Todd Wood and Tennesee’s New Monkey Law

| 39 Comments

Back in my post Who is turning the screws on Todd Wood, the creationist biologist who opposes Tennesee’s new monkey law? I noted how it was odd that Todd Wood, one of the only non-delusional professional creationists in existence, first put up an open letter to the governor of Tennessee opposing Tennessee’s crypto-creationist “academic freedom” bill, and then mysteriously took it down a few days later.

Now that the bill has passed (although the governor decided not to sign it, a small (very small) victory for all the science and education organizations that opposed the bill), Wood has put up another post both (a) explaining what happened to the letter and (b) explaining in much more detail the problems with the law and with the whole misbegotten creationist/ID strategy of trying to get their stuff into the schools through political means rather than the responsible way of convincing the scientific community.

Josh Rosenau wrote up a good commentary. Short version of what we learned in Wood’s post:

1. Wood says he took the letter down of his own free will. He said, “I can make my own decisions to take down a blog post that in retrospect doesn’t meet my own quality standards.” Confusingly, though, Wood didn’t say what was lacking in the letter. Wood certainly didn’t change his position on the bill, which if anything more negative and less diplomatic now than it was then.

2. Although Wood claims no one turned the screws on him, I think it is pretty clear that the creationist lobby tried. This is Wood’s summary of what one of his friends told him:

I know that law is not my expertise, so when I get a letter from a trusted friend saying that my opinion is “legally and politically naive” I listen.

Actually, Wood’s letter was legally and politically canny in many ways. The only way it was naive was in the statements that the law was unnecessary for creationists and that it would have no effect on education, but presumably that was not the naiveté that Wood’s presumably creationist friend was talking about. The law is necessary if you want to increase the teaching of creationist/IDist B.S. in Tennessee public schools.

Then, even more incredibly, Wood reports that John West of the Discovery Institute – yes, the Discovery “we’re not creationists, especially not young-earth-just-fell-off-the-turnip-truck creationists” Institute – apparently circulated a letter to Bryan College employees lambasting Wood for daring to be a creationist with an independent voice who doesn’t think creationism should be pushed in the political arena before it succeeds in the scientific arena:

Back to my own experience: I took my letter to the governor down less than 24 hours after I put it up, and a few days later, a staff member at the college passed along a letter from John West of the Discovery Institute trying to drum up some resistance on the Bryan campus to my opinion. As far as I know, his efforts had zero effect on campus, since I didn’t hear from any other person on campus about it. In his letter, West described me as “one cranky self-described ‘creationist’ who seems to get his facts from Panda’s Thumb.”

I guess Todd Wood, young-earther and professor at William Jennings Bryan College, isn’t creationist enough for the Discovery Institute’s John West! And that’s quite something.

I suppose that I should mention that I had absolutely no direct information, apart from the removal of Wood’s open letter, that the Discovery Institute’s screw-turning shenanigans were going on when I wrote:

Did someone at Bryan College object to a creationist going off-message? Did someone at the Discovery Institute get worried about the influence that a Tennessee-based professional creationist opposing the law would have, and call up Bryan College or Wood himself and start harassing them?

According to Wood, this sort of thing wasn’t the cause of him taking down the letter – but nevertheless exactly these sorts of attempts were actually made! Am I psychic, or do I just know how these guys operate? We report, you decide.

39 Comments

apparently circulated a letter to Bryan College employees lambasting Wood for daring to be a creationist with an independent voice who doesn’t think creationism should be pushed in the political arena before it succeeds in the scientific arena:

They…don’t like dissent?

But I suppose that’s all the fault of evil Darwinists, too.

We get around…

Glen Davidson

Poor Todd Wood. You have to sympathize with his problems, being the world’s only honest creationist. It must get lonely. What will happen if, someday, he realizes that his goal of coming up with a true, scientific theory of creationism is impossible? Unfortunately, he’s probably more likely to reject science than his interpretation of Genesis. But he could be a real scientist if he went the other way, and probably a good one. It’s an ugly trap he’s found himself in, and it’s a shame.

Whether its todd Wood or the governor they are only okay people if they do the right thing as I understand this post. First its a bad state but then a good governor giving evolutions a “small” victory. Was there a victory here? What defines “small” relative to nothing? This was a defeat of privat groups trying to stop the will of the people. its quite possible 80-90% of Tenn agrees with this law if they heard about it. The governor could of stopped it but didn’t. Thats not a hero! Why not believe in the people to be able to weigh matters like in origin subjects? They do it anyways! Yes its more suggestive to the kids that doubt in evolution is part of the nations institutions but in the end they still look at things on the merits. Possibly creationism opinion amongst these kids might drop if they heard both sides. I think evolutionary biology is the one that will suffer. Thats why removal of censorship is such a positive thing to us.

Whether its todd Wood or the governor they are only okay people if they do the right thing as I understand this post. First its a bad state but then a good governor giving gravities a “small” victory. Was there a victory here? What defines “small” relative to nothing? This was a defeat of privat groups trying to stop the will of the people. its quite possible 80-90% of Tenn agrees with this law if they heard about it. The governor could of stopped it but didn’t. Thats not a hero! Why not believe in the people to be able to weigh matters like in gravity subjects? They do it anyways! Yes its more suggestive to the kids that doubt in gravity is part of the nations institutions but in the end they still look at things on the merits. Possibly gravity opinion amongst these kids might drop if they heard both sides. I think gravity theory is the one that will suffer. Thats why removal of censorship is such a positive thing to us.

See, this “argument” works for any scientific “controversy”. Let the stupid, ignorant, illiterate kids decide. They will anyways. Why even try to educate them in reality. Is that really what an education os for?

Robert: It’s “would have”, not “would of”. Only a complete fucking moron doesn’t understand this.

Robert Byers said:

Why not believe in the people to be able to weigh matters like in origin subjects? They do it anyways! Yes its more suggestive to the kids that doubt in evolution is part of the nations institutions but in the end they still look at things on the merits.

How? By what means are they to “weigh matters”, when they don’t know anything about evolution yet? Are they to judge whether evolution is “true” by how evolution makes them feel on Sunday mornings?

Perhaps we should let kids decide what parts of history are “true” by how it makes them feel? The Southern states have been doing that for the last 160 years or so. How did that work out for them? Maybe we should let the kids decide how far away the stars are. Maybe let the kids decide whether the earth is flat, or whether the sun goes around the earth or not. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether dinosaurs lived among humans, or whether the earth’s continents are drifting apart. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether there is an unlimited supply of “fossil” fuels or not. Let the children decide for themselves what the half life of carbon 14 is.

Actually, I remember we did that. In junior high history class, we had a “trial”. The question before the “court” of student opinion was whether World War II was necessary or not. Some of us (the more motivated) did quite a bit of research on the subject, and some of the students took on roles (Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, etc.) to be called as “witnesses” to explain their side of the story. I was the “prosecuting” attorney. (Which was really choice. I had to write scripts for half of the “witnesses”, who couldn’t be bothered to find out anything about their own “character”, the character that they voluntarily chose to portray.) On paper, it was actually kind of clever. The class could have learned a lot, and some of us did. But…

In the end, the rest of the students “voted”. The verdict of the jury? After all that, still a quarter of the students couldn’t even identify who was on which side in the war. Many couldn’t identify what century the war was fought in. Less than half could say why the war was even fought. Some didn’t know who won or who lost. (Well, they knew that *we* won, but that was about it.)

Let the students decide? Let the students decide? The students are unimaginably ignorant (not “stupid”, just mind boggling ignorant), and if they were allowed to vote on it, the vast majority would prefer to remain that way. And I’m speaking from experience, having grown up with them.

”… and with the whole misbegotten creationist/ID strategy of trying to get their stuff into the schools through political means rather than the responsible way of convincing the scientific community.”

This is the sad point, that what the legislatures and the likes of the dishonesty institute stink tank force upon others is that those who support creationism must rely on the political system to advance their empty agenda as their creationist notions have absolutely no scientific merit.

When I read Robert Byers’s contribution I am reminded of my own inability to find the ‘ button when typing in darkness.

Robert Byers said:

Possibly creationism opinion amongst these kids might drop if they heard both sides. I think evolutionary biology is the one that will suffer. Thats why removal of censorship is such a positive thing to us.

Indeed, biology and genetics would not only suffer; genetics would work like this:

If it looks like a horse its probably a horse.

In the same vein he used to insist that the thylacine is a wolf, genetics are irrelevant. DNA just changes in response to morphology.

At the time I tried to teach him some basic facts about his own family tree but he simply ignored it. Find a Robert look-alike, that’s got to be his brother.

Look for some interesting modification of scientific theories to match what Robert and his likes pulls out of their you-know-where.

Robert Byers

Well, we can just as easily ask schoolkids to weigh matters in regards to the learning of trigonometry and calculus. I’m pretty sure that there would be enthusiastic support from kids for the removal ot these topics from the high school maths curriculum.

Do you think that this would be a good idea? Would you support the removal of said topics on the basis of popular support? If not, on the basis of which “special” criteria?

Possibly creationism opinion amongst these kids might drop if they heard both sides.

Teaching anti-science along with science would no doubt benefit creationism.

It’s not hard to see why, especially whenever we read a creationist’s comments.

Glen Davidson

RM said:

When I read Robert Byers’s contribution I am reminded of my own inability to find the ‘ button when typing in darkness.

I presume you mean an automatic DELETE button. I would say AMEN to that.

Hey, how did I become a masked panda (comment #2)? It’s never happened to me before. This is John Harshman. Somebody really should fix this.

RM said: When I read Robert Byers’s contribution I am reminded of my own inability to find the ‘ button when typing in darkness.

Byers is typing in darkness…even when the lights are on.

Scott F said: Maybe let the kids decide whether the earth is flat, or whether the sun goes around the earth or not. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether dinosaurs lived among humans, or whether the earth’s continents are drifting apart.

Let the kids decide whether 14-year olds should be allowed to drive; abstinence versus contraception versus unprotected sex; capitalism versus communism - there’s any number of weighty decisions we can safely leave up to the children.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/j5i6uksLusgE[…]j_JIeOO3eKfg–#35e25 said:

Hey, how did I become a masked panda (comment #2)? It’s never happened to me before. This is John Harshman. Somebody really should fix this.

And while “somebody” is fixing things,they should fix it so I don’t type my comments and then get told I have to log in…and lose my comment. I’m really tired of re-identifying myself every %$#@! day.

And while “somebody” is fixing things,they should fix it so I don’t type my comments and then get told I have to log in…and lose my comment.

I don’t see why you should lose your comment.

Signing in again is a minor inconvenience, true, but I always just copy my comment before signing in, then paste it in again after I’m signed in.

Glen Davidson

Hell, even I, august as I am, have to do that. :)

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

And while “somebody” is fixing things,they should fix it so I don’t type my comments and then get told I have to log in…and lose my comment.

I don’t see why you should lose your comment.

Signing in again is a minor inconvenience, true, but I always just copy my comment before signing in, then paste it in again after I’m signed in.

Glen Davidson

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

And while “somebody” is fixing things,they should fix it so I don’t type my comments and then get told I have to log in…and lose my comment.

I don’t see why you should lose your comment.

Signing in again is a minor inconvenience, true, but I always just copy my comment before signing in, then paste it in again after I’m signed in.

Glen Davidson

Yeah - it took me a couple of times to catch on - but it’s still bothersome.

Paul Burnett said:

Scott F said: Maybe let the kids decide whether the earth is flat, or whether the sun goes around the earth or not. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether dinosaurs lived among humans, or whether the earth’s continents are drifting apart.

Let the kids decide whether 14-year olds should be allowed to drive; abstinence versus contraception versus unprotected sex; capitalism versus communism - there’s any number of weighty decisions we can safely leave up to the children.

Why don’t we let children decide what is edible versus what is poisonous?

Help keep Oklahoma from becoming the third state to adopt an ‘academic freedom act’!! We have mounted as many messages as we can to the entire Senate asking that they remove the amendment to HB 2341. The Senate floor amendment by Sen. Steve Russell takes the entirety of HB 1551 (copied from the LA law) Non-residents might help as well, but if you do – be respectful. One can send one message to the entire Oklahoma Senate by copying the entire address list and pasting into the ‘TO’ block, mentioning opposition to amendment to HB 2341 and add just a few sentences in the body; a long message not needed – we just need NUMBERS in opposition. We appreciate the help readers of this blog may provide!

More information and the addresses of the Oklahoma Senate are on the OESE web site ( http://www.oklascience.org/ )

fnxtr said:

Robert: It’s “would have”, not “would of”. Only a complete fucking moron doesn’t understand this.

This is my favorite bit:

Why not believe in the people to be able to weigh matters like in origin subjects? They do it anyways!

Is our children learning?

Reminds me of one of my favorite lines from a movie (I think The Devil’s Comandment (1956)):

What are you staring at? You make me think something’s the matter that way!

At first read it doesn’t seem amiss, but then you realize… Nah, doesn’t work.

Paul Burnett said:

And while “somebody” is fixing things,they should fix it so I don’t type my comments and then get told I have to log in…and lose my comment. I’m really tired of re-identifying myself every %$#@! day.

And while “somebody” is fixing things, maybe there’s a way to not have to hand enter HTML tags? I may be old fashioned, but it does get tedious.

Paul Burnett said:

Scott F said: Maybe let the kids decide whether the earth is flat, or whether the sun goes around the earth or not. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether dinosaurs lived among humans, or whether the earth’s continents are drifting apart.

Let the kids decide whether 14-year olds should be allowed to drive; abstinence versus contraception versus unprotected sex; capitalism versus communism - there’s any number of weighty decisions we can safely leave up to the children.

There! Now that’s the key to putting this nonsense in perspective. If a Creationist asks why we can’t teach both sides and let the kids decide, ask them why we can’t teach them both sides about the use of contraception, and let the kids decide. “They do it anyways!” according to Mr. Byers.

Scott F said: maybe there’s a way to not have to hand enter HTML tags? I may be old fashioned, but it does get tedious.

I’ve been hand-carving HTML since 1994…I’m used to it. Definitely old-fashioned, tho - other blogs are more civilized HTML-wise.

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

Why not believe in the people to be able to weigh matters like in origin subjects? They do it anyways! Yes its more suggestive to the kids that doubt in evolution is part of the nations institutions but in the end they still look at things on the merits.

How? By what means are they to “weigh matters”, when they don’t know anything about evolution yet? Are they to judge whether evolution is “true” by how evolution makes them feel on Sunday mornings?

Perhaps we should let kids decide what parts of history are “true” by how it makes them feel? The Southern states have been doing that for the last 160 years or so. How did that work out for them? Maybe we should let the kids decide how far away the stars are. Maybe let the kids decide whether the earth is flat, or whether the sun goes around the earth or not. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether dinosaurs lived among humans, or whether the earth’s continents are drifting apart. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether there is an unlimited supply of “fossil” fuels or not. Let the children decide for themselves what the half life of carbon 14 is.

People weigh matters very well. Kids too. Most people would understand what I mean. They can hear both sides present their evidence and criticisms of each other and the folks draw their own conclusions. Are you saying they only understand what you know they can understand? Is this what teacher board rooms say? They are not children but youths who are expected to vote and shoot . This is not a winning point for your side.

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/[…]R4rkKphzUAn0 said:

Robert Byers

Well, we can just as easily ask schoolkids to weigh matters in regards to the learning of trigonometry and calculus. I’m pretty sure that there would be enthusiastic support from kids for the removal ot these topics from the high school maths curriculum.

Do you think that this would be a good idea? Would you support the removal of said topics on the basis of popular support? If not, on the basis of which “special” criteria?

Its not a proper analogy. Origin subjects are contentious ones. Kids wouldn’t ban these math things.They believe in them and just might privately avoid them. What kids do you know?? Lets try and see if having both sides raises or lessens interest in science subjects.

Paul Burnett said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/j5i6uksLusgE[…]j_JIeOO3eKfg–#35e25 said:

Hey, how did I become a masked panda (comment #2)? It’s never happened to me before. This is John Harshman. Somebody really should fix this.

And while “somebody” is fixing things,they should fix it so I don’t type my comments and then get told I have to log in…and lose my comment. I’m really tired of re-identifying myself every %$#@! day.

Just sign in and then backspace back to your comment. No need to lose anything. I’m sure the kids would figure this out just as they would figure out evolution is without evidence to shake a stick at.

apokryltaros said:

Paul Burnett said:

Scott F said: Maybe let the kids decide whether the earth is flat, or whether the sun goes around the earth or not. Let’s put to a vote of the children whether dinosaurs lived among humans, or whether the earth’s continents are drifting apart.

Let the kids decide whether 14-year olds should be allowed to drive; abstinence versus contraception versus unprotected sex; capitalism versus communism - there’s any number of weighty decisions we can safely leave up to the children.

Why don’t we let children decide what is edible versus what is poisonous?

What, and have more devilish natural selection goin’ on?!? That’s just askin’ fer trouble!

Robert Byers telling lies again:

Whether its todd Wood or the governor they are only okay people if they do the right thing as I understand this post. First its a bad state but then a good governor giving evolutions a “small” victory. Was there a victory here? What defines “small” relative to nothing? This was a defeat of privat groups trying to stop the will of the people. its quite possible 80-90% of Tenn agrees with this law if they heard about it. The governor could of stopped it but didn’t. Thats not a hero! Why not believe in the people to be able to weigh matters like in origin subjects? They do it anyways! Yes its more suggestive to the kids that doubt in evolution is part of the nations institutions but in the end they still look at things on the merits. Possibly creationism opinion amongst these kids might drop if they heard both sides. I think evolutionary biology is the one that will suffer. Thats why removal of censorship is such a positive thing to us.

People weigh matters very well. Kids too. Most people would understand what I mean. They can hear both sides present their evidence and criticisms of each other and the folks draw their own conclusions. Are you saying they only understand what you know they can understand? Is this what teacher board rooms say? They are not children but youths who are expected to vote and shoot . This is not a winning point for your side.

Its not a proper analogy. Origin subjects are contentious ones. Kids wouldn’t ban these math things.They believe in them and just might privately avoid them. What kids do you know?? Lets try and see if having both sides raises or lessens interest in science subjects.

Just sign in and then backspace back to your comment. No need to lose anything. I’m sure the kids would figure this out just as they would figure out evolution is without evidence to shake a stick at.

Since evolution is an indisputable fact in science and Creationism is known to be a total fraud, how can you or anyone else justify corrupting science just because most people favor it? Arguments from popularity are a logical fallacy.

Depicting creationism and evolution as equal opponents in a dispute would be lying to the kids. We must never do this. There is no scientific evidence for Creationism and there never has been.

Robert Byers said: Kids wouldn’t ban these math things.

Well, now we know you don’t have kids.

Nick Matzke: I noted how it was odd that Todd Wood, one of the only non-delusional professional creationists in existence…

Since Matzke is defending Wood he cannot be a real Creationist because Atheist-Evolutionist Nick Matzke would never defend a real Creationist.

Todd Wood: http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/[…]olution.html

“Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well. I say these things not because I’m crazy or because I’ve “converted” to evolution. I say these things because they are true.”

As any honest and objective person can see, Wood is not a real Creationist.

The skirl of the bagpipes accompanies Ray everywhere he goes. Whole kilted armies of True Scotsmen on their wild haggises ride at his beck.

What Ray is saying, of course, is that there are no creationists but those he recognises. Excellent. That would be Ray and some bloke in Watford who’s just as crazy as he is. And Ray’s not sure about the bloke in Watford.

The besetting grace about creationists is that if they had fifteen minutes of domination, they’d use it to slit one another’s throats.

There is no scientific evidence for Creationism and there never has been.

You think science beats popular vote? ;-)

Ray Martinez said:

Since Matzke is defending Wood he cannot be a real Creationist because Atheist-Evolutionist Nick Matzke would never defend a real Creationist.

As any honest and objective person can see, Wood is not a real Creationist.

What is your problem with atheism, anyway? You love to demonize people for not being “pure” about their Creationism, but that seems pointless. How can anything based on fraud and bigotry be pure?

I could also argue that you are not a real Creationist either, because you dare to attack a fellow Creationist like Wood. Trying to create divisions among people to make them more vulnerable to attacks from the outside is a classic method of subversion.

In short, you have said nothing useful.….as always.

According to Russell Grigg, his article ask, ‘Could monkeys type the 23rd Psalm?’ He calculates that if a monkey types one key at random per second, the average time to produce the word ‘the’ is 34.72 hours. To produce something as long as the 23rd Psalm (a short Hebrew poem made up of 603 letters, verse numbers and spaces) would take on average around 10*1017. As William Dembski says, we make from our experience with information-rich systems such as languages, codes, computers, machines etc.

Jay said:

According to Russell Grigg, his article ask, ‘Could monkeys type the 23rd Psalm?’ He calculates that if a monkey types one key at random per second, the average time to produce the word ‘the’ is 34.72 hours. To produce something as long as the 23rd Psalm (a short Hebrew poem made up of 603 letters, verse numbers and spaces) would take on average around 10*1017. As William Dembski says, we make from our experience with information-rich systems such as languages, codes, computers, machines etc.

There have always been serious fundamental problems with the calculations of the ID/creationists when it comes to atoms and molecules. According to ID/creationists, atoms and molecules are just inert things that are randomly scattered around waiting to be sampled with a uniform probability distribution and then placed in extremely improbable arrangements. The ID/creationist conclusion is that intelligence is required to assemble complex molecules.

However, even high school chemistry and physics students know better. A high school physics or chemistry student can calculate the ratio between the electrical force and the gravitational force on, say, a proton. This comes out to be 1.2 x 1036.

These students can also go on to show that if masses on the order of kilograms were flying about with electrical interactions scaled up by the same ratio, then they would calculate that binding energies of the order of 1 electron volt at the atomic/molecular level would be scaled up to 8.2 x 1025 joules.

In other words, it would take something like 2 x 1016 tons of TNT to break the bonds between kilogram sized masses bound together by those scaled-up electrical forces.

ID/creationists only appear to be smart because they jump immediately into advanced topics and mud-wrestle endlessly about the meanings of words. But when you check, you discover that not one of them understands even high school level chemistry and physics.

Jay said:

According to Russell Grigg, his article ask, ‘Could monkeys type the 23rd Psalm?’ He calculates that if a monkey types one key at random per second, the average time to produce the word ‘the’ is 34.72 hours. To produce something as long as the 23rd Psalm (a short Hebrew poem made up of 603 letters, verse numbers and spaces) would take on average around 10*1017. As William Dembski says, we make from our experience with information-rich systems such as languages, codes, computers, machines etc.

So the proper conclusion is obviously that monkeys did not type the 23rd Psalm from scratch. Got it.

Now, please describe exactly what evolutionary processes are being modeled in this analogy? Please explain why anyone should care about this supposed “model”.

If you are going to cite an “article”, you might want to give the proper citation. Any particular reason you failed to do so?

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on April 13, 2012 11:22 AM.

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