Secondary Addiction: Ann Coulter on Evolution

| 93 Comments

This is a guest appearance by Jim Downard. Jim’s essays are always thorough, rich in detail, and solidly substantiated. This is his first appearance on The Panda’s Thumb.

There were already several essays posted on this blog addressing the latest book by Ann Coulter. Jim reviews her book from an angle differing from the earlier posts by PT’s regular contributors. His discourse provides a crtitical analysis of essential details of Coulter’s screed.

One third of Ann Coulter’s latest bestseller, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, is devoted to raking “Darwiniac cultists” over the coals for promoting what she is certain is the false science of evolution. Unfortunately her roasting process was hampered by the fact that she forgot to get her fire lit first. Compulsively addicted to secondary sources, Coulter fails to comprehend even those, and exhibits consistent laziness when it comes to checking whether her meagre tinder could ever ignite. In the first part of a series that will examine all the antievolutionary assertions in her book, James Downard explores how Coulter fumbles issues relating to Michael Behe’s Irreducible Complexity claims.

Continue reading Secondary Addiction on Talk Reason

93 Comments

This is a good article but it could have used some proofreading:

Her sashay into matter’s scientific

Should be “matters scientific”, no apostrophe.

either by investigation critical takes on those sources

Should be “investigating critical takes” or “investigation of critical takes”.

Behe’s unfamiliarity with relevant technical has continued

“With relevant technical” should be something like “with relevant technical issues” or some other noun.

A final note: The article offhandedly references several previous talk.design articles (“my discussion of David Berlinski’s escapades in A Tale of Two Citations,”, “Ian Musgrave’s recent analysis here of the paper”) but does not list them in the bibliography. It would be extremely helpful if these informal references to talk.design content were made into hyperlinks.

Thanks for pointing to typos etc., and apology. I’ve asked Jim and Talk Reason’s managing editor to make necessary corrections and amendments. BTW, you seem to confuse talkdesign.org with talkreason.org. The latter site is where Jim’s referenced posts appeared. I hope he’ll insert links in the amended post. If you’re interested in the debate between Jim and Berlinski, open Index of Letters (which is alphabetical) on Talk Reason site, click on Jim Downard name there, and the links to all his and Berlinski’s letters will appear.

BTW, you seem to confuse talkdesign.org with talkreason.org

Whoops! Yeah, I did.

i thoroughly embarrassed myself in the public library by leafing through coulter’s chapter on evolution …the loud braying guffaw startled everybody .…OMG is she really THAT ignorant..don’t bother to correct my punctuation .…. i always type like ee cummings;)

We know that Coulter is wrong just as her fans know she’s right.

Thus, the gulf remains.

Behe’s slander of the entire scientific community during the Dover Trial is a case in point. He waved away, and continues to wave away, published scientific as “piffle” and “piddling” with no consequence.

Unfortunately, Downard’s point is moot, because William Dembski all but admitted writing the chapters for Coulter. And if he didn’t write them he approved them. And if any parts escaped his review, he seems not to be the least bit upset of a screed that is embarrassingly bad compared to standard DI fare, which has in the past been at least clever. It has been suggested that, having lost their best shot at Dover, the DI has nothing to lose by pandering directly to the “I don’t come from no monkey” crowd - as long as they let someone else take the fall for such cartoonish writing.

Also, like too many ID critics, Downard bends over backwards to do the usual “innocent until proven guilty” line, even with DI personnel, such as calling Michael Behe’s writing “almost willful misunderstanding.” C’mon now. Behe, Dembski et al have undoubtedly been reading and understanding the primary sources for more than a decade. Even if Coulter is just sloppy with her “research”, one way or another this is a case of willful (not “almost”) misrepresentation (not “misunderstanding”), by many, if not Coulter herself.

Coulter says “evolutionist say…a bear fell in the water and that’s how whales evolved. no joke”

Wow, are her readers that dumb, or is she just playing them for fools. Is there any way we can get proof of her garbage into the mass media.

Jim Downard has done an excellent job on Coulter’s pseudoscience.

As Dembski has said, “Critics may say that they are unimpressed, and, in their heart of hearts, they may feel that ID truly is nonsense. But it is pernicious nonsense.” (Dembski, 2005)

bears becoming whales was one of darwins conjectures on the origins of whales .….darwin was wrong (shrugs)…no life scientists believes that anymore .…and we have the fossil and genetic info that shows that whales and artiodactyls share common ancestry

coulter’s “facts-of-evolution” are what lead to my loud guffaw ..if i’d have been at home .…..i woulda been on the floor LMAO

We know that Coulter is wrong just as her fans know she’s right.

No, it’s not “just as”; if she’d gotten anything right, or had any reasonable evidence, we would have admitted it.

One more minor point, it’s Ann Coulter, not Anne Coulter. :-)

Which once again proves my thesis, Creationists will listen to the most qualified person who’s saying exactly what they want to hear.

In her book Coulter defends the book “The Bell Curve”. This book claims blacks are genetically inferior. (as in racist). I gave a coulter fan a few accounts of the Bell Curve being faulty. He immediately threw it in the trash. I accused him of being a racist since Coulter supports a book proving black inferiority, his supporting Coulter means he is a racist too. It turns out he read the section on the bell curve but had no idea what the Bell Curve is. I told hem if you don’t know what Coulter supports you are an idiot, if you do know you are a RACIST. And he will NOT check!!!!! He told me he knew who Marva Collins was but had no idea that the Bell Curve denounced Marva Collins. And he won’t check!!! it’s all a lefty thing, whatever that means. Stupidity is the root of all EVIL.

we have to stress the stupidity of this crowd because the dumbing down of America will hurt us all.

Also, he starts out saying:

# […] Coulter’s tome landed in my crosshairs on account of the nearly one third of her book (the last 3 of 10 chapters) devoted to assailing the Liberal’s Creation Myth, Darwinian evolutionary theory. #

That should be “the last 4 of 11 chapters”.

Oy.

I highly doubt that any of the usual contributors to PT are going to comment on the train wreck so pardon the OT comment:

http://evolutionanddesign.blogsome.com/

McNeill’s little attempt to “educate” Cornell’s IDEA Club morons is being converted into ID propaganda in real-time by his “honest” “intelligent” ID peddling students, with the gleeful assistance of our old pal, Lyin’ Slaveador Cordova.

Anyone here from Cornell? I’d be concerned, frankly.

Brightmoon:

bears becoming whales was one of darwins conjectures on the origins of whales .….darwin was wrong (shrugs)…no life scientists believes that anymore .…and we have the fossil and genetic info that shows that whales and artiodactyls share common ancestry

Darwin speculated that a bears, under suitable circumstances could become an animal like a baleen whale by natural selection - and he was right.

The relevant quote is:

In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.

http://pages.britishlibrary.net/cha[…]rigin06.html

(My emphasis.)

Coulter: “In other words, River Out of Eden is the Darwiniacs’ version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

I had to bring this up somewhere. This is just…just…”ridiculous” isn’t strong enough. “Mean” isn’t either. “Sick” comes close, but it still doesn’t convey the utter dispicableness of it. She’s comparing a “fabrication” of scientific data – that maybe about one person in a thousand is even aware of anyway – with vile anti-semetic propaganda that fueled mistreatment and violence and pogroms and probably contributed to the atmosphere of hate that lead to the eventual mass murder of six million people!!! Fer cryin’ out loud!

(Oh, or maybe she’s saying that we Darwinianismistas are villianously responsible for ever man, woman and child who has suffered blindness since “Origin of Species” was published?)

Many pardons for the typos. Sometimes my fingers are behind my brain, and I was chomping at the bit regarding Coulter. Corrections are afoot.

One important point though: the scholarly methods approach to writers like Behe or Coulter suggests something far more interesting about how they can be so wrong without accusing them of mendacity. Such people have a genuine ability not to think about things they don’t want to think about. The pattern is so monotonously consistent, across all lines (from Roswell saucer crash groupies to Holocaust deniers), that it requires us to reevaluate people who happen to believe things that are true as well as those who entertain twaddle. I suspect far more people than we should be sanguine about arrive at their belief systems based on such slipshod reasoning.

Coulter says: “As I understand the concept behind survival of the fittest, the appendix doesn’t do much for the theory of evolution either. How does a survival-of-the-fittest regime evolve an organ that kills the host organism? Why hasn’t evolution evolved the appendix away?”

So are we to take it that a designer thought it’d be a good idea to lumber humanity with an appendix that can kill?

Also, Coulter has a basic reading comprehension problem. Fittest does not mean perfectly fit.

I was all set with a nice snarky comment like – Ann Coulter is outsourcing her lying.

Seriously though, all of this fact checking rests on the false assumption that Coulter even cares about facts or that her approving readers care.

I think Coulter only cares about how angry she can make the lynch mob.

I have the terrible premonition that someday someone will take her inflammatory words and turn them into action. Someone will die, and Coulter will be “so surprised” that this could happen.

I had to bring this up somewhere. This is just…just…”ridiculous” isn’t strong enough. “Mean” isn’t either. “Sick” comes close, but it still doesn’t convey the utter dispicableness of it. She’s comparing a “fabrication” of scientific data — that maybe about one person in a thousand is even aware of anyway — with vile anti-semetic propaganda that fueled mistreatment and violence and pogroms and probably contributed to the atmosphere of hate that lead to the eventual mass murder of six million people!!! Fer cryin’ out loud!

I covered this aspect of her rant, as well as the deep dishonesty of the misrepresentation she was using as an excuse for this slur, here.

I’m working on doing a full list of all the flaws in her chapters on evolution – yes, it’s a big job, but someone has to do it.

McNeill’s little attempt to “educate” Cornell’s IDEA Club morons is being converted into ID propaganda in real-time by his “honest” “intelligent” ID peddling students, with the gleeful assistance of our old pal, Lyin’ Slaveador Cordova.

Gee, there’s a surprise.

How many students has McNeil converted . … ?

How many IDers has he converted?

For that, you will need a reference to a text with mytholgy.

The blind leading the blind.

He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.

~Lao Tzu

In academia we have a saying: “tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” (and many an otherwise fine colleague has been its victim at tenure time). The real problem with Coulter’s drool is that most real biologists fail to recognize that her arguements are not about truth and honesty - they are about laying enough doubt and drivel in the layperson’s mind that it becomes their truth. Until we recognize this and devise better ways of educating the general population about evolution and science we will, sadly, lose the voting war.…

Coulter is also typical of many anti-evolutionists in that she’s capable of busting the stoutest irony meters. The Protocols of Zion comparison is far more applicable to her book - she’s the one promoting a conspiracy theory about all those evilutionists.

Why is everyone paying so much attention to a peripheral loony like Coulter? This sort of attention is precisely what she wants (and pumped-up book sales, of course); and giving her what she wants makes me feel dirty. When she outlives her usefulness, the far right will simply disown her and pretend – quite plausibly – that she was never really relevant to them.

We really ought to be focusing our attention on a far more central and powerful loony, like Sun Myung Moon, whom the far right will have a much harder time disowning. Check out Ed Brayton’s archives on this guy for starters. (If we want to stay on-topic here, I’m sure Moon must have said something deranged on at least one scientific issue.)

Why is everyone paying so much attention to a peripheral loony like Coulter?

Because if we DON’T pay attention to her, it becomes so much easier for a more subtle and sinister liar (like Moon) to insinuate themselves into the public debate.

It isn’t either/or.

Show me the PROOF! says an Ann Coulter fan. People of good conscience try to show the proof or show links to the proof, but you know full well the proof needer won’t look and in fact doesn’t want the proof. Showing them anything is a waste of time for after shown the proof that they will refuse to see, they will again say “show me the proof”

the “I don’t believe in evolutuion” people are intellectually lazy. I don’t go through life saying “show me the proof”, I analyze, search and find. We have a generation of people that don’t know the basics of their own jobs. You will often hear them say “…nobody showed me that” when you correct their error. As a technical consultant, I would be embarrased to say that. Go out and learn something dummy!!!

On a recent blog, a troll was demanding that someone show him he’s wrong. His query was much too stupid for any intelligent person to respond to, so no one responded. To the troll “…no one responded so that proves I’m right”. Reasoning like this STUPID, then they say “why do they insult me”, because you are stupid.

Actually, gwangung, paying attention to the least relevant loonies is what allows the more central ones to get away with – to take one example – crowning themselves “King of Kings” in a Capitol Hill ceremony, and making themselves indispensible by financing right-wing campaigns. The fact that Moon is more “subtle” than Coulter makes it all the more necessary for us to focus sustained attention on him, and expose what slithers beneath the subtlety. The wolf’s howl sounds dangerous, but don’t let it distract your attention from the rattlesnake at your feet.

And yes, it really is “either/or:” the public have a limited span of attention, therefore we must encourage them to pay attention to the most dangerous loony, not the flashiest. To do otherwise benefits both Coulter AND Moon. Do you think Moon and his supporters aren’t conscious of this?

The appendix apparently doesn’t do much for the theories of Ann Coulter either:

http://www.livescience.com/humanbio[…]ppendix.html

Maybe it’s not quite as useless as she thought.

Here we are, Colin Killian, real scientists debating the mechanisms of evolution:

Punctuated equilibrium (or punctuated equilibria) is a theory in evolutionary biology which states that most sexually reproducing species will show little to no evolutionary change throughout their history. When evolution does occur, it happens sporadically (by splitting) and occurs relatively quickly compared to the species’ full duration on earth. Punctuated equilibrium is commonly contrasted against the theory of phyletic gradualism, which hypothesizes that most evolution occurs uniformly and by the steady and gradual transformation of whole lineages (anagenesis).

See, a legitimate scientific discourse on evolution. And, not only do we have Punctuated equilibrium and anagenesis to describe the rate of gradualism in evolution; but we also have more catastrophic/sudden emergence theories including quantum evolution, saltationism, catastrophism & mass extinction theories.

(This is pretty much all Wikipedia and written at an 8th grade level. If you can’t keep up with this at the Wikipedia level, you should go live in a cabin in the woods and fail to reproduce and spare us another generation of idiots.)

Nothing like being a complete and utter toerag

He’s a small Volkswagen SUV? I’m soooo confused.

Upon Ann Coulter seeing a fossil in a rock.…”Dang that bug musta been going realy realy fast!” nough said

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on June 29, 2006 1:48 PM.

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