Secondary Addiction: Ann Coulter on Evolution, part 2


This is one more guest appearance of James Downard, continuing his autopsy of Ann Coulter’s ignorant and mendacious screed. For the record, I (Mark Perakh) am posting this essay on PT as a courtesy to Jim Downard, having contributed nothing whatsoever to Jim’s text. This disclaimer seems necessary because some readers in the past erroneously attributed to me essays written by guest contributors (like Mark Frank).

One third of Ann Coulter’s latest bestseller, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, is devoted to assailing “Darwiniac cultists” for promoting what she is certain is the false science of evolution. As explored in the first installment (see Talk Reason, part 1), Coulter’s breezy confidence turns out to be a gooey meringue atop layers of stunning technical ignorance caused by indolence when it comes to investigating the issues, along with a giddy reliance on marginal secondary reading. In the second part of an ongoing analysis of what Coulter (didn’t) know and how exactly she manages (not) to know it, James Downard discovers what can happen when Coulter tries to join two fields about which she knows literally less than nothing: paleontology and biology. Continue reading Secondary Addiction, part 2, on Talk Reason, part 2.


Another wonderful instalment. Thanks Mark for bringing this to us, and greater thanks to James Downard for his willingness to produce such excellent work.


Downard answer is obviously more researched than Coulter’s diatribe, which is exactly Downard’s point.

This is very pleasantly exhaustive so far. Would you consider adding some kind of links to the web pages for parts 1 and 2, linking between the two parts of the article?

I wonder if Ann has ever heard of the Portuguese water dog, which has webbed feet.

M. Whitney, for the lazy, is responding to Coulter’s

You also never see the mutations that turned out to be clunkers, like the dog that mutated webbed feet or the fish that mutated feet. To the contrary, all the changes always seem to follow a straight line.

And, heck, forget the Portuguese Water Dog (a filthy foreign breed anyway, Ann would never lower herself to investigate them). Does Ann not know about Labrador retrievers?

But clearly Coulter isn’t stupid. She’s well aware that her target audience (nearly every American) doesn’t know any more science than she does, and performs even less research. She knows that her book will sell a ton, and her pronouncements of creationist nonsense will therefore become “common knowledge”. She has become a *resource*.

If we close our eyes and imagine Downard’s essays being read by everyone who read Coulter’s book, how many of these people could even understand the corrections, much less accept them? Downard tends to use big technical terms, sometimes of several syllables. Like we’re supposed to care about different categories of extinct lizards, right?

The important question is, how can we communicate to any substantial part of Coulter’s audience? Maybe scantily clad babes on the book jacket? Maybe starting every paragraph of correction with the statement “Here is what Jesus would think”? Maybe sending a copy of Downard’s essays to every high school science teacher?

I wonder if Ann has ever heard of the Portuguese water dog, which has webbed feet.

And, heck, forget the Portuguese Water Dog (a filthy foreign breed anyway, Ann would never lower herself to investigate them). Does Ann not know about Labrador retrievers?

Newfoundlands have webbed feet as well.

“Just as you can usually tell which side in a civil war is doing the most massacring by seeing who is fleeing and who is chasing, you can tell who the real scientists are by who actually does the work.”


On the matter of what might happen if a Coulter-ite encounters my comments, you needn’t worry there. The big words will be irrelevant. The follower will simply ignore the argument.

This is not hypothetical. At my workplace a staunch admirer of Coulter proudly proclaimed his refusal to read my piece on the grounds that he likes what she says and does not care if she is right or wrong. Evidence was renedered irrelevant.

Rather proved my point that people who believe Coulter are like Coulter herself–or by extension, to Coulter’s resources. People who won’t think about things they don’t want to think about (my crib from Spencer Tracy in “Inherit the Wind”).

Mr Downard - thank you for your lucid expose of Coulter’s vicious farrago. I keep googling for a response from her, but so far the search is fruitless - maybe because the search terms (eg downard coulter reaction) must be so broad as to guarantee a huge return.

Does Ms Coulter respond to criticism? And has she responded to Mr Downard? I hope any reaction from her will be detected by some Panda’s Thumber, somewhere, and brought to our attention.

Re Bird’s question on Coulter responding. From what I gather she doesn’t do that (as with the claims of plaigerism concerning her book, links available at the wikipedia review btw).

It would be interesting to read her response, though. Especially to learn just what the DI tutors were up to with her! I have directly quizzed both Berlinski and Dembski on this, by email, but have not received replies.

Certainly it gives one pause to imagine the scintillating effects should the Intelligent Design brigade ever get their mitts on the educational system.

For those interested, I should have Part III of the Coulter study (on bird evolution) up for posting in about a week. My intention is to thoroughly dissect all 4 of her antievolution chapters.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on July 9, 2006 8:57 AM.

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