Discoveroids: “Darwinism is Witless Pseudoscience”

There’s not too much we can say about this new post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. It’s by Michael Egnor — that’s his writeup at the Encyclopedia of American Loons. His article is: The “Not Tonight Dear Because I’ve Got an Impacted Third Molar” Theory of Natural Selection.

Egnor quotes from a newspaper interview with with Professor Alan Mann of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. Mann is discussing our crowded jaws as a consequence of evolution. You know — big skull, not enough room in the jaw for all our teeth. Then he gives a rather jocular example of why it may be that 25% of the human population no longer grow all their wisdom teeth:

Although lacking wisdom teeth does not provide a survival advantage in the modern world, Prof Mann suggested that the trait may one day die out because people with aching jaws might be marginally less likely to have children.

He said: “One plausible scenario might be as follows: one evening, a partner in a relationship suggests a bout of reproduction.

“The other partner, plagued by an impacted third molar which is painful enough to be distracting, says: ‘not tonight dear, my jaw is killing me.’

As you might expect, the utterly humorless Discoveroids take that remark and run amok. Here’s what Egnor says, with bold font added by us:

Another plausible scenario is that Darwinism is witless pseudoscience too bizarre even to parody effectively. It is a parody of itself.

[…]

Any reputable science journalist would have been so convulsed with laughter that he couldn’t have finished conducting the interview. Yet this swill is what passes for evolutionary biology in the 21st century.

We don’t need to say anything — but we will mention something that Egnor didn’t mention. He doesn’t offer any reason why the Discoveroids’ magical, mystical designer — blessed be he! — designed us with so many dental defects.

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14 responses to “Discoveroids: “Darwinism is Witless Pseudoscience”

  1. I want to say that Egnor is not even wrong, but this doesn’t even rise (sink) to that level.

  2. I dunno, maybe Egnor has a point. If Darwin were right, why didn’t I evolve a dental hygienist sticking out of my shoulder socket instead of a left arm?

  3. The obvious response here is, “The Discovery Institute is a compendium of witless pseudoscientists too bizarre even to parody effectively.”

    Another plausible selection-pressure scenario might be as follows: “Not tonight dear, my Discoverrhoids are acting up again.”

  4. “Darwinism is Witless Pseudoscience”

    And that’s another perfectly good irony meter blown to pieces…

  5. Of course, they omit to copy the bulk of the article, which has to do with bad backs and fallen arches. They only respond to the tongue-in-cheek comment by Alan Mann.

    Presumably the designer enjoys inflicting the pain of impacted molars, so any humor on that subject is considered heresy to the ID cult.

    Even though he was clearly illustrating his argument with a bit of humor, the professor might have had a point regarding reproductive frequency of those in pain from impacted molars before the advent of modern medicine. In primitive times it might have affected some people’s ability to eat, and possibly survive. So it makes sense that there would be selective pressure – something certainly accounts for the 25% or so that do not grow wisdom teeth today. Did the designer just decide to exempt a quarter of the population from molar pain?

  6. We don’t need to say anything — but we will mention something that Egnor didn’t mention. He doesn’t offer any reason why the Discoveroids’ magical, mystical designer — blessed be he! — designed us with so many dental defects.

    And why didn’t he design us with a set of teeth for life? Oh, yes: then there’d be no need for a Tooth Fairy..

  7. Apparently, studies have shown that the gradual, evolutionary loss of room for wisdom teeth in human jaws is due to sexual selection. Subjective facial attractiveness in both guys & girls has been correlated to lower jaw length (distance from below the ear to the chin, in lateral view). More attractive individuals are more likely to produce offspring. Lower jaws seen on human skulls over the last several thousand years have been getting shorter, and thus there’s been less room for wisdom teeth.

    Who all has suffered pain & discomfort from wisdom teeth surgery? Guess what? It’s due to sex!

  8. Christine Janis

    One serious issue with impacted wisdom teeth —- infection. Prior to antibiotics that would be pretty strong selection pressure.

  9. In parts of the world where antibiotics aren’t widely available it still would be a strong selection pressure wouldn’t it?

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    Do we need to start a webpage of “arguments for evolution that shouldn’t be used”, ala AIG’s “Arguments creationists should NOT use”?

  11. Charles Deetz asks:

    Do we need to start a webpage of “arguments for evolution that shouldn’t be used”

    Any suggestions?

  12. Ceteris Paribus

    The list probably would be too short to bother with.

    “Theistic” evolution comes to mind. Although there are numerous genuine evolutionists who find it fits their personal views, and are quite able to separate it from their professional work.

    But for the less rationally endowed, theistic evolution offers a slippery slope to “goddidt”, and should be avoided.

  13. Charles Deetz ;)

    @SC The biggest thing is ‘we’ tend to make up plausible stories for the cause of evolutionary results. The guys here had much more plausible answers (jawline beauty, infection) than the professor had. But at what point are they more than assumptions?

    My ‘so why flowers move toward the sun’ from the other day, for example, is actually has a pretty basic mechanical mechanism of specialized cells. That should be on the list too.

  14. Charles Deetz says: “The biggest thing is ‘we’ tend to make up plausible stories for the cause of evolutionary results.”

    Yes, but is that a problem? Evolution is a natural process, and it requires no miracles to accomplish the various changes that we observe. Therefore it’s easy to propose ways in which a particular mutation may have been selected. We can think of several reasons why wisdom teeth may eventually drop out of our genetic inventory (or why that may never happen). Such proposals are just conversation among people who understand how evolution happens. No one is going to research every little detail, so if a casual explanation for something isn’t perfectly accurate (or if it strikes a Discoveroid as absurd), it doesn’t matter — our educated guesswork about wisdom teeth isn’t an essential element of the theory, and won’t be presented in textbooks. But if such developments couldn’t occur without miracles, then such easy explanations wouldn’t be available to us.