Discoveroids: Still More Evidence of Design

The latest post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog is Oh, Deer: Mammals Use Magnetic Navigation, Too, which has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

You’re in a herd of deer when a mountain lion is seen approaching. What’s your safest retreat? Is it to run directly away? Is it to scatter in all directions? Or is it to run according to a predetermined orientation? Scientists in Europe were intrigued that roe deer seem to orient in a north-south direction when grazing and when startled, so they decided to investigate. What they uncovered was a novel case of magnetic navigation in the animal kingdom.

They’re talking about a news item in the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology: Deer make collision-free escapes thanks to inbuilt “compasses”. The published paper is Compass-controlled escape behavior in roe deer, which you can read online without a subscription.

The Discoveroids quote a bit from the news item:

Why do deer in a group, when startled, suddenly bolt away together and never collide with each other? It’s because these deer have an inner compass that allows them to follow a certain direction in order to make their escape. Their getaway is almost always along a north-south axis, thanks to their ability to sense the magnetic field, says Petr Obleser of the Czech University of Life Sciences in the Czech Republic.

You may be thinking that’s not much to suggest that the Discoveroids’ transcendent designer of the universe was involved, but you’re about to be shown how foolish you are. The Discoveroids say:

This is a first for large mammals. … Suggestions of magnetosensing had been reported for bats and mole rats, but large mammals like deer — who would have thought they use an inner compass for everyday safety?

No, it’s not a first. A couple of years ago we wrote Dogs Align Themselves North-South To Poop. Nevertheless, the Discoveroids are amazed. They tell us:

Is there a reason for this behavior? The north-south escape strategy was especially pronounced when the deer were congregated in groups. The authors feel the strategy helps the deer avoid collisions that would be more likely to occur if each animal took off in a random direction. Other possible functions include keeping group cohesion, guiding the deer get back to the previous grazing spot after the danger has subsided, and helping a mother find its fawn it left hiding in the grass.

Okay, but where does the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — fit into this? Let’s read on:

In the new open-access paper, the authors make no use of evolutionary theory to explain the coordinated escape strategy of roe deer with its requirements for magnetosensing equipment. There’s no mention of natural selection, fitness or phylogeny. Why would that be, if nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution?

A profound point indeed! The Discoveroids continue:

As design theorists, we can identify prerequisites for magnetically-based escape strategy in roe deer and other mammals:

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] The “design theorists” then give us a list of eight items, a few of which are:

3. Brain receptors that can process the neural inputs and interpret them.

4. Mental maps to place the interpretations in a regional context.

5. Brain regions that can coordinate the magnetic data with other sensory data.

6. Stored instincts to activate body systems to respond appropriately.

7. Genes to encode the construction of all the above.

That’s about the same list an organism needs for the proper functioning of ears, eyes, or any other sensory system. The Discoveroids are nevertheless impressed. They declare:

That’s a bigger parts list than in the classic mousetrap model of irreducible complexity. In fact, each item on the list could itself be called irreducibly complex.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Irreducible complexity. But wait — their brilliant design analysis has only just begun:

Needless to say, magnetosensation presupposes a planet with a strong magnetic field. Of the rocky planets in our solar system, the Earth is unique in that regard; Mercury’s magnetic field is too weak, Venus has none, and Mars has only patches of magnetism.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] The Earth was obviously designed for the deer! Only a fool would think that the deer evolved to live on the Earth. Moving along:

Many regard a strong magnetic field as a requirement for habitability, to act as a shield from stellar and cosmic radiation. It’s one of at least twenty improbable factors listed in The Privileged Planet that point to fine-tuning for habitability.

Yes, the undeniable fact that we live on The Privileged Planet is proof — proof! — of intelligent design. This is the Discoveriods’ final paragraph, which only a demented, hell-bound Darwinist would deny:

Intelligence is the only cause we know that is capable of arranging multiple independent factors for a function. The design inference strengthens with the improbability or specified complexity of each factor. With Darwinian evolution apparently of no use in explaining why roe deer know how to escape along a north-south axis, an inference to intelligent design beckons.

Are you convinced yet, dear reader? If not, then you’re a hopeless Darwinist wretch.

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30 responses to “Discoveroids: Still More Evidence of Design

  1. Ken Phelps

    If Jesus didn’t want the deer to get eaten, why did he give the mountain lion teeth?

  2. Creationists, like those at the Dishonesty Institute and every else, also have magnetic orientations associated with their brains. In their case it makes them focus downwards towards the ground, and they run and huddle in areas where the ground is sandy, resulting in their sticking their heads in the sand, particularly when scientists find new evidence, more fossils, etc., that they cannot bear to hear or admit.

  3. ” There’s no mention of natural selection, fitness or phylogeny. Why would that be, if nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution?”

    I don’t suppose every astronomy paper mentions heliocentrism either. I guess, on the DI’s reasoning here, that we should count this as evidence that geocentrism is equally plausible.

  4. michaelfugate

    And every chemistry paper starts out with a history of atomic theory….

  5. If Earth is intelligently designed for life, why does it take supernatural intervention to produce life on Earth?

    If deer escape predators in a given direction, why don’t the predators catch on to this and station themselves in that direction?

  6. Continuing his practice of cherry picking ENV articles, the Curmudgeon makes another attempt at providing his eager readership with a bit of substance. Here’s a summation of the Curmudgeon’s cookie cutter analysis of all things ENV:

    – The obligatory 50-cent word “BWAHAHAHAHAHA!”
    – [“Begin Drool Mode”] Ooooooooooooh [“End Drool Mode”]
    – Fisking the article with vapid commentary that in the end refutes nothing
    – Rhetorical questions
    – Links to the very authoritative Wikipedia
    – The occasional “Oogity Boogity!”
    – Passive-aggressive snark
    – Include quotes of the original article to make the post appear twice as long as it really is.
    – All easily generated by a bit of modified code used to write those phony, peer-reviewed, published papers

    Do I have that about right?
    Here’s a recent link at ENV that characterizes the content here exceedingly well.
    I’m starting to get a sense of the intellectual depth of this blog and its inhabitants. It can be measured with a sparkplug gap gauge.

  7. Yeah, I’ll just take my “Hopeless Darwinist Wretch” t-shirt now.

  8. As maliign theorists, we can identify prerequisites for narcissistically-driven attention seeking by internet trolls and other intellectual onanists:

    1. Construction of silicon-chipped computers that respond to keyboard input
    2. Neurons that can sense threats to ungrounded religious dogma
    3. Brain receptors that can support Morton’s Demon and filter inputs accordingly
    4. Mental straitjackets to spin favourable interpretations in a confabulated context
    5. Brain regions that can blot out empirical data contrary to a priori assumptions
    6. Base instincts to drive the afflicted to lash out childlishly
    7. Panglossian delusions of self-importance to fuel infantile babbling from all the above
    8. Spasmodic impulses to guide the episodes of pathetic whining

    Pig-headed ignorance is the only cause we know that is capable of arranging these multiple independent factors for a function. The Malign Inference strengthens with the improbability or specified complexity of each factor. With Darwinian evolution apparently of no use in explaining why some puerile morons indulge in attention-whoring, an inference to malevolent design beckons.

  9. @KevinC: Is that all you got? C’mon. I was expecting some, you know, actual evidence for specified complexity, or… whatever it is that you think ID has. I’d show you all of my evidence, but you already believe it’s done by “phony, peer-reviewed, published papers”.

  10. michaelfugate

    Evidence Kev? Didn’t think so?
    Name the intelligence behind design/creation? No.
    Name something said intelligence did design/create? No.
    Name something said intelligence did not design/create? No.
    If you can’t do any of those things, then you can’t get to the next step which is how one could distinguish intelligent design/creation from non-intelligent design/creation.

  11. Continuing his practice of cherry picking ENV articles–

    There are no cherries to pick in ENV articles. Our valiant Curmudgeon bravely gleans from the Disco’Tute’s various excretions a prize selection of dingleberries.

    It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…

  12. Kevin, virtually everything in living organisms is complicated. The ability to sense magnetic fields is one of them, but so is stereoscopic vision, or the ability to walk bipedally, or the ability to type a response to this blog.


    The DI will base the most improbable conclusion imaginable – which is that a supernatural being exists which made life, the universe, and everything – on the fact that life is complicated. No evidence, just that life is complicated.

    And pretend that they are doing science.

    You don’t find that amusing?

  13. michaelfugate

    Kev’s comment on “cherry-picking” implies that there are better articles on ENV. I’m dubious. So tell us what we are missing – which articles should we be reading? The ones that explain CSI and IC and how we can detect them in living systems? The ones that explain how the intelligence behind the curtain inserted a soul into Adam? The ones that explain why humans aren’t animals?

  14. michaelfugate

    Another thing we are often told is that intelligently designed/created things have a function or a purpose. Humans for instance design and create hammers to pound in nails, etc. etc. The purpose/function of say Tagetes minutia is? or Capsaspora owczarzaki is? How about the Andromeda galaxy? Or let me turn it around, can you name the intelligence’s purpose/function for designing/creating any one thing in the universe, let alone the universe itself?

  15. Ken Phelps

    “I’m starting to get a sense of the intellectual depth of this blog and its inhabitants. It can be measured with a sparkplug gap gauge.”

    It must kind of sting a bit to realize that nobody important gives a sh*t about your precious little pseudoscience, huh? I mean except for shooing you away with a lawsuit when you actually get close to other people’s kids.


  16. There is a difference between creation and design. Without getting too detailed about just what they do mean, the result of creation is a something, while the result of a design is a plan.
    There are plenty examples of design which never were implemented, perhaps because they were impossible. For whatever reason, design alone is not enough to account for the existence of something.
    And the advocates of ID never get around to talking about what happens, when and where, how and why, so that the world of life turns out as it is. They spend their time on denying evolution, not in offering a constructive alternative. “Something, somehow, is wrong with evolution as an explanation” does not tell us what role “intelligent design” might play in an account for the variety of life on Earth.

  17. The DI apparently hasn’t heard the news that mousetraps aren’t irreducibly complex. Not to mention the vacuous “fine tuning” nonsense. With 10^20 or so planets, I’d bet there are some with magnetic fields like the Earth’s. Maybe even some on which life has evolved. Oh, and when you get some evidence that something magically interacts with the forces and matter in the universe, let us know.

  18. Jupiter’s magnetic field is far stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field, but none of us live there. Deer are also commonly known as prey, their magnetic field sensing does not alter that designation. The “designer” is a complete idiot, unsurprisingly just like the “designer’s” inventers.

  19. I think it’s kind of sweet that Kevin thinks he’s the first creationist to drop by and debunk evolution.

  20. michaelfugate

    He also thinks we haven’t encountered their “strongest” arguments or are afraid to tackle them. I am guessing he hasn’t sampled the “Curmudgeon’s Best” and other goodies on the right sidebar. Check it out Kevin, you might be enlightened.

  21. docbill1351

    His full name is Kevin C- , reflecting the highest grade he ever got in school and that was in PE.
    Typical creationist know-nothing dolt
    Move along, nothing to see here we haven’t demolished a thousand times before.

  22. And not the last one who will not tell us what does happen, if it does not involve evolution.

  23. Did the Discoveroids make any mention of the fact that there seems to be some relationship between the genes that regulate this behavior, and the very, very similar genes that regulate this behavior in fish? No?

  24. Did anyone ever remark on the design of the world of life whereby prey species have the complex specified chemistry that fits them to be food for predator species?

  25. Kevin C
    I can’t seem to find a comments section on that ENV post…


  26. TomS, if I’m making fried chicken for dinner, then why are there still chickens?

  27. docbill1351


    Good old Jon Davison, former biology professor sadly gone mad. RIP, old Jon! His Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis, PEH, which was really a Multivariate Evolutionary Hypothesis, MEH, actually had more meat on its bones than anything produced by the clowns at the Disco Tute. As Jon would have said, fondly, “Ain’t that some dingleberries!”

  28. Kevin, do the words ad hominem register with you?

    I know, I know–there are plenty of snide assaults on creationists here. That doesn’t entitle you to get all huffy about it and respond with snide remarks of your own.

  29. Christine Janis

    “– Include quotes of the original article to make the post appear twice as long as it really is.”

    OK, Kevin — so do you think that Curmie should *avoid* quoting what the article actually said, and just give us his potted version?

  30. Christine Janis

    How creationists imagine their comments influence the real world