Wise up, newspapers. You shouldn’t publish the drivel the Discovery Institute sends out — it’s not news, we’ve heard the opinion a thousand times before and it’s just as hokey, and they’re making you look silly. Do you also print without question the latest missives from the Raelians or Gene Ray?
The latest from the failed freakshow in Seattle is an extended whine by David K. DeWolf that touches on their usual themes: “it’s not faaaaaaaaaair that you won’t let us teach ID in the schoooooools.” “It’s not faaaaaaaair that Republicans were asked whether they believe in evolution.” Yeah, I agree — it’s not fair that you have to present evidence in a scientific argument. This isn’t about being fair.
It’s the same old tired drone that they’ve been making for years. The only part that caught my eye was the conclusion.
At the next presidential debate, I’d like to hear the following question: “Do you think public school students should be permitted to hear both sides of the debate about Darwinian evolution?” American voters want to know their answers.
Ummm, both? Both sides? DeWolf has just finished complaining that it was unfair to ask that question of Republicans because ‘”evolution” was never defined,’ yet here he’s left these strange “sides” undefined. He seems to be assuming that everything should be presented as the idea and its negation; like math class should teach “2 + 2 = 4” and “2 + 2 ≠ 4”. There aren’t two sides in this debate, unless you count presenting the facts as one side, and presenting a batshit insane lie as the other.
Besides, when I hear the words “teach the controversy,” I have this nightmare of me and Larry Moran getting dragged around to every high school in the country to argue about the importance of evo-devo. There are many controversies that scientists argue about, but this ginned-up bogus argument about whether evolution occurred or didn’t ain’t one of them.
Both sides? Sure, I’ll go for debates between Wilson and Lewontin and the like (showing my age there, but I have this philosophy: so what!)
Shawn Wilkinson says
The latest compilation of scientists and philosophers to attack neo-creationism, Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism edited by Petto and Godfrey, has an interesting section on actual “controversies” in evolutionary biology that would be too high of caliber on the high school and even introductory undergraduate level. It’s an interesting read. The entire compilation is a good read with topics ranging from dissecting Dembski’s mathematics to explaining human evolution to explaining introductory topics in philosophy of science. So, consider this comment a plug to add the book to your summer reading list, PZ, if you haven’t already read it yet.
Shawn Wilkinson says
I meant to qualify that the controversies are not centered around whether evolution occurred but how it occurred. I hope that sentence makes sense.
PZ Myers says
Hey, Nuts…just a hint. I don’t ban people for disagreeing. I ban them for being tedious and boring.
You’re about one comment away from eviction.
No more comments from the peanut gallery. Oh well, won’y be missed.
Corey Schlueter says
Why do they call it “Darwinian” evolution? Is there any other type?
Rey Fox says
Sure, there’s Behean evolution. It’s a pretty kludgy and high-maintenance system, but the DI folks have a lot invested in it.
Shawn Wilkinson says
Isn’t the neutral theory of molecular evolution considered to be “non-Darwinian”? That is, natural selection plays no role in the neutral theory? I’ve always taken the term “non-Darwinian” to literally mean any mechanism which does not utilize natural selection. “Anti-Darwinian” would be a phrase better suited for models that conflict with natural selection. But in either case “Darwinian” is equal to “natural selection”, so I think the latter phrase is a better term to prevent confusion.
But the name of the game for creationists young and old is t conflate, convolute, and obfuscate as mush as possible to overwhelm a populace with a majority scientific illiterate individuals, especially illiterate concerning evolutionary biology (a field that seems to take formal education in order to grasp the complete picture).
El Cid says
Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me. MY side of the debate is that I created the Universe, only I forgot how I did it.
How dare they make our children ignore my side of the debate?
I believe the theory’s correct name is Belligerent Design. Belligerent as in warlike.
Who you gonna believe? Peer reviewed scientists or my bipolar deity? Why, I outta…
Sophist, FCD says
Well, there’s always Lamarkism. It doesn’t seem to be happening on this planet, but it’s not impossible that it’s happening somewhere, so there might be some marginal utility in making a distinction.
Sanjiv Sarwate says
Calling it “Darwinian” evolution is supposed to tie the validity of the theory to the credibility of one person. It’s ridiculous, of course – no one seriously talks about “Copernican” or “Galileian” heliocentrism, or “Einsteinian relativity.” But once you understand that the ID/ creationist world view depends on their iconic figure’s status as the incorruptible incarnate Son of God, the compulsive need to make science seem like it’s simply an alternate belief system with different prophets becomes clearer.
‘Evolution’ means, roughly, change over time. ‘Darwinian evolution’ means, roughly, Darwin’s proposed mechanism for how species change over time, i.e. natural selection. In the public arena, ‘evolution’ is effectively synonymous with ‘natural selection’. It’s a shame that the terms get conflated like this, but it’s understandable, because the kind of evolution that the public is interested in is primarily the evolution of biological complexity (e.g. US), and the only plausible mechanism for evolution of biological complexity is natural selection.
They ran an article in Viz magazine last year (childish, British version of the Onion, but with comics) about British children being taught the alternative theory that nine sixes are forty five. Half of the school year was dedicated to teaching that nine sixes are fifty four, half the year that they make forty five, with a few special lessons teaching minority views, such as nine or a million.
I really hope I got my nine times table right in this post.
I have this nightmare of me and Larry Moran getting dragged around to every high school in the country to argue about the importance of evo-devo.
People who followed the Grateful Dead around and went to most (or all) of their concerts were termed “deadheads”. What shall we call the people (such as myself) who would follow PZ and Larry around, just to watch those awesome, flame-throwing, curmudgeonly arguments over and over again?
Surely in Britain of all places, and referencing What do you get when you multiply six by nine? of all conceivable arithmetic problems (!), someone should have noticed the theory that the answer (The Answer) is forty-two!
Dan S. says
I suppose PZ-followers could be known as squidheads (or zedheads, in most of the non-US English-speaking world), and Moran-followers as sandwalkers, but then folks who would follow both of ’em around would be squidhead sandwalkers, and that just sounds a little . . . odd.
Now what I want to see is a tv show, “PZ’s Playhouse . . . “
Brendan S says
Specifically, they call it ‘Darwinian’ Evolution to make it seem more like an ideology and less like science. Byt trying to force it into the box of ‘The teachings of Darwin’ they hope they can market it as a religious doctrine, and not Pure Science.
Personally, I think those of us with reason should object to the term at every impasse.
“There aren’t two sides in this debate, unless you count presenting the facts as one side, and presenting a batshit insane lie as the other.” Ha ha ha
PZ, you do an amazing number of posts a day, they are all well written and readable, often funny, and you not only read the comments on your own blog you wander around the other blogs and comment. And this is in addition to your job. I am beginning to think you must have sold your soul for a 40-hour day.
Christian Burnham says
Personally, I can’t stand this tactic of asking for a show of hands. If I were a candidate I would refuse to answer any question posed this way.
Alan Kellogg says
In base 13.
I am opposed to teaching ID in the schools because we inflict enough Imbecilic Drivel on our kids as it is.
The battle for sanity continues :-S
Long time lurker; first time commenter. I read this comment,
and thought, why not give credit to Dembski or Behe or whomever with ID/creationism. Make a clear association in the dialogue between the bogus theory and the nutjob proponent. Then discredit the proponent an in turn ID/creationism. Attack the messenger and the message. Do this again with the next zombie proponent. Then again and again. Soon enough we might have a Palovian situation on our hands. Anyone who attempts to speak about the merits of ID/creationism will be automatically discredited.
For whom the bell tolls
I’m partial to the term Pharyngulites and the plural Pharynguli to refer to the regulars who mercilessly evicerate any argument not backed by facts and evidence. I read a few science blogs reguarly, but this site by far has the most cold-blooded and thorough destruction of inane arguments raised by theists…much to my delight.
When it attacks inane arguments raised by anyone with equal fervor, then it will be something worth taking delight in.
surely you jest.. instant evisceration of any inane posting is the lifeblood of all Pharynguli.
To suggest that the gentle folk who participate are in any way partisan is to imply that all here are no less than bull-baiters and cock-fighters, with scant regard for gentlemanly pursuits or decent argument!
poppycock I say!
We’ll happily take down a full grown bull-athiest if such were IDiot enough to wallow in illogic and parade such as a posting of uncommon beauty and sensibility!
(I fully expect a brace of comments to follow…)
Blake Stacey, OM says
Occasionally, members of the reality-based community will describe ID enthusiasts as “Paleyists,” since ID really hasn’t advanced (in anything except dishonesty) since Paley’s Natural Theology (1802).
In other news, Jerry Coyne’s review of The Edge of Evolution has been added to the ever-growing list. Keep ’em coming, folks, keep ’em coming.
Ed Darrell says
P. Z., don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but most of the time the only news service that picks up on the Discovery Institute press releases is the corporate PR group they pay to electronically distribute the releases. I mean, not even the two Seattle papers take ’em any more. About every third release gets picked up by some religious news group called Agape — you decide if it’s “ah-ga-pay” or “a-gape.”
In short, they can’t get published even when there is zero peer review. ID is seriously in trouble among all thinking beings.
Keith Douglas says
Corey Schlueter: Arguably, there’s evolution by natural selection expounded in Empedocles, but I doubt that’s what they mean. There are also other forms of non-natural selection evolution. I’m not sure Lamarkianism would count, since Darwin himself held it at one point.
Why do they call it “Darwinian” evolution?
They like to call it Darwinian because Darwin is usually the one credited with the theory that they are descended from the “stinkin monkeys” that they would rather not be descended from.
Is there any other type?
Yes, there is the evolutionary theory where everything evolved in about as couple thousand years or so and where their designer flies up into the sky like a birdie on steroids and returns to the heavens from whence it willed the universe and the angel birdie creatures into existence.
Stuart Weinstein says
The only true evolution debate that included both sides that I’ve heard
another longtime lurker says
Moving back a couple of steps from the “Do you believe in…” question, what I find screechingly exasperating is calling these televised charades “debates”. How I wish some respected national pundit, say Tim Russert, would call for a series of true one-on-one debates, and not these farcical “each candidate has one minute to present his / her view on how to solve a national problem which can’t possibly be solved overnight or by the prez flying solo, such as health insurance for all Americans.”
Maybe it could be followed by a gladitorial smackdown–Behe vs. Dawkins–loser gets fed to the lions. Wouldn’t that be a sight?
Mike Haubrich, FCD says
Your nightmare is our wetdream. The thing that pisses me off about “Teach the Controversy” is that the white noise and static of ID shields our students and the general public from the broadcasts of the real controversies in evolution.
Although, I freely confess that if it hadn’t been for ID I would never have taken the time to delve into the real controversies.
“Do you think public school students should be permitted to hear both sides of the debate…”
“Permitted”? that’s a loaded way of phrasing it. Of course they should be permitted to hear anything. The question should have been, do you think public school students should be taught both sides of the debate in science classes? The answer to that is clearly, no,
Ann Homily says
Why are they always picking on the biologists, though? They should also challenge the meteorologists and geologists for not taking supernatural explanations into consideration. For example, the rock formations in the southwest U.S. look like abstract art sculptures. How can we just say they were created by blind forces such as wind and erosion? If there’s a big Picasso in the sky we should be teaching that side of the argument, too!
Is Gene Ray actually a doctor (professor, etc)? Or did he confer the honor upon himself?
I’ve seen some strange webpages, but for combining a ludicrous degree of woo with that level of racism and hatred is pretty frightening.
Larry won’t go…there’s nary a Tim Hortons to be seen near USian high schools.
Oh, yeah? Take a look at the “Marching Morons” thread, in which PZ does a bait-and-switch by attacking the concept of Social Darwinism instead of the actual topic.