Dembski’s Delusion and Dishonesty Detector

Last night, I saw this video where a trio of Evilutionists romped through a memelist written by a teenager raised on Tumblr quizzes and mocking it.

Oops, no. It’s a 40 question questionnaire written by un-esteemed old crank, William Dembski, which purports to reveal your degree of devotion to the dogma of Darwin. It’s far more revealing of the ignorance of the twit who composed it than anything else. You don’t have to watch the video to deal with this childish test: take it here. It’s bad.

Each item consists of two statements, one being what a creationist imagines an evolutionary biologist believes, and one being what the creationist imagines is actually true. For instance,

•Evolution in the sense that all present-day organisms arose from one or a few ancestors (common descent) is now a proven fact.#
•Evolution in that sense is still an unproven hypothesis.

The one with the # symbol is always the evilutionist position, in Dembski’s mind. In this case, he gets it right, except that I don’t like the word “proven”. It is a fact, though, supported by the molecular evidence.

Other statements get it thoroughly wrong.

•The theory of natural selection (i.e., retention of chance variations) adequately explains common descent.#
•Even assuming full-blown evolution to be a fact, the theory of natural selection does not adequately explain it.

Nope, selection is not sufficient. What about mutation, drift, recombination, and most trivially, that cell division is a binary process? We are all children of our parents.

Others expose creationist misconceptions.

•The concept of “junk DNA” was a major scientific blunder directly attributable to Darwinian thinking.
•Darwinian thinking advanced science by correctly characterizing non-coding DNA regions as “junk DNA.”#

No biologist ever thought non-coding was synonymous with junk. That’s the false idea promoted by creationists.

Others are just plain weird.

•The motivations of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice cannot be understood at the deepest level without a knowledge of evolutionary theory.#
•Jane Austen had no need of evolutionary theory to understand human motivations at the deepest level relevant to literature.

Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813, when Charles Darwin was 4 years old.

It’s just badly designed, too. Each question has the “incorrect” choice marked with that # symbol, so a creationist can march through, selecting the answer without the # and get a perfect creationist score; if you’re a biologist, you’re often going to be stumped because both options are wrong. Would you believe this “test” was designed for an educational website?

James Barham and I developed this questionnaire some years back for an educational website. To appease the search engines, the website eventually dropped it. Lightly dusted off, it is presented here. The questionnaire provides a useful mirror for understanding the influence of Darwinian ideas on our lives and culture.

It’s more of a mirror for letting creationists see what they want to see. Evolutionary biologists (not “Darwinists”) are invisible in it.

Flawless slasher movie content

We were strolling in the garden, and noticed that the place was full of horny pollinators. If they weren’t eating, they were fornicating.

It was like hanging out with teenagers. And I thought, if this was a 70s teen horror movie, what should I see next? And I was right.

If I were a spider, I’d want to just hang out in flowers and wait for those obnoxious teenagers to stop by. It’s the perfect place to find distracted prey.

The University of Minnesota panders to genocide

It’s inarguable that a state-sponsored genocide is taking place in Gaza. There are people who are experts in genocide (that’s the saddest specialization ever), like Francesca Albanese, who states the consensus view.

Citing international law, Ms. Albanese explained that genocide is defined as a specific set of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

“Specifically, Israel has committed three acts of genocide with the requisite intent: causing seriously serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, and imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group,” she said.

Furthermore, “the genocide in Gaza is the most extreme stage of a long-standing settler colonial process of erasure of the native Palestinians,” she continued.

Another expert, Raz Segal, explains how the actions in Israel constitute genocide.

Raz Segal, the program director of genocide studies at Stockton University, concretely says it is a “textbook case of genocide.” Segal believes that Israeli forces are completing three genocidal acts, including, “killing, causing serious bodily harm, and measures calculated to bring about the destruction of the group.” He points to the mass levels of destruction and total siege of basic necessities—like water, food, fuel, and medical supplies—as evidence.

He says Israeli leaders expressed “explicit, clear, and direct statements of intent,” pointing to Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s statement during an Oct. 13 press conference. In his statement, Herzog said, “It’s an entire nation that is out there that’s responsible. It’s not true, this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true,” Herzog said. “They could have risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.” (Herzog later said that he is not holding the civilians of Gaza responsible for keeping Hamas in political power, when asked to clarify by a journalist at the same press conference.) Segal says that this language conflates all Palestinians as “an enemy population,” which could help prove intent.

Segal calls it a textbook case of genocide.

Indeed, Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza is quite explicit, open, and unashamed. Perpetrators of genocide usually do not express their intentions so clearly, though there are exceptions. In the early 20th century, for example, German colonial occupiers perpetrated a genocide in response to an uprising by the Indigenous Herero and Nama populations in southwest Africa. In 1904, General Lothar von Trotha, the German military commander, issued an “extermination order,” justified by the rationale of a “race war.” By 1908, the German authorities had murdered 10,000 Nama, and had achieved their stated goal of “destroying the Herero,” killing 65,000 Herero, 80% of the population. Gallant’s orders on October 9th were no less explicit. Israel’s goal is to destroy the Palestinians of Gaza. And those of us watching around the world are derelict in our responsibility to prevent them from doing so.

You know, the University of Minnesota also has a Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, but they’re not quite so outspoken, for a very good reason. You can be fired in Minnesota if you speak the truth about Israel’s ongoing genocide…or at the very least, you can be denied employment here. Raz Segal — you know, the scholar I quoted up above — was set to be the director of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, but the job offer was abruptly retracted, specifically because of that “textbook case of genocide” article.

A professor who wrote days after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks that Israel’s military operation against Hamas in Gaza was “a textbook case of genocide” has had his offer to head University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies revoked after two members of the center’s advisory board resigned in protest last Friday and several Jewish leaders voiced their concerns.

Jeff Ettinger, the interim president of the University of Minnesota, said during a Friday morning Board of Regents meeting that Joe Eggers, the interim director of the center, would remain in the position as a new director search is conducted. Ettinger noted that the search process may extend until 2025 or 2026.

The official withdrawal of Raz Segal’s job offer came after a pause was announced on Monday amid increased scrutiny of Segal’s comments on Israel, Jewish Insider was first to learn.

I always figured Ettinger would be a chickenshit tool of business interests, uninterested in scholarly integrity.

We actually have Segal’s own account of what happened.

What happened is that there was a completely regular hiring process in a public university. There was a public announcement of the job. There were applications. There were Zoom interviews. There were campus visits. There was actually significant community engagement also during this process. And then, eventually, the search committee deliberated and made a recommendation to hire me to the interim dean, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. I was then, on the 5th of June, sent an official job offer.

And then, as you described, two professors who were formerly on the advisory committee of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota resigned and, together with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, put a lot of pressure, which was really a hateful campaign of lies and distortions against me and based on their political position in support of Israel. And on 10th of June — so within days, right? — the interim president of the University of Minnesota sent me an email withdrawing the job offer.

He goes on to explain what Ettinger said was the reason, and why that’s a contemptible act of cowardice.

He said that due to the public-facing role of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and its director, community members have come forward with some concerns. And that was given as the reason for the withdrawal. And it’s important to say, of course, that this is a crude and very dangerous political — the legitimization — right? — of a political interference in an absolutely legitimate hiring process in a public university. It’s, you know, completely unacceptable that a political pressure group, the JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas here, and a political position, of support of Zionism and the state of Israel — right? — especially, of course, at a time when Israel is committing the crime of genocide for eight months now, right? But regardless, actually, any political position, any pressure group is not a criteria — should not the defining factor in a hiring process, and certainly once an official job offer has been made.

This actually might be a case of discrimination, because I’m targeted here specifically as an Israeli American Jew, and I’m targeted because of my identity as a Jew who refuses the narrowing down of Jewish identity to Zionism and to support of Israel, whatever it does, which is the position of the JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas in its claim to speak for all Jews in the Twin Cities, which is absolutely false. I mean, I’ve received hundreds, hundreds of emails in support, including from many Jews in the Twin Cities, who say explicitly that the JCRC does not speak for them, does not represent them. A community letter from within and outside the university in Twin Cities, again including many, many Jews, have now attracted more than 500 signatures. There’s also a letter of scholars from around the world, including many in the University of Minnesota, of course, that has attracted about a thousand signatures, maybe a bit more, in support of me. So, this idea that the JCRC speaks for all Jews — right? — is absolutely false.

But again, this kind of crude political intervention in the hiring process, and its legitimization by the university, is extremely dangerous. It joins this attack that we’re seeing in the academic world, that has intensified since October, of really suppressing academic freedom. And this is a very, very dangerous sign. That’s the reason that students and faculty members across the University of Minnesota, not only in the College of Liberal Arts, are furious at this decision of their interim president and are not willing to accept it.

We’re missing out here, and that’s a black mark against the University of Minnesota. All it takes is a vocal conservative group complaining to craven caretaker president, and boom, we lose a prominent scholar.

Chris Rufo has failed so far

Do you have a positive or negative opinion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives? The right has been howling up a storm, claiming that DEI is a bad, wicked thing and hitching all kinds of anti-DEI campaigns to that idea.

It hasn’t worked. A Post-Ipsos poll asked what people’s attitudes towards DEI were, and a majority said it was a good thing.

The numbers also went up when the pollsters explained what DEI actually meant, which tells us that there’s a lot of bias and misinformation out there. Turn off Fox News, everyone!


I got some crickets today, and it’s clear that that’s what black widows prefer to eat. Here’s the view one minute after tossing a cricket into their lair.

Yes, I have a skull in the container. For drama.

It was a quick death. The cricket bumbled about, bumping into the thicket of silk strands throughout the space, and the spider scuttled down, gave it one quick bite, and the battle was over. The spider is near the top center of the photo, with the motionless belly of the dead cricket below it, in the jungle of moss. It tried to hide, a futile effort given the tangle of silk everywhere and the potency of the venom.

Tradwives rising, rising, rising…falling, falling, falling

I’m hoping that the right-wing troll economy is bottoming out. We’re living with the dregs of a few decades of far-right hyperbole generating wealth from rage clicks, but Alex Jones is being taken to the cleaners at last, Tucker Carlson has been banished from Fox News, Steve Bannon is going to jail — maybe people will start realizing that outrageous hate is only going to tap the wallets of a minority of bigots, and that has some downsides. Still, that’s a fruitful line of grift, since the subjects are all gullible and delusional.

The latest goofy grift is tradwives: women who put on dresses and makeup and go online with videos about how they really love staying at home, taking care of their man, cooking and cleaning and popping out babies (the babies are usually not in the videos — they’re catering to men who don’t want the tedium of dealing with actual children, that’s what women are for.) It seems there is a strong market among conservatives for subservient women who are content to be servile.

There is a contradiction in that, since why are these women, who are supposed to be quietly working in the kitchen and bedroom, using media to become popular with the public? No worries, conservatives have been soaking in that contradiction since the days of Phyllis Schlafly.

Is it possible, though, that they can go too far, breaking the illusion? Maybe not — the segment of the public that was unable to see through Andrew Tate’s bullshit may be impervious to reason — but one tradwife, Lilly Gaddis, recently pushed the limits by being too transparently trollish. Amanda Marcotte explains her breakthrough moment:

In the video, Gaddis is decked out in the standard tradwife gear of a cleavage-baring sundress and a cross necklace to justify the sexualized marketing. She is vaguely arranging food while providing a rant tailor-made to tickle the reactionary male brain. She accuses immigrants and Black women of being “gold-diggers,” while insisting Christian white girls like herself will love you, pathetic male viewer, solely for your masculine might, even if you are “broke.” She is going for maximum shock value, dropping not just the n-word, but other five-dollar curses that are clearly meant to to offer a transgressive thrill, coming from a young woman playing at being a more scantily clad June Cleaver.

Some people are trying to defend her by saying she accidentally dropped some racial slurs, but how do you do that by mistake? This was an intentional ploy, and she later confirmed it by arranging interviews on Alex Jones’ show and by promoting Nick Fuentes. Being one attractive women among many making Christmas cookies is not going to make you stand out; being the attractive woman making cookies while damning immigrants with racial epithets is distinctive. For now. The next Lilly Gaddis is going to have to up her game and do much worse.

This wannabe Christian influencer is so obviously out for attention, so it’s tempting to ignore this story in hopes of not letting her have it. Still, Gaddis is an important illustration of the vicious cycle of greed and far-right radicalism driven by the social media ecosystem. The field of strivers wishing to be America’s next top troll is growing faster than can be maintained by the existing audience of incels, white supremacists and other miscreants radicalized online. Becoming the next big thing means attracting the coin of the authoritarian realm: liberal outrage. Yet as liberals get numb to the constant barrage of fascist provocation, the trolls have no choice but to up the ante. So this is how we get a woman in an apron pretending to cook on TikTok while dropping the most notorious of racial slurs.

I’d like to think it can’t go much further before the whole grift disintegrates as a parody of itself, but there is a real segment of the populace that falls for “influencers” all the time, and by their nature seem to be stupid enough to favor far-right bigotry. It’s promising, though, that Lilly Gaddis was fired from her job and banned from Tik Tok, so maybe she’s going to flame out and fall back into the obscurity she deserves.