Discoveroids: “No Facts, Please, We’re Creationists”

THE neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) have a revealing new article up at their blog: Are Chimps and Humans Really All That Much Alike?

This thing is written by Jay Richards, a name we haven’t paid attention to before. His Wikipedia entry describes him as a Discoveroid program director (whatever that is). Here are some excerpts from his blog article, with bold added by us:

A popular Darwinian meme is that humans and chimp genomes are ninety-something percent identical. It varies a bit, but usually hovers close to 99%. The meme hides all sorts of assumptions, of course, but the take home lesson for the headline reader is plain enough: we’re almost exactly the same as chimps.

“Darwinian meme.” Okay. Let’s read on:

But evidence seems to be piling up that the similarities are not nearly what has been advertised. Geneticist Richard Buggs has reflected on this, and has even predicted “that when we have a reliable, complete chimpanzee genome, the overall similarity of the human genome will prove to be close to 70% (and very far from 99%).”

What’s that prediction based on — the unspecified evidence that “seems to be piling up”? And who is Richard Buggs? Let’s find out.

Richard Buggs appears to be an evolutionary biologist. But a bit of searching reveals that he may have a wild side. The Wikipedia article on a UK group named Truth in Science describes it as a group that wants intelligent design taught alongside evolution in school science lessons. That article mentions that Richard Buggs is connected to the group, and he’s a fan of the bacterial flagellum “mystery” so beloved by Discoveroids like Michael Behe. This bears further investigation.

We visited the website of Truth in Science. A search there for the name “Richard Buggs” produces 3 hits, including this: ID Debate in Liverpool, which mentions that “Richard Buggs of Truth in Science” gave the pro-ID side of the of the debate about whether ID should be taught in the schools. Ah, here’s his presentation, and he’s described as being “on the Scientific Panel of Truth in Science.” So that’s Richard Buggs.

Sorry about the diversion, but we like to know who these people are. Hey, things aren’t necessarily hopeless in the UK. We recently learned of a pro-science organization that seems to be on the right track. Check out Just Science. Their Mission Statement starts out by saying: “We are a UK based group that believes that science alone should be taught in science class.”

Okay, enough diversions. We continue with the Discoveroid article:

It will be interesting to see how Buggs’ prediction holds up over time. If he’s right, this will be one more switch from “meme” to “myth” in the Darwinian ledger.

That’s Buggs’ prediction that compared to the chimp’s genome, “the overall similarity of the human genome will prove to be close to 70% (and very far from 99%).” We’ll see if Buggs comes up with any data. While we’re waiting for that (and it may be a long wait) here’s more from the Discoveroid blog article:

I should confess that I haven’t followed this [chimp-human DNA] debate closely, simply because I don’t think that the meme, even if true, really shows much. Here’s what I mean.

We know what he means. What the Discoveroid is telling us is that he doesn’t really care what the evidence shows. His mind is made up that regardless of the striking similarity in the genome of chimps and humans, there’s no evolutionary relationship between them. But let’s read what the Discoveroid means in his own words:

If somebody told me we were 100% chemically identical with chimps, I would conclude that we must be a lot more than mere chemicals, since chimps and humans are quite different.

We plucked that out of a large paragraph, so you may want to read all of it to be certain that we’ve presented the Discoveroid’s position correctly.

What do we make of it? It’s this: To a Discoveroid, or to any other creationist, objectively verifiable facts don’t really matter. Evolution is false, period. We’re not related to chimps, period.

But, but … if all the data show that we are biologically related to chimps (as distant cousins), then why aren’t we? The Discoveroid doesn’t say, but we know their answer, don’t we? It’s the magical mystery designer — Oogity Boogity! That’s the “science” of the Discoveroids. That’s the “theory” they want jammed into the science classes of public schools.

What if they win and we all start thinking like Discoveroids? Then we’ll be even closer to our chimp cousins than we are now. Until that day comes, some of us will continue to think like humans. And that means opposing the creationists at every opportunity.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Discoveroids: “No Facts, Please, We’re Creationists”

  1. Unlike Creationists, I have no difficulty in either recognising or accepting the fact that I am, indeed, kin to a chimpanzee.

    It does pain me, however, to admit that I am also thereby kin to Creationists…

  2. Great Claw says: “… I am also thereby kin to Creationists…

    Hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere, and no amount of micro or macro evolution is gonna make me kin to them.

  3. The Discovery Institute’s page for Mr. Richards ( ) says, “Jay Wesley Richards has a Ph.D.(honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary…”

    Typical of IDers to have theologians/philosophers make pronouncements about scientific subjects. Yeah, I’m convinced.

  4. I’ll go even further, I am a chimp.

    Because there are so many ways to compare the genome, the entire genome, just genes, copies of genes, shared ERVs, the list goes on, I have no doubt this IDiot will find some way to come up with 70%.

    When he does, I would like to take his technique and apply it to differences between male and female humans. I’m sure it would be less than 70%.

  5. I also note that the link to Mr. Boggs that Mr. Richards gives makes no mention of the quote Mr. Richards attributes to him. Where did it come from? In fact, everything on Mr. Boggs’ page seems to indicate that he only studies plants. Couldn’t Mr. Richards find an ‘incriminating’ quote from anyone who studies the chimpanzee/human genomes?

  6. Tundra Boy admits: “I am a chimp.”

    I cannot dispute that.

  7. Gabriel Hanna

    Since dandelions share about 50% with us I don’t think this guy is going to be able to prove that humans and chimps only share 70%.

    What they do have a point is that the 99% figure is taken to mean far than it does, if we’re 50% similar to dandelions and 80% similar to squids than the percentage of DNA is not a very meaningful measure of relatedness. Clearly those small differences are hugely important.

    What might be better is a figure that emphasizes the difference and not the sameness. So, instead of talking about the fraction x that we share with an organism, why not use a measure like 1 / (1 – x), call it the “relatedness”? This would give a much better idea:

    Dandelions: x = 0.5, 1 / (1 – x) = 2
    Squids: x = 0.8, (1 / (1-x)) = 5
    Chimps x = 0.99, (1/(1-x)) = 100

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    Oops, the ln shouldn’t be in that post above.

    Anyway, my point is that percentages are not the correct baseline to emphasize the differences.

    We want to show that humans and chimps are much closer to each other than either is to squids or horses or dandelions.

  9. A Discoveroid would not be a Discoveroid unless he suggested that the difference between (pick any 2 species) cannot arise by “RM + NS.” What we don’t know, with the exception of Michael Behe and a few other minor players, is whether they think that whatever “other process” led to (pick any 2 species), did it occur “in-vivo” via common ancestors, or dit it require separate origin-of-life events for the 2 lineages. Behe is clear that it’s the former, yet not one major player has to my knowledge ever clearly preferred the latter (weasel words to pander to their Biblical creationist base don’t count).

    Let’s keep reminding their not-so-hopeless fans of that.

  10. Gabriel Hanna says: “Oops, the ln shouldn’t be in that post above.”

    I removed it from the expressions for squids and for chimps. Is that what you wanted?


  12. retiredsciguy

    Hell, squids are more intelligent than creationists.

  13. Now see here, you wicked Darwinists — if evolution were true, you could make several predictions. For one, if human beings evolved from something else instead of being specially created, there would all kinds of related forms both living and extinct that would resemble humans more closely than other animals. (Like having forepaws that resemble hands to the point of having fingers with fingernails instead of claws.) Since man is the most intelligent of creatures, these hypothetical related forms would probably also be among the brighter animals. Since people came out of Africa, the related forms would likely still be there. There might even be some genetic defect common to human beings and the conjectured related forms that originated in some species ancestral to man and the cousins but is rare or non-existent in other animals. Creationism, on the other hand, would predict Man being special and nothing else quite like him. Now, which is the actual reality of the world, Beagle boys?

    Japery aside, Linnaeus was aware of the obvious similarities as far back as the 1700s when he put humans in with the apes as primates. When the Creationists have to make their desperate last stand disputing the fine degree of genetic similarity when a casual trip to the zoo should be enough to resolve the issue, it shows how weak their case is.

    The question for Creationists should be — If Man was created outright, why are there apes and monkeys *at all*?

  14. Deklane: “The question for Creationists should be — If Man was created outright, why are there apes and monkeys *at all*?”

    C’mon, you know that might stump some of the rank-and-file, but the activists have well-rehearsed non-answers.

    The questions that make activists squirm is “Some of your ‘kind’ have conceded that, evolution or not, humans and chimps share common ancestors. Do you agree? If not, have you challenged them directly, and if not why not?” They have well-rehearsed non-answers for that too, but are clearly less comfortable with those questions.

  15. Deklane says:

    The question for Creationists should be — If Man was created outright, why are there apes and monkeys *at all*?

    Right. Were special creation a fact, we’d be in the same situation as human castaways on some other planet, with nothing even remotely related to us.

  16. Hey, hey, hey. Michael and retiredsciguy, please don’t insult the chimps and squids. Some of these creationist could lose a battle of wits with a toadstool.

  17. And quit insulting the magic mushrooms.

  18. Hey, I said the creationist would lose…

  19. This “as low as 70%” rationale is in the wikipedia article “human evolutionary genetics” under the subheading “sequence divergence between humans and apes”. It confused me, so I searched and found this site…
    Should I be losing faith in Wikipedia?