Discovery Institute: Two New Themes

The Discoveroids, having failed to make a dent in science and academia, and having made no progress in their legislative and courtroom crusades (except for two of their Academic Freedom bills in Louisiana and Tennessee), are filling the vast void in their list of accomplishments by inventing new propaganda messages.

For most of this year they’ve been posting about a “War on Humans.” A typical post of theirs is At the New York Times, a War on Humans. We’ve ignored them all because we couldn’t figure out what they were babbling about — but suddenly we figured it out.

Like the most primitive young-Earth creationists, they’re promoting the idea that humans are extraordinarily different from all other life. They don’t flat-out claim that we were specially created “in His image,” but that’s the essence of it. In furtherance of their anti-evolution theme, they’re assuming the role of champions of human uniqueness. In other words, they ain’t no kin to no monkey.

Their other new theme is one we recently wrote about in Discovery Institute Says Dogs Are Degenerates. While they’re defending human dignity by defending us against the non-existent “War on Humans,” they’ve begun to wage a war on dogs. Why? We can’t figure it out, but that’s what they’re doing.

The latest post in their anti-canine crusade is More on Chimps Searching for Treats Under Cups. It’s by David Klinghoffer, their journalistic slasher and poo flinger.

He begins confusingly, with a disparaging reference to the intelligence of chimps, and then suddenly switches to a book by Nicholas Wade about human history. It discusses the domestication of dogs, so Klinghoffer talks about the domesticated silver fox (a/k/a Fox Farm Experiment), a Russian experiment that produced a breed of tame foxes after only 50 years of selective breeding. He disparages that too, saying:

the goal [of the Russian experiment] was known from the outset. Human beings could not foresee the result of “creating” the dog, so it’s not obvious what drove this pioneering work of experimental breeding.

After blundering around like that to no apparent purpose, Klinghoffer then says:

Anyway, Wade recounts, an earlier test was performed with chimps, cups, and treats. Chimps didn’t respond to very “broad hints” from researchers as to which cup concealed the treat. You could tap it, stare at it — they didn’t catch on. (Must not have been motivated.)

Okay, chimps are dumb and we’re smart! It’s unspoken, but we think Klinghoffer is dismissing any hint that we might be related to chimps. The Discoveroids are once again defending the dignity of man — the special creation of the intelligent designer. Then the essay takes a strange turn to their other new theme:

But you know what creature did pick up on body language, and responded immediately to the hints from the scientists?

We give up. Tell us, Klinghoffer. He does:

Of course, it was dogs, which are born with the ability to read our body language.

That doesn’t surprise us. We’ve been selectively breeding dogs for millennia. It’s not quite natural selection, but Darwin used that sort of thing to suggest what nature could do. What does Klinghoffer make of it? We already know the Discoveroids are waging a war on dogs — although we have no idea why — so here’s how he ends his charming essay:

Wolves also bombed the test, suggesting that the trick, with dogs and puppies, is “innate” and somehow the result of breeding.

That’s it. We’ve read the thing a couple of times now, and we don’t know what they guy is trying to say. He probably thinks he’s arguing against evolution — both ours and the dog’s — but his reasoning is far from clear. Can you figure it out?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

17 responses to “Discovery Institute: Two New Themes

  1. It’s a common theme among the authoritarian Christian reconstructionists: human exceptionalism and especially American exceptionalism. We are special because god blessed us, humans but especially Americans who are the best of the human.*

    *so long as you are old, white and male.

  2. One might think that it shows that certain canine behavior has been shown to have a naturalistic component. That one can breed dogs to act certain ways. As if anyone doubted that.
    BTW, in the tame-fox experiment, there were results which were not expected. The domesticated foxes showed certain traits – if I recall they had curly tails and perky ears more like dogs.
    Of course, as long as he brought chimps into the picture, it might occur to someone whether it would be possible to breed domesticated chimps. Their generation time is rather longer than foxes, so it make take centuries rather than decades to show results. And the results might offer “a picture that may mortify the pride of such as make their persons the principal objects of their admiration.” (to borrow a turn of phrase from John Wesley).

  3. “they’ve begun to wage a war on dogs. Why? We can’t figure it out, but that’s what they’re doing.”
    Aha! Room for speculation, something I’m always happy to participate in. The iDIots from Seattle have started a war on dogs because they are a perfect example of transitional species. According to the common definition

    http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Species
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/VADefiningSpecies.shtml

    dogs still belong to the same species as the gray wolves, as

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfdog

    shows.
    But alas for all IDiots it’s rather obvious that a chihuahua mating with a full grown gray wolf runs into some problems. That seriously spoils the micro-macro mambo. And which IDiot can forgive that?

  4. Our distinguished Curmudgeon observes: “but his reasoning is far from clear.”

    I’ve been reading Klingklepooper’s wretched scribblings for several years, and I cannot detect any reasoning on his part other than what seems like a slavish need to please his masters. Hmmmm, not unlike the little dogs whose intelligence he doubts.

  5. @waldteufel True, but who are his masters and does he even know who they are?

  6. What is he trying to say? As best I can figure, Klinghoffer considers selective breeding to be a form of “Intelligent Design.” so the better performance by dogs on this one test suggests (to his feeble mind) that intelligence can only be created thru the action of an intelligent agent, such as humans acting on wolves, or God acting on mud (or whatever human beings are supposed to have been created from).

    Sorry, that’s the best I can do. It’s hard to be sure what he’s trying to say.

  7. jack, he knows exactly who his masters are: the theocrats with deep pockets who fund the Disco Tute.

  8. If the Discoveroids can’t catch on to science, does that mean they ain’t descended from them damned humans?

  9. Here’s what Klinghitler means: the IDiots swear that microevolution can never produce a new function or a real improvement or gain in information. Never ever. Microevolution can never do it. Microevolution can only do stuff like, say, turn wolves into dogs.

    Problem: dogs have a new function that wolves don’t. Dogs can interpret human feelings and intentions; their wolf forebears could not. So Microevolution CAN create new functions after all. Creationism is falsified.

    Klinghitler’s resolution to the falsification of creationism: dogs are the products of artificial selection. Therefore they are NOT products of microevolution even though all creationist experts said they are. No, Klinghitler says now, dogs were produced by intelligent design, and intelligent design can do or make anything.

    So, to sum up Klinghitler’s point, dogs are NOT produced by microevolution except when convenient. When scientists say dogs were produced by microevolution, they’re wrong, but when creationists say that, they’re right. Scientists are always wrong no matter what, and creationists know more about science than scientists.

  10. Klangerhuffer relates—

    “You could tap [the cup concealing a treat], stare at it — [the chimpanzees] didn’t catch on. (Must not have been motivated.)”

    He may as well be talking about the Discorrhoids when being given overt hints on where to find evidence for evolution and common descent.

  11. The DI seems to have lost focus on what it’s doing. (Oddly enough that’s not meant as a joke)

  12. Diogenes Lamp suggests: “Problem: dogs have a new function that wolves don’t. Dogs can interpret human feelings and intentions; their wolf forebears could not. So Microevolution CAN create new functions after all.”

    Yes, that is a problem for them. Where — oh where? — did the “information” come from?

  13. @SC asks where did the information come from?

    It came from the intelligent designers who bred dogs from wolves.

    Another success of the theory of intelligent design.

    Obviously, those ancient dog breeders had worked with their knowledge of wolf genetics on the genes for interpreting humans to produce dogs.

    It is a shame that the ancients did not pass on that knowledge to us.

    The puzzle is not how we intelligent designers can bypass the law of conservation of information in breeding dogs, but how come we can’t do it in designing a perpetual motion machine.

  14. It came from “Oogity Boogity” of course! Forgive the spelling please. My memory seems to be devolving.

  15. michaelfugate

    I think it means dogs have souls and the DI is trying to cover up this little fact. Think about it, dog is god spelled backwards – must be a sign from the designer, no?

  16. It would have been easier for the chimps if the researchers had just used sign language to communicate which cup to look under. The chimps would then have chosen the correct cup, and “signed” a request for more treats.

    Kling ignores all of the research documenting the intelligence of chimps to find something, anything, that supports his pre-existing belief that naturally evolved creatures cannot be intelligent in any way similar to a human.

    Which is perhaps one of the best definitions of non-scientific thought.

    (There may not be many, if any, sign language literate chimps around anymore, sadly.)

  17. @Ed suggests that ignoring prior research is a defining characteristic of non-scientific thought. I think that serious participants in any endeavor must be aware of prior work. Historians, lawyers, novelists, musicians, architects, philosophers, …