There’s a strangely-titled new post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: “Bird Brain” Is a Compliment, which has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Next time someone calls you a birdbrain, smile and say “thank you.”
The Discoveroids can expect a number of such compliments to be sent their way, except from those who don’t want to insult birds. Anyway, what’s their new post all about? They say:
Our feathered friends come well equipped with hardware and software for complex behaviors. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences puts birds on par with macaques and other mammals, and even suggests they can think.
This is the paper they’re talking about: Birds have primate-like numbers of neurons in the forebrain. You can read it online without a subscription. The “Significance” section is interesting:
Birds are remarkably intelligent, although their brains are small. Corvids and some parrots are capable of cognitive feats comparable to those of great apes. How do birds achieve impressive cognitive prowess with walnut-sized brains? We investigated the cellular composition of the brains of 28 avian species, uncovering a straightforward solution to the puzzle: brains of songbirds and parrots contain very large numbers of neurons, at neuronal densities considerably exceeding those found in mammals. Because these “extra” neurons are predominantly located in the forebrain, large parrots and corvids have the same or greater forebrain neuron counts as monkeys with much larger brains. Avian brains thus have the potential to provide much higher “cognitive power” per unit mass than do mammalian brains.
What does that mean to the Discoveroids? They don’t even consider the implication that human brains are poorly designed in comparison to the brains of birds. A thought like that would never occur to them. Instead, they tell us:
Finding such detail and complexity in the brains of birds poses a serious evolutionary problem. The old progressive gradualism of Darwin saw humans at the pinnacle of evolution, with everything that came before less advanced. To find that birds, so completely distant from mammals on the Tree of Life, having comparable brains to primates is unexpected from a Darwinian view.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] An unexpected challenge to the Darwinian view! We’re in big trouble now, dear reader. Then we’re told:
As Denyse O’Leary [Hee hee!] has explored here at Evolution News [the Discoveroids’ creationist blog], intelligence does not require a specific type of brain. What better way to dismiss evolutionary pathways than to show independent brain types with similar capabilities for cognition and intelligence?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Indeed — what better way to dismiss evolution? Then they haul out their “theory” of intelligent design, and offer that as the obvious solution:
One cause we know that can optimize multiple, competing constraints is intelligence. When a cause is known to be necessary and sufficient to explain a phenomenon, that cause should be preferred as the vera causa (true cause).
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is the vera causa.
Skipping to the end, we are presented with a challenge:
Go ahead. With all this in mind, you can judge the credibility of the evolutionary explanation for yourself.
Well, dear reader. Do you have the courage to accept the Discoveroids’ challenge? Of course you don’t! It’s time you admitted that Darwin and mindless followers are fools, and accept that the Discoveroids’ designer is now revealed as the vera causa.
Addendum: The creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research talk about the same research and — no surprise — reach the came conclusion as the Discoveroids. Their title says it all: Neuron-Packed Bird Brains Point to Creation.
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