The South Carolina Enemies List

| 69 Comments

The anti-evolution crusade in South Carolina, led by the Discovery Institute, continues unabated. There is not much new to report – the Educational Oversight Committee (EOC) has voted to reject, yet again, the curriculum standards that don’t include the pro-ID “critical analysis” language. But the EOC has no power to change the standards. Only the Board of Education, which meets today, can do that. So it gets kicked back to them, and they’ll have to submit another round of standards for EOC approval. Round and round we go.

But the rhetoric and nonsense keep heating up. Sunday’s Charleston Post and Courier carried a front page article which starts out as follows:

In January, state Sen. Mike Fair desperately needed a pair of speakers to challenge the theory of evolution.

The Greenville Republican and Education Oversight Committee member lost the two South Carolina university professors he had lined up for a debate with state science educators after one of his speakers began receiving job threats for agreeing to participate.

The topic of the debate was the proposed injection of language favoring “critical analysis” of evolutionary theory into guidelines or standards used for sophomore biology lessons.

So he turned to the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank, for help.

The article goes on to describe the Discovery Institute and its shenanigans – it’s a pretty good article actually. Among other things, we get to learn that South Carolina is now considered a “main focus” of the Discovery Institute, as if we didn’t have enough problems, and that U.S. Senator Jim DeMint’s office was being less than truthful when it said that DeMint had “little familiarity” with the Discovery Institute. (The fact that he gave the opening speech at a DI-sponsored event kind of gave it away). But it’s that peculiar allegation by Mike Fair, reprinted without skepticism, that I want to talk about.

Fair’s claim that there were two SC professors who had to back out because one of them received job threats has the virtue, like ID itself, of being impossible to verify or refute. The fact of the matter is, Fair brought this up well after he had his anti-evolution speakers appear in front of the Academic Standards and Assessments Subcommittee of the EOC (see here and here for background). Those speakers were Richard von Sternberg and Rebecca Keller, who were suggested to Fair by the Discovery Institute. Fair took some amount of heat due to his use of out-of-state personae to represent the anti-evolution cause, while the two pro-science speakers who the EOC lined-up (Karen Stratton and Mary Lang Edwards) were both in-state. But Fair didn’t see fit to mention until a subsequent meeting that he had originally picked two in-state professors who apparently backed out at the last minute – this being, according to Fair’s sob story, because one or both of them received job threats. This is very strange, because Fair steadfastly refused to say who his picks were – not even the other EOC members knew – until it was revealed at the last hour that they would be von Sternberg and Keller. Whoever these two SC professors that supposedly backed-out were, no one knew their identities then, and no one knows their identities now. How could either one of them received job threats when they remained anonymous? Okay, so color me skeptical. Fair’s story doesn’t add up. But I happen to know for a fact that there are people whose jobs have been threatened over this. And it isn’t Fair or his allies. It’s hard working college professors whose only crime is standing up to Fair and the Discovery Institute.

Several weeks ago, Rob Dillon, a professor at the College of Charleston, received a carbon copy of an email sent by the dean in response to a message from a senior Vice President of the College (the original was not sent to Dr. Dillon). Rob is the president of South Carolinians for Science Education, a newly formed organization similar to those in other states dedicated to resisting creationist assaults on science education. As such, Rob finds himself attending EOC meetings, speaking his mind during public hearings, and other thankless tasks that any citizen of our state has a right (and a duty) to do. Or do they? I reproduce the contents of the original email below in full:

MEMORANDUM

TO: Dr. Elise Jorgens

Dean Norine Noonan

FROM: Frederick W. Daniels

I received a call from a good friend of the College who asked that I bring to the attention of the “appropriate people” a recent event at the Education Oversight Committee Hearings in Columbia. It is reported that a faculty member, Dr. Robert Dillon, attended the meetings and his behavior was both “inappropriate and disruptive to the hearings.” The person who called quotes a member of the committee as saying Professor Dillon “showed a lack of respect and lack of decorum in disrupting a public meeting.” He further argues such behavior makes securing funding for the new Science Center considerably more difficult.

Dr. Dillon was part of a group of people who interrupted the meeting. He identified himself and the fact that he is a faculty member at the College. This is another point the caller described as unnecessary. Dr. Dillon was acting as a private citizen, but he is remembered as a member of the College faculty.

FWD/blc

cc: President Higdon

Needless to say, Dr. Dillon didn’t disrupt anything. According to several others who were present, he didn’t say a word during the whole meeting, and it wasn’t until afterwards when reporters started interviewing people that he began talking. This message is not intended to fix any actual problem, it is a blatant act of intimidation – a threat if you will – designed to keep Dillon from showing up at public meetings and voicing his dissent. And not only did this “good friend of the College” single out Dillon for attack, he saw fit to threaten the funding for the entire College of Charleston. Some friend! As a former student of Rob’s and an alumnus of the College of Charleston, I find this behavior too despicable for words.

Things get worse. Remember how one of Fair’s supposed SC professors had his or her job threatened? Well, that particular story may be apocryphal, but one of the individuals who testified in front of the EOC did have her job threatened. That person would be Mary Lang Edwards of Erskine College, who testified against Fair’s anti-evolution proposal. After her EOC testimony, and after having written two guest editorials that appeared in The Greenville News and The State, numerous emails and phone calls were made to Dean of Erskine College calling for her termination. Not just to the Dean, but also to the President. And to the Board of Trustees. And to the Chair of the Faculty… Dr. Dillon and Dr. Edwards are not alone. There have been similar cases I am aware of but am not privy to the details. The good news is, neither Dr. Dillon nor Dr. Edwards are in any jeopardy of losing their jobs. Their respective Deans and other colleagues stand by them. It is very rare for a professor to get fired merely for saying something controversial, to say nothing of when one merely stands up for good science supported by the overwhelming majority of biologists. And of course it’s also why Mike Fair’s allegations are as hard to believe as they are. Even if his pro-ID professors existed, no one I know in my admittedly limited academic experience would want them fired simply for supporting ID (or just some generic flavor of anti-evolutionism), assuming they did their jobs competently. Of course that doesn’t mean we have to agree with them, or even take them seriously. As the Discovery Institute keeps saying, with a complete lack of sincerity, challenging your peers is what academic freedom is all about. But the minute someone challenges one of them, their immediate reaction is to scream persecution, file a nuisance lawsuit, or to submit a discrimination complaint. This is what you do when you can’t handle being criticized. Making such frivolous claims of persecution, as Discovery Institute constantly does, is nothing more than a crude smear-job against the scientific community. But threatening one’s job, or an institution’s funding, is not mere collegial disagreement. And in this case it doesn’t appear to have emanated from college professors, but rather from politicians or others with strings to pull, as is almost always the case. Let me be clear: I have no evidence that Mike Fair or his Discovery Institute backers are responsible for issuing these threats. But someone in state government was responsible for that threatening email about Rob Dillon, otherwise there would have been no talk of cutting funding to the College of Charleston. (Which the state doesn’t need an excuse for, since it happens every year anyway.) And moreover, the email cites disparaging remarks from an EOC member, which clearly didn’t make their way into the missive by accident.

The Discovery Institute has been spoon-feeding strategy to Mike Fair and other anti-evolution politicians in South Carolina for some time now. They are responsible for the “critical analysis” language that Fair is trying to insert into the biology curriculum. Perhaps they’ve shared with him another one of their strategies: always accuse the other side of your own sins.

69 Comments

Notice that the Greenvile News is running Skell’s EOC letter as an op-ed?

http://greenvilleonline.com/apps/pb[…]3070305/1016

Oh yes, then there’s the wonderful letter from Rep. Bob Walker that’s featured in The State today

http://shrimpandgrits.rickandpatty.[…]ch-of-liars/

Given the vileness of the ‘Discovery Institute’, I’m surprised they haven’t tried to sue Panda’s Thumb.

Ultimately, the leverage for this entire campaign is being provided by the voters of South Carolina. Without their solid backing, this entire campaign would be a non-starter. The implicit rule underlying the DI’s tactics seems to be, anything is permitted so long as it doesn’t bring the courts into play. So maybe the best counter strategy is to sue? So long as the politicians think they have a mandate, they’ll keep the deck stacked as we see.

Thanks for the South Carolina update. I’m a CofC alum myself (1988) and I am proud that my life-giving mother is taking an active role in resisting the Disco Institute (all these years later, Disco still sux).

Notice that the Greenvile News is running Skell’s EOC letter as an op-ed?

By Philip S. Skell I am writing – as a member of the National Academy of Sciences – to voice my strong support for the idea that students should be able to study scientific criticisms of the evidence for modern evolutionary theory along with the evidence favoring the theory. …

What a perfect opportunity for someone to respond with the info that he is a “loose gun” and the National Academy does not agree with his position.

The DI responding to Dr Edwards I assume:

“in South Carolina, and elsewhere Darwinists are claiming that any criticism of Darwin’s theory is the same as intelligent design. “

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/0[…]ue_to_m.html

This just isn’t true. You are mistaken in telling people that Ohio or Utah were about intelligent design. That is factually wrong. Ohio was very clearly NOT about intelligent design, contrary to the bogus claims of the rabid Darwinists that sought to mislead the public and the policy makers there. I hope you do not misreport this important fact. Teaching students both the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution is NOT (caps not mine) the same as teaching the theory of intelligent design. In Ohio the standards called for students to critically analyse Darwinian evolution. In Utah, the proposal was basically a disclaimer to students that there are unresolved problems in evolution and that scientists disagree over what this means. Discovery has never favored disclaimers, either in the classroom or on textbooks. Instead of telling students there is a problem with Darwinian evolution, show them what the problems are. The scientific literature is full of unresolved issues and challenging problems for Darwinian evolution, and we think students should be learning about that. If a tenth grade student can understand evidence that supports Darwin’s theory, they certainly can understand the evidence that challenges it.

It’s too bad that whenever attempts to teach both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution come up, there is a howl of protest from the Darwin only lobby that bullies schools and legislatures into shutting down the discussion.

And there isn’t any armed conflict. Surprising.

If a tenth grade student were able to understand the evidence supporting ToE then they surely can publicly mock the Discovery Institute.

If manure was gold, the DI wouldn’t have to do any fund-raising. Actually, petrified manure is pretty valuable, even if it’s only a few thousand years old.

Does this mean that Sternberg has migrated from his earlier “I’m pursuing a research direction in comparative biology that is a-historical” position to one that actively questions the historic relationships between organisms?

Exactly why would Sternberg be a friend of the DI?

This is exactly the kind of thing that made up my mind about tenure. It is essential, despite the “deadwood” status of some professors, in providing the ONLY voice in our society which cannot be effectively threatened with financial consequenses for saying things people don’t like to hear. The first time I ran across this was a prof. at U of M who was one of very few people willing to testify repeatedly in court about the consequences to groundwater systems of large hog farm operations.

geogeek Wrote:

This is exactly the kind of thing that made up my mind about tenure. It is essential, despite the “deadwood” status of some professors, in providing the ONLY voice in our society which cannot be effectively threatened with financial consequenses for saying things people don’t like to hear.

Unfortunately, even that won’t stop you from getting threats. Exhibit A: Rob Dillon. He has tenure.

When you have a political atmosphere that is hostile to science and academia in general, having more credentials just makes you more of a target.

geogeek -

This also reminds me of the retaliation faced a few years ago by some psychologists who challenged the validity of “recovered memories”, especially in the context as legal evidence in child molestation cases. They were called “pedophile sympathizers” and other such nonsense.

So now the IDiots are resorting to political thuggery. And they accuse “Darwinists” of using Stalinist tactics?!

But of course, ID is “all about the science”. Well, Behe admitted in Dover that science would have to be redifined to accomodate ID. Maybe we’re seeing the beginnings of a Brave New Science.

This just in! SC’s board of education does not drink the Kool-Aid.

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/14048833.htm

On an 11-6 vote, the state board upheld its previous evolution-only science curriculum for 10th grade biology. Last month, the state’s Education Oversight Committee voted to add the phrase “critically analyze” to the evolution guidelines.

Educators say that change would open the door to other theories about the origin of man. The fear among educators is that the change would introduce religious themes to those discussion and undermine what has been regarded as among the nation’s strongest science standards.

Unfortunately, even that won’t stop you from getting threats. Exhibit A: Rob Dillon. He has tenure.

When you have a political atmosphere that is hostile to science and academia in general, having more credentials just makes you more of a target.

What I’m saying is that tenure means threats are less meaningful, because their material consequences are lessened. It is relatively easy to fire or pressure someone without tenure: someone protected by tenure may speak their mind knowing that the dean might not like them any more, but they can’t be fired for refusing to bend over to majoritarian group-think. It’s not an asbestos coat, but it’s a very important protection.

Geogeek: Point taken, I agree.

Rick: That’s great news! It’s a better margin of victory than I think we expected. Keep an eye on the front page and I’ll blog about it as soon as I get the scoop from those who were there. Assuming, that is, that they haven’t been celebrating too hard…

Do you get the queasy feeling that that 11-6 is representative of America?

“Unfortunately, even that won’t stop you from getting threats. Exhibit A: Rob Dillon. He has tenure.”

Taking a visible stand against IDC guarantees that you will be deluged with hate mail and threats, and it takes a thick skin to remain in the game. ID crackpots don’t have to worry about this because the cranks are *for* them, and scientists who disagree with someone else’s conclusions rarely resort to middle-school name-calling and death threats. I find it amusing that the IDC nuts complain about being “treated badly” or “derided” by real scientists (translate = their religious apologetics are not taken seriouly as science) when all a scientist has to do is open his or her mouth against IDC to be the target of vicious hate campaigns. In my case, my department became the target of a fundamentalist letter-writing campaign calling for my termination. Most of the letters were from religious wackos with serious psychological problems, but some were from right-wing militia types with a misogynist bent and were physically threatening. This is the type of reaction one gets these days when standing up for science, something I’ll bet Behe and Dembski don’t have to deal with. And the crackpots want the public’s sympathy because we scientists “won’t listen” to them? Get real.

I fear that 11-6 isn’t, but that a much closer vote, maybe 8-9 or 9-8, would be representative of the American public.

From the article: “He presented the state board with a letter signed by 67 members of the House, which in part said the Legislature may intervene if the board rejects the EOC’s recommendation to add the “critically analyze” phrasing.”

Since the state board didn’t drink the cool aid does this mean its lethal injection time?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

What? Religious Zealots who can’t force their opinions on everyone else about to use the hangman’s rope to accomplish their goals? This is my shocked look I’m wearing. They’ll be erecting the burning stake in the square next Tuesday, I hear.

Being a South Carolinian and Charlestonian myself, this whole thing scares the hell out of me but doesn’t shock me. This state is unfortunately in that demographic of people who will believe and thrive on the DI’s crap storm.

I can only guess that there will be similar lawsuits to overturn it if Mr. Fair’s proposals make it through.

Why dont’ we just call these people what they are. They’re theocrats. South Carolina, North Dakota, they’re all the same. They want to legislate from their pulpit. They, not John Walker Lindh, are the American Taliban.

Interesting irony.

One of Darwin’s most famous works, of course, was his paper on insectivorous plants, a truly ground-breaking piece of work. His fly-traps, of course, come from South Carolina (and North Carolina, to be fair – the little snappers don’t honor political borders).

Nitrogen-starved soils affect more than just the eating habits of plants, it would appear. What would cause any politician in a state to go so bizarre on a guy who brought the state honor, interest, tourists and dollars?

Amen Brother Bill. Couldn’t have been said it better.

Of course, MY comment could have.…

We should all chip in and buy the Discovery Institute a cross, so whenever one of them is feeling unloved they can all haul it out onto the lawn and nail the poor sap to it. Make a real event of it, yeah? Burgers and hot dogs. Chips and dip. Flavored fizzy water. Pasta salad. Ritual crucifiction.

It is very rare for a professor to get fired merely for saying something controversial

but it HAS happened.

I can think of two recent cases, one involving a statement about differences in learning based on sex, and the other (closer to home) relating to an email made public in which the person stated his distaste for fundies.

In those specific instances, I can’t see how the actions by the University served anybody in any beneficial way.

Free speech is a complicated issue, to be sure, but Universities should ALWAYS stand behind their faculty, unless that faculty has violated the rules of the University itself.

I wasn’t aware that the UK professor who wanted to teach about ID in a religious history class actually got fired.

Just heavily criticized, beaten up, and forced to withdraw the course offering.

Not that those things aren’t bad, but they beat the same list with “looking for work” tacked onto the end…

Or, Sir, you may be thinking of some other instance.

Or, I could be remembering things wrong.

Or the universe could have been intelligently designed by space aliens from another dimension fafarman away from ours.

I wasn’t aware that the UK professor who wanted to teach about ID in a religious history class actually got fired.

Paul Mirecki.

he was relieved of his department chair, but not let go altogether.

that’s a serious blow to one’s credibility and earning power as a University faculty.

I seriously doubt there were any University regs. that would have allowed them to actually fire a tenured professor for stating an opinion in an email, but I’m sure they would have if they could.

sad.

a similar incident in the UK, you say?

who was that?

oh, nvmd. I haven’t had my coffee yet.

UK=University of Kansas.

duh.

william e emba Wrote:

Summers was a tenured Harvard professor (in economics) before becoming President.

Ahhh … didn’t know that. Thanks for providing the nugget of info that makes all clear :)

Comment #85176

‘Rev Dr’ Loony Flake said,

Nobody cares about your uneducated opinion, Larry. (shrug)

Ah, but you and other Darwinists on this blog obviously do care about my “uneducated” opinions – that is why you keep responding to me, even if you have nothing to say other than an insult. Even if you Darwinists don’t care personally about what I say, you are afraid that the “lurkers” might find my arguments persuasive.

But anyone who wants to read some back issues of ICR and AiG can see for themselves that “co-evolution can’t happen” is not new — it’s decades old, and was standard creation “science” boilerplate for years:

One of your quotes did make an argument similar to one of my arguments – “Predator and prey are said to engage in a sort of ‘arms race’ leading to accelerated improvements on the part of both (p. 232). Since one is limited to select from features which are already available, the net effect should be faster legs for the prey, sharper claws for the predator, and so on, but nothing truly new.” But I have been asking for weeks for examples of past arguments against natural co-evolution, and you have finally provided something, but you provided no rebuttals. And I pointed out that arguments against co-evolution are so obscure that pro-Darwinist and anti-Darwinist websites do not include them in FAQ’s, so it is apparent that the anti-Darwinists are not trying especially hard to revive the issue of co-evolution. However, responses to my questions about co-evolution did produce some interesting – even amazing – articles about the relationships between insects and plants.

Here again are my arguments against natural co-evolution. I pointed out that natural co-evolution is virtually impossible when both corresponding mutations in the two organisms are detrimental to the organisms in the absence of the corresponding mutation in the other organism. No really complex design there – just two simple mutations required. Co-evolution would be a problem even if neither mutation were detrimental in the absence of the corresponding mutation, because the occurrence of just one of the mutations at a particular time and place would not offer any evolutionary advantage, and it would be unlikely that the corresponding mutation in the other organism would occur at the same time and place, and even if the two mutations did by some miracle occur at the same time and place, that still might not be enough because the two organisms might interact in large numbers and the mutations might not initially provide enough of both kinds of mutant organisms to establish a viable relationship. Furthermore, many co-dependent relationships among organisms consist of an irreducibly complex system of two or more pairs of features, where it would be impossible to evolve just one pair of features at a time. I pointed out that co-evolution is fundamentally different from adaptation to the fixed physical features of the environment – e.g., water, land, air, and climate – because those physical features are always there to provide advantages to organisms that adapt to them.

Larry’s “new argument” is just more of the same old crap. Larry is just too pig-ignorant and uninformed to know that.

Well, it seems that a lot of other commenters here are “pig-ignorant” too, because I have been asking for weeks for examples of past arguments against natural co-evolution and no one came up with anything. And what took you so long ? Yes, I know – you were too busy posting messages like “shut up” and “no one cares what you think (shrug).”

Comment #85233 posted by tomsuly on March 9, 2006 10:40 AM I have any idea, let’s just do away with all scientific research and go back to the Dark Ages.

We should be spending our research dollars on cutting-edge science – not on already proven scientific “fact” (e.g., Darwinism).

Comment #85237 posted by Laser on March 9, 2006 10:55 AM Larry thinks that science should be run by popular opinion polls. He also thinks that what is taught in school in science classes should be dictated by popular opinion polls.

And why should science education be dictated by a self-appointed clique of Darwinist scientists who are trying to shove an unproven science – Darwinism – down others’ throats while suppressing criticism of Darwinism ? And whatever happened to those up-do-date opinion polls of scientists ?

Comment #85243 posted by LT on March 9, 2006 11:20 AM Find one self described ‘Darwinist’. And find one evolutionary biologist or related scientist that refers to the field they work in as Darwinism.

I use the term “Darwinism” just to be clear that I am referring to an evolution theory which includes the notion that evolution was driven solely by natural genetic variation (mostly random mutation) and natural selection. Though the term “Darwinism” is sometimes intended to be derogatory, evolutionists in general have not tried to distance themselves from Darwin, even going so far as to celebrate Darwin’s birthday (with one celebration even including an – ugh ! – “Darwinian” birthday cake!).

Comment #85246 posted by Raging Bee on March 9, 2006 11:26 AM Maybe Larry The Holocaust Denier Oops I Mean Revisionist Farflungdung also thinks that the number of people killed in the Holocaust should also be decided by opinion polls.

The number should certainly not be decided by mainstream holocaust historians – they have proven themselves to be utterly inept. Despite claims that the Nazis kept “meticulous” holocaust records, the official figure for the number of people who died at Auschwitz, accepted as 3-4 million for many decades, has been revised sharply downward to the range of 1-1.5 million. And it has never been explained how the Nazis were supposedly able to reliably distinguish Jews from non-Jews. How come we have not heard from people who believed that the Nazis mistakenly identified them as Jews ? Did this never happen ?

Posted by Andy H on March 9, 2006 03:52 PM (e)

Comment #85176

‘Rev Dr’ Loony Flake said,

Nobody cares about your uneducated opinion, Larry. (shrug)

Ah, but you and other Darwinists on this blog obviously do care about my “uneducated” opinions — that is why you keep responding to me, even if you have nothing to say other than an insult.

This would appear to be a very blatant admission of a continuing rule violation. Could someone now boot Larry and stop him from trashing every thread, please?

Could someone now boot Larry and stop him from trashing every thread, please?

Who’s trashing every thread, Larry or those who can’t help but respond to him. I believe it’s Dr. Lenny who repeatedly claims that the DI’s dupes can’t stop themselves from proselytizing; are Larry’s responders any different? C’mon, folks, we all know he’s a troll with no respect for the rules, let’s take a page from the Amish book and shun him. Ignore him, people, stop giving him the responses he craves, and he’ll go away.

Point taken… I’ve just been frustrated lately as every single thread seems to get hijacked by Larry, Carol, or whichever nutjob is pushing their wacked out bullshit at that moment. It’s getting so you can’t even find the intelligent conversation anywhere in this blog because of all the same old regurgitated sewage getting spewed by the same old self-aggrandizing trolls.

Larrandy Here In My Own Private Idaho I Know Everything (What’s My Name This Week?) Farfromaman raved thusly:

And it has never been explained how the Nazis were supposedly able to reliably distinguish Jews from non-Jews.

Um…because they went to temples instead of Christian churches, practiced a different religion, and allowed themselves to be seen and identified as Jews for several generations before the Nazis came to power!

The sheer stupidity of this statement can only be deliberate – not to mention an insult to the intelligence of any person in the ten-or-older set who can read a book. So no, you’re not a “revisionist” asking technical or methodological questions, you’re a “denier” of the Holocaust, and any other fact that doesn’t fit into your tiny, brittle, pathetic excuse for a world-view. So stop pretending that the information you find here doesn’t meet your intellectual “standards,” because you clearly don’t have any.

I ask again: what makes you think you’re fooling anyone here?

Quoted from #85036… “I live in a town with an Episcopal Seminary, so I know it has been read. Clearly it fell on agreeable ears in the Episcopal Church. Maybe most of them think it is a non-issue.”

Yes, the Episcopalians along with Lutherans (ELCA), Roman Catholics, Methodists, and most of the other mainstream denominations have a highly refined understanding of the role and value of science and its relationship to theology.

I am referring to the official position of these denominations, however, you will find wide variation in the opinions of individual members.

Believe it or not, I think Larrandy has made a good point, and one that typifies the reason that it is so difficult to defeat the “breathtaking inanity” of intelligent design creationism. He stated:

Ah, but you and other Darwinists on this blog obviously do care about my “uneducated” opinions — that is why you keep responding to me, even if you have nothing to say other than an insult. Even if you Darwinists don’t care personally about what I say, you are afraid that the “lurkers” might find my arguments persuasive.

And that is precisely the point. IDiots need to be refuted endlessly because they don’t care about the truth. It doesn’t matter how many times they are slapped down, they will come back with the same BS, because they know that there will be lurkers (or ignorant lecture attendees, depending on the venue) who haven’t heard the same tired and refuted arguments. It’s dishonest and unethical, but it works.

The actions of the defenders of science are much like the actions of insect exterminators. Mosquitos (creationists) are annoying and potentially dangerous, but they can be kept in check with insecticides (education and prompt refutation). We can never get rid of all of them, but we can keep their effects to a minimum. It is, unfortunately, probably a never ending job. The mosquitos (creationists) can win just by outlasting us, but we can win in the same way.

This is why, when possible, rather than engaging in reparte, however entertaining, we should just refer to the Talkorigins “creationist claims” website and be done with him. Of course, it’s a lot more difficult to do this in a lecture, but at least in the Web, we can say (in response to the coevolution crap), “See http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB630.html” and “Shut up, Larry”

The Nazis endlessly argued among themselves about who counted as a Jew–if you read the primary sources, the debate got downright scholastic with much hairsplitting. In the early 30s, party theorists tended emphasize biology but not even the Nazi doctors could find anything uniquely Jewish about Jewish blood and in the later 30s, some of the more sophisticated SS types were talking about Judaism as a cultural phenomenon, rather as American rightists have gradually switched from denouncing negroes as biologically inferior to denouncing them as bearers of a pathological culture.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on March 8, 2006 10:07 AM.

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