The Discoveroids’ Top Ten for 2021: #4 and #3

We have almost arrived at the peak of the Discovery Institute’s list of their Top Ten accomplishments for the year. For those who are just now joining us, you can find their Number Ten mentioned here: Curmudgeonly Christmas 2021 & Free Fire Zone, and then we posted Discoveroids’ Top Ten for the Year — 9, 8, & 7. And most recently we posted The Discoveroids’ Top Ten for 2021: #6 and #5.

Those were all thrilling scientific accomplishments, but as you will soon see, they are as nothing compared to the items above them on the Discoveroids’ list. Today, dear reader, we’re getting close to the top, so brace yourself for what you’re about to read.

At the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog we find #4 Story of 2021: Human Origins Research Is a Big Mess, and it’s a copy of a Discoveroid post written by Günter Bechly on 10 May of this year. We somehow ignored it then, but now we have another opportunity to appreciate its incredible importance. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

In several articles at Evolution News (Bechly 2017a-d, 2018a-b, 2019a-d) [Günter’s incomprehensible citations will hereafter be omitted!] and podcasts at ID the Future I have described in recent years how human origins research is in a ridiculous state of constant major “rewritings” and refutations of allegedly indisputable textbook wisdom. This is mainly due to surprising new discoveries of hominin fossils. The situation goes far beyond the healthy normal progress of science. Instead, it suggests that something is wrong with the general narrative, which needs not just some rewriting here and there, but a major rethinking and paradigm change (Bechly 2017c).

We’ve seen that sort of thing from Günter before, which is probably why we skipped the post the Discoveroids are trumpeting now. For example see Günter Bechly Says Darwinism Fails Again.

It seems that Günter wants a perfectly-preserved fossil from every generation showing every little step in human evolution, and whenever something new is found, he claims the whole subject is in chaos. For some reason, his latest post on that theme is one of the Discoveroids’ greatest accomplishments. Whoopie!

Moving along, the Discoveroids’ next post is #3 Story of 2021: In Mainstream Journal, ID Theorists on “Waiting Time” Problem for Coordinated Mutations. It’s a copy of something they posted on 18 August. For this year’s Top Ten list they don’t link to or give the titles of their earlier posts. They just copy them, so it’s a bit of a task for us to search our blog to see if we’ve written about this stuff.

We think we ignored this one, and for good reason. It’s about a recently published paper, about which they say:

The paper is part of the “Waiting Times” project, spurred by Discovery Institute as part of its ID 3.0 initiative, and it investigates a question of vital interest to the theory of intelligent design: How long does it take for traits to evolve when multiple mutations are required to give an advantage? A previous peer-reviewed publication from this team appeared as a chapter in the 2018 Springer volume Stochastic Processes and Applications. This latest paper is lengthy, technical, and math intensive. In other words, it’s not for the fainthearted, but it’s open access and free to read here. If you feel up to the challenge download and read!

And the last paragraph of their paper says this:

As I noted, this paper is methodological, meaning it’s only developing a mathematical model and not yet applying it to real world biological systems. [Aaaargh!!] One hopes in the future the team will apply their model to real biological systems. We will then see what the implications are for the viability of standard evolutionary mechanisms to account for the origin of such traits.

Of course we ignored it! So did just about everyone else, but now the Discoveroids are claiming that it’s of cosmic importance. We’ll let you judge this one dear reader.

So there you are. All that remains of the Discoveroids’ Top Ten list is Number Two and then — O the excitement! — Number One. Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

10 responses to “The Discoveroids’ Top Ten for 2021: #4 and #3

  1. I have described in recent years how human origins research is in a ridiculous state of constant major “rewritings” and refutations of allegedly indisputable textbook wisdom.

    Oh buzz off, Günter. Who the bleep thinks human origins research is static and indisputable. Go get a job somewhere as a projectionist.

  2. It appears to require heroic amounts of chutzpah to assert that much more is now known of earlier hominin species than forty years ago, and therefore humans didn’t evolve from them. Yet that is what Bechly is claiming.

    In fact, it’s even worse than that. The paper he cites with such relish is not about hominin species at all. It is about pre-hominins – the Miocene apes. Not a lot of evidence exists about them. The divergence between the ancestors of the gorilla and chimpanzee on the one hand and hominins on the other is still mysterious. Not surprising, that. Forest habitats are notoriously unlikely to preserve fossils, (except insects in amber, which Bechly is used to) and the further back we go, the more unlikely it gets.

    It’s true that the relationships between those species is conjectural, and that the whole hominin narrative is more complex than it used to be. But Bechly implies that the more we know about earlier hominins and pre-hominins, the more we must doubt evolution. The only rational reaction is the same as those who heard Matilda’s lies: “It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes”.

    But is it chutzpah? Me, I very much doubt that Bechly is sufficiently self-aware for it to be simply that. Irrational denialism, fueled by prejudice and downright malice is more likely, I think.

    And the DI? What about their chutzpah? Even Bechly, irrational as he is, doesn’t go beyond the expression “paradigm change”. Whatever he thinks that means, it doesn’t mean “junk the theory of evolution and go for ‘God did it’ instead”. That’s what the DI would like you to think, though. Hell, it’s what their faithful do think.

    So is this up with the proverbial murderer of his parents who petitioned the court for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan? Well, it is, at bottom, a reiteration of the argument from ignorance: “The lines of descent from the Miocene apes are not known in detail; therefore descent didn’t take place; therefore the theory of evolution is completely wrong”. But while the DI implies that argument, it doesn’t actually come out with it. This falls somewhat short of the barefaced gall required for chutzpah.

    So perhaps this is not chutzpah from the DI after all. It’s something more subtle. Subtle… where have I heard that description before?

  3. Are we sure we evolved? We are the species who determines who wins political debates by if a fly lands on their nose or not. Maybe creationists are right and we did not evolve.

  4. @richard
    Excuse me for being pedantic.
    “Evolve” does not mean “improve”. There is an old pre-scientific notion of a ladder of being (Scala Naturae) which Darwin had to distinguish from evolution. One of the discoveries about hominid evolution is that it is not a simple linear progression, but there are several species not ancestral to Homo sapiens.

  5. Excuse me for this off-topic post. Apparently the James Webb Space Telescope is going better than expected. NASA has said that it has extra reserve fuel to keep the telescope on course for more than 10 years! The European Space Ariana 5 worked close to ideal meaning that minimal in course adjustments are needed. And the solar shields seem to be deployed just fine.
    We can expect lots of new data requiring new ideas about the nature of change of the universe. Maybe we’ll learn more about exoplanets!

  6. The JWST will certainly inform us a great deal about exoplanets, and will help our understanding of the early Universe enormously. It will most likely improve our knowledge in directions we cannot even guess. It’s the single most complex mission to put the most complex artefact into space that has ever been undertaken, and so far it has gone flawlessly. (Murphy, I didn’t say that. You never heard it.)

    And it took off from French Guyana, boosted by a French rocket, with the countdown in French. NASA built it, but NASA couldn’t send it up. I actually remember the angst that was caused by the old USSR being the first to send up a satellite. I hope Americans have the same reaction to this.

    We gotta get offa this rock.

  7. Thanks @TomS that would explain why three Spidermen in the same movie is not an improvement.

  8. SC: “It seems that Günter wants a perfectly-preserved fossil from every generation showing every little step in human evolution, and whenever something new is found, he claims the whole subject is in chaos.”

    Yes. It’s a crying shame that our hominid ancestors hadn’t figured out how to cryopreserve their dead bodies (or better yet, their living sacrifice victims). At least, future (hopefully, way-distant future) anthropologists will have an easier time.

  9. @retiredsciguy
    But future biologists will have to contend with the results of real designs in life.

  10. @TomS:
    Ah, yes – Genetic engineering. Shall we call that “Evolution by Design”?