Duane Gish dies

| 43 Comments

Duane Gish, the notorious young-earth creationist, has died at 92. You may find an obituary that is respectful yet pulls no punches here.

43 Comments

And he performed in all of those debates with a skeleton only partly adapted from its quadrupedal forebears.

Exhibiting for evolution, all the while denying it.

Glen Davidson

As I said on another thread here, Gish was a vast emptiness surrounded by an education. He was also an awful liar. If someone pointed out to him an error in his assertions, he would agree and then repeat the same assertion the following week in another venue. The man had no shame and was completely unethical. He is best known for the Gish gallop, named after him, which consists in a debate of making a number of unsupported assertions which his opponents would take 5 times as long to refute as he took to make them. He will not be missed.

The late John Maynard Smith was wise to his approach and entered a debate with him well equipped handle the Gish gallop. I believe he also was bested in a debate against Ken Miller who also prepared himself well and was well equipped to handle the Gish gallop.

I’ve heard a rumor that he recanted on his deathbed.

Paul Burnett said:

I’ve heard a rumor that he recanted on his deathbed.

I heard that too. Apparently there’s a recording.

I believe he also was bested in a debate against Ken Miller who also prepared himself well and was well equipped to handle the Gish gallop.

I think the NCSE put that debate from long ago on YouTube

I will always remember that Duane Gish did not come from a fish.

I have an image in my mind of Gish sharing a hot cell with Chavez.

I know Gish is an ape.

Karen S. said:

I believe he also was bested in a debate against Ken Miller who also prepared himself well and was well equipped to handle the Gish gallop.

I think the NCSE put that debate from long ago on YouTube

I believe you’re thinking of the Miller-Morris debate, available here. I wasn’t able to locate any debates between Miller and Gish on YouTube.

They do, however, have a 2001 debate with Gish, Genie Scott and Hugh Ross, here.

I believe you’re thinking of the Miller-Morris debate, available here.

You’re right, sorry about that. I can’t keep my creationists straight

I believe the biologist that bested him was Ken Saladin:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mod[…]ladin-gish2/

Dave Wisker said:

I believe the biologist that bested him was Ken Saladin:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mod[…]ladin-gish2/

A money quote at the end of the preface …

If I can extend any wishes to Dr. Gish, they are for good health and a long life, so my colleagues and I will have many more opportunities to publicly reveal the mendacity of America’s most capable spokesman for “scientific” creationism, and the vacuity of the technical polemics against evolution.

8 July 1988 Kenneth S. Saladin, Ph.D.

On the Neil Shubin thread harold commented:

harold Wrote:

He did this on Upjohn Company time?

Today that would be trespassing, and probably a violation of a lot of other local laws and regulations. Even in the 1960’s an adult hanging around a school during school hours would have been noticed. But let’s say that in a different time and place maybe the security and constitutional rights aspects of this were overlooked. That’s still an Upjohn employee, not at Upjohn, not making money for Upjohn, in the middle of a week day. Of course, in those different times, people did have something call a “lunch break”, and taking an hour would not have been considered all that unusual. Maybe he did it on “lunch break”. Still pretty sketchy.

Gish may have been fired from Upjohn. He was a professional creationist by 1971.

I knew many people who worked in various divisions of Upjohn, and I visited various labs and computing facilities on a number of occasions. However, I never met Gish in person. I don’t know if he was fired or if he simply quit.

Upjohn was a really posh environment in which to work if you were a professional. You could pretty much come and go as you liked. If Gish worked in some research lab – it’s hard to imagine how he could ever do any research – he didn’t have to punch a clock as did the production workers in their production facilities.

It seems strange in retrospect that schools were as open as they were back in the 1960s; things have changed a lot, and Gish could never show up unannounced today. But he showed up in the biology courses not only in Kalamazoo, but in neighboring districts as well. Many retired teachers remember him; and his stench still lingers.

A few years ago there was an article in the local newspaper interviewing biology teachers in the area about how they approached the teaching of evolution. It was surprising to see that there are still some biology teachers who are skittish about teaching evolution. Teachers still have to walk on egg shells; and even the biology instructors at the highly competitive math/science center still get harassed by parents. The parochial Christian schools follow the standard ID/creationist shtick.

If there are any ID/creationist political shenanigans going on at the moment, they are going on below the radar. The last complaint about evolution to show up in the letters to the editor of the local newspaper was back in 2009. Nevertheless, the local Right Wing political groups have managed to pull the local district’s Republican representatives in both the State and National Houses far to the right; so it is evident that they are still active and effective.

Gish and Ham are revered in some of the local Reformed type churches in the area.

I knew many people who worked in various divisions of Upjohn, and I visited various labs and computing facilities on a number of occasions. However, I never met Gish in person. I don’t know if he was fired or if he simply quit.

He certainly was abusive of Upjohn on a number of levels. It seems extremely hard to imagine how he could have done this school-visiting without using company time.

Also, of course, he was doing more than just slacking off to go to the gym or some such thing. He was, presumably while being paid by Upjohn, engaged in inflammatory and almost certainly illegal activities. “This program was brought to you by Upjohn, the company that pays fundamentalists to break into schools and harass teachers”. His activities may or may not have been encouraged by some in management, but overall, no rational shareholder would want that.

Incidentally, I think it is reasonable to divide human history into periods. It is always arbitrary and subjective to do so, but nevertheless helpful.

When I look at the current period of US history, I can’t help seeing a particular year stand out as characteristic of the transition. That year is 1968, the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Tet offensive. Also around the time when rapidly rising crime, widespread “hard” drug use, and environmental concerns were beginning to become major issues. A year when Richard “southern strategy” Nixon (who was a flaming liberal by today’s standards, granted) was elected, partly by exploiting the crime issue.

It’s interesting that a younger (although not terribly young) Duane Gish was coming into his own during that period.

Oddly, the major impacts of a realignment led by social conservatives have been economic. There’s no reason to think that fundamentalist creationism has made any serious gains in any substantial way.

The prior period had been characterized by progressive economics, but a social hierarchy that restricted opportunity for women, ethnic minorities, openly gay people, people who could be identified as rural poor or urban working class, and even, at some level, Jews and Catholics, and also by relatively strict censorship. (While it would be repulsive to defend the social hierarchy of the 1950’s, it is worth mentioning that because of the progressive economics of the time, when the impact of technology is corrected for, many people were better off, even though facing legal discrimination, than they are today in the absence of overt, legally condoned discrimination.)

Instead of say, keeping women in the kitchen, the Gishes of the world failed in that way, but succeeded in assuring that women - along with everyone else - face greater economic barriers to opportunity.

I believe that the backlash period that began circa 1968 has been drawing to a close for the last few years, largely because its impact was to incrementally reduce access to economic and professional opportunity and independence for each succeeding cohort of young people. It’s finally gotten to the point that young people are really noticing.

harold said:

I can’t help seeing a particular year stand out as characteristic of the transition. That year is 1968, the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Tet offensive.

We should also recall that June 27, 1969 was the date of the Stonewall backlash against harassment of the gay community by the police, and the beginning of the public, open assertion of gay rights. Blacks, feminists, poor people, people who oppose war, gays. All of them groups that the right wing loathes with a seething, violent hatred.

History often produces a strongly counter-coup effect. As harold remarks, Richard Nixon was a pinko commie librul by the standards of the contemporary right wing. But the contemporary right wing is as much the product of those events as the Weathermen or the Summer of Love. And guess who’s still there, wielding real power, long after both of those have become distant memories?

Am I the only one around to respond to this news item with “Ding dong, the Gish is dead”?

I’ll get my coat …

Another point to remember is that in 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I. This set off a reevaluation of the science and math taught in the US public schools.

Among the many reforms Sputnik initiated was the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). (Similar revisions took place in chemistry and physics.) This, in turn, resulted in a backlash from the fundamentalists about the teaching of evolution.

Other attempted reforms also set off the Right Wing; especially the “New Math.”

As with nearly all politicized responses to ongoing changes in society, all sorts of ideologies were conflated and pulled into the mix of political backlash over the teaching of evolution. Fundamentalists, with their usual penchant for conflating concepts, exploited these societal changes as “social decay” leading to the fall of society.

But they always do that; it is one of the fear tactics that fundamentalist preachers use to keep their followers terrified and dependent.

calilasseia said:

Am I the only one around to respond to this news item with “Ding dong, the Gish is dead”?

I’ll get my coat …

“That Duane has left the station?”

I’ll grab my coat too…

https://me.yahoo.com/a/UIFqpY46nexU[…]agSA6W#dd2ba said:

Gish was a giant of an intellect and a nemesis to the Darwinist. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on in the creationist movement he helped shape.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/UIFqpY46nexU[…]agSA6W#dd2ba said:

Gish was a giant [gaping hole] of an intellect[ual dishonesty] and a nemesis to the Darwinist common decency and rational thought. He will be sorely missed [by others of his ilk], but his legacy will live on in the creationist movement he helped shape.

Fixed that for you. The last half of the last sentence was spot on though.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/UIFqpY46nexU[…]agSA6W#dd2ba said:

Gish was a giant of an intellect and a nemesis to the Darwinist. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on in the creationist movement he helped shape.

To paraphrase Isaac Newton:

If Duane saw less than than other men, it is only because he spent his time pissing on the toes of giants.

stevaroni said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/UIFqpY46nexU[…]agSA6W#dd2ba said:

Gish was a giant of an intellect and a nemesis to the Darwinist. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on in the creationist movement he helped shape.

To paraphrase Isaac Newton:

If Duane saw less than than other men, it is only because he spent his time pissing on the toes of giants.

Most excellent!

phhht said:

Gish who?

Gesundheit!

SWT said:

phhht said:

Gish who?

Gesundheit!

Ha!

https://me.yahoo.com/a/UIFqpY46nexU[…]agSA6W#dd2ba said:

calilasseia said:

Am I the only one around to respond to this news item with “Ding dong, the Gish is dead”?

I’ll get my coat …

How typically disrespectful of you. All I can say in response is that Darwinists like yourself will get your comeuppance…and sooner than some believe possible. Gish identified all the holes in Darwinian theory; now it is time for someone else to pull the plug.

Well, what are you waiting for? Commence to pullin. We’re waitin.

Talk about disrespectful. While it’s not polite to speak ill of the dead, this guy is defending a known liar, charlatan and fraud who was perhaps the most immoral of the creationists. The contempt that Gish showed for professional evolutionary biologists and science teachers was the most disrespectful thing that I can imagine. Reminding people of that reality would not be necessary if the behavior had not been so egregious in the first place.

Why wait? Dump this guy to the bathroom wall now.

In honor of Mr. Gish’s departure I will now quote-mine in the finest creationist tradition:

Gish was a giant…

Gish who?

Giant what?

DS said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/UIFqpY46nexU[…]agSA6W#dd2ba said:

calilasseia said:

Am I the only one around to respond to this news item with “Ding dong, the Gish is dead”?

I’ll get my coat …

How typically disrespectful of you. All I can say in response is that Darwinists like yourself will get your comeuppance…and sooner than some believe possible. Gish identified all the holes in Darwinian theory; now it is time for someone else to pull the plug.

Well, what are you waiting for? Commence to pullin. We’re waitin.

Talk about disrespectful. While it’s not polite to speak ill of the dead, this guy is defending a known liar, charlatan and fraud who was perhaps the most immoral of the creationists. The contempt that Gish showed for professional evolutionary biologists and science teachers was the most disrespectful thing that I can imagine. Reminding people of that reality would not be necessary if the behavior had not been so egregious in the first place.

Only someone who worships lies, such as the banned troll Atheistoclast, would find describing exactly what Duane Gish was in life, i.e., a professional Liar For Jesus who made a fortune spreading anti-science propaganda, disrespectful.

Besides, he’s a moronic hypocrite to whine that he “feel(s) ashamed to be human” when he, himself, has the ability to feel human, or even the ability to earn respect, when he wormed his way out of a realworld debate by bragging of and threatening about how his murderous temper will lead him to kill people?

And don’t let us forget about how creationists hypocritically love to do nothing but speak ill of the dead, about how Ken Ham or Pat Robertson or Jerry Fallwell (until his death) always love to claim ad nauseum that God murdered such and such persons as petty revenge divine punishment for not being a Christian bigot.

I think that we can easily adapt Hitchen’s quote about Falwell and apply it to Gish “If you gave Gish an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”

Thanks Hitch!

Gish? Good riddence to bad rubbish.

I actually have much to thank Duane Gish for. Back in 1980, I had no idea there was any ‘controversy’ about evolution. I assumed it was accepted like any other scientific theory in the 20th century. Then I came across Gish’s “Evolution : The Fossils say ‘NO’!”

Well I was truly amazed and immediately dove into the book. The more I read, the more I began to become annoyed. The book was actually playing fast and loose with scientific fact as I had known it. I knew he was wrong, but not why. I began to gather information just to prove (to myself) that it was all a load of hokey.

And so began my long involvement in the world of anti-creationism and a much greater understanding of science in general, and evolution in particular. In fact it was this book that gave me the final push to enter university with the view to training as a palaeontologist.

So all in all I say ‘Vale’ to Duane Gish. Like him or loathe him, he changed a lot of lives and I am one who must accept his part in mine.

Back in 1980, I had no idea there was any ‘controversy’ about evolution.

I’d heard of evolution denial prior to getting on the internet in the mid-nineties, but didn’t really grasp what it meant until I’d had a few months on a Prodigy BB “discussing” the subject.

Speaking of creationists hypocrisy when it comes to speaking ill of the dead…

http://www.answersingenesis.org/med[…]ate-about-it

rogerperitone said:

Speaking of creationists hypocrisy when it comes to speaking ill of the dead…

http://www.answersingenesis.org/med[…]ate-about-it

And yet they do nothing to prove it. Therefore, we can dismiss it.

His NCSE obituary contains this 1993 quote from Karl Fezer:

“Gish will say, with rhetorical flourish and dramatic emphasis, whatever he thinks will serve to maintain, in the minds of his uncritical followers, his image as a knowledgeable ‘creation scientist.’ An essential component is to lard his remarks with technical detail; whether that detail is accurate or relevant or based on unambiguous evidence is of no concern. When confronted with evidence of his own error, he resorts to diversionary tactics and outright denial.”

Given that, plus the trend of the next 20 years of anti-evolution activists becoming more vague than ever about their elusive, mutually contradictory “theories,” the obvious question, and one that needs to be asked at every opportunity, is: Do these people really believe what they peddle? With the caveat that only reading minds can tell us for sure, I think it is safe to conclude that, for nearly all career anti-evolution activists, and many of their close followers (e.g. politicians), the answer is no.

rogerperitone said:

Speaking of creationists hypocrisy when it comes to speaking ill of the dead…

http://www.answersingenesis.org/med[…]ate-about-it

Likewise, evolution remains true regardless of your ignorance. The difference is, anyone can examine the evidence for evolution, so ignorance is no longer a valid excuse.

Frank J said:

His NCSE obituary contains this 1993 quote from Karl Fezer:

“Gish will say, with rhetorical flourish and dramatic emphasis, whatever he thinks will serve to maintain, in the minds of his uncritical followers, his image as a knowledgeable ‘creation scientist.’ An essential component is to lard his remarks with technical detail; whether that detail is accurate or relevant or based on unambiguous evidence is of no concern. When confronted with evidence of his own error, he resorts to diversionary tactics and outright denial.”

Given that, plus the trend of the next 20 years of anti-evolution activists becoming more vague than ever about their elusive, mutually contradictory “theories,” the obvious question, and one that needs to be asked at every opportunity, is: Do these people really believe what they peddle? With the caveat that only reading minds can tell us for sure, I think it is safe to conclude that, for nearly all career anti-evolution activists, and many of their close followers (e.g. politicians), the answer is no.

Actually, even with the ability to read minds perfectly, you probably still couldn’t determine what many of them really believe.

I suspect that much of the ID/creationist shenanigans are related to socio/political striving. The leaders of this phenomenon are obsessive/compulsive, clawing social climbers within their own sectarian subculture.

Sneering at, poking at, taunting and provoking scientists into responding to them makes them seem formidable within that subculture. It’s how they lard up their image as powerful, “universally knowledgeable” leaders who can command instant obeisance from a following that already has been alienated from the rest of society by the scare tactics of bigoted preachers.

They strive to have titles and letters after their names; and they display these titles and letters routinely and ostentatiously. They will even concoct “accredited institutions” giving out these social accoutrements. It gives them an apparent air of intellectual authority.

It is interesting (not really) to watch the pretentious “intellectual” concoctions going on over at UD. Over there they are obsessively concerned about letters and titles. In the last couple of years there has been a lot of pseudoscience being concocted in an attempt to make “goddidit” appear scientific; everything from a “semiotic theory of ID,” to Granville Sewell’s pseudo mathematics in which he can’t get the units right, to “Life Project Architecture” (LPA).

The ID/creationist movement has taken on all the characteristics of a pseudo-intellectual cult of posturing pretenders who see themselves as the movers and shakers of intellectual discourse in the US, and now the rest of the world. They have their own cargo cult of “scientific journals” and “scientific conferences.” They have their own “historians” and their own “mathematics.”

The leaders and leader-wannabes in this movement see themselves as giving intellectual legitimacy to a childish set of sectarian beliefs; and they become drunk with the power they perceive they have when grass roots political activists refer to their writings as scientific.

So ID/creationism has become a closed-in, tightly-knit, self-confirming subculture with its own “intellectual elite;” all of it attempting to imitate the long-established and legitimate cultural and intellectual achievements of the broader culture. But the imitation has the underlying purpose of using political means to displace all those legitimate intellectual achievements that have earned their place in society.

Every ID/creationist leader – and Gish was one of the most mean-spirited – is a jealous striver clawing for a free ride on the back of a legitimate scientific achiever. Their followers imitate their behaviors with similar strivings and tactics. There is no knowledge of science involved in any of this; it’s all pretense and puffery. Middle school and high school science students already know far more.

DS Wrote:

Actually, even with the ability to read minds perfectly, you probably still couldn’t determine what many of them really believe.

All the more reason to stop saying that they “believe this” or “don’t understand that.” It’s all about what they promote, and how they increasingly promote, if indirectly, claims that are mutually contradictory.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Great googly moogly, Ray, if you didn’t exist, we couldn’t imagine you.

Ray Martinez said:

Paul Burnett said:

I’ve heard a rumor that he recanted on his deathbed.

Rumor has it that Darwin did too.

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