Klinghoffer: “Alfred Wallace Is Ours!”

They just don’t know how funny they are. Who? We’re talking about 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).

To appreciate what we’re talking about, you need to recall that it was a year ago when we reported that the Discoveroids Adopt Alfred Wallace as Godfather. They seized upon some writings by Wallace late in his life to claim him as their spiritual guru.

The last time we wrote about the Discoveroids’ obsession with Wallace was Discovery Institute & Alfred Wallace, Again, in which we said:

Wallace’s place as a co-discoverer with Darwin of evolution by natural selection is secure, but he unfortunately marginalized himself in his later years. His reputation suffered because of his devotion to spiritualism, unscientific fantasies, un-evidenced phantasms, and seances. We find no reference to it, but he probably used a Ouija board too. Our last post added to that catalog of oddities that Wallace was also a devotee of phrenology, an opponent of smallpox vaccination, a supporter of socialism, and an advocate of nationalizing large private landholdings.

Had Charles Darwin exhibited even one of those passions, the Discoveroids would never cease shouting it from the rooftops. But Wallace embraced them all, and the Discoveroids embrace Wallace. Why? Because along with all his other faults and unscientific delusions, he seems to have been groping toward a primitive version of the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design. So Wallace is their man!

Okay, so the Discoveroids want Wallace — at least the late-life Wallace — as their precursor. Fine, they can have him. But now they’ve got a problem. It seems that someone else is claiming Wallace, and the Discoveroids are insisting that he’s exclusively theirs. That’s what’s going in in their latest post, Rescuing Alfred Russel Wallace from his (Darwinist) Rescuers.

It’s 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.

Klinghoffer is claiming that Wallace belongs exclusively to the Discoveroids. We don’t know why so many people are fighting over poor old Wallace’s moldering corpse, but they’re free to do so because he’s in no position to defend himself.

How silly is this contest? Here are some excerpts from Klinghoffer’s post, with bold font added by us and Klinghoffer’s links omitted:

You knew it would happen. Word is getting out, disseminated in scholarly and even media culture, that evolutionary theory’s co-discoverer ultimately abandoned Darwinian evolution in favor of a way of thinking remarkably consistent with intelligent design. Darwinists could not let this go and must inevitably take action to reclaim Alfred Russel Wallace for their own side.

That’s what’s going on? Really? Let’s read on:

In a recent book, Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet, environmental author Tim Flannery [not to be confused with Discoveroid “fellow” Michael Flannery] turns Wallace into a prophetic exponent of chemist James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis.

That’s a “Darwinist” effort to reclaim Wallace? Well, maybe in the Discoveroid view of things. We continue:

To be fair, Tim Flannery may simply be ignorant of Wallace’s work. His focus seems to have been on style over substance, generating an atmosphere of woo, with plenty of distracting quasi-mystical talk and eccentric speculation: [quote omitted].

That explains, dear reader, why your irony detector exploded. Klinghoffer is actually criticizing someone for focusing on woo and quasi-mystical talk. Why — gasp! — it’s an outrage that someone like that would claim Wallace!

We won’t bother excerpting any more from the bulk of Klinghoffer’s essay. You can read it for yourself if you like. Here’s his conclusion:

Alfred Russel Wallace was a forward-thinker, more so than his colleague Charles Darwin: no one can deny that. But to rope him into “proto-cybernetic and proto-Gaian formulations” obviously does a giant disservice to the historical truth. Even so, and Michael Flannery’s valiant efforts notwithstanding, I’m sure this is not the last time we will find Darwinists raiding Wallace for their own purposes.

Your Curmudgeon doesn’t really care who wins this unsightly tug-of-war over the remains of Wallace. But it’s delightful to see Klinghoffer defending the Discoveroids’ claim against a competing woo-peddler.

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

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10 responses to “Klinghoffer: “Alfred Wallace Is Ours!”

  1. docbill1351

    In this corner we have Dr. Tim Flannery, professor at Macquarie University, Sidney, Australia, Endowed Chair of Environmental Science, member of the Australian Academy of Science, acclaimed scientist and explorer, multiple peer-reviewed science publications and books.

    And in this corner we have Mr. Michael Flannery, creationist, Discovery Institute Fellow (flaming creationist), librarian at an off-campus Univ. of Alabama library, and self-published author of unaccredited, historically irrelevant opinion.

    So, the science guy, Tim, writes books and the DI “fellow” puts the books on the shelf.

    A crack scientist versus a crackpot.

    Hey, I report, you decide!

  2. I suspect Dr. Flannery had no idea he was rescuing Wallace from the Creationists in Seattle. He probably also had no idea he was a card carrying “Darwinist”, and a member of a secret worldwide conspiracy. I’m certain that he never read Mr. Flannery’s book.

    Klingchopper gets his knickers twisted because the man used Wallace’s ideas in a book, terming it “intellectual larceny”. After all, the DI now owns Wallace. Given the large percentage of attorneys in the DI, perhaps they are attempting to trademark the term “Alfred Wallace” and patent protect his ideas.

    It’s also a plug for the offended biographer, Mr. Flannery’s, book. Sales might be lagging somewhat. I noticed that it has only four reviews on Amazon, all suspiciously positive, (one even by a person calling himself Erasmus). Perhaps some of SC’s readers could provide balance for those reviews?

    I stirred up a short bio of Mr. Flannery. It comes from a speakers list at an “Alabama Forest Owners” meeting.

    Michael A. Flannery is currently Professor and Associate Director for Historical Collections at Lister Hill Library, University of Alabama at Birmingham. He earned his MLS from the University of Kentucky and an MA in history from California State University at Dominguez Hills. Mr. Flannery’s research interests have largely been devoted to the history of pharmacy, therapeutics, and herbal medicine. He is the author of John Uri Lloyd: The Great American Eclectic (Southern Illinois University Press, 1998), a biography of America’s most noteworthy pharmacognosist; with Alex Berman, America’s Botanico-Medical Movements: Vox populi (Haworth Press, 2001), a history of botanical physicians in the U.S., and Civil War Pharmacy (Haworth Press, 2004), the first comprehensive study of pharmaco-therapeutic during the period; and most recently edited a reprinting of Nicholas Culpeper’s 1708 English Physician (University of Alabama Press, 2007). Source: Personal Résumé, 7/07.

    Oddly, his Discovery Institute affiliation is not shown.

  3. docbill1351

    Based on the SNL skit, The Californians.

    Driving home to California State University at Dominguez Hills —

    Westie upon seeing Mr. Flannery in the sun room: Eww, wha-r-oooo-oooin-ear?

    Mr. Flannery: Don ge yur pannies inna bunnch, Wessssstie. Imma leavin.

    Westie: Ooooou-rrr?

    Mr. Flannery: Yeah, imma gonna take the 405 to 91 and get off on Avalon, take that down and left on University then turn left at the Taco Bell.

    Westie: Whaaaaa-uu-crazzy? Nobody tries to turn left on University at rush hour. Whyyyyy-don-uuu go down 91 and right on Central then right on University then right at the Taco Bell, dude?

    Flannery: (looks shocked at the realization that Westie has bestie’d him with a better route!)

    Dramatic music and fade.

  4. Scene that preceded docbill’s confrontation above:

    Say, West, I was gittin fidgity lookin at all that rain from thishere sunroom an I dittn know whar evabody got to, so I didja a favor by straightnen them Readers Digess in yer office. I hafta umit it wuz partly fer me. Ah’d hafta ware blahnders ifn ah stayed aroun here much. Ah cain’t unnerstan how no growed man kin let his readership git in such a mess an then set across the room an haf tuh look at it ever day when he’sa workin on science, anna lookin at the innernet, anna tekkin his meals, an swallerin them herbs I perscribed.. Somebody tole me they”s all agonna go smoke some, but that ain’t the way ya do it. ‘Perntly nobody’s alissnen to me round here neither.

    Ooooou-rrr in…? uuuuh, yahhhhh aaaawrigh, ooookay. Uh, ummm… waaamaaaa monn-i-torrrr on?

    @ docbill1351
    Donna: I cain’t hep myseff. (but if you mind the elaboration, please let me know. Sheepishly – I did it once before, after you fired my imagination with “mankini”.)

  5. “Word is getting out, disseminated in scholarly and even media culture..”
    Wow, this sounds important enough for Fox News.

    “But it’s delightful to see Klinghoffer defending the Discoveroids’ claim against a competing woo-peddler.”
    We’re witnessing a written manifestion of the typical jealous paranoia vibe at DI.

  6. In 1912 Alfred R. Wallace published in Everyman magazine a criticism of an address by the president of the British Association for the Advance of Science, where the latter expressed confidence that the chemical and physical basis of life would come to be elucidated. Wallace took issue with this expectation and, in the process, showed himself to have evolved into an unmitigated mystic, with capital letters and all! Wallace ended his complaint saying:
    “I submit that, in view of the actual facts of growth and organisation [of living things] as here briefly outlined, and that living protoplasm has never been chemically produced, the assertion that life is due to chemical and mechanical processes alone is quite unjustified. NEITHER THE PROBABILITY OF SUCH AN ORIGIN, NOR EVEN ITS POSSIBILITY, HAS BEEN SUPPORTED BY ANYTHING WHICH CAN BE TERMED SCIENTIFIC FACTS OR LOGICAL REASONING.”
    For Wallace, life was not merely intelligently designed, but actively conducted in real time by biochemical spooks. After all, purposeful machines can´t run by themselves year in and year out: experience shows that they must constantly monitored and fine-tuned by knowing hands. Wallace truly belongs to the Discovery Institute, and not to the Australian imposter, as does their champion’s novel scientific theory of Intelligent Machine Maintenance.
    [Apologies to Wallace’s memory, for he had many good ideas and a positive influence on rational thought before being sucked into woo].

  7. docbill1351

    @donna, truth be told I looked up on Google maps CSUDH (you can actually get a sweat shirt with those letters on it) and saw the Taco Bell and the entire skit fell into place. The university is so small it sits behind a Taco Bell. You can get a Combo No. 5 which is two crunchy beef tacos, a bean burrito, a drink and a diploma for $4.95 and that’s not even a special!

  8. @W.Benson
    “I submit that, in view of the actual facts of growth and organisation [of living things] as here briefly outlined, and that living protoplasm has never been chemically produced, the assertion that life is due to chemical and mechanical processes alone is quite unjustified……”

    Although better worded, this is the exact same sentiment, exactly 100 years later, by science antagonists. The difference is that in those 100 years, science has made remarkable progress in every branch of the discipline and the deniers still can only criticize gaps in the knowledge.

  9. @docbill1351
    Could I get a BS or BAAAAAA degree, like at Liberty? Probably not, since it’s state, and controlled by elitist liberals.
    Seriously, I had no idea that accreditation is yet another area where the water is muddy. – and this problem (I consider it a problem, anyway) exists at the high school level, too, due to the alternative education options. Neo-ed.

    (Thanks for the great links you’ve been posting).

  10. Jim Thomerson

    According to my less than totally reliable recollections, Wallace parted company with Darwin over the origin of the human brain by natural selection. Wallace held the position, unusual for the time, that primitive tribal people were just as intelligent as British aristocracy. However, he thought that tribal people lived simple lives which did not require the levels of intelligence they possessed. Therefore, this intelligence could not be the result of natural selection.

    When I took cultural anthropology in 1955, it was emphasized that primitive life was just as complex as modern life. For example, it was argued that a tribal shaman’s store of knowledge was equal to that of a modern MD. I am told that this is a core belief among cultural anthropologists.