Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Robert Wright’s Bloggingheads.tv Censors Intelligent Design Interview

posted by David Klinghoffer

Wow. This is positively Stalinist. Robert Wright’s Bloggingheads.tv has abruptly removed an interview it put up hours before in which linguist Dr. John McWhorter talks with biochemist Dr. Michael Behe about Behe’s The Edge of Evolution. It’s a fascinating exchange. McWhorter starts off by saying that while his own writing has been primarily on race, other subjects interest him more. For example, it would seem, evolution. 

He proceeds to reveal startling depths of enthusiasm for Behe, Behe’s book, and intelligent design. He talks about how he never previously believed in God and never wanted to until he read Behe, who of course in his own writing steers clear of theological ruminations (apart from noting that he’s a Roman Catholic). A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, McWhorter clearly has been thinking and reading about the subject for years. He makes a stimulating, well informed interviewer for Behe.
Sounds good, right? No, bad! Very bad! Bad McWhorter! Apologize now! 
OK, I will!
Something evidently happened behind the scenes at Bloggingheads. So the interview was taken down, at which point an anonymous Orwellian Administrator posted as follows:

John McWhorter feels, with regret, that this interview represents neither himself, Professor Behe, nor Bloggingheads usefully, takes full responsibility for same, and has asked that it be taken down from the site. He apologizes to all who found its airing objectionable.

Now, you must go and watch the interview for yourself over at Uncommon Descent. Here’s the link where it used to be. You can disagree with Behe and McWhorter; think they’re both full of baloney if you like. But there’s no question that simply as an interview, a piece of casual, conversational journalism, the McWhorter exchange is exemplary. It’s fascinating. He admires the book, undoubtedly, even becoming passionate about it at points, but also poses challenging questions. There’s nothing to apologize for here. Yet clearly he was pressured into taking it down. By whom?
The irony is that Wright himself has stood out from other Darwinists for his honesty and openness. I blogged earlier on his offer of a “grand bargain” of peace between Darwin-believers and Darwin-doubters. Is our part of the bargain then to be seen and not heard? Or maybe not even seen. Wright seems to be away from email. One assumes this happened while he was out of the shop.

Efforts to get a meaningful comment from anyone else at Bloggingheads have so far not panned out. We’ll keep you posted.
But OK, let’s try to give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you have to be a practicing scientist in a white lab coat to have an opinion on Darwinism? You mean like Behe himself? No, dummy, like McWhorter who’s only got a PhD from Stanford in linguistics, taught at Berkeley and Cornell, and wrote a book about the evolution of language! Obviously just another know-nothing creationist.
Or could it be that there’s something inappropriate, according to the vaunted Bloggingheads tradition, about an interviewer expressing undisguised friendliness to the subject of his interview? Hmm, compare and contrast with this Bloggingheads interview with atheist Darwinian biologist P.Z. Myers by Abigail Smith, a wide-eyed, giggling University of Oklahoma grad student in a tank top. In one segment, the stolid Myers and flirty Smith commiserate with each other about the misery of having to review “creationist screeds” such as those by Michael Behe. Does this young lady, who also blogs, ever challenge Myers on anything? Maybe I missed it.
Here’s her cheerfully obscene take on censoring Behe. It’s odd, what she says about the Behe-McWhorter interaction would be far more accurately said about Myers-Smith. We’ll leave it at that, since this is a blog for all the family.


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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 27, 2009 at 7:02 pm


Stalinist.
Is Michael Behe being sent to a labor camp then? I didn’t think Democrats had been in power THAT long.
Do you agree with Behe, David, that humans are descended from the same common ancestor as the other primates?



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What's Good for the Goose

posted August 27, 2009 at 8:46 pm


The McCarthyism of the Darwinists is breathtaking. The interviewer was forced to apologize for having a respectful conversation with a heretic. The fear, loathing, cowardice, and demagoguery mounted by supposedly rational people against those with heterodox views illustrates their abject fear of competing views. If they are so right, then prove it in open debate and don’t try to stifle ID views. It also reflects a shameful abandonment of the idea of a free market of ideas.
The host clearly feared for his career. Blacklisting happens in this arena. What a scandal.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm


David, here’s another example of your inability to characterize anyone’s views honestly:
I blogged earlier on his offer of a “grand bargain” of peace between Darwin-believers and Darwin-doubters.
But what you actually said there was “science and religion”.
Nice: equate religion with “denying Darwin”. The Pope will be surprised to find out Catholicism is no longer a religion. Religious people all over the world will be surprised, in fact, that one David Klinghoffer has decided who is religious and who is not.
I expect Turmarion will have something to say. Along with all those questions he posts for you, that you never answer. Like Linus and the Great Pumpkin, except that Turmarion knows what to expect from you by now.
Abbie Smith, whatever else her failings, has forgotten more about biology than you have bothered to learn.



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Gabriel Hanna

posted August 27, 2009 at 10:30 pm


Abigail Smith, a wide-eyed, giggling University of Oklahoma grad student in a tank top…
Who has more peer-reviewed publications than all the DI fellows put together, I’ll warrant, and is a holder of graduate degrees in biology.
Of course you’d have to denigrate her, and ignore that she is an actual biologist who specializes in HIV; far more qualified than John McWhorter (who is a smart man) to discuss biochemistry with Michael Behe.
Which is why Behe would never agree to be interviewed by her, because he couldn’t get away with saying things like “there’s no evidence for evolution” in the biochemical literature, like he tried to do during Kitzmiller vs Dover



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Mark

posted August 28, 2009 at 2:25 am


Gabriel, I see three comments of yours above, but none concerning the interview. I think that fact reveals your discomfort with it. “Damn, we’ve lost another fine gentleman to the other side” – kind of discomfort.
I thought the interview was refreshing, don’t you?



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Turmarion

posted August 28, 2009 at 8:13 am


Lest we forget:
David, in his post on Francis Collins: “On the other hand, that life has an evolutionary history including billions of years of change — that is unassailable as science and unobjectionable to me as a Jew.” Please explain to me how this is this article which you linked to awhile back, you’re on record as saying, “Normally, I think it’s best for friends of ID to avoid a defensive posture and generally let critics say what they want without our always feeling obliged to respond.” (emphasis added) You obviously hew closely to that ethos, but is that anything like the real debate, discussion, or dialogue you claim to want? Is this how you view what you’re doing–assert and assert and assert, ignoring all calls for answers, responses, or dialogue? If this is how you view things, why have a blog with responses at all?



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Turmarion

posted August 28, 2009 at 8:59 am


Let’s see…
David: Maybe you have to be a practicing scientist in a white lab coat to have an opinion on Darwinism?
This is of course a straw man misdirection. Anyone can have any opinion on anything. Most such opinions are about as valuable as Monopoly money, but anyone can have them. Now, even if you restrict the meaning of opinion to reasoned, considered opinions based upon fact, then of course anyone who actually bothers to learn the relevant information can of course have an opinion on anything he wishes, no matter what letters he has (or lacks) after his name.
You mean like Behe himself?
Anyone who’s spent any time in graduate school knows that having a PhD does not protect one from having goofball opinions, sometimes even on matters in one’s own field. That’s why there is peer review and peer consensus. The fact that Behe has a PhD in biology and promotes ID is less significant than the fact that thousands of others people with PhD’s in the same field reject ID.
No, dummy, like McWhorter who’s only got a PhD from Stanford in linguistics, taught at Berkeley and Cornell, and wrote a book about the evolution of language!
I actually have read a lot of McWhorter’s stuff and I like him. However, having a PhD in linguistics in and of itself no more qualifies one to comment meaningfully on molecular or evolutionary biology than having a PhD in biology qualifies one to comment meaningfully on transformational-generative grammar.
Having said that, the following points:
1. One wonders why they didn’t have Behe do a piece with, say, Ken Miller or someone like him–that is, a fellow biologist on the other side of the fence. I mean, while they can of course do any combination they want, why pair a linguist with a biologist?
2. Of course, no one on either side of the issue should stifle freedom of speech. I would point out that on the ID side there is often a slippery definition of what this means, though. Not teaching ID in schools or dismissing professors who promote it in science departments is often described by ID proponents as some type of witch hunt or an attempt to “squelch” freedom of speech. This is not so–it is not violating freedom of speech to dismiss a math professor who insists that 2+2=7641, or to forbid teaching the flat Earth theory in schools. This is called maintaining academic standards by trying to make sure people have the correct information. Now in any other context, a person who is convinced that 2+2=7641 or that the Earth is flat, is perfectly free to promote their views to the high heavens.
3. That Abigail Smith may be a silly twit is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It is a typical technique of David to throw in such red herrings. Her behavior may be puerile and inappropriate, and I would oppose such behavior by someone on either side; but that’s not relevant to McWhorter and Behe. Of course, I would also point out what Gabriel says, that for any faults she may have, she’s got more peer-reviewed articles than anyone on the ID side. If ID were robust, it’d be able to defend itself, as was the case with Lemaître’s Big Bang theory, which I’ve mentioned before and which David (of course) ignores.
4. Blogginheads.tv of course, being a private entity, can interview, refuse to interview, post, or remove anyone it wants for whatever reason.
5. It seems to me in this regard that the one to contact to get to the bottom of this is McWhorter, since he gave the purported apology and request to remove the piece.
6. It doesn’t seem at this stage that, as David implies but won’t say outright, that there’s some sinister conspiracy afoot here. At least no more than there is when David removes sock-puppet posts, which he, as the maintainer of the blog has a right to do, just like Blogginheads.tv–oh, wait–they’re evil, so they don’t have the right to post or remove whom they will!
7. In fact, given this blog, the DI site, and the plethora of other sites on ID and related issues, it seems hard to argue that the ID side is somehow being “censored”. In fact, David likes to toss around statistics purporting that the majority of Americans reject evolution. One could debate this, but let’s take it at face value for the sake of argument. If this is true, the sinister forces to which David so darkly alludes must not be doing a good job, huh?
What’s Good for the Goose: The interviewer was forced to apologize for having a respectful conversation with a heretic.
I don’t see that there’s any evidence that McWhorter was “forced” to do anything, based on the information we’ve got. Why not ask him? And Wright can’t be away from email forever. Although I would note, in light of my previous post and its numerous repetitions in the past, that Wright isn’t the only one who seems mysteriously to be afk when asked certain questions!
Mark: Gabriel, I see three comments of yours above, but none concerning the interview.
David’s post wasn’t about the interview per se–it was about the purported sinister forces at work in getting it removed. Thus, why should Gabriel have commented on the interview itself? Look, Carl Sagan used to come on Johnny Carson, and it was great TV where you could learn more than you could on most contemporary network crap. However, it would be rediculous to use such an appearance as an argument for Sagan’s scientific opinions on space. Likewise, watching McWhorter and Behe might have some interest, but no one could construe it as a defense of ID, nor do McWhorter’s opinons (even if he’d blasted Behe) have any more weight as to the validity of ID than Carson’s would have regarding astronomy.
Having said that, two points. One, they probably should have left it up just to avoid controversy–God knows there’s plenty of goofiness up on the Web as it is, and some more couldn’t hurt. Two, has anyone considered that McWhorter, for whatever reason, really did take it on himself to request the removal? Maybe when we can actually get a statement from him directly, we’ll know. Unless of course those jackbooted evolutionist thugs have already got to him…. (snark alert)



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Turmarion

posted August 28, 2009 at 9:04 am


Because of a typo on an HTML tag, my first post didn’t come out quite right, so I’m trying again. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire a response this time….
David, in his post on Francis Collins: “On the other hand, that life has an evolutionary history including billions of years of change — that is unassailable as science and unobjectionable to me as a Jew.” Please explain to me how this is one whit different from theistic evolution. David, you said on that same post that you’d like to see someone debate Collins or ask him some pointed questions; yet you resolutely avoid all such questions and attempts at debate here. This one, which seems to me a statement of what almost anyone would refer to as theistic evolution, is especially egregious.
In that regard, your statement on the last thread that theistic evolution cannot be compatible with both science and religion is a mere assertion without explanation, as I addressed there. That is not an answer.
Finally, you still have never given a real response to what we’ve been asking you about Maimonides (at your request, I recapped and expanded on this a few threads ago, remember?). We’re still waiting. Also, I’m still waiting to hear you speak to the issues of randomness [I'll modify this since you suggested the West articles, but you haven't answered my critique of them yet] and alien intelligence vis-à-vis the “image of god”.
I know this is getting repetitive, but I think anyone reading this will agree that I’m not using nasty language and that I’m being perfectly polite. Don’t you think the civil thing is at least to acknowledge the questions, even if for some reason you don’t want to answer them? And if you don’t want to answer them, you might at least give us an idea why not.
I might also point out that in this article which you linked to awhile back, you’re on record as saying, “Normally, I think it’s best for friends of ID to avoid a defensive posture and generally let critics say what they want without our always feeling obliged to respond.” (emphasis added) You obviously hew closely to that ethos, but is that anything like the real debate, discussion, or dialogue you claim to want? Is this how you view what you’re doing–assert and assert and assert, ignoring all calls for answers, responses, or dialogue? If this is how you view things, why have a blog with responses at all?



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Turmarion

posted August 28, 2009 at 9:49 am


A slight addendum. I don’t really have the time to watch Bloggingheads interviews (or much of anything, really), but I looked at the first few minutes of both the Myers-Smith and the McWhorter-Behe interviews. I also had a look at some of the posted links. Based on this admittedly incomplete research, I have the following thoughts:
1. Smith’s blog is a bit off-color, but I have worked as a teacher in high schools and junior colleges for nearly twenty years and I also have spent plenty of time in the blogosphere, and I can tell you that it’s pretty much par for the course for that generation and for large parts of cyberspace. The current generation of twenty-somethings feels free to express itself in rather cruder terms than I’d prefer, and this tendency is particularly pronounced when they blog or post stuff online; but it covers the entire ideological spectrum. It’s not that Smith is a poopy mouth because she’s a dreaded “evolutionist” as David implies–she’s a poopy mouth because it’s typical of her demographic (young blogger).
2. The Myers-Smith episode seems a pretty in-depth discussion of epigenetics–to a non-biologist it would actually come off as rather dry. Smith didn’t really seem to me to be “giggly and flirty”–she seemed like a kid who’s really passionately interested in her field and who’s excited to be able to talk with someone of some prominence on a topic that she finds interesting. She may be a bit bouncy because of that, as any kid in such a situation would be, but would you rather she’d worn a veil and that they’d both talked like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueler’s Day Off?
3. The McWhorter-Behe interview came off about as I thought, sort of like Carson-Sagan. The fact that McWhorter is smart and well-spoken doesn’t means he understands the biology (and this as such, insn’t a criticism per se–that’s not his training), and Behe doesn’t say much he hasn’t elsewhere. I wouldn’t have a problem if Bloggingheads.tv had left it up, but it’s certainly not a hard-hitting blow for ID.
4. This, from the “Evolution News and Views” link, by Luskin, is telling (emphasis added): “After reviewing some of the problems with the Kitzmiller ruling, my talk focused on the importance of protecting academic freedom. I made the point that Darwinists use a variety of tactics to shut down free and open debate on intelligent design (ID) and evolution. These tactics range from persecution of ID-proponents to fear-mongering that challenging Darwin is ‘dishonest’ or brings religion into the classroom, to personal attacks on ID proponents designed to intidimate people from speaking freely in support of ID. I went though arguments made by local Oklahoma Darwinists. First I discused false fear-mongering tactics made by two OU facutly in a document they distributed to oppose the Oklahoma Academic Freedom Bill. Continuing with local attacks on acadmic freedom, I mentioned an incident on Abbie Smith’s ERV blog where she scrambled the comments that a pro-ID blogger Julie Haberle was making on the blog, and then telling Ms. Haberle to post a nude photo of herself to get the comments unscrambled.”
This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about earlier. Luskin keeps using all kinds of weasel words and sinister insinuations to imply that there is some insidious organized plot by evil Darwinists to stifle the freedoms of the noble IDers. It has been demonstrated time and again (Wedge Document, anyone?) that much of the ID agenda indeed does have as a long term goal getting religion into schools. It has been demonstrated again and again, both in the lab and in the courthouse that ID is not, in fact, science. ID actually has any number of media outlets (like for example David’s blog, “Evolution News and Views”, and so on). The McWhorter-Behe interview, in fact, is still up and available to be viewed by anyone who can use Google to find it (of course, what a horrible hardship that is! Would that the evil overlords of Bloggingheads had not banished this interview from their own easily-accessible site to–well, another easily-accessible site!). Where’s the oppression?
Brass tacks: The Discovery Institute seems to be well-funded enough. Here’s a thought: Instead of all the media and legal cases and such, why don’t they build a lab, get some equipment, hire Behe and anyone else they can get who’s willing and able, and do some research to prove what they claim? As I’ve pointed out several times, the Big Bang theory was widely opposed by the establishment, but enough people were dogged enough to do enough research that it won the day. Many other views have prevailed even against near-universal opposition. If ID can’t stand up for itself, do its own heavy lifting, and fight its own fight, then it doesn’t deserve to prevail.
Two other points: One, claims of persecution and conspiracies are typical among fringe thinkers and pseudo-scientists. Google “anti-gravity”, “perpetual motion”, “orgone”, “cold fusion”, or any other such gems if you want examples. Sometimes legitimate science does face an uphill battle, but in general claims of persecution are a strong indication of pseudoscience. Two, Smith’s reaction to the poster on her blog (post a nude photo of yourself and I’ll unscramble your posts) was crass, but once more, this is a red herring. The politeness or lack thereof of, frankly, a young grad student who (contrary to IDers’ fevered beliefs) does not hold some evil Darth Vader-like power, really is completely irrelevant to anything that we’re talking about here, and Luskin knew this when he made the issue of it. It’s to distract from ID having no leg to stand on.



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Mark

posted August 28, 2009 at 9:53 am


@Turmarion: “…you still have never given a real response to what we’ve been asking you about Maimonides… I know this is getting repetitive, but… ”
Man, that’s just like, “I don’t mean to be a gossip, but let me tell you about what Gladys did…”
Can’t you wait until David’s next post on Maimonides or something?
“David’s post wasn’t about the interview per se–it was about the purported sinister forces at work in getting it removed. Thus, why should Gabriel have commented on the interview itself? ”
I see your point, but don’t forget that David also wrote “A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, McWhorter clearly has been thinking and reading about the subject for years. He makes a stimulating, well informed interviewer for Behe.”



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Mergatroid

posted August 28, 2009 at 10:00 am


Funny, the different headlines about Smith and Behe:
Evolution News & Views: Pandas Thumb Fails to Refute Michael Behe … Aug 7, 2007
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/08/pandasthumb_fails.html
vs
ERV & HIV versus Behe. Behe loses. – The Panda’s Thumb
pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/08/erv-hiv-versus.html



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Mark

posted August 28, 2009 at 10:52 am


I guess the owners of BloggingHeads discovered that McWorther was actually none other than Bradley Monton in disguise. Damn sockpuppet!



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Turmarion

posted August 28, 2009 at 12:24 pm


Mark: Point taken–I have removed the clause, “I know this is getting repetitive, but…” for future posts, since I have no problem with repeating it again and again and again. David’s next Maimonides post will probably just take the Rambam out of context again. He says he wants dialogue and discussion, and yet pointedly refuses even to acknowledge questions he could easily answer. Thus, I have no problem with continuing to prod.
Mergatroid, it is hardly unheard of for both sides in a dispute to claim victory. When people not affiliated with the Discovery Institute start saying that Behe has won the day, or the DI does so much original research that they can prove their case, then we’ll see.



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Mark

posted August 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm


Is it just because I tend towards judging people favorably?
When I saw “positively Stalinist” I just saw hyperbole, and forgot about it.



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Todd White

posted August 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm


Very fascinating!



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ERV

posted August 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm


Oh how creepy! Apparently the fact its +100 degrees in Oklahoma in July, I have pretty eyes, and Im cheerful means that Im ‘flirting with David Klinghoffer’!!
*collapses in a pile of giggles*
LOL! Oh, honey, promise me you wont try to kill Ronald Reagan to win my love!
AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!



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ERV

posted August 28, 2009 at 6:34 pm


Oh, and also, tits.
ROFL!!!!



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Jeb, FCD

posted August 28, 2009 at 7:07 pm


It’s hard to be civil with people who knowingly lie, obfuscate, and continually move goalposts while not addressing any facts.
TITS or GTFO!



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted August 28, 2009 at 7:09 pm


“Does this young lady, who also blogs, ever challenge Myers on anything?”
Well if she chose to do so she’d be formidable.
Behe found that out the hard way. She simply castrated Behe when the two of them crossed swords. Behe *also* made the mistake of calling her a “young lady” failing to recognize she is an impressive scientist who easily pointed out an elementary error in Behe’s Edge of Evolution.
Only after Behe attempted the “young lady” gambit was he forced to admit she was right all along.
David, you scientific knowledge is no match for this young lady’s. Don’t cross her–you’re out of your league.
This “young lady’s” research contributions to the study of ERV’s greatly exceeds the total scientific output of the entire Discovery Institute.



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 28, 2009 at 7:11 pm


Hello, ERV, thanks for visiting. Who said anything about flirting with me? It was the interaction between interviewer and interviewee that I was writing about. I asked, if it’s a distanced and neutral stance toward the interviewee that’s required on Bloggingheads, why does the interview with Behe fail to pass muster, necessitating its being taken down, while yours is unproblematic? Clearly it’s the heretical subject matter that offended somebody, who then intimidated poor McWhorter. The contrast with Abigail Smith Talks To PZ Myers proves that. Which was my only reason for mentioning you. Sorry if that disappoints.



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afarensis, FCG

posted August 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm


“Tits or GTFO” is one way of saying “put up or shut up”. Contrary to creationists myth making on the issue, no requests for nude photos were asked for, rather the person was asked to back up their verbal diarrhea with evidence rather than blank assertions.



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ERV

posted August 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm


Afarensis is a ~3 million year old fossil, and even he understands the internet better than Creationists, *LAUGH!*
David– Why thank YOU for actually linking to me! Ken Ham wont even say PZs name, much less link to him, much less shower PZ with complements!
OT, if you have a problem with the video being EXPEEEELLLLDD!!!1!11! you need to take it up with McWhorter. Every person (evilutionists included) in the comment thread linked to the discussion wanted it up. I wanted it up.
Why do you think I linked to the video in my post if I was a scarded of what Behe said and wanted it censored?
*rolleyes*



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 28, 2009 at 8:25 pm


Ah hah, so ERV are you saying you didn’t pose the choice to that lady of having her comments unscrambled in return for her posting a compromising photo? If so, my apologies for charging you with an inaccurately reported style of vulgarity. Maybe you can supply a link to that exchange. I didn’t say, either, that you wanted the video censored. Do try to understand that even if your name comes up in a blog post or conversation or whatever, the main issue at hand isn’t then by definition about you. This revelation will help you go far in life!



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Your Name

posted August 28, 2009 at 9:10 pm


David.
ALERT!!
You have a real biologist here! Why don’t you ask *the young lady* something about biology instead of tits? You might learn something.
Let me suggest a question you can ask her: “How does the study of the HIV virus provide evidence for or against evolution?”



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afarensis, FCG

posted August 29, 2009 at 9:58 am


The link is here:
http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2008/08/idiots_and_ervs.php#comment-1074114
Now, perhaps, you would be good enough to correct your post. I ask because if you are going to fling accusations of Orwellian behavior it would be a good idea if you didn’t engage in them yourself….



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Justin Grant

posted August 29, 2009 at 11:01 am


Note to self – “Revelations” on blogs from creationists who can’t tell the difference between astrology and the study of DNA “will help me go far in life.”
Got it.



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ERV

posted August 29, 2009 at 11:11 am


Holy crap, Kinghoffer, ‘TITS or GTFO’ is as old as the internet. Are you seriously this pop-culture illiterate? http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/index.php/GTFO
And hey, why didnt you ask Caseytits for the link? Maybe because the post in question illustrates the fact he is a complete moron and an arrogant twat? http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2008/08/idiots_and_ervs.php
AND, why dont you take ‘CENZORSHEEP!’ up with ‘whoisyourcreator’, who bans dissent from *her* forum, so she trolls other peoples blags for sitehits? WIYC was scrambled for a week. She never posted TITS for her claims, so they were left scrambled until an MT upgrade. She apparently lost interest in my blog when I deleted links to her site from her comments. IOW, TROLL. But hey, BillyD requires trolling for his classes, so not surprising Creationists find teasing trolls ‘OFFEEEEENCEEEVE!’ Meanwhile, BillyD bans any dissent from *his* blag. Oh, way to get the logs outta your own eye, Creationist. ROFL!!
From this encounter its rather clear you have the critical thinking skills and natural curiosity of a carrot. Pretty much *the* definition of a Creationist. Way to go, Ace!



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Turmarion

posted August 30, 2009 at 12:45 am


You know, I got to thinking about it, and I realized that this thread is a perfect distillation of the whole absurdity of this blog, of the Discovery Institute, and of the entire ID project.
Consider: When you boil it down, there is one and only one criterion on the whole issue, to wit, is there compelling scientific evidence for evolutionary theory? The simple, unambiguous answer from anyone who understands the relevant fields of science is, yes, the evidence is not only compelling but overwhelming!. It is in fact so overwhelming that even people like Behe and Dembski, who, though ID proponents, at least understand some science, do not deny common descent and the vast majority of evolutionary theory. This makes their insistence on the need of a Designer to “tweak” it even odder, but even they have the intellectual integrity to reject young-Earth creationism and to acknowledge most of evolutionary theory. They’re not that crazy.
The only legitimate line of attack for IDers would be to massively finance huge amounts of research to demonstrate that they are the ones who are, in fact, correct. The problem is that no amount of research dollars can prove something that is false. You could spend a billion dollars and never prove that 2+2=7642! This is the same reason that even the research funded by Big Tobacco couldn’t prove that smoking is harmless.
So, if you’re unalterably opposed to X but realize on some level that you can’t actually disprove X (in short, that X is actually true), what do you do? Simple–obfuscate and change the subject. This is what Big Tobacco did when it tried to argue personal freedoms or rights of adults to “choose” to smoke (though most began as kids or teens) or to say, “Hey, our product is legal!”, and such–anything but talk about what smoking does to you!
This has been the same approach of the ID movement–their continual fighting of the long-lost Dover case is just the most obvious example. David’s blog, in particular, shows it in spades. Remember–scientific proof of evolution (which is ample) is the only valid criterion. So what does David do? He tries to distract our attention from the lack of a shred of evidence for ID by
–calling evolutionary theorists ugly names by claiming they’re responsible for Hitler, Manson, the Holocaust Museum shooter, and pretty much everything else but bad hair days
–arguing that the views of centuries-dead philosophers oppose evolution (when of course the only ones whose opinions count are those who’ve lived since 1859; and their opinions count not as to whether evolution is true, but as to how it is to be reconciled with religion)
–having an entire post about whether or not Epicurus advocated masturbation (!)
–arguing whether God has a body (too long to go into, trust me)
–talking about the implications of strip clubs for evolutionary theory (!)
–and so on.
This post, though, is a true gem. We see David
–call the admins of Bloggingheads.tv “Stalinist”
–imply that sinister minions of Robert Wright (oh, the horror!) have somehow “leaned on” poor John McWhorter to extract a retraction from him
–gripe about the language at scienceblogs
–speculate as to Abigail’s tank top
–calle Abigail a flirt, while probably intending and implying some less polite term
–apparently give a false story of what’s even going on over there
–linked to an article where Luskin whines about how rude and impolite the other side is
–whine that Bloggingheads.tv treats those nasty evolutionists better than it does IDers
–imply that a discussion between a linguist and a biologist is somehow as conducive to understanding biology as a conversation between two biologists
Please note: Not one of these things has the slightest scintilla of relevance to the scientific case for evolution!!!!!!! I mean, that’s par for the course, but I realized after the heat of the posting moment passed just how completely over-the-top it is here. I almost feel bad for helping feed it by even posting at all!
I mean really–isn’t it evident how crazy this is? Well, crazy like a fox, at least, if it keeps us from thinking about the actual subject, I guess.
David admits he has no science training, and in itself, that’s no shame. Not everyone is a scientist, or mathematician, or doctor, or lawyer, or whatever. However, after admitting this, he tries to cite pure junk science and promote people of no standing at all in the scientific community.
I could almost overlook that, but he says this is a blog about the cultural, religious, and philosophical issues involved. He can’t even play straight there. Frankly, I think he is somewhat out of his depth. This is the part of my personality where I’m an arrogant &^%$##@–so a fair alert!–but I have noticed over the years that people trained in the sciences often have a fairly good appreciation of liberal arts and even theology and philosophy, for those so inclined. People in the liberal arts not only don’t understand science as well as scientists understand liberal arts (remember that Oppenheimer read the Bhaghavadgita in the original Sanskrit, and that Einstein and Teller were near concert-level musicians), but often seem not even to get their own side right. Nothing personal to any liberal arts types around–I’m not saying that of all of you. Still, David here represents the type of thing I mean.
He’ll quote Maimonides in teeny snippets that omit context and don’t even give citations. Then when I give the entire passage and cite the translation I have, he keeps mum. He blithely asserts that Epicurus advocated–well, spanking the monkey–and then when I (and some others) asked for a citation, he backs off and says, “Well, I meant Lucretius….” Still no context, mind–I’ve dug out my translation of De rerum natura and am going to be working through it in the near future, just for kicks. Recently he quoted rabbinical authorities and interpreted the very passages he gave in pretty much the exact opposite of their clear meaning (as a few Jewish posters quickly pointed out, though it was pretty clear to many of us goyim, too). This incredibly irksome because it makes it abundantly clear that David doesn’t really understand what he’s quoting. I don’t know if it’s haste, desperation, sloppiness, intentional dropping of red herrings, or what. And of course, he gets called on it again and again and again and responds with–crickets. I mean, come on, I don’t expect him to talk articulately about nucleotides or endogenous retrovirus or such, but if can’t he get the stuff he is talking about right?
Of course, as I said, the whole thing is an obfuscation, a sharp “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” to get us to look away from the fact that evolution is–well, a fact. And in a sense those of us who post here to argue are helping him out by even bothering! On the other hand, one does have to counter speech with speech, and who knows, maybe some who’ve come by here maybe half-believing in ID’s junk science have been corrected on the matter. Still, this post is a bit disheartening. As I’ve said before, and stand by, David can write very well, movingly, and eloquently when he writes about religion (by itself, not contra evolution!), family, and his personal experiences. It is truly a tragedy that for whatever reason he feels the need to write in such an uncharitable, close-minded, and even dishonest manner when he writes on evolution or right-wing politics.
One ancillary thing–full apologies to ERV for any negative statements I made about her. In a fit of temporary insanity brought on by excessive haste and lack of sleep, I took David more at his word than the links since then indicate that I should have. Bad Turmarion–boot to the head! Our, shall we say, phraseology, differs in ways attributable to generational differences and temperament, but we’re on the same side. High five, girl! ;)



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 30, 2009 at 1:26 am


You know what, ERV, if I’m a pop-culture illiterate as you say, and if not knowing what you meant by that phrase proves it, then to me that’s a relief. Profanity without shame, the total lack of embarrassment in animalism that’s endemic to the Internet, is depressing evidence of the direction our culture has taken. Why depressing? Because of the stupidity and lack of imagination, the utter absence of wit, that it represents. Can’t say it intelligently? Then say it with profanity. The persona represented in your writing is a wonderful illustration of exactly the kind of cultural decay that Darwinism set in motion. Congratulations, you are a terrific advertisement for why the critique of Darwinism, science aside, is socially necessary.
Now to business. I clicked on the link you provided and quickly decided it’s not worth scrolling through and deciphering the exchange in the thread, including your own comments. I’m happy to assume that I misunderstood and therefore misrepresented the exact meaning of your vulgarity. So I’ll take down the last graf in that post and confer upon you here my apology for it — for it alone, however. As a bonus, I won’t unpublish your comments here up to this point though normally, because of the crude language, I would do so. The old rules for comments on this blog resume now.



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What's Good for the Goose

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:03 am


Yes David. It’s like comedians. The really good ones, with rare exceptions, don’t have to cuss or use scatological references to get a laugh. People with real intellects don’t have to be profane and rude to make a point.
I remain puzzled by the emotionalism of the attacks against you, in a blog about belief. Methinks that the Darwinists are feeling insecure. Nothing else explains their rage.



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Bill

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:48 am


Welcome to the “Freethinkers” utopia.
2+2=5.



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:04 pm


Because, “Zalman,” you share an IP address, a writing style, and a perspective with bradley, luntz, s. freed, grover, “posted for a friend,” etc., about 20+ different names. The purpose of sock puppetry is of course to create the illusion that many people hold your view when in fact only one person does. If you’d like to get in touch with me at my Discovery Institute email and establish one identity, I would be happy to allow you to post comments. Otherwise I’ll continue to erase your comments. That’s easy for me — monitoring the comments for abuses is part of my responsibilities here, so I do it anyway — but this is the last occasion that I’ll waste time writing to you, unless you can establish one identity and stick with it.



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Turmarion

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm


David: Can’t say it intelligently? Then say it with profanity.
What’s Good for the Goose: People with real intellects don’t have to be profane and rude to make a point.
I tend to agree that the current generation has a mode of expression that’s rather gleefully profane, far beyond any need, but that’s not extremely new–it’s been getting that way for twenty years or more. I might also point out that it is sufficiently universal as to be no indicator of intelligence. If you read ERV’s stuff on biology or actually listen to her interview with Meyers, she obviously is quite intelligent and knows exactly what she’s talking about. As I noted, this is just one more misdirection. Since ID has no proof, its proponents try to argue about arguing itself (is it rude or crude?). God forbid we should stay on topic.
David: Congratulations, you are a terrific advertisement for why the critique of Darwinism, science aside, is socially necessary.
But the science is never aside. As usual, David has it exactly backwards. You don’t say something is false because you don’t like it. They tried that with Galileo, and it didn’t work. You say, “Is it true?” and then you work on the ramifications.
Look, if something is true, then any negative effects flowing from it are not solved by saying it’s not true, but by fixing people’s attitudes. After evolutionary theory was developed, some people used it as an excuse to promote bad ideas, e.g. so-called “social Darwinism”. This happens with most new scientific ideas–the amount of hokum promoted in the name of quantum physics is truly astounding. As usual, such stuff is almost always promoted by people who don’t actuallly understand the science (e.g. few quantum physicists promote New Age thought, and few biologists promote or promoted eugenics or social Darwinism). The goal should be not to prove evolution wrong (because the proof for it is too overwhelming, it can’t be proved wrong), but to explain why the “conclusions” drawn from it and the thinking that led to them are wrong. In short, show why social Darwinism and eugenics are wrong and immoral and do not necessarily derive from Darwin’s theory; not why “Darwinism” is wrong.
Analogy: Before WWII it’s probably fair to say that the majority of Christians, or at least a very large plurality, had at least some anti-Semitic beliefs. After the war and in the wake of the Holocaust, thankfully, most mainstream Christians repudiated anti-Semitism. Consider, though–would it have been better to have tried to get Christians to abandon Christianity in order to fight anti-Semitism? Or was what actually happened, that is, disentangling anti-Semitism from Christianity, better? Most of us would say the latter. So likewise (yes, the analogy limps–evolutionary theory is not a religion), the issue shouldn’t be fighting evolution, but dientangling from it its purported descendents.
What’s Good for the Goose: Methinks that the Darwinists are feeling insecure. Nothing else explains their rage.
Gee, Goose, I dunno. If someone told you that everything your career was based on was wrong, but failed to provide proof; if they accused you of being the root of pretty much every evil in the modern world; if they compared you to Hitler and Stalin and Charles Manson; if they blamed you for the Holocaust; if they said you were destructive of religion and morality; and if they called you a fool, a dupe, or a liar if you denied that you were in bad faith and that you were in fact a believer; if someone did all these things to you, you might get a little peeved, don’t you think?
I return once more to a simple fact: if the DI and allies really have a case, they could put all the money they’re using for smears and disinformation and put it into basic research and prove their point. That they don’t speaks more than all the malarkey they say put together.



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Joseph

posted August 31, 2009 at 9:56 am


It does not matter what one thinks of ID or Behe or the interview. It is simply an intolerant act to take down an interview because one thinks it ignorant, wrong or misleading. Leave the interview and critique the bad science,lies or whatever, but why the intolerance? The comments are full of attacking persons rather than making arguments. Attack arguments not persons.



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Glen Davidson

posted August 31, 2009 at 11:24 am


The irony is that Wright himself has stood out from other Darwinists for his honesty and openness.

Said by a person who does not in the least stand out from the rest of the IDiots for either intelligence or honesty.
You know, someone who lies constantly about others really has no veracity when it comes to judging how honest another is.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Turmarion

posted August 31, 2009 at 11:25 am


Joseph: It is simply an intolerant act to take down an interview because one thinks it ignorant, wrong or misleading. Leave the interview and critique the bad science,lies or whatever….
Agreed–I think it should have been left up, much as I disagree with Behe–but I think it’s still up in the air as to why Blogginheads took it down to begin with. Has anyone considered that McWhorter may have really asked that it be taken down, not because of coercion but for his own personal reasons? Until we hear from him or someone from Blogginheads, we just don’t know. Anything further from either perspective is jumping to conclusions.



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Mark

posted August 31, 2009 at 12:30 pm


@Turmarion: “Since ID has no proof, its proponents try to argue about arguing itself (is it rude or crude?).”
But don’t several authors who are theistic evolutionists ALSO try to argue their position, despite the fact they have no proof? (Obviously, I’m not talking about just evolution, but /theistic/ evolution.)
“After the war and in the wake of the Holocaust, thankfully, most mainstream Christians repudiated anti-Semitism.”
Jews reading this would feel a lot more at ease if you didn’t have to add the word “mainstream” in there.



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Turmarion

posted August 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm


Mark: But don’t several authors who are theistic evolutionists ALSO try to argue their position, despite the fact they have no proof?
Strictly, the existence of God can be neither proved nor disproved. What theistic evolution tries to do is to show that evolution is not inconsistent with God’s existence. Really, TE is more a matter of philosophy. It accepts the science as it is, and then uses philosophical arguments to show that it is possible to see God at work even through natural, random processes. To say that it is possible to think of God as working through evolution is very much different from saying you can prove He exists, or making predictions about biological processes. No TE advocate I know of claims he can prove God’s existence.
ID by contrast claims that certain processes cannot be explained short of by what is essentially direct Divine intervention. In effect it claims to be science, not philosophy, and makes negative predictions, i.e., it predicts that no mechanisms will be found to explain certain processes (e.g. flagella or the clotting cascade). Unfortunately for ID, all such examples it has given have later been shown to be explicable by ordinary natural means as a result of scientific research (none of which ID does, btw).
The point is that the science is unassailable, and TE doesn’t try to reject it, whereas ID does.
“After the war and in the wake of the Holocaust, thankfully, most mainstream Christians repudiated anti-Semitism.”
Jews reading this would feel a lot more at ease if you didn’t have to add the word “mainstream” in there.
Maybe I should have said “all Christians but those on the fringe”. I don’t think there is any significant number of people who claim to be Christian who are also anti-Semitic, but that doesn’t meant there are none. It’s not perfect, but I think Jews have more reason to feel at ease in modern America than in most other places over the last couple of millennia.



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Mark

posted August 31, 2009 at 2:21 pm


“What theistic evolution tries to do is to show that evolution is not inconsistent with God’s existence. Really, TE is more a matter of philosophy. It accepts the science as it is, and then uses philosophical arguments to show that it is possible to see God at work even through natural, random processes. To say that it is possible to think of God as working through evolution is very much different from saying you can prove He exists, or making predictions about biological processes. No TE advocate I know of claims he can prove God’s existence.”
For what it’s worth, I said “argue”, not “prove.” I’m very disappointed that TE, at least in your experience, is only willing to show that it is “possible” to see God at work, and that evolution is “not inconsistent” with God’s existence. I mean, big deal. They should be a little more daring and at least try to argue that it is very, very unlikely that evolution could have occurred /without/ God’s involvement. “Possible” and “not inconsistent” is just wimpy. I’m not saying TE is wrong, but it doesn’t seem to address the needs of Christians who, based on their scientific knowledge, are doubting the existence of God. Doubting the truth of those science-related portions of Scripture, yes, but not doubting the existence of God.
Oh, and different people in ID argue differently. Don’t broadbrush. Some go for the proof, “the things in nature must’ve been designed” and some are less strident: “the things we see in nature are most consistent with design.”



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Turmarion

posted August 31, 2009 at 4:06 pm


Mark: I’m very disappointed that TE, at least in your experience, is only willing to show that it is “possible” to see God at work, and that evolution is “not inconsistent” with God’s existence. I mean, big deal. They should be a little more daring and at least try to argue that it is very, very unlikely that evolution could have occurred /without/ God’s involvement.
Well, the issue is what you have to work with. Galileo’s theory ws thought to be a threat to faith. One (among many) reasons was that if the Earth was seen as the center of the universe, it was easier for people to think of mankind as the center of God’s creation. On an abstract level this may be a valid point; but the evidence just wasn’t there. The Church had to give way, since it became clear that the Earth went around the sun, period.
Another example: Basing themselves on Aristotelian physics, Christians up until the Renaissance believed that angels moved the planets. A comforting thought of God’s involvement in the universe, but it was knocked out by Kepler and Newton. Thus instead of it being “very, very unlikely” that planets could move “without God’s involvement”, it was now a matter of planetary movement being “not inconsistent” with God’s providential ordering of gravity. Small beer for some believers, perhaps, but what do you do? Reality is what it is.
This is how it is with evolution. There simply is no really good, demonstrable point at which the evidence compels one to say, “Gee, there’s no way this could happen by natural processes.” Thus, one is compelled to think in terms of what is possible and consistent with God.
“Possible” and “not inconsistent” is just wimpy. I’m not saying TE is wrong, but it doesn’t seem to address the needs of Christians who, based on their scientific knowledge, are doubting the existence of God.
Well, that’s the rub. I can sympathize with such people, but one can’t promote something that’s just not correct to make people feel better. I would recommend in such cases that more knowledge, not less, is the solution, and that such people should read people like Francis Collins or Ken Miller or C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, which addresses aspects of this issue. I would argue also that the existence of a universe amenable to life at all is evidence for God.
In the end, though, God obviously wished to make His existence much less than clear. All believers have to be content, to an extent, with the statement of Isaiah 45:15: “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God.”



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Mark

posted August 31, 2009 at 7:57 pm


Nice post, Turmarion. By the way, that Isaiah verse should be learned at the same time as Job 19:26: “Through my flesh, I see my Creator.”



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