I guess ‘eponymous’ wasn’t on the LSAT

| 66 Comments

Nick Matzke, one of the world's leading experts in detecting absurdities in creationist texts, has discovered a real howler from Casey Luskin. Luskin is complaining that he, Junior Woodchuck lawyer for an intellectually bankrupt propaganda mill, can't find the wrist bones in Tiktaalik when Neil Shubin, world-class paleontologist, is directly describing them. This is, admittedly, a fairly high-level discussion by Shubin, but it's amusing that Luskin isn't tripped up by the science — it's his command of the English language that lets him down.

When discussing Tiktaalik's "wrist," Shubin says he "invites direct comparisons" between Tiktaalik's fin and a true tetrapod limb. Surely this paper must have a diagram comparing the "wrist"-bones of Tiktaalik to a true tetrapod wrist, showing which bones correspond. So again I searched the paper. And again he provides no such diagram comparing the two. So we are left to decipher his jargon-filled written comparison in the following sentence by sentence analysis:

1. Shubin et al.: "The intermedium and ulnare of Tiktaalik have homologues to eponymous wrist bones of tetrapods with which they share similar positions and articular relations." (Note: I have labeled the intermedium and ulnare of Tiktaalik in the diagram below.)

Translation: OK, then exactly which "wrist bones of tetrapods" are Tiktaalik's bones homologous to? Shubin doesn't say. This is a technical scientific paper, so a few corresponding "wrist bone"-names from tetrapods would seem appropriate. But Shubin never gives any.

"Waaaaah," whines Luskin, "Shubin didn't tell us the names of the corresponding tetrapod wrist bones!"

Only he did. I guess "eponymous" is too difficult a word for a Junior Woodchuck.

Shubin is saying that there are bones with the same positions and articulations with neighboring bones in tetrapods and Tiktaalik, and that they have the same names. They have a small wrist bone that articulates with the ulna called the ulnare, and they have another bone called the intermedium. They have the same names.

Here's a nice diagram, color-coded and everything, just for Casey. Here are some fish:

And some tetrapods:

These clowns at the DI would be much funnier if more people would realize that they are performance artists with little talent and no expertise, except in lying and tripping over their own shoes.


Carl Zimmer has also noted Luskin's absurd error.

66 Comments

Now … does Casey Luskin make Sal Cordova look good? Or is it the other way around?

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

These clowns at the DI would be much funnier if more people would realize that they are performance artists with little talent and no expertise, except in lying and tripping over their own shoes.

They’re wearing shoes now? Zowie! Casey must have moved to the bigtime!

Actually, what’s most amusing about Casey’s whining is his bemoaning the lack of a diagram and the resulting necessity to actually read stuff. I mean, if it were in comic book form it’d be a helluva lot easier for him.

It is unintentionally embarrassing for Luskin of course, but it is instructive too.

Creationists (however they label themselves) demand science to adhere to the same “standard” of sophistication they themselves have–an explanation that a 3rd grade Sunday School class can understand. (Before the inevitable backlash starts, please note that I’ve taught 3rd grade Sunday School).

The only time they aspire to “sophistication”, is when they get a simple, accessible explanation of evolutionary science and have to muddy the waters.

dpr

@dpr - I prefer a 3rd grade level explanation! :-)

Remember, Casey is writing for his audience, which by and large are the pasty-faced, bible thumping ignoramuses who populate the big round churches along the freeway. They will read his utter bullshit and be awed. That’s what he wants. Nothing else matters.

Frauds like the DI are not at all interested in real science. Casey claims to be an earth scientist and an attorney. However, he exhibits none of the characteristics of either.

Now, I don’t normally like coming out and saying derogatory things about people’s intelligence or ability to comprehend stuff (though I concede I think it often). After all, I guess it takes all types to make up this wonderful world, but that is a really, really dumb thing for Luskin to say.

Even without a uni degree I can fully understand what Shubin is saying with “homologues to eponymous wrist bones.…”.

It’s truly incomprehensible that they find it incomprehensible. The incomprehensibility is so incomprehensible that it’s incomprehensible that Luskin followers could comprehend what he is even trying to say.

Understand?

RBH said:

These clowns at the DI would be much funnier if more people would realize that they are performance artists with little talent and no expertise, except in lying and tripping over their own shoes.

They’re wearing shoes now? Zowie! Casey must have moved to the bigtime!

They are clown shoes, that’s why they trip on them.

Usually if I don’t know a word I…look it up.

Usually if I don’t know a word I…look it up.

Look … things … up ?

That would involve actual information, and that would be dangerous.

Yes, Casey, no wrist bones except those described by Shubin, and illustrated on Page 38 of the book you cite.

Does it hurt being stupid, Casey?

homologues to eponymous

Ah, but their is two many syllables inn them words!!111!!!

Henry

But, but, …how can he look it up if “eponymous” isn’t in the BIBLE!?

casey = case lost (again)

waldteufel said:

Remember, Casey is writing for his audience, which by and large are the pasty-faced, bible thumping ignoramuses who populate the big round churches along the freeway. They will read his utter bullshit and be awed. That’s what he wants. Nothing else matters.

And it’s already working. If you go over to After the Bar Closes,

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…]?act=SF;f=14

you can find a creationist named FtK who’s already trumpeting Luskin’s devastating takedown of Shubin. And people are trying to explain how Luskin is obviously wrong, and she’s refusing to listen.

Mission accomplished, Casey.

Surely Nick has chosen one of the easiest subjects to be an expert in!

This is OT but I figured you guys would get a kick out of it.

http://controversy.wearscience.com/

The mighty Casey has struck out.

I suppose Luskin might have been thrown by the fact that “eponymous” doesn’t normally mean “having the same name”- it means “named after a person”. A better word for Shubin to use would have been “isonymous”- though it’s not in my dictionary, it is a regular formation that means exactly what Shubin intended.

Eponyms are of course named after the Greek philosopher Eponymes.

waldteufel Wrote:

Remember, Casey is writing for his audience, which by and large are…

…going to be even more awed when, instead of conceding his confusion, Luskin says something like “now those ‘Darwinists’ have two gaps to fill instead of one.”

People, let us not go overboard on this. Eponym means something named after a person, real or imaginary. Spoonerism, boycott, Pavlovian are examples. I am not a biologist and I am not sure how the word is used in biology papers and discussions. It is possible eponymous might be used to mean “having the same name” in these fields.

So many books are made into movies with the same name. But sometimes a movie and a book share a name though they are not related. Is there a term for a movie and a book with the same name or two different cities with the same name? I have seen the word namesake being used for persons, as in “Abraham Lincoln, a bartender in Allentown, PA is short and plump unlike his famous namesake”.

What is the best term for xxxx in the following sentence that would mean “identically named”: Kwikmart, in the Main Street of London, Ontario is not quite as famous as Harrods of xxxx city in England?

Sorry this line of reasoning gives Crazy Luskin and his crazier apologists a chance to hit back. But the difference between us pro-science and them pro-IDiocy, is we strive for clear and open communications. Even if the open and clear communication has the potential to be quote mined, abused and misused.

Ravilyn Sanders said: People, let us not go overboard on this. Eponym means something named after a person, real or imaginary. Spoonerism, boycott, Pavlovian are examples. I am not a biologist and I am not sure how the word is used in biology papers and discussions. It is possible eponymous might be used to mean “having the same name” in these fields.

Agreed. Also see comment by Sprocket. There does not seem to be a word similar to “eponym”, where the source of the name is a thing, rather than a person, unless this is a technical meaning of the word in biology.

Ravilyn is correct. I also misunderstood Shubin’s intentions. “Eponymous wrist bones” MEANS, bones named after whoever discovered or labeled them. These would be perhaps the Shubin bone, or the Myers bone. I think Shubin attempted to be erudite by deploying a 4-bit word where a few plebian 2-bit words would have served him better, and he picked the wrong word. He didn’t know what it meant anymore than Luskin. Or, apparently, Myers.

Except that, anyone knowing the real definition of ‘eponymous’ should be able to understand Shubin’s sentence even if he’s not technically using the word correctly. And anyone who bothered to look up the real definition of ‘eponymous’ should also likewise be able to figure out Shubin’s meaning. It might not be crystal clear, but its not particularly difficult either. Maybe its 12th-grade reading comprehension rather than 10th-grade, but that is no excuse for Luskin’s mistake, and certainly doesn’t excuse his leap from “its not clear what Shubin means” to ‘Tiktaalik has no wrist.’

Flint said:

Ravilyn is correct. I also misunderstood Shubin’s intentions. “Eponymous wrist bones” MEANS, bones named after whoever discovered or labeled them. These would be perhaps the Shubin bone, or the Myers bone. I think Shubin attempted to be erudite by deploying a 4-bit word where a few plebian 2-bit words would have served him better, and he picked the wrong word. He didn’t know what it meant anymore than Luskin. Or, apparently, Myers.

Once again, it shows how utterly vacuous creationism, or ID or TtC or whatever iteration we’re on now actually is.

It consists of nothing except some vague argument that evolution has skipped some tiny little detail, ergo, evolution must be totally wrong.

Not only does the ID emperor have no clothes, his entire defense is to point out that evolution’s left shoelace is untied.

It is not their feet they are tripping over.

Steve S’s comment hits the proverbial nail on the head. Luskin, inept as he is, is preaching to his choir and they love it. It doesn’t really matter what/how the scientific community responds, they’ve already made up their minds and Luskin just reinforces that nonsense.

One of the strengths of the late Carl Sagan was that he spoke of and conveyed the essence of astronomy in an exciting fashion to the general public. All of his colleagues weren’t liking his style, but he was extremely effective.

When it comes to evolution, noone is taking up a similar standard. They understandably write highly detailed studies and leave it up to the Luskins to subvert those writings through their pseudo-scientific analyses in support of their anti-evolution views.

Yes, Luskin made his point, idiot that he is.

I am astounded that people are actually arguing the eponymous isn’t the best word, or it refers to a person not a thing etc. Shubin DID use the word correctly (that’s why Casey is a dolt).

Can no one use a word with more than 1 definition? The meaning is clear from context - this is NOT technical jargon - just English written at a college level.

from askoxford.com - online dictionary:

eponymous /iponnimss/

• adjective 1 (of a person) giving their name to something. 2 (of a thing) named after a particular person.

— ORIGIN Greek eponumos, from onoma ‘name’

I thought Luskin’s use of the word ‘jargon’ was telling too. What does he expect scientists to do when writing for other scientists, break everything down into words of two syllables? ‘intermedium’ and ‘ulnare’ aren’t jargon, they’re standard scientific terms meant to convey complex information accurately and concisely.

I do marvel at the fact that Luskin gets made to look like a fool about as regularly as Wile E. Coyote, and yet he just keeps coming back for more - the guy must have no shame.

I thought Luskin’s use of the word ‘jargon’ was telling too. What does he expect scientists to do when writing for other scientists…

Eh. {shrug}

It’s a classic creationist ploy. Simplify the concept for the sake of top-level discussion (survival of the fittest, Cambrian explosion, natural selection), and they’ll complain that you’re trying to gloss over the complicated details.

Delve into the complicated details, which require the use of precise, technical, language and complex, detailed diagrams, and they’ll complain that you’re using minutia and jargon to mask the top-level flaws.

The common denominator; complain, complain, complain, because that illustrates “controversy” and controversy always plays well with the rubes.

Alton Brown used the word “eponymous” on his show Good Eats last night on the Food Network. He was referring to the name of a apice. So I guess Alton has a better vocabulary than Luskin and probably a better grasp of evoloutionary concepts as well.

Now if we all refer to the troll of many names who refuses to use his real name as “mentally hamstrung”, would that be eponymous, homonymous, isonymous or ignominius?

Now if we all refer to the troll of many names who refuses to use his real name as “mentally hamstrung”, would that be eponymous, homonymous, isonymous or ignominius?

Hamstrung: a Pseudonymously ubiquitous ignoramus.

Fredgiblet said:

This is OT but I figured you guys would get a kick out of it.

http://controversy.wearscience.com/

DAMN YOU! This is going to cost me money, I HAVE to have one of those!

Two things: (1) just substitute the words, “so-called”, for ‘eponymous’, and everything works. Shubin uses ‘eponymous’ before ‘wrist bones’ because no such thing as a ‘wrist bone’ exists; instead, there are ulnare and segmentum, etc.; (2) despite what the learned Shubin and Myers say, Tiktaliik seems more similar to the ‘lung-fish’—as Luskin points out—than it does to true tetrapods. The defining feature of tetrapods seems to be more the ‘digits’—they have a very definite form. The ‘Panderichthys’ is a “fish”, and it happens to have cranial features similar to tetrapods; but, as you can see, there are no ‘digits’ at all. However, if you compare ‘Tiktaliik’ to the ‘Eustenopteron’ in the upper box (which is an ancient lungfish), you’ll see the immense similarity. I don’t think Luskin’s point has been sufficiently countered.

“Luskin isn’t tripped up by the science - it’s his command of the English language that lets him down”.

Actually it seems that it’s Shubin’s language that let him down. When he says “homologues to eponymous wrist bones”, that’s sort of redundant. If he would have just said homologues to wrist bones, it would have been clear what he was saying. Eponynyms are understood to be something different from what he was saying. For example: In scripture, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are thought by some scholars to be eponymous personifications, that is, they are names given to Israelite tribal leadership, customs and practices even though the three of them may not have lived as real people.

Attorneys are usually pretty good with language and with two degrees in geology Luskin probably has knowledge of the science.

Life intervened, but finally returning to old threads FWIW:

BlastfromthePast said:

Tiktaliik [sic] seems more similar to the ‘lung-fish’—as Luskin points out—than it does to true tetrapods. The defining feature of tetrapods seems to be more the ‘digits’—they have a very definite form.

If a biologist place a wrist on the phylogeny that defines a tetrapod, they need to have one. Apparently Tiktaalik has one, check Shubin’s description. So there was nothing to “counter”, Luskin is simply wrong.

OTOH how different fossils are placed is fluid (as is species et cetera), see the diagram linked source Devon Times.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on July 14, 2008 4:55 PM.

Tom McIver’s Library of Creationist Materials Available was the previous entry in this blog.

NatGeo Tweaks ID ‘Just For The Halibut’ is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter