THE neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) have done us all a big favor. They’ve summarized the strong points for their assault on the theory of evolution.
This brief article appears at the Discoveroid blog: Just to Recap. We assume it’s in the nature of a progress report, to inform the world — and the Discoveroids’ generous contributors — of how much they’ve accomplished in the pursuit of their wedge strategy.
According to information available at this website (search for “Discovery Institute” in “WA” for Washington state), for fiscal years 2002 through 2006 the Discoveroids have burned through $14.6 million — and presumably millions more since 2006. Thus our title. We assume they don’t spend it all promoting creationism, but our guess is that’s where most of it goes.
Here’s the entire Discoveroid post, including their links. Below we’ll briefly discuss these scientific triumphs (or evolutionary setbacks), or whatever they may be:
Darwin was wrong.
Missing links still missing.
There is no such thing as junk DNA.
Birds did not descend from Dinosaurs.
Irreducible complexity is still irreducibly complex.
Tiktaalik has been invalidated by an earlier ancestor.
Haeckel’s embryo drawings are still fake (and still in textbooks).
Yet, evolution is a fact?
That’s their whole post — their “recap.” It’s amazing what a dedicated group can accomplish with about $20 million to spend.
Before we give you our response, we should repeat what we’ve said before about never engaging in a live debate with a creationist: Debate rules often look deceptively fair — each side takes turns, and for each round the parties are given equal time. That sounds lovely, but creationists typically use their time to make numerous rapid-fire claims, often cleverly erroneous, all spewed out in a barrage that is impossible to rebut in the time allowed.
We’re not doing this verbally in front of an audience, so we have all the time we want to take. But if this were a live debate, imagine how it would go. The Discoveroid blog made seven deceptively simple-looking points that could have been recited in a minute or two. What would you do, dear reader, with equal time for rebuttal?
Although we have time, rebutting each of the Discoveroid points is a chore — far more work than the situation justifies. It’s like wasting valuable time debating a flat-earther. Therefore we’re not going to give a thorough reply to each point, and we’ll even ignore a few.
The main reason we’re posting about this is to emphasize just what it is that the Discoveroids have to boast about for all their time and effort — and all the money they’ve spent. When you look at their list, they can’t boast about very much. In fact, they’ve got nothing.
Okay, here we go:
1. Darwin was wrong. The Discoveroid link takes you to an unfortunately stupid magazine cover, which was widely criticized at the time of its publication. These two articles in Panda’s Thumb should give you the general idea: The Trouble With Science Journalism and also New Scientist ignores its own story. Notwithstanding that the story in New Scientist doesn’t justify their silly cover, the typical Discoveroid fan won’t bother to think it through.
2. Missing links still missing. They’re referring to media hype about the fossil named Ida. We wrote about this at the time. See Media Hype About “Darwinius Masillae”. It was a neat find, but not the holy grail that the press claimed it to be. It does nothing to contradict the theory of evolution, and it’s really not worth mentioning — unless you’re a creationist with nothing else to talk about. Actually, the concept of “the missing link” is every bit as obsolete as the philosopher’s stone.
3. There is no such thing as junk DNA. The Discoveroid link is to an article where some portion of “junk DNA” in a lowly pond-dwelling protozoan was found to have a function. This is not a terribly surprising discovery. It’s a long way from fulfilling Discoveroid Casey Luskin’s bold prediction that all so-called junk DNA will be found to have a purpose (because the Designer wouldn’t do it any other way). We wrote about that here: Discovery Institute: Astounding Stupidity.
4. Birds did not descend from Dinosaurs. Too worthless for us to bother with.
5. Irreducible complexity is still irreducibly complex. Likewise, we won’t bother with this one either.
6. Tiktaalik has been invalidated by an earlier ancestor. This one is tragic. There are two parts to it. First, an older and better preserved fossil like Tiktaalik was found, and Casey claimed that somehow this meant that the first discovery was a scientific blunder. We wrote about that here: Tiktaalik — a “Fraudulent” Transitional Fossil. Then, some other four-legged land vertebrate fossil was discovered, a bit older than Tiktaalik. That, not Casey’s “discredited” Tiktaalik, is now the Discoveroids’ evolution-killer. (Although how this disproves evolution remains a mystery.)
7. Haeckel’s embryo drawings are still fake. This is an ancient canard. It’s dealt with in the Index to Creationist Claims.
So there you are, the Discoveroids’ hall of fame. Note, dear reader, that nothing on their list of creationist “victories” was the work of the Discoveroids. Their principal function is public relations, not science.
But we’re left with one burning question: Given the quality of the Discoveroid list, why did they leave out the downfall of Piltdown Man?
Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
Their principal function is public relations, not science.
Actually, I would say that their principal function is apologetics, not PR. They are almost the same thing these days though.
Rev. Reinard says: “Actually, I would say that their principal function is apologetics, not PR.”
It may appear so, but apologetics can be done with integrity. That’s true of public relations too. Neither term captures the nature of creationism, which is inherently dishonest. We don’t have a word for it, but creationists do the same kind of work as the Ministry of Truth in 1984. Maybe “spin” comes close.
The Curmudgeon notes
I don’t disagree, though I am starting to wonder if ‘insanely delusional’ isn’t a better fit than merely dishonest.
In the Discoveroid screed above, their “Tiktaalik has been invalidated by an earlier ancestor” point is genuinely insane. Imagine someone on trial for fatally shooting someone else, but the best his attorney can manage for his defence is, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client is innocent of the fatal shooting as he in fact had given the victim a lethal dose of a slow-acting poison a full week before!”
Curmudgeon: “Debate rules often look deceptively fair — each side takes turns, and for each round the parties are given equal time. That sounds lovely, but creationists typically use their time to make numerous rapid-fire claims, often cleverly erroneous, all spewed out in a barrage that is impossible to rebut in the time allowed.”
That’s exactly the strategy that they want to implement in high school science class. When anyone objects, they have the chutzpah to pretend that it’s “censorship,” when in fact it is their strategy that is, for all intents and purposes, censorship.
Funny that you mention “Index to Creationist Claims” (also available as a book “The Counter Creationism Handbook”). If anti-evolution activists truly wanted students to learn all the “weaknesses” evolution, that would be the resource they would tout. All the “weaknesses” are there – along with a critical analysis of each.
Frank J says:
Very good idea.
>”Although we have time, rebutting each of the Discoveroid points is a chore …”
A chore indeed. Thanks for taking out the trash!
Tomato Addict says: “Thanks for taking out the trash!”
It’s the most secure job in the world. Always more work to be done.
Curmy says, “It’s the most secure job in the world. Always more work to be done.”
Too bad you’re not paid comenserately. By the way, nice new logo, Superman. Fits your role better than the old one. Of course, he didn’t get paid, either (other than as a reporter).
retiredsciguy says: “By the way, nice new logo, Superman.”
Faster than a speeding email,
More powerful than then Google web search
Able to leap Creationist lies in a single bound
LOOK! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird …
It’s plane …
Supermudgeon! I like it!