Things that make creationists look stupid » « The Full Darwin Wait, no…it’s “Jerry Coyne agrees with me” Coyne and I seem to have achieved consensus in our opinion of the Safina column, without talking to each other about it. It’s true, once you reach a certain level of Darwin Consciousness, you gain the ability to read minds. And also levitate. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Things that make creationists look stupid » « The Full Darwin
Robert Thille says
Man, I’ve read all of Dawkins’ works (except the Extended Phenotype, that’s on the bookshelf), I read Pharyngula “religiously” :-), and I’m still earthbound… Oh guru, what else must I do to attain enlightenment and be able to levitate?
Levitation? As opposed to Intelligent Falling?
Glen Davidson says
When we’re all close-minded adherents of darwinism, materialism, and hatred of god, we become mere minions of Satan. Hence we all think alike.
Unless, of course, we just happen to see through idiocy.
Anyway, the idiots will always see the first option as the only one available, no matter how many times we demonstrate that we see through idiocy (not that Safina’s an idiot, but the article was bad).
True, as long as you include blotter acid in the meditation ritual. ‘Shrooms will do in a pinch.
Blake Stacey says
Actually, I think your argument was significantly better than Coyne’s. He throws out something which is either a strawman or an honest comprehension failure:
By scientists’ occasional use of the word “Darwinism”? Probably not many. In general? Metric fucktons of ’em.
Neither do I, and I’m not particularly fond of the D-word. There are no quick fixes to the problem of creationism. What I do think is that it’s important to counter the accusation that scientists are blindly in thrall to a belief system, that we “believe in evolution” only because we follow the prophecy of St. Darwin the Inspired. It’s useful to be able to observe that when a person calls evolutionary biology “Darwinism”, they’re most likely either a Britisher speaking out of national pride or a creationist babbling out of ignorance.
(Incidentally, why is Intelligent Design the “country cousin” of creationism? Shouldn’t that be the other way around, with ID being creationism dressed up in fancy city clothes?)
Porco Dio says
well done PZ… now that you can levitate, how much more darwin do you need to understand in order to believe in shy-dudes?
Janine, Ignorant Slut says
Would that be anything like yogic flying?
PZ, since you can perform levitation, how DID you get those levitating trains to move so fast?
But seriously, what more can be done to stop the (sometimes) ignorant and (sometimes) malicious attacks on evolution via natural selection?
There have been many excellent books written recently and many good articles and blogs and there are tens of thousands of items of proof via fossils, embryology, anatomy, genetics, etc. but the attacks continue to come and the level of ignorance is overwhelming.
Can the world be taught the facts or are the majority of people ineducable?
shy-dudes or sky-dudes? Because, I gotta say, there’s quite a bit of difference.
Flying, according to Swami Douglas Adams:
“There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
No Darwin Day presents for Safina. He better not even bother hanging out his barnacles.
Whenever I run into another one of these “Darwin was wrong” articles I always flash back to Isaac Asimov’s essay “The Relativity of Wrong.”
“The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute; that everything that isn’t perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong. However, I don’t think that’s so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts …”
Safina seems to think that people — ordinary, average people — don’t get this, can’t get this, and shouldn’t be expected to get this. Worse, as others point out, is his suggestion that scientists themselves don’t get this point. Because otherwise, we wouldn’t have a Darwin Day.
I suggest that, in revenge, we talk about instituting a Safina Day. With cakes and gift exchanges and readings from his rather nice body of work. And yet we will refrain from worshiping him, out of spite.
There’s an old John Henry Faulk anecdote I’ll paraphrase:
A John and Bill are talking and are interrupted by different acquaintances periodically. Every time someone approaches Bill relates how he went fishing over the weekend and caught a fish, but the weight and length change every time he tells the story. Finally John asks him why the fish was never the same size for each man, to which Bill replied, “never tell a man anything more than he is willing to believe.”
I know some very bright people that aren’t willing to believe anything that would negate their belief in God or the hereafter, even if it meant parroting answers the didn’t personally accept on exams.
Their pre-education trumped their scholastic education.
Are you sure about the levitating thing PZ? I thought that levitation was the result of losing the FSM’s favour – she no longer holds you down with her noodly appendages, and hence gravity fails…
How about creationism being the inbred sibling of ID?
I posted this same comment at Jerry Coyne’s blog.
I find myself somewhat in agreement with Carl Safina. Among scientific colleagues, the terms used are: evolution, evolutionary biology, and very rarely, Darwinian evolution. Other terms are applied when referring to a specific process: natural selection, vicariance, genetic drift, or more generally the modern synthesis, etc. As Darwin wrote of natural selection (evolution) and contrasted it with artificial selection, it seems that Darwinian evolution and natural selection are synonyms.
The only places I ever read or hear the term Darwinism is in connection with creationist literature, science and religion discussion groups and on science blogs. In the latter forum, almost always in a discussion with some religious context. Darwinism is ‘undead’ as it is cdesignproponent speak and should never be allowed into the scientific lexicon. Darwinian evolution is synonymous with natural selection, and so, an unnecessary term. When we wish to honor Charles Darwin for his foundational contribution to biology we can spend the time to say: Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
“The point is that making a master teacher into a sacred fetish misses the essence of his teaching.”
Oh great. Now what am I going to do with all these candles and incense? Does Craig’s List have a defunct shrine category?
At what level do we get to see through clothes? That’s all I really care about.
And also levitate.
Hopefully not like this.
Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.
Every generation fewer and fewer people believe. As the older generation dies off so will this belief. So some day, yeah, it’ll be gone. We won’t be around for it but it’ll happen. Death is the best thing to ever happen to social progress.
I would like to respectfully posit a contrary opinion (please no Monty Python chappie in left hand margin to denote crank!)
I have to say I don’t like the word “Darwinism”. Not out of any wish to diss ole Chuck, but just because it leaves the forces of reason open to a creationist/ID cheap shot that we are just slaves to an ideology begat by one fella.
There are very few (as far as I can recall) scientific disciplines named after their founders, We talk about relativity, not Einsteinian physics. Do we not talk about Newtonian and Euclidean mechanics only to indicate that they are theories that have been superseded?
The discipline should be named after the idea not the person. This is not engineering, this is science. Darwin did not invent evolution, he discovered it.
All the best
I use the term “Darwinian algorithm” when referring to the mindless design process said algorithm exemplifies. That doesn’t make me a Darwinian any more then I’m a Kruskalian when I refer to Kruskal’s algorithm.
I read the Safina article (that is, I began reading it, and when I realized what it was – er, what’s the term for actually just rubbing your belly when you think you’re wanking?, I just stopped reading and dismissed it.
I guess it’s a good thing that such balderdash gets a smackdown; it’s just that this eternal vigilance thing is such a pain in the ass. Always with the same old shit needing smackdowns, and ifn’ someone won’t do the smackdown, the infection will grow, perhaps exponentially for a while, making things even harder in the end.
Reading minds? Levitation? You must have STRONG (Darwin) kung fu!
In all seriousness, I respect Safina which makes it troubling that he equates enthusiasm with ecstasy.
If you can’t turn the see-through-clothes power on and off, it turns out to be a real buzzkill.
And it’s not, it’s called “evolutionary biology”. What’s up with all the people swallowing Safina’s strawman?
*No, not our Brownian. The other one.
Y’see, that’s why you can’t levitate yet. Levitation isn’t anything to do with Intelligent Falling; it’s more like Intelligent NOT Falling. Look at it in those terms and see if you have more success.
John Phillips, FCD says
I like it LOL.
Should we cue the theremin? Ooo-wee-ee-ooo!
Sven DiMilo says
I am planning my next levitation for April 25, when hopefully the entire Madison Square Garden will be lifted. Although our patron saint (St. Jerome of Winterland) can no longer be present in the flesh, nevertheless we expect his vaporous low-pH presence to make itself felt.
Scott Hatfield, OM says
Re # 5:
The preternaturally sagacious Blake Stacey writes
It’s useful to be able to observe that when a person calls evolutionary biology “Darwinism”, they’re most likely either a Britisher speaking out of national pride or a creationist babbling out of ignorance.
I not only agree with Blake, PZ, I think you and Coyne are completely missing the point.
The creationist literature routinely refers to our discipline as ‘Darwinism’. The fact that people outside of North America still occasionally use this as a gloss for ‘the theory of evolution by natural selection’ does not change the fact that the most popular usage of this term is the one that implies (incorrectly) that we ‘believe’ in evolution, that we venerate a Saint called Darwin.
I say, let’s honor Charles Darwin as the great genius he is, and let’s talk up evolution by natural selection, which provides the explanatory framework to unify the biological sciences….but let’s leave terms like ‘Darwinist’ and ‘evolutionist’ as the crude projection of religiously-motivated meddlers.
k thnx bai!
I posted something similar on Jerry Coyne’s blog, but I’ll post it again here anyway.
Does anyone truly think by removing the word Darwinism that it will make even the slightest bit of difference in the creationist attacks on evolutionary theory and those who adhere to it? In the same spirit as those who label people who accept evolution “Darwinists” the exact same inference is used on the word “evolutionists”.
No matter what we call evolution, the same arguments will be used. It will be dismissed as another religion, the same rumours about Charles Darwin will persist, The Origin Of Species will still be seen as the same authoritative textbook, and evolution will be called “just a theory” in the most colloquial sense of the word.
There are perhaps good reasons to shy away from calling modern evolutionary theory “darwinism” but those do not involve the creationist rhetoric at all. It seems nothing short of reactionary to suggest that the name is the problem, much like those who blame atheists for getting people to shy away from evolution.
Like Kel, I have my doubts it’d make any difference to creationist babbling. If we’re going to remove the term ‘Darwinism’ from the lexicon we might as well think of another word to replace ‘theory’ because if we don’t the stupid and/or ignorant are always going to say that it’s ‘only a theory’.
For the record, I don’t like the word Darwinism, nor do I use it. At best I talk about Darwinian evolution as a means to distinguish it from other forms of evolution (e.g. Lamarkian, theistic, Lysenkoism) but really I find it a useless term. I don’t call myself an Einsteinian when it comes to space-time, why would I call myself a Darwinist when it comes to evolution?
Michael X says
So Wowbagger @26,
Are you saying I have to take down my Brownian Shrine? Do you have any idea how long it took to put one up?
Scott Hatfield, OM says
And, for the record, I see nothing wrong with the word ‘Darwinian’, either, nor do I think that eschewing the word ‘Darwinism’ is going to make the charge of ‘evolution-as-religion’ go away, either.
But emphasizing ‘evolutionary biology’ as the name of our discipline, and separating same from Uncle Chuck’s sobriquet will have the salutary effect of casting a sharper contrast on those who wax bitterly about ‘Darwinists’.
Here’s an observation to set my claim in stark relief, a list of the top 20 titles from Amazon.com with the word ‘Darwinism’ in the title whose central focus is biological evolution (I’ve omitted irrelevant titles, like Richard Hofstadter’s ‘Social Darwinism in American Thought’.)
1) Darwinism and Its Discontents (Michael Ruse)
2) Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds (Philip Johnson)
3) Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Jonathan Wells)
4) Exposing Darwinism’s Weak Link (Poppe)
5) Darwinism (Wallace)
6) Shattering the Myths of Darwinism (Milton)
7) Reclaiming Science From Darwinism (Poppe)
8) Darwinism and Philosophy (Hosle and Islies)
9) Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism) (Behe)
10) Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists (Wiker and Dembski)
11) Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism (Perloff)
12) Darwinism Evolving (Pew and Weber)
13) Neural Darwinism (Edelman)
14) Darwinism Comes To America (Numbers)
15) Darwinism and the Divine in America (Roberts)
16) Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (Rachels)
17) Disseminating Darwinism (Numbers and Stenhouse)
18) Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals who find Darwinism Unconvincing (Wilson and Dembski)
19) Darwinism Under the Microscope (Gills and Woodward)
20) Darwinism Applied to Social Goals (Beckstrom)
Three (1,8, 16) are works in the philosophy of biology. Ruse’s work also covers much of the history of the ‘evo-creo wars’, as does 12, 14, 15, and 17.
Wallace’s book (5) is basically of historical interest, a facsimile of an 1889 publication.
So how many books does that leave with ‘Darwinism’ in the title that are contemporary science books, instead of polemics or treatises motivated by interests in history, religion or philosophy?
Three (5, 12, 13 and 20). Of these, 12, 13 and 20 are not concerned principally with documenting or describing mainstream evolutionary biology, but with applications of evolutionary concepts to (respectively) complex adaptive systems, brain function and the social sciences.
The remaining ten, fully half of the twenty, are creationist screeds, mainly from Discovery Institute stooges. It is worth noting, as well, that these wastes of ink represent seven of the first ten.
I get similar results from searches for ‘evolutionism’, ‘Darwinist’ and ‘evolutionist’. Very few titles having anything to do with contemporary science. Much about the history and philosophy of biology, discussions of ‘social Darwinism’ and (of course), a considerable number of Bible-based batshit.
So I think, really, I’ve made my point. ‘Darwinism’ has been hopelessly coopted, primarily by the creationists and secondarily by the various academics who study either the historical or present ‘controversies’ engendered by the cottage industry of creationism within the churches. It can no longer serve a legitimate scientific usage in North America. Let it go, and let those who use it to attack science be forced to wear it, like Cain’s mark.
Isn’t that happening already though? The only time I’ve ever heard the word Darwinist or Darwinian in science shows or in books is the use of the word by Dawkins, beyond that it seems used in academic circles to distinguish between those who put a greater focus on natural selection as the driving force of nature. While the former is unhelpful (especially given Dawkins’ position as a high-profile atheist) the latter would never be seen or heard by those who harp on the word.
Pete Moulton says
Deepsix @16: “At what level do we get to see through clothes? That’s all I really care about.”
Thanks a lot, Deepsix. I’ll be cleaning coffee out of my keyboard for the next week!
BTW, it’s after midnight here in the Desert Southwest, so Happy 200th, Charlie D, and a Happy Monkey to all Pharyngulites!
So it seems that Safina was bravely attacking a nearly non-existent problem, doesn’t it?
Very well said, Scott (#31,#36).
Steven Sullivan says
“So I think, really, I’ve made my point. ‘Darwinism’ has been hopelessly coopted, primarily by the creationists and secondarily by the various academics who study either the historical or present ‘controversies’ engendered by the cottage industry of creationism within the churches.”
It was a *terrible* essay, if it was attempting to argue what you claim.
Safina’s essay was so poorly argued that the ‘lay reader’ could come away with it thinking that *biologists* proclaim a cult or ‘ideology’ of ‘Darwinism’; that biologists ‘equate’ Darwin with evolution. You and I know they do not, not even Dawkins, who uses the term ‘Darwinism’. Safina didn’t make it crystal clear that negative connotation attached to the word “Darwinism” today is *entirely* the work of creationist nutters.
'Tis Himself says
Scott Hatfield, OM #35
A little revisionist numberism going on.
To summarize material that I agree with in my interpretation of the serious part of the above:
*Explanation: Sort of like “biotch,” like creationist creep or something.