Things are really degenerating at the Discovery Institute. It’s difficult to believe, but it now appears that it was Casey who was keeping things on track, and it’s all falling apart without him. This just popped up at their creationist blog: The Curious Incident of the Non-Rafting Foxes.
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. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.
Blink and you might miss this unexpected bit of common sense, embedded in a NY Times article on adorable dwarf foxes native to California’s Channel Islands (Foxes That Endure Despite a Lack of Genetic Diversity). How did they get there? They were evidently ferried thousands of years ago by Native Americans, who seemed to regard them as totem animals.
Not much of a mystery. Primitive people migrate with their animals. The Polynesians traveled to islands across the Pacific and took their chickens with them. Even Klinghoffer seems to agree. He says:
Fine. Because otherwise how else could a fox make the passage? Just imagine: foxes rafting across 12 miles of ocean on their own, never mind 70 miles — perhaps hitching a ride on a tree trunk or other matted vegetation torn from the ground in a violent storm. It’s like something out of a kids’ cartoon. That indeed sounds pretty “unlikely.” Actually, “absurd” is more like it.
Why is Klinghoffer so captivated by this story? Let’s read on:
Now would you believe unaided animals journeying across ocean waters not for 12 or 70 but hundred of miles [sic]? Because the journal Nature tells us monkeys did it.
He’s talking about some new reports of something we saw a week ago at PhysOrg: Paleontologists find first fossil monkey in North America — but how did it get here? PhysOrg says:
Seven tiny teeth tell the story of an ancient monkey that made a 100-mile ocean crossing between North and South America into modern-day Panama – the first fossil evidence for the existence of monkeys in North America.
The find provides the oldest fossil evidence for the interchange of mammals between South and North America and challenges long-held views of South America as an island continent that evolved in isolation before the Isthmus of Panama was formed and animals began crossing between the continents about 3.5 million years ago, said Jonathan Bloch, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. Study findings are detailed online today in the journal Nature.
This is the article in Nature: First North American fossil monkey and early Miocene tropical biotic interchange.
Anyway, there’s some speculation about how the monkeys traveled by water from South America to North America, a distance of 100 miles or more, before the isthmus of Panama was formed. For some reason, Klinghoffer regards this as a virtually unsolvable mystery. He quotes someone who said: “the idea of monkeys rafting around unintentionally on beds of vegetation isn’t as crazy as it sounds.” Then Klinghoffer declares:
No? It’s not allowed to be “crazy” because after all, how did the monkeys get to South America to begin with? Against our will, because it’s against common sense, we’re once again forced to say by rafting … . Ah yes, the theory of animal rafting by uprooted tree and violent storm. The distribution of animals across the globe is often brandished by Darwinists as evidence for common descent.
Where is Klinghoffer going with this? What’s his alternative explanation? Is he arguing for special creation on the separate continents? He quotes from an old article by Casey — that venerable source — claiming that biogeography “in fact poses one of the toughest challenges for evolutionary theory.”
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Darwin regarded Biogeography as some of the strongest evidence for his theory. Two entire chapters in Origin of Species are devoted to the subject. Klinghoffer continues:
To borrow a famous image from Sherlock Holmes, the instance with the Channel Island foxes is a case of the dog that didn’t bark in the night.
Your Curmudgeon often refers to that Holmes story — Silver Blaze — but we do so when some important evidence is obviously missing. The last time we used it was Why No News about Ark Ticket Sales?. But what obvious evidence are those infernal “Darwinists” holding back in the case of the rafting monkeys? This is how Klinghoffer justifies his invocation of the Sherlock Holmes analysis technique:
The foxes didn’t raft [from 12 to 70 miles], because, under evolutionary theory, they didn’t need to. Monkeys did raft, even across a whole wide ocean [about 100 miles], because evolution required it. On other hand, if the theory needed foxes to do so, you can be sure they would obediently hop aboard. It should be the facts that drive startling conclusions, not the theory that’s supposed to explain the facts. But with evolution the roles of fact and theory are often reversed.
Huh? What’s so wildly inconsistent about the two different situations? Why is Klinghoffer so enraged by the offered explanations? And what’s the missing evidence that the Holmes reference suggests? Here’s the rest of Klinghoffer’s baffling essay, which — at least to him — ties it all together:
Animals do the most striking things, like sailing across oceans on their own, on demand. These are theory-driven “facts,” not a fact-driven theory. The non-rafting foxes are the thing that gives the game away. They are, as Holmes says, the curious incident. Dogs, by the way, like horses and foxes, are not thought to raft. Not yet!
Your Curmudgeon is mystified. We keep looking for the missing piece of the puzzle — the dog that didn’t bark — showing that the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design supplies the answer to this alleged mystery of biogeography. But we don’t see it. Maybe you can help us out, dear reader.
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