David Klinghoffer — Master of Tu Quoque

To be a master of tu quoque (Latin for “you too”) is nothing like being a master of something like Kung fu, which requires study, practice, and diligence. Mastery of tu quoque is easy, it’s sleazy, and it requires absolutely no effort or thought. One can see examples of it at any schoolyard: “I’m not a poop-head; you’re a poop-head!”

To illustrate this, consider the newest post at the Discoveroids’ blog: “Word Salad”. It’s by David Klinghoffer, their journalistic slasher — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. Yes, you already figured out that his use of the derogatory term “word salad” — which is sometimes used to dismiss a Discoveroid’s explanation of their pseudo-scientific notions like “specified complexity” — is now being used by Klinghoffer against his enemies, the “Darwinists.” This is a classic example of tu quoque.

Klinghoffer is talking about some news reported a week ago at Physorg: Scientific study turns understanding about evolution on its head. We read that article when it first appeared because we were attracted by the headline, but then we decided that it wasn’t important enough to blog about. Essentially, it says:

In a new paper, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, evolutionary biologists from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry looked at nearly one hundred fossil groups to test the notion that it takes groups of animals many millions of years to reach their maximum diversity of form.

Contrary to popular belief, not all animal groups continued to evolve fundamentally new morphologies through time. The majority actually achieved their greatest diversity of form (disparity) relatively early in their histories.

That didn’t strike us as particularly remarkable. Many body types — crabs and insects for example — can persevere for long periods. The study doesn’t say that it doesn’t take millions of years to evolve a new form. What it does say (to us) is that once a form of species has evolved to the point where it’s successful in an ecological niche, additional mutations (beyond speciation, which can always occur) may not confer any significant survival or reproductive advantages, so those mutations won’t necessarily become predominant in that breeding population. In the absence of some major environmental challenge, we may therefore observe a long period of what seems to be evolutionary stasis for a body type, but this should not be surprising.

Well, Klinghoffer sees things differently. Creationists usually do. Here’s some of what he has to say about it, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The key point is that pulses of innovation in the forms of life, as we see in the Cambrian explosion, don’t follow the Darwinian expectation of gradual diversification. They just happen: boom, and the bulk of the heavy lifting is already done.

Wow — we missed that key point. Innovations “just happen: boom,” like magic. Where did that come from? Not from the Physorg article. Then Klinghoffer quotes that article, but he seems to miss what’s really being said. For example, he quotes this, and we’ll put part of it in bold, so you can see what he’s ignoring:

Lead researcher from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, Dr Matthew Wills said: “This pattern, known as ‘early high disparity’, turns the traditional V-shaped cone model of evolution on its head. What is equally surprising in our findings is that groups of animals are likely to show early-high disparity regardless of when they originated over the last half a billion years. This isn’t a phenomenon particularly associated with the first radiation of animals, or periods in the immediate wake of mass extinctions.

Did you get that? This evolutionary pattern is not peculiar to the so-called Cambrian explosion (when the Discoveroids claim that things “just happen: boom”). It’s evident at other times too.

Then Klinghoffer gives the Discoveroid interpretation of the study:

“Early high disparity”: this is pure word salad. In what we’re accustomed to think of as Darwinian evolution, such things build very, very gradually, with no purpose or end in mind. Now they just burst upon the scene, with groups of animals wielding “innovations,” “growing” or “evolving” them as needed to “exploit new resources or habitats.” It’s still “evolution,” but turned “on its head.”

Word salad indeed. But who’s dishing out the salad? Anyway, here’s Klinghoffer’s creationist conclusion:

In a story like this where the normal understanding of a phenomenon, A, is so totally reversed, when does it stop being A and starting being B, something new and unsuited to the old, outdated label? When do we stop calling it “evolution,” and start calling it…design?

Hey, David: We’ll start calling it “design” when you guys come up with some evidence for that hypothesis. Okay?

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “David Klinghoffer — Master of Tu Quoque

  1. When are they going to stop calling it religion and start calling it For Profit Social Engineering? It is after all rather obvious how painful it is for Col.Kling to see others cling to outdated labels.

  2. But it’s so obvious! It’s called Cambrian explosion and explosions go boom. Hence it’s very fast and not gradual. Evilution theory refuted! When “they just burst upon the scene” it’s clear that goddiddid.

    “when you guys come up with some evidence for that hypothesis”
    But it’s so obvious! Just look! Design everywhere! That’s evidence enough.

  3. We’ll start calling it “design” when you guys come up with some evidence for that hypothesis

    What hypothesis? The hypothesis that “something, somehow, somewhere is wrong with evolutionary biology”?

    How about first of all, that those guys come up with some partial description of what “design” does, when it does it, where, how, why …

  4. TomS asks:

    What hypothesis? The hypothesis that “something, somehow, somewhere is wrong with evolutionary biology”?

    I was using the term broadly, in the sense that Laplace is said to have used it. See I had no need of that hypothesis.

  5. By the Discovery [sic] Institute’s design hypothesis, after a few million years the Designer (wink, wink) runs out of new ideas.