Pharyngula

A review of Explore Evolution

The Discovery Institute has been gearing up to pollute classrooms across the country with a new ‘textbook’ called Explore Evolution, which is to replace their old propaganda of choice, Of Pandas and People (which had its sorry creationist origins exposed in a little trial in Dover, Pennsylvania). John Timmer of Ars Technica has now reviewed the DI’s masterwork and…well, I hate to give the ending away, but he didn’t like it.

But the book doesn’t only promote stupidity, it demands it. In every way except its use of the actual term, this is a creationist book, but its authors are expecting that legislators and the courts will be too stupid to notice that, or to remember that the Supreme Court has declared teaching creationism an unconstitutional imposition of religion. As laws similar to Louisiana’s resurface in other states next year, we can only hope that legislators choose not to live down to the low expectations of EE’s authors.

I’ve read it, too, and it is as awful as Timmer says. Don’t buy this book. Watch your local school board, and make sure they don’t buy it either. Some will be trying to do so.

Comments

  1. #1 Ian
    September 25, 2008

    So is this book – at the end of a series of such books – an example of devolution?!

  2. #2 wazza
    September 25, 2008

    No, no… they’ve evolved protective camouflage against the danger of being spotted as creationist.

  3. #3 Albatrossity
    September 25, 2008

    Just in case you didn’t know about this, the folks at After The Bar Closes have a thread devoted to a review of this creationist textbook

  4. #4 DiscoveredJoys
    September 25, 2008

    I see that America is leading the world again – in the technology of Applied Stupidity.

    I can see why a section of any community might wish to challenge ‘materialism’ (although I don’t agree) but surely they must realise that artfully constructing a Big Lie in support of their aims actually debases and corrupts the worldview they cherish?

  5. #5 I am so wise
    September 25, 2008

    “its authors are expecting that legislators and the courts will be too stupid to notice that, or to remember that the Supreme Court has declared teaching creationism an unconstitutional imposition of religion.”

    And, without a doubt, their expectations will be met.

  6. #6 dreamstretch
    September 25, 2008

    So which creationist textbook should I use? I’ve yet to find a single good one.

  7. #7 Blaidd Drwg
    September 25, 2008

    @ I Am So Wise:

    Wasn’t it P.T. Barmun who said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”?

  8. #8 RideThePig
    September 25, 2008

    The sad part is, some poor pathetic kid who is getting homeschooled by his fucked-up moronic excuses for parents likely will be taught from this book as if it were a real science book. I swear, I’m afraid of that happening anywhere in the world but I’m convinced it’ll happen, thus brainwashing another helpless, undeserving child.

  9. #9 Loki
    September 25, 2008

    What is it about these people and lying for Jesus and/or general incompetence?

  10. #10 a lurker
    September 25, 2008

    The Explore Evolution people should have applied for a trademark on the name. Too late now. Several hundred thousand people a year visit museums with the Explore Evolution exhibits. Now if they google, the first result will be the creationist “textbook.”

    Goram, motherfraking, smeghead creationists…

    Might I suggest that no one ever link to the book’s website via the phrase “explore evolution” but always make the link to the evolutionary biology exhibit’s primary website.

    While composing this post, I notice that Wikipedia says that Nick Matzke previously made the same suggestion that I made above. Anyone know if the Discovery Institute has itself applied for a trademark on the phrase?

  11. #11 Jivlain
    September 25, 2008

    Today I was at a big second-hand book sale for charity, and I found a number of classic books – “Evolution? The Fossils Say No!” by Gish, Morris’ Scientific Creationism and, of course, Whitcomb’s “The Genesis Flood”.

    Sad to say, my arms were already so full of reality-based books that I was unable to get any of them, in spite of the amusement they may have given me.

  12. #12 J. A. Baker
    September 25, 2008

    In every way except its use of the actual term, this is a creationist book,

    So…does this mean that they managed to cover up “cdesign proponentsists” this time?

  13. #13 freelunch
    September 25, 2008

    Wasn’t it P.T. Barmun who said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”?

    That was Mencken. Mr. Barnum told us that there was a sucker born every minute. It appears that the birth rate has increased since then.

  14. #14 TSC
    September 25, 2008

    Another Atlas of Stupidity.

  15. #15 hinschelwood
    September 25, 2008

    Mr. Barnum told us that there was a sucker born every minute.

    The quote is attributed to him, but he didn’t say it. One of his rivals said that was Barnum’s attitude:

    There’s a sucker born every minute

  16. #16 Darth Wader
    September 25, 2008

    I see that America is leading the world again – in the technology of Applied Stupidity

    We also leading in Pure Stupidity; stupidity for stupidities sake.

    I am going to write the Discovery Institute and ask for a catalog of their discoveries.

  17. #17 tsg
    September 25, 2008

    But the book doesn’t only promote stupidity, it demands it.

    I love this quote.

  18. #18 darwinian386sx
    September 25, 2008

    Why is everything “Darwinism” to those guys? Man, they really don’t like Darwin or something. They’re still living in the 19th century, so it’s no wonder, I guess.

  19. #19 Darth Wader
    September 25, 2008

    doesn’t only promote stupidity, it demands it.

    Isn’t that MTV’s new slogan, though I might be thinking of the history channel.

  20. #20 Quiet_Desperation
    September 25, 2008

    Of Pandas and People

    Wait. Wasn’t that an upcoming title from Pixar? Dreamworks? Hayao Miyazaki perhaps?

  21. #21 Glen Davidson
    September 25, 2008

    The parts they let you see for free demonstrate well that it’s just warmed-over creationism, minus the “young earth” lies.

    It’s all “gaps” and other BS, which keeps coming out of these IDiots, in spite of the fact that people like Behe claim to believe in common descent.

    Paul Nelson was going to “discuss” issues that real science had with the book–I believe at AtBC. That didn’t last long. The fact is that he’ll dishonestly avoid any issue that comes along.

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

  22. #22 ptet
    September 25, 2008

    ID is deader than disco. The rubes are back to cheerleading Biblical Creationism.

    Did anyone get a definitive answer on whether Sarah Palin is a YEC?

    I’ve got some video up of Jack Van Impe talking about Sarah Palin.

  23. #23 Bookworm_mom22
    September 25, 2008

    RideThePig @ #8

    That stung a little as a homeschooling mom! But, as an atheist homeschooling mom, I can say that most “science” books offered to homeschoolers are like this and worse. I have to wade through a ton of crap to find real science offerings.

  24. #24 Natalie
    September 25, 2008

    Tsg @ 17, me, too. That pretty much sums up creationism for me, along with various other psuedoscientific bullshit.

  25. #25 tsg
    September 25, 2008

    ID is deader than disco. The rubes are back to cheerleading Biblical Creationism.

    The only reason to support ID in the first place was to try to get creationism in under the radar of the First Amendment. When that failed, there was no reason to water down their religion anymore.

  26. #26 WRMartin
    September 25, 2008

    Applied Stupidity. Check.
    Pure Stupidity. Check.
    Theoretical Stupidity is next.

  27. #27 Barry
    September 25, 2008

    They have a “peek inside” option on their website… It’s infuriating.

    http://www.exploreevolution.com/peek_inside.php

    Though I must admit that their website is extremely well done (visually).

  28. #28 BobC
    September 25, 2008

    this is a creationist book

    The Discovery Institute is a Christian creationist organization, and every book they have ever published has been a creationist book. They’re creationists and their customers are creationists. Their goal is to convince brain-dead school board members that magic = science.

    When Obama becomes president hopefully he will put the Discovery Institute retards into prison for treason.

  29. #29 Ktesibios
    September 25, 2008

    That was Mencken. Mr. Barnum told us that there was a sucker born every minute. It appears that the birth rate has increased since then.

    Actually, the birth rate (births/1000 people/year) has decreased since 1870, when Hannum uttered the famous quote, but the population has increased dramatically.

    1870 census population: 38,558,371
    1870 birth rate: approximately 40.8/1000
    2000 census population: 301,139,947
    2000 birth rate: approximately 14.0/1000

    So if you estimate the number of births expected in 1870 and those expected in 2000 and divide the latter by the former, it turns out that there are now approximately 2.68 suckers born every minute.

  30. #30 BobC
    September 25, 2008

    I am going to write the Discovery Institute and ask for a catalog of their discoveries.

    Of course the Discovery Institute has never discovered anything. All they do is spread lies about the hard work of real scientists.

    Christian creationists like to get all their science misinformation from the Discovery Institute Liars for Jesus, because the Disco Retards never threaten their magic fantasy world.

  31. #31 Tophe
    September 25, 2008

    @#19, I thought it was the new McSame/Failin campaign slogan…

  32. #32 Qwerty
    September 25, 2008

    It does seem that the Discovery Institute wants to bring back the Middle Ages in which the designer was the center of the universe. Very pathetic.

  33. #33 Kagehi
    September 25, 2008

    I am going to write the Discovery Institute and ask for a catalog of their discoveries.

    Hmm. Sue them for 10 years of raw data on everything they haven’t done in that time? (Or what they have, which would make it damn clear that all it has been is to have talks on how to lie.)

  34. #34 pvrugg
    September 25, 2008

    WAZZA #2:
    > Posted by: wazza | September 25, 2008 8:01 AM
    >
    > No, no… they’ve evolved protective camouflage
    > against the danger of being spotted as creationist.

    They’ve been watching Monty Python’s “How not to be seen”

  35. #35 Generic_Human
    September 25, 2008

    Hi Mr. Myers,

    It is not sufficient to protest this book. We need to recommend a replacement. School boards will not listen to simple protest. They want actionable information.

    What book would you recommend?

    Thank you,

    GH

  36. #36 Ritchie Annand
    September 25, 2008

    pvrugg -> They’ve been watching Monty Python’s “How not to be seen”

    Yes… it was the… middle… one.

    Oh, I can dream :)

  37. #37 abb3w
    September 25, 2008

    Alas for the amateur would-be-blog reviewer, the PirateBay has yet to list a torrent for this. Or “Expelled”, for that matter.

  38. #38 Jello
    September 25, 2008

    @29

    If you consider the below estimate reasonable then about 250 people are born every minute. By your model only about 1% of those people are suckers. Taking even a cursory look at the world around us would indicate that this is a gross underestimate. Your Barnum model for the predictability of morons appears to be seriously flawed.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_are_born_every_minute_in_the_world

  39. #39 Silver Fox
    September 25, 2008

    Denesh D’Souza has posted an interested piece on his site titled: Does science really have laws?

    His conclusion is that science does not have “laws”. For example he cites that one cannot say it is a law of science that all life forms have DNA for that would exclude the possibility of finding a life form, say on Mars, that would not have DNA. Again, somewhere in the cosmos light might travel at something other than what we have determined to be the speed of light.

    Consequently, science has generalizations which are not inviolate, no matter how many observations have been made. To conclude to a “law” is a non sequitur. Science never establishes fact of truth, but only falsifies hypotheses.

  40. #40 Raynfala
    September 25, 2008

    @39:

    Of course, the last line in your summation of the article is the gross lie. Science not only falsifies (some) hypotheses, but it also lends credence to others.

  41. #41 James F
    September 25, 2008

    #1
    So is this book – at the end of a series of such books – an example of devolution?!

    No, unintelligent design.

    It’s all in keeping with the real goal of ID: not research (witness the complete lack of data supporting ID in peer-reviewed scientific research papers), but getting pseudoscience into public school science classrooms.

  42. #42 Ichthyic
    September 25, 2008

    Denesh D’Souza has posted an interested piece

    well, it would have to an “interested” piece, as he’s never published anything interesting.

    His conclusion is that science does not have “laws”.

    Guess what?

    those of us who actually do science, and actually understand what is meant by the term “law” and “theory” and “hypothesis” in the realm of science couldn’t give a flying fuck what D’dumbass thinks about his strawmen creations of them.

  43. #43 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    September 25, 2008

    Silver Fox, many of the regulars are either scientists or at least have a strong background in science. Few of them are going to take the time to listen to a religious conservative hack like D’Sousa calling them untruthful. Deal with it.

  44. #44 Silver Fox
    September 25, 2008

    @40″lends credence to others”.

    If I read his piece right, that’s D’Souza’s point, i.e. credence will always be the end point of science; it will never get to “truth” or “fact”. To conclude to truth or fact in science, he says, is a non sequitur. It places science ESSENTIALLY in the same realm as one who claims a belief in miracles. They are both unfalsifiable beliefs. Perhaps an argument could be made that scientific generalizations are less unfalsifiable than miracles, but even that is questionable since both are ESSENTIALLY unfalsifiable

  45. #45 Q
    September 25, 2008

    Silver Fox (44), gaining credence of ones claims through the scientific method isn’t essentially in the same realm as holding a belief in miracles. Because, by definition, belief in miracles is unfalsifiable. But, by definition the conclusions arrived at by science are assumed to be falsifiable – we just haven’t seen any falsification happen yet.

    Unfalsified is not the same as unfalsifiable; credence isn’t a belief; and scientific “truth” isn’t even ESSENTIALLY in the same realm as belief in miracles.

  46. #46 Chris S
    September 25, 2008

    D’Sousa is presenting warmed over Hume and Popper (That is OK, I guess, though there are plenty of criticisms of those two which D’Sousa seems completely unaware of). But then he adds the craziness about miracles. It is one thing to say that science is fallible, or that its postulated laws might turn out false, or that we’re aren’t entitled to believe scientific truths with absolute certainty, but quite another to say that “this leaves room for miracles”. What does he mean by a “miracle”? He never says. Was it a “miracle” when we observed that mercury’s orbit at perihelion was not when and where we expected it to be (thereby raising doubts about Newtonian laws of physics (i.e., Mercury is close enough to the Sun for us to observe relativistic effects).

    Is THAT what he means? Somehow, I doubt it. But he never says how miracles are testable (or “falsifiable”, if he even knows what that means). What miracle theory can we come up with to test??

    Also: what Q said: don’t confuse “falsified with falsifiable”. Furthermore, Popper was wrong. His theory of falsification has trouble dealing with probabilistic theories and predictions (is the hypothesis that “this is a fair coin” falsifiable or not? Discuss, paying particular attention to Popper’s actual definition of falsifiability.)

    Is Hume right to think that every inductive argument assumes that nature is uniform? Discuss, paying careful attention to the fact that nature is not uniform in any one respect that would make sense of the variety of inductive arguments we use.

  47. #47 eddie
    September 25, 2008

    @silver pox –
    “Science has generalisations that are not inviolable, no matter how many observations have been made”.

    Yes. That’s what laws are. Only fascists and nutjobs think that laws are inviolate.

  48. #48 amphiox
    September 25, 2008

    Um, Silver Fox, if you follow this D’Souza character for any length of time, you’ll soon realize that he is either massively uninformed, deliberately lying, or both. You should not trust a word that man says, writes, or obliquely refers to.

    Essentially unfalsifiable? You’ve got to be kidding. Falsification is the essence of science. On the morning of September 23, 2008, I did NOT have a green horn growing out of the top of my head. The existence of this horn was scientifically falsified, and as a result, the above statement is absolutely, 100% TRUE, and will remain true until the end of time.

    When a proposition is tested and is NOT falsified, credence is lent to it. When sufficient testing has been done and STILL it is not falsified, then we declare it to be provisionally true, for practical purposes. The level of sufficiency required depends on the nature and importance of the question at hand, again based on practical considerations (such as the magnitude of the consequences if one is wrong).

    But any proposition that is tested and successfully falsified, is FALSE, within the specifics of the test parameters. And that truth of that falsehood is absolute.

  49. #49 Ichthyic
    September 25, 2008

    To conclude to truth or fact in science, he says, is a non sequitur irrelevant.

    there, fixed that for you.

  50. #50 Kel
    September 25, 2008

    If I read his piece right, that’s D’Souza’s point, i.e. credence will always be the end point of science; it will never get to “truth” or “fact”. To conclude to truth or fact in science, he says, is a non sequitur.

    Okay, let me explain to you the difference between fact and theory.

    In science, we have facts. They are the observations of the world. For instance, fossils are facts, genetic codes are facts, things falling to the earth are facts, stars are facts, atoms are facts; facts are the observation of objects, their context and thier actions. If you jump out of a window, you will fall to the ground. That is fact. What a theory does is explain those facts.

    Why do we fall to the ground? Because of gravity, a large mass will attract a smaller mass. Gravity is a theory, it tries to explain how those facts work and how they tie together. Theories can never be “proven”, but they are falsifiable. Theories make predictions, and if those predictions don’t match the fact, the theory is either modified, superseded or is thrown out. That’s why science doesn’t ever claim absolute truth, it’s because it’s wholly dependant on evidence.

    It places science ESSENTIALLY in the same realm as one who claims a belief in miracles

    That is so wrong, it’s almost worthy of the PYGMIES + DWARFS?? treatment. Theories in science are very falsifiable, so too are the facts (this is how we explore hoaxes). Evolutionary theory makes predictions about the nature of the fossil record, if we find a mammalian skull in the precambrian rocks, evolution is falsified.

    There are many more ways than just the fossil record as there are many lines of evidence. For a more thorough explanation, see here:
    http://kelosophy.blogspot.com/2008/08/is-evolution-circular.html

  51. #51 Kel
    September 25, 2008

    Ask, and the quote generator on this sight will give

    Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. – Henri Poincar

  52. #52 The Cheerful Nihilist
    September 26, 2008

    Palin admits that evolution does occur:

    http://www.hayibo.com/articles/view/863

    “Is John McCain gonna have to choke a bitch?”*

    *Chappelle and Wayne Grady

  53. #53 Jelle
    September 26, 2008

    Glad to see that you got my email on this. I hope that making the public more aware of this will have some positive effects.

  54. #54 melior
    September 26, 2008

    2. The Council of the Association [for the Advancement of Science] affirms that the evidence in favor of the evolution of man are sufficient to convince every scientist of note in the world, and that these evidences are increasing in number and importance every year.

    [Adopted by the AAAS Council, December 26, 1922. AAAS Executive Committee readopts this resolution on April 21, 1929.]

    Oooh, burn! Even back in 1922, the mean old establishmentarian scientists were being rude and disrepectful to poor Christian YECs who just can’t understand why everyone won’t think of them as scientists too.

  55. #55 James F
    September 26, 2008

    Speaking of 1922…

    “May it not suffice for me to say…that of course, like every other man of intelligence and education, I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.”

    -President Woodrow Wilson, 1922

  56. #56 Longtime Lurker
    September 26, 2008

    The ninnies at the Disco Institute would have a lot more success if they didn’t build their Trojan Horses out of glass.

  57. #57 Tom S. Fox
    September 27, 2008

    The fact that their only way of promoting Intelligent Design is trying to discredit Evolution is very telling.

  58. #58 Jeff - MPLS
    October 7, 2008

    I think the ID proponents are trying camouflage themselves by now actually accepting most of the science that comes out of evolution and molecular evolutionary theory. What they want to do now is just reverse the materialist position and insert a teleological position. Evolution isn’t being caused by mutation as much as it is being pulled forward in a teleological way by an designer. I have discussed this with one of the ID proponent lawyers who argued before the Kansas school board. Here is what he said:

    “Also, is there a need for a theory of design that can guide research? I asked myself what would be different if some of them were ID scientists? I am not sure. Lots of the data regarding gene trees would be the same. The gene trees provide clues to the past that are helpful if you are trying to trace a linage. Again, I don’t think the ID guys necessarily would postulate a different mechanisms than descent with modification. They would just argue that the modifications are “somehow” guided rather than random. James Shapiro makes that arugment now. He just argues the intelligence is internal rather than external.”

    So basically the goal it seems to me is to come across sounding exactly like scientists and even adopt their work. But their goal is to teach that a designer is responsible for descent with modification, not natural selection.

  59. #59 Jeff - MPLS
    October 7, 2008

    I think the ID proponents are trying camouflage themselves by now actually accepting most of the science that comes out of evolution and molecular evolutionary theory. What they want to do now is just reverse the materialist position and insert a teleological position. Evolution isn’t being caused by mutation as much as it is being pulled forward in a teleological way by an designer. I have discussed this with one of the ID proponent lawyers who argued before the Kansas school board. Here is what he said:

    “Also, is there a need for a theory of design that can guide research? I asked myself what would be different if some of them were ID scientists? I am not sure. Lots of the data regarding gene trees would be the same. The gene trees provide clues to the past that are helpful if you are trying to trace a linage. Again, I don’t think the ID guys necessarily would postulate a different mechanisms than descent with modification. They would just argue that the modifications are “somehow” guided rather than random. James Shapiro makes that argument now. He just argues the intelligence is internal rather than external.”

    So basically the goal it seems to me is to come across sounding exactly like scientists and even adopt their work. Perhaps they are now willing to actually accept evolution. But their goal is to teach that a designer is responsible for descent with modification, not mutation and natural selection.

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