worse. Just come over here and spit in my pint, and you’ll see what you get.

    Well, I’m in Warwickshire, so this could be arranged…

    My deepest apologies, but I can’t think of a disagreement between Brits without thinking of the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzOBlPKZjxE&feature=related

  342. #343 Jesus, called Christ
    July 1, 2008

    I don’t want nuanced views, I want war!

    And what we need for you is the ectoplasmic transcendental ineffable equivalent of a straitjacket and a rubber room, you daft old psychopathic fart.

  343. #344 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    And what we need for you is the ectoplasmic transcendental ineffable equivalent of a straitjacket and a rubber room, you daft old psychopathic fart.

    when is the cage match between you two scheduled?

    did you decide on which weapons to use?

    still gotta get those press packets out!

  344. #345 Damian
    July 1, 2008

    pcarini, that’s hilarious!

    I’m ashamed to say that we Brits are rather fond of the old drive-by argument. It’s a terrible blight on our society.

  345. #346 God
    July 1, 2008

    when is the cage match between you two scheduled?

    What part of us both being incorporeal and invisible did you not understand?

    Although….

    Now I think about it, I can see some real potential here. Lose the whole father-son things; the vast population of suckers think that we’re best buddies. They just wouldn’t spring for it.

    But announce a God vs. Satan tournament, and they’ll probably geek like mad, especially the pro-Armageddon crowd.

    Then, announce that since the conflict will be on another plane of existence, no-one will see anything anyway. You’ll just read through the script of what “we” do, and maybe rig up some special effects to freak the audience out at certain points.

    It’ll be great!

    The best part, from my point of view, is that people with form factions and fight over what “really” happened. Some will argue that I beat the devil in the first round, and the rest was you faking it. Others will insist that despite what you say about who “wins”, it was actually the other way around. They’ll start hitting each other, and the audience will dissolve into a riotous violent conflict!

    And that way, I will win!

  346. #347 SEF
    July 1, 2008

    @ #331

    like having always been a Xian is somehow less valid or authentic than having lived a life of debauchery before being saved.

    That’s the Biblical view (at some points anyway!). Eg Luke 15 (the prodigal son / sheep / coin / sinner etc). I vaguely recall there being at least one separate instance but can’t think how to look it up in my concordance. The prodigal wotsit is the easy one.

  347. #348 Jesus, called Christ
    July 1, 2008

    when is the cage match between you two scheduled?

    Will you please stop encouraging him?!? I mean, really now.

    a God vs. Satan tournament

    Just so you know, “Satan” is one of God’s many sockpuppets. So his staged fight scenario is just an update on a very old idea.

  348. #349 andyo
    July 1, 2008

    My deepest apologies, but I can’t think of a disagreement between Brits without thinking of the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzOBlPKZjxE&feature=related

    Posted by: pcarini | July 1, 2008 3:04 AM

    Thanks for that. I thought Family Guy even before clicking on the link.

    There used to be a time where we could “Family Guy” every situation especially when dealing with absurdity (the evolution clip was a classic), but these copyright bastards keep messing with us Family-Guy-ers.

  349. #350 CosmicTeapot
    July 1, 2008

    Henry

    I found the God Delusion thought provoking. I hope it does the same for others who would not care to read a more philosophically rigorous book. After all, not every one is as intellectual as yourself.

    Carlie @289 adequately answers your view on the book so I won’t.

    I would like to answer a few points of your initial post though.

    “How dare the producers stoop so low to admit Dickie D on one of my favorite shows”? Forgive my impertinence, but they don’t write it for you.

    “Perhaps, now that he’s done it, he’ll lose what shred of credibility he still has among the credulous”. You really think he only has a shred of credibility? Well, I suppose we’re all entitled to an opinion.

    And who are these “credulous” that you speak of? You’re not being an elitist tit are you?

  350. #351 Thor
    July 1, 2008

    Hey there, “God”.

    Can you completely obliterate a busy airport terminal without killing anyone? I did that and only one girl disappeared (didn’t die though). I know you like the killing, but that’s freaking easy. I dare you to try some destruction while avoiding the killing. That is difficult. You are way overrated old guy.

    Daddy Odin was pretty pissed though, I guess I can relate there, JC.

  351. #352 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    I found the God Delusion thought provoking. I hope it does the same for others who would not care to read a more philosophically rigorous book. After all, not every one is as intellectual as yourself.

    Thank you, CosmicTeapot, for encapsulating the problem I have with The Dog Illusion: that is, the implication in your comment that a book cannot be both popular (or populist) and philosophically rigorous. Why not? Any argument (yeah, OK, even mine) should make logical sense, irrespective of the audience to which it is directed.

    “How dare the producers stoop so low to admit Dickie D on one of my favorite shows”? Forgive my impertinence, but they don’t write it for you.

    Of course they do. The secret of a good show, especially a cult show, is that every individual viewer thinks it is written for him or her alone.

  352. #353 CosmicTeapot
    July 1, 2008

    Henry

    By philosophically rigorous, I mean one with an eye more for the rigorous and less of the passion; with terms the man in the street would not necessarily understand, and to explain would lead to a more staid read. A more boring book if you will.

    It is an interesting, eye opening read after all.

  353. #354 negentropyeater
    July 1, 2008

    But wait a second Mr Gee, you are not being rigourous either, you are making completely unwaranted assumptions too :

    This comment for instance shows that you are completely detached from reality, living on some kind of “intellectual british cloud”;

    Of course, one might argue that the existence of God as a bloke with a beard and a nightie sitting on a cloud, who answers one’s every personal prayer, can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified. Of course – that’s easy. But that’s the kind of theology that people teach to children. It bears little relationship to what adult theologians think, or to the conception that most intelligent adults have about God – in the same way that most of the science that gets taught to small children doesn’t have much relationship to the real thing as practiced by scientists.

    So, may I ask, what percentage of Christians do you believe are represented by those “adult theologians and intelligent adults” in the USA ? In south America ? In Africa ?
    You seem to have a conception of the way religion is being practiced throughout the world which is very much influenced by the comfortable benches of the churches in Norfolk. Maybe a slightly more detailed analysis would be appropriate wouldn’t it ?

    So of course, on your cloud, the God delusion is just an illusion, it doesn’t really exist, well stay happy, all is fine in Norfolk.

  354. #355 Damian
    July 1, 2008

    Henry Gee said:

    that a book cannot be both popular (or populist) and philosophically rigorous. Why not?

    Jesus Christ, Henry, have you read “Atheism: A Philosophical Justification”, “The Improbability of God”, and “The Impossibility of God”, all by Michael Martin? I have all three, and while they are simply outstanding in their rigor, I wouldn’t expect that most people would find them interesting at all. In fact, Martin’s books have barely made the top 100 at Amazon.uk, while TGD is currently 4th, unfortunately behind “The Secret” and two other crappy books about spirituality. Urgh.

    That is the reality of the situation, whether you like it or not. The top 20 books in the Religious section at Amazon are almost exclusively about woo. And where is the evidence that a truly rigorous investigation of anything has reached a popular audience? If there is any, it is almost certainly the exception and not the rule.

    Michael Martin needed 1132 pages of philosophical argument to fully satisfy himself that he had covered the topic of God’s existence. Dawkins even directs people to those books as he evidently realized that he could not — and it would seem pointless to have even tried — do a better job than a philosopher of religion.

    I would be interested to hear which of Dawkins’ arguments are logically inconsistent, by the way?

  355. #356 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    You seem to have a conception of the way religion is being practiced throughout the world which is very much influenced by the comfortable benches of the churches in Norfolk. Maybe a slightly more detailed analysis would be appropriate wouldn’t it?

    I’m Jewish. What goes on inside Norfolk churches is not mine to judge. Neither is the way that other people practice their religion, even if their religion is no religion at all. But if the way that religion is being practiced is full of cruelty, prejudice and illogic, why should Dawkins stoop to that level? As I say, I expected better from Dawkins. I felt I deserved better. I daresay you deserved better. If The Dog Illusion was good enough for you … well, I won’t say any more.

    While enjoying this friendly intercourse I’ve been reading Harry Potter to my youngest, and the two kind of merged together overnight

    “The next recollection I wish to show you,” said Dumbledore, uncorking a vial of that same, strange silvery matter, and stooping over the pensieve, “is perhaps the most significant of any I’ve shown you.”

    Harry felt a chill grip his arms. “Who’s it from?”

    “I gathered it at great personal risk,” continued Dumbledore, “from a house-elf called Becky, who works for a very rich and calculating literary agent called Mephistopheles Fleece. We’ll be transported to his office for a meeting with Professor Dawkins, who as you know applied to be the Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.”

    “You … turned him down?” said Harry.

    “Yes, I did. I felt that he would use his position to build himself an army and overturn the magical world, inconveniencing a lot of muggles too, no doubt. However, let us continue. After you, Harry.”

    Harry stooped low over the basin of ethereal fluid, neither liquid nor gas, and felt the now-familiar wrenching sensation of being whirled through nothingness. He came to rest in a brightly lit, expensively furnished office. Dumbledore was standing next to him.

    “So, Dickie? How’s it going?” The voice came from a rotund, dark-suited figure seated across the biggest desk Harry had ever seen.

    “Not as well as I’d hoped,” came the reply. “I’ve tried everything, from The Selfish Gene to The Ancestor’s Tale, but world domination continues to elude me, alas.” Harry turned to see the speaker–a handsome man in middle years, with piercing blue eyes which, despite their prominence, seemed to be devoid of humanity. Harry was uncomfortably reminded of Lucius Malfoy.

    “You know your problem, Dickie?” said the suited man–whom Harry realized was Mephistopheles Fleece–who paused to clip and light an enormous cigar.

    “Enlighten me.”

    “Demographics, Dickie. Demographics. Your audience is too small. Writing highbrow sience books for a lot of limp-writed Oxbridge academics–no offence, Dickie–is never gonna shift units. Science? Schmience! What really floats their boat is sex, cookery and religion. With you? I’d say, try religion. A bit of God-bothering really pushes the buttons. And there’s a whole new market coming on stream. Ripe to be tapped.”

    “New Market? Tapped? What do you mean?” Professor Dawkins looked a little lost, flustered.

    “Look at it this way. More than a decade has passed since Kurt Cobain shot himself …”

    “Who?”

    “Rock singer? Nirvana? Ring any bells? No, thought not. Never mind. Anyway, all the teenagers who wasted their time feeling angsty and angry have grown up, and are now angsty and angry adults. It’s as if the My-Parents-Don’t-Understand-Me generation has grown up, anxious for a new rallying call, a new figurehead. These people have never had sex, and they wouldn’t understand a good meal if you shoved it under their snouts. But religion, though. That’s a winner.”

    “That’s a thought…” Dawkins sat back, lost in inner contemplation.

    “Yeah, isn’t it?” said Fleece. Blue cigar smoke filled the room. “Doesn’t have to be a very good book, either. No need to waste time researching anything. After all, what did The Selfish Gene get you in the end? Bupkes! An a man like you could probably knock it out over a weekend, in between re-reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and highlighting memorable passages of Mein Kampf.”

    This time the glint in Dawkins’ eyes was unmistakable. “I’ll do it,” he said. “I’ll have the manuscript to you on Monday. But that’s not why I’m here. Not really.”

    “No?”

    “Well, it’s … you know, Fleece … it’s always been my desire to have a part on Dr Who. Nothing very big, you know. Lalla always said I’d enjoy it, and …”

    “No problem,” said Fleece. “Just leave it to me. There will be one condition, though.”

    “You have only to name it.”

    “Sure. well, I’d like you to read the Torah portion on Saturday. And be a witness at my grandson’s bris.”

    “Bris?”

    “Sure, you’ll love it. You might even get a few tips.”

  356. #357 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    Damien – after your riposte above (#329) I do wonder why you’re even asking me to make a clarification. My answer to your comment about Dawkins’ logical error can be found in comment #288.

  357. #358 andyo
    July 1, 2008

    The question still remains, though. How exactly more “philosophically rigorous” can you get about “God” and theology? First, I think there needs to be established that there’s anything that’s worth being “philosophically rigorous” about. As far as I know “theologians” have always been asked to clarify themselves, but it seems all they can do is muddle the waters so there’s nothing concrete to talk honestly and clearly about.

  358. #359 negentropyeater
    July 1, 2008

    But if the way that religion is being practiced is full of cruelty, prejudice and illogic, why should Dawkins stoop to that level?

    Because it exists, and it does have disastrous effects on all matters of public life especially in the USA, it has also absolutely no tolerance for other forms of belief and for non belief. Sir, you just don’t seem to feel the urgency ! Wake up, listen and observe, and you’ll see it with your own eyes.

    It’s kind of obvious isn’t it, that Dawkins saw that there was an opportunity, but that just means this book was needed, that the timing was right, the tone was right, and he was the right guy to write it.

    You are still not making any serious argument why a book that would have been written for you as the target market would have been more useful.

  359. #360 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    Hmm, I suspect we’re going to have to come up with some specific variation on the Courtier’s Reply to encompass Henry Gee’s particular perspective.

    How about the Gentleman’s Admonish?

    Because I think that’s what Henry’s problem with Dawkins is – that he’s exhibiting poor form by being so mean and nasty to all the oh-so-harmless theologians, who’ve never really done anything bad to anyone.

    Yes, it’s fine on an intellectual level to be an atheist, as long as one has the decency to keep it to one’s self and not going and spoil everyone’s fun by being so crass and obvious about it.

    Like a jolly good tennis match, that’s what it all should be like between theists and atheists. After a good hard slog we can all go back to the clubhouse and have a nice gin & tonic and all remain friends.

    What say you Henry, old boy?

  360. #361 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    And by the way, don’t be so fucking impertinent. – Henry Gee

    This from someone who refers to Professor Richard Dawkins as “Dickie D”. Don’t be such a pompous ass, Gee.

    Incidentally, the linking of Dawkins with George Galloway is interesting. About the only thing these two have in common is vehement opposition to the invasion of Iraq. I wonder if this is relevant to Gee’s hostility to both?

  361. #362 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    This is all very chortlesome, and if you want me to come over the English Milord that you seem to think I am, then I will. To this nice Jewish boy and descendant of recent immigrants, I’m about as aristocratic as bagels and lox. That aside, my idea of Judiasm these days is taking matzos to munch in my beach hut, and enjoying a collegial game of Scrabble with the vicar’s wife.

    I think you chaps (might I use ‘chaps’?) labour under the misperception that there’s a kind of zero-sum game, that the more rigorous your arguments, the more of an audience you’ll capture. This is piffle, as Dawkins’ own books show. His earlier books on evolution were as revolutionary in science as they were in popular culture. Need I say more? Jared Diamond’s books are rigorous to a fault, and sell truckloads. Stephen Pinker’s books are so witty they make me laugh out loud.

    And as for rigour — well, I find theology as baffling as anybody (truly, I do wonder, sometimes, if Jesus wants me for a tapeworm) and I take your point, andyo, that it’s hard to wrestle clouds. And that’s the point I made above about categorical errors — you can’t dismiss the existence of God simply by asserting that God is a scientific hypothesis to be falsified. In my own experience as a Jew, the existence of God is a complicated topic to be considered at many different levels, none of which seem to be related to the kind of intercessionary God that many Christians find so homely (I think this last concept is silly, but, frankly, that’s none of my business).

    And, yes, there is a problem in the US about the millions of Americans who do believe in this kind of primitive faith (one that my ancestors abandoned about 2000 years ago as practically and politically unworkable, but which Dickie just harps on about in The Dog Illusion, as if bugger all has happened since). I discussed this with PZ at SciFoo last year, and he made it plain that to profess atheism in the US was political suicide. But I say again – is it the right thing to stoop to the level of one’s critics?

    It’s just not cricket, what? Tally Ho? Yoicks?

  362. #363 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    Incidentally, the linking of Dawkins with George Galloway is interesting. About the only thing these two have in common is vehement opposition to the invasion of Iraq. I wonder if this is relevant to Gee’s hostility to both?

    I thought the invasion of Iraq was silly. What these two gentlemen have in common is a tendency to demagoguery, and a very peculiar attitude to my co-religionists.

  363. #364 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    the existence of God is a complicated topic to be considered at many different levels – Henry Gee

    Indeed, as is the existence of fairies. I mean really, serious faerieologians don’t believe in winged moppets in Victorian costume flitting from flower to flower or dancing around toadstools. As if faeries would spend their time cursing individual human beings, or kidnapping children, when they have the serious task of sustaining the existence of the universe to deal with!

  364. #365 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    I thought the invasion of Iraq was silly.
    That’s funny – I thought it was wicked. But if breaking international law and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in the pursuit of power is just “silly” in your estimation, I can understand why you so dislike people who, whatever their faults, have a moral compass you evidently lack.

  365. #366 CosmicTeapot
    July 1, 2008

    Henry

    You said “My main problem with it is the contention that the existence of God can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified”.

    Any god who can not be proved to exist, can not be worshipped. After all, this god may not want us to just believe, maybe it wants us to eat goat cheese every alternate Wednesday or be eternally damned. Or it may just not exist. Either way, what is the point of worrying about this highbrow, philosophical kind of god.

    Your old man and a beard god was answered by Carlie in post289, as well as Dr Dawkins in the God Delusion. It is the people who worship these ludicrous, imaginary beings who are the ones who fly planes into towers; kill people for changing to a different religion; treat women as second class citizens; want to inject superstition into science class; to kill people, just because they don’t believe; or plant bombs in the London underground.

    Let the theologians waste their time with what the triune nature of the christian god really means, or what music angels listen to while dancing on a pin. You could join them instead of trying to defend your initial rant.

  366. #367 scooter
    July 1, 2008

    If Stan’s theories of plasticity are correct, there are millions waiting for him in the lucrative venture of penis enlargement science.

  367. #368 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    I’m an Australian (the descendant of immigrants and convicts!), Henry – as a Brit you probably don’t want to talk to me about cricket. I used the old boy’s club analogy because that’s how you were coming across to me.

    But you’ve made your point – considering god’s existence outside of science – clear, and that’s all I need.

  368. #369 negentropyeater
    July 1, 2008

    And, yes, there is a problem in the US about the millions of Americans who do believe in this kind of primitive faith (one that my ancestors abandoned about 2000 years ago as practically and politically unworkable, but which Dickie just harps on about in The Dog Illusion, as if bugger all has happened since).

    Well, just about 140 million of them. Who believe and continue to endoctrinate their children with such notions as the earth is 6000 yold, that Dinosaurs and humans coexisted, that humans and apes were specially created, that human embryos are the same as babies, that homosexuality is a terrible sin, that non believers shouldn’t be allowed to be called Americans, that God will punish America with all sorts of natural disasters if it passes laws that are against what they think is taught in their sacred texts, that America is some sort of exceptional promissed land, that the I95 highway is some evidence for that, that they should visit the wonderful attraction park creation museum from Ken Ham, that god answers their individual prayers, that one should teach creationism as science in public schools etc…

    So you keep talking of your ancestors as if they were representative of what is happening in the United States, but why ?
    If the form of Juda´sm you are talking about were a prevalent form of religion in the USA, I think it could coexist quite well in a secular society with non believers and other tolerant forms of religions, and indeed, the God delusion would have been fairly unnecessary.

  369. #370 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    the existence of God is a complicated topic to be considered at many different levels – Henry Gee. Indeed, as is the existence of fairies. I mean really, serious faerieologians don’t believe in winged moppets in Victorian costume flitting from flower to flower or dancing around toadstools

    Go study some Talmud, Nick, and appreciate the very Jewish concepts of argument, debate and doubt. Then come back when you know what you’re talking about.

    Any god who can not be proved to exist, can not be worshipped

    That’s a complete, 180-degree misunderstanding of faith, and what it means. Sorry, CosmicTeapot, if you cannot understand that, then no-one is ever going to convince you.

    It is the people who worship these ludicrous, imaginary beings who are the ones who fly planes into towers; kill people for changing to a different religion; treat women as second class citizens; want to inject superstition into science class; to kill people, just because they don’t believe; or plant bombs in the London underground.

    Sure, but to blame religion for the acts of these people is to commit the same logical error as the person who damns the internet because some people use it to download child pornography. Sorry, wrong again.

    I thought the invasion of Iraq was silly.
    That’s funny – I thought it was wicked.

    Just my typical Olde Worlde Englishe Understatemente. Would ‘ridiculous’ be any better? I didn’t mention the Iraq War — you did.

    But you’ve made your point – considering god’s existence outside of science – clear, and that’s all I need.

    Thank you, Wowbagger, for encapsulating it. That’s precisely what I mean. Now, please excuse me, I have to go an do some work.

  370. #371 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 1, 2008

    Henry, everything you say appears to suggest you regard religion as something that happens in a far off land to other people. You also appear to be projecting your faith experience onto others. As a survivor of the supposedly benign C of E (as Dawkins was) I’d suggest the danger of religion is far more clear and present that you may credit it.

    I also suggest your problem with Dawkins appears to be less that of his rigour and more that of his stridency. Why not admit that you simply have a personal dislike of him and that this colours your view? I can at least understand that rather than your offhand snidery aimed at his supposed lack of rigour. I don’t believe you are being completely candid with us.

    Yes, RD makes plenty of enemies, including those who might otherwise be allies, but I view this as necessary. Atheists are, in my experience, a trepid lot and for some of us a strong voice is welcome, even if it is, for a few like you, divisive. It does not make us ‘jihadis’ or ‘fundies’ (and such talk is unhelpful as it only encouages the god-botherers). A powerful voice in the public square makes it easier to stand our ground in public life.

    TDG has started a useful conversation on religion and atheism and, I suspect, is a tool that will help many away from the godly life. I hope to see anecdotal evidence of this in the future.

    By the way, Henry, that offer of a pint stands. If I’m in a good mood, I might not spit in it, either.

  371. #372 Damian
    July 1, 2008

    Henry Gee said:

    Damien – after your riposte above (#329) I do wonder why you’re even asking me to make a clarification. My answer to your comment about Dawkins’ logical error can be found in comment #288.

    Well, no, that wasn’t a complaint about logical inconsistency. I suppose that you could say that they are the same thing, but technically it is category error, which even then is not a logical fallacy. And “to show that a category mistake has been committed one must typically show that once the phenomenon in question is properly understood, it becomes clear that the claim being made about it could not possibly be true”, which is why is why I asked. I’m not convinced that it is even possible to show that Dawkins committed category error, to be honest.

    Many people would agree with you that the existence of specific God’s can not be investigated scientifically — myself included — although we then venture in to the area of justified belief. But Dawkins was quite specific about the God that he did hope to show was highly improbable.

    There certainly are God’s that science has shown not to exist in all probability. And that’s the point — God means a different thing to almost every one on the planet.

    Anyway, I think that we would all agree that theologians have spent much of the last century redefining God as something that is totally untouchable by science. That is not the same God that many millions of people all over the world believe in, though, and that has been the point all along.

  372. #373 SC
    July 1, 2008

    I’m Jewish. What goes on inside Norfolk churches is not mine to judge. Neither is the way that other people practice their religion,

    If you mean by this to imply that for you as a Jew the beliefs and practices of real, existing Christianity are of no real concern, well, that is just jawdroppingly na´ve. Reading it, I was at first happy to see that there existed intellectual aeries somewhere in the world in which Jews could consider Christianity so abstractly. But then I remembered times in the past in which this was also the case…

  373. #374 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    Go study some Talmud, Nick
    Why should I read that particular load of crap, among the many, many loads of crap on offer?

    Would ‘ridiculous’ be any better? – Henry Gee
    No. It was wicked. I wonder why you can’t bring yourself to say so?

  374. #375 CosmicTeapot
    July 1, 2008

    Sorry, I was a bit vague when I said “Any god who can not be proved to exist, can not be worshipped”. What I meant was how can you worship a god you can not prove to exist, a god you can not interact with, one that does not interact with the universe. This outside science god. If you can’t prove it exists, that may be because it doesn’t. So it is pointless to try.

    The gods of the various religions (including the jewish god) allegedly interact with the world and should therefore be testable.

    Hope that is more clear.

    “Sure, but to blame religion for the acts of these people is to commit the same logical error as the person who damns the internet because some people use it to download child pornography. Sorry, wrong again.” I am gobsmacked. Why else did people fly into the twin towers? Youthful exuberance? Bloody kids, they get up to all sorts.

  375. #376 scooter
    July 1, 2008

    Mr Gee,
    thanks for joining the discussion, and I do happen to agree with much of what you are saying.

    There’s a few arguments I would raise.

    Christopher Hedges raises very similar arguments to yours, and insists that ‘New Atheists’ no nothing about serious Bible study, or christian scholarship, or theology. He then rattles off a series of writings from Augustine to Kierkegard to Tillich, and so on. Very stilted stuff.

    I have two responces

    1. If Christianity and Religion are so complicated you need a divinity degree to correctly interpret, what good is it?

    2. If Michio Kaku can explain the basics of string theory to a 13 year old in such a way that I can get a good grasp of the field, why are there no ‘adult theolgians’ that can explain anything in layman’s terms, since it is a proposed underlying foundation of EVERYTHING ? Where is the E=MC2 of theology? And why don’t yall simply admit you are deists and give up on the Christian Theological nonsense ?

    I recently asked an Ethiopian friend of mine how many people in his home country believe literally in the Adam and Eve creation myth. His response, “Every fucking one of them”

    These mythological Adult Christains must all ride unicorns, because they are very hard to find, even outside of the USA.

    -thanks
    - enjoying the debate and your responses

  376. #377 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    @ Damien – thanks for that interesting point. Something to ponder on, rather than send an instant response.

    @ SC – I’m not sure what your point is . Please would you clarify?

    @ Nick Gott – OK, the Iraq War was (and is) wicked. Also wasteful, misconceived and pointless. Happy now? The reason I ‘couldn’t bring myself’ to open that particular can of worms was because I fail to see what bearing at all it has on the present discussion.

    The Talmud is a load of crap? Well, what you know nothing about, I guess you can dismiss very easily. One can never argue with incapacity.

  377. #378 SC
    July 1, 2008

    and I take your point, andyo, that it’s hard to wrestle clouds.

    And the question is: Why on earth would you want to, much less attack others for not doing so? These issues are not relevant to science. But they’re also not necessary to inquiry about other fundamental human questions. We can discuss ethics (and I’ll again recommend to everyone Austin Dacey’s recent Point of Inquiry interview), politics, the meaning of the good life,…, without making any reference to god or associated religious claptrap. Indeed, theology poisons any such discussions.

    (By the way, someone should really introduce Dr. Gee to MPhil. I think they would get along swimmingly.)

  378. #379 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    The Talmud is a load of crap?
    Yes, arguing at interminable length about the real existence of a character in an ancient mythology, looking for ways to justify the appalling crimes committed or commanded by that character, and finding absurd ways around the absurd rules he supposedly imposed on you, can reasonably be described in that way.

  379. #380 SC
    July 1, 2008

    Dr. Gee,

    An illustration of my point:

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2008/04/what_benedict_hasnt_said_about.html

    Thanks to Patricia for raising the subject on another thread. More about the film – which has much to say about evangelism in the US as well – can be found here:

    http://constantinessword.com/

    (Soon I’m going to have to start charging Jacoby for all this free publicity.)

  380. #381 scooter
    July 1, 2008

    pcarni #334

    there are people that are as gung-ho for atheism as Tom Cruise is for Scientology.

    My homemade vocabulary refers to that as ‘religious behavior’.

    Marxists, Free-Market Capitalists, Freudians, American Jingoists, etc etc display a disturbing level of religious behavior.

    Hitchen’s subtitle ‘how religion poisons EVERYTHING’ is a sentiment displayed here at times. It’s a Black and White, it’s the belief in an underlying truth, that’s a religious behavior.

    I’m just a regular American Joe, but it became clear to me a long time ago that there is no unifying field theory for human behavior. All attempts at formulating one, then believing it, are religious behaviors.

    You don’t have to be a God-sucker to behave like one.

  381. #382 scooter
    July 1, 2008

    Gee said :

    “Sure, you’ll love it. You might even get a few tips.”

    OOOOOUCH!!
    excellent punchline

  382. #383 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    @ Lee Brimmicombe-Wood: you’re right. I don’t much like Dawkins, or at least, his pronouncements (the one occasion I met him he was pleasant and polite, and, if anything, rather shy). But that’s quite different from what I think about his books. His science books are brilliant and I’d recommend them to anyone. But when he starts confusing science with religion I think he’s lost the plot. Just my opinion.

    @ Sc – why would one want to wrestle clouds? Because it is interesting, occasionally insightful even. And cloud-wrestling has nothing whatsoever to do with science.

    @ Nick Gotts. The Talmud is a load of crap?
    Yes, arguing at interminable length about the real existence of a character in an ancient mythology, looking for ways to justify the appalling crimes committed or commanded by that character, and finding absurd ways around the absurd rules he supposedly imposed on you, can reasonably be described in that way.
    . There, you’ve just proved my point. How anyone can be so vehement ion a subject about which they know precisely zero seems somewhat bigoted to me. But hey, what do I know?

    Henry, everything you say appears to suggest you regard religion as something that happens in a far off land to other people. You also appear to be projecting your faith experience onto others. As a survivor of the supposedly benign C of E (as Dawkins was) I’d suggest the danger of religion is far more clear and present that you may credit it.

    Au contraire. Religion is deeply important and lethally dangerous. My mother was a survivor of the Holocaust. I’ve never lived in the Bible Belt, but until recently I lived in the Koran Belt of east London, where you only admitted to being Jewish if you really meant it, and you didn’t show any outward sign of your faith for fear of getting beaten up by gangs of Moslems or fascist skinheads or being abused by the stop-the-war brigade. To have ‘survived’ the C of E is nothing much, a bit like surviving being hit in the face with a lettuce.

  383. #384 windy
    July 1, 2008

    Dr. Gee: why do you attack the commenters here as “trollish” etc. when PZ respects “moderate” theologians and “nuance” as little as most of us? Why don’t you debate him on it?

    From your little Harry Potter story:

    “world domination continues to elude me”
    “piercing blue eyes which, despite their prominence, seemed to be devoid of humanity”
    “It’s as if the My-Parents-Don’t-Understand-Me generation has grown up, anxious for a new rallying call, a new figurehead. These people have never had sex, and they wouldn’t understand a good meal if you shoved it under their snouts.”
    “re-reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and highlighting memorable passages of Mein Kampf”

    Bloody hell, man, being such a huge fan of nuance you could have tried applying some yourself! Instead you took a page out of the Expelled! playbook.

    And what would you consider nuanced, adult theology? This? Ninety-five per cent of Britons are heading for hell, according to the principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

    Or the Catholic debate on limbo, perhaps?

    (an old story, I know, but there are a few doozies:
    Like hypotheses in any branch of science, a theological hypothesis can be proven wrong or be set aside when it is clear it does not help explain Catholic faith. or
    “If Christ had not risen from the dead, we never would have thought of original sin,” because no one would have needed to explain why absolutely every human needed Christ’s salvation. (!!!)

  384. #385 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    There, you’ve just proved my point. – Henry Gee

    You have not given, and evidently cannot give, any reason why I or anyone else should be interested in debates about the minutiae of Jewish law (the absurd rules I referred to – for an example of the absurd ways round them, consider the eruv), all of which have to trace back to a book of stories about a thoroughly unpleasant mythological character and supposed lawgiver. Unless of course, we are specifically interested in the history of Jewish law, which, as it happens, I’m not. Nor have you given, and evidently cannot give, any content to your repeated assertions that theology should be taken seriously as an intellectual endeavour.

  385. #386 scooter
    July 1, 2008

    Nick said:

    Go study some Talmud, Nick,

    Why should I read that particular load of crap, among the many, many loads of crap on offer?

    Actually the Talmud is somewhat important because it contains a lot of history not otherwise recorded, it’s real old.

  386. #387 SC
    July 1, 2008

    @ Sc – why would one want to wrestle clouds? Because it is interesting, occasionally insightful even. And cloud-wrestling has nothing whatsoever to do with science.

    If you want to concede that the reason you are drawn to abstruse theological debate is a personal proclivity, then great. You’re just that kind of gal (might I use ‘gal’?). But you shouldn’t expect others to share your interest in these futile exercises in abstraction, particularly when the same logical and critical-thinking skills can be so much more fruitfully applied elsewhere. I also question whether it is in fact “insightful.” Neither you nor anyone else coming here to complain that others only pluck the “low-hanging fruit” of theology have offered any of the supposedly juicier fruit from the higher branches. And I never said it had anything to do with science; in fact, I said it was irrelevant to science (as an introduction to my larger point about its irrelevance to all other important realms of human inquiry – i.e., “It’s not only irrelevant to science, but also to…”)

    Religion is deeply important and lethally dangerous.

    I’m pleased to hear that you do realize this, although it makes some of your earlier comments most puzzling.

  387. #388 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    scooter@386,
    Well, depends what you mean by “real old”. The oldest parts (the Mishnah) date to about 200 C.E., while the Gemara (which is often referred to as “the Talmud”) is some centuries later, and as I understand it there is controversy as to when the currently available texts were completed. I can well believe both are important source documents for some historical purposes, but I do not have the necessary expertise to extract the nuggets of historical interest from the dross of religio-legal hair-splitting. As to the idea that arguments which start by assuming the status of the Torah as a holy text could have any relevance to rational philosophical debate – it’s simply absurd, and Gee has given no justification whatever for asserting it. I suspect his original injunction to study it was simply another instance of the ludicrous pomposity and self-importance he has displayed since his first comment.

  388. #389 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    Nick Gott – I am not asking you to be interested in the Talmud. I am commenting on your tendency to be extremely rude about something you know nothing about, that’s all, as evidenced by your various misperceptions about it. But if you want to keep on digging, don’t let me stop you.

    Sc – similarly, I am not expecting anyone to be interested in my … er … proclivities. My proclivities are my business. I am not trying to convert anyone, either. I’d just like to do what I do, on my own, without feeling that the existence of my way of thought (or my choice to exercise it) or that of my fellow co-religionists is being threatened by a lot of (what I consider to be) rabble-rousing demagoguery, especially one that assumes the moral high ground by borrowing the robes of science — a discipline which works, as you well know, by adoptuing a certain humility before the evidence.

    Nor have you given, and evidently cannot give, any content to your repeated assertions that theology should be taken seriously as an intellectual endeavour.

    Because it’s interesting. Got that?

  389. #390 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    Nick Gott – I am not asking you to be interested in the Talmud. I am commenting on your tendency to be rude about something you know little about. But if you want to keep on digging, don’t let me stop you.

    Sc – similarly, I am not expecting anyone to be interested in my … er … proclivities. My proclivities are my business. I am not trying to convert anyone, either. I’d just like to do what I do, on my own, without feeling that the existence of my way of thought (or my choice to exercise it) or that of my fellow co-religionists is being threatened by a lot of (what I consider to be) rabble-rousing demagoguery, especially one that assumes the moral high ground by borrowing the robes of science — a discipline which works, as you well know, by adoptuing a certain humility before the evidence.

    Nor have you given, and evidently cannot give, any content to your repeated assertions that theology should be taken seriously as an intellectual endeavour.

    Because it’s interesting. Got that?

  390. #391 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    Nick,

    You have forgotten the most important part of the theists’ argument, which is “because”. That is what I have found their arguments come down to in the end. They believe becauase. That seems to be what they think constitute a sound reason for belief. Just because.

  391. #392 SC
    July 1, 2008

    a certain humility before the evidence

    Precisely.

  392. #393 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    Henry Ge,

    I see you really do have no answers as to:
    1) Why the Talmud is of any philosophical relevance.
    2) Why theology should be taken seriously as an intellectual endeavour. A lot of people find crosswords interesting – that doesn’t make them of any intellectual importance.

  393. #394 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    I see little Henry Gee is complaining about people being rude. Of course referring to Richard Dawkins as Dickie D was not being rude was it Henry ? Being a hypocrite does not seems to be something that worries you much.

    Tell me Henry, have you always been an insuffrable arsehole or have you had to work at it ? Me, I go for working at it. You may have a natural talent for being an arsehole but no one gets as good as you without lots of practice.

  394. #395 negentropyeater
    July 1, 2008

    Sir, I see that you have chosen to carefully elude my questions in post #359 and post #369, so I’ll just repeat them to you, in case you’ve missed them :

    -You are still not making any serious argument why a book that would have been written for you as the target market would have been more useful ?

    -So you keep talking of your ancestors as if they were representative of what is happening in the United States, but why ?

  395. #396 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 1, 2008

    To have ‘survived’ the C of E is nothing much, a bit like surviving being hit in the face with a lettuce.

    Henry, for you to take others to task over their lack of knowledge of the Talmud and then to state something like this only merits the response of the pot to the kettle. Either be careful of pronouncing on something of which you know little, or permit others the latitude that you give yourself.

  396. #397 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    Being religious becuase the Talmud has philosophical relavence makes as much sense as being marxist becuase you happen to think Das Kapital is also of philosophical relavence. Some people may be marxists for that reason, however most people who think Das Kapital cannot be ignored as unimportant are not.

  397. #398 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    That seems to be what they think constitute a sound reason for belief. Just because.

    That’s good enough for me. It’s called ‘faith’.

    I see little Henry Gee.

    No you don’t. If you did, I expect I’d be bigger than you are. Not so tough now, are we?

    Dickie D
    Ask PZ to give you the link to that famous youtube video, would you?

    @ negentropyeater – I haven’t ‘carefully eluded’ anything. I’s jut hard to keep up with the comments, so I might have mmissed some. I’m sorry about that.

    In answer to your questions

    You are still not making any serious argument why a book that would have been written for you as the target market would have been more useful ?

    I don’t think I said anything about me being the target market, did I? I just said that for me, the book was unsatisying, because (for me) it was deeply flawed, in a way that Dawkins’ other books aren’t.

    So you keep talking of your ancestors as if they were representative of what is happening in the United States, but why ?

    I don’t believe I said any such thing.

  398. #399 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    “That’s good enough for me. It’s called ‘faith’.”

    Yeah, and I see that as a failing. You seem to think it is a virtue. Tell me, would you consider belief in fairies to be worthy of the same respect you think religion should have ?

  399. #400 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008
    That seems to be what they think constitute a sound reason for belief. Just because.

    That’s good enough for me. It’s called ‘faith’. – Henry Gee

    Or stubborn irrationality and fathomless stupidity.

  400. #401 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    If we are supposed to respect beliefs based on faith, does that mean if someone holds deeply unpleasent racist, anti-semitic,sexist or homophobic beliefs as a matter of faith rather than reason that we should respect those beliefs ? The idea that faith is deserving of respect is pathetic. Since it is a matter of faith, and evidence is not considered relevent it really is a case of anything goes. Faith can be used to justify anything.

  401. #402 SC
    July 1, 2008

    faith = belief without evidence = superstition

  402. #403 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    Faith can be used to justify anything. – Matt Penfold.

    And very often is. Notably, of course, anti-semitism. In this regard, it is truly astounding that Henry Gee is in a tizzy about “demagogic” atheism, and apparently not concerned about Christian fundamentalism.

  403. #404 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    “And very often is. Notably, of course, anti-semitism. In this regard, it is truly astounding that Henry Gee is in a tizzy about “demagogic” atheism, and apparently not concerned about Christian fundamentalism.”

    And since many of those fundamentalists will believe what they believe as a matter of faith Gee would have us respect those beliefs. What is more he would have it that no arguments could be made against those beliefs since they are based on faith, and not reason.

  404. #405 spurge
    July 1, 2008

    @Matt

    You forget that Henry has given religion a get out of jail free card.

    We are not allowed to blame religion for people who do bad things in the name of religion.

  405. #406 negentropyeater
    July 1, 2008

    I don’t think I said anything about me being the target market, did I?

    Of course you did, you consider that only a book that would be satisfying to you could be valuable and therefore useful.

    I don’t believe I said any such thing

    Of course you did, what does this mean :
    your own comment #288

    Of course, one might argue that the existence of God as a bloke with a beard and a nightie sitting on a cloud, who answers one’s every personal prayer, can be couched as a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified. Of course – that’s easy.
    But that’s the kind of theology that people teach to children. It bears little relationship to what adult theologians think, or to the conception that most intelligent adults have about God – in the same way that most of the science that gets taught to small children doesn’t have much relationship to the real thing as practiced by scientists.

    and this one #362

    And, yes, there is a problem in the US about the millions of Americans who do believe in this kind of primitive faith (one that my ancestors abandoned about 2000 years ago as practically and politically unworkable, but which Dickie just harps on about in The Dog Illusion, as if bugger all has happened since).

    Isn’t it clear from these two comments that you seem to consider the kind of tolerant, subtle, nuanced, understated, decent, revisionist, religion from sophisticated theologians and from your own ancestors as being the dominant one ? Whereas in actual fact Dawkins is absolutely correct and it is numerically negligible in the world. Dawkins actually admits in his preface that if the former had been the dominant one, he would have written a different book, but you still criticize him and accuse him unjustly of being a demaguogue !

  406. #407 SC
    July 1, 2008

    I’d just like to do what I do, on my own, without feeling that the existence of my way of thought (or my choice to exercise it) or that of my fellow co-religionists is being threatened by a lot of (what I consider to be) rabble-rousing demagoguery

    I fail to see how your ability to wankificate on recondite theological nonmatters is threatened in the slightest by Dawkins’ book.

  407. #408 Matt Penfold
    July 1, 2008

    Since Henry Gee’s god cannot intervene in anyway with the world, and if they ever have done it could only have been to set the initial conditions for the universe, what is the point ? He has explicity stated that god and his actions are not testable, and therefore cannot have any material effect. What does belief in such a god offer ? And how does his god differ from Einstein’s god, which Dawkins specifically states he has no problem with ? I suppose such a god could make a person feel better, but then vodka or chocolate can do that.

  408. #409 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 1, 2008

    Compare:

    Well, what you know nothing about, I guess you can dismiss very easily.

    With:

    To have ‘survived’ the C of E is nothing much, a bit like surviving being hit in the face with a lettuce.

    I guess the latter proves the former, eh Henry?

  409. #410 Jesus, called Christ
    July 1, 2008

    truly, I do wonder, sometimes, if Jesus wants me for a tapeworm

    And my clear and unambiguous answer is “Absolutely not!”

    Of all of the silly ideas that theologians have come up with, the doctrine of the Eucharist is one of the more personally embarrassing ones.

  410. #411 Rey Fox
    July 1, 2008

    People who have gotten their feathers ruffled by Dawkins and the other Horsemen seem to bandy about this equivalence between vocal atheists and actual religious fundamentalists (who are never really specified beyond that, so perhaps I should assume include not only the 700 Club, but the Muslim jihad groups as well), but I have never seen it.

  411. #412 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Neither is the way that other people practice their religion, even if their religion is no religion at all. But if the way that religion is being practiced is full of cruelty, prejudice and illogic, why should Dawkins stoop to that level? As I say, I expected better from Dawkins. I felt I deserved better. I daresay you deserved better.

    Don’t deign to speak for me, you projecting little twit.
    You have yet to support ONE thing you have contended for GD.

    I do wonder if you actually even read the damn book, considering you appear to think that Dawkins ONLY rails on the “lowest common denominator”. Anyone who read the book without projecting their own nonsense on to it can clearly see he rails on ALL representatives of religion, the lowest common denominator because of the social and political damage done, and the “theologians” for their typically poorly conceived of arguments that indeed are nothing but sophistry.

    Your repeated mischaracterizations of the book at best only serve to support the idea you wish he had written a different book, they hardly to ANYTHING to logically critique the book that was written.

    Your evasions on the issue are patently absurd, and STILL amount to nothing but a courtier’s reply. You easily could at least TRY to support your contentions via the book itself, but fail to do so.

    Frankly, over the years, while I have always enjoyed Dawkins’ writing style, I have found many of Dawkins’ books on SCIENTIFIC theory to contain some rather egregious errors at times, and I typically recommend them only to undergrads to get them to start thinking about the theories involved. You giving praise to those while trashing the other does indeed sound rather disingenuous, considering you are an actual part-time editor of Nature, and have a doctorate in zoology.

    As for the Talmud, I have an old buddy (Jewish) who studied the Talmud professionally for over 30 years, before becoming an atheist. I’m sure he would tell you the same thing I’m about to:

    It’s fucking irrelevant to this discussion, and again, is nothing but a courtier’s reply.

    seriously, it’s quite pathetic to find someone at this point claiming the “intellectual high ground” wrt to the debate over religion who does nothing but refer to “better arguments” that they themselves appear unable to make.

    As to the “arguments” of your supposed theologians, have you even bothered to investigate the fact that many professional theologians have suggested over the last decade or so, that theology itself is a dead-end philosophy, and should be scrapped as a field of study?

    I’d bet not, which is why you ignored the reference to Hector Avalos.

    Based on your posts here, I conclude you’re a disingenuous hack, until you can prove otherwise.

    I feel sorry for you, and ashamed at PZ for suggesting you had something of substance to contribute.

    Thanks for wasting everyone’s time, doc. I weep for the future of science journalism if this is indicative of the quality of your editorial commentary.

    I would not only spit in your pint, I’d damn well dump it right on your head.

    I daresay WE deserved better from YOU.

  412. #413 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    … oh, btw, you really should drop the “Dog Illusion” thing.

    it isn’t clever, as I find mostly the teenage religious morons using it to insult Dawkins.

    but then, maybe that’s what you were going for here, representing yourself at the level of a teenage moron?

  413. #414 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    truly, I do wonder, sometimes, if Jesus wants me for a tapeworm

    don’t be ridiculous.

    tapeworms want you for themselves.

    …and at least they’re real, and I can easily prove their existence without resort to sophistry.

  414. #415 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    I’ll ignore all the invective, the insults and demands to say things I’ve already said (I’m accustomed to such things after long usgae), and concentrate on just one thing.

    If we are supposed to respect beliefs based on faith, does that mean if someone holds deeply unpleasent racist, anti-semitic,sexist or homophobic beliefs as a matter of faith rather than reason that we should respect those beliefs ? The idea that faith is deserving of respect is pathetic

    I have said absolutely nothing about respect, only for the chance to be left alone to do what I do without being proselytized at by a lot of people who seem intent on destroying my religion and my way of life, and worse, for these people to think that their view is in any way desirable, let alone rational.

    I am not asking to be liked, I am not asking that people join in … I am asking to be accorded the choice that is the privilege of all civilized societies to be allowed to practice their beliefs without molestation or being vilified for what they do, irrespective of how rational they think it.

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch, as did the people who killed my grandparents and my two aunts — one a toddler, I have recently discovered, the other a babe in arms, and then recycled them as soap and lampshades, and presumably deserving of no better fate.

    It is not insignificant, to me, in this contxt, that Dawkins has associated himself prominently with academic movements to delegitimize the state of Israel, to further ancient myths about the Jewish lobby, and combined with what one has called here ‘a call to arms’ I can only interpret this a physical threat, whether Dawkins intended this or not. I shall no more on this but to offer this link

    http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2007/10/dawkins-on-the-.html

    and also this one

    http://www.thejc.com/Home.aspx?ParentId=m12s32s35&AId=56011&ATypeId=1&secid=35&prev=true

    and also links Engage, a site that tracks antisemitism among British academia and Left-wing intelligentsia.

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/search.php?search=Dawkins

    Now, back to this ‘respect’ thing. I am sometimes told by atheists that they ‘respect’ me but not my religious beliefs, and expect me to be happy with that curious point of view. My response is usually to say that if they disrespect my religion, then, surely, that disrespect must take some concrete form – defacing stones in cemeteries, perhaps? Or torching synagogues? If not, then this disrespect is simply empty posturing. The atheist usually then gets rather cross, which suggests I have touched a nerve.

    I predict that in five or ten years time, thanks to Dawkins and others, then scientists who profess any kind of religious belief will find it hard to get tenure, and then jobs, and then papers published, and finally their employers, responding to pressure, will be forced to fire them or retire them early. It will start with the Jews, of course, because these things usually do, as they have done many times in the past.

  415. #416 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    It is not insignificant, to me, in this contxt, that Dawkins has associated himself prominently with academic movements to delegitimize the state of Israel

    ahh, now we get to the real issue.

    show us how that relates to the veracity of Dawkins’ arguments in GD themselves, rather than projecting your distaste instead, and you will have begun the road to recovery. Frankly, I don’t think you can, or have ever even really tried.

    It will start with the Jews, of course, because these things usually do, as they have done many times in the past.

    pathetic.

    will you start quoting Martin Niem÷ller now?

    Not only have you failed to present any supported arguments, you are bloody paranoid, too.

    Here’s the future I envision for you:

    Your slowing actual legitimate literary contributions and failing book sales will be blamed on a conspiracy against religious apologists.

    You will end up continuing to blame Dawkins for your own failings, and eventually the dissonance will get so bad you will entirely lose your mind.

    good luck with that.

  416. #417 windy
    July 1, 2008

    I wrote in #384:

    Dr. Gee: why do you attack the commenters here as “trollish” etc. when PZ respects “moderate” theologians and “nuance” as little as most of us? Why don’t you debate him on it?

    As it happens, PZ now has a post criticising one of those more sophisticated believers attempting a reconciliation of science and religion. Why don’t you go find the logical errors in his post. Unless you prefer to go after the ‘low-hanging fruit’ (no offense to Nick and Matt)

  417. #418 PZ Myers
    July 1, 2008

    Now, back to this ‘respect’ thing. I am sometimes told by atheists that they ‘respect’ me but not my religious beliefs, and expect me to be happy with that curious point of view. My response is usually to say that if they disrespect my religion, then, surely, that disrespect must take some concrete form – defacing stones in cemeteries, perhaps? Or torching synagogues? If not, then this disrespect is simply empty posturing. The atheist usually then gets rather cross, which suggests I have touched a nerve.

    Well, no. The atheist is making an intellectual argument about finding your ideas silly, and you’re trying to turn it around by suggesting that he wants to paint swastikas on your grandparents’ tombstones. He’s getting rather cross because your response is to suggest that the only way he can disagree with you is if he’s a nazi, which is a rather dirty rhetorical game to play.

    I predict that in five or ten years time, thanks to Dawkins and others, then scientists who profess any kind of religious belief will find it hard to get tenure, and then jobs, and then papers published, and finally their employers, responding to pressure, will be forced to fire them or retire them early. It will start with the Jews, of course, because these things usually do, as they have done many times in the past.

    That’s an extraordinarily paranoiac claim. I predict no such thing will occur in America or Europe, at least — I see no sign of it in any of the job interviews I’ve done, and you know that I rival Dawkins in my militancy. I’ll make you a deal, though: if it transpires that there is such a pattern of overt hostility to Jews in western universities by, say, 2015, I’ll let you pick the university to target and I’ll pay the airfare to fly there, and we’ll storm the administration building, shoulder to shoulder, in protest. We can get arrested together! Won’t that be fun?

  418. #419 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Now, back to this ‘respect’ thing. I am sometimes told by atheists that they ‘respect’ me but not my religious beliefs, and expect me to be happy with that curious point of view.

    It’s hardly curious, or unique, and the only reason you think so is because you project your religious beliefs onto everything you interact with, including those you think you are debating with.

    Think for just a second…

    if it were ANY other concept, would the logic you find “curious” still be so? Would you find it “curious” that many people disagreed with Gould about punc eq?

    no, it wouldn’t.

    take a look at yourself, before it’s too late, and you end up resembling the likes of Michael Behe, or Michael Egnor, Bill Dembski, etc., etc….

    Do you want to start seriously considering a future with the Discovery Institute?

  419. #420 Owlmirror
    July 1, 2008

    I’ve been a follower of science-fiction and fantasy discussion fora for quite some time, and I’ve noticed that there’s something that fans who are deeply (or even shallowly) committed to some show or books or series do: They try and explain away inconsistencies; they speculate on the hidden motivations of various characters; they try and extrapolate what some particularly favored character might do in some situation, or they try and create a backstory to explain something that’s never explained in the series. Or they try and do crossovers and conflations with other stories and series that they like. It’s fun, as long as you don’t take it too seriously. And most fans are aware that they’re just playing around with an imagined scenario.

    And it strikes me that that is a lot like what most of the Talmud is. Like fans everywhere, some of the contributors take it more seriously than others, and unlike most fans, most of the contributors to the Talmud thought of the source material as being “true”. And then they took their imagined scenarios, and used them to define the rituals and customs that they were supposed to follow.

    So there’s the vast bulk of the Talmud for you: several hundred years of collected and accreted fanwank. With an interesting historical and anthropological perspective, perhaps, and the occasional good insight or interesting philosophical or ethical perspective.

    But there are good ideas in modern blog comments, too.

    Speaking of Avalos, I noticed that he used the Talmudic term “kol wahoma” ((?? ?????), more usually transliterated as “kal va-chomer”; “kal vahomer”) to refer to a fortiori arguments in Fighting Words, which is amusingly ironic.

  420. #421 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    PZ gets a stern look for even suggesting that Gee had something new and substantive to contribute to the debate over religious apologetics, or even Richard Dawkins.

    …or did you secretly plan to set up Gee as a perfect example of the Courtier’s reply?

  421. #422 Longtime Lurker
    July 1, 2008

    Regarding Henry:

    “I have said absolutely nothing about respect, only for the chance to be left alone to do what I do without being proselytized at by a lot of people who seem intent on destroying my religion and my way of life, and worse, for these people to think that their view is in any way desirable, let alone rational.”

    Dr Gee, most of the posters on this blog (myself included) are Americans who have seen their country hijacked by right-wing ideologues who use religion as a cudgel to use any any who reject their authoritarian world-view. The language sometimes gets heated, but you will notice that it rarely involves the eliminationationist rhetoric so common to right-wingers. Being called an “asshat” is nothing like having one’s house torched.

    My advice (the same given to Gordy Slack) is to develop a thicker skin, visit with some more frequency, and start posting on the science threads so you can familiarize yourself with the style of posting in a less controversial arena. You will most likely find yourself welcome as a valued commenter.

    Finally, you have my condolences for your family’s suffering, but be aware that, at least in the States, atheists as well as Jews would have a target on their backs should the country fall into fascism.

  422. #423 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Regarding Henry:

    good movie…

    Harrison Ford, right?

  423. #424 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    I am asking to be accorded the choice that is the privilege of all civilized societies to be allowed to practice their beliefs without molestation or being vilified for what they do, irrespective of how rational they think it.
    Atheists are not molesting or vilifying you – at least you have provided no evidence they are. Yes, most of the atheists who frequent this blog think religion is false and harmful, and express that view freely. It appears to be you, not us, who is intolerant. You are free to vilify atheism as much as you like, as indeed you have been doing here, yet you are quite ready to use moral blackmail in an attempt to stop us expressing our views.

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch, as did the people who killed my grandparents and my two aunts — one a toddler, I have recently discovered, the other a babe in arms, and then recycled them as soap and lampshades, and presumably deserving of no better fate.
    This is utterly disgusting – both that you should make this accusation without a shred of evidence, and that you should exploit the memory of members of your family who were victims of the holocaust in your attempt at moral blackmail.

    I am sometimes told by atheists that they ‘respect’ me but not my religious beliefs, and expect me to be happy with that curious point of view. My response is usually to say that if they disrespect my religion, then, surely, that disrespect must take some concrete form – defacing stones in cemeteries, perhaps?
    I respect your religion no less – and no more – than I respect Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism or Scientology. They are all, equally, ludicrous. I do not attack either the members of these religions, their sacred sites, or their cemeteries, and to suggest that I would do so is highly offensive.

    With regard to Dawkins comment on “the Jewish lobby” and US foreign policy, I would certainly not have used those words, and consider you have reasonable grounds for objecting to them. You would have done better to be honest about the reasons for your dislike of Dawkins and his book from your first comment.

  424. #425 spurge
    July 1, 2008

    “Harrison Ford, right?”

    Yep Harrison Ford

    Asshole gets shot and becomes nice.

    I love your posts Ichthyic.

    You write the way I would like to.

  425. #426 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    I’ll make you a deal, though: if it transpires that there is such a pattern of overt hostility to Jews in western universities by, say, 2015, I’ll let you pick the university to target and I’ll pay the airfare to fly there, and we’ll storm the administration building, shoulder to shoulder, in protest. We can get arrested together! Won’t that be fun?

    I appreciate your coming to my rescue, PZ, and as much as we can imagine being revolutionaries together, the choice of the word ‘fun’ is, I think, tasteless. I was being serious.

    Icthyic, if you think I have a future with the Discovery Institute, then you’re a fool

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/the_crazy_billboard_lady_is_ba.php

    and, what’s more, a fool with no moral courage whatsoever

  426. #427 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    … and, what’s more, a fool with no moral courage whatsoever. Because whereas you know perfectly well who I am, you hide yourself behind a handle, without even the balls to come out into the open.

  427. #428 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    I appreciate your coming to my rescue, PZ,

    Is THAT what you call it. funny, seems to me he recognized your rising level of paranoia for what it was, and called you on it.

    and as much as we can imagine being revolutionaries together, the choice of the word ‘fun’ is, I think, tasteless. I was being serious.

    who can tell with you, Mr. “Dog Illusion”.

    and, what’s more, a fool with no moral courage whatsoever

    ROFLMAO.

    more projection on your part.

    It’s your logic that will lead you to a place with little alternative BUT to spend the rest of your career with “think tanks” like the Disco Tute.

    not your specific ideology.

    Just ask Guillermo Gonzales.

    … and, what’s more, a fool with no moral courage whatsoever. Because whereas you know perfectly well who I am, you hide yourself behind a handle, without even the balls to come out into the open.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/pseudonymity_anonymity.php

    you need to get out more.

  428. #429 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch, as did the people who killed my grandparents and my two aunts … [snipped] This is utterly disgusting – both that you should make this accusation without a shred of evidence, and that you should exploit the memory of members of your family who were victims of the holocaust in your attempt at moral blackmail.

    Yes, Nick Gotts, it is fucking disgusting. Disgusting as hell, that people can and still do commit such atrocities. It is a scar on me and my family and will be forever, and shows that being a Jew has consequences. One does not adopt one’s religion as a kind of fashion accessory, or as a point of view to be pilloried in a forum such as this where people run no greater risk than a bruised ego.

  429. #430 Carlie
    July 1, 2008

    I have said absolutely nothing about respect, only for the chance to be left alone to do what I do without being proselytized at by a lot of people who seem intent on destroying my religion and my way of life, and worse, for these people to think that their view is in any way desirable, let alone rational.

    As Longtime Lurker just mentioned, you are aware that you have just perfectly described fundamentalists in America, right? Yes, a lot of people here have very heated views on the subject. They live in places where at the least having a Darwin fish on the bumper means getting their car keyed and their tires slashed on a regular basis. They live in places where public school teachers have to sign morality contracts not to ever buy alcohol within city limits, where teenagers get detention for wearing anti-god t-shirts, where they get entirely shunned in the community for not being able to answer “So where do you go to church?” satisfactorily, where uninsured women don’t have a Planned Parenthood to go to for cheap Pap smears and birth control because the picketers and local political machine have run them out of town. I am not exaggerating. The reason people who post here are so vehemently anti-religion is, in many cases, because religion is in actuality harming their lives. Yes, that makes for a lot of backlash, which may be more strident than what you’re used to seeing. We have a bigger animal to fight.

  430. #431 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Yes, Nick Gotts, it is fucking disgusting. Disgusting as hell, that people can and still do commit such atrocities

    applied not just to your side of thinking, either.

    again, do try and migrate outside of your little box.

    One does not adopt one’s religion as a kind of fashion accessory

    says who?

    Have you ever read the book:

    Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

    http://www.amazon.com/Cutting-Spiritual-Materialism-Shambhala-Editions/dp/0877730504

  431. #432 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    …oh, and as an addendum in response to:

    One does not adopt one’s religion as a kind of fashion accessory

    indeed, while it CAN be adopted as social accessory, it often instead is FORCED on children by their parents and peers, which often coincides with exactly the kind of anti-science sentiment we see so often in the US:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/316/5827/996

    or is it that you somehow think your fictitious deity chose you personally to be a Jew?

    The primary difference between Judaism and xianity, and the reason there are so many more cults sects of xianity than Judaism, is only because xians appear focused on beliefs, while Jews appear focused on actions. Which is also why it is far more common for Jewish leaning scientists not to have a conflict with science. Also the reason why your proclamations that academic Jews will be Expelled is not based on any sound reasoning, but appears to be little more than rampant paranoia.

    If you get wrapped up in talmudic dogma, you are no different than any xian, and your arguments will reflect it.

  432. #433 CJO
    July 1, 2008

    Gee,

    Given the fact that Judaism is practically the only major religion left in the world that is as closely tied to an ethnic heritage as it is, I find it reprehensible that you should equate disrespect for ideas or beliefs with antisemitism. It’s a self-serving, intellectually dishonest ploy, and Nick’s term “moral blackmail” has it just right. I genuinely think you should look a little more closely at your own store of moral courage before impugning that of others. There’s absolutely no point in arguing with somebody who has a holocaust bunker to hide in when the going gets tough, and who clearly will emerge from every conflict he ever has in his life either the victor or a victim in his own mind. Sometimes you’re just wrong, and the terrible evil visited on your family and your people just has fuck-all to do with it.

    Argue your point, and leave the appeals to sympathy and your cowardly hiding behind the holocaust out of it. It’s sickening.

  433. #434 Owlmirror
    July 1, 2008

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch,

    Oy gevalt. Where did this come from? Who has made any such accusation here in this forum against you in particular, or against Jews in general?

    If you think Ichthyic is singling you out somehow, believe me, he’s not — I’ve seen him slag off a Christian with the exact same vigor.

    Can we please get back to the substantive arguments? If there are any?

  434. #435 windy
    July 1, 2008

    Aaand Henry Gee officially jumped the shark in #415.

    BTW, how do you reconcile this:

    the choice of the word ‘fun’ is, I think, tasteless

    with this:

    I thought the invasion of Iraq was silly.

    That’s funny – I thought it was wicked.

    Just my typical Olde Worlde Englishe Understatemente. Would ‘ridiculous’ be any better?

  435. #436 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    It seems we are talking about different things.

    The situation in America is rather different from that in the UK. Christian religious fundamentalism, which would attack atheists and (if replacement theologians) Jews alike, is of almost zero importance here in the UK, which is, as a rule, a surprisingly tolerant place.

    But there is an unpleasant alliance here between Islamic fundamentalism and the extreme Left. Nick Gotts mentioned the Iraq war, and this is curiously relevant. Jewish friends of mine went to march against the war but were vilified by other marchers who sought to equate Iraq with Palestine.

    During the period in which the war was most heated, the rise in antisemitic attacks — physical attacks on people and Jewish property — increased. And then in plops Dawkins with his odd comments about Jews, at the same time that Jewish students on university campuses were being advised to conceal their religious identitues in case they were attacked — while their teachers launched into hysterical tirades against Israel, and otherwise moderate Left-wing opinion formers now think it’s okay to crack jokes about Jews controlling the world or whatever.

    Thankfully it’s died down now. For the moment. As someone said, antisemitism sleeps but lightly. So, no, I don’t think I’m being paranoid. People really are out to get me.

    Perhaps this seems strange to US ears. Certainly, American Jewish friends profess shock at the antisemitism that is rife in Britain.

  436. #437 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Can we please get back to the substantive arguments? If there are any?

    get BACK to?

    the answer is obvious:
    Gee has nothing but projection masquerading as an argument.

    Early on, I asked him to used GD itself to support his contentions and conclusions about it, but even with you posting direct links to chapter one, he refused to do so, instead choosing to piss and moan about someone deriding his book sales figures.

    sarcasm

    There appears nothing left to do but grind our jack-boot heels into the stain he left on the ground.

    /sarcasm

  437. #438 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    Given the fact that Judaism is practically the only major religion left in the world that is as closely tied to an ethnic heritage as it is, I find it reprehensible that you should equate disrespect for ideas or beliefs with antisemitism

    Can I help being born a Jew? My parents are atheists, and with good reason, but they can’t help it either. And did they wish for the Holocaust to happen. Oh, boy, if you think that a ‘Holocaust bunker’ is a nice thing to have… frankly, I’d rather have my family.

  438. #439 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    The situation in America is rather different from that in the UK.

    irrelevant to the points you were making, or trying to make, though.

    btw…

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/27/id_blighty/

  439. #440 Owlmirror
    July 1, 2008

    By an odd coincidence, I was looking at some pictures of Mea Shearim in Flickr.

    Huh.

    http://flickr.com/photos/gringoil/668684203/

    http://flickr.com/photos/velvetart/128335151/

  440. #441 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Can I help being born a Jew?

    irrelevant to the point, yet again.

    like I mentioned before, I have a 75 year old buddy who is an atheist Jew.

    His kids are also atheists.

    They still consider themselves Jewish.

  441. #442 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    By an odd coincidence, I was looking at some pictures of Mea Shearim in Flickr.

    perfect.

  442. #443 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    sarcasm

    There appears nothing left to do but grind our jack-boot heels into the stain he left on the ground.

    /sarcasm

    Words fail me. No, they don’t. You are an ignorant coward, and these remarks reveal a great deal about the way you treat people who think differently from the way you do.

    I’ve read GD. I’ve told you what I thought about it. Repeatedly.

    But you keep going round in circles. My book sales figures have nothing to do with it. I’ve also said THAT repeatedly.

    GD says some very tired things about the cruelty of the ‘Jewish’ god ‘Yahweh’. Well, if Dawkins had done any research at all, he’d find that most Jews who’ve thought about the matter (and indeed, have done so back to the days of Maimonides) think about Yahweh in very much the same way that he does. But he didn’t, and so the picture he paints of Judaism is of a lot of unreconstructed bronze-age hicks, indulging in what someone here called a ‘wankfest’. And that’s the picture you buy into, thus justifying and inflating your prior prejudices.

  443. #444 Henry Gee
    July 1, 2008

    The ‘odd coincidence’ of posting pictures of Mea Shearim just proves the point I’ve made above. That’s the caricature Judaism that Dawkins presents, and therefore the caricature you’d like to believe. It’s the Dawkinsian tactic of corralling a very diverse group of people and saying that they are all like the outliers. Actually, I think you’ve gone beyond legitimate comment here, and if that’s the way you like to please yourself, you are indeed to be pitied. But not by me.

    Maimonides referred to a very curious passage in the Bible that says that the Jews were supposed to kill without mercy any member of one of five Canaanite tribes. It’s just as well, said Mainonides, that we can’t tell the difference between people nowadays (he wrote 1000 years ago). So perhaps your cloak of anonymity serves a useful purpose.

  444. #445 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    But there is an unpleasant alliance here between Islamic fundamentalism and the extreme Left. Nick Gotts mentioned the Iraq war, and this is curiously relevant. Jewish friends of mine went to march against the war but were vilified by other marchers who sought to equate Iraq with Palestine. – Henry Gee

    I have come across – and spoken out against – anti-semitism in the anti-war movement. However, I have also been on an anti-war demonstration in Glasgow where a group of Jews were marching under a banner which proclaimed their identity as such, without any sign of hostility from other marchers. They were the Glasgow branch of “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”, however, so probably Henry Gee won’t count them.

  445. #446 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    But there is an unpleasant alliance here between Islamic fundamentalism and the extreme Left. Nick Gotts mentioned the Iraq war, and this is curiously relevant. Jewish friends of mine went to march against the war but were vilified by other marchers who sought to equate Iraq with Palestine. – Henry Gee

    I have come across – and spoken out against – anti-semitism in the anti-war movement. However, I have also been on an anti-war demonstration in Glasgow where a group of Jews were marching under a banner which proclaimed their identity as such, without any sign of hostility from other marchers. They were the Glasgow branch of “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”, however, so probably Henry Gee won’t count them.

  446. #447 CJO
    July 1, 2008

    Can I help being born a Jew? My parents are atheists, and with good reason, but they can’t help it either. And did they wish for the Holocaust to happen. Oh, boy, if you think that a ‘Holocaust bunker’ is a nice thing to have… frankly, I’d rather have my family.

    I don’t think it’s a “nice thing” at all. For the reasons you supply, as well as for the (trivial by comparison) fact that it seems to short-circuit your self-assessment as regards intellectual honesty and moral courage.

    You make exactly my point, to boot. Antisemites hate ethnic Jews. It’s completely immaterial to a supremicist mindset what religious views, if any, the individual target of their hatred professes. We (the posters here disagreeing with you) are exactly the opposite. We could give a rat’s ass who your parents are. It’s the intellectual content of what you profess to believe, or find value in at least, that we deride.

  447. #448 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    I’ve read GD. I’ve told you what I thought about it. Repeatedly.

    without any support for your conclusions, whatsoever, other than the courtier’s reply.

    and you accuse ME of intellectual cowardice??

    seriously, you need to look up what projection means.

    Here, I’ll help you:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

  448. #449 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 1, 2008

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch

    Spare us the Godwin, please! What a revolting and intellectually bankrupt thing to assert! What credibility you had has just plummeted like a paralyzed falcon.

    More likely none of us think any such thing. I am starting to think of you as a petulant paranoiac, though.

    Now, back to this ‘respect’ thing. I am sometimes told by atheists that they ‘respect’ me but not my religious beliefs, and expect me to be happy with that curious point of view. My response is usually to say that if they disrespect my religion, then, surely, that disrespect must take some concrete form – defacing stones in cemeteries, perhaps? Or torching synagogues? If not, then this disrespect is simply empty posturing.

    No, it means it is simple rudery. Showing scant regard for religion and torching synagogues are VERY different actions. One thing is not the other, and if you can’t tell the difference then I think your moral compass is badly askew. If you can show us some atheists who are defacing tombstones then you might have a point, but you can’t, so you lose.

    Having heard you excoriate The Big D. for demagoguery, it turns out YOU are the one arrogantly demagoguing your titties off, making backhand Nazi references, chewing folks out for their hand-waving man-in-the-pub assertions about the Talmud while making ignorant assertions about the less-than-benign CofE, and sneering at our ‘childishness’ while throwing your toys out the pram. You are a hypocrite and a tosser.

  449. #450 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    It’s also worth noting, incidentally, that Jews are, as they long have been, well represented among Marxist and anarchist groups in the UK (which I take to be what Gee means by “the extreme left”). Of course that doesn’t mean there is no anti-semitism there – there is a fine book, I think available free online, by Steve Cohen: That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic, which recounts some of the history of British left anti-semitism. However, it is most definitely not part of the official “line” of any group I’m aware of; and it’s an accusation that is far too readily flung by the likes of Henry Gee, when Israel or US Middle East policy is criticised.

  450. #451 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    My book sales figures have nothing to do with it. I’ve also said THAT repeatedly.

    …and, if you look carefully, I directly pointed out that you seemed to prefer to address that ridiculously irrelevant commentary. Which, btw, was NOT originally put forward by myself, but chosen by you to respond to INSTEAD of directly defending and supporting your contentions about Dawkins’ book.

    you have reading comprehension problems, as well as an inability to actually argue honestly.

    you’re getting worse instead of better.

  451. #452 Owlmirror
    July 1, 2008

    And two very different playings of the Nazi card:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3322241,00.html

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3323319,00.html

    Searching on “pride parade” suggests that this year’s parade went off without riots, although not without protests.

  452. #453 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    sarcasm

    There appears nothing left to do but grind our jack-boot heels into the stain he left on the ground.

    /sarcasm

    Words fail me. No, they don’t. You are an ignorant coward, and these remarks reveal a great deal about the way you treat people who think differently from the way you do.

    btw, you also seem to forget that it was yourself that started the “untermensch” issue, as well as damn near breaking out in a ridiculous comparison of modern anti-theism as being essentially equivalent to the kind of thing represented in what I refered to by Niem÷ller.

    the reason I very deliberately chose to outline that response as sarcasm, was exactly because YOU chose to take the discussion that way.

    several people aside from myself have chosen to call you out on that bit of real cowardice.

    I see you are a complete waste of time.

    have fun endlessly spinning strawmen and mischaracterizations.

    just remember that when you call me a coward, that’s you projecting again.

  453. #454 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    The ‘odd coincidence’ of posting pictures of Mea Shearim just proves the point I’ve made above. That’s the caricature Judaism that Dawkins presents, and therefore the caricature you’d like to believe. – Henry Gee

    Surely the point about Mea Shearim is that it is inhabited by ultra-Orthodox but anti-Zionist Jews? Most of us here, at least, are aware that Jews differ greatly in both their religious and political beliefs, and that even those religious and political divisions cut across each other in complex ways. It is you, Henry Gee, who is the essentialist here, insisting that criticism of Judaism or Israel is anti-semitic and a threat to commit violence against you.

  454. #455 Nick Gotts
    July 1, 2008

    Incidentally, my original comment about booksales was made because your first comments simply attacked Dawkins personally. I recognised your name, found it difficult to belive that it could be the editor of Shaking the Tree being so puerile, but followed your link and found it was so. I had no idea if this was your motivation, and am happy to withdraw the suggestion now it has become clear what that motivation is, but frankly, I’d probably respect you more if simple jealousy had been your motivation than the intolerant irrationality and paranoia you have displayed here.

  455. #456 Owlmirror
    July 1, 2008

    The ‘odd coincidence’ of posting pictures of Mea Shearim just proves the point I’ve made above. That’s the caricature Judaism that Dawkins presents, and therefore the caricature you’d like to believe

    I beg your pardon? Is that something that you would say to a haredi; to a member of the Neturei Karta; that they’re a “caricature” of Judaism?

    Now who is proselytizing, and trying to “destroy” the way of life of people who just want “to be allowed to practice their beliefs without molestation or being vilified for what they do”?

    It’s the Dawkinsian tactic of corralling a very diverse group of people and saying that they are all like the outliers.

    What, you mean like the way that you’ve been accusing all atheists of being Nazis? Good grief.

    I am very well aware of the diverse spectrum of beliefs that is Judaism: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, not to mention the additional spectrum of traditions: Sepharadi, Ashkenazi, Yemenite, Ethiopian, Indian… (and I’m sure that “atheist” fits in there somewhere)

    My point was precisely to emphasize that diversity; that not all Jews think the same way about religion and politics, and their intersection.

  456. #457 amk
    July 1, 2008

    Henry,

    while their teachers launched into hysterical tirades against Israel

    I hope you’re not suggesting that condemnation of Israeli policies is equivalent to anti-semitism, because there are damn good reasons why Israeli policy should be condemned. There are a few high-profile Jews who do the same, such as Finkelstein and Chomsky.

  457. #458 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Hey, Owlmirror, do you consider yourself to be a coward because you use a pseudonym?

    are you wondering why Gee hasn’t labeled you a coward yet?

    LOL

  458. #459 amk
    July 1, 2008

    scooter,

    My homemade vocabulary refers to that as ‘religious behavior’.
    Marxists, Free-Market Capitalists, Freudians, American Jingoists, etc etc display a disturbing level of religious behavior.

    Political religion

  459. #460 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    Hmm, a lot’s happened since my last post – after which I went to bed; it was bedtime in Australia. I did suspect I’d left what was the beginning of a bun-fight of some kind.

    No-one other than Henry, to my recall, brought up Henry’s ethnicity. He brought it up as a response to my post (#360) where I’d accused him of criticising Dawkins as not being gentlemanly, for not adhering to ‘British standards’ of understatement and sportsmanship in such things as debates. He implied he couldn’t be doing that because he was Jewish and a child of immigrants.

    This seemed odd to me at the time, and I had an inkling it was going to lead to a much more enthusiastic use of the antisemitism label to defend his position.

    Hours later; here we are. Blake’s Law, Courtier’s Reply and Godwin’s Law all in one day. Is that a record?

    Henry, I (for one) consider that your attempts to paint atheism as one step away from antisemitism as reprehensible to say the least. As other posters have pointed out, our problem is with the religious beliefs people choose to hold not the ethnicity they have inherited.

    There’s a difference, and it’s an important one. That you have chosen to play this particular card in order to deflect the criticism levelled at you is demonstrative of the weakness of your arguments. That you have chosen to try and paint us with the same brush as those who did those foul deeds to your ancestors and the is as much an insult to them as it is to us.

  460. #461 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Hours later; here we are. Blake’s Law, Courtier’s Reply and Godwin’s Law all in one day. Is that a record?

    you have a good point.

    I can’t even recall any of our most “productive” trolls generating all three in a single day.

    Is it possible Poe’s law is involved, and Gee has been yanking our chains all along?

  461. #462 amk
    July 1, 2008

    our problem is with the religious beliefs people choose to hold not the ethnicity they have inherited

    I’m re-emphasising that for you. One could certainly argue that people don’t choose to hold beliefs, and most people inherit their religions. However, it is sets of ideas to which we object.

  462. #463 amk
    July 1, 2008

    Is it possible Poe’s law is involved, and Gee has been yanking our chains all along?

    If it weren’t for PZ’s intervention I would have taken Henry as a troll. He’s certainly proven adept at trolling.

  463. #464 amk
    July 1, 2008

    I need to say that I’m pleased to see Lee Brimmicombe-Wood posting again. I’ve not seen anything from him for weeks.

  464. #465 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    Ichthyic,

    Early on in the post I did get a bit suspicious, but the gradual descent into Godwin territory put all that doubt aside.

    Earlier on I suggested The Gentleman’s Admonish for Henry because that seemed to be the approach he was taking – that one can hold a belief but not be as boring and common as to appear to feel strongly about it – but he changed tack not long after that.

    Is there an existing ‘law’ to describe what he did? To bring up something about one’s self that certain people would attack (race, gender, orientation, social class) when none of them are going to do so, and then berate them for being bigoted against that in an attempt to disguise a weak position?

  465. #466 Owlmirror
    July 1, 2008

    Hey, Owlmirror, do you consider yourself to be a coward because you use a pseudonym?

    I consider myself to be … many things, including gnomic.

    are you wondering why Gee hasn’t labeled you a coward yet?

    I think he’s insinuating something in comment #444, but I am not sure if it’s just cowardice, or something else besides. Something more unpleasant. Something downright nasty….

    But if I were to be as paranoid as Mr. Gee, I would no doubt make myself as miserable as he’s obviously making himself. So I shall cheerfully assume that he’s just being unclear, and will suggest that he clarify, or move on to a substantive argument already, please.

  466. #467 amk
    July 1, 2008

    Is there an existing ‘law’ to describe what he did? To bring up something about one’s self that certain people would attack (race, gender, orientation, social class) when none of them are going to do so, and then berate them for being bigoted against that in an attempt to disguise a weak position?

    I don’t know about a law, but there’s a caricature.

  467. #468 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Is there an existing ‘law’ to describe what he did? To bring up something about one’s self that certain people would attack (race, gender, orientation, social class) when none of them are going to do so, and then berate them for being bigoted against that in an attempt to disguise a weak position?

    Hmm, is it simply just a Red Herring taking the form of Ignroatio elenchi?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignoratio_elenchi

    frankly exploring a label for his form of “argument” is likely going to be more interesting than anything Gee has put forward.

  468. #469 SC
    July 1, 2008

    amk @ #467 – Thanks to your earlier link, I was already thinking of that!

  469. #470 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    How about a ‘Gee Descent’?

    It goes something like:

    1) You’re wrong.
    2) Okay, you’re not wrong – but your arguments aren’t worthwhile.
    3) Fine, your arguments are valid – but you’re a big meanie.
    4) Well then, you’re responding appropriately – but you’re an antisemite!
    5) Repeat point 4 ad nauseam

  470. #471 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    Amk, #467

    Sorry – I don’t know who that’s meant to be. What’s the story?

  471. #472 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    3) Fine, your arguments are valid – but you’re a big meanie.

    I rather think he started with that in response to Nick’s comments about his book sales.

    which of course were in response to Gee’s initial tone itself.

    so, adjusting…

    1) You’re wrong.
    2) Fine, your arguments are valid – but I’m going to ignore them all because you’re a big meanie and I’m going to respond to that instead.
    3) Okay, you’re not wrong – but your arguments aren’t worthwhile because I said so, and I’m a writer.
    4) Well then, you’re responding appropriately – but you’re an antisemite!
    5) Repeat point 4 ad nauseam

    whee!

    I’m still going with repeated usage of red herrings.

    bottom line, though, it appears his entire objection to Dawkins boils down to him being convinced Dawkins is equatable with Hitler.

    Now where have we heard THAT idea proposed before…

    oh, that’s right, it was the fundamental premise of Expelled.

    Amazing, here we have Gee, who claims to be an ardent supporter of good science (and can actually back up that claim), using what amounts to the same damn argument the producers of Expelled use as their primary theme.

    … and he wonders why I see a future for him with the disinformation institute.

  472. #473 SC
    July 1, 2008

    But there is an unpleasant alliance here between Islamic fundamentalism and the extreme Left.

    To be honest, I have little contact with anarchists in the UK (much more with anarchists in Africa, actually – and, by the way, more awesome than African anarchism you cannot get). Neverthetheless, I’m extremely dubious. Islamic fundamentalism is anathema to anarchism. Such an alliance would be laughable. Are you speaking of anarchist involvement in movements to support immigrants? To oppose racist violence against people from the Middle East? To support Palestinian human rights efforts? Or are you just confused about the meaning of the extreme Left?

    And in case anyone’s interested:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_anarchists

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_anarchism

  473. #474 SC
    July 1, 2008

    Ichthyic,

    My only change would be: “…and I’m a Writer.”

  474. #475 amk
    July 1, 2008

    wowbagger – Flame Warriors is a collection of caricatures of archetypes typically found on internet fora, not particular people. Many of them are very familiar to us all.

    I linked it in #188 above with respect to the enigmatic truth machine.

  475. #476 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    He does seem to have a distinct problem with Dawkins’ views on Yahweh. Apparently, it’s okay to attack christians – since they’re just upstarts and you call 2000 years tradition? Ha! A mere drop in the well – but when it comes to his own beliefs, well, that’s different.

    While I have more respect for Judaism (esp. it’s avoidance of proselytizing) than I do for christianity, if we’re being honest and admitting that our problem is more with the irrationality of the basis of the religion rather than the actions of its adherents, we can’t treat it any differently, can we?

    And it definitely doesn’t equal antisemitism.

  476. #477 Blake Stacey
    July 1, 2008

    The message I’m getting here is that if I say theology is Sudoku with airs put on, I’m a Nazi.

    Hours later; here we are. Blake’s Law, Courtier’s Reply and Godwin’s Law all in one day. Is that a record?

    Unfortunately, probably not.

  477. #478 Ichthyic
    July 1, 2008

    Or are you just confused about the meaning of the extreme Left?

    I’d wager on that one.

    He does seem to have a distinct problem with Dawkins’ views on Yahweh. Apparently, it’s okay to attack christians – since they’re just upstarts and you call 2000 years tradition? Ha! A mere drop in the well – but when it comes to his own beliefs, well, that’s different.

    note, he only made that “distinction” after he refused to defend the more generalized statements he made wrt Dawkins accumen on the subject of religious apologetics.

    Evidently, his initial statement was mere question begging.

    so many logical fallacies, so little time.

  478. #479 Blake Stacey
    July 1, 2008

    Apparently, it’s okay to attack christians — since they’re just upstarts and you call 2000 years tradition?

    If we consider “Judaism” to be a staunchly monotheistic faith with a reasonably well-defined set of scriptures, then it’s only about five hundred years and change older than Christianity, counting from the Babylonian Exile.

  479. #480 amk
    July 1, 2008

    Ichthyic,

    bottom line, though, it appears his entire objection to Dawkins boils down to him being convinced Dawkins is equatable with Hitler.
    Now where have we heard THAT idea proposed before…
    oh, that’s right, it was the fundamental premise of Expelled.

    That’s a little unfair. Dawkins has repeatedly talked of the power of the Jewish lobby in the US. At the very least Dawkins is choosing his words poorly, inserting his ambulatory extension into his communication apparatus.

    Mearsheimer and Walt wrote of the Israel Lobby, and I think that’s a poor choice of words too. Calling it an Israel-Nationalist Lobby would be better IMO. AIPAC is certainly influential and has a Jewish character. The ADL sometimes comes across as Israel-Nationalist, such as when head Abraham Foxman refused to recognise the Armenian genocide as it might upset Israel-Turkey relations. They are joined by the Christian fundy CUFI, and presumably the military-industrial complex.

    On the other hand, Jewish groups such as J Street are both Jewish and see themselves as pro-Israel – but take a radically different line from the Israel Nationalist lobby. There are surely Christian peace groups too.

  480. #481 amk
    July 1, 2008

    Jewish groups … are both Jewish

    Hmm… there may be some redundancy there.

  481. #482 Wowbagger
    July 1, 2008

    Blake Stacey wrote:

    then it’s only about five hundred years and change older than Christianity, counting from the Babylonian Exile.

    Ah, but those were very important years, weren’t they?

    /equivocation>

  482. #483 Rick T
    July 2, 2008

    Jeez, PZ tried to warn him in a polite way that the paranoid direction he was taking was not a good idea. Stupid move to continue. He started out as a flippant and a smug smart ass, then phased into just wanting to be left free to believe without criticism and on into paranoia leading finally to full blown channeling of Ben Stein.
    For fucks sake, the holocaust was facilitated by Christianity. It was not a result of atheism. This is one of the reasons that we rail against religion.
    It’s an embarrassment to use the memory of murdered family members to such ignoble ends, by that I mean cheapen and devalue. All to try to win an argument that should have been abandoned long ago if the intent was not to argue with integrity.

  483. #484 God
    July 2, 2008

    I don’t want nuanced views, I want war!

    Inasmuch as the views became less and less nuanced, I think I can honestly say that I’m that much closer to getting what I want.

    First comes the pettiness and outrage, then the false accusations, then comes the hypocrisy and sneers and threats, then someone spits in someone else’s beer, and the next thing you know, it’s brass knuckles and crowbars and sticks with nails in, then someone breaks out the machine guns, so of course the whole brouhaha escalates to the nuclear option.

    It warms My (absence of a) heart to see you apes behaving so utterly, predictably, and (best of all) violently, apelike.

  484. #485 Ichthyic
    July 2, 2008

    It warms My (absence of a) heart to see you apes behaving so utterly, predictably, and (best of all) violently, apelike.

    who said that?

    I see nothing.

  485. #486 Ichthyic
    July 2, 2008

    That’s a little unfair. Dawkins has repeatedly talked of the power of the Jewish lobby in the US.

    ..and if that had anything to do with anything in the God Delusion, he might have had a point in bringing it up.

    since both practically and philosophically, it doesn’t, you are essentially allowing him to use a red herring to escape having to actually back up his initial contentions about GD and Dawkins.

    IOW, you fell for his logical fallacy hook, line and sinker.

    congrats.

  486. #487 Jesus, called Christ
    July 2, 2008

    It warms My (absence of a) heart to see you apes behaving so utterly, predictably, and (best of all) violently, apelike.

    You know, these apes… I mean, humans are busy working on discovering higher dimensions, and manipulating energies in strange new ways.

    Are you so sure that you’ll remain untouchable for all time? Because you know that if they figure out how to get to you, someone will come after you.

    Or are you so bored with your own eternally isolated existence that you do actually have a genuine death wish?

  487. #488 God
    July 2, 2008

    Are you so sure that you’ll remain untouchable for all time? Because you know that if they figure out how to get to you, someone will come after you.

    Or are you so bored with your own eternally isolated existence that you do actually have a genuine death wish?

    I will be what I will be.

  488. #489 Ichthyic
    July 2, 2008

    someone will come after you.

    subpeonas have already been dispatched.

    technically, if it exists, it’s already in contempt of court.

    come to think of it, so are you.

  489. #490 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 2, 2008

    I need to say that I’m pleased to see Lee Brimmicombe-Wood posting again. I’ve not seen anything from him for weeks.

    Sorry, I have been somewhat busy of late.

    It’s been interesting to see Henry’s position develop, to see him gradually derail the thread. It began as criticism of Dawkins for crossing the NOMA line into places he is not qualified to go and for making a less than rigorous argument. There’s merit to this view, however incorrect I believe it to be.

    Then it emerged that he was unhappy with any critique of Judaism. How impertinent to lump it in with childish religions such as Christianity? And how dare any non-Jew attack the Talmud and thousands of years of midrash? Along the way, Henry reveals a view of the Church of England that appears derived from 1960′s sitcoms and talks of living an uncomfortable life in the ‘Koran Belt’ of the East End. (Speaking as a displaced East Ender–I left London just a year ago–that’s the first time I’ve heard it called that. Henry’s choice of words speaks volumes.)

    Henry then asks that he and his faith be left alone from intolerant atheists, though it’s uncertain from his words whether he is truly talking about faith or conflating it with his Jewish ethnicity/identity. He was, after all, speaking specifically about HIS faith.

    And so all of a sudden we find ourselves on treacherous ground, walking into Henry’s less-than-cunning trap. Attacks on the Torah? The indivisibility of Jewish faith from identity? Escape from the ‘Koran Belt’? The alliance of leftists with Islam? Dawkins’ ham-fisted criticisms of Israel? Not to mention the likening of strident atheists to jihadis and fundies. ZOMG, Pharyngulites are Nazis! Flee for your lives!

    What lazy thinking from poor persecuted Henry. He stands revealed as a wacko, railing on about the left and Islam, attacking intolerance while revealing his own.

    Normally, I’d just write him off as one of those folks who is probably sane and affable for 95% of his life, but morphs into a nutter when his hot button–in this instance his faith–is pressed. However, it’s sad that Henry thought to bring his family into this and use them as human shields from attack. He embarrasses himself and I don’t believe he does his family any favours.

  490. #491 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 2, 2008

    Calling it an Israel-Nationalist Lobby would be better IMO.

    Is that really better? I can see individuals parsing ‘Nationalist’ either as a euphemism for ‘Zionist’ or even Godwining it into NSDAP. Either way, it is treacherous ground. There are those fearful people–and Henry appears to be one of them–for whom any criticism of Israeli policy smacks of anti-semitism.

    I am always interested in asking such people what legitimate criticism they would accept. I have had widely varied replies to this question over the years, from the stern belief that any critique of Israel’s occupation whiffs of the jackboot, to those who will permit criticism but only if couched in the gentlest of terms and accompanied by a fierce denunciation of all things Palestinian. I have encountered the assertion that Israeli suffering to the Palestinian is as three is to the one, as well as one rather vicious individual who told me that if the lazy Palestinians cannot hold on to their country they do not deserve it. I understand his was a minority view, but it was still shocking to encounter.

    I’ve no doubt that just writing this will cause Henry to pigeonhole me as a jihadi fellow-traveller, but I’ve been called worse and for less. I am increasingly developing the view that there is no reasoning with this man outside HIS area of scientific expertise. Though he may yet surprise me.

  491. #492 Jesus, called Christ
    July 2, 2008

    technically, if it exists, it’s already in contempt of court.

    come to think of it, so are you.

    I’ll get a good lawyer.

    “Your Honor, my client insists that he is not the son of God, but is rather the son, in the usual way, of two normal humans. Furthermore, he also insists that he is not the anointed savior of all mankind, but is rather a former Judean rebel and zealot against the Roman Empire of that era. While my client confesses to certain counts of fraud, sedition, conspiracy, and incitement, we wish to point out that the statute of limitations expired quite some time ago…”

  492. #493 Ichthyic
    July 2, 2008

    Flee for your lives!

    done.

  493. #494 amk
    July 2, 2008

    ..and if that had anything to do with anything in the God Delusion, he might have had a point in bringing it up.

    An equally cringe-inducing point comes on page 44 [of TGD]: “As I said in the Preface, American atheists far outnumber religious Jews, yet the Jewish lobby is notoriously one of the most formidable in Washington. What might American atheists achieve if they organized themselves properly?” The so-called Jewish lobby is not, after all, calling for the national separation of milks and meats; it’s more properly called a pro-Israel lobby, and works to secure military hardware as well as financial and political support for an existing earthly government.

    link

    Don’t have TGD, can’t confirm it.

    you are essentially allowing him to use a red herring to escape having to actually back up his initial contentions about GD and Dawkins.

    I thought it fairly clear backing up isn’t going to happen.

  494. #495 Ragutis (Oh noes! A pseudonym!)
    July 2, 2008

    @ #444:

    Maimonides referred to a very curious passage in the Bible that says that the Jews were supposed to kill without mercy any member of one of five Canaanite tribes. It’s just as well, said Mainonides, that we can’t tell the difference between people nowadays (he wrote 1000 years ago). So perhaps your cloak of anonymity serves a useful purpose.

    Posted by: Henry Gee | July 1, 2008 6:48 PM

    What an interesting paragraph. What were you trying to say there, if I may ask, Dr. Gee?

  495. #496 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 2, 2008

    I always chuckle when I get labelled an anti-semite for being a critic of the Occupation. I have fought Nazis–real, Hitler-saluting ones. I stood alongside Henry’s enemies, the Socialist Workers, in the ’80s, fighting the NF and BM in gang surges around the fringes of Chapel Market. However, these credentials clearly count for nothing with some people.

    Maybe it shouldn’t. The past is past and what matters is what I am doing now. But I’ve had allies and would-be allies turn on me before. In one case for the simple reason that my opposition to torture made me ‘objectively pro-Jihadist’.

    We live in interesting times.

  496. #497 amk
    July 2, 2008

    That reminds me – pro-Israel Nazis!

    The organization – whose members have yet to reveal themselves to the public – claims that Israel’s right to exist is anchored in the principles of social Darwinism, the same principles which the Nazis adopted prior to the Second World War.
    “Israel earned the right to live among the nations [after emerging] from unending wars,” the group writes on the site. “Israel also has a right to exist. This nation also has culture… The nation of Israel is appreciated… It is our duty, as neo-Nazis, to defend this supreme success. Not just for the German people and the European cultural sphere, but also, especially, for Israel.”

  497. #498 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    While my client confesses to certain counts of fraud, sedition, conspiracy, and incitement, we wish to point out that the statute of limitations expired quite some time ago…”

    …as indeed did my client.

  498. #499 Anton Mates
    July 2, 2008

    That’s a little unfair. Dawkins has repeatedly talked of the power of the Jewish lobby in the US.

    Sure, but every time it’s been in the context of, “See what minority groups can do when they get vocal and organized? We atheists should do the same thing!” No one could honestly confuse that with the standard antisemitic claims of secret Jewish cabals controlling business and government.

    At the very least Dawkins is choosing his words poorly, inserting his ambulatory extension into his communication apparatus.

    Well, he’s certainly spectacularly wrong–the US pro-Israel lobby is mostly non-Jewish. And, as someone mentioned, he’s chosen his words poorly on plenty of scientific issues in the past. But whatever his combination of ignorance and sloppy phrasing, it hardly makes him an antisemite.

  499. #500 negentropyeater
    July 2, 2008

    From this exchange it appears to me that Mr Gee didn’t have anything concrete to say about the God Delusion, but that his attack of Dawkins as a demagogue was principally driven by his latest remarks (see Gee’s post #415).

    Orac had a thread about this;
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/10/dawkins_walked_right_into_that_one.php
    “Richard Dawkins really should know better.”

    And I do agree with Orac’s view :

    I know what Dawkins is trying to say and can even agree with the intended thrust of his argument, but he says it so poorly. Dawkins ignorantly conflates the Israeli lobby and a mythical “Jewish” lobby. The two are not the same, and the above statement serves only to reveal how utterly clueless Dawkins is about American politics. Equating the two in this manner practically begs for a charge of anti-Semitism, and Dawkins ignorantly or blindly blunders right into the trap. Moreover, he seems utterly oblivious that one reason that many Americans (and American legislators and Presidents) have an affinity for Israel is not so much because of the efforts of pro-Israel Jews themselves, but rather because of fundamentalist Christians who believe that the State of Israel is fulfillment of Biblical prophecy

    So, Gee is wrong about the God delusion, but if his “hot button” was pressed by Dawkins, then we see what happens.
    I’m not going to give a complete pass on Dawkins on this one though, he’s just been quite stupid.

  500. #501 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    SC@473,
    I think Gee’s probably talking about the UK anti-war movement, and specifically the Stop The War Coalition, which does include both Muslims and Leninists, as well as many Jews (including Jewish Leninists and even Jewish Muslims, though I haven’t encountered a Muslim Leninist yet) – and I’m sure anarchists, though none in prominent roles to my knowledge; and the “Respect” party led by George Galloway (which has recently split). I’m sure some of the Muslims involved have some pretty revolting views, including anti-semitism, and as I’ve said, I have come across it in STWC meetings. The most hardline Islamic fundies, though, would have nothing to do with STWC or Respect – indeed, Galloway has been threatened by them at open political meetings, for encouraging Muslims to vote. So Gee’s concerns on this matter are not wholly unwarranted, although they are exaggerated, and in my view put forward in a bad faith attempt to rule any criticism of Judaism or Israel out of order.

  501. #502 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    Re a term for AIPAC and cronies – I can’t see what’s wrong with “Zionist lobby”. Zionism is an identifiable political belief, “Zionist” is a term chosen and used by Zionists themselves so it can hardly be considered anti-semitic, and it respects the fact that many Jews are not Zionists, while many Zionists are not Jews. Is there some terminological issue in the US that I’m not aware of?

  502. #503 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    Further to 501, anarchists certainly take part in the anti-war marches, which are often co-organised by STWC, CND and the MAB (Muslim Association of Britain). Some march under the classic black or black-and-red flags, but the most original are CIRCA (Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army) who dress as circus clowns and go in for stunts such as dusting police riot shields with feather dusters.

  503. #504 amk
    July 2, 2008

    Richard Silverstein describes himself as a zionist (or I think he does – his site’s down), but is politically in the same boat as J Street, not AIPAC.

  504. #505 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    amk – It would still seem to me a reasonable shorthand. J Street doesn’t seem to use the Zionist label, although as two-statists they would be entitled to.

  505. #506 amk
    July 2, 2008

    Further, a few J Street links are self-described Zionists.

  506. #507 negentropyeater
    July 2, 2008

    Lee,

    I think Nick was correct here (#424)

    With regard to Dawkins comment on “the Jewish lobby” and US foreign policy, I would certainly not have used those words, and consider you have reasonable grounds for objecting to them. You would have done better to be honest about the reasons for your dislike of Dawkins and his book from your first comment.

    And I think this comment of yours was particularly non thoughtful, I think you are just spinning things :

    There are those fearful people–and Henry appears to be one of them–for whom any criticism of Israeli policy smacks of anti-semitism.

    I think it’s quite clear what Henry’s hot button is (to use your own expression), and there’s no need to misrepresent what he said.

    So let’s disregard for a while Henry’s comments about the God delusion, the dog illusion, the talmund, etc… and look at the “hot button”, which, in my view, is his comment #436;

    During the period in which the war was most heated, the rise in antisemitic attacks — physical attacks on people and Jewish property — increased. And then in plops Dawkins with his odd comments about Jews, at the same time that Jewish students on university campuses were being advised to conceal their religious identitues in case they were attacked — while their teachers launched into hysterical tirades against Israel, and otherwise moderate Left-wing opinion formers now think it’s okay to crack jokes about Jews controlling the world or whatever.

    Thankfully it’s died down now. For the moment. As someone said, antisemitism sleeps but lightly. So, no, I don’t think I’m being paranoid. People really are out to get me.

    So, is Henry being parano´d ?

  507. #508 CosmicTeapot
    July 2, 2008

    Negentropyeater @507

    The false accusation that jews are christ killers, and the resulting 2000 years of persecution from christianity alone would be a good reason for Henry to be wary of further persecution.

    But if he saw the God Delusion as stoking this anti-semitism, he should have made this clear from the start.

    However, his view that we are nazis out to get him suggests he is paranoid.

    Here in Germany, it would also get him in trouble.

  508. #509 negentropyeater
    July 2, 2008

    As I said, Gee was completely wrong IMHO with the GD, what’s clear is that his hot button (antisemitism) got pressed with Dawkins’ remarks about a mythical US jew lobby, and he used this to attack him of demagogy.

    I don’t think he sees us as Nazis trying to get him, but he is super sensitive (too much I don’t know) to remarks made by coleagues who tend to activate antisemitic behaviours.

    I think atheists are quite capable of denouncing the inepsies of juda´sm without being accused of activating antisemitic behaviour. But this is not something that Dawkins has been particularly skillful in doing lately.

  509. #510 SC
    July 2, 2008

    Nick Gotts @ #501 and 503,

    But Leninists are not on the extreme Left. It’s long been a pet peeve of mine, this idea that Communists represent the far Left, and thus we can see how the far Left ultimately meets up with the far Right and other such nonsense. Extreme statists can never be considered extreme Left. Kropotkin didn’t call them “authoritarian socialists” for nothing :).

    Thanks for the information about CIRCA! – I hadn’t heard of them.

  510. #511 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    SC,

    There’s a book by two British anarchists, Christie and Meltzer, the title of which escapes me, which suggests a two-axis map of political belief systems, with the left/right being economic collectivism/anticollectivism, and the up/down being authoritarian/libertarian. They placed all communists to the extreme left, but with Leninists at top and anarchist communists at bottom (or vice versa). Actually, of course, you need more than two dimensions – there’s the green/grey dimension, and a lot of things that don’t fit well on continuous scales at all. Anyhow, I’m afraid you’re not going to be able to impose your “pet peeve” on common usage (in the forseeable future), according to which Leninists are extreme left, and anarchists just don’t figure except as cartoon characters holding bombs with fizzing fuses! I’m sure it’s Leninists Gee had in mind.

  511. #512 SC
    July 2, 2008

    As I creakily enter the new day – I don’t drink coffee, so it can be a slow process – I’ll just clarify that I was responding primarily to Gee’s imprecise and misleading use of “extreme Left” in this context and his paranoid claims about some sort of “alliance,” not at all suggesting that there’s no antisemitism in broadly left-wing coalitions there. Your information about the STWC is much appreciated (by me, at least – what Gee’ll make of it I can only imagine).

  512. #513 SC
    July 2, 2008

    Anyhow, I’m afraid you’re not going to be able to impose your “pet peeve” on common usage (in the forseeable future), according to which Leninists are extreme left,

    I never seek to impose – only to persuade :). It will take time, but I’m not giving in to an erroneous characterization.

    and anarchists just don’t figure except as cartoon characters holding bombs with fizzing fuses!

    Grrr. By the way, not long ago on my blog I wrote a bit about the long history of anarchist antifascism, specifically Carlo Tresca and Luigi Fabbri. Anarchists were on the front lines of the struggle against fascism in the ’20s and ’30s. This is not to say that there have been no antisemites in the anarchist movement – Bakunin is a prime example (although he was also rabidly anti-German; though neither is that surprising for a 19th-century Russian, I attribute both in some part to his profound hostility to Marx).

  513. #514 SC
    July 2, 2008

    a two-axis map of political belief systems, with the left/right being economic collectivism/anticollectivism

    For the record, Kropotkin was an enemy of economic collectivism as understood by Marxists. It was partially in reaction to these ideas that he and others developed anarchist communism. But anarchism is a complex and varied movement…

    And I’ll now conclude my little rant. I fear I’m starting to sound like one of the Flame Warriors!

  514. #516 windy
    July 2, 2008

    I hope that Gee was simply having a very bad day yesterday, otherwise I suspect some sort of nervous breakdown. I’m still baffled how Ichthyic’s sarcasm about jackboots and Owlmirror’s innocent link could make a smart and cultured guy completely lose it.

  515. #517 SC
    July 2, 2008

    I hope that Gee was simply having a very bad day yesterday, otherwise I suspect some sort of nervous breakdown. I’m still baffled how Ichthyic’s sarcasm about jackboots and Owlmirror’s innocent link could make a smart and cultured guy completely lose it.

    I know. Once I got over my initial shock at reading #415, I became rather concerned about him. As I read his later posts, that concern grew. I, too, am hoping it was an anomalous event brought on by a specific trigger or series of triggers, and not indicative of a larger problem.

  516. #518 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    SC,

    Proudhon, and indeed (bizarrely) Marx himself, were also anti-semitic. I’m sure you’re much better read in anarchism than I am, but surely Kropotkin’s development of anarchist communism was the culmination of a movement towards economic collectivism within anarchism, and a large proportion of anarchists would still accept, if pressed, the anarchist communist label?

    Incidentally, unless you’re at least 40, I was an anarchist before you were born – and although I haven’t remained one (I guess like most people, I’ve become more conservative with age ;-), still have a great deal of respect for anarchist views and arguments.

  517. #519 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    July 2, 2008

    And I think this comment of yours was particularly non thoughtful, I think you are just spinning things:

    There are those fearful people–and Henry appears to be one of them–for whom any criticism of Israeli policy smacks of anti-semitism.

    I think it’s quite clear what Henry’s hot button is (to use your own expression), and there’s no need to misrepresent what he said.

    Maybe it is a misrepresentation. I don’t know the man and maybe he has an agenda that wasn’t apparent at first blush. But in the context of a discussion where Henry jumped quickly to embrace anti-semite accusations (such as his ‘untermensch’ accusation), he certainly seems fearful, and is clearly sensitive to criticism of Israel. If Dawkins clumsily made a Jews = Israel connection, so too did Henry. It’s a not-uncommon pathology.

  518. #520 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    Isn’t it interesting how this became an intelligent discussion between adults once Henry went away?

  519. #521 SC
    July 2, 2008

    Nick,

    I’m aware of Proudhon’s antisemitism, but since I’ve been working on an analysis of Bakunin’s “God and the State” I have him on the brain at the moment. Also, though I didn’t do a great job of it, what I really wanted to emphasize that while individual anarchists may have been antisemites, antisemitism as an ideology is completely foreign to anarchism as philosophy or practice.

    surely Kropotkin’s development of anarchist communism was the culmination of a movement towards economic collectivism within anarchism, and a large proportion of anarchists would still accept, if pressed, the anarchist communist label?

    I would accept it even without being pressed! When I brought up Kropotkin’s criticism of collectivism, I had in mind specifically Marxist collectivization schemes, which I think are what come to most people’s minds when they hear “economic collectivism,” and about which Kropotkin wrote presciently in The Conquest of Bread. There are substantive differences between anarcho-collectivism and anarcho-communism (as well as real disputes within anarchism concerning the labor movement, political action, environmentalism, human rights, national liberation movements, etc. – I lean toward an “anarchism without adjectives,” coalition-building, creative-synthesis sort of approach myself); but my primary purpose in that post was to try to distinguish all forms of anarchism from Marxism-Leninism.

    Incidentally, unless you’re at least 40, I was an anarchist before you were born – and…still have a great deal of respect for anarchist views and arguments.

    I’m not! Thanks for making me feel young! Sorry if I gave the impression that I thought you were hostile to anarchism. I never did.

    although I haven’t remained one (I guess like most people, I’ve become more conservative with age :(

    There. Fixed that :). (I’ve actually become more radical as I’ve aged. I don’t know of any empirical studies about this. I suspect you’re right in general, but that the idea of a movement towards greater conservatism has also been unduly played up. I may be wrong, though.)

    Isn’t it interesting how this became an intelligent discussion between adults once Henry went away?

    Yes – reminds me of the aftermath of Brenda’s drive-by on the “Sorry, Vox,…” thread.

  520. #522 Nick Gotts
    July 2, 2008

    I suspect you’re right in general, but that the idea of a movement towards greater conservatism has also been unduly played up. – SC

    I think there are some studies, but I’m not sure – difficult to design I would think. By the way, I didn’t mean to imply that because I once was an anarchist (in fact until my early 30s) and now am not, that in any way implied I was wrong then and right now!

  521. #523 windy
    July 2, 2008

    There is a news item in the recent Nature on the genetics of anarchy, but sadly it’s only about bees…

  522. #524 amk
    July 2, 2008

    We seem to have chased Henry Gee off.

    SC, you forgot to include a link to your blog.

  523. #525 Owlmirror
    July 4, 2008

    I think Mr. Gee realized that he was digging himself deeper and deeper into a big hole, and wisely decided to stop digging.

    He posted about it, slightly obliquely, over at his own blog, and focused on the issue of “Anonymous Commenters: Threat or Menace?”

    Oh, and he took the opportunity to take yet another slam at Dawkins by way of the wording: “famous former scientist” (emphasis mine).

    He really does have some long-simmering seething pique for RD, it would appear.

    I wonder if his problem is that Dawkins is, quite simply, much too Aryan. Could that be it? Do those “piercing blue eyes which, despite their prominence, seem to be devoid of humanity” just squick Gee out?

  524. #526 Wowbagger
    July 4, 2008

    Perhaps he realised how thin-on-the-ground his points and key premise (god being outside science) were considering this is a blog frequented by science-types. Or maybe one of his friends read what he was writing and had a word to him off-blog.

    It did get a little bit crazy with the antisemitism claims, all begun because he didn’t like me referring to him as belonging to the British upper class; something he felt was ridiculous considering his Jewish heritage.

    Which might just have been valid if I’d known of it beforehand. I’d never heard of him before he showed up to comment on Dawkins.

  525. #527 Wilby
    July 4, 2008

    dawkinism is a lie, that only those without any whistful desire to have therebe more mystery in the universe would believe in…doctor who is fiction…richard dawkins is in docor who…thererore dawkins is fiction….in a multitude of realities, all events that dint happen have, therefore by the nature of there not being a god, one exists somehwere, and by the nature of the typical god, one is therefore everywhere…therefore there is a god, simply because a lot of people like think there isn’t….or something like that. :) science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of god without sailing its own soul up the river (do you prove something exists or doesnt exist as a scientist? what about all the elements taht were predicted then found to not exist or inded to exist?) Stick to leaving God to philosophers and making faster nicer cups of tea to scientists I say……….and your average full on atheist is as mental as nay given religious nut. (including sadly RTD at times, can you have an evangelical atheist?)

  526. #528 negentropyeater
    July 4, 2008

    Wilbynism is a lie

  527. #529 Owlmirror
    July 4, 2008

    Wilbynism is indistinguishable from blathering while on drugs. I think it’s long past time for Wilby to sleep it off.