Denyse O’Leary on the Meyer controversy

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Denyse O’Leary has posted an entry on her weblog at Christianity.ca on the controversy surrounding the 2004 Meyer paper titled Darwinism - An Intellectual Scandal in Science?. O’Leary makes several claims and accusations about various critics of Meyer’s 2004 paper as well as some general accusations towards Panda’s Thumb. In this posting I will go through her major claims and show how they are based on various errors, such as getting the order of events wrong. O’Leary is author of the book By Design or by Chance and a freelance writer as well a columnist for various Christian resources.

I recently acquired O’Leary’s book “By Design or by chance” and have started to review the book. My overall impression of the book is that it presents the ID argument without much skepticism, and presents a strawman argument of Darwinism and its supporters. For instance Darwinism is often presented as relying on chance alone, or even as what remains after design is eliminated. The author is clear that she is on the supportive side of intelligent design and considers herself a ‘post-darwinist’, meaning that she accepts evolution but doubts that Darwinism is an adequate explanation. Her stated reasons are that “Darwin did not anticipate the complexity of the problems so his theory is not likely the solution”.

1. O’Leary and Eugenie Scott’s claims

O’Leary suggests that Eugenie Scott (Executive Director of the National Center for Science (NCSE)) made a claim about what the journal’s directors (sic) had stated.

Interestingly, contrary to Eugenie Scott’s claim, the journal’s directors did not claim that Meyer’s article was “substandard science,” but that it was “inappropriate” for the journal. Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

There are various problems with O’Leary’s claim:

First of all, contrary to O’Leary’s claim this statement was made by the Council of the Biological Society of Washington (BSW) not the journal’s directors (sic). A minor error but indicative of the general sloppiness of O’Leary’s article. Secondly, Eugenie Scott never suggested that the council of the BSW had made such claims. What she did say was:

“It’s too bad the Proceedings published it,” Scott said. “The article doesn’t fit the type of content of the journal. The bottom line is that this article is substandard science.” Eugenie Scott as quoted in The Scientist

No suggestion that Scott was talking about what the journal’s directors (sic) of the journal had to say about about the scientific quality of Meyer’s article.

On a closer reading one may interpret the somewhat ambiguous statement by O’Leary to mean that unlike Eugenie Scott, the Board of Directors stated that the reason for rejection was because of its inappropriate nature. Of course, the fact that the board remained silent on the issue of the quality of the paper should not be seen as a contradiction of Scott’s assertion. Anyway, O’Leary may want to use more precise language in her claim about Scott since it suggests that Scott made a claim about what the journal’s directors (sic) had said.

2. Unsupported accusations about Panda’s Thumb

O’Leary accuses the contributors of the Panda’s Thumb of abusing ID-friendly scholars in an unscholarly manner:

But things got worse. Meyer’s article attracted the attention of the Panda’s Thumb blog. If you want to see the possible demise of science, go to the Panda’s Thumb blog, a site dedicated to protecting Darwinism that has abused ID-friendly scholars in such unscholarly terms that viewing the Thumb can feel like watching thousands of years of civilization rushing down the drain Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

O’Leary however fails to produce any examples of such abuse (unless showing the lack of scientific merrit falls in this category) although in an email she received Tom Curtis challenged O’Leary to document her claim:

I invite you to find, and post on CED the five most offensive ad hominens from any blog dealing with the Myer (sic) article on the Panda’s Thumb. If you are unable, or unwilling to find any comparably offensive ad hominens, or any at all - perhaps you would consider it time to make an apology both on CED and on your own blog for your intemperate and inaccurate comments re the Panda’s Thumb. Tom Curtis on Anti-CED

Instead O’Leary countered

I myself was referred to as a “pustule” (see also item 6. below) on that site, and have not in fact had any further personal dealings with it, nor do I intend to.

I wonder what science journal would have published THAT?

I would be glad to know that the site has improved, but I am most certainly not going to search through it for evidence that it hasn’t improved. Denyse O’Leary on CED

Tom Curtis responded noticing that:

Of greater concern to me, however, is your apparent admission to not having read the various blogs in response to the Meyer article before condemning them in such resounding terms. Is that correct? You claim to have not had personal dealings with the Thumb since you were called a “pustule”, and that you see no reason to have personal dealings now to confirm whether or not they have improved there standard. As the only interaction that would have required is reading the primary articles, I can only presume that not having any “personal dealings” means not reading any part of the blog; and by inference, not having read the Thumb’s response to Meyer.Tom Curtis on anti-CED

In other words, O’Leary has jumped to a conclusion without any supporting evidence. Given O’Leary’s comments a reasonable conclusion is that O’Leary had stopped monitoring the Panda’s Thumb website after the June 10 comment and was thus likely unaware of the more recent contributions on Panda’s Thumb, including the Meyer critique. O’Leary does link to the Panda’s Thumb website but does not discuss in any detail the critique presented by Elsberry et al.

I would be interested to see O’Leary support her claims about the Panda’s Thumb (and the NCSE). I invite the readers of this forum to look at the Panda’s Thumb website and make up their own minds. While Panda’s Thumb is undeniably critical of ID I have found its articles to be mostly quite fair although hard hitting.

3. O’Leary suggests that Meyer has actually proposed an alternative hypothesis

So Meyer reviews the possible explanations and proposes intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinism. Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

However, other than asserting that ID is an alternative to (neo-)Darwinism, Meyer’s argument is purely a negative one namely, that he believes that neo-Darwinism fails to explain the data (something contradicted by actual research and evidence) and that thus ID is a reasonable or at least logical alternative. But Meyer fails to present ANY positive argument for design in his paper.

Interestingly enough Pennock seems to have predicted this in his chapter in Debating Design (edited by Dembski and Ruse, 2004). Pennock writes:

I have not seen the chapter that Meyer is writing on the Cambrian explosion for the present volume, but I encourage readers to check whether he departs from the pattern and offers any specific positive account. If ID is to have even a shot at being a real scientific alternative, one should expect to see some precise testable (and eventually tested) hypotheses that answer the obvious questions: what was designed and what wasn’t; and when, where, how, and by whom was design information supposedly inserted. 7 Pennock in DNA by Design?: Stephen Meyer and the Return of the God Hypothesis. in Debating Design. New York: Cambridge University Press

The lack of any kind of ID model is the real issue and for those interested in the details please see this link where I explore this in more detail.

4. O’Leary states that Sternberg runs the risk of being fired.

Fortunately, Sternberg, who risks being fired, has had the good sense to reply to his critics. Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

Sternberg does not risk being fired since his term as editor already expired. From the website to which O’Leary actually links we read

Following my resignation in October 2003, a new managing editor for the Proceedings was selected in May of 2004, and the transition from my editorship to the new editor has taken place over the past few months. By the time that the controversy emerged I was finishing up my last editorial responsibilities. Thus, my stepping down had nothing to do with the publication of the Meyer paper. Sternberg on Sternberg’s website

This is another example of extreme sloppiness in O’Leary’s reporting of events.

5. O’Leary gets the chronology wrong

O’Leary suggests a chronology of events which is at odds with the actual chronology. Denyse states that it was first the NCSE who quickly denounced the paper followed by Panda’s Thumb when in fact Panda’s Thumb was the first to publish their critique.

NCSE, a Darwin lobby dedicated, it seems, to shutting down discussion about the failures of Darwinism, was quick to denounce this unprecedented event. “It’s too bad the Proceedings published it,” said executive director Eugenie Scott, “The article doesn’t fit the type of content of the journal. The bottom line is that this article is substandard science.”

But things got worse. Meyer’s article attracted the attention of the Panda’s Thumb blog. If you want to see the possible demise of science, go to the Panda’s Thumb blog, a site dedicated to protecting Darwinism that has abused ID-friendly scholars in such unscholarly terms that viewing the Thumb can feel like watching thousands of years of civilization rushing down the drain. Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

But it was in fact Panda’s Thumb which was the first to respond to the Meyer article, the rest of the commentary followed later. A minor detail but it shows the sloppiness in O’Leary’s arguments and claims.

6. O’Leary objects to being called a ‘pustule’

The only evidence to support her assertions about Panda’s Thumb presented by O’Leary was a statement that someone had called her a “pustule”. I have to agree that this is not a very friendly term but how does this compare with

All you who value freedom of thought, try to make the time to go to Center for Science and Culture and read Meyer’s paper. Read it and pass it on, before today’s intellectual brownshirts find some way to stop you. Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

But contrary to O’Leary’s claims, Panda’s Thumb and others have linked to the paper in question so rather than trying to stop people from seeing the paper. ID Critics, not surprisingly given the quality of the work, are eager to refer to it. O’Leary, to her credit, does link to the Panda’s Thumb critique of Meyer’s paper, but virtually every other pro-ID voice, especially the Discovery Institute, has refused to link to it. They seem to hope that if they ignore the critique, it will go away, or at least not get noticed.

The following notice was briefly posted on the Discovery Institute website but was quickly removed.

On August 26th, a critique of the article authored by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke and Wesley Elsberry appeared on the Panda’s Thumb website. For this reason, we have decided to make Dr. Meyer’s article available now in HTML format on this website. (Off prints are also available from Discovery Institute by writing to Keith Pennock at [Enable javascript to see this email address.]. …) We trust that the Pandas Thumb critique of Meyer’s article will seem a good deal less persuasive, and less substantive than Meyer’s article itself, once readers have had a chance to read Meyer’s essay. Dr. Meyer will, of course, respond in full to Gishlick et al. in due course. Discovery Institute CSC website

Note that Discovery Institute did not link to the Pandas Thumb (sic) critique of Meyer’s article.

7. O’Leary confuses the timeline of events when she states the following:

At this point, her [Eugenie Scott’s] group [NCSE] is simply acting against the science community’s interests. If the editors of a journal are right or wrong to publish what they did, let their own subscribers say so. There is really no place for a pressure group like hers. Denyse O’Leary on CED

But it was PBSW subscribers that complained vociferously to BSW council, and contacted NCSE about the paper in the first place, who were instrumental in the Board’s decision.

Hearing that an ID paper was published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington I informed a colleague that routinely publishes there of the apparent change in editorial policy. Upon hearing this, she immediately contacted several individuals and found that the paper was not sent to any of the associate editors as is the usual procedure. Also, the editor in question is no longer in charge. Also, there will be an explanation and a condemnation of the article being published in the next issue. Mark A. Grobner on Panda’s Thumb

In fact it was the actions of members of the Biological Society which contacted the NCSE

Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, told The Scientist that Dr. Meyer’s article came to her attention when members of the Biological Society of Washington contacted her office. “Many members of the society were stunned about the article,” she told The Scientist, and she described the article as “recycled material quite common in the intelligent design community.” Dr. Scott, a well known and ardent defender of evolutionary theory, called Dr. Meyer’s article “substandard science” and argued that the article should never have been published in any scientific journal. Eugenie Scott as quoted in the Scientist

See also

NCSE has already heard from a number of members of the Biological Society of Washington (which has about 250 members in all), who are concerned about the reputation of the society and its journal after the publication of such a piece of substandard work in the apparent service of a non-scientific ideology. Glenn Branch in an email to friends of the NCSE

Does this mean that O’Leary accepts the role of the subscribers (members) of the Biological Society of Washington? The timeline of events shows that the subscribers initiated the necessary action resulting in the Board’s decision.

8. An issue of intellectual freedom?

That O’Leary is attempting to portray this issue as intellectual freedom misses the point. Neither NCSE nor anyone at the Panda’s Thumb has been calling for the BSW to retract the paper. Rather, they have criticized the paper on the scientific merits, concluded that the paper is quite poor scientifically, and then questioned how the article got published, given these facts. It is a good thing that the DI has put Meyer’s paper up on the web for all to see, because the dramatic flaws even in ID’s “best shot” are be exposed for all to see.”

Instead of intimidation, Panda’s Thumb contributors have simply been documenting the major shortcomings in Meyer’s ‘review’ article.

In addition, the Council of the BSW looked at the paper and concluded that its content was not in accordance with the stated subject matter of the journal.

The paper by Stephen C. Meyer in the Proceedings (“The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239) represents a significant departure from the nearly purely taxonomic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 124-year history. It was published without the prior knowledge of the Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, or the associate editors. We have met and determined that all of us would have deemed this paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings. Press release of the Biological Society of Washington

The claims that there is intimidation or even pressure to suppress ID research is ill supported and distract from the real issues. Why does O’Leary instead not focus on what Panda’s Thumb IS arguing namely that the paper has some fundamental flaws and omissions? The Discovery Institute originally stated that Meyer would address the critique. However, that promise was quickly removed.

The real Intellectual scandal is that ID supporters are focusing exclusively on issues that are either superficial or completely imaginary, rather than dealing with the numerous mistakes and omissions in Meyer’s paper.

I have searched for references asking for suppression or retraction of the paper but found little to support O’Leary’s viewpoint. Among the articles on NCSE Website we find such quotes as

The crew at the Panda’s Thumb blog has already posted a preliminary critique of the paper, under the title “Meyer’s Hopeless Monster”. The critique identifies a large number of errors, confusions, and omissions in the paper, concluding: “There is nothing wrong with challenging conventional wisdom – continuing challenge is a core feature of science. But challengers should at least be aware of, read, cite, and specifically rebut the actual data that supports conventional wisdom, not merely construct a rhetorical edifice out of omission of relevant facts, selective quoting, bad analogies, knocking down strawmen, and tendentious interpretations. Unless and until the ‘intelligent design’ movement does this, they are not seriously in the game. They’re not even playing the same sport.”

NCSE has already heard from a number of members of the Biological Society of Washington (which has about 250 members in all), who are concerned about the reputation of the society and its journal after the publication of such a piece of substandard work in the apparent service of a non-scientific ideology.

In other words the NCSE is focusing on concerns by members of the Biological Society of Washington .

9. Accusations of censorship

O’Leary asserts that Science journals dare not to publish an ID-friendly paper because they will be assaulted from all directions by Darwinists.

Now the sordid truth is revealed: Science journals dare not publish an ID-friendly paper, because they will be assaulted from all directions by Darwinists. Remember this incident, the next time you hear any such claim. Denyse O’Leary on Christianity.ca

In reality the story seems to be quite different.

  • Panda’s Thumb publishes a detailed critique of the paper. Its authors observe that the paper seems to be “out of the journal’s typical sphere of publication” and “dismal scientifically” and speculate as to how the paper passed peer review.
  • Members of the BSW contacted the NCSE and the Council of the BSW voicing their concerns
  • The Council of the BSW released a press-release observing that the paper was “inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings.”

Instead of addressing these issues, O’Leary is observed stating:

If you think I’ve said unkind things about them before, just watch me now. Denyse O’Leary on CED

I do not mind to hear unkind things but it would help if there were some justification for doing so. So far, we have seen that Denyse has NOT shown that such justification exists.

Let me finish with a somewhat ironic statement made by O’Leary in an interview

Are the miracles of the cell and the eye, and the Cambrian Explosion really the result of blind chance, compelled by law? Darwin knew nothing of these things. He was a clever man, but he had no idea what he was talking about. Denyse O’Leary in an interview on CanadianChristianity.com

Seems that O’Leary is unfamiliar with Darwin’s books in which he does address the Cambrian Explosion and the evolution of the eye.

This Website documents Darwin’s comments on the evolution of the eye. Similarly Darwin discusses the Cambrian in some detail in his written works. To suggest that Darwin did not know what he was talking about seems rather a strenuous conclusion.

Of course to refer to Darwinian evolution as blind chance compelled by law, also misses the point. In the above interview O’Leary makes various additional comments which suggest an unfamiliarity with the scientific method, methodological naturalism and evolutionary theory (hint: design is not ruled out in principle). Read for instance her comments on the evolution of the eye. Her comments on the eye are mind boggling. Compare that with for instance Darwin’s comments and remember Darwin did not have the knowledge we have of the genetics of the eye.

Finally we may wonder at the irony of O’Leary’s parting comments

I’ve never in my life focused on the negative, and don’t intend to start now.Denyse O’Leary on CED


27 Comments

Another Christian bearing false witness

Darwin knew nothing of these things. He was a clever man, but he had no idea what he was talking about.

Another person who’s never read On the Origin of Species. She would be shocked at how much he knew, and how powerfully he dealt with the overwhelming confusion of evidence. When you read it, it is very clear you are in the presence of a mind more capable than your own.

Sounds like an adversarial proceeding. A lawyer is hired to get his client off, NOT to help determine what actually happened. It’s his job to hide evidence as required, to misrepresent facts, to build a misleading context, and to claim he is doing none of these things. And this is right and proper, because the lawyer’s goal is to WIN. Victors write the histories.

Flint wrote:

Sounds like an adversarial proceeding. A lawyer is hired to get his client off, NOT to help determine what actually happened. It’s his job to hide evidence as required, to misrepresent facts, to build a misleading context, and to claim he is doing none of these things. And this is right and proper, because the lawyer’s goal is to WIN. Victors write the histories.

The disturbing thing is that O’Leary’s profession is journalist. As such, she should be trained, and professional ethics should compell her to investigate the story fully before going to print. While a lawyer is expected to get their client of, no matter what the truth - a journalist is supposed to give a higher priority to truth than to advocacy.

Unfortunately, O’Leary considers any expectation of even minimum professional standards as supression of free speach, and an attack on herself. This is not the first time she has been caught making unfounded allegations against evolutionists:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Creat[…]message/8804 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anti-[…]/message/446 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Creat[…]message/8870

I doubt it will be the last.

While on topic, and in the appropriate location, I must express my disapointment (though not surprise) that Gary Hurd called O’Leary a “pustule”. I do not think it could ever be appropriate to call someone a “pustule”; just as it is never appropriate to call people “brown shirts” for purely verbal criticisms of your favoured ideas. This is not a criticism of the Panda’s Thumb, or of the Panda’s Thumb crew. Comments on the Thumb are noteworthy for their lack of ad hominens, and the crew in general are exemplars of respectful - and telling - criticisms of their opponents.

Tom Curtis

a journalist is supposed to give a higher priority to truth than to advocacy.

It seems fairly clear that O’Leary has religious convictions, which means she has the Truth already. And one of the doctrinal requirements of her religion is that it’s her duty to advocate this Truth. I have little doubt that she knows the full story; such knowledge leads to more effective advocacy. To a Believer, advocating recieved Truth is the ONLY ethical action. Whatever it takes. It can’t be false witness because God SAYS so.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

My take is that she, like most creationists, is making honest mistakes. She is not knowingly propogating falsehoods, and would be astonished that anyone could think that she is. Because of this, she would view any suggestion to the contrary as a baseless ad hominen, and further proof, if any were required, of evolutionists’ perfidy.

It is incomprehensible to me how such a massive disconnection between their self image and their actual behaviour can occur, but I have no doubt that it does.

I am sure Denyse O’Leary thinks she has acted with complete intellectual, and moral integrity on this issue. That she evidently has not makes no impact on her. Likewise, I am sure she thinks that Gishlick, Matzke and Elsberry’s article, as also the comments by Eugene Scott are inapropriate attempts to supress criticism of Darwinism.

I am not sure how to describe this sort of intellectual disconection, and the falsehoods propogated as a consequence of it. I wish there was a simple term for it. Something like “Third degree lies”, on analogy with “third degree murder”, ie, falsehoods propogated as a result of morally culpable negligence of truth.

In the sense of “third degree lies”, creationism is rife with liars, and Denyse O’Leary is one of them. But I don’t think we should confuse this with “first degree lying”, which is what you have effectively accused O’Leary of.

Denyse may be sloppy in some of her reporting (as I believe I have documented) but I have communicated various times with Denyse and she is a friendly, enthusiastic and spiritual person and I am convinced that she would not lie (oh how do I hate this word since most any accusation of lying requires an understanding of motives and opportunities seldomly available to us).

Given the knee jerk response by the Discovery Institute and various other ID outlets, I understand why she got upset with what she thought was an attempt to silence critics of evolutionary theory. I believe that her outrage is misdirected but would NOT accuse her of being a liar or bearing false witness. She is presenting to her audience her best understanding of the issues and while I disagree strongly on various aspects, I consider her to be a honorable person. Which does not prevent me however from often disagreeing with her.

Effective communication involves listening to those with whom with disagree, understanding their points of view and presenting our best arguments as to why they may be incorrect or incomplete. Accusations of lying, the usage of ad hominems only leads to a disconnect between people, cutting of any meaningful communication and reinforces stereotypes and perceptions. If we ever hope to communicate our viewpoints to those who are either fence sitters or even committed ID proponents, we need to listen and respond in a meaningful manner to what they are saying. Of course that is all my personal opinion and I understand that there are some on this board who hold different viewpoints. I cannot claim that mine is more or less valid, it’s just mine.

I certainly didn’t mean to imply that she is lying. I wrote that she is defending the Truth as she knows it, and that advocating Truth is the only ethical action for her. The fact that her Truth may derive from religious doctrine, whereas the truth of others may derive from observation, makes neither of them any less true to whoever accepts them.

I think the missed communication here is that “we” know that her claims are untrustworthy. We presume that she either knows this as well (and is thus dishonest), or that she does not (and is thus ignorant). But neither of these options truly applies. I presume she is being genuinely sincere.

The comparison to a lawyer arguing a case was a comparison of style and intent, not a moral comparison. It occurs within a context where one party is absolutely correct. The context of people trying to determine what is most probably (but always tentatively) correct just doesn’t fit the behavior described.

Pim, I am not sure to what extent we disagree, if we disagree at all. We certainly agree that O’Leary is not intentionally lying. She is, however, propogating untruths when even a minimal effort to apply good reporting techniques would have prevented her from doing so. The reporting was not just sloppy, it was negligently sloppy. If you undertake to inform people on a subject, you also undertake to do so responsibly. When you damn a group as resoundingly as O’Leary has, you owe it to yourself and your readership to ensure the condemnation is warranted.

O’Leary’s condemnation of the Panda’s Thumb, and of evolutionists in general was not faint hearted. In fact, it was far more offensive than any mere accusation of lying. Further, it was entirely unwarranted, and she did not make the minimum effort to check as to whether it was warranted.

So here is a first disagreement. That is not honourable behaviour. As she persistently acts like that, she is not honourable. In my opinion it is immoral behaviour, and only slightly less so than the behaviour of deliberate liars.

That sort of behaviour is endemic in the creationist community. You would be hard pressed to find a well known creationist who has not exhibited it to some extent, and many carry it to extremes.

It is ridiculously easy to find examples of “creationist lies” on the web. On close examination, all, or nearly all, of them are examples of “Lies in the third degree”. They are not examples of deliberate dishonesty so much as examples untrue claims made because the creationist was not carefull to ensure what they said was true. This applies of Kent Hovind, of Gish’s “bullfrog”, of Well’s on Peppered Moths, and any of a host of other examples.

There is a tendency amongst Christian evolutionists to recognise the underlying sincerity of the O’Leary’s of creationism. Good! We should recognise that. But we should also recognise their criminal carelessness with truth. Because (some) Christian evolutionists recognise that sincerity, they want to not point out the carelessness with truth in order to maintain dialogue. I do not think any actual dialogue results, for the creationists are not trying to maintain their half of the dialogue. In the meantime, however, the creationist propaganda mill spews out its careless untruths to a church which is never clearly told how “dishonest” the creationists are.

The creation/evolution debate will not be won in the short term until the creationist suport base clearly understands this, and they will never understand this until they are clearly told.

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Thanks Tim for the links. They help understand Denyse’s viewpoint and seem to support my assessment of her book.

I followed the links supplied by Tim and read Ms. O’Leary’s comments, as well as the well-thought out replies to her at ASA. At risk of being accused of going “ad hominem” (ad feminem?) here, it does appear to me that the ‘y’ in her first name is vestigal.

I followed the links, and what I see is what I’ve seen repeatedly ad nauseum:

1) The Bible is Truth. It is the Word of God, and cannot be questioned. 2) Theories of evolution contradict the Bible. Therefore they MUST be wrong. 3) Reality cannot contradict God, because God created reality. Therefore, those who accept evolution MUST be misinterpreting the evidence. 4) Their refusal to open their minds to God’s Truth shows that they, rather than creationists, are victims of a false faith. 5) Explanations that fail to fit the evidence as scientists understand it cannot be false, because the Truth is already known beyond doubt. Therefore it is the scientists, not the Believers, who MUST BE misrepresenting reality. To bend over backwards giving them the benefit of the doubt, they must be suffering from a failure of critical thinking. By definition, anyone whose interpretation fails to agree with known Truth is either misguided or dishonest. God doesn’t lie!

So I can understand Denyse’s position, I think. It’s not necessary to eat the entire egg to know that it’s rotten; she need not read in detail everything said on Panda’s Thumb to know it’s wrong, anymore than Panda’s Thumb contributors need read Kent Hovind’s every word. Both sides know the position taken by the other, and both sides know the other is hopelessly wrong. All that remains is for each side to speculate as to what pathology the other may suffer from.

5) Explanations that fail to fit the evidence as scientists understand it cannot be false, because the Truth is already known beyond doubt. Therefore it is the scientists, not the Believers, who MUST BE misrepresenting reality. To bend over backwards giving them the benefit of the doubt, they must be suffering from a failure of critical thinking. By definition, anyone whose interpretation fails to agree with known Truth is either misguided or dishonest.

That’s a really good point. Creationists I’ve known have failed to appreciate the offensive implications of their beliefs. Either many thousands of biologists, dozens of biology organizations, and the biology departments of dozens of the top schools have a belief about their area of expertise which any high-schooler can easily refute, or they’re in conspiracy to promote something they know is wrong. I’ve asked creationists to tell me which of these options is correct, but most have dissembled.

Tom writes

I do not think any actual dialogue results, for the creationists are not trying to maintain their half of the dialogue. In the meantime, however, the creationist propaganda mill spews out its careless untruths to a church which is never clearly told how “dishonest” the creationists are.

The creation/evolution debate will not be won in the short term until the creationist suport base clearly understands this, and they will never understand this until they are clearly told.

Yes. Clearly told, over and over and over again. The smart ones will figure it out. The hopelessly confused and hopelessly religious never will. But the smart ones, those that value integrity and clarity over fuzz and deception, will figure it out … eventually.

GWW:

I just don’t get this from my conversations with religious people (not just fanatics). They *know* god created them. If evolutionary theories say otherwise, then those theories must be wrong somehow. Even if creationists are unable to pinpoint with any rigor how evolution is wrong, the point is that rigor is not necessary. The key point is always that evolution is Godless (or at best that God’s intervention is not required by the theory). This CANNOT be right! It’s nearly impossible to believe in a God who does nothing.

And so the creationists aren’t regarded as deceptive, but rather as inspired and courageous. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether or not the creationists are able to develop a formal relationship between evidence and scripture; such an exercise is superfluous. What’s important is to praise God.

God gives us free will, and the perverse among us will use that flexibility to forward the evil religion of humanism, but they cannot prevail. The Truth will out. God has spoken.

The battle isn’t among us, debating about the tension between evidence and scripture. All of our minds are already made up. The battle is for the next generations.

Flint writes

All of our minds are already made up.

In fact, people change their minds all the time, often times based on facts about which they were previously unaware. Agnostics and atheists are “born again”. And “born again” people are unborn. And then there are those who are capable of keeping their religious beliefs and their understanding of natural phenomenon in separate spheres, but who haven’t yet given the evolution “controversy” any of their attention. These people are worth reaching out to. Scientists can, should and do use their support in battling public misconceptions about science and religion.

I just don’t get this from my conversations with religious people (not just fanatics).

What can I say except that your personal experiences don’t prove that every person that is a creationist today is going to be a creationist tomorrow.

Did you ever post something to the internet and have someone else write, in effect, “What the hell are you talking about? Don’t you know that blah blah blah blah?”

And then, chastened, you investigate the facts further and you discover that, yes, you were full of crap when you wrote your post? And then you realize that your position isn’t as credible as you thought it was? And so you change your position so it more closely aligns with the facts?

If not, you are either a super-genius and/or very very reticent to post unless you are 100% sure of what you are talking about. Many people do not fit in either of these two categories. Such people are susceptible to a process known as “learning.” Yes, such people do exist. How do I know that? I’ve met some. ;)

Flint wrote:

So I can understand Denyse’s position, I think. It’s not necessary to eat the entire egg to know that it’s rotten; she need not read in detail everything said on Panda’s Thumb to know it’s wrong, anymore than Panda’s Thumb contributors need read Kent Hovind’s every word. Both sides know the position taken by the other, and both sides know the other is hopelessly wrong. All that remains is for each side to speculate as to what pathology the other may suffer from.

The attitude is correctly described, but is reprehensible. Even when debating Hovind’s most bizare claims, the evolutionists I respect take the trouble to read what Hovind read on the subject, and to provide detailed and emperical rebutal of the claims. We do this because we have no right to assume our disputants know better; and we do this because we may be wrong, and the only way we will become informed of that is if we do undertake to make detailed, emperical rebutals of those views we disagree with. (See, for instance http://members.aol.com/dwise1/cre_e[…]ar_mass.html ) We may not learn our error from so doing, but at least we give ourselves the opportunity to do so.

This attitude is respect for truth; and without it claims to respect or serve truth are simply unwarranted self congratulation.

Any familiarity with the C/E debate shows that evolutionists (generally) do, and that creationists (generally) do not respect truth in this way. It is for this reason that many creationists habitually make claims that can be distinguished from deliberate, and outrageous lies only by invoking very complex (if probably true) psychological models.

The problem is, the great majority of evangelical/fundamentalist/charismatic Christians accept that the people who purport to teach them about evolution - the Hovinds, Gishs and Johnsons of the world - are respectfull of truth. In this they are exactly like the majority of people who accept evolution, who do it on scientists say so. But the creationist majority will never accept evolution unless Christian evolutionists clearly point out to them that the “creation scientists” and IDists are not respectfull of truth.

To return to Pim’s comments again:

Effective communication involves listening to those with whom with disagree, understanding their points of view and presenting our best arguments as to why they may be incorrect or incomplete. Accusations of lying, the usage of ad hominems only leads to a disconnect between people, cutting of any meaningful communication and reinforces stereotypes and perceptions. If we ever hope to communicate our viewpoints to those who are either fence sitters or even committed ID proponents, we need to listen and respond in a meaningful manner to what they are saying.

This is exactly true when discussing with particular people, or particular issues. But at the same time it must be made crystal clear that the creationists in the debate are not respectfull of truth. If you do not get that message across, then the mere fact of a superficially reasoned discussion gives the false message that the creationists are respectfull of truth. And with that message, Christians, whose overwhelming source of information is creationist, who even if they look into the issue will find mostly creationist perspectives in their local bookstore, and those cheaper than the alternative, whose main sources of Christian information on other issues (such as Christianity Today) assume creationism, and who, in their local churches are faced with vocal creationists while the evolutionists are silent because they “do not want to cause offence”, will of course accept the creationist perspective.

Johnson is correct when he claims the mere act of debate is a victory for ID. This is a victory we must give him because we respect truth. We cannot, and do not want to, avoid debating the issues. We can concede that battle, but then to win the war we must strike at the creationist home ground - the casual assumption be Christtians that creationists are honest brokers in the C/E debate.

GWW:

Such people are susceptible to a process known as “learning.” Yes, such people do exist. How do I know that? I’ve met some. ;)

Then I envy you. I have met many people whose “faith” lies in the data, and whose conclusions change as new data are discovered or as better explanations of existing data are presented. I have NEVER met a “former creationist” whose eyes were opened by consideration of the data. If you have, you are fortunate indeed. I don’t believe it.

Tom Curtis:

Even when debating Hovind’s most bizare claims, the evolutionists I respect take the trouble to read what Hovind read on the subject, and to provide detailed and emperical rebutal of the claims. We do this because we have no right to assume our disputants know better…

While you may be right, I respectfully disagree based on my experience. Yes, evolutionists read everything Hovind says. But they don’t do so in the hopes of sharing Hovind’s faith, but rather to maximize the evidence against his position. They KNOW Hovind is a kook; everything he writes is grist for the mill.

This attitude is respect for truth; and without it claims to respect or serve truth are simply unwarranted self congratulation.

Don’t throw your arm out of joint patting yourself on the back! Hovind has his Truth, you have yours. Yours is based on observation, his is based on scripture. Yours is a fallible human guess at what the evidence means; his is the Word of God. You assume your interpretation respects truth, and that his interpretation of doctrine does not. Reading what you write gives me real insight into the creationist claim that evolutionism is only another (and false) faith.

Neither you nor Hovind has any superior claim to “truth”, only to utility. Your approach has genuine practical advantages in the real world, his has genuine practical advantages in answering metaphysical questions most people ask, and providing the kind of absolute answers most people need. Hovind’s (and by extension the general creationist) insight that scientific theories, and evolution in particular, render God irrelevant, is the enemy being faced. Let’s face it.

many creationists habitually make claims that can be distinguished from deliberate, and outrageous lies only by invoking very complex (if probably true) psychological models.

This cuts both ways. Every approach has advantages and disadvantages, and those characteristics make sense only within certain contexts. From an evidentiary viewpoint, creationism is bogus. But does our interpretation of evidence matter when God has spoken? If this question doesn’t mean anything to you, you can’t understand your enemy.

The problem is, the great majority of evangelical/fundamentalist/charismatic Christians accept that the people who purport to teach them about evolution - the Hovinds, Gishs and Johnsons of the world - are respectfull of truth.

I am stunned. This is a projection of the most self-serving motivation. The great majority of Christians accept that these people are respectful of scripture, which is God’s Truth. The issue among denominations concerns how scripture is to be interpreted. Its truth is not questioned. And scripture must be interpreted most indirectly and with very liberal poetic licence, if it is to be found not to conflict with evolution. Many Christians see no compelling reason to stretch quite that far.

But the creationist majority will never accept evolution unless Christian evolutionists clearly point out to them that the “creation scientists” and IDists are not respectfull of truth.

I regard this as missing the point in important ways. The majority of Christians will accept evolution ONLY when they are convinced that their belief in God, and God’s Word in the Bible, remains inviolate. The Idists are attempting strenuously to find the Christian God hiding in the natural universe, and claim to have found Him using science. This is a tantalizing and persuasive claim, because the majority of Christians WANT to believe it.

But at the same time it must be made crystal clear that the creationists in the debate are not respectfull of truth.

This is a blueprint for failure. Creationists are fully respectful of GOD’S TRUTH. Now, it so happens that God’s truth (as interpreted by creationists) conflicts with “evolutionist truth”, which in turn is based on fallible human speculation about limited evidence. So which is the “better” truth”? God’s truth (set forth literally in the Bible), or the speculations of the scientists, who often disagree with one another and whose theories are occasionally overturned wholesale?

Tom Curtis, you are equating YOUR truth with ABSOLUTE truth. Is it any wonder you are regarded as worshiping a false faith?

Johnson is correct when he claims the mere act of debate is a victory for ID. This is a victory we must give him because we respect truth. We cannot, and do not want to, avoid debating the issues.

Bad attitude. We must debate, even though by doing so we allow Johnson to advertise that his issues are “challenging science”, NOT because we “respect truth” but because we feel that the scientific way of knowing has compelling advantages too important to be discarded. Perhaps we need to debate less to try to illustrate that the creationists are mangling the facts, and more to illustrate that the religious approach to knowledge may be emotionally fulfilling but is technologically bankrupt.

Flint writes

Your approach has genuine practical advantages in the real world, his has genuine practical advantages in answering metaphysical questions most people ask, and providing the kind of absolute answers most people need.

Let’s be clear that Hovind also lives in the “real world.” That means that his feces stink, he puts his pants on one leg at a time, and he needs a steady supply of food and water to survive. So, while I have zero use for Hovind’s “Truth” and his metaphysical tool kit, Hovind, like every creature on the planet capable of reasoning, is dependent on my tool kit and relies on it for a substantial portion of every day of his life.

This is why the concept of “competing worldviews” is such a joke. We all use reason and logic. Scientists, judges and lawyers just happen to use it professionally, in addition to the universally recognized everday applications. And people, including evangelical Christians, regularly pay scientists, judges and lawyers to engage in the use of naturalist and materialist thinking.

This is precisely why anti-“naturalist” anti-evolution Christian creationists are ignorant hypocrites at best and liars at worst. And its why scientists can make their arguments about evolution honestly and without the inherent hypocracy that plagues ID apologists (for example).

So Tom is absolutely correct when he says that creationists don’t respect the truth. The truth is that creationists are as “naturalist” and “materialist” as scientists are with respect to almost every other aspect of their lives. They take advantage every day of the work of scientists. Yet they trash the otherwise reasonable work of scientists only when it conflicts with their admittedly metaphysical beliefs.

This hypocracy is at the heart of the failure of ID and the failure of the arguments which creationists have been trying to make for 100+ years. The creationists have to ignore and abandon facts when they make their arguments for a very specific and important reason. If that specific and important reason didn’t exist, then their arguments would be completely different. More likely, they wouldn’t be arguing at all.

GWW:

Let’s be clear that Hovind also lives in the “real world.” That means that his feces stink, he puts his pants on one leg at a time, and he needs a steady supply of food and water to survive. So, while I have zero use for Hovind’s “Truth” and his metaphysical tool kit, Hovind, like every creature on the planet capable of reasoning, is dependent on my tool kit and relies on it for a substantial portion of every day of his life.

Hovind thinks he is using the same toolkit you are with respect to doctrine as well. He has a Book Of Truth. He follows it.

This is why the concept of “competing worldviews” is such a joke. We all use reason and logic.

You are certainly persistent if nothing else. Reason and logic are tools. The edifices the tools are used to build are NOT functions of the tools themselves; they are informed from other sources entirely.

This is precisely why anti-“naturalist” anti-evolution Christian creationists are ignorant hypocrites at best and liars at worst.

What do you really think you gain by misrepresenting them as egregiously as they misrepresent you, except that perhaps your motivations are the same as theirs? You KNOW that truth is founded on evidence, and anyone who represents otherwise lies. They KNOW that truth is founded on scripture, and anyone who thinks otherwise must be mistaken for some reason. You are trying to tell them that their scripture is false, and that if they don’t accept this they are hypocrites and liars. Good luck!

So Tom is absolutely correct when he says that creationists don’t respect the truth.

Wrong! Tom is correct that creationists don’t respect HIS truth. What you are doing is denying that their truth has any validity at all. I agree that it lacks scientific validity, but if you think this is the only flavor of validity that exists, you are as blind as they are.

The truth is that creationists are as “naturalist” and “materialist” as scientists are with respect to almost every other aspect of their lives.

Yes, I agree. God doesn’t tell anyone that what they see with their eyes is false. God has told them how reality came to be in the past. God says, it was done supernaturally. This cannot be falsified; it is either taken on faith, or rejected on faith. I don’t think you understand what ‘unfalsifiable’ means.

They take advantage every day of the work of scientists. Yet they trash the otherwise reasonable work of scientists only when it conflicts with their admittedly metaphysical beliefs.

True enough. Some of the ARE working scientists, in fields where their religious doctrines don’t interfere with their professions. They are obliged to reject conflicts with their religious beliefs, but they don’t do this by lying, they do it by being true to their faith. You reject their faith. They don’t.

Flint wrote:

I have NEVER met a “former creationist” whose eyes were opened by consideration of the data. If you have, you are fortunate indeed. I don’t believe it.

Try Ed Babinski and Glen Morton. I am also a former YEC whose transition to evolutionary naturalism was largely as a result of conflict between YEC claims and emperical evidence (although not completely so).

I am stunned. This is a projection of the most self-serving motivation. The great majority of Christians accept that these people are respectful of scripture, which is God’s Truth. The issue among denominations concerns how scripture is to be interpreted. Its truth is not questioned. And scripture must be interpreted most indirectly and with very liberal poetic licence, if it is to be found not to conflict with evolution. Many Christians see no compelling reason to stretch quite that far.

I don’t think this is self projection. For the majority of Christians I know, they believe the Bible is true in the simplest sense. Consequently there is no possibility of nature and the Bible conflicting, and they expect a truthfull handling of the evidence of nature to confirm the Bible. This means that they expect Christians who discuss that relationship to be truthfull about nature just as much as they expect them to be truthfull about scripture. The Christians expect the “Creation Scientists” and IDists to be truthfull about nature in exactly the way I expect them to be truthfull about nature, and in which they are not truthfull.

I know that when I was a YEC, I more or less abandoned the organisation now known as AIG as a reliable source of information because they provided a forum for Barry Setterfield. In my then view, as a YEC, if they could publish such patent nonsense they had abandoned appropriate care about the accuracy of their claims.

This is a blueprint for failure. Creationists are fully respectful of GOD’S TRUTH. Now, it so happens that God’s truth (as interpreted by creationists) conflicts with “evolutionist truth”, which in turn is based on fallible human speculation about limited evidence. So which is the “better” truth”? God’s truth (set forth literally in the Bible), or the speculations of the scientists, who often disagree with one another and whose theories are occasionally overturned wholesale?

Christians, in general, want to be respectfull of truth. They want their beliefs to be true of the world, not because the world just happens to coincide with what they want to believe, but because the way they come to believe is a reliable way of finding out about the world. In this they are like most people. They also happen to think there is a God who has told them some special things, but they don’t think the revealed truths are true in a different way from the nonb-revealed truths. It may have a different subject matter, different method of knowing, and different levels of importance - but they would categorically deny that their are two different types of truth. On the contrary, for most (though not all), claiming that God’s Truth is true in a different way from scientific truth is equivalent to rejecting God’s truth simpliciter. This attitude is even more characteristic among creationists than it is among Christians in general.

But the corollary of this is that when a Christian purports to teach them about what is known empirically, or historically they expect them to be respectfull of truth in the manner appropriate to emperical (or historical) enquiry. They expect them to get the facts right, to not make distorted selections of data, to not misquote, and so on.

And Creation “scientists” and IDists purport to provide what the Christians want; ie, fair, balanced surveys of the actual data treated with integrity. In consequence, I think my criticism is appropriate, and my advise tactically sound. Christians think creationists treat emperical data with integrity, and the creationist claim to the Christian ear is based on that percieved integrity. Creationists, however, do not treat the data with integrity, they are not respectfull of truth - and that remains - to the detriment of all, the best kept secret in Christendom.

Tom Curtis, you are equating YOUR truth with ABSOLUTE truth. Is it any wonder you are regarded as worshiping a false faith?

I sincerely doubt that. What I equate with “absolute truth” it the ideal limit of accuracy of description of the world. I do not think I know that. I do know that carefull, self critical enquiry is the only way to approach that promises to bring us our beliefs closer to that truth. This is true even if God has given us a royal path to knowledge, something I do not exclude a priori. Such royal truths as God may have revealed can only be understood in the context of the rest of our knowledge by carefull, self critical enquiry. But anyone who regards that as “worshiping a false faith” can only do so by seriously distorting the meaning of “worship” and of “faith”.

I suppose I should post something. But, we had a run of tuna off shore. Between killing fish and smoking fish, I have very little to say at the momment. The water temperature dropped, and I’ll have some free time this week.

I have read the recent posts (and linked material) with some interest, and irritation.

Tom Curtis:

Thanks for the enlightening post. I hope we understand the distinction between truth as based on evidence, and truth as based on scripture. I was vaguely aware (and thanks for all the clarification) that many Christians were distinctly uncomfortable with apparent conflicts between the two, and sought ways to rectify these differences without abandoning their faith altogether. My reading has been that YEC types are concerned that if any part of their scripture is to be opened to very liberal interpretation, that ALL of it could mean ANYTHING, rendering scripture capricious and unreliable. And that it was more comforting to regard those in disagreement as wrong.

I think we very clearly see a strenuous effort to defend a particular scriptural interpretation. I don’t see this effort as a first-degree dishonesty, and perhaps you don’t either. If their interpretation of scripture is that God created everything as-is 6000 years ago, then that’s God’s Truth. In differing, science must be wrong. I see the motivation to discredit scientific understandings as based on dueling interpretations – if science is right, they must be wrong. WHY creationists find the notion of being in error so intolerable, I’ll probably never understand.

The mental leap from making evidence fit conclusions, to making conclusions fit evidence, doesn’t seem like something that can happen incrementally. Would you say that there is a kind of aha! experience involved?

Meanwhile, creationists continue to insist that intelligent design is not creationism, that religion is not involved, and that evolution is blind faith. These are intelligent, well-informed people who wouldn’t seem to have any serious emotional gaps they need to fill. I’m sure you have a lot more insight into their thought processes than I do.

First, I do wish people would use the words “ad hominem” properly. It is so irritating to read ignorant whining along the lines of “he called me names, and that’s an ad hominem.” Read the following and follow the link if necessary:

Ad_hominem A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:

1) A makes claim B; 2) there is something objectionable about A, 3) therefore claim B is false.

The first statement is called a ‘factual claim’ and is the pivot point of much debate. The last statment is referred to as an ‘inferential claim’ and represents the reasoning process. There are two types of inferential claim, explicit and implicit.

I have to the best of my knowledge never used an ad hominem argument. I have published strong refutations of creation “science.” For example, in Ancient Molecules and Modern Myths I observed of John Baumgardner, “As we will see, his fervent commitment to biblical literalism presages and shapes any work that we have from Baumgardner. By his own admission, objectivity is not a characteristic of his “science.” This does not destroy Baumgardner’s ability to function competently away from scientific issues directly associated with young earth creationism, but it must give pause to any acceptance of those issues he might see as related to things such as evolutionary biology, the Noah’s Flood myth or the age of the earth.” To those innocent of understanding what “ad hominem” means, this might seem to be an example. I have also called people “bad names.” I mean them with total sincerity if that is any consolation.

Tom Curtis: While on topic, and in the appropriate location, I must express my disapointment (though not surprise) that Gary Hurd called O’Leary a “pustule”. I do not think it could ever be appropriate to call someone a “pustule”; just as it is never appropriate to call people “brown shirts” for purely verbal criticisms of your favoured ideas. This is not a criticism of the Panda’s Thumb, or of the Panda’s Thumb crew. Comments on the Thumb are noteworthy for their lack of ad hominens, and the crew in general are exemplars of respectful - and telling - criticisms of their opponents.

From a Yahoo group list posting by Tom Curtis:

Denyse, I am sorry to hear that you were reffered to as a “pustule” on the Panda’s Thumb. However, I wonder why you think it is appropriate to condemn the Thumb in such blanket terms on the basis of comments by a non-contributer, ie, a person not able to blog on the site.

Goody for you Tom. You must be a far kinder and nobler sort of man than I. But that aside, I do need to correct you on one or two small points: I am in fact a founding contributor to TPT. Secondly, your lack or “surprise” must have been wonderfully established, but you failed to make any explanation of your knowledge (I’ll momentarily explain why you are wrong).

On a more substantive point, it is inappropriate -if not hypocritical- of O’Leary to plead her inability to read material she none-the-less published criticism of because I “called” her a pustule. Perhaps because I have some background in medicine, disease metaphors come readily to mind. Now, let’s try and read the comment I made as I wrote it.

O’Leary is overly egocentric. I am refering to the apparent outbreak of creationism in Canada, and that it was unlike the far-right US and Australian cases. The comments that followed by other readers show that they have clearly understood this is was my topic, and not merely O’Leary.

So sorry, O’Leary, you weren’t the star of my use of the word “pustule” unless by happy chance you are the only professional creationist in Canada. In that case I should have written, “O’Leary” instead of “the creationism movement” and “… this wing-nut.” rather than using the plural. (BTW O’Leary, I have antisipated your outraged crocodile tears that I called creationists pustules. If you have read this you had better admit you read PT retract you published lies and then respond to the solid refutation of Meyer’s article found in Meyer’s Hopless Monster. Or you might use the dodge, “A reader forwarded this to poor little me…” and I’ll ask why you rely on secondary sources?) (As another aside: Why is it “Biblical literalists” have such a hard time reading literally)?

The general case that O’Leary is incompetent was made clear in the original posting.

I would add that O’Leary is a hypocrite. She published criticizm of material she did read. She excused herself by moaning that she was defamed when she was not, and she then associated myself and the other Panda’s Thumb contributors with mass murder, racism, and religious bigotry. And that was just her “brownshirts” claim (see below). She also implied that we are destroying civilization, that the Council of Biological Society of Washington are shameful cowards, and we are all enemys of free thought attacking Christians .

Go right ahead Denni dear,and lie all you want, but knock off the whinny.

Denyse O’Leary in “Darwinism - An Intellectual Scandal in Science?”:

“But things got worse. Meyer’s article attracted the attention of the Panda’s Thumb blog. If you want to see the possible demise of science, go to the , a site dedicated to protecting Darwinism that has abused ID-friendly scholars in such unscholarly terms that viewing the Thumb can feel like watching thousands of years of civilization rushing down the drain.”

“Faced with much angry response, the Proceedings shamefully bowed to the pressure and disowned Meyer’s article, pledging …”

“All you who value freedom of thought, try to make the time to go to and read Meyer’s paper. Read it and pass it on, before today’s intellectual brownshirts find some way to stop you.”

Not Ad Hominem: “Creationists are usually pretty dumb people, seldom know the basics of biology or chemistry, and they’re invariably wrong.

Ad Hominem: “Creationists are usually pretty dumb people, and seldom know the basics of biology or chemistry, so they’re wrong.

Not Ad Hominem: “Denyse O’Leary is an incompetent pustule, who talks about things way above her head, and her argument is totally wrong.”

Ad Hominem: “Denyse O’Leary is an ugly moron, therefore she is wrong.”

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 2, 2004 9:00 PM.

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