Klinghoffer’s Advice to Presidential Candidates

There is no organization better suited to advise Presidential candidates on science issues than the Discovery Institute — or so they imagine. They reveal their patriotic willingness to help with this new post at their creationist blog: In Tonight’s Republican Debate, Will Candidates Be Asked for Their Views on Evolution?

The debate was last night, so we can’t tell if they’re posting late or if they were timely and we somehow missed it. Either is possible. Anyway, it was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Klinghoffer begins with an interesting question:

[T]here’s no question that the leading Republican contenders will at some point before long be asked in a debate context if they believe in evolution. What should they say in response?

We don’t think that issue came up last night, but inevitably it will. And yes, we know — Klinghoffer’s question is improperly framed. One doesn’t “believe” in evolution, the way creationists believe in supernatural “explanations.” Putting the question in terms of belief makes evolution sound like a competing faith — which it isn’t. Being a scientific theory, evolution is accepted based on the abundant evidence that supports it, which gives us confidence that it’s an accurate explanation of the origin of species.

Anyway, for laughs, here’s Klinghoffer’s recommended response, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Well, they should tell the truth first of all. Obviously, they shouldn’t pretend to hold opinions, for the sake of expedience. Beyond that, here from Stephen Meyer is a brief response that would be both credible and congenial:

[Discoveroids’ recommended response:] Reporter: “Do you believe in evolution?”

Candidate: “I believe that organisms change over time, but I am skeptical about unguided evolution.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s what we call the micro-macro mambo, described in our Common Creationist Claims Confuted.

Klinghoffer then gives two expanded versions of his recommended response, in case a candidate has the time to make an even bigger fool of himself. The candidate is advised to add:

I know that many scientists in peer-reviewed scientific publications have expressed doubts about the creative power of natural selection and random mutation. I think that in learning about the modern version of Darwin’s theory, students should learn why scientists have these doubts. That’s just a matter of basic scientific literacy.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If that’s not sufficient to demonstrate that the candidate is a complete idiot — which several clearly are — Klinghoffer provides this as additional elaboration:

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories is a matter of basic scientific literacy. And there are scientific weaknesses in modern Darwinian theory.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The Discoveroids have often posted about the alleged weaknesses of the theory of evolution. The last time we wrote about it was Casey: More on Evolution’s “Weaknesses”.

As goofy as Klinghoffer’s post is, it has some value. A sane, educated, and well-advised candidate should answer: “I think evolution is a well-tested, solidly evidenced theory and I accept it.”

But in the campaign headquarters of some Republican candidates, the candidate won’t give that response. Either it’s because the candidate is stupid, or he’s afraid of offending his drooling supporters. So he and his advisers are wondering how to respond to the evolution question. If a candidate latches onto Klinghoffer’s suggested response, then we’ll know, beyond any doubt, what we’re dealing with. So we’re grateful to Klinghoffer for giving us this fine indicator by which to judge the candidates.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Klinghoffer’s Advice to Presidential Candidates

  1. organisms change
    That is not evolution. That is development, growth, aging.
    Evolution is about changes to populations.

    BTW, adding over time is a pleonasm. A professional writer, or his editor, should catch that.

  2. According to my RSS reader, that Klinghoffer statement was posted at 6:22 pm, Central time. So I guess they were timely, and you missed it.

    I do remember seeing it before the debates.

  3. Is this more of an advertisement from Reagan era speech writers? The cash flow to their founder’s coffers was probably a little more “enriching” during that period. Maybe they are still searching for that little old lady who has been driving around in her Cadillac cashing social security cheques since Reagan first mentioned her, they just need some gas money in order to maintain the vigil.

  4. Thing is, that answer will play so very poorly with fundamentalist voters.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    ID’s greatest strength is its ability to sit on fence between creationism and evolution. People reference it as shorthand for this position, not really understanding the technical junk science its promoters actually use. Using Klingy’s words only starts digging a hole for the politician who uses them. Better to just say, ‘I believe in intelligent design’ and move on.

  6. michaelfugate

    Or even better “God has a place in the universe.” That is really vague and even a non-believer could agree.

  7. Doubting evolution is quite in character for a group of climate change deniers but don’t worry they all believe in gawd, well all except for Trump. After all the Donald doesn’t bow to anyone!

  8. Aha. So Meyers explanation is that there have been literally billions of billions of minor interventions by a wand waving mystical being through time, creating every mutation and change in life forms. Dude that seems like an awful lot of work just to confuse and mystify all these clueless scientists.

  9. michaelfugate

    I am pretty sure Trump believes he is God or at least immortal.

  10. Klinghoofer suggest pols should state,
    “I believe that organisms change over time, but I am skeptical about unguided evolution.”

    Well, Klingy, evolution is NOT unguided. It is guided by natural selection — a most powerful, unrelenting force.

  11. Well, that depends on whether they merely want to make a big splash with the GOP’s base (and collect truckloads of money as a result) or actually want to be elected.

    If it’s the former, they’ll openly pander to creationists. If it’s the latter, they’ll blow the dog whistle at them in public while throwing meaty bones to the mutts in private, as
    Ronald Reagan did in his 1980 presidential run.

  12. SC: “BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s what we call the micro-macro mambo,…”

    The quote that your comment addressed is not the micro-macro mambo – though they will certainly do that too at the first opportunity – but rather the standard bait-and-switch between testable proximate causes and untestable ultimate causes. And they know it’s a bait-and-switch, and a very successful one at that in terms of both fooling the public and distracting 99% of critics from the real issue. Which is:

    Regardless of whether or not any part of evolution is “guided” (whatever that means), if Discoveroids seriously thought that evolution had “limits,” and that “something else” took over “here and there,” by now – heck, even by 20 years ago – they would be falling all over each other to hypothesize and test all the “wheres, whens and hows (proximate causes, such as that elusive alternative to ‘RM + NS’).” At a minimum they’d be making positive claims for when the first life originated (most Discoveroids agree that it’s ~4 billion years ago despite their forced vagueness), and if any additional origin-of-life events occurred later. Especially the one that Biblical literalists desperately want to believe, modern H. sapiens from “dust” ~10K years ago. Discoveroids know that’s pure nonsense, but they also know that admitting that is political suicide for the big tent scam. So they keep playing word games.

  13. Klinghoffer: “I know that many scientists in peer-reviewed scientific publications have expressed doubts about the creative power of natural selection and random mutation.”

    Another classic bait-and-switch. Many real scientists do question “RM + NS,” but only because they think other processes such as drift and self-organization contribute. And they are funded, not “expelled.” But he wants his audience to think (even though he personally knows otherwise) that that group is the same as much smaller fringe of sell-outs who sign bogus “dissent” statements and whine about being “expelled” when they know that they’re only expelling themselves.

    To show how low the Discoveroids go, in 2001 they wrote a bibliography citing research from several dozen real scientists who supposedly supported their anti-evolution position. NCSE then contacted those scientists to get their side of the story. Most responded, and every single one who did said that the DI had thoroughly misrepresented them. So did the DI retract that egregious act of quote-mining? Take a guess.

    Another survey is also relevant here. Years ago, many of the biologists who signed the bogus “dissent” statement were contacted and asked questions about their alternate “theories.” Turns out that only ~10% of them, representing ~0.1% of PhD biologists overall, claimed to deny common descent as well as “Darwinism.” Of course the DI will never volunteer that info either.

  14. Charles Deetz: “ID’s greatest strength is its ability to sit on fence between creationism and evolution.”

    I know what you mean, but new readers might not. Worse, if they also hear the common claim that ID “is” creationism they might think that ours is the sided that can’t get its story straight.

    ID has fooled a lot of people by claiming to be a 3rd option between evolution and Biblical Creationism (BC). The latter evolved from “honest belief that included once-reasonable origins hypotheses” to pseudoscience, one that could never reach a common consensus on “what happened when” even with absurd cherry-picking of “evidences.”

    In one respect, ID really is a 3rd option. Unlike BC, it makes no official claims of “what happened when.” Most individual ID peddlers are old-earthers who either concede common descent or claim to be unsure, but officially ID accommodates everything from virtual evolution to flat-Earth YEC. The “design vs creation” and designer’s identity issues may get 99% of the press, but they are just a half-hearted and transparent attempt to get around the 1987 Supreme Court decision. What’s far more illuminating is the “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” strategy that preceded that.

    ID and BC are both pseudoscience, but if anything ID is the more extreme pseudoscience, in that it’s far more rigorous at avoiding positive claims that can be falsified. In that respect it doesn’t “straddle the fence” but strays even further from science, as well as from honest, if misinformed, belief.

    Politically, ID sides 100% with BC, and against mainstream science. But that does not mean that any ID peddler believes any of the origins stories that Biblical creationism still promotes. Sometime before 1987 it occurred to one “species” of anti-evolution activist that the YEC and OEC they formerly peddled had zero evidence, but that it’s much more efficient to peddle them by just focusing on bogus “weaknesses” of evolution, and let the audience infer what feels-good, blissfully unaware of its weaknesses and contradictions with what feels good to the next denier. The same “eureka moment” occurred to one “species” of theistic evolutionist, who was more politically sympathetic to Biblical literalists than to those fellow “Darwinists” who insist on putting an atheistic spin on it. So people like Michael Behe joined ex-YEC peddlers and would-be OEC peddlers under the comfy “big tent.”