The smug and rather imbecilic face in this video belongs to Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute, who was interviewed on a conservative talk show, Fox & Friends. Watch it at your peril. Like the recent Matthews/Tancredo incident, it’s two people who know nothing about science babbling at each other.
At the beginning, the host says,
Your main problem with science books is that they take a one-sided look at evolution.
No one seems to notice that this is a show that claims to be examining a “white-hot controversy” with one guest discussing only the Discovery Institute’s position. Hmmm.
Luskin parrots a couple of Discovery Institute talking points, and he lies, lies, lies. He claims all the biology textbooks are completely wrong, and that all they want is for good science to be taught. His evidence? The first thing he talks about is Haeckel’s embryos, and repeats the oft-told canard that Haeckel’s embryos are presented uncritically — that they are fraudulent, the biologists know it, and they still use them.
Oh, dog. Not again. I have been all over the Haeckel story so many times. It’s not true: relatively few textbooks use the Haeckel/Romanes diagram, and when they do, they present it in a historical context. And the Discovery Institute doesn’t object to the obsolete figure itself, since they also castigate textbooks that use photos of embryos. Vertebrate embryos at the phylotypic or pharyngula stage do show substantial similarities to one another that are evidence of common descent. That’s simply a fact. The creationists are just frantic to suppress that piece of information, I guess.
The second piece of ‘evidence’ Luskin throws out is another one that pisses me off: he cites the New Scientist article that claims Darwin was wrong! I told you all that we were going to be seeing a lot of quote mining of that blatantly misleading cover — as I also told you, they ignore the content that says the opposite, and they ignore the strongly worded rebuttals that scientists have published. New Scientist has a lot to answer for; these creationists are desperately mendacious and will be flaunting that rag at us for years to come, claiming that New Scientist has shown that Darwin’s tree of life is all wrong, yet we still keep teaching it.
Luskin’s new twist is that “when you look at one gene, it gives you one version of the tree of life, and when you look at a different gene, it gives you an entirely different tree of life”. Of course, if you actually read the NS article, it’s about horizontal gene flow in bacteria making the root of the tree of life more syncytial, saying nothing about the variation you get when you look at single genes. Luskin’s argument is completely bogus. It’s like saying that when we look at the history of the English language and pluck out one word, it may have a different etymology and rate of change than another, therefore English could not have evolved.
Luskin has had this stuff explained to him repeatedly, and it never sinks in…or more likely, as a dishonest propagandist, he chooses to disregard all the demonstrations of the problems with his claims. How he can accuse scientists of peddling fraudulent evidence when he sits there and lies nonstop is beyond me.