Junior Birdmen of the Discovery Institute


And when you hear the grand announcement
That their wings are made of tin.
Then you will know the Junior Birdmen
Have sent their box tops in.


Human beings cannot fly.

It's simply impossible, and we've known it for centuries; there is, however, a conspiracy of committed, dogmatic aerodynamicists who have a vested interest in preserving the myth of Wilbur and Orville Wright, and despite the obvious impossibility of flight which is readily apparent to anyone with common sense, they persist in promoting their "theory."


There are honest engineers who can lay out in detail for you the impossibility of flight. The dogmatic Wrightists simply ignore weight-to-lift ratios, surface area, power output, and Reynolds numbers. Reynolds numbers prove that humans can't fly, but you will never, ever see that in any aerospace engineering textbook. There is a world-wide cover-up: they don't want to risk their cushy grants and their payola from the aerospace industry.


They hide the truth. That strange "flying machine" to the right? It never got off the ground! It fell apart on the first attempt to fly! Yet you still find it portrayed in the textbooks, intact and looking like it's about to leap into the air. This is a long-running and disgraceful fraud. And if you look at the history of the Wright brothers, you'll see that they relied on the prior work of people like Lilienthal and Maxim and Boeing and Curtis, all frauds and charlatans. How can you trust a theory built on failure and fakes?

You want to show me what?


That proves my case.


Look at this birdman. We can all agree that that guy never flew — it would be a joke to think otherwise. Yet you expect me to believe that you can add many tons of weight, millions of complicated parts, and make it all out of metal, and now it can fly? You've amplified all the problems in the original design a million-fold, and now you try to tell me it works? You silly Wrightists.

No, I haven't gone insane. I made the absurd argument above just to give you a sense of what I feel when I read the latest from the Discovery Institute. They have this ridiculous site, Judging PBS, that purports to be a rebuttal to the PBS documentary on the Dover trial. It's actually just another rehash of the dishonesty found in Wells' Icons of Evolution — a series of misrepresentations of the state of biological thought. I keep hammering on the lies in that dismal book, but the DI keeps using it. In this case, it's particularly egregious; the PBS documentary didn't say anything about the specific issues they're trying to rebut. It's as if they've got nothing else but the same old recycled garbage.

Continue reading "Junior Birdmen of the Discovery Institute" (on Pharyngula)


Fraud! Liar! It’s a well known fact that humans can’t fly. All you showed was a “photograph” of two flying aircraft. PHOTOS CAN EASILY BE FAKED!!!!!!!!!!

A photograph is merely an image fixed on a piece of paper. A photograph doesn’t actually fly. Even if the photograph was not faked, you don’t know that it was built and operated by humans! A better explanation is that angels use the airplanes to fly around in . …

now that was good, laughed so hard it hurt! it seems ridicule works, keep it up

Yeah, I’ve heard that those planes were pinned up there.

I’m very disappointed you didn’t bring up the point about how the laws of physics declare that bumblebees can not fly.

bumblebee story in defending his view on evolution (don’t believe) Hukabee related the bumblebee story (and he’s running for presisdent!)

waldteufel mockingly challenges: Fraud! Liar! It’s a well known fact that humans can’t fly. All you showed was a “photograph” of two flying aircraft. PHOTOS CAN EASILY BE FAKED!!!!!!!!!!

Well of course there’s video of funny looking planes.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)


at first I just couldn’t believe Huckleberry would be stupid enough to pull up the old “bumblebee” thing.

I should never underestimate the stupidity of rethuglican candidates.


Idiocracy is coming to the US faster than I could have possibly imagined.

Bruce …

Thanks for the links. Very interesting and nice videos.

The original “Math says bumblebee flight is impossible” story is pretty hard to track down, but this Boeing scientist says it was due to one M. Sainte-Lague, a lab assistant to famous entomologist August Magnan, whose book starting this urban legend appeared in 1934:

John McMasters, Boeing, ~1999 Wrote:

A long time ago [1989] I wrote an article for the journal American Scientist entitled: “The Flight of the Bumblebee and Related Myths of Entomological Engineering” (Am. Sci., Vol. 77, pp. 164-8). In this I gave what still appears to be a correct account of the “Didn’t the aerodynamicist prove that the bumblebee can’t fly ? [sarcastic ha ha]” story. I too had tried to find the name of “The aerodynamicist” who did this to us. After a long search I was told by a very reputable source that he thought that individual (who was badly misrepresented subsequently by the “press”) was the Swiss gas dynamicist Jacob Ackeret - a famous name in supersonic aerodynamics. It was about the right vintage, so I wrote that in my article without naming Ackeret explicitly. Follwoing publication, however, I got mail. Boy did I get mail - including half a dozen xerox copies of portions of the text of the book Le Vol Des Insects (Hermann and Cle, Paris, 1934) by the famous entomologist August Magnan. On page 8 of the introduction, one finds:

“Tout d’abord pouss’e par ce qui fait en aviation, j’ai applique’ aux insectes les lois de la resistance del’air, et je suis arrive’ avec M. SAINTE-LAGUE a cette conclusion que leur vol es impossible.”

Thus the culprit is finally named: Sainte-Lague, Magnan’s lab assistant who was apparently some sort of engineer. Steve Vogel has correctly added some of the rest of the story and there is more to come thanks to the miracles of high-speed photography and advances in computational physics. As an aside, anyone who hasn’t read Steve’s wonderful books should. They are classics - all of them. Share and enjoy.

John McMasters Technical fellow The Boeing company Seattle, Washington

There you have it - a one-decade-old summation of a two-decade-old correction of a seven-decade-old myth. Kinda reminds me of the Creationists!

Cheers, Dave

The Judgment Day DVD is on sale at PBS.


There are 12 days of Christmas, so my order is in.

As any halfwit can attest, a mote of dust can be observed to fly on ordinary household air currents. However, do the laundry and collect the mass of dust from the lint-trap. Release it into the air. As you can see, it falls to the ground. So while trivial, micro-flight is undeniable, any significant amount of matter is too heavy for materialist aerodynamics to support. I have thus identified the Edge of Aerodynamics, somewhere between the milligram-size mote and the gram-size clump.

Truly, aerodynamics has met its Waterloo, and I deserve to be regarded somewhere above Galileo. Call me the Isaac Newton of lint theory.

What’s worse, the Wright brother’s design not only didn’t fly, but sucked. It took a frenchman, Bleriot, to make a non-flying machine that was well-designed, saddling us to our enduring shame with words like “fuselage” and “aileron”. And that funny-looking horizontal stabilizer mounted in front of the pilot on the Wright Flyer? The one that made the machine so unstable? It’s a “canard”.

If it’s french, it’s unamerican. And if it’s unamerican, you can be sure the fundies don’t believe in it …

The usual nonbelievers yowl: What’s worse, the Wright brother’s design not only didn’t fly, but sucked.

The administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness certificate to a Wright Flyer reproduction. Do you think a governmental agency would issue such a certificate? In addition, NASA Ames research center conducted wind tunnel tests on a full scale model of a Wright Flyer. Would such a reputable organization lend credence to a failed design? If it looks like a duck and fly’s like a duck, it’s a duck.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Honey Bees produce honey, Bumble Bees produce bumble, and as everyone knows, Bumbles bounce.

Merry Kitzmas to all.

Nice parody … on the old tale of the “bumblebee can’t fly”, that’s sort of a classic story among engineers, and apparently it started out, not surprisingly, as something of a gag. Indeed a bumblebee cannot fly – if you model it as a fixed-wing aircraft. Ah yes, those little devious underlying assumptions, amazing what you can come up with if you ignore or conceal them.

Incidentally, as far as the bizarre photo of the guy in the “bat man” suit goes, there were a number of parachutists who tinkered with such concepts from the 1930s – they weren’t nuts, at least not any more than other skydivers (“only fools and bird droppings fall from the sky”), it was just a gimmick to allow them to get some manuevering capability and reduce the terminal velocity of the drop.

According to the Wikipedia article on “wingsuit flying”, most of the pioneers in the field eventually “bounced”, as skydivers quaintly put it, but it is now apparently a fairly popular and, as skydiving goes, reasonably safe technique. You can buy a “birdsuit” or “wingsuit” from BIRDMAN INC and other firms – they’re much less batlike than item in the picture, indeed they look like something out of an anime video.

Ah, but we can put up pictures to show how obviously crazy people have to be to think they can actually do such things! How ridiculous, those “Wrightists”!

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on December 23, 2007 12:17 PM.

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