The Discovery Institute is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Darwin on Trial, the mediocre book that inspired their movement. As part of the celebration, David Berlinski pounded out one of his typical droning missives from his recliner in Paris. As happens so often with the Disco. ‘tute, there’s little novelty to the argument, but along the way he managed to stick a thumb in the eye of anyone living with a disability:

In Darwin on Trial, …[i]t was the great case of Darwin et al v. the Western Religious Tradition that occupied his attention. The issue had been joined long before Johnson wrote. But the case had not been decided. It had not been decisively decided and like some terrifying cripple, it had continued to bang its crutches through all the lower courts of Hell and Dover, Pennsylvania.

First, “cripple” is not the preferred term and hasn’t been for a long time. Second, people who use crutches are not “terrifying.” Third, I’m not sure why Berlinski is consigning anyone who uses crutches to “the lower courts of Hell.” I do know where he and whoever let him put this on the Disco. ‘tute website and in the DI Twitter stream can go.


  1. #1 Jeffrey Shallit
    November 22, 2011

    Back when I had knee surgery in Chicago, 30 years ago or so, I was crutching along 57th St. in the snow and ice when I was confronted by a bizarre apparition clutching a yellow handkerchief and singing, “Look at the cripple! Run, cripple, run!” The fellow seemed mentally disturbed.

    I wonder if it was Berlinski.

  2. #2 Rob Knop
    November 22, 2011

    This might be a good time to bring fourth an analogy of a rough beast, slouching towards Bethlehem to be born…

  3. #3 Ender
    November 24, 2011

    I would imagine that a “cripple” banging his way along on crutches would be a terrifying sight to anyone illogically wedded to the theory that God is not only directly responsible for the design of the human body and totally perfect and Good. (i.e. unlikely to cripple people… therefore _alsified (rhymes with ballsified))

  4. #4 Marion Delgado
    November 24, 2011

    All science so far! Winning!

  5. #5 Anthony McCarthy
    November 26, 2011

    He should do himself a favor and read more of Lewontin than that one review, good as that review is. In fact, it would be a good thing if both sides would read more of Lewontin who is about the most fair minded and openly honest person I’ve ever read in the dispute. He’s certainly more worth while than Dawkins and the list of anti-religious bloggers named, though Coyne’s writing, when he compartmentalizes his ideological fixations, is quite good.

    I’d recommend Lewontin’s “Biology as Ideology” as one of the more stunningly honest things I’ve ever read.

    Materialism is an ideology that can’t be safely introduced into science, though, as Dawkins has shown, you can sneak it into the suburbs of science pretty successfully. But creationism is also an ideology that can’t fit into science and that is what the ID industry wants to do as much as those who push promissory materialism.

  6. #6 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    “Materialism is an ideology that can’t be safely introduced into science”

    What on earth does that mean?

    That reality is dangerous?

    “those who push promissory materialism.”

    If you’re going to include Richard Dawkins in that group, you’re misled. Ayn Rand, yes.

  7. #7 Patrick Wm. Connally
    December 1, 2011

    On behalf of weak kneed Liberals, the s&m wheelchair bound, and the over 50 million people covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thank you. What a relief to get rid of God who hates everyone but perfect republicans.

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