Klinghoffer: It’s All About Story-Telling

Once again, we’re confronted with an article by David Klinghoffer, whose creationist oeuvre we last described here, and upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist.

Neither a lawyer nor a fallen scientist, Klinghoffer plays the role of house mystic — a convenient guise for a retained essayist whose principal job is to enthusiastically function as an unrestrained journalistic slasher whenever his creationist masters assign him to the task. He’s very useful to the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

Klinghoffer’s latest at the Discoveroids’ blog is If You Want a Good Story, Look to Darwinian Evolution, Not Intelligent Design. It’s mostly about nit-picking some articles by others, and we won’t bother with that. Someone wrote that evolution “lacks the universal grammar of storytelling,” so it doesn’t connect emotionally with people. Silly stuff. But what we find interesting is what Klinghoffer has to say about his own thinking — such as it is. It’s quite revealing, if one cares to think about it. Here we go, with bold font added by us:

The intention [of the “storytelling” concept], of course, is to patronize evolution skeptics. We can’t get over our need to hear a good story, a need that in turn is “wired” in the brain.

We don’t “patronize” creationists around here. Ridicule is more our style. Klinghoffer continues:

You may have noticed something, however, about intelligent design. It tells an even lousier story than Darwinian evolution. Unlike Darwinism or Biblical creationism, it offers a narrative full of questions that remain unanswered. There’s a general drift to it: the evidence points to intelligence and purpose at work in guiding life’s history. But beyond that, all the elements of storytelling — who?, what?, where?, when? — are the subject of debate and uncertainty. How were the designs we observe actually instantiated? Not clear at all.

Actually, we have noticed that. ID has nothing to say about anything, except that Darwin was a wicked man and some things “seem” to be designed, therefore they “must be” designed. Anything remotely resembling science is manifestly lacking. Let’s read on:

But that’s the way of the truth, isn’t it. Falsehood tends to offer smooth story lines, whether including a protagonist or not, while airbrushing out all the ambiguities and doubts. We’ve got it all figured out!

Oh, so that’s the way of the truth — zero details! But evolution, which tells a coherent “story,” albeit with with occasional ambiguities that are still to be resolved, possesses far too much explanatory power to be true. Now we know how to distinguish ID from science. Here’s more:

Truth [i.e., Klinghoffer’s version] is always more complicated, subject to revision and rewriting, with lots of admitted gaps where we’re still working on it.

Yeah, they’re really working on those gaps in ID. They’ll have it all figured out any day now. Then Klinghoffer says:

On the other hand, nothing could be simpler than Darwin’s branching tree of life, fueled by random variation and pruned by natural selection.

Yes, Darwin’s theory is just too comprehensible. Therefore it must be false. The Truth [i.e., Klinghoffer’s version] needs a bit of mystery — or shall we say mysticism. Here’s the conclusion:

An aspect of personal maturity is coming to find such simple answers inherently suspicious. With apologies to [one of the essayists he mentioned earlier], we doubt Darwinism precisely because it has the hallmarks of fiction.

We’re not entirely certain we follow Klinghoffer’s argument, but there it is. What do you make of it, dear reader?

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Klinghoffer: It’s All About Story-Telling

  1. I would say that klinghoffer takes tard to a whole new level but then I’d be ignoring the equally arrogant and delusional contributions from his brethren in the IDC agenda.

  2. When you take a high-school class in expository writing, one of the basic rules is to answer the 6 W’s: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Can we expect the next legislative initiative to change that, too?

  3. Truth [i.e., Klinghoffer’s version] is always more complicated, subject to revision and rewriting, with lots of admitted gaps where we’re still working on it.

    Perhaps Klinghoffer will surprise us with an “admitted gap” or maybe something that has once been revised, or rewritten. That would be novel.

    …intelligent design… tells an even lousier story than Darwinian evolution. Unlike Darwinism or Biblical creationism, it offers a narrative full of questions that remain unanswered.

    What narrative? What “lousier story”. The only thing ID has ever claimed is that evolution is false. There is no story there. ID advocates have never offered an alternative history of life, or any explanation of the genetic relationships between life forms, or why life has it’s various characteristics and environmental niches, or anything.

    Actually, I thought Dawkin’s “The Ancestor’s Tale” was a pretty good story about evolution.

  4. Tomato Addict

    So if Klinghoffer “… doubt[s] Darwinism precisely because it has the hallmarks of fiction”, then what does he call this?

  5. Curmudgeon: “We’re not entirely certain we follow Klinghoffer’s argument, but there it is. What do you make of it, dear reader?”

    I’ll resist temptation to take credit, because while I’m only one of 2-3 of the 100s of critics I know who regularly notes how ID peddlers evade the “whats and whens,” there must be more that I don’t know about. Plus many fans of ID, particularly the Biblical YECs and OECs, must feel let down by ID’s noncommital. Without those objections from fans and critics alike, Klinghoffer would not be doing this pathetic damage control.

    Despite Klinghoffer’s new-agey word games, Dembksi’s “I’m not going to take the bait” quote, etc, the fact is that the independent evidence, from multiple fields of study, from 1000s of researchers who’d much prefer to come up something new than keep confirming the same old “story,” converges on a “story.” And it happens to be the ~4 billion year history common descent with modification that is so compelling, that it’s the only clear position conceded consistently over 16+ years by any Discoveroid.

    And yes, David, I’ll keep reminding your fans of that, even if no one else does. And I’ll also keep reminding them of your real objection to evolution, that acceptance of it is the root of all evil, and the patheric is/ought fallacy on which it rests.

  6. Klinghoffer: “Unlike Darwinism or Biblical creationism…”

    More comments are in order. The more seriously compartmentalized ID fans will tune it out, but Klingoffer tacitly admits that each of the mutually contradictory stories within “Biblical creationism” is just as problematic in his mind as “Darwinism.” And more if you add the “mutually contradictory” part.

    Worse yet, the incessant use of the word “Darwinism” by these people ought to make it clear that they know that they’re attacking a strawman.

  7. retiredsciguy

    Klinghoofer: “How were the designs we observe actually instantiated?”

    Instantiated??? He probably meant to use “initiated”. I checked the original article. That’s how he wrote it. His usage doesn’t at all fit the definition of “instantiated”.

  8. @retiredsciguy:

    He probably meant to use the word “poofed” but thought it didn’t sound sophisticated enough.

  9. Tomato Addict


    This reminds me of a trick question I encountered in an exam for a symbolic logic class. The trick was to use Existential Instantiation to assert that a property is true, without any assertion that an object with this property exists.

    That pretty much sums up ID.

  10. Tomato Addict

    @Ed: “poofed” is another word for it. 🙂

  11. @ retiredsciguy, about “instantiated”

    Synonyms I have seen are “actuated” and “implemented.” Anyway, a cornerstone of the ID scam is to divert attention from the actual contruction of the system that they want you to think is designed. And that they are systems not “objects” – note that “the” flagellum gets constantly “built and rebuilt” before our (microscope-aided) eyes, despite vacuous whines of it being “IC.” Bottom line is they they don’t want their more inquisitive fans (not all are compartmentalized beyond hope) to think about what actually happened, when, and where. Particularly whether “in vivo” via common ancestors or not.

    But sometimes the questions simly can’t be ignored, and this is one of those rare times that a Discoveroid has to entertain them before desperately moving on to safer turf. All I can say is “don’t let them move on!”

  12. docbill1351

    Instantiated is an object oriented programming term for creating an actual variable from a class definition, IIRC. So, old Klingsneakers is tossing a little programming term in there! It’s obvious that YOWEH used C++ !