Pinkoski Part 1: Danged know-it-alls


I promised to show you some more of Pinkoski’s A Creationist’s View of Dinosaurs and the Theory of Evolution, so here we go.

Pinkoski’s book is actually reasonably representative of the majority opinion held by creationists; the arguments in this book aren’t what you see openly presented by most of the Intelligent Design creationists, but do reflect what you’ll see in most of your small town church meetings and your big city mega-church revivals. Informed Christians are, of course, a bit embarrassed by the foolishness and don’t endorse this stuff, but unfortunately the kind of nonsense peddled by Gish and Hovind and Ham and Pinkoski is exactly what drives the creationist activists to get out and poison our public schools.

Which brings up a problem…if these are the people we want to persuade, we face a near-impossible task. Pinkoski’s book is 56 pages long, and every page contains a shocking array of falsehoods and outright stupid crap. There’s no point in pussy-footing around it; creationism in all of its forms is nothing but ignorance, misconceptions, dishonesty, credulity, and sloppy logic. I don’t think it helps the cause of reason to be gentle with fools, nor should we be trying to persuade creationist activists—all we can do is dissuade, by showing others the bankruptcy of their position.

And wow, but is A Creationist’s View of Dinosaurs and the Theory of Evolution an example of a foolish position.

Part 1 opens with this image:


Have you ever seen a monument to evolution anything like this? I sure haven’t. It’s kind of offensively stupid; it’s just not the way most members of the “scientific community” would think. We don’t need monuments to scientific concepts, especially not ones that enshrine bogus ideas like that annoying series illustrating human progress.

What we have here is an example of projection. Creationists view their beliefs as great solid monoliths of carved stone, the bigger and heavier the better, so they imagine scientists must do the same, practicing some form of idolatry. Maybe the world’s sacred scientific community needs to come up with a competing monument.

The reason Pinkoski represents scientists as worshipping monoliths is that he is about to explain why we accept evolution as a reasonable explanation of how the world works. He has to admit that most scientists favor evolution (with the false caveat that they are beginning to reject it), but he has to somehow come up with a reason for why everyone doesn’t think the way he does.

Nearly every major university in the world currently favors the theory of evolution, but the pendulum of truth is now swinging back to the Biblical story of creationism! Why is it taking so long? Why is it so difficult for people to “change their minds” and accept this?? Perhaps there is one reason…

And that reason is so simple: people are stupid.


That’s right, Pinkoski believes we only use 10% of our brains. This isn’t just a casual gaffe, either—he goes on for several pages about it, brings it up in a couple of places in the book, and wraps his conclusion around this concept. When my 14 year old daughter saw this, her first comment was, “But that’s wrong! It’s a myth!” That’s right, it’s completely false. I’m sure Mr Pinkoski will also be shocked to learn that all the cylinders don’t fire simultaneously and constantly in a V8 engine, either, so they must be generating only 1/8th of their potential power. This won’t be the first time that Pinkoski erects an elaborate story on something that is completely wrong.

He goes on and on about this 10% myth, and his reasoning is bizarre. Nobody can know everything, and we all have limited, stupid brains, including scientists. Therefore, the ideas of creationists are just as valid as those of scientists (creationists are amazingly dedicated to relativism, as long as they can apply it to everyone else). Also, since scientists can’t know everything, but we know for sure that Jesus Christ will give us eternal life, they are wrong.

He concludes this section with some assertions about salvation, and this summary of “science” (the word science is often put in scare quotes in this thing, I’m not sure why):

One of the main premises of “science” is this:

The more we learn, the more we realize we DON’T KNOW

This would be the “honest” thing for scientists to admit, right?

Unfortunately, many of today’s secular scientists seem to have decided that they “know it all” in regard to evolution and science.

Scientists do recognize that there are a lot of things we don’t know—we’d be out of a job if we knew everything. We take it for granted that we don’t know everything.

If you thought before that science was certain— well, that is just an error on your part.

Richard Feynman

Actually, the only people claiming absolute certainty are the creationists. The last words of this tract are “WE NOW CAN PROVE THAT THE BIBLE IS TRUE!” I guess that means creationists must not be scientists, huh?

We can’t determine a complete and absolute truth, but we can recognize when someone is making up nonsense that is unsupported by any reasonable evidence, and we can also recognize logical fallacies. Not all assertions are equal: when someone tells us up is down and black is white, we’re able to say that he’s a crackpot. It’s the ones who precede their arguments by announcing that everyone in the world is completely wrong and all ideas are the same who are trying to set up a false equivalence and trying to bolster up some sort of unsupportable, unverifiable lunacy. Pinkoski knows that a bunch of eggheads who are better educated and more knowledgeable and just plain smarter than he is are going to come along and laugh at his outrageous claims, so the opening section is a pre-emptive strike…all those so-called smart guys who disagree with him only use 10% of their brains, so we can ignore their rebuttals.

Next: Part 2, Noah’s Ark and how God “evolved” changes into the animals.


  1. G. Tingey says

    Let’s say it again.

    Any and all creationists (and ID-iots) fall into at least one of two non-exclusive sets.
    Set 1: They are liars.
    Set2: They are fools.

    Some, inevitably fall into both classes.

    We have to say this, and keep on saying this, preferably through as many lawsuits as we can handle, until they shut up anf go away.

  2. says

    He concludes this section with some assertions about salvation, and this summary of “science” (the word science is often put in scare quotes in this thing, I’m not sure why):

    Oh, *I’m* sure.

    Not all assertions are equal: when someone tells us up is down and black is white, we’re able to say that he’s a crackpot.

    I heartily agree that not all assertions are equal. But I’m not sure you give enough credit to either Up is Down Conspiracy Theorists or True Black is White Believers. Both are relative measurements, after all; they’re much easier to support than are Pinkoski’s disjointed claims.

  3. Y.B says

    I learned last night reading this blog (someone posted a link to a classic Pharyngula thread) that Pinkoski is none other than the person who originated the PYGMIES + DWARFS argument – in all seriousness! I thought it was joke from the beginning, so I could hardly believe my eyes.

    Disturbing and funny at the same time.

  4. says

    Re the scare quotes around “science,” I suspect it is the unspoken (since his intended audience has heard it a million times already) “distinction” between “true science” and “science, falsely so called” (whew, that gets addictive, doesn’t it?), that has been a staple of creationism going back almost exactly to when the term “science” was coined in the mid-1800s.

  5. Shygetz says

    PZ is right on target–we will never be able to persuade the True Believers that they are wrong. Arguments should be directed towards the bystanders, not the opponents. Unfortunately, many of the bystanders are as uninformed as the True Believers, putting us in the position of having to educate while those with raging TB need only propagandize. That’s why the effective creationists stick to the same arguments, even after they have been debunked–extensive experience has demonstrated that they work. I think that, every time it takes a scientist 500 words to discredit a 10 word creationist assertion, it is a net win for the creationists in terms of popularity.

  6. says

    Pinkoski’s book is actually reasonably representative of the majority opinion held by creationists

    Um… NOT!

  7. Gregory says

    The last words of this tract are “WE NOW CAN PROVE THAT THE BIBLE IS TRUE!”

    I’ve always pitied those who insist that the Bible must be literally true. That stance has always struck me as a tacit admission of the fragility of their faith — that if the Bible isn’t literally true, then it’s somehow completely invalid, down to the moral lessons it contains. How ironic that scientists, with their comfort with the fact that we dont’ know everything, have stronger in faith in their frame of reference* than the Biblical literalists.

  8. linnen says

    Does anyone else see this flaw in logic?

    If you were a betting man which would you choose; 10 % of a scientist’s reasoning power? or 10 % of this guy’s?

  9. says

    While it is, of course, a silly myth that most people only use 10% of their brains, it seems to be entirely true in the case of Pinkoski. What a maroon!

  10. Rachel says

    I was thinking the same thing as Rick when I saw that: What’s up with the Charlie Brown sweater? I wonder if, for some reason, that is intentional…

  11. says

    Good grief! Charlie Brown has gone fundie! I always fingered Lucy for that fate instead. I guess that blockhead confused her with Leakey’s discovery and decided to repress those painful football memories.

  12. makhita says

    If everyone would only use 10% of their brain, my son, who has only about 50% of his brain would function quite normal, right? Wrong. Missing half a brain severely disables a human being.

  13. Mena says

    Les Lane: your list brings back some old memories-Ed Conrad was nuts a decade or so ago over at when, IIRC, he was insisting that an iron globule that he found was some sort of tool that proved that humans and some ancient critter (I don’t think that it was a dinosaur) lived at the same time.

  14. Carlie says

    Missing half a brain severely disables a human being.

    Strangely enough, not necessarily. There was a really interesting article in the New Yorker last month about people who have undergone hemispherectomies (with removal) to control seizures. If it’s done when a child is young enough, there’s almost complete recovery of all function, and even with adults there isn’t as much loss as you might think.

    (back on topic now)

  15. says

    If I were Pinkowski, I would have had Homo sapiens falling off the end, in a sort of ‘God is dead’ hubristic sort of way ;-)

    But, PZ, I think we do need monuments to famous scientific concepts. Famous scientists are often given recognition in the form of a bust. A large-scale representation in sculpture or mosaic of the theory or law they developed would be a monument to the many scientists whose work was the foundation for that groundbreaking idea. It would also hopefully inspire people to learn more about the natural world. A scientific concept may be superseded in time, of course, but that doesn’t lessen its significance as a step forward in understanding the natural world.

    And it’s got be better than commemorating politicians! (Most of ’em, anyway…)

  16. says

    Aarrgh! I mis-spelled ‘Pinkoski’. Sorry, Jim – in my Darwinist-atheist hubris, I thought my orthography (orthostenography?) was infallible. ;-)

  17. madjoey says

    The Snopes article didn’t say much about the origins of the “10%” myth. What I have read is that about a hundred years ago, an early physiologist was correlating brain mass with electrical activity, and based on his calculations, he concluded that, at any one time, only 10% of the neurons were firing. (If your brain was working 100% of the time, every synapse would be Code Red and you’d be having a grand mal seizure. Or you’d be seeing the Baby Jesus. Or both.)

    I have no attribution to validate my assertion, but it’s truthier than Pinkoski, so I must be right. Righter, anyway.